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The far right is losing its ability to speak freely online. Should the left defend it?

‘… “This is a really terrible time to be a free speech advocate,” said Jillian York, director for international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “It’s a ‘First they came for the … situation,” she said, referring to the famous Martin Niemöller poem about the classes of people targeted by Nazis, “only in reverse”.

Though these are dark days for American exceptionalism, the US remains distinct in its commitment to freedom of speech. Even as many Americans increasingly favor European-style limitations on hate speech, the constitution’s first amendment ensures that any such legislative effort is likely a non-starter.

But the fate of the Daily Stormer – as vile a publication as it is – may be a warning to Americans that the first amendment is increasingly irrelevant…’

Source: The Guardian

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‘Smart’ Rubber Bands Are on Their Way

‘According to a story on Science Alert, the world’s largest rubber band maker, Alliance, Ohio’s, Alliance Rubber Co., is working with researchers to create unbreakable rubber bands that will also be traceable and responsive to external stimuli. This all thanks to the addition of the space-age material graphene, which is said to be 200 times stronger than steel…’

Source: Atlas Obscura

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All the Ways You’re Secretly Being Rude Abroad

When you travel around the world, you probably aim to be respectful of each and every culture you encounter. But you’d be surprised how easy it is to be rude without knowing. This is a primer on cultural sensitivity; however, instead of memorizing all the things you dare not do and where, you can often find resources on the particular cultural mores and customs of any particular place you are visiting by googling before you go.

Source: Lifehacker

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R.I.P. John Abercrombie

‘John Abercrombie, a guitarist whose lyrical style placed him in his generation’s top tier of improvising musicians, died on Tuesday in Cortlandt Manor, N.Y. He was 72.

The cause was heart failure, his brother-in-law, Gary Lefkowitz, said.Mr. Abercrombie became known in the mid-1970s as a prominent jazz-rock guitarist. As his style evolved and he moved away from fusion, it was his knack for understatement and his affinity for classic jazz guitar technique that defined his approach.He played in bands led by the drummer Jack DeJohnette and the saxophonist Gato Barbieri, among others, before ECM Records released his first album as a leader, “Timeless,” in 1975…’

Source: New York Times obituary

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If Horror Movies Got Exorcism Right, We Might All Be Possessed

‘Mary Chasteen’s been in the exorcism business since 2008, so she knows Hollywood has it all wrong.

“It’s always portrayed as you’re walking along and, wham, the demon’s in you,” Chasteen tells Inverse. “Then a priest tries to help you and, bam, they’re possessed. It’s ridiculous. You know, if a demon could just override free will, then who wouldn’t be possessed? They’d make evil puppets out of all of us. They would just destroy God’s creation.”

As the auxiliary and confidant to Father Vincent Lampert, Exorcist of the Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis and Pastor of Saint Malachy Parish in Brownsburg, Indiana, Chasteen has seen things that she says will stay with her for the rest of her life. But the disturbing imagery of her real-world work — humans whose bodies, minds, and souls have, according to the Catholic Church, been inundated by demons — isn’t much like what horror films would have you believe.

Many would balk at the idea that Hollywood’s portrayal of demons and exorcism is up for debate. Hollywood’s not exactly known for its realism, but viewers might assume that debating the accuracy of something as far-fetched as exorcisms is pointless, right? Not so, according to Catholicism, which is practiced by roughly 1.2 billion people around the world. Catholics hold that demons, exorcism, and the associated trappings are very real, and a warped version of their beliefs tend to make their way to the screen…’

Source: Inverse

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Eventually, Total Solar Eclipses Will End Forever

‘Every year, the moon moves about 3.8 centimeters (1.5 inches) farther away from Earth. In addition, the sun is slowly growing larger as it fuses hydrogen into helium and consumes its nuclear fuel. The moon has been slowly slipping away from Earth ever since it formed billions of years ago, a time when the moon was closer and larger in the sky. Because it is getting farther away and smaller as viewed by us on Earth, and the sun is getting larger, there is an inevitable day when the moon will become too small in the sky to block the whole sun.

That day is about 600 million years in the future. A paper published by NASA predicts total solar eclipses will end in about 563 million years. However, British astronomer Jean Meeus suggests in his book, More Mathematical Astronomy Morsels, that perturbations in the orbits of the moon and the Earth will result in periods of on-and-off total solar eclipses starting in 620 million years, and the very last one won’t happen until 1.2 billion years from now…’

Source: Popular Mechanics

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Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?

Robin Wright writes:

‘America’s stability is increasingly an undercurrent in political discourse. Earlier this year, I began a conversation with Keith Mines about America’s turmoil. Mines has spent his career—in the U.S. Army Special Forces, the United Nations, and now the State Department—navigating civil wars in other countries, including Afghanistan, Colombia, El Salvador, Iraq, Somalia, and Sudan. He returned to Washington after sixteen years to find conditions that he had seen nurture conflict abroad now visible at home. It haunts him. In March, Mines was one of several national-security experts whom Foreign Policy asked to evaluate the risks of a second civil war—with percentages. Mines concluded that the United States faces a sixty-per-cent chance of civil war over the next ten to fifteen years. Other experts’ predictions ranged from five per cent to ninety-five per cent. The sobering consensus was thirty-five per cent. And that was five months before Charlottesville…’

Source: The New Yorker

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Famous Writers React To Drumpf’s Defense Of White Supremacists

Stephen King: “Trump must be removed. Republicans, stand up to this obscene man.”

J.K. Rowling: “One good thing about that abomination of a speech: it’s now impossible for any Trump supporter to pretend they don’t know what he is.”

