9 questions about the Illuminati you were too afraid to ask

Ruth Bader Ginsburg officiated a same-sex wedding, and everyone’s looking for clues

Via Vox: ‘The month before a huge Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage is expected, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg presided over a same-sex wedding, and her words and gestures are being scrutinized for hints of how the case might come out.The New York Times’s Maureen Dowd was a guest at the wedding of Shakespeare Theatre Company artistic director Michael Kahn and New York architect Charles Mitchem. After the ceremony, Dowd wrote in her column that Ginsburg had pronounced the two men married by the powers vested in her by the Constitution of the United States, and that she’d emphasized the word “Constitution” and given “a sly look.”‘

Annals of the Age of Idiocy (cont’d)

Via Vox: ‘Forty-six states now have laws that explicitly ban texting while driving. But smartphones can distract drivers in many other ways, too, a new survey commissioned by AT&T shows.While it found that texting was the most common distraction, lots of drivers said they emailed, browsed the internet, checked Facebook, took selfies or other photos, or even video chatted while driving’

Starting to think differently about animal rights

Please let David Letterman go

How Alabama taught its children to be racists

The Neuromancer Movie Lives Again

Giant ice shelf in Antarctica will be gone within the decade

NASA says a giant ice shelf in Antarctica will be gone within the decade | The Verge

Via The Verge: ‘Antarctica‘s once-massive Larsen B Ice Shelf is melting rapidly, and will likely be entirely gone by the end of this decade, according to a new report from NASA. A team led by Ala Khazendar of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) found the shelf is developing large cracks while its tributary glaciers rapidly disintegrate.”Although it’s fascinating scientifically to have a front-row seat to watch the ice shelf becoming unstable and breaking up, it’s bad news for our planet,” Khazendar said in a statement. “This ice shelf has existed for at least 10,000 years, and soon it will be gone.” ‘

Four Quasars in One Nebula: An Incredible Astronomical First

How Big Pharma Can Save Antibiotics From Superbugs

Can We Just Save This Adorable Parrot for Christ’s Sake?

via WIRED: ‘Almost half of New Zealand’s native bird species are now extinct, while a particularly bizarre bird is teetering on the edge: the kakapo. It is the world’s only flightless parrot. It can live 100 years. Its sex life is best described as … involved. And there are just 126 left in the wild…’


Millions of missing galaxies were swallowed up by other galaxies

What you need to know about Congressional surveillance “reforms”

Maybe Our Ancestors Knew The Real Secret Of A Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep No More (anthology)

via io9: ‘I have a friend who says three in the morning is the time we all spend laying awake, staring at darkness, and thinking about all the mistakes we’ve made in our lives. Everyone reading this knows that she’s right. But it doesn’t need to be this way. We could use this time productively, the way our ancestors did.

The concept of first sleep and second sleep is a very old one. As the light waned in the evenings, people would go to bed and sleep for about four hours. In the middle of the night, they’d wake up and stay awake for a few hours. People would usually use this time for quiet recreation. They’d talk a bit, eat a little, perhaps read or pray, and most people agreed that this was the best time for married couples to roll around on the mattress.

After a few hours, they’d get sleepy once again and settle back down to sleep. The second sleep would see them through until dawn, when they’d get up and take on their day. It’s easy to see why the concept of two sleeps was popular. Instead of being dead tired at the end of the day, you could fall into bed and sleep for a few hours before waking up and having fun. It would allow a more complete break between one day and the next, a little bubble of “me time” between working days. And it might eliminate those three o’clock thoughts.’

A Plane Took a Wrong Turn and Ended Up in a Cloud of Antimatter

This synesthetic website turns words into drum beats

Daft Punk in DJ Hero

via The Verge: ‘I mean, the headline says it all really. This is a website you go to and type something in and then that something gets turned into a drum beat. You can literally stick any words you like into it — famous words, rude words, long words, made-up words, you get the idea. The whole project is the creation of developer Kyle Stetz and follows in a long line of musical-keyboard-procrastination tools. (See also Daft Punk keyboard and Patatap.) You’d be mad not to at least type your name in.’


