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Why Everyone Is Wrong About Violent Video Games & Your Brain

As long as real-life gun rampages go unchecked, first person shooter video games will be a major battlefront of The Culture War. After all, today’s new hyper-realistic gun games must be causing today’s hideous violence! But what if twenty years of perfecting virtual headshot tech dovetails with a drop in American violent crime? What if games don’t actually trick anyone into being violent, or sexist, or an Italian plumber? And most chilling for you gamers out there: what if games DO trick you into becoming a less ideal person, in a way nobody’s ever warned you about?

On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Jason Pargin (better known as David Wong) to explore a surprising truth nobody else is covering. They’ll combine decades of gaming experience with a range of studies and reporting. They’ll debunk a lot of the panic about Those Darned Violent Video Games, while also picking out some truths hidden in it. And they’ll explore how gaming DOES change the brains of even the most blood-averse n00bs.

Footnotes:

How Violent Video Games Might Be Screwing With Your Brain (Cracked)

Video Games Don’t Make Kids Violent (TIME)

Violent Video Games And Hostile Personalities Go Together (Iowa State University / ScienceDaily)

Musical training shapes brain anatomy, affects function (Society for Neuroscience / ScienceDaily)

Cache Cab: Taxi Drivers’ Brains Grow to Navigate London’s Streets (Scientific American)

No evidence to support link between violent video games and behaviour (University of York)

Multi-Purpose Arcade Combat Simulator (SNES Central)

Playing War: How the Military Uses Video Games (The Atlantic)

Generation Kill: Devil Dogs, Ice Man, Captain America, and the New Face of American War by Evan Wright

5 facts about crime in the U.S. (Pew Research Center)

5 Mind-Blowing Facts Nobody Told You About Guns (Cracked)

Shooters: How Video Games Fund Arms Manufacturers (Eurogamer)

Video Games Boost Visual Attention But Reduce Impulse Control (Society for Personality and Social Psychology)

Video Game Playing, Attention Problems, and Impulsiveness: Evidence of Bidirectional Causality (Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 2012, Vol. 1, No. 1, 62-70)

Abnormal gray matter and white matter volume in ‘Internet gaming addicts’. (Addictive Behaviors, 2015 Jan;40:137-43.)

Anita Sarkeesian and the gamification of misogyny (New Statesman)

The odd reality of life under China’s all-seeing credit score system (Wired UK)

Drake — “Nice For What” music video

Lee Morgan — The Sidewinder

Kamasi Washington — Heaven and Earth

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/

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7 Crazy News Stories That Deserve Their Own Movies

If you spend any sort of time online, you know that weird news pops up about every 20 minutes. While there’s clearly no end to absurd things happening and no shortage of people dumb enough to enact them, some stories surpass “weird” and “stupid” and land squarely in the genuinely epic category. Here are a few incidents that deserve more than a mere 15 minutes of fame — they should get their own movies.

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Thawed-Out Iguanas Attack A Florida Man Trying To Eat Them, Crash A Car

If you live in a place that ever gets cold, you’ve probably only seen iguanas at a zoo or in someone’s apartment during a very disastrous first date. However, if you live in southern Florida, they’re just everywhere — on the street, in the trees, even on your plate. In parts of Central and South America, these little monsters are considered yummy delicacies, known as the “chicken of the trees.” But unlike other food you can pick from a tree (including chicken), these fellas can mess you up.

Luis Figueroa/Wiki CommonsBefore you think about talking any shit, remember that you’ve had Taco Bell three times this week

The winter of 2017-2018 saw unusually cold weather in typically warm places. One of these was Florida, where temperatures dropped to under 40 degrees. Bad news for the iguanas, which, like any cold-blooded reptile, become “cold stunned” at such low temperatures. During the cold snap, paralyzed iguanas would simply fall out of trees, landing on roads, walkways, and even in backyards. However, from the perspective of some Floridians, it was suddenly raining delicious frozen treats from the sky. Frozen. Not dead.

Of course, Florida being Florida, one local was dumb enough to start scooping up these stunned iguanas and pile them into his car for later. However, seeing as it was so gosh darned cold outside, of course he put his heater on blast as he was cruising for lizard … consequently thawing out dozens of iguanas as he was driving. Needless to say, it’s difficult to drive a car full of pissed-off reptiles, so he ended up crashing. They didn’t eat him, though, making them the bigger iguanas.

6

Swiss Toilets Overflowed With 100K In Cash

Blocking somebody’s toilet is one of those faux pas you’ll never live down. It’s the kind of shame that makes you move to a new state and assume a new name, one that isn’t “Poop Monster” Dave. But in Switzerland, someone found a way to clog their can in the classiest way possible: by literally flushing money down the toilet.

When an employee at the USB Bank in Geneva went on their bathroom break, they encountered a very pleasant surprise — words that have never before been said about a public bathroom stall. First at the USB Bank, then at three nearby restaurants, hundreds of 500-euro bills were clogging the pipes and rising back up out of the toilets. Altogether, authorities estimated that about 100,000 euros’ worth of cash ($120,000), which was sadly cut up into pieces, was sent to a watery, shit-ridden grave.

J2R/iStock“Its dirty money now, one way or the other.”

Police quickly found the culprits: two Spanish women who admitted to cutting up and flushing the bills. Yet the case remains a mystery, as both women refuse to explain why they did it. Naturally, the police immediately suspected they were dealing with dirty money — well, dirtier money. However, while U.S. law makes it a crime to destroy money, in Switzerland, it’s technically not illegal to put your money where your opposite-of-your-mouth is, so they’ve yet to be charged with any wrongdoing except for clogging up a toilet like a monster.

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Spanish Police Found 8,000 Pounds Of Stolen Oranges Stuffed Into Some Cars

It’s hard to imagine how much 8,000 pounds is really is. One elephant. A billion Cheetos. Or, as it turns out, about three cars’ worth of oranges.

In January 2018, a routine traffic stop led Spanish police to uncover some rather zesty contraband. Stuffed inside two cars and a van were over 8,000 pounds of stolen oranges. Officers noticed the vehicles driving very close together in the middle of the night, so they decided to stop them and check for shenanigans. This caused the cars to speed off, resulting in a very short chase. Of course, cops are trained to be ready for everything when stopping a car, but when they asked these guys to roll open their windows, they probably weren’t expecting to be hit in the face with a clown car’s worth of oranges.

Sevilla Emergency ServicesThe second most shocking crime involving OJ.

Five people were arrested in connection with the theft. At first, the thieves insisted they had obtained this unreasonable amount of oranges fair and square, claiming they had come “from very far away and had been stopping and collecting oranges along the way,” like they were on a picnic that got out of hand. Suspicious of this dumbest of explanations, police quickly discovered that the oranges had in fact been stolen from a shipment in the city. Which leaves one question: Shouldn’t they have been in crates? Did they take them out of the crates to maximize orange-carrying capacity? Where were they going to sell loose oranges? Alright, so we have several questions.

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Cops In Scotland Had A 45-Minute Standoff With A Stuffed Tiger

Late one night, Bruce Grubb, a Scottish farmer, went to check on his pregnant cows and got the fright of his life. Wandering down to the cowshed to check on the herd, Grubb caught sight of something altogether unexpected for rural Scotland: a tiger. In the barn. With his cows. The tiger wasn’t attacking them, just lying on his side like some feline grim reaper waiting for his big moment.

Scotland PoliceTiger, tiger burning bright, in the cowshed late at night.

Naturally, Grubb called the police, figuring his local animal shelter wouldn’t have big enough butterfly nets. Taking his odd ramblings about tigers very seriously, an armed police unit and several vehicles took up positions outside the shed. After containing the very chill tiger, other officials started calling nearby wildlife parks to ask if someone happened to be short one giant man-eater. After a tiring 45 minutes, an irritated Grubb drove his truck up to the big cat to kindly ask if he could go away. However, when he got close enough, it dawned on the 24-year-old farmer that the tiger was, in fact, stuffed. Not the kind that once had a family but then got very intimate with a taxidermist, but a full-on cuddly wuddly toy teddy-tiger.

Somewhat embarrassed, Grubb returned to the police officers with the stuffed animal like he had just won big at a fairground ring toss. “I feel a bit silly for calling the police but I thought it was a real emergency,” he later said in an interview, adding, “We’re laughing about it now but it was very scary at the time.” As far as how the stuffed tiger got there, Grubb’s best guess is that it was left there as some sort of joke. Tricky, those cows.

3

Thieves Stole A Minivan With A Dead Body Inside

If you’re going to do something as dangerous as stealing a car, you need to have a plan. Case out the vehicle, know who you’re stealing from, have a getaway plan — awesome criminal stuff. And if you really want to tick off all the boxes, you should probably also check to make sure there aren’t any corpses in the trunk.

Earlier this year, an employee of Affordable Cremation Solutions had to quickly drop some paperwork off. When he jumped out of his 2006 Honda Odyssey, he left the doors unlocked and the engine running. After all, why would anyone in their right mind want to steal a crematorium car with a dead body in the back seat? But he came back out just in time to see his van leaving without him, which either meant he’d been carjacked or the zombie apocalypse had started.

Police immediately started looking for the car thief / involuntary body snatcher. Regrettably, the thief didn’t seem in the mood for some wonderfully morbid Weekend At Bernie’sstyle hijinks with the corpse, and police quickly found the minivan abandoned in front of an auto parts store.

2

A Woman Receives 150 Tropical Fish After Ordering A Table On eBay

Buying stuff on eBay is a lot like using Tinder — you can read the descriptions and look at the photos all you like, but that’s no guarantee that whatever you click on is safe to bring home. That’s how one Londoner who thought she had found the small dining set of her dreams wound up sharing a flat with dozens of confused fish.

Becky Smith thought she had hit the jackpot when she won a 185-pound eBay auction for an expensive-looking glass table and faux-leather chair set. So when two massive boxes arrived at her home sometime later, she and a friend immediately started unboxing. Except the boxes were a bit too light for allegedly holding an entire dining room, and the pair soon discovered why: inside were 40 bags of water containing 150 live tropical fish. Surprise!


Pretty sure it’s illegal to sit on those.

Of course, a video of Smith unpacking the 150 very oblivious fish became viral within hours — and is quite the treat if you like seeing British women calling fish the C-word. Fortunately, it didn’t turn out to be an scam at all, just an innocent delivery mix-up between Smith and a nearby pet store. The driver quickly realized his mistake in time, and was able to drive back before a confused pet store owner had to fish an entire dining set out of their aquarium.

1

A Man Got A Letter Approving Unemployment Benefits For His Dog

Times are ruff. For every dog with a successful career in therapy, police enforcement, or modeling, there are plenty who can’t seem to catch a break, no matter how hard they chase it. And because begging makes you bad, what is an out-of-work good boy to do? File for unemployment, of course.

One day, a Michigan man named Michael Haddock was checking his mail and, to his surprise, saw an official-looking letter from the State of Michigan addressed to his dog, Ryder. It was from the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA), telling Ryder they were sorry he’d been laid off from his work at the restaurant, and that he’d been approved for a cool $360 per week in unemployment benefits. This confused Haddock. If Ryder was working at a restaurant, why had he never brought back any doggy bags? Also, dogs can’t earn a paycheck.

