In Focus has a nice slideshow of photos of blimps, dirigibles, and airships, from the first flights in the early 1900s to the Hindenberg disaster to the blimps flying high over sporting events.
(via @alexismadrigal)Tags: flying photography
In Focus has a nice slideshow of photos of blimps, dirigibles, and airships, from the first flights in the early 1900s to the Hindenberg disaster to the blimps flying high over sporting events.
(via @alexismadrigal)Tags: flying photography
I gave a talk earlier today which will be familiar to most of you. I try not to talk much in public. But I'm doing a lot more lately. I don't know what that means. I have this fear of becoming a dude more known for running his mouth than banging it out. (Which is why I left Twitter.) Anyway give this a listen while you do the dishes or while you're screwing around with the new SimCity. Or whatever else the kids are doing these days.
Here's to forever banging it out.
Worcestershire sauce, sometimes known as “Worcester sauce” is a savoury sauce that is often added to meat and fish dishes or, if you like your alcoholic beverages, the Bloody Mary cocktail. It may (or may not depending on how much you research your sauce choices) surprise you to learn that it’s literally made from fermented fish and spices.
Yes, when you order a Bloody Mary, you’re pretty much asking the guy behind the bar to pour aged fish juice into your vodka. It probably won’t surprise you that Worcestershire sauce is English, because of course rotted fish sauce is English. “Rotted fish sauce” is possibly the most English phrase ever typed on this website- and I should know, I’m English.
The sauce is made from anchovies fermented in vinegar, if that sounds disgusting, we’re just getting started. After around 18 months (yes, months) the anchovies should hopefully be fermented enough to be little more than a fishy purée. When they have the purée, they then throw in garlic, onions, chilli peppers, salt, sugar and a big ol’ pile of “natural flavourings“.
After they have this mixture, they either add water and bottle it, or ship off the concentrated fish paste mixture in big barrels so other people can add water to it.
If you’re wondering what those natural flavourings are, even though the main ingredient is literally year old rancid fish, Lea & Perrins and later, Heinz after they bought L&P, have never revealed the exact mixture they use.
This is, of course, probably more to do with the fact that someone else could steal their recipe and make their own sauce than people thinking the mixture was disgusting(er). However, according to rumours and rumblings that have happened over the years, lemons, soy sauce, pickles and something known as “devil’s dung” are all supposedly used, because of course “dung” could only improve the flavor of vinegar and congealed fish remains.
As for why the mixture is called, “Worcestershire sauce” that’s a decidedly much simpler issue- it’s because the sauce- most likely adapted from recipe from India- was originally made in the English city of Worcester around 1840. The city of Worcester just so happens to be smack, bang in the middle of Worcestershire. So that’s it, mystery solved and in only 400 words, boy do we wish all of our article were this simple. But wait, there’s more.
Back when Worcestershire sauce was first created in roughly 1837 (the exact date isn’t know) by chemists John Wheeley Lea and William Perrins (Mr Lea and Mr Perrins), it was marketed as something quite exotic. The sauce was supposedly created from a recipe handed down by a member of the English nobility known only as Lord Marcus Sandys, who apparently learned the recipe while serving as the governor of Bengal.
It probably comes as no surprise that no one by that name ever served as the governor of Bengal. On top of this, somewhat fantastical claim, Lea and Perrins claimed that their sauce also served as an aid to digestion (as rancid fish is wont to do) and that it was effectively a great medicine. As you’ve probably guessed already, this is all hogwash- which, to be fair, was probably one of the original ingredients when they were experimenting with versions of the recipe for the sauce.
Another fishy claim made by the pair was that they first made the sauce at the bequest of someone rich and powerful, because hey, why not? Unfortunately, they claimed the first batch was awful. It was apparently much too strong. So much so that instead of throwing it away like a normal person, they left the barrel with the sauce in their basement.
When they came back many months, or a couple years, later (depending on the version of their story you read) and saw the mixture of fish paste they’d forgotten to throw away, they decided to stick their finger right into it to see if it tasted any better than it had originally.
For some reason, rather than dying of stomach cramps on the spot, they were fine and the mixture actually tasted awesome; and thus, the sauce we know and love was born.
This is probably the one aspect of the intricate original tale weaved by the pair that I’m almost, but not quite, inclined to believe, since, well, that’s exactly how the sauce is made today and why else would you randomly store awful tasting fish juices for so long?
Regardless of the true origins of the sauce, Mr Lea and Mr Perrins quickly displayed their business acumen by paying to have ocean liners out of Britain take barrels of their sauce on-board in the late 1830s. When passengers tried the sauce and realised that it was totally god-like, they’d buy a bottle and take it with them. The ingenious part being that thousands of bottles of their sauce were now in cupboards across the globe, just waiting for people to try it and be hooked.
The plan worked perfectly and by 1866 the pair were able to sell their chemist shop to instead sell aged fish sauce full time due to the worldwide demand for it; truly they were living the dream. A fishy smelling dream, but the dream nonetheless.
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The post What is in Worcestershire Sauce and Why is It Called That? appeared first on Today I Found Out.
Janet Jackson and wardrobe malfunction. Peanut butter and jelly. Sonny and Cher. Some things just go together. Sort of how I feel about Canadian-American actor Rick Moranis and the movies Honey, I Shrunk the Kids or Ghostbusters. Whenever I hear his name, I have immediate flashbacks of oversized Cheerios and milk splashing out of a giant bowl. But what happened to the guy with horn-rimmed glasses? What is he doing now?
A comedy-genius, Moranis quietly vanished from acting in 1997, when he was last seen on screen in the movie titled ‘Big Bully.’ He had been slowly disappearing from the public eye after his wife’s death from breast cancer that had spread to her liver in 1991.
Why the disappearing act? He chose to leave Hollywood to be a stay-at-home dad and raise his children.
A few months ago (July of 2013), he opened up about his unpopular choice to walk away from fame at the peak of his career during a rare interview on Bullseye with Jesse Thorn. (Definitely worth a full listen if you’re a fan of Moranis.) The actor says he simply wanted to recreate the same wonderful childhood for his kids that he experienced.
In his own words:
Well, stuff happens to people everyday and they make adjustments in their lives for all kinds of reasons, and there was nothing unusual about what happened or what I did. I think the reason people were intrigued about the decisions I was making, and sometimes seem to have almost admiration for it, had less to do with the fact that I was doing what I was doing and more to do with what they thought I was walking away from- as if what I was walking away from had far greater value than anything else might.
The decision in my case to become a stay at home dad, which people do all the time, I guess wouldn’t have meant much to people if I had had a very simple kind of “make-a-living” existence and decided, “You know what? I need to spend more time at home. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to do this part time and then work out of my house to do this and this and this.”
But because I came from celebrity and fame and what was a peak of a career, that was intriguing to people and to me it wasn’t that. It wasn’t anything to do with that. It was just work and it was time to make an adjustment…
I was trying to recreate a lot of the joy I experienced as a kid… [I] kind of decided to follow the adage of “90% of the success is showing up or being there” and I found that to be true. Just being there was the best thing I could do. That’s what I experienced with my mother at home all the time and so when my kids came home there was music and there were lights on there were great smells coming out of the kitchen and it was just always a joyous place to be and that’s what I wanted, what I wanted to create.
I didn’t walk away from [my creativity], I applied all my creativity to my home life, to me kids, to my family. I was the same person, I didn’t change, I just shifted my focus.
So does he miss acting?
I missed the people, and I missed the very refreshing nature of doing something radically different every day. Raising kids and being a stay at home parent, especially being a single stay at home parent, is a lot of sameness. It’s a very different kind of life than being on a set with Aykroyd and Murray and Steve Martin…
Will Moranis make a return to the limelight? After all, his kids are grown now.
I’m not interested in doing anything I’ve done in the past. In terms of being on camera, I have no idea. It’s not something I’ve given any thought to at all…
I have never had a plan, I’ve never had any forethought of anything I’ve ever done. I just kind of looked at opportunities, said no to most things and sometimes whatever was left standing was the thing that I went for and sometimes something came along that was so appealing I just jumped at it…
In the end, Moranis summed up his disappearance from acting quite well:
I’m a single parent and I just found that it was too difficult to manage raising my kids and doing the travelling involved in making movies. So I took a little bit of a break. And the little bit of a break turned into a longer break, and then I found that I really didn’t miss it.
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When I was at ConQuest in Kansas City this year, I met up with the head of the Harry Potter Alliance, Paul DeGeorge.
What’s the Harry Potter Alliance? Well funny you should ask. The HPA is a charitable organization created by Harry Potter fans. They take an outside-of-the-box approach to civic engagement by using parallels from the Harry Potter books to educate and mobilize people across the world. They focus on issues like literacy, equality, and human rights.
While it might have started in the Harry Potter fandom, these days people from all different corners of the geek world work with them on their projects. Most notably the Nerdfighters, fans of the Vlogbrothers channel on YouTube. (As some of you might remember, Amanda is a Nerdfighter).
What do they do specifically? Well, this last year alone, they:
It turns out that Paul is a fan of my books, so when they started the Apparating Library the first book included was the Name of the Wind.
Here’s the thing: they’ve been doing a lot of cool things, but enthusiasm can only get you so far. Eventually you need money to keep the wheels turning for a charity.
That means every year, the HPA runs an annual IndieGoGo where they give away cool perks in return for donations.
So when they asked me if I’d like to help this year, I threw this into the ring.
(My house on an average day.)
We gathered together a bunch of my previous writings into one place. Ancient blogs and columns that I wrote for the local paper back in the day. I tweaked and edited them. The fabulous Brett Hiorns did a bunch of new illustrations for it. And I added a bunch of footnotes to give historical context or make snarky comments about my past self’s writing style.
Topics include writing advice, the nature of love, and jokes about methadone and monkeys. Plus, you could read a story about a time I was nearly arrested. Who doesn’t want to do that?
It’s at the $20 tier, and all of that money will go to charity, since it’ll be a digital download that won’t cost them anything to ship out.
[Edit: Over on the donation page it says the booklet is 20 pages long, but I've added a bunch of stuff to it since then, so now it's closer to 30 pages.]
If you’re interested, and you want to help make the world a better place for everyone, feel free to head over to the campaign and contribute. It’s only running for 5 more days, and the perk won’t be available anywhere else anytime soon, so be sure to go grab yours.
The Wes Anderson Collection is the first in-depth overview of Anderson's filmography, guiding readers through his life and career. Previously unpublished photos, artwork, and ephemera complement a book-length conversation between Anderson and award-winning critic Matt Zoller Seitz. The interview and images are woven together in a meticulously designed book that captures the spirit of his films: melancholy and playful, wise and childish -- and thoroughly original.
Vulture has an excerpt of the chapter on The Royal Tenenbaums.
Q: Gene Hackman - it was always your dream for him to play Royal?
