No ‘Joshing’: Armed with pool noodles, hundreds battle to be rightful owner of the name ‘Josh’

May 26, 2022

At the peak of pandemic boredom, an absurd idea popped into Josh Swain’s head.

The 22-year-old University of Arizona student was in the midst of a Zoom lecture last April, “staring into the abyss,” he said, when he spontaneously decided to start a Facebook group with a bunch of strangers who share the same name, reports The Washington Post.

“You’re probably wondering why I’ve gathered you all here today,” he wrote to nine fellow Josh Swains. One person promptly responded by stating the obvious: “Because we all share the same names?”

Swain replied with an unusual request: “Precisely, 4/24/2021, josh, meet at these coordinates (40.82223286, -96.7982002),” he wrote. “We fight, whoever wins gets to keep the name, everyone else has to change their name, you have a year to prepare, good luck.”

The Facebook message was purely intended as a joke, Swain said, but to his astonishment, his name twins—and thousands of others on the Internet—didn’t think he was just joshing. They actually took his request somewhat seriously.

Indeed, one year after he sent the original message—on April 24, the exact date specified—hundreds of people gathered at a field in Lincoln, Nebraska, near the random coordinates Swain picked out, both to spectate and participate in what later became known as “Josh

“When I first made the post, I thought zero people would actually show up,” Swain said. He was mistaken.

He originally shared screenshots of his Facebook message on Twitter a year ago, with the caption, “there can only be one.” It went viral, garnering thousands of shares and likes across multiple social media platforms. Some strangers took things a step further, starting a number of Josh Swain Reddit pages, which feature countless memes.

“It was so weird when it blew up,” Swain said. Eventually, though, the buzz died down, and he assumed that was the end of the “Josh Fight.”

But the name battle, he soon learned, had yet to truly begin. Two months ago, out of nowhere, “people started to remember,” Swain said. Panic set in after he spotted a post online of someone outlining plans to drive across the country for the event.

Swain’s reaction: “Sorry, what?!”

Not only did his original post suddenly resurface, but the mock event somehow evolved from only being intended for Josh Swains, to an all-out Josh battle —sans surnames.

According to data from the U.S. Social Security Administration, the name Joshua is the 21st-most-popular name for men. Naturally, Joshes from every part of the country who saw Swain’s original message got amped up for the battle.

“I never intended to follow through with the fight,” said Swain, who studies civil engineering and is graduating in May.

Things got serious when someone created a dedicated website with a countdown. Swain decided he had no choice but to book a flight from Phoenix to Lincoln for the event.

 It got to a point where he knew “people were going to show up, regardless of whether I was there or not,” he said. Given that he inadvertently started the viral, unplanned event, he felt compelled to help control it.

So he took the reins, and in the week leading up to April 24, he hashed out some details. Swain started by contacting the Lincoln Police Department to notify them of the event, and enlisted local help to scout out an appropriate location, because it turned out the original coordinates are actually on someone’s private property.

He also decided to use the occasion to collect money for a good cause, he said. Swain started a fundraiser —which has raised nearly $12,000—for the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Foundation in Omaha.

“I thought it would be a good way to give back, and I think everybody can get behind children’s health care,” said Swain, who also encouraged attendees to bring nonperishable food for the Lincoln Food Bank.

Finally, he laid out some ground rules in a Reddit post, under the username “ACTUAL JOSH.”

Mainly he emphasized that “there will be no physical violence,” writing: “Joshs, I am calling on you to uphold the honor that the name possesses and to be good stewards of this event.” He went on to outline the rules for what he called a “Pool Noodle Battle Royale,” which only people with the first name Josh would be permitted to participate in. He also urged everyone to wear masks. Then, after much anticipation, it was finally time for Josh Fight—also known as the Josh

By noon on the designated date, the field was flooded with hundreds of Joshes and their supporters. “There was upward of 1,000 people,” Swain estimated, adding that attendees ranged in age from 4 to about 40, and some arrived from WashingtonSstate, Florida, New Jersey, Kentucky, Texas and elsewhere across the country.

A sea of people named Josh wielding colorful foam pool noodles dueled for more than 10 minutes, until finally there was only one Josh standing: four-year-old Joshua Vinson Jr., from Lincoln.

