April 6, 2016

I’ve Been Warned


This Day In History: April 6, 1896

On April 6, 1896, King George I of Greece proclaimed the opening of the first international Olympic Games held since Roman Emperor Theodosius I banned them about 1,500 years earlier. A crowd of 60,000 gathered in Athens to welcome athletes from 13 nations gathering to compete in 43 events, including swimming, wrestling, track-and-field, gymnastics and cycling. All of the contestants were men, and some were athletic-looking tourists who chose to enter and were allowed to participate.

The first known Olympic Games took place in 776 B.C.E. at Olympia in the Greek city-state of Elis. The Games, which were held every four years during a festival honoring Zeus, are thought to have been held for more than five centuries by that time. The competition was pretty basic at first – just limited to foot races – but over the years wrestling, boxing and chariot racing were added. …

Let’s raise our voices against this dictator, Donald Trump

Vicente Fox

Trump’s latest idea, to force Mexico to pay for a wall, is disgraceful. He says that he’ll make America great again, but I believe he’s only making it worse.

Today, I want to express my strong concern about the latest proposals made by the Republican candidate Donald Trump, in his campaign for president of the United States. He has said that he will build a wall between Mexico and the United States, and now that he will force Mexico to pay for that wall by cutting off remittances. He has also said he will open a trade wall with Mexico and China; he has offended women, Muslims, Latinos and his own American people.

To a Mexican and citizen of the world, these statements are disgraceful and highly offensive. Trump has said Mexicans are the problem, calling us rapists and criminals. He thinks building the “Trump Wall” will right every wrong in the United States. Indeed, he’s built a huge mental wall around himself already, which doesn’t allow him to see the greatness of our people.

Despite that, I want to thank him for his racist and ignorant ideas. Thanks to them, Mexico is in the global spotlight; every day, more and more people inside and outside the United States are realizing the decent way Mexicans live their lives. …


The GOP Needs Ted Cruz (to Lose the Presidency)

Cruz, not Trump, represents the cranky, ascendant faction that the party needs to marginalize.

Last fall, Rep. Paul Ryan brought peace to the House of Representatives when he agreed to replace John Boehner as speaker and leader of the House Republican caucus. Now, GOP elites want him to perform the same feat for the presidential race. If Donald Trump falls short of the delegates he needs to win the nomination outright, then some Republicans hope Ryan can step to the stage and unite a divided party. “He’s the most conservative, least establishment member of the establishment,” said an unnamed Republican source to Politico. “That’s what you need to be.”

This makes a certain amount of sense. With strong stature among Republicans of all stripes, Ryan could plausibly unite the establishment with its Trumpist discontents. At the same time, he’s not the only person in the Republican Party with the status and credentials to accomplish this task. There is another, an actual presidential candidate with real support from Republican voters and a patina of credibility: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, statewide winner of Tuesday night’s Wisconsin primary. …

10 Haunting Small-Town Murder Mysteries

A stereotype about small towns is that they’re so safe that the citizens keep their doors unlocked. Murders, especially random acts of violence, are more of an urban problem. But some small towns are so haunted by an unsolved murder that it has forever changed their landscape.

10. The Saxtown Ax Murders

Saxtown is a small town outside of Millstadt, Illinois, and it was made up of mostly German immigrants. It is also home to a gruesome unsolved murder that took place during the night of March 19 and the morning of March 20, 1874.

It is believed that someone knocked on the door of the Stelzriedes’ farmhouse, and when Fritz Stelzriede responded to the knocks, he was killed with an ax. From there, the killer went through the house and killed Fritz’s father (Frederick), his mother (Anna), his grandfather, his three-year-old brother, and his eight-year-old sister. All of them were killed with an ax, and a few also had their throats slit. A neighbor found the bodies on the afternoon of March 20. He’d come over to check on the Stelzriedes since he hadn’t seen anyone working on the farm that day. …

Nevada, a Tax Haven for Only $174

The Panama Papers show how the U.S. state has become a favored destination rivaling the Cayman Islands and Switzerland.

