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The Weekend Links

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"¢ It's Super Bowl time! Here are some lamentably familiar personalities to avoid when sending invites for your party. And as we are reminded in this vintage piece from Page 2, the Super Bowl can in fact kill you.

"¢ The candidates aren't talking a great deal about education, but bow howdy here's an example of why they should. (Courtesy of 'Conventional Stupidity')

"¢ There may be an Arrested Development movie in the works. (The Jason Bateman show, not the people who brought you "Tennessee.")

"¢ The Truth may be Out There, but so far we haven't been able to find it concerning these science mysteries. (Thanks, Freezair)

"¢ We've posted about double dipping this week, but here's another take on the debate from the Wall Street Journal (Thanks to Jason's lovely wife Ellen)

"¢ I don't know about you guys, but I for one have always wanted to rule my own country "“ preferably on a nice, warm island somewhere. Here are some people who've done it, and the histories of their oft questionable dominions. (Thanks to Nanette from Cape Town)

"¢ In their desire to make crayon colors increasingly nuanced, Crayola has introduced shades like "inch worm" and "antique brass." I for one don't know how many times I've been frustrated beyond belief that the color "magic mint" was retired (mint magic? really?). See the evolution of the Crayola color wheel here.

"¢ Ever wondered how spy gadgets work?

"¢ Haute couture is often so art-driven that its practicality is sometimes lost. Judge for yourself here in a showcase of world (or interplanetary) fashions. Also ... is that third model Tom Brady?

"¢ Beer. It has its own bowl, it has its own hat, and it has more flavors and uses than one can hardly dare imagine. (Thanks as always to Jan from ATL, who keeps me in business)

"¢ Obligatory mention of the "I Read Mental Floss" Facebook group.

"¢ Whoa whoa whoa ... (1) there was a Gladiators 2000 (which apparently I missed) and (2) Ryan Seacrest was involved? (via TVTattle)

"¢ There's something about this video Lisa sent in that is haunting and poignant (be sure to turn up your speakers!) even though it involves a chocolate easter bunny.

"¢ Everyone enjoys good satire, and Jane from New Jersey has reminded us of our favorite de-motivational site, Their BitterSweets are perfect for anyone who thinks being happy is overrated.

"¢ What does your phone number spell? This site sent in by Breann from IL might help you figure out a snazzy way for people to remember your digits. Part of a number I tried came out "Me-4-Me," which sounds like a vanity plate. Moreover, I should be wary that T.O. might be looking to trademark it.

"¢ And in the 'reader photo of the week' department, let's celebrate the work of parkesmj, who submitted these photos from New Zealand:



If you're a Flickr user, simply tag your pics you'd like us to consider "flossphotos." And stay tuned for Ransom's next project with his freelance photographer army.

"¢ And please keep sending me links! To make it worth your while, the 1st and 20th people to send me something flossy win free mental_floss t-shirts. (

[Last Weekend's Links]

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?
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While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry consultant Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at

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Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
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Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.


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