Philosophy instructor, recreational writer, humorless vegetarian.
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A New Study Questions the Effectiveness of a Potential “Game Changer” Against the Coronavirus

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Jerome Groopman writes on the disappointing findings of new clinical studies of the drug cocktail hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, which has been touted by President Trump and approved for emergency use by the F.D.A., in treating the coronavirus.
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istoner
13 hours ago
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Not looking great for hydroxychloroquine...

I wonder if President Trump has heard about the effectiveness of forsythia? People are saying it might be the biggest game-changer in the history of medicine. No one's ever seen anything like it.
Saint Paul, MN, USA
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Ted Chiang Explains the Disaster Novel We All Suddenly Live In

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The esteemed science fiction author, best known for movie "Arrival" that is based on his novel, on how we may never go "back to normal" -- and why that might be a good thing. From an interview on Electric Literature: EL: Do you see aspects of science fiction (your own work or others) in the coronavirus pandemic? In how it is being handled, or how it has spread? TC: While there has been plenty of fiction written about pandemics, I think the biggest difference between those scenarios and our reality is how poorly our government has handled it. If your goal is to dramatize the threat posed by an unknown virus, there's no advantage in depicting the officials responding as incompetent, because that minimizes the threat; it leads the reader to conclude that the virus wouldn't be dangerous if competent people were on the job. A pandemic story like that would be similar to whatâ(TM)s known as an "idiot plot," a plot that would be resolved very quickly if your protagonist weren't an idiot. What we're living through is only partly a disaster novel; it's also -- and perhaps mostly -- a grotesque political satire. EL: This pandemic isn't science fiction, but it does feel like a dystopia. How can we understand the coronavirus as a cautionary tale? How can we combat our own personal inclinations toward the good/evil narrative, and the subsequent expectation that everything will return to normal? TC: We need to be specific about what we mean when we talk about things returning to normal. We all want not to be quarantined, to be able to go to work and socialize and travel. But we don't want everything to go back to business as usual, because business as usual is what led us to this crisis. COVID-19 has demonstrated how much we need federally mandated paid sick leave and universal health care, so we don't want to return to a status quo that lacks those things. The current administration's response ought to serve as a cautionary tale about the dangers of electing demagogues instead of real leaders, although there's no guarantee that voters will heed it. We're at a point where things could go in some very different ways, depending on what we learn from this experience.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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istoner
1 day ago
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I feel like a lot of potential went untapped in this interview, but I'll still take any chance to get Ted Chiang's perspective on anything even remotely SF-adjacent.

"We need to be specific about what we mean when we talk about things returning to normal. We all want not to be quarantined, to be able to go to work and socialize and travel. But we don’t want everything to go back to business as usual, because business as usual is what led us to this crisis."
Saint Paul, MN, USA
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Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Class

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Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
Old man Weinersmith shakes his cane at you.


Today's News:
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istoner
2 days ago
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Oh my god. Why doesn't this class exist? I'm willing to take the gamble that my own enrollments would plummet to the point I'd lose job.
Saint Paul, MN, USA
denubis
2 days ago
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Sydney, Australia
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Pathogen Resistance

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We're not not trapped in here with the coronavirus. The coronavirus is trapped in here with us.
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istoner
2 days ago
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Saint Paul, MN, USA
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1 public comment
alt_text_bot
3 days ago
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We're not not trapped in here with the coronavirus. The coronavirus is trapped in here with us.
danielguo
3 days ago
Well said!

Best Epic Rap Battles of History (By Season)

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Look, we're all bored here, so let's award the best Epic Rap Battles of History for each season.

Season One

Winner: Albert Einstein vs. Stephen Hawking
Honorable Mentions: Dr. Seuss vs. Shakespeare, Napoleon vs. Napoleon

The season that started it all. Honestly, though, I think only Einstein vs. Hawking can compete with the stronger entrants in later seasons. The creators -- reasonably enough! -- were still finding their rhythm (get it?).

Season Two
Winner: Michael Jackson vs. Elvis
Runner-up: Rasputin vs. Stalin
Honorable Mentions: Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates, Cleopatra vs. Marilyn Monroe

Now we're cooking. The kid who plays young Michael Jackson was superb, and carries his battle to victory. The Rasputin vs. Stalin (vs. Lenin vs. Gorbachev vs. Putin) battle was strong almost top-to-bottom (only Gorbachev was a bit of a sour note for me). Jobs vs. Gates was a ton of a fun (remember those Mac vs. PC ads?). And Cleopatra vs. Monroe was a superb all-women battle with some truly vicious disses. Freddie Mercury's performance over Frank Sinatra was also a stand-out, but he won so convincingly the battle was actually too one-sided to make this list.

