Shared posts

20 Jun 21:54

Edward Frenkel on whether Math is Invented or Discovered

by S. Abbas Raza

Video length: 5:38

19 Jun 22:33

Gov. Abbott signs bill reauthorizing the Railroad Commission

by Ryan Maye Handy
The Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s oil and gas regulator, has been reauthorized to operate for another 12 years, after a years long battle with legislators over how to reform the agency. On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1818, part of a state initiative to review and reauthorize agencies every 12 years. ...
19 Jun 22:28

Make: a gorgeous, dramatic Internet Kill Switch

by Cory Doctorow

Want to be really sure that your Internet of Things gadgets and laptops aren't being remotely controlled by malware? (more…)

19 Jun 22:24

An Eater’s Guide To Houston

by Amy McCarthy

Unofficial, highly-opinionated intel on Clutch City’s dining scene

In recent years, no city’s culinary profile has risen more quickly than Houston’s. Home to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon, and the birthplace of Beyonce, the biggest city in Texas is still one of the country’s most underrated dining destinations. Use this as a guide to the city’s unbelievably diverse, incredibly vibrant culinary culture.

Welcome to the Land of Oil and Money

A sprawling metropolis home to the most diverse population of citizens in the country, Houston’s culinary scene is truly unparalleled. Once only known as the land of oil barons and excessive humidity, James Beard Award-winning chefs like Chris Shepherd and Hugo Ortega have drawn eyes from across the country to Houston’s restaurants. Anthony Bourdain, David Chang, and reviewers at The New York Times have all joined the chorus of culinary experts extolling the virtues of Clutch City.

If you have a day to take a deep dive into the city’s restaurant scene, start off the morning at coffee nerd David Buehrer’s Morningstar Coffee & Donuts for excellent pastries and potent caffeination. For lunch, head to Montrose for Chef Hugo Ortega’s ceviches, intricately spiced mole dishes, and some of the city’s best margaritas.

Then, spend the afternoon driving down Bellaire Boulevard in Chinatown, stopping in at award-winning spots like Crawfish & Noodles and Mala Sichuan Bistro for a late second lunch. Pre-dinner cocktails at Anvil Bar & Refuge are an absolute must, as is dinner at Chris Shepherd’s Underbelly, which does a damn fine job of telling “the story of Houston food.”

Where to Start on Eater Houston’s Best Maps

As you may know, Eater Houston puts together comprehensive guides to the city's best food and drink — whether in search of Houston’s fried chicken, cocktails, burgers, or brunch. If starving and overwhelmed by the sheer number of options options, here are some top picks that are a solid bet every single time.

Hottest Restaurant: The hottest table in Houston right now is at Yauatcha, a Michelin-starred dim sum wonderland imported from London to Houston. Find shrimp shu mai, flaky venison puffs, and desserts that are as gorgeous as they are delicious inside a chic and buzzy space.

Essential Restaurant: Chef Chris Shepherd’s ode to H-Town, Underbelly is a favorite of celebrities, chefs, and regular folks alike. Shepherd’s Korean braised goat is an iconic Houston dish, but otherwise, let the chefs be your guide at this locally-obsessed spot that weaves together Houston’s diverse culinary influences.

Burgers: There is no shortage of burgers in Houston. Head to Lankford Grocery, a cash-only spot that serves up one of Space City’s spiciest burgers. If near the suburbs, get thee to Killen’s Burgers in Pearland for a ridiculously juicy brisket-chuck patty, or perhaps check out the classic double cheeseburger at Bernie’s Burger Bus in Houston proper.

Barbecue: It doesn’t have the prestige of Texas’ Hill Country, but Houston barbecue can certainly hold its own. The brisket, sausage, ribs, and more at spots like Gatlin’s, Killen’s, and Spring’s Corkscrew are all solid enough to satisfy a craving for smoke.

Killen's BBQ Kimberly Park
A meaty spread from Killen’s Barbecue
Pizza from Coltivare Coltivare
Oven-fired pie at Coltivare

Brunch: With warm weather most of the year, brunching is practically a sport in Houston. As such, there’s an abundance of cuisines and vibes that can satisfy any appetite. Hit Backstreet Cafe for a cozy atmosphere and even more comforting food, or line up with the hordes of Houstonians in front of Snooze for boozy cocktails and pancake flights.

Tex-Mex & Mexican: Obviously, Space City is no slouch in the Tex-Mex department. Ninfa’s on Navigation is a hallowed institution that recently underwent a revamp to keep up with the times. Gorge on fajitas and margaritas — and don’t forget the queso. For legit Mexican cuisine, head to James Beard Award winner Hugo Ortega’s namesake eatery Hugo’s, known for its housemade moles and killer seafood preparations.

Beer: The local beer scene has grown exponentially in Houston in recent years, which means that there are plenty of spots for drinkers to enjoy a local brew. Find a ridiculously well-selected list of brews (and excellent bar fare) at The Hay Merchant, or try Houston’s finest at Karbach Brewing or Saint Arnold.

Ice Cream: Whatever the time of year, it’s probably hot enough to eat ice cream in Houston. Honeychild’s Sweet Creams serves up some of the city’s most reliably delicious flavors, while Juice Girl serves up frozen treats that are suitable for vegans. For gelato, head to newly-opened shop Dolce Neve for inventive (and addictive) flavors like goat cheese & Texas pecan.

Pizza: Neopolitan, New York-style: whatever your pizza passion, Houston can satisfy. Enjoy a perfectly-fired pie in the garden at Coltivare, or hit up Anthony Calleo’s endlessly nerdy Pi Pizza for bizarre (yet delicious) pie toppings like blackberry and mint pesto.

Houston Food ‘Hoods to Know

 Stephanie A. Sellers/Shutterstock
Houston’s historic Heights

The Heights

Arguably the hottest dining neighborhood in Houston right now, the Heights is packed with excellent restaurants. Enjoy Italian fare straight from the garden at Coltivare, or head to Lee’s Fried Chicken & Donuts for fried dough and spicy “H-Town” yardbird. If it’s happy hour, check out Eight Row Flint’s massive patio, complete with plenty of booze (like barrel-aged whiskey and frozen gin and tonic) and tacos.

