I Live In Centralia, PA: It’s America’s Creepiest Ghost Town

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In 1962, there was a trash fire in a strip mine beneath Centralia, Pennsylvania. Well, we say “was” — there still is. That unassuming little fire ignited an eternal hellish blaze which burns underground to this day. Centralia is one of the most famous ghost towns on earth, but the term “ghost town” is not perfectly accurate, because a handful of people still live there. We spoke with a few former residents, Jack and Becky, as well as one current resident, Jack’s dad, “Guy.” They told us …


The Earth Literally Eats People And Animals

Centralia was a thriving mining town right up until that whole “perpetual hellfire” thing. The land beneath it is honeycombed with mines and tunnels, and the fires have spread all through them. Sometimes the ground up and collapses, devouring whatever surface life lies above with its terrible burning maw. Jack explained: “The scariest things are the sinkholes. You need to watch your step in the woods, because the ground can give way. The fire might have burnt through a foot of coal, but the ground looks like it’s at the level it’s always been. So you step out there and you have some people coming back with broken ankles.”

Really, broken ankles aren’t all that bad compared to some of the things people in other towns face. But Centralia’s sinkholes are more ambitious than that: “The incident that told everyone ‘Maybe we should move’ was when a young kid down the street had a sinkhole collapse around him, and he was sucked down. His mother was watching him, turned around, and when she looked back, he was gone into the pit. This pit went 100 feet down, and looked like a cone if you looked down. He would have died if his arms weren’t stretched out. When they pulled him out, a huge plume of smoke came out, and you could just see the fire at the bottom of the hole.”

That boy, Todd Domboski, survived and presumably went on to write a bestselling book about his escape from the bowels of Hell. Other human-sized creatures in Centralia have not been as lucky.

We keep waiting for glowing eyes to appear.

“Every once in a while, you would come across a deer sticking out vertically with steam billowing out. They looked like they were crawling out. The poor deer had fallen into a sinkhole and had either starved to death or suffocated to death from the fumes. My friends would claim to see smoke coming out of its mouth, like it had been burnt alive, but it was just the way the smoke came out.”

This means the kids who grew up in Centralia before it was completely abandoned had to deal with death on a pretty regular basis. Becky told us about watching the violent death of a neighbor’s cat: “We were swinging in the backyard, and this patch of grass suddenly turned brown. Their cat was standing there, and it suddenly became brown. It didn’t make any noise, and we thought she had done something to make it all suddenly brown, like flipping a sheet over. But it was just another hole, and the cat went down. We didn’t say anything until we jumped off and went over to the fence to see that it was another sinkhole, and we called out to our neighbor, but after some light digging (NEVER go into a sinkhole by yourself), her cat was gone.”

Asphalt Films

Sinkholes even caused an entire stretch of highway to be rerouted after holes and gas buckled parts of it back in 1994. The state did its best to hide the old highway, but because of the dangers lurking beneath, they never got rid of it. And it’s still there, waiting for George Miller to make a much more colorful Mad Max sequel.


Life In A Ghost Town Is … Interesting

Underneath Centralia, the endless fire has created an environment as deadly as the surface of Saturn. While the gases aren’t lethal up above, they still play hell with the resident’s health. Poison gas has even built up in some citizens’ basements. Guy explained how that all simply became part of the weather in Centralia. “We always had the smoke, and my wife felt sick if she was near it. We stay away from it. It’s bad news. Only the tourists go into the damn thing.”

And Becky elaborated: “There was a lot of coughing. If you know what black lung is [this], it’s what the coughing sounded like. It’s this cough where you can hear the mucus. Worse than what smokers have. If you spent enough time near the smoke, you got a cough like that. And if you were a miner developing black lung, who smoked and spent time near the smoke, like my dad, then you knew when they were home, because you heard the worst cough in the world. If you went to a nearby store and you heard the cough, odds are they were from Centralia.”

This isn’t all in the past. Toxic gases still billow from burnt-out places, and that poses a major threat. Vents were built to pipe the steam away from town into areas of eminent domain where no one lives anymore.

Due to all the underground damage, many homes need additional supports (especially if the former houses next door were means of support for them), so they look like they have six or seven chimneys.

Becky points out that the fame of Centralia also means a lot of tourism. She lived there until her 20s, and while she was in grade school, her dying town became a Halloween vacation destination: “Everyone wanted to trick or treat near me. They didn’t care that they got less candy. They wanted to be scared. A few years some of that steam would rise, or it would be foggy. With all the abandoned houses, it was better than a haunted house. To them. Me, it was another day.”

Even outside of Halloween, tourists would come by just to take in the poisonous “atmosphere” in Centralia. “Whenever people visited from, say, Harrisburg or Lancaster, they would get scared easily. The ground would give out from under them and they’d fall in to their knees, and they’d go ‘Oh my God!’ I was so used to it that I said, ‘Sometimes it does that,’ and went on. This wasn’t unusual. My mom or dad would say not to go into the steam and to stay away from the ‘openings,’ and they always asked what that was. When they found out, they asked if they were going to die, and my dad, eloquent as ever, would say, ‘Oh, probably not.’ Not to be funny, but actually being serious about it.”


People Just … Didn’t Care About The Danger

People are remarkably good at ignoring imminent doom. For evidence of this, read absolutely any newspaper in the world today. It wasn’t until 1984, after several kids were sucked into sinkholes and the underground tanks at a local gas station nearly exploded, that the U.S. government ordered a total evacuation of the town. People still stayed behind, so in 1992, the governor put the entire town under eminent domain. In 2002, the state took their zip code away, and in 2009, the governor announced that all holdouts would be evacuated for their own good.

There are still seven people living in Centralia.

Jack explains why many of those residents ignored the government back then, even when it was doing something as reasonable as evacuating Toxic Firetown, USA. “We had meetings with scientists explaining what was happening. They were talking to miners, some of whom had degrees, so they didn’t have to go layman.” The denizens of Centralia understood coal and the mines, but they still weren’t able to accept that their hometown was now the abode of Satan himself. “The scientists, and even other miners, were telling them that the town could fall in piece by piece or get toxic gas, but they denied it, and said they’d continue to live here because they didn’t see it. These were after pits started opening up, but they STILL said no.”

Jack’s father, Guy, isn’t exactly on the same page. He’s one of the few that stayed behind. And he did it largely to spite those damned scientists and government officials who rolled into town to talk down to him and his neighbors. “They thought they knew more than us, but they were wrong. How come the town hasn’t collapsed like they said? It’s not as bad as they said, and you see that now.”

Jack and Guy’s disagreement is nothing new. Back when the evacuation efforts started, Centralia itself was bitterly divided over whether the fire was a threat or not. Becky remembers: “My parents stayed, because they didn’t think they could afford to move. But then they got an offer for double the value of their home, and they took it. My neighbor ([the one] who owned the cat), she stayed. She had seen the danger firsthand, and lost something she loved to it, but she wasn’t budging. The last time I was there, she was shouting from her porch at some men in suits who obviously wanted her house.”

In 2013, after a battle lasting over 20 years, the remaining ten residents were allowed to stay, but once they’re gone, their homes go to the public domain. Guy sums it neatly: “It’s my home. That’s all there is to it.”

Becky thinks that for some of those last remaining residents, staying in Centralia may be less about spite and more about living in a place so dangerous it’s effectively off the grid: “My old neighbor, until the day she died, would chase off journalists with a broom and hide sprinklers in her lawn to turn them on when people got near. I know before she died, she said she was ‘in talks’ to buy a cellphone jammer, which seems incredibly illegal, but this woman was also fine with threatening to spray bug spray at tourist’s dogs.”


The Government Is Trying to Erase Centralia

Jack pointed out that 20 years ago, while Centralia was emptying out, the town still looked more or less like it always had. But over the last two decades, the state government has been doing its damnedest to wipe the town away. “As soon as they bought houses, they tore them down and covered them with plants. Then they took out as much of the foundations as they could. Then they removed the lip in the curb. They don’t exist, and it looks like they never did.”

We took a picture of Becky’s old house:

“See that? You can kinda tell where a driveway was. But that’s it. No sign of the huge gate we had, or of the stairs, or anything.”

Jack continues: “They took away the name. One day, all the signs were gone. All the signs showing nearby towns had been replaced, with ‘Centralia’ [left] off. They even later covered up an arrow showing a way to get to another city through Centralia, so people passing through can’t get here.”

They removed Centralia’s name from the city municipal building:

The county records office is slowly removing the town from history, which has made life tough on Jack’s dad: “When my father went in to check his property lines, it took almost half a day to find a copy, because they had trashed so much of Centralia.”

The county has also cut back on basic services for the seven people who still live there. Says Jack: “My father doesn’t get mail. Officially, Centralia has no zip code, so nothing can be sent there. Everybody needs a PO box in another town, or need their family to collect it. All of my father’s mail is sent to me. He also stopped using checks. You can’t put Centralia down anymore, due to the zip code, and he didn’t want to ‘burden’ me with putting my address down as his. He went full cash and debit.”

