From Elizabeth Greenwood at LinkedIn: "The biggest challenge of faking your death is that teensy problem of your body. So fake a drowning, right? Wrong. “Death” by water immediately raises red flags. Investigator Steve Rambam, who consults for insurance companies says, “Ninety-nine percent of faked deaths are water accidents. In most drownings, the body is recovered. So why was this body not recovered?” According to Rambam, hiking is the way to go. “People disappear hiking all the time, legitimately. That’s a great way to disappear.” Patrick McDermott, Australian singer Olivia Newton-John’s longtime boyfriend, who faked his death on a fishing trip in 2005 shortly after the couple had broken up. Having recently filed for bankruptcy, he chartered a boat and allegedly fell overboard at night. A group of private investigators hired by Dateline NBC located McDermott when they noticed a centralized cluster of IP addresses originating near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, all clicking onto a site dedicated to tracing his whereabouts."
The Barbie movie refers to her creator's tax evasion but the truth is more complicated
From Blake Oliver: "Did you see the Barbie movie? In the movie, Barbie's creator Ruth Handler makes an off-hand mention of her IRS problems — but that’s wrong. The real-life Ruth Handler ran into legal issues with the SEC, not the IRS. And it wasn’t tax problems. The Securities and Exchange Commission came after the Barbie creator for financial fraud while she was president of Mattel. ABC News says, “In 1971, Mattel was in talks to purchase Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Mattel executives falsified invoices, bills, even customer signatures to paint a rosier picture of the company's finances.” Handler pleaded no contest to mail fraud charges and making false statements to the SEC. She had to step down from her role as president at Mattel but continued to publicly maintain her innocence while avoiding jail time."
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The US has a long history of testing radiation on the poor and disabled
From Wikipedia: "Numerous human radiation experiments have been performed in the United States, many of which were funded by various U.S. government agencies such as the United States Department of Defense, the United States Atomic Energy Commission, and the United States Public Health Service. Experiments performed have included feeding radioactive material to mentally disabled children, enlisting doctors to administer radioactive iron to impoverished pregnant women; exposing U.S. soldiers and prisoners to high levels of radiation; irradiating the testicles of prisoners, which caused severe birth defects, and exhuming bodies from graveyards to test them for radiation without the consent of the families of the deceased."
It took four hundred years for someone to decode text written by a 15th century monk
From Greg Ross at Futility Closet: "When the 15th-century Benedictine abbot Johannes Trithemius died in 1516, he left behind a three-volume work that was ostensibly about magic — specifically, how to use spirits to send secret messages over distances. Only when the Steganographia and its key were published in 1606 did it become clear that it was really a book of ciphers — the “incantations” were encrypted instructions for concealing secret messages in letters sent between correspondents. Books I and II were now plain enough, but Book III remained mysterious — it was shorter than the first two books, and its workings were not mentioned in the key that explained the ciphers in those volumes. Scholars began to conclude that it was simply what it appeared to be, a book on the occult, with no hidden content. Amazingly, nearly 400 years would go by before Book III gave up its secrets — Jim Reeds of AT&T Labs finally deciphered the mysterious codes in 1998."
What you call tea is based on whether your ancestors got it by ship or by land
From Dan Jurafsky at Language of Food: "For a thousand years, tea culture and the word for tea developed in China. Tea slowly spread to neighboring countries. As the Chinese language diversified, words for tea began to diversify as well, becoming cha in Mandarin and Cantonese and te in the Southern Min dialect spoken in Fujian and Taiwan. Roughly around the turn of the 17th century, tea began to spread around the globe, and languages around the world borrowed the word from Chinese, in two distinct forms. Some languages have a word starting with "t" like our tea (and German Tee and Spanish té), while others have a word starting with "ch" like cha in Japanese and Portuguese, or chai in Russian, Mongolian, and Hindi. How your language pronounces the word for the leaves of this plant thus depends on whether its earlier speakers traded with China by land or by sea— chai if by land, tea if by sea."
The wild Hawaiian cow is one of the most dangerous animals in the world
From Dan Nosowitz for Modern Farmer: “If they spot you first, they’ll definitely come for you,” says Orion Enocencio, manager and hunting guide at Ahiu Hawaii, an adventure company on the Big Island in Hawaii. Some of the most dangerous hunting in the entire United States is to be found on a single island in the most isolated island chain in the world. It’s not grizzly bears or mountain lions or even bison: it’s the wild Hawaiian cow. A British naval officer introduced them to the island, but the Hawaiians weren’t used to cattle; the largest animal then on the island was the domestic pig, and the enclosures built for the cows weren’t nearly strong enough to hold them. The cows bred, and broke out of their enclosures whenever they felt like it, and fled into the mountains. Set aside your conceptions of “cow,” and think about an enormously muscled 1,500 to 2,000-pound animal, with horns the size of a full-grown man, which hangs out in herds of bored and testosterone-driven bachelor males, and has no fear of humans and no qualms about charging."