black mass at Harvard cancelled

Because knowledge is dangerous, and we certainly wouldn't want college students learning stuff and having ideas challenged.

Harvard Black Mass Cancelled Amid Controversy (Boston Magazine)

After intense scrutiny from top religious leaders, Harvard administrators, and their fellow classmates—not to mention lack of a proper venue—the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club backed down from hosting a controversial reenactment and demonstration of a Satanic “Black Mass.”

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The group had originally decided to move the ritual off campus, away from Harvard’s Queen’s Head Pub in Memorial Hall, due to increasing complaints coming in from every corner of the community...

At no point did administrators tell students to call off the ritual, citing the club’s rights to free speech and assembly, however, Faust did call the plan “abhorrent” and “deeply regrettable.”

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But a less-public version of the Black Mass was still reportedly held at the Hong Kong bar just steps away from Harvard’s main campus area, according to group members from the Satanic Cult.

killing people is psychologically corrosive

If killing a human being is not disruptive to someone's mental and spiritual well-being, that person should probably not be walking around free.

The Executioner's Lament (NPR.org)

"This is not normal behavior for right-minded humans to engage in," says Steve Martin, who participated in several executions in Texas in the 1980s. His job was to man the phones in case of a reprieve. He says the whole process is emotionally crippling.

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"People don't realize," he says, "you just killed somebody, and you've been a part of it, and it affects all of us."

Carroll Pickett was the chaplain at 95 executions in Texas through the mid-1990s. He remembers one time when prison staff spent 40 minutes trying to find a vein until the inmate sat up and helped them. "Some of them would go outside and throw up," he says.

Over time, Pickett says, the staff unraveled. "And these were some good, good men. Basically, they all left. Every one of them," he says.

will Barnes & Noble stores survive the year?

Will the death of the Big Bookstore mean the end of bookstores? Or will it re-open the market for small stores with more curated offerings?

Barnes & Noble: Gone By New Year’s | Focus Magazine of SWFL

This may be the last year that Barnes & Noble bookstores remain open.

It’s bad news for people who love books. It’s worse news for the next generation of readers, who may never experience buying a book in a bookstore.

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...Serendipity — the sweet surprise of happening upon an unexpected book — is an experience that can happen only in a bookstore.

"we kill people based on metadata"

Apologists for NSA surveillance sometimes claim that the "metadata" they are collecting isn't really important. One big problem with that...

'We Kill People Based on Metadata'

by David Cole

Of course knowing the content of a call can be crucial to establishing a particular threat. But metadata alone can provide an extremely detailed picture of a person’s most intimate associations and interests, and it’s actually much easier as a technological matter to search huge amounts of metadata than to listen to millions of phone calls. As NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker has said, “metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody’s life. If you have enough metadata, you don’t really need content.” When I quoted Baker at a recent debate at Johns Hopkins University, my opponent, General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and the CIA, called Baker’s comment “absolutely correct,” and raised him one, asserting, “We kill people based on metadata.”

Turkish double wife killer: "I won't kill number 3"

" "The woman who will marry me should not be afraid that I would kill her." Now there's a true romantic.

'I won't kill number 3', says Turkish double wife killer (Yahoo News)

A Turkish man who was kicked out of a TV dating show after revealing he had killed his two previous partners made a stirring romantic pitch by vowing not to kill a third wife.

The audience of the "Luck of the Draw" game show was gobsmacked Thursday when Sefer Calinak, a bald 62-year-old contestant sporting a heart-framed name tag, calmly explained he was a convicted double murderer.

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Vibram settles suits about health claims

Interesting. Now, given that "traditional" running shoes seem to increase the risk of injury, when will we see Nike get destroyed?

Adidas is facing a similar suit over its minimal running shoe.

A barefoot runner's take is here.

(I'm still doing my running in PF Fliers with drug-store padded inserts for a little extra shock absorption and a brace on the injured ankle.)

