Wolves and Bears Stage Comeback in Crowded, Urban Europe

Via National Geographic: ‘ [A] study published Thursday in the journal Science reports that Europe, one of the most industrialized landscapes on Earth, with many roads and hardly any large wilderness areas, is nonetheless “succeeding in maintaining, and to some extent restoring, viable large carnivore populations on a continental scale.”

A team of more than 50 leading carnivore biologists across Europe, from Norway to Bulgaria, details in the research a broad recovery of four large carnivore species: wolves, brown bears, the Eurasian lynx, and the wolverine.

“There is a deeply rooted hostility to these species in human history and culture,” the study notes. And yet roughly a third of Europe, and all but four of the continent’s 50 nations, are now home to permanent and reproducing populations of at least one of these predators.’

 

7 Films We Should Probably Ban Right Now, You Know, Just In Case

Via Gizmodo: ‘So you’ve no doubt heard about American cinemas’ near unanimous decision to pull The Interview from theaters. Not to be outdone in cowardice, Paramount is also telling some theaters to not play 2004’s Team America: World Police in its place in deference to our new cultural overlords in Pyongyang.

Since we’ve officially abandoned all reason, we thought we’d help the studios out and ready a list of some other films that we should probably just ban lest we incur the wrath of some unknown hacker group that’s demonstrated no ability to carry out all the threats it throws around. But hey, we wouldn’t want to offend anyone!’

 

How to Run a Drug Dealing Network in Prison

Via Pacific Standard: ‘At, I suspect, every single correctional facility in the U.S., a drug network something like the one I’m about to outline operates and prospers. Take it from me—I was recently released from federal prison after spending 21 years of my life inside.

While you may read about the drug smuggling ventures that are busted, you’re unlikely to hear so often about the operations that are successful. To help explain one of these systems, I got in touch with a man I’ll call “Divine.” He’s a black, 50-something, very suave type of hustler, clean cut and ripped up from working out. A native New Yorker, his prowess as a drug dealer is even celebrated in hip-hop’s lyrical lore. He is now doing life in the feds. But his occupation in prison brings him money and power, and the all-important prestige of being The Man. He agreed to anonymously break down how it all works for Substance.com.’

 

Idaho State To Offer Bigfoot-Inspired Course

Via io9: ‘Though the chairman of the Department of Biological Sciences at Idaho State University is careful to note, “It is not a course on Bigfoot. It is a course on anthropology,” ISU will nevertheless be offering an experimental class titled “The Relict Hominoid Inquiry.” Which is kinda a course on Bigfoot. Sorta.

The Idaho State Journal reports:

In the upcoming semester, Idaho State University professor Jeff Meldrum will be teaching an experimental course titled The Relict Hominoid Inquiry. Part of that inquiry will address scientific theories on Bigfoot, alongside other links in the human evolutionary chain.

“What I’m trying to do is address a shift in perception that’s been gaining traction in the anthropological community,” Meldrum said. That shift involves looking at human evolution as a tree in which scientists are discovering new branches all the time. The theory is that offshoots of human evolution are recent and could still exist, roaming the earth undiscovered.

Aka Bigfoot, though Meldrum was also careful to note, “It’s not a course about Bigfoot.”

His Bigfoot bona fides, however, are impeccable:

A 21-year veteran at ISU and current professor of anatomy and anthropology, Meldrum studies how hominoids made the evolutionary leap to bipedalism. Ancient footprints, archeological records and the science behind legendary creatures have been his life’s work. Meldrum has been featured as a scientific expert on Animal Planet TV specials about Bigfoot. He also publishes a peer-reviewed online journal titled “Relic Hominoid Inquiry,” which explores the possible existence of relict hominoid species around the world.’

Meet the Spiky Shelled Sea Snail Named After The Clash’s Joe Strummer

Via io9: ‘After discovering new deep sea snails with spiky shells, researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute named one of them (on the left above) A. Strummeri after Joe Strummer, singer for the Clash.

Speaking with the Santa Cruz Sentinel, lead researcher Shannon Johnson explained that the name was based in more than just a love for “London Calling”:

“Because they look like punk rockers in the 70s and 80s and they have purple blood and live in such an extreme environment, we decided to name one new species after a punk rock icon.” ‘

 

Over 700 million people have taken steps to improve privacy since Snowden

Via Boing Boing:  ‘Name another news story that has caused over ten percent of the world’s population to change their behavior in the past year? Cory Doctorow is right: we have reached “peak indifference to surveillance.” From now on, this issue is going to matter more and more, and policymakers around the world need to start paying attention.’

