NFL Players and Owners Push Back Against Trump Comments

President Donald Trump accelerated his criticism of the National Football League on Sunday by saying fans should consider not going to games, sparking strong objections from players and owners including a longtime friend and contributor.

Robert Kraft, chairman and chief executive officer of the NFL champion New England Patriots, said he was "deeply disappointed” by Trump’s comments Friday that “son of a bitch” players who refuse to stand during the national anthem to protest treatment of minority citizens should be released by their teams.

Players locked arms, knelt or raised fists during today’s pregame renditions of the anthem, which were broadcast live at all games by the Fox and CBS networks. Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, who donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee last year, locked arms with his players before his team’s game against the Baltimore Ravens in London. Several other owners joined their players on the field while most of the Pittsburgh Steelers stayed in their locker room during the anthem.

Trump, speaking to reporters on his return to Washington Sunday night, said he was “not at all” encouraging a boycott with a morning tweet that read, “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”

“They can do whatever they want,” Trump said. “I’m just telling you from my standpoint I think it is very disrespectful to our country.” He also said the player protests “are a big reason” the league’s television ratings have fallen.

Buffalo Bills players kneel before their NFL game on Sept. 24.

Photographer: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The criticisms, directed primarily at black athletes, came after Trump repeatedly equated the actions of both sides after the death of a woman who was protesting against a demonstration by neo-Nazis, white supremacists and Confederate heritage groups in Charlottesville, Virginia.

They also come at the start of a critical week for some of Trump’s key legislative priorities, with Republicans’ latest and possibly last attempt to repeal and replace the Obamacare health care law on the brink of defeat and negotiations beginning in earnest on a tax package.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended Trump’s comments and called on the NFL owners to enact a rule requiring players to stand during the national anthem.

“This is about respect for the military and the first responders and the country,” Mnuchin said on ABC’s "This Week” program. “They have the right to have their First Amendment off the field. This is a job and the employers have the right, when the players are working, to have rules."

Owners’ Support

Trump’s new campaign also may jeopardize the support he has enjoyed since the early days of his campaign from a number of CEOs and NFL owners — one of whom, Woody Johnson of the New York Jets, was named Trump’s ambassador to the U.K.

“There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics,” said Kraft, who also donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural and sat with the president at dinner when he hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his Mar-a-Lago resort in February. “I think our political leaders could learn a lot from the lessons of teamwork and the importance of working together toward a common goal.”

The national anthem protests began in August 2016, when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled before a pre-season game. Kaepernick was joined in his protest by some teammates and players on other teams as the season progressed.

Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers in March and hasn’t been signed by another team, although the protests have continued this season.

US President Donald Trump walks towards Air Force One in New Jersey on his way to Alabama on Sept. 23.

Photographer: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

‘Lack of Respect’

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, without mentioning Trump, said Saturday that “divisive comments” weren’t helpful.

“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture,” Goodell said in a statement. “Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game, and all of our players.”

Trump himself was once owner of the New Jersey Generals of the long-defunct United States Football League, which fought a losing battle against the NFL.

Colin Kaepernick, center, with Eli Harold and Eric Reid kneel during the anthem prior to a game in Oct. 2016.

Photographer: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

‘Little Ding’

The president also raised eyebrows Friday by saying that penalties for hard hits in the NFL are “ruining the game,” as the league attempts to respond to evidence of long-term brain injury causing premature deaths and disability to some of its players.

Trump’s comment came a day after news that Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots player convicted of murder who hanged himself in a Massachusetts jail in April at age 27, had been found to suffer from a severe case of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) associated with repeated concussions.

Trump made similar comments about the NFL at least twice in 2016, deriding concussions as “a little ding on the head” and lamenting the demise of “violent, head-on” tackles.

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that all but one of 111 former NFL players whose brains had been inspected had evidence of CTE, which can only be diagnosed post-mortem.

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    5 Easy Ways Airlines Could Make Flying Suck Way Less

    Modern airlines are miracle destroyers. They’ve managed to take one of mankind’s most spectacular achievements, self-powered flight, and turn it into the absolute goddamned worst thing imaginable. But the next time you consider walking to another continent rather than endure a flight, remember that it doesn’t need to be this way. Air travel could be made a thousand times more efficient and enjoyable by only changing a few small things. Here are those things.


    Make Passengers Less Angry By Not Making Them Walk Through First Class

    Unless you’re unseemly rich or can get your work to pay for it, odds are you’re flying economy. That means paying for the privilege to sit still in space small enough that it violates several human rights laws while your lungs get filled with badly recycled air and overpriced peanut dust. But as if that’s not punishment enough, airlines love to rub in what a poor you are by having you march through first class — a place with larger seats, free food, and complimentary puppies. Revolutions have been started over less.

    This isn’t us making assumptions, either. Actual experts did some plane science and determined that simply knowing that there are luxury seats being filled by someone else’s ass instead of yours will increase the chances of a passenger becoming unruly by 384 percent. The researchers noted that this is the same psychological effect one would get from a nine-hour flight delay.

    DeCelles & Norton
    To which the reporters probably replied, “Oh, so you’ve flown with United before.”

    What’s surprising is that this affects all passengers on a plane. The passengers in coach/economy/sardine class are naturally going to be more irritated, but this spike in “air rage” also affects the caviar lovers in first class. In fact, they are almost 12 times more likely to throw a fit if they board from the front of the plane instead of the middle. The researchers called these “entitled reactions,” which is a more tactful way of saying that watching all the peons shuffle past you to their economy class seats turns you into a smug, insufferable little shit.

    It’s worth noting that some airlines are working to reduce this. Some are toying with creating a Downton Abbey-style system with two jetways for boarding so that the proles and the aristocracy never have to cross paths. As it should be.


    Instead Of Forcibly Bumping Off Passengers, Hold A Seat Auction

    United Airlines made headlines back in April for its “Beat It or We Beat You” overbooking policy. A flight had been overbooked — by which we mean it wasn’t overbooked at all, but United wanted to give paid seats to their own crew members — so the airline tried offering passengers up to $800 apiece to give up their seats. But when nobody bit, they started forcing random people off the plane. One passenger, a doctor, refused, because he figured he should care more about his sick patients than United wanting an extra flight attendant in Louisville a few hours early. As a reward, he was beaten and dragged off the plane. Two weeks and one concussion later, they reached an expensive financial settlement so that nobody had to learn a valuable lesson.

    “Yes, we learned that from now on, we should ask passengers to turn off cellphones even earlier before takeoff …”

    There’s such an easy solution here: Just ask who’s easiest to bribe. Seat auctions, as they are known, used to happen all the time back in the ’70s, those mystical days of your parents’ youth, when candy was a penny and politicians at least pretended they were trying. The process is simple: Whoever accepts the smallest amount for their ticket gets paid (off). If no one raises their hands at first, you up the reward until some slacker figures he’d rather buy a 4K TV than get home on time. And it worked really well, until airlines realized that saving two microseconds of income and bullying people out of seats would be a lot more fun.