Urban Houstonian/Flickr


Home to some of Houston’s most well-known eateries, Montrose is a veritable dining paradise. Start the day with pastries from Common Bond and coffee from Blacksmith, then head to Hugo’s for enchiladas, ceviche, and (of course) margaritas at lunch. Before dinner, enjoy expertly-mixed martinis and Manhattans at the vaunted Anvil Bar & Refuge, then head into Chef Chris Shepherd’s world, whether through the Houston-obsessed cuisine at Underbelly, or at his brand new revolving concept spot One Fifth, which is currently a steakhouse. Later this summer, it will be transformed into a brand new restaurant inspired by Italy and France.


Business travelers flock to Houston’s Downtown for work, but there’s more in the city center than just power lunch destinations. For breakfast, The Breakfast Klub is a Beyoncé-approved Houston institution, and an excellent spot to score chicken & waffles for breakfast. When lunch rolls around, the Oaxacan fare at Chef Hugo Ortega’s Xochi is a must, as is a trip to Public Services Wine & Whiskey for a tipple of expensive brown liquor.

 River Oaks District/Facebook
The swanky River Oaks District

River Oaks

One of the ritzier notable dining ‘hoods, River Oaks is home to some of Houston’s flashiest eateries. Drop a big chunk of change on an even bigger hunk of meat at Steak 48, or belly up to the oyster bar at Chef Ford Fry’s State of Grace. In River Oaks and in need of something a little more casual? The patio at Backstreet Cafe is a perfect spot to park and work for a few hours. While browsing the shops, stop into Amorino Gelato for a flower-shaped frozen treat that tastes as good as it looks on Instagram.

 JB Manning/Shutterstock


It might be named after a shopping mall, but the food in Houston’s Galleria area is decidedly better than food court fare. Newly-opened dim sum restaurant Yauatcha is already attracting loyal crowds, and longstanding South African eatery Peli Peli is a unique local favorite. North Italia, an Arizona-based Italian eatery, is a favorite of frequent Houston visitor (and Grammy-winning rapper) Aubrey “Drake” Graham.

 Wikimedia Commons


More aptly described as “Asiatown,” this neighborhood along Bellaire Boulevard can pretty much satisfy any culinary itch. Dig into authentic Sichuan cuisine from James Beard-nominated chef Jianyun Ye at Mala Sichuan Bistro, or head to Crawfish & Noodles for spicy, garlicky Viet-Cajun crawfish. Thai, Japanese, Uyghur, Korean, and fusion options are also on offer, which means that it’s probably good to dedicate a full day to exploring everything Chinatown has to offer.

Houston Glossary of Terms

Vietnamese Iced Coffee — A potent blend of Vietnamese dark roast drip coffee and sweetened condensed milk. Houston’s favorite way to start the morning.

Kolache — A sweet pastry brought to Texas by Czech immigrants in the mid-1800s. Made with a yeast dough and filled in the center with jams, cream cheese, poppyseeds, and other sweet fillings, kolaches are essential Texas breakfast fare. The klobasnek, typically stuffed with sausage or ground meat, is the kolache’s savory cousin.

Viet-Cajun Crawfish — A fusion of two of Houston’s most prominent cuisines, Gulf Seafood and Vietnamese. Instead of the traditional crawfish boil, these mudbugs are tossed in ginger, lemongrass, garlic, and plenty of heat.

Chris Shepherd — James Beard Award-winning culinary mastermind behind Underbelly, The Hay Merchant, and One Fifth Steak. Obsessed with Houston.

Drive-Thru Daiquiris — An entirely legal way to carry a daiquiri in a moving vehicle. At these drive-thru establishments, frozen drinks are mixed with booze (sometimes liquor, sometimes wine) and served in a variety of legally-creative ways, like tape over the straw hole in the lid, or sealing in a plastic bag.

Stay In the Loop

Eater Houston is updated multiple times every weekday with breaking news stories (restaurant openings, closings, etc.), features, guides and more. Here are a few ways to stay in the loop:

• Bookmark the Eater Houston homepage. New stories will always show up near the top and flow down toward the bottom of the page as they get older, while important recent stories will stay pinned right at the top. Also, check out our big sister,, for national and international food news.

• Subscribe to our newsletter, which goes out every weekday evening and includes links to the day's top stories.

• Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates on new stories and more throughout the day.

Get in Touch

Have questions not answered here? Want to send in a tip or a complaint or just say hello? Here are some ways to get in touch with the Eater Houston staff:

• Email us at

• Send us a tip, which can be anonymous if you choose, at our tipline.

• Interact with us on Facebook or Twitter.

19 Jun 22:06

As Tropical Storm Bret Forms, Soon-to-Be Sister Cindy Threatens Gulf Coast

The National Weather Service on Monday named the low pressure system making its way toward the Gulf of Mexico: Bret. Forecasters expect the storm to hit the Gulf Coast of the United States between Houston and New Orleans on Wednesday. Bret is the second named storm of the 2017 hurricane...
08 Jun 22:14

NOAA to Move Away from Paper Charts

by Jonathan Crowe

The Baltimore Sun: “In a potential sea change for a nautical industry heavy on tradition, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s recent National Charting Plan suggested that, eventually, ‘the reduction or elimination of traditional paper nautical charts seems likely.'” (This is NOAA looking into the future, but note that private companies, rather than NOAA, already do the printing and distributing of paper charts; NOAA’s charts are, of course, available online and can be printed.) [WMS]

08 Jun 22:14

Facebook’s Disaster Maps

by Jonathan Crowe

Today Facebook announced disaster maps for use by relief organizations. Based on aggregated and anonymized user data, the maps of users’ location, movement and check-ins can, Facebook says, provide relief organizations with valuable information about where the need is greatest. At launch only the Red Cross, UNICEF and the World Food Programme will have access to the data; a process will be established to determine how it will be shared with others. [Engadget]

08 Jun 22:12

The new reality

by Matt Hall

In Calgary last week I heard the phrase "when the industry recovers" several times. Dean Potter even went so far as to say:

“Don’t believe anyone who says ‘It’s different this time’. It isn’t.”

