Jamie Smith says he was recruited into the CIA as an undergraduate at Ole Miss, cofounded Blackwater, and has done clandestine intelligence work all over the world, operating out of a counterterrorism boot camp in the woods of north Mississippi. Plenty of people believed him, including the Air Force (which paid him $7 million to train personnel) and William Morrow, which signed him up to write his memoir. There’s just one little question: How much of it is true
Myths about differences between the brains of men and women never seem to die, and the most popular ones raise real issues for women in tech, math and science.
—The most recent entry in the gender-brain sweepstakes is the BBC, with a series called “Is Your Brain Male or Female?” Stories and interviews about the series have already been featured in the U.S. on public radio stations.
OF the three most fundamental scientific questions about the human condition, two have been answered.
—First, what is our relationship to the rest of the universe? Copernicus answered that one. We’re not at the center. We’re a speck in a large place.
—Second, what is our relationship to the diversity of life? Darwin answered that one. Biologically speaking, we’re not a special act of creation. We’re a twig on the tree of evolution.
—Third, what is the relationship between our minds and the physical world? Here, we don’t have a settled answer. We know something about the body and brain, but what about the subjective life inside? Consider that a computer, if hooked up to a camera, can process information about the wavelength of light and determine that grass is green. But we humans also experience the greenness. We have an awareness of information we process. What is this mysterious aspect of ourselves?
The Digital Transformation Of The Way Books Are Published And Sold Has Only Just Begun – Business Insider
Attorney General Robert Kennedy is comforted by two of his children on the lawn of his home, after he had been notified of the assassination of his brother, November 22, 1963
In nearly twenty years and twelve hundred obituaries, Margalit Fox, a senior writer at the New York Times, has chronicled the lives of such personages as the president of Estonia, an underwater cartographer, and the inventor of Stove Top Stuffing. An instrumental figure in pushing the obituary past Victorian-era formal constraints, Fox produces features-style write-ups of her subjects whether they’re ubiquitous public figures, comparatively unknown men and women whose inventions have changed the world, or suicidal poets. (More on those below.)
n 1968 the state of Vermont passed a landmark anti-billboard law and the landscape has been billboard-free ever since. The law was the result of the extraordinary efforts of one man, Ted Riehle (1924 – 2007), who was determined to preserve the natural beauty of Vermont. According to John Kessler, chair of the Travel…
The Filipinos’ private car rolled into the train yards just north of New York’s Grand Central Station. It was wet, windy, and not yet daybreak. The train slowed and Julio gazed through the rain-streaked window at the dark, foreboding sky, the cold glass numbing his cheek. Great plumes of smoke billowed out as the train squealed and hissed to a halt. Julio could just make out a group of figures moving around in the murk outside. He strained to get a better look. Suddenly out of the gloom a pale face streaked in oil and grime pressed up against the glass, almost a mirror image of his own.
Before it became the New World, the Western Hemisphere was vastly more populous and sophisticated than has been thought—an altogether more salubrious place to live at the time than, say, Europe. New evidence of both the extent of the population and its agricultural advancement leads to a remarkable conjecture: the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact
Crypto wars redux: why the FBI’s desire to unlock your private life must be resisted | Technology | theguardian.com
In 1995, the US government tried – and failed – to categorise encryption as a weapon. Today, the same lines are being drawn and the same tactics repeated as the FBI wants to do the same. Here’s why they are wrong, and why they must fail again
The Boston neuroscientists Doo Yeon Kim, left, and Rudolph E. Tanzi grew diseased cells in a petri dish as a way to quickly and cheaply test treatments. Credit Dominick Reuter for The New York Times
–For the first time, and to the astonishment of many of their colleagues, researchers created what they call Alzheimer’s in a Dish — a petri dish with human brain cells that develop the telltale structures of Alzheimer’s disease. In doing so, they resolved a longstanding problem of how to study Alzheimer’s and search for drugs to treat it; the best they had until now were mice that developed an imperfect form of the disease.
Fashion and commercial photography has exploded over the last few decades, saturating the urban landscape with giant, colorful, dynamic and static ads. Nowhere is this scene played out more than in New York City. Here, buildings and billboards are covered with huge ads with sexy models and exotic products. Most New Yorkers have become desensitized to this phenomenon, but to outsiders, the blaring product placements are hard to miss. Natan Dvir documents this craze for huge fashion ads in his project, “Coming Soon”.
You’d be forgiven if, settling into the fall 2003 “Literature of the 16th Century” course at University of California, Berkeley, you found the unassuming 70-year-old man standing at the front of the lecture hall a bit eccentric. For one thing, the class syllabus, which was printed on the back of a rumpled flyer promoting bicycle safety, seemed to be preparing you for the fact that some readings may feel toilsome. “Don’t worry,” it read on the two weeks to be spent with a notoriously long allegorical poem; it’s “only drudgery if you’re reading it for school.” Phew! you thought, then, Wait a second… You might have wondered what you had gotten yourself into. Then again, if you had enrolled in Stephen Booth’s class, chances are that you already knew.MORE.
Kitagawa Utamaro, Youth and Geisha Dancing as Another Geisha Plays the Shamisen, 1805 on Flickr.
On Saturday, October 11th, at 1:00 P.M. E.T., Edward Snowden, the N.S.A. whistle-blower, spoke via live video with the New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer.
Hitler visiting one of the trenches he had served in during the First World War. Fromelles, France – 1940.
