June 14, 2016 in 3,834 words



“They can’t say that a gay man can’t play in the Majors, because I’m a gay man and I made it.” – Glenn Burke

Major League Baseball has been going strong now for well over a century. Many thousands of players have taken the field since the beginning of organized professional baseball, but only one, Glenn Burke, ever “came out of the closet” during his playing career, letting managers, teammates, and owners know he was gay. Burke also is noted as being the man who popularized, and possibly invented, the high-five.

Burke was born in 1952 in Oakland, California. By the age of 18, he was voted Northern California’s high school “basketball player of the year”. A highly gifted athlete, Glenn could reputedly dunk a basketball with either hand- quite a feat considering he was just over six feet tall. But he soon turned all his attention to baseball. …

To Be Outed in the Worst Possible Way

A first-generation American who grew up in Orlando imagines a horrific phone call.

I’m a son of immigrants, and a gay man who grew up in Orlando in the ’80s and ’90s. My earliest visits to gay clubs in the city were clandestine operations, and let me tell you, it is difficult to be undercover-gay while dressing appropriately for a night out with the boys. On a trip to Parliament House or the gay night at Firestone, I’d be petrified that one of my friends from church or my Christian school might recognize me, and word would somehow filter back to my family. It seemed fortunate that the clubs I visited were, for the most part, cloistered away from the party district downtown where my straight friends might be dancing. I’ve never been to Pulse, which opened years after I moved away from Orlando, but even at my most closeted moment, I might have risked dressing for the disco on that tucked-away corner of South Orange Ave.

My gay friends from that time and place in my life have similar stories—we’re children of immigrants, once closeted and fearful of how our families would react when they found out. I can’t stop thinking about the possibility that someone like us was hurt or murdered at Pulse on Sunday morning, outed in the very worst way, in a phone call every family dreads. For some parents, such a call would be a double heartbreak. …

The Complicated Pain of America’s Queer Muslims

In the midst of a post-Orlando debate that pits Islamophobia against homophobia, LGBT members of the Islamic community find themselves trying to balance multiple identities.

A woman marches in the 2012 Toronto Gay Pride parade

After the massacre in Orlando, Mirna Haidar decided to go to a solidarity rally Sunday evening at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, the gay-rights landmark. It wasn’t quite the uplifting experience she’d hoped for.

“Someone started shouting, ‘Muslims are the problem,’” said Haidar, a gender non-conforming social-justice activist in New York. “That’s really traumatizing for someone like me.”

Haidar is one of the people struggling to balance several identities in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, especially her identities as both queer and Muslim. The discussion about the shooting has become in part a shouting match between two competing narratives, one about Islamophobia and one about homophobia. Because Omar Mateen killed 49 people at a gay club, saying he was acting in the name of Islam, these narratives are presumed to be mutually exclusive. For LGBTQ Muslims, however, experiencing both forms of discrimination simultaneously isn’t just possible; it’s familiar. They are the people who are terrified by the specter of violence against gay people, but who also immediately start praying, “just please don’t let him be Muslim” every time they hear a news item about an attack. …

10 Outlandish Prehistoric Arthropods

Insects, arachnids, crustaceans, and other arthropods have dominated our planet for nearly half a billion years. Over that time, they’ve come in an unbelievable variety of shapes and sizes.

10. Synophalos Xynos ~ The ‘Conga Line’ Shrimp

Synophalos xynos was a shrimp-like marine arthropod that inhabited Cambrian seas over 500 million years ago and exhibited a behavior unknown in any modern animal. A groove on its face could “lock” onto the tail of another of its kind, and groups of S. xynos would apparently link themselves together in long, living chains. These connections were tight enough that they often remained in a chain even when buried and eventually fossilized. They presumably swam and fed almost as though they were one long, worm-like animal. …

Samantha Bee just scorched the NRA and the ‘high-capacity penis substitutes’ they call guns

A very emotional Samatha Bee opened Full Frontal on Monday night, and immediately went off on America’s response to yet another mass shooting by attacking the shooter, the NRA, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and a gun culture that enabled a man to slaughter 49 people in an Orlando nightclub.

“The standard operating procedure is that you stand on stage and deliver some well-meaning words about how we will all get through this together, how love wins, how love conquers hate,” she began. “And that is great and that is beautiful. But you know what? Fuck it! I’m too angry for that! Love does not win unless we start loving each other enough to fix our fucking problems!”

With that she was off saying, “Mass shootings have become so frequent in this country that the only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is another bad guy with a gun who coincidentally came to shoot up the same place.” …

Larry Wilmore slams Trump for post-Orlando tweet: ‘Who brags about this?!’

