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16 People Who Tweeted Themselves Into Unemployment

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Last night an offensive tweet from a PR executive on her way to Africa sparked a social media firestorm. By the time she landed, her employer, Barry Diller's IAC, had deleted her from the company website. Twitter may limit you to 140 characters, but that’s more than enough room to stick your foot in your mouth.

1. Taylor Palmisano

Image: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

In 2011, Taylor Palmisano—@itstaytime, “Majoring in Finance with an emphasis in Taynomics”—went on a series of racist Twitter rants. Sometime between now and then, she landed a job as deputy finance director for the campaign of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. You know where this is headed, of course; the terrible tweets were discovered and Palmisano was promptly booted from the position. Not helping her case: She recently sent a roundly mocked holiday letter to Walker supporters urging them to forego toys for the kids this year and instead donate to the Walker campaign, which is “the gift of a Wisconsin that we can all be proud of.”

2. Jofi Joseph

Think that tweeting under an alias will allow you to rant about your job under a cloak of anonymity? Think again. In October, Jofi Joseph, a director at the National Security Staff at the White House, was outed as the man behind @natsecwonk, a gossipy account dedicated to skewering White House officials. Joseph was removed from his job after an elaborate sting by co-workers uncovered that he was responsible for tweets such as “Vitriol against @arifleischer entirely justified. He married a woman a decade younger than him—and she's as ugly as he is! #jackass” and “Has rich kid Tagg Romney ever even been in a fight? [...] He needs to tell his mom to lose about 15 pounds.”

3. Nicole Crowther

Image: Huffington Post

Hell hath no fury like Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk scorned. When Glee extra Nicole Crowther tweeted a spoiler of a pivotal scene, series co-creator Falchuk responded with, “hope you’re qualified to work in something besides entertainment,” and he wasn’t kidding. The actress later said she was suspended from multiple casting agencies for weeks, and the agency that does the casting for Glee account told her that she’d never again work for any show they handle.

4. Sunith Baheerathan

Bad idea: Tweeting about drug deals. Worse idea: Tweeting about making drug deals at work. Worst idea: Tweeting your specific work location so cops can find you and you lose your job. That’s essentially what happened to Sunith Baheerathan, a worker at Mr. Lube in Vaughn, near Toronto. Not long after he tweeted “Any dealers in Vaughan wanna make a 20sac chop? Come to Keele/Langstaff Mr. Lube, need a spliff,” local police happened across Baheerathan’s not-so-coded message. Const. Blair McQuillan of York Regional Police responded with, “Awesome! Can we come too?” and notified Mr. Lube of the potential drug exchange. Baheerathan was fired.

5. Two Firefighters

Also in the Toronto area, two firefighters were dismissed after posting sexist comments to their Twitter accounts earlier this year. What kind of sexist comments, you ask? Here are a couple of gems:

"Reject a woman and she will never let it go. One of the many defects of their kind. Also weak arms."
"Would swat [sic] her in the back of the head been considered abuse or a way to reset the brain?"

6. Phil Hardy

Image: Buzzfeed

When your job is to run a corporate or professional Twitter account, it’s pretty easy to forget to log out of the work account and into your personal account before making witty quips and observations. Phil Hardy discovered this for himself after tweeting personal thoughts under Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador’s name. “Me likey Broke Girls,” he wrote, referring to the Kat Dennings comedy on CBS. The Tweet was only up for 14 seconds before Hardy realized his mistake, but the damage was done, and Labrador fired him.

7. Gene Morphis

Like many people, Gene Morphis took to social media to vent about his job. Unlike many people, Morphis was the CFO of Francesca’s Holdings Corp at the time, proving that even high ranking corporate officers aren’t immune to inadvisable Twitter rants. Morphis was fired after tweeting things such as “Cramming for earnings call like a final. I thought I had outgrown that...” and “Earnings released. Conference call completed. How do you like me now Mr. Shorty?"

8. Carly McKinney

Unless you’re a Kardashian, tweeting pictures of your scantily-clad self has the potential to be a career-ender. But 23-year-old former high school teacher Carly McKinney can top that: Not only did she tweet NSFW pictures of herself, she was often smoking pot in the photos. She also referred to one of her 10th-grade students as “jailbait” and admitted that she was high while grading papers. Though she claimed it was a parody account, McKinney was fired.

