Gentleman purposely crashes car into courthouse to tell police someone stole his drug paraphernalia

A 28-year-old gentleman in Gulfport, MS crashed his pickup truck into a courthouse in order to report that someone had stolen his drug paraphernalia. After his truck smashed into the courthouse's glass wall, however, he had a change of heart, slipped out of his truck's passenger window, and took off.

Keith Rio Cavalier, who had been driving under the influence, was later caught and arrested. He admitted that at the time, he thought intentionally crashing his car into the courthouse was a good way to contact the police.

Fortunately for the people of Gulfport, Cavalier is, at least for now, is sitting in the Harrison County jail.


Image: Gulfport Police Department

Aviation authority investigating UFOs over Ireland

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is investigating multiple reports of UFOs over the coast of Ireland on Friday. From the BBC:

(A British Airways) pilot, flying from the Canadian city of Montreal to Heathrow, said there was a "very bright light" and the object had come up along the left side of the aircraft before it "rapidly veered to the north..."

(Another Virgin pilot said) there were "multiple objects following the same sort of trajectory" and that they were very bright.

The pilot said he saw "two bright lights" over to the right which climbed away at speed.

One pilot said the speed was "astronomical, it was like Mach 2" - which is twice the speed of sound.

According to the IAA, the matter will be "investigated under the normal confidential occurrence investigation process." Meanwhile, the BBC quotes an astronomer who suggests what the pilots saw could have been a meteoroid aka "shooting star."

image: not the actual UFO over Ireland

A modern mudlarker finds treasures washed up on the River Thames banks

In the 18th and 19th centuries, mudlarks were people who sifted through the mud on the banks of the River Thames to find things of value. Ted Sandling keeps the dream alive. He compiled his curious collection in a book, London in Fragments: A Mudlark's Treasures, and you can also follow his finds on Instagram. If you're inspired to dig yourself, new laws require mudlarkers (and metal detector users) to apply for a permit first and then report any treasures you uncover to the authorities.

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A couple of days ago I found this spoon, standing straight up in the gravel like a very small and shapely monolith. There was a symbolic significance to its position, as if it had been placed with deliberate purpose, probably to do with britishness, and tea. I picked it up (how could one not?) and brought it home for someone who is six and a half years old and likes spoons. The reverse tells all manner of stories to those who can decode the hallmarks (I can’t, but I know a google who can). It’s silver plate, made by James Deakin & Sons in the late nineteenth century and has what sophisticates know as ‘rather a lot of dings’ in the bowl. Also, for some ceremonial reason, most of the silver has come unplated. It’s their Sidney Silver brand, so called because it was made at the Sidney Works on Sidney Street, quite possibly by a man named Sidney. Its sister is in the @vamuseum, which gave me a great thrill to discover. It’s worth noting, though, that the V&A’s is a dessert spoon and had no ritual significance. In a wonderful and rather deterministic quirk, that one was donated by a Mrs Ena Eatwell.

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I’ll be honest, I never expected to find a glass bottle stopper all wrapped up for winter in its little cap. I thought such things would invariably have been torn away by time and the tide, but the Thames is always surprising. If you can’t quite see what it reads because of the perspective, it says ‘CASTLE UP (or U-P? You tell me) UNSWEETENED GIN W&A GILBEY’. It was the gin that caught my eye first of course, and only later was I glad to decipher unsweetened - for a long time I was afraid it read ‘sparkling’ or something, and I’d misread gin after all, but no: W&A Gilbey sold all their gins either sweetened or un, and thankfully whoever had the ill grace to chuck this in the river had the good taste not to buy sweetened gin. Gin should taste of nothing but botanicals, and I’d be a traditionalist about those too except I’m drinking a gin right now (not right now, it’s not even nine o’clock in the morning), Achroous, which has Sichuan pepper for one, and that mouth numb feel is such an unbelievably perfect elevation of the flavour that I’d like to drink nothing else. So although whomever threw this perfect glass stopper into the river didn’t sweeten their gin, they did go for the cheapest variety. A bottle of UP was only 2/0 in the 1870s, which, I guess, could have been when this lid was popped. Gibley’s gins went up from UP, to OE, to Proof, in order of strength. Proof was proof (or 50% in today’s language, in the UK at least - I understand in the States you still have proof?) and UP was 33 below (i.e. 67, or 33.5%: what were they thinking?). W&A Gilbey sold just about everything, whiskies, both Scotch and Irish; brandies, both cognac and not; rum; port; sherry; marsala and Hollands - my favourite, for reasons see page 71 of a certain book I know well. W himself made baronet. A fine spirit indeed.

