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19 May 2014

Red Bull 400

Red Bull 400 is the steepest uphill race that takes place in Europe. It’s a tough 400-meter vertical sprint up the face of a ski-jump slope in Planica, Slovenia. 300 male and female contestants competed in this year’s 2013 event and pushed their muscles to the absolute limit, in an attempt to reach the top first.

I think I could crawl up it. In like, an hour.

Bubble Football

I so very, very much want to try this.

Carl Kasell Retiring

Carl has put up with endless travel, silly jokes, countless assaults on his dignity, and my stumbling and stuttering away through shows right next to him, and all he ever has to say about it is, "I can't complain." He actually can't. After one of our tapings I challenged him to do it. I said, "Go ahead, Carl, you have a pass: Complain. Whine. Piss and moan about something. Nobody will hold it against you."

And Carl thought for a minute, he hemmed and hawed — it was the first time I ever saw him for a loss for words — and then he looked thoughtful and said, "You know, I really enjoy just about everything I do."

And so he does. This page has a small sample of what he's talking about, a tiny sliver of what makes Carl public radio's most dashing and beloved personality. - Peter Sagal

I can't even imagine Wait Wait without him. Next week will be strange. I hope he has a fantastic time doing whatever it is he chooses to do.

07 May 2014

Kowloon City 20 Years Later

The Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong was once the densest place on earth, a virtually lawless labyrinth of crime, grime, commerce and hope. A Wall Street Journal documentary tracks its colorful legacy 20 years after its demolition.

Really interesting video. I was too young to ever know this place even existed before it was gone, but the stories from the people that lived there are intriguing.

Valley of Dolls

The tiny village of Nagoro on Shikoku, Japan, used to be home to a large company and hundreds of people. Now, there are only 37 inhabitants — or at least, only 37 living inhabitants. Nagoro is also home to scores of life-size stuffed dolls made by 64-year-old Ayano Tsukimi. Tsukimi sews and dresses the dolls and positions them around town to replace her neighbors who have moved away or died.

Tsukimi started her doll project about 10 years ago, after she moved back to her hometown from Osaka. She says she’s made about 350 dolls in that time, though they only last about three years before they need to be replaced. There are now many times more dolls than humans living in Nagoro, and Tsukimi wryly imagines a future where she’s outlived all her neighbors and only dolls remain.

Personally, I don't find them creepy at all. I think they are adorable, and it's the neatest idea ever.

05 May 2014

Molten Lave Meets Can of Coke

Photographer Bryan Lowry wondered (as so many of us do): “What would happen if a can of Coke crossed paths with molten lava?” He decided to stage an experiment on a volcano in Hawaii. One can had a small hole punctured in the top too prevent the aluminum can from exploding. The second can was left perfectly sealed. Lowry used a GoPro to capture the video and was not in any personal danger.

Really, I'm just obsessed with the beauty of lava.

I'm the Worst. Sorry.

What are jerk balloons? They’re balloons for jerks. Obviously. You can’t see us, but we’re totally rolling our eyes at you right now.

The only thing I don't like is you can't just buy a set of 25 of one design.

Flu Pandemic of 1918 Explained

“Ever since the great flu pandemic of 1918 it has been a mystery where that virus came from and why it was so severe,” says Professor Michael Worobey of the University of Arizona. Between 50 and 100 million people died from the outbreak dubbed “the Spanish flu”, several times more than World War I, yet history books generally relegate it to a footnote.

While most of those who die from normal flu outbreaks are the very young or the elderly the 1918 outbreak was different – the heaviest death toll was among young adults, including those that had been in good health beforehand...

However, Worobey also turns the idea on its head by proposing exposure to a very different version of the flu virus primed the immune system to misread epidemic version. The finger of suspicion is pointed at an H3N8 virus common between 1889 and 1900. Tens of millions of people would have been exposed to this virus in childhood and recovered, but Worobey said, “A person with an antibody arsenal directed against the H3 protein would not have fared well when faced with flu viruses studded with H1 protein. And we believe that that mismatch may have resulted in the heightened mortality in the age group that happened to be in their late 20s during the 1918 pandemic."

Mount Baldy to Remain Closed

Officials at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore announced Thursday that scientists still do not know what caused holes to appear in Mount Baldy last summer, and the popular attraction will remain closed for further study.

Nathan Woessner, 6, of Sterling, Ill., was swallowed by a hole July 12 and rescued by firefighters.

“Mount Baldy is one of the most visited sites in the national lakeshore, attracting thousands of visitors each year” said Acting Superintendent Garry Traynham in a press release. “But the continued development of these holes in the dune surface poses a serious risk to the public. Our first obligation must be to the welfare of our visitors who are here for an enjoyable outing.”

I am so glad that I got to visit in 2012. No one fell in a hole, it was really cold given it was October, and the Dunes are some of my favorite memories ever.