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Five people rescued during dangerous Alaskan hike back from "Into the Wild" bus

Every year, adventurous (and oft-unprepared) hikers who are fans of Jon Krakauer's book "Into the Wild" (1996) or the move based upon it attempt the treacherous 20 mile trek on Alaska's Stampede Trail to the abandoned bus where Chris McCandless found refuge (until his death) in 1992. And frequently, hikers making the pilgrimage have to be rescued. Two people have died during their trips to see the bus. Just a few days ago, an emergency crew had to rescue five Italian hikers who were returning back from the "magic bus." From NBC News:

One of the hikers had frostbite to his feet and was transported to Fairbanks for treatment, DeSpain said. The hiker’s injuries are not considered life-threatening. The other four hikers were picked up by friends in Healy.

Rescuers were alerted by the hikers with a satellite-based emergency device that notified the International Emergency Response Coordination Center of a medical emergency, troopers said. That international group then notified rescuers, who reached the site by snowmobile, DeSpain said.

Families of some of those who died are now behind a proposal before Denali Borough for a feasibility study for construction of a footbridge over the Teklanika (river, the most dangerous point in the hike)...

As far as (borough Mayor Clay Walker) is concerned, a better solution would be to remove the bus. “The fact that the bus is there raises that attraction level,” he said

image: "Hikers take a break at Bus 142 on the Stampede Trail" by Erik Halfacre (CC BY-SA 3.0 Read the rest

Porn video shot in public library upsets citizens

Residents of the Ocean Park neighborhood in Santa Monica, California are angry that adult film performer Ellie Eilish and a colleague allegedly filmed a porn movie inside the local public library. The video apparently turned up on PornHub where, according to the Santa Monica Daily Press, "library porn is not uncommon." From the SMDP:

The video, which was posted three weeks ago, shows 19-year-old entertainer Ellie Eilish exposing herself while walking around Ocean Park, outside of the John Muir Elementary School and Santa Monica Alternative School House campus, and inside the Ocean Park branch library. Eilish then performs sex acts inside the library with a man, whose face is not shown...

The city of Santa Monica issued the following statement Monday afternoon:

“We are deeply disturbed to learn about this video. Sex in public spaces is against the law and the Santa Monica Police Department will be looking into this incident.”

image credit: Santa Monica Public Library (CC BY-SA 3.0) Read the rest

Madonna's "Justify My Love" with only Lenny Kravitz's backing vocals is excellent mutant pop

"Justify My Love" is a 1990 trip-hop tune by Lenny Kravitz and Ingrid Chavez with spoken vocals by Madonna and soulful humming and moaning by Kravitz. Someone mixed a version of the track sans Madonna and with Kravitz's backing vocals brought to the forefront. The above sounds like a compelling piece of "outsider pop," as described by bil-sabab on r/ObscureMedia.

image: transformation of chrisweger's original photo (CC BY-SA 2.0) Read the rest

Mysterious "demonic sounds" heard inside McDonald's

In Pueblo, Colorado at 3:330am Friday morning, terrified McDonald's employees called police after hearing "'demonic sounds' from a screaming woman" inside the restaurant.

According to Pueblo Police captain Tom Rummel, the employees also reported sounds of a "strange language and barking."

"They were so unnerved by the sounds that they said they wouldn’t be going back outside their building until after the sun came up," Rummel tweeted. "Three officers searched the area, but didn’t come up with the source of the disturbance."

(Pueblo Chieftain)

image: transformation of photo by Towinn (CC BY-SA 3.0) Read the rest

What is the world's foulest smell? It's called “U.S. Government Standard Bathroom Malodor”

Writing for The New York Times, Randall Monroe (creator of the xkcd comic) looks into the world's worst smell. It turns out that there is no universal agreement, but a strong contender for the title is something called U.S. Government Standard Bathroom Malodor, "a substance that was designed to mimic the scent of military field latrines, in order to test cleaning products."

Another contender was accidentally cooked up one day by Derek Lowe, an industrial chemist:

Dr. Lowe said that the worst thing he’d ever smelled in his career as a chemist arose when he inadvertently combined dimethyl sulfide (think farts) with some silicon he was putting through a reaction called a Peterson olefination. Neither odor would smell great on its own, but combined they produced something transcendently foul. “It smelled like what you’d imagine the exhaust of a U.F.O. to smell like,” he said. “It was spectacularly weird and horrible.”

By Cornischong at lb.wikipedia - Own workTransferred from lb.wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link Read the rest

Witchy woman on the cover of Black Sabbath's eponymous first album finally identified

It is kind of hard to imagine that it's taken until 2020 for the identity of the woman on the cover of Black Sabbath's heavy metal masterpiece, Black Sabbath, to finally be known. The woman has been identified as Louisa Livingston. The image was shot by photographer and album designer, Keith "Keef" Macmillan.

The photographer opted for Oxfordshire's Mapledurham Watermill because it fit the band's sound in his opinion. Louisa told Rolling Stone:

"I remember it was freezing cold. I had to get up at about 4 o'clock in the morning. Keith was rushing around with dry ice, throwing it into the water. It didn't seem to be working very well, so he ended up using a smoke machine.

