5 Clubs With Very Specific Membership Requirements


In the immortal words of Groucho Marx, "I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member." Luckily for Groucho, there are plenty of organizations whose specific membership requirements make them either tantalizingly elusive, unique, or both. Here are five such clubs from today and yesteryear that you may not have known about. 



According to The National Center for Science Education, Creationist groups often put together lists of the (very few) scientists who don't support the theory of evolution as a way to legitimize themselves. So the NCSE decided to fight back with a list of its own: Project Steve. The members of Project Steve—all 1389 of them, as of March 7, 2016—explicitly defend evolution as a scientific fact. They also all happen to be named Steve (or some variation of Steve).

On its website, the NCSE calls Project Steve "a tongue-in-cheek parody of a long-standing creationist tradition" of making lists of doubtful scientists. "Creationists draw up these lists to try to convince the public that evolution is somehow being rejected by scientists, that it is a 'theory in crisis,'" the NCSE explains. "Not everyone realizes that this claim is unfounded." Because Steves represent around 1 percent of scientists, the project drives home the fact that "that tens of thousands of scientists support evolution," the NCSE writes, and scientific consensus on the matter is overwhelming.

Why Steve? The NCSE was honoring the late evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould.


If you’ve ever used a Martin-Baker ejection seat to escape an aircraft in an emergency, then you’re qualified to join the Ejection Tie Club. According to Martin-Baker, “Every Club member is given a certificate, membership card, patch, tie, pin or a brooch for the women.” Some stories of the Ejection Tie Club members are shared on their website, including the story of Former Captain Gregg O. Hanson, USAF, Ejectee #2298:

“On June 13, 1972, 60 miles northwest of Hanoi North Vietnam, my F-4E was hit by an atoll air to air missile. The jet immediately went out of control. A witness from another aircraft stated that 'from the aft edge of the wing back there was one giant fireball.' Pulling negative G's I used the lower handle to pull myself back into the seat and initiate the ejection. My WSO Lt. Richard Fulton and I both ejected safely. One big thank you. Without Martin-Baker I would have missed my wonderful wife, children, and of course adorable grandchildren.”

Since 1957, there have been over 5800 registered club members. You can read more stories of some of the fortunate survivors here.



After spending months or even years designing a structure that you expect to grace the skyline for generations, architects recognized the necessity of creating a support network for those who have had their work destroyed—and The Rubble Club was born. To gain admittance, there are a few requirements: The architect must still be living; his or her building must have been built with the expectation of permanence; and it must have been deliberately destroyed without the architect’s involvement.

According to The Rubble Club's website, the group was created by Isi Metzstein at an Aberdeen School of Architects external examination dinner in the late '90s. "We don’t want to shame people," Metzstein said. "It’s a very touchy matter whether replacements are the superior or not, it’s subject to the vagaries of public opinion and the architect is never in charge, they are always at the behest of instructions from the client.”

In terms of numbers of members, "There's no actual members list," John Glenday, Rubble Club secretary, told mental_floss in an email. "We are unique in that self-knowledge is the only route to membership!"


Those who have used a parachute to survive a disabled aircraft are entitled to contact the parachute maker for a pin and a certificate to validate their admittance into the Caterpillar Club, whose motto is “Life depends on a silken thread.” (Technically, the Caterpillar Club is for those saved by Irvin Parachutes, but no one really makes that distinction anymore.) You’re not allowed in if you had planned on jumping out of the plane, even if there was an accident that caused you to jump before schedule. Membership of the club requires a nominal initiation fee of $10, and although formal efforts to organize into chapters dwindled after the Vietnam War, The Caterpillar Club reports that "thousands of airmen, flyers and passengers have enrolled in this organization."

5. THE 300 CLUB

The 300 Club is reserved for an exclusive group of adventurers who will subject themselves to one of the more physically grueling scenarios one could imagine: Warming yourself up in a 200°F sauna at the Amundsen-Scott research station on Antarctica, and then streaking naked around the nearby ceremonial South Pole (pictured above) while temperatures are -100°F or colder. The "300" name refers to the full range of temperatures your body experiences, and according to The Atlantic, "One participant described the experience of running outside as feeling 'like somebody was hitting me with a tennis racket full of needles.'”

Seeking camaraderie and tradition in the isolation of the South Pole seems to be a natural human instinct. Lawrence Palinkas, an anthropologist at the University of Southern California, told The Atlantic, “Polar expeditioners have always had certain rituals and customs that have involved activities that are somewhat hazardous but also serve the same function of providing a means of bonding together."

It doesn't always reach -100°F in Antarctica, so when it does, would-be 300 Clubbers need to be ready to go. With their Bunny boots (the nickname given to the white government-issued boots for extreme cold) at the ready and hopefully a few friends with flashlights guiding the way, anyone crazy enough to head out into the cold has a shot at joining one of the most exclusive clubs known to man.