How to Get Birth Control Without Your Insurance Illegally Charging You

We’re boring our kids in school: an easy reform will help

Beware Simple Stories

English: Chris Anderson is the curator of the ...

via MacDrifter: ‘I’ll tell you a secret that is likely to make me a pariah among the nerds. I don’t like Malcolm Gladwell or Seth Godin or really most of the TED genre of pop culture factoids. I’m sure they are all fine upstanding citizens of the world but their brand of storytelling does not appeal to me. I avoid most science journalism as I avoid life-hack mythology. This is my problem with pop science and the cult of science tourism. It is too final. Too conclusive. Too bite-sized. These morsels of facts are portrayed as in-depth studies. They are wrapped with a crudely drawn distribution curve on the cover and published to a tourism market anxious to become the indisputable happy hour experts on the psychology and physics of self-driving cars. They lead to unearned certainty in our wold views and act as bludgeons against later course corrections. I’m skeptical of big problems with small answers.’

Hersh: Everything We Were Told About Osama bin Laden’s Killing Was a Lie

The newest Seymour Hersh blockbuster in the London Review of Books has one big claim: virtually the entire story of Osama bin Laden’s death was an elaborate fiction.

Bin Laden wasn’t hiding out in Abbattobad, as we’ve been told—he was effectively under house arrest, placed there under guard by Pakistan’s security services with financial help from the Saudis. We didn’t track down his address through diligent intelligence work—a Pakistani informant ratted him out to the CIA in exchange for the $25 million reward. And we didn’t kill him in a firefight—he was abandoned by his Pakistani guards and gunned down in cold blood by U.S. troops. The whole operation was supposed to remain secret, with bin Laden’s death publicly chalked up to a drone strike, but an unexpected helicopter crash at the site of the raid forced the U.S. to concoct a complex symphony of lies. According to Hersh. The article, if you believe its almost entirely anonymous sourcing (not that there’s anything wrong with anonymous sources!), casts the Obama White House’s account of the operation as a frantic and harried cover-up designed to valorize a “homicide,” as one anonymous commando put it. Though the Hersh account is by no means new—Hersh fails to credit her, but national security writer R.J. Hillhouse wrote a blog post in 2011 that included substantially the same claims, and generated some mainstream press accounts—his stature in the spook world and track record with previous stories means his account is getting traction. Here are the U.S. lies about the raid, as catalogued by Hersh… (more, via Gawker)

This Shade Of Purple Can Ruin Your Life

Moose Are Dying in Horrible Ways Due to Climate Change

English: Moose, Superior National Forest, Minn...

via Motherboard: ‘In Northeast Minnesota, moose numbered about 8,000 a decade ago. Today, that number is roughly 3,500. As new evidence unspools, one clear thread has emerged: in years of warmer, shorter winters, the moose are plagued by health problems. It’s a trend that can be seen across the United States.’

Loretta Lynch is a win for the police state, says Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald via Boing Boing: “She is essentially a fairly conservative, pro-security state, pro-penal state federal prosecutor who has spent her career supporting and upholding this evil system of mass incarceration. To cheer her simply because of the historic nature of her appointment — which, of course, is significant, her being the first African-American woman to serve in that position — without regard to the things that she’s actually going to do in pursuit of these policies, I think is mind-numbingly irrational.

I do think Eric Holder was pretty horrible in lots of important areas; but in other areas, he was actually quite good — like civil rights enforcement and advocating for more equity and fairness in the criminal justice system. I don’t expect Loretta Lynch to be [that way]…”

What Animals Are Likely to Go Extinct First Due to Climate Change

Diet fads are destroying us

You’re underestimating your plants

R.I.P. Ruth Rendell

Astronomers discover largest known structure in the universe is … a big hole

Astronomers discover largest known structure in the universe is ... a big hole | Science | The Guardian

via The Guardian: ‘Astronomers have discovered what they say is the largest known structure in the universe: an incredibly big hole (circled, at lower right in map above).