9. Gilbert Gottfried

Image: Huffington Post

Just in case you missed the whole uproar the first time around, Gilbert Gottfried made a series of insensitive jokes about the 2011 tsunami in Japan. Aflac certainly didn't find them funny—Gottfried provided the voice of the Aflac duck before the insurance company caught wind of his caustic comments, which is when they promptly fired him from the gig. "Gilbert’s recent comments about the crisis in Japan were lacking in humor and certainly do not represent the thoughts and feelings of anyone at Aflac,” said the company's chief marketing officer.

10. Catherine Deveny

Gilbert certainly isn't the first comedian to make a tasteless tweet and pay the price. Australian comedian Catherine Deveny let loose with a few offensive tweets in 2010, starting with Anzac Day in April, then moving on to unlikely target 12-year-old Bindi Irwin. "I do so hope Bindi Irwin gets laid," Deveny tweeted. She was fired from her job as columnist for The Age magazine two days later.

11. Grad Student "Cisco Fatty"

Cisco Fatty is one of the first incidents of tweeting-before-thinking resulting in a pink slip—in this instance, before the employee had even officially started. Upon getting a job offer, a grad student tweeted, "Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work." Her heart probably dropped right out of her chest when she got this response: "Who is the hiring manager. I'm sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web."

Thanks in part to others who were outraged at her lack of gratitude, her identity was discovered and the job offer was rescinded. Citizens of the Internet have since recounted the tale, referring to the sacked student as "Cisco Fatty."

12. Tweeter for Chrysler

Image: Vice

After a long and storied history of sordid tweets like "Good morning. How was everyone's weekend?" and "If you were rolling up to the red carpet, what Chrysler vehicle would you like to be stepping out of?", the official Chrysler account said, "I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f***ing drive." Turns out the guy who was tweeting for the company thought he was signed into his own account. 

13. A Los Angeles Waiter

I'm sure waitstaff in the L.A. area could tell all kinds of horror stories about the thoughtless celebrities they encounter, but perhaps it's best not to do it in such a public forum. When a waiter at Barney Greengrass was stiffed on a tip from actress Jane Adams, he complained about it via Twitter. She somehow came across it and returned to the restaurant a month later, bearing $3 and a printout of the tweet sullying her name. The waiter was fired.

14. Mike Bacsik

Mike Bacsik, a former MLB pitcher, was working for Dallas radio station The Ticket when he tweeted this comment about the San Antonio Spurs' win against the Mavericks: "Congrats to all the dirty Mexicans in San Antonio." Although he tweeted an apology for his racist remarks the next day—a tactic Gilbert Gottfried also tried—the damage was done and he was fired from The Ticket.

15. Octavia Nasr

Even CNN analysts make mistakes. Octavia Nasr was CNN's Senior Editor of Mideast affairs until this tweet in July 2010: "Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah… One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot." CNN fired her, concerned that the statement had compromised her credibility.

16. California Pizza Kitchen Employee

When one California Pizza Kitchen employee expressed his unhappiness with the chain's new uniforms—"@calpizzakitchen black button ups are the lamest s*** ever!!! #CaliporniaSkeetzaKitchen"—the company tracked him down and fired him. The thing is, he's a YouTube user with a pretty huge following, so you can guess what he did. Check out his video retort here.

This post originally appeared a few weeks ago, after this happened.

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Karrah Kobus/NPG Records via Getty Images
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5 Killer Pieces of Rock History Up for Auction Now (Including Prince’s Guitar)
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Karrah Kobus/NPG Records via Getty Images

If you’ve ever wanted to own a piece of rock history, now is the time. A whole host of cool music memorabilia from the 20th century is going up for sale through Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles as part of its “Icons and Idols” sale. If you’ve got the dough, you can nab everything from leather chairs from Graceland to a shirt worn by Jimi Hendrix to never-before-available prints that Joni Mitchell signed and gave to her friends. Here are five highlights from the auction:

1. ELVIS’S NUNCHUCKS

Elvis’s nunchucks
Courtesy Julien's Auctions

Elvis’s karate skills sometimes get a bad rap, but the King earned his first black belt in 1960, and went on to become a seventh-degree black belt before opening his own studio in 1974. You can cherish a piece of his martial arts legacy in the form of his nunchaku. One was broken during his training, but the other is still in ready-to-use shape. (But please don’t use it.) It seems Elvis wasn’t super convinced of his own karate skills, though, because he also supposedly carried a police baton (which you can also buy) for his personal protection.

2. PRINCE’S GUITAR

A blue guitar used by Prince
Courtesy Julien's Auctions

Prince’s blue Cloud guitar, estimated to be worth between $60,000 and $80,000, appeared on stage with him in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The custom guitar was made just for Prince by Cloud’s luthier (as in, guitar maker) Andy Beech. The artist first sold it at a 1994 auction to benefit relief efforts for the L.A. area’s devastating Northridge earthquake.

