Why Did Life Move to Land? For the View
"Life on Earth began in the water. So when the first animals moved onto land, they had to trade their fins for limbs, and their gills for lungs, the better to adapt to their new terrestrial environment.
A new study, out today, suggests that the shift to lungs and limbs doesn’t tell the full story of these creatures’ transformation. As they emerged from the sea, they gained something perhaps more precious than oxygenated air: information. In air, eyes can see much farther than they can under water. The increased visual range provided an “informational zip line” that alerted the ancient animals to bountiful food sources near the shore, according to Malcolm MacIver, a neuroscientist and engineer at Northwestern University."
"After bursting onto the scene as a teenage gym rat, Beth Rodden became one of the most accomplished climbers of all time. Here, for the first time, she opens up about the price of perfectionism, the kidnapping that almost grounded her, finding love again after her marriage to big-wall prodigy Tommy Caldwell, and balancing motherhood and rock."
"“I solemnly swear to join the Danish Oyster-Resistance Volunteer Army,” said another. “I will dedicate my tongue and taste buds to Sino-Danish friendship until these oyster invaders are vanquished.”"
This is the most Portland thing ever. I couldn't even decide what to excerpt -- just read it!
"Health has become the stick with which to beat fat people with, and the benchmark for whether body positivity should include someone. This fails on three levels, though: one, the idea that you can tell the state of someone’s health by looking at them. This is false. Two, the idea that by being fat, you are intrinsically unhealthy. This is false. Three, the idea that being healthy is important and a moral imperative. This is also false. In a movement that’s fair and compassionate, no one should have to prove they’re healthy enough to deserve respect. The thought of jumping through hoops to prove that you’re worthy of being cared about is violent."
"The last thing a fighter pilot wants to do is eject, and it's not just because they're abandoning the ship to a fiery demise. The turbulent process of ejecting puts pilots at serious risk of injury. Once those rockets fire under the seat, they blow a person up and out of the cockpit with enough force to seriously bruise both shoulders on the harness straps and possibly break collarbones. And you better tuck in your knees and elbows, because if anything hits the side of the cockpit on the way out, it's coming off."
"In 1955, a Sears ad printed a phone number which you could call and talk to Santa. The problem was the number didn’t go to Santa, and it didn’t go to anybody who worked at Sears. It actually went to a top secret red phone on the desk of Colonel Harry Shoup. A number that, according to his kids, was only known by four-star generals at the Pentagon and Col. Shoup himself. When the red phone rang, it was a big deal. And then it started ringing off the hook with kids who wanted to talk to Santa. Thankfully, Col. Shoup took it well, and actually turned the phone line into a Christmas favorite: the NORAD Santa tracker."
"In April, U.S. Congressman Bradley Burne (R-Ala.) said “I don’t believe the leadership in North Korea is rational. How do you deal with someone that is irrational?” He echoed prior remarks by U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley who said, “We are not dealing with a rational person,” since, she claimed, Kim is a person “who has not had rational acts, who is not thinking clearly.”
As a guide for understanding North Korea, this analysis is just plain wrong. As a guide for crafting policy toward Pyongyang, it may be catastrophic. North Korea’s system might look bizarre to us from the outside, but the Kims are the ultimate political survivors, hard-edged rationalists whose actions have always had a clear purpose: keeping the family in power. Seeing them as madmen is not only wrong, but also dangerous; any successful policy should be based on understanding the logic of the opposite side, not on discarding it as “irrational.""
"White people are able to establish outrageously successful careers for being experts and authorities on the stuff that racialized folks do every day simply by existing."
"The unconscious is a biological system before it is anything else. To put it as pithily as possibly—and as accurately—the unconscious is a machine for operating an animal.
All animals have an unconscious. If they didn't they would be plants."
"Even before Vladimir Putin was made acting president in 1999 and confirmed as Yeltsin’s successor in 2000, the gang wars were declining. Many criminals at the time feared that Putin was serious in his tough law-and-order rhetoric, but it soon became clear that he was simply offering (imposing) a new social contract with the underworld. Word went out that gangsters could continue to be gangsters without fearing the kind of systematic crack-down they had feared – but only so long as they understood that the state was the biggest gang in town and they did nothing to directly challenge it. The underworld complied. Indiscriminate street violence was replaced by targeted assassinations; tattoos were out, and Italian suits were in; the new generation gangster-businessmen had successfully domesticated the old-school criminals."