After the initial shock wore off, Haddock, a lawyer, figured something scammy was going on here. Looking at the letter again, he noticed that it was actually addressed to “Michael Ryder,” a combination of Haddock’s first name and his dog’s only name. Haddock contacted the UIA, which investigated and found that the letter was supposed to go to Michael Ryder the person, not the German shepherd. However, the human Michael Ryder had never filed for unemployment, but instead had been a victim of one of the millions of identity thefts which happen in the U.S. each year. How the letter wound up in the paws of dog-Ryder though, nobody knows.

As for Ryder, his benefits claim was eventually denied, and Haddock says he “[Does] not intend to assist Ryder in filing an appeal.” Guess Ryder now needs to start looking for a new lawyer and new best friend.

Go ahead, start writing the scripts for these with a beginner’s guide to Celtx.

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For more, check out 6 True Stories That Prove Local News Is Creepy As Hell and 5 Crazy Recent News Stories That Didn’t Get Enough Attention.

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The Simpsons Freemason Conspiracy & Other Crazy New Theories

Look, we’re all trying to make sense out of the world. It’s only natural to try to connect the dots in the zeitgeist, even if it’s just so we can get some sleep at night. The thing is, there are people out there coming up with amazing, insane conspiracies on a daily basis. As a public service, we’ve assembled the most outstanding conspiracies making the rounds right now. Whether you decide to laugh derisively or get on board is completely up to you.

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Source: Newshub

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10

Source: W Magazine

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7

5

3

1

Source: The Washington Post

Forget the conspiracies, just pick up a Simpsons complete set and start binging.

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For more, check out Katie, Jedi, And Other Conspiracy Theories Making The Rounds and Crazy Conspiracy Theories That Sane People Believe Right Now.

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5 Ways The Past Was Even Crazier Than You Thought

Everyone’s had a jerk ruin their day. But go back a few centuries, and you’ll find that the world was built for jerks — jerks who could screw with other people’s lives and rarely suffer any consequences. OK, maybe it’s not so different from today. Regardless, whether it was starting fights on the beach or pretending to be a ghost for criminal purposes, the past was a ludicrously awful place. Take how …

5

People Used To Celebrate Christmas By Getting Drunk And Rioting

Modern Christmas involves awkward interactions with estranged relatives and eating a worrying amount of food, and that alone stresses us out. But that’s nothing compared to mid-19th-century America, when the holiday season was spring break crossed with Die Hard. Youths brawled, riots broke out, and the streets became holly jolly battlefields. More people dreaded Christmas than looked forward to it, because people called “fantasticals” would go out of their way to make life fantastically miserable for others.

Back then, Christmas was more of a public holiday, where you’d get out of the house to watch a horse race, go skating, etc. But if you were young and working class, you’d get drunk, set off explosives, fire guns, stage mock battles, block off roads, blast trumpets, sing, and generally try to make as much noise and chaos as humanly possible all day and night, often while cross-dressing or in blackface. If someone objected to the racket, well …

Via Johns Hopkins Univ. PressThis is back when Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards men were typically pleas for mercy.

What if you decided to stay indoors? No problem, the chaos would come to you. During an activity called callithumpian, people would play deliberately shitty music while going from tavern to tavern demanding free booze, and they’d beat the stuffing out of anyone who said no (or who didn’t offer enough). The authorities were generally helpless to stop this, and police who tried to intervene were sometimes attacked as well. To be fair, there were a lot of complicated class and racial issues at work during all of this, but it was probably tough to appreciate that if you were getting the crap beaten out of you for not giving away enough free booze to violent mobs.

4

18th-Century “Pranks” Were Flat Out Dangerous

Old-timey pranks put our modern-day YouTube wangs to shame. One fun example was giving someone an explosive disguised as charcoal so you could chortle heartily when their fireplace blew up.

Other “jests” included vomiting on beggars and attacking them with dogs, knocking away people’s lanterns so they couldn’t see in the dark, nailing people’s doors shut, just stealing shit, or getting drunk and rampaging through the streets while breaking windows, knocking people over, and presumably yelling “Merry Christmas!” The Enlightenment’s formula for comedy was “misery plus other people, and that’s it.”

H. AlkenThough we have to admit, a few people really made an art of it.

Elderly and disabled people were the preferred targets of these wacky shenanigans: One “celebrated aristocratic prankster” organized a dinner staffed by all of the stutterers he could find, just so he and his friends could make fun of their speech impediments. Other dinners featured waiters who had bad legs or arms, so they could be yelled at or “thrown downstairs” for spilling food. Internet trolling almost seems quaint by comparison, doesn’t it?

3

People Used Ridiculous Disguises To Commit Crimes

While modern ghost enthusiasts are largely confined to low-budget reality TV shows, belief and curiosity in the spirit world used to be more widespread … which of course meant that people were there to take advantage.

Sometimes it was just for fun, like in the case of a young 18th-century scholar who was in the middle of writing a local history when he decided to pretend that a well was haunted for “his own amusement.” In 1621, Henry Church, with the help of some London magicians, pretended to be a ghost to convince his wife to give him her inheritance. One 17th-century conman pretended to be the ghost of a suicide victim said to be haunting a establishment so he could scare off gamblers and steal their money. Yep, an actual Scooby-Doo plot played out in reality.

Running Press PublishersZoinks, indeed.

Then there was the infamous 1762 Cock Lane Ghost. Long haunting short, William Kent and his lady friend Fanny rented a room in London. Fanny died, and then their landlord, Richard Parsons, got his daughter Elizabeth to pretend to be Fanny’s ghost. “Fanny” made weird noises and claimed to be the victim of arsenic poisoning, which made Kent look like a murderer. A media circus erupted, and while an investigation eventually discovered the truth, Parsons first sold tickets to witness the ghost and received donations from people who felt bad that his building was haunted. “Fake Ghost-Haver” used to be a valid profession, and you didn’t even have to film it.

But it wasn’t only ghosts. In the Channel Islands, the thing for hip 17th-century youths to do was dress up as werewolves and throw stones at people’s doors in the middle of the night, with women who were “already sexually compromised” being their preferred target. Authorities were already suspicious of young people who gathered in groups at night, so think of this as an insane 17th-century version of Footloose. Alternatively, people would wear the fabricated heads of horses or donkeys, drape sheets over their bodies, and use cords to make the jaws on their heads move and make noise. And then they’d chase people around and try to bite them. Imagine coming home from a hard day of peasantry, only for some deranged furry in your yard to try to take a chunk out of your ass.

piola666/iStockYup, this gag was already old 400 years ago. Sorry, edgy YouTubers.

2

Australia Had An Epidemic Of Psychotic Beach Bums

There’s always that one jerk at the beach, blasting music, spreading his stuff over five of the best deckchairs, getting obnoxiously drunk, and generally ruining your day. And in Australia from around the 1880s to the 1910s, the beaches were dominated by those assholes. Known as larrikins, Australia’s beach bullies would turn up by the dozens or even hundreds and then proceed to piss everyone off. Larrikins would start fights, take over facilities, and generally not be satisfied until they were ruining everyone else’s time. Often while naked.

In one well-documented case, about 60 larrikins crashed the seventh annual picnic of the Amalgamated Journeymen Tailors’ Association, a name so old-timey that a monocle has spontaneously appeared on your face just reading it. They started small, stealing a soccer ball and refusing to give it back, but soon escalated into crashing a dance pavilion, where they hurled their friends into other dancers. It should go without saying that most of them were drunk as hell for all of this.

The BulletinThese guys? Drunk? We refuse to believe it.

Larrikins had also crashed another dance party a couple of days earlier. The police were informed, but were helpless to intervene. Whenever they tired to arrest a larrikin, the others would either cause chaos elsewhere as a distraction or shower the cops with stones. At one point, they severely injured a woman who happened to be near an officer. While today we limit our riots to important concerns, like protesting institutional violence or celebrating a big sports victory, “we really want to piss off these dancers who are politely minding their own business” used to be due cause.

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In Victorian England, Attacking The Police Was A National Pastime

The modern public’s relationship with the police is complicated, but both sides are best friends compared to how things were in Victorian England. In the 1870s and ’80s, baiting police officers was practically the national hobby. Methods of trolling included setting booby traps with tripwires, leading bobbies on merry chases, and straight up attacking police officers out of the blue.

In 1880, a drunk by the name of Joseph Broxup played an extended game of runaround with the police, quickly attacking them and then shutting doors in their faces when they chased him. This was a bit of a trend, as a Leeds constable named Prewer seemed to spend all of his time haplessly chasing around after people and then getting his ass kicked.

The Crown Court of England and WalesYou cant look this good without making some enemies.

Other miscreants would get their dogs to attack police officers, sometimes for the sheer hell of it. Police were technically allowed to enter private property to do their jobs, but people were so resistant to the idea that constables were reluctant to investigate domestic violence, because often the only thing the abuser and the victim could agree on was that the police should fuck off. The police would even get shit for doing objectively helpful things, like returning mislaid property or pointing out doors that had accidentally been left unlocked and open.

Maybe this was all because the police themselves were less a Thin Blue Line and more Police Academy, spending a good chunk of time getting drunk instead of showing up for their shifts. It seems like sober policemen were more the exception than the rule, although given that the alcohol probably dulled the pain inflicted by random passersby for no apparent reason, maybe we’re confusing cause and effect here.

And you know why you can’t “pretend” to be a ghost anymore? Ghost costumes have gotten too darn adorable, that’s why.

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5 Crazy Recent News Stories That Didn’t Get Enough Attention

Most people read the headlines of a couple of political stories shared by their most untrustworthy friend on Facebook and feel like they’re pretty well-informed. But the daily large-scale dramas of the Trump administration, mass shootings, Russian agents being assassinated, and the world generally seeming like a montage of newscasts from a ’50s sci-fi movie have overshadowed some utterly insane news that, in a different era, would have dominated headlines for weeks.

So here are five stories that have yet to receive the proper “Wait, what the fuck?!” reaction that they deserve.

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The Government Said It Has Mysterious Alloys Recovered From UFOs

Two Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporters made public some fascinating footage captured by military pilots of an unidentified flying object zipping across the skies, making sharp turns and occasionally hovering like a helicopter, and all with no visible signs of propulsion. With the internet as it is, we should’ve been drowned in stories about how “Independence Day PREDICTED THE FUTURE” or whatever.

The footage is odd, for sure. But it only makes up like 0.5 percent of the craziness within the New York Times article it came from.

The article says that between 2007 and 2012, there was something called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program running out of the Pentagon, where at least one employee had the X-Files theme as their ringtone and their co-workers hated them for it. Their task was to investigate mysterious aerial phenomena. While there’s a good chance they had a rubber stamp that read “It’s just another damn drone from Walmart” so they wouldn’t have to write it out all the time, the AATIP’s creator, former Senator Harry Reid, fought to secure the program’s findings, fearing that the United States would be helpless to defend itself from the technologies it discovered. That’s the kind of shit you say to justify keeping Magneto in a plastic cell underground.

