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It’s The Entire Iliad Staged In A Video Game!

It wasn’t even staged on a game that provides a feature that could let its players film short clips or movies like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, no! Remember the roguelike game with the sexy, well drawn characters from Supergiant Games? Sure, Hades is obviously set in Greek mythology, so there’s no surprise that fans wanted to pay homage to its source material

Six months in the works, the Iliad Project is a community reading of Homer’s timeless epic, initially streaming live on Twitch later this month. Leading the charge is Wriste13, a Hades speedrunner who’s played the game since well before its official 1.0 release last September. (If you’ve kept tabs on the game’s speedrunning community, you’ll recognize him as the champ of the Hermes Cup.) More than two dozen members of the community—from other speedrunners to actual Hades voice actors to some folks who just love the game—will participate. The Iliad Project even tapped Greg Kasavin, Supergiant’s creative director, to draft and read an introduction.
“The main goal is that the Hades community produces something like this...and that we get a nice wide swath of readers in terms of variety,” Wriste told me over a Discord voice call last week. “We have familiar names, like Jawless Paul, who is a YouTuber, and we have Courtney Vineys, who did the voices [in Hades] for Dusa and Aphrodite. But we also have a lot of smaller streamers and some people who aren’t even streamers, or who barely have a social media presence. They just love the game.”

Image credit: Supergiant / Kotaku

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Rare NASA Apollo Mission Camera Lens For Sale

Hey, space nerds- here’s your chance! A Zeiss Planar 50mm f/0.7, hailed as one of the rarest photo lenses in the world, will be up for auction in Vienna, Australia. The lens was designed for NASA, who needed a device that could capture photos of the moon during its Apollo missions. Out of the ten lenses to be ever made, NASA had six of them: 

"This is one of these ten lenses that Zeiss made at that time," said Andreas Schweiger, of Leitz Photographica Auction, which is running the auction. "Most probably, this is one of the lenses delivered to NASA."
Schweiger spoke to Insider last week via Zoom from his office in Vienna, where his team's readying for a live auction at the city's Hotel Bristol, scheduled for June 12.
For the last few weeks, boxes containing historic and rare camera equipment have been arriving at the auction company's doorstep. Most came from private collectors. 
"They get their camera as a gift from their grandparents, for example, or they find maybe a camera in the attic," Schweiger said. "When they don't know what to do, they look up on the internet and hopefully they find us."

Image credit: Leitz Photographica Auction

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$1,700 Electric Jeep From Alibaba

That is way too cheap for a vehicle. It turns out that Alibaba has an electric vehicle catalog, with low-cost vehicles that are relatively usable. But is it worth the purchase? Electrek shares the experience of one of its readers regarding their purchase of a $1,700 electric mini-Jeep: 

This isn’t some electric Powerwheels toy – it can fit a couple of adults shoulder to shoulder. It’s more closely comparable to a golf cart in size and power, yet reaches a decent speed of 25 mph (40 km/h).
It’s also much cheaper than golf carts, which cost around $7,000 in the US.
Amazingly, this mini-Jeep is quite affordably priced at a mere $1,280.
But based on my conversations earlier this year with the Chinese factory, the final price shipped to a US port seemed to put it closer to $1,700.
That’s actually pretty close to what Electrek reader Kyle Day found when he set out to order his own electric Jeep.
He originally told me several months ago that he planned to buy one and have it sent to the US. I offered him my customs broker’s contact info (I have a problem and it’s called “buying too much weird stuff from overseas”) and I asked him to keep me updated about how the process went.

Check the full interview with Kyle Day here to learn more! 

Image credit: Alibaba via Electrek 

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I Cooked A Chicken By Slapping It

But Don’t we need heat when we cook meat? Louis Weisz  proves that you can slap a chicken hard enough to cook it! Watch the long process involved in making this particular project successful. It’s fun to watch, definitely --but it’s not something I’d do everyday. 

