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Posted by Miss Cellania

The 1989 baseball movie Major League featured a half-dozen stars from the 1980s and '90s, and was quite a hit, although its two sequels were nothing to write home about. The Cleveland Indians owner sabotages the team in order to move it to Florida. The mediocre replacement players have to rise to the occasion, so you can see the ending coming a mile away. Those who remember Major League fondly will want to learn some trivia about it.   

5. Charlie Sheen actually took steroids for this role.

He admitted this to Sports Illustrated and said that taking steroids was what allowed him to actually pitch an 85 mile an hour fastball.

4. The MLB salary minimum back then was a little over $60,000 a year.

This was double the average household income so it was a good paycheck for just being the minimum as Jake says it is.

Read more about Major League at TVOM.

Why Is This Deer Licking This Fox?

Oct. 23rd, 2017 10:19 am
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Posted by Paul Bisceglio

When Chris Lowe first saw the buck stoop to lick the small, silver-speckled fox, he thought his eyes might be playing tricks on him. He’d just gotten back from a run on Santa Catalina, a remote Southern Californian island where he studies sharks, and came upon the two animals in the scrub. Mule deer and island foxes, the rascally miniature descendants of gray foxes, are everyday sights on Catalina’s grassy hills. But to see them nuzzling was downright weird.

Was the buck simply nibbling on a plant behind the fox? Had the fox happened to hop in front of the buck’s face? Lowe dashed into his apartment to grab his camera, and made it to the window to catch the deer taking another lick. The fox, docile in the shade of its antlered friend, wasn’t just tolerating the apparent cleaning, Lowe realized. “It looked like it was actually enjoying this,” he says.

Lowe tweeted a picture of the curious scene a few hours later, and it quickly racked up several thousand likes and retweets. In the image, the buck has its pursed lips planted on the fox’s forehead. The fox, its eyes closed, resembles a dog getting a good behind-the-ears scratch. People responding to Lowe’s tweet were captivated by the strange pairing. It was adorable—in one person’s words, “a Disney moment!” And no one had ever seen anything quite like it.

Well, no one except Michael Cove. To match Lowe’s tweet, Cove offered picture of his own: a lean doe in a forest rubbing noses with a cat. “We get this all the time in the Keys ... interesting that it is happening on islands,” he wrote. Then he brought the party down: “Certainly a pathway for disease transmission.”

One of a few cat-licking incidents Michael Cove’s motion-triggered cameras have captured (Michael Cove)

Cove, a mammologist at North Carolina State University who spends several months each year on the Florida Keys, has in fact spotted several peculiar meetings between the islands’ diminutive Key deer and other creatures. Motion-triggered cameras he’s set up around a wildlife refuge on one of the islands have photographed a deer dancing around a peacock, and a deer getting its face groomed by raccoon. There are a few more cases with cats, including a time off-camera that Cove passed a dumpster and saw two deer licking the same cat at once. (“The Florida Keys are an interesting place,” he says.)

Cove speculates that cut-off places like the Keys and Catalina, which is one of California’s eight Channel Islands, have two features that could encourage such interspecies intermingling. The most prominent is a lack of large predators. The islands’ deer have lived for generations on verdant floating worlds devoid of wolves, mountain lions, and other sharp-toothed threats. It’s possible their isolation has granted them a peace of mind that mainland deer can’t afford. Perhaps by now they don’t even know they could be afraid of other curious creatures.

The second is geography. Since an island’s inhabitants have limited land to roam, it’s easy for them to bump into each other. And as Cove points out in a new research paper in the journal Mammalian Biology, the scattered centers of human activity in the Keys attract animals that can find easy meals, pulling them into an even tighter orbit. The paper focuses on the Key deer and raccoons, but the same could likely be said of cats and island foxes, the latter of which are known to beg tourists for food and sneak off with your peanut butter even though you left it safely on your campsite’s picnic table, you swear.

These two factors account for a greater probability of animal-to-animal encounters on islands, but they don’t explain what would convince a deer to run its tongue over a cat or fox in the first place. Moreover, there’s evidence that this licking isn’t an island thing exclusively: Deer are occasionally spotted giving tongue baths to cats, at least, in mainland backyards. The exact motivation behind this behavior is much harder to pin down.

There’s a temptation to describe their interactions as mutually beneficial, in line with the natural world’s other astounding instances of species-to-species symbiosis. When Lowe first saw the buck and fox together, for example, he was reminded of underwater “safe zones,” where “predators and prey all line up to get cleaned” by small fish that munch on parasites.

Yet as Gary Roemer, an ecologist at New Mexico State University, points out, scientists reserve the concept of mutualism specifically for relationships in which both sides benefit in ways that help them survive. The dynamic is conceivable for Key deer and raccoons; in Cove’s camera-trap photos, a slinking raccoon takes a doe’s snout into its paws and nibbles around the patient animal’s eyes and ears, probably hungry for a snack of ticks. Neither Cove nor Roemer, who spent years studying island foxes earlier in his career, however, are convinced licking does much for the ecological fitness of deer, foxes, or cats.

This raccoon has also been photographed by a camera trap grooming a doe. (Michael Cove)

Both researchers suggested what might be a more obvious benefit for the foxes and cats: Getting licked feels good. “Maybe deer are getting those hard to reach places,” Cove says. As for the deer, ocean breezes cover islands—foxes and cats included—in salt. Cove has a theory that deer on islands particularly might be lured into the cleanings by a little extra seasoning.

But Cove’s tweet about disease transmission also underscores the much more ominous way these pictures can be read. Even if it feels and tastes nice, contact between animals isn’t necessarily positive, because it can cripple populations by passing along rabies, roundworms, and plenty of other viruses and parasites. These dangers are especially threatening in locations where the entirety of a species resides. Key deer and island foxes, both endemic to their respective coastal islands, have each been pushed to the edge of extinction in the past. If their newly observed canoodling sessions hint at any larger changes in island ecosystems, they conceivably are causes of concern.

But Roemer cautions against the impulse to read anything more into a few documented instances of deer licking smaller and probably salty animals than what they perhaps most clearly seem to be: two wild creatures inquisitive enough to give each other a closer look. “This is probably a novel, random, curious interaction,” he says of the buck and the fox. “It probably doesn’t have much significance either from an evolutionary or an ecological standpoint.”

(Roemer doesn’t buy the salt theory, either: If plants and rocks are also coated by the breeze, he reasons, it wouldn’t make sense for a deer to go through the trouble of tracking down a moving, claw-possessing island resident for tastiness alone.)

Busted (Chris Lowe / California State University Shark Lab)

Still, randomness leaves open two opposite conclusions about interspecies encounters like these. It’s possible—if not certain—that animals bump into each other in all kinds of undiscovered ways. “[Camera traps] are opening our eyes to just how fascinating the natural world is,” Cove says. “There are tons of species interactions that we might have never noticed just casually walking around the woods and stuff.” Key deer might not lick cats for a reason, but that doesn’t mean they don’t do it often.

Then again, it might be misguided to say what all deer on an island do in the first place. “More and more, we’re recognizing that, just like us, animals have different personalities,” Roemer says. “Sometimes they do bizarre things.” While working on one of the Channel Islands, he befriended an exuberant island fox named Josie, who made a game of goading a nature conservancy’s surly hunting dog into chasing her up trees.

