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Dramatic Safety Videos from the US Chemical Safety Board

The United States Chemical Safety Board and Hazard Investigation Board, an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that investigates the cause of chemical accidents (About the CSB Video (14 minutes), website) has released a well-made animated video (11 minutes) detailing the root cause of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in conjunction with a two-volume draft report about the disaster. This is just the latest in a series of informative and fascinating safety videos released by the CSB. [more inside]
posted by Small Dollar on Jun 6, 2014 - 18 comments

Qualities that might make a machine feel human

The Boston Globe profiles Darius Kazemi, author of Twitter bots such as Metaphor-a-Minute, Last Words and Two Headlines, as well as the creator of Random Shopper (Previously) [more inside]
posted by frimble on Jan 28, 2014 - 9 comments

You're all, "It's too quiet, guys." Instant weird shit

String Theory is a character-driven serialized comic book published on the web and written/illustrated by Dirk Grundy (Twitter cat feed). Following the adventures of grumpy, socially inept super scientist Dr. Herville Schtein, it is set in an alternate timeline where "the Cuban missile crisis went terribly wrong," the Cold War never ended, super scientists and super powered individuals run amok, the American Southwest is an irradiated postnuclear desert, "America...is not doing so well," and Chicago... Let's not talk about Chicago. It is about failure and families and how we all kind of mess each other up a little, but only because we care. It's kind of sad. But also kind of funny. Think Venture Brothers with the satire and comedy turned down, and the characterization and plotting turned up. Oh! There is also a very cute talking cat, if that helps sell it for you. [more inside]
posted by byanyothername on Nov 6, 2013 - 12 comments

Tiny Time Machine

In the December 2004 issue of SPIN, we published Los Angeles journalist/musician Liam Gowing's detailed, empathetic look at the last years of Elliott Smith's life and the circumstances that led up to the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter's apparent suicide. "Mr. Misery" was difficult to read, a tremendous challenge to edit and fact-check, and one of the most remarkably intimate pieces in the magazine's history. On the 10th anniversary of Smith's death, it's now available for the first time on the site. [more inside]
posted by mannequito on Oct 21, 2013 - 13 comments

This ain't chemistry. This is Art.

With the momentous series finale of Breaking Bad just hours away, fans of the show are hungry for something, anything to wile away the time before the epic conclusion tonight. So why not kick back and chew the fat with your fellow MeFites with the help of a little tool I like to call "The Periodic Table of Breaking Bad." [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Sep 29, 2013 - 974 comments

The Tragic Death of Kendrick Johnson

A high school athlete's bizarre death in Georgia raises questions among his family and other members of their community. [more inside]
posted by Alonzo T. Calm on Sep 8, 2013 - 43 comments

Our Mother Chaos Rules All

Fiction and Real Life are Different, You Moron. A cartoon about sports.
posted by no regrets, coyote on Aug 7, 2013 - 24 comments

Why isn't New Orleans Mother's Day parade shooting a 'national tragedy'?

19 people were shot at a New Orleans parade on Mother's Day, including 2 children. 3 are still in critical condition. David Dennis asks: "So why am I allowed to go outside? Where's the city quarantine or FBI and Homeland Security presence for this act of 'terrorism'?" [more inside]
posted by Starmie on May 16, 2013 - 97 comments

Major explosion rocks West, Texas

A massive fireball and explosion has happened at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas (just north of Waco). Hundreds of injuries are being reported. [more inside]
posted by item on Apr 17, 2013 - 414 comments

The hunt for the Death Valley Germans

In 1996, a family of German tourists went on vacation in the desert Southwest of the US. They disappeared in Death Valley sometime late July of that year, and despite repeated searches, their remains were not found until 2009. Tom Mahood details how that happened.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt on Jan 3, 2013 - 168 comments

Jack Whittaker's Powerball tragedy.

The day would come when many West Virginians recalled the story of Jack's Powerball Christmas with a shudder at the magnitude of ruination: families asunder, precious lambs six feet under, folks undone by the lure of all that easy money.
posted by Egg Shen on Nov 29, 2012 - 68 comments

Boston's Cocoanut Grove Fire

70 years ago today, 492 people perished in a fire at Boston's popular Cocoanut Grove nightclub. The Cocoanut Grove Coalition offers documents, images, videos, and artifacts of the fire and its aftermath. This fascinating 1995 WGBH clip interviews a variety of survivors, offering a window on the era as well as the fire. Other documents of note: The Boston Library's Flickr photo set and the Library's recently released witness statements and final report. Also noteworthy: Buck Jones and the Cocoanut Grove controversy. [more inside]
posted by madamjujujive on Nov 28, 2012 - 25 comments