In 2012 CNBC visited an enterprising, then 65-year-old man who lived in a truck stop town just outside Reno, Nevada. Robert Harris was a former bartender who helped people avoid taxes. Harris lives in a sandstone-colored stucco house with a green lawn, a cutout in a neighborhood of near-identical homes. It is also the listed address of some 2,400 shell corporations.

Harris wasn’t a prying man—and that was his business model. For $174, he would set up a company––licensed and legal in Nevada––that a person could move money through without a link to his or her real identity.

“I don’t do any investigative work on the people,” Harris told CNBC. Sure, he told the TV network, he might raise alarm if he knew a venal official or terrorist had used his service to launder money. But, he added, that was only “if I knew. That’s the thing. If I know.” …

Obama calls for international tax reform amid Panama Papers revelations

Unscripted remarks come as Justice Department confirms it is examining US links to leaked documents from Panama-based tax firm Mossack Fonseca

Barack Obama has called for international tax reform in the wake of the revelations contained in the Panama Papers.

In an unscheduled appearance in the White House briefing room, Obama described the revelations from the leaks as “important stuff” and said the issue of global tax avoidance was a “huge problem”.

Obama’s intervention came as the leak of 11.5m files from the Panama-based Mossack Fonseca continued to create uproar and upheaval around the world. …

10 Fascinating Historical Origins Of Everyday Idioms

Some words and phrases we use today still hold their original meanings. Others have evolved into something completely different, their origins disguised by the passage of time. Rediscovering the origins of old words sheds light on their modern meanings.

10. Scapegoat

Today’s meaning: A person who is blamed for the mistakes of others

Real goats may be saddened to learn the origins of “scapegoat,” which was birthed in an ancient Hebrew tradition. Yom Kippur was a day of atonement and the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Made from the Hebrew words for “goat for Azazel,” “scapegoat” was first used in 1530 by William Tyndale. In Tyndale’s English translation of the Bible, the word “Azazel” only appears in the context of one particular Jewish ritual. Cutting it into two words, Tyndale translated it as “the goat which escapes” or “escape goat.” …

What if the Supreme Court Were Liberal?

With a possible Merrick Garland confirmation and the prospect of another Democrat in the Oval Office, the left can’t help but dream about an ideal judicial docket: abortion rights, voting rights, campaign finance…

What might it mean to have five justices on the Supreme Court who were appointed by Democratic presidents? Since 1970, the year Harry Blackmun received Senate confirmation, there always have been at least five justices appointed by a Republican president on the Court. If Merrick Garland is confirmed to replace Antonin Scalia, he will join Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan as Democratic appointees to the high Court.

Also, the next president, especially if he or she serves two terms, is likely to have three other vacancies to fill on the Court. Since 1960, the average age at which a Supreme Court justice has left the bench is 79 years old. There will be three justices 79 or older in 2017, when the next president is inaugurated. Ginsburg will turn 85, Anthony Kennedy 81, and Breyer 79, all in 2017.

Thinking of a Court where there are five or even six justices appointed by Democratic presidents is tantalizing for those on the left, like me, who have spent their entire careers with a Court that has been decidedly right of center. So, where might it most make a difference? …

PayPal pulling out of North Carolina is bad news for Republicans. But it could get much worse.

PayPal just became the first — but likely won’t be the last — business to back out of a deal with North Carolina because of a new law in the state preventing municipalities from creating LGBT protections.

The news puts North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R), who is on our list of the top five most vulnerable incumbent governors, in a tough political spot for three reasons.

First, it puts a dent in his argument that the law won’t cost the state any dollars. …


Today I found out Teflon was invented by accident.

The man who accidentally invented it was Dr. Roy Plunkett. After receiving his BA, MS, and eventually PhD in organic chemistry, Dr. Plunkett took a job with DuPont, in Jackson New Jersey. He was subsequently assigned to work on synthesizing various new forms of refrigerant, trying to find a non-toxic alternative to refrigerants like sulfur dioxide and ammonia.

