Sandra Newman writes:
‘Infanticide might be the most horrible crime we can imagine. Throughout human history it’s also been utterly commonplace…’
Source: Aeon Essays
Sandra Newman writes:
‘Infanticide might be the most horrible crime we can imagine. Throughout human history it’s also been utterly commonplace…’
Source: Aeon Essays
Jamelle Bouie writes:
‘…The conceit of “A Voice of Hate in America’s Heartland,” the New York Times’ profile of Tony Hovater—a neo-Nazi who helped start the Traditionalist Worker Party, a white nationalist group—is that there’s something incongruent in Hovater’s ordinary Midwestern life and his virulently racist and anti-Semitic beliefs. “Why did this man—intelligent, socially adroit and raised middle class amid the relatively well-integrated environments of United States military bases—gravitate toward the furthest extremes of American political discourse?” asks the writer, Richard Fausset, in a subsequent piece explaining the editorial decisions behind the story and reflecting on his conversations with Hovater.
Hovater’s extremism may demand some additional explanation, but there’s nothing novel about virulent white racism existing in banal environments. That, in fact, is what it means to live in a society structured by racism and racist attitudes. The sensational nature of Hovater’s identification with Nazi Germany obscures the ordinariness of his racism. White supremacy is a hegemonic ideology in the United States. It exists everywhere, in varying forms, ranging from passive beliefs in black racial inferiority to the extremist ideology we see in groups like the League of the South….’
‘…[I]n tying himself to Mr. Moore even as congressional leaders have abandoned the candidate en masse, the president has reignited hostilities with his own party just as Senate Republicans are rushing to pass a politically crucial tax overhaul. Mr. McConnell and his allies have been particularly infuriated as Mr. Trump has reacted with indifference to a series of ideas they have floated to try to block Mr. Moore.
The accusations against Mr. Moore have lifted Democrats’ hopes of notching a rare victory in the Deep South in next month’s special election, which would narrow the Republican Senate majority to a single seat. Just as significantly, the president has handed the Democrats a political weapon with which to batter Republicans going into the midterm elections: that they tolerate child predation.
…What the president did not foresee was that the friction would reach inside his immediate family. He vented his annoyance when his daughter Ivanka castigated Mr. Moore by saying there was “a special place in hell for people who prey on children,” according to three staff members who heard his comments.
…But something deeper has been consuming Mr. Trump. He sees the calls for Mr. Moore to step aside as a version of the response to the now-famous “Access Hollywood” tape, in which he boasted about grabbing women’s genitalia, and the flood of groping accusations against him that followed soon after. He suggested to a senator earlier this year that it was not authentic, and repeated that claim to an adviser more recently. (In the hours after it was revealed in October 2016, Mr. Trump acknowledged that the voice was his, and he apologized.)…’
via New York Times
Even polar bears understand that dogs are some of the best pals you can make in this world.
It sounds counterintuitive but removing signs and barriers can make streets safer.
Charles M. Blow writes:
‘ …Last Thanksgiving I wrote a column titled, “No, Trump, We Can’t Just Get Along,” in which I committed myself to resisting this travesty of a man, proclaiming, “I have not only an ethical and professional duty to call out how obscene your very existence is at the top of American government; I have a moral obligation to do so.”
I made this promise: “As long as there are ink and pixels, you will be the focus of my withering gaze.”
I have kept that promise, not because it was a personal challenge, but because this is a national crisis.’
Source: The New York Times
‘…Here’s a list of 13 women who have publicly come forward with claims that Trump had physically touched them inappropriately in some way, and the witnesses they provided. We did not include claims that were made only through Facebook posts or other social media, or in lawsuits that subsequently were withdrawn.
We also did not include the accounts of former beauty contestants who say Trump walked in on them when they were half nude because there were no allegations of touching. Trump had bragged on the Howard Stern show of his “inspections” during the pageants…’
‘Greenpeace has called for an investigation into a potential cover-up of a nuclear accident after Russia’s nuclear agency had denied European reports of increased ruthenium-106 levels. Rosgidromet, the weather monitoring service, released test data on Monday that showed levels were indeed much higher than normal. The most potent site was Argayash in the south Urals, where levels were 986 times the norm.
