The Weekend Links

"¢ Slate recently reported on the growing tabloid-nature of news websites. (Two examples: "Man Arrested After Cat Finds Child Porn Stash" and "Human Tongue Accidentally Served Up in Hospital." ) If you find these kinds of stories too foolish for the front page, this site compiles news from various media outlets and allows readers to vote on whether or not an item deserves "breaking news" status (much thanks to Paul!)

"¢ Reader Phill points out that while you may not have any trouble finding a sundry of strange state laws, you don't often see them being enforced.

"¢ The Naked Cowboy is suing Mars Inc. for trademark infringement. He may even have a case. But as you'll hear in this 2005 interview with YesButNoButYes, he's a strange, strange dude. The Naked Cowgirl is also involved.

"¢ My co-worker is obsessed with The Dark Knight, and has watched every bootlegged version of any trailer he can get his hands on. Even he was impressed by this trailer for the movie done with Legos.

"¢ If only the Oxford English Dictionary (or the Urban Dictionary, for that matter) had celebrity pictures to match up with the definitions. Luckily, this site does! Learn new words alongside celebrity gossip. Now that's hot. (Warning: Probably not the place you want your kid to turn to build his or her vocabulary.)

"¢ Two great sets of links from fellow Atlanta resident Jan. The first: just when you thought things couldn't get any more ridiculous ... insured celebrity body parts! If that's not enough for you on this apparently hot topic, read more about it here.

"¢ Secondly, a great animation experiment: Animator versus Animation. Being caught in a desktop application ALMOST looks like fun ...

"¢ Oh satire ... thy ways are wily. Check out this site and see a parody of lame video sites that encourage completely corporate-backed tripe submissions (the Roomba one is especially disappointing, as it's meant to be, by at first reminding us splendidly of Battle Bots before proving itself utterly useless). For actual Battle Bot action, go here.

"¢ Flossy reader Meg snapped a great photo of fantasy, science-fiction and children's author Terry Pratchett's work being displayed unabashedly in the non-fiction section. It would make my year to see Harry Potter alongside it ... would that it were ....

"¢ I don't know about you guys, but I'm always curious about special effects. Here's someone who offers tips on the art of the Decapitation Effect, to dazzle (and possibly horrify) your friends.


"¢ Here's a list of 10 Star Wars toys that unintentionally look like celebrities. Christian Bale as Slave Leia? See it to believe it! (John Kerry as General Rieekan is the most dead-on, in my opinion.)

"¢ Shameless plug of the week! Your Correspondent interviewed Ryan Reynolds for Creative Loafing last week about politics, comic books, and his new movie. Here's a link to the podcast (which is underneath the picture from the film).

Much love to everyone who sent in links this week ... please keep it up! Remember, pictures and shameless personal plugs are always welcome. Just send your stuff to to see your name up in lights (well ... a computer screen). Have a great weekend!

[Last Weekend's Links]

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]

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

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, 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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