Once it was clear that he was the victor, “I ran over with the megaphone, and I was like, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, this is your champion,’” Swain said. “It was this incredible moment.”

The crowd cheered as the boy—whom everyone called Little Josh—was hoisted into the air wearing an oversize Burger King crown and clutching his weapon, a red pool noodle.

His father, Joshua Vinson Sr., said it was something his son will never forget.

“We had a blast. Little Josh came out victorious,” Vinson Sr., who stumbled upon the event on Facebook, said. “He got hit a couple times, but he didn’t go down.”

“It’s been a hard year, and I think everybody needed something like this. It was such a wholesome event, there’s nothing negative about it,” Swain said. “That’s what made it so spectacular.”

“We’ll see what happens,” he continued. “We might have to make it an annual thing.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

A pox on you: What is monkeypox?

May 23, 2022

An extremely rare disease called monkeypox, a cousin of smallpox, has again made its way to the United States. A case of monkeypox was reported on Wednesday, May 18, in a patient hospitalized in Massachusetts who had recently traveled to Canada using private transportation, reports CNN.

In 2021, two people traveling from Nigeria to the United States were diagnosed with the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Monkeypox is mostly found in West and Central Africa; but additional cases have been seen in Europe, including the United Kingdom, and other parts of the world in recent years. Those cases are typically linked to international travel or imported animals infected with the pox, the CDC said.

On Thursday, CNN reports:

  • Spain confirmed seven cases of monkeypox in Madrid and authorities are investigating another 22;
  • Italy confirmed its first case; and
  • Canadian public health officials announced they are investigating 17 suspected cases of monkeypox in Montreal.

Several cases of monkeypox in the U.K. among people who have no known travel or contact with others who are carrying the virus have health officials there and at the CDC concerned—but there is no cause for alarm, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said Thursday on CNN’s “New Day.”

“At this time, we don’t want people to worry,” Murthy said. “These numbers are still small; we want them to be aware of (the) symptoms and, if they have any concerns, to reach out to their doctor.”

What are the initial symptoms of monkeypox? There is an incubation period of some seven to 14 days, the CDC said. Initial symptoms are typically flu-like, such as fever, chills, exhaustion, headache and muscle weakness, followed by swelling in the lymph nodes, which help the body fight infection and disease.

“A feature that distinguishes infection with monkeypox from that of smallpox is the development of swollen lymph nodes,” the CDC said.

Next comes a widespread rash on the face and body, including inside the mouth and on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

The painful, raised poxes are pearly and fluid-filled, often surrounded by red circles. The lesions finally scab over and resolve over a period of two to three weeks, the CDC said.

“Treatment is generally supportive as there are no specific drugs available. However, a vaccine is available that can be given to prevent the development of disease,” Jimmy Whitworth, professor of International Public Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said in a statement.

Close contact with an infected individual is required for the spread of the monkeypox virus, experts say.

Research contact: @CNN

Artist pays tribute to musicians we’ve lost with colorful light paintings of skeleton bands

May 20, 2022

Artist Darren Pearson of Dariustwin—a Southern California-based light painting and media company—is pioneering the art form known as light painting. He uses a long-exposure photography technique where the camera’s shutter is left open to capture the light trails made by an LED light “painting” in the air, like a brush on a canvas, reports My Modern Met.

These photos can only be created at night or in a darkened room and are unique in the sense that the captured images as we see them only ever exist in the camera. Not even the artist gets to see the image until he or she finishes painting and decide to close the shutter.

One of Pearson’s recent series, called Ghost Bands, depicts neon skeleton musicians in various poses—some playing instruments, some clapping or dancing, in vast landscapes against the backdrop of a starry night sky. The series was inspired by music and by the passing of so many influential musicians over the past decade.

“In a way, this was a mourning process as well as a light painting challenge,” Pearson says. “Music is a huge part of my life and I wanted to pay homage to it.”

Location is extremely important to the paintings—common settings include the wide open spaces of desert, stretches of beach, and clearings in wooded areas.

“Locations give my light characters a home to live within the image,” Pearson tells My Modern Met. “It serves the overall vibe and can let the characters interact with their surroundings.”

Although light painting requires a camera, it has more in common with traditional painting than digital photography, when it comes to creating the piece. Since the camera picks up each light streak, one wayward line could ruin the intended effect.