So maybe it was an especially bold buck and a uniquely lonely fox that met under that fading afternoon sun on Santa Catalina Island. They neared each other in the brush of the only land they’ve ever known. And when they were close enough to touch, they were both filled with enough wonder to decide: why not?

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Some Somalis who have returned to their homeland in recent years to help rebuild after decades of civil war say they won't be deterred by a truck bombing that killed at least 358 people....
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Vastly expanding sugarcane production in Brazil for conversion to ethanol could reduce current global carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 5.6 percent, researchers report in the journal Nature Climate Change.
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Make way for some new memsistors. For years, the computer industry has sought memory technologies with higher endurance, lower cost, and better energy efficiency than commercial flash memories. Now, an international collaboration of scientists may have solved many of those challenges with the discovery of thin, molecular films that can store information.
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Researchers from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and the University College London have developed a new theory of molecular evolution, offering insights into how genes function, how the rates of evolutionary divergence can be predicted, and how harmful mutations arise at a basic level.
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Imagine a tiny donut-shaped droplet, covered with wriggling worms. The worms are packed so tightly together that they must locally line up with respect to each other. In this situation, we would say the worms form a nematic liquid crystal, an ordered phase similar to the materials used in many flat panel displays.
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A team of researchers at Cornell University has developed a way to dramatically improve the resolution of confocal microscopy. They describe the technique in a paper they have had published in Physical Review X.

(no subject)

Oct. 23rd, 2017 10:27 am
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)
[personal profile] seekingferret
I did the ride I was talking about on the D&R Canal trail yesterday. The ride out there was pretty easy. Highland Park is called Highland Park because of the way it looms over the Raritan, so the ride down to the river was a lot of downhill coasting and only a handful of hilly spots. Then I rode through Johnson Park, dodging the Breast Cancer walk whose staging area overlapped with my route. Then over the Landing Lane bridge and onto the trail.

I'd only planned to ride on for two or three miles on the trail. This trail segment of the D&R trail, which used to be a canal towpath, is 29 miles long, and I said in my last post I was going to pace myself and try to work up to doing the whole length. But when I finally stopped myself and said it's time to turn back, I'd gone almost five miles on the trail. My best guess for the total trip is 17 miles- ~5 miles out on the trail, ~5 miles back, plus the 8 miles getting to the trail and back.

When I was on the trail, I just... kept riding. I always have that problem when I ride toward the river- the ride out is mostly downhill. And then when you're out by the river the terrain is flat the whole way. But... the trip back, the last few miles, is when you have to do the climbing. So it's very easy to overestimate my stamina and push further than I really ought to and not leave enough for the final push. In any case, this time out, I wasn't super-winded when I hit the final climb, but my legs were starting to stiffen a bit. I'm glad I did it, though.

But anyway, the D&R Canal Trail was so lovely and I want to spend more time there. There are people biking, and people hiking, and people fishing and people kayaking the canal, but mostly it's just you in the woods on a narrow path, with the Raritan on one side and the canal on the other.
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PRAGUE (AP) -- Billionaire businessman Andrej Babis was already the second-richest person in the Czech Republic - and now he's set to become the country's most powerful politician, despite fraud charges against him....

Longsword locks

Oct. 23rd, 2017 03:48 pm
watervole: (Default)
[personal profile] watervole
If the longsword photos didn't work for you, try now - https://watervole.dreamwidth.org/639401.html?view=3965353&posted=1#cmt3965353

I've redone all the images from Flickr instead of Google photos. I'd forgotten that you can't even cut and past images from Google photos, let along link to them. (They look fine when I'm putting the entry together, but I don't think anyone else can see them)

On Safari in Trump's America

Oct. 23rd, 2017 09:54 am
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Posted by Molly Ball

It was the hippies who drove Nancy Hale over the edge. She had spent three days listening respectfully to the real people of Middle America, and finally she couldn’t take it any longer.

She turned off the tape recorder and took several deep breaths, leaning back in the passenger seat of the rented GMC Yukon. The sun had just come out from behind a mass of clouds, casting a gleam on the rain-soaked parking lot in rural Wisconsin.

Hale, who is 65 and lives in San Francisco, is a career activist who got her start protesting nuclear plants and nuclear testing in the 1970s. In 2005, she was one of the founders of Third Way, a center-left think tank, and it was in that capacity that she and four colleagues had journeyed from both coasts to the town of Viroqua, Wisconsin, as part of a post-election listening tour. They had come on a well-meaning mission: to better understand their fellow Americans, whose political behavior in the last election had left them confused and distressed.

The trip was predicated on the optimistic notion that if Americans would only listen to each other, they would find more that united than divided them. This notion—the idea that, beyond our polarized politics, lies a middle, or third, path on which most can come together in agreement—is Third Way’s raison d’etre. It is premised on the idea that partisanship is bad, consensus is good, and that most Americans would like to meet in the middle.

But these are not uncontested assumptions. And, three days into their safari in flyover country, the researchers were hearing some things that disturbed them greatly—sentiments that threatened their beliefs to the very core.

The last focus group, a bunch of back-to-the-land organic farmers and artisanal small-businesspeople, was over, and the researchers had retreated to their car to debrief. There was a long pause after Hale turned off the tape recorder on which they were recording their impressions.

“I had a very hard time with that meeting,” she finally said. “The longer the meeting went on, the more it started to feel to me like just another community that had isolated itself, and it was right and everybody else wasn’t, you know?” The hippies should have been her kind of people, but the attitudes they’d expressed had offended her sense of the way America ought to be. She had come seeking mutual understanding, only to find that some people were not the least bit interested in meeting in the middle. And now she was at a crossroads: Would she have to revise her whole worldview to account for this troubling reality?

Third Way’s researchers are far from the only Americans inspired to undertake anthropological journeys in the past year. Nearly a year after Donald Trump’s election shocked the prognosticators, ivory-tower types are still sifting through the wreckage. Group after group of befuddled elites has crisscrossed America to poke and prod and try to figure out what they missed—“Margaret Meads among the Samoans,” one prominent strategist remarked to me.  

HuffPo embarked on a 23-city bus tour to get to know places like Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Odessa, Texas. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg undertook a series of carefully choreographed interactions with factory workers and people on tractors. The liberal pollster Stan Greenberg appeared at the National Press Club to discuss his findings from a series of focus groups with “Obama-Trump” voters in Macomb County, Michigan. A new group of Democratic elected officials hosted a “Winning Back the Heartland” strategy conference in Des Moines this month. The title of yet another research project, a bipartisan study underwritten by the eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, encapsulates the sentiment: “Stranger in My Own Country.”

Third Way, for its part, announced in January it would spend $20 million on what it called the “New Blue” campaign to “provide Democrats with a path out of the wilderness.” Like many of their peers, the think tank’s brain trust had been stunned by the election. On November 9, too devastated to work, its staff had simply sat together and cried.

For all intents and purposes, it was Third Way’s vision that had been on the ballot in 2016—and lost. The think tank, inspired by the New Democrat centrism of the 1990s, had advised Hillary Clinton on her 2016 policy platform. In debates within the Democratic Party, Third Way advocated for the sensible center. It argued that a left-wing platform could not win elections, and that what voters preferred was a pragmatic, moderate, technocratic philosophy, socially liberal but pro-business and wary of big government. It used research and data to demonstrate that these policies made good politics.

