James West

James West

Climate Desk Producer

James West is senior producer for the Climate Desk and a contributing producer for Mother Jones. He wrote Beijing Blur (Penguin 2008), a far-reaching account of modernizing China’s underground youth scene. James has a masters of journalism under his belt from NYU, and has produced a variety of award-winning shows in his native Australia, including the national affairs program Hack. He's been to Kyrgyzstan, and also invited himself to Thanksgiving dinner after wrongly receiving invites for years from the mysterious Tran family.

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This Beautiful Pacific Ocean Tribute to UCSB Victims Will Leave a Lasting Mark on Your Day

| Thu May 29, 2014 2:10 PM EDT

Yesterday, as the sun was setting, hundreds of University of California-Santa Barbara students hopped on surfboards and inflatable rafts and paddled out into the Pacific to pay tribute to the six victims killed in last Friday night's Isla Vista rampage.

If you've lived in or around surfing communities, you might be familiar with the traditional "paddle out" memorial: mourners hold hands in a wide ring, and throw flowers into the water to commemorate a departed member of the community. This one—drenched in Californian sun and accompanied by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole's haunting cover of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"—is sure to leave a lasting mark on your day, as it did mine.

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How to Open a Wine Bottle With Your Shoe

| Fri May 9, 2014 7:07 PM EDT

Once upon a time a father sat his son on his lap and said, "Son, one day you will have a bottle of wine, but you will not have a corkscrew to open it with. You will look around for some sort of apparatus with which to free the wine from the bottle."

"Daddy, should I use a knife to push the cork into the bottle?"

"Ha. No. That's a horrible idea. Use your shoe!"

And so began the legend of the wine-bottle-shoe-trick. But many were dubious. Was this just a story? An old wives' tale told by frat boys with an urge?

It turns out: No! You can really open a wine bottle with your shoe*.

How do we know? Smart, fearless Mother Jones reporter Tim McDonnell made it happen (watch the video above).

Here's how:

  1. You need a solid-soled shoe. No work-out soft-soled BS.
  2. Find a really sturdy wall. We're talking brick.
  3. Have courage and strength.
  4. The shoe must be perpendicular to the wall.
  5. Have faith, and take several determined, precise swings.
  6. The cork should slowly emerge over the course of several swings.
  7. Keep your face and other vulnerable bits away from the impact zone (SCIENCE).
  8. The force of the liquid inside the bottle will force the cork out.
  9. Drink!!!

*Mother Jones does not endorse that you try this at home in any way. Please drink in moderation. And don't drive.

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