A Project Turns Discarded Fishing Nets into Surfboards and Helps Reduce Ocean Pollution

As you already know, the ocean (and most of the rest of the planet) is slowly being poisoned by discarded plastics, and people all over the world are looking for ways to try to mitigate, ease, or even reverse the devastating effects that humans are wreaking on the marine environment.

The latest effort comes from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where fishermen are gathering discarded fishing nets to turn into surfboards.

The project is a collaboration between DSM, a nutrition and sustainable living corporation, and Thailand-based water sports company Starboard. DSM’s operations director explained to The Straits Times that they take the nets (often they are unusably broken) from the water, then clean, granulate, and transport them to their Indian factories to be reborn as ec0-friendly surfboards.

The nets are a big problem for both people and fish, in more ways than one.

The fish who don’t get caught in the nets often consume bits of them, and then as smaller fish are eaten by bigger ones, the plastics make their way up the food chain. The nets also tangle in boat propellors, damaging engines, and they can also strangle unsuspecting marine life, like turtles or cetaceans.

According to a DSM press release, experts estimate around 640,000 tons of trash nets remain in the ocean – 10% of all ocean plastic waste. Matt Gray, a commercial director at DSM, explained their mission in more detail.

“We look beyond society’s current model of take-make-dispose and instead try to mimic nature and the circle of life. By transforming the nets into fins, fin boxes, SUP pumps, and other parts of surfboards, the nets can return to the ocean in a much more environmentally conscious way.”

The effort is also supplying jobs for the local communities in India, which means the companies and the project are doing double the good.

Good on them. Now, let’s all find a way to do the same!

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Take a Look at This Village Designed Specifically for Patients with Severe Dementia

To see someone struggling with dementia is a grueling experience. That’s why places like HammondCare in Cardiff, New South Wales, Australia, are so important and groundbreaking.

The facility that recently opened in Cardiff was designed specifically for patients suffering from severe dementia. It’s laid out like an actual village, complete with houses and shops, and can accommodate 99 residents. The HammondCare village in Cardiff is based on similar villages in Europe, where dementia patients have been found to have a much better quality of life.

HammondCare will be opening a new dementia specific village at Cardiff this August. We are looking to recruit up to 150…

Posted by HammondCare on Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Angela Raguz of Hammond Residential Care says, “There is a growing body of evidence that people living in functioning homes have better outcomes for quality of life, they are less likely to be transferred to hospital inappropriately, and are less likely to have the wrong medications being given.”

Raguz adds, “For people with dementia, it is really important to give them a continuing sense of things they are familiar with. The idea of the built environment is that we design environments that enable a person to see or sense where they would like to go.”

The residents are allowed to live freely, and nurses are on staff 24 hours a day. According to Raguz, it allows patients to have their independence while having on-hand care if needed. Patients have their own small homes with kitchens and living areas, and outside they can visit shops, small parks, and even a hairdresser.

And while it seems like this kind of service would only be reserved for the wealthy, “No one, regardless of their financial circumstances, is excluded from being able to access this type of care. If you don’t have money, it’s not a reason not to call, or to come and have a look. The care is provided to all equally.”

Yesterday, HammondCare welcomed visitors to the Cardiff Open Day. Visitors had the opportunity to explore our…

Posted by HammondCare on Thursday, August 8, 2019

Amen to that. This is a great idea.

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French People Have Spent 20 Years Building a Castle with Medieval Techniques, and It’s Almost Done

This is spectacular!

You don’t need to be a fan of history or obsessed with the Middle Ages to appreciate the hard work and determination that went into this incredible project.

The Guédelon is a castle built over the past 20 years in Burgundy, France, with only technology and materials that were available during the 13th century.

Posted by Guédelon on Saturday, July 13, 2019

That means stones are transported by cart, and specially designed cranes (13th-century style, of course) are used to get heavy rocks to the top of the castle.

Posted by Guédelon on Saturday, July 13, 2019

The project began in 1997 with Michel Guyot and Maryline Martin, who spearheaded the effort to get the castle built. Final completion is expected around 2023.

Posted by Guédelon on Tuesday, June 25, 2019

During the lengthy construction phase the site drew 300,000 curious visitors each year. Guédelon even has a historically accurate backstory attached to it as well, which he uses to guide all the castle’s design and construction decisions.

