Mittwoch, 31. Dezember 2014
If Times Square is too gaudy, crowded, and frankly insane for you, then there is another New York tradition worth your New Year's Eve—one that is, in fact, ending tonight. For the past fifty years, the Pratt Institute has set out its amazing collection of big old steam whistles out on the lawn of its Brooklyn campus. Tonight's your last chance to steam blast your way into the new year.
With the school closed for the holidays, Pratt's steam whistle New Year's Eve celebration is all-volunteer effort lead by the school's chief engineer, Conrad Milster. Milster been in charge of Pratt's collection for decades, salvaging steam whistles from trains, factories, ships (including the Normandie). He's even made a few of his own, including a calliope, an instrument akin to an organ but powered by steam (see video above.).
Merrymakers are free to go up to the whistles, pull on a rope, and let loose a blast that can be heard far and wide. In the 19th century, New Yorkers would have heard such a blast every time a ships and trains left or arrived.
Chief engineer Conrad Milster blows a steam whistle.
We're generally pretty anti-steampunk here at Gizmodo, but Pratt's steam whistle New Year's Eve celebration is the real deal historically. The Pratt Institute, now a design school, was originally founded to train engineers in 1887. It closed its engineering school in 1993.
Now, it's the end of an another era. Last year, the New York Times reported that Pratt was discontinuing the New Year's Eve tradition out of safety concerns. The school was allowing one last celebration in 2015. Milster considered making last year's celebration the last, but he seems to have been convinced to make one last hurrah.
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New Year's Eve countdown balls tend to be large, sparkly. What they tend not to be are arboreal marsupials. Not so for Brasstown, North Carolina. In the "possum capital of the south," possums are the traditional marker lowered into a cheering crowd to symbolize the end of the year.
For the past 20 years, Clay Logan, a former tree specialist for the U.S. Forest Service, current owner of store called Clay's Corner, and eternal enthusiast of lowering possums from heights, has held a "Possum Drop" on the last night of the year. Logan suspends a box containing a possum five meters from a rope thrown over a light pole. The custom-made box he uses has air holes and images of the American flag. Prior to the lowering, there are bluegrass performances and an annual reading of a poem about possums.
The unconventional mountain town event draws thousands of people. It has also drawn the fury of PETA, provoking three lawsuits from the animal rights group.
Logan has been able to orchestrate his event in recent years thanks to a statute that suspends county wildlife laws from December 26 to January 2. PETA has sued the state for creating a "zone of lawlessness" by passing this law. This year, a judge issued an injunction against the law, and Logan has to get a wildlife license to drop the possum.
He hasn't applied for one, but Logan is adamant that the possum drop will go down even without a live animal. A few years ago, Logan held the drop with a dead possum instead of the traditional live creature after legal threats from PETA, so there may be another corpse lowered this year.
"We may have possum stew or something if we find one dead," Logan told the Charlotte Observer. "No live possums, let's put it like that."
The Los Angeles Times covered Logan's troubles carrying on his annual event, interviewing people from both sides of the possum war:
Jeff Kerr, PETA's general counsel in Washington, said: "We're amazed that something as ill-conceived and cruel as dropping an opossum in a box is still taking place in the 21st century. This is pure terror for a small wild animal that's shy and avoids humans at all cost."
The opossums are subjected to "capture myopathy," Kerr said, a condition he said can kill the animals. Logan's opossums probably die shortly after being released, according to Kerr.
Informed of Kerr's comments, Logan shrugged. "That's his opinion."
Logan names each possum "O.P." It stands for "Old Possum." On his website, he emphasizes his insistence that the animals are not harmed:
Another message follows, below links to commemorative Possum Drop t-shirts: "Note: The opossum is not actually "dropped", it is lowered with great care. We treat our little friend with respect, hold him in awe, and do not inflict any injury or traumatize God's creature of the night.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
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China's CCTV America reports that the event, held in Chen Yi Square, near a waterfront area called the Bund, devolved into a stampede.
The sudden crowd movement happened around 11:35pm local time, according to the BBC. No official explanation of the tragic event has yet been offered
A number of Twitter users have photos of the stampede's aftermath:
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The first time you see someone sabre a bottle of Champagne a series of thoughts run through your mind:
- Why is that person waving a knife… or perhaps a sword?
