The best DC animated movies of all time

DC Comic’s cinematic universe might be off to a financially successful (if artistically shaky start), but DC animated movies have been wowing audiences for years. Starting with 2007’s Superman: Doomsday, DC Universe Animated Original Movies are drawn from the most significant stories in DC comics history. In a little, over 10 years, DC Comics has released 29 films, with even more on the way.

Unlike the cinematic adaptations, which have tried to build an expanded universe like Marvel Studios, DC’s straight-to-video animated movies celebrate the myriad takes on these classic heroes found in the comics. In other words, instead of trying to connect everything together, these full-length features, for the most part, simply strive to tell great standalone stories. Curious where to start? Here’s our list of the best DC animated movies to date. 

The best DC animated movies

1) Justice League: The New Frontier

DC Comics has been spinning tales since the 1930s, with the beloved Justice League forming in 1960. The New Frontier is a throwback tale to the post-World War II world of DC Comics, showing your favorite heroes as they join forces for the first time to defeat an otherworldly evil that threatens to destroy Earth. The New Frontier works as an introduction to these heroes for new fans and a love letter for devotees. Taking its time to explore each member of the Justice League, The New Frontier shows why characters with near-godlike powers would need humans like Batman and Green Arrow at their side.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Bros.

2) Green Lantern: First Flight

Part of what makes DC Comics so special is how they fully embrace the inherent weirdness of its characters. Take Green Lantern, for example. He’s a space cop with a green ring that can make anything its chosen owner thinks up, shoot laser blasts, and help its owner fly through space. The Green Lanterns have only one weakness, the color yellow. First Flight tells the origin of Hal Jordan, the first modern Green Lantern, as he is gifted his ring and forced to confront a powerful conspiracy within the Green Lantern Corps. 

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

3) Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

Batman isn’t just doom and gloom, especially when he partners with his old pal Superman. Following one of the duo’s best team-up storylines, Public Enemies finds the world’s finest heroes framed as enemies of the state by President Lex Luthor. With their worst enemy in charge of the country, our heroes must fight through their rogues gallery and friends alike if they hope to clear their names. Stuffed to the gills cameos, explosive action, and a giant mecha Batman/Superman robot Public Enemies is a reminder sometimes comics are best when they’re just fun.

Photo by IMDB/Warner Home Vidoeo

4) All-Star Superman

Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman is arguably one of the finest comic series in history. This reimagining of Superman presents us with a hero who finds out he has only one year to live. Endeavoring to live his remaining life to the fullest, All-Star Superman shows viewers the warm heart at the center of the Man of Steel. Some of the tonal shifts are a little odd, but by paying careful attention to recreating Frank Quitely’s art while honoring the spirit of Morrison’s story, All-Star Superman sets itself apart from other adaptations by crafting its own world. We know Superman isn’t dead, but it’s powerful to imagine how he would go out if he could on his own terms.

Photo by IMDB/Warner Home Video

5) Batman: Under the Red Hood

What mistake haunts you? For Batman, it’s the day he was unable to stop the death of Jason Todd, the second Robin, at the hands of the Joker. If Batman had been willing to kill the Joker early in his career, countless lives would have been saved, albeit at the cost of violating his own moral code. Is sparing the life of a villain worth the victims they’ll eventually take? It’s a question Batman must face when a new crime lord appears in Gotham, ready to spill blood in the name of protecting the city in a way our hero won’t. What starts as a hard-boiled crime drama soon takes a mystical turn, resulting in a rare and altogether satisfying Batman story.  

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

READ MORE:

6) Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

The Justice League may be heroes on our Earth, but what about the multiverse? It turns out on another alternate Earth, our heroes are are part of the Crime Syndicate, a villainous organization that has taken over the planet with eyes on conquering the multiverse. Crisis on Two Earths gives a delicious reimagining of these classic heroes as super villains whose acts of terror drive Lex Luthor to super heroics. It’s exhilarating watching these familiar heroes face their darkest instincts, with Batman in particular making choices that bring his status as a pure hero into question. Smart without being overwhelmingly dark, Crisis on Two Earths is brilliant from start to finish.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

7) Wonder Woman

Did you fall in love with 2017’s hit Wonder Woman live-action film? Make time for the far superior animated movie. While the beginnings of both films are strikingly similar, they diverge wildly during their second acts, with the animated Wonder Woman diving directly into the modern world in her battle against Ares. There’s a humanity to Wonder Woman that other superheroes often lack, in part because her separation for our society makes her more adept at noticing its problems. Sure, the world almost ends and the fight scenes are staggering, but this film would be worth a spot on this list simply for showing Diana to be the greatest hero in the DC universe. At bare minimum, if you have children sit them down and show them this scene if they ever try to argue about gender norms.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

8) Justice League: War

2011’s New 52 reboot was DC’s attempt at starting fresh after decades of continuity made reading their comics a chore for new fans. While the plan didn’t exactly work for the print books—DC returned to its original continuity in 2016—it did have its moments of brilliance, most notably, Justice League: War. It’s a thrilling retelling of how the New 52 Justice League came together to stop the vile intergalactic warlord Darkseid from destroying Earth. With incredible animation that rides the line between anime and the classic DC cartoons and an action-packed story, War proves that even unnecessary comic book events can birth great things.  

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

9) Justice League Dark

Sick of the big name DC heroes? Well, too bad. This movie still has Batman in it, but the Dark Knight is backed up by the finest mystical icons the publisher has to offer, from the criminally underrated Deadman to John Constantine. The DC playground has worked for decades because it’s a world where every kind of story flourishes. Superman can save the day while these hidden magic heroes protect us from other unseen horrors. Blending horror and superhero action takes finesse, and Justice League Dark is a masterclass how to turn comic books into dark fairy tales.

Photo by IMDB/Warner Home Video

10) Teen Titans: The Judas Contract

The ’80s revival of the Teen Titans served as a way for DC to poach some of the youth audience Marvel had gained with the X-Men’s explosive popularity. It was a gamble that paid off, with the series building heroes like Cyborg, Nightwing, and Starfire into the beloved icons they are today. Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is a modern update of the team’s most important storyline, a years-in-the-making betrayal from a beloved fan favorite. While the animated movie has some changes due to differences in comic book and cartoon continuity, the spirit of the story shines through. Thanks to their uber-popular cartoon, Teen Titans has rarely had a chance to explore the more mature sides of their stories, but Judas Contract opens the doors for those angles without ever getting bogged down in darkness.

