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These 15 Albums Might Actually Make 2016 Tolerable

Mother Jones

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Each year, Mother Jones‘ favorite music critic browses through hundreds of new albums and pulls out maybe a couple hundred for his weekly reviews. But only a few can make the final-final cut. Below, in alphabetical order, are Jon Young’s super-quick takes on his 15 top albums for 2016. (Feel free to heartily disagree and share your own faves in the comments.)

1. William Bell, This Is Where I Live (Stax): The tender, moving return of an underrated soul great.

2. David Bowie, Blackstar (Columbia/ISO): The Thin White Duke’s eerie, haunting farewell.

3. Gaz Coombes, Matador (Hot Fruit Recordings/Kobalt Label Services): Grand, witty megapop from the former Supergrass leader. (Full review here.)

4. Bob Dylan, The 1966 Live Recordings (Columbia/Legacy): A massive compilation of every note from his notorious tour. (Full review here.)

5. Margaret Glaspy, Emotions and Math (ATO): No-nonsense relationship tales that rock out with insistent verve.

6. Hinds, Leave Me Alone (Mom + Pop/Lucky Number): Frayed, rowdy femme-punk straight outta Madrid.

7. Jennifer O’Connor, Surface Noise (Kiam): Tuneful, deadpan folk-pop with a cutting edge. (Full review here.)

8. Brigid Mae Power, Brigid Mae Power (Tompkins Square): Hair-raising solo acoustic performances by an Irish chanteuse. (Full review here.)

9. Dex Romweber, Carrboro, (Bloodshot): A colorful Americana kaleidoscope from a master balladeer and rockabilly shouter. (Full review here.)

10. Sad13, Slugger (Carpark): Sadie Dupuis’ solo debut, poppier than her band Speedy Ortiz, and exuberantly feminist.

11 & 12. The Scientists, A Place Called Bad (Numero Group); and Blonde Redhead, Masculin Feminin (Numero Group): The great Chicago reissue label scores again with retrospectives devoted to The Scientists, Australian trash-rockers from the ’70s and ’80s, and Blonde Redhead’s ’90s shoegaze-noise recordings amid the chaotic New York scene. (Full review here.)

13. Allen Toussaint, American Tunes (Nonesuch): The gorgeous final works of the New Orleans R&B genius. (And here’s our recent chat with Toussaint collaborator Aaron Neville.)

14. A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service (Epic): The long-overdue return, and devastating goodbye, of a hip-hop institution.

15. Various Artists, The Microcosm: Visionary Music of Continental Europe, 1970-1986 (Light in the Attic): An eye-opening survey of vintage new age music in all its oddball, unexpected glory.

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These 15 Albums Might Actually Make 2016 Tolerable

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Good Thing Cats Are Adorable, Because They Get Away With a Lot of Crap

Mother Jones

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Few creatures are as cute, cunning, or controversial as the common household cat. Despite their taste for blood, enigmatic demands, and unpredictable mood swings, cats have managed to claw their way into homes, hearts, and Youtube channels like no other domestic animal. While these stealthy creatures are much better at stalking than being stalked, it’s believed there could be anywhere from 600 million to 1 billion house cats worldwide. On the most recent episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast, Indre Viskontas sits down with cat enthusiast and science writer Abigail Tucker to discuss her new book, The Lion in the Living Room, and to explore the complicated role cats have in ecological systems across the globe.

Here are 10 of the best cat facts from our interview with Tucker. We’ve mixed in some adorable cat videos, because—let’s not kid ourselves—that’s the whole reason you clicked on this post. You’re welcome.

1. Cats are stalkers.

And they’re really good at it. Unlike their ferocious lioness cousins that hunt in packs to take down prey, domestic cats use a solo stalk-and-ambush style of hunting that requires more brains than brawn for calculated, well-timed pounces. It’s this stealth that makes them so efficient at snagging even the most deft of critters.

2. American house cats consume the equivalent of 3 million chickens every day.

#fatcat #cat #cats #anchorage #alaska #alaskacat #moose #pensivekitty #pensivecat #catbelly #sittingcat #redleather #hungrykitty #hungrycat #hungry #whitebelly #cutekitty #cutecat #catsofinstagram #catsitting

A photo posted by Moose E (@mooseyfatcat) on Oct 22, 2016 at 10:10pm PDT

3. The average Australian cat eats more fish than the average Australian does.

#catfishing #cat

A video posted by Paul (@fellhose) on Oct 23, 2016 at 10:41am PDT

4. More house cats are born every day than there are wild lions in the entire world.

If African lions could reproduce at the same rate as their domestic brethren, they’d probably have an easier time getting off the endangered species list. Lions typically only rear 2-3 cubs over a two-year period, but female domestic cats can become pregnant at just four months old and produce an average of 8-12 kittens a year. That’s a lot of kitty litter.

