Urban Studies

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From the March 12, 1886 New York Times:

Philadelphia–While Frank Murgatroyd was in bed early this morning he was seized with a violent spell of sneezing. The family was aroused, and everything was done for the man’s relief that could be thought of. The sneezing was kept up with unabated vigor, however, and before medical aid could reach him, Murgatroyd was a corpse. It is supposed that he ruptured a blood vessel.”

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I’m sure that feeding books into computers instead of reading them can tell us something about literature–and ourselves–but there are limits to quantitative methods when it comes to poetry. The opening of “Big Data Meets the Bard,” an article about “distant reading” by John Sunyer in the Financial Times:

“Here’s some advice for bibliophiles with teetering piles of books and not enough hours in the day: don’t read them. Instead, feed the books into a computer program and make graphs, maps and charts: it is the best way to get to grips with the vastness of literature. That, at least, is the recommendation of Franco Moretti, a 63-year-old professor of English at Stanford University and unofficial leader of a band of academics bringing a science-fiction thrill to the science of fiction.

For centuries, the basic task of literary scholarship has been close reading of texts. But for digitally savvy academics such as Moretti, literary study doesn’t always require scholars actually to read books. This new approach to literature depends on computers to crunch ‘big data,’ or stores of massive amounts of information, to produce new insights.

Who, for example, would have guessed that, according to a 2011 Harvard study of four per cent (that is, five million) of all the books printed in English, less than half the number of words used are included in dictionaries, the rest being ‘lexical dark matter’? Or that, as a recent study using the same database carried out by the universities of Bristol, Sheffield and Durham reveals, ‘American English has become decidedly more ‘emotional’ than British English in the last half-century’?

Not everyone is convinced by this approach.”

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Aga Khan visting Los Alamos in 1959.

Aga Khan IV, spiritual leader and one of the world’s richest royals, cut quite a cosmopolitan, dashing figure in his younger days, marrying models, skiing competitively, racing horses and posing for photo ops. Here’s a hypnotic documentary about him from 1964.

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The dream of dying by telephone-wire decapitation lives on in Czechoslovakia. Information about a flying bicycle from Digital Trends:The radio-controlled flight was made possible by the bicycle’s six battery-powered propellors, which makes the contraption look a bit like an enormous RC quadcopter. Though the bicycle looked pretty stable during its flight, its large propellors make it look cumbersome to ride and its size means such a bike would face limitations as to where it could go, especially in urban areas. And then there’s all those aforementioned overhead hazards to think about.

Speaking about the project to local news site Ceske Noviny, project participant Ales Kobylik said, ‘Our main motivation in working on the project was neither profit nor commercial interest, but the fulfillment of our boyish dreams.’

The team said they hope to stick a real life human in the saddle this fall, doing away with the need for a radio controller.”

 

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Few endeavors are as top-heavy as the Hollywood film industry, and it has a history of its business model capsizing. Is it due another fall and reinvention, with tent-pole, global fare now the norm? Famous filmmakers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas may not be best poised to see what’s next, but they think titanic change is coming. From Paul Bond at the Hollywood Reporter:

“Steven Spielberg on Wednesday predicted an ‘implosion’ in the film industry is inevitable, whereby a half dozen or so $250 million movies flop at the box office and alter the industry forever. What comes next — or even before then — will be price variances at movie theaters, where ‘you’re gonna have to pay $25 for the next Iron Man, you’re probably only going to have to pay $7 to see Lincoln.’ He also said that Lincoln came ‘this close’ to being an HBO movie instead of a theatrical release.

George Lucas agreed that massive changes are afoot, including film exhibition morphing somewhat into a Broadway play model, whereby fewer movies are released, they stay in theaters for a year and ticket prices are much higher. His prediction prompted Spielberg to recall that his 1982 film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial stayed in theaters for a year and four months.”

