Chris Higgins is the author of The Blogger Abides and writes for This American Life, The Atlantic, Breakfast on Mars, and The Magazine. You can follow him at chrishiggins.com.
There's a 4,000-year-old cemetery in the desert north of Tibet known as Small River Cemetery No. 5. In it, more than 200 mummies rest underneath a "vigorous forest of phallic symbols," and the corpses show signs of European and Siberian origin. So how did they end up in China? The New York Times gives us some clues in a new story: A Host of Mummies, a Forest of Secrets. But what really jumps out at me is all this talk of phalluses and proto-lingerie. Here's a snippet:
The cemetery lies in what... READ ON
Today's most important web video: a guy named Merton performing improvised Ben Folds-style piano songs during Chatroulette sessions. It's hilarious and wonderful and makes me feel like everything's gonna be oookay. If you watch one web video today, please let it be this one.
All right, let me back up and explain what's going on here: Chatroulette is a very NSFW chat service in which you randomly connect with strangers for video chats. All the kids are doing it these days, and there's a lot of... READ ON
The "Kuroshio Sea" is a super-gigantic fish tank located at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan. It's the second-largest tank in the world (second only to the Georgia Aquarium), holding nearly 2 million gallons of water, and housing four whale sharks (the world's biggest fish), among others. The video below shows spectators watching the action, and divers are visible inside the tank -- dwarfed by the fish, sharks, and manta rays. From the filmmaker's description:
The main tank called the... READ ON
Here's some Friday silliness for you. There's a whole blog devoted to chronicling bootleg action figures, from their bizarre (often misspelled) packaging to their awfully ill-conceived concepts. Pictured above: at left, Bat on a Board which features a shirtless gun-toting Batman on a comically oversized skateboard; at right, Super Bat, which features "non-fall action" preventing him from falling off of tabletops as he scoots around. Note also that "Super Bat" doesn't have Batman's ears; they've been... READ ON
"I've known a lot of fish in my life. I've loved only two." So chef/scholar Dan Barber begins a talk about fish sustainability, fish farming, and how we can keep fish on the menu. It's actually a really funny talk for such a serious issue -- Barber relates a series of stories about his search for a sustainable fish. It's smart, it's funny, and Barber knows his fish.
Discussed: fishing as "clear-cutting" the ocean, many fish farms pollute and are inefficient (15:1 ratio of fish food to tuna by... READ ON
Call me weird, but I love a good slow motion video of an animal drinking. No, not booze -- just good old-fashioned water. There's something mesmerizing about watching this stuff. Check it out! (Note: most clips don't have sound.)
Dog Drinking (Slow Motion)
Did you know that dogs' tongues curl backwards when drinking? Check it out.
Cat Drinking (Slow Motion)
Surprise -- cats do the same thing. How did I not know... READ ON
My fellow Americans, we face a grave challenge. Fashion comeback trends threaten to destabilize the very fabric of spacetime, such that by 2020 the universe will tear itself apart -- for technical and comedic reasons I can't go into right now. In the following film, President Reagan warns us of the impending threat.
Reagan: "A risk of this magnitude leaves us only one solution: the immediate abolition of fashion. Fashion designers will be executed, and dogs will be fed with their corpses. Then... READ ON
Here's an odd duck: Pink Terror Hawking, a short film featuring an interview with Stephen Hawking as part of its audio track, with mesmerizing visuals done in ultra-slow-motion, including: water balloons to the face, home-made flamethrowers, smashing watermelons, firecrackers, and more. Strange and fascinating.
Pink Terror Hawking from mike barzman on Vimeo.
See also: Stunning 1000-frames-per-second Slow Motion, Ultra Slo-Mo Video of Bullet Impacts, Hummingbirds in Slow Motion, and Mythbusters:... READ ON
Yes, this really happened: scurvy was "cured" as early as 1497, when Vasco de Gama's crew discovered the power of citrus...but this cure was repeatedly lost, forgotten, rediscovered, misconstrued, confused, and just generally messed around with for hundreds of years, despite being a leading killer of seafarers and other explorers. By the 1870s the "citrus cure" was discredited, and for nearly sixty years, scurvy -- despite being cured, with scientific research to back it up -- continued killing people,... READ ON
TechCrunch reports that YouTube has launched auto-captions for English-language videos. In short, they're using machine translation to provide subtitles (also known as "closed captioning") on many of their videos. Not every video can be auto-captioned, and the captions won't be perfect -- in fact, in many cases, I expect the captions will be quite bad. But it's a big step, and an exciting start. Video publishers can fine-tune the captions themselves, which should lead to a huge increase the amount (and... READ ON
The inventors of Bubble Wrap were originally trying to make plastic wallpaper.