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This Morning, I Didn't Know What A Binaural Soundscape Was. Now All I Want To Do Is Listen To Them.

I found a hidden gem on the Internet this week: NPR has a Soundcloud set of "binaural soundscapes." Strap on your headphones — it's going to be a surreal ride.Important note: If you have hearing loss, this may not work well for you.

This Morning, I Didn't Know What A Binaural Soundscape Was. Now All I Want To Do Is Listen To Them.

Maybe you don't know what a binaural recording is.

Basically, the deal is, you have two ears.

They are the width of your head apart. And there's a big lumpy meatball in the middle. So your ears hear different things. Then your brain processes these two distinct streams of information and uses them to position stuff in space. Standard stereo recording often uses a couple of mics, but it's not trying to position them in a way that mimics your ears.


Recording artists have started building these crazy microphone setups that imitate the position and direction of your real ears.

Then they take them around the world. The results are astounding. You really can feel the birds singing as they move through space, or people passing you on the street.

It's like a window into other landscapes. It makes the world feel so close and small and familiar.

Here are a few of my favorites.

(Oh, and this doesn't work with regular speakers. Use your headphones.)

First stop: A regular day on a street in Tibet.

(Close your eyes. Trust.)

Wasn't that just amazing?

Next up, a stop in the Ecuadorean rain forest to hear the song of the orapendula. (It's a bird. I looked it up.)

I could listen to that all night.

Let's wrap up with a visit to Dzanga Bai, a clearing in the Central African Republic, where elephants gather as evening closes in.

For more magical journeys, check out the rest of NPR's Binaural Soundscapes.

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Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

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It also helps when someone upends a stereotype by saying or doing something unexpected.

Fair or not, certain parts of the U.S. are associated with certain cultural assumptions, perhaps none more pinholed than the rural south. When we hear Appalachia, a certain stereotype probably pops up in our minds—probably white, probably not well educated, probably racist. Even if there is some basis to a stereotype, we must always remember that human beings can never be painted with such broad strokes.

Enter Tyler Childers, a rising country music star whose old-school country fiddling has endeared him to a broad audience, but his new album may have a different kind of reach. "Long Violent History" was released Friday, along with a video message to his white rural fans explaining the culminating track by the same name. Watch it here:

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Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

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The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn’t have to be.

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Father Alek Schrenk is known as one of the "9 Priests You Need to Follow on Twitter." He proved his social media skills Sunday night after finding a creepy note on a parked car and weaving a lurid Twitter tale that kept his followers on the edge of their pews.

Father Schrenk was making his nightly walk of the church grounds to make sure everything was fine before retiring to the rectory, when he found a car parked by itself in front of the school.

Curious, he looked inside the car and saw a note that made his "blood run cold" attached to the steering wheel. "Look in trunk!" the note read. What made it extra creepy was that the two Os in "look" had smiley faces.

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