Posted onOctober 6, 2015|Comments Off on The Truth About Britain’s ‘Flesh-Eating’ Cocaine
From the column ‘Narcomania’
A case study from the ‘British Medical Journal’ of a woman whose skin and flesh is rotting due to the presence of levamisole in the cocaine she had been taking. Photo courtesy BMJ
—Corrupted cocaine sold in Britain is making people’s skin rot. Or so we were told last week, when a series of reports warned of the “flesh eating” cocaine causing people to suffer from a rare blood disorder that makes their flesh decompose and their ears go black.
Posted onOctober 6, 2015|Comments Off on So much worse than Auschwitz: “People not very different from us murdered other people not very different from us at close quarters”
One concentration camp is remembered as shorthand for the entire
FILE – A picture taken just after the liberation by the Soviet army in January, 1945, shows a group of children wearing concentration camp uniforms behind barbed wire fencing in the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp. On Thursday Jan. 22, 2015, Russia accused Poland of engaging in a “mockery of history” after the Polish foreign minister Grzegorz Schetyna credited Ukrainian soldiers, rather than the Soviet Red Army, with liberating Auschwitz 70-years ago. The latest exchange comes prior to the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops on Jan. 27, 1945, underlining deep tensions between Russia and Poland, which is hugely critical of Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine. (AP Photo/FILE)
Holocaust. That lets us paper over true horrors
Reprinted from “BLACK EARTH: THE HOLOCAUST AS HISTORY AND WARNING”
Auschwitz symbolizes the intention to murder all Jews under German control, and Jews from every corner of the German empire were murdered in its gas chambers. Some Jews survived Auschwitz because it remained, to the end, a set of camps as well as a death facility, where Jews were selected for labor as they entered. Thus a story of survival at Auschwitz can enter collective memory. Almost literally no Jew who stood at the edge of a death pit survived, and almost literally no Jew who entered Treblinka or Bełz ̇ec or Sobibór or Chełmno survived. The word “Auschwitz” has become a metonym for the Holocaust as a whole. Yet the vast majority of Jews had already been murdered, further east, by the time that Auschwitz became a major killing facility. Yet while Auschwitz has been remembered, most of the Holocaust has been largely forgotten.
Posted onOctober 6, 2015|Comments Off on Citizenship leads immigrants to integrate, not the other way around
An unusual immigration process from Switzerland could inform policy-making.
—In the midst of a heated global debate about immigration policies, a natural population-level experiment from Switzerland may provide some timely and relevant data for policymakers. It suggests that immigrants who gain citizenship in their new countries go on to have improved integration into the fabric of that country.
—Obviously, establishing cause and effect here is very tricky: what if immigrants are only likely to apply for citizenship if they’re already well-integrated into society? Or what if only those immigrants who are well-integrated have their applications accepted? That makes it challenging to tell whether it’s the citizenship causing the integration, rather than the better integration encouraging to citizenship.
The Castrato: Reflections on Natures and Kinds by Martha Feldman
California, 454 pp, £40.00, March, ISBN 978 0 520 27949 0
Portrait of a Castrato: Politics, Patronage and Music in the Life of Atto Melani by Roger Freitas
Cambridge, 452 pp, £22.99, May 2014, ISBN 978 1 107 69610 5
Balzac’s Sarrasine tells the story of a young woman’s wonder at the strange appearance of an old man at a party in Paris. Balzac has tremendous fun describing the man. First his clothes: he is wearing ‘a white waistcoat embroidered with gold’ and ‘a shirt-frill of English lace, yellow with age, the magnificence of which a queen might have envied’. Then the face: ‘That dark face was full of angles and furrowed deep in every direction; the chin was furrowed; there were great hollows at the temples; the eyes were sunken in yellow orbits. The maxillary bones, which his indescribable gauntness caused to protrude, formed deep cavities in the centre of both cheeks.’ And it was not just his furrows and hollows, it was his make-up: ‘We often see more hideous old men; but what contributed more than aught else to give to the spectre that rose before us the aspect of an artificial creation was the red and white paint with which he glistened.’ The man also wore a light wig, ‘with innumerable curls which indicated extraordinary pretensions to elegance’.
Posted onOctober 6, 2015|Comments Off on The Crumbling Ruins of ‘Shwe Inn Thein’ Pagodas of Indein, Myanmar
In the western bank of Inle Lake, in the heart of Myanmar’s jungles, lies the small village of Indein with hundreds of ancient pagodas of many shapes and sizes and in various states of ruin. Some of them have been restored, but most are in the crumbling state overgrown with bushes.The village is reached only by boat through the Inn Thein creek, a long narrow foliage-cloaked canal that wind through the dense overgrowth. The scenic 8 kilometer boat ride from Inle Lake can be made only in the rainy season and winter, and not in summer as the water becomes too shallow.There are two sets of pagodas around Indein — Nyaung Ohak and Shwe Inn Thein.shwe-inn-thein-pagodas-5
Posted onOctober 5, 2015|Comments Off on “Every man reads one book in his life, and this one is mine”: E.B. White’s lifelong conversation with Thoreau’s “Walden”
From Thoreau’s ramblings, White learned not to take himself too seriously — but to take life seriously indeed
—On Oct. 1, 1985, in an 11-room house on 40 acres of saltwater farm in the Maine town of North Brooklin, E.B. White died. In the latter days of his life, suffering from senile dementia, he’d occasionally charitably mistake his bedroom for a suite at the Algonquin. Out the door, down by the cove’s edge, his typewriter rested in the wooden boathouse where he wrote his most enduring works, including much of “Charlotte’s Web He might have taken the boathouse for somewhere else, too, for at 10-by-15-feet it was the same size as Henry David Thoreau’s cabin off Walden pond.
