October 27, 2016 in 4,259 words

Haunted by Its Past, Will the Stanley Hotel Have a Happy Ending?

The zombie invasion was sudden and swift. There were at least a hundred of them, with gaping flesh wounds and bulging eyes, moaning and dragging their feet as they scoured their surroundings for fresh brains.

It was an alarming sight for the bride and groom who happened to be taking wedding photos high up in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, poised on the steps of a 106-year-old hotel. And then the wedding couple was approached by two very specific zombies: a pair dressed as a bride and groom, drenched in blood. …


This Day In History: October 27, 1659

Although the Puritans partially came to America to escape religious persecution, there was an abundance of it to be found in the Massachusetts Bay Colony… except it was them doling it out this time. On the receiving end were the Quakers- members of the Religious Society of Friends, a group that the Puritan leaders generally felt represented the pinnacle of heresy.

The Quakers first came to the American colonies when 8 members of the religious sect arrived in Boston aboard the Speedwell on July 27, 1656. The following year, another 11 arrived aboard the Woodhouse.

The Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony certainly didn’t roll out the Welcome Wagon. In fact, they promptly arrested the Quakers upon arrival. Undeterred, the Friends were unapologetic in their efforts to spread their flavor of Christianity. …

Some Trump Voters Call for Revolution if Clinton Wins

Big crowds still mob Donald J. Trump when he comes to town, with fans waiting in long lines to attend his rallies, where they eagerly jeer his Democratic rival and holler happily at his message.

But beneath the cheering, a new emotion is taking hold among some Trump supporters as they grapple with reports predicting that he will lose the election: a dark fear about what will happen if their candidate is denied the White House. Some worry that they will be forgotten, along with their concerns and frustrations. Others believe the nation may be headed for violent conflict.

Jared Halbrook, 25, of Green Bay, Wis., said that if Mr. Trump lost to Hillary Clinton, which he worried would happen through a stolen election, it could lead to “another Revolutionary War.”

“People are going to march on the capitols,” said Mr. Halbrook, who works at a call center. “They’re going to do whatever needs to be done to get her out of office, because she does not belong there.”

“If push comes to shove,” he added, and Mrs. Clinton “has to go by any means necessary, it will be done.” …

The City of Brotherly Love Has Little for Trump

To black voters in Philadelphia, the Republican nominee seems detached from reality, and voting for him is an idea they won’t even entertain.

“Are you kidding me?” a middle-aged black man wearing a T-shirt and denim carpenter pants asked incredulously from behind his screen door. “Who do you think I’m voting for?”

He didn’t need to say her name to make it clear he was voting for Hillary Clinton. After all, his reaction seemed to suggest, why would a man like him vote for Donald Trump?

The Republican nominee’s performance among black voters during the 2016 presidential race has been astonishingly poor. An ABC News poll conducted over the weekend showed Trump trailing Clinton among nonwhites by 54 points, 68-14 percent, with only 3 percent of black voters favoring Trump over any other candidate for president.

But the Republican nominee continues to make the case that black Americans’ lives would be better if they were to choose him over his rival. He seems to believe, entirely inaccurately, that all black Americans live in inner-city communities, which he’s called “war zones,” and promised that he alone can make their neighborhoods safer and their schools better—that only he truly empathizes with their plight. In fact, the majority of African Americans live in the suburbs, and only 8 percent live in an area of concentrated poverty in large cities. …

10 Truly Disgusting Facts About Life In Ancient Egypt

Egypt is the land of pyramids and pharaohs, tombs filled with glittering treasures, and powerful men who ruled a country like gods. When we think of ancient Egypt, we think of the wealth and glamour of kings. But we usually leave out the dirty—and disgusting—details.

10. Lice Was So Bad That People Just Gave Up On Hair33

Most people shaved their heads in ancient Egypt. We know this from pictures and from records written by people in other countries who looked at Egypt’s fashion choices and puzzled over why Egyptians thought going bald was such a good look.

