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Our Ten Favorite Facebook Groups

Until yesterday, 'I Read Mental Floss' was our favorite Facebook Group. Then Evan Schiller showed us these.

1. Group Name:

"I feel bad when I see kids on a leash"
Description: In the old days, leashes were the domain of domesticated animals and the occasional dominatrix. Not anymore. Today's parents simply strap a harness across their kid's chest, grab the reins, and hope to keep their offspring on course. A suburban Iditarod. This group takes issue with the burgeoning child/leash phenomenon. They feel bad for the kids. You know who needs the sympathy? The leash. The only thing keeping some hyperactive little snot off the third-rail is a measly piece of nylon. That's a great deal of pressure to put on an inanimate object. The group purports, "if I was put on a leash I would be scarred for life." That's a bit dramatic, and actually, scientifically flawed. Scarred for life is what happens when an unwieldy child runs into the middle of the road when he hears the ice cream truck coming. Truth be told, when one considers the next logical step in terms of child rearing "“ the taser "“ a leash seems like, well"¦ child's play.
Members: 4,142
Best Wall Post: "My mom used to attach this green slinky-like thing to both of our wrists when I was really little. I will never forgive her."

2. Group Name:

"I cheated at 'Book It!' to get free pizza"
book-it.jpgDescription: This group is for those who participated in Pizza Hut's "Book It!" reading program in elementary school and cheated the system to get free pizza. According to Pizza Hut's website, "Book It! motivates children to read by rewarding their reading accomplishments with praise, recognition and pizza"¦ Goals are based on reading ability. Number of books, number of pages, or number of minutes "“ they all work." While the program purports remarkable success, including a whopping 22 million participants, this Facebook group, and others like it, reveal a much more sinister reality. Reading for the sake of reading has been usurped by pretending to read to get free pizza. And they say Americans are fat and stupid. Go figure.
Members: 113
Best Wall Post: "I remember one time I needed to read one more book so on the sheet I made up some book and when it came to the author I looked around the room and saw some civil war books and came up with the name 'Abraham Wall Lee.' It was such BS now that I look back on it, but that pizza was worth it."

3. Group Name:

"The only reason I went to elementary school was to play Oregon Trail"

oregon_trail2.jpgDescription: In 1985, when Oregon Trail was released on floppy disk, the world changed forever. The days of learning about Manifest Destiny and real Oregon Trail were finally behind us. More important matters, like shooting buffalo and learning to ford virtual rivers, were quickly taking precedence. Rather than bother children with actual historical events, Oregon Trail brought some life's most valuable lessons to light. For instance, according to the group, "typhoid and cholera really aren't that big of a deal" and, "if you lose two family members, 3 oxen, and 400 bullets while fording the river, it is better than paying some Indian $5 to help." And we ask, "Is our children learning?" The answer is decidedly "yes."
Members: 9,864
Best Wall Post: "JIMMY'S GOT TYPHOID!"

4. Group Name:

'I love it when bus drivers wave to each other'

Description: The most interesting part of this group is found its description, which reads like a lazily constructed haiku with little regard for syllabilic constraints:

every time
the driver give each other a little wave
and its amazing

busdriver.jpgThe connection between bus drivers is magical. Like a pitcher's ability to communicate with his catcher through a furtive nod and the faintest twitch of a finger, bus drivers too have a secret, unspoken code. If you've ever witnessed a bus driver selflessly make room for his comrade, waiting patiently as another bus merges into traffic, it becomes clear that bus drivers have attained nirvana. They are completely at peace, utterly gracious, brazenly benevolent. If bus drivers ruled the world there would be no war.
Members: 1,057
Best Wall Post: "...waving at bus drivers when not a bus driver is forbidden in the UK. you would die....seriously."

5. Group Name:

"If this group reaches 15k people, Kevin and I will have a pinecone eat-off!"

pinecones.jpgDescription: Once upon a time Facebook was only open to a select group of well-mannered college students. It was a tame, sterile place. "Poking" was considered risqué. But times have changed. And it has become increasingly apparent that Facebook is devolving into barbarism. It's an open-source free-for-all, sullied by graffiti walls, super pokes, and groups like this one. The group, and the high-speed pinecone-eating contest it sponsors, is both a testament to this shift, and proof that society has officially lost its way. The rules of the eat-off state: "5 cones each, 30 minutes on the clock. First one to finish his lineup of cones is the victor (unless time runs out, then furthest along at time wins)." Sickening. Just sickening. Now if you'll excuse me, Fear Factor is on.
Members: 1,450
Best Wall Post: "I don't know who Kevin is, but anyone willing to eat pinecones deserves me to back them up!"

