Category Archives: Strange But True

Senate Clock Stopped Because of Shutdown

The southern entrance to the Capitol Visitors ...

The southern entrance to the Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No other victim of the federal shutdown has demonstrated the cutoff of funding as the Senate’s Ohio Clock.

Its hands froze in place at 12:14 p.m.on Wednesday.

The winding of the timepiece, which has stood in the main corridor outside the Senate chamber since 1859, falls to a team in the Office of the Senate Curator. That staff was furloughed.

The symbolism of the timepiece’s stoppage was irresistible to some lawmakers, particularly those who have led tours of the Capitol in the wake of Capitol Visitor Center tour guides being furloughed as well. The stalled timepiece quickly became a popular photo opportunity.

Via Roll Call.

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Filed under Politics, Strange But True

Man Confesses to Killing Someone on YouTube

Matt Cordle just did an incredible thing: He confessed to killing a man. On YouTube.

Cordle says he was driving “blackout drunk” when he hit and killed sixty-one-year-old Vincent Canzani on June 22. Cordle was going the wrong way on an Interstate 670 near Columbus, Ohio.

No charges have been made in the accident. The county prosecutor called the video “compelling” and said a grand jury will be asked to indict him for aggravated vehicular homicide.

“When I get charged, I will plead guilty and take full responsibility for everything I’ve done to Vincent and his family,” Cordle says. “This video will act as my confession.”

Cordle says “If i took a different route maybe I would get a reduced sentence and maybe I would get off,” he says, but continues that he’s willing to the do the time because he wants to own up to what he’s done, and does so in the hope that his own story will serve as a cautionary tale for others to never, ever drive drunk.

The video was produced by Because I Said So, a new site that offers a forum for people to make good on their promises.

Founder Alex Sheen told CNN Cordle contacted him to make the video over Facebook. “Matt is doing as well as he can. He’s upset that people are calling his act of confession ‘courageous’ rather than focusing on the real issue: drinking and driving kills innocent people,” Sheen says.

Via Death and Taxes.

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, Strange But True

The Stress of Being Poor Makes You Functionally Stupider


Poverty (Photo credit: Teo’s photo)

A study conducted by several American and British universities has shown that financial problems negatively impact decision-making and can cause a reduction in intelligence equal to losing thirteen IQ points.

From USA Today:

“Simply put, being poor taps out one’s mental reserves,” says University of Minnesota psychologist Kathleen Vohs, in a commentary on what she calls the ‘eye-opening’ study. “These findings suggest that decisions requiring many trade-offs, which are common in poverty, render subsequent decisions prone to favoring impulsive, intuitive, and often regrettable options.”

Shafir acknowledges the study results contrast with ‘pick yourself up by your own bootstraps’ thinking about escaping poverty. “We only have so much bandwidth to make decisions and if yours is taken up daily with child care and getting to work on time when your boss yelled at you yesterday, you won’t make good decisions,” he says.

Basically, being broke causes impaired decision-making which leads to being more broke.

To be clear, this study doesn’t tout the mental superiority of the rich, but highlights the mental stressors impacting those with fewer resources.

The Daily Mail clarifies:

“Our results suggest that when you’re poor, money is not the only thing in short supply. Cognitive capacity is also stretched thin,” said Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan.

“That’s not to say that poor people are less intelligent than others. What we show is that the same person experiencing poverty suffers a cognitive deficit as opposed to when they’re not experiencing poverty.

“It’s also wrong to suggest that someone’s cognitive capacity has gotten smaller because they’re poor. In fact, what happens is that your effective capacity gets smaller, because you have all these other things on your mind, you have less mind to give to everything else.” He said individuals with financial worries are like a computer that has slowed down because it is carrying out more than one function.

But researchers discovered when low-income individuals had their money worries removed, their intelligence returned to the same levels as higher earners.

“It’s not that the computer is slow, it’s that it’s doing something else, so it seems slow to you. I think that’s the heart of what we’re trying to say,” he added.

Via Death and Taxes.

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Filed under Economy, Strange But True

Bolivian Man May Be World’s Oldest at 123

If Bolivia’s public records are correct, Carmelo Flores Laura is the oldest living person ever documented at 123.

The native Aymara lives in an isolated hamlet near Lake Titicaca.

“I see a bit dimly. I had good vision before. But I saw you coming,” he told Associated Press journalists who visited after a local TV report touted him as the world’s oldest person.

Guinness World Records says the oldest living person verified by original proof of birth is Misao Okawa, a 115-year-old Japanese woman. The oldest verified age was 122 years and 164 days: Jeanne Calment of France, who died in 1997.