Today, though, historians are pretty sure they know why. Lice were everywhere in ancient Egypt. The tombs of Egyptian rulers are infested with lice, apparently flooding out from the remains of the bodies. …

Gary Johnson erupts when asked about his tax policy and the success of his rival

He lashed out at Evan McMullin, the independent presidential candidate who surpassed Johnson in Utah and is almost tied with Trump and Clinton there

The Libertarian candidate for president, Gary Johnson, has said the chance of Congress backing his economic policy is “probably pretty nil” and accused an independent rival of playing the role of “spoiler” in Utah.

Johnson lashed out at Evan McMullin, the conservative presidential candidate who has leapfrogged him in the state and now has a chance of becoming the first third-party or independent candidate for White House to win a state since 1968.

One recent poll showed McMullin almost tied with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in Utah. In contrast, Johnson, who set up his presidential campaign headquarters in Utah, is a very distant fourth.

“It’s a bit of a stretch to be comparing my candidacy with his,” Johnson said during a tense interview with the Guardian’s Anywhere But Washington series. …

The Battle for North Carolina

Political, social, and demographic forces in the battleground of North Carolina promise a reckoning with its Jim Crow past.

In 1901, America was ascendant. Its victory over Spain, the reunification of North and South, and the closing of the frontier announced the American century. Americans awaited the inauguration of the 57th Congress, the first elected in the 20th century. All the incoming members of Congress, like those they replaced, were white men, save one.

Representative George Henry White did not climb the steps of Capitol Hill on the morning of January 29 to share in triumph. The last black congressman elected before the era of Jim Crow, White, a Republican, took the House floor in defeat. He had lost his North Carolina home district after a state constitutional amendment disenfranchised black voters—most of his constituents. That law marked the end of black political power in North Carolina for nearly a century.

“This, Mr. Chairman, is perhaps the Negroes’ temporary farewell to the American Congress,” he declared, “but let me say, Phoenix-like he will rise up someday and come again. These parting words are in behalf of an outraged, heart-broken, bruised, and bleeding, but God-fearing people, faithful, industrious, loyal people—rising people, full of potential force.”

White rose to eulogize what the country had sacrificed for its newfound prosperity. “I am pleading for the life, the liberty, the future happiness, and manhood suffrage for one-eighth of the population of the United States,” he told the House. His pleas fell on deaf ears. …

10 Horrifying Tales Of Flesh-Eating Diseases

The idea of being devoured alive by an unseen nemesis is the most terrifying thing imaginable. Not only do these diseases cause fevers, nausea, and excruciating pain; they disfigure their victims, sometimes beyond recognition. With all victims have to deal with, death can seem a blessing.

10. Bairnsdale Ulcer

Bairnsdale ulcer is terrorizing Australia. It begins as a mosquito bite and soon spreads to gaping wounds that devour flesh, fat, tendons, nerves, and even bone. Epidemiologists believe it spreads to humans via mosquitoes on possums. They are uncertain whether the possums are the cause or just another victim. The disease incubates slowly, often emerging four months after the initial bite. The elbow, back, calf, and ankle are the most common areas targeted.

Bairnsdale ulcer has been known for decades. However, in the past three years, the number of cases in Australia has doubled. This year, Victoria has had 45 cases alone. Fortunately, a quick and effective test is available. If caught early, ulcers are easily treated. If not, it can lead to extreme pain and possibly amputation. …

Some Machines Are Flipping Votes, But That Doesn’t Mean They’re Rigged

Vote flipping. The stories and conspiracy theories have begun.

In every recent election, there have been reports of voters pressing one candidate’s name on a touch-screen machine, only to have the opponent’s name light up instead.

It can be unnerving for voters and often leads to allegations that the machines have been “rigged” to favor one candidate over another.

Enter election 2016, when the word “rigged” is more politically charged than ever. In the first few days of early voting, there are already scattered reports of vote-flipping machines in North Carolina, Texas and Nevada.

The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP sent a letter to the state’s board of elections Monday after voters complained that machines had flipped votes in five counties. The group noted that, in each case, the voter was able to correct the error before the ballot was cast. But it asked the board to remove malfunctioning machines and to post signs reminding voters to check their ballots before submitting them. …

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: The machines rely on outdated technology — some of it is from the 1990s — to calibrate the touch screens. And the hardware is starting to wear out.

The Only Cure for OCD Is Expensive, Elusive, and Scary

The best treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder forces sufferers to confront their fears. But for many patients, the treatment is far out of reach.

n exposure therapy, OCD patients obsessed with cleanliness might be encouraged to touch toilets.

