Could Trump Make U.S. A Dictatorship?

Trump’s history-mimicking, incremental assaults on democracy

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’Trump hasn’t made a blatant lunge for dictatorial power. But his intermittent impulses toward autocracy have made it necessary for advisers, Congress and courts to contain him.

He argued during his campaign for the efficacy of torture and prosecuting his opponent, Hillary Clinton. He has threatened media whose coverage he found insufficiently admiring, and tried to suppress the Trump-damning book “Fire and Fury.”

He proposed an un-American religious test for immigrants and refugees to ban Muslims; infected the body politic with nepotistic and business-crony appointees; shrugs off Russian meddling in our elections; and discussed a mass roundup-cum-deportation of illegal immigrants…

To top it off, the president plays fawning footsie with real dictators.…’

Via WBUR Cognoscenti

Related: How America could become a dictatorship (Google search)

Ravens Spread Negative Emotions to Their Friends, Study Finds

1558461476225 201011 webRavens get bummed out if they see a feathered friend who’s in a bad mood, according to a study published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The adoption of feelings expressed by others is known as “emotional contagion,” and while it’s familiar to humans, it’s not as well understood in other social animals. Examining the phenomenon across species could shed light on the evolution of important abilities such as empathy, according to the study, which was led by Jessie Adriaense, a PhD student at the University of Vienna.…’

Via VICE

Did an era of lightning burn humanity out of the trees?

Unknown’A new paper just published in the Journal of Geology puts forth a new idea: A pair of supernovae ionized our atmosphere to such an extend that lightning became exceptionally common, and burned down the trees in which our ancestors lived.

The paper’s lead author, physicist and astronomer Adrian Melott of the University of Kansas, says, “It is thought there was already some tendency for hominins to walk on two legs, even before this event. But they were mainly adapted for climbing around in trees. After this conversion to savanna, they would much more often have to walk from one tree to another across the grassland, and so they become better at walking upright. They could see over the tops of grass and watch for predators. It’s thought this conversion to savanna contributed to bipedalism as it became more and more dominant in human ancestors.”…’

Via Big Think

R.I.P. ‘heroic icon of modern rock’n’ roll’

Roky Erickson dies aged 71

4066‘…Erickson’s death was confirmed by his representatives in a statement that described him as a “heroic icon of modern rock’n’roll and one of the best friends the music ever had”. The cause of death had not been released and the representatives appealed for privacy for his family.

ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, a long-time friend, said: “It’s almost unfathomable to contemplate a world without Roky Erickson. He created his own musical galaxy and early on was a true inspiration.”

Erickson was the frontman of the 13th Floor Elevators, a psych-rock band from Austin, Texas, where he grew up. Their rollicking debut single, You’re Gonna Miss Me, included on the Nuggets compilation that defines 1960s garage rock, remains one of the most celebrated songs from that scene – REM’s Peter Buck once described it as “Louie Louie, sideways”. It reached No 55 in the US charts and prompted a TV appearance on American Bandstand; Janis Joplin at one point considered joining the band.

The band were advocates of the use of LSD and their work became increasingly expansive – their eight-minute song Slip Inside this House, from their second album, would later be covered by Primal Scream.

Erickson struggled with mental health issues throughout his life, and was frequently treated in hospital for schizophrenia. When he was arrested for marijuana possession in 1969, he chose to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital instead of taking a jail term – he ended up spending three years in a maximum security hospital and was given damaging electric shock therapy. The hospitalisation brought the band’s career to an end, though they reunited for one-off gigs in 1984 and 2015.

Erikcson continued solo, with backing bands including the Aliens and the Explosives, though his mental health continued to suffer and he performed less in the 1980s and 90s. He was married twice and had three children. He told the journalist Nick Kent that he was an alien, something he confirmed to the Guardian in a 2007 interview: “At one time I had it notarised that I was from another planet. By a lawyer.” In 1989, he was arrested for stealing his neighbours’ mail, though the charges were later dropped. His younger brother, Sumner, was given custody of him in 2001.

Improved health meant that he returned to performance, collaborating with bands including Mogwai and Okkervil River. Both acts paid tribute to him on Saturday, the latter describing him as “the most beautifully unique person I’ve ever known and perhaps the most brilliant”.…’

Via The Guardian

Work-Related Burnout Has a New Official Definition

Unknown’Most of us have experienced a vague sense of feeling “burned out” by work, but now there’s a specific definition for what that actually means. The World Health Organization recently updated their International Classification of Disease codes (ICD–11) to define burnout as a syndrome with three dimensions.

The new definition doesn’t mean that burnout (or, as they call it, “burn-out”) is a disease; it’s classified as a “factor influencing health status.” Here’s the new definition:

Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: 1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; 2) increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and 3) reduced professional efficacy. Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.

If you feel like you meet the criteria for burnout, you might want to mention it next time you’re seeking medical or mental health care. On its own, burnout isn’t considered a medical condition, but it represents added stress in your life that you may need to deal with…’

Via Lifehacker

Related: How America Created “Burnout”:

Steven Hopper notes that working overtime is the norm in America, that many cannot afford time off from work in the only advanced economy that does not mandate paid vacation leave for its workers. Even when paid time off is provided, many Americans do not use their available time off. 

‘American society has bred a culture of “work harder to get ahead”, so many Americans feel like taking vacation would mean sacrificing their future career success. It is precisely this culture of work more and vacation less that is leading to increased rates of burn-out among Americans…’

Via Medium

Donald Trump pardons two war criminals and the country shrugs but the world is watching

West Pointer and journalist Lucian K. Truscott IV, writes:

‘War crimes are unique. Only during a war are you empowered to legally kill other people and given the weapons necessary to kill by the state. But the cases of the soldiers and sailors charged with war crimes have become just another norm for Trump to violate. This time, he has pardoned a murderer, something that no president has ever done. Enemies will remember these things. They will fight harder. They will kill more Americans.

We’ll be paying for Trump and his own war crimes for a very, very long time….’

Via Salon

Google Maps Is Going to Piss Off Cops Around the Globe With Its Latest Update

Adds Speed Trap Alerts in 40 Countries:

Images’Folks, I’ve got some great news if you’re a driver and some bad news if you’re a cop: Google has confirmed it’s rolling out the ability to see speed and mobile cameras, as well as speed limits, in more than 40 countries in Maps.

…They’re neat features, if the Google-owned navigation app Waze is any indication, the tech giant may see some pushback from law enforcement. Earlier this year, CBS New York obtained a cease and desist letter sent by the NYPD to Google over Waze alerts for DWI checkpoints. That letter, which can be read in full here, claimed that sharing information about the checkpoints with the app’s users “is irresponsible since it only serves to aid impaired and intoxicated drivers to evade checkpoints and encourage reckless driving.”…’

Via Gizmodo

What We Know About the Navy’s UFO Problem

Unknown’Over the course of two articles, one published in 2017 and the other just a few days ago, the NYT describes encounters between a carrier strike group centered around USS Nimitz in 2004 and aircrew from the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the 2014/2015 timeframe. The encounters with the utterly unidentified flying objects left highly trained and skilled sailors manning radars and flying some of the world’s most sophisticated fighter jets as at a loss as anyone else in describing what they had seen.…’

Via jalopnik.com

Incredible albino panda photographed in wild for the first time


Screenshot 83’This is thought to be the first photo of an all-albino panda. The beautiful animal was photographed by a trail camera at the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan Province, China. From The Guardian:

Local researchers said they believed the panda to be between one and two years old. The sex could not be determined from the photo, taken by an infrared camera installed in December last year to monitor wildlife in the area.

Spotting the albino panda is incredibly rare, given how infrequently albinism manifests. The giant panda, native to China, is the rarest member of the bear species, with fewer than 2,000 remaining in the wild……’

Via Boing Boing

Life as a Collective

What It’s Like to Have Multiple Personalities:

20 DID w330 h412 2x’Formerly called “multiple-personality disorder” and most often associated with murderous con artists on shows like Law & Order: SVU, dissociative-identity disorder (DID) is a widely misunderstood and controversial diagnosis. DID remains listed in the DSM–5, the most recent psychiatric diagnostic manual, where it is defined as “an identity disruption” involving two or more personality states, each of which may vary in behavior, memory, affect, and sensory-motor functioning, among other factors. Yet many professionals in the field have argued for its removal, even going so far as to call the diagnosis “bogus.”

Those who affirm DID’s legitimacy, like Bethany Brand, a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at Towson University, say that much of the controversy stems from the fact that most mental-health professionals have “shockingly little” training in trauma. DID, she says, is a trauma-based disorder, typically (though not always) formed by children in response to “very early, profound, chronic childhood abuse.”…’

Via The Cut

Chefs Are Sharing Their Biggest Restaurant Red Flags And OMG It’s A Lot To Process

Here are some of the pearls:GettyImages 464093892 1024x1024

  • “The first thing they told us in culinary school when you’re learning food safety is: If you enter a seafood restaurant and smell fish, leave.”
  • “Ask where your oysters come from. If they don’t know, you don’t want them. Same for most seafood.”
  • “In culinary school, every single chef instructor says the same thing: If it’s misspelled on the menu, that’s on purpose. It’s so they don’t have to sell you the real thing. A prime example is ‘krab cakes.'”
  • “When the menus are super dirty and never cleaned, that means everything is super dirty and never cleaned.”
  • “Don’t order fish on Sundays. Most places get their fish deliveries on a Monday and on a Thursday. Fish goes off fairly quickly, and on a Sunday it’s really not great.”
  • “If a pitcher of water touches your glass, it has also touched everyone else’s glass. Also, if you can’t see them pour your water, there’s something wrong.”

    Via BuzzFeed.

Is the Great Red Spot Unraveling?

Plume

’Around the world, amateur astronomers are monitoring a strange phenomenon on the verge of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot (GRS). The giant storm appears to be unraveling. “I haven’t seen this before in my 17-or-so years of imaging Jupiter,” reports veteran observer Anthony Wesley of Australia, who photographed a streamer of gas detaching itself from the GRS on May 19th:

The plume of gas is enormous, stretching more than 10,000 km from the central storm to a nearby jet stream that appears to be carrying it away. Wesley says that such a streamer is peeling off every week or so.…’

Via Spaceweather.com

Why Does English Have More Words for Sports Officials Than Any Other Language?

The terminology for sports officials in English makes no sense and has no pattern—or if it does, it’s so riddled with holes as to be pointless…

Image’WHEN TALKING SPORTS, USING THE wrong terms—referring to a basketball game as a “match,” say, or talking about “points” in baseball—will immediately give you away as a non-aficionado, a person who doesn’t even have a grasp of the basics. But one of the oddest sets of terminology is what to call the uniformed people who make the rule decisions in the course of a sporting event. “This realm of vocabulary is one of the things that can expose you as someone who doesn’t know a ton about a sport, because it’s so unpredictable and so uneven from sport to sport,” says Seth Rosenthal, a writer, producer, and host at the sports publication SB Nation.

Mention the referees at a baseball game or the umpire at a basketball game and it’s clear you know nothing. And that’s perhaps a little unfair because the terminology for sports officials in English makes no sense and has no pattern—or if it does, it’s so riddled with holes as to be pointless. This is not the case in other languages (with one pretty major exception). In English-speaking countries sports officials have a dizzying array of names, without any kind of unifying structure as to the role each plays.

How is it that the United States, England, Australia, and other Anglophone countries have so thoroughly stumbled over what to call our sports officials? Around the world, from France to Japan to Brazil, the naming of sports officials is clear, consistent, straightforward. But in English, it’s more like a trap.…’

Via Atlas Obscura

‘Is This Copernicus Coming Back to Haunt Us?’

UnknownCosmological evidence we really might be the center of the universe

’The “Axis of Evil” is a name given to an anomaly in astronomical observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). The anomaly appears to give the plane of the Solar System and hence the location of Earth a greater significance than might be expected by chance – a result which appears to run counter to expectations from the Copernican Principle.

The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation signature presents a direct large-scale view of the universe that can be used to identify whether our position or movement has any particular significance. There has been much publicity about analysis of results from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) and Planck mission that show both expected and unexpected anisotropies in the CMB. The motion of the solar system, and the orientation of the plane of the ecliptic are aligned with features of the microwave sky, which on conventional thinking are caused by structure at the edge of the observable universe. Specifically, with respect to the ecliptic plane the “top half” of the CMB is slightly cooler than the “bottom half”; furthermore, the quadrupole and octupole axes are only a few degrees apart, and these axes are aligned with the top/bottom divide.

