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The Weekend Links

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Whilst en route from Philly to Atlanta yesterday, I perused the SkyMall catalogue as I would a book of Freakish Creatures of the Deep - with fear, interest and plenty of amusement. For those of you not traveling over the holidays, join in the fun by looking at the best and worst of the SkyMall catalogue, 2008 edition, which includes the Slanket.
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Chimpanzee riding on a Segway. Yes, of course it's from an Asian TV show. And who can deny how catchy that song is?
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As an impatient blog reader, I like lists with lots of pictures. These 50 best astronomy photos of 2008 will not disappoint. Still, after awhile it makes me feel like Charlie Brown and Lucy looking up at the stars until Charlie Brown says, "I'm starting to feel insignificant ... let's go inside and watch some TV."

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From my new favorite Flosser Rebecca, "What would the novel Pride and Prejudice be like if it was enacted through a Facebook news feed? You no longer need to ask." If only Facebook were, indeed, so civil and full of repression! Although if that sort of thing doesn't amuse you, you might enjoy this Abridged Classic video version of Becoming Jane instead.
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For those who love both wine and recycling, here's a hotel where rooms are in 15,000 litre wine barrels. Or how about an airplane turned into a hostel?
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Hmm, who would make the best choice to replace Obama's senate seat? Plaxico Burress perhaps? Why not. Also check out the City Paper's rundown (with jokes!) of the year's 10 best viral music videos.

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If you're going through Christmas withdrawal, considering browsing through this site of bad Christmas sweaters, which will hopefully quell your nostalgia.

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Microscopic art that will amaze you on a grand scale. I love that the artist says, "it's misery, I hate working on it."
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Cat vs. Box
. Box nearly wins. Mostly I just like the final look on the cat's face. In related news, firemen still save cats.
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Mentioning freaking creatures of the deep made me look some up - here's a list, although some are just plain old odd land animals.

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21 Excellent Web Apps For College Students. Except they forgot this one.
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Sand sculptures that will put your vacation sand castle to shame.

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Video of how Legos are made.

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Hope everyone is having a great New Year - remember to make a resolution to keep sending in great links to FlossyLinks@gmail.com in 2009!

[Last Weekend's Links]

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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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fun
How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

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