Month: April 2019

Are American Progressives Making The Same Mistakes About Trump We Did About Thatcher?

NewImageBrian Dooley:

’Choosing the right candidate to beat Trump is obviously a massively important decision, but American progressives look like they’re making the same mistakes that we on the left in Britain made in the 1980s in responding to Margaret Thatcher.
At the age of 16 I campaigned in the 1979 general election against Thatcher. Despite my endearing appeals across hundreds of doorsteps, she won, ushering in 18 years of continuous Conservative Party rule.
During the early 1980s I was a local Labour Party activist in Britain, and like many others on the left responded to Thatcher’s win by deriding those who had voted for her. It’s a mistake I see happening in America now.
We thought we would win by making it socially unacceptable to support Thatcher, and we focused on proving how uncool it was to vote Conservative. We called Thatcher supporters much worse things than deplorables, and felt good mocking their narrow nationalism.…’

Via Medium

Link

‘…The work appeared at the site which had been occupied by climate activists since protests began in the capital almost two weeks ago…’

Via The Guardian

Leading the charge away from apocalypse paralysis.

Could Don McGahn lead a Trump exodus?

Republican lawyers may be readying jump from sinking ship:

‘…The founders had in mind that the three branches would jealously guard their own prerogatives, so it would be unlikely they would ever allow a president to defy them as blatantly as Trump is doing. Obviously, they didn’t expect such slavish devotion from a president’s allies as we see in the current Congress.

There is one faction of the Republican party that may be peeling off, however, and it’s the faction that Trump has been counting on to keep the Democrats at bay. I’m speaking of conservative lawyers, some of whom seem to feel a bit queasy about what they saw in the Mueller report and Trump’s reaction to it…’

Via Salon

Insulin prices are killing people

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’“Nobody cared or nobody understood that without this next vial of insulin, I wouldn’t live to see another week,” said 28-year-old Kristen Whitney Daniels.

She started rationing her insulin after she was kicked off her parents’ insurance plan two years ago.

“I can’t really explain how isolating and how terrifying it is,” she said.

She’s now a patient at the Yale Diabetes Center, where a recent Journal of American Medical Association study found one in four patients reported “cost-related underuse.” Dr. Kasia Lipska treats patients at the clinic, and was the study’s lead author. She testified on Capitol Hill last week.

“This vial of insulin cost just $21 when it first came on the market in 1996. It now costs $275,” she said.…’

Via Boing Boing

A Short Summary of the Contemporary Republican Party’s Strategy

Images’In a recent interview, Noam Chomsky gave a short summary of how the modern Republican Party coalition between the rich and the religious, white working class was built, decade by decade.

They have a primary constituency, a real constituency: extreme wealth and corporate power. That’s who they have to serve. That’s their constituency. You can’t get votes that way, so you have to do something else to get votes. What do you do to get votes? This was begun by Richard Nixon with the Southern strategy: try to pick up racists in the South. The mid–1970s, Paul Weyrich, one of the Republican strategists, hit on a brilliant idea. Northern Catholics voted Democratic, tended to vote Democratic, a lot of them working-class. The Republicans could pick up that vote by pretending — crucially, “pretending” — to be opposed to abortion. By the same pretense, they could pick up the evangelical vote. Those are big votes — evangelicals, northern Catholics. Notice the word “pretense.” It’s crucial. You go back to the 1960s, every leading Republican figure was strongly, what we call now, pro-choice. The Republican Party position was — that’s Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, all the leadership — their position was: Abortion is not the government’s business; it’s private business — government has nothing to say about it. They turned almost on a dime in order to try to pick up a voting base on what are called cultural issues.

Same with gun rights. Gun rights become a matter of holy writ because you can pick up part of the population that way. In fact, what they’ve done is put together a coalition of voters based on issues that are basically, you know, tolerable to the establishment, but they don’t like it. OK? And they’ve got to hold that, those two constituencies, together. The real constituency of wealth and corporate power, they’re taken care of by the actual legislation…

Appealing to those fears and issues has been very effective and has been joined in recent years by conservatives and conservative media eroding trust in many of America’s familiar institutions, such as the scientific community, journalism, and government (some of which erosion, to be fair, has been self-inflicted). Keep in mind that as recently as 10 years ago, Republicans believed in climate science until their constituency (aka the wealthy industrialists) steered them away from that path.…’

Via Kottke

Why Traffic Flow Suddenly Morphs into Traffic Jam

UnknownNot one driver’s fault, but everybody’s:

’…[P]hantom jams are not the fault of individual drivers, but result instead from the collective behavior of all drivers on the road. It works like this. Envision a uniform traffic flow: All vehicles are evenly distributed along the highway, and all drive with the same velocity. Under perfect conditions, this ideal traffic flow could persist forever. However, in reality, the flow is constantly exposed to small perturbations: imperfections on the asphalt, tiny hiccups of the engines, half-seconds of driver inattention, and so on. To predict the evolution of this traffic flow, the big question is to decide whether these small perturbations decay, or are amplified.

