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What’s the frequency, Kenneth?

“Dan Rather, a longtime American television news anchor was returning from dinner at a friend’s Manhattan apartment on this day in 1986 when a man demanded, “Kenneth, what is the frequency?”

Told he had the wrong person, the man punched and kicked Mr. Rather, still yelling the question. Mr. Rather dashed into a building and was rescued by a doorman and building superintendent.

The police chalked it up to mistaken identity. Some people wondered if Mr. Rather had imagined it. It was unclear if one or two men had attacked.

Meanwhile, “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” became a U.S. pop catchphrase. The band R.E.M. wrote a song by that name.

In 1997, it emerged that William Tager, a North Carolina man in prison by then, was Mr. Rather’s assailant. In 1994, Mr. Tager had shot and killed a television stagehand, saying the media was beaming messages into his brain. Shown photographs, Mr. Rather recognized him.

Mr. Tager was released from prison in 2010. His whereabouts is unknown…”

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How to become a Trump judge

Retired Federal judge Nancy Gertner writes:

‘Kavanaugh’s performance at that hearing alone should be disqualifying. His behavior and affect, the pointed and partisan nature of his accusations, resonated with this President’s incivility and name calling. He was consumed with rage at his Democrat interlocutors, fairly spitting out his answers. He treated them with disrespect, interrupting, repeating his talking points rather than answering question. When Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont asked him if he would call for an FBI investigation, to make the process more fair, he did not answer. He showed himself to be a zealot determined to get on the high court, at all costs.

With this performance, Kavanaugh became Trump’s version of what a judge should be, not unlike Trump’s version of what his attorney general should be. They were both supposed to be Trump partisans, not neutrals, and above all, ready for central casting. Trump reportedly was unhappy with Kavanaugh’s performance on “Fox News” several evenings before; Kavanaugh was “wooden,” he said, insufficiently assertive. So Kavanaugh changed his tune. Now, fully a Trump judge, he was playing to his base — President Trump. And it worked. Trump tweeted minutes after the hearing completed: ”Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him.”

I had never heard a judge speak like that to a public audience, let alone during a confirmation hearing.

A judge is not only supposed to be unbiased, he is also to reflect the appearance of impartiality, avoiding situations in which reasonable people can believe he is partisan. How can Kavanaugh possibly meet that requirement given what we all saw on Thursday?

Consider this: Kavanaugh is confirmed is immediately sworn in by Justice John Roberts in the chambers of the Supreme Court. And on the docket is a challenge to gerrymandering brought by Democrats in one state; or another involving accusations of voter suppression against Republicans in a swing state. What about the cases that directly challenge presidential power, like the enforceability of a subpoena brought by special counsel Robert Mueller against Trump in the Russia investigation? How can he even appear remotely impartial in these cases when his presentation so fully and completely reflected the Republican party’s rage? He cannot. He is not.

Kavanaugh will not get his reputation back whether or not he is confirmed. These accusations, that performance, scotched all such hopes. But if he cared about the Supreme Court as an institution, he would withdraw now. Of course he will not; he wants this position, no matter what the cost, so stunning is his ambition. His body of work has been the functional equivalent of a 20-year application. He was a zealot in the Kenneth Starr investigation of President Bill Clinton, and then, when it suited him to be more neutral, wrote a law review article changing his tune; no president should be subject to the treatment, the very treatment he visited on Clinton. Serious issues were raised with respect to his truthfulness in his confirmation hearings concerning his role in the Bush administration.

He categorically denied Ford’s accusations again — even when he and others confirm at least part of it. He was the thinly-disguised Bart O’Kavanaugh in Mark Judge’s book, “Wasted,’’ passed out in a car. He joined a Yale fraternity famous for its wild drunken parties. At Yale Law School, my alma mater, he touted the all night parties, broken tables, etc. most recently in a 2014 speech. It was not such a leap to Ford’s account of drunken adolescents preying on a younger woman …’

Source: The Boston Globe

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The Future of Forgiveness Is Online

NewImage

Alexandra Samuel writes:

’…I have found one personal rule that keeps my grudge-holding in check: Once I have forgotten the details of the original offence, I strictly forbid myself from maintaining my grudge. I may not be much good at forgive and forget, but once I forget, I require myself to forgive.

Thanks to the internet, however, I fear that forgetfulness is no longer a spiritual hall pass. How forgiving can any of us be, now that the internet logs all our online misdeeds forever?…’

Via JSTOR Daily

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Guernsey woman uses Clameur de Haro to halt a construction project

Ephrat Livni writes:

‘Rosie Henderson raised the clameur on Aug. 14 by kneeling, calling for help, and reciting the Lord’s Prayer in Norman French, the Guardian reports. She protests a project to narrow a road in St. Peter Port, arguing that it will endanger both pedestrians and motorists in the self-governing UK possession.

The law Henderson invoked is enforceable and creates an immediate injunction. She had 24 hours after issuing the plea to register her claim in court. Work on the road project stopped as soon as the miffed citizen invoked the ancient rule and construction will remain halted until a court decides the case.

The clameur was first recorded in Norman law in the 13th century. Its use is believed to have originated in the 10th century as an appeal to Rollo, Viking founder of the Norman dynasty, according a 2008 article in the Jersey and Guernsey Law Review (pdf) by lawyer and legal historian Andrew Bridgeford.

… The clameur is serious business. “[I]t enables the private individual to co-opt the power of the courts in proclaiming an injunction,” Bridgeford says. “Such a powerful tool is not to be invoked incautiously. A claimant who is found to have raised the Clameur de Haro incorrectly risks not merely a penalty in costs but also punishment for contempt of court.” …’

Source: Quartz

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Three Hard Truths About American Collapse

Umair Haque writes:

‘America’s probably not going to recover in our lifetimes, if ever (even if the good guys win the next election.) Let me start with some alarming and necessary factoids. America’s a country whose three main indicators are all blinking nine-alarm red — they’re what “collapse” really means. Life expectancy’s falling. Real incomes are shrinking. And 80% of people live paycheck to paycheck. By all means — elect someone not quite so terrible as Trump. It might mitigate those, but it’s not going to magically alter the downwards trajectory. The American future is a grim choice between a return to yesterday’s slow collapse and the continuation of today’s light-speed implosion — probably not anything remotely like Europe or Canada’s gentle, hopeful upwards trend in quality of life. …’

Source: Eudaimonia and Co

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As Google Maps Renames Neighborhoods, Residents Fume

Jack Nicas writes:

‘Google Maps has now become the primary arbiter of place names. With decisions made by a few Google cartographers, the identity of a city, town or neighborhood can be reshaped, illustrating the outsize influence that Silicon Valley increasingly has in the real world.

