Month: July 2018

The 2020 Census Is in Trouble

NewImage‘From cybersecurity issues to administrative problems to a legal drama over a possible citizenship question, there are plenty of reasons to worry about the decennial head count….’

Via The Atlantic

Register with Donate Life. Please.

Jason Weinberger on Boing Boing:

‘A quick registration at Donate Life can turn hunks of your soulless cadaver into the greatest gift you’ll ever give.

In 2006 a heart donor gave my Uncle, Lee Krinsky, 12 more years of life. I can not tell you how much those 12 years meant to Lee, his wife Karen, our entire family, and a large community of people who loved him.

My Uncle Lee was the kind of Uncle who was always full of shit. As a kid it was great fun to listen to him tell stories. As an adult it was great fun to smoke a joint with him, and listen to him tell wild stories. One of the best was the story of his transplanted heart. Nothing about being a transplant recipient is easy, but Lee was always grateful, and knew he was living on gifted time. He had worn his old heart out.

You can line up to give that gift to someone else. Be it restoring vision, kidneys, liver or a beating heart — any parts you aren’t using any more are spare. As my Uncle Lee would say “Be a mensch” and sign up….’

No, you probably don’t have a book in you

A literary agent on why your good story isn’t likely to be a bestseller.

‘Has anyone ever said you should write a book? Maybe extraordinary things have happened to you, and they say you should write a memoir. Or you have an extremely vivid imagination, and they say you should write a novel. Maybe your kids are endlessly entertained at bedtime, and they say you should write a children’s book. Perhaps you just know how everything should be and imagine your essay collection will set the world straight. Everyone has a book in them, right? I hate to break it to you but everyone does not, in fact, have a book in them….’

Via The Outline

Scutoid: Scientists discover a strange new shape

NewImage‘Scientists have identified a new shape called the scutoid, a discovery that helps explain how cells arrange themselves in tightly packed three-dimensional structures that serve as protective barriers in the body.

The shape was discovered while a team of researchers was studying epithelial cells, which are the safety shields of the body that make up the cell walls lining our blood vessels and organs. As tissues and organs develop, epithelial cells squish together, twisting and turning into highly efficient and complex three-dimensional structures that help block microbes from entering our skin or organs.

But the shape of these cell structures has long been a mystery to scientists. Some have proposed they were shaped like prisms or cylinders, but a new paper published in Nature shows how scientists used computer modeling and imaging to settle the question once and for all….’

Via Big Think

The Peculiar Math That Could Underlie the Laws of Nature

NewImage

Cohl Furey, a mathematical physicist at the University of Cambridge, is finding links between the Standard Model of particle physics and the octonions, numbers whose multiplication rules are encoded in a triangular diagram called the Fano plane.

Via Wired

Frozen earthworm revived after 42,000 years in the permafrost

NewImageFrozen earthworm revived after 42,000 years in the permafrost / Boing Boing

‘Siberian roundworms frozen for millennia were thawed and are happily going about their business again, reports The Siberian Times.

One worm came from an ancient squirrel burrow in a permafrost wall of the Duvanny Yar outcrop in the lower reaches of the Kolyma River – close to the site of Pleistocene Park which is seeking to recreate the Arctic habitat of the extinct woolly mammoth, according to the scientific article published in Doklady Biological Sciences this week.

This is around 32,000 years old.

Another was found in permafrost near Alazeya River in 2015, and is around 41,700 years old….’

Via Boing Boing

A cooler ocean predator than sharks? Consider the mantis shrimps

NewImage‘When you think about fearsome predators in the ocean, the first thing that pops into your mind is probably a shark. Sure, sharks are OK, with their sleek, menacing shape and their gaping jaws with rows of jagged teeth. But if you were a fish living on a coral reef or cruising along the shore over the sands of a tropical island, you would fear a far more terrifying predator….’

