The World’s Largest Swing

Wow! This video of four skydivers who drop from a hot air balloon on a 125-meter long swing gave me the heebie-jeebies. According to Redbull:

“You have this acceleration in another direction, unlike anything you’d experience with a normal BASE jump or skydive,” says Roithmair, who came up with the idea. “You jump, freefall, waiting for the moment when the line goes tight, then suddenly there’s this non-motorised acceleration. I can’t think of a freefall that had such different patterns of movement.” The idea behind Mega Swing was to realize that childhood dream we all have, says Lettner. “It’s the dream of everyone,” he says. “To swing higher and higher, and finally jump off and fly.”

I admit, I’ve had the dream he describes above. Have you? I think that’s why this video struck me so.

Top 10 Most Banned Books: 2015

For many, many years I have put together a list of the top ten most banned books from the previous year, during Banned Books Weak. This year the Office for Intellectual Freedom, did not report the number of challenges (not without buying their official list anyway) so I’m unsure if it has decreased or increased year-over-year. However, this year has brought along a whole new crop of books. This is the first time I recall seeing The Holy Bible being on the list. Anyway here are the top ten:


  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
  3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
    Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
  6. The Holy Bible
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
  7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
    Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
  8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
    Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
  10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).

Click these links if you are looking for the top 10 lists for previous years with easy links to Amazon: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001.

Additionally, in 2010, I put together a list of the 100 Most Banned & Challenged Books Of The Decade by aggregating several lists from the American Library Association.

If You Want To Preserve Your Power Indefinitely…

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of author, philosopher, and futurist Aldous Huxley. This fascinating, short video was made using audio from an interview by Mike Wallace on May 18, 1958 combined with the animations of Patrick Smith. In the video, Huxley foretells a future when presidential hopefuls use television to rise to power, drugs grab hold, technology takes over, and frightful dictatorships rule us all. On the day of this United State’s presidential debates and the eve of our election, this video seems particularly prescient. From Blank On Blank:

But what these people are doing, is to try to bypass the rational side of man and to appeal directly to these unconscious forces below the surfaces so that you are, in a way, making nonsense of the whole democratic procedure, which is based on conscious choice on rational ground.

Splix is a pretty fun massively multiplayer online game. It’s a combination of Snake and Qix. The object is to acquire as much territory as possible without your tale being touched by other players, yourself or the boundary wall.

Silly me, I thought I was going to get something done this afternoon.
Via Metafilter

The Deadliest Garden In The World

Inside the Gardens at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, U.K. you find the famous Poison Garden. A garden plot containing around 100 different plants that can kill a man in just as many ways. From deadly Golden Bells to Hemlock, the only way a plant is allowed to grow in this garden is if it is lethal to humans.

In this video from Great Big Story we are introduced to Trevor Jones, the head gardener. Clad in a protective suit, Jones explains the cautious steps taken in order to safely maintain the garden. Surprisingly most of the plants are very common and known as cottage garden plants – they’re grown in many people’s gardens, but people don’t know how harmful they actually are.