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“Their food gave out and for days they lived on rose buds,”

A prospecting party lost its way, most of the miners lost their minds and one, his humanity. From the April 13, 1883 New York Times:

Denver, Col.–The trial of Alfred G. Packer, charged with having murdered his five companions in San Juan County in 1872, in progress at Lake City for the last few days, was concluded to-night, and the case was given to the jury. The evidence shows that a party of six was organized in Southern Utah in 1872 to prospect in Southern Colorado. While in the vicinity of the present site of Lake City a blinding storm came on and the party lost their way. Their food gave out and for days they lived on rose buds. The men became desperate, and some of them went crazy. While his companions were in this condition Packer deliberately fell upon and butchered the whole party, and for several weeks lived on flesh cut from their bodies. During the trial yesterday Packer calmly made a statement taking two hours for its delivery. He related the experience of the party from their setting out from Utah, closing with the most sickening details of the murder and his subsequent feasting on human flesh. He claims that the killing was done in self-defense. The evidence showed that each member of the party, except Packer, possessed quite a large amount of money, upon which Packer has since been living. After nine years wandering he was captured a few weeks ago near Fort Fetterman, Wyoming. While the evidence is entirely circumstantial, yet it is deemed conclusive. A verdict of guilty is confidently expected.”

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A roboticized underground bicycle parking lot. In Japan, of course.

In What’s the Matter with Kansas?, his popular 2005 book about the fall of the Democrats, Thomas Frank explained (bitterly) how his party lost his home state. The subtext was that the Dems needed to win back Kansans–the so-called “heart of America”–if they were to recover on the national stage. What’s happened is more surprising: The Democrats and Kansas have moved further apart than Frank could have foreseen, yet the party roared back anyway. From “Rogue State,” by Mark Binelli in Rolling Stone:

“Once in office, Brownback surprised critics and supporters alike with the fervor of his pursuit of power, pushing what reporter John Gramlich of Stateline described as perhaps ‘the boldest agenda of any governor in the nation: gutting spending on social services and education, privatizing the state’s Medicaid system, undermining the teacher’s union, becoming the only state to entirely abolish funding for the arts, boasting that he would sign any anti-abortion bill that crossed his desk, and – most significantly – pushing through the largest package of tax cuts in Kansas history. His avowed goal is to eliminate the state income tax altogether, a move that many predict will torpedo the budget and engender even more draconian cuts in spending. ‘Other Republican-led states have experimented with many of the same changes,’ Gramlich pointed out – the difference in Kansas being that Brownback ‘wants to make all of those changes simultaneously.’

Since Mitt Romney’s resounding defeat last November, much has been made of the supposed battle for the soul of the Republican party taking place at the national level, where pragmatic establishment types are attempting to win over minorities, women and young people by tamping down the most extreme elements of the Tea Party fringe and moderating stances on issues like gay marriage and immigration. The problem is, in places like Kansas (and Louisiana, and South Carolina, and North Dakota), that fringe has become the political mainstream. In fact, while strategists like Karl Rove urge moderation for the GOP, in Kansas, they’ve been taking the opposite tack. Last fall, Brownback and his allies – including the Koch brothers, the right-wing libertarian billionaires whose company Koch Industries is based in Wichita – staged a primary putsch, lavishing funds on hard-right candidates and effectively purging the state Senate of all but a handful of its remaining moderate Republicans. ‘The Senate was really the bulwark of moderation last term,’ says Tom Holland, a Senate Democrat (there are only eight of them left) who ran against Brownback for governor. ‘With the moderate Republican leadership gone, that just got blown away.’

It’s been nearly 10 years since Thomas Frank wrote about the conservative takeover of his home state in What’s the Matter With Kansas? Back then, Kansas still had a Democratic governor in Kathleen Sebelius. But after last fall’s civil war, Kansas has emerged a more intense shade of red than even Frank imagined. The state legislature is the most conservative in the United States, and now there is absolutely nothing stopping the Brownback revolution – one which happens to be entirely at odds with any notion of the GOP adapting to the broader social and demographic changes in the country. If anything, these purists argue, Republicans lost in 2012 because the party wasn’t conservative enough.

No one can say that about Sam Brownback, who is rumored to be mulling his own presidential run in 2016 – and using Kansas as a sort of laboratory, in which ideas cooked up by Koch-funded libertarian think tanks can be released like viruses on live subjects.”

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One thing lost in the NSA scandal is that while government spying on U.S. citizens may be a permanent part of life, the opposite is equally true: our government can never be sure anymore that it’s operating in secrecy. To some extent, we live in public now. Whether it’s Edward Snowden telling us what’s already obvious, or disclosures that mean something, life is more complicated and transparent because of the tech tools we’ve created, because so much information is out there. A tiny part of it may be dangerous–even treasonbut the great majority–like Snowden’s, will not. But it will occur, it is a part of the foundation now. You can prosecute this person or make a law to limit that entity, but that’s not going to change anyone’s behavior. The tools are there and so is the will to utilize them, whether we’re talking about government agencies or the average person.

But the ceding of privacy by the average American is about something else–a lack of proportion, the fear of the terrible death by terrorism as opposed to a relatively mundane one. It’s about not wanting to experience a loss of control. An analogy: People in the U.S. fear traveling by airplanes far more than by auto, yet there hasn’t been an air fatality from a major airline in the country in more than four years. Check our highway death statistics during the same time frame. From Conor Friedersdorf in the Atlantic:

“Measured in lives lost, during an interval that includes the biggest terrorist attack in American history, guns posed a threat to American lives that was more than 100 times greater than the threat of terrorism. Over the same interval, drunk driving threatened our safety 50 times more than terrorism

Those aren’t the only threats many times more deadly than terrorism, either.

The CDC estimates that food poisoning kills roughly 3,000 Americans every year. Every year, food-borne illness takes as many lives in the U.S. as were lost during the high outlier of terrorism deaths. It’s a killer more deadly than terrorism. Should we cede a significant amount of liberty to fight it?

Government officials, much of the media, and most American citizens talk about terrorism as if they’re totally oblivious to this context — as if it is different than all other threats we face, in both kind and degree. Since The Guardian and other news outlets started revealing the scope of the surveillance state last week, numerous commentators and government officials, including President Obama himself, have talked about the need to properly ‘balance’ liberty and security. 

The U.S. should certainly try to prevent terrorist attacks, and there is a lot that government can and has done since 9/11 to improve security in ways that are totally unobjectionable. But it is not rational to give up massive amounts of privacy and liberty to stay marginally safer from a threat that, however scary, endangers the average American far less than his or her daily commute.”

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I don’t think former NSA employee Edward Snowden did anything particularly heroic in leaking documents that told every American what we should already know: We gave our government the power to spy on us, and it’s exercising that authority. Surprisingly enough, polls show most Americans actually approve of such governmental snooping.

But as Amy Davidson pointed out yesterday at the New Yorker blog, David Brooks’ take on Snowden’s actions in his New York Times column is shockingly tone-deaf. The piece’s soft-headed sociology and demeaning character study are perplexing enough, but what’s really outrageous is the idea that Snowden should have felt too indebted to his employers who improved his life materially to speak out about what he felt was wrongdoing.

This part: “He betrayed his employers. Booz Allen and the C.I.A. took a high-school dropout and offered him positions with lavish salaries. He is violating the honor codes of all those who enabled him to rise.”

Yeah, community college slob, know your place. Be grateful to your betters in the U.S. hierarchy. And, yes, you could just as easily apply Brooks’ logic to Gitmo whistleblowers.

Although this paragraph may be worse: “He betrayed the Constitution. The founders did not create the United States so that some solitary 29-year-old could make unilateral decisions about what should be exposed.” 

Does Brooks feel the same way about the rights of solitary gun owners? Free speech is messy and inconvenient, but it’s of paramount importance, regardless if we agree with what’s being said or if personally approve of the education and financial standing of the speaker. Disagree vociferously, sure, but don’t preempt disagreement.•

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From “Kodak’s Problem Child,” Kenny Suleimanagich’s Medium article about how George Eastman’s marvelous company was laid low by its inability to capitalize on its own innovation:

Chemistry was work that Eastman himself, with one foot still planted in the nineteenth century, well understood. Over the span of about a decade, the Kodak founder invented the first practical roll film and then built the first cameras that could reliably use it. Never again would photography be a cumbersome process, the domain of professionals only.

