May 5, 2016

Found Under My House


This Day In History: May 5, 1945

On May 5, 1945, Reverend Archie Mitchell and his pregnant wife Elsie had driven up to Gearhart Mountain with five of their Sunday school pupils (aged 11-14) to enjoy a picnic lunch. They encountered a road closure due to construction in Bly, Oregon. Elsie and the kids got out of the vehicle to find a suitable place to set up their meal while Archie parked the car and chatted with several members of the work crew.

While scouting out the perfect picnic spot, Elsie and the children, who had wandered about 100 yards away, happened upon a strange looking balloon on the ground. As Mrs. Mitchell was calling to her husband, according to the Oregon newspaper, The Mail Tribune, yelling, “Look what I found, dear,” the object exploded. …

Donald Trump: blame game begins among fellow Republicans

Eleven months ago, the businessman’s candidacy seemed like a sideshow; now, he’s the likely GOP presidential nominee. How did the country get here?

As the news sinks in, a palpable sense of shock is settling over much of America of the sort normally reserved for the day after major natural disasters. Donald Trump, the real estate tycoon once known primarily for his mop of orange hair, perma-tan and catchphrase “You’re fired!”, has become the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican party.

The country, including many top figures within the GOP itself, is struggling to come to terms with the unthinkable, the unconscionable, the downright preposterous: in theory, Trump is now one short hop away from the White House. To say that the news has unsettled the party of which he is now the nominal head would be a gross understatement – thunderstruck, flabbergasted or devastated would be closer to the mark.

On Wednesday the final opponent to the former reality TV star, the governor of Ohio John Kasich, suspended his campaign following on the heels of Ted Cruz, the senator for Texas, who concluded he had no way to compete with Trump in the wake of the Indiana primary the day before. The Republican race was over. …

The Wallpaper Wife

Heidi Cruz got an elbow to the face—will Melania Trump get much more?

Ted Cruz stood on stage Tuesday evening and announced to the world that he would be suspending his campaign for the presidency of the United States. Just weeks earlier, the soon-to-be-former candidate had nearly convinced the Republican establishment that, contrary to both inclination and history, he might be its savior. His exit would effectively hand the nomination to a man the senator himself had called a “sniveling coward,” a “pathological liar,” “an arrogant buffoon,” and “Biff Tannen” (a Back to the Future reference that no doubt took some serious consideration).

In this particular moment of crisis and reconciliation, Heidi Cruz stood at her husband’s side, ready to meet his embrace as he turned from the lectern and (symbolically, at least) away from a party that had very nearly been his to lead. They embraced for eight seconds—Cruz’s face obscured from the cameras, an intimate moment between two partners.

And then, the senator elbowed his wife in the face. …


10 Modern-Day Sightings Of Reptilian Humanoids

As soon as the subject of reptilians is brought up, most people roll their eyes, state how crazy all that stuff is, and possibly mention David Icke and his equally crazy theories on the subject. All of that might very much be true, but there are plenty of examples in mythology and ancient texts that speak of serpent gods and lizard people who live deep within the Earth. Perhaps more strange is that there are still alleged sightings of these reptilian humanoid creatures today.

10. ‘Devil Creature’ Of San Doong Cave

When it was discovered in 1995, the Son Doong Cave was said to be so large that it couldn’t be fully explored at the time. Over 150 meters (492 ft) high, 200 meters (656 ft) wide, and 6.5 kilometers (4 mi) in length, it was opened to the public for tours in 2013. Since then, there have been several reports of strange creatures lurking within the cave systems.

In January 2015, a video appeared on YouTube that claimed to show a picture of a reptilian creature. It was taken by one of the cave’s visitors, who described it as a “devil creature” that had a human–like body and a face that was more akin to a “dragon or lizard!” The sighting is particularly interesting when put alongside an alleged account that appeared on another website regarding an American military unit that was based in South Vietnam close to the same caves in 1970. …

Proposed rules could make it easier for consumers to sue banks

For years, consumers wanting to open a credit card or use almost any kind of financial product have often had to give up their right to sue the company — usually as a condition of doing business.

But new rules proposed Thursday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau could change that.

The long-awaited proposal would target arbitration clauses, agreements that are typically tucked into the fine print of contracts that consumers need to agree to before opening accounts or buying a product.

The little-known clauses often bar customers from participating in class action lawsuits, steering them instead into a private process known as arbitration. Many consumers may not realize until much later, after an issue has come up, that they’ve given up the right to sue, consumer advocates say. …

California recreational marijuana initiative will be on the November ballot

Lieutenant governor called the Adult Use of Marijuana Act a ‘game changer’ and an antidote to what he described as the failed and racist war on drugs

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Wednesday that the first of more than a dozen initiatives proposed to legalize recreational marijuana in California, the biggest pot producer in the US, has collected enough signatures to appear on the ballot in November.

