Short film on undocumented citizens in US: 'The Secrets of Strangers'

Video: "The Secrets of Strangers," directed by Rocsi Diaz (106th + Park, Entertainment Tonight).

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Domo Arigato Restaurant Roboto!

Chris Arkenberg visits an establishment where pop culture and history merge into a light show of singular magnificence.

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The return of hitchhiking

A web-based hitchhiking platform has been successfully tested in the Lawrence, Kansas area. (Wooo, Lawrence!) Now, it's expanding to the rest of the country.

What's your favorite myth?

Hunahpu-and-Xbalanque-Maya-Codex-at-Dresden

Not, like, modern misinformation on the Internet, but longstanding cultural myths, with characters and the gravitas that comes with being really, really old. Max Gladstone writes about his favorites at Tor. I'm a big fan of the origin story of the Maya hero twins Hunahpú and Xbalanqué, as told in the Popol Vuh.

“I F*cking Hate @RuPaul”

Filmmaker, writer, and trans activist Andrea James on the current state of post-disruption journalism and its unhealthy addiction to Twitter, and LGBT brain drain.

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The people who walk away from society

All this week Pacific Standard will be publishing profiles of people who have "opted out" — from hippie homesteaders to anti-government survivalists.

How do Muslims pray in space?

Pesco's post earlier today about a cleric who issued a fatwa against one-way trips to Mars got me wondering about how Muslim prayer works off-planet. After all, the timing and orientation of those daily prayers are based on Earth time and Earth geography. Fascinatingly, the Malaysian Space Agency actually convened a conference of 150 Islamic scientists and scholars to answer those very questions back in 2006. In a video, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, the first Malaysian astronaut, explains how life on the ISS changed (and didn't change) his religious life. (Thank you, Ty!)

A midnight army at the dawn of the web

Leigh Alexander recalls her adventures working with porn spambots in the 1990s, and the strange mixture of nostalgia and disappointment that remains.

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Fashionable diseases, past and present

Today, we are gluten sensitive. In the past, we might have had the vapors, or melancholy, or consumption. Throughout history, some diseases, even ones that are very real, have taken on social meaning and social cachet — becoming part of lifestyle identities as much as they are a part of biology. (And diseases might have a meaning in one social context that they don't have in others. Think about the difference between depression and depression when you are a teenager with a big poetry obsession.) The Fashionable Diseases research project is trying to bring these social meanings to the forefront. They've got a series of podcasts now, and a conference coming up in July.

North of Philly, a museum of dead tech

In Doylestown, Pennsylvania, there is a poured-in-place castle made of concrete and filled with archaic technology — a museum of tools that people no longer use because they've all been replaced by industrialization. You can visit.

Creepypasta, the new keystroke in horror

Clipboard-sized, unsettling, endlessly mutating pseudolore with dark and scary themes. Creepypasta is going mainstream. [Aoen Magazine]

Forgotten history: When the squirrels came to town

Prior to the mid-19th century, squirrels were thought of as fantastic woodland creatures, rather than the urbane, city-dwelling vermin they are today. In fact, the available evidence suggests that, up until this point, there really weren't a whole lot of squirrels living in cities in the United States — at least, not with the ubiquity that they now do. What changed? A couple of things, according to a paper published in The Journal of American History. First, human architects and city planners got really into the idea of urban greenspace for the first time, constructing elaborate parks like Central Park in New York. Second, the humans then imported squirrels from the countryside to add to the bucolic ambiance they were hoping these parks would foster. The rest, as they say, is all rodent breeding and natural selection.

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How To: Pronounce Nelson Mandela's middle name

The BBC's in-house linguists have an interesting piece about pronouncing words in Xhosa — a major language spoken in the region of South Africa where Nelson Mandela grew up. (Helpfully included in the story: How to pronounce "Xhosa".)

Rise of the Valleyguy

To linguists, the central feature of Valleygirl Dialect is the tendency to make a statement sound like a question. For decades, this has been considered not just part of Valleyspeak, but part of female speech. That's changing. Like, dudes are totally doing it, too.

Can the UN preserve intangible cultural assets?

As food goes globalized, UNESCO has started thinking about preserving cuisine as a cultural artifact, the same way it might preserve an ancient city. Japanese food got the nod last week.