Snug as three kittens in a rug. â&#157;¤ï¸&#143;

5. Cats cannot live on rats alone.

While it’s common to find cats in alleys where rats are prolific, that’s not actually because the cats want to feast on the rodents. As Tucker explains, what’s actually happening is that cats and rats are feeding on the same resource: trash.

#rat #cat #catrat #ratcat #unlikelyfriendships

A photo posted by Dogs & Money (@dogs_and_money) on Aug 17, 2016 at 10:49am PDT

6. Cats don’t meow to each other.

They only meow to us. It’s just one of many ways they bend us to their will.

#SiLuxusRagdolls #ragdollkitten #ragdoll #ragdollcat #hungry #starving #starvingcat #nokibblejustmeat #meowing #loudkittens #gimmemyfood #haha #catstagram #catsofinstagram #ragdollsofinstagram #ragdoll_feature

A video posted by Tina Si’Luxus (@tina.si.luxus) on Oct 21, 2016 at 1:26am PDT

7. Cats are Native to West Africa and the Near East.

Today, however, they flourish on every continent except Antarctica.

#catstagram #catmap #map #cat #catsofig #power

A photo posted by Alexis Oltmer (@alexisoltmer) on Jun 19, 2016 at 1:33pm PDT

8. Your cat is probably carrying a deadly brain-dwelling, baby-blinding parasite.

Toxoplasmosis is caused by a single-celled parasite called Toxoplasma gondii that’s transmitted through, among other things, cat feces, and can cause seizures and severe eye infections in people with compromised immune systems. Cleaning the litter box, touching anything that’s come in contact with cat feces, or ingesting contaminated soil, fruit, or vegetables (you know your garden is just a giant litter box, right?) are just a few of the ways Toxoplasma can find its way into your system. While complications are rare (pregnant women and infants are at a higher risk), more than 60 million people in the United States may be infected—most don’t experience any symptoms.

#cat #cattoilet Focky

A photo posted by Silvia Campos (@silvia_cmcampos) on Sep 22, 2016 at 1:26pm PDT

9. Cats are classified as an invasive species.

As mysterious, brilliant, and fluffy as they are, cats have developed quite the wrecking-ball reputation. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Felis catus is one of the 100 worst invasive species on Earth. The list includes non-native species that “pose a major threat to biodiversity,” agriculture, and human interest.

#cat #cats #croatia #pag #otokpag #catinvasion #catparty #campingcar #hills #hungrycats #waitingcats #partycats #loadsofcats #instacats #velebit #catswarm #catcar

A photo posted by Volker von Choltitz (@grottenboy) on Oct 8, 2016 at 7:01am PDT

10. Love them or hate them, cats have mastered human-animal relations like no other species.

They have us wrapped around their paw and they know it.

Happy 7th birthday to Downey!!!! #catbirthday

A photo posted by Tiffany R. Bloom (@figglyboogles) on Oct 21, 2016 at 12:07pm PDT

To hear more about how Felis catus became what Tucker calls “the most transformative invaders the world has ever seen” (as well as America’s most popular domestic pet), check out the rest of the the Inquiring Minds episode.

Inquiring Minds is a podcast hosted by neuroscientist and musician Indre Viskontas and Kishore Hari, the director of the Bay Area Science Festival. To catch future shows right when they are released, subscribe to Inquiring Minds via iTunes or RSS. You can follow the show on Twitter at @inquiringshow and like us on Facebook.

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Good Thing Cats Are Adorable, Because They Get Away With a Lot of Crap

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I went and made all new Teslas autonomous, says Elon Musk. You’re welcome.

According to a study by Australian researchers, adding very small amounts of a particular seaweed to bovine diets could reduce the amount of methane cows release by up to 99 percent.

The seaweed, Asparagopsis taxiformis, produces a compound called bromoform that disrupts the enzymes that make methane in a cow’s gut, the Conversation reports. And methane in cows’ guts is a serious issue because it escapes into the atmosphere in the form of burps (and to a lesser degree, farts). Livestock is a major global contributor to methane emissions, and methane traps 86 times more heat than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame.

While this reduction in cow methane has only been demonstrated in the lab, if adding seaweed works in the field, it could be a big benefit to this ol’ planet we call home — and further evidence that seaweed in general may be the salty savior we’ve been looking for. Beyond its potential application in reducing cow burps, seaweed is also inexpensive, resilient, easy to grow, and improves aquatic ecosystems by filtering excess nitrogen and phosphorous from the watershed and reducing ocean acidification.

So while we are loathe to attach the term “miracle” to any food, seaweed might actually warrant it.

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I went and made all new Teslas autonomous, says Elon Musk. You’re welcome.

