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5 Helpful Holiday Travel Tips from the TSA Blog

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Getty Images

The holiday travel season is upon us! To make your trip through security easier, the folks over at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) blog have assembled a list of things to keep in mind when you’re packing. Here are the tips we found most helpful … and amusing. Happy travels!

1. Fruitcake is allowed in your carry-on.

"Contrary to popular belief, fruitcake is a delicious edible and permitted cake, not a WMD," writes Bob Burns on the TSA blog. Fruitcake joins a whole list of surprising things that are allowed on planes, which also include pies, cakes, bread, donuts, and turkeys (theoretically not a live one), though all may be subject to additional screening.

Foods that should be placed in your checked baggage or shipped include “cranberry sauce, creamy dips and spreads (cheeses, peanut butter, etc.), gift baskets with liquid or gel food items (salsa, jams and salad dressings), gravy, jams, jellies, maple syrup, oils and vinegars, sauces, soups, wine, liquor and beer.” Check out a full list of things that should go in your checked baggage here.

Eggnog is also allowed, provided it’s less than 3.4 ounces, fits in the quart-sized bag you put your toiletries in, and doesn’t contain alcohol. (It’s okay—you can just buy some on the plane and combine them in the air.)

2. Snow Globes are now permitted!

At least if they’re about the size of a tennis ball or smaller, and the entire thing, including the base, fits in the same quart-sized bag that holds your toiletries and other liquids. Your Christmas shopping just got a lot easier.

3. ”Double check your bag for guns. Seriously!!!”

Based on the TSA’s Week in Review posts, you should also probably also check for knives, swords in canes, fireworks, stun guns, brass knuckles, grenades (we’re looking at you, Wayne Coyne), and ammunition. TSA officers find all of this, and more, at checkpoints across the U.S. every day.

4. Don’t wrap your gifts.

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Wrapped gifts are allowed, but if a TSA agent needs to inspect a gift, your wrap job might get a shredding like the one the cougar cub in the photo above is giving his presents. “Our officers try their best not to mangle the gift wrap, but it’s not a guarantee, and it also slows down the line for everybody else when we have to do this,” Burns writes in the post. “We’d rather unwrap the gifts that are under our trees.” Make things easier on everyone and use bags instead.

5. Go ahead: Wear that ugly Christmas Sweater.

Bad fashion might be a crime, but it isn't against the law. Just know that any DIY creations that include wires and lights will probably require additional screening.

Courtesy of October Films
This Scientist's Idea of the 'Perfect' Human Body Is Kind of Terrifying
Courtesy of October Films
Courtesy of October Films

The perfect human body has the legs of an ostrich, the heart of a dog, and the eyes of an octopus, according to anatomist Alice Roberts. And it’s utterly terrifying.

With the help of anatomical artist Scott Eaton and special effects designer Sangeet Prabhaker, Roberts created a life-size replica of herself that fixes many design flaws inherent to the human body, Motherboard reports. Roberts unveiled the sculpture on April 23 at the Science Museum in London. On June 13, the BBC released a documentary about the project.

Among the flaws Roberts’s sculpture corrects are humans’ inferior ears, spine, and lungs. Roberts borrowed anatomy from reptiles, birds, and other mammals to create a Frankenstein-esque creature straight from the island of Dr. Moreau.

The sculpture of Alice 2.0, left, with Alice Roberts, right
Courtesy of October Films

The sculpture has legs like an ostrich because, as Roberts says on her website, the human knee is complex and prone to failure. Like humans, ostriches are bipedal, but they are far better runners. Bird-like lungs that keep air flowing in one direction, not two, make running and other aerobic activities easier for the perfect human to manage. And a chimpanzee’s sturdier spine and a dog’s heart (which has more connected arteries, leading to lower heart attack risk) make Roberts’s alternate self more resistant to injury and disease.

Robert’s ideal human body also has skin like a frog that can change shades based on the environment, and large, bat-like ears that amplify sound. Roberts also fixed humans’ backwards retina, which produces a natural blind spot, by borrowing from octopus eye anatomy.

Perhaps most disturbing of all is the baby head poking out of the sculpture’s marsupial pouch. Roberts says marsupial pregnancy would be far easier on the human body and more convenient for parents on the go.

“This could be a human fit for the future,” Roberts says at the end of a trailer for her BBC documentary.

[h/t Motherboard]

Employees at Antarctica's McMurdo Station Are Throwing a Party for Pride Month

Employees at Antarctica's McMurdo Station are gearing up to celebrate Pride month in one of the world's harshest environments. On Saturday, June 9, the station will host what Hannah Valian, who deals with the center's recycling efforts, calls "one of the larger parties ever thrown" at the station.

McMurdo Station is an Antarctic research facility owned and operated by the United States. The station is more sparsely populated during Antarctica's colder autumn and winter seasons (which run from March to September), but employees tell us there's still a decent-sized LGBTQ scene to celebrate this June.

About 10 of the 133 people currently at McMurdo identify as LGBTQ, says Rachel Bowens-Rubin, a station laboratory assistant. Valian said the idea for a Pride celebration came up in May at one of the station's regular LGBTQ socials.

"Everyone got really excited about it," she tells Mental Floss via email. "So we ran with it."

Ten individuals are wearing coats while holding a rainbow-colored Pride flag. They are standing in snow with mountains in the distance.
"I hope when people see this photo they'll be reminded that LGBTQ people aren't limited to a place, a culture, or a climate," McMurdo's Evan Townsend tells Mental Floss. "We are important and valuable members of every community, even at the bottom of the world."
Courtesy of Shawn Waldron

Despite reports that this is the continent's first Pride party, none of the event's organizers are convinced this is the first Pride celebration Antarctica has seen. Sous chef Zach Morgan tells us he's been attending LGBTQ socials at McMurdo since 2009.

"The notion is certainly not new here," he says.

To Evan Townsend, a steward at the station, this weekend's Pride event is less a milestone and more a reflection of the history of queer acceptance in Antarctica.

"If anything," Townsend says, "recognition belongs to those who came to Antarctica as open members of the LGBTQ community during much less welcoming times in the recent past."

This week, though, McMurdo's employees only had positive things to say about the station's acceptance of LGBTQ people.

"I have always felt like a valued member of the community here," Morgan tells us in an email. "Most people I've met here have been open and supportive. I've never felt the need to hide myself here, and that's one of the reasons I love working here."

Saturday's celebration will feature a dance floor, photo booth, lip sync battles, live music, and a short skit explaining the history of Pride, Valian says.

"At the very least, I hope the attention our Pride celebration has garnered has inspired someone to go out and explore the world, even if they might feel different or afraid they might not fit in," Morgan says. "'Cause even on the most inhospitable place on Earth, there's still people who will love and respect you no matter who you are."


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