"The steel industry in the United States employs about 140,000 people, or less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the American work force. China’s steel makers, by contrast, employed 4.7 million workers in 2014, the last official figure released, or 0.6 percent of China’s labor force then. Nearly 60 years after Mao’s drive to make China a steel giant contributed to a famine that killed millions of people, the country now makes as much steel as the rest of the world put together."
"This phenomenon is not just the result of increasing wealth on the continent and the growing numbers of corporate, private and family foundations, charities and non-profits cropping up every year; it is also growing among what I call ‘everyday Africans’; the middle and lower class people who too recognize the needs within their communities and who mobilize their collective resources to be agents of change themselves. These range from feeding orphans in their communities to sinking boreholes for clean water."
"After finding my family of origin in my early twenties, I was able to piece together a more accurate, nuanced story of my beginnings. A story of a white, working-class girl who benefitted from racial privilege, but lacked any real financial resources or power of her own. A terrified girl. A girl who was pressured, demonized, and ostracized, by her own family and community. A girl who was told by loved ones and professionals that she was unfit to be a mother because she was young and unmarried, because she wouldn’t be able to give me the things I needed, like food or love or a moral compass. Though she wanted to keep me, her parents sent her away to one of those homes where they hid pregnant girls and shamed them into compliance — the kind of place people say didn’t exist after Roe v. Wade. Except this was 1978, half a decade after people who could get pregnant had theoretically won the ability to make more uninhibited choices about whether or not to become parents. My mother, in reality, did not have the ability to make a real, authentic choice. And many pregnant people still do not have this ability. Because a choice made in the absence of other choices has nothing to do with choice."
"Shankleville is one of more than 500 unincorporated freedmen’s colonies, also known as Freedom Colonies, across Texas. After the Civil War, there was a strong push by formerly enslaved African-Americans to own property. Families purchased land in clusters, and developed mostly agrarian communities. Despite their important role in reconstruction, many Freedom Colonies never sought recognition from state or local government."
"One particularly interesting thing about paraprosdokian jokes is how they represent, in miniature, the process of theory-revision in scientific inquiry."
"Spend a few days talking about floods and real estate in Norfolk, and you’ll quickly learn the importance of even tiny inclines. Locals know where, on what appears to the uninitiated to be a flat street, to park their cars to keep them from flooding past the axles when the wind pushes the tide up. Landscapers build what are essentially decorative earthen dikes around houses. When I asked one man how close storm and tidal surges come to his front porch, he pointed at the bricks under my feet, which I had taken for the wall of a flower bed. “You’re actually standing on a bulkhead,” he said."
"Over time, Hu revealed deep anxieties to me about what it was like to be a young man growing up in China and the way in which online video games were an important channel to relieve his deep-seated anxieties."
Yet although few transhumanists would likely admit it, their theories about the future are a secular outgrowth of Christian eschatology. The word transhuman first appeared not in a work of science or technology but in Henry Francis Carey’s 1814 translation of Dante’s Paradiso, the final book of the Divine Comedy. Dante has completed his journey through paradise and is ascending into the spheres of heaven when his human flesh is suddenly transformed. He is vague about the nature of his new body. “Words may not tell of that transhuman change,” he writes.
Dante, in this passage, is dramatising the resurrection, the moment when, according to Christian prophecies, the dead will rise from their graves and the living will be granted immortal flesh. The vast majority of Christians throughout the ages have believed that these prophecies would happen supernaturally – God would bring them about, when the time came. But since the medieval period, there has also persisted a tradition of Christians who believed that humanity could enact the resurrection through science and technology. The first efforts of this sort were taken up by alchemists."
FEMA was started to prepare for nuclear war. Who knew?
" It wasn’t any group of white people resembling the “Socs” who gathered outside the middle school to fight any Indians coming outside. The few landed gentry of the region didn’t spend nights pondering the ways in which our existence bedeviled them. No. It was the sons of pig farmers (with few pigs) and welders (with no large orders of metal to join) and construction workers (with no houses to build) and clerks and baggers who laced up and threw side eye and who had theories and who marshaled arguments as to why we sucked. The reasoning was racial but the need for the reasoning was not: the fiction of our inferiority, our troubling but necessary “thereness” (which was both an affront and a fundamental and necessary constituent of their own self-regard), propped up their own sense of themselves as Americans and capable of anything.