…[But how] Google arrives at its names in maps is often mysterious. The company declined to detail how some place names came about, though some appear to have resulted from mistakes by researchers, rebrandings by real estate agents — or just outright fiction…’

Source: New York Times

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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

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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

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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.”…’

 

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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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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

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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

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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).

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Leading psychiatrists: roll back Goldwater rule

 ‘Twenty-two psychiatrists and psychologists, including some of the field’s most prominent thinkers, are calling on the American Psychiatric Association on Thursday to substantially revise its controversial Goldwater rule, which bars APA members from offering their views of a public figure’s apparent psychological traits or mental status.

In a letter to be delivered to the APA, Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, one of the world’s leading experts on the psychological effects of war and political violence; Philip Zimbardo of the “Stanford prison experiment”; violence expert Dr. James Gilligan; and their colleagues argued that the Goldwater rule, which the APA adopted in 1973, deprives the public of expert opinion on crucial questions, such as the mental health and stability of elected officials.

While the policy holds that it would be unethical for mental heath professionals to offer their opinions on anyone they have not examined, the letter’s signers argue it would be unethical to withhold their views. Psychiatrists and psychologists, they contend, have “an affirmative responsibility” to publicly discuss “mental health issues discerned in public figures” when they pose “a clear and present danger to the public’s health and well-being.” …’

Source: Statnews

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Elie Wiesel on our shared duty in ending injustice

1986 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech:

‘I remember: it happened yesterday or eternities ago. A young Jewish boy discovered the kingdom of night. I remember his bewilderment, I remember his anguish. It all happened so fast. The ghetto. The deportation. The sealed cattle car. The fiery altar upon which the history of our people and the future of mankind were meant to be sacrificed.

I remember: he asked his father: “Can this be true?” This is the twentieth century, not the Middle Ages. Who would allow such crimes to be committed? How could the world remain silent?

And now the boy is turning to me: “Tell me,” he asks. “What have you done with my future? What have you done with your life?”

And I tell him that I have tried. That I have tried to keep memory alive, that I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices. And then I explained to him how naïve we were, that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must — at that moment — become the center of the universe…’

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Thoreau:

‘Who can be serene in a country where both the rulers and the ruled are without principle? The remembrance of my country spoils my walk. My thoughts are murder to the State, and involuntarily go plotting against her. …’

Via Austin Kleon

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Return of the Blood Libel

Paul Krugman writes:

‘The speed of America’s moral descent under Donald Trump is breathtaking. In a matter of months we’ve gone from a nation that stood for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to a nation that tears children from their parents and puts them in cages.

What’s almost equally remarkable about this plunge into barbarism is that it’s not a response to any actual problem. The mass influx of murderers and rapists that Trump talks about, the wave of crime committed by immigrants here (and, in his mind, refugees in Germany), are things that simply aren’t happening. They’re just sick fantasies being used to justify real atrocities.

And you know what this reminds me of? The history of anti-Semitism, a tale of prejudice fueled by myths and hoaxes that ended in genocide. …’

Source: New York Times op-ed

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Here’s Stephen Miller’s Cell Phone Number, If You Need It

‘The Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their families has been credited primarily to the strenuous efforts of White House adviser Stephen Miller. Perhaps you would like to call him about it. The New York Times reported that Miller, the wolfish young Trump whisperer, has been the most effective driving force behind the implementation of the brutal policy that is now leading the national news—a policy that Miller himself called “a simple decision.” And while citizens plan protest marches and scream at Kirstjen Nielsen as she eats dinner, Miller himself has been rather unavailable for direct feedback from the public.

We all know that Donald Trump is a great fan of facilitating direct feedback from the public, because he personally published the cell phone numbers of both his Republican primary opponent Lindsey Graham and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos. So it is fair to assume he would support the public’s right to call (or text) Stephen Miller.

Miller’s cell phone number is 202-881-8641. He’s a busy guy, but maybe you can get ahold of him long enough to have a productive discussion…’

Source: Splinter News

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In Your Name: The Wretched Reality of American Fascism

NewImageHundreds of children wait in Border Patrol facility in Texas

(Via Associated Press)

 

‘Prison-like’ migrant youth shelter is understaffed, unequipped for Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy, insider says

(Via LA Times)

 

What’s Really Happening When Asylum-Seeking Families Are Separated?

(Via Texas Monthly)

 

Laura Bush: Separating children from their parents at the border ‘breaks my heart’

(Via Washington Post op-ed)

 

Secret recording of weeping children begging for their parents while a Border Patrol official mocks them

(Via Boing Boing)

 

America’s ‘Detention Centers’ Added to Wikipedia List of Concentration Camps

(Via Gizmodo)

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How to Fight Trump’s Policy of Separating Children From Their Parents

NewImage‘Slate has a long list of organizations fighting the separation of immigrant families, which could all use donations or volunteer work (especially from lawyers or translators). If Slate’s growing list is overwhelming, you can just donate money at this ActBlue page to fund eight organizations fighting for immigration rights, including the ACLU and Kids In Need of Defense, which provides legal representation for children.

The newsletter “Activism for Non-Activists” includes an easy script for calling your congressional representative (which does make a difference), plus some first steps for protesting, volunteering, and checking that you’re still registered to vote…’

Via Lifehacker

I just watched Trump flunky DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s outrageous baldfaced lying performance excusing and justifying our inhumane, immoral and illegal actions at the border,  facing unanimous outrage (that Sarah Saunders was unwilling to do on her own). at this afternoon’s press conference. I seem to recall a generation of Americans vow that the internment of the Japanese-Americans during WWII could never happen again, but it is. In your name, concentration camps enacting child abuse are now active at the border. Do something.

