In the beginning, legendary internet fact-finding site Snopes.com answered interesting yet mundane questions such as how microwaved water affects houseplants and whether Walt Disney was cryogenically frozen after his death. (He wasn’t.) After 9/11 changed America forever, Snopes became a go-to resource for truth on everything from Obama birther conspiracy theories to keeping the facts straight on Donald Trump. For Wired, Michelle Dean profiles Snopes co-founder David Mikkelson and uncovers how a messy divorce, as well as ownership and control squabbles, have threatened the site’s existence.
Then, on September 11, 2001, out of the clear blue sky, everything changed. The planes flew into the Twin Towers and crashed at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, and America turned, panicked, to the internet to try to explain those events to itself. “I posted the first of the September 11 articles just after midnight on September 12,” Barbara wrote to me. It was a post debunking the rumor that the 16th century astrologer Nostradamus had predicted the attacks. “I researched and wrote that first article only because I needed to do something other than just cry and feel helpless.” The tenor of their site was about to change.
Where once they had been conducting tests with marshmallows and houseplants, now they were debunking claims that there were 4,000 Israelis who worked in the World Trade Center who stayed home that fateful day. Traffic spiked. Suddenly the press, which had treated Snopes mostly as a curiosity, took real interest. The Mikkelsons found themselves doing newspaper interviews, appearing on television, talking about the lies Americans were telling themselves in the aftermath of the catastrophe….
David is a pretty unflappable guy, but he seemed surprised. “She certainly contributed a great deal to making it a successful business enterprise,” he said, stammering a bit. “We jointly founded Bardav.” But he told me he felt there was a distinction between the claim he alone made to the idea behind Snopes.com and the successful business partnership he was willing to allow that Barbara had participated in. I pointed out that until their divorce, Barbara’s name had often been associated with the site in the press—searches in newspaper archives reveal that until about 2010, she had given many interviews about Snopes, more than David had, and that was true even before Bardav’s founding in 2003 and the inauguration of Snopes as a business. David, evidently frustrated with this question, said, “Well, she was giving all the interviews because I was working a full-time job,” referring to his position at the HMO, “whereas she never worked at all throughout the entirety of our marriage.” But then he seemed to regret this outburst, and backtracked. “I would not in any way try to slight her or say that she was not responsible for a good deal of success of the site,” he said.
The problem is that David’s telling of the Snopes story does seem to slight his wife. However meticulous he might be in fact-checking the errors of others, there is always this slippage in his account of his own success, an insistence that he did it by himself. It’s not a slippage that has any bearing on his dispute with Proper Media, or the contractual matters at issue there. Mikkelson went through a bad divorce and emerged from it, as it seems to me people often do, with a blind spot. It’s one we all have, to one degree or another, to fail to see the obvious when it comes to ourselves. It just stands out with David because he has spent his career being so scrupulous about facts.
The Congressional GOP leadership and Trump have made several attempts to repeal and replace (or even just replace) the Affordable Care Act. They've failed to accomplish either one, but they just try and force another attempt through within a few weeks of the last one in a transparent effort to put it through until it passes.
I was under the impression that the last attempt that died in the Senate had blocked further repeal attempts, at least until 2018, but then Graham-Cassidy happened. I don't completely understand the process here.
How often can they edit and revive the proposed repeal, and is there any point where they will have to give up, at least for a while? Can a bill simply be thrown at Congress repeatedly until it passes, and if there are limits what loopholes are the GOP using to do this?
Michael Friedman (wiki / obit) is probably best known for the pop-punk Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (2010), a "rowdy political carnival" that portrayed the life and times of America's seventh president in terms that now seem remarkably prescient. (See the rousing anthem "Populism, Yea Yea" which includes lyrics like, "And we're gonna take this country back for people like us, who don't just think about things." Or Jackson complaining, "Why don't you just shoot me in the head / 'cause you know I'd be better off dead / if there's really no place in America / for a celebrity of the first rank.").
He also was a founding member of The Civilians, a downtown company that coined the term "investigative theater." One such example was Pretty Filthy, a behind-the-scenes look at the porn industry based on interviews with porn producers and performers. In this New York Times clip, Friedman and star Luba Mason perform "Beautiful" from Pretty Filthy. In "Becky & Bobby & Taylor & Dick" two performers (Becky and Bobby) ponder the influence and intrustion of their pornstar personas (Taylor and Dick) on their off-camera relationship.
Last year, Friedman worked on a piece that musicalized the thoughts of primary voters from across the United States during election season. "I definitely believe in the politics of music and theatre and popular art," said Freidman. "I certainly think they are a conduit. Art is what survives from protest movements." The song "Undocumented" from that project takes its lyrics verbatim from a conversation with an undocumented immigrant in Dallas.
