Scientists Solve 30,000-Year-Old ‘Venus’ Statue Mystery, Study Says

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Scientists Solve 30,000-Year-Old ‘Venus’ Statue Mystery, Study Says

Cats Actually Know Each Other's Names, Study Suggests

Cats were confused by humans calling their feline friends names that didn’t match, in a study of 48 kitties out of Japan.
May 16, 2022, 3:23pm
Two cats snuggling on a blanket.
Garp and Calliope, who definitely know their names but choose to ignore them. Author photo

Scientists at Kyoto University found that cats living with other feline friends can recognize their own and each others’ names, and possibly even familiar humans’ names.

Published last month in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports, the study examined 48 cats who either lived in households with at least three other cats, or were from “cat cafes” where they cohabitated with lots of other felines. To test their name recognition, the researchers showed each cat a computer monitor displaying a familiar cat’s face, and an audio recording of their owner calling either the displayed cats’ real name, or a name that didn’t match the cat on the screen.


When they heard names that didn’t match the individual shown, cats from households with few feline roomies spent more time staring at the screen, supposedly puzzled. If the name matched the face, they stared less.   

"Only household cats anticipated a specific cat face upon hearing the cat's name, suggesting that they matched the stimulus cat's name and the specific individual," the researchers wrote. They theorize in the paper that this might be food-motivated behavior; they learn that when one cat is called, that one gets food.

Animal science researcher Saho Takagi told Japanese news outlet The Asahi Shimbun that the findings are “astonishing.” Even though cats seem to ignore people calling their names because they don’t understand us, it turns out they’re probably just being rude. "I want people to know the truth. Felines do not appear to listen to people's conversations, but as a matter of fact, they do," Takagi said.

The researchers tried a similar test with human faces instead of cats, but those results were less clear. They did find, however, that cats from households with more humans living with them showed more hesitance when the wrong name was called—possibly because those cats hear people addressing each other by name more often. 

“Our interpretation is that cats living with more people have more opportunities to hear names being used than cats living with fewer people, and that living with a family for a longer time increases this experience,” they wrote. “In other words, the frequency and number of exposure to the stimuli may make the name–face association more likely.” 

Cat behavior and learning is an ongoing area of study for researchers; in 2020, one study showed that cats can learn behaviors by watching what humans do, and in 2019, a study found that cats are less aloof than they’re stereotyped to be.

All of this is either charming or jarring information for cat owners, depending on the names you call your semi-domesticated demons when no one else is around. For example, on paper, our cats’ names are Calliope and Garp, but based on this study, they most likely know each other as “Just a Muffin!” and “Mister Shit.” 


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Piracy Icon LimeWire Is Coming Back, But As an NFT Marketplace

You're going to hate this.
March 9, 2022, 6:50pm
​LimeWire logo
LimeWire logo

To many old millennials, the file sharing website LimeWire and its bright lime-slice logo are instantly recognizable symbols of early-aughts internet, when pirating everything was a badge of pride (we would download a car) and stealing a .mp3 of “Welcome to the Black Parade” took four hours and gave your family computer several new viruses. 

LimeWire as we knew it shut down in 2010, after a judge ruled that LimeWire’s creator, Mark Gorton, on charges of copyright infringement and helping others infringe artists’ copyrights. But here in 2022, LimeWire is back—as an NFT marketplace. 


The revived LimeWire has little to do with the original software, beyond its branding. Austrian brothers Julian and Paul Zehetmayr bought the intellectual property rights to LimeWire in 2021, and now plan to launch a platform in May that will let people buy and sell songs as NFTs, as well as merchandise and behind the scenes concert content. It’s currently in the waitlist stage.

“The issue with the NFT market is that most platforms are decentralized,” Julian told CNBC. “If you look at bitcoin, all the exchanges are making it really easy to buy, trade and sell bitcoin. There’s no one really doing the same in the NFT space.”

The LimeWire platform will reportedly show U.S. dollar prices for everything for sale in order to be appealing to mainstream audiences, but users will be able to transact in crypto as well as fiat money. The management teams for H.E.R. and the Wu-Tang Clan are on the advisory board.

“We’ve obviously got this great mainstream brand that everybody’s nostalgic about,” Julian said to CNBC. Nostalgia capitalists seem drawn to NFTs as a way to ride some old feel-good sentiment back into relevance, through the highly controversial new medium, which is widely hated and filled with hacks and scams. In December, viral CGI creation Crazy Frog jumped into NFTs and got so much hate mail that the social media team had to beg people to stop. In November, ambient musician Yanni launched his NFT project, and the band Limp Bizkit, which coincidentally probably got a ton of LimeWire downloads, has its own NFT collection. 

Somewhat incredibly, LimeWire is the second legacy piracy institution to be turned towards crypto. In 2018, Justin Sun, founder of the Tron cryptocurrency, purchased BitTorrent. Soon after, the company released its own cryptocurrency


Reality Star Sells Fart Jar NFTs After Flatulence Hospitalizes Her

Stephanie Matto's fart jar NFTs are 0.05 ETH, or about $200 each.
January 5, 2022, 7:08pm
​Image via Stephanie Matto on Instagram
Image via Stephanie Matto on Instagram

Stephanie Matto, a former 90 Day Fiance contestant and adult content creator, has had a whirlwind few weeks. 

