Episode 89: You Need A Door Edition

Welcome to Interesting If True, the podcast that is minting its own currency… social currency…

I’m your host this week, Aaron, and with me are:

I’m Shea, and this week I learned that an owl is just a pigeon filled with anger and knowledge

Headlines

No One Wants To Work…

For you. Because you’re a cheap, mean, asshole. Or at least, that seems to be the common thread. Plenty of people I know are hiring and getting hired, the key difference between them and people putting up “no one wants to work anymore signs” is a willingness to compensate employees fairly and, as much of a burden as it might be, treat employees as humans. It’s simple math, but boss-Karen-proof.

While being paid and treated with respect are the gold standard, it hasn’t stopped companies from getting a bit creative with their benefits package. In the same vein as restaurant employees getting a free meal (your food service workers do get at least a snack right?!), employers like Stripchat, a website that is exactly what it sounds like, have taken a … let’s say “innovative-ish” approach to employee management.

From their own blog:

Nowadays, it has become super important for companies to boost the office environment for those not working remotely. We at Stripchat know how to ensure our employees’ quality “fappy hour”.

Yep. Jack’en it is now a perk. The company has set up “Wank Pods” at their offices for employees to use after a long, hard, day of ensuring quality streaming titties.

Again from the blog:

Each “Wank Pod” is planned to come fully equipped with masturbatory accessories, including a 4K LED screen to watch VR cams boosted by Dreamcam’s technology, an Oculus Quest VR headset, lotion, tissues, and more.

A Wank Pod

A Wank Pod

As odd as it may sound, StripChat isn’t the first to do this.

Last year, Erika Lust — writer, producer, and director of Erika Lust Films, who, if it isn’t clear make porn — began offering employees 30minute jack’n’jill ’en it breaks after noticing that employees were growing more and more agitated during lockdown (also, I nearly wrote “lickdown” there, talk about a Freudian slip… bra and panty set). Though not a Wank Pod, she did create a space in the office for… wanking.

Cat, who is head of communications and content at the company, said: “Picture this: a team of happy employees with their creative juices flowing and being productive because they’ve had some time scheduled to make themselves feel good. A masturbation break at work can result in more focus from your employees, less aggression, more productivity, and better teamwork.”

Lust’s team of a little more than 30 employees has, apparently, really been enjoying the new perk.

As for the Pods, they’re also available to lease from StripChat. They’ll run you 50k, but do include a free top-tier subscription to StipChat so you can awkwardly discover what your co-workers jack off to when they bookmark that thing. You know the thing. That thing.

  • https://stripchat.com/blog/wank-pods-to-become-a-new-work-perk-for-stripchat/
  • https://themotherofallnerds.com/company-offers-breaks/
  • https://www.ladbible.com/news/weird-boss-lets-staff-take-masturbation-breaks-at-work-20210513

Radioactive Faith?

What’s the most beneficial thing we could do with religion? Other than “do away” with it that is…

Well, some scientists have been putting no small amount of thought into this question in the hopes of saving future generations from radioactive pollution.

In Japan’s Kesennuma region there are tsunami stones. Gigantic obelisks engraved with messages warning people not to forget the devastation tsunamis have caused in the area and warning people against building homes below a certain elevation in the area to prevent such tragedies in the future.

The tsunami stones are warnings across generations, telling descendants to avoid the same suffering of their ancestors,” specialist in the history of natural disasters Itoko Kitahara told the New York Times.

Some are 600 years old. Their messages are no longer as clear as they may have once been highlighting the problem — how do we warn people in 1000 years or 10,000 years when our cultures and languages have dramatically changed, but our weakness to radiation, presumably, hasn’t?

In the 1980s the Human Interference Task Force attempted to do just that. They came up with several silly ideas, like radioactive cats. Author Francoise Bastide and Paolo Favvri suggested that they bread cats who changed color when exposed to radiation. Then we would tell stories about glowing cats being harbingers of doom such that people would avoid them, and thereby, the radioactive waste that makes them glow.

I guess those guys never heard the story of black cats. People don’t avoid them, they shoot at them. Not a great safety plan.

