October 8

Problem: "the American public has become more consistent and polarized"

American Democracy is Doomed is a Vox long(ish)read by Matthew Yglesias summarizing the work of Juan Linz on constitutional crises in presidential democracies (previously), which combined with constitutional hardball and ideological polarization threaten to destroy American democracy (#nottheonion). As Yglesias describes the problem, it's primarily structural, an inevitable result of rules that have failed in every other country that has tried them. (We're 30 for 30 so far.) (All but the first link are pdf.)
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:49 PM - 4 comments

Tragedy turned to slapstick

Benny Hill This makes all YouTube videos better by speeding them up and adding Yakkity Sax music. Technology has advanced from the last Benny Hill-ifier on MeFi in 2008, when speeding up technology did not yet exist. Some suggestions: Car chases! Light saber duels! Dirty Dancing (forward in three minutes for maximum enjoyment)! Donald Trump!
posted by blahblahblah at 12:38 PM - 6 comments

A drunk man's assault on a robot raises unusual legal issues

After a drunk man pummels a Pepper robot greeting customers at a store in Japan, robotics ethicists call for a new type of legal protection that would apply specifically to robots.
As more-advanced robots can already react to basic stimuli, navigate complex environments, and use specialized “intelligence” to accomplish narrowly defined tasks, they present themselves as far from human but also as something rather different from a toaster or basic tool. Weng calls for a set of laws to guide human interaction with robots as they become more common and more social. He argues that they are a “third existence,” after people and property, deserving of their own legal protections.
[more inside]
posted by Existential Dread at 12:06 PM - 43 comments

Britain's water crisis

The risk here is not that millions of people in Britain are suddenly going to die of thirst. It is that after all those years in which humans settled by rivers and thrived, we are now locked in conflict with our natural surroundings. Either the humans or the rivers have to suffer. At the moment, it is the rivers, although in the longer term a sick river will produce less water, so the humans will end up in trouble as well. (longformGrauniad)
posted by Kitteh at 11:43 AM - 9 comments

I know a guy and a gal

Marvel Studios is following up on that mid-credits scene from Ant-Man by announcing a sequel for 2018, titled Ant-Man and the Wasp. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:32 AM - 59 comments


Dabbawalla: Fast, efficient, and proud, Mumbai’s teams of home-to-work lunch couriers connect families through meals cooked with love. [more inside]
posted by Shouraku at 10:31 AM - 15 comments

Racial Profiling via Nextdoor.com

"Under the 'Crime and Safety' section of the site, the tone is much less neighborly. There, residents frequently post unsubstantiated 'suspicious activity' warnings that result in calls to the police on Black citizens who have done nothing wrong." [more inside]
posted by goatdog at 10:28 AM - 46 comments

The (mostly) limbless magician, penman, musician of the 18th Century

Matthias Buchinger, sometimes called Matthew Buckinger, described himself as "the wonderful Little Man of but 29 inches high, born without Hands, Feet, or Thighs." Despite being born (in Germany in 1674) with limbs "more resembling fins of a fish than arms of a man," he was renowned for his works as a calligrapher and micrographer (remarked for details illustrated in psalms written in characters of different sizes), builder of whimsey bottles (the oldest known "mining bottle"), and called the most extraordinary conjurer of all time. People may have initially gathered to see a tragedy, but instead were presented with an astounding range of impressive skills. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief at 9:54 AM - 3 comments

Why you might want to shred your boarding pass after flying

If you leave your boarding pass in the seat-pocket in front of you after your flight has landed, someone else could upload it to this site, and you might be surprised at how much they could find out about you.
posted by John Cohen at 9:22 AM - 24 comments

"Women blame women for things that have nothing to do with them."

The Passion of Nicki Minaj: "To put down a woman for something that men do, as if they're children and I'm responsible, has nothing to do with you asking stupid questions, because you know that's not just a stupid question. That's a premeditated thing you just did." [SLNYT]
posted by divined by radio at 9:16 AM - 35 comments

Greyjoys and Cthulhu devotees, rejoice!