 

Hallucinogenic fungi found at Buckingham Palace

Via Boing Boing: ‘ “Palace officials said Friday there are several hundred species of mushrooms growing in the palace gardens, including a number of naturally occurring Amanita muscaria.”

Officials say garden shrooms are never used in the palace kitchens. But no word on whether the Queen uses them from time to time in her royal rituals of blood sacrifice, baby-dismemberment, and Satanic fornication.’

 

Australia’s Twitter Win Against Islamophobia: How To Use #illridewithyou

Via Lifehacker: ‘Twitter’s top trending hashtag worldwide, #illridewithyou, shows how social networks can be a force for good. Australian samaritans are using the hashtag to lend support to Muslim citizens on their daily commute, in case of a racist attack.

A gunman took dozens of hostages in a cafe in Sydney, Australia, on Monday, December 15. He was presumed to be an Islamic extremist, after he asked for a flag of ISIS among his demands. While the gunman’s actions are clearly to be condemned, innocent Muslims – particularly those who wear traditional garb – were afraid of hateful speech or even violence following these events. Almost half of Australia has anti-Muslim sentiments, according to a recent report.

And Australia has seen racial attacks in public before. There was the school boy verbally abused by a 50-year-old woman, a 55-year-old lady ranted against a couple of kids in a train, and a Muslim woman was bashed and thrown from a moving train. After that last incident, Muslim activists said they have seen a “massive spike in racist attacks,” the Herald Sun reported.

Amidst fears of a similar backlash against the Islamic community after the hostage situation, this Twitter campaign brings hope.

Australians across the nation started tagging the location of their daily commute on Twitter with the hashtag #illridewithyou, showing support to their fellow Muslim citizens and assuring them of protection. The hashtag has quickly gone viral, with people across the world praising it.’

Dick Cheney’s grotesque legacy: Why the record is so much worse than reported

Via Salon.com: ‘As many of us wade through the horror of the Senate torture report, it’s hard not to think back to a time when the man who ran the country explained to us in plain language what he was doing. I’m talking about Vice President Dick Cheney, of course, the official who smoothly seized the reins of power after 9/11 and guided national security policy throughout his eight years in office. He was one of the most adept bureaucratic players American politics has ever produced and it’s his doctrine, not the Bush Doctrine, that spurred government actions from the very beginning.’

Sorry to expose you yet again to this nightmare-inducing visage. Why? Because, while Bush was risible, this man was execrable. And, with another round of US Presidential campaigning kicking off, can the American people grasp that those who forget the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them?

 

Happy Monkey Day!

Monkey Day Pictures: Our Favorite Primates Around the World

Via National Geographic: ‘According to the Detroit Metro Times, Monkey Day—which falls on Sunday—started when a Michigan State University art student scribbled “monkey day” on December 14th on a friend’s calendar. The newspaper said it caught momentum as students started adding monkeys to their artwork and circulating it online. To celebrate the day, National Geographic photo editors selected their favorite monkey pictures from all over the world.

In the picture above, a golden snub-nosed monkey perches in a highland forest in China’s Zhouzhi National Nature Reserve. The monkeys’ heavy fur helps them through subzero winters in the Qin Ling Mountains of central China.

This young monkey is among 4,000 others that are being squeezed from their habitat by human settlements, logging, and hunters interested in meat, bones, and luxurious fur. Only 20,000 golden snub-nosed monkeys are left on Earth, according to National Geographic magazine.’

 

Why Today’s Date Is Special

Via Gizmodo: ‘12/13/14 has a kind of pleasing order that you might’ve noticed this morning when you woke up. But today’s date is interesting because of more than just minor curiosity — it’s the last sequential date this century.

As Quentin Fottrell has pointed out over at Market Watch, people actually care about cool dates. Five times as many people have set today to be their wedding day than you’d expect for a snowy Saturday. He also contacted a professor at the University of Portland, who pointed out that this isn’t just any old sequential date — the dates themselves are made up of just four sequential digits: 1, 2, 3 and 4.’

