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12 YouTube Facts for Their 10th Anniversary

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Like most of the world’s population with Internet access, we love YouTube. After all, where would society be without on-demand access to footage of cats getting stuck in boxes? Probably way more productive—but also a whole lot less entertaining. Check out 12 things you may not know about the world’s single biggest export of Rick Astley.  

1. You Could Give it a Secret Retro Look.

YouTube

Founded in 2005, YouTube escaped the visual nightmare that was the Internet circa the 1990s. But the site allowed users to give give it a cool retro look for their Geek Week promotion in 2013 by typing a “/ geekweek” code into the search prompt.

2. One Early Attempt to Find Content Was a Little Creepy.

According to the book YouTube: The Company and Its Founders, when the site needed some kind of video library during its 2005 launch, programmers decided to hit up Craig’s List in Los Angeles and Las Vegas with an offer: They’d pay $20 to any woman willing to upload 10 videos of herself to the site. Nobody replied.

3. Artificial Intelligence Loves Cat Videos Too.

In 2012, researchers at Google’x X lab constructed a neural computer network and let it “browse” YouTube. After combing through 10 million screen captures, the A.I. began to be able to distinguish between human and cat faces with consistency despite not being programmed to do so. Jeff Dean, who led the research, told press that “It basically invented the concept of a cat.”  

4. Their Top Cat Isn’t Real.

Simon’s Cat, an animated video series about a plump feline from animator Simon Tofield, has been viewed over a half-billion times, according to YouTube. That means Simon outranks actual kitten hall-of-famers like Maru, Grumpy Cat, and the one-hit wonder Surprised Kitty.

5. You Can Blur Your Face in a Video. 

YouTube

We’ve all been there: taking police cars out for joyrides and recording it, but worried about identifying details. Fortunately, Google remedied that back in 2012 by introducing a face-blurring feature for uploaders. Software detects facial features and obscures them, but it’s not selective, so if you want to smudge one face, you’ll have to smudge them all.

6. They Once Pulled Down All the Hitlers.

Downfall, a film depicting the final days of Adolf Hitler, features a scene where the Fuhrer throws a bit of a tantrum. Ever since, hundreds of videos have been created that plug in subtitles to (mis)represent the leader making a fuss over everything from bad customer service to Ben Affleck being cast as Batman. In 2010, Constantin Film alerted the site to the parodies and wanted them removed. YouTube complied, but it was a game of Whack-a-Mole: New videos were being uploaded constantly—including one in which Hitler complains about being removed from YouTube.

7. Journey Found Their New Lead Singer On the Site.

Losing a voice as distinctive as Steve Perry’s was a big blow to the band Journey, which had to make do without their lead vocalist beginning in 1996. In 2007, guitarist Neal Schon was browsing YouTube when he came across a video by Arnel Pineda, part of a Philippines Journey cover group. Pineda sounded so remarkably like Perry that Schon and the band signed him to a deal. They’ve been touring ever since.    

8. Unboxing Disney Toys Can Make You a Millionaire.

Well, not you, specifically. Someone already has that market cornered. According to Social Blade, which tracks the business valuations of content generators, the DisneyCollectorBR channel likely earns at least $1.5 million—and possibly much more—for unboxing Disney collectibles.

9. They’ll Give You a Gold-Plated Button For One Million Subscribers. 

YouTube

Got a cute cat? Have a neat idea involving Diet Coke and Mentos? Then you just may have a shot at getting one million subscribers to your YouTube channel. If you do, the site will commemorate the occasion by sending you a 24-karat gold-plated Play button. Only 100,000 subs? That’s all right: they’ll send you a silver button. Less than 100,000? Get to work.

10. The Longest Video is nearly 600 Hours.

When Jonathan Harchick uploaded a 571 hour video comprised of photo slides he took while touring Chile, he dared someone to try and top it. No one did, so he took it upon himself. Via his Moldy Toaster Media channel, Harchick delivered a 596.5 hour slog of a two-tone color pattern switching places. Leave it on and come back in 24 days. It will still be playing.

11. One Video Was Declared Fine Art.

Artist Petra Cortwright used her webcam to compose the above video, which she auctioned off during a 2013 digital art show held at the Phillips auction house. Titled rgb,d-lay, it depicts Cortwright holding her hair in a loop. The original video file was auctioned—Cortwright put a USB drive in a fancy box for the winner—and appraised based on the number of hits it had at the time of sale. It sold for $3200.

12. Viewers Really Want to Know How to Kiss.

YouTube has long since replaced those old Time-Life books on home repair, with thousands of videos devoted to instructionals. But according to the site, the most-searched tutorial isn’t for fixing a leaky faucet: it’s for how to kiss. (Number four: how to get a six-pack in three minutes.)