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The Pizza-Making Contraption

Joseph Herscher of Joseph's Machines (previously) designed a complicated but clever chain-reaction machine to make a pizza with pepperoni and olives. It makes a pizza in less than two minutes (the crust is pre-made), but the credits include a device to feed Joseph a slice of pizza. That part is not all that precise, and proves a bit messy. -via Geeks Are Sexy

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Crow Takes An Ant Bath

What kind of bath now? When photographer Tony Austin spotted a crow that was acting weird, Austin decided to take a photo of it. It turns out that the crow was taking an ant bath, as the photographer noticed the crow had ants crawling all over its body. Petapixel has the details: 

Anting is a maintenance tactic birds use in which they intentionally invite ants or other insects onto their feathers and skin. Oftentimes the bird will lie down in a location covered with the insects and do certain poses while the bugs are swarming its body. This is called passive anting, and this is what Austin observed and photographed.
While there are documented observations of anting behavior, scientists still aren’t exactly sure why birds engage in it. Theories include the birds getting rid of parasites, grooming their feathers, preparing the insects for consumption, taking pleasure in the sensations, and stimulating feather growth for molting.

Image credit: Tony Austin 

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Japan’s New Way To Bury The Dead

With the rising need for land to house the living, many countries are destroying cemeteries to get more space. In return, they are trying to change the way funerary rites are done, and how cemeteries operate, from promoting cremation over physical burial in Hong Kong, to creating columbariums and demolishing family tombs in Singapore. Japan is now promoting tree burial as a thoughtful new way to bury the dead:  

As a scholar who studies Buddhist funerary rituals and narratives about the afterlife, what interests me are the innovative responses in some Buddhist-majority nations and the tensions that result as environmental needs clash with religious beliefs.
The idea of tree burials has proven so popular in Japan that other temples and public cemeteries have mimicked the model, some providing burial spaces under individual trees and others spaces in a columbarium that surrounds a single tree.
Scholar Sébastian Penmellen Boret writes in his 2016 book that these tree burials reflect larger transformations in Japanese society. After World War II, Buddhism’s influence on Japanese society declined as hundreds of new religious movements flourished. Additionally, an increasing trend toward urbanization undermined the ties that had traditionally existed between families and the local temples, which housed and cared for their ancestral gravesites.
Tree burials also cost significantly less than traditional funerary practices, which is an important consideration for many Japanese people struggling to support multiple generations. The birth rate in Japan is one of the lowest in the world, so children often struggle without siblings to support ailing and deceased parents and grandparents.

Image credit: Cebas/iStock

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The Strange Tale of the Identical Twin’s Mirrored Mansion

In the early 1850s, two brothers left their home in Massachusetts and decided to build a farm on the frontier near Eureka, Wisconsin. They were twins, unusually close twins, who pooled their resources to buy land, and they built a magnificent home together.

Just outside a small, rural Wisconsin farm town, lay the ruins of a grand mansion. In stark contrast to the flat, surrounding fields and scattered barns, was the peculiar sight of a once opulent home that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue during the Gilded Age. For years, mystery surrounded the empty ruin, with local legends spoken of secret stairways and underground tunnels; some suggesting the decaying manse had been used during Prohibition as a hideout for Al Capone. But the real mystery of the crumbling mansion was even more remarkable. For the house was built in two halves, each side a perfect mirror of the other, inside and out. Enter through the front door and you’d discover two kitchens, four parlour rooms, two dining rooms, and nearly a dozen bedrooms, each half designed and decorated as an exact copy of the other.

Built in 1852, virtually in the middle of nowhere, this mansion was an oddity in its own right – and that was before you even saw who lived there. The unusual Victorian mirrored home was built by identical twin brothers, Argalus and Augustus Foote, who were so inseparable in life, they even married women with matching initials in a double wedding, Augustus to Ann, and Argalus to Adelia. The Foote twins set about building a dream home where each family would live parallel lives in their own half of the mansion. But tragedy would soon descend upon the house, leaving it to fall into ruin. This is the story of the mysterious Foote mansion.

