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Course on Dissent Cancelled at Yale-NUS College Two Weeks Before Classes Begin

Freedom of expression is foundational to any democratic society, something Singapore is being criticized for its stringent policies on such matters. And so it came as a surprise to Yale University, which has a joint project with the National University of Singapore, when the college cancelled its course on dissent.

The president of Yale, Peter Salovey, expressed concern about the cancellation of the course, which the university described in a statement as a “one-week outside-the-classroom offering starting in late September in which a small group of students would examine the political, social and ethical issues that surround democratic dissent, chiefly by hearing from those who have practiced it.”
It was to be taught by the Singaporean playwright Alfian Bin Sa’at. Salovey said Yale would review the decision to cancel the program.

-via Marginal Revolution

(Image credit: National University of Singapore; via Yale Alumni Magazine)


When New Yorkers Burned Down a Quarantine Hospital

Before antibiotics and immunization, infectious diseases were terrifying killers, and there wasn't much we could do about it, outside of separating the sick from the healthy in hopes that the disease would not spread further. To this end, New York City opened the New York Marine Hospital on Staten Island in 1799, which most people called the Quarantine. No one was happy about it. The sick were held against their will, the employees risked their lives to care for them, and the neighbors wanted the facility gone.

During the 1850s, two million immigrants arrived in New York City, and some of them were beset with the contagious diseases shipboard-confinement fostered: yellow fever, smallpox, cholera, typhus (or “ship fever”). A single case of yellow fever aboard a ship could put all the passengers and crew under quarantine for as long as six months. There could be as many as eight thousand patients in the Quarantine over the course of a year. Before vaccines, as Stephenson notes, it was dangerous work for the staff: “Funeral expenses for employees was a category in the accounting books.”

Locals never liked the Quarantine. Disease outbreaks on the island were blamed on the facility and the quarantined ships anchored off-shore. In 1848, Staten Islanders petitioned the state to remove the facility. The state agreed, but plans to move the facility to the other end of the island were thwarted by repeated arson attacks on the construction site.

By 1858, the people of Staten Island had had enough, and set out to destroy the hospital on their own. Read about the storming of the Quarantine and the motives behind it at Jstor. -via Damn Interesting



Auralnauts are back with a new Star Wars song, addressing the relationship between Kylo Ren and Rey during the movie The Last Jedi... and it only took them two years. The jam called "Reylo" is a love song with a catchy dance beat and silly rhymes delivered in Kylo's voice as if he were wearing that Darth Vaderish mask. The lyrics are available at the YouTube page. It's a good production about old news, but it makes you wonder what's going to happen in episode nine, which is only three months away now. -via Geeks Are Sexy


This Grandfather with Vitiligo Crochets Dolls with the Same Condition

Vitiligo is a medical condition in which some skin cells stop producing melanin, thus leading to irregular coloration. It can be especially hard for children with this condition, who may be subject to intrusive questions or comments, if not outright bullying.

João Stanganelli, a 64-year old man from Brazil, understands that because he lives with vitiligo, too. To help kids with it, he crochets dolls that have vitiligo. Stranganelli tells Bored Panda:

“At first my fingers and back hurt a lot, today no more,” João told Bored Panda. I’m not yet retired, I still keep up my old work with food, but much less intensely. At the moment I spend 90% of my time with the dolls. I have many orders.” [...]
João’s first project was a doll for his granddaughter, something for her to always remember him by. So he created a doll with vitiligo patches, and an idea was born.

-via Design You Trust


Haus der Kunst's Struggle Reflects a Worrying Trend in German Cultural Politics

Though art embodies one's freedom of expression, the people curating art galleries and museums can help provide a vision and direction for the type of art and ideas being expressed and shown to the public.

However, in the Haus der Kunst, three different curators have suffered odd circumstances in their tenures, causing them to be driven out of the institution. It seems that there is a trend of anti-globalist thought pervading in Germany's cultural scene as exemplified by the pressure being exerted on artistic directors who lean toward internationalist and postcolonial stances and their subsequent dismissal from their post.

Munich’s Haus der Kunst is at the centre of a disturbing trend in German cultural politics, whereby artistic directors are hostage to political approval. Internationalist and postcolonial positions are under fire, as are those highlighting the migrant experience.
In the last two years, three of the world’s most prominent artistic directors have been driven out of Germany’s leading state institutions. The reason that this has happened so transparently in Germany is that leaders of state-funded institutions are hired and fired by the responsible ministry, whether that’s the city of Berlin, the state of Brandenburg, or the federal government.

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


Dog Attacks Leaf Blower to Keep Owners Safe

Sometimes we can't really comprehend the way our pets behave or why they act the way they do. Dogs, in particular, have heightened senses so when they bark or react to something, we often don't know why or what it is that's causing them to act that way.

In the case of Jessi Mach's dog Charley, she tries to keep her owners safe from things that she feels don't belong inside the house. And one day, she had a run-in with the leaf blower.

“She goes into attack mode over things that are out of place,” Jessi Mach, Charley’s mom, told The Dodo. “She has kept us ‘safe’ from candles, trash cans, baskets and weird things that she thinks don't belong in the house!”
One day, Charley’s dad was trying to get some yard work done and took out a leaf blower. Charley’s dog brother Winston immediately tried to “attack” the strange machine, and after watching him barking and biting at the air, Charley decided to get in on the action, too.