    United, if they weren’t so busy letting sexual assaulters walk out of their airports, could learn a thing or two from Delta, which has taken a novel and slightly devious approach to the seat auction. When you check in on a Delta flight that’s in danger of being overbooked, they will ask you in advance how much money you’d accept in exchange for a later flight, so they know beforehand whom to approach if they need to bump someone. It’s basically a blind seat auction, and it helps Delta get planes out faster while kicking fewer customers to the curb. It might dash your hopes of getting $5,000 for your seat and throwing a legendary party, but … actually yeah, that just sucks.

    Some of you may be screaming “JUST STOP OVERBOOKING FLIGHTS!” at the screen, but that will never happen. People miss flights or cancel all the time, and because giant metal tubes flying through the air while flipping off God is expensive, airlines will chase every single dollar they can get. So overbooking is here to stay, but hopefully people can make a few bucks off of it from now on instead of losing their teeth.


    Let Computers Get Planes Off The Runway Faster

    Have you ever been on a taxiing plane, ready to get up in the air and watch Bridesmaids for the fourth time, when the pilot announces that they’ll be waiting another 20 minutes on the tarmac? Could you physically feel your soul shrivel and die a little bit? That happens a lot. At Newark International Airport, passengers wait an average of 52 minutes on the runway during bad traffic, which is sometimes longer than the flight itself. But even if the runways were wide open, those Newark passengers still waited an average of 14 minutes, burning up jet fuel and seeing how long they could keep their phone on before being yelled at by the flight crew.

    The problem is that airports are apparently too dumb to figure how to optimally start pushing planes away from the gate so that they all end take off at ideal intervals. Fortunately, we created something smart enough to do that job for us: computers.

    Hamsa Balakrishnan, MIT
    You may have read about them online.

    Hamsa Balakrishnan, one of the above-average giant brains at MIT, created a queuing model which took a number of different factors into account, such as weather, runway traffic, and arrival schedules. The model then spat out the optimal time for each plane to push away from its gate in order to take off as soon as possible. Balakrishnan then tested her model out at five different airports, and found that taxiing time was reduced by an average of 20 percent, saving ten minutes on average during a congested day at Newark — which can be the difference between making a connecting flight and sleeping overnight on the floor of a terminal.

    However, saving time isn’t the only benefit. Each aircraft that idles at the gate instead of waiting on the tarmac saves between 16 and 20 gallons of fuel, both helping the environment and saving airlines tons of money, which could translate into lower ticket prices (it wouldn’t). Thankfully, Balakrishnan’s model is so easy to implement into existing systems that it’s already being tested out at airports around the country. Soon we’ll have computer algorithms deciding when airplanes take off to avoid crashing into each other … unless they figure out that crashing them is more cost-effective, in which case we’re all screwed.


    Get Passengers On Planes Faster By Using Smarter Ordering

    If you’re not one of the rich or lucky few who get to fly first class, even getting on the plane can be a pain in the ass. You have to stand around the entrance to the line, waiting to pounce as soon as your group number is called. Then, once you get on the plane, you have to stop every ten feet for another passenger to jam their bags in the overhead bin like it’s the first time they’ve ever lifted their arms over their heads.

    You might have wondered why airlines don’t just load passengers in the order of where their seats are, starting at the back of the plane. But do you know why those greedy assholes at the airport don’t do it? Because it’s a terrible idea, that’s why. People still need to take up space checking their bags, which prevents other people from doing the same. So all back-to-front boarding would do is move the line from the airport to the smaller, more inconvenient, and ultimately more infuriating airplane. Not only would no time be saved, but the risk of people sitting in the tail section getting bludgeoned to death would also skyrocket.

    Fortunately, there’s a way of boarding passengers that is much faster — up to twice as fast, in fact. You didn’t guess what it is, though, because it’s this:

    Jason Steffen

    This is known as the Steffen method, because an extremely smart man named Jason Steffen punched his computer keyboard until it spat out that jumble of numbers. Instead of a steady stream of suffering, customers board in waves, taking up every other seat one side at a time. This way, no two people need to put away their luggage near each other at the same time, and since putting away luggage is the biggest time-waster during boarding, that would save all of us a lot of standing around staring at the seat you can’t get to, wondering if you can strangle that weak-armed teenager before the air marshal can get to you.


    Improve Both Prices And Comfort By Charging Customers By The Pound

    First off, don’t shoot the messenger. We’re not fond of giving the skinnies even more things to be smug about, either. What would they even spend their extra money on? Kale? But the hard truth is that when it comes to keeping a metal tube in the air as efficiently as possible, weight is a very important factor. So strap in, and if the straps are digging into your thighs, prepare to be told why you should pay more for a ticket.

    The heavier an object, the harder and more expensive it becomes to keep it afloat in these spectacular displays of mankind’s hubris. In fact, weight can make such a difference financially that airlines will do just about anything if it can save their planes an ounce or two. For example, merely by switching out the two required 40-pound flight instruction manuals for two iPads, American Airlines is saving itself $1.2 million a year in fuel costs. That’s like 40 iPads.

    So with the growing size of, well, everyone, airlines have already started jacking up ticket prices to account for the possibility of substantially heavier planes. One airline, however, thinks that it has found a better solution. Samoa Air is now charging passengers different ticket fares based on how much they weigh. Samoa is one of the huskiest countries in the world, so they would be particularly sensitive to weight concerns on planes. When you book a flight, you enter an estimate of your weight, and then they weigh you again at the airport to be sure you paid the right amount. Yes, they weigh you at the airport. We don’t know what’s worse: being forced to be weighed, or that being forced to be weighed isn’t even the most invasive thing that’ll happen to you going through an airport.

    The obvious counterargument is that this is discriminatory against overweight people, which it is, but Samoa Air doesn’t see it like that. According to them, “airlines don’t run on seats; they run on weight.” By their logic, you’re not buying an airplane seat; you’re buying an airplane seat and the amount of fuel it takes to keep a you-shaped mass 40,000 feet in the air. Chris Langton, the CEO of the airline, also pointed out airlines are already discriminating in reverse by charging passengers more for luggage based on weight when another passenger could carry that weight on their person and not pay a cent more. We’re not sure if Langton said those words out loud to himself before saying them to the press, to see exactly how they sounded coming out of a human being’s mouth, but it’s too late for that now.

    Want to make air travel suck less, and also look like a swollen-headed alien monster? Put this thing on your head.

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    I Stopped Using Shampoo And Conditioner For A Month And My Life Kind Of Fell Apart

    To steal a saying from my favorite YouTuber, Jenna Marbles, I’m pretty sure I have what she likes to call the “too much” gene. I tend to pay way too much attention to things that don’t actually matter that much, I overthink and overanalyze everything, and I’ll usually pursue a project (or a person) long past its metaphorical expiration date. And that’s exactly why, when I set my sights on finding out what happens when you stop using shampoo on your hair, I naturally extended the original experiment from a mere week to a full-fledged month. And that’s also why, at the end of that month, I still felt like I probably should have extended the experiment to a full year, because, well, why not?

