January 9, 2018 in 4,843 words

Unite Colorado’s Plan to Snuff Out Partisan Political Bullshit

Although politically engaged folks seem to be at odds over just about everything these days, there’s one thing on which they agree: The current system, in which Republicans and Democrats spend a lot more time arguing than getting things done, is a mess. But Unite Colorado aims to change that, at least here, by way of an ambitious plan to back independent legislators who pledge to put the people’s business in front of endless bickering that accomplishes nothing.

“We are a new movement that seeks to bridge the growing partisan divide, specifically by electing common-sense independent candidates to office,” says Unite Colorado executive director Nick Troiano, who’ll host a Denver Press Club event at 11:30 a.m. today, January 9, to introduce the local media to Steve Peterson, Maile Foster, Eric Montoya and Jay Geyer, the organization’s first four 2018 hopefuls, who are profiled at the bottom of this post.

“We believe now is the time,” Troiano adds, “because a plurality of Colorado voters are independent, but no candidates running as independents have been elected to the current legislature. And we aim to change that.”

Senator Cheri Jahn has already taken a step in this direction. Last month, she left the Democratic Party and announced that she would serve out the remainder of her term as an unaffiliated member because, as she wrote on her Facebook page, “this system is terribly broken.” But Unite Colorado wants to turn this frustration into a political strategy.

The Difference Between Speaking ‘Your Truth’ and ‘The Truth’

Oprah Winfrey’s hugely impressive rise illustrates the constructive possibilities of her mantra. Her biggest missteps reveal its limits.

On Monday, as Oprah Winfrey’s stirring acceptance speech at the Golden Globes secured a place in the national conversation, Byron Tau of The Wall Street Journal tweeted, “Oprah employed a phrase that I’ve noticed a lot of other celebrity using these days: ‘your truth’ instead of ‘the truth.’ Why that phrasing?” He fretted that “your truth” undermines the idea of shared common facts.

Well, Garance Franke-Ruta replied, “sometimes you know something is real and happened and is wrong, even if the world says it’s just the way things are. It’s a call to activism rooted in the individual story, grounded in personal experience.”

Another Twitter user chimed in to add that, “it’s also a well-known tactic in building leadership in community organizing that allows people who are rarely heard to tell their story, learn that they are, in fact, not alone, connects individual experiences to systemic issues, and helps develop powerful public speakers.”

And yet, others chimed in to ask: What about the people whose earnestly held “truth” is that immigrants are ruining America; or that the white race is inherently superior to all others; or that the rules set forth in Leviticus or the Koran are the only way to live; or that the latest Alex Jones conspiracy theory is correct; or that climate change is a hoax cooked up by liberals to gain control over all aspects of life in the United States?


Must See

“A new day is on the horizon.”

If you haven’t seen Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech yet, what are you waiting for exactly?

Winfrey became the first black woman ever to receive the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award in its 66-year history tonight (Jan. 7). Honored for her groundbreaking career across television and film, Winfrey used the Globes platform to deliver a stirring speech about gender and racial inequality in the midst of Hollywood’s ongoing crisis over sexual harassment.

The speech, easily the highlight of the show that made the movies themselves seem incidental by comparison, prompted many on social media to declare Winfrey the next president of the United States—a prospect political pundits have already taken seriously.

Seb Gorka Accidentally Made That White House Tell-All Book Sound a Little More Credible

Here is the worst way to try and dismiss something you don’t like.

On Monday, former deputy assistant to the president and noted parallel parking enthusiast Seb Gorka took place in what has quickly become the proudest of traditions among the multitude of ex-White House staffers who have been fired by Donald Trump: trying desperately to get Donald Trump to like them again. In an op-ed published by The Hill, Gorka blasts Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff, characterizing him as a “partisan self-promoter” with borderline “treasonous goals.” Damn, that’s a good start, you might be thinking to yourself right now. Trump will probably love this when someone reads it to him.

