Matthew Yglesias: A letter to historians of the future - the 2016 election really was dominated by a controversy over emails (Vox)
The election of a man temperamentally unfit to the presidency and lacking in the basic qualifications to perform the job, backed up by congressional allies who seem determined to ignore his flagrant corruption, is an alarming situation.
Michele Hanson: Governments don't care about popular discontent - they planned it (The Guardian)
Take away people's jobs and give them foreigners to blame and they'll lap it all up. After all, the people at the top are meant to know what they're talking about.
Michele Hanson: I'd rather die than be a burden on my daughter - like many old people (The Guardian)
If I become demented, bedridden and incontinent, I hope a chum will smother me rather than leave me to moulder in nappies in a £1,000 a week care home.
Brian Resnick: False memories can form very easily. This Sinbad movie saga proves it. (Vox)
Why so many people remember seeing a Sinbad genie movie that never happened.
Jonathan Jones: From the Moomins to Asterix, picture books help build a better world (The Guardian)
Do we buy picture books to relive our own childhoods? Perhaps, but the best have the power to inspire both children and adults.
Jonathon Jones: Forget the modernists - Turner and Stubbs are Britain's true radicals (The Guardian)
Property developer Harry Hyams has left his art collection to the nation in his will, and - Victorian sentimentality aside - it contains some of the brightest jewels of British culture.
Michele Hanson: Loneliness is a hazard of old age. A phone call can mean a lot (The Guardian)
Most of us are too busy to help an older person we may not know. But a few minutes each week can open the door to a lifetime of experience.
Eliza Barclay, Julia Belluz, and Javier Zarracina: It's easy to become obese in America. These 7 charts explain why. (Vox)
It's no secret that Americans have gotten much, much bigger over the past few decades. The signs are all around us, from XXXL clothing sizes to supersize movie seats and even coffins.
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Michelle in AZ
Jeannie the Teed-Off Temp
from Marc Perkel
from that Mad Cat, JD
"THEY'RE THROWING SNOWBALLS AT US!"
MERRY CHRISTMAS SCOOBY.
THE BATTLE OF WORDS!
THE RISE OF FASCISM IN AMERICA!
HE HAS A PECKER IN HIS POCKET!
"…POWER IS TAKEN, NEVER GIVEN."
Visit JD's site - Kitty Litter Music
In The Chaos Household
Still sunny and cooler than seasonal.
Set Out For Syria
Several hundred peace activists have started what they say will be a months-long protest march from Berlin to war-ravaged Syria to urge an end to the fighting there.
The Civil March for Aleppo set off carrying white flags from Berlin's former Tempelhof Airport on Monday in cloudy, cold and blustery weather.
Organizers said they expect to cover about 20 kilometers (12 miles) a day and to take about 3 ½ months to walk through Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey. Some will walk part of the way while others are invited to join along the route. Marchers are being told to provide their own sleeping gear and food.
Participants hope to at least reach Turkey's border with Syria and if possible the Syrian city of Aleppo, the recent scene of heavy fighting and widespread misery.
"It's time to act," the group wrote in a manifesto on its website. "We've had enough of clicking the sad or shocked faces on Facebook and writing, 'This is terrible.'"
Afghan Woman Pilot's Seeks Asylum
The shock announcement of Afghanistan's first woman fixed-wing pilot to seek asylum in the US has touched off a spirited national debate on the country's most vexing issues: insecurity, women's rights and mass exodus of young people.
Niloofar Rahmani, a 25-year-old pilot lionised widely as the "Afghan Top Gun" after the 1986 Tom Cruise film on flying aces, was scheduled to return to Afghanistan last week after a 15-month training course with the US air force.
But on the eve of her departure, she declared she will not be returning citing fears for her safety, triggering a storm of criticism in Afghanistan for "betraying" her nation but also garnering support from activists.
Rahmani became a symbol of hope for millions of Afghan women when she surfaced in the press in 2013 after becoming Afghanistan's first woman pilot since the Taliban era, dressed in tan combat boots, khaki overalls and aviator glasses.
Rahmani's lawyer Kimberly Motley said her decision to seek asylum in the US had been a "heartbreakingly difficult decision".
Closer To Legalising Same-Sex Marriage
Taiwan's parliament on Monday passed the first draft of a controversial marriage equality bill, moving the island a step closer to becoming the first place in Asia to legalise same-sex nuptials.
A legislative committee approved the amendment to the civil law that would allow gay couples to legally tie the knot, as dozens of opponents to the change rallied outside to demand a referendum on the divisive issue.
"Stop reviewing (the bill). Put it to a referendum," protesters shouted. Some demonstrators climbed over a wall into the parliamentary grounds and were later removed by police.
