The Sideshow
  • The sun rises over Emmarencia Dam in central Johannesburg, South Africa, April 22, 2014. As Earth Day is marked across the globe local residents enjoy the natural surroundings is the middle of one of the continents biggest cities. As winter approaches the leaves on the trees are turning and showing their autumn colors. (EPA/KIM LUDBROOK)

    Earth Day turns 44 on Tuesday, and it's more popular than ever. One might suspect the holiday was created by eco-warriors in tie-dyed shirts and leather-fringe vests. Not so. Read on for a collection of facts you (probably) didn't know about Earth Day.

    1. Earth Day was started by politicians

    The holiday and celebration of all things Mother Earth was founded by a Wisconsin politician named Gaylord Nelson. Over the course of his political career, Nelson served as governor of Wisconsin and a three-term Democratic senator. Nelson passed away in 2005, but he left behind a legacy of sensible environmentalism and bipartisanship.

    It was a visit to California during which he witnessed an oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara that inspired him to do something about the growing problem of air and water pollution. Nelson did his best to make the movement a nonpartisan one by asking Rep. Pete McCloskey, R-Calif., to serve as his co-chair, according to EarthDay.org.

    2. One in four deaths

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  • Hosting the Olympics is an honor. It's also a lot of work: Host cities build stadiums, construct hotels and, in some cases, even blow up highways to get ready to handle the massive influx of athletes and spectators.

    Case in point: Rio.

    Explosives are detonated to demolish part of the Perimetral overpass, as part of Rio's Porto Maravilha (Marvelous Port) urbanisation project, in Rio de Janeiro April 20, 2014. The project is for the city's redevelopment ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes (BRAZIL - Tags: SPORT SOCIETY OLYMPICS BUSINESS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY POLITICS)

    Photographs captured demolition of part of the Perimetral overpass on April 20. The destruction of the stretch of road is just one part of the city's plans to redevelop in preparation for the 2016 Olympics.

    People gather to observe the Perimetral overpass, after its partial demolition as part of Rio's Porto Maravilha (Marvelous Port) urbanisation project, in Rio de Janeiro April 20, 2014. The project is for the city's redevelopment ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes (BRAZIL - Tags: POLITICS SPORT SOCIETY OLYMPICS BUSINESS)

    Nobody can say Rio isn't taking its job seriously.  The demolition drew plenty of onlookers who marveled at the overpass's collapse.

    People gather to observe the Perimetral overpass, after its partial demolition as part of Rio's Porto Maravilha (Marvelous Port) urbanisation project, in Rio de Janeiro April 20, 2014. The project is for the city's redevelopment ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games. (REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes)

    This is the most recent part of the highway to be destroyed. Another was demolished on Nov. 24, 2013; that included "29 spans and 232 beams that together weigh 5,104 tons," according to odebrecht.com, website of the Brazilian construction and engineering multinational corporation.

    The Rio Olympics aren't scheduled to open until Aug. 5, 2016. However, prep work isn't something to be left until the last minute.

    Anybody

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  • 601 Lexington Avenue (Wikimedia Commons)

    Walk around Manhattan and you'll see dozens, if not hundreds, of feats of engineering sure to leave even the most cynical urbanite gobsmacked.

    One of the most amazing buildings in the Big Apple is located at 601 Lexington Avenue. The structure's spectacular design is outdone only by the story of how a student discovered it wasn't as safe as the experts believed.

    The story has been known for years, but a recent post in DamnedInteresting.com inspired a new surge of interest.

    The 59-story tower, at one time the world's seventh tallest building, was built on humongous stilts in order to accommodate a nearby church. To work around the church, the architect and engineer placed the stilts in the center of the building's sides, not at the corners.

    It was a bold move and made possible via a chevron structure, a series of eight rows of giant steel V's that acted as the building's skeleton and overall decreased the weight of the building. To compensate for the building's lightweight stance, 

    Read More »from The phone call that may have saved a building from falling onto New York City
  • Mayor Jim Ardis (Peoria City website)A police warrant shows that Peoria (Ill.) Mayor Jim Ardis asked authorities to investigate the home of a man who created a parody Twitter account in the mayor’s name.

    However, the Journal Star says that Twitter had already suspended the @Peoriamayor parody account before the raid took place and that the only thing police found on site was some marijuana.

    The alleged creator of the Twitter account, Jacob Elliott, 36, was charged with one count of marijuana possession but was not charged with any crimes related to the parody account.

    The official request for a search warrant filed with the Peoria police reads in part:

    “In addition to the creation of the @peoriamayor twitter account, Mayor Ardis discovered that the individual had created ‘tweets’ impersonating Mayor Ardis. These ‘tweets’ implied Mayor Ardis utilizes illegal drugs, associates with prostitutes, and utilized offensive inappropriate language.”

    In their investigation of Elliot’s home, police seized his laptop, iPhone, computer

    Read More »from Illinois mayor sends cops after man who created parody Twitter account
  • Pizza may have been invented in Italy but the country’s annual competition for the world’s best slice went to an Australian chef.

    The Campionato Mondiale Della Pizza, aka Pizza World Championship, singled out chef Johnny Di Francesco for his margherita pizza. Di Francesco, owner of the 400 Gradi restaurant in Melbourne said he now plans to open a second restaurant location after his victory.

