May 21

Like Christmas every day

$40M 'pay it forward' idea is likely to trigger positive 'contagion effect,' researcher says. The exact amount to be covered for the 396 students is still being calculated, Morehouse College President David A. Thomas told CNN on Monday, but the figure will likely be in the tens of millions of dollars. Robert Frederick Smith (born December 1, 1962) is an African-American businessman, investor, and philanthropist. A former chemical engineer and investment banker, he is the founder, chairman, and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners. In 2018, Smith was ranked by Forbes as the 163rd richest person in America. Here's the best reaction to Robert F. Smith paying off the student debt at Morehouse.
posted by kneecapped at 1:54 PM - 18 comments

the story of spikey

The Story of Spikey Stephen Wolfram gives an account of the origin and evolution of Mathematica's logo, touching upon geometry, paper sculptures, Kepler, and Brazilian folk art, among other themes.
posted by dhruva at 12:23 PM - 3 comments

Misselthwaite Manor

Latimer originally planted his bottle garden in 1960, sealed it, and let it sit — for twelve years. In 1972, thinking the plant may be a bit too dry after all of those years, he “put in about a quarter of a pint of water.” Then, he resealed the bottle — and it’s remained sealed to this day. [via Kottke]
posted by Chrysostom at 12:17 PM - 17 comments

Fish Below Your Feet

Solutions for a Living Harbor: In Seattle, Singapore, and other waterfront cities around the world, engineers are creating life-enhancing designs to encourage marine biodiversity. [more inside]
posted by poffin boffin at 11:18 AM - 9 comments

Why China Blocked Wikipedia in All Languages

Hint: There’s a big anniversary coming up. The Chinese government has long been suspicious of Wikipedia. It’s been blocked in China intermittently since 2004, and the Chinese-language version has been blocked since June 2015. Now the government has gone even further. The Wikimedia Foundation released a statement on Friday announcing that it had determined that China blocked all versions of Wikipedia. [more inside]
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:46 AM - 2 comments

Plaid shirt optional, but recommended

This Old House (previously) is now in its 40th season, and served as vanguard to numerous other home renovation shows. What continues to set it apart though is its goal "to put skilled tradespeople and the work they do in front of the camera."
posted by borkencode at 10:29 AM - 34 comments

Belgian Monks Create Heady New Brew

It has taken more than 220 years but an order of monks at Grimbergen Abbey, producers of a fabled medieval beer whose brand was adopted by mass producers in the 1950s, have started to brew again after rediscovering the original ingredients and methods in their archives. The Guardian reports on a heady new brew. [more inside]
posted by Bella Donna at 9:51 AM - 14 comments

Niki Lauda, three-time Formula One World Champion, has died.

Niki Lauda, who famously bought his way into F1 by way of a bank loan secured against his life insurance policy, became only driver in F1 history to win F1 World Championships for both Ferrari and McLaren. After surviving third-degree burns in a horrific crash in the 1976 German Grand Prix, Lauda returned to racing just 40 days later. His epic rivalry with James Hunt was chronicled in the 2013 Ron Howard directed film, Rush. A life-long pilot, Lauda founded Lauda Air in 1979. In 2012 he was named Non-Executive Chairman of Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team and is credited with helping build the team into the dominant force in F1 today. He died on Monday at age 70 of kidney failure. Previously... 1,2
posted by spudsilo at 9:51 AM - 13 comments

It’s not a logical game.

'Totally Accurate Battle Simulator' Captures the Goofy Mayhem of Mass Violence [Vice Games] “Totally Accurate Battle Simulator is a silly game. It’s purposefully whimsical, everything about it is built to support its farcical premise of AI fighters stumbling toward each other on various battlefields, swinging weaponry around with the physical comedy that accompanies physics-based animations. Knights wobble and fall over under the weight of their swords, mammoths trample crowds then clumsily topple to their sides as axe-throwers throw axes in hopefully the direction of their targets. It’s mayhem, and it’s undeniably goofy.” [YouTube][Game Trailer] [more inside]
posted by Fizz at 9:23 AM - 9 comments

Help even out racial disparities in incarceration!