"It was just, 'Stand there and do that.' I'm sure he said it was for Black Sabbath, but I don't know if that meant anything much to me at the time."

As a teenage headbanger, I spent countless record-spinning hours poring over every inch of this haunting cover, completely enthralled by the creepy building and the beautiful green-skinned witch in front of it. It is probably a good thing that I (and every other pubescent teen listener) was ignorant of this fact:

"She wasn't wearing any clothes under that cloak because we were doing things that were slightly more risqué, but we decided none of that worked.

"Any kind of sexuality took away from the more foreboding mood. But she was a terrific model. She had amazing courage and understanding of what I was trying to do."

Read the rest

Four endangered mountain gorillas killed by lightning

Three female mountain gorillas -- one pregnant -- and one male infant were killed by lightning in Uganda's Mgahinga National Park. With just 1,000 or so left in the world, their deaths is a "big loss for the species," according to the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration that works to conserve wildlife in the region. From the BBC News:

The four that died were part of a 17-member group, which has been called the Hirwa family by the authorities.

"The potential of the three females for their contribution to the population was immense," (GVTC executive secretary Andrew) Seguya said.

He added that the 13 surviving members of the Hirwa family have been found and are feeding well.

image: "Mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei), 10 month old baby, Titus Group, Rwanda" by Charles J Sharp (CC BY-SA 4.0) Read the rest

Teacher calls cops on 6-year-old with Down syndrome who pointed a finger gun at her

An elementary school teacher in Pennsylvania called police after a kindergarten-aged girl pointed a "finger gun" pretended to shoot her. The child was not arrested.

From CNN:

Administrators concluded that Margot made a "transient threat" and didn't intend to harm anyone, but they still called Tredyffrin police.

The district said calling law enforcement is part of its safety protocol. But [the Margot's mother Maggie] Gaines said that in her daughter's case, the district misinterpreted its own policy.

"It was very clear from the beginning that she didn't understand what she was saying," Gaines told CNN affiliate KYW. "Her having Down syndrome is one aspect of it, but I'm sure most six year olds don't understand what that means."

She said police filed a report on the incident that mentioned Margot by name. Tredyffrin police didn't immediately respond to CNN's requests for comment, but the school district told CNN that police didn't create criminal or juvenile records for Margot.

By User Jeremykemp on en.wikipedia - Jeremykemp, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link Read the rest

Disney one-day passes now cost more than $200

Within Disney's fantastically complicated five-tier ticket pricing scheme, the cost of a one-day pass has increased from $199 to $209 per day. Here are other highlights from the SFGate article about Disney's new prices:

The MaxPass, which enables a park visitor to digitally book reservations for rides and attractions instead of waiting in line, increased to $20 from $15.

Parking stayed flat at $25 a day.

The price of the least expensive annual pass, the Select Pass, which blocks out holidays and peak-demand days, rose 5% to $419 from $399. The most expensive annual pass, the Premier Pass, which gives guests access to Disney parks in Anaheim and Orlando, Fla., without blocking any dates, jumped 13% to $2,199 from $1,949.

(Image: Mickey Mouse riding toy in Chinatown, New York City, by Benjamin Thompson, CC-BY-SA 2.0) Read the rest

UK to empower media regulator Ofcom to regulate internet, remove 'harmful' content

The UK government has announced a plan to put media regulator Ofcom in charge of regulating the internet, with a focus on removing illegal content and minimizing “harmful” content. Read the rest

CIA secretly owned world's top encryption supplier, read enemy and ally messages for decades

For more than half a century, governments all over the world trusted a single company to keep the communications of their spies, soldiers and diplomats secret. That company was secretly run by the CIA, which had the ability to read all those communications for decades. Read the rest

Biden hopes to increase his poll numbers by calling a woman at his event a "lying dog-faced pony soldier"

At Biden's campaign event in New Hampshire yesterday, a 21-year-old student asked him: "How do you explain the performance in Iowa, and why should voters believe that you can win the national election?"

Joe Biden dealt with the question by calling her a "lying dog-faced pony soldier."

Apparently, he thought is was OK to call her that because he thinks a cowboy movie actor said it 67 years ago.

Image by Digital Campaign Manager Doug Jones for Senate - Doug Jones for Senate Committee, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link. Modified. Read the rest

Here's a simple recipe for making Japanese style fluffy pancakes

A while back I posted about the kind of fluffy pancakes you can get in Japan and how one guy said he makes them in a rice cooker. I still haven't tried it yet, but here's a simple recipe that I'd like to try from Kitchn:

Here’s how to make it at home: All you do is grease the insides of your rice cooker, pour your pancake batter in, set it to “cook/warm,” close the top, and for a 10-cup rice cooker, set the timer for 45 minutes or so, keeping an eye on it. Don’t worry if the giant pancake appears “wet” when you open the top. It’s just condensation from the steam. But do yourself a favor and give it a touch: it should feel firm and bouncy.