What Trump will probably not love, however, in light of his recent assertions that Wolff had “zero access” to the White House and relied on “sources that don’t exist” to produce a “fake book,” is this aside that Gorka includes while bragging about how he would always record his conversations with reporters hailing from “#FakeNews” outlets.

[Y]ou’d never see Jim Acosta coming out of my office or Maggie Haberman buying me an espresso at Peet’s around the corner from the West Wing. So, when I met Michael Wolff in Reince Priebus’ office, where he was waiting to talk to Steve Bannon, and after I had been told to also speak to him for his book, my attitude was polite but firm: “Thanks but no thanks.”

His use of passive voice begs the question: Who told Gorka to submit to an interview for the book? Bannon, his longtime partner in xenophobic blogging? Priebus, in whose office Gorka apparently sat when approached by Wolff? Some other shadowy administration figure angling for a boost in the Shadow President Power Rankings? Man, Anthony Scaramucci would be absolutely furious to learn about the presence of another leaker operating in the West Wing, if only he were still alive today.

Randolph Bourne’s 1911 essay on disability shocked society. But what’s changed since?

The American intellectual’s controversial account, The Handicapped – By One of Them, still resonates today. It also begs the question: what progress has really been made since his death 100 years ago?

Impassioned pacifist Randolph Bourne was undaunted by years of discrimination.

I hadn’t heard of Randolph Bourne until my cousin, a writer, suggested I seek him out. It turns out that 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of Bourne’s death. He was a wunderkind among American intellectuals, one of the country’s leading social critics, and a pioneer for people with disabilities – including me.

My ignorance of Bourne was embarrassing, because I have also written about my physical handicaps. When I was eight years old, I was diagnosed with a brain tumour and other ailments, and for the past 21 years have lived in a wheelchair.

Bourne’s troubles began at birth, in Bloomfield, New Jersey in 1886, when his face was mangled by misused forceps and an umbilical cord that wrapped around his left ear. When he was four years old, he contracted tuberculosis of the spine, which led to the stunting of his growth and a hunched back.

Bourne, whose family lost everything in 1893, was abandoned by his alcoholic father, and grew up impoverished with his mother. After graduating from high school at 17, he was scheduled to be a member of Princeton University’s class of 1907, but could not afford to attend (even though his wealthy uncle would later pay his two sisters’ college tuition) and needed to help his mother with living expenses. So Bourne taught piano lessons; in between, he acquired his writing voice by being a proofreader and doing secretarial work.

Undaunted by years of discrimination, Bourne studied on a scholarship at Columbia University under famed anthropologist Franz Boas and renowned eduction reformer (and later pro-war adversary) John Dewey. While in college Bourne began publishing essays in the Atlantic. His rise was meteoric – but amid the acclaim he began to be “blackballed” because of the fierce anti-war essays he penned in response to the war raging in Europe.

This bellicose atmosphere was exacerbated by the Woodrow Wilson administration’s enactment of the Sedition Act of 1918, which made it a crime to criticise the constitution, government, or military. That year, at age 32, Bourne died of Spanish influenza, during the infamous pandemic.

After reading his early essay The Handicapped – By One of Them, published in the Atlantic in 1911, I observed Bourne and I to be kindred spirits. An impassioned pacifist, his progressive politics would have made him a great millennial.

Controversial Mississippi Law Limiting LGBT Rights Not Heading To Supreme Court

The Supreme Court declined to take up a case over a Mississippi law that provides specific protection for three “sincerely held” religious beliefs.

The Supreme Court says it will not take up a challenge to a Mississippi law that allows businesses and government officials to deny services to LGBT people if doing so would conflict with certain “sincerely held” religious beliefs.

By rejecting the cases, the top court leaves in place a federal appeals court decision that allowed the 2016 law to take effect. It came into force in October.

“We had challenged it before it went into effect … before people were hurt and turned away and left without all the access to health care and government services that everyone else has,” says Beth Littrell, a lawyer for Lambda Legal, a legal organization that advocates for LGBT people.

