Author Archives: seeder68

About seeder68

lover of the ocean; friend and advisor to felines; co-conspirator in their plan to take over the world Long Live FLUFFY, destroyer of worlds

Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook(s)

How to Find and Support Trustworthy Journalism

Nov 29, 2016

If you are hungry for news you can trust, journalism that helps you make decisions about your community, reporting that holds power to account, then this is for you. This is my personal advice for people who want to support journalism that matters. It is just a starting point, it is not comprehensive, and it’ll become stronger and more useful if you add your ideas to it. Use the comments to add your list of newsrooms you subscribe to and support.

Now more than ever, it is important to our democracy that we seek out and support good journalism. Every person is going to construct their media diet differently, so any list I create will be incomplete. My goal here is to provide a framework for you to find the news that will challenge, inspire, inform and engage you.

A few key pieces of advice:

1. Support local news:

Subscribe to your local newspapers, donate to a nonprofit newsrooms, become a member at your public broadcasting stations and support the local businesses that advertise on community news sites. Build a relationship with your local journalists, give them feedback, tell them what you’d like to see covered, share their stories.

2. Support a mix of media:

Construct a diverse media diet with a good mix of indie and alternative news, local, national and international coverage, niche and countervailing points of view. Get outside your bubble.

3. Support journalism about the causes you care about:

If you care about climate change, support environmental journalism. If you care about kids and schools, support a newsrooms focused on education. If you care about hunger and homelessness, support reporting about poverty, etc… (more on that below)

Finally, where ever you land on the web look for the about section, see if they post a code of ethics, figure out who the staff are. Here is a great guide to spotting fake and untrustworthy news.

The advice below focuses mostly on nonprofit newsrooms, but there are many commercial newsrooms who do important work and deserve your support as well. Give them your attention, subscribe, and engage with them too.

Photo by Mike Licht, used via creative commons

LOCAL NEWS: If you want to support local local news start here. I can’t list every local newsrooms deserving of your attention and your support, but there are a number of great directories where you can find links to trustworthy journalism in your area:

(There are other great newsrooms who aren’t in any of these directories. Can’t find a local newsroom near you? Tweet to me @jcstearns and I’ll help you track down a great local newsrooms near you.)

Photo by Brad Frost, used via creative commons

NICHE AND TOPIC FOCUSED REPORTING: If you care about a specific cause, there is likely a reporting project focused on that issue. Below are a few examples organized into imperfect categories, but check out the Institute for Nonprofit News and The Media Consortium for longer lists of newsrooms covering these topics. (Add more suggestions in the comments too!)

Photo by Glenn Halog, used via creative commons

PRESS FREEDOM: As the news landscape has shifted fewer and fewer newsroom and journalists have regular access to legal support and protection. This come at a time when we have unprecedented legal, technological and cultural threats to freedom of the press. Support these organizations who are on the front lines of defending the rights of journalists and all of us.

(Also notable are the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, though their work is focused more internationally. There are other important rights organizations and government transparency groups whose work intersects with press freedom as well.)

Building a New Infrastructure for News

As with the press freedom groups listed above, there is increasingly a need to support the organizations that support journalists. We have to help create a new infrastructure for independent media. These organizations help train journalists, offer fellowships, fund research and support small independent newsrooms in other ways.

A few of these groups include Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Maynard Institute, Asian American Journalists Association, Native American Journalists Association, National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, Journalism and Women Symposium, Women’s Media Center, Online News Association and others mentioned throughout this post and beyond.)

Today, creating the journalism we want, demands that we help support and defend the media we need.

These places need your support. Your donations will go a long way at all of these newsrooms and organizations. But you can support these places in other ways besides your money. Giving your time, your expertise, or your connections can all help small independent newsrooms. Share their work with a friend or family member via email, social media, or in person. Subscribe to their podcasts, email newsletters, social media accounts. Participate by attending local events, meetings that they are hosting, call-in to talk shows, share feedback when it’s asked for.

Be engaged with the journalism you care about, participate in the news that matters to you, and give what you can to support it.

Thanks for contributing ideas, suggestions and feedback Teresa Gorman, Jessica Clark, Mandy Van Deven, Jeanne Brooks, Adam Schweigert.

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Hello, I’m Your Substitute Dog

Cute Overload

Good morning, assorted trespassers and ruffians. My name is Mrs. Flapnacht, and I’ll be guarding the house today. Now, just because the regular dog is out sick, that doesn’t mean you can march in here and take things! I am every bit as vicious as she is! I’ve got massive fangs, and razor-sharp claws two inches long, and… all right, who am I kidding here, the flat-screen TV’s just down the hall, help yourself.