There were the usual suggestions: skulls on pikes, cave paintings of horrible scenes before you get to the storage area, you know, scary stuff.

Of course, anyone whose seen a monster movie knows it only takes one greedy business person to wander past the human sacrifices and open Pandora’s box.

You don’t have to try to scare people away by looking menacing and symbolising danger,“ James Pearson, who worked on the Preservation of Records, Knowledge and Memory Across Generations initiative told the BBC. ”You need try to inform people of what’s there, so they can then make an informed decision for themselves.”

With that, there is the suggestion of using complex technological barriers with the assumption that a society able to subvert them would also be able to detect dangerous materials. But anyone whose seen a Sci-Fi movie knows that regardless of complexity if you press enough buttons, everything will eventually turn green and give you either superpower or cancer.

So what’s the fix?

For my money, it’s the Atomic Priesthood.

Taking a page from the Bene Gesserit, linguist Thomas Sebeok suggested making a counsel of scientists rather than believers, would be responsible for passing on an “artificially created and nurtured ritual-and-legend, which would be a ”false trail“ for the uninitiated, who would be steered away from the hazardous site for reasons other than the scientific knowledge.”

Use people’s innate sense of reverence and taboo to make venturing into wastelands undesirable and synonymous with danger. The stories and traditions will change over time, but religion has proven its ability to impose millennia-long taboos. Harnessing that power may well be the best way to keep far-future archeologists from digging into mists born of nuclear waste piles.

  • https://www.mat.ucsb.edu/~g.legrady/academic/courses/01sp200a/students/enricaLovaglio/pandora/Pandora.html
  • https://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/scientists-once-proposed-an-atomic-priesthood-to-deliberately-spread-rituals-and-legends/?fbclid=IwAR3gkf3NSoQaXO_vxcONk-tYWNKgbK87gEUk-6XpAUhxgp1R9az-KE76flM

Eye Bleach

Closing out headlines we’ve talked about why you might need eye bleach and how we might be able to warn you against exposure to harmful chemicals, it’s only proper that we talk about what happens when you ignore your Atomic Pastor and Google the stuff ShipChat’s QC team banned.

Or, you know, if you listen to fucking OAN or FOX.

The FDA had to issue an announcement this week that… honestly, I’m only surprised about because I didn’t know it was a thing.

Most of you have by now either taken or seen, an at-home Covid-19 test. I got two from getcovidtests.com and had to open the box to make sure I was reading this nonsense correctly.

What can I say, we’ve been really lucky about exposure and have only had to be tested by professionals twice — once as a precaution ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Inside your Covid-19 test is a swab for your mouth hole, a little vile of liquid to put it in, and a pregnancy-test-looking thing to drip the solution onto. A basic lateral flow test.

It has become somewhat popular among idiots to open the vile and squirt the liquid into their own eyes or snort it because… of… healing… something… shut up.

The liquid solutions may include chemical ingredients, such as sodium azide, that help the test work properly or act as preservatives. The test chemicals can be irritating or toxic if they get on your skin, nose, or eyes or if they are swallowed.”

The FDA wrote after having reports of people intensionally squirting the stuff in their eyes and a few reports of young children getting ahold of the stuff and eating it.

In addition to the internal stupidity, some folks have mistakenly put the solution onto their swabs before swabbing their nose, thereby introducing the liquid into their face holes.

It shouldn’t need to be said, but here we are: only use Covid-19 tests as instructed by the test itself, never consume the testing solution, and if you get it in you, call poison control at (800) 222–1222 in the U.S., and probably 999 everywhere else.

  • https://arstechnica.com/science/2022/03/the-fda-would-like-you-to-not-put-covid-19-test-solution-in-your-eyes-nose/
  • https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/safety-communications/use-and-store-home-covid-19-tests-properly-avoid-potential-harm-fda-safety-communication

Return to the Microverse

No, not the cool 3D Ant-Man one…

Today, I would like to introduce you to the tiny nation of Minerva.

Micro-nation? Yep. Flags, coins, and fights with real countries? Of course. Insane libertarians getting what they wanted? Oh, absolutely!

First, let me introduce the visionary behind this proud new land, the John Galt of our story, Michael Oliver.

