9 Bizarre But Entertaining Card Games

When my cousins and I were younger, we would play this card game called "Spit" for hours and hours on end (when we weren't playing Paperboy on the Nintendo or watching Rock 'n' Roll High School Forever with "“ eee!! Corey Feldman!!). Spit is also known as Speed. I won't go into the details, but if you really want to learn how to play you can visit Wikipedia.

I'm not sure if our parents ever got sick of us playing Spit (it could get almost violent), but if they did, they should have been glad that we weren't biding our time with Guillotine instead. I actually think Guillotine sounds fun, but I can see where maybe you don't want your nine-year-old playing it. If it's up your alley, though, here are nine offbeat and interesting card games you might want to try out at your next party.

1. Guillotine


As you might suspect, Guillotine is set during the French Revolution and was released to commemorate Bastille Day in 1998.

The best part of this game? You get a little cardboard guillotine. There are three rounds to this game which represent three days. Every day, 12 nobles are lined up to be executed. Then each player goes around and plays an action card (if they want to), takes ("kills") the noble from the front of the line and then draws another action card. An action card, for instance, might tell you to move a noble up two places in line. Since nobles are worth different points, this means the player could be taking a noble with a higher point value (Marie Antoinette is worth five points; the 'Piss Boy' is worth one) from the front of the line. Since the goal is to get the most points, this is a good thing.

2. Grave Robbers From Outer Space

I think I need this game (Paul, take notice). GROS pokes fun at sci-fi and horror movie clichés. You have to make a movie, including a location, characters and props. Each of these card has a defense strength (DS) on it. You need to make a movie that has the highest defense.

You can attack other players' movies as long as you have a creature card. If the number on your creature card is greater than or equal to the sum of all of the cards on the movie you're attacking, then the player attacking gets to "kill off" another player's character by making him/her discard the character.

This game has a sense of humor, which is why I like it. For instance, if you have the "Nymphomaniac Cheerleader" character, any male character that's in your movie gets a bonus point. The game ends when the cards run out or someone draws a "Roll the Credits" card.

The makers of the game have expanded to similar games in different genres, including Cannibal Pygmies in the Jungles of Doom (action/adventure movies), Bell Bottomed Badasses on the Mean Streets of Funk ('70s and Blaxploitation), Berserker Halflings from the Dungeons of Dragons (fantasy) and Kung Fu Samurai on Giant Robot Island (Asian films).

3. 1000 Blank White Cards

This is a game that could be dangerous, depending on how evil your friends are. Basically the players create all of the rules themselves. You start with 80-150 cards "“ it's recommended that if you've never played before and all of the cards are blank, you create at least some of the cards before the game starts. Otherwise you can re-use cards from previous games so you have a mix of already-made cards and totally blank cards.

There are two rules that you have to follow:
1. Everyone draws up to five cards at the end of his/her turn.
2. Cards must target a specific player, unless it says otherwise on the card.

Other than that, the rules of the game are set as cards are drawn. It depends entirely on what your friends decide to write on the card. "Get drunk at football game and karate-chop your way home, lose 20 points." OK. "Fall down the stairs and break toe. Toe bone comes through the bottom of your foot. Cool! +500 points." OK. "The letter C is stupid. Everyone with a letter C in their first or last names loses all points they currently have." OK.

Blank cards can be made into playable cards at any time during the game. All you have to do is draw on them and throw 'em into the pile. A few of my favorites from

So how do you win? When there are no cards left in the deck and no one has any cards that can be played in the current situation. The winner is the player with the highest score at the end of the game, although some people consider the winner the person who drew the most favored cards.

4. Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot

supe.jpgKiller Bunnies seems simple: the point is to get as many carrot cards as possible because one of them will be revealed to be the "magic carrot" at the end of the game, and the person who has that card wins. You're also trying to kill off each other's bunnies while keeping as many of yours alive as possible. You can kill other bunnies off with everything from a kitchen whisk to a nuclear warhead.

OK, it's a lot more complicated than that, but that's the basic idea behind it. It involves a number system like Grave Robbers from Outer Space does and some of the cards you draw will tell you exactly what to do (like the No Supe For You card above).

5. Gother Than Thou

Gother Than Thou is pretty simple. The deck consists of 55 cards. Within these cards are three types of points: Goth Points, Sickness/Infection and Money. You get 20 Goth Points, you win. Too much Sickness will make you discard everything and not enough Money means you can't draw from the discard pile.

Some of my favorite cards include Crying Yourself to Sleep, Disturbing German Accent, Absinthe Minded, Fun With Eyeliner, Boots!!, and Steady Clove Supply.

