TIME Bizarre

Let Kim Kardashian’s Butt Help You Study for the SATs

Kim Kardashian Paper Magazine
Jean-Paul Goude—Paper

Can you calculate the area of this booty?

For most teens, studying for the SATs is a major bummer. But it doesn’t have to be. The people behind test preparation company Catalyst Prep believe in the educational utility of a healthy sense of humor. In an effort to meet teenagers in the bubble of reality TV and social media in which they exist, the company tweeted last week, “As patriotic, pop-culturally-minded Americans, we couldn’t help but see Kim Kardashian’s recent photos as an opportunity to teach SAT math.” They proceeded to cook up some of the most culturally relevant geometry lessons the Internet has to offer.

Catalyst placed Kardashian’s famous backside at the center of several word problems. One challenges students to calculate a perimeter:

Another focuses on angles:

And a third explores the relationship between area and diameter:

For all that’s been written about the photos — that they’re bereft of meaning, indicative of larger issues around representations of black women or simply images of a woman in control and having a good time — it’s now safe to say that the butt that nearly broke the Internet is serving at least one purpose for good.

TIME Bizarre

Monty Python Song is the Brits’ Funeral Favorite

Baby Boomers in the UK play “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” more than any other track

Correction appended Nov. 22.

Who gets the last laugh? The British, it seems, after a study out Friday revealed that Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” is the most-played song at funerals in the United Kingdom.

The relentlessly optimistic song was written by Eric Idle and first appeared in Monty Python’s biblical satire Life of Brian in 1979. The song tickled the funny bone of a generation with the juxtaposition of its lyrics—“If life seems jolly rotten, there’s something you’ve forgotten, and that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing”—and the characters singing it in the comedy classic, a chorus of people being crucified on a hillside.

The findings come from a survey of more than 30,000 funerals in the UK by The Co-operative Funeralcare.

The irreverent track pushed out more traditional songs for the No. 1 spot, including “The Lord is My Shepherd” and “Abide with Me.”

The song lyrics do strike a particularly comforting note for a funeral.

For life is quite absurd
And death’s the final word
You must always face the curtain
with a bow
Forget about your sin – give the
audience a grin
Enjoy it – it’s your last chance
anyhow.

So always look on the bright side… of death.

Other hit classics to make the Top 10 Most-Played list in the humor category include “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen, “Ring of Fire,” by Johnny Cash, “Bat Out of Hell,” by Meat Loaf, and The Trammps’ “Disco Inferno”—“Buuuurn baby burn!”

Well played, Britain. Well played.

Here’s a video of the folks from Monty Python singing this very song for one of their own.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the movie in which the song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” first appeared and the year it was released. It was Life of Brian in 1979.
TIME Bizarre

Feel Good Friday: 10 Photos to Start Your Weekend

From snow men to fire breathing, here's a handful of photos to get your weekend started right.

TIME Bizarre

4 Possible Explanations for That Mysterious Flash of Light Over Russia

A meteor, a military launch — or something much more sinister?

The sky above Russia’s remote Sverdlovsk region erupted in light last Friday, and despite it having been captured on numerous video recordings—particularly dashboard cameras, it seems—no one seems to know what the flash of light was.

Theories abound, ranging from the reasonable to the completely nonsensical. We’ve collected the most interesting, but first, some of the video footage:

1. Meteor

An explosion that took as long as the one captured on Friday (about 10 seconds) could have been a meteor burning up in the atmosphere, as one astronomer told 66.Ru, according to the Christian Science Monitor. “Looks like a falling bolide,” or meteorite, which evaded detection by the usual array of watchers before hitting our atmosphere, said astronomer Viktor Grokhovsky. Russia, of course, is no stranger to explosive meteors being caught on film. But meteorites usually explode white after streaking across the sky, and whatever this one was didn’t. Marco Langbroek of the Dutch Meteor Society told a meteor blog, “I doubt this one is a meteor.”

2. Military explosion

Was the military were behind the flash? A scheduled explosive ordnance disposal could have taken place,local city officials said, with ammunition lighting up the sky. It could have been a military launch too. Although there’s no launch vicinity in that immediate area, the region is reportedly in the flight path of a launch base. That means a rocket could have blown up en route; the brevity and brightness of the blast seem consistent with that. The Russian military has denied any involvement — but that’s hardly a surprise.

3. Chemical plant explosion

One local news site suggested that there’s an old chemical plant outside the nearby town of Rezhevskoy that could have exploded, causing such a bright light. But we’d surely have heard about such a disaster by now.

4. Aliens

Okay, so no one has seriously claimed that extraterrestrial beings are responsible for the blast, but some say that a UFO crashed in the Sverdlovsk region in 1969. And there’s grainy, ambiguous video footage to prove it!