Vibram Agrees to Settle Class Action Lawsuit (Runner's World & Running Times)

Vibram USA, the company that makes FiveFingers running shoes, has agreed to settle a lawsuit that alleged the company made false and unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits of its glove-like footwear. According to the court filings, Vibram settled to put the matter to rest and avoid any additional legal expenses. “Vibram expressly denied and continues to deny any wrongdoing alleged in the Actions, and neither admits nor concedes any actual or potential fault, wrongdoing or liability,” read the court brief.

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becoming a cyborg on a budget

A wee bit cheaper than Six Million Dollars...

WUSTL students ‘print’ pink prosthetic arm for teen girl | Newsroom | Washington University in St. Louis

Thirteen-year-old Sydney Kendall had one request for the Washington University in St. Louis students building her a robotic prosthetic arm: Make it pink.

Kendall Gretsch, Henry Lather and Kranti Peddada, seniors studying biomedical engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, accomplished that and more. Using a 3-D printer, they created a robotic prosthetic arm out of bright-pink plastic. Total cost: $200, a fraction of the price of standard prosthetics, which start at $6,000.

best unordered merchandise ever

According to the FTC -- part of the U.S government -- If you receive merchandise that you didn’t order, you have a legal right to keep it as a free gift.

The Feds Accidentally Mailed Their $350K Drone to Some College Kid (Motherboard)

A Redditor got more than he bargained for in the mail today: He was accidentally mailed parts to a $350,000 environment and wildlife monitoring drone owned by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration.

David Miller, a spokesperson for NOAA, told me he’s not sure how the wings and control panel to a NOAA Puma drone, which the agency uses to measure ocean debris, conduct seabird surveys, and monitor ocean habitats, ended up in the hands of the Redditor, but believes that UPS somehow erred and delivered it to the college student.

SCOTUS manages to crap on 20% of the Bill of Rights in one day

In a rare two-fer, the Supreme Court managed to disregard two-tenths of the Bill of Rights in one day. It allowed the town of Greece, New York, to continue its unconstitutional establishment of religion via prayers at public meetings:

U.S. Supreme Court backs prayer before government meetings (Yahoo News)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday gave local government officials across the United States more leeway to begin public meetings with a prayer, ruling that sectarian invocations do not automatically violate the U.S. Constitution. The court said on a 5-4 vote that the town of Greece in New York state did not violate the Constitution's ban on government endorsement of religion by allowing Christian prayers before monthly meetings.

and it allowed the state of New Jersey to continue to arbitrarily deny people's right to keep and bear arms. (I'm not opposed to setting objective standards for CCW permits for public safety purposes -- though those same standards must apply to cops -- but allowing the opinion of a local police chief as to whether someone has a "justifiable need" to determine whether someone has access to the tools of self-defense is unconscionable.)

Strict N.J. rule on gun permits stands, as Supreme Court refuses case (Yahoo News)

The challenged New Jersey statute prohibits state residents from obtaining a permit to carry a handgun in public unless they can demonstrate a “justifiable need” for such a weapon.

...

Under the New Jersey law, an application must be submitted to the local police chief. If the chief approves the application, it is then forwarded to a state judge, who also must approve the application.

Netanyahu doubles-down on the crazy

"Netanyahu said...the move was vital at a time when aspects of Israel's legitimacy were "under a constant and increasing assault from abroad and at home". Well, gee, Bibi, why do you think that legitimacy is in question? You just go ahead and keep pouring gasoline on that fire, I'm sure that will put it out.

A nation that defines itself as being "the nation state of one people only", ipso facto does not guarantee equal rights for all citizens. We tried that "separate but equal" thing here, as you may recall. Israel is trapped in a double bind of its own making.

Netanyahu pushes to define Israel as nation state of Jewish people only (the Guardian)

Binyamin Netanyahu will push ahead with a rare change to Israel's basic laws – which amount to the country's constitution – to insist Israel is "the nation state of one people only – the Jewish people – and of no other people".

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The proposed law would be in addition to Israel's declaration of independence of May 1948 – the anniversary of which is celebrated on Tuesday – which defines Israel as a Jewish state.

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