’The concept of truth is under assault, but our troubles with truth aren’t exactly new.
What’s different is that in the past, debates about the status of truth primarily took place in intellectual cafes and academic symposia among philosophers. These days, uncertainty about what to believe is endemic – a pervasive feature of everyday life for everyday people.
“Truth isn’t truth” – Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s lawyer, famously said in August. His statement wasn’t as paradoxical as it might have appeared. It means that our beliefs, what we hold as true, are ultimately unprovable, rather than objectively verifiable.…’
Mysterious Evacuation Of Solar Observatory Overlooking White Sands Smells Like Espionage:
’A bizarre, unexplained situation has unfolded in and around the tiny enclave of Sunspot, New Mexico. A week after U.S. federal government officials ordered the evacuation of the National Solar Observatory facility there, as well as a nearby post office, the first site remains closed due to a “security issue” and no one can or will say what it is.
Members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and potentially other federal government agencies, arrived in Sunspot on or about Sept. 7, 2018, at which point they ordered everyone out of the National Solar Observatory site, which is technically at Sacramento Peak, situated above the tiny town. They also told the clerk in the Sunsport Post Office to evacuate.…’
’Mueller has been seeking this for nearly a year. Now he’s got it. What’s next?…’
’…new research shows that doctors failed to list a
good reason for why they prescribed opioids in nearly a third of cases over a 10-year period.…’
Via Big Think
Much of medical prescribing is irresponsible, unprincipled and knee-jerk. Opioid prescribing in the face of the opioid crisis is the prime example.
’Our recent studies of several replacements suggest effects on the production of eggs and sperm similar to those induced by BPA.…’
Via The Conversation
’It’s easy for casual observers to watch President Donald Trump stumble over words, stop mid-thought to wave at passing boats, ramble about “snakes everywhere” and to conclude to themselves that yes, this guy is definitely losing it. That said, it’s something altogether different when the people who work closest with the president actually ask a professional mental health expert to step in because he’s freaking them the fuck out.
That, however, is exactly what Yale psychiatrist Bandy Lee claims has happened.
In an interview with Salon published Thursday, Lee, editor of 2017’s The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President, claims that several White House staffers approached her to address the president’s declining faculties.…’
Via Splinter News
Common Antidepressant Might Help Bacteria Become Superbugs:
’Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), a class of drug that prevents certain neurons in the brain from reabsorbing serotonin, a neurotransmitter. People with clinical depression often have less serotonin freely available, and SSRIs boost these levels, helping treat the condition to some extent.
In recent years, though, there’s some research showing that SSRIs such as fluoxetine can also kill off bacteria and other microbes, sparking interest in them being used as a new type of antimicrobial. But the flip side to this realization is the theoretical worry that fluoxetine can foster antibiotic resistance in the environment, since some of the drug ends up in our sewers after it flushes through our bodies.
The current study is touted as the first to test out that theory.…’
Erik Johansson via Instagram
’When you open a packet of a synthetic cannabinoid like K2 or Spice and pour the dried vegetation into your hand, it looks like marijuana. These dried leaves and stems can be inert or come from psychoactive plants like Wild Dagga. Some of these plants are contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides, mold or salmonella.
However, synthetic cannabinoids are anything but natural. They are mass-produced overseas and then shipped in bulk to the U.S., where they are dissolved and then mixed with dried vegetation, which absorbs the liquid. This process is very imprecise, so the dose in one packet can differ greatly within or between batches.
There are several hundred synthetic cannabinoids in existence, and they all stimulate cannabinoid type 1 receptors (CB1), just like the active component in natural marijuana, THC, that provides the high. But they do so with different intensities and for differing periods of time. Some incorporate the central ring structure of the THC molecule before laboratory modification, but many others do not. More problems arise because some of the synthetic cannabinoids stimulate non-cannabinoid receptors and can cause unanticipated effects as well. There is no way to know which synthetic cannabinoids are actually in the product you purchased.
The molecular structure of THC, the active component of marijuana. Many chemists producing synthetic cannabinoids in the lab use the three hexagonal rings as the scaffold to generate new molecules that produce a similar high. Lifestyle discover/Shutterstock.com Natural marijuana does not comprise only THC. The other constituents in natural marijuana such as cannabidiol actually help to temper the negative impact of THC but are absent in synthetic cannabinoids. In addition to these myriad risks, there is also a risk that synthetic cannabinoids can be adulterated with other chemicals, ranging from opioids to rat poison.…’
Via The Conversation
’A new form of misinformation is poised to spread through online communities as the 2018 midterm election campaigns heat up. Called “deepfakes” after the pseudonymous online account that popularized the technique – which may have chosen its name because the process uses a technical method called “deep learning” – these fake videos look very realistic.
So far, people have used deepfake videos in pornography and satire to make it appear that famous people are doing things they wouldn’t normally. But it’s almost certain deepfakes will appear during the campaign season, purporting to depict candidates saying things or going places the real candidate wouldn’t.
Because these techniques are so new, people are
having trouble telling the difference between real videos and the deepfake videos. My work, with my colleague Ming-Ching Chang and our Ph.D. student Yuezun Li, has found a way to reliably tell real videos from deepfake videos. It’s not a permanent solution, because technology will improve. But it’s a start, and offers hope that computers will be able to help people tell truth from fiction.…
When a deepfake algorithm is trained on face images of a person, it’s dependent on the photos that are available on the internet that can be used as training data. Even for people who are photographed often, few images are available online showing their eyes closed. Not only are photos like that rare – because people’s eyes are open most of the time – but photographers don’t usually publish images where the main subjects’ eyes are shut.
Without training images of people blinking, deepfake algorithms are less likely to create faces that blink normally. When we calculate the overall rate of blinking, and compares that with the natural range, we found that characters in deepfake videos blink a lot less frequent in comparison with real people. Our research uses machine learning to examine eye opening and closing in videos…’
Via The Conversation
’In some forests, trees grow in a manner that keeps their branches from touching one another. Despite decades of study, scientists aren’t exactly sure why.…’
Via JSTOR Daily
Alexandra Samuel writes:
’…I have found one personal rule that keeps my grudge-holding in check: Once I have forgotten the details of the original offence, I strictly forbid myself from maintaining my grudge. I may not be much good at forgive and forget, but once I forget, I require myself to forgive.
Thanks to the internet, however, I fear that forgetfulness is no longer a spiritual hall pass. How forgiving can any of us be, now that the internet logs all our online misdeeds forever?…’
Via JSTOR Daily
Katie Heaney writes:
’What does it really mean to be a psychopath? A psychological researcher and a woman diagnosed as a psychopath break down the reality behind the psycho-killer movie clichés.…’
Via The Cut
Nicholas Grossman writes:
’An attempted assassination-by-drone of Venezuela’s president reflects the growing use of the tools by non-state actors. From ISIS recruiting videos to new bombing methods, drones have the potential to become a weapon of choice for militants without a military budget.…’
The end of glorious martyrdom?
’How is this even possible? You can barely move in the United States of America but for all the flags. Flags on the walls, on posters and books. Flags on poles outside schools, like the one he had to walk past to get to this classroom.
The President has colored his flag wrong.…’
Via Boing Boing
’The awful news that all but two penguin chicks have starved to death out of a colony of almost 40,000 birds is a grim illustration of the enormous pressure Antarctic wildlife is under. …’
Via The Guardian
’On Thursday, T-Mobile confirmed that some of its customer data was breached in an attack the company discovered on Monday. It’s a snappy disclosure timeframe, and the carrier said that no financial data or Social Security numbers were compromised in the breach. A relief, right? The problem is the customer data that was potentially exposed: name, billing zip code, email address, some hashed passwords, account number, account type, and phone number. Pay close attention to that last one.…’
Meghan Flaherty at The Paris Review:
‘As the black-and-white photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson once said to the color photographer William Eggleston: “You know, William, color is bullshit.” In the realism of the black-and-white, gray is every color—without the tartness. The understudies take the stage, and not one seems to miss the headliners. We see the world without distraction. Andre Gide called gray the color of the truth.
Look at enough black-and-white photography and color comes to feel like an intrusion. Eggleston’s photos seem too vital to be real, as though depicting an alternate reality. Each image is delirious with hue, spectacular, delicious, but a little bit too much. The eye craves rest—and mystery, the kind of truth that can be searched only in subtlety. Dorothy may tumble, tornadic, into Technicolor, but still she always wishes to go home.…’
Via 3 Quarks Daily
Michael Cohen has already flipped on Donald Trump:
’Michael Cohen’s guilty plea does not require him to cooperate with federal prosecutors or special counsel Robert Mueller. But a veteran criminal defense attorney told Quartz that it’s clear Cohen is already snitching:
“Everyone made a big deal at first that he wasn’t cooperating, but I actually think he didn’t have to. He told the judge that he made payments ‘with the direction and coordination of the candidate.’ That means he was a co-conspirator with Donald Trump. That’s fucking cooperating!”
What’s more, by pleading guilty Cohen has waived his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, so he could always be subpoenaed by prosecutors if Trump is ever charged.
“It’s sort of a cute maneuver, and I’m guessing the government came up with it. Or maybe he did to make it look like he’s not a snitch,” said the lawyer, who requested anonymity to offer a more candid assessment of the situation. “Call it what you want, but he snitched.”
Cohen is due to be sentenced in December, leaving plenty of time for him to work with prosecutors from Mueller’s team and the Southern District of New York, racking up credits that would reduce the time he serves in prison. Under his current deal, he faces a sentence of up to 57 months.…’
’10 legal experts who are largely in agreement that pardoning Manafort would actually help prosecutors nail him to the wall that much faster.…
“If the president issues a pardon in order to influence a witness and impede the investigation, that would also be a further act of obstruction.” — Lisa Kern Griffin, law professor, Duke University
“If the president pardons anyone involved in the Russian investigation, it may prove to be one of the stupidest things he has yet done.” —Julie O’Sullivan, Georgetown University
“The threat of state prosecution is enough to force Kushner, Flynn, Manafort, etc. to become cooperating witnesses, regardless of whether Trump secretly promises to pardon them.” —Jed Shugerman, Fordham University
If President Trump pardons subjects of Mueller’s investigation, they will be unable to claim their Fifth Amendment rights if they are asked to testify under oath. — Asha Rangappa, associate dean, Yale Law School
With each abnormal, unbecoming, or dishonorable act, President Trump makes it harder for his appointees to defend him, harder for traditional Republicans to maintain their uneasy power alliance with him, and easier for Democrats to take the moral high ground and secure political advantage. President Trump is in danger of snuffing out his candle in the first year of his presidency. — Andy Wright, law professor, Savannah Law School…’
Via Boing Boing
’Recent research suggests that experiencing not-so-happy feelings actually promotes psychological wellbeing.…’
Via Big Think
’According to this research, the more intelligent we are in our late teens and early 20s, the younger we will feel in our 70s – and this may also be reflected in various markers of biological ageing.…’
Via Big Think
’Santa Clara County Fire Chief Anthony Bowden wrote in a declaration. “This throttling has had a significant impact on our ability to provide emergency services. Verizon imposed these limitations despite being informed that throttling was actively impeding County Fire’s ability to provide crisis-response and essential emergency services.” Bowden’s declaration was submitted in an addendum to a brief filed by 22 state attorneys general, the District of Columbia, Santa Clara County, Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District, and the California Public Utilities Commission. The government agencies are seeking to overturn the recent repeal of net neutrality rules in a lawsuit they filed against the Federal Communications Commission in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.…’
Radiant Purple Sky Ribbon Defies Explanation:
’You may have met people named Steve in your life, but have you met the radiant ribbon of colorful light in the night sky named Steve? This unexplained phenomenon looks deceptively similar to an aurora and is observed at the same high latitudes in both hemispheres where you’d expect to see magnetic light shows.
Named by Calgary-based photographer Chris Ratzlaff—it’s a nod to the 2006 film Over the Hedge, which classifies “the unknown” as “Steve”—this ribbon appears to be made of hot gas, in the range of 3,000°C (5,430°F). It forms 450 kilometers (280 miles) above Earth’s surface.
Once scientists started studying Steve in 2016, they gave it an official backronym: Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement. Despite its visual similarity to auroras, research published Monday in Geophysical Research Letters confirms that Steve is generated by a different, unexplained process.…’
The most elevated display of wit?
’Humor me please, and consider the pun. Though some may quibble over the claim, the oft-maligned wordplay is clever and creative, writer James Geary tells Quartz. His upcoming book Wit’s End robustly defends puns and tells the distinguished history of these disrespected witticisms.
“Despite its bad reputation, punning is, in fact, among the highest displays of wit. Indeed, puns point to the essence of all true wit—the ability to hold in the mind two different ideas about the same thing at the same time,” Geary writes. “And the pun’s primacy is demonstrated by its strategic use in the oldest sacred stories, texts, and myths.”…’
Paul Krugman in The New York Times:
’The real news of the past few weeks isn’t that Trump is a wannabe Mussolini who can’t even make the trains run on time. It’s the absence of any meaningful pushback from Congressional Republicans. Indeed, not only are they acquiescing in Trump’s corruption, his incitements to violence, and his abuse of power, up to and including using the power of office to punish critics, they’re increasingly vocal in cheering him on.
Make no mistake: if Republicans hold both houses of Congress this November, Trump will go full authoritarian, abusing institutions like the I.R.S., trying to jail opponents and journalists on, er, trumped-up charges, and more — and he’ll do it with full support from his party.
But why? Is Trumpocracy what Republicans always wanted?
Well, it’s probably what some of them always wanted. And some of them are making a coldblooded calculation that the demise of democracy is worth it if it means lower taxes on the rich and freedom to pollute.
