April 2, 2016


This Day In History: April 2, 742

Charlemagne, son of Pepin III and grandson of Charles Martel, is believed to have been born on April 2, 742. The first emperor in the West since Romulus Augustulus in 476, Charlemagne’s influence did much to shape the future of medieval Europe.

When Pepin died in 768, his kingdom was split between Charlemagne and his brother Carloman, who died three years later. Charlemagne also took over his dead sibling’s inheritance- central France and southwest Germany. By 774, he invaded Italy twice with the backing of the Pope, and added King of the Lombards to his resume. …

The rise of Donald Trump is a battle for the soul of the Republican party

A billionaire businessman is on the verge of completing a hostile takeover of the Grand Old Party, leaving insiders wondering – how did we get here?

After Mitt Romney failed to beat a vulnerable Barack Obama in 2012, a chastened Republican Party arrived pretty quickly at the answer to their electability problem.

They were the party of old, angry white men, and in a much-heralded Washington DC press conference in March 2013, senior officials released an “autopsy report” concluding that to win back the White House, the party needed to appeal to young voters, women and minorities.

Three years later, Donald Trump, who is historically unpopular among every one of those demographics, is the frontrunner for the party’s nomination. To paraphrase David Byrne, how did the Republican Party get here? …

It’s Probably First Ballot Or Bust For Donald Trump At The GOP Convention

At the prediction market Betfair on Friday morning, bettors put Donald Trump’s chances of winning the Republican presidential nomination at 56 percent. That’s down a fair bit — Trump had been hovering at about 70 percent after his win in Arizona (and loss in Utah) last week. Meanwhile, the likelihood of a contested convention according to bettors has considerably increased. There’s now a 63 percent chance1 that the convention in Cleveland will require multiple ballots, according to Betfair.

In other words, the markets are now betting on a contested convention. Not just a near-miss, where the nomination is resolved at some point between the last day of GOP primaries June 7 and the start of the convention July 18, but the thing that political journalists dream about: a full-blown contested convention where it takes multiple ballots to determine the Republican nominee.

Here’s the thing, though: Those markets don’t make a lot of sense. If you really think the chance of a multi-ballot convention is 63 percent, but also still have Trump with a 56 percent chance of winning the nomination, that implies there’s a fairly good chance that Trump will win if voting goes beyond the first ballot. That’s probably wrong. If Trump doesn’t win on the first ballot, he’s probably screwed. …

10 Musicians Who Mastered Bizarre Instruments

Mastering any type of instrument is no small feat. But some people seek greater challenges than those offered by modern music. After the following musicians got bored with conventional instruments, they dug up old ones from ancient history or created their own from scratch.

10. Novmichi Tosa ~ Otamatone

If you’ve spent much time on the Internet, you’ve likely encountered the otamatone. Created by Novmichi Tosa, the otamatone is an electronic, note-shaped instrument with an adorable face. To play the instrument, the user presses down on the neck and squeezes the instrument’s mouth to create an obnoxious squeak or a booming groan (depending on the instrument’s size).

Despite creating one of the most annoying instruments on the planet, Novmichi Tosa and his art collective, Maywa Denki, are actually musical maestros. Check out Novmichi on Mr. Knocky, one of his other instruments

The otamatone and Mr. Knocky are only a few of the insane musical gadgets used by Maywa Denki. Click here to see their performance with a symphony of their own bizarre creations. …

Bernie Sanders stops by ‘Late Show’ to rescue guy under Colbert’s desk

Feeling the Bern? If so, you’ll have to fast-forward to the 5:15 mark on this video to find where Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders makes a surprise appearance on the Late Show.

Once there, though, you’ll get to watch a fascinating, hilarious conversation about… superdelegates. And no, that’s not an April Fool. …

How Realistic Is Donald Trump’s Healthcare Plan?

Donald Trump’s propositions for healthcare reform would lead to a decline in quality and quantity of coverage across the country, explains Atlantic staff writer Vann R. Newkirk II. In this short video, we explore the hypothetical reality of TrumpCare and what it would mean for Americans—in short, a public health disaster.