Becky points out that the lack of a PO box has an even more disastrous consequence: It’s made pizza delivery much more difficult. “My parents, after they took away the zip code, couldn’t just give directions to people. If they didn’t know about Centralia, they needed to be specific. I overheard my parents say to pizza guys on the phone ‘Go to Aristes. Then head south on 42. Third little street you see, halfway turn right. We’re the only house on the street.'”


Tourists Are Destroying The Town

Centralia had 1,000 residents in 1980. It was down to 63 in 1990, and ten in 2010. The coal industry left after the whole, uh, giant apocalyptic coal fire thing. But even with all that, Centralia could’ve survived. There’s the tourism aspect, and the fact that it’s kind of an ideal filming location.

Unfortunately, tourism’s mostly benefited neighboring towns, since the state won’t issue new business permits in Centralia. The places selling souvenirs, gasoline, and lodgings are all outside Centralia’s old borders. Since the tourists don’t bring money into town, residents have come to hate them. Jack explained: “They’ll walk on lawns and property freely, thinking it’s abandoned. They’ll always be asking, ‘Why do you live here?’ They dump trash everywhere … The worst are the tourists who leave graffiti.”

Guy has some even more complaints: “They chipped at my house. For a souvenir, like they wanted a piece of the Lord’s cross. Chip chip chip, and they took a part of my stairs. Then they wrote ‘Let it burn’ on it. Why would they do that?”

So what can he do about it? Basically nothing. Jack explains that staying in Centralia means living beyond a lot of modern conveniences … like law enforcement. “We have no police anymore. [State and county] police come through town, of course, but for something routine, it’s not a big deal.”

The town has been beaten up so badly by these visitors that, according to Jack, Hollywood doesn’t really have any interest in filming there anymore. He told us about one time that several location scouts came through town (likely working on The Road), but decided they just couldn’t work there. “The movie people came here, looked around, decided it had too much graffiti, and shot on another abandoned highway out near Pittsburgh. Other Hollywood people talked to my father quickly (Centralia residents don’t like the press), and they liked the look, but they said ‘It might be too much graffiti,’ and since they never came back, it probably was.”

Unless Bansky was directing, then yeah.

Becky adds: “For the last five years or so, [tourists have] been way more destructive than the fire.”

Despite intermittent police crackdowns, trespassing has been on the upswing. A lot of that probably has to do with the fact that so many articles on the internet have spread the story of Centralia. So, uh, sorry about that?

Readers, trust us here: Don’t visit Centralia. And if you do, don’t draw on anything. And super duper don’t break pieces off of people’s houses. That’s just messed up. Residents have enough problems.

Evan V. Symon is a journalist and interviewer for Cracked, who was on location in Centralia and didn’t die. Have an awesome job/experience you’d like to see here? Hit us up at tips@cracked.com today!

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Read more: http://www.cracked.com/personal-experiences-2537-i-live-in-centralia-pa-its-americas-creepiest-ghost-town.html

Quick Ways To Recover From The Horror Story That Was Your Halloween Weekend

Oh boy, Halloweekend is over, and you’re probably too scared to even look in the mirror at the moment, let alone show up at work. Whether you’re currently regretting all the Fireball shots you chased with mini Kit Kats, your hookup with some tool in a Donald Trump costume, or your brilliant idea to debut your entire shit-show of a night on your Snapchat story, you’ve put your body through a lot, and you’re struggling with the pain of Monday morning sobriety. You’ve had your fun and eaten your fair share of candy, but now it’s time to get your shit together. Here’s how to recover your body from its current state of Halloween horror.

1. Drink Water

Fucking duh. Water is the universally accepted hangover cure, and as such, it does wonders for your headaches, dehydration, and any post-drinking digestion issues. If you’ve been getting your fluids from sketchy punch and vodka sodas all weekend, your body is in desperate need of water, so start chugging. Water has been proven to cure hangovers since ancient times (I assume), and if you forgot to drink some before going to bed, it’s not too late to start now. If you’re an overachiever, add some lemon and ginger to help soothe your stomach and get your metabolism moving again. If it keeps Kourtney Kardashian skinny after three births, chances are it’ll help you out after this weekend.

2. Throw Out The Candy

If you woke up this morning with candy corn in your bed, you’ve overdone it on the Halloween candy, and it’s not the time to store the extras in your desk drawer or buy fun sized Twix bars on sale at CVS. There’s a reason adults don’t go trick-or-treating, and it’s not because we have better things to do. Well, it sort of is, but it’s MOSTLY because we don’t have the metabolism we had at age eight. Sorry. Just get rid of your candy so you won’t be tempted to eat it all week. You can even offer it to your neighbor as a peace treaty for all the times they’ve told you to keep the noise down. Works like a charm.

3. Get Some Sleep

This tip seems pretty obvious, but for some reason people think their bodies won’t mind if they run on less than five hours of sleep for like, two weeks straight. If you got no sleep this weekend, you owe it to your body to put down the Red Bull (yes, and the Adderall) and rest up, even if that means calling in for a sick day, or worse—cancelling happy hour plans. When your body is deprived of sleep, not only are you lacking energy, but your brain tries to compensate by telling you you’re hungry, so you end up craving junk food and chocolate all day. Oh, and coffee doesn’t count. Get some sleep.

4. Eat Omega-3’s

We don’t usually believe in the power of superfoods or magical ingredients, but omega-3’s are the shit. End of story. A lot of people take omega-3 supplements to help with weight loss and skin care, but you can get enough of them just by eating the right foods. Things like salmon, walnuts, and flax seeds are all packed with omega-3’s, and you’ll notice a difference within a few days of eating them. Omega-3’s help fight inflammation, protect your body from viruses, and even help prevent breakouts. If you’re feeling gross from your weekend drinking bender, stop Googling SkinnyTeas and start making some salmon. You’ll thank us.

5. Limit Dairy Intake

As much as we love our daily Sweetgreen salad with extra feta, try to eliminate dairy from your diet as much as you can, at least for the next few days. If you tend to feel bloated from drinking and your skin is prone to breakouts, eating a lot of dairy will only make those symptoms worse. To make your body feel and look better after this weekend, cut out the dairy, and try to stick to whole grains, lean protein sources, and healthy fats (see: the salmon argument). You might not be straight-up lactose intolerant, but most people have trouble digesting dairy like other foods, so you might as well make things easier on your body right now and just avoid.

6. Sweat That Shit Out

And finally, the advice that no one wants to hear, but seems pretty inevitable. If you feel like shit after one too many tequila shots, you can chug a Poland Spring bottle and eat a slice of whole grain toast, but there’s nothing better for your body than breaking a sweat. You might feel nauseous and slightly suicidal, but take an Advil, put on your sports bra, and suck it up. (Words I live by tbh.) Book a bike, go on a run, sign up for yoga—we don’t care. Just do a workout that will allow your body to sweat out the toxins it’s accumulated over the weekend. It’ll probably suck and you’ll want to cry or vomit (or both), but you’ll end up feeling and looking so much better. Obviously not right away, but like, maybe after a shower. 


Read more: http://www.betches.com/how-to-recover-from-halloween-weekend

The 7 Psychotic Things Your Favorite Celebs Do To Stay Healthy

Look, I’ve tried a lot of bizarre diets and weird beauty hacks in my day. From Paleo, to Atkins, to low-carb to high-carb to Keto to vegan to juicing to brothing to counting calories and exercising, I’ve done it all, and most betches can say the same. Can you blame us? We’re bored and practically willing to do anything to avoid regular exercise and a well-balanced diet. With that being said, there are certain lines we just won’t cross. Like, sometimes you just know that a certain ingredient doesn’t belong in your body or on your skin, and there are no further questions, no matter how many times Jennifer Aniston endorsed it. Celebrities are obviously insane, and some of them go to v dramatic lengths to stay healthy. Here’s some of the craziest shit they do.

1. Kate Upton Takes Wheatgrass Shots In her Eyeballs

This news just came out, and it’s honestly what prompted me to do more research on these weird celebrity health habits. Why the fuck would anyone put wheatgrass shots in their eyes, you may be wondering? Apparently it’s supposed to hydrate your eyes, and Kate swears by it. “I wear contacts, and the wheatgrass really works,” she said in an interview. “It basically hydrates your eyeballs. It’s like flushing out your eye.”

2. Miley Cyrus Spreads Avocado On Her Face

A couple years ago, Miley posted a pic on Instagram with the caption, “The avocado obsesh is mad real.” I mean, we obviously agree with that statement (cue my 500 avocado toast orders), but like, not on our faces. The picture shows the avocado spread all over her face like guac, and it literally has chunks in it. I’m gonna vom. I really don’t care if it makes your skin smooth or clear or whatever, it’s gross. Can we stick with a mud mask next time?

