media and science

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Trump just banned EPA employees from posting on social media

  • Trump has instituted a social media ban for employees at the Environmental Protection Agency, the AP reported on Tuesday.
  • EPA employees are now banned from posting updates on social media or giving updates to the press.
  • News broke on Monday that the EPA is under orders from the Trump administration to freeze its grant programs, which include funding for education, water testing and air quality monitoring.
  • The Huffington Post reported on Monday that it’s unclear whether the freeze will be indefinite. Read more

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I usually say my favourite genre of speculative fiction is post-apocalyptic, but really, it’s more like… post-post-apocalyptic. You know, milieux where the immediacy of the apoclyptic crisis has passed and the struggle to survive and rebuild is no longer the narrative focus - basically, slice-of-life stories that just happen to be set amid the vast and incomprehensible ruins of some inconceivable precursor civilisation.

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Lauren Southern informs Protester that she is a man. (The Deploraball, a gala event on Thursday night for Trump supporters.)

Lauren is literally the Queen people lol

God Bless Lauren Southern

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Iain De Caestecker On How LMD’s Will Effect Agents Of SHIELD.

“A love triangle? I don’t see there being a love triangle. I hope not. I think Fitz and Simmons have been through enough. For Fitz to go and have relations with a mechanical instrument would probably be a bit of a waste of time, in the long term.”

In a situation where the ruling minority asserts, falsely, that it represents the desires of the majority, what can politicians and citizens do to ensure that the true majority sentiment is represented?

Most critically, the majority position must consistently broadcast that theirs is the more popular view. The key factor driving unpopular norms is the misperception of public opinion. Wherever possible, reliable data on the true majority sentiment should be brought to the table and emphasized relentlessly.

Journalists have a role to play in making sure that false impressions of the public’s political views do not take root. Since the election, a view has emerged of Donald Trump as a clever and evasive politician who is able to upend existing policies and standards of decorum without consequence. But this narrative is false. Trump has taken a significant hit in the polls for pursuing an unpopular agenda.
theatlantic.com
One Dose of This Illegal Drug Can Stop Depression for Months
A landmark pair of studies shows that giving people with depression and anxiety magic mushrooms made them better for months.
By Olga Khazan

The researchers aren’t sure exactly how psilocybin works—a rather common problem in drugs aimed at brain chemistry. Psilocybin seems to quiet the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain where increased activity has been associated with depression. It also might be acting on the brain’s use of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that affects learning and memory. Ross said what might be happening is a sort of “inverse PTSD”—a profoundly positive memory that affects participants for months, much like a severe trauma might in post-traumatic stress disorder.

It’s also possible that the sheer mysticism of the experience was enough to prompt a change in mood. “There’s a sacredness or a reverence to that experience … it’s also accompanied by positive mood, in the sense of an open-heartedness, love or benevolence,” Griffiths said. Participants might have a sense that “the experience is more real and more true than everyday waking consciousness. Although the effects of the drugs are gone by the end of the day, the memories of these experiences and the attributions made to them endure.” It’s not uncommon, he said, for study participants to say they think about their psilocybin experience every day.

Expanding the Definition of “Canon”: Queer Coding in Media

I know this might be a controversial opinion, but I don’t believe that a fictional character has to explicitly state that they’re LGBTQ+ in order to be canonically queer. That’s pretty unrealistic tbh, unless they story is explicitly about them coming out or something like that. 

For me personally, I very rarely say the sentence “I’m bisexual” unless I’m coming out to someone (which I do very rarely because it’s uncomfortable and oftentimes not their business) or answering a direct question about my sexuality. In general, I’ve found that queer people usually have a pretty good sense of who else is queer even if that person has never stated it. I’ve never claimed to have a great “gaydar” (partially because I feel like that term has been overused by straight women looking for Gay Best Friends and I want to stay far away from that mess), but I’ve found that I’ve gotten pretty good at recognizing the way that queer people talk about their relationships and sexuality without explicitly talking about it. There’s a certain way of subtly trying to feel out whether other people are queer around you, and certain ways of talking that tend to indicate queerness. 

For a few real-life examples, I once made a really quick comment in my Chinese class about how just because a guy didn’t have a girlfriend didn’t mean he was single. Literally no one in my class noticed except for my gay male classmate, who later came up to me and was like “Hey, I see what you did there.” Or on another occasion, there was a girl who didn’t present in a way that people stereotypically associate with queerness; in fact, I’d venture to say that 99% of  straight people would read her as straight. My first conversation with her was literally less than a minute long, but I got a certain vibe from her and sure enough, I saw her on tinder two days later (later on in the summer, we made out, but that’s irrelevant to my point besides confirming that she wasn’t just on tinder looking for friends). 

For some more general examples, I’ve found that oftentimes queer people will refer to their exes or their significant others in gender neutral terms; just yesterday, I said “my ex” instead of “my ex-girlfriend” because I was talking to someone I just met and didn’t know how they felt about LGBTQ folks. Another thing is presentation. Not all queer people present a certain way, but there are certain ways of presenting that are associated with queerness, and some people present that way intentionally so that other queer folks will pick up on it. I saw a post on tumblr recently by a WLW saying that she could recognize WLW in clubs because every woman she’d ever seen who went out without a “clubbing outfit” ended up being a WLW. Obviously, this isn’t 100% accurate, but thinking back, I realized that it was shockingly accurate in my own experience.

