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Oregon Hires Goats to Combat Wildfires

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  • Don’t believe Smokey Bear’s lies. Goats can stop forest fires, too.

As you’re probably aware of, the US West Coast is kinda-sorta on fire at the moment. The gender reveal parties they’re throwing aren’t really helping, either.

In fact, the gender reveal fire – known officially as the El Dorado fire – has claimed the life of one firefighter, according to Associated Press.

With the blazes spreading and emergency services battling 50-hour shifts, exploding trees, and choking smoke, it’s no wonder the West Coast states are turning unorthodox solutions. Any solutions, as long as they work.

They’re so desperate that even to local fauna is being called upon to help. In Oregon, firefighters are going to be getting some baah-dly needed aid.

A herd of 230 goats has arrived in the city of Forest Grove, 25 miles from Portland. Over the next week, they will be eating the dry undergrowth in a 140-acre wood as a wildfire prevention measure, wrote Oregon Public Broadcasting.

It might sound a bit off, but using sheep and goats is a fairly well-established firefighting method. Excess of dry vegetation is often one of the primary sources of fuel that ends up feeding wildfires.

Feeding that brush to the goats instead of the fire could make the difference between an area getting slightly scorched and turning into an inferno.

Seems like a good chance to quote an old saying – it’s not dumb if it works.

Is he working or on a lunch break?

A Man and His Goats

The owner of the goat herd is a fellow by the name of Craig Madsen. He runs Healing Hooves, a Washington-based landscaping service relying on ungulate power.

Madsen used to be a federal office worker, but 18 years ago he was bitten by the goat bug. Well, maybe not literally, but he decided to quit his job and become a full-time shepherd.

In the summer months, he packs his herd into a trailer and drives around the northwest. He sells his goaty services at the request of public officials and private landowners.

It takes about two and a half minutes to get the entire herd out of Madsen’s trailer. Local onlookers have likened the scene to unpacking a clown car.

“I get a lot of requests from people who want [my goats] to do their backyards,” Madsen told OPB, explaining his business practices.

“And I say: ‘I don’t do those, because I can’t put 230 goats in your backyard.’ But there are people who’ll have a dozen or so goats. They’ll come out and do those projects.”

When he’s out on a gig, Madsen lives out of the back of his truck. While the goats chew on grass, his primary duty is putting up an electric fence to keep the herd where it’s supposed to be.

According to Madsen, the fence is needed because his animals can get mischievous. Goats live climbing, and sometimes the closest climbable thing might be someone’s brand new BMW or something.

Madsen also has two other employees – Irish wolf hound Gigi and Nessie, a miscellaneous herding dog. Gigi is the security officer who keeps coyotes and even cougars away, while Nessie is in charge of moving the goats in and out of the trailer in an orderly fashion.

Natural Solutions

According to the Healing Hooves website, the goats provide many other benefits in addition to cost savings. First of all, rough or rocky ground doesn’t deter them, and the goats happily munch away on plants that are harmful to humans, such as poison ivy.

The goats help protect both crews and local residents since they reduce the need to use toxic herbicide and potentially dangerous heavy machineries. Not only that, they often get rid of unwanted plants more effectively.

Some plants’ seed producing parts might escape lawn mower and weed whacker blades. The goats, on the other hand, will consume the plants down to ground level at the speed of roughly an acre per day.

“Goats will open up blackberry thickets, knock back scotch broom and eat a variety of other weeds. When the goats are done the area will not look mowed but they will have a significant impact,” Healing Hooves says.

A Goat-load of Fun

Last, but not least, the goats have a hidden bonus: they’re entertaining.

“They’re fun to watch. Your crew and your family will love watching the herd at work (to them, it’s play) and hearing their gentle bleats as they call to each other,” the company says.

Madsen’s firm is not exaggerating. In Forest Grove, he has been shower facilities and lodging by locals who know and love his goats.

Madsen, however, usually turns down the offers, though he might pop by occasionally to wash up. His work gets lonely, sometimes, but he likes to spend his time reading in the company of his dogs.