Some religious conservatives are celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the law, which was strongly supported by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant.

How the heroin trade explains the US-UK failure in Afghanistan

After 16 years and $1tn spent, there is no end to the fighting – but western intervention has resulted in Afghanistan becoming the world’s first true narco-state.

After fighting the longest war in its history, the US stands at the brink of defeat in Afghanistan. How could this be possible? How could the world’s sole superpower have battled continuously for more than 16 years – deploying more than 100,000 troops at the conflict’s peak, sacrificing the lives of nearly 2,300 soldiers, spending more than $1tn (£740bn) on its military operations, lavishing a record $100bn more on “nation-building”, helping fund and train an army of 350,000 Afghan allies – and still not be able to pacify one of the world’s most impoverished nations? So dismal is the prospect of stability in Afghanistan that, in 2016, the Obama White House cancelled a planned withdrawal of its forces, ordering more than 8,000 troops to remain in the country indefinitely.

In the American failure lies a paradox: Washington’s massive military juggernaut has been stopped in its steel tracks by a small pink flower – the opium poppy. Throughout its three decades in Afghanistan, Washington’s military operations have succeeded only when they fit reasonably comfortably into central Asia’s illicit traffic in opium – and suffered when they failed to complement it.

It was during the cold war that the US first intervened in Afghanistan, backing Muslim militants who were fighting to expel the Soviet Red Army. In December 1979, the Soviets occupied Kabul in order to shore up their failing client regime; Washington, still wounded by the fall of Saigon four years earlier, decided to give Moscow its “own Vietnam” by backing the Islamic resistance. For the next 10 years, the CIA would provide the mujahideen guerrillas with an estimated $3bn in arms. These funds, along with an expanding opium harvest, would sustain the Afghan resistance for the decade it would take to force a Soviet withdrawal. One reason the US strategy succeeded was that the surrogate war launched by the CIA did not disrupt the way its Afghan allies used the country’s swelling drug traffic to sustain their decade-long struggle.

Despite almost continuous combat since the invasion of October 2001, pacification efforts have failed to curtail the Taliban insurgency, largely because the US simply could not control the swelling surplus from the country’s heroin trade. Its opium production surged from around 180 tonnes in 2001 to more than 3,000 tonnes a year after the invasion, and to more than 8,000 by 2007. Every spring, the opium harvest fills the Taliban’s coffers once again, funding wages for a new crop of guerrilla fighters.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: Prepare to spend a while; it’s The Long Read.

6 Times Normal People Got Screwed By Their Twitter Username

These days, everybody has a Twitter account, from A-list celebrities down to the guy who runs the gas station around the corner. That’s a lot of people — and a lot of usernames. And because the internet works on a “first come, first served” basis, that means that sometimes regular folks wind up with clean usernames, while their more famous namesakes have to settle for “Al_Gore420.” But being mistaken for someone famous on the internet isn’t all fun and games. It might mean you’ll wake up to millions of people asking you why you just denied the Holocaust while trying to explain to an angry mob that you’re not the guy who starred in Lethal Weapon. Here are some of the worst cases of mistaken twitdentity.

#6. People Keep Mistaking A Porn Star For The British Prime Minister

Ask your average American who runs the UK, and they’re likely to tell you that it’s a person going by the name Queen, The. (No relation to Rock, The.) Actual British citizens would correct them that it’s Prime Minister Teresa May. Teresa? Theresa? In this case, spelling the name correctly is important, as it means the difference between referring to the leader of Great Britain and a porn star.

You might think the profile and cover photo would be a tip-off …

As opposed to the tight-lipped Conservative PM, Teresa May (@RealTeresaMay) is an actress who makes her living by getting her boobs out on camera and is most famous for starring in the infamously pornographic music video for the Prodigy’s hit “Smack My Bitch Up.” But despite causing an entire teenage generation to need a change of pants in 1997, Boobs Teresa mostly gets attention in form of outraged political questions all year ’round.

