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The Weird, Random, and Interesting things that Fit Nowhere Else Thread


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Rather than start a completely new thread on its own for this... I'll throw it out here.

 

The British Monarchy rolls along with the Queen's 90th birthday today...

 

BBC - Queen has been "rock of strength for our nation."

 

 

 

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Queen with her youngest grandchildren and great-grandchildren

 

The Queen has been "a rock of strength for our nation" and the Commonwealth, Prime Minister David Cameron has said in a tribute to mark her 90th birthday.

The Prince of Wales has recorded a special radio broadcast for the day, in which he reads an edited passage from William Shakespeare's Henry VIII.

Celebrations get under way later as the Queen takes part in a walkabout in Windsor and lights a symbolic beacon.

A photograph of the monarch with young Royal Family members has been released.

The image, one of three taken by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz, shows the Queen surrounded by her five great-grandchildren and her two youngest grandchildren.


 

Gun salutes take place around the UK starting from noon, while the prime minister is expected to lead tributes to Britain's longest serving monarch in the Commons.

The reading by Prince Charles, which has been broadcast by the BBC, is an extract from a speech by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer to King Henry VIII after the birth of the future Queen Elizabeth I.

 

In his own tribute later, Mr Cameron is expected to say: "Her Majesty The Queen has lived through some extraordinary times in our world.

"From the Second World War to the rations with which she bought the material for her wedding dress.

"From presenting the World Cup to England at Wembley in 1966 to man landing on the moon three years later.

"From the end of the Cold War to peace in Northern Ireland.

"Throughout it all, as the sands of culture shift and the tides of politics ebb and flow, Her Majesty has been steadfast - a rock of strength for our nation, for our Commonwealth and on many occasions for the whole world."

The other Leibovitz photographs show the monarch walking in the grounds of Windsor Castle with four of her dogs and sitting with her daughter, the Princess Royal.

 

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The image of the Queen with the young royals was taken in the Green Drawing Room, part of Windsor Castle's semi-State apartments just after Easter.

In it, the Queen - in the tradition of royal portraiture - holds her youngest great-grandchild Princess Charlotte, who is 11 months old, in her arms.

Also appearing in the image is two-year-old Prince George, Zara Phillips's two-year-old daughter Mia Tindall, who holds the Queen's famous black handbag, and Peter Phillips's daughters Savannah, five, and three-year-old Isla.

 

The Queen is also joined by the two youngest of her eight grandchildren - the Earl and Countess of Wessex's children - James, Viscount Severn, eight, and Lady Louise Windsor.

 

The monarch's birthday celebrations get under way later with a walkabout in Windsor.

Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, she will unveil a plaque marking The Queen's Walkway - a 6.3km trail that links 63 significant points in Windsor.

The trail was designed to recognise the moment the monarch broke the record on 9 September 2015 held by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria by being on the throne for 63 years and seven months.

 

Royal gun salutes will be fired from each of the UK's capital cities and at other authorised stations across the UK.

Most of the salutes will be 21 guns in length - the standard royal gun salute - and will be held at locations including Hillsborough Castle, Cardiff Castle, and Edinburgh Castle.

In London, the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery will stage a 41-gun salute at midday in Hyde Park. And the Honourable Artillery Company will fire a 62-gun salute across the Thames from the Tower of London at 13:00 BST.


Birthday cake

In the evening the Queen will be accompanied by Prince Philip, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, as she lights the first of more than 900 beacons across the UK and the world to mark her birthday.

 

Members of the Army cadet force will take beacons to the top of the highest peaks of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Some of the beacons will be specially-built gas-fuelled structures, while others will be traditional bonfires or braziers on top of tall wooden posts.

The monarch will also be presented with a birthday cake at the Guildhall by the Great British Bake Off champion Nadiya Hussain, who has baked an orange drizzle cake with a butter cream and marmalade filling.

 

To coincide with the Queen's birthday, the largest exhibition of the Queen's clothes and accessories ever shown in Scotland will open at the Palace of Holyroodhouse later.

The display has been selected to cover the Queen's life and reign and includes evening and day wear.

On Friday, US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will be joining the Queen for lunch at Windsor Castle.

The Queen each year celebrates two birthdays, with her actual birthday on 21 April and her official birthday on a Saturday in June.

Celebrations of her official birthday this year take place from 10-12 June.

 

 

"Cuius testiculos habeas, habeas cardia et cerebellum."

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China warns women dating foreign men

 

 


The government of China has a dire warning for its female government workers: the foreign men they are dating could be sinister spies hoping to steal state secrets. They have even distributed a comic to help women understand the consequences.