    Despite the insistence of my too-much gene, I managed not to drag on this experiment for a full year, mostly because life just sort of got in the way. That, and my boyfriend was mildly grossed out by my presence by the time we reached the end of the month. And I was too, actually, but not exactly for the reasons you might think.

    August 2017 turned out to be loaded with a whole lot more than just my no-‘poo experiment. I began the month feeling healthy, motivated, and ready to tackle this challenge. But by the end, my body had contended with three different types of illnesses, and I ended up in London. (Fine, it was a planned vacation, my life isn’t that exciting.)

    First of all, you should know that I really don’t wash my hair that often to begin with.

    Matrix artistic director Nick Stenson suggests washing your hair about two or three times a week as a good average. “This will help prevent color fading as well as focus on hair health,” he tells me over email in an interview for Elite Daily.

    My own washing schedule’s actually not that far off from what Stenson recommends. With a head of medium-long, naturally curly hair that errs on the dry side most days, my strands thrive best with a little extra natural oil — which means I’m washing no more than every two days. Having said that, while this experiment technically started on Sunday, July 23, I didn’t really feel like it began until later that week, around Friday, July 28.

    Week One: The Itchy Phase

    Allie Strickler

    This wasn’t the first time I’d pushed myself past my usual limit when it comes to washing my hair. Out of sheer laziness, I’ve gone close to a week before without tending to my curly tresses. But I’d never experienced the wrath of the itchy phase — not like this, anyway.

    Maybe it was the fact that I knew the sweet, sweet relief of shampoo and conditioner wasn’t coming anytime soon, or perhaps my scalp was just extra nasty that week. Either way, the dirty feeling on my head was quickly becoming too much for me to bear. It felt like someone had secured a helmet made of pure dirt on the top of my head, and no matter how much I scratched and itched and tried to style my hair in a way that soothed the discomfort, I couldn’t remove it.

    I continued to stick it out, my too-much gene throbbing with perseverance. After all, I had a slight breakthrough on July 30 — one week after the start of the experiment began — when I woke up with what appeared to be a slight bounce in my hair. It almost looked healthy, vivacious. Maybe this wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

    But then the next week began, and I found myself back at work, tending to my usual, day-to-day responsibilities — or, at least, I was trying to. My dirty scalp was becoming much more of a distraction than I’d ever expected.

    Week Two: The Dirt Helmet Invades My Brain

    Allie Strickler

    Seriously, though. You try scratching your head at work without anyone noticing the dry, white flakes flutter down onto your laptop, and let me know how productive you are. That’s exactly what my days were starting to look like as I continued onward in my experiment.

    By the time I woke up on Tuesday morning — aka day 10 of no shampoo or conditioner — I’d just about had it. My hair was becoming so saturated with oil that it was basically growing damp overnight as I slept, and then drying again in the morning into tight, ugly curls. That morning, I left my apartment to go to work after styling my hair in a sad side ponytail, my too-much gene steeped in utter disappointment.

    Though I told myself I would go the full month using absolutely no products of any kind to wash my hair, I’d reached my limit after little more than one week of the experiment. I began researching other ways to wash my hair without shampoo or conditioner, desperately picking at my dirt helmet along the way.

    After all of 10 minutes of searching on Google (I am an expert at this stuff, you guys), I settled for an approach of baking soda followed by apple cider vinegar: a method deemed appropriate “if you’re stuck on a desert island,” says Rob Pizzuti, a Toronto-based master hair colorist. My 700-square-foot apartment in Bushwick counts as a desert island, right?

    Pizzuti, a stylist for hair care line Pai-Shau, tells Elite Daily,

    Baking soda is gritty and very absorbent, so that could work as ‘shampoo’ in oil removal and a light skin scrub.

    It could, however, strip normal to oily hair and rough up the surface of the rest of your hair.

    Pizzuti actually recommends using baking soda to wash your face or teeth once in awhile instead, “if you need a super deep clean.”

    As for the apple cider vinegar, he explains,

    Vinegar in general has a very low pH in comparison to your hair’s 5.5 pH. It could close down the cuticle layer slightly and make the hair shiny, but will not add any moisture.

    And yet, that night, against all better judgment, I went home, and I did the deed.

    Allie Strickler

    What I love most about showering is how therapeutic the hot water and all of the suds and the soap feel against my skin. But, let me tell you, washing your hair with apple cider vinegar and baking soda pretty much eliminates any sense of comfort whatsoever.

    My shower took a hard, quick turn from a soothing, steamy slice of heaven, to a humid, hot, smelly house salad. I began with the baking soda, which served as my shampoo replacement. It surprisingly felt like a sandier, grainier version of most shampoos I’ve tried, but it was much more difficult to apply to my scalp. It constantly felt as if the baking soda was slipping through my fingers, and not actually landing anywhere near my matted tresses. Plus, the more I applied, the drier my hair seemed to be.

    The ACV — aka my “conditioner” for the month — stung my tongue, and I panicked about whether or not the liquid had seeped into my eyes. Had it even touched my hair? What am I doing?

    I stepped out of the shower, nearly gagging from the smell. Brushing my hair with my usual comb was much, much harder than usual, as the baking soda and ACV had left my hair dry and clumped together in angry knots. And, to my dismay, my hair still felt pretty gross and weighed down with dirt and grime. I started to wonder whether this whole uncomfortable process was even worth the effort.

    But by the time I combed through the mess and went to town with my blow-dryer, the stench had lifted, and my hair actually looked (dare I say) clean, if not a little (a lot) frizzy and kind of dry. Hey, I’ll take it over the dirt helmet any day. 

    Allie Strickler

    And my hair still looked pretty decent the next day…

    Allie Strickler

    …and even the day after that.

    Allie Strickler

    Maybe the rest of the month wouldn’t be so bad after all.

    Week Three: Fake Clean Hair

    Allie Strickler

    As awkward as it was to wash my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar the first time around, I stuck to this method for the sheer sake of avoiding the dreaded dirt helmet. I carried out my little DIY wash again a little over a week later, on day 19 of the overall experiment.

    The second wash was more or less just as uncomfortable as the first. And, just like the initial wash, my hair  felt matted together into, what felt like, dirty knotted clumps.

    And yet, post-blow-drying, my hair seemed to have the appearance of cleanliness. But that’s the thing — it just  clean. Somewhere underneath that blondish-pinkish mess of hair, I could feel that thin, but noticeable layer of a dirt helmet. And it was f*cking uncomfortable.

    Week Four: The UTI, The Fever, And The Very, Very Dirty Hair

    Allie Strickler

    This experiment was ultimately becoming a test of my very will and integrity as a human being rather than just a fun way to see what happens when you try out a weird hair trend. On top of getting hit with a stomach virus, a UTI, and a fevered cold in the span of just two weeks, I was still trudging along in my quest to see what the human scalp is capable of when you deprive it of its usual maintenance and care.

    Perhaps it was my sickness-induced delirium that brought me to this perspective, but I found myself bragging to people who knew about the experiment that “I could do this all the time if I wanted to,” that shampoo and conditioner are totally unnecessary, and they’re just products marketed to us because we  we need them.