If they decay, the traffic flow is stable and there are no jams. But if they are amplified, the uniform flow becomes unstable, with small perturbations growing into backwards-traveling waves called “jamitons.” These jamitons can be observed in reality, are visible in various types of models and computer simulations, and have also been reproduced in tightly controlled experiments.…’

Via Nautilus

George Conway Has A Biting New Nickname For Wife’s Boss

ImagesGeorge Conway appears to have come up with a brand-new scathing nickname for President Donald Trump.

The conservative attorney and frequent Trump critic, who is married to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, on Thursday repeatedly called his wife’s boss “Deranged Donald.” It seemed to have stuck, with the hashtag #DerangedDonald trending on Twitter.

Conway used the mocking moniker in a series of tweets in which he criticized Trump and also took a swipe at widely watched conservative cable network Fox News, whose prime time hosts staunchly defend the president…’

Via HuffPost

How angry pilots got the Navy to stop dismissing UFO sightings

UnknownNavy drafts reporting guidelines:

’A recent uptick in sightings of unidentified flying objects — or as the military calls them, “unexplained aerial phenomena” — prompted the Navy to draft formal procedures for pilots to document encounters, a corrective measure that former officials say is long overdue.

As first reported by POLITICO, these intrusions have been happening on a regular basis since 2014. Recently, unidentified aircraft have entered military-designated airspace as often as multiple times per month, Joseph Gradisher, spokesman for office of the deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare, told The Washington Post on Wednesday. Citing safety and security concerns, Gradisher vowed to “investigate each and every report.” He said, “We want to get to the bottom of this. We need to determine who’s doing it, where it’s coming from and what their intent is. We need to try to find ways to prevent it from happening again.”

Luis Elizondo, a former senior intelligence officer, told The Post that the new Navy guidelines formalized the reporting process, facilitating data-driven analysis while removing the stigma from talking about UFOs, calling it “the single greatest decision the Navy has made in decades.”

[The government admits it studies UFOs. So about those Area 51 conspiracy theories …]…’

Via The Washington Post

Are our blueberries radioactive?

2362The fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 30 years on:

’Chernobyl was the worst nuclear accident in human history and its legacy is still being felt today. The public is often led to believe that the exclusion zone, a depopulated 20-mile circle around the blown plant, safely contained Chernobyl radioactivity. But there is a second zone in southern Belarus. In it, people lived for 15 years in levels of contamination as high as areas within the official zone until the area was finally abandoned in 1999.

That is just one of the things Kate Brown discovered during the 10 years she spent interviewing doctors, scientists and international officials involved in the Chernobyl disaster and scouring over 20 archives to unearth never-before-seen documents. She talks to Anushka Asthana about the impact of international organisations lying about the disaster and why we should be asking far more questions about the global health effects of radioactivity as we enter a new nuclear age.…’

Via The Guardian (podcast)

Mueller Makes It Clear: Trump Was Worse Than a ‘Useful Idiot’

Security Trump Mueller report 1137877403’After selling himself to American voters as the great negotiator and dealmaker, maybe Donald Trump was simply too embarrassed by the truth: He’d been taken advantage of, deeply and systemically, by everyone around him, including by Russia and Vladimir Putin and by his own staff. During the campaign, they grifted him without his knowledge. In the White House, they simply ignored him.

The bottom line of the Mueller report is that if Trump wasn’t guilty of conspiracy, he was simply conned by everyone around him. To a man as egotistical as he is, the reality that everyone was in on the con but him might hurt more than Mueller’s handcuffs.…’

Read article at WIRED

 

Related: Mueller’s report: A profile of a president willing to sell out his country (Salon.com)

Is Prison Necessary? Ruth Wilson Gilmore Might Change Your Mind

21mag gilmore slideshow slide GMHQ superJumbo v3In three decades of advocating for prison abolition, the activist and scholar has helped transform how people think about criminal justice.

’Instead of asking whether anyone should be locked up or go free, why don’t we think about why we solve problems by repeating the kind of behavior that brought us the problem in the first place? [We should] consider why, as a society, we would choose to model cruelty and vengeance.…’

Read article at The New York Times Magazine

Why Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue” Is So Beloved

Why miles daviss kind of blue is so beloved 1050x700’Legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis recorded the second and final session of his seminal album Kind of Blue on April 22nd, 1959. It remains the best-selling jazz album of all time. Its unforgettable solos by Davis, tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, and pianist Bill Evans create an ethereal atmosphere; the album continues to be one of the most beloved records in jazz.

