Snowden: US attorney general promises not to torture me if I return to US

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Reason posted a transcript of Nick Gillespie's satellite link interview with national security whistleblower Edward Snowden, still exiled in Russia. Gillespie asked Snowden, "What would be the conditions under which you would voluntarily return to the United States?"

Snowden: It's evolved quite a bit. Originally, I volunteered myself for prison, but I said that I wouldn't allow myself to be held up as a deterrent to other people who are trying to do the right thing.

And that was fundamentally contrary to what the government wanted to do. They wanted to nail a scalp on the wall as a warning to the others. It was Daniel Ellsberg—who leaked the Pentagon Papers, the secret classified history of the war in Vietnam in 1971 that showed the government had not only lied us into the war, but they kept lying to us to keep us in it despite the fact that they knew there was no way to win—he told me that this was a mistake. Eventually he convinced me. To what do we owe our first loyalty? To law or to justice? To submit ourselves to a government that is intentionally trying to deter the political beliefs and political acts of other people merely on the basis of law, as though that were a substitute for morality or superior to morality, is a very dangerous precedent to set.

Most people might be surprised by this, but I'm still fairly more trusting in the value of government and institutions than Daniel Ellsberg, who has just been an extraordinary crusader and a true radical in the best way for more than a generation now.

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I'm Flash Forward podcaster Rose Eveleth, and here are my favorite tools

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Rose Eveleth is a journalist who covers how humans tangle with science and technology. She's the host and producer of Flash Forward, a podcast about the future, and has covered everything from fake tumbleweed farms to sexist prosthetics. Kevin Kelly and I interviewed Rose about her favorite tools on the Cool Tools podcast.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Show notes:

Top Tracker, FREE

"This is a time tracking tool. Basically, you can tell it projects and you can start and stop tracking. ... It's also useful because it serves to delineate tasks that I'm doing where I have to be very conscious about, "Okay, now I'm going to do this." I have to type it in and I have to push the start button and then, I push the stop button when I'm done. It's a nice way to keep myself focused on a single task. ... I've been using Top Tracker now for about six months and I really like it, so that is my recommendation."

IUD

"I was trying to think of a technology that I use a lot, because of the podcast, I often think about, "What are surprising technologies that people forget about a lot of the time?" One of the things that I have inside of me that I use everyday to keep me safe and healthy is an IUD. ... I do a lot of reporting on bio hacking and people who put magnets under their skin. Read the rest

The "rising chimp" problem

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The new book, Einstein's Puzzle Universe, by Tim Dedopulos, is a compendium of good physics and logic problems. Here's one for you to solve:

Imagine that there is an even rope of negligible weight draped over a wheel, which permits it to slide perfectly freely. Equal lengths of the rope descend from either side. On the left side, the rope ends in a 10 kg weight. On the other side, perfectly level with the weight, is a young chimp, also weighing 10 kg.

When you give a signal, the chimp will start climbing the rope. Which of the two, the chimp or the weight, will reach the top first?

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Replace your AC outlets with this dual USB charger

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This AC outlet has two built-in USB charging ports. I have found it to be useful not only for phone charging, but for keeping bluetooth speakers charged, too. Reviewers on Amazon love it. One reviewer said it will charge two iPads at the same time. Amazon has them on sale for $18 right now. Read the rest

Jack Kirby's nightmarish double page spreads from The Demon (1972-73)

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When Jack Kirby bailed from Marvel comics in 1970 and started working for DC, his work become psychedelic and spiritual. Here are some of his wild two-page spreads for The Demon, which ran for 16 issues from 1972-1973.

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Fellow hoverboards near edge of skyscraper

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Oleg Cricket enjoys taking chances in high places.

ˢᶜᴱᴺᴱ ᶠᴿᴼᴹ ᴹᵞ ᶠᵁᴸᴸ ᵛᴵᴰᴱᴼ , ᴴᴼᵂ ᴬᴹ ᴵ ˢᵀᴵᴸᴸ ᴬᴸᴵᵛᴱ ? ᴵ ᴰᴼᴺ'ᵀ ᴷᴺᴼᵂ , ᴹᴬᵞᴮᴱ ᴵ'ᴹ ᴵᴹᴹᴼᴿᵀᴬᴸ ? #nophotoshop #KanyeWest #olegcricket