A: It was written for him against his wishes.
Q: I'm gathering he was not an easy person to get.
A: He was difficult to get.
Q: What were his hesitations? Did he ever tell you?
A: Yeah: no money. He's been doing movies for a long time, and he didn't want to work sixty days on a movie. I don't know the last time he had done a movie where he had to be there for the whole movie and the money was not good. There was no money. There were too many movie stars, and there was no way to pay. You can't pay a million dollars to each actor if you've got nine movie stars or whatever it is - that's half the budget of the movie. I mean, nobody's going to fund it anymore, so that means it's scale.
That's right, Gene Hackman (and probably the rest of them as well) worked for scale on The Royal Tenenbaums.
Anderson also talks about the scene in The Darjeeling Limited where they show everyone on the train:
books Matt Zoller Seitz movies The Royal Tenenbaums Wes Anderson
Q: When you turn to reveal the tiger, what is that, the other side of the train?
A: No, it's all one car. We gutted a car, and that is a fake forest that we built on the train, and it is a Jim Henson creature on our train car. The whole thing is one take, and I think because we did it that way, while we were doing it, we did feel this electricity, you know? There's tension in it because it's all real. Fake but real. I mean, that was the idea. The emotion of it, well -- there's nothing really happening in the scene, you know? They just kind of sit there, but it was a real thing that was happening. But I did at the time have this feeling like "I don't know."
Sadly, most infographics these days look like this, functioning as a cheap and easy way to gussy up numbers. But when done properly, infographics are very effective in communicating a lot of information in a short period of time and can help you see data in new ways. In The Best American Infographics 2013, Gareth Cook collects some of the best ones from over the past year. Wired has a look at some of the selections.
Tags: best of books design Gareth Cook infoviz maps
Today I found out that the first man to walk in space almost got stuck out there.
That lucky individual was Alexei Leonov, who was born in the Soviet Union on May 30, 1934. He was one of the twenty Soviet Air Force Pilots to be chosen for the first cosmonaut group. Originally, his historic walk was supposed to have happened on the Vostok 11 mission, but as that was cancelled; it was later performed on the Voskhod 2 mission instead. After eighteen long months of training for the event, Leonov was ready to become the first person to walk in space.
The Voskhod 2 launched on March 18, 1965. In addition to Leonov, Pavel Belyayev was on board to man the ship while Leonov attempted the space walk. It was the first trip into space for both of the crew members.
Once in orbit, Leonov strapped on an EVA (extra-vehicular activity) backpack to his spacesuit. It provided him with just 45 minutes of oxygen, which would allow him to breathe and keep cool; meanwhile, heat, moisture, and carbon dioxide would be vented into space via a relief valve.
Belyayev pressurized the inflatable airlock, which took seven minutes to fully inflate. Everything went smoothly at first and Leonov spent a total of 12 minutes and 9 seconds out on his space walk. He described the experience by saying he felt “like a seagull with its wings outstretched, soaring high above the Earth.”
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and he needed to get back inside the spacecraft before he ran out of air. But getting back inside proved to be a problem.
He maneuvered himself back to the airlock, but then realized that his suit had become incredibly stiff. Due to the lack of atmospheric pressure, it had bloated with oxygen. His feet and hands had pulled away from his boots and gloves, and he knew it was going to be incredibly difficult to get himself back into the ship safely.
There was only one way to do it: wriggle in head-first while bleeding off the oxygen in his suit.
I knew I might be risking oxygen starvation, but I had no choice. If I did not reenter the craft, within the next 40 minutes my life support would be spent anyway.
Leonov thought about contacting mission control about his predicament and let them know about the risky thing he was about to do, but decided not to. He knew that he was the only one who could do anything about the situation and he didn’t want to worry the people on the ground.
As he released oxygen and exerted himself, his suit began to heat up dangerously with his core body temperature rising 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.8 degrees Celsius), as he slowly clambered into the airlock inch by inch.
Once he was finally in, he had to let even more air out so he could curl his body around to close the hatch, which he eventually accomplished. At last with the hatch sealed, Belyayev was able to pressurize the airlock again and Leonov made it back inside the spacecraft after the heart-stopping few minutes of struggle.
On the ground, people had watched the very first spacewalk, though Leonov’s struggle to get back inside the spacecraft wasn’t televised. At the first sign of trouble, the transmissions shown on televisions on Earth “randomly” stopped with no explanation, with most assuming technical difficulties with the broadcast feed.
Leonov was thankful they didn’t show his re-enty, “My family was therefore spared the anxiety they would have had to endure had they known how close I came to being stranded in space.”
Unfortunately, this was only the start of the problems. Just five minutes before they were scheduled to begin re-entry, the crewmen discovered that the automatic guidance system wasn’t functioning. They would have to land the spacecraft manually and were also dangerously low on fuel to maneuver to boot.
To do the necessary maneuvers, Leonov stated:
Pasha began orienting the craft for reentry. This was no easy task—in order to use the optical device necessary for orientation, he had to lean horizontally across both seats in the spacecraft, while I held him steady in front of the orientation porthole. We then had to maneuver ourselves back into the correct positions in our seats very rapidly so that the spacecraft’s center of gravity was correct during the reentry burn.
The difficulty of the landing was compounded by politics. They had to land on Soviet soil; if they overshot and landed in China, which had very poor relations with Soviet Russia at the time, a potential international incident could have ensued. They also had to choose somewhere without many people. Thus, Leonov chose Perm, a sparsely populated area far from China. It seemed like a safe bet.
