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    My Beautiful Shit-Denying Twisted Fantasy of a Disney Cruise
    Illustration by Angelica Alzona.

    If I ever kill anyone, I will kill them on a cruise ship.

    A cruise ship is a country unto itself, in which there are few laws besides “have fun” and “don’t fall overboard.” Even that last rule is more of a suggestion. Once you mime your way through the emergency procedures, then no more mention is made of reality and the boat casts off into open seas, where you are free to float and sunbathe and drink sugary drinks in a place of legal dissonance.

    The prevailing agreement on a cruise ships is that the laws that apply are the laws of the country where that boat is registered. The Bahamas, where most cruise ships are registered, doesn’t have HB-1 visa laws, which is why cruise staffs look like Benetton ads. US labor laws don’t apply either, which is at least part of the reason Laurie Dishman was raped by a security guard on a Royal Caribbean Cruise and nothing happened to her attacker. (In a statement to Congress, Dishman said the ship’s investigation was haphazard. By the time, Dishman arrived on shore and reported the case to the FBI, they told her it was a he-said-she-said.) In 2011, Rebecca Coriam disappeared from the Disney Wonder and was never found. An article in The Guardian by Jon Ronson about Coriam hinted at a cover-up—that Disney had whisked away a darker story with its patented magic.

    Coriam is just one of 273 people who have disappeared from cruise ships in the last 20 years. The investigations that followed have been complicated, to say the least, by murky international laws, competing jurisdictions, and the floating, jubilant crime scenes. You’d never know how few protections a person has on these boats when you’re lying there on a deck chair, watching your kids splash in a Mickey pool. You aren’t supposed to know. You don’t have to know anything. All the dishes are whisked out of sight, quickly. Your room is cleaned twice a day. Even when someone’s kid shits in the Mickey pool and the staff shuts it down, no one talks about it.

    I didn’t know about Rebecca Coriam when I booked a trip aboard the Disney Wonder with my husband for our tenth anniversary. We were just looking for a vacation we could take with our family, where we wouldn’t have to worry. Where things would be easy. Everyone we asked agreed, and every Google search confirmed—if you want magic, you go Disney. And after over five years of wiping up kid shit, we wanted the escape. We packed up our swimsuits and our kids. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law joined us.

    “Did someone poop in the pool again?” I asked the staff member on our second day at sea on the Disney Wonder. She was rinsing out the right ear of the Mickey pool, which itself was larger than three Walmart-special kiddie pools stuck together; the ears were separate from the large circumference of Mickey’s face, and babies liked to play in the ears best. The Mickey pool as a whole was frequently closed for mysterious reasons. The staff member frowned and shook her head. I sat down near another mom who was waiting, drink in hand. “Was it poop?” I asked. The mom shrugged. It was her second cruise on the boat, she told me. “I never know why they shut down the pool. We just go with it.”

    Even kid shit, the most pervasive of all a child’s bodily functions, is hidden when you are on board the Disney Wonder. And if it’s as Milan Kundera writes—that kitsch is the denial of shit—then the Disney Wonder is the epitome of kitsch. That’s the point of a cruise vacation: denying the shit. In this small floating island of wealth and comfort, Disney has created a fantasy land. It makes sense that they’d branch out into cruises; the inescapable and quietly menacing fantasy is exactly what they do.

    My Beautiful Shit-Denying Twisted Fantasy of a Disney Cruise
    Disney Magic, the company’s first cruise ship, arrives in Port Canaveral, Florida, July 15, 1998. Image via AP.

    As any lady with a sunburn and two kids can tell you, cruising with Disney is an unrivaled experience. Every detail is attended to. At some point, Disney discovered I was a writer and sent chocolates and nuts to my room every day. The cruise ship even offered us a scuba package when we landed on Castaway Cay, which is Disney’s own island in the Bahamas; they offered us a dinner out in the boat’s fanciest restaurant, Palo.

    The restaurant sits on the upper deck, near the adult pool, gym and spa—a place that is suddenly child-free in a way you barely even notice, as if all the children have been magically disappeared. They are somewhere on the boat, surely, ensconced in the magical Kids Club, and there’s an on-board phone the staff will use to contact you if your kid needs something, so you don’t even feel bad forgetting them for a moment. Your kid begged to leave you for Mickey-shaped ice cream bar and a 20-year-old dressed as Captain Hook.

    We didn’t use the scuba package, but we did go out for the dinner. The restaurant was all muted colors and sparkling glass and waiters who make you feel charming when you drop tuna carpaccio on the bright white tablecloth. The cuisine was not just Italian, but Northern Italian: a distinction that subtly made it even more classy. Drinking my limoncello cocktail, I felt like some classier version of the parent I was. Maybe my underwear wasn’t all from Target. Maybe I was important. I thought about how most people in my neighborhood and a few relatives don’t even know I’m a writer. But Disney did. Disney cares. Another woman I spoke to in the adults-only hot tub one night said that this was her fifth cruise on this same boat. “They remember me,” she said. “It always feels special.”

    She was from Georgia and worked in an office. She said she got chocolates in her room too. Realistically, she and I were sunburnt nobodies in a boat of the same: she was just another woman from Georgia, me just another Midwestern mom with a blog. But on the Disney Wonder we were suddenly transformed into something special. Like a wand had been raised and my cheap clearance-rack swimsuit cover up (chosen because it hid the inner tube of skin on my waist, a remnant from two babies in three years) transformed into a beautiful gown that immediately declared, she is special.

    But it wasn’t just me or this lady from Georgia, or the hundreds of other parents on the boat, who felt attended to. For example, the level of the boat where the “kids club” (it’s daycare, but more fun!) is located has a lower ceiling, and a tour guide explained that this is to ensure that the children feel confident in their space. Conversely, in the adult spaces, the ceiling is raised and made to look taller. The columns taper upward. This, according to the same tour guide, is to help adults feel more childlike. Somewhere between the faux-adult children and the childish parents and the shit-hiding and the incredibly diligent staff is where the magic happens.