But my guess is that most Republican politicians are spineless rather than sinister — or, more accurately, sinister in their spinelessness. They’re not really ideologues so much as careerists, whose instinct is always to go along with the party line. And this instinct has drawn them ever deeper into complicity.
The point is that once you’ve made excuses for and come to the aid of a bad leader, it gets ever harder to say no to the next outrage…’
Ephrat Livni writes:
‘Rosie Henderson raised the clameur on Aug. 14 by kneeling, calling for help, and reciting the Lord’s Prayer in Norman French, the Guardian reports. She protests a project to narrow a road in St. Peter Port, arguing that it will endanger both pedestrians and motorists in the self-governing UK possession.
The law Henderson invoked is enforceable and creates an immediate injunction. She had 24 hours after issuing the plea to register her claim in court. Work on the road project stopped as soon as the miffed citizen invoked the ancient rule and construction will remain halted until a court decides the case.
The clameur was first recorded in Norman law in the 13th century. Its use is believed to have originated in the 10th century as an appeal to Rollo, Viking founder of the Norman dynasty, according a 2008 article in the Jersey and Guernsey Law Review (pdf) by lawyer and legal historian Andrew Bridgeford.
… The clameur is serious business. “[I]t enables the private individual to co-opt the power of the courts in proclaiming an injunction,” Bridgeford says. “Such a powerful tool is not to be invoked incautiously. A claimant who is found to have raised the Clameur de Haro incorrectly risks not merely a penalty in costs but also punishment for contempt of court.” …’
Dear Mr. President:
’Former CIA director John Brennan, whose security clearance you revoked on Wednesday, is one of the finest public servants I have ever known. Few Americans have done more to protect this country than John. He is a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don’t know him.
Therefore, I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.
Like most Americans, I had hoped that when you became president, you would rise to the occasion and become the leader this great nation needs.
A good leader tries to embody the best qualities of his or her organization. A good leader sets the example for others to follow. A good leader always puts the welfare of others before himself or herself.
Your leadership, however, has shown little of these qualities. Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.
If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken. The criticism will continue until you become the leader we prayed you would be.…’
Via Washington Post
’The former CIA director fired back at the president in a fiery op-ed.…’
Ignorance or malice?
’President Donald Trump has to be reminded of differences in time zones on a “constant basis” as he impulsively attempts to call other world leaders, a diplomatic source told Politico in an article published Monday.
According to a former National Security Council official who spoke to Politico, Trump “wasn’t great with recognizing” that an older world leader might not be awake “or in the right place at 10:30 or 11 p.m. their time.”
A White House official said Trump is well aware of how time zones work, especially as someone who has for years worked in international business, but is often too busy to be concerned with such details.
“He’s the president of the United States. He’s not stopping to add up” time differences, the official told Politico.…’
Via Business Insider
Umair Haque writes:
‘America’s probably not going to recover in our lifetimes, if ever (even if the good guys win the next election.) Let me start with some alarming and necessary factoids. America’s a country whose three main indicators are all blinking nine-alarm red — they’re what “collapse” really means. Life expectancy’s falling. Real incomes are shrinking. And 80% of people live paycheck to paycheck. By all means — elect someone not quite so terrible as Trump. It might mitigate those, but it’s not going to magically alter the downwards trajectory. The American future is a grim choice between a return to yesterday’s slow collapse and the continuation of today’s light-speed implosion — probably not anything remotely like Europe or Canada’s gentle, hopeful upwards trend in quality of life. …’
Source: Eudaimonia and Co
Larval blacklegged or deer tick, Ixodes scapularis, the species that spreads Lyme disease in the U.S.
’…[A] recent report released by the lab testing company Quest Diagnostics …suggests that not only have cases of the tick-borne Lyme disease substantially risen in the past few years, they’re happening in all 50 states.…’
The Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) has now been spotted in seven states, mostly along the East Coast, the New York Times reported Monday.
’Like many species of tick, the Asian longhorned tick can carry disease-causing pathogens, including bacteria that resemble those that cause Lyme disease in the U.S., the Powassan virus, and the parasite responsible for babesiosis, an infection that goes after red blood cells. In Eastern Asia, the tick is thought to spread a virus that causes an emerging disease known as severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS). People with SFTS have abnormally low platelet levels and can rapidly suffer organ failure. The mortality rate of SFTS can reach as high as 30 percent.
At this point, though, none of the longhorned ticks tested by the CDC have been found to carry any germs themselves. It’s also possible that SFTS might not be a danger that people in the U.S. have to worry about. The disease hasn’t been spotted in other areas of the world where longhorned ticks have invaded, such as Australia and New Zealand, indicating that it might take unique conditions for it to be transmittable to people.…’
New Washington Post study :
’Although standing with Trump may pay off in primary contests where strong Republicans are more likely to turn out, GOP congressional candidates may suffer for this alliance in the midterms, when more moderate Republicans and independents could be the difference between victory and defeat.…’
’It’s more than 12 times the size of the biggest planet in our solar system, Jupiter, has a magnetic field 200 times more powerful, and lives 20 light years outside of our solar system. Yet unlike Jupiter, it has no parent star around which it orbits.
So what is it?
It’s a rogue planet. The newly discovered planet was found drifting alone – no host star in sight – with a glowing aurora that has left scientists with questions.
A study published in the Astrophysical Journal last week evaluated this floating mass in more detail; and although it was discovered in 2016, up until now it was thought to be a brown dwarf, a failed star dimmer than a red dwarf star but larger than the largest gas giants. . Yet this particular , object turned out ot be younger and less massive than scientists originally thought, which opened the door to the revelation that this cold, wandering sphere may, in fact, be a planet instead.…’
’Given their current popularity, you might assume that probiotics—capsules containing a mix of “good” bacteria that are said to rebalance our gut’s bacterial content—would be perfectly harmless. But a team of gastroenterologists from Augusta University in Georgia is challenging that assumption. Their recent study is the latest to suggest some people who take probiotics can develop a strange collection of symptoms, including gas, diarrhea, and “brain fog.”…’
’If you travel frequently and have a stash of miles you haven’t used yet, consider donating them to an organization that can use them to reunite families separated at the U.S.-Mexican border.
Beth Wilensky, a professor at University of Michigan’s law school, tweeted the idea last night, and is encouraging people to get in touch with organizations like Michigan Support Circle and Miles4Migrants.
Michigan Support Circle says it uses the miles to either bring parents to their children, or to unite parent and child with other relatives. You can register your miles here. The organization is requesting money to help pay for school supplies for children whose parents have been detained by ICE.…’
’One of the best—if not THE best—meteor showers of the year is about to kick into high gear, and the timing is perfect; with the new moon occurring at exactly the same time as the Perseid meteor shower, this show could be spectacular at 60-70 meteors per hour and sometimes double or even triple that.…’
Via Big Think
The Hiroshima anniversary:
’Seventy-three years after the first use of the atomic bomb in wartime, commitment to arms control is fading.…’
Japanese Students Recreate Hiroshima Bombing in VR:
’Over two years, a group of Japanese high school students has been painstakingly producing a five-minute virtual reality experience that recreates the sights and sounds of Hiroshima before, during and after the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city 73 years ago Monday.
By transporting users back in time to the moment when a city was turned into a wasteland, the students and their teacher hope to ensure that something similar never happens again.…’
How Donald Trump hacked the media:
’In his classic 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman wrote of the difference between George Orwell’s and Aldous Huxley’s visions of fascism.
“Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information,” wrote Postman. “Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.”
Postman’s warning rang out in a different era. He worried over the rise of television, not Twitter; he was reacting to Ronald Reagan, not Donald Trump. And yet the facts of our age are more absurd and insulting than anything Postman prophesied.
The point of Amusing Ourselves to Death is that societies are molded by the technologies atop which they communicate. Oral cultures teach us to be conversational, typographic cultures teach us to be logical, televised cultures teach us that everything is entertainment. So what is social media culture teaching us?…’
’F Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote: “There are no second acts in American lives.” It might have been a blessing for Rudy Giuliani if that were really true.…’
Via The Guardian
‘If 2006 and 2010 patterns hold, a Democratic midterm wave could appear late in the day as vulnerable GOP House seats become targets.
…A lot of seats that wound up falling weren’t even on the radar a few months earlier. Right now, Cook has 34 Republican-held House seats looking very vulnerable (3 are likely Democratic, 7 lean Democratic, and 24 are toss-ups). But the landscape could get much bluer in a hurry.
What would account for this kind of late trend? In 2006 and 2010 it was not, interestingly enough, any deterioration of the president’s own approval ratings. So Donald Trump’s exceptionally stable approval ratings won’t necessarily serve to limit his party’s losses in the House. Late trends could also reflect intensifying excitement over an approaching win for the “out” party…’
‘Sometimes thinking is a bad idea. Ian Leslie draws on Dylan, Djokovic and academic research to put the case for unthinking…’
Jack Nicas writes:
‘Google Maps has now become the primary arbiter of place names. With decisions made by a few Google cartographers, the identity of a city, town or neighborhood can be reshaped, illustrating the outsize influence that Silicon Valley increasingly has in the real world.
…[But how] Google arrives at its names in maps is often mysterious. The company declined to detail how some place names came about, though some appear to have resulted from mistakes by researchers, rebrandings by real estate agents — or just outright fiction…’
Source: New York Times
Church’s support for abolition of the death penalty will be par of the Catholic Catechism:
‘Pope Francis has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases “because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,” the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a major shift in Roman Catholic teaching on the issue.
Francis, who has spoken out against capital punishment before — including in 2015 in an address to Congress — added the change to the Catechism of the Catholic Church — the compendium of Catholic beliefs.
He said the church would work “with determination” for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.
Previously, the catechism allowed the death penalty in some cases, if it was “the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor,” even if in reality “cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender today are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”…’
Via New York Times
‘From cybersecurity issues to administrative problems to a legal drama over a possible citizenship question, there are plenty of reasons to worry about the decennial head count….’
Via The Atlantic
Jason Weinberger on Boing Boing:
‘A quick registration at Donate Life can turn hunks of your soulless cadaver into the greatest gift you’ll ever give.
In 2006 a heart donor gave my Uncle, Lee Krinsky, 12 more years of life. I can not tell you how much those 12 years meant to Lee, his wife Karen, our entire family, and a large community of people who loved him.
My Uncle Lee was the kind of Uncle who was always full of shit. As a kid it was great fun to listen to him tell stories. As an adult it was great fun to smoke a joint with him, and listen to him tell wild stories. One of the best was the story of his transplanted heart. Nothing about being a transplant recipient is easy, but Lee was always grateful, and knew he was living on gifted time. He had worn his old heart out.
You can line up to give that gift to someone else. Be it restoring vision, kidneys, liver or a beating heart — any parts you aren’t using any more are spare. As my Uncle Lee would say “Be a mensch” and sign up….’
A literary agent on why your good story isn’t likely to be a bestseller.
‘Has anyone ever said you should write a book? Maybe extraordinary things have happened to you, and they say you should write a memoir. Or you have an extremely vivid imagination, and they say you should write a novel. Maybe your kids are endlessly entertained at bedtime, and they say you should write a children’s book. Perhaps you just know how everything should be and imagine your essay collection will set the world straight. Everyone has a book in them, right? I hate to break it to you but everyone does not, in fact, have a book in them….’
Via The Outline
‘Scientists have identified a new shape called the scutoid, a discovery that helps explain how cells arrange themselves in tightly packed three-dimensional structures that serve as protective barriers in the body.
The shape was discovered while a team of researchers was studying epithelial cells, which are the safety shields of the body that make up the cell walls lining our blood vessels and organs. As tissues and organs develop, epithelial cells squish together, twisting and turning into highly efficient and complex three-dimensional structures that help block microbes from entering our skin or organs.
But the shape of these cell structures has long been a mystery to scientists. Some have proposed they were shaped like prisms or cylinders, but a new paper published in Nature shows how scientists used computer modeling and imaging to settle the question once and for all….’
Via Big Think
Cohl Furey, a mathematical physicist at the University of Cambridge, is finding links between the Standard Model of particle physics and the octonions, numbers whose multiplication rules are encoded in a triangular diagram called the Fano plane.
‘Water hiding 1.6km below Mars’ south pole will be hard to reach. But when we do, we may finally find out if there’s life on the planet…’
Via Wired UK
Frozen earthworm revived after 42,000 years in the permafrost / Boing Boing
‘Siberian roundworms frozen for millennia were thawed and are happily going about their business again, reports The Siberian Times.
One worm came from an ancient squirrel burrow in a permafrost wall of the Duvanny Yar outcrop in the lower reaches of the Kolyma River – close to the site of Pleistocene Park which is seeking to recreate the Arctic habitat of the extinct woolly mammoth, according to the scientific article published in Doklady Biological Sciences this week.
This is around 32,000 years old.
Another was found in permafrost near Alazeya River in 2015, and is around 41,700 years old….’
Via Boing Boing
‘When you think about fearsome predators in the ocean, the first thing that pops into your mind is probably a shark. Sure, sharks are OK, with their sleek, menacing shape and their gaping jaws with rows of jagged teeth. But if you were a fish living on a coral reef or cruising along the shore over the sands of a tropical island, you would fear a far more terrifying predator….’
Via The Conversation
‘Earlier this month, the non-profit Forecast Foundation launched its Augur protocol on the Ethereum network in a bid to create the first blockchain-based betting platform. Now, Augur is hosting several wagers where users bet on when a public figure will die, with a pot of digital money going to whoever makes the correct guess. This type of betting is referred to as an “assassination market” because it arguably incentivizes someone to guarantee a win by offing the person themselves.
On the Augur marketplace, Motherboard found open bets on the deaths of a number of public figures, including Betty White, Donald Trump, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett. Other events were also bet on as well, such as whether SpaceX will complete a crewed flight beyond Earth orbit this year. Most of these betting pools had few or no bets on the books at the time of writing, but some betting pools, including one predicting Donald Trump’s death this year, had dozens of trades.
