March 26, 2016

“I’ll Walk Where I Damn Well Please”


Today in History: March 26, 1997

In the San Diego suburb of Rancho Santa Fe on March 26, 1997, police found 39 people dead in a spacious Spanish-style mansion from what appeared to be a carefully choreographed mass suicide.

It was quickly discovered that the deceased were all members of the “Heaven’s Gate” cult. They believed that the appearance of the Hale-Bopp comet was their cue to leave Earth to hook up with a spacecraft that would bring them to the next level of existence.

Marshall Herf Applewhite, a music teacher with serious mental health issues, and Bonnie Nettles, a nurse who treated him while he did a stint as an inpatient at a psychiatric hospital, founded the Heaven’s Gate cult in the 1970s. They preached to their followers that as Heaven’s Gate members they would shed their earthy bodies and ascend to higher levels of being. …

Tabloid Allegations Again Fly In A Political Campaign — And Why No One Can Look Away

This is what a campaign in the gutter looks like.

Once again, the political world is talking about a National Enquirer story.

The last time was during the 2008 presidential campaign when the tabloid alleged that Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards had fathered a child out of wedlock. When the rumor first surfaced, the media largely ignored it.

It turned out to be true.

This time around, the story involves Ted Cruz and allegations of multiple extramarital affairs. To be clear, the story quotes none of the alleged women involved nor does it even mention their names. It has not been substantiated by any other media outlet, including NPR.

And despite whether any of it is true, unlike the Edwards story, this one has been harder for the media to ignore. Why? Because Cruz himself brought it up. …

Ted Cruz sex scandal story leaked to National Enquirer by Marco Rubio “ally,” not Donald Trump, report says

But why would Rubio, with nothing left at stake, sponsor a smear campaign against the one GOPer who can stop Trump?

Maybe Donald Trump isn’t behind the Ted Cruz “sex scandal” story leak to the National Enquirer after all.

According to The Daily Beast, “for months and months, anti-Cruz operatives have pitched a variety of #CruzSexScandal stories to a host of prominent national publications.”

One such outlet was Breitbart News, which was shown “a compilation video of Cruz and a woman other than his wife coming out of the Capitol Grille restaurant and a hotel on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” a source inside the publication told The Daily Beast. (Leave it to a politician to keep a standardized booty call schedule.)

The Breibart source confirmed that they’d received the video from “a Rubio ally,” but ultimately decided against running the story because, “There was no way to verify the claims.” …

10 People Who Tried To Fake Their Own Deaths And Failed Miserably

If you’re going to fake your own death, there are a few basic but key steps you need to take if you want the scheme to be successful. The first is making people believe you are dead. The second step is that you move far away to a place where no one will ever recognize you. You should also get new forms of identification and change your appearance as much as possible. Then, it’s just a matter of laying low. Don’t get in trouble with the law, and stay out of the public eye.

While one would think that these are fairly easy rules to follow, they weren’t for the 10 people on this list. All of them somehow managed to screw up their diabolical plans by doing something stupid that got them arrested.

10. Michael Rosen

In 2010, 42-year-old Michael Rosen of Salem, Massachusetts, was due in court for driving with a suspended license. He was also facing charges because a former girlfriend accused him of stealing her credit cards and running up charges. In an incredibly shortsighted ruse, Rosen pretended to be his brother and said that Michael Rosen was dead. He even handed over a death certificate to a county judge. The judge accepted it and cleared Rosen of all charges.

At the time, Rosen was on parole, and his parole officer was surprised to learn that Rosen was dead. The officer had just seen Rosen the week before he supposedly died, and he seemed healthy. So the parole officer looked at the death certificate and noticed that there were a number of problems with it: A major one was that there wasn’t an official stamp on it. Secondly, there were a bunch of spelling mistakes and incorrect data. Saugus, which is a town in Massachusetts, was spelled “Saugas.” As for where Rosen was supposedly buried, it was “Temple Isreal Cemetery” instead of Temple Israel Cemetery, and Rosen supposedly died from “acute cardio-respiratory arrest” as opposed to acute cardiac respiratory arrest. …

‘Arrogant’ Clinton is proving to be a tough sell in Sanders-loving Seattle

Ahead of the Washington state Democratic caucus, hostility toward Clinton has grown as her campaign claims she has long championed progressive causes

In the heart of Sanders country, the struggle is not so much for votes now as votes later.

Bernie Sanders’ supporters are confident of victory in the Washington state Democratic caucus on Saturday driven by substantial support in Seattle, the first major city to pass a $15-an-hour minimum wage and home to the only socialist council member in the US. Seattle, which accounts for about one third of the vote in the state, has donated more money per capita to the Sanders campaign than any other large city.