6. Group Name:

"Chairman Miaow & Herman Gerbils"
catgun.jpgDescription: There's something to be said for irreverent puns. I'm not sure what, but decidedly, there is. If you haven't yet found a connection between cuddly domesticated animals and sadistic, imperialist dictators, you just aren't looking hard enough. This group is all about forging that all-important link. According to the group's mantra, "you get extra points for the more amusing the animal and the more controversial the bastion of evil. And vice-versa." Well, thank goodness. At first I thought there was no point to the whole charade.
Members: 18
Best Wall Post: "A little tenuous, but a fish/roman emperor searching for his father: Finding Nero?"

7. Group Name:

"Every Slinky I owned got Jacked Up at Some Point"
slinky.jpgDescription: Unfortunately, astute observations only go so far. The group's premise is spot on, but they offer little by way of solutions. Make no mistake, the slinky is the tip of the iceberg. Maybe I'm paranoid, but in my humble opinion, a host of modern-day products are alive. If not, explain how my headphone wires spontaneously become a useless, bewildering muddle whenever I leave them unattended. The same thing happens to wires behind the TV, or a computer. They're like unruly jungle vines. How can it be that wires, untouched for months, do this?
Members: 197
Best Wall Post: "Slinky + Escalator = Endless fun"

8. Group Name:

"Air Bud gave me false expectations about my dog's basketball skills"
airBud.jpgDescription: Thanks to film and television, I've grown to despise my dog's ineptitude. He's mind-numbingly naïve. For instance, while my pooch is busy chasing his tail, as if it posed some real and present danger to his life, Lassie is off saving lives and making Timmy like the happiest kid on the face of the earth. But when Air Bud came along, my shame sunk to new lows. It took me the better part of my summer vacation in third grade to teach my dog to roll over. But Air Bud can dunk with his nose? That's bulls*#t. Disney has been doing this for years. In fact, when you take a step back, real life is pretty terrible compared to a Disney movie. Coupled with the whole "Be Like Mike" charade, which convinced thousands of gullible children that Gatorade was the key to athletic greatness, Air Bud more or less ruined my relationship with my dog and destroyed my aspirations of making it to the NBA.
Members: 134
Best Wall Post: "I used to try and try when I was little to get my dog to play some b-ball. It never worked. Thanks so much, you smug little golden retriever."

9. Group Name:

rudy.jpg"1,000,000 Strong For Rudy Giuliani"

Description: They've got a ways to go.
Members: 4
Best Wall Post: N/A. Apparently, Rudy's supporters are too busy with the recruitment effort to post comments on the wall. [Rudy has plenty of other Facebook groups. But this was obviously our favorite.]

10. Group Name:

"Bring Back Captain Planet to Stop Global Warming"
planet.jpgDescription: Captain Planet can pretty much do anything. He can fly, he has super strength and the ability to blow hurricane force winds, he's capable of telekinesis, and he can even change shape and transmute matter. The only thing he can't do is tolerate ungodly carbon emissions. And who can blame him? The earth is falling apart. The children of the world need a hero, not a monotone former Vice President. Today's children worship purple dinosaurs, and some sponge that lives in pineapple under the sea. What kind of perverted message does this send to young people? No one can live in a pineapple under the sea. And if they did, they'll soon be extinct because Captain Planet is off the air.
Members: 7,555
Best Wall Post: "I didn't realize 'Heart' was an element."

If you feel compelled to join one of these groups, let us know which one. If you'd like to come clean about cheating at Book It! to get free pizza, we'll support you. And stay tuned for a mental_floss Facebook application. For now, join our growing support group "I Read Mental Floss."

Evan Schiller is an occasional contributor to mentalfloss.com. He recently started a blog called Conventional Stupidity.

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entertainment
13 Fascinating Facts About Nina Simone
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Nina Simone, who would’ve celebrated her 85th birthday today, was known for using her musical platform to speak out. “I think women play a major part in opening the doors for better understanding around the world,” the “Strange Fruit” songstress once said. Though she chose to keep her personal life shrouded in secrecy, these facts grant VIP access into a life well-lived and the music that still lives on.

1. NINA SIMONE WAS HER STAGE NAME.

The singer was born as Eunice Waymon on February 21, 1933. But by age 21, the North Carolina native was going by a different name at her nightly Atlantic City gig: Nina Simone. She hoped that adopting a different name would keep her mother from finding out about her performances. “Nina” was her boyfriend’s nickname for her at the time. “Simone” was inspired by Simone Signoret, an actress that the singer admired.

2. SHE HAD HUMBLE BEGINNINGS.


Getty Images

There's a reason that much of the singer's music had gospel-like sounds. Simone—the daughter of a Methodist minister and a handyman—was raised in the church and started playing the piano by ear at age 3. She got her start in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina, where she played gospel hymns and classical music at Old St. Luke’s CME, the church where her mother ministered. After Simone died on April 21, 2003, she was memorialized at the same sanctuary.

