Now Hiring: A Hairdresser for an Antarctic Research Station

iStock
iStock

If you can cut a bob or a buzz a head and don't mind wearing a parka while you wield your scissors, the U.S. Antarctic Program has just the job for you. The government organization, which runs scientific research and support services on the southernmost continent, is looking for an official hairdresser.

The successful applicant will be responsible for providing haircuts to all personnel at McMurdo Station, the largest of the three American research bases in Antarctica. (It hosts about 1000 scientists and staff in the high season.) The stylist would serve during the austral summer—from November through March—when the sun never sets and temperatures may reach a high of 46°F.

Gana-A'Yoo, an Anchorage, Alaska-based staffing company, is handling the hiring process. Qualified candidates will be expected to excel in salon management, including scheduling appointments, monitoring supplies, laundering towels and robes, sweeping the floors, and abiding by sanitation rules. Applicants should be licensed cosmetologists with on-the-job experience totaling two years.

A barber gives a man a haircut in Antarctica
In this photo from the 1970s, a barber experiments on a client at Antarctica New Zealand's Vanda research station.

"Experience with military haircuts is preferred," the job posting advises.

McMurdo personnel are unusually lucky to get a trained stylist on duty—other researchers working on the continent have to deal with much less experienced hands. At the Australian Antarctic Division's bases, for instance, random workers with minimal snipping skills volunteer for the job. At its Mawson Station, a volunteer named Peter Cubit admitted in a blog post that he was a little nervous, "but as everybody knows, there's only a week between a good or bad haircut." At the Davis Station, a French chef named Sebastian stepped into the role—and, because Antarctica is a mostly cashless society, he accepted payments of two beers for a men's trim and a glass of red wine for a women's cut.

Haircuts, professional or otherwise, are a long tradition in Antarctica—in 1992, archaeologists investigating Robert Falcon Scott's hut at Cape Evans discovered a plate-glass photographic negative of a man getting a haircut, believed to have been taken during Ernest Shackleton's 1914-1917 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.

Man Opens Can of Beans, Finds Just One Bean

Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Oli Scarff/Getty Images

In Heinz-sight, Steve Smith should’ve ordered take-out for his Tuesday night dinner.

The 41-year-old Conservative councilor in Bristol, England told The Independent that he returned home late from a residents’ meeting and tore open the last can of Heinz Beanz from a multipack in the cupboard.

What he found inside would’ve broken the spirit of even the most steadfast optimist: A pathetic, lone bean drowned in a sea of savory-yet-unsatisfying bean juice.

Smith handled the catastrophe the old-fashioned way, by tweeting a video of his miserable meal and tagging the culpable corporation.

“I thought it was funny—but annoying,” Smith told The Independent. “I thought they might see the funny side.” Heinz responded with an apology and a request for Smith’s details, hopefully to offer him a lifetime supply of beans.

To put it in perspective, an average can of Heinz contains around 465 beans, enough to make your intestines groan. Smith said he eats a can every couple weeks.

For those of you worried that the woebegone bloke went to bed famished, you can rest assured that this story has a happy ending ... at least if you associate happy endings with eggs. Smith scrambled some up to fill the leguminous void in his stomach (and his heart).

[h/t The Independent]

Here's Why You Can't Keep Your Loved One's Skull

hayatikayhan/iStock via Getty Images
hayatikayhan/iStock via Getty Images

Even if showcasing your grandfather’s skull on your living room mantle is the type of offbeat tribute he absolutely would have loved, your chances of making it happen are basically zilch. Mortician Caitlin Doughty explains exactly why in her new book Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions From Tiny Mortals About Death, excerpted by The Atlantic.

Having written permission from dear old Gramps stating that you are allowed to—and, in fact, should—display his skull after his death simply isn’t enough, for two reasons. First of all, most funeral homes lack the equipment required to decapitate a corpse and thoroughly de-flesh the skull. Doughty admits that she doesn’t even know what that process would entail, though her best guess for a proper cleaning involves dermestid beetles, which museums and forensic labs often use to “delicately eat the dead flesh off a skeleton without destroying the bones.” Unfortunately, the average funeral home doesn’t keep flesh-eating beetles on retainer.

The second hindrance to your macabre mantle statement piece is a legal matter. In order to maintain respect for the dead, abuse-of-corpse laws prevent funeral homes from handing over corpses or bones, but the terms differ widely from state to state. Kentucky’s law, for example, prohibits using a corpse in any way that would “outrage ordinary family sensibilities,” but leaves it entirely open to interpretation how an “ordinary family” would behave.

Sometimes, of course, it’s relatively obvious. Doughty recounts the case of Julia Pastrana, who suffered from hypertrichosis, a condition that caused hair growth all over her face and body. Her husband had her corpse taxidermied and displayed it in freak shows during the 19th century as a money-making scheme—a clear example of corpse abuse. Since the laws are so ambiguous, however, funeral professionals err on the side of caution.

Funeral homes also must submit a burial-and-transit permit for each body so the state has a record of where that body went, and the usual options are burial, cremation, or donation to science. “There is no ‘cut off the head, de-flesh it, preserve the skull, and then cremate the rest of the body’ option,” Doughty says. “Nothing even close.”

If you’re thinking the laws sound vague enough that it’s worth a shot, law professor and human-remains law expert Tanya Marsh might convince you otherwise. As she told Doughty, “I will argue with you all day long that it isn’t legal in any state in the United States to reduce a human head to a skull.”

The laws about buying or selling human remains also vary by state, and are “vague, confusing, and enforced at random,” according to Doughty. Many privately sold bones come from India and China, and, though eBay has banned the sale of human remains, there are other ways of procuring a stranger's skull online “if you are willing to engage in some suspect internet commerce,” Doughty says.

[h/t The Atlantic]

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