U.S. Marines emerge from muddy foxholes after a third night of fighting against of NVA 324 B division troops during the Vietnam War on Sept. 21, 1966.
The American newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane said that “a picture is worth a thousand words” in 1911. Over 100 years later, this still rings true.
Each photograph tells a story, a special event or moment, and helps us witness the past. From historical landmarks and well-known people to the basic daily routines of the past, these 60 pictures have lessons for us, and portray the past in a way that we can empathize with and understand it more intimately.
1. Titanic, 1912
Masoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdish regional government. In July, he told the Kurdish parliament, “The time has come to decide our fate, and we should not wait for other people to decide it for us.” Credit Photograph by Moises Saman / Magnum
On the evening of August 8th, Najat Ali Saleh, a former commander of the Kurdish army, was summoned to a meeting with Masoud Barzani, the President of the semiautonomous Kurdish region that occupies the northern part of Iraq. Barzani, a longtime guerrilla fighter, was alarmed. Twenty-four hours before, fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) had made a huge incursion into the Kurds’ territory. They had overrun Kurdish forces in the western Iraqi towns of Sinjar and Makhmour, and had surged as far as Gwer, fifteen miles from the capital city of Erbil. At the Mosul Dam, on the Tigris River, they had seized the controls, giving them the ability to inundate Baghdad with fifteen feet of water. The Kurdish army is known throughout the region for its ferocity—its fighters are called peshmerga, or “those who face death”—and the defeat had been a humiliation. “We were totally unprepared for what happened,” Saleh told me. Kurdish leaders were so incensed that they relieved five commanders of their posts and detained them for interrogation. “It would have been better for them if they had fought to the death,” he said.
The drought is now killing off century old California farms. People here don’t blame the weather gods for not bringing rain — they blame the rest of us for not giving a damn.
Climate change may be the existential threat, but underlying this is, of course, population size. And this is a problem that never seems to go away. There are of course two ways, broadly speaking, to limit population growth aside from draconian policies governing reproduction (such as China’s One Child policy). One is sometimes called the demographic transition. This is when a combination of factors including so-called modernization which may involve increase quality of health care in combination with increased social equality lead to lower birth rates. The other is when things go badly wrong and interruptions in the food supply, warfare genocide, and epidemic disease simply cull out large parts of the population.
—The following chart shows the effect of two major famines on the overall population increase in Ethiopia since 1950. If you squint and look at it kinda sideways you can see the slowing of population increase during this period. But really, it made little difference.
I’ll begin by laying my cards on the table. I lived in Washington, D.C. from 2010 to 2013. For almost all that time, my apartment was either in Columbia Heights or Mt. Pleasant—neighborhoods that have recently seen an influx of upwardly mobile young people.
—Wherever I lived, my rent never exceeded $1,000. This gave me a bit of disposable income, which I often spent at places like nice coffee shops and farm-to-table restaurants. And yes, during that time, I called the cops once, to report a brutal group beating happening in the lot behind my apartment.
—Is there such a thing as a “good gentrifier”? Was I one of them? And if the “good gentrifier” exists, does being one have more to do with cultural values or economic power?
The first smile
Why do laughter, smiles and tears look so similar? Perhaps because they all evolved from a single root
These prolific artists produced one or more public sculptures – usually of everyday objects – almost every year from 1976 onwards, in countries spanning the globe[....]
Batcolumn in Chicago is a 31m (101′) tall representation of a baseball bat, from 1977.
1977′s Pool Balls in Münster, Germany, can be seen (unfortunately with graffiti) in this PhotoSphere by Sascha Koalick.
At the genomic level, several processes are similar
Unless you’re having a picnic outdoors, worms and flies are about the furthest organisms imaginable from humans. That’s apparently not true in a genetic sense, as researchers from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) have found multiple common genomic traits among all three, indicating a shared origin. The researchers say the findings offer valuable insights concerning human biology and disease.
“One way to describe and understand the human genome is through comparative genomics and studying model organisms,” said Mark Gerstein, Ph.D., Albert L. Williams Professor of Biomedical Informatics at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and the lead author on one of the papers. “The special thing about the worm and fly is that they are very distant from humans evolutionarily, so finding something conserved across all three – human, fly and worm – tells us it is a very ancient, fundamental process.”
Sometimes panoramas just don’t work. A shaky hand or moving object can really mess things up, but sometimes, accidents can lead to funny outcomes and everybody wins! Over the last year I’ve noticed a lot of funny panoramas on reddit and decided to compile the best ones into a single post. Enjoy!
Buy Experiences, Not Things
Forty-seven percent of the time, the average mind is wandering. It wanders about a third of the time while a person is reading, talking with other people, or taking care of children. It wanders 10 percent of the time, even, during sex. And that wandering, according to psychologist Matthew Killingsworth, is not good for well-being. A mind belongs in one place. During his training at Harvard, Killingsworth compiled those numbers and built a scientific case for every cliché about living in the moment. In a 2010 Science paper co-authored with psychology professor Daniel Gilbert, the two wrote that “a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.”
—For Killingsworth, happiness is in the content of moment-to-moment experiences. Nothing material is intrinsically valuable, except in whatever promise of happiness it carries. Satisfaction in owning a thing does not have to come during the moment it’s acquired, of course. It can come as anticipation or nostalgic longing. Overall, though, the achievement of the human brain to contemplate events past and future at great, tedious length has, these psychologists believe, come at the expense of happiness. Minds tend to wander to dark, not whimsical, places. Unless that mind has something exciting to anticipate or sweet to remember.