- What's that in their other hand? A bottle of Champagne! Where is this going…
- Oh god. I'm about to get sprayed by Champagne at best, glass at worst?
- That was cool.
- What 'genius' decided that hacking the neck off a glass bottle of expensive highly pressurized liquid was a good idea?
So who was the 'genius' to first sabre a bottle of Champagne? You may have heard it was Napoléon Bonaparte who first put sword to bottle, back in the days following the French Revolution. Or perhaps it was the officers in his cavalry – celebrating some great victory by bashing open a bottle of bubbly atop a horse. Maybe you heard the alternate version of that story, that following a defeat in battle, a bitter solider cleaved the head off a Champagne bottle to drink away his misery. After all, it was Napoléon who (supposedly) said:
Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it.
A more romantic twist involves those same officers and Madame Clicquot, the young widow who had inherited her husband's Champagne house when she was twenty-seven.
Napoléon visiting the cellars Moët & Chandon in 1807 via Chateau Loisel
When a new ship is launched, we christen it by smashing a bottle of Champagne on its hull. We do this for good luck. Why? Because there's something in the bubbles that is truly magical, something does inspire us to celebrate. On that note let's explore the wonderful legends of Champagne Sabering.
The Hussars of The Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars followed the French Revolution of 1789. Napoléon Bonaparte took power in France, a decade later. Within a few years he was fighting all across the European continent. The Hussars, light cavalry mounted on fast horses, were a symbol of the early, seeming invincibility of Napoléon's armies. These lavishly dressed young soldiers slung Pelisses – short fur-trimmed jackets – over their shoulders. They armed themselves with carbines, and more famously, brass hilted sabers.
As these young soldiers rode home after a string of early victories, the legend goes that the townspeople would toss them bottles of Champagne. Still atop their horses, the hussars would have had difficulty opening the foil-wrapped cages and pulling out the corks. The solution? A swift stroke of the sabre blade to the neck of the bottle. Combine the mass conscription of the French populace (particularly young men) with the feverish dreams of empire that Napoléon's early victories inspired and the image of the dashing young Hussar slicing open a Champagne bottle astride his horse comes into focus.
The Widow Clicquot
François Clicquot's family was involved in a number of businesses, including the production of Champagne. When he died six years later, Madame Clicquot, now Veuve or 'widow' Clicquot took control of the company. After some wrangling with her father-in-law, she secured a fresh investment that allowed her to focus solely on Champagne production. This decision proved to be an excellent one, as she turned out to be a skilled winemaker, though it took a number of years before she achieved true success. Under her guidance, the company developed the process of riddling, which is why the Champagne you drink today is crystal clear.
Her husband died in 1805, in the early years of the Napoleonic Wars. When Napoléon's soldiers came through Reims, in Champagne, they found a wealthy young widow who was running her own Champagne business. The story goes that she would entertain Napoléon's officers in her vineyard, handing out bottles of Champagne to the men as they mounted their horses and left for battle. The officers, hoping to catch the eye of the wealthy young widow, unsheathed their sabres, and still astride their horses, lopped the tops off the bottles.
Want to see how it's done? Just click play…
To read about champagne sabering, including its more romantic origins, continue reading over at VinePair.
- The Quick And Dirty Guide To Sparkling Wine
- How To Saber A Bottle Of Wine
- Research Says A Cocktail Could Be Better For You Than A Flu Shot
- The Best Cheap Wine Glasses For Entertaining
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In 2012, dash cams introduced themselves to the world. In 2013, dash cams started breaking worldwide news. In 2014? Things got weird.
Physics Is A Lie
How this guy perfectly somersaulted onto the roof of the car he just crashed into, I do not know.
Physics Is Not A Lie
Try lanesplitting at high speed and there's really only one thing that can happen.
It's Only Real If It Happens On A Dash Cam
For a few innocent weeks, people doubted that Russia was actually brazenly invading Ukraine. Then we saw a guy in a Lada nearly get incinerated by a missile launched into his country.
Everyone Started Hanging Onto Windshields
There were a lot of these videos this year. They were all equally terrifying.
Speaking Of Crazed Drug Binges...
This dude leapt off a bridge, then dusted himself off like it was nothing. Nobody would believe you if you told them the story, but there it is on your dash cam.
Getting Driving Lessons The Hard Way
Here's why you never, ever pass a semi truck before you pass your exit. Amazingly, everyone in this highway pinball game survived.