6. Chez Geek

You and your fellow players are apartment roomies. When the game starts, everyone gets a Job card, which includes your amount of free time, your income, your special ability and your Slack Goal. The first person to achieve their Slack Goal wins. You get your Slack Goal by drawing cards "“ describing your tattoo in incredible detail to your roommate, for instance, earns you three Slack Points.

If Chez Geek isn't your thing, never fear: there's also Chez Greek, Chez Guevara, Chez Grunt and, yes, Chez Goth.

7. Unxploded Cow

UC kills two birds with one stone. You've got unexploded landmines in France; you've got Mad Cows roaming around Britain. Solution? Explode the mines with the infected cows! Brilliant. It costs money to buy cows, but you earn lots of money for every mine you explode. The person with the most money at the end of the game wins.

8. Aquarius

This one's for the hippie in all of us. It looks like Peter Max designed a set of dominoes.

Everyone gets three cards and one goal card that depicts an element: Earth, Air, Fire, Water or Ether. One card is placed face up on the table for others to play off of (like dominoes). The player with the longest hair goes first. You want seven cards with your goal element to be played. The trick is, you don't know everyone else's goal elements, so you'll need to do your best guessing to block their plays. In the picture below, Fire just won (seven cards to Ether's six).

9. Falling

The premise of this game is that you're falling out of the sky and you'd rather not be (makes sense). The goal isn't to stay alive "“ that's not an option. No, you're definitely going to die. But you want to be the last one to hit the ground (the box says, "It's not much of a goal, but it's all you could think of on the way down.")

One player doesn't really play at all "“ their only job is to consistently pass cards out to everyone who is actively playing. You get cards like Skip, Stop, Hit and Push which delay your inevitable Splat. There are five Ground cards, and when you get one, that's it: game over, you're dead. Last person to hit the Ground is the winner (sort of).

Has anyone played any of these? Are they any fun? Any other bizarre card games I should know about?

Live Smarter
Nervous About Asking for a Job Referral? LinkedIn Can Now Do It for You

For most people, asking for a job referral can be daunting. What if the person being approached shoots you down? What if you ask the "wrong" way? LinkedIn, which has been aggressively establishing itself as a catch-all hub for employment opportunities, has a solution, as Mashable reports.

The company recently launched "Ask for a Referral," an option that will appear to those browsing job listings. When you click on a job listed by a business that also employs one of your LinkedIn first-degree connections, you'll have the opportunity to solicit a referral from that individual.

The default message that LinkedIn creates is somewhat generic, but it hits the main topics—namely, prompting you to explain how you and your connection know one another and why you'd be a good fit for the position. If you're the one being asked for a referral, the site will direct you to the job posting and offer three prompts for a response, ranging from "Sure…" to "Sorry…".

LinkedIn says the referral option may not be available for all posts or all users, as the feature is still being rolled out. If you do see the option, it will likely pay to take advantage of it: LinkedIn reports that recruiters who receive both a referral and a job application from a prospective hire are four times more likely to contact that individual.

[h/t Mashable]

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Essential Science
What Is a Scientific Theory?
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Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

In casual conversation, people often use the word theory to mean "hunch" or "guess": If you see the same man riding the northbound bus every morning, you might theorize that he has a job in the north end of the city; if you forget to put the bread in the breadbox and discover chunks have been taken out of it the next morning, you might theorize that you have mice in your kitchen.

In science, a theory is a stronger assertion. Typically, it's a claim about the relationship between various facts; a way of providing a concise explanation for what's been observed. The American Museum of Natural History puts it this way: "A theory is a well-substantiated explanation of an aspect of the natural world that can incorporate laws, hypotheses and facts."

For example, Newton's theory of gravity—also known as his law of universal gravitation—says that every object, anywhere in the universe, responds to the force of gravity in the same way. Observational data from the Moon's motion around the Earth, the motion of Jupiter's moons around Jupiter, and the downward fall of a dropped hammer are all consistent with Newton's theory. So Newton's theory provides a concise way of summarizing what we know about the motion of these objects—indeed, of any object responding to the force of gravity.

A scientific theory "organizes experience," James Robert Brown, a philosopher of science at the University of Toronto, tells Mental Floss. "It puts it into some kind of systematic form."


A theory's ability to account for already known facts lays a solid foundation for its acceptance. Let's take a closer look at Newton's theory of gravity as an example.

In the late 17th century, the planets were known to move in elliptical orbits around the Sun, but no one had a clear idea of why the orbits had to be shaped like ellipses. Similarly, the movement of falling objects had been well understood since the work of Galileo a half-century earlier; the Italian scientist had worked out a mathematical formula that describes how the speed of a falling object increases over time. Newton's great breakthrough was to tie all of this together. According to legend, his moment of insight came as he gazed upon a falling apple in his native Lincolnshire.