The conflict between Brexit Theresa (@theresa_may) and Boobs Teresa dates back all the way to 2000, when the two were both invited on a radio show, a medium neither woman is at their best in, to talk about the confusion. When Twitter became a thing and Brexit Theresa was elected to the highest office in the land, both the confusion and hate intensified.

These are the scientific terms you need to know to understand life in 2018

New Year, New cO2

Something to believe in this year.

It’s a fool’s errand to try to predict what the future holds for the scientific trends that dominate the headlines today. Instead, Quartz’s science team has compiled a list of science terms and concepts that can help you better understand social and political life in 2018.


Towards the end of 2017, the Donald Trump administration told a number of divisions of the US Department of Health and Human Services to avoid certain words and phrases in their proposals for 2018 budgets, in order to improve the chances of getting funding from a Republican-led Congress. Two of these phrases, “evidence-based” and “science-based,” seem so basic and integral to the scientific method that blackballing them seems patently absurd. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was told that the agency should instead use wording like, “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” according to a budget analyst who spoke to the Washington Post.

To be clear: when something is described as “evidence-” or “science-based,” that doesn’t mean it should be immune from scrutiny. Science is inherently an iterative process, and “evidence” from 1998 might not be a good foundation for policy decisions in 2018. Maybe government experts’ time would be better spent trying to educate Congress, rather than shielding them from words they don’t understand. — Elijah Wolfson

Hundreds of flying foxes die in searing Australian heat

More than 400 animals have died in one colony alone as temperatures soar above 47C, causing exhaustion and dehydration

Mounds of dead flying foxes in Campbelltown suburb of Sydney, Australia.

A colony of flying foxes has been nearly wiped out by extreme heat in the Campbelltown suburb of Sydney, according to environmentalists.

The Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown campaign posted a series of images to Facebook showing the corpses of the animals lying in the ground, apparently after they had died from dehydration in the soaring temperatures. The group say more than 400 of the animals were lost, many of them juveniles.

A mound of dead flying foxes in Campbelltown, Australia.

Volunteers have been working to save the animals, rehydrating them and taking them to places where they can be kept cool. Temperatures in Sydney reached a near 80-year record high of 47.3C on Sunday.

Cate Ryan, one of the first volunteers on the scene, told media in Australia that “it was unbelievable. I saw a lot of dead bats on the ground and others were close to the ground and dying. I have never seen anything like it before.”

Volunteers from the Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown organisation hose down heat stressed koala bears in the searing Australian heat. Temperatures have reached 47C causing exhaustion and dehydration.

Trypophobia — the fear of holes — may not be a real phobia


A hole in the argument.

The world of phobias is as broad as it is bizarre.

Euphobia is the fear of good news. Ergophobia is fear of the workplace. And phobophobia is the fear of phobias. Some people are even fearful of going to the dentist.

Thanks to new research out of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, scientists are poised to disprove one supposed phobia altogether.

As it turns out, trypophobia—described as a fear of a cluster of small holes—may not be triggered by fear at all. In fact, new research published in open-access journal PeerJ shows that self-described trypophobes are actually disgusted by holes, not afraid.

It’s a narrow distinction that does more than possibly disprove yet another phobia. The finding gives scientists a new perspective on the wide-open question of how humans evolved to evade danger and protect themselves. The sight of a poisonous snake or spider often elicits feelings characterized as fear. It’s the body’s way of telling you to avoid those creatures because of the risk getting bitten.

23andMe Wants to Tell You How to Lose Weight

The quest to figure out the right diet for maintaining an optimal weight is often less a quest and more a life-long battle. We cycle through fad diet after fad diet, hoping to eventually one day strike diet gold. Now, the consumer DNA testing company 23andMe is hoping to cut out some of the mystery of dieting, providing consumers with personalized weight loss advice as part of its genetic reports.