Lawmaker Yu Mei-nu of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who proposed the bill, hailed Monday's decision as an example of Taiwan's "mature democracy" and called for calm and tolerance.
The amendments require further vetting before they can take effect, a process Yu estimated would take around six months.
Messages To Aliens
If your most feared end-of-days scenario involves an alien race finding Earth, raiding it for its natural resources, and then doing away with humanity just for fun, now would be a good time to worry. Researchers will soon start sending unsolicited messages to other worlds in the hopes of making contact with an intelligent alien species, with the goal of establishing a dialogue with something out there in the depths of space.
METI - which stands for Messaging Extra Terrestrial Intelligence - is a startup in San Francisco that will be scheduling its first messages for some time in the next two years. Douglas Vakoch, President of META, is also a former member of SETI, which has been organizing the search for intelligent life from its California headquarters since the 1980s.
But before METI can start sending out its greetings, scientists first need to figure out exactly what that message will be. How do you greet a different species that has no knowledge of humanity, our languages, or our customs?
Then there's the matter of whether or not we should actually attempt to contact aliens at all, as it's impossible to know whether or not they'd be happy to hear from us. The popular sci-fi trope of an alien civilization waging war on Earth is, hopefully, far-fetched, but anything is possible. The group will attempt to answer these questions and craft humanity's best opening line before starting the messaging experiment.
METI's first target will likely be a planet currently orbiting Proxima Centauri, which may have the capacity to support life. The group then plans to send greetings to other areas much farther away, keeping their fingers crossed that someone - anyone - is listening.
Aiming To Prevent Another Sit-In
House Republicans are aiming to ensure there's no repeat of a Democratic sit-in last summer over gun control.
GOP leaders are planning a vote on a set of rules changes when Congress convenes in January that includes fines for members who use electronic devices to take pictures or video from the House floor.
The proposal comes six months after Democrats live-streamed a sit-in on the House floor for 26 hours last June to call attention to their demand for votes on gun-control bills. Republican leaders shut off the cameras in the House gallery throughout most of the protest, but Democrats used their cellphones to transmit video on social media. C-SPAN broadcast live video streamed on Periscope and Facebook from lawmakers' accounts.
The proposed fines - $500 for a first offense and $2,500 for any subsequent offense - would be docked from the salaries of offending lawmakers. The new rules would not be retroactive, so those who participated in the sit in last summer won't be penalized.
Growing Number Retiring Outside US
Newly widowed, Kay McCowen quit her job, sold her house, applied for Social Security and retired to Mexico. It was a move she and her husband, Mel, had discussed before he passed away in 2012.
"I wanted to find a place where I could afford to live off my Social Security," she said. "The weather here is so perfect, and it's a beautiful place."
She is among a growing number of Americans who are retiring outside the United States. The number grew 17 percent between 2010 and 2015 and is expected to increase over the next 10 years as more baby boomers retire.
Just under 400,000 American retirees are now living abroad, according to the Social Security Administration. The countries they have chosen most often: Canada, Japan, Mexico, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Retirees most often cite the cost of living as the reason for moving elsewhere said Olivia S. Mitchell, director of the Pension Research Council at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.
Calls Off Modern Art Exhibition
Plans for a major exhibition in Berlin of works from the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art have been scrapped because Iran hasn't granted permission for their export, the German capital's museum authority said Tuesday.
The exhibition was billed by German organizers as offering the first opportunity to see the works as a collection outside Iran since the 1979 revolution and as a "significant gesture of cultural diplomacy."
It was supposed to feature works by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Francis Bacon as well as Iranian modern artists including Faramarz Pilaram and Behjat Sadr.
The show originally was supposed to open at Berlin's Gemaeldegalerie on Dec. 4, but the schedule started shifting back in November. Organizers said at the time that changes at Iran's culture ministry were causing delays.
The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which oversees Berlin public art museums, announced Tuesday that it was scrapping the show altogether and had terminated "with great regret" its cooperation agreement with the Tehran museum.
Plans Probes On Far Side Of Moon
China vowed Tuesday to speed up the development of its space industry as it set out its plans to become the first country to soft land a probe on the far side of the moon, by around 2018, and launch its first Mars probe by 2020.
"To explore the vast cosmos, develop the space industry and build China into a space power is a dream we pursue unremittingly," read a white paper setting out the country's space strategy for the next five years. It says China aims to use space for peaceful purposes and to guarantee national security, and to carry out cutting-edge scientific research.
The white paper, released by the information office of China's Cabinet, points to the growing ambitions of China's already rapidly advancing space program. China places great emphasis on the development of its space industry, seen as a symbol of national prestige that will raise the country's standing in the world. Although the white paper doesn't mention it, China's eventual goal is to land an astronaut on the moon.
