By Salmar Rushdie
WE find it easier, in these confused times, to admire physical bravery than moral courage — the courage of the life of the mind, or of public figures. A man in a cowboy hat vaults a fence to help Boston bomb victims while others flee the scene: we salute his bravery, as we do that of servicemen returning from the battlefront, or men and women struggling to overcome debilitating illnesses or injuries.
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It’s harder for us to see politicians, with the exception of Nelson Mandela and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as courageous these days. Perhaps we have seen too much, grown too cynical about the inevitable compromises of power. There are no Gandhis, no Lincolns anymore. One man’s hero (Hugo Chávez, Fidel Castro) is another’s villain. We no longer easily agree on what it means to be good, or principled, or brave. When political leaders do take courageous steps — as France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, then president, did in Libya by intervening militarily to support the uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi — there are as many who doubt as approve. Political courage, nowadays, is almost always ambiguous.
Even more strangely, we have become suspicious of those who take a stand against the abuses of power or dogma.
Source : New York Times : Read the whole story here.politicsreligionCrime and Punishment
The U.S. military launched an experimental hypersonic aircraft on its swan song test flight Wednesday (May 1), accelerating the craft to more than five times the speed of sound in the longest-ever mission for a vehicle of its kind.
The Air Force's X-51A Waverider reached a top speed of Mach 5.1 during the test flight, traveling more than 230 nautical miles in just over six minutes before crashing into the Pacific Ocean off the California coast as planned, Air Force officials announced today (May 3).
Wednesday's flight used the last of four X-51A vehicles built by Boeing for the Air Force experiments. While the previous test, in August 2012, was a failure, Wednesday's mission pulled off the longest air-breathing hypersonic flight ever, officials said. [See Video of the X-51A's Final Flight]
"It was a full mission success," Charlie Brink, X-51A program manager for the Air Force Research Laboratory Aerospace Systems Directorate, said in a statement.
Source : Huffington Post : Read the whole story here.Aviationtechnology
VATICAN CITY (The Borowitz Report)—Pope Emeritus Benedict’s return to the Vatican began on a sour note today as the current Pope, Francis, reprimanded him for rolling his eyes sarcastically during meetings, observers said.
The trouble started when the former Pope showed up at a meeting Francis scheduled to discuss plans for his Christmas mass, a meeting that “Benedict wasn’t even invited to,” a Vatican source said.
“It was awkward,” the source said. “Francis started talking about making an appeal to the world’s poor, and then Benedict started sighing in this really loud and obnoxious way.”
After about ten minutes of suffering through Benedict’s sighing and eye-rolling, Francis “totally called him out on it,” the source said, adding, “What Benedict was doing was totally disrespectful. Plus, he is supposed to be retired, so he shouldn’t have been wearing his Pope costume.”
Reached at his apartment at the Vatican, Benedict downplayed the incident, saying he “was just trying to be helpful.”
Source : The New Yorker : Read the whole story here.Catholic Churchreligionfunny
A new study presented on Saturday challenges the assumption that an old toothbrush can carry germs that cause illnesses.
A team of experts at the University of Texas Medical Branch were unable to find any strep germs on more than a dozen toothbrushes used by children with strep throat.
However, those researchers did find potentially harmful germs on two brand-new toothbrushes right out the package.
‘I was just dumbfounded,’ Dr. Lauren Shepard, who led the university’s toothbrush research and presented her findings at a meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies on Saturday, told NBC News.
Source : Mail Online : Read the whole story here.Health
Disgraced Pennsylvania judge Mark Ciavarella Jr has been sentenced to 28 years in prison for conspiring with private prisons to sentence juvenile offenders to maximum sentences for bribes and kickbacks which totaled millions of dollars. He was also ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution.
In the private prison industry the more time an inmate spends in a facility, the more of a profit is reaped from the state. Ciavearella was a figurehead in a conspiracy in the state of Pennsylvania which saw thousands of young men and women unjustly punished and penalized in the name of corporate profit.
Source : Examiner.com : Read the full story here.JusticeCrime and Punishmentprisons
Paul Allen, the lesser known co-founder of Microsoft, has struggled for decades to make his mark as a business mogul beyond the software company he started with Bill Gates.
Since he quit Microsoft in 1983, the quiet Seattle native has lost billions of dollars on ill-conceived or mistimed technology investments, and he has been mocked as a juvenile playboy manque for spending lavishly on giant yachts and off-beat projects such as a Frank Gehry-designed rock museum.
But in recent years, Allen's ventures in decidedly low-tech sectors – sports teams, commercial real estate and energy pipelines – have come to look prescient.
Together with a new round of tech investments and an ambitious philanthropy program, they may yet establish Allen as much more than Gates' lucky junior partner.
Allen's NBA Portland Trail Blazers and NFL Seattle Seahawks, both purchased years ago for what appeared to be non-business reasons, are now worth many times what he paid for them. Even his part-ownership of the Seattle Sounders soccer team, which draws more fans than any other franchise in its league, is looking like a good bet.
At the same time, Allen has all but single-handedly transformed the once-shabby South Lake Union district near downtown Seattle into the Pacific Northwest's hippest tech outpost, anchored by Amazon.com Inc.
Source : The Age : Read the whole story here.Paul AllenmoneyMicrosoft
A magician will instantly see the truth behind any colleague’s illusion. But we have a bit of an advantage: We know we are being fooled. Scientists are instinctive doubters who employ a rigorous method to zero in on the truth, but they aren’t necessarily trained to expect deception by subjects and collaborators.
We can’t make magicians out of scientists — we wouldn’t want to — but we can help scientists “think in the groove” — think like a magician. And we should.
For most of my life I’ve pecked away at a certain type of swindler: faith-healers, mystics, mind-readers. Those of a certain age may remember my appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson — a skilled amateur magician himself who introduced my exposure of flummery to a huge television audience.
Mine was a lonely voice back then, but I’m not alone anymore. The immensely talented and popular Penn & Teller long ago joined me as foes of harmful deception, along with other magicians; the president of my foundation, D.J. Grothe, has a background in magic, and many of our associates are professional magicians, as well. They all agree with me that the Society of American Magicians and the International Brotherhood of Magicians should re-establish their once very active investigations of the fakers who claim supernatural powers.
It’s not something that is generally done, or maybe at all – I’d love to see one funding grant that has a line item for the services of a magician, if somebody out there has one. But it is long overdue that my peers in the conjuring profession try to take a more active role in the elimination of nonsense science by joining forces with scientists, and that scientists be open to the proposition.
Source : Wired Magazine : Read the whole story here.magicScienceJames Randi