Luis Elizondo, the former head of the AATIP, referenced “the many accounts from the Navy and other services of unusual aerial systems interfering with military weapon platforms and displaying beyond-next-generation capabilities.” And most of the program’s $22 million budget over five years went to an aerospace technology company owned by a billionaire named Robert Bigelow, who 100 percent believes aliens have visited earth. And that brings us to the pant-shitting part:

“Under Mr. Bigelow’s direction, the company modified buildings in Las Vegas for the storage of metal alloys and other materials that Mr. Elizondo and program contractors said had been recovered from unidentified aerial phenomena. Researchers also studied people who said they had experienced physical effects from encounters with the objects and examined them for any physiological changes.”

Ah, OK. So. WHAT THE FUCK. Is it just a rash, or a headache, or are these people District 9-ing and morphing into a new species that should be shot in the head?

Live Science tried debunking some of the article’s claims by asking scientists and professors what they thought about it. Their grand conclusion is that there is no way an alloy could be unidentified. Thanks, guys. Excellent observation. There’s no way there are things out there that we don’t know! is some shit-ass expertise. They didn’t even try explaining the claim that the alloys are physically affecting people who interact with them. And it’s hard to blame them. If I think about it for a second, my brain goes to scary places that make me want to hide under a bed and cry.

The whole article makes it seem like there are a lot of high-ranking government officials who are certain aliens are real, that they have visited us, and we should probably fear what they might try to do to us. So on a day-to-day basis, you should feel a tinge of anxiety about your career, the well-being of your children, whether democracy will hold in America, and maybe also aliens with their poisonous ship junk.

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A Man Spent Years Building His Own Submarine, Then Allegedly Used It To Brutally Murder A Journalist

Every once in a while, a sensational murder case — usually involving an attractive female victim — will take over the country for months. This case is weirder than every one of those combined, and nobody cared.

Peter Madsen had been building his own 55-foot submarine for years. We even wrote about his efforts back in 2010. Kim Wall was a freelance journalist who was just another in a long line to document Peter’s impressively productive waste of time. This sounds like the start of a quirky indie film.

But it’s fuckin’ not.

She set up an interview and two-hour test ride for August 10th, 2017. After the two hours were up, Wall’s boyfriend got suspicious that he hadn’t heard from her, so he called the police. Madsen was later rescued from his sinking submarine off the southern coast of Copenhagen — without Wall. Unless your passenger reveals their true kraken form, it’s weird to return to shore with fewer people than when you left. Madsen claimed that he dropped her off onshore hours earlier, which doesn’t quite align with the fact that her torso was found at sea days later.

At a pretrial hearing a couple of weeks later, Madsen testified that he buried Wall at sea after she was killed by a blow to the head from a 155-pound submarine hatch. Ah, the classic “She was murdered by the submarine, not me” defense. This did not hold up, as forensics found that her skull had no fractures and her throat had been either cut or strangled when she died. More of her body parts started washing up, and they concluded that her limbs had been forcibly removed with a saw and stuffed into plastic bags that were weighed down with metal pipes. She had also been stabbed 15 times.

Madsen’s trial is underway, and maybe it’s not getting any attention because everybody thinks they already know who did it? If so, doesn’t the fact that a man allegedly spent years building a murder submarine specifically so he could do this seem worthy of notice? What in the hell does it take to capture the national imagination these days?

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There Is Now Software That Can Put Any Real Person Into Porn Videos, Including You Or Your Mom, Or Both

The future is NOW. Sadly, it’s only for creeps who want to jerk off to fake Scarlett Johansson porn. The technology that’s making it possible is called Deepfake. It’s an AI-driven software that can swap out a person’s face in video footage with someone else’s. Sometimes it’s convincing, other times it looks like their heads are painfully phasing in and out of reality.

That’s how you get Raiders Of The Lost Ark starring Nicolas Cage:

It’s also how you ruin the joke of an SNL sketch starring Nicolas Cage:

But it’s mostly for porn. And like all pursuits popular among sad lonely men, it was very popular on Reddit. Luckily, Reddit banned the Deepfakes subreddit not long after it was created — a bold moral stance for a site that lures you in with memes and then knocks you out with a one-two punch of white supremacy and misogyny. Bans on other big platforms like Discord, Twitter, and even PornHub soon followed, even though the underlying technology still exists for free on the internet.

What’s odd is that once it was banned across multiple sites, we reverted back to a pre-Deepfakes mindset, as if we don’t all live in the prologue of a new world where Donald Trump’s rumored pee tape might surface and the mere existence of Deepfakes would be enough for his supporters to call bullshit. We might one day look back at people on a subreddit putting Taylor Swift’s face on a porn star as innocent compared to a future in which a murderer whose face was clearly captured by security footage gets off scot-free because of the plausible deniability of Deepfakes. It’s a scary future where documented proof could be brushed away with a simple “That’s not me, that’s a fake — a deep fake” *winks at camera*.

Also, it means literally every woman who posts her face to the internet will wind up in a fake porn video / sex tape at some point. So there’s that, too.

2

A “Swatting” Prank Finally Got Someone Killed

You know what’s a real gut-busting joke that always leaves audiences rolling in the aisles? When SWAT teams charge into innocent people’s homes with shotguns and semiautomatic rifles drawn, intent on killing someone if it means stopping a hostage situation, all based on a tip obtained from a prank phone call. My sides! The sheer terror everyone involved must feel is making me pee a little!

If you don’t think it’s funny, then you’re not one of the many teenagers who’ve performed this “prank” because they’ve yet to develop a tangible fear of how utterly screwed their lives will be if the 9-1-1 call is traced back to them. The targets tend to be Twitch streamers, since a SWAT team’s entrance can turn an Overwatch stream into the drug raid scene from Goodfellas. Dozens of celebrities have also been swatted, like Miley Cyrus, Tom Cruise, and Clint Eastwood. Many of these people were lucky to not have been killed. SWAT teams have a long, horrific history of killing innocent people and/or their dogs during raids, in case you needed a cartoonishly ghoulish detail to further turn your stomach.

In an era when the media will drum up a moral panic over everything from violent video games to eating Tide Pods, you’d think this swatting thing would have been the subject of several congressional hearings by now. Especially since in December 2017, a swatting prank ended with someone dead, like every human who’d heard of swatting knew would eventually happen. Some random guys had placed a bet on the outcome of a Call Of Duty: WWII multiplayer match. An argument broke out, and one of the participants decided to get his just desserts by having a SWAT team sent to another person’s house. You know, as one does. The target of the swatting gave a false address. It was the home of a guy named Andrew Finch.

The person who initiated the swatting hired an intermediary to do it for them, Tyler Barriss. He was essentially a swatting hitman with a reputation for calling in swats on behalf of people who don’t want to get caught doing it themselves. And his Twitter handle was “SWauTistic,” because he’s a professional who believes in discretion. Barriss called the Wichita police and reported that someone at Finch’s house had shot their own father in the head and was holding their mother hostage. When Finch answered the knock at his door, a Wichita SWAT officer immediately pulled the trigger. Finch was unarmed and nonviolent. His friends say he didn’t even play video games.

Barriss has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, giving false alarm, and interference with a law enforcement officer. Finch’s mother is suing the Wichita Police Department. And even with a cop’s itchy trigger finger, there’s no denying that if Barriss had instead called and asked if Fincher’s refrigerator was running, he would still be alive today.

Swatting has become a dangerous trend which, unlike the aforementioned Tide Pod eating, is actually happening and is actually harming people. California State Senator Ted Lieu, New Jersey State Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, and Massachusetts Congresswoman Katherine Clark have all proposed anti-swatting legislation — all three have been swatted in response.

1

A Scandal Involving Cops Forcing Nude Photos From A Teenage Boy Ended In Suicide

Before I get into it, just know this story deals with the sexual molestation of a minor. So it’s not going to be as rip-roaringly funny as swatting.

17-year-old Trey Sims sent a video of his penis to his 15-year-old girlfriend. In the state of Virginia, this paradoxically made him the creator and victim of child pornography. The detective assigned to the case, David E. Abbott, obtained a warrant to take pictures of Sims’ penis to match it with the penis in the video, as if the police have a dick pic database that analyzes head-to-balls distance and pubic hair density to find a perfect match. Of course, all of this is necessary, since it’s so difficult to identify a dick when it doesn’t have a tattoo or a peg leg. Why that warrant wasn’t contested from the start is a mystery.

Another mystery is why, at one point, Abbott decided to start taking pictures of Sims’ penis with his personal cellphone.

Detective Abbot deemed the pictures insufficient, because somehow Sims couldn’t get erect with cops recording him masturbating. Which they had asked him to do, you know, so the pics would match the ones he was accused of sending. Wait, who is this law supposed to protect, again? Anyway, Abbot asked for a second state-sponsored permission slip to photograph a teenager’s erect penis. Abbott also threatened to force feed Sims erectile dysfunction pills, because he was determined to get a picture of a kid’s erect penis come hell or high water, goddamn it.

It was granted, but then halted after Sims’ lawyers made a big deal about the first dick pic photo shoot in the media, claiming the police had infringed upon Sims’ Fourth Amendment rights. That’s the one that prevents the government from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures, in essence calling James Madison an idiot for not foreseeing the need to include a line about the sovereignty of teenage dicks in the Constitution.

Charges against Sims were eventually dropped after he served probation. And with that out of the way, it was time to sue Abbott. But the focal point of the lawsuit shifted from Abbott to Claiborne T. Richardson II, the guy who approved both warrants. This shift happened after Abbott shot himself in his goddamned front yard right before county police officers were going to arrest him on suspicion of molesting boys when he was a youth hockey coach. I just want to reiterate here that this story was barely a blip on the national media’s radar.

Sims’ lawsuit was thrown out when a judge said that Richardson and Abbott were immune, since the Fourth Amendment surprisingly makes no mention of cops taking pictures of a teen’s penis. Everyone up and down the chain kept coming up with creative interpretations of the law to protect a dead detective who killed himself to avoid charges of molesting a minor. The common argument was that Abbott was just following orders. But he was the one who asked for the warrant. Has your head exploded yet?

After four years of this shit, the Fourth Circuit Court sided with Sims, finally deciding that teenage penises are in fact covered by the Fourth Amendment. See? Everything is fine. Nothing to see here.

Luis’ brain feels funny after he played with unknown alloys. In the meantime, you can find him on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.

A previous version of the column stated that Andrew Finch was playing Call of Duty and had been directly involved in the online argument before he was swatted. That was incorrect. The text has been changed to reflect that.

Uhhh … have a stress ball or several.

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7 Times Google Maps Straight Up Ruined People’s Lives

Have you ever gotten mad at Google Maps for underestimating how long a road trip would take, or telling you to turn left when it was really more of a light merge? How about for nearly leading you to an agonizing death in the desert, or nudging nations ever so slightly closer to nuclear war? People, companies, and even governments have blindly followed Google Maps to such disastrous destinations. You’d almost think the app is getting its revenge for all the times we’ve asked it to look at “Batman, Turkey.” Here are seven landmark cases in Google Maps v. Humanity.

7

An Error Got The Wrong House Demolished

You remember planning to have your house demolished. It takes scheduling and meeting contractors and signing documents and a whole lot of red tape. It’s not an impulse decision, to say the least. Which is why a Texan woman was a tad surprised to find that she had apparently OK’d a crew to tear down her home.


