This whole “trust Tumblr blindly” thing is eventually going to kill someone, as I became pointedly aware of on one occasion I was making fun of how poorly a particular bleach-based drain declogger was working on my sink and got a chorus of really dangerously misinformed people telling me to pour vinegar in after it because all cute little cool kid diy home care blogs they’re following talk about vinegar like it it’s the big secret the cleaning companies don’t want you to know.

And I cringed knowing that someday, some Well Actually expert who read a blog article once is going to give that advice to someone who unfortunately didn’t take high school chemistry and isn’t aware that MIXING VINEGAR AND BLEACH MAKES CHLORINE GAS.

holy fucking jesus tits reblog to save a life

See also: Mixing ammonia and bleach

Trufax: I once dated a plumber, so I knew this little factoid. Still – yeah, signal boost for important chemistry FACTS.

I don’t know what high school chemistry you were taking, but they NEVER taught me this in school. Not even a home ec class. Like, i learned about this from “The Boy Called It” and this literal post.

And if you don’t know, chlorine gas was used as a chemical weapon during WWI, and its effects were so terrible that it’s banned under the Geneva Protocol.









A vertical forest is expected to be completed this year in Milan. There are two tower apartment complexes which contain a total of 400 residential units. The facade of the buildings will be covered with 730 trees, 5,000 shrubs, and 11,000 perennial plants. It is expected to have the same ecological impact as 10,000 square meters of forest.

Aside from fighting smog and producing oxygen, the foliage is expected to provide insulation to the residential units.

It’ll be really cool to see how these trees grow in order to maximize access to sun, water, and nutrients. Also, a step towards a sci-fi solar punk future – I’m in.

I sure hope the structural engineers planned for the buildings to increase in mass as the trees grow.

Well, or else for maintenance labor to keep the trees rigorously trimmed to prevent too much increase in mass.  Or both?  (The wikipedia article says the engineering team consulted botanists and horticulturists in planning how much weight the buildings could bear, so it seems likely that the fact that trees grow would have come up.)

This is a pretty cool idea regardless and I hope they get it right.  I wonder if anyone will do anything like this in New York.

This falls in the “I really hope they do it but I’ll believe it when I see it” category for me.

It’s been up for 2 years, inaugurated in October 2014, and still going strong. It’s won multiple awards. 

Here they are building it.

Bosco Gardeners hang around outside the building.

Change of Seasons…

And a view from the place itself. 





Male and female brains aren’t wired differently

New research, published in October in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded that despite size discrepancy, there’s no functional difference between men’s and women’s brains. “Male” brains and “female” brains simply don’t exist. In fact, there’s significant overlap.

and the myth of binary biological sex and gender essentialism continues to come crumbling down


Europe announces that all scientific papers should be free by 2020


This week was a revolutionary week in the sciences – not because we
discovered a new fundamental particle or had a new breakthrough in
quantum computing – but because some of the most prominent world leaders
announced an initiative which asserts that European scientific papers
should be made freely available to all by 2020.

This would legally only impact research supported by public and
public-private funds, which are a vast portion of the papers produced
annually; however, the goal is to make all science freely available.

Ultimately, the commitment rests on three main tenets: “Sharing knowledge freely”, “open access”, and “reusing research data”.

And it would totally transform the (long questioned) paid-for
subscription model that is used by many scientific journals.  It would
also undermine the common practice of releasing reports under embargo (a
method that allows scientific journals to favour certain science
communicators and members of the media to the great detriment of others).

Ultimately, this decision comes as a result of a meeting by the Competitiveness Council, which
includes the ministers of Science, Innovation, Trade, and
Industry.  European Union member states were in agreement regarding the
value of, and their commitment to, this new open access (OA) target.

If the 2020 target is met, it would mean that millions of people
(literally) would have free access to the knowledge and information
produced by experts in physics, astronomy, mathematics, engineering,
biology… it would make the sciences accessible to individuals in ways
that previous generations could only dream about.

European science chief Carlos Moedas calls it a “life-changing” move.

But as is true of all great revolutions, the goal will be difficult to achieve, and it will require much oversight and planning.