But Hillary Clinton, who lost Washington state to Barack Obama in the 2008 primary, is edging ever closer to the Democratic nomination. And with the latest Bloomberg News poll showing Sanders in a virtual tie with Clinton across the US, her campaign has been treading the challenging path of taking on Sanders without alienating his supporters as she looks to the presidential election. It’s proving a difficult task in Seattle, where hostility toward Clinton has grown as her campaign pushed claims she has long been a champion of progressive causes. …

Thousands want GOP to let angry voters bring guns to Republican convention in case of ISIS attack

Having eapons at a hotly contested and potentially violent political event may sound like the mother of all bad ideas, but that hasn’t stopped some gun enthusiasts for starting a petition to do just that, reports.

Americans for Responsible Open Carry filed the petition with this week, and as of Friday morning it had garnered nearly 12,000 signatures.

According to the GOP’s policy on their website, “firearms and other weapons of any kind are strictly forbidden on the premises of Quicken Loans Arena,” where the convention will be held.

The petition claims that “Cleveland, Ohio is consistently ranked as one of the top ten most dangerous cities in America.”

But, “This doesn’t even begin to factor in the possibility of an ISIS terrorist attack on the arena during the convention. Without the right to protect themselves, those at the Quicken Loans Arena will be sitting ducks, utterly helpless against evil-doers, criminals or others who wish to threaten the American way of life.” …

10 Devastating Radiation Accidents They Never Tell You About

Humanity has been experimenting with nuclear power for decades, so it’s no surprise that a few accidents have occurred along the way. Actually, there’ve been more than a few. Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima are hardly the only times that people, power plants, or neighborhoods have been irradiated.

10. SL-1

Stationary Low-Power Plant No. 1 (SL-1) was a small nuclear reactor located at the Idaho National Laboratory, which is in southeastern Idaho. It began operation in 1958 as part of a prototype nuclear power plant for the military and was used to train nuclear technicians. SL-1 was housed inside a large steel silo.

On December 23, 1960, SL-1 was shut down for maintenance. It was scheduled to resume operation on January 4. Three men, John Byrnes, Richard McKinley, and Richard Legg, were responsible for preparing the reactor the night before. They arrived at around 4:00 PM.

Alarms went off at the laboratory’s firehouse at 9:01 PM. Firefighters arrived with radiation detectors and found nothing amiss. The control room looked perfectly normal, though none of the three men were there. When the firefighters began to approach the stairs leading to the silo, however, their detectors indicated dangerous amounts of radiation.

Soon, men equipped with radiation suits and better detectors arrived. Two of them reached the top of the stairs and finally got a look at the reactor. The inside of the silo was a nightmare. Water from SL-1 flooded the floor, which was also littered with debris. Byrnes lay dead in it, and McKinley lay nearby, moaning. Legg was still nowhere to be found. …

These unlucky people have names that break computers

A few people have names that can utterly confuse the websites they visit, and it makes their life online quite the headache. Why does it happen?

Jennifer Null’s husband had warned her before they got married that taking his name could lead to occasional frustrations in everyday life. She knew the sort of thing to expect – his family joked about it now and again, after all. And sure enough, right after the wedding, problems began.

“We moved almost immediately after we got married so it came up practically as soon as I changed my name, buying plane tickets,” she says. When Jennifer Null tries to buy a plane ticket, she gets an error message on most websites. The site will say she has left the surname field blank and ask her to try again.

Instead, she has to call the airline company by phone to book a ticket – but that’s not the end of the process. …

The Woman Who Revolutionized the Manhattan Art World

The gallerist Bernice Steinbaum is an instigator: she’s been described as a “fireball” and “overwhelming” by artists who’ve worked with her. A new documentary by Kristina Sorge goes inside Steinbaum’s tireless and lifelong efforts to champion the work of female artists and artists of color, at a time when their art was considered second-tier. In this short excerpt from the film, we’re introduced to Steinbaum’s colorful personality and worldview: “It’s all about aesthetics for me,” she proclaims. “These artists are artists by anybody’s standards…I want to choose those people who will make the annals of art history.” Sorge’s documentary is out now, you can purchase the full film on iTunes.


This Day In History: March 26, 1904

“Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends.” – Joseph Campbell

Joseph John Campbell, the renowned professor, author, anthropologist, speaker and mythologist was born on March 26, 1904 in White Plains, New York. He is best known for his work in the areas of comparative mythology and comparative religion, particularly for his theory of “the hero’s journey”. Many popular books, TV programs, and movies have been inspired by his scholarship. You may have heard of one in particular called “Star Wars.” …

Making the man: to understand Trump, look at his relationship with his dad

The art of understanding The Donald is in demand right now. His relationship with his father helped shape him – but they’re not as alike as you’d think.

The art of understanding Donald Trump is much in demand right now. What is his appeal? Why does he talk in that very recognizable cadence? What is his relationship with truth, exactly? And how does he manage to spout out such gibberish – especially in front of the editorial board of the Washington Post – and get away with it?