Today, 23andMe is kicking off a massive study into the genetics of weight loss that the company says will involve 100,000 people crowdsourced from its database of 1.3 million of its customers. It’s perhaps the most ambitious undertaking today date to discern the link between people’s DNA and their success at dieting.

For 12 weeks starting today, the company is randomly assigning people to one of three diet and exercise plans, then asking them to report back on how they fared. 23andMe will then parse all that data, hoping to glean information from it that will shed light on the links between our DNA and our success at diets, ultimately incorporating that information into consumer DNA reports.

But before you get your hopes up, it’s unlikely that finding the perfect diet will be as easy as forking over $199 and spitting in a test tube—at least not any time soon.

Milo Yiannopoulos will represent himself in Simon & Schuster lawsuit, so that’ll go well

In the entire U.S. legal system, the biggest power move you can make—other than bringing in bags and bags of letters to Santa—is to fire your legal counsel and go rogue. It sends a very clear message that you’re someone who knows exactly what to do, has no interest in messing around, and will only be held back by professional advice. Unfortunately, it’s also an indication that you might be dangerously overconfident, and you’re willing to let your narcissism torpedo your entire case.

Anyway, Milo Yiannopoulos has reportedly split from his lawyer in his big Simon & Schuster lawsuit, with The Hill’s Will Sommer reporting that Yiannopoulos and the lawyer had some kind of “fundamental disagreement” that has made the relationship “untenable.” Naturally, Yiannopoulos—who is suing the publisher for cancelling his book deal—will now be representing himself in the $10 million lawsuit, and whether it ends up working in his favor or not, it should be pretty entertaining to watch. This also comes not long after the editor’s notes for the book were released, proving that Yiannopoulos’ editor had just about as much patience for his bullshit as the rest of us.

‘Ask this guy’: Thai PM uses cardboard cutout to avoid journalists’ questions

Prayuth Chan-ocha appeared ready for a media conference before producing the unusual prop and walking off.

Thailand’s prime minister has found a novel way to avoid journalists’ questions: producing a life-sized cardboard cutout of himself and telling the reporters to quiz it instead of him.

At a press conference in Bangkok, Prayuth Chan-ocha appeared ready to take questions but then supervised an aide as the cutout was installed.

“If you want to ask any questions on politics or conflict,” he then told reporters, “ask this guy.”

He then turned on his heel and walked off, leaving the mock-up behind, to bemused looks and awkward laughter from the government house media pack.

The prime minister had earlier spoken to the media after attending an event promoting Thailand’s upcoming children’s day, but deployed his dodging tactic before anyone could ask him about a number of pressing political issues.

It is not the first time Prayuth — a general who seized power in a bloodless coup in 2014 — has dumbfounded the media. In the past he has fondled the ear of a sound technician during an impromptu news conference, flung a banana peel at cameramen, and threatened, with gruff humour, to execute any journalist who criticised his government.

When it took power, his junta enjoyed considerable public support for ending a prolonged period of often-violent street politics. But as his rule has stretched on, criticism of the government’s often-repressive policies and lack of transparency has grown.


Ian asks: When someone leaves their body to science, what happens to it and how does a person opt into this?

As you might expect, the rules surrounding how one goes about donating one’s body FOR SCIENCE varies a little from region to region, though the general process and what happens after you donate seems to be relatively consistent.

For instance, in the United Kingdom, donating one’s body typically involves nothing more than filling out a few forms provided by your nearest university or medical school. Under British law and the Human Tissue Act of 2004, “written and witnessed consent” is required prior to death for a medical authority to claim a body and it’s highly recommended that you make your family aware of your wishes to expedite the process of transporting your body after death. The latter is important as it is possible in the UK for your next of kin to override your final wishes in regards to organ and body donation, and just in general it’s a good idea to process your body quickly lest it get rejected for not being, for lack of a better phrase, fresh enough.