Season Three
Winner: Isaac Newton vs. Bill Nye
Runner-up: Edgar Allen Poe vs. Stephen King
Honorable Mention: Bob Ross vs. Pablo Picasso 

It's tough to top getting Weird Al in one of these (though if Neil deGrasse Tyson had actually played himself -- which I've heard he was willing to do -- it would have been even cooler). Stephen King has one of the best closing lines in the whole series. Bob Ross vs. Picasso is relatively light, but consistent all the way through. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles vs. their namesake Renaissance Artists was good, but the performance was a little short. I also suspect I'm virtually alone in thinking that Miley Cyrus beat Joan of Arc (and pretty decisively, frankly).

Season Four
Winner: Stan Lee vs. Jim Henson
Runner-up: Western Philosophers vs. Eastern Philosophers
Honorable Mention: Ellen vs. Oprah

If you forced me to pick my absolute, all-time favorite, I'd probably go with Lee vs. Henson -- but it'd be torture. If you asked to pick me single favorite verse, though, it'd be Walt Disney's intervention in Lee vs. Henson -- and it would not be close. It's brilliant from start to finish (and, to be clear, compliments very strong work from Lee and Henson). As a political theorist, I found the philosophy battle hilarious. Ellen vs. Oprah is also a very good, evenly matched battle (and one of the few "clean" ones on ERB).

Season Five
Winner: George R.R. Martin vs. J.R.R. Tolkien
Runner-up: Gordon Ramsay vs. Julia Child
Honorable Mentions: Tony Hawk vs. Wayne Gretzky, Ash Ketchum vs. Charles Darwin

This was an absolutely loaded season -- I think clearly ERB's strongest overall. Tolkien's final verse where he works in all the titles of the Lord of the Rings is just masterful. I'm a dedicated Gordon Ramsay fan but Julia Child completely kicked his ass. Tony Hawk's incredible first verse is matched by Wayne Gretzky's brutal last verse. And Darwin has one of the great one-liners of all-time calling Ash "Mighty Morphin' Michael Vick." All that talent means a ton of tracks I love don't even make it onto the honorable mentions list here: (Daniel Craig) James Bond vs. Austin Powers, Ivan the Terrible versus various "the Greats", Wonder Women versus Stevie Wonder, and Winston Churchill versus Theodore Roosevelt are all superb.

Season Six
Winner: Guy Fawkes vs. Che Guevara
Runner-up: Elon Musk vs. Mark Zuckerberg
Honorable Mention: Ronald McDonald vs. The Burger King

This was a shaky season on the whole, but Fawkes vs. Guevara is one of the best in the entire series -- a distinction based primarily around the dead-on Che Guevara portrayal (who knew he also looks exactly like John Snow), but certainly with an impressive toe-to-toe performance from Fawkes. Musk vs. Zuckerberg has a wonderful subtle gag running through it in that Mark "I don't even fucking blink" Zuckerberg in fact never blinks during the whole video. The McDonald vs. Burger King rap sneaks into honorable mention, but not due to either of the titular characters -- Wendy steal the show. Wendy's the company actually tweeted about the rap, which is a bit gutsy given their mascot's line about how she's "exploiting you both like you were growing my tomatoes."
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istoner
4 days ago
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There are worse ways to shelter in place...

I'd have Cleopatra vs. Monroe as the best of season 2. Brutal.

I'm surprised that David has omitted Jefferson vs. Douglass from Season 5 rankings-- it'd be my runner-up.

(Martin vs. Tolkien is objectively the best battle ever. Ranking anything above it is a straightforward error.)
Saint Paul, MN, USA
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Nine Inch Nails Combat Isolation With Two Free Instrumental Records

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It has been a trying few months, with the COVID-19 crisis escalating to a point of near-worldwide self-quarantine. With a palpable unease and uncertainty in the air, throughout the political sphere, and deeply ingrained in social media, it’s music that binds us together and heals all. With that mind, it seems that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the core working duo of Nine Inch Nails, have come to the same conclusion and released two instrumental records in the Ghosts series, both released for free this morning via nin.com.