He knows what he's talking about — the guy sold his company to Vermillion in 2014 for $427 million.

But I think he's dead wrong.

What's different this time?

A complete, or at least non-glacially-slow, recovery seems profoundly unlikely to me. We might possibly be through the 'everything burns to the ground' phase, but the frenzy of mergers and takeovers has barely started. That will take at least a couple of years. If and when any stability returns to operations, it seems highly probable that it will have these features:

  1. It will be focused on shale. (Look at the Permian Basin today.)
  2. It will need fewer geoscientists. (There are fewer geological risks.)
  3. It will be driven by data. (We have barely started on this.)
  4. It will end in another crash. (Hungry animals bolt their food.)

If you're a geoscientist and have never worked find-grained plays, I think the opportunities in front of you are going to be different from the ones you're used to. And by 'different', I mean 'scarcer'.

Where else can you look?

It may be time to think about a pivot, if you haven't already. (Pivot is lean-startup jargon for 'plan B' (or C). And I don't think it's a bad idea to think of yourself, or any business, as a start-up. Indeed, if you don't, you're headed for obsolescence.)

What would you pivot to? What's your plan B? If you think of petroleum geoscience as having a position in a matrix, think about our neighbours in that matrix. Industries are vertical; disciplines are horizontal.

Opportunities in neighbouring cells are probably within relatively easy reach. Think about:

  • Near surface: archaeology, UXO detection, engineering geophysics.
  • Geomatics, remote sensing, and geospatial analysis. Perhaps in mining or geothermal energy.
  • Stepping out of industry into education or government. People with applied knowledge have a lot to offer.
  • Making contacts in a new industry like finance or medicine. Tip: go to a conference. Talk to everyone you can find.

Think about your technical skills more broadly

I don't know where those new opportunities will come from, but I think it only takes a small shift in perspective to spot them. Think of your purpose, not your tasks. For example:

  • Many geophysicists are great quantitative scientists. If you know linear algebra or geostatistics and write code too, you have much sought-after skills in any industry.
  • Many geologists are great at spatial analysis. If you can wield geodatabases and GIS software like a wizard, you are a valuable asset to any industry.
  • Many engineers are great at project management and analytics. If you have broken out of Excel and can drive Spotfire or Tableau, you are gold in any industry.

If you forgot to keep your skills up to date and are locked into clicking buttons in Petrel, or making PowerPoint maps of the Cardium, or fiddling with charts in Excel, I'm not sure what to tell you. Everyone has those skills. You're yesterday's geoscientist and you don't have a second to lose. 

08 Jun 22:09

California solar company coming to Texas

by Ryan Maye Handy
The California-based solar panel company Sunrun has partnered with Think Energy, a retail electricity arm of the French power company Engie, to offer residential solar panel packages for Texas residents. Sunrun will offer solar panel systems for lease or purchase for Texas residents; the company will also help arrange a purchase through a loan program. ...
08 Jun 22:08

The Serpents Of Nagling- Granite Intrusions Into Greater Himalayan Sequence Metamorphics

by (Suvrat Kher)
Over chai, elders told us about large serpents invading their village. A curse, they said. Only the correct prayers and purification rituals saved them, forcing the serpents to retreat deep into the forest. Some serpents remain trapped in the rock faces near the village, which was renamed Nagling (Nag means cobra..or more generically serpent).

The picture below are the entombed serpents of Nagling (trekkers for scale).

Geologists recognize them to be granite dykes (intrusions cutting across host rock layering) and sills (intrusions parallel to host rock layering) intruding the high grade metamorphic rocks of the Greater Himalayan Sequence (GHS).

The GHS is a block of the Indian crust bounded between the Main Central Thrust (MCT) at the base and the South Tibetan Detachment System (STDS) at the top. It represents mid crustal material which was metamorphosed and then was extruded and exhumed during Himalayan orogeny between 25 million years ago to about 16 million years ago. These dates vary somewhat along the strike of the Himalaya. Thrusting along the MCT took place earlier in the western Himalaya. Eastern regions like the Sikkim Himalaya record younger dates for the movement of the MCT.

The grade of metamorphic varies within the GHS. The figure below is a schematic section of the Greater Himalayan Sequence. It is from a study on the nature of the MCT by Michael Searle and colleagues from the Nepal Himalaya and is a very useful guide to think about the internal structure of the GHS.

 Source: Searle et. al. 2008

From the base of the MCT the grade of metamorphism increases towards higher structural levels. This is recognized as an "inverted metamorphic gradient", since minerals that are formed at higher and higher temperatures and pressures are occurring at structurally higher and by implication apparently shallower levels of the crust. The inverted gradient is recognized by the successive appearance of  biotite, garnet, sillimanite and finally kyanite. The sillimanite-kyanite zone transitions into the zone of partial melting and granite intrusives. This is the zone where the crust experienced conditions that lead to the formation of in situ melts and their mobilization and intrusion into surrounding rock. Above this zone the grade of metamorphism reduces towards the STDS. In the figure, the granite intrusion zone is directly overlain by the STDS and the Tethyan sequence. However, there is variation in this theme across the Himalaya. In the Kumaon region where I was, the "melt zone" is overlain by a sequence of lower metamorphic grade phyllite rocks.

What caused this melting and production of granitic magma? Many geologist point to the STDS. They suggest that this zone of extentional faulting stretched and thinned the crust, resulting in " decompression-related anatexis". This means that when extentional faulting along the STDS and exhumation reduced the overburden on deeply buried hot rocks, the release in pressure resulted in the lowering of rock melting point. This led to a partial melting of the crust (anatexis). Other geologists disagree with this explanation. They point out that since decompression has a minor effect on melting the likely source rock compositions you would require unreasonably large amounts of denudation along the STDS.  Rather, they suggest that crustal thickening by the continued convergence of India with Asia elevated temperatures in the middle levels of the crust to a range where partial melting began. These melts then moved along weak planes and intruded the surrounding GHS above the sillimanite and kyanite grade gneisses. The main pulses of this magma generation took place between 24 million years and 19 million years ago.

