The Rough Afterlife of Five Star Wars Filming Locations

The many Star Wars films introduced us to strange new worlds, with names like Yavin, Tatooine, Endor, and Ahch-To. These are all inspired by, and filmed in, beautiful and exotic earthbound locations (Bespin being a notable exception). After all, they are just movies. But time marches on, and the film shot at those locations is up to 45 years old now. What are those places like now? Unfortunately, some have had a pretty dismal time coping with the fame brought by an appearance in Star Wars, with fans traveling there as if they were on a pilgrimage. But that's not the only problem.

Ahch-To is suffering from too many tourists, partially because of its Star Wars fame. Mustafar, being geologically active, is in danger of sliding into the sea. Tatooine has seen some terrorists move in. Yavin was damaged by partiers. And the forest moon of Endor is no more, a victim of industry. Read where all these places are and what's happened to them since their Star Wars appearances, at Cracked.

The Magical Cut -and How to Heal It

The guy from The Action Lab (previously at Neatorama) cuts his hand with a plastic butter knife and manages to draw blood. Or does he? This is the magic of chemicals. He's got different chemicals on each side of the knife, and they combine when he presses it against his hand. The combination of ferrochloride and potassium thiocyanite makes the blood, and then the addition of sodium fluoride makes it all turn transparent again. You might think this is genius way to do fake blood for a movie scene, but honestly, the cost of the chemicals is probably much more than what you'd pay for professional fake blood packets. But hey, it might be worth it to impress your kids someday. -via reddit

Unveiling New Names for US Military Bases

One peculiarity of the US Army is the naming of military bases after generals who actually fought against the United States. But that is coming to an end. A commission, called the Naming Commission, was tasked with coming up with new names for nine posts: Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Bragg, Fort Hood, Fort Rucker, Fort Polk, Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Pickett, and Fort Lee. The commission is made up of eight retired officers and historians. The new names are taken from war heroes and barrier breakers, except for Fort Bragg, which will be renamed Fort Liberty. The new names are:

Fort Moore, after Lt. Gen. Hal Moore and his wife, Julia Moore. Hal Moore co-wrote the book We Were Soldiers Once, and Young, about his experiences in Vietnam. Julia Moore helped create a casualty notification team.

Fort Walker, after Mary Edwards Walker, Civil War surgeon and spy and the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor.

Fort Cavazos, after Gen. Richard Cavazos, the Army’s first Hispanic four-star general. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in Both Korea and Vietnam.

Fort Gregg-Adams will be named for Lt. Gen. Arthur Gregg and Lt. Col. Charity Adams, who both rose through the ranks to become military supervisors during World War II, despite the segregation of the military at the time.

Fort Barfoot, after Tech. Sgt. Van Barfoot, Medal of Honor recipient for his actions in World War II.  

Fort Johnson, after Sgt. William Henry Johnson, a member of the Harlem Hellfighters in World War I. His heroic actions were recognized by the French, but he was not honored by the US until long after his death. Johnson received the Medal of Honor posthumously in 2015.

Fort Novosel, for pilot Michael Novosel, Medal of Honor recipient for his actions in the Vietnam War with the US Army, after serving in World War II and Korea with the Air Force.  

Fort Eisenhower, after Dwight D. Eisenhower, who led Allied forces in World War II and served as president of the United States.

Read more about each of these namesakes at Task and Purpose. Then you'll want to go to Wikipedia and read even more about them. -via Metafilter

War is Older Than Written History

Humans were busy killing each other many thousands of years ago, before they had the ability to leave written records about it. How do we know this? Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of warfare all over the world. It's all in how you read the clues. For example, a burial ground in the Nile Valley in Sudan dating back 13,500 years shows that burials were spread out over time, but of 61 bodies examined, 45% show evidence of violence by other humans. This indicates an ongoing struggle, possibly for dwindling resources. In Germany, several hundred were left unburied in one spot around 1200 BCE. Isotope analysis shows that many of them had traveled from elsewhere to do battle. In Australia’s Northern Territory, 10,000-year-old cave paintings depict people fighting each other. In Syria, actual weapons were found, clay pellets shot from slings that could pierce walls, dated to 3500 BCE. Read a roundup of ten prehistoric battle sites from all over the world, and what they tell us about ancient warfare at Mental Floss.