Argayash is about 20 miles from Mayak, a facility that reprocesses spent nuclear fuel. The plant facility issued a denial on Tuesday. “The contamination of the atmosphere with ruthenium-106 isotope registered by Rosgidromet is not linked to the activity of Mayak,” a statement said…’
via The Guardian
‘Former Bosnian Serb army commander known as the ‘butcher of Bosnia’ sentenced to life imprisonment more than 20 years after Srebrenica massacre..’
via The Guardian
‘In a remote region of Antarctica known as Pine Island Bay, 2,500 miles from the tip of South America, two glaciers hold human civilization hostage.
Stretching across a frozen plain more than 150 miles long, these glaciers, named Pine Island and Thwaites, have marched steadily for millennia toward the Amundsen Sea, part of the vast Southern Ocean. Further inland, the glaciers widen into a two-mile-thick reserve of ice covering an area the size of Texas.
There’s no doubt this ice will melt as the world warms. The vital question is when.
The glaciers of Pine Island Bay are two of the largest and fastest-melting in Antarctica. (A Rolling Stone feature earlier this year dubbed Thwaites “The Doomsday Glacier.”) Together, they act as a plug holding back enough ice to pour 11 feet of sea-level rise into the world’s oceans — an amount that would submerge every coastal city on the planet. For that reason, finding out how fast these glaciers will collapse is one of the most important scientific questions in the world today.
To figure that out, scientists have been looking back to the end of the last ice age, about 11,000 years ago, when global temperatures stood at roughly their current levels. The bad news? There’s growing evidence that the Pine Island Bay glaciers collapsed rapidly back then, flooding the world’s coastlines — partially the result of something called “marine ice-cliff instability.”
The ocean floor gets deeper toward the center of this part of Antarctica, so each new iceberg that breaks away exposes taller and taller cliffs. Ice gets so heavy that these taller cliffs can’t support their own weight. Once they start to crumble, the destruction would be unstoppable…’
‘INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS like Comcast and Verizon may soon be free to block content, slow video-streaming services from rivals, and offer “fast lanes” to preferred partners. For a glimpse of how the internet experience may change, look at what broadband providers are doing under the existing “net neutrality” rules.
When AT&T customers access its DirecTV Now video-streaming service, the data doesn’t count against their plan’s data limits. Verizon, likewise, exempts its Go90 service from its customers’ data plans. T-Mobile allows multiple video and music streaming services to bypass its data limits, essentially allowing it to pick winners and losers in those categories.
Consumers will likely see more arrangements like these, granting or blocking access to specific content, if the Federal Communications Commission next month repeals Obama-era net neutrality rules that ban broadband providers from discriminating against lawful content providers. The commission outlined its proposed changes on Tuesday, and plans to publish them Wednesday. The proposal would also ban states from passing their own versions of the old rules. Because Republicans have a majority in the agency, the proposal will likely pass and take effect early next year.
Because many internet services for mobile devices include limits on data use, the changes will be visible there first. In one dramatic scenario, internet services would begin to resemble cable-TV packages, where subscriptions could be limited to a few dozen sites and services. Or, for big spenders, a few hundred. Fortunately, that’s not a likely scenario. Instead, expect a gradual shift towards subscriptions that provide unlimited access to certain preferred providers while charging extra for everything else…’
Oumuamua is the first observed interstellar asteroid. It was discovered on October 19 and is about 800 meters long. Oumuamua is simply paying our solar system a visit as it continues its journey across the Milky Way.
via Boing Boing
Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog agency is alleging that Trump administration officials violated federal court orders when implementing the first version of President Trump’s travel ban in January. And now, the agency says, administration officials are trying to keep the public from finding out the truth.