The Complicated Geography of Alice

“I stole this book from the library ages ago…”
“Fourth grade” I say, watching them huddled together in the mirror.
“…one of those Marvin K. Redpost books. He kisses his elbow one day and when he wakes up the next morning he's a girl.”
“I meant to make you take it back but I bet we still have it.”
“My mom's cataloging fifteen years of gender-bending in one week.” She says, rolling her eyes.... “Seriously Mom, how did you NOT know?”
She will ask me this a hundred times. I will ask myself a hundred more and still never I didn't have a good answer then and I don't now. Perhaps we simply see what we expect to see and write off anything that doesn't fit into the little boxes we put people into. Or perhaps she'd learned to mask and over-correct, to hide so well that by the time those distinctions matter, I could not see her until she tore down that wall. I wish I'd known sooner.
Behind the Curtain (AKA OMG Marvin K. Redpost is a girl!) is one of the funnier excerpts from The Complicated Geography of Alice, a memoir in progress.
posted by carsonb on Nov 25, 2012 - 16 comments

A place where reality can intrude in fantastic, unwelcome ways.

Ben Stiller, aliens, and the intersection of onscreen comedy and real-life tragedy. Zach Baron, for Grantland, on The Watch. [more inside]
posted by davidjmcgee on Jul 26, 2012 - 81 comments

That Time Agatha Christie Was a Deplorable Hack (Or — The Authoress Suck’d)

However, I do have a major criticism of her work, and fans be forewarned, it makes Agatha Christie sound like a cheap, opportunistic, exploitative monster that would have made Harvey Levin proud. Agatha Christie's book The Mirror Crack'd From Side To Side, later made into a movie starring Elizabeth Taylor, turns out to have been very loosely based on the tragic case of Gene Tierney's daughter, born deaf and severely mentally disabled after a fan snuck out of quarantine for Rubella to get an autograph from the actress. Drew Mackie explains.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me on Jul 18, 2012 - 35 comments

Tragedy at Epulu

The Okapi Wildlife Reserve, a UN World Heritage Site, is home to approximately 5,000 of the estimated 30,000 okapi remaining in the wild. Last week, it was also home to a tragedy. [more inside]
posted by MimeticHaHa on Jun 28, 2012 - 43 comments

We Survived.

One year ago today, a tornado devastated Joplin, Missouri. Photographer Robert X. Fogarty's "Dear World" project commemorates the survivors of that day with two galleries of portraits. Each survivor has a short message written on his or her skin: "I survived Joplin's EF-5." "Together these work miracles." "Survived."
posted by BoringPostcards on May 22, 2012 - 10 comments

Another Night to Remember

"I never believed this could still happen in 2012." The sinking of the Costa Concordia. In slides.
posted by Avenger50 on Apr 20, 2012 - 57 comments

Heart-wrenching

What it feels like to have your spouse die. This left me speechless.
posted by rahulrg on Feb 26, 2012 - 52 comments

Nobody is that bad of a person

A tragic fire in Honduras has claimed the lives of hundreds of inmates as a "hellish scene" unfolded as hundreds of inmates were caught up in a prison fire in Comayagua. [more inside]
posted by RolandOfEld on Feb 15, 2012 - 12 comments

Sometimes when you are fishing, weird things happen

53 year old Donna Chen was out walking her dog when she was struck and killed by 22 year old Blake Talman. Her dog, a vizsla, ran off despite his injuries. He was rescued by a fisherman quite some distance away - and more than half a mile at sea.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt on Jan 9, 2012 - 47 comments

"We'll be fine."

GQ: The Man Who Sailed His House. On the third day after the Japanese tsunami, after the waves had left their destruction, as rescue workers searched the ruins, news came of an almost surreal survival: Nine miles out at sea, a man had been found alone, riding on nothing but the roof of his house. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 13, 2011 - 19 comments

Depictions drawn from regrettable accounts of the less fortunate for purposes of instruction; so that one may avoid similar missteps.

Things Could Be Worse. [more inside]
posted by subbes on Sep 19, 2011 - 45 comments

"The Civil War isn't tragic"

The Atlantic's Ta-nehisi Coates sparks months of debate with his contention that The Civil War Isn't Tragic. "The Civil War is our revolution. It ended slavery, and birthed both modern America, and modern black America. That can never be tragic to me." [more inside]
posted by Danila on Aug 25, 2011 - 116 comments

"Dead, dead, dead, dead, dead, he’s fucking dead, the guy from Brainiac is fucking dead. I want this to mean something to every fucking one of you."

15 years ago Dayton, Ohio band Brainiac released their third, and final full-length album Hissing Prigs in Static Couture on Touch & Go records. Lead by Tim Taylor on vocals/keyboards the album perfected a brand of short-circuit robot rock that made dance music out of violent shrieks and spasms. The band has been credited by Trent Rezor in 'really inspiring to me from a sonic influence' and eulogized by Jeff Buckley at his last gig. [more inside]
posted by wcfields on Apr 14, 2011 - 41 comments

"They asked us who we were, and we told them we were civilians from Kijran district."

