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What Burning Man is really like, according to guy who’s been 21 times



Tonight, the party starts.

Burning Man 2019 is officially getting underway in the Nevada desert this weekend, and Ezra Croft is already there, waiting for the gates to open at midnight, kicking off nine days of art, costumes, potential dust storms, and other forms of what locals in the temporary metropolis called Black Rock City have named “radical self-expression.”

“It gets better every year,”Croft told Insider, as he was working the Burning Man box office Saturday morning, staring down a line of cars and RVs waiting for the party in the desert to begin. “There’s people anxious to get in, get unpacked, get set up, and really just get the art moving and just make Burning Man awesome.”

Burning Man 2011.
Ezra Croft

Croft says things have changed quite a bit since he first started coming to Burning Man, “on a whim” in the late 1990s, but he’s been back every single year since then, except in 2007 “when our kid was born.”

In recent years, there has been plenty of criticism lobbed at Burning Man, that perhaps the event is losing its edge and is becoming nothing more than a photo-frenzied haven for Instagram influencers, a playtown for Silicon Valley tech moguls, and their babies too. But Croft doesn’t see it that way.

Silicon Valley is changing Burning Man, but even “tech bros” can “get loose,” Croft said

“I’ve seen million dollar vehicles out here,” he said, acknowledging there is noticeably more money in the crowd now than their used to be, a strange truth at a place where nothing is for sale ( except the life essentials coffee and ice), and instead the concepts of gifting, radical inclusion, and participation reign.

Read more: 13 unbelievable facts that show just how much people are willing to spend on Burning Man, from $425 tickets to $14,000 private planes

Still, he says, the event can’t be beat.

“It’s only getting more fun and more creative and just tapping more diversity,” he said, acknowledging that the diversity in the crowd now extends to a fair number of “San Francisco tech bros,” too.

“A lot of these guys are 28-year-old whiz kids fresh out of computer science master’s degree programs working in Silicon Valley, and they haven’t really gotten like a gritty slice of life yet,” Croft said. “They have a lot of fun. They dance, they wear their costumes, and they get loose with it, you know?”

A satellite image of the Burning Man festival in Nevada seen on August 28, 2012.
DigitalGlobe via Getty Images

Burning Man didn’t start out here in the desert, though. What began as a much smaller beach party in San Francisco in 1986, has since moved to this desert “playa” (circa 1990) and blossomed into a temporary metropolis, an international community that is near 80,000 strong.

“It changed my perspective on different ways you can interact with people and have fun,” Croft said.

One thing that’s stayed the same: every year there’s a “Man” to burn down, a wooden sculpture that is set ablaze.

Croft remembers fondly the first time he watched “The Man” burn to the ground.

Croft watching “The Man” burn.
Ezra Croft

“I don’t ever think I’d seen a fire that big,” he said. “There were like little fire tornadoes coming out of it, and you know, seeing something like that for the first time was pretty exciting.”

He says it’s not super common for kids to come to Burning Man, but some do: his 12-year-old daughter has been four times already.

“We always try to encourage her to like, make art and be weird and goofy and don’t let inhibitions hinder the creative process,” Croft said.

Though he says he does try to shield his youngster from some of the “adult-oriented” camps (and drugs), Croft maintains there’s a lot of “kid-friendly” aspects of the event.

“It’s just like art that appeals to every person,” he said. “I remember the first time she saw her very first naked person, an older guy walked by with no clothes on, and she just kind of went ‘blegh!'”

Ed Joseph of San Francisco performs on the Black Rock Desert during Burning Man in 2005.
Jim Rankin/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Read more: 12 of the most extraordinary, never-before-seen photos from the past 10 years of Burning Man

“People think it’s just a wild, hedonistic party, and you know, there might be elements of that, but there’s people from all walks of life, there’s lawyers and doctors and people that are homeless half of the year,” Croft said.

Burning Man 2015.
Ezra Croft

“But I think to pigeonhole any one thing about Burning Man, you’re always going to get it wrong, because it’s different for everybody.”

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TSA banned TikTok, but it still has videos on Instagram





TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein’s TikTok videos were reposted to the official TSA Instagram account.

TikTok/Mary Meisenzahl

  • The TSA says it has stopped allowing employees to use Chinese-owned video app TikTok.
  • TSA also told the Associated Press that it didn’t publish content directly to TikTok or publish content directly to the platform. 
  • However, videos from TikTok are still available on TSA’s Instagram account, and on official accounts for agency spokespeople.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Transportation Security Administration has become the latest government agency to ban TikTok after national security concerns, but the agency’s statement on how it used the Chinese-owned app appears to contradict its own actions.

On February 23, the Associated Press reported that the TSA would no longer allow employees to post on TikTok after a letter from Sen. Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, warned about a potential cybersecurity risk. In a statement, the TSA said that a  “small number of TSA employees have previously used TikTok on their personal devices to create videos for use in TSA’s social media outreach, but that practice has since been discontinued.” It also told the AP that it never directed followers to TikTok or published directly on the platform.