Speaking of organ donation and body rejection, in most cases being an organ donor whose organs are harvested will disqualify you from subsequently donating your body to science directly (though there is a potential loophole in the United States in going through a body broker, which we’ll get to shortly). However, it is possible to be both a body and organ donor simultaneously regardless of what side of the pond you’re on; in this case, in the event that your organs are deemed unsuitable for transplantation, the relevant medical authority you’ve willed ownership of your body to can then choose to take your body or not at their discretion.

Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

Last year, Michael Elleman, a weapons expert at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, published an alarming claim about North Korea’s recent missile gains: they may have been getting technology from a one-time Soviet factory.

Elleman rooted his analysis in a close examination of the rockets used on North Korea’s latest tests — which looked a lot like ones that were once made in the Yuzhmash factory, in the eastern Ukrainian town of Dnipro.

But at the factory itself — which since the fall of the Soviet Union has been rebranded as a space-exploration agency — officials were in a panic. They adamantly denied having anything to do with North Korea. And they let VICE News visit, the first time American cameras were allowed inside, in an attempt to prove they had nothing to hide.

Strip clubs may be a place to party for some, but for female entertainers, they are an office space. And over the past few years that workplace has changed dramatically thanks to an entirely new job position moving in: bartenders.

Even though bartenders don’t get up on stage, the strip club bartenders dress similarly to the dancers and shake it behind the bar. Because customers tend to throw money into the air as they would to a dancer, rather than handing them the money directly, bartenders have found themselves fighting with surrounding employees, including dancers, to acquire their tips.

Some strippers have started to organize a city wide strike to address the competition between the women, along with other issues that affect the industry.

“I’ve had resentment as a dancer, I remember resenting bartenders,” Chela, who recently transitioned from dancing to bartending, tells VICE News. “It becomes very aggressive. People forget who they are when they start to see money.”

THANKS to HBO and VICE News for making this program available on YouTube.

After the book “Fire and Fury” calls his cognitive abilities into question, President Trump launches into a Twitter tirade to insist that he’s a “stable genius.”

THANKS to Comedy Central and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah for making this program available on YouTube.

While Oprah’s Golden Globes speech has many curious about her political ambitions, one man was way ahead of us.

The President proclaimed his genius on the platform where our society’s foremost intellectuals exchange revolutionary ideas: Twitter.

‘Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House’ author Michael Wolff takes Stephen through some of the biggest bombshells of his bestseller.

THANKS to CBS and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert for making this program available on YouTube.

Max is on a mood. But than decided it’s funny so he starts laughing about it.


JP Sears on His Hilarious Boulder Tribute Video and the Town’s Ultra-Spirituality

JP Sears clad in a Boulder-appropriate way.

JP Sears has gained fame as a comedian, life coach and author of How to Be Ultra Spiritual, which offers readers a guide to achieving “spiritual superiority” in just twelve and a half steps. No surprise, then, that he has a soft spot for Boulder, the recent repeat winner (according to National Geographic) as happiest city in the country, which he lovingly needles in a hilarious video on view below. In conversation, he makes it clear that his fondness for the town is no passing fancy.

“I believe my first time in Boulder was October of 2012,” he says. “I was there to teach a workshop, and my impression was that there were a lot of weird people there — in the best sense of the word, since I think being normal is one of the worst diseases that you can have. It also was apparent to me that it was a very conscious community where what I would consider to be high-vibe people had gathered together” — which explains why his video declares Boulder to be the “consciousness capital.”

In addition, Sears noticed that a lot of residents owned the same set of wheels.

“It’s very much a drive-a-Subaru-Outback consciousness,” he points out. “I think people of Boulder are most susceptible to the brainwashing advertising of the good folks at Subaru, and if I were to postulate a theory, it would probably be that the Subaru Outback brand is associated with the outdoors and the mountains. I think that fits Boulder very well.”

Boulder The Consciousness Capital – Ultra Spiritual Life episode 53
Order my new book at: http://HowToBeUltraSpiritual.com/

Ed. More tomorrow? Probably. Possibly. Maybe. Not?