Changing Swine, One Pig At A Time

Supplying food for the entire world is not easy, and when people have an ethical choice to make, it only makes the situation more complex. Factory farms have been under extensive, but deserved scrutiny within the last few years, and now, the somewhat daunting task of creating a morally acceptable, feasible livestock system is in the hands of the general public and the nation’s largest corporations. The pig is the most popular animal for consumption worldwide (about 40 percent of all meat consumed), making their living environment a highly controversial issue.

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Mourning Sitcoms: When Networks Kill What They’re Trying to Save

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The Fox military sitcom Enlisted should’ve been a success. It had a talented ensemble cast, was headed by Kevin Biegel, one of the people behind the excellent sitcoms Scrubs and Cougar Town, and, most importantly, it was really, really funny. Yet Fox, for reasons I can’t parse out, decided to air episodes out of order, resulting in characters suddenly dating several episodes before being introduced to one another, rivalries appearing out of thin air only to be explained weeks later, and a general sense that there were no real stakes in the show. After weeks of declining ratings in a nonsense time slot (Fridays at 9 P.M.), Fox canceled Enlisted. For a first-season half-hour broadcast sitcom, it costs about $1 million per episode, give or take a few hundred thousand dollars. So why would a network go to all the trouble of buying, producing, and airing a sitcom, only to air the episodes out of order, alienate viewers, then ditch the show for another?

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Bigger than LeBron: How SportVU Will Change Basketball

Image via Sport Techie

Imagine if you could track everything—and I mean everything—that happens during the course of a basketball game. Well now SportVU and the NBA have brought that technology into the hands of every team in the league. What they do with it, and how basketball responds, could revolutionize the game.

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When Gas Changed Everything: A History of The Flatulence Industry

I’m sitting uncomfortably in my chair waiting for her to arrive. Tucked away in the Fulton River District of Chicago the restaurant is overpriced, bland, and a bit stuffy. I’m nervous—sweating. Sweating. Sweating. Sweating. Beads of saline waste collect under my arms, on my palms, and across my forehead. I quickly wipe my forehead with my sleeve, hoping nobody notices. She’s so beautiful and much too smart for me. What’s a PhD student at the University of Chicago doing with me. I think. There’s no way she’ll ever love my farts.

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Caught in Conflict: An American in Israel

Hovering high over north Tel Aviv, fading puffs of smoke from an intercepted rocket from Gaza

The past four days Tel Aviv has been targeted with rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. They travel 40 miles up the Mediterranean coast of Israel before reaching the city. It’s a routine. The missiles are fired between the busy commuting hours of 8 and 9 am to cause maximum disruption to Israeli society. The early warning sirens go off with a modulating wail, giving people one a minute and a half to find cover in a stairwell or one of the city’s hundreds of bomb shelters, which the government ordered opened a few days ago. As the rocket approaches the city, an interceptor missile is fired at the rocket from Israel’s Iron Dome system to detonate it in mid-air.

The first day everyone in my dormitory at Tel Aviv University ran to the shelter and stayed there for the recommended 10 minutes. When we heard the two booms—first the Israeli Iron Dome interceptor missile and then the Gaza rocket—we looked at each other uneasily. The second day everybody walked to the shelter, waited for the booms, and left. The third day I just didn’t manage to get myself out of bed so early. The fourth day I was already awake but in the shower when the siren went off, so I simply closed myself in a windowless bathroom, my heart racing a little, and awaited the expected thud. Instead a series of loud booms shook the building. I looked out my kitchen window minutes later and took the above picture. High over Tel Aviv two wisps of smoke linger, presumably from an interceptor rocket.

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Bikesharing is caring: How personal transportation is changing cities

When I moved to Chicago this past September, one of the first things I did was buy a yearlong pass to its recently-installed Divvy Bike program. I’d deemed it too expensive to move my bike out from my parents’ house in the San Francisco Bay Area, but it seemed silly to spend hundreds of dollars on a new bike just because I’d moved. I wasn’t sure how much I would use the system – especially because Chicago’s public transit system, for all its faults, puts San Francisco’s to shame—but I bet that I’d get my $75 worth out of it.

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Why Aren’t Presidential Libraries Better?

See LBJ in a whole new way

On a recent weeklong trip to Texas to visit family friends, I visited the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum in Austin, Texas. It’s a strikingly ugly and dull building on first impression—beige and overbearing and bland. A life-sized faux bronze statue of Johnson greets you at the door, imposing at 6’4”.

There’s, obviously, lots of archival and historical information about Johnson in the library. A decades-spanning mural covers several walls detailing the major events in Johnson’s life. There are several floors of official archives (45 million of them), presumably about or by Johnson, that are only accessible through a Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, request.

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No. Switching Typefaces Will Not Instantly Save The Government $400 Million

“Change your typeface, save millions,” cry the masses after reading a recent CNN article. It’s the perfect sensational story. A middle-schooler has found a way to save the government money just by changing the typeface used on official documents.

14-year-old Suvir Mirchandani’s says if we change the default typeface to 12-point Garamond, the US Government could save between $62 and $394 million annually. It seems like an elegant and simple solution, but Mirchandani’s research ignores basic concepts of typography and leads to false conclusions.

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A’s For Athletes: How UNC-Chapel Hill is Fumbling for Academic Standards

“Athletes couldn’t write a paper; they couldn’t write a paragraph; they couldn’t write a sentence,” says Mary Willingham, a former academic counselor for athletes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Some of these students could read at a second or third grade level but really that is, for an adult, considered illiterate.”

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Girls: Hannah’s Dead Inside – S3 E4

Hannah realizes she’s “Dead Inside.”

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Commentary Ticker

  • Google Glass Lets You Take Photos With Your Brain
    July 12, 2014 | 4:02 pm

    If you haven’t heard, electroencephalograms (EEGs) have been getting better. Way better. Artificial limbs and even video game controllers are utilizing the non-invasive brain-wave monitoring method to guide computers by thought. Now English startup This Place has developed a way to bring the technology to Google Glass, allowing Google’s wearable to read your mind. Well, […]

  • Android Art: The Accidental Selfies of Google Art Project
    July 5, 2014 | 11:11 am

    Within the cultural centers of the world lurks a mechanical beast draped in silver spinning madly and capturing everything, sometimes even itself. In 2011 Google created the Art Project, an initiative to bring their Street View technology inside the cultural epicenters of the world. Google enlisted 17 world-class museums in short time. Institutions such as […]

  • Purple Mountunes Majesty: The Most Patriotic Playlist
    July 4, 2014 | 12:13 pm

    A while ago, Paul Lamere of The Echo Nest, a music-analysis company, took to finding each state’s most distinctive, yet popular, artist in a viral article. Spotify took note, purchasing Echo Nest for their analytical talent. Together, they’ve released a blog post documenting each state’s most distinctively American song creating a patriotic playlist for the […]

  • Emojinealogy: Where the Heck Emojis Come From
    July 2, 2014 | 3:10 pm

    On June 16th, the Unicode Consortium announced that 250 new emoji would be added to the list of symbols available to people’s cellphones and computer devices. The list of the new symbols can be found on Emojipedia. And no, the list doesn’t include the much needed minority representation, but it does include your favorite (?) […]

  • The Decline and Fall of the American Mall
    June 24, 2014 | 9:07 pm

    For ages, the shopping mall was as essential to the architecture of suburbia as Levittowns and freeways. But in an era of online shopping, these epicenters of brick and mortar yesteryear are quietly being abandoned across the country. While the U.S. currently has around 1,500, the number may soon shrink, and rapidly, leading to abandoned […]

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