The “supervoid”, as it is known, is a spherical blob 1.8 billion light years across that is distinguished by its unusual emptiness.

István Szapudi, who led the work at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, described the object as possibly “the largest individual structure ever identified by humanity”.

Its existence only emerged thanks to a targeted astronomical survey, which confirmed that around 10,000 galaxies were “missing” from the part of the sky it sits in.

Szapudi’s team was intentionally searching for the void because they believed that it could explain previous observations showing that part of the sky is unusually cool.’


Editing Human Embryos: So This Is Happening

Carl Zimmer via The Loom: ‘Earlier this week, Chinese researchers reported that they edited the genes of human embryos using a new technique called CRISPR. While these embryos will not be growing up into genetically modified people, I suspect this week will go down as a pivotal moment in the history of medicine. David Cyranoski and Sara Reardon broke the news today at Nature News. Here I’ve put together a quick guide to the history behind this research, what the Chinese scientists did, and what it may signify.’


UNESCO Intangible Heritage

via UNESCO: ‘The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity is made up of those intangible heritage elements that help demonstrate the diversity of this heritage and raise awareness about its importance. In 2008 the Committee incorporated 90 elements (formerly proclaimed Masterpieces) into the Representative List and from 2009 to 2014, it inscribed 224 new elements for an overall number of 314 elements on the Representative List.’


The M7.8 Earthquake In Nepal Is Going To Be Really, Really Nasty

Via io9: ‘A major shallow earthquake hit near Kathmandu in Nepal just before noon on Saturday local time. Between high population densities, intense prolonged shaking, unstable slopes, and inadequate buildings, this has the makings of a very nasty disaster.’

via Gizmodo: ‘There are a few important ways you can contribute to the Nepal earthquake relief effort from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.’

I’m praying for all my friends in Kathmandu.

Are Two Giant Black Holes About to Collide?

Are Two Giant Black Holes About to Collide?

Via National Geographic: ‘A collision between two giant black holes is the most titanic smashup astronomers can imagine. Nobody’s ever seen it happen—but if a new report in Astrophysical Journal Letters is correct, they might not have long to wait….

When that happens, says Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, the collision should release a powerful burst of gravitational waves—ripples in the very fabric of spacetime itself. Physicists have built enormous instruments to detect those waves, which would be a ringing confirmation of the theory.’


Gorilla Cracks Glass Window At Zoo After Little Girl Beats Chest

Via IFLScience: ‘For Kijito—the 375-pound male gorilla—it may have just been a matter of mixed signals. What the girl found funny, the gorilla deemed aggressive. Officials at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo said that no one was in danger, even when the pane of glass cracked.

“Shortly before this, we were telling the kids [the gorillas] could not break [the glass],” said Kevin Cave, the father in the video, to Omaha World-Herald. “They will never believe us again.” ‘


The GOP’s pathetic money groveling

Search for the Loch Ness Monster from your couch

Google Maps lets you search for the Loch Ness Monster from your couch | The Verge

Via The Verge: ‘On the 81st anniversary of the iconic Surgeon’s Photograph — the fake image claiming to show the head and neck of the Loch Ness Monster — Google Maps will now let you search for Nessie yourself. Street View has been updated to include imagery of the 23-mile-long Loch Ness in Scotland, and Google even sent a team of divers into the depths of the nearly 800-foot-deep loch to capture underwater images of the legendary lake. Is the Loch Ness Monster real? Is it resting at the bottom of Loch Ness? The answer to your questions may now be hidden in a Street View image.’

Monster or not, Loch Ness is one of my favorite spots on earth, so this is good news.


