February 22

Down in the valley, the valley so low

This is not an exciting video. The presentation is not elegant, but it is informative. It probably won't interest many of you. But the title of it is Why do rollercoasters valley and how do they get recovered [55m] by Ryan The Ride Mechanic. And I know there's a subset of you who will be thrilled to watch this very fascinating video about a topic I'd never thought to learn about.
posted by hippybear at 2:13 PM - 0 comments

'I think too much complexity can actually be a bad thing.'

"I decided to write a sequel of sorts to a craft talk I gave in Paris last month on what I’ve been calling moral worldbuilding, which to me just means being more conscientious about the kinds of value systems we include in our work, and facing up to the fear of being called didactic or melodramatic. That talk was pretty diagnostic and focused mostly on theorizing causes of how we got there. This one focuses more on the aesthetic qualities of bad moral worldbuilding and their immediate causes. It’s pretty vibey." Brandon Taylor's new essay, living shadows: aesthetics of moral worldbuilding.
posted by mittens at 12:00 PM - 6 comments

A bigger, better train for Conductor Whiskers

Yesterday, mobile game developer Hit-Point quietly announced Neko Atsume 2, coming this summer to Android and iOS. [more inside]
posted by May Kasahara at 11:41 AM - 9 comments

Critically endangered bettongs double population in NSW

Critically endangered bettongs survive fires, floods to double population in NSW. A program re-introducing brush-tailed bettongs to a conservation area in the Pilliga State Forest shows promise, after an east-coast extinction lasting more than 100 years.
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 9:29 AM - 6 comments

“They’re noticeably different, except for a few”

Meanwhile, Rybak and Hearn say that prospective buyers regularly call or email asking for guidance in authenticating this or that painting, worried they may have sunk large sums of money on worthless imitations. Some buyers were bilked out of their life savings. For the fraudsters, of course, the scheme was nothing more than a way to make money. But the devastation to honest buyers, to Morrisseau and his legacy, to Indigenous culture, and to Canadian art writ large is incalculable. Morrisseau’s works were not meaningless paintings but precious, irreplaceable examples of the Anishinaabe experience in Canada and the world. from Inside the Biggest Art Fraud in History [Smithsonian]
posted by chavenet at 5:07 AM - 29 comments

A genre of swords and soulmates

"Romantasy 'allows women to have it all', says Christina Clark-Brown, who shares book recommendations on the Instagram page ninas_nook. 'There is no damsel who needs saving but rather women are allowed to be powerful, go on epic quests, and find love with a partner who is an equal to them in every way.'" The Guardian has some exciting news for you [Archive] about romantasy. Is what's described, though, a never-before-seen phenomenon? (Of course not.) [more inside]
posted by cupcakeninja at 4:53 AM - 64 comments

February 21

All of a sudden, these days, happy throngs, take this joy

Michael Idov's stellar article for GQ.com about being In Athens With Michael Shannon, the Night He (Sort of) Reunited R.E.M. And you better believe there's [more inside]
posted by Hey Dean Yeager! at 9:46 PM - 19 comments

Half-Life Histories

Half-Life Histories (Youtube playlist link) is a mini-documentary series about nuclear and radiological disasters by Youtuber and science educator Kyle Hill. Hill's series covers both well-known and major nuclear accidents and disasters like the Demon Core at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Castle Bravo detonation on Bikini Atoll, and less well-known incidents like what happened when scientist Anatoli Bugorski accidentally put his head in a particle accelerator beam, and the only recorded death from an unknown source of radiation.
posted by yasaman at 7:30 PM - 10 comments

Death, Lonely Death

Billions of miles away at the edge of the Solar System Voyager 1 has gone mad and has begun to die
posted by signsofrain at 5:03 PM - 112 comments

Steven Richard Miller 1950-2024

Steve Miller, coauthor of the Liaden universe, has died at the age of 74. He wrote his own obituary.
posted by WizardOfDocs at 4:37 PM - 20 comments

Stone Age wall found at bottom of Baltic Sea

Stone age wall found at bottom of Baltic Sea may be Europe’s oldest megastructure. They think it may have been used to help hunt reindeer. [more inside]
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 4:34 PM - 5 comments