In 2014, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote an award winning essay on reparations (for American Slavery, and all the economic benefits built on black bodies and profited on by, largely, white slaveowners and their descendants, and the nation). Today, 5 years later, some 2020 candidates are using reparations for political football. Some marginalized people need to approach reparations from a humorous perspective, for self-care and mental health reasons. [more inside]
posted by kalessin at 8:33 AM - 3 comments

This Cockeyed Maturity is Driving Me Crazy!

Somehow I became respectable. I don’t know how—the last film I directed got some terrible reviews and was rated NC-17. Six people in my personal phone book have been sentenced to life in prison. I did an art piece called Twelve Assholes and a Dirty Foot, which is composed of close-ups from porn films, yet a museum now has it in their permanent collection and nobody got mad. What the hell has happened? By John Waters
posted by chavenet at 8:09 AM - 30 comments

Solidarity Is a Force Stronger Than Gravity

"Our great task today — your task and my task, is to build a labor movement for this new century — a labor movement for all of America’s workers — a labor movement as big and bold as America itself "On May 10, 2019, Association of Flight Attendants president Sara Nelson gave a speech to the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America’s annual Eugene Debs–Lucy Gonzalez Parsons–A. Philip Randolph Dinner. We reproduce the speech here in full, lightly edited for online publication. (Jacobin) "When I mention Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA), to people in the labor movement, the response is usually something like: “I would follow her to the gates of hell.” Sara Nelson Is Not Afraid To Strike Back (The Nation) " A few hours of training is not a just transition. The transition needs to begin before the jobs go away. A just transition must ensure pensions and healthcare are protected for workers who spent their lives powering our country in the fossil fuel industries." The Green New Deal Needs Labor’s Support. We Asked Sara Nelson How To Get It. (In These Times)
posted by The Whelk at 7:58 AM - 5 comments

Wittgenstein's Rope Around the Earth Animation

Cool philosophy animation showing the fallibility of human intuition. This is a super cool new animation put out by the Center for Public Philosophy at UC Santa Cruz. It talks about a little experiment called "The Rope Around the Earth" and why it shows that human intuition is sometimes overconfidently wrong, and draws conclusions for that about our political and social disagreements.
posted by HiPhiNation at 7:48 AM - 23 comments

Private Mohammed Kahn: Civil War Soldier

Private Mohammed Kahn, also known as John Ammahail, was born in Persia, circa 1830. Raised in Afghanistan, he immigrated to the United States in 1861. About two months after his arrival he enlisted in the 43rd New York Infantry Regiment, following a night out with friends who convinced him to join.
posted by Etrigan at 6:02 AM - 6 comments

Citizen Cane

In 1909, the Boston Post newspaper commissioned 700 gold-headed ebony walking canes, and distributed one to the selectmen of every town in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, with instructions to give the cane to the town's oldest (male) citizen. In the '30s, the tradition expanded to include women. More than 500 of the canes still survive, some still in circulation and some in local collections, and volunteers at the Maynard Historical Society continue to search out the whereabouts of the remaining ~200. [more inside]
posted by Miko at 5:27 AM - 12 comments

May 20

September 16, 1977, ABC

The Making Of Star Wars [49m]
posted by hippybear at 9:22 PM - 24 comments

You do not exist to be used.

Your personhood, your value, does not correlate with how measurable your achievements are or how they benefit the capitalist underpinnings of society. Your life is of purpose because it’s yours. Because you’re here, you exist in this moment, to be here, to be as unapologetic and unwaveringly unproductive as you so desire. Life’s purpose is for you to define; its value is inherent.
posted by odinsdream at 9:01 PM - 39 comments

The Art of Making in Antiquity

"The Art of Making in Antiquity is an innovative digital project designed for the study of Roman stoneworking. Centred on the photographic archive of Peter Rockwell, this website aims to enhance current understanding of the carving process and to investigate the relationship between the surviving objects, the method and sequence of their production and the people who made them."
posted by jedicus at 8:37 PM - 2 comments

How to ride a mechanical bull

Mechanical bulls start off easy enough, then the'll buck you, but Anthony "PRB" Smith makes it look easy, like really easy, hopping back and forth. Here's an interview he did for German TV ahead of his appearance on Germany's Got Talent.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:53 PM - 11 comments

18xx games, now in musical form

Maybe you've heard of the 18xx family of railroad stock-market boardgames? It all started with the game 1829, and today comprises a huge range of games, lasting from 2 to 10+ hours, mostly set in the nineteenth century, in locations all around the world. The market for these games has always been tiny, so there's a thriving niche community of amateur design/printing. Well now, 18xx meets Les Miserables, in a ten song musical version by podcaster Ambie Valdés. [more inside]
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:50 PM - 11 comments

"Two ears, one mouth, don't talk too much."