Flanked by sober-suited supporters, a doctor in a white coat, the head of the state NAACP and one very conservative Republican congressman, Newsom called the Adult Use of Marijuana Act – which was bankrolled by Napster founder Sean Parker – “a game changer”, an antidote to what he described as the failed and racist war on drugs.

“It’s unlikely that any others will qualify,” Newsom said of the competing measures. “We have qualified. We are north of 600,000 signatures. That is beyond what is needed. We need a little less than 400,000. You can rest assured this will be on the November ballot.” …

10 Hotels That Offer Ridiculously Over-The-Top Extras

Nearly all hotels offer package options designed to enhance a guest’s stay and overall experience. But some resorts are offering truly extravagant amenities. From the quirky to the just plain bizarre, some hotels have determined that these odd extras are exactly what they need to set them apart from the rest of the pack.

Even stranger, guests are willing to pay excessive amounts for these services. However weird and wild the offering may be, guests can be certain that they’ll receive a genuinely memorable experience and some seriously unique stories to pass along.

10. Happy Guest Lodge

The name really says it all. At the Happy Guest Hotel in Warrington, UK, the staff just wants to please their guests. They are willing to go the extra mile to make that happen, even if it means accommodating the lonely customer.

The management provides clients with a unique service—a sleeping partner in the form of a goldfish. Guests who opt for this scaly company are charged £5 and a goldfish named “Happy” is placed in their rooms. …

As A Guerrilla Movement, Tiny Homes May Emerge As Alternative To Shelters

Tiny homes, which can be as little as 50 to 300 square feet, are growing in popularity as a solution for the homeless. In Chicago, advocates want to build tiny houses to serve a specific marginalized group — homeless youth, especially those who identify as LGBTQ.

“Most of the cities in the country that have already implemented housing tiny homes for the homeless are doing it for the chronically homeless or veterans, so no one yet is doing it specifically for the youth target population,” says activist Tracy Baim, who spearheaded a Chicago Tiny Home Summit April 18-19 at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Baim says tiny homes could provide freestanding independent housing instead of what is typically available for young adults seeking shelter. …

Venture Into a Surreal Salt Mine 2,000 Feet Below Lake Erie

Each year, cities throughout the US scatter 19.5 million tons of salt on icy, snowy roads. Few people give it any thought beyond complaining about the stuff turning their car into a rusty heap, or pause to wonder where it all comes from. A lot of that salt is mined in Ohio, pulled from the remains of massive inland sea that dried up more than 400 million years ago.

This vast deposit lies 2,000 feet below Lake Erie. Enormous machines drill into great veins of halite, extracting huge chunks that other enormous machines crush into bucketloads of salt that ascend on conveyors. It is a strange world of long tunnels and cavernous spaces illuminated by headlamps and floodlights. “It’s so beautiful,” says photographer Ricky Rhodes. “It’s an industrial process, so most people don’t think of it that way. But it’s a beautiful thing most people don’t get to see.” …


Today in History: May 5, 1877

On May 5, 1877, the great Chief Sitting Bull gathered his people and headed north to Canada, well out of the reach of the U. S. Army. Thousands of cavalrymen had been relentlessly pursuing Sitting Bull and the Hunkpapa Lakota, or Dakota Sioux, since “General” George A. Custer (he was actually a Lt. Colonel at the time) and his troops had their butts handed to them at the Battle of Little Big Horn the previous year.

Sitting Bull knew that payback for such a stunning victory against the U.S. military was bound to be harsh, so he split his group up into smaller bands for safety. Several of these groups were attacked and forced on to reservations by the Army, but Sitting Bull’s group managed to evade capture, and spent the six months following the Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana hunting American Bison (which are not buffalo). …

Resolved: Ted Cruz Was His Worst Self as a Presidential Candidate

In his surly, failed campaign, Cruz turned into a cartoon version of the blowhard I knew on the college debate circuit.

Yes, It’s true. I was on the college debate circuit with Ted Cruz. I spent four years debating for Yale College on the American Parliamentary Debate Association merry-go-round of yellow legal pads, painfully awkward Friday-night keggers, and the infinite silliness that came with fighting for tiny silver-plated trophies each weekend. This week, watching the flameout of Cruz’s presidential run, I can confidently say that he’d have had a far more effective life in politics if he’d remained in the law.

My whole college debate experience with Ted Cruz can be distilled into a single, visceral, impression: that of being trapped in a too-small classroom in some dusty Ivy League building, with an opponent too big for the space. My memories of Ted are that he was too loud, too umbragey, and too rehearsed in an activity meant to mirror the clubby, off-the-cuff charms of the British Parliament.