    On the first night on the ship, just in case we were confused about our purpose here, the show on the mainstage laid out clearly exactly how we would all have fun. Onstage were two parents, a bossy mom and a bumbling dad, pulled along by their anxious boy (played by an adolescent-looking 20 year old). The boy was determined to become a sea captain, a goal we knew he would achieve because he “believed” in it. The tale was peppered with appearances by Mickey and Minnie and the cruise director, who all came onstage at regular intervals and outlined exactly how to have fun—we should tell our crew members to accommodate our needs; we should go to Cozumel and enjoy the shopping and the hiking and the dolphins. Shortly after, the boy was transformed into the ship’s captain, because, the crew sang, he believed in magic. At the end of the show the cruise director joked that Disney would soon be able to control the weather.

    The overall message of the presentation wasn’t a suggestion, it was a dictate: We were to enjoy ourselves. And as a parent of two small children, one of whom seems constantly determined to destroy us or himself, whichever comes first, I took that mandate seriously. Why wouldn’t I? I was tired. And having thoughtless fun doesn’t fit well with parenting. I remember those first fraught months, walking around holding my infant daughter, imagining all the ways she could die at my hands—I could fall and drop her, I could get into a car accident. What if the cabinet locks don’t work and she drinks shampoo? What if she falls down the stairs?

    Parenting is a territory marked out by the illusion of safe zones. In pregnancy, you breathe a sigh of relief when you are out of the miscarriage zone. When your baby is born, you look forward to your child being out of the SIDS zone. Then there is sleep training, potty training, kindergarten. Each milestone marks the exit from one danger zone, hopefully into a safer zone. But the grim reality eventually becomes apparent: the safe zone you’re looking for does not exist. Babies roll over in their sleep; they crawl over to light sockets; they grab for the bleach. They make friends with the kid who’ll get arrested on prom night; they get phones that open them to worlds you cannot control. They start texting. They start driving. There is always a threat.

    The death of a gorilla at the Cincinnati zoo after a four-year-old climbed into the enclosure prompted the resurgence of this same debate. Should a parent herself try to be her child’s safe zone? How well, how totally, can she be expected to succeed? Some demand that the mother of the child be investigated for neglecting her child. Others recounted the manifold times their children slipped away from them and fell out of trees, down stairs, into the woods only to be found later with a mouthful of poisoned berries. I thought about how my husband’s grandmother, who lost two of her adult children to cancer, once patted my arm and gently told me, “Once you are a parent, you are never safe.”

    Disney has always offered an escape from these dangers. In Disney movies, the good guys always win. Death always happens off screen, and even when Bambi’s mom bites it, or Simba’s father falls to his death, there is always vengeance, justice, new life. By the end of the movie, the illusion of safety feels total again.

    On the Disney Wonder, I luxuriated in it. The illusion worked. It’s an amazing feat to make a parent of two children feel safe on what is basically a trussed up pot of giardia stewing in an ocean of sharks. But every night I fell asleep—and early, even; what a world!—in a large comfortable bed, with the sound of the ship’s engine in the background. I felt ensconced in a safe and happy womb, and so did my kids. My four-year-old daughter skipped about the boat like she owned the place, begging to go to the kid’s club and eating multiple ice cream cones a day. My two-year-old toddled along the deck, his mouth stained with chocolate. The staff walked around him patting his head indulgently. All of this only yards away from where a woman disappeared. But how would we know? Whatever was being cleaned off of the sides of the pool or being washed off the deck, we’d never know what it actually was—popsicles or blood.

    My Beautiful Shit-Denying Twisted Fantasy of a Disney Cruise
    Mickey and Minnie welcome the Disney Dream to Port Canaveral, Florida, January 4, 2011. Image via Getty.

    The rules of Disney magic rely on some fundamental denials. At Disney World they hide the trash and there are underground tunnels so you can’t see Olaf take off his snowman head. The movies function on denials too—make Pocahontas a 20-year-old to give her the ability to consent to John Smith’s advances (although in real life she was kidnapped at 17 and later married John Rolfe). In the book, Mary Poppins is an ass, but in the Disney version of the movie they literally sing about how she’s so lovely. And the real Ariel dies and is turned into the sea foam. But there are larger denials that Disney relies on. The denial of cost. (Magic is for everyone, Disney declares on a boat that we paid thousands of dollars to step aboard.) The denial of shit. (Why was the Mickey Pool closed so often?) The denial of shadows. (Where is Rebecca Coriam?) The denial of danger.

    At the center of this is a larger denial, one that parents love to perpetuate themselves. Childhood is magic, says Disney, and we look at our precocious children, about whom we’ve learned to tell such charming stories, and we agree. We wonder at their simple hearts and clear heads. We mythologize their belief in magic. We forget that it’s easier to believe in magic when the world seems so beyond your control. When you have little choice or say about what happens to you.

    It’s still very dangerous to be a child, though less baldly than it used to be in the days before modern medicine, when it was normal for children to die all the time. Early cemeteries contain headstone after headstone that mark the same year for birth and death. Often there is no name. Death before vaccines was a simple fact of life. If an infant survived into childhood, scenes of death and violence awaited him outside his door; diseases and wars wiped out entire communities. It was impossible to hide death from children, so instead of Disney, kids fell asleep to more macabre stories.

    In the popular antebellum children’s book The Tragi-Comic History of the Burial of Cock Robin, Jenny Wren arranges a funeral for Cock Robin. The book teaches children about death, funeral rites and the etiquette of grief. A Sunday school tract titled “Heaven” published in the 1850s prepared children for death by depicting a conversation between a mother and son. “Is it not dreadful to die?” asks the boy. “Is it not dreadful to such as love God and do all they can to serve and please him?” answers the mother.

    It’s more fun, as Disney knows, to hide from all of this. It’s easier as a parent to tell your kid to marvel at the princesses without mentioning or explaining the fact that the same actress has been playing Tiana, Pocahontas, and Jasmine this whole time. The modern version of fun involves some mixture of luck, money and denial; innocence is like that, and safety, too.