In his original patent, he wrote that his improvements applied to ‘that class of photographic apparatus known as ‘detective cameras,’’ — concealed and disguised devices, made possible by a new wave of miniaturization, that were used mostly for a lowbrow entertainment: snapping pictures of people unaware. Cameras equipped with single-use chemical plates were hidden in opera glasses, umbrellas, and other everyday objects, and sharing the surreptitious, random, and sometimes compromising photos that resulted became a popular fad.

Eastman, in other words, was obsessively tinkering with what many people at the time would have considered a cheap novelty or a toy. Like Netflix in its early days, Kodak relied on the U.S. Postal Service: Customers sent their spent cameras to Rochester, where the film was removed, processed, and cut into frames; the resulting negatives and prints, along with the camera, reloaded with a fresh roll of film, were returned to the sender. Suddenly it was easy for anyone to take lots of pictures, and Eastman’s new business became a juggernaut almost overnight.

About ninety years later, another tinkerer in Kodak labs would create an integrated circuit that turned light waves into digital images. It too would be labeled a toy by the few people who saw it. It too would eventually launch a huge new business all but overnight. But this time, Kodak wouldn’t be part of it.”

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In his essay for the Atlantic about Silicon Valley politics and tax policy, Kentaro Toyama questions the very limits of meritocracy:

“What’s wrong with a world in which greater intellects hold more power and win greater rewards? At least two things: First, intelligence and productivity are important, but they’re secondary virtues, compared with goodness and sincerity. The road to hell may be paved with good intentions marred by stupidity, but bad intentions backed by brains are hypersonic jet transport to fire and brimstone. The difference was on full display when Cook testified. The Apple CEO is undoubtedly very smart, and on the Senate panel, he revealed a razor sharp social intelligence to boot. Yet, the words that came out of his mouth must rank with ‘we didn’t know tobacco was bad for you’ in their insincerity: ‘We not only comply with the laws, but we comply with the spirit of the laws. We don’t depend on tax gimmicks.’ Really?

The second is that a meritocracy can be just as bad as any other ‘-ocracy’ in reinforcing inequalities unless each generation ensures a fair distribution of merit. Unfortunately, American institutions for nurturing merit — such as its system of formal education — are only becoming less and less egalitarian. Public school funding remains linked to local property taxes, causing cumulative disadvantage; private schooling is becoming the default for rich, ‘meritocratic’ parents, who then care less about what happens in the public system; college is increasingly unaffordable for even the firmly middle class.”

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From the October 25, 1891 New York Times:

Kalamazoo, Mich.–Three lads named Collins and Pfeiffer have been accused by the Very Rev. Frank A. O’Brien of St. Augustine’s Church of crucifying a cat. The boys will not confess, and their parents, who believe them innocent, have withdrawn them from the parochial school. The boys were playing ‘Ober-Ammergau,’ and nailed the feet of the cat to a cross. The tail, interfering, was cut off, and then nailed on. Mrs. Collins says that she was ordered out of the Deanery because she denied the statement that her son had taken part in the crucifixion. Humane Agent Merrill is investigation the affair.”

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"Eat up to 5 sandwiches the whole day and as much drink as you want."

“Take a small walk daily.”

How To Lose Weight

Eat Pickles 10 calories for a whole pickle and diet soda, water and or Wylers Orange drink (tastes like Tang) slice bread with one slice of cheese and one slice of meat no Mayonaise (200 calories).

Eat up to 5 sandwiches the whole day and as much drink as you want. you can have a little coffee in the morning with milk and sugar. total 1000 calories a day. take a multi vitamin. take a small walk daily.

“In the sun, I feel as one…married…buried,” sang the doomed poet, and we’re not feeling so well ourselves. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, what isn’t possible? From Dana Rubinstein at Capital, a report about the awful potential of climate change in NYC:

By the 2050s, the the number of 90-plus degree days could triple, and that could pose risks not only to New Yorkers’ lives, but also to the infrastructure that supports them.