 

The notice was explained with the 16-panel story of Xiao Li ("Little Xi"), a young female civil servant who falls prey to a handsome foreigner's charm - and gives away sensitive documents as a result. In the comic, a scholar named Dawei (or "David") woos her with endless compliments, fine dining, and a romantic walk in the park. He then convinces her to put the People's Republic in jeopardy. "Darling, there shouldn't be any secrets between us," David tells his lover.

The comic ends with both David and Xiao Li being arrested by law enforcement. As it turns out, her boyfriend was a spy - which China warns is a growing problem.

 

CNN Questions The Seriousness
On the streets of Beijing, few seemed to be taking the cartoon's message seriously...But the Chinese government's push for greater security awareness shouldn't be taken lightly says, William Nee, Amnesty International's China analyst.

 

USA TODAY Follows In Step
China frequently runs propaganda and public awareness campaigns — and they are rarely sophisticated. Beijing traffic police produced a cartoon in 2013 that targeted the "mistakes commonly made by women drivers."

 

INQUISITR Calls It A Fear Tactic
There is a lot more China has to deal with, but it seems their latest threat are spies. It is now being reported the country is warning their women that handsome foreign men can be spies. They are doing such through comic posters titled Dangerous Love.

China's National Security 'Crisis'

The cartoon, titled "Dangerous Love",  initially appeared at the bottom of a notice issued by China's Ministry of State Security on April 15, marking the country's first "National Security Education Day", according to a Beijing news website. It then appeared on billboards throughout the Xicheng district - a large financial hub where many foreigners live and work.

China is currently encouraging foreigners to apply for "green cards" to work in the country as part of an effort to strengthen its economy. News of the campaign comes as a state employee named Huang Yu was sentenced to death for allegedly stealing state secrets and selling them to a foreign intelligence service.

 

It's not known how effective China's latest round of propaganda will be. Most people in the country frequently ignore notices like these. It's likely the campaign has little to do with national security, and a lot to do with a communist dictatorship making desperate attempts to maintain its cultural sovereignty. Chinese officials should know by now that protectionism and internationalism don't mix.

 

 

"Cuius testiculos habeas, habeas cardia et cerebellum."

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http://Robot monk blends science and Buddhism at Chinese temple

 


Xian'er can hold a conversation by answering about 20 simple questions about Buddhism and daily life, listed on his screen, and perform seven types of motions on his wheels.

 

Master Xianfan, Xian’er’s creator, said the robot monk was the perfect vessel for spreading the wisdom of Buddhism in China, through the fusion of science and Buddhism.

 

Never attribute to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence.

 

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Heh, a boutique hotel in Durham, North Carolina just put up new signs on their public bathrooms..

 

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"Cuius testiculos habeas, habeas cardia et cerebellum."

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The Chargers Dog Draft presented by Petco will take place on April 30th at 9 am at Qualcomm Stadium section O-1. The Dog Draft (adoption) will be administered by Second Chance Dog Rescue of San Diego, Calif. This event will be free and open to the public.

 
On the day of the event, a limited number of dogs from Second Chance Dog Rescue will be available for adoption at the O-1 location. Adopters who are not quite ready to adopt yet, but would like to start the process, can have a consultation with rescue staff to answer important questions.
 

 

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All Stop. On Screen.

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Heh, a boutique hotel in Durham, North Carolina just put up new signs on their public bathrooms..

 

15657465-1461349521-640x360.jpg

 

 

I wonder what that braile says?

Looks like "We don't care" to me. Not a Braille expert though.

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Yeah, what I learned from video games is that if you're driving in your stolen car and you see a Hare Krishna procession you have to try to drive over all of them for bonus points.

Edited by JadedWolf
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Never attribute to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence.

 

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As we eagerly await the reconstituted GSC Gameworlds' (hopefully) eventual next installment of STALKER, a moment to reflect on its subject matter:

 

 

The Battles of Chernobyl

by Alex Wellerstein

 