Staring Death In The Face
Dr. Guan Zhu in Texas got to stare down death itself in the form of a wayward concrete truck. This may be the most harrowing video we saw this year.
Staring Death In The Face, Part 2
Perhaps the most heartening video we saw all year, though, was this American truck driver rescue a family from their flaming wreck just before it exploded.
Honorary Mention: Most Fake Dash Cam Of 2014
If anything, 2014 is the year that people figured out they can make money off of dash cams and they started spawning fakes. I have a particularly soft spot for this one where a dog steals a Subaru.
But I think the most incredible is this one of Spongebob and friends beating the crap out of some dude.
How do I know it's fake?
The Russian driver acts surprised. Watch enough dash cam videos and you'll know that nothing, absolutely nothing. Not tanks, not meteors, not rocket explosions fazes them.
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Sony Pictures is offering more ways for viewers to stream the The Interview, following its lucrative online rollout of the embattled film.
The studio announced on Wednesday that it has reached deals with companies, including Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T and Verizon, to make The Interview available to rent through various video-on-demand services starting Wednesday.
The comedy was first released in a limited theatrical run on Christmas Day, as well as online on Christmas Eve via digital platforms such as YouTube, Google Play, Xbox Video and Sony-launched SeeTheInterview.com. Apple also agreed to add the film on iTunes earlier this week. Read more...
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DENVER — Marijuana may be legal in Colorado, but extracting the drug's high-potency oil at home is not, the state's attorney general said Tuesday, fueling a debate about how to punish hash-oil producers who have caused a rise in fiery explosions this year.
John Suthers said the dangerous process of creating marijuana's intoxicating oil in crude, home-based laboratories is not covered under the measure known as Amendment 64, which was approved by voters in 2012 and allows recreational marijuana for adults over 21.
"Colorado is experiencing a real public safety issue as a result of unsafe and unlicensed manufacturing and production," Suthers said in a statement. Hash oil is typically made by packing the castoff leaves and stems of pot plants into a pipe and pouring highly flammable butane through it. The concoction is heated to make the potent oil for far cheaper than it can be bought in stores. Read more...
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In 2014, advertising was in the eye of the beholder
For instance, some thought that with 400 million-plus views, Shakira's "La La La" was the biggest viral ad of the year. Yet YouTube didn't list it among the year's most-viewed ads, even though the Activia brand name was well displayed
Then there was Ellen DeGeneres' selfie during the Oscars, a moment that was viewed by a billion or so people and engineered by Samsung. Was that an ad? Real-time marketing? Or just a goofy, impromptu throwaway moment?
As advertising sought to redefine itself, legacy media like TV and print made a convincing argument for their continued existence. Looking back, 2014 will probably be viewed as a transitional year, as broadcast TV remained the largest advertising vehicle and advertisers struggled to adapt to an always-on environment in which consumers were more attuned to your failures than your successes. Amid this shifting landscape, here were the seven biggest trends: Read more...
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Adrien Servadio made this beautiful video showing Fanny Sage dancing around while surrounded by fire. The special effects flames that encompass her makes it look like she's regenerating like a burning phoenix. The video is NSFW but it's absolutely mesmerizing.
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Three more bodies were pulled from the Java Sea on Wednesday, including one wearing a flight attendant uniform. The discovery followed the retrieval Tuesday of three bodies from the debris site of AirAsia Flight 8501.
After a three day search in the aqua waters off Indonesia for the 162 victims, debris was first spotted Tuesday by a search team not far from where the plane dropped off the radar screen. Searchers found bodies, a life jacket, an emergency exit door, a suitcase and other small items about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the plane's last known coordinates.
The bodies pulled from the site so far include three males and three females, one of which is the flight attendant, the chief of Indonesia's Search and Rescue Agency Henry Bambang Soelistyo told local media. Read more...
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What do cops and robbers, food porn, high-flying granddaughters, 1970s American TV actors and Motown classics have in common?
Not much, except that they're all featured in the best global advertising you didn’t see this past year.
Mashable compiled a top-seven list of catchy, witty, beautiful, memorable international ads here. The list could go on and on, especially if Japan keeps churning out catvertising fever dreams like the one below. But we’ve skimmed the cream here — go ahead and lap it up.
1. Catvertising (for Fit’s LINK gum)
This chewing gum commercial is called “Gokiken Shukkin,” which translated, means something like “Cheery Going to Work.” And who wouldn’t be, because giant cat!