3. Reese Witherspoon Eats 10 Jars Of Baby Food Everyday

I’m literally trying not to gag while thinking about this diet. Baby food is meant for babies, just like dog food is meant for dogs (although I wouldn’t be surprised if that were a new weight loss trend at this point.) I mean, relatively speaking, I guess this isn’t the most inedible diet ever, but baby food is just mushed up fruits and veggies, so why don’t you just eat fruits and vegetables instead? Or like, a smoothie? Reese, you make no sense to me.

4. Gwyneth Paltrow Sprays Silver On Her Airplane Seat

No, you didn’t read that wrong. Queen of wellness and Goop guru Gwyneth sprays her airplane seat with literal silver before a flight. Apparently this spray is sold by naturopathic medicine brands, and it’s made with potassium, distilled water, and actual silver. People say it fights off bacteria and viruses. IDK. Let’s keep in mind this is done by the woman who gets her vagina steamed, so you do you, Gwyneth.

5. Kourtney Kardashian Drinks Avocado & Sugar For Breakfast

We’ve already talked about the health benefits of Kourtney Kardashian’s daily lemon water, but I think it’s time to talk about what the fuck this girl actually eats for breakfast, because it’s alarming. Kourtney literally blends an avocado with sugar and drinks it as a smoothie, and like, sometimes eats with a spoon. Is this healthy? Is it good? Is anyone else getting hazing PTSD from the concoctions you had to drink as a pledge? So many questions, and I’d like some answers.

6. Madonna Bathes In Basil

This situation actually sounds kind of relaxing, but it’s also super weird. Madonna reportedly takes a basil bath on the reg, which literally consists of a bathtub filled with herbs. Basil is supposed to be an anti-inflammatory agent, so it can help combat stress and muscle pain and apparently make you look amazing. I mean, this sounds time-consuming and annoying, but if this is why Madonna looks so good at age 60, I can get down with a basil bath every now and then. But like, does the basil get stuck in the drain at the end? I need to know.

7. January Jones Eats Her Own Placenta

Um, was this cleared by a doctor?! January Jones once told reporters that she eats her own placenta in capsule form everyday. She claims “your placenta gets dehydrated and made into vitamins,” which is still not a reason to eat it, if you ask me. She says she recommends it to all moms, but whether or not anyone wants to take her new mommy tip is questionable. I’m really not over this. Your own placenta?! Really? I can’t. Whatever, I’m getting cheese fries.

Read more: http://www.betches.com/psychotic-things-kourtney-kardashian-reese-witherspoon-and-other-celebs-do-to-stay-healthy

5 Ways Dry Shampoo Is Sabotaging Your Hair

I would try to beat around the bush with this one, but given what the headline is, there’s really no dodging it. I’m about to ruin your day, your week, your month, and even your year. On the bright side, this isn’t another article about Trump’s latest fuckups controversial tweet. Instead, it’s about the godawful ways dry shampoo is a scum-sucking road whore. It basically ruins your hair’s life, aka your life as well, each time you use it. I love dry shampoo as much as you, and in fact, I love my dry shampoo’d hair more than what my hair looks like out of the shower. I think we can agree that the volume, bounce, and texture dry shampoo provides is incomparable, not to mention the fact that it allows our lazy asses to skip a long and tedious hair wash routine. However, since nothing ever, ever, *ever* works in our favor, it turns out this shit is bad for you. I know, like, wtf did we do to deserve this? You don’t have to toss out your Batiste or Not Your Mother’s just yet, but I would think twice before using three days in a row.

1. It Could Cause Hair Loss

I don’t think any of us ever questioned just exactly what causes our hair to look so fab after using dry shampoo. As long as we woke up breathing with hair on our heads, it’s fine. But, dry shampoo is actually made of chemicals that aren’t really all that great for our hair. Whether you use it excessively or encounter it for the first time, you could basically develop dermatitis after use. You fucking guessed it—anything that ends with “itis” is a bigger red flag than a “U up?” text. This is a severe allergic reaction that causes intense irritation, which may result in drastic hair loss in the long-term. You’re not, like, guaranteed to lose all your hair if you abuse dry shampoo, but if your hair is already on the thinner side, be wary.

2. It Can Contribute To Breakouts

If you really think about it, dry shampoo is just a spray we leave on all day and don’t think about. Naturally. Since it’s just a product sitting on our scalp for hours on end, it’s seriously clogging up our pores. Just fuck me up, honestly. It continues to build up oils, dirt, and bacteria, which then = scalpne (scalp + acne), and since this is your head we’re talking about, the build-up can trail down to your upper forehead where it may wreak havoc as well. *Screams internally*

3. It Might Irritate Your Scalp

Before the damage gets to your hair, it starts with your scalp. Since dry shampoo comes into contact with the scalp first, it can cause a v uncomfortable irritation. Overusing dry shampoo by leaving it on for more than a day or using multiple times in a row causes a buildup of grime—even after washing! This leads to a super inflamed, itchy, and flaky scalp. Talk about gross, and talk about hella dandruff. Pass.

4. It May Stunt Your Hair Growth Fo’ Life

As we’ve already covered, dry shampoo is essentially a temporary plug for oiliness. As a result, I’ve already told you like, a million times, that the constant use and buildup of oil and grime leads to clogged up pores. When this happens too often, your hair follicles are basically suffocating and blocked from growing any further. If it gets too severe, your hair will not only begin to thin or fall out, but it will eventually stunt your hair’s growth, and you’ll probs look like a British man. IDK maybe that’s just a theory, but either way, that’s the shit we don’t like.

5. It Actually Makes Your Hair Greasier

Contrary to popular belief, if used too often, dry shampoo can actually make your hair way more greasy than it was to begin with. Although it’s supposed to absorb the oil, it continues to absorb the natural kind that our hair actually *needs* and does so while sitting on top of existing grease. After some time, your hair ends up producing more oil than it naturally does to make up for the lack of moisture. End result? Looking like a greaseball more often than not.


Read more: http://www.betches.com/5-ways-dry-shampoo-is-sabotaging-your-hair

6 Popular Exercises That Are A Total Waste Of Time

Okay, let’s make one thing clear. One third of Americans are obese and more than two thirds have never even heard of SoulCycle. Basically, if you’re exercising, you’re already doing something right. Getting to the gym is actually the hardest thing in the world, and so even if you’re literally walking on a broken treadmill, you can congratulate yourself on beating the odds. With that being said, there is so much bullshit information out there, whether you’re getting ideas from online workout plans or health magazines with Khloe Kardashian on the cover. If you’re in the gym for like, 30 minutes, you want to maximize the amount of time you’re there, so you should know if your go-to workout moves are wasting your time. Here are six popular exercises that you should skip:

1. Crunches

This is probably a shock, but it’s true- your 100 bodyweight crunches are totally wasting your time. There are so many good ab workouts you can be doing, and crunches are probably the worst. First of all, when you do a crunch, you’re lifting your shoulders off the ground and flexing the top part of your abdomen, without getting your obliques or bottom parts of your abs involved. This could create a muscle imbalance and even cause you to hurt your back in the long run. Doing moves like planks or leg raises, where your whole core is engaged, will give you more bang for your buck because you’ll be using your entire core in every movement, not just the top half.

2. Donkey Kicks

There’s nothing necessarily bad about donkey kicks,but if you’re short on time, this isn’t the best move you should be doing. Donkey kicks are supposed to tone your butt while getting your heart rate up, but there are better moves that do these two things more effectively. Exercises like squat jumps and jumping lunges, for example, work your legs while burning calories, and they’re much more effective than donkey kicks. I mean, there’s a reason you can do like, 80 donkey kicks but only 12 squat jumps. They’re harder but they’re so much better for your body.

3. Fast Bicycle Crunches

The bicycle crunch is an amazing ab burner, but a lot of fitness classes and online workouts tell you to do them fast, and you just end up screwing up your form and missing the point of the exercise. The idea behind the bicycle crunch is to twist your entire torso to one side, eventually touching your elbow to your opposite knee while engaging your obliques. By doing them fast, you completely skip the core engagement and you end up just kicking your legs around. Slow these down or skip them completely so you can stop kidding yourself.

4. Butt Kicks

Butt kicks are similar to donkey kicks. There’s nothing wrong with them, but there are so many moves that hit the same muscle groups in a stronger way. By kicking your heels toward your butt, you’re technically getting a lower body cardio workout, but there are several moves that are even stronger cardio, and get your whole body involved in the movement. For example, squat thrusts and burpees are both movements where you’ll burn calories while toning the upper and lower parts of your body. Don’t believe me? Try doing 30 seconds of butt kicks and then 30 seconds of burpees and tell me which one felt like a better workout.

