The Bandidos and Cossacks — whose bloody clash last weekend left nine dead in Waco, Texas — are among the gangs investigated in an ATF report from last July, which focused on their alarming links to military and government agencies.
—-Nuclear power plant technicians, senior military officers, FBI contractors and an employee of “a highly-secretive Department of Defense agency” with a Top Secret clearance. Those are just a few of the more than 100 people with sensitive military and government connections that law enforcement is tracking because they are linked to “outlaw motorcycle gangs.”
How would the gods and characters of antiquity portrayed in classical paintings look if they appeared alongside us in the modern world? Alexey Kondakov, an artist based in Kiev, Ukraine, created a series of Photoshopped images that answer this question. His 2 Reality series puts classical paintings into settings we experience every day, be it the metro, the sketchy highway underpass, or the local lunch joint.
—It’s interesting to consider how our impressions of these gods change given their new context. They may seem elegant or royal in a painting in a museum, but when superimposed into recognizable parts of modern life, some of them seem begin to seem like obnoxiously drunken revelers.
It’s become common to think about cultural change the same way we think about biological evolution—so common that it may obscure whether the comparison really works. Though there remain many questions yet to answer about biological evolution, it’s a process that’s well-understood. We know, in great detail, how variations emerge, how they’re passed on hereditarily, and how natural selection and other forces push organisms toward change. Evolution is integrated with almost everything else we know about biology.
—It’s been much harder to pin down the exact workings of how ideas change, which has led some scientists to wonder just how deep and literal is the connection between biological and cultural evolution. The greatest skepticism has been aimed at the idea of memes, ideas that are purportedly the individual units of cultural evolution, paralleling the role of genes in biological evolution.
The private life of the African giant offers a remarkable view on evolution.
By David P. Barash
—The first time I saw a free-living giraffe was in Tanzania’s Arusha National Park, where I was astounded by a yellow-and-brown head gliding gracefully and, it seemed, impossibly high above the tops of tall acacia trees. That was 11 years ago and underscored why the giraffe has remained one of my favorite animals. But it wasn’t just my African experiences that kept the giraffe in my graces.
—As an evolutionary biologist and professor, I have put Giraffa camelopardalis on stage in my classrooms—well, not literally—as the embodiment of how natural selection has produced a creature that on the one hand is spectacularly adapted to its peculiar ecological niche and on the other is an example of evolution’s “clumsy, wasteful and blundering” process, to borrow Darwin’s own words. It’s sometimes assumed those blunders result from mutations or evolutionary errors. But in fact they result from history: the fact that at any given point natural selection has no choice but to work from what is already available. More than most animals, giraffes reflect the fact that organisms have not been created from scratch (or if they were, the Special Creator was notably inept). Rather, they have been cobbled together, via trial and success, from their historical antecedents.
Leni Riefenstahl, director of the Nazi propaganda film “Triumph of the Will”, is photographed as she reacts to the shooting of 22 civilians by German soldiers. September 1939 Poland
Most would rather not think about it, but that breakdown gives birth to new life.
Most of us would rather not think about what happens to our bodies after death. But Moheb Costandi finds that this breakdown gives birth to new life in unexpected ways for Mosaic.
—“It might take a little bit of force to break this up,” says mortician Holly Williams, lifting John’s arm and gently bending it at the fingers, elbow, and wrist. “Usually, the fresher a body is, the easier it is for me to work on.”
—Williams speaks softly and has a happy-go-lucky demeanor that belies the nature of her work. Raised and now employed at a family-run funeral home in north Texas, she has seen and handled dead bodies on an almost daily basis since childhood. Now 28 years old, she estimates that she has worked on something like 1,000 bodies.
—Her work involves collecting recently deceased bodies from the Dallas–Fort Worth area and preparing them for their funeral.
His show included stars, but they were never the point—the charge came from the bits. Credit Illustration by Stanley Chow
—On May 7th, two weeks before the end of “Late Show with David Letterman,” on CBS, the host delivered one of his final lists, “Top Ten Surprising Facts About Sesame Street.” The entries, every one a harsh gem, riffed on a documentary about the actor who played Big Bird, but they also satirized the way that the media had recently been strip-mining Letterman’s decades on television, seeking revealing nuggets. No. 9: “The earliest Muppets were made from hollowed-out animal carcasses.” No. 2 got a huge, rolling, in-on-it laugh from the audience: “Oscar the Grouch slightly nicer since announcing May 20th retirement.” The No. 1 fact about “Sesame Street”? “There’s also a guy working the puppeteer.”
Soviet soldiers stand dumfounded at a large pile of human ashes found at the Majdanek concentration camp in 1944.
It’s a fascination with life that’s at the root of our fascination with death. Do we live on in some sort of metaphysical way? Do we experience anything comparable to what we call ‘consciousness’? by Christopher HootonDeath is only a man-made term after all. For some a beginning, for some an end, and for many simply a state of disrepair when medicine gives up. Consciousness
This is what it’s like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
It’s a fascination with life that’s at the root of our fascination with death. Do we live on in some sort of metaphysical way? Do we experience anything comparable to what we call ‘consciousness’?
—Death is only a man-made term after all. For some a beginning, for some an end, and for many simply a state of disrepair when medicine gives up.
—A man who died twice for about two minutes at a time, once from a motorcycle accident, once from an overdose of painkillers, gave an AMA on Reddit today and fielded questions on his experience.
Dolphins have been dying off at unprecedented rates in the Gulf of Mexico over the last five years, and a new study helps confirm what researchers suspected: the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill is to blame.
—After the 2010 disaster, which was the largest marine-based oil spill in US history, scientists documented the highest number of dead bottlenose dolphin strandings on record in the northern Gulf of Mexico, with more than 1,300 washed ashore as of May 2015.