“I should be about 100 years old or more,” Flores says, but his memory is dim.

Flores’ 27-year-old grandson Edwin says Flores fought in the 1933 Chaco war with Paraguay but he only faintly remembers.

The director of Bolivia’s civil registrar, Eugenio Condori, showed The AP the registry that lists Flores’ birthdate as July 16, 1890. Birth certificates did not exist in Bolivia until 1940. Before that, births were registered with baptism certificates provided by Catholic priests.

“For the state, the baptism certificate is valid,” Condori said.

Via AP.

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Filed under Strange But True, World

Georgia City Considers Mandatory Gun Ownership

Via Wikipedia.

A Georgia city is considering a proposal requiring every homeowner to own a gun.

Nelson Councilman Duane Cronic said it would be a deterrent to crime. “When he’s not here we rely on county sheriffs – however it takes a while for them to get here,” he said. “It’s a deterrent ordinance. It tells the potential intruder, ‘You better think twice.'”

Kennesaw, Georgia has already mandated gun ownership, though the law is not enforced. In addition, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin sheriff has urged people to “get in the game” with a gun instead of calling 911 during emergencies.

Meanwhile, according to a Harvard University School of Public Health survey, more people die from gun homicides in areas with higher rates of gun ownership.

Via ThinkProgress.

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Filed under Law, Sick Sad World, Strange But True

Welcome to the United States, Where It’s Easier to Buy a Gun Than Vote

English: This man is openly carrying a loaded ...

Image via Wikipedia

A day after the shooting at Chardon High School, a man in Grand Rapids, Michigan walked into a polling place, a public elementary school, openly carrying a loaded handgun.

Nicholas Looman wanted to vote in the Republican Presidential primary and “to make a point that he should be allowed to carry” a gun while voting. Mr. Looman was asked to leave after he voted. Now he’s demanding an apology and threatening to sue law enforcement, claiming that his rights were violated.

The Supreme Court decision on the Second Amendment from 2008, District of Columbia v. Heller, found that the right to keep and bear arms is about people protecting “hearth and home.” There is no right to carry firearms wherever one wants, much less at a school.

Our Founders drafted our Constitution to prevent force or the threat of force from influencing the political system. In fact, the duty of the Militia, as defined in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, is to “suppress Insurrections,” not to foment them.

Mr. Looman admits that he “open carries” a firearm. Open Carry is not necessary for self-defense. Open Carry is a political statement in the best tradition of John Wilkes Booth, Timothy McVeigh, Sharron Angle, and Ted Nugent. The message is, “Voting is peachy, but if we can’t get what we want through the ballot, we reserve the right to administer ‘Second Amendment remedies.'” Such insurrectionist ideology has been spoon-fed to right wing Americans for years by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Now it seems that insurrectionists are losing patience with the voting part of the equation. Virginia State Senator Janet Howell observed that, “It’s going to be harder to vote in Virginia than it is now to buy a gun.” She was commenting on voter suppression legislation making its way through the Virginia legislature juxtaposed with the repeal of the state’s One-Handgun-a-Month law.

Virginia is not alone. Many Republican-controlled state legislatures are moving to implement voter suppression laws before the 2012 elections. Of the eight states that require residents to show photo identification before voting (Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kansas, Indiana and Wisconsin) all allow residents to purchase firearms without undergoing any type of background check or showing any form of identification.

Twenty-three other states require residents to produce some form of identification before voting. Of those, only Rhode Island prohibits all private sales of firearms. (Connecticut requires background checks for private sales of handguns only.) Some states are now allowing residents to use a concealed handgun permit as an acceptable document to verify identity when voting, but not a student ID card issued by a public university.

Does anyone seriously believe that this was the vision of our Founders, that guys who carry a gun on their hips have greater political rights than senior citizens, minorities, the impoverished, those trying to better themselves through education, or others without immediate access to identification documents? Wasn’t it Second Amendment author James Madison who once criticized state legislators for catering to the interests of powerful constituencies at the expense of others, stating that “so far from being the Representatives of the people, they are only an assembly of private men, securing their own interest to the ruin of the Commonwealth.” When you can buy a trunk-load of AK-47s without identification but you can’t vote, something is seriously wrong.

As Lincoln wrote, “Among free men, there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and that they who take such appeal are sure to lose their case, and pay the cost.” Let’s hope he is still correct.

Excerpted from the Huffington Post.

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Filed under National, Sick Sad World, Strange But True