5. Elliptical Machine

The elliptical is honestly so fucking sad, and the fact that so many girls just go to the gym to prance around on that machine is pathetic. But then again, they probably don’t know better so we’re not gonna call them out. The elliptical is basically an easier version of other cardio equipment at the gym. People like it because it’s easier on your knees than the treadmill, but if you’re really trying to burn calories in a short amount of time, there are so many other machines that are so much more useful. For example, the rowing machine and the Stairmaster probably burn like, twice as many calories as the elliptical does, and they activate more muscles in your body. It might seem scary to try out machines you’re not used to, but if you can get a better workout in a shorter amount of time, it’s worth it. Step away from the elliptical.

6. Tuck Jumps

Tuck jumps are included in a lot of HIIT workouts because they blast calories super fast and make you like, really exhausted after only a few jumps. While we’re not arguing against tuck jumps being an effective workout, they’re super tough on your joints, so you could end up with a major knee injury. I mean, think about it. The idea behind the move is to jump your knees up to chest height and then hit your feet down on the floor. It’s just a lot of pressure on your knees and it’s not worth the joint pain you’ll end up dealing with. Try doing other HIIT moves like skaters, burpees, or mountain climbers. They’re just as effective and they’re so much easier on your joints. Like, no workout is worth legit hurting yourself. Being too sore to sit down the next day is bad enough. 


Read more: http://www.betches.com/popular-exercises-that-are-a-waste-of-time

We Need More Deaths In Marvel Movies (No, Seriously)

Death is a minor annoyance in any superhero universe. Guys like Nick Fury and Jim Gordon get emotional sendoffs and then come back in the same fucking movie. The heroic “death” of Agent Coulson was supposed to be the entire reason the Avengers came together, then he got a whole spinoff TV show of his own. (The Avengers are apparently so bitter about this deception that they now refuse to even speak his name.) And those are side characters — who was fooled for even the two minutes we were supposed to think Bruce Wayne was dead at the end of Dark Knight Rises? Or that Superman’s supposed death in Dawn Of Justice would last through the prologue of the next movie?

Look, we get it. Even though real stakes are kind of important in storytelling, no child wants to buy an action figure set featuring Bruce Wayne joining his parents in Hell. But we’ve reached a point where screenwriters don’t even try to pretend these characters are mortal, and the characters themselves seem to know it. That’s how you end up with movies like Captian America: Civil War, wherein various elite marksmen, genetically enhanced super-soldiers, and a scarlet witch settle their differences with the most casual and glib battle in the history of violence. A bunch of children playing out that scene on a playground would feel it more.

It really does come off like Peter Parker knows he is safe not because he possesses the natural hand-to-hand combat abilities of an average spider, but because he knows there are action figures to sell. As for a character like the Hulk, the films make it clear he couldn’t die even if he wanted to (as in he seriously wanted to, but couldn’t). But …

Let’s Talk About The Time They Killed Hulk And He Fucking Stayed Dead

This, naturally, takes us to the 1977-1982 Incredible Hulk TV series. Before they could watch him star in big-budget movies every other year, this was how Hulk fans had to get their fix. Every episode saw David/Bruce Banner solve crimes, save lives, and inevitably turn into a rampaging rage monster, all while trudging toward finally getting his Hulkamania under control and clearing his name of murder. Fans connected with Banner’s plight throughout the years, and hoped that he’d one day find a cure so he could enjoy a normal life, or at least stop having to replace his shirt every day. (Fun fact: The network changed his name from Bruce to David because Bruce used to be thought of as a stereotypically “gay” name, and they couldn’t have that. We’ve come a long way, folks.)

All hopes for some kind of happy resolution for the beloved character were literally crushed in a 1990 TV movie called The Death Of The Incredible Hulk, a title that seems like it would have sucked most of the drama out of the proceedings. The movie climaxes with the Hulk pursuing some bad guys onto their plane, which eventually explodes and sends him hurtling down to Earth.

NBCUniversal Television Distribution

NBCUniversal Television Distribution

NBCUniversal Television Distribution

To the modern Hulk, that would be the equivalent of stubbing his toe on an inflatable mattress …

… but back then, it was enough to do him in. Banner dies and the creators dodge a false advertising lawsuit.

It was a brave choice … and one they didn’t truly make. There were plans for another TV movie, The Revenge Of The Incredible Hulk, which would have brought Banner back to life, presumably with all of the cleverness of a lie from a guilty toddler. But it never happened, because of Death getting poor ratings and/or the declining health and eventual actual death of star Bill Bixby, depending on who you ask. Whatever the reason, Death was the end of the franchise, and TV Hulk became one of the very few superheroes to die and stay dead forever. All it took for them to make this courageous creative choice was the audience leaving and the star dying.

And Guess What? The Ending Works Perfectly.

The TV movie portrays David “My Name Means I Love Titties” Banner as tired, jaded, and sick of living on the run. When he dies, he tells the love interest who gave him a brief taste of normalcy that he feels free. He’s a superhero who made the ultimate sacrifice to save the day, who did good things under terrible circumstances, and whose only reward is the satisfaction of having done it. It’s the heroic sacrifice story arc that superhero movies never have the guts follow through on. Instead we get the tearjerker goodbye from Bruce Wayne, even though he knows he’s going to eject before the bomb explodes and then go live in luxury with Catwoman while still getting remembered as a heroic Christ figure back home. What an asshole!

Likewise, TV Hulk’s entire character arc would have been completely ruined by a shitty sequel in which he was brought back to life by a magical space jewel or whatever. You know, like the one the producers wanted to make when they thought there was still some profit to squeeze out of the brand. After all, Agent Coulson didn’t come back to life for story reasons; Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. just needed a recognizable lead.

The first Captain America killed off Cap’s pal Bucky to drive home the cost of war …

… only for Winter Soldier to resurrect him as a villain …

… so Civil War could turn him into a hero, because getting killed in World War II is a temporary inconvenience in the Marvel universe, like getting stuck in the DMV for an afternoon. Over on Netflix, the same thing that happened to Bucky is happening to Electra. Daredevil killed her so The Defenders could revive her as a villain so a future series can presumably turn her into a hero. And Groot’s sacrifice in Guardians Of The Galaxy

… was rendered moot by the immediate appearance of Baby Groot, a miraculous postmortem birth granted by the sheer power of the merchandising opportunity.

The Deaths Will Come — But For Reasons Having Nothing To Do With Story

At some point, Tony Stark will die in an Avengers movie. This will happen not because we’ve reached the natural point in that story arc at which the selfish jerk has to make the ultimate sacrifice (we reached that in Civil War, which was like … six movies ago?), but because Robert Downey Jr. will decide he doesn’t want to do it anymore. We don’t know when that will be, considering he got paid $15 million for eight minutes of screen time in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and his Iron Man scenes are basically him hanging out in a studio with a camera pressed up to his face to simulate the view from inside the suit. If Samuel L.Jackson is still playing Nick “My Death Would Have Raised The HYDRA Stakes If Only It Had Been Real” Fury at age 68, who knows how long he can stretch this out?

So until that day comes, let’s salute the series that did death right — even if that wasn’t the plan.

There are no sad endings on Markos’ Twitter, just cool facts.

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Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_25011_we-need-more-deaths-in-marvel-movies-no-seriously.html

5 Ways To Make Pop Culture Nostalgia Not Totally Suck

We’ve come a long way, folks. Nostalgia, once considered a serious mental disease, is now a Facebook marketing strategy used to sell T-shirts of leather-vested juice bowls saying “Punch it, Chewie!” For better or for worse, entertainment’s main source of fuel is the perpetual churning out of previously successful properties, making Star Wars movies and TV show revivals as common as dental checkups.

But not all pop culture nostalgia is a dumb money grab. Like swords and bear traps, it’s how you wield it that truly matters. So why do some attempts work while others fall painfully flat? Well, let’s look at the recent Goofus and Gallants of TV and film to find out. Hey, you remember Goofus and Gallant? What about Highlights? Do kids still read Highlights?


An Old Property Needs A Reason To Come Back (Besides Money)

I wasn’t thrilled when I found out that they were making a new season of The X-Files. It seemed gratuitous and nonsensical to watch a TV show from 14 years ago lurch back to life like a greedy Frankenstein. This was especially upsetting because, while fun and charming in the ’90s, rampant conspiracy theories are less escapist in our post-9/11 internet world of brave Truthers. The Agent Mulder of today is that same asshole getting booted from a memorial Facebook page for “just asking questions.”

But here’s the thing: To my surprise, the new season of X-Files was well aware of this fact. And instead of trying to copy its ’90s glory, the revival addressed my concerns head-on, with Alex-Jones-type characters and Mulder being confounded by smartphones. It wasn’t perfect, but reviving the show started making sense to me while I watched it. Mulder didn’t really fit into the internet age, and that was exactly the point. And audiences agreed, as the new season set record ratings which sometimes surpassed those of the original series. Fans were pleased, and David Duchovny got a much-needed safety net for his folk rock career. Everybody kind of won.

