Gearing Up for the Republican Convention Like It’s War 

‘The 2016 political season has been the most fractious in living memory. This week, America’s potpourri of turmoil will coalesce in Cleveland as groups from around the country come to support or protest the Republican National Convention. Or more accurately, they’ve come here because of Donald Trump, the demigod of modern American disarray.

Capturing these confrontations will be the nation’s corps of photo and video journalists. And many of them are packing protective gear—kevlar vests, helmets, gas masks—stuff that usually stays in the closet unless their assignment is a war zone…’

Source: WIRED


Angry Birds are Angrier in the City

‘In Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 opus The Birds, two outsiders arrive in a seaside town in northern California with a cage of love birds in tow. Their arrival in the Bodega Bay triggers birds of all types to begin attacking the residents in the area, but Hitchcock ultimately leaves the reason for this strange avian behavior a mystery.

Luckily, new research published in Biology Letters which found that birds that live in areas with high human populations (urban/suburban areas) are more territorially aggressive than birds in rural areas might be able to shed some light on this Hitchcockian mystery.

“A possible reason for this is that these birds have less space but better resources to defend,” said Scott Davies, a postdoctoral associate in biological sciences at Virginia Tech. “Living near humans provides better food and shelter, but it also means more competition for these limited resources.” …’

Source: Motherboard


Donald Trump’s speech introducing Mike Pence showed why he shouldn’t be president

‘I do not know how to explain what I just watched.It should be easy.

Donald Trump introduced Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate. There it is. One sentence. Eleven words. But that doesn’t explain what happened any better than “I spent a few hours letting lysergic acid diethylamide mimic serotonin in my brain” explains an acid trip. What just happened was weird, and it was important.

Back in May, EJ Dionne wrote that the hardest thing about covering Donald Trump would be “staying shocked.” Watching him, day after day, week after week, month after month, the temptation would be to normalize his behavior, “to move Trump into the political mainstream.”

But today helped. Donald Trump’s introduction of Mike Pence was shocking. Forget the political mainstream. What happened today sat outside the mainstream for normal human behavior.

It began in irony. Before Pence, before Trump, there was an empty podium, and the Rolling Stones blasting through the speakers. It had been widely reported that few top Republicans were willing to serve as Trump’s running mate. It had been widely reported that Trump was unsure about Pence, that he had regretted the decision almost as soon as he made it, that he had sought ways to reverse himself. Hours before the announcement, Trump tweeted that Pence was “my first choice from the start!”, which is a thing presidential candidates typically do not need to say.So there we were. Waiting for Trump and Pence to emerge. And what Rolling Stones song did the campaign choose? What did we all hear, over and over again, as we waited for Trump to introduce Mike Pence, his “first choice from the start!”?”You can’t always get what you want…”

Now back to Mike Pence…What started as farce continued as farce. Trump emerged without Pence. He spoke, alone, at a podium adorned with Trump’s name, but not Pence’s. And then Trump proceeded to talk about himself for 28 minutes. There is no other way to say this than to say it: it was the single most bizarre, impulsive, narcissistic performance I have ever seen from a major politician.There is no way I will be able to properly described Trump’s speech to you. You should really just go and watch it yourself…’

Source: Ezra Klein, Vox


Mississippi’s prison town are in danger of collapse, thanks to tiny reforms in the War on Drugs

chain_gang_street_sweepers_1909‘Towns in Mississippi and other Tea Party-ruled states with large (often private) prison industries are totally reliant on state/fed funding transfers to local prisons for cash and jobs, forced prison labor to provide local services for free, and War on Drugs arrests and minimum sentencing to fill those jails. The first tiny steps toward criminal justice reform have eroded the underpinnings of the whole system, leaving the towns facing collapse.Increasing vacancy rates in these prisons mean less revenue (and less free, forced labor), but the counties and towns still have to keep up payments on the bonds they floated to raise the money to build their prisons…’

Source: Boing Boing