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Anne Holland
Anne Holland

Super Badass Pocket Protectors

Anne Holland
Anne Holland

Welcome to our new series Floss:Handmade, where we showcase creative products we've added to the mental_floss store and the people who make them.

Anne Hollond is a proud nerd. In her previous life in the graduate Classics department at the University of MInnesota, she even sported a pocket protector.

When she and her husband had their first child, Anne stored away her books and papers and left her pockets vulnerable for a while. Eight years and four children later, Anne decided to take her sewing talents to Etsy and, when exploring some design concepts with upholstery vinyl and oilcloth, she, in her own words, “…had the urge to make a super badass pocket protector.” After testing them with some of her friends and acquaintances—including her uber-nerd dad—Anne made the pocket protectors available in her Etsy shop.

Consumer interest in the novelty of the vibrant and stylish take on a classic nerd accessory eventually gave way to genuine appreciation for the item’s utility and the quality of Anne’s craftsmanship. Anne thought the product could use a little something more.

She decided to add notecards and a pen to the set. But she wanted these items to be unique, too. She acquired a vintage Chandler and Price PILOT bench-top press third-hand and some antique typeface from a printing company in Dallas that was closing up shop. She took a few letterpress-printing classes and, again, began to see what she could do with it.

Anne fights the nerd fight in her basement studio of her rustic 1910 Kansas farmhouse.  But Project Nerd Power does not stop with the parent generation of the Hollond family—Anne and her husband contribute to the cause by promoting nerd pride in the next generation. In fact, after we had agreed on our exclusive mental_floss pocket protector kit styles, Anne had to take a little time prior to production to travel with her family to Washington, D.C. where one of the Hollond children competed in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Anne maintains her connection to the Classics by teaching Latin and Greek to her children.  And her pockets?  Well, they’re pristine, of course.

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Why Can Parrots Talk and Other Birds Can't?
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If you've ever seen a pirate movie (or had the privilege of listening to this avian-fronted metal band), you're aware that parrots have the gift of human-sounding gab. Their brains—not their beaks—might be behind the birds' ability to produce mock-human voices, the Sci Show's latest video explains below.

While parrots do have articulate tongues, they also appear to be hardwired to mimic other species, and to create new vocalizations. The only other birds that are capable of vocal learning are hummingbirds and songbirds. While examining the brains of these avians, researchers noted that their brains contain clusters of neurons, which they've dubbed song nuclei. Since other birds don't possess song nuclei, they think that these structures probably play a key role in vocal learning.

Parrots might be better at mimicry than hummingbirds and songbirds thanks to a variation in these neurons: a special shell layer that surrounds each one. Birds with larger shell regions appear to be better at imitating other creatures, although it's still unclear why.

Learn more about parrot speech below (after you're done jamming out to Hatebeak).

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