Put another way: without us the fiction of hard work and getting ahead (and of meritocracy itself) was in deep trouble. Without us playing the part of the worst kind of Americans—without the fear and loathing—there was nothing standing between the poor, rural whites (and poor urban whites) and the basic fact that their country did not care about them and try as they might there was (and is) little hope they will “get ahead.” One need only look at the kind of anger Indian casinos generate, proportionate only to the amount of money they generate, to see this is true. The one thing despised more than Indian poverty and dereliction is Indian success, primarily monetary success. The resentment over Indian wealth wonderfully inverts the usual resentment: it is the well-off, the self-made, the successful who seem to resent it more than the most. They, in their thinking, haven’t received any help. They (and no one else) have made it to the high hill on a tide of sweat and smarts and hard work. And that’s how they perceive treaty rights: a leg up, as special treatment. They are neither of course. But then these Americans don’t really understand that they are also the beneficiaries of the treaty rights that have come down from the Treaty of Ghent, the Treaty of Paris, and the Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo. Whereas the white working poor glance up out of their usual hatred of Indians and shrug, as if to say: of course, someone else is having a day in the sun, we never will. And the only way poor whites—weaned on the American Dream, told that if they work hard they can get theirs, trained to knuckle under and clock in and clock out—can pretend all of these lies are true is if they persist in fearing and loathing us. And so they always rose up in the school yard and the mall parking lot and it didn’t take much and there would be blood."
"But I’ve also been able to pass along to them a set of codes that I learned only after I left the reservation—how to talk and please and thank you and the power of a winning smile and the perfection of a kind of social swagger that is the very walk of whiteness—while at the same time encouraging them to nurture their Indianness as a kind of secret self we never talk about outside the home, to nurture a second, secret, but truer self. And this is how we go crazy. Because in doing so we are participate in the deadly fiction of forgetting in order to get along."
"Tripathi’s belief was that the novel should project an ideal future, but should remain in-step with the quotidian, avoiding any real radical divergence. That’s not good for society. It’s not good for the family. Literature, like all art, becomes an avatar of the cultural identity, and in Indian publishing, the country’s complicated relationship with autonomous female narratives continues."
"But as the Trump administration seeks to quickly find jail space for its crackdown on illegal immigration, it is moving to curtail these rules as a way to entice more sheriffs and local officials to make their correctional facilities available.
According to two Homeland Security officials who had knowledge of the plans but declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly, new jail contracts will contain a far less detailed set of regulations.
They will make no mention of the need for translation services, for example. A current rule that detainees’ requests for medical care must be evaluated by a professional within 24 hours will be replaced by a requirement that the jails merely have procedures on providing medical care."
"Most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow. Plus, either way, you need to be good at quickly recognizing and correcting bad decisions. If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure."
"My aphasia had invisible effects, too, in ways that many people wouldn’t even think about. It was not just my external language that was ailing. My inner monologue, my self-directed speech, had also gone almost completely mute. In its place was the radiant Quiet. The nourishing Quiet. The illuminating Quiet."
"Women, especially women of color, are routinely denied credit for their ideas, creativity, genius, and success (not to mention they're paid less than men for full-time work). So, in honor of Women's History Month, I've put together this woefully incomplete timeline of the lowlights:
Pre-European cave paintings are attributed to male hunters up until 2013, when an anthropologist shows that hand tracings found alongside the art at 10 famous sites were likely done by women."
"Miller claims to have known nothing of the mass hanging and the horrors surrounding it before his dream. This is plausible: many of the 30-odd Indians gathered in Lower Brule said they had heard of the hangings for the first time through the ride. The story of the frontier wars was not taught in the public schools where they studied, and their grandparents had not talked about this painful past. “My great-great-grandfather was hanged in Mankato. My great-grandmother’s first memory was of clinging to the fringe of her mother’s tunic as the cavalry chased them out of Minnesota,” Peter Lengkeek, one of the riders, told me. “My grandmother was born in South Dakota around 1905. But when we asked her about these things, she’d just put her finger to her lips. She wouldn’t speak of them. It was too horrible.”"
"Oddly enough, one of the few remaining influences of the Legion’s time in Mexico is the widespread acceptance of the French word for marriage to describe wedding musicians: the mariachi band."
"I was selfishly, deeply gratified to have made at least one choice in my life that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt was the right one. I went through a week of serious pain and a mild recovery thereafter, and as a result, someone got off dialysis and gets to enjoy another nine, 10, maybe more years of life. My recipient and I recently opened up an email dialogue, and it just means the world to me — to both of us."