Addendum: Glad to hear that the governors of Colorado and my state, Massachusetts (Charlie Baker, who is a Republican) have announced that they will not allow state resources to be used in support or enforcement of this policy.

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Passel of Interesting Stories on Gizmodo Today

The US State Department evacuated at least two diplomats in China following a mysterious illness experienced after hearing strange noises—the latest in a series of unexplained sicknesses that have hit American diplomats and their family members in recent years. According to the New York Times , the State Department has flown in a medical team to test employees at the American consulate …
It’s taken as a given that the more schooling we get, the better off our lives will be across the board. But a new study published Wednesday in The BMJ reaffirms a hidden health risk of higher education. The more years of school someone gets, it turns out, the greater the chances of them becoming near-sighted. For more than a century, observational research across the world has pointed to…
Not Gilderoy Lockhart Dr. Mehmet Oz is at it again. The infamous snake oil salesman tweeted today, asking his followers to learn more about the link between a person’s astrological sign and their health. After a brief paroxysm of screaming, I clicked through the slideshow to learn that, as a Capricorn, I am so ambitious and take on so many tasks that I am prone to literally becoming weak in the knees…
Beginning in August, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will begin piloting a new face recognition system at the Mexican border. Using a series of cameras, the CBP plans to use face recognition to remotely check the identifies of both drivers and passengers. Called the Vehicle Face System (VFS), the program will track drivers and passengers on either side of the crossing at the Anzalduas …
A Texas man thought he had bested a rattlesnake by decapitating it, but when he tried to pick up the slain serpent’s head, it bit him and released a potentially fatal dose of venom into his body. His wife Jennifer Sutcliffe told local news station KIIITV that doctors said he might not survive, but he is now in recovery, thanks to 26 vials of antivenom. Trauma surgeon Michael Halpert told the news …
Comcast’s Xfinity landline service has been experiencing issues across the U.S. since this morning, with thousands of problems still being reported this afternoon, according to DownDetector.com . The outage map indicates that customers throughout the U.S. have encountered issues, with the most recent reports coming from San Francisco, Chicago, Portland, Mountain View, Denver, Seattle, Atlanta, …
Hurricane Harvey, as seen from low-Earth orbit. The pace at which hurricanes move across the planet is slowing, according to new research. This suggests Hurricane Harvey, which stalled over Texas last summer, may not have been an…

via Gizmodo

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U.S. Army develops algorithm that shows how to get ‘optimal alertness’ from caffeine

The researchers behind the new study aimed to find the optimal balance between the amount of caffeine and the time it’s administered. To do so, they used data from four past caffeine-sleep studies and inputted them into an algorithm built on the unified model of performance, which is a mathematical model that accurately predicts the effects of sleep–wake schedules and caffeine consumption on simple neurobehavioral tasks.

The team, led by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s Dr. Jaques Reifman, ran thousands of simulations across a wide range of doses and sleep-wake schedules.

“We found that by using our algorithm, which determines when and how much caffeine a subject should consume, we can improve alertness by up to 64 percent, while consuming the same total amount of caffeine,” Reifman told Science Daily. “Alternatively, a subject can reduce caffeine consumption by up to 65 percent and still achieve equivalent improvements in alertness.”

The algorithm could someday be used, for instance, by college students who want to know when they should consume caffeine “so you are as alert as possible during the exam,” Reifman told Live Science.

The optimal caffeine dose amounts and times depended on each individual scenario, so there’s no universal recommendation for when and much caffeine to consume. However, the U.S. Army is reportedly using the algorithm in experiments with soldiers in an effort to improve sleep health in the military, an organization in which sleep deprivation is a constant and often unavoidable problem.

The base algorithm looks like this:

If that’s not your cup of joe, a simplified version of the algorithm is available to the public through the 2B-Alert app, which lets users enter their sleep schedules and caffeine intake to find out when and how much caffeine they should consume.

Source: Big Think

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The Lost Lingo of New York City’s Soda Jerks

Natasha Frost writes:

‘…“[S]oda jerk[s],” …half a million [of whom were] employed at tens of thousands of soda fountains across the United States in the 1930s and 1940s, …had white coats, swift fingers, and even swifter tongues—indeed, their linguistic concoctions were as much of a draw as the sweet treats they served up. [One] got a special shout-out in a university English course on American colloquialism after a professor ordered a large cherry coke and heard him shout back: “Stretch one, paint it red!” …’

Source: Gastro Obscura

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Hobson’s Choice

NewImageSam Hobson is a wildlife photographer with a twist. His focus is on the ‘invasive’ species that are colonizing urban spaces, e.g. red foxes (I have a family living on my street outside of Boston) and parakeets (whose populations are burgeoning in the air over cities like London, some say thanks to Jimi Hendrix releasing a mating pair sometime around 50 years ago to make the city more colorful!). Such arresting images often require painstaking groundwork.

Via Sam Hobson Photography

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Donald Trump Stalked Bill Gates’ Daughter

Monica Hunter-Hart writes:

‘As for the list of women with whom President Donald Trump reportedly has a slightly creepy relationship, we can now add the daughter of one of the richest men in the world. At a recent Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation meeting that was broadcasted by MSNBC on Thursday, Bill Gates said Trump’s knowledge of his daughter’s appearance was “scary[ily]” detailed when the billionaires met. He also described Trump’s bizarre first encounter with the 22-year-old Jennifer Gates. …’

Source: Google News

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These Are The Jobs Most Likely To Attract A Serial Killer

A new book by criminologist Michael Arntfeld tabulates the correlation between serial killers and certain professions:

Skilled Occupations:

1. Aircraft machinist/assembler
2. Shoemaker/repair person
3. Automobile upholsterer.

Semi-Skilled Occupations:

1. Forestry worker/arborist
2. Truck driver
3. Warehouse manager

Unskilled Occupations

1. General laborer (such as a mover or landscaper)
2. Hotel porter
3. Gas station attendant

Professional and Government Occupations:

1. Police/security official
2. Military personnel
3. Religious official.

Asked to explain what it is about these jobs that attracts people who kill, Arntfeld points to the fact that jobs may confer easy access to vulnerable victims under the guise of employment;  and “the fact many jobs simultaneously satisfy the underlying paraphiliac, or sexual preoccupations, that also fuel killers’ crimes.” For instance, for reasons that are not well understood, Arntfeld says, “mechanophilia” (a fixation with or erotic arousal from machines) appears to correlate with necrophilia and homicidal necrophilia.