“The means are still somewhat vague but the determination to reach
the goal of having all scientific articles freely accessible by 2020 is
welcome,” notes Stevan Harnad of the University of Québec in Canada, who
is a longtime open access advocate.

Indeed, at the present time, the council has provided scarce
details related to how countries can expect to make the full transition
to open access and meet the deadline, which is less than four years
away.  That’s not too surprising, as the announcement was only just made a
few days ago.

But given the current state of scientific literacy, and the sad state of science communication,
well, the sciences need all the help they can get.  So this commitment
is almost unanimously welcomed by those working in STEM and associated

And indeed, it is a monumental task.  Case in point, consider the
Netherlands.  They are one of the most prominent advocates of open access
in Europe, and until very recently, their official target to reach full
open access for Dutch scientific papers was set at 2024.

As the League of European Research Universities (LERU) notes, this is “not an easy ambition”.

Ultimately, this announcement comes as part of a larger move to
provide open access to scientific knowledge.  As was just intimated, the
Dutch government, which currently holds the rotating E.U. presidency, has long spoken out in favour for Europe-wide Open Science, as had Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation.

And while it will not be an easy road, government officials assert that they are committed to the task.

“We probably don’t realise it yet, but what the Dutch presidency has achieved is just unique and huge,” Moedas said at a press conference.  “The commission is totally committed to help move this forward.”

“The time for talking about Open Access is now past.  With these
agreements, we are going to achieve it in practice,” the Dutch State
Secretary for Education, Culture, and Science, Sander Dekker, added in a statement.

To that end, while a spokesperson for the Competitiveness Council
admits the 2020 target “may not be an easy task”, all are quick to
stress the importance of the council’s new resolve.  “This is not a law,
but it’s a political orientation for the 28 governments.  The important
thing is that there is a consensus.”

So to continue with the metaphor, though all acknowledge that
there will be bumps and waylaid signs, all also agree that it is a road
worth traveling.

This article was originally published by Futurism.  Read the original article.


Europe announces that all scientific papers should be free by 2020



Using a series of sensors, Dua’s bot detects when a person is about to run into something and beeps to
them. The project took her a total of four days to build. Her prize is every Marvel fan’s dream.

Follow @the-future-now

This is great for people who, for whatever reason, are unable to have a dog.

Ironic Effects of Anti-Prejudice Messages







“The authors conducted two experiments which looked at the effect of two different types of motivational intervention – a controlled form (telling people what they should do) and a more personal form (explaining why being non-prejudiced is enjoyable and personally valuable).

In experiment one; participants were randomly assigned one of two brochures to read: an autonomy brochure or a controlling brochure. These brochures discussed a new campus initiative to reduce prejudice. A third group was offered no motivational instructions to reduce prejudice. The authors found that, ironically, those who read the controlling brochure later demonstrated more prejudice than those who had not been urged to reduce prejudice. Those who read the brochure designed to support personal motivation showed less prejudice than those in the other two groups.

In experiment two, participants were randomly assigned a questionnaire, designed to stimulate personal or controlling motivation to reduce prejudice. The authors found that those who were exposed to controlling messages regarding prejudice reduction showed significantly more prejudice than those who did not receive any controlling cues.

The authors suggest that when interventions eliminate people’s freedom to value diversity on their own terms, they may actually be creating hostility toward the targets of prejudice.”

Pretty concise explanation of why I think a lot of SJ tactics work exactly opposite to how they’re intended.

Ooh, neat research!

YES. someone finally did the science.

look, if you want to make the world a better place, don’t spread negativity. even if you are extra angry at crimes, your righteous anger just creates anger in others and you can’t direct their anger. only yours.

so use your anger as fuel instead of a weapon, and spread love instead of pain. instead of being like “bigots should die they are human garbage are you garbage???” be like “look at these wonderful diverse people and how great they are, join me in appreciating their greatness” and you will have much more success!

Nice works.

This is why I say that call-outs which are trying to actually change an individual’s behaviour (as opposed to venting anger at structural inequality – a completely different thing) should be constructive and aimed at the work or action, not the person.