Kind of Blue popularized a new approach to improvisation. Rather than basing its five tunes on a rigid framework of changing chords, as was conventional for post-bop music, Davis and Evans wrote pieces with a more limited set of scales in different modes. “Modes” maintain the basic intervals of an underlying major or minor scale, but move the tonic (first note) to one of its other notes, creating different moods or coloration. As this detailed video on modal jazz by Polyphonic explains, this creates a more open network of harmonic relationships. Davis and Evans’s “cooler” approach shifts the musical emphasis from “harmonic rhythm” of post-bop jazz, toward the melodic inventiveness of individual players.

The modal approach to jazz became so popular it changed the way jazz was taught and analyzed.
The modal approach to jazz became so popular it changed the way jazz was taught and analyzed. This has justified the significance of the album for many players and aficionados. Music scholar Samuel Barrett argues, however, that this narrative oversimplifies both the way Kind of Blue was composed and performed, and its true cultural impact.…’

Read article at JSTOR Daily

Extinction symbol

440px Extinction Symbol svg’The Extinction Symbol was created in January 2011 by ESP, an artist from London whose identity is kept secret.[1] It represents the Holocene or Sixth Mass Extinction.

The symbol is described on the Extinction Symbol website as “The circle signifies the planet, while the hourglass inside serves as a warning that time is rapidly running out for many species.”

After its creation the symbol gradually attracted an online following amongst environmentalists and activists. It came to be used by environmental action group Extinction Rebellion, created in 2018, and has been sprayed in removable chalk paint on government buildings during actions to raise environmental awareness in the UK. The aims of Extinction Rebellion go beyond species extinction, including climate change and other issues that could lead to human extinction.…’

Via Wikipedia

Does Mueller’s report create a “constitutional duty” to impeach Trump?

GettyImages 639918664 0Ezra Klein:

’As I understand the House Democrats’ plan, it’s to use the Mueller report to launch investigations, send out subpoenas, and hold public hearings. All of that could lead to revelations that tilt the public toward impeachment, it could prove that the public doesn’t consider these revelations important enough to merit impeachment, or it could simply inform the public to help them make a decision in the 2020 election.

Either way, it keeps the focus on Trump’s crimes and his lies, rather than overwhelming that conversation with a debate over removing Trump from office at a time when there’s no prospect of marshaling the votes to actually remove him from office. It seems like a reasonable strategy to me.…’

Read article in Vox

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Wallace Stevens

Kate Stanley:

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’CAN POEMS TEACH US how to live? What does it mean to approach poetry as a source of self-help? It’s not hard to call to mind examples of poetry that rouse or soothe or refocus a reader, lifting or quieting the mind like a deep breath. Yet much of the poetry encountered in literature classrooms and canonical anthologies may not readily reflect the self that is reading it, and therefore may not readily become a tool of self-improvement. The work of many modernist poets in particular is placed under the banner of “art for art’s sake,” a motto meant to explicitly free such poetry from the responsibility of serving a didactic or utilitarian function. The poems of Wallace Stevens, for instance, are frequently taken to epitomize the kind of high modernist difficulty that in its slippery symbology and ambiguous affect would seemingly resist being reliably employed for any useful purpose.
But Joan Richardson’s How to Live, What to Do: Thirteen Ways of Looking at Wallace Stevens emphatically asserts the practical use-value of poetic difficulty. As is suggested by Richardson’s title (which borrows from a Stevens poem), Stevens is in fact concerned above all with improving the daily lives of his readers.…’

Via Los Angeles Review of Books

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

I

Among twenty snowy mountains,

The only moving thing

Was the eye of the blackbird.

II

I was of three minds,

Like a tree

In which there are three blackbirds.

III

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.

It was a small part of the pantomime.

IV

A man and a woman

Are one.

A man and a woman and a blackbird

Are one.

V

I do not know which to prefer,

The beauty of inflections

Or the beauty of innuendoes,

The blackbird whistling

Or just after.

VI

Icicles filled the long window

With barbaric glass.

The shadow of the blackbird

Crossed it, to and fro.

The mood

Traced in the shadow

An indecipherable cause.

VII

O thin men of Haddam,

Why do you imagine golden birds?

Do you not see how the blackbird

Walks around the feet

Of the women about you?

VIII

I know noble accents

And lucid, inescapable rhythms;

But I know, too,

That the blackbird is involved

In what I know.

IX

When the blackbird flew out of sight,

It marked the edge

Of one of many circles.

X

At the sight of blackbirds

Flying in a green light,

Even the bawds of euphony

Would cry out sharply.

XI

He rode over Connecticut

In a glass coach.

Once, a fear pierced him,

In that he mistook

The shadow of his equipage

For blackbirds.

XII

The river is moving.

The blackbird must be flying.

