June 20, 2016 in 3,807 words



This Day In History: June 20, 1900

As is often the case when a rebellion seemingly erupts out of nowhere, the impetus for the Boxer Rebellion in China had been brewing for quite some time. As the 19th century drew to a close, the Chinese were smarting from a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Japanese, a nation that China had never considered in their league. It was hard to feel superior to Japan when they had lost control of both Korea and Formosa to the much smaller country.

The Chinese were also fuming with the Europeans who had infiltrated their country and were dominating both domestic and foreign affairs, while treating the Chinese dismissively at best and as slave labor at worst. Many of the upper class Chinese believed that the European presence in their country was the very reason for Japan’s victory. All of this anger led to a rise in nationalism and a strong desire to reclaim their country by ousting all foreigners. …

The Orlando 911 Transcripts

The FBI released redacted excerpts of the conversation Omar Mateen had with police negotiators on June 12.

The FBI released Monday partial transcripts of the conversations between the police and Omar Mateen before he killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 12. The transcripts provide little new information on what happened inside Pulse nightclub, and, in fact, name neither the shooter nor the group to which he pledged allegiance.

Here’s his first call with a police dispatcher:

Click image to embiggen

Soon after that, the shooter spoke three times with the Orlando Police Department’s crisis-negotiation team. …

The Hillary Clinton Doctrine

Her response to the massacre in Orlando reveals the type of commander in chief she would be.

With last week’s massacre in Orlando, Florida, the dread of terrorism and the anxiety of national security threats across the unstable globe broke through to the surface of our grim-enough electoral politics. The mass shooting also offered a preview of how the two parties’ presumptive candidates might handle a crisis.

The Republican, Donald Trump, proved himself an empty suit with a loud mouth, a set of dangerously shallow ideas, and an ego enormous enough to mistake them for wisdom. Hillary Clinton delivered a very different sort of speech. She was measured and thoughtful, unifying in places and aggressive in others, scrupulous about getting the analysis and the action right. You might call it a “presidential” address.

But what kind of president—what kind of commander in chief—did it suggest she might be, and how did it align with her long-standing positions on national security issues? How would her approach differ from the legacy of Barack Obama or the specter of Trump? How would those differences—not just in general rhetoric but in specific actions—shape American policies and the world they touch? Can one detect in her response to Orlando the outlines of a “Hillary Clinton doctrine”? …

10 Implausible Technologies From Fiction That Are On Their Way

Perhaps the greatest joy of fiction lies in its ability to transport us beyond our mundane world into spectacular new realities where anything is possible. Beyond the pure thrill, the best fiction can embolden us to dream of what may be possible in the future and inspire the brightest among us to achieve the remarkable. It’s not that we hope the aliens really do invade, but we’ve always kind of wanted a real-life laser gun . . . you know, just in case.

Well, after compiling this list, we may have reconsidered. These are wildly far-out technologies we never really expected to see in real life that nevertheless may soon be upon us, whether they are good ideas or not (spoiler: mostly not).

10. Deleting Or Replacing Memories

For some time, neurologists have known that the brain is not the biological hard drive that we may perceive it to be, with our experiences etched indelibly as memories. Rather, memories are not so much created as recreated, over and over, through a process known as memory reconsolidation.

When an event is recalled, it is essentially recalibrated and refiled in the brain, often (if not always) colored by the mood and mindset at the time of recall. This is how memories become unreliable. It is also how traumatic memories become less so over time as the initial emotional reaction to the event (the trauma) is adjusted according to the emotional state at the time of recall. This is, of course, particularly effective in guided therapy.

More recently, a link has been made between a certain protein (known as “PKMzeta”) and the retention of memories. Certain drugs (“PKMzeta inhibitors”) have had success with blocking unwanted traumatic memories in patients by—wait for it—inhibiting PKMzeta production, which has the effect of severely limiting long-term recollection. …

John Oliver lambastes lawmakers for continuing to block gun research as the bodies pile up

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

On Sunday evening, Last Week Tonight host John Oliver picked up where he left off last week, this time using the mass shooting in Orlando to delve into why lawmakers consistently refuse to pass sensible gun laws, with the HBO host pointing the finger at the usual suspect: the NRA.

Describing the NRA as “like PETA, but for guns, and effective,” Oliver explained how the gun organization keeps lawmakers in line, not only through contributions, but by effectively organizing their members to inundate their congressmen with phone calls demanding they do nothing about our porous gun laws.

