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The ‘Not Face’ is a universal part of language…

‘Researchers have identified a single, universal facial expression that is interpreted across many cultures as the embodiment of negative emotion.The look proved identical for native speakers of English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and American Sign Language (ASL).It consists of a furrowed brow, pressed lips and raised chin, and because we make it when we convey negative sentiments, such as “I do not agree,” researchers are calling it the “not face.” …’

Source: Neuroscience Stuff

My most common facial expression…

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R.I.P. Daniel J. Berrigan

Defiant Priest Who Preached Pacifism Dies at 94

‘The United States was tearing itself apart over civil rights and the war in Southeast Asia when Father Berrigan emerged in the 1960s as an intellectual star of the Roman Catholic “new left,” articulating a view that racism and poverty, militarism and capitalist greed were interconnected pieces of the same big problem: an unjust society.

It was an essentially religious position, based on a stringent reading of the Scriptures that some called pure and others radical. But it would have explosive political consequences as Father Berrigan; his brother Philip, a Josephite priest; and their allies took their case to the streets with rising disregard for the law or their personal fortunes.

A defining point was the burning of Selective Service draft records in Catonsville, Md., and the subsequent trial of the so-called Catonsville Nine, a sequence of events that inspired an escalation of protests across the country; there were marches, sit-ins, the public burning of draft cards and other acts of civil disobedience.

The catalyzing episode occurred on May 17, 1968, six weeks after the murder of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the outbreak of new riots in dozens of cities. Nine Catholic activists, led by Daniel and Philip Berrigan, entered a Knights of Columbus building in Catonsville and went up to the second floor, where the local draft board had offices. In front of astonished clerks, they seized hundreds of draft records, carried them down to the parking lot and set them on fire with homemade napalm.

Some reporters had been told of the raid in advance. They were given a statement that said in part, “We destroy these draft records not only because they exploit our young men but because they represent misplaced power concentrated in the ruling class of America.” It added, “We confront the Catholic Church, other Christian bodies and the synagogues of America with their silence and cowardice in the face of our country’s crimes.”

In a year sick with images of destruction, from the Tet offensive in Vietnam to the murder of Dr. King, a scene was recorded that had been contrived to shock people to attention, and did so. When the police came, the trespassers were praying in the parking lot, led by two middle-aged men in clerical collars: the big, craggy Philip, a decorated hero of World War II, and the ascetic Daniel, waiting peacefully to be led into the van.

In the years to come, well into his 80s, Daniel Berrigan was arrested time and again, for greater or lesser offenses: in 1980, for taking part in the Plowshares raid on a General Electric missile plant in King of Prussia, Pa., where the Berrigan brothers and others rained hammer blows on missile warheads; in 2006, for blocking the entrance to the Intrepid naval museum in Manhattan.“The day after I’m embalmed,” he said in 2001, on his 80th birthday, “that’s when I’ll give it up.” …’

Source: The New York Times

Fr. Berrigan, along with his brother, has always been an inspirational intellectual and spiritual hero of mine, although I don’t have a Catholic bone in my body. I am deeply saddened by his passing but he is to be celebrated rather than mourned.

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Scientists figured out how to hide from aliens

‘Scientists are currently on a decades-long search for intelligent alien life, but leading experts including Stephen Hawking have warned against this search in fear that if we succeed it could lead to the end of the human race as we know it.In the event that humankind discovers the existence of hostile aliens, researchers have found a viable way to hide Earth from near-certain doom…’

Source: Tech Insider

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Has Climate Change Really Improved U.S. Weather?

‘According to a new report published in “Nature” on April 20, 2016 by Patrick Egan and Megan Mullin, weather conditions have “improved” for the vast majority of Americans over the past 40 years. This, they argue, explains why there has been little public demand so far for a policy response to climate change.

Egan and Mullin do note that this trend is projected to reverse over the course of the coming century, and that Americans will become more concerned about climate change as they perceive more negative impact from weather. However, they estimate that such a shift may not occur in time to spur policy responses that could avert catastrophic impacts.