* * *
Many remembering Friedman point to his 2012 TEDxEast talk, The Song Makes A Space, in which he walked the audience through the process of writing a song for theatre.
Friedman's colleague and musical theatre historian Jennifer Ashley Tepper wrote this reflection of Friedman on Facebook (public post):
There is no way I can write anything on social media that can communicate with justice the horrible loss of Michael Friedman. Also Michael Friedman hated social media and would have made fun of me for trying. ... During act one of the show I saw tonight I suddenly started crying when I remembered a conversation I had with Michael this year. He was upset that there were still situations where people would avoid saying that an artist specifically died of HIV/AIDS. We were walking up 8th Avenue and he roared "No one should erase that! People have to know!"And one for the road: How To Come Back, a cut song from Bloody Bloody... ("They say there are no second acts in American lives, just second mortgages and second wives. They thought that they could return one day, trailing clouds of glory, but they couldn't remember the way.")
Michael Friedman died of HIV/AIDS. He was 41. It was 2017. [more]
Ingrown pubic hair is one of those things you never want to see together in a sentence, but it’s also common, even if no one talks about it. This video by Stuff Mom Never Told You explains how it happens, and what to do about it.
The directions, which came via cell phone, were a little garbled, but as you understood them: "Turn left at the 3rd light and go straight; the restaurant will be on your right side." Ten minutes ago you made the turn. Still no restaurant in sight. How far will you be willing to drive in the same direction? Research suggests that it depends on your initial level of confidence after getting the directions. Did you hear them right? Did you turn at the 3rd light? Could you have driven past the restaurant? Is it possible the directions are incorrect? Human brains are constantly processing data to make statistical assessments that translate into the feeling we call confidence, according to a study published today in Neuron. This feeling of confidence is central to decision making, and, despite ample evidence of human fallibility, the subjective feeling relies on objective calculations. "The feeling ultimately relies on the same statistical computations a computer would make," says Professor Adam Kepecs, a neuroscientist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) and lead author of the new study. "People often focus on the situations where confidence is divorced from reality," he says. "But if confidence were always error-prone, what would be its function? If we didn't have the ability to optimally assess confidence, we'd routinely find ourselves driving around for hours in this scenario." Calculating confidence for a statistician involves looking at a set of data—perhaps a sampling of marbles pulled from a bag—and making a conclusion about the entire bag based on that sample. "The feeling of confidence and the objective calculation are related intuitively," says Kepecs. "But how much so?"
In experiments with human subjects, Kepecs and colleagues therefore tried to control for different factors that can vary from person to person. The aim was to establish what evidence contributed to each decision. In this way they could compare people's reports of confidence with the optimal statistical answer. "If we can quantify the evidence that informs a person's decision, then we can ask how well a statistical algorithm performs on the same evidence," says Kepecs. He and graduate student Joshua Sanders created video games to compare human and computer performance. They had human volunteers listen to streams of clicking sounds and determine which clicks were faster. Participants rated confidence in each choice on a scale of one (a random guess) to five (high confidence). What Kepecs and his colleagues found was that human responses were similar to statistical calculations. The brain produces feelings of confidence that inform decisions the same way statistics pulls patterns out of noisy data.
When an emotion can be more powerful in curbing impulsiveness than thoughts.
Part I identifies the health risks of sugar consumption. Part II examines the reasons why sugar is added to so much of our food supply. Part III provides an overview of tobacco regulation, including educational initiatives, warning labels, advertising restrictions, age limitations, and taxes. Finally, Part IV provides a framework for sugar regulation, suggesting that most of the foregoing laws designed to discourage tobacco use should, with the exception of age restrictions and with appropriate modifications, be applied to products with large quantities of added sugar.21 Part IV also suggests regulatory changes within the FDA to remove sugar's classification as a substance that is "generally recognized as safe (GRAS)."22
In addition to looking solely at sugar, Part IV also takes a broader look at how food policy can shift to improve the overall food supply in ways that enhance consumer choice,and proposes the appointment of an Independent National Director of Food, who would have sufficient authority to help neutralize the impact that the food lobby has on food supply.
My main photographic interests are landscapes and night skies. I've had reasonable success using the 18mm zoom lens for both subjects but I'm interested in what results I could achieve with a new lens.
Astrophotography samples (1, 2)
Landscape samples (1, 2, 3)
On paper the 16mm lens should be a winner for both landscapes (wide angle) and astrophotography (wide angle and fast). For landscape its well reviewed across a number of sites however with astrophotography it seems to suffer from coma when shooting full open.
Alternatively, does it make more sense to spend some extra money and get dedicated lenses? The Fujifilm XF 10-24mm/f4 for landscape photos and the Rokinon 12mm/f2 for astro photos?
This is why the Drudge Report poll matters: In a bad year for polls, this online vote keeps demonstrating Trump fervor
Healthy foods can paradoxically lead to weight gain.