After the electoral-college majority unexpectedly rejected Clinton and the Democrats, Third Way, in characteristic fashion, set out to research the problem and find a solution. Its data wonks got to work crunching demographic information. But its leaders were well aware that their statistics—everything the professional know-it-alls thought they knew—had failed to predict 2016. Data alone would not suffice.

And so Hale and her colleagues began a series of visits to targeted areas, including this one, Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District, which had voted Democratic for more than two decades—until it swung more than 15 points for Trump. I was allowed to ride along on the condition that I not identify any of the focus-group participants. I was hoping to use the trip as my own focus group of sorts: I wanted to get a sense of what 2017’s many delegations of liberal anthropologists were hearing from Trump Country.

I wondered if any of the tourists from the coasts would be open-minded enough to absorb a reality that might cut against their preconceptions. Did Third Way and Zuckerberg and Huffpo and all the rest want to confront an angry and divided nation head-on, or would they settle for a series of earnest exchanges that left their core assumptions intact?

Open-mindedness was the sworn commitment of the Third Way team. The researchers were determined to approach rural Wisconsin with humility and respect. After the election, Hale told me, “You heard people saying, ‘These people aren’t smart enough to vote, they’re so stupid, if that’s what they want, they deserve what they get.’ That hit us, on every level, as wrong.” They wanted to open their hearts and their minds and simply listen. They were certain that, in doing so, they would find what they believed was true: a bunch of reasonable, thoughtful, patriotic Americans. A nation of people who really wanted to get along.

Our tour of western Wisconsin had begun two days earlier, at an imposing courthouse in the rural county seat of Ellsworth, the self-proclaimed “cheese curd capital of Wisconsin.” A farmer in the group told Third Way’s eager listeners he knew exactly what was wrong with America: his fellow Americans.

“You’ve got all these parasites making a living off the bureaucracy,” the farmer declared, “like leeches pulling you down, bleeding you dry.” We had been in the state for just a few hours, and already the researchers’ quest for mutual understanding seemed to be hitting a snag.

Others in the group, a bunch of proudly curmudgeonly older white men, identified other culprits. There were plenty of jobs, a local elected official and business owner said. But today’s young people were too lazy or drug-addled to do them.

As we proceeded to meetings with diverse groups of community representatives, this sort of blame-casting was a common refrain. Disdain for the young, in particular, was a constant, across demographic, socio-economic, and generational lines: Even young people complained about young people. “They don’t want to do the work, and they always feel like they’re being picked on,” a recent graduate of a technical school in Chippewa Falls said of his fellow Millennials.

Some of the people we met expressed the conservative-leaning view that changes in society and the family were to blame. One, a technical-skills instructor at the Chippewa Falls school, questioned whether women belonged in the workplace at all. “That idea of both family members working, it’s a social experiment that I don’t know if it quite works,” he said. “If everyone’s working, who is making sure the children are raised right?”

Others expressed more liberal-minded sentiments, seeing insufficient government action as the root of the community’s problems. A school-board official cried as she described the problems plaguing education. A group of middle-class women who met through local activism lamented the area’s lack of diversity and hidden pockets of poverty.

Politics, though, was not the focus of the Third Way interviewers, who believed there was more to be gained by asking neutral, open-ended questions. In accordance with Third Way’s ideology, they believed that political partisanship was not most people’s primary concern. But sometimes the Wisconsinites brought up politics anyway.

At the Labor Temple Lounge in Eau Claire, nine gruff, tough-looking union men sat around a table. One had the acronym of his guild, the Laborers International Union of North America, tattooed on a bulging bicep. The men pinned the blame for most of their problems squarely on Republicans, from Trump to Governor Scott Walker. School funding, the minimum wage, college debt, income inequality, gerrymandering, health care, union rights: It was all, in their view, the GOP’s fault. A member of the bricklayers’ union lamented Walker’s cuts to public services: “If we can’t help each other,” he said, “what are we, a pack of wolves—we eat the weakest one? It’s shameful.”

But their negativity toward Republicans didn’t translate to rosy feelings for the Democrats, who, they said, too frequently ignored working-class people. And some of the blame, they said, fell on their fellow workers, many of whom supported Republicans against their own interests. “The membership”—the union rank-and-file—“voted for these Republicans because of them damn guns,” a Laborers Union official said. “You cannot push it out of their head. A lot of ‘em loved it when Walker kicked our ass.”

Debriefing after this particular group, the Third Way listeners said they found the union men demoralizing. “I feel like they can’t see their way out,” Hale said.

“They were very negative,” Paul Neaville, another researcher, concurred.

They were so fixated on blaming Republicans, Hale fretted. “It was very us-and-them.”

On the long drives between stops, I asked the researchers about their views and what they had been hearing around the country. They admitted that some of the things they had heard had shocked them. In South Florida, Hale told me, a local chamber of commerce official had calmly asserted, “We don’t have any Muslims here, and that’s a good thing, because Muslims are trouble.”

Hale, a tall woman with a breathy voice and a mop of curly red hair, had come to Wisconsin fresh off a silent Zen meditation retreat in California. She had spent her career building organizations and training activists to work for social change. Instinctively warm and curious, she easily struck up conversations with strangers and often ended interactions with hugs. Hers was a politics of empathy, she told me. “Whether you’re talking about nonviolence or feminism, it’s really the same idea: everybody matters,” she said.  

When she heard views that challenged her sense of empathy—Muslims were bad, welfare recipients were leeches, women should not have careers outside the home—Hale reminded herself that she was there to listen, not to judge. “People have said stuff I was surprised to hear them say out loud,” Hale told me. “But we have to learn from that, too. Whatever they believe is true, because it’s true for them.”

Part of the point of the Wisconsin trip was to gather the evidence that would help them advance this agenda in intra-party debates. Understanding the mysterious ways of the elusive Trump voter had become the crucial currency of any political discussion. The face-to-face interactions they were having in Wisconsin, Hale said as we drove, were so much more valuable than any of the data-driven reports they customarily churned out for their “customers”—donors, elected officials, and the Democratic National Committee.

We sped from town to town in the rented Yukon, watching the exotic Middle American landscape fly by. At one point, a gaggle of bikers roared past us on one side. On the other side of the road, a bright-green field dotted with hay bales passed by. Looking at the bales, Hale mused, “Don’t they look like shredded wheat?”

Hale or her colleague Luke Watson, Third Way’s deputy director of strategy, began each Wisconsin focus group with a variation on the same refrain.

“We are a think tank that deals with what the plurality of Americans are thinking about—in other words, we don’t spend a lot of time on the ideological edges,” one of the two would explain. “It has started seeming like the far left and the far right were the only voice in America, but we know that’s not true. We focus on the 70 percent in the middle, because we think most of us, as Americans, are there.”

This was slightly disingenuous. Third Way, while not officially affiliated with a party, is an organization with a policy agenda, from gun control to entitlement reform, that it seeks to advance within the Democratic Party and with the broader public. Most of its funding comes from corporations and financial executives. Critics on the left call the group the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party, and accuse it of advancing its donors’ interests over the greater political good. Third Way has called for cutting Social Security and Medicare and vehemently attacked the soak-the-rich economic populism of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Voters, it claims, are not interested in a party that’s all about big government and tax-and-spend.

This debate between left and center has consumed the Democratic Party as it looks for a way forward after the debacle of 2016. Leftists claim that Hillary Clinton’s technocratic caution and coziness with Goldman Sachs alienated voters, and that Sanders, had he won the Democratic nomination, could have defeated Trump. Third Way makes the case that its brand of neoliberal centrism is still the party’s best hope.