    But luck is particularly capricious. A friend of mine lost her son just a month before his first birthday. The death was deemed SIDS, which didn’t feel like an answer. I told a friend recently how I brought my daughter and son to the funeral. “I’d never take my children to a funeral,” she said. Another time, a friend asked me not to talk about the death in front of her children, “I don’t want them to know about things like that,” she said.

    Disney is pulling back from the brink a little lately. There was Zootopia, which still had a happy ending, and Inside Out, a movie that flirts frequently with the bleak. My daughter chose Inside Out for her birthday party theme this year. The only movie-themed cake I could find said “Life is full of emotions, happy birthday” and I picked up some green balloons for her favorite character, Disgust. I joked that next year her birthday theme would be Freud: we’d have a phallic cake and the party game would be talking about our childhoods. For her seventh birthday, it would be nihilism, and there would be no cake or party, only a black hole.

    Why not? My daughter already knows about death, anyway. After the funeral of our friend, she had cried to me, worried that my father and I would leave her too. But death is a part of life, too. Darkness and shadows make the lightness lighter. It may be easier in some ways to try to maintain the illusion of magic, but it’s so expensive to do so. It requires so much denial, so many half-truths, to keep cleaning the Mickey pool of your kid’s life, pretending there’s never going to be any shit. This is kitsch as an approach to parenting. It works for about the length of a Disney cruise.

    Lyz Lenz has written for The Hairpin, The Toast, The New York Time Motherlode, and other various and sundry internet entities. Find her on twitter @lyzl.

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  • 08/01/16--12:44: Nice.
  • Nice.
    Image: Twitter

    This has been Nice.

    Previously in Nice:…

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    PR Firm Abruptly Lays Off Dozens, Blaming Rogue Financial Exec
    Photo: FB

    Last week, Coyne PR, a full-service firm with offices in New York, New Jersey, and L.A., abruptly laid off 14% of its staff, nearly 30 people. The company says it fell victim to a rogue Chief Financial Officer.

    A source told us that’s Coyne’s layoffs last week were “unexpected and sudden,” and that the remaining staff are now being asked to pick up the slack for departed coworkers. In addition to the layoffs, Coyne notified staffers in at least two July memos that their benefits are being cut. The company said it is “temporarily halting” its 401k matching program, canceling its health care co-pay reimbursement program, and is considering cutbacks to its employee life insurance and vision insurance plans. It is also trimming back its cell phone reimbursement plan and warning employees to be prudent with expense accounts.

    PR Firm Abruptly Lays Off Dozens, Blaming Rogue Financial Exec

    Tom Coyne, Coyne PR’s CEO and founder, largely confirmed our source’s account of the company’s troubles today, but characterized the layoffs as a “restructure” following an 18 month-long “hiring spree.” The strangest aspect of the company’s sudden troubles: Tom Coyne himself says that the company’s current financial issues are rooted in the behavior of its Chief Financial Officer, who was let go two weeks ago. (The firm hired Mike Sloan as CFO in May of 2014 and still lists himself as Coyne PR’s CFO. We have asked Sloan for a comment and will update if we hear back.)

    “He overstated projections,” Tom Coyne said. “We haven’t gotten to the bottom of it... Was he bad at his job, or was there more to it?” Coyne said the firm’s investigation into the CFO’s actions is ongoing, and that it is too early to know exactly when the troubles began or what their cause or motivation was.

    Whatever the source of the bizarre financial discrepancies, the wreckage at the firm now is very real. If you know more, email us.

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    Nick Denton, Founder and CEO of Gawker Media, Has Declared Bankruptcy
    Photo: AP

    Nick Denton, the British expatriate who independently founded Gawker Media in 2002 and has served as its chief executive officer for its entire 14-year history, filed today for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York.

    In March, a Florida jury found him culpable of invading the wrestler Hulk Hogan’s privacy, nearly four years after this website published excerpts of a tape in which Hogan can be seen having sex with Heather Clem, the wife of Hogan’s ex-best-friend, the Tampa-area radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge. The filing comes after several attempts on Denton’s part to temporarily halt the enforcement of the $140,100,000 verdict that jury handed down.

    Denton is personally responsible for $10 million, and jointly responsible, along with former Gawker editor A.J. Daulerio, and Gawker Media itself, for $115 million. Chapter 11 bankruptcy will prevent Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, from draining Denton’s bank accounts or seizing any of his assets. Gawker Media filed under the Chapter 11 statute in early June for the same reason. Both moves are intended to lay the groundwork for the company’s appeal of the jury’s verdict, in Florida’s Second District.

    Daulerio, who published the excerpts of the Hogan tape and adjacent commentary about its contents, is personally on the hook for an additional $100,000 in damages. At the trial, he told jurors he had a negative net worth, due to outstanding student loans. In an email to Gawker, he confirmed that he plans to file for bankruptcy as well.

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  • 08/01/16--13:45: Our Bernie Bros, Ourselves
  • Our Bernie Bros, Ourselves
    All photos: Gawker/Ashley Feinberg

    Reader, I went to Philadelphia to find the Bernie Bros. Instead, I found myself.

    As I made my way into Philly early last week, still exhausted from covering the RNC the week before, I was desperate for inspiration. Holding the conventions back-to-back, I discovered, is unbelievably cruel to journalists. I’d used up all my more general convention-related ideas back at the RNC, and worried I’d been spending the week writing without any purpose at all.

    Until, as if by divine providence, a Guy Fieri look-alike wearing a World Series of Poker t-shirt and Bernie pin puffed on his e-cig and blew a vape cloud straight into my heart. He would be my muse.

