Writer Amanda Baker examines the communication gap between scientific terminology and popular understanding - from obstacles individuals face when processing new or difficult-to-grasp concepts, to the larger conflicts between how the public, the media and scientists themselves present and talk about the world around us.
Amanda wrote the articles Hiding Clear Ideas behind Unclear Words and Recognizing False Beliefs: More Than Chimneys and Reindeer for Scientific American's Budding Scientist column.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
Like Paul Krugman, Matt Taibbi, and Garrison Keillor before me, I have arrived at the time I must write a think piece on Donald Trump, what he is and what he means in the context of our social and political evolution.
It's no secret that Donald Trump was born a wet wad of feces, rectal mucus, gravel, benzoate of soda, and minced twine. He emerged from Satan's anus, looked around, and declared himself a masterpiece. He then oozed, slug-like, across the linoleum of an abandoned, but haunted, state mental hospital toward the drain down which countless gallons of blood from tortured inmates had flowed. For the next twenty years he lived in the sewers of New Jersey among mutant fetuses who had somehow survived being flushed down toilets after back-alley abortions. He watched as they paraded along the excremental effluence on the backs of albino alligators similarly discarded, carrying torches fashioned from toilet plunger handles and used diapers.
Knowing he could never compete among the fetus creatures for mates, being many degrees uglier than even the most translucent and veiny of his cohort, he instinctively understood he would have to distinguish himself in some other way. He taught himself to communicate via fits of vomiting, a kind of Morse code of convulsive regurgitation of the very filth from which he was made. This he called "serenading," much as today he strives to label with pretty words such as "debate" and "speech" the putrid slurry of his various secretions.
It has been frequently reported that he is a physical abomination, and rightly so. To call the joints of his legs "knees" is to bestow upon them a compliment they in no way deserve. They are rotten tubers joining the vile armadillo sausages he has in place of thighs and calves. It would be remarkable that he has an anus where his mouth should be, if not for the fact that every orifice and aperture in his body is an anus as well. Disturbingly, Paul Krugman neglects to mention this. Light penetrates Trump's eye anuses like quickly melting suppositories. Sound enters his ear anuses the way Newt Gingrich's scaly erection violates the butthole of a shrieking piglet – a common enough occurrence, yet one we ought to be careful never to grow accustomed to. A minor tremor of revulsion, at the very least, is always... read more
On this day in 1509 – (507 years ago) – the area around the Sea of Marmara in Turkey— including the great city of Constantinople, now known as Istanbul—was hit by a major earthquake that demolished more than a thousand houses, killing some five thousand people and injuring another ten thousand. The earthquake also knocked down many long stretches of the Constantipole city walls, including the last remnants of the ones built during the rule of the Roman emperor Constantine in the fourth century. In the city and for miles around, it toppled hundreds of mosques, minarets, and bridges; destroyed countless shops and other public buildings; sent waterfront houses tumbling into the sea; and heavily damaged one of the most important aqueducts providing water to the city. The shock of the main earthquake was felt as far away as Greece, the Danube, and Egypt, and the aftershocks left people so frightened that they camped outdoors for the next two months. Islamic historians later came to refer to the event as “the lesser Judgment Day.”
On this day in 1897 – (119 years ago) – a group of three to four hundred striking coal miners, mostly recent immigrants from Germany and eastern Europe, was marching on the Lattimer coal mine near Hazleton, Pennsylvania, when it was confronted by a 150-member armed posse newly deputized by the local county sheriff. The strikers were from other mines in the area, and had come to support new union organizing at the Lattimer mine, which was still open. The sheriff ordered the unarmed strikers to disperse, and when the strikers refused to do so, the deputies opened fire. Nineteen miners were killed, and dozens more were injured as they tried to flee. The deputies were soon heard bragging to each other about how many so-called “hunkies” they had shot. They later claimed in court that they had shot in self-defense, but a coroners’ analysis revealed that most of the dead miners had been shot in the back. The shooters were never convicted of any crime, and the Lattimer incident led directly to the original rise of the United Mine Workers union.
On this day in 1976 – (40 years ago) — at an altitude of 29,000 feet near Zagreb, Yugoslavia, two passenger jets collided in midair, killing all 176 people aboard both airplanes. The collision, between planes owned by British... read more
Here's what Chuck is reading to prepare for Saturday's show:
Ratfucked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy - David Daley [Norton]
Announcement of Nationally Coordinated Prisoner Workstoppage for Sept 9, 2016 - Support Prisoner Resistance
Secrets and Suspicion in Uzbekistan - Sarah Kendzior [New York Times]
Acceptable Losses: Aiding and abetting the Saudi slaughter in Yemen - Andrew Cockburn [Harper's]
The Radicalism of Black Lives Matter - Martha Biondi [In These Times]
John is author of the new book Trump Unveiled: Exposing the Bigoted Billionaire from OR Books.
