Saturday, 29 August 2015

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

Tough Crowd

It’s impossible to please everyone. Even the finest institutions struggle to make every guest happy—just look at the reviews complaining of long lines, large crowds, and curt security guards on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. But the toughest customers to leave reviews seem to have missed the point of the places they've visited entirely.

1. “I HATE ART, I HATE TOUR GUIDES, AND I HATE THEM FOR TAKIN DOWN THE ROCKY STATUE.”

Dali. Degas. Manet. Monet. All of these artists are present at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. But the best piece of art at the museum, according to this Yelp reviewer, was the Rocky statue, which was moved from the top of the museum steps to the bottom in 2006. (Sic from here on out.) “i hate them for takin down the rocky statue,” she wrote. “I would reccommend the place if u like sober tour guides and borin naked art sculptures... trust me that all there is…”

2. “I EXPECTED SIGHTS FROM NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM.”

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City isn’t just an attraction—it’s also a scientific institution doing important research. Though the vast majority of its 33 million specimens aren't on display, visitors can still see dinosaur bones, rare gems, large meteors, and animals (that are indeed very real!) preserved just as they were in life, in dioramas that mimic the habitats where they lived.
But despite all that excellent and awe-inspiring stuff, this Yelp reviewer still came away disappointed. “I expected sights from Night at the Museum, but realized only the outside is the same,” she wrote in her one-star review, concluding that the museum was “not worth the money or time,” a statement many visitors to AMNH probably disagree with.

3. “IT'S 2015 GET SPLASH GUARDS!!!!!”

People go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City to see works by the likes of August Renoir and Mary Cassat, view actual Ancient Egyptian temples, and check out medieval armor—not to hang out in the bathroom. Still, the terrible men's room experience was what one Yelp reviewer took away from his time at the Met:
First of all most people don't even know that you can get in paying a penny and second off all.. No splash guards in the bathroom?? I rather pay full 25 dollars and get splash guards..Like really in a museum so big and so fancy you couldn't opt out for splash guards??
If the rest of his review is any indication, he wasn’t a fan of any exhibits at the museum, either. “Get the splash guards maybe go up to a 2 star review,” he wrote.

4. “THE STUFF HERE CAN PROBABLY BE SEEN ANYWHERE. LIKE ANY RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT WORTH ITS SALT.”

Jimmy Emerson, DVM, Flickr // CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
The original collection that makes up Philadelphia’s Mutter Museum of Medical Oddities was donated by Thomas Dent Mutter, a surgeon who pioneered plastic surgery for burn victims, to the Philadelphia College of Physicians in 1858. In addition to a number of wax figures (many collected by Mutter himself), the museum includes the conjoined livers of Chang and Eng Bunker, pieces of Einstein’s brain, and the tallest skeleton on exhibit in North America. It was all very dull to this “super, super easy to please” Yelp reviewer, who wrote that “The stuff here can probably be seen anywhere. Like any Ripley's Believe It Or Not worth its salt.” (Probably not, actually.)
reviewer on TripAdvisor was similarly underwhelmed, complaining that “This museum is basically two floors of skulls, more skulls, and fetuses in jars ... To appreciate the things this place offers, you need to have an interest in the medical field … I thought I was going to see cool things—like a fork stuck in an esophagus and things like that.” Yes, a woman whose bodybecame encased in soap in its grave totally pales in comparison to a fork stuck in an esophagus.

5. “THERE IS NOTHING PARTICULARLY UNIQUE OR FASCINATING AND THE ROOMS ... ARE LARGELY UNIMPRESSIVE.”

There’s a lot you could say about Chateau Versailles, the palace away from palace of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. That its many opulent rooms are unimpressive probably isn’t one of them, but this TripAdvisor reviewer would beg to differ: “The building is impressive but inside less so,” the hall of mirrors being the one exception. Would I recommend this attraction. If you have never visited a royal residence with extensive grounds or are particularly interested in French royal history then yes. But if you have been to other sites such as those in Bavaria or Britain, then Versailles has nothing to add.”

6. “I FEEL LIKE IF I'M GONNA PAY $6 TO SUBJECT MYSELF TO AN EXTENDED DR PEPPER COMMERCIAL, I SHOULD AT LEAST GET A FREE DR PEPPER.”

Jimmy Emerson, DVM, Flickr // CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
It’s a bit of a stretch to call the Waco, Texas-based museum devoted to the history of Dr Pepper “an extended Dr Pepper commercial,” but this Yelp reviewer has a point about the free soda:
Just one can, that's all I'm asking.  Hell, when you get a free tour of the big breweries (Miller, Budweiser, etc.) you get several free beers (not to mention that those tours are also really interesting, which the Dr Pepper Museum is NOT).  I realize the Dr Pepper Museum isn't the same as a factory tour, and I wasn't really expecting it to be, but for $6 I expect more than a couple rooms full of old ads and bottles, you know?  To be precise, I expect a couple rooms full of old ads and bottles AND a free Dr Pepper.