“Here we are again,” Oliver stated. “After another mass shooting, with weak legislation doomed to failure. And there is clearly a disconnect between public opinion which favors, to varying degrees, a number of different gun control measures and any practical action in Washington.” …

John Oliver Clears Up Brexit Confusion With A Catchy New Tune

How do you tell Europe exactly how you feel? Say it with a song!

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

Confused about Brexit, or why Britain would hold a referendum about whether to leave the European Union?

John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” has some answers that should clear things up.

“There is an innate British desire to tell Europe to go fuck itself,” Oliver said. “I feel it too.” …

10 Intriguing Mysteries Lurking Beneath The Ocean

While many people look to space with awe, we forget that an incredible vista of unexplored wonder is much closer to home, waiting for us to dive into. Miles beneath the water, there could be many sights we have never imagined. As we continue to improve our technology, more of the ocean’s beauty will be laid before us, but the oceans will likely still contain countless mysteries.

10. The Large Amorphous Creature On Camera Near An Oil Rig

Recently, a video passed around online showed a giant, amorphous, blob-like creature floating near a deep drilling oil rig. The creature pulsated nearby for quite some time, catching the attention of pretty much everyone. It looked almost to be lit from within, and it was incredibly sized, rippling around and constantly changing shape. Some speculated that it was a completely unknown and massive creature from the depths of the ocean. Others even speculated that it may be proof of some kind of alien presence—as a certain sort of people do at every possible opportunity.

However, researchers were quick to point out that the creature wasn’t particularly mysterious. It was, as some on the Internet guessed, an absolutely gigantic jellyfish. The researchers even pointed out that as the creature pulsed and rippled, you could see evidence of its reproductive organs, and they were able to identify the species as something already well known to science. …

Congress votes on gun control as Sandy Hook families head back to court

• Breakthrough on background checks and terror list sales unlikely
• Elementary school shooting families sue gun makers and sellers
Can the US break its cycle of gun control failure?

A renewed debate over gun laws will take center stage in Washington on Monday, as the Senate prepares to hold rare votes on new firearm restrictions. On the same day, family members of those killed at Sandy Hook in 2012 will return to court in Connecticut, as part of a lawsuit against the maker, distributor and dealer of the AR-15-style assault rifle that was used in the elementary school massacre.

Gun control, a politically toxic issue, reared its head once more after the 12 June attack on an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in which 49 people were killed and 53 more injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting in US history. Senate Democrats responded by mounting a near-15-hour filibuster, with the aim of securing votes on expanding background checks and barring suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms. Those votes are set for Monday evening.

With Republicans offering competing measures on both proposals, a breakthrough remains unlikely. None of the four amendments on offer is expected to clear the 60-vote threshold. A nearly identical vote was held in December, yielding no result. That vote was spurred by the San Bernardino shooting, in which two shooters killed 14 and injured 22 at a holiday party. …

Can the US break its cycle of gun control failure?

After the Orlando attack, a Guardian investigation into the deadlock over gun laws begins today with the parents of Sandy Hook, who took the tough decision to fight for policies that would not have saved their own children

When Barack Obama met in Orlando with yet another set of anguished families who had lost loved ones in a mass shooting, there was one distressingly simple question: “Why does this keep happening?”

It is a question asked around the world about gun violence in the United States – answered most often with a helpless shrug, and almost ritualistic manoeuvring as people on all sides take up entrenched positions.

Does a country with more than 30,000 gun deaths every year simply lack the will to change? And if reform of US gun laws could not happen after the desolation of 2012 when 20 first-graders were killed at Sandy Hook elementary school, is this a nation trapped in a perpetual cycle of failure?

This week, the Guardian will explore just what makes the politics of gun control so difficult. We will ask whether the assault weapons ban is the right target for reformers, why gun rights activists oppose “common-sense” measures, and what can be done to change the conversation in order to save American lives. …


Jeremy W. asks: Is it true that drinking tea made from twice boiled water is bad for you?

There’s a rather persistent idea that “reboiling” water (i.e. boiling water two or more times and allowing it to cool in-between) while making a cup of tea is potentially harmful to your health, with some going so far as stating that regularly doing this even drastically increases your chances of getting cancer. The general reasoning behind why this is purportedly the case goes something like this:

When we boil water, the chemistry of it changes, which is usually a good thing as it boils out volatile compounds and dissolves gases. This is why boiling water mostly ensures that it’s safe to drink. If water is left boiled too long or is reboiled, the chemical compounds change for the worst. By leaving your water to boil down, you’re actually concentrating many harmful chemicals instead of getting rid of them. The same thing happens when you reboil water, as the compounds concentrate and increase the risk of ingesting certain chemicals.