XIII

It was evening all afternoon.

It was snowing

And it was going to snow.

The blackbird sat

In the cedar-limbs.

— Wallace Stevens (1954)

Behold, the face of a Neolithic dog

UnknownRecreated using an ancient skull:

’A forensic artist in Scotland has made a hyper realistic model of an ancient dog based on the skull of a dog dug up in Orkney, Scotland, which lived and died 4,000 years ago.
The model gives us a glimpse of some of the first dogs humans befriended.…’

Via Big Think

Link

Andrew Sullivan wrote:

‘We have a president who is an instinctual criminal and liar, who threatens the integrity of our justice system and of our democratic elections, who is incapable of understanding the rule of law, backed by an attorney general who just outright distorted the findings of the special counsel.

What more do we need to know? To refuse to use the one weapon the Founders gave us to remove such a character from office is more than cowardice. It is complicity. It is a surrender to forces which aim to make the world safe for authoritarianism. It may not work. But if we acquiesce, pretend it isn’t happening, or look away, it cannot work. This disgusting man is not just a cancer in the presidency. His presidency is a cancer in our Constitution and way of life. How long do we let this metastasize even further? How long before we take a stand? Mueller has given us the road map. He has done his duty. Now it’s our turn to do ours: “to support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

There is no qualification in that oath of citizenship.

Impeach Trump now….’

Read article at New York Mag

Creative Thinking and Complex Psychology in Crime Fiction

Heather Gudenkauf writes:

‘It’s a delicate and challenging endeavor for a writer to honestly, accurately and respectfully portray brain differences in fictional characters. Below are ten masterfully told works of psychological suspense, featuring protagonists with exceptional psychological characteristics. These heroes and heroines use their cognitive gifts to navigate challenging and oftentimes dangerous circumstances and along the way give readers insight into other, creative ways of thinking….’

Read article at CrimeReads

Mueller report: the case Trump obstructed justice, in one paragraph

Unknown’In short, Mueller did not find evidence that Trump directly colluded with Russia to interfere with the 2016 election — so he probably wasn’t obstructing justice to cover up a secret plot with the Russians.

But that doesn’t exonerate Trump; it’s possible Trump still tried to obstruct an investigation against him just because it might make him, his campaign, or his family look bad or guilty of other crimes. (Crucially, obstruction of justice doesn’t necessarily require an underlying crime.)…’

Via Vox

Mueller report release: Trump called appointment “end of my presidency”

135785184 jpg 0’Upon hearing he would be investigated, Trump’s first reaction was, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.” This is according to the notes kept by Jody Hunt, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s chief of staff.

That exclamation, so far, appears to have been incorrect. The report does not recommend impeachment of Trump or urge his resignation, and as of this writing, it appears unlikely to lead to either. But it’s a startling first response to the news from the president.…’

Via Vox

Are animals conscious beings and is there evidence of that?

UnknownUnknown’Consciousness has long been difficult to define, whether you’re a biologist, neuroscientist, or philosopher. So Frans de Waal looks at what actions humans take that require conscious thought. Comparing them to actions in certain animals suggests consciousness is not a human trait alone.…’

Via Big Think

What it’s like to watch someone you love fall down the Fox News rabbit-hole

Unknown’Luke O’Neil put a call out for his readers’ stories of their loved ones’ capture by Fox News, being overtake by its paranoid, racist conspiracy mindset: he got back a heartbreaking collection of tales of “funny, compassionate” older relatives turning into someone who was “increasingly angry, bigoted, and paranoid” – some people even found their older relatives dead in front of a TV playing Fox.

The stories mostly involve people who saw themselves as “conservative” but who kept any kind of racial animus or other socially unacceptable views to themselves, but whose conservative worldviews were deepened and weaponized, in part by sprawling and aggressive direct-mail ad campaigns for quack remedies, prepper supplies, gold bullion, and so on.

Many of the people transformed by Fox seemed to begin their transformation in 2008, with the election of America’s first Black president, and at the dawn of the financial crisis, when the slow upward redistribution of America’s wealth to the 1% took a precipitous leap.…’

Via Boing Boing

Reaction of the rich to the Notre Dame fire teaches us a lot about the world we live in

Gettyimages 1137479452’If two men in a world of more than 7 billion people can provide €300million to restore Notre Dame, within six hours, then there is enough money in the world to feed every mouth, shelter every family and educate every child. The failure to do so is a matter of will, and a matter of system.

The failure to do so comes from our failure to recognise the mundane emergencies that claims lives all around us every single day. Works of art and architectural history and beauty rely on the ingenuity of people, and it is people who must be protected above all else.