“I’m sorry, but I have the ‘destroying your house’ papers right here, and you don’t have the ‘not destroying your house’ form.”

Lindsay Diaz came home one day to find that her life was ruined by the kookiest of mishaps. Her house had been completely demolished by Billy L. Nabors Demolition, whose slogan is “We could wreck the world — Jesus saves,” which is the demolition man’s version of “Kill ’em all and let God sort them out.” When confronted, the company insisted that they had been contracted to tear down 7601 Cousteau Drive. The only problem was that Diaz’s address was 7601 Calypso Drive, which for Google Maps somehow counted as “close enough.”

A spokesperson for Google admitted, “Both addresses were shown as being in the same location on Google Maps,” adding that “the issue was fixed as soon as it was brought to our attention.” Thank goodness they corrected that glitch after the demolition. That solves everything! At least now the pizza delivery guy won’t get lost when he’s bringing an order to the pile of rubble.

Afterwards, the demolition company issued this heartfelt statement to a very angry Diaz: “It’s not a big deal.” Sure, who among us has not accidentally unleashed a brigade of steel machines to rip apart a woman’s life, then looked over, saw the street sign, and went “Whoopsie daisy”? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone at the glass house, Ms. Diaz. Well, she doesn’t have a house anymore, so she can throw all the stones she likes.

6

Google Maps Keeps Straight Up Losing Cities

The city of Sunrise, Florida is home to 90,000 people, the NHL’s Florida Panthers, and one of the biggest malls in the country. But for a full month, it didn’t exist, as Google Maps had essentially turned it into that “Here be dragons” spot on medieval maps.

Google Maps“In a quarter mile, turn left into a dark void.”

When people tried googling any place in Sunrise for 30 days in 2010, Google Maps instead directed them to Sarasota, a separate town 200 miles away, resulting in a lot of confusion and a lot of cold Deliveroo meals. And Sunrise isn’t the first city Google Maps has turned into Nowheresville, USA, either. Others that have taken the same trippy trips to nonexistence include La Jolla and Imperial Beach in California, Rogers in Minnesota, Wickliffe in Ohio, and Woodstock, Virginia. No, not that Woodstock, though that would have been a great prank to pull on all those aging stoners.

But Sunrise is still special because it seems Google Maps really wants to wipe it off itself. Mike Ryan, the mayor of the alleged city, claims that this has happened not once but three separate times, with catastrophic effects. Local businesses have watched orders fall off a cliff, and residents couldn’t locate emergency services like police or fire stations, medical care centers, Dunkin’ Donuts, etc. “It felt like a bizarre novel — that all of a sudden we disappeared. We woke up one morning and we didn’t exist in the ether world,” said one ethereal voice through the wind.

5

A Woman Almost Died In The Desert Because Google Made Up A Road

Picture, if you will, a woman driving to the Grand Canyon. Hard to miss, no? But that wasn’t the case for one Amber VanHecke, who, relying on her Google Maps, went to see the iconic landmark but instead took a turn for the doesn’t exist.

In 2017, 24-year-old VanHecke had embarked on a solo trip to the Grand Canyon. In the middle of the Arizona desert, she noticed that she only had 70 miles’ worth of gas left in the tank. Not an issue, as her Google Maps reassured her that she was only 35 miles away from a highway. Trusting Google, she obediently followed the app to bring her safely to civilization. Instead, Google told her to turn onto a completely nonexistent road, which led her to a nonexistent spot on the map. And then she ran out of gas.

Arizona Department of Public SafetyThe rusted-out car frame already there wasn’t ominous at all.

Fortunately for VanHecke, she was a former girl scout and well-prepared. With 18 days’ worth of water, dried fruit, and Goldfish (surely one of the main currencies in the coming post-apocalypse), VanHecke took it slow and steady. She made a giant “HELP” sign out of rocks and tried to get the attention of planes flying overhead with signal fires and a flashing headlamp, but had no luck. On the plus side, instead of encountering a family of cannibalistic mutants, she spent her desert days cooking ramen on her dash and befriending a family of prairie dogs who came right up to her and ate out of her hand. Imagine if Pixar made a Mad Max movie, and you’re close to understanding her harrowing experience.

Finally, after five days, with her supplies dwindling and cartoon buzzards probably circling overhead, she decided to hike 11 miles through the desert to get faint cell reception, then squeezed out a 40-second 911 call. Authorities eventually found her car, waited for her to come back, and were able to rescue her before any harm came to her — or before she started eating her new prairie dog family. Whatever came first.

4

Maps Sends Tourists Visiting Landmarks To The Middle Of Nowhere

Tourists need maps like they need sunscreen for their ever-burning red noses. That’s why you’d think Google would try very hard to have its maps be top-notch when it comes to directions to the most visited spots in the world. Well, much like the turns taken by many a confused tourist, you’d be wrong.

Looking for Mount Rushmore? If you use Google Maps to get you there, then you may wind up at some random snowy hill 13 miles away from the presidential bobbleheads. It has happened so often that they even had to put up a sign.

Looking to gaze at the beautiful vista of the Preikestolen cliff in Norway? Google Maps might send you a tiny unrelated fjord town called Fossmork instead. Fortunately, it’s only 19 miles away and they’ve grown totally used to redirecting jilted-by-Google tourists to the actual landmark.

Sdom/Wiki Commons

cookelma/iStockWe don’t know who should be more offended by the mistaken identities, the town or the rock.

But at least those misdirections still give you a bit of the majesty of nature to look at. Meanwhile, for years, tourists wanting to see Blue Mountains National Park in Australia would wind up getting lured into a random, nondescript cul-de-sac in a residential neighborhood 20 miles away. Cars and buses full of tourists kept showing up by the minute, with some of them sometimes even knocking on doors and asking for directions or to use peoples’ bathrooms, which is a dangerous thing to do in a random neighborhood unless you like getting murdered and/or laid by elderly swingers.

3

A Woman Sues Google For Letting Everyone Street-View Her Boobs

Who amongst us hasn’t spent the better part of an hour scanning Google Maps looking at our own home from every possible side? But when one Montreal woman checked out her house on Google Maps, she saw one side she hadn’t expected — that of her boob.

Google MapsSomewhere in there is a boob we can’t show you.

She had been sitting on her front steps, flipping through her phone as us life connoisseurs are wont to do, when that lovable scamp the Google Car drove by and picked her up on film. Noticing the car, she later checked out her home on Google Street View. That’s when she discovered a very unfortunate wardrobe malfunction: Her tank top was hanging down at just the right enough angle to expose her boob to the world’s largest public satellite mapping system. Not only that, but her home address and car license plate were also visible in the shot, meaning local internet creeps could ask Google Maps to give them the most efficient stalking directions to a scantily clad lady living in a house with massive windows.

Google defended itself by claiming they had properly blurred her face — which if anything only made it harder for everyone to keep looking at her at eye level. She sued Google for violating her privacy, and a small-claims court in Quebec agreed with her that a face blur did indeed fall a bit short of protecting her identity. The court awarded her a $2,250 settlement plus interest and $159 in court fees; she initially filed for $7,000, but clearly, that was asking a little much from a simple mom and pop shop like Google.

2

A Hacked Google Maps Destroyed Several Businesses

Knowing that most people never look past the first hit on Google, many small business owners rely on Google Maps to give customers information about their shops. But in 2010, several Buffalo-based jewelry stores noticed their business drying up out of nowhere. Why? Because someone had told Google to shut them down.

Google MapsYou can also relocate them to the middle of the ocean.

The jewelers found that their Google Maps info was telling customers they were “permanently closed,” which killed off everything but foot traffic coming to the stores. A web consultant pinned these sudden changes on a rival jewelry store in their area, which was also caught spamming rivals with bad ratings, raising their own ratings, and tampering with the underlying Google information in order to change their status. For targeting jewelry stores, that must the dumbest version of an Ocean’s 11 long con ever — no diamonds, just a better Yelp rating.

This hack isn’t an isolated incident, either. A restaurant called the Serbian Crown, one of the only places in the U.S. that serves lion meat, lost 75 percent of its business seemingly overnight, and it wasn’t because people were finally put off by eating lion meat. After months of bad business, a customer finally phoned asking why the restaurant was closed Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. Without the owners’ knowledge, the Google Maps page had been displaying that they were closed three out of seven days a week, and because munching on exotic animals doesn’t exactly draw a lot of walk-ins, the loss of revenue caused the restaurant to shutter.

So why is it so easy for any schmo to hack the Google Maps business info section? Though it looks very fancy with its satellites, the app treated like any other Google page, which means it’s largely crowdsourced — i.e. super vulnerable to interference. In 2014, a hacker even tampered with the FBI and Secret Service Google pages to make a point about these flaws, and successfully managed to record all incoming phone calls to both locations. The Secret Service thanked him for exposing this weakness, presumably by hooking his genitals to an electric “thanking machine.”

Google Maps“The PATRIOT Act allows me to thank you indefinitely.”

1

Google Takes Sides On Contested Borders And Increases Geopolitical Tensions

We’ve all had that moment when we got raging mad at Google Maps for taking us to the wrong side of the street from where we know the McDonald’s ought to be. But did you know that countries have the exact same problem? Only their notions of which side should have what can quickly involve border war and missiles? We’ve talked before about that time Nicaragua accidentally invaded Costa Rica thanks to a Google Maps error, but it turns out that this sort of thing isn’t even a rare mishap for Google. It’s par for the course.

Google MapsYou try to make a free navigation app, and then next thing you know …

Like the cartographers of yore, when countries dispute borders, it’s Google Maps’ job to (literally) draw the line somewhere. But unlike in ye medieval times, Google has more than enough space and technology to make it so that all variants of contested borders are constantly shown on its map. But instead of doing that smart, sane thing, Google shows people world maps based on the political stances of whatever countries they’re accessing from. If your government doesn’t recognize a certain other government or border dispute, you don’t get to see that. In an attempt to stay out of politics, Google Maps agrees with whatever country your IP address is showing.

For example, the U.S. views Crimea as “occupied territory,” and accessing Google Maps in the U.S. will display Crimea with a dotted border, denoting its disputed status. But in Russia, Google Maps counts Crimea as part of Russia, with no border ambiguity. Similar disputes have cropped up throughout Google’s history, forcing the company into some pretty tricky political situations, like accidentally giving a German harbor to the Netherlands as if it’s trying to get World War III going.

Google MapsOur leading theory is that a Google employee wanted to be able to keep smoking weed on their boat.

But that’s not the only way Google is making governments pissed. India’s high court blasted Google Maps for publicly displaying the location of their (obviously not that secret) secret military bases, particularly ones that were close to their border with on-again / off-again enemy Pakistan. So the next time you’re mad at Google for forcing you into a blind left that clearly takes two minutes to complete instead of one, at least take some solace in the fact that it didn’t guide you into a nuclear war. And really, isn’t that a reasonable standard to hold map technology to?

Forget Google Maps, just grab a Rand McNally and hope for the best.

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What If Your Job Paid You To Do Absolutely Nothing?