Lawrence Krauss is quoted as follows in a 2006 Edge.org article:[5]
But when you look at CMB map, you also see that the structure that is observed, is in fact, in a weird way, correlated with the plane of the earth around the sun. Is this Copernicus coming back to haunt us? That’s crazy. We’re looking out at the whole universe. There’s no way there should be a correlation of structure with our motion of the earth around the sun – the plane of the earth around the sun – the ecliptic. That would say we are truly the center of the universe.…’

Via Wikipedia

Yes, This Photo from Everest Is Real

Did Everest ‘Traffic Jam’ Contribute to Climber’s Death?

Summit crowding h’Earlier this week, American climber Don Cash died on Everest hours after he had reached the summit. As Alan Arnette reported for Outside, Cash was one of about 200 people who went to the top of the world that day, and he encountered a traffic jam on his way down. “When Cash and his Sherpa guides got to the Hillary Step they were forced to wait their turn for at least two hours,” wrote Arnette.…’

Via Outside Online

‘The American form of government is uniquely structured to exacerbate the urban-rural divide — and to translate it into enduring bias against the Democratic voters…’

via 3 Quarks Daily

Republican Reps. Justin Amash (MI), Jim Jordan (OH), and Chair Mark Meadows (NC) participate in an interview on April 6, 2017.

‘…Mark Sanford was shocked to learn that his former colleague Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), who last weekend became the sole Republican to call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, had been formally censured by the House Freedom Caucus.

The Freedom Caucus unanimously voted to condemn Amash, a founding member, on Monday evening for speaking out against Trump, escalating the treatment that Trump critics — like former Sens. Bob Corker and Jeff Flake and even Sanford — have received in the past.

..To outside observers like Sanford, it was a telling moment. The Freedom Caucus was once a group designed to fight against a certain Republican Party groupthink, to promote small-government and constitutionally conservative ideals, but it is increasingly indistinguishable from Trump…’

via  Vox

Earlier this week, Judd Legum’s Popular Information newsletter reported that, in recent years, six corporations contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the lawmakers behind six-week abortion bans in Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio. In an attempt to fight back, consumers across the country have started organizing boycotts.

For a full list of who took money from whom, you should read the entire Popular Information post, but here’s a quick rundown of the corporations involved and which candidates accepted the largest donations:

  • AT&T: $196,600 total, including $113,000 to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and $15,000 to Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant
  • Eli Lilly: $66,250 total, including $30,000 to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and $7,000 to Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn
  • Walmart: $57,700 total, including $7,000 to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and $10,000 to Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof
  • Pfizer: $53,650 total, including $6,600 to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and $12,700 to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine
  • Coca-Cola: $40,800 total, including $10,000 to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and $6,600 to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp
  • Aetna: $26,600 total, including $6,600 to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and $5,250 to Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof

via Lifehacker

The Solitary Garden

 

Bottle plants’In 1960, David Latimer put some compost, water, and plant seeds into a large glass jar and sealed it up. And it’s been growing like that ever since, save for when Latimer opened the bottle to water it in 1972.

It’s easy to take nature and evolution for granted but think about how marvelous this is. Over billions of years, an ecosystem evolved on Earth that can sustain itself basically forever using light from the Sun.…’

Via Kottke

Measles Had Been Eliminated. Now It’s Nearly a Daily Threat

Science measles baby 1144426161’Since January 1, the rash- and fever-causing virus has sickened 880 people across 24 states. That’s more than all the cases of the past three years combined. The epicenter for this year’s spike is two outbreaks in New York—in Brooklyn and Rockland County—that public health officials have been struggling to curb since last fall. And the longer the virus continues to circulate in these communities, and spread to new ones, the more likely it is the US will be plunged back into a time when measles hot spots persist as a constant daily presence.…’

Via WIRED

Geneticist: It’s time we stopped human evolution

Unknown’Our greatest achievement as a species has been to break free from the sheer naked ferocity of evolution. It means we need GM food to avoid starvation. We need additives to ensure that the food we grow can be safely consumed before it spoils — an important consideration for an increasing population. And most importantly of all, we need vaccines to prevent disease. We must never again expose our children to the wholesome, fully organic, unblemished and obscene fury of Mother Nature unleashed. Love science, hate evolution. Coming to a car bumper sticker near you soon, I hope.…’

Via Big Think

Here’s how to help women in Alabama get an abortion

YelloXeni Jardin on Boing Boing:

’It’s a bad day. But there are things you can do to help the women affected by abortion bans like the one Alabama’s female Republican governor cynically signed into law today, touting the sanctity of life, and forgetting all about the lives of women who will suffer under this abuse of state power.