‘Due to the urban heat-island effect, the temperature could be as much as seven degrees higher than it is in areas just around the city,’ said Cas Holloway, Bloomberg’s deputy mayor for operations, who based his remarks on a panel of climate change academics convened by the city.

Images of hazy skies and a straphanger mopping his brow appeared on a screen to his left.

‘It becomes basically like being in an oven beneath the street, and it makes our infrastructure extremely vulnerable.'”

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FromRobot Evolution,” Emily Monosson’s Aeon essay, which concerns the shock of the new and the unpredictable emergent behaviors that can accompany such a thing:

“In a laboratory tucked away in a corner of the Cornell University campus, Hod Lipson’s robots are evolving. He has already produced a self-aware robot that is able to gather information about itself as it learns to walk. Like a Toy Story character, it sits in a cubby surrounded by other former laboratory stars. There’s a set of modular cubes, looking like a cross between children’s blocks and the model cartilage one might see at the orthopaedist’s – this particular contraption enjoyed the spotlight in 2005 as one of the world’s first self-replicating robots. And there are cubbies full of odd-shaped plastic sculptures, including some chess pieces that are products of the lab’s 3D printer.

In 2006, Lipson’s Creative Machines Lab pioneered the Fab@home, a low-cost build-your-own 3D printer, available to anyone with internet access. For around $2,500 and some tech know-how, you could make a desktop machine and begin printing three-dimensional objects: an iPod case made of silicon, flowers from icing, a dolls’ house out of spray-cheese. Within a year, the Fab@home site had received 17 million hits and won a 2007 Breakthrough of the Year award fromPopular Mechanics. But really, the printer was just a side project: it was a way to fabricate all the bits necessary for robotic self-replication. The robots and the 3D printer-pieces populating the cubbies are like fossils tracing the evolutionary history of a new kind of organism. ‘I want to evolve something that is life,’ Lipson told me, ‘out of plastic and wires and inanimate materials.’

Upon first meeting, Lipson comes off like a cross between Seth Rogen and Gene Wilder’s Young Frankenstein (minus the wild blond hair). He exudes a youthful kind of curiosity. You can’t miss his passionate desire to understand what makes life tick. And yet, as he seeks to create a self-assembling, self-aware machine that can walk right out of his laboratory, Lipson is aware of the risks. In the corner of his office is a box of new copies of Out of Control by Kevin Kelly. First published in 1994 when Kelly was executive editor of Wired magazine, the book contemplates the seemingly imminent merging of the biological and technological realms — ‘the born and the made’ — and the inevitable unpredictability of such an event. ‘When someone wants to do a PhD in this lab, I give them this book before they commit,’ Lipson told me. ‘As much as we are control freaks when it comes to engineering, where this is going toward is loss of control. The more we automate, the more we don’t know what’s going to come out of it.’”

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Former U.S. Military Police Officer Brandon Neely, once a guard at Guantanamo, just did an Ask Me Anything at Reddit about the detention camp. An excerpt follows.

______________________

Question:

Did you ever refuse any orders? Please, if you can, elaborate.

Brandon Neely:

No, I never refused any orders. I should have, but I never did.

Question:

What was the worst thing you saw while working at Guantanamo?

Brandon Neely:

I took part in and saw a lot of horrible incidents at Guantanamo, but one incident in particular has always stuck with me.

One day, while on duty at Camp X-Ray, I was assigned to escorting duties. I was at the very back of the camp. There was like a big shed there. This was also where the IRF team was stationed at until called upon. On this day the call came for the IRF team to come to Bravo Block. They made their way to the block and, at the time, I was not doing anything, so I made my way down to the block to watch from the outside of the block. The situation on the block was that a detainee had called a female MP ‘bitch’ a couple times. For punishment, the IRF team was called upon to enter the cage and hog-tie the detainee. The female MP was very upset, yelling ‘Whip his ass!’

