CLOSE

The Missing Links: The Stuffed Animals Always Attack From Above

Attack of the Parachuting Activist Teddy Bears
The situation in Belarus just got real. Real cuddly.

*

RIP: Mel Stuart
The director of the classic film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory passed away yesterday. Here’s a look at 20 things you might not have known about his sweetest creation.

And: Wonka’s factory might not really exist, but these delicious chocolate landmarks do.

*

Fridays Require A Skateboarding Goat
That’s just the way it is.

*

The Driverless Google Car is a Better Driver Than You
Probably. Maybe you’re really good. Either way, the Google car has logged about 300,000 miles and hasn’t been in an accident.

*

Walking the Streets of the Music City
Nashville is an awesome city. If you ever make it there, be sure to treat yourself to a walk through the city’s rich history.

*

Ill Communication
Recently deceased Beastie Boys star Adam Yauch left behind some specific directions for the use of his music after he passed on.

*

If the Fastest Man in the World Borrows Your Camera and Takes a Bunch of Pictures...
...who owns the rights to the photos?

*

You Kind of Paint Yourself Into A Corner When You Start Building Your Kids Roller Coasters By Hand
Seriously, where do you go from there? Everything after this will be a disappointment.

arrow
History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
holidays
Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)
iStock
iStock

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, UglyChristmasSweater.com sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios