Archive: history

Petrified Forest National Park

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Ten months ago I took a job with a production company to get a crash course in the film business. The job is going pretty well, except for the thing that impedes me at every job I’ve ever had, which is that I don’t really like having a job very much.

 

I love earning a paycheck so that I can spend it traveling around the world, which – to my constant surprise – is not something employers desire. So whenever a gig offers the chance to go somewhere, especially if it contributes to my foolhardy national park adventure, I jump at the opportunity. Suddenly I become a model employee.

 

My boss needed a coffee table picked up from her cousin’s storage unit in the middle of Arizona. Google Maps had the storage unit two hours from Petrified Forest National Park, so I packed a backpack and took off to hang out in the Sonoran Desert just in time for a mid-June heat wave.

 

The first thing I noticed after my LAX to PHX flight was that every Arizona bathroom I entered – from the Phoenix Airport SkyTrain to the national park pit-stops – contained an insulin needle disposal bucket. It was kind of nice to know that if I picked up a light case of diabetes on my adventure that dropping off my copious accumulation of sharps would not be a problem. I picked up the coffee table in a pleasant mountain town called Payson. It was sort of like Phoenix’s answer to Big Bear, except there were a lot more places to buy assault rifles. So far my impression of the local experience is an insulin needle in one hand, AR-15 in the other while I ask the park ranger to kindly stamp my national park passport booklet.

 

Getting out of an air conditioned car so you can look at old tree fossils in the Arizona desert is one of those moments that makes you question your life choices. There’s no actual forest in the Petrified Forest, which I had to explain to a disappointed biker. He kept looking at the sparse shrubs and tumbleweeds asking if they were part of the forest. I was braced for my disappointment in advance.

 

Three hundred million years ago when Arizona was in a rainforest on Pangea, some trees fell into a river. The few trunks that didn’t disintegrate got wedged in the riverbed, where, over the course of few hundred million years, they filled with silt, copper, carbon, micah, quartz, crystals, iron and manganese. The river, rainforest and Pangea are long gone (never forget Pangea), but these tree fossils are now mutated into rocks that reflect beautiful colors in the relentless Arizona sunshine.

 

And that’s pretty much the main attraction. There’s a cool painted desert lookout, some old adobe houses and petroglyphs (Native American graffiti), but the park ranger assuaged my guilt when I arrived at the visitor center. I was deeply apologetic that I only had three hours for the park, but she couldn’t have been friendlier when she told me the average time that visitors spent was a two hour drive-through. She just seemed happy that I was there. It was like an old relative who I see once a year. “A short visit from you is better than nothing.”

 

And if I’m going to tie this whole thing together, it would be that not every national park has a spectacular vista or jaw-dropping attraction. They’re not all Yosemite. But they tend to offer one specific thing better than anywhere else. And if I’m going to go for one hell of a stretch, it would be that I might not be the most inspired employee at every company I’ve worked for, but maybe if I can do one thing really well I’ll actually find some success. I’m the tree-rock mutant fossil of employees, and that is sitting proudly on my resume as I begin my next job hunt.

 

And sometimes the best part of going to the smaller national parks is knowing I don’t have to go back. That was the best part of West Texas, was that I never have to return to West Texas. And now there is another excellent national park with a niche and unique attraction notched on the belt. With many more national parks to look forward to visiting that, someday, I’ll never have to see again.

 

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Jurassic World’s Indominus Rex Makes the Same Mistake as Hitler on the Eastern Front

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There are plenty of spoilers in this, but Jurassic World is part of a franchise that just grossed over $1 Billion worldwide, so if you haven’t seen the movie, what do you think happens in the end, the humans survive or the dinosaurs kill everyone?

In Jurassic World, geneticists engineer a super dinosaur, the Indominus Rex, which breaks out of its cage and goes on a killing spree. Not only is the beast nearly indestructible, but it’s also smarter than your average dinosaur. And by average dinosaur I mean, of course, the ABC sitcom Dinosaurs. Indominus Rex sets traps for her victims, digs out her tracking device, hides from people and outsmarts enemies. Indominus Rex even talks to the other dinosaurs, and not in a casual chit-chat, “How are the kids,” kind of way, but about doing some additional damage.