The backstory begins in 1228, and with each year that passes, the researchers and volunteers who work on the castle must adapt to changes in technology that actually occurred. The backstory now places the castle in 1248.

One of the guides at the castle said that the backstory somehow needed a little extra something to get visitors excited:

“The rule is that only what we know from documents that existed at the time is allowed. Funnily enough, we found that even though we knew we were being accurate, somehow the castle lacked soul. So we invented a character – the owner – who would have likes and dislikes, wanting this and not wanting that.”

Les préparations pour la nouvelle saison continuent !Preparations for the coming season are under way!

Posted by Guédelon on Thursday, March 6, 2014

So the “owner” of the castle is Seigneur Guilbert, a middle-ranking feudal lord who was allowed to build his castle on the land because he sided with the French crown during a rebellion. Clever, isn’t it?!?!

What a wonderful project.

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Beware! Scammers Are Sending out Fake Letters from the IRS

Be very careful, because IRS scammers have some new tricks up their sleeves!

Scammers have long impersonated the IRS to try to trick people into handing over their personal information or paying money. They often do this by calling people on the phone and asking about an overdue “tax bill.” The IRS very rarely calls people on the phone to ask for payment, which means many taxpayers are catching on to this scam.

But now, Forbes reports, some scammers are disguising themselves a bit more skillfully by sending letters instead. Unlike a phone call, it can be difficult for taxpayers to tell whether a letter is really from the IRS or not.

Photo Credit: iStock

One scam involves a letter about taxes that are owed to the “Bureau of Tax Enforcement.” The letter threatens an IRS lien or levy, which may make it sound legit. But there is no such thing as the Bureau of Tax Enforcement, and these letters are 100% a scam.

Other fake IRS letters include different warnings, like a notice that a warrant for arrest has been issued for a taxpayer because of unpaid taxes.

Sometimes these letters are made even more confusing and scary by the fact that they reference actual tax debts. This information is available to the public in some cases, though, so just because a letter includes factual info doesn’t mean it’s not a scam.

So, how can you tell that a letter really is from the IRS?

Photo Credit: iStock

First, it will usually arrive in a government envelope with the IRS seal. It will also include a notice or letter number, your truncated tax ID number, the tax year(s) in question, and IRS contact information. It will also include information about your rights as a taxpayer. The IRS will never threaten to arrest or deport you.

If in doubt, call the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040.

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The Heavy Metal Knitting World Championships Recently Took Place in Finland

There are no doubt a bunch of funny/weird/eccentric competitions out there that you and I haven’t heard about yet.

But this is something you should probably acquaint yourself with…because it is EPIC. The Heavy Metal Knitting World Championships took place in Joensuu, Finland, in July 2019 – and by the looks of it, it was a helluva lot of fun.

Posted by Heavy Metal Knitting on Thursday, July 11, 2019

It’s pretty simple: knitters get onstage and a heavy metal band plays. So the knitters kind of become part of the band. Heavy metal is hugely popular in Finland, so it only makes sense that this unusual contest took place there. Finnish heavy metal bands that are popular include HIM, Insomnium, Children of Bodom, Amorphis, Lordi, and Nightwish.

Posted by Heavy Metal Knitting on Thursday, July 11, 2019

You know what else is really popular in Finland? You guessed it! Knitting! Perfect combination, right? A band called Maniac Abductor (great name, by the way) played while the knitters feverishly worked their fingers to the bone.

One competitor in the competition said, “Knitting is such a meditative activity, but now it’s energetic and it’s heart-pumping.” Another added, “It’s ridiculous, but it’s so much fun.”

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It's one week since the 1st Heavy Metal Knitting World Championship and we're still overwhelmed by all of this! There has been so many articles, interviews and media interest towards our newly established sport that we've completely lost track of how far and wide the information has spread. We checked the top 10 most viewed videos on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube – combined they have 24 million views and around 200 000 shares at the moment, and it's just the top 30 posts of these channels :O A month ago "heavy metal knitting" search in Google resulted in a few thousand results. Today the amount of results stands at over 500 000 🤯 There has been several tv-spots in Japan, radio interviews in Australia and UK, many of the contestants have been interviewed in their home countries. So amazing and crazy at the same time! Knitting is definitely no bullshitting. Thank you for making this all possible! We're currently drafting the outlines of the event for next year and will let you know immediately when we've agreed on the date of the competition 🤘 (The Knitting is no Bullshitting cloth was used in @antra.karkla final act 😉) (Picture by @tovarimarketing @joonakotilainen 😘) #heavymetalknitting

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This is how the event’s Facebook page sums it up:

“In heavy metal knitting, needlework and music become united like never before. On the same stage, accompanied by a million-dollar guitar solo, with hair flowing in the air, there’s heavy metal music and knitting, shaking hands.