Via IFLScience

On the other hand, the list might be biased as pertaining to the serial killers who get caught. Other skillful killers might remain quietly in place, perhaps in other professions.

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May 1968: the revolution retains its magnetic allure

John Harris writes:

‘We are now as far from the events of 1968 as the people involved were from the end of the first world war. Cliche has long since reduced much of what occurred to “student revolt”, but that hardly does these happenings justice, partly because it ignores the workers’ strikes that were just as central to what occurred during ’68 and the years that followed, but also because the phrase gets nowhere near the depth and breadth of what young people were rebelling against, not least in France.

This was the last time that a developed western society glimpsed the possibility of revolution focused not just on institutions, but the contestation of everyday reality, which is still enough to make the simple phrase “May 1968” crackle with excitement – even if you were not around when les évenéments took place. I was born in 1969, but what happened in France and beyond retains a magnetic allure.

[Commemorations to mark 1968’s 50th anniversary include] a series of events, focused on liberties and utopias, at Nanterre University, the suburban campus where the French unrest first flared up; and at King’s College in London, workshops, film screenings and symposiums on ’68’s protests and what they have come to signify.

The leftwing publishers Verso are reissuing a handful of texts, including Tariq Ali’s memoir-cum-history Street Fighting Years and the Raymond Williams-edited May Day Manifesto (1968), arguably the founding text of the British New Left. The same company is also publishing a new book titled Opening the Gates, the compelling story of an attempt at co-operative socialism that took root in the early 1970s at a watch factory in eastern France. Allen Lane, meanwhile, has published The Long ’68, by British historian Richard Vinen, an exhaustive work whose narrative runs across Europe and the US. …’

Source: The Guardian

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R.I.P. Mark Wood 04/27/49-02/09/17

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In the early years of FmH, one of the sites to which I was devoted and, frankly, of which I was quite envious, was Mark Wood’s enigmatically named ‘wood s lot‘. Yes, there is no apostrophe there, although I used to gently chide him about that, as part of a delightful friendly rivalry we had.

Here are my comments on his indispensability when he had to put the blog on suspension for awhile in 2002. And here is my paean to his site on the occasion of its third anniversary in 2003, which includes my peevish complaint about the solipsism of some of his content, his self-effacing style of remaining a cipher with no personal presence, and, in the last paragraph, said lack of apostrophe. (He listened… For one day, he renamed the site to ‘wood’s lot’!)

And here you will find  a compendium of  many of the mentions he got on FmH. I eventually fell away from following him as my blogging style morphed and his erudition soared. I was saddened to learn, in random surfing tonight, that Mark died around a year ago. You could do far worse than to go back and dip into his legacy, anywhere. My sympathies to his family.

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Wondered why…

…I was getting a lot of new subscribers all of a sudden. I had thought it was because I had pulled the trigger on my Facebook account, where I had previously been crossposting everything on FmH. In my goodbye message to the Facebook world, I suggested that some of the people who had been reading me there might continue to follow me by seeking out the source. But as it turns out none of the new subscribers appeared to be my erstwhile Facebook friends.

I decided to look in my referrer logs and realized that people were probably coming from kottke.org, who had written about a number of us old (and new) blogging dinosaurs in a post called Blogging is most certainly not dead. Thanks for including me, Jason. Many other sites worthy of worthy of our attention — I’m just beginning to explore this new cornucopia — are mentioned in his post. [Thanks to Bruce for bringing me to kottke’s attention.]

 

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Sweating made us the dominant species on the planet

NewImageOne theory of human evolution states that our ancestors began eating meat about 2 million years ago, whose caloric and fat density allowed the enlargement and development of their brains.

Hominids didn’t begin using stones and sticks for hunting until about 200,000 years ago. So between 2.3 million and 200,000 years ago, our original strategy was to run game animals to death in order to feast upon them. Sweating was the key factor in the ability to run long distances to wear out quarry without overheating. Game animals, who cannot sweat, become overheated over time and are at risk of damaging themselves or dying if they don’t stop to catch their breath, allowing early hunters to catch and dispatch them. Animals that do not walk upright cannot fully extend their diaphragms to take deep breaths until they stop running.

Some tribal peoples still take part in persistence hunting and there is evidence that the strategy was utilized all over the world in the distant past. This helps us to understand why several aspects of human development — walking upright, hairless skin, sweating, and the ability to run long distances — appear to have evolved simultaneously.

Via Big Think

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A Short History of Threats Received by Donald Trump’s Adversaries

Decca Muldowney writes:

‘When Stormy Daniels spoke to “60 Minutes” last month, the porn actress described a threat she received years ago after speaking to a journalist about her alleged affair with Donald Trump. A stranger approached her in a parking lot in Las Vegas. Daniels was there with her baby daughter. “Leave Trump alone,” Daniels recalled the man warning her. “That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.”

Daniels did not report the threat to the police. On Wednesday, Donald Trump tweeted that Daniels’ account of events was “a total con job” about a “non-existent man.”

As it happens, other people in disputes with Trump have also found themselves the targets of threats — and sometimes they’ve reported it to authorities. …’

Source: Pro Publica

Not only an imbecile but a cutrate mobster wannabe as well.

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Japan’s isolated older ‘hikikomori’ shun society for years

Natsuko FUKUE writes:

‘Ikeida leaves the house once every three days to buy food, shuns deliveries to avoid human interaction and has not seen his parents or younger brother for 20 years.

The 55-year-old has chosen to shut himself completely away from society — such a commonplace phenomenon in high-pressure, conformist and workaholic Japan that there is a word to describe it: “hikikomori”.

Until recently it was thought to be an issue mainly afflicting those in their teens and 20s, but ageing Japan is seeing a growing number of older hikikomori cloistering themselves away for longer periods of time.

There are more than half a million hikikomori in Japan — according to the latest government survey published in 2016 — defined as people who have stayed home for more than six months without going to school or work and interacting with no one other than family members. …’

Source: Yahoo News

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Society of Blue Buckets

”The Society of Blue Buckets (Russian: Общество синих ведёрок Obshchestvo sinikh vedyorok) is a free protest movement that emerged in Russia in 2010 as a response to the arbitrary, self-serving use of emergency rotating blue flashers by public servants. Inspired by blue toy buckets‘ strong resemblance to emergency blue rotating lights, members of the Society affix buckets to their vehicles’ roofs during automotive flashmobs, as a manifestation of their protest against misuse of emergency lights…”

Source: Wikipedia

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The Loudest Silence in the History of US Social Protest

The incredible power of the speeches by the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas students who organized the March for Our Lives yesterday. Read and feel moved to do your part to help.

Source: Mother Jones

And:

‘More than 187,000 students have been exposed to gun violence at school since Columbine, The Washington Post found. …’

Source: Washington Post

‘NRA host taunts Parkland teens: ‘No one would know your names’ if classmates were still alive …’

Source: Washington Post

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Can Novels Change Our Attitudes About Death?

John MacNeill Miller writes:

‘If we want to move from a pathologically death-phobic culture to a more well-adjusted one… we need to rethink our cultural tradition of giving death the silent treatment. That is the sentiment underlying the death-positive movement, a loose collective of artists, writers, academics, and funeral industry professionals agitating for more open conversations about dying. As the mortician and author Caitlin Doughty explains in her bestselling memoir ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’, “A culture that denies death is a barrier to achieving a good death.”

At the very minimum, our culture of death denial creates a population unprepared for the inevitability of death, one in which every dying individual burdens family and friends with painful healthcare decisions, legal battles, and property disputes that could have been avoided with a little forethought. At its worst, death denial promotes a youth- and health-obsessed society whose inability to address death …’

Source: Electric Literature

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An ATM Skimmer Almost Stole My Credit Card! This is How to Spot Them

Daniel Rodriguez writes:

‘Like you, I’ve seen the memes and articles floating around social media about checking ATMs for the telltale signs of an ATM Skimmer; loose card ports, keypads sticking up and general shadiness. It’s always one of those things I’ve kept in the back of mind, even though I never took it terribly seriously. This time it paid off! …’

Source: Imminent Threat Solutions

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Are ‘you’ just inside your skin or is your smartphone part of you?

‘Given how our smartphones have taken over what were once functions of our brains – remembering dates, phone numbers, addresses – perhaps the data they contain should be treated on a par with the information we hold in our heads. So if the law aims to protect mental privacy, its boundaries would need to be pushed outwards to give our cyborg anatomy the same protections as our brains. …’

Source: Aeon Ideas

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“What I Learned Treating Parkland Victims”

NewImageThey weren’t the first mass-shooting victims the Florida radiologist saw—but their wounds were radically different. Heather Sher writes:

As a doctor, I feel I have a duty to inform the public of what I have learned as I have observed these wounds and cared for these patients. It’s clear to me that AR-15 and other high-velocity weapons, especially when outfitted with a high-capacity magazine, have no place in a civilian’s gun cabinet. I have friends who own AR-15 rifles; they enjoy shooting them at target practice for sport and fervently defend their right to own them. But I cannot accept that their right to enjoy their hobby supersedes my right to send my own children to school, a movie theater, or a concert and to know that they are safe. Can the answer really be to subject our school children to active-shooter drills—to learn to hide under desks, turn off the lights, lock the door, and be silent—instead of addressing the root cause of the problem and passing legislation to take AR-15-style weapons out of the hands of civilians? …’

Via The Atlantic

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The Opposite of Hoarding

NewImageCompulsive Decluttering, the need to shed possessions, is a life-consuming illness for some —but the cultural embrace of decluttering can make it hard to seek help….

“Do we just assume that decluttering is a good thing because it’s the opposite of hoarding?” says Vivien Diller, a psychologist in New York who has worked with patients… who compulsively rid themselves of their possessions. “Being organized and throwing things out and being efficient is applauded in our society because it is productive. But you take somebody who cannot tolerate mess or cannot sit still without cleaning or throwing things out, and we’re talking about a symptom.”…’

Via The Atlantic

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Will the last person to leave the West Wing please remember to turn out the lights?

Image-1.jpgAll the President’s Men Who Might Leave the White House:

‘It’s looking like it might be spring-cleaning season at the White House.

Not only did Communications Director Hope Hicks announce her departure on Wednesday, ending her run as President Trump’s longest-tenured staffer, but a series of reports have suggested a number of other top-ranking officials might be clearing out their offices and desks soon. Those rumored to be considering exits include Jared Kushner, John Kelly, H.R. McMaster, Gary Cohn, and Jeff Sessions….’

Via The Atlantic

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Standing desks are probably actually bad for your health

incredible-standing-desk-ergonomics-standing-desk-guide-measurements-examples-and-benefitsThe worm turns:

‘[A] new study asserts that standings desks are, in fact, bad for you. They’re also not the promoters of workplace productivity they’ve been claimed to be. They apparently result not only in physical pain, but — literally adding insult to injury — make you a bit slower mentally….’

Via Big Think

Thank heavens I procrastinated so long in adopting this trend that now I don’t have to.

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Why philosophers feel chimpanzees must be considered persons

profileTo anyone who follows science, the notion that other animals can be sentient, have emotions, suffer, engage in relationships, and be highly intelligent has become nearly inescapable. Study after study presents fresh evidence that we’ve been underestimating animals.

Chimpanzees, crows, and cephalopods apparently use tools, apes form social groups, elephants mourn, goldfish get depressed, whales converse, crows, chickens, and goldfish remember faces, and on and on.

For many, the findings are confirmation of something we already suspected. But make no mistake, they call for a fundamental change in the way we see our place in the world: All other life on Earth is not, after all, here simply to serve us, and we thus have no moral right to continue treating it as if it is. It’s not surprising that there’s been some resistance, given the manner in which our casual, entitled use and treatment of animals is so embedded in our culture.

We’re only beginning to address the protection of non-human rights. That’s where the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) comes in. Now a group of philosophers has submitted an amicus curiae brief in support of its ongoing efforts to secure protection for the basic rights of two chimpanzees named “Tommy” and “Kiko”. We’ve written about the chimps’ cases and their tortuous journeys through the courts of New York State before. The NhRP is attempting to havion.” The organization is the subject of an excellent HBO documentary, Unlocking the Cage. (Trigger warning: The film contains just a handful of brief scenes that are difficult to watch.) NhRP knows its goals will take time and a lot of work….’