Via The Conversation

Assassination Markets for Trump and Others Are On the Blockchain

NewImage‘Earlier this month, the non-profit Forecast Foundation launched its Augur protocol on the Ethereum network in a bid to create the first blockchain-based betting platform. Now, Augur is hosting several wagers where users bet on when a public figure will die, with a pot of digital money going to whoever makes the correct guess. This type of betting is referred to as an “assassination market” because it arguably incentivizes someone to guarantee a win by offing the person themselves.

On the Augur marketplace, Motherboard found open bets on the deaths of a number of public figures, including Betty White, Donald Trump, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett. Other events were also bet on as well, such as whether SpaceX will complete a crewed flight beyond Earth orbit this year. Most of these betting pools had few or no bets on the books at the time of writing, but some betting pools, including one predicting Donald Trump’s death this year, had dozens of trades.

These prediction pools are called assassination markets because they arguably incentivize bettors to make their predictions come true by taking matters into their own hands. Cryptoanarchist Jim Bell introduced the concept in a paper called “Assassination Politics” in the mid-1990s. Bell imagined that the anonymity afforded by modern encryption techniques and the advent of digital money would allow for political assassinations to be incentivized and carried out anonymously.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have arguably created a perfect environment for Bell’s assassination politics to take shape….’

Via Motherboard

Report: Trump’s Dumb Tweets Could Finally Add Up to Big Trouble

NewImage‘It feels like it was only a matter of time before Robert Mueller started investigating Donald Trump’s tweets. And it seems that time has come. The New York Times reports that the special counsel “is scrutinizing tweets and negative statements” from the president about James Comey and Jeff Sessions. Specifically, Mueller reportedly wants to know if Trump’s behavior adds up to obstruction of justice. Boy, there sure are a lot of tweets, too.

The Times report cites three anonymous sources who claim that Mueller is turning to Trump’s relentless remarks about Comey and Sessions, specifically those that relate to the investigation into Russian meddling into the 2016 election. Some of these statements could represent a pattern of intimidating witnesses and pressuring high level officials to stop investigating….’

Via Gizmodo

Will Climate Change Increase Suicide Rates?

NewImage‘Climate change is a public health crisis from its impacts on air quality to wiping out the healthcare systems we need to stave off sickness. Even the air conditioning we’ll need to beat the heat is likely to make things worse.

A new study published Monday in Nature Climate Change adds to the growing list of climate-related health threats, concluding that rising temperatures are likely to cause more suicides. The study showed that the increased heat could lead to as many as 40,000 additional suicides in the U.S. and Mexico by 2050 if global carbon emissions continue on their current trajectory….’

Via Earther

This May Be the Most Dangerous U.S. Volcano

‘Supervolcanoes sound terrifying, but the risks they pose don’t usually match their fearsome reputations. Yellowstone in particular often makes its way into headlines, as every earthquake swarm or change in geyser activity spawns unfounded rumors of an apocalyptic eruption.

However, ask a volcanologist where the real risk in the U.S. lurks, and there’s a good chance that they will turn their gaze to the Pacific Northwest.

Nestled among the Cascade mountain range sits Mount Rainier, a postcard-perfect natural wonder—and a volcano that causes scientists genuine concern. It’s unclear when it will stir from its long slumber, and there’s no sign that anything is imminent. Nevertheless, a future eruption could cause one of the worst natural disasters in the U.S. …’

Source: National Geographic

What happened the last time a President chose America’s enemies over its friends

Manisha Sinha, Draper Chair in American History at the University of Connecticut, writes:

‘ Donald Trump likes to compare himself to Andrew Jackson, but the Andrew he really resembles is Andrew Johnson. What they have in common are delusions of personal grandeur and a tainted ascent to the presidency. Trump was elected by a minority of the American electorate, with help from the vagaries of the Electoral College system and from considerable Russian interference.

Johnson became president thanks to an assassin’s bullet. While Johnson immodestly compared himself to Jesus and Moses, Trump claims he is the best at everything, even boasting recently on Twitter that his popularity among Republicans exceeds that of Abraham Lincoln.

