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Morning Cup of Links: Elves with Lightsabers

10 Ways to Make the Internet Better. Sign me up for slide whistle scrolling!
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New Suburbanism: Reshaping the Way City Planners Think About the 'Burbs. It's time to combine the best of both worlds.
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When do you know the Christmas season is really underway? When you see elves with lightsabers!
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Experts are stumped by ancient Jerusalem markings. Carved into a 2,800-year-old floor, they may be labels, language, or just graffiti tagging.
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The trailer for the new Three Stooges movie is out. "...will it be an abortion, a disaster, a travesty, or just a mild blaspheming? Let’s find out!"
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Neil Patrick Harris And Kelly Ripa Inhale SF6 (sulfur hexafluoride) on TV. They take full advantage of those few seconds to say perfect things.
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The most patriotic American display of Christmas lights you'll ever see. Oh yeah, there's music to go with it.
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What Science Reveals About Pedophilia. Research is difficult, since only those who are caught breaking the law are liable to be studied.
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British sailors aboard the HMS Ocean are coming home for Christmas after seven months in the Middle East. They spent time on their voyage home making an awesome Christmas video for you.
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8 actors who got their big breaks in Spielberg films. Jeremy Irvine, the unknown lead in War Horse, has some big footsteps to follow.
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5 Ad Campaigns that Failed Quickly (or Spectacularly). And, might I say, deservedly so.

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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 bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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science
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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