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Glass Invented for Drinking Whiskey in Space – Finally!

A Special Whisky Glass for Special Space Whisky

If Galactic’s first commercial flights are any indication, life in space could use a bit more glamour. Astronauts may be fine drinking recycled pee, but celebrities and wealthy space enthusiasts, who have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to get beyond Earth’s atmosphere, may want to sip something a little stronger. Enter Scotch-maker Ballantine’s new space glass, designed for drinking in microgravity.

Without Earth’s gravity, a regular snifter would send droplets of fancy Scotch soaring into the air—and away from mouths. The Ballantine’s glass is designed to keep the whisky where it belongs. A metal plate at the bottom of the glass creates surface tension to keep the Scotch—poured into the bottom of the cupcontained. Rivulets running up the side of the glass channel the liquid directly into the mouth via a gold mouthpiece. (The company details the design process here.)

Scotch whisky companies seem particularly determined to corner the space drinking market. Ardberg whisky, for instance, is already an old pro at intergalactic refreshments, as vials of the Scotch spent several years on the International Space Station before returning last year. (The verdict: space makes smoky Scotch even smokier.) Several breweries also offer beer made from yeast that’s left Earth and returned, in case hard liquor isn’t your cup of astro-tea.

Naturally, those of us who are earthbound can still buy Ballantine’s space glass for an out-of-this-world experience.

[h/t: The New York Times]

All images by Ballantine’s via Medium

September 8, 2015 – 5:00pm

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11 Terrifying Images of Old Soviet Playgrounds

11 Terrifying Images of Old Soviet Playgrounds

 Ransom Riggs

 Actually, they’re playgrounds from the former Soviet Union, where people were good at making a lot of things — tanks, rifles, factories to make tanks and rifles — but cheerful playground statuary clearly wasn’t one of them. The following playgrounds give me nightmares as an adult; I can’t imagine the many ways they might warp the imaginations of children.

Perhaps this play sculpture from Moscow is meant to impart a lesson: never crawl into a hungry dragon’s mouth.

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17 Euphemisms for Sex From the 1800s

17 Euphemisms for Sex From the 1800s

Gail Carriger shared this article with me on Facebook.  She writes awesome Steampunk novels including the Parasol Protectorate series.  I encourage you to read them.  You can also read mine if you wish, set in the late Victorian period as well.

While shoe-horning these into conversation today might prove difficult, these 17 synonyms for sex were used often enough in 19th-century England to earn a place in the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, a book for upper-crust Britons who had no idea what the proles were talking about.

1. AMOROUS CONGRESS

To say two people were engaged in the amorous congress was by far the most polite option on the list, oftentimes serving as the definition for other, less discreet synonyms.

2. BASKET-MAKING

“Those two recently opened a basket-making shop.” From a method of making children’s stockings, in which knitting the heel is called basket-making.

3. BREAD AND BUTTER

One on top of the other. “Rumor has it he found her bread and butter fashion with the neighbor.”

4. BRUSH

“Yeah, we had a brush once.” The emphasis here is on brevity; just a fling, no big deal.

5. CLICKET

“They left together, so they’re probably at clicket.” This was originally used only for foxes, but became less specific as more and more phrases for doing it were needed.

6. FACE-MAKING

Aside from the obvious, this also comes from “making children,” because babies have faces.

7. BLANKET HORNPIPE

There is probably no way to use this in seriousness or discreetly, but there you have it.

8. BLOW THE GROUNSILS

“Grounsils” are foundation timbers, so “on the floor.”

9. CONVIVIAL SOCIETY

Similar to “amorous congress” in that this was a gentler term suitable for even the noble classes to use, even if they only whispered it.

10. TAKE A FLYER

“Flyers” being shoes, this is “dressed, or without going to bed.”

11. GREEN GOWN

Giving a girl a green gown can only happen in the grass.

12. LOBSTER KETTLE

A woman who sleeps with soldiers coming in at port is said to “make a lobster kettle” of herself.

