America's most dangerous national parks

Scary photo, huh? It's a park in China, not the U.S., on Huashan Mountain called "ear-touching cliff," so named because if you don't hug that rock face as you walk (thereby pressing your ear against it) you might end up like Wile E. Coyote -- pancake-flat, at the bottom of the chasm. No, America's parks aren't quite this dangerous, but we've got some doozies, according to a comprehensive 2002 survey of park rangers. Here are some of the country's most dangerous parks, and why:

#1: Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
It's on the Arizona-Mexico border, at a spot where up to 1,000 illegal immigrants pass each day. 70,000 lbs. of pot were confiscated here in 2001, and the park doesn't have enough rangers to stem the tide.

#3: Padre Island National Seashore
Besides drug smuggling and illegal immigrant traffic, this Texas Gulf Coast park has to contend with endangered turtle poachers and illegal commercial fishing.

#6: Grand Canyon National Park
Overcrowding encourages petty crimes like car theft and pickpocketing, and overzealous hikers tend to get themselves stranded in hard-to-find, hard-to-reach spots, where they -- ulp -- die of thirst and exposure.

#7: San Juan National Historic Site
This Puerto Rican park is plagued by urban gangs.

#10: Gateway East, Sandy Hook Unit
The only beach in New Jersey to allow alcohol and nudity is, perhaps not coincidentally, also one of its most popular, receiving more than two million visitors per year. Combine millions of nude drunks with what the state considers some pretty big terrorist targets floating past in the major shipping lanes the park is adjacent to, and you've got a potential problem.

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


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