After a heart attack scare (really, gas problems due to her fart-inducing diet) and the urging of doctors, she’s been forced to step back from her business of selling custom farts in jars. Undeterred, she’s pivoting to selling them as NFTs—digital art on the blockchain—instead.


Matto has been on the fart jar grind for a while, based on her social media posts. “I like to get things rolling with some beans, a protein muffin, sometimes a yogurt... some hard boiled eggs... While I wait for those farts to develop I like to read,” she said in a “day in the life” video on Instagram in November. At the time, she was selling fart jars (plus flower petals and a hand-written note) for $1,000, on sale for 50 percent off. She also thanks the 97 people who’d already bought fart jars at that point. 

In a YouTube video posted last month, she claimed to have made $100,000 from her flatulence business. “I feel like I’m the Einstein of fart jars at this point,” she says.  

Farting as a fetish has been around forever—everyone’s heard of James Joyce’s love of his wife Nora’s “big fat fellows, long windy ones, quick little merry cracks” from his 1909 love letter to her—and has only gained steam in recent years, with the rise of the content creator economy. Anything you can package or bottle and put in the mail is fair game for fetish performers, including the classic worn panties, but also pussy-scented face masks or, of course, gamer girl bath water


Some fart porn creators fake their performances with sound effects, pre-recorded farts, or air-enemas, so they don’t have to eat endless hard boiled eggs to keep up with the demands of customers. Matto, apparently, was doing this the hard way, curating each gas-inducing meal to produce a custom bouquet for every customer and turning her body into a high-volume fart factory.  That’s good customer service for sure, but it’s also a quick way to misery; as demand for the jars increased, she said on YouTube, it started getting harder to get those farts out the door, which is how she ended up in the hospital with chest pains.

“I could tell that something was not right that evening when I was lying in bed and I could feel a pressure in my stomach moving upward. It was quite hard to breathe, and every time I tried to breathe in, I’d feel a pinching sensation around my heart,” Matto told UK news outlet Jam Press. Nothing was wrong with her heart, doctors told her, but the high-bean and protein shake diet was to blame; they advised that she take a gas suppressant medication and lay off the boiled eggs, which she said “effectively ended my business.” 

Now, her fart jars are available in JPEG form tied to a blockchain receipt, for 0.05 ETH, or about $200, each. “Imagine the smell!” the website says. “These NFTs are just as beautiful, unique, and rare as my actual poots! You can practically smell how delightful they are through the screen. Just use your imagination!” The first run includes 5,000 NFTs, which means Matto could net $1 million if they all sell out. 

She hasn’t completely abandoned the gassy life, either: 100 tokens will be redeemable for a real fart jar, according to the site. 70 NFTs will get you panties worn by Matto, 30 will get you used lingerie, and 10 NFTs are redeemable for jars that she has queefed in. NFT holders can also access perks like a private Discord channel or meeting Matto over Zoom. 

The project has a public Discord that has already gained 3,000 members. Refreshingly, it doesn’t promise a future video game or “metaverse” like many NFT projects. “The FART JAR project has no roadmap,” the website states. “The tokens have clear and obvious utility, if you have a rare 'redeemable trait' the token can be burned for real life collectibles and the utility for the token will be access to a private discord channel with reality TV star and internet sensation Stephanie Matto.”

She’s not the first to lay a fart on the blockchain: In March, Brooklyn-based film director Alex Ramírez-Mallis and four of his friends listed a year worth of their recorded farts as NFTs. Everyone and their mom has gotten on the NFT hype train in recent months, including Quentin Tarantino, Yanni, and Crazy Frog, but people in the adult industry have found success with NFTs as an alternative to traditional payment processors and platforms. The ownership and option for earning royalties when their art sells is one perk; a backlog of financial cushion if they get sick—or eat way, way too many beans—and have to take a break from making content is another.

It’s worth noting that Mattos’ fart jar NFTs are running on Ethereum, which means it’s going to cost buyers a lot of gas. 


‘Fantázomai!’ Yanni Announces NFT Collection

The artist best known for 'Live at the Acropolis' and new-agey beats is releasing a collection of non-fungible tokens.
November 22, 2021, 6:59pm
Yanni's face close up.
Screenshot via YouTube

The new-age Greek artist Yanni, most famous for shredding it on multiple keyboards with a backup band of didgeridoos, Armenian duduks, harps and giant sticks, is releasing his own NFT collection and “community.” 

Yanni has always existed in a metaverse of his own making, where lyricless global-fusion concerts played on PBS are the height of musical freedom. His NFT collection website brings the same vibe, promising Yanni’s own art and photography, plus membership to a new network called “Fantázomai” (Greek for “I Imagine”), where “collectors and fans alike can build memories that form bonds over time.” As for what that will actually look like, the website states that “dynamic social media features like personalized videos will create a long-lasting community around Yanni’s unique digital media, newly discovered art assets and one of a kind collectibles that will be available for acquisition.” The visual representation of the key to that community looks like a big rotating office keycard you’d put on a lanyard. 