Geologists estimate the temperatures of this melt zone to be around 650 deg C to 750 deg C, corresponding to a  burial depth of about 20-25 km. Yes, the GHS represents crust that has traveled from that depth to the Himalayan heights it now commands by a combination of thrust faulting and erosional unroofing i.e. the stripping away of shallower levels of the crust!

During one of my previous treks in the Kumaon region I had walked across the GHS from the base of the MCT to the sillimanite zone in the Goriganga valley from the town of Munsiari to village Paton. This time, one valley to the east,  we began our trek at village Nagling in the zone of  partially melting. All around us were rock faces intruded by sill complexes and dykes. The picture below shows multiple sills of granite cross cut by dykes.

High up from Nagling village towards Nagling Glacier I saw this granite dyke complex (outlined by red dotted lines ) cutting across metamorphic banding (black lines).

And in the stream near Nagling Glacier I came across this rounded stream boulder showing granite cross-cutting banded migmatitic gneiss.

We traveled north and  reached Duktu. Earlier, somewhere near the village of Baaling, we had crossed the zone of partial melting and were in the uppermost levels of the GHS made up of phyllite grade metamorphic rocks. The phyllites are not intruded by granite.

However, granite was present at Duktu too, but only in the Dhauliganga river bed. This river emerges from the Panchachuli Glacier. The Panchachuli ranges which fall lower in the GHS are made up of high grade gneiss intruded by granite.

As a result, the Dhauliganga river bed near Duktu village is choked with boulders of granite and migmatite rocks.

This is a very distinctive  biotite-tourmaline granite. The picture below shows blocks of granite with tabular black tourmaline.

Here is a picture of me looking intently at a block of GHS made up of a granite intruding in to a gneiss.

And another close up of light colored granite intruding dark grey banded gneiss and encircling and enclosing rafts of the metamorphic host rock (red arrows).

And finally, from the sheer rock faces near Nagling Glacier, one of my favorite examples of the granite intrusions. A near vertical dyke (red broken outline) cut and displaced by a fault (yellow broken lines). Metamorphic banding shown in black lines.

... Pleistocene-Holocene glacial deposits of the Panchachuli Glacier area.. coming up next!

08 Jun 22:07

Newswire: Nostalgia mining reaches perilous low with the return of Bubsy The Cat

by Matt Gerardi

We should have seen this coming after his first two games inexplicably showed up on Steam a few years ago, but Bubsy The Cat, one of gaming history’s most maligned mascots and the star of one of the worst games ever made, is making a comeback. Earlier today, it was announced that a brand new Bubsy game, subtitled The Woolies Strike Back, is in development and set to release this fall for PC and PlayStation 4. If the trailer is anything to go by, Bubsy is as detestable as ever: After being awakened from his nearly 20-year slumber, the first thing he does is make a joke about reality TV. Seriously.

The Woolies Strike Back looks to be a 2-D platformer in the vein of Bubsy’s 16-bit adventures, except with ugly 3-D models replacing the originals’ workmanlike sprites. It’s being developed by the German studio Black Forest ...

08 Jun 22:01

Enter The “Hall Of Frames”: A Collection Of Music’s Most Iconic Eyewear

by KC Ifeanyi

British eyewear and contacts brand Lenstore has compiled 40 of the most legendary frames from music’s biggest names.

WHAT: “Hall of Frames”

Read Full Story

08 Jun 22:01

Apple Uses Carl Sagan And Beautiful Images To Rebuke Trump’s Climate Policy

by Jeff Beer

In the wake of the U.S. pulling out of the Paris Accord, a new iPhone ad uses the famed astronomer’s book, “Pale Blue Dot” as a reminder of what’s at stake.

After President Trump decided to withdraw from the Paris Accord on climate change, many CEOs of major American companies voiced their disagreement with the decision, including GE’s Jeff Immelt, Tesla’s Elon Musk, Disney’s Bob Iger, and Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein. It also prompted Apple CEO Tim Cook to send a company-wide memo outlining his thoughts on the decision.

Read Full Story

08 Jun 21:57

John McCain Made No Sense at the Comey Hearing and Everyone Is Worried About Him

by Kaila Hale-Stern


It might be time for a vacation, Senator. Have you considered the lovely town of Retirement?

“Maverick” Republican John McCain, who had led a long and distinguished Senate career but will also be remembered for introducing Sarah Palin into national politics, seems like he needs a nap—or that he was just waking up for one.

As the last Senator to question ex-FBI director James Comey at the bombshell Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, McCain appeared confused, bordering on incoherent, and kept returning to the closed FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, which he conflated with the Russiagate shenanigans. At one point he called Comey “President Comey.”

Here’s a sampling of what McCain said to kick off his allotted question time: “In the case of Hillary Clinton, you made the statement that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to bring a suit against her, although it had been very careless in their behavior, but you did reach a conclusion in that case that it was not necessary to further pursue her. Yet at the same time, in the case of Mr. [Trump], you said that there was not enough information to make a conclusion. Tell me the difference between your conclusion as far as former secretary Clinton is concerned, and Mr. Trump.” (via WaPo)

If you have trouble tracking this, and get the impression that McCain is dangerously lost about the difference between Hillary Clinton’s email and Russian electoral intereference, you are not alone. Listen, I used to get pretty perfect reading comprehension scores and I’m having trouble making it through these transcripts.

To say the Internet took notice immediately is an understatement. Within seconds of McCain’s rambling start, my Twitter feed was full of people wondering after the Senator’s health.

Confusion at McCain’s line of questioning abounded, and continues: he’s currently the #2 trending topic on Twitter, after Comey himself.

His fellow Senators, and ex-Director Comey, appeared baffled as they struggled with McCain’s reasoning.

I don’t particularly feel bad for McCain, as his strange questions were clearly intended to direct attention back at the old standard GOP bogeywoman Hillary Clinton, and away from the serious investigations into Russian intereference with the election and possible collusion by Trump’s associates. The first words out of McCain’s mouth were “In the case of Hillary Clinton,” after all:

Even McCain later admitted that something was off about his questioning, though he attributes this to staying up too late watching the baseballs. It’s a bit odd that he’s trying to claim that his questions “went over people’s heads”—because they were too complex? Too profound?—and that he was too tired at the same time. Which one is it?