These prediction pools are called assassination markets because they arguably incentivize bettors to make their predictions come true by taking matters into their own hands. Cryptoanarchist Jim Bell introduced the concept in a paper called “Assassination Politics” in the mid-1990s. Bell imagined that the anonymity afforded by modern encryption techniques and the advent of digital money would allow for political assassinations to be incentivized and carried out anonymously.
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have arguably created a perfect environment for Bell’s assassination politics to take shape….’
‘It feels like it was only a matter of time before Robert Mueller started investigating Donald Trump’s tweets. And it seems that time has come. The New York Times reports that the special counsel “is scrutinizing tweets and negative statements” from the president about James Comey and Jeff Sessions. Specifically, Mueller reportedly wants to know if Trump’s behavior adds up to obstruction of justice. Boy, there sure are a lot of tweets, too.
The Times report cites three anonymous sources who claim that Mueller is turning to Trump’s relentless remarks about Comey and Sessions, specifically those that relate to the investigation into Russian meddling into the 2016 election. Some of these statements could represent a pattern of intimidating witnesses and pressuring high level officials to stop investigating….’
‘Climate change is a public health crisis from its impacts on air quality to wiping out the healthcare systems we need to stave off sickness. Even the air conditioning we’ll need to beat the heat is likely to make things worse.
A new study published Monday in Nature Climate Change adds to the growing list of climate-related health threats, concluding that rising temperatures are likely to cause more suicides. The study showed that the increased heat could lead to as many as 40,000 additional suicides in the U.S. and Mexico by 2050 if global carbon emissions continue on their current trajectory….’
The signs are easy to see. Just three bullet points revealed by a casual perusal of today’s news:
‘The evidence just keeps piling up: Democrats are in a good position to take the House in the 2018 midterm elections. …’
‘Supervolcanoes sound terrifying, but the risks they pose don’t usually match their fearsome reputations. Yellowstone in particular often makes its way into headlines, as every earthquake swarm or change in geyser activity spawns unfounded rumors of an apocalyptic eruption.
However, ask a volcanologist where the real risk in the U.S. lurks, and there’s a good chance that they will turn their gaze to the Pacific Northwest.
Nestled among the Cascade mountain range sits Mount Rainier, a postcard-perfect natural wonder—and a volcano that causes scientists genuine concern. It’s unclear when it will stir from its long slumber, and there’s no sign that anything is imminent. Nevertheless, a future eruption could cause one of the worst natural disasters in the U.S. …’
Source: National Geographic
Manisha Sinha, Draper Chair in American History at the University of Connecticut, writes:
‘ Donald Trump likes to compare himself to Andrew Jackson, but the Andrew he really resembles is Andrew Johnson. What they have in common are delusions of personal grandeur and a tainted ascent to the presidency. Trump was elected by a minority of the American electorate, with help from the vagaries of the Electoral College system and from considerable Russian interference.
Johnson became president thanks to an assassin’s bullet. While Johnson immodestly compared himself to Jesus and Moses, Trump claims he is the best at everything, even boasting recently on Twitter that his popularity among Republicans exceeds that of Abraham Lincoln.
Indeed, pundits have likened today’s partisan divisions to those of the Civil War era. But they more closely resemble the politics of Reconstruction, the period after the war when for the first time in history, an American president, Johnson, was impeached by the House of Representatives…’
‘Renowned environmentalist and chimpanzee buddy Jane Goodall has her fingers crossed: she’s entered the lottery to win the right to kill a grizzly bear in the area of Yellowstone Park. That Wyoming’s allowing the bears to be hunted is a big deal. There’s been a moratorium on taking down a grizzly bear in Wyoming for the past 44 years. This year, the state is allowing 22 of them to be killed by hunters.
But, instead of taking down a furry behemoth so that she might eat its steaming heart to celebrate her kill, Goodall, and a growing number of other people, have a better idea of what to do if they win the right to shoot a grizzly: they’re advocating that folks take that shot with a camera instead of a gun.
Shoot ‘em With A Camera is a guerrilla campaign to undermine Wyoming’s bear hunt lottery system. The premise is simple: Apply to the bear hunt lottery for your chance to kill a magnificent creature. Then, should you win, instead of heading to the hills with a rifle, you head out with a camera. It’s a cheeky campaign and according to National Geographic, its gaining momentum, quickly….’
Via Boing Boing
‘Is this art or is the matrix simulation of our society finally breaking down?…’
Century’s longest lunar eclipse:
‘The longest lunar eclipse of the century will be an incredible sight for a good part of the world, and the penumbra and umbra (partial and total eclipse) will be cast to mostly the Middle East, south and eastern Africa, western and southeast Asia, and finally India.
It happens when Earth casts its shadow onto the lunar surface as it passes between the sun and moon.
Alas, none of it will be visible in North America. You can, however, watch it as it happens, online at several locations: TimeAndDate.com has one, as does the Virtual Telescope Project….’
Via Big Think
The Trump-Putin Summit and the Death of American Foreign Policy
‘We are witnessing nothing less than the breakdown of American foreign policy. This week’s extraordinary confusion over even the basic details of the Helsinki summit shows that all too clearly. We may not yet know what exactly Trump agreed to with Putin, or even if they agreed to anything at all; perhaps, it will turn out, Putin and his advisers have sprung another clever disinformation trap on Trump, misleading the world about their private meeting because a novice American President gave them an opening to do so. But, even if we don’t know the full extent of what was said and done behind closed doors in Helsinki, here’s what we already do know as a result of the summit: America’s government is divided from its President on Russia; its process for orderly decision-making, or even basic communication, has disintegrated; and its ability to lead an alliance in Europe whose main mission in recent years has been to counter and contain renewed Russian aggression has been seriously called into question….’
Susan Glasser in The New Yorker
‘Trump and his political action committee spent $274,000 on ads on the social network since early May, outpacing the second-biggest spender, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood spent just over $188,000 on Facebook ads over the same period.
The ads bought by Mr. Trump and his PAC were also seen the most by Facebook’s users, having been viewed by at least 37 million people since May. That compared with 24 million people who saw the second-most viewed group of political ads, which were also from Planned Parenthood.
…Facebook now requires buyers of political ads on its network to be verified as United States citizens or permanent residents, to cut down on foreign interference. That means Facebook’s political ad archive largely provides a portrait of domestic activity, spotlighting both the digital ad buying of Democratic and Republican elected officials and political candidates, as well as nonprofit organizations, for-profit groups and PACs. The archive also shows how much these ads were actually consumed by the social network’s users….’
Via New York Times
‘A new study finds that the scent of coffee alone helped students perform better on the analytical portion of the Graduate Management Aptitude Test, or GMAT, a computer adaptive test required by many business schools. It also increased the participants’ expectations that they would do well on the test.
The findings are published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.
