April 11, 2016

The Morning After The Weekend Before


This Day In History: April 11, 1931

Dorothy Parker was a writer, poet and satirist whose quick turns of phrase made her a favorite among many prominent Jazz Age newspaper columnists. Along with Robert Benchley and Robert E. Sherwood, she was a founder of the legendary Algonquin Round Table, named in homage to the hotel where they met daily for lunch and witty repartee.

Before long, they were joined by columnists Alexander Woollcott and Franklin Pierce Adams. Parker quickly became known as the quickest of the bunch for snappy comebacks. She came to personify the sophisticated/bordering-on-jaded New York City flapper of the 1920s. …

Obama explains Trump’s rise to Fox host Chris Wallace: ‘Republicans have their own TV station’

President Barack Obama on Sunday linked Fox News, which he suggested was a “Republican news channel,” to the success of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate.

During an interview on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked the president if he felt responsible for the angry voters supporting GOP hopeful Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.

“There’s no doubt that I feel frustrated about it,” the president said. “Number one, we’re still shell shocked from what happened in 2007-2008… People lost homes, lost jobs, lost life savings and they still don’t fully know how that happened and was the system fixed in a way they can have confidence in.”

Wallace wondered why Obama had not “fixed that in eight years.” …


An expert in banking corruption and finance has joined the Bernie Sanders campaign. William K. Black, an associate professor at the University of Missouri-KC, is Bernie Sanders’ new economic advisor. Black was one of the central figures in exposing and prosecuting corruption in the savings and loan crisis from the late 1980s and mid-1990s. His addition to the Sanders campaign brings important knowledge in laws pertaining to finance and banking.

The savings and loan banking crisis resulted from a multitude of causes, one of which were two laws that helped deregulate them. The Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980 was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter. That law allowed credit unions and savings and loans to offer checking deposits, and to charge any loan interest rate they chose. …

Top 10 Horrible Outcomes For People Who Mimicked Movies

Films can be life-changing. We see visions of awe and excitement on the silver screen and the spark of desire they often create can inspire us to copy them. However, for some it is all too easy to forget that these moving pictures are designed merely for entertainment and spectacle.

As you are about to see, in far too many cases the attempts to mimic what is seen at the movies can lead to some truly bizarre events, and even heartbreak and tragedy.

Let these tales of woe be a lesson to us all, lest we join the ranks of next year’s Darwin Award nominees.

10. Wedding Crashers Inspired People To Poison Their Friends

You might expect a movie like Wedding Crashers (2005) to encourage bad behavior, but it inspired more than just people showing up uninvited at weddings. After this movie came out, another fad swept the nation—“Visine-ing” your friends.

The idea came from a scene in which Owen Wilson spikes Bradley Cooper’s drink with the eye drop Visine. It gives Cooper diarrhea—which is funny in a movie because poo is funny. In a fictional world, Cooper also deserves to be poisoned because he likes the same girl as the protagonist. That jerk.

A lot of people copied the prank. Apparently, many people in the real world are perfectly comfortable with poisoning their friends because there was a rash of Visine poisonings after the movie came out. But in real life, the prank is not funny because Visine poisoning doesn’t just give you diarrhea. It can put you in a coma. …

Paying Women Equally Would Be a Boon for ‘Everyone Else,’ Too

This matters. And yet, it’s kind of frustrating that this is such a common argument for why women should earn more.

For years, women’s pay has slowly increased relative to men’s, but, strangely, in 2015 that trend seemed to stall (or even reverse course). This apparent stagnation is discouraging for lots of reasons: More women are working and many are the primary, if not sole, earners in their households. And young women are more likely than young men to hold a college degree.

This is clearly bad for women. It’s also bad for men. And the economy as a whole. A new report from the McKinsey Global Institute finds that greater gender parity in the workforce—in terms of pay, hours worked, and access to full-time jobs—would also benefit the entire country’s economy. The report makes the case for both the government and businesses to take a more proactive role in bringing about gender equality.

Some economists worry that as America’s population ages and retires, there won’t be enough young workers to replace them. The consequences of this would be harmful to the economy: There would be fewer people to provide goods and services, fewer people working and earning wages, and lower levels of worker productivity—all of which could result in a slowing of GDP growth. …

Work in the Only Industrialized Country Without Paid Maternity Leave

No sleep, lots of pumping, and just a pinch of insanity

Tara is a working mother of two, with a son just shy of two and a daughter, Baby C, born in late January 2016. I met Tara on Facebook when she contacted me after watching my TED talk on parental leave in the United States. She is one of the many American parents who have no access to parental leave, paid or unpaid. Tara’s time off with her new baby consisted of her 13 days of accumulated vacation time; she was back at work 20 days after giving birth.