His office has further elaborated, making me wish someone on his staff had simply helped prepare the questions he wanted to ask earlier. Today’s hearing was the equivalent of political Superbowl, and everyone brought their A-game—this was no time for McCain’s odd fumbling.

The fact that McCain’s questions were so impenetrable as to demand an official explanation is worrisome. McCain isn’t even a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, but according to Time he was invited as an “ex-officio member” because he is chairman of the Armed Services Committee. As a senior ranking member of the Senate, McCain still wields a lot of power and influence at age 80—but not enough wherewithal to arrive prepared to the hearing of the century (so far).

John McCain is a man who has served his country well for decades, but as of late has failed to live up to any kind of “maverick” image once cultivated, issuing statements as mealy-mouthed as his questions today were whenever the GOP or Trump takes a dive off the deep-end. Previously he had expressed that he was “disappointed” with Trump’s firing of Comey, but you’d never know it from his bizarre performance today. Senator, we won’t blame you if you need a break.

(via Time, Washington Post, image: FOX)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

08 Jun 21:46

Security of America's healthcare system is on the brink of catastrophic collapse

by Cory Doctorow

The independent, Congressionally mandated Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force released its report last week, setting out their findings about the state of security in America's health technology (very, very, very bad) and their recommendations (basic commonsense cybersecurity 101). (more…)

08 Jun 21:46

Yes, That’s Me On the Cover of Scientific Experimental Disasters That Could Have Been Prevented Magazine


Look, I can see you glancing back and forth between myself and that glossy cover on the newsstand. Let me save you the time and $5.99. Yes, that’s me slathered in butter because I was trying to become so frictionless that I could slide on my belly all the way from my Harvard University laboratory to Yale. It was quite painful and the butter ended up attracting fire ants which stung me mercilessly. It was certainly a low point in my career, which is why I find it especially upsetting that it’s been immortalized by this infernal magazine.

What many people don’t know is that failure is a normal part of science. Sure, in retrospect genetically engineering a potato two stories tall in order to create a potato battery large enough to power every clock on campus wasn’t the most obvious way to create a renewable source of energy. But it’s definitely not my fault that a local fraternity stole the potato and immediately turned it into vodka.

And if we’re being honest here, what kind of person finds joy in reading about every single failure committed during a scientist’s career? When Ben Franklin was electrocuted by a bolt of lightning while performing his famous kite experiment, was he featured as a two-page spread followed by various opinion pieces, letters from the readers, and political cartoons? Of course not, so why did I get so much publicity the time I tried to disprove the existence of chemtrails by showing what a real mind control chemical would look like, only to accidentally turn the entire state of Virginia into mindless zombies.

Sadly, this would all be much more bearable if still had the respect of my peers. For the life of me I will never understand why Nobel Prize winning scientist Dr. James Watson, who helped discover the structure of DNA, decided to come out of his decade long retirement for the sole purpose of guest editing this specific issue of Scientific Experimental Disasters That Could Have Been Prevented. He even made a point of announcing that I was the first scientist to ever be inducted into the magazine’s hall of fame for my construction of a planet-sized palm leaf that would gently fan Earth in order to prevent global warming, but instead caused massive tidal waves and devastating hurricanes.

Look, I realize that print media is dying, and from what I’ve been told, just being mentioned on the cover of SEDTCHBP can increase sales by threefold. But there has to be a limit, right? Surely I’m not the only scientist who has ever designed hangover cure that uses Redwood Tree bark, but which turned out to be more addictive than cocaine and resulted in the tree’s extinction plus thousands of overdoses.

Then again, I guess I shouldn’t let this whole situation bother me. After all, once I finally create a race of super intelligent, super strong mutants to take care of America’s aging population, all of my past failures will be forgotten.

08 Jun 21:24

Your Feedback Emails Sound Too Harsh—Write This Instead

by Sara McCord—The Muse

How not to come off sounding mean, line by line.

Sometimes you have to write harsh emails. You need to share feedback with someone in a different office, or disagree with a stakeholder, or tell someone they messed up–and setting up a call or in-person meeting would be an overreaction (and risk making the situation an even bigger deal).

Read Full Story

08 Jun 21:23

Technology Will Erase Jobs—But Also Make Everything Cheap or Free

by Vanessa Bates Ramirez

At an event about how technology is shaping the future of money, it seems counterintuitive to talk about a future where technology has mostly done away with the need for money to live.

But that’s the future Peter Diamandis envisions.

At Singularity University’s Exponential Finance Summit in New York this week, Diamandis talked about the broad and specific trends he believes are leading to a demonetized world.

It’s no secret that technology is threatening to take away jobs. For all the talk about robots working alongside humans rather than replacing them altogether, automation’s higher efficiency, lower costs, and increasing capability mean eventually workers will be removed from the equation in many jobs.

No one wants to be replaced by a machine, but there’s a silver lining.

The counterbalance to technological unemployment, Diamandis said, is the demonetization of living—in other words, pretty much everything we need and do in our day-to-day lives is becoming radically cheaper, if not free, and technology’s making it happen.

The most obvious and tangible example of this phenomenon is, of course, the smartphone. 20 years ago, we had a bunch of different things that each performed a single function: a camera took pictures, a flashlight lit up the dark, a TV was for watching shows, a VCR played movies, a boom box played music, and so on and so forth.

Now we have all that and more in the palm of our hands. More significantly, though, we got most of it for far less than in the past. If, Diamandis said, you add up the cost of all that hardware 20 years ago, you’re looking at thousands of dollars—now reduced to a few hundred. Similarly, the average smartphone being microfinanced for $50 in developing nations holds millions of dollars’ worth of software.

Demonetization is the fourth of Diamandis’ six Ds of technological disruption, happening after digitization but before democratization. Taking money out of the equation for a given product or service is a key part of making that product or service available to everyone.

Below are just a few of the examples Diamandis gave of demonetization he sees across various industries.


If you don’t have a smartphone or computer, you can’t have your data collected—and companies want your data. They want it so badly that they’ll soon be giving smartphones away, specifically in the areas of the world where the vast majority of would-be consumers aren’t online yet.


