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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.

5

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.

4

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?

3

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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For more stories you should have heard about but probably didn’t, check out 29 Pieces Of Good News That Got Choked Out By Trump Stories and 7 Pieces Of Good News About Huge Stories (No One Told You).

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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.

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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.

If you loved this article and want more content like this, support our site with a visit to our Contribution Page. Please and thank you.

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Land That Lucrative IT Job With This Certification Bundle

This piece was written by the people who run the Cracked Store to tell you about products that are being sold there.

Pursuing a career in IT is about as smart a move as one can make. It’s not just about all of the money (a ton) and raw sexual magnetism (eh, everyone has their thing) associated with the craft. Working in IT is also potentially the most stable career possible. And no, we don’t just mean that once those robot dogs from Boston Dynamics take over the world, IT people are the only ones they’ll let live. IT is stable, because IT is applicable to just about every modern business possible.

But if you want to succeed in IT, you need a CompTIA certification. CompTIA is one of the most respected trade associations in the industry, and makes for the proverbial shiny gold star on your resume. Right now, you can get full training and prep to pass seven different CompTIA tests with the Complete 2018 CompTIA Certification Training Bundle. You can grab these 14 programs — $4,927 altogether — right now for just $59. They include …

CompTIA A+ 220-901: This one’s the basic IT training, covering installation, preventative maintenance, security, and client communication. Basically, they’re the professional skills you already started to develop when you helped your aunt install a budget app when you were 12.

CompTIA A+ 220-902: This one is a bit more advanced, and gets into hardware training. You’ll learn to install and configure PC operating systems, which might come in handy in case you need to upgrade a Terminator’s processing unit to feel emotions.

CompTIA Cloud Essentials CLO-001: This course will teach you cloud computing, which is sure to be invaluable once the robots harvest our bodies for energy and upload our collective consciousness to that cloud. Worst-case scenario (like if robots don’t take over and harvest our bodies), this certification will still be beneficial for landing a sweet IT job.

CompTIA Security+ SY0-401: This will turn you into Jonny Lee Miller from the movie Hackers. (Not literally of course. That would take years of plastic surgery and some very weird self-esteem issues.)

CompTIA Security + SY0501: This will turn you into Angelina Jolie from the movie Hackers. (Possibly literally. We haven’t tested it yet.)

CompTIA IT Fundamentals FC0-U51: This is a pretty broad overview course, laying a foundation of killer IT knowledge, and it may or may not turn you into a character from the movie Hackers.

Manage & Secure Mobile Devices Like a Pro: Are you tired of being laughed at by those goshdarn Millennials and their smartphones? Well, you will now rule over them with an iron fist, because after this course, you’ll be the only person who can fix that phone when it gets all messed up.

CompTIA Cloud+: Here, you’ll pick up more advanced knowledge of clouds, how to implement them, and how to keep them from poofing away (or whatever sound clouds make).

CompTIA Project+ PK0-003: Project Management skills are some of the essential skills for your IT career, and this course will download them directly into that squishy lump of grey matter resting in your skull.

CompTIA Linux+ XKO-002: This course will have you running a Linux system, and you will feel confident in your ability to continue running that Linux system, you savvy IT wizard, you.

CompTIA CSA+: This cybersecurity certification shows that you can combat security threats. So … Matthew Lillard from Hackers, we guess.

CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner: Here’s where you learn to build security in complex environments, making you … Laurence Fishburne from Hackers? There are more certifications here than there are characters in the movie Hackers.

CompTIA Certified Healthcare IT Technician Exam Study Guide: Hospitals have their own unique problems when it comes to managing their computer systems. Maybe someday soon they’ll have a medical drama focused around that, but until then, here’s how you’ll learn to solve them.

CompTIA Network+ N10-006: This last one validates technical competency in networking administration and support. It won’t turn you into a character from the movie Hackers, because there’s just too much value here to joke about it. Gain lifetime access to all of these courses for just $59 (98 percent off the total retail price).

Why stop here? Become a true triple threat with the Pay What You Want: Absolute Python Bundle and the Pay What You Want: Learn to Code 2018 Bundle. You got this.

You’ll need a place to store all your dolla bills after you become an IT hotshot. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with Get Some Bang For Your Bucks With These 5 Stylish Wallets.

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6 Real Scandals Crazier Than Anything On ‘House Of Cards’

House Of Cards, everyone’s favorite political soap opera, won our hearts with its focus on a ruthless sociopath who plays a ruthless psychopath on a quest to become president of the United States. But while real politicians can certainly suck, they aren’t out there murdering dogs or pushing their enemies to certain death, right? Come on, you already know you’re not right. Of course real-life politicians have done all of that, and worse.

6

The Governor Of Louisiana Chained An Opponent To A Tree On A Pirate Island

Huey Long became governor of Louisiana in 1928, and utterly dominated the state’s politics with the simple tactic of “firing every government employee not personally loyal to him.” He further demanded a 20 percent cut of all state contracts, and tended to declare martial law when things didn’t go his way. Not a super reasonable guy, is what we’re getting at here.

Library of CongressAssemble the men; I lost at Monopoly again.

When Long was running for the Senate in 1932, he heard that a disgruntled former employee named Sam Irby was preparing to reveal evidence of his corruption. Long did the only reasonable thing: He had the guy abducted. Huey’s brother, future governor Earl Long, wanted to have Irby killed, but the governor had a better idea. He had his personal goon squad of corrupt cops drag Irby onto a boat, which ferried him to Grande Isle, a former pirate hideout in the Gulf of Mexico. There, Irby was kept chained to a tree and attacked by clouds of mosquitoes until he became more sympathetic to Long’s ideas.

