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Weekend Links: The Least Helpful Things Found in Textbooks

It was a favored pastime of mine, and I'm sure most of you, to ridicule the absurd drawings and bizarre quotes from school textbooks. But just because I'm out of school, the fun doesn't have to stop! Thanks to Matt, I now know about Thanks, Textbooks. The chuckling in the back of the room continues! (It's fairly new but I'm bookmarking it).
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"Tommy Edison has been blind since birth and now producing videos online that reveal a glimpse into his life and the challenges that he faces daily, such as what it’s like for someone who is blind to use an ATM." There are more movingly informative videos on Tommy's homepage, The Blind Film Critic.
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From Kristen, "Drum Corps is the NFL of marching bands - the best performers travel and compete all over the country each summer and it can be very physically demanding as this video demonstrates. In it, a tenor drummer has his vitals analyzed by a college professor during a rehearsal and we learn how hard the guy is working. It's pretty interesting!"
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So just how big are the eyes of a giant squid? On a scale of 1 to 10 I would say ... TERRIFYING!
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These pictures of golden fireflies in Japan do not look real. They also remind me of a really pretty version of the swarms of kudzu bugs we've been dealing with around here …
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There has been a sudden uptick in videos that have snagged that old Saturday morning cartoon Japanese style, with nostalgic and hilarious results. The first is "The Adventures of Kim Jong Un" followed by a new rendering of a title sequence for the BBC/PBS production of Sherlock. Memories!
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From Joe, a disturbing message about your personal information being on the internet. It doesn't do any real harm, except to your psyche if you watch it at night while you're at home alone!
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Lizzie Borden and her 40 whacks continue to fascinate (and will be the subject of an upcoming film), and now, 120-year-old legal papers could shed light on those infamous murders. (Also check out the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast on it!)
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An MTV promo commercial (which I had not seen before) features balloon art in what I can only imagine was probably a terribly frustrating setup. But the results are magnificent!
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Stay tuned - more links tomorrow! In the meantime send your submissions to FlossyLinks@gmail.com ... and Happy St. Patrick's Day! What are your plans for the weekend?

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Stradivarius Violins Get Their Distinctive Sound By Mimicking the Human Voice
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Italian violinist Francesco Geminiani once wrote that a violin's tone should "rival the most perfect human voice." Nearly three centuries later, scientists have confirmed that some of the world's oldest violins do in fact mimic aspects of the human singing voice, a finding which scientists believe proves "the characteristic brilliance of Stradivari violins."

Using speech analysis software, scientists in Taiwan compared the sound produced by 15 antique instruments with recordings of 16 male and female vocalists singing English vowel sounds, The Guardian reports. They discovered that violins made by Andrea Amati and Antonio Stradivari, the pioneers of the instrument, produce similar "formant features" as the singers. The resonance frequencies were similar between Amati violins and bass and baritone singers, while the higher-frequency tones produced by Stradivari instruments were comparable to tenors and contraltos.

Andrea Amati, born in 1505, was the first known violin maker. His design was improved over 100 years later by Antonio Stradivari, whose instruments now sell for several million dollars. "Some Stradivari violins clearly possess female singing qualities, which may contribute to their perceived sweetness and brilliance," Hwan-Ching Tai, an author of the study, told The Guardian.

Their findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. A 2013 study by Dr. Joseph Nagyvary, a professor emeritus at Texas A&M University, also pointed to a link between the sounds produced by 250-year-old violins and those of a female soprano singer.

According to Vox, a blind test revealed that professional violinists couldn't reliably tell the difference between old violins like "Strads" and modern ones, with most even expressing a preference for the newer instruments. However, the value of these antique instruments can be chalked up to their rarity and history, and many violinists still swear by their exceptional quality.

[h/t The Guardian]

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