“But I also want an option that’s testing ONLY. Some kids don’t show up for class not because they’re slackers, but because they’re obsessed with their work in the lab, or they have better things to read, or their teachers are awful — or they just cannot stand to be condescended to for one more minute. Let’s acknowledge that, just as some kids just crumble under test pressure, some kids cannot maintain the finely orchestrated, four-year-long social performance that is required to conform, make nice, and fulfill the arbitrary requirements of dozens of adult strangers, some of whom frankly should not be teaching, or who like to penalize students who challenge them.”—Jen Dziura http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4921563 (via mollycrabapple)
60,000 miles up: Space elevator could be built by 2035
Imagine a ribbon roughly one hundred million times as long as it is wide. If it were a meter long, it would be 10 nanometers wide, or just a few times thicker than a DNA double helix. Scaled up to the length of a football field, it would still be less than a micrometer across — smaller than a red blood cell. Would you trust your life to that thread? What about a tether 100,000 kilometers long, one stretching from the surface of the Earth to well past geostationary orbit (GEO, 22,236 miles up), but which was still somehow narrower than your own wingspan?
The idea of climbing such a ribbon with just your body weight sounds precarious enough, but the ribbon predicted by a new report from the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) will be able to carry up to seven 20-ton payloads at once. It will serve as a tether stretching far beyond geostationary (aka geosynchronous) orbit and held taught by an anchor of roughly two million kilograms. Sending payloads up this backbone could fundamentally change the human relationship with space — every climber sent up the tether could match the space shuttle in capacity, allowing up to a “launch” every couple of days.
The report spends 350 pages laying out a detailed case for this device, called a space elevator. The central argument — that we should build a space elevator as soon as possible — is supported by a detailed accounting of the challenges associated with doing so. The possible pay-off is as simple as could be — a space elevator could bring the cost-per-kilogram of launch to geostationary orbit from $20,000 to as little as $500.
“It should be noted that much feminist work suffers from the assumption that it is only through the development of a Western-style industrial capitalism and the resultant entry of women into waged labour that the potential for the liberation of women can increase.”—Hazel V. Carby, White Woman Listen! Black Feminism and the Boundaries of Sisterhood (via blackfootbeauty)
“I’m a strict, strict agnostic. It’s very different from a casual, ‘I don’t know.’ It’s that you cannot present as knowledge something that is not knowledge. You can present it as faith, you can present it as belief, but you can’t present it as fact.”—Margaret Atwood. Poet, novelist (via deep-nature)
“Of course I encourage anyone who wants to write memoir to go for it, but a part of me also believes that memoir belongs to us: to the quiet daughters and the caregivers, to the single moms and the runaways and the queers, to those who’ve only seen ourselves as bit characters in ‘more important’ people’s dramas, to the ones who know too much about the violence of life, to people who’ve been told over and over again to ‘shut up.’”—Ariel Gore, "Bringing Up The Dead" (via 24freedinners)
But he himself did not have the hardness he demanded from his subordinates, any more than he had the rest of the elite characteristics of the SS man, the external racial features, the physical height, the hair colour, or the so-called Great Family Tree (Grosser Ahnennachweis) going back to 1750. There is no evidence that he was conscious of these problems or suffered from them. Only once does he seem to have submitted himself to the sight of what he demanded from others. SS Obergruppenfuhrer von dem Bach-Zelewski has attested that in 1941 in Minsk, Himmler ordered a hundred prisoners to be assembled for a model execution. At the first salvo, however, he almost fainted, and he screamed when the execution squad failed to kill two women outright. In significant contrast to his abstract readiness to commit murder was the heartfelt emotion, described elsewhere, which overcame him at the sight of blond children, and his positively hysterical opposition to hunting. His lunch was ruined if he was reminded that animals had been slaughtered. He once protested to his doctor:
"How can you find pleasure, Herr Kersten, in shooting from behind cover at poor creatures browsing on the edge of a wood, innocent, defenceless. and unsuspecting? It’s really pure murder. Nature is so marvellously beautiful and every animal has a right to live. It’s just this point of view that I admire so much in our forefathers. They, for instance, formally declared war on rats and mice, which were required to stop their depredations and leave a fixed area with a definite time limit, before beginning a war of annihilation against them. You will find this respect for animals in all Indo-Germanic peoples. It was of extraordinary interest to me to hear recently that even today Buddhist monks, when they pass through a wood in the evening, carry a bell with them, to make any woodland animals they might meet keep away, so that no harm will come to them. But with us every slug is trampled on, every worm destroyed."