» Continue reading: Lose Weight By Recognising This Mental Bias
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Early in graduate school, I still believed literature could save us, so I clung to a narrative device that seemed to promise deliverance: focalization. It’s not an especially sexy term; it means that an author writes from the perspective of one character, rather than from narrative omniscience—narrowing the reader’s focus to one person’s purportedly more subjective worldview.
Today, while jailbreaking my dad's phone, I found out the hard way that it's jam-packed full of my mom's nudes. FML
This has been going on for a couple of weeks. Prior to that, I happily only had one browser open during the day. What am I doing wrong?
This remains true even though firefox was just reloaded to my computer by an IT professional.
Aside from my Netflix marathons, there are only a handful of network television shows that I make time to actually watch. And the new Fox prime time show Empire is one of them. Like so many great shows, it includes moments of fantasy, joy, and struggle that oftentimes mirror very real social issues that are on the forefront of their viewers’ minds.
For instance, the season two premiere opened with a #FreeLucious concert that paid homage to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and highlighted the overrepresented numbers of African-American men in our prison systems and their mistreatment by police. The imagery (particularly that of Cookie Lyon in a Gorilla suit and caged) and discourse used within that opening scene speaks to broader national issues. As highlighted by Gene Demby at NPR, however, these narratives are not common within prime time television.In his write-up on the season premiere, Demby discusses the ways that Empire inverts the trope of the police and U.S. justice systems as mostly heroes. Demby argues that Empire is able to divert from the aforementioned narrative due to the writers who are creating these new types of stories and its overwhelming African-American viewership. He raises the question as to how Empire’s opening scene would have been different if it was marketed to a more white, middle-aged, and male audience.
This divide in the types of stories that people prefer to watch is reflected in our own national understandings of American culture, history, government, and judicial systems, for instance.
A recent article from NPR highlights the ways that White and Black-Americans differ on issues of race relations in the U.S. The article draws on data collected for the PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll that corresponds with PBS NewsHour’s town hall meeting “After Charleston” special, moderated by Gwen Ifill. The poll showed that within the U.S., African Americans and Whites view race relations as worsening over the past year. Given the recent police shootings and hate crimes against African Americans, we may be in agreement with this assessment. At the same time, however, the poll also shows that Blacks and Whites disagree – both locally and nationally – on issues of economic equality and social justice.
Some of these findings include:
- 48% of Whites think race-relations have not changed locally and believe this to be a good thing, while 74% of African-Americans also believe that race relations have not changed locally and believe this is a bad thing.
- 52% of Whites agree that African-Americans and Whites have equal access to jobs; 72% of African-Americans disagree.
- 52% of Whites agree that both groups have equal access to achieve a middle-class lifestyle; 60% of Blacks disagree.
- 50% of White respondents agree that there is currently equal justice under the Law while 87% of African-Americans disagree.
- The #BlackLivesMatter movement focuses on “real issues of racial discrimination”: 59% of Whites think it distracts from those issues, and 65% of African-Americans agree that it highlights those issues.
These numbers are similar to a 2013 study conducted by the Pew Research Center on racial equality.
How is it that residents of the same country can have such disparate views on national issues? We know that much of this stems from the varied social realities that communities of color experience as compared to their white peers.
Does this mean that poor white individuals and families don’t struggle? Or that police officers don’t discriminate (based on class) against poor white men? Or that poor white men and women don’t have ready access to quality education or healthcare? Of course not.
We do, however, live in a system that privileges white bodies and whiteness. This does not negate the very real personal struggles that individuals encounter. But it does mean that non-white peoples experience systems of oppression that operate beyond an individual level.
For instance, drawing from U.S. 2010 Census data, we know that people of color are overrepresented in prisons and are more likely to have experiences with the criminal justice system than white individuals.
One might take a “culture of poverty” or a “ghetto culture” stance and argue that Black and Latin@ culture are the driving forces behind the destruction of both communities and peoples of color. These types of arguments ignore the ways that communities of color (particularly Black, Latin@, and Native-American) are actively excluded from housing, credit, jobs, education, healthcare, voting, and other important resources.
According to a study by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, Black, Latin@, and Native-American children are suspended and expelled at higher rates than white children. They also receive less advanced academic training and courses, and are more likely to attend schools with first-year teachers.
Sociologist Devah Pager shows that the presence of a criminal record is much more restrictive for Blacks than Whites. In her study, Pager hired a group of young college men to apply for entry-level jobs. She made sure to find men who had similar physical characteristics and interpersonal styles. Although these were college students, the men posed as solely being high-school educated with little work experience.
For the study, Pager sent the men in pairs (two white and two black) to apply for entry-level positions. Their resumes and job applications were identical, yet in each pair one of the men would indicate that he had a drug felony conviction and spent time in prison. Among her major findings, she found that Black men with no criminal records were less likely to be hired than a White man with a criminal conviction.