Via Gerry Thomasen.

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‘Uncertainty’ in Contemporary DSGE Modelling: Not Even Wrong

Fixing the Economists


Confusion of thought and feeling leads to confusion of speech.

— John Maynard Keynes

Readers will note that I very rarely discuss DSGE modelling on here. Frankly, I’m not enormously interested. The fad is one in which economists — or, we should rather say: mathematicians with some loose economic training — have come to mistake analogy for literal explanation.

What do I mean by that? Simply that they have taken certain contingent theoretical statements made by previous generations of economists as Iron-Clad laws and then used these as building blocks to construct ever more Byzantine towers that tell us nothing about how the economy actually operates. This has given rise to a funny game where theorists no longer really build models to give us new insights. Rather they tend to try to integrate things that have already happened and thus they try to tailor their models to fit the discourse…

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Shut Yer Piehole, Charles Bukowski!

A Buick in the Land of Lexus

This is who's giving writing advice. Why wouldn’t you take writing advice from this man?

The writing gods have buried me.

I’m a ghost trapped in crippling indecision.

Which ME should I write?

smart funny edgy human lovable important literary cathartic informative impressive personal controversial

Enter Charles Bukowski, “so you want to be a writer?”

This poem has always fired me up,

like a pep squad before the big game.

I was the quarterback at the keyboard field; my high school brain hot wired on energy drinks, carb loading and anabolics the coach procured to shoot into beautiful blue teenage veins.

Today  –  you’re an irritant. You’re the PLAGUE.

You’re a bombastic lecture, a tirade of what I’m not and how I can’t and why I shouldn’t.

Fuck you, Bukowski.

Shut yer PIEHOLE.

I can’t corral these

magnetic fields of thought;  brilliant and terrible investigations; verbal threats of transferable love; abandoned novels wishing for a record of having been together, flipping…

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6 True Stories from History Creepier Than Any Horror Movie

6 True Stories from History Creepier Than Any Horror Movie

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History books are full of grisly details about who got stabbed, what town got burned to the ground, and which kings married their cousins — so imagine the stuff that gets edited out. Or, you know, read about it in this article instead. As part of our continuing quest to tell you the stuff your teachers didn’t want you to know, here are some gruesome and little-known addenda to some of the most famous moments in history.

#6. The Man Who Tried to Save Lincoln Went All The Shining on His Family

National Archives and Records Administration

You’ve probably seen this illustration a hundred times, but can you name everyone in it?

Library of Congress
The Illuminati members behind the curtain don’t count.

That’s obviously John Wilkes Booth on the right, followed by Abraham Lincoln going, “But I wanna know what happens next! D’aww …” and first lady Mary T, but unless you’re a history buff you probably don’t know that the other two are Union Army Major Henry Rathbone and his wife, Clara Harris, daughter of a prominent U.S. senator. Rathbone is best known for trying to stop Booth and getting a piece of that dagger you see up there for his trouble, and not so much for the Kubrick-esque horror that his life later spiraled into.

Rathbone was seriously injured while attending the most disastrous double date in history, and though he physically survived the attack, his mind never recovered. The officer blamed himself for failing to stop Booth, and even though he eventually married Clara two years later, wedded life only added to his insanity.

National Archives and Records Administration
Love couldn’t cure all. They’d have blamed Hollywood, but it didn’t exist yet.

Eventually, Rathbone’s mind deteriorated to the point that on Dec. 23, 1883, he decided to deck the halls with his family’s blood. While serving as a U.S. consul in Hanover, Germany, Rathbone tried to kill his three kids, and when his wife stopped him, he fatally shot and stabbed her, then stabbed himself — mentally replaying Booth’s actions from 18 years earlier.

The police found Rathbone covered with blood and completely out of his mind. According to a widely repeated but unconfirmed report, he claimed that there were people hiding behind the pictures on his wall.

There were, but it wasn’t clear why that justified murder.

Rathbone spent the rest of his life in a lunatic asylum, where he complained of secret machines in the walls blowing gas into his room and giving him headaches. He died in 1911, becoming the last casualty of the Lincoln assassination nearly half a century after the fact. Incidentally, the house in Hanover where he lived is looking for a caretaker! This could be a new start for us, Wendy.