Brick and mortar and stained-glass might burn, but they do not bleed, and they do not starve, and they do not suffer. Humans suffer. Everywhere in the world, from Paris to Persepolis, people are suffering. But their suffering is every day. It does not light up a front page, and it does not inspire immediate donations from the world’s wealthiest men.…’

Via JOE

Empathy Might Not Be the Antidote To Poisonous Political Polarization

Invisibilia empathy 08f5be3ee2f41bfc617bdd59bd38fafe0e825b0f s1600 c85In fact, it might reinforce tribalism:

’Researchers who study empathy have noticed that it’s actually really hard to do what we were striving for in my generation: empathize with people who are different than you are, much less people you don’t like. But if researchers set up a conflict, people get into automatic empathy overdrive, with their own team. This new research has scrambled notions of how empathy works as a force in the world. For example, we often think of terrorists as shockingly blind to the suffering of innocents. But Breithaupt and other researchers think of them as classic examples of people afflicted with an “excess of empathy. They feel the suffering of their people.”

Breithaupt called his new book The Dark Sides of Empathy, because there’s a point at which empathy doesn’t even look like the kind of universal empathy I was taught in school. There is a natural way that empathy gets triggered in the brain — your pain centers light up when you see another person suffering. But out in the world it starts to look more like tribalism, a way to keep reinforcing your own point of view and blocking out any others.…’

Via NPR

I’m not really surprised at this finding, as I think connections to our in-group are evolutionarily hardwired and empathy is the currency for those affiliations. But it inherently entails excluding the Other. The conceit of universal empathy attempts to force the human round peg into the square hole. 

Florida Man Killed by World’s Most Dangerous Bird

1555348076273 797px Cassowary head frontal

’A Florida man was killed by “the world’s most dangerous bird” last Friday, becoming one of the few known cases of death-by-cassowary in modern history.

The victim was identified as Martin Hajos, a 75-year-old man who owned a farm near Alachua, according to the Gainesville Sun. On Friday morning, Hajos was rushed to UF Health Shands Hospital “under a trauma alert,” and later succumbed to undescribed injuries.

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“He was doing what he loved,” said a woman who claimed that Hajos was her fiance.

Emergency responders said that Hajos was killed by a cassowary, a large and flightless relative of the emu with a dangerous reputation and, most notably, weaponized feet punctuated by talons up to five inches long.

Cassowaries are ratites, belonging a group of birds characterized by their inability to fly. Native to tropical forests in Australia and New Guinea, they can reach heights of more than five feet and weigh up to 135 pounds.

“It looks like it was accidental,” Alachua County Fire Rescue deputy chief Jeff Taylor told the Gainesville Sun about the incident. “My understanding is that the gentleman was in the vicinity of the bird and at some point fell. When he fell, he was attacked.”…’

Via Motherboard

Ariana Grande’s PTSD Brain Scan

AgbrainPseudoscience and Psychobabble:

’The brain became a celebrity this week when Ariana Grande shared the results of a scan of her brain seemingly showing signs of severe PTSD:

Is there any science behind this?

Not really.

The source of the scan isn’t clear but I’m 99% sure that the image was taken at one of Dr Daniel Amen‘s controversial clinics. Amen uses similar graphics in his brain scans. If it is an Amen scan, then the ‘blobs’ seen on Grande’s brain represent areas of increased or decreased cerebral blood flow (CBF) as assessed using a method called SPECT. SPECT is a fairly old neuroimaging methodology that forms the heart of Amen’s network of clinics.

Bear in mind that the blobs on an image like this are statistical illustrations. A scan like this is not a photograph or x-ray of structural changes, and without knowing the context in which the scan was taken and the methods used to analyze it, it doesn’t mean much.

Most psychiatrists and neuroscientists would not use SPECT or any other type of brain scan to diagnose PTSD. Dr Amen claims to be able to do so, and in 2015 published a paper reporting on this, but I wouldn’t put much faith in it.…’

Via Neuroskeptic

Raffi, the King of Children’s Music, Takes on Trump

10 raffi w700 h467 2x’If you grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, have children, or have ever been to a kid’s birthday party, then you’ve probably heard the Canadian crooner’s timeless bangers “Baby Beluga” and “Banana Phone.”

Raffi’s saccharine melodies and lyrics actually read like discrete guides on how to live and love with dignity, starting at childhood. With an adult’s ear, the chorus of Raffi’s biggest hit — “Baby beluga in the deep blue sea / Swim so wild and you swim so free” — appears to be about learning how to individuate while still feeling safe and held by your caretakers. It’s a valuable message, even for adults. The last line of “Everything Grows,” an ode to the universality of the life cycle, is, “Mamas do and papas too / everything grows.” It’s a subtle reminder to parents that while we may be done with the physical part of our growth, emotional growth is a lifelong journey.