The first half of this two-part series followed Tara and her family through the birth of Baby C and her 20 days off work. Here, we rejoin Tara on her first day back on the job. (Tara has asked that I not use her last name in order to protect her privacy and her job.)

Tara is a manager at a small business—small enough that Tara is ineligible for the Family Medical Leave Act’s unpaid leave provision. She is her family’s sole breadwinner. A painful chronic condition has left her husband unable to work, and he is the primary caregiver for the children. Tara’s commute is 90 minutes each way, but her employer has agreed to let her work from home for a while—exactly how long has been left undetermined—after the birth of Baby C. …

Top 10 Bizarre Ancient Roman Medical Treatments

The ancient Romans were responsible for a number of scientific advancements that greatly benefited humankind. However, some of their solutions didn’t work. Here are 10 diseases and the erroneous cures that the ancient Romans devised.

Warning: These Roman treatments don’t work, so don’t try them.

10. Acne

Acne was probably the scourge of nearly every Roman teenager, so the Romans tried to come up with a cure. Crocodile meat was effective at getting rid of spots, even freckles, when combined with cyprus oil.

If the pimples persisted, the Romans suggested taking a bath with oil and sour cheese to remove the pimples. Leek leaves could get rid of pimples when rubbed on the skin. Lastly, the juice of myrrh, when mixed with cassia and honey, was said to be effective at relieving what the Romans referred to as varus. …

State of emergency declared over suicide epidemic in Canadian First Nation community

Authorities in the Ontario community of Attawapiskat describe ‘rolling nightmare’ as 11 people attempt suicide on one day

A Canadian First Nation community of 2,000 people has declared a state of emergency after 11 of its members tried to take their own lives, national media reported.

CTV News reported on Sunday that the remote northern community of the Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario experienced an additional 28 suicide attempts last month. More than 100 people in the community have attempted suicide since last September, and one person died, according to CTV. The youngest was 11, the oldest 71.

Charlie Angus, the local member of parliament, told the Canadian Press it was part of a “rolling nightmare” of more and more suicide attempts among young people throughout the winter. …

Non-proliferation crusader Obama ponders a visit to nuclear ground zero: Hiroshima

For nearly 71 years, the consequences of the world’s first atomic bombing have remained close to the surface here.

Construction workers digging under the Peace Memorial Museum recently discovered the charred and mangled remains of a bicycle, a rice paddle, a toothbrush and a fountain pen, tangible artifacts of a civilization that was buried in ash on Aug. 6, 1945.

The memory of that moment has defined this Japanese city of 1.1 million for more than seven decades, but the ghosts of that horrifying past also have prevented a final reconciliation with the nation that dropped the bomb.

No sitting U.S. president has ever visited Hiroshima, out of concern that such a trip might be interpreted as an apology. The bombing killed 140,000 people but has been viewed by many Americans as a necessary evil to end World War II and save the lives of U.S. troops. …


Chris G. asks: We know there is a coldest temperature at absolute zero. Is there also a hottest temperature possible?

The idea of absolute hot springs from its better-known cousin, absolute zero, which, as you may recall, is 0 K, -273.15° C or -459.67° F. And although abridged definitions of the lowest temperature will frequently state it is the point at which matter stops moving, this is technically incorrect. Absolute zero is actually the point where molecular motion no longer produces heat (but does have zero-point energy).

Conversely, absolute hot, then, could be defined as the point where molecular motion couldn’t produce any more heat, no matter what the circumstances. …

‘I was struck with multiple blows’: inside the secret violence of Homan Square

Documents disclosed in Guardian lawsuit reveal for first time how Chicago police used punches, baton blows and Tasers at the off-the-books interrogation site

Internal documents from the Chicago police department show that officers used physical force on at least 14 men already in custody at the warehouse known as Homan Square.

Police used punches, knee strikes, elbow strikes, slaps, wrist twists, baton blows and Tasers at Homan Square, according to documents released to the Guardian in the course of its transparency lawsuit about the warehouse. The new information contradicts an official denial about treatment of prisoners at the facility.

The injured men are among at least 7,351 people – over 6,000 of them black – who, police documents show, have been detained and interrogated at Homan Square without a public notice of their whereabouts or access to an attorney. …

North Korean ships with corpses on board have been washing ashore in Japan

Shizuo Kakutani sees no great mystery in the things that wash ashore in Monzen, his quiet fishing village on the Sea of Japan — the fishing boats ravaged by fierce winter storms, the Chinese garbage carried to land by the strong winds, the occasional body that drifts in from Yaseno, the nearby cliffs notorious for suicides.