 

Jeb Bush’s damning secret history

Via Salon.com: ‘Whenever the deep thinkers of the Republican establishment glance at their bulging clown car of presidential hopefuls — with out-there Dr. Ben Carson, exorcist Bobby Jindal, loudmouth Chris Christie and bankruptcy expert Donald Trump jammed against Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, to name a few — they inevitably start chattering about “Jeb Bush.”

Never mind that his father was a one-term wonder of no great distinction or that his brother is already a serious contender, in the eyes of historians, for worst president of the past 100 years. And never mind that on the issues most controversial among party activists — immigration and Common Core educational standards — he is an accursed “moderate.”

…The 2016 presidential hopeful has a checkered financial history. Republicans nominate him at their peril…’

Geminid meteor showers peak this weekend.

Here’s how to view, in the skies and online: ‘ “The Geminid meteor shower is now the richest meteor shower of the year, rivalling the summer Perseids in popularity,” writes Mark Armstrong at Astronomy Now.

The 2014 Geminids peak over the next few days, and it’s likely to be a particularly beautiful display.

The best viewing, as always, is as far away as possible from city lights. But if you can’t get to a good viewing spot, read on! There are several ways to view the Geminids online.’ (via Boing Boing)

The Deer

The deer my mother swears to God we never saw,

the ones that stepped between the trees

on pound-coin-coloured hooves,

I’d bring them up each teatime in the holidays

and they were brighter every time I did;

more supple than the otters we waited for

at Ullapool, more graceful than the kingfisher

that darned the river south of Rannoch Moor.

Five years on, in that same house, I rose

for water in the middle of the night and watched

my mother at the window, looking out

to where the forest lapped the garden’s edge.

From where she stood, I saw them stealing

through the pines and they must have been closer

than before, because I had no memory

of those fish-bone ribs, that ragged fur,

their eyes, like hers, that flickered back

towards whatever followed them.

– Helen Mort

 

Unarmed People of Color Killed by Police, 1999-2014

Via Gawker:  ‘On Wednesday, after the announcement that NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo would not be indicted for killing Eric Garner, the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund Twitter posted a series of tweets naming 76 men and women who were killed in police custody since the 1999 death of Amadou Diallo in New York. Starting with the most recent death, what follows are more detailed accounts of many of those included in the Legal Defense Fund’s tweets.’

 

RIP Frank and Louie, the Two-Faced Cat

Via io9: ‘He defied the odds by purring as long as he did, but the world’s longest-living two-faced cat (also called a Janus cat, after the Roman god with faces looking to the future and the past), Frank and Louie, died last week at the ripe age of 15.The cause was cancer, according to the feline’s hometown paper, the Worcester Telegram.

Owner Martha “Marty” Stevens adopted Frank and Louie as a kitten in 1999. Initially, vets told her told he probably wouldn’t survive a week.

Reports the Telegram:

Frank and Louie — or rather Frank because his side had the esophagus — learned to eat and thrived. The cat rubbed against legs and won over the hearts of many who thought he was difficult to look at. He had two functioning eyes and a center eye, which was blind. Two noses and two mouths but just one brain. All in all, he was a healthy cat, his biggest ordeals having been neutering and the removal of some teeth from Louie’s mouth, which had no bottom jaw.’

 

27 Stunning Photos of #BlackLivesMatter Protests From Around the Globe

Via Mic:  ‘It’s not just Americans that care about racist policing practices across the U.S. In protests held worldwide this week, thousands of people showed up to demonstrate solidarity with their counterparts in the U.S., protesting the deaths of Ferguson teenager Mike Brown and New York man Eric Garner.

According to Newsweek, protests hit worldwide metropolises like Tokyo, Paris and Delhi, while reports of related graffiti have also popped up in Germany. Supporters of the cause waved signs saying “America, the world is watching” and “no justice, no peace.”

The marches also continued from coast to coast in the U.S., with yet another round of related demonstrations in New York and riot police clashing with protesters in Berkeley, California. In New York, the police arrested more than 220 people.’

 

Reminder: some US police departments reject high-IQ candidates

Via Boing Boing:  ‘Even if you think that IQ tests are unscientific mumbo-jumbo, it’s amazing to learn that some US police departments don’t, and furthermore, that they defended their legal right to exclude potential officers because they tested too high.From a 1999 NYT article:

In a ruling made public on Tuesday, Judge Peter C. Dorsey of the United States District Court in New Haven agreed that the plaintiff, Robert Jordan, was denied an opportunity to interview for a police job because of his high test scores. But he said that that did not mean Mr. Jordan was a victim of discrimination.’