According to DuPont, in 1938, 27 year old Dr. Plunkett and his assistant, Jack Rebok, were experimenting with one such potential alternative refrigerant, tetrafluorethylene (TFE). Dr. Plunkett subsequently created around 100 pounds of TFE and stored the gas in small cylinders. …

There’s Still Time for a Serious Third-Party Presidential Run

It’s not too late—yet—for Trump or an anti-Trump to make a credible independent bid.

How late is too late for an independent or third-party presidential run?

That question is becoming paramount as the Republican Party barrels through its primary season bitterly divided and with the chances growing that it will open its July convention without a nominee in hand. Conservatives resolutely opposed to a Donald Trump presidency have been investigating a third-party bid for weeks, hoping that if they can’t rally the party behind Ted Cruz then at least they’ll be to give the Never Trump movement an alternative not named Clinton in November. And the recent, if hardly surprising, demise of the paper-thin “loyalty pledge” that Republican candidates signed last year means that either Trump or Cruz could conceivably mount an independent campaign if they lose the GOP nomination in Cleveland.

The short answer is that no, it’s not too late for a third-party or independent run, and it might even be possible for someone as wealthy and well-known as Trump to launch a serious campaign as late as July. (Note: Serious does not necessarily mean winning.) …

Solar And Wind Energy May Be Nice, But How Can We Store It?

Renewable energy like solar and wind is booming across the country as the costs of production have come down. But the sun doesn’t always shine, and the wind doesn’t blow when we need it to.

This challenge has sparked a technology race to store energy — one that goes beyond your typical battery.

Heat Storage: Molten Salt And A Giant Solar Farm

Batteries are often used to store solar power, but it can be a costly endeavor.

A company called SolarReserve may have found a solution: It built a large solar plant in the Nevada desert that can store heat from the sun and generate electricity for up to 10 hours even after sundown. …

7 Internet Services That Are Screwing Over Devoted Users

Our high-tech world might not look like The Jetsons, but we’re pretty damn close. We carry mobile erotica encyclopedias in our pockets and spend our leisure time getting casually murdered and sworn at by teenagers from Vladivostok to Montevideo. Yes, we live in a time of miracles, but some of those miracles are shittier than others. We’re talking about such modern conveniences as …

#7. Airbnb Hosts Are Able To Totally Screw Over Black People

If modern technology is a runaway locomotive hurtling toward the future, then Airbnb is the Snowpiercer car that all the hobos are sleeping in. With an estimated 60 million people using the site, it’s currently one of the most popular ways to borrow someone’s home … unless you have a name that suggests you possess a bit more melanin, that is.

In a study conducted by Harvard Business School, several thousand hosts in cities such as Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., were sent messages inquiring about reservations. These messages were sent from 20 fake profiles, half of which had “typical” white names such as Meredith and Todd, and half of which had “typical” black names such as Rasheed and Jamal.

No profile used “Chad,” since that asshole would get deleted on the spot.

Human sacrifice may have helped societies become more complex

Religious rites in many traditional cultures, including on the Hawaiian Islands, incorporated costly offerings—like human sacrifice.

Religion is often touted as a force for moral good in the world—but it has a sinister side, too, embodied by gruesome rituals like human sacrifice. Now, new research suggests that even this dark side may have served an important function. Scientists have found that these ceremonial killings—intended to appease gods—may have encouraged the development of complex civilizations in maritime Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, though some experts remain unconvinced.

Human sacrifice was part of many traditional cultures across the globe, marking important events like the death of a leader or the construction of a house or boat. In the islands of the Indian and Pacific oceans, powerful chiefs or priests usually carried out the grim rites. They dispatched powerless individuals—often slaves—by cutting off their heads, beating them to death, or crushing them with canoes until they died.

These horrific deeds may have had some unexpected benefits, at least for some members of society. …

Touching robot privates turns people on

It’s a weird, uncomfortable subject, but here’s why companion robots may be on the way.

It’s official: People get turned on when they touch anthropomorphic robots in the equivalent of their genitals.

I’m not being crass … it’s science. That’s according to Stanford University researchers, who published a new study on how people react when a mechanical companion asks them to touch its private parts.

