Just like a yo-yo, or more like a rolling stone?

Happy stuff first today (but don’t ask what got me going on yo-yo lore):

The history of the yo-yo has been considerably revised since I was a lad.

China has laid claim to the original yo-yo (c. 1000 BCE, like they do with everything cool), but there is earlier iconographic evidence (4th-5th century BCE) of the ancient Greeks using the things (in your face, China!). At any rate, they are very old toys: the Mayans had a version, King Louis XVII and Napoleon were known to partake of the yo-yo (called “l’immigret”, “joujou” or a “bandalore”), while in England it was called a “quiz”.

Although he didn’t invent them, it is an established fact that a young Filipino named Pedro Flores jump-started the modern yo-yo market in the U.S. when he founded the Flores Yo-Yo Company in 1928. He later sold this to marketing genius Donald F. Duncan (of Duncan Yo-Yo, Good Humor ice cream, Duncan parking meters and prizes-for-box-tops fame) between 1930 and 1932.

I had always been told that yo-yos were an ancient weapon of Pacific islanders, but apparently the evidence for this is rather thin. Flores had continued to work for Duncan for some years as a travelling sales-pro, and the fact that the early demonstrators for the Duncan company were Filipino, and the story  made a slightly lurid hook for selling more yo-yos is probably where this meme originated.

Here’s a “Boys’ Life” guide on some simple tricks for the yo-yo (wherever they come from). And check out the diabolo, a related, free-flying juggling prop (but don’t call it a “diablo” or you’ll just sound like a noob).

Now all the other stuff-

As one European expert put it “something terrible has happened’’. Somebody in Syria (with the initials “Assad regime”) has set a new 2013 high-score in “Syrian Chemical Weapon Body Count”. Depending on who does the counting, between 400 and 1500 people died when a lethal chemical agent was deployed in the wee small hours of the morning in suburbs east of Damascus. All this with the U.N. chemical weapons investigation team just a few miles up the road. Could it be a sign that the U.N. doesn’t scare anyone in power in Syria?  Even Wonkette got knocked out of snark mode over it. Foreign Policy and The Brown Moses blog have additional analysis.

The uplifting story of “How North Korea got itself hooked on meth“. It a quirky independent ‘rags to running facial sore’ story!

Speaking of cooking, there’s new findings on what was in neolithic spice racks.

There goes another lucrative side business! The first scientific test to authenticate the world’s costliest coffee has been published. You know, the kind that comes out a palm civet’s bottom?

Ever get songs you’ve never heard before stuck in your head? Neurologists report a new type of audio hallucination.

A new drug called SR9009 mimics the beneficial effects of exercise in both in vitro and in animal models.

Will no-one speak out against white on white violence?

Matthew Yglesias agrees with me: “We Should Be Taxing Churches“. Tax them all equally (like the businesses they are) then they can electioneer all they want!

New Super-Fast Transport System Powered By Passengers’ Screams [The Onion]

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