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The Weekend Links

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"¢ One of the most amazing videos I have ever seen ... a monkey on a mini motorcycle. Even more astonishing is his conscientiousness: he wears a tiny helmet, and waits for traffic before zooming off!

"¢ Movies still on VHS that just aren't good enough for DVD. I thought I had erased the horrors of Meet the Deedles, but this list brought it all flooding back. Anything on this list you've been awaiting anxiously to convert?

"¢ Thanks to my friend Thomas who sent in this clip with the instructions to wait until the :47 second mark. If you do, you will be rewarded tenfold. I KNEW I should have stuck with those piano lessons.

"¢ Flossy Reader Heather has brought this amazing site to my attention: MAD magazine fold-ins that are completely interactive. Enjoy procrastinating with these!

"¢ An online card trick—can you savvy Flossers figure out how it works? For more magic, watch this absolutely hilarious clip of (a faux) David Blaine scaring the mess out of some "unsuspecting" LA residents. (Warning: lots of profanity).

"¢ As a film nerd, I am constantly amazed at all of the new ways people are finding to integrate various media into their online videos. This is another fantastic find—fun with flip books.

"¢ Have trouble keeping up with your news in an organized fashion? Newsflashr lists all of the top headlines from a plethora of respected sources so you can keep an eye on what's considered important news. Or vote for what you think should be considered "top" news here. (Thanks Jan!)

"¢ Cindy brings to us the hidden hilarity of grocery lists. Another reason you should be careful not to litter. One man's trash is another man's blog.

"¢ If the US presidential race isn't interactive enough for you, consider making your own candidate finger puppets and staging your own debates. Film it, and you could be the next YouTube star!

"¢ An addicting game that connects with ocean conservation efforts. See how easy it is to catch the bluefin tuna? EXACTLY. The music is uber-soothing, though. (Thanks so, so much to Angie who sent in a sundry of awesome links this week).

"¢ I would provide a photo for the anecdote I am about to relate, but this is a (sorta) highbrow website. In any case ... you know when you go to certain sushi joints you get the little orange peel man? (the curious can Google it). In any case, apparently there are many kinds of art that can be crafted from our friend the Orange. Here's a beautiful example.

"¢ What happens if you raise a child from birth to hone in on a certain skill? Deeper considerations aside, this dad has brought up his son to appreciate his passion of skateboarding ... and in doing so has created a tiny Tony Hawk.

"¢ I found out that this video is a little old, but since it's my first time seeing it, it may be yours as well. How far will some people go to keep neighbors from allowing their dogs to do their 'business' all over the neighborhood? Watch this and find out ...

"¢ Spring is in the air! If you are feeling the call of the birds and bees, check out this beautiful art project called Hidden Love Song.

"¢ Speculation as to the demise of the Titanic may never cease (but would we want it to?) Katie points us to new evidence that claims faulty rivets may have been a major part of the problem (oh yeah ... and that iceberg.) For more on when Ship Happens, read up on Stacy's recent post on the subject.

"¢ Thank you so much to everyone who sent in links this week—you guys heard the call and answered it overwhelmingly. But don't stop there! As you do your internet trawling, think of me at FlossyLinks@gmail.com, and send anything you find in your nets on over (just not any bluefin tuna, of course).

[Last Weekend's Links]

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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
A Chinese Museum Is Offering Cash to Whoever Can Decipher These 3000-Year-Old Inscriptions

During the 19th century, farmers in China’s Henan Province began discovering oracle bones—engraved ox scapulae and tortoise shells used by Shang Dynasty leaders for record-keeping and divination purposes—while plowing their fields. More bones were excavated in subsequent years, and their inscriptions were revealed to be the earliest known form of systematic writing in East Asia. But over the decades, scholars still haven’t come close to cracking half of the mysterious script’s roughly 5000 characters—which is why one Chinese museum is asking member of the public for help, in exchange for a generous cash reward.

As Atlas Obscura reports, the National Museum of Chinese Writing in Anyang, Henan Province has offered to pay citizen researchers about $15,000 for each unknown character translated, and $7500 if they provide a disputed character’s definitive meaning. Submissions must be supported with evidence, and reviewed by at least two language specialists.

The museum began farming out their oracle bone translation efforts in Fall 2016. The costly ongoing project has hit a stalemate, and scholars hope that the public’s collective smarts—combined with new advances in technology, including cloud computing and big data—will yield new information and save them research money.

As of today, more than 200,000 oracle bones have been discovered—around 50,000 of which bear text—so scholars still have a lot to learn about the Shang Dynasty. Many of the ancient script's characters are difficult to verify, as they represent places and people from long ago. However, decoding even just one character could lead to a substantial breakthrough, experts say: "If we interpret a noun or a verb, it can bring many scripts on oracle bones to life, and we can understand ancient history better,” Chinese history professor Zhu Yanmin told the South China Morning Post.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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6 Eponyms Named After the Wrong Person
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Salmonella species growing on agar.