“I like to think, ‘one try, do or die,’ every time I create an image,” Pearson explains, “because it’s the antithesis of nothing matters. Everything matters when light painting!”

For the skeleton paintings, he uses his own body as a reference for the placement and proportions of the characters. And when he knows he’s made a mistake, Pearson stops the exposure and tries again from the beginning. Typically, each light painting takes between one to six minutes, depending on the characters and complexity of the scene—but, as the artist tells us, “the process takes as long as it needs to.”

He takes two photos for every composite final image—one for the painting and another for the background, bearing in mind where the stars look best. After taking the photos, he combines them in Photoshop to create the final image

For Pearson, the most exciting and fulfilling part of the process is seeing what is captured in the back of the camera screen after closing the shutter. “It is this moment when I see whether or not I’ve captured an image worth sharing. It’s a special feeling that I chase every time I go out on a light painting mission.”

Research contact: @mymodernmet

Dog sneaks into couple’s home during storm and snuggles her way into their bed

May 19, 2022

It could have been that a door was left ajar, or maybe a window. Julie Johnson from Tennessee isn’t sure; all she knows is that somehow, someway—a stranger was able to freely enter her house one night.

 This stranger however wasn’t trying to steal, but only to snuggle. A brown bull terrier with a golden heart and silent feet crept into the Johnsons’ house, jumped right into bed next to Julie and her husband Jimmy—and went to sleep, head on the pillows, reports Good News Network.

 “You could see light coming into our curtains in our bedroom and I feel my husband not just roll over—but kind of startled, like almost a jump roll over, and it woke me up,” Julie told NPR this week. “And in a quiet but stern voice, he said, ‘Julie, whose dog is this?’”

Despite the startle, in such a situation; it didn’t take long for Jimmy and Julie to realize the intruder meant them no harm, and was just “100% content being there.”

 How Nala the dog managed to enter their house without disturbing or garnering the attention of Jupiter, Hollis, and Zeppelin, the three dogs who normally sleep alongside the couple, the Johnsons will never know, and it must have made for an interesting chit-chat over morning coffee.

 Julie took to Facebook to see if she could locate the dog’s owners, posting a variety of selfies she took with the pup. Not long after, Nala’s owners contacted them to explain she had slipped out of her collar on a walk the day before just ahead of a serious thunderstorm.

She had escaped into the woods, and between the four dog parents, the working theory arose that Nala had entered the Johnsons’ house out of fear of the thunder and lighting.

“Our overly friendly pup, Nala, has hit an all-time record for ignoring personal space and added yet another trick to her long list of Houdini acts,” Cris Hawkins, one of Nala’s owners, wrote on Facebook.

“Shame [on] Nala for somehow breaking into a stranger’s house and invading their personal space. Thankfully, the couple thought it was hilarious and they aren’t even mad about it.”

Since the incident, the four pooches have had playdate in the park, celebrating their new, and entirely accidental friendship.

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

From the toxic culture that gave us mansplaining, here comes …‘hepeating’

May 18, 2022

Have you ever noticed how some men make a habit of repeating what women say—and taking all the credit for it? There’s a word for that: “hepeating,” reports The Guardian.

The hepeat is just the latest in the expanding list of terms for sexist male behavior, a glossary that began with mansplaining. It’s the term used when a woman suggests an idea—often in a meeting—and it’s ignored, but then a guy says the same exact thing and everyone loves it.

How is the new term used in a typical conversation? “Ugh! I got hepeated in that meeting again,” or “He totally hepeated me!”

And it’s caught on.  The concept was immediately recognized. U.S. physics professor and astronomer Nicole Gugliucciv’s original tweet proposing the term, posted back in September 2017, got 185k likes and 58.8k retweets. And they weren’t all “shetweets.” Men liked it, too.

The Oxford English Dictionary hasn’t included it. Yet. But the term has just been introduced into an internal handbook for the staff of the U.K.-based exam regulator Ofqual, where hepeating is described as “a situation where a man repeats a woman’s comments or ideas and then is praised for them as if they were his own”.

