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This street vendor makes popcorn with an explosive, pressure-cooking, popcorn cannon contraption, a centuries-old method. The video was filmed in Zhengzhou, China, but we’ve watched videos of this in South Korea, too. And of course, Mythbusters has looked into it, video below. Boom!

Related watching: Click to Enlarge: Popcorn, more explosions, and more videos of street vendors, including how this intricately-drawn melted caramel/sugar dragon is made.

via Boing Boing.



Photo by ucumari

The Tiger’s Plight

Wild tiger numbers are at an all-time low. We have lost 97% of wild tigers in just over a century. Tigers may be one of the most revered animals, but they are also vulnerable to extinction. As few as 3,200 exist in the wild today. Across their range, tigers face unrelenting pressure from poaching, retaliatory killings and habitat loss. They are forced to compete for space with dense and often growing human populations. They are hunted out of fear, ignorance, and for use in traditional medicine in indigenous south and southeast Asian cultures (with little scientific evidence to support claims of effectiveness).

What You Can Do

First and foremost, do not be apathetic. Do not sit there and think that if you don’t do something, someone else will come along and make it all work. Every single scheme in this world has been comprised of individuals who create the whole. So before you think “Oh, what could I even do?” consider the fact that your actions do matter. When you sit there and pass responsibility on to the next person, that’s 50 cents in ad revenue that tigers miss out on. That’s a 10 dollar donation that could have saved a tiger’s life. Your contribution means something; it could mean everything to both the tigers you’re saving and myself.

For this month, giraffeinatree has been fundraising in support of the tiger. We have been raising money through ad revenue and donations, and we have had some success. All money is being donated to the Save the Tiger Fund (STF) - Panthera partnership program to aid in their efforts of saving tigers. Read more about how the money will be used, the animal of the month project, and about tigers at

In the meantime, here is what YOU can do:

  • Contribute by clicking the ad here at this site, which will donate about 50 cents to towards tiger conservation (free of charge to you and no risk of viruses or malware)
  • Donate directly, via paypal. You have no idea how far your donations go, and they brighten my day to see them. Please, if you can spare the money, donate. What is 10 dollars even? 2 less Starbucks fraps that month? I understand not everyone is able, but those of you who are, please consider donating.
  • Share this post in any shape, way, or form possible in addition to one of the above. Spreading the word can do so much, you have no idea. You can also like giraffeinatree on Facebook and spread the word there. 

Everyone is capable of doing the 1st and 3rd, the 2nd would just be bonus. So let’s pull together and save some tigers.

whaaat only 8 hours left? Better get clicking. :) message me if you clicked the ad saying what the ad was about to get a blog rate.


Which tire will roll down the ski jump fastest and jump the farthest? A Formula One tire? An enormous bulldozer tire? The smallest tire? This clip from Japanese television has made the rounds in years past, but the video source disappeared. We watched it again when it reappeared on Metafilter. Gotta love the lab coats, white gloves, and the surprising last jump.

So which of these six tires would you guess makes the biggest jump? And why?

In the archives, more physics of falling and jumping: domino chain reaction, 2,000 ping pong balls and 30 teachers in zero-g, a cat landing on its feet, and the jumping sand flea robot.


The Geel question

For centuries, a little town in Belgium has been treating the mentally ill. Why are its medieval methods so successful?

Half an hour on the slow train from Antwerp, surrounded by flat, sparsely populated farmlands, Geel (pronounced, roughly, ‘Hyale’) strikes the visitor as a quiet, tidy but otherwise unremarkable Belgian market town. Yet its story is unique. For more than 700 years its inhabitants have taken the mentally ill and disabled into their homes as guests or ‘boarders’. At times, these guests have numbered in the thousands, and arrived from all over Europe. There are several hundred in residence today, sharing their lives with their host families for years, decades or even a lifetime. One boarder recently celebrated 50 years in the Flemish town, arranging a surprise party at the family home. Friends and neighbours were joined by the mayor and a full brass band.

