Tech by VICE

Letters to the Editor: Drunk Driving and Hairy Butts

‘The Postman’ starring Kevin Costner is a good movie.

by Emanuel Maiberg
Aug 21 2016, 3:00pm

Image: Google.

When Motherboard started this Letters to the Editor section the goal was to give us and readers a more in-depth, meaningful way to keep talking about stories after they're published. We never anticipated that we'd end up offering relationship advice, but I suppose that's something that will happen when you write about body hair, and specifically hairy butts.

Our Editor in Chief Derek Mead has kindly addressed questions about that issue below, but this week's mailbag also has some enlightening information from readers about the dangers of synchronized swimming, the joys of lockpicking, and more.


RE: What Learning to Lockpick Taught Me About Digital Security

Dear Kate,

Wanted to say hello from Dallas.

Saw the video and read your story tonight about your lock picking experience. You did a great job telling the story about a hobby many of us enjoy.

I spent the last two months waiting on an unexpected possible cancer diagnosis. Waiting on the doctor and lost results from my labs made for long days and sleepless nights.

Working on my lock picking skills helped in many unexpected ways.

The joy you experienced from a successful "Open!" were the same small blessings I needed to keep me going during the eternal wait for answers.

Glad to see that you enjoyed yourself and learned a great deal about the hobby. Hope you will get your own tools and keep learning.

Great job with your story. Your writing and personal experience for your video was very delightful. A job well done!



PS The PET/CT finally revealed there was no cancer! Open!


RE: These Insane Photos Show How An Abandoned Air Force Base Is Polluting Greenland

It might be worth correcting the article. The Bluie East Two base was an United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) base, not an US Air Force (USAF) base. I doubt the US Air Force will pick up the cleaning tab for the Army.

During our paddling trip along the Ammassalik Fjord we camped at the base one night in August 2014 and we were surprised to learn later in Kulusuk that some locals actually want it to stay the way it is because it is a point of attraction for visiting tourists. There are many boats with tourists that stop at the base for photos on their way from Tasiilaq and Kulusuk to and from the Knud Rasmussen and Karale Glaciers.

We shot a video sequence during our camping there in the much, much longer video diary "Bluie East Two - 2014"

As a matter of fact, we are delighted to be heading back to a remote location in East Greenland this month.

Thank you,



RE: [Editor's note: the following email wasn't in response to a specific Motherboard article, but we thought it was worth sharing!]


Not sure if this is the sort of story you'd publish on Motherboard/vice, but I've got a pretty funny and instructive one:

- 28 Oct 2010: I'm bored at work and I decide to add in the French wikipedia article that the UN peacekeeper troops are also called "blue boys action squad". Article after my modification.

- 15 Jun 2016: my addition is finally removed.

In the meantime, my addition has been copy/pasted countless times in French articles (google up "casques bleus blue boys action squad"), even in newspapers (I highly suspect it's due to my modification), and even in an English book (not 100% sure it's due to me, but likely).

I thought I'd share this with you, it isn't much material but it's fun and instructive.




RE: Uber Has Yet to Reduce Drunk Driving Deaths, Study Says

How can you write an article like this? First you don't know how many potential drunk drivers are currently getting rides. Of course persistent drunks will probably not utilize the service especially if they have been successful in the past driving home themselves but writing an irresponsible article of this sort is not true news.



Hi Brett,

Thanks for reading and responding to my article. I appreciate your sentiment, and tried to be clear that this study does not discuss or define the behavior of drunk drivers. The message was not that Uber isn't helping people who get drunk, it's that it has yet to make an impact on drunk driving deaths in America -- which is important to know for public health interventions. And I spoke with other researchers, as well as Uber, and they confirmed the numbers.

Could we use your letter in our Letter to Editors section on our site?


Ankita Rao, Motherboard Associate Editor


RE: Evolution Explains Why We Still Have Butt Hair


I just read ur article about hairy butts.

I have been texting & talking to this guy for two months, who resides two hours away.

He kept promising to come see me, but was always "a no show". He always had an excuse why he couldn't make it.

He finally came to see me yesterday.

Of course, needless to say, we were VERY excited to finally meet in person!

When we got to my bedroom, he was reluctant to remove his shirt. I thought because he is covered in tats, so I told him to remove his shirt.

Well, I soon found out why. He has VERY long body hair! It's long & straight! It's so long that it drapes!

I tried to ignore it, but when he fell asleep; I started caressing his body & was alarmed on how long it is! He even has it on his hands!

Of course, I didn't say anything bcuz I truly have feelings for him.

Please tell me, what in the world causes such long body hair?

If he shaves it off, will it grow back even longer?

How do I even bring it up to him without hurting his feelings?

Thank you so much,



Hey Patty! Glad you found someone you like. Body hair is a complicated topic no matter how you slice it, and it's tough to gauge how someone might react to your questioning of their follicular maintenance. I'd say this: That hair is there for a reason, even if it's not really necessary in beshirted world, so asking him to shave it off is perhaps a bit much (plus stubble sucks). I'm guessing that if he hasn't done anything about it yet, perhaps he likes it?