Here is a thing you can do to help women.

Donate to The Yellowhammer Fund to help the women of Alabama with medical costs, and travel and a place to stay, if they need and/or want an abortion.…’

Via Boing Boing

Is There a Witch Bottle in Your House?

Is there a witch bottle in your house 1050x700’In 2008, a ceramic bottle packed with about fifty bent copper alloy pins, some rusty nails, and a bit of wood or bone was discovered during an archaeological investigation by the Museum of London Archaeology Service. Now known as the “Holywell witch-bottle,” the vessel, which dates between 1670 and 1710, is believed to be a form of ritual protection that was hidden beneath a house near Shoreditch High Street in London.

“The most common contents of a witch-bottle are bent pins and urine, although a range of other objects were also used,” writes archaeologist Eamonn P. Kelly in Archaeology Ireland. Sometimes the bottles were glass, but others were ceramic or had designs with human faces. A witch bottle might contain nail clippings, iron nails, hair, thorns, and other sharp materials, all selected to conjure a physical charm for protection. “It was thought that the bending of the pins ‘killed’ them in a ritual sense, which meant that they then existed in the ‘otherworld’ where the witch travelled. The urine attracted the witch into the bottle, where she became trapped on the sharp pins,” Kelly writes.

It’s probable many witch bottles were made as a remedy at a time when available medicine fell short.
Akin to witch marks, which were carved or burned onto windows, doors, fireplaces, and other entrances to homes in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, witch bottles were embedded in buildings across the British Isles and later the United States at these same entry points. “The victim would bury the bottle under or near the hearth of his house, and the heat of the hearth would animate the pins or iron nails and force the witch to break the link or suffer the consequences,” anthropologist Christopher C. Fennell explains in the International Journal of Historical Archaeology.…’

Via JSTOR Daily

Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up has created a flood of clothing no one wants.

Dec03c87 bfe2 48e3 89e4 8cc8050c27c7’Marie Kondo has convinced us of the morality of purging. If we knew where our clothes ended up, though, we’d feel differently… The problem is that most of our donated clothing does not reach any sort of higher purpose; it just ends up as waste. Clothing is one of the fastest-growing categories in landfills in the U.S. Almost 24 billion pounds of clothes and shoes are thrown out each year, more than double what we tossed two decades ago. And there’s every reason to believe the show only added to the problem, Adele Meyer, executive director of the Association of Resale Professionals, confirmed to me.…’

Via Slate

The drone of dread

UnknownThat movie sound you hear every time something bad is about to happen:

‘For almost a century, film composers and sound designers have used a similar sound to create a tension in movies: that long, eerie, sustained tone (or cluster of tones) known best as “the drone of dread.”

Drones can be low- or high-pitched, subtle or cacophonous, and made with a variety of instruments and electronic tools, but the effect is always the same. It instantly produces a sense of anxiety, as if out of thin air.…

[You] can hear it in everything from 2001: A Space Odysseyto The Thing to, more recently, The Dark Knight and The Social Network. This week’s episode of Game of Thrones, in fact, had an obvious drone toward the end that signaled a character’s impending doom…’

Via Quartz

How to Clean Up After a Nuclear Disaster

How to clean up a nuclear disaster 1050x700’It’s been eight years since the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The resulting damage led to hydrogen explosions and a partial meltdown, releasing radiation into the surrounding area. After workers’ brave efforts stabilized the situation, they began to focus on long-term cleanup. The cleanup recently reached a major milestone when workers began removing nuclear fuel rods for disposal. But how do you really clean up a nuclear accident?…’

Via JSTOR Daily

I wish there was something in Alabama worth boycotting.

