Colin J. Carlson, part of the Parasite Extinction Assessment & Red List, couldn't sleep recently and decided to assign letter grades to the weird foxes (here's a threadreader compilation for the Twitter-averse, but it doesn't include the numerous entertaining replies). [h/t ChuraChura]
Where did the idea of boiled peanuts come from? And why? Turns out, of course, it's more complicated than you knew. And then it got even more complicated when Congress got involved. Part Two
Charlotte Gainsbourg Finds Her Own Voice [The New York Times] “Ms. Gainsbourg engages with her family’s glorious, tangled history as never before. On one level, it’s an album about grief, tinted by the deep loss she felt after the 2013 death of her older half sister, the photographer Kate Barry (whose parents were Ms. Birkin and the film composer John Barry). But it’s also an album about pleasure, full of pulsating disco beats and cool pop choruses that feel like Ms. Gainsbourg’s birthright. Above all, it’s an album that comes directly from her heart.” [more inside]
@everybird: Robot posting every bird on the planet. Mostly accurate. Random bird order, last bird posted in 2019. By @nah_solo (Lucas Quinn). See below for list of birds
A marginal but useful definition of insanity is not knowing what genre of book you are in; depression is knowing, but being helpless to change it.Beth Boyle Machlan on writing, memory, and helplessness.
Machine Learning Explained. In this essay Rodney Brooks, one of the founders of iRobot and emeritus professor at MIT, explains machine learning in layman's terms. He uses a real-life example of one of the first machine learning algorithms, a tic-tac-toe program implemented in the 1950s using matchboxes(!). The essay gives you an appreciation of how machine learning is different from human learning, and what its limitations are -- nice, given the hype surrounding AI today. [more inside]
Tabatha Southey asks: Is Jordan Peterson the stupid man’s smart person?
The Avocado, originally formed as a diaspora from the Onion AV Club comment section, has now become an excellent website in its own right. Recently they have been running retrospectives of old magazine issues and it is a fascinating and funny look into recent US history. [more inside]
Ten of thousands of Zimbabweans are in the streets of Harare after the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and the Zimbabwe Republic Police approved a rally led by the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association against President Mugabe’s continued stay in office. Mugabe was placed under house arrest earlier in the week in what the army insisted was not a coup. This appears to be the culmination of a power struggle between Mugabe's wife, Grace Mugabe and recently ousted vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mugabe, now a billionaire in one of the world's poorest countries, was once considered a revolutionary hero after leading Zimbabwe to independence from Great Britain.
The Smithsonian has a scrolling gallery of Norwegian "stave" churches, named after the "stavers", the load bearing pillars that keep them from collapsing. Wooden medieval architecture taken to fascinating, beautiful extremes.
The 50 best Superhero Movies Of All Times - Because this debate is already well-worn territory, we at The Ringer set out to develop a ranking that goes beyond personal opinions—to try to synthesize the overall goals and spirit of these films in order to identify the ideal superhero movies. In order to do that, we took into account four factors—Critical Success, Box Office Performance, Rewatchability, and Timelessness—and ran them through a fancy formula to come up with an overall score. [more inside]
How mid-2000s emo groomed underage girls and poisoned teen boys (TW). Emo, the alternative/punk offshoot dealing with (male, mostly negative) feelings has had a problem with misogyny for a long time, having dominated the alternative-music culture of the 00s with an exclusively male worldview whose attitude to women, ranging from objectification to contempt, permeated the formative experiences of a generation of music enthusiasts (the writer Jessica Hopper described it as the antithesis of the Riot Grrl experience). And now, it now turns out, that sexually predatory behaviour is endemic in the scene, with musicians and promoters preying on fans, many of them underage.
Game designer @MaxKriegerVG says "If you want a fully immersive 'postmodern design hellscape' themed dining experience I highly recommend dinner at The Cheesecake Factory—from a design perspective that place is fuckin wild and I'll talk a little bit about why (here's a threadreader compilation for the Twitter-averse). And he links to an Eater story about the designer.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 players took on EA, and won (for now). [Polygon] “The microtransactions are gone from Star Wars Battlefront 2, at least for the moment. The fans, with their days, if not weeks, of outrage over the paid content, have won their fight against Electronic Arts. Just like that, the day before it was set to be officially released, the for-pay currency has been removed from the game. Good.” [more inside]
“Since then, the federal government has failed to offer any childcare programs anywhere near as generous as those created by the Lanham Act. Through the Head Start program launched in the 1960s, the federal government has tried to improve access to childcare. But with a limited number of slots available and eligibility to participate restricted by income, the program is even further removed from a universal ideal. Nor have the 50 states sought to create any better childcare options. Jurisdictions that provide universal free preschool remain the exception; meanwhile, daycare expenses continue to devour family budgets in large metropolitan areas.” Every Parent Deserves A Nanny State - Vanessa A. Bee, Current Affairs.