However, additional problems started as they entered the Earth’s atmosphere. The craft began spinning uncontrollably. Why? The orbital module was still attached to the landing module. The modules hadn’t fully detached when they were supposed to, due to a thick communication cable connecting the two.
Not only did it throw the landing location off significantly, but the two craft spun around one another, subjecting the cosmonauts to as high as 10 G’s of force. So much, that Lenov said that the “small blood vessels in our eyes burst”.
At around 62 miles high (100 km), the cable burned up and they were able to stabilize and land successfully… in two meters of snow in Solikamsk on the outskirts of frigid Siberia.
Upon attempting to open the hatch, they further had difficulty after the explosive bolts blew. Rather than the hatch opening, it was stuck shut:
Looking out of the window, we could see the hatch was jammed against a big birch tree. We had no alternative but to start rocking the hatch violently back and forth, trying to shift it clear of the tree. Then, using all his strength, Pasha managed to push the hatch away from the remains of the bolts, and it slid back and disappeared into the snow.
At this point, Leonov and Belyayev’s families were told that the two had landed safely and were resting before returning to Moscow. However, Soviet officials hadn’t picked up on the rescue signal, and had little idea where they’d landed or even if they were still alive.
Lucky for the cosmonauts, a cargo plane did pick up on the signal and the word of their location spread around. Initial attempts at rescue were made by civilian aircraft, with helicopter pilots and others throwing the two down supplies, including wolf skin boots and cognac. (Note: contrary to popular belief, drinking alcohol in such a situation would make hypothermia significantly more likely, rather than it heating your body.)
In the end, they ultimately had to spend the night in a place packed with wolves and bears during mating season- when they’re most aggressive- and where the temperature dropped to -22 degrees Fahrenheit (-30 C) according to Leonov. They also had no way to re-seal the landing module, so simply had to hunker down and endure the night.
The temperature problem was compounded by the fact that their suits had sweat sloshing around up to their ankles, along with being soaked through the inner layers.
We had to strip naked, take off our underwear, and wring the moisture out of it. We then had to pour out what liquid had accumulated in our spacesuits. We went on to separate the rigid part of the suit from its softer lining—nine layers of aluminum foil and a synthetic material called dederone—and then put the softer part of the suits back on over our underwear and pull our boots and gloves back on.
The next day, a rescue crew arrived traveling via skis, while another came a day later and chopped down trees, making a log cabin and a huge fire to keep the team and cosmonauts warm. They then all traveled nine kilometers by ski to a clearing where a helicopter was waiting for them.
Upon arriving in the town of Leninsk, they had one last duty: to report on their mission. Leonov said simply,
Provided with a special suit, man can survive and work in open space. Thank you for your attention.
He didn’t go into detail about his brush with death. It’s possible that he was told not to; details of the harrowing mission weren’t released until much later.
If you liked this article, you might also enjoy:
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The post The First Man To Walk In Space Almost Got Stuck Out There appeared first on Today I Found Out.
A 7-minute time lapse video of the European front line changes during World War II, from the invasion of Poland to (spoilers!) the surrender of Germany.
Surprising to me how much of the war involves no shifting front lines...the map view really emphasizes this in a way that other WWII narratives do not. (via open culture)Tags: maps time lapse war World War II
Smithsonian Mag goes way back to explain why we eat popcorn at the movies.
Tags: food movies
About 8,000 years ago, maize was cultivated from teosinte, a wild grass that doesn't look much like the modern corn we know today. Popcorn -- a name mostly associated with puffed kernels of corn -- is actually a strain of corn, characterized by especially starchy kernels with hard kernel walls, which help internal pressure build when placed over heat. It was one of the first variations of maize cultivated in Central America. "Popcorn went north and it went south, but as far as I can see, it really only survived in South America," says Andrew Smith, author of Popped Culture: A Social History of Popcorn. Eventually, trade and commerce brought the unique kernels northward. "Most likely, North American whalers went to Chile, found varieties of popcorn, picked them up and thought that they were cute, and brought them back to New England in the early 19th century," Smith explains.
Gordon Bowman is doing a Kickstarter to fund the publication of a book chronicling a journey his parents took shortly after meeting.
When my Dad was a boy growing up in the 1930's, he heard stories of the "Lost City of the Incas" that had been discovered deep in the Peruvian jungle. It must have made a lasting impression on him because in November 1959, he quit his job as a newspaper reporter, sold his car and bought a 150cc Lambretta scooter. He intended to ride it from his hometown of Thorold, in Ontario Canada, all the way down to Peru. As far as he knew, he would be the first person to ever attempt such a journey.
Steven Hawking came up with a simple and clever way of seeing if time travel is possible. On June 28, 2009, he threw a party for time travellers from the future...but didn't advertise it until after the party was already over.
In an effort to improve the chances of the party invite being noticed by future generations, Peter Dean, working with approval from Hawking, has made this gorgeous hand-printed poster of the party invitation:
There's also a smaller less-expensive version of the poster in grey and a fetching yellow/orange.Tags: design Peter Dean Stephen Hawking time time travel video
The NY Times on how Nacho Cheese Doritos are engineered to get people to eat as many of them as possible.
Despite the powerful tastes in Nacho Cheese, the Doritos formula balances them so well that no single flavor lingers in the mind after you've eaten a chip. This avoids what food scientists call "sensory specific satiety," or the feeling of fullness caused by a dominant flavor. Would you eat a whole bag of rosemary chips? With Doritos, you go back for more.
