You want to make tea from my what now?
Birth control can be a hassle—but as a review of the history of contraception reveals, modern methods don’t hold a candle to the hoops that people used to jump through to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Gents, ever complained about the mandate to, as a U.S. government film instructed soldiers during World War II, “put it on before you put it in”? Perhaps you’d prefer a condom made of fish or animal intestine that ties on with a ribbon, like the ones men used in the 1600s. You could store it in a box by the bed to reuse again and again! Oh, but if you grab the contents of that box for protection when you sneak out to visit a possibly pox- or clap-ridden prostitute, just remember: while sperm can’t fit through the pores in an animal intestine, viruses can. (At least you’d be saving the woman from having to chug mercury, a last-ditch 17th century method of terminating an unwanted pregnancy.)
And ladies, grossed out by the notion of shielding your cervix with animal dung? Try some fruit instead: one 1550 BC recipe for a vaginal suppository included acacia fruit, which has been shown to prevent pregnancy in lab mice—that is, when they eat the seeds. And in the 18th century, Casanova fashioned a cervical cap from half a pulped lemon (perhaps to avoid responsibility for child support), and the combination of blockage and acidity made this a fairly effective method.
An illustration of hell from the 12th-century encyclopedia
Religion takes a two-pronged approach to encouraging good behavior: breaking the rules warrants supernatural punishment, while positive actions can earn a blissful afterlife. To most effectively promote a moral lifestyle, however, religious leaders may want to scrap the heavenly reassurance and preach more fire and brimstone: While belief in hell is strongly associated with lower crime rates, belief in heaven is actually tied to more crime.
For 67 countries and more than 143,000 participants, psychologists compared three decades of data about belief in heaven, hell, and God to information about the rates of ten different crimes, including homicide and robbery. They found that religious beliefs were better predictors for five of the ten crimes than either poverty or income inequality.
If these fossilized turtles had a final thought, it was probably, “If you’ve gotta go, go out with a bang!” New evidence suggests that the ancient reptiles died while mating and were preserved in their final embrace.
Germany’s Messel Pit Fossil Site contains black oil shale that has preserved even the soft tissues of tens of thousands of 47-million-year-old fossils. Among them, the only ones found in pairs were nine sets of coupled carettochelyid turtles, and although previous research speculated that the reptiles were copulating, there was no proof until now. German researchers discovered that the turtles were all in male-female pairs (in the above image, the larger fossil on the left is the female), and that their tails were aligned, a position that indicates the close contact of a mating stance.
“We present a case of stinging in the oral cavity caused by ingestion of the sperm bags of a squid. The patient experienced severe pain in her oral cavity immediately after eating raw squid. When she was examined at our hospital, we found that several small whitish spindle-shaped stings were stuck to the mucous membrane of the hard palate. Read More
If only the James brothers had studied econometrics,
they would have realized that crime doesn’t pay.
Pondering a bank-robbing life of crime? Don’t start building the pool for swimming through your piles of money quite yet: Economists say that in a single raid in the United Kingdom, a robber doesn’t even earn enough to purchase a new car, while each theft increases his odds of being captured.
“The return on an average bank robbery is, frankly, rubbish. It is not unimaginable wealth. It is a very modest [$19,889.64] per person per raid,” write three British economics professors in their paper (titled “Robbing banks: Crime does pay—but not very much”) in the journal Significance. At that rate, to earn an average annual income in the UK, any would-be Butch Cassidy would have to hold up two banks a year, and by the time he completed three successful raids—and only 66 percent of bank robberies actually succeed—he would face a fifty-fifty chance of arrest.
In the United States, a bank robber’s gains are even more abysmal, with each hold-up pulling in a feeble $4,330. At least the American bank robbery can lord it over the average commercial raid (which nets an average of $1,589) and convenience store bust (only $769 on average).
“The purpose of this paper is to discuss the significance of the prison scenario and its various permutations in the texts of American commercial pornographic video. The paper will identify the prison as a highly eroticised all male environment, an arena where the active/passive dichotomy of gay pornography is staged and re-staged. The significances of the prison are multiple. Read More
Lysol, which, like scotch, contains cresol, was also once used as a vaginal douche.
Don Nosowitz over at PopSci has a lovely little explainer explaining something I am glad to realize I am not the only one wanting an explanation for. That is: why does scotch, hifalutin’ drink that it is, smell like Band-Aids? I’ve never liked that Scotchy odor, and now I know why it reeks of the pediatrician’s office. It’s because peat, the mossy stuff that’s burned in order to smoke the barley that becomes scotch, is naturally packed with a class of molecules called cresols, which are also, coincidentally, crack disinfectants.
Another day, another secure facility to infiltrate. Life as a commando is tough—especially when you get stuck with your back up against a wall. Your jet pack’s at the cleaners, you left your grappling hook in your other pants, radioactive spiders are hibernating this time of year…as you run through your wall-scaling options, you’re about to give up, until you remember your handy “vertical ascender” pack! Powerful enough to carry 300 pounds, the device uses vacuum suction to turn a human into a wall-crawler.
In fact, you’re not sure how you forgot you were carrying it in the first place: it’s bulky, heavy, and makes a racket like a vacuum cleaner.
“The cognitive representation of a food as being a “snack” or a “meal” influences eating behavior. We found previously that subjects who considered a particular food to be a ‘snack’ ate significantly more calories when tested later than subjects who considered the same foods as a ‘meal’. We conducted two surveys to determine the categorization of foods as “snacks” or “meals”. Read More