Did You Enjoy That Corporate Takeover of Your Favorite Ski Town?

winterlandRemember when there were cute little ski towns? I don’t either, but I have heard they existed—once.

Nowadays going skiing is sort of like going to DisneyWorld, except way more expensive. The corporate takeover of most of America’s ski resorts has changed the experience of skiing forever. Some of our country’s most amazing places have become gentrified and are suffering the beginning of urban sprawl. Locals have been displaced as they can’t afford to live in their homes and their corporate policies have taken a toll on the environment. The cost of skiing is now prohibitive to anyone that isn’t upper-middle class at the least.

As a skier, what do you do about it, though? By supporting a corporate-owned ski resort, your money, regardless of how small, is just fattening the pockets of those who live far from the local mountain town. In fact, financial support means that you are contributing to ruining your mountain playground.… Read the rest

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The 10 Most Wild Lines From Antonin Scalia’s Extreme Dissent Over Gay Marriage

Well done Mother Jones for picking apart Antonin Scalia’s furious dissent in the Supreme Court’s landmark decision legalizing gay marriage:

In a 5-4 decision penned by Justice Anthony Kennedy and joined by the court’s liberal wing, the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage across the entire country Friday morning.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Photo: Stephen Masker (CC)

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Photo: Stephen Masker (CC)

Unsurprisingly, the other four conservative justices on the court besides Kennedy disagreed, each writing his own dissent. Antonin Scalia’s, per usual, is a classic. Legalizing same-sex weddings isn’t just a threat to traditional marriage for Scalia. Nay, it is a sign of democracy’s downfall. Just “ask a hippie.”

Scalia opened his dissent by warning that legalizing marriage was not just a misreading of the law. He claims to not care one way or another about the concept of gay people getting married—though past opinions say otherwise. Rather, he felt compelled to write his own dissent in order to “call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy”: “Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.” Also he goes out of his way to bash fellow justices as pretentious poets.

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Chimps are sensitive to what is right and wrong

Rhys Davenport (CC BY 2.0)

Rhys Davenport (CC BY 2.0)

via ScienceDaily:

How a chimpanzee views a video of an infant chimp from another group being killed gives a sense of how human morality and social norms might have evolved. So says Claudia Rudolf von Rohr of the University of Zurich in Switzerland, lead author of a paper in Springer’s journal Human Nature. It provides the first evidence that chimpanzees, like humans, are sensitive to the appropriateness of behaviors, especially those directed toward infants. It also shows that these primates might only take action when a member of their own group is being harmed.

The researchers filmed two social groups of chimpanzees living in two Swiss zoological gardens while the animals repeatedly viewed film clips. The films portrayed the actions of other chimps unknown to them. The control clip showed chimps doing neutral activities such as walking or cracking nuts. The experimental clips included aggressive scenes, such as an infant chimpanzee being killed by its own kind, a small colobus monkey being hunted and killed by chimps, and socially aggressive behavior between chimpanzee adults.

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Psychosurgeons Using Lasers To Burn The Bad From Brains

Photo: thomasbg (CC)

Photo: thomasbg (CC)

It may sound uncomfortably close to One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, but nevertheless brain surgeons are using lasers to burn away parts of the brain that they believe lead to mental illness, reports Wired:

A brain surgeon begins an anterior cingulotomy by drilling a small hole into a patient’s skull. The surgeon then inserts a tiny blade, cutting a path through brain tissue, then inserts a probe past sensitive nerves and bundles of blood vessels until it reaches a specific cluster of neural connections, a kind of switchboard linking emotional triggers to cognitive tasks. With the probe in place, the surgeon fires up a laser, burning away tissue until the beam has hollowed out about half a teaspoon of grey matter.

This is the shape of modern psychosurgery: Ablating parts of the brain to treat mental illnesses. Which might remind you of that maligned procedure, the lobotomy.

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Increased Anxiety Linked to Sitting Down

Joana Coccarelli (CC BY 2.0)

Joana Coccarelli (CC BY 2.0)

Sitting down has been linked to an increase in anxiety.

via Psyblog:

Sitting down all day has been linked to increased anxiety, a new study finds.

Low energy activities like watching TV, working at a computer or playing electronic games may all be linked to anxiety.

The link between sedentary behaviours and worse physical health is well-established.

This study is the first to review the evidence on sedentary behaviours and the psychological impact on anxiety.

Dr Megan Teychenne, who led the study, said:

“Anecdotally — we are seeing an increase in anxiety symptoms in our modern society, which seems to parallel the increase in sedentary behavior.

Thus, we were interested to see whether these two factors were in fact linked.

Also, since research has shown positive associations between sedentary behavior and depressive symptoms, this was another foundation for further investigating the link between sedentary behavior and anxiety symptoms.”