The Foote brothers only lived in the mansion a few years, then moved on to Oshkosh. But the mansion stayed, and outlived the brothers by more than 100 years, without residents for most of that time. Read the story of the legendary Foote mansion at Messy Nessy Chic.

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The World's Oldest Serial Killer

Ana di Pištonja was born in Vladimirovac, Yugoslavia (now Serbia) in 1838, or sometime thereabouts. Later in life, she became known as Baba Anujka. After a disastrous relationship when she was young, Anujka taught herself chemistry, particularly how to make poison.  

Anujka made a laboratory in one wing of her house after her husband died, and she earned a reputation as a healer and herbalist in the late 19th century. She was popular with wives of farmers who sought her help for health problems, and she earned a respectable income which enabled her to live comfortably. She produced medicines and mixtures which would make soldiers ill enough to escape military service, and she also sold poisonous mixtures which she branded “magic water” or “love potions”. She sold the so-called “magic water” mostly to women with abusive husbands; they would give the concoction to their husbands, who would usually die after about eight days.

Anujka’s “love potion” contained arsenic in small quantities and certain plant toxins that were difficult to detect. When told about a marriage problem, Anujka would ask her client, “How heavy is that problem?”, which meant, “What is the body mass of the victim?” She was then able to calculate the dose needed. Anujka’s victims were usually men, typically young and healthy. Her clients claimed at her trial that they did not know that her “magic water” contained poison, but that they believed that she had some kind of supernatural powers to kill people using magic. Anujka’s potions killed between 50 and 150 people.

The reason she is known as "the world's oldest serial killer" is because she was 90 years old when she was finally arrested! Read the tale of Baba Anujka at Vintage Everyday. -via Strange Company

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How Equality Slipped Away

Anthropologists estimate that humans have been around for about 300,000 years. For about 290,000 of those years, there was relative equality in status for everyone. Sure, these small hunter-gatherer groups listened to the wisdom of elders and made allowances for children, but they didn't have chiefs or rulers or wealthy people that bossed the rest around. It didn't take all that long for human society to separate people into the haves and the have-nots, whether we are talking about wealth, power, or status. So what happened?

There are two developments in mobile forager cultures that tend to set the stage for the establishment of inequality. One such scaffold to inequality was the emergence of clan structure. Clans have a strong corporate identity, built around real or mythical genealogical connection, reinforced by demanding initiation rites and intense collective activities. They become central to an individual’s social identity. Individuals see themselves, and are seen by others, primarily through their clan identity. They expect and get social support mostly within their clan, as the anthropologist Raymond C Kelly writes in Warless Societies and the Origin of War (2000). Once storage and farming emerged, incipient elites used clan membership to mobilise social and material support.

The second development was the emergence of a quasi-elite based on the control of information, which created a hierarchy of prestige and esteem, rather than wealth and power. This was originally based on subsistence skills. Forager life depends on very high levels of expertise in navigation, tracking, plant identification, animal behaviour, and artisan skills. The genuinely expert attract deference and respect in return for generously sharing their knowledge, as the evolutionary biologist Joseph Henrich argues in The Secret of Our Success (2015). As the social anthropologist Jerome Lewis has shown, this economy of information can include story and music, and the same can be true of its ritual and normative life. Indeed, there might be a fusion of ritual with subsistence information, if ritual narratives are used as a vehicle for encoding important but rarely used spatial and navigational information. There’s some suggestion of this fusion in Australian Aboriginal songlines, and the idea is expanded from Australia and defended in detail by the orality scholar Lynne Kelly in Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies (2015). So there can be expertise and deference not just in subsistence skills, but also with regards to religion and ritual.