After the news spread of the tragic shooting in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday, many took to social media looking for information, spreading messages of hope or trying to find ways to help from miles, even countries, away from the city. All except one person: Donald Trump.

“Nightly Show” host Larry Wilmore dedicated the top of his show to shaming Trump for the insensitive and inconsiderate tweets in the wake of such a horrific crime. “When the news broke, the people of this nation were unified in a selfless outpouring of support for the victims and their families. Well, it was selfless except for one person,” Wilmore began before showing the news clip about Trump’s tweet saying he appreciates “the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.”

“Yeah, Donald, you were really ahead of the curve on the whole, ‘terrorism is bad’ thing. I mean, honestly, who brags about this?!” Wilmore exclaimed. “It’s like your doctor saying, ‘Yo, dude, I totally called it, you do have cancer.’ But he didn’t just tweet, he redirected the diarrhea from his Twitter account to his face-hole at a press conference,” Wimore said showing the clip of Trump saying “the shooter was born an Afghan, of Afghan parents.” …

Top 10 Creepy Haunted Bridges

Gephyrophobia is the fear of bridges. Some of us either suffer from this anxiety disorder or know someone who does. Typically, those with gephyrophobia clench up, close their eyes, and sweat profusely as they move across one of the world’s many bridges. Praying is a common occurrence, as well.

While gephyrophobia is irrational, bridges have collapsed in the past. Furthermore, in the dark world of urban legends and folklore, bridges are often depicted as seats of mystery, evil, or both. The following 10 bridges serve as the backdrops for numerous ghost stories, all of which are guaranteed to frighten gephyrophobes and non-gephyrophobes alike.

10. The Old Alton Bridge ~ Texas

Located near the cities of Denton and Copper Canyon, Texas, the Old Alton Bridge was originally built by the King Iron Bridge Manufacturing Company as a way to transport people and cattle. Its name comes from Alton, an abandoned town in Denton County. The bridge remained in use until 2001, when it was closed to vehicle traffic.

Although listed on the National Register of Historical Places, the Old Alton Bridge is better known today as the Goatman’s Bridge. According to legend, a successful goat breeder named Oscar Washburn began to call himself the Goatman. Apparently, in order to drum up business, Washburn hung a sign on the bridge reading: “This Way to the Goatman.” The local KKK was not at all pleased. In August 1938, masked Klansmen abducted Washburn and hung him from the bridge. However, when the murderers looked down to make sure that Washburn was dead, they could not see his body at all. Angered by this, the Klan members returned to Washburn’s home and killed his entire family. …

“Some Mock and Tepid Ritual of Sanctity”

Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes on why the House’s moments of silence are an abomination.

Still reeling from the news from Orlando about the worst mass shooting in American history, Sunday night Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes watched a documentary about the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Himes, a Democrat, has represented a district near the school since 2009. Newtown follows parents, teachers, first responders, and others in the years following the Connecticut shooting. (The film is scheduled to go into wide release this fall.) Consumed by “an immense feeling of frustration,” Himes, an elder in his Presbyterian church, began tweeting a remarkable and righteous jeremiad against the “moments of silence” that have become Congress’ standard response mass shootings.

I spoke with Himes Monday morning, while he was on the train from his home in Greenwich to Washington, D.C. The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity. …

‘How did I walk away alive?’ The Orlando shooting through a survivor’s eyes.

Jeannette McCoy was in a funk after a bad breakup and wanted to cheer herself up with a night out.

So she rounded up a group of friends, put on a crop top and heels and headed to Pulse, a gay nightclub here, where an evening intended to return her to good spirits instead ended in horror.

“I just wanted to smile,” the 37-year-old said of her plans to go to the club.

McCoy, a personal trainer, sipped on a cherry vodka and soda — her bodybuilding coach gave her permission to have a drink — and spent most of the night dancing to Latin music. The club announced last call and her friend Yvens Carrenard was ready to wind down the night. McCoy had just finished dancing with a close friend, Angel Colon. Then they all heard the sound of gunshots.

“Boom, boom, boom, boom,” she said.


Today I found out that toilet paper was first used by the Chinese about 1300 years before it caught on with the rest of the world. The first references of people using toilet paper dates back to the 6th century AD in the Chinese Imperial courts and amongst the other wealthy citizens of China. This eventually spread throughout China and by the 14th century there was an annual manufacturing of around ten million packages of toilet paper in the Zhejiang province alone.

