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10 Facebook Status Updates Gone Horribly Wrong

Facebook is usually just a running feed of pictures, talk about the weather and inspirational quotes. (Mine is, anyway; maybe your friends are more exciting.) But sometimes Facebook status updates are a little more interesting. And by “interesting,” we mean “criminal.” Here are ten.

1. Anthony Elonis discovered his wife was cheating on him. After she left, he began posting all manner of horrifying things to Facebook, which were then reported to Lehigh Valley authorities and the FBI, including threats against his estranged wife, a former employer who fired him, an FBI agent, and most frightening of all, a plan to attack schoolchildren: “Hell hath no fury like a crazy man in a kindergarten class." Elonis claimed the updates were rap lyrics he wrote, but jurors were unconvinced. His conviction comes with a maximum 20-year sentence (determined in January 2012) for four counts of violating the interstate communications law, which prohibits threats of violence across state lines.

2. Keeley Houghton terrorized Emily Moore for four years—including damage to her home and a physical attack by Houghton and two friends—but it was a Facebook status that got her arrested. After posting a death-threat tirade against Moore on her own wall, Houghton became the first person in the UK jailed for Internet bullying. She served 3 months in jail in 2009.

3. "Has any1 else eva thought bout strappin a bomb on n walk n a police department n blowin da (expletive) up." If so, you might want to consider not talking about it on Facebook, unlike Montigo Arrington of Tarrant, Alabama, who went ahead and clicked ‘Post.’ Jefferson County deputies were anonymously tipped-off to Arrington’s update and showed up at the man’s house, where officers allegedly discovered child pornography on Arrington’s computer. His bail is set at $20,000. The deputy involved had some great advice for would-be provocateurs: “Do not post something stupid on the Internet for all the world to see. Most especially, a blatant threat to law enforcement."

4. Hazel Cunningham was drawing income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit, citing single parenthood and unemployment. But then a city investigator noticed that the woman’s Facebook page was filled with photos of Cunningham with her children enjoying vacations to Turkey and an elaborate wedding in Barbados (to the husband she said she didn’t have). In addition to her 120-day prison sentence, Cunningham was ordered to pay back the £15,000 she’d swindled from taxpayers.

5. Don’t tell the Internet you’ve kidnapped a woman… especially if you haven’t. Douglas Martin of Riverdale, IL, did, and the cops received a tip from a concerned acquaintance. No unwilling resident was found; the updates were apparently “part of a creative writing project,” but the heroin residue, bag of marijuana and bathroom “covered in white powder” were very real. Martin has been charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

6. During the London riots is probably not the best time to set up a Facebook event to start a similar riot in your own town, but two teens did just that, inviting friends to a “Smash down in Northwich Town.” Unfortunately for Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan and Jordan Blackshaw, only the police showed up. They were each sentenced to four years in jail for inciting public disorder via social media; both intend to appeal.

7. A teen inspired by the film Shank, in which gangs take over London, posted a series of updates encouraging his Facebook friends to “kill a million Fedz” and one taking requests for a planned looting trip. “Rioting 2nyt anyone want anything from Flannels?” earned Amed Pelle 33 months in jail.

8. Craig “Lazie” Lynch walked out of a minimum security prison, where he was serving a seven-year sentence for armed robbery, nearly a year before his scheduled release. Instead of keeping a low profile like most escaped convicts, Lynch became the Facebook Fugitive and spent his days posting literal and figurative one-finger salutes to authorities, collecting over 40,000 fans and inspiring a theme song (NSFW) in the process. The four-month search for Lynch was a media frenzy, which Lynch helped fuel with Facebook updates daring police to “do what they’re payed [sic] for.” He was recaptured in January 2010 by Scotland Yard and his Facebook page has since been deleted.

9. During a Scottish Cup replay game, Stephen Birrell posted “religiously and racially motivated comments” about Catholics and Celtic supporters in a Facebook group called “Neil Lennon Should Be Banned.” His remarks, most about killing Catholics, were deemed a hate crime and “unacceptable in modern Scotland" by the country’s solicitor general and he was sentenced to eight months in prison. Birrell is also banned from attending football events for five years.

