Minister frightened of doll

Rev. Keith Ogden of Hill Street Baptist Church in Asheville, NC is afraid of a new boy doll announced by American Girl.

"This is nothing more than a trick of the enemy to emasculate little boys and confuse their role to become men," he wrote in an e-mail to his congregation. It was titled, "KILLING THE MINDS OF MALE BABIES."

"There are those in this world who want to alter God's creation of the male and female," he wrote. "The devil wants to kill, steal and destroy the minds of our children and grandchildren by perverting, distorting and twisting (the) truth of who God created them to be."

I suspect Rev. Ogden described American Girl as an "enemy" because he's secretly telling his followers to obey the Lord's command to "love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back." Read the rest

Turtle vs. Herd of Cows

Who would win in a fight between a turtle-sized turtle and a dozen cow-sized-cows? [via r/funny.] Read the rest

Nazi who originated Donald Trump Jr.’s Skittles metaphor was hanged at Nuremberg

The Intercept's Naomi LaChange presents the curious origins of Donald Trump Jr.'s tweet comparing Syrian refugees to poison Skittles. "The concept dates back at least to 1938 and a children’s book called Der Giftpilz, or The Toadstool, in which a mother explains to her son that it only takes one Jew to destroy an entire people."

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Hayley Ashburn balances on a tightrope buffeted by winter winds

Hayley Ashburn narrates this short but intense film on fear, overlaid on heart-stopping footage of her highlining on a line 2800 meters up, between Italy's snow-dusted Torri del Vajolet in winter, the first person ever to do so. Recognize the quote? Read the rest

What the stampede at JFK airport tells us about fear

Travelers mishearing applause apparently triggered a full-scale "stampede" at JFK, complete with screaming crowds, people shouting about guns, and police running around aimlessly with weapons drawn. It was shut down for hours.

The fact that there was no attack at the center of it was both the weirdest and the scariest part — that an institution whose size and location and budget should make it a fortress, in a country that has spent 15 years focused compulsively on securing its airports, in a city with a terrifyingly competent anti-terror police unit, could be transformed into a scene of utter bedlam, stretching out from all eight terminals across the tarmac and onto the adjacent highways, by the whisper of a threat. ...

For several hours, we were in the flood of panic and chaos of an ongoing act of terror. There’s no other way to describe it. That it was an overreaction almost doesn’t matter; in fact, that is how terrorism works.

Hysterical fear was always the invisible counterweight to security theater. Each is as real as the other. Read the rest

Famed electronics author Forrest Mims was choked by an airline captain

Forrest Mims is the author of the famous book, Getting Started in Electronics, published by RadioShack for many years. I bought the book in the 1980s, and had a blast making the projects in it. When I was editor-in-chief of MAKE, I asked Forrest to write a column for the magazine, called The Backyard Scientist. Forrest is interested in atmospheric measurement, and in his column he explained how to make different kinds of measurement devices. I met Forrest for the first time last year at Moogfest, where he was treated like a celebrity for being the creator of electronic sound makers, such as the one that has been called the Atari Punk Console. Forrest, now in his 70s, was surprised by the attention he received there. He came across as a very polite and humble man.

It made me sad to read his story today in MAKE about the time an airline captain attacked him because he wanted to take some harmless measurements. The story has a happy ending, at least.

While checking in for a flight at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport several years before 9/11, I made the mistake of telling an American Airlines check-in agent that I was planning to measure the water vapor outside the aircraft with a homemade near-infrared hygrometer. This alarmed the agent, who quickly called her supervisor. After the supervisor grilled me, she called her supervisor, who told me that the captain would have to approve my presence on his aircraft. She then said, “Follow me,” and escorted me through the checkpoint without even inspecting my carry-on bag.

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Watch debt grow in real time at the US Debt Clock

The politics escape me, but I'm fascinated by the US Debt Clock, a website covered in real-time tickers and counters purporting to show all of the unpleasant statistics piling up in America.

They also have a World Debt Clock for all your international inchoate anxiety needs. Read the rest

Petrified pooch overcomes his fear of crossing lines

Dog logic! Good boy, Artie.