The most frustrating part of Jurassic World is they have this super smart dinosaur, one that’s completely unstoppable. She’s the greatest enemy the world has ever seen, and the Indominus Rex goes on to commit the exact same mistake made by Adolph Hitler on the Eastern Front of World War Two.

In 1941, Nazi Germany controls almost the entire European continent. France, Poland, Belgium and the Netherlands have all fallen and have puppet governments controlled by the Nazis. Spain and Italy are allies. Great Britain is holding on by a thread and the U.S. hasn’t entered the war yet. In Jurassic World, the Indominus Rex kills everything in sight, outsmarts her captors and is virtually indestructible. They’re both at the height of their power.

Hitler has hardly any threat to his empire in 1941. England is struggling to stay alive and can’t muster a credible counter-attack. The United States is wary of entering the war in Europe. The only country that can pose any sort of opposition is the Soviet Union. But Hitler already put a plan in place to keep them at bay. Hitler avoids a two-front war by signing the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact (officially the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, for you Nazi-Soviet Paleontologists out there).

This is where the Indominus Rex stands after making a truce with the raptors at the midpoint of Jurassic World. The dinosaur has zero enemies, total control of the island and there’s no way for the humans to mount a credible counter-attack without blowing up everyone on the island at a tremendous loss of life.

Hitler and the Indominus Rex proceed to make the exact same mistake. It’s not so much that Hitler breaks the German-Soviet non-aggression treaty, but that the Nazis do so with brutal violence killing everything in their path. And then just a few decades later the bad dinosaur makes the exact same mistake as Hitler. When are these dinosaurs going to learn?

When the Nazis invade the area that’s now Ukraine in 1941, Hitler actually gets greeted with fanfare in parts of the country. Some of the inhabitants see Hitler as a potential savior from Joseph Stalin. When Indominus Rex breaks out of her cage and wreaks havoc on Jurassic World, I’m sure there are a couple dinosaurs who are happy. There must be a few who think they’ll be freed from the life of captivity created by humans. Humans create these animals in theme parks just to hold them in tiny cages. The other dinosaurs are like, “Yeah she’s pretty evil, but she can’t be any worse than the humans, right?”

This is where Hitler and Indominus Rex make the same colossal mistake. Hitler’s great error on the Eastern Front has nothing to do with dividing his forces, or ignoring the advice of his generals, or putting too much focus on Stalingrad or Leningrad. No, Hitler’s biggest mistake is that he violently suppresses and murders people who could be used as allies.

If Hitler decides to embrace and help the people on the Eastern Front who see him as a liberator from Stalin, rather than murder them all, Hitler wins World War Two. He would double his ranks, turn everyone in Eastern Europe against the Soviet Union and negotiate with the United States and Great Britain to keep all his new territory and win the Second World War.

That’s all Indominus Rex needs to do to win Jurassic World. She just has to negotiate with the velociraptors and stegosauruses and pterodactyls by saying, “Y’know, if you team up with me, we can run this joint and never have to deal with evil humans again. Those humans cooked us up in labs just to keep us in cages all our lives. Then they Instagram pictures of us for their Facebook feeds. C’mon, whattya say, you and me, let’s work together.”

That’s it. If the Indominus Rex says that to a single velociraptor, they win the movie. The dinosaurs just need to team up to take on the greater enemy – humans – and the movie is over. But the dinosaur doesn’t do that. Instead, Indominus Rex follows Hitler’s example to the same disastrous result because history always repeats itself.

Both Hitler and the Indominus Rex introduce unparalleled brutality in their respective regions. This makes people, and other dinosaurs, think Stalin isn’t that bad in comparison and team up to take down Hitler/Indominus Rex. They combat evil with even more evil and they’re only defeated with an unprecedented level of destruction. It all could’ve been avoided with a little bit of kindness, but instead the havoc brings their own respective downfalls.

If Indominus Rex wanted to learn from Hitler, rather than make the same mistake, the dinosaur would’ve changed strategies at her high point. The lesson is that if you ever get to the point in life where you control most of the world or island and you’re that close to winning everything, make allies with your terrified enemies when you hold all the cards. Otherwise you’ll just be another in a long line of sequels.