The Problem With Satisfied Patients

Via The Atlantic: ‘When Department of Health and Human Services administrators decided to base 30 percent of hospitals’ Medicare reimbursement on patient satisfaction survey scores, they likely figured that transparency and accountability would improve healthcare. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) officials wrote, rather reasonably, “Delivery of high-quality, patient-centered care requires us to carefully consider the patient’s experience in the hospital inpatient setting.” They probably had no idea that their methods could end up indirectly harming patients…

The Problem With Satisfied Patients — The Atlantic

Patient-satisfaction surveys have their place. But the potential cost of the subjective scores are leading hospitals to steer focus away from patient health, messing with the highest stakes possible: people’s lives.’


Why don’t our brains explode at movie cuts?

Via Aeon: ‘With a cut, a filmmaker can instantaneously replace most of what is available in your visual field with completely different stuff. This is something that never happened in the 3.5 billion years or so that it took our visual systems to develop. You might think, then, that cutting might cause something of a disturbance when it first appeared. And yet nothing in contemporary reports suggests that it did.’


Dark Chocolate Is Not Good for You, and Also Sucks

The dystopian lake filled by the world’s tech lust

How Psychiatrists Are Failing the Patients Who Need Them Most

Republican Senators Just Voted To Sell Off Your National Forests

Ted Cruz is dangerous: Why liberals scoff at his campaign at their peril

Via Salon.com:

‘Since Ted Cruz first announced his candidacy, much has been made of his chances of winning, his arrogance and his extreme conservative views. But most of the controversy over his candidacy centers on his lying.It is no surprise to any of us that politicians lie. We generally assume they stretch the truth to get elected, to denigrate their political foes, and to bolster their images. But Cruz may just represent one of the biggest liars in recent history. In fact, he may be a whole new form of political liar.

The Daily Beast reports that, “Cruz’s Politifact track record for publicly asserted falsehoods is the second-highest among front-runners, totaling 56 percent of all statements they’ve looked at.” And Matthew Rozsa tell us that “Googling ‘Ted Cruz lies’ pulls back an astonishing 7,890,000 results, and on Twitter, the two phrases are basically synonymous.”

The trouble with this angle on Cruz’s misstatements is that it presumes that Cruz is, in fact, lying. But lying depends on the liar knowing that what he is saying is false. Cruz shows no signs of such awareness. As Ann Marie Cox points out in her survey of Cruz’s lies, there’s more going on here than just a politician’s twisting of the truth or a partisan spin on data. She wonders whether it is time to take seriously the idea that he really believes what he is saying. “There are objective falsehoods that show Cruz could just be looking at a different set of data. Other, more telling whoppers show that Cruz isn’t just looking at different data, he’s living in a different universe.”

That different universe is Cruz’s world of misinformation. He doesn’t lie because lying would require that he actually know the truth. And that is what makes Cruz an even greater threat to the health of our democracy than all of his lies put together. Cruz represents a turn in GOP politics where political beliefs operate more like religious fervor than reasoned inference.’


6 modern-day Christian terrorist groups our media conveniently ignores

Via Salon.com: ‘The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) recently released an in-depth report on terrorism in the United States. Covering April 2009 to February 2015, the report (titled “The Age of the Wolf”) found that during that period, “more people have been killed in America by non-Islamic domestic terrorists than jihadists.” [Although] “the jihadist threat is a tremendous one,”  law enforcement, the SPLC stressed, are doing the public a huge disservice if they view terrorism as an exclusively Islamist phenomenon.’

A Chart Of The Most Common Colors In Paintings Over The Last 200 Years

Via io9: ‘Next time you’re strolling through a museum, pay attention to just the colors of the paintings and the years. Notice anything? Paintings have been getting progressively bluer.

Or, to put it another way, blue is becoming “the new orange,” says Martin Bellander, who put together this chart analyzing color usage in over 120,000 paintings. To make this visualization, he scraped data and images from the BBC’s database of famous paintings through the centuries and analyzed which colors predominated.

Orange is, indeed, far and away the most used color in paintings through the 19th century, and then the usage of other colors — blue, in particular — start to creep upwards so that by our own time, the color spread is fairly evenly spread across the spectrum. Why exactly this happened isn’t clear. But just as interesting is the question of how far we can expect it to go: Will the current state of more-or-less color equilibrium hold, or will a similar chart a few centuries from now show blue sweeping the field, just like orange used to?’