Like Roy Moore never left

The reproductive healthcare community of Alabama was thrown into turmoil this week following a shockingly theocratic state supreme court decision that defines frozen embryos as children under the state's Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. Fearing prosecution, the influential UAB Health System has responded by officially suspending all in-vitro fertilization (IVF) services statewide. The controversial ruling puts Alabama at the forefront of the national fetal personhood movement, a key player in the push by conservative activists to institute unabashed Christian nationalism in a second Trump term. Unfortunately for Alabama voters, the state lacks a public referendum system, meaning any reforms must pass through the state legislature's Republican supermajorities.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:55 PM - 78 comments

The surprising origins of wave-particle duality

Everything acts like a wave while it propagates, but behaves like a particle whenever it interacts. The origins of this duality go way back.
posted by ShooBoo at 3:44 PM - 7 comments

What if you suspect your husband is fantastically evil?

Shot: "The Lure of Divorce" In which Emily Gould writes: "Seven years into my marriage, I hit a breaking point — and had to decide whether life would be better without my husband in it." (continued inside) [more inside]
posted by MiraK at 2:01 PM - 42 comments

The New Tabletop Games Journalism

Rascal News is a new venture in tabletop games journalism. Building on the 00s' New Games Journalism for videogames, the editors/authors are Lin Codega, Rowan Zeoli, and Chase Carter. A recent interview with Kimi Hughes discusses "How Has Actual Play Changed Game Design?" [more inside]
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:44 AM - 8 comments

Dexter Romweber, no longer here but the sound lives on.

Dexter Romweber, singer-guitarist of influential rockabilly band Flat Duo Jets, died on Sunday. He was 57. They don't make 'em like Dex anymore. Godspeed, pal. [more inside]
posted by Kitteh at 4:54 AM - 25 comments

The underlying technocratic philosophy of inevitability

Silicon Valley still attracts many immensely talented people who strive to do good, and who are working to realize the best possible version of a more connected, data-rich global society. Even the most deleterious companies have built some wonderful tools. But these tools, at scale, are also systems of manipulation and control. They promise community but sow division; claim to champion truth but spread lies; wrap themselves in concepts such as empowerment and liberty but surveil us relentlessly. The values that win out tend to be the ones that rob us of agency and keep us addicted to our feeds. from The Rise of Techno-Authoritarianism by Adrienne LaFrance [The Atlantic; ungated]
posted by chavenet at 12:39 AM - 21 comments

February 20

Five years of membership

Walking man, Craig Mod, writes a yearly breakdown of his membership program.
2023 was amazing, bewildering, inspiring, gnomic, exhausting, bacterial, and mostly, fun. I mean — by the end of the year I was but a swollen forearm fighting for my life (OK, maybe not quite that bad), but wow … WOW. 2023: Easily the most monumental and generative year of my life. I owe that fullness to SPECIAL PROJECTS, my membership program. Now, a somewhat unbelievable five years old. Here is everything I learned last year.
posted by device55 at 9:23 PM - 16 comments

I Can't Remain Neutral in the Now - This is Great

Drue Langlois' (previously) plucky post-apocalyptic scavenger Plague Roach has finally left the post-apocalyptic wasteland. But how? Through death? Even deeper escapism? Or something else entirely? Find out in the seemingly final installment of Staying Positive in the Apocalypse, Veil of Cloud - or watch the entire saga here.
posted by BiggerJ at 4:33 PM - 9 comments

Venice Carnival Masks

Venice Carnival 2024, masks at the Venice Arsenal and St. Mark's 4K [1h10m]
posted by hippybear at 1:58 PM - 9 comments

How Google is killing independent sites like ours

Private equity firms are utilizing public trust in long-standing publications to sell every product under the sun. In a bid to replace falling ad revenue, publishing houses are selling their publications for parts to media groups that are quick to establish affiliate marketing deals. They’re buying magazines we love, closing their print operations, turning them into digital-only, laying off the actual journalists who made us trust in their content in the first place, and hiring third-party companies to run the affiliate arm of their sites. While this happens, investment firms and ‘innovative digital media companies’ are selling you bad products. These Digital Goliaths shouldn’t be able to use product recommendations as their personal piggy bank, simply flying through Google updates off the back of ‘the right signals,’ an old domain, or the echo of a reputable brand that is no longer.
Indie air purifier review site HouseFresh does a deep dive into the incestuous world of top-ranking Google product search results. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi at 1:22 PM - 93 comments

"A sort of anti-woke summer camp."