“It’s not just that the coffee-like scent helped people perform better on analytical tasks, which was already interesting. But they also thought they would do better, and we demonstrated that this expectation was at least partly responsible for their improved performance,” said study leader Dr. Adriana Madzharov, a professor at Stevens School of Business.
In short, smelling the scent of coffee, which has no caffeine in it, has an effect similar to that of drinking coffee…’
Via Psych Central
Garrett Graff on how Rob Rosenstein’s behavior is informed by knowing what Mueller knows and where his investigation will lead:
‘Why would anyone put up with the abuse, vitriol, and daily haranguing from the president’s Twitter account that Rosenstein has endured? Why would Rosenstein seemingly set precedents that undermine the core principles of the Justice Department, an institution that he’s devoted nearly his entire career to serving?
…In a world of hedgehogs and foxes, Rosenstein today is the ultimate hedgehog.
Rosenstein knows one very big, monumental, history-shaping thing—how Trump’s presidency will end—and he’s wagered that if he can hang on long enough, justice will be done and the good guys, in his eyes, will win. His early actions, around Comey’s firing, will be vindicated by history when seen by the light of his bravery and personal sacrifice and refusal to be bullied into quitting, a move that would almost surely lead to Mueller’s investigation being shut down or circumscribed by whichever Trump appointee takes over supervising it next….’
‘Today, in Helsinki, the president of the United States held a friendly meeting with the Russian leader who sabotaged an American election on his behalf, and who has been rewarded by seeing American foreign policy pivot in a pro-Russian direction….’
‘They consider him a stupid, unstrategic politician….’
‘White House aides want you to believe the president stands with Putin because he doesn’t get what’s going on….’
‘John Brennan: “Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin.”…’
‘Yes, this is about the “pee tape.”…’
Lucian K. Truscott IV writes that Mueller’s indictment of twelve Russian intelligence agents offers Prof Paige that the Kremlin stole the election for the Orange Menace:
‘It’s all right there in the indictment — day by day, hack by hack, theft by theft — how agents of the Russian intelligence service, the GRU, set out in the spring of 2016 to steal the election for Donald Trump. When you track the actions taken by Russian intelligence in the indictment with statements made by Trump and actions taken on his behalf by members of his campaign, the picture is as clear as an iPhone photo. Agents of the Russian government coordinated with members of the Trump campaign and took cues from Trump himself in order to influence the election of 2016…’
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‘You’re looking at the center of our galactic home, the Milky Way, as imaged by 64 radio telescopes in the South African wilderness.
Scientists released this image today to inaugurate the completed MeerKAT radio telescope. But these scopes form part of an even more ambitious project: the Square Kilometer Array, a joint effort to build the world’s largest telescope, spanning the continents of Africa and Australia.
This image shows filaments of particles, structures that seem to exist in alignment with the galaxy’s central black hole. It’s unclear what causes these filaments. Maybe they are particles ejected by the spinning black hole; maybe they are hypothesized “cosmic strings;” and maybe they’re not unique, and there are other, similar structures waiting to be found, according to a 2017 release from Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics….’
Abortion, family separation, and how the Trump administration uses female pain as punishment.
‘The Trump administration’s policies on family separation and abortion are driven by one view: A woman’s pain is fitting punishment….’
‘In the city of Seattle, Washington there exists a vending machine that over the years has become something of a local landmark amongst residents who are familiar with its mysterious history. Situated on the corner the John Street and 10th Avenue East in the bustling Capitol Hill neighbourhood, the seemingly ancient machine is well known for dispensing random, sometimes rare, cans of soda- a fact that’s made all the more intriguing when you consider that nobody seems to know who stocks the machine or where it came from….’
A neurotoxicologist explains:
‘Novichok has been implicated in the poisoning of two couples in Great Britain, causing the death of one woman. The chemical structures of Novichok agents are not known for sure, but they bind more tightly and rapidly to their enzyme target, called acetylcholinesterase, found in nerves and muscle cells than other nerve poisons such as sarin or tabun. This causes death within minutes by making normal nerve-muscle, nerve-gland, and nerve-heart function impossible.
The deaths have been attributed to Russia, either the country’s intelligence service or a rogue who obtained them illegally. Russia vehemently denies either involvement in the poisonings or development of the Novichok chemicals.
How long these chemical stay active is unknown, largely because they were developed illegally and in secret by Soviet and later Russian chemists as part of a program entitled “Foliant” designed to skirt the guidelines of the Chemical Weapons Convention signed with the United States, and to elude detection by weapons inspectors, according to a classified Pentagon report originally made public by The Washington Times. An article from the BBC speculates that the agent used in the Wiltshire poisonings in Britain could remain active for as long as 50 years.
Several factors make Novichok especially sinister.
First, the chemicals are reported by Soviet chemists to be the most potent agents ever made, with potency between 6-10 times higher than VX, the chemical used to kill the half brother of Kim Jong-Un, or sarin, the prototypical poisonous nerve gas the Iraqi government allegedly used in 1989, and which was used Syria last April. Thus extremely low doses, powder or liquid, the exact concentration of which remains unknown, are lethal.
More disturbing, especially for those living near the poisonings in Britain, is that the Novichok agents were designed to be undetectable by NATO chemical warfare detection methods, and to circumvent any NATO protective gear. This would allow them to be used with impunity by the Soviet Union (or Russia), against NATO troops. Professor Gary Stephens, quoted in the BBC News, concurred that the Novichok agents would be extremely difficult to detect. It would be equally difficult to clean up, because exactly which of the Novichok chemicals was used cannot be definitively determined.
Though Novichok agents have never yet been used on a battlefield, their sole purpose is for chemical warfare. Their mission: kill rapidly, silently and undetectably. Apparently, as seen in Britain, these chemists succeeded in their mission….’
Via The Conversation
Donald Trump, due to arrive in the UK later today, is a racist, a serial liar, and either a sex abuser or someone who falsely brags about being one in the apparent belief that this will impress other men in a metaphorical “locker room”.
To take each of these charges in turn, when black American football players protested against police shootings of innocent people of colour by refusing to stand for the national anthem, Trump said the players “maybe … shouldn’t be in the country”.
And when white supremacists, neo-Nazis and armed militia groups demonstrated in Charlottesville, Virginia, over plans to remove a statue of a Confederate general – and a counter-protester was killed and others injured as a car was driven deliberately into them – Mr Trump claimed there were “very fine people” on both sides.
Trump persistently pushed the lie that Barack Obama, the first African American president, was not born in the US.
He has called for “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”, claimed Mexican immigrants were rapists and criminals, said Nigerians would never go back to “their huts” after seeing the US and described African countries, along with El Salvador and Haiti, as “s***holes”.
Trump also argued that an Indiana-born judge handling a lawsuit against ‘Trump University’ was biased against him and unfit to take the case because he was a “Mexican”.
One of Trump’s favourite pastimes is decrying “fake news”.
But, according to one count by The Washington Post, the president lies an average of 6.5 times a day. The New York Times has also tried to make a definitive list of his numerous falsehoods.