Read next: This Insane Time-Lapse Video Shows Snow Blanketing Buffalo

TIME Crime

Who Is Charles Manson?

USA, Circa 1971, American cult leader and mass murderer Charles Manson is shown in these three pictures demonstrating how he has changed his appearance during his trial for the Tate-La Bianca murders in Los Angeles in 1969
Charles Manson's appearance changes in these three photos from circa 1971 Popperfoto/Getty Images

News of a potential marriage has brought him back to the limelight, many years after his crimes

Charles Manson returned to headlines on Monday, after decades in prison, with the news that he and Afton Elaine “Star” Burton, a 26-year-old who has been corresponding with him for nearly a decade, have secured a marriage license.

As Manson returns to public consciousness, so do his crimes: some physical similarities between Burton and the Manson Family followers of earlier years have been noted, and his relationship with the much younger woman generally calls to mind the enthralling power that Manson was once said to have, a power that captivated the attention of both his adherents and the appalled nation alike.

But Burton was not even born when the Manson family first made headlines, almost half a century ago. So who exactly is Charles Manson and what did he do?

It was 45 years ago that TIME first reported on the man it dubbed “The Demon of Death Valley.” A “band of hippies” had broken into a Los Angeles house and murdered five people, including the actress Sharon Tate, who was nearly nine months pregnant at the time. “Please let me have my baby,” Tate reportedly pleaded before being stabbed 16 times.

The killers were, the magazine reported, the “zombie-like followers” of a “semi-religious hippie drug-and-murder cult” — the leader of which was Manson, then 35 years old. Manson was not one of the killers himself, though he was charged with both murder and conspiracy for having ordered the acts (because, police suggested early on, the previous occupant of the house had once refused to record a song by Manson). The crimes were proof of the remarkable influence that he had acquired in just a few short years:

Manson is a drifter with a five-page criminal record stretching back 20 years. Born in 1934, to a teen-age mother, he never saw his father. His prostitute parent was often in jail, and young Manson was shifted around from relatives to foster parents to reformatories. As he grew up, he turned to petty crimes, mainly car theft. His education never went beyond the seventh grade. It was during these years that he apparently developed his hatred of the affluent and a loathing for women. In and out of prison, Manson became interested in music and the occult, and when he was last released in 1967, he headed for San Francisco as a “roving minstrel.”

Manson began to gather followers in Haight-Ashbury in 1966, and in 1968 he moved his retinue by bus to Los Angeles to further his music-writing ambitions. Last winter, Manson moved his clan to the Spahn Ranch in western Los Angeles County, and it was from there that they made their alleged commando forays against their affluent victims. Manson busied himself converting stolen cars into dune buggies, and after the ranch was raided in August, he led his followers to their own hell in the inhospitable depths of Death Valley.

Among the greasewood and rattlesnakes, they holed up in run-down cabins and led an indolent, almost savage existence, singing Manson’s songs, dancing, swimming in a small pool, stealing cars for cash and picking through garbage for food. Miners in the area reported being chased away by amazons wielding knives. Manson reportedly held an almost hypnotic spell over his followers, who called him “God” and “Satan.” His women lolled harem-like around the commune nude or barebreasted, catering to his every whim. One chagrined ranchhand relates discussing business with Manson while one of Manson’s girls performed a sex act upon the “guru.” But women in the “family” saw him in a different light. “He gave off a lot of magic,” said one, Lynn Fromme. “To me, to us, he was everything,” added another, Sandy Good Pugh.

During the 1970 Tate-LaBianca murder trial — a months-long ordeal so called because it focused on the killings of Tate and those with her, as well as another double murder that took place the following night — further details of life with Manson began to emerge. Prosecutors claimed that Manson was inspired by the Beatles song “Helter Skelter” and that his goal was to make the white population believe that a “violent black uprising” had begun. The star witness for the state was Linda Kasabian, a defector from the Manson family who was granted immunity in exchange for testifying about what she had seen.

Manson, for his part, attempted to get the court to agree to let him represent himself, with the idea that his three co-defendants — young women whom he had told to actually commit the murders — would testify that they had indeed committed the crimes but that Manson was innocent. He had not told them to kill anyone, he would later say; rather, society had. A judge decided that Manson was incompetent to do represent himself, that he must take on an actual lawyer. In the end, Manson and the three women did not testify in front of a jury at all. All four were found guilty of first-degree murder. Manson would not allow any of them to plead insanity.