Hale and Watson’s opening remarks to focus groups were an honest statement of the group’s animating worldview: that all things are possible when politicians make the right sales pitch to a fundamentally reasonable electorate that can agree on a lot of things. That in a time of division, they could find the things that still bound Americans together. That with enough research and focus groups and listening tours and charts and graphs, they could figure out—and cure—what ails the body politic.

It was a thesis that would not go unchallenged, even in flyover country. In rural Wisconsin, it turns out, the natives have Google.

We had come to the final stop on our listening tour, and the hippies were wary. Viroqua, a town of less than 5,000 people, has in recent years become home to a tiny progressive community. Earnest college graduates toil on organic farms; a “folk school” offers classes in sustainable living, from rabbit butchering to basket-weaving. Migrants from the likes of Madison and Berkeley are attracted to a rural idyll of food and electric co-ops, alternative schools, and locally sourced everything.

“Isn’t this underwritten by the DNC?” a local cafe owner asked Watson after his just-here-to-listen opening spiel. “I read somewhere you’re spending $20 million,” another man said. Another participant asked about corporate donors.

This was all pretty much true—Third Way, not the DNC, was paying for the project, but the “New Blue” campaign was hardly a nonpartisan effort. But Watson tried to deflect. He acknowledged that the session was “part of” the $20 million project, but he insisted it had nothing to do with any political party. “This is not about Democrats or Republicans—it’s about what’s going on beyond the Beltway,” he said.

With those concerns dispatched, the listening began in earnest. The Viroqua representatives were eager to extol the virtues of their community. It was an oasis of sanity, an organic farmer in a pink-and-blue plaid shirt said—unlike the dismal city where he’d grown up. “There was no culture with which to identify, just television, drinking, maybe sports,” he said. “There’s nothing to aspire to. You’re just going through life with a case of Mountain Dew in your car.”

The cafe owner—a bearded man in a North Face fleece—had recently attended a town hall held by the local Democratic congressman, Ron Kind, a Third Way stalwart and former chair of the House’s centrist New Democrat Coalition. “I’m not, like, a jumping-up-and-down Berniecrat,” the man said. “But what you see in these congressional meetings is a refusal to even play ball” with ideas considered too extreme, like single-payer health care. “All these centrist ideals,” he said, “are just perpetuating a broken system.”

This was a direct attack on the very premise of Third Way’s existence. These were not the ideas of the middle 70 percent. These were not the voices of an America that wanted to find mutual understanding with its neighbors. They were, essentially, separatists, proud of their extremism and disdainful of the unenlightened.

It was after this exchange that Hale, after she and Watson got back into the Yukon to debrief, as they did after every session in order to compose their eventual after-action report, had to stop and vent. Her problem wasn’t that people were wrong. She had managed to maintain her equanimity while hearing other groups express opinions she disagreed with. It was that they didn’t want to get along.

“I have so much hope, and it’s gotten kind of shaken from both ends, you know?” she said. “There’s an, I don’t know, blue-sky part of me that was like, ‘I’m going to go traveling around the country and see that we’re more about commonalities than differences, that we’re more about our desire to be together than to be separate.’ And I’m not saying that isn’t true. I’m just saying every once in a while it gets kicked in the ass.”

That moment of doubt does not appear in the report that Third Way released, which distills the group’s conclusions from the tour I joined. In the report, there is only one quotation from the hippie roundtable in Viroqua—a man who extols the area’s turnaround, in a section about the area’s “intense local pride.” “There’s love, beauty, and a sense of opportunity,” he is quoted as saying. “There’s been a rejuvenation of identity.”

In the moment, Hale had heard sentiments like this as disturbing, of a piece with the community’s self-satisfied separatism. In the report, it had been made to sound like a paean to localism.

The report surprised me when I read it. Despite the great variety of views the researchers and I had heard on our tour, the report had somehow reached the conclusion that Wisconsinites wanted consensus, moderation, and pragmatism—just like Third Way. We had heard people blame each other for their own difficulties, take refuge in tribalism, and appeal to extremes. But the report mentioned little of that. Instead it described the prevailing attitude as “an intense work ethic that binds the community together and helps it adapt to change.”

This supposedly universal belief in the value of hard work was the researchers’ principal finding from their trip to Wisconsin. “It is their North Star, guiding their sense of what is right and wrong, inside and outside of WI-3,” the report states. In the face of challenges, from school budget cuts to factory closures, the community had responded “with a fierce work ethic and a no-nonsense attitude.”

We had certainly heard some of that, but it wasn’t all we heard. In many cases, the report presents only one side of an issue about which we’d heard varying views. For example, it quotes a local employer who sang the praises of automation, but none of the union members who worried about jobs disappearing. It quotes a technical-college instructor proclaiming that crises in the education system create opportunities, but none of the public-school teachers who saw their classrooms gutted by voucher programs.

The report is short, covering only three big takeaways from the seven listening sessions Third Way conducted. The first is the importance of hard work; the second is the need for a strong workforce. The third, described in a section entitled “Just Get the Hell Out of My Way,” is locals’ purported antagonism to big government. “Whether the question is about immigration or banks, taxes or welfare, the people we spoke to generally felt that government policies were irrelevant to their daily lives,” it states. This view is made to sound like one that was broadly expressed, but in fact, we mostly heard it in just one session—the group of curmudgeonly farmers. Almost all of the quotations in this section are drawn from that group. There are no quotations from the people we met who were pro-government, such as the teachers and laborers and activists, who voiced concern that local, state, and federal government ought to be doing more to take care of people.

According to the report, the community’s “biggest frustrations” are “laggard government and partisan squabbling.” “The idea that such bickering can be tolerated in D.C. is appalling to most,” it states. The good people of western Wisconsin, Third Way found, wanted nothing so much as a society where people could put aside their differences. The report quotes a man who said, “We come together on projects and solve problems together.” It doesn’t quote any of the Wisconsinites we met who expressed partisan sentiments or questioned the prospect of consensus.

The researchers had somehow found their premise perfectly illustrated. Their journey to Trump’s America had done nothing to unsettle their preconceptions.

The Wisconsin report is the second Third Way has produced from its listening tour; still to come are its findings from Florida and Arizona. The group’s first report, on a trip to northwest Illinois, was quite a bit more pessimistic, with more emphasis on the decline of manufacturing, and more skepticism expressed about trade and immigration. Still, the Illinois report did, in the end, come to many of the same conclusions about what drove people: love of work and community, concern for the future, distrust of big government, and a desire to move past partisanship. Validating the researchers’ project, the Illinois report also found that Midwesterners felt overlooked in the national political dialogue. It quotes a local as complaining, “The coasts think we’re Jesusland or Dumbasfuckistan.”  

In Wisconsin, I had seen and heard everything the Third Way researchers did—and eaten at the same restaurants, and slept at the same Hampton Inn in Eau Claire, and watched the same landscape roll by the windows of the same SUV. I heard all the optimism they did, but I also heard its opposite: that one side was right and that the other was the enemy; that other Americans, not just the government, were to blame for the country’s problems. There’s plenty of fellow-feeling in the heartland for those who want to see it, but there’s plenty of division, too. And not every problem can be solved in a way that splits the difference.