In a video accompanying the announcement (which hopefully no savvy high schoolers get hold of) researcher Jamy Li explains how he programmed his NAO robot to touch it in several places on its body, most of which would not be considered inappropriate, a few of which would. …

10 Hilariously Petty Acts By Politicians And Leaders

Politics is the grandest game in the world. Every day, a few dozen men and women make decisions that will affect millions of lives. It might not always be a noble calling, but there’s no doubting the gravity of the actions that our leaders take.

At least, that’s the case most of the time. Occasionally, the actions taken are less grave and more hilariously petty.

10. Nixon Launched The War On Drugs To Undermine Blacks And Hippies

For many people living today, Nixon is thought of as the worst president of all time. He extended the Vietnam War, costing hundreds of thousands of lives. He once threatened to have a journalist murdered. And then there’s the whole Watergate thing.

Although we’ve previously argued that Tricky Dick had some good points, being magnanimous wasn’t one of them. Nixon was famously petty, keeping a list of “enemies” and getting his boys to dig up as much dirt on them as possible.

But perhaps his pettiest action was launching the “war on drugs.” Rather than developing a program to deal with the real scourge of drug addiction, Nixon approved this “war” purely as a way of undermining black people and hippies. …

Welcome to S.F., the premier assisted living community for Millenials

Casper isn’t alone in the on-demand mattress space. Lull delivers mattresses in as little as one business day. “We despise shopping for mattresses,” Lull’s CEO Sven Klein told me. “There really is no need to roll around on various mattresses at the retail store while a salesperson hovers over you.” Nope. Not when you can order it to your doorstep from your iPhone. The process of ordering took me six minutes. The mattress arrived the next night and I slept like a baby.

Even when you’re not sick, household chores aren’t a blast. In San Francisco, you don’t have to do any of them — if you can afford it. Washio and Rinse will pick up your laundry, wash and fold or dry clean it and return it to your door. Task Rabbit can be there that day to do your dishes, mop your floors or scrub your toilet. …

Money for Nothing: The Lucrative World of Club Appearances

How rappers, Real Housewives, and lesser Kardashians get paid just for showing up at the club.

In a single night, Scott Disick—the runt of the Kardashian litter, the fuckup father of Kourtney’s three children—makes more money doing nothing than most Americans earn in an entire year. Disick is a man routinely mocked on national television for being the one without any skills in a family of people who are famous for not really having any skills. But in 2016, he represents both the luckiest beneficiary and the most tragicomic casualty of the booming club-appearance economy. All he has to do to earn his check is walk through the door at 1OAK in Las Vegas and not leave for one hour.

And yet the club-appearance gig is a giant knot in Disick’s life that seems to only tangle and tighten like a noose. He began booking these appearances a few years back, presumably so he could gain some agency beyond the grip of Kris Jenner and have something to call his “job.” For a while, this was working out nicely for him. He was gaining enough notoriety thanks to Keeping Up with the Kardashians that his appearance fee rose to impressive numbers: He could pull $70,000 or $80,000 a night in the U.S. At one high point, he scored a $250,000 deal for a series of appearances in the UK.

But in Disick’s case, all that time spent in nightclubs exacerbated his already-problematic drinking and alleged drugging habits, which put him on shaky ground with his family. This made him come off like even more of a loser on the show, which in turn probably made him even more desperate for validation outside of the E! network. Hence, more club appearances, more bad behavior, more humiliation on national TV, more need for outside validation… This is the extended EDM remix of the song that never ends. …


Today I found out the words moron, imbecile, and idiot mean different things. In psychology, an idiot has the least intelligence on the IQ scale (this now is equivalent to someone who is mentally retarded or the more politically correct “mentally challenged”); an imbecile is not quite as dumb as an idiot and is now considered equivalent to moderate retardation; a moron is then the highest level of intelligence for someone who is mentally retarded, thus considered as being mildly mentally retarded. Specifically, those who have an IQ between 0 and 25 are idiots; IQs between 26 and 50 are considered imbeciles; and those who have an IQ between 51 and 70 are considered morons. …

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