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Member since: Thu Feb 14, 2008, 10:58 AM
Number of posts: 5,997

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A Videogame That Teaches You to Write Poetry, Even if It Intimidates You

Source: Wired

Videogames and poetry haven’t always gone hand in hand.

We’re still a long way from Master Chief breaking into a Coleridge soliloquy. But game developers Ichiro Lambe and Ziba Scott have edged us a bit closer to that day with Elegy for a Dead World, a game they Kickstarted in October and released on Steam last month.

Elegy lets players write prose and poetry as they explore distant planets and dead civilizations. The player faces 27 challenges in three worlds, each riffing on a specific British Romance-era poem: “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, “When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be” by John Keats, and “Darkness” by Lord Byron.

The different challenges find the player in various roles: an emperor rallying his troops before a doomed battle, for example, or a schoolgirl evacuating a city being bombed. Players travel through beautifully designed backgrounds, while on-screen text narrates the story. But much of the text is left blank—that’s when players tap their inner Wordsworths, finishing the tale with their own imaginations.

Throughout their adventure, players are tasked with using several writing styles: Plugging in blanks in prompts like serious Mad Libs, writing poems in rhyming couplets, or going totally freeform.

Read more: http://www.wired.com/2015/01/elegy-dead-world/

GOP Congress' First Priority: Yanking Health Insurance From 1.5 Million Americans

Source: Mother Jones

One of the first things House Republicans plan to do after Congress reconvenes Tuesday is vote on a bill that would gut Obamacare—and could deprive up to 1.5 million Americans of their employer-sponsored health insurance. After the GOP-controlled House passes the bill, the newly Republican Senate is likely to pass the measure too. What's more, President Barack Obama may be forced to sign this legislation if it is attached to a must-pass budget bill later this year.

Here's the background. The Affordable Care Act requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide affordable health insurance to 95 percent of their full-time workers or pay a fine. This regulation, known as the employer mandate, goes into effect this year. Here's the catch: The law defines employees who work 30 or more hours per week as full time. The legislation that House Republicans are expected to bring to the floor this week would change the definition of full time to 40 hours per week for purposes of the law.

This may sound harmless, but it's not—because companies that don't want to provide health insurance for their employees can avoid doing so by cutting workers' hours.

"I call this the 'send people home a half hour early on Friday and deny them health insurance' bill," says Tim Jost, a health care law scholar at the Washington and Lee University School of Law who has consulted with the Obama administration on implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The 30-hour threshold was intended to discourage companies from cutting workers' hours. Nearly half of Americans work 40 hours a week or more—meaning that, under current law, employers would have to cut those workers' hours by more than 25 percent to avoid buying them health insurance. But if the threshold were 40 hours, as the GOP envisions, many employers would only have to cut workweeks a tiny bit to avoid buying health insurance for their employees. "Raising the threshold to 40 hours would place more than five times as many workers at risk of having their hours reduced," Paul van de Water, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, wrote in 2013.

Read more: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/obamacare-republican-congress-full-time-hours

Dad Calls Cops to Watch Him Spank 12-Year-Old Daughter

Source: Gawker

A Florida dad taught parents in the state last week that it's fine to spank your kids, as long as you call the cops to oversee it.

The man wanted to paddle his tween daughter for getting into "a heated argument" with her sister, WLWT reports, so he called the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office and asked them to supervise. A deputy came to the house, watched the corporal punishment, and left after determining it was legal.

"It's within statute for them to discipline their children, and spank them. ... You are entitled to paddle your child, whether you use you hands, you use a belt, you use a paddle. Within reason. As long as you're paddlin' the buttocks," undersheriff Noel Stephen told WLWT. The report didn't specify whether hand, belt, or paddle was the weapon of choice in this particular case.

Stephen is apparently correct: "Corporal discipline of a child by a parent or legal custodian for disciplinary purposes does not in itself constitute abuse when it does not result in harm to the child," according to Florida's civil code, and the threshold for "harm" is pretty high: It includes cuts, burns, sprains, hemorrhages, broken bones, and disfigurement, among other things.

Read more: http://gawker.com/dad-calls-cops-to-watch-him-spank-12-year-old-daughter-1677493594

Antonin Scalia: Torture’s Not Torture Unless He Says It Is

Source: The Nation

Perhaps, as Justice Scalia told a Swiss university audience earlier this month, it is indeed “very facile” for Americans to declare that “torture is terrible.” The justice posited to his listeners a classic ticking-time-bomb scenario—this one involving “a person that you know for sure knows the location of a nuclear bomb that has been planted in Los Angeles and will kill millions of people”—and asked, “You think it’s clear that you cannot use extreme measures to get that information out of that person?” Now, I didn’t see that episode of 24, but I have read my Bill of Rights, and I’m far more inclined to align myself here with James Madison than with Jack Bauer—or with Antonin Scalia.