"The lawsuit says they had a role in violating Ms. Watson’s rights through an ordinance that allows the city to remove residents from their homes and bar them from living anywhere in the city for six months if they are deemed a nuisance. The policy defines one form of nuisance as more than two incidents of domestic violence that result in calls to the police within a 180-day period."
"Suppose we could endow a Turing machine with a magical ability to solve the Halting Problem. What would we get? We’d get a ‘super Turing machine’: one with abilities beyond those of any ordinary machine. But now, how hard is it to decide whether a super machine halts? Hmm. It turns out that not even super machines can solve this ‘super Halting Problem’, for the same reason that ordinary machines can’t solve the ordinary Halting Problem. To solve the Halting Problem for super machines, we’d need an even more powerful machine: a ‘super duper machine.’ And to solve the Halting Problem for super duper machines, we’d need a ‘super duper pooper machine.’ And so on endlessly. This infinite hierarchy of ever more powerful machines was formalized by the logician Stephen Kleene in 1943 (although he didn’t use the term ‘super duper pooper’)."
"Another possible comparison is between British-ruled India and India’s “native states,” namely the numerous territories and principalities where British involvement in direct rule was minimal. To be sure, those regions still were embedded in a broader nexus of British control, and there is no comprehensive database. Nonetheless, historian Jon Wilson, in his recent book “India Conquered: Britain’s Raj and the Chaos of Empire,” offered this assessment: “Economic growth and institutional dynamism occurred in the places that were furthest from the rule of British bureaucrats.” For instance, Tata Steel Ltd. put India’s first modern steel plant in Jamshedpur, a tributary area outside of British rule. Another study found that the independent areas had better performance in terms of education and health care during the post-colonial era."
"Because there was no scientific basis for most of these procedures, forensic testing was not anything like as reliable as most people had thought; errors were made and not caught; new (and ultimately completely unreliable) forensic methods, such as bite mark analysis and hair analysis, were introduced and used, without any kind of validation, with disastrous results. In addition, we have learned much about the errors unintentionally introduced by traditional law enforcement procedures using traditional methods of eyewitness identification and suspect interrogation.
Contemporary social science has taught us how to do a much more accurate and defensible job in both of these core law enforcement areas, with adjustments such as sequential blind lineups and the PEACE method of interrogation. It is the failure to follow these new, better methods, and to accept questions raised about forensics, that leave law enforcement and prosecutors vulnerable to unintentionally creating more wrongful convictions as we go forward, instead of fewer."
"More and more women are breaking societal norms and working in jobs that have been traditionally reserved for men as they step up to serve as their family's breadwinners. Al Jazeera spoke with three women about how their non-traditional jobs have changed their lives."
"Many of political issues that form a dividing line in the U.S. do not in Korea, either because Koreans simply live in a different environment or because there is a broad social consensus over them already."
"Meanwhile, all the rewards for the prosecutor, at any level, are for making more prisoners. Since most prosecutors are elected, they might seem responsive to democratic discipline. In truth, they are so easily reëlected that a common path for a successful prosecutor is toward higher office. And the one thing that can cripple a prosecutor’s political ascent is a reputation, even if based on only a single case, for being too lenient. In short, our system has huge incentives for brutality, and no incentives at all for mercy."
"As makeshift bombs go, this was simple stuff, not likely to get past an alert and honest security staff. In fact, what’s most interesting about the image is not the bomb it shows, but the existence of the image itself, which has circulated since last year in American law-enforcement and bomb-detection circles. Its existence indicates that the bomb was actually scanned and should have been readily spotted. And yet it still made it aboard the aircraft.
Other security images, taken from inside the passengers’ waiting area, showed that the Daallo Airlines bomber did not take the bomb through the airport security checkpoint himself. It was handed to him by an unknown man inside the terminal before he boarded the flight.
Taken together, the available information suggests that this bombing did not signify a technical breakthrough by a bomb maker or terrorist group — let alone the kind of innovation that would merit a ban of laptops in airplane cabins. It pointed to something much more ordinary but just as startling: lapses in routine preflight and terminal security measures. Incompetence or an inside job was at play, or perhaps both — not technical ingenuity."
