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"¢ It's intern season. If you'd like to nominate yourself, read the original 'Calling All Interns' post. And if you think your daughter or nephew or the funny hallmate who writes those intrusive but amusing all-dorm emails should apply, please pass along the details.

Monday is the last day to order floss-y gifts that are guaranteed to arrive before Christmas. Our Free Shipping (U.S. only) offer is also good through Monday "“ just enter the code 'SHIP' during checkout. Visit the mental_floss store for t-shirts, calendars, board games and books. Or consider a gift subscription.

"¢ A few great posts from the past week that you may have missed:
7 of History's Most Terrifying Sports Riots
A Brief History of Celebrity Political Endorsements
6 College Pranks (We Wish We Had Thought Of)
13 Nostalgia-Heavy Commercials to Make You Pine for 1987

"¢ We've picked five winners in our 'Design a mental_floss t-shirt' contest. We'll be contacting the victors this week, and rolling out the new shirts in early 2008. Stay tuned.

"¢ It's time to announce the winners of our 'Declare Yourself a Saint (and Win a Book About Your Peers)' contest. The submissions were fantastic. First let me thank our panel of judges: Allison, John, Kevin, Elizabeth-Anne and Dan.

We've expanded the winner's circle to include three readers, who will all receive a copy of This Saint's For You!, plus a few runners-up.

quirk-saint1.jpegWinner #1: I am St. Susan, Patron Saint of Customer Service. Every time you phone your phone company, bank, or car loan company, I am with you. When you have been on hold 30 minutes and have been told that you are the next caller 45 times, I am with you. When the automated voice appreciates your patience 65 times, I am still with you. And when you finally think you are getting a live operator after an hour, but you are disconnected, and when you call back the message states they are on Yakutsk (YAKT) time and are closed, I am still with you.

Pray to me and I bring to you patience and understanding so that you will know that YOU WILL finally get through to someone only to find he/she has limited knowledge of English. Peace be with you. Amen.

Winner #2: I am St. Matt, the patron saint of nervous energy. Pray to me whenever you feel anxious and concerned that you should be doing more with your time. Pray to me while you make restless cell phone calls or text any friend that will listen. I will make you aware that your pacing has got your neighbor feeling seasick, or whisper a reminder in your ear to stop shaking your knee because you are annoying everyone else at the table. You should pray to me during commercial breaks at movie theaters, while waiting in line at Starbucks, or whenever you need to restart your computer for a random Windows update.

I'll do what I can to put your mind at ease, however I may only have a limited time to help since there are so many other things that I should be doing right now.

Amen to that!

Winner #3: I am St Tricia, and there's a 30 percent chance that I'm the Patron Saint of the TV weather people. If you say it's going to be partly cloudy, just ask me and I'll let you call it a more pleasing mostly sunny. Whenever you need to cut into someone's favorite afternoon program to let them know there may or may not be a slight chance of severe thunderstorms and floods, call on me and I'll be there. Just to make sure everyone understands what's going on, I'll help you repeat the same warning 3 times, bringing the "Severe Weather, Death and Destruction Update" to 15 minutes instead of 2. I will also beef up your title to Chief Meteorologist of the World so that you're really respected, even though your forecasts are wrong 5 out of 7 days of the week and you probably don't have a degree in Meteorology. Also call on me for my specialties, arm sweeping ability and all things green-screen. Pray to me that you don't get fired when your boss comes back from golfing soaking wet after you told him it would be sunny. Amen.

And three runners-up who earned free t-shirts...

Runner-up #1: I am St. Korin, Patron Saint of the weird people who look like a giraffe when they run. I will ensure that they provide entertainment for the rest of world without injuring themselves.

Runner-up #2: I am St. Christopher, Patron Saint of urine sample collectors. Pray to me to be able to spot "whizzinators." To be able to detect the presence of excessive Vitmain B consumption. The ability to avoid the Poppy seed false positive. And, most importantly, to not spill any of it on you accidentally.

Runner-up #3:
I am St. Madeleine, patroness of that annoying thing that happens when you encounter someone walking in the opposite direction and you both try to sidestep each other only to wind up face to face again. You know what I'm talking about. Just whisper a quick prayer to me and your path shall be impeded no longer.

(I'll be in touch about getting you your prizes.)

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#TBT
Paw Enforcement: A History of McGruff the Crime Dog
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Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Jack Keil, executive creative director of the Dancer Fitzgerald Sample ad agency, was stuck in a Kansas City airport at three in the morning when he started thinking about Smokey Bear. Smokey was the furred face of forest fire prevention, an amiable creature who cautioned against the hazards of unattended campfires or errant cigarette butts. Everyone, it seemed, knew Smokey and heeded his words.

In 1979, Keil’s agency had been tasked with coming up with a campaign for the recently-instituted National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), a nonprofit organization looking to educate the public about crime prevention. If Keil could create a Smokey for their mission, he figured he would have a hit. He considered an elephant who could stamp out crime, or a rabbit who was hopping mad about illegal activity.