There are many possible angles of attack. We get op-eds about his alleged similarities with Hitler, about the era of Republican decadence, about how the media gives him too much attention. But one angle that largely goes unexamined is the place even the dimmest of therapists would start: his dad. And of course, there’s more to heredity than money. For example, there’s hair.

Everyone agrees that Frederick Christ Trump (the biblical middle name came from his mother’s family) was a more retiring sort than his son, Donald. But he was not immune to the siren song of hair dye. According to Gwenda Blair’s book The Trumps: Three Generations of Builders and a Presidential Candidate, he was, late in life, particularly fond of a shade of red that bore a hint of magenta. Photographs also reveal that Fred liked to wear his hair a little longer than the average man, combed up into a smooth wave away from the head. Stop me if this starts sounding familiar. …

Twilight of the Superheroes

The increasing darkness of Superman, Batman, and their brethren are indicators of the American public’s anxiety.

In his review of X-Men (2000), Roger Ebert begins with an evocation of the mythological gods of Ancient Greece, and ends with a plea to die-hard comic-book fans, whom he wishes would “linger in the lobby after each screening to answer questions.” Sixteen years later, viewed from a cinematic present overrun by the cape and cowl, Ebert’s words read as both prescient and portentous.

The rise of the superhero blockbuster, which began in earnest with the release of Spider-Man, in 2002, is comparably bifold, driven by two dissimilar but potent cultural forces: a civilization’s ancient, collective need for a self-defining myth, and the thoroughly modern drive to commodify that desire. Superheroes have become the contemporary American equivalent of Greek gods—mythic characters who embody the populace’s loftiest hopes, its deepest insecurities, and flaws. Between 2016 and 2020, an estimated 63 comic-book adaptations will receive a major theatrical release, with scores more scheduled to take the form of TV shows, video games, and every salable medium in between. The public’s appetite for these properties appears blind and bottomless, its stomach willing to rupture long before it’s sated. If American culture is indeed in a state of decline, these are the stories built to survive its demise. …

We Draw Furry Porn: 6 Things We’ve Learned On The Job

Some of the people reading this have no idea what “furry porn” even is. Some of the people reading this have furry porn open in another browser tab and their shirt is concealing several furry porn tattoos. Well, to catch everyone up: It’s a genre of artwork that depicts humanoid animals performing sex acts that would in many cases be physically impossible in our universe. The audience is a group of people who in real life often assume an animal persona, often in costume, and sometimes for sexual purposes. Here’s a tame one in which both partners still have their jockstraps on:

If you think about it, it’s not much more implausible than pizza delivery guys constantly getting laid.

There is a lot of this on the Internet. A lot. And that immediately raises the question: Who in the hell draws this stuff? We decided to find out. We talked to six artists, who told us what it’s like to make a living filling this niche.

#6. You Negotiate Ejaculation

Most furry porn is done on commission. The client emails the artist a description of what they want to see, often along with reference material (“can you make it look like Matisse’s ‘Blue Nude,’ but as my cow persona with a boner?”). Then the artist arts it up and the client gets a chance to request revisions. It’s the adult elements where people tend to get picky.

People are paying good money (commissions run from 10 bucks to several hundred dollars, depending on the complexity) for art that’s providing them pleasure, so it makes sense that they want every detail to be perfect. But porn is first and foremost still a business, so you end up having very professional, polite, and emotionless conversations about making a camel’s nipples bigger or having a squirrel ejaculate further. Arania, an artist who specializes in human-to-animal transformations, described the most common sticking points:

“[Penis size and ejaculate] are some of the most common and easiest to edit, fortunately. Some customers are very particular about the body build: ‘Can you make her torso a little thicker?’ Or, ‘Can you make the arms more heavily muscled?’ I also get requests for tweaks of the facial expressions, like a character’s mouth open in a shout instead of closed. Some people also really enjoy the clothes-tearing aspect of a transformation, so I get, ‘Can I see some more clothes ripping here, more scraps of bursting clothes?'”

“Bigger pokeballs, please.”

Elect Hillary Clinton and we’ll all find out what’s hiding in Area 51

Bill Clinton didn’t see anything in those files, but his wife will look again.

Some polls have suggested that as many as 50 percent of Americans believe UFOs of extraterrestrial origin have visited Earth, and the percentage appears to be higher among Democratic voters. So perhaps Hillary Clinton was playing to her voters Thursday night when she appeared on Jimmy Kimmel’s late night talk show on ABC.

In comments first reported by the Daily Caller, Kimmel mentioned the first thing he would do as president would be to rifle through the Area 51 files with the aim of finding out what the government knows about aliens. He also mentioned he’d asked Bill Clinton about that, and the 42nd president said he had looked and didn’t find anything. …

Who’s the Most UFO-Friendly Presidential Candidate?

