Week in Sad Developments

by Katrina Northrop, Sydney Anderson & Julia Petrini

Illustration by Isabelle Rea

published October 6, 2017


Remember last year when the words ‘email’ and ‘scandal’ were inseparable? When your friend mentioned emails over lunch, she most likely wasn’t referring to her overflowing Gmail inbox, and instead to the ever unfolding drama over Hillary Clinton’s private server.

This week, ‘email’ and ‘scandal’ are due for a reunion. At least five Trump aides, including Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Gary Cohn, have used private email accounts to conduct government business in the past few months. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? In the last iteration of the email scandal, Trump responded by yelling “Lock her up!” But this time Trump (or rather, one of his cronies), is at risk of being locked up. 

Over the summer, former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus called a meeting encouraging administration members to limit their use of personal cellular devices in the West Wing. Aware that he was dealing with middle schoolers, Priebus installed lockers throughout the West Wing to make the storage of personal devices more convenient and the use of personal accounts less widespread. The locker strategy proved ineffective, perhaps because the lockers filled up with other personal items. Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price likely used his locker to store receipts from his private plane rides, while Jared Kushner hid illegal communications with the Russian government. In the end, no one heeded the ex-Chief of Staff’s advice, not even Priebus himself.

Maybe Ivanka didn’t like the appearance of a .gov email address, preferring instead to use her private domain,, which has an undeniable ring to it. But after going through an election that seemed to hinge on Hillary’s decision to use a private server, and Comey’s subsequent judgement about that decision, it is equally audacious and hypocritical to repeat the same mistake.  

White House lawyers, Breitbart news, and a few other news commentators who don’t seem to understand the concept of hypocrisy have rushed to Trump’s defence in the past few days, asserting that the conflation of the current controversy with the investigation into Hillary’s emails is misleading. Those defending Trump claim that Trump’s advisors did not exclusively use private email accounts, as Hillary did when she worked at the State Department. They also claim it is not yet clear if Trump advisors were using private emails to discuss classified information. Nevertheless, the use of private email accounts fits into a broader trend of the Trump administration criticizing others for breaking laws that they break themselves.

Upon first hearing about this controversy, it is hard to know how to react. Should we laugh? Should we cry? Should we finally get around to fulfilling our 2005 New Year’s resolution and start meditating? Perhaps the most reasonable reaction is to acknowledge that American politics is like watching the YouTube video of a cat falling off a treadmill on repeat— it’s funny the first time, and it’s completely sickening every time after that. 

— KN


DIY Helicopters

This week, a small Floridian dog cowered in fear when a loud crash resounded off the roof. The Tampa pup was the only witness to 51-year-old Bradley Bates’ crash in his homemade helicopter. Bates built the small aircraft from a make-your-own-helicopter-kit. He crashed not long after taking off into the roof of a home about two miles from the takeoff site.

Tim Peterson, a next-door neighbor, recalls hearing the crash, “I heard a spluttering noise and a loud slam.” Peterson told the press it “didn’t sound right,” but taking a cursory glance out the window he didn’t see anything. Luckily, Peterson went to investigate and saw “a tail rotor hanging out of the house.”

Bates was brought to the hospital shortly after the crash and is in stable condition. According to his friends, Bates loves to fly and has flown the chopper several times. The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash, and the helicopter will remain on the roof as a crucial piece of evidence until the investigation has concluded.

But now you’re thinking, where does a one buy a helicopter kit? Target? Toys“R”Us? Ace Hardware? Amazon Prime? Are we missing out? Could all of us be flying these helicopters to the nearest coffee shop? Has the future the Jetsons envisioned been right under our noses this whole time? The answer is yes, if you have 700 hours to spare and can “shim a rotor assembly within 0.001 of an inch,” according to Air and Space Magazine. For a wee hundred grand, you too can build your own copter. The Indy predicts the DIY helicopter will soon debut on Pinterest alongside Mason jar flower vases and articles titled “14 Things You Can Do With Those Leftover Plastic Cups.” 

Instructional books and DVDs will guide you through your months of building. As the product’s advertisement so poorly put it, “if you can ride a bike, you can build a helicopter.” It may not be that simple, but luckily there is a large community of helicopter-hobbyists, and consultants you can hire to help complete your project. Helicopter enthusiast Homer Bell has made a career out of helicopter kit consulting after teaching himself to fly in his own homemade aircraft. The Indy feels soaring through the air in a handcrafted machine is both terrifying and empowering. However, we are pleased it is now easy to do with four months to spare and a hundred thousand dollars!
— SA



If white eyeballs just aren’t edgy enough for you, there is a dramatic, albeit dangerous, body modification for you. Scleral tattooing or staining is a procedure that involves injecting ink between two layers of the eye, covering the scleras’ white hue with an unconventional color. This week, Canadian model Catt Gallinger lost sight in her right eye after a botched sclera stain. In addition to partial blindness, Gallinger is experiencing pain, purple discharge, and internal and external swelling. According to Gallinger, this was caused by undiluted ink, over-injection, and injection sites that were both too few and too large. 

The first documented scleral tattoos on sighted human eyes were performed on three volunteers by artist Luna Cobra in 2007. The idea originated from one of the volunteers, Shannon Larratt, who was fascinated with the characters in the science-fiction novel Dune. Larratt photoshopped the whites of his eyes blue to look like the characters in the novel; he wanted to see if it was possible to bring his vision to life without obstructing his vision. Larratt worked with Cobra to develop procedures to permanently color his eyes blue. After a failed attempt of coating a needle with ink and puncturing the eye, they tried injecting the ink. The injections worked; Larratt and the other volunteers reported only minor side effects of pain, bruising, and discomfort. 

On his website, Cobra says he has refined the technique over the years and his clients “are all still okay,” but he warns against uneducated copycat practitioners. Cobra travels the world to perform scleral tattooing, “nullo,” or removal of tissues such as belly buttons or nipples, scarification, ear pointing, cartilage removal and other mods. Despite Cobra’s worldwide availability, some budget-body modders have turned to artists who lack the expertise necessary to not blind their clients. 
Gallinger has described her experience and current medical treatment in updates on Facebook. She has been placed on several medications and is scheduled for surgery to remove the ink. 

A study in the American Journal of Ophthalmology Case Reports found that the procedure can cause untreatable eye infections, loss of vision, and loss of the eye. The pigment must be injected precisely under the bulbar conjunctiva. The Indy doesn’t know much about ophthalmology, but “bulbar conjunctiva” sounds like something you should refrain from piercing multiple times under non-surgical conditions. There is no standardized certification program for the procedure and the eye is a delicate organ whose intricacies are not studied by tattoo artists. Philip Rizzuto, MD, a professor of Ophthalmology at the Alpert Medical School, warned, “Putting any kind of needle on the eye is very dangerous. We do that all the time, but we’re trained for 12 to 18 years how to go about treating the eye.” 

There are a few things the Indy advises you spend the extra buck on: a mattress, a good pair of boots, a cast-iron pan, and sclera tattoos.

— JP