10 Notorious Highwaymen From European History

European highwaymen were often idolized as dashing villains who captured the hearts of the people. Although some acted with charm, many more were so brutal or devious that they made their way into the history books.

10. Cartouche

Born in 1693, Cartouche was a French highwayman whose real name was Louis Dominique Garthausen. He eventually became known as Cartouche (“cartridge”). Starting his life of crime early, he was already a member of a local group of hooligans in his adolescence.

By his twenties, he had become the leader of a bandit group known as Cours des Miracles, which was the name of the slum district from which they operated. Cartouche raided the Versailles-Paris trade route, forcefully distributing wealth from the rich to the poor like Robin Hood. Despite his rough upbringing and dark nature, he was known to be a gentleman among his peers.

However, Cartouche soon found himself under the thumb of the law. He evaded capture until he was betrayed by one of his friends and caught unaware. Held in the Grand Chatelet prison, he tried to escape by tunneling into a neighboring basement while still wearing chains. But his chains made so much noise that the family’s dog began barking furiously and blew Cartouche’s cover. …

I’m a man and I have an eating disorder. That’s not a contradiction

Wentworth Miller’s brave Facebook post reminded me how difficult it is for men to talk about mental health and their bodies. But it’s an issue for millions of us.

I don’t remember the first time I purged. I remember it being a habit, a nightly ritual. I remember the pattern of the bathroom tiles in my parents’ house. White, diamond-shaped tiles, grout, the smell of toilet water – I spent a lot of time in there.

The anorexia and bulimia set in during my junior year of high school. But I didn’t have a name for it back then. Back then, it was the primal urge to be thin, to run as many miles as I could, to skip meals, to punish my body for eating.

It was my brain’s way of coping with the psychological trauma of growing up fat, a “never again” complex born of abuse, of being picked on and made to feel less than human. It was a mental illness. Though, again, I didn’t call it that. It stayed with me all the way up to my college years. …

Aliens Did Not Carve Mile-High Mounds On Mars, Climate Change And Strong Winds Did

Researchers have found that mile-high mounds in Mars were created by strong winds and climate change.

Because of climate change, water on Mars dried up and allowed massive winds to carve out large mounds over a billion years, according to University of Texas researchers. The process highlighted the role of wind in creating the landscape of the red planet.

“On Mars there are no plate-tectonics, and there’s no liquid water, so you don’t have anything to overprint that signature and over billions of years you get these mounds, which speaks to how much geomorphic change you can really instigate with just wind,” said graduate student Mackenzie Day of the University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences.

She said that the process is something that cannot occur on Earth because of other processes that overpower wind. …


Although yoga is something of a recent fad in the West, you’re probably aware that this system of gentle exercise and meditation has very ancient roots. What you might not know is just how ancient some aspects of yoga are, or how much yoga has changed on down through the millennia, with some of the most significant changes coming in just the last few hundred years. It’s a fascinating tale stretching through most of human history, with many twists and turns.

No one knows exactly when something like yoga was first practiced. Some believe that it has its roots in the Stone Age, drawing comparisons to similar practices of the time that sought to bring harmony to the communities of our ancient ancestors. There is no conclusive proof of this, however. …

Mike Holmes: Why worry about having a healthy home? For a healthier life overall

Did you know that April 7 is World Health Day? Neither did I, until one of my partners mentioned it to me.

World Health Day is about focusing on global health issues that affect people every day. As a contractor, I understand that the decisions we make on the job site as builders, contractors and tradespeople have a direct impact on the health and safety of the people who depend on us to get it right.

That’s the responsibility that every person who builds and works on a home carries when they get up in the morning — and the good ones do not take that responsibility lightly. …

How A Painkiller Designed To Deter Abuse Helped Spark An HIV Outbreak

When Kevin Polly first started abusing Opana ER, a potent prescription opioid painkiller, he took pills — or fractions of pills — and crushed them into a fine powder, then snorted it.

When Opana pills are swallowed, they release their painkilling ingredient over 12 hours. If the pills were crushed and snorted, though, the drug was released in a single dose.

“Just think about it,” Polly says, “12 hours of medicine, and, ‘BAM!’ you’re getting it all at once.”