3. SHE WAS BOOK SMART...

Simone, who graduated valedictorian of her high school class, studied at the prestigious Julliard School of Music for a brief period of time before applying to Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Unfortunately, Simone was denied admission. For years, she maintained that her race was the reason behind the rejection. But a Curtis faculty member, Vladimir Sokoloff, has gone on record to say that her skin color wasn’t a factor. “It had nothing to do with her…background,” he said in 1992. But Simone ended up getting the last laugh: Two days before her death, the school awarded her an honorary degree.

4. ... WITH DEGREES TO PROVE IT.

Simone—who preferred to be called “doctor Nina Simone”—was also awarded two other honorary degrees, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Malcolm X College.

5. HER CAREER WAS ROOTED IN ACTIVISM.

A photo of Nina Simone circa 1969

Gerrit de Bruin

At the age of 12, Simone refused to play at a church revival because her parents had to sit at the back of the hall. From then on, Simone used her art to take a stand. Many of her songs in the '60s, including “Mississippi Goddamn,” “Why (The King of Love Is Dead),” and “Young, Gifted and Black,” addressed the rampant racial injustices of that era.

Unfortunately, her activism wasn't always welcome. Her popularity diminished; venues didn’t invite her to perform, and radio stations didn’t play her songs. But she pressed on—even after the Civil Rights Movement. In 1997, Simone told Interview Magazine that she addressed her songs to the third world. In her own words: “I’m a real rebel with a cause.”

6. ONE OF HER MOST FAMOUS SONGS WAS BANNED.

Mississippi Goddam,” her 1964 anthem, only took her 20 minutes to an hour to write, according to legend—but it made an impact that still stands the test of time. When she wrote it, Simone had been fed up with the country’s racial unrest. Medger Evers, a Mississippi-born civil rights activist, was assassinated in his home state in 1963. That same year, the Ku Klux Klan bombed a Birmingham Baptist church and as a result, four young black girls were killed. Simone took to her notebook and piano to express her sentiments.

“Alabama's gotten me so upset/Tennessee made me lose my rest/And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam,” she sang.

Some say that the song was banned in Southern radio stations because “goddam” was in the title. But others argue that the subject matter is what caused the stations to return the records cracked in half.

7. SHE NEVER HAD A NUMBER ONE HIT.

Nina Simone released over 40 albums during her decades-spanning career including studio albums, live versions, and compilations, and scored 15 Grammy nominations. But her highest-charting (and her first) hit, “I Loves You, Porgy,” peaked at #2 on the U.S. R&B charts in 1959. Still, her music would go on to influence legendary singers like Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin.

8. SHE USED HER STYLE TO MAKE A STATEMENT.

Head wraps, bold jewelry, and floor-skimming sheaths were all part of Simone’s stylish rotation. In 1967, she wore the same black crochet fishnet jumpsuit with flesh-colored lining for the entire year. Not only did it give off the illusion of her being naked, but “I wanted people to remember me looking a certain way,” she said. “It made it easier for me.”

9. SHE HAD MANY HOMES.

New York City, Liberia, Barbados, England, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands were all places that Simone called home. She died at her home in Southern France, and her ashes were scattered in several African countries.

10. SHE HAD A FAMOUS INNER CIRCLE.

During the late '60s, Simone and her second husband Andrew Stroud lived next to Malcolm X and his family in Mount Vernon, New York. He wasn't her only famous pal. Simone was very close with playwright Lorraine Hansberry. After Hansberry’s death, Simone penned “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” in her honor, a tribute to Hansberry's play of the same title. Simone even struck up a brief friendship with David Bowie in the mid-1970s, who called her every night for a month to offer his advice and support.

11. YOU CAN STILL VISIT SIMONE IN HER HOMETOWN.

Photo of Nina Simone
Amazing Nina Documentary Film, LLC, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

In 2010, an 8-foot sculpture of Eunice Waymon was erected in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina. Her likeness stands tall in Nina Simone Plaza, where she’s seated and playing an eternal song on a keyboard that floats in midair. Her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, gave sculptor Zenos Frudakis some of Simone’s ashes to weld into the sculpture’s bronze heart. "It's not something very often done, but I thought it was part of the idea of bringing her home," Frudakis said.

12. YOU'VE PROBABLY HEARD HER MUSIC IN RECENT HITS.

Rihanna sang a few verses of Simone’s “Do What You Gotta Do” on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo. He’s clearly a superfan: “Blood on the Leaves” and his duet with Jay Z, “New Day,” feature Simone samples as well, along with Lil’ Wayne’s “Dontgetit,” Common’s “Misunderstood” and a host of other tracks.

13. HER MUSIC IS STILL BEING PERFORMED.

Nina Revisited… A Tribute to Nina Simone was released along with the Netflix documentary in 2015. On the album, Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, Usher, Alice Smith, and more paid tribute to the legend by performing covers of 16 of her most famous tracks.

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NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
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Animals
Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.

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