But learning to live with dignity means learning about what it’s like to live without it and the nefarious forces that try to take it away. … In recent months, the 70-year-old singer has gained a bit of attention for his active, politically engaged Twitter feed where many posts are accompanied with the dissenter’s slogan du jour: #Resist and #ResistFacism. Raffi’s outspokenness around Trump and his policies goes back to when he was elected. Just last week the singer called Trump unfit for office, racist, and misogynistic. In December he said we must “fight fascism with everything we’ve got.” Seemingly trite, the addition of Raffi’s voice to the American political landscape is actually invaluable — the singer-songwriter is the premier emissary for children and his positions carry with them an incredible weight. And the children, after all, are the future.…’

Via New York

Moving Day at the Hells Angels Clubhouse

1920px Hells Angels clubhouse East VillageAfter 50 years, Angels vacate notorious Greenwich Village headquarters brownstone for new digs in former Baptist church on Long Island.

’“The parties used to be great,” Nancy said. “Until the explosion.” In 1990, a garbage-can firecracker killed a fourteen-year-old boy. Over the years, the East Village Angels both caused and prevented mayhem. In 1994, the Times characterized this mayhem, part “lore and part police reports,” as “countless decibel-cranking parties, LSD-laced misadventures, drug deals, orgies and random acts of violence against passers-by.” In recent years, parking-space tussles resulted in beatings and a shooting; a woman who pounded on the door, screaming, was badly beaten. In 1978, the chapter president, Vincent (Big Vinny) Girolamo, of plaque fame, allegedly pushed his girlfriend off the roof, to her death. (He died, of stab wounds, before he could stand trial.) Innumerable bad vibes were doled out after unwanted bench-sitting, dog-peeing, and photography incidents. But, from the scuzz era to the N.Y.U.-and-condos era, club members also defended their neighbors; the Angels’ block was considered the safest around.

“I haven’t heard anybody say ‘Good riddance,’ ” Janet said.

“I’ll miss the way they decorated at Christmas,” Nancy said.

“They used to break people’s cameras,” Janet said. In the Instagram age, unwanted photography had skyrocketed.…’

Via The New Yorker (thanks to Boing Boing)

First black hole picture: The big mysteries we still need to solve

Leah Crane writes:

‘The first ever image of a black hole, released on Wednesday, raises several important questions. For a start, we don’t know where exactly the light in the image comes from. Next, can we get a similarly good image of Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the centre of our galaxy? It is changing more quickly than the newly pictured black hole, so getting a clean image is more challenging. Finally, can these images help us understand how general relativity and quantum mechanics fit together? …’

Source: New Scientist

Related: An Astrophysicist on on What the Black Hole Image Reveals:

15943 607093fb70318b813d0e9b8531916fbePankaj Joshi:

’Strictly speaking, the system did not see an event horizon, which cannot be seen by definition. Furthermore, although an event horizon necessarily implies a shadow and silhouette, the converse is not true. Nonetheless the observations are still so precise that whatever is casting the shadow must be exotic. No ordinary body could be so small and yet so dark and so massive. A black hole is now the most conservative conclusion. If it is not a black hole, it might be a naked singularity, a type of immensely dense object that I have studied, and that would make a black hole look rather mundane.…’

Via Nautilus

Dutch F-16 flies into its own bullets, scores self-inflicted hits

2019 04 10 7 43New version of friendly fire:

’Two F–16s were conducting firing exercises on January 21. It appears that the damaged aircraft actually caught up with the 20mm rounds it fired as it pulled out of its firing run. At least one of them struck the side of the F–16’s fuselage, and parts of a round were ingested by the aircraft’s engine. The F–16’s pilot managed to land the aircraft safely at Leeuwarden Air Base.

The incident reflects why guns on a high-performance jet are perhaps a less than ideal weapon. The Vulcan is capable of firing over 6,000 shots per minute, but its magazine carries only 511 rounds—just enough for five seconds of fury. The rounds have a muzzle velocity of 3,450 feet per second (1050 meters per second). That is speed boosted initially by the aircraft itself, but atmospheric drag slows the shells down eventually. And if a pilot accelerates and maneuvers in the wrong way after firing the cannon, the aircraft could be unexpectedly reunited with its recently departed rounds.…’

Via Ars Technica

The Life-Changing Magic of Unfollowing Almost Everybody

David Cain writes:

‘I unfollowed everybody except accounts who produce tweets I almost always want to see.

This is not the same as following people and businesses you like. That was a big discovery for me: simply liking someone or something isn’t a good reason to follow them on Twitter.

When you start going by whose tweets you like reading, as opposed to who you like for other reasons, you will probably end up following way fewer people.