A video posted by ᎢᎻᎬ ONᎬ (@olegcricket) on Apr 12, 2016 at 4:12am PDT

I promised to show #nophotoshop

A video posted by ᎢᎻᎬ ONᎬ (@olegcricket) on Mar 26, 2016 at 9:57am PDT

You choose, #live or #die . I know my name and believe me , I'm sure about it . #110 floor

A video posted by ᎢᎻᎬ ONᎬ (@olegcricket) on Jan 21, 2016 at 4:20am PST

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How ink is made: a voluptuous process revealed in a mouth-watering video

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Ayun Halliday of Open Culture wrote about this luscious ink-making video. Read the rest

Pareidolia discovered on Mars

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People are stunned to have discovered numerous examples of pareidolia on the red planet. Lizards! Rats! Bigfoot! Pyramids! Frogs! Hovering alien spheres! Tharks!

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How to prepare fugu, the deadly poisonous pufferfish of Japan's sushi lore

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In this video we meet Yutaka Sasaki, a chef who prepares fugu, a fish that contains a lethal neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin.

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How to identify any language at a glance

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Professional word taster James Harbeck shows you how to identify different languages by identifying the unique characters they use.

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Bans on sketching in museums

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Artist James Gurney (creator of Dinotopia) explains why the Victoria and Albert Museum's decision to ban sketching in the special exhibition Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear stinks.

[B]anning sketching seems like an unfortunate policy. Museums should recognize the importance of sketching as a primary way that artists engage with the tradition. Rather than forbidding sketching altogether, it seems more reasonable to limit large drawing boards, easels, paints, sitting on the floor, or otherwise blocking visitors flowing through high-traffic exhibitions.

I think that sketching with pencil in a sketchbook 9 x 12 inches or smaller should be allowed anywhere. I'm not aware of any museum limiting note-taking with a pencil and a pad of paper. School kids routinely go through museums with clipboards. I see no reason to forbid sketching if it's done in neat, dry media in a hand-held pad.

Let's remember that many art museums began as extensions of art academies. Too many art museums these days think of themselves as extensions of the gift shop

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The excruciating process of applying for unemployment on a Kafkaesque Massachusetts state website

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When Jennie Rose Halperin left her job as a product engagement manager and researcher last month, she applied for unemployment benefits via Massachusetts Department of Unemployment website. She says, "I soon learned that a masters degree in Information Science and several years of work on systems and usability could not prepare me for the excruciating process of applying for unemployment in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

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Mississippi will not add domestic violence as grounds for divorce

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Mississippi has 12 grounds for divorce, including impotency, adultery, habitual drunkenness and incurable mental illness. But a bill that would have added domestic violence to the list died in the senate last week. Read the rest

Flip open a butterfly knife like a gentleman bastard

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In the latest episode of Scam School's Modern Rogue, Brian Brushwood and Jason Murphy show you how to open a butterfly knife without losing your fingers. Amazon sells trainer butterfly knives with dull blades, which is a good way to practice. Read the rest

Great way to store food: wide mouth mason jars and plastic caps

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For years we've been storing leftover food and drinks in wide mouth mason jars sealed with plastic caps. It's inexpensive and convenient. A 12-pack of Ball 16oz Wide Mouth Mason Jars costs $8.47 on Amazon and an 8-pack of Ball Wide-Mouth Plastic Storage Caps costs $5.32. So, each container cost about $1.40.

Carla stores cold brew coffee in them. When its time to drink one, she adds a little halfs and half, stirs it up and it's ready to consume. Read the rest

Good, inexpensive loose-leaf black tea

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A couple of weeks ago I complained about buying 1.7 ounces of Teavana English breakfast tea for $9 ($5.20 per ounce). I wanted to try a cheap loose leaf English breakfast tea so I ordered a 32 ounce bag of Coffee Bean Direct English Breakfast Loose Leaf Tea on Amazon for $28 ($0.88 per ounce).

I have been drinking it for a few days and I like it at least as much as the Teavana - strong and flavorful and not at all bitter. This two-pound bag is a bargain. At 6 grams per cup, it'll make 150 cups ($0.19 a cup).

I'm sure I'm doing it wrong - but here is how I have been preparing it:

10 ounces boiling water

6 grams loose leaf tea

Steep for 5 minutes.

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Ted Cruz: 'America has always been best when she is lying down with her back on the mat'

Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz. [Reuters]

Whatever you say, Ted.

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