But the drug’s manufacturer, Endo Pharmaceuticals, reformulated Opana in 2012. The new pills featured a coating that was intended to make them more difficult to abuse by crushing them into powder or dissolving them. …

8 Canned Meats Eaten And Reviewed Because GOD IS A LIE!

Have you eaten Spam? I figure most people have at least once in their lives. If not Spam, one of the Spamstitutes that’s out there. Do you know how many pseudo-Spams are available these days?

How is it possible the canned meat that no one outside of Hawaii willingly eats has been knocked off so many times? Is there something awesome here I’m missing out on? I had to find out. I lined myself up with a can of good ol’ American Spam, then some vulgar Canadian Kam, something called Klik, and the shrug in a can known as Luncheon Meat made by the good people at the “Fuck It, Whatever” corporation. I also grabbed a handful of other canned meats just because they were the next shelf over and look weird, including spicy pike, cod liver, and deviled ham in a can gift-wrapped with Satanic paper. If Satan’s selling your meat, I am on board. Let’s get this party started.

Round 1: The Unadulterated Test

For this round, we have nothing but what the god of canning provided for me. One slab of some kind of protein, straight outta the can. Nowhere to hide, no lies to tell. Just honest pseudo-meats.

First: Hereford Corned Beef

Oh look at it, look at that coating of newborn-esque vernix, like this little corned beef was just brought into the world and is now ready to start its offensive life on my plate. And don’t forget a glimpse to the bottom right there, that ever-so-slightly off-yellow, translucent globule clinging to the side of the beef slab like a gelatinous, salty remora. How could you not love it?

I cut myself a slice and tucked into the corned beef with all the urgency and desire of a cat being force-fed pineapple. It has the texture of tiny bits of cardboard and cat food that have been mulched together and reconstituted as a cube of something one person gives to another to express disappointment in their life choices. That plus grease. That cold, slick film grease that coats the inside of your mouth. …


What’s the Deal With Artificial Intelligence Killing Humans?

Your 101 guide to whether or not computers are going to murder us.

This seems like a rough time to be human: Artificial intelligences are beating us at Go, getting better at driving cars, and doing all sorts of other stuff. How much longer until they just rise up and kill us?

Longer than you might think, and though there are good reasons for caution and concern, a lot of the talk you hear about Terminator-type scenarios is excessively alarmist. Read an article on, say, the rise of robot butchers, and you’ll inevitably find commenters worrying that the system is going to go haywire and attack its human masters. Even when they’re a little joke-y, these responses tend to bear the trace of the old Luddite anxiety that machines are somehow fundamentally opposed to humanity.

If you really get into it with A.I. researchers, you’ll find that most of them aren’t really worried about murder-bots actively looking to KILL ALL HUMANS. Instead, they’re concerned that we don’t really know what we’re getting into as we rapidly engineer systems that we can barely comprehend, let alone control. It’s this concern that’s led Elon Musk—who’s supported all sorts of A.I. research—to describe artificial intelligence as an “existential threat.” He seems concerned that we may not be able to direct the forces that we’re calling into being. …

Lost for Words

A disease called primary progressive aphasia gradually robs people of their language skills while leaving their minds intact.

When I first start talking to Joanne Douglas, she speaks slowly but eloquently, with deliberation and confidence. But after ten minutes, I start to notice subtle changes. She repeats some of her words, just a few at first, and then more. Pauses and hesitations creep in. Once-seamless sentences become increasingly marbled by erms and uhs. She sounds tired. After thirty minutes, I know it’s time to wrap up the interview. On any given day, Douglas only has so many words to give, and she has given me plenty.

Douglas has primary progressive aphasia (PPA)—a brain disorder that robs people of their language skills. Unlike other aphasias (language impairments) caused by trauma or stroke, PPA is degenerative: It gets worse, slowly and inexorably. But unlike other degenerative conditions, like Alzheimer’s dementia, it leaves most of a patient’s mental faculties untouched. People can still plan, reason, and multi-task. Their memories stay healthy and their personalities remain unchanged, at least at first. …

10 Remarkable But Scary Developments In Artificial Intelligence

Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk have something in common, and it’s not wealth or intelligence. They’ re all terrified of the AI takeover. Also called the AI apocalypse, the AI takeover is a hypothetical scenario where artificially intelligent machines become the dominant life-form on Earth. It could be that robots rise and become our overlords, or worse, they exterminate mankind and claim Earth as their own.