In May, Rex Tillerson, sacked as US Secretary of State in a Trump tweet, warned: “If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.”
Before his presidency, Trump was recorded saying he was able to grope women whenever he liked because “when you’re a star they let you do it”.
When the tape emerged, Trump said his boast was untrue and just “locker room” talk. And when several women came forward to say he had done this to them, he insisted they were lying.
So, as British politicians hide their distaste in an attempt to get a much-needed post-Brexit trade deal, we should all remember what kind of man Trump really is.
Via The Scotsman
Writer Adam O’Fallon Price riffs on Kurt Vonnegut’s famous admonition against the use of semicolons. Vonnegut felt they are useless for any purpose except demonstrating pretension. Although Price concedes that, strictly speaking, one can make do with commas and periods instead — or, as he favors, the em-dash — he feels that semi-colons serve the useful purpose of connecting two related (“Independent but interdependent”) thoughts, maintaining more “cognitive rhythm” than if they were expressed as discrete sentences.
The peak usage of the semicolon came between the mid-18th to the late-19th centuries, perhaps unsurprisingly as writing during that era involved long and elaborate sentences that feel too ornate to modern readers. Writers like Melville and Proust seemed to see as a virtue of the semicolon the ability to keep a sentence going. The modern shift toward shorter sentences and economy of storytelling (the “tautness” and “spareness” of prose almost universally touted as virtues by critics), and increasing brevity of personal communication, makes an outlier of anyone with an affection for the semicolon today.
Via The Millions
I think my writing, especially the clinical notes I write in my psychiatric work, has a higher incidence of semicolons than almost anyone else I know. So am I archaic? Unskilled at clarity and simplicity in my prose? Burdened by tortured complexity? Or merely pretentious? Or do my semicolons help?
Jan Willis is professor emerita of religion at Wesleyan University and a visiting professor at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia. She has studied Buddhism with Tibetan teachers for more than forty years and is the author of the memoir Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist, and Buddhist:
‘Being pacifist is not the same as being passive, and being inspired by Buddhist wisdom does not mean that we close our minds and eyes to the rapid changes occurring around us in our society. Whenever anyone proposes to single out any specific category of people—whether by race, or gender, sexual orientation, or religious faith—and to propose a curb on those people’s freedom, that is the beginning of the end of an equitable democracy and the beginning of the slow slide into a loss of freedom for all. To ignore this fact is to deny many of the darkest moments of our history as human beings. On the other hand, a slow but growing acceptance of this state of affairs as being “normal” dooms everyone. It is necessary, therefore, that we keep our eyes opened.
What do we need to do in such dangerous and not-normal times? We need to be vigilant. We need to not normalize what is happening. And we need to not lose hope. If hope seems absent or lacking, we must act to bring it back. In fact, acting, I believe, is the only way to bring hope back. With hope, we can see ourselves as, once again, citizens; as ones with a rightful share in this country, its progress and its stewardship….’
Via Lion’s Roar
The brains of jazz and classical pianists work differently:
A musician’s brain is different to that of a non-musician. Making music requires a complex interplay of various abilities which are also reflected in more strongly developed brain structures. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig have recently discovered that these capabilities are embedded in a much more finely-tuned way than previously assumed—and even differ depending on the style of the music: They observed that the brain activity of jazz pianists differs from those of classical pianists, even when playing the same piece of music. This could give insight into the processes which generally take place while making music and which are specific for certain styles….’
Bill Bradley writes:
‘To understand this saga, you need to go back to January 2017, when The Washington Post reported that Trump had revealed his new campaign.
“‘Keep America Great,’ exclamation point,” he told the paper, seemingly off the cuff.
According to the Post, Trump called a lawyer in during the interview to trademark and register two different “Keep America Great” slogans ― one with an exclamation point and one without ― on the spot. “Got it,” the lawyer replied, and business seemed to be handled.
The only problem? Apparently unbeknownst to Trump, his lawyer and The Washington Post, the slogan had already appeared in a poignantly titled 2016 horror movie: “The Purge: Election Year.” By using “Keep America Great” in its promotional materials, “Purge: Election Year” ― which, like its franchise predecessors, centers on the one night a year when people can legally murder the hell out of each other as an act of radical catharsis ― seemingly mocked Trump’s “Make America Great Again” phrase, effectively likening Trump’s America to its cinematic nightmare.
Two years later, Trump’s re-election campaign is actually trying to use “Keep America Great” itself, even though the horror movie connection went comically viral soon after the Washington Post interview. …’
Cal Newport, Deep Work author, writes:
‘The idea of purposefully introducing into my life a service designed to fragment my attention is as scary to me as the idea of smoking would be to an endurance athlete, and it should be to you if you’re serious about creating things that matter. …’
Austrian writer Stefan Zweig fled Nazism, eventually taking his life in despair and loneliness. His biographer, George Prochnik, writes:
‘I wonder how far along the scale of moral degeneration Zweig would judge America to be in its current state. We have a magnetic leader, one who lies continually and remorselessly—not pathologically but strategically, to placate his opponents, to inflame the furies of his core constituency, and to foment chaos. The American people are confused and benumbed by a flood of fake news and misinformation. Reading in Zweig’s memoir how, during the years of Hitler’s rise to power, many well-meaning people “could not or did not wish to perceive that a new technique of conscious cynical amorality was at work,” it’s difficult not to think of our own present predicament. Last week, as Trump signed a drastic immigration ban that led to an outcry across the country and the world, then sought to mitigate those protests by small palliative measures and denials, I thought of one other crucial technique that Zweig identified in Hitler and his ministers: they introduced their most extreme measures gradually—strategically—in order to gauge how each new outrage was received. “Only a single pill at a time and then a moment of waiting to observe the effect of its strength, to see whether the world conscience would still digest the dose,” Zweig wrote. “The doses became progressively stronger until all Europe finally perished from them.”
And still Zweig might have noted that, as of today, President Trump and his sinister “wire-pullers” have not yet locked the protocols for their exercise of power into place. One tragic lesson offered by “The World of Yesterday” is that, even in a culture where misinformation has become omnipresent, where an angry base, supported by disparate, well-heeled interests, feels empowered by the relentless lying of a charismatic leader, the center might still hold. In Zweig’s view, the final toxin needed to precipitate German catastrophe came in February of 1933, with the burning of the national parliament building in Berlin–an arson attack Hitler blamed on the Communists but which some historians still believe was carried out by the Nazis themselves. “At one blow all of justice in Germany was smashed,” Zweig recalled. The destruction of a symbolic edifice—a blaze that caused no loss of life—became the pretext for the government to begin terrorizing its own civilian population. That fateful conflagration took place less than thirty days after Hitler became Chancellor. The excruciating power of Zweig’s memoir lies in the pain of looking back and seeing that there was a small window in which it was possible to act, and then discovering how suddenly and irrevocably that window can be slammed shut. …’
Source: The New Yorker
Prof. Gregory Stanton, of the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, writes of the ten predictable and recognizable stages in the development of genocide in any society, listing preventive measures that can stop it at every stage.Source: Genocide Watch (via kottke).