The ghost ships, however, are harder to explain.

On an early morning in November, the 71-year-old retired fisherman received a call from his colleagues at the town’s civilian coast guard. A black mass bobbling in the water — most likely a boat — had been spotted hooked to a distant buoy.

“When I saw the boat, I immediately knew that it was from North Korea,” Kakutani said. He had seen similar vessels before — no more than 30 feet long, made of wood, its flat-bottomed hull covered in black tar. …

8 Real Life Horror Monsters Walking The Earth Right Now

Generally speaking, there are two kinds of horror movies out there: the man-based horror and the nature-based horror. Man horror is your Saw, your Halloween, your Sex And The City. Nature horror is Lake Placid, The Day Of The Triffids and the incomparable Night Of The Lepus. Man horror can get pretty predictable after a while — how many ways can a dude gut a marching band, anyway? But, nature horror is like a never-ending surprise bag full of bloody giblets and shredded face meat. Why? Because real, actual nature is a nonstop parade of horrific terror that mimics horror movies at every turn. Behold!

#8. Ant-Killing Assassin Bug – Jeepers Creepers

All things being equal, the name you get as an animal is often a good gauge of how intimidating a beast you are. Guinea pig sounds utterly hilarious. Beaver sounds mildly intimidating and musky. Ant-killing assassin bug sounds like some kind of role Dolph Lundgren should play in a movie you find late one night on Netflix. But, the reality is somehow even more awesome, if you can believe it.

Like the Creeper from the film Jeepers Creepers, the ant-killing assassin bug doesn’t just kill his prey — he also uses their carcasses to make himself better. After injecting an enzyme into ants that liquefies their insides, the assassin bug sucks them dry and piles the exoskeletons onto its back to make a massive Ed Gein backpack of horror. Why do such a crazy thing? Scientists speculate it may be a method of macabre camouflage: Imagine your name is Pete, and you go to a party, and everyone is like, “Hey, Pete!” You leave and then return — after piling the bodies of 20 of your neighbors on your back. Most people probably won’t even notice you under all that. …

The sugar conspiracy

In 1972, a British scientist sounded the alarm that sugar – and not fat – was the greatest danger to our health. But his findings were ridiculed and his reputation ruined. How did the world’s top nutrition scientists get it so wrong for so long?

Robert Lustig is a paediatric endocrinologist at the University of California who specialises in the treatment of childhood obesity. A 90-minute talk he gave in 2009, titled Sugar: The Bitter Truth, has now been viewed more than six million times on YouTube. In it, Lustig argues forcefully that fructose, a form of sugar ubiquitous in modern diets, is a “poison” culpable for America’s obesity epidemic.

A year or so before the video was posted, Lustig gave a similar talk to a conference of biochemists in Adelaide, Australia. Afterwards, a scientist in the audience approached him. Surely, the man said, you’ve read Yudkin. Lustig shook his head. John Yudkin, said the scientist, was a British professor of nutrition who had sounded the alarm on sugar back in 1972, in a book called Pure, White, and Deadly.

“If only a small fraction of what we know about the effects of sugar were to be revealed in relation to any other material used as a food additive,” wrote Yudkin, “that material would promptly be banned.” The book did well, but Yudkin paid a high price for it. Prominent nutritionists combined with the food industry to destroy his reputation, and his career never recovered. He died, in 1995, a disappointed, largely forgotten man. …

Synthetic opiate makers stay step ahead of US drug laws as overdose cases rise

W-18 and U-47700 are the latest designer drugs among thousands created and smuggled into the US that have yet to be outlawed as controlled substances

Adolphe Joseph, 34, is serving a 10-year prison sentence for smuggling fentanyl – an opiate 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.

But he has not been charged for the nearly three pounds of a synthetic opiate more than 10,000 times as powerful as morphine investigators found in his South Florida home last Fall. Nor will he be, say prosecutors.

W-18 is one of thousands of synthetic opiates that is not scheduled as a controlled substance and thus not subject to criminal drug penalties, and one of a handful of drugs that law enforcement officials and scientists say they have seen in increasing numbers in the last six months, as use, abuse and overdose deaths continues to rise.

Another, U-47700, which is seven to eight times stronger than morphine, has been the source of overdoses over the past year in at least 10 states since the first US incident was discovered in Knoxville, Tennessee, in June 2015. …

Top 10 Scandals That Rocked Royal Families

We’re all familiar with the scandals surrounding the likes of Princess Diana, her one-time husband, and their youngest son. But they aren’t the only royals with skeletons hidden away in the proverbial closet. Scandals have struck royal families all around the world, and every time, they cause huge sensations, giant headlines, and public outrage.