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Favourite photos from the book - I absolutely love this animal head, mainly because no-one can agree what it is. Is it a teddy bear? A real bear? A dog, a cat, a monkey? You tell me. On Tuesday 20th September I’ll be talking at the really lovely Notting Hill bookshop Lutyens & Rubinstein. You can get tickets from their website. It’s a beautiful shop and I hope I will see some of you there!

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There’s something mournful about posting this flower on a morning that is unquestionably autumn. The leaves on the little euonymous outside my window are as red as pomegranate seeds; the hazelnuts almost exhausted on the street tree up the road. I slip them in my pockets when I pass by on my way to the tube, commuters behind me thinking I’m touched, perhaps. The two hornbeam hedges that hide the sheds have lost their richness, become the shade Crayola terms grass green. Soon they’ll be crisp and brown, but they’ll hang on all winter. This is the simplest of flowers, four smudges of a brush around a pitted yellow disk. Beneath it, glorious leaves, x-ray leaves, their veins and capillaries revealed as if autumn hit them first, their covering stripped from them, while somehow the crown of delicate purples petals lives on.

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Yanis Varoufakis on capitalism's incompatibility with democracy

It's a not-very-well-kept secret that elements of the libertarian right believe that democracy is incompatible with capitalism (tldr: if majorities get to vote, they'll vote to tax rich minorities and since rich people are in the minority they'll always lose that vote); and as this persuasive and fascinating lecture and Q&A with former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis (previously) shows, the feeling is mutual. (more…)

My life on the road: stranded in Wyoming

Few things can fuck an RV up worse than a frozen water system. Grey, black and potable water tanks, water pumps and the delicate tubing that run through the undercarriage and into the living area of a motorhome don't do well when exposed to subzero temperatures. Some RVs, like ours, come with blowers that force warm air from the furnace into the undercarriage. Others, like our old rig, have systems that draw power from the chassis battery to keep the tanks heated and the liquid inside of them, well, liquid.

We started our first day headed south at -4° Celsius. We assumed that we'd be able to make it to Lethbridge, Alberta, a few hours south of Calgary. The overnight temperature would dip to -10° there. Fading headlights and the encroaching dark forced to a halt, short of our goal, in Claresholm. There, the overnight temperature dipped to -17°.

We knew that we could weather the weather in Lethbridge. Claresholm, cold as it was, would have been a test we weren't prepared to sit for. Fortunately, we were able to find a hotel. Even more fortunate was the fact that we'd winterized our RV well before the first cold. Our tanks were drained dry. Our lines were wetted with anti-freeze. For the first three days of our trip south, we traveled without any water, save what we brought with us in bottles. We used it to flush our toilet, brush our teeth, make coffee and wash. On the end of the third night, we felt it warm enough to risk de-winterizing the RV. Where we normally would spend our evening in a Walmart parking lot or a rest station somewhere on the Interstate, we instead pulled into a campground just outside of Billings. We flushed and filled our fresh water system.

Or so we thought.

Despite topping off the tank, we had no water pressure. Our pump was running, but to no end: there was no toilet flushing. No showers. No dish washing. We guessed our water pump's diaphragm had seized. We wouldn't hazard a wrench to find out. Just below freezing is still below freezing. It's not the sort of weather that you want to tinker with a water system in. Despite our tanks being full, we'd go on, sans water, until we reached a region where working the issue out felt more desirable.

We unhooked from shore power.

We retracted our stabilizers.

We immediately noticed that one of our rear tires looked a bit low.

It wouldn't fill past 100psi--10 to 20psi below where we wanted it to be. Still, it seemed sound.

So we drove.

The forecast called for snow. We veered south, eyeing Cheyenne. Once there, we'd decide whether to continue south or head east--whichever would keep us out of the weather.

By midday, we'd made Casper, Wyoming. The snow had been steady, but thin. The roads were clear. We'd made good time. We eyed a truck stop on the far side of the city where we could pick up more water, fuel and walk the dog. I pumped diesel. The dog peed. All was well.

