What the stampede at JFK airport tells us about fear

Photo: @locodoggy

Travelers mishearing applause apparently triggered a full-scale "stampede" at JFK, complete with screaming crowds, people shouting about guns, and police running around aimlessly with weapons drawn. It was shut down for hours.

The fact that there was no attack at the center of it was both the weirdest and the scariest part — that an institution whose size and location and budget should make it a fortress, in a country that has spent 15 years focused compulsively on securing its airports, in a city with a terrifyingly competent anti-terror police unit, could be transformed into a scene of utter bedlam, stretching out from all eight terminals across the tarmac and onto the adjacent highways, by the whisper of a threat. ...

For several hours, we were in the flood of panic and chaos of an ongoing act of terror. There’s no other way to describe it. That it was an overreaction almost doesn’t matter; in fact, that is how terrorism works.

Hysterical fear was always the invisible counterweight to security theater. Each is as real as the other. Read the rest

Get high-end Fulltouch blackboard chalk from Japan before it disappears forever

fulltouch

The Blackwing of chalks, Fulltouch is beloved of mathematicians who despair now that the manufacturer, Hagoromo, is out of business.

Gizmodo's Sarah Zhang explains this legendary … chalk.

The first thing you notice is a shiny, clear coating on the outside — it feels like a thin layer of enamel. That sounds like a minor design element, but it cuts down on the biggest annoyance with chalk: dusty fingers.

Academics are breathless with awe at this incredible … chalk. Satyan Devadoss, a Williams College math professor, writes of the "Dream chalk."

There have been rumors about a dream chalk, a chalk so powerful that mathematics practically writes itself; a chalk so amazing that no incorrect proof can be written using this chalk. I can finally say, after months of pursuit, that such a chalk indeed exists.

I have just bought a $60 box of chalk.

I do not own a blackboard.

Hagoromo Fulltouch White Chalk 72pcs [Amazon referral link]

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Lithograph of the Salem Witch Trials

Joseph E. Baker's "Witch No. 1" (1892) is a stunning lithograph illustrating the imagined events that are part of the mythology of the horrific Salem Witch Trials of the late 17th century. To learn more, check out Smithsonian's "Brief History of the Salem Witch Trials." Read the rest