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Recently, I became the first person in the history of Ars Technica to have a gold—rather than black—user name.
How did I get this blinged-out honor? I bought it for the low, low price of 500 Arscoins—the latest digital cryptocurrency to hit the Internet. Arscoin is one of around 100 or so "altcoins," or alternative bitcoins, derived from the same source code as the original cryptocurrency.
The existing Bitcoin community has an inherent distrust of many altcoins. Bitcoin forums are replete with discussions of “pump and dump” scams, where the originators of a new altcoin might “pre-mine” coins, release their currency to the general public, and market their hot new cryptocurrency hard in order to drive the price up. Then the creators simply sell off their coins at a profit and walk away. It’s one of the oldest financial tricks in the book.
do the hipster bands that I like and the non-hipster bands that I like cancel each other out?
Determining which music is the “most hipster” has long been plagued by ambiguous methodology, such as reading the comments on any single article ever posted about any band ever. While that can lead you to the safe, blanket conclusion that the mere act of listening to recorded sound is incredibly “hipster,” figuring out which sounds are the most hipster has traditionally eluded us, causing endless debate—a pursuit that is itself ironically “hipster.” But now the data-miners at Priceonomics have devised a mathematical formula to help you determine which bands are the most egregious examples of that vaguely applied term, so you can more easily avoid them and get back to listening to non-hipster sounds, like fire trucks.
The Hipster Music Index plots bands along two of the most crucial hipster points besides haircuts: critical acclaim and obscurity. The first factor was determined by its review from Pitchfork; the second ...
Pope Francis reaffirmed the Catholic Church's opposition to gay marriage on Wednesday, but suggested in a newspaper interview that it could support some types of civil unions.
The Pope reiterated the church's longstanding teaching that "marriage is between a man and a woman." However, he said, "We have to look at different cases and evaluate them in their variety."
Am I being overly hopeful, or is this huge news? In the past, civil unions have seemed to represent the first tentative step toward acceptance for gay marriage opponents. Catholic bishops have supported civil unions, but this marks the first time a Pope has ever expressed support for the idea. Civil unions are separate-but-equal bullshit, but for the Catholic Church, this seems like a big step in the right direction if Francis actually holds true to his word.
they make nests from moss <3
Eastern Phoebe, photo courtesy of Jeremiah Trimble
Eastern Phoebes continue to nest under the bridge at Auburn Lake.
The Eastern Phoebe is the first flycatcher to arrive in the northeast in the spring. It is even likely that when the first Phoebe shows up at MountAuburn there may still be ice on the ponds and snow on the ground. The Phoebe’s song is a two-note rendition of its name, an emphatic pheee-bee or a shorter and softer sweedEE. The Phoebe is not outstanding in plumage but is very active; constantly wagging its tail as it sits upright on usually a very conspicuous perch and occasionally sallies out to snatch insects on the wing.
It was formally known as the Bridge Pewee, the Phoebe insists on having a roof over its nest be it a bridge, a porch, or even a window sill. It also will nest on rock out cropping or anywhere providing a roof. William Brewster writes in his Birds of the Cambridge Region (Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological Club, 1906) that as recently as 1898 Mr. Walter Deane observed a pair which had a nest on the timbers of a bridge that spans one of the ponds at the Cemetery. Mr. Brewster would be pleased that even now, Eastern Phoebes continue to nest under the bridge at Auburn Lake.
shared for firehose to judge
[Photos: Liz Clayton]
For those who didn't get their fill of Mardi Gras, or perhaps overfilled, a tall glass of chicory coffee may be just the thematic antidote. At Serious Drinks we've been eager to document chicory coffee's legacy. But far from the French Quarter, in the outer boroughs of New York City, you'll find a coffee shop slinging a different twist on the classic combination.
Sweetleaf Coffee, with shops in both Brooklyn and Queens, offers a beverage they call "Rocket Fuel"—a chicory and cold-brew coffee based drink that recalls its predecessors at Cafe du Monde and Blue Bottle. Yet unlike Cafe du Monde's woody, canned blend or Blue Bottle's intensely viscous, almost boozy brew base, Rocket Fuel's a crisp yet rich take on the Louisiana tradition. Its intense, creamy, bakers-chocolate notes—tempered with maple syrup but no taste of maple—wash over the sharpness of nutty chicory—the perfect accelerant to the day after Mardi Gras...or any sluggish afternoon.