The other groups of anthropologists roaming Middle America face the same quandary. Having gotten the country drastically wrong, they have set out on well-meaning missions to bring the country together by increasing mutual understanding. They share Third Way’s basic assumption that mutual understanding is something Americans can agree to find desirable. But as hard as they try to open their minds to new perspectives, are they ready to have that basic assumption challenged?

The researchers I rode with had dived into the heart of America with the best of intentions and the openest of minds. They believed that their only goal was to emerge with a better understanding of their country. And yet the conclusions they drew from what they heard corresponded only roughly to what I heard. Instead, they seemed to revert to their preconceptions, squeezing their findings into the same old mold. It seems possible, if not likely, that all the other delegations of earnest listeners are returning with similarly comforting, selective lessons. If the aim of such tours is to find new ways to bring the country together, or new political messages for a changed electorate, the chances of success seem remote as long as even the sharpest researchers are only capable of seeing what they want to see.

The last time I spoke to Nancy Hale, she was off on another Third Way trip, this one to southern Arizona. At a hotel in Tucson, preparing for her next discussion with a group of young immigration activists, she reflected on what a valuable experience the listening tour had been. “I’ve come to the conclusion that most of our divisions have to do with lack of understanding,” she told me. “And I don’t mean in some kind of academic way, I mean in a very human way. I know it’s very unpopular to say there are any benefits of the recent election, but people seem to be moving more toward that.”

There was another way the tour had been valuable: As Third Way argued its preferred course for the Democratic Party, its on-the-ground research was already lending crucial credibility to its claims, she said. In meetings with Democratic elected officials and presentations to the DNC, Hale told me, Third Way’s representatives could reel off anecdote after anecdote about the Real People of Middle America they’d met. “The fact that we now have this very direct experience that we can use to tell a story—we get listened to in a different way, because we’ve figured out a better way to say it,” Hale told me. I had no doubt this was true—that Beltway Democrats were eagerly swallowing Third Way’s claims, bolstered by their firsthand accounts of the mysterious heartland. Since the Wisconsin trip, Third Way has published an analysis claiming the Democratic Party cannot win back the House if it focuses on its base and ignores working-class whites, and another that says the party’s main problem is that “Americans don’t see Democrats as the party of jobs.”

What stuck with her above all, Hale told me, was how grateful people were to the researchers for hearing them. “The things people end up saying to us are really kind of miraculous considering that, five minutes before, they had never met us,” she said. “I think that has to do with us saying, This matters. You are the democracy. You matter.”

It was gratifying to Nancy Hale to find, in the end, that America wasn’t lost. To be sure, there had been moments that made her wonder. But as she looked back on it, she had managed to edit those moments out of her memory. The American people, she concluded, were not as divided and irreconcilable as the election made them seem. Progressive neoliberalism was not a lost cause. The world she believed in before—the world she preferred to inhabit—was the one she and her fellow American explorers had managed to find: not a strange land at all but a reassuring one.

Movie review: Residue

Oct. 23rd, 2017 10:45 am
kestrell: (Default)
[personal profile] kestrell
Residue (Written and directed by Rusty Nixon, 2017)
This film combines two of my narrative fetishes, horror noir and a supernatural book, which is what persuaded me to watch it in the first place, but it turned out to be a surprisingly likeable movie.
It's not an instant classic, but it might well turn out to be a cult classic.

Set in a seedy futuristic city, James Clayton plays Luke, a really, really, down on his luck private eye working for crime boss Mr. Fairweather played by the maniacal Matt Frewer). Luke is hoping for a big job that will allow him to provide a better life for his estranged daughter, so when Fairweather offers him a lot of money to deliver a mysterious briefcase, Luke takes the job, and instantly hitmen show up trying to kill him. When Luke opens the briefcase and finds a creepy book, things become even more desperate as he attempts to solve the mystery of the book before the hitmen succeed in killing him.

This low budget indie film does a lot with a little. The storyline is solid, and becomes increasingly complex as Luke progresses through the book and spins off an increasing number of timelines. When Luke's estranged daughter shows up, Luke's desperation increases as he tries to keep her safe from both the hitmen and Luke's own personal demons.

I found the multiple timeline aspect of this film really interesting, and the relationship between Luke and his nearly grownup daughter was endearingly awkward. (I realize this is a slight spoiler, but I need to mention that this film has one of the best daughter coming out to dad scenes *ever*.)

The pacing of the film is good, with tension being relieved by occasional darkly humorous moments. One of the things I look for in a film is a director who trusts his audience to pick up the story without having everything explained, and Residue offers a satisfying amount of ambiguity to provide for lively conversation after the movie ends.

Note: We watched this movie on Netflix, but Netflix also has a 3-part pilot titled Residue (Dir. Alex Garcia Lopez, 2015).

Draft dodgers

Oct. 23rd, 2017 10:19 am
lauradi7dw: (Default)
[personal profile] lauradi7dw
I loathe Donald Trump and everything he stands for. I think someone should print out a script for his condolence calls to bereaved families, or maybe just give him a nice letter, ready for his EKG-like signature. But I am not one of the people who will pile on due to his draft evasion during the Vietnam War era. (there is a Veterans group that refers to him as "Heel-spur Donny"). Bill Clinton used the legal out of being in school, and I personally know others who did. George W used family connections to jump the waiting list of guys who wanted to learn to fly but not deal with actual war problems (he joined the Texas Air national guard, and stayed Stateside), in addition to subsequently being a war criminal (possibly not legally).
I didn't support the war. My WWII veteran father did not support the war. I can't really fault someone who didn't want to fight in it. There were printed guides about how to evade the draft, short of going to Canada. During the time of a draft, there should have been universal conscription, with specified options for required alternative service, but it's hard to imagine DT doing something like City Year or Teach for America or the Peace Corps, or being the subject of weird medical experiments, as some of the WWII conscientious objectors were.
Still, I suspect Trump's family paid somebody off. I don't really approve of that. I had an acquaintance with ongoing heel problems who enlisted in the Air Force and successfully served (as an engineer, not as a pilot).

Terms of Endearment

Oct. 23rd, 2017 09:52 am
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Posted by <a rel="author" href="/users/setepenre_set/pseuds/setepenre_set">setepenre_set</a>


Halloween for Roxanne, Syx, and Minion, age seven through age twelve.

Words: 1728, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English

Series: Part 4 of Safe If We Stand Close Together

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CLEVELAND (AP) -- Nearly five years after two unarmed black suspects died in a 137-shot barrage of Cleveland police gunfire, five officers fired for their roles are set to return to duty this week after an arbitrator reinstated their jobs....
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Ever since the days of Aristotle, people have made the counterintuitive observation that hot water sometimes freezes faster than cold water. In modern times, the observation has been named the Mpemba effect after Erasto Mpemba, an elementary school student living in what is now Tanzania in the early '60s. When making ice cream, Mpemba observed that using warmer milk causes the ice cream to freeze faster than when using colder milk.
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Posted by Tanvi Misra

In 1940, 92 percent of kids in America could grow up to do better than their parents, economically-speaking. Today, that’s just 50 percent. The American Dream, in other words, comes down to a coin toss. This issue, it turns out, really comes down to the neighborhood inequalities.

“While this is a daunting national trend, its roots are really at the local level,”says Raj Chetty, an economist at Stanford University, speaking at CityLab Paris, an annual convening of city leaders. And because each locale has its own constellation of problems dragging down its residents, solutions need to be data-driven and super specific.