Mostly, I stuck with:

  • People I know in real life (who aren’t in the habit of tweeting about horrible news events they don’t plan to do anything about)
  • Local events in my city
  • Local shops and businesses I would like to visit more
  • Certain kinds of humor
  • Certain kinds of discussion about certain topics

This kind of curation is definitely not what Twitter wants you to do, so you’ll have to turn to a third party app to efficiently cull your feed. I used Tokimeiki Unfollow, which cleverly allows you to Marie-Kondo-ize your feed, asking yourself if each account still “sparks joy.”

You’ll know what you feel about a given account when you see its name and avatar. You’ll feel a lot of aversion and indifference, and small moments of joy. When in doubt, unfollow. I was ruthless and regret nothing. It took ten minutes….’

Source: Raptitude

Trump makes golf gross again

‘…He cheats. He lies. He kicks. And not just his ball—yours, too. He props up a 2.8 handicap that’s faker than WrestleMania 35. He wins tournaments he never even played in. He wins tournaments that weren’t even held.

He does all of this because he has to win. A loss is to Donald Trump what a shower is to the Wicked Witch of the West. He has to win no matter how much cheating, lying, and pencil erasing it takes. He has to win whether you’ve caught him or not. Maybe it was his father beating into his kid brain, Win, win, win. Be a winner, over and over. Maybe it was where he learned the game—Cobbs Creek, a scruffy public course in Philadelphia full of hustlers and con men who taught him to cheat your opponent before he cheats you…’

Via The Atlantic

What’s the Difference Between ‘Bro,’ ‘Brah,’ ‘Bruv,’ ‘Bruh’ and ‘Breh’?

Unknown

’Bruh. I give up, breh. I’m telling you, brah, I endeavored to find a pattern: I wanted so badly to uncover the blueprint or even the architect behind the “Bro,” Bruh,” “Breh,” “Brah” and “Bruv” complex. Which bros used which version, and where, and why. I believed in my gut that bros — even if unbeknownst to themselves — must be adhering to some intrinsic fraternal “Bra-Vinci Code.” For days, I fed myself stories of a cryptograph lying in the depths of a hidden Bro-tlantis that specifically said: This is when you use “Bruh,” instead of “Bro.” Or for that matter, this is when it’s more succinct to use “Breh” instead of “Bruh.” At the very least, I thought, there has to be a specific “Brah” demographic that was at least faintly in contrast to the folks who use “Breh,” or “bruh.”
I wanted clear answers. But I was a fool. The bros are many things, including — even if unbeknownst to themselves — complex. And so, while I did largely find that purveyors of the many masks of “bro” often swing freely from one usage to the next, entangling themselves in a bro-lingo labyrinth, there are still some, albeit mostly overlapping, norms.…’

Via MEL Magazine

The average lifespan of a friendship? Ten years…

ImagesHere’s why…

’Some friendships last a lifetime, but most have a lifespan. In the U.S., best friends tend to last for 10 years on average, says Nicholas Christakis.
In friendships, one person may begin to defect or “free ride”, which causes the other person to choose between cooperation or defection. People tend to choose the latter so they won’t be taken advantage of.
A certain amount of social fluidity, taking a breather from a friendship, can actually make a friendship last longer.…’

Via Why do good friends drift apart? – Big Think

Is it the end of ‘statistical significance’?

UnknownThe battle to make science more uncertain:

’The scientific world is abuzz following recommendations by two of the most prestigious scholarly journals – The American Statistician and Nature – that the term “statistical significance” be retired.

In their introduction to the special issue of The American Statistician on the topic, the journal’s editors urge “moving to a world beyond ‘p<0.05,’” the famous 5 percent threshold for determining whether a study’s result is statistically significant. If a study passes this test, it means that the probability of a result being due to chance alone is less than 5 percent. This has often been understood to mean that the study is worth paying attention to.

The journal’s basic message – but not necessarily the consensus of the 43 articles in this issue, one of which I contributed – was that scientists first and foremost should “embrace uncertainty” and “be thoughtful, open and modest.”…’

Via Neuroscience News

The Barr-Shaped Cloud Over the Justice Department

90Matthew Miller, former Director of the Office of Public Affairs at the Justice Department, writes:

’The attorney general’s actions raise suspicions about whether he is acting primarily to benefit the president because they don’t make sense when viewed through any other lens. Barr is neither inexperienced nor naive, yet when deciding among the several options available to him when he received Mueller’s report, he chose the one course of action that would raise questions about his own integrity and plunge the Justice Department into political controversy.…’

Via POLITICO Magazine

Revisiting Chernobyl

Unknown‘It’s probably fair to say that we’ve spent the last thirty years acting as if we don’t live in a post-Chernobyl world.…’

Via Kottke

Trump made two remarkably authoritarian remarks in one day

1140591882 jpg 0’“Congress has to act,” Trump said. “They have to get rid of catch and release, chain migration, visa lottery, they have to get rid of the whole asylum system because it doesn’t work, and frankly, we should get rid of judges. You can’t have a court case every time somebody steps foot on our ground.”