But can the AI Apocalypse really happen? What has prompted reputable and world-renowned people like Musk and Hawking to express their concern about this hypothetical scenario? Can Hollywood films like The Terminator be right after all? Let’s find out why many credible people, even leading scientists, are concerned about the AI takeover and why it could happen very soon.

10. They’re Learning To Deceive And Cheat

Lying is a universal behavior. Humans do it all the time, and even some animals, such as squirrels and birds, resort to it for survival. However, lying is no longer limited to humans and animals. Researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology have developed artificially intelligent robots capable of cheating and deception. The research team, led by Professor Ronald Arkin, hopes that their robots can be used by the military in the future.

Once perfected, the military can deploy these intelligent robots in the battlefield. They can serve as guards, protecting supplies and ammunition from enemies. By learning the art of lying, these AIs can “buy time until reinforcements are able to arrive” by changing their patrolling strategies to deceive other intelligent robots or humans. …

William McGonagall: Worst Poet Ever

The Scottish poet Sir William McGonagall wrote prolifically in the 1800s, and was widely hailed as one of the worst in the world—his audiences would even throw rotten fish and produce at him while he performed. Scott Calonico, whose explorations of history through film we’ve featured many times on Atlantic Video, tells McGonagall’s story through a variety of interviews and excerpts from his terrible poems. “He’s a lazy poet,” says the University of Dundee lecturer Eddie Smalls. “He doesn’t try to find the right word, he just tries to find something that will rhyme.”

Intentionally Awful Photos Of ‘Dimly Lit Meals For One’

Beautifully lit, perfectly styled food photography is everywhere — in magazines, food blogs, and even Instagram, where your 10-year-old cousin is already expert at using natural light to make mom’s cooking look delicious. These images are usually carefully curated to project an image of an idealized existence where the chicken never burns and everyone is always smiling, perfectly coiffed round the table.

Dimly Lit Meals for One, a new book based off a popular Tumblr, serves up quite the opposite scenario. Author Tom Kennedy pairs grainy photos of barely (if at all) plated culinary monstrosities with a fictional tale about the sad-sack person who is likely eating it.

Real people submit the photos, often with a brief description of what the food in the image is — “because it’s not always very easy to tell,” Kennedy says. …

The Beautiful Inspiration Behind ‘The Simpsons’ Coming Out Episode

A longtime writer said the episode is a tribute to his son.

“The Simpsons” has never shied away from tackling gay and lesbian issues. This Sunday, a principal male character will come out of the closet, bringing the show’s embrace of the community to a new level.

The hotly-anticipated April 3 episode of “The Simpsons” is titled “The Burns Cage,” and in it, Waylon Smithers, will finally open up about his sexuality to the object of his affection, the conniving Mr. Burns. It’s not happily ever after, however, as Smithers (voiced by Harry Shearer) realizes his love may be unrequited. …


Melissa asks: Is honey considered vegan?

There’s a reason there’s the expression “busy as a bee.” These buzzing insects’ entire lives are dedicated to making sure the hive keeps humming and the next generation of bees are born. Worker bees are consistently building, cleaning and protecting their home. When they are not tending to the hive, they are foraging for food to feed the queen and drones. This food is a mixture of pollen, nectar, water and plant sap, which is eventually transformed into a honey, a favorite treat for both human and bee alike.

With vegan diets on the rise, rules and questions around this particular lifestyle are constantly being talked about. Perhaps one of the most debated issues among vegans is the question of honey. …

MapMyWalk reminds…

… that I’ve gone on 500 walks since September 4, 2014.

Video Goodnesses
(and not-so-goodnesses)

“Marble Mountain is a large marble machine still under construction. It consists of 25 sections that mesh together to form one kinetic sculpture. Every element is themed (or will be upon completion) to an aspect of my life or to something that I find interesting. It took 3 years to get to this point of being able to turn it on and watch it go, and I will continue to work on it and get it fully completed.”

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


Here’s the trailer…