Indeed, pundits have likened today’s partisan divisions to those of the Civil War era. But they more closely resemble the politics of Reconstruction, the period after the war when for the first time in history, an American president, Johnson, was impeached by the House of Representatives…’

Source: CNN

Guerilla campaign to save Wyoming grizzly bears underway

NewImage‘Renowned environmentalist and chimpanzee buddy Jane Goodall has her fingers crossed: she’s entered the lottery to win the right to kill a grizzly bear in the area of Yellowstone Park. That Wyoming’s allowing the bears to be hunted is a big deal. There’s been a moratorium on taking down a grizzly bear in Wyoming for the past 44 years. This year, the state is allowing 22 of them to be killed by hunters.

But, instead of taking down a furry behemoth so that she might eat its steaming heart to celebrate her kill, Goodall, and a growing number of other people, have a better idea of what to do if they win the right to shoot a grizzly: they’re advocating that folks take that shot with a camera instead of a gun.

Shoot ‘em With A Camera is a guerrilla campaign to undermine Wyoming’s bear hunt lottery system. The premise is simple: Apply to the bear hunt lottery for your chance to kill a magnificent creature. Then, should you win, instead of heading to the hills with a rifle, you head out with a camera. It’s a cheeky campaign and according to National Geographic, its gaining momentum, quickly….’

Via Boing Boing

Where to see the blood moon lunar eclipse on Friday July 27

NewImageCentury’s longest lunar eclipse:

‘The longest lunar eclipse of the century will be an incredible sight for a good part of the world, and the penumbra and umbra (partial and total eclipse) will be cast to mostly the Middle East, south and eastern Africa, western and southeast Asia, and finally India.

It happens when Earth casts its shadow onto the lunar surface as it passes between the sun and moon.

Alas, none of it will be visible in North America. You can, however, watch it as it happens, online at several locations: TimeAndDate.com has one, as does the Virtual Telescope Project….’

Via Big Think

“No Way to Run a Superpower”

ChumpThe Trump-Putin Summit and the Death of American Foreign Policy

‘We are witnessing nothing less than the breakdown of American foreign policy. This week’s extraordinary confusion over even the basic details of the Helsinki summit shows that all too clearly. We may not yet know what exactly Trump agreed to with Putin, or even if they agreed to anything at all; perhaps, it will turn out, Putin and his advisers have sprung another clever disinformation trap on Trump, misleading the world about their private meeting because a novice American President gave them an opening to do so. But, even if we don’t know the full extent of what was said and done behind closed doors in Helsinki, here’s what we already do know as a result of the summit: America’s government is divided from its President on Russia; its process for orderly decision-making, or even basic communication, has disintegrated; and its ability to lead an alliance in Europe whose main mission in recent years has been to counter and contain renewed Russian aggression has been seriously called into question….’

Susan Glasser in The New Yorker

The Biggest Spender of Political Ads on Facebook? Donald Drumpf

‘Trump and his political action committee spent $274,000 on ads on the social network since early May, outpacing the second-biggest spender, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood spent just over $188,000 on Facebook ads over the same period.

The ads bought by Mr. Trump and his PAC were also seen the most by Facebook’s users, having been viewed by at least 37 million people since May. That compared with 24 million people who saw the second-most viewed group of political ads, which were also from Planned Parenthood.

…Facebook now requires buyers of political ads on its network to be verified as United States citizens or permanent residents, to cut down on foreign interference. That means Facebook’s political ad archive largely provides a portrait of domestic activity, spotlighting both the digital ad buying of Democratic and Republican elected officials and political candidates, as well as nonprofit organizations, for-profit groups and PACs. The archive also shows how much these ads were actually consumed by the social network’s users….’

Via New York Times

Can Just a Whiff of Coffee Boost Performance?

NewImage‘A new study finds that the scent of coffee alone helped students perform better on the analytical portion of the Graduate Management Aptitude Test, or GMAT, a computer adaptive test required by many business schools. It also increased the participants’ expectations that they would do well on the test.