3. KURT COBAIN’S CHEERLEADER OUTFIT

Kurt Cobain wearing a cheerleader outfit in the pages of Rolling Stone
Courtesy Julien's Auctions

The Nirvana frontman wore the bright-yellow cheerleader’s uniform from his alma mater, J.M. Weatherwax High School in Aberdeen, Washington, during a photo shoot for a January 1994 issue of Rolling Stone, released just a few months before his death.

4. MICHAEL JACKSON’S WHITE GLOVE

A white glove covered in rhinestones
Courtesy Julien's Auctions

A young Michael Jackson wore this bejeweled right-hand glove on his 1981 Triumph Tour, one of the first of many single gloves he would don over the course of his career. Unlike later incarnations, this one isn’t a custom-made glove with hand-sewn crystals, but a regular glove topped with a layer of rhinestones cut into the shape of the glove and sewn on top.

The auction house is also selling a pair of jeans the star wore to his 2003 birthday party, as well as other clothes he wore for music videos and performances.

5. WOOD FROM ABBEY ROAD STUDIOS

A piece of wood in a frame under a picture of The Beatles
Courtesy Julien's Auctions

You can’t walk the halls of Abbey Road Studios, but you can pretend. First sold in 1986, the piece of wood in this frame reportedly came from Studio Two, a recording space that hosted not only The Beatles (pictured), but Pink Floyd, Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, and others.

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5 Dubious Historical Antidotes for Poison (and What Actually Works)
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An artificial bezoar stone from Goa, India
Wellcome Images // CC BY 4.0

When it comes to their health, humans will believe just about anything. In this extract from the new book Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything, authors Lydia Kang, MD, and Nate Pedersen discuss some of the more questionable ways people once tried to protect themselves from poison—whether or not the methods actually worked.

Poison is everywhere. Naturally or unnaturally, it can be in the soil (arsenic), in the air (carbon monoxide), in your drinks (lead), and in your food (cyanide). With so much danger around, it’s no wonder humans have obsessed over finding a universal antidote—the one thing that could save us from all toxins. Imagine you’re a medieval prince about to inherit the throne. Chances are, there are a lot of power-hungry wannabes waiting in the wings. A little arsenic or hemlock might be your best friend or your worst nightmare. Just in case, best have an antidote on standby.

For millennia, a certain amount of magical thinking was employed when arming oneself against poison because science was inconveniently slow to catch up. So grab your handy unicorn horn and a bezoar, and let’s take a look.

1. BEZOARS

Bezoars have been used for centuries as antidotes to poisons. A bezoar is solid mass of undigested food, plant fibers, or hair found in the digestive tracts of animals, including deer, porcupines, fish, and, yes, humans. Anyone with a cat is familiar with the less-cool feline version: hairballs.

Bezoars and other stone-like items created by animals often had a good story behind them. Legends told of deer that would eat poisonous snakes and become immune or cry tears that solidified into poison-curing stones. First-century Arabic author al-Birumi claimed bezoars could protect against one poison called “the snot of Satan,” which we hope never ever to encounter. By the 12th century, when Europe became plagued with, uh, plagues, the bezoar crept into pharmacopeias as panaceas and alexipharmics (poison antidotes).

Bezoars were a seductive notion for the rich and royal, who were at risk of assassination. The stones were often enclosed in bejeweled gold for display or worn as amulets. Indian bezoars, in particular, were sought for life-threatening fevers, poisonous bites, bleeding, jaundice, and melancholy. Consumers were also known to scrape off a bit of bezoar and add it to their drinks for heart health and kidney stones. These tonics were sometimes adulterated with toxic mercury or antimony, which caused vomiting and diarrhea, making buyers think they were effective.

But were they? One team of researchers soaked bezoars in an arsenic-laced solution and found that the stones absorbed the arsenic or that the poison was neutralized. Hard to say if it worked well enough to cure a fatal dose. Ambroise Paré, one of the preeminent French physicians of the 16th century, was also a doubter. The king’s cook, who’d been stealing silver, was given the choice between hanging or being Paré’s lab rat. He chose the latter. After the cook consumed poison, Paré looked on as a bezoar was stuffed down his throat. Six hours later, he died wracked with pain. Perhaps he chose ... poorly?

2. MITHRIDATES

This antidote was named after Mithridates VI, the king of Pontus and Armenia Minor. Born in 134 BCE, he pretty much invented the phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” by consuming poisons daily to prevent his own assassination. His royal home was stocked with stingray spines, toxic mushrooms, scorpions, mineral poisons, and a poisonous plant–filled garden. He was so unpoisonable that after his son took over his kingdom and he faced execution, he couldn’t even commit suicide by poison! He begged a guard to stab him to death. (It worked.)

