Raleigh-Durham, I'm headed your way! (CORRECTED!)

UPDATE: The event at Flyleaf is at 6PM, not 7!

I'm delivering the annual Kilgour lecture tomorrow morning at 10AM at UNC, and I'll be speaking at Flyleaf Books at 6PM -- be there or be oblong! Read the rest

Failed 'Wizard of Oz' theme park to reopen for tours

Want to walk down a yellow brick road at a once-defunct, "famously failed" Wizard of Oz theme park? Of course you do. Head over to Beech Mountain in North Carolina in June for one of the six upcoming tours of the Land of Oz.

Visitors for these special "Journey with Dorothy" tours will follow Dorothy around the park and help her search for the "wonderful wizard."

The park writes:

Your tour’s first stop is at the Fountain of Youth, where you be asked to drop all inhibitions and to remember your childhood. You may even get the chance to play one the roles of Dorothy's trusted companions or the wicked witch that she meets throughout her journey.

Tickets are $25 each and are somehow still available. They are also hosting a 3-day event in the fall called "Autumn at Oz."

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According to the Charlotte Observer, urban exploration became popular at the park's site while it wasn't being used and many explorers helped themselves to the road's yellow bricks.

Here's the Observer's take on the park's rise and fall:

The park officially opened in 1970, with the intention of becoming a re-incarnation of the Land of Oz featured in the classic film "The Wizard of Oz." On opening day, actress Debbie Reynolds cut the opening-day ribbon as daughter Carrie Fisher ("Star Wars") stood by her side.

The Park would literally become an overnight success, with 400,000 visitors in its first season.

That success was short lived, however.

Read the rest

Cambridge Analytica campaigned for Republicans across America in 2014

2016 wasn't Cambridge Analytica's first rodeo; in 2014, they worked for Republicans in races across the country. Read the rest

Raleigh cops are investigating crime by getting Google to reveal the identity of every mobile user within acres of the scene

Public records requests have revealed that on at least four occasions, the Raleigh-Durham police obtained warrants forcing Google to reveal the identities of every mobile user within acres of a crime scene, sweeping up the personal information of thousands of people in a quest to locate a single perp. Read the rest

Unreal estate: World's largest chest of drawers for sale in North Carolina

Built in the 1920s as High Point, North Carolina's "Bureau of Information," this 36-foot-tall The Goddard-Townsend style dresser/building represents the area's furniture and hosiery industries (note the socks).

It is considered the world's largest freestanding chest of drawers, though down the street an 80-foot-tall bureau was created a few years back as a building's facade.

Now, for a mere $235K, this unusual High Point icon -- a commercial property -- could be yours.

(Pee-wee Herman, Old House Dreams)

first image via Google, second photo by Laurie Hlywa Read the rest

Federal appeals court blasts North Carolina's unconstitutional, Republican gerrymandering, orders new districts by Jan 24

North Carolina is one of several Republican-held states whose legislatures have created bizarre, misshapen and fundamentally, provably unfair electoral maps that ensure that the votes of Democrats in their states almost never result in representation by Democratic lawmakers. Read the rest

Net Neutrality is just for starters: municipal networks are the path to paradise

We just bought a house here in Burbank and I was delighted to learn that my new home office -- part of a business incorporated in the state of California -- would be sitting directly on one of the scorching-fast fiber optic lines that the city of Burbank maintains to wire up Disney, Warners and the other major businesses in town. Finally, an end to my long nightmare of slow, balky internet from Charter/Spectrum, my local cable monopolist! Read the rest

Durham protesters turn themselves in at police station after pulling down Confederate statue

On Monday, anti-racist protesters in Durham, North Carolina pulled down a statue dedicated to the "unknown soldiers" who fought to defend slavery, which was adorned with "a seal engraved with ‘The Confederate States of America’" and the words, "In memory of the boys who wore gray." Read the rest

Remembering the original, Harold Pinter screen adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale

Zachary Smith writes, "Almost 30 years before Hulu's take on Margaret Atwood's feminist classic, a less-successful adaptation was filmed in Durham, NC. Here's a well-researched look at the making of that film, and its strange parallels to the community." Read the rest

North Carolina set to pass "compromise" bathroom bill that still leaves trans people without a pot to piss in

NC Republicans and Democrats have collaborated on a "compromise" version of HB2, the state's notorious job-killing, boycott-raising, shamefully discriminatory bathroom bill. The compromise makes some cosmetic changes at the margins, but it's still a piece of shit that will embarrass the state on the national stage, and does not address any of the concerns raised by those who've announced boycotts of NC, meaning it will still cost the state billions. Read the rest

Fifth-grade teacher has an elaborate personal handshake for each and every one of his students

Barry White, Jr teaches fifth grade English at Charlotte, NC's Ashley Park School. Every day, he greets every one of his students with an amazing, personalized handshake, to "bring them excitement and pump them up for a high-energy class." Read the rest

Coup: North Carolina Republicans convene a special session to strip incoming Democratic governor of executive powers

Thomas writes, "Shortly after closing a post-election special session to fund relief for counties afflicted by flooding from Hurricane Matthew or mountain wildfires, North Carolina GOP legislative leaders announced a second special session to begin the same day with an open agenda. The docket was filled with 21 House bills, some of which stripped Democratic Governor Elect Roy Cooper of substantial control over the executive branch. This is a coup attempt, an effort to undermine the results of a highly scrutinized election." Read the rest

After North Carolina Republicans banned cities selling internet, a town decided to give it away instead

North Carolina is one of many states in which telcoms lobbyists have gotten the state house to ban towns and cities from selling high-speed internet to the public -- even in places where the cable/phone duopoly refuses to supply broadband. Read the rest

North Carolina's transphobic "bathroom bill" law is already costing it hundreds of millions of dollars

Wired's Emma Grey Ellis runs the numbers on HB2, the anti-transgender North Carolina law that requires bearded blokes to use the womens' bathroom because they have an F on their birth certificate. "It’s North Carolinians, most of whom don’t even support the legislation," Emma writes, "who get stuck with the bill. "

Adding all that up, the total cost to North Carolinians so far from HB2 protests is slightly more than $395 million. That’s more than the GDP of Micronesia. And the bulk of it is from sporting organizations, who even five years ago would likely not have waded into political territory like this. But experts aren’t that surprised that the NBA, NCAA, and ACC have taken this step now. “They’re not out on a limb here,” Durso says. “They’re in line with their base.” The near unanimous outcry against HB2 and in support of the NCAA and ACC confirms that. Legislating discrimination has become an expensive bad habit.

The sports-media business often imposes audience consensus upon local authorities. If usually a bad thing--think "taxpayers hooked into building private stadiums"--there are silver linings. Read the rest

North Carolina's voter suppression law struck down as "racist"

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has invalidated parts of North Carolina's voter suppression laws, ruling that the requirement to show photo ID was enacted "with racially discriminatory intent." Read the rest

North Carolina adopts the nation's worst police bodycam law

House Bill 972, signed into law by NC governor Pat McCrory [R] on Tuesday, makes police dashcam and bodycam footage off-limits to public records requests, off-limits to anyone who isn't personally pictured in the footage, and then only by request, which can be turned down, forcing subjects to appeal to the state Supreme Court. Read the rest

North Carolina town rejects solar because it'll suck up sunlight and kill the plants

A town meeting in Woodland, North Carolina heard public comments on a proposed solar farm in which citizens, including a retired science teacher called Jane Mann spoke out against the proposal. Read the rest

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