‘Research finds men who feel metaphorically impotent, and then assume a position of authority, are more likely to sexually harass subordinates…’
via Pacific Standard
Sandy Parakilas, operations manager on the platform team at Facebook in 2011 and 2012, writes:
‘I led Facebook’s efforts to fix privacy problems on its developer platform in advance of its 2012 initial public offering. What I saw from the inside was a company that prioritized data collection from its users over protecting them from abuse. As the world contemplates what to do about Facebook in the wake of its role in Russia’s election meddling, it must consider this history. Lawmakers shouldn’t allow Facebook to regulate itself. Because it won’t.
Facebook knows what you look like, your location, who your friends are, your interests, if you’re in a relationship or not, and what other pages you look at on the web. This data allows advertisers to target the more than one billion Facebook visitors a day. It’s no wonder the company has ballooned in size to a $500 billion behemoth in the five years since its I.P.O…’
via New York Times
‘…constantly keeping the government in the dark about suspicion-arousing information.
‘If you’ve never taken the time to think about how society grooms cult leaders like Manson, or if you just like fascinating stories of Hollywood’s dark underbelly, You Must Remember Manson is a can’t-miss series…’
‘Citing “five sources with knowledge of the conversation,” Buzzfeed News reports that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster called his commander-in-chief an “idiot” and a “dope” during a private dinner with Oracle CEO Safra Catz. Catz has had a notably close relationship with the Trump administration and denied the comments when asked by Buzzfeed…’
‘…[And he] isn’t the only member of Trump’s war cabinet who seems to feel that way.
Thanks for all your support through the years. We began eighteen years ago, in a galaxy far away. “I am the world crier, & this is my dangerous career… I am the one to call your bluff, & this is my climate.” —Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972)
Please write to offer suggestions or criticisms. What would you like to see more of, less of in the coming eighteen years here?
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‘..’For some time, scientists have been wondering if it would be possible to implant a device in the human brain that could improve its biological storage capacity. Now, scientists from USC have actually done it. Team member Dong Song presented their research this month at a Society of Neuroscience conference in Washington, D.C., according to New Scientist…’
via Big Think
You know you’ve always wanted to open one up.
via Mental Floss
Brett Talley…, 36, a Trump nominee for the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama has never tried a case in his life (he has written more horror novels than he’s tried cases). In fact, he has only practiced law for three years, spending the bulk of his time since law school as a clerk or working for Republican campaigns. The American Bar Association unanimously ruled him “unqualified,” only the fourth such rating since 1989 (and the second under President Donald Trump). He pledged his “support to the NRA [National Rifle Association]; financially, politically, and intellectually” in a 2013 blog post and told the Senate Judiciary Committee that despite the pledge, he would not commit to recuse himself from gun control cases. Talley declined to disclose to Congress, when asked for potential conflicts of interests, that his wife, Ann Donaldson, is not only a White House staffer but chief of staff to the White House counsel, whose office is in charge of picking judicial nominees.
Facebook deserves a lot of the flack it gets, be it for providing Russian propaganda with a platform or gradually eroding privacy norms. Still, it has some genuine usefulness. And while the single best way to keep your privacy safe on Facebook is to delete your account, taking these simple steps in the settings is the next best thing.
Remember, it’s not just friends of friends you need to think about hiding from; it’s an army of advertisers looking to target you not just on Facebook itself, but around the web, using Facebook’s ad platform. …[W]e’ll show you how to deal with both.
The gluten protein may not be the real reason for why many people experience bloating after eating wheat-containing food. Instead, a new study proposes fructan as the potential culprit for the sensitivity some are exhibiting.