13. MELTING MOMENTS

Those shared by “a fat man and woman in amorous congress.”

14. PULLY HAWLY

A game at pully hawly is a series of affairs.

15. ST. GEORGE

In the story of St. George and the Dragon, the dragon reared up from the lake to tower over the saint. “Playing at St. George” casts a woman as the dragon and puts her on top.

16. A STITCH

Similar to having a brush, “making a stitch” is a casual affair.

17. TIFF

A tiff could be a minor argument or falling-out, as we know it. In the 19th century, it was also a term for eating or drinking between meals, or in this case, a quickie.

Read the full text here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/12399/17-euphemisms-sex-1800s#ixzz2bFhAPP5J
–brought to you by mental_floss!

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Ancient Roman Graffiti

11 Colorful Phrases From Ancient Roman Graffiti

Mark Mancini
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FLICKR USER ROLLER COASTER PHILOSOPHY

When the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were suddenly consumed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 C.E., many of their buildings were so intimately preserved that modern archaeologists can even read the graffiti scribbled onto their ancient walls. See if any of these remind you of a twenty-first century bathroom.

1. “PHILIROS SPADO.”

“Phileros is a eunuch.”

2. “LUCIUS PINXIT.”

“Lucius wrote this.”

3. “APOLLINARIS, MEDICUS TITI IMPERATORIS HIC CACAVIT BENE.”

“Apollinaris, doctor to the emperor Titus, had a good crap here.” In Latin profanity, “cacatne” pertained to defecation.

4. “OPPI, EMBOLIARI, FUR, FURUNCLE.”

“Oppius, you’re a clown, a thief, and a cheap crook.”

5. “MIXIMUS IN LECTO. FAETOR, PECCAVIMUS, HOSPES. SI DICES: QUARE? NULLA MATELLA FUIT.”

“We have wet the bed. I admit, we were wrong, my host. If you ask ‘why?’ There was no chamber pot.” Found inside an inn.

6. “VIRGULA TERTIO SU: INDECENS ES.”

“Virgula to Teritus: You are a nasty boy.”

7. “EPAPHRA, GLABER ES.”

“Epaphra, you are bald.”

8. “TALIA TE FALLANT UTINAM MEDACIA, COPO: TU VEDES ACUAM ET BIBES IPSE MERUM.”

“If only similar swindling would dupe you, innkeeper: you sell water, and drink the undiluted wine yourself.”

9. “VATUAN AEDILES FURUNCULI ROG.”

“The petty thieves request the election of Vatia as adele.” In ancient Pompeii, an “adele” was an elected official who supervised markets and local police, among other things.

10. “SUSPIRIUM PUELLAM CELADUS THRAEX.”

“Celadus makes the girls moan.”

11. “ADMIROR, O PARIES, TE NON CECIDISSE, QUI TOT SCRIPTORIUM TAEDIA SUSTINEAS.”

“I wonder, O wall, that you have not yet collapsed, so many writers’ clichés do you bear.” This phrase seems to have been a popular one, as slightly different versions of it appear in multiple locations throughout Pompeii’s ruins.

In the interest of avoiding hardcore lewdness and profanity, I’ve omitted some of the truly vulgar defacements. For some firmly NSFW examples, do go here.

These quotes were were recorded in a comprehensive, multi-volume collection of Latin inscriptions called Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, which was first published in in 1857. Image credit: Flickr user Roller Coaster Philosophy.

Read the full text here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/32276/11-colorful-phrases-ancient-roman-graffiti#ixzz2JFIcy4q2
–brought to you by mental_floss!

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Why Are Coupons Worth 1/100th of a Cent?

Why Are Coupons Worth 1/100th of a Cent?

Ethan Trex

The next time a coupon shows up in your mail, take a look at the fine print. There’s a pretty good chance it will read something to the effect of “Cash Value 1/100th of a cent.” Why in the world is that writing on there? And are 10,000 copies of this coupon really worth a whole dollar? Let’s take a look at this coupon quirk.

