• Goodbye, Kitty    5:03pm ET

Hello Kitty has whiskers. She has pointy, feline ears. She has "Kitty" in her name." Despite all that, she is not a cat, according to Sanrio, the Japanese company that produced her.

Rather, Hello Kitty is a third-grade British girl who lives outside London.

Christine R. Yano, an anthropologist at the University of Hawaii who has extensively studied the cartoon character, is curating a Hello Kitty retrospective at the Japanese American National Museum. But in putting together the exhibit, she stumbled across this shocking truth:

When Yano was preparing her written texts for the exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum, she says she described Hello Kitty as a cat. "I was corrected — very firmly," she says. "That's one correction Sanrio made for my script for the show. Hello Kitty is not a cat. She's a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She's never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it's called Charmmy Kitty." [Los Angeles Times]

Wikipedia still claims Hello Kitty is a Japanese Bobtail cat. Wikipedia is wrong, if Yano is to be believed.

Which makes you wonder: Is Mickey not a mouse?

  • Don't grope the animals    4:15pm ET 

Luke Rockhold apparently lives by one simple rule: Grab life by the stones. Or, rather, grab a tiger by his.

The UFC fighter on Tuesday posted a picture of himself grabbing a docile tiger by the testicles along with the caption, "Who's your daddy."

Naturally, the internet exploded over the image, with some commenters saying they hoped the animal would knock out the fighter, and others claiming the extemporaneous squeeze was borderline bestiality.

"For those of u who think it was disrespectful I'm sorry," Rockhold wrote in the caption of a follow-up video that showed him petting the same tiger, post-fondling. "Was so minor just joking around. I was way too scared and would never do anything harmful to any animal."

  • This just in    3:23pm ET 
AP Photo/Amy Sancetta
AP Photo/Amy Sancetta

An appeals court Wednesday overturned hate-crime convictions for 16 attacks on Amish communities in 2011.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the jury had "received incorrect instructions about how to weigh the role of religion in the attacks," according to The Associated Press. The attacks involved the cutting of Amish peoples' beards and hair in Ohio neighborhoods. AP reports that the attacks, which were perpetrated by fellow Amish, were "apparent retaliation" for those who had "denounced the authoritarian style" of local leader Sam Mullet, Sr.

"When all is said and done, considerable evidence supported the defendants' theory that interpersonal and intra-family disagreements, not the victims' religious beliefs, sparked the attacks," the ruling stated. Prosecutors had argued that the attacks were hate crimes, since they were the result of "religious differences," but today, the court ruled that religious beliefs were not responsible for the assaults.

Mullet, 69, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2013 for encouraging the attacks. He was also tried in 2008 for asking a woman "to have sex with him for religious reasons." Prosecutors argue the 2008 case proves "the high level of the control" Mullet had over the Amish community near Steubenville, Ohio.

  • Pot politics    2:56pm ET 

In what is either an incredibly bureaucratic sting operation or a legit science experiment, the federal government says it is seeking proposals from those who can grow a whole bunch of marijuana. The open call for proposals, posted Tuesday by the National Institutes of Health, and first reported by Time, seeks someone who can "cultivate and harvest, process, analyze, store, and distribute cannabis (marijuana) for research."

In other words, the government wants someone to grow weed for science.

Perhaps you're not qualified to "periodically analyze cannabis extracts, and isolated cannabinoids for authenticity" — and no, they probably don't mean via inhalation. You could still be in luck. The NIH could still use help help growing pot in 1.5-, 6.5-, and 12-acre quantities, so long as you have a video monitoring system in place to thwart would-be thieves.

Someone get these guys on the phone. Washington could use their help. --Jon Terbush

  • Really?    2:51pm ET 

It's safe to assume the Department of Agriculture's new rules and standards governing school lunches will be pretty harsh, considering the department's undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services recently proclaimed childhood obesity to be "a national security issue."

"Obesity is not just a health issue," Kevin Concannon told National Review. "It is an economic and national security issue."

Following First Lady Michelle Obama's Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the department has implemented a new Smart Snacks program, which forbids middle schools from providing students with "Gatorade, some tea drinks, lemonades, fruit punches, or caffeinated beverages."

The kids aren't going to take it. As this week marks the first week back to school for many students across the county, Twitter has been inundated with angry adolescents complaining about "empty vending machines, soda-less drink choices, and the overall lack of junk food" with the hashtag #BringBackOurSnacks.

  • Huh?    2:39pm ET 

Giant panda Ai Hin, who lives at the Chengdu Breeding Research Center in China, was scheduled to be the star of the first live-broadcast of a panda birth. That endeavor quickly came to a halt, however, when the center's staff discovered she wasn't actually pregnant.