In recent years, Chetty’s groundbreaking research has shown just how much the ZIP code a child lives in can define his or her future. The longer a child lives in a neighborhood of opportunity—a racially integrated area with a large middle class, with stronger family structures, more social capital, and better schools—the more likely to they are to improve their standard of living as adults.

But upward mobility varies drastically across U.S. cities, and even within a city, odds can differ vastly from one block to the next. “There are some places that are lands of opportunity,” Chetty says, “and other places that can be better described as lands of chronic poverty.”

What Seattle needs, therefore, is very different from what Atlanta needs In both places, Chetty has measured what he calls the “price of opportunity”—how expensive it is to move from a neighborhood where chances of succeeding are low to one where they are higher. Turns out: In Seattle, neighborhoods of comparable affordability can offer very different levels of opportunity. So, in this case, it makes sense to promote the use of housing vouchers as a policy lever to help people move to “opportunity bargain” areas.

In Atlanta, that approach doesn’t work because opportunity neighborhoods tend to be very expensive. So the next step is to hone in on exactly when the disparities between kids emerge and target place-based interventions to that age-group tailored to each neighborhood. Prenatal care, kindergarten preparedness, college counseling—all become “particular treatments for each patient on the basis of precise diagnosis,” Chetty says.

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Posted by Sarah Treleaven

When Cecile Lazartigues-Chartier first visited Montreal, Quebec, it was not love at first sight. She and her husband, expecting their first child, were keen to leave Paris for somewhere “a little quieter,” so they spent three dark, cold weeks in Montreal. “It was not beautiful and it just seemed so American to me,” she says. Still, she was drawn to the city’s cultural mix, to the people from all over the world. She and her husband decided that they would try it for a year.

Twenty years later, Lazartigues-Chartier is something of an ambassador to people in that same situation. She now leads community groups with the aim of helping new French immigrants integrate in Montreal—a deceptively difficult task. Over the past several years, there’s been a significant increase in the number of French immigrants arriving to take advantage of the similar language, cheaper cost of living, and job opportunities. But while connections between France and its former colony have long been touted as lofty and enduring (sometimes even moreso than the connection between Quebec and English-speaking Canada), the presence of these new immigrants has ruffled some feathers.

Across the city, Montrealers now complain about both snobbery and rising prices, as ex-Parisians flood once-affordable neighborhoods like the fashionable Plateau—now often referred to as “New France”. While tensions have long simmered, they now sometimes boil over. A popular Facebook group for Montreal apartment listings recently banned posts regarding vacancies in the Plateau, citing unjustifiably high prices and Parisians who are “used to shitting in 3-foot bathrooms with tiles from the period between the first and second world wars.”

And it’s not just real estate. In the marquee restaurant in Montreal’s casino, the recent decision to hand the kitchen to Frenchman Joel Robuchon over a Quebec-based chef has been widely seen as a slap in the face to the local food movement, which has long fought against the assumption that it is simply an inferior and provincial version of “real” French food.

In September, over coffee at the Cafe Olimpico in Montreal, one young chef spoke disdainfully about "the death of the Plateau." Prices have been rising for years for both residential and commercial rents—a persistent source of grumbling for almost two decades, long before the recent wave of French immigration—but, for the chef, the culprit was clear. "All of these people, they come from Paris and they think it's so cheap here and they'll pay anything," she says. She noted the French karaoke nights, French brunches, French cocktail nights—all signs, in her mind, that French immigrants were insulating themselves, rather than attempting to integrate. Instead of the kinship assumed to be natural, some French immigrants appear to be fashioning themselves after the more notorious European and North American expats in Asia or the Gulf region, who spend money freely and float above society, rather than ever really engaging with the local culture.

The resulting tensions point to a number of things, including an assertion of Quebecois identity as distinct not just within Canada but the francophone world. But more broadly, they point to the resentments that can bubble up in any city with perceived scarce resources and rising prices to challenge newer immigrants—even those that have long been considered part of an extended family. Despite the fact that Montreal is a relatively low-cost city for rent in the broader North American context, stagnant salaries and slow economic growth have still created an economic squeeze for many.

Part of the issue is volume. Over the last several years, there has been a steep increase in the number of French immigrants arriving to Montreal. According to one recent report, the number of French citizens in the city has doubled over the past decade. French students are also arriving in greater numbers, with an increase of 50 percent between 2003 and 2012. And while local tensions are apparent to many, a premium is placed on accepting French-speaking immigrants who might aid Quebec in its efforts at language preservation—a sensitive issue for a small province surrounded by Anglophones. Last October, Quebec’s immigration minister announced that the province hopes to accept 51,000 immigrants in 2017, with a specific emphasis on French workers.

For many of the French immigrants hoping to make a new life, unfulfilled expectations are rife. “It’s like the American dream, but in French,” says Mathieu Lalancette, a TV producer in Montreal, who recently made the documentary French PQ to explore this new influx. “But it’s really different and much more difficult than they expect. No one is more different than the French from Quebec and the French from France—the lifestyle, the food, interpersonal relationships, culture, everything. It’s much harder to integrate here than to just stick with other French people.”

Lazartigues-Chartier says that French newcomers are completely disconnected from the Quebec-as-North America perspective. “They think it’s like Europe because we use the same words,” she says. These expectations are also reinforced by travel articles and marketing materials, which often overplay this connection with headlines proclaiming Montreal “Half Paris, Half Brooklyn” or one of the “5 Most European Cities Not in Europe.” But Montreal is deeply rooted in a North American context, from its beloved fast food hot dogs to Brutalist architecture. “Montreal is more North American than French because all the historical, cultural, economic and social references are American,” says Lazartigues-Chartier, noting that Quebecers are less dramatic, and society less hierarchical and more entrepreneurial.

Lazartigues-Chartier says that she sees some resistance among newer French arrivals to acquaint themselves with Quebec society. “It’s so French to think you’re the best, that you have the best restaurants, the best bread, the best wine, the best schools, the best fashion,” says Lazartigues-Chartier. “It’s something people don’t want to lose here. But, to me, it’s important to both be proud of your roots and to become a part of this place.” She encourages new French arrivals to take a volunteer position to get a better sense of the unique social cues, and also to make a concerted effort to identify with Quebec culture. “If you come here for three years and you never read a local newspaper or go see Quebec movies, you’ll never develop a connection,” she says.

French immigration to Montreal shows no signs of abating, so the two groups will have to learn to make nice. But Lalancette believes that relations have already turned a corner. Ten years ago, he notes, he occasionally heard French immigrants and students being told to “go back to where you came from.” But as France deals with an almost 10 percent unemployment rate (versus 6.6 percent in Quebec) and uncomfortable new questions about the future of its workforce, Lalancette suggests there has been a certain humbling regarding the virtues of North American society: “Now that things are better here than they are in France, they’ve had to drop the attitude.”

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Ever since the days of Aristotle, people have made the counterintuitive observation that hot water sometimes freezes faster than cold water. In modern times, the observation has been named the Mpemba effect after Erasto Mpemba, an elementary school student living in what is now Tanzania in the early '60s. When making ice cream, Mpemba observed that using warmer milk causes the ice cream to freeze faster than when using colder milk.
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GENEVA (AP) -- Governments and international donors pledged $234 million on Monday to help over 600,000 Rohingya people who have fled violence in Myanmar into neighboring Bangladesh over the last two months....
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In 1922, Albert Einstein sat in a hotel room in Tokyo and wrote down two thoughts. “Wo ein Wille ist, da ist auch ein Weg”—where there’s a will, there’s a way—and “Stilles bescheidenes Leben gibt mehr Glueck als erfolgreiches Streben, verbunden mit bestaendiger Unruhe”—a quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest.

