Bizarre story of a millionaire hacker's secret tunnel system and a tragic death

Daniel Beckwitt, a channer with a trust fund, began digging a bunker under his house after his mother died. Driven by survivalist paranoia and reinforced in adjacent ideologies by like-minded internet users, he hired another young man, Askia Khafra, to dig in the growing tunnel system while he blew the days on Reddit and 4chan. Everything was dangerous—the house and basement full of hoarded junk, the bunker a structural deathtrap—and when something terrible happened, it was Askia who could not get out. In The Washington, William Brennan tries to unravel what on Earth happened down there.

As neighbors watched the house from their lawns and windows, a county fire investigator made a startling discovery. Squeezing past the furnace amid a tower of junk in the basement, he was headed to shut off the gas meter when something caught his eye: A few feet ahead, there was a hole in the concrete floor. Below it, investigators soon learned, stretched an extensive network of tunnels and bunkers—long, twisting hallways of bare rock that would end up revealing the bizarrest of internet-era fables, and one with a ghastly ending.

It's hard to believe it's real. It's like groverhaus, but with a hole leading straight to hell and a murder conviction to take with you. Read the rest

Booby trap in a "meth" house

See if you can guess how you would die if you walked up this completely innocuous staircase.

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Turning the NSA's vintage internal security posters into t-shirts

Techdirt is in the throes of a two-part revelation: 1. the US government's works are public domain and can be freely commercialized, and; 2. many of the weird things that spy agencies make can be turned into ironic, cool, and sometimes fun and/or beautiful objects of commerce. Read the rest

Vintage internal security posters, pried loose from the NSA's archives

Government Attic used the Freedom of Information Act to force the NSA to cough up its "old security posters from the 1950s and 1960s"; after two years' delay, the NSA finally delivered 139 pages' worth of gorgeous, weird, revealingly paranoid internal materials, produced by an incredibly prolific internal security office who constantly refreshed their poster designs (presumably to keep them from disappearing into the background), all funded with US public money and thus in the public domain for your remixing pleasure (a few dozen of my favorites below!). Read the rest

Man followed by pig on a morning walk calls the cops, who assume he's drunk. But he's not

A man in Elyria, OH was walking home at 5:26am Saturday morning when he got spooked. Someone - or something – was following him. When he noticed it was a pig, he freaked out and called the police.

Of course the cops thought he was either really drunk or hallucinating. But he wasn't. The frightened gentleman just didn't like being followed by a pig.

The police ended up returning the animal, whose name is Zoey, back to its owner.

Phew. Close call. But the man survived the frightful morning without a scratch and lived to tell about it.


Image: North Ridgeville Police Department Read the rest

Empire Games: Charlie Stross starts a new phase in the Merchant Princes series, blending spycraft, Leninist thought experiments, and parallel dimensions

Charlie Stross's longrunning Merchant Princes series are a sneaky, brilliant techno-economic thought experiment disguised as heroic fantasy, and with Empire Games, the first book of the second phase of the series, Stross throws in a heavy dose of the noirest spycraft, an experiment in dieselpunk Leninism and War on Terror paranoia.

Lego store detains 11 year old customer, accuses his father of being an unfit parent

Doug Dunlop's 11 year old, Lego-obsessed son is a frequent customer at the Lego store in Calgary's Chinook Mall, where he spends his odd-job savings on new materials -- until this week, when the Lego store management had the mall's security take him into custody. Read the rest

How pregnancy is like climate change denialism

Hillary Rosner is a fantastic environmental reporter — the sort that digs facts and stories more than outrage-bait and blind activism. She's currently pregnant and, like all pregnant ladies, is finding herself subject to a deluge of warnings and "helpful" advice. When you're pregnant, there is always somebody who wants to let you know what you're doing wrong, why you're being irresponsible, and how you've totally ruined your kid's life already.

But in the midst of this, Rosner noticed something really fascinating: When it feels like the world is conspiring to make you terrified and guilty, it's sometimes easier to just tune out the world rather than investigate which claims are true and which aren't. Read the rest