—This was not White’s design, though it may as well have been. “Every man, I think, reads one book in his life, and this one is mine,” he wrote of “Walden” in a 1953 New Yorker piece. “It is not the best book I ever encountered, perhaps, but it is for me the handiest.”
Posted onOctober 5, 2015|Comments Off on If the face fits: science of attraction is based on personal experience – study
US research analysing 35,000 volunteers’ preferences for wide
variety of different faces finds sexual attraction is not based on genetics or other influences
Contestants for a Miss World beauty pageant, pose for the cameras. While the beauty world is often accused of homogeny of looks, new research shows what is considered attractive in a face varies widely.
Contestants for a Miss World beauty pageant, pose for the cameras. While the beauty world is often accused of homogeny of looks, new research shows what is considered attractive in a face varies widely. Photograph: Toby Melville/PA
—If your partner has a face that could curdle milk, you only have yourself to blame. Scientists have found that the faces we fancy are shaped more by our personal experiences than genetics or other influences.
Posted onOctober 5, 2015|Comments Off on Watch Blac Simon & Garfunkel Sing Weeknd With Art Garfunkel
Years before Stephen Colbert brought out faux-Paul Simon cover band Troubled Waters on Late Show, Jimmy Fallon was parodying the “Bridge Over Troubled Water” duo with Black Simon & Garfunkel. The Roots’ “Captain” Kirk Douglas and Questlove reprised their roles as the folk-singing duo of contemporary hits Wednesday night, but this time they were joined by a special guest: Art Garfunkel himself. The singer assisted Black Simon & Garfunkel for the Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face.”
Posted onOctober 5, 2015|Comments Off on Backyard Atomic Gardens of the 1960s and their Undocumented Legacy
Have you ever seen a strangely misshapen tomato growing in your vegetable garden? A uniquely pigmented plant in your backyard that’s just not like others, able to thrive even in the harshest of seasons? There’s a very good chance that it could be an atomic heirloom from a forgotten atomic garden of the 1950s and 60s.
The Ancient Civilization With Perfect Teeth
—Two surprising findings from new imagery of ancient human remains from Pompeii
—It was with a force greater than an atom bomb that Mount Vesuvius erupted and blotted out Pompeii in 79 A.D.
—Or, not blotted out, exactly.
—The city’s destruction, and the thing that has kept Pompeii so fascinating over the centuries, entails a paradox: The surge of ash and hot gas that blanketed thousands of victims also, simultaneously, preserved their bodies—along with their colorful art, sparkling jewelry, wine jugs, scrolls, and other cultural remnants.
—Now, scientists are using new imaging technologies to examine in detail the bones and teeth of those killed in the blast.
Posted onOctober 5, 2015|Comments Off on Marijuana: Will Legalization Create an Economic Boom?
When Oregon begins the first legal sales of recreational marijuana
Shane Cavanaugh, owner of Amazon Organics, a pot dispensary in Eugene, Ore., arranges the cannabis display in his store on Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. Medical marijuana dispensaries in Oregon will be able to sell recreational marijuana starting Thursday. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
on Oct. 1, I’ll be thinking about my Dad. He’s a major reason I became a state lawmaker and have been helping implement Oregon’s new marijuana law.
—During the 1980s recession, Dad stopped taking a salary at the family rock crushing business. It was the only way he and my uncles could keep M.C. Lininger and Sons afloat. Mom warned that if the business closed, we might have to leave the Rogue Valley, where our family has lived for generations. Southern Oregon’s economy was withering, and in many cases, the jobs never came back.
Posted onOctober 5, 2015|Comments Off on The war in Afghanistan has so far cost $33,000 per citizen. And will not end well.
Afghan local police (ALP) sit at the back of a truck near a frontline during a battle with the Taliban at Qalay- i-zal district, in Kunduz province, Afghanistan August 1, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer
—Fourteen years old this month, the West’s war in Afghanistan had all but vanished from the headlines. Even before the fall of Kunduz this week, however — the first provincial capital to be taken by the Taliban in more than a decade — it was clear that all was not going well.
—Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that United States and allied officials were reviewing White House plans to scale down NATO troop numbers in Afghanistan to several hundred by the end of next year, from some 10,000 now. A reduction on that scale, they apparently worry, could leave the door open for not just a Taliban recovery, but also significant inroads by elements of Islamic State.
Studio 54 was a popular New York nightclub from 1977 until 1981 when it was sold by founders and creators Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager. Frequent regulars at Studio 54 included Andy Warhol, Liza Minnelli, Bianca Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor, Halston, Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones, Michael Jackson… Here, take a look inside Studio 54 from between the late 1970s to early 1980s.
