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The Wit of Dear Abby

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Pauline Phillips, the original Dear Abby, passed away at age 94. In tribute, here are ten of her best columns from years past.
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Did you hear about The Guy Who Secretly Outsourced His Own Job To China So He Could Watch Cat Videos? It was a sweet gig while it lasted, but since he wasn't a CEO, it eventually caught up with him.
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Designer Matteo Civaschi of Studio H-57 made a series of movie pictograms that spell out the entire plot. But you've certainly seen these classic films, so enjoy the short graphic versions.
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Oh no! Wall Street banks and financial services are cutting back on bonuses this year. The average Goldman-Sachs employee has gone from $660,000 a year to a mere $400,000 in 2012.
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I'm sure you've played basketball by tossing laundry in a hamper. It's even more fun when you have a friend to make your bank shot into a layup.
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10 Feature Films You Didn’t Realize Started As Shorts. You can bet that soon all film pitches will be done this way.
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Canadian architect and artist Philip Beesley created an entire artificial forest from a variety of materials, from laboratory equipment to feathers. And some of it even moves, giving it the illusion of life.
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The Ultimate Loyalty of Grieving Dogs. Meet a dozen of them who stood firmly by even after their masters' death.

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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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