ACLU Warns: Trump’s Attorney General Pick Is the ‘Godfather’ of America’s Surveillance Hell

Uznql6raocoqbacwczy1’The corporate lawyer and former chief U.S. law enforcement officer nominated to replace Jeff Sessions at the Justice Department has a controversial past involving the warrantless surveillance of Americans and once fought to make it easier for phone companies to secretly hand over customer records to the government, legal experts at the American Civil Liberties Union warned on Wednesday.

In 1992, William Barr, who previously served as U.S. attorney general under President H.W. Bush, was instrumental in the development of a program that enabled the Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Agency to collect the telephone records of millions of Americans, regardless of whether they were suspected of criminal activity.…’

Via Gizmodo

Crossword, sudoku plague threatens America!

189ec27b d87e 499c a0ad 657169245a99Ron Rosenbaum:

’The world is divided between those who willingly waste precious moments, hours, weeks, years of life doing crosswords, double-crostics, sudoku, and other word and number puzzles—and those (like myself) who are virtually allergic to them. (The puzzles, not the people.)

I’m not claiming any superiority for those who share my allergy. (Well, that’s my story, anyway, and I’m sticking to it.) I just think our brains are wired differently. Really differently.

Try this experiment at a dinner party (if you want to ruin it). Mention a frequent obsession of puzzle people, the NPR “news quiz” show, Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! (Or, as I call it, “Wait Wait … Please Kill Me!”) About half the attendees will exhibit violent, often physical reactions ranging from cringing to shuddering. Meanwhile, the other half will have sublime self-satisfied smiles. They sometimes get the answers before the guests! The show is so mentally stimulating!

What always gets to me is the self-congratulatory assumption on the part of puzzle people that their addiction to the useless habit somehow proves they are smarter or more literate than the rest of us. Need I suggest that those who spend time doing crossword puzzles (or sudoku)—uselessly filling empty boxes (a metaphor for some emptiness in their lives?)—could be doing something else that involves words and letters? It’s called reading.…’

Via Slate

Green Burials and the Truth About the Dirty Death Industry

Yynwzasvlcmfwsnben1c’In the U.S., 18th and 19th century burials involved at most, a pine casket and a plot in a cemetery or on your land. But embalming techniques pioneered during the Civil War so thousands of soldiers could be brought home helped spawn the modern funeral industry. The death of Abraham Lincoln and the public viewings of his embalmed body as it was brought from Washington, D.C. to its final resting in Springfield, Illinois likely also contributed to the shift in how Americans conceive of death.

“The reports we get from that era is he [Lincoln] looked pretty doggone good for being dead after being assassinated with a bullet to the head,” Bill Hoy, an end of life expert at Baylor University, told Earther. “That confirmed that [embalming] is especially helpful for two things: One, when our dead’s death occurs a few days from home, and two, when an injury or disease process was such that dead just look horrible, and people thought ‘I don’t want that to be my last picture.’”

But while the growth of arterial embalming fluid gave loved ones more time to say goodbye and create a last memory, the processes also cuts bodies off from what some would argue is their final purpose, of giving life the Earth.

The modern green burial movement is a sort of course correction for the Western world. Acciavatti said that it’s always been much bigger in Europe compared to the U.S. “[i]n part because embalming was never really a thing there, but also because we’re so behind the curve in terms of green movements in the U.S.” But the U.S. is now catching up.

Ramsey Creek Preserve, the first modern green burial cemetery in the U.S., opened 20 years ago in South Carolina. Since then, roughly 150 green burial sites have opened their gates (if they even have them), allowing family and friends to bury loved ones in a more natural way. That generally means wrapping their body in a shroud, digging a grave that’s three feet deep—far enough down to not be detected by scavengers but not so far down as to be cut off from microbial decay—and keeping the grave unmarked.…’

Via Earther