Today while the political world is fixated on a salacious tabloid story about Ted Cruz, eccentric news site operator Matt Drudge is concerned about aliens. He’s not the only one.

“They can bullshit me all they want but I’m not going to play the government’s game,” Stephen Bassett, Capitol Hill’s only registered extraterrestrial lobbyist, tells me. “This isn’t about ‘UFOs.’ The government uses that acronym in order to prevent disclosure,” he says. “‘Extraterrestrial craft’ is the proper term.”

Bassett is, as you might imagine, passionate on the subject—perhaps too much so. He told me that the acronym “UFO” itself is a slur used to “ghettoize” those who seek the truth, and compared it to racial slurs—specific ones, in fact, which he was not shy about using. Considering how many of his fellow truth-seekers use the term, it’s hard to avoid entirely. …

10 Bizarre Traditions Of Love That Are Lost In History

Today’s traditions of love—holding hands, kissing, going on dates, and sending flirty text messages—seem rather simple and not at all unusual. Even dating apps, which might have been seen as controversial and even strange before, have become part of most young people’s everyday lives today.

When we think about the past, we don’t expect to come upon any outrageous or strange love traditions. However, there are plenty. Below are 10 bizarre love customs from the past. Would you like any of them to return?

10. Vinegar Valentines

Mean Valentine’s Day cards, also known as “Vinegar Valentines,” emerged in the 1800s and were used for humiliation purposes. A complete opposite to the ordinary Valentine’s card, a Vinegar Valentine was a cheaply made card with a satirical image as well as a four- or six-line verse which described and mocked the personality of the recipient. There was a card for every insult you could think of, from baldness to status. More extreme cards even suggested that recipients kill themselves. The targets of these cards were varied and could include neighbors, enemies, bosses, teachers, or simply those whose advances you wanted to dismiss.

One Vinegar Valentine, for example, portrays an image of a quizzical bald man around whose head a swarm of insects, possibly flies or moths, circle about. The little poem underneath the illustration reads:

Bald Head. Your bright shining pate is seen at all shows
and invariably down in the bald-headed rows
where you make conspicuous by your tender care
your true ardent love for that one lonesome hair.

Microsoft apologizes for ‘offensive and hurtful tweets’ from its AI bot

How Tay became an AI garbage fire

Microsoft today published an apology for its Twitter chatbot Tay, saying in a blog post that a subset of human users exploited a flaw in the program to transform it into a hate speech-spewing Hitler apologist. Author Peter Lee, the corporate vice president of Microsoft Research, does not explain in detail what this vulnerability was, but it’s generally believed that the message board 4chan’s notorious /pol/ community misused Tay’s “repeat after me” function. So when Tay was fed sexist, racist, and other awful lines on Twitter, the bot began to parrot those vile utterances and, later, began to adopt anti-feminist and pro-Nazi stances. Microsoft pulled the plug on Tay after less than 24 hours.

Lee says Tay is the second chatbot it’s released into the wild, the first being the Chinese messaging software XiaoIce, an AI now used by around 40 million people. “The great experience with XiaoIce led us to wonder: Would an AI like this be just as captivating in a radically different cultural environment?” Lee wrote. In retrospect, it’s no surprise that the cultural environment in question — English-speaking Twitter — resulted in Tay mimicking some of the worst qualities of the internet, including online harassment. “We are deeply sorry for the unintended offensive and hurtful tweets from Tay,” Lee added. Microsoft is working on fixing the vulnerability before bringing Tay back online. …

Do not blame Google Maps when you tear down the wrong house

I think it’s a good thing to give people second chances, and often even third and fourth chances, and to be accepting of people’s mistakes, because mistakes happen and everyone makes them and often life goes on. But if you are tearing down someone’s house, please take the time to confirm you are tearing down the correct house. And if you fail to do that — destroying someone else’s home in the process — please at least own up to the mistake instead of pinning the blame on Google Maps.

This absurdity is what is happening in Rowlett, Texas right now, where a woman’s duplex was destroyed because a demolition company failed to confirm it was on the right street, according to KERA News. A company making a mistake of this magnitude should probably accept responsibility. It was supposed to demolish one house and clearly demolished another. There is no disputing this. But rather than shouldering the fault for this error, someone from the company apparently pointed to screenshots of Google Maps, which mistakenly lists the woman’s duplex at the address that was scheduled for demolition, WFAA reports. …


Today I found out why sideburns are named as they are.

It turns out, despite this particular brand of facial hair style being around as far back as at least 100 BC (with one of the earliest known instances being in a mosaic of Alexander the Great), sideburns were named after a specific man in the late 19th century.

The man was politician, businessman, and Union Army General, Ambrose Burnside. Burnside sported a slightly unusual facial hair style with particularly prominent “mutton chop” sideburns connected to a moustache, while keeping his chin shaved perfectly clean. …

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