Political geographer Anja Kanngieser discusses the movements for climate and environmental justice in the Pacific and building atmosphere through sound recordings. "Many of the [Pacific Islands] activists I spoke with said, "We are doing this not only for us, but for you, because after we go, you go too"." [more inside]
posted by trotzdem_kunst at 7:02 PM - 1 comment

Even Wizard Colleges Have Sports Scholarships

Quidditch is so 20th Century. The new hot shit is the wizard sport of Fireball, brought to you by the homebrew adventure tabletop gaming blog A Blasted Cratered Land, with game mechanics written for the GLOG rules-lite homebrew system family. (A Blasted Cratered Land also has a quick rundown of what the GLOG is.) [more inside]
posted by Caduceus at 4:05 PM - 6 comments

Teachers in crisis

New Zealand's public education system, as in other countries, is under intense pressure. On 29 May it faces what's being described as a once-in-a-generation mega-strike. Journalist Toby Morris has produced a short comic that explains the crisis from both an individual and a larger perspective. [more inside]
posted by reshet at 3:07 PM - 24 comments

Knitting Is Coding

Yarn Is Programmable (SLNYT by Siobhan Roberts)
posted by bq at 1:59 PM - 15 comments

unsuck Unsuck DC Metro

From Watchdog To Attack Dog: The Story Of Unsuck D.C. Metro [more inside]
posted by peeedro at 12:24 PM - 28 comments

She disappears for exactly 22 minutes at a time

Five hours of life inside Janet's Void. Hey The Good Place fans, ever wonder what not-a-person not-a-woman humanoid-appearing sentient database Janet does when she pops back to her void? Wonder no more. Fun fact: When she leaves the void, she returns after exactly 22 minutes. A (SLYT) bit of existential whimsy for your Monday.
posted by zaixfeep at 11:56 AM - 10 comments

Your lifespan is related to that of your inlaws

Using 400 million records from, researchers have determined that assortative mating (previously; not previously) has an influence on longevity. Their work has lowered the estimate of the impact of genetics on longevity from 15-30% to 7%. Paper. [more inside]
posted by clawsoon at 10:52 AM - 16 comments

Everything's going fine. No trouble. Just get set and get going, amen.

The vocal group* 180 Gs released 180 D'Gs to the Future - an entire album of a cappella covers of Negativland songs, in a variety of styles from gospel to work song to just weird. And! They also covered all of The Residents' 1980 Commercial Album. And Cardiac's album Sing to God [previously, previously]! [more inside]
posted by moonmilk at 9:53 AM - 13 comments

We’re all “mutants”.

The Lazy Design Aesthetic of Misrepresenting Genetic Conditions [Plenty of Minds]
“In books, films and video games, “mutant” is often used interchangeably with various terms that essentially mean “other”: “freak,” “monster,” “beast,” et cetera. However, it isn’t completely interchangeable because everyone understands that “mutant” has something to do with genetics and biological development. Therefore, the choice to use the term “mutant” implies that there is some biological, likely genetic, basis for why these “monsters” are the way they are. [...] It appears to me that the designers were just cribbing dysmorphic features that occur in real life and applying them to the game’s monsters, then naming them “mutants” and going on their way. Why do they look the way they are? Because they’re “mutants.” No additional thought went into that.”
Michael California draws upon his background as a geneticist to compliment a discussion of Rage 2‘s industry-standard ableism with an explanation of why the “mutant” tropes of disfigurement and disability widely perpetuated in popular media make no scientific sense whatsoever. [YouTube][Rage 2 Launch Trailer] [more inside]
posted by Fizz at 9:12 AM - 14 comments

whatever happened to the space between the notes?