Stephen Pile’s 1979 bestseller The Book of Heroic Failures included an application for readers to become members of “The Not Terribly Good Club of Great Britain,” in which similarly inept people could share stories of their respective failures. The application form asked for “main areas of incompetence,” “subsidiary areas of incompetence,” and “cases of sustained chaos occasioned by any of the above.” You may think that people would shy away from admitting their own failures, but apparently this didn't prevent the group from becoming extremely popular. In his second book, The Return of Heroic Failures, Pile reported that the club needed to be dissolved after over 30,000 people wanted to become members; its success meant it had been "a failure as a failure." If you still want to make it into the Not Terribly Good Club of Great Britain, your best bet is starting your own unofficial chapter: hoping that no one else shows up and the snacks are terrible. 

California Startup Pays Users to Consume Less Energy

You may know that turning off the lights when leaving a room or lowering the thermostat before bed are smart habits, but with no way to see their immediate impact, they can be hard to keep. OhmConnect is built around the premise that more people would follow through with these actions if they had a little motivation. As Fast Company reports, the San Francisco-based startup rewards California residents for their green choices with real cash.

The mission of the company is to prevent energy grids from using costly and dirty emergency power plants by encouraging customers to conserve power when demand outweighs supply. During “OhmHours,” users receive a text suggesting energy-saving practices. They can choose to opt out or agree to make an effort to lower their consumption. If their usage in the next hour is lower than the average for their home on that type of day (weekdays are compared to the weekday average; weekends to the weekend average) they receive points which can be redeemed for money. The more people participate on a regular basis, the more points they’re able to earn.

Participants in homes equipped with smart devices like a Nest thermostat or Belkin smart switches can program them to automatically consume less during those times. Nearly a fifth of the user base chooses some type of automatic response.

Someone living in a small apartment participating once a week has the potential to make $40 to $50 a year, while a family living in a larger home can earn up to $200. The California energy grid has also reaped the benefits: Since launching in 2014, OhmConnect has saved the state a total of 100 megawatts (the equivalent of not running two emergency power plants at high-demand times). California residents who get their energy through Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, or San Diego Gas & Electric can sign up to participate online. If you don’t live in the state but are interested in the service, you may get a chance to try it out soon: OhmConnect plans to expand to Texas, Toronto, and potentially the East Coast.

[h/t Fast Company]

7 Eco-Friendly Options for Your Body After Death

You drive a hybrid. You eat local. You recycle. But odds are your deathcare choices won’t reflect this eco-friendly lifestyle. Though it’s not likely to be discussed at a funeral, the popular methods of body disposal—traditional burial and cremation—both pose major environmental hazards.

According to the Natural Death Centre, a single cremation uses about as much gas and electricity as a 500-mile road trip. The process also emits around 250 pounds of carbon dioxide, as much as the average American home produces in about six days.

Traditional burial is arguably worse from an environmental perspective: Casket burials and the associated materials use 100,000 tons of steel and 1.5 million tons of concrete each year, as well as some 77,000 trees and 4.3 million gallons of embalming fluid. There is also worry that some of that carcinogenic embalming fluid eventually leaks into the earth, polluting water and soil.

Historically speaking, the only after-death options available were natural ones, but those fell out of favor in the United States with the rise of the industrial age, embalming, and the professionalization of funeral director as a career. In recent years, natural interment has made a comeback, with promises to protect the planet and pocketbook alike—green burial also happens to be more affordable, on the whole.

Here are seven eco-friendly ways to make your last act on earth a kind one.


Humans love eating mushrooms. Coeico founder and creator of the mushroom burial suit Jae Rhim Lee wants it the other way around. She’s created a pair of head-to-toe “ninja pajamas” lined with special mushroom spores to suit—and eventually consume—a dead body. The mushrooms, she says, are specially trained to devour dead human tissue.

The human body is filled with toxins that can be returned to the atmosphere in cremation and other forms of body disposal. Mushrooms have a knack for absorbing and purifying such toxins—a process known as mycoremediation—leaving the earth cleaner than they found it. Once the tissue is broken down, according to Lee, the mushrooms transmit the nutrients from the body to an intricate network of fungi in the soil that passes the sustenance on to trees. That means your last act could be feeding the forest with your now-purified remains. It’s an appealing thought for the green at heart, even though “eaten by mushrooms” may not be exactly how they pictured going out.


The slightly wavy surface of blue water

With aquamation—also known as water cremation or alkaline hydrolysis—the body is placed in a stainless steel vessel filled with a solution of 95 percent water and 5 percent potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide. A combination of rushing alkaline waters and temperatures around 350°F causes the body to dissolve in essentially the same process that happens to a body left on the earth or in a stream—only what would take months in nature takes about 20 hours in an aquamation pod. By the end, all that’s left is the skeleton, or parts thereof, which is ground up into a white powder with a pearly sheen. The remains are given to the loved ones, who may choose to scatter them like ashes or place them in a biodegradable urn. Advocates say the process emits about a fifth of the carbon dioxide of traditional cremation. Aquamation was legalized in California in late 2017, joining 14 other U.S. states and three Canadian provinces.


