Monday, February 23

Music Monday: Opera

by Scott Lydon


Happy Music Monday! Opera is often considered to be complex, hard to get into, overly dramatic... and that's all wrong wrong wrong. Scott's here to set you all straight with five lovely opera pieces that you will enjoy. Or else.

Jacques Offenbach: Les Contes d'Hoffmann - Barcarolle

 

Let's start with a setting here: the day after having his heart broken by an underage robot, the writer awakes in a whore-covered tavern where his muse is protecting him. No, that's not the start of a new Warren Ellis anime! That's the second act of "The Trials Of Hoffman" and it's like an opera MADE for comic book nerds! Where you at, Christopher Nolan? Why can't you do for this what you did for Batman! Also, the music is lovely, as you'll see when you listen to the above video.

Can you believe there's still more to come? Well, there is. Come inside and enjoy.

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Tuesday, February 17

The Debunker: Do People Have Five Senses?

by Ken Jennings

In addition to his day job as Woot's full-time "Debunker," Jeopardy! wunderkind Ken Jennings moonlights as an author of books, and this month he has a new one in stores. It's the fifth in his Junior Genius series, this time chock-full of amazing facts about The Human Body. To mark the occasion, he'll spend all of February debunking anatomical anachronisms and medical misinformation for us. Finally: the inside scoop about our own insides.

The Debunker: Do People Have Five Senses?

"There is no sixth sense in addition to the five enumerated: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch," wrote Aristotle in his landmark work De Anima, or On the Soul. And for the next two thousand years, Western civilization stuck with this view: five senses, period. "Sixth sense" became shorthand for some rare, ephemeral, unclassifiable-by-science gift, like telepathy.

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Monday, February 16

Music Monday: Heartbreak Soul

by Scott Lydon


Happy Music Monday! The holiday season is now official over! Well, until October, at least. So let's purge those sad and lonely feelings from our hearts today so we can get on with enjoying the spring and summer. Scott's got five songs about heartbreak, just to wrap things up on V-Day.

Issac Hayes - Walk On By

 

What really makes this song is the slow, passionate build-up. It's like watching two people have a fight on the other side of a window. You can't hear what they're saying, but you know what's ending. By the time the lyrics start, you just wanna buy poor ol' Issac a beer.

More inside, right after the jump.

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Tuesday, February 10

The Debunker: Is the Heart on the Left Side of Your Body?

by Ken Jennings

In addition to his day job as Woot's full-time "Debunker," Jeopardy! wunderkind Ken Jennings moonlights as an author of books, and this month he has a new one in stores. It's the fifth in his Junior Genius series, this time chock-full of amazing facts about The Human Body. To mark the occasion, he'll spend all of February debunking anatomical anachronisms and medical misinformation for us. Finally: the inside scoop about our own insides.

The Debunker: Is the Heart on the Left Side of Your Body?

With Valentine's Day coming up, we're all more aware than usual that there's no greater mystery than the human heart. But it would probably surprise you how little most people know about their own heart. Including where it even is.

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Tuesday, February 03

The Debunker: Does Lactic Acid Make Your Muscles Tired?

by Ken Jennings

In addition to his day job as Woot's full-time "Debunker," Jeopardy! wunderkind Ken Jennings moonlights as an author of books, and this month he has a new one in stores. It's the fifth in his Junior Genius series, this time chock-full of amazing facts about The Human Body. To mark the occasion, he'll spend all of February debunking anatomical anachronisms and medical misinformation for us. Finally: the inside scoop about our own insides.

The Debunker: Does Lactic Acid Make Your Muscles Tired?

If you ever went to a gym- or a gym class - in the late 20th century, you probably heard this helpful exercise "fact": the reason why muscles get sore and give out, my fifth grade P.E. teacher assured us, is a chemical called lactic acid. Yup, the same stuff that makes sour milk sour and yogurt yogurt-y. It's in the body as well, and when it's produced by active muscles, it eventually causes fatigue and then soreness. Burning, overworked muscles were a sign of lactic acid building up, a warning sign from your body that you need to dial it back a bit.

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Tuesday, January 27

The Debunker: Does the Word "Gringo" Come from Songs of the Mexican-American War?

by Ken Jennings

In January, we stand at the frontier of a new year. Obviously, there's no better month to remember that other mythic uncharted territory, the American frontier of the Old West! In the Western classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a newspaper editor famously says, "This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." But that attitude has led to a lot of frontier lore that's just plain loco. We've asked Jeopardy gunfighter Ken Jennings to separate fact from legend--and print only the facts. Let's see if he can clean up this town.