Some days, Molly C.’s brain insists she can’t wear her work shirt. She realizes this is irrational; a uniform is required for her job at a hardware store. Nevertheless, she’s addled by an eerie feeling—like, “If you wear this shirt, something bad will happen today.” Usually she can cope, but a few times she couldn’t override it, and she called in sick.

She can’t resist picking up litter whenever she spots it; the other day she cleaned up the entire parking lot of her apartment complex. Each night, she must place her phone in an exact spot on the nightstand in order to fall asleep. What’s more, she’s besieged by troubling thoughts she can’t stop dwelling on. (She asked us not to use her last name in order to protect her privacy.)

Molly is a college student, but her symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder started when she was 14. Since then, a succession of therapists have failed to help her. They’ve told her, “I don’t really know how to treat this,” she said. Or, they talked to her about the possible source of her troubles. “It’s nice,” she said, “but eventually I’m like, ‘Okay, I can just talk to my sister.’” …


Lee asks: How many children have died from people poisoning Halloween candy?

Remember your mom sorting through your Halloween candy as a kid, looking for signs of ‘tainted’ candy laced with poison, needles or razor blades? It turns out, unless she was just using it as an excuse to steal the good candy before you got it, she was wasting her time. You are more likely to get attacked by a samurai sword wielding bear while trick or treating than be poisoned by a stranger. Further, it’s more likely that your Halloween candy will be poisoned or otherwise tampered with by one of your parents or family members, than a stranger. Think about that while your mom is “checking out” your candy before letting you eat it. 😉

So why all the worry? Because the news media needs something to talk about and there’s nothing better for ratings than saying something like “Is your child’s Halloween candy poisoned? Find out the deadly truth at 11!” …

World on track to lose two-thirds of wild animals by 2020, major report warns

Living Planet Index shows vertebrate populations are set to decline by 67% on 1970 levels unless urgent action is taken to reduce humanity’s impact

The number of wild animals living on Earth is set to fall by two-thirds by 2020, according to a new report, part of a mass extinction that is destroying the natural world upon which humanity depends.

The analysis, the most comprehensive to date, indicates that animal populations plummeted by 58% between 1970 and 2012, with losses on track to reach 67% by 2020. Researchers from WWF and the Zoological Society of London compiled the report from scientific data and found that the destruction of wild habitats, hunting and pollution were to blame.

The creatures being lost range from mountains to forests to rivers and the seas and include well-known endangered species such as elephants and gorillas and lesser known creatures such as vultures and salamanders. …

Researchers Clear ‘Patient Zero’ From AIDS Origin Story

It’s one of the biggest medical mysteries of our time: How did HIV come to the U.S.?

By genetically sequencing samples from people infected early on, scientists say they have figured out when and where the virus that took hold here first arrived. In the process, they have exonerated the man accused of triggering the epidemic in North America.

A team of researchers at the University of Arizona sequenced the HIV virus taken from Canadian flight attendant Gaetan Dugas, the man called “Patient Zero” in the best-selling book And the Band Played On, which chronicled the early days of the AIDS epidemic in America.

The scientists also sequenced the virus from eight other men infected with HIV during the 1970s. From these genetic codes, the scientists estimate HIV came to the U.S. from Haiti in 1970 or 1971, but it went undetected by doctors for years. …

The 5 Most Terrifying Serial Killers You’ve Never Heard Of

We’ve spent the last few years proving that not only do flamboyant killers exist outside the Crystal Lakes and Elm Streets of fiction, but that they also frequently exceed the limits of even our depraved imaginations. Isn’t that nice? It’s just so rare to see people go above and beyond these days — even if what they’re going above is “the law,” and what they’re going beyond is “the conventionally defined limits of evil.”

#5. Ahmad Suradji Is The Craziest Serial Killer You’ve Never Heard Of

Indonesian occultist Ahmad Suradji, also known as Nasib Kelewang, was a humble cattle breeder until his late father appeared to him in a dream one night and instructed him to murder 70 women and drink their saliva in order to become a mystic healer. As happens, from time to time.

