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A common task made easier

A common task made easier

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Over 700 Jefferson County High School students are staging walkouts and protests over proposed changes to the Advanced Placement History curriculum. According to Colorado Public Radio:

Last week, a school board member proposed that advanced placement history classes be required to promote free enterprise and patriotism and be required to avoid classroom materials that encourage social strife or civil disobedience. Two high schools in Jefferson County closed Friday after dozens of teachers called in sick in protest.

According the online petition to be delivered to the School District:

Jeffco Public School Board has just proposed a change of curriculum stating that, “Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law. Instructional materials should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage.”

This means that important parts of our history such as the Civil Rights Movement, Native American genocide, and slavery will not be taught in public schools. If these important lessons are not taught, children will not learn from them, and what will stop them from happening again? This is a severe form of censorship intended to keep the youth ignorant and easy to manipulate. I’m hoping to get enough signatures to prove that this is a public issue, so, please, if this is important to you, please sign. Do not let our youth grow up in ignorance; we all deserve the truth!

You can sign the petition here.

You can read more articles at The Denver Post, CBS Denver (with video), and Colorado Public Radio.

Thanks to theseacaptainsdaughter for dropping a link in my inbox.

Wow, I mean I always knew our history classes were more indoctrination than actual history but I didn’t realize they were this blatant about it.

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Do gut bacteria rule our minds?

Bacterial species vary in the nutrients they need. Some prefer fat, and others sugar, for instance. But they not only vie with each other for food and to retain a niche within their ecosystem — our digestive tracts — they also often have different aims than we do when it comes to our own actions, according to senior author Athena Aktipis, Ph.D., co-founder of the Center for Evolution and Cancer with the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCSF.

While it is unclear exactly how this occurs, the authors believe this diverse community of microbes, collectively known as the gut microbiome, may influence our decisions by releasing signaling molecules into our gut. Because the gut is linked to the immune system, the endocrine system and the nervous system, those signals could influence our physiologic and behavioral responses.

“Bacteria within the gut are manipulative,” said Carlo Maley, Ph.D., director of the UCSF Center for Evolution and Cancer and corresponding author on the paper. “There is a diversity of interests represented in the microbiome, some aligned with our own dietary goals, and others not.”

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Just a thoughthttp://best-of-imgur.tumblr.com

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Noam Chomsky: Why Americans Know So Much About Sports But So Little About World Affairs

  • QUESTION: You've written about the way that professional ideologists and the mandarins obfuscate reality. And you have spoken -- in some places you call it a "Cartesian common sense" -- of the commonsense capacities of people. Indeed, you place a significant emphasis on this common sense when you reveal the ideological aspects of arguments, especially in contemporary social science. What do you mean by common sense? What does it mean in a society like ours? For example, you've written that within a highly competitive, fragmented society, it's very difficult for people to become aware of what their interests are. If you are not able to participate in the political system in meaningful ways, if you are reduced to the role of a passive spectator, then what kind of knowledge do you have? How can common sense emerge in this context?
  • CHOMSKY: Well, let me give an example. When I'm driving, I sometimes turn on the radio and I find very often that what I'm listening to is a discussion of sports. These are telephone conversations. People call in and have long and intricate discussions, and it's plain that quite a high degree of thought and analysis is going into that. People know a tremendous amount. They know all sorts of complicated details and enter into far-reaching discussion about whether the coach made the right decision yesterday and so on. These are ordinary people, not professionals, who are applying their intelligence and analytic skills in these areas and accumulating quite a lot of knowledge and, for all I know, understanding. On the other hand, when I hear people talk about, say, international affairs or domestic problems, it's at a level of superficiality that's beyond belief.
  • In part, this reaction may be due to my own areas of interest, but I think it's quite accurate, basically. And I think that this concentration on such topics as sports makes a certain degree of sense. The way the system is set up, there is virtually nothing people can do anyway, without a degree of organization that's far beyond anything that exists now, to influence the real world. They might as well live in a fantasy world, and that's in fact what they do. I'm sure they are using their common sense and intellectual skills, but in an area which has no meaning and probably thrives because it has no meaning, as a displacement from the serious problems which one cannot influence and affect because the power happens to lie elsewhere.
  • Now it seems to me that the same intellectual skill and capacity for understanding and for accumulating evidence and gaining information and thinking through problems could be used -- would be used -- under different systems of governance which involve popular participation in important decision-making, in areas that really matter to human life.
  • There are questions that are hard. There are areas where you need specialized knowledge. I'm not suggesting a kind of anti-intellectualism. But the point is that many things can be understood quite well without a very far-reaching, specialized knowledge. And in fact even a specialized knowledge in these areas is not beyond the reach of people who happen to be interested.

