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Every year, 7,290,000 gallons of Slurpee are consumed worldwide — enough to fill 12 Olympic-size pools.
For all the risky adventures Bran Ferren has chased in the past six decades—a list that includes a variety of hazardous undertakings, from traveling through Afghan war zones to working in Hollywood—there was one highly perilous pursuit he never dared take on: parenthood.
“Having a family,” Ferren says, “wasn’t a priority.” It’s a late-summer afternoon, and Ferren—celebrated inventor, technologist, former head of research and development for Disney’s Imagineering department—is sitting inside a guesthouse-slash-storage facility on his ample East Hampton, New York, spread, drinking his third or fourth Diet Coke of the day.
He’s 61 years old and towering, with a wily-looking red-gray beard and dressed in his everyday uniform of khaki pants, sneakers, and a billowy polo shirt. Ferren is the cofounder and chief creative officer of Applied Minds, a world-renowned tech and design firm whose on-the-record customer list includes General Motors, Intel, and the US Air Force; before that he worked on everything from Broadway shows to theme park rides.
But today Ferren is focused on his most important client: his 4-year-old daughter, Kira, who is just a few yards away, traipsing across the garden with a pal. Several years ago, when Ferren was still in his midfifties—a time when many men are easing into their grandfather phase—his partner of more than 25 years, Robyn Low, told him that if he ever wanted to have a kid, the time was now.
Finally having a child became a priority, and in 2009 Kira was born. It took Ferren a while to adjust to fatherhood. He had to scale back on the hazardous work trips, and he had to curtail some of his more treacherous leisure activities, like racing motorcycles and flying helicopters.
“I thought, what will it be like for my daughter if I end up becoming a cripple or dropping dead, doing something like that when she’s 4 years old? It changes your perspective.” The sacrifices, though, are worth it. “Everyone says, ‘Well, you’ve never felt love like this before,’” Ferren says. “It turns out to all be absolutely correct.”
Micheline Bérnard always loved Lionel Desormeaux. Their parents were friends though that bonhomie had not quite carried on to the children.
Micheline and Lionel went to primary and secondary school together, had known each other all their lives—when Lionel looked upon Micheline he was always overcome with the vague feeling he had seen her somewhere before while she was overcome with the precise knowledge that he was the man of her dreams.
In truth, everyone loved Lionel Desormeaux. He was tall and brown with high cheekbones and full lips. His body was perfectly muscled and after a long day of swimming in the ocean, he would emerge from the salty water, glistening.
Micheline would sit in a cabana, invisible. She would lick her lips and she would stare. She would think, “Look at me, Lionel,” but he never did.
When Lionel walked, there was an air about him. He moved slowly but with deliberate steps and sometimes, when he walked, people swore they could hear the bass of a deep drum. His mother, who loved her only boy more than any other, always told him, “Lionel, you are the son of L’Ouverture.”
He believed her. He believed everything his mother ever told him. Lionel always told his friends, “My father freed our people. I am his greatest son.” In Port-au-Prince, there were too many women. Micheline knew competition for Lionel’s attention was fierce. She was attractive, petite. She wore her thick hair in a sensible bun.
On weekends, she would let that hair down and when she walked by, men would shout, “Quelle belle paire de jambes,” what beautiful legs, and Micheline would savor the thrilling taste of their attention. Most Friday nights, Micheline and her friends would gather at Oasis, a popular nightclub on the edge of the Bel Air slum. She drank fruity drinks and smoked French cigarettes and wore skirts revealing just the right amount of leg.
Lionel was always surrounded by a mob of adoring women. He let them buy him rum and Cokes and always sat at the center of the room wearing his pressed linen slacks and dark tee shirts that showed off his perfect, chiseled arms.
At the end of the night, he would select one woman to take home, bed her thoroughly, and wish her well the following morning. The stone path to his front door was lined with the tears and soiled panties of the women Lionel had sexed then scorned.
On her birthday, Micheline decided she would be the woman Lionel took home. She wore a bright sundress, strapless. She dabbed perfume everywhere she wanted to feel Lionel’s lips. She wore high heels so high her brother had to help her into the nightclub.
When Lionel arrived to hold court, Micheline made sure she was closest. She smiled widely and angled her shoulders just so and leaned in so he could see everything he wanted to see within her ample cleavage. At the end of the night, Lionel nodded in her direction. He said, “Tonight you will know the affections of L’Ouverture’s greatest son.”
Last week, we learned from the Associated Press that USAID (United States Agency for International Development) — the government agency which manages billions in overseas “humanitarian” aid programs — plotted to overthrow Cuba’s communist regime via a covertly-funded fake Twitter platform.
The idea was to get Cuba’s youth to sign up for ZunZuneo (Cuban slang for the sound hummingbirds make—get it?) without anyone knowing about USAID’s involvement, get the kids hooked on pointless tweeting, collect all sorts of data on the users, and then rile them into an anti-regime rage — a “Cuban Spring” revolution.
Presumably the US government had been studying Twitter’s ability to supercharge its users with outrage vapors here in the Free World, where legions of credulous idiots spend their waking hours chasing the outrage dragon. It was only a matter of time before some DC spooks and Northern Virginia contractors would see the angles.
Of course, the ZunZuneo plan failed. ZunZuneo collapsed, a bunch of money went missing (likely into the coffers of the Castro regime’s state-controlled telecoms firm, or so they say), and the Communist Cuban menace still threatens the Free World’s slick underbelly.
The thing is, all of that ice takes a long time to melt. As of April 10, 48 percent of the five lakes’ 90,000-plus square miles were still covered in ice, down from a high of 92.2 percent on March 6 (note that constituted the highest levels recorded since 1979, when ice covered 94.7 percent of the lakes). Last year, only 38.4 percent of the lakes froze over, while in 2012 just 12.9 percent did – part of a four-year stint of below-average iciness.
And as the Great Lakes slowly lose their historically large ice covers over the next few months, the domino effects could include lingering cold water, delayed seasonal shifts, and huge jumps in water levels.
In an unlikely corner of our solar system, scientists have discovered evidence of what they believe is a subterranean ocean. The water means a tiny moon orbiting Saturn could be one of the few places in the solar system with the right ingredients for life.
The moon Enceladus is only 300 miles wide—it would fit between New York City and Charlottesville, Va. It’s a mini-world with a bright, icy, frigid surface, and it is just one of an astounding 62 moons orbiting the ringed planet. But it is not just a static, boring ice ball. Fractures on the moon’s surface—evocatively named “tiger stripes”—emit jets of frozen water that help form one of the bands in Saturn’s rings.
Los Angeles artist Steve Talkowski of Sketchbot Studios Inc. has created a collection of 3D models featuring cute robots in real world situations.
He also rendered a robot version of the well-meaning demon superhero Hellboy.
Steve made the collection of original character designs for artist Dacosta Bayley‘s daily March of Robots” sketch challenge, which has recently become an artbook. You can view more of Steve’s robots on Behance.
3D Models of Cute Robots in Real World Situations [Click through to LaughingSquid for links to everything, including Steve’s portfolio.]