Via Big Think

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Influenza drug kills virus in one day

iac1Approved in Japan; US to follow:

‘Tamiflu (generic: oseltamivir), the go-to drug for combatting influenza has a new challenger.

Japanese drugmaker Shionogi has announced that test results are in: its drug kills the flu virus in 24 hours. With one pill.

The drug, named Xofluza (generic: baloxavir marboxyl), was recently granted accelerated approval by the Japanese government after trials of the drug showed great promise.

by inhibiting the enzyme that the flu virus needs in order to replicate, it kills the virus within a human in 24 hours. The symptoms continue for about the same amount of time as when Tamiflu is used, however, but they’re lessened and begin to go away faster. And both drugs lessen the effects of the flu versus no drug at all…’

Via Big Think

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Psychopaths are not all inherently alike from country to country

psychopathWhen you think of a psychopath, what qualities do you imagine? Your answer may depend on the country you’re from. Newly published research suggests that psychopaths are not the same worldwide: The most salient feature of psychopaths in the US seems to be callousness and lack of empathy, while the most central feature of psychopaths in the Netherlands is their irresponsibility and parasitic lifestyle.

Source: Olivia Goldhill, Quartz

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Closer to Forever Than You Think?

depositphotos_10535612_m-2015Futurologist Predicts that Humans Will Be Immortal by 2050

‘If someone told you that the human race is very close to living forever, what would you say? According to futurologist Dr. Ian Pearson, by 2050 we’ll have the capability to become “immortal.”

…One technique for extending our lifespan? Pearson points to advances in genetic engineering to prevent cell aging and scientists attempting to create 3D printed organs. This would allow us to simply replace “old parts” when necessary. While it might sound crazy, IFL Science points out that he may be alluding to factual studies, such as the gene editing tool, CRISPR-Cas 9.

But Pearson is really banking on android bodies as our pathway to immortality. Equating it to “renting a car,” he theorizes that “the mind will basically be in the cloud, and be able to use any android that you feel like to inhabit the real world.”

One final theory by Pearson eschews a physical body altogether, in lieu of the virtual world. “You could make as much fun as you could possibly imagine online. You might still want to come into the real world,” he predicts. “You could link your mind to millions of other minds, and have unlimited intelligence, and be in multiple places at once.” But alas, if you are getting ready for 2050, you better start saving your cash. Pearson predicts the first wave of technology will only be available to the ultra-rich, with it taking about 10 to 15 years to trickle down to the rest of us….’

Via My Modern Met

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Nobody Lives Here

usa_nobody_lives_hereMapping Emptiness in the U.S. and Beyond:

‘…[D]espite having a population of 310 million – the world’s third largest, after China and India – close to half of the U.S. is bereft of human habitation. …’

Source: Big Think

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How far away can you see a cherry red roadster?

elon_musk27s_tesla_roadster_284011030419229‘Yesterday, a telescope in Chile spotted Elon Musk’s electric car 3.7 million kilometers from Earth as it was passing by star cluster NGC 5694. Using orbital elements published by NASA, amateur astronomers are setting new distance records almost every day as they track the Roadster en route to the orbit of Mars. …’

Source: SpaceWeather

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Trump comes in last in expert presidential rankings survey

MATTHEW NUSSBAUM writes:

Worst. President. Ever. No. Surprise. 

‘…[T]he 2018 Presidents & Executive Politics Presidential Greatness Survey [was] released Monday by professors Brandon Rottinghaus of the University of Houston and Justin S. Vaughn of Boise State University. The survey results, ranking American presidents from best to worst, were based on responses from 170 current and recent members of the Presidents and Executive Politics section of the American Political Science Association.

Obama moved from 18th in 2014, when the survey was last conducted, to 8th in the current survey. Reagan jumped from 11th to 9th. Bill Clinton, meanwhile, fell from 8th to 13th — perhaps as a result of heightened attention to sexual misconduct in the midst of the #MeToo movement.

Trump came in dead last. …’

Source: Politico

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Tools of Trump’s Fixer

‘As accounts of past sexual indiscretions threatened to surface during Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign, the job of stifling potentially damaging stories fell to his longtime lawyer and all-around fixer, Michael D. Cohen.

To protect his boss at critical junctures in his improbable political rise, the lawyer relied on intimidation tactics, hush money and the nation’s leading tabloid news business, American Media Inc., whose top executives include close Trump allies.

Mr. Cohen’s role has come under scrutiny amid recent revelations that he facilitated a payment to silence a porn star, but his aggressive behind-the-scenes efforts stretch back years, according to interviews, emails and other records. …’

Source: The New York Times

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The End is Nigh?

NewImageHouse Russia investigation has ‘abundance’ of evidence against Trump, says top Democrat

‘Adam Schiff said the panel had seen evidence of collusion with Russia and obstruction by Donald Trump’s campaign and administration that is not yet public…’

Via The Guardian

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Horny Werewolf Day

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Warren Ellis

Sorry to have missed my chance to post this yesterday:

‘Happy Valentine’s Day to all. And to those who hate the day, I say this: Valentine’s Day is a Christian corruption of a pagan festival involving werewolves, blood and fucking. So wish people a happy Horny Werewolf Day and see what happens….’

Via Warren Ellis

(And, yes, my sweetheart and I did celebrate the day with a nice dinner and flowers.)

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Extremely endangered frog has online dating profile created by scientists in effort to save species

romeo-frog-full

Josh Gabbatiss writes:

‘Romeo, “the world’s loneliest frog”, has had an online dating profile set up by scientists in an effort to save his species from extinction.

The lovesick amphibian is the only known Sehuencas water frog in the world, and he has been calling for a mate ever since researchers collected him from the wild a decade ago.

Now they have launched him into the world of online dating in an effort to raise awareness and funds for the rejuvenation of his species. …’

Source: The Independent UK

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The Myth of Canine Shame (Or Is It Guilt?)

dog-shaming-39__605

William Brennan writes:

‘…”[D]og shaming” has become popular on Twitter and Instagram, as owners around the world post shots of their trembling pets beside notes in which the dogs seem to cop to bad behavior… Human enthusiasm for guilty dogs seems boundless: A 2013 collection of dog-shaming photos landed on the New York Times best-seller list; [one] video has been viewed more than 50 million times.