"A long long time ago. I can still remember how that music used to make me smile." Don MacLean, singer/songwriter who penned the hit song "American Pie," knew that if he had his chance he could make people dance. So they might be happy for a while. Normally they were sad. It was, after all, February, 1959, and the newspapers had nothing but bad news in them. Not exactly sure what MacLean had to complain about other than the cold. The Cuban Revolution had just happened, ousting dictator Fulgencio Batista, which caused US-based mobster Meyer Lansky to flee Havana for the Bahamas. At least at that moment, the future of Cuba looked bright.
Down in North Carolina, four students had just staged the first Civil Rights sit-in at a whites-only lunch counter. Pope John the XXIII inaugurated Vatican II, the radical refocus of the church toward human rights and the needs of the poor, which has since been undone. Only now, 40-some years later, with the accession of Pope Francis, is the Catholic church beginning to bring itself back on course. True, the South Vietnamese government had used intimidation, bolstered by almost a billion dollars in US aid, to stage an election victory, but that should have come as good news to the white, innocent US citizens of the late 1950s.
Oh, that's right. Buddy Holly was killed in a plane crash. That was the bad news on the doorstep. That was the day the music died. It's worth noting that Buddy Holly himself chartered the plane, on which Ritchie Valens, rock 'n roll's first Latin crossover hit-maker, also died. And that's racist.
But I won't debate Buddy Holly's racist assassination of Ritchie Valens here. The man did a lot for white coolness. Elvis Costello would have had to dress in a denim shirt and cowboy boots on the cover of My Aim Is True if it hadn't been for him. Holly also helped launch the career of country music legend Waylon Jennings, all the while penning rock 'n roll standards that would give George Thorogood material to fatten up his albums.
The Book of Love and faith in God and the Bible were the values we lost that day, according to MacLean. He was a lonely teenage broncin' buck, but he was shit out of luck when that plane went down. I mean, his girl was dancing to R&B in the gym with another guy. Black music was just beginning its reign of terror.
Don MacLean said goodbye to those quintessentially American... read more
On this day in the year 410 – (1,606 years ago) – the city of Rome was occupied and sacked by a foreign army for the first time in almost eight hundred years. Alaric, king of the invading Visigoths, had previously fought alongside the Romans, losing thousands of his men in battle, but then had grown disenchanted with Roman rule. After leading raids and blockades through Greece and Italy, he and his troops laid seige to Rome and sacked the city. Then they moved southward down the Italian peninsula, reaching the town of Cosentia, now known as Cosenza, where Alaric suddenly died of a fever. Legend has it that his troops built a dam to divert the Busento River, buried their dead commander in the river bed with a pile of his Roman loot, then removed the dam, returning the river to its original course. Sixteen centuries later, Italian archaeologists armed with ground-penetrating radar and other high-tech gear are still searching the river for Alaric and his buried treasure.
On this date in 1883 – (133 years ago) – after a long series of increasingly severe tremors and eruptions, the volcanic island of Krakatoa in the Dutch East Indies (now known as Indonesia) finally collapsed in the most powerful explosion in recorded history. Four times as powerful as the biggest nuclear bomb ever detonated, the blast was clearly heard by people three thousand miles away, and the global shock wave was detected as far away as the English Channel. Two- thirds of the main island, along with several smaller islands nearby, simply disappeared. The explosion and its associated tsunamis killed at least 36,000 people, and some estimates go as high as a 100,000. The thick, soupy cloud of volcanic ash, four miles high, spread into the atmosphere, causing brilliant red sunsets and strangely altered weather patterns around the world for the next five years.
On this day in 1896 – (120 years ago) – the sudden death of the sultan of Zanzibar precipitated the Anglo-Zanzibar War, now known as the shortest war in history. The dead sultan had been supported by the British, who preferred that he be succeeded by Hamid bin Muhammad. When the sultans’ nephew, Khalid bin Bargash, seized power instead, the Brits assembled five warships in the nearby harbor and issued an ultimatum, ordering him and his troops to stand down. When the deadline passed with no response, the Brits... read more