But rather than wake up, think “That was a strange one,” and go about his normal day not murdering women and drinking their saliva, Suradji began murdering women and drinking their saliva. Suradji occupied a privileged position of trust as the local shaman, so women already flocked to his shack seeking his guidance. Suradji lured befuddled victims to a field and buried them waist-deep, then strangled them and drank their saliva to increase his otherworldly influence of the dark arcana. Then, to give the horror that extra-special twist that really sticks with you, Suradji buried the bodies in a sugarcane field, with their heads pointing right at his house.

As he demonstrated by re-digging the graves he dug years ago,
because Indonesia is an extremely trusting country.

Ransomware: The Next Big Automotive Cybersecurity Threat?

Dozens of researchers have now shown that it’s possible to hack in to a car and commandeer its controls. But in the real world, such dire automotive cyberattacks have yet to materialize.

That shouldn’t lull anyone into a false sense of security. Both terrorists and hackers pose a serious threat to connected automobiles—and as many as three-quarters of new cars are expected to have internet connectivity on board by 2020, according to John Carlin, assistant attorney general for national security at the U.S. Department of Justice. Carlin said many vehicles, including self-driving cars, may soon be in danger of having their systems compromised. Also recognizing the problem, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has just issued Cybersecurity Best Practices for Modern Vehicles, a guide for the auto industry.

“We’re on the cusp of a transformation, and the auto industry is at the front of that transformation,” Carlin said. “We can’t make the mistake again of not building in cybersecurity by design on the front end and preventing espionage or loss of life.” One of the most ominous cyber threats to cars could be the use of ransomware, a type of malware that literally locks users out of their systems–in this case, cars—until they pay a ransom to regain control. …

Toronto is proving to be a hotbed for machine learning

If you’re interested in learning about, investing in, or building a company involved in machine learning, Toronto should be on your radar. Here are five reasons why:

1. The Geoff Hinton Lab Mafia

If you’ve been following the industry, you likely know all about Geoff Hinton’s lab based out of the University of Toronto. But even if you haven’t been following the industry, you may have witnessed some of the excitement surrounding the 2012 Imagenet challenge, which represented a breakout moment for the lab — and the industry as a whole: Hinton’s lab demonstrated, for the first time in history, that computers could recognize images more accurately than humans could.

This achievement was not the product of an epiphanic moment but rather a result of the incredible talent coming through the lab year after year, with students building off each other’s ideas and breakthroughs. Many of these talented students are now considered world leaders in the field, and they hold important posts at the world’s most cutting edge organizations. …

10 Truly Strange Facts Surrounding Princess Diana’s Death

Of all the conspiracy theories of the last few decades, the ones that surround the death of former royal Diana are some of the most colorful. While it hasn’t been proven to any significant level that her death was anything other than a tragic accident, there are several intriguing aspects of the whole affair that can’t be simply dismissed. It is perhaps important to remember that the jury in the official inquiry into Diana’s death found that she and Dodi Fayed were unlawfully killed and not victims of accidental death, as much of the media reported at the time.

10. Swapping Cars At The Last Moment

Although they had used a particular Mercedes throughout the day of their deaths in Paris, when Diana and Dodi went to leave the Ritz Hotel shortly after midnight on the morning of August 31, 1997, a different Mercedes was sent to pick them up. Not only had the car been changed at the very last moment, but there was also no backup car present as there had been throughout the day and was standard practice for such security journeys.

There was also controversy regarding the seat belts and who was and wasn’t wearing them on that last journey. Everyone who knew Diana described her as a “habitual” seat belt–wearer, and they found it hard to believe that she was found to have not been wearing a seat belt. At the same time, the security officer in the vehicle, Trevor Rees-Jones, was found with his seat belt on—unusual for a security officer on such a high-profile job, given that standard practice was for them to not wear seat belts so as not to restrict their movements. …

The darker side of machine learning

While machine learning is introducing innovation and change to many sectors, it also is bringing trouble and worries to others. One of the most worrying aspects of emerging machine learning technologies is their invasiveness on user privacy.

From rooting out your intimate and embarrassing secrets to imitating you, machine learning is making it hard to not only hide your identity but also keep ownership of it and prevent from being attributed to you words you haven’t uttered and actions you haven’t taken.