We crashed the party at Williamsburg, Brooklyn's Sweetleaf outpost to get some step-by-step tips on this drink from barista Nikita Flavius-Gottschalk.
You'll make a cold-brew iced coffee, using basic cold brewing principles—only this time, you're adding chicory.
The team at Sweetleaf suggests selecting a coffee that's well-suited to the nutty, woody tones of chicory. "You don't want floral and berry notes in your Rocket Fuel," advises Flavius-Gottschalk. Sweetleaf uses a balanced, rich coffee as their base, like Stumptown's Hairbender blend, while the company gets its feet on the ground roasting its own Sweetleaf brand coffee. Measure out a 1:3 ratio of chicory to coffee—darn right, that's a lot of chicory! ("We had a huge crisis last summer when all the distributors in the New York area were out of chicory," said Flavius-Gottschalk. Hopefully that won't happen to you.)
Coffee should be ground to a filter drip setting: Sweetleaf's team of careful measurers prefers the coffee extract very slowly alongside the chicory, so while some prefer a coarser grind for cold brew, they err towards the finer. Think of a texture more towards coarse salt or cornmeal, rather than the coarser, near-French press grind often advised for cold brewing. Mix the chicory and coffee together before adding to the large container you'll fill with water.
Standard cold brew ratios are 1 part coffee to 4.5 parts water. Rocket Fuel is a little more demanding, so 1 part coffee/chicory mix you'll use 6 times that in water. Add the coffee and chicory mixture to the water, and stir completely. Leave the brew to do its work at room temperature, and in 12 to 18 hours time, filter the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve or cloth—twice if you can. Flavius-Gottschalk says you can expect about a gallon of concentrated Rocket Fuel base to result from the slow-brew.
Now that you've got your base, you're ready to make cups of Rocket Fuel.
As with Blue Bottle's New Orleans drip, the next stage after cold brewing is to add a sweetener. Sweetleaf uses Grade B maple syrup to provide the dark and earthy base sweetener for this drink. Add syrup to taste—approximately one tablespoons for every four ounces of cold-brew concentrate.
Add your dairy or substitute now—whole milk will be creamiest, but whatever you like the most—in equal proportion to the coffee concentrate. "Milk is the last to go in," says Flavius-Gottschalk, "in case you want an alternative. We want everyone to have rocket fuel." Plus, pouring in the milk last over ice yields a cascading, dairy waterfall effect that will make your eyes glaze over happily like a sleepy animal.
The final result? A creamy yet brisk drink of intriguing flavors, with the cold-brew coffee enveloped in the full, round, and slightly bittersweet taste of chicory. Bon temps? Why the heck not.
About the author: Liz Clayton drinks, photographs and writes about coffee and tea all over the world, though she pretends to live in Brooklyn, New York. She is the creator of Nice Coffee Time, a book of photographs of the best coffee in the world, published by Presspop, is the New York City correspondent for Sprudge.com, and contributes to other outfits worldwide.
If you want to eat at a conveyor belt sushi (回転寿司 or "kaiten zushi") restaurant, kids in Japan need to have their parents take them. Not anymore! Soon, they'll be able get aboard the sushi train at home.
via multitask suicide
The Encyclopaedia Britannica has begun to refer to Hong Kong as Xianggang, the Modern Standard Mandarin (MSM) pronunciation of the name.
The above screen shot is from the Facebook group "Hong Kong & China NOT the SAME 中港大不同". Needless to say, not only are the people of Hong Kong unamused by this attempt on the part of the EB editors to please the Beijing government, they are quite upset.
For a Hong Konger, the top line in Chinese (see above) registers as "Has Hong Kong become soeng1 gaan1?!". The last two characters, 傷姦 (pronounced shāng jiān in Modern Standard Mandarin [MSM]), literally mean "injure-rape", but are here being used to transcribe in Cantonese the MSM pronunciation of 香港 ("Fragrant Harbor"), viz., Xiānggǎng. In Cantonese, 香港 would be pronounced Hoeng1gong2, whence our "Hong Kong".