The findings are published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

“It’s not just that the coffee-like scent helped people perform better on analytical tasks, which was already interesting. But they also thought they would do better, and we demonstrated that this expectation was at least partly responsible for their improved performance,” said study leader Dr. Adriana Madzharov, a professor at Stevens School of Business.

In short, smelling the scent of coffee, which has no caffeine in it, has an effect similar to that of drinking coffee…’

Via Psych Central

The Ultimate Hedgehog?

NewImageGarrett Graff on how Rob Rosenstein’s behavior is informed by knowing what Mueller knows and where his investigation will lead:

‘Why would anyone put up with the abuse, vitriol, and daily haranguing from the president’s Twitter account that Rosenstein has endured? Why would Rosenstein seemingly set precedents that undermine the core principles of the Justice Department, an institution that he’s devoted nearly his entire career to serving?

…In a world of hedgehogs and foxes, Rosenstein today is the ultimate hedgehog.

Rosenstein knows one very big, monumental, history-shaping thing—how Trump’s presidency will end—and he’s wagered that if he can hang on long enough, justice will be done and the good guys, in his eyes, will win. His early actions, around Comey’s firing, will be vindicated by history when seen by the light of his bravery and personal sacrifice and refusal to be bullied into quitting, a move that would almost surely lead to Mueller’s investigation being shut down or circumscribed by whichever Trump appointee takes over supervising it next….’

Via Wired

Vox on Execrable Trump-Putin Meeting

NewImageTrump-Putin meeting in Helsinki: what we know is damning

‘Today, in Helsinki, the president of the United States held a friendly meeting with the Russian leader who sabotaged an American election on his behalf, and who has been rewarded by seeing American foreign policy pivot in a pro-Russian direction….’

Russian news editor explains how Putin turned Trump into his puppet

‘They consider him a stupid, unstrategic politician….’

Donald Trump isn’t confused about what collusion means

‘White House aides want you to believe the president stands with Putin because he doesn’t get what’s going on….’

Former CIA Director: Trump-Putin press conference “nothing short of treasonous”

 ‘John Brennan: “Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin.”…’

Putin doesn’t deny possessing compromising materials on his Chump

‘Yes, this is about the “pee tape.”…’

 

Trump’s presidency is illegitimate

Lucian K. Truscott IV writes that Mueller’s indictment of twelve Russian intelligence agents offers Prof Paige that the Kremlin stole the election for the Orange Menace:

‘It’s all right there in the indictment — day by day, hack by hack, theft by theft — how agents of the Russian intelligence service, the GRU, set out in the spring of 2016 to steal the election for Donald Trump. When you track the actions taken by Russian intelligence in the indictment with statements made by Trump and actions taken on his behalf by members of his campaign, the picture is as clear as an iPhone photo. Agents of the Russian government coordinated with members of the Trump campaign and took cues from Trump himself in order to influence the election of 2016…’

Source: Salon

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New South African Telescope Releases Epic Image of the Galactic Center

NewImage‘You’re looking at the center of our galactic home, the Milky Way, as imaged by 64 radio telescopes in the South African wilderness.

Scientists released this image today to inaugurate the completed MeerKAT radio telescope. But these scopes form part of an even more ambitious project: the Square Kilometer Array, a joint effort to build the world’s largest telescope, spanning the continents of Africa and Australia.

This image shows filaments of particles, structures that seem to exist in alignment with the galaxy’s central black hole. It’s unclear what causes these filaments. Maybe they are particles ejected by the spinning black hole; maybe they are hypothesized “cosmic strings;” and maybe they’re not unique, and there are other, similar structures waiting to be found, according to a 2017 release from Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics….’

Via Gizmodo

Made to suffer for her sins

NewImageAbortion, family separation, and how the Trump administration uses female pain as punishment.

‘The Trump administration’s policies on family separation and abortion are driven by one view: A woman’s pain is fitting punishment….’

