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After finally deciding that Bill O’Reilly was so bad for business that it would be better to give him a few million dollars than to keep him on TV, Fox News fired the O’Reilly Factor host and cut all ties with the guy who was once the network’s top right-wing asshole. If anyone was worried about O’Reilly taking a literal page from his own book and getting revenge on the network that spurned him, though, there’s no need. As it turns out, he still has an outlet he can use to bring people his awful takes on current events: a podcast you have to pay for on his personal website.

This comes from Variety, which says he’s apparently been hosting his podcast—titled No Spin News—for “years,” but a banner on his website says that he’ll have a new episode available to ...

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Posted by Keith Wagstaff

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Well, this clears everything up. 

On Sunday, Donald Trump unveiled a lengthy, well-considered border security plan. 

Oops, sorry, I meant a few confusing tweets.

The Democrats don't want money from budget going to border wall despite the fact that it will stop drugs and very bad MS 13 gang members.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2017

Eventually, but at a later date so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying, in some form, for the badly needed border wall.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2017 Read more...

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Posted by Maria Gallucci

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What's better than clever protest signs? Protest penguins.

On Saturday, as thousands of people joined the March for Science worldwide, a group of penguins waddled in solidarity at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.

The aquarium shared the "March of the Penguins for Science" via Facebook Live. The post had nearly 1.7 million views by mid-afternoon on Sunday.

The March for Science movement was born in response to President Donald Trump's "clear anti-science actions," organizers said in January

The Trump administration has vowed to slash funding and staffing for federal scientific agencies. Top officials have repeatedly expressed hostility and skepticism toward robust, peer-reviewed, widely accepted research — including the scientific consensus on human-driven climate change. Read more...

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Posted by Laura Vitto

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In what was either a total delight, or a slight annoyance to his fellow travelers, Kenny G gave an impromptu in-air performance on his Saturday night flight from Tampa, Florida to Los Angeles.

Per TMZ, Kenny promised a mid-air performance if passengers would help the in-flight crew reach its goal of raising $2,000 for Relay for Life. 

When the flight crew reached its goal, the best-selling saxophonist broke out his instrument and performed while pacing up and down the aisle.

Tampa's WFLA News Channel 8 managed to snag footage. Hopefully at least half of these people really love adult contemporary: Read more...

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Posted by Brian Koerber

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For the love of Pinterest, please stop putting old ladders in your bathrooms, people.

The rise of HGTV and quaint-as-fuck-looking homes is a welcome change to what life was like before Chip and Joanna Gaines came into our lives. Who knew a few craftily distressed pieces of furniture and some industrial touches could make a normal apartment or home feel like it was just a few feet away from some grazing cattle? We all secretly want to live in Waco, but we'll settle with some mason jars. 

But we've gone too far, people. Among the ridiculous, rustic, and chic decor, rusty old lanterns turned into succulent planters, and shelves made out of industrial piping, there is one trend that must be stopped: reclaiming old ladders and putting them into bathrooms. Read more...

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Posted by Nicole Gallucci

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The Magic School Bus took some very important field trips this Earth Day, making stops at Marches for Science across the world.

As science lovers joined together at more than 500 events on Saturday to get their voices heard, everyone's favorite eccentric, fictional science teacher, Ms. Frizzle, became a prominent symbol in the resistance.

Dozens of science fans dressed up like The Friz and repped The Magic School Bus signs, proving even our most magical childhood dreams can come true if we're willing to "Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!"

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Posted by Adam Rosenberg

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Buried deep within the New York Times sprawling profile of Uber CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick is an unusual detail: he's a record-holding gamer.

"In other personal pursuits," the profile reads, "[Kalanick] once held the world’s second-highest score for the Nintendo Wii Tennis video game."

Unfortunately, that's all we get. There's no other detail in the profile to corroborate the claim, and Kalanick's name doesn't appear anywhere on Twin Galaxies, the organization that tracks video game high scores and world records.

The claim apparently goes back to an anecdote from Uber investor Chris Sacca. Back in 2015, the investor noted on Twitter that he'd "never, ever want to compete" with Kalanick. When pressed to expand on that comment, Sacca took to Medium with a story about his dad's failed attempt to beat Kalanick at the Wii Sports minigame. Read more...

