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What Happens If China Makes First Contact? "As America has turned away from searching for extraterrestrial intelligence, China has built the world’s largest radio dish for precisely that purpose."
The Samhuinn Fire Festival of 2015. Every year on October 31 the Beltane Fire Society (previously) celebrates the Celtic holiday Samhuinn (aka Samhain, aka Halloween) with a fire festival performance in Edinburgh’s Old Town.
Study finds pollution is deadlier than war, disaster, hunger. "Environmental pollution—from filthy air to contaminated water—is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. One out of every six premature deaths in the world in 2015—about 9 million—could be attributed to disease from toxic exposure, according to a major study released Thursday in the Lancet medical journal. The financial cost from pollution-related death, sickness and welfare is equally massive, the report says, costing some $4.6 trillion in annual losses—or about 6.2 percent of the global economy."
Hey, remember that monkey selfie copyright drama a few years ago? It's just hit the US appeals courts. But the crested black macaques of Sulawesi have more immediate concerns than copyright law: they are hunted for meat, kept as pets, and threatened by a shrinking habitat. For these monkeys, it’s a fight for survival.
The Great. Red. Spot. "On July 11, 2017, at 00:55 UTC, the armored tank of a space probe Juno reached perijove, the closest point in its orbit over the mighty planet Jupiter. Screaming above the cloud tops at over 200,000 kilometers per hour — fast enough to cross the continental Unites States in a minute and a half — it took eleven minutes and 33 seconds to reach the Great Red Spot. Looking down from its height of a mere 9000 km above the clouds, what it saw was ... glorious."
A stunning vocal rendition of Elgar’s Nimrod. "VOCES8, considered to be one of the world’s most versatile and best-loved a cappella groups, performed ‘Nimrod: Lux Aeterna’ [YT] from the English composer Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations as a tribute on Armistice Day 2016."
How to Mourn a Space Robot. "NASA’s Cassini probe will soon plunge into Saturn, ending its 13-year mission to the ringed planet and triggering a wave of grief among scientists, engineers, and an adoring public."
The Spirit of Standing Rock on the Move. "People from more than 300 tribes traveled to the North Dakota plains to pray and march in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux. Back home, each tribe faces its own version of the “black snake” and a centuries-old struggle to survive."
A ‘Stonehenge,’ and a Mystery, in the Amazon. "The conventional belief is that only small tribes could have inhabited the Amazon jungle, but new discoveries call that into question."
The Police Killings No One Is Talking About. "Native Americans are being killed by police at a higher rate than any other group in the country - but these deaths are rarely covered in the media. Now, Native groups are organizing for justice in a growing Native Lives Matter movement."
Inside the fight to reveal the CIA's torture secrets. "The first part of the inside story of the Senate investigation into torture, the crisis with the CIA it spurred and the man whose life would never be the same."
How Exhaustion Became a Status Symbol. "From sloth to burnout, each age remakes exhaustion in its own image."
Poaching Leaves Elephant Daughters in Charge. "As illegal hunting thins out the ranks of matriarchs, their daughters are taking over as leaders of their social groups."
The Forsaken (Aeron I TWOW) is a new excerpt chapter from The Winds of Winter, told from the point of view of Aeron Greyjoy. It was transcribed by fans after George R.R. Martin read it to the audience at Balticon last weekend, and it may lend credence to an insane fan theory. This comes a few weeks after he released another chapter from TWOW, this time from the POV of Arianne Martell (a character who isn't on the show) which highlighted the growing divide between the show and the books. GRRM also revealed a new backstory for Brienne of Tarth.
Is this Greek hilltop the 2,400-year-old burial place of Aristotle? "Greek archaeologists at Ancient Stagira, Central Macedonia, say they have found Aristotle’s tomb. Addressing the Aristotle 2400 Years World Congress, they point to the 2,400-year-old tomb as the most important finding from the 20-year excavation."
The Death of the Last Veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. "Delmer Berg, 100, was one of the Americans who volunteered to fight Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War, and he never stopped fighting for leftist causes." Berg died on February 28, 2016. The war ended 77 years ago today.