Knitting to the rhythm of heavy metal music can be compared to playing air guitar — which is a Finnish way to goof around as well. In heavy metal knitting, the knitter becomes a part of the band, showing their best needlework tricks as the heavy riffs echo on the background. The knitter takes part in the jam while their balls of yarn and knitting needles swish through the air…”

And get a load of who ended up winning the championship.

Incredible. Here’s some video of the event you need to see.

I think I’m gonna have to go to this next year…Finland, here I come!

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15 Amazing Photos of What Mars Looks Like

It’s just like in Total Recall! Kind of…

The Curiosity Rover on Mars sends photos back from the red planet daily. And they are MINDBLOWING.

We, and NASA of course, still have so much to learn about Mars, but even these images would have been inconceivable not so many years ago.

Take a look at these stunning photographs.

1. Check that out

Photo Credit: NASA

2. Tracks

Photo Credit: NASA

3. On top of the world

Photo Credit: NASA

4. Desert landscape

Photo Credit: NASA

5. Wide open

Photo Credit: NASA

6. There’s the Rover again!

Photo Credit: NASA

7. Fish eye

Photo Credit: NASA

8. Doing good work

Photo Credit: NASA

9. Endless

Photo Credit: NASA

10. Lonely

Photo Credit: NASA

11. Fascinating

Photo Credit: NASA

12. Cool shot

Photo Credit: NASA

13. Boulders

Photo Credit: NASA

14. Wow

Photo Credit: NASA

15. Science rocks!

Photo Credit: NASA

Be sure to follow NASA’s progress on Mars, it gets more fascinating by the day!

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This Is What It’s like to Run a World-Class Penis Museum

If you are reading this article, you’re clearly my sort of people – because who wouldn’t be curious about what it takes to run a museum full of penises?

Luckily, there’s a man with experience ready and willing to let us all in on the family secrets.

Hjotur Gisli Sigurosson curates the Icelandic Phallological Museum, a vocation handed down by a father who indulged a penis fascination by collecting interesting specimens wherever he ran across them.

Hjotur was just 10 when his father, Sigurour Hjartarson, began his collection in 1974. The first specimen was a “pizzle,” or a dried bull’s penis, that was given to Sigurour as a joke. He began a collection that grew until he opened it to the public in 1997.

Hjotur never thought the collection was odd, and recalls time spent with his father fondly.

“I had great adventures going to remote places to harvest organs with my father,” he told Mental_Floss.

The collection includes mostly Icelandic mammal specimens, harvested from dead animals (like beached whales) or given to the family by hunters. Hjotur says, though, that they “never ask for an animal to be killed just to harvest the organ.”

They have one human specimen.

“It was from a 95-year-old man. He signed a letter of donation in 1996, and when he died in 2011 a doctor removed his penis.”

The collection also includes 23 “mystical creature” penises, like “elves, trolls, and mermen,” though Hjotur acknowledges that “some, we suspect, are man-made.”

The museum sells every practical object in the shape of a penis you could ever want – cutlery, lamps, bottle openers, etc – so basically, now you know where to go before your next bachelorette party!

Hjotur isn’t ashamed of the collection, as “there is nothing pornographic or offensive on display,” and he points out that people from all over the world come to visit.

“The reaction is 99.9% positive. Most people see the humorous side and some get very into the scientific angle of it. Most people enter not knowing what to expect and come out smiling or laughing. Last year, we had a little over 20,000 visitors.”

He thinks, too, that seeing the, um, variety might help people understand that when it comes to anatomy, there is no “normal.”

“You’ll learn that as with everything in nature, the diversity in this department is as great as in any other; even within the same species the difference in size and shake is often quite remarkable.”

Hjotur, like his father before him, is always adding to his collection – “a new one, a bigger, better one, a different one” – and he’s open to starting a gallery that honors phallic art in all forms, too.