Let’s say your enraged boss drags you into his office and says, “This is the last straw, Bozinski! [Your name is Bozinski] “Your punishment is that you will continue to draw your current salary and benefits, but you will be sent to a room and given no work to do, indefinitely!”

That’s a real thing that happens to actual workers around the world, and whether you would regard that as a vacation or a living hell probably says a lot about your personality. It happens to school teachers, for instance. In some places (like New York), if they’re accused of some kind of misconduct, they’re stuck in an empty room until the process is completed … which usually takes years. Day after day, week after week, they show up and sit at an empty desk, in silence.

We talked to Kelly, a teacher sentenced to one of these rooms for over a year, and found out the whole thing was even crazier in practice.

4

Yes, You Can Get Paid To Do Nothing (Or Just Sleep)

To be clear, there’s never an actual good reason to do this. In the case of the New York teachers, they could have been given some other task, or simply sent home. But this experience was designed to be torture. Phones were banned. Teachers were allowed laptops, but the room didn’t offer any internet — and once teachers started to steal WiFi from the coffee shop next door, the room put in a rule banning social media. The aim, reasons The New Yorker, was to make things so unbearable that they would get fed up and quit.

Maybe some do quit, giving up their salaries and saving the city a bundle. But if the bureaucrats behind this idea spent as much time in classrooms as teachers themselves do, they’d know what bored people stuck at desks are more likely to try:

Five Boroughs Productions

Sleeping right at the desk was standard operating procedure, and some teachers in Kelly’s room got extra creative. They brought in four or five sweaters, chained them into a blanket using the buttons, and then pushed five padded chairs together to make a cot. “It was pretty amazing,” says Kelly, “until the administrators checking in put a stop to it.” In time, sleeping turned into a game, wherein teachers challenged each other to nap in weird and wonderful positions. First under the table, then leaning. Then on your side behind the file cabinet. Then sitting above an open pudding cup, so when you fall forward, your face goes splat.

If this sounds like people gradually losing their minds, well, that’s pretty much what happened.

3

Some People Went Crazy

The popular nickname for reassignment rooms is “rubber rooms.” That’s because life there is like being in the padded cell of an asylum. Teachers went absolutely nuts as time went by, to the point where Kelly feared their actions might be used against them once their cases finally came up for review.

Fights nearly broke out, she says. Shouting was common. Boredom absolutely ravaged them. The woman who sat beside Kelly marked time by writing down a long series of numbers, one for each minute of the day. After a bathroom break, she’d say, “That’s five minutes off!” and cross off the five highest numbers. She’d do a few sets of push-ups and cross out the next ten. “And then,” says Kelly, “she would stare at the clock sometimes and cross off a number after each minute. She would look at the clock, wait a minute just to cross the next minute off. And she had a binder full of these.”

One teacher in Kelly’s room managed to get online, and he signed up for a Facebook profile under the name of one his students. He added a bunch of other students as friends and then … spammed them all with game invites. Specifically, he sent requests about a vampires vs. werewolves game, because the kid he was impersonating liked Twilight. When students realized the account was fake, he impersonated a different kid. “Then when he got bored of that, he would change Wikipedia articles to be factually wrong.”

Some teachers brought in musical instruments, and every time an employee of the building appeared, they’d bang out “The Imperial March” from Star Wars. Another teacher brought in a bunch of ingredients and mixed blueberry muffins at her desk, cooking the batter under a light bulb. This same woman used aluminum foil to build a solar cooker to grill hot dogs. With her, says Kelly, there was method to the madness. She wanted to be so annoying that the administrators would fast-track her case to get her out of there. “Which I’m all for,” says Kelly, “but the rest of us thought that pissing them off before review was not the best plan.”

2

Others Tried To Make The Best Of It

So The Room Where You Do Nothing was in many ways the sort of place Kafka would dream up. But to a certain kind of person, it was a pretty sweet gig. Some of the people sent to reassignment rooms had been teaching for decades and had been looking forward to retiring. In the reassignment room, they got a chance at the very sort of things they’d be doing all day during retirement — except they’d get paid for it.

“Cards were big,” says Kelly. “Sewing and macrame were big … We exercised. We read.”

A guy in the room was a big Tom Clancy fan. He used his term in limbo as an opportunity to write out webs of character lists and fan theories. He’d always wanted the time to do this, says Kelly, and now time was all he had. Another teacher was really into Lost. “She would print out character photos the night before and make double-stick tape trading cards out of index cards. She said she had the time of her life.”

Other teachers got smart and used the time to train for a new career, hopefully one that wouldn’t slowly drive them to madness in a boredom dungeon. They took classes, either at night or online, and while they were in the rubber room, they’d do their homework. “It was like going to school on scholarship.” One teacher Kelly knew got most of the way toward her master’s while still in the room.

Yeah, some teachers spent a long time in the reassignment room. Years went by as they waited for the DOE’s handful of arbitrators to get through their massive backlogs. The average stint in the rooms was three years. Some teachers did as many as 12.

1

There Are Old-Timers To Show You The Ropes, Kind Of Like In Prison Movies

“What are you in for?” one teacher might say to another. Kelly says she’d been falsely accused of helping kids cheat. Other teachers are sent away for really serious stuff, like hitting kids and sexual misconduct. And yet it seemed like every single inmate could explain away their accusation as some crazy misunderstanding, from the teacher sanctioned for teaching in an “unorthodox way” (no elaboration provided) to the guy who swore he’d been in the girls’ bathroom only because it was so much cleaner and quieter than the staff one.

But if movies have taught us anything about prison, it’s that every jail sentence comes with a grizzled but kindly mentor who will teach you what’s what. Kelly called these people “the old guard.” When she first showed up, she didn’t even know how she’d manage to pull off that most basic of rubber room activities — sleeping — because the room banned pillows (along with mattresses and beach chairs). But then a long-timer said, “There’s no rule against bringing sweatshirts from home inside your purse for a makeshift pillow.” Armed with this advice, Kelly spent many a peaceful hour asleep, her sweater stuffed under her head and her jacket draped over her.

This member of the old guard had been there five years. She knew which guards (sorry, we mean “building employees”) would let you leave the room to make an emergency phone call, which ones would never let you out period, and which would probably briefly let you out just whenever. She had the supervisors’ annual schedules memorized. Other old-timers were so in tune with the day’s routine that it was fascinating to watch them. One crafted an elaborate fitness regimen that lasted for hours, with a built-in break for when lunch began and a wrap-up exactly 15 minutes before the school day ended.

Kelly was released from the rubber room after one year and two weeks, so she never joined the old guard herself. And then the old-timers were all released as well, because in 2010, news of the rubber rooms finally came to light thanks to a documentary and several news stories. The public was outraged over the $65 million that went annually to these teachers who didn’t teach, and the backlash led New York to announce they were closing all the rooms.

Though the rooms returned years later in some form, New York mostly moved to making these teachers do administrative jobs rather than sticking them in detention. Reading and sleeping, of course, had been a lot less work than filing papers in some broom closet. But that’s exactly what makes rubber rooms so awful to be in, says Kelly. “It may sound great, but don’t be fooled,” she says. “It’s kind of fun for the first week or two, because you can get organized, look up everything on the web, play games. But that soon becomes nothing. You want a job. You want to do something meaningful.” Because while there are plenty of people out there happy to do nothing so long as they have money, very few of them choose to become teachers.

Evan V. Symon is a journalist and interview finder guy for the Personal Experiences section at Cracked. Have an awesome job or experience you’d like to see in an article? Then post us up here or here!

Teaching is difficult, consider getting your child’s teacher some tissues or other classroom supplies, just to help.

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8 Baffling Poop-Themed Toys Kids Are Lining Up To Buy

Maybe it’s due to the popularity of the poop emoji, or maybe it’s a trend that is somehow too intellectual for me to grasp, but today’s kids are into toy turds in a big way. I’m not speaking figuratively here. Right now, shelves are packed with products like …

8

Flushin’ Frenzy

Look at this shit:

GeekSP.IN/YouTube

Mattel is pretty much the biggest name in the toy industry. It’s a Fortune 500 company with revenue north of $5 billion, creating stuff like Barbies and Polly Pocket. And now they can add “game wherein a literal log of shit hits you in the face” to their list of winners. That one’s sure to make every little coprophiliac in your life froth at the mouth.

Here’s how the game works: You jam the rictus-grinned sewer pickle into the tank of a small toilet. You roll the die and then, as directed by the number, wrap your mitts around the comically small plunger and proceed to frantically pump the thing in a game of Russian Ass Roulette. If you’re lucky, your plunges go off without a hitch. But if you’re not, you will release the terrible turd Kraken that slumbers in the tank and send that Dysentery Howitzer rocketing into the sky.

This game has been featured in articles across the journalistic spectrum, from CNBC to USAToday to U.S. News and World Report. And why not? Someone spent time and money developing it for your children to enjoy. This is where are as a society. This is all we should be talking about.

7

Princess Poop

If you have electricity, you’ve seen the Poop Emoji. It’s so popular that Sir Patrick Stewart voiced it in a movie for reasons philosophers will debate later in human history. For now, it’s ubiquitous, the most famous of all emojis. And now it’s also fully feminist:

WEP

That sentient girl poop is but one example. There is an abundance of princess and queen poops on the market — which means they’re pink, if that wasn’t immediately apparent to you. That one has over 300 reviews on Amazon. Over 300 people got a stuffed pink shit and were so moved by its quality, or so distraught by the lack thereof, that they had to tell the world.

There are purple queen poops, vanilla-scented sprinkle poops, rhinestone poops, rainbow poops, and good ol’-fashioned American brown shits that are bedecked in pink bows so you know she’s still a lady under all that ass spackle.

WEP

Here’s a girl shit with her shit daughter, who was presumably born after the mom shit fucked a dad shit:

WEP

Amazon will drop over 2,000 results on you for the targeted search of “poop emoji,” because corporations around the world are rushing to get in on this bubble before it pops. At which point these toys will surely be replaced with something much, much worse.

6

Flush Force And Poopeez

Spin Master may not be as big as Hasbro or Mattel, but the Canadian company employs over 1,000 people worldwide and gave the world Bakugan, Air Hogs, Aquadoodle, and PAW Patrol. It has received 82 Toy of the Year nominations since 2002, more than any other toy maker in the world. When it comes to toys, they know what they’re doing, and what they’re doing now is taking Pikachu, drowning him in brown trout, and calling that “Flush Force.”

Spin Master

Flush Force really is basically Pokemon, but in a sewer. There’s an app to go with it, because of course there is, and 150 different toilet-themed little fellas like “Stink Eye” and “Hot Clog.” Hot Clog? Just savor that one for a moment. Savor the simple brilliance of that. A clogged toilet is meh, who cares. But apply heat. Make that sucker exothermic. Just simmering away down there for fun. That’s glorious. Gotta catch ’em all.

In the same ballpark bathroom as Flush Force are Poopeez, a series of small, squishy busted grumpies from Basic Fun, a company that has over 80 major licensing agreements with companies like Lucasfilm, Nintendo, and Hasbro.

