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An artist's concept of what it would be like to stand on the surface of exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (IPAC).

Against the new male American Girl doll (as previously discussed, ghosting/Mumford et al).

Perhaps the most offensive thing about Logan (besides the fact that his fanfared debut implies these spunky, self-sufficient girls needed a boy in their lives) is that, like the other rootless dolls in American Girl’s bland “contemporary” lines, he is marketed as interesting not because of his historical connections, but because he is available for purchase.

Claims of a unique relationship to a unique landscape color Japanese ecology with conservatism.

Fascinating longread on the historical and intellectual holes in the tendency, by Japanese and Westerners, to think of the country as having a special relationship with nature, while obfuscating the industrial sources of environmental degradation.

"If the current global environmental crisis is to be taken seriously, what is needed is neither cultural exceptionalism masquerading as environmentalism nor vitalism."


I only realized it was serious when I got to prison.

Profiles of Syrian teenagers who inadvertently sparked the country's civil war with relatively innocuous political graffiti.
↩︎ The Globe and Mail
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Since 2006, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has deported hundreds of thousands of immigrants on chartered planes, effectively running its own airline, ICE Air Operations

ICE Air Operations—with agency hubs in Louisiana, Arizona, Florida, and Texas—transported 930,435 detainees at an average of $8,419 per flight-hour for charters, including crew, fuel, and maintenance, said the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security in an audit of the program (pdf) conducted between October 2010 and March 2014. The agency paid $464 million for charter flights in that period.

Credit: Tony Hisgett.

After two years of poor endowment performance, schools are starting to shy away from hedge funds.

While the stock market rose last year, college endowments dropped by two percent—largely because of a bad year by the hedge funds that schools increasingly shackle themselves to in hopes of capturing the same huge gains seen by endowments at Ivies with their own in-house funds. 

Last year the University of California garnered attention for deciding to quit some hedge fund relationships. This came after news got out that the state had been paying billions in fees for average performance.


To use the Forex terminology, Trump is a cyclical correction of the market... It must be repeated that this is a long-standing American political tradition, deeply rooted in national mentality, which by chance drifted into the shadow after the Cold War. 

A nuanced Russian view of Trump's significance. "Russia actually wanted to see such a president in the United States, not Trump personally but his type, understandable and not overly disposed towards political correctness. The dream has come true."
↩︎ Global Affairs

The Islamic State is getting more sophisticated at weaponizing drones, stoking fears of attacks on civilians.

Officials say the terrorist group has crossed a threshold with its use of unmanned aircraft, using them to drop bombs on Iraqi troops.

But what comes next, and what follows that, is where people are really concerned.

The threat to troops is serious enough to prompt US and Iraqi commanders to issue warnings to soldiers near the front lines. But a far bigger worry, U.S. officials say, is the potential for future attacks against civilians. Islamist militants have long discussed the possibility of using drones as remote-controlled missiles that can deliver explosives or even unconventional weapons such as deadly nerve agents. In recent weeks, the notion of terrorist drones has moved a step closer to reality, terrorism experts say.


File under the curiously entertaining: A brief history of the laundry chute.

The early linen chute was a kind of integral space modeled after those waste, mail, and ash chutes that were fashioned in parallel with chutes of industrial size. An 1891 article in The New York Times describes the recent appearance of “A Chute to the Laundry” built into tenement houses by an ingenious architect. The author adds, perhaps facetiously, that “occupants who have lived in blocks provided with similar postal conveniences will be cautioned against sending their correspondence to be washed.”

Credit: David Wright

The small Japanese town of Oji appears to have a new mascot, partially in a bid to develop tourism: a quadcopter doggy drone named Yukimaru.

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