During the sentencing portion of the trial, however, followers like Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme — who was not accused in the Tate-LaBianca murders but would, a few years later, attempt to assassinate President Gerald Ford — did speak up to describe life among the Family. They told of how “Charlie” was both a father figure and a lover to them, and described seeing Manson reanimate dead animals. The testimony also included an alternate motive, the idea that the murders would suggest that the state had been off-base in its findings about a separate but similar killing, of which another Family member had previously been convicted. Susan Denise Atkins, one of the convicted killers, also described the night of the Tate killings in vivid and gruesome detail, as TIME reported:

“She said, ‘Please, all I want to do is have my baby.’ I said, ‘Don’t move, don’t talk to me. I don’t want to hear it.’ I just stabbed her, and she fell, and I stabbed her again. I don’t know how many times I stabbed her.” Atkins dipped a towel in Miss Tate’s blood and wrote PIG on the front door of the house.

Did she feel hate toward any of the five persons who died that night? “No. I didn’t know any of them. How could I have had any feelings—nothing. What I was doing was right. I was coming from love. I had no thoughts in my head. I have no guilt in me.” How can someone be killed out of love? “To explain the feeling would be almost impossible to relate so that you could understand it. It was like, when I would stab. I was stabbing myself. The touching of a flower, looking at the sun, whatever I do and I know is right when I am doing it, feels good.”

Manson and the three women were sentenced to death, but California abolished its death penalty before the executions could be carried out. And, despite having been denied parole several times of the years, Manson has never completely receded from the public eye — as this week’s news once again proves.

See more photos of Charles Manson and his followers here, at LIFE.com.

Read next: Charles Manson Gets Marriage License

TIME Bizarre

Feel Good Friday: 9 Photos to Start Your Weekend

From frizbees in Rome to selfies with Brad Pitt, here's a handful of photos to get your weekend started right.

TIME Bizarre

The World’s Largest Shoe and 10 Other Odd Guinness World Records

The world's tallest man met the world's shortest man today to break a Guinness World record, but that's just one of the strange record-breaking moments you can see here

TIME Food & Drink

Ramen Donut Wins Our Vote for Weirdest Food Hybrid Yet

Meet the 'Ramnut'

When asking yourself whether food fusion has gone too far, please consider the foodie world’s latest jaunt in made-for-the-internet cuisine: The ramen donut. Also known as the “ramnut.”

This unexpected mashup comes from Josh Scherer of Culinary Bro-Down, the mastermind behind ramen poutine and sushi corn dogs. And in case you were wondering if this is all a sick joke, Sherer wants his blog readers to know “I’m incredibly serious about this sh*t.” He even provides a recipe for the creation.

Will the Ramnut become as famous as its predecessors the cronut and the ramen burger? Only time will tell.

TIME Tech

Watch Samsung’s Rap Video About Corporate Diversity — It’s Just as Bizarre as It Sounds

The tech giant hired Korean rapper Mad Clown to do the honors

Tech giant Samsung announced its sustainability report just the way that a tech giant should: By hiring a Korean rapper named Mad Clown to rap about it.

No, this is not a spoof.

Lyrics include:

Samsung we two hundred
Eighty thousand humans
Forty percent of 100
Twelve thousand women
That don’t have to worry
After giving birth
Sit back, relax, no need to work

Translation: 40% of Samsung’s 280,000 employees are women. Parental leave policies are illin’.

Sure, this outreach method may be a little quirky, but it’s better than Samsung’s past PR gaffes — like that kinda sexist Galaxy S4 Broadway spectacular launch event at Radio City Music Hall last year. And who can forget that quickly yanked ad that made light of abusing puppies?

In fact, we’re kind of hoping that one of Samsung’s competitors will challenge Samsung to a rap battle. Dare to dream.

[H/t The Verge]

TIME movies

A Man Watching Mr Turner Got Maced For Asking a Woman To Turn Off Her Phone

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Grauman's (TCL) Chinese Theater at dawn, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA Danita Delimont—Getty Images/Gallo Images

An eyewitness at the theater says the woman "flipped out" when he tapped her on the shoulder

A man at a California movie theater who asked a woman to switch off her cellphone got far more than he bargained for after she sprayed mace in his eyes, Mashable reports.

The incident, according to an eyewitness who was sitting nearby, took place at a Monday night screening of the recently released film Mr. Turner.

The film had just begun at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theater when a man sitting in the back row began requesting the woman in front of him to switch off her glowing phone.

When he tapped her on the shoulder after being ignored a few times, the witness said she “flipped out,” accused the man of hitting her and threatened to call the police. Without warning, she then uncapped a bottle of mace and sprayed the man.

Mashable reports that the woman sat back down and watched 20 minutes of the movie before security came and escorted her out.

[Mashable]

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