People can’t hear criticism properly when it’s in the form of absolutes and ultimatums and backs them into a corner. It just seems like an attack, and self-protection takes up all their attention, with nothing left over to engage with the actual problem.

The article puts it this way:

‘According to Dr. Legault, “Controlling prejudice reduction practices are
tempting because they are quick and easy to implement. They tell people
how they should think and behave and stress the negative consequences
of failing to think and behave in desirable ways.” Legault continues,
“But people need to feel that they are freely choosing to be
nonprejudiced, rather than having it forced upon them.”’

In fandom, the “controlling practices” are bullying, dogpiling, and name-calling, and other forms of abuse. And it doesn’t work. It might make the people doing it feel better, but it actually makes the problem itself worse for that individual under attack. (Again, when the conversation is not directed at an individual, but rather pointing out a structural problem, a wider-ranging conversation which includes venting can be helpful. That’s not what I’m talking about here.)

Jay Smooth talks about this too, and gives some really useful advice about calling out racism in a way people are more likely to hear. The same technique can be used for sexism and homophobia and other forms of prejudice too.

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I have said this before, but I’ll say it again: fannish social justice spaces fall apart and become toxic because they don’t separate therapeutic space from social activist space. 

In real world activist circles most movements have two strands – providing therapeutic space, and providing activist space. Of course the two are related, but you can’t have both happening in the same place at the same time. 

A therapeutic space is either straight up support groups, or more round about things like community-specific art groups, writers groups, celebrations, performances, readings etc, where a group dealing with the impact of prejudice on their lives can come together to vent their anger and sadness and discuss their experiences. These are safe, affirming environments and, most importantly, people from the privileged class responsible for our trauma (be it straight people or white people or cis people or men or abled people) are generally given little if any access to these spaces. They are not FOR the privileged class, it would be destructive for everyone involved for them to be present. These are the spaces where anger can and should be expressed and heard and validated. 

These therapeutic spaces are INCREDIBLY important for building community and helping each of us deal with the constant hum of trauma that occurs when we live in a society that is violently opposed to our very existence. 

An activist space, on the other hand, is about looking out into the world and looking at what we can do to effect external change, achieve practical results like law changes – it’s protests and rallies, removing bad people from positions of power, letter writing campaigns, distributing facts and figures to those in power to back up our arguments and yes, going out and educating individuals were it seems like it would be constructive to do so. And sometimes, it’s about being pragmatic about our emotions, putting them aside and addressing someone on their own terms in order to achieve a goal. 

Sometimes that means not directing rage and frustration and pain at someone with privilege, even when they deserve it, even when your rage and frustration is completely justified – because that simply won’t help. Instead you have to address them calmly with an argument you know will actually sway them, rather than make them defensive and angry themselves.

Activist spaces sometimes require you to store up that rage and bring it back to a therapeutic space later, where it’s safe to vent, rather than unleashing it on someone when you know that doing so will ultimately harm your cause in the long run. 

Unfortunately on tumblr and in a lot of online communities, the two spaces get conflated a LOT. People feel the need – and have the right – to express their rage at a privileged group… but instead of finding a safe space to do it in, they dogpile and ‘call out’ and inevitably (given tumblr’s demographic breakdown) get into arguments between different groups that upset pretty much everyone involved, and continue to do all this cathartic stuff in the name of ‘activism’ because it feels good to finally express personal trauma. And when anyone suggests a slightly more practical approach they get jumped on for ‘silencing’ or ‘invalidating’ someone’s experiences.

Processing trauma by screaming at a fifteen year old who said something transphobic is not ‘activism’, it’s you trying to work out personal trauma in the wrong space. Similarly commenting on a piece of fanwork that someone created as an expression of their identity or to work through an experience they’ve had, and telling them that it’s ‘problemtic’ because it’s not wholly accurate to x,y, and z and trying to ‘correct’ their artwork is not activism, it’s interrupting someone’s therapy. 

The very nature of tumblr and most social media platforms right now make it difficult to disentangle these spaces online – there are no moderators or separate forums or LJ communities with specific guidelines for subject matter. But until we do, it’ll be almost impossible to have truly constructive social justice movements on these platforms. 

Ironic Effects of Anti-Prejudice Messages