The Great Gatsby Summary

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Americans Saying America is The Best Country is The Same As Loud, Fat Sports Fans Saying Their Home Team is The Best

Many people are quick to label America the best country in the world, and there was something about this grand proclamation that struck a cord that I finally placed. It is exactly when loser fans of high-spending winning teams say that their team is the best in the world, yet the fans themselves have never done anything in their lives but cheer on real winners.

America might be the Yankees, Celtics and Steelers, but Americans are the fans of the Yankees, Celtics and Steelers. A bunch of loud and overweight chest-thumping losers who failed to live up to the potential of top players on the field. Instead, we question the decisions of leaders and pick fights with rivals. Read more

The Middle East And North Africa Really Want To See Tits

The unrest sparked in Tunisia that has spread across North Africa and the Middle East is on the precipice of changing the way that the Arab world sees tits. For decades, autocratic rulers have held all the power when it comes to viewing tits and now citizens are taking to the streets to protest.

Whether you blame the Islamic Revolutions of the 1970s, the partitioning of the region by the Allied Powers after World War II or go all the way back to the Middle Ages, the accessibility of viewing tits in the Middle East has always been a privilege of the powerful. Human rights have been stripped in ways that burqas have not and autocratic regimes with militaristic leaders have ruled with an iron fist.

As revolution spreads, we see that all across the region, ordinary people are uniting en masse for their right to see tits, ta-tas, boobies, bozongas, however it is pronounced throughout the Arab world. It is time for modernity and these governments have seen that their people will fight equal access to a free press, speech and due process to all work in conjunction to show tits.

First Tunisia was like, “This is ridiculous. I think we should do something about not seeing tits.” Then Egypt was like, “That’s a really good idea.” So then Egypt overthrew their leader, which sparked similar outrages in Bahrain, Iran and Yemen.

However, as we now see in Libya, leaders like Gaddafi are more willing to spread blood than to allow citizens the right to see tits. Hundreds of innocent Libyans have perished in the struggle and we can’t let their deaths be in vain. Do your part and demand that these leaders allow their citizens the access that all humans deserve: to see all of humans. They have cut off access to the Internet, they have shut down Twitter and Facebook. All we can receive are snippets of the tragedy occurring.

It is the duty of women throughout the western world to get images of their tits into Libya by any means possible. Whether it is through social media (just tag these images #Libya so that only people in Libya will click the link), through codes, secure servers or air lifting leaflets of topless pictures, it is all of our responsibility to free your bras for the freedom of the oppressed.

As we are seeing occur right now in the Middle East and Northern Africa, both citizens and unjust rulers are willing to march, protest and fight to see tits that have been held only by those in power. Show us your tits and I will show you a revolution.

Should Movie Theaters Institute Segregated Seating For Pedophiles During the Justin Bieber Movie?

With Justin Bieber’s new movie [finally] on the horizon, pedophiles who are both cinephiles and casual movie-goers are flocking away from playgrounds and to their local AMC to catch the latest blockbuster. But a debate is raging over whether or not these lovers of films and children alike should have their own Jim Crow-type seating arrangement.

On one hand, examining the very debate is part of the problem because pedophiles are kind of people too. Not very nice ones, granted. Well, they’re nice to you if you’re a child. Typically, though, they tend to be greasy, overweight creeps with an ice cream cone for themself and one for little Timmy. But should they be allowed to purchase this ice cream cone at the same concession stand as non-pedophiles during the Justin Bieber movie?

While we do not have separate seating for pedophiles during other movies, never before has there been a cinematic event with the kind of attention and demand garnered by Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. Complicating the debate is that we don’t know as to whether the pedophile is there for his fellow audience member or the star himself.

Both pedophiles and racists would be offended at the comparison to the Jim Crow era. As illustrated so thoroughly in masterpieces like The Warmth of Other Suns, separation tended not to be equal. If we really were to banish these pedophiles to the balcony level, shouldn’t that be counteracted by providing them young children so that their enjoyment can match that of everyone else in the theater?