In addition, a study by the Economic Policy Institute shows that austerity policies and governmental shutdowns in the United States have disproportionately affected women and African Americans. This is largely because governmental agencies are more likely to hire women and African Americans than the private sector.
Culture plays a major role in framing our values, beliefs, and traditions. As the above studies show, however, culture alone does not account for the vast inequities within the U.S.
Given these numbers, how is it that White Americans differ in their opinion on racial equality from Black Americans and Latin@s?
This partly flows from white racial segregation. The Atlantic article, “Self-Segregation: Why It’s So Hard for Whites to Understand Ferguson,” notes that for the most part, White Americans live and play in spaces that have few social problems, and mostly interact with other White people. As the article mentions, 75% of Whites navigate spaces that a fully (100%) white.
Conversely, African-Americans and Latin@s navigate social spaces that exhibit higher levels of social problems and tend to interact with a more heterogeneous group of individuals: 65% of Blacks interact only with other Blacks, and 45% of Latin@s only interact with other Latin@s. This social, cultural, and physical segregation along with dominant stereotypes of communities and individuals of color, can negatively influence how White Americans both view and understand racial issues within the U.S.
As a nation, we have built systems that overwhelmingly disenfranchise communities of color, women, and the poor. These policies, structures, and history continue to frame national issues such as racial equity. The way we understand and perpetuate these histories, policies, and structures is framed by where we live, who we interact with, and the images that we see.
Why do you think these perceptions vary so widely? Do shows like the enormously popular Empire have the ability transform perceptions or highlight national issues?
As the furor over Martin Shkreli's 5000x price-hike of Daraprim continues (previously), people are doing something about it.
Imprimis, a compounding pharmacy, has stepped in to fill the gap by offering the AIDS drug for $99/100 pills and has spun off a division to start doing the same for other sole-source FDA-approved generics.
"This is not the first time a sole supply generic drug – especially one that has been approved for use as long as Daraprim – has had its price increased suddenly and to a level that may make it unaffordable."-- Mark Baum, Imprimis CEO
For example, I got him to paint our living room recently. He did an amazing job on two walls, but couldn't bring himself to finish the last 5% of the third wall because of minor flaws in the border, just shut down and refused to talk about the project, didn't care about getting paid if it meant not having to fix the flaws.
I would have him do data entry for my work, but it becomes emotionally complicated because he would be working directly for me and when we've done that before, it turned toxic when I corrected mistakes, vs when he was working for someone else (school, other relatives) and I corrected mistakes because then I was an ally, not someone judging him.
He has been in and out of therapy to deal with this, and we have a supportive school system that helps him, but when it comes to work/chores, he gets overwhelmed easily and needs projects with lots of structure and encouragement and non-personal feedback. He will not and cannot currently cope with applying for parttime/casual work outside home.
He can talk to people by text and email, but not on the phone for more than 1-2 sentences. He's polite and follows instructions. He likes cooking, drawing, crafts, computer games, reading, and animals. He is responsible and neat.
We refuse to pay for babysitting his siblings or regular chores around the house, and he's maxed out on the regular stuff already. I'm willing to subsidize/supplement and help him in a job/project, but both of us want him to be doing something meaningful.
A big art project would be fine - great actually. It doesn't have to be work that's commercially paid. It has to be something productive. Ideas?
“How we act around teachers.” (vine by Thomas Sanders)
antorbitalfenestrae:me in 2013: debating the nuances of whether or not a certain piece of media is...
me in 2013: debating the nuances of whether or not a certain piece of media is Problematic, compiling a list of ideologically pure and liberal things to consume
me now: sitting naked in a bog and holding a silver chalice full of mud
Let's just be honest with ourselves: of course people gossip about us [...] This month's One Big Question is what do you want people to say about you after you've left the room, because it's a way for our deepest insecurities to mingle with our private aspirations and come up with something honest and hopeful, and quite possibly, true.
Got a piece of wood furniture that’s all scratched and beat up? Fear not. Olive oil and vinegar can rescue it from that sad state.
The emails appear to come from a legitimate multinational company with a hefty Wikipedia page and concerns some kind of application submitted using an old email address that was forwarded to my main account. The email also states that it may take a few days to verify the application and seems to be of a wholesaler/retailer nature.
Is this just an routine phishing thing? A scam? Should I go and change the password/cancel application since I have the password? Ignore it? Report it using the Gmail report tools?
If it matters, the email address could possibly be someone's name, so it might be that old google mix-up that pops up here occasionally. Also, I have not been compromised by any known hack, either online or like the Target hack.
(I'm not sure if it's a good idea to name the company, but it sells a legal product that you inhale that is not pot.)