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Shel Silverstein, Gary Larson and Albert Einstein in their First 29 Years

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Normally I don't make big announcements like today is my birthday. That's because most days aren't my birthday. But since I've turned the big 2-9 today, I figured I'd quickly look up just a few of my heroes and report on what they'd accomplished with their 29 years of living. Looks like I've got a lot of catching up to do!

Gary Larson: After working in a music store and playing his banjo for years, Larson decides he hates his job and starts submitting comics to the Seattle Times under the name Nature's Way. That strip was later retitled The Far Side.

Shel Silverstein: By 29, Shel had already written a book, recorded a music album, and was regularly contributing articles to a young Chicago magazine called Playboy.

Roald Dahl: Had already served as a pilot in WWII, crashed a plane, lost his eyesight, regained his eyesight, and published a kid's book.

plenty more after the jump...

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John Cleese: Earned his law degree, had been in a few successful revues, and was one year away from starting Monty Python.

Woody Allen: Had been writing one-liners and comedy bits for shows like Sid Caesar, Ed Sullivan and other comedy greats since age 19, and was just starting to perform his own stand-up.

Bill Watterson: Just two years into drawing Calvin and Hobbes, the elusive Mr. Watterson had already won the Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year (he won it around 28, and is - I think- the youngest recipient of it to date).

Oprah: Oprah isn't really a hero of mine. At least she wasn't until last night when I learned that at just 19 she was already anchoring a Nashville news show, and at 29, she had landed her first talk show. Ridiculous!

George Harrison: Had already completed a full run with The Beatles! Also, by 29, he'd had time to launch a solo career, and was busy organizing the Concert for Bangladesh benefit.

Dali: Had done some collaborations with Bunuel, had already painted The Persistance of Memory, and was working on that famed portrait of his lover Gala with two pork chops balanced on her shoulders.

Miles Davis: Had dropped out of Julliard, and already performed with every legendary jazz musician around. Seriously. From Charlie Parker to Dizzie Gillespie to Mingus to Monk. Plus, by 29, he had kicked a heroin addiction and was just starting his first legendary quintet.

Picture 6.pngEinstein: Was still living in Germany, and was three years past his legendary Annus Mirabilis (the year he'd published on Brownian Motion, the photoelectric effect, and e=mc^2, amongst other things).

King Tut: Only became a hero after he'd inspired that Steve Martin dance. At 29, he'd been dead for about 11 years.

Of course, if I had more time, I would have looked up Jim Henson, John Hubley, Nehru, and a whole host of others. I'll just have to save them for next year.

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Fisherman Catches Rare Blue Lobster, Donates It to Science
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Live lobsters caught off the New England coast are typically brown, olive-green, or gray—which is why one New Hampshire fisherman was stunned when he snagged a blue one in mid-July.

As The Independent reports, Greg Ward, from Rye, New Hampshire, discovered the unusual lobster while examining his catch near the New Hampshire-Maine border. Ward initially thought the pale crustacean was an albino lobster, which some experts estimate to be a one-in-100-million discovery. However, a closer inspection revealed that the lobster's hard shell was blue and cream.

"This one was not all the way white and not all the way blue," Ward told The Portsmouth Herald. "I've never seen anything like it."

While not as rare as an albino lobster, blue lobsters are still a famously elusive catch: It's said that the odds of their occurrence are an estimated one in two million, although nobody knows the exact numbers.

Instead of eating the blue lobster, Ward decided to donate it to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. There, it will be studied and displayed in a lobster tank with other unusually colored critters, including a second blue lobster, a bright orange lobster, and a calico-spotted lobster.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Courtesy Murdoch University
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
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Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]


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