While Russia and the United States have more experience in manned space travel, China's military-backed program has made steady progress in a comparatively short time.
Since China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, it has staged a spacewalk and landed a rover on the moon in 2013 - the first time humans had soft landed anything on the moon since the 1970s.
Made Using Really Tiny Diamond Pieces
Thinnest Wire Ever
The thinnest wires today are not the sort of loopy cables that connect the power sockets in the walls, but are instead simply printed on circuit boards that are inside everything from your 65" flat-screen TV to the tiniest chip inside your smallest gadget. At just a few tens of micrometers wide, they are about the same width as human hair.
Now imagine a wire that is only three atoms wide, or about 1,000 times narrower than human hair. If it helps, think of the difference between a hair strand and a pencil, and apply that same difference in scale to the imaginary wire and the hair strand. Existing as practically a one-dimensional material, such a wire would have extraordinary properties.
Scientists from Stanford University and the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have created such a wire using diamondoids, the smallest possible pieces of diamond. Using a combination of copper and sulfur known as a chalcogenide for a superconducting core and an insulating shell made of diamondoids, the nanowire assembles itself.
Hao Yan, a Stanford postdoctoral researcher and lead author of a study on the subject, said in a statement: "What we have shown here is that we can make tiny, conductive wires of the smallest possible size that essentially assemble themselves. The process is a simple, one-pot synthesis. You dump the ingredients together and you can get results in half an hour. It's almost as if the diamondoids know where they want to go."
Thinnest Wire Ever
Carrie Fisher, who died Tuesday at 60 years old, may have been best known as the actress who played General Leia Organa, a seminal character in the space opera Star Wars. But she was also a beloved author, a fierce advocate for removing the stigma surrounding mental issues and a feminist icon for many women.
With incredible wit, she spoke out regularly on issues of inequality for women. Forever tied to the Leia character, Fisher was quick to point out how the princess-turned-general was the unrelenting leader of a rebellion in a movie with many male characters.
"I got to be the only girl in an all boy fantasy, and it's a great role for women," Fisher said in a CBC interview. "She's a very proactive character and gets the job done. So if you're going to get typecast as something, that might as well be it for me."
In part for her role as Leia, but really for a life devoted to doing good work, Fisher was a hero to many, including actress Tina Fey, who worked with Fisher briefly on the show "30 Rock."
Fisher, who during her life struggled with drug addiction and bipolar disorder, was a tireless advocate for de-stigmatizing mental health issues. She wrote about the subject in her books and talked about it publicly often. Harvard College's Humanist Club honored Fisher with a lifetime achievement award this year and stressed her work served those suffering from similar issues.
British author Richard Adams, whose 1972 book "Watership Down" became a classic of children's literature, has died, according to his daughter. He was 96.
Juliet Johnson told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Adams died in Oxfordshire, England on Christmas Eve after getting progressively weaker in recent weeks.
Adams' lyrical and poignant novel about the plight of rabbits whose home was under threat became an astonishing success after it was published. Popular with both children and adults, it has since sold millions of copies and was made into a film, with a remake scheduled for next year.
Adams dreamed up the elements of "Watership Down" while working as a civil servant and regaling Juliet and her sister Rosamond with stories about rabbits. He would tell them the stories at bedtime and on car trips, often embellishing the tales while driving the girls to school.
When the manuscript was completed, it was rejected by publishers seven times until its publication in 1972.
Adams wrote seven other novels after his first success and often asserted that his 1974 novel "Shardik" was a better book.
"Watership Down" was made into a movie in 1978. Adams went on to write other books, including "Shardik," ''The Plague Days" and "The Girl in the Swing."
Adams served in the British Army during World War II. Johnson said his experiences in the war often turned up in his books.
He is survived by his wife Elizabeth, his daughters Juliet and Rosamond, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Comedian Ricky Harris, who is best known for his skits on Snoop Dogg albums, died Monday at the age of 54. His cause of death was not immediately confirmed, but some reports claimed that Harris suffered a heart attack.
Harris' extensive work includes his racy stand-up act, giving voice to several hip-hop characters, and roles in films like "Heat," "Dope" and "This Christmas," as well as TV series such as "CSI: Miami," "NYPD Blue" and "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story."
He was the man behind the legendary voice characters DJ EZ Dicc, TaaDow and Saul-T-Nutz in albums by Snoop Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound. In 2004, Harris lent his voice to various characters in the video game "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas."
Harris, who was the son of a preacher and raised in Long Beach, California, made his acting debut in the 1993 drama "Poetic Justice," which starred Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur. Harris is survived by his mother, his ex-wife and two daughters.