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If You Want Your Cat to Poop Out More Hairballs, Try Feeding It Beets
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Have you ever wondered if there’s a way to get your cat to poop out its hairballs instead of hacking them up? If so, you’re likely a seasoned cat owner whose tolerance for gross stuff has reached the point of no return. Luckily, there may be an easy way to get your cat to dispose of hairballs in the litter box instead of on your carpet, according to one study.

The paper, published in the Journal of Physiology and Animal Nutrition, followed the diets of 18 mixed-breed short-haired cats over a month. Some cats were fed straight kibble, while others were given helpings of beet pulp along with their regular meals. The researchers suspected that beets, a good source of fiber, would help move any ingested hair through the cats’ digestive systems, thus preventing it from coming back up the way it went in. Following the experiment, they found that the cats with the beet diet did indeed poop more.

The scientists didn’t measure how many hairballs the cats were coughing up during this period, so it's possible that pooping out more of them didn’t stop cats from puking them up at the same rate. But considering hairballs are a matter of digestive health, more regular bowel movements likely reduced the chance that cats would barf them up. The cat body is equipped to process large amounts of hair: According to experts, healthy cats should only be hacking hairballs once or twice a year.

If you find them around your home more frequently than that, it's a good idea to up your cat's fiber intake. Raw beet pulp is just one way to introduce fiber into your pet's diet; certain supplements for cats work just as well and actually contain beet pulp as a fiber source. Stephanie Liff, a veterinarian at Pure Paws Veterinary Care in New York, recommends psyllium powder to her patients. Another option for dealing with hairballs is the vegetable-oil based digestive lubricant Laxatone: According to Dr. Liff, this can "help to move hairballs in the correct direction."

[h/t Discover]

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Animals
John Lennon Was a Crazy Cat Lady
Chloe Efforn
Chloe Efforn

John Lennon was crazy about cats, and though he owned a couple of dogs (Sally and Bernard) over the years, he was better known for getting by with a little help from his feline friends.

1. ELVIS

Growing up, Lennon's beloved mother, Julia, had a named cat after Elvis Presley, whom Julia and John were both crazy about. The Lennons later realized they had misnamed Elvis when "he" gave birth to a litter of kittens in the cupboard, but they didn't change the cat's name based on that small mistake.

2. AND 3. TICH AND SAM

He had two other cats as a boy growing up in Liverpool: Tich and Sam. Tich passed away while Lennon was away at art school (which he attended from 1957 to 1960), and Sam was named after famous British diarist Samuel Pepys

4. TIM

One day, John Lennon found a stray cat in the snow, which his Aunt Mimi allowed him to keep. (John's Aunt Mimi raised him from a young boy through his late teenage years, and he affectionately referred to her as the Cat Woman.) He named the marmalade-colored half-Persian cat Tim.

Tim remained a special favorite of John's. Every day, he would hop on his Raleigh bicycle and ride to Mr. Smith's, the local fishmonger, where he would buy a few pieces of fish for Tim and his other cats. Even after John became famous as a Beatle, he would often call and check in on how Tim was doing. Tim lived a happy life and survived to celebrate his 20th birthday.

5. AND 6. MIMI AND BABAGHI

John and his first wife, Cynthia, had a cat named Mimi who was, of course, named after his Aunt Mimi. They soon got another cat, a tabby who they dubbed Babaghi. John and Cynthia continued acquiring more cats, eventually owning around 10 of them.

7. JESUS

As a Beatle, John had a cat named Jesus. The name was most likely John's sarcastic response to his "the Beatles are bigger than Jesus" controversy of 1966. But he wasn't the only band member with a cat named Jesus: Paul McCartney once had a trio of kittens named Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

8. AND 9. MAJOR AND MINOR

In the mid-1970s, John had an affair with his secretary, May Pang. One day, the studio receptionist brought a box of kittens into the recording studio where John and May were. "No," John immediately told May, "we can't, we're traveling too much." But she picked up one of the kittens and put it over her shoulder. Then John started stroking the kitten and decided to keep it. At the end of the day, the only other kitten left was a little white one that was so loud no one else wanted it. So they adopted it as well and named the pair Major and Minor.

10. AND 11. SALT AND PEPPER

John owned a pair of black and white cats with his wife Yoko Ono. As befitting John's offbeat sense of humor, many places report he christened the white cat Pepper and the black one Salt.

12. AND 13. GERTRUDE AND ALICE

John and Yoko also had two Russian Blue cats named Gertrude and Alice, who each met tragic ends. After a series of sicknesses, Gertrude was diagnosed with a virus that could become dangerous to their young son, Sean. John later said that he held Gertrude and wept as she was euthanized. 

Later, Alice jumped out of an open window in the Lennons' high-rise apartment at the Dakota and plunged to her death. Sean was present at the time of the accident, and he remembers it as the only time he ever saw his father cry.

14., 15. AND 16. MISHA, SASHA, AND CHARO

In later years, John also owned three cats he named Misha, Sasha, and Charo. Always an artist at heart, John loved to sketch his many cats, and he used some of these pictures as illustrations in his books.

This piece originally ran in 2012.

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