(Image credit: Flickr user Jon Connell)

Carlo Collodi and the Original Pinocchio

Americans know Pinocchio, the wooden boy, mainly as a cute character in a Disney movie. Students in college literature classes are surprised to learn how rich and complex the original version is, and how very Italian it is. Carlo Collodi first wrote Pinocchio as a series of magazine stories beginning in 1881. In his version, the tale begins with a block of wood that talks, and becomes a puppet in the hands of a poor woodcarver who dreams of making some money with a carved puppet that talks. Pinocchio himself is less of a cute, naive kid and more of a brat who gets into trouble constantly.

Collodi imbued his story with plenty of political satire, poking fun at the rich and powerful and warning the common folks of their evil intentions. The author spent his younger years fighting to unite Italy into a single nation, and his later years promoting education for the masses amid a push for literacy in the country. Pinocchio suffers massively for his contrary ways- he was burned, hanged, thrown into the ocean, and jailed during the series. Once he was actually killed, but was brought back by magic due to popular demand. Eventually Pinocchio learns to buckle down and become a good student, but he also learned some street smarts along the way.

Smithsonian takes us to the village of Collodi, which Carlo Lorenzini used as his pen name, to see the influences the environment had on the birth of Pinocchio, and what the delinquent puppet means to the village today.

An Honest Trailer for Morbius

The Sony film Morbius, based on the Marvel comic book, had such an intriguing premise, but the execution was dismal. A scientist/doctor conducts experiments, hoping to cure his own blood disease and in the process turns himself into a reluctant vampire. How could that go wrong? According to Screen Junkies, the movie is a confusing mess because they cut so much out of it that would have explained what we are watching. What's left are action scenes highlighting special effects that aren't all that good. While the film opened well and made a profit, the audience dropped steeply after its first weekend. The critics lauded Jared Leto's performance in the title role, but conceded that the plot was a confusing mess. Morbius has a score of 17% on Rotten Tomatoes. It's a pity, because that story could have made a deeply thoughtful film in the right hands.   

Cat Attempts Time Travel

What's going on here? The cat is pawing at the clock, which seems innocent enough. But his human, Japanese Twitter user @MikasaLove611, insists his intentions are nefarious.

The cat has learned that the human does not present food until it is 9 o'clock. The clock must have a particular appearance for the human to provide food.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc. By altering the appearance of the clock, the cat can move forward to 9 o'clock, or at least convince the human that it is now feeding time.

Time Cat could use his powers to be a superhero. But Time Cat is a cat and is thus unconcerned with the affairs of humans who are not directly involved with feeding him.

-via Super Punch

The Camera Case Bikini

Artist Nicole McLaughlin jokingly suggests that you "take a picture it'll last longer." She's famous for repurposing old objects as articles of clothing, leading to unusual combinations, such as the tennis ball hat, the croissant bra, a volleyball purse, and the Oreo slipper.

Her latest creation gets us ready for the summer heat with a bikini made from Canon camera cases. The straps provide all of the elastic flexibility that you need if you haven't gotten beach body ready yet. The built-in pockets are no doubt helpful, as one still needs to carry sunscreen, keys, and money while on the beach.

The Last Public Payphones in New York City Are Gone

They're icons of a great era in the history of New York City and a staple of film scenes from the Big Apple. And now they're gone. The city government began removing payphones in 2014 and replacing them with kiosks that offer Wi-Fi and mobile device charging. There are now 2,000 such kiosks across the city.

That conversion project is in its final phase. CNBC reports that the final payphone kiosk at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Fiftieth Street in midtown Manhattan has been removed. It will be placed on display at the Museum of the City of New York as part of an exhibit on life in that city before the computer age.

Pants-Mounted Pet Carrier

Let's say that you need to transport your pet somewhere, such as the veterinarian's office or the local public library. You would like to keep both of your hands free to, say, open doors or fight off the undead. You could wear a pet carrier backpack, but those look dorky. A far more distinguished look is this pet carrier made by Ari Serrano who creates streetwear for modern needs.

If you don't have a pet and therefore no justification for wearing these stylish pants/pet carrier, then consider trying his fan hat, his halo hat, his chalkboard pants, or his Operation game bubble jacket.