Having something named after you is the ultimate accomplishment for any inventor, mathematician, scientist, or researcher. Unfortunately, the credit for an invention or discovery does not always go to the correct person—senior colleagues sometimes snatch the glory, fakers pull the wool over people's eyes, or the fickle general public just latches onto the wrong name.

1. SALMONELLA (OR SMITHELLA?)

In 1885, while investigating common livestock diseases at the Bureau of Animal Industry in Washington, D.C., pathologist Theobald Smith first isolated the salmonella bacteria in pigs suffering from hog cholera. Smith’s research finally identified the bacteria responsible for one of the most common causes of food poisoning in humans. Unfortunately, Smith’s limelight-grabbing supervisor, Daniel E. Salmon, insisted on taking sole credit for the discovery. As a result, the bacteria was named after him. Don’t feel too sorry for Theobald Smith, though: He soon emerged from Salmon’s shadow, going on to make the important discovery that ticks could be a vector in the spread of disease, among other achievements.

2. AMERICA (OR COLUMBIANA?)

An etching of Amerigo Vespucci
Henry Guttmann/Getty Images

Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci (1451–1512) claimed to have made numerous voyages to the New World, the first in 1497, before Columbus. Textual evidence suggests Vespucci did take part in a number of expeditions across the Atlantic, but generally does not support the idea that he set eyes on the New World before Columbus. Nevertheless, Vespucci’s accounts of his voyages—which today read as far-fetched—were hugely popular and translated into many languages. As a result, when German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller was drawing his map of the Novus Mundi (or New World) in 1507 he marked it with the name "America" in Vespucci’s honor. He later regretted the choice, omitting the name from future maps, but it was too late, and the name stuck.

3. BLOOMERS (OR MILLERS?)

A black and white image of young women wearing bloomers
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Dress reform became a big issue in mid-19th century America, when women were restricted by long, heavy skirts that dragged in the mud and made any sort of physical activity difficult. Women’s rights activist Elizabeth Smith Miller was inspired by traditional Turkish dress to begin wearing loose trousers gathered at the ankle underneath a shorter skirt. Miller’s new outfit immediately caused a splash, with some decrying it as scandalous and others inspired to adopt the garb.

Amelia Jenks Bloomer was editor of the women’s temperance journal The Lily, and she took to copying Miller’s style of dress. She was so impressed with the new freedom it gave her that she began promoting the “reform dress” in her magazine, printing patterns so others might make their own. Bloomer sported the dress when she spoke at events and soon the press began to associate the outfit with her, dubbing it “Bloomer’s costume.” The name stuck.

4. GUILLOTINE (OR LOUISETTE?)

Execution machines had been known prior to the French Revolution, but they were refined after Paris physician and politician Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin suggested they might be a more humane form of execution than the usual methods (hanging, burning alive, etc.). The first guillotine was actually designed by Dr. Antoine Louis, Secretary of the Academy of Surgery, and was known as a louisette. The quick and efficient machine was quickly adopted as the main method of execution in revolutionary France, and as the bodies piled up the public began to refer to it as la guillotine, for the man who first suggested its use. Guillotin was very distressed at the association, and when he died in 1814 his family asked the French government to change the name of the hated machine. The government refused and so the family changed their name instead to escape the dreadful association.

5. BECHDEL TEST (OR WALLACE TEST?)

Alison Bechdel
Alison Bechdel
Steve Jennings/Getty Images

The Bechdel Test is a tool to highlight gender inequality in film, television, and fiction. The idea is that in order to pass the test, the movie, show, or book in question must include at least one scene in which two women have a conversation that isn’t about a man. The test was popularized by the cartoonist Alison Bechdel in 1985 in her comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For,” and has since become known by her name. However, Bechdel asserts that the idea originated with her friend Lisa Wallace (and was also inspired by the writer Virginia Woolf), and she would prefer for it to be known as the Bechdel-Wallace test.

6. STIGLER’S LAW OF EPONYMY (OR MERTON’S LAW?)

Influential sociologist Robert K. Merton suggested the idea of the “Matthew Effect” in a 1968 paper noting that senior colleagues who are already famous tend to get the credit for their junior colleagues’ discoveries. (Merton named his phenomenon [PDF] after the parable of talents in the Gospel of Matthew, in which wise servants invest money their master has given them.)

Merton was a well-respected academic, and when he was due to retire in 1979, a book of essays celebrating his work was proposed. One person who contributed an essay was University of Chicago professor of statistics Stephen Stigler, who had corresponded with Merton about his ideas. Stigler decided to pen an essay that celebrated and proved Merton’s theory. As a result, he took Merton’s idea and created Stigler’s Law of Eponymy, which states that “No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer”—the joke being that Stigler himself was taking Merton’s own theory and naming it after himself. To further prove the rule, the “new” law has been adopted by the academic community, and a number of papers and articles have since been written on "Stigler’s Law."

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