Happy Cephalopod Appreciation Day! October 8 is Cephalopod Appreciation Day, the eighth day of the month celebrating those with eight tentacles. But it's not just a mere day of squidly homage, it's an entire week! [more inside]
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:04 AM - 16 comments

But I Want It

"Maybe you didn’t hear me. I really, really, really want it." Or, "The four conversations you can have with a small child."
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:50 AM - 54 comments

Bird of the Year

Every year, Forest and Bird New Zealand holds a vote for the (New Zealand) Bird of the Year. Will you vote for the cheeky kea, the fantail, the bellbird, the little blue penguin, the famous kakapo, the melodious kokako, the NZ robin, the plucky pukeko, the tui, the curious weka or one of the other contenders?
posted by scodger at 8:17 AM - 13 comments

"What happened to Lane is illegal."

"A BuzzFeed News investigation into Texas judicial practice found that with no public defenders present, traffic court judges routinely flout the law, locking up people for days, weeks, and sometimes even months because they did not pay fines they could not afford. The result is a modern-day version of debtors prison, an institution that was common two centuries ago but has been outlawed since the early ’70s."
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:50 AM - 44 comments

Love comes in so many forms and can be directed at so many things.

"There is no good answer to being a woman; the art may instead lie in how we refuse the question." In "The Mother of All Questions", Rebecca Solnit writes for Harper's about being asked to justify her own (and Virginia Woolf's) childlessness, and more broadly about how to define happiness and a meaningful life.
posted by Stacey at 6:35 AM - 32 comments

Twenty Hours and Ten Minutes of Therapy

Twenty Hours and Ten Minutes of Therapy Reflections at 50 on being young, scared, and coming out. Allison Green taped the therapy sessions she had when she was 23. Years later, she listened to them and wrote about what, and who, she heard.
posted by listen, lady at 6:22 AM - 10 comments

The winner will be revealed on November 10.

The Scotiabank Giller Prize presents its 2015 shortlist. The five titles were chosen from a longlist of 12 books announced on September 9, 2015. One hundred and sixty-eight titles were submitted by 63 publishers from every region of the country. [more inside]
posted by Fizz at 5:33 AM - 4 comments

The 2015 Nobel Laureate in Literature is Svetlana Alexievich

Svetlana Alexievich is the latest recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature: "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time". Alexievich is a Belarusian writer and is unusual among Nobel laureates in that she is primarily a non-fiction writer. Her most famous book is Voices from Chernobyl, and you can read an extract in The Paris Review. You can read more about her books on her website and read excerpts in English. John Lloyd wrote a long review of her book Zinky Boys for the London Review of Books. And you can read an interview with her on the home page of her American publisher, Dalkey Archive.
posted by Kattullus at 4:14 AM - 19 comments

October 7

‘Space Ghost Coast to Coast,’ Secretly TV’s Most Influential Show

Few people afford Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Cartoon Network’s strange, seminal comedy, its rightful place in the pantheon. But from its bargain-basement launch in 1994 to its place at the center of the wildly popular Adult Swim lineup in the 2000s, it helped introduce cringe comedy to the American viewing public, deconstructed the idea of the talk show beyond repair for a generation of comedians, and changed the look and feel of the entire animation art form.
posted by cthuljew at 11:25 PM - 80 comments

Mr. Oscilloscope Risin'

Break On Through by The Doors, played by vintage electronic equipment arranged by James Cochrane. Here's a version with vocals. [more inside]
posted by mattdidthat at 7:36 PM - 17 comments

Stereotype Threat, Imposter Syndrome and Stereotype Tax

How Poker Player Annie Duke Used Gender Stereotypes To Win Matches - "By the time she got to that championship game 10 years later, she had also figured out a way to make people pay, quite literally, for the stereotypes they had about her." (previously)
posted by kliuless at 6:54 PM - 61 comments

None more black

The Reinvention of Black
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:48 PM - 23 comments

The Great British Bake-off

The winner of the Great British Bake-off Season 6 (spoilers!) [more inside]
posted by dhruva at 5:52 PM - 51 comments

"No - no no no! Dude, don't do that!"