10. It’s not unusual for hunters to take pictures of their catch, but if you’re breaking state game limits then you might want to reconsider sharing them online. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries cited Brandon Lowry of Norco, LA, for hauling in 64 ducks on a recent trip—well over the maximum eight allowed during teal season—after he posted pictures to Facebook. If convicted, Lowry’s looking at fines between $400 and $950, up to 120 days in jail, or both.

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15 Confusing Plant and Animal Misnomers
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People have always given names to the plants and animals around us. But as our study of the natural world has developed, we've realized that many of these names are wildly inaccurate. In fact, they often have less to say about nature than about the people who did the naming. Here’s a batch of these befuddling names.

1. COMMON NIGHTHAWK

There are two problems with this bird’s name. First, the common nighthawk doesn’t fly at night—it’s active at dawn and dusk. Second, it’s not a hawk. Native to North and South America, it belongs to a group of birds with an even stranger name: Goatsuckers. People used to think that these birds flew into barns at night and drank from the teats of goats. (In fact, they eat insects.)

2. IRISH MOSS

It’s not a moss—it’s a red alga that lives along the rocky shores of the northern Atlantic Ocean. Irish moss and other red algae give us carrageenan, a cheap food thickener that you may have eaten in gummy candies, soy milk, ice cream, veggie hot dogs, and more.

3. FISHER-CAT

Native to North America, the fisher-cat isn’t a cat at all: It’s a cousin of the weasel. It also doesn’t fish. Nobody’s sure where the fisher cat’s name came from. One possibility is that early naturalists confused it with the sea mink, a similar-looking creature that was an expert fisher. But the fisher-cat prefers to eat land animals. In fact, it’s one of the few creatures that can tackle a porcupine.

4. AMERICAN BLUE-EYED GRASS

American blue-eyed grass doesn’t have eyes (which is good, because that would be super creepy). Its blue “eyes” are flowers that peek up at you from a meadow. It’s also not a grass—it’s a member of the iris family.

5. MUDPUPPY

The mudpuppy isn’t a cute, fluffy puppy that scampered into some mud. It’s a big, mucus-covered salamander that spends all of its life underwater. (It’s still adorable, though.) The mudpuppy isn’t the only aquatic salamander with a weird name—there are many more, including the greater siren, the Alabama waterdog, and the world’s most metal amphibian, the hellbender.

6. WINGED DRAGONFISH

This weird creature has other fantastic and inaccurate names: brick seamoth, long-tailed dragonfish, and more. It’s really just a cool-looking fish. Found in the waters off of Asia, it has wing-like fins, and spends its time on the muddy seafloor.

7. NAVAL SHIPWORM

The naval shipworm is not a worm. It’s something much, much weirder: a kind of clam with a long, wormlike body that doesn’t fit in its tiny shell. It uses this modified shell to dig into wood, which it eats. The naval shipworm, and other shipworms, burrow through all sorts of submerged wood—including wooden ships.

8. WHIP SPIDERS

These leggy creatures are not spiders; they’re in a separate scientific family. They also don’t whip anything. Whip spiders have two long legs that look whip-like, but that are used as sense organs—sort of like an insect’s antennae. Despite their intimidating appearance, whip spiders are harmless to humans.

9. VELVET ANTS

A photograph of a velvet ant
Craig Pemberton, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

There are thousands of species of velvet ants … and all are wasps, not ants. These insects have a fuzzy, velvety look. Don’t pat them, though—velvet ants aren’t aggressive, but the females pack a powerful sting.

10. SLOW WORM

The slow worm is not a worm. It’s a legless reptile that lives in parts of Europe and Asia. Though it looks like a snake, it became legless through a totally separate evolutionary path from the one snakes took. It has many traits in common with lizards, such as eyelids and external ear holes.

11. TRAVELER'S PALM

This beautiful tree from Madagascar has been planted in tropical gardens all around the world. It’s not actually a palm, but belongs to a family that includes the bird of paradise flower. In its native home, the traveler’s palm reproduces with the help of lemurs that guzzle its nectar and spread pollen from tree to tree.

12. VAMPIRE SQUID

Drawing of a vampire squid
Carl Chun, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

This deep-sea critter isn’t a squid. It’s the only surviving member of a scientific order that has characteristics of both octopuses and squids. And don’t let the word “vampire” scare you; it only eats bits of falling marine debris (dead stuff, poop, and so on), and it’s only about 11 inches long.