So the elites tended to rise based on who you know or what you know. But none of that would have led to the world we live in if it weren't for one crucial development: agriculture. Read how these forces came together to produce stratified societies at Aeon. -via Damn Interesting

(Image credit: David Hawgood)

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Meet The Monster Who Inspired Lady Dimitrescu

Alright, she’s been all over the Internet during the promotional campaign for Resident Evil: Village. The 'big-tiddy' monster vampire that almost every gamer wanted to be with when the demo for the game was released created a huge noise in the gaming community. Lady Alcina Dimitrescu can be both menacing and enchanting. Did you know that she was based on a real-life Hungarian noblewoman? GG Recon has more details: 

Born into noble stock in 1560, Bathory ruled her family estate with an iron fist. While her husband was away at war, Bathory apparently took control of the estate. Although his name was Count Ferenc II Nádasdy, Bathory's higher social standing meant she kept her maiden name, and he even changed his to Bathory. These days, Elizabeth Bathory is often referred to as The Blood Countess or Countess Dracula, and is said to have been the inspiration behind Bram Stoker's Dracula. 

According to sources, Bathory tried to retain her youth by bathing in the blood of virgin women. The bowels of her home were reportedly found filled with dead or dying women (usaully between the age of 10 and 14), who Bathory and her conspirators would kidnap and torture. It's claimed that girls would attend the castle for etiquette lessons and were then subjected to horrors. Some say they were burned with hot tongs and then dunked in icy water, while others were apparently covered in honey and live ants. Accounts of Bathory bathing in blood come from after her death, so it's unclear whether they were factual or just added to folklore to make her more of a local boogeyman.

Image credit: Jyinnovbsoce1m from via Blogspot

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Wrapped Candy as Cake Decorations

Jen Yates introduces us to a new trend in cake decorating that may seem a treat, but one might also suspect it's a shortcut to a "decorated" cake. It's the practice of adding well known candies on top of the iced cake. In their original wrappers. Now, a candy wrapper is useful for identifying the brand and flavor of a candy bar, and to keep the candy clean inside. But you don't expect the outside of the wrapper to be all that clean.  

And digging through icing with your fingers just to unwrap a piece of chocolate that is covered in chocolate and then smooshed into chocolate sounds about as appealing as... ooh, look!


You can see plenty more examples of this trend at Cake Wrecks.

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True Facts: Dangerous Little Ticks

Let's be honest: ticks are awful. Ze Frank tells us all about ticks, and he doesn't sugarcoat anything, so be warned. That said, there are plenty of things to snicker at in his entertaining explanation if you aren't too squicked out over the subject matter.

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The Wacky State of the Used Car Market

Online car sellers Carvana and Vroom have automatic apps through which you can get an offer on your used car, whether you're serious about selling it or not. Some of those offers have gone viral because people cannot believe how much some cars are worth to them, more than the car was purchased for, and sometimes more than the price of a new model!

The strangeness is most visible on social media, where it’s easy to find reports of online-only retailers like Carvana and Vroom offering stratospheric buyout prices for everyday used cars. Often prices for extra-hot used vehicles, like the Jeep Wrangler and Toyota Tacoma, approach or exceed the suggested retail price for their new counterparts. Clearly, one might naturally assume, someone is losing money here. “Disrupting” the market by burning investor cash is a classic Silicon Valley play, one that defined the rise of Uber. It wouldn’t be surprising to see online retailers using COVID-19-related market shifts and piles of VC money to gobble up market share while taking substantial losses.

Yet that’s not what’s happening. It may defy surface-level logic and stun onlookers, but the trade-in values and used car prices at online retailers aren’t outliers.

“The market is absolutely on fire,” Jonathan Banks, J.D. Power vice president and general manager of vehicle valuations, told Road & Track. “Dealers are going to pay you perhaps even more, depending on where you’re at. Especially if you have a Tacoma. Gosh, if you have a Tacoma it’s like a gold mine. Your Tacoma, your Wrangler, your F-150, dealers are going to pay you top-dollar price as well. So this is not a Carvana phenomenon.”

What's behind these crazy prices? You guessed it: a shortage of new cars. The reasons are a combination of what happened to toilet paper last year and what happened to real estate this year. Read about the factors feeding a red-hot used car market at Road and Track. -via Digg

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Earthquake Helmet Chair

In Japan, the need for immediate, effective protection from earthquakes is great. Designer Kota Nezu offers this chair to help. When the ground begins shaking, remove the back and put it on your head to protect your skull and spine.

-via Toxel

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