Photo by IMDB/Warner Home Video

READ MORE:

11) Superman vs The Elite

If you’ve ever heard someone mutter that Superman is lame and a relic of a bygone era, show that person Superman vs The Elite. When a new superhero team with lax views on killing hits the streets, Superman finds himself at odds with public opinion. As Superman wrestles with his place in the modern world, he discovers troubling questions about the Elite, culminating in staggeringly animated final fight. Writers rarely raise the reality that maybe Superman is holding back so he doesn’t hurt people, a fact The Elite finds out with terrifying clarity when the Man of Steel cuts loose. The animation is a little strange, but the story is a love letter to why Superman matters.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

12) Teen Titans Vs. Justice League

Being a sidekick sucks. No one takes Robin as seriously at Batman and the less said about Aqualad the better. Still, there’s a reason sidekicks have earned the respect of the most powerful beings on Earth, and in a pinch they can hold their own against any force on Earth. That theory is put to the test in Teen Titans vs. Justice League as the DC Universe’s biggest guns are possessed, leaving it up to their proteges to save the world from those tasked with protecting it. Judas Contract is a better film, but if you want to feel its full impact, make sure you watch this first.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

13) Son of Batman

Each Robin has represented a different aspect of Bruce Wayne, from Dick Grayson watching his parents die to Tim Drake’s full embrace of being a detective. Son of Batman introduces the most controversial Robin yet: Damian Wayne, Bruce’s lost biological son who has been raised by the League of Assassins. As Batman struggles with his role as a father, new obstacles arise, like training his son not to kill criminals or run off to take on supervillains on his own. Part one of a three-part story, Son of Batman serves as an exploration of Batman’s deep history while opening the door to his modern future. Also: It features an army of Man-Bats, and we’re always down for animal-human hybrids.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

14) Batman vs. Robin

After spending his childhood being raised by assassins, Damian Wayne is having a hard time adjusting to his new father’s rules. Then one day he meets Talon, a vigilante member of the secret Court of Owls, who offers him a chance to fight crime on his own terms. This sequel to Son of Batman has a darkness to it, as Bruce fights against a secret society of murderers for the soul of a son he only just met. In the Batman and Robin trilogy, this entry is Empire Strikes Back, so don’t expect to walk away with a happy ending.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

15) Batman: Assault on Arkham

Batman might get top billing, but Assault on Arkham is honestly more of a Suicide Squad movie, placing the anti-heroes front and center in a darkly comedic heist film. Fan favorites Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, Black Spider, KGBeast, Killer Frost, and, best of all, King Shark are sent into Arkham Asylum by Amanda Waller on a suicide mission to retrieve information from the Riddler. The only thing that stands in their way is Batman, and a terrifying inmate who escapes during their assault. Funny and at times brutally violent, Assault on Arkham is a fine tribute to the Suicide Squad and the Arkham video games that inspired it. We just wish Harley wasn’t so oddly sexualized.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

READ MORE:

16) Superman/Batman: Apocalypse

This overstuffed story almost collapses under the sheer weight of how much it tries to pack into 78 minutes, but it ultimately sticks the landing. Weeks after the end of Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, a spaceship crash lands in Gotham, revealing a confused and terrified Kara Zor-El, aka Supergirl. Welcoming his cousin to Earth, Superman takes her to live among the Amazons to learn to control her powers. Everything is going smoothly, until Darkseid kidnaps Supergirl for his own vile schemes. The plot and the action are exhilarating, though the animation (styled after Michael Turner’s original comic art) feels overly sexual for the story being told. This film also features the best Batman moment in any of the animated DC films, as our hero talks his way out a fight with a God.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

17) Justice League: Doom

On paper, Batman is the weakest member of the Justice League, brilliant but stuck with the limitations of a human in peak condition. In the world of mind control, doesn’t it make sense that he’d have thought up ways to take down the other members of the League just in case? Unfortunately, a team of supervillains steal that information, incapacitating the Justice League and placing humanity in jeopardy. Like all DC animated movies, this film is just too short to do the story justice, but in spite of its rushed plot, Doom is a shining example of superhero action. Justice League: Doom also marks the final film project Dwayne McDuffie, creator of Static Shock and one of the most important African-American writers in comic book history.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

18) Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Vol 1 & 2

Trying to squeeze Frank Miller’s landmark story, The Dark Knight Returns, into a 78-movie would be impossible, so instead DC split the story into two separate, feature-length parts. From an animation standpoint, this film is a triumph, accurately recreating Miller’s iconic stylized art while grounding its wilder moments. Even still, the charms that made it shine in the ’80s have somewhat dulled. From the overwhelming darkness and violence, to a Batman who is frankly sort of a jerk, The Dark Knight Returns succeeds in deconstructing the icon, but at the cost of removing much of what makes him fun.  

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

19) Batman: Year One

Batman: Year One is an anomaly in the DC animated movies. Unlike the massive scope of the films before it, Year One is an almost-grounded story about the first year of Gotham’s two greatest crime fighters, Batman and Jim Gordon. While the film stays loyal to writer Frank Miller’s occasionally frustrating sexism, the story itself is a welcome change of pace for DC’s animated universe. However, if you watch these films for bombastic action, Year One’s tempered pace will prove more frustrating than inspired.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

20) Justice League: Throne of Atlantis

A large chunk of Throne of Atlantis is consumed by a half-baked Aquaman origin story that keeps the Justice League away on a separate mission until the end of the movie. The fight scenes are incredible, but the story is frustratingly uneven.

Photo via IMDB/Warner Home Video

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance. 

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/dc-animated-movies/

According to the ‘Dark Knight III: Master Race’ team, collaboration was key

One of Andy Kubert's sketches from 'The Dark Knight III: Master Race' hardcover edition, released this week.
Image: DC Entertainment

Like him or not, you have to admit Frank Miller is a comics legend.  

Though he’s faced criticism over the years for his controversial, conservative stances and his attitude toward female characters, Miller wrote books such as the groundbreaking Dark Knight Returns and its sort-of-prequel Batman: Year One, which comics fans the world over now consider sacred texts. 

But Miller, who usually illustrates his own stories, stumbled with the forgettable, critically panned, sketchily drawn sequel The Dark Knight Strikes Again in 2002.

Miller knew he wanted to continue the series after that, so why did it take so long to do so? 

