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The World Needs More Moral Heroism Like This

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For the NY Times, rabbi David Wolpe writes about the moral courage of Chiune Sugihara, The Japanese Man Who Saved 6,000 Jews With His Handwriting.

In 1939 Sugihara was sent to Lithuania, where he ran the consulate. There he was soon confronted with Jews fleeing from German-occupied Poland.

Three times Sugihara cabled his embassy asking for permission to issue visas to the refugees. The cable from K. Tanaka at the foreign ministry read: “Concerning transit visas requested previously stop advise absolutely not to be issued any traveler not holding firm end visa with guaranteed departure ex japan stop no exceptions stop no further inquires expected stop.”

He wrote the visas anyway…thousands of them.

Day and night he wrote visas. He issued as many visas in a day as would normally be issued in a month. His wife, Yukiko, massaged his hands at night, aching from the constant effort. When Japan finally closed down the embassy in September 1940, he took the stationery with him and continued to write visas that had no legal standing but worked because of the seal of the government and his name. At least 6,000 visas were issued for people to travel through Japan to other destinations, and in many cases entire families traveled on a single visa. It has been estimated that over 40,000 people are alive today because of this one man.

What moral heroism. Fred Rogers often quoted his mother as saying, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” That message was directed at young children who he wanted to help feel secure. For us adults, Rogers might have encouraged us to exercise more moral courage and become those helpers, not just look for them. The world today could use more of that.

Tags: Chiune Sugihara   David Wolpe   Fred Rogers   Holocaust
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iridesce
1 hour ago
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nj
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Someone sent a severed goat’s head and a threatening note to a Russian independent newspaper

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Someone wants to scare the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta. On October 18, a basket appeared outside the paper’s newsroom. Inside was a severed goat’s head and a note reading, “To Novaya Gazeta’s chief editor. Greetings to you and Korotkov!” A day earlier, a funeral wreath was delivered to the office, attached to a note that said, “Denis Korotkov is a traitor to the Motherland.”

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iridesce
2 hours ago
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nj
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Kurt Vonnegut on the Role of Artists in Society

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In times of turmoil, it can be tough to feel like the work you do to support you and your family is also nourishing to society, if you’re doing “enough”. For artists and writers at least, Kurt Vonnegut had a compelling call to duty as messengers from the near future. As part of an address to the American Physical Society published as “Physicist, Heal Thyself” in the Chicago Tribune Magazine in 1969, the author wrote:

I sometimes wondered what the use of any of the arts was. The best thing I could come up with was what I call the canary in the coal mine theory of the arts. This theory says that artists are useful to society because they are so sensitive. They are super-sensitive. They keel over like canaries in poison coal mines long before more robust types realize that there is any danger whatsoever.

He said something similar in a 1973 interview in Playboy:

Writers are specialized cells doing whatever we do, and we’re expressions of the entire society — just as the sensory cells on the surface of your body are in the service of your body as a whole. And when a society is in great danger, we’re likely to sound the alarms. I have the canary-bird-in-the-coal-mine theory of the arts. You know, coal miners used to take birds down into the mines with them to detect gas before men got sick. The artists certainly did that in the case of Vietnam. They chirped and keeled over. But it made no difference whatsoever. Nobody important cared. But I continue to think that artists — all artists — should be treasured as alarm systems.

(via nitch)

Tags: Kurt Vonnegut   working
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iridesce
21 hours ago
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nj
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How the Mercator Projection Distorts the True Sizes of Countries on Maps

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Data scientist Neil Kaye made this map to show how much the popular Mercator projection distorts the sizes of many countries, particularly those in the Northern Hemisphere.

Mercator Adjusted

The distortion in the animated version is even clearer. Key takeaway: Africa is *enormous*.

See also the true size of things on world maps.

True Size Map

Tags: maps   Neil Kaye
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popular
21 hours ago
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iridesce
21 hours ago
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nj
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1 public comment
MotherHydra
2 days ago
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Low information students forgot that map distortion was taught in school.
Space City, USA

Unanswered questions about Crimea's college massacre

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Around noon on October 17, eighteen-year-old Vladislav Roslyakov opened fire on his classmates and instructors at Kerch Polytechnic College in eastern Crimea. He shot and killed 18 people and then turned his gun on himself. As federal investigators try to make sense of the tragedy, there are still many unanswered questions about this school massacre. Meduza reviews the biggest questions still unanswered on day one.

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iridesce
21 hours ago
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nj
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The Twerking Robot

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Hot off the heels of their video showing a humanoid robot casually doing parkour, Boston Dynamics has made a clip of their robot dog doing a hip hop dance routine to Uptown Funk.

While the robot in the parkour video looked distinctly un-human at times, I have to say that this dog robot is a much better and more fluid dancer than I expected — it’s got better moves than most of the people I’ve seen dancing at Midwestern weddings. The robot does what looks like the running man and then twerks while mugging for the camera. I don’t know what level of cultural appropriation this is and Boston Dynamics is probably just doing this to distract from the whole Terminator narrative, but was anyone else the tiniest bit jealous of and turned on by (and then deeply ashamed of those feelings) the robot’s moves?

Tags: dance   robots   video
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iridesce
21 hours ago
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nj
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