Max Deutsch is an obsessive learner. Last year he embarked on a quest to master twelve incredibly difficult skills in twelve months. This is story of his final and most challenging month of the past year: Defeat world-champion Magnus Carlsen at a game of chess .
Kevin Makice (@kmakice) is a geek dad who tried to get his boys into Dungeons and Dragons with a 4th Edition starter kit, but they lost interest due to all the nuanced rules, but they liked their dad's painted miniatures. So he set about simplifying D&D and made a pared down version of the game he loved in a 3 page PDF: DnDish. The game worked for his 7-12 year olds, with the kids making their own campaigns. [more inside]
Black Girl in a Big Dress is an online comedy series "about an African American Anglophile cosplayer in love with the Victorian Era who's trying to bring a fantasy courtship from her re-enactment events into the real world."
The new Transformers: Power of the Primes toys were released early! The assortment includes fan-favorite and classic G1-era character Jazz. But one eagle-eyed toy collector noticed tiny Cybertronian writing under the Autobot symbol: 4 characters that translate to MAGA. As in Make America Great Again, the campaign slogan of President Donald Trump and the battle cry of the current movement of white nationalists. Which is especially galling as Jazz was one of the few classic characters voiced by a person of color: the great Scatman Crothers of The Shining.
In which science-fiction author and sometime game writer Chuck Wendig's review of the car-chase crime movie Baby Driver goes off on an unexpected detour, thanks to fantasy author Sam Skykes: in Storify version and original flavor Twitter. (previously) [more inside]
"The idea, that Homer buy a massive truck and pay for it by becoming Springfield's snow removal hero, was born out of a single desire: Writer Jon Vitti wanted to meet Adam West. " Mr. Plow at 25: How 'The Simpsons' Classic Pushed New Boundaries and Helped Cement Show's Legacy
Into the Perilous Night: An Essay by Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers: I wrote a nearly complete first draft of “What It Means” in one afternoon in my kitchen in Athens, Georgia. As a song, I didn’t know if it was worth a shit. But I had to get those feelings off my chest. The song at least felt honest and real. [more inside]
Here is the story as given by the local news, but a TLDR version was provided by @notwokieleaks on Twitter: Detroit cops posing as drug dealers tried to arrest Detroit cops posing as drug buyers and then they all had a fistfight in the middle of the street.
FR. Reginald Foster, The Vatican's Latinist [Archive.org]
The number of Foster’s students runs into the thousands, and many of them are now themselves some of the most dedicated teachers in the field. “When I was in college I asked people, ‘Hey, we all know Latin is a language. Does anybody actually speak it anymore?’ And they told me there was one guy, some guy at the Vatican, who still spoke the language, and that was Fr. Foster,” says Dr. Michael Fontaine, a professor of Classics at Cornell University. “I said to myself, ‘I have to study with this guy.’ And that changed everything for me.” Dr. Paul Gwynne, professor of Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the American University of Rome, said of Foster, “He is not just the best Latin teacher I’ve ever seen, he’s simply the best teacher I’ve ever seen. Studying Latin with the Pope’s apostolic secretary, for whom the language is alive, using the city of Rome as a classroom . . . it changed my whole outlook on life, really.”[more inside]
…....no one remembers. The uncounted. US Military officials say that the air war against ISIS is the most precise in history. [more inside]
Boston Dynamics has posted a new video. It's 54 seconds of a robot doing things I never thought they could do. [more inside]
For years, this day had seemed inevitable. It was the predictable end to nearly a decade of well-documented and thoroughly-investigated psychological and physical torment: threatening phone calls, notes, strange encounters, vandalism, fires, animal killings, and a half-dozen violent physical attacks; all perpetrated by an unknown assailant. There were about a hundred documented incidents between 1982 and 1989. Someone was terrorizing her. After Cindy’s death, there was a thorough investigation. It culminated in the lengthiest and most expensive public inquest in British Columbia’s history. Cindy’s death was ruled a suicide. The Mysterious Death of Cindy James [more inside]
Each year Mallory Ortberg explores the horror of what it takes to be crowned People's Sexiest Man Alive. She began with Adam Levine. Then there was Chris Hemsworth and David Beckham. Now, Blake Shelton has been named Sexiest Man Alive. God have mercy on his soul.