It has been rejected in some quarters, though: The (male) historian Jeremy Black is not a massive fan of the term. It’s an “ugly new made-up word that’s foolish and devoid of meaning”, he told the Mail on Sunday. He went on to say that it “should play no role in educational advice”.

So who does think it’s an actual term, then?  Any woman who has been in a meeting, or at work—or indeed anywhere with men.

Research contact: @guardian

Prince Charles to come face to face with ‘woolly doppelganger’ on royal tour

May 17, 2022

The Prince of Wales is set to be greeted by a sheepish figure when he arrives in Canada today, on May 17: his own “woolly doppelgänger,” reports CTV News.

Prince Charles will be introduced to a life-size, hand-needle-felted bust of his own visage as he meets with Canadian wool enthusiasts in St. John’s, Newfoundland, at one of the first stops on his three-day cross-country tour alongside his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.

But the CEO of the Campaign for Wool in Canada says that’s not even the “pièce de résistance” of the prince’s woolly welcome.

Matthew Rowe says the non-profit industry association will also present its royal patron with a wool sculpture of his mother, the Queen.

Manitoban artist Rosemarie Péloquin says she spent hundreds of hours on each of the busts, using a barbed needle to sculpt the fine details of the royals’ faces.

Péloquin says she feels like she got to know the prince over the course of his wool double’s creation, and she’s excited to see his real-life counterpart’s face when the two meet.

Research contact: @CTVNews

Study: People raised in suburban or rural areas have a better sense of direction than city-dwellers

May 16, 2022

People who grew up in the countryside have a better sense of direction than city dwellers, according to a new study. European researchers have found that, on average, people raised in rural areas have stronger navigational skills than those who grew up in large towns or cities, reports Brain Tomorrow.

 

The pioneering international study used a video game called Sea Hero Quest developed to study Alzheimer’s disease. The game features a wayfinding task, requiring users to navigate a boat through a virtual environment to find checkpoints shown on a map.

 

Nearly 400,000 participants in 38 countries took part in the experiment. The research team—from University College London (UCL); the University of East Anglia (UEA), also in England; and the University of Lyon in France—says that people are better at navigating great distances if they come from rural areas.

 

  They also have found that people whose home city had a grid layout, such as New York or Chicago, are slightly better at navigating similarly organized street patterns, despite having poorer performance overallv. Authors say that early childhood environments influence not only navigation ability, but navigation styles as well.

 

“We found that growing up outside of cities appears to be good for the development of navigational abilities, and this seems to be influenced by the lack of complexity of many street networks in cities,” says lead researcher Hugo Spiers, a professor in Psychology & Language Sciences at UCL, in a statement.

 

“In our recent research, we have found that people’s spatial navigation skills decline with age, starting in early adulthood,” he continues. “Here, we found that people who grew up in areas with gridded streets can have comparable navigation skills to people five years their senior from rural areas—and in some areas the difference was even greater.”

 

Results show that where people grew up influenced their performance in Sea Hero Quest. That’s even after controlling for confounding effects of age, gender, and education levels. Their current place of residence did not affect their scores either.

 

The team compared the home cities of the study participants by analyzing the entropy—or disorder—of the street networks, to gauge the complexity and randomness of the layouts. To test if people from cities could more effectively navigate

environments comparable to where they grew up, the researchers developed a city-themed version of Sea Hero Quest. Called “City Hero Quest,” it requires participants to drive around city streets in a virtual environment that varied from simple grids to more winding street layouts.

 

People who grew up in cities with grid layouts were slightly better at navigating similar environments, although the difference was not as great as their inferior performance in Sea Hero Quest.

 

“Growing up somewhere with a more complex layout of roads or paths might help with navigational skills as it requires keeping track of direction when you’re more likely to be making multiple turns at different angles, while you might also need to remember more streets and landmarks for each journey,” says co-lead author Dr. Antoine Coutrot, of the University of Lyon.

 

The Sea Hero Quest project was designed to aid Alzheimer’s research, by shedding light on differences in spatial navigational abilities. More than 4 million people have played the game, contributing to numerous studies across the project as a whole.

 

“Spatial navigation deficits are a key Alzheimer’s symptom in the early stages of the disease,” explains joint senior author Michael Hornberger, a dementia researcher at UEA. “We are seeking to use the knowledge we have gained from Sea Hero Quest to develop better disease monitoring tools, such as for diagnostics or to track drug trial outcomes. Establishing how good you would expect someone’s navigational to be based on characteristics such as age, education, and where they grew up, is essential to test for signs of decline.”