    Our Bernie Bros, Ourselves

    The plan: Throughout the course of my coverage, I’d spend the entire week spending time with and photographing the most elaborately decked out Bernie Bros the DNC could produce. There was already a pro-Bernie protest in full swing and the convention had barely even begun. Surely this would be easy, but more importantly, this would be fun.…

    The epistemologically questionable Bernie Bros are a cheap target, of course. Whether or not they really are aggressively online harassers driven primarily by sexism, whether they are a statistically significant portion of Sanders supporters, whether they actually exist in any of the other ways they are said to is beside the point. The idea of the Bernie Bro has become such a caricature of itself that the reality no longer matters. Just like Jesus or L. Ron Hubbard, the mythology surrounding the Bernie Bro has outstripped the banal or unknowable reality, coloring how we view anything that seems even tangentially related.

    Our Bernie Bros, Ourselves
    Our Bernie Bros, Ourselves

    Which is why, when I walked into the sweaty mass of people jostling each other for more oxygen and air time, I thought I knew exactly who I was dealing with. These were privileged, white, male youths who couldn’t take a little disappointment without causing a scene. As a Sanders supporter myself, I still looked upon them with disdain—these were the bad ones. Then I talked to them.

    I listened to one 20-something decked out in Bernie apparel tell me that, come November, he would be voting for Clinton: “I’m not an idiot. She’s not my first choice obviously, but she’s still worlds better than Donald Trump.”

    Another told me about how he’d be voting for Jill Stein in November, but only because he lives in Texas. “If I lived in a swing state, I’d feel obligated to vote Democrat. But since my vote doesn’t matter either way, I might as well use it to make a statement.”

    Our Bernie Bros, Ourselves

    The only people I found to be unreasonable—or at the very least, unwilling to have an actual discussion—were mostly older women who, for whatever reason, really hate Hillary Clinton. I asked the women in the photo above who they’d be voting for come November.

    “Never Hillary.”

    “Does that mean you’re voting for Trump?” I asked.

    “Never Hillary.”

    That’s as far as they were willing to go.

    Unlike, say, this guy:

    Our Bernie Bros, Ourselves

    He, too, is planning to vote for Hillary come November, though he was reluctant to get the actual words out. He’d still prefer a Jill Stein presidency over a Clinton one, of course, but he’s also “a reasonable person.” He cited all the hard work Bernie and his supporters have done to push the Democratic platform left as his main motivator. If Hillary doesn’t win, all that passionate campaigning will have been for naught. “At least it’s something,” he added.

    Our Bernie Bros, Ourselves

    Which is why, the next day, as delegates officially cast their votes and picked Hillary as the nominee, I had a harder time finding entertainment value in the weeping of the Bernie bros than I might have otherwise. Painting devastated Bernie voters as overdramatic crybabies would certainly have been a neat and convenient way to wrap up the Bro saga—and plenty of outlets did just that. Which is fine! God knows Gawker has gleefully covered all manner of tantrums with the best of them. But at the DNC, I found myself face to face with what these kids were actually feeling, and it wasn’t easy to mock.

    Our Bernie Bros, Ourselves

    The Bernie Bros I met, by the way, did largely consist of kids. The people screaming in the street and weeping in the arena ranged in age from about 18 to about 28. For most of them, this was probably the first election where they were able both to vote and to feel genuinely excited about a candidate who they believed might actually be able to make a positive difference in their lives. They let themselves care about something—a lot. Of course they were upset when that spring of hope ran dry.

    Our Bernie Bros, Ourselves

    Early in the week, I spotted a kid in a Star Wars-themed Bernie t-shirt which read, “Help us Bernie Sanders. You’re our only hope.” He was so mock-able! But how could I? What if Bernie really was his only hope? I would not be the one to quash the spirit of a young man who found something larger than himself to care about, who sought only to help bring about a better future for his both his and future generations, and who found himself swept up in a movement that briefly seemed poised to transform the country before it unceremoniously petered out. There’s nothing risible in having fought for something decent, losing, and feeling grief.

    I still think it’s OK to make fun of the bad shirts though.

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    Donald Trump Holds Impromptu Press Conference to Mock Another Fire Marshal
    Photo: AP

    After a fire marshal mysteriously enforced occupancy rules at a Donald Trump rally Monday, Trump held a press conference to mock the man for keeping people alive in a move that’s sure to reassure all the people living in or around Trump’s many properties.

    It’s not even the first time Trump has railed against a fire marshal for doing his or her job—yesterday, he interrupted his own Colorado Springs rally to insult the fire marshal who enforced the building’s occupancy maximum, saying “They don’t know what the hell they’re doing.” (Just thirty minutes before, the Colorado Springs Fire Department had rescued him from a stuck elevator, so it’s just lucky that didn’t happen after his rant.)

    This time, Trump explained, he only wanted to cram an additional 5,000 people into a 1,000-maximum occupancy room, which the Columbus, Ohio marshal denied for unspecified reasons. “Political reasons,” Trump said. “That’s politics at its lowest.”

    There are more than three more months until the general election.

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    Today's Best Deals: Bourne Films, Anker Lamps, Marriott Mattress Toppers

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    Last year’s Vizio M-Series 4K TVs are among the most popular televisions we’ve ever posted, and the 55" model is marked down to $599 today, the best price we’ve ever seen. Head over to Gizmodo to get an idea why these sets were so well-received.…

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    LG 60" 4K Smart TV, $800

    If you need an excuse to upgrade to 4K, BuyDig’s eBay storefront is selling a 60" LG smart TV for $800 today, or $200 less than Amazon.