Meanwhile, every anti-Long politician in Louisiana was going berserk trying to find Irby, who was rumored to be dead at the bottom of a swamp. With kidnapping charges looming, Long forced Irby to do a radio interview claiming he had merely gone on a spontaneous fishing trip. His bodyguards then brandished guns at reporters and sped off with Irby in a car, pursued by New Orleans police in a Fast & Furious-style chase that ended with the governor’s limo giving the cops the slip in a network of alleys.

By the time Irby escaped captivity and spilled the beans, Long had won election to the Senate, where he became a serious rival to FDR and began planning a run for president. He was assassinated by a disgruntled dentist in 1935, as was the style at the time.

5

Lyndon B. Johnson Stole A Senate Election With His Shady, Potentially Murderous Friends

Before he was the 36th president of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson was a Texas senator, and his road to that position was a bit bumpy, to say the least. In 1948, LBJ’s opponent in the Democratic primary was former governor Calculatin’ Coke Stevenson, who was favored to win, if only because his name was “Coke.” But Johnson had powerful allies, including the monumentally corrupt George “The Duke of Duval” Parr, whose influential family had already been tied to some pretty suspicious deaths. On election night, the counties that Parr controlled voted for Johnson by a totally-not-suspicious 10,547 votes to a mere 368 for Stevenson. When the election bureau announced that Stevenson was still winning by a few hundred votes statewide, Parr realized he had been a little too generous.

Determined to keep Coke from rendering Johnson impotent, Parr scrambled to issue “corrected tallies” for his counties. In Jim Wells County, for instance, an election judge found an extra 200 votes for LBJ by simply changing a 7 to a 9 on the results. In the end, LBJ “won” by “87” “votes” statewide.

Arnold Newman/White House Press OfficeIt was the first step in a rich career of poop power moves and pretending to drown foreign dignitaries.

Naturally, Coke Stevenson showed up in Jim Wells and demanded to see the election rolls. He claimed to have discovered that the last 202 names on the rolls had been written in alphabetical order, in a different ink, in the same handwriting, and oh yeah, all belonged to people who didn’t recall voting. Unfortunately, as happens in these situations, the records in question spontaneously combusted. A flurry of back-and-forth legal chicanery ensued, which Johnson ultimately won by getting a Supreme Court judge to rule that the federal government couldn’t interfere in a state election, even one that would embarrass Mobutu-era Zaire.

A bizarre postscript to this story came in 1950, when Sam Smithwick, a deputy sheriff in Jim Wells County, murdered a journalist who had criticized the rampant local corruption. Smithwick subsequently wrote to Coke Stevenson from prison, saying he was willing to share what he knew about those extra 200 votes. Coke was on his way to the prison when he learned that, tragically, Smithwick had gone and hanged himself. Who could have foreseen?!

4

One Australian MP (Probably) Threw Another MP Off A Cliff

Thomas Ley couldn’t stop at the store without shopkeepers trying to pay him protection money, just in case. Every time this guy redid his patio, all the neighbors sold their houses and moved. Naturally, the good people of Sydney elected him to Parliament, where he quickly earned the nickname “Minister for Murder,” after his political rivals started dying in extremely suspicious circumstances.

National Library of AustraliaThis guy, a criminal? No!

Ley started his career pretending to be a family values religious conservative, known as “Lemonade Ley” for his anti-alcohol views. Of course, he was also taking huge bribes from brewing companies to ensure no actual prohibition legislation was passed. Since that was pretty standard 1920s corruption, he quickly became justice minister in New South Wales, where he routinely executed people on flimsy evidence. And not just criminals, it seems: In 1925, Ley’s opponent in the election to Australia’s Parliament claimed that Ley had offered him a bribe to drop out of the race. The man was on his way to demand an inquiry when he vanished, never to be seen again. An obviously forged suicide note was found, with handwriting remarkably similar to Ley’s. Nobody found that suspicious enough to prevent him from taking his seat in Parliament, though, where his murder career firmly moved into “spree” territory.

One likely victim was fellow New South Wales politician Hyman Goldstein, who suggested setting up a committee to investigate the shady business dealings of Ley’s agricultural poison company. His mangled body was soon found at the bottom of a cliff. We seriously need to highlight that Ley ran a poison company, and he still killed a dude by throwing him off a cliff.

Parliament of New South WalesPoison costs money; gravity is free.

Ley’s disgruntled business partner also disappeared under strange circumstances, as did his mistress’ husband. With suspicion rising in Australia, Ley fled to England, where he headed up a small criminal empire and was eventually arrested for the torture and murder of a man he wrongly suspected of sleeping with his girlfriend. Again, this man had been justice minister of Australia’s most populous state. Proving once again that everything in Australia will murder you, up to and including their elected officials.

3

A British Politician Had A Dog Killed While Trying To Assassinate His Ex-Lover

In the 1970s, Jeremy Thorpe was the leader of Britain’s Liberal Party (later rebooted as “the Liberal-Democrats”) and one of the most popular politicians in the country. There was only one problem: He was being blackmailed by his ex-lover, Norman Scott. You see the problem here. Thorpe paid off Scott for years, but when the blackmailer became erratic, the politician began looking for a more permanent solution.

PAThis guy, a criminal? No!

Thorpe discussed the problem with a small number of other Liberal politicians, insisting that killing Scott “would be like getting rid of a mad dog.” Those words would turn out to be bizarrely prophetic. In 1975, Thorpe asked a businessman to donate 20,000 pounds to help with election expenses, by which he meant “murdering my ex.” Holmes used the money to hire a man named Andrew Newton, who, not content with his salary as an airline pilot, aspired to become a hitman on the side. Scott was to be his first victim.

Fortunately, British politics defaults to comedy over drama, and Newton turned out to be the most bumbling assassin since Mr. Bean was airdropped into Pyongyang. For starters, British firearm laws meant the only gun Newton could get his hands on was an antique Mauser, built in 1910. Next, it turned out that Newton was terrified of dogs, and Scott refused to go anywhere without his beloved Great Dane. When the giant pooch bounded toward Newton, the panicked hitman pulled out his gun and shot it, prompting Scott to shout, “You can’t involve the dog!” Newton then tried to shoot Scott in the back of the head, but his blunderbuss had jammed and wouldn’t fire again. After briefly wrestling with the firing pin, Newton sensibly buggered off.