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Posted by Noah Charney

holy grail chalice

(Credit: Getty Images/ estt)

I grew up playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, a screenless role-playing game in which you designed characters whose attributes were partially determined by rolling dice, and who you navigated through a fantasy world narrated by a Dungeon Master, who would make up the adventure and obstacles for you and your friends to overcome. This was catnip for 12-year-old boys, at least before video games got so ubiquitous, complex and engrossing that they offered a more immersive experience, all without requiring a human Dungeon Master and with the addition of buttons to click. Not just playing, but thinking about Dungeons & Dragons stimulated my young imagination, expanded my lexicon considerably (how many 12-year-olds use the words “dexterity” and “comeliness” in casual conversation?), and helped me become a writer and a designer of worlds in a way that the more passive experience of playing video games, no matter how impressive their virtual realities might be, does not.

I would spend evenings before bed thumbing through various manuals and encyclopedias of monsters and magical items that players could integrate into their Dungeons & Dragons adventures. I remember magic items like the Decanter of Endless Water (which pretty much does what it says on the tin), the Ring of Mammal Control (always useful), and the wonderfully named Philter of Glibness. We took these items very seriously, and that is likely why we found some of the parallel objects in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” so funny. The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch sounds just about like a magic item that some acne-riddled young Dungeon Master would put to use to do away with a carnivorous, throat-tearing bunny rabbit.

Which reminds me: Happy Easter!

Where am I going with this, you may wonder? There is indeed a link between the “magic items” of 1980s teenage imagination, bunny rabbits, Monty Python and Easter. The point of union is in religious relics: inanimate objects or parts of the bodies of saints thought to possess miraculous properties, or to imbue those who possess them with supernatural powers.

There was a lively trade in religious relics, particularly during the era of the Crusades, when Christian soldiers returned from the Holy Land carrying trophies acquired there. Some fragments of bone that made their way to the sacristies and reliquaries of Europe were surely once a part of this saint or that. Some were genuinely believed to be authentic by the homebound soldiers bearing them. Others were intentional forgeries, meant to impart prestige or profit. But the origin story, in the hands of a Crusader just returned from, say, Antioch, was sufficient to convince most. Visiting relics could lead to years peeled off of Purgatory or remission of sins, and the financial market in relics and sin-dismissal helped encourage Martin Luther to start the Reformation.

There are tens of thousands of reliquaries in European churches and aristocratic private collections; far too many pieces of the True Cross to actually be from a single cross, too many bones of one saint or another to comprise a single complete human body, and various rivals that each claim authenticity (see my past column on the Holy Lance). Some famous relics were denounced as forgeries by the Church itself, like the Shroud of Turin — it was proven by multiple independent laboratories to have been a 13th-century painting meant to look like Christ’s burial shroud, and yet it still draws millions of pilgrims determined to overlook science in favor of faith. I recently read Christopher Buckley’s “The Relic Master,” a novel of delightful fun (one which I kept thinking I should have written), about art theft and forgery and the Shroud of Turin in 16th-century Europe, starring Albrecht Dürer. It was about just this subject.

With the Easter season, I begin to wonder about that most famous of Christian relics, sought by the Nazis in real life and by Indiana Jones and Robert Langdon in the realms of fiction: the Holy Grail.

The Holy Grail, it turns out, is never mentioned in the Bible, nor in any of the biblical apocrypha. While it may have been referenced earlier, it is largely an invention of medieval Arthurian romances, with the first known written reference coming as late as 1190, in the fictional epic “Perceval, le Conte du Graal” by Chretien de Troyes. One of the early works of fan fiction, the romances of Wolfram von Eschenbach, who was inspired by Chretien de Troyes, described the grail as a stone that fell out of the sky. It was in the late 12th century that another poet, Robert de Boron, described the grail as the cup from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper, and which Joseph of Arimathea used to catch his blood at the crucifixion, in his epic “Joseph d’Arimathie.” This tied the word “grail,” which means an earthenware cup, to the idea of the Holy Chalice, which is referenced in the Bible (Matthew 26: 27-29). But the idea that this cup, which inspires the Eucharistic drinking of wine, appeared at the crucifixion, or that it possesses some supernatural properties, appears to be an invention of a poet living some 1,100 years after Christ.

That did not stop centuries of people from believing in it (and assuming that it had biblical origins). Certain Nazi high-ups, including Hitler and Himmler, believed that religious relics could grant magical powers — that they were real magic items in the vein of Dungeons & Dragons. Himmler’s supernatural research bureau, the Ahnenerbe, sponsored expeditions, led by scholar Otto Rahn, in search of the grail.

But has anyone found it? I mean, the real one?