    But deep down, I wanted my old products back. I wanted to step out of the shower and actually  again. I knew I’d never willingly give up shampoo and conditioner in the long haul.

    Still, ACV and baking soda were my best bet if I was going to complete the experiment. So, I washed my hair one more time with this method, on day 26, which also happened to be the night before I would embark on a 10-day vacation to London and Dublin.

    Allie Strickler

    In fact, I actually arrived in London that next day still technically pursuing the experiment (got to love that too-much gene, baby). But you better believe I enjoyed every steamy second when I was finally able to hop into the shower knowing there was no salad-like vinegar waiting for me. I practically wanted to eat my shampoo and conditioner, I’d missed their fruity scents and cleansing touch so much.

    Allie Strickler

    I’ll admit, the first half of this experiment was pretty brutal. But hey, when you throw a UTI, a stomach virus, a fever, oh, and an international trip into the mix, going a month without shampoo or conditioner doesn’t really seem like a big deal anymore. (The ACV and baking soda certainly didn’t hurt either, I guess).

    Life has a way of challenging you most when you least expect it. If there’s anything to be learned here — other than that expert hair stylists think cool, natural hair trends are best saved for desert island scenarios only — it’s that you and your body can probably handle a lot more than you give yourself credit for. That, and you can learn a lot about yourself just by tweaking something in your usual routine. Before this experiment, I never really thought of myself as someone who’s that concerned with what her hair looks or feels like. But take away my usual products, and I somehow won’t be able to go even 30 minutes without thinking about how itchy my scalp feels.

    All in all, I definitely don’t regret giving this experience a try. I love to learn about what the human body is capable of, and that’s what this whole thing was ultimately about.

    That, or the absence of shampoo and conditioner from a regular hair care routine is apparently a nightmare for your immune system. Who would have thought?

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    4 Weird Panics Everyone Has For No Logical Reason

    Watching horror movies during my grade-school days has deadened my nerves, and now I’m just not really responsive to anything that I technically should be panicking about. Pity me. However, if you have adequate senses and find that you freak out all the time, don’t be ashamed. For most people, having a reaction to things is normal, and having a gross overreaction is not uncommon at all. In fact, there’s science behind damn near all of it. Yay, science!


    Mystery Noises

    I live in an area festooned with vermin, ranging from skunks to raccoons to guys who wear socks with sandals. When I’m settled in for a night of watching Master Chef like a responsible adult and I hear a rummaging outside my window, I should be able to rationally deduce that it is most likely one of those unhygienic little bastards trying to rustle up a meal in my trash. And even if it isn’t — even if it actually is a burglar or Gary Busey gone walkabout again — since it must be a skunk 999 times out of 1,000, that should be the go-to thought that I have. But it’s not. It’s never the thought I have. In fact, the thought I always have is “Maybe being stabbed won’t be that bad.”

    No doubt any noise in your house which you don’t have an immediate explanation for sends your neck hair into hysterics. From a creaking floor to a rattled can to some random thump upstairs that’s probably your fat cat falling off the bed, it stands to reason that every noise has a rational explanation. Yet we tend to jump to the most irrational reason first. How many times have you legitimately wondered if maybe that noise was some kind of Michael-Myers-esque slasher in the hall closet when in fact it was just the air conditioner kicking on?

    That fear of loud noises is called “phonophobia,” and it’s an insidious little bastard of a fear because, realistically, any sudden loud noise is going to take you by surprise. This is what makes jump scares in horror movies so effective — it’s not a building of dread and atmosphere as much as some asshole poking you from behind when you didn’t see them coming. You have no choice but to be startled by a sudden bang in the house because it’s not the normal flow of things. Your nerves are immediately set on edge, and like our woodland friends, we feel that creeping panic. In extreme cases, it can be a debilitating condition that makes you panic at possibly the literal drop of a hat, but even in mild forms, you’re going to be spooked when you hear an errant fart in the night.

    Part of any creature’s survival instinct is to be wary of sudden changes in the world around them. Any wild animal tends to freeze the moment they hear a strange noise and then bolt when they feel threatened. Your brain is just a frightened little bunny when you hear a frying pan fall when there’s no one in the kitchen, and your imagination will fill in the rest for you. Maybe it’s just because you left it precariously on the edge of the counter, or maybe the vampires slipping in through your window are a little clumsy.


    Health Scares

    Who amongst us hasn’t had that ominous moment when we feel a scratch at the back of the throat and a bit of a sniffle coming on, so we whisk away to WebMD, only to learn, tragically, that we have hypersyphilis and endometribetes of the testicles? This is especially shocking for ladies. But WebMD is a doctor (it’s right in the damn name), so you can’t not believe the diagnosis. You face the fact that you’re going to die, probably later this afternoon, and set about getting your affairs in order. Your family gets the nice set of plates, your cat gets everything else.

    Most of us have little bouts of hypochondria, and that’s normal. It usually just means that you chug orange juice through a beer funnel to get the most Vitamin C you can for a few days. We all do that, right? But this habit of looking up your ills online and allowing your fears to spiral out of control has its own name, and it’s cyberchondria.

    When you rush off to WebMD because you wake up every morning feeling sad and immediately think you’re manic-depressive, you start a furious chain of shittery that may end up snowballing into all manner of craptastical tomfoolery. Lacking the training to properly diagnose yourself and simply going by whatever symptom + disease combo comes up first in a Google search is more likely to stress you out, and when you do go see a physician, it’s also more likely to direct your diagnosis toward what you think you want or need to hear. Maybe you only have a headache and one swollen ass flap, but WebMD said that when combined with leaky nipples, it’s a sign of spinal liquefaction, so you bring up how you kind of do maybe remember having a drippy nipple the other day.

    The big issue with this method of self-diagnosis is that you end up believing you have 100 diseases you don’t have and could very well miss one you do have, because you don’t know your ass from grape jelly when it comes to medicine, just like the rest of us.

    The medical profession, for whatever reason, engenders a lot of mistrust. Google it and you’ll discover hundreds of articles on why you shouldn’t trust doctors, and why you should instead trust Greg, a guy with a blog. Reasons range from outright quackery to the fear that the medical profession is just a money-making scam to the hopelessness of people who haven’t been able to find help. There’s a rich tapestry of potential reasons someone wouldn’t trust a doctor, and even though that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust medical science, it seems a lot cheaper to diagnose yourself at home. Also, you’re probably tempted to believe you know yourself better than any doctor. Of course, that’s a load of horseshit, and you need only recall every dumb decision you’ve ever made in your life as proof.

    Despite the lack of logic, we want to solve our own problems, and without the medical know-how to back it up, we tend to just make it worse in our minds because, you know, we’re ignorant and silly.


    Fear Of Chemicals And Additives

    There’s a fairly famous story about a prank that’s gone around since the ’90s. Penn and Teller even devoted an episode of their show to it, circulating a petition against dihydrogen monoxide while explaining how breathing it in can kill you and all that crap. The joke, of course, is that dihydrogen monoxide is water, and you’re an unscientific chump if you fall for this scam, you silly tit.