    Today's Best Deals: Bourne Films, Anker Lamps, Marriott Mattress Toppers
    TechMatte MagGrip, $4 with code FVLTMXX2 | 2-Pack, $7 with code WS7CCNNW | TechMatte MagGrip 360, $6 with code 8GORHD3N

    Vent-mounted magnets have emerged as the most popular method of attaching your smartphone to your dashboard, and two different mounts from TechMatte are on sale for all-time low prices today.…

    The standard mount is down to $4 right now with promo code FVLTMXX2, or you can get two for $7 with promo code WS7CCNNW. If your vents are positioned at an odd angle, a swiveling version is available for $6 with code 8GORHD3N, matching an all-time low. I’ve owned one of these for over a year, and even with a hefty iPhone 6s Plus, it works great.………

    Today's Best Deals: Bourne Films, Anker Lamps, Marriott Mattress Toppers

    Anker, purveyor of your favorite battery packs, charging cables, and Bluetooth speakers, also makes your favorite LED desk lamps, and three of them are on sale today.…

    The standard Lumos lamp includes four different lighting temperatures for different times of the day, as well as five dimming modes, and even a USB charging port for your phone. We see a lot of deals on desk lamps, and $37 is a great price for that feature set.………

    Think you can live without the shifting color temperature and the USB charging port? The affordable Lumos A1 is available for $20, down from $26.……

    If only the best will do, the Lumos E1 is also on sale for $49, an all-time low by $10 (use code YPNSBBCY). Compared to the standard Lumos, the E1 includes brighter bulbs, an extra color temperature setting, an extra dimming level, and a second charging port.…

    Today's Best Deals: Bourne Films, Anker Lamps, Marriott Mattress Toppers
    AmazonBasics AC-Powered Speakers, $12 | AmazonBasics USB-Powered Speakers, $12

    If your computer’s built-in speakers aren’t cutting it, you can choose from two different AmazonBasics models for $12 each today. The AC-powered speakers normally sell for $20, and put out 5W of combined power, while the USB models normally sell for $14, and only have 3W of power. There are certainly louder and better audio solutions out there, but even at $12, these should blow away the little speaker built into your laptop.…

    Today's Best Deals: Bourne Films, Anker Lamps, Marriott Mattress Toppers
    Sony 64GB MicroUSB Flash Drive, $15

    $15 is a solid price for a 64GB USB 3.0 flash drive, especially when you consider that this one includes a microUSB plug to connect to your Android devices. That’s perfect for storing videos to watch on your tablet during a long flight, or sharing large amounts of vacation photos from your phone without using a computer.

    Today's Best Deals: Bourne Films, Anker Lamps, Marriott Mattress Toppers
    DYMO LabelManager 160, $10

    Update: Sold out at $10

    It might not be mission-critical equipment for your home, but a good label maker is a nice gadget to keep around, and the popular DYMO LabelManager 160 is back in stock for just $10 today, matching an all-time low.

    If you remember the old label makers that literally pressed the letters into a piece of tape, this is a bit more advanced than what you’re picturing. The Dymo LabelManager 160 can print in eight fonts at six sizes, along with clipart and special characters, and you can even preview the entire label on its LCD screen before you print. Every time we post this deal, it sells out quickly, so you’ll want to grab yours quickly.

    Today's Best Deals: Bourne Films, Anker Lamps, Marriott Mattress Toppers
    Ivation Electric Countertop Food Dehydrator, $80

    Have you tried to buy jerky lately? It’s expensive as hell! Luckily, you can make your own at home with this $80 electric dehydrator. Of course, it’ll also work with herbs and vegetables as well. Just note that this is a Gold Box deal, so be sure to order yours before the deal dries up.…

    Today's Best Deals: Bourne Films, Anker Lamps, Marriott Mattress Toppers
    Philips Hue Iris, $50

    Update: Sold out

    While most Hue lights are standard bulbs that screw into your existing lamps, the Hue Iris is a standalone lamp that you point at a wall to bathe it in color. It’s backordered right now, but $50 is the best price we’ve ever seen, and $25 less than usual.…

    Note: You’ll need a Hue Bridge for this to work.

    Today's Best Deals: Bourne Films, Anker Lamps, Marriott Mattress Toppers
    Xbox One Elite Controller, $130

    The Xbox One Elite controller is ridiculous and indulgent and...maybe actually worth it? It rarely goes on sale, but B&H is taking $20 off today.…

    If you have Amazon gift cards to spend, it’s also $15 off there.…

    Today's Best Deals: Bourne Films, Anker Lamps, Marriott Mattress Toppers
    Hoover Sprint QuickVac Vacuum, $39

    The popular Hoover Sprint bagless upright vacuum is only $39 today, and includes more features than you might expect, including an accessory hose, adjustable brush height, and a true HEPA filter. That’s a pretty great package for the price.…

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    Acer Chromebook CB3-131, $150

    This Acer Chromebook doesn’t have the best specs, but it’s only $150 today, and will support Android apps. If you’re in the market for a portable laptop for travel with great battery life, you could do worse.……

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    NewAir 28 Bottle Wine Cooler, $171

    You know those fancy, expensive kitchens that have their own wine fridges? Turns out, you can get your own 28 bottle model for a relatively affordable $171. It’ll actually cost more than that to fill it with wine.…

    Today's Best Deals: Bourne Films, Anker Lamps, Marriott Mattress Toppers
    Mobil 1 5W-30 5 Quart Synthetic Motor Oil, $23

    If your car takes synthetic oil, and you like to change it yourself, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better deal than $23 for five quarts of Mobil 1 5W-30, complete with Prime shipping.…

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    30% off decor at ModCloth with code DECOR8.

    ModCloth may be known for the kitschy, unique, vintage-inspired clothing that’s all over your Instagram, but their home goods selection is unmatched. Everything from a T-Rex head to mount to your wall, to adorable floral rugs, grab 30% off all decor at ModCloth with the code DECOR8 and get twee with it.

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    20% Off New Styles at ASOS

    It’s officially August, which means summer is almost over. If you, like me, are thankful for this fact, than this 20% off sale at ASOS is right up your alley. Shop new styles, which range from coated denim to bomber jackets. There are even some bathing suits in there for those who aren’t quite ready to let go of the season.

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    Escort Max II Radar Detector, $400

    Escort’s Max II is one of the most advanced radar/laser detectors you can buy, and $400 is the best price Amazon’s ever offered. If it saves you from a few speeding tickets, it’ll have paid for itself.

