Jarring behavior
May 8, 2014

Is there any way to contain the imminent octo-pocalypse? Some desperate souls have proposed trapping the octopus shock troops in screw-top jars, since the creatures don't have opposable thumbs. This was always more psychological defense mechanism than realistic strategy, but it turns out it doesn't even work:

We had a good run, folks, but maybe it's best to sit back and wait for the sweet embrace of death. There is probably an octopus sitting in your jar of peanut butter at home right now. Waiting. Ryan Cooper

This just in
12:17 p.m. ET

American commander in Afghanistan Gen. John F. Campbell admitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that the airstrike targeting a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan was the result of "a U.S. decision made within the U.S. chain of command."

"A hospital was mistakenly struck," Campbell said. "We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility." The attack came as Afghan forces were attempting to retake the northern city of Kunduz from the Taliban.

Doctors Without Borders has said the strike, which killed 19 people, "may amount to a war crime," The New York Times reports. Becca Stanek

write good
10:45 a.m. ET
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Presidential elections become more digitally oriented every year, with debates and conversations about the 2016 campaign occurring on almost every social media platform. As such, it's inevitable that some supporters will happen to be better spoken than others. To find out which candidate has the most grammatically correct supporters, the app Grammarly conducted a study on Democratic and Republican candidates' Facebook pages — and it turns out that Republican commenters get the red squiggly underline more than twice as often as Democrats do.

Grammarly sampled comments of 15 or more words on candidates' official Facebook pages between April and August 2015. The team then looked specifically at positive or neutral comments and ran grammar tests using both Grammarly and live proofreaders. For the purpose of the study, Grammarly only counted misspellings, wrong or missing punctuation, misused or missing words, and subject-verb disagreement, letting slang words, serial commas, and miswritten numerals slide.

With that, the results were in: Democrats made 4.2 mistakes per 100 words, while Republicans, at 8.7, made over double that. What's more, Lincoln Chafee, an underdog in the Democratic primary, had the most grammatically knowledgeable fans — they only made 3.1 mistakes for every 100 words. Hillary Clinton had the least grammatically correct supporters of all of the Democratic candidates, with commenters clocking 6.3 mistakes per 100 words — the same number as the best-spoken Republican supporters, who rallied in a grammatically correct fashion behind Carly Fiorina.

But not everyone can be winners: Way down at the bottom of the list was Donald Trump, whose supporters made a whopping 12.6 errors for every 100 words they wrote. Jeva Lange

10:19 a.m. ET
Scott Olson/Getty Images

In 2013, presidential candidate and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) voted against federal aid to New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. But now that similarly devastating flooding has hit South Carolina, Graham is leading the call for federal help in his home state.

Pressed on the apparent contradiction during a CNN interview on Monday, Graham said that he does not recall opposing the Sandy aid, a position many Republicans took because the package also funded projects superfluous to helping Sandy victims.

"I'm all for helping the people in New Jersey. I don't really remember me voting that way," Graham said. "I don't really recall that, but I'd be glad to look and tell you why I did vote no, if I did." Bonnie Kristian

Indecision 2016
10:07 a.m. ET
Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Republican primary field is gradually winnowing down from a confusing high of 17 candidates — a total that has left many voters (and probably many candidates, too) understandably overwhelmed.

But fear not: Even as GOP contenders drop out and the Democratic contest stays small, there are still some 1,200 other people running for president in America. They're fringe candidates with a wide array of agendas for America, and you probably can't vote for most of them, as they generally are registered in just one state (if they're on a ballot at all).

So here's a taste of the options you're likely missing: Missouri's Dale Hoinoski wants to run our cars on marijuana oil. Doris Walker of Illinois prioritizes swimming pool access. And Caesar Saint Augustine de Buonaparte Emperor of the United States of Turtle Island in North Carolina—well, he's named Caesar Saint Augustine de Buonaparte Emperor of the United States of Turtle Island. Bonnie Kristian

joke's on you
10:03 a.m. ET

Donald Trump has been known to poke fun at his fellow Republican candidates, often by resorting to low blows about their appearance or energy levels. For his latest trick, Trump actually went the good old fashioned pranking route, sending a "care package" to opponent Marco Rubio.

The special delivery, which arrived at Sen. Rubio's Washington campaign office on Monday, included a case of "Trump Ice Natural Spring Water" (emblazoned, of course, with Trump's face), two "Make America Great Again" towels, a Trump 2016 bumper sticker, and a note that taunted, "Since you're always sweating, we thought you could use some water. Enjoy!"

The package riffed on an incident in 2013 when Rubio gained attention for repeatedly gulping down water on air while delivering the Republican response to the State of the Union address. While Rubio later made a good-natured joke about the water bottle at CNN's Republican Debate, Trump mocked the senator last week, commenting, "I've never seen a young guy sweat that much. He's drinking water, water, water. I never saw anything like this with him with the water."

A Trump aide clarified to CNN that the towels were "for him sweating." Jeva Lange

Planting seeds
9:42 a.m. ET
Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

When The New York Times published the Aug. 1 column, "Joe Biden in 2016: What Would Beau Do?" talk of a Biden presidential run hit a fever pitch. The column, written by Maureen Dowd, revealed a tender moment between Biden and his dying son Beau in which, Dowd writes, Beau "tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values." Now, multiple sources tell Politico that the source of the story that effectively "marked a turning point in the presidential speculation" surrounding Biden was none other than the veep himself.

The revelation that Biden spoke directly to Dowd and told her the story — if true — casts the subsequent series of events in a different light. As Politico puts it, "It was no coincidence that the preliminary pieces around a prospective campaign started moving right after that column" because "Biden had effectively placed an ad in The New York Times."

Biden's grappling with his 2016 decision is tinged by grief no doubt; but what this revelation shows is that while Biden has been mourning, he's also been strategizing. “Calculation sort of sounds crass, but I guess that's what it is," a source who had recently spoken to Biden told Politico. "The head is further down the road than the heart is."

Read the full story over at Politico. Becca Stanek

take a look, it's in a book
9:31 a.m. ET
Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images

Meet the new Twilight — the same, more or less, as the old Twilight.

To mark the 10th anniversary of her smash-hit YA novel, author Stephenie Meyer has released a new novel, on shelves today. Love and Death: Twilight Reimagined is a total rewrite of the first Twilight novel — with the genders of the two lead characters swapped. Bella Swan, the sullen teen girl at the heart of the original series, has become Beaufort Swan, a sullen teen boy; Edward Cullen, the immortal vampire who stole Bella's heart, is now Edythe Cullen. Writing Love and Death was "really fast and easy," says Meyer. I wonder why!

Love and Death is part of an ongoing trend in which authors find some way to regurgitate their old successes, which spares them the trouble of coming up with something new. Earlier this year, E.L. James scored a hit with Grey, a rewrite of 50 Shades of Grey from Christian Grey's perspective. J.K. Rowling continues to flesh out the minutiae of the Harry Potter universe on her website Pottermore. Even Stephenie Meyer has pulled this trick before, working on Midnight Sun — a rewrite of the first Twilight from Edward Cullen's perspective — before shelving it after the manuscript leaked online.

With any luck, publishers will come to recognize that they're just one Find+Replace search away from a literary goldmine. Why not To Mock a Killingbird, in which Scott Finch learns valuable life lessons from his mother, Attica? Or The Stupendous Gatsby, in which Nicole Carraway chronicles the doomed affair between her neighbor, Jess Gatsby, and her long-lost love Duke Buchanan? Yes, the future of sub-literary fan-fiction has never been brighter. Scott Meslow

See More Speed Reads