13. MALE FERN & LADY FERN

Early botanists thought that these two ferns belonged to the same species. They figured that the male fern was the male of the species because of its coarse appearance. The lady fern, on the other hand, has lacy fronds and seemed more ladylike. Gender stereotypes aside, male and lady Ferns belong to entirely separate species, and almost all ferns can make both male and female reproductive cells. If ferns start looking manly or womanly to you, maybe you should take a break from botany.

14. TENNESSEE WARBLER

You will never find a single Tennessee warbler nest in Tennessee. This bird breeds mostly in Canada, and spends the winter in Mexico and more southern places. But early ornithologist Alexander Wilson shot one in 1811 in Tennessee during its migration, and the name stuck.

15. CANADA THISTLE

Though it’s found across much of Canada, this spiky plant comes from Europe and Asia. Early European settlers brought Canada thistle seeds to the New World, possibly as accidental hitchhikers in grain shipments. A tough weed, the plant soon spread across the continent, taking root in fields and pushing aside crops. So why does it have this inaccurate name? Americans may have been looking for someone to blame for this plant—so they blamed Canada.

A version of this story originally ran in 2015.

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18 Tea Infusers to Make Teatime More Exciting
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Make steeping tea more fun with these quirky tea infusers.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. SOAKING IT UP; $7.49

man-shaped tea infuser
Amazon

That mug of hot water might eventually be a drink for you, but first it’s a hot bath for your new friend, who has special pants filled with tea.

Buy on Amazon.

2. A FLYING TEA BOX; $25.98

There’s no superlaser on this Death Star, just tea.

Buy on Amazon.

3. SPACE STATION; $9.99

astronaut tea infuser
ThinkGeek

This astronaut's mission? Orbit the rim of your mug until you're ready to pull the space station diffuser out.

Buy on ThinkGeek.

4. BE REFINED; $12.99

This pipe works best with Earl Grey.

Buy on Amazon.

5. A RIBBITING OPTION; $10.93

This frog hangs on to the side of your mug with a retractable tongue. When the tea is ready, you can put him back on his lily pad.

Buy on Amazon.

6. ‘TEA’ ALL LIVE IN A YELLOW SUBMARINE; $5.95

It’s just like the movie, only with tea instead of Beatles.

Buy on Amazon.

7. SHARK ATTACK; $6.99

shark tea infuser
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This fearsome shark patrols the bottom of your mug waiting for prey. For extra fun, use red tea to look like the end of a feeding frenzy.

Buy at Cost Plus World Market.

8. PERFECT FOR A RAINY DAY; $12.40

This umbrella’s handle conveniently hooks to the side of your mug.

Buy on Amazon.

9. AN EGGCELLENT INFUSER; $5.75

cracked egg tea infuser
Amazon

Sometimes infusers are called tea eggs, and this one takes the term to a new, literal level.

Buy on Amazon.

10. FOR SQUIRRELY DRINKERS; $8.95

If you’re all right with a rodent dunking its tail into your drink, this is the infuser for you.

Buy on Amazon.

11. HANGING OUT; $12.85

This pug is happy to hang onto your mug and keep you company while you wait for the tea to be ready.

Buy on Amazon.

12. ANOTHER SHARK OPTION; $5.99

If you thought letting that other shark infuser swim around in the deep water of your glass was too scary, this one perches on the edge, too busy chomping on your mug to worry about humans.

Buy on Amazon.

13. RUBBER DUCKIE, YOU’RE THE ONE; $8.95

Let this rubber duckie peacefully float in your cup and make teatime lots of fun.

Buy on Amazon.

14. DIVING DEEP; $8.25

This old-timey deep-sea diver comes with an oxygen tank that you can use to pull it out.

Buy on Amazon.

15. MAKE SWEET TEA; $10

This lollipop won't actually make your tea any sweeter, but you can always add some sugar after.

Buy on Amazon.

16. A SEASONAL FAVORITE; $7.67

When Santa comes, give him some tea to go with the cookies.

Buy on Amazon.

17. FLORAL TEA; $14.99

Liven up any cup of tea with this charming flower. When you’re done, you can pop it right back into its pot.

Buy on Live Infused.

18. KEEP IT TRADITIONAL; $7.97

If you’re nostalgic for the regular kind of tea bag, you can get reusable silicon ones that look almost the same.

Buy on Amazon.

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