I rarely eat Doritos (and when I do, it's Cool Ranch), but my mouth was watering just from reading this.Tags: food
Today Day in History: October 2, 1950
The First Peanuts comic strip was published:
Peanuts, written by Charles Schulz and one of the most influential and beloved comic strips of all time, made its debut on this day in 1950 in nine different newspapers. What made Peanuts especially remarkable for its time was its astute social commentary, especially when compared to other strips running in the 50’s and early 60’s.
The subject of racial and women’s equality were not overtly addressed by Schulz in the strip; instead, he assumed these issues were already obvious to the reader in the first place. For example, Peppermint Patty’s athletic prowess and assertiveness is a given, just like Franklin attending a racially integrated school is.
Schulz wasn’t above aiming his sharp wit at any number of topics when he chose to though. Through the years, he took aim at the Vietnam War, the “new math,” and school dress codes. In 1963, he added a young lad named “5” to the cast of characters, who also had two sisters named “3” and “4”. Their dad had changed the family’s surname to their ZIP code to protest how numbers were overtaking people’s identities.
In another strip, Schulz took a jab at Little League and other forms of organized play. When all the other kids in the neighborhood join snowman-building leagues, they taunt Charlie Brown when he insists on building snowmen without official organizations or coaches.
Peanuts also drew upon religious themes on various occasions, most memorably during the 1965 holiday classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” when the blanket-clenching yet wise Linus Van Pelt quotes the King James Version of the Bible (Luke 2:8-14) to explain to a stressed-out Charlie Brown “what Christmas is all about.” (During interviews, Schulz would reveal that Linus was the character who represented his own spiritual side. Charlie Brown represented some of the more painful and awkward experiences of his growing up years.)
The strip (and its many commercial offshoots) enjoyed huge popularity right through the 1990s; but when Schulz was diagnosed with colon cancer, he was forced to retire, and the last original daily Peanuts strip was published on January 3, 2000. The strip was simply Snoopy sitting at his typewriter deep in thought with a note above him from Schulz that reads as follows:
I have been fortunate to draw Charlie Brown and his friends for almost fifty years. It has been the fulfillment of my childhood ambition. Unfortunately, I am no longer able to maintain the schedule demanded by a daily comic strip, My family does not wish Peanuts to be continued by anyone else, therefore I am announcing my retirement. I have been grateful over the years for the loyalty of our editors and the wonderful support and love expressed to me by fans of the comic strip. Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy…how can I ever forget them…
The daily strips had ended, but there still six more original Sunday Peanuts strips that had hadn’t been published yet. With a finality that seemed predestined, the last original Sunday Peanuts strip was published the day after Schulz death on February 12, 2000.
So, what is it about Peanuts that makes their popularity so enduring? Why are we drawn to a world where the baseball games are always lost, the tree always eats the kite, the grades are always D-, and the Great Pumpkin never shows? Perhaps because they never lose hope, and never stop trying. There’s always another chance to kick that football. They’ll always be another game, another kite, another test, another Halloween. Just wait ‘til next time! The characters in Peanuts may despair, but they never lose hope.
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In list form.
Richard Florida analyzes the growth of high- and low-wage jobs in metro areas across the country:
Taken together, these maps illustrate the underlying reality of America’s post-recession economy. The recovery — if we can call it that — has been driven largely by low-wage jobs. Nationwide, low-wage jobs have grown at a 6 percent clip, roughly double the rate for overall job growth (3.1 percent) and the growth rate in high-wage jobs (3 percent).
What’s worse, the geography of job growth is uneven. In major knowledge-economy centers like San Jose, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., high-wage jobs made up roughly half or more of all job growth. These places have also seen the creation of a large number of low-wage jobs as well. At the other end of the spectrum, there are many metros like St. Louis, New Orleans, Riverside and Rochester where low wage jobs have made up the bulk of new job creation. Even in Houston, the supposed center of America’s booming energy economy, growth in low-wage jobs has outpaced the metro’s overall employment gains.
Saletan registers the change in rhetoric:
This is a political fight, and it will end when the GOP decides to cut its losses. Speaking from the Rose Garden today, Obama signaled that he’s ready to bring the pain … [Obama repeatedly called] the standoff a “Republican shutdown.” That’s language he has never used before. His slam at “what the Republican Party stands for these days” was his broadest indictment of the GOP ever. He’s escalating the pressure on the entire party in a big way.
Waldman observes that the people gathered around Obama had pre-existing conditions and can now get insurance thanks to Obamacare:
Presidents (and other politicians) use the stories of ordinary people to illustrate political points all the time. What’s a little different here is that Obama is presenting these ordinary people as victims of his political opponents. He’s pointing to them and saying, Republicans are trying to hurt Jane here. They’re trying to stop her from getting insurance. It happens to be true. Is it going to be persuasive? It just might be.
Krokodil, a highly addictive designer drug that aggressively eats through flesh, has reportedly arrived in the United States. A Phoenix CBS affiliate revealed [last] week that two cases involving krokodil had been phoned into a local poison control center and quoted one of the center’s medical directors, Dr. Frank LoVecchio, saying he and his colleagues were “extremely frightened.”