Until he made it to a final or semifinal round, every moment of any debate against Cruz was experienced as a mismatch between competitor and venue. You braced yourself to be screamed at by someone who wanted it more than anyone else. And you watched as the judges—usually college students, other debaters, and some faculty—clutched the edge of their long table as Cruz opened the tap on his ambitions and flooded the room. …

Holocaust survivors ‘dying in poverty while awaiting compensation’

Campaigners call on 47 countries to honour pledge made seven years ago to ensure restitution for theft of property

Tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors are spending the final years of their lives in financial hardship while waiting for governments across Europe to compensate them for property stolen during the Nazi era.

Despite a declaration by 47 countries seven years ago to ensure restitution for the theft of Jewish property during the Holocaust, many of the 500,000 survivors still alive are yet to be compensated, according to the World Jewish Restitution Organisation (WJRO).

Timed to coincide with Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday, the WJRO has organised a social media campaign under the hashtag #HolocaustJustice to put pressure on those countries to act on their 2009 commitment. …

4 Things That Were Going To Kill Us All (Until They Didn’t)

As Nietzsche once said, “That which doesn’t kill us nevertheless ends up in a thinkpiece about how it’s going to kill us.” Every technological breakthrough or big cultural shift seems to come with some portion of the population shouting, “The end is nigh!” In Ancient Greece, Socrates complained that the invention of writing would ruin everyone’s memory. In modern times, we all know that the internet and smartphones are destroying our brains. (We know this because it’s one of the many facts we’ve learned from the internet, on our smartphones.)

There have been countless articles written about how our modern devices are making us unhappy, socially incompetent weirdos. But these articles underestimate what unhappy, socially incompetent weirdos we’ve always been. And that’s not a new thing. That overreaction has been around for ages. Here are four big historical changes that made people in their time cower in fear but turned out to be complete non-issues.

#4. “Phones Are The Work Of The Devil!”

Smartphones have been associated with extreme stress, euphoria, addiction, and even insanity. Oh, sorry, not smartphones — regularphones. The telephone was invented in 1876, yet the concerns people had about it then are strikingly similar to the hand-wringing we now see over cellphone addiction: It will cause information overload, people will lose the ability to personally connect with one another, they’ll try to port fighting games onto it but it just won’t work without a third-party patch, etc.

One worry about the original phone, however, didn’t make the leap to its modern descendant. People feared the telephone was an instrument of Satan. It was apparently a pretty natural reaction to have, because it happened independently in different locations. In one incident, the clergy in Ethiopia damned and burned the phone of the minister of justice because it shocked him. (That’s why AppleCare doesn’t cover damage from water or clergy mistaking bugs for Lucifer’s handiwork.)

You’re fired! Hahahaha- WAIT, NOT IN THE FACE!

How to Bet Big on the American Dream

Give $1 billion to initiatives that spark upward mobility for people trapped at the bottom—then get a 300 percent return on investment.

For his first 20 years, Greg Walton’s life proved that the Horatio Alger story didn’t have to be fiction. Walton was born to a mother who struggled with drugs. He spent some of his earliest years shuttling through North Carolina’s foster-care system. At age 6, he went to Boston to live with his great grandmother and, later, a great aunt in a gritty section of Dorchester. In a house filled with a dozen children and adults, he was often left to fend for himself.

Nevertheless, Walton got himself into the well-regarded Brighton High School. He kept his grades up, starred on the baseball team, and launched a business selling custom-mixed CDs. When he was admitted to Salem State University, he became the first member of his family to enroll in college. But in his freshman year, Walton stumbled—hard. He failed tests in all of his courses but one. He skipped classes, drifted from campus life, crashed on friends’ sofas, and quickly ran out of money. A few months earlier, he had been on his way to building a middle-class life. By age 18, he was spiraling toward a life on the street—a life he had assiduously tried to avoid.

What happened? Unprepared for the fleet of new experiences coming his way, Walton was quickly overwhelmed: He lacked the shock absorbers available to children of wealthier families—a network of parents, extended family members, and mentors—who could help him bounce back. “I was lost,” he recalls. “I didn’t understand how to grow into getting a career.” …

Justice Dept. to North Carolina: Law limiting protections for LGBT people violates federal law

The federal government took on North Carolina’s controversial “bathroom bill” Wednesday, giving the governor until Monday to pledge that he will walk away from the law, which Justice Department officials said violates civil rights.

The state risks losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding if Gov. Pat McCrory (R) defies the warning and maintains his support for the measure, which requires transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond to the gender on their birth certificates.