Woman Accused Of Murdering Her Abusive Ex Goes Free After Almost 3 Years Behind Bars. This is an update to the post last March about Cherelle Baldwin, who had been in prison for 21 months at the time for killing her abuser. Today, after nearly three years behind bars, she was set free. [Via Democracy Now]
boulders and bones (2014) by the ODC Dance Company of San Francisco (Highlights.) "Inspired by the work of visual artist Andy Goldsworthy [previously] and set to a live score commissioned by acclaimed avant-cellist Zoë Keating [previously], Way and Nelson’s fearless choreography touches on transformation in both art and nature. RJ Muna’s cinematic mise en scene, which traces the shifting light, changing landscape, and building process of Goldsworthy’s installation, takes us through the chaos of creative process to the clarity of realization."
"Goldwater discovered it; Nixon refined it; and Reagan perfected it into the darkest of the modern political dark arts." An excellent piece on the history of the Republican party’s racial politics since the Civil Rights Movement era, and how the 'Southern Strategy' and its dog-whistle appeal to racism paved the way for the current unpleasantness within the Grand Old Party.
Who Said ‘Game of Thrones’ Wasn’t for Kids? "What mother in her right mind would tell children the stories about beheadings and torture? A single parent for whom mealtimes are agony."
The day Iceland's women went on strike. "Forty years ago, the women of Iceland went on strike - they refused to work, cook and look after children for a day. It was a moment that changed the way women were seen in the country and helped put Iceland at the forefront of the fight for equality." [Via]
RED 4K Video of Colorful Liquid in Space. "Once again, astronauts on the International Space Station dissolved an effervescent tablet in a floating ball of water, and captured images using a camera capable of recording four times the resolution of normal high-definition cameras. The higher resolution images and higher frame rate videos can reveal more information when used on science investigations, giving researchers a valuable new tool aboard the space station. This footage is one of the first of its kind. The cameras are being evaluated for capturing science data and vehicle operations by engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama." [Via]
Mary Beard: why ancient Rome matters to the modern world. "Failure in Iraq, debates about freedom, expenses scandals, sex advice … the Romans seem versions of ourselves. But then there’s the slavery and the babies on rubbish heaps. We need to understand ancient Rome, but should we take lessons from it?" [Via]
Do I have boobs now? "Dear Facebook and Instagram, I'm a trans woman starting hormones. Are you going to censor me?"
We demand that women live in fear and behave impeccably to avoid 'asking for it.' "In an extract from her book, Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture — and What We Can Do About It, author Kate Harding explains how women order their lives around the fear of rape – and of being blamed for not preventing it."
Cassini Finds Global Ocean in Saturn's Moon Enceladus. "A global ocean lies beneath the icy crust of Saturn's geologically active moon Enceladus, according to new research using data from NASA's Cassini mission." The discovery of a global ocean beneath its icy rind makes Enceladus an even better potential extraterrestrial incubator than previously thought.
The extraordinary case of the Guevedoces. "Johnny lives in a small town in the Dominican Republic where he, and others like him, are known as 'Guevedoces', which effectively translates as 'penis at twelve' ... Like the other Guevedoces, Johnny was brought up as a girl because he had no visible testes or penis and what appeared to be a vagina. It is only when he approached puberty that his penis grew and testicles descended."
The Quiet Demise of the Army’s Plan to Understand Afghanistan and Iraq. "In the heyday of counterinsurgency, the United States military’s Human Terrain Teams were a bold idea. In the drone-war era, they became an anachronism." [Previously 1, 2]
Depiction vs. Endorsement and Sexism in GoT: How Game of Thrones presents a sexist narrative when A Song of Ice and Fire doesn’t (spoilers through GoT 5x03 and the books). "The world in which Martin set his A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF) is a terribly sexist one. But George R.R. Martin is not sexist. The books are not sexist. The show…is. And here’s why: where Martin actively forces the reader to address the problematic treatment of women in his series head-on as an overarching theme, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss (D&D) actively incorporate sexist tropes and demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of the source material."