At 1:23 in the morning on April 26, 1986, Unit 4 of the V. I. Lenin Nuclear Power Station exploded, tearing the top off the reactor building and exposing the core to the Ukrainian wind. A few seconds later, it exploded again, this time with the force of ten tons of TNT. Burning graphite, molten bitumen, and radioactive debris—the misshapen half-atoms left over when uranium is split apart—were launched into the night sky. The Battle of Chernobyl, as the disaster came to be called by Soviet historians, had begun. The flames raged on through the night. In the ensuing days, helicopters flew sorties over the reactor, dropping sand to impede the fire and boron to slow the ongoing reaction. All told, thirty people were killed in the explosion and the cleanup that immediately followed. It took half a million workers, the so-called liquidators, more than six months to cover the ruined reactor with a protective concrete dome, aptly known as the sarcophagus. Even today, the work is not complete. A massive new steel shelter, designed to fit over the sarcophagus, is scheduled to be finished next year, but it is meant to contain the reactor for only another century—longer than the life of a person, but a fraction of the half-life of some of the contaminants present. The Battle of Chernobyl had a clear beginning, but what of its ending? Was the fight only against flame, fallout, and technological calamity, or was it a campaign against something broader? Thirty years after the fact, it’s worth reëxamining how the battle got started, and how it continues.

 

When people wish to downplay the strangeness and complexity of nuclear power, they sometimes argue that reactors are not much different from teakettles: both use a heating element to boil water and produce steam. This is true only in a very basic sense, in the same way that a paper airplane and a Boeing 747 share certain aerodynamic properties. A reactor is an immensely convoluted machine, full of interlocking, non-linear systems. In most plant designs, the flow of water around the core must be constant, because the heat of fission can damage the reactor if it is not sapped away. Keeping the water moving requires pumps, which run on electricity from outside the reactor complex. In the event that this external power fails, a backup system kicks in.

 

The Chernobyl meltdown originated in what was meant to be a demonstration of the plant’s safety, specifically of its ability to switch between these power sources. The test was several years overdue, and it was performed at a particularly dangerous juncture. The reactor, a Soviet-designed RBMK-1000, was coming to the end of its fuel cycle, meaning that the uranium in its core was mostly depleted, leaving behind a motley mix of radioactive by-products. This made the reactor’s operation less stable than usual, and much harder to control. When the test finally did happen, it was poorly scheduled. Rather than taking place under the supervision of the seasoned day crew, it was delayed ten hours, to 11 P.M. on April 25th, and left to the night crew. These technicians disabled the reactor’s emergency-cooling system—not a mistake, exactly, since the system would otherwise have overridden the test, but also not a maneuver to be left in inexperienced hands.

 

The operators made a critical error right at the start. They inserted the control rods—graphite-tipped cylinders of boron carbide that slow or stop a nuclear reaction—too far into the reactor. This decreased its output so much that there was not enough energy left over to power the water pumps when the switch-over occurred. The operators ought to have cancelled the test at this point, and indeed they proposed doing so, but a supervisor overruled them. In an attempt to bring the reactor back up to an appropriate level of power, they raised the control rods. The reactor was now in a curious, quasi-stable condition: it was running cooler than normal, because of the complicated chemistry of the spent fuel in the core, but it could easily swing out of control. When the operators realized this, they attempted to shut it down completely, reinserting the control rods in an operation known as a scram. As the rods descended, however, they briefly displaced coolant from the core. The temperature spiked, causing the control rods to get stuck, and a runaway reaction began. Then came the two explosions.

 

For many people in the West, Chernobyl has served as a kind of referendum on nuclear power. Those who oppose it see the disaster as the ultimate embodiment of industrial folly. They point to evidence, extremely difficult to confirm, of increased rates of cancer and birth defects in the region around the plant. Those who support nuclear power, meanwhile—a slight majority of Americans today—argue for better and safer reactors and more competent operators. But Chernobyl has also had a strong and lingering political legacy. The Soviet state shared no small part of the blame for the accident, yet even in the era of glasnost it was unwilling to admit it. (Outside the U.S.S.R., the first indication that something was amiss at the plant came not from Soviet authorities, who initially kept quiet, but from a nuclear-power station in Sweden, where fallout, carried by the wind and tracked in on an employee’s shoes, set off the alarm during a routine screening for radioactivity.) To condemn the design of the RBMK-1000, much less nuclear technology itself, was to criticize Soviet know-how and jeopardize other economically necessary reactors of the same type. Human error was the only politically viable explanation. In the spring of 1987, Chernobyl’s operators and engineers were subject to what the historian Sonja D. Schmid has called “perhaps the last show trial of the Soviet era.” Not surprisingly, they were convicted.