We used to drive to Blockbuster and pay a few dollars to rent one movie. Now we can pay a low flat rate and watch as many movies and shows as we want each month. Or we can watch stuff for free; YouTube streams millions of hours of free video per day.


The poorest countries in the world are the sunniest countries in the world, and solar power is becoming cheaper than coal. That means ultra-cheap electricity in developing nations.


When you own a car you have to pay for fuel, parking, insurance, tolls, and maintenance—not to mention buying the car itself. On-demand ride apps like Lyft and Uber are changing the way people get around and making it cheaper for them to do so. Why pay all that money for your own car when there’s a service to get you from point A to point B at a fraction of the cost? Electric autonomous cars will disrupt transportation even more.


Self-driving cars will change the housing market by enabling people to commute from farther away more easily. Housing itself will get cheaper thanks to large-scale 3D printing.


The XPRIZE foundation recently launched its Global Learning XPRIZE. Participants are tasked with creating a software package that can take a group of illiterate kids to full literacy in 18 months. This sort of software will bring high-quality education to areas that currently lack it—and it will be delivered in kids’ native language, in a context that fits their culture, at little to no cost to them.


Of all the industries listed, healthcare is the one most urgently in need of demonetization in the US. It’s happening through AI-fueled diagnosis and personalization of care. Deep learning algorithms can now identify skin cancer as accurately as dermatologists can. IBM’s Watson was able to diagnose a rare form of leukemia that no physician could diagnose by analyzing data from 20 million other diagnoses. The Tricorder XPRIZE yielded a  system that can diagnose 12 different diseases and capture real-time vital signs using a smartphone and some add-ons. Genome sequencing will transition healthcare from being reactive to proactive, keeping people from getting sick in the first place.

“I view the world as rapidly demonetizing,” Diamandis said near the conclusion of his talk.

A world where life’s necessities are all cheap or free will be very different from the world we live in today. What will motivate people to work or be productive if they don’t need money for the basics? What kinds of new innovations will spring up from people for whom these resources used to be cost-prohibitive? How will social constructs built around wealth and class shift?

These are all questions we’ll need to contemplate as technology continues to demonetize our lives. As the old saying goes, the best things in life are free, and if Diamandis’ vision becomes reality, we’ll  have to figure out which of the free things in life are best.

Image Credit: Pond5

18 May 19:16

A brief history of goths

by David Pescovitz

Given my own penchant in the 1980s for black clothing, black eyeliner, and Bauhaus, I was delighted by Dan Adams's TED-Ed video "A brief history of goths."

And if you find yourself in that delightfully dark place, please enjoy these classics:

17 May 23:06

Blacknoise generates irritating ambient sounds

by Rob Beschizza

Blacknoise is the opposite of a white noise generator: you leave it running and it produces annoying, aggravating sounds that go right through you.
17 May 23:05

With Great Privilege Comes Great Responsibility, Jimmy Fallon

by Dan Van Winkle

Donald Trump getting hair ruffled by Jimmy Fallon

You know the moment we’re going to talk about here: when Jimmy Fallon ruffled Donald Trump’s hair and instantaneously cemented his place as an enabler of this whole mess. That was a long time ago now—and feels even longer—but there’s a rare news profile today (from the New York Times) that isn’t about what specific variety of “anxiety” drove a Trump supporter to vote for that man. No, it’s about the real victim of Donald Trump’s rise: Jimmy Fallon.

Not that the current political moment hasn’t been bad for Fallon. Criticism of Fallon’s late night hosting skills have often pointed to his shows, both Late Night and now The Tonight Show, being light on substance and heavy on celebrities doing goofy things. The way things have been going lately, there’s definitely a desire for more comedy with a stronger viewpoint on the world, and that certainly has left Fallon at a bit of a disadvantage as Stephen Colbert finally overcame their sizable ratings gap.

But that’s all relative, and it’s incredibly difficult to feel bad for Fallon, considering the massive platform he has to say whatever he wants to the world. He told the Times, ““I don’t want to be bullied into not being me, and not doing what I think is funny,” he said more defiantly. “Just because some people bash me on Twitter, it’s not going to change my humor or my show,” but no one’s asking for him to turn his entire show toward—except maybe executives at NBC, for all I know. There’s just plenty of room for a happy medium between that extreme and actively trying to be apolitical to the point that you might actually be doing harm.

There’s also something to be said for providing an accurate view of the world rather than trying to achieve some kind of false balance between two sides that aren’t equal—something everyone in the media struggles with on a daily basis. Years before we even knew any of this would happen, the BBC tried to teach its reporters not to make false “both sides of the issue” equivalences, because that’s not something we just invented because we don’t like Donald Trump. Objective reality is never going to line up with the midway point between two political philosophies. In many cases, right and wrong exist. A platform like The Tonight Show has the ability to shape people’s view of where the “center” actually is, and that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s just as political to falsely put two unequal “sides” on equal footing as to give too much credit to the one you already favor, even if it’s unintentional.

Fallon seems to be saying it was. He also told the Times, “I didn’t [ruffle Trump’s hair] to humanize him. I almost did it to minimize him. I didn’t think that would be a compliment: ‘He did the thing that we all wanted to do.'” At the time, that’s what I had assumed—that it was meant to follow in line with the storied history of mean-spirited jokes about Trump’s hair—but whether due to some super strength hair gel preventing the hair from getting messed up enough to drive the joke home, or due to Fallon’s demeanor not really coming across like he intended it to be a pointed moment, or due to the humanizing tone of the interview that preceded it, it certainly didn’t come off that way.

It’s especially difficult to feel bad for him, despite his assurance of, “If I let anyone down, it hurt my feelings that they didn’t like it. I got it,” because some of his reluctance to express an even modestly stronger point of view seems to be out of a fear that some people won’t like him—namely Trump voters, who he pointed out also watch The Tonight Show. “I’m a people pleaser,” he told the Times. “If there’s one bad thing on Twitter about me, it will make me upset. So, after this happened, I was devastated. I didn’t mean anything by it. I was just trying to have fun.”

Yeah, getting political is hard. Some people won’t like you. Some people will like you, and then you’ll f*ck up, and they won’t like you anymore, or at least maybe they’ll think a little less of you. That happened to Stephen Colbert recently. It happens to us, around here, all the time. (And we’re always trying to do better!)

