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Weary moms and dads, ever wish you could do more parenting while lying down? Behold, this T-shirt designed by Japanese software engineer Ken Kawamoto.
Hagfish are an eel-like sea creatures with the ability to excrete a teaspoon of slime that almost instantly expands to 10,000 times the volume. The slime, a combination of mucous and protein threads, is magical, too! Surprise, it’s not sticky, and it’s actually incredibly soft. Think about the softest thing you can think of. WRONG, this is softer. Hagfish slime is so soft, scientists had to create new ways to measure it when traditional instruments couldn’t hack it.
The proteins threads that give the slime cohesion are incredible in their own right. Each is one-100th the width of a human hair, but can stretch for four to six inches. And within the slime glands, each thread is coiled like a ball of yarn within its own tiny cell — a feat akin to stuffing a kilometer of Christmas lights into a shoebox without a single knot or tangle. No one knows how the hagfish achieves this miracle of packaging, but Fudge just got a grant to test one idea. He thinks that the thread cells use their nuclei — the DNA-containing structures at their core — like a spindle, turning them to wind the growing protein threads into a single continuous loop.
But that’s not all! Hagfish don’t have a jawbone, they’ve got kind of a sandpaper on their face, which is not the scientific way to describe it at all. They eat by burrowing into carcasses and rub their face around to get their fill. The skin of a hagfish is more efficient at processing nutrients than their intestines, so needless to say the burrowing really works for them. While hagfish use their slime to defend against attacks — the excreted slime clogs the gills of attackers — they also use their ridiculously squishy bodies as a defense. If a shark bites them, the important bits squish out of the way like one of those water wiggly toys. (Do you know how hard it is is to google the name of a toy you’ve played with your entire life without ever having known the name of? “Squishy squiggly water snake” is what worked for me.) Lastly, hagfish tie themselves in knots to rid themselves of slime AND to help them eat when they’re inside the dead bodies of recently passed sea friends. Now you know.
As a hagfish cleanser, sea otters hold hands while they’re sleeping so they don’t drift apart.
(Allow me an aside. The last time I wrote about the wacky world of sea creatures on Kottke.org, it was a post about the first known case of the sperm of cooked squid implanting in someone’s mouth. (At the time, of course, everyone knew the sperm of raw squid could implant, but this first case of cooked squid doing the same was big news).)
H&M makes a T-shirt with a sequinned message that changes depending on the nap. It says “Skate”, and with a swipe of one’s hand, it says “Chill”. Catriona Black, however, noticed that you can, of course, choose to swipe only some of the sequins, thereby creating the ultimate Scottish t-shirt.
Don’t think H&M thought this through. My children did. You can take the child out of Scotland… pic.twitter.com/3uYw3Tlq6z
— Catriona Black (@CatrionaBlack) March 3, 2019
According to reports from gullible parents’ organizations, police departments, and media outlets, Kids on the Internet are spreading memes featuring an image of “Momo” (actually a sculpture called “Mother Bird” created by Keisuke Aisawa for the Japanese SFX studio Link Factory) that includes explicit self-harm and suicide instructions (the “challenge” in “Momo challenge” is allegedly to get kids to hurt or kill themselves).
It’s a hoax, though. There are no verified sightings of Momo Challenge memes in the wild, and this isn’t even the first time this hoax has gone around; it circulated in September 2018 as well.
As Taylor Lorenz writes in The Atlantic, this is part of a genre of hoaxes that rely on parental anxiety about kids’ use of technology to spread incomprehensible cultural ideas, from the Satanic Panic over backmasked secret messages in heavy metal lyrics to the “eating Tide Pods” hoax to the fictional deaths linked to the “cinnamon challenge.”
As it happens, there is someone who — unrelated to the Momo hoax — appears to have inserted at least two self-harm messages in kids’ videos.
These trends are “part of a moral panic, fueled by parents’ fears in wanting to know what their kids are up to,” Benjamin Radford, a folklorist and research fellow at the Committee for Skeptic Inquiry, told Rolling Stone. And spreading them can actually end up causing harm. “These stories being highly publicized, and starting a panic means vulnerable people get to know about it and that creates a risk,” the U.K.-based suicide-awareness charity Samaritans told The Guardian. Some kids can also end up hurting themselves by participating in the trend ironically.
Momo Is Not Trying to Kill Children [Taylor Lorenz/The Atlantic]
Welcome to the town with the longest name in Europe: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch in Wales. It was, originally, a name contrived to draw tourists. But that was 150 years ago, it’s legit, and it’s long been enjoying the consequences.
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch recently achieved viral fame after Channel 4 producers decided to drop it on meteorologist Liam Dutton, who nailed it effortlessly. Which stands to reason, him being Welsh? Anyway, it’s a joy to watch and hear:
His flawless pronunciation of the 58-letter place name – the longest in Europe – garnered a total of more than 20 million views on YouTube and Facebook within a week and dominated the media around the world.
Liam was interviewed by Wales Online, BBC Radio 5 Live, Canadian breakfast television and beyond, as well as featuring in Time magazine, the New York Times, MTV and Perez Hilton.
He was praised by Catherine Zeta Jones, and TV anchors around the world were so impressed by his mind-blowing effort that they tried to outdo him, but with little success.
When a teenage girl in China was traveling over her Lunar New Year break, she shocked her mother. The resourceful student somehow managed to squeeze in a ton of homework, including the grueling work of essays and copying passages from textbooks, all while packing her days with holiday festivities. And the work was amazingly accurate and neat, with perfect handwriting.
Her suspicious mom, Zhang, went through the girl’s belongings and found an explanation: a strange device with a “metal frame and pen,” that turned out to be a “copying robot,” according to South China Morning Post. The teen had bought it online for approximately $120. Furious, the mother destroyed the robot and went straight to social media to complain.
Via Oddity Central:
After her daughter admitted to using the device to complete her holiday homework a lot faster, the woman reportedly broke it and took to social media to complain about the girl’s deceitful tactic. “It can help you with homework, but can it help you on tests?” Zhang was quoted as saying.
Perhaps surprising to her mother, a rush of commenters came to the girl’s defense. From South China Morning Post:
Most of the comments on the newspaper report’s social media posts enthused about the robot. Some said they wished they had owned such an item when they were younger, while others compared the girl’s short cut to their own, including tieing three or four pens in a row so they could write multiple words at once.
Some argued that the girl should no longer be made to copy texts at her age, while one called for education reform allowing teachers to set challenging and creative homework rather than boring the pupils and adding to their burdens.
Another asked: “Sometimes educators need to reflect on this issue, why is it we still need to do a task that can be completed by a robot?”
Good question. When my daughters get robotic work to do at home, I’m all for giving it to a robot so that they can do what humans do best: think.