    Today's Best Deals: Bourne Films, Anker Lamps, Marriott Mattress Toppers
    Lodge 10.5" Square Cast Iron Skillet, $22

    In the past few days, we’ve seen deals on a Lodge cast iron dutch oven and drop biscuit pan (both of which are still available), but today, it’s their 10.5" square skillet that’s on sale.……

    Today's Best Deals: Bourne Films, Anker Lamps, Marriott Mattress Toppers
    CAP Barbell 110 Pound Weight Set, $90

    I think this 110 pound barbell set is worth ordering just to see the look on your delivery guy’s face when he hauls it to your door.…

    CAP’s doorway chin-up bar is also on sale today for $10.…

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    6-Pack Anker PowerLine MicroUSB Cables, $13

    Anker’s kevlar-wrapped PowerLine cables have been an immediate hit with our readers, and you can upgrade your entire microUSB cable collection today with this $13 6-pack. That’s a match for the lowest price ever on this pack, which includes two 1' cables, three 3', and one 6'.……

    iPhone owners can also grab a 9' (non-PowerLine) Anker Lightning cable for $10.…

    Today's Best Deals: Bourne Films, Anker Lamps, Marriott Mattress Toppers
    DJI Phantom 3 Professional + Extra Battery + Carrying Case + 2TB Hard Drive, $899

    The new DJI Phantom 4 sure looks impressive, but for $500 less, you can pick up the still-completely-amazing Phantom 3 Professional today, plus a spare battery, a carrying case, and even a 2TB external hard drive. To put it simply, that’s one of the best drone deals we’ve ever seen.…

    You’ll lose out on features like the (finnicky) accident avoidance, but the camera is still 4K, and it’ll last over 20 minutes on a single charge.

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    ChefLand 13-Piece Bar Set, $16

    Here’s everything you need to make fancy-ass drinks at home for just $16. Except, you know, the booze.…





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    Now Jill Stein Thinks Wi-Fi Might Be Hurting Kids
    Illustration by Alex Cranz

    Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for President, has already said there are “real questions” about whether vaccines cause autism in children. Now a video has surfaced where Stein says that wi-fi in schools might be harming kids.

    Stein is really turning out to be the anti-science candidate in this election. And it’s a competitive field, since Trump denies climate change!

    We’ve transcribed the portion of the video where they discuss wi-fi and computer screens below. The video appears to date from March of 2016.

    Person from crowd: My school district is rapidly moving towards one-to-one computers. Can you speak to the health issues? [inaudible with clapping]

    Jill Stein: Wonderful, health issues... social issues... you name it. But to be staring at screens... we already know that kids who get put in front of TVs instead of interacting, this is not good in all kinds of ways. And it’s just not good for their cognitive, it’s not good for their social development, I mean, that is incredible that kids in kindergarten... We should be moving away from screens at all levels of education, not moving into them.

    And this is another corporate ruse. This is another gimmick to try to make a buck. To make big bucks in fact. And education, and teachers, and communities suffer. So we need to stand up to that.

    Person from crowd: What about the wireless?

    Jill Stein: We should not be subjecting kids’ brains especially to that. And we don’t follow that issue in this country, but in Europe where they do, they have good precautions around wireless—maybe not good enough, because it’s very hard to study this stuff. We make guinea pigs out of whole populations and then we discover how many die. And this is like the paradigm for how public health works in this country and it’s outrageous, you know.

    To be clear, wi-fi has not been shown to harm humans in any way. Jill Stein is not the protest vote you’re looking for.

    [Hattip to Jason Emory Parker on Twitter]

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    Warren Buffett Slams Donald Trump on Tax Returns: “He’s Afraid”

    At a Clinton campaign rally in Omaha on Monday, billionaire investor Warren Buffett challenged Donald Trump to a game of rich guy “you show me yours and I’ll show you mine,” offering to exchange tax returns with the Republican nominee at “any time, any place.”…

    “I’ve got news for him, I’m under audit too,” said Buffett, according to Politico. “I’ll bring my tax return. He can bring his tax return. Nobody is going to arrest us.”

    Trump has previously refused to release his tax returns because they are currently under audit, an explanation the IRS has basically dismissed as bogus. From Politico:

    “There are no rules against showing your tax returns and just let[ting] people ask questions about the items that are on there,” Buffett said, before asking the boisterous crowd, “How many of you would be afraid to have your tax return made public?”

    “You’re only afraid if you got something to be afraid about. He’s not afraid of the IRS. He’s afraid because of you. I will meet him in Omaha or Mar-a-Lago or he can pick the place,” Buffett offered. “We’re both under audit. And believe me, nobody will stop us from talking about what’s on those returns. Send the word to him, if you will.”

    Buffett went on to criticize Trump’s treatment of Khzir and Ghazala Khan, parents of Army Captain Humayun Khan, saying, “Donald Trump and I haven’t sacrificed anything.”

    “No member of the Buffett family has gone to Iraq or Afghanistan. No member of the Trump family has gone to Iraq or Afghanistan,” said Buffett. “How in the world can you stand up to a couple of parents who have lost a son and talk about sacrificing because you were building a bunch of buildings?”

    “When I heard that, my mind went back—and this goes back before most of you were born—but they went back to the McCarthy hearings,” Buffett continued. “McCarthy went on and on, implying this guy was a communist and doing all kinds of things. And finally, Joe Welch couldn’t take it anymore and he said and I’ll quote him, ‘Have you no sense of decency, sir?’ I ask Donald Trump: ‘Have you no sense of decency, sir?’”

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    Cops: Teen Who Fatally Shot 3 at Party Was Jealous After Losing "Dream Girl"
    Screencap: KOMO News

    Police say that the 19-year-old Washington man who shot and killed three former classmates at a house party in suburban Seattle on Saturday was motivated by jealousy over an ex-girlfriend, one of the victims, KOMO News reports.

