Link Roundup! -The Toast

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I skipped the debate to catch up on Gotham (I cannot vote in this country, but would happily do so for whatever hairball the Democrats hork up for the general election.) I’m sure those of you who DID watch the debate want to talk about it! Please do so at this time.

Marlon James won the Booker!!


And yet, the explanation has to be rare or coincidental. After all, this light pattern doesn’t show up anywhere else, across 150,000 stars. We know that something strange is going on out there. When I spoke to Boyajian on the phone, she explained that her recent paper only reviews “natural” scenarios. “But,” she said, there were “other scenarios” she was considering.

Jason Wright, an astronomer from Penn State University, is set to publish an alternative interpretation of the light pattern. SETI researchers have long suggested that we might be able to detect distant extraterrestrial civilizations, by looking for enormous technological artifacts orbiting other stars. Wright and his co-authors say the unusual star’s light pattern is consistent with a “swarm of megastructures,” perhaps stellar-light collectors, technology designed to catch energy from the star.

“When [Boyajian] showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked,” Wright told me. “Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.”


There are currently 80,000 Mormon men and women serving on 418 different missions around the world. Most of them will remain healthy throughout their terms, which last two years for men and 18 months for women. Those who get sick or injured, however, may face serious obstacles in obtaining quality health care. The church declined to describe its approach to providing health care to its missionaries and declined to comment at all on this article. But two dozen former missionaries and other sources with knowledge of missionary life, including active church members, recount the same disturbing story: Missionary culture counsels strongly against seeking medical help. Injuries are downplayed. Authority figures block access to care. Psychological disorders are stigmatized.

carolyn hax, set this lady straight

I am slowly but happily responding to the many, many emails I have received re: awkward prayer piece from yesterday. Thank you for being so nice about it (even those of you who were horrified were nice), I have been word-vomiting on the internet since roughly 2005, but this was the first time I’ve ever really been nervous about it. Do not worry, The Toast is not going to become a Jesus pamphlet, I’m going to tell you my conversion story when it’s done, and then if I sometimes write a funny church listicle or something, that’ll be it.

My friend Carrie’s new puppy is running out of lap:


To the barricades:

Counting the closures of rural inns, high-street noise boxes, sticky-carpet boozers of the backstreets, it can be said that roughly 30 pubs shut every week in the UK; a rate of decline that, as one group of worried analysts has calculated, would mean total elimination of the British pub by the 2040s.

The massive number of pubs in Britain, something between 50,000 and 60,000, is credited by some to the Black Death. Plague-struck, the 14th-century Britons who had not been annihilated were left in an emptier land, earning higher wages, perhaps better inclined to enjoy themselves. They spent more time and money than ever before in purpose-built taverns or private residences that would sell them drink. Some 700 years later, the pubs themselves have contracted a form of plague. Call it the Black Development.

Obama and Marilynne Robinson (!!!!!):

The President: How do you reconcile the idea of faith being really important to you and you caring a lot about taking faith seriously with the fact that, at least in our democracy and our civic discourse, it seems as if folks who take religion the most seriously sometimes are also those who are suspicious of those not like them?

Robinson: Well, I don’t know how seriously they do take their Christianity, because if you take something seriously, you’re ready to encounter difficulty, run the risk, whatever. I mean, when people are turning in on themselves—and God knows, arming themselves and so on—against the imagined other, they’re not taking their Christianity seriously. I don’t know—I mean, this has happened over and over again in the history of Christianity, there’s no question about that, or other religions, as we know.

But Christianity is profoundly counterintuitive—“Love thy neighbor as thyself”—which I think properly understood means your neighbor is as worthy of love as you are, not that you’re actually going to be capable of this sort of superhuman feat. But you’re supposed to run against the grain. It’s supposed to be difficult. It’s supposed to be a challenge.

Just did the Telegraph‘s Which Brontë Are You? quiz with my teeth clenched lest I be Branwell.

Update: EAT SHIT, I’m EMILY, fuckers!

Oh, my:

An Upper East Side aunt is suing her pre-teen nephew for six figures over a broken wrist she suffered when he excitedly jumped into her arms to hug her at his 8th birthday party. Her lawsuit claims his “negligent” and “careless” show of affection caused her serious injuries and losses, noting “I was at a party recently and it was difficult to hold my hors d’oeuvres plate.” Damn.

Tyler Coates on being conflicted about Milk:

Does the film knock its audience over the head with this message? Probably. In a pair of scenes, an anonymous gay kid from Minnesota contacts Milk. In the first, he tells him over the phone that he wants to kill himself because his parents are planning to send him to be cured of his homosexuality; he laments his inability to run away from home because he is wheelchair-bound. (I mean, a little much, yes?) In the second, on the night that Milk’s efforts to block the Anita Bryant-backed Briggs Initiative (which would have fired any homosexual teachers in California, as well as any teacher who expressed support for their homosexual co-workers), the same kid calls again to express his gratitude and and to tell Milk that he successfully fled to Los Angeles. It’s a scene so treacly and emotionally manipulative that it made me want to hurl a shoe at my TV.

BUT. But. Siiigh.

Deleted comments from a man who…has thoughts:

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