He made a fortune selling real estate — because the one thing they can’t make more of is land…

Also, this is the story of Oliver making more land.

Oliver’s plan was simple. Create a micro-nation without taxes, welfare, or economic intervention, wherein everyone was free to… live chiefly off of fishing and dubious ship registrations. Never mind that every honest study of Libertarian ideals has found that it’s beyond stupid and if given the choice, just like the citizens of Graftenburge, no one would choose to live there. Or get eaten by a bear, that’s kind of the other option.

Fortunately, Oliver solved the bear problem by making the tiny nation of Minerva essentially inaccessible.

So maybe sharks? Yeah, sharks.

Sharks: the bears of the sea!

So the best way to free yourself from the oppression of America is, of course, to own an island. And if you don’t own an island, the next best way to do that is to build one in international waters.

Or, what you think are international waters. We’ll get there but they did not map correctly.

Fortunately, Oliver’s syndicate, the Ocean Life Research Foundation had allegedly raised some 100 million dollars to do — well, probably not this — but the best way to build a freedom-island is with someone else’s money!

The plan was, initially, to set up in the Turks and Caicos Islands. They’d built stilted apartments, and fish, and have tourists, and also register totally-not-pirate-ships, and never pay any taxes or help each other in any way — you know, a free, non-societal… society!

But the British government wasn’t super crazy about this no-taxes plan so he had to settle for an atoll in South Minerva reefs.

The Minerva Reefs were named after a whaling ship — not a great start — that wrecked on South Minerva in 1829.

This would not be the last thing wrecking on the Minerva Reefs.

With a location identified, in 1971 barges left Australia on a mission to dump tonnes of freedom-sand into a reef such that it was high enough above sea level to plant a tiny, toy, flag on.

Ahh, the 70’s, when everything was legal.

With a flag planted, the “Republic of Minerva” issued a Declaration of Independence to neighboring countries and in February of 1972 “elected” Morris C.Davis the Provisional President. Oliver’s friend, Davis was to go to the “island” and kinda… you know… bring some buddies or whatever and get the ball rolling on all that ‘country’ stuff countries do… you know?

To Oliver’s credit, nearby countries took this a lot more seriously than any other would-be kingdom we’ve talked about.

Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, Nauru, Western Samoa, and Cook Island met on 24 February 1972 to discuss the issue… and probably do super common international chatting because there’s no way this was a “special emergency session” or something.

The result was Tonga laying claim to the reefs as they’d fished there for generations and also this jackasses plan was to dump enough sand onto it to build an 8-foot, 15-acre proof-of-concept ecological disaster with the hopes of selling another 2,500 acres of ex-reef.

Davis, who is in most articles credited with being the North American Rockwell engineer who helped develop the minuteman missile system… which… why did this guy build missile systems for a government he doesn’t trust? I… uanga;sdkjfa;kdjf

Davis, who ran his would-be empire from the living room of his California home said the plan was a “major landfill” program then, you know, step 2: attract 60,000 residents to “Sea City” — I guess there was some back and forth on the name — which would “sparkle like a jewel in the blue South Pacific.” Bit of a poet that President Davis.

That quote, by the way, came from an early issue of the Minerva Times, a two-page, totally-not-photocopied-in-a-crazy-person’s-basement, months paper that sold for $6.25 in god damned 1972.

The idea was, seriously, to build stilted houses, apartment complexes, businesses… you name it. For 60k people. Without “taxation, welfare, subsidies, or any other form of economic interventionism.”

So… I guess Davis was going to plant some of those free-range condominium seeds I’ve been hearing so much about…

The King of Tonga, King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV was not having this. On June 15 1972 he issued a declaration giving Tonga jurisdiction over the reefs. The other countries were cool with this because the King of Tonga wasn’t a crazy Libertarian trying to build Galt’s Gulch in a coral reef!

Of this, the Prince of Tonga said “We can’t have people setting up empires on our doorstep.” Which was super cool of him, calling this hot-mess of sand and dollar-store flags an “empire” and all…

And this is absolutely my favorite part of this story…

The King sets sail from Tonga, which is a few hundred miles northeast, on a ship called the Olovaba with the entire 100-man Tonga Defense Force (which the NYTimes adds were “recruited” prisoners) and a band.