In the early 1970s, anthropologist William Bass wanted to study how bodies decompose naturally. Using donated cadavers, he created a “farm” for forensic anthropologists to study a wide array of body decomposition scenarios. What does it look like if a body rots in a swamp? If it’s eaten by maggots? Crows? Welcome to the body farm, where disturbing dreams come true.

Texas lays claim to the largest body farm in the U.S., located on Freeman Ranch at Texas State University. The body farm is responsible for massive developments in criminal science and thanatology (the study of death); it’s aided in critical discoveries including the “microbial clock”—a process by which time of death can be precisely identified by examining the posthumous microbiome.

Needless to say, the body farm is a huge win for detectives and scientists alike. People can donate their bodies to a local body farm to further research (and save a good chunk of change on interment). There are seven currently operating in the United States, with more planned soon.


A vulture flying near a sky burial site in Tibet
Lyle Vincent, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

In Tibet and other areas nearby, Buddhists practice a death ritual meant to encourage good karma. They take bodies to charnel grounds where vultures come to eat the flesh, offering back to the world what was taken in life: meat. It's believed that the practice encourages the dead to move along to the next life without being held back by one’s greatest attachment—their physical body. Ritual aside, it’s a practical answer due to the scarcity of wood and usable burial grounds (the rocky earth makes it hard to dig).


For those who would prefer not to be consumed by vulture nor spore, there’s a more traditional option. Green burial looks pretty much like a normal burial, accept for a few important differences. No embalming fluids or toxic chemicals of any kind can be used. The grave is often dug by hand (either by the green burial ground staff or, if they choose, the loved ones themselves). There is no cement plot. Only biodegradable caskets, such as wicker ones, can be used, or the body is simply placed in an unbleached cloth shroud. This allows the corpse to decompose naturally, returning its sustenance to the Earth. Many green burial grounds also act as wildlife refuges, creating safe spaces for animals and native plant life—families can choose from a variety of live, wild grasses and flowers to adorn the grave.

Aside from being environmentally friendly, this is a cheaper option than traditional burial considering the price tags on caskets, embalming, etc. While prices around the country vary, according to Undertaking LA—a mortuary that promotes green burial—the average funeral in Los Angeles is over $8000 not including the burial plot, whereas they offer green burial for under $7000 including the plot itself.


Neil Armstrong's widow being presented with the U.S. flag during the astronaut's burial at sea
Neil Armstrong's widow being presented with the U.S. flag during the astronaut's burial at sea
NASA HQ PHOTO, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Following in the tradition of Vikings, naval officers, and pirates alike, those who loved the ocean in life can return in death with a sea burial. In addition to the countless water-soluble urns on the market, an entire body can be set to sea in designated areas off the U.S. coast. Though some burials involve dropping an entire modified casket to the ocean floor, environmentally inclined businesses like New England Burials at Sea offer more eco-friendly (and affordable) options such as natural burial shrouds hand-sewn by New England sail makers. A full day charter takes your funeral party out to sea, facilitating the open or closed casket service before dropping the body. Companies such as Eternal Reefs can also mix cremated remains with environmentally friendly concrete to create artificial reefs that support marine life. Not everyone would want to sleep with the fishes, but many sailors consider it the most sacred of exits.


A maple leaf on a background of compost

Body composting, or recomposition, could be the future of green burial—at least once it’s legal. Seattle-based architecture grad Katrina Spade got a lightbulb idea in 2012: Could she create a space and method for returning bodies to the earth naturally, sans concrete, steel, and carcinogens? The answer came in the form of human composting, the process of transforming bodies into soil, naturally.

Farmers have practiced livestock composting for decades. Wood chips and moisture and breeze combine to expedite the natural process of decay into nutrient-rich soil. Spade has begun a pilot project at Washington State University with bodies pledged by elderly and terminally ill fans of her cause.

If and when human composting is legalized, the Urban Death Project dreams of a brick-and-mortar recomposing facility. Families will ceremonially lower the shrouded corpse into the recomposing vessel and cover it with wood chips as they say goodbye. As soon as 30 days later, they can collect the remains, now transformed into (roughly) a cubic yard of soil, which they could then take home and use in their garden.


Someone wading through a soggy peat marsh, or bog, in Ireland may be in for a real surprise—a perfectly preserved, if oddly tanned, corpse from another century. Why? The peat in the marsh creates a highly acidic environment that preserves flesh. So, while the alkaline waters of aquamation will dissolve a body post-haste, the acids from the bogs give a pH akin to that of vinegar. This acts like a pickling agent, freezing the body in time—some bog bodies are dated back as far as 8000 BCE. Sphagnan, a polymer produced by decaying sphagnum moss, is largely to thank for this phenomenon because of the way it binds to nitrogen and slows the growth of bacteria. The tannins in the peat act as a brown dye giving the bodies their leathery color. OK, it probably isn’t the next big trend in green burial, but bog mummification has been naturally preserving bodies for centuries sans greenhouse gases and toxic chemicals alike.


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