 

The scientists are continuing their research into predictors of navigational ability, including how sleep impacts navigational skills in different countries.

 

The study has been published in the journal, Nature.

 

Research contact: @braintomorrow

Follow the yellow brick road: Have scientists found an undersea path to the lost city of Atlantis?

May 12, 2022

Not every road leads to Rome. Some paths appear to be headed to the very heart of the ocean—like the one recently spotted by scientists in the Pacific, which they dubbed the “road to Atlantis,” reports the New York Post.

Late last month, oceanographers aboard the E/V Nautilus vessel were out exploring the floor of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument—a submarine range of volcanic mountains off the coast of Hawaii—when they came across what looked like a well-preserved brick road on the ocean floor.

On April 29, the researchers were amazed to see such a structure 3,376 feet underwater, near the top of Nootka Seamount. The discovery, as part of the Luʻuaeaahikiikekumu expedition, was captured on video during the group’s 24/7 livestream on YouTube.

“It’s the road to Atlantis,” one scientist is heard saying in the background of the footage.

“That’s a really unique structure,” another added.

“This is the yellow brick road,” a third researcher chimed.

“Are you kidding me? This is crazy,” an additional voice exclaimed.

Only about 3% of the 583,000 square miles within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument area has been recorded, although its peaks are known to rise over 16,000 feet from the seabed and summit just 200 feet below the surface of the water.

If the lost city of Atlantis were real, it would have fallen near the Strait of Gibraltar in the Mediterranean, according to Plato’s writings. Indeed, the legend of Atlantis dates back to Plato’s “Dialogues,  written about 360 B.C.—the first of all records of the lost city in history.

In the philosopher’s tale, the city was a metaphor for the corruption of power, wealth, and industry. In other words, it was created strictly as a plot device—and not the stuff of prehistoric folklore. Moreover, there isn’t a trace of archaeologic or geologic evidence that a sunken city ever existed.

However, the scientists now believe, “What may look like a ‘yellow brick road’ to the mythical city of Atlantis is really an example of ancient active volcanic geology.”

What the team actually had seen was later identified as hyaloclastite, “a volcanic rock formed in high-energy eruptions where many rock fragments settle to the seabed,” they explained, while the “unique 90-degree fractures” that made it look like stone laid for a road are likely a result of “heating and cooling stress from multiple eruptions.”

The current mission, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, set out to obtain a deeper understanding of how the northwestern Hawaiian Islands were formed.

Research contact: @nypost

Creepy dolls wash ashore on Texas coast

May 11, 2022

Creepy, nightmarish-looking dolls—sometimes covered in barnacles that grow out of their eyes—are washing up along Texas shorelines, according to researchers who survey the area for sea life, reports Fox News.

Where the dolls came from is a mystery, but the Mission-Aransas Reserve has been collecting the scary figures as they find them along a 40-mile stretch of coastline, Jace Tunnell, director of the reserve at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Often, Fox says, researchers are surveying the coast for sea turtles and other marine mammals when they encounter the dolls on the beach.

“We’re actually doing scientific work, but the dolls are a perk,” Tunnell told McClatchy News last week.

Researchers comb the coastline—from North Padre Island up to Matagorda—twice per week, collecting debris of all kinds, including junk, in the process. “You never know what you’re going to find washing in. About twice a month we find these crazy-looking dolls that are washing in,” Tunnell said.

So far, the Reserve has collected about 30 dolls, Tunnell said in a Facebook video in October. Some are missing arms or legs—and others have algae growing inside the eyes and mouth as well as barnacles. Some have clearly been chewed on.

An image of each one gets posted on the group’s Facebook page, which has generated a substantial following since.

The first figure discovered by researchers was a sex doll. When Tunnell posted the image online, someone bought its head for $35, he said. The funds were donated to a sea turtle program.

Tunnel sells the dolls at a yearly fundraising auction. He’s not sure what the people who purchase the dolls do with them, he said.

“There’s a lot of nightmares out there,” he told the newspaper, referring to the debris.

Research contact: @FoxNews