#5. Syphilitic “Zombies” Wandered the Streets of Italy During the High Renaissance

National Museum of Health & Medicine

When most people picture the High Renaissance, they probably imagine Italian folks in posh clothes admiring the works of da Vinci, Michelangelo, and others. What they do not usually picture is this:

Albrecht Durer
“Naw, man, I’m clean. Now hurry up, I got other clients.”

Yes, while Renaissance Florence may have been a good place for the arts (and parkour, if Assassin’s Creed II is to be believed), at the same time, Italy experienced something more closely akin to a zombie movie during the first major outbreak of syphilis in 1494. Yeah, before antibiotics, this particular STD was less “secret shame” and more “literally rots your fucking face off.” According to one description, the disease (which may have been carried over from New World cooters to Naples bumholes via French dongs) “caused flesh to fall from people’s faces, and led to death within a few months.” More specifically, the outbreak caused “the complete destruction of the lips, others of the nose, and others of all their genitals.”

Meaning, it was not out of place to see victims shambling around who had lost “hands, feet, eyes, and noses to the disease.” So if today’s Renaissance fairs were accurate, about half the people would look like Walking Dead extras.

Hemera Technologies/ Images
As though we needed another reason to want to shoot them.

As horrifying as the thought of having undead genitalia may seem, the worst part is actually the phrase “within a few months” — that means that the afflicted somehow lived for months in this condition, the whole time screaming with pain as their flesh “was eaten away, in some cases down to the bone.” Which is appropriate, because “the bone” is why you get syphilis in the first place.

In short, for a brief period during the time of the great Renaissance masters, it was common to see people, never mind a whole army of Frenchmen, walking around with their faces falling off their exposed skulls until they finally dropped dead. Why the fuck wasn’t this in Assassin’s Creed II?

#4. Heads Literally Exploded During the Eruption of Mount Vesuvius

Johann Dahl 

Italy’s Mount Vesuvius is infamous mainly for erupting so hard on Pompeii’s face that the entire Roman city (and all its dick sculptures, since it was the sex capital of the empire) remained buried in ash for the next millennium and a half. What you may not know is that the gods were actually merciful to Pompeii compared with the horror that went down in Herculaneum, which was a smaller city situated even closer to Vesuvius when it started ejaculating magma everywhere.

Erik Moller
Pictured, from left to right: Vesuvius, Herculaneum, and Pompeii.

What Pompeii experienced was a classic disaster flick: huge cloud of smoke, people running, blanketing ash, and maybe a subplot about Tara Reid reconnecting with her ex-husband and showing some sideboob. Herculaneum, on the other hand, experienced a full-blown supernatural horror movie due to them being hit with “superheated pyroclastic flows of molten rock, mud, and gas,” which is a fancy way of saying that a whole bunch of people went like this:

Seriously. The human skull is loaded with lots of liquids, and if you heat it up super quickly, it reacts much like a hamster in a microwave. We know this because that’s precisely what happened at Herculaneum when everyone in the city was hit by a cloud of gas with a temperature of nearly 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. In less than two-tenths of a second, “skin vaporized, … brains boiled, and skulls exploded.” Like, without any shotguns or grape shot. It just happened all on its own, just as Mother Nature intended. From the inside.

Here’s hoping this doesn’t happen to the fine folks in Naples, who stubbornly insist on living in the precise spot where Vesuvius patiently waits to wipe them out again.

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#3. The British Pet Holocaust of World War II

A. J. O’Brien/Hulton Archive/Getty Image

There are so many horror stories in war that some just get lost in the pile. That’s too bad, because often by discussing things in broad, heroic strokes — the bombings, the invasions, the cities reduced to rubble — you lose sight of the more personal horrors that occurred day-to-day. For example:

Fred Morley / Stringer / Hulton / Getty
Awww, look at the … wait, what the fuck does that sign say?

During the run-up to WWII, the British government formed the National Air Raid Precautions Animals Committee in 1939 to decide what to do with all their animals once war broke out. The committee’s primary concern was food shortages made worse due to people feeding their pets, so to curtail this potential problem, they sent out a pamphlet called “Advice to Animal Owners” … which came with an advertisement for a specific type of gun. You can see where this is going.

UK National Archives
Keep calm and kill your cat.

The pamphlet advised the population that if they could not send their pets into the countryside, “it really is kindest to have them destroyed” (the wording suggests that it was written by an early Dalek prototype). How did the British population take this order? With protests across the Isles, surely? Not exactly. Within the course of a week, 750,000 family pets were “destroyed.”

Also, please note that this took place during the summer of 1939 — i.e., before Germany invaded Poland, and during a time when the British government could have done a lot more damage to Nazi Germany if they simply attacked them instead of massacring all family pets and printing posters for when the Nazis conquered London.