    There’s a little more to this joke than scientific illiteracy, though, and that’s processing fluency, a kind of familiarity heuristic. In the simplest terms, we as people like easy-to-understand, familiar things. So if I give you two plates of food, and one I just call pot roast with veggies and the other is ossobucco and you’ve never heard of that, you’re going to be more likely to feel comfortable with the pot roast, even though they’re essentially the same thing, despite how furious any chefs reading this will now be.

    Weird words weird us out, and no words are weirder than the names of chemicals. Water sounds much friendlier than dihydrogen monoxide. Carbon monoxide can kill you, for god’s sake, so who knows what sinister shit dihydrogen has up its sleeve. Who wants to risk massive anal scarring from acetylsalicylic acid when you can take a friendly aspirin? Stay the fuck away from methylenedioxymethamphetamine, and instead go dancing with Molly.

    This is essentially how your brain makes decision-making simpler, and companies use it to dupe you into buying certain products. The easier terms and words are, the more familiar and safe they sound and the less work your brain has to do when trying to decide if you should inject something between your toes or sprinkle it on your donut. In your own head, you’re convincing yourself you’ve done the right thing.

    This brilliantly applies to marketing, especially in the world of holistic, non-GMO, organic, flaccid, no-donkey-punching foods and supplements. Good god, no reasonable person would ever want to buy granola bars jam-packed with sodium benzoate, whatever the fuck that is. That’s why Granny Goodtime only sells bars made with pure granola, figs, and lung butter. It’s goodness you can taste! Granny Goodtime wouldn’t trick you with dangerous things like syllables.


    Baader-Meinhof Phenomena

    Say I tell you about something you’ve never heard of before called “Ham-Chunnelling.” Ham-Chunnelling is what you call it when you force a not-insignificant portion of ham into your rectum. The more ham you get in there, the better you are at Ham-Chunnelling. And now, having heard this term for the first time, you head out into the wild and immediately run across a guy in a “Ham-Chunnelers 4 Life” shirt. Or maybe you just stumble across a couple at Starbucks making plans to chunnel some ham later that night. Or you notice that next to the Starbucks is a new place called Ham-Chunnel-Bucks. You just got Baader-Meinhoffed.

    Also known as the frequency effect, the Baader-Meinhof phenomena is basically stumbling upon some obscure name or info for the first time, then running into it again fairly soon thereafter. Your mind immediately makes this significant. How could you have lived your whole life never knowing Scott Baio’s middle name is Grundle, and then, upon discovering it, run across a farmer’s market with an entire booth dedicated to handwritten Grundle Baio fanfic? That must be kismet or fate or some shit, right? That’s the Universe telling you something!

    It’s not. The Universe doesn’t give two shits about what order you learn facts in, or how often you run across the same fact more than once. It’s called a coincidence, and the Universe is so up to its crotch in coincidences that you’d choke on a biscuit if you could appreciate even a fraction of them. However, the human mind doesn’t cotton to coincidence being coincidental. We demand patterns in chaos, so a coincidence becomes a conspiracy with almost no prompting whatsoever.

    Suppose you walk your dog every day after dinner. One day, you walk through the alley and cut a wicked fart. It wafts up to a neighbor’s window and the dude inside smells burrito and shit, apropos of nothing. The next day, you walk your dog again and just happen to fart in the same place. The dude inside, at the exact same time, smells the exact same fart and is suddenly convinced that there’s a fartspiracy afoot. Why does his apartment stink like a burrito shit at the same time each day, when he’s eaten neither a burrito nor a shit in months? What could it mean? Is the government trying some kind of nerve gas experiment? This example was abhorrent, but it’s mostly effective. One man’s unexplained phenomena is another man’s leftover Taco Bell.

    Ian will quell any panic you may be feeling on Twitter.

    Get your very own Ham Chunneler (TM)

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    EPA moves to repeal Obamas Clean Power Plan coal regs

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced Monday that the Trump administration is moving to scrap the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s signature regulatory program to curb emissions from coal-fired power plants.

    Pruitt made the announcement at an event in Hazard, Ky., casting the previous policy as unfair.

    “That rule really was about picking winners and losers,” Pruitt said. “The past administration was unapologetic, they were using every bit of power, authority to use the EPA to pick winners and losers on how we pick electricity in this country. That is wrong.”

    In this Nov. 9, 2010 file photo, a mine employee stands in the entry of the Signal Peak Energy’s Bull Mountain mine in Roundup, Montana.  (AP)

    He said that on Tuesday, he will sign a proposed rule to formally withdraw from the plan.

    “It is right for this administration to say the war is over,” Pruitt said.

    The decision comes after President Trump in late March ordered a review of the controversial program, which was put on hold more than a year ago by the Supreme Court amid legal challenges from, among others, Pruitt himself.

    The Clean Power Plan aimed to reduce carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants by having states meet certain targets. Supporters see the plan as a critical plank in efforts to curb global warming, but critics contend it would kill thousands of jobs and take direct aim at the struggling coal sector.

    The move to officially nix the program was expected, following Trump’s vow to end what he calls the “war on coal.” Pruitt, however, can likely expect a new wave of litigation from the other side of the debate, as environmentalist groups and allied Democrats are sure to challenge the rollback. 

    The Clean Power Plan is hardly the only Obama policy being challenged or reversed by Trump. Just last Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services rolled back much of the ObamaCare requirement that employers provide contraceptive coverage.

    Bloomberg first reported that the administration would propose rescinding the Clean Power Plan, by arguing it exceeded federal law. The next step reportedly would be to ask for public comment on how and whether to curb carbon emissions from these power plants. 

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    Is that viral Obamacare Facebook status accurate? Will it help save the law?

    Photo by Robyn Beck/Getty Images.

    The fight to save the Affordable Care Act has migrated to a new battleground: Facebook.

    Since early September, a viral Facebook status has been making the rounds, claiming that the Trump administration is attempting to sabotage the law by making enrolling in a health plan on confusing and difficult.

    The wording varies from post to post, but the message is largely the same. It urges users to “copy and paste” and to employ a linguistic trick meant to boost the post’s prominence on the social network:

    CONGRATULATIONS! The White House is trying to stop you from enrolling in Obamacare. Fortunately, your friends (like me) are posting this and using the word “CONGRATULATIONS” so that Facebook’s algorithm shows this to more people. Enrollment for 2018 Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) starts November 1 and ends December 15. Snopes verified that the enrollment period was shortened and GOP has cut by 90% the funding to advertise these deadlines. Administration is also taking the website down for “maintenance” for 12 hrs at a time on weekends for most of the enrollment period when working people might most likely need to use it – doing what they can to sabotage ACA. (Please leave a comment saying, “Congratulations!” to influence FB’s algorithm to increase the visibility of this posting.) THEN, PLEASE COPY AND PASTE ON YOUR OWN TIMELINE.