I’m not saying that Fox wasn’t motivated by money, or that they wouldn’t have brought the series back had it not made sense, but the revival did make an important decision to justify its existence beyond “Hey you loved this show once, right?” And it is important, because we’ve seen what happens when someone drags a show out of the ’90s for no good reason beyond fond memories …

The ratings for Fuller House dropped 62 percent in its second season. Why? Because audiences realized that it had nothing new to say. All the characters and storylines were in the exact same place we left them. Danny was still on his “Wake Up” news show, Joey was still lugging a terrifying woodchuck puppet, Kimmy was still the annoying comic relief. It was as if they had all been suspended in ice over the decades. So what’s the point? What dire financial situation could the actors have been in to justify such a ghoulish act?

If we’re going to drag everything we loved from our childhoods out of retirement, it’s super crucial for the writers and directors to figure out a good reason to do so. Indiana Jones, for example, was a hotshot punch-fessor revealed to be at odds with his crotchety father. It makes poetic sense that when we brought him back, he would have a son with the same irksome qualities that he once did. Spielberg was even clever enough to include mirroring motorcycle chases which end with a father appalled by his son’s actions.


“I’m just appalled by everyone now, actually.” — Harrison Ford

There’s a lot wrong with that last film, but it amazingly didn’t feel unjustified in its return. But hey, maybe you’re not bringing back a whole TV show or film franchise. Maybe you only want to punch up your terrible movie with some killer ’80s and ’90s references. Well, about that …


Pop Culture References Need To Make Sense Within The Plot Of The Story

The first thing we learn about Peter Quill is that he was a child of the ’80s and loves his Walkman. It’s literally the first shot of Guardians Of The Galaxy, and it sets up the entire tone of the film. Every song, every ironic or hilarious or meaningful track, has a reason to be there because the film establishes right away that they’re all connected to the character. This is amplified in the sequel, in which the song “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” becomes interwoven with the plot, and according to the songwriter himself, it managed to breathe new life into this random ’70s hit. That’s deeply motivated nostalgia brought on by great fucking writing. I’m making one of those chef-kissing-hand gestures as I write this sentence. That’s how great it is.

It’s not exclusively required to justify an already-quirky film’s idiosyncratic soundtrack (see Tarantino, Quentin), but it’s quite nice when it happens. Another recent example is Baby Driver, which as far as I can tell always has an in-scene reason that a song is playing (thanks to the main character always wearing headphones).

What isn’t fun or acceptable, however, is when a film shoehorns in a bunch of songs that are in no way motivated by or appropriate for the story. You know, like this:

Yeah, we got it, Suicide Squad. People enjoy old music. While nothing in the drab story and tone called for it, this film managed to cram in songs by Queen, the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Animals, the White Stripes, and many more. The reason was crystal clear, as during post-production, Warner Brothers became worried that the movie wouldn’t hold up to their ads and fucking hired the trailer company to work on the final cut. Meaning that the desperately pandering soundtrack was crammed in at the last second in an attempt to make it more appealing. The result was the cinematic equivalent of painting Garfield on the side of a murder van. It’s like blasting Oingo Boingo over a screening of Monster’s Ball. It’s like putting a clown nose on a dead dog.

It all comes down to having a clear motivation. A film like The Lego Movie delighted us because the story about creativity and individuality fit perfectly with the childhood toy brick format … whereas The Emoji Movie was the transparent conjuring of studio executives screaming “Please like us and give us money!”

We crave authenticity and respect for the nostalgia being thrown at us. And this is why …


Audiences Can Tell When The Filmmakers Didn’t Grow Up With The Source Material

If you’re not aware, the upcoming Spielberg film Ready Player One is based off a book jam-packed with ’80s pop culture references — many of them about movies that The Berger himself directed and/or produced. When asked how he plans to handle this in the adaptation, Spielly revealed that he was planning to cut all of the nods to his own films because he felt it was “too self-referential.”

Hey, here’s a question: Why not just … not make the movie, then? Like, if a director has to cut elements of a story because he doesn’t feel personally comfortable making it, shouldn’t another director do it instead?

Warner Bros. Pictures
Seriously. You put droids next to the Ark of the Covenant, but won’t stick E.T. next to Duke Nukem?

Look, I love Steven Spielberg like all my dead pets’ ghosts combined, but if you’re making a movie about ’80s nostalgia, shouldn’t you get someone who actually experienced and cherished that emotional connection? And if you don’t think it matters, consider the fact that it absolutely matters.

Besides being garbage, one of the key faults of Pixels was that it’s a movie about video games aimed at teenagers which only included games people in their 40s used to play. It’s fundamentally out of touch in its premise, and was dead in the water before it even cast Adam Sandler. The new Ghostbusters had a similar problem. While I’m sure he loves the originals like we all did, director Paul Feig first saw those films in his 20s. He didn’t grow up watching The Real Ghostbusters whilst eating The Real Ghostbusters cereal. For him, Ecto Cooler wasn’t a childhood reward so much as a terrible booze mixer. That obviously doesn’t disqualify him, but it certainly doesn’t help when the goal is to reach a younger generation who carry an insane amount of reverence toward the original films (despite how garbage Bill Murray thinks the sequel was).

It seems oddly basic to say, but when a film or TV show is rebooting something (as opposed to making a straight-up sequel) and aiming at the people who loved the original, you really need to get someone who understands that love. If you need examples of this going right, look no further than two recent video games: Alien Isolation and Friday The 13th: The Game. The latter of which might be the greatest movie-to-game adaptation ever.

I’m dead serious. Despite being glitchier than a drunk Neo, the Friday The 13th game is the best goddamn game version of a horror movie I’ve ever played. It’s a motherfucking national treasure. And it was made (along with Isolation) by young developers and writers who consulted the original creators and set out to recapture what brought them to the franchise in the first place. They cherished everything, down to the little details of the characters and environments. In fact, the Friday The 13th developers were so diehard that they secured the license to the series merely by having an impassioned conversation with the original film’s director.

That’s what love is, you guys, and it pays off. Why do you think Stranger Things is one of the best examples of nostalgia done right? Because the creators set out to pay tribute the era in which they grew up and loved. But obviously, that’s not the only reason Stranger Things is so wonderful …


Don’t Only Reference Old Pop Culture — Steal From It

Okay, let’s talk about Stranger Things. I know you want to. Season two is nearly out, and the trailer has been a glorious flood of 1984 pop culture invading your every orifice like a psychomagnotheric slime river. So what has made Stranger Things such a great piece of ’80s nostalgia? Well, ironically, it has nothing to do with the era in which it takes place.

No, really. Had Stranger Things been made exactly the same, but took place in 2016, it would still fill your brain with kid memories of watching John Carpenter and Stephen King films in your friend’s rec room (because his dad knew how to keep his drunk-ass mouth shut about it). Because it’s not about what year is being portrayed, but how they are portraying it.

It’s not the references that are invoking your heartache for cool ’80s dad whisky-breath, but the way Stranger Things pays homage to the styles of those movies. The Duffer Brothers are copying the cinematography, character types, and settings from the storytelling techniques of the ’80s … down to the title font (which was created without CGI, I might add).

It’s the gore you loved in The Thing mixed with the childhood romp from Stand By Me meeting and harboring a supernatural creature like E.T. peppered with an alcoholic sheriff straight out of Jaws. It’s the dark lighting from Alien mixed with Spielberg’s downplayed oners and the music of John Carpenter. It has nothing to do with the era it takes place in, but rather the era it’s mimicking. Don’t believe me? Check out its modern-set example:

From rotary phones to bizarre seashell computers, It Follows goes out of its way to take place in no specific year. And yet if feels distinctly ’80s because of its use of nostalgic synth music, Evil Dead-style 360 shots, and hilarious slasher movie logic. It invokes a specific decade by imitating the filmmaking as opposed to cramming in specific references. When ramped up to a million, this is of course the directing style of Quentin Tarantino, whose films are essentially collages of shots and music from a blender of old films. When done with the restraint and focus of Stranger Things, it can be extremely powerful. And it’s the antithesis of Ready Player One‘s “cram as many ’80s and ’90s characters you can” approach, which the internet seems not too fond of.

If you’re thinking to yourself, “Well isn’t just copying older films wildly uncreative?” then you probably don’t realize that this is how it’s always been done


At Some Point, You Need To Stop Referencing Nostalgia And Become It

Think of nostalgia like training wheels on a bike. It’ll get you around for a few years, but there comes a point where everyone starts laughing at you for still using them, and you’ll be forced to walk to high school and it’ll rain that morning and you’ll fall in a puddle and everyone will think you shat yourself so you hide behind the Subway and the manager comes out and tries to cheer you up but he turns out to be really abrasive and then you have to go to the next town’s Subway to avoid him but it’s a long way to walk and you don’t want to risk it with the training wheels.

Point is, if any filmmaker seemingly “milking” nostalgia pisses you off, keep in mind that it’s how every great creator started. Do you think Stranger Things and Fringe ripped off The X-Files? Well, The X-Files ripped off The Twilight Zone. And The Twilight Zone ripped off a bunch of radio shows.