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Why screams are terrifying

Why are screams so frightening? Because sounds with frequency modulations in 30-150 Hz range have a particular "roughness" to them that activates the fear circuit in the amygdala, according to research published in Current Biology, titled "Human Screams Occupy a Privileged Niche in the Communication Soundscape." Read the rest

Boy, missing 6 days, found in Ikea

"A 12-year-old boy who went missing after being told off by his mother last Monday was found by police on Sunday afternoon in an IKEA store in Shanghai." Previously. Read the rest

Animation explains the dangers of Computercop, the malware that US police agencies distribute to the public

Dave from EFF writes, "Here's a funny, easy-to-understand animation explaining why ComputerCOP parental monitoring software is actually dangerous to kids. More than 245 local law enforcement agencies have purchased this software in bulk and handed it out to families for free."

Using an imaginary kid named Timmy, who gets "pantsed" by ComputerCOP, the animation by Fusion also ties ComputerCOP to the unnecessary equipment locals cops have obtained, like mine-resistant trucks. Fusion's cartoon is based on an EFF investigation published on Wednesday.

Who needs the NSA? Anyone could spy on your kids thanks to ComputerCop

(Thanks, Dave!) Read the rest

Good news about that horrific brain-eating amoeba

Turns out, it doesn't kill absolutely everybody it infects. A 12-year-old girl in Arkansas is recovering from her battle with the killer single-celled organism. She's the third known person to survive. Nobody knows yet how she, or the other survivors, made it through. Why? Well, that's more (sort of) good news. There've only been 130 recorded cases of brain-eating amoeba infection since 1962. It's so rare, that it's difficult for doctors to study. Read the rest

Who’s afraid of the amygdala? Research blows away "fear center" myth

New revelations about your brain’s so-called “fear center” explain why it’s misleading to say “this part of the brain does x”. Maggie Koerth-Baker talks to neuroscientist Paul Whalen and learns that there’s more to fear than fear, itself.

How safe is safe?

The precautionary principle comes up a lot when you're talking about the side effects of technology in the real world. When you don't have evidence that something is dangerous — but you suspect it might be — you could cite the precautionary principle as a reason to ban or limit the use of that thing. It's a messy idea, though, and I'm still not sure what to think about it. On the one hand, technology is often available before data on the wide-ranging effects of that technology are available. Do you use it or not is a legitimate question. On the other hand, following the precautionary principle in a blind sort of way can lead to things like this. Read the rest

Forced internment of British civilians during World War II

Something I didn't know about world history: During World War II, the British government rounded up thousands of its own citizens — people of German, Austrian, or Italian ancestry. Some were put into camps, others deported to Canada and Australia. Others were simply labeled as potential enemies and spied upon. The really crazy part: Many of these people were Jewish refugees who had become citizens of Britain in order to get away from the Nazis. (Via Carol Roth) Read the rest

The risks of visiting volcanoes

In 1993, Stanley Williams survived a close-encounter with a volcano. A volcanologist, he was standing on the rim of Colombia's Galeras volcano when it erupted with little warning. Six of his scientific colleagues and three tourists were killed. Williams fled down the mountain's slope — until flying rocks and boulders broke both his legs. With a fractured skull, he managed to stay conscious enough to huddle behind some other large boulders and dodge flying debris until the eruption ended and his grad students rescued him.

Williams and the other scientists were there to study Galeras, and hopefully get a better idea of what signals predicted the onset of eruptions.

This is something we still don't understand well.

While volcanologists have identified some signals — like distinctive patterns of small earthquakes — that increase the likelihood of an oncoming eruption, those signals aren't foolproof predictions. There are still volcanoes like Galeras that give no warning. And volcanoes like Mt. St. Helens. In 2004, that volcano gave signals that it would erupt. And it did. Sort of. The Seattle Times described it as "two small burps and a lava flow". Basically, the signals don't always precede an eruption, and even when they do happen it doesn't tell you much about how big any ensuing eruption will be.

And that presents an interesting question, writes Erik Klemetti at Wired's Eruptions blog. How close to volcanoes should tourists really be? That's a question with real-world applications. This year, New Zealand's White Island volcano has been ... Read the rest

Surviving a plane crash is surprisingly common

Between 1983 and 2000, more than 95% of people involved in plane crashes survived.

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