There are several candidates. In the red corner, we have the Valencia Chalice, the santo caliz, preserved in a spectacular reliquary and visited by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. It is carved of blood-red agate with a base of chalcedony (a quartz-like stone), likely made in Palestine or Egypt around the 1st century BC or AD. In the green corner, we have the Sacro Catino, pride of Genoa Cathedral, which is hexagonal and made of green glass, discovered in Caesarea in 1101 but not described as the Holy Chalice (much less the Holy Grail) until the 13th century. It looks like something out of a sci-fi film from the 1950s. In 1432, it was described as having been carved out of “a single emerald,” and was looted by Napoleon in 1805, only returning to Genoa in 1816.

There is one major problem with these two leading candidates. A problem, it should be said, which has not inhibited the enthusiasm of those hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. As fans of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” will know, neither of these mega-expensive, elaborate chalices looks anything like the cup a voluntarily impoverished Jewish tekton circa 32 AD would drink from at a Passover seder with his equally humble friends.

Scholars agree that there was, indeed, a real person named Jesus of Nazareth who was executed by the Romans in Judaea — the only question, one of faith, is whether you believe that he was the Son of God. As an observant Jew who genuinely thought that he was the Messiah, the historical Jesus of Nazareth would have had a cup, and so logically if such an object existed, it is lost but might, conceivably, be found. There are “Da Vinci Code” enthusiasts who like the idea of the Holy Grail as a metaphor for Mary Magdalene or the offspring of Mary Magdalene and Jesus, in which case the hunt for a physical cup may not make much sense. But the very idea of the Holy Chalice, which does appear in the Bible, transforming into the idea of the Holy Grail only after a millennium had passed, is food for thought — we should probably not be thinking of the Holy Grail as anything more than an invention of high-end fan fiction twice-removed, written by a poet who was inspired by the Bible, of course, but also by Chretien de Troyes’ Arthurian Romances.

The Holy Chalice, however, surely existed. It’s up to you if you believe it was truly holy, a magic item, or rather simply a historical object of cultural importance. But whatever Jesus drank from at the seder before his execution, it was far more likely to be made of clay than of agate, glass or gold.

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Posted by Charlie May

Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 1.58.27 PM

After Fox News ousted Bill O’Reilly amid numerous allegations of sexual harassment, CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota provided details of her time working at Fox saying that she was sexually harassed by former chairman Roger Ailes.

“Yes, Roger Ailes did sexually harass me,” Camerota told host Brian Stelter on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday.

Ailes stepped down from Fox News in July after numerous women accused him of sexual harassment over the years, but he has denied all of the allegations. Camerota, who left Fox in 2014, said she doesn’t “relish the idea of talking about this” but that she believed it was the right time to come forward saying that the past week has been a “tipping point.”

Camerota said that she was never sexually harassed by O’Reilly but that Ailes was “often kind of grossly inappropriate with things that he would say, and I think that many of us experienced that. He would talk about body parts. He would say ‘Give me a spin.’ He would want to be greeted with a hug.”

“But the time that I remember most,” Camerota said, “was when I was first starting out at Fox and I was single, and I remember Roger, being in Roger’s office, and I was saying that I wanted more opportunity. He said ‘Well, I would have to work with you. I would have to work with you on that case. I would have to work with you really closely, and it may require us getting to know each other better, and that might have to happen away from here, and it might have to happen at a hotel. Do you know what I’m saying?’ And I said ‘Yeah, I think I do know what you’re saying.'”

At the time, Camerota said that she didn’t know what it meant for her, or her future career at Fox News and she wondered if she would be fired for not obliging. “I just went home and I didn’t tell anybody at the time because I was embarrassed,” she told Stelter.

After refusing Ailes’ advances she said that the way he treated her shifted to emotional harassment which included pressuring her to have more of a conservative voice on the air, “because he thought that I wasn’t reflecting the conservative agenda.”

Camerota did not believe that her duty as a journalist was to sound conservative or liberal, but rather “fair and balanced.”

“He said ‘there is no other side.’ In Roger’s world view, there was no other side. Liberals were always wrong, conservatives were generally right, and that’s what he felt that we should be reflecting on the air.”

By the end of her time at Fox Camerota said she refused to even go to Ailes’ office.

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Posted by Matt Kline

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Greasy, crumb-covered hands are a problem of the past for gamers. The 'Wype' hand rag is a quick any easy way to clean your hands. Whether eating popcorn or potato chips, the 'Wype' lets you get back to what you were doing quickly and without leaving a mess. Read more...

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