Once his goats are done in Forest Grove, Madsen will head over to Spokane.

“I’ll be doing some work in the city of Spokane, and the primary purpose is to reduce fuel loads. And second is to try and manage noxious weeds,” he said.

Mr. Madsen, we thank you and your goats for your service.

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Ultraconservative EU Politician Resigns After Breaking COVID Laws by Attending 25-Man Orgy

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  • Whoever said that politics are boring?

“Practice what you preach” is generally a pretty good guideline for going through life. If you start telling other people what they should do, it’s only right that you yourself abide by the same rules. Right?

Well, we all know that all too often it doesn’t work that way. It’s easy to dictate other people’s lives, but we as people seem pretty comfortable with giving ourselves a break.

One arena where this is particularly prevalent seems to be politics. Maybe it’s because politicians are constantly in the public spotlight, but decision makers across the aisle often seem to relax their standards when it comes to their own lives.

A great example of such a case unfolded recently in the European Union. At the eye of the storm is the Hungarian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Jozsef Szajer.

MEP Szajer was recently busted skirting COVID-19 laws restricting the number of people at gatherings. And he did it by attending a 25-man “sex party”.

Szajer – a married man with a daughter – is a founding member of the hardline Fidesz party. The party currently holds power in Hungary with Prime Minister Viktor Orban at its helm.

Fidesz has gained notoriety for its extremely conservative politics, including such things as “defending the sanctity of marriage”. Prime Minister Orban in particular is known as a firebrand, often railing against the more liberal values of Western Europe and the EU.

You’d then imagine that Mr. Szajer would subscribe to some rigorous moral standards.

Yeah, you’d really think that, wouldn’t you?

“The parliament is now in session!”

‘Fleeing Along the Gutter’

It’s bad enough for Szajer to be caught red-handed like this, but he didn’t even do it with dignity. The whole thing started on November 27 when Belgian police received several noise complaints about a party.

The complaints concerned a second-floor apartment in Brussels, where European Parliament’s committee meetings are primarily held. As a result, the cops decided to give the partygoers a surprise visit.

And what a scene it was that awaited them. According to Fox News, the police found a full-blown orgy in action, with 25 mostly naked men in attendance.

When the officers started marching in through the door, one of the men decided to make a break for it. With a backpack on him, he climbed out of the second-story apartment’s window and jumped down to the street.

Sarah Durant, spokesperson for Brussels’ deputy public prosecutor, said that shortly afterwards, a passerby saw the man “fleeing along the gutter”.

“The man’s hands were bloody. It is possible that he may have been injured while fleeing,” Durant told The Guardian.

“Narcotics were found in his backpack,” she added.

When detained, the man was unable to produce any identity documents. So, the police cordially escorted him to his residence, where he identified himself as – surprise, surprise – MEP Jozsef Szajer with a diplomatic passport.

With the same breath, the now-uncovered Szajer claimed diplomatic immunity. And so, he got off with a stern warning, despite blatantly violating Belgium’s COVID restrictions.

Regret and Apologies

He may have slipped through the hands of the police, but Szajer didn’t escape completely without consequence. Two days later, on Sunday, November 29, he resigned from his position as an MEP.

Still two days later, on Tuesday, December 1, Szajer released a public statement. In it, he admitted that he had indeed attended the “house party” in question and apologized for his “irresponsible” behavior.

“I deeply regret violating the COVID restrictions – it was irresponsible on my part. I am ready to pay the fine that occurs. With my resignation on Sunday I drew the political and personal consequences,” Szajer said according to The Guardian.

“I apologise to my family, to my colleagues, to my voters. I ask them to evaluate my misstep against a background of 30 years of devoted and hard work. The misstep is strictly personal,” he added.

As to the drugs that were found in his possession, Szajer played the age-old card of claiming to not know where they came from.

“I did not use drugs. I offered to the police to take an instant test, but they did not do it. Police said an ecstasy pill was found. It’s not mine, I don’t know who placed it and how,” he stated.