Psychopaths, sadists, and Scalia notwithstanding, no one really asks the asinine question, “Is torture terrible?” because it’s already been answered. Torture, George Washington told his troops in 1775, brings “shame, disgrace, and ruin” to the country; earlier this month, Sen. John McCain called the CIA’s enhanced interrogation tactics “shameful and unnecessary” and decried their employment. The UN expressly banned torture in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and twice underlined the position in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (adopted in 1966) and Convention Against Torture (adopted in 1984). Common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions (1949) prohibits “violence of life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture,” as well as “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.” Finally, torture is illegal in the U.S. under federal law.

In our constitution, the Eighth Amendment is brilliant in its brevity: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” (Torture is also implicated in the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments.) Notably, the Bill of Rights omits from its proscriptions countless offenses that a wayward state might commit against humanity, but cruel and unusual punishment is not one of those omissions; along with unlawful search and seizure, torture has been out of bounds since Day One. Still, Justice Scalia has found a chink in the Amendment’s protective armor.

Scalia’s is a truly frightening piece of rhetoric, an interpretation of the Eighth Amendment so narrow as to render it nearly irrelevant. As Judge Sol Wachtler, Chief Judge on the New York Court of Appeals between 1985 and 1993, wrote in December in response to Justice Scalia’s comments, “By saying the torture is not ‘punishment’ if inflicted for a good reason, Scalia redefines the word torture, a component of which is punishment of the most horrendous sort.”

Read more: http://www.thenation.com/blog/194065/antonin-scalia-tortures-not-torture-unless-he-says-it?utm_content=buffer0489c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Lawyer: Cops break woman’s ribs for ‘disrespect’ after asking about a crime committed...

Source: Raw Story

A Texas woman has filed a lawsuit against three police officers in Victoria, claiming that they brutally beat her and broke her ribs without a good reason.

Mary Frances Jones told the Victoria Advocate that the three police officers woke her up early in the morning on Dec. 22, 2013 over reports that a truck that she had purchased the day before had been seen driving in a local creek.

Jones said that she had been unaware at the time that her sons borrowed the truck while she was sleeping. After officers claimed that she was lying about owning the truck, Jones said she tried to go back inside her home, and that’s when they forced her to the ground.

“One of them had his foot on my arm, and the other kicked me and broke my ribs,” she recalled. “They hurt me. They hurt me bad, and they know they did.”

Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/01/lawyer-cops-break-womans-ribs-for-disrespect-after-asking-about-a-crime-committed-while-she-was-asleep/

Photographer stunningly transforms shelter dogs into famous writers

Source: Mashable/danbannino.com

Almost a year ago, I’ve rescued my dog Rothko from a shelter and from that day on my life has changed. When I adopted him I realized how many dogs are in the same condition all around the world and how a single adoption could change their lives and help supporting the situation in a dog shelter. Rothko came from a difficult situation, he was found in a gypsy camp and was taken to my local kennel, where after a few weeks I had the luck to meet him. Living with Rothko I’ve learned how to understand his moves and I’ve learned to listen to his silent words and for this reason I’ve realised how dogs are similar to writers: speaking through their expressions, sounds and movements, they’re telling you everything while saying nothing, just like an author would do with their words in a fine poem. My new best friend and his love served as motivation for starting my series called Poetic Dogs, where shelter dogs are associated to my favourite writers. I’ve started this series on June and I’ve just completed it a month ago.


Mark Twain

Emily Dickinson

James Baldwin

Charles Bukowski

Jean-Paul Sartre

Read more: http://mashable.com/2015/01/01/shelter-dogs-dressed-as-writers/

Great Dane Too Big for Bed

The Year’s Most Awesome Photos of Space

Source: Wired

Mar. 23, 2014: Monkey Head Nebula Photos by NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

June 28, 2014: Curiosity Selfie at Windjana Photos by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

June 10, 2014: Tight Solar Loops Photos by NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

November 13, 2014: Welcome to a Comet! ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

June 15, 2014: Soaring Eagle Nebula Photos by Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

October 12, 2014: The Most Amazing Thing This Man Has Ever Done ESA/NASA

Read more: http://www.wired.com/2014/12/best-photos-of-space-2014/

A Christmas Story- 8 Bit Cinema

Breathtaking: Alexander Gerst’s Earth timelapses

Watch Earth roll by through the perspective of ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst in this six-minute timelapse video from space. Combining 12 500 images taken by Alexander during his six-month Blue Dot mission on the International Space Station this Ultra High Definition video shows the best our beautiful planet has to offer.

Marvel at the auroras, sunrises, clouds, stars, oceans, the Milky Way, the International Space Station, lightning, cities at night, spacecraft and the thin band of atmosphere that protects us from space.

Often while conducting scientific experiments or docking spacecraft Alexander would set cameras to automatically take pictures at regular intervals. Combining these images gives the timelapse effect seen in this video.

For better effect, view it on YouTube (click the YouTube icon on the video). Spectacular!
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