"The tire's looking really low," my wife tells me.

"Same one?"

"Same one." The truck-stop had a free air pump. We're into that. She says to score her a Cinnabon while she fills the tire. I do. Upon returning, I discover that, in addition to a Cinnabon, she also has bad news. Our valve stem is leaking.


She agrees.

The air leaks out as fast as she can put it in. I nod in the direction of the truck stop: I'd see if they know of anyone who can do tire repairs on a weekend. She goes back to futzing. A man with an epic beard and a friendly hound overhears our woes and walks over to see if he can lend a hand. Inside I'm handed a slip of paper with a number of phone numbers on it. I walk back outside as my wife's walking in. She tells me that the side wall of the tire blew out on her as she made one final attempt to fill it up. The helpful stranger thought that new valve cover might help us to limp into town for repair. She tells me that it exploded next to her ear. It was kin to a gunshot. She couldn't hear for a few moments after it happened. Had the tire blown outwards instead of inwards, I would not be having this conversation with her. We both know it. She's flush. I feel numb. We both agree that there would be a drink had.

After all, we weren't going anywhere.

One of the numbers we'd been given was open for business. There'd be no tires for us until Monday, however. The mechanic we spoke with could see the tires in inventory, but couldn't get his hands on them. We'd have to wait.

There are worse places to be stranded than at a truck-stop for a few days. There's food here. Hot showers and a laundry. There are worse places for a blowout as well. Had it happened while we were driving, the tire might have disintegrated, taking out our wheel well, the contents of the compartments surrounding it or doing damage to the Jeep we pull behind us.

I know this, because it has happened to our Jeep.

While pulling it behind us, just outside of Amarillo last winter, its wheels locked up. The Jeep was dragged. Perhaps as little as a few blocks. Perhaps longer. We didn't hear it. We did not feel it. The weight of the Jeep to our RV is much like the weight of a hat on your head. All looked fine in our rear camera, as well. By the time that someone signaled to us that there was a problem, one of the Jeep's tires had disintegrated, taking our front bumper, front quarter panel and bending one of our struts.

When your home is on wheels, so much can happen. So much does happen. Much of it is wonderful. Some of it isn't.

Tips for overcoming reader's block

I have a lot of trouble reading anything longer than a tweet, these days, so I wrapped duct tape around my head and monitor to force myself to get through Emily Petsko's tips for overcoming reader's block.


Compared to a 300-page novel, short stories won’t seem like such an insurmountable task. Ginni Chen, Barnes and Noble’s “Literary Lady,” suggests trying a collection of stories written by different authors. That way, you’ll have the chance to figure out which styles and subjects you enjoy most. In an advice column addressed to someone with reader’s block, Chen recommended the Best American Short Stories and the Best American Nonrequired Reading collection. And if you want to start really small, there’s an app called Serial Box that will send you 150-character stories as push notifications.


Photo: Shutterstock.

A hardcore metal Seinfeld band called Grindfeld exists

There's a Seinfeld-themed hardcore metal band from New York City (of course) called Grindfeld.

Born out of a mutual love of Death Metal, comical observations, coffee and Hardcore, Grindfeld is a project built on the existential dread hidden just under the surface of daily life.

Yes, they're real and they've got "5 Songs About Nothing." The first is a loud little ditty called "The Contest":

The other four songs -- The Soup Nazi, The Limousine, The Bizarro Jerry, and The Letter -- are available from their $5 digital album. They also have merch.


Got stockings to stuff? Black Friday just came early.

In case you hadn't noticed from the sleigh bell-heavy music and the hues on your Starbucks cup, the holiday season hasn't shown any more patience this year. But that doesn't need to be a bad thing, especially if you're hoping to get a jump on your shopping. Retailers aren't waiting til Black Friday to dish out the deals, and neither should you. Here are's six of the more notable bargains on the radar, from booze paraphernalia to tech-minded winter wear:

Knit Touchscreen Gloves

So you're walking in frostbite weather and an urgent text pops up. It's an all-too-common annoyance with an easy solution: These fashionable knit gloves, equipped with a conductive fingertip surface that lets you swipe and send with comfort in any climate. They're currently 42% off the MSRP at $10.99.