As much as 13% of the population have bloating after eating gluten-containing foods and seek out alternatives. But perhaps, they should be looking for fructan-free products instead, say researchers from the University of Oslo in Norway and Monash University in Australia.
via Big Think
‘Physicists aren’t often reprimanded for using risqué humour in their academic writings, but in 1991 that is exactly what happened to the cosmologist Andrei Linde at Stanford University. He had submitted a draft article entitled ‘Hard Art of the Universe Creation’ to the journal Nuclear Physics B. In it, he outlined the possibility of creating a universe in a laboratory: a whole new cosmos that might one day evolve its own stars, planets and intelligent life. Near the end, Linde made a seemingly flippant suggestion that our Universe itself might have been knocked together by an alien ‘physicist hacker’. The paper’s referees objected to this ‘dirty joke’; religious people might be offended that scientists were aiming to steal the feat of universe-making out of the hands of God, they worried. Linde changed the paper’s title and abstract but held firm over the line that our Universe could have been made by an alien scientist. ‘I am not so sure that this is just a joke,’ he told me.
Fast-forward a quarter of a century, and the notion of universe-making – or ‘cosmogenesis’ as I dub it – seems less comical than ever. I’ve travelled the world talking to physicists who take the concept seriously, and who have even sketched out rough blueprints for how humanity might one day achieve it.’
via Big Think
‘When Charles Darwin laid out his theory of natural selection in 1859, little could he have imagined that, a good 150 years later, this cornerstone of evolutionary theory might help us form a mental picture of what alien life looks like. But that’s precisely how a group of researchers from Oxford University have done: In a research paper called “Darwin’s Aliens,” they’ve applied Darwin’s theory to alien life, positing that aliens–like humans–adapt to their environment, undergo natural selection, and move from simple to complex life forms. And, by the end, they could plausibly look something like a “colony of Ewoks from Star Wars or the Octomite” pictured above.’
via Open Culture
A liquid is traditionally defined as a material that adapts its shape to fit a container.
‘Minuscule blobs of human brain tissue have come a long way in the four years since scientists in Vienna discovered how to create them from stem cells.
The most advanced of these human brain organoids — no bigger than a lentil and, until now, existing only in test tubes — pulse with the kind of electrical activity that animates actual brains. They give birth to new neurons, much like full-blown brains. And they develop the six layers of the human cortex, the region responsible for thought, speech, judgment, and other advanced cognitive functions.
These micro quasi-brains are revolutionizing research on human brain development and diseases from Alzheimer’s to Zika, but the headlong rush to grow the most realistic, most highly developed brain organoids has thrown researchers into uncharted ethical waters. Like virtually all experts in the field, neuroscientist Hongjun Song of the University of Pennsylvania doesn’t “believe an organoid in a dish can think,” he said, “but it’s an issue we need to discuss.” …’
via Stat News
‘War deaths have increased dramatically in the modern era, new research contends, despite other statistics that suggest the risks of becoming a victim of violence have lessened.’
‘…We’ve certainly come a long way since the ancient Greek atomists speculated about the nature of material substance, 2,500 years ago. But for much of this time we’ve held to the conviction that matter is a fundamental part of our physical universe. We’ve been convinced that it is matter that has energy. And, although matter may be reducible to microscopic constituents, for a long time we believed that these would still be recognizable as matter—they would still possess the primary quality of mass.
Modern physics teaches us something rather different, and deeply counter-intuitive. As we worked our way ever inward—matter into atoms, atoms into sub-atomic particles, sub-atomic particles into quantum fields and forces—we lost sight of matter completely. Matter lost its tangibility. It lost its primacy as mass became a secondary quality, the result of interactions between intangible quantum fields. What we recognize as mass is a behavior of these quantum fields; it is not a property that belongs or is necessarily intrinsic to them.
Despite the fact that our physical world is filled with hard and heavy things, it is instead the energy of quantum fields that reigns supreme. Mass becomes simply a physical manifestation of that energy, rather than the other way around.’
Cosmologist Brian Keating:
‘You can’t prove a theory, but you can falsify alternatives to it. What’s raging right now in cosmology is the question of whether inflation is a theory. Is it science? Is it falsifiable? There are many eminent cosmologists and theoreticians, from Roger Penrose, Paul Steinhardt, and many others who are just as eminent as a physicist working on inflationary cosmology, who claim that not only is it not provable, it’s not even science because it cannot in principal be falsified.’