In just 15 seconds, Japanese/Korean candy maker Lotte manages to convey that Fit’s Link gum lasts for 50 minutes (hence the timer in the corner of the screen) and that if you chew it, a furry friend will tightrope-walk to speed your journey to the office.
Lucky Japanese salary man.
It’s inspired lunacy from the country that practically invented catvertising. Read more...
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Activists are trying to smuggle bootleg copies of The Interview into North Korea by land and by balloon — but the penalty for watching it could could be time in a detention camp
Smugglers likely have copies of the movie on USB sticks, Scott Snyder, a Korea expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, told Mashable; he believes that there's probably at least a small contingent of North Koreans who want to watch the movie
“There’s going to be a group that wants it there precisely because they’ve heard about it," Snyder said Read more...
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Shake Shack, very probably the world's best burger chain, is introducing a new burger to their vaunted lineup: the ShackMeister Burger. It's a 100% all-natural Angus beef cheeseburger that is topped with crispy marinated shallots and their famous ShackSauce. It's like a cheeseburger with fancy onion rings in it. I'm in.
The burger—which I'm going to assume is crunchy and juicy at the same time—originated at the 2014 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Burger Bash and will be available at all Shake Shack US locations starting January 1st for a limited time. It's the first new burger to hit Shake Shack's official menu since the Smoke Shack (the one with bacon) in 2012.
From left to right: the Shackburger, ShackMeister Burger and Smoke Shack
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The University of Michigan formally announced Tuesday that former 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh will take over its football team, capping off weeks of media speculation.
Students welcomed the new coach to Michigan by suiting up in Harbaugh's favorite pants for Tuesday evening's U-M basketball game in an event called a "Khaki Out." The gesture was organized by the school's student fan group, the Maize Rage, who also handed out prizes for the best Harbaugh attire.
In honor of the man himself: Jim Harbaugh, Maize Rage will be hosting a "Khaki out" for the game on Tuesday. Wear your khakis and GO BLUE!
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Like the rest of us, Machinima Happy Hour wondered what would happen after the crossguard lightsaber scene in the new Star Wars trailer. Unlike the rest of us, they created this hilarious animation imagination of how ridiculous that fight would be because adding light sabers to just anything is just crazy.
We're talking about a light saber battle scene with hula hoop light sabers, Medieval flail sabers, pizza sabers and so much more. I laughed so hard at R2-D2.
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As New Year's Eve preparations kick off around Australia, the logistics of the biggest night of the year can be a downer.
Transport is never easy on New Year's Eve, with buses diverted, taxis full and roads closed across most major cities. So now that there is a new player in town called Uber, you'd expect the after-midnight journey home to get a little easier, right?
Yes, if you can afford it
Uber Australia has advised its app users in an email Wednesday that surge pricing will be activated during the New Year's Eve rush, which is the company's method to get more drivers on the road to meet demand. The company estimates during the peak time, a standard ride could surge up to A$100. Read more...
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Play-Doh has landed in hot water with parents after releasing a plastic toy that looks suspiciously like a sex toy.
The item in question: an "extruder" tool included in Play-Doh's $20 Sweet Shoppe Cake Mountain Playset. Some parents are complaining that the device, intended for squeezing out icing onto a toy cake, resembles a penis
And it's a little hard to argue with that:
— Jenee Andreacola (@likeidreamof28) December 31, 2014
Play-Doh was scrambling to delete a flood of images of the phallic object posted to its Facebook page by parents, Uproxx reported Tuesday. According to the site, the extruder has been garnering complaints since November — but the outrage gained more traction after Christmas, when many kids unwrapped boxes containing the dildo-shaped object. Read more...
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HAYDEN, Idaho — A 2-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his mother after he reached into her purse at a northern Idaho Wal-Mart and her concealed gun fired, authorities said Tuesday.
The 29-year-old woman was shopping with her son and three other children, Kootenai County sheriff's spokesman Stu Miller told The Associated Press. Her family had come to the area to visit relatives, he said.
The woman, identified as Veronica J. Rutledge of Blackfoot, Idaho by the sheriff's department, had a concealed weapons permit. Miller said the young boy was left in a shopping cart, reached into the victim's purse and grabbed a small-caliber handgun, which discharged one time. Read more...
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