A Tragedy of Errors. On Feb. 21, 2010, a convoy of vehicles carrying civilians headed down a mountain in central Afghanistan and American eyes in the sky were watching. "The Americans were using some of the most sophisticated tools in the history of war, technological marvels of surveillance and intelligence gathering that allowed them to see into once-inaccessible corners of the battlefield. But the high-tech wizardry would fail in its most elemental purpose: to tell the difference between friend and foe." FOIA-obtained transcripts of US cockpit and radio conversations and an interactive feature provide a more in-depth understanding of what happened.
posted by zarq on Apr 10, 2011 - 59 comments

"Slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God."

Challenger . . . . go with throttle up. Twenty-five years ago today the U.S. Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds into the 25th space shuttle flight. The reports (pdf) tell us of O-Ring failures. Today, we remember one of the most tragic days in the history of the U.S. manned spaceflight program. Today, January 28, 2011, we remember: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe.
posted by IvoShandor on Jan 28, 2011 - 100 comments

I guess it was hot enough for you.

Remember this crazy sport? Well, sort of unsurprisingly, today one of the contestants has died. The World Sauna championships will likely not be repeated. BTW, for those of you who want it, there's video, and pictures, but they're both graphic (as in watching someone voluntarily cooked to death graphic).
posted by jadayne on Aug 9, 2010 - 97 comments

Sunday Satire by Mark Fiore.

Mark Fiore is a political cartoonist. Mark Fiore won a Pulitzer Prize this year. Mark Fiore hasn't been featured on the Blue since 2006 (previously). Mark Fiore has animated some amusing cartoons about recent events: Wikileaks, Conflict Minerals, Gaza Flotilla, BP (2) (3), War on Drugs, Climate Gate, Guantanamo, Haiti, and more!.
posted by tybeet on Aug 1, 2010 - 17 comments

Love is all around

The Love Parade is over. 21 years after the first parade in Berlin, disaster strikes and the electro-pop festival that welcomed millions of dance-happy people from all over the world shuts down after a tragic crush in a tunnel that killed 19 people and injured 340. An investigation into the deaths is underway.
posted by dabitch on Jul 25, 2010 - 58 comments

Murder at UVA

Murder At UVA: George Huguely, Yeardley Love, And Lacrosse's Worst An Andrew Sharpe column with some personal analysis. Food for thought.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies on May 9, 2010 - 30 comments

Microlight pilot dies on very first leg of charity flight to Australia

Martin Bromage, 49, took off yesterday morning but contact with him was lost over the Channel. His body was found by a French patrol boat at 10pm last night, two miles from Boulogne. His website remains up and his GPS location tracker is still working...
posted by A189Nut on Jan 19, 2010 - 51 comments

Violence, death, mud, insanity.

Photos from the war. A slideshow of photos taken by German soldier Werner Wiehe... vermisst in Russland, 1944. (While viewing the slideshow, might I suggest playing some appropriate musical accompaniment, arranged in sequential order?!)
posted by markkraft on Oct 17, 2009 - 18 comments

"Files Vanished, Young Chinese Lose the Future."

Imagine you're living in China, trying to work your way out of the family date farming business (which garners approximately $450 annually). You do all the right things. You apply for (and receive) Communist Party membership. You study literally to the point of collapse, and despite coming from coal-town origins, you score high on your gao kao ("high test," more-or-less the only thing that matters in getting into a Chinese university). Your already-poor family goes deep into debt to send you to college, and you even manage to come out with a degree. Classic rise-up-by-your-own-bootstraps tale, right? However, finally, when you go to apply for a job—your state-sanctioned educational, occupational, and political records are inexplicably, awfully gone. What has happened to that plain manila folder (!) that serves as your only legitimate, official history in Chinese society? Probably stolen and sold so a party official's child can get everything you worked so hard for. And then, of course, your family is detained by party officials when your parents demand to know where the hell your life went. Of course. [more inside]
posted by Keter on Jul 27, 2009 - 47 comments

Nick Adenhart (1986-2009)

Four hours after his start against Oakland, his first time beginning the year with a major league team, Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed in a hit and run by a van speeding through a red light.
posted by setanor on Apr 9, 2009 - 62 comments

Colombia's Agony

In 1985, less than a week after the Palace of Justice siege in Bogota left 11 members of the Supreme Court dead, the ice-clad Nevada del Ruiz volcano erupted, wiping out the Colombian town of Armero in a huge wave of mud and water. Most links contain disturbing and NSFW images. [more inside]
posted by jontyjago on Mar 12, 2009 - 8 comments