Google Can Now Tell You’re Not a Robot With Just One Click

Via WIRED:  ‘On Wednesday, Google announced that many of its “Captchas”—the squiggled text tests designed to weed out automated spambots—will be reduced to nothing more than a single checkbox next to the statement “I’m not a robot.” No more typing in distorted words or numbers; Google says it can, in many cases, tell the difference between a person or an automated program simply by tracking clues that don’t involve any user interaction. The giveaways that separate man and machine can be as subtle as how he or she (or it) moves a mouse in the moments before that single click.’

Make It Happen, Hollywood:

Stephen Hawking Wants To Play A Bond Villain: ‘Professor Stephen Hawking has appeared as himself on The Simpsons, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Futurama, and The Big Bang Theory, but for once, he’d like to play someone other than himself. And he even has the perfect role picked out: Professor Hawking wants to play the villain in a James Bond film’ (via io9).

 

How to Beat a Polygraph

Via Pacific Standard: ‘The overall goal of the preparation process is to teach people to control the otherwise-involuntary physical stress responses that the polygraph’s sensors pick up on during the interview. Or, as Williams himself summed up quite simply in a recent tweet: “The polygraph operator monitors your respiration, GSR, & cardio. Get nervous on the wrong question & he calls you a liar!”Many criminologists now believe that “getting nervous” shouldn’t indicate a guilty conscience, and that consistent story-telling is a much better indicator of the truth. Psychologists are currently testing new techniques that “induce cognitive load” as potentially more accurate ways to weed out the lies. It takes more brainpower to keep an invented story consistent than it does to tell the truth, the theory goes. So interrogators can try to overwhelm their subjects with information, questions, and tasks, and see how flustered they get.

One review of the research explores methods like having the person draw the scene being described, tell the story in reverse-chronological order, describe the scene in detail from the perspective of a different physical vantage point, and even complete math problems in the middle of the interview. Even being made to maintain constant eye contact occupies the mind, so that can also make it more difficult for a liar to stay on message.’

 

The long and fraught history of judging the president’s kids

Via Washington Post: ‘The lesson: Don’t say anything bad about the president’s kids. Also, the Internet is always waiting for the next thing to be outraged about; don’t make its job too easy.

Avoiding saying stuff about presidential kids has not been America’s strong suit — especially since presidents usually try to keep their children away from spotlight. It’s human nature to be curious about the stuff you’re told to avert your eyes from. 

 

Why Lawyers Could Become An Endangered Species By 2030

Via io9: ‘A new report is predicting that robots and artificial intelligence will dominate most legal practices within 15 years, leading to the “structural collapse” of law firms.

Expert systems fuelled by sophisticated algorithms, natural language processing capabilities, and unhindered access to stores of data are poised to uproot many well established industries and institutions. And as a new report compiled by Jomati Consultants points out, lawyers — like many other white collar workers — are in danger of being supplanted.’

 

Good news: HIV is evolving to be less deadly

Via Salon.com: ‘On World AIDS Day, good news, however abstract, is more than welcome. That news came in the form of a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science which has found that HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus, is actually evolving in a way that makes it harder for the virus to cause AIDS. The research studied 2,000 women in Botswana and South Africa, two countries which have been hit hard by the epidemic.

…The positive findings are accompanied by the news that the number of people receiving treatment has now exceeded the number of newly infected people, which is an important tipping point in terms of fighting the disease.’

The World Now Has Its First E-Resident

The World Now Has Its First E-Resident - The Atlantic

Via The Atlantic: ‘Edward Lucas has a habit of popping up at pivotal moments in European history.

In March 1990, shortly after Lithuania declared independence from the Soviet Union, the Economist editor caught a flight to Vilnius and received the first Lithuanian visa: number 0001, a stamp-sized chink in the Iron Curtain that got him arrested and deported by Soviet authorities.

