What We Love This Week, Volume CXXIII

Mt St Helens Eruption

An ash plume billows from the crater atop Mount St. Helens hours after its eruption began on May 18th, 1980, in Washington state. The column of ash and gas reached 15 miles into the atmosphere, depositing ash across a dozen states. Source: The Atlantic

The Deadliest Volcanic Eruption In United States History, Just 35 Years Ago This Week

Mt St Helens Trees

A wrecked logging truck and crawler tractor are shown amidst ash and downed trees near Mount St. Helens two days after an explosive eruption. Source: The Atlantic

While you’ve surely heard of the eruption of Washington’s Mount St. Helen’s, which occurred 35 years ago this week, what you may not realize was that it was an earthquake that triggered the eruption and a landslide (the largest in recorded history) plus mudslides and floods as well as further eruptions over the following days. The resulting jumble of numbers is staggering: the volcanic blast shot 80,000 feet in the air, lopping 1,300 feet off the top of the mountain, spreading ash across 11 states and 5 Canadian provinces, sparking mudslides that ran for 50 miles, ultimately causing over $1 billion in damage. Experience the devastation at The Atlantic.

Mt St Helens Kiss

Fifteen-year-old Heidi Havens gives Allen Troup, 16, a kiss as he prepares to board a Spokane City bus, on May 27, 1980. Spokane residents had to wear face masks while outside for days after the eruption because of possible health threats from volcanic ash sprayed over the area by Mount St. Helens on May 18. Source: The Atlantic

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Martin Beck’s Superheroes Aren’t Who You’d Expect

Martin Beck Superheroes Photography

Source: Daily Mail

Close your eyes for a moment and picture a superhero. If you’re anything like me, you probably didn’t imagine a mechanic working on a car or a pregnant woman chowing down on a dozen doughnuts. Instead, you likely envisioned a strong, fit individual—most likely a white male—in a Marvel-inspired costume that lacked a single stain or wrinkle.

It was this exact, immaculately-composed superhero ideal that photographer Martin Beck wanted to dismantle when he came up with the idea for “We Can Be Heroes”. In the gallery below, each photo portrays someone ordinary–it could be your local grocer or an elderly couple slumped into the couch–in superhero garb that’s worn and dirty:

In addition to capturing the Hulk in a speedo, Martin Beck is a Scottish and South African photographer who has a hand in many different industries: fashion, music, art, and rock ‘n’ roll, to name a few. While he’s worked with companies like Bloomingdales and Harpers India, it’s the amusing and motivational photo series like “We Can Be Heroes” that has really catapulted him into Internet stardom.

Whether they’re ironing clothes or having tea on the couch, Beck’s superheros often find themselves in mundane routines that catch viewers off guard. These juxtapositions give the entire series a light, playful feel, while also underscoring the truth that all of us, in our own way, can and do save lives. According to Beck, “Everyone is a superhero.”

After Two Years of Edward Snowden Revelations, What Have We Learned About NSA Spying?

Snowden Revelations Snowden

Edward Snowden speaks to a student group by video conference in 2015. Source: Gage Skidmore

On May 20, 2013, Edward Snowden boarded a flight from Hawaii to Hong Kong. The laptop and thumb drives he carried with him contained hundreds of thousands of secret government documents. In a Hong Kong hotel room, he met with journalists and a filmmaker named Laura Poitras, and together they began working through the documents Snowden had taken from the National Security Agency (NSA). At the time, Snowden was 29 years old.

Snowden entrusted his trove of files to journalists, who have steadily released details of how the United States collects and uses data via its spy agencies. Since then, the public has learned a great deal about the vast, secretive operations of the U.S. government and the NSA. According to Snowden’s files, the NSA has sought to “aggressively pursue legal authorities and a policy framework mapped more fully to the information age” with the aim of accessing data shared over the internet by “anyone, anytime, anywhere.”

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