Then, as the Tongan Police Band played the national anthem, and Tongan Prime Minister Made U. Tupouniva reads a Sovereignty Proclamation, the King kicks over Davis’ tiny toy flag and planted a real Tongan flag in its place.

You know, like a boss.

Davis immediately gets on a plane and flies to Nuku’alofa, the capital of Tonga, and demands an audience with the King. Who says no and because Tonga is a real country with like, receptionists, police, and … doors, he doesn’t get in.

We can’t for the life of us understand why the King should suddenly decide he wants the reefs,” Davis commented. “He never had any use for them before.”

Except for all that ancestral fishing, I guess. Otherwise, no use.

And that was it.

It turns out that even with crazy billionaire money and a bunch of air miles you can’t just decide part of the ocean is yours and make anti-community, freedom… society…

At its height, the proud republic of Minerva boasted 42 citizens. Or, as they’re more commonly known, the dudes who helped unload the sand, Davis, and some of his not-at-all drunk buddies.

The flag is a bit clip-arty but better than you usually get with these countries. IT’s solid blue with a gold, encircled, torch emblem.

They did mint some coins, which are, of course, proudly made in America where there are metal workers and shipping and stuff because of all that society our taxes pay for. Each 25K gold, because fuck you, coin costs 75$ USD and is worth $35 … WD… because that’s how money works. You just decide how many American dollars a you-dollar is worth and then everyone says “yeah, that’s cool,” and just like that a new conversion rate is born.

The coin features the Minerva torch on one side and some Roman lady’s face on the other. Because of all that Rome they’ve got between Auckland and American Samoa I guess…

Still, the dream wasn’t dead. The coins were meant to raise money to restart Minerva. A 1975 ad in the Libertarian Review enticed buyers with the tagline: “The world’s most unusual new country: inspiration for the most unique metal coin ever minted.”

Ugh.

In 1982 Davis, or “Bud” as he’d been come to be known, because of course, led a group of Americans to “occupy” the reefs.

After 3 weeks of “man, come on, don’t make us come over and kick you ass. Cause we will, kick your ass, so hard, but ugh, you’re all the way over there…” again Tongan forces set sail to the reefs and kicked Davis and his merry band of idiots out of “Minerva.”

Finally, in October of 2003, a person “identified as Prince Calvin” declared that Oliver, now board with this mess, gave him permission or whatever to re-constitute the Minerva state. That said no one seems to know for sure who the hell Prince Calvin is and no one ever showed up on the reefs. This is probably good because there’s now a Tongan military outpost there and the last thing we need is a bunch of South Carolinian Yee-hawdists starting a navel war on the other side of the world.

The website for new Minerva does say that they “attempted to engage other states and NGOs in negotiations and dialog” but does not follow up with “and we got reply.” Apparently, they do have a number of chapters of their “Libertarian Campaign” on colleges in the US so… you know… that’s probably bad.

Fortunately, no one can verify that they exist… though that could be because Libertarians don’t generally take surveys.

  • https://www.nytimes.com/1976/03/28/archives/nations-off-the-beaten-track-a-world-of-tiny-nations.html
  • https://en.numista.com/catalogue/exonumia71337.html
  • https://1991-new-world-order.fandom.com/wiki/Republic_of_Minerva (yikes, but they cite their sources)
  • https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/republic-of-minerva
  • https://archive.curbed.com/2019/7/12/20690898/republic-of-minerva-south-pacific-michael-oliver
  • https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00223344.2019.1573664?journalCode=cjph20
  • https://fifthworld.fandom.com/wiki/Micronation
  • https://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Republic_of_Minerva
  • http://www.queenoftheisles.com/HTML/Republic%20of%20Minerva.html

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Your Failed Education System: History

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I have not been able to find a good story to save my life this week. My focus has been terrible and covid brain is a real thing. That being said I did come across some cool history memes about hidden history and historical events most have never heard of. I did some digging and found quite a few cool little factoids to teach you.

Today I give you your failed education system, history edition!