But according to Alexandra Horowitz, a dog-cognition expert at Barnard College, what we perceive as a dog’s guilty look is no sign of guilt at all… Far from signaling remorse, one group of researchers wrote in a 2012 paper, the guilty look is likely a submissive response that has proved advantageous because it reduces conflict between dog and human …’

Source: The Atlantic

However, I’m not sure I share the conclusion that this does not represent guilt. What we call guilt in humans is assumed to reflect a sense that one has done wrong by violating some moral code. But moral philosophers and psychologists know that some proportion of humans operate on the level not of governing their actions by some intrinsic sense of what is right or wrong but rather that of simply not getting caught by some powerful other — just what the researchers are saying is happening in the canine world.

PS: There is also a difference between “shame” and “guilt”. A rule of thumb is that shame is discomfort at who you are, whereas guilt is discomfort at something you’ve done. If you shame someone for something they did, you are globally condemning them as a person — or a dog — for a single action.

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You Think You Know Fruit?

NewImage‘…[F]ruit can still surprise us. Whether it’s a bright-orange bulb that tastes like peanut butter, a poisonous lychee relative that becomes edible and egg-like when cooked, or a Pacific Island native that doubles as sugary treat and fibrous dental floss, these plants show us that the fruit world still holds many wonders for those willing to explore it….’

Via Atlas Obscura

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R.I.P. Gene Sharp

Global Guru of Nonviolent Resistance Dies at 90:

NewImageGene Sharp, a preacher’s son whose own gospel of nonviolent struggle inspired velvet revolutions that toppled dictators on four continents, died Jan. 28 at his home in Boston. He was 90.

His death was announced by Jamila Raqib, an Afghan refugee who is the executive director of the Albert Einstein Institution, which Dr. Sharp founded in 1983 to promote indigenous regime change that does not invite violent retaliation.

His strategy was adopted by insurgents in the Baltics, Serbia, Ukraine, Burma (now Myanmar) and Egypt, during the Arab Spring turmoil. The Occupy Wall Street movement and other “occupy” demonstrations to protest economic inequality in the United States also drew from the Sharp manual.

Dr. Sharp became an intellectual father of peaceful resistance and the founder of an academic discipline devoted to his lifetime cause, one that synthesizes the philosophies espoused by Einstein, Gandhi, Tolstoy, Thomas Hobbes, Henry David Thoreau and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

He could also be a pragmatic strategist and, though generally shy and mild-mannered, a sometimes strident advocate.

Continue reading the main story He armed his diverse followers with a list of 198 of what he called “nonviolent weapons” of protest and noncooperation to disrupt or even paralyze oppressive authorities.

“In South America, they’re not tweeting Che Guevara; they’re tweeting Gene Sharp,” said the Scottish journalist Ruaridh Arrow, who made an acclaimed documentary film about Dr. Sharp in 2011, “How to Start a Revolution,” and wrote his biography, to be published this year….’

Via New York Times

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How Responsible are Killers with Brain Damage?

NewImage‘Can murder really be a symptom of brain disease? And if our brains can be hijacked so easily, do we really have free will?

Neuroscientists are shedding new light on these questions by uncovering how brain lesions can lead to criminal behavior. A recent study contains the first systematic review of 17 known cases where criminal behavior was preceded by the onset of a brain lesion. Is there one brain region consistently involved in cases of criminal behavior? No—the researchers found that the lesions were widely distributed throughout different brain regions. However, all the lesions were part of the same functional network, located on different parts of a single circuit that normally allows neurons throughout the brain to cooperate with each other on specific cognitive tasks. In an era of increasing excitement about mapping the brain’s “connectome,” this finding fits with our growing understanding of complex brain functions as residing not in discrete brain regions, but in densely connected networks of neurons spread throughout different parts of the brain.

Interestingly, the ‘criminality-associated network’ identified by the researchers is closely related to networks previously linked with moral decision making. The network is most closely associated with two specific components of moral psychology: theory of mind and value-based decision making…..’

Via Scientific American

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China has put a railgun on a warship

SNewImageShould America be worried?

‘…[W]e can rest somewhat assured that the railgun might not actually work. Fancy though it may be, it’s not easy to get a machine this powerful to fire at a target. The American military had up until fairly recently working on railgun technology but since dropped it in favor of more short-range weaponry; it looks like China was watching pretty closely and picked up the ball where America either lost interest or lost focus.

So, should anyone be worried? Maybe. It could be a while until the railgun actually gets used, and… this [might be] the kind of show-off weapon that is built mostly as a deterrent and/or status symbol. And besides, it’s not like we have a head of government who likes to tick off the Chinese. Oh, wait! We do. Well, we might be seeing the railgun sooner than later….’

Via Big Think

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How to Get Over Yourself

NewImageWhat Freud and Buddhism agree on about the ego, paraphrased from Mark Epstein’s essay, an excerpt from his excellent book A Guide to Getting Over Yourself:

Ego is the affliction we all have in common, and it is not an innocent bystander. While claiming to have our best interests at heart, ego-driven pursuits undermine the very goals it sets out to achieve. We need to loosen ego’s grip to have a more satisfying existence.

How we interact with our ego is up to us. We have gotten very little help with this in life; no one teaches us how to be with ourselves constructively. Goals which develop a stronger sense of self are generally cherished in our society but self-love, self-esteem, self-confidence and aggressively seeking what one wants do not guarantee well-being. If we look around, we see that people with a strong sense of self are suffering. In fact, the most important events in our lives from falling in love to giving birth to facing death all require the ego to let go.

We have the capacity to bring unbridled ego under control by focusing on internal successes instead of merely success in the external world. Our culture does not generally support such conscious de-escalation of the ego but there are advocates to be found, among them both Buddhist psychology and Western psychotherapy. Although developing in completely different times and places and until recently having nothing to do with each other, both the Buddha and Freud came to a virtually identical conclusion, identifying the untrammeled ego as the limiting factor to our well-being.