However, when we consider what Americans “prefer” with respect to weather, it is important to consider all variations in the weather – across hours, days and especially the extremes – rather than simply looking at annual averages…’

Source: IFLScience

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Court: Cops Need a Warrant to Open Your Phone, Even Just to Look at the Screen

‘In a major decision back in 2014, the Supreme Court finally ruled that police need a warrant to search someone’s cellphone when making an arrest.That case, Riley v. California, was a major privacy victory. Now, it’s being interpreted by a federal court in Illinois to mean that even opening a phone to look at the screen qualifies as a “search” and requires a warrant…’

Source: Motherboard

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Dark Matter + Black Hole = Wormhole?

‘According to a paper posted to the arXiv pre-print server last week, the difference between an everyday supermassive black hole and a space-time tunneling wormhole may be a lacing of dark matter. While it sounds like crank fodder of the sort that not infrequently winds up on arXiv, the idea may hold actual water…’

Source: Motherboard

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Lionel Schriver: “Our preoccupation with gender identity is a cultural step backwards”

‘By the time I entered university in 1974, a revolution was well under way. As I understood it, “women’s liberation” meant that the frilly cookie-cutter template of femininity had been chucked out. Being female was no longer defined in terms of skirts, high heels, and homemaking. Men and women were equal. Both sexes were just people. We had entered the post-gender world.Fast-forward to 2016: I was wrong.We have entered instead an oppressively gendered world, in which identity is more bound up in one’s sex than ever before…’

Source: Prospect via 3Quarks

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People Have Been Hearing This Hum for Years. No One’s Sure What It Is.

‘For every little red dot on the map, someone has reported hearing a low-frequency hum whose source they’ve been absolutely unable to identify.It’s not a new phenomenon, either. When Britain’s Sunday Mirror tabloid published an article about it called “Have You Heard the Hum?” in 1977, 800 people contacted the paper to say they had. There are accounts of what could be the hum dating as far back as 1828 when travelers to the Pyrenees heard a ”dull, low, moaning, aeolian sound” they couldn’t identify. And as recently as early April 2016, residents of Plymouth near the south shore of England were experiencing the return of an unexplained hum they’d first heard a year earlier…

The man behind the World Hum Map is Dr. Glen MacPherson, a former lecturer at the University of British Columbia. His map is a crowd-sourced effort to start figuring out, in some scientific way, what on earth—or above it?—causes the Hum. McPherson himself suspects the Hum may be a product of VLF (Very Low-Frequency) radio transmissions.

VLF Antennas

  • Patrick Kempf

Now Fabrice Ardhuin, a senior researcher at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France announced in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, that he’s figured out what produces the Hum: Pressure from waves on the seafloor are causing the Earth to oscillate and produce low-frequency sounds for 13 to 300 seconds. These microseismic waves can be picked up by seismic instruments and by the small number of people sensitive to these low frequencies…’

Source: Big Think

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Male Health Problem Spells End of Human Race?

‘Sperm count, what is actually called sperm concentration, has dropped even among younger men. A man’s concentration must be 15 million sperm per milliliter or more. Below this point he is considered subfertile. Also, things like motility—its ability to swim vigorously in order to reach the egg, DNA formation, and even the size and shape of sperm are all incredibly important when it comes to conception. These qualities have declined as well. One French study, conducted between 1989 and 2005, and including 26,000 men, found that sperm counts dropped by one-third over the sixteen year period . Sperm quality also declined by a similar margin. The decrease was progressive—meaning it is probably still ongoing. Some studies point to sperm quality declining for at least the last century.

Gary Cherr is a reproductive toxicologist at the University of California, Davis. He says men in industrialized countries are producing poorer sperm than our primate cousins and other mammals. Among the most fertile men such an issue are still prominent, according to Cherr. In a recent European study, 20% of young men were found to be subfertile. This trend may be driving the recent popularity in fertility procedures, such as vitro fertilization (IVF). The rate of testicular cancer worldwide over the last 30 years has also doubled, and researchers wonder if there is a connection.