“The material had to come together,” he says. “You don’t jump in on the job until you have enough material and a good enough idea … It needed some new wrinkles, some new places to go.”

Returning 15 years later for Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race, which is published in graphic novel form this week, Miller assembled what he calls “the best talent out there:” co-writer Brian Azzarello and artists Andy Kubert, Klaus Janson, and Brad Anderson.

Frankly, they made all the difference.

One of Andy Kubert’s sketches from ‘The Dark Knight III: Master Race’ hardcover edition

Image: dc entertainment

Miller’s women 

There are some neat touches that only Miller could bring to this comic — such as the character of Carrie Kelley (the best of all the Robins — fight me). She absolutely shines opposite the daughter of Superman and Wonder Woman, Lara Kent.

“Carrie Kelley was a real breakthrough for me because she was such a fresh character,” Miller says. “Her perfect contrast was Lara … I loved the fact that the dark guy (Batman) had the bright daughter and the bright guy (Superman) had the dark daughter.”

The fact that these two (and many more) well-written women exist in the book is testament to a fact Miller admits: he’s grown up.  

“Over the years, I had to listen to criticism,” he says — and he actually listened: “My female characters have gone from kind of an adolescent fantasy about women into much more fully formed characters.” 

These women are more than just their relationships to their fathers. Carrie and Lara are young women developing their own personalities and powers. They’re a delight to read and they keep you turning the page.

Miller’s other accomplishment is political satire. With writing partner Azzarello, Miller brought the kind of commentary that we saw him introduce with his take on Ronald Reagan — who he remembers as “quite funny in a terrifying way” — in The Dark Knight Returns. But this time, he’s showcasing both the media and now-President, then-candidate Donald Trump.

Miller says that Trump and his administration are is “a cartoonist’s dream” and that there hasn’t been this kind of political figure that so lends himself to that craft “since Nixon.”

These moments will make you laugh uncomfortably, which is something Miller’s work tends to do.

One of Andy Kubert’s sketches from ‘The Dark Knight III: Master Race’ hardcover edition

Image: dc entertainment

The team that makes it shine

If nothing else, this book looks awesome. From Kubert’s pencils, to Janson’s inks, to Anderson’s colors, this book really finds it feet in the art.

Kubert especially, who Miller himself calls “remarkable,” pulls off something really impressive in this project, marrying his own drawing style with echoes of Miller’s own art. He found that balance while creating the original sketches Mashable is exclusively debuting here. 

Kubert’s family is prominent in the industry and he’s worked with many notable creators, but he found this project to be “daunting.” Kubert considers Miller to be “god-like” in the comic world, and he says he was under a lot of pressure to measure up. 

“I idolized Frank big-time growing up.” He laughs and remembers, “I was scared shitless.”

Kubery says the key to the book was two pieces of advice Miller gave him after he sent his first roughs (11×17 conceptual versions of a page.) Kubert was told to “be more experimental,” and warned not to “forget about negative space.” 

One of Andy Kubert’s sketches from ‘The Dark Knight III: Master Race’ hardcover edition

Image: dc entertaiment

Kubert collaborated a lot with Azzarello and Miller through the process, working with ample feedback. For him, that made this one of his favorite scripts to work on.

The other members of the art team more than carry their weight here, adding depth and character to the art.

Kubert and Janson had been close for years, but this was their first project together. 

“I always knew this guy was good,” Kubert says of the inker, “but you don’t really know how good he is until he works on top of your pencils … the guy is so freaking good.”

It was a similar story with colorist Anderson. Kubert says that Anderson has a way of just getting what Kubert is trying to do in a piece. “He kind of finished my sentences … (but) he brought his own distinctive voice to it.”

The art team worked so well together that they’re partnering on a book called New Challengers with yet another legendary Batman writer — Scott Snyder. 

Image: dc Entertainment

Another chapter to come?

Miller won’t say exactly what the next chapter in his Batman story will look like, but he does hint that it would involve the next generation — Lara and Carrie, and perhaps even Jonathan Kent, too!

And he says he definitely has the drive to do more: “Every project makes you want to do more projects.”

As for Kubert, he’s just extremely proud of the work he’s done here. 

“I hope I can do this again sometime … how am I gonna top this?” With the kind of talent he, Anderson, and Janson put on the page, there’s no doubt there are incredible things to come.  

Check out more of Andy Kubert’s sketches below. You can also find them in the hardcover edition of Batman: The Dark Knight: The Master Race, which hit shelves last week.

Image: dc entertainment

Image: dc entertainment

Image: dc entertainment

Image: dc entertainment

Image: dc entertainment

Image: dc entertainment

Image: dc entertainment

Image: dc entertainment

Image: dc entertainment

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/09/25/frank-miller-dark-kinght-iii-master-race-interview/

Were more likely to get cancer than to get married. This is a wake-up call | Ranjana Srivastava

Macmillan Cancer Support says one in two people will get a cancer diagnosis. Yet our treatment still focuses on the disease, not the persons specific needs, says Dr Ranjana Srivastava, oncologist and author

I need you to see this patient now, a nurse whispers, her quiet tone masking a mountain of concern.

I am an oncologist, I introduce myself to the stricken stranger. We havent met before, but you dont look so well so I am going to help.

He nods.

For weeks, he has been in the grip of nausea, pain and insomnia. His six-hour wait in A&E culminated in being sent home. He has been bed-bound since, too weak to move, eat or drink.

I am so sorry, I offer, wondering for the umpteenth time how patients deteriorate like this before our very eyes.

Tears form and he shrugs.

Dad just wants to feel better, he knows things are bad.

My heart melts at the plea of his daughter, barely out of her teens.

Weve got this, I reassure her. Hell feel better soon.

The nurse, ever attentive, flicks the chair to recliner mode and catches his wrist. You are safe, she says simply.

At this, he dissolves into sobs that rack his whole body.

As I take in the heartrending sight of a grown, burly man reduced to the helplessness of a child, I try to imagine the affronts that have led him here. The patients differ but the underlying themes dont months of chemotherapy, failed drugs, countless appointments, perpetual uncertainty, endless waiting, lost income, tired relatives, disappearing friends and on top, the existential questions, Why me? Why my family? Why anybody?

I chart fluids and drugs and arrange for a hospital bed, feeling discomfited that the family is so dramatically relieved at such a basic intervention.