7. “WOULD BE GREAT FOR A TRAVELLING ROADSHOW EXHIBIT.”

SnoShuu, Flickr //CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
Reading just a few Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews about museums will yield plenty of “it’s no Smithsonian” comments—but not even the Smithsonian is immune to lackluster reviews. Take, for example, this two-star review of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. “Not much going on here,” the author wrote. “Could be much better utilized. It's cool inside, though! It would be great for a travelling roadshow exhibit.”

8. “FREE BUT NOT ALL THAT.”

Alex Priomos, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
Meanwhile, this Yelp reviewer gave the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History three stars, writing it “was just ok. FREE but not all that,” before commenting on specific exhibits:
O. Orkin Insect Zoo - Not open, said a friend that works there. Bogus.
African Elephant - huge and just a big photo thing.
Dinosaur Hall - just ok
Hope Diamond - just ok.
OK! 

9. “BARELY AN EQUINE PORTRAIT IN SIGHT.”

Visitors to London’s National Gallery can check out paintings from all the greats, including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Vermeer, and Cezanne, among many others. But this TripAdvisor reviewer and horse enthusiast still wasn’t satisfied. “Piff ! (Full of pictures of dead people),” the author wrote. “Oh how my heart sank upon entry, barely an equine portrait in sight, not even red rum and aldaniti escaped me completely.”

10. “NEEDS REAL MONKEYS AND LESS AIRPLANES.”

Tim Evanson, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Animals went to the final frontier long before man did, which might be why this TripAdvisor reviewer expected to see monkeys at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, and went there instead of visiting a zoo. “I went to this expecting monkeys and I came short-handed,” he wrote. “There were only like one fake monkey. Unbelievable.”

11. “UNLESS YOU ARE A FAN OF VAN GOGH GIVE THIS A MISS.”


Zutaten, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND-2.0
Visitors to Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum—which houses the largest collection of the painter's works—can see classics like Sunflowers and The Bedroom and explore exhibits where modern artists respond to the painter. But after waiting in line for half an hour to get into the museum, this TripAdvisor reviewer was unimpressed. “Unless you are a fan of Van Gogh give this a miss,” the author wrote. “Van Gogh is ok if you like art that could have been done by a child.” It’s not entirely clear why someone who isn’t a Van Gogh fan would go to a Van Gogh museum, and it’s pretty hard to imagine a kid painting The Potato Eaters, but hey, you can’t win 'em all.

12. “IF YOU DON'T HAVE KIDS, AND DON'T PARTICULARLY ENJOY BEING JOSTLED BY HUNDREDS OF BABIES, TODDLERS, AND KINDERGARTNERS ... STAY FAR AWAY!”


Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism, Flickr // CC BY ND-2.0
Certainly, an overabundance of children has featured in many a Yelp or TripAdvisor complaint. But it’s a little odd to complain when the place being overrun with kids is … the Boston Children’s Museum. That didn’t stop this Yelp reviewer from bringing it up, though. “The place is teeming with cranky parents and whiny children and there seems to be no limit to the amount of people the museum will admit,” the author wrote. “Okay, I guess the exhibits are good, but I could not wait to get the hell out of that nightmare! Never again.”

13. “ONE OF THE WORST COLLECTIONS OF ‘ART’ I HAVE EVER SEEN—COULD HAVE DONE BETTER MYSELF.”

LWYang, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Paris’s Musee de l’Orangerie is home to some of Monet’s water lilies paintings (he painted as many as 250 canvases), which are beloved by most—but not this TripAdvisor reviewer, who found the paintings at l’Orangerie so unimpressive that she figured she could do a better job. “Not sure why the French rave about Monet's lilies (or most of the other paintings) and really didn't get why people were queueing to get in,” she wrote. “Would rather stick pins in my eyes than visit again.”

14. “A COLLECTION OF CRAP RIPPED OFF BY THIS RICH WOMAN AS SHE SCOURED THE WORLD.”

jess_melansonFlickr // CC BY 2.0
According to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum website, its namesake patron—who established the museum with a $1 million endowment upon her death in 1924—was a friend and supporter of artists, a fan of sports, and “the visionary creator of what remains one of the most remarkable and intimate collections of art in the world today.” But this Yelp reviewerdoesn’t think so highly of Gardner’s collection or the Boston-based museum named for her (which was also the site of one of the greatest unsolved art heists of all time). “OMG. What is everyone so excited about?” he wrote, continuing,
I found the museum to be dark, hot, congested, oppressive, more like the inside of a tacky second hand store than a serious museum. Particularly on the first floor every available slice of wall space was covered, in no understandable order, with a collection of crap ripped off by this rich woman as she scoured the world.  

