World’s Strangest

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The Insidious Cost of Ringtone Piracy

I’ve covered the brouhaha over laws like SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA. But in this five-minute TED Talk, Rob Reid brilliantly explains what I had been missing all along: Copyright Math™. By going through a series of claims by entertainment industry shills Copyright Mathematicians™, Reid reveals the shockingly absurd “truth” about media piracy: [...]

The Top 5 mental_floss Quizzes of 2011

This weekend, we’ve been counting down the year’s top quizzes (see #6-#10 and #11-#15). Pay attention to what’s been working, because tomorrow we’ll start accepting suggestions for another installment of Reader-Submitted Quiz Week. What resume wouldn’t look better with “I wrote a quiz for mental_floss” down in the MISCELLANEOUS section? (Plus you can win [...]

Five Potentially Great Power Couples (and why they never made it)

1. Bobby Fischer and Barbra Streisand Barbra Streisand, the future Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony winner, actually attended the same Brooklyn high school as Bobby Fischer, who at the time was already competing in and winning international chess tournaments. Streisand later confided that she had a crush on the chess player, saying that he “was always [...]

The Late Movies: Late Night Hosts on Late Night Shows That Aren’t Their Own

In need of content during the 2007-2008 Writer’s Guild of America strike, comedians Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Conan O’Brien created an elaborate faux feud to attract viewers, which culminated in a mock battle between the three hosts on the set of Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Though perhaps the most elaborate, this was far [...]

Glenn Beck vs. Jon Stewart: The FCC Complaint Quiz

Every year, the Federal Communications Commission receives hundreds of thousands of complaints about alleged violations of their rules against “obscene, indecent, or profane programming.” Through the Freedom of Information Act, it’s possible to get copies of these complaints, with the names and address of the complainants redacted. We’ve put together a few complaints the FCC has [...]

The Quick 10: Merriam-Webster’s Top Ten Words of 2010

As a self-proclaimed word nerd, I love when the word of the year is announced. You may have seen the #1 word floating about the Web, but here’s the rest of the list as determined by Merriam-Webster.com. They base their picks on words that have seen more traffic than in previous years; they can typically [...]

Funny Posters at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

Photo: Kevin H. [Flickr] I’m sure most of you are aware of the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, as hosted by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I’ll leave the political pontifications to other sites, and focus on the very, very funny posters pool at Flickr.

The Late Movies: O-SPAN

C-SPAN can be pretty boring, unless you’re watching Jon Stewart narrate the highlights. Personally, if I have to watch Congress on TV I much prefer O-SPAN, which is The Onion’s coverage. It’s a heckuva lot livelier. For instance, here’s what happens what a bat gets loose on the floor of Congress. … or when a half-eaten fish [...]

Neil deGrasse Tyson “Not the Boss of the Solar System,” Says News Industry

I’ll be writing about The Pluto Files, a NOVA program coming in March, over the next couple of weeks. But I thought I’d point you to this breaking news — in the video below, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Brian Williams, and Diane Sawyer have a thing or two to say about Neil deGrasse Tyson demoting [...]

The Late Movies: The Flaming Lips!

Last night, one of my favorite bands, the Flaming Lips, appeared on The Colbert Report in support of their upcoming album, Embryonic. Taking “weird” as a compliment, this collection of musicians from Oklahoma have been delighting fans for 25 years. For tonight’s Late Movies, here are some clips of this delightfully silly and incredibly talented [...]