September 28, 2018 in 2,415 words

Christine Blasey Ford shows us vulnerability is strength, not weakness


Christine Blasey Ford clarified her intentions at the very start of her testimony before the Senate judiciary committee.

“I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school,” she said. “Apart from the assault itself, these last couple of weeks have been the hardest of my life…I have had to relive my trauma in front of the entire world, and have seen my life picked apart by people on television, in the media, and in this body who have never met me or spoken with me.”

Three words especially—”I am terrified”—have reverberated. They’ve been recounted on Twitter, echoed in newsrooms, read in office cubicles, and seared into millions of women’s memories, as their chests pound with an intensity felt only when you understand someone else’s pain. Because it’s also your own.

What women live with it every day

As my colleague Annalisa Merelli writes on Twitter, womanhood is fundamentally defined by fear:

And yet, despite the tremendous trauma she’s endured, Ford did not visibly shed a tear throughout an excruciating hours-long hearing. Her sanity, mental health, memory, and credibility were relentlessly questioned. She addressed every question. She’s repeatedly described vivid details about the scene of the assault she says Kavanaugh made on her.

A video of a Republican senator blasting America’s “impotent legislature” has gone viral


Republican senator Ben Sasse’s statement during Brett Kavanaugh’s US Supreme Court nomination hearing yesterday (Sept. 27) may not have received much media attention—unsurprising, given the day’s events—but it sure hit a nerve with the public.

Sasse, from Nebraska, delivered a thesis as to why Supreme Court nomination hearings were deeply flawed, during a turbulent and intense day of testimony by Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused the nominee of sexual assault. The testimony, and Kavanaugh’s nomination, have brought into sharp focus (paywall) the country’s political and ideological faultlines.

Sasse said that the hearings were doomed to be a “politicized, overblown circus” because Congress has effectively handed over its power to the White House, making the Supreme Court a “substitute battleground for America.”

“The legislature is impotent. The legislature is weak. And most people here want their jobs more than they really want to do legislative work. And so they punt most of the work to the next branch,” Sasse said. “Our constitution places the policy-making power in the 535 of our hands because the voters can hire and fire us. And, if the voters are going to retain their power, they need a legislature that’s responsive to politics, not a judiciary that’s responsive to politics.”

Cable news commentator fired for being too gross, even for Fox News

Say what you like about today’s Senate hearings on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh—that they’re draining, that they reveal an endemic and institutional distrust in this country of women, that they put Ted Cruz’s depressing Droopy Dog face back on TV for yet another unnecessary minute—but at least they’re proving to be a remarkably efficient way of outing some of our society’s least subtle assholes. Case in point: Now-former Fox News commentator Kevin Jackson, who managed to successfully find the line that not even his employers would be willing to cross in regards to attacking women willing to stand up to powerful men, specifically with some of his Twitter commentary today about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

And while Jackson—also a radio host—didn’t manage to actually raise the bar for public misogyny with his comments about Ford (this is America, so that sucker is pretty god damn high as is) he did at least manage to smack his face into the underside of it, repeatedly, referring to Ford—who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in 1982—as a “lying skank,” and suggesting that she should “close her legs and open a book,” and Jesus Christ, this fucking guy.

Countries where men hold the power are really bad for men’s health


At risk.

On average, men die younger than women. Men are also more likely than women to die prematurely, from causes ranging from alcoholism to heart disease to suicide.

But a new report from the World Health Organization finds that, in Europe, those problems are particularly acute in countries with the lowest levels of gender equality. Parity between the sexes, it suggests, could actually save men’s lives.

“Living in a country with gender equality benefits men’s health and shows up as lower mortality rates, higher well-being, half the risk of being depressed, higher likelihood to have protected sex, lower suicide rates and a 40% reduced risk of a violent death,” the WHO notes in a press release accompanying the report.

The paper covers 41 countries, collating information about men’s health from existing WHO databases together for the first time. It found that, throughout Europe, men are more likely than women to face health problems because of smoking and drinking; unhealthy, salt-heavy diets; and through injury, some of which is sustained through violence like getting into fights or being attacked. The risks varied across the region: In Western Europe, smoking was the number-one risk factor in 2016, responsible for 1 million men’s deaths. In Eastern Europe, the biggest risk factors were alcohol and drug use.

Essential Guides For Not Screwing Up Face-To-Face Encounters

Cracked pays people to make smart memes. Visit the Photoplasty and Pictofacts Workshop to get in on it.

We’re all communicating through devices, these days, which is great and convenient. What’s not great is that we’ve all gotten really bad at actual face-to-face interaction. We’ve all pretty much forgotten how meatspace works.

We’re all about being helpful, here, so we asked readers for easy guides on what to do, what not to do, and what NEVER to do when meeting up with your online bae, that same person’s parents, some dude who’s hiring, or whatever.

14. Entry by Busteq

13. Entry by burritomouth

12. Entry by Gareth

11. Entry by T. S. Obiech

Back from the brink: the global effort to save coral from climate change

Underwater nurseries offer glimmer of hope for endangered ecosystems, encouraging growth of coral fragments on fibreglass structures anchored to the seabed.

US divers at work in the Tavernier nursery of the Coral Restoration Foundation, Florida.

As an ocean early warning system, coral reefs have been sounding the alarm for years. They have been bleached white by marine heatwaves and killed off en masse by a combination of factors including pollution, overfishing, acidification and climate change.

But now scientists in Florida, and other tropical locations worldwide, are attempting to stop the rot by creating coral “nurseries” in which young populations can be raised in controlled conditions before being planted on denuded reefs.