He gave those two notes in lieu of a tip to a courier who had brought him a message, as the Japan Times reports. It may have been that he didn’t have any change; it may have been that the courier had refused money. But Einstein had the idea that these small slips of paper might be worth much more than a handful of change one day.

When he had arrived in Tokyo, the scientist had been met by crowds of fans. He had been traveling around the world, giving a series of lectures, in America, in British Palestine, and in southeast Asia. He was in Asia when he received a telegram informing him he had won a Nobel Prize. He must have understood what his growing fame could mean when he handed the courier these two notes.

One of the notes is one the stationery of the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo; the other is on a blank sheet of paper. They’re both being sold by an auction house in Israel, by the anonymous German owner. It’s unclear how these notes passed hands and reemerged now, but they're small hints as to how Einstein treated people and thought of the world in terms of human experience, not just grand theories.

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Posted by Tom McNamara

iPhone with red eye

The voices of artificial intelligence face off about gender roles. Or: sexA.I.sm.

Siri and Alexa vs. HAL 9000 and Watson. The voices of artificial intelligence face off about sexism and gender roles. Or: sexA.I.sm.

Music Monday

Oct. 23rd, 2017 10:19 am
zhelana: (X - forever my love)
[personal profile] zhelana
24. A song a band you wish were still together:

Well, I know there's still a band out there masquerading as the 4 Tops, but they do everyone else's music now, and don't do their own, and there's only one original top left, so...

the rest )
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Posted by Danette Chavez

The road to CBS All Access was rocky for Star Trek: Discovery, which arrived nine months behind schedule when it debuted in September. The latest entry in the Star Trek franchise was supposed to launch CBS’ standalone streaming service, but ended up ceding that spot to The Good Fight after losing Bryan Fuller as its…


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Posted by Shep McAllister on Kinja Deals, shared by Shep McAllister to The A.V. Club

Air Hogs’ Starship Enterprise drone would be the ultimate gift for the Star Trek fan in your life this holiday season, so go to warp factor 8 and get over to Jet while it’s just $30, the best price we’ve ever seen.



Oct. 23rd, 2017 10:12 am
zhelana: (Trek - chekov)
[personal profile] zhelana
What’s the best Halloween costume you’ve ever had?

This question was meant to be asked in December, which I do not understand. Weirdo meme.

Anyway, the best halloween costume I ever had was a dinosaur that my mom made by sewing a tail onto a onesie. I was very happy being a dinosaur. I was probably 5?

the rest )
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Posted by Eric D Snider

Quentin Tarantino's feature debut—which attracted both controversy and acclaim—debuted 25 years ago today.

A Mixed Bag

Oct. 23rd, 2017 08:28 am
oracne: turtle (Default)
[personal profile] oracne
It's a good thing I had scheduled activities, this weekend, or I could easily have hermited under a blanket the whole time.

Friday night was dinner with friends and a concert; I didn't gym, but did walk home, a little over a mile.

Saturday, I did two loads of laundry and then met up with Ms. 9; among other things, we walked to the ice rink for the public skate, and got milkshakes, because the nearby gelato place closed! Shocker! Then I met up with a friend for an evening concert. We had gelato at the place in my neighborhood afterwards while we discussed the concert. You know it's art if it makes you think about it afterwards.

The concert was a World War One-themed program, which transitioned between movements from a period (English) requiem, popular songs done as solos or chorally, and poetry. Being a WWI geek, I was familiar with all the material except the requiem. I discovered I didn't like the poetry aspect, because the narrators were often speaking over either the percussionist or singing, and I apparently can't track that sort of thing, despite being very familiar with the poems. The mixture of mediums throughout left me a little unsettled, unable to concentrate on the music as much as I would have liked. I think I would have preferred hearing the requiem all in one go, instead of having the movements spread throughout the program; though I can see why did it, as the program was broken into three thematic sections. So, it was art, and I got to chat briefly with my friend in the choir afterwards.

Sunday, I woke up normally, but then went back to bed for another three hours. I went to afternoon brunch with a friend, bought peanut butter, then went home, put away some but not all of the laundry, and spent the rest of the evening reading in bed.
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"Car in Concrete."

When German artist Wolf Vostell visited los Barruecos in 1974, he deemed the area, dotted with ancient weathered granite monoliths, a natural work of art, and vowed to install a Fluxus museum that could work with the natural beauty of the landscape. And so he did. In 1976, in an old 18th-century wool-washing house, Vostell installed the first sculpture, “VOAEX” (Car in Concrete).

Wolf Vostell was a pioneer of the Fluxus movement, a reactionary, postwar art movement that, according to the manifesto written by artist George Maciunas, sought to “purge the world of dead art.” Vostell intended to fill the historic building with contemporary art.

Some of Vostell’s most representative works are featured at the museum, including “Auto Fever,” “Fluxus Buick Piano,” and “Why did the process between Pilate and Jesus last only two minutes?”, the last a towering sculpture made up of a Russian aircraft, two cars, several computer monitors, and three pianos that stands over 50 feet tall (and now some birds and their nests).

In 2017, National Geographic Spain called the Vostell Malpartida Museum one of the most important museums in Spain. 

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Posted by Libby Anne

Trump, in his comments, referenced Franklin's proposal that the Constitutional Convention begin each day with prayer as part of a list of public appeals to or recognitions of God, offering it as evidence that this is a religious nation. Franklin, Trump said, "reminded his colleagues at the Constitutional Convention to begin by bowing their heads in prayer." And that much, I suppose, is true.Click through to read more!
musesfool: Peggy Carter in sunglasses (the only empire i will ever build)
[personal profile] musesfool
The Bonds That We Save
DCU/MCU; Peggy Carter, Etta Candy, Diana of Themyscira; g; 1,040 words
In which Peggy Carter meets Etta Candy.

Slightly cleaned up from the version I posted on tumblr last night. Or read it on AO3.

This could be the start of a beautiful friendship. )


Feedback is always welcome.

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FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) -- Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will appear Monday before a military judge who will determine his punishment for endangering comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan. Before delivering his sentence, the judge will have to resolve a last-minute defense argument th...
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican Sen. John McCain, a former Navy pilot and prisoner of war during Vietnam, issued a veiled criticism of President Donald Trump&apos;s medical deferments that kept him from serving in the U.S. military during the conflict....
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Posted by Katie Pearce

In the eye of the storm: In Catalonia's drive for independence—which the Spanish government now says it will take emergency measures to halt—there is no place with more at stake than the city of Barcelona, with its global, cosmopolitan outlook running counter to a movement that many view as echoing Brexit in its nationalist instincts. The New York Times reports:

This kind of tension has led some to fear that the independence debate has turned Barcelona into a less tolerant and more parochial city.

“Barcelona is a mixture of different people who speak different languages and came from different places,” Mr. Bartomeus said. But now “the conflict is eroding this idea of this mixture. The city is breaking apart in pieces.”

Others argue that the separatist movement is not necessarily at odds with Barcelona’s openness and international outlook.

  • See also: At CityLab Paris, Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau criticized Spanish nationalists and Catalonian independence seekers, saying city leaders are in just the right place to make a compromise.