A dog seemed to fit. Dogs bit things, and the NCPC was looking to take a bite out of crime. Keil sketched a dog reminiscent of Snoopy with a Keystone Cop-style hat.

Back at the agency, people loved the idea but hated the dog. In a week’s time, the cartoon animal would morph into McGruff, the world-weary detective who has raised awareness about everything from kidnapping to drug abuse. While he no longer looked like Snoopy, he was about to become just as famous.

In 1979, the public service advertising nonprofit the Ad Council held a meeting to discuss American paranoia. Crime was a hot button issue, with sensational reports about drugs, home invasions, and murders taking up the covers of major media outlets like Newsweek and TIME. Surveys reported that citizens were concerned about crime rates and neighborhood safety. Respondents felt helpless to do anything, since more law enforcement meant increased taxes.

To combat public perception, the Ad Council wanted to commit to an advertising campaign that would act as a preventive measure. Crime could not be stopped, but the feeling was that it could be dented with more informed communities. Maybe a clean park would be less inviting to criminals; people might need to be reminded to lock their doors.

What people did not need was a lecture. So the council enlisted Dancer Fitzgerald Sample to organize a campaign that promoted awareness in the most gentle way possible. Keil's colleagues weighed in on his dog idea; someone suggested that the canine be modeled after J. Edgar Hoover, another saw a Superman-esque dog that would fly in to interrupt crime. Sherry Nemmers and Ray Krivascy offered an alternative take: a dog wearing a trench coat and smoking a cigar, modeled in part after Peter Falk’s performance as the rumpled TV detective Columbo.

Keil had designs on getting Falk to voice the animated character, but the actor’s methodical delivery wasn’t suited to 30-second commercials, so Keil did it himself. His scratchy voice lent an authoritarian tone, but wasn't over-the-top.

The agency ran a contest on the back of cereal boxes to name the dog. “Sherlock Bones” was the most common submission, but "McGruff"—which was suggested by a New Orleans police officer—won out.

Armed with a look, a voice, and a name, Nemmers arranged for a series of ads to run in the fall of 1980. In the spots, McGruff was superimposed over scenes of a burglary and children wary of being kidnapped by men in weather-beaten cars. He advised people to call the police if they spotted something suspicious—like strangers taking off with the neighbor’s television or sofa—and to keep their doors locked. He sat at a piano and sang “users are losers” in reference to drug-abusing adolescents. (The cigar had been scrapped.)

Most importantly, the NCPC—which had taken over responsibility for McGruff's message—wanted the ads to have what the industry dubbed “fulfillment.” At the end, McGruff would advise viewers to write to a post office box for a booklet on how to prevent crime in their neck of the woods.

A lot of people did just that. More than 30,000 booklets went out during the first few months the ads aired. McGruff’s laconic presence was beginning to take off.

By 1988, an estimated 99 percent of children ages six to 12 recognized McGruff, putting him in Ronald McDonald territory. He appeared on the ABC series Webster, in parades, and in thousands of personal appearances around the country, typically with a local police officer under the suit. (The appearances were not without danger: Some dogs apparently didn't like McGruff and could get aggressive at the sight of him.)

As McGruff aged into the 1990s, his appearances grew more sporadic. The NCPC began targeting guns and drugs and wasn’t sure the cartoon dog was a good fit, so his appearances were limited to the end of some ad spots. By the 2000s, law enforcement cutbacks meant fewer cops in costume, and a reduced awareness of the crime-fighting canine. When Keil retired, an Iowa cop named Steve Parker took over McGruff's voice duties.

McGruff is still in action today, aiding in the NCPC’s efforts to raise awareness of elder abuse, internet crimes, and identity theft. The organization estimates that more than 4000 McGruffs are in circulation, though at least one of them failed to live up to the mantle. In 2014, a McGruff performer named John Morales pled guilty to possession of more than 1000 marijuana plants and a grenade launcher. He’s serving 16 years in prison.

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Animals
Watch a Panda Caretaker Cuddle With Baby Pandas While Dressed Up Like a Panda
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iStock

Some people wear suits to work—but at one Chinese nature reserve, a handful of lucky employees get to wear panda suits.

As Travel + Leisure reports, the People's Daily released a video in July of animal caretakers cuddling with baby pandas at the Wolong National Nature Reserve in China's Sichuan Province. The keepers dress in fuzzy black-and-white costumes—a sartorial choice that's equal parts adorable and imperative to the pandas' future success in the wild.

Researchers raise the pandas in captivity with the goal of eventually releasing them into their natural habitat. But according to The Atlantic, human attachment can hamper the pandas' survival chances, plus it can be stressful for the bears to interact with people. To keep the animals calm while acclimating them to forest life, the caretakers disguise their humanness with costumes, and even mask their smell by smearing the suits with panda urine and feces. Meanwhile, other keepers sometimes conceal themselves by dressing up as trees.

Below, you can watch the camouflaged panda caretakers as they cuddle baby pandas:

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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