Off the southern tip of Florida, a sprawling marine farming operation has been established in which corals are painstakingly grown on anchored fibreglass trees and then planted on the barrier reef.

“The idea is to do as much as we can now to give these coral populations a fighting chance,” says Jessica Levy, programme manager at the Coral Restoration Foundation. “If you don’t put back the material and diversity that has been lost, the populations are going to crash and become extinct. For reefs, you’re looking at a global extinction of the ecosystem if things don’t change quickly.”

Florida has the world’s third largest barrier reef, with nearly 1,400 species of plants and animals and 500 species of fish, but the reef is vanishing fast.

England has more than 200,000 empty homes. How to revive them?

New schemes are taking derelict homes and resurrecting them. Some even create apprenticeships for young people in the process.

Two years ago Martyn Jones was homeless; today he is part of a team refurbishing the many derelict homes in Stockton-on-Tees.

Ask most people about England’s epidemic of empty homes and they are likely to think of lavish vacant mansions in London owned by absent foreign billionaires.

In fact, the majority of empty properties are in post-industrial areas, where poverty rates are high and house prices languish well below their pre-crash levels. Such a place is Stockton-on-Tees, near Middlesbrough, where Martyn Jones lives.

Two years ago Jones, 23, was homeless and relying on friends to let him sleep on their couches while he struggled to find work. Today, he is painting a wall in a gutted home on a quiet street, part of a group tasked with refurbishing some of the area’s many vacant, derelict homes.

Last week, Theresa May pledged an extra £2bn for housing associations to fund large-scale developments. But with new house building not providing enough affordable homes for more than 1 million people on waiting lists in England, social enterprises and councils are trying to bring empty homes, which number well over 200,000 and are worth almost £50bn, back into occupancy.

One of them is Community Campus 87, which buys such properties in Stockton-on-Tees, refurbishes them and offers them to previously homeless tenants at rents below the going rate for social housing. In the process, it provides jobs and skills training for people such as Jones.

Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube exploit our tribalism to keep us watching ads. That makes them a perfect target for trolls, conspiracy theorists, and con artists.

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram are built to cater to the base preferences and desires of their users — figuring out what information people enjoy with and then showing them more of it. That’s a great way to keep people online, but it also makes these platforms prime target for con artists. People are naturally drawn to inflammatory and sensational news stories, regardless of whether or not they’re true. So bad actors — conspiracy theorists, trolls, and fake news writers — have been tremendously successful in using these platforms to spread false and divisive content that exploit people’s tribal instincts.

In 2016, it was Macedonian teens making thousands of dollars publishing inflammatory fake stories about Hillary Clinton. After the Parkland shooting, it was random YouTubers going viral by accusing students of being crisis actors. Even the Russian trolls who meddled in the presidential election did so by posting low-quality, highly emotional content to social media — content they knew would go viral.

The problem with these social media sites isn’t that a few bad apples are ruining the fun. It’s that they’re designed to reward bad apples. And as long as con artists can use these platforms to prey on people’s most base desires, social media sites will continue reflecting the worst of human nature back at us.

“I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.”

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

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testifies about her sexual assault allegation against Brett Kavanaugh, and the SCOTUS nominee loses his cool when it’s his turn to be questioned.

Neal Brennan reminds Republicans that before they were making excuses for Brett Kavanaugh and Donald Trump, they were the party of godliness and morality.

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

Republicans controlling the Senate Judiciary Committee were ready to accommodate Dr. Christine Blasey Ford with anything she wanted. Except for one thing.

Judge Kavanaugh found out that ‘Jeopardy!’ is the place to answer with a question, not a Senate hearing in which you’ve been accused of sexual assault.

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

It’s been yet another week of non-stop hellfire, shit news. And thanks to Brett Kavanaugh, Sam finally has her Carrie moment.

Poor Brett Kavanaugh. If he doesn’t get to have the best possible job of all time, his life will be absolutely destroyed.

THANKS to TBS and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee for making this program available on YouTube.

Seth takes a closer look at Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony to the Senate about the allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

THANKS to NBC and Late Night with Seth Meyers for making this program available on YouTube.

CAUTION: Some language may not be appropriate for work or children.

An epic showdown in the Philippines took place recently between a concrete buffer and its colleagues.

まさかのまるバーレル再び。This is Maru Bucket again!


Bizarre Particles Keep Flying Out of Antarctica’s Ice, and They Might Shatter Modern Physics

A team recovers NASA’s Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) after a successful flight.

There’s something mysterious coming up from the frozen ground in Antarctica, and it could break physics as we know it.

Physicists don’t know what it is exactly. But they do know it’s some sort of cosmic ray — a high-energy particle that’s blasted its way through space, into the Earth, and back out again. But the particles physicists know about — the collection of particles that make up what scientists call the Standard Model (SM) of particle physics — shouldn’t be able to do that. Sure, there are low-energy neutrinos that can pierce through miles upon miles of rock unaffected. But high-energy neutrinos, as well as other high-energy particles, have “large cross-sections.” That means that they’ll almost always crash into something soon after zipping into the Earth and never make it out the other side.

And yet, since March 2016, researchers have been puzzling over two events in Antarctica where cosmic rays did burst out from the Earth, and were detected by NASA’s Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) — a balloon-borne antenna drifting over the southern continent.

ANITA is designed to hunt cosmic rays from outer space, so the high-energy neutrino community was buzzing with excitement when the instrument detected particles that seemed to be blasting up from Earth instead of zooming down from space. Because cosmic rays shouldn’t do that, scientists began to wonder whether these mysterious beams are made of particles never seen before.

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