Tuesday, November 11

The Debunker: Are Bats Blind?

by Ken Jennings

In November, we set our clocks an hour forward and officially say good-bye to an hour of daylight every evening. From now until spring, we're going to be spending most of our non-working hours in the dark: commuting home from the office when it's dark, making dinner when it's dark, meeting friends when it's dark, getting the kids to and from a million stupid activities in the dark. Ken Jennings, of Jeopardy! fame, is going to brighten this gloomy month with the light of knowledge, debunking some long-held myths about other nocturnal urban wanderers: the birds and critters you might see on a streetlit November night.

The Debunker: Are Bats Blind?

Bats are creepy flying nightmare-rats, but nature has taken pity on them in their grotesquery, and gifted them with one of the animal kingdom's all-time great superpowers: echolocation. Many bats emit ultrasonic chirps whose echoes they can use to navigate, communicate with other bats, and find prey. In other words, they can hunt at night without using eyesight. But bat-sonar wasn't proven until 1940, when Harvard zoologist Donald Griffin published his landmark paper on the phenomenon. The common expression "blind as a bat," however, dates back to the late 16th century. What gives?

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Monday, November 10

Music Monday: We Honor Jacob Cats

by Scott Lydon


Happy Music Monday! Today we honor the birthday of Jacob Cats, a Dutch poet. You all love Dutch poets, don’t you? Sure you do! And that’s why you’ll be joining Scott in this cat-themed tribute today. Or else.

Squeeze - Cool For Cats

 

Jacob Cats studied law, and was almost married, but caught a form of malaria just before he took his vows. He moved to England to consult the doctors there, but to no avail. He was finally cured by a traveling doctor who may have been a fraud!

Today’s your day to salute the great Jacob Cats. See you after the jump!

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Tuesday, November 04

The Debunker: Do Raccoons Wash Their Food?

by Ken Jennings

In November, we set our clocks an hour forward and officially say good-bye to an hour of daylight every evening. From now until spring, we're going to be spending most of our non-working hours in the dark: commuting home from the office when it's dark, making dinner when it's dark, meeting friends when it's dark, getting the kids to and from a million stupid activities in the dark. Ken Jennings, of Jeopardy! fame, is going to brighten this gloomy month with the light of knowledge, debunking some long-held myths about other nocturnal urban wanderers: the birds and critters you might see on a streetlit November night.

The Debunker: Do Raccoons Wash Their Food?

Raccoons are so associated with food-washing that their species name, Procyon lotor, literally means "the washing pre-dog." The French call the little guy le raton laveur--"the rat who washes." The popular myth is that of an animal who won't take a bite without thoroughly dunking its meal--which, if you ask me, is pretty snooty for an animal that gets a lot of its meals from garbage cans.

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Monday, November 03

Music Monday: Butts Butts Butts Butts Butts

by Kristy Tye



Happy Music Monday! It's me, the professed butt-lover and belove'd forum moderator, adq! I'm... I'm so sorry to you all for this week's selections already. I feel like it might be unnecessary to preface this with a warning, but these songs have NSFW lyrics and videos (depending, I guess, on your W).

Sir Mix-A-Lot - Baby Got Back

Oh my god, Becky, let's get this one out of the way. Sir Mix-A-Lot has provided us the quintessential butt song and karaoke favorite of thousands of aspiring "singers". It's led to the oft repeatable adage- "I enjoy large posteriors and I am incapable of deception" or something like that.

But, no doubt you've heard that one a million times already, that's only the tip of the gluteal iceberg, more after the cut!

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Tuesday, October 28

The Debunker: Did Mozart Write "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"?

by Ken Jennings

Human ignorance, sadly, isn't limited to planet Earth. Even today, over 400 years after the Age of Enlightenment began, plenty of people are still getting plenty of stuff wrong--not just about our home planet, but about the whole universe. Luckily, Jeopardy!s Ken Jennings is the author of a new book about the mysteries of the cosmos, the Junior Genius Guide to Outer Space. In this month's Debunker columns, he'll set us straight on a whole sky full of starry slip-ups. These are some misconceptions of truly astronomical proportion.

The Debunker: Star Myth #4: Did Mozart Write "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"?

The little-known fact that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote the melody for the children's song "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" is not so little-known as the wiseacre typically volunteering the "fact" would have you believe. I've seen the claim in Frommer's travel guides, children's books about Mozart, and even (ironically) a book about scientific misconceptions by Phil Plait, who blogs at Bad Astronomy. It's plausible enough, I guess. Who else would compose one of the world's most famous kids' songs but the world's most famous kid composer?

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Monday, October 27

Music Monday: Epic Hip-Hop

by Scott Lydon

Happy Music Monday! Are you one of those people who hate rap and hip hop as a genre? Yeah? Well, you’re as wrong as those people who hate all country or hate all classic rock. Today Scott’s challenging every one of you to join in with some epic rap songs. Because if you hate 100% of an entire genre, it’s not the genre’s fault. It’s yours.

Doug E. Fresh - The Show

 

Famously uncleared samples, beat boxing, funny accents, the “Six Minutes” stage reminder and banter between the MC’s. This is the Bohemian Rhapsody of hip hop, moving you from a backstage gathering to the big moment onstage, and perfect to sing in a car with your pals. Simply glorious and amazingly epic.

See you after the jump, everyone with taste! And the rest of you listen to this over and over until you catch on. Also here’s a heads up: after the jump some of the lyrics might be NSFW, okay? Okay.

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Tuesday, October 21

The Debunker: Are There Twelve Constellations in the Zodiac?

by Ken Jennings

Human ignorance, sadly, isn't limited to planet Earth. Even today, over 400 years after the Age of Enlightenment began, plenty of people are still getting plenty of stuff wrong--not just about our home planet, but about the whole universe. Luckily, Jeopardy!s Ken Jennings is the author of a new book about the mysteries of the cosmos, the Junior Genius Guide to Outer Space. In this month's Debunker columns, he'll set us straight on a whole sky full of starry slip-ups. These are some misconceptions of truly astronomical proportion.

The Debunker: Star Myth #3: Are There Twelve Constellations in the Zodiac?

Little-known fact: the relative positions of celestial bodies millions or hundreds of millions of miles from Earth do not, in fact, affect your mood, character, and luck on a day-to-day basis, despite what syndicated newspaper columns would have you believe. But the signs of the Zodiac are not just accidental, arbitrary superstitions. Astronomy and astrology are very different fields, but they share the same roots: man's earliest observations of the stars.

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Monday, October 20

Music Monday: Songs About You

by Scott Lydon

Happy Music Monday! Today’s all about you. Without you, where are we? We’re here, but alone. So lonely. Because without a you, there can’t be an us. :(

Alice Cooper - You And Me

 

There’s a lot you and me aren’t. But we’ve got all this, don’t we? And haven’t we developed a relationship over the years? Don’t we matter to each other? SAY YES, PLEASE! WE NEED THE COMMENTS!

There’s more to come inside, and it’s all for you. See you after the jump!

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