In any case, discussions of grooming should always be fair game in a healthy relationship, but think how you'd feel if he'd just met you, dear internet stranger, and asked you to radically change your own hairstyle? I don't know that there's a good way to bring it up with him without any risk of hurting his feelings, but if it's going to be a dealbreaker for you, I suppose it's better to bring it up sooner rather than later.

Derek Mead, Motherboard Editor in Chief


What Are the Most Dangerous Sports at the Summer Olympics?

Ian Birnbaum,

You recently wrote an article for the Vice Discover Channel on Snapchat talking about the most dangerous sports in the Summer Olympics. I was looking forward to seeing someone finally recognize my sport of Synchronized Swimming as risky and dangerous, but instead you regarded it as one of the five safest sports. Seeing this said about my sport was discouraging and disappointing. I also strongly disagree with the way that you displayed Synchronized Swimming as a safe sport. This is evident in the many concussions I have seen, as well as other injuries, and a section in the new documentary called Perfect or Parfaites.

As I moved higher and higher in the sport of Synchronized Swimming I began to see more and more concussions. Just in the past season I have witnessed three girls receiving concussions. The first was another team in my age group. They had one girl jumping into the air and flipping over in a dive, but she landed on the head of the girl she jumped off of, causing a concussion that kept her out of competition for approximately two months. The second was one of my own team mates, who was kicked in the head during our intense warm up just days before we departed for our National Qualifiers. After more training, another one of my teammates was working in dry land training when she was hit in the head with a fairly large medicine ball, causing a minor concussion. Add this to three girls in the age group above myself being unable to perform at our National Qualifiers and we've got six concussions right here.

Due to concussions happening in my Synchronized Swimming club, the Calgary Aquabelles, we have been educating our swimmers, coaches, and parents further on concussion protocol. We spent an hour with a concussion specialist and learned about how concussions happen, myths about concussions, and what to do when you suspect you or one of your teammates has a concussion. We also went to do a baseline concussion testing to prepare us for any future concussions. Doing all of this has helped many girls recover quicker, but that doesn't change how dangerous the sport really is.

There have been many other injuries in Synchronized Swimming while I have been a part of the sport and even before. One of my previous coaches had her toe sticking out of the side of her foot after the first action in a duet with her sister, which pretty clearly showed it was broken. Her sister also pulled a muscle in her calf, I believe it was, causing it to bulge out quite a bit. Synchronized Swimmers are very strong though, and the sister duet still competed at the competition they were at. The most inspiring story of injury in Synchronized Swimming that I have for you is one of my closest friends. She has a problem with her knee that causes it to lock while doing certain actions. There is a part of the routine she was swimming just this season that caused her knee to lock at least twice. Once was even three hours before she was to compete, but she pushed through and swam with her team. They placed first, but that's not the only high placing this girl has achieved. She is currently number two in Canada in our age group, first in Alberta, and she is the top soloist in the country!

My final piece of evidence is the CBC Firsthand documentary Parfaites. In one scene in the movie the girls talk about injuries they have endured in Synchronized Swimming. Claudia Holzner, former Calgary Aquabelle, talks about the three concussions she has had in her years as a Synchronized Swimmer. Along with her concussions, Claudia has suffered a black eye, a shoulder dislocation, a hip injury, and a knee dislocation. She says that she thinks the sport is almost as contact as Football. Rebecca Maule has endured a broken finger, a broken nose, and a serious concussion. Two-time Olympian Karine Thomas has had both vertebrae in her lower back smashed together and two broken feet. The youngest member of the Senior National team, Jacqueline Simoneau calls herself lucky with five sprained ankles, tendinitis in both feet, and a pulled hamstring and a pulled sartorius, both in her right leg.

In conclusion, a sport where you throw girls in the air and do powerful movements in such small spaces is quite dangerous. I hope I have brought some important points to your attention and that you are more thorough in your research in the future.


Gracyn S.



My favorite reader emails are the ones that teach me something new. Yours sent me down a rabbit hole. There's no way, I thought, that synchronized swimmers are cracking vertebrae and getting concussions. Like most people, I have an outdated view of the sport: women in makeup, treading water, smiling constantly. A medical article from 1986 says that "few acute injuries" occur in synchronized swimming, and the Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine notes that the sport was thought to be "relatively free of injury" when it became an Olympic sport.

They're outdated, I was wrong, and you are right.

The more I read about this, the more shocked I got. Modern synchronized swimmers are more like competitive cheerleaders or acrobats, throwing each other out of the pool and whipping bodies around. Everything is wet, everyone has water in their eyes, and no one can see shit. On a good day, swimmers are two inches away from getting kicked in the head by an Olympic athlete. I found one book saying that 50 percent of synchronized swimming athletes at the Olympic training ground got concussions over a two-week period.

One of the sources I used for that piece was this report in Scientific American. It shows that only 2 percent of synchronized swimmers at the 2008 games were injured, and none of the injuries was bad enough to stop competition. Either the sport has changed a lot since 2008, or something else is going on. My theory: the sport gets more acrobatic every year, and it's really easy to take a kick to the head underwater and just not say anything. I watched Russia's 2015 World Championships performance, and there's no way I could tell if someone got kicked in the face if they didn't report it.

Thanks for writing in, Gracyn. I have a new respect for a sport that is easy to tease.

Ian Birnbaum, Motherboard Contributor.