Among the people of Geel, the term ‘mentally ill’ is never heard: even words such as ‘psychiatric’ and ‘patient’ are carefully hedged with finger-waggling and scare quotes. The family care system, as it’s known, is resolutely non-medical. When boarders meet their new families, they do so, as they always have, without a backstory or clinical diagnosis. If a word is needed to describe them, it’s often a positive one such as ‘special’, or at worst, ‘different’. This might in fact be more accurate than ‘mentally ill’, since the boarders have always included some who would today be diagnosed with learning difficulties or special needs. But the most common collective term is simply ‘boarders’, which defines them at the most pragmatic level by their social, not mental, condition. These are people who, whatever their diagnosis, have come here because they’re unable to cope on their own, and because they have no family or friends who can look after them.

The origins of the Geel story lie in the 13th century, in the martyrdom of Saint Dymphna, a legendary seventh-century Irish princess whose pagan father went mad with grief after the death of his Christian wife and demanded that Dymphna marry him. To escape the king’s incestuous passion, Dymphna fled to Europe and holed up in the marshy flatlands of Flanders. Her father finally tracked her down in Geel, and when she refused him once more, he beheaded her. Over time, she became revered as a saint with powers of intercession for the mentally afflicted, and her shrine attracted pilgrims and tales of miraculous cures.

In 1349, a church was built on the outskirts of the town around Saint Dymphna’s memorial, and in 1480 a dormitory annex was added to accommodate the growing number of pilgrims. When the stream of visitors overflowed the allotted space, townspeople started to house them in their homes, farms and stables. During the Renaissance, Geel became famous as a place of sanctuary for the mad, who arrived and stayed for reasons both spiritual and opportunistic. Some pilgrims came in hope of a cure. In other cases, it seems that families from local villages took the chance to abandon troublesome relatives whom they couldn’t afford to keep. The people of Geel absorbed them all as an act of charity and Christian piety, but also put them to work as free labour on their farms.

Today, the system continues along much the same lines. A boarder is treated as a member of the family: involved in everything, and particularly encouraged to form a strong bond with the children, a relationship that is seen as beneficial to both parties. The boarder’s conduct is expected to meet the same basic standards as everybody else’s, though it’s also understood that he or she might not have the same coping resources as others. Odd behaviour is ignored where possible, and when necessary dealt with discreetly. Those who meet these standards are ‘good’; others can be described as ‘difficult’, but never ‘bad’, ‘dumb’ or ‘crazy’. Boarders who are unable to cope on this basis will be readmitted to the hospital: this is inevitably seen as a punishment, and everyone hopes the stay ‘inside’ will be as brief as possible.

The people of Geel don’t regard any of this as therapy: it’s simply ‘family care’. But throughout the town’s long history, many both inside and outside the psychiatric profession have wondered whether this is not only a form of therapy in itself, but perhaps the best form there is. However we might categorise or diagnose their conditions, and whatever we believe their cause to be — whether genetics or childhood trauma or brain chemistry or modern society — the ‘mentally ill’ are in practice those who have fallen through the net, who have broken the ties that bind the rest of us in our social contract, who are no longer able to connect. If these ties can be remade so that the individual is reintegrated with the collective, doesn’t ‘family care’ amount to therapy? Even, perhaps, the closest we can approach to an actual cure?

More at the link.



Hey guys, Anna here. We are super-duper excited to have a SPECIAL REPORT from an expert in one of my personal favorite things, BEARDS. Art Allen will fill you in on his credentials below. Please enjoy this foray into the follicular landscape of the faces of our favorite crew.

Well now, what’s this bearded man doing writing for a fashion blog? Well, I do a beard contest every year, and I have watched Star Trek: The Next Generation basically all the time since I was six. So excuse me for having opinions, because I do.

Plus, beards are a sort of fashion piece. Beverly even says so in the episode “The Quality of Life” when Geordi grows a badass beard.


The producers knew if they let him keep the beard they’d have to give him top billing and name the show “Geordi Laforge and His Bitchin’ Beard in Star Trek: The Next Generation”

But not all beards on TNG have been badass.

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