    According to a probable cause statement, Allen Ivanov bought the AR-15 he used to kill the victims about a week before the shooting. To operate the weapon, Ivanov reportedly sat in his car across the street from the crime scene to read the rifle’s instruction manual before the attack. From CBS News:

    Ivanov, 19, told police he had dated [19-year-old Anna] Bui for about a year and a half but broke off the relationship about two months ago because he needed time to work on himself, the documents say. After the breakup, Ivanov said he received “hurtful” Snapchat messages from Bui indicating that she was getting on with her life without him, which made him jealous, the documents said.

    Ivanov said he decided he wanted to get back together with Bui, the documents say, and the two spent some time together during the week before the shooting. Ivanov said he thought things were “going well” and thought there was a chance they could get back together, but he became angry when he heard from peers that Bui was dating others.

    The documents also indicate that Ivanov gave a few indications of his troubling intent: He texted someone last week in Tennessee “regarding committing a mass shooting;” he posted on Twitter, “What’s Ruger gonna think” - an apparent reference to the manufacturer of his rifle; and that he told his supervisor at an electronics store on Friday that the previous night he had put the rifle in the trunk of his car and gone to a quiet spot and just sat.

    According to Mukilteo Police Detective John Ernst, Ivanov was watching Bui—whom he described as his “dream girl” and first kiss—through an outside window on Saturday when he was discovered by a party attendee. From KIRO:

    “The male said, ‘No, no no,’” Ernst wrote. “Ivanov stated that he was ‘scared,’ he flipped the selector switch to fire and shot the male. He stated that at that point it was too late to turn back, and once he had pulled the trigger his adrenaline kicked in.”

    Ivanov said he entered the house through a side door, found Bui and shot her twice, then continued through the house, saw through the front door another man running toward the house and shot him, according to the probable-cause statement. From a balcony off the master bedroom, he said, he shot at two more men in the driveway before going onto the roof, realizing his magazine was empty and fleeing.

    In the end, Bui, 19-year-old Jordan Ebner and 19-year-old Jake Long were dead and 18-year-old Will Kramer was seriously injured. Police say Ivanov confessed to the killings.

    Ivanov is currently being held on suspicion of two counts of first-degree murder, one count of aggravated first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder. If convicted, Ivanov could face the death penalty, KOMO News reports.

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  • 08/02/16--04:20: 97 Days and a Wake Up
  • 97 Days and a Wake Up
    Notes for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign rally in—you guessed it—Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Photo: AP

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    Donald Trump Prepares to Lose the Election
    Photo: AP

    “I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest,” Donald Trump said at a campaign event in Columbus, Ohio, on Monday, the Associated Press reports. The Republican nominee did not offer specifics, although he said that he’s been hearing “more and more” (from who??) that this is the case.

    He followed up with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Monday night: “November 8th, we’d better be careful, because that election is going to be rigged. And I hope the Republicans are watching closely or it’s going to be taken away from us.”

    According to the AP, this is an unprecedented claim by a modern presidential candidate from a major party. Even so, it shouldn’t be surprising: In April, after losing primaries in Colorado, North Dakota, and Iowa to Ted Cruz’s delegate maneuvering, Trump accused the Republican party of trying to sabotage him.

    “Our Republican system is absolutely rigged. It’s a phony deal,” Trump said at the time. “They wanted to keep people out. This is a dirty trick.” As it turned out, this was an effective argument. More recently, he has tried to court disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters by calling Hillary Clinton “the devil,” with whom the Vermont senator “made a deal.”…

    Speaking of dirty tricks, in an interview with Breitbart podcaster Milo Yiannopoulos longtime Trump confidante and advisor Roger Stone outlined last week how he’d like to see the purported billionaire handle his impending defeat. From Breitbart:

    “I think we have widespread voter fraud, but the first thing that Trump needs to do is begin talking about it constantly,” Stone said. “He needs to say for example, today would be a perfect example: ‘I am leading in Florida. The polls all show it. If I lose Florida, we will know that there’s voter fraud. If there’s voter fraud, this election will be illegitimate, the election of the winner will be illegitimate, we will have a constitutional crisis, widespread civil disobedience, and the government will no longer be the government.’”

    “If you can’t have an honest election, nothing else counts,” he continued. “I think he’s gotta put them on notice that their inauguration will be a rhetorical, and when I mean civil disobedience, not violence, but it will be a bloodbath. The government will be shut down if they attempt to steal this and swear Hillary in. No, we will not stand for it. We will not stand for it.”

    Stone’s commitment to non-violent resistance is most admirable. Meanwhile, the crisis of legitimacy continues apace.

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    Smirking Goon Eric Trump Says His Father Has Apologized to the Khans and Moved On
    Photo: AP

    Eric Trump, whose media-training software maybe needs some reprogramming, appeared on “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing feud between his father and the Gold Star Khan family. “Would your father be willing to apologize and move on?” CBS co-host Norah O’Donnell asked him. The answer to this question, obviously, is “no,” but that is not what Eric said.

    “I think that’s a great question for him, and he has by calling them a hero,” Eric replied. That is actually not an apology, and the Republican presidential candidate certainly has not moved on.…

    Co-host Gayle King asked, “Is it difficult for your father to apologize?” The answer to this question, by Donald’s own account, is “yes,” although again that was not Eric’s answer. “My father’s a fighter,” Eric said. (That is absolutely not what his father is.) “I think that’s what this country needs is a fighter. And I think he was attacked the other day—he was attacked viciously—and by the way, that’s politics. You’re going to get attacked.”

    “Who tells your father he’s wrong?” Charlie Rose asked. “We can tell him he’s wrong,” Eric lied, laughing and stammering.

    Rose followed up: “When’s the last time you told him he’s wrong?”

    “Listen, we do it respectfully, we go back and forth as a family,” Eric said, describing something that has almost certainly never happened. “I think that’s actually the benefit of having children be part of this process.”

    Returning to the Khans, King asked, “Do you think he’s wrong on this?”

    “I think this is something that’s honestly blown hugely out of proportion,” Eric said.