Ghosts V: Together and Ghosts VI: Locusts  dropped quietly via an announcement through the band’s social media, driving listeners to the website to download both albums in mp3 format. Youtube playlists of the entire release were slowly launched overnight, and according to the message on Reznor’s site, the albums will be hitting streaming services this evening. Reznor  and Ross offer a very fitting message to explain the albums’ synthesis and release:

FRIENDS-

WEIRD TIMES INDEED…

AS THE NEWS SEEMS TO TURN EVER MORE GRIM BY THE HOUR, WE’VE FOUND OURSELVES VACILLATING WILDLY BETWEEN FEELING LIKE THERE MAY BE HOPE AT TIMES TO UTTER DESPAIR – OFTEN CHANGING MINUTE TO MINUTE. ALTHOUGH EACH OF US DEFINE OURSELVES AS ANTISOCIAL-TYPES WHO PREFER BEING ON OUR OWN, THIS SITUATION HAS REALLY MADE US APPRECIATE THE POWER AND NEED FOR CONNECTION.

MUSIC – WHETHER LISTENING TO IT, THINKING ABOUT IT OR CREATING IT – HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE THING THAT HELPED US GET THROUGH ANYTHING – GOOD OR BAD. WITH THAT IN MIND, WE DECIDED TO BURN THE MIDNIGHT OIL AND COMPLETE THESE NEW GHOSTS RECORDS AS A MEANS OF STAYING SOMEWHAT SANE.

GHOSTS V: TOGETHER IS FOR WHEN THINGS SEEM LIKE IT MIGHT ALL BE OKAY, AND GHOSTS VI: LOCUSTS… WELL, YOU’LL FIGURE IT OUT.

IT MADE US FEEL BETTER TO MAKE THESE AND IT FEELS GOOD TO SHARE THEM. MUSIC HAS ALWAYS HAD A WAY OF MAKING US FEEL A LITTLE LESS ALONE IN THE WORLD… AND HOPEFULLY IT DOES FOR YOU, TOO. REMEMBER, EVERYONE IS IN THIS THING TOGETHER AND THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU AGAIN SOON.
BE SMART AND SAFE AND TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER.

WITH LOVE,
TRENT & ATTICUS

Like the previous installments in the Ghosts series, the albums are fully instrumental and showcase the mood and texture that Reznor has been carving out since walking on the scene with 1989’s Pretty Hate Machine. While it’s usually Reznor’s immaculate production, industrial/synth-pop hooks, and naked aggression that are often cited and celebrated, the kinder, more textured side of Nine Inch Nails is often the most rewarding, with explorations in the ambient genre dating back to 1994’s “A Warm Place” from The Downward Spiral. 2002’s Still dove heavily into ambient waters, followed by both 2008’s Ghosts I-IV and 2010’s The Social Network score, which was released outside of the Nine Inch Nails moniker and kicked off Reznor and Ross’ fruitful and prolific soundtrack career.

As explained above, Ghosts V: Together is a more hopeful affair, beautifully composed, with synth textures approaching almost ethereal levels. It’s the most immediate of the two records, a beautiful listen through and through. On the flip side, Ghosts VI: Locusts is more dissonant, noisier, chaotic, trading in beauty for unease, balancing the light with the dark, a suitable soundtrack for those times when things seem a bit too difficult to fathom.

Waking up to news of a new Nine Inch Nails album is always a surprise, though certainly not out of the realm of possibility, given Reznor’s knack for dropping new records and tracks for free, and with little-to-no buildup. Ghosts I-IV approached a similar model, with the first record in the series being made available for free upon release. While physical copies of the latest installments may not arrive for some time as the world continues to adapt and shift focus, the music is out there to enjoy. Check below for the full artwork and track listing:

Ghosts V: Together
1. Letting Go While Holding On
2. Together
3. Out in the Open
4. With Faith
5. Apart
6. Your Touch
7. Hope We Can Again
8. Still Right Here

Ghosts VI: Locusts
1. The Cursed Clock
2. Around Every Corner
3. The Worriment Waltz
4. Run Like Hell
5. When It Happens (Don’t Mind Me)
6. Another Crashed Car
7. Temp Fix
8. Trust Fades
9. A Really Bad Night
10. Your New Normal
11. Just Breathe
12. Right Behind You
13. Turn This Off Please
14. So Tired
15. Almost Dawn

Download both for free via nin.com
listen on YouTube

The post Nine Inch Nails Combat Isolation With Two Free Instrumental Records appeared first on Post-Punk.com.

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istoner
7 days ago
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Saint Paul, MN, USA
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