Image: Flipper's Pancake in Tokyo by Mark Frauenfelder, CC BY-SA 4.0 Read the rest

Chinese doctor who tried to warn about coronavirus early on but was censored has died from the disease [Updated]

[UPDATE 2/6/20 12:09pm PT: According to the CNN, the doctor is alive but in critical condition. "Hours earlier the same state media organizations reported that he had died."

"Wuhan Central Hospital said on its official Weibo account that Li Wenliang, 34, had become seriously ill. 'In the fight against the pneumonia epidemic of the new coronavirus infection, our hospital's ophthalmologist Li Wenliang was unfortunately infected. He is currently in critical condition and we are trying our best to resuscitate him,' the statement read."]

A Chinese ophthalmologist in Wuhan who tried to warn his colleagues on December 30 about seven patients who had come down with a SARS-like virus but was censored by the Chinese government – and and then detained two days later for "rumor mongering" – has died from the disease.

After being detained for two days, Li Wenliang, age 34, helped patients with the novel coronavirus who streamed into his overrun hospital, until he himself became infected with the coronavirus and was hospitalized.

From The Washington Post:

The full outlines of his story, which came to light in recent weeks as the Wuhan outbreak exploded into an international emergency, set off a swell of outrage in China, where citizens have long chafed at the government’s penchant for relentlessly snuffing out any speech deemed threatening to social stability.

Many, including China’s judicial authorities in a rare rebuke of the police, have wondered whether the epidemic could have unfolded differently had Li not been silenced at a critical juncture ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday in late January...

Read the rest

Wife of banker who stole billions loses bid to keep $20 million London mansion

Zamira Hajiyeva has 28 days to appeal a court order to seize her $20 million London mansion after she was unable reveal the source of her wealth, reports The Telegraph.

Hajiyeva's husband was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2016 after he was found guilty of stealing almost $3 billion from the International Bank of Azerbaijan, where he had served as chairman.

From the article:

As well as spending more than £16 million in Harrods over a ten-year period, Mrs Hajiyeva also bought the Mill Ride golf and country club in Ascot for £10.5 million. She is also said to have owned a £35 million private jet and had a wine cellar stocked with some of the world’s most expensive vintages.

Image: by Diliff - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link Read the rest

A guide to Silicon Valley’s High-Tech Heritage Trail

Over at The Startup on Medium, David Laws, semiconductor curator at the wonderful Computer History Museum, has prepared a fascinating guide to Silicon Valley's "high-tech heritage trail exploring places that housed the early stirrings of the digital revolution." Covering the "30-mile corridor from Stanford University to the former IBM disk-drive campus," Laws visits dozens of historical locations in the area including the spot where in 1908 Cyril Elwell demonstrated wireless telephony, the Stanford Research Park where Russel and Sigurd Varian invented the klystron microwave tube in 1937, and the location of Fairchild Semiconductor, fabricators of the first "monolithic integrated circuit (computer chip)" in 1960. Here are a few other great stops on the tour:

Apple and Steve Jobs, the most famous beneficiaries of Xerox innovations, borrowed the Alto’s GUI, mouse, and other features to differentiate the Macintosh from the rest of the early PC pack. Together with Steve Wozniak, Jobs co-founded Apple Computer and built the Apple 1 in his parents’ suburban tract home... at 2066 Crist Drive, Los Altos. Private residence, do not disturb...

Mountain View

Scientists and engineers fabricated the first silicon devices in the Valley at the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory in a former apricot packing shed at 391 San Antonio Road, Mountain View in 1956. Razed in 2014 for a multi-use commercial development, the lab site is commemorated with an IEEE Milestone plaque, an interpretive panel, and towering semiconductor device sculptures mounted in the sidewalk. (photo above)...

South Valley

Known as Andy Capp’s Tavern in 1972, Rooster T.

Read the rest

This newly discovered cannabis compound is possibly 30 times more powerful than THC

Researchers identified a phytocannabinoid in Cannabis sativa that they say could be 30 times more powerful than THC, at least in their lab results. The scientists from Italy's University of Modena and Reggio Emilia and their colleagues found that in their in vitro tests, tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP) showed an attraction to the nervous system's cannabinoid (CB1) receptor that's more than thirty times higher than good ol' THC. From CNN:

CBD has mostly been the focus of studies on the health benefits of cannabis, but because THCP appears to show stronger binding abilities and potency, the authors think there is potential for health benefits.

The findings could enable the production of cannabis extracts for targeted physical effects; more testing with the study's methods could further the discovery and identification of new compounds, the authors said.

"There are other minor cannabinoids and traces in the plant that can be hard to study, but by isolation we can continue to assess the effects they might offer," (said Jane Ishmael, associate professor in Oregon State University's College of Pharmacy, who was not involved in the research.

"Historically, many of our medicines have been derived by or inspired by natural products. By having new compounds that bind with very high affinity, that will give scientists a new probe into biological sciences."

Read the scientific paper: "A novel phytocannabinoid isolated from Cannabis sativa L. with an in vivo cannabimimetic activity higher than Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol: Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabiphorol" (Nature Scientific Reports)

image: Thayne Tuason (CC BY-SA 4.0 Read the rest

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