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Solar Panels Cost Less Than Electricity From Natural Gas (and Coal and Nuclear) Even Without Subsidies

Now if we could just get the government to stop subsidizing the oil industry.

A new report out from Lazard tells us something those who follow the wind and solar industries already knew to some degree: large-scale solar and wind power projects can now compete purely on cost with natural gas power plants (as well as coal and nuclear, of course). Solar panels cost less than electricity from any other source in some regions, and the cost continues to fall.

We’ve seen solar come in lower than natural gas in Austin, Minnesota, and probably New Mexico. The city of Austin has actually made solar power a “default energy source” now.

Worth noting is that this has long been the case with renewable energy subsidies, but the point of the report is that it’s also the case without those subsidies in a growing number of places, even while fossil fuels retain their subsidies.

The new report from Lazard notes that onshore (unsubsidized) wind power costs have fallen from a low of $101/MWh in 2009 to $37/MWh in 2014, a drop of approximately 65%.

Solar farm costs have fallen from a low of $323/MWh in 2009 to $72/MWh in 2014, a drop of approximately 80%.

Rooftop solar panels cost much more (per kWh) than utility-scale solar panel setups, but the important thing is that rooftop solar panel costs compete with retail electricity prices rather than wholesale electricity prices coming from large power plants. While solar farms are just hitting “grid parity,” more-expensive rooftop solar panels have been at “socket parity” for millions or hundreds of millions of Americans for years.

Is the cost of solar panels going to fall further? Of course it is, but every year that you wait to go solar, you pass up massive savings off of your electricity bill. Also, solar panel subsidies at the federal, state, and local levels won’t last forever, so taking advantage of them now is quite logical. In my opinion, for many people, there’s no better time to go solar than right now.

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Pranking My Roommate With Eerily Targeted Facebook Ads

It’s been proven time and time again that Facebook knows more about you than you know about you. While advertisers are able to use that data in their targeting, it’s often poorly executed (which is why I, a Jew-ish guy, often see ads for Christian dating sites), but as a Facebook user you’re never able to see WHY you’re being targeted. This was exactly what I planned to use to exact my revenge. I was going to target him with highly personalized messages that were focused on things Facebook truly shouldn’t know about his personal life – things that weren’t even online, let alone on Facebook. The goal, to make him unbelievably paranoid.

Since I didn’t want him to know that I was placing the ads I opted to use sidebar ads and direct him to sites that somewhat related to the message – although most of the links associated were pretty random. This enabled me to target him with ads anonymously whereas if I had done newsfeed ads I would have needed to create and populate a fake Facebook page to maintain the illusion (let’s be honest, I may not do things half-assed, but I still do them efficiently).

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if you don’t get it, ask an American who does.

if you don’t get it, ask an American who does.

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Miles Davis’ Hand

Miles Davis’ Hand


Non-religious guy randomly decides to install a Buddha statue in his high-crime neighborhood. Neighboring Vietnamese ladies start flocking to it, enhance it with gifts and flowers, and hold daily chants. Crime in the vicinity has dropped 82% since 2012.

The 11th Avenue resident in Oakland’s Eastlake neighborhood was simply feeling hopeful in 2009 when he went to an Ace hardware store, purchased a 2-foot-high stone Buddha and installed it on a median strip in a residential area at 11th Avenue and 19th Street.

He hoped that just maybe his small gesture would bring tranquillity to a neighborhood marred by crime: dumping, graffiti, drug dealing, prostitution, robberies, aggravated assault and burglaries.

What happened next was nothing short of stunning. Area residents began to leave offerings at the base of the Buddha: flowers, food, candles. A group of Vietnamese women in prayer robes began to gather at the statue to pray.

And the neighborhood changed. People stopped dumping garbage. They stopped vandalizing walls with graffiti. And the drug dealers stopped using that area to deal. The prostitutes went away.

I asked police to check their crime statistics for the block radius around the statue, and here’s what they found: Since 2012, when worshipers began showing up for daily prayers, overall year-to-date crime has dropped by 82 percent. Robbery reports went from 14 to three, aggravated assaults from five to zero, burglaries from eight to four, narcotics from three to none, and prostitution from three to none.


Self-appointed vigilante punishes litterbugs

(via Boing Boing)