    “[It] sucks when I’m told I don’t deserve affordable health care and when it’s implied it’s my fault I have a pacemaker or need pain meds,” says Jackie Todd, a filmmaker who posted the status to her page in September. She believes her chronic heart condition would make her uninsurable, should the Affordable Care Act be repealed.

    The “congratulations!” Facebook status offers users the twin satisfactions of doing one’s civic duty and hacking Facebook’s mysterious “algorithm.” And the accusations of sabotage jibe with recent reports that claim the Trump administration is rolling back its support for the law.

    At the same time, it’s hard not to be skeptical of a random post that appears in your feed.

    Should you believe it? Should you share it?

    That depends on a few things. And I looked into those things.

    Is the information about the ACA in the post accurate? Broadly, yes. Let’s break it down:

    “Enrollment for 2018 Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) starts November 1 and ends December 15.”

    True, according to That’s six weeks shorter than the 2016 open enrollment period, which ran from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31.

    “Snopes verified that the enrollment period was shortened and GOP has cut by 90% the funding to advertise these deadlines.”

    Also true, with a caveat. On Aug. 31, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced it would allocate $10 million for its ACA promotional budget, down from $100 million in 2016. The agency claimed that despite doubling advertising funding from 2015 to 2016, “first-time enrollment [declined] by 42 percent,” justifying the deep cuts.  

    As for the caveat? Snopes did verify the information — though the claim that the “GOP” is responsible is not exactly right, as the adjustment was made by the Trump administration, not any particular political party.

    “Administration is also taking the website down for ‘maintenance’ for 12 hrs at a time on weekends for most of the enrollment period when working people might most likely need to use it.”

    Again, true. In late September, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it would be taking offline on five Sundays during the open enrollment period, from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m.

    Is the “congratulations” tactic an effective way to “hack” Facebook’s mysterious algorithm?

    Unfortunately, probably not. At least no more so than simply posting the information to Facebook without the “congratulations” attached.

    The claim that including “congratulations” in a status boosts a post’s ranking on Facebook comes from from a 2014 Wired article, which reported that Mark Zuckerberg proposed the idea himself, after noticing that a post about a colleague’s birthday appeared higher on his own feed than a post about the birth of his own niece.

    That’s not the case today. A Facebook spokesperson said that including highlighted words like “congratulations” (which trigger delightful special effects when clicked) do nothing to improve a post’s ranking on the news feed. He noted that posts that feature the word do “tend to get more engagement from people on the platform,” which does increase their reach.

    So should you post it yourself?

    “Anything and everything is helpful in spreading the word,” says Lori Lodes, co-founder of Get America Covered. A former director of communications at Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Lodes was responsible for outreach efforts during’s second and third open enrollment periods. Get America Covered was founded to fill the gaps left by the administration’s cutbacks, in part by putting together resources to help individuals encourage those in their social networks to enroll.

    In the meantime, Lodes supports sounding the alarm on Facebook.

    “The most important thing people can do right now is to get the word out — whether that is talking to friends, sharing on social media or hanging up signs in their neighborhoods,” she says.

    The next few months will help determine whether the Affordable Care Act thrives or merely survives.

    Can anyone really help replace the well-funded, coordinated effort of a large federal bureaucracy?

    Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

    That part remains to be seen. But it’s up to you, regardless.


    Please copy and share?

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    Can music help at-risk students succeed? This woman has set out to prove it can.

    In 1997, Margaret Martin had an experience that would change her life forever.

    Her 5-year-old son was playing Brahms on the violin at the Hollywood Farmers Market when a group of teenage boys closed in around them.

    Her first instinct was fear.

    But she quickly realized the young group just wanted to listen to the beautiful piece by the young violinist, and it warmed her heart.

    All images via Harmony Project, used with permission.

    This sparked her idea for Harmony Project — a program that promotes positive development for at-risk teens through the practice and performance of music.

    No stranger to hardship, Martin is a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault, and she was homeless for a year. She still managed to put herself through college, studying Social Science. By age 43, she received her master’s and doctoral degrees from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

    That day at the farmer’s market inspired her to help others access the kinds of educational opportunities she found — no matter their background.

    “I view it as a human rights issue because I believed every child that shows up at school deserves a chance at their own complete education,” she says.

    During her studies, Martin learned that an impoverished environment, i.e., life in a “poor household or violence-fueled neighborhood,” could potentially alter a child’s brain development and prevent them from learning.

    Studies have also shown, for example, that for mothers who have not completed their high school education, the reading and math proficiency of their children was deeply impacted.

    Martin was confident that music — especially collaborative music — could help these kids boost their academics.

    “We call it mentoring through music,” Martin explains.

    Through musical education — specifically, teaching kids to play instruments in group settings — Martin’s program was founded on the belief that music had the potential to positively benefit a child’s academic studies.

    A study of Harmony Project kids showed improvement in their brain’s ability to distinguish similar-sounding syllables, which is a skill linked to literacy. The benefits reaped from playing and listening to music occur in the same areas of the brain that are traditionally weaker in children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    Therefore, strengthening one area strengthened the others.

    In other words, these group music lessons help their brains develop and become more receptive to new knowledge.

    By learning the language of music and performing with confidence, the kids involved in Harmony Project can go on to mimic the lessons they learn in music class in their everyday lives, helping them in all their school subjects and improving their grades.

    Today, the program is helping over 2,000 students from low-income areas in Los Angeles.

    A study of Harmony Project students found that those who were more engaged with the program showed increases in reading scores, while those kids less engaged did not show improvements.

    In addition, an overwhelming 93% of Harmony Project seniors have enrolled in college in the past decade.

    This is all the data Martin needs to know that her program is making a difference in these kids’ lives.

    Many of the kids love the program so much they use their weekend time to make a two-hour round-trip commute on Saturdays.

    One former Harmony Project student named Paolo Sayo says that he enrolled in the program in sixth grade as an immigrant from the Philippines. Without Harmony, he and his family didn’t have the resources to continue his violin lessons.

    Once he enrolled, not only did he get the lessons, he also got better at music practice, and his grades in other subjects went up too.

    “Before I joined, I hated the practicing aspect of violin. I just wanted to get it over with,” Sayo says. “After a while, I started appreciating practicing more. Having that discipline transferred to my school work, where I eventually became an honor student.”

    Today, he’s studying to be a health care administrator, but his time with the Harmony Project was so beneficial that he has decided, 10 years later, to remain a mentor for current students.  

    The program has a 2-4-year wait list, so Martin is working hard to help expand the program.

    Harmony Project is also winning recognition. In 2009, it took home the Coming Up Taller Award at the White House, the nation’s highest honor for an arts-based youth program, from President Obama.

    Martin is hoping to use the accolades to help expand the Harmony Project nationwide. Music education and other arts programs have been claiming to boost overall grades for decades, but there’s nothing like a handshake from the President to prove that it’s striking the right note and people are taking notice.

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    Trump and Bernie Sanders spar on Twitter over single-payer healthcare


    President Donald Trump has come out against Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-V.t.) plan for a single-payer healthcare plan, vowing to veto the bill in the extremely unlikely chance that it reached his desk.