 

There was the battle against the fire, and then there was the battle over its political meaning. Today, there is the battle of memory. The Internet is replete with videos of disaster tourists visiting the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, sometimes with Geiger counters. Poke around in the bushes or buildings and you can sometimes find something “hot”—a rubber boot or glove, a piece of misshapen graphite. Stories abound of wild animals retaking the zone, and haunting photographs of the abandoned town of Pripyat—especially of the ruins of its carnival grounds—are now a staple of social media. (A friend of mine who visited Chernobyl not long ago noted that there was a suspicious overabundance of gas masks and creepy dolls in the town’s most cinematic locations.) But it is a mistake to assume, amid the Cold War nostalgia and post-apocalyptic romance, that Chernobyl was ever really relinquished. The undamaged portions of the plant were in operation until 2000, run by workers who were paid triple their normal wages. There are even some people—mostly elderly—who have, illegally and unadvisedly, returned to their homes nearby, sometimes eating crops grown in the contaminated soil. The acute radioactivity, the sort that can induce radiation sickness and kill people quickly, has largely decayed. The lingering fallout poses a long-term threat to anyone who inhabits the area, but if these people are old to begin with, and small in number, they are likelier to die of other causes.

 

The late sociologist Ulrich Beck wrote that risk can help human societies rediscover the importance of collective action and responsibility. But risk is a tricky thing to wrap one’s head around, especially once the fires have gone out. Does Chernobyl indict an entire industry, or does it show that, even at its worst, it isn’t that bad? The truth seems to be somewhere in the middle. Chernobyl was a disaster, but it was not the apocalypse. It was a highly specific event—specific to the reactor and to the Soviet state that it was conceived in. But it should give us pause to reflect generally on the high costs of technological mismanagement and deferred maintenance. It is easy to dismiss a few thousand extra cancers, out of the hundreds of thousands of cancers caused by other sources, when they are not in the bodies of our loved ones; it is easy to say that the Exclusion Zone is relatively small when it is on the other side of the world. These battles of Chernobyl are still being waged, but there may be no winners in the war.

Edited by Agiel
Quote
"Turned wrong way round, the relentless unforeseen was what we schoolchildren studied as 'History,' harmless history, where everything unexpected in its own time is chronicled on the page as inevitable. The terror of the unforeseen is what the science of history hides, turning a disaster into an epic.”

 

-Philip Roth, The Plot Against America

 

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FBI will not share iPhone unlocking mechanism, cites lack of ownership

 

"The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Wednesday it did not own the rights to the technical method a contractor used to open an Apple iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters and therefore could not submit details of the mechanism for an interagency government review.

Amy S. Hess, the FBI's executive assistant director for science and technology, said in a statement that when it hired an outside party to unlock the phone, the agency did not purchase the rights to the technique.

As a result, Hess said, the FBI does not "have enough technical information about any vulnerability" in the iPhone to submit for the interagency review."

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For a little bit of history and philosophy... A reminder on how history cycles and what was relevant to a moment in the past, can be relevant in the current day.

 

At a time of Zealotry, Spinoza still matters

 

The article runs a little dense to be quoted fully here, but it might interest a few folks.

 

 


Spinoza is a role model for intellectual opposition to those who try to get citizens to act contrary to their own best interests

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People who are led by passion rather than reason are easily manipulated

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If The Tempest moves one toward justice and mercy, or Hard Times toward love and charity, then these works too are divine and sacred

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‘The right of the sovereign should be restricted to men’s actions, with everyone being allowed to think what he will and to say what he thinks’

"Cuius testiculos habeas, habeas cardia et cerebellum."

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This is the world’s largest crystal ruby. Mark Mothersbaugh had the gem carved in the shape of an ice cream cone.

 

“A few years ago I became friends with a gemologist, and I saw all these gems that he had lying around, one of which was this big ugly stone that I picked up. “That’s the world’s largest ruby you’re holding.” He didn’t know what to do with it, so next time I saw him I asked if I could carve it. It’s right over there. [Points across the room to a glass case.]

I was thinking: Who do you sell the world’s largest ruby to? Somebody who’s uber-rich. And people don’t get uber-rich unless there’s something dark attached to it. It’s always communists in China, or drug dealers in South America, or oil people in Russia. It’s those kinds of people who are going to want the world’s largest ruby. And I wanted to **** with them in some way. So I said: I’m going to carve it into a turd. But it will look like a custard. I’m going set it on top of a cone, and it will look like a sweet-treat, but really it’s a turd. They’ll buy it because it’s the world’s largest ruby, but only I’ll know that it’s a turd.“ - Mark Mothersbaugh

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"Cuius testiculos habeas, habeas cardia et cerebellum."

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The first annual Chargers Dog Draft presented by Petco was a huge success.  Put on in-conjunction with Second Chance Dog Rescue, Chargers fans had the opportunity to meet dogs available for adoption and even adopt or foster them.

