Dylann Roof’s racist manifesto as mainstream?

Via Salon.com: ‘Half of it is nuts, and about half of it could come from a more-or-less mainstream racist politician of the Jesse Helms or Lee Atwater school.

It gives the lie to the ruling conservative meme that Roof was just a loan wacko with no affinities with the white-militia movement that the respectable right has tried to keep offstage. It also shows how the accused killer of nine in a Charleston church has roots in weird ideas that are part of even the think-tank culture of the right: Roof’s manifesto is a kind of distorted, funhouse-mirror reflection of Tea Party-era conservative white America’s core beliefs, and it shares the ahistorical way many conservatives deal with race….’


Sleep Paralysis: In the Style of Demons

Via Motherboard: ‘Your body is capable of simulating suffocation in one highly bizarre and accidental circumstance known usually as sleep paralysis. It’s a sensation-slash-circumstance potent enough to generate enough folklore throughout human history to fill volumes, most of it gravitating towards the victim being tortured by witches or demons. In a human history full of flayings, scaphism, and other wildly creative ways to induce misery in others, sleep paralysis remains even beyond our reach: the realm of demons.

For whatever reason, the witch or demon left me alone for about 10 years. Between 2000 and 2003, they were after me every night, sometimes several times before morning, and I thought for sure that eventually I’d wake up once just in time to die for real. The distance between what sleep paralysis felt like most times and actual death felt to be about three or four heartbeats and one terrifyingly labored breath. Although that’s not totally accurate.

The distance often didn’t feel like anything at all. Sleep paralysis itself feels like just-death or the crux of the dying process, or what you might imagine it to feel like when you’re being afraid of dying….’


Nina Simone’s Time Is Now, Again

Via NYTimes ‘The feminist writer Germaine Greer once declared: “Every generation has to discover Nina Simone. She is evidence that female genius is real.” This year, that just might happen for good.

Nina Simone is striking posthumous gold as the inspiration for three films and a star-studded tribute album, and she was name-dropped in John Legend’s Oscar acceptance speech for best song. This flurry comes on the heels of a decade-long resurgence: two biographies, a poetry collection, several plays, and the sampling of her signature haunting contralto by hip-hop performers including Jay Z, the Roots and, most relentlessly, Kanye West.’


Dog-eating festival in China causes global outrage

Via Boing Boing: ‘In just three days 10,000 dogs will be poisoned, beaten, killed and cooked as part of Yulin, China’s annual dog-eating festival. Many of these dogs are family pets stolen from people’s homes. Although this festival is in its eighth year, protesting has never been as strong as it is this year, with close to a million #StopYulin2015 tweets leading the way. Animal rights groups around the world are working to stop this year’s canine mass murder, including many in China….’

This is a country poised to join the community of ‘civilized’ nations??


All Possible Humanities Dissertations Considered as Single Tweets

Stephen Burt in The NeYorker: ‘This pedestrian term is actually the key to my historical period.

A disputatious panel at last year’s professional conference revealed the surprising state of the field (it’s as bad as you think).

My historical period, properly understood, includes yours.

What looked like a moment of failure, confusion, or ugliness in this well-known work is better seen as directions for reading the whole.

A problem you thought you could solve defines your field; you can’t imagine the field without the problem.

The only people able to understand this work properly cannot communicate that understanding to you.

Those two apparently incompatible versions of a thing are better regarded as parts of the same, larger thing.

Quantitative methods have an unexpected use.

Analytical tools developed for, and strongly associated with, a well-defined set of things in fact apply to a much larger set of things.

A public event simultaneous with, but apparently unrelated to, a famous art work in fact shaped that work’s composition or reception.

This famous thing closely resembles, and therefore responds to, that slightly earlier, less famous thing.

If you teach that old thing in this new way, your students will like it.

If you teach that old thing in this new way, your students will like you.

Before a given date, a now obscure, once omnipresent theory meant that all of culture was somehow different.

After a given date, a new technology meant that all of culture was somehow different.

The name we’ve been using for this stuff is anachronistic. Here’s a better name.

Truth-claims from our discipline cannot be properly judged without expertise that almost no one in our discipline has.

Our discipline should study its own disciplinary formation; that study proves that our discipline shouldn’t exist.

An old, prestigious thing still deserves its prestige, but for a heretofore undiscovered reason.

This feature of modern life began slightly earlier than you thought, and my single text proves it.

Please adopt my buzzword.

This author, normally seen as opposed to certain bad things, in fact supported them without realizing it.