The Greggs £24 advent calendar has 24 tear-off doors that customers can exchange for a treat in a Greggs shop - though the choice of promotional picture has raised eyebrows. However, the UK Evangelical Alliance says it is "not too outraged" about the Greggs nativity scene (contradictory quote), while a vicar from t'north is not amused. Becky Barnicoat rounds up some tweets, while Peter Ormerod argues this is not an issue to be outraged about. (First mentioned by fearfulsymmetry)
Teddy Girls and Drag Racers. The Teddy Girls had their own style but were often overshadowed by the Teddy Boys. This is a short photo-essay on the girls. Next, we have a photo-essay on a girls' drag-racing team, the Dragettes of the Kansas City Timing Association drag strip in the 1950s. They preferred convertibles and they worked as their own mechanics, too. The Dragettes
“Alter Dark is a new project that lets you create your own screensavers out of NES ROMs. It was put together by Rachel Weil, an NES homebrew expert and glitch enthusiast, and recently shown off at NodeConf EU in Dublin. For Weil, it combines two of her favorite things: messing around with NES software and the dated aesthetics of screensavers. The name is also a play on the After Dark software package release in 1989 which consisted of, among other things, a flying toaster screensaver.” API files and code at GitHub. Rachel Weil also discusses how screensavers influenced her work, spurring a years-long obsession with putting screensavers where they don't belong. [YouTube]. [via: Kotaku]
The Punisher, Marvel’s avatar of gun violence and toxic masculinity, is hitting TV screens at possibly the worst ever time (just like every other time), to mixed reviews. With the shows focus on angry male white men the characters popularity with law enforcement officers and the military may be more troubling than ever. >
Timbuktu has long been Africa's El Dorado. Located on the southern edge of the Sahara and north of the Niger river (Google maps), what was initially a small river-side settlement bloomed as a trading hub for salt, gold, slaves, ivory and later, books. While its academic prominence has never returned to its peak of centuries past, it is still a treasure trove of ancient manuscripts from western Africa, maintained and protected through the years by families who have kept these works safe from numerous regime changes. These are the lost (and found) libraries of Timbuktu (hour long documentary on Vimeo from documentary producer; more info from BBC Four and stream if you're in the UK). [more inside]
Alex Salmond is the ex-leader of the Scottish National Party who lost his Westminster seat at the last election. He has recently launched The Alex Salmond Show on RT. This has been criticized by many other politicians and journalists (many of whom have actually appeared on the channel) but is seen by others as a voice against a pro-nationalist mainstream media. His first main guest was deposed Catalan president, Carlos Puigdemont, You can watch the episode on youtube.
I Pretended to Be Emily Dickinson on an Online Dating Site Would a lovelorn poet, obsessed with death and privacy, be able to woo a modern man?
The squeeze on public finances since 2010 is linked to nearly 120,000 excess deaths in England, with the over 60s and care home residents bearing the brunt, reveals the first study of its kind, published in the online journal BMJ Open. The critical factor in these figures may be changes in nurse numbers, say the researchers, who warn that there could be an additional toll of up to 100 deaths every day from now on in.The original research is published in the BMJ Open journal. [more inside]
A report from Millennial 20/20, a two-day conference held in the Carriageworks “creative space” in Sydney; where hundreds of marketing executives, CEOs, startup founders, big-data analysts, “disruptive innovators”, “change makers” and “thought leaders” gathered to discuss the subject of “millennials”, and how to most effectively monetise them. The WiFi password was “SmashedAvo”, there were branded fidget spinners in the swag, and the overall attitude was one of predatory infantilisation.
British explorer Benedict Allen found alive in Papua New Guinea, 16 Nov, 2017
“He has been sighted alive and well near a remote airstrip in Papua New Guinea having trekked vast distances. He has requested rescue and efforts are under way to get him out. This is only a reported sighting, but it is the second sighting and it’s a tribal commission that has been looking for him and they have reported him in. So unless they have got it horribly wrong, and I’m not aware of any other lost British explorers in that part of Papua New Guinea, Benedict Allen is safe and well.”[more inside]
YouTuber Woodsie employs the Face Swap Live iPhone app to make videos of his daughters. Sometimes you get miniature food critics, sometimes you get nightmare fuel [h/t Miss Cellania].
A simple list of charming terms from libraries/archives. [special appearances by MeFi's Own jessamyn]
Umberto Eco in 1985, and Bill Watterson in 1989, discuss the poetry and artistry of Krazy Kat and Peanuts.
On the 25th anniversary of Automatic for the People, R.E.M. has released a remastered album. Remastered in Dolby Atmos by the original producer (Scott Litt) and engineer (Clif Norrell), the reissue has been well received. [more inside]
Joan Cuneo raced in the very early 1900s and once set a speed record at 111mph. Second part of this blog post Part Two