(Image credit: Jessi Mach)


This Addictive Game Will Get You Hooked to Make One More Line

The game One More Line has very simple mechanics. It's what you may call a hypercasual game but it's so addicting. I spent more than half an hour just playing the game. Perhaps what makes it so addicting is the chill vibe, the relaxing music, the general aesthetic of the game, and the drive to go the distance. Try it out and see how far you can go. -via Dark Roasted Blend

(Image credit: SMG Studio)


The Regal Birdflower Looks Like a Flock of Birds

What's amazing about the Regal Birdflower (Crotalaria cunninghamii) is that the petals look just like long-beaked birds!

This shrub grows in central Australia and traditional Aboriginal medicine uses its sap to treat eye infections. Aborigines have also used it to make sandals.

-via TYWKIWDBI | Photos by Atlas of Living Australia and indiie1, respectively


Darth Blender

"Don’t be too proud of this mixological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the my shiny metal ass."

Imgur member danpio1309 made this cosplay for Dragon Con 2019. It mashes up Darth Vader from Star Wars and Bender from Futurama. My favorite feature is that the front compartment opens to reveal a cache of booze and a pinup of Slave Leela.

-via Geekologie


The Life and Times of Grandpa Mason

More than two years ago, we told you about Grandpa Mason, an elderly feral cat taken in by the TinyKittens TNR team. Mason was diagnosed with terminal kidney disease. He adjusted to living in a home, although he never became friendly with people. However, Grandpa Mason loved kittens, and has fostered countless litters, cuddling and grooming them and showing them how to be a cat.  

When brought in, the original estimate for Mason's survival was around four months. Instead, Mason has done very well in TK's care for nearly three years... but miracles, sadly, do not last forever. It was announced this morning that Mason's kidneys have failed, and that his trip over the Rainbow Bridge is imminent. He will spend this evening (barring immediate complications) in the company of his beloved kittens and then cross over in the morning under veterinary care.

If you can handle it, Shelly's announcement is here. You can read Mason's story at Metafilter, including links to plenty of videos.

(Image credit: TinyKittens)


Awesome Handmade Turtle Costume

An artist who goes by tragopandemonium spent three weeks making a turtle costume for her friend, and it turned out to be amazing. She admits she can't sew, but the costume came together anyway. The shell is made from floor mat material, the flippers are fabric-covered foam core, and the eyes incorporate iridescent Christmas ornaments and sequins. A friend airbrushed the shell to a perfect finish.

You can see the entire process in pictures and text at imgur. -via Boing Boing


Xerox, Velcro, Clorox, and Much More: When Brand Names Become Too Popular and Generic

User tinkerbellthinks shared this photo of a newspaper notice from the Xerox company admonishing whoever would read their message not to use their brand name to refer to the act of "photocopying" because it damages the trademark of that company.

In one of the comments, user Bluenette was reminded of an ad made by Velcro, the company who invented the hook and loop, which also urged people not to use their trademark to refer to their product. So remember it's not a Xerox, it's a photocopy. Don't say Velcro, it's a hook and loop.

(Image credit: Tinkerbellthings/Reddit)


FBI Agent Unpacks the Methods of Reading Body Language

You don't need to be psychic to understand how someone is feeling or what someone is thinking about, because people usually give off nonverbal cues that signal their thoughts and feelings. We just need to pay attention and understand what these subtle cues are telling us.

In this clip, former FBI agent Joe Navarro explains the different ways we communicate through our actions, our tics and mannerisms, and other body language that convey what we don't or can't say. -via Dark Roasted Blend

(Image credit: Christopher Burns/Unsplash)


Indian Actor Rajinikanth Says A Common Language in India Will Be Good but Impossible

In a country as diverse as India, there are at least 20 different languages being spoken by at least a million people, so one could imagine the difficulty to communicate with one another. Of course, many people speak more than one language so it's not really a problem.

But when Union Home Minister Amit Shah proposed the 'one nation, one language' policy, actor Rajinikanth weighed in on the issue and said that such a thing is not possible for India.

Speaking to reporters, Rajinikanth said, “Any country that has a common language will find it beneficial to its growth and unity. Unfortunately, we cannot have that in India.

Language is power and whatever is the dominant or ruling language gives the speakers of that language preeminence and social mobility. So despite making communication easier, having one language spoken by all will still alienate and isolate certain groups of people. There will always be people who are left out of the conversation.

(Image credit: Persnickety Prints/Unsplash)


New Exoskeleton Suit Could Give Marines a Helping Hand in Heavy Lifting

No matter how hard one trains their body to build strength and endurance, there will always be limits to how much we can do or take. Even the Marines who are some of the fittest and most well-equipped people, both physically and mentally, get exhausted and need help with some labor-intensive work.

Fortunately, the Marine Corps is looking to get some help with their heavy duty physical work from a full-body autonomous exoskeleton suit, similar to the one used by Ripley in "Alien".

"It keeps the human instinct and intelligent judgment and combines it with a robotic precision, strength and endurance to get to a more efficient, effective, more productive -- and frankly safer -- work environment," said Jim Miller, Sarcos Robotics' vice president of defense solutions.
The intuitive, autonomous suit can be used by operators ranging from 5 foot, 4 inches, to someone who's just over 6-and-a-half-feet tall. It stays powered for up to eight hours on a single charge and can repeatedly lift 200-pound objects without fatigue or strain.

(Image credit: Gina Harkins/

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