Alexander the Great was an ancient Macedonian ruler and one of history’s greatest military minds who, as King of Macedonia and Persia, established the largest empire the ancient world had ever seen. You have all heard of him I can guarantee, that at the height of his reign, his empire stretched from the Balkans to modern-day Pakistan, stretching over 3 continents.

During his reign, Alexander the Great had a massive impact on his time and sent ripples into the future. “In a reign of 13 years Alexander shot across the Greek and Middle Eastern firmament like a meteor, transforming whatever he — often brutally — touched and ensuring the ancient world and so eventually our world could never be the same again,” Paul Cartledge, A.G. Leventis, professor of Greek culture at Cambridge University, wrote in All About History magazine.

A fact that might have slipped your mind is Alexander’s age, he was only 32 when he died. In 323 B.C., Alexander was in Babylon in modern-day Iraq, and his next major military target was Arabia on the southern end of his empire. In June 323 B.C., while he was readying troops, he caught a fever that would not go away. He soon had trouble speaking and eventually passed. Since then, historians have discussed the cause of his death, and suggested everything from malaria, typhoid, and alcohol poisoning to his assassination by one of his competitors, according to egypttoday.com.

However, his death may have been announced prematurely, according to Katherine Hall, a senior lecturer in the Department of General Practice and Rural Health at the University of Otago in New Zealand.

The story goes, when Alexander the Great died in Babylon in 323 B.C., his body did not begin to show signs of decomposition for a full six days, according to historical accounts. For the ancient Greeks, this confirmed what they thought about the young Macedonian king, and what Alexander believed about himself – that he was no ordinary man.

Katherine Hall seems to agree, that he was not normal. She writes that most other theories about Alexander’s death focused on painful fever and abdominal pain, the pain he suffered in the days before his death. Katherine decided to look deeper than just how he felt right before his death and opened her research to the many symptoms he seemed to have during his regular life to see if she could find a likely culprit. Guillain-Barré Syndrome fits all the symptoms, including the spread of paralysis, the fact that he seems to have maintained a sound mind even though he could not speak, and even why his body did not decompose right away, she explains. “The elegance of this diagnosis for the cause of his death is that it explains so many otherwise diverse elements and renders them into a coherent whole,” she writes in the article.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) is a rare, autoimmune disorder in which a person’s immune system damages the nerves. Damage to these nerves makes it hard for them to transmit signals. As a result, your muscles have trouble responding to your brain. No one knows what causes the syndrome. Sometimes it is triggered by an infection, surgery, a vaccination, Or maybe living in the B.C. times.

The first symptom is usually weakness or a tingling feeling in your legs. The feeling can spread to your upper body. In severe cases, you become almost paralyzed. This is life-threatening. You might need a respirator to breathe. Symptoms usually worsen over a period of weeks and then stabilize. Unless you live in the B.C. times and no one knows what’s happening and instead of letting you recover, they assume you’re dead. Not being dead would make it so you didn’t decompose… But also if your B.C. doctors couldn’t see your breath and you couldn’t move it would be easy to confuse you for a corpse.

Once he was extensively paralyzed, that could have lowered his body’s demand for oxygen. His pupils would have been fixed and dilated, and his body may not have been able to regulate his temperature properly, making him cold. Because physicians in the ancient world relied on breath not pulse to determine death, Alexander’s death may have been announced prematurely.

I wanted to stimulate new debate and discussion and possibly rewrite the history books by arguing Alexander’s real death was six days later than previously accepted,” Hall explains in a press statement. “His death may be the most famous case of pseudothanatos, or false diagnosis of death, ever recorded.”

Without a time machine, Alexander’s actual remains (the location of his tomb is still unknown), or an accurate account of the death, it’s impossible to prove the cause of his death. We can kind of assume he was buried alive though…

There Was Someone Named Mary and She Had a Little Lamb. The nursery rhyme you probably assumed was fiction was actually about a real person—Mary Sawyer, an 11-year-old girl in Boston who was followed to school one day in 1817 by her pet lamb. In the late 1860s, she helped raise money for an old church by selling pieces of wool from the famous lamb.