15. “A VERY SAD LITTLE PLACE.”

California Academy of Sciences, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND-2.0
The California Academy of Sciences, located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, has a four-story rainforest, an aquarium and planetarium, a gorgeous green roof, and an albino alligator named Claude—something to delight and amaze nearly everyone. Unless you’re this TripAdvisor reviewer, who called the museum (sic throughout) “a trap for tourists visiting to san francisco. The planitorium was just ok. The rainforstwas a joke. And the earthquake simulation was not good enough.” Only the aquarium was cool enough for this reviewer, who noted that paying $35 just for that was a waste of money. And it wasn't even that cool anyway! “Montrey has a much much better acquirium, the author wrote. San francisco has so much to offer, i would easliy skip this place and the rest of SF.”
MF

Sparking Up

The maps show Spain has the highest number of cocaine users



Opiates such as heroin and morphine are used the most in north America



North America also has the most users of amphetamine-type stimulants



And Norway has the highest number of alcohol drinkers



More at Metro

Beautiful Blocks

It looks like Barbie’s dream house is coming down, one brick at a time. Denmark-based block maker LEGO unseated Mattel in 2014 to become the world’s top toy company. Their plastic building materials are omnipresent, ideal for teaching children how to think creatively while their barefooted parents learn how to swear creatively. Check out these 15 fully-connected facts about the beloved brand.

1. LEGO DIDN’T INVENT LEGO BRICKS.

When woodworker Ole Kirk Kristiansen started selling toys in Billund, Denmark in 1932—no one during the Great Depression was buying expensive furniture—he had no idea LEGO (fromthe Danish words Leg Godt, or “play well”) would become synonymous with click-lock blocks. When a salesman called on Kristiansen in 1949 and offered him a plastic mold injection machine to spare him the labor of handmade playthings, Kristiansen and his son, Godtfred, were intrigued by one of the samples he was carrying: a studded, interlocking brick.
Kristiansen began making his own, apparently unaware a man named Hilary Fisher Page owned the patent. (In 1958, LEGO perfected the brick with tubes on the bottom to help tighten the connection.) Page died before he discovered Kristiansen’s homage; LEGO has stated Kristiansen was “inspired” by Page. LEGO later bought his company, Kiddicraft.
That injection molding process means …

2. LEGO BRICKS START OFF AS DOUGH.

Not, unfortunately, the kind of dough you can eat. In order to get the acrylonitrile butadiene-styrene (ABS) plastic used for the bricks malleable enough to conform to molds, it’s heated to between 230 and 310 degrees Celsius and allowed to cool for up to 10 seconds before being released. The process is so streamlined that only an estimated 18 bricks out of every million are rejected for being misshapen. Not bad for an item that has an allowance of just .005 millimeters in order to maintain a universal fit. But if there is a problem, that’s all right because …

3. THE NUMBERS INSIDE EACH BRICK TELL A STORY.  

YouTube
Peer inside any LEGO brick and you’ll see a tiny three-digit number stamped on the interior wall. The number corresponds to which mold was used and where in the line the brick was located. If there’s any kind of defect, LEGO can trace the errant piece to its origin and resolve the issue. Then again, you’re probably not worried about a number when you’ve just tripped over one: Throbbing agony tends to block out all rational thought. It might help a little to know that …

4. THERE’S A GOOD REASON WHY STEPPING ON ONE HURTS.

LEGO bricks are possibly the toy world’s most durable Toy Hall of Fame entrant. A pair of inquisitive YouTube scientists built a repetitive motion machine and didn’t see any breakage on a typical 2x4 brick until 37,112 snaps had been completed. But such resistance comes at a terrible price. When you sink your bare foot into one—particularly on a hard surface—you simply don’t weigh enough to make it budge. A LEGO brick can take up to 950 pounds of force without blinking. It simply refuses to transmit any of your applied force, instead giving it right back to your delicate nerve endings underfoot.  
Since they’re everywhere, you’re bound to experience that trauma at least once in your lifetime, and they’re everywhere because …

5. THEY GIVE YOU EXTRA ON PURPOSE.

David Lofink, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
LEGO building sets are sometimes chastised for including seemingly unnecessary pieces that sit on the table after a pirate ship has been assembled. It turns out some pieces are simply too small to be weighed during the allocation process: creating a surplus guarantees everyone gets enough to complete their project. And if you do happen to buy a lot of LEGO vehicles, you might have no problem believing that …

6. THEY MAKE MORE TIRES THAN GOODYEAR.

LEGO pumps out so many elfin wheels for their sets (roughly 318 million a year) that they far exceed the total output of Goodyear, Firestone, or Michelin, whose products tote around, you know, actual human beings. The company notes that almost half of their sets include wheels, which you’ll never find on a military convoy unit kit because …