I’m getting back to my original point soon, but the point I’ve been trying to make is that LGBTQ folks have ways of recognizing each other and ways of letting themselves be recognized, both intentional and subconscious. More importantly, these things, obvious as they may be to LGBTQ folks, fly completely over straight people’s heads. Which means that for writers in media, it would actually be pretty easy to slip a queer character into a piece of media without straight people ever realizing it. 

Think about it: how do people know that fictional characters are straight? It’s rarely because the character says “I’m straight.” Usually people assume based on their heterosexual relationships and the fact that the characters’ experiences line up with their own as a heterosexual person. Likewise, there are certain characters who never talk explicitly about their sexuality and may not have a queer relationship onscreen, but based on these little cues that I can pick up, I can tell you with absolute confidence that they’re queer. 

Now, I’m not talking about cases like Dumbledore, where JK Rowling, a straight woman, retconned a character who (to my recollection) was not particularly queer coded as gay in an attempt to gain ally points. And I’m also not talking about the fandom practice of queer fans claiming a character as their own and headcanoning that they’re queer despite lack of evidence or evidence to the contrary in canon (a practice which I wholeheartedly support, by the way. If we don’t get representation, we damn fucking well can make our own out of any character we want). I’m talking about how in the new Ghostbusters movie, pretty much ever WLW who watched it took one look at Holtzmann’s character and said “Yep, she’s one of ours.”

This is why I find it so frustrating to see fandom arguments about the sexuality of a character whose sexuality is “ambiguous.” It’s hard to argue with straight fans because they simply do not see the really obvious evidence that queer fans are seeing because they’ve never had reason to look for it. (Some cases are complicated because the writers are queerbaiting, but that’s a whole different issue). But the fact that straight people don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there, and it does not mean that it’s not canon, especially if the writers are LGBTQ. 

I don’t have a catchy way to wrap this up, but basically my point is that queerness can be signified in media by much more than front-and-center queer relationships or an explicit declaration of sexuality, and coding characters as queer through more subtle details is just as canon and just as valid as a character singing a musical number about “Gettin’ Bi.” 

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I have something to say… and I’m not ashamed… some tv is wonderful…

Okay so here’s the thing: for all 21 years of my life I have never actually considered any sort of job related to math or science to be attainable or even rational, beyond like teaching accounting.

I can’t remember one adult ever asking me “oh are you going to be a scientist when you grow up?” in a non-joking voice. All the stupid tv shows and movies I’ve seen convinced me that becoming an overnight international pop star was more attainable than an interesting career in STEM. And when a scientist or mathematician was portrayed? Either a graying old man, or an astounding prodigy who can list any fact in the world off faster than google. Never a young person who simply had a dream they were willing to fight for.

It’s because of this that I’ve spent the last, god who knows, 8 years? swearing up and down that I was going to become a teacher. Because I was convinced that was the only job I could get where I could use mathematics beyond balancing a company’s checkbook.

But today on a whim I decided to look up if NASA offered internship programs. What did I find? Innumerable opportunities related to mathematics; not only at NASA but other organizations and departments of government as well. Not only do careers exist, there are internships available to high school students.

I could have been preparing for opportunities like this since high school, but I didn’t because I didn’t know they existed. I spent my entire life thinking that my love of math and science could only work into a career in teaching, just to discover I’ve been living in the tiniest box.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like these opportunities are easy. In order to progress to a career many require doctorates, and there is quite a thorough application process. But that’s a process I would’ve been, and am, willing to do. I just wish I had known sooner it was an option.

So now I’m preparing to make an appointment with my adviser, so we can look at grad school and which area of math I should focus on. And god I just want to cry. When the realization struck me earlier that working with researchers and advanced mathematics is something I could actually do, I literally sat on the floor in complete shock for a good twenty minutes.

Now don’t get me wrong, careers in teaching are very important. The children need a good education. But for gods sake we have to stop portraying advanced areas of STEM as unattainable for anyone who is less than a prodigy. We need to let children know that their love of science and numbers isn’t useless. It can be more than just play. It can be real life.

And I really wish somebody had told me that sooner so I wouldn’t be crying like this.

Technological progress does bring considerable benefits. But those benefits are enjoyed primarily by the members of the generation that first acquire new technologies. Later generations get these benefits to a lesser degree but are expected to tidy up the messes.
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Perceiving Light at Trillion Frames per second !!

I have shown these gifs time and again to people, but they don’t believe me at first when i tell them that this is indeed Light, at a staggering Trillion Frames per second! This was achieved by a technique known as femto-photography at MIT Media Lab.

Is that really how a single photon of light looks?

Unfortunately no! If the experiment was conducted with just one single photon, or with a very small amount of photons, a complete picture of the interaction of the light could not be achieved.

So, what you are actually seeing are Pulses! Pulses contain many photons and the photons interact with each other as well. 

Ergo, this is indeed Light- Light that travels at 299 792 458 m / s captured by Human Intelligence! Wows me every single time!

Thirsty for more?

Check out the TED Talk by Ramesh Raskar.

What are “Knotty Objects?” Next week’s MIT Media Lab​ summit explores the idea of four objects—the brick, the bitcoin, the steak, and the phone—that entangle practices, processes, and policies. When successful, they’re transformative. MoMA curator Paola Antonelli collaborated with Neri Oxman and Kevin Slavin of the MIT Media Lab to organize this summit, which will convene designers, scientists, authors, and curators to explore design at the intersection of science, engineering, and cultural production. You can join in remotely via live streams of events and by searching the hashtag #knottyobjects.