A Particularly Special Kind of Asshole

mounted lion (Dead thing.)

In this modern world you have to be a special kind of asshole to lobby for the right to participate in something like this. This isn't about culling, or conservation management or any of the other bullshit reasons rich jerks travel to another country for the pleasure of shooting things.

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Mariano Pascual

Homepage animated gif. (Yes I am tired of WordPress. Thanks for asking. Click image to animate.)

Mariano Pascual's website is a tribute to avoiding convention.

The site’s success lies not in its fancy tricks and hidden Easter eggs – although these are top-notch – but in its immediate impact and speed of communication. “I came up with this operating system that I think is a great way to show my work because you can have an idea of my style as soon as you pop onto the website,” Mariano adds, “Actually you don’t need to see any of my projects to have an idea of my skills… the website turned out to be a piece of art itself.”

The quality of the markup alone is enough to get me to spend some time here, but even if you are not a designer or developer you'll have some fun.

Also have a look Pascual's design partner site achos! Scroll over the words in the intro text and don't forget to have a look at the source code.

!!WARNING!! the scrolling sound effect on achos! is NSFW!!

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Brown Bears of Katmai Alaska Meditation

Brown bear fishing (Brown bears fishing in Katmai National Park, Alaska, USA.)

Take a deep breath and immerse yourself in Alaska's pristine wilderness--the perfect place to meditate. Here in Katmai National Park, you'll hear birds calling to one another while the waters of the Brooks River cascade over Brooks Falls, slowing to a soothing whisper downstream. Watch as the mist rises above the river in the early morning sunshine and bears wade into the water to fish. You'll get an underwater view of salmon swimming upstream, while owls and eagles observe from their perches above. Watch as tiny cubs amble after their mothers, moose disappear into the tall grasses, and the sun sets on another breathtaking day in Alaska, a fitting preview to the stunning nighttime display of the Northern Lights.

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Built to Burn

Panorama Brush Fire, 1980 (Panorama Brush Fire, 1980.)

This is a fantastic report on the conditions and science of fighting large brush fires. The write up is excellent if you don't have time to listen to the whole podcast.

Often it's not the fire but the flying embers that burn homes. Burned homes are often found surrounded by unburned trees and brush.

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What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.
—the Principal, Billy Madison

17 Places Book Lovers Need to Visit

Strahov Monastery, Prague (Strahov Monastery, Prague.)

For many book lovers, the most perfect place in the world is a cozy reading nook where no one will talk to them for the next, oh, ten hours. But there are places outside of the home (and beyond the pages) that seem to have been made specifically for the literary minded, including charming bookstores in Paris, quirky hotels in Japan, and beautiful monasteries in Prague. Here are 17 places perfect for book lovers.

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David Bentley Hart Describes Yankee Fans…

(The G.O.A.T.) (The G.O.A.T.)

Not that the horror is easy to recall clearly. The trauma is too violent. Memory cringes, whines, tries to slink away. One recollects only a kaleidoscopic flux of gruesomely fragmentary impressions, too outlandish to be perfectly accurate, too vivid to be entirely false: nightmarish revenants from the dim haunts of the collective unconscious … monstrous, abortive shapes emerging from the abysmal murk of evolutionary history … things pre-hominid, even pre-mammalian … forms never quite resolving into discrete organisms, spilling over and into one another, making it uncertain where…
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And so I write the letters and make the calls, I support my friends running for office, I march and volunteer and raise money. This is not always gratifying. Frankly, it feels futile most of the time. It’s hard to know if I’m making any difference at all. But it’s far better than knowing for certain that I’m not. We are a young country, that’s true, but we were born too old for this.
—Sloane Crosley, McSweeny's

Good Authority: One Small Blow Against Encroaching Totalitarianism

McSweeny's Author Sloane Crosley (McSweeny’s Author Sloane Crosley)

The cutoff to be a guest on Kids Say the Darndest Things was eight years old. Which means that, not long ago, our culture agreed that eight years old is the point at which ignorance stops being cute. Before eight, unqualified authority, circuitous logic, and denial of science are downright adorable.

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Teach Them a Lesson.

Beating man with stick. (Yes I’m beating you, but it’s for my own good.)

The Guardians of the Great New America invite YOU to join the exciting craze that’s sweeping the nation! An old idea refreshed for your pleasure!

PUNISHMENT.

Yes that’s right. Now you can bathe in the vindictive glory of the new American ethos. We have your back. Put some hurt on!

Punishment rarely effects any real change and it almost always leaves [...] 

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Stories of Your Life and Others

Stories of Your Life and OthersStories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wonderful. Stories with ideas you don't just consider for a moment, but return to again and again.

What if you could remember your future? What if heaven, hell, angels and miracles are real, but reward for your faith is completely arbitrary?

If I knew this, I'd forgotten it, so I was happy to discover that the story "Story of Your Life," was the basis for the film "Arrival." Probably my favorite film of the last few years. Imagine a language that requires knowledge of the future in order to be properly contextualized.

View my Goodreads list.

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The Giver

Lois Lowery and book cover. (Author Lois Lowery.)

The Giver (The Giver, #1)The Giver by Lois Lowry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Archiving the memories of a society that has decided real human experience is too dangerous is an interesting concept. I understand this is a book for younger folks but I would have liked to see the premise unpacked a bit more.

The idea that it's possible to ramp down or suppress human nature and still maintain the sophisticated interactions necessary for a society to survive is not a given. It's unlikely that depth of experience can be managed on a simple linear scale.

However our continuing singular reliance on rule of law does suggest that we haven't stopped trying.

View my Goodreads list.

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The Supreme Court Looks Away

President Trump and Chief Justice Roberts. (Donald Trump listens while Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy speaks during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House April 10, 2017 in Washington, DC.)

From the New York Review of Books article by David Cole:

When the Trump administration sought to identify persons who had come from the banned countries and engaged in terrorism, it was able to cite one sole suspect who came from Somalia and was eventually convicted of providing material support to a terrorist group. But he came to the US when he was a toddler and was convicted a decade and a half later. That’s hardly evidence of a national security crisis.

By contrast, the evidence that the ban was targeted at Muslims was overwhelming; the president openly admitted as much on the campaign trail, and pursued that purpose once in office. Indeed, no one on the court even disputed that the president had acted with anti-Muslim animus; the only real dispute was about the legal implications of that intent. The lower courts had ruled that the ban violated the Establishment Clause, which requires government to maintain strict neutrality among religions and deems invalid any government action that a “reasonable observer,” aware of all the publicly available facts, would view as intended to promote or denigrate a particular religion.

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There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.
—Charles de Montesquieu