"An alluring name, Forbidden Courses. I decided to take a look. Although my spleen is not inflamed by the culture wars, although my heart is not lifted by calls like Bari Weiss’s for a “coalition” comprised of “trads, whigs, normies,” I was curious. How plausible was their project? What ideas would they discuss? I applied to UATX last March. There was the cover letter, and the three essay questions, and the writing sample. I speckled them with Harold Bloom and Nietzsche. “Exploitation … belongs to the essence of what lives,” that sort of thing. April 6th, the letter arrived in my email inbox: “Congratulations! … UATX is extending you an offer of admission to Session I of this year's Forbidden Courses.” I flew south in June. " [Web Archive link] [more inside]
posted by reclusive_thousandaire at 10:07 AM - 110 comments

The Monk Took the Lion Around the Castle

To Become A Lion is a short, colorful video on the art and origin of Lion Dancing. (The pole jumps are nuts and for some it might be the first time you've seen a funeral lion). [more inside]
posted by storybored at 8:12 AM - 8 comments

Blue Beat Baby: The Untold Story of Brigitte

Who was the woman who inspired ska's ubiquitous Beat Girl logo? Joanna Wallace found a picture of the woman who inspired Hunt Emerson's iconic logo, and it led her to start digging into the history and career of Brigitte Bond. [more inside]
posted by ursus_comiter at 6:59 AM - 14 comments

I’m a Frayed Knot

"Informant’s dad told it to her. She found it so funny. She likes that it’s punny and unexpected. Her dad would tell it to her over and over again. His dad told it too." An entry from the USC Digital Folklore Archives. The International Society for Folk Narrative Research points to it as one of many digital folklore archives [PDF]. If you don't have time to visit digital archives, a dad joke generator may be more your speed.
posted by cupcakeninja at 5:12 AM - 18 comments

The Premonition of a Fraying

"For me, a luddite is someone who looks at technology critically and rejects aspects of it that are meant to disempower, deskill or impoverish them. Technology is not something that’s introduced by some god in heaven who has our best interests at heart. Technological development is shaped by money, it’s shaped by power, and it’s generally targeted towards the interests of those in power as opposed to the interests of those without it. That stereotypical definition of a luddite as some stupid worker who smashes machines because they’re dumb? That was concocted by bosses.” from 'Humanity’s remaining timeline? It looks more like five years than 50’: meet the neo-luddites warning of an AI apocalypse [Grauniad; ungated] [CW: Yudkowski] [more inside]
posted by chavenet at 2:29 AM - 65 comments

February 19

You can wag your tail / But I ain't gonna feed you no more

Why Willie Mae Thornton Matters. Author Lynée Denise on the book's genesis: I saw this video of one of her performances from 1970 and I was like who the hell is this? Who is this woman commanding the room, commanding the band with all this dignity, all this ruthless inner peace?

Thornton is sometimes overlooked in music history, but her rendition of "Hound Dog" came first, and was a smash hit to boot. More happily “Ball and Chain” became one of Janis Joplin’s signature songs with Big Mama’s blessing, after Joplin encountered Thornton singing it in a Divisadero St club in San Francisco. Dubbed "Big Mama" for her size, Thornton had raised herself out of poverty, turning professional singer at the age of fourteen in 1940. [Previously on MeFi] [more inside]
posted by spamandkimchi at 6:39 PM - 7 comments

Load your band into the van and hit the road

What Drives Us [1h30m] is a documentary about being an on-the-road rock and roll band. It's an interesting journey of self-discovery. Directed by Dave Grohl. Includes interviews with unexpected people.
posted by hippybear at 6:21 PM - 13 comments

A Moby Dick Pro-leg-omenon (But which?)

Captain Ahab’s ivory leg, carved from the jawbone of a whale, stands as one of the most iconic pieces of imagery in all of literature. Draw a man with a peg leg next to whale and he’s instantly recognizable as Ahab, as is the general idea of what happened to the leg and the less than amicable relationship he has with that whale. It’s all in the leg; and the leg tells the whole story. Which is why it’s so maddening, so confounding, that although Melville provides the minutest details about every last person, animal, and object in Moby-Dick, he fails to tell us which leg Ahab is missing. from Ahab's Leg Dilemma: Part 1, Part 2
posted by chavenet at 2:24 PM - 47 comments

What an absolute unit

On its maiden voyage in 1628, the Vasa warship capsized and sank. Originally thought to be caused by too many cannons on too many decks, one of the leading theories now is that shipbuilders used different rulers. Four were found in the wreckage, two calibrated with the Swedish Foot and the other two rulers used the Amsterdam Foot. Not only are they different lengths (29.69 cm versus 28.31 cm), the Dutch Foot was divided into 11 instead of 12 inches. These errors multiplied over the size of the ship led to lopsided construction and potentially the inevitable sinking. [more inside]
posted by autopilot at 12:14 PM - 57 comments

Next Friday is Hawaiian Shirt Day!