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Airbnb is trying to address its racism problem.

Australian architect James Gardiner wants to use 3D-printing technology to build structures for coral to grow on in places where reefs are decimated by disease, pollution, dredging, and other maladies (looking at you, crown o’ thorns).

Right now, artificial reefs are built out of uniform, blocky assemblages of concrete or steel. Those are cheap and easy to make, but don’t look or work like the real thing — for starters, because “the marine life that colonizes these reef surfaces can sometimes fall off,” one biologist told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Gardiner worked with David Lennon of Reef Design Lab to design new shapes with textured surfaces and built-in tunnels and shelters. The computer models are turned into wax molds with the world’s largest 3D printer, and then cast with, essentially, sand. It’s a cheap and low-carbon way to manufacture custom, modular pieces of reef.

Reef Design Lab installed the first 3D-printed reef in Bahrain in 2012 — and, eight months later, it was covered with algae, sponges, and fish.

Mandatory disclaimer: Rebuilding all of the world’s coral reefs by hand is impossible, and climate change is still the biggest threat facing coral reefs, so let’s not forget to save the ones we’ve got.

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Airbnb is trying to address its racism problem.

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Why Is Donald Trump Trying to Raise Money From Legislators in Iceland?

Mother Jones

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The latest weirdness from the Donald Trump campaign is its June fundraising efforts. Trump is apparently having trouble raising money from the usual Republican suspects, but wants to avoid the embarrassment of yet another FEC report showing that he has no money. So he’s turning to small-dollar fundraising via email. This shouldn’t have been a problem. Conservatives mastered this approach to raising money a long time ago, so all Trump had to do was hire one of the many firms who have accumulated gigantic email lists and specialize in wringing donations out of ordinary citizens.

But apparently he didn’t do that. For the past few days, reports have come in of people overseas being spammed with Trump fundraising emails. And not just any foreigners: members of foreign parliaments. This is peculiar, to say the least. First, it’s illegal. Foreigners aren’t allowed to contribute to presidential campaigns. Second, it’s easy to avoid. Just purge your email list of addresses ending in .uk, .dk, etc. Any experienced email shop would already have done this. So where did Trump’s email list come from?

Josh Marshall has been following this for several days, and he has a theory:

So Tim Watts is my new best friend in the Australian federal parliament. MP Tim Watts. Needless to say, we’re pals now because he’s getting bombarded by the Trump campaign asking for money to fight ‘Crooked Hillary’….When I chatted with Tim last night (US Time) he said he’d gotten two more Trump emails in the last 7 hours hours. But when he showed me the emails, something pretty weird was immediately apparent.

They weren’t actually just from Trump. One was from the Trump campaign. The other was from a pro-Trump Super Pac called Crippled America PAC.

Now, normally (i.e., completely separate from anything to do with Trump) it would be entirely unremarkable that someone was getting fundraising emails both from a campaign and also Super PACs supporting the campaign. They’re likely both buying lists from the same vendor or even different vendors of likely Trump voters.

But remember, Tim is a foreign citizen and part of the government in another country. We’ve already speculated about the various ways all these foreign legislators could have ended up on Trump’s list. The more we’ve looked into it, it seems increasingly implausible that he got this list from a list vendor. Not impossible just not likely at all. It now seems more probable that the Trump Organization simply had these emails in some business related database and decided to dump them into the email hopper for the fundraising blitz or just found some site that had a zip file of foreign government officials and used that.

….Given what I’ve said above, the existence of this list almost has to originate in Trump Derpland. A virtual certainty. So how did the same list end up in the hands of a Trump SuperPac? I looked up Crippled America PAC and as of their last filing just a couple weeks ago, they’re total budget was $40. No m or b after that $ sign, forty bucks, the price of a fancy dinner. So obviously CAP was just stood up and actually started operating just now. And now they’re showing up in Tim’s inbox.

Marshall believes that this is a pretty obvious sign of coordination between the Trump campaign and a Trump Super PAC, which is a big non-no. What’s more, they didn’t even bother trying to hide it. There are undoubtedly ways they could have coordinated while still passing legal muster, but either they didn’t have time for that or didn’t know they weren’t allowed to coordinate or just didn’t care.

Wherever the list came from, I guess it’s a pretty lousy one: I’ve gotten several Trump fundraising emails too, and I’m pretty sure there’s nothing in my background that suggests I’d be soft touch for a Trump donation. Conversely, I never received a Ben Carson email while he was busy with his campaign grift. Apparently he at least cared enough to hire a decent vendor.

A sample from Monday is on the right. It comes from contact@victoryemails.com, whatever that is. I got another one from rnc@gopvictory.com, which I suppose originates from the Republican National Committee? All very strange.

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Why Is Donald Trump Trying to Raise Money From Legislators in Iceland?

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