 

“The event went really great; we had a bigger turnout than expected,” said Megan Steele-Knight, President of Second Chance Dog Rescue.  “We placed five dogs in homes and we have about four dogs that we’re following up on applications from the event.  They’re meeting with the foster families this week so we’ll probably have some more adoptions.”

 

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All Stop. On Screen.

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For the random amusement and world social news...

 

 

Obama's and the Royal Family trade comments over the Invictus games

 

 


Kensington Palace and The White House traded good-natured barbs on Twitter earlier today for a great cause: the 2016 Invictus Games, which will be held this year in Orlando, Florida.

The games were started in 2014 by Prince Harry — himself a veteran of the Global War On Terrorism — as a sporting event for veterans injured and wounded in war.

First Lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by the president, tweeted a video to the United Kingdom's Prince Harry as an apparent reply to an earlier challenge issued by the prince to "bring it."

"Cuius testiculos habeas, habeas cardia et cerebellum."

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NewYorker - GOP's War on Science

 

 

 

During last fall’s midterm election campaign, “I’m not a scientist” became a standard Republican answer to questions about climate change. The line seemed to invite parody, and Stephen Colbert (among others) obliged. He played clips of House Speaker John Boehner, then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Florida Governor Rick Scott all offering, more or less word for word, the same refrain. “Everyone who denies climate change has the same stirring message,” Colbert observed. “ ‘We don’t know what the **** we’re talking about.’ ”

 

The line worked—or, at least, didn’t not work—and Republicans won both houses of Congress. Now, it seems, they are trying to go one better. They are trying to prevent even scientists from being scientists.

 

Last week, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, headed by Texas Republican Lamar Smith, approved a bill that would slash at least three hundred million dollars from NASA’s earth-science budget. “Earth science, of course, includes climate science,” Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Texas Democrat who is also on the committee, noted. (Smith said that the White House’s NASA budget request favored the earth sciences “at the expense of the other science divisions and human and robotic space exploration.”) Johnson tried to get the cuts eliminated from the bill, but her proposed amendment was rejected. Defunding NASA’s earth-science program takes willed ignorance one giant leap further. It means that not only will climate studies be ignored; some potentially useful data won’t even be collected.

 

The vote brought howls of protest from NASA itself and from wider earth-science circles. The agency’s administrator, Charles Bolden, issued a statement saying that the bill “guts our Earth science program and threatens to set back generations worth of progress in better understanding our changing climate.” In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, Marshall Shepherd, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Georgia and the former president of the American Meteorological Association, said that he could not sleep after hearing about the vote. “None of us has a ‘vacation planet’ we can go to for the weekend, so I argue that NASA’s mission to study planet Earth should be a ‘no-brainer,’ ” he wrote.

 

The vote on the NASA bill came just a week after the same House committee approved major funding cuts to the National Science Foundation’s geosciences program, as well as cuts to Department of Energy programs that support research into new energy sources. As Michael Hiltzik, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, noted, the committee is “living down to our worst expectations.”

 

The practical implications of the proposed cuts are certainly disturbing. (It’s going to be hard for D.O.E. to find new energy sources if it isn’t even looking for them.) But perhaps even more distressing is the mindset that led to them. The “I’m not a scientist” line is basically a declaration of willed ignorance. You might think people entrusted by voters to craft public policy would be embarrassed to acknowledge, to paraphrase Colbert, that they have no idea what they’re talking about, and don’t want to.

 

“Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what? I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and at N.O.A.A., and at our major universities,” President Barack Obama put it a few few months ago, in his State of the Union address, referring to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “And the best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate.”

 

Cutting NASA and the N.S.F.’s climate-science budgets isn’t going to alter the basic realities of climate change. No one needs an advanced degree to understand this. Indeed, the idea that ignoring a problem isn’t going to make it go away is one that kids should grasp by the time they’re six or seven. But ignoring a problem does often make it more difficult to solve. And that, you have to assume, in a perverse way, is the goal here. What we don’t know, we can’t act on.

 

“It’s hard to believe that in order to serve an ideological agenda, the majority is willing to slash the science that helps us have a better understanding of our home planet,” Representative Johnson wrote. Hard to believe, but, unfortunately, true.

 

 

"Cuius testiculos habeas, habeas cardia et cerebellum."

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The differences between integration and inclusion are always a tricky one in my eyes.  It is fairly natural for groups that share commonalities to want to group together.  Under good economic circumstances, this can lead to unique districts within cities that each have their own cultural personalities.  But when the economic circumstances are bad, you get ghettos and friction.

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