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Learn How to Pick Locks With This Transparent Tutorial

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In the movies, picking a lock looks like a matter of sticking a bobby pin through a keyhole and twisting it around a little. In reality, it’s a complicated process that involves assessing the interior structure of the lock and trying out various different tactics until you get it right.

In the video below, YouTuber the HelpfulLockPicker uses a clear acrylic lock to demonstrate basic lock structure and how to manipulate the interior of a lock until it springs open. (Please note that Mental Floss does not endorse breaking into property that doesn’t belong to you.)

Within the clear lock, you can see six metal driver pins, each held down by a coiled spring. The springs push the pins down into the metal tube, physically obstructing the lock from turning. Below those pins are key pins, which are different lengths. When you stick your key into the lock, the combination of the teeth of the key and those key pins push up on the driver pins, pushing them out of the metal plug and allowing you to turn the key and open the lock.

The video then shows how you can rotate that metal tube surrounding the keyhole using a tension wrench, making it easier to open the lock using just a hook. He tests out how springy each driver pin is, clicking open the one with the most tension and springing the lock open.

HelpfulLockPicker also shows a few techniques that seem a little less intensive. He demonstrates “zipping,” a maneuver that works kind of like ripping off a Band-Aid. You turn the lock with the tension wrench, stick the hook all the way in, and pull it out quickly while pushing up, knocking out all the driver pins in the process. Then there’s “rocking,” which involves an “L Rake” pick that kind of looks like a key in itself. If you rock the pick back and forth while the wrench keeps the lock turned, eventually it should pop open. Or you could use a Bogota rake, another tool, and just pull it back and forth through the plug until it releases.

Lockpicking may not be quite as easy as he makes it look, especially on locks more complicated than this, but the video definitely makes it seem like an accessible skill to acquire in an afternoon, as long as you can get your hands on some tools.

Watch the full video for more lockpicking tips.

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George Washington’s Incredible Hair Routine

America's Founding Fathers had some truly defining locks, but we tend to think of those well-coiffed white curls—with their black ribbon hair ties and perfectly-managed frizz—as being wigs. Not so in the case of the main man himself, George Washington.

As Robert Krulwich reported at National Geographic, a 2010 biography on our first president—Washington: A Life, by Ron Chernow—reveals that the man “never wore a wig.” In fact, his signature style was simply the result of an elaborately constructed coiffure that far surpasses most morning hair routines, and even some “fancy” hair routines.

The style Washington was sporting was actually a tough look for his day. In the late 18th century, such a hairdo would have been worn by military men.

While the hair itself was all real, the color was not. Washington’s true hue was a reddish brown color, which he powdered in a fashion that’s truly delightful to imagine. George would (likely) don a powdering robe, dip a puff made of silk strips into his powder of choice (there are a few options for what he might have used), bend his head over, and shake the puff out over his scalp in a big cloud.

To achieve the actual ‘do, Washington kept his hair long and would then pull it back into a tight braid or simply tie it at the back. This helped to showcase the forehead, which was very in vogue at the time. On occasion, he—or an attendant—would bunch the slack into a black silk bag at the nape of the neck, perhaps to help protect his clothing from the powder. Then he would fluff the hair on each side of his head to make “wings” and secure the look with pomade or good old natural oils.

To get a better sense of the play-by-play, check out the awesome illustrations by Wendy MacNaughton that accompany Krulwich’s post.

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"American Mall," Bloomberg
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Unwinnable Video Game Challenges You to Keep a Shopping Mall in Business
"American Mall," Bloomberg
"American Mall," Bloomberg

Shopping malls, once the cultural hub of every suburb in America, have become a punchline in the e-commerce era. There are plenty of malls around today, but they tend to be money pits, considering the hundreds of "dead malls" haunting the landscape. Just how hard is it to keep a mall afloat in the current economy? American Mall, a new video game from Bloomberg, attempts to give an answer.

After choosing which tycoon character you want as your stand-in, you're thrown into a mall—rendered in 1980s-style graphics—already struggling to stay in business. The building is filled with rats and garbage you have to clean up if you want to keep shoppers happy. Every few seconds you're contacted by another store owner begging you to lower their rent, and you must either take the loss or risk them packing up for good. When stores are vacated, it's your job to fill them, but it turns out there aren't too many businesses interested in setting up shop in a dying mall.

You can try gimmicks like food trucks and indoor playgrounds to keep customers interested, but in the end your mall will bleed too much money to support itself. You can try playing the bleak game for yourself here—maybe it will put some of the retail casualties of the last decade into perspective.

[h/t Co.Design]

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