Via Slate

The Bizarre Story of the Seattle Mystery Vending Machine

NewImage‘In the city of Seattle, Washington there exists a vending machine that over the years has become something of a local landmark amongst residents who are familiar with its mysterious history. Situated on the corner the John Street and 10th Avenue East in the bustling Capitol Hill neighbourhood, the seemingly ancient machine is well known for dispensing random, sometimes rare, cans of soda- a fact that’s made all the more intriguing when you consider that nobody seems to know who stocks the machine or where it came from….’

Via TodayIFoundOut

What is Novichok?

NewImageA neurotoxicologist explains:

‘Novichok has been implicated in the poisoning of two couples in Great Britain, causing the death of one woman. The chemical structures of Novichok agents are not known for sure, but they bind more tightly and rapidly to their enzyme target, called acetylcholinesterase, found in nerves and muscle cells than other nerve poisons such as sarin or tabun. This causes death within minutes by making normal nerve-muscle, nerve-gland, and nerve-heart function impossible.

The deaths have been attributed to Russia, either the country’s intelligence service or a rogue who obtained them illegally. Russia vehemently denies either involvement in the poisonings or development of the Novichok chemicals.

How long these chemical stay active is unknown, largely because they were developed illegally and in secret by Soviet and later Russian chemists as part of a program entitled “Foliant” designed to skirt the guidelines of the Chemical Weapons Convention signed with the United States, and to elude detection by weapons inspectors, according to a classified Pentagon report originally made public by The Washington Times. An article from the BBC speculates that the agent used in the Wiltshire poisonings in Britain could remain active for as long as 50 years.

Several factors make Novichok especially sinister.

First, the chemicals are reported by Soviet chemists to be the most potent agents ever made, with potency between 6-10 times higher than VX, the chemical used to kill the half brother of Kim Jong-Un, or sarin, the prototypical poisonous nerve gas the Iraqi government allegedly used in 1989, and which was used Syria last April. Thus extremely low doses, powder or liquid, the exact concentration of which remains unknown, are lethal.

More disturbing, especially for those living near the poisonings in Britain, is that the Novichok agents were designed to be undetectable by NATO chemical warfare detection methods, and to circumvent any NATO protective gear. This would allow them to be used with impunity by the Soviet Union (or Russia), against NATO troops. Professor Gary Stephens, quoted in the BBC News, concurred that the Novichok agents would be extremely difficult to detect. It would be equally difficult to clean up, because exactly which of the Novichok chemicals was used cannot be definitively determined.

Though Novichok agents have never yet been used on a battlefield, their sole purpose is for chemical warfare. Their mission: kill rapidly, silently and undetectably. Apparently, as seen in Britain, these chemists succeeded in their mission….’

Via The Conversation

A denunciation of Donald Trump – The Scotsman op-ed

 

NewImageDonald Trump, due to arrive in the UK later today, is a racist, a serial liar, and either a sex abuser or someone who falsely brags about being one in the apparent belief that this will impress other men in a metaphorical “locker room”.

To take each of these charges in turn, when black American football players protested against police shootings of innocent people of colour by refusing to stand for the national anthem, Trump said the players “maybe … shouldn’t be in the country”.

And when white supremacists, neo-Nazis and armed militia groups demonstrated in Charlottesville, Virginia, over plans to remove a statue of a Confederate general – and a counter-protester was killed and others injured as a car was driven deliberately into them – Mr Trump claimed there were “very fine people” on both sides.

Trump persistently pushed the lie that Barack Obama, the first African American president, was not born in the US.

He has called for “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”, claimed Mexican immigrants were rapists and criminals, said Nigerians would never go back to “their huts” after seeing the US and described African countries, along with El Salvador and Haiti, as “s***holes”.

Trump also argued that an Indiana-born judge handling a lawsuit against ‘Trump University’ was biased against him and unfit to take the case because he was a “Mexican”.

One of Trump’s favourite pastimes is decrying “fake news”.

But, according to one count by The Washington Post, the president lies an average of 6.5 times a day. The New York Times has also tried to make a definitive list of his numerous falsehoods.

In May, Rex Tillerson, sacked as US Secretary of State in a Trump tweet, warned: “If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.”

Before his presidency, Trump was recorded saying he was able to grope women whenever he liked because “when you’re a star they let you do it”.