The move sets up a confrontation between the Democratic administration and the Republican state leadership, whose swift passage of the law in an unusual March special session led to widespread public outcry, boycotts and calls for its repeal from corporate leaders. At least five federal agencies are weighing whether to withhold funds from the state. Among them is the Education Department, which, according to budget documents, provides more than $4 billion in assistance to North Carolina, much of it in the form of student loans.

A spokeswoman at the Education Department said its review was ongoing. …

Top 10 Shameful Civil Wars As Complex And Bloody As Syria’s

Since 2011, one topic has consistently dominated headlines in the news: The war in Syria has now been going for over half a decade and is widely recognized as one of the most shameful and bloody civil conflicts in recent history.

Yet, as horrible as it is, Syria is not unique. Since humans first devised nation states, we’ve engaged in civil wars marked by their utter brutality. When it comes to post–World War II history, few civil conflicts have come close to the inhumanity of the following.

10. The Algerian Civil War ~ 1991–2002

At rush hour on July 25, 1995, a bomb exploded on the Paris subway, killing eight people and injuring 150. Prior to the Charlie Hebdo and ISIS attacks, it was one of the worst terrorist incidents that the French capital had seen. But the perpetrators weren’t dissatisfied French or European nationals; they were Algerian agents. The bombing was simply the spillover from one of North Africa’s deadliest civil wars.

Like the current conflict in Syria, the war started when a government refused to step down. In this case, the military canceled an election when it began to look like an Islamist party would win. The preemptive coup sent protestors out onto the streets, and the situation soon morphed into a deadly battle between government forces and out-of-control jihadists. In a chilling echo of ISIS in Syria, the Islamists first targeted Algerian civilians, and then French civilians, living in Paris using improvised bombs. At the hands of the fanatics, teachers, artists, journalists, and judges were disappeared. Even now, nearly 15 years later, 8,000 innocent people are still missing. …

I Took Magic Mike’s ‘What Do Women Want?’ Quiz

In advance of the film franchise’s self-reinvention as a Vegas revue, Channing Tatum asks ladies to share their deepest desires with him. Things get … weird.

On Thursday, Channing Tatum made an announcement that is as exciting as it’s extremely unsurprising: There’s going to be a Magic Mike show in Las Vegas. A live revue that brings the popular movies to audiences “live and in 3d.” The show, as the movies before it, will apparently distinguish itself from similar dancing-dude revues (no offense intended, gentlemen of Thunder From Down Under) by attempting to answer the question that is so enduringly perplexing that even a bewitched, fedora-ed Mel Gibson could not answer it: What do women want?

The Magic Mike movies, sweetly delightful and whimsically rompy though they may be, failed a little bit in their assumption that 1) the what-women-want question is legitimate to ask in the first place, and 2) men can answer it without consulting, uh, women. The films didn’t ask what ladies want so much as they informed them.

In that sense, what’s perhaps most interesting about the Vegas version of Magic Mike is the fact that the new show professes to be moving beyond its predecessors’ impulse to mansplain female desire. The site for the show features a quiz—though “quiz” doesn’t quite do justice to the psychological and sociological and philosophical questions it ponders—which is titled “Magic Mike Asks,” and which is ostensibly written by Magic Mike himself. Here is that fraught question—what do women want?—asked again, only this time in the service of a strip show that will be gyrating its way through a theater in the Hard Rock Hotel.

I wanted to find out what, exactly, Magic Mike wants to find out about me. (Spoiler, Mr. Mike: What this woman really wants is equal pay for equal work, health care for women of all classes, tampons that aren’t taxed as luxury items, etc. But your quiz doesn’t ask about that.) So I took Magic Mike’s quiz. Another spoiler: It’s really weird. …

Junkyard Treasure: 1977 Fiat 124 Sport Spider


Not long ago, we endured the sadness of a 1977 Fiat 124 Sport Spider flanked by two old Jaguar XJ6s in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard. Today we will take a closer look at that discarded Fiat. It’s a somewhat bent, yet rust-free, 39-year-old Italian sports car that we can assume made its drivers very happy under the California sun, now available for parts and destined for a final date with The Crusher. …


Jeremy B. asks: Hypothetically, if I wanted to not pay for extra luggage on a plane, could I wear like five layers of clothing instead of bringing a suitcase?

It’s a trope that has appeared in dozens of movies and countless TV shows, but can you actually circumvent an airline’s baggage fee by just turning up to the airport in all of your clothes?

Now the first thing we should point out is that there are a handful of documented cases of people doing just this. Consider the story of James McElvar, a member of a Scottish boyband called Rewind, who successfully managed to board a plane wearing: “Four jumpers, six T-shirts, three pairs of jeans, two pairs of jogging bottoms, two jackets and two hats”. …

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