Do you love Indiana Jones and Star Wars? Well, those films were made to imitate James Bond, old movie serials, Flash Gordon, and Westerns. But none of this work can ride too long on nostalgia alone; at some point, there also has to be an original and compelling story. Anyone can charm audiences with Guardians Of The Galaxy‘s delightful retro soundtrack and Han Solo spunk … but it takes a really good director to make Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 just as great by continuing to build the characters and world from the first. Anyone can make a TV show that takes place in the ’80s, but it takes real talent to make you crave the next installment.

That’s why James Gunn and those Duffer boys will likely be the Spielbergs and Lucases of tomorrow. And 30 years from now, some new sexy young storytellers will mimic their work and invoke nostalgia for 2017 … which will be extra impressive since we’ll all be living in aquatic marauder huts and drinking recycled urine at that point. Not because of climate change; we’ll just really be into Waterworld by 2047. That movie is a slow but powerful burn. Just you wait and see.

Talk to David about Waterworld (and ONLY Waterworld) on Twitter.

Is there such a thing as truly good nostalgia? YOU TELL US.

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NFL Protests Aren’t Responsible For Papa John’s Bad Sales

If your business can be crippled by black people protesting injustice, you probably aren’t running a great business. Still, that’s what the owner of Papa John’s is claiming since sales of his decidedly meh pizza have fallen.

I somehow doubt the titular John of Papa John’s understands, or even cares to look into, the reasons NFL ratings are in a slump. He’s far too busy telling his employees he’d rather cut their hours than pay for their health insurance. For a guy who made his fortune selling pizzas that are a half-step above Digiorno-quality, whose only brilliant innovation was adding a plastic cup of garlic sauce in the box with every pie, he may not be the brightest fella.

A cursory Google search brings up a ton of articles digging into the numbers behind the NFL’s ratings decline — which, by the way, isn’t much of a decline compared to the rest of the television landscape. Network TV ratings have been steadily falling for some time, and football games are getting caught in the net. One of the overarching factors include a whole new generation of fans who don’t watch TV the way past generations used to.

Even Fox chief executive officer James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch, thinks that the ratings decline nothing to do with player protests. He believes there is an “over proliferation” of football, meaning there are so many games and so many places to watch them that the NFL overstretch itself as a brand, since modern technology has spread viewing habits across dozens of platforms instead of just the one TV in everybody’s living room.

You can watch highlights on your phone as a game unfolds, or just watch all the scoring plays on a service like NFL Red Zone so you don’t have to sit through a three-hour broadcast of over 100 commercials with only 11 minutes of actual gameplay wedged in between. Like every other part of the broadcast industry, numbers are down because people don’t feel beholden to the old ways of doing things.

Blaming protesters for declining ratings that result in fewer people eating your uninspired pizza is intellectually lazy and morally stupid. Besides, if all it took for diehard football fans to stop watching games and eating pizza was black people protesting police brutality, then maybe they didn’t like pizza, football, or black people that much to begin with.

For more, check out What Stupid Conspiracy Theory Is Out There Now? (10/28/2017) and What Stupid Thing Is Trending Now? (10/28/2017).

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5 Ways The War On Drugs Has Always Been Racist As Hell

Sometimes drugs can ruin lives, and sometimes they’re simply a fun Friday night. It’s a complicated subject, and we’re not going to take a side. We will, however, point out that a lot of so-called anti-drug efforts which authorities have put together over the years have mostly been excuses to harass minorities. We’re talking about how …


White Employers Got Black Employees To Use Cocaine, Then Panicked About It

Cocaine used to be just another food additive which could be found in everything from children’s pain medication to pop. You’d think its 1914 ban would’ve come down to “Holy shit, we’re putting cocaine in everything, what the hell were we thinking? It must have been all the … oh.” But while people were aware of the dangers of cocaine abuse among middle- and upper-class white Americans, that’s not why it was banned. Instead, lawmakers were driven by the early 20th century equivalent of a racist chain email from your grandpa. There were stories of black Americans supposedly abusing cocaine, gaining superhuman strength, and using that strength to attack white men and sexually assault white women.

Wiki Commons
Using up precious cocaine earmarked for white children.

If you’re wondering what happened to the “black people gain drug-based superpowers and use them to commit crime” chapter of your history book, then obvious spoiler alert: It wasn’t really happening. What was happening was that cocaine use among black laborers was widespread. Its recreational use was tolerated, and sometimes white employers were explicitly giving it to their workers, in both cases because they believed it would make the employees work harder. We, uh … we used to be pretty dumb when it came to drugs.

Somehow, the “let’s give our workers coke” strategy backfired, as ridiculous stories began to spread. In 1914, The New York Times ran an article claiming that “most of the attacks upon white women of the South are the direct result of the ‘cocaine-crazed’ Negro brain” and “Negro cocaine fiends are now a known Southern menace.” While “Negro Cocaine Fiends” would be a great ironic album title, there was, shockingly, no evidence of crazed black people running wild.

While widespread use of cocaine probably wasn’t great for anyone’s disposition, “news” reports claimed that cocaine made black men hallucinate taunts and abuse, as well as gain incredible accuracy with guns and immunity to bullet wounds which would stop or kill a sober man. Holy shit! Why wasn’t cocaine being used in secret supersoldier projects? Oh, right, because it was all bullshit. But the 1914 ban was passed anyway thanks to those myths, and not out of fact-based concerns about the health risks of cocaine. (Because white people could handle their coke, goddammit!)

If you want a silver lining, the ban largely put a stop to lynchings of black men based on the “We think he’s high on coke, so he probably raped someone or whatever” clause. It also, uh, fueled nasty, often lethal stereotypes about impoverished minorities and drugs for decades to come, but that’s something, right?


Banning Alcohol From Native American Reservations Has Its Roots In A Myth That They’re Genetically Unable To Handle Booze

Yeah, there’s a running trend of white people thinking other people react differently to intoxicating substances. You may have heard the still-prevalent idea that the genes of Native Americans make them biologically prone to alcohol abuse. Supposedly, when Europeans introduced Natives to alcohol, their bodies didn’t know how to handle it and a tremendous cultural struggle with alcoholism ensued. No sir, it wasn’t the depression and trauma of watching their friends and family die while their culture and lifestyle were extinguished which contributed to alcohol abuse — it was biology! Not whitey’s fault, so deal with it.

William Faden
“After all, they did trade Manhattan for four six-packs.”

It is true that Native Americans experience problems with alcohol … at a rate equal to white people. But thanks to stereotypes, we tend to view alcoholism among Natives as a moral failing endemic to their culture, while an alcoholic white guy is some dude with a problem who doesn’t reflect on other white people. Natives do experience more alcohol-related health problems than whites, but that’s because as a group, they have inferior access to healthcare, healthy food, etc. — a problem which is a subject for a future wacky comedy article.

For governing whites, prohibition laws on Native reservations were seen as a quick and easy way to address alcoholism. Natives can’t handle their booze, so cut them off and punish those who try to keep drinking. But Natives tended to see prohibition as white people trying to force a solution on them … to address a problem which they also forced on them. It’s like if someone smashed your car window and then took away your driver’s license because they said you were a bad driver for letting your window get smashed.

But even if the root causes are horrible stereotypes, prohibition is still meant to help, right? It’s certainly an improvement from the days when laws against selling booze to Natives were lifted so settlers could turn a tidy profit from alcohol abuse. But “meant” is the keyword there. If you treat Native American alcohol abuse as a unique and more desperate problem than it is among other people, you create brand-new problems. Stereotypes about Natives and alcoholism can make them too embarrassed to seek medical treatment, and it can also lead to Natives who have never touched a drink in their lives getting rejected from jobs. Hey, do you think those kind of bullshit economic punishments might contribute to alcohol abuse?

Also, a total ban on alcohol leads to people getting arrested for possession of a single beer, even though the stigma of having a criminal record is going to do someone more harm than one can of Bud Light. In one especially depressing incident, one cousin stabbed another to death over a bottle of beer, which A) might not have happened if beer wasn’t illegal, and B) is a clear sign that prohibition isn’t working. Could the truly atrocious living conditions on many reservations be contributing to incidents like that? Nah, they probably just can’t handle their firewater, right?


America’s War Against Opium Was Fueled By The Fear Of Race-Mixing

Another trend in antique drug laws is a baseless belief that minorities were stealing away white women and enabling the heinous crime of race-mixing (and implicitly, the equally heinous crime of white women not having sex with racist white dudes, even though they were totally nice guys who had their best interests at heart). Exhibit #317-B is San Francisco circa 1875, when Chinese immigrants, mostly railroad and mine workers, liked to unwind after a long day on the job by smoking opium. Hey, we’ve all been there.

The Bancroft Library
“Mondays, right?”

White locals accused the Chinese of taking jobs from them during a rough economic downturn (technically true, but they were performing dangerous labor for shit pay, which is the kind of job that white locals tend to turn down or not even be offered). That complaint somehow morphed into accusations that opium dens were “girl traps.” The Chinese supposedly lured white women and teens into their dens with opium-laced candy and other treats until they were addicted and willing to have sex for more, which maybe says more about the people dreaming up such accusations than anything else.