Joyce Carol Oates shared a photo of a poster comparing Trump to Adolf Hitler.

Jodi Picoult: ‘Just want to point out the last people who used the rhetoric of subduing the “alt-left” to appeal to masses were German Nazis prior to WWII.’

Rainbow Rowell challenged Trump’s comments that the alt-right protesters came in peace: “Those Nazis came to Charlottesville with torches, metal poles & semiautomatic weapons. They did not come in peace or to express an opinion.”

Kumail Nanjiani: ‘How can self professed “non-racist” & “non-white-supremacist” ppl continue to support him? I genuinely wanna know. How do you justify this?’

Gary Shteyngart: “Will Trump lead us into a civil war or nuclear holocaust first? Anyone taking bets?”

Norman Lear: “I fought Nazis in World War II. They aren’t “very fine people…”

Maureen Johnson: “My grandpa was a Marine for over 25 years and fought in WWI and WWII. He would not forgive me if I didn’t fight Nazi sympathizers.”

Brad Thor shared a gif of a dumpster fire.

Jason O. Gilbert: ‘Lincoln: “4 score and 7 seven years ago…” JFK: “Ask not what your country can do for you…” Trump: “Actually the Nazis had a permit…” ‘

Source: Buzzfeed

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One Can Only Hope

Bannon in Limbo as Trump Faces Growing Calls for the Strategist’s Ouster

MAGGIE HABERMAN and GLENN THRUSH write:

‘Rupert Murdoch has repeatedly urged President Trump to fire him. Anthony Scaramucci, the president’s former communications director, thrashed him on television as a white nationalist. Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser, refused to even say he could work with him.

For months, Mr. Trump has considered ousting Stephen K. Bannon, the White House chief strategist and relentless nationalist who ran the Breitbart website and called it a “platform for the alt-right.” Mr. Trump has sent Mr. Bannon to a kind of internal exile, and has not met face-to-face for more than a week with a man who was once a fixture in the Oval Office, according to aides and friends of the president…’

Source:  NYTimes.com

This may be the only silver lining to come out of the horror of Charlottesville.

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What does it mean that the sperm count among Western men has shrunk by half since the ‘70s?

‘The good news is that 47.1 million sperm per milliliter is still pretty healthy. A person’s sperm count is considered “low” when he has fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen, and plenty of men with low sperm counts are still able to conceive children. Future studies should examine whether there has been a corresponding increase in men clocking in below the 15 million sperm threshold in addition to a general decrease in average sperm concentration. More good news: There are research-based behavioral changes men can make to combat sperm-count decline, such as quitting smoking, eating healthy meals, and avoiding food and drink that have touched pesticides or materials containing BPA.

 

The bad news, according to Levine, is that the new study’s results may foretell “the extinction of the human species” if we don’t figure out what’s causing the lack of sperm and take action…’

Source: Slate

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R.I.P. Haruo Nakajima

First Actor to Play Godzilla Dies at 88

‘Haruo Nakajima, the Japanese actor who played the movie monster Godzilla in a dozen films and whose booming steps in a 200-pound rubber suit sent the denizens of Tokyo running into cinematic history, died on Monday. He was 88.  His daughter, Sonoe Nakajima, said the cause was pneumonia. She did not say where he died.

 

Mr. Nakajima was a 25-year-old stunt actor with just four movies to his credit when he was cast in what are perhaps Japan’s two most famous films of that era, both released in 1954: Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece “Seven Samurai,” in which he had a bit part, and “Godzilla.” ‘

Source: New York Times obituary

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America Once Planned An Unstoppable Nuclear Doomsday Nightmare Weapon

…a locomotive-size missile that would travel at near-treetop level at three times the speed of sound, tossing out hydrogen bombs as it roared overhead. Pluto’s designers calculated that its shock wave alone might kill people on the ground. Then there was the problem of fallout. In addition to gamma and neutron radiation from the unshielded reactor, Pluto’s nuclear ramjet would spew fission fragments out in its exhaust as it flew by. (One enterprising weaponeer had a plan to turn an obvious peace-time liability into a wartime asset: he suggested flying the radioactive rocket back and forth over the Soviet Union after it had dropped its bombs.)

Source: Jalopnik

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Two-Headed Bat Found in Brazil Is the Stuff of Nightmares

‘…[R]esearchers at the Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro published a study on a pair of conjoined bat twins discovered in southeastern Brazil back in 2001. The animals were dead when they were discovered, which is almost always the case with animals born with a rare condition that results in two heads on a single body…’

Source: Gizmodo

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Fighting Words With the Unabomber

‘…[I]t turns out in some of the world’s most baffling criminal cases—notorious kidnappings, domestic terrorism, thinly veiled threats and collusion, false confessions, mysterious deaths—it was not the chance appearance of some wayward DNA, CSI-style, that finally cracked the code, but some seemingly harmless point about language.

Strange to think that a handful of mere words, short of a blatant confession, could end up pointing the finger at unknown perpetrators of a crime. Perhaps like DNA, words and the ways we use language can potentially reveal features of ourselves, our intentions, and our actions, left hastily at the scene without our being aware of it.

It’s thanks to the quirky use of idioms, oddly-placed punctuation, vocal tics, and certain other idiolectal, dialectal and stylistic markers, that anonymous speakers and authors have often been identified. Linguistic evidence left behind in wire taps, ransom notes, texts, tweets, and emails, (and even pet parrots!) has sometimes led to major breakthroughs and even the resolution of many famous cases. Just like DNA analysis, however, these linguistic markers have to be used cautiously in a forensic context.

Source: JSTOR Daily