“Of course not,” the anti-pedophile lobby would shout. But this is a more convoluted issue than your average movie-going experience. Take a film like Cats Vs. Dogs, for example. If there is a three hundred pound man sitting alone and ogling children, then he is probably – and rightfully – going to be kicked out. These men are easy to identify, since they would be the ones not wearing 3D glasses.

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The issue with Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, is that there might be more pedophiles in the audience than regular movie-goers. This is the perfect storm for a pedophile. A teenage heartthrob on stage and a riot of pre-teen fans congregating all over. Would we be doing the movie and director (does this movie have a director?) a good service by allowing pedophiles to enjoy just the film, rather than the crowd?

This is a debate between public safety versus entertainment that is meant to protect both children and the artistic integrity of pointing cameras at a high-pitched man-woman mix that pedophiles like to stare at. Should we be ashamed by our history and separate these classes of movie-goers from each other? Or maybe this is finally the moment when children and pedophiles will put their differences aside and unite for the Bieber.

When Hitler Said The Japanese Were “Honorary Aryans,” Doesn’t That Seem Like Something The Ruler of a Tree House Would Do?

It seems important to start this post by clarifying I have several other qualms with Adolph Hitler. This is, by far, pretty low on the list of annoying things Hitler did in his lifetime, and given the opportunity to remark upon his record, this would not carry the same magnitude as a couple other of his decisions. But, really, doesn’t the whole labeling of the Japanese as “Honorary Aryans” seem like the catty declaration of a twelve-year-old?

It is exactly like one of those things where a kid starts a club, rules out a large swath of people, then realizes someone in that group has something the kid needs and he backtracks. What does the kid do? On one hand, you can make friends, possibly share something from your lunch box and invite the person over to play Wii. On the other hand, you can invade Poland.

Clearly kids like this don’t think through their exclusive clubs, alliances and treehouses. They accidentally rule out someone who has the latest version of Modern Warfare, or is currently engaging the United States in the Asian theater of modern warfare. Then they need to backpedal and come up with some dumb excuse to let that guy into the club. Something like, “You’re an honorary member of the club.” It’s just so happens that this particular treehouse happened to be Nazi Germany.

This is the problem I have with what Hitler did. It’s not the fact that he murdered millions of ethnic minorities, although I certainly don’t approve. It’s that he went about selecting who not to kill in a very childish manner. Own up to it, Adolph. You could have said, “Well, the Japanese aren’t as pure as the Germans, but you also don’t like the Soviets, so let’s work together.” Instead, Hitler said, “Here’s a special badge I made out of construction paper so that you can be the exception to my club house.”


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It is wrong to exclude people from your club, regardless of whether you meet in a treehouse, grove of pine needles or the Führerbunker. It is then the decisive move of an asshole to murder anyone who you deem to not be racially or ethnically fit to belong in your club. You would think that exclusion would be good enough, you don’t then have to extend your reach across all of Europe’s middle schools.

This makes Hitler the biggest dick of all the fifth grade bullies the world has ever known. Whether he was taking the lunch money of Ukrainians or laying siege to millions of Russians so that he could stick their heads into toilets, he didn’t have to go so far as to saying one group of excluded people were “Honorary members.” It is inconsistent of a bully and makes him seem weak while playing cruel mind games on other less popular minorities who want honorary membership as well.

We can remark upon how unfair and murderous Hitler’s treehouse club was. Hopefully it has made us all better people and we can all live harmoniously in a loving treehouse where everyone is equal and accepted, except for those who are stopped by the sign that proudly proclaims, “No girls allowed.”

Starting a Relationship With Opposite Feelings Towards Kids Is Like The Three-Fifths Compromise In The Constitution

And Civil War is just ahead on the sixty-five year horizon. Imagine if all thirteen colonies had to agree on whether or not to have kids. Sure you could sweep the issue under the table for a little while, but eventually it will erupt in a total war that has its true roots edited in Texas textbooks.

I can completely understand the argument on both sides of the case. In the no-kids column, they’re a bunch of smelly, sticky, ungrateful money pits who ruin your plans for the next twenty years of your life. They ignore you from ages twelve through seventeen, then talk to you so that they can ask for money after that. Then they leave you alone without so much as a thanks for their existence.

In the argument in favor of having kids, it gives people something to talk about. I guess. I don’t really know.