Basic Fun

The name game over at Camp Poopeez never hit the heights of “Hot Clog,” so you’re forced to deal with visionary creations like “Skid Mark,” “Franken-poop” and the I-can’t-quite-see-the-joke “Dutch Oveness.” It’s an elderly turd with a tiara and jewels. So you mean Duchess Oven, right? Like royalty, but a fart joke? What the hell is a Dutch Oveness? What an utter lack of creativity. Really makes you long for the days of “Hot Clog.”

5

Sticky The Poo

Ask any kid, and they’ll tell you that their favorite quality of a really primo shit is how it sticks to things. The company Hog Wild knows this, and delivered on countless hopes and dreams with “Sticky the Poo,” a sticky shit that sticks and looks like shit. Listen, I don’t have a lot to describe here, so you’re going to be hearing this frequently.

Vat19/YouTube

Sticky is embedded like so many bits of corn all over the internet, on sites like Amazon, Vat19, and my personal favorite, Scholar’s Choice — a site designed to market educational toys for kids so parents don’t have to worry about all that frivolous junk at most stores. Sticky the Poo is scholarly, right? Teaches kids about viscosity and density and such. The site praises it as a good choice for teaching your child gross motor skills. Hey, emphasis on the “gross,” am I right? Ahh, poop humor. May you forever be.

Amazon has opted to make Sticky the Poo an “Amazon’s Choice” product, which means it’s recommended as a highly rated, well-priced product. You have to take Amazon’s word for this, because I defy anyone to explain what the appropriate price point is for “shit that sticks to things.”

4

Toilet Trouble

Oh, yeah, it’s another “Try to avoid having human waste products flung at your face!” game. It’s a whole genre. Hasbro’s Toilet Trouble is like a plastic middle school bully that you can gift to your children. For this, you simply spin the toilet paper roll and flush the toilet. The unlucky will then have the toilet belch forth a stagnant spray of fun right into their faces, teaching them once and for all that the mirth of others is entirely dependent on them getting a snootful of tepid splashback.

Hasbro

The popularity of Toilet Trouble is staggering. Over 80 reviews at Walmart, 200 at Toys R Us, a ball-chilling 400 at Amazon, and you better believe they’re all from people almost universally stoked by their experience of getting hosed down by the crapper. You know what passes for a negative review of this game? “Did not shoot toilet water in my face.” That’s the chief complaint. “I wanted a septic system face bath and this thing didn’t deliver, what the fuck?”

3

Don’t Step In It

If you have dogs, or a super lazy dad, you’ve experienced a solid footblast of shit in your day. No one likes to step in shit. Now, what’s the basis of every good board game you can think of? Doing something you absolutely hate, if Monopoly is any indication. So it must have been a no-brainer for Hasbro to come up with this clever contraption, which asks you to try to avoid stepping in shit. That’s the whoooole game.

But don’t worry, they made it more reasonable by giving you a blindfold, so it’s fun now.

Hasbro

Here’s part of the description from Amazon:

  • Mold the included compound to look like piles of poop
  • Step in the fewest poops to win
  • Play with friends or dodge the poop solo

Imagine being at a point in your life where you’re dodging poop solo for fun. That’s only a few licks of lead paint away from dancing with your cat by candlelight. And because it’s Hasbro, this game is everywhere — Amazon, Walmart, Target, Toys R Us, pretty much any place you can think of that sells games. Is it, in fact, harder to avoid than stepping in a pile of shit?

2

POOP: The Game

POOP: The Game is a game in which you have to be the first to get rid of all your cards whilst avoiding clogging the toilet. It’s like a smellier version of UNO. Many of the cards feature cartoon pictures of turds bedazzled with corn nuggets. Because corn is hard to digest, you see, and will often stud your shit like diamonds in a tiara. This is educational, please take notes.

Breaking Games

Boardgamegeek.com has over 200 ratings for POOP, which was born from a Kickstarter campaign that nearly 700 people backed in 2014. Now you can buy it at Target and Amazon, where it has a solid four-star rating after over 400 reviews. At this point, it’s kind of weird that you’re not playing it right now.

1

Poopyhead And Doody Head

When you’re trying to come up with a tagline for a poop-themed game, you want to pen something more inspired than “This game is shit,” because maybe someone will misunderstand. The Poopyhead game — not to be confused with the Doody Head game — offers up “The game where number 2 always wins.” Get it? Number two? That’s a shit euphemism inside a gaming pun! Shitception!

Identity Games

Both Poopyhead and Doody Head ask you to hang a grogan right on your melon so others in the room can experience some solid jollity at your expense. In Poopyhead, you have to get rid of all the cards in your hand first, and if you fail, a crown of rubber ass biscuit for you, good sir. In Doody Head, someone just throws Velcro shits at you. Both games have hundreds of reviews, and neither one really does much to answer the question of why, exactly, a shit on your head is such rollicking good fun. But if we’ve learned nothing else from the proliferation of dung-themed toys, it’s that there is clearly a zeitgeist here. We live in shitful times.

Daron

Or, you know, kids think poop is funny.

Come on, you know you want that ridiculous poop emoji plush displayed prominently in your room. Go for it.

Support Cracked’s journalism with a visit to our Contribution Page. Please and thank you.

For more bizarre toys, check out The 13 Most Unintentionally Disturbing Children’s Toys and 27 Famous Childhood Toys That Are Terrifying in Retrospect.

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The Sad Reality Of A Christian Pick-Up Artist

This is the story of a man who raged against the vagina and lost. A man whose erection died a thousand deaths, until all it had left was its God. But at its core, it’s the redemption tale of a man who went from sex predator to sex predator for the Lord. If you have any holes on you, you already know who I’m talking about: pick-up artist and author Don Diebel.

It’s important to me that you know this is a real person, and not some wacky character I invented for an SNL audition. This man is an actual author who wrote real books. Here is how he appeared in the actual June 1990 issue of real publication Texas Monthly:

Coming into the 1980s, Don Diebel’s only personality trait was sex. Whether he was out on the town or at home coyly staring the panties off you from white overalls with no shirt or muscle tone, Don made every interaction into penetration. You may look at his picture and think, “This guy? He looks like a Before picture in an Out Traveler control shampoo ad.” Sick burn, but don’t be fooled. He waged a four-decade crusade against unfilled orifices. Planned Parenthood nurses would call him the Baba Yaga.

Don, a leading Texas pussy vagrant, started off with the noble goal of teaching others how to swindle strangers out of sex. It’s a cause that would consume and ultimately destroy him, but at the age 33, Don didn’t know any of this. He only knew two things, and both of them were titties. With his thick, wavy hair going prematurely white — a totally-worth-it side effect of mustache ride friction — he wrote his first book on the thing he thought he did best: How To Pick Up Women In Discos.

Unfortunately, Don wasn’t as great with language as he was with nipple play. He wrote like a man who spent elementary school crushing ass instead of learning sentence structure. He made love like a dream, but when he typed, his commas limply flopped into the wrong spots like a porn actor who lied on his resume. Don Diebel is first and foremost a lover, and not at all any kind of second thing. No publisher wanted his manuscript.

To circumvent the literary world’s decency and taste, Don started his own publishing company. The newly founded Gemini Pub Co’s first book, How To Pick Up Women In Discos, became an instant critical and financial failure. What happened? Well, Don Diebel can only spell “pusy,” and he writes like eight of his fingers are trapped in a butt. Politics also played a part. It’s easy to forget that women in 1980 had to file taxes as “female livestock or lipstick storage equipment,” and they could still be arrested for removing the tuna from a Jell-O casserole recipe. Yet even during that era, Don’s book on “picking up” women was seen as sexist. So Diebel bounced back in 1982 with the more gently titled THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO MEETING WOMEN. It was pretty much the same book.

Don still had issues with punctuation, grammar, and spelling, but you don’t buy a book like THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO MEETING WOMEN because you have keen communication skills. You buy it because your swollen balls were in the bookstore shrieking, “Aargh! Try anything! Heeelp!” Here’s what’s crazy, though: This book is almost criminally wrong about how to approach women. Applying this book to your game is like adding anime rants and seven mouth sores to your game. If you’ve had sex fewer than 70 times, reading THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO MEETING WOMEN legally restores your virginity. Let’s look at some excerpts (1982 first edition). All typos are Don’s.

The first chapter is mostly for fun. It describes the different types of women you’ll run into in the disco. Watch out for The Man-Hater! She’s a type of wildlife who only goes to singles bars to make mean faces at men asking for casual sex. You can skip most of this chapter, since if you use the techniques described in the book, you’ll find virtually all women fall into this category.

This section helps establish some of the rules for the ladies. If you make eye contact with Don Diebel, then great. Enjoy the moistest night of your life. And if you make the mistake of not accepting his penis, the least you could do is give honest but fair notes on what he and it could have done better.

Stay where you are, though, silent and alert. Don will have some questions and arguments, followed by several sexual offers of reduced intimacy, such as “handjob” or “eat your ass.” Wait for him to fully complete his exit interview before going home. If you do remain in the club, you tease, return to Don often, and a bit hornier if you don’t mind, for up to ten last chances. Don understands this can be inconvenient, but it’s what you signed up for when you brought a vagina with you outside.

So let me get this straight, Don. You spend your afternoons looking for the least interesting alcoholic in Houston’s Holiday Inn bars, and you’re willing to be slapped and humiliated for the desperate, minuscule chance to destroy an already sad person’s marriage. And after years of this, you think, “I should write an advice book to help others avoid this tragic life. Wait. No, the opposite.” This whole book is like getting advice from the world champion of diarrhea speed eating.

Judging by the advice he gives, Don considers a woman not taking a swing at him to be a sexual conquest. His approach is to take the tact of a subway masturbator, combine it with the charm of a subway masturbator, then remove all self-awareness. So yes, of course it seems like topless dancers are “easy lays” to him. When he talks to a woman in literally any other line of work, she calls the police before he says a second thing.

It’s important to note that Diebel thinks he invented trying to fuck strippers. This will be a recurring theme in his books, along with another overlooked source of eligible bachelorettes:

With this level of relentless pursuit, I have to wonder how Don managed to stay single. I’d ask one of his former lovers about it, but this entry makes me think I’d need a team of dogs and a shovel to find one.

Women, this is going to sound like obvious advice after you hear it, but find yourself a man who can list nine different swingers magazines before he even gets to the mediocre ones.

Whether it’s Carl Sagan or Neil deGrasse Tyson, a good science communicator finds ways to take complicated, expansive concepts and translate them into conversational language. Others, such as Don Diebel, might ramble for 57 words about untested neuroscience instead of suggesting “Point at your dick?”

Shout out to 1982’s Barbara, who managed to have the most uncomfortable line in a panty sniffer’s How To Date-Rape book. This was your chance to help people, and you really blew it, Barbara. I don’t know why I’m lecturing you, though. You’ve probably been dead 30 years, and your entire eulogy was just your bartender telling a coroner, “Yeah, I think that’s Britney.”

If a lady isn’t having a good time at a party where a man is leaning against a wall pointing at his dick, it’s probably because she’s sitting too far away to see. Move in close, wiggling your fingers around your genitals as necessary. If her eyesight is especially bad, here is how you say “I’M POINTING AT MY DICK” in Braille:

Haha wait, what? Fucking what, Don Diebel? This is a complete reversal of what you were saying last page. I’d hate to find out I became registered as a sex offender in 19 states by following the advice of a guy who was so full of shit he couldn’t even keep his own wisdom straight. Oh, great. Now you’ve got me writing GOP slogans.