    “Bernie Sanders is pushing hard for a single payer healthcare plan – a curse on the U.S. & its people…,” Trump said in a series of tweets. “…I told Republicans to approve healthcare fast or this would happen. But don’t worry, I will veto because I love our country & its people.”

    This started a Twitter war between Trump and Sanders, with the Vermont senator quickly firing back.

    “No Mr. President, providing health care to every man, woman and child as a right is not a curse, it’s exactly what we should be doing,” Sanders wrote. “What is a curse is your support for throwing 23 million off health insurance. That’s the curse and we won’t allow you to get away with it.”

    Sanders unveiled his “Medicare For All” bill on Wednesday, which is unlikely to gain much momentum in a Republican-held Congress. However, the bill has gained popularity among several prominent Democrats, including Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and more than 30 others, making it somewhat of a litmus test for any Democrat who has thought about challenging Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

    White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave somewhat of a premonition of Trump’s response to Sen. Sanders’ plan on Wednesday when she said the president thought single-payer healthcare was a “horrible idea.”

    Despite Trump condemning single-payer healthcare, Americans appear to feel differently about it. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 53 percent of Americans support a national healthcare plan, and a Pew Research Center poll found 60 percent of Americans thought the government had a responsibility to provide healthcare coverage for all.

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    7 Hilariously Dangerous Versions Of Boring Normal Jobs

    Life can be exciting, scary, even downright magical. But most of the time, it’s goddamn boring.

    The average American spends two entire years just standing in line. We typically spend about three years doing laundry. When you add them up, all the mundane tasks you have to perform leaves you with but a fraction of your life with which to do the things you actually want to do.

    These folks, however, broke the mold. They didn’t run away from the banalities of existence in search of endless adventure. Instead, they found the most boring jobs in the world and made them fucking metal. For instance …


    Changing A Light Bulb 1,999 Feet In The Sky

    For something that requires teetering on ladders, holding brittle glass, and having fingers close to electric currents, changing light bulbs sure is boring. You don’t usually have to worry about falling to your death, fainting from lack of oxygen, or even having birds randomly flying into you. Well, most of us don’t.

    Rbyteisbst/Wiki Commons
    This is a TV tower. That tiny black speck at the bottom is a building.

    So that we can watch our Storage Wars without a glitch, TV reception towers get built so high that they pierce the clouds. Because of that, the very tops need to be illuminated at all times, like lighthouses in the sky keeping planes from crashing into them. For those in charge of tower maintenance, changing that top light bulb isn’t a household task; it’s an extreme sport that requires abs of steel.



    In the video, you can hear the guy saying “Oh shit.” Maybe because he’s 2,000 feet in the air “attached” to pegs.

    Take the KLDT tower, which stands at a whopping 1,999 feet, making it one of the tallest structures in the world. Nick Wagner, a project manager of National Tower Controls, is responsible for what happens at the top. When he’s summoned to the KLDT mast, his job entails riding a tiny lift for the first 1,900 feet straight up in the air. When he gets to this dizzying height, he has to climb the final hundred feet by hand with nothing but a few carabiners between him and an uncomfortably long fall.

    Assuming gravity even still works that high up.

    So next time you flick a switch and nothing happens, don’t sigh and moan. Give yourself some perspective by remembering that you can at least change the bulb while looking down and still seeing the planet you live on.


    Cleaning Loose Debris On Power Lines With Flamethrower Drones

    Whether it’s random debris or some bully throwing brand-new laces up there, trash ends up hanging out on power lines. Sadly, since shoe elves don’t get hazard pay, some poor schmuck has to climb up a pole and clean that shit up — two things people usually like to avoid. Like these guys do:

    Fire robots solve everything.

    In China, high-voltage line maintenance workers are using flamethrower drones to clean the mostly plastic junk from the lines. The flames can reach up to 400 degrees C (752 degrees F) and take only 15 minutes to burn dangerous high-voltage lines clean. Did we mention those are high-voltage lines? Feels important.

    Bah, who cares! Look at that magnificent metal bastard, carefully combusting our shittier decisions like a fire mage helicopter mom.

    There’s no word yet on whether or not this incredible breakthrough in trash technology is coming to any place other than China, so you know what to do. Call your representatives. Email your senators. Show up at city hall. Have a sit-in at the White House. Make drone trash fires a reality in your neighborhood today!


    Picking Christmas Trees With A Helicopter

    Unless you come from the kind of mad National Lampoon family that goes out and chops down their own, getting a Christmas tree usually consists of making a trip to the store and getting some teenager in a vest to load it into your trunk. And even for them, the danger level registers somewhere between “splinters” and “being an unwilling participant in a family argument.” Generally, nobody is super concerned about their health while handling a Christmas tree.

    Luckily, even the most hazardous Christmas tree job won’t have anyone wondering about their health and safety. That’s because they’re too busy screaming “WOOOOO!” while doing it. Since 1976, Christmas tree growers have deemed harvesting their trees by hand to be too “unrealistic.” Instead, they now harvest by helicopter, which sounds so much more sensible.

    These guys put maximum effort into turning physics into their wheedling little bitch. Without stopping, pilots will drop a hook to grab a tree. The helicopter then flies to the other side of a field and, we really cannot overstate this, without stopping, drops the tree in a truck, and then it goes back for more. We bet these pilots got all the claw machine toys for their high school sweethearts.


    Mountain Climbers Have To Clear Garbage (And Corpses) From Mt. Everest

    Garbage collection ranks up there with plumbing, sewage system work, and lard-making as occupations that you might not want to sign yourself up for, though you thank God everyday that they exist. While your average sanitation worker might have to get their hands dirty with old diapers, used needles, and last night’s Chinese food, it could be worse. They could be doing the job up on the world’s highest mountain. Mount Everest’s trash collectors aren’t mere garbage men — they’re garbage mountaineers. And they do their jobs while freezing their toes off … sometimes literally.

    Mountain climbers carry 176-pound trash bags, and once those are full, they’re winched up to helicopters which whisk them away to a camp below. Which is a good thing, because otherwise sherpas would have to carry these them-sized bags by hand through somewhere called the Khumbu Icefall, which doesn’t sound like a pleasant walk in the park.

    And there’s a grim reason these trash bags are, well, people-sized. It turns out that picking up trash is the best part of this job. Sometimes they have to collect the remains of camps whose occupants perished. Helicoptering possibly haunted trash isn’t something you find on everyone’s resume.


    Horse-Riding Librarians Delivered Books During The Great Depression

    Normally, the guardians of study materials and the dictionaries with all the bad words circled aren’t the kind of people you look to for advice on angry mob management skills or how to best brave the wilderness in search of clever children. But some ladies living in the 1930s had to do exactly that.

    And they wore pants while doing so.

    During the Great Depression, horse-mounted lady librarians roamed Kentucky, desperately looking for people who could read. Imagine riding your horse for days, covering hundreds of miles per month, all kinds of books strapped to you, as you make your way to the hill village nobody else visits. And out of all your books, your Bible is the most vital one — not because you’re super religious and need the Lord to get you through a good horseback adventure, but because you need to protect yourself from people who think you’re some kind of reading carpetbagger.