Details of what the drug does to you:
Krokodil, technically known as Desomorphine, has a similar effect to heroin, but is significantly cheaper and easier to make. In the last few years, it’s been wreaking severe havoc on the bodies and lives of Russian youth. The drug earned its nickname—the Russian word for crocodile—because of the ghastly side effects it has on the human body. Wherever the drug is injected, the skin turns green and scaly, showing symptoms of gangrene. In severe cases, the skin rots away completely revealing the bone beneath. Other permanent effects of the drug include speech impediments and erratic movement. Rotting flesh, jerky movements, and speech troubles have prompted media outlets to tag krokodil the “zombie drug.”
According to Time, the average user of krokodil only lives two or three years, and “the few who manage to quit usually come away disfigured.” Quitting is its own nasty business. Heroin withdrawal symptoms last about a week; symptoms for krokodil withdrawal can last over a month.
Joshua Hammer pays homage to Albert Camus on the 100th anniversary of his birth:
For [scholar Alice] Kaplan and other admirers, Camus was, above all, a humanist, who believed in the sanctity of life, the folly of killing for an ideology and the urgency of peaceful coexistence. “There is a Camus for every stage of life,” says Kaplan, trying to explain Camus’ staying power and relevance today. “Adolescents can identify with the alienation of Meursault. The Plague is for when you’re in college, politically engaged and sympathetic with resistance.” The Fall, Camus’ 1956 novel about the crisis of conscience of a successful Parisian lawyer, “is for 50-year-olds. It is angry, acrimonious, confronting the worst things you know about yourself.” And The First Man, a beautifully rendered, unfinished autobiographical novel published posthumously in 1994, “is Camus’ Proustian moment, his looking back on his life. You can spend your whole life with Camus.”
(Photo of Camus in 1957 by Robert Edwards via Wikimedia Commons)
If we don’t clean up our space junk, we might be cut off from the rest of the universe:
NASA claims that more than 500,000 pieces of debris, ranging from the size of a marble to eight tons, are in orbit. These scattered fragments travel at speeds up to 17,500 miles per hour. In the forthcoming movie Gravity, a piece of satellite debris destroys a shuttle, but even much smaller objects such as chips of paint could damage a satellite, space station, or a spacecraft carrying astronauts. A 2009 study performed by all the major space agencies – including ESA, NASA, and Roscosmos – revealed that even if no further space launches occur, the amount of orbital debris will continue to increase. More than simply littering Earth’s low orbits, we would be hindering our ability to safely travel beyond it.
The European Space Agency’s Clean Space Initiative is working on a solution, but it won’t be an quick or easy:
The only way to preserve key orbits is to remove the debris, like picking up scraps of refuse blowing down a highway. … “It’s an extremely challenging mission,” says Luisa Innocenti, the head of the Clean Space Office. “Getting close to the debris is dangerous because you need to maneuver around the uncontrolled object.” This means developing a guidance and navigation control system where chasers stay close to the targeted debris. A capturing mechanism – a big net, a harpoon, a robotic arm, or a giant tentacle that, amid the stars, would clamp down on the object – would collect the debris and return it to Earth. The goal is to have a mission in 2022.
In a breakthrough for prosthetics, a Chicago team has developed a robotic leg that is wired directly to the patient’s brain, allowing him to control the mechanism with his thoughts alone:
To accomplish this, surgeons redirected the nerves that previously controlled some of the man’s lower-leg muscles so that they would cause muscles in his thigh to contract in a technique called targeted muscle reinnervation. They then used sensors embedded in the robotic leg to measure the electrical pulses created by both the reinnervated muscle contractions and the existing thigh muscles. When the surgeons combined this information with additional data from the sensors, the man was able to use the leg more accurately than when attempting to control the leg with its sensors alone, the scientists report. They hope that other people with missing limbs will be able to use the technology within the next three to five years.
Derek Mead looks ahead to the next likely innovation:
Integrating a prosthetic directly into a patient’s nervous system would seem to be the answer. Rather than learning how to use one’s robo hand, it could be controlled just as directly as your flesh-and-bone models. The concept has been proven before; research earlier this year showed that a paralyzed person could control robot limbs with her thoughts, but actually deploying it in a prosthetic—especially one as challenging as a lower leg—is even harder. So far, the proof of concept appears to be working (walking?) well, and [lead researcher Levi] Hargrove’s team hopes to have it ready for broader use within a few years.
Yuval Levin gives a course in the bleeding obvious to his fellow GOPers:
Republicans did not do nearly well enough in the last election to enact legislation that would repeal Obamacare. In order to repeal that law and attempt an effective reform of our health-care system along conservative lines, they will need to do better in the next election and the one to follow. To that end, they can take several kinds of steps with regard to Obamacare in the meantime: steps that would weaken the law (by highlighting its faults or disabling some of its elements) and ultimately make it easier to replace; steps that would weaken the law’s supporters (by further connecting them to the law in the public’s mind and forcing them to defend its least popular elements) and ultimately make them easier to replace; and steps that would strengthen the law’s opponents (by clearly identifying them as opponents of an unpopular measure and champions of a more appealing approach) and help them gain more public support.
In my view (shared with all who would listen to no avail, for what it’s worth) the original defund strategy was not well suited to doing any of these things.
The tone of this piece is its perfection. The studied civility when talking with complete fanatics, the careful reason when interacting with constitutional know-nothings … it’s like reading Ross Douthat, as the excruciating reality keeps surfacing that his party is a disgrace to the very idea of a political party, more extremist than any in the West save Hungary’s neo-fascists, unteachable and proud of it, a nub of Palin’s id quivering in its fervent frisson of pure vandalism.
If only one of the last remaining conservatives with brains would get it over with and simply scream at the top of their lungs what everyone else is thinking: “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MINDS?”