You can decide for yourself what you think of Szajer’s statement. We’re just saying, we feel like we’ve heard these same lines before.

Party Leader: ‘Not Cool, Man’

It’s too early to say whether his little late-night romp will be the end of his political career. It’s not making him any friends in high places, though.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Orban himself rebuked Szajer in a statement on December 20. Orban said that Szajer’s actions had “no place in the values of our political family”.

“We will not forget nor repudiate his 30 years of work, but his deed is unacceptable and indefensible,” Orban told reporters.

Commenting on Szajer’s decision to resign, Orban said he had made the “only right decision”.

“We acknowledge his decision, just as we acknowledge that he has apologized to his family, his political community and to the voters,” said Orban.

The European Parliament also chastised Szajer, though not quite as harshly as Orban.

“There is nothing wrong to participate in a sex party of any kind. However, such kinds of meetings with many people are illegal under the coronavirus laws,” an unidentified source at the Parliament told The Guardian.

“The fact of being covered by parliamentary immunity does not exempt anyone from obeying the law.”

While the police can’t prosecute Szajer at the moment, his diplomatic immunity will drop on January 1. After that, he might be facing a fine of roughly $300 for violating coronavirus laws, in addition to any possible drug charges.

In all fairness, Szajer apparently wasn’t the only politician present at the orgy. According to The Guardian, two other men busted at the party also claimed diplomatic immunity.

Still, Szajer’s claim to fame was that he masterminded the 2011 Hungarian constitution, restricting marriage to be between a man and a woman. Against that backdrop, getting arrested at a gay orgy is not a great look for him.

Naughty, naughty.



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Try Solving this 100-Year Old Puzzle

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  • Only two people have solved the 1934 literary puzzle, and the correct answer has never been printed.

Are you spending the holidays alone this year? Good for you; you’re keeping yourself and your loved ones safe and preventing dangerous overcrowding of the hospitals following holiday gatherings. It’s understandable if you’re a little anxious, looking at all that time off work, hanging out alone. Netflix is churning out holiday movies like it’s their job, but you’re not alone if you binged all you could binge of streaming services during the first half of the year. 

Puzzles will at least keep your mind sharp.

Well, maybe it’s time to get a little old-fashioned with how you spend your time. Jigsaw puzzles soared in popularity during lockdowns, which is nice for them; they were about due for a win. But if you’re looking for something a little more challenging, I present to you Cain’s Jawbone

The puzzle takes the form of a 100-page murder-mystery novel. The puzzle’s premise is the novel manuscript got shuffled on the way to the publisher who printed the book out of order. It’s up to the reader to put the pages back in the correct order. 

 

While the puzzle sounds a bit like a choose-your-own-adventure for adults, only two people have solved it in the past 100 years. Cain’s Jawbone is a genuine mystery, written in formal English, with plenty of misdirections and red herrings when it’s placed in the right order. Out of order, it’s one of the most challenging literary puzzles out there. 

Its author was Edward Powys Mathers, who not only wrote a mystery novel but wrote one so challenging that it’s a viable puzzle. He was one of the forefathers of cryptic crossword puzzles, a poet, and a translator. Under the pseudonym Torquemada, he created puzzles for The Observer in the UK and reviewed detective stories. 

 

The last printing of Cain’s Jawbone sold out at Unbound. However, you can find some overpriced copies on eBay if you’re really hard up for holiday activities. It’s worth keeping an eye out for a reprint. The puzzle keeps just fine, so you can pull it out at Christmas every year and add a little murder detective work to your holiday traditions.



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Apple I Computer in Original Box Signed by Steve Wozniak Goes on Auction

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  • If you’ve ever wanted to own a relic of modern history, here’s a pretty good one to go for.

Apple or PC, that is the question. There have been entire marketing campaigns built around the rivalry, but let us be diplomatic here and say both kinds of computers have their uses.