7. THEY WANT YOU TO PLAY NICE.

Pascal, Flickr // CC0 1.0
The company has vowed never to replicate any kind of military scenario for children. They went so far as to ban tiny guns from their Minifigures until 1999, when many licensed kits began featuring weapons in fantasy settings. The peacetime mandate was a big reason why …

8. THEY TURNED DOWN STAR WARS.

Robert McGoldrick, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
By the late 1990s, LEGO was in a tailspin, victimizing themselves by over-producing pieces and failing to control manufacturing expenses. To boost their profile, the board floated the idea of licensing a Star Wars set from Lucasfilm to coincide with the interest surrounding the release of George Lucas’s prequel trilogy in 1999. But longtime LEGO honchos protested the idea, feeling the very name violated their antiwar corporate principles. It took six months of arguing before Kristiansen’s grandson, Kjeld, made the executive decision to take on the license, opening the door to a library of sets (Harry Potter, Disney) that reversed their fortunes after a series of disasters like …

9. DOLLS.


No toy manufacturer has gotten more off-brand than LEGO did with Scala, a Barbie-esquedomestic assortment that barely interacted with their decades-old existing line of toys. Instead of utilizing standard bricks, Scala used pieces that would form a flower upon completion. In both size, appearance, and function, Scala could never hold a candle to the classic LEGO Minifigures. For one thing, the dolls weren’t yellow, and …

10. THE MINIFIGURES ARE YELLOW FOR A REASON.

Chris Isherwood, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
When LEGO introduced the Minifigure in 1975, it was a boxy, faceless entity meant to accept whatever role-play fantasy a builder might want to project. While the figures later garnered faces and gender roles, they have almost always remained yellow. According to LEGO, that’s because the company felt it was the most racially-neutral color possible. After LEGO branched out into licensing, it began to see its first diverse entries with NBA players. Currently, LEGO assigns skin tone only if a set is based on an existing property or person. Otherwise, they’re always yellow. And there’s another constant …

11. THEIR TINY HEADS ARE EMPTY ON PURPOSE.

Pop the head off a Minifig and separate it from its hair and you’ll notice the miniscule noggin has holes on either side. That’s in case a child happens to swallow it. By providing airflow through the plastic, they’re less likely to choke. But for the figure, the lack of brains might be one reason why …

12. THE MINIFIGS ARE GETTING ANGRIER.

Chris Jackson, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
study conducted at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand examined over 3000 LEGO figures made between 1975 and 2010. The conclusion? Their facial expressions were morphing from pleasant to scowling. Pundits figured the change was a result of more licensed characters being introduced into the line. Christoph Bartneck, who led the study, expressed concern that the change in mood might adversely affect children. For a long time, however, LEGO rejected the very idea of any adult scrutinizing their products, because …

13. THEY USED TO THINK ADULT FANS WERE “WEIRD.”

Adult LEGO builders are among the company’s most loyal customers, clearing out expensive building sets and buying bricks in bulk for elaborate custom jobs. Known as AFOLs (Adults Fans of LEGO), the demographic wasn’t always embraced by management. After retailers criticized LEGO for not paying attention to their market, the company responded by calling adults who played with their product “weird” and “a bit bizarre,” dismissing the wacky idea of listening to their needs. Since then, corporate has changed its tune; LEGO and its adult fandom engage each other regularly now. They’ve even gone so far as to allow you to …

14. PITCH YOUR OWN LEGO SET. GO ON. THEY’LL LISTEN.

LEGO’s social media presence allows for members of the LEGO community to come up withideas for assemblies. You think people want a Golden Girls set? Throw it on up there. Using existing bricks, petitioners can illustrate their plans. If it gets 10,000 votes, it’ll go to LEGO proper, where someone will sit down, figure out the cost of licensing Estelle Getty’s likeness, and decide whether to grant you a royalty or have you committed. Either way, you probably haven’t come up with anything as absurd as …

15. THIS HOUSE MADE ALMOST ENTIRELY OF LEGO BRICKS.


Using more than three million bricks, and many hours of volunteer labor, Top Gear host James May and the BBC built a mostly-functional (if architecturally pedestrian) home for May’s television series, Toy Stories, in 2009. It even featured a flushable toilet, the comfort of which we’ll leave to your imagination. Unfortunately, the Surrey, England site it was built on was a vineyard, and the property owners hadn’t counted on the LEGO shelter staying up. When May didn’t come up with the $81,000 in costs to have the home moved and re-built on LEGOLAND theme park property, it was smashed to LEGO rubble just days after completion. The pieces were donated to children’s charities.
MF