The IRF team, along with the camp OIC, approached the detainee’s cage and told him to stop yelling and lay down so he could be restrained. The detainee just stood there, staring at them. The IRF team lined up in position to enter the cage. The OIC unlocked the lock on the cage door and, when this was done, the detainee turned around, went to his knees and placed his hands on the top of his head. The lock was taken off and the cage door was opened. The Number One Man on the IRF team tossed his shield to the side and, with a quick run towards the detainee, hopped in the air and came down on the back of the detainee with his knee (the Number One guy on the IRF team was no small guy). This caused the detainee to fall to the cement floor of the cage with the Number One Man on top of him. Then the whole IRF team was on top of him hitting, punching, and kicking him. It seemed like a long time, but in reality it lasted 15-20 seconds.

While the IRF team was still on top of the detainee someone yelled for the female MP that was called a bitch. She entered the cage and she punched the detainee a couple times in the head and then left the cage. Everyone in the cage stood up and the detainee laid there cuffed-up but motionless and unresponsive. Next thing I saw were medics coming from the medical house with a stretcher. They left the block with the detainee on the stretcher; they took him to a waiting military ambulance and was transported to the main hospital. The IRF team would ride along with the detainee. I went back to work not fully knowing what was wrong or what happened to the detainee.

Later that night, after we had been off for a while, the IRF team came back from the hospital. They would go on and talk about how they hit and punched the detainee and how they held him down so the female MP could hit him a couple times. They went on to talk about the ambulance ride saying no one spoke and it was a very silent ride. One of them even stated the detainee went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance. I do not know if this statement is true or not. I know the camp OIC of this incident would joke many times about how he never heard his name and ‘war crimes’ in the same sentence so many times in his life.

Eventually the detainee would return back to the camp from the hospital. About a week or so later I was assigned to work Bravo Block, and the block NCOIC happened to be a member of the IRF team. He was the Number One Man of the day of this incident. When the NCOIC walked onto the block a detainee named Feroz Abbasi yelled “Sergeant, have you come back to finish him off?”•

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Economist Andrew McAfee uses his TED Talk to imagine the future of work in a roboticized world.

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A wart that grew a man, Morton Downey Jr. was his generation’s Joe Pyne, a fun-house mirror of a media personality, held up to the absolute worst in American culture. His show was a sick and violent sideshow but mostly a con, save the host’s outrage, which was real and came from some unknown personal wounds.

Every generation gets the Joe Pyne they deserve, and in our time it’s Alex Jones, who doesn’t offer carnival-ish physical violence from inside a confined studio but something worse: scary conspiracy theories, threats of violence and utter hatred sent out to the like-minded. It’s not a purging but a rallying cry.

It makes sense that as most of the culture improves and progresses, that a stubborn strain of it gets worse, becomes a raging illness.

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To follow up on what I posted earlier about the age of surveillance:

Let’s say it becomes obvious that quite a few major-league baseball players are using performance-enhancing drugs. Fans are outraged. They’re cheating, threatening the integrity of the game. But what if safe performance-enhancing drugs gradually become available to the general public. The average person can become stronger and healthier by taking such supplements. The fans themselves are “juiced,” so to speak, sitting in the stands. Would we be able to hold athletes to a standard that the rest of society isn’t held to?

Now consider this scenario: One part of our nation is conducting deep surveillance of citizens. People are outraged. They’re intruding, threatening our liberties. But what if such surveillance gradually became widespread in every other part of society? What if corporations, government, hackers and the average citizen were all doing it? What if new tools made it common? Would we be able to hold any single aspect of society (government, say) to a standard that the rest of society isn’t held to?

Whether we like it or not, once a thing become pervasive, it is tacitly accepted. Fighting it becomes as ridiculous as any other prohibition that runs counter to mass activity. We realize that the thing we supposedly fear is now the new normal.•

"Those of the neighbors who had young sons and daughters set about to rid the village of the evangelist and his followers."

“Those of the neighbors who had young sons and daughters set about to rid the village of the evangelist and his followers.”