    Or one of those notorious book witches.

    Some of the Kentucky mountain folk were really suspicious of book-slingers, and the sight of a Bible being waved around by a dangerous literate person was enough to soothe the hillbeasts to such an extent that they were willing to learn how to read. However, children would flock to these horse-riding book-wielding badasses. The mobile library initiative ended in 1943, as the government decided teaching folk how to shoot Germans was more important than teaching them how to read. After the war, the intellectual frontierswomen were replaced by the kind of motorized bookmobiles still in use today. Remember, not all progress is a good thing.


    A Librarian Was Tasked With Keeping The Manhattan Project Secret

    Another librarian job! Before now, it was probably in your top ten of most boring fields. Sitting quietly in a room is basically the dictionary definition of mind-numbing. Sure, things occasionally get spiced up by punishing loud patrons with spitballs and wedgies and stern looks, but ultimately, being a librarian pretty much guarantees you’ll never do anything which warrants, say, an FBI probe and crushing existential guilt.

    But that’s what happened to Charlotte Serber, keeper of America’s greatest secret, the Manhattan Project. Seber had been hired as the head librarian of the facility’s scientific library by J. Robert Oppenheimer himself. Why would one of the greatest scientists of all time care about a librarian job? Because he wanted Seber to do something more: devise security methods for keeping all their information safe.

    And really, who’s better at keeping things quiet than a librarian?

    Seber was tasked with safeguarding details of the project from spies, political enemies, and sometimes her own bumbling staff. These numbskulls would leave classified documents laying out in the open, take out research books from the Santa Fe public library under their own names, and generally run their mouths off so often that she wound up working 75-hour weeks keeping the world’s most dangerous weapon hidden.

    Unfortunately, her hard work was rewarded with accusations of being a dirty communist for daring to be liberal-minded (she had once raised funds for anti-fascism during the Spanish Civil War, and had chaired a League of Women Voters in Urbana, Illinois). She wasn’t booted off the project, but when it was over, she was doomed to become a production assistant at a theater, as her political affiliations kept her from getting another high-profile librarian job. Though becoming an actual librarian after being a bookish James Bond for so long probably would’ve driven her insane with boredom.


    The Knitting Spies

    “Danger” and “knitting” are not words that go together in a sentence, unless that sentence is “Grandma didn’t know the danger she was in, knitting in that dinosaur park while strapped to that pillar of meat.” Face it, nobody’s going to look at your new scarf and say, “Oh look, how brave!”

    However, during times of war, ladies would occasionally make danger-knitting their lives. Crafty spies realized long ago that codes could be knitted into your average baby bonnet, turning local housewives into domestic James Bonds. They would do things like count train cars and monitor their comings and goings, sneak plans for bombs and aircraft, and generally be around to code messages while listening in on important plans, because who suspects the knitter? This allowed grandmotherly spies like Molly “Old Mom” Rinker to sit on a hill, knitting and observing British troops, all the while passing her eagle-eyed observations straight to George Washington.

    This explains the famous myth of Washington’s woolen teeth.

    But by the time the big wars came along, knitting spies had kicked it up a stitch or two. Nobody suspected Phyllis Latour Doyle, knitter extraordinaire, who parachuted into Normandy during WWII, to be a secret agent working for Britain. Once there, she simply grabbed a bike and rode into enemy territory with a sunny smile and a helpful disposition, chatting with German soldiers like they were old neighbors. When she heard some juicy military intelligence gos, she used a variety of codes from her spy lexicon of about 2,000 knotted messages, which she would put into a silk yarn that she would wrap around a knitting needle. That needle would go into a flat shoelace, which she used to tie up her hair and simply bike right out of enemy territory again. That’s artsy and crafty.

    Which just goes to show that Philip J. Fry was right: Never trust grandmother types during times of war. They’ll stab your right in the back with those needles.

    You can challenge Dawn to a fist fight @dawnsmash, or do the same thing but with Dungeons & Dragons over on Discord.

    Learn every stitch known to mankind so you too can knit wartime secrets!

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    While you weren’t looking, the Senate started trying to fix Obamacare for the first time.

    On July 25, 2017, as Congress’ zillionth (or so it seemed) attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare was careening gently off a cliff into a bed of spikes, Sen. John McCain rose to the Senate floor and delivered a clarion call for bipartisanship.

    “Let’s trust each other,” the maverick Republican legislator cried. “Let’s return to regular order. We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle.”

    Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

    It was a stirring speech. A vital speech. A speech that, coming directly on the heels of McCain’s vote to advance a bill that was being written by a group of Republicans in secret, seemed kind of like bullshit.

    But now, not two months after the dust from the GOP’s last, best shot at the law finally settled, it actually might be … happening?

    For the first time in seven years, Democrats and Republicans are trying to figure out how to patch up the Affordable Care Act. Together.

    The result of the effort, if successful, would be the first major bipartisan change to the law since it was passed in 2010.

    At least one Republican senator — Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander — is trying to make it happen by next week, according to the Washington Examiner.

    OK, but just because it’s bipartisan doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. What are they actually trying to do?

    Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

    Something very minor, but hey! Under the current law, the U.S. government pays health insurance companies to keep individual premiums down. President Trump has repeatedly threatened to stop these payments.

    Alexander, Sen. Patty Murray, and others on the HELP Committee are trying to come up with a “stopgap” package that can continue the funding without having to rely on Trump, preventing premiums from spiking.

    That sounds nice! But … they must disagree on some stuff?

    They sure do!

    Alexander wants to roll back some of the ACA’s essential health benefit requirements, which dictate what plans have to cover. Murray, meanwhile, hopes to properly fund reinsurance, in order to help insurers pay out claims to the sickest individuals.

    They do, however, seem committed to reaching a deal.

    Great, so everything’s good now!

    Not exactly. The same John McCain who righteously urged bipartisanship just two months ago? He just announced his support for a new “repeal and replace” bill that would “block grant” Medicaid to the states, potentially amounting to huge cuts to the program.

    The Arizona senator told The Hill that, despite his earlier words, crafting the bill without Democratic input “doesn’t mean I wouldn’t vote for it.” That doesn’t just put the current bipartisan effort in jeopardy, but it potentially provides another last-ditch avenue to gut the law completely.

    Still, for the first time in what feels like forever, it seems Congress might take July John McCain’s advice and start working together again.

    Sens. Patty Murray (D-Washington) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee). Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

    Working, that is, to try to make things better, not worse, for sick people.

    Sound good to you? Give ’em a call and make sure they stick to it.

    Fingers crossed, knock on wood, throw salt over your shoulder, punch a Komodo dragon they don’t get any ideas from September John McCain.

    Update 9/6/2017: McCain later clarified his position on the Graham-Cassidy proposal through a spokesperson, noting that while he endorses the “concept,” he is waiting to see a bill before committing his support.

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