AFP suggests that Ai Hin "tricked" the staff members at the breeding center, which is in the Sichuana province of southwest China, into giving her "extra treats and nicer accommodation." After showing signs of pregnancy, including eating less and moving less, Ai Hin was moved to an air-conditioned room. But when Ai Hin's behavioral and physiological indexes returned to their levels before the symptoms began, the scientists realized she wasn't pregnant.

"They receive more buns, fruits, and bamboo, so some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life," Wu Kongju, an employee at the panda base, told Chinese state news agency Xinhua. Xinhua also stated that so-called phantom pregnancies are "common" among the endangered bears when they discover they can get special treatment for exhibiting certain behaviors.

  • Silence is golden?    2:38pm ET 

Leon Gardner, assistant professor of chemistry at the College of Coastal Georgia, lays out six behavior rules on his syllabus. Here's one: Gardner considers saying "bless you" while he's talking to be "very rude," Campus Reform reports. Doing so could cost his students anything from an automatic grade deduction to "disciplinary action from the college."

"We are taught that it is polite to say 'bless you' when someone sneezes," Gardner writes on his syllabus, under the heading, "Behavioral Deduction." "However," he goes on, "if you say this while I am talking, it is NOT polite, it is very rude."

Gardner believes "bless you" interruptions, together with "sharpening your pencil in the middle of class" and "being unprepared for class," is "especially rude and may result in an immediate 1% grade deduction for each occurrence."

Gardner is hardly alone in his anti-bless-you crusade. Last week, CBS Charlotte reported that "a high school student in Tennessee was allegedly suspended after breaking a class rule of saying 'bless you' after a classmate sneezed."

  • 2014 Watch    1:50pm ET 
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is one of the Republican Party's national stars, and perhaps even a potential candidate for president in 2016. But right now, he's in a serious fight for re-election against the Democratic nominee, businesswoman Mary Burke.

The new poll from Marquette University Law School, conducted from Aug. 21 to 24, notably shows different results among registered and likely voters — but not in the way one might expect. Among registered voters, Walker leads with 47.5 percent against Burke with 44.1 percent. But among likely voters, Burke is the one who is ahead with 48.6 percent, compared to Walker at 46.5 percent.

Both of those results are within the respective margins of error: Plus or minus 3.5 percent for registered voters, and plus or minus 4.1 percent for the likely voter screen.

This also does run a bit against the usual conventional wisdom, that Republicans are relatively more inclined to be likely voters than Democrats, especially in a presidential midterm election. On the other hand, this might be explained by the nature of Walker's governorship: He shot to national fame three and a half years ago with a law that stripped collective bargaining from public employee unions, resulting in massive protests and even a statewide recall election that he won in 2012.

As a result, Wisconsin has been a sharply polarized state ever since. And perhaps this time, it might just be that the Democrats have gained an organizational advantage, and are chomping at the bit to beat Walker.

  • It slices! It dices! It juliennes!    1:36pm ET 

If you thought Kickstarter was only good for strange vanity art projects and crowdfunding rich actors' next films, take heart: The newly crowned "most successful Kickstarter ever" is perhaps the most useful picnic companion ever devised.

After asking for a mere $50,000 to fund his invention, the Coolest Cooler, creator Ryan Grepper has raised over $10.5 million from almost 50,000 backers as of this writing — and the Kickstarter campaign still has two days to go.

But don't think of the record-holder as a mere cold-storage box. In the words of Grepper, the Coolest Cooler is "a portable party," with a dazzling list of bells and whistles that's so long, buyers may contemplate buying LoJack coverage.

Forgot to charge your phone? Use the Coolest Cooler's USB port:


Fancy a pitcher of margaritas while you're tossing the pigskin? Fire up the built-in blender:


Or perhaps you're sick of digging through ice for a sharp bottle opener dangling from a dripping-wet string? Coolest Cooler to the rescue:


There's also a Bluetooth speaker, LED lid lights, a cutting board, storage for plates and utensils and — to lug all your electronics and frozen drink ingredients around with ease — "extra-wide easy rolling tires." Oh yeah, and it keeps your drinks and food cold.

  • Really?    1:33pm ET 

An endeavoring American wasn't content with the ice bucket challenge, so he decided to add another element into his ALS awareness video. And things went terribly, terribly wrong.

The man, who identified himself as "Cam" in the video, lit his head on fire before completing the ice bucket challenge. To prove his patriotism, Cam decked himself out in camouflage cargo shorts and a stars-and-stripes vest, waving a Confederate flag to complete the look.

Cam consumed an unspecified substance from a flask and proceeded to light his hat on fire. The flames quickly spread across his head, and the ice bucket dumping did nothing to stop the flames from spreading.

Cam and the ice-dumper then ran around frantically, with his friend yelling, "Dude, roll on the f--king ground!" Eventually, Cam resurfaced in the video intact, saying his hair was "f--ked up," but he was otherwise apparently fine.

Though the video may be an internet hoax — the whole thing seems a bit staged — the imagery is still terrifying. Watch the full video below. --Meghan DeMaria

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