The almost incomprehensible distortion of all standards of judgement revealed when this observation is set beside what he said about experiments on living prisoners or the ‘treatment of other races in the East’ can be understood only in the context of his utopian fanaticism, which in its narrow-minded obsessionalism undoubtedly contained an element of insanity, and in the context of his world of ideas that was totally divorced from human reality
“Suddenly I had a flash of insight: I am a monster, I realized, a monster that wants to stalk through the woods, free and alone, and cannot even bear so much as the touch of a branch on its skin.”—Marlen Haushofer, The Loft. (via mirroir)
A new study led by the University of Melbourne and Orygen Youth Health Research Centre is the first to discover that the brain develops differently in adolescents who experience depression. These brain changes also represent possible risk factors for developing depression during teenage years.
Lead research Professor Nick Allen from the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences said, “It is well known that the brain continues to change and remodel itself during adolescence as part of healthy development.”
“In this study, we found that the pattern of development (such as changes in brain structure between ages twelve to sixteen) in several key brain regions differed between depressed and non-depressed adolescents,” Professor Allen said.
The brain regions involved include areas associated with the experience and regulation of emotion, as well as areas associated with learning and memory.
“The findings are an important breakthrough for exploring possible causes of depression in adolescence. They also suggest that both prevention and treatment for depression (even for early signs and symptoms of depression) in adolescence is essential, especially targeting those in the early years of adolescence aged twelve to sixteen,” he said.
“We also observed some differences between males and females. For males, less growth in an area of the brain involved in processing threat and other unexpected events that is a critical part of the brain’s fear circuitry, was associated with depression. On the other hand, for females, greater growth of this area was found to be associated with depression.”
“This is important information because depression becomes much more common amongst girls during adolescence, and these findings tell us about some of the neurobiological factors that might play a role in this gender difference,” he said.
Professor Allen says adolescence is a period during the lifespan where risk for developing depression dramatically increases.
The study examined eighty-six adolescents (41 female) with no history of depressive disorders before age 12 by using a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner, which allowed researchers to measure the volume of particular brain regions of interest. Participants underwent an MRI scan first at age twelve and again at age sixteen, when rates of depression were beginning to increase. Researchers also conducted detailed interviews with each of the participants at four different time points between age twelve and age eighteen. Thirty participants experienced a first episode of a depressive disorder during the follow-up period.
These findings have recently been published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
In India, when a girl is raped, because the stigma is so enormous, nobody is allowed to disclose her name. So all the various newspapers and media outlets, in their excitement, kept giving her different names. So someone called her Damini and somebody called her Nirbhaya, which means the fearless one, though I don’t know how they assumed that she was fearless. What a strange thing to do to a young girl who was murdered in that way.
But John Kerry recently wanted to honor her on Women’s Day or something in the United States because he seemed so moved by this story. And that I found so grotesque, because in the last few years the Americans have in terms of what they’ve done to the women of Iraq, what they’ve done to the women of Libya, driven whole countries, millions of women back into purdah, back into the most inequitable lives—women who were poets and writers and doctors and scientists being pushed back against their volition. It’s not that they were women who chose to be like that, but the situation that was created by these wars has pushed them back. And then you pick up a young girl who was raped and honor her, when you’re pushing millions of women backwards and putting the hands of the clock back for millions of women. You come and pick up this one case, which is completely unpolitical. What happened to her was a criminal act. What happens to the women of Libya and the women of Iraq and the women of Afghanistan is political. You’re not committing a criminal act on one person but a criminal act on countries of women.
“Empathy isn’t just something that happens to us—a meteor shower of synapses firing across the brain—it’s also a choice we make: to pay attention, to extend ourselves. It’s made of exertion, that dowdier cousin of impulse. Sometimes we care for another because we know we should, or because it’s asked for, but this doesn’t make our caring hollow. The act of choosing simply means we’ve committed ourselves to a set of behaviors greater than the sum of our individual inclinations: I will listen to his sadness, even when I’m deep in my own. To say ‘going through the motions’—this isn’t reduction so much as acknowledgment of the effort—the labor, the motions, the dance—of getting inside another person’s state of heart or mind. This confession of effort chafes against the notion that empathy should always arise unbidden, that genuine means the same thing as unwilled, that intentionality is the enemy of love. But I believe in intention and I believe in work. I believe in waking up in the middle of the night and packing our bags and leaving our worst selves for our better ones.”