Extreme phone pinching is the latest trend sweeping social media networks, and it involves holding your expensive phone over perilous locations.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 5:41 PM - 57 comments

"You and I are in fact unequal."

Male engineering student Jared Mauldin, a senior at Eastern Washington University, wrote a letter to the editor of The Easterner expounding on the differences between him and the women entering his program. [more inside]
posted by headnsouth at 3:57 PM - 47 comments

"This is not who I am"

Steve Rannazzisi discusses with Howard Stern how a lie told by a young comedian seeking acceptance snowballed into a career-threatening scandal.
posted by Knappster at 3:49 PM - 62 comments

“This is for the kids,” he said, “I’m too old.”

A new trend in headwear is taking China by storm. The New York Times is on the case. [more inside]
posted by theodolite at 2:12 PM - 58 comments

The stage is set...

The Sherlock special trailer (SLYT)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:55 PM - 55 comments

Verus sis is futurus

The University of Antarctica has a central campus consisting of 400 acres in a built-up area around University Peak, Victoria Land. The official founding occured on Antarctic Independence Day (23 June 1961), when it became Antarctica's first (and still its only) university.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:44 PM - 29 comments

"...and I was licking the baby's face."

Earlier this year, legendary actor Brian Blessed withdrew from the Guildford Shakespeare Company's production of King Lear due to complications with an existing heart condition. And so to see his name trending on Twitter this morning was a cause of some alarm to his fans - until it was revealed that not only was he not dead, he was on BBC Radio 4 talking about a 1963 incident in which he helped a woman deliver her baby in a public park. [Warning: some birth details]
posted by angeline at 11:54 AM - 58 comments

You can't spell America without Gay Cabal

Author and historian Bob Arnebeck writes about early American history and its Founding Fathers' "relationships with men beyond conventional propriety." Featured characters include war hero and Washington D.C planner Pierre Charles L'Enfant, the first inspector general of the US Army Baron Von Steuben , and Alexander Hamilton. Bonus: Revolutinary America's tolerance for homosexuality by Victoria A. Brownworth.
posted by The Whelk at 11:51 AM - 24 comments

Squidward laughing spreads his wings, OH LORD YEAH!

If you watch only one completely-realized, well-lipsynched, full-length video mashing up Spongebob Squarepants clips with Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" this year, make it this one.
posted by not_on_display at 11:24 AM - 32 comments

Meatloaf Again?

From today's Atlantic magazine: a treatise on the economic history of leftovers, and how America's overall rise to the status of economic superpower lead to their downshift from "budget-minded lifesaver" to "butt of jokes." [more inside]
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:09 AM - 86 comments

Buck up, you melancholy dadbod!

Was Hamlet fat? Isaac Butler (previously) investigates for Slate.
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:34 AM - 24 comments

a button to stop all the chaos that doesn't work

On October 1st, Davey Wreden (creater of The Stanley Parable, previously) released The Beginner's Guide. "It lasts about an hour and a half and has no traditional mechanics, no goals or objectives. Instead, it tells the story of a person struggling to deal with something they do not understand." [more inside]
posted by erratic meatsack at 10:08 AM - 13 comments

Harvard Debate Team Loses to Maximum Security Prisoners

Harvard's debate team won the world championship in 2014 and the national championship in 2015, but lost to a team at the Eastern New York Correctional Facility, a maximum-security state prison. The debate program at Eastern is part of the Bard Prison Initiative, which teaches classes in six prisons across New York "to redefine the relationship between educational opportunity and criminal justice." [more inside]
posted by Etrigan at 10:06 AM - 43 comments

Wait..."the real Betty"?

The rebooting of Riverdale continues apace today with the release of "Jughead" by Erica Henderson and Chip Zdarsky, and the reviews are highly positive. [more inside]
posted by Ipsifendus at 9:03 AM - 25 comments

Sleep Aid

"It’s late, and you’re still awake. Allow us to help with Sleep Aid, a series devoted to curing insomnia with the dullest, most soporific texts available in the public domain." [more inside]
posted by Iridic at 9:03 AM - 45 comments

Megabeer is almost here

SABMiller may have rejected Anheuser-Busch InBev's latest offer, but some analysts think an eventual merger is inevitable. [more inside]
posted by dis_integration at 8:14 AM - 34 comments

"This is where people died. For that right. Our right."