Great advice from Marshall McLuhan:

Marshall McLuhan caused wide irritation with h...

Via Boing Boing: ‘Read only the right-hand page of serious books. “If it’s a frivolous, relaxing book, I read every word. But serious books I read on the right-hand side only because I’ve discovered enormous redundancy in any well-written book, and I find that by reading only the right-hand page this keeps me very wide awake, filling in the other page out of my own noodle.” ‘


Mice are tiny, quiet singers, according to science

Via Salon.com: ‘Male mice sing ultrasonic love songs to woo mates according to a new study published Wednesday in the journal Frontiers of Behavioral Neuroscience. In fact, the mice perform long, complex strings of syllables the same way as song birds.

“Those songs are really high in pitch, above 50 kilohertz, and are not audible to humans,” said Jonathan Chabout, a postdoctoral fellow at Duke University. “When we pitch them down and play back at real speed, it sounds like a bird.” ‘

A Watershed Moment for Tech Activism

English: Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Logo. HRC...

Via Motherboard: ‘Indiana’s new “religious freedom” law has ignited a national firestorm of protest—and the tech industry is leading the fight.

The new law, which critics say opens the door to discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people, has prompted many leading tech companies to engage in corporate activism on social issues with a newly emboldened intensity, according to LGBT advocates.

“The tech industry’s opposition to this bill is unprecedented,” said Fred Sainz, vice president at Human Rights Campaign, a leading LGBT advocacy group. “Never before have so many tech firms spoken out so loudly against such discriminatory actions.”

Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana says his state’s law is designed to provide legal protection against government action that “substantially” burdens religious freedom. But critics call the measure a bald-faced attempt to legitimize discrimination by allowing businesses to refuse service to LGBT people on “religious” grounds.

The fierce backlash against Indiana’s new law underscores how national attitudes are rapidly changing on the issue of gay rights, and highlights how important LGBT equality has become for some of the country’s most influential tech companies.’


Where Did April Fools’ Day Come From?

The April Fools

Via Big Think: ‘Many conflicting theories exist that try and pinpoint the origins of the holiday everyone in your office hates you for. Of all these theories, the most likely root of what we now know as April Fools’ Day dates back to Pope Gregory XIII, who reigned — or if reign isn’t the right word — who pope’d from 1572 to 1584. I’m sure you’re familiar with the calendar hanging on your wall that starts in January, ends in December, and consists of seemingly arbitrary amounts of days per month. You can thank Pope Greg for that. His Gregorian calendar replaced the Julian Calendar in 1582.

One major change with the calendar switch was that New Year’s Day moved from the end of March to the beginning of January. As Tech Times notes, those who didn’t get the memo about the change of date and celebrated the old New Year’s Day at the end of March were thus deemed, naturally, April fools.


I mean, I like chocolate like the next person, but…

Via Salon.com: ‘In 2007, Belgian chocolatier Dominique Persoone decided that guests at a party he catered for the Rolling Stones were too hip to eat their desserts with their mouths. So, he invented the “chocolate shooter” — a little line of cocoa powder designed to get you a little high and keep you tasting chocolate for hours.

Since then, Persoone has sold over 25,000 chocolate shooters and with it, established a super obnoxious trend.

“The mint and the ginger really tinkle your nose,” said the 46-year-old of the spices present in the shooter. “Then the mint flavor goes down and the chocolate stays in your brain.”

Unsurprisingly, this is not good for you. Stop doing it.’

[Just a thought: could the appeal of this have something to do with dyslexia?]


Why Is My Dog Such a Picky Pooper?

Via WIRED: ‘Here’s what people tend to forget about dogs (and a number of other animals): Elimination fulfills both a physiological purpose and a social one. Whether the deed is done in an open field, the middle of the street, a neighbor’s doorstep, or a bed of ivy, dogs are not just expelling bodily waste; they are depositing piles of really interesting information on the ground.’