Newton and the Liberal treasurer both later stated that it was Thorpe who had ordered the hit. Thorpe was sensationally acquitted after a trial in which the judge openly favored him (even suspending proceedings so that Thorpe could run for reelection), but was finally forced to resign from the Liberal party … over that stolen donation money.

2

The Mayor Of Biloxi, Mississippi Tricked The Mob Into Murdering His Opponent

In the late 1980s, Pete Halat was a prominent Mississippi lawyer with ambitions toward the mayor’s office in Biloxi. As luck would have it, he was also the lawyer for “Dixie Mafia” kingpin Kirksey Nix, who was whiling away a life sentence for murder by running a “lonely hearts” con.

McNairy County IndependentNix was also suspected for killing the wife of Buford Real-Life Liam Neeson Character Pusser, so prison was really a best-case scenario.

Nix placed fake personal ads in gay magazines pretending to be a sexy young man looking for some hot pen pal action. Once his victims were drawn in, Nix would either blackmail them or spin a sob story and ask for money. In the dark days before the internet, that simple scam was enough to sucker over 2,000 guys out of millions of dollars.

So Halat obviously enlisted Nix’s help running some sort of scam, right?

You’re never right! No, Halat decided it would be wise to scam Nix himself.

Halat was supposed to launder Nix’s cash, but allegedly took the opportunity to skim about $500,000 for himself. When a furious Nix worked out that his take was light, Halat knew that he would be under suspicion. Meanwhile, his budding political career was under threat from Biloxi councilwoman Margaret Sherry, who was also planning to run for mayor on an anti-corruption platform. Halat figured there might be a way to solve both his problems at once.

Halat convinced Nix that Sherry’s husband (who was also Halat’s former legal partner) had stolen the missing $500,000, and so Nix promptly sent a hitman to murder the couple in their bed. Halat didn’t just attend their funeral; he gave the freaking eulogy. Oh, and then he was elected mayor of Biloxi. His role in the murders became public knowledge mere weeks after the election, but he managed to stonewall through an entire four-year term. He was eventually convicted of wire fraud and obstruction of justice in 1997, and released in 2013. Maybe he’ll run for reelection. We’ve even got a slogan for him: “Halat 2020: Is murder really so bad anymore?”

Harrison County Sheriff’s Department“A face you can trust!”

1

French Health Officials Gave People AIDS Just To Spite The USA

There are a lot of ways a politician can screw you over, but “literally giving you AIDS” takes it to a whole new level. Like, it’s hard to imagine a worse scandal that doesn’t involve the words “orphanage” and “giant metallic crab.” So the people of France were understandably pretty upset to learn that health officials had allowed around 1,250 hemophiliacs to be given HIV-infected blood in 1984 and 1985, 400 of whom had died by 1994. This wasn’t the work of some low-level bureaucrats, either. Health Minister Edmund Herve and Prime Minister Laurent Fabius were both charged with manslaughter over it.

Tasnim News AgencyFabius, seen here counting the number of shits he gives about the consequences of his actions.

What could they possibly get out of this? Well, they wanted all the honor (and profit) of leading the charge … in the fight against AIDS.

Yes, seriously.

By 1984, an American company had already developed a way to treat plasma products to make sure they were free of HIV, but a French company wanted time to develop their own method. So, as shown in leaked letters, French officials deliberately dragged their feet in approving the foreign method, despite knowing that the blood banks used by hemophiliacs contained contaminated blood.

When evidence of the scandal started stacking up (along with the corpses), the courts finally had to get involved. Herve was convicted of manslaughter in 1999, but received no jail time, while former PM Fabius was outright acquitted. Most of the officials involved were charged with “fraudulent description of goods,” which is a pretty weak punishment for giving people AIDS. If you ordered a pizza and Papa John came over to your house and personally blew up your car, you’d hope he’d be charged with more than “failure to deliver pizza,” you know?

If only Calculatin’ Coke Stevens had been able to read How To Fight Presidents. Could’ve saved his life.

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5 Ways The Universe Is Secretly Sabotaging Your Love Life

Few people go through life without at some point having to face that soul-crushing question “Why am I still single?” The answers range from the painfully obvious — that “MAKE ME A SANDWICH” T-shirt isn’t endearing you to anyone, dude — to the utterly and cosmically inexplicable. Yes, sometimes it’s not you! And according to science, it’s sometimes surprising stuff, like …

5

According To Facebook, You’re 6 Percent More Likely To Be In A Relationship If You Share Dog Photos Instead Of Cat Photos

Look, not that we’re a bunch of crazy cat ladies over here (we totally are), but cats are amazing. They’re ruthless killers, they know how to use a litter box right out of the womb, you never have to take them for walks (unless you’re one of those people), and they freaking evolved to talk to us. And once they’ve gotten all that talking, not-walking, ruthless killing out of their systems for the day, they are excellent cuddlers. What’s not to like?

A lot, if you’re in the habit of showing them off on social media and don’t want to die alone. (Except for all the cats, naturally.)

For some reason, people seem to like dogs better overall, and it goes beyond pet preference. It seems that if a potential significant other likes flaunting their cats online and has no dogs in sight, you’re 6 percent more likely to turn your nose up and move on. The folks at Facebook performed a study (read: they creeped on the profiles of 160,000 people), and determined that 30 percent of people who shared cat photos were single, compared to only 24 percent of dog-photo-sharing people. So maybe you have cat memes to blame for not getting any action between 2009 and 2013.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the Facebook researchers/creeps also found that if you’re a cat person, you’re more likely to be into nerdy stuff like sci-fi and that weird phenomena known as “staying in and reading a book.” Dog folks, like their furry companions, are more likely to be outgoing and be full of something called “energy.” They’re also more likely to be into rom-coms and, extremely weirdly, share the same love of Marley & Me.

