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The Persistence Of Punk


It will be 40 years in December, 2015, since the release of Patti Smith’s “Horses,” on Clive Davis’ Arista label, arguably the beginning of the punk movement, emanating from New York’s underground in the mid-’70s, ushered in by both the Velvets and the New York Dolls, not to mention the Stooges, MC5 and Lenny Kaye’s influential ’60s “Nuggets” collection.

Despite its initial boast that “anybody can do it,” dispelling the myth of musicianship and putting the tools of production into the hands of the (sometimes) ignorant, punk proved to be quite resilient, even with its back to basics approach. The universal mourning over the death of Tommy Ramone sharpens the observation that what his band did wasn’t quite as simple as it seemed.

Still, for a musical style that seemed monolithic and ephemeral, punk has outlasted any number of contemporary styles, absorbing influences along the way and mutating into something that has endured in many different forms.

More at Billboard

The Greatest Double Agent In History

Juan Pujol Garcia

In 1941, Juan Pujol Garcia approached intelligence officers at the British embassy in Madrid to “offer his services” in the war against the Nazis. To the men and women of Britain’s security services, it was not a particularly compelling offer. In the words of Amyas Godfrey, a British expert on military history, [Pujol] “was no James Bond — he was a balding, boring, unsmiling little man.”

A former chicken farmer who managed a one star hotel in Madrid, Pujol had spent much of the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s locked in an apartment with the lights off, making no noise so as to avoid being noticed and arrested. He had no background in espionage. British intelligence rebuffed his offer, all but laughing him out of the embassy, according to journalist Stephan Talty, author of Agent Garbo.

More at Priceonomics

People Are Clueless About Placebos


Picture a placebo. You’re likely thinking of a sugar pill—a stand-in medication for countless clinical trials where one group gets the pill with the miracle drug and the other group gets the medical equivalent of Tic-Tacs.

Most people have a basic understanding of placebos and why they’re necessary in scientific experiments. However, placebos are also viable options for treating patients in clinical settings. It’s more than just a mind game: Placebos, researchers have found, “can stimulate real physiological responses, from changes in heart rate and blood pressure to chemical activity in the brain.”

More at Pacific Standard

The Potato Salad Kickstarter Is The Science Fiction Villain We Deserve

Potato Salad

As of writing, a Kickstarter campaign for “just making potato salad” has raised $37,115. Every few seconds that number climbs higher, and each uptick is greeted with cheers. It’s a self-perpetuating humor machine, and it is horribly efficient. There is no joke, at least not anymore; whatever joke there was has become an adaptive, joke-like arrangement of circumstances. It is a perfect device, compatible with all known theories of humor and therefore with none of them.

More at The Awl

Why Has The Concept Of Hell Survived So Long?


In December 2013, a hoax began circulating on the internet claiming that Pope Francis had called a Third Vatican Council that, among other things, purged a literal hell from Catholic doctrine. ‘This doctrine is incompatible with the infinite love of God,’ Francis purportedly said. ‘God seeks not to condemn but only to embrace… Hell is merely a metaphor for the isolated soul, which like all souls ultimately will be united in love with God.’ The piece quickly went viral on Facebook and other social media platforms – minus the element of parody. The remarks did not seem too out of line with the new Pope’s own attitude of embrace over condemnation.

This January, an article in the US online magazine Religion Dispatches offered some clues as to why the story took off so dramatically. ‘Millennials Invent New Religion: No Hell, No Priests, No Punishment’ went the title. The author, the Rev Candace Chellew-Hodge, described how her students at a community college in Columbia, South Carolina, when tasked with inventing a new religion, uniformly avoided ‘a concept of hell, or any form of punishment for not following the prescriptions of the religion’. When asked why they had avoided hell, one student replied that ‘Religion today is so … judgmental.’ Chellew-Hodge took this to mean that her students lacked a ‘full-featured understanding of religion’, and so overlooked ‘the core ideas of human suffering, the concept of discipline, and the very real threat of punishment’.

More at aeon

The Strange Story Behind The Meteoric Rise Of An Unknown Penny Stock


Cynk Technology, an unknown social networking “referral service for introductions” whose stock has gained more than 24,000% over the course of a few weeks, traces its origins back to a Las Vegas event promoter named Kenneth Carter, who told BuzzFeed his original ambition was to make money connecting Jay Z and Lady Gaga to their fans.

Carter, or Kenny Blaque as he is professionally known, is listed on a public securities filing from January 2012 as the sole officer and director of Introbuzz, described as a service for celebrities to interact with their fans. Introbuzz was the precursor to Cynk, whose meteoric share price rise – from around 10 cents to $14.71 at the close of trading Wednesday – remains a mystery to both the financial world and even the company’s own former auditor. The only evidence of Cynk’s service is the website introbiz.com.

More at Buzzfeed

X Rayed Toys

X Ray Toy Gun

Photographer Brendan Fitzpatrick whose floral x-rays we first featured back in 2012, just released three new collections of x-ray photos including toys, creatures, and a new set of flowers, as part of his Invisible Light series. The photos are created with the help of a standard x-ray machine, but are artificially colored to help distinguish different materials.

More at Colossal

Can You Die From A Broken Heart?

Broken Heart

Ruth and Harold “Doc” Knapke met in elementary school. They exchanged letters during the war, when Doc was stationed in Germany. After he returned their romance began in earnest. They married, raised six children and celebrated 65 anniversaries together. And then on a single day in August 2013, in the room they shared in an Ohio nursing home, they died.

“No relationship was ever perfect, but theirs was one of the better relationships I ever observed,” says their daughter Margaret Knapke, 61, a somatic therapist. “They were always like Velcro. They couldn’t stand to be separated.”

More at Nautilus

The Bizarre (And Criminal) History Of The Vatican Bank

Vatican Bank

The Vatican Bank’s history reads more like Dan Brown than the financial pages, but its worst — and weirdest — days may be behind it. After a year of reorganization and reform that saw a 97 percent drop in profits, the Holy See installed a new set of overseers that includes a man who made his reputation closing down North Korea’s illicit bank accounts.

But what is the Vatican Bank and why do the Catholic Church and its 1.2 billion adherents need their own financial institution? Officially dubbed the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) and founded in 1942, the bank’s history has been defined by scandal, secrecy, and noncompliance with the West’s standard anti-fraud measures. In fact, calling the IOR a bank may be stretching the term. It doesn’t issue checkbooks or make loans, there are strict criteria and background checks for clients, and some of its clients-only ATMs have a Latin option.

More at Foreign Policy

Brooklyn Tween Metal Band Signs $1.7 Million Record Deal

Unlocking the Truth

With recent sets at Warped tour and this year’s installment of Coachella, the Brooklyn teens in the metal trio Unlocking the Truth have come a long way since their first shows busking in New York City parks. But Saturday, guitarist Malcolm Brickhouse, 13, bassist Alec Atkins, 13, and drummer Jarad Dawkins, 12, made even more strides forward, signing a record deal with Sony that’s potentially worth $1.7 million, according to The New York Daily News.

The former SPIN profile subjects are tied into a guaranteed two-album deal that with a $60,000 advance on their first album and up to a $350,000 advance on their second. If Sony picks up all of the options on the six-record contract, the mini-metalheads could snag the full multi-million dollar figure.

More at Spin