The Debunker: Does the Word "Gringo" Come from Songs of the Mexican-American War?

Etymology rule of thumb: as well-known stories about word origins become more and more "fun" and improbable, the likelihood that they are true approaches zero. Take the word gringo, a scornful Spanish slang word for anglo types. According to an oft-told story, gringo dates back to the Mexican-American War, when American soldiers were frequently overheard singing marching songs like "Green Grow the Rushes" and "Green Grow the Lilacs." Gringo is actually a corruption of the words "green grow," this theory would have you believe.

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Tuesday, January 20

The Debunker: Did Jesse James's Gang Rob from the Rich and Give to the Poor?

by Ken Jennings

In January, we stand at the frontier of a new year. Obviously, there's no better month to remember that other mythic uncharted territory, the American frontier of the Old West! In the Western classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a newspaper editor famously says, "This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." But that attitude has led to a lot of frontier lore that's just plain loco. We've asked Jeopardy gunfighter Ken Jennings to separate fact from legend--and print only the facts. Let's see if he can clean up this town.

The Debunker: Did Jesse James's Gang Rob from the Rich and Give to the Poor?

In 1882, the famed outlaw Jesse James was shot in the back by one of his gang members, Robert Ford (Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck, if you saw the movie). The shooting was immortalized in the folk song "Jesse James," which takes a strongly pro-Jesse/anti-Ford stance. Robert Ford is dismissed as a "dirty little coward," while Jesse James is lauded because "he stole from the rich and he gave to the poor." "He'd never see a man suffer pain," insists the star-struck balladeer. "He'd never rob a mother or child." The song, covered by everyone from Woody Guthrie to Bruce Springsteen, has cemented in the public mind the notion that Jesse James was a colorful do-gooder. Sure, maybe he was an outlaw, but the noble Robin Hood kind! A likable rascal!

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Friday, January 16

A Crappy Change

by Sam Kemmis

Adam Smith said, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” And, if he had lived in today’s world, he almost certainly would have added “erstwhile deal-a-day e-commerce subsidiaries” to that list. 

Which is all highfalutin preamble to saying that we’re raising the price of the Bag Of Crap by $2 and not improving the quality whatsoever

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Monday, January 12

The Debunker: Did Cowboys Wear Ten-Gallon Hats?

by Ken Jennings

In January, we stand at the frontier of a new year. Obviously, there's no better month to remember that other mythic uncharted territory, the American frontier of the Old West! In the Western classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a newspaper editor famously says, "This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." But that attitude has led to a lot of frontier lore that's just plain loco. We've asked Jeopardy gunfighter Ken Jennings to separate fact from legend--and print only the facts. Let's see if he can clean up this town.

The Debunker: Did Cowboys Wear Ten-Gallon Hats?

Real talk: no hat can hold ten gallons, not even Pharrell's. Your average Stetson has a maximum carrying capacity of three quarts, just 7.5% of what's advertised. Not sure why you'd want to carry liquid in your hat, cowpokes, but "let the buyer beware" is all I'm saying.

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Tuesday, January 06

The Debunker: Was There a Gunfight at the O.K. Corral?

by Ken Jennings

In January, we stand at the frontier of a new year. Obviously, there's no better month to remember that other mythic uncharted territory, the American frontier of the Old West! In the Western classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a newspaper editor famously says, "This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." But that attitude has led to a lot of frontier lore that's just plain loco. We've asked Jeopardy gunfighter Ken Jennings to separate fact from legend--and print only the facts. Let's see if he can clean up this town.

The Debunker: Was There a Gunfight at the O.K. Corral?

If Westerns were accurate, they'd be the most sedate movie and TV genre ever. They'd make Errol Morris documentaries look like Errol Flynn movies. They'd make BBC costume dramas look like Sons of Anarchy. That's because, despite what Hollywood would have you believe, violence was uncommon in the "Wild" West. Six-shooters were too inaccurate and ammo too expensive for precision dueling at high noon. Most frontier towns were safe, quiet places where visitors had to surrender firearms to the sheriff upon arrival. Don't tell the NRA.

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