FacebookYou’d think cat people would be more into the movie where the poor dog (spoilers) has to put up with Owen Wilson.

But don’t despair, cat folk. While your love life might be statistically more lacking, your friendships, while probably fewer in number, appear to be more fulfilling and meaningful than those of the dog lovers out there. So, you know, suck it.

4

Match.com Says iPhone And Android Users Don’t Mingle (And A Broken Phone Screen Makes You Deeply Unsexy To Women)

We have a lot of things we look for in a potential partner — religion, politics, stances on perpetuating the species, how excited they are for the next season of Venture Bros, and so on. People use these things to determine compatibility with a person before sharing DNA with them, and rightfully so. After all, how can you spend the rest of your life with someone who has ideologies directly opposed to your own? Like, what if you get married, but then it turns out their phone isn’t exactly like yours?

It might sound completely ridiculous (it is), but this issue is a much larger foam noodle in the dating pool than one might think. According to a Match.com survey of 5,500 unhitched Americans, Android users are 15 times more likely to think less of iPhone users, and iPhone users are 21 times more likely to look down their noses at lowly Android users. Windows Phone users were presumably too busy drowning in sex to answer the survey (just kidding, they don’t exist).

SinglesInAmericaApple fans will see this as further evidence that the iPhone has better performance.

Oh, and if you’re a shmuck who has the audacity to own an older model? Then you’re an entire 56 percent less likely to catch a smooch buddy. And gods forbid you’re a dude with a cracked screen, because freaking 86 percent of women will judge you more harshly for it. You complete wreck of a human being, you.

Like we said, this is ridiculous. We’d like to believe the human race isn’t so incredibly petty, but those are the raw numbers. Our advice? Let’s go back to judging people for the important stuff, like whether they load their toilet paper front-facing or not.

3

Pretty People Are Simply Not Hardwired To Be In Lasting Relationships, Says A Harvard Study

One of the fairy tales repeatedly shoved down our throats since birth is that pretty people get all the happy endings. The beautiful princess gets the handsome prince, and while some shenanigans might happen, they eventually go off into the sunset all happily ever after like. Meanwhile, somewhere in the background, all the plain (or just plain ugly) folks are shackled and shoved off into jail or something.

But not so fast, beautiful ones. In reality, your roguish good looks have doomed you to a life of singleness, or so claim some people from Harvard. In a study titled Attractiveness and relationship longevity: Beauty is not what it is cracked up to be, researchers asked women to rate the attractiveness of 130 celebrities and 238 regular schmucks. In both cases, it turned out that the subjects deemed most desirable were “more likely to divorce” and also “married for shorter durations.” (Hmmm, perhaps there’s a correlation between those two things?)

The Independent“This couple didn’t even stay together past this photo shoot.” “Uh, we’re models.” “Exactly.”

But why would being good-looking make you bad at relationships? Well, previous studies had found that when we’re committed to a partner, we see other people as less attractive. This is your brain’s way of making sure you stick to your relationships. But the Harvard researchers believe that attractive people don’t have this “protective bias.” To demonstrate their theory, they asked 130 people to rate the sexiness of someone of the opposite gender. And what do you know, the prettier raters were more likely to have the hots for the people they were rating, but “only if they (themselves) were in a relationship.” It’s like nature is pushing them to go out and share their beautiful DNA with as many people as possible, eventual legal costs be damned.

Of course, none of this information is as surprising as the fact that Harvard apparently has a whole wing devoted to Tinder Studies.

2

The State You Live In Can Significantly Affect The Quality Of Your Romantic Relationships, Claims A Nationwide Study

Love sprouts anywhere there are at least two warm bodies of the same species, right? From the frigid Antarctic to the harsh daily sauna that is the Sahara Desert, people will always find ways to make whoopee. After all, it all comes down to a bunch of long-named chemicals. You’d think it wouldn’t matter where you were; you’re bound to find a willing participant in the dance of love.

Well, you’d be wrong, at least partially. It turns out that, at least in the United States, it actually does matter where you live. In a nationwide study conducted by Michigan State University, it was found that if you live in the frontier region, the Mid-Atlantic, or the Northeast, you are more likely to have attachment avoidance or attachment anxiety. Basically, this means that if you live in more mountainous regions, you’re more likely to be of the loner variety, while living in or near cities makes you a bit clingier and probably paranoid that your bae will leave you for one of the many other possible baes in your area. So if you want to have a healthy relationship that’s generally free of standoffish or clingy behavior, science says you’re gonna fare best in Mississippi, Utah, or Wisconsin. In the study, those states were tied up for first place in a pleasant threesome of romantic satisfaction and health.

Meanwhile, North Dakota was deemed the worst state for love …

Jennifer Z/Wiki CommonsAnd most things, generally speaking.

… followed by Kentucky, Kansas, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Ohio, South Carolina, Colorado, New York, and Indiana. But don’t worry, the authors of the study encourage readers not to move out of wherever they are. In the conclusion, they state: “To a certain degree, positive relationships are found everywhere and transcend time and place. After all, home is where the heart is.” Awwww. (But seriously, get the hell out of North Dakota, especially if you’re planning to get old.)

1

Dating Apps Make You Think There Are Always Lots Of Potential Partners For You, So You End Up Going For None (Or “The Paradox Of Choice”)

Ah, dating apps. It seems like no matter how many we sign up for, no matter how many people we’re matched with, we can’t seem to muster up the courage to send a message. But what a bunch of good-looking candidates, right? We may be all alone now, but at any time, when we’re ready to get within touching distance of another human specimen, we could snag a date with a suave stranger and hitch a ride to romance town.