A reader writes:
Why is there not more coverage of the Hastert Rule? The speaker chooses to be bound by this rule – which explicitly makes compromise unwelcome – when a full majority of the House would be happy to pass the clean CR and move on. Boehner could lift the Hastert Rule and move the CR to the floor, where Democrats and many members of his own party would pass it. If he were challenged as Speaker, he could conceivably extract support from the Democrats – especially Democrats in safe districts – to support him against a Republican challenge as Speaker. Surely the Democrats would rather have Boehner than someone to his right? The Speaker is elected by the full House!
But Boehner lacks creativity and is trapped in a cage made from his own cowardice.
Another scenario from a reader:
What if John Boehner were a man of principle – well, let’s pretend – and when it came time to raise the debt ceiling and his very right-wing party members refused, he does the truly unexpected. Instead of giving up on the Hastert rule and having to have Democrats come to his rescue, fueling more right-wing scorn, what if he resigned?
That would allow the extreme right wing Tea Partiers to take the blame for the ramifications – whatever they might be – of not raising the debt ceiling. Who would they point their fingers at then? I’m assuming, of course, that there would be considerable fallout to going over the cliff, but most every reasonable person I have read expects some kind of negative impact on the economy. This might lance the boil that has infected the Republican Party for too long.
If he is so afraid that he won’t be re-elected Speaker that he is giving into demands that he knows are wrong – not just bad politics, but plain wrong – it might be the only way he could regain any sense of being a man with a conscience.
From that Costa interview we linked to earlier:
EK: This may be a bit of an odd question, but why does Boehner want to do his job like this under these circumstances? From the outside, it seems like a miserable existence.
RC: I think John Boehner is frustrated by leading the Republicans in the House but I think he very much loves being speaker. To understand him you have to understand that. He gets to the Capitol early. He relishes the job and the position but he doesn’t relish being at odds so often with his members. He loves being a major American political figure, but he’s not a Newt Gingrich-like figure trying to lead the party in a certain direction. He’s just trying to survive and enjoy it while it lasts.
(Photo from Getty)
Written as a first-person memoir, Consumed explores the experience of disordered eating — and the ways in which food both controls and expresses our messy lives.
When we meet our protagonist, she’s spoon-deep in a tub of peanut butter, trying to slather over her failed academic job, her sense of futility, and her family history.
And yet, like the peanut butter sticks to the roof of our mouths, we can’t escape our feelings, failures, nor fucked-up families. We have to swallow and digest them.
Bears! Guns! Hams thrown through walls! The best way to hide fishloaf! Learning what the hell fishloaf is!
Turd Soup! Getting high with dad! The cancer game! Explosive diarrhea! Communist sympathizers and possible Nazis!
All this and more! Consumed is a salty, chunky, gunky, spreadable, edible feed-trough of delicious, dysfunctional goodness!
Available in a PDF, perfect for lazy self-indulgent moments with your Kindle device or iPad. You’ll get regular and large-text version in one order, so even if you’re a four-eyes like me, you can enjoy this.
“Intense and well crafted writing.”
“Like a conversation with an entertaining drunk.”
Joan Walsh nods:
On the day the Affordable Care Act takes effect, the U.S. government is shut down, and it may be permanently broken. You’ll read lots of explanations for the dysfunction, but the simple truth is this: It’s the culmination of 50 years of evolving yet consistent Republican strategy to depict government as the enemy, an oppressor that works primarily as the protector of and provider for African-Americans, to the detriment of everyone else. The fact that everything came apart under our first African-American president wasn’t an accident, it was probably inevitable.
I’d say it came apart during the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the first sign of madness when the Democrats first truly wielded power after the Southern Strategy bore fruit under Reagan. Remember that Clinton was from the beginning regarded as illegitimate because he didn’t get more than 43 percent of the vote. Let us recall Bob Dole’s words after Clinton’s 1992 clear electoral college victory:
There isn’t any Clinton mandate. Fifty-seven percent didn’t vote for him. I’ll represent the 57 percent.
Or Tommy Thompson with an equally surreal view of the Constitution:
Only 43 percent of the people voted for Bill Clinton — that is not much of a mandate. . . . Republicans won nine legislative houses across the country. . . . Republicans have just as much of a mandate as the Democrats.
When you compare this with the Republican view of the 2000 election when George W Bush lost the popular vote and, undeterred by any sense of restraint, doubled down on massive unfunded tax cuts and pre-emptive wars along with budget-busting new entitlements, you get a better sense of who feels entitled to rule in this country, and who is routinely regarded as “illegitimate.”
Now, of course, this merely suggests that it is simply being Democrats that render the last two Democratic presidents inherently illegitimate – since only one was African-American. But remember how Clinton was regarded as “the first black president” by many, including those on the left? Remember his early days fighting for civil rights in Arkansas? You think a white Southerner overturning the success of the Southern Strategy would be deemed acceptable to the Southern right which increasingly dominated the GOP?
Nonetheless, Charles C. W. Cooke rightly notes:
Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George H. W. Bush, all of whom presided over fractious shutdowns, might find this insinuation rather perplexing. In the last 40 years, only President George W. Bush was spared such a conflict.
The one president whose legitimacy was actually in some actual doubt escaped the revolt entirely. Hmmm. Quod erat demonstrandum.