As another example of the rapidly encroaching Mandarinization of Hong Kong, a while back the new Cantonese opera complex was referred to as "xìqǔ" 戲曲, using the MSM Pinyin spelling of its name instead of Cantonese romanization hei3 kuk1, in English texts written about it. The name for Cantonese opera is actually jyut6 kek6 粵劇 (MSM yuèjù).
The imposition of MSM terms and pronunciations over local language preferences is being carried out aggressively throughout China, not just in Hong Kong. For example, in Xinjiang, Kashgar, by central government fiat, has become 喀 什 Kāshí and Ürümchi has become Wūlǔmùqí 乌 鲁木齐.
The changes in Tibet are even more drastic. The Chinese insist on calling the place Xīzàng 西藏 ("West Zàng") instead of Tibet, by some form of which it is known to much of the world. Xīzàng is a relatively new place name, having been coined only in the late 18th-early 19th century. Literally, zàng 藏 means "storehouse; depository; (Buddhist / Taoist) canon"), but in the name Xīzàng 西藏 ("West Zàng") refers to a traditional province in western and central Tibet. I suppose, but am by no means certain of this, that zàng 藏 in this transcriptional sense may be linked to the name of an ancient Tibeto-Burman people called Qiang (sometimes referred to as proto-Tibetans).
The Tibetans themselves call their country Bod བོད་ (transliterated as Bhö or Phö and pronounced [pʰøʔ]) or related terms based upon it. For instance, when referring to Greater Tibet — all the Tibetan-speaking areas collectively, which range far beyond the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) of the People's Republic of China (PRC) — one would say Bod-chen-po. Historically, from around 1698 at least, there does seem to have been a sense of a greater Tibet (Bod-chen), which appears to have mapped more to the spread of Gelukpa (Yellow Hat sect) monasteries than to any other feature.
In addition to the TAR, there are also Tibetan-speaking populations in the PRC provinces of Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunnan, which would be included in Khams and Amdo in traditional usage.
This is a grossly simplified account of the names for Tibet across time and space. For a detailed discussion of the historical and linguistic evidence concerning a whole range of names for Tibet in different languages, see this excellent Wikipedia article.
[Thanks to Bob Bauer, Matthew Kapstein, Robbie Barnett, Gray Tuttle, and Patricia Schiaffini]
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear says his state will hire outside counsel to appeal a federal judge's order to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages.
The governor's announcement follows word from the state's attorney general, Jack Conway, that his office will not pursue such an appeal.
Both men are Democrats.
After Conway said Tuesday that appealing the court order would mean "defending discrimination," Beshear issued a statement that read, in part:
"The question of whether state constitutional provisions prohibiting same sex marriage violate the U.S. Constitution is being litigated across the country. Here in Kentucky, Judge Heyburn has ruled that Kentucky's constitutional provision does so to the extent that same sex marriages legally performed elsewhere are not recognized in Kentucky. Judge Heyburn also currently has under consideration the broader question of whether Kentucky's provision prohibiting same sex marriage in Kentucky violates the U.S. Constitution, and I anticipate that decision in the near future.
"Both of these issues, as well as similar issues being litigated in other parts of the country, will be and should be ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in order to bring finality and certainty to this matter. The people of this country need to know what the rules will be going forward. Kentucky should be a part of this process."
There's the potential, Beshear added, for "legal chaos" as other lawsuits are filed in both state and federal courts. "I understand and respect the deep and strong emotions and sincere beliefs of Kentuckians on both sides of this issue," he wrote, "but all Kentuckians deserve an orderly process that will bring certainty and finality to this important matter."
According to NPR member station WFPL, the split between Conway and Beshear "is part of an ongoing divide among [Kentucky] Democrats, which reflects urban and rural differences across the state ... as much as ideological ones." The station adds that:
"Conway and Beshear's decisions cannot be divorced from the larger political calculus. In next year's gubernatorial race Conway is a rumored candidate and Beshear's son is seeking to succeed Conway for attorney general."
The senior Beshear is prohibited by Kentucky's constitution from seeking a third consecutive term.
I didn't see this movie, but I was sad that he didn't win
In Twelve Years A Slave, Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northup, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.
Here's something of another victory for new media over old media.