Twenty-five years ago today, the movie Office Space premiered. Watch the original trailer. Read Roger Ebert’s 3-star review (“a comic cry of rage against the nightmare of modern office life.”) Enjoy an oral history. Read reflections on the impact of the movie from Variety, BBC, and The Guardian. Maybe you want to buy yourself a red Swingline stapler to celebrate?
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:24 AM - 70 comments

I swim the seas between paranoia and disbelief - your weekly free thread

SPRINTS - Up and Comer It's your weekly free thread! Drop in, look around, let us know what's up with you.
posted by Gorgik at 8:14 AM - 80 comments

Bruce has a friend named Kevin

I discovered a gem on YouTube today, and it hides much deeper treasure. Bruce & friend Kevin: Live at the Rivoli! PART 1 [45m] is two Kids who come from The Hall doing a stage show. I don't know if Part 2 will be posted, but I hope so. [more inside]
posted by hippybear at 7:16 AM - 7 comments

The Time Is Double-Jointed

"Gorey’s approach to the representation of time is obviously variegated. His works are commonly set within a hybrid Victorian/Edwardian period and often elicit further confusion by containing comically anachronistic details. As indicated, in the examples such as The Broken Spoke, The Object-Lesson, and The Water Flowers, Gorey employs manipulations with temporal boundaries within the framework of nonsense, such as simultaneity, digression, and repetition, which lead to a suggestion of timelessness and infinity." [SLPDF] [more inside]
posted by cupcakeninja at 5:31 AM - 12 comments

Executors of collective falsehoods

The chief and lethal irony of Fixer is that the more William persecutes the rich, the richer he himself becomes. By the end of it all, he is stranded in meaninglessness, unsure what his mission has accomplished, or for what reasons he’d been chosen to live it. “[M]y revenge,” he says, “had nothing to do with me, but instead was something I’d walked in on at just the right moment.” from Lethal Irony: On Han Ong’s “Fixer Chao” by Zoë Hu [LARB; ungated]
posted by chavenet at 1:54 AM - 3 comments

February 18

Brushtailed possums are back to an area where they were locally extinct

Brushtail possums have not lived in this part of Australia for almost 100 years, but now they are back. Locally extinct from Western Australia's northern Wheatbelt for almost a century, a brushtail possum has been photographed out and about, signalling a landscape-scale conservation success. (If you're thinking "I've heard bad things about brushtailed possums", that's because feral [introduced] brushtailed possums are an genuine ecological catastrophe in New Zealand. Here in Australia where the brushtailed possums actually belong in the ecosystem, this is good news.)
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 10:45 PM - 8 comments

The unauthorized adventure of Tom Bombadil

Redditor "whypic" has been posting daily installments to the Glorious Tom Bombadil subreddit of an original webcomic work of fan-fiction describing an adventure of the mysterious side-character Tom Bombadil from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. In the webcomic, Bombadil is portrayed like Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes, and his naive enthusiasm is contrasted with the more worldly and serious elf-king Gil-Galad who is more of a "Hobbes" figure. Who is Tom Bombadil? Let "Jess of the Shire" explain. Webcomic installments 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 (Previously: Dark Bombadil) (Previously)
posted by Schmucko at 5:59 PM - 21 comments

I am Doctor Van Helsing / I never let anyone else sing

Gilbert & Sullivan's Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula, a highly condensed operetta by Mitch Benn [SLYT, 9:33]
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:20 PM - 10 comments

Bats, fangs, blood, and gore

"There are at least a dozen Dracula ballets, beginning with the 1899 version created for the Budapest Opera." "The dancing has teeth (and so do the dancers)." The count at the Polish National Ballet (video [YT]. Dracula in Kansas City. Three Draculas to watch [YT].
posted by cupcakeninja at 4:01 PM - 6 comments

I mean, if you're going to go to the Maldives, do it in style!