#2. The World’s First Documented Serial Killer Did as She Pleased During the Pax Romana

Joseph-Noel Sylvestre

The Pax Romana is known for being one of the most peaceful periods in history: The Romans figured, “Meh, the empire is big enough now,” and took it easy with all the head-chopping and back-stabbing (as much as they could, anyway) to focus on more productive things like fine-tuning the laws we still use today. How else could Rome have held itself together for so long without routine garbage pickup and laws designed to keep people like serial killers off the street?

Bibliotheca Augustana
And every potential killer on the street went to Rome eventually. All roads led there.

Actually, scratch that last part. The first recorded serial killer in history reigned like a mad queen for 15 years during this period: Her name was Locusta, and her career reads like what would happen if Hannibal Lecter was given his own state college.

Locusta’s macabre story starts in the mid-first century A.D., where she was arrested for poisoning people. Fortune smiled upon her when Agrippina decided to poison Emperor Claudius, and can you guess who she turned to for help on that one? That’s right, Locusta, who subsequently received a pardon for her lethal dose of girl power.

Luis Garcia
She used the “He looked pretty dead even before I killed him” defense.

So, what did Locusta do with her freedom? She got busted one year later in 55 A.D. for poisoning people. (Again, serial killer.) Fortunately, the new Emperor Nero needed her for another job, and Locusta was pardoned once more so she could whip up a deadly milkshake for Nero’s 13-year-old step brother Britannicus. After that hit, Locusta was awarded a sweet villa and even pupils to aid her in her arts. That’s right, even though she was a known murderer and repeat offender, Locusta was given everything she needed to open her own goddamn school for murder.

However, Locusta’s luck ran out when Nero committed suicide, leaving her with few allies and a reputation akin to that of a sorceress. The madwoman was arrested and promptly executed by Emperor Galba in 69 A.D. How did she die? Perhaps an ironic “taste” of her own medicine? Nope: She was publicly raped to death “by a wild animal [some sources say a giraffe] trained for just this sort of punishment.” That’s Roman law for you.

#1. Joan of Arc Battled Alongside (Not Against) a Prolific Child Killer

Pierre Christian

We’re not going to lie: We at Cracked have a nerd crush on Joan of Arc. She was real. She was badass. She didn’t take shit from anybody. And it’s well-documented that she was beloved by God and Merlin both (history’s idea of “well-documented” can be a bit shaky).

French National Archives
Why did we ever stop giving swords to schizophrenics?

But while Joan gets most of the credit for helping France stand up to England in the 15th century, she couldn’t have done it without the support of allies like Gilles de Rais, her “ardent companion,” and one of the bravest knights in the French army. De Rais even made it into the big-budget Joan of Arc movie starring Milla Jovovich, where he’s played by Vincent Cassel.

So why don’t people name churches after this dude too? Probably because of de Rais’ night job as a horrific serial killer who preyed particularly on children between the ages of 6 and 18.

Eloi Firmin Feron 
Really, the hair should have been a dead giveaway.

Again, we’re talking about one of the few men in the French army who helped make Joan of Arc’s career and eventual sainthood possible … and who also happened to be a torturing, butchering, child-murdering monster. The accounts of his trial and confession make for a soul-scarring read: Not content with killing and abusing his victims in gruesome ways, de Rais would also play with them psychologically, convincing them it was only a game before unleashing something even worse. This guy would have been kicked out of Arkham Asylum for creeping out the Joker.

Depending on whom you ask, de Rais killed as few as 80 or as many as 800 children, making him one of the most prolific serial killers in history. Obviously, Joan of Arc never knew about any of this. And just like his old pal, de Rais was eventually burned by the authorities (the preferred method of getting rid of undesirables back then), though in this case he had that shit coming.

Bibliotheque Nationale de France 
Even the angels celebrated. They brought their own banner.

For more chilling tales of horror that only history could have made possible, please preorder Jacopo’s upcoming novel The Great Abraham Lincoln Pocket Watch Conspiracy.

Related Reading: Check out these famous horror movies made realistic by our forums members. If you’re more about serial killers, read about this woman who fed her husband to their children. On the upside, horror villains are pretty great wingmen.

Always on the go but can’t get enough of those sweet, sweet dick jokes? We have an Android app and iOS reader for you to pick from so you never miss another article.

As 2013 draws to a close, be sure to check out Cracked’s year in review because, well, we know you don’t remember it half as well as you think.

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