The website we gleaned this particular quote from goes on to suggest that reboiling water will expose you to toxic amounts of things like arsenic, fluoride and nitrates, and even includes the words “reboiled water causes cancer” right there in its URL …

November is fast becoming what the GOP fears: A referendum on Trump

The hole that Donald Trump has dug for himself keeps getting deeper. On nearly every front, his position continues to deteriorate. Unless he reverses course, Republicans are heading toward a wrenching week at their convention in Cleveland next month, and potentially worse in November.

National polls alone provide an incomplete picture of the current state of the presidential race, but the shifts over the past few weeks should make Republicans beyond nervous.

What looked like a tight contest between Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in late May has morphed into a Trump deficit that cannot be wished away.

The RealClearPolitics poll average now gives Clinton a lead of almost six percentage points over Trump, a marked shift from a month ago. Perhaps even more telling is that every poll on the RCP list that was conducted entirely in June showed Clinton leading. That’s a change from May, when several polls showed Trump leading narrowly. …

AP FACT CHECK: Facts undercut Trump post-Orlando arguments

Donald Trump says the United States admits Syrian refugees without checking their backgrounds and that Hillary Clinton wants to allow “radical Islamic terrorists to pour into our country.”

Neither is so, part of a pattern of exaggeration that strains the credibility of his argument since the Orlando nightclub shooting that the U.S. faces apocalyptic danger from Muslim immigrants.

Trump’s rhetoric has been slashing, polarizing, passionate and at times illogical. He confuses immigrants with refugees and overlooks the fact some extremists are U.S. citizens. He speaks as if the U.S. border is a gate wide open. And his numbers are off.

It’s a given that hyperbole comes with Trump territory. He’s acknowledged that exaggeration for dramatic effect is part of how he rolls. It’s how he connects at a gut level with supporters who look past mangled facts to what they see as a larger truth, while opponents stand back aghast. …

4 “Common Sense” Cures That Are Total Snake Oil

The common cold is so common that we put “common” in its name. If it was like consumption, then we might call it the uncommon cold, or even the rare one. But no, that shit is common. Basic bitch disease is what it is, and that’s how we treat it. We don’t respect the cold. We start getting a cough and a runny nose, and what do we do? Pull some straight bullshit like stocking up on vitamin C and zinc. Well, good luck with that, because all those common-sense cures for common illnesses are as basic bitch bullshit as the illnesses themselves. By which we mean lies. Ineffective lies.

#4. Vitamin C

According to the internet, you can cure cancer with vitamin C, but only if you read the headline and not the body of any scientifically sound article on the subject. Because the body will then explain how they’ve used vitamin C in trials for about 40 years now, and have never cured cancer with it a single time. Though it did seem to maybe have luck slowing the rate of cell growth once … with a super high dose of intravenous vitamin C. But your Flintstones chewables will probably do the trick if you double up.

Why does everyone and their uncle still think Vitamin C can cure cancer, leprosy, and gout? One man: Linus Pauling. The guy was a veritable genius for a portion of his career, and he won two different Nobel Prizes all on his own. It’s just that one day, another doctor who had gotten his PhD from an unaccredited correspondence school told him that 3,000 mg of Vitamin C a day would make him live another 25 years, and he bought it. He bought it so hard that he wrote books about it telling everyone else to do it while he was up to 18,000 mg a day. That is some “sell the cow to a maniac in exchange for some magic beans” shit.

The face of a man doing 300 times the “required” dose.

Why Elizabeth Warren Is Making Wall Street Donors Nervous

Some have threatened to pull donations if she’s picked as Hillary Clinton’s running mate, according to a Politico report.

As Hillary Clinton’s campaign begins to vet possible VP picks, there’s one name on the list that is making Wall Street donors nervous: Elizabeth Warren.

The Massachusetts senator has been floated as a possible VP pick since before she announced she’d back Clinton. Warren was a coveted endorsement for the presumptive Democratic nominee, who is seeking to garner the support of Sanders’s voters. As my colleague Nora Kelly noted, Warren’s “endorsement had been anticipated as the campaign of her progressive compatriot, Bernie Sanders, winds down. It’s a loaded one: Warren has perhaps a singular capacity to united the Sanders and Clinton crowds—except for Sanders himself.”

But Warren’s anti-Wall Street position is troubling to some donors. A Politico report published on Monday relayed those concerns:

A constant theme that emerged in the interviews is that executives in the financial industry believe the first 100 days of a Clinton administration could feature potential deal making with Republicans, who are likely to maintain their majority in the House of Representatives.

The dream deal for Wall Street would be a combination of targeted infrastructure spending that appeals mostly to Democrats and corporate and international tax reform that could bring Republicans along. The fear is that Warren would make such a deal more difficult.