Star Blazers Got Me Through The Shittiest Year Of My Childhood. Charlie Jane Anders: "I was a happy child, but I didn't have such a happy childhood. Other kids didn't get my weird vibe, especially in elementary and middle school. And one year in particular, we moved to a new city and a new school, and things got ugly. Only one thing kept me from losing my shit: Star Blazers..." [Previously]
Wings of Desire. "[There] stood the imposing figure of Tesla, wearing a crown of two pigeons on his head, his shoulders and arms festooned with a dozen more, their white or pale-blue bodies making strong contrast with his black suit and black hair, even in the dusk. On either of his outstretched hands was another bird, while seemingly hundreds more made a living carpet on the ground in front of him, hopping about and pecking at the bird seed he had been scattering. It was Behrend’s [the scout’s] impulse to rush in, shoo the birds away and, seizing the missing man, rush him back to the auditorium. Something caused him to halt. Such an abrupt action seemed almost sacrilegious. …" [Via]
Chinese retiree builds robotic horse. Inspired by an invention of Three Kingdoms-era chancellor Zhuge Liang, Chinese inventor Su Daocheng spent two months building a petrol-powered rideable robotic horse.
The Hunting of Billie Holiday. "How Lady Day found herself in the middle of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics’ early fight for survival."
The voices of Auschwitz. "The 70th anniversary of the liberation of the notorious Nazi concentration camp could mark the last major commemoration for many Holocaust survivors."
We Should All Step Back from Security Journalism. I’ll Go First. Quinn Norton (previously) responds to the sentencing of Barrett Brown (previously.) [Via]
Confusion Through Sand. (YouTube.) An animated short in which "a nineteen year old finds himself alone in a hostile desert, scared as hell, and trained to react." [Via]
He Took His Skin Off For Me. "The story of a man who takes his skin off for his girlfriend, and why it probably wasn't the best idea..." Based on the short story by Maria Hummer.
Hotter Than Lava: Every day, cops toss dangerous military-style grenades during raids, with little oversight and horrifying results. [Via]
On Not Remembering.
For me, dwelling on the past has become a habit of mind. Even more than that, it’s become the material of my work. My drive to make art out of the miserable, the glorious, the confusing material of my past, seems deeply embedded in my creative DNA. If I were a different kind of writer, my past might become merely the trace elements underlying my fiction; if I were a different kind of writer, I could have the multiple “I”s of the lyric poet without being held to any one of them as the absolute autobiographical truth. Instead, I seem condemned to the limited material of my own past.
Why Stoicism is one of the best mind-hacks ever. "As legions of warriors and prisoners can attest, Stoicism is not grim resolve but a way to wrest happiness from adversity."
Remember the Sand Creek Massacre. "The 1864 murder of 200 innocent Indians is still largely forgotten. Many people think of the Civil War and America’s Indian wars as distinct subjects, one following the other. But those who study the Sand Creek Massacre know different." The Horrific Sand Creek Massacre Will Be Forgotten No More. "The opening of a national historic site in Colorado helps restore to public memory one of the worst atrocities ever perpetrated on Native Americans." [Previously]
The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase's Worst Nightmare. "Meet the woman JPMorgan Chase paid one of the largest fines in American history to keep from talking."
The Philosophical Implications of the Urge to Urinate: Our Sense Of Free Will Diminishes When We Need To Pee Or Desire Sex.
Excerpts from Guy Debord’s “The Muppets.” "Though the name 'Guy Debord' is now synonymous with two things: Situationist philosophy and The Muppets, this pairing of passions was not as easily reconciled as you might think. 'I had to fight really hard not to be pigeon-holed as a Marxist theorist in the puppeteering community,' Debord once said. 'They told me 'Kids don't want to hear about how the concrete life of everyone has been degraded to a speculative universe, Guy.' I said 'How about we let the children decide that?' Decide they did..." [Previously, Via]