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.)
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!
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]
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)
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]
Dabbawalla: Fast, efficient, and proud, Mumbai’s teams of home-to-work lunch couriers connect families through meals cooked with love. [more inside]
"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]
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]
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.
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]
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]
"Maybe you didn’t hear me. I really, really, really want it." Or, "The four conversations you can have with a small child."
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?
"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."
"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.
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.
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]
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.
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.
Break On Through by The Doors, played by vintage electronic equipment arranged by James Cochrane. Here's a version with vocals. [more inside]
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)
Extreme phone pinching is the latest trend sweeping social media networks, and it involves holding your expensive phone over perilous locations.
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]
Steve Rannazzisi discusses with Howard Stern how a lie told by a young comedian seeking acceptance snowballed into a career-threatening scandal.
The Sherlock special trailer (SLYT)
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.
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]
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.
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.
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]
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]
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]
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]
"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]
SABMiller may have rejected Anheuser-Busch InBev's latest offer, but some analysts think an eventual merger is inevitable. [more inside]
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]
The story of Peter Norman, the Australian sprinter and third man in the Black Power salute picture from the 1968 Olympic Games. [more inside]
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]
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]
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]
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.
Manoj Bhargava the inventor of 5 Hour Energy Drink (prev), wants to spend his billions fixing the world's problems. [more inside]
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]
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?
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.
Caveat: Chrome only, and requires sound. Even so, worth it.
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!