This however, did not catch on with the rest of the world for some time. Indeed, a Muslim traveler to China in the 8th century noted “They (the Chinese) are not careful about cleanliness, and they do not wash themselves with water when they have done their necessities; but they only wipe themselves with paper.” It wouldn’t be until the late 1800s when toilet paper would be introduced in America and England and it wasn’t until the 1900s, around the same time the indoor toilet became common, that toilet paper would catch on with the masses.

So what did people use before toilet paper? …

This is Trumpism: A personality-fueled run that resonates in an anxious era

The asshole who thinks he’d be a great president

Donald Trump’s behavior in the aftermath of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history has erased all doubts, if there were any left, that he is determined to leave all the norms of American politics in the dust.

The country had barely woken up to the news from Orlando Sunday, and other leaders were confining their comments to condolences, when Trump took a bow on Twitter for “being right on radical Islamic terrorism.”

An hour later, the presumptive Republican nominee tweeted that President Obama should “resign in disgrace” if he is unwilling to label the carnage “radical Islamic terrorism.”

By Monday morning, Trump was on Fox News, appearing to question the commander-in-chief’s loyalties, saying Obama “is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind.”

This is Trumpism.

Biggest US coal company funded dozens of groups questioning climate change

Analysis of Peabody Energy court documents show company backed trade groups, lobbyists and thinktanks dubbed ‘heart and soul of climate denial’

Peabody Energy, America’s biggest coalmining company, has funded at least two dozen groups that cast doubt on manmade climate change and oppose environment regulations, analysis by the Guardian reveals.

The funding spanned trade associations, corporate lobby groups, and industry front groups as well as conservative thinktanks and was exposed in court filings last month.

The coal company also gave to political organisations, funding twice as many Republican groups as Democratic ones.

Peabody, the world’s biggest private sector publicly traded coal company, was long known as an outlier even among fossil fuel companies for its public rejection of climate science and action. But its funding of climate denial groups was only exposed in disclosures after the coal titan was forced to seek bankruptcy protection in April, under competition from cheap natural gas. …

6 Things You Learn As A Guy With An Eating Disorder

If we ask you to picture a person with an eating disorder, you’re almost always going to imagine a young white woman. That’s just how the media portrays it, as a disease that makes thin females purge their salads so they can fit into their new dress. But while males make up only an estimated 5 to 15 percent of anorexics and bulimics, that’s exactly 5 to 15 percent more than the culture at large expects.

We talked to Alex and Steven, who have eating disorders, and Brian Pollack, a therapist who specializes in them. All three have struggled to convince the world that this is even a thing.

#6. Eating Disorders Come Out Of Nowhere

So, why do guys develop eating disorders? There’s no answer that is going to make perfect sense to you, since voluntary starvation is about the least logical thing an otherwise healthy organism can do. In Alex’s case, his disorder developed in the summer before sixth grade, thanks to a mixture of stress and daytime TV.

“I started going through puberty, so there were body issues. The trigger was such a strange thing. I was outside playing and had the TV on in the garage. [Maury] had kids who were 5 years old and over 100 pounds. I remember being fascinated and disgusted. I hate to use that word now, but as a kid you’re grossed out. I also remember being super hungry that day. I ate too much. The next day I wasn’t hungry. I figured, well, I ate a shit-ton yesterday. And then the day after, I wasn’t hungry again. And the day after that. And then I started getting hungry but I didn’t want to eat. The next thing I knew, I had barely eaten anything for a week, and it snowballed from there,” he says.

At least it wasn’t a paternity episode. Testing
your dad’s DNA every day sounds incredibly expensive.

Carbon dioxide levels in atmosphere forecast to shatter milestone

Scientists warn that global warming target will be overshot within two decades, as annual concentrations of CO2 set to pass 400 parts per million in 2016

Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 will shatter the symbolic barrier of 400 parts per million (ppm) this year and will not fall below it our in our lifetimes, according to a new Met Office study.

Carbon dioxide measurements at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii are forecast to soar by a record 3.1ppm this year – up from an annual average of 2.1ppm – due in large part to the cyclical El Niño weather event in the Pacific, the paper says.

The surge in CO2 levels will be larger than during the last big El Niño in 1997/98, because manmade emissions have increased by 25% since then, boosting the phenomenon’s strength. …

A Map Of Where Your Food Originated May Surprise You

Click image to embiggen

Some people may be dimly aware that Thailand’s chilies and Italy’s tomatoes — despite being central to their respective local cuisines – originated in South America. Now, for the first time, a new study reveals the full extent of globalization in our food supply. More than two-thirds of the crops that underpin national diets originally came from somewhere else — often far away. And that trend has accelerated over the past 50 years.

