Charlottesville Breaking News

Solar flare paranoia? Go with a '70s car and tinfoil

Dear Tom and Ray:    
With talk about the potential (though unlikely) event of a large solar flare directly hitting Earth, some high-tech engineering types are discussing the merits of using homemade Faraday cages to protect electronics and power-generating equipment and vehicle computers. Rather than place in the garage a large, galvanized steel container that's large enough to park a car in after the container has been lined with insulation and add a conductive layer around the car, I'm thinking it would be more practical to just buy a spare car and maintain it, albeit one that does not have any electronic controls. I'm thinking a carbureted vehicle built before the '80s would do the trick.

The question I have is, would a car with a carburetor built prior to 1980 continue to run (assuming that it can run OK prior to this potential event) after Earth has been hit with a large solar flare, similar to the Carrington Event of 1859, which was strong enough to cause electrical shocks to telegraph operators? Also, what would be a suggested vehicle to keep for such an event? – Larry  

RAY: Well, we all remember what chaos the world was cast into after the 1859 Carrington Event, Larry. Life, as we knew it, was extinguished. I mean, try finding a telegraph operator today! Where are they? You think it's a coincidence that you can't find a telegraph operator anymore? &...

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The week in review

Biggest box: The Albemarle Board of Supervisors okays a 155,000-square-foot Costco at Stonefield in a 4-2 vote, with Ken Boyd and Petie Craddock voting against. Costco threatened to ditch Charlottesville if it couldn't be at Stonefield.

Biggest swing: The supes approve a resolution September 11 recognizing August 26 as Women's Equality Day and the 93rd anniversary of women's right to vote. The board shot down an earlier version last month.

Most tainted? Attorneys for Taybronne White, who's charged with first-degree murder in a 2011 triple slaying, ask that his charges be dismissed or evidence barred after Greene County evidence custodian James Shifflett is convicted of felony embezzlement, including pilfering money from sealed evidence bags in White's case. White is accused of killing Charlottesville residents Brian Robert Daniels, 26, Dustin Tyler Knighton, 25, and Lisa Hwang, 26, who were found dead along a Greene road. K. Burnell Evans has the story in the DP.

Worst: Thirteen-year-old Alexandra Babaevadies of Richmond dies September 15 after falling off a cliff near Humpback Rocks at the Greenstone Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, where she was picnicking wit...

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Risk assessment: After 'Molly' deaths, former UVA students consider danger

A young patient lies recovering at the University of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Poison Control Center after being treated for a severe drug overdose.

The drug in question is thought to be ecstasy, the common name for the far less sexy-sounding "Methylenedioxymethamphetamine," or MDMA, a psychoactive stimulant and popular recreational drug that burst onto the college party and club scene back in the early '80s and was criminalized by the FDA in 1986.  

“I don’t know what happened,” the patient says, awaking in the hospital after being treated for some of the potentially devastating side effects that can include drug-induced dehydration, overhydration and seizures.

It’s something that Dr. Chris Holstege, the Center's director of medical toxicology, says he has heard many times from young adults who took the drug for the euphoria it produces. In fact, from the late '70s to the mid-80s an estimated half million doses were administered by psychiatric professionals studying the drug's effect on trauma survivors, according to a 1994 article in Psychology Today. Multiple recent studies published in peer reviewed journals including Addiction and the Journal of Psychopharmacology suggest MDMA can be a powerful tool in treating the psychological effects of trauma.

Other studies, however, offer a grimme...

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All in "The Family:" Mob life satisfies as dark comedy

In most mob movies, the gangsters try to maintain some distance between business and family life. Remember Michael Corleone telling Kay she could ask him about his business, just this one time?

Oh sure, in most mafia films the wife might know the true nature of her husband's dealings, and the children (or at least the sons) will often have the opportunity to join the family business – but only after they've reached a certain age. Not so with Giovanni Manzoni, his wife and children in Luc Besson's The Family.

Giovanni (Robert De Niro) is a second-generation mobster turned informant, now in the Witness Protection Program, but his wife, Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer), his 17-year-old daughter, Belle, and his 14-year-old son, Warren, share Giovanni's hair-trigger temper and his penchant for solving just about any dilemma with brutal violence.

They're a mob unto themselves.

This is why the Manzonis have to pick up every few months. They're supposed to be living a quiet life in France, more than 3,000 miles and multiple name changes re...

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'Sox lid': A hat changed my life

By Carroll Trainum
Carroll@CarrollTrainum.com

The first week of August marked the 11th anniversary of a life-changing event for me. My wife and I were married in 2002 and went to Boston on our honeymoon. During a failed attempt to see a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, we bought Boston Red Sox ball caps outside on Yawkey Way.  We were tourists, not baseball fans— much less Sox fans. Those hats changed things for us from then on.

Almost ten years ago, the Hook published my essay, "Sox Lid: A Hat is Not Just a Hat." In it, I recounted the saga of my ball cap—how it got the attention of the then long-suffering “Red Sox Nation” (Boston fans) wherever I went, and how that community accepted me as a fellow sufferer.  (It’s been said that “being a Red Sox fan is an illness.”) My essay ended in 2003 as a Yankee fan heckled me after Boston pitcher Pedro Martinez lost the AL series to New York.  I realized then that I was bonafide Red Sox Fan. Much has happened since then and— for me— the catalyst was a Red Sox Hat.

2004 was a red letter year for the Boston Red Sox. The American League Championship Series pitted Boston against New York, one of the fiercest rivalries in all of sports. Boston lost the first three games of a best-of-seven series and needed to win the next four games; a f...

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