Here are some of the technologies that might have been created with good-natured intent, but can also be used for evil deeds when put into the wrong hands. This is a reminder that while we further delve into the seemingly countless possibilities of this exciting new technology, we should keep our eyes open for the repercussions and unwanted side-effects. …

X-Rays Are Revealing the Mysterious Writings in Mummy Coffins

It’s a sleepy summer Friday at Lawrence Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source. The particle accelerator operates at a constant, gentle hum—quieter than you’d expect for a synchrotron that whirls electrons to just short of the speed of light. Most of the 40 experimental beam line stations lie empty.

But one X-ray beam is a hub of activity—an arts and crafts session, by the look of it. The researchers crowding the narrow galley huddle over scraps of papyrus paper, streaking them with metallic paint markers, pencils, and pens. They roll the samples up onto dowels, or crumple them up, or fasten them to each other in layers. The idea? Devise creative ways to hide the ink out of sight, and see if X-rays can uncover it.

It’s a space-age solution to an ancient problem. For more than a century, archaeologists have dismantled mummy coffins, also known as cartonnage, in a hunt for literary treasure. In ancient Egypt, undertakers entombed the departed middle-class in sheets of papyrus thrown out by local scribes, hiding the recycled wrapping with a layer of paint and plaster, or gesso. To uncover the text—everything from bills of sale to the rare castoff of Greek literature—collectors use invasive methods, including massaging intact coverings in a sink full of Palmolive suds.

The trouble is, it’s impossible to know if you’re searching for Sophocles or a shopping list before dissolving an artifact. …


Karla U. asks: I heard your podcast on how teflon was invented. You said it’s the third most slippery substance known to man. This makes me wonder how they get teflon to stick to pans?

Saving us from soaking, scraping and scrubbing, Teflon has been a lifesaver (or at least a hand-saver) for home cooks for the last 50 years. Comprised of a unique polymer that actually repels nearly every other material (the only known thing a gecko’s feet can’t stick to), the processes used to get this substance to adhere so well to a pan relies on sand, heat, a vacuum and sometimes even another chemical.

For the uninitiated, as noted previously, Teflon was created by accident in 1938 in Dupont’s Jackson Lab. Dr. Roy J. Plunkett had been playing around with refrigerants and compressed and froze a sample of tetrafluoroethylene which spontaneously polymerized. The waxy result of that experiment was polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Inert and, for a long time, “considered the most slippery material in existence,” PTFE became known as Teflon in 1945. …

Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

Stephen takes Pentagon leaders to task for trying to claw back the re-enlistment bonuses they paid to America’s veterans.

THANKS to cbs and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert for making this program available on YouTube.

“After a month in the Intensive Care Unit, we finally got a call that our dad would be getting a double organ transplant. In the intense early morning hours prior to our dad being brought into surgery, we decided to help pass time and try to relax our mom….so we decided to put her on a rollercoaster ride.”


The spy who couldn’t spell: how the biggest heist in the history of US espionage was foiled

Ever since childhood, Brian Regan had been made to feel stupid because of his severe dyslexia. So he thought no one would suspect him of stealing secrets.

The classrooms and hallways of Farmingdale High in Long Island were deserted on the morning of Saturday 19 August 2001, when a van pulled into the school’s parking lot. Turning off the engine, the driver – a tall man in his late 30s – stepped out into the warm summer sun. He cast a sweeping gaze upon the institution he had graduated from two decades earlier.

Whatever nostalgia he might have felt for his old school was tinged with bitterness. It was here that he had suffered some of life’s early humiliations: taunted by classmates for his apparent dimwittedness; held in low esteem by his teachers. If they remembered him at all, they would remember him as the boy who had difficulty reading. The boy who was so bad with spellings. His bearish frame may have protected him from physical bullying, but combined with his severe dyslexia and his social awkwardness, it had also cemented his image as a dolt.

That image had stuck with him, despite a successful career in US intelligence, where he had been given access to some of the country’s most valued secrets. Being underestimated – by family, classmates and colleagues – had been the theme of his life, a curse he had borne silently since childhood. But for the mission he had now embarked upon, it was a blessing. None of his co-workers or managers in the intelligence community could have imagined that he of all people was capable of masterminding a complex espionage plot. …