More to the point, the other shutdowns were not about demanding the repeal of an already-enacted, constitutionally-approved signature achievement of a re-elected president – only a few years after a massive financial crisis and during a global recession. They were bargaining positions in which both sides had something to offer and a compromise to reach. All the GOP has to offer this time is … shutting down the government. This is not negotiation; it’s blackmail. And blackmail after all the proper avenues for stopping, amending, delaying and reforming the health bill have been exhausted. I mean they repealed the bill 41 times already – proof positive that all constitutional means for opposition have been exhausted. That‘s what makes this different. It’s not about playing hard by the rules. It’s losing and throwing the board-game in the air and threatening the destruction of the US and global economy in consequence. It’s unbelievable.
But when I mention race, I should unpack my point. It’s not a simple one, and I do not mean to be glib or too casual in throwing that word around.
I’m talking about the difference between opposition to a president’s agenda and a belief that he is somehow an impostor, illegitimate, and a usurper for reasons that seem, in the end, to come down to racial and cultural panic.
Do I have to recount the endless accusations against Obama of such? No president has been subjected to endless litigation of his birth certificate or his religious faith (as if the latter mattered anyway). No president has been heckled in a State of the Union address with the words “You lie!” as Obama was. There was no claim that George W Bush was illegitimate because he muscled through a huge Medicare expansion as he was destroying this country’s fiscal standing having lost the popular vote to Al Gore. The Democrats didn’t threaten to shut the government down to stop anything he did. And no Republican, facing a major economic crisis, has received zero votes from the opposition in his first year. Both Bushes and Reagan won considerable Democratic support for tax cuts and tax hikes in their early years. The opposition accepted the legitimacy of the election. That’s the difference.
But Clinton was nonetheless regarded as illegitimate despite being what in any other era would be called a moderate Republican. Ditto Obama, whose stimulus and healthcare law were well within conservative policy consensus only a decade ago. I supported both presidents as a moderate small-c conservative (until Clinton revealed himself as sadly lacking the character not to self-implode). So I have long been puzzled not by legitimate opposition to various policies but by the frenzy of it. Call it the education of an English conservative in the long tortured history of American pseudo-conservatism.
In the end, I could only explain the foam-flecked frenzy of opposition to Clinton and Obama by the sense that the Civil Rights Revolution of the 1960s was the defining event for a certain generation, that the backlash to it was seen as a restoration of the right people running the country (i.e. no minorities with real clout), and that Clinton’s and even more Obama’s victories meant this narrative was revealed as an illusion. This is compounded by racial and cultural panic – against gays, immigrants, Muslims, Latinos etc – and cemented by a moronic, literalist, utterly politicized version of Christianity. This mindset – what I have called the “fundamentalist psyche” – is what is fueling the rage. It’s what fueled the belief that Romney was on the verge of a landslide. It is inherently irrational. It knows somewhere deep down that it is headed for defeat. But it will take down as much of the country, economy and constitution as it can while doing so.
For this time, as they surely know, Reconstruction will not be on their terms. They have no agenda because the multi-racial, multi-cultural, moderate-right country they live in is a refutation of their core identity. So race and culture fuel this – perhaps not explicitly or even consciously for some, but surely powerfully for many. And we are reaching a perilous moment as their cultural marginalization intensifies and their political defeat nears. After that, the rage could become truly destabilizing, unless some kind of establishment Republican leadership can learn to lead again. America and the world need to batten down the hatches.
(Photo: A homemade bumper sticker is seen on the back of a car during a Tea Party rally on September 4, 2011 in Concord, New Hampshire. By Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Scientists have discovered the source of a massive 13th century volcanic eruption: a volcano called Samalas on Indonesia's Lombok Island. The blast was eight times as powerful as Krakatoa.
Though the eruption was equatorial, its impact was felt and noted around the world. "The climate was disturbed for at least two years after the eruption," Lavigne said. Evidence of this was found in studies of tree rings that revealed abnormal growth rates, climate models, and historical records from as far afield as Europe."
Medieval chronicles, for example, describe the summer of 1258 as unseasonably cold, with poor harvests and incessant rains that triggered destructive floods -- a "year without a summer." The winter immediately following the eruption was warmer in western Europe, however, as would be expected from high-sulfur eruptions in the tropics. The team cites historical records from Arras (northern France) that speak of a winter so mild "that frost barely lasted for more than two days," and even in January 1258 "violets could be observed, and strawberries and apple trees were in blossom."
Note that at a volume of 40 km3 of debris, Samalas doesn't even come close to being on the list of the 40 most explosive volcanic eruptions in history, most of which happened millions of years ago. (via digg)Tags: science volcanoes
What if there were a new class of wonder drugs for children that prevented some of the worst diseases in history with very limited side effects...would you take them?
Some people don't "trust" that wacky "science" though.
What's so confounding is that many of the parents requesting exemptions for their children cite specious, disproven fears -- such as that the vaccine could cause autism -- many of which were based on a fraudulent, retracted study or fringe research published in non-peer-reviewed journals. And the rest of the country hasn't been as successful as Massachusetts in containing measles infections. Earlier this year, an intentionally unvaccinated 17-year-old from Brooklyn, New York, was infected with measles while on a trip to the United Kingdom. Because he lived in a community with a large number of other deliberately unvaccinated children, the virus quickly spread. By the time the outbreak was contained, 58 people had been infected -- making it the largest outbreak in the country in more than 15 years. Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 159 total cases between January and August, which puts 2013 on track to record the most domestic measles infections since the disease was declared eliminated from the United States in 2000.
Declared eliminated! [Hair-tearing-out noise]Tags: medicine science vaccines video