Later, in clinic, I see patients ranging from a stoical university student to a devastated father to the frail octogenarian who cant remember the day, let alone that he has cancer each patient an illustration of a recent Macmillan Cancer Support UK finding that it is more common for an individual to be diagnosed with cancer than to get married or have a first child. One in two people will encounter a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, which is why the report says that, alongside marriage, parenthood, retirement and the death of a parent, cancer is now a common life milestone.

I bear witness to this milestone every day, yet I confess the report is a wake-up call because it has prompted reflection on the chasm between what medicine delivers and what patients desire.

Even a cursory search will reveal the leaps of imagination and discovery that have made cancer medicine fascinating, and indeed life-changing, for so many patients. In the short time that I have been an oncologist, I have gone from ruing that no effective therapy exists, to deciding how best to sequence an array of choices. Sure, not all therapies have delivered stunning results, unacceptable toxicity looms large, costs are prohibitive and our successes are largely confined to the rich world. These are problems to ponder but they dont diminish the genuine, incremental gains in cancer care. Every day, I see the human face of these gains and whisper thanks to the researchers who empower clinicians like me.

But as nearly every cancer patient observes, what cancer medicine has failed to keep up with is the needs of the person behind the patient. Though there are many diseases with no good treatments and far worse outcomes, the very mention of cancer invites terror like no other. A common rejoinder to the statement, You have cancer is, Am I going to die? to which a common, and unhelpful, response is: We cant say. For what patients are really asking is not for oncologists to be fortune tellers but for reassurance that we will be there to see them through the whole cancer experience, of which chemotherapy is just a part. They want doctors who are not only proficient but also humane, as capable of consoling as treating. Most oncologists aspire to this, but two things get in our way.

The first is medical training, which has an outsized focus on defeating disease at any cost and struggles to take into account patient choice. For all the rhetoric around patient-centred care, it has not been easy to put into practice. Cancer is a heterogeneous disease and the people who get cancer are a diverse lot too. A champion athlete, a vulnerable refugee, a youthful retiree and a frail elderly person all need care but each merits special consideration. The athlete wants to avoid nerve damage and the executive begs to keep her hair so her colleagues wont know.

The refugee doesnt own a car and cant travel to have intravenous infusions and the elderly man trembles at the thought of his inability to care for his disabled wife. He values quality of life over extent; he values staying together over being forced into care, but finds this a nearly impossible conversation to interest anyone in. Faced with an ageing population for whom a cancer diagnosis is but one of several serious challenges, this particular problem will test us all. Studies show that the frail elderly are willing to forego aggressive treatments in favour of preserving their quality of life, provided they are offered the choice. We will need to be realistic about what defines successful cancer treatment. It will mean looking beyond the tumour at the whole person.

Now let me be the first to admit how difficult it can be to do this, even for the most well-intentioned oncologist. Given patients myriad needs from rehabilitation and nutrition to financial, social and emotional welfare it is obvious that one doctor cannot come close to fulfilling them all. Cancer patients need team support but on any given day, it is far easier to prescribe a 50,000 drug with dubious benefit than find a physiotherapist or social worker. It takes months to access aged-care services in the community until the same patient falls and fractures a hip, after which services swing into place. There is no reason to bunch together cognitively impaired, mentally ill and non-English speaking patients except that they consistently receive inadequate care across all parts of the healthcare system.

Palliative care has value for patients and oncologists, yet the nexus between oncology and palliative care remains weak in many places due to a lack of education, collaboration and resources. If the emphasis, and hence funding, stays determinedly on finding a cure for cancer (which, as we are now realising, is not one disease) the manifold supportive care needs of patients will continue to go unaddressed. We will keep identifying the gaps without filling them. Oncologists need to appreciate the broader needs of their patients but they also need access to help. When people reach this sobering milestone, the science and art of medicine must coexist.

My next patient is late because there is no parking and the scarce wheelchairs are all in use. While waiting, I duck out to see my patient in the chemotherapy chair but stop at a distance. Saline courses through his veins and a crisp white blanket protects his stretched body. His nausea is gone, his pain has settled, and finally he is asleep, his agitated tears replaced by rare calm. Amid the low-level hum, he is fast asleep, his son dozes, and my heart cant help but skip a beat at how far a measure of kindness goes.

The nurse comes over to join me and we look on, feeling like proud parents who have averted a crisis.

What did you give him? I ask quietly, although I know the drugs that I charted.

Nothing more. He just needed to know he was safe.

Dr Ranjana Srivastava is an oncologist and an award-winning author

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/12/cancer-common-marriage-wake-up-call-macmillan

This livid cat swimming in Hurricane Harvey floodwaters doesnt look thrilled about becoming a meme

If you’re of the opinion that dogs are always happy and that cats don’t want to hear any of your bullshit, consider the case of these two pets made famous by Hurricane Harvey.

You probably already know about Otis, the dog who was spotted gallivanting around Sinton, Texas, with a bag of dog food in his mouth, ready to take on the world despite the constant downpour. He’s a good dog.

But had you heard about this cat, snapped by Getty Image photographer Scott Olson, as the animal swam through floodwaters to presumably try to find a dry spot? The cat is resilient, and there’s little doubt that it’s a feline badass and a meme in its own right. But man, do not even think about going near it.

That right there is the anti-Otis. That cat is furious with Harvey, with the water, and, perhaps most dangerously, with you. Because you’re looking at it and taking a photo. It looks like it wants to bat your head around like it’s a ball of yarn and then use your body as its own personal litter box. As the internet was quick to note, the cat looks beyond pissed.

Beyond the obvious explanation—that the cat is having to swim for its survival—there is another reason the cat might look so ornery. Where’s the help when the cat needs it most?

As for the photographer who took the picture, it sounds like he knew better than to approach that cat. Thus, we don’t know what happened to it.

You may not like Hurricane Harvey cat. You may straight-up hate it. But goddamn it, you have to respect it.

H/T People

Additional photos via PetteriO/Flickr, Chris Erwin/Flickr, and Peter Stevens/Flickr

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/hurricane-harvey-mad-cat/

An ‘alt-right’ author got sued and has to give profits to a Muslim charity:awesome.

An “alt-right” children’s book featuring a popular cartoon character recently found itself at the center of a heated legal debate.

Earlier this year, a Texas assistant principal named Eric Hauser wrote and published a right-wing children’s book called “The Adventures of Pepe and Pede.” The story follows the two characters, a frog named Pepe and a centipede named Pede as they celebrate the end an oppressive farmer’s eight years of rule and work to make their farm great again in his absence.

