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It's been a while, hasn't it?

The NY Times strives for accuracy in all things My-Little-Pony-related.

Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful evaluation of the Ron Paul phenomenon, viewing his rise to prominence through the lens of the Louis Farrakhan phenomenon of the 80s and early 90s.

The US Navy has rescued an Iranian fishing boat from Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea. We really need to start charging a fee for this kind of shit, especially in the case of countries that want us to stay out of their business except in cases where they need us to clean up a mess of theirs.

In a WTF of truly epic proportions, a Dallas teen was accidentally deported to Columbia. Apparently, the girl has been reunited with her family, but there are still a lot of questions about how this happened. I expect it's a case of badly staffed bureaucratic agencies, good old-fashioned human error, and the ever-present ugliness of racial profiling all coming together to make a scandal broth. I mean, let's be real here. No blonde-haired, blue-eyed valley girl would have ended up in this situation. I don't want to tar an entire system here, but immigration policies in this country clearly need to change.

Stephen Hawking will turn 70 this month, and the New Scientist has an exclusive interview.

And, finally, John Oliver explains American political practice in one of the Daily Show's best segments ever:

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NASA's Hubble telescope has discovered that Pluto has a fourth moon. Go on with your bad self, Pluto.

Illustrations from the golden age of artillery.

A traditional Japanese tea ceremony has been held at the memorial site of the USS Arizona for the victims of Pearl Harbor. The ceremony to honor the souls of the dead was a joint effort undertaken in the spirit of peace and reconciliation--something that the recent ugliness surrounding the Women's World Cup demonstrates we are still very much in need of.

Thandie Newton is a beautiful woman, inside and out.

An astonishing story from The New York Times: Nearly ten years ago, Mark Anthony Stroman--acting in response to the events of 9/11--shot three men he believed were Arabs; two of them died. One of them, Rais Bhuiyan, who was partially blinded and disfigured by the attack, is fighting to help Stroman achieve a stay of execution. The article includes statements from both men, which are harrowing at the same time that they are remarkable.

It's tempting, in a situation like this, to lay blame solely at the feet of individuals, without really thinking about the effects of environment upon their actions. But the reality is that we live in a country with a rapidly dumbing population; a population that is fed fear and religious zeal and a sense of entitlement from infancy to acts of adulthood. I'm inspired by Mr. Bhuiyan's attempts here to make a point about the need for greater discourse between people of all classes and creeds; about the need for thought ahead of retributive action. I hope he succeeds.
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165 years for us; one year for Neptune. Welcome back, buddy.

Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has got a debt limit plan. Ezra Klein breaks down how said plan is actually both politically savvy and geared toward ending a major threat to the American economy. A number of could-care-less politicians are, predictably, already against it.

North Dakota isn't actually really a state, but they're going to fix that real soon. Not before the rest of us crack the hell up, though.

A man is killed in Yellowstone after encountering a mama grizzly and her cubs. I realize that bear threats are pretty slim (my father and I encountered a brown bear and cubs once in Yosemite National Park and escaped unscathed), but this is still an excellent illustration of one of the many reasons why I don't particularly care for the great outdoors. Bugs and a lack of running water are the other key reasons. ;)

If Superman was real, this is what we'd do with him.

The recall process in Wisconsin is ongoing, and Republicans there are naturally doing their utmost to swing things in their favor. But so far it doesn't seem to be working. Maybe there's some hope for this place yet.

But, then again, maybe not. The recent freak-out over Michelle Obama having a calorie-heavy meal argues for the continued dominance of the histrionic elements of American culture.

Buster Keaton: Bangable Dude in History. Me-ow!

And finally, here's a cool review of the film I went to see in New York this past weekend: Yakuza Weapon.
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Caryn Rivadeneira over at ThinkChristian talks about things that Christians can appreciate about the Slutwalk trend. She suggests that violence against women can occur no matter what a woman wears (and not as a result of it) and that ending said violence is a moral imperative that all Christians should advocate for. That's my kind of believer.

At the same time, John McWhorter over at The Root thinks people should stop using the Bible to justify homophobia. After all, he notes, it used to be used to justify racism, and we've managed to move on from that. (For the most part, in my opinion. At the very least, it's harder to get away with using the Bible in such a way in public. Privately, I think a lot of that kind of nonsense still goes on.)

After fifteen-plus years in production, Pixar is finally putting out a film with a female as the main protagonist. And about darn time, too. (Note: don't bother throwing Elastigirl, or Jessie, or Dory at me. I said "main" protagonist.)

The Art Newspaper explores the question of whether or not the release of Ai Weiwei means that the Chinese government is easing up on its policy against dissent. And the answer is no.

Wanna learn the history of English in ten minutes? It's a lot of fun. (Watch out for that guy with the axe!)