A charismatic if questionable vegetarian cult leader with an oddly spelled surname descended upon a New Jersey town toward the end of the 19th century and general oddness and attempted fraud ensued. From the April 25, 1893 New York Times:

Hackensack, N.J.–Nine religious fanatics were taken to the Hackensack (N.J.) jail this afternoon and placed in charge of Sheriff Albert Bogert.

The leader is Hunstman T. Mnason, the well-known evangelist, who has been in jail before, once for enticing two young girls to leave their homes and join his religious band.

Four years ago Mnason settled in Park Ridge on the New-Jersey and New-York Railroad, and at once set about to form a band to praise God in his own peculiar way.

He became acquainted with the family of Herman Storms, a rich farmer, whose property is valued at $10,000. The farmer did not like the new arrival, but the new religious habits were forcibly impressed upon Mrs. Maria Storms, her son Garry, and daughter Mary, both past their teens. Jane Howell, Mrs. Minnie Stewart, and Eliza Berry were also induced to join the band.

Lately the band was increased by two long-haired men, who called themselves ‘Silas’ and ‘John the Baptist.’ The neighbors noticed that the newcomers worked on Sunday, and about twice a month held what was called an ‘angel dance.’ All were scantily robed and waved a huge blanket with which to drive away the devil.

Those of the neighbors who had young sons and daughters set about to rid the village of the evangelist and his followers. 

A short time ago three of them were arrested for working on Sunday, and two served four days in the Hackensack jail for the offense.

To-day the whole band was arrested, charged with conspiring to cheat and defraud Herman Storms out of his property. The agreement had been drawn up by which Garry Storms was to have the property and the elder Storms should receive $100 and board and clothing for the remainder of his days. All were to meet in Justice W.B. Smith’s office at Park Ridge this afternoon, and witness the signature to the agreement, but they were all placed under arrest and got a hearing immediately afterward.

The affadavit, in part, states:

‘The conspirators, deny, ridicule, and curse all regular religion and religious customs, recognize no Sabbath, and set up a false god of their own, declaring the said Mnason to be the only true and living God, in consequence of which the household of Herman Storms has been put under a petty and grinding despotism, under the dogmatic rule of Huntsman T. Mnason, aided and abetted by his said co-conspirators, wherein unseemly revelry often occurs and disorder reigns, and the laws of society, religion, and State are defied and reviled, to the scandal of the neighborhood and great injury to public morals.’

Several testified against the evangelists at the hearing before Justices Smith and Wortendyke.

Herman Storms testified that Mnason refused to have meat in the house and also refused to allow him the use of his own wagons and horses. The witness gave a vivid sketch of the angel dance.

He said that Mnason ordered the women to get up on the breakfast table and dance around the eatables before food was partaken. Though the property was to be transferred to Garry, Mrs. Storms’s son, it was generally believed that Mnason would soon have secured control and ownership of it.”

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Part of an 1969 interview David Frost conducted with Truman Capote, who was already four years into a long decline, having published his masterpiece, In Cold Blood, in 1965, after a long struggle, with cycles of celebrity, scandal, addiction and rehab awaiting him. When I was a small child, I was taking a bus trip with my parents from the Port Authority, and we saw Capote seated on the benches, wearing a big straw hat, wasted out of his mind. He was trying to get a homeless woman to talk to him. She had no interest.

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From the New York Times, a look back at 1991’s Biosphere 2, that boondoggle, which was supposed to be an air-tight test run for space colonization. It ended up being something less.

Americans have apparently realized in just the last few days that the Patriot Act combined with tons of our information online means that spying is easier than ever–and probably legal. Hopefully, we’re a little more aware that 3D printers, with all the great things they can do, will also lead to some problems. Staples begins selling one this month. From Singularity Hub:The latest sign of the 3D printer home invasion? Retail office supply chain, Staples, says they’ll sell the 3D Systems Cube 3D Printer online and in retail stores by the end of June.

The $1,300 Cube connects to your home PC over Wi-Fi, allowing it to access and print 3D digital templates in plastic. The printer can print shapes that fit inside a cube 5.5″ to a side. Printing cartridges come in 16 colors which, along with other accessories, may also be purchased at Staples.”

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