Summer Solstice 2016: When is the longest day of the year? What is the ‘Strawberry Moon’?

This year’s solstice coincides with the Strawberry Moon – a once-in-a-lifetime occurence

The summer solstice is the longest day of the year, a day falling around late June when there are approximately 17 hours of light.

The name comes from the Latin solstitium meaning “sun stands still”. It happens because the sun stops heading north at the Tropic of Cancer and then returns back southwards.

In the northern hemisphere this means the days begin to get shorter.

But 2016 is a special year, because the solstice coincides with the Strawberry Moon, a once-in-a-lifetime occurence. …

10 Bizarre Things Our Ancestors Did For Fun

Our ancestors did some strange things out of boredom that we today would have trouble getting our heads around. Once upon a time, people burned cats for fun and thought competitive walking was the height of entertainment. No matter how hard we try, we may never be as crazy as our grandparents.

10. Cat Burning

In today’s world, the killing of some animals is met with immediate outrage. In 17th-century France, cat burning was a form of entertainment.

Every year, Parisians gathered during midsummer bonfire in Place de Greve to play, dance, and sing. To make the gathering more interesting, the crowd gathered live cats into sacks, hung them over the fire from a mast, and watched them die slowly. The cats were chosen for their supposed link to the devil and witches. Sometimes, a fox was thrown into the fire. While the poor animals shrieked and cried, the people partied. …

Can Magic Mushrooms Cure Addiction?

Kathleen Conneally successfully quit smoking, after a decades-long habit, with the help of psilocybin. Conneally was a participant in a study at Johns Hopkins University looking at whether nicotine addiction could be treated by psilocybin, the active compound in magic mushrooms. In this short video, staff writer Olga Khazan speaks with Conneally about her experience and uncovers the science of how psychedelics work in the brain to make this possible.

Welcome To Mongolia’s New Postal System: An Atlas Of Random Words

It is tough to be a postman in Mongolia.

The country is among the world’s most sparsely populated — twice the size of Texas with about one-tenth the state’s population of about 27 million. Its roads, even in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, often lack well-known names, making navigation difficult and street addresses unreliable. To make matters even more complicated, about a quarter of the country’s residents are nomadic, with no permanent homes.

All of that means it can often be incredibly challenging for the Mongol Post to locate people.

Things are looking up, though. The Mongolian government has partnered with a British startup called What3Words to overhaul its postal and address systems. Now, instead of an address — like, say, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. — each 9-square-meter plot in Mongolia will receive its own three-word identifier. …


Survivor and The Real World may have seemed innovative at the time they debuted, but they owe a huge debt to a show that hasn’t aired since 1973 and has largely been forgotten, despite being named one of the greatest shows of all time by TV Guide. Here’s the story of the show that started it all.


In 1971 a documentary film producer named Craig Gilbert came up with a novel idea for an educational TV show: film the lives of four American families in four different parts of the country—the West Coast, the Midwest, the South, and the East Coast. A different film crew would be assigned to each family and would film their lives for four straight weeks, from the moment the first person got up until the last person went to bed. Many hours of footage would be filmed, then it would be edited and condensed into four one-hour documentaries, one on each family. The documentaries would be broadcast on PBS.

Television programming was a lot different in those days—for years viewers had been fed a steady diet of decidedly unrealistic family shows like Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best, The Waltons, and The Brady Bunch. Gilbert figured viewers might be interested in a new aspect of American family life: reality. …

Video Goodnesses
(and not-so-goodnesses)

The first installment of Project Binky. Can two basket cases from Shropshire create one serious Mini?

We’re attempting to build the fastest Mini on the planet. The plan is to try and shoehorn all the engine and running gear from a Toyota Celica GT4 into a rotten Mini. Can we do this monster engine swap? Can we build an Austin Mini GT4? Join us on this roller coaster ride of a build.

There are currently twelve episodes of Project Binky on the Bad Obsession Motorsport YouTube channel.

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

We would have CRUSHED it in the 1770’s.

Watch a soda can rip itself apart in a fiery explosion at 11,000fps with a Phantom high speed camera. Running a current through a coil, produces an electromagnet. Turn up the voltage in this experiment, and make that current strong enough, and your electromagnet can rip a soda can in half. Or rather, make the can rip itself in half! This video was filmed at Arc Attack Studios in Austin, TX with Joe Hanson, Joe DiPrima, John DiPrima and Darren Dyk.

Any judge will do as long as they don’t like diet coke, other judges, corn, Kristen Stewart or newspapers.