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Bill Maher: The News Media Needs to Calm Down. “Don’t Make Trump Be Right.”

Bill Maher points to sensationalistic headlines to make his point.

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Now that we’re starting to see some hope in all this, don’t hope-shame me. The problem with nonstop gloom and doom is it gives Trump the chance to play the optimist, and optimists tend to win American elections. FDR said, ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’ You know, as full of s–t as he is, I could see Trump riding that into a second term.

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What did NASA’s Hubble Telescope See on Your Birthday?

Here's a great way to feel humbled by the fact that you are a tiny speck within an immense universe. It's also a chance to to have a brain asm tied to your own birthday: You are invited to receive a high-res Hubble photo from NASA accompanied by a detailed scientific explanation of something incredible that existed eons ago and farther away than you can imagine without serious effort. Go ahead and enter your birthday so that you can become a time traveler to deep space, courtesy of NASA.

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St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner Criticized for Refusing to Bring Charges for Videotaped Daylight Shooting

There was a shooting three days ago in the Central West End during broad daylight and it was captured on video. The bullets hit the victim in the shoulder, stomach and back, although he is expected to survive. I was surprised to hear that the assailant was released from custody the following day without any charges being filed. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has seen this video but states that her office needs more time to decide whether it will bring any charges against the assailant. Gardner mentions self-defense even though the victim had his hands down at his side when the assailant started shooting and the assailant continues shooting the victim even though the victim was running away. Are we to the point that we should only prosecute perfectly easy cases? I'd like to show this video to the Circuit Attorneys in the 100 biggest cities to see how many wouldn't immediately bring charges.

Gardner has come under a lot of criticism for the way she has been running her office since she took office in January, 2017.? And see here.? And here.? Recently, Gardner has been shown to be less than honest when making accusations against the St. Louis Police Department.

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This six-minute TED video by Janet Iwasa inspires me. It's a story about what goes on inside of you and me. Iwasa is a bio-molecular animator. She creates animations of the processes within our cells. Her workspace is an extraordinarily beautiful but disorienting mini-universe.

The molecules Iwasa studies function as the support team within cells. Even though these many non-living things that are clearly not alive, they seem to be alive and even purposeful in these animations. They appear as tiny magical robots. Iwasa offers many examples of her animations in this video, including molecules that allow DNA to function. DNA is not an intricate code that simply sits there. DNA allows your body to be alive via the synthesis of proteins.

That this highly coordinated activity can happen at this scale is mind-boggling, especially given that the DNA is so incredibly complex and so tightly folded. It is mind-boggling that the DNA from one microscopic human cell, completely unfolded, would stretch six feet in length. I hope you as amazed as I was when you see Iwasa's animations.

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Waking Up Podcast Interview: Sam Harris and Caitlin Flanagan

Today I listened to yet another engaging episode of "Making Sense," the podcast of Sam Harris. Sam's guest was Caitlin Flanagan, who often writes for The Atlantic. I enjoy listening to energized conversations like this, involving thoughtful people whose thought processes are not severely warped by political party tribal forces. I'm getting worn out from all of the conversations (in so many other places) involving people who are consciously and enthusiastically reverse-engineering their comments to fit the prevailing dictates of political parties. We would all be so much better off if only we would (as Jonathan Haidt suggests) unplug from the Matrix so that we could each be more consciously self-critical.?

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You Can Live Without Toilet Paper — And Be Cleaner for It

As I watched stories of people hoarding toilet paper during the pandemic, wiping out entire stores, I felt secure that the meagre five rolls that I have in my own house would last me quite a while, even indefinitely.

Two years ago, I gave up most toilet paper use. I found something cleaner, cheaper, and more comfortable. It’s also more convenient, as I don’t have to keep buying it – at least not very often. I use a homemade bidet and I love it! I especially appreciate my bidet when I am stuck in bathrooms where toilet paper is my only option.

The bidet (pronounced bid-day) is a bathroom fixture that washes your crotch after you use the toilet.