On Monday, Lucas helped chip away at borders once again. In a ceremony in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, a friend of Lucas’s from Ilves’s previous career as a journalist, made Lucas Estonia’s first e-resident. And just like that, the word “resident” took on new meaning, distilled in the smart card below:

To be clear: E-residency is not a path to citizenship; it’s not legal residency. It cannot be used as a travel document or a picture ID. Instead, it’s a form of supranational digital identity issued, for the first time, by a country. It’s the online self, now with a government imprimatur. And it’s the latest innovation from a tech-savvy nation that brought you Skype, the world’s first digitally signed international agreement, and an intricate national ID system that allows citizens to speedily elect politicians and file taxes online. The Baltic republic is so wired that officials are even contemplating uploading the government’s digital infrastructure to the cloud so that it can continue operating if Russia invades Estonia.’

 

NASA’s version of Black Friday

Via CNN: ‘Black Friday bargain hunters, do you ever get the feeling that you’re being sucked in somewhere against your control, rapidly descending to a dark, cold place?

It could be that feeling after you snatch the last Xbox away from a 9-year-old. Or it could be a black hole.

Shoppers may have Black Friday, but NASA scientists have something that’s arguably better: Black Hole Friday.’

The one word that got Darren Wilson out of jail free

Via Think Progress: ‘Darren Wilson did not escape accountability for shooting Michael Brown dead because of the law. He escaped accountability because, as a society, a majority of us are OK with that outcome.

There are many conflicting accounts of what happened the night Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown. Wilson was able to present his account, with little scrutiny, to the grand jury.

But even if you accept Wilson’s account word-for-word, he only gets off because enough people found his actions “reasonable” under the circumstances. Since Wilson used lethal force, he acted “reasonably” if he “reasonably” believed his life was in danger.’

Polar Bears Face Starvation And Cub Loss Due To Sea Ice Loss

Via IFLScience:  ‘The future is not looking bright for polar bears living in Canada’s Arctic islands. If the current climate trend continues to the end of the century, sea ice decline will mean that many areas are no longer able to support polar bears, a depressing new study has found. With an absence of ice for several months a year, polar bears may face losing their cubs and starvation, leaving a rather bleak outlook for this population.’

 

Ancient Computer Even More Ancient Than We Thought

Via IFLScience:  ‘The astonishing Antikythera mechanism is even older than previously suspected, new research suggests. Instead of being “1500 years ahead of its time,” it may have been closer to 1800.

The mechanism was found in 1901 in the wreck of a ship that sank in the Aegean Sea around 60 BC. Though its origins are unknown, it could be used to calculate astronomical motion, making it a sort of forerunner to computers.

The sheer sophistication of the device makes it mysterious, being more advanced than any known instrument of its day – or for centuries thereafter. Even with parts missing after spending such a long time in the briny deep, it was examined to have at least 30 gears. This is perhaps why for many, it represents the pinnacle of technology of the ancient world and what was lost during the Dark Ages.

If devices such as this had survived, Kepler might have found the task of explaining the orbits of the planets far easier to achieve. Although the makers likely would not have understood why the moon slowed down and sped up in its orbit, they were sufficiently aware of the phenomenon. In fact, the mechanism mimics it precisely.

One of the mechanism’s functions was to predict eclipses, and a study of these dials indicates it was operating on a calender starting from 205 BC.

Estimates of the mechanism’s date of manufacture have gradually been pushed back, starting with the year in which it sank. The device was housed in a box, which has engravings dated to 80 to 90BC, but the lettering appears consistent with a date of 100 to 150BC.

However, in The Archive of History of Exact Sciences, Dr. Christian Carman of Argentina’s National University of Quilmes and Dr. James Evans of the University of Puget Sound believe they have identified the solar eclipse that occurs in the 13th month of the mechanism’s calender. If so, this would make its start date, when the dials are set to zero, May 205BC.’

 

‘Off switch’ for pain discovered

Via ScienceDailyActivating the adenosine A3 receptor subtype is key to powerful pain relief:

 ‘In research published in the medical journal Brain, Saint Louis University researcher Daniela Salvemini, Ph.D. and colleagues within SLU, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other academic institutions have discovered a way to block a pain pathway in animal models of chronic neuropathic pain including pain caused by chemotherapeutic agents and bone cancer pain suggesting a promising new approach to pain relief.

The scientific efforts led by Salvemini, who is professor of pharmacological and physiological sciences at SLU, demonstrated that turning on a receptor in the brain and spinal cord counteracts chronic nerve pain in male and female rodents. Activating the A3 receptor — either by its native chemical stimulator, the small molecule adenosine, or by powerful synthetic small molecule drugs invented at the NIH — prevents or reverses pain that develops slowly from nerve damage without causing analgesic tolerance or intrinsic reward (unlike opioids).’