10. Prince Bernhard And The Lockheed Scandal

In 1959, the Dutch government was looking to build a new fleet of jet fighters. Needless to say, this contract would be worth millions. One company in particular, the Lockheed Corporation, began to pull out in front, and Lockheed officials looked to Prince Bernhard and his “business expertise” to encourage the Dutch government in their direction. Naturally, Bernhard charged a fee for this endorsement, and he was paid $1 million, which was discreetly sent to a Swiss bank account.

In reality, despite his genuine efforts, Bernhard had little influence on the final decision. Nevertheless, the Dutch government decided to back Lockheed, and the company was awarded the contract. Several years later in 1968, Lockheed was again looking to land a similar contract, so they went back to Bernhard for “consultation.” While Lockheed missed out on the contract this time, Bernhard was still paid $100,000 for his “work” during the negotiations. …

How Do You Know When You’re a Grown-Up?

At what moment can you classify yourself as an adult? This is a question we’ve explored at The Atlantic, and the answers vary pretty wildly. Contributing producer Brian Frank asked people of all ages for their responses, and recorded the answers in a short video. …

Doggone It, Why Do They Make It So Hard To Take A Pooch On A Plane?

It takes a village to move a dog.

In the past seven years, my family and I have moved to three continents: from Maryland to the Kenyan highlands in Nairobi then on to Kathmandu in Nepal’s Himalayas and, most recently, to Ankara in Turkey’s central Anatolian steppe. We’ve repeatedly packed our worldly belongings in a 40-foot-long container and then said goodbye for months as they’ve traveled by sea via multiple ports and then overland by truck to our next destination.

The container has had to navigate through pirate-infested waters, obtuse customs regulations and even complete border closures as when India blockaded Nepal’s southern land crossings to the outside world for five months.

But nothing has been as anxiety-producing, as logistically complex or as much of an adventure as moving Biko, our 94-pound Rhodesian Ridgeback. I’ve learned to mix military tactics with diplomatic finesse and, when all else fails, resort to easily summoned tears. The other lesson? I never could have done this alone. …

The Simpsons is confronting its biggest stereotypes in its 27th season

It’s done surprisingly self-critical episodes about the characters of Smithers and Apu

Every Sunday, we pick a new episode of the week. It could be good. It could be bad. It will always be interesting. You can read the archives here. The episode of the week for April 3 through April 9 is “The Burns Cage,” the 17th episode of the 27th season of Fox’s The Simpsons.

The Simpsons has lived long enough to see itself become the villain.

The series’ first episode aired in December of 1989, and befitting a show that has aired new episodes in four separate decades, it has a bunch of elements that feel very early ’90s. The series’ setting of Springfield occasionally incorporates modern technology, but for the most part, the internet, smartphones, and social media might as well not exist, if they’re not at the center of that week’s plotline.

But this extends to some of the show’s characters, who play around with stereotypes that fewer viewers were sensitive to back in the 1990s. In particular, the series has been hit by criticism of Apu, the Indian immigrant who runs Springfield’s convenience store, and Waylon Smithers, the long-suffering gay assistant of Mr. Burns. Apu is an out-and-out stereotype of an Indian immigrant, while Smithers has seemed stuck in an early ’90s conception of a gay man for some time.

But in its 27th season, The Simpsons is doing something about this problem — albeit half-heartedly. …


What did Roger Babson do with the fortune he made on Wall Street in the early 1900s? He devoted a considerable chunk of it to defeating what he called “Our Number One Enemy”—gravity.


One afternoon in August 1893, a young woman named Edith Babson drowned while swimming in the river near her home in Gloucester, Massachusetts. It wasn’t clear exactly what happened. She may have drowned trying to save a girl who couldn’t swim, or she may simply have drifted into dangerous currents without realizing it. Whatever the case, her 18-year-old brother Roger arrived at his own peculiar explanation for her death. “They say she was ‘drowned,’” he later wrote. “But the fact is that, through temporary paralysis or some other cause (she was a good swimmer), she was unable to fight Gravity, which came up and seized her like a dragon and brought her to the bottom. There she smothered and died from lack of oxygen.” …

Video Goodnesses
(and not-so-goodnesses)

Credit reports play a surprisingly large role in our lives, but even more surprising is how often they contain critical mistakes. John Oliver helps credit agencies see why this is a problem.

CAUTION: Some language may not be appropriate for work or children.

THANKS to HBO and Last Week Tonight for making this program available on YouTube.

“My good friend Ramiro just moved to Brazil. He had to come back to LA to pick up his Visa. When he and our friend Jesse arrived in LA, Jesse “called an Uber” which ended up being driven by me.”

CAUTION: Some language may not be appropriate for work or children.