Behind the curtains: As Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs plans its new 12-acre beta city for Toronto, a Guardian column warns us not to be naïve about the capitalist interests behind the glittery tech of “Google Urbanism,” which could effectively privatize municipal services and “establish complete monopoly over data extractivism within a city.” Meanwhile, The Week says citizens reps need to be the counterbalance to tech.

The mush that became a boomtown: Cape Coral, Florida, was built on the thin premise of passing off “inaccessible mush as prime real estate.” But today the flood-prone, storm-battered community is the largest city in America's fastest-growing metro area. (Politico)

City council bot: If city council candidate Camilo Casas wins the vote in Boulder, Colorado, he'll make decisions via ... app. He's built one called Parti.Vote, which he bills as “liquid democracy platform” that allows citizens to vote on municipal government issues. (Next City)

“Nu-transportation” woes: The crowdsourced commuter van service Chariot is taking a forced break in San Francisco, after regulators found improperly licensed drivers. Though the company will likely be back soon, Wired notes this latest proof that "nu-transportation services" are more complicated than "launching an intuitive app" for millennials.

The urban lens:

Show us your city on Instagram using #citylabontheground.

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Gaza&apos;s Hamas-run Interior Ministry says three Palestinian smugglers who were believed to have been kidnapped in a tunnel along the Egyptian border have returned home....
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If a night “mare” was originally a very specific type of frightening nocturnal visitor, today our nightmares are bad dreams, night terrors, and all sorts of fears that bubble up from our brains to haunt the dark hours. And sometimes, we dream dreams so frightening that they stick in our minds for decades, inescapable but inscrutable windows into our deepest fears.

We want to hear about those dreams and terrors, the ones that stay with you for years. What's the dream that scared you as a child and still gives you chills? What was the worst dream you ever had? If you've experienced hallucinations during sleep paralysis, what did you see? What dream made you whimper in the night and wake the person sleeping next to you?

Please tell us all about them here or use the form below.

Here are some from the Atlas Obscura staff:

Being eaten by ant. Grandpa also eaten by ant. A very big ant.

Falling asleep in math class, having sleep paralysis, and thinking all of my classmates were staring at me and their eyes were just holes. I could hear them making yowling noises like cats.

Going to jail for the rest of my life and I'm on my last day of freedom just wallowing in a sea of dread.

Sitting in a field covered in grass, flowers, and other plants and keep hearing an approaching thud in the distance. Each night, the thud would get louder and the field would shrink around me. I'd grow increasingly frantic about it and wake up. Then, on the last night, there was one patch left right in front of me, and I looked up and saw a giant robot leg coming down to stomp it—and me—out.

Being chased by wolves or sharks.

This recurring, inescapable image of a giant, inverted pyramid, balancing on a single stone. And I was filled with dread that if i moved or let my mind wander for even a second, it would collapse and destroy everything and—specifically—make a deafening, roaring sound as it came down.

We'll be collecting these dreams and publishing the most strange, frightening, and hallucinatory among them later this week, just in time for Halloween weekend, when nightmares come alive.

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Nightmares, as we use the word today, are vivid, personal terrors whipped up by a person’s subconscious just for them—a giant snapping turtle, a car that starts backing away from home on its own, a rocket ship with two witches in the backseat eating a potato/voodoo doll that causes the front seat to disappear with every bite. But in centuries past a night “mare” was a very specific type of frightening nocturnal visitor, a spirit or demon that would sit on a person’s chest and suffocate them.

The root of the English word "nightmare" is the Old English maere. In Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse, a mara was something known to sneak into people’s rooms at night, plop down on their bodies, and give them bad dreams. When the mare came to visit, the victim would feel a heavy weight—it might start at the feet, but it always settled on the chest—and lose the ability to move. Mares could be sent by sorceresses and witches: One Norwegian king died when his wife, tired of waiting for 10 years for him to come home, commissioned a mare attack. The conjured spirit started by crushing the king’s legs while his men tried to protect his head. But when they went to defend his legs, the mare pressed down on his head and killed him.


This apparition roamed across Europe—it was a mahr in Germany, a marra in Denmark, a mare in French. The visions that the mare brought upon its victims were often called “mare rides”—martröð in Anglo-Saxon, mareridt in Danish, and mareritt in Norwegian, according to (now retired) folklore scholar D.L. Ashliman.

Ashliman collected accounts of mares from across Europe, as well as advice for how to get rid of them. People troubled by mares might want to place their shoes by the side of the bed and turn the laces towards the place where they plan to lie down. Mares snuck in through keyholes or knot holes, so plugging these openings could keep them away. Alternatively, you could enlist a friend, wait for the mare to appear, and then plug the hole to capture it. (Mares were thought to be female, and a few men in these folkloric accounts were able to trap a beautiful wife this way—but she always escaped when she rediscovered the place she’d come through.) If a mare was sitting on you, you could try putting your thumb in your hand to get it to leave, or you could promise it a gift, which it would come the next day to collect.


Today, it’s thought that the mare's particular nastiness was a way to explain a type of sleep paralysis that, as historian Owen Davies writes in Folklore, affects perhaps 5 to 20 percent of people in their lifetime. Sleep paralysis happens at the edge of sleep, usually just before sleeping or just after waking. Sufferers can see and hear, without being able to move or speak. And some people who experience this state also report feeling a heavy pressure on their chests and a sensation of choking, and the sensation of a dark presence in the room.

“As a boy, I would experience a frightening sound, somewhere between white noise and insect buzzing, while feeling a dark presence in the room,” the writer Andrew Emery explains, in his account of sleep paralysis. In the worst case, he writes, “I’ll fight to regain consciousness and, having told myself I have done so, will still find that there’s some foul presence in my bedroom which then proceeds to punch me in the stomach. At this stage, my mind, which seconds ago knew it was experiencing sleep paralysis, is now convinced I’m the victim of a real-world demonic attack."

There’s no precise treatment for sleep paralysis, nothing better than the superstitions and charms used by medieval people to keep away the mare and its attacks. The episodes are, Davies writes, “a moment when reality, hallucination, and belief fuse to form powerful fantasies of supernatural violation”—a truly terrifying experience, demonic or otherwise.

We want to hear about your dreams and terrors, the ones that stay with you for years. What’s the dream that scared you as a child and still gives you chills? What was the worst dream you ever had? If you’ve experienced hallucinations during sleep paralysis, what did you see? Please tell us all about them here. We’ll publish the most strange, frightening, and hallucinatory among them later this week, just in time for Halloween weekend.

2200 / Graaaaading Still

Oct. 23rd, 2017 09:54 am
siria: (Default)
[personal profile] siria
Star Trek: Discovery, 1.06, Lethe )

20 / 38 essays. (Class 1) 52% done at 09:30

6 / 22 essays. (Class 2) 27% done at 09:30

I need a distraction every time I come up for air from this batch of papers, so I'll try to write a quick comment fic below when I take breaks. I will take prompts as well, if anyone's got any: give me a fandom I know (things I've written in more recently are probably better), a pairing or character(s), and an AU scenario, and I will give you an AU snippet.

Comment Fic:

Constellations, Wonder Woman, Diana/Steve
Habitat Building, MCU, Sam/Steve, for [personal profile] sheafrotherdon
Gold Star, Wonder Woman, Gen, for [personal profile] celli
Handbook for the Recently Deceased, Wonder Woman/MCU, Gen, for [personal profile] greensword


conuly: (Default)

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