In the study [PDF], [researcher Rik] Pieters followed more than 2,500 Dutch people over six years. For more specificity, the researcher broke materialism down into three categories that have subtle but significant differences. What Pieters calls “acquisition centrality” is pure, unfettered materialism. It’s the consumerism of the shopaholic—an unadulterated love of acquiring and owning possessions. “Possession-defined success” is the desire to keep up with your neighbours, a status-driven urge to make sure you’re not falling behind. And “acquisition in the pursuit of happiness” is exactly what it sounds like: buying with the belief that happiness is just one more Apple product away. It is materialism that “reflects a deficit.” …
He found that, over time, loneliness increased materialism and materialism increased loneliness (though the effects here were much smaller). Consumers can find themselves in a vicious circle, shopping because they’re sad, getting sadder as they shop, shopping some more—a loneliness loop that threatens to end with authorities discovering you alone in your apartment, long since dead, surrounded by a heaps of unopened Amazon boxes.
Surprisingly, however, as Pieters dug down into the different types of materialism, he found that not all materialism makes you miserable. While those who shopped in pursuit of happiness or to attain a particular status predictably increased loneliness over time, the people shopping out of “acquisitive centrality” actually seemed to decrease their loneliness.
I’m not interested in a world where men really want to watch porn but resist because they’ve been shamed; I’m interested in a world where men are raised from birth with such an unshakable understanding of women as living human beings that they are incapable of being aroused by their exploitation.
“I hate most people. And I don’t want to, it’s an awful way to be. But the human race gives me no comfort. I find myself turning to books and films for comfort still. It’s repulsive, because one’s life consists of people, not things.”—Morrissey (via a-short-history-of-decay)
Particular smells can be incredibly evocative and bring back very clear, vivid memories.
Maybe you find the smell of freshly baked apple pie is forever associated with warm memories of grandma’s kitchen. Perhaps cut grass means long school holidays and endless football kickabouts. Or maybe catching the scent of certain medicines sees you revisit a bout of childhood illness.
What’s remarkable about the power of these ‘associative memories’ – connecting sensory information and past experiences – is just how precise they are. How do we and other animals attach distinct memories to the millions of possible smells we encounter?
“I grew up reading a generation of American and English people like [Saul] Bellow, [John] Updike or [Martin] Amis. Everybody’s neutral unless they’re black — then you hear about it: the black man, the black woman, the black person. Of course, if you happen to be black the world doesn’t look that way to you. I just wanted to try and create perhaps a sense of alienation and otherness in this person, the white reader, to remind them that they are not neutral to other people.”—Zadie Smith, discussing how she never mentions the race of any of the characters in her new novel, NW, unless they are white. (via theraconteurasaurus)
Before John Green, his general category of realistic (non-fantasy) YA was rife with teen angst and “issues” fiction that you might have associated with the legendary Judy Blume, or with newer writers like Sarah Dessen or Laurie Halse Anderson. Anderson’s classic 1999 novel Speak, about a high schooler struggling to deal with the aftermath of sexual assault, was so influential that three years later Penguin launched an entire imprint named after it. One of the books launched under the behest of Speak was Green’s Looking for Alaska. But it’s Green whose name you’re more likely to know today, not Anderson’s, although Anderson has won more awards and written more books.
On Twitter, Green has 2 million followers. Compared to the rest of the leaders in Young Adult fiction, that number is staggering. To approach even half the Twitter influence of John Green all by himself, you need an entire army of YA women. Anderson, Blume, Dessen, Veronica Roth, Cassandra Clare, Richelle Mead, Margaret Stohl, Kami Garcia, Rainbow Rowell, Maureen Johnson, Malinda Lo, Holly Black, LJ Smith, Ellen Hopkins, Shannon Hale, Lauren Myracle, Libba Bray, Melissa Marr, and Leigh Bardugo: As a group these women only have about 1.2 million followers on Twitter. That’s the voice of one man outweighing several decades of women who have had major successes, critical acclaim, and cultural influence.