TREBLAB X11 Bluetooth In-Ear Headphones

With passive noise-cancellation tech and HD sound, these next-gen buds will be going straight from the stocking into your music-loving friend's ear. (And with the stabilizing ear fins, they'll stay there.) Equipped with Bluetooth 4.1 CSR and a built-in mic, they're equally well suited for taking calls on the go, at the gym - anywhere you need hands-free audio. Best of all, they're $29.99 - a significant drop from the already sale-priced $54.99.

Eravino Whiskey Globe Decanter

Here's one for the worldly tippler on your list. Mounted on a hardwood display, this decanter holds 30 ounces of whiskey or other spirits inside an etched globe map, complete with a blown glass ship-in-a-bottle. Great for Christmas, but just as well suited as a gift for newlyweds. Honeymoon decisions get a lot more fun when you use this globe to pick a spot. And right now, it's more than 50% off at $24.99.

UltraBright 500-Lumen Tactical Military Flashlight: 2-Pack

Light up somebody's life in a big way with this two-pack of torches that are as durable as they are bright. Keep one in the car for emergencies, the other in the hiking pack. The adjustable zoom and extra-long battery life makes them ideal either way. Normally $100, this two-pack of the UltraBright 500-Lumen Tactical Military Flashlight with carrying case is sale priced at $14.99.

Cresuer Touchwave True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

Another solid deal on Bluetooth earbuds, the distinguishing feature on this Cresuer model is the touch-sensitive, minimal controls. Answer calls or shuffle songs with a slight tap that won't loosen the buds or damage your ears, then get back to your workout. You can listen for up to 3 hours on a charge, or 12 hours if connected to the included charging case. Right now, you can pick up a pair for $34.99, significantly less than the original $99.99.

iPM World 360-Degree 1080p Wireless IP Camera

Finally, a gift for that anecdotal "man who has everything": A personal security cam to keep an eye on all that stuff. With a panoramic view that's adjustable and viewable from your cell phone - even in infrared night vision - the iPM can keep a constant eye on any room. And with video encryption, you can sure the view will stay private. Already sale priced at $49.99, it's been bumped down for the holidays to $41.99.

Filmmaker Wes Anderson co-curated a quirky art exhibition of oddball items in Vienna

The Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna started a program in 2012 that opened its doors for "remarkable creative individuals" to select pieces from their massive historical collection to present in an exhibition. Filmmaker Wes Anderson and his partner Juman Malouf are the most recent curators in this program. So, for the last two years, they have been putting together their offbeat Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and other Treasures.

Artnet describes the exhibit as "a totally quirky presentation of affectionate misfits":

Perhaps the duo’s penchant for the collection’s oddball items also stems from their own awareness of being outsiders in a prestigious establishment replete with trained art historians, curators, and conservators.

One senior curator said that some of museum staff were skeptical of the project at first. “We would get an email from Wes asking, ‘Do you have a list of green objects? Could you send us a list of everything you have that is yellow?’ Our data system does not have these categories.”

Because of this, the curators and conservators had to manually search their storage, an often painstaking process due climate controls and the condition checks needed, neither of which Anderson or Malouf were aware of.

The extra labor required was taxing, but the duo’s alternative criteria had a welcome side effect: It leveled the usual hierarchies. Several staff members said it resulted in new revelations. They just had to “learn to unlearn” their ways of working.

The exhibit opened November 6 and will be on view through April 28, 2019.

Common sense: the Chomsky/Piaget debates come to AI

In 1975, Noam Chomsky and Jean Paiget held a historic debate about the nature of human cognition; Chomsky held that babies are born with a bunch of in-built rules and instincts that help them build up the knowledge that they need to navigate the world; Piaget argued that babies are effectively blank slates that acquire knowledge from experiencing the world (including the knowledge that there is a thing called "experience" and "the world"). (more…)

Big Tech got big because we stopped enforcing antitrust law (not because tech is intrinsically monopolistic)

Tim Wu (previously) is a legal scholar best known for coining the term "Net Neutrality" -- his next book, The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age (previously) challenges the accepted wisdom about today's digital monopolists, which is that they grew so big because of some underlying truth about online business ("first-mover advantage," "network effects," "globalism," etc). Instead, Wu argues that the reason we got digital monopolies is that we stopped enforcing anti-monopoly rules against digital companies (and then against all kinds of companies). (more…)

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