Well, guess what? It’s that very same perception that there are entire schools of fish in the sea that might be holding you back in the real world. As GQ editor Ashley Fetters says, “There’s an illusion of plentifulness. It makes it look like the world is full of more single, eager people than it probably is.” She goes on to describe hitting it off with dudes at bars, only to shy away when it comes to sharing numbers because she “could also just go on Tinder.” Sound familiar? It’s what psychologists call the paradox of choice. In one famous experiment, only 3 percent of shoppers bought jam from a table offering 24 samples, while 30 percent bought jam from another table with just six samples. Online dating is kind of like that, only with far less jam.

Oh, and it turns out our preoccupation with quickly judging a person based on their sexiness quotient isn’t exactly healthy either. A study by the University of Kansas suggests that constant swiping is messing up our ability to make real connections with other human beings. After splitting 130 people into three separate groups, they found that, essentially, after having an actual conversation with a person, our perception of physical attractiveness goes up.

TinderSide note: Why do all these studies pick 130 people? Has 69 been dethroned as “the sex number”?

So we’re back to some very basic advice that many of us are still learning: Stop judging people based on their looks. Do that weird thing called “talking and finding mutual interests, like maybe you both really can’t live without a dice bag and the special hardcover version of Xanathar’s Guide To Everything” or something. Just go be people. We’ll be over here, encouraging you from our dank cat cave with the applause emoji on our broken Android screens.

Friendly reminder that your cat doesn’t know what Valentine’s Day is and will just assume you’re worshipping them as per usual if you get them a new cat tree.

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5 People Who Predicted Disasters And Were Mocked Mercilessly

Gone are the days of superstitious oracles spouting vague nonsense about the future. Instead we now have throngs of scientists … spouting incomprehensible nonsense about the future. And that’s often the problem. Instead of trusting these modern-day wizards, people have a tendency to call them doomsday thinkers just because we’re too dumb-dumb to recognize the warning signs. As a result, the world has treated many predictors of doom and gloom as nerds who were off their meds, only admitting that they were right after it started raining limbs. For example …

5

Several High-Ranking Officers Were Punished For Predicting The Pearl Harbor Attack

With most generation-defining disasters, we learn after the fact about all the warning signs, and how they were missed or not taken seriously. The attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 was no different. But what is not often talked about was the sheer volume of influential people who tried to convince the U.S. government that they could hear the planes coming.

For example, when Admiral James Richardson pointed at Pearl Harbor naval base as being particularly vulnerable to Japanese attack, you’d have expected people to listen. After all, Richardson was both an expert on the base’s defenses and Japanese military strategies, which is a pretty valuable niche to have in this situation. When the country opted to move its fleet to Pearl Harbor in 1940 as a show of force, Richardson shared his worries that it would be seen as an act of aggression, as well as leave the fleet wide open and exposed. He was promptly fired for his concerns, and ten months later was proven right.

U.S. Dept. of the NavyRichardson, seen here giving the closest thing to a middle finger allowed in a congressional investigation.

General William Mitchell was another fellow who predicted Japan would strike, only he had this incredible foresight 17 years before it happened. Hell, Mitchell was so ahead of his time that he died five years before it happened. As a brigadier general in the first World War, Mitchell gained valuable experience in aerial combat, specifically when it came to targeting weak points in fleets and warships. He was especially good at sinking battleships — which, if you’ve ever played the game, you know made him a big deal. So when Mitchell went on a military inspection tour of the Pacific in 1924, his own combat experience made him realize something very disastrous could happen if Japan were to ever attack the U.S. As he put it in his report:

Attack will be launched as follows:

Bombardment, attack to be made on Ford Island (in Pearl Harbor) at 7:30 a.m. … Attack to be made on Clark Field (Philippines) at 10:40 a.m.

However, no one back home was eager to take Mitchell seriously. Because of a string of insubordination accusations, badass William Mitchell had developed a not-so-great reputation with the rest of the brass. In fact, the entire inspection tour had been a sort of forced vacation so that he couldn’t make any waves back home. So it’s easy to imagine all the masturbatory gestures his superiors made when Mitchell returned from his exile with a 324-page document about the martial danger some islands half a world away could pose.

National Archives and Records AdministrationProbably a lot less jerk-off miming by 1942.

As it turns out, Japan hit Pearl Harbor about 20 minutes after Mitchell said they would, then proceeded to Clark Field a few hours after. It even occurred on the same day of the week (Sunday) he had predicted. Of course, since he had died in 1936, the navy didn’t really see the need to remind people they had been warned decades in advance. They did posthumously award him a Medal of Honor in 1946 for his efforts, so there’s that.

4

A Paleontologist Predicted The 2011 Japan Tsunami Because Of A Poem

Tsunamis aren’t like rain. You can’t predict them by “feeling them in your bones” or seeing your dogs do panicked laps around the living room. It takes vigorous and dedicated analysis of a bazillion factors to even remotely understand the comings and goings of these death waves. Thankfully, there are scientists out there who have tried to be the first line of defense between us and the evil forces of water. It’s a shame that we didn’t listen to the one guy who had figured it all out.

Tohoku UniversityThis guy, specifically.

In 2011, a massive tsunami hit the Japanese coast, causing hundreds of billions of dollars in damage and thousands of casualties. Almost everyone was completely taken by surprise by the onslaught. Someone who wasn’t surprised was Koji Minoura, a Japanese paleontologist who had figured out this was going to happen years in advance. How did he know? Because of a poem.

In the late 1980s, Minoura had become intrigued by an ancient poem which told of “the famed waves of Sue-No-Matsuyama,” which he suspected had a nugget of truth buried in its text. And he was right. Through analyzing the soil in the region the poem was set, Minoura discovered ocean water in one of the layers, proving there had been a massive earthquake/tsunami duet in the year 869. Digging deeper (literally), Minoura discovered something chilling: The same tsunami affected layers every thousand years — and the next one was overdue.