    Incidentally, it is telling that a Trump would perceive someone sticking to their principles as viciousness.

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  • 08/02/16--06:45: Nice.
  • Nice.


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    Letters From Death Row: Texas Inmate Jeff Wood, Scheduled to Die This Month
    Image by Sam Woolley

    We periodically publish letters from death row inmates who are approaching their execution dates. Today we hear from one of the few Americans scheduled for execution despite never personally killing anyone.

    Jeff Wood is a 43-year-old man who has been on death row in Texas since 1998. He is currently scheduled to be executed on August 24.

    Wood was sentenced to death for his role in the robbery and murder of a gas station attendant in 1996. Wood served as the getaway driver and did not participate in the actual murder, but was sentenced to death under the Texas “law of parties.” Notably, he is one of only a small handful of Americans in modern history who may be executed despite not killing anyone. The circumstances of Wood’s case, and his reported IQ of 80, have caused many to argue that he should not be executed.

    Wood’s reply to our letter, which asks a standard set of questions about his life on death row, his past, and his thoughts on the media and the criminal justice system, is transcribed below.

    Howdy Hamilton

    How are you & your loved ones? Good I hope. I received your letter and I am responding. NO I am 100% innocent. No my trial was rigged & my so called att sucked. My arrest was bogus they falsely arrested me on a fake warrant for another crime that I didn’t do and it was dropped. You deal with it or you kill yourself that’s how ya deal with it or take drugs- alcohol to make you forget where you are. I don’t fear anything exp. when I have no control over it. Daily life is 22-24 hours in a 8-10 cell. I have no routine I do what comes up. Depends I write, read, listen to radio, draw. Depends on mood. Hell naw [over]

    Letters From Death Row: Texas Inmate Jeff Wood, Scheduled to Die This Month

    I don’t have no fitness routine (why) I got a death sentence, I ain’t trying to impress anyone. No they change eating times all the time (but) breakfast is between 2:30 AM-4:30 AM Lunch 9:30 AM-11:15 AM Supper 2:30 PM- 4:30 PM. If you got $ for food you eat when you want. Most get along ok (but) a lot are liars & backstabbers so it depends who ya are around, some snitches. Ya deal with it or you deal with them. I grew up to hunt, fish, play sports I was very good & could have gone to college, pro in sports but I had a kid and tried to stay but this happened. I could outfish & hunt 95% of pros in world. I can outshoot most snipers (but) I was taught not to miss cause you go hungry.

    Letters From Death Row: Texas Inmate Jeff Wood, Scheduled to Die This Month

    Yes there was phys abuse with belt & razor strap (but) there was more better than worse. My mom left us & sold us back to my so its another sad story and I am not one to play on the sad story stuff. I don’t deal in politics its all corrupt & police & the government military to religion: leave done cause no matter if you try to point stuff out to people you can’t change there mind when it’s set so I don’t care what people choose for religion. You treat me with respect you get respect. Media puts what they want or think will sell that’s crap too. If you do an interview put what I say all of it or nothing don’t paste & cut it. Cause that makes us look bad. It’s all about $, ratings for yall.

    Letters From Death Row: Texas Inmate Jeff Wood, Scheduled to Die This Month

    But I still try to help you cause I know yall got to eat & have kids, bills etc. (I wish) I could get Oprah, CNN, Dateline, Ellen, Dr. Phil TV time cause I would not be here. I could point out so much corruption, errors on lawyers, judges, DA etc it’s unreal, and it’s all proveable. If people care hear & get my side of things not go on what state, police say cause we are all guilty to them. If they really did a big 1-2 hr video or more there ratings would be good & it might get me help. But 99% of the no name media, newspeople ask questions. To me the bigger air time the better for me. Others I can’t say cause I don’t get into there [legal?] cases. If people look into my case they all say I was railroaded, I shouldn’t be here [over]

    Letters From Death Row: Texas Inmate Jeff Wood, Scheduled to Die This Month

    Even the victim’s family don’t want me here. (but) no one does anything that’s what I don’t get all these people say stuff but don’t help so (I guess) I really don’t mean that much to them. I got X law professors, students, cops, DA, lawyers all saying I have done wrong (why not) help then? I don’t get it. If I had a real law firm I would get out. Period. Ok that’s it for your letter.



    Letters From Death Row: Texas Inmate Jeff Wood, Scheduled to Die This Month


    Our entire “Letters from Death Row” series can be found here.

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    NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton to Announce Resignation
    Photo: AP

    NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton will resign today, ABC News reports, just a week after Bratton announced he would retire in 2017.

    Dozens of demonstrators, led by the Black Lives Matter group Millions March, “occupied” City Hall Park on Monday, calling for Bratton’s firing and the abolishment of the police, apparently hoping to touch off a sort of Occupy Wall Street-style movement on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s doorstep.

    Bratton, the progenitor of the controversial “broken windows” theory of policing, has long been the target of civil rights activists’ ire, although it’s hard to say that his impending resignation has anything to do with the current protests.…

    The commissioner will be replaced by James O’Neill, NY1 reports, the current Chief of Department and a member of the NYPD since 1983. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bratton will return to the private sector.

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    “In a letter to the AP, the government acknowledged ***the effectiveness of flossing had never been researched***.” Today is the day you stop flossing and start living.

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    Donald Trump Loves Babies—Just Kidding

    Here is something that actually just happened, per CBS News reporter Sopan Deb:


    Trump: Don’t worry about that baby, I love babies. I love babies. I hear that baby crying. I like it. What a baby, what a beautiful baby. Don’t worry, don’t worry. The mom’s running around—don’t worry about it, you know. It’s young and beautiful and healthy and that’s what we want.


    Trump: Actually, I was only kidding. You can get the baby out of here. That’s alright. Don’t worry. I think she really believed me that I love having a baby crying while I’m speaking?! That’s okay, people don’t understand. That’s okay.

    Just kidding—ya fuckin’ idiot.

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