But the TSA’s own Instagram account seems to dispute the agency’s statement. As of writing this, at least 12 different videos, shown from the TikTok accounts “@TSA_gov” and “@TSA” are viewable on the TSA’s official Instagram account. The TikTok videos are saved under a highlighted story titled “Videos” on the account.

TSA Instagram


The TikTok videos reposted to the TSA Instagram account also prominently feature TSA public affairs spokesperson Lisa Farbstein. Farbstein, a TSA official, has also shared TikTok videos from the account @TSA on her Twitter as recently as February 11. The official TSA Twitter account frequently retweeted her posts. The TSA referenced its social media strategy in response to Schumer’s letter and is also currently competing for a Shorty social media award.

Neither the @TSA nor @TSA_gov TikTok accounts still exists, though the reposted videos are still viewable on Twitter and Instagram. TikTok did not respond to requests for comment.

It appears the TSA did not link to the app, although the distinction might not mean much. To share videos on Twitter and Instagram, users commonly download the videos from TikTok and reupload them. But the prominent TikTok logo on the videos, plus the names of the accounts that created them, may direct interested viewers to TikTok. 

One thing is clear: Videos initially posted to TikTok under TSA branding prominently feature agency representatives and have been shared by agency officials and official agency accounts — even though it said it never published on the platform nor directed followers to it.

TikTok has been downloaded more than 1.5 billion times. The video platform, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has faced concerns of censorship. In September, The Guardian saw internal documents that instructed moderators to censor content that could anger the Chinese government, including mentions of Tiananmen Square or Tibetan Independence. In a statement, TikTok said that these policies were no longer in use as of last May. Senators Marco Rubio, Chuck Schumer and Tom Cotton have been critical of TikTok and asked for investigations into potential cybersecurity risks. The US military had previously banned the app after a warning from the Pentagon.

The TSA did not respond to a request for comment.

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Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury fight: Wilder blames 40lb ring-walk costume



  • Deontay Wilder says that Tyson Fury didn’t hurt him “at all” during Saturday’s WBC heavyweight title defeat, and that it was his extravagant ring-walk costume that instead cost him his belt.
  • Wilder walked into the MGM Arena wearing a full leather suit of armor clad with rhinestones that weighed around 40 pounds.
  • “Fury didn’t hurt me at all, but the simple fact is that my uniform was way too heavy for me,” he told Yahoo. “I knew I didn’t have the legs because of my uniform.
  • Wilder’s trainer, Jay Deas, also suggested to Boxing Social the costume played a part in the defeat, as it was “very heavy.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Deontay Wilder says that Tyson Fury didn’t hurt him “at all” during Saturday’s WBC heavyweight title loss, and instead it was his 40 pound ring-walk costume that cost him his belt.

Wilder was beaten comprehensively by Fury in Las Vegas, with the “Gypsy King” knocking him to the ground in the third and fifth rounds, before the American’s trainer decided enough was enough and threw in the towel in the seventh. 

“Fury didn’t hurt me at all, but the simple fact is that my uniform was way too heavy for me,” Wilder told Yahoo Sports.

The 34-year-old entered the MGM Arena wearing a full leather suit of armour, including a crown and face mask, which were bejeweled with rhinestones and LED lights. The costume, designed by Los Angeles-based designers Cosmo + Donato, weighed around 40 pounds, and cost $40,000, according to TMZ.

Wilder added to Yahoo: “I didn’t have no legs from the beginning of the fight. In the third round, my legs were just shot all the way through. But I’m a warrior and people know that I’m a warrior. It could easily be told that I didn’t have legs or anything.”

“I was only able to put it on [for the first time] the night before, but I didn’t think it was going to be that heavy. It weighed 40, 40-some pounds with the helmet and all the batteries.”

See below for pictures of Wilder’s extravagant, apparently defeat-causing, entrance outfit:

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Photos show Spain blanketed in orange dust from Saharan sand storm



  • Sand and dust blanketed the Canary Islands over the weekend, causing chaos for tourists, and worsening wildfires in the area.
  • On Spanish national television, the Canary Islands’ regional president Angel Victor Torres said it was a “nightmare weekend.”
  • It’s not the first time it’s happened. The phenomena, called a “calima” is where a Saharan sand storm is blown across the Atlantic Ocean by strong winds. This one had winds up to 75 mph.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The sky turned orange in the Canary Islands.

Over the weekend, 75 mph winds blew a sandstorm from the Saharan desert across the Atlantic Ocean onto the Canary Islands.

The phenomena is called a “calima,” and it’s not the first time it’s happened. But on Spanish national television, regional president Angel Victor Torres said it was the worst sand storm he had seen in 40 years. He called it a “nightmare weekend.”

Along with disrupting hundreds of flights, the high winds also made wildfires in the region worse. On Gran Canaria, one of the islands, local reports said the air quality was the worst in the world.

One local, named Manuel Campos, told The New York Times, “I’m old enough to know all about the calima, but I don’t recall it that strong. Everything just turned red.”

Here’s what the sandstorm looked like from on the ground and in space.

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