Speed Up Your Podcasts for More Efficient Listening
Speeding Up Your Podcasts Won’t Solve Your Problems
Meet The People Who Listen to Podcasts Crazy-Fast
Stop listening to podcasts at 1.5x
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:23 AM - 119 comments

Authenticity is for tourists.

"“My grandmother made tacos with peas and with potatoes,” Lopez said, and added it was because she couldn’t always afford ground beef. For some Mexican Americans, this gets at the essence of the way we eat. Pretending otherwise means suppressing our lived realities and histories. I can’t think of a better example of the fraud of authenticity, which is more interested in the aesthetics of poverty than in poverty itself, more invested in the feeling of realness than in any kind of truth." John Paul Brammer for the Washington Post: I’m Mexican American. Stop expecting me to eat ‘authentic’ food.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 7:21 AM - 83 comments

Danny Macaskill: Danny Daycare (feat. Daisy)

Expert trials cyclist Danny Macaskill is looking after his friends' daughter and can't resist taking her for a wee bike ride around Scotland. (No children were involved in these stunts!) [more inside]
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:52 AM - 22 comments

that Butterfly song will never die

DanceRush Stardom is a rhythm/dancing game from Konami. The machines have a built-in camera that can record movements (and blur out background figures). Unlike Dance Dance Revolution, DanceRush operates on a large, touch-sensitive pad divided into long columns. This allows for a certain freedom of choreography. [more inside]
posted by automatic cabinet at 12:55 AM - 7 comments

May 19


Do you need 4 minutes of Bill Hader cackling next to John Mulaney without context? Well...There you go. If you want the context, there's the whole hour of Mulaney and Hader at the 92nd Street Y, recorded last week. [more inside]
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:23 PM - 9 comments

Birding IRL, and back to the couch to watch Tuca and Bertie

Ryan F. Mandelbaum is birder, who took to the hobby as a way to log off and get outside (Gizmodo), as something of a real-life Pokémon adventure. But now he's inside again, paying close attention to Tuca & Bertie (YouTube, official trailer; previously on MeFi) because he's trying to identify All The Birds (io9).
posted by filthy light thief at 6:15 PM - 12 comments

Couldn't be a newspaper, could it - coming out only once a month?

The NYU library hosts a public archive of every edition of Freedom, a magazine edited by Paul Robeson and Louis Burnham from 1951 to 1955. They weren't shy about self-posting, but also provided a venue for journalists and artists such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Alice Childress, Charles White, and Lorraine Hansberry to cover topics rarely seen in the mainstream media. (Via twitter user prisonculture.)
posted by eotvos at 5:30 PM - 1 comment

16-Year-Olds Want a Vote. Fifty Years Ago, So Did 18-Year-Olds.

“A lot of 16-year-olds are working and getting taxed,” said Ema Smith, 19, a freshman at Yale who, in high school, helped lead a successful campaign to lower the voting age for local elections in Greenbelt, Md. “People tend to focus on at 18 you can join the military, but there are a lot of things happening at 16.” (NYT) [more inside]
posted by Little Dawn at 4:06 PM - 68 comments


Tony Robbins is the world’s most famous self-help guru. This is the story he doesn’t want you to read. [more inside]
posted by chavenet at 1:27 PM - 31 comments

Martin Tower is no more.

Built during the boom times of American Steel, Martin Tower was seen as the crowning achievement and as a sign of corporate greed all in one. [more inside]
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 12:18 PM - 12 comments

The Social Dynamics of Fantasy Dragons

Even if the new season had managed to minimize plot holes and avoid clunky coincidences..., they couldn’t persist in the narrative lane of the past seasons. For Benioff and Weiss, trying to continue what Game of Thrones had set out to do, tell a compelling sociological story, would be like trying to eat melting ice cream with a fork. Hollywood mostly knows how to tell psychological, individualized stories. They do not have the right tools for sociological stories, nor do they even seem to understand the job. The Real Reason Fans Hate the Last Season of Game of Thrones by Zeynep Tufekci (previously). Caution: Spoilers for the current season of GoT.
posted by Cash4Lead at 12:01 PM - 47 comments

But are there depression jeans?