The New York Times on Tuesday corrected a 161-year-old report about the enslavement of Solomon Northup, after a Twitter user pointed out that the story had twice misspelled Northup's name — including in the headline.
The error was noticed, it would seem, after a sharp-eyed reader came across this PDF of the Times' Jan. 20, 1853, report about Northup.
The newspaper says today in its correction that:
"An article on Jan. 20, 1853, recounting the story of Solomon Northup, whose memoir '12 Years a Slave' became a movie 160 years later that won the best picture Oscar at the 86th Academy Awards on Sunday night, misspelled his surname as Northrop. And the headline misspelled it as Northrup. The errors came to light on Monday after a Twitter user pointed out the article in The Times archives. (The errors notwithstanding, The Times described the article as 'a more complete and authentic record than has yet appeared.')"
This is the second decision in recent months by a newspaper to correct an error made long ago. Last November, as we reported, The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., retracted an editorial written in November 1863 that had panned President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
Jane Elizabeth Lazarz has added a photo to the pool:
watchdog Images (Olympus E5 - E3 pics) has added a photo to the pool:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
snooker2009 has added a photo to the pool:
"I don't like ideological interpretations, this type of mythology of Pope Francis," the pope told Corriere. "If I'm not mistaken, Sigmund Freud said that in every idealization there's an aggression. Depicting the pope as a sort of Superman, a star, is offensive to me.
"The pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps calmly and has friends like everyone else. A normal person."
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis finds the hype that is increasingly surrounding him "offensive," according to an interview published Wednesday, even as the Vatican itself is marking the anniversary of his election with commemorative stamps and coins and a DVD with never-before-seen footage of the pope.Read More →
Half of Americans believe that the U.S. Constitution gives gays and lesbians the right to marry, according to a new poll.Read More →
'So who exactly can embody the normcore aesthetic? Duncan suggests that it’s all about being nondescript and blending in with others, but isn’t it easy to differentiate between who is normcore and who is, well… normal? She mentions the “cool kids” and “downtown chicks” she spots in their fleece bodywarmers, which suggests to me that there is at least something which marks them as part of this trend. In the same way that a middle-class mum can turn up at parent-teacher evening at her kid’s school in sweatpants but a working-class parent can’t for fear of being judged “sloppy,” normcore is for the privileged few who can be identified as cool regardless of what they’re wearing. As Kristen Iversen points out: “The truth is that some people don’t need to worry about their identities because their status is secure.”'
As a disabled person who wears leg braces and uses a wheelchair, finding clothes I can even wear has always been a challenge.
Trousers and shoes are the worst. My clothes shopping experience usually involves a lot of sighing at the endless rails of skinny jeans, leggings and high heels before returning home to search for boyfriend jeans on eBay (to pair with Ugg boots on days when my feet can’t handle any other shoes, naturally). Anything to stop me having to spend every day in sweatpants. Wide-legged trousers are always a welcome change, but don’t get me started on harem pants or those deceptive dropped-crotch trousers that were popular a couple of years ago. Sure, they fit over my braces, but at what cost? Accidentally cosplaying as a member of X-Factor-era One Direction?
As I grew up, I began to think that standing out can be a wonderful thing, that having an awkward or different looking body opens up all manner of possibilities of challenging what a “normal” or “natural” body should look like. I started dressing in bolder clothes. Clothes that helped tell the world who I was, clothes that challenged the stereotype of disabled people as a pitiful, unattractive, sexless homogeneous mass. It made me feel great. After all, clothes are supposed to be fun, right?
It turns out I needn’t have bothered. The latest on-trend, anti-trend trendy trend is here, and it’s called normcore, coming soon to your local independent vegan cafe. The tagline: Normal, the New Different! (or something.)
Normcore, as Fiona Duncan puts it in NY Mag, is a “self-aware, stylized blandness.” It’s Uniqlo windbreakers, unbranded sweatpants and nondescript running shoes. “Embracing sameness” is postured as a way of freeing yourself from the tyranny of a world where looks are everything. Normcore offers “a blank slate and an open mind” to those who swap their skinny jeans for straight up dad-jeans.
“Brilliant,” you might think. “No more try-hard posturing and letting our clothes do the talking.” Normcore is an equalizer.