Well, yeah. Duh. I have a boner, Don, not a passion for sorcery.

Don Diebel, if masturbation fantasies were forced by universal law to come true, we would all be hunky detectives investigating erotic mysteries with Shannon Tweed. Every few hours, we would suddenly find ourselves buried in confusing piles of our stepmother’s pantyhose. You can’t conjure things by fantasizing about them really hard. And if you could, the least imaginative seventh-grader would occupy the free time of every hot girl in the world. Don Diebel, listen. You can literally look down at your own lonely, unwelcome dick to know none of this is true, Don.

THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO MEETING WOMEN continues like that for a while, going into great detail on how to hypnotize yourself to be more seductive and offering beginner hygiene tips to avoid being a dealbreaker at orgies. The book was, by any measure, a humiliating disaster. His eager, virgin dong still had more to teach, but cracks were starting to form in Don Diebel’s fragile soul.

It had been eight years since the release of THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO MEETING WOMEN, and the book only became popular in one community: district attorneys presenting evidence in rape trials. But Don had an idea that could turn his literary career around — an idea most people would call embarrassing. It was a pick-up artist book written by a man, but for, get this, ladies.

It’s worth noting that the two-time failed author whose advice on hitchhikers was “try to fuck them” was now describing himself on book jackets with “Don Diebel — World famous writer, author, lecturer, dating consultant, TV and radio personality, astrologer, has helped thousands of lonely hearts win at the game of love with his phenomenal best-sellers.”

FINDING MR. RIGHT: A Woman’s Guide To Meeting Men was an ambitious project to take female victims and sexually aggressive disco creeps and swap their brains. If it worked, it would be the greatest breakthrough in free vagina since Donald Trump had a daughter. And if it didn’t, Don Diebel would just look like a lonely idiot whose greatest ambition was to get away with sexual assault — the exact thesis of his last book. Let’s see how things worked out. Once again, all typos and grammatical errors have been respectfully left in.

The first chapter is mostly for fun. It describes the different types of men you’ll run into in the nightclub. Watch out for The Woman-Hater! He only came here to get cranky when women offer him- hold on, this sounds way too familiar. Did he … no. No, he couldn’t have. There’s no way.

Oh, holy shit. This is … oh, holy shit. Don’s book on helping ladies find romance is just THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO MEETING WOMEN, word for word, with the genders switched. This maniac actually knows so little about women that he thinks he can search-and-replace pronouns in a pussy-grabbing handbook and it will work as woman’s guide to finding love. That’s … that’s the most sexist thing but also somehow the least sexist thing I’ve ever heard.

When I realized he rewrote the same book (again), only with different pronouns, I thought, “OK, but he’s going to take out the section on banging hitchhikers, right?” He fucking didn’t! All he did was add three sentences to assure the eager female reader that while it is dangerous, she still has at least a 51 percent chance of surviving sex in her car with a destitute drifter. But before you jump on that “golden opportunity,” girls, keep in mind that these statistics are only the casual speculation of a lonely man who dreams of one day porking a hitchhiker. They are not official numbers from a census of highway stabbing incidents.

If you’re luring junkie male strippers home with cocaine, you’re operating at the very highest level of finding Mr. Right and Don Diebel can teach you no more. You started as a sad woman with a book and an unused lap. Now you have a man who loves your cocaine and cares about your cocaine, but who needs to leave soon to rub his balls on a birthday party. And he will remain faithful to you until the very moment a different person has cocaine. On behalf of all women and everyone who believes in true love, thank you, Don Diebel.

Maybe I didn’t give Don enough credit for his ability to adjust to feminine thinking. He made a few changes other than search-replacing the pronouns in his manual for beginner sex predators. For instance, in the male version of the book, the astrology section was about tricking gullible women into your home to pretend to do astrology. In the female version, there’s a bit of astrology.

One chapter of the female version of his book was four pages about where you can meet horny rich men. This replaced a chapter for the men devoted to infiltrating swinger communities. He may not be a smart man, but Don has been kicked out of enough orgies to know that women prefer cash prizes to group sex.

When FINDING MR. RIGHT: A Woman’s Guide To Meeting Men — the female reboot of the previous reboot of an unpublishable book — didn’t work out, Don knew he had to innovate. His keen mind, honed by years of imagining vulvas, thought: “What if there was a collection of pages that contained the names, locations, and phone numbers of businesses!?” He then published THE HOUSTON ENTERTAINMENT AND Dating GUIDE: WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO DO FROM A TO Z

This joyless list of business hours and addresses contained 100 pages, eight grainy photos, and several short descriptions of what things like art galleries and senior citizen centers are as basic concepts. If you were in the Houston area in the early ’90s and wished the Yellow Pages were harder to navigate and written by a pervert, it made the perfect gift. Unfortunately, this was not a large enough group of people to make the book a hit.

So after publishing one pick-up artist book three different ways and one Houston Yellow Pages spec script, Don spent eight years coming up with his realest idea yet. It was a book about picking up chicks, but focusing on the only part he’d ever experienced: the opening line.

In 1999, at the age of 52, Don Diebel published 1001 Best Pick-Up Lines: Sure-fire Opening Lines For Meeting, Attracting, and Seducing Women. On the book jacket, he described himself as “America’s #1 Singles Expert and one of the nation’s leading experts on dating and relationships.” He was back and doing what he did best: creating awkward situations between a handful of sad men and their book store clerks, then nothing fucking close to anything else.

Fun fact: The book was also published on CD-ROM, but instead of featuring a hot chick getting seduced in a bar, Don used clip art of what seems to be a hospitality worker explaining to a passenger that his mother just fell off the back of the cruise ship. A strange choice, and also one irrelevant to anything I’ll be discussing! Let’s take a look inside:

Women love honesty, but they also love mystery, which makes this a perfect line, because she will find this honesty very mysterious. And then you have her right where you want her, engaging in the sensual game of cat and mouse that is seduction. She’s thinking, “Did this elderly man really fuck a breach into his blow-up doll, or does he have a poor sense of humor and no judgement?” and you’re thinking, “LICK HER TOES, COWARD. NO, MOTHER, I MUSTN’T! LICK HER TOES, COWARD.”

At first this seems like innocent wordplay, but it’s so much more. This line subliminally recreates that erotic feeling that only exists between the moment you open a Valentine’s Day card from a child and the moment you place it in the trash. She will be overwhelmed with a sense of predictable, expected disappointment.

If you built a robot to package toothpaste and it left the factory to go house to house tearing the teeth from every mouth it found, it would be better at its job than this line is at picking up women.

This one isn’t bad, Don, but the default human greeting seems a bit obvious for a book promising “Sure-fire opening lines for meeting, attracting, and seducing women” from “America’s #1 Singles Expert.” This is kind of like including “milk” in a cookbook, or “none” in The Comprehensive Guide To Vaginas Don Diebel Has Actually Seen.

“Because if you are, your pizza, pastas, and zeal for life really plumb my koopas. And lasagna? I’m sorry, no woman has ever let me talk this long. I- aaaaaaahhhhh I’m! Is this? I-I’m CUMMMING!!!!”

This is such an amazing combination of stupid, confusing, and pathetic that I think Don has given up trying to seduce ladies and now he’s simply searching for the secret cheat code to turn off a woman’s nervous system. There is one good thing about this pick-up line, though: If the club is too noisy for her to hear you, you can communicate the exact same thing by sadly holding out a condom while your own pants fill with pee. Which, if I’m not mistaken, is the Diebel family crest.

This opening line can really move things along, but it only works on Alzheimer’s patients who are willing to have sex with the men they think are their children.

No, she’s still not Italian, Don. Are you fucking stupid? Why did you write a book promising 1,001 conversation starters if the only nine honest conversations you can have are about swingers magazines? Don, when your pick-up lines are so dull you can’t remember them from earlier on the same fucking page of your own book, how are they going to work on the real women laughing at the little mustache you grew to hide your chimpanzee lips? How many times will you ask them if they’re Italian while they’re telling the bouncer you were smelling their bar stools? A million dollars says the closest you’ve ever come to actual sex is when you found a pizza pocket in your swimming trunks. You miserable fuck, Don Diebel.

While she’s lubricating from your Laffy Taffy cleverness, follow this line up with “That counts! You all saw! FIRST BASE FOR DIEBEL! Ow! Stop! OK, I’m leaving! I, HEY! I’m entitled to a phone call! I need to tell my mother I met a girl!”

Let’s imagine this in a best-case scenario. Let’s say this woman alone at the bar has no defenses against aggressive perverts. Let’s say she believes there was a fart and that it wasn’t you, Don Diebel, the man giving local fart updates to strangers. Say she abandons her drink and runs outside with the obvious pervert screaming about farts. Does this seem reasonable, Don? Because we’re not done.

Don, you seem to think a woman’s mood can be manipulated with suggestion and imperceptible body language. If that’s true, and we’re just playing games now because it isn’t, wouldn’t it work in the opposite direction? Don’t you think running up to her with a butt smell emergency might undo the 40 seconds you spent trying to get her to look at your dick? By your own science, you’ve implanted yourself in her subconscious as the bar-clearing fart guy, Don. And no one steps out on their husband with the bar-clearing fart guy.

Of course this guy has a feet thing. Jesus Christ, Don, at this point you might as well ask for her address and if it’s OK for you to keep any Maxi Pads she throws out.

This isn’t how meeting people works or how licking people works. The nicest thing anyone has ever said about Don Diebel is this quote I wrote for the back of his next book: “Don Diebel’s direct, slobbery approach to picking up women saves everyone time! Most sexual predators hide their dark intentions behind charm until it’s far too late!”

You probably know this is the desperate act of a sex criminal and wouldn’t work. If you did this one million times, you would see zero boobs and be the least popular man in prison. This is like writing a book on finance and suggesting, “Sell a stolen bike for $50 million! (Someone out there might actually do it. Billionaires are noted eccentrics.)” And don’t fucking forget, Don Diebel wrote this when he was a 52-year-old man. That’s almost 40 years past puberty, and he still cannot even imagine what it would look like if a woman said a second thing to him.

There’s no way anyone is this bad with women. If you told me this book was a marketing scheme created by the pepper spray industry, I would pretend I knew it all along.

Is that true, women? Call the police for “no,” and dry heave for a more comical “no.”

I’ve made fun of a lot of the stuff in this book, but this one is just good writing. It’s effective, too. Approaching a woman as if you have an emergency and then revealing you’re only a horny idiot works in any situation. For instance, if you’re at the DMV, say, “You crazy bitch, I know you took my cat!” Then I wait six, maybe seven beats, and finish, “…alog for big penis rubbers. Hi, are you Italian? Can Italians catch herpes on their feet?”

Let the record show: America’s #1 Singles Expert suggests, in his chapter on daddy-themed pick-up lines, that you should tell a woman her dad makes you horny with a trumpet pun.