Body of Unknown Vagrant Found in Greenwich Village -- New York -- March 30, 1968

This month marks both the birth and the death of Bobby Driscoll, child star, Peter Pan, "Walt Disney's golden boy." He was penniless, drug-addled and buried in an unmarked grave by the age of 31. [more inside]
posted by jbickers on Mar 10, 2009 - 26 comments

Anthropology Goes to War, and Bad Things Happen

Paula Loyd, a 36 year old anthropologist and US Army reservist, is the third social scientist to be killed within the last 8 months while working for the US Army's controversial Human Terrain System project in Afghanistan. [more inside]
posted by fourcheesemac on Jan 9, 2009 - 63 comments

Events That Touched Our Ancestors' Lives

GenDisasters is a genealogy site, compiling information on the historic disasters, events, and tragic accidents of Canada and the U.S. that our ancestors endured, as well as, information about their life and death. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Dec 9, 2008 - 12 comments

Obama's grandmother dies hours before the election

Obama's grandmother, the woman who raised him, dies one day before the election. Madelyn Lee Payne "Toot" Dunham, 86, died of cancer, Obama and his sister say. The timing is ridiculous. He saw her last last week, knowing she was failing. [more inside]
posted by CunningLinguist on Nov 3, 2008 - 431 comments

Anonymous American in Rangoon

A week in Burma after the storm is the second of two anonymous eyewitness reports at danwei.org of the impact and aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. It is the most gripping and tremendously sad report I have read yet on the human tragedy that is Nargis and the Myanmar Junta's non-response. [more inside]
posted by gen on May 14, 2008 - 24 comments

The Tragedy of Britney Spears

She is intelligent enough to understand what the world wanted of her: that she was created as a virgin to be deflowered before us, for our amusement and titillation. She is not ashamed of her new persona — she wants us to know what we did to her.
posted by dhammond on Feb 26, 2008 - 147 comments

Trespassed Against: Nickel Mines, One Year Later

"My first day on the job was the Amish school shooting at Nickel Mines in Lancaster County, Pa. in October of 2006. Here is some video of what I saw that day." Raw footage from that terrible day, recently posted to YouTube. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan on Oct 7, 2007 - 28 comments

Why, God?

The sad story of Sœur Sourire, the Singing Nun. [more inside]
posted by carsonb on Sep 24, 2007 - 27 comments

Kinder Surprise

Kinder Morgan oil pipeline ruptured near Vancouver, British Columbia Thick, black oil dripped from lampposts, splattered across suburban lawns and crept into Burrard Inlet after a geyser of crude spewed from a burst Kinder Morgan pipeline Tuesday. [google news] Work crews ripped into the TransMountain pipeline about 12:30 p.m., causing the oil to "explode," as one witness put it, from the ground and burble up from manholes, pouring down streets toward the ocean, according to witnesses. Kinder Morgan bought the pipeline from a Canadian utility in 2005, and is known as a "poster child for pipeline problems." More Kinder Morgan accidents.
posted by KokuRyu on Jul 24, 2007 - 38 comments

So Iraq is over. But Iraq has not yet begun...

...The U.S. has probably not yet fully woken up to the appalling fact that, after a long period in which the first motto of its military was "no more Vietnams," it faces another Vietnam. There are many important differences, but the basic result is similar: The mightiest military in the world fails to achieve its strategic goals and is, in the end, politically defeated by an economically and technologically inferior adversary. Even if there are no scenes of helicopters evacuating Americans from the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, there will surely be some totemic photographic image of national humiliation as the U.S. struggles to extract its troops. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo have done terrible damage to the U.S. reputation for being humane; this defeat will convince more people around the world that it is not even that powerful. And Bin Laden, still alive, will claim another victory over the death-fearing weaklings of the West.
Iraq hasn't even begun (more within)
posted by y2karl on Jul 22, 2007 - 148 comments

Yeah, buddy, and I'm the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire

In 1299, Osman I declared independence from the Seljuk Empire, thus beginning the rise of the Ottoman Empire. Over the centuries, The Last Caliphate stretched from Saudi Arabia to Austria, influencing architecture , music, and possibly the most beautiful textiles of the Middle Ages. It was not to last, however. Following a century of uprisings and war, the "Sick Man of Europe" finally succumbed to Turkish Nationalism and was constitutionally abolished by the emerging Turkish state on March 3, 1924. In the intervening 83 years, so much has changed. If the Empire was reinstated today, where would you find the last remaining heir to the Sultan's throne?
posted by quite unimportant on May 8, 2007 - 12 comments

Un seul de tes regards

Orpheus and Eurydice, the acid-tinged, animated music video version.
posted by Wolfdog on Apr 22, 2007 - 8 comments

RIP Larkin.

Ryan Larkin [1943-2007]
posted by docgonzo on Feb 17, 2007 - 32 comments

Two Heroes

Two stories of personal heroism, with 2 sadly different results.
posted by theora55 on Jan 3, 2007 - 53 comments

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