Though the king’s actual recipe for the antidote is nowhere to be found, versions began to circulate after his death, and they became synonymous with the king himself. Compounds with lengthy and expensive ingredient lists prevailed, including iris, cardamom, anise, frankincense, myrrh, ginger, and saffron. In the first century, Pliny the Elder snarkily remarked, “The Mithridatic antidote is composed of fifty-four ingredients ... Which of the gods, in the name of Truth, fixed these absurd proportions? ... It is plainly a showy parade of the art, and a colossal boast of science.”

Showy or not, people would take the extensive mix of herbs, pound them together with honey, and eat a nut-sized portion to cure themselves. At least it endowed them with expensive-smelling breath.

3. HORNS

An apothecary shop sign in the shape of a unicorn
An ivory pharmacy sign in the shape of a unicorn's head
Wellcome Images // CC BY 4.0

Unicorn horns have been considered a part of antidote legend since the mythical beast galloped into literature around 300 BCE. For centuries afterward, real earthly beasts would sacrifice their lives and their horns to slake our thirst for the miraculous, nonexistent animal, including rhinoceroses, narwhals, and oryx. Even fossilized ammonites were used. It was believed that drinking vessels made of such horns might neutralize poisons, and wounds could be cured by holding them close by. In the 16th century, Mary, Queen of Scots reportedly used a unicorn horn to protect her from poisoning. Too bad it didn’t prevent her beheading.

4. PEARLS

Pearls have long been thought to be powerful antidotes. A beautiful, rare gem created by the homely oyster, a pearl is born out of annoyance (the mollusk secretes iridescent nacre to cover an irritant, like a parasite or grain of sand). Pretty as they are, they’re about as useful as the chalky antacid tablets on your bedside table; both are chiefly made of calcium carbonate. Good for a stomachache after some spicy food, but not exactly miraculous.

Pearl powder has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a variety of diseases, and Ayurvedic physicians used it as an antidote in the Middle Ages. It was also reported to make people immortal. An old Taoist recipe recommended taking a long pearl and soaking it in malt, “serpent’s gall,” honeycomb, and pumice stone. When softened, it would be pulled like taffy and cut into bite-sized pieces to eat, and voilà! You would suddenly no longer need food to stay alive. Cleopatra famously drank down a large and costly pearl dissolved in wine vinegar, though in that case she wasn’t avoiding poison. She didn’t want to lose a bet with Antony—which might have fatally injured her pride.

5. THERIAC

Albarello vase for theriac, Italy, 1641
A vase for theriac, Italy, 1641
Wellcome Images // CC BY 4.0

Theriac was an herbal concoction created in the first century by Emperor Nero’s physician, Andromachus, who was reported to have Mithridates’s secret notes. It was a mashed formula of about 70 ingredients, including cinnamon, opium, rose, iris, lavender, and acacia in a honey base. In the 12th century, theriac made in Venice was branded as particularly special, and Venetian treacle (derived from a Middle English translation of theriac) became a hot commodity. Its public, dramatic production often attracted curious crowds.

By the 18th century, cheaper golden syrup was substituted for honey. As treacle began to lose its luster as a treatment, its definition as an herbal remedy disappeared from common vernacular. But the sweet syrup remained. Which is why when we think of treacle, we think of treacle tarts, not a fancy means of saving ourselves from a deathly poisoning.

BONUS: WHAT ACTUALLY WORKS

Thankfully, science has brought us a wide range of antidotes for many items we shouldn’t be exposed to in dangerous quantities, if at all. N-acetylcysteine, fondly referred to as NAC by doctors, saves us from acetaminophen overdoses. Ethanol can treat antifreeze poisoning. Atropine, ironically one of the main components of plants in the toxic nightshade family (such as mandrake), can treat poisoning from some dangerous fertilizers and chemical nerve agents used as weapons. For years, poisonings were treated with emetics, though it turns out that plain old carbon—in the form of activated charcoal—can adsorb poisons (the poisons stick to the surface of the charcoal) in the digestive system before they’re dissolved and digested by the body.

As long as the natural world and its humans keep making things to kill us off, we’ll keep developing methods to not die untimely deaths.

We’ll just leave the fancy hairballs off the list.

The cover of the book Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything
Workman Publishing

Excerpt from Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang, MD and Nate Pedersen/Workman Publishing. Used with permission.

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