When the tape emerged, Trump said his boast was untrue and just “locker room” talk. And when several women came forward to say he had done this to them, he insisted they were lying.

So, as British politicians hide their distaste in an attempt to get a much-needed post-Brexit trade deal, we should all remember what kind of man Trump really is.

 

Via The Scotsman

On Semicolons and the Rules of Writing

Writer Adam O’Fallon Price riffs on Kurt Vonnegut’s famous admonition against the use of semicolons. Vonnegut felt they are useless for any purpose except demonstrating pretension. Although Price concedes that, strictly speaking, one can make do with commas and periods instead — or, as he favors, the em-dash — he feels that semi-colons serve the useful purpose of connecting two related (“Independent but interdependent”) thoughts, maintaining more “cognitive rhythm” than if they were expressed as discrete sentences. 

The peak usage of the semicolon came between the mid-18th to the late-19th centuries, perhaps unsurprisingly as writing during that era involved long and elaborate sentences that feel too ornate to modern readers. Writers like Melville and Proust seemed to see as a virtue of the semicolon the ability to keep a sentence going. The modern shift toward shorter sentences and economy of storytelling (the “tautness” and “spareness” of prose almost universally touted as virtues by critics), and increasing brevity of personal communication, makes an outlier of anyone with an affection for the semicolon today. 

Via The Millions

I think my writing, especially the clinical notes I write in my psychiatric work, has a higher incidence of semicolons than almost anyone else I know. So am I archaic? Unskilled at clarity and simplicity in my prose? Burdened by tortured complexity? Or merely pretentious? Or do my semicolons help? 

A Buddhist Teacher’s 5 Ways to Resist

NewImageJan Willis is professor emerita of religion at Wesleyan University and  a visiting professor at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia. She has studied Buddhism with Tibetan teachers for more than forty years and is the author of the memoir Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist, and Buddhist:

‘Being pacifist is not the same as being passive, and being inspired by Buddhist wisdom does not mean that we close our minds and eyes to the rapid changes occurring around us in our society. Whenever anyone proposes to single out any specific category of people—whether by race, or gender, sexual orientation, or religious faith—and to propose a curb on those people’s freedom, that is the beginning of the end of an equitable democracy and the beginning of the slow slide into a loss of freedom for all. To ignore this fact is to deny many of the darkest moments of our history as human beings. On the other hand, a slow but growing acceptance of this state of affairs as being “normal” dooms everyone. It is necessary, therefore, that we keep our eyes opened.

What do we need to do in such dangerous and not-normal times? We need to be vigilant. We need to not normalize what is happening. And we need to not lose hope. If hope seems absent or lacking, we must act to bring it back. In fact, acting, I believe, is the only way to bring hope back. With hope, we can see ourselves as, once again, citizens; as ones with a rightful share in this country, its progress and its stewardship….’

Via Lion’s Roar

Miles Davis is not Mozart

NewImageThe brains of jazz and classical pianists work differently:

A musician’s brain is different to that of a non-musician. Making music requires a complex interplay of various abilities which are also reflected in more strongly developed brain structures. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig have recently discovered that these capabilities are embedded in a much more finely-tuned way than previously assumed—and even differ depending on the style of the music: They observed that the brain activity of jazz pianists differs from those of classical pianists, even when playing the same piece of music. This could give insight into the processes which generally take place while making music and which are specific for certain styles….’

Via Neuroscience Stuff

Donald Trump’s New Campaign Slogan Is From A Horror Movie

Bill Bradley writes:

‘To understand this saga, you need to go back to January 2017, when The Washington Post reported that Trump had revealed his new campaign.

“‘Keep America Great,’ exclamation point,” he told the paper, seemingly off the cuff.

According to the Post, Trump called a lawyer in during the interview to trademark and register two different “Keep America Great” slogans ― one with an exclamation point and one without ― on the spot. “Got it,” the lawyer replied, and business seemed to be handled.