-via Ugly Design

Octopus: The Alien Intelligence Among Us

It takes a certain amount of hubris to believe that intelligent alien life forms would be anything like humans. That unconscious assumption makes it easier for Hollywood, but is actually quite limiting. Intelligence can evolve in ways we cannot even imagine, but we should try to. We have an example right here on earth, although separated from us by the environment of the ocean. We know an octopus is intelligent, but its neurological system is very different from all the land animals we are familiar with. They have more neurons in their arms and suckers than in their brains. Those neurons process sensation and communicate and coordinate all along the system. “It’s not about how intelligent they are, it’s about how they are intelligent.”

Now imagine this video from Lizbeth's perspective. She was abducted by an alien species, taken to a lab, studied, scanned, and experimented on, and then brought back home unharmed. Do you think any of her friends are going to believe that tale? -via Digg

The People Who Built Stonehenge, and Their Poop

The Neolithic people who built Stonehenge 4,500 years ago left behind an amazing monument, but that's not all they left behind. They also left their trash and body waste in the village of Durrington Walls, where they are believed to have lived while erecting the stone circle. Scientists have studied coprolites, or fossilized feces, found in the dump. These have been identified as both human and canine. They found parasite eggs, most notably capillariid eggs, in some of the samples.

Capillariid worms don't normally infest humans, and the people who passed them probably didn't suffer from them. But it gives us a clue as to what they ate. That would be beef and pork, including organ meats, not cooked well enough to kill the parasites. The canine samples also contained the eggs, which indicates that humans shared their undercooked food with the dogs. These findings bolster other clues about the people who lived there, like their festive gatherings that drew travelers from far away. Read what we've learned about the builders of Stonehenge from the trash they left behind at Smithsonian.

(Image credit: garethwiscombe)

Fallen Baby Sloth Returned to Mother

You may have wondered at one time or another whether sloths ever fall out of trees. They do, but they have evolved physically to survive long falls. Earlier this month, a baby brown-throated three-toed sloth was found near a beach in Costa Rica. Volunteers from the Jaguar Rescue Center in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca rushed the infant to a vet to be checked out. The baby was okay, so they took it back, hoping to find its mother.

The mother sloth had probably looked for the baby, but sloths have terrible eyesight. She had already climbed halfway back up her tree when the crew arrived with the baby. They summoned the mother with the recorded cry of the baby (iPhones are really handy). The mother made her way back down, a sequence that is edited in this video because it probably took a loooong time. After we get to see the reunion, they play it again, to show how the volunteer climbed up to meet her. What a sweet reunion! That baby won't let go of mama again for a long time.  -via Digg

The Con Man Who Put His Clients in Coffins

Con man William Penn Patrick understood the basics of relieving people of their money: 1. people want to believe there's an easy way to get rich, and 2. when they realize they've been conned they are often too embarrassed to admit it. Patrick's three most notorious businesses, launched between 1963 and 1974, were lucrative but also unethical and dangerous.  

Holiday Magic purportedly sold cosmetics, but that was just the gimmick. It was a pyramid scheme, in which every participant's income depended on recruiting others, even after their initial investment. Spectrum Air repaired planes, with deadly results. And Patrick's Leadership Dynamics Institute was an expensive course in self-improvement that involved torture to toughen participants up. The activities included lying in coffins, being semi-crucified, whipping, kicking, humiliation, eating bad food, and even worse. Eventually the FTC and other in investigative bodies caught up with him. Read the story of William Penn Patrick and his scams at Mental Floss.

How to Play "Happy Birthday" Like Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms, Bach, and Mozart

Nicole Pesce is a concert pianist of the highest caliber. She's been at work since early childhood, having memorized over 500 songs by the age of  7. Now, as an adult, she's personally composed over 300 and is famous for her comedic performances reminscent of the late Victor Borge.

In this concert delivered in 2011, Pesce imagined what the classic tune "Happy Birthday" would sound like if it had been written by famous classical composers. She mixes up that song with Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata", Chopin's "Military Polonaise", Brahms's "Lullaby", Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor", and a Mozart piece that I can't name.

For the final bit, Pesce imagines Mozart performing it while very drunk. Quite athletically, she plays the piano while upside down. Pesce takes her inspiration from a particular scene in the film Amadeus.

-via Nag on the Lake

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