The ACLU needs your help now more than ever before.
Mitch Horowitz in Medium on why it’s more nuanced, more meaningful and less literal than you think.
Christine Calder writes:
‘You know the feeling. It’s impossible to resist. You just need to yawn….’
Source: The Conversation
Daniel Cole (professor of law and public and environmental affairs at Indiana University in Bloomington) and Aurelian Craiutu (professor of political science and adjunct professor of American studies at Indiana University in Bloomington):
‘Scholars and statesmen have been declaring liberalism dead or in deep crisis for at least a century and a half. A review of the many deaths of liberalism might have something to teach us about what, in fact, is happening in the world today….’
‘Active-duty and retired U.S. military officers and enlisted personnel are
expressing a sense of moral emergency over the Defense Department setting up detention camps for undocumented immigrants on military bases.
“It smacks of totalitarianism,” said Steve Kleinman, a retired Air Force colonel and military intelligence officer.
Raf Noboa, an Iraq War veteran and former Army sergeant, said he was astounded by the “enormous moral offense” the camps represent and which the military will be ordered to support.
“America’s military once liberated people from concentration camps,” Noboa told The Daily Beast. “It beggars the mind and our morality that it might be used to secure them.”…’
Via Daily Beast
‘Some supplements or vitamins may very well help you. The problem with multivitamins is the same with probiotics: loading your body up with a bit of everything is not only often ineffective, but dangerous. If you don’t know what your body is deficient of—the same holds true with your microbiome, hence probiotics—taking these pills, oils, and tinctures are only helping companies profit while potentially harming you in the process….’
Via Big Think
‘One of the possible roadblocks to discovering extraterrestrial life is that it may be so different we might not recognize it. As recently retired astronaut and biochemist Peggy Whitson put it, “it’s not necessarily going to look the same as us, or be based on the same principles.” We’re so used to the lifeforms on Earth—mind-bogglingly varied as they may be—that it’s difficult for us to imagine beings completely out of our frame of reference, more specifically beyond our senses. Beings made of light or mist, or some kind of matter we can’t see; there’s no end to the possibilities. As we hunt for other life, our limited imaginations amount to an unavoidable form of prejudice that could doom the search. Mindful of this, and to help us practice being more open-minded, experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats is about to reveal, in San Francisco, music for aliens who don’t hear. At least as we do. He calls it Omniphonics. He’s even composed a “Universal Anthem” for us to play together with our new acquaintances….’
Via Big Think
‘Consciousness: Where is it? What is it? No one single perspective seems to be able to answer all the questions we have about consciousness. Now Bernardo Kastrup thinks he’s found one. He calls his ontology idealism, and according to idealism, all of us and all we perceive are manifestations of something very much like a cosmic-scale dissociative identity disorder (DID). He suggests there’s an all-encompassing universe-wide consciousness, it has multiple personalities, and we’re them….’
Via Big Think
‘Twenty-two psychiatrists and psychologists, including some of the field’s most prominent thinkers, are calling on the American Psychiatric Association on Thursday to substantially revise its controversial Goldwater rule, which bars APA members from offering their views of a public figure’s apparent psychological traits or mental status.
In a letter to be delivered to the APA, Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, one of the world’s leading experts on the psychological effects of war and political violence; Philip Zimbardo of the “Stanford prison experiment”; violence expert Dr. James Gilligan; and their colleagues argued that the Goldwater rule, which the APA adopted in 1973, deprives the public of expert opinion on crucial questions, such as the mental health and stability of elected officials.
While the policy holds that it would be unethical for mental heath professionals to offer their opinions on anyone they have not examined, the letter’s signers argue it would be unethical to withhold their views. Psychiatrists and psychologists, they contend, have “an affirmative responsibility” to publicly discuss “mental health issues discerned in public figures” when they pose “a clear and present danger to the public’s health and well-being.” …’
1986 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech:
‘I remember: it happened yesterday or eternities ago. A young Jewish boy discovered the kingdom of night. I remember his bewilderment, I remember his anguish. It all happened so fast. The ghetto. The deportation. The sealed cattle car. The fiery altar upon which the history of our people and the future of mankind were meant to be sacrificed.
I remember: he asked his father: “Can this be true?” This is the twentieth century, not the Middle Ages. Who would allow such crimes to be committed? How could the world remain silent?
And now the boy is turning to me: “Tell me,” he asks. “What have you done with my future? What have you done with your life?”
And I tell him that I have tried. That I have tried to keep memory alive, that I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices. And then I explained to him how naïve we were, that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.
We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must — at that moment — become the center of the universe…’
Heard about ASMR? Have you experienced it?
‘Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is the sensation experienced by some individuals in response to specific sights and soft sounds, such as whispering, tapping or slow hand movements.
These feelings are described as a warm, tingling and pleasant sensation starting at the crown of the head and spreading down the body. The “tingles” are sometimes described as “brain tingles” or “brain orgasms.” They are typically accompanied by feelings of calm and relaxation.
There are more than 13 million ASMR videos on YouTube — including medical examinations, haircuts and massages and folding towel tutorials — which people view to relax, relieve stress or sleep better. Still, research on ASMR has been limited….’
Via Psych Central
‘…[W]hat I find … ominous is how seldom, today, we see the phrase “the 22nd century.” Almost never. Compare this with the frequency with which the 21st century was evoked in popular culture during, say, the 1920s. …’
‘Who can be serene in a country where both the rulers and the ruled are without principle? The remembrance of my country spoils my walk. My thoughts are murder to the State, and involuntarily go plotting against her. …’
Via Austin Kleon
Paul Krugman writes:
‘The speed of America’s moral descent under Donald Trump is breathtaking. In a matter of months we’ve gone from a nation that stood for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to a nation that tears children from their parents and puts them in cages.
What’s almost equally remarkable about this plunge into barbarism is that it’s not a response to any actual problem. The mass influx of murderers and rapists that Trump talks about, the wave of crime committed by immigrants here (and, in his mind, refugees in Germany), are things that simply aren’t happening. They’re just sick fantasies being used to justify real atrocities.
And you know what this reminds me of? The history of anti-Semitism, a tale of prejudice fueled by myths and hoaxes that ended in genocide. …’
Source: New York Times op-ed
The Gorilla, Who Used Sign Language and Befriended Mr. Rogers, Dies at 46:
It’s never been trickier to be the president’s son:
‘All he ever wanted was to make his dad proud, but things have never turned out quite right for Donald Trump Jr. Even now, despite finding his purpose as a bombastic star of the far right, Junior’s personal life is in shambles and the specter of Robert Mueller looms large….’
Brain battle between distrust and reward:
‘At the most fundamental level of biology, people recognize the innate advantage of defining differences in species. But even within species, is there something in our neural circuits that leads us to find comfort in those like us and unease with those who may differ?…’
Via The Conversation