No matter which can you’re in, though, it’d be hard to deny that Apple computers have shaped the way we think about personal computers in significant ways. Many of such basic things as a graphical user interface were popularized – if not necessarily invented – by Apple.

It’s no wonder then, that Apple has built the kind of cult following that the company still has. Many of its early machines are masterpieces of popularly available computer technology of their time.

But these are old, old computers and exceedingly rare. If you happen to collect for whatever reason, finding one can be hard – and best not to talk about whether the thing will be in working condition.

Now, though, RR Auction has available a thing so rare you wouldn’t even think it exists. We’re talking about the original, the one and only Apple I computer, and you can make a bid to buy it.

Or you can try, if you have $50,000 lying around that you don’t need. And that’s just the starting price, so you’ll probably have to dig a lot deeper.

For example, in 2019, another Apple I unit sold for $470,000. But there’s a good reason why this one might go for even more.

That’s a bit of a mark-up from the original price of $666.66.

Photos courtesy of RR Auction.

A Functional Fossil

You might be wondering why anyone would part with tens of thousands of dollars of hard earned cash for an antiquated computer. This is not just any old Apple I we’re talking about here, though.

To begin with, this thing actually works. It was manufactured in 1976, and it’s still in working order.

Or, well, it’s been returned to functionality, we should say.

“This Apple I computer was restored to its original, operational state in September 2020 by Apple I expert Corey Cohen,” says RR Auction on its website.

“The system was operated without fault for approximately eight hours in a comprehensive test.”

But so what? It’s still just an old computer, right? If you still think that, you’re not quite grasping just how rare the Apple I is.

Apple – still just a tiny three-man startup operating out of the garage of Jobs’ parents in 1976 – only ever made 200 of these computers. Out of that batch, 175 were sold.

So, to even find one anymore is a real challenge. But for the computer to be actually functional?

Let’s just say that by all probability, this thing should not be.

A Box! A Box!

Oh, but it gets even better. The lucky winner of the auction won’t just get the original Apple I motherboard.

No, they will get the whole shebang, everything you need to get the most out of an ancient computer. In addition to the Apple I unit itself, the auction includes original manuals, the Apple Cassette Interface, a power supply, a vintage Datanetics keyboard (in an age-old wooden case), a 1976 Sayo monitor, and another cassette player by Panasonic.

Yeah, about those cassette players. Computer programs used to come on cassettes. Man, this thing is old.

To quote the late Billy Mays, though, there’s more. The cherry on the top of this computer history cake is that it comes in its original packaging.

It might seem to like just an old cardboard box. If you like collecting old stuff, though, you’ll know that having them in the original shipping box can make this stupidly valuable.

But wait, says the ghost of Billy Mays, there’s even more! The box is signed by Steve Wozniak, the man who built the Apple I computers with his own hands in that tiny California garage.

If you’re looking to own a piece of personal computing history, it doesn’t get much better than this.

It Belongs in a Museum

And what a piece of computing history it is. Apple was the world’s most valuable company between 2012 and 2018, and still is the biggest tech company in the world. And it all started with this thing.

“The Apple I is not only a marvel of early computing ingenuity, but the product that launched what is today one of the most valuable and successful companies in the world,” says RR Auction.

But still, we are talking about history. The Apple I is old, almost prehistoric when comparing it to modern computers.

To begin with, if you had bought one of these boxes in 1976, you wouldn’t have gotten a computer as you might think of it today. All you got was a caseless motherboard.

Apple never even manufactured a case. You would have to house the motherboard in whatever box you had available. Briefcases were apparently a popular option.

Still, Apple I was ahead of its competition at the time. All you needed to use it was a keyboard and TV to act as a display. Other computers required extensive programming and additional hardware to even put out text.

The relative simplicity caught the eyes of investors, and just a year later the Apple II came out. That one resembled a modern computer a lot more, and set Apple on the path that would eventually lead to the Macintosh, the iPad, and the iPhone.

That’s a whole other story, though. But if you have a few hundred grand burning a hole in your pocket, you might as well try bidding for the first chapter of that story.



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