And slavery is much the same thing. You’re trapped, at the mercy of a belligerent master who needs constant coddling and attention and the analogy works a little more accurately if the kid is white. Or if you want to dress said child in cotton.

It would appear, at first, that the logical solution is to count children as three-fifths of a person, much as one would do to their prospective slave. People who don’t want kids don’t want other people’s children screwing the number of representatives in the house, but people who do have children want to count them as real to give themselves a purpose in life.

Yet it never solves the real issue that can only be conducted in a true civil war between the two battling parties. Both sides think that they are the righteous ones doing Gods work in an all-out war between the states over whether or not to have kids because the problem was never solved in the first place. The three-fifths measure, along with the Missouri Compromise – to have kids in Missouri provided that they’re banned in Maine – were temporary stopgaps on the path to Civil War.

Then you get into a serious debate within the original war, which the South faced themselves: should child soldiers be used in the Civil War over children? The case against it is that, as we previously discussed, they are only three-fifths of a person. The South is loaded with youngsters and if they let these kids fight in their Civil War, then it might question what they’re fighting for in the first place. However, if the North allows kids to fight in their anti-children stance, then draft riots will ensue.

Should childless aristocrats in the Five Points district of New York be allowed to pay a few hundred dollars so that they can hire a freed child to take their place in a battle that is too distant and removed from their personal beliefs?

Either way, both sides can agree that antiquated battle tactics – whether they’re being performed by children or not – will be mowed down in the face of the machine gun. The memories of such brutal battles over children can be seen in the faces of thousands of old, strange, bearded and pathetic men who attend reenactments at Gettysburg every month. God speed, good men. And know that ye olde faithful will not all O be coming. Whether birth control is used or not.

How Have Serbians Preserved An Entire Ethnicity of People Who All Look Drunk?

I know the obvious answer to this question is that they are, in fact, all drunk, but it seems pretty impressive that an entire Eastern European nation that has existed for millennia can manage to be filled with an entire population of citizens who all appear as though they’ve been drinking at Sonny McClane’s since noon.

Every time the World Cup offers a close up on any of their players or fans, you could switch any of them out with a bad Jim Bruer impression. I’ve been left trying to figure out the evolutionary advantage of having an entire group of people with glossed-over droopy eyes, long faces, hollow cheeks and not much of a sense of humor. Yet an eagerness to murder you at the first slight of their proud culture.

Seriously, this is a country

Could it have anything to do with the fact that the entire country is populated with nearly identical last names? To get a Serbian name, it seems like you could just add the letters, “ic” to the end of your name. Starting with the Lakers’ Sasha Vujacic, the members of the Serbian soccer team include: Jovanovic, Zigic, Ivanovic, Pantelic, Kuzmanovic, Obravic and Subotic.

As a side note, it’s worth noting that none of these are my favorite World Cup name of the tournament. There is a player on the South African squad whose surname is Tshabalala, but when the announcer says it, it sounds like he’s saying, “Shamalama.” I don’t know how to express my disappointment that his full name is not Shamalama Ding Dong. There is, however, a sweeper named Kim Dong-Jin on the South Korean squad, but this – like the South Korean defense – just doesn’t get the job done.

Anyway, back to the Serbs. And I should preface this by mentioning that my experience with Serbs are as follows: hazy knowledge about the start of World War I involving Franz Ferdinand; something bad when down there in the 1990s and it involved other countries; some Serbian guy with bad body odor (as opposed to good body odor: Axe body spray) in a Milan youth hostel.

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They seem like a deeply religious group of people who follow a sect of Catholicism that no one has ever heard of, and one that advocates murdering all thy neighbors. This is why I can’t figure out how Serbians were involved in ethnic cleansing in the 90s. Doesn’t your ethnicity have to be sort of “clean” before you can try and wipe your local minorities from the map?

Germany’s ethnic cleansing was at least based on them being fit, tall, blond and blue-eyed and they wanted to get rid of ugly and unfit Jews. But the Serbs? How can they claim genetic superiority when they all look like the middle-story on Cops. It’s pretty depressing when someone with an unpronounceable name who looks like he’ll be stuck at a traffic stop to sing the alphabet backwards while touching his nose is accusing you of being genetically inferior. Could it be that I have never witnessed an actual Serbian woman? This would explain the short temper, but fail to explain the breeding.