    Johnny Di Francesco's award-winning margherita pizza (ABC News)

    And while his restaurant has seen a spike in business in the days following his victory, Di Francesco says he won’t raise the current prices on his signature pizza ($19.30).

    However, he also won’t be heading back to Italy next year to defend his title.

    “I’m not allowed to compete in Australia anymore, and once you win at Parma it’s not encouraged to compete again,” Di Francesco, 36, told Hospitality Magazine after his win. “They like to have winners on the panel so I think I might pursue that.”

    His victory wasn’t just over Italians. CNN reported that Di Francesco topped more than 600 chefs

    Read More »from Italy awards world’s best pizza maker title to Australian chef
  • A New York City taxi cab (New York Daily News)

    Rodolfo Sanchez, a 69-year-old cab driver, is facing multiple criminal charges after allegedly passing through New York City tollbooths more than 3,000 times without paying in a two-year period.

    NBC New York reports that if true, Sanchez may have skipped out on some $28,000 in toll penalties.

    "This type of behavior is egregiously unfair to the millions of honest motorists who pay tolls every day, and we will continue efforts to root out toll evaders and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law," MTA Bridges and Tunnels Chief of Security Donald Look said in a statement.

    So, how did the taxi driver manage to get through the Robert F. Kennedy Triborough Bridge tollgate barricades so many times before the MTA caught on? Apparently, he did so by tailgating the cars in front of him.

    The New York Daily News says Sanchez told investigators he jumped the tollbooths because he needed money for his family. Nonetheless, prosecutors have charged him with third-degree larceny, fifth-degree

    Read More »from How a NYC taxi driver allegedly dodged $28,000 in tolls
  • Lance Armstrong explains how to change a flat tire

    Bizarrely straightforward video from Outside magazine features disgraced cyclist demonstrating in a bike shop

    Not all online videos featuring unexpected celebrities are the same.

    This video from Outside magazine starring Lance Armstrong doesn't go for laughs. Instead, it's strangely practical. So much so that you might wonder if you've missed the joke.

    The disgraced cyclist, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France victories in 2012 and admitted to doping in 2013, appears in a tongue-in-cheek instructional clip in which he educates viewers on how to change a flat tire on a bike.

    His instructions are straightforward and pretty useful for amateur cyclists. And that's what makes the video, which went up earlier this week, so odd. It's just so... normal.

    There's one humorous allusion to rougher times, but for the most part, it's just Lance changing a tire, offering tips and getting his hands dirty, just as if he's a regular bike store employee and not one of the most infamous athletes of all time.

    How did Outside convince Armstrong to make the video?

    “We asked, he said yes — much to our

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  • Opera star entertains Paris Metro commuters

    Christophe Menager gives a comedic performance in a subway station under the City of Light

    Surprises during commutes are rarely pleasant. More often than not, they involve traffic jams, delayed trains or horrible weather that makes getting home a type of Greek odyssey.

    So, we imagine it must have been a nice treat for the Paris commuters who were lucky enough to come across opera star Christophe Menager giving a performance in a bustling Metro station.

    We don't know what Menager is singing about, but we do know that he's giving it his all. According to the person who recorded the two minutes of video, Menager "sometimes goes to the Metro to sing for the people that can't afford to go or wouldn't otherwise be interested in going to opera."

    Of course, the opera, especially as performed in subway stations, isn't for everybody. Some commuters stop to listen and interact, while others hurry past, eager to get to wherever it is they're going. Maybe the opera?

    Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter (@mikekrumboltz).

     

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  • FBI produces short film to warn students about spying on U.S.

    'Game of Pawns' dramatizes story of Glenn Duffie Shriver, who is serving four years in prison

    Move over, Warner Bros. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is getting into the movie business.

    OK, not exactly. But the feds did produce a short film , titled "Game of Pawns," detailing the story of Glenn Duffie Shriver, a recent American college graduate who was sentenced to four years in federal prison after he pled guilty to conspiring to give classified information to authorities in the People's Republic of China.

    After college, Shriver traveled to Shanghai in the mid-2000s. In need of money, he responded to a classified ad to write essays on American-Chinese relations.

    Things escalated. He was given more assignments (and money) and was eventually asked by Chinese officials to infiltrate the U.S. on their behalf by pursuing a career in the Central Intelligence Agency.

    Warning bells must have been going off, but Shriver continued down the road, scoring an interview at CIA headquarters. However, his nerves quickly got the better of him. After choking during a routine polygraph

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  • We know, we know. You're sick of selfies. We're sick of selfies. Everybody's sick of selfies. We hear you loud and clear.

    But humor us, because this isn't your average, everyday, phone-held-out-at-arm's-length smiling portrait of some goober in front of the Eiffel Tower.

    Far from it. Amit Gupta used a drone to take a 15-second video selfie of two friends, himself, and their dogs from atop Bernal Hill in San Francisco.

    The footage starts with the camera-equipped drone floating a dozen or so feet away from the three men. Then, whoosh! The drone takes off, flying higher and farther from the city until the men and their mutts are mere dots on the horizon.

    All in all, it's a stunning bit of videography and evidence that the selfie isn't dead yet.

    Of course, this isn't the first time somebody has shot a selfie with a drone. The Verge offers a nice roundup of some other drone selfies (dronies?), each of them worth a look.

    Below, an explainer on how the uber-popular "Superman With a GoPro"

    Read More »from Man uses drone to take spectacular selfie atop hill in San Francisco

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