A Bizarre Form of Water May Exist All Over the Universe

Quanta Superionic Experiment

’RECENTLY AT THE Laboratory for Laser Energetics in Brighton, New York, one of the world’s most powerful lasers blasted a droplet of water, creating a shock wave that raised the water’s pressure to millions of atmospheres and its temperature to thousands of degrees. X-rays that beamed through the droplet in the same fraction of a second offered humanity’s first glimpse of water under those extreme conditions.

The X-rays revealed that the water inside the shock wave didn’t become a superheated liquid or gas. Paradoxically—but just as physicists squinting at screens in an adjacent room had expected—the atoms froze solid, forming crystalline ice…

The findings, published this week in Nature, confirm the existence of “superionic ice,” a new phase of water with bizarre properties. Unlike the familiar ice found in your freezer or at the north pole, superionic ice is black and hot. A cube of it would weigh four times as much as a normal one. It was first theoretically predicted more than 30 years ago, and although it has never been seen until now, scientists think it might be among the most abundant forms of water in the universe.

Across the solar system, at least, more water probably exists as superionic ice—filling the interiors of Uranus and Neptune—than in any other phase, including the liquid form sloshing in oceans on Earth, Europa and Enceladus. The discovery of superionic ice potentially solves decades-old puzzles about the composition of these “ice giant” worlds.…’

Via WIRED

A Manifesto for Opting Out of an Internet-Dominated World

03Bromwich2 jumboHow to do nothing: resisting the attention economy:

’In 2015, Jenny Odell started an organization she called The Bureau of Suspended Objects. Odell was then an artist-in-residence at a waste operating station in San Francisco. As the sole employee of her bureau, she photographed things that had been thrown out and learned about their histories. (A bird-watcher, Odell is friendly with a pair of crows that sit outside her apartment window; given her talent for scavenging, you wonder whether they’ve shared tips.)

Odell’s first book, “How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy,” echoes the approach she took with her bureau, creating a collage (or maybe it’s a compost heap) of ideas about detaching from life online, built out of scraps collected from artists, writers, critics and philosophers. In the book’s first chapter, she remarks that she finds things that already exist “infinitely more interesting than anything I could possibly make.” Then, summoning the ideas of others, she goes on to construct a complex, smart and ambitious book that at first reads like a self-help manual, then blossoms into a wide-ranging political manifesto.…’

Via The New York Times

Mexico plans to decriminalize all illegal drugs

NewImage’“Prohibitionist strategy is unsustainable,” reads the policy plan…. The five-year policy plan calls for prescribing treatment programs instead of punishments to drug users. It’s unclear what effects the laws would have on Mexican cartels, which make the bulk of their money selling drugs in the U.S.…’

Via Big Think

Axe Handles

One afternoon the last week in April
Showing Kai how to throw a hatchet
One-half turn and it sticks in a stump.
He recalls the hatchet-head
Without a handle, in the shop
And go gets it, and wants it for his own.
A broken-off axe handle behind the door
Is long enough for a hatchet,
We cut it to length and take it
With the hatchet head
And working hatchet, to the wood block.
There I begin to shape the old handle
With the hatchet, and the phrase
First learned from Ezra Pound
Rings in my ears!
“When making an axe handle
                 the pattern is not far off.”
And I say this to Kai
“Look: We’ll shape the handle
By checking the handle
Of the axe we cut with—”
And he sees. And I hear it again:
It’s in Lu Ji’s Wên Fu, fourth century
A.D. “Essay on Literature”-—in the
Preface: “In making the handle
Of an axe
By cutting wood with an axe
The model is indeed near at hand.”
My teacher Shih-hsiang Chen
Translated that and taught it years ago
And I see: Pound was an axe,
Chen was an axe, I am an axe
And my son a handle, soon
To be shaping again, model
And tool, craft of culture,
How we go on.

Gary Snyder (1983)

Psychiatrists warn the Mueller report provides more evidence Donald Trump is mentally unfit to serve

Brad Reed writing on “Psychiatrists warn…”:

‘Three psychiatrists have written an editorial for the Boston Globe warning that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election shows more evidence that President Donald Trump is mentally unfit to hold office.

The psychiatrists — Dr. Bandy X. Lee of Yale, Dr. Leonard L. Glass of Harvard Medical School, and Edwin B. Fisher of University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill — argue that Mueller’s report provides a disturbing new window into the president’s behavior, which is frequently marked by impulsive emotional meltdowns.