In Newton's theory, every object is attracted to every other object with a force that’s proportional to the masses of the objects, but inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. This is known as an “inverse square” law. For example, if the distance between the Sun and the Earth were doubled, the gravitational attraction between the Earth and the Sun would be cut to one-quarter of its current strength. Newton, using his theories and a bit of calculus, was able to show that the gravitational force between the Sun and the planets as they move through space meant that orbits had to be elliptical.

Newton's theory is powerful because it explains so much: the falling apple, the motion of the Moon around the Earth, and the motion of all of the planets—and even comets—around the Sun. All of it now made sense.


A theory gains even more support if it predicts new, observable phenomena. The English astronomer Edmond Halley used Newton's theory of gravity to calculate the orbit of the comet that now bears his name. Taking into account the gravitational pull of the Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn, in 1705, he predicted that the comet, which had last been seen in 1682, would return in 1758. Sure enough, it did, reappearing in December of that year. (Unfortunately, Halley didn't live to see it; he died in 1742.) The predicted return of Halley's Comet, Brown says, was "a spectacular triumph" of Newton's theory.

In the early 20th century, Newton's theory of gravity would itself be superseded—as physicists put it—by Einstein's, known as general relativity. (Where Newton envisioned gravity as a force acting between objects, Einstein described gravity as the result of a curving or warping of space itself.) General relativity was able to explain certain phenomena that Newton's theory couldn't account for, such as an anomaly in the orbit of Mercury, which slowly rotates—the technical term for this is "precession"—so that while each loop the planet takes around the Sun is an ellipse, over the years Mercury traces out a spiral path similar to one you may have made as a kid on a Spirograph.

Significantly, Einstein’s theory also made predictions that differed from Newton's. One was the idea that gravity can bend starlight, which was spectacularly confirmed during a solar eclipse in 1919 (and made Einstein an overnight celebrity). Nearly 100 years later, in 2016, the discovery of gravitational waves confirmed yet another prediction. In the century between, at least eight predictions of Einstein's theory have been confirmed.


And yet physicists believe that Einstein's theory will one day give way to a new, more complete theory. It already seems to conflict with quantum mechanics, the theory that provides our best description of the subatomic world. The way the two theories describe the world is very different. General relativity describes the universe as containing particles with definite positions and speeds, moving about in response to gravitational fields that permeate all of space. Quantum mechanics, in contrast, yields only the probability that each particle will be found in some particular location at some particular time.

What would a "unified theory of physics"—one that combines quantum mechanics and Einstein's theory of gravity—look like? Presumably it would combine the explanatory power of both theories, allowing scientists to make sense of both the very large and the very small in the universe.


Let's shift from physics to biology for a moment. It is precisely because of its vast explanatory power that biologists hold Darwin's theory of evolution—which allows scientists to make sense of data from genetics, physiology, biochemistry, paleontology, biogeography, and many other fields—in such high esteem. As the biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky put it in an influential essay in 1973, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."

Interestingly, the word evolution can be used to refer to both a theory and a fact—something Darwin himself realized. "Darwin, when he was talking about evolution, distinguished between the fact of evolution and the theory of evolution," Brown says. "The fact of evolution was that species had, in fact, evolved [i.e. changed over time]—and he had all sorts of evidence for this. The theory of evolution is an attempt to explain this evolutionary process." The explanation that Darwin eventually came up with was the idea of natural selection—roughly, the idea that an organism's offspring will vary, and that those offspring with more favorable traits will be more likely to survive, thus passing those traits on to the next generation.


Many theories are rock-solid: Scientists have just as much confidence in the theories of relativity, quantum mechanics, evolution, plate tectonics, and thermodynamics as they do in the statement that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

Other theories, closer to the cutting-edge of current research, are more tentative, like string theory (the idea that everything in the universe is made up of tiny, vibrating strings or loops of pure energy) or the various multiverse theories (the idea that our entire universe is just one of many). String theory and multiverse theories remain controversial because of the lack of direct experimental evidence for them, and some critics claim that multiverse theories aren't even testable in principle. They argue that there's no conceivable experiment that one could perform that would reveal the existence of these other universes.

Sometimes more than one theory is put forward to explain observations of natural phenomena; these theories might be said to "compete," with scientists judging which one provides the best explanation for the observations.

"That's how it should ideally work," Brown says. "You put forward your theory, I put forward my theory; we accumulate a lot of evidence. Eventually, one of our theories might prove to obviously be better than the other, over some period of time. At that point, the losing theory sort of falls away. And the winning theory will probably fight battles in the future."


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