PARADISE, Butte County — Every familiar place had been turned to rubble and ruin, but Tiffany Larson couldn’t process that, not yet, because she had a job to do. Four days after the Camp Fire tore through Paradise, an unknown number of people remained missing Monday. The last known count was more than 200. So Larson, a Butte County sheriff’s investigator, was assigned to lead one of 13 search-and-recovery teams. Her job was to look. For what, exactly, she was not always sure. Officials call the work Larson and others are doing “welfare checks,” but the hope is that the checks won’t turn up remains. The hope, fading day by day, is that the missing got out of town somehow and just haven’t made contact with their loved ones. But she and her team — three sheriff’s deputies and a chaplain — knew as they picked apart what was left of homes for clues about the whereabouts of a resident that the prospect of finding a body was always … [Read more...] about Camp Fire: In the ruins of Paradise, a grim search for signs of life and death
Hot car deaths
From the January-February issue of Skeptical Inquirer magazine.Did you know that Paul McCartney, the ex-Beatle, never actually left the band because . . . he died in 1966 and was then replaced by a lookalike? It sounds bizarre, and it is. The "Paul is dead" myth is one of the most popular myths set in the world of rock music and perhaps the most fun to follow up.It all began on October 12, 1969, when Russ Gibb, a DJ for Detroit's underground station WKNR-FM, received a phone call by a man named "Tom," who claimed that some Beatles records contained hidden clues suggesting that Paul McCartney had actually died.The evidence for a conspiracy revolved around the theory that Paul had been decapitated in an automobile wreck after he left Abbey Road studios in London, where the Beatles recorded their music. Paul had apparently left upset over an argument with the other Beatles, took his Aston Martin sportscar, and perished in a horrible accident that killed him.This accident supposedly took … [Read more...] about A Myth that Rocks: The Premature Death of Paul McCartney
In the small hours of 25 February 1983, the playwright Tennessee Williams died in his suite at the Elysée, a small, pleasant hotel on the outskirts of the Theatre District in New York City. He was 71: unhappy, a little underweight, addicted to drugs and alcohol and paranoid sometimes to the point of delirium. According to the coroner's report, he'd choked on the bell-shaped plastic cap of a bottle of eyedrops, which he was in the habit of placing on or under his tongue while he administered to his vision. The next day, the New York Times ran an obituary claiming him as "the most important American playwright after Eugene O'Neill", though it had been two decades since his last successful play. It listed his three Pulitzer prizes, for A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Night of the Iguana, adding: "He wrote with deep sympathy and expansive humour about outcasts in our society. Though his images were often violent, he was a poet of the human heart." He was also a … [Read more...] about What drives writers to drink?
CHRIS SKELTON/STUFF Campus Living Villages managing director John Schroder says the company owes it to the Canterbury student and his family to find out what happened. (First published on September 26) OPINION: If there's a part of my past life I ever hanker after, it's my days as a uni student, though they're a distant object in the rear view mirror . Of course, I see those four years in the late 1980s through rose-tinted glasses now. Naturally they contained many of the traumas young people typically go through in their late teens or early twenties, trying to discover their place in the world. There was plenty of emotion, from elation to heartbreak, and heaps of stress. There was loneliness and self-doubt, clumsy social interaction, lack of motivation to study, but there was also companionship, adventure, discovery, all within the framework of a hitherto unheard-of freedom to make my own choices. That won't have been the same for … [Read more...] about Our kids’ safety is more important than profit, or free speech
SANTA PAULA, CALIFORNIA - It’s ironic, but momentarily forgetting some of my safety gear ended up saving my life. It happened as I drove late Thursday into the heart of a wildfire that had erupted near the city of Santa Paula, a two-hour drive west of Los Angeles. This was one of the dozens of blazes that have been springing up daily in Northern and Southern California the last couple weeks, an indication that we are now in the middle of wildfire season. Dressed in flame-resistant clothes, heavy boots and carrying my two cameras, I spent a few minutes walking around and surveying the scene before starting to shoot photos. To get the best shots, you first need to fully understand a situation, everything from where firefighters are working to the winds. After a few minutes, I realized I had forgotten my helmet and fire shelter, essentially a tarp that can be deployed to cover and protect your body if you can’t escape flames. So I began walking back to my car, and a few … [Read more...] about Flames, Gear and Risks of Photographing California Wildfires