 

The World’s Iconic National Dishes

The World's Iconic National Dishes - The Atlantic

Via The Atlantic: ‘While it is an iconic food, no one would argue that a roast turkey is the American national dish—turkey on multigrain for lunch aside. Plopping a turkey on an overladen table is reserved almost solely for this day.

So, we wondered, what other food traditions around the world are universal, sometimes begrudgingly consumed, national, cultural symbols?’

 

Glacier National Park Is On Track To Be Glacier-Free By 2030

Via Gizmodo: ‘When Glacier National Park was dedicated in 1910, this stunning span of the Rocky Mountains on the Montana-Canadian border counted over 150 thick, morphing ice sheets that gave the park its name. One very warm century later, there are only 26 glaciers here. And by 2030, scientists warn, that number could be zero.’

 

The Taliban’s psychiatrist

Via BBC News: ‘In the late 1990s the Taliban controlled Afghanistan, but the fighting that brought them to power left many militants struggling with the psychological effects of war. One doctor recognised the problem and, although he disagreed with the Taliban’s ideology, agreed to treat them.

“I remember the first group of Taliban who came to see me,” says Afghan psychiatrist Nader Alemi. “They used to come in groups, not as individuals. When I treated one, he would spread the word.

“Fighters would turn up with my name on a piece of paper. They would say that I’d cured their friend, and now they wanted to be cured too. Most of them had never been to a doctor before.”

He was the only psychiatrist in northern Afghanistan to speak Pashto, the language of most Taliban.

“Language was very important – because I spoke their language, they felt comfortable opening up,” he says.’

 

14 greedy companies making their employees work on Thanksgiving

Via Salon.com: ‘Now known as “Black Thursday,” numerous large retailers are opening around 6pm on Thanksgiving Day.Kmart takes the cake this year by announcing it will open at 6am and remain open for 42 hours. ThinkProgressreported that when one Kmart employee requested to work a split-shift on Thanksgiving, she was denied and told if she didn’t come to work, she would be fired.

As a form of protest, nearly 100,000 people have liked the Boycott Black Thursday Facebook page, which states:

“Employees will be forced to work the majority of the day and evening in preparation for the huge sale. We believe this is an unethical decision that does not consider the families of the men and women who work at these stores, so we’re boycotting Black Thursday.”

It’s not just Big Box stores keeping their doors open on the holiday. Many workers in the service industry, such as those working at grocery stores, airports, restaurants and movie theaters, are forced to work as well. Many of these workers don’t get paid holidays. The United States is the only developed nation in the world that doesn’t guarantee paid holidays.

The following stores will require their employees to work Thanksgiving Day:

  • Kmart
  • Walmart
  • Macy’s
  • Target
  • RadioShack
  • Starbucks
  • Kohl’s
  • JCPenney
  • Sears
  • Toys”R”Us
  • Best Buy
  • Staples
  • Sports Authority
  • Gap/Old Navy/Banana Republic Company

Whether it’s a marketing move or actual sanity, these stores are keeping their doors closed:

  • Costco
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Sam’s Club
  • BJs
  • Home Depot
  • Lowe’s
  • Nordstrom
  • TJ Maxx
  • Marshall’s
  • GameStop
  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Burlington Coat Factory
  • Crate and Barrel
  • Petco
  • Neiman Marcus
  • REI
  • Pier 1 Imports

Would you rather shop at a store that puts people first or its profits?’

 

12 things white people can do now because Ferguson

Via Quartz: ‘Black people are dying and it’s not your personal fault that black people are dying because you’re white but if you don’t make a purposeful choice to become a white ally and actively work to dismantle the racist system running America for the benefit of white people then it becomes your shame because you are white and black lives matter. And if you live your whole life and then die without making a purposeful choice to become a white ally then American racism becomes your legacy.’