Trump’s comments marked the second time this week he has urged Congress “to get rid of judges” — a proposal that, thankfully, for those of us who value checks and balances, has little chance of gaining traction now that Democrats control the House.

The president, however, is not even trying to hide the fact he’d like to have the power to summarily deport migrants and asylum seekers, and has already demonstrated a willingness to try and seize emergency powers toward that end.

Later, while Air Force One was on its way to California, Trump posted a tweet in which he characterized the entire “press” as “truly the ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”

Trump’s tweet represented an escalation of his anti-press rhetoric. In the past, Trump had been careful to qualify his “enemy of the people” attacks as applying to “THE RIGGED AND CORRUPT MEDIA,” the “Fake News,” or only pertaining to “much of the Media.”…’

Via Vox

Spectre of far-right terror attacks if Brexit is canceled

Images’The world’s law enforcement agencies have a terrible blind spot when it comes to far-right, white supremacist terror groups, treating them as unimportant lone wolves despite their prolific and bloody acts of violence.

The pro-Brexit side in the UK has more than its share of murderous right-wing thugs, who were critical to the passage of the initial Brexit vote, going so far as to stab an anti-Brexit MP to death for her political views.

Now, with the future of Brexit in doubt, there’s reason to worry that these terror cells will exact vengeance on the UK. Yesterday, a video surfaced of British soldiers using a picture of Jeremy Corbyn – who could well be the next Prime Minister of Britain – for target practice.

On the same day, the trial of a neo-Nazi who had plotted the murder of an anti-Brexit MEP concluded.

Other soldiers have been recorded cheering for Tommy Robinson, the founder of the English Defense League, a far-right hate group, who is now an advisor to the UKIP, the political party that led the pro-Brexit movement. Priti Patel, a Tory MP, has called Corbyn “a man who sides with terrorists and socialist dictators.” The right-wing terrorist Darren Osborne – who murdered a man when he drove his van onto the pavement in front of the Houses of Parliament – has said that one of his goals was to murder Corbyn, saying “it would be one less terrorist [on] our streets.”…’

Via Boing Boing

Something we’ve never seen before

74558fd1 d8bc 48ab 92d7 f171780d9168 TheUniversityofArizonaBlackHoleSimulation a9SANETf1 3mm 45ccFirst image of black hole to be unveiled next week:

’They’ve captured our imaginations for decades, but we’ve never actually photographed a black hole before – until now.

Next Wednesday, at several press briefings around the world, scientists will apparently unveil humanity’s first-ever photo of a black hole, the European Space Agency said in a statement. Specifically, the photo will be of “Sagittarius A,” the supermassive black hole that’s at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

But aren’t black holes, well, black, and thus invisible, so none of our telescopes can “see” them? Yes – therefore the image we’re likely to see will be of the “event horizon,” the edge of the black hole where light can’t escape. 

Even that will be challenging, however, as the black hole at the center of our galaxy is “shrouded in a thick cloud of dust and gas,” according to Science Alert. Even more confounding is that spacetime around a black hole is “weird.”…’

Via USAToday

How ‘extinction neurons’ help us block out our worst memories

Stephen Johnson writes:

‘…[A] psychologist might recommend exposure therapy, in which people with specific fears are voluntarily and incrementally exposed to the very things they fear. The goal is to create new positive memories to silence the fearful ones. These are called “extinction memories.”

Scientists have long associated a part of the brain called the amygdala with fear. However, a new study focuses on the hippocampus — a brain region generally associated with memory and spatial navigation — and describes how extinction memories work not by replacing fearful memories, but rather by competing with them. This competition acts in two ways: by decreasing or silencing the activation of fear-inducing neurons and by activating a distinct set of neurons that help to reduce the fear response….’

Source: Big Think

The Day the Dinosaurs Died

190408 r34032’Since 2012, paleontologist Robert DePalma has been excavating a site in North Dakota that he thinks is “an incredible and unprecedented discovery”. What’s potentially so special about this site? Fossils from dinosaurs and other animals from thousands of years before the asteroid impact are very hard to come by, leading some to believe that dinosaurs died out before the impact, not because of it. DePalma believes the site preserves, as if in amber, the day, the precise and exact day (and perhaps even the exact hour), that the massive asteroid believed to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs hit the Earth 65 million years ago.…’

Via Kottke

The unique vulnerabilities and needs of teen survivors of mass shootings

File 20190329 71012 w0xpry’The tragic deaths of Sydney Aiello and Calvin Desir, teen survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, remind us that for too many survivors, the pain and suffering endure and do not diminish. Instead, they are left reeling in the aftermath with no sense of closure. This is especially true of teens.…’

Via The Conversation