In some countries, a bidet is a separate fixture that sits right next to the toilet. There are also many types of bidets that can be retrofitted to any toilet seat. Some are simple and other bidets are super fancy models with heated seats, warm water, adjustable jet sprayers and air dryer – all powered with a remote control. A bidet is like a car wash for your bottom.

I considered installing a simple bidet on my toilet, but then it occurred to me that bidets essentially squirt water. That’s not plumbing science. Lots of things can squirt water. I did a little research and found some squeezable plastic lab bottles with bent squirt nozzles. They were $4 each. Perfect. Then I went to a thrift store and found some cheap but luxuriously soft washcloths. Now before you get grossed out – bear with me. What I’m doing is way more hygienic than what you’re doing with toilet paper!

After peeing, instead of wiping with dry toilet paper, I rinse off with water from my squeeze bottle bidet and pat dry with a soft dry washcloth. The first time I tried my system, I was amazed at how much better and cleaner it felt than toilet paper. It was like walking out of a shower and toweling off. It’s kind of luxurious.

Ok . . . so what about pooping? I do use toilet paper for that, but just a fraction of the amount I used to use. When cleaning with a stream of water first, I only need a very small amount of toilet paper to finish the job. I have considered a system that uses dry washcloths for that too, and probably will. Having washed cloth diapers when my kids were little, I know that this system is doable and not anywhere near as gross as you’d imagine. I’ll get to that in a moment.

I use my squirt bottle bidet in my master bathroom and it was an easy experiment because I’m the only who uses that bathroom. The only thing keeping me from putting it my guest bathroom is that it’s a little awkward to tell guests how to wipe.

But change is initially changing a mindset and then changing habits.

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Coronavirus Misinformation and Lies Mean that It’s Time to Pull the FCC Licenses of FOX “News” Stations

What should be done about TV and Radio stations that have already endangered Americans by calling Coronavirus a hoax, claiming that it was simply like the flu, or the many other variations of these themes? The FCC licenses of such TV and Radio stations should not be renewed where such hoaxes and lies cause illness and death. Shouldn't we start taking the FCC standards seriously? FOX "News" should be concerned. Here is the FCC standard for denying a license renewal.

Broadcast Journalism

Introduction. As noted above, in light of the fundamental importance of the free flow of information to our democracy, the First Amendment and the Communications Act bar the FCC from telling station licensees how to select material for news programs or prohibiting the broadcast of an opinion on any subject. We also do not review anyone’s qualifications to gather, edit, announce, or comment on the news. These decisions are the station licensee’s responsibility. Nevertheless, there are two issues related to broadcast journalism that are subject to Commission regulation: hoaxes and news distortion.

Hoaxes. The broadcast by a station of false information concerning a crime or catastrophe violates the FCC's rules if:

The station licensee knew that the information was false; Broadcasting the false information directly causes substantial public harm; and It was foreseeable that broadcasting the false information would cause such harm.

In this context, a “crime” is an act or omission that makes the offender subject to criminal punishment by law, and a “catastrophe” is a disaster or an imminent disaster involving violent or sudden events affecting the public. The broadcast must cause direct and actual damage to property or to the health or safety of the general public, or diversion of law enforcement or other public health and safety authorities from their duties, and the public harm must begin immediately. If a station airs a disclaimer before the broadcast that clearly characterizes the program as fiction and the disclaimer is presented in a reasonable manner under the circumstances, the program is presumed not to pose foreseeable public harm.

News Distortion. The Commission often receives complaints concerning broadcast journalism, such as allegations that stations have aired inaccurate or one-sided news reports or comments, covered stories inadequately, or overly dramatized the events that they cover. For the reasons noted previously, the Commission generally will not intervene in these cases because it would be inconsistent with the First Amendment to replace the journalistic judgment of licensees with our own. However, as public trustees, broadcast licensees may not intentionally distort the news. The FCC has stated that “rigging or slanting the news is a most heinous act against the public interest.” The Commission will investigate a station for news distortion if it receives documented evidence of rigging or slanting, such as testimony or other documentation, from individuals with direct personal knowledge that a licensee or its management engaged in the intentional falsification of the news. Of particular concern would be evidence of the direction to employees from station management to falsify the news. However, absent such a compelling showing, the Commission will not intervene."

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