PUTTING A STAMP ON CUSTOMER LOYALTY

Before we can answer the coupon-value question, we need to take a peek into a seemingly unrelated footnote in the history of commerce. Let’s talk about the mostly forgotten practice of businesses handing out trading stamps with purchases.

Trading stamps first found their way into merchants’ registers in the 1890s. When customers made a purchase, stores would given them stamps that reflected how much they had spent; a common exchange rate was one stamp for every dime spent on merchandise. Once a customer had saved up enough stamps – often over a thousand – they could swap them for something from the stamp company’s catalog, like a toaster or a clock.

The trading stamps were a runaway success. Supermarkets, gas stations, and department stores would advertise that they gave away a certain brand of stamps to help lure customers in, and the customers could then lick and paste their saved stamps to get “free” merchandise. Everyone was happy, and the system flourished. At one point in the 1960s, S&H Green Stamps printed more stamps each year than the Postal Service did. The circulation of the company’s catalog topped 30 million. The big stamp makers like S&H even built brick-and-mortar “redemption center” stores around the country.

As any economist worth his cost function can tell you, though, the toasters and vacuum cleaners that customers got weren’t free at all. Merchants had to pay for the stamps they gave away, and the cost of the stamp obviously got passed along to the customer in the form of higher prices.

Even in the early days, it didn’t take long for customers to figure out that the system wasn’t quite as rosy as merchants made it out to be. By 1904 New York had enacted laws that forced stamp makers to put a cash face value on each stamp that would enable consumers to bypass catalog redemptions and get money back for their stamps. Other states followed suit.

As one might guess, the individual stamps didn’t get princely face values. A 1904 New York Times piece noted that most stamp makers were given the value of “one mill,” or 1/10th of a cent. That valuation meant that a customer with a full book of 1,000 stamps could redeem it for a dollar. The same piece noted, though, that a customer who used the stamp makers’ catalogs could probably get an item worth three or four dollars for the same number of stamps, so the cash-redemption idea never really took off with most shoppers.

What happened to trading stamps? Their popularity peaked in the 1960s when nearly 80 percent of American households saved stamps, but within a decade the craze had died. Manufacturer coupons that shaved money off of items’ prices became more popular as inducements to get shoppers into stores, and the fuel crisis of the early 1970s sapped away the stamps’ large market at gas stations.

SO WHAT DOES ALL THIS HAVE TO DO WITH COUPONS?

At first glance, coupons and trade stamps wouldn’t seem to have all that much in common. After all, coupons lower the price of an item, while the beef with trade stamps was that they passed a hidden (and often unwanted) cost along to consumers. But some states legally lump trade stamps and coupons in together, so coupons distributed in these states have to bear some printed cash redemption value.

According to the Association of Coupon Professions, only three states require this declaration of redemption value: Indiana, Utah, and Washington. Since many coupons are designed for national distribution, though, the redemption value ends up printed on all of them. As with the old trade stamps, it doesn’t really matter how infinitesimal the stated value is as long as it’s not zero. Thus, you see coupons that are worth 1/10th, 1/20th, or 1/100th of a cent.

SO CAN I ROUND UP 20 COUPONS AND GET A PENNY?

In theory, yes. It’s hard to find reliable, concrete examples of someone schlepping in a hundred coupons to swap them out for a penny, but the web is full of anecdotes in which people “test the fine print” by trading in a giant stack of coupons for their face value at the supermarket. In all likelihood, though, you’d need to mail the coupons to the issuing company, which is a pretty lousy financial proposition given the price of stamps.

If you’re sitting on a big pile of Shake N Bake coupons, you might as well give it a try; your supermarket will probably gladly surrender a penny to ensure you don’t make a scene.