"The evil stepmother is so integral to our familiar telling of “Snow White” that I was surprised to discover that an earlier version of the story doesn’t feature a stepmother at all. In this version, Snow White has no dead mother, only a living mother who wants her dead. This was a pattern of revision for the Brothers Grimm; they transformed several mothers into stepmothers between the first version of their stories, published in 1812, and the final version, published in 1857. The figure of the stepmother effectively became a vessel for the emotional aspects of motherhood that were too ugly to attribute to mothers directly (ambivalence, jealousy, resentment) and those parts of a child’s experience of her mother (as cruel, aggressive, withholding) that were too difficult to situate directly in the biological parent-child dynamic. The figure of the stepmother — lean, angular, harsh — was like snake venom drawn from an unacknowledged wound, siphoned out in order to keep the maternal body healthy, preserved as an ideal."
"The trees are so big that it would be cowardly not to deal with their bigness head on. They are very, very big. You already knew this — they’re called “giant sequoias” — and I knew it, too. But in person, their bigness still feels unexpected, revelatory. And the delirium of their size is enhanced by their age, by the knowledge that some of the oldest sequoias predate our best tools for processing and communicating phenomena like sequoias, that the trees are older than the English language and most of the world’s major religions — older by centuries, easily, even millenniums. The physical appearance of a tree cannot be deafening, and yet with these trees, it is."
"When he assumes office next month, Mr. Moreno will be the only head of state who needs a wheelchair to get around. That will make him among the most powerful and visible champions of people with disabilities, and position Ecuador to continue setting an example on a human rights issue that has lagged as a global priority."
"The more spread out and car-oriented a city, as a result of enormous car parks, the less appealing walking and cycling become. Besides, if you know you can park free wherever you go, why not drive? The ever-growing supply of free parking in America is one reason why investments in public transport have coaxed so few people out of cars, says David King of Arizona State University. In 1990, 73% of Americans got to work by driving alone, according to the census. In 2014, after a ballyhooed urban revival and many expensive tram and rapid-bus projects, 76% drove."
"This is where my grandparents would call my brother, sister, and me back when the rush of customers slowed, to read Gurdjieff out loud or mix cinnamon sugar while reciting the poem “Desiderata.” We’d do this while making a blend, which we’d stir in an enormous metal bowl exactly 111 times. My grandfather would make us pork chops on a George Foreman grill, seasoned with some unknowable pepper mix. The air was perpetually thick with the commingling of hundreds of spices, herbs, sugars, and salts, blending into a distinctive smell that lingered on your clothing and in your hair all day. It formed thick dust motes that floated in the sunlight coming through windows."
"What is “lunch shaming?” It happens when a child can’t pay a school lunch bill.
In Alabama, a child short on funds was stamped on the arm with “I Need Lunch Money.” In some schools, children are forced to clean cafeteria tables in front of their peers to pay the debt. Other schools require cafeteria workers to take a child’s hot food and throw it in the trash if he doesn’t have the money to pay for it."
"As refugees, we owed them our previous identity. We had to lay it at their door like an offering, and gleefully deny it to earn our place in this new country. There would be no straddling. No third culture here."
"Suffice to say that after much discussion, and many fascinating interludes, Schiavone suggests that ultimately the economic stagnation of the ancient world was due to a peculiar equilibrium that centered around slavery."
"What both narratives reveal is the extent to which science is “a profoundly social practice.” For all our attempts at objectivity and empiricism, we always see the world through any number of cultural filters that provide greater or lesser degrees of clarity, and which themselves are constantly evolving."
"Whether these speech patterns are viewed as women’s talk, it’s clear that they are also widely used by other speakers regardless of gender or age, and often only marked and stigmatized when that speaker happens to be young or a woman. It’s interesting that many people get rather annoyed when they hear these speech patterns coming from a woman or a younger speaker (but often are oblivious when the same verbal tics are used by a man)."
Really good explainer on the Syrian civil war.
"Who knew salt could be up for the job? Well, butchers, for one, who have used it to fight off pathogens like Salmonella for centuries. And it was a casual conversation with a former butcher that led Brayden Whitlock, a graduate student at the University of Alberta, to design a pilot study that put salt and copper head to head. Coupon-sized strips of pure, compressed sodium chloride were covered in an MRSA culture, alongside similar strips of antimicrobial copper and stainless steel. Whitlock found that salt killed off the bug 20 to 30 times faster than the copper did, reducing MRSA levels by 85 percent after 20 seconds, and by 94 percent after a minute."