Neither Buddhism or psychotherapy aim to eradicate the ego, which would render us either psychotic or completely helpless in navigating the world and mediating conflicting demands of self and others. Both practices, in fact, build up some executive functions of the ego. Much of the benefit of modern meditation practice, for example, which has found a modern place in healthcare, on Wall Street, in athletics and in the military, lies in the ego strength it confers by giving people more control. But ego-enhancement, by itself, can only get us so far.

Both practices aim to rebalance the ego by strengthening the “observing I” over the “unbridled me.” Freud based his approach on free association and the interpretation of dreams. The self-reflection borne from psychoanalysis, staring into space and “saying whatever comes to mind,” shifts the ego toward the subjective, making room for uncomfortable emotional experiences, greater acceptance, and relaxation of ego struggles.

Buddhism teaches people to watch their minds without necessarily believing, or being captivated by, everything they see. In so doing, one is freed from being victimized by one’s most selfish momentary impulses. By making room for whatever arises in the mind and dwelling more consistently in an observing awareness, a meditator is training herself neither to push away the unpleasant nor to cling to the appealing. Observing ego is balanced and impersonal, more distant from the immature ego’s insistent self-concern and its fluctuation in the face of the incessant change life throws at us.

However, there are some differences between the focuses of psychotherapy and Buddhist meditation. Freud found the most illuminating thing to be the unconscious instincts that came to awareness through the process of psychoanalysis, giving people a deeper and richer appreciation of themselves and thus humbling the ego with a wider scope, greater awareness of its limitations, and greater freedom from being dictated to by instinctual cravings.

Buddhism finds inspiration, in contrast, in the phenomenon of consciousness itself and seeks to give people a glimpse of pure awareness. Not only do I experience things, I know that I am experiencing them and even know that I know I am doing so, in an endless regress. But once in awhile through deep meditation the whole thing collapses and there is no ‘I’, no ‘me’, just the pure awareness. It is hard to talk about but it is an indubitable result of this kind of mind training, and the consequent freedom from the limitations of one’s identity comes as a relief. The contrast from one’s habitual ego-driven state is overwhelming, and much of Buddhist tradition is designed to consolidate the perspective of this expanded awareness with one’s everyday perspective.

Via Big Think

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Trump Will Try to Fire Mueller. Again.

Timothy L. O’Brien writes:

‘Trump has the power to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the official overseeing Mueller’s probe, if Rosenstein doesn’t obey a request to fire Mueller. Trump could then tear through the Justice Department’s senior ranks, firing people until he finds one who would comply with his demands.

Although there’s some debate among legal scholars about how much latitude the president would have for such a purge, Trump’s previous maneuvering in this investigation suggests he believes he can do almost whatever he wants. …’

Source: Bloomberg

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With Attempt to Fire Mueller, the Answer to Whether Trump Obstructed Justice Now Seems Clear

John Cassidy writes:

‘Mueller and his team surely have evidence on obstruction of justice that has not yet been made public. But even on the available evidence, Trump’s position looks perilous indeed. The portrait is of a President using every resource at his disposal to shut down an investigation—of Trump himself. And now it has become clear that Trump’s own White House counsel rebelled at the President’s rationale for his actions. …’

Source: The New Yorker

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Ticking Time Bomb Under the Arctic?

NewImageScientists In Alaska Find Mammoth Amounts Of Carbon In The Warming Permafrost:

No one knows how great the effect is but it could be felt around the world, and there is evidence that the clock is ticking. For the first time in centuries, the Arctic permafrost is rapidly warming.

In northern Alaska, the temperature at some permafrost sites has risen by more than 4 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1980s, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported in November. And in recent years, many spots have reached record temperatures.

It shows no signs of returning to a reliably frozen state. And the consequences of the thaw could be disastrous. First of all, there is the release of the massive amounts of carbonaceous material frozen in the permafrost, twice as much as all the carbon humans have spewed into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution, could vastly accelerate climate change.

“We have evidence that Alaska has changed from being a net absorber of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to a net exporter of the gas back to the atmosphere,” says Charles Miller, a chemist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who measures gas emissions from Arctic permafrost.

It’ll be a feedback loop — warming stimulating CO2 release which in turn stimulates further warming, stimulating further CO2 release etc. — over which we would have no control.

Via NPR

Secondly, long-frozen ‘zombie’ pathogens may be waiting to rise and infect us as the permafrost thaws:

‘In the past few years, there has been a growing fear about a possible consequence of climate change: zombie pathogens. Specifically, bacteria and viruses — preserved for centuries in frozen ground — coming back to life as the Arctic’s permafrost starts to thaw.

The idea resurfaced in the summer of 2016, when a large anthrax outbreak struck Siberia.

A heat wave in the Arctic thawed a thick layer of the permafrost, and a bunch of reindeer carcasses started to warm up. The animals had died of anthrax, and as their bodies thawed, so did the bacteria. Anthrax spores spread across the tundra. Dozens of people were hospitalized, and a 12-year-old boy died.

On the surface, it looked as if zombie anthrax had somehow come back to life after being frozen for 70 years. What pathogen would be next? Smallpox? The 1918 flu?…’

(as seen in the recent British TV series Fortitude, set in Svalbard.).

Link

Trump Tweeted Support For The Women’s Marches. It Backfired.

Sara Boboltz writes:

‘Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for Women to March,” Trump wrote Saturday.

He then urged people to “[g]et out there now to celebrate the historic milestones” he said his administration had achieved, appearing to ignore that the marches largely exist to protest him, his presidency, his rhetoric toward women and his stances on a number of other issues. …’

Source: Trump Tweeted Support For The Women’s Marches. It Backfired.

Link

Narcissistic Buffoon Falsely Claims His Approval Among Black Americans Has Doubled

In the same week that his racism is reaffirmed by his
‘shithole’ comment:

‘The tweet — half misleading and half downright false — demonstrates how inaccurate information can trickle to the president’s social media, which is then is viewed by millions of people on Twitter and Facebook.

Survey Monkey’s results, provided to The New York Times, show that Mr. Trump’s approval ratings among black Americans actually declined from 20 percent in February 2017, his first full month in office, to 15 percent in December. (This is consistent with polling from the Pew Research Center and Reuters.)….’

Via New York Times