“The pattern that emerges of the president is one of rash, short-sighted decision-making, without consideration of consequences,” they write. “Reckless, impulsive moves that are self-destructive, despite the intention of self-protection, are characteristic of dangerous impairment. They impede Trump’s capacity to prioritize national security.”

They then quote from sections of the Mueller report that illustrate these behaviors, including his efforts to dangle pardons to potential witnesses and his effort to get Mueller fired as special counsel….’

Via Salon

The hazards of living on the right side of a time zone border

Status quo

People who live further west in a time zone experience fewer days with natural morning light. As a result, they depend upon electric light to get ready for work and other business of the day. Lighter colors mean more mornings per year in light.

’Writing in the Journal of Health Economics, authors Osea Giuntella of the University of Pittsburgh and Fabrizio Mazzonna of Università della Svizzera Italiana took an innovative slant on the effect of position in a time zone on health and economics. They were interested in something called “social jet lag.”

The idea is that given the constraints of modern life, most people are out of sync with their natural circadian rhythms, which should follow the sun. Instead, we use electric light to synchronize most of our societal activities regardless of where the sun is at in its course through the heavens.

The conflict is that the primordial cycle of light and dark from the sun is deeply embedded within our evolutionary past as coded in our DNA; we have a “built-in” biological time for body temperature, hormone levels, sleep, and much more, that cycles very close to 24 hours.

Modern society requires synchronization in such things as school start times, work times and television watching times. All of these can desynchronize our social activity from our biological time. There is mounting evidence that chronic circadian rhythm disruption leads to several serious diseases as well as depression and mood disorders. On a societal level, the economic impact may also be large.

Lefties of a boundary healthier than righties?

As a test of this idea, Giuntella and Mazzonna predicted that at the boundaries between time zones within the United States, people on the left side of the boundary would be healthier than people on the right side, and the economies stronger; the left side would be the eastern extreme of one time zone, and the right side would be the western extreme of the adjacent time zone. The sun sets about an hour later on the right side.

Their primary unit of analysis was the county. They used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from the U.S. Census, as well as information on sleep duration and quality from two national surveys. They did several different analyses, one of which was to group counties within 100 miles of the time zone boundary into two groups, one on the left side and one on the right side. They then compared the two groups for health outcomes.

As they predicted, there were discontinuities between counties on either side of time zone boundaries in sleep and in risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer. In each case, counties on the right side of the boundary did worse: shorter sleep and higher risk of disease. They then calculated an overall composite health index using the diseases cited above, and it, too, was lower in the counties on the right side. They ascribe their findings to the later clock time of sunset on the right side of the boundary.…’

Via The Conversation

Real-time satellite imagery on your Mac desktop with Downlink

Downlink’While browsing the GOES Image Viewer a few months ago, I had an idea: with the data frequency that these new GOES satellites provide, I could build a Mac app that pulls the newest image every 20 minutes and sets it as your desktop background.

What resulted was a simple little menu bar app that gives you a near real-time view of Earth all day long. I’ve been using it for a few weeks as I’ve built it, and it is an absolute joy to have a window to Earth all day.…’

Via Main Engine Cut Off (thanks to Jason Snell)

Are these 100 people killing the planet?

Unknown’Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs. The climate crisis may be too complex for these 100 people to solve, but naming and shaming them is a good start.…’

Via Big Think

Is acting hazardous?

UnknownOn the risks of immersing oneself in a role:

’In 2008, actor Heath Ledger accidentally overdosed on sleeping pills and died, aged 28.
One myth that attached itself to Ledger’s death was that it was somehow a result of immersing himself in the character of the Joker.
New research suggest that fully immersed actors “forget themselves” in the sense that they actively ignore facts about who they are, temporarily subordinating their own thoughts and feelings to those of their character.…’

Via Big Think

U.N. biodiversity report says 1 million species face extinction

UnknownAnd humans will suffer as a result:

  • The United Nations reported that nature is declining at an unparalleled rate, and humans are the cause. [Washington Post / Darryl Fears](https://voxcom.cmail19.com/t/d-l-pttihdt-puyhiujv-t/)
  • The UN’s biodiversity report outlines a shocking reality: 1 million species are on the verge of extinction, which threatens human survival as well. [[National Geographic / Stephen Leahy](https://voxcom.cmail19.com/t/d-l-pttihdt-puyhiujv-i/)
  • Climate change is the driving force behind this decline. Overfishing, the use of fossil fuels, pollution, and neglect of the growth of invasive species have also been identified as the cause behind the dwindling biodiversity. [NYT / Brad Plumer](https://voxcom.cmail19.com/t/d-l-pttihdt-puyhiujv-d/)
  • While this isn’t the first report to predict Earth’s grim future, this report stands out because it details how humans drastically rely on the well-being of these specimens. The health of our ecosystem is directly tied to food security and access to clean water. [Smithsonian Magazine / Maddie Burakoff](https://voxcom.cmail19.com/t/d-l-pttihdt-puyhiujv-h/)
  • The situation has already gotten so bad that small efforts will not suffice, and governments will need to make transformative changes if they want to save the planet. Some of the solutions suggested by the authors include adopting techniques that grow more food on less land and cracking down on illegal logging and fishing. [AP / Seth Borenstein](https://voxcom.cmail19.com/t/d-l-pttihdt-puyhiujv-k/)
  • Nations have begun to recognize the threat of a failing ecosystem, and two high-level summits have already been scheduled for world leaders to discuss their conservation goals in 2020. [CNN / Isabelle Gerretsen](https://voxcom.cmail19.com/t/d-l-pttihdt-puyhiujv-b/)
  • The UN report sends a dire message to all nations that action needs to be made –– quickly. Changing lifestyles to prevent a climate catastrophe may seem arduous, but the cost of doing nothing will be much higher. [Guardian / Robert Watson](https://voxcom.cmail19.com/t/d-l-pttihdt-puyhiujv-n/)

Frankly, We Do Give a Damn

UnknownStudy: People who swear are more honest:

’There are two conflicting perspectives regarding the relationship between profanity and dishonesty. These two forms of norm-violating behavior share common causes, and are often considered to be positively related. On the other hand, however, profanity is often used to express one’s genuine feelings, and could therefore be negatively related to dishonesty. In three studies, we explored the relationship between profanity and honesty. … We found a consistent positive relationship between profanity and honesty; profanity was associated with less lying and deception at the individual level, and with higher integrity at the society level.…’

Via Stanford Graduate School of Business

Finnegan’s Wake at 80: In Defense of the Difficult

Screen Shot 2019 05 03 at 8 01 41 AMSuzie Lopez:

’The Wake has been called “the most colossal leg pull in literature” and even Joyce’s patron fell out with him over it. But Wake scholarship is thriving more than ever. In the words of Joyce Scholar Sam Slote almost “any analysis will be incomplete.” After Ulysses, Joyce was interested in the subconscious interior monologue, our dreaming lives. He also wanted to shatter the conventions of language to form an almost eternal every-language. It sounds somewhat like the dial of a radio in Joyce’s time, static turning into myriad languages. Joyce intentionally made passages more obscure to evoke radio. PHD candidate Yuta Imazeki has calculated “numbers of portmanteaux and foreign words in the radio passage” that are higher in frequency than any others; intentionally obscure. So is it an indecipherable ruse or a harbinger of hypertext? Could it even be… therapeutic? As a self-taught enthusiast, how did I even get into this?…’

Via Literary Hub

Jon Stewart leaving ‘Daily Show’ helped Trump win presidency

Unknown’Jon Stewart was once asked to describe his importance as a political commentator on The Daily Show. He replied: “On a scale of zero to 10, I’d go with a zero, not very important.”

That was dead wrong, according to a new study that suggests Stewart’s 2015 departure from the left-leaning show caused not only a drop in ratings, but also a slight drop in voter turnout in the 2016 presidential election – enough to tip the scales in favor of President Donald Trump.…’

Via Big Think

Stressing about aging damages your brain, shortens your life

UnknownDementia, disrespect, and loneliness – that is not your future, says aging expert Ashton Applewhite:

’The best anti-aging advice? Stop stereotyping old people! Cultural messaging about the pitfalls of old age causes undue stress that prematurely ages the brain and shortens life spans.
People who have a positive outlook on aging can live 7.5 years longer than those who buy into cultural stereotypes about getting old.…’

Via Big Think

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

CoolToolsSyringe 0010249

’“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:

Unknown

’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