So to the Sasha Vujacic’s and Nemanja Vidic’s of the world, continue making your country proud. And when Man U or the Lakers win, or you’re playing for your home country, raise a drink to celebrate. No one can tell whether you are drunk either way, so enjoy.

9 Insane Robberies That Actually Worked

Yeah, they made the list

9. Boston Museum

Boston, Massachusetts, March 18, 1990, $300 Million worth of paintings

One of the largest art thefts in history, two more “police officers” knocked on a security entrance side door and quickly tied up the two guards on duty. The thieves stole three Rembrants and a Vermeer along with eight other paintings, all in all worth over $300 Million.

8. The Great Train Robbery

Buckhamshire, England, August 8, 1963, $4.5 Million ($75 Million today)

This train was actually en route to having the money destroyed when a gang of fifteen manipulated train signals to get the freighter to stop. Without using any guns, they bludgeoned the conductor and made off with around £2.3 Million. Most of the gangs members were later caught due to fingerprint matches. Damn you, 1960s CSI!

7. Securitas Depot

England, February 22, 2006, $92.5 Million

A large-scale hostage and kidnapping robbery involved thieves dressing up as cops and pulling over the bank manager. His family then fell for the same rouse and was kidnapped as well. Fourteen more employees were taken hostage as the manager was told his wife and kids would be killed if he didn’t cooperate. Over £53 were loaded onto a van and the thieves made off. It wasn’t until about an hour later that the police were tipped off.

Off to 1963 naked pyramid

6. Dunbar Armored Car

Los Angeles, California, September 12, 1997, $18.9 Million

The largest cash robbery in the United States was an inside job done by an employee of Dunbar who mastered all the schedules and systems to pull of a well-executed theft. He got five of his childhood friends involved and on the night of the crime subdued the guards when the door to the vault was open. They loaded millions onto a waiting truck, got rid of security tracking devices and kept a low profile after the crime. Eventually one of the friends confessed and the mastermind was arrested but over $10 Million is still unaccounted for.

5. Knightsbridge Security Deposit

England, July 12, 1987, $110 Million

On the run from succeeding in over fifty armed robberies, Valerio Viccei continued his spree in England at one of the richest safety deposit centers in the country. He asked to rent a box, then let his accomplices inside. They subdued the guards and stole what amounts to over $174 Million in today’s money from the boxes. The cops, again, were not alerted to the crime until well afterwards. He wasn’t caught until years later when he foolishly returned to England.

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4. Antwerp Diamond Center

Antwerp, Belgium, February 16, 2003, over $100 Million

Thieves spent over three years planning this crime by setting up shop, taking meetings and establishing credibility in the diamond-rich area. The convoluted crime involved fake security tapes, motion and heat censors, magnetic locks and even dopplar radar. Cops are still trying to figure out every detail. The mastermind was caught much later but the over $100 Million worth of gems is still missing.

3. Great Brinks Robber

Boston, Massachusetts, January 17, 1950, $3.7 Million

The largest robbery of the time and later adapted into three movies, an eleven-member crew started weeks in advance by picking the locks as an inside job then waiting for the perfect moment to strike. They dressed like Brinks employees, tied up the security guards and made off with a massive score then hurried off to solidify their alibis.

Crooks ran into Tim Robbins en route

2. Lufthansa Heist

New York City, New York, December 11, 1978, $5.8 Million

The crime that inspired two TV shows and was a key plot-point in the film Goodfellas, gangsters found out about millions in cash earmarked for West Germany. The thieves neutralized the plane’s security guard then forced their way into the cargo hold. With a tremendous amount of inside info, they subdued over a dozen guards while skirting numerous security measures and made off with the cash. Scorcese will tell you the rest of the story.

1. Banco Central

Brazil, August 6-7, 2005, $65 Million

This robbery took months of preparation as a gang set up shop in a nearby house and set up a fake gardening business. They then spent over three months digging a sophisticated tunnel underground into the vault. This was no Great Escape tunnel either, these guys had air conditioning and lighting. Only around $7 has been recovered to date.

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