Though there still is no clear understanding of what is causing sperm’s decline, theories abound. Toxins in the environment such as endocrine disruptors (like PCBs), industrial waste, and agricultural chemicals—pesticides and fertilizers have all been blamed. One study found that industrially produced aluminum in the environment, first introduced as a consumer product around the same time the decline started, could be the culprit. Other suspects include exposure to radiation through electronic devices, a high fat diet, lack of exercise and a more sedentary lifestyle, and the obesity epidemic. Couples are also having children later in life, further affecting fertility…’

Source: Big Think

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The Verge Review of Animals: the coywolf

‘This column is part of a series where Verge staffers post highly subjective reviews of animals. Up until now, we’ve written about animals without telling you whether they suck or rule. We are now rectifying this oversight.

Okay, I’m probably about to piss off a bunch of scientists by using that name: coywolf. But it’s so catchy I’m going to keep using it — after all, the coolest breed of coyotes deserves a cool name. Coywolves, a hybrid animal that’s the result of mating between coyotes, wolves, and dogs, have been colonizing the eastern US pretty much undisturbed. (Maybe they should be dubbed coywolfdog or coydogwolf, but for obvious reasons none of these weird names have stuck around.)

Also called Canis latrans var., the coywolf is the newest top predator of the east coast, ranging from Florida to Maine and up into Canada. Seriously, if you live in Boston or Washington, DC, expect to run into them at the park or in a cemetery at some point in your life. In New York City, they’ve been spotted in downtown Manhattan, as well as on the roof of a bar in Long Island City. (Just because the raccoon invasion wasn’t enough.)

Coywolves do look slightly different from regular western coyotes. They have longer legs and a longer body, smaller ears, a bushier tail, a larger jaw, and a wider skull. They weigh between 35 and 45 pounds, and they usually live in families of three to five if food is abundant. Their genetic makeup is roughly 65 percent coyote, 25 percent wolf, and 10 percent dog, making them a little wilder than a poodle but less scary than an actual wolf. (Coywolves will take down a deer just like a wolf though; they don’t limit their diet to rabbits and small rodents.)

We helped create them, of course. In the 1800s and early 1900s, we decimated wolves because they killed livestock. We also cut down huge amounts of trees in the northeastern US for lumber and to make space for pastures and crops. As you can imagine, all of this limited wolves’ mating options. Desperate for sex, wolves began mating with eastward-expanding coyotes. The first coywolf was detected around 1919 in Ontario, Canada; half a century later dog DNA was mixed in, giving rise to the new animal hybrid that’s so common today. There’s no real estimate of how many coywolves lurk in Americans’ backyards at night, but their number is in the millions, says Roland Kays of North Carolina State University.

Coywolves are basically living reminders that evolution happens all the time and animals adapt to deal with the biggest destroyer of all, humans. “They’re an example of nature adapting very rapidly to the changes that we have made in the planet,” Kays tells The Verge. “It shows how evolution can help animals live in the modern world.” I mean, how cool is that? We finally found an animal that’s not about to be wiped out because of how badly we screwed up…’

Source: The Verge

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Researchers Just Discovered a New State of Matter

‘Quantum spin liquid is a phase where electrons actually fracture apart—and begin to behave very strangely. As Gizmodo previously reported:“We usually consider electrons to be fundamental particles, that is, indivisible into smaller components. But things get weird when you get down to two dimensions. In this space, quantum mechanics allows an electron to split into two (or three) smaller components, each carrying a fraction of the charge. They’re like bubbles that form in a quantum liquid.” …’

Source: Gizmodo

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Eaten Fish Spotted Inside Of A Translucent Sea Creature

‘The alien world of the deep sea has some very odd inhabitants.Photographer Wayne MacWilliams dove 150 meters (500 feet) into the waters off the coast of Singer Island in Palm Beach, Florida, to capture a particularly fascinating moment from the deep sea’s black abyss.The images show a translucent sea creature, possibly a species of comb jelly, with a shimmering fish in its belly that it had eaten just moments before….’