The wandering or ‘sailing’ stones move during windstorms on a surface colonized by microbes, according to the hypothesis of researchers.
—The ‘sailing’ stones of Death Valley in California are famous for apparently moving by themselves, with the phenomenon not being exclusive to this North American desert but also occurring in Spain, in the Manchego lagoon Altillo Chica. Researchers from the Complutense University in Madrid have observed that wind from winter storms generates currents that can push the stones over a surface colonized by microbes. Then once the water has vanished, the mysterious trail is left on the dry bottom of the lagoon.
Life Inside offers perspectives from those who work and live in the criminal justice system.
—I walk out the front doors of the prison at ten o’clock in the morning. For the first time, I am standing in the “sliver.” My mother and sister rush to me, beaming with tears in their eyes. We hug and kiss while my father snaps pictures on a digital camera. No more clanging steel gates, no more guards shouting orders over loud speakers. An oversize American flag sways above us; rust-colored leaves float down through the crisp fall air. Autumn, from the Etruscan root autu- and the Latin auctumnus, signifying the passing of the season. Six years in a box with only a dictionary for a friend: My mind works differently now.
Out of prison, not yet home.
Nazi SS guards being tortured in Dachau witnessed by American Army doctor
Revealed: American doctor’s first-hand account of how he saw Dachau’s SS guards being tortured and shot dead by GIs in ‘cold blood’ because they ‘so had it coming’
—Newly-discovered letters from Army doctor Captain David Wilsey offer dramatic first-hand account of horrors after liberation of Nazi death camp
Capt Wilsey told his wife that soldiers had shot SS ‘beasts’ against a wall and said: ‘I saw it done without a single emotion’
He helped GIs who tortured the SS guards before their death and described how combat engineer avenged a brother’s death by shooting three Nazis
Doctor was credited with saving thousands of lives in combat and never spoke of horrors he saw in wartime experience
Daughter, of Eugene, Oregon, found letters
Revealed: American doctor’s first-hand account of how he saw Dachau’s SS guards bein
Report by department’s inspector general found that the FBI received from the Fisa court 51 orders for such data between 2007 and 2009
—The FBI director, James Comey. Section 215 of the Patriot Act permits the FBI to collect business records relevant to a current counter-terrorism investigation. Photograph: Cliff Owen/AP
—As lawmakers and security agencies braced for a potential loss of the heart of the Patriot Act, a long-delayed Justice Department report showed that the FBI uses the surveillance authorities it provides for “large collections” of Americans’ internet records.
—Section 215 of the Patriot Act permits the FBI to collect business records, such as medical, educational and tax information or other “tangible things” relevant to an ongoing counter–terrorism or espionage investigation. Since 2006, the NSA had also secretly used it to collect US phone data in bulk.
The University of Colorado Libraries Boulder has published a comprehensive repository of Government UFO reports (1). The repository covers a range of US Go
The University of Colorado Libraries Boulder has published a comprehensive repository of Government UFO reports (1).
—The repository covers a range of US Government sources and reports from the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Archives and the National Security Agency.
—The UFO repository also includes international sources from the Ministry of Defence in the UK and the National Archives UFO Files, which are a collection of British government reports from 1981 to 1996.
—There is also a handful of nongovernmental sources, including the Project Blue Book, a footnote database of the digitized material from the Project Blue Book and the NTIS CU, a database of UFO-related reports held by the Information Library.
Allied soldiers at a brothel in southern France, ca., September 1944.
A stone tool recovered in West Turkana, Kenya, which dates to 3.3 million years ago. Credit MPK-WTAP
—One morning in July 2011, while exploring arid badlands near the western shore of Lake Turkana in Kenya, a team of archaeologists took a wrong turn and made a big discovery about early human technology: Our hominin ancestors were making stone tools 3.3 million years ago, some 700,000 years earlier than previously thought.
Whether hell is other people, a place, or just a bad date, it’s deeply ingrained in society’s collective consciousness. But why?
—Whether hell is an expletive, a coercive threat to keep naughty congregants in line, or a euphemism for a bad date, it seems that hell is thoroughly ingrained in our religious and cultural consciousness. But this wasn’t always the case. And there are many believing theologians today who think that hell is immoral, nonexistent, or both, prompting the question: where does hell come from and why do we have it?
The best stories from around the world.
Some of the 340 illegal migrants who were rescued by the Libyan navy off the coast of the western town of Sabratha when their boat began to take on water, sit at a shelter on May 12, 2014 in the coastal town of Zawiya, west of Tripoli. The rescue came on the same day Italy’s navy said at least 14 migrants had died when their boat sank between Libya and Italy, the latest in a string of shipwreck tragedies to hit the Mediterranean. Libya has long been a springboard for Africans seeking a better life in Europe, and the number of illegal departures from its shores is rising. AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD TURKIA (Photo credit should read MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images)
—One summer night, after a few hours surfcasting for tailor, my father and I were driving home along a lonely road between the dunes and the bush. I felt snug and a little sleepy in the passenger’s seat, but it was my job to keep the gas lantern from tipping over, so I clamped it tight between my heels and resisted the urge to drift off. We’d gone down at sunset and caught a feed, but at the age of nine I could take or leave the fishing. The chief attraction of an outing like this was the chance to be alone with my father.
—The evening had gotten cool and the windows were up. I remember the ordinary, reassuring smells inside the vehicle: the pilchards we used for bait, the burnt-toast whiff of the gas mantle, and the old man himself. In those days his personal scent was a cocktail of Dencorub and Quick-Eze. He hadn’t always smelt like that.