Following the 2014 implementation of a strict photo voter ID law and a 54% increase in the cost of a driver license earlier this year, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency cited budget cuts as the instigating factor for the recent closure of 31 driver license bureaus across the state. As of last week, every county in Alabama where black citizens currently comprise more than 75% of registered voters has had its driver license office closed. [more inside]
posted by divined by radio at 8:01 AM - 121 comments

The white man in that photo

The story of Peter Norman, the Australian sprinter and third man in the Black Power salute picture from the 1968 Olympic Games. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:45 AM - 13 comments

Proposed D.C. Policy Would Offer 16 Weeks Paid Family Leave

The District would become the most generous place in the country for a worker to take time off after giving birth or to care for a dying parent under a measure proposed in the D.C. Council. Under the legislation introduced October 6, "almost every part-time and full-time employee in the nation’s capital would be entitled to 16  weeks of paid family leave to bond with an infant or an adopted child, recover from an illness, recuperate from a military deployment or tend to an ill family member," according to The Washington Post. [more inside]
posted by kat518 at 7:21 AM - 30 comments

The disaster that liberated me

When the Kashmir earthquake struck in October 2005, Tabinda Kokab was a teacher in a remote village close to the epicentre. She recalls the day that changed her life, and how it forced her to throw off the expectations that Pakistani society had placed on her as a woman. [more inside]
posted by daisyk at 7:21 AM - 5 comments

An outrage in Kunduz

The MSF (Médecins sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders) Trauma Center in Kunduz, Afghanistan, was attacked by US forces on October 3rd. The rationale for the attack remains unclear, with differing accounts being given by US officials. MSF has condemned the attack, in which at least twenty-two people were killed, and called for an independent inquiry into the bombing. [more inside]
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:56 AM - 137 comments

Hello, Darling.

This Friday, people will be able to go to the theater and see yet another interpretation of J.M. Barrie's "Peter Pan". Such news does not necessarily excite Barrie fans, given the middling results of some past interpretations (and Pan isn't being received much better). But the AV Club's Ryan Vlastelica argues they can take heart that the best "Peter Pan" movie was already made... in 2003.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 6:22 AM - 45 comments

Manoj Bhargava wants to change the world

Manoj Bhargava the inventor of 5 Hour Energy Drink (prev), wants to spend his billions fixing the world's problems. [more inside]
posted by readery at 5:45 AM - 25 comments

“...and at the time he was everybody’s favorite dad.”

To Revoke or Not: Colleges That Gave Cosby Honors Face a Tough Question by Sydney Ember and Colin Moynihan [New York Times]
Few people in American history have been recognized by universities as often as Mr. Cosby, whose publicist once estimated that the entertainer had collected more than 100 honorary degrees. The New York Times, in a quick search, found nearly 60. But now, as dozens of women have come forward to accuse Mr. Cosby of sexual assault, colleges across the country are confronting the question of what to do when someone who has been honored falls from grace.
[more inside]
posted by Fizz at 4:26 AM - 59 comments

A Criminal Mind

For 40 years, Joel Dreyer was a respected psychiatrist who oversaw a clinic for troubled children, belonged to an exclusive country club, and doted on his four daughters and nine grandchildren. Then, suddenly, he became a major drug dealer. Why?
posted by ellieBOA at 3:34 AM - 15 comments

October 6

Network Effect

networkeffect.io appears to be an internet art installation, with themes of connectedness and impermanence.
Caveat: Chrome only, and requires sound. Even so, worth it.
posted by ChrisR at 11:07 PM - 18 comments

SuperSisters! 1973 feminist trading cards

SuperSisters! This 1973 deck of 72 trading cards each featured a different famous woman (although Anita Bryant, Phyllis Schlafly and Angela Davis were not included...and a number of others, including Jane Fonda, declined respond when asked to participate). Peruse the whole deck at the University of Iowa Digital Libraries!
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:17 PM - 16 comments

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