If hundreds of miracles simultaneously take place and you find yourself in a relationship with the woman you say this to, this opening line will torment her every moment. At night, she will lay awake remembering how you introduced yourself. She’ll think about it when you’re inside her. She’ll go onto pervert forums and trumpet subreddits, desperately looking for answers. “My lover said my father must play the trumpet because he sure does make him horny. Please, what does it mean?” You couldn’t say anything more hauntingly unappealing if you walked up to a stranger and asked to slide your cold hands into her tits.

Oh, come on. Fuck your frigid soul, Don Diebel. You would lick a hole into an old shoe if you thought a female garbage collector touched it.

This book contains an entire chapter of Beavis And Butthead pick-up lines. Not similar in theme to Beavis And Butthead, but direct quotes and references to the cartoon. I don’t have a joke about that; I just want you to know it exists.

Don also included a chapter specifically about picking up topless dancers with lines like “What’s your real name?” and, I swear to God this is a line in its entirety, “Show me your bush!” He suggests saying, “Don’t you get tired of all these horny men with their brain between their legs?” on the same page as, “Don’t you get tired of being around all these drunks and horny men acting like a bunch of idiots?” Most of the other lines are different ways you can shame her and her filthy job.

Don Diebel is absolutely the lonely man in the strip bar earnestly seeking a human relationship. If you asked any stripper to list the cliches this type of man says, she could write, word-for-word, Don Diebel’s chapter on picking up topless dancers. As he went into the year 2000, Don was a 53-year-old man offering sex to sex workers with all the allure of a cockroach feeding on Charlie Sheen’s blood. And things didn’t get much better in the next decade.

The 2000s were a slow time for Diebel’s publishing. His first five books were the dark fantasies of a monster too sheepish to go through with a real kidnapping. He was a second penis on the only panda in a zoo — useless in ways too obvious and depressing to get into.

Dwell magazine did an interview with him, not as a pick-up artist, but as a lamp expert. Apparently, they saw an article on his website about romantic lighting, and thought he would be the perfect expert to review three modern lamps. Each of his reviews were the incoherent ramblings of someone you would only describe as a non-lamp-expert, but that’s not important. What’s important is it revealed Don Diebel had a website, and it’s exactly what you’d expect.

It’s called Getgirls.com, and it sells sex cologne, romance cassettes, and his stupid goddamn books. And these are not products for presentable men looking to enhance their desirability — Getgirls.com is totally banking on you having several crippling emotional disorders and facial defects. His approach to women is 100 percent “You’re barely slime, so why not try groveling and titty-grabbing.” Here’s a screenshot:

Getgirls.com’s products are designed to turn unwilling women into sex partners, which is strange, because it’s the one thing the site’s creator has plainly never done. It sells pheromone perfume for inventive rapists and hypnosis tapes for horny magicians. But selling snake oil for inflatable-doll-scented penises wasn’t as successful as you might imagine, so Don tried one last time to write a book on scoring babes. Let’s talk about 2009’s 200 Guaranteed Ways To Succeed With Women: Everything You Need To Know On How To Meet, Date, And Attract Women.

This book is pathetic, yes, but not like the others. This one mostly focuses on how to deal with the overwhelming depression that comes with being Don Diebel. It’s less a guide to crushing ass and more of a training manual for a crisis hotline volunteer. The entries are self-help mantras like “Cure for the blues (#10)” and “How to be happy (#14),” which take up less than a whole page put together. And #30 is just “How to eat Italian food,” with a couple of tips on table manners. But let me tell you about #29. Oh, holy shitting fuck, #29.

Imagine the erotic memoirs of a 62-year-old virgin who never learned to write and still isn’t sure which of the blobs is the mons pubis. That’s what I’m about to show you. The 29th Guaranteed Way to Succeed with Women is called “My date from hell,” and it’s an un-proofread account of Don Diebel’s greatest sexual triumph:

One of the reasons Diebel’s pick-up lines are so bad is that half-naked women jump on him before he can practice them. And if you’re thinking none of this happened, which of these two scenarios is more likely?

A: A sad man with a history of bad ethics falsifies an unverifiable and unlikely story in which he’s highly motivated to lie.

B: The hottest girl, like, ever gets into a vehicle alone with a non-handsome elderly man as he’s trying to drive over sunbathers.

C: Oh, you weren’t expecting a C, ladies? It was to catch you off-guard so I could subliminally end this sentence with three sexually charged words penis, butt, penis. Hi, I’m Seanbaby, and I’ve read all of Don Diebel’s books. Show me your bush.

Assuming this date really happened (and aren’t we being cute), Don offered to drive Hot Bikini Girl to his place. She agreed, but instead of a wild night of romance, they discovered Don left his dog home alone with no water while he was cruising for hard bodies. It was comatose from dehydration. This means in an imaginary story wherein Diebel controls every detail, he nearly murders his own dog and can’t close the deal with the loose stranger who came to his house for sex. But don’t give up yet. We’re not even close to done.

OK, so Don Diebel killed his dog, but not before it got way more action from his date than he did.

Despite the loss of his best friend, Don was still in the mood for love. Obviously, he could drive back to the beach to find a replacement hot girl, maybe even one who hadn’t watched a dog die on her own mouth that afternoon. But Diebel was going to finish what he started — he took the same girl to dinner, on a helicopter tour of the city, to a nightclub, and then to the pier, his beloved dead companion still lingering on her breath.

None of the date was going well. She flirted with other men, Don picked a fight with her, and she jumped into a lake and nearly died. “I was pissed,” remembers Don. But you don’t get to be America’s #1 Singles Expert by giving up easily. Don took the wet girl he hated back to his house, where he planned to have meaningless sex mere feet from a bag of dog food to go forever uneaten. Instead, this happens:

That was quite an adventure, right? It’s obviously — OBVIOUSLY — not true, but all good lies have elements of truth in them. So, Houston police, there’s a really good chance Don is describing the time he killed his dog, drugged a woman, and threw her body in a lake. The only part of the story I 100 percent believe is that Don couldn’t get laid even with the world’s sluttiest girl over the course of eight location changes.

Don reprinted this story on a self-help(!) website, and I really encourage speculative fiction fans to go read it in its entirety: My Date From Hell. But do that later, because we’re about to enter the 2010s, the decade when Don Diebel truly lost his entire mind.

With the forgettable 200 Guaranteed Whatevers To Disappoint Your Erection behind him, Don had to reach deep into his vulva-haunted brain for an original idea. He didn’t find one. He published 100 Best Places To Take A Date, with ideas like “miniature golf” and “pizza.” It was a dickless shadow of an idea already written by thousands of history’s dumbest, least imaginative writers and made long obsolete by phone books. Diebel’s inspirations were as drained as the balls of a man who seductively screams “Show me your bush!” at topless dancers.

Fun Fact: This is the actual copy of 100 Best Places to Take a Date sent to me by Don Diebel. It came with a homemade label, no case, and an advertisement for a CD on dominating pussy no longer in stock. Wait, out of stock? You’re an old man burning CD-ROMs in his apartment. How does that supply chain get disrupted? Was there some kind of button shortage on your mouse? Did your assisted living nurse throw out the floppy disk that had dom_pu~1.wpd on it? This last one isn’t a joke but a real guess: did you get banned from Radio Shack for attempted rape? I guess my point is, Don Diebel isn’t good at anything.

Destroyed by the soul-crushing realization that he was out of ideas for seducing women, he gave up and wrote what might be the loneliest book title since Single Player Rules for Fallout: The Board Game. Here it is:

Don Diebel was alone in a universe where ass no longer held meaning. The Easy Way To IMPROVE YOUR GOLF WITH S/A GOLF HYPNOTISM took the same self-hypnosis nonsense Don was using 35 years earlier to psych himself up for a poontang hunt and adapted it for golf. For a professional chick hound, it was like finally turning a dead husband’s den into a sewing room. It was like tattooing DO NOT RESUSCITATE on your dick and smothering it with a pillow. It was Don Diebel concluding that he would never learn if the Masters of the Universe Horde Slime Pit Playset actually did feel like a real-life blowjob. Diebel was fucking done.

No. Not yet. With a dusty cough, Don Diebel’s groin rose from the grave. There had to be one last thing he could try, one last light to cling to. And then Don realized the secret to pussy was right in front of him all along: the majesty of Jesus Christ. Or as he put it in the intro to his next book:

This would sound a bit absurd coming from anyone else, but if Don Diebel is hearing another voice in his bed, it can only be coming from Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, this idea God gave him for a book sucked, and Don’s newfound lord and savior was an even worse editor. They say He’s infallible, but He couldn’t get through the second sentence of the introduction before missing a this typo. Other philosophers have said this before me, but checkmate, all religion.

This book is desperate groveling on a cosmic, spiritual level. It is a whisper in the darkness pleading for someone, anyone to send Don Diebel a butt to touch. It’s a man complaining to the creator of all things for giving women a choice in their sex partners. Let me show you what I’m talking about:

Nothing is a more perfect Bible quote for Don Diebel’s dating life than one about staying strong in the face of rejection and getting help from your hand.

About a quarter of the book is Bible verses loosely related to rejection and loneliness, but the majority of it is things like this, dating advice rewritten in the form of prayer. Don will call up Jesus and say things like, “Please help me make sure my body language is sexually suggestive and that I have an air of self-assured confidence because ladies love that. In your name I pray, Amen.” So in a way, it’s a very sad Don Diebel typing out his prayers. In another way, it’s a very confident pick-up veteran telling Jesus Himself how to score pussy.

You sad bitch. Your body language advice used to be “point at your dick.” Now it’s “pretend you’re holding a guy’s hand?” Don, you are 70 years old, and you’re still trolling nightclubs for ass? You can’t call any of your countless former lovers to see if their self-esteem is still low enough to watch your partial erection flutter? I’m starting to think it was shortsighted to introduce yourself to every woman by offering to lick the pool water off her feet.

As sad as this prayer is, it gets sadder. It’s reprinted one page later in the exact same section, word for word. At this point, Don has given up on Jesus sending him single women and would be fine with Jesus sending him the tools to cope with depression. Don, you’re a septuagenarian sex book author who never learned where commas or penises go. How about you stop nagging Jesus for the impossible and thank Him for inspiring you to fill that puppet’s mouth with anal lubricant?

For decades, this man has destroyed every relationship he’s had by immediately checking if she’s the legendary woman who gives out free sex to everyone brave enough to ask. And here is what it led to: Don Diebel, after authoring ten books on scoring chicks, is begging Jesus for a girl in a prayer that sounds like it was written by a third-year third-grader. Failure isn’t a big enough word, and Hitlerfailure hasn’t been invented yet. Don’t feel sorry for Don, though. This is, without exception, the future every woman he’s met starting in 1980 has warned him about. The tragic story of Don Diebel is only surprising because we’re not used to such obvious, twistless endings.

I’ve learned a lot by reading Don Diebel’s books. I’ve learned that you can’t shove your nuts into the night and call it “meeting women.” Now and always, you have to treat women with respect, and loop your thumbs in your belt so your fingers point at your own dick, creating a subliminal message those confused drunk sluts can’t resist. And if that doesn’t work, Plan B is Jesus.

With this victory, Seanbaby is the new America’s #1 Singles Expert. You can follow him on Twitter and play his hit mobile game Calculords.

Ladies, if you encounter a Don Diebel out there, here’s a link to some pepper spray.

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