There’s more to the plot, which has been criticized as being Islamophobic, but it’s essentially a send-up of our current political climate told from the point of view of some of Trump’s most dedicated supporters. If Pepe the Frog sounds familiar, that’s because he’s become a meme popular on right-wing blogs.

An illustration of Pepe in his pure, chilled out, positive form by Furie. Image via Superdeluxe/YouTube.

Pepe’s creator, artist Matt Furie, never intended for his drawing to end up there.

And he wasn’t about to let someone profit from his work while spreading a hateful message to children.

While there’s nothing illegal about publishing a book with a racist and xenophobic plot, Hauser made one huge mistake in his process: He stole someone else’s character, running afoul of a number of copyright laws. Pepe, as it so happens, is the intellectual property of Furie, who first published the character in his 2005 comic “Boy’s Club.” Not exactly pleased to learn that someone was using Pepe for personal gain and to teach a hurtful message, Furie sued Hauser.

Furie never meant for Pepe to be associated with hate.

The frog was supposed to just be a “blissfully stoned frog” who liked snacks and soda, not some unofficial “alt-right” mascot.

Around 2010, Pepe began to take on a life of his own as fans began drawing the character into their own stories and internet memes. In the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, the frog became increasingly associated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and internet trolls. Images of Furie’s super-chill creation began popping up in Nazi regalia and KKK robes, earning a spot on the Anti-Defamation League’s list of hate symbols.

It’s all fun and games until someone turns your creation into a Nazi. Image via CBC/YouTube.

It wasn’t until Hillary Clinton delivered a speech excoriating the “alt-right” and white supremacists that Pepe truly went mainstream. In the speech’s aftermath, the Clinton campaign published an article explaining the significance of Pepe in the context of an image posted to Donald Trump Jr.’s Instagram that depicted a Pepe-fied version of the future president.

As the campaign raged on and Furie saw his creation slip further out of his control, he published a few fresh Pepe cartoons over at The Nib, including one that illustrates his “alt-right election nightmare.”

In May, Furie officially killed off Pepe in one final comic.

The legal battle against Hauser and his children’s book was settled in the best way possible — and it’s a reminder not to give up hope.

As reported by Motherboard in August 2017, Furie and Hauser reached a settlement in which the book would no longer be available for sale and all past proceeds would be donated to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Given the book’s Islamophobic themes and Pepe’s popularity with white nationalists, the decision to donate the money to CAIR was a pretty fantastic bit of trolling on Furie’s part.

Furie also tried preserving Pepe’s more peaceful legacy in an October 2016 #SavePepe campaign with seemingly little success, which led him to draw the character one last time at his own funeral. It appeared that Furie had given up on rehabilitating Pepe’s image when, in June, he launched a Kickstarter campaign geared towards resurrecting the little green frog in hopes of “reclaiming his status as a universal symbol for peace, love, and acceptance.”

Pepe has become wildly popular with some Trump supporters. Photo by Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images.

He wasn’t alone in wanting a return to the comic’s roots either. By the time the campaign wrapped up, Furie had raised nearly $35,000.

Between his decision to donate the money made in the copyright infringement suit to a great cause and refusing to give up on his own creation, Furie is himself a testament to the bizarre and sometimes wonderful possibilities of the internet.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/an-alt-right-author-got-sued-and-has-to-give-profits-to-a-muslim-charityawesome

Solar Eclipse Die-Hards Use This Clever Trick To See Totality Longer Than Anyone Else

For the first time in nearly 100 years, the shadow of a total solar eclipse is going to sweep across the United States.

The umbra — the darkest shadow cast by the moon blocking the sun — will appear in the Pacific Ocean and slice through 14 US states on Monday, August 21.

Starting around 10 a.m. PDT, parts of western Oregon will go dark in a condition called totality as the umbra travels east. The elliptical shadow will make its way to Idaho Falls by 11:33 MDT, hit Kansas City at 1 p.m. CDT, and begin to pass over Charleston, South Carolina, by about 2:45 p.m. EDT.

Although some eclipse fans spend years preparing for the event, totality lasts less than three minutes — so all it takes is one stray cloud to obscure the magic moment.

That’s why some people pay thousands of dollars to fly in chartered jets and pursue the moon’s shadow. In addition to beating the odds of bad weather, such hardcore “eclipse chasers” can extend their length of time in the umbra, sometimes by several minutes.

I was lucky enough to ride an eclipse-chasing flight on August 1, 2008. Here’s what the experience was like.

Total solar eclipses aren’t rare — they happen about once every 18 months — but most locations on Earth fall in one’s path roughly once every 375 years.

Total solar eclipses aren't rare — they happen about once every 18 months — but most locations on Earth fall in one's path roughly once every 375 years.

An illustration of a total solar eclipse.NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Source: Amber Porter/Clemson University

That’s because the umbra averages less than 100 miles wide near the equator — a fraction of a percent of Earth’s dayside surface area.

That's because the umbra averages less than 100 miles wide near the equator — a fraction of a percent of Earth's day-side surface area.

A US map of the total solar eclipse’s shadow on August 21, 2017. The umbral shadow will be about 60-70 miles wide, depending on the time and location. NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio Source: TimeAndDate.com

 

However, some hardcore eclipse chasers spend thousands of dollars to chase the moon’s shadow from the skies.

However, some hardcore eclipse chasers spend thousands of dollars to chase the moon's shadow from the skies.

An airplane flies in front of the crescent of a solar eclipse.Shutterstock

 

Totality ended after three minutes with the appearance of a second “diamond ring” on the opposite side of the moon. The eclipse phases then moved in reverse as the umbra sped eastward ahead of our jet.

 

After totality, two passengers — Joel Moskowitz and Craig Small — paraded a custom eclipse flag around the cabin. The two were the most devout eclipse chasers I’d ever met. “I have no intention of ever missing an eclipse for the rest of my life. I don’t care where it is, even in the remotest area of the Earth,” Small told me. “I have to be there, I will be there.”

After totality, two passengers — Joel Moskowitz and Craig Small — paraded a custom eclipse flag around the cabin. The two were the most devout eclipse chasers I'd ever met. "I have no intention of ever missing an eclipse for the rest of my life. I don't care where it is, even in the remotest area of the Earth," Small told me. "I have to be there, I will be there."