Linda Holmes breaks down the recent furor over the Oxford University PR department's decision to do away with the Oxford comma. Holmes does a really good job of explaining why the Oxford comma makes sentences so much cleaner and clearer by its presence, and also of embodying the silly attachment that all of us language nerds have to peculiar pieces of grammar while pointing out just how not silly attachment to Oxford commas is. I'm an Oxford comma girl, myself, you know. In fact, they can have my Oxford commas when they pry them from my cold, dead fingers. 'Nuff said.

Ezra Klein on Amazon's bad sales tax behavior. I imagine a lot of the fuss could be solved if states just got around to passing laws that imposed sales tax for products being purchases by people in their state. Let's see Amazon decide never to sell anything to California because they don't want to pay sales tax.

Evolutionary biologist Mark Chengizi thinks that the wrinkles that develop on wet hands are our body's natural attempt to increase grip capabilities in inclement weather.

Only in Japan will you see a tv commercial wherein businessman sing about the woes of summertime itchy-crotch syndrome.
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Terry Moore explains that we've all been tying our shoes wrong for years in a vintage talk from TED.

In a peculiar study men, rather than women, are found to benefit the most from cultural outings like art museums and the theater. Meanwhile, women's health and happiness was improved by sporting events and church attendance. Which might explain why I will, apparently, never be happy. I enjoy the periodic ball game, but I'll be caught dead before I go to church. I demand a re-study.

Scientists have found untold numbers of rogue gas giant planets throughout the Milky Way Galaxy and are now hypothesizing that said gas giants--with their amazing asteroid trapping abilities--might be responsible for the relative peace that the smaller, more interior, rocky planets (like ours!) enjoy. Yay for gas giants!

Krugman talks about the looming possibility that we may be heading for a third depression. This type of stuff seriously freaks me out, but I feel honor-bound to share it. Heads in the sand won't help us here.

A scathing look at the myth of "post-racial-ness" from Feministing. The reality of race in the US is another thing that people have got to get their goddamn heads out of the sand about.

Eddie Vedder turns to the ukelele on his newest solo album. And you can listen to it in its entirety until its May 31st release. (FYI: Eddie's cover of "Dream a Little Dream" is particularly sweet.)
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NASA + Art = Awesome. The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum is hosting an exhibition of NASA-inspired art. Works by such artists as Annie Lebowitz, Alexander Calder, and Andy Warhol (to name but a few) will be featured. The show runs from May 28 to October 9 and is free to the public.

NPR's "All Songs Considered" explores [electronic] dance fever in its latest online broadcast. A must-listen for all those who like to shake their booties.

In other music news, blogger Kismet Nuñez discusses how Beyonce's latest single "Run the World (Girls)" broke the Internet and more importantly what the breakage and its cause means to feminist discourse.

Democrat Kathy Hochul has won the special election for a congressional seat in a traditionally Republican New York district. The outcome of this election will now be characterized as either a referendum on Republican health care policy--specifically the backlash against the Ryan Plan--or a demonstration of how the Tea Party movement is to the Republicans what the Green Party movement has been to the Democrats: namely, a vote-killer. Tea Party candidate Jack Davis took a whopping 9% of the vote, and that 9% might arguably have gone to the Republican nominee in his absence. I really wish someone would do a rundown of numbers over the course of this contest to try and get at more nuanced determination of how the Ryan Plan and the Tea Party actually impacted on this election. And if I see one, you can bet you will too.

Eric Cantor continues to show off his repugnant side. (You all remember his role in the censorship of the Hide/Seek exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, I hope.) He's latest despicable act is the holding hostage of relief aid for Joplin, Missouri in exchange for cuts in federal spending. Now I recognize that some spending cuts are necessary, although they must be implemented in tandem with tax increases--something that Cantor and his party vehemently oppose--but using the pain and suffering of thousands as cudgel to push this kind of legislation through is deplorable. And I really, really hope that the Angry Black Bitch isn't the only one to call him out on it before this is all over.

Goodnight, Sweet Prince. NASA is ceasing its attempts to communicate with the Martian Rover Spirit, whose last transmission home occurred in March. Spirit's original mission was intended to last only three months, but his determination pushed him on through years of vital exploration endeavors across the Martian landscape. He will be missed.

You just can't beat schlock horror films, or their LOLariously awesome jacket art. (I really, really want to see Lurking Fear. And Night of the Demon, too, because its about Bigfoot!)

Obacchi Jacket Lunch Box shows us how to make a bento box look like the cover to Phoenix's "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix." Fun for the whole family.
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Because the world is just so interesting.

Cibo Matto return! (And it's about darn time.)

Ezra Klein talks to Robert Rubin about the difference between the 1995 and 2011 debt ceiling crises.

Jeffrey Goldberg calls the NY Times out on their deplorable coverage of rape cases, and specifically points out some of the ethical questions involved in journalistic treatments of this particular crime.

An interview with the incomparable Stephen Hawking. More personal than scientific, but cool nonetheless.

Murder ballads have always been interesting, especially when you consider the gender-weighting that typically goes on in them. Murder ballads performed by women are therefore even more interesting.

May 2014

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