Source: Boing Boing
“When I saw the proofs of the paper it kind of blew my mind,” Nick Konidaris, Carnegie Institution for Science astronomer, told Gizmodo. “The notion that a star exploded in 1954, then left over enough material such that it could explode again, however many years later, really did not intuitively make sense to me.”
Junctional epidermolysis bullosa is the sort of rare disease you are probably lucky to have never heard of. An often lethal genetic condition, from infancy it plagues its victim with painful blisters all over the body that causes the skin to become extremely fragile.
In a major medical breakthrough, on Wednesday Italian researchers announced that they were able to almost entirely reconstruct the skin of a seven-year-old boy afflicted with JED—and they used gene therapy to do it.
It is a breakthrough that not only signals a potential curative treatment for a painful, heartbreaking disease, but demonstrates the great power that new technologies like gene therapy and stem cells may hold to address genetic conditions previously written off as hopeless.
‘The Virginia governor’s race was a referendum on Trump, and he lost. Badly.’
‘The gunman behind the worst mass shooting in Texas history escaped from a psychiatric hospital while he was in the Air Force, and was caught a few miles away by the local police, who were told that he had made death threats against his superiors and tried to smuggle weapons onto his base, a 2012 police report showed.
That episode, which came to light on Tuesday, was another in a series of red flags about the threat the gunman, Devin P. Kelley, posed to those around him. But none of the warnings stopped Mr. Kelley from legally purchasing several firearms, including the rifle he used to kill 26 people at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs on Sunday…’
via New York Times
But this is not an anomaly! I work in a psychiatric hospital and it is not the exception but the rule that there is no mechanism through which the fact of someone’s admission, or the determination that they are dangerous, is conveyed to any authority who might flag them if they later attempted to purchase a firearm!
A new study sheds light on ADHD, reporting teens with the disorder fit into one of three specific subgroups with distinct brain impairments and no common abnormalities between them.
I have long decried the maniacal overdiagnosis of ADHD by my colleagues. Of course, this leads to massive overprescribing of stimulant medication. In a bit of circular reasoning, the fact that someone’s mood or functioning often improves when they take stimulants is taken as confirmation of the diagnosis, ignoring the fact that almost anyone feels better when they take these medications. Furthermore, if a diagnosis represents a heterogeneous category, a medication which helps one subgroup may be seen as beneficial overall just by a statistical effect. It has long been clear to me that the ADHD diagnosis is used to explain a variety of unrelated difficulties in very different individuals; now there is some empirical confirmation. And let this stand as a broader challenge to one-size-fits-all diagnosis in psychiatry!
Each shooting supplants the previous one almost completely in media attention, memory and public discussion and we act as if it has been the only one. With the Texas church massacre, we have already lost sight of Las Vegas, and so on and so on. We act as if each of these incidents should be analyzed in its own terms. In so doing, no one asks why this has become nearly a weekly occurrence in the US and what the meaning of or explanation for the underlying generic phenomenon might be.
‘…Just when we thought we’d gotten rid of our fear of sharks, this behind-the-scenes footage of “Blue Planet II” pops up…’
Russell J Dalton writes:
While participation opportunities have broadly expanded, the skills and resources to utilise these new entryways are unevenly spread throughout the public. I describe a sizeable socio-economic status (SES) participation gap across all types of political action. A person’s education and other social status traits are very strong predictors of who participates.
‘…[W]ith Trump, it confirms a disparity that has been evident for decades: the looming, constant presence of his father, and the afterthought status of his mother…’
‘Over the past year, I stopped responding to customer surveys, providing user feedback or, mostly, contributing product reviews. Sometimes I feel obligated – even eager – to provide this information. Who doesn’t like being asked their opinion? But, in researching media technologies as an anthropologist, I see these requests as part of a broader trend making home life bureaucratic…’
Source: The Conversation