This author, normally seen as naïve or untrained, is in fact very self-aware, and hence more like us.

That obscure, élite thing once had a popular audience.

This short text, seen rightly, reveals the contradictions of a whole culture.

A supposedly fanatical, militant movement that readers have been taught to fear makes perfect sense to those who support it.

The true meaning of a famous work can be recovered only through juxtaposition with this long obscure historical moment or artifact.

I found a very small thing in an archive, but I can relate it to a big thing.

To see what this thing meant to its first readers, you must attend meticulously to the physical contexts in which the thing first appeared.

This is why we can’t have nice things….’


Nina Simone’s Time Is Now, Again

Via NYTimes: ‘The feminist writer Germaine Greer once declared: “Every generation has to discover Nina Simone. She is evidence that female genius is real.” This year, that just might happen for good.
Nina Simone is striking posthumous gold as the inspiration for three films and a star-studded tribute album, and she was name-dropped in John Legend’s Oscar acceptance speech for best song. This flurry comes on the heels of a decade-long resurgence: two biographies, a poetry collection, several plays, and the sampling of her signature haunting contralto by hip-hop performers including Jay Z, the Roots and, most relentlessly, Kanye West.’


As Stress Drives Off Drone Operators, Air Force Must Cut Flights

Coat of arms of Syria -- the "Hawk of Qur...
Coat of arms of Syria

Via New York Times: ‘After a decade of waging long-distance war through their video screens, America’s drone operators are burning out, and the Air Force is being forced to cut back on the flights even as military and intelligence officials are demanding more of them over intensifying combat zones in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

The Air Force plans to trim the flights by the armed surveillance drones to 60 a day by October from a recent peak of 65 as it deals with the first serious exodus of the crew members who helped usher in the era of war by remote control….’


Afghanistan’s Destroyed Buddhas Given New Life As Holograms

Via io9: ‘In March 2001, the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan, a pair of giant statues dating to the 6th century in the Bamyan valley in central Afghanistan. Now, the statues have been resurrected with 3D light projection technology.

A Chinese couple, Janson Yu and Liyan Hu worked to develop a projector at the cost of $120,000, which they first tested in China before bringing the system to the UNESCO World Heritage Site this past weekend. With the permission of UNESCO and the Afghan Government, they were able to project a 3D image into the slots in the cliffside that housed one of the statues. For the evening, the statues stood once again in a symbolic work of art. While the statues are physically gone, they cannot be easily erased from our collective memory….’


​The Internet of the Game of Thrones

via ​Motherboard: ‘Today, commentary on the happenings in Game of ThronesSeason 5, Episode 10 are the most-read stories on the web’s most-read websites…

At time of writing, four of Vox’s most popular stories were Game of Thrones-related, including the top three. Buzzfeed’s most popular post is a rundown of a GoT fan theory, and three more are comfortably slotted in the top ten. Two out of three of Gawker Media’s “trending stories” are about GoT. A discussion of the GoT finale was the most popular article at The Atlantic, a literary magazine founded in 1857. The show got an entire, dedicated feature spread over at New York Magazine. A straight-up episode recap even slid into the New York Times’ vaunted “Most Viewed” list.’


Woman charged with murder after taking abortion pill

Via Boing Boing: ‘Kenlissia Jones, 23, of Georgia has been charged with murder after a hospital social worker reported her to the police for taking cytotec pills she purchased online to terminate her pregnancy. She is being held on charges of malice murder and possession of a dangerous drug. Leaders in both pro-choice and anti-abortion groups said they were surprised by the charges….

[UPDATE: Murder charges dropped. Jones still faces a misdemeanor charge of possession of a dangerous drug.]’


The Evidence Points to a Better Way to Fight Insomnia

Via NYTimes.com: ‘When it comes to insomnia, comparative effectiveness studies reveal that sleep medications aren’t the best bet for a cure, despite what the commercials say. Several clinical trials have found that they’re outperformed by cognitive behavioral therapy. C.B.T. for insomnia (or C.B.T.-I.) goes beyond the “sleep hygiene” most people know, though many don’t employ — like avoiding alcohol or caffeine near bedtime and reserving one’s bed for sleep (not reading or watching TV, for example). C.B.T. adds — through therapy visits or via self-guided treatments — sticking to a consistent wake time (even on weekends), relaxation techniques and learning to rid oneself of negative attitudes and thoughts about sleep….’