Joel Moskowitz (left) and Craig Small (right).Dave Mosher

 

“When you see one, you want to see more. You get hooked,” Moskowitz added. “Seeing the corona during totality is better than sex.”

The trip wasn’t over, though: The airplane banked hard and turned toward the North Pole. At the time, it looked like this — a bunch of fractured sea ice.

The only indication that we’d arrived at the Pole was an announcement over the intercom.

Back on the tarmac in Düsseldorf, the group snapped a celebratory photo, and then everyone began making their way home.

 

That evening I watched the sun set on the Rhine River and reflected on my experience. More than anything, I felt humbled.

There’s nothing like an epic astronomical alignment to make you feel like you’re riding a spaceship through an infinite void.

This animation shows the total solar eclipse of March 9, 2016, from the vantage of the NASA climate satellite DSCOVR.

Read the original article on Business Insider. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Copyright 2017.

Read next on Business Insider: Here’s what the solar eclipse will look like from different cities around the US

 

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/technology/solar-eclipse-diehards-use-this-clever-trick-to-see-totality-longer-than-anyone-else/

Now the truth emerges: how the US fuelled the rise of Isis in Syria and Iraq | Seumas Milne

The sectarian terror group wont be defeated by the western states that incubated it in the first place

The war on terror, that campaign without end launched 14 years ago by George Bush, is tying itself up in ever more grotesque contortions. On Monday the trial in London of a Swedish man, Bherlin Gildo, accused of terrorism in Syria, collapsed after it became clear British intelligence had been arming the same rebel groups the defendant was charged with supporting.

The prosecution abandoned the case, apparently to avoid embarrassing the intelligence services. The defence argued that going ahead with the trial would have been an affront to justice when there was plenty of evidence the British state was itself providing extensive support to the armed Syrian opposition.

That didnt only include the non-lethal assistance boasted of by the government (including body armour and military vehicles), but training, logistical support and the secret supply of arms on a massive scale. Reports were cited that MI6 had cooperated with the CIA on a rat line of arms transfers from Libyan stockpiles to the Syrian rebels in 2012 after the fall of the Gaddafi regime.

Clearly, the absurdity of sending someone to prison for doing what ministers and their security officials were up to themselves became too much. But its only the latest of a string of such cases. Less fortunate was a London cab driver Anis Sardar, who was given a life sentence a fortnight earlier for taking part in 2007 in resistance to the occupation of Iraq by US and British forces. Armed opposition to illegal invasion and occupation clearly doesnt constitute terrorism or murder on most definitions, including the Geneva convention.

But terrorism is now squarely in the eye of the beholder. And nowhere is that more so than in the Middle East, where todays terrorists are tomorrows fighters against tyranny and allies are enemies often at the bewildering whim of a western policymakers conference call.

For the past year, US, British and other western forces have been back in Iraq, supposedly in the cause of destroying the hyper-sectarian terror group Islamic State (formerly known as al-Qaida in Iraq). This was after Isis overran huge chunks of Iraqi and Syrian territory and proclaimed a self-styled Islamic caliphate.

The campaign isnt going well. Last month, Isis rolled into the Iraqi city of Ramadi, while on the other side of the now nonexistent border its forces conquered the Syrian town of Palmyra. Al-Qaidas official franchise, the Nusra Front, has also been making gains in Syria.

Some Iraqis complain that the US sat on its hands while all this was going on. The Americans insist they are trying to avoid civilian casualties, and claim significant successes. Privately, officials say they dont want to be seen hammering Sunni strongholds in a sectarian war and risk upsetting their Sunni allies in the Gulf.

A revealing light on how we got here has now been shone by a recently declassified secret US intelligence report, written in August 2012, which uncannily predicts and effectively welcomes the prospect of a Salafist principality in eastern Syria and an al-Qaida-controlled Islamic state in Syria and Iraq. In stark contrast to western claims at the time, the Defense Intelligence Agency document identifies al-Qaida in Iraq (which became Isis) and fellow Salafists as the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria and states that western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey were supporting the oppositions efforts to take control of eastern Syria.

Raising the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality, the Pentagon report goes on, this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).

Which is pretty well exactly what happened two years later. The report isnt a policy document. Its heavily redacted and there are ambiguities in the language. But the implications are clear enough. A year into the Syrian rebellion, the US and its allies werent only supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups; they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of Islamic state despite the grave danger to Iraqs unity as a Sunni buffer to weaken Syria.

That doesnt mean the US created Isis, of course, though some of its Gulf allies certainly played a role in it as the US vice-president, Joe Biden, acknowledged last year. But there was no al-Qaida in Iraq until the US and Britain invaded. And the US has certainly exploited the existence of Isis against other forces in the region as part of a wider drive to maintain western control.

The calculus changed when Isis started beheading westerners and posting atrocities online, and the Gulf states are now backing other groups in the Syrian war, such as the Nusra Front. But this US and western habit of playing with jihadi groups, which then come back to bite them, goes back at least to the 1980s war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, which fostered the original al-Qaida under CIA tutelage.

It was recalibrated during the occupation of Iraq, when US forces led by General Petraeus sponsored an El Salvador-style dirty war of sectarian death squads to weaken the Iraqi resistance. And it was reprised in 2011 in the Nato-orchestrated war in Libya, where Isis last week took control of Gaddafis home town of Sirte.

In reality, US and western policy in the conflagration that is now the Middle East is in the classic mould of imperial divide-and-rule. American forces bomb one set of rebels while backing another in Syria, and mount what are effectively joint military operations with Iran against Isis in Iraq while supporting Saudi Arabias military campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi forces in Yemen. However confused US policy may often be, a weak, partitioned Iraq and Syria fit such an approach perfectly.

Whats clear is that Isis and its monstrosities wont be defeated by the same powers that brought it to Iraq and Syria in the first place, or whose open and covert war-making has fostered it in the years since. Endless western military interventions in the Middle East have brought only destruction and division. Its the people of the region who can cure this disease not those who incubated the virus.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/03/us-isis-syria-iraq

Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

A lecture explaining why using our imaginations, and providing for others to use theirs, is an obligation for all citizens

Its important for people to tell you what side they are on and why, and whether they might be biased. A declaration of members interests, of a sort. So, I am going to be talking to you about reading. Im going to tell you that libraries are important. Im going to suggest that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do. Im going to make an impassioned plea for people to understand what libraries and librarians are, and to preserve both of these things.