But that’s a choice we all make, and just like you really can’t be truly apolitical, it’s not a choice between alienating people and making everyone like you. There’s no scenario under which everyone likes you. You just have to choose which people you’re willing to alienate, and though that choice is yours to make, you also have to live with the message it sends. It’s easier to understand someone less privileged than Fallon choosing the path of least resistance, but he has the opportunity to do more than that and is consciously turning it down. He’s clearly decided that he’s more concerned about staying in the good graces of Trump supporters than of those who’d vocally criticize them, and as long as that’s how he feels, some of that criticism is going to come his way, too.

(image: NBC)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

17 May 22:58

Newswire: Grizzly Bear announces new album Painted Ruins, international tour

by William Hughes

Less than a month after releasing its first song in more than five years, indie experimental outfit Grizzly Bear has announced its fifth studio album, Painted Ruins. To mark the occasion, the band dropped a new song today, debuting “Mourning Sound” on its YouTube page. Oddly chipper despite its title and dreamy vibe, it’s a welcome reminder of what we’ve been missing since Shields hit stores back in 2012.

The band also announced an international tour in support of the album, which arrives on August 18. The tour will kick off in October in Ireland, before making its way over to North America for an autumn-winter run of shows. You can see the full schedule below.

Grizzly Bear—Painted Ruins

  1. Wasted Acres
  2. Mourning Sound
  3. Four Cypresses
  4. Three Rings
  5. Losing All Sense
  6. Aquarian
  7. Cut-Out
  8. Glass Hillside
  9. Neighbors
  10. Systole
  11. Sky Took Hold

Painted Ruins Tour 2017

10/5—Vicar Street ...

17 May 20:55

The 10th Doctor and Rose Are Back in the TARDIS for More Doctor Who Adventures! - Allons-y!

by Dan Van Winkle

The Doctor Who 50th anniversary special wasn’t our last chance to get David Tennant and Billie Piper back together for some Doctor Who—and they’re finally going to actually acknowledge each other/give us actual Rose Tyler rather than The Moment” this time! Always and forever, we will appreciate how easy time travel shows make it to slip in any additional adventure writers can dream up.

The pair will kick off Volume Two of Big Finish’s Tenth Doctor Adventures series that previously brought Tennant’s incarnation of the Time Lord back together with Catherine Tate as Donna Noble. Not to be left out, Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri) will also return for the audio dramas, which will include three new stories. Executive producer Jason Haigh-Ellery said, “Getting David and Billie back together was definitely on my bucket list—two wonderful actors who created an era of Doctor Who which is so fondly remembered and brought a different aspect of the relationship between the Doctor and his companion to the fore—love, both platonic and unrequited. It’s great to have the Tenth Doctor and Rose back again!”

The three episodes are Infamy of the Zaross (by John Dorney), Sword of the Chevalier (by Guy Adams), and Cold Vengeance (by Matt Fitton). The first centers on an alien invasion of Earth that’s not what it seems, the second has the Doctor and Rose “arrive in Slough in 1791 and encounter Chevalier D’Eon, an enigmatic ex-spy who has lived their life as a woman,” and the third on a deep space asteroid where old Who villains, the Ice Warriors, are thawing out. All three episodes are coming in November, with preorders already open on Big Finish’s site—including a special edition set to really commemorate the moment.

(via Blastr, image: Big Finish)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

17 May 20:45

List: Unpleasant Thoughts You Had, and the Items You Purchased in Order to Stop Having Them


Unpleasant Thought: Even if war with North Korea is as imminent as the media would like you to imagine, and even if the sea levels are rising at an average rate of 1.8 mm per year, it’s probably still not okay that you don’t have any real retirement savings.

Object Purchased: Triple Cinnamon Cupcake, from the Sprinkles ATM.

- - -

Unpleasant Thought: Maybe you are just bound to repeat the patterns from your parents’ marriages regardless of when and whom you marry.

Object Purchased: Capri Blue Surf Spray Candle, from Anthropologie.

- - -

Unpleasant Thought: The Wedding Industrial Complex has been clouding your sense of what’s real and healthy and what’s imaginary and commercialized since birth.

Object Purchased: Sequined Pineapple Dish Towel, also from Anthropologie.

- - -

Unpleasant Thought: You are now almost positive you pronounced it “car-CEREAL state” when you were drunk at that dinner party and trying to sound smart, and everyone heard it. Everyone.

Object Purchased: Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Color Splash Lipstick, in Daiquiri, from Sephora.

- - -

Unpleasant Thought: There is no way of knowing if your new female acquaintance is being cold and competitive toward you or if your internalized misogyny is making you feel cold and competitive toward her, and being socialized all your life to expect indirect aggression from other women is causing you to project that feeling onto her actually lovely and well-intentioned words and behaviors, and there is ALSO no way of knowing how many potentially life-altering female friendships have been and will be lost to you forever in this way.

Object Purchased: Shroomami Warm Grain Bowl, from Sweetgreen.

- - -

Unpleasant Thought: You have not called your grandfather in 96 days, and you tell yourself it is because he’s always taking a nap but you know that really it is because you are so selfishly and childishly afraid of his death and your death and of death in general.

Object Purchased: Graceful Gardens Planner & Datebook, from The Paper Source.

- -

Unpleasant Thought: There is no afterlife.

Object Purchased: 2-for-1 flip flops, in Coral Pink and Fuschia Islands, from Old Navy.

- - -

Unpleasant Thought: You have wasted and squandered your many privileges.

Object Purchased: AIRism Stretch Cropped Pants, from Uniqlo.

- - -

Unpleasant Thought: There is no ethical consumption under capitalism.