There is no "depression gene". The authors go on to demolish every other "depression gene" connection in the existing literature. They went after the lot. Nothing. No clear evidence for any given gene, in any polymorphic form, with any effect on depression, as either measured by itself or in combination with any other environmental effect. Paper (paywalled). [more inside]
posted by clawsoon at 5:54 AM - 64 comments

May 18

Jon Batiste's 'The Game of Thrones' Song

Jon Batiste's 'The Game of Thrones' Song [SLYT]

"Now you, I understand, are a huge Game of Thrones fan, right?"
"No. Never seen a single episode."
"How did you write a song recapping the entire series?"
"Well, I've seen plenty of memes online, so, just put it together like that, you know."
"Oh. That's all you know about Game of Thrones?"
"Yep. But I think I nailed it. Jim?"
posted by kirkaracha at 10:15 PM - 19 comments

This economics journal only publishes results that are no big deal

Start with the name: Series of Unsurprising Results in Economics (SURE). The journal publishes papers with findings that are, well, really boring — so boring that other journals rejected them just for being boring. Its first paper, published Tuesday, is about an education intervention that was found to have no effects at all on anything.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:01 PM - 22 comments

Hail Satan?

What is religion? There's not a convenient or easy answer. [more inside]
posted by aloiv2 at 8:37 PM - 22 comments


What lies beneath: Robert Macfarlane travels 'Underland.' "From prehistoric cave paintings to buried nuclear waste, underground spaces record how humans have lived. To explore Underland means voyaging into the deep past – and raises urgent questions about our planet’s future." This is a brilliant essay by Robert Macfarlane on the themes of his book Underland. [more inside]
posted by homunculus at 6:46 PM - 9 comments

there is no Other

Rhiannon Giddens and Francisco Turrisi's I'm On My Way, Ten Thousand Voices, and the title track from their new album there is no Other. A live performance of three tracks from the album and an interview from Paste Studio NYC. Giddens, Turrisi, producer Joe Henry, and engineer Ryan Freeland talk about the instruments featured on the album. Giddens and Turrisi in Performance and Conversation on May 1, 2019 (1 hour, 11 minutes). [more inside]
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:05 PM - 8 comments

The Scott Rea Project

Butcher Scott Rea makes sausages. Pork & Wild Garlic Sausages. Black Pudding , (blood sausage, be warned). Venison & Stout Sausages. He has a number of from field to table videos, for instance going through the whole process of slaughtering and butchering a lamb. [more inside]
posted by Bee'sWing at 4:04 PM - 11 comments

"She’ll spend most of her life on a chain in a stall"

Wildlife tourism isn’t new, but social media is setting the industry ablaze, turning encounters with exotic animals into photo-driven bucket-list toppers. Activities once publicized mostly in guidebooks now are shared instantly with multitudes of people by selfie-taking backpackers, tour-bus travelers, and social media “influencers” through a tap on their phone screens. […] Photographer Kirsten Luce and I set out to look behind the curtain of the thriving wildlife tourism industry, to see how animals at various attractions—including some that emphasize their humane care of animals—are treated once the selfie-taking crowds have gone. (Natasha Daly, National Geographic)
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 3:21 PM - 21 comments

“Pokémon Go with building blocks.”

Minecraft Earth is Microsoft’s wild shot at the next Pokemon Go-style AR blockbuster [YouTube] “Microsoft today unveiled its previously teased follow-up to Minecraft, a sequel of sorts. It’s a free-to-play Augmented Reality game called Minecraft Earth, and it’s designed for modern Android and iOS phones. A closed beta is planned for this summer, likely to be limited geographically, with a gradual roll-out through the whole world. The game allows players to collect Minecraft blocks as they walk around their neighborhoods, to engage in augmented reality mini-games in public spaces, and to create their own virtual buildings, which can be shared and explored.” [via: Polygon] [more inside]
posted by Fizz at 2:26 PM - 37 comments

Fanny Fielding Art

Hello Dear. I am an artist based in Hertfordshire UK using mostly watercolour and can often been seen out and about painting on the streets and wherever takes my fancy. [NSFW language.]
posted by chavenet at 12:51 PM - 11 comments

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