The only problem? Apparently unbeknownst to Trump, his lawyer and The Washington Post, the slogan had already appeared in a poignantly titled 2016 horror movie: “The Purge: Election Year.” By using “Keep America Great” in its promotional materials, “Purge: Election Year” ― which, like its franchise predecessors, centers on the one night a year when people can legally murder the hell out of each other as an act of radical catharsis ― seemingly mocked Trump’s “Make America Great Again” phrase, effectively likening Trump’s America to its cinematic nightmare.

Two years later, Trump’s re-election campaign is actually trying to use “Keep America Great” itself, even though the horror movie connection went comically viral soon after the Washington Post interview. …’

Source: HuffPost

Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It.

Cal Newport, Deep Work author, writes:

‘The idea of purposefully introducing into my life a service designed to fragment my attention is as scary to me as the idea of smoking would be to an endurance athlete, and it should be to you if you’re serious about creating things that matter. …’

Source: The New York Times op-ed

When It’s Too Late to Stop Fascism, According to Stefan Zweig

Austrian writer Stefan Zweig fled Nazism, eventually taking his life in despair and loneliness. His biographer, George Prochnik, writes:

‘I wonder how far along the scale of moral degeneration Zweig would judge America to be in its current state. We have a magnetic leader, one who lies continually and remorselessly—not pathologically but strategically, to placate his opponents, to inflame the furies of his core constituency, and to foment chaos. The American people are confused and benumbed by a flood of fake news and misinformation. Reading in Zweig’s memoir how, during the years of Hitler’s rise to power, many well-meaning people “could not or did not wish to perceive that a new technique of conscious cynical amorality was at work,” it’s difficult not to think of our own present predicament. Last week, as Trump signed a drastic immigration ban that led to an outcry across the country and the world, then sought to mitigate those protests by small palliative measures and denials, I thought of one other crucial technique that Zweig identified in Hitler and his ministers: they introduced their most extreme measures gradually—strategically—in order to gauge how each new outrage was received. “Only a single pill at a time and then a moment of waiting to observe the effect of its strength, to see whether the world conscience would still digest the dose,” Zweig wrote. “The doses became progressively stronger until all Europe finally perished from them.”

And still Zweig might have noted that, as of today, President Trump and his sinister “wire-pullers” have not yet locked the protocols for their exercise of power into place. One tragic lesson offered by “The World of Yesterday” is that, even in a culture where misinformation has become omnipresent, where an angry base, supported by disparate, well-heeled interests, feels empowered by the relentless lying of a charismatic leader, the center might still hold. In Zweig’s view, the final toxin needed to precipitate German catastrophe came in February of 1933, with the burning of the national parliament building in Berlin–an arson attack Hitler blamed on the Communists but which some historians still believe was carried out by the Nazis themselves. “At one blow all of justice in Germany was smashed,” Zweig recalled. The destruction of a symbolic edifice—a blaze that caused no loss of life—became the pretext for the government to begin terrorizing its own civilian population. That fateful conflagration took place less than thirty days after Hitler became Chancellor. The excruciating power of Zweig’s memoir lies in the pain of looking back and seeing that there was a small window in which it was possible to act, and then discovering how suddenly and irrevocably that window can be slammed shut. …’

Source: The New Yorker

10 Stages of Genocide

Prof. Gregory Stanton, of the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, writes of the ten predictable and recognizable stages in the development of genocide in any society, listing preventive measures that can stop it at every stage.Source: Genocide Watch (via kottke).

Good, Clean Satanism

Mitch Horowitz in Medium on why it’s more nuanced, more meaningful and less literal than you think.

Reports of the demise of liberalism are greatly exaggerated

NewImageDaniel Cole (professor of law and public and environmental affairs at Indiana University in Bloomington) and Aurelian Craiutu (professor of political science and adjunct professor of American studies at Indiana University in Bloomington):

‘Scholars and statesmen have been declaring liberalism dead or in deep crisis for at least a century and a half. A review of the many deaths of liberalism might have something to teach us about what, in fact, is happening in the world today….’

Via Aeon