He began alerting everyone who mattered in the country that another disaster was imminent. But the paleontologist started running out of time — and he couldn’t dig himself out of it. Nuclear plants were a particular area of concern to Minoura. He showed his data to officials at Tokyo Electric in the early ’90s, noting that their seaside locations meant that a quakenami would be, in sciencey terms, “really bad.” His warnings were cast aside, thinking tsunamis of that scale were about as likely as another Godzilla attack.

Mainichi / Nippon NewsMaybe not quite as likely, but just as able to ruin your day if you live on the coast.

Of course, after the horrific event, Tokyo Electric stated that they had been “in the process” of considering protective modifications to the plant before the tsunami, which is exactly as vague and useless as it sounds. So in the future, governments of the world, please listen to your rogue paleontologists.

3

A Scientists Got Threatened By The Government For Correctly Predicting An Earthquake

Imagine you live in the most earthquake-prone area on your continent. Then imagine you’re a scientist who figured out a way to predict upcoming earthquakes with unprecedented precision. Now imagine that, armed with reams of scientific data, you confidently warn a nation of an earthquake with enough space to save tons of families. Now imagine that instead of giving you a medal, they call the cops on you.

That is the story of seismologist Gioacchino Giuliani. In 1999, Giuliani started suspecting a link between radon gas levels and areas where seismic activity occurred. In response, he erected several radon detection stations around his hometown of L’Aquila, 60 miles from Rome. When, in early 2009, those levels started increasing, he became more and more sure that a quake would soon strike. But when he tried to warn the government, they wouldn’t listen, despite the fact that Italy is considered to be “the most geologically volatile area in Europe.” They even called him “an imbecile,” which we’re sure isn’t the response they teach you during disaster response training.

via YouTubeWe don’t speak Italian, but we’re reasonably sure this interview is nothing but him saying “I told you so” for seven minutes.

Undeterred, Giuliani took it upon himself to save his fellow townspeople. He gave interviews and posted on the internet pleading with the locals to drive their Fiats far the hell away. But when he started hiring vans with loudspeakers to drive around and blast his message, the local authorities finally started listening. No, they didn’t reconsider whether he might be right; they threatened to charge him with the very nebulous act of “spreading panic,” and issued him with an injunction forbidding him to talk about earthquakes. They even made him take down his online posts, proving once again that the internet is for unfounded doomsday warnings only.

Unable to convince people of the upcoming disaster, Giuliani must’ve felt like the only cabin boy on the Titanic with good night vision. All he could do was tell his loved ones, keep his windows open, and force his family to go to bed fully clothed so that they could flee in style. Then, one fated April night, Giuliani proved to have the instincts of a dog (or a frog, apparently, when it comes to earthquakes). An earthquake struck mere hours away from the time Giuliani had predicted. Luckily, thanks to his precautions, neither he nor his family were injured — though he must’ve strained his throat after presumably shouting “I told you so!” throughout the tremors.

2

A Financial Analyst Was Mocked Mercilessly By The Media For Predicting The Great Recession

After a decade of giving people houses big enough to make Saudi princes blush, the Great Recession of 2007 finally popped the housing bubble. But if we’re honest, even after rewatching Margot Robbie’s scene in The Big Short a few dozen times, we still don’t understand the ins and outs of the whole crisis.

Paramount picturesWe keep getting distracted and losing the details, for some unknown reason.

Not a lot of people knew at the time either, and those who did were laughed out of boardrooms for their outlandish claims that unchecked greed would destroy the world. And out of those laughingstocks, the man who received the big shortest end of the stick would’ve been Peter Schiff.

Schiff was one of only a few who understood what was happening. Unfortunately, the president of the Connecticut brokerage firm had a conscience to match his big brain, so instead of keeping quiet and making a quick buck, he began talking to the news in 2006, warning everyone who would listen that things were about to be mega-not-OK. On a CNBC interview, he said that Americans would soon be in trouble from too much consumption and borrowing and not enough saving. He echoed those sentiments on Fox News later that year, still a full year before the housing market started crumbling: “You’re going to start to see both the government and the lenders re-imposing lending standards and tightening up on credit — and these sky-high real estate prices are going to come crashing back down to earth.”

As a response to his dire warnings, the news channels decided to reward him by not taking him seriously at all. CNBC called him “Dr. Doom,” and he was basically turned into the comic relief on panels, as they chortled at how gloomy this economic Eeyore was getting. Even joyless Neil Cavuto, business anchor for Fox News, gave him shit, saying that he wouldn’t be surprised if Schiff exposed the truth about Santa Claus. The mistake that Schiff had made was to try to warn the masses by going on the very shows run by people who are best buddies with the American stock market. Ironically, he would’ve had a better chance of an adult conversation about capitalism on Sesame Street.

Sesame WorkshopU is for Unsustainable real estate market practices.

Still, Schiff was almost frighteningly accurate in his fever visions of collapse. And now he’s begun to embrace Bitcoin, so we guess it’s time to start burning our paper money.

1

People Have Been Ignoring Climate Change Claims For Centuries

Climate change is one of those super-polarizing subjects these days. On the one hand, you have almost every meaningful scientist in the world saying it is real; on the other hand, no climate change denier has drowned yet, so there’s that. But if the level-headed scientists of today think they have a hard time on stupidly “balanced” news panels battling wits against a Christian “scientist” with a blog, imagine how utterly frustrating it would have been to convince people of climate change a century ago.