And I am biased, obviously and enormously: Im an author, often an author of fiction. I write for children and for adults. For about 30 years I have been earning my living through my words, mostly by making things up and writing them down. It is obviously in my interest for people to read, for them to read fiction, for libraries and librarians to exist and help foster a love of reading and places in which reading can occur.

So Im biased as a writer. But I am much, much more biased as a reader. And I am even more biased as a British citizen.

And Im here giving this talk tonight, under the auspices of the Reading Agency: a charity whose mission is to give everyone an equal chance in life by helping people become confident and enthusiastic readers. Which supports literacy programs, and libraries and individuals and nakedly and wantonly encourages the act of reading. Because, they tell us, everything changes when we read.

And its that change, and that act of reading that Im here to talk about tonight. I want to talk about what reading does. What its good for.

I was once in New York, and I listened to a talk about the building of private prisons a huge growth industry in America. The prison industry needs to plan its future growth how many cells are they going to need? How many prisoners are there going to be, 15 years from now? And they found they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based on asking what percentage of 10 and 11-year-olds couldnt read. And certainly couldnt read for pleasure.

Its not one to one: you cant say that a literate society has no criminality. But there are very real correlations.

And I think some of those correlations, the simplest, come from something very simple. Literate people read fiction.

Fiction has two uses. Firstly, its a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if its hard, because someones in trouble and you have to know how its all going to end thats a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, youre on the road to reading everything. And reading is key. There were noises made briefly, a few years ago, about the idea that we were living in a post-literate world, in which the ability to make sense out of written words was somehow redundant, but those days are gone: words are more important than they ever were: we navigate the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we are reading. People who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far.

The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.

I dont think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of childrens books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading. Ive seen it happen over and over; Enid Blyton was declared a bad author, so was RL Stine, so were dozens of others. Comics have been decried as fostering illiteracy.

Enid
No such thing as a bad writer… Enid Blytons Famous Five. Photograph: Greg Balfour Evans/Alamy

Its tosh. Its snobbery and its foolishness. There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out, because every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories. A hackneyed, worn-out idea isnt hackneyed and worn out to them. This is the first time the child has encountered it. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is a route to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you.

Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a childs love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian improving literature. Youll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant.

We need our children to get onto the reading ladder: anything that they enjoy reading will move them up, rung by rung, into literacy. (Also, do not do what this author did when his 11-year-old daughter was into RL Stine, which is to go and get a copy of Stephen Kings Carrie, saying if you liked those youll love this! Holly read nothing but safe stories of settlers on prairies for the rest of her teenage years, and still glares at me when Stephen Kings name is mentioned.)

And the second thing fiction does is to build empathy. When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. Youre being someone else, and when you return to your own world, youre going to be slightly changed.

Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.

Youre also finding out something as you read vitally important for making your way in the world. And its this:

The world doesnt have to be like this. Things can be different.

I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? SF had been disapproved of for a long time. What had changed?

Its simple, he told me. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls.

Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere youve never been. Once youve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.

And while were on the subject, Id like to say a few words about escapism. I hear the term bandied about as if its a bad thing. As if escapist fiction is a cheap opiate used by the muddled and the foolish and the deluded, and the only fiction that is worthy, for adults or for children, is mimetic fiction, mirroring the worst of the world the reader finds herself in.

If you were trapped in an impossible situation, in an unpleasant place, with people who meant you ill, and someone offered you a temporary escape, why wouldnt you take it? And escapist fiction is just that: fiction that opens a door, shows the sunlight outside, gives you a place to go where you are in control, are with people you want to be with(and books are real places, make no mistake about that); and more importantly, during your escape, books can also give you knowledge about the world and your predicament, give you weapons, give you armour: real things you can take back into your prison. Skills and knowledge and tools you can use to escape for real.

As JRR Tolkien reminded us, the only people who inveigh against escape are jailers.

Tolkien's
Tolkiens illustration of Bilbos home, Bag End. Photograph: HarperCollins

Another way to destroy a childs love of reading, of course, is to make sure there are no books of any kind around. And to give them nowhere to read those books. I was lucky. I had an excellent local library growing up. I had the kind of parents who could be persuaded to drop me off in the library on their way to work in summer holidays, and the kind of librarians who did not mind a small, unaccompanied boy heading back into the childrens library every morning and working his way through the card catalogue, looking for books with ghosts or magic or rockets in them, looking for vampires or detectives or witches or wonders. And when I had finished reading the childrens library I began on the adult books.

They were good librarians. They liked books and they liked the books being read. They taught me how to order books from other libraries on inter-library loans. They had no snobbery about anything I read. They just seemed to like that there was this wide-eyed little boy who loved to read, and would talk to me about the books I was reading, they would find me other books in a series, they would help. They treated me as another reader nothing less or more which meant they treated me with respect. I was not used to being treated with respect as an eight-year-old.

But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.

I worry that here in the 21st century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But that is to miss the point fundamentally.

I think it has to do with nature of information. Information has value, and the right information has enormous value. For all of human history, we have lived in a time of information scarcity, and having the needed information was always important, and always worth something: when to plant crops, where to find things, maps and histories and stories they were always good for a meal and company. Information was a valuable thing, and those who had it or could obtain it could charge for that service.

In the last few years, weve moved from an information-scarce economy to one driven by an information glut. According to Eric Schmidt of Google, every two days now the human race creates as much information as we did from the dawn of civilisation until 2003. Thats about five exobytes of data a day, for those of you keeping score. The challenge becomes, not finding that scarce plant growing in the desert, but finding a specific plant growing in a jungle. We are going to need help navigating that information to find the thing we actually need.

A
Photograph: Alamy

Libraries are places that people go to for information. Books are only the tip of the information iceberg: they are there, and libraries can provide you freely and legally with books. More children are borrowing books from libraries than ever before books of all kinds: paper and digital and audio. But libraries are also, for example, places that people, who may not have computers, who may not have internet connections, can go online without paying anything: hugely important when the way you find out about jobs, apply for jobs or apply for benefits is increasingly migrating exclusively online. Librarians can help these people navigate that world.

