Cool Stuff

I have a big list today, so let’s just get right to it:

– So I’ve fallen in love with the Greek synthpop duo Marsheaux. Their Twitter feed is run by member Sophie Marianthi, who posts a lot of links to cool history and science items. She recently posted a link to this 2006 article, about a song discovered in the “ancient Syrian city of Ugarit” in the 1950s. Originally written in “cuneiform signs”, it was converted to modern music notation in 1972 by Professor Anne Draffkorn Kilmer. Dating to 3400 BC, it’s the oldest song in the world, and you can hear a MIDI version of the tune at the link.

– I always joke that the meals Lisa makes taste better because “they’re made with lovin'”. Well guess what? Psychologists from the University of Maryland found that food made by loved ones really does taste better!

– You’ve probably heard that school cafeterias across the US are ditching “junk food” (which kids like) for “healthier options” (which kids do not like). Schools in freedom-loving Los Angeles [ha ha!] have even banned chocolate milk because it’s not “healthy” for their precious lil’ snowflakes. But guess what? Researchers at Penn State found that the “junk food” served in school cafeterias does not lead to childhood obesity. In fact, schools that served “traditional” favorites like pizza and tater tots had lower obesity rates than schools that serve healthier options like salads. Researchers aren’t entirely sure why this is, but the obvious reason would be that kids forced to eat “healthy” foods at school simply go home and gorge themselves on junk food, while kids eating “traditional” foods are less likely to do so.

– Speaking of food, check out these amazing cakes! I’m especially taken with the bucket of beer and seafood boil cakes!

– Quick: Name the largest American-owned brewery. It’s not Anheuser-Busch (which is owned by a Belgian company) or SABMiller (which is owned by a South African\British company). It’s not even Boston Beer, which makes Sam Adams. It’s D.G. Yuengling & Son, which recently passed Boston Beer to take the title.

– For decades, a mysterious man wearing all black (and a white scarf) visited the grave of Edgar Allen Poe on the author’s birthday and left three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac. Known as the “Poe Toaster”, the man first appeared sometime in the 1940s and perhaps even as early as the 1930s. Some suspect that the original Toaster died in 1998, as a note left in 1999 said that the “torch had been passed to a son”. But now it appears to be all over: for the third year in a row, no one showed up. Perhaps this might be related to the Toaster’s 2006 visit, in which onlookers tried (unsuccessfully) to detain him… or her.

– You know the Airbus A380? The giant new plane that was supposed to replace the 747? Yeah, well, inspectors are already finding cracks in the wings, despite the planes barely being four years old. Awesome!

– Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute has written this interesting piece about the Internet, SOPA, piracy, and how the whole thing is an awful idea. It’s not a long piece, and it starts off kind of dry, but it really picks up and is worth a read.

– And lastly… speaking of piracy… Grantland is a sports blog. Grantland is owned by ESPN. ESPN is owned by Disney. Disney supports SOPA and similar laws that protect their moneyed interests. However, according to Deadspin, Bill Simmons, one of Grantland’s biggest contributors, has posted at least 98 possible SOPA violations in his articles on the site (hit the link for a complete list). Oh, the irony is delicious!

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