Read the full text here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/26838/why-are-coupons-worth-1100th-cent#ixzz2JFFRO2HT
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Rejection Letters to Famous Authors

Try, Try Again: Rejection Letters Received by Bestselling Authors

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For writers, getting rejected can seem like a pastime. But don’t take my word for it, even though I’ve gotten my share of no-thank-yous. These best-selling authors were rejected, too, and some not very kindly. Editors, publishers and agents have made big errors in judgment, as evidenced by the list of unkind (and sometimes needlessly rude) rejections received by these famous writers.

1. GEORGE ORWELL

It seems Alfred Knopf didn’t always understand satire. Animal Farm, the famed dystopian allegory that later became an AP Reader standard and Retrospective Hugo Award winner, was turned down because it was “impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.A.” A British publishing firm initially accepted and later rejected the work as well, arguing that “…the choice of pigs as the ruling caste will no doubt give offense to many people, and particularly to anyone who is a bit touchy, as undoubtedly the Russians are.”

2. GERTRUDE STEIN

Not much burns worse than mockery, and I would imagine Gertrude Stein was probably fuming when she received this letter from Arthur C. Fifield with her manuscript for Three Lives: “Being only one, having only one pair of eyes, having only one time, having only one life, I cannot read your MS three or four times. Not even one time. Only one look, only one look is enough. Hardly one copy would sell here. Hardly one. Hardly one.” Twenty years later, Stein’sThe Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas became her one and only best-seller.

3. STEPHEN KING

Most fans know that King’s big break came with Carrie, the story of a friendless, abused girl with secret telekinetic powers. Though one publishing house told him they were “not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias.  They do not sell,” Doubleday picked up the paperback rights to the novel and sold more than a million copies in its first year.

4. WILLIAM GOLDING

Though Lord of the Flies was one of my favorite books from high school, it seems some publishers disagreed. One unimpressed agent called the classic “an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.” To date, the book has been required reading in high schools for nearly fifty years, 14.5 million copies have been sold, and Golding’s work has been adapted for film twice.

5. JACK KEROUAC


It’s not incredibly surprising that Kerouac’s work was considered unpublishable in his time. After all, the guy wrote about drugs, sex, and the kind of general lawlessness that many people in the 1950s considered obscene. When shopping out his ubiquitous On the Road, Kerouac’s agent’s mail contained gems like, “His frenetic and scrambling prose perfectly express the feverish travels of the Beat Generation. But is that enough? I don’t think so” and even worse, “I don’t dig this one at all.”

6. MARY HIGGINS CLARK

Back in 1966, the young romance author was trying to sell a story she called “Journey Back to Love.” It didn’t go well, however; her submission to Redbook came back with a rejection from the editors, stating “We found the heroine as boring as her husband had.” Ouch! The piece was eventually run as a two-part serial in an English magazine, and Mary Higgins Clark currently boasts forty-two bestselling novels.

7. AYN RAND

When Rand sent her manuscript out for The Fountainhead, a request from Bobbs-Merrill for her next work-in-progress came back with a curt “Unsaleable and unpublishable.” Not to be deterred, the author called upon Hiram Haydn, newly appointed editor-in-chief of Random House. After an “infinite number” of questions and an assurance that Ms. Rand would not be censored, she signed on with Random House and, to date, has sold over 7 million copies in the U.S.

8. ERNEST HEMINGWAY

In a bid to remove himself from a contract with publishers Boni & Liveright, Hemingway penned The Torrents of Spring with the sole intention of being rejected. Horace Liveright turned it down, Hemingway’s contract was broken, and he moved on to find a new publisher. Of course, it didn’t go smoothly; one queried editor told the author that “It would be extremely rotten taste, to say nothing of being horribly cruel, should we want to publish this.” It all ended well, however. Papa Hemingway moved on to Scribner, who published all of his books from then on—each of which became a bestseller.

Read the full text here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/26662/try-try-again-rejection-letters-received-bestselling-authors#ixzz2IsCcnvOj
–brought to you by mental_floss!

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