Continue reading.… Read the rest

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Churches Tracking Attendance With Facial Recognition Technology

All you mega church congregants (are there any amongst disinfonauts?), don’t think the pastor won’t know if you don’t show up on Sunday: the church is using facial recognition technology to make sure you’re in attendance, reports Fusion:

We know that Facebook has a vast facial recognition database so good that it can recognize you when your face is hidden, that the FBI has built a millions-strong criminal facial recognition system, and that Google’s new Photos app is so effective at face recognition that it can identify now-adults in photos from their childhood. But now facial recognition is starting to pop up in weird and unexpected places: at music festivals (to identify criminals); at stadiums (to weed out “sports troublemakers“) and at churches. Yes, churches.

Screenshot from Churchix.com website.

Screenshot from Churchix.com website.

 

Moshe Greenshpan, the CEO of Israel- and Las Vegas-based facial recognition software company Face-Six, says there are 30 churches around the world using his Churchix technology.

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The real Alien vs. Predator is occurring right now in Antarctic waters

Rob_Robbins_Antarctic_toothfish1_1_N

Dr. M via Deep Sea News:

In the freezing and dark waters of the Antarctic, two marine species are pitted against each other in a battle of survival. Each of the players in the evolutionary game is trying to avoid a permanent residency in the other’s stomach. One of the competitors, you may not be surprised by. The behemoth colossal squid can reach sizes of sizes of 495 kg (1091 lbs) and 4.2 meters (13.8 feet). The colossal squid’s competitor? The Antarctic toothfish reaching a puny 200 cm (6.5 feet) and 80 kg (176 pounds) in length at is biggest. Not exactly the size to take on the hooked tentacular mass of a colossal squid. Yet attacks and feedings of this two biological killing machines on each other occurs frequently in the natural world’s answer to Alien vs. Predator.

Remeslo and colleagues*** report 71 toothfish with deep wounds from squid beaks or scratches from suckers.

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How Many Criminals Do You Know?

When someone you know gets arrested, how do you feel? Does it depend on how close the person is to you? If it’s your ex-boyfriend or some guy that ripped you off, does their arrest make you feel good? If it is your best friend, or someone you went to college with, do you stick by them?

Crime and Punishment Gallery (5413963109) (6).jpg

Crime and Punishment Gallery (CC)

Does it depend on what the person did? What if they were arrested for dealing heroin as opposed to child porn? Does that make a difference? Do you ever think they are innocent?

Over twenty-five percent of US citizens have a criminal conviction [nelp.org] – not only that, but according to politifact.comover seventy percent of people in this country have done something that could have led them to be incarcerated.

What about you? Have you ever committed a crime? Could you be in prison right now if you were a little less careful or a little less lucky?… Read the rest

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Adolf Hitler’s Paintings Sold At Auction

What sort of person wants to buy a painting by Adolf Hitler? Guesses in the comments, but whoever they are, they’re prepared to spend a lot of money to own a Hitler original judging by the recent auction in Germany where the collection sold for $450,000, per AFP via Yahoo News:

Watercolour paintings and drawings by Adolf Hitler from about a century ago were sold at auction in Germany at the weekend for nearly 400,000 euros ($450,000), organisers said.

A painting of Neuschwanstein Castle, a watercolor signed 'A Hitler'. Photo: Christof Stache

A painting of Neuschwanstein Castle, a watercolor signed ‘A Hitler’. Photo: Christof Stache

 

The most expensive was a painting of King Ludwig II’s Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, now a tourist magnet, which went to a buyer from China for 100,000 euros, Nuremberg-based Weidler auctioneers said, quoted by German news agency DPA.

A still-life of carnations changed hands for 73,000 euros and all of the works on offer, which date from 1904 to 1922, most signed A.

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NASA and NNSA May Use Nuclear Weapons Against Asteroids

Chelyabinsk meteor trail. Photo: Nikita Plekhanov (CC)

Chelyabinsk meteor trail. Photo: Nikita Plekhanov (CC)

 

Shooting nukes into space on rockets: what could possibly go wrong? The geniuses at NASA and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have apparently overcome any reservations they may have had and are combining forces to think of ways to nuke any comet or asteroid that comes too close to Earth, per the New York Times:

In grappling with the threat of doomsday rocks from outer space, Hollywood has always been far ahead of the federal government, cranking out thrillers full of swashbuckling heroes, rockets and nuclear blasts that save the planet.

Now Washington is catching up.

On Wednesday, the nation’s agencies that build civilian rockets and nuclear arms sealed an agreement to start working together on planetary defense. The goal is to learn how to better deflect comets and asteroids that might endanger cities and, in the case of very large intruders, the planet as a whole.

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