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Inuit Snow Goggles

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of James A. Houston, 1969, www.metmuseum.org

This small pair of snow goggles, made of antler, pigment, and sinew, was created in Canada’s Hudson Bay by an unidentified Inuit craftsperson at the turn of the 20th century. The goggles, held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, were intended for a child’s use. Unlike many other examples of Inuit snow goggles, this pair is convex, and would stand out from a child’s face, rather than lying flat on her cheeks; the part that’s decorated with pigment is on the top of the goggles, so that an adult looking down at a child’s head might see the embellishments. 

Photokeratitis, sometimes known as snow blindness, is caused by ultraviolet light amplified while reflecting off the white of a snowy landscape. (You might think that a bright, sunny day would put eyes more at risk of damage, but in actuality, as Antarctic explorers of the first half of the 20th century found, cloudy days with diffuse light could be just as dangerous.) The condition can be intensely painful and requires days of recovery, which poses a serious problem for people who need to travel through all-white landscapes. 

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of James A. Houston, 1969, www.metmuseum.org

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of James A. Houston, 1969, www.metmuseum.org

The Inuit solution—snow goggles like these—allowed people to travel long distances without suffering the pain of photokeratitis. “Unlike sunglasses, [Inuit] snow goggles do not mist or ice over in the polar climate,” writes ophthalmologist Mogens Norn, who looked at Inuit snow goggles held in Danish and Greenlandic museums and assessed their usefulness in a 1996 study. Their simplicity equals stability of use; a wearer would not find himself taking off the goggles to clean them, putting himself at risk of exposure. While pointing out that the goggles restrict the wearer’s visual field—“there is a risk of stumbling, as the wearer cannot see depressions in the ground”—Norn writes that the goggles he tested did work well to protect eyes from ultraviolet light and visible short-wave light, which cause snow-blindness.

This pair is carved from antler, but some Inuit goggles, especially those made later in the 20th century, have been made from wood. “Gunpowder or soot mixed with oil and rubbed on the outside cuts down on the glare even more,” writes Jessica Metcalfe on her Beyond the Buckskin blog, in a post that also features a neat photo of a Canadian First Nations man identified only as “Anavik,” wearing some wooden snow goggles in 1916.

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Afternoon Map
The Most Popular Infomercial Product in Each State

You don't have to pay $19.95 plus shipping and handling to discover the most popular infomercial product in each state: AT&T retailer All Home Connections is giving that information away for free via a handy map.

The map was compiled by cross-referencing the top-grossing infomercial products of all time with Google Trends search interest from the past calendar year. So, which crazy products do people order most from their TVs?

Folks in Arizona know that it's too hot there to wear layers; that's why they invest in the Cami Secret—a clip-on, mock top that gives them the look of a camisole without all the added fabric. No-nonsense New Yorkers are protecting themselves from identity theft with the RFID-blocking Aluma wallet. Delaware's priorities are all sorted out, because tons of its residents are still riding the Snuggie wave. Meanwhile, Vermont has figured out that Pajama Jeans are the way to go—because who needs real pants?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular product in many states has to do with fitness and weight loss, because when you're watching TV late enough to start seeing infomercials, you're probably also thinking to yourself: "I need to get my life together. I should get in shape." Seven states—Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin—have invested in the P90X home fitness system, while West Virginia and Arkansas prefer the gentler workout provided by the Shake Weight. The ThighMaster is still a thing in Illinois and Washington, while Total Gym and Bowflex were favored by South Dakota and Wyoming, respectively. 

Kitchen items are clearly another category ripe for impulse-buying: Alabama and North Dakota are all over the George Forman Grill; Alaska and Rhode Island are mixing things up with the Magic Bullet; and Floridians must be using their Slice-o-matics to chop up limes for their poolside margaritas.

Cleaning products like OxiClean (D.C. and Hawaii), Sani Sticks (North Carolina), and the infamous ShamWow (which claims the loyalty of Mainers) are also popular, but it's Proactiv that turned out to be the big winner. The beloved skin care system claimed the top spot in eight states—California, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas—making it the most popular item on the map.

Peep the full map above, or check out the full study from All Home Connections here.

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Design
A Florida Brewery Created Edible Six-Pack Rings to Protect Marine Animals

For tiny scraps of plastic, six-pack rings can pose a huge threat to marine life. Small enough and ubiquitous enough that they’re easy to discard and forget about, the little plastic webs all too often make their way to the ocean, where animals can ingest or become trapped in them. In order to combat that problem, Florida-based Saltwater Brewery has created what they say is the world’s first fully biodegradable, compostable, edible six-pack rings.

The edible rings are made of barley and wheat and are, if not necessarily tasty, at least safe for animals and humans to ingest. Saltwater Brewery started packaging their beers with the edible six-pack rings in 2016. They charge slightly more for their brews to offset the cost of the rings' production. They hope that customers will be willing to pay a bit more for the environmentally friendly beers and are encouraging other companies to adopt the edible six-pack rings in order to lower manufacturing prices and save more animals.

As Saltwater Brewery president Chris Gove says in the video above: “We want to influence the big guys and kind of inspire them to also get on board.”

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