April 25

I still go by the frogs...

Solving maple syrup's sticky situation: knowing when the season ends
posted by jacquilynne at 6:47 AM - 6 comments

How Instagram and YouTube disrupted child labor laws

'“I don’t care if it’s simply unboxing presents, that’s work,” said Sheila James Kuehl, a former child star and co-author of the 1999 law that overhauled California’s labor protections for child performers. “It is not play if you’re making money off it.”' [Note: some mentions of child abuse in the article.]
posted by Catseye at 6:28 AM - 8 comments

“...it’s about creating human habitats amidst climate chaos.”

Lichenia: A city building game for the Anthropocene. [Release Notes] “Lichenia is a new web-based game from game designer Molleindustria (Paolo Pedercini) that’s about “reshaping the natural and built environment, reclaiming dead cities, and growing sustainable ones.” It takes a few minutes to get going, but what else would you expect? Resurrecting a poisoned world is hard. Presented in an isometric perspective (and playable online for free), Lichenia tasks its player with placing some strange tiles on a polluted and ruined landscape. We don’t know what these tiles do. [...] Playing Lichenia is all about trial and error, but that’s because Pedercini wanted there to be an unclear relationship between what you were doing and the effects you had on the world.” [via: Waypoint]
posted by Fizz at 6:03 AM - 2 comments

April 24

Hi Simon, I'm Theo. You're my best friend.

Simon would wait all day for the cat in the window. Then one day, Simon asked the cat his name, and a beautiful love story began. Now, Simon and Theo will have their first date on Thursday, April 25th.
posted by gladly at 7:24 PM - 17 comments

Very Thin Ice

To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Autotune the News, Schmoyoho a.k.a Andrew Gregory has traveled back in time to finish his duet with Katie Couric about Climate Change. [more inside]
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:20 PM - 18 comments

The Mercury 13, the First Lady Astronaut Trainees

Before Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova (Space.com) became the first woman in space (previously), 25 women were privately tested with the same rigorous criteria as the original Mercury Seven (Wikipedia), and thirteen candidates were identified for further evaluation (The Ninety-Nines), before NASA forbid the testing from continuing. They didn't stop fighting for the right to be considered beside the male candidates, but it wouldn't be until 1983 that Astronaut Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. Last year, Netflix released a Mercury 13 documentary (YT, trailer), and they received mroe attention recently with the passing of Jerrie Cobb, an aviation pioneer and advocate for women in space (Ars Technica). [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief at 1:53 PM - 10 comments

Less moon, more scapes

The Sudbury Effect: Lessons from a regreened city (CBC Ideas) discusses ongoing attempts to undo the damage from over a century of mining and smelting activity in and around Sudbury, Ontario. A combination of extensive scientific study, government regulation, citizen activism, and some eventual, begrudging industry cooperation would result in long-term remediation efforts that have transformed Sudbury's once-notorious "moonscape" and recognized as a success story around the world. Watch 32 years of Sudbury re-greening from space with Google Timelapse. [more inside]
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:26 PM - 5 comments

What Has Irony Done for us Lately?

I believe—like religion—that the glimmer, the metaphor, if you will, knows a great deal more than I do. And if I stay out of its way, it will reveal itself to me. (A 2019 Pushcart Prize winner) [more inside]
posted by mecran01 at 1:05 PM - 12 comments

Why bother with nearly three months of effort to collect this data?

I found two identical packs of Skittles, among 468 packs with a total of 27,740 Skittles [more inside]
posted by Etrigan at 12:20 PM - 48 comments

"then surely the song would be your best friend"

Why Do People With Depression Like Listening To Sad Music? (British Psychological Society): A new study in the journal Emotion (abstract) reports people diagnosed with major depressive disorder don't listen to sad music to maintain their negative feelings, but rather that they find sad music relaxing, calming or soothing. The research replicated a 2015 study that found people with depression had a far greater preference than controls for sad, low-energy music. However, when they heard these clips again, they reported that they made them feel more happiness and less sadness. [more inside]
posted by not_the_water at 11:58 AM - 48 comments

A Internet Argument Ender about local tax rates

A Internet Argument Ender about local tax rates [via mefi projects] (in Ontario).
posted by sardonyx at 11:55 AM - 25 comments

"Look at yourself and a hand and a shelf in the wind…"

The country soon-to-be-classic "You Can't Take My Door" is part of the upcoming album The Songularity, by Botnik Studios (previously). To write the lyrics, we are remixing all the best text we can find: Scottish folk ballads, Amazon reviews, Carrie Underwood, The Elements Of Style and more. Our predictive text computer program suggests lyrics in the style of these influences. We set the results to original music. [more inside]
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:46 AM - 9 comments

Enjoy your spot in antiquity! Say hi to westerns for me!

Romantic comedy is the only genre committed to letting relatively ordinary people — no capes, