Category Archives: Fun!

Scientists Discover 330-Million-Year-Old Fossil, Name New Species After Joe Biden

CULLEN MCCUE
 March 22, 2022

Scientists have discovered what is believed to be the oldest ancestor of the octopus species after a 330 million-year-old fossil of a ten-armed squid was discovered. The researchers who discovered the fossil decided to name the prehistoric species after Joe Biden.

Scientists named the animal Syllipsimopodi bideni, derived from the Greek words “syllípsimos” for “prehensile” and “pódi” for “foot,” along with “bideni” after President Biden, according to a report from Forbes. The animal lives 330 million years ago in what is now Montana, and is believed to be the earliest known relative of octopuses and vampire squid.

It is the first and only known vampyropod to possess 10 functional appendages,” said lead author Christopher Whalen, a researcher at the American Museum of Natural History and Yale University. According to Whalen, the newly discovered fossil is 82 million years older than the earliest known animal from the group. That is more time separating the species from humans than the Tyrannosaurus rex.

Dutch Residents Plan to Throw Rotten Eggs at Jeff Bezos’ Superyacht Over Dismantling a Historic Bridge So it Can Pass-Through

Jim Hoft
February 6th, 2022

Local residents in Rotterdam, Netherlands, are organizing to throw rotten eggs at Jeff Bezos’ mega-yacht saying it will not pass the historic bridge “without a fight.”

According to reports, officials in the Dutch city of Rotterdam may dismantle part of the historic Koningshaven Bridge, also known as De Hef, to make way for Jeff Bezos’ superyacht.

The 417-foot yacht, named the Y721, which cost around £400 million, is being built at the Oceano shipyard in Alblasserdam, Netherlands. In order to get the boat out, part of the historic bridge should be dismantled temporarily.

After hearing the news, a local resident of Rotterdam organized an event on Facebook with the title, “Throwing eggs at superyacht Jeff Bezos.”

The event was organized by Pablo Strörmann. At the time of this writing, 10,000 have responded so far with 2,200 had chosen to attend and 7,800 people responded interested.

“Calling all Rotterdammers, take a box of (rotten) eggs with you, and let’s throw them en masse at Jeff’s superyacht when it sails through the Hef in Rotterdam. Rotterdam was built from the rubble by the people of Rotterdam, and we don’t just take that apart for the phallus symbol of a megalomaniac billionaire. Not without a fight!” Strörmann wrote.

More from Daily News:

A spokesperson for Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb’s office confirmed the middle section of the Dutch city’s bridge, known locally as De Hef, would be temporarily removed. Overall, it’s expected to take about two weeks and will provide the 130-foot clearance required for the luxury water vessel to pass through.

The move however, has triggered some backlash among locals, who have cited the bridge’s historic nature. It has stood in Rotterdam since 1927 and was severely damaged in a series of bombings carried out by the Nazis during World War II.

During renovations of the bridge in 2017, the city council promised residents the bridge it would never again be dismantled, but officials have said Bezos’ project will generate both revenue and jobs for the community.

Municipal project leader Marcel Walravens echoed the sentiment while rejecting suggestions to sail the partially finished boat beneath the bridge. He told AFP that it would be impractical.

“From an economic perspective and maintaining employment, the municipality considers this a very important project,” he said. “In addition, Rotterdam has also been declared the maritime capital of Europe. Shipbuilding and activity within that sector are therefore an important pillar of the municipality.”

The World’s Oldest Republic Reveals the Secret to Peace and Prosperity

Lawrence Reed
JANUARY 23rd, 2022

Only one country in the entire world can boast of more cars than people within its borders—an astounding 25 percent moreaccording to the most recent statistics.

Can you guess the country? I’ll give you a few more hints:

This fascinating enclave’s GDP per capita ranks among the highest on the planet, almost as high as that of the United States. It claims, credibly, to be home to the oldest existing sovereign state as well as the oldest constitutional republic. For most of its 17 centuries of existence, it’s been one of the freer and more tolerant of the world’s countries.

Reminiscent of the Roman Republic of more than two millennia ago, this country has not one but two heads of state. They are elected by the legislature, are coequal in their rather limited powers, and are subject to the strictest term limits in the world. Replacements are elected every six months! More women have served as heads of state in this country than in any other.

At the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, two athletes from this nation earned bronze and silver medals, thereby making it the smallest country to score in the competitions that year.

The country to which I refer is … (drum roll) – San Marino!

Its formal name is the Most Serene Republic of San Marino. It comprises just 38 square miles and about 33,000 people. I drove through it some years ago in less than an hour, including a stop for coffee and a souvenir. Landlocked and surrounded by Italy, it is situated on the slopes of Monte Titano (Mount Titan) in the Apennine Mountains in the northeast section of the Italian Peninsula.

San Marino derives its name from a Christian stonemason named Marinus, born in Croatia in 275 A.D. While working in the Italian city of Rimini in his 20s, his occasional preaching drew fire from the pagan Roman authorities. He was forced to flee and sought refuge atop Mount Titan. While in hiding there, he formed a chapel and eventually built a monastery. The mountain at the time was privately-owned (by a woman in nearby Rimini), who eventually gave it to Marinus as a gift. He declared it an independent state on September 3, 301 A.D. and to this day, the founding of the country is celebrated annually on that date.

Amazingly, Marinus and his tiny republic survived the Great Persecution (of Christians) under Roman Emperor Diocletian, whose rule ended in 305. Marinus not only survived to see Christianity decriminalized by Emperor Constantine in 313, he outlived Diocletian by more than half a century, dying in 366 at the ripe old age of 91.

The famed English explorer, archeologist and historian James Theodore Bent wrote a book about San Marino in 1879 that carried the provocative title, A Freak of Freedom. He reveals that when Marinus and a friend settled on the mountain, “They planted a cross on the summit of the rock, on which was inscribed the sole word ‘liberty,’ and hewed themselves beds beneath it, which are to be seen even now behind the high altar of a small church devoted to the purpose of protecting them…”

A thousand years later, Pope Boniface VIII dispatched an emissary to learn more about this curious patch of territory called San Marino. Bent recounts that when the emissary asked the San Marinese what they meant by the “liberty” they so proudly proclaimed, he was advised as follows:

…[M]en belong to themselves because they owe no homage to anyone amongst themselves, but only to the Master of all things.

It was under the papacy of Boniface VIII (1294-1303) that San Marino was twice ordered to pay tribute to the Catholic Church. If the country had had a king, perhaps he would have coughed up the cash as so many other monarchs of the day were happy to do. But the republicans of San Marino refused to pay. Officials of the Church backed off both times. “As prosperity increased under the kindly atmosphere of liberty,” writes Bent, “many envious eyes were cast up towards Mount Titan.”

Twice, the country’s longstanding independence was briefly interrupted. The forces of Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI, invaded and occupied San Marino for six months in 1503. His father’s successor, Pope Julius II, ordered Borgia to depart and leave the tiny enclave alone. When another greedy warlord occupied San Marino in October 1739, Pope Clement XII forced his expulsion just four months later.

Napoleon Bonaparte threatened to invade in the late 1790s but was talked out of it by one of San Marino’s two top politicians (the coequal consuls known as Captains Regent). The French dictator even offered to extend San Marino’s territory east to the Adriatic but the republic politely refused. It’s one of the reasons the tiny country is so well liked in the region. It minds its own business.

Another reason is its role as a haven for the oppressed. It took in many endangered people during the conflicts over Italian unification in the 19th Century. During World War II, it opened its doors to 100,000 refugees—a figure several times as large as its own population.

San Marino is not a member of the European Union, though it shares an open border with the EU and uses the Euro as its currency. A proposal to join the EU was put forth in a national referendum in 2013. It failed because voter turnout was too low to meet the quorum requirement of 32 percent.

Today, the country’s corporate tax rate is below both Italy’s and the average across the EU, making it a favorite haven for European businesses. And it taxes capital gains at a mere five percent, a third of the US rate. In the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” index, San Marino ranks an average 92 among the 190 countries ranked. Its economy is dominated by finance, manufacturing, and tourism. It is a very friendly, welcoming place.

The 2021 Freedom in the World Report from Freedom House praises San Marino for its protection of basic rights—including freedom of worship and assembly, private property, and the press, but suggests a need to work on corruption in its judiciary. Freedom House ranks San Marino the 12th freest country in the world.

Watch this fascinating half-hour video about the place and you’ll not only see some beautiful San Marinese scenery, you’ll also learn about a local bread mafia that used its political connections to rip off taxpayers before it was busted.

‘The Enigma’: Sothebys To Auction Off Massive 555.55-Carat Black Diamond From Space

Sotheby’s Dubai has unveiled a 555.55-carat black diamond that’s believed to have come from outer space.

Dubbed “The Enigma,” the rare gem was shown to journalists during a Monday press conference ahead of its anticipated sale by the auction house in February.

According to NPR, Sothebys expects the diamond to fetch at least 5 million British pounds (US$6.8 million), and may accept cryptocurrency as a method of payment.

Sophie Stevens, a jewelry specialist at Sotheby’s Dubai, told The Associated Press that the number five bears an importance significance to the diamond, which has 55 facets as well. –NPR

“The shape of the diamond is based on the Middle-Eastern palm symbol of the Khamsa, which stands for strength and it stands for protection,” said Stevens. Khamsa means ‘five’ in Arabic.

“So there’s a nice theme of the number five running throughout the diamond,” she added.

From space?

Black diamonds – known as a ‘carbonados’ are extremely rare, and are only found in Brazil and Central Africa. They are believed to have come from space after scientists analyzed their carbon isotopes and high hydrogen content.

According to Stevens, “With the carbonado diamonds, we believe that they were formed through extraterrestrial origins, with meteorites colliding with the Earth and either forming chemical vapor disposition or indeed coming from the meteorites themselves.”

World’s Largest Mammoth Graveyard Found Near Mexico City with Over 200 Skeletons from Ice Age


ELIAS MARAT
SEP 11, 2020

As construction workers race to complete building Mexico City’s new international airport, archaeologists have stumbled on the world’s largest graveyard of mammoths, with officials saying on Thursday that the number has risen to at least 200.

Experts believe that the site, which lies about 30 miles (50 km) north of the capital’s downtown at the Santa Lucía Air Force Base in the state of Mexico, is now the world’s largest concentration of skeletons belonging to the extinct Ice Age mammal – and a large number of them are still yet to be excavated.

The humongous creatures are believed to have died between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago, when the region was the site of a number of ancient lakes that both attracted and trapped the extinct relative of modern elephants.

Other Ice Age mammals have also been found at the nearly 200 excavation sites, including about 200 mammoths, 25 camels, and five horses, archaeologists with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) say.

Around 24,000 years ago, the geography of the region was a lush and vibrant place filled with sprawling grassland and lakes that attracted herds of mammoths.

“This place was like a paradise,” lead INAH archaeologist Ruben Manzanilla Lopez told Reuters, adding that the melting of the last glaciers happened at a time when ancient species of horses, camels, and buffalo thrived in the extremely muddy shorelines of the region.

“Then over many years the same story repeated itself: The animals ventured too far, got trapped and couldn’t get their legs out of the muck,” Manzanilla added.

Wild horses largely died out in North America at the end of the last ice age, and only returned during the Spanish invasion of the Americas, beginning with Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the West Indies in 1493 and continuing with the arrival of Hernan Cortes in Mexico in 1519.

A number of compelling finds are still being made at the site, including evidence that humans constructed tools from the bones of the massive creatures. The site lies roughly 12 miles from artificial pits or shallow mammoth traps dug by early inhabitants to trap and kill the creatures.

The flint arrows, spears, and rudimentary shallow water pits suggest that early humans may have also played a role in wiping out the lumbering beasts.

“What caused these animals’ extinction, everywhere there is a debate, whether it was climate change or the presence of humans. I think in the end the decision will be that there was a synergy effect between climate change and human presence,” paleontologist Joaquin Arroyo Cabrales told Associated Press.

However, the pure volume of mammoth remains unearthed – comprised of extraordinarily well-preserved skeletons including their long and curling tusks – is what has come as a shock.

“We had the idea that we’d find mammoth remains, but not this many,” Manzanilla said.

The sheer glut of mammoth remains at the Santa Lucía site is such that INAH observers are now accompanying construction workers using bulldozers to make sure that work halts when bones are found.

Manzanilla is confident that when the excavations are complete, the site will likely rank higher than similar sites in the United States and Siberia as the largest deposit of mammoth skeletons.

A museum-style mammoth exhibit is also being planned for the main terminal of the new commercial airport.

The Valley of Mexico was once a verdant and lush region rich in biodiversity that teemed with interconnected lakes and countless rivers. In 1325, the Aztecs or Tenochcas began building what would later become the major metropolis of Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City, on a rock in Lake Texcoco.

However, in the 1600s the Spanish colonizers began draining the lakes in a bid to rein in annual floods and accompanying disease resulting from the region’s torrential rain seasons.

In the 20th century, local authorities continued to pave over the 45 rivers that still cut through the growing city. The process of urbanization transformed Mexico City into a dry, dusty, and smoggy region teeming with busy roads and working-class neighborhoods.

Hydropanels At Navajo Homes Take Much Needed Water Out Of Thin Air

Good News Network 
Sep 10, 2020

What if there was a way of pulling vapor from the atmosphere and bringing it through faucets as clean, drinkable water?

Harnessing the power of the sun, Zero Mass Water’s Source hydropanels do just that.

Navajo Power

Through a grant provided by the Unreasonable Group and Barclays Bank, an initial demonstration project is bringing this pioneering air-to-water technology to 15 Navajo households.

This project is being managed by Navajo Power, Public Benefit Corporation, and Arizona-based Zero Mass Water.

Already, the demonstration project is proving to be a hit. “We are so happy to see these systems come to our communities who have not had basic access to water for all of these years,” said Mae Franklin of the Cameron and Coalmine communities.

RELATED: First Hybrid Floating Ocean Platform Can Generate Power From Waves, Wind, And Solar

But how exactly does this unique technology work?

While some of that answer is shrouded by proprietary trade secrecy and multiple patented inventions, we do know the hydropanels—powered by off-grid solar energy—have fans that draw air in the atmosphere and push it through what’s called a hygroscopic. From there, the trapped water vapor is extracted and gets condensed into liquid that’s collected in the reservoir of the hydropanel.

So that it has the ideal taste and composition, that collected water is then mineralized. Now it can be run through the faucet and is ready to drink.

The state-of-the-art technology doesn’t end there. Each Hydropanel connects to a cloud-based network and is monitored for performance and quality that way.

Source hydropanels are already well-established globally, with the technology currently supplying clean drinking water to tens of thousands of people in 45 countries through partnerships with governments, corporations, and development organizations.

MORE: This New German Car is Covered With Solar Panels and Charges As It Drives

There’s potential for this technology to go bigger still: Similar to cellular telephones and renewable energy technologies, the scalability of Source enables hydropanels to be deployed at small residential homes, roof-mounted on schools or community halls, and even in “water farms” adjacent to entire communities.

“A standard, two-panel array, produces 4-10 liters of water each day, and has 60 liters of storage capacity,” said Cody Frisen, CEO of Zero Mass Water. In addition, each panel ”lasts for 15 years and utilizes solar power and a small battery to enable water production.”

As for the quality of the water? It ”exceeds the standards of every country where the systems have been deployed.”

“We are excited to help shine a light on the potential of Hydropanels to help solve the clean water access challenge our communities have been facing for decades,” said Clara Pratte, President of Navajo Power.

CHECK OUT: Used Electric Car Batteries Could Be Recycled into New Life as Energy Storage for Solar Farms, Says New Study

“There are thousands of homes without water and this is a more cost-effective approach to getting clean water to these families. While our focus as a company is the development of large clean energy projects, our commitment to the well-being of Navajo communities is our north star, and we want to do everything we can to help the Nation mitigate the threats brought by the pandemic.”

Americans Are Dropping LSD at an Increasing Rate – And Acid Use “Probably Tripled” in 2020 Alone

ELIAS MARAT
 JUL 22, 2020

As 2020 has clearly shown, life is fraught with existential dread and can often resemble a nightmare for many of us.

If it were just a matter of cabin fever resulting from the coronavirus health crisis, that would be one thing. But this year has also entailed chaos in the streets, economic instability sweeping through our families and communities, not to mention the usual madness that has been raging across the world in recent years.

And if you’ve thought of reaching for some chemicals to escape the madness, even momentarily, you’re hardly alone.

As a recent study has shown, a growing number of Americans are using LSD to escape the deep crisis that our society has found itself in. In fact, the hallucinogen’s popularity has grown exponentially in recent years.

The authors of the study have a very simple explanation for why adults – primarily millenials and Gen Xers – are dabbling or diving headlong into using hallucinogens. Simply put, the world is on fire.

“LSD is used primarily to escape. And given that the world’s on fire, people might be using it as a therapeutic mechanism,” University of Cincinnati doctoral candidate Andrew Yockey explained to Scientific American“Now that COVID’s hit, I’d guess that use has probably tripled.”

In undertaking one of the first major studies of acid dropping among adults in the U.S., the researchers examined surveys of 168,000 Americans and found that intake of LSD had risen by a shocking 56.4 percent between 2015 and 2018.

And while one might expect that it would be the youth – in this case Generation Z – that decides what the trendiest drug might be, it turns out that Gen Z isn’t so interested in the drug that helped define the hippie an psychedelic counter-cultures of the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, those aged 18 to 25 saw their LSD use decrease by 24 percent.

By a huge margin, Those who tripped the most on acid were adults with college degrees and people aged 35 to 49, whose interest in LSD skyrocketed by 223 percent in the three-year period. Meanwhile, those over 50 saw 45 percent increase while those age 26 to 34 saw an increase in LSD use by 59 percent. Those with college degrees did 70 percent more LSD.

A number of factors have boosted the popularity of the psychedelic substance, well before the current global crisis made us desperate for some form of escape. Researchers believe that one factor may have been the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, which made certain groups seek out the drug in lieu of, perhaps, escaping to Canada.

The rising popularity of microdosing is also a likely factor in the rise of LSD use. Microdosing typically involves taking one-tenth to half of a typical “trip”-sized dose as a means to reduce depression or anxiety, enhance creativity or simply sharpen the mind.

Acid has been found to have major mood-boosting effects and, like psilocybin or “magic” mushrooms, has been found to be effective in treating anxiety, depression, and certain mental illnesses.

As a psychedelic drug, however, LSD is classified as a schedule 1 substance by the federal government due to the belief that the drug is addictive, dangerous and has no medical value.

While LSD’s popularity is rising over the years it still doesn’t come close to the mid-20th century peak of acid culture, experts say.

This Japanese Buddhist Monk Creates Beatboxing Meditation Chants Using His Own Voice

John Vibes,
August 20th, 2020

A Japanese Zen Buddhist monk named Yogetsu Akasaka has recently gone viral with his beatboxing skills, but it is a skill that he has been developing for a long time. It came as a surprise to many people that a monk would be interested in something like beatboxing, but for the most part, monks are people with interests just like the rest of us.

Akasaka says that he has been beatboxing since long before he became a monk, and that he first became interested in learning how to do it because he was astonished that people could make music with their mouths.

“It’s not that I wanted to gain attention for my ‘uniqueness,’ I just wanted to continue my passion for music. In the same way someone plays the guitar or the drums, I myself am just a normal performer…My friend had given me a CD of a Japanese beatboxer named Afra and said that he was performing using his mouth. I was absolutely shocked that people could do such things, and so I was interested in trying it. And then I realised, I was pretty good at it,” he said in an interview with Vice.

Akasaka began beatboxing about 15 years ago, when he was in his early 20s. He has only been a monk for about 5 years, which was a path that he chose to follow in the footsteps of his father. Before he was a monk, he traveled the world beatboxing on the streets for crowds in Japan, Australia, and the United States

Usually in Japan, people become monks because their family lives in a temple. But for my father, he was just a normal person who decided to become a monk. I was inspired, and decided I wanted to succeed in my father’s current role as an abbot in a temple in the Iwate Prefecture,” he said.

Akasaka said that he wanted to create upbeat and inspiring music, especially because monks are often thought to be solemn.

“I think in Japan, people often associate Buddhism with funerals, and the sutra has a little bit of a negative and sad image,” Akasaka said.

“I have had fans tell me that they were able to sleep well and relax due to my beatboxing videos, which is absolutely amazing. I am honored to be able to combine my passion with my religious beliefs, and that this has impacted people around the world,” he added.

Eco-Friendly Behavior In This Finnish Town Gets You Free Cake

Ailsa Ross 
Aug 31, 2020

One Finnish town is literally helping green-minded citizens eat cake as they reward eco-friendly behavior with various rewards: including free public transport tickets, swims, and yes, cake.

A little north of Helsinki, the city of Lahti has developed an app tracking the carbon emissions of local residents based on whether they get around by car, public transport, bicycle, or on foot.

Residents who volunteer their information in the CitiCAP app get a carbon quota for the week.

If they have some of their allowance leftover, they get ‘virtual euros’ to spend on things like bus tickets, bike lights, access to public pools, or coffee and cake at a local cafe.

In a city of 120,000, so far 2,000 residents have downloaded the app.

The project’s research manager, Ville Uusitalo, told Euronews, “You can earn up to two euros (per week) if your travel emissions are really low, but this autumn, we intend to increase the price tenfold.”

MORE: 2 Million People in India Gather to Plant 20 Million Trees Along the River Ganges—All While Social Distancing

Currently, about 44% of trips in Lahti are considered sustainable. The city, which is the EU’s 2021 Green Capital, plans to lessen its environmental impact even more over the next decade, so that by 2025 the city is carbon neutral. By 2030, the aim is that at least half of the journeys taken are done so by sustainable means rather than by car.

Changing Perspectives

City council worker Mirkka Ruohonen, told AFP that the app has helped changed her perspective in the seven months she’s been using it.

“I went for a hiking weekend and we did 15km of hiking, but I had to travel 100km by car,” she said. “After that I checked the app and I was like, ‘Was that a good thing?’ Maybe for me but not for the environment!”

RELATED: Downtown Sydney is Now Powered By 100% Renewable Energy Thanks to Historic Deal

CitiCAP’s developers are planning to create similar tools in the future that will help people with their consumption-related carbon emissions.

After all, as Uusitalo explained to Euronews, “Mobility is only part of our carbon footprint.”