Colin Khoury, a plant scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (known by its Spanish acronym CIAT) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is the study’s lead researcher. Khoury tells The Salt that “the numbers affirm what we have long known — that our entire food system is completely global.”

Previous work by the same authors had shown that national diets have adopted new crops and become more and more globally alike in recent decades. The new study shows that those crops are mainly foreign. …

10 Astonishing Facts That Forever Changed Medicine

Practicing medicine is just that—practice—because physicians are forever perfecting their skills and acquiring knowledge. With that said, medicine is continuously evolving. But every theory, invention, and breakthrough discovery had an origin, some from very modest beginnings which paved the way to how modern medicine is practiced today.

The following 10 cases are those of extraordinary discoveries. Some are due to brilliant concepts that are impossible to envision. Others are due to mistakes but nonetheless forever changed the future of medicine.

10. Barber-Surgeons

In medieval Europe, surgery was practiced primarily by barbers (as opposed to surgeons) because surgery was viewed more as a craft than a profession at that time. Barbers carried out the “treatment” of bloodletting (bleeding people) as well as tooth extractions, amputations, enemas, selling medicines, and, of course, a shave and haircut, if desired. In fact, the red-and-white pole that still symbolizes a barbershop also symbolized the white napkins and blood-soaked bandages.

What is so intriguing about the barbers during this time is that they were the first to look inside a human, which paved the way for professional surgeons. The two professions were eventually merged in 1540 by Henry VIII as the United Barber-Surgeons Company. …

Summer TV Preview: Which Shows Are Worth Staying Indoors?

Summer is always a weird time for the TV industry.

These days, in a #PeakTV world where hundreds of scripted shows air every year, there is no downtime. Which means viewers will see a dizzying number of new and returning TV shows this summer on broadcast, cable and online — close to 100 series, by my count.

But summer is still a time when most of America eases up on its couch potato habits. So lots of television outlets try to look like they’re serving up high quality series and shows, while actually using the summer to experiment or burn off stuff that didn’t turn out well enough for the heart of the TV season, fall and spring.

Last year, that approach gave viewers some serious summertime gems in USA Network’s Mr. Robot, HBO’s Ballers, AMC’s Humans and TV Land’s The Jim Gaffigan Show. But this year, the pickings are slim. …

The Legend of Eisenhower’s Skinny ‘S’

How typeface designers made room in The New York Times for the general-turned-president’s long last name.

Last Wednesday night, I was hanging around at home when a mysterious tweet crossed the transom.

“If anyone knows this it’s you,” the message said, with a link to another tweet that laid out a bit of a mystery:

“Rumor says in the 1950s, NYTimes created a special skinny ‘S’ so they could fit ‘EISENHOWER SAYS’ in one-column heds. True…?”

I was immediately intrigued. My Twitter pal had thought to include me not because I’m an expert in typography (I’m not), but because I spend an inordinate amount of time haunting various newspaper archives. …


Today I found out the can opener wasn’t invented until 48 years after the invention of the can.

In 1795, Napoleon Bonaparte was having problems with his supply lines. Specifically, they were too long for the food preservation methods at the time, making it difficult to adequately supply his troops with needed food. Thus, he offered a 12,000 franc prize for anyone who invented a preservation method that would allow his army’s food to remain unspoiled during its long journey to the troops’ stomachs.

In 1810, Nicholas Appert won the prize for his method of keeping food fresh by sterilization. Although he didn’t understand exactly why it worked, Appert found that food stayed fresh for long periods of time if you could seal it tightly in a container, in his case a glass jar, and then heat it up. Later that year an inventor, Peter Durand, received a patent from King George III for the world’s first can made of iron and tin. Combined with Appert’s sterilization method, long term canned food preservation became possible. …

Video Goodnesses
(and not-so-goodnesses)

“Cartman is determined to turn Coon and Friends into the biggest superhero franchise of all time.”

Bill Maher wishes Trump a hilarious 70th birthday: ‘Go for broke — like your casinos’

Bill Maher isn’t a fan of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, so he took a moment to send a very special birthday message on The Donald’s 70th year.

“You look great!” Maher began. “It’s true what they say, orange don’t crack,” he said adopting the popular African-American saying “black don’t crack.”

“So, Don, enjoy your special day with your wife Melania, your daughter Ivanka and your sons Dick for Brains and Fuckface,” Maher continued. “And you’re 70 this year, go for broke. Like your casinos.”

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: Trump was born in 1946 and shares a birthday with singer Boy George, Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, rapper Darien Townsend and actor Ryan McCartan who will be in the upcoming revival of “The Rock Horror Picture Show.”

THANKS to HBO and Real Time with Bill Maher for making this program available on YouTube.