THE RITZ-CARLTON MALDIVES | Phenomenal private island resort (full tour) [1h12m] is a wordless tour of the resort. You won't get any perky central casting aspiring host here; it's images and music and an extremely engineered hotel resort that is basically at one with the water. I can't afford it and am not really into oceans, but if I were and could, this could be amazing.
posted by hippybear at 2:59 PM - 42 comments

"Insiders say Depp is now weighing a seven-figure annual contract."

Inside Johnny Depp's Epic Bromance with Mohammad bin Salman (Vanity Fair, archive.is)
posted by box at 2:47 PM - 45 comments

"Law professors tend to be astonishingly bad at the whole 'law' thing"

Paul Campos, University of Colorado law professor known for his work in exposing the law school scam, has obtained a settlement in his Title VII retaliation case. Campos has now blogged the whole sordid course of events: How I Won My Lawsuit Against the University of Colorado - Part II - Part III [more inside]
posted by Not A Thing at 2:43 PM - 34 comments

The most mesmerizing, creative, shocking, sweet, and savory shorts

Introducing the most iconic short films of 2023. Sourced by our curation team from this year's Staff Picks selections, the Best of the Year awards brings you the crème of the crème de la crème. from Vimeo
posted by chavenet at 2:32 PM - 1 comment

opressive blanket of normality

Good writers are perverts. (desktop only)
posted by simmering octagon at 1:55 PM - 18 comments

It’s a love story, Blobby just say yes

In 2017, google said goodbye to the (controversial) blobs emoji collection to the dismay of many. More than seven years later, the blobs live on. Community efforts to extend the collection persist, including the beloved cat variant. Most notably, blobs.gg, a >30k member community designing blobs for Discord.
posted by lianove3 at 12:05 PM - 6 comments

I wonder if it has a goatee.

The invisible substance called dark matter remains one of the biggest mysteries in cosmology. Perhaps, a new study suggests, this strange substance arises from a 'dark mirror universe' that's been linked to ours since the dawn of time.
posted by brundlefly at 10:03 AM - 29 comments

Crypto PAC Jumps Into Senate Race, Opposing Katie Porter in California

From NYT (ungated and nytimes.com): Fairshake revealed two weeks ago in federal filings that it and two affiliated super PACs had amassed a combined roughly $80 million in 2023, with most of the money coming from three major cryptocurrency players: Coinbase, Ripple Labs, and Andreessen Horowitz. It is not exactly clear what about Ms. Porter has drawn the crypto industry’s ire other than her record as a progressive who favored regulating the industry to better favor consumers and made the grilling of a financial chief executive a viral moment a few years ago.
posted by AlSweigart at 9:09 AM - 58 comments

Usenet Arcane Archive

Cat Yronwode is famous in the comic book world, but you might not know that she is also a practitioner and teacher of hoodoo, magic spells and herbs. In the bottom of her extensive website you will find the Arcane Archive, a plethora of Usenet posts from the 1990s (?) on Religion, Magick, Divination and other assorted stuff. [more inside]
posted by wittgenstein at 8:40 AM - 6 comments

Kids? They're alright

Eoin Reardon is a 20-something woodworker from Crossbarry Co Cork, who makes [eg a new axe-handle] with trad hand tools for a million+ @pintofplane TikTok followers . He laments the stigma of trades in schools. [more inside]
posted by BobTheScientist at 3:34 AM - 10 comments

By any other name

What is a rose, visually? A rose comprises its intrinsics, including the distribution of geometry, texture, and material specific to its object category. With knowledge of these intrinsic properties, we may render roses of different sizes and shapes, in different poses, and under different lighting conditions. In this work, we build a generative model that learns to capture such object intrinsics from a single image, such as a photo of a bouquet. Such an image includes multiple instances of an object type. These instances all share the same intrinsics, but appear different due to a combination of variance within these intrinsics and differences in extrinsic factors, such as pose and illumination. Experiments show that our model successfully learns object intrinsics (distribution of geometry, texture, and material) for a wide range of objects, each from a single Internet image. Our method achieves superior results on multiple downstream tasks, including intrinsic image decomposition, shape and image generation, view synthesis, and relighting. from Seeing a Rose in Five Thousand Ways
posted by chavenet at 2:10 AM - 1 comment

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