So San Francisco outlawed opium smoking in 1875. But this was a nationwide belief. In New York City in 1883, a local worrywart set up surveillance teams to keep an eye on suspected opium dens which were supposedly corrupting white women. Tellingly, this surveillance was done by people from other neighborhoods, as most local whites didn’t have an issue with their Chinese neighbors. But they called the police whenever they suspected a stranger’s vagina was in peril, and a series of raids uncovered … a 19-year-old woman. Singular. Who didn’t appear to be an addicted sex slave. Claims that girls as young as ten were escaping before the police showed up were unproven, probably because they were super-duper made up.

But troublesome “facts” didn’t stop people from declaring that “hundreds of American girls” were becoming “associates and then slaves of the Mongolian” (old-timey racists weren’t big on demographic accuracy). So by 1909, Congress had made opium smoking, and only smoking, illegal nationwide. Drinking and injecting tinctures — how white Americans liked their medicinal and recreational opium — was still totally cool for a while, presumably as long as you pinky swore not to seduce dozens of sex slaves with the contents of your medicine cabinet.


Alcohol Prohibition Was An Anti-Immigrant And Anti-Black Panic

Prohibition and the events leading up to it had all sorts of complex causes. But one of those causes was a bunch of tedious people getting together to complain about immigrants — specifically the still-viewed-as-extremely-anti-American Germans and Irish and their love of beer. Because when history is at its worst, the masses are swayed to the side of the people complaining about beer instead of enjoying it.

In 1855 Chicago, the mayor and his followers were concerned about the influence of foreigners who took jobs and pledged spiritual allegiance to one of the most dastardly villains in history: the Pope. Gasp! They were especially distrusting of Irish and German immigrants, who liked to hit the pub on Sunday, their one day off. The Chicago Tribune called Irish Catholics “depraved, worthless and irredeemable drunkards and sots which curse the community.” We’re assuming that “sot” was a harsh burn back then.

So Chicago dusted off an old law which required taverns to be closed on Sunday … but only enforced it in immigrant communities. Chicago also sextupled the price of an annual liquor license to $300 (about 7,800 modern dollars) to try to drive immigrant bars out of business. 200 tavern owners were brought up on charges, and when the first one went to trial, there were massive protests, because you don’t fuck with a 19th century working man’s booze. One protester was killed, the mayor’s political career tanked, and the laws were eventually repealed, but it wasn’t the end of anti-letting-immigrants-drink sentiment.

The Prohibition movement was in full swing during World War I, and as you hopefully remember from history class, Germany was on team Not America. So Prohibitionist propaganda linked beer and brewing with Germany, and therefore treason. Prohibitionists also connected drinking with the Irish and other immigrants, with one congressman calling foreign drinkers the “degenerate vote” which “overwhelmed the liberties of free people” and were a “menace to our institutions.” Irish Americans were accused of being unpatriotic if they opposed Prohibition or the war, which silenced dissent.

Meanwhile, in the South, “colored only” saloons were declared “centers of vice, schools of iniquity, and hot-beds of crime.” Prohibitionists dressed the movement up as concern for those poor black people who were spending all their money and “[feeding] their animalism,” but they also accused black saloons of threatening the safety of white women and children. Because who knew what those dastardly blacks were planning when whites couldn’t keep an eye on them?

Again, Prohibition was complicated, but to some proponents, taking away one of the joys of minorities while making them less scary to the sort of people who wring their hands a lot was a big plus. One Southern Prohibitionist even argued that getting rid of saloons could prevent a race war and keep black Americans from rampaging through the streets, because ready access to alcohol was obviously the only reason black Southerners might get mad at white Southerners.


Numerous Government Officials Have Confirmed That Laws Against Drugs Are Based On Race

So far we’ve only given you historical examples, but you know what they say about history repeating itself to screw over minorities. Here, for example, is a 2015 interview with a former DEA agent who says they were told not to target drug sellers and users in rich areas, even though drugs are as prevalent there as anywhere else. The reasoning was that rich (read: mostly white) people have connections to lawyers, politicians, and judges who could make life a living hell for the DEA, while people in poorer areas (read: generally nonwhite people) wouldn’t be able to fight back.

You can find comments like that throughout American history. In the ’30s, Harry Anslinger, one of the big shots behind cannabis laws, said, “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men,” and, “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.” It’s admittedly kind of refreshing to hear someone be openly racist instead of trying to dress it up as being “for their own good,” although it sounds like Mrs. Anslinger probably had an unsatisfying marriage.

Ironic, considering her husband was named “Anslinger.”

Now let’s skip through time to a 2016 article on a 1994 talk with John Ehrlichman, one of Nixon’s top advisors and a Watergate jailbird. He told Harper’s, “The Nixon White House had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people … We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” He then presumably twirled his mustache and demanded one billion dollars, or else he would melt the ice caps.

The Nixon administration’s official line was that they were responding to a heroin epidemic and an uptick in the smoking of jazz cigarettes, as we believe the cool kids still call weed. And to be fair, several of Ehrlichman’s children and colleagues called bullshit on his statements, suggesting he either never said them or was being sarcastic (the writer who talked to Ehrilchman thinks he was serious and trying to atone). Nixon did establish drug education and addiction treatment programs, but also signed off on no-knock searches and is on record as referring to black Americans as “little Negro bastards” who “live like a bunch of dogs.” Again, drugs are complicated. You’re welcome to draw your own conclusions.

But while you’re reaching those conclusions, keep in mind that the drug war is incarcerating African American men at a rate about four times worse than black South Africans were during apartheid. Oh, and thanks to drug laws, there are more black men in the prison system than there were black men enslaved in 1850. So … maybe a change in strategy is in order here.

Mark is on Twitter and has a book.

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6 Ways Being A Kid In The Past Was A Complete Nightmare

Thanks to time and progress, we’ve been able to shoot down a lot of the bad science that plagued the past. No more thinking the Earth is flat, believing women come from ribs, or burning witches at the stake for figuring out lifehacks against headaches. Yet nowhere has progress had a greater impact than on how we deal with our children. Back in the day, there were plenty of utterly insane parenting styles which would land people in jail now. Here are some of the most ridiculous ways we used to screw up parenthood. You’ll be amazed we were able to keep progressing the species.


Victorians Would Camouflage Themselves As Creepy Furniture On Photo Day

In the days of yore, picture day wasn’t only an excuse to skip out on class and make rude gestures at some underpaid photographer. It was serious business. Taking a photo was so expensive and time-consuming that having some fidgety kid ruin it could mean double shifts down in the mines and a single portion of gruel for the whole family. In fact, 19th-century parents would go to insane lengths to make sure their children sat precisely how they wanted them to.

In the olden days, having one’s picture taken was quite a grueling affair. Exposure could take a long time to set in, up to 15 whole minutes. That’s a quarter of an hour of sitting perfectly still so that you don’t look like a blurry ghost haunting a nice fainting chair. This made taking pictures of small children almost impossible, as they tend to have the vigor and willpower of a hyperactive ferret. So the question became how to restrain one’s child with a firm hand without having that firm hand pop up in the picture and ruining it. The answer was this:

via The Guardian
Not the infant dress cut for someone six feet tall.

As your keen Holmesian eyes may have gathered, that chair looks a little … people-shaped, doesn’t it? That’s right, a mother would disguise herself into the background of the photograph like the world’s most overambitious spy, keeping her toddler in check and probably giving her child some real Freudian hang-ups about upholstery.

This phenomenon, known as the “invisible mothers,” was de rigeur back in the day if you wanted a photograph of your child to cherish, albeit one in which it looks like they’re being suffocated by the Grim Reaper’s old-fashioned aunt, Maude Reaper.


19th-Century Parents Would Send Their Children Via The Postal Service

We often take for granted how easy it is to get places these days. Do your parents live across town? Jump in your affordable car. Grandparents on the other coast? Grab a seat on an affordable plane. Family in Alaska? Hell, they’re all but giving Husky sleds away these days. But back in the day, people couldn’t get around so easily, which was especially troublesome for young parents and their very immobile babies. But then, an unlikely government organization offered them a great alternative to traveling with kids, and all for the cost of a stamp.

One of the greatest innovations of the U.S. Post Office was the addition of parcels in 1913. No longer did people have to stuff books into envelopes and pretend they’d only written the world’s most convoluted letter. As long as your parcel was under 11 pounds, the Parcel Post would ship it. That was the Post Office’s big mistake. As it happens, a lot of babies weigh under 11 pounds, and there were plenty of cheapskate parents out in the sticks who would abuse the hell out of that loophole.

That was the story of James Beagle, an eight-month-old boy who was literally shipped off to his grandmother — who was thankfully only a few miles away. Still, his parents thought that paying 15 cents was a better deal than the wasted time and worn shoes they’d get walking him over. They did insure little James for $50, sending a clear message to the postmen of “You break him, you buy him.”