I do not believe that all books will or should migrate onto screens: as Douglas Adams once pointed out to me, more than 20 years before the Kindle turned up, a physical book is like a shark. Sharks are old: there were sharks in the ocean before the dinosaurs. And the reason there are still sharks around is that sharks are better at being sharks than anything else is. Physical books are tough, hard to destroy, bath-resistant, solar-operated, feel good in your hand: they are good at being books, and there will always be a place for them. They belong in libraries, just as libraries have already become places you can go to get access to ebooks, and audiobooks and DVDs and web content.

A library is a place that is a repository of information and gives every citizen equal access to it. That includes health information. And mental health information. Its a community space. Its a place of safety, a haven from the world. Its a place with librarians in it. What the libraries of the future will be like is something we should be imagining now.

Literacy is more important than ever it was, in this world of text and email, a world of written information. We need to read and write, we need global citizens who can read comfortably, comprehend what they are reading, understand nuance, and make themselves understood.

Libraries really are the gates to the future. So it is unfortunate that, round the world, we observe local authorities seizing the opportunity to close libraries as an easy way to save money, without realising that they are stealing from the future to pay for today. They are closing the gates that should be open.

According to a recent study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, England is the only country where the oldest age group has higher proficiency in both literacy and numeracy than the youngest group, after other factors, such as gender, socio-economic backgrounds and type of occupations are taken into account.

Or to put it another way, our children and our grandchildren are less literate and less numerate than we are. They are less able to navigate the world, to understand it to solve problems. They can be more easily lied to and misled, will be less able to change the world in which they find themselves, be less employable. All of these things. And as a country, England will fall behind other developed nations because it will lack a skilled workforce.

Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over. There are tales that are older than most countries, tales that have long outlasted the cultures and the buildings in which they were first told.

I think we have responsibilities to the future. Responsibilities and obligations to children, to the adults those children will become, to the world they will find themselves inhabiting. All of us as readers, as writers, as citizens have obligations. I thought Id try and spell out some of these obligations here.

I believe we have an obligation to read for pleasure, in private and in public places. If we read for pleasure, if others see us reading, then we learn, we exercise our imaginations. We show others that reading is a good thing.

We have an obligation to support libraries. To use libraries, to encourage others to use libraries, to protest the closure of libraries. If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future.

We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves. Use reading-aloud time as bonding time, as time when no phones are being checked, when the distractions of the world are put aside.

We have an obligation to use the language. To push ourselves: to find out what words mean and how to deploy them, to communicate clearly, to say what we mean. We must not to attempt to freeze language, or to pretend it is a dead thing that must be revered, but we should use it as a living thing, that flows, that borrows words, that allows meanings and pronunciations to change with time.

We writers and especially writers for children, but all writers have an obligation to our readers: its the obligation to write true things, especially important when we are creating tales of people who do not exist in places that never were to understand that truth is not in what happens but what it tells us about who we are. Fiction is the lie that tells the truth, after all. We have an obligation not to bore our readers, but to make them need to turn the pages. One of the best cures for a reluctant reader, after all, is a tale they cannot stop themselves from reading. And while we must tell our readers true things and give them weapons and give them armour and pass on whatever wisdom we have gleaned from our short stay on this green world, we have an obligation not to preach, not to lecture, not to force predigested morals and messages down our readers throats like adult birds feeding their babies pre-masticated maggots; and we have an obligation never, ever, under any circumstances, to write anything for children that we would not want to read ourselves.

We have an obligation to understand and to acknowledge that as writers for children we are doing important work, because if we mess it up and write dull books that turn children away from reading and from books, we ve lessened our own future and diminished theirs.

We all adults and children, writers and readers have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine. It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field. But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.

Look around you: I mean it. Pause, for a moment and look around the room that you are in. Im going to point out something so obvious that it tends to be forgotten. Its this: that everything you can see, including the walls, was, at some point, imagined. Someone decided it was easier to sit on a chair than on the ground and imagined the chair. Someone had to imagine a way that I could talk to you in London right now without us all getting rained on.This room and the things in it, and all the other things in this building, this city, exist because, over and over and over, people imagined things.

We have an obligation to make things beautiful. Not to leave the world uglier than we found it, not to empty the oceans, not to leave our problems for the next generation. We have an obligation to clean up after ourselves, and not leave our children with a world weve shortsightedly messed up, shortchanged, and crippled.

We have an obligation to tell our politicians what we want, to vote against politicians of whatever party who do not understand the value of reading in creating worthwhile citizens, who do not want to act to preserve and protect knowledge and encourage literacy. This is not a matter of party politics. This is a matter of common humanity.

Albert Einstein was asked once how we could make our children intelligent. His reply was both simple and wise. If you want your children to be intelligent, he said, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales. He understood the value of reading, and of imagining. I hope we can give our children a world in which they will read, and be read to, and imagine, and understand.

This is an edited version of Neil Gaimans lecture for the Reading Agency, delivered on Monday October 14 at the Barbican in London. The Reading Agencys annual lecture series was initiated in 2012 as a platform for leading writers and thinkers to share original, challenging ideas about reading and libraries.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming

‘Game of Thrones’ fans have come up with a hilarious theory about those suspicious cave paintings

Daenerys will help the North if Jon bends the knee.
Image: Macall B. Polay/HBO

Warning: This article contains major spoilers. If you don’t want to know what happened in last night’s episode, then white walk away!

Since his arrival at Dragonstone, Jon Snow has been petitioning Daenerys for her help in the impending battle against the White Walkers. The queen has everything the North needs to have a fighting chance the army, the dragonglass, three fire-breathing dragons. The problem is that Dany and her council aren’t convinced that the legend of the White Walkers is real.

During last night’s episode, Jon showed Dany something that shook the queen and changed her mind about the army of the dead. Deep inside the dark caverns beneath Dragonstone were walls covered in pre-historic drawings of the First Men and the Children of the Forest fighting as one against their common enemy the White Walkers.

Image: youtube/Gameofthrones

While Dany seemed convinced of the legitimacy of the ancient drawings pledging her support to the North if Jon bended the knee some fans weren’t buying it.

One redditor called BrySighz dropped this hilarious illustration into the /r/GameofThrones subreddit with the caption: “This immediately popped in to my head after the cave scene so I drew it.”

It’s obviously a joke, but perhaps there’s something to this comical fan theory. After all, Jon and Ser Davos werethe only two people at the caves when Daenerys arrived on scene. And it’s pretty convenient that Jon happened to stumble upon these cave paintings that proved that the White Walkers were a threat.

Suspicious. Very suspicious.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/08/07/game-of-thrones-cave-paintings/