Unraveling the Legend of Polybius, the Most Dangerous Video Game of the 1980s

iStock
iStock

For several decades, a creepy urban legend has circulated in the darker corners of online forums devoted to vintage video games. The tale goes that in 1981, a game with some unfortunate side effects appeared in a few suburban arcades in Portland, Oregon. The game was said to have been housed in an all-black cabinet, and while playing it was fun, gamers soon noticed they were feeling terrible after their sessions—suffering from extreme anxiety, seizures, night terrors, and an obsessive desire to continue playing. Some were even said to have attempted suicide.

To make matters even weirder, men in black supposedly visited the cabinet every few weeks to collect some kind of data—not money—from the back of the machine. And just a few months after it appeared, the game was gone. Its name: Polybius.

Some said the game was connected to MKUltra, a (real) CIA program experimenting with behavior modification techniques and LSD from the 1950s through the '70s, although no evidence of that was ever found. Recently, Great Big Story's series "8 Bit Legacy: The Curious History of Video Games" set out to investigate Polybius, and found some surprising truths behind the mystery. They also found some fans attempting to recreate the game—hopefully minus the ill effects. You can learn more below:

Invasive Snakehead Fish That Can Breathe on Land Is Roaming Georgia

Mohd Fazlin Mohd Effendy Ooi, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Mohd Fazlin Mohd Effendy Ooi, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A fish recently found in Georgia has wildlife officials stirred up. In fact, they’re advising anyone who sees a northern snakehead to kill it on sight.

That death sentence might sound extreme, but there’s good reason for it. The northern snakehead, which can survive for brief periods on land and breathe air, is an invasive species in North America. With one specimen found in a privately owned pond in Gwinnett County, the state wants to take swift action to make certain the fish, which is native to East Asia, doesn’t continue to spread. Non-native species can upset local ecosystems by competing with native species for food and habitat.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division is advising people who encounter the snakehead—a long, splotchy-brown fish that can reach 3 feet in length—to kill it and freeze it, then report the catch to the agency's fisheries office.

Wildlife authorities believe snakeheads wind up in non-native areas as a result of the aquarium trade or food industry. A snakehead was recently caught in southwestern Pennsylvania. The species has been spotted in 14 states.

[h/t CNN]

11 Funny Gag Gifts You Can Buy on Amazon

Chia Pet/Amazon
Chia Pet/Amazon

Buying gifts for a friend or loved one can be stressful, but a funny gag gift can bring a little levity to any occasion. Whether you’re looking for the perfect hilarious birthday present, or just want to give one as a prank, we’ve got gag gift ideas for a range of different types of humor—and they prove there's no present sweeter than the gift of laughter.

1. Thor’s Hammer Bottle Opener

Thor's Hammer Bottle Opener.
Lmaytech/Amazon

This model of Thor's hammer won’t grant you dominion over thunder and lightning, but it will make short work of bottle caps: It's equipped with an opener at one end and a chain on the other for easy attachment. It comes in silver and bronze, with the famous line, "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor," emblazoned on the side. And because it's fairly lightweight, you don’t need the strength of a demigod to wield it.

Buy It: Amazon ($12)

2. Burrito Blanket

A burrito blanket gag gift you can buy on Amazon.
mermaker/Amazon

Available in a variety of styles and sizes, the burrito blanket is the perfect gag gift for the foodie in your life. Rolling yourself up inside one of these circular, tortilla-patterned numbers is a riot—and since they’re made with extra-soft flannel, it’s a comfy experience to boot!

Buy It: Amazon ($25)

3. UFO Plant Holder

A UFO plant holder gag gift on Amazon.
Fred & Friends/Amazon

Instead of little green men, this UFO-shaped container holds little green houseplants. Hang the tiny mothership from your ceiling with the silver cord—or prop it up at ground level, if you prefer. At 5.25 inches wide by 4.5 inches tall, it’s the ideal size for cacti, jade plants, and other popular greens.

Buy It: Amazon ($18)

4. How to Tell if Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You

The Best Gag Gifts to Buy on Amazon.
The Oatmeal/Amazon

You love your cat—but do you really trust your cat? How to Tell if Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You shows you all of the warning signs that your favorite feline might, in fact, be a tiny killer. Full of hilarious comics from Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal), this book is a twisted little gag gift perfect for cat lovers with a sense of humor.

Buy It: Amazon ($15)

5. Golden Girls Coloring Book

A Golden Girls coloring book gag gift.
DBG/Amazon

You’re not going to prank your friends with a Golden Girls coloring book gag gift, but they’ll definitely get a laugh out of it. Get your friend some colored pencils and watch them do their best to add life to the pantsuits and gourmet cheesecakes of Rose, Blanche, Dorothy, and Sophia.

Buy It: Amazon ($12)

6. Toilet Coffee Mug

A toilet mug gag gift you can buy on Amazon.
BigMouth Inc/Amazon

Feeling flushed? Perk yourself up with a swig of your favorite beverage from this toilet-shaped coffee mug gag gift. It holds over 15 ounces worth of liquid and is pretty much guaranteed to make your co-workers do a double take.

Buy It: Amazon ($13)

7. World’s Smallest Vacuum

A vacuum gag gift you can buy on Amazon.
Westminster/Amazon

This gag gift literally sucks. Despite being a little over 5 inches long, it’s a functional vacuum cleaner perfect for tight spaces. Just plug it in and suck up all those crumbs that mysteriously appeared on your desk. The mini vacuum is also a great tool for cleaning keyboards—and should get some hearty laughs in the process.

Buy It: Amazon ($14)

8. Poop Emoji Chia Pet

Poop Emoji Chia Pet Gag Gift.
Chia

Look at the sneaky smile on this Chia Pet's face. OK, so it might not be the puppy or kitten Chia Pet that you're used to, but this poop emoji pet ;should absolutely be a contender if you're searching for the best gag gift for a friend who views toilet humor as high art.

Buy It: Amazon ($17)

9. “Cat Bods” Toy Box

The best gag gift to buy on Amazon for a cat lover.
30 Watt/Amazon

Like moths drawn to a flame, cats can’t resist cardboard boxes. But they’ll never find a cooler one than this little beauty. Four of the outside walls are decorated with dynamic pictures of daring astronauts, muscle-bound bodybuilders, and other go-getters. Carefully placed holes allow your cat to become a part of these scenes when it pokes its head through. Keep a camera handy and enjoy the show.

Buy It: Amazon ($9)

10. Unisex Bass Sandals

Bass slipper gag gift on Amazon.
Han shan/Amazon

Talk about going against the current. Vibrantly colored, slack-jawed fish sandals are unlike anything else you’re likely to see at the beach (or anywhere, really). Just like real fish, their sizes and colors vary.

Buy It: Amazon ($18-$22)

11. Pooping Pooches 2020 WalL Calendar

Pooping Pooches 2020 Wall Calendar.
Pooping Pooches

It's just man's best friend doing their business, but now you can put it right on your wall. This Pooping Pooches calendar is just offbeat enough to bring a smile to the face of any animal lover. And they'll be even more thankful once you tell them that $1 from every calendar sold is donated to the Maui Humane Society to support animals in need. So get a gag gift for a good cause.

Buy It: Amazon ($17)

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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