Susan Anton, Sylvester Stallone and Andy Warhol by Ron Galella
Posted onOctober 5, 2015|Comments Off on Pedro Domingos’ Master Algorithm: How machine learning is reshaping how we live.
BitwiseDecoding the tech world.Sept. 25 2015 1:34 PMThe Programs That Become the Programmers1.1k65747“Machine learning” is starting to reshape how we live. It’s time we understood it.By David Auerbach150925_BIT_ANNBrainVertical section of human brain MRI scan, overlaid with a single-layer feed-forward artificial neural network.Photo illustration by Lisa Larson-Walker. Images by Ultima_Gaina/Thinkstock and Akritasa/Wikimedia Commons.FutureTense_logoComputers and the algorithms they run are precise, perfect, meticulously programmed, and austere. That’s the idea, anyway. But there’s a burgeoning, alternative model of programming and computation that sidesteps the limitations of the classic model, embracing uncertainty, variability, self-correction, and overall messiness. It’s called machine learning, and it’s impacted fields as diverse as facial recognition, movie recommendations, real-time trading, and cancer research—as well as all manner of zany experiments, like Google’s image-warping Deep Dream. Yet even within computer science, machine learning is notably opaque. In his new book The Master Algorithm, Pedro Domingos covers the growing prominence of machine learning in close but accessible detail. Domingos’ book is a nontechnical introduction to the subject, but even if it still seems daunting, it’s important to understand how machine learning works, the many forms it can take, and how it’s taking on problems that give traditional computing a great deal of trouble. Machine learning won’t bring us a utopian singularity or a dystopian Skynet, but it will inform an increasing amount of technology in the decades to come.
Posted onOctober 5, 2015|Comments Off on The Big Picture – The Boston Globe
Here’s a look at some of the best images taken by Globe photographers last month including an eclipse of a supermoon, Medal of Honor recipients visiting Boston, a 90-year-old’s trek up Mt. Washington, and the start of the Patriots regular season.– By Lloyd Young (35 photos total)
“Where will the Devil show most malice but where he is hated, and hateth most?” Cotton Mather wrote.
“Where will the Devil show most malice but where he is hated, and hateth most?” Cotton Mather wrote. Credit Illustration by Thomas Allen; Source: Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum (document)
—In 1692, the Massachusetts Bay Colony executed fourteen women, five men, and two dogs for witchcraft. The sorcery materialized in January. The first hanging took place in June, the last in September; a stark, stunned silence followed. Although we will never know the exact number of those formally charged with having “wickedly, maliciously, and feloniously” engaged in sorcery, somewhere between a hundred and forty-four and a hundred and eighty-five witches and wizards were named in twenty-five villages and towns. The youngest was five; the eldest nearly eighty. Husbands implicated wives; nephews their aunts; daughters their mothers; siblings each other. One minister discovered that he was related to no fewer than twenty witches.
Old age is perplexing to imagine in part because the definition of it is notoriously unstable. As people age, they tend to move the goalposts that mark out major life stages.
Old age is perplexing to imagine in part because the definition of it is notoriously unstable. As people age, they tend to move the goalposts that mark out major life stages. Credit Illustration by Wesley Allsbrook
What does it feel like to be old? Not middle-aged, or late-middle-aged, but one of the members of the fastest-growing demographic: the “oldest old,” those aged eighty-five and above? This has been the question animating me for a couple of years, as I’ve tried to write a novel from the perspective of a man in his late eighties. The aging population is on our collective minds; a statistic that intrigued me is that the average life expectancy in the U.K.—and, by extension, most of the rich West—is increasing by more than five hours a day, every day. I’m in my mid-thirties, but felt confident that I could imagine my way into old age. How hard could it be, really?
Posted onOctober 5, 2015|Comments Off on If Everyone Knew | Now with five more facts that everyone should know.
The prison system in the US is a profit-making industry. 6 corporations control virtually all media in America. The FBI admits to infiltrating & disrupting peaceful political groups. The CIA abducted and tortured citizens for research. The Joint Chiefs of Staff approved a plan to attack US cities to justify war with Cuba.
IF you live in the United States, you probably do some form of recycling. It’s likely that you separate paper from plastic and glass and metal. You rinse the bottles and cans, and you might put food scraps in a container destined for a composting facility. As you sort everything into the right bins, you probably assume that recycling is helping your community and protecting the environment. But is it? Are you in fact wasting your time?
Posted onOctober 5, 2015|Comments Off on The “Ultimate Jurassic Predator” Could Crush a Hummer in Its Jaws
Predator XOn a Norwegian island within the Arctic Circle, researchers have unearthed the fossilized remains of a marine monster they call “Predator X.” The 50-foot beast is a new species of pliosaur, and researchers say the enormous reptile ruled the Jurassic seas some 147 million years ago…. “Its anatomy, physiology and hunting strategy all point to it being the ultimate predator – the most dangerous creature to patrol the Earth’s oceans” [New Scientist], the Natural History Museum at the University of Oslo said in a breathless press release.