Object Purchased: Sustainable Vegan Bracelet, Woven in Cambodia, from Bloomingdales

17 May 20:44

A Generation of Sociopaths – how Trump and other Baby Boomers ruined the world

by Azra Raza

Jane Smiley in The Guardian:

LmcThe day before I finished reading A Generation of Sociopaths, who should pop up to prove Bruce Cannon Gibney’s point, as if he had been paid to do so, but the notorious Joe Walsh (born 1961), former congressman and Obama denigrator. In answer to talkshow host Jimmy Kimmel’s plea for merciful health insurance, using his newborn son’s heart defect as an example, Walsh tweeted: “Sorry Jimmy Kimmel: your sad story doesn’t obligate me or anyone else to pay for somebody else’s health care.” Gibney’s essential point, thus proved, is that boomers are selfish to the core, among other failings, and as a boomer myself, I feel the “you got me” pain that we all ought to feel but so few of us do. Gibney is about my daughter’s age – born in the late 1970s – and admits that one of his parents is a boomer. He has a wry, amusing style (“As the Boomers became Washington’s most lethal invasive species … ”) and plenty of well parsed statistics to back him up. His essential point is that by refusing to make the most basic (and fairly minimal) sacrifices to manage infrastructure, address climate change and provide decent education and healthcare, the boomers have bequeathed their children a mess of daunting proportions. Through such government programmes as social security and other entitlements, they have run up huge debts that the US government cannot pay except by, eventually, soaking the young. One of his most affecting chapters is about how failing schools feed mostly African American youth into the huge for-profit prison system. Someday, they will get out. There will be no structures in place to employ or take care of them.

The boomers have made sure that they themselves will live long and prosper, but only at the expense of their offspring. That we are skating on thin ice is no solace: “Because the problems Boomers created, from entitlements on, grow not so much in linear as exponential terms, the crisis that feels distant today will, when it comes, seem to have arrived overnight.” As one who has been raging against the American right since the election of Ronald Reagan, as someone with plenty of boomer friends who have done the same, I would like to let myself off the hook, but Gibney points out that while “not all Boomers directly participated, almost all benefited; they are, as the law would have it, jointly and severally liable”.

More here.

17 May 20:37

Shell to offer at least 16 weeks maternity leave

by ryanhandy
  Royal Dutch Shell said Wednesday that beginning Jan. 1 it will offer at least 16 weeks paid maternity leave to its female employees worldwide. The policy will particularly boost benefits for employees in 45 countries where there are only limited paid or unpaid maternity leave benefits, such as in the United States. Shell also has ...
17 May 20:18

Read the Entire First Chapter of Charles Stross' New Laundry Files Novel, The Delirium Brief, Right Here

by Rob Bricken

Charles Stross’ Laundry Files is one of the best and best-loved scifi series running (and a personal favorite). His upcoming installment, The Delirium Brief, not only begins with the titular secret occult-protection organization being dragged into the public eye—spoiler: everyone is very upset—but brings back beloved…


17 May 20:11

White supremacy is everywhere: How do we fight a concept that has so thoroughly permeated our politics and culture?

by S. Abbas Raza

Anis Shivani in Salon:

Ku-klux-klan3-620x412In the first part of this series, I focused on some of the history of white supremacy, particularly its late 20th-century versions, which continue to have so much influence today upon the current alt-right movement. It’s important to understand this history — some of which enters into truly exotic terrain — to understand the continuity of ideas, and to realize that we are not facing anything really new in the current manifestation of white supremacy.

But there’s a more mundane side to white supremacy, which deserves to be studied with as much attention: the way in which white supremacy works in and through institutions that we otherwise think of as legitimate to the core, and even essential to the workings of liberal democracy. If we explore how this has occurred recently, then we can no longer push white supremacy aside as an ideology that can be prevented from infecting so-called “mainstream” institutions. I’m thinking primarily of political parties, but once we admit that white supremacy is a fundamental influence on how parties reinvent and calibrate themselves, then this necessarily sweeps the social organism as a whole into the indictment.

White supremacy implies a certain logic that is inimical to that of the Enlightenment (the foundation of modern democracy). It is no coincidence that much of contemporary white supremacy continues to focus on the Illuminati and Freemasons as the disseminators of “secular humanism” (i.e., the core values of the Enlightenment), or that conspiracy theory mines the same territory when it takes on “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” (attacked as a worldwide conspiracy to bring about godless materialism) or such obsessions as the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations and the rest of the institutions associated with the New World Order (largely meaning the forces of globalization). Against the Enlightenment, which is said to lead to the weakening of the nation as an embodiment of the pure idea of race, the white supremacist insists on separation of races as his natural right. Against mongrelization, the white supremacist desires purity.

More here.

15 May 16:32

Doctor Who Just Did One of Its Most Daring Episodes in Ages

by James Whitbrook

By its very nature, Doctor Who is a formulaic show. You’ve got the Doctor, you’ve got a companion, they go on an adventure, there’s a scary monster, they overcome it , and are back in the TARDIS in time to do it all over again. But its latest episode did something to twist that: it gave some major consequences to the…


08 May 19:50

EPA Dismisses Half the Scientists on Its Major Review Board

by msmash
An anonymous reader shares a report: A few weeks after the election, pro-Trump commentator Scottie Nell Hughes heralded the dawn of a new era when she declared, "There's no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts." In the age of Trump there's little need for people who've devoted their lives to studying scientific facts, and over the weekend the administration finally got around to dismissing some of them. According to the Washington Post, about half of the 18 members on the Environmental Protection Agency's Board of Scientific Counselors have been informed that their terms will not be renewed. The academics who sit on the board advise the EPA's scientific board on whether its research is sound. The academics usually serve two three-year stints, and they were told by Obama administration officials and career EPA staffers that they would stay on for another term. But on Friday some received emails from the agency informing them that their first three-year term was up and they would not be renominated. Republican members of Congress have complained for some time that the Board of Scientific Counselors, as well as the 47-member Science Advisory Board, just rubber-stamp new EPA regulations. A spokesman for EPA administrator Scott Pruitt confirmed that he's thinking of replacing the academics with industry experts (though the EPA is supposed to be regulating those companies). Gretchen Goldman, research director at the Center for Science and Democracy, expressed her disappointment and asked, "What's the scientific reason for removing these individuals from this EPA science review board? It is rare to see such a large scale dismissal even in a presidential transition. The EPA is treating this scientific advisory board like its members are political appointees when these committees are not political positions. The individuals on these boards are appointed based on scientific expertise not politics. This move by the EPA is inserting politics into science."

Share on Google+

Read more of this story at Slashdot.