Perhaps amused by this gross neglect, parents across the country followed suit, and the brief trend was extensively documented in the newspapers. That is, until June 1913, when the postmaster general officially prohibited the sending of children through the mail system. It was a pain for parents, but an absolute godsend for the postmen who were tired of lugging around smelly babies. After all, they weren’t allowed to change their diapers — opening mail is a federal offense.


Medieval Parents Used To Mold Their Babies Using Swaddling

Naturally, parents want their children to turn out the best that they possibly can. Even the most carefree parents would prefer that their offspring be the first in their family to get a PhD, and not the first to get banned from several popular restaurant chains. So how do you tip the odds? By correcting behavior, encouraging ambition, and a whole lot of other pop psychology, for starters. In those and many other ways, parents have been molding their children since the beginning of time — except that they used to take that molding a bit too literally.

In Medieval England, there existed a medical theory that newborn babies had a malleable body type, like Play-Doh, which tended to curl into a ball-like shape. In order to prevent that, mothers would swaddle their babies in tight linen papooses as a way of stretching their spines and their limbs out, believing that this would result in a tall, normal-looking child — though we’re sure there were plenty of fathers who wanted to leave their kid unswaddled just to see what happened.

But if children are made out of putty, why stop at correcting bad posture? Medieval parents quickly figured that some extra manipulation would ensure long arms and legs, so they’d pull and hold their little babies’ limbs like they were tiny Stretch Armstrongs. And since being handsome is always a plus in life, they also routinely pinched and pulled and tweaked the nose and cheeks and ears and lips until the child hardened into a fine adult / clay ashtray.

Not only was the practice useless and painful for the child, but it was also bad for its development. Not changing the bonds daily (which no Medieval parent did) caused all kinds of sores. And in their rush to make sure that their children came out child-shaped, some mothers would also swaddle them too tightly and cause them to suffer from circulatory problems, chafing, and a heap of dermatological nightmares. Nothing some extra swaddling couldn’t buff out, though.


“Twilight Sleep” Was Pure Horror

Moms, what is the worst part of being a mom? Is it letting go on the first day of school? Is it the fear when they’re not home by curfew? Is it having to boil all your towels the moment those little masturbating monsters hit puberty? Wrong, the worst part of motherhood is the pain of squeezing a screaming melon from between your legs whilst everyone in the maternity room stares at your hooha. However, thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, there are many ways of dealing with the pain and discomfort. But what about your grandmother’s generation? Well, the good news is that they too had a chemical concoction which blocked out the pain of childbirth. The bad news? It kind of made mothers go insane.

In 1914, the three hottest trends in Europe were smoking opium, getting machine-gunned in a trench, and “a new and painless method of childbirth.” This new procedure, known as “twilight sleep,” was made possible through a mixture of morphine and scopolamine — the former for pain and the latter for memory. That’s right, the whole point was not only to endure the grueling burden of giving birth, but also to forget that the ghastly affair ever happened at all. Women would simply wake up the next day and some nurse would drop a baby into their arms, assuring them it had plopped out of them mere hours before.

Giving birth while you sleep sounds like a pretty sweet deal — except that it wasn’t, for any of the parties involved (except the doctors, naturally). There’s this little thing mothers need to do called bonding, which is tricky when you get introduced to your baby via a nurse like she’s trying to set you two up on a blind date. Twilight sleep mothers offered suffered from dissociation, wherein they couldn’t recognize their children, often leading to postnatal depression, delusions, and a whole host of psychological problems quickly passed on from one generation to the next.

And to make matters worse, after twilight sleep wards were set up across the U.S., it soon became apparent that the practice wasn’t even truly painless, either. As it turned out, all it really did was mind-wipe new mothers without making their birthing much less horrible. In fact, it did the exact opposite, removing their willpower to deal with the situation, often causing them to freak out. Every hospital that offered twilight sleep quickly turned into a haunted house, as its corridors were filled with the sound of soon-to-be-mothers screaming for their lives. And as the drug cocktail was so shit at numbing them out that these mothers were either strapped to their hospital beds using leather straps or were put into a straitjacket and forced to give birth in padded cells.

Naturally, as this became common knowledge (and some poor woman died), twilight sleep lost its popularity, vanishing completely by the middle of the 20th century. It’s a good thing it didn’t last until the days of dads taping the birth — otherwise it would have spontaneously invented the found footage horror genre.


Old-Timey Parenting Books Were Full Of Dangerous Nonsense

Having kids is hella hard. They’re the most complicated animals in the world to raise, but their operating manual is never included. That’s why, over the centuries, an entire industry has been built around informing new parents how to deal with their stinking, screaming bundles of joy. Ironically, these guides had some teething problems of their own.

During the 19th century, many guides for new mothers were published containing a lot of, to put it politely, fucking batshit crazy guesswork. Do you want a healthy baby? Better align their sleeping position due north so that they’re in sync with “great electrical currents … coursing in one direction around the globe.” That way, according to 1878’s The Physical Life Of Woman, those currents can synergize with your baby’s central nervous system and supercharge them to the max.

And you don’t want your babies to become ugly, right? Searchlights On Health: The Science Of Eugenics had an easy answer: Don’t think about uggos. A pregnant woman should banish all thoughts of the ugly “or those marked by any deformity or disease.” How do you not think of something just mentioned in what you’re reading? Good question. Also, if you’re a pregnant woman and you’re reading this, good luck with your hideous child.

Meanwhile, in the best-selling The Mother And Her Child, two doctors recommend you “handle the baby as little as possible.” If it (and they are definitely an “it” here) cries, you should let it happen. After all, crying is “absolutely essential to the development of good strong lungs.” You want your kids to have good strong lungs, don’t you? Well, let ’em weep … But not so much that they start to choke and burst the blood vessels in their face, in which case you should spank them for having the dishonor to nearly die in the midst of a life lesson.

And to make sure they don’t go soft after they’ve screamed themselves strong, you should also never, ever hug a child, and only kiss them once a day (maximum) before bedtime. Remember, parents, an emotionally dead child is an obedient child, so greet them in the morning with a firm and hearty handshake to let them know you respect and care for them in the same way you would an out-of-town business associate you haven’t seen in four years.


Better Healthcare Through Getting Kids Wasted

So you’ve tried everything. You tried binding their limbs, ignoring their cries, even beating them senseless, but none of that stellar parenting has done the trick. You’re still coming home to a sickly, unruly child who thinks of you as a malicious stranger out to ruin their life — but not in a good way. Well, have you tried pumping them full of opium?

Via Bustle.com
If your kid was born before World War I, the answer was “Yes,” whether you knew it or not.

During the 1800s, drugging your children was the most socially responsible thing a parent could do. According to doctors, it cured every infant ailment, from fever to night terrors to full-scale tuberculosis. Opium was the most popular medication for the young and old alike, because it couldn’t be bad taking something that made you feel sooooo good. Medicine such as Stickney and Poor’s Pure Paregoric (a cold syrup) contained 46 percent alcohol and “one and three-sixteenth grains of opium to each fluid ounce” — a ratio you wouldn’t think to find outside of an Afghan warlord’s bathroom cabinet. And in case parents were a bit worried about, y’know, pumping their little ones with so much smack they’d start overdosing like they were in Trainspotting, the bottles came equipped with a handy-dandy chart listing the “correct” dose for everyone from adults all the way down to five-day-olds.

“If you see yourself crawling over the ceiling toward a Scottish smackhead, reduce your dosage.”

But what if your kids were the fussy types who didn’t like the bitter taste of uncut opium? Well, you could also buy opium cough drops flavored with the refreshing taste of cherry. Of course, having six-month-olds chase the dragon caused some mild addiction problems, but parents who are cool with pumping their babies full of class A narcotics are typically not parents who bother knowing the difference between overly fussy babies and babies showing hardcore signs of withdrawal.

Not that opium was the only way parents used to let kids live it up like they were on tour with Guns N’ Roses. During the gin craze of the mid-1700s, English parents let their offspring get sloshed on up to half a pint of cheap gin every day, we guess because they preferred the sound of loud sea shanties over crying. Of course, these were the days of child labor as well, so maybe it’s more a case of seven-year-olds, fresh from a shift down in the mines, stopping at their local for a quick pint before they had to get back to the ol’ mom and chain.

Adam Wears is on Twitter and Facebook. He also has a newsletter about depressing history, but that’s only for the coolest kids.

There are much better books about child care these days, but we’re not qualified to suggest any so don’t forget to introduce your kids to all things Dr. Suess. Also please don’t ever try to mail your baby.

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Also check out 7 Things ‘Good Parents’ Do (That Screw Up Kids For Life) and 18 Terrible Parents That Hollywood Wants Us To Admire.

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Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_25056_6-ways-being-kid-in-past-was-complete-nightmare.html