1938 was one of the first times someone — an engineer named Guy Callendar — pointed out that maybe we should cut back on the whole burning all this fossil fuel shit. His paper was titled “The artificial production of carbon dioxide and its influence on temperature,” and it is truly a hoot of a read, provided you’re into the slow choking death of humankind. But despite his dire predictions, Callendar’s scientific efforts were met with a “meh” and a wet fart. It didn’t help that he was “only” an amateur meteorologist, or that “Guy Callendar” sounds like the made-up name of an alien trying to sabotage our technological progress. Even in the end discussion part of the paper, where other colleagues weigh in, Callendar was given the scientific respect of a kitten-rape apologist. But as the decades passed, his ominous predictions began to take shape. Most strikingly, this shape:

Hawkins & JonesThis also serves as a good chart for people who think the concept of science is a liberal conspiracy.

To understand how eerily close Callendar’s predictions were back then, you have to remember that the scientific method of those days mostly involved terrifying white rabbits and undervaluing women. Granted, not everything Callendar hit was a home run. He thought that man-made global warming would delay the return of “deadly glaciers” (it didn’t). He also refused to believe that the rising water would swallow up land where people live, while rising sea levels have been gobbling up Pacific islands like they’re Pringles. But his temperature predictions were eerily accurate, and Callendar should have been one of the most well-respected scientific voices of his generations — if only people had listened.

But if we’re simply talking about people figuring out that continuously belching massive clouds of acrid smoke up into the heavens fossil fuel might just be hella dumb, we can go back a lot farther than Callendar. As early as 1912, in New Zealand, doubts about this brave new coal-burning world were being reported:

Rodney TimesYou dont have to spend too long by a coal fire to understand that crap isnt going up in a harmless little wisp of smoke.

Even in 1883, national newspapers were already reporting on several scientists warning of the dangers of fossil fuels and nature in quite an alarmist fashion:

Nature Magazine All animal life dead in 20 years may be overplaying your hand a bit.

So while the climate change advocates do still have it tough today, at least no national news institute is allowed to call any of them a “prophet of evil” — proving yet again that Fox News really was born in the wrong century.

Justin writes more stuff here. Twitter the crap out of him here.

Pearl Harbor is also a pretty solid WWII film, if you haven’t seen it.

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Healthy People Are Faking Disabilities To Get A Service Dog

You may think of service animals as those dogs that keep blind people from walking into traffic, but they’re available for all sorts of conditions, like PTSD or anxiety. Or nothing at all, if you’re willing to lie.

Yes, as you might have noticed if you’ve flown next to a suspiciously unruly rottweiler or seen three humping dogs forming a canine centipede at the DMV, there are a hell of a lot more service animals now than there used to be, and some of their owners seem perfectly healthy. Why in the hell would somebody fake a disability just to get a fake service animal? To find out, we talked with “Ashley,” who did precisely that.

5

Does Your Lease Say “No Pets Allowed?” Well …

This is the big one. If your pet counts as a support or assistance animal, you and your dog/cat/goat can stride happily past “No pets allowed” signs all day long. That’s what got Ashley into the game.

“When my grandmother passed away,” she says, “I got her dog, a little nine-month-old terrier. I was going to shelter him, but after a few months sorting things out at my grandma’s house in Arizona, he became my little baby.” Then she returned home and introduced her landlord to her brand-new roommate, a very good boy. The landlord said, “‘I guess that means you’re giving notice.’ Because the lease had a no-pets policy.”

But Ashley already had a counterattack ready in the form of a pile of documents prepared by her law student nephew. The terrier, she told the landlord, was her assistance animal. According to the Fair Housing Act, tenants are welcome to keep assistance animals, as “No pets” policies don’t apply, since such animals aren’t pets. Landlords can’t even charge extra fees or a pet deposit. Ashley was welcome to keep it, so long as it was never documented being aggressive and required no unreasonable accommodations.

PawPADSSo, presumably no emotional support buffalo.

Those special laws weren’t meant for her and her grandma’s terrier. They were meant for animals that help people with disabilities (such as guide dogs for the blind), or comfort animals for people with severe mental illnesses like PTSD. Ashley simply claimed to have depression, having gotten the diagnosis specifically so she could keep the dog. The landlord said she’d soon hear from his lawyer. She never did. “I probably seem terrible to you,” she says, “but I like to tell myself that at least I had a reason. I was depressed at the time, and I didn’t want to see something of my grandma’s go away. I grew attached, and I did what I had to do.”

But that was only the beginning.

4

With A Fake Service Animal, You’re An Instant VIP

Want to bring your dog on a plane? You can stow it under a seat for around $125, if it can fit. You can send it in cargo for $300. Or, if you call it a support animal, it rides for free thanks to the Air Carrier Access Act. “It’s almost a secret club at airports and in airplanes,” says Ashley. “Perfectly healthy people come in with service dogs, and there’s always a knowing nod we have.”

The Easter Turkey Files/FacebookIt doesn’t even need to be a dog.

Outside of housing and flights, the rules are a lot tighter. Businesses are free to kick out emotional support animals. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, they only have to allow service animals that are trained to perform specific tasks for the disabled, with “being h*ckin cute and floofy” not counting as a specific service task. But plenty of businesses aren’t clear on the distinction, so they err on the side of letting assistance animals past every velvet rope.

“When you think of every place you’ve seen them, I’ve taken him there,” says Ashley. “Lyfts. The subway. On beaches which said ‘No dogs allowed.’ Malls. Hotels. At first I did it because I wanted to see how far I could take it, but besides a few restaurants, I found out that there’s virtually no limit.” Once, she even brought him into a spa, a place not normally receptive to loud barks and shedding. “The manager had to come down and part a wall of employees for me, all of whom looked pissed.”

From skipped fees and other perks, she reckons she saves a couple thousand dollars a year.

3

Certifying A Dog Can Be Nothing But An Elaborate Charade

There are a few ways, with varying degrees of legitimacy, to “certify” your animal (assistance animals today range from cats to the frickin’ turkeys seen above). The first is you go the whole nine yards and get a real one. A dog may cost tens of thousands of dollars to train, and unless you’re legit disabled and need it to open doors or push buttons, you aren’t getting one.