If you’re looking for something a bit off the beaten path on your next trip to Iceland, well, how can you pass this up? It’s education, it’s entertainment – what more could you ask for in a tour stop?

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More Than 28,000 Species Are Now on a Collision Course with Extinction

There’s no denying that the planet is warming, people are invading every last corner of the globe, and pollution is at an all-time high  – all of which combines to mean that there are thousands of species in danger of disappearing from the earth forever.

For the first time since it began in 1964, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s list of threatened species has surpassed 100,000. 9,000 were added in the past year, bringing the total to 105,732, and a full third of those – 28,338 species – are staring down extinction if nothing changes.

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Visual definition of the term: CONNECTION

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Freshwater fish are particularly at risk these days, with half of all species endemic to Japan threatened and a third of those from Mexico facing the same fate. The IUCN lists agricultural and urban pollution, loss of free-flowing rivers, dams, weirs, fishing, and invasive species as the main reasons for decline.

“To halt these declines, we urgently need policies on the human use of freshwaters that allow for the needs of the many other species sharing these ecosystems,” argues Willam Darwall, head of the IUCN’s Freshwater Biodiversity Unit.

Saltwater inhabitants are hardly faring much better, with an entire group known as Rhino rays ready to disappear in the wild at the drop of a hat. Though not technically sharks, their dorsal fins are making them targets of the same people decimating the world’s shark population for shark fin soup.

“To prevent losing these ray families, it is critical that governments immediately establish and enforce species protections,  bycatch mitigation programs, marine protected areas, and international trade controls,” warns expert Colin Simpfendorder.

500 deep-sea bony fishes have also been added to the list, endangered by deep-sea fishing, seabed mining, and the oil and gas industries.

On land, 7 new primate species find themselves officially endangered, 6 of which reside in West Africa. The IUCN says as many as 40% of West and Central African primates are threatened with extinction, including the roloway monkey, hunted for its meat. Deforestation also plays a critical role in the displacement and struggle many species face.

“With more than 100,000 species now assessed for the IUCN’s Red List, this update clearly shows how much humans around the world are overexploiting wildlife,” says IUCN Acting Director General Dr. Grethel Aguilar.

“We must wake up to the fact that conserving nature’s diversity is in our interest, and is absolutely fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. States, businesses and civil society must urgently act to halt the overexploitation of nature, and must respect and support local communities and Indigenous Peoples in strengthening sustainable livelihoods.”

Here’s hoping enough people listen before it’s too late.

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This Couple Rode Every Ride at Disney World – Without a Fast Pass

You’re probably asking yourself, ‘How did these two pull off this amazing feat?’ Well, we’re going to explain that to you right now.

If you’ve ever set foot on Disney World’s property, you know that you have to navigate a sea of humanity. It’s PACKED with people pretty much all the time.

But Shane Lindsay and Kristina Hawkins somehow managed to pull off the incredible achievement of riding all 46 rides at Disney World during a recent visit. And they did it all in 18 hours without FastPasses.

The couple knew the odds were against them, but they couldn’t resist. Lindsay started the Parkeology Challenge, a competition that calls for participants to ride every ride at the four Orlando theme parks (The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom).

Lindsay and Hawkins documented their stop on every ride on Twitter. They began their quest in the Magic Kingdom at 7:51 a.m. on a Wednesday morning and completed their excellent adventure just before closing time at 2:00 a.m. on Thursday. They said their longest wait was an hour long for Animal Kingdom’s Flight of Passage.

The Parkeology Challenge was created in 2014 and since then only 6% of the 325 teams that have dared to try have completed the mission. Lindsay and Hawkins have completed the challenge before, but this was the first time they did it without a FastPass or a MagicBand, which allow you to skip over those neverending lines of people waiting to get onto rides.

Hawkins said of the experience and resulting viral attention, “It’s mostly just Disney street cred, I would say. It was almost like we broke the internet, the Disney internet, everyone was freaking out.”

Impressive! A job well done!

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Learn Some Great New Information with These 10 Facts

Ready to exercise that brain? Ready to learn?

Then let’s get to work!

1. I need one of these

Photo Credit: did you know?

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2. Where the bodies were buried

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3. That makes sense

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4. Ouch…

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5. Nice and quiet

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6. WOW

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7. Improvement

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8. No more, no less

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9. Double rainbows!

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10. Wild animals

Photo Credit: did you know?

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That was some good learnin’!

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