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Daily Download: August 16, 2013 (Scientology compound / suicide website / nifty maps / pool noodles)

Scientology’s ‘alien space cathedral and spaceship landing pad’ built in the New Mexico desert — This is cool!  Scientology apparently has a complex in New Mexico that includes a mile-long landing strip, purportedly for alien (or humas coming from space) landings, massive circles and diamonds etched in the ground to make sure the aliens (or humans returning to Earth after a nuclear catastrophe) can find the place, and a 3-story house built into a mountainside that supposedly has chambers and tunnels into the mountain for the safe keeping of L. Ron Hubbard’s writings.  That’s full blown sci fi movie material!  These Scientologists have great toys and parties and complexes!  Where do they come up with the money to do all of this and maintain it all?  My understanding of Scientology is that it’s very money-driven, but how many people have the cash to dump into their religion to build desert complexes like this and pay the staff to maintain them?  I wonder how much the custodian of this New Mexico complex gets paid to run a super-secret, end-times enclave.

Former Kansas City Star sports journalist creates website to explain his suicide — In what appears to be a first, someone has created an entire website to explain their suicide.  Sports journalist Martin Manley, who left the Kansas City Star in early 2012, killed himself Thursday on his 60th birthday in front of a police station.  Even more surreal than that, the website seems to point to a $200,000 treasure of his remaining gold and silver coins buried in an Overland Park, Kansas botanical garden, identified by GPS coordinates on his suicide website. Investigation has since shown the this treasure of coins was actually given away last year.  In the site, where he explains “Why suicide?” he notes that he doesn’t have any health issues driving the suicide, and under the “Health” link, he goes deep into his health history to show that he doesn’t have any major health issues.  But one report notes that he was “suffering from grapheme-color synesthesia and his mind was deteriorating rapidly”, although  he has a page about his synesthesia but doesn’t seem to have any concern about it beyond novelty.  I think the “mind was deteriorating rapidly” is actually a separate thought from the synesthesia discussion, as he discusses that he has memory problems but they don’t seem related to the synesthesia.  Regardless, the site he created to commemorate and explain his life and his ultimate suicide (there is also a mirror site — the site in general seems to have some issues and certain pages are inaccessible, and I can’t access a few of the pages on the main site or the mirror) has been prepaid for 5 years and is a pretty intriguing read, walking through his life story but also simply working through personal facts about himself that he finds worth remembering, even down to discussions of gun control, 9/11 conspiracies, his traffic ticket history, the benefits of living in Johnson County, Kansas and more.

Adverse possession (from Wikipedia) — I’m simply linking to the Wikipedia page on adverse possession because it’s a novel legal topic that I explained to a friend today.  It’s one of those things that you learn about early in law school in real property law, and when it’s explained to you, you ask, “Is that really legal?”  It’s essentially the idea that if you treat someone else’s property as yours and act like you own it for a continuous 10 year period, you can get a judge to enter an order that it’s now yours.  It lines up with the concept of “squatter’s rights”, but it’s actually something that’s come up quite a bit during my legal career.  There are several elements that must be fulfilled to have a successful claim for adverse possession and it can easily fall apart if you’re not diligent in pursuing your fake rights to property that isn’t yours.   The Wikipedia entry does a good job of walking through the particulars, but if you’re looking for a fun legal topic today to learn today, check out adverse possession.

40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World  — These maps are amazing.  They’re a great visual way to synthesize information and research from around the world.  I was enthralled.  Even cooler was the map of Pangea, the supercontinent made up of all other continents that was apparently  broken up by continental drift.  Back in third grade, I made the connection that the continents sure seemed like puzzle pieces, and this map is a concept of what it would look like with all the puzzle pieces put back together.

6 Silly But Clever Uses for Pool Noodles — As we start wrapping toward the end of summer, here is  a useful list of things you can do with pool noodles besides using them as pool noodles.  I like the floating drink barge idea.  But, beware, you’re going to have to cut up your pool noodles to make most of these work.


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