Born in 1806 on a farm in Sterling, Massachusetts, Mary Sawyer was fortunate enough to find a new pet while helping her father with chores around the farm. Sawyer and her father encountered a frail lamb that had been abandoned by its mother. Sawyer’s father allowed her to nurse it back to health.

“I got the lamb warm by wrapping it in an old garment and holding it in my arms beside the fireplace,” she wrote. “In the morning, much to my girlish delight, it could stand; and from that time it improved rapidly. It soon learned to drink milk; and from the time it would walk about, it would follow me anywhere if I only called it.”

The lamb indeed began following Sawyer — even accompanying her and her brother to school one day on its own. The duo didn’t seem to mind, however, as they even carried the lamb over the stone fence they had to climb to reach the Redstone School. At this point, Sawyer had other problems.

Hoping it would keep quiet and stay hidden, she covered the lamb in a basket under her desk. When she stood up to read out loud for class, however, the lamb bleated and leaped out. While Sawyer said her teacher, Polly Kimball, “laughed outright,” the girl was told to keep her lamb at home in the future.

The very next day, upperclassman John Roulstone handed Sawyer a scrap of paper that contained the now-famous nursery rhyme.

Many think the battle of Waterloo was Napoleon’s greatest defeat but today I’m going to postulate a different loss that occurred 8 years previous.

The bizarre moment in European history happened in July of 1807, after Napoleon signed the Treaties of Tilsit, officially marking the end of the war between the French Empire and Imperial Russia. To celebrate the occasion, he proposed a rabbit hunt with his men.

Napoleon put his chief of staff, Alexandre Berthier, in charge of organizing the event. Berthier went a tad overboard with the bunny corralling and collected 3,000 rabbits! On the day of the hunt, Berthier’s men placed the cages all along the edges of a massive field.

When Napoleon and his guests arrived, the long-ears were released and the hunt was on, as the hunters galloped into the field to catch their quarry. But then something bizarre happened: The rabbits didn’t scamper away in fear. Quite the opposite — they bounded toward Napoleon and his hunting party.

Napoleon and his buddies soon found themselves bombarded with a barrage of fluffy bunnies.

Initially, the men laughed at the utter absurdity of it all. But as the onslaught continued, their feelings of mirth and astonishment turned into genuine concern and fear.

The emperor and his men tried in vain to repel the onslaught, but the critters kept coming and coming and he and his men were absurdly outnumbered. Knowing it was a battle he could not win, Napoleon bid a hasty adieu, withdrawing to what he assumed would be the safety of his carriage, but the rabbit horde divided into two wings and headed for the coach.

A few of the rabbits actually leaped into his carriage. The attack ended only when the coach rolled away, with Napoleon. So, why did the rabbit attack? Blame it on Berthier. Rather than hunting down and trapping wild hares, he took the easy way out, ordering his men to procure tame rabbits raised by farmers.

Problem was, unlike wild rabbits that would instinctively scurry away, the domesticated farm rabbits didn’t fear people. They took one look at Napoleon and his posse and assumed they were going to provide them with food, just like the farmers who raised them. When the short man didn’t produce any tasty carrots the bunnies got a bit pissy and decided to take matters into their paws. Bunny Blizzard!!!

Okay, here is a real mind fuck for you. The first fax (facsimile) the machine was invented in 1843 by a Scottish mechanic named Alexander Bain. This early model used a combination of synchronized pendulums, electric probes, and electrochemically sensitive paper to scan documents, and then send the information over a series of wires to be reproduced. That same year the “Great Migration” on the Oregon Trail began. The first major wagon train of nearly 1,000 pioneers left Elm Grove, Mo., and set out to follow the Oregon Trail in search of a new future on May 22, 1843. Yes, that’s right: electronic communications were taking place in the same year that your favorite educational PC video game was set in, complete with all that nasty dysentery and cholera.

So, there are a few historical events that I bet you didn’t know. There is so much history to our world that it’s no wonder there are gaps in our knowledge. I think I even read a fact that said over 90% of history has been lost to time. If I find any other cool history I’ll make sure and learn about it next time.

Outro

I’m Aaron, and I’d like to thank all our listeners, supporters, and my co-hosts.

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