Source: IFLScience

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Largest leak in history reveals world leaders and businesspeople hiding trillions in offshore havens

‘An anonymous source has handed 2.6TB worth of records from Mossack Fonseca, one of the world’s largest offshore law firms, to a consortium of news outlets, including The Guardian.The dump includes 11.5M files, whose contents reveal a complex system of tax evasion that implicates some of the richest, most powerful people in the world, from Vladimir Putin to former members of the UK Tory government and the father of UK Tory prime minister David Cameron.’

Source: Boing Boing

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Why Are Educators Learning How to Interrogate Their Students?

‘Like the adult version of the Reid Technique, the school version involves three basic parts: an investigative component, in which you gather evidence; a behavioral analysis, in which you interview a suspect to determine whether he or she is lying; and a nine-step interrogation, a nonviolent but psychologically rigorous process that is designed, according to Reid’s workbook, “to obtain an admission of guilt.” Most of the I.P.A. session, Schneider told me, focussed on behavioral analysis. Buckley described to trainees how patterns of body language—including slumping, failing to look directly at the interviewer, offering “evasive” responses, and showing generally “guarded” behaviors—could supposedly reveal whether a suspect was lying. (Some of the cues were downright mythological—like, for instance, the idea that individuals look left when recalling the truth and right when trying to fabricate.) Several times during the session, Buckley showed videos of interrogations involving serious crimes, such as murder, theft, and rape. None of the videos portrayed young people being questioned for typical school misbehavior, nor did any of the Reid teaching materials refer to “students” or “kids.” They were always “suspects” or “subjects.” …’

Source: The New Yorker

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Why Are K-12 School Leaders Being Trained in Coercive Interrogation Techniques?

One of America’s great paradoxes (or perhaps hypocrisies) is its claim to be a global beacon of freedom, even as it jails more of its citizens—by population percentage and in raw numbers—than any other country in the world. This tendency toward suspicion, hyper-enforcement and punishment is so pervasive it even trickles down to our kids.

CNN cites a National Center for Education Statistics report that finds 43 percent of U.S. public schools have some form of security personnel patrolling their halls and grounds, a figure that rises to 63 and 64 percent, respectively, in public middle and high schools.

In addition to the school resource officer, the over-policing of American society has now given rise to a new figure: the educator-interrogator. As the Guardian noted last year and the New Yorker discussed recently, school administrators are increasingly being trained as interrogators to extract confessions from students for so-called “crimes”—most often, minor offenses from schoolyard scuffles to insubordination. Instruction in the interrogation arts is provided by John E. Reid and Associates, a global interrogation training firm that contracts with police departments, armed services divisions and security companies around the country. According to the New Yorker, the company has taught its patented “Reid Technique” to hundreds of school administrators in eight states. That training may be leading to an increasing number of students ‘fessing up, even when they have nothing to confess to.

As the New Yorker notes, “like the adult version of the Reid Technique, the school version involves three basic parts: an investigative component, in which you gather evidence; a behavioral analysis, in which you interview a suspect to determine whether he or she is lying; and a nine-step interrogation, a nonviolent but psychologically rigorous process that is designed, according to Reid’s workbook, ‘to obtain an admission of guilt.’”

Source: Alternet

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How Mind-Controlling Parasites Can Get Inside Your Head

‘Imagine that pesky tabby cat has been pooing in your backyard again. Unbeknown to you, it has transferred some of the parasite spores it was carrying onto your herb garden. Unintentionally, while preparing a tasty salad, you forget to wash your hands and infect yourself with the Toxoplasma gondii spores. For months you display no symptoms, then after six months you are driving your car more aggressively, taking chances in road junctions and generally filled with more road rage as you angrily gesticulate with fellow drivers. Could all this be linked to that tasty salad?…’

Source: IFLScience