Afghan “Instant” Camera

The most DIY motherfucker you will ever lay eyes upon:


Death Race: Ottoman Empire Edition

The Ottoman Empire employed an elite cadre of palace gardeners to carry out their executions, usually through strangulation. The condemned person would get a reprieve however, if they win a foot-race against their executor through the palace gardens. Seriously.

When very senior officials were sentenced to death, they would be dealt with by the bostancı basha in person, but—at least toward the end of the sultans’ rule—execution was not the inevitable result of a death sentence. Instead, the condemned man and the bostancı basha took part in what was surely one of the most peculiar customs known to history: a race held between the head gardener and his anticipated victim, the result of which was, quite literally, a matter of life or death for the trembling grand vizier or chief eunuch required to undertake it.

Wells Fargo: “The Shit-Covered Bear”

Engaging and thorough account of an amateur lawyer saving a family from foreclosure:

In reality, “my law office” was actually my friend’s office, which he’d lent to me so that I could meet these clients. The classy jacket had been purchased at a clearance sale in an outlet store at the Great Mall in Milpitas. The gel was the last remnant of a decaying and potentially expired bottle I’d probably had since college but never found the opportunity to use. The suitcase was a gift from my relatives in Pakistan—who, much like the rest of my family, were thoroughly shocked that I had passed the bar exam and become a licensed attorney. My business cards had been printed for free by Vistaprint, and despite having a professional front side featuring my name in bold letters and the words ATTORNEY AT LAW, the back side glared BUSINESS CARDS ARE FREE AT WWW.VISTAPRINT.COM!

Game over. I was doomed.

Real v. Natural v. Artificial Flavoring

A comparison as to what constitutes “real” flavors:

It seems straightforward, initially: Natural vanilla flavour must be extracted from chopped up vanilla beans, usually by sitting them in ethyl alcohol for a week or more (which results in “pure” vanilla extract), although glycerin or propylene glycol (which is used to deice aircraft) can also serve as a base. Artificial vanilla flavour consists of nature-identical vanillin (the chemical that gives vanilla its characteristic flavour) that is made from something other than vanilla beans — typically wood pulp, as a by-product of the paper industry, although it can sometimes be derived from coal tar.

Nuclear Diving

I had no idea this profession even existed:

I could find no definitive statistics concerning nuclear diving injuries and deaths, but as I studied news accounts and individual incident reports, it became clear that most diving accidents involved intake work. In 2004, at Point Beach Nuclear Plant in Wisconsin, a diver became trapped when one of his lines got sucked into an intake pipe. The plant immediately turned off its circulating water pumps—which in turn shut down the reactor—so the diver wouldn’t be sucked into the pipe as well. Powering down a reactor too quickly can damage the nuclear core, but in this case everything worked out: The plant went undamaged, and the diver escaped. Other divers have been less fortunate. In 1986 an untethered diver performing intake inspections at Crystal River Nuclear Plant, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, failed to surface. The dive team sent a (tethered) rescue diver to find him. But a few minutes after entering the water, the second diver’s tether went taut and he became unresponsive. The team quickly pulled him up, and his unconscious body was almost to the surface when the tether line broke. The rescue diver sank again from view. As with the Point Beach incident, the intake systems were immediately shut down, but it was too late. Both divers were dead. While the rescue diver’s body was recovered quickly, it took workers almost two hours to locate the first diver. His body had been sucked almost all the way into the plant itself.

Dutch Cycle Paths

Informative video on how the Dutch turned into such an exemplar for mass cycling adoption:

Worst Part About Law School

Definitely the lawyer jokes, and how I laugh at every single one.