 

How Many Michael Browns? 7 Other Lives Cut Short By Police Since Ferguson

Via ThinkProgress: ‘A tragic death at police hands, fed-up African American residents, and a militarized police force converged to draw national outrage fixed on Ferguson, Missouri. Coming weeks after New York Police Department officers killed Eric Garner using an illegal chokehold, national attention turned to the cases involving these two men. But as protests roar over the grand jury’s decision not to press any charges, the community isn’t just angered about Brown and Garner, or even all those who came before them.In just in the few months since Brown’s death, police in other jurisdictions took the lives of countless others, many with allegations just as outrageous as those in Brown’s case, and with no greater police accountability thus far. In the movement fighting police brutality, each of their names has become hashtags. But much of the public hasn’t heard nearly as much about them…’

 

Why It’s Impossible to Indict a Cop

Via 3quarksdaily: ‘How to police the police is a question as old as civilization, now given special urgency by a St. Louis County grand jury’s return of a “no bill” of indictment for Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in his fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown. The result is shocking to many, depressingly predictable to more than a few…

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about these police killings, many of them of unarmed victims, is that our courts find them perfectly legal…’

 

Art in a Whisky Glass, Neatly Explained

Via NYTimes.com: ‘Ernie Button, a photographer in Phoenix, found art at the bottom of a whisky glass. Howard A. Stone, a mechanical and aerospace engineering professor at Princeton, found the science in the art.Eight years ago, Mr. Button was about to wash the glass when he noticed that leftover drops of Scotch had dried into a chalky but unexpectedly beautiful film. “When I lifted it up to the light, I noticed these really delicate, fine lines on the bottom,” he recalled, “and being a photographer for a number of years before this, I’m like, ‘Hmm, there’s something to this.’ ”

He and his wife began experimenting. The Scotches with smoky, peaty flavors, like those from the islands of Islay and Skye in western Scotland, were inconsistent, needing more trial and error to produce the picturesque ring patterns. By contrast, those from the valley around the River Spey in northeastern Scotland “seem like they’ll work every time,” Mr. Button said.

“It takes just a drop or two to create a really nice image,” he said. He started photographing the residues, using colored lights “to give it that otherworldly effect,” he said.’

 

Will Texas Kill an Insane Man?

Via NYTimes.com: ‘By any reasonable standard — not to mention the findings of multiple mental-health experts over the years — Mr. Panetti is mentally incompetent. But Texas, along with several other stubborn states, has a long history of finding the loopholes in Supreme Court rulings restricting the death penalty. The state has continued to argue that Mr. Panetti is exaggerating the extent of his illness, and that he understands enough to be put to death — a position a federal appeals court accepted last year, even though it agreed that he was “seriously mentally ill.”

Mr. Panetti has not had a mental-health evaluation since 2007. In a motion hastily filed this month, his volunteer lawyers requested that his execution be stayed, that a lawyer be appointed for him, and that he receive funding for a new mental-health assessment, saying his functioning has only gotten worse. For instance, he now claims that a prison dentist implanted a transmitter in his tooth.

The lawyers would have made this motion weeks earlier, immediately after a Texas judge set Mr. Panetti’s execution date. But since no one — not the judge, not the district attorney, not the attorney general — notified them (or even Mr. Panetti himself), they had no idea their client was scheduled to be killed until they read about it in a newspaper. State officials explained that the law did not require them to provide notification.
On Nov. 19, a Texas court denied the lawyers’ motion. A civilized society should not be in the business of executing anybody. But it certainly cannot pretend to be adhering to any morally acceptable standard of culpability if it kills someone like Scott Panetti.’

 

Burning

He lives, who last night flopped from a log
Into the creek, and all night by an ankle
Lay pinned to the flood, dead as a nail
But for the skin of the teeth of his dog.

I brought him boiled eggs and broth.
He coughed and waved his spoon
And sat up saying he would dine alone,
Being fatigue itself after that bath.

I sat without in the sun with the dog.
Wearing a stocking on the ailing foot,
In monster crutches, he hobbled out,
And addressed the dog in bitter rage.

He told the yellow hound, his rescuer,
Its heart was bad, and it ought
Not wander by the creek at night;
If all his dogs got drowned he would be poor.

He stroked its head and disappeared in the shed
And came out with a stone mallet in his hands
And lifted that rocky weight of many pounds
And let it lapse on top of the dog’s head.

I carted off the carcass, dug it deep.
Then he came too with what a thing to lug,
Or pour on a dog’s grave, his thundermug,
And poured it out and went indoors to sleep.

I saw him sleepless in the pane of glass
Looking wild-eyed at sunset, then the glare
Blinded the glass—only a red square
Burning a house burning in the wilderness.

– Galway Kinnell (1927-2014).