The second way is outright fake certification, thanks to wide selection of “official service dog registries” awaiting you on the internet. “I signed up with four services,” says Ashley. “I had to stop on the first four because it felt like a scam. They’d let my dog be licensed based solely on what I told them. It didn’t feel right.”

Those cost around $100 each. It’s a great deal if your conscience doesn’t object, and entirely sufficient for convincing people who don’t know better. According to the ADA, you don’t actually need to carry any certification. Businesses must take you at your word after asking only two questions: Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? (to root out emotional support dogs) and What work or task has the dog been trained to perform? (for further rooting out). Oddly enough, the savviest business owners know that dog owners who do carry around certificates for their dogs are the ones most likely to be fakers.

The third way to certify your dog is the gray market approach, whereby you mix the previous two into what can best be described as “legal-ish.” This starts with a medical diagnosis. “I was thinking about PTSD, but depression seemed the easiest,” says Ashley. “I thought, ‘I get depressed sometimes,’ and I went to my doctor. I told him how bad it felt and how I didn’t want to use pills. I needed something ‘like a rock.’ It wasn’t hard selling him on being depressed. My grandma had just died, and I had been in a hospital in Arizona about depression because of how blue I was.”

Armed with a doctor’s note, she reached out to a certification group. Again, there’s no official registry for service dogs, but some private companies will at least test your dog out to see that it’s manageable in public and likely won’t suddenly maul a baby. “I was instructed to walk down the street with him,” recalls Ashley. “He was fine. Then I was told to bring him nearby a few large dogs. He looked a little intimidated, but again, he was fine. And that was it.”

But even more powerful than any piece of paper when it comes to fooling people is an adorable service dog vest, which Ashley grabbed off Amazon with no verification at all.

AmazonWith free shipping, you can’t afford not to take advantage.

“Before I got everything I needed, I took my dog for a walk with his vest on, and I was given right of way. Joggers who otherwise wouldn’t have moved before saw the vest when they were coming near and got out of my way. That little vest is a powerful thing.”

And really, what’s the harm?

2

Actual Disabled People Get Screwed

As fun as it would be to sneak your dog somewhere it shouldn’t be, like an operating room or a SpaceX rocket, there are reasons businesses keep animals out. Even Ashley sees the other side now and again, like when she was on a flight to New York full of untrained “service dogs” barking their heads off and stewardesses trying vainly to quiet them all. Or the time she took her dog to the grocery store and saw six other dogs there too, forcing the manager to sub in for employees who had allergies. “He said, ‘Do you absolutely need a dog with you? This is insane. We can barely run a business.’ I didn’t say anything, but I felt bad.”

Many, many people are getting into the fake assistance animal game, and the real victims are those people who truly need them, but are disbelieved because of all the fraud out there. (Which is our biggest fear even running this article. Please do not go around accusing strangers of fraud because they don’t “seem” disabled enough for their animal!) Some service dog owners report getting denied hotel rooms (Ashley herself is convinced she gets the worst room possible when hotels learn of her dog) or kicked off flights.

“Charlotte” is a friend of Ashley’s who has a legitimate emotional support dog. “She saw a murder happen and has had PTSD ever since,” she says. “Bad PTSD. Without her dog, I don’t think she could leave the house.” And Charlotte happened to take her dog to the grocery store (the same store as the allergies incident) when a pair of fake service dogs decided to chew up some stuff on the bottom shelves and then poop all over the floor. An employee yelled, “Hey, control your dog!” at Charlotte, the only innocent dog owner there, triggering her PTSD.

Not that that’s enough to make Ashley keep her own dog at home. “My dog isn’t promoting service dogs being out of control,” she clarifies. “I’m … probably sounding hypocritical still, but I said what I said.”

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People Are Catching On, And Fakers Do Get Punished … Sometimes

Those incidents we mentioned just now, when businesses turn away service dogs? They aren’t that common. Denying a service dog can turn into a PR nightmare, whether it’s by a hotel, an airline, or Popeye’s Chicken. “That’s why we aren’t called out on it more often,” says Ashley. “No one wants to be the person bashing the handicapped out of something they need.” So when the owner of one family-style restaurant refused her dog entry and finally threatened to call the police, Ashley wasn’t shaken. “Do it!” she said. “They’ll tell you how wrong you are!”

Within ten minutes, the cops were there.

“I was doing OK in convincing them until they asked if it was an emotional support dog,” says Ashley. “To which I said yes. They knew about the service and support distinction, so they knew a lot about these laws. I didn’t have to, but I showed them my certificate for my dog, and they said, ‘Haven’t seen them like this before.'” Now she started to panic, but she was saved by a random coincidence. The officer recognized the name of her doctor and decided to let her go. Petty corruption for the win!

California currently has a $1,000 fine and six months in jail lined up for faking a service dog. In Florida, it’s $500 and two months in jail. Other states have measures too, and in case it sounds like a slap on the wrist, that’s per count. So Ashley now keeps a lower profile — including taking tips on how legitimate support animal owners act. “Owners with real problems won’t let you touch the dog, or even get near it,” she says. “It’s working, and you can distract it. Owners taking it on for the hell of it, they’ll be like, ‘Sure, you can pet them!'” Even with emotional support dogs, you can’t do that. “I have to act like that now.”

One flight of Ashley’s had three support dogs on it. There was her, a woman in a wheelchair, and then the third woman, who had a Chihuahua. “She was letting kids pet the dog,” says Ashley, “and I had told those same kids before that my dog was working. The woman in the wheelchair overheard me and said, as we were both looking at her, ‘Don’t those people make you sick?’ She had no idea.”

Evan V. Symon is a journalist, interview finder guy, and writer for the Personal Experiences section at Cracked.

Instead of getting your floofer a service vest they’re not qualified to wear and doing the general public a bamboozle, how about a heckin’ cool but also warm coat instead?

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