The only problem? Not all bodies are created equal. Or, to be more precise, not all bodies are not valued equally. To approach the situation in any other way is bullshit.
What passes for a self-aware rejection of fashion on one person will be seen in a completely different way on another body. I think back to activist Eddie Ndopu’s brilliant article on what clothing means to him as a self-described “black queer crip,” and how he uses fashion as a way of challenging ableist assumptions of disabled people’s place in the world. As he puts it: “Sweats and clothes labeled ‘frumpy’ engender pity. And that is why I refuse to wear them in public.” Normcore may be one form of resistance, but dressing to the nines is his.
So who exactly can embody the normcore aesthetic? Duncan suggests that it’s all about being nondescript and blending in with others, but isn’t it easy to differentiate between who is normcore and who is, well… normal? She mentions the “cool kids” and “downtown chicks” she spots in their fleece bodywarmers, which suggests to me that there is at least something which marks them as part of this trend. In the same way that a middle-class mum can turn up at parent-teacher evening at her kid’s school in sweatpants but a working-class parent can’t for fear of being judged “sloppy,” normcore is for the privileged few who can be identified as cool regardless of what they’re wearing. As Kristen Iversen points out: “The truth is that some people don’t need to worry about their identities because their status is secure.”
In a way, normcore reminds me of the whole “natural beauty” thing in that, just as there’s nothing really natural about that, there’s nothing really normal about normcore. Both privilege a certain look, a sort of cultivated invisibility. A whole lot of work can go into a fresh faced makeup-less look, and the normcore look is deliberately stylized. It is this self-awareness that makes it ultimately another way of excluding people. It’s loaded with the same bullshit presumptions as the phrases “growing old gracefully” or “real women.” Nothing exists in a vacuum, and when we think of these buzz words, we think of a certain type of person, one that adheres to certain standards — of beauty, age, race, gender, ability and social standing.
Blending in is a privilege only available to a few. Not being judged for your appearance is reserved for fewer yet. The “look of nothing” is never going to be available to those who are marked as “other” because the world has already placed identifiable markers on us. Controlling the way we look, even embracing the fact that we stand out, is a way of challenging this.
I couldn’t blend in no matter how hard I tried, and although it’s taken a long time and a lot of work, I’m grateful for that. But just as I’ve finally embraced the fact that I’ll never be “normal,” it becomes the next trend to aspire to.
No thanks, I think I’ll stay weird.
(Photos courtesy of Urbantimes.com, Manufactured1987, La Modella Mafia, various online retailers)
Spending my night ruining the free world
Early signs suggest that US president Barack Obama’s health care overhaul is driving the cost of healthcare lower, according to Goldman Sachs analysts, spotlighting yesterday’s data on consumer spending and prices.
“Cuts to Medicare payments that were used to finance some of the new benefits under the law have resulted in significant slowing in the health-related components of the PCE price index,” wrote Goldman analysts in a note to clients.
They note that the decrease in January health care prices is related to cuts to Medicare, the US program of health care for the elderly, which were made in the Affordable Care Act in order to pay for coverage of the uninsured:
Rather than reducing the quantity of services provided, the law mandates a smaller annual increase in the prices Medicare pays for services. This increase happens once a year in January or October, there should be little additional effect on the change in prices from the ACA for the next several months, though we expect the effect on the level of prices to persist.
While the Obamacare overhaul remains controversial in the US, budget geeks are nearly unanimous in spotlighting runaway health care costs as a long-term driver of the US national debt. And cross-country comparisons show that US health care spending is clearly out of line with international norms.
In other words, early indications that the Affordable Care Act is starting to control health care inflation is a good thing.
I love reading bad reviews of classic books on Amazon and Goodreads
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
I came across this image this morning over on Old House Gardens’ page about forcing bulbs. I’ve never seen such wonderful forcing pots and I would love to find something as charming as that hedgehog crocus pot for some late winter fun (but I’d be thrilled to have any of them!).
A quick eBay search turned up absolutely nothing. Has anyone ever seen something like this? Know a source? Or perhaps you know someone who is making modern day versions? Do share – I would be so grateful.
image from Old House Gardens — originally sourced from Peter Henderson Catalog NYC, 1900.