The collection and Fantázomai haven’t yet been released, and there’s no hint as to when they will be. 

The best part of Yanni’s NFT collection website, as spotted by Claire Evans, is that you can click the word “fantázomai” and a voice that sounds a lot like Yanni himself reads it aloud in that buttery voice of his:    

There’s something that makes sense about Yanni, an icon of 1990s aesthetic—the flowing hair, the mustache, the blissed-out smile—jumping into NFTs, part of a typically hyper-posi techno utopian community built around concepts with questionable stability that most people don’t fully understand yet. When Yanni’s work took off in the early 1990s, people were still talking about the internet as something that might not stick around. Yet here we are, and here is Yanni, putting stuff on the blockchain. 

Everyone is getting into NFTs these days, including Nazis, scammers, and Ron Watkins of QAnon fame—but also artists, sex workers, indie musicians and marginalized communities. As they’ve gained popularity, NFTs have gotten really normie, really fast: Quentin Tarantino is trying to mint a collection (and getting sued in the process), Limp Bizkit plans to, and Ellen Degeneres and John Cena have their own, too. Every day we inch closer to getting a George W. Bush painting NFT collection, if the planet doesn’t burn first.

Anyway. Fantázomai! 


Scientists Solve 30,000-Year-Old ‘Venus’ Statue Mystery, Study Says

The famous Venus of Willendorf came from a faraway place in a process that may have begun 31,000 years ago.
March 1, 2022, 2:00pm
The famous
Venus of Willendorf. Image: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen 

The Venus of Willendorf, a figurine of a voluptuous woman that dates back roughly 30,000 years, is one of the most enchanting and unique artifacts ever unearthed. Standing about four inches tall and carved from distinctive oolite limestone, this ancient object was discovered more than a century ago near the shores of the Danube river in Willendorf, Austria, though her true birthplace has remained a mystery—until now.


Researchers led by Gerhard Weber, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Vienna, believe they have matched the figurine’s limestone with a location near Lake Garda in northern Italy, revealing the likely origin of “one of the most famous signs of early modern human symbolic behavior,” according to a study published on Monday in Scientific Reports

The new research suggests that the crafters of this iconic object, a hunter-gatherer culture known as the Gravettian people, traveled hundreds of miles across the treacherous landscape of Europe before the last ice age, though the team noted that it’s unclear what might have prompted such a journey. 

“The exact time when the Venus was created or its material collected and transported is unknown,” Weber and his colleagues said in the study. “However, independent of the location of origin, we can state with certainty that its individual owners kept and protected it en route.” 

“A rapid transport from northern Italy to Lower Austria within months would probably have been technically possible, but would rather require a purposeful motivation behind the journey, which seems questionable,” the researchers added. “The travel of the Venus or its material from northern Italy to the Danube is more likely the outcome of a series of undirected incidents which may have required years or even generations” and that “could have started as early as  31,000 years ago.”


Similar buxom figurines, which are reminiscent of fertility goddesses and are normally made of ivory and bone, are plentiful in the prehistoric archaeological record across Europe. The Venus of Willendorf, however, stands out as the only such figurine to be made of oolite, which is a sedimentary limestone made up of spherical grains of different sizes. Because the oolite doesn’t seem to match rock deposits near Willendorf, the origin of the Venus has remained an open question, in part because its exceptional nature has prevented invasive techniques that might answer this riddle but would leave the object damaged.  

In order to track down the figurine’s home while preserving its integrity, Weber and his colleagues scanned the Venus with advanced tomography that enabled them to pinpoint details at resolutions of just 11 microns, which is about the size of a red blood cell. The team then compared the rock in the Venus to oolite deposits across a huge swath of Europe, from France in the west to Ukraine in the east, and from Germany in the north to Sicily in the south.

The northern Italian location, called Sega di Ala, “intermingled perfectly with the Venus samples,” the researchers noted in the study. What’s more, the team identified a tiny fragment of a mollusk shell inside the figurine that dated back to the Jurassic period, which also matched the age of the deposit at Sega di Ala and eliminated many other sites that were much younger.

While the researchers are almost certain the Venus came from the Lake Garda location, they also found compelling evidence for an origin in eastern Ukraine. Though the Ukrainian oolite match is not as strong, the Venus of Willendorf is extremely similar in form to younger Venus figures found in Ukraine and Russia, suggesting a possible connection.  

“Even if we cannot claim with absolute certainty that the raw material of the Venus originates from a particular locality, the match between the Venus and Sega di Ala samples is almost perfect and suggests a very high probability for the raw material to come from south of the Alps,” the team noted.

“While this is the most likely result from our analysis, it cannot be ruled out, although based on a lower statistical likelihood, that the material or the crafted figurine could originate from the area of the eastern Ukraine, which would indicate a long-term and long-distance diffusion of cultural artifacts over generations from the East to the West,” the researchers concluded. “In any event, our results suggest considerable mobility of Gravettian people in the time around 30,000 years ago.”


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