R.I.P. Ornette

3quarksdaily: Ornette Coleman Dies at 85

via 3quarksdaily: ‘Mr. Coleman widened the options in jazz and helped change its course. Partly through his example in the late 1950s and early ’60s, jazz became less beholden to the rules of harmony and rhythm, and gained more distance from the American songbook repertoire. His own music, then and later, became a new form of highly informed folk song: deceptively simple melodies for small groups with an intuitive, collective language, and a strategy for playing without preconceived chord sequences.’




Memories of Satan

Sacrifice of a Christian Child
Sacrifice of a Christian Child

Via Motherboard: ‘A series of videos recently uploaded on YouTube show two young children divulging disturbing information about a secret society active in north London.

The siblings reveal that they have been the victims of satanic ritual abuse, inflicted upon them at school and church in the affluent suburb of Hampstead. In hours of video footage that has been viewed millions of times, they describe the sacrificing and eating of babies, grotesque sex parties, and rituals of satanic worship.

“The assertions were that babies had been abused, tortured and then sacrificed,” a judge later put it. “Their throats were slit, blood was drunk and cult members would then dance wearing babies’ skulls—sometimes with blood and hair still attached—on their bodies.”

They name dozens of perpetrators, claiming teachers and the parents of other pupils belong to the pedophilic cult lead by their own father.

Naturally the police took these initial accusations seriously.

But after six officers searched the church, they found no reason to suspect any satanic behaviour. Eventually, after two police interviews, the children admitted it was false—citing physical and psychological abuse from their own mother Ella Draper and her partner Abraham Christie, who pressured them to lie.

“That was all made up,” the 9-year-old girl explains to the police. “He told me to say that, and I said ‘Why, Abraham? That’s not true though’ and he said ‘Yes, that is true, so don’t lie and say that to the police. They dance around with baby skulls in the church, don’t they?’ That’s what Abraham told me, and I said ‘no, they don’t’ and he said ‘yes, they do—stop lying, you little brat.’”

Despite the confession, campaigners are adamant that there is more to this case then we are being lead to believe. “Believe the children!” “Satanists!” were some of the cries that could been heard just a few weeks ago at a demonstration outside the school.

How did huge numbers of people become so frenzied over baseless accusations, and how did the line between fact and fiction become so blurred?

Meanwhile, High Court Justice Pauffley determined in March that there had been no satanic cult. “I am able to state with complete conviction that none of the allegations are true,” she said. “I am entirely certain that everything Ms. Draper, her partner Abraham Christie, and the children said about those matters was fabricated. The claims are baseless. The stories came about as the result of relentless emotional and psychological pressure as well as significant physical abuse.”

“Both [children] P and Q have suffered significantly. Their innocence was invaded. Their grip on reality was imperilled.”

“Their minds were scrambled.”


As bizarre as this story seems, it’s far from the first time someone has contrived a story about satanic horrors—and repeated it so many times that they themselves almost began to believe it. In fact, it’s been happening since the early 1980s. In a BBC Radio 4 documentary, journalist David Aaronovitch identifies the controversial book Sybil, published in 1973, as the predominant cause of what came to be known as “the satanic panic.”…’


The GOP circus is no laughing matter: One of these clowns could actually win

Via Salon.com: ‘A lot can happen between now and Election Day — and with no GOP adult in the room, that’s a frightening thought…

There was a time when the well-worn “clown car” description of the Republican presidential primary field wasn’t so on-the-nose. But as of right now, not even a few months into the process, it’s impossible to avoid daily news items in which one GOP candidate or another is self-immolating with ludicrous remarks or unforced errors. Frankly, it’d be really fun to observe if it weren’t for a nagging sense of danger….’


Meet the Anti-Turing Test

Signature of James Joyce from Ulysses, 1936 Bo...
Signature of James Joyce 

Via Motherboard: ‘Can a computer produce nonsense of sufficient nonsensical quality to convince a reader that they’re actually reading James Joyce? Or, rather, that they’re reading James Joyce’s unreadable opus Finnegan’s Wake, literature’s towering force of impenetrability?

Or, rather, can a James Joyce convince a reader that they’re not reading nonsense produced by a computer program and are indeed consuming high literature?…’


Marshall Islands, site of largest-ever U.S. nuclear weapons test, sues 9 superpowers including USA

Via Boing Boing: ‘“The tiny nation of the Republic of the Marshall Islands is once again at the center of international activism, filing two lawsuits, one in US federal court against the United States, and one in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against all nine countries that possess nuclear weapons,” writes Robert Alvarez at the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

The Pacific island nation is suing the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China for failure to eliminate their nuclear arsenals, as called for by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and also names India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel as defendants….’


Absurd Creature of the Week: This Bug Is Big as a Gerbil. Fortunately It Loves Carrots

Via WIRED: ‘YOU KNOW THAT scene in the newish King Kong where those folks get eaten alive in a pit of giant insects? It’s a damn character assassination, through and through. The huge cricket-like bugs among them are based on the giant weta, the heaviest reliably reported insect on Earth, at 2.5 ounces. And really, the movie bugs could have been even bigger for all I care—it’s that their crummy attitude is all wrong. Giant weta, for their monstrous size, are actually quite sweet….’


Physicists Recreate Sartre’s No Exit, Using The Efimov Effect

Via io9: ‘If you don’t remember Jean-Paul Sartre’s play No Exit, let me recap it for you. Three sinners are sent to hell and their punishment is each other. Confined to a room, the three people form a toxic triad, each one locked to another, each craving the love, respect, or approval that the others cannot give. Lose any one of the three and they’re all free,

but put them all together and they’re stuck.

Physicists apparently looked at that play and thought they’d recreate it. It started small. A young Russian physicist, Vitaly Efimov, thought he’d usher the 1970s with a new theory. Cool a group of three atoms down to superlow temperatures, and although any two members of the triad would repel each other alone, the three will become suddenly unable to escape each other. They will pull together in what would eventually be called an Efimov State….’


Why Did America Kill Hundreds Of Thousands in Iraq? Ask Jeb

Jeb Bush

via 3quarksdaily: ‘So Jeb Bush gets asked if he would have invaded Iraq “knowing what we know now,” and he flubs his answer.

But he got asked the wrong question.

The right question to ask Jeb Bush is this:

“How dare you run for president when you should be dying of shame instead, because your brother is a war criminal?”

We seemed to have banished simple morality from all our discussions of public policy.

We call the Iraq War our “most serious foreign policy blunder” instead of what it really was: a war crime.’


Huge oarfish found off Catalina Island

via Boing Boing: ‘A snorkeler dragged in this 18-foot dead oarfish he found just off Catalina Island near Los Angeles on Sunday. Oarfish are rarely seen this large and usually found in deep open ocean waters.

“Not a whole lot is known about them, because they are sort of secretive,” ichthyology collections manager Rick Fennel at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County told the Los Angeles Times.’



A Flag for Earth?

Via Gizmodo: ‘As a student project for his degree in fine arts at Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, Sweden, Oskar Pernefeldt designed this international flag to “be used while representing planet Earth” and “remind the people of Earth that we share this planet”…’


​How to Thrive in the Age of Megadrought​

A Mongolian gazelle that has died of drought, ...

Via Motherboard: ‘Thankfully (if unfortunately) there’s something of a blueprint for conquering a sustained scorch: Australia’s Millennium Drought. Spanning from 1995 to 2009, it may not have been quite long enough to earn the mantle of “megadrought,” a term that typically describes a drought that lasts over two decades. But the Millennium Drought was long, harsh, and painful. It was the longest in Australia’s recorded history, yet the afflicted communities adapted, even thrived, in spite of the parch….’


For the First Time in 14 Years, the NSA Can’t Get Your Phone Records

How Would a Patriot Act?

Via Motherboard: ‘As of midnight on Sunday, for the first time since 2001, the NSA lost its legal authority to collect Americans phone records in bulk.


The Senate let three provisions of the Patriot Act expire on Sunday, including the controversial Section 215, which allows the spy agency to collect all phone records from telephone companies every three months, a practice that was ruled ruled illegal by a judge less than a month ago.


Two other provisions of the Patriot Act also expired. One of them allowed the government to obtain warrants from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to spy on suspected “lone wolf” terrorists; and the other, known as the “roving wiretap,” allowed investigators to obtain permission to spy on multiple phones owned by one suspect with just one application.


While this might seem like a victory for anti-surveillance advocates, the truth is that most of the Patriot Act stands, and even this victory is going to be a short lived one….’


Once Upon a Mattress

Via Bitch Media (thanks to Boing Boing): ‘Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz carried her mattress across the stage at her graduation ceremony this morning. Sulkowicz and her friends have been carrying the mattress around for the whole academic year in protest of the way the school handles sexual assault issues.  As New York Magazine explains, for her senior thesis in visual art, Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight), Sulkowicz vowed that she would carry her dorm-room mattress whenever she was on campus as long as her alleged rapist remained on campus. “The piece could potentially take a day, or it could go on until I graduate,” she said….’