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The Weekend Links

Anyone who's ever picked up a bottle (or three) of "Two Buck Chuck" might appreciate this article on Fred Franzia, "The Scourge of Napa Vally." Not to be confused with Franzia boxed wines, which aren't classy but sure are good. (Thanks to Ellen from Birmingham for the link)

All I'm saying is, if we had been able to make explosions in science class such as this, maybe I would have been more interested. (Merci, Gail)

Flossy reader Jennifer took this amazing picture of a garter snake who seems to have something important to say. Anyone got a caption?

Here's some trivia for you. The tenth-ranked phrase that brought people to mentalfloss.com from Google this week: "american gladiators nude"! (Number fifty: "space porn.")

The other day, Stacy wrote a story on 6 Tyrannical Bosses Far Worse Than Yours. Let me give you a head start for the logical sequel on terrible employees.

Chuckle-worthy for moms, cringe-worthy for kids. A song of motherly reminders set to the Wiiliam Tell Overture. (Thanks Amy from the dual locales of Nashua, NH/Columbus, OH...how does that work?)

Is that your joystick, or are you just happy to see me? A giant Atari joystick. You know, for giant nerds. Wah-wahh. (Thanks to Amy in Greensboro, North Carolina)

My friends and I have a theory that Michael Cera (Arrested Development, Superbad) doesn't act, he just shows up places as himself "“ a sweet, awkward kid. Check out this hilarious interview video and judge for yourself (Side note: Is there a better chat-show name than "Between Two Ferns"?). He also has an addictive internet TV show you can watch at clarkandmichael.com.

Know the saying "I'm so hungry I could eat my own arm"? Well ... then there's THIS guy. (Thanks to Jill for that one)

Simply put, the most literal garage sale ever (Thanks to Christine in West Lafayette, IN, whose relatives provided this wonder)

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See the origins of carpel tunnel! Terrible keyboard designs that make you appreciate the evolution of the typing pad. (Gracias to Austin from Overland Park, KS)

Speaking of technological evolution, here's a visual history of water in video games. Oddly soothing and nostalgic. (Thanks to my pal Kevin from Atlanta)

Mischief-making by the guys from Gizmodo, who used their TV-B-Gone remote power without much responsibility at the Consumer Electronics Show. A moral dilemma of the mean-but-funny variety.

See democracy in action with Flickr photos from the Iowa Caucus!

And here's a clip of Harry Truman protesting John F. Kennedy's nomination on the eve of the 1960 Democratic Convention, from Andrew Sullivan's blog.

I'm usually a little wary of Wikipedia's veracity on certain subjects (especially those missing citations) because I am often too trusting (i.e. gullible) a person. Melinda's submission of a Wiki article on common misconceptions in various fields of study makes me wonder...can anyone disprove any of these or know them to be false? If they are all true, they're pretty interesting.

If you're one of the eight people who, like me, watch The Wire (and live/die by it), you'll drool over this from the Freakonomics blog. Sudhir Venkatesh screened a few episodes with real-life gangsters. How many of you would like to sit down for a parlay with Stringer Bell? Prop Joe? Omar? Dare to dream.
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I think it's time one of you guys showed some love for Mangesh by creating an action figure (or several "“ collect all 7!). It's not too far-fetched an idea for fans of PopCandy editor Whitney Matheson.

Jason offered readers a little incentive to send in links this week. Amy Hansen wins a free mental_floss t-shirt, and Janice Lambert wins a free calendar. We'll be in touch on Monday.

A big thanks to everyone who sent in links this week! Please keep it up -- flossylinks@gmail.com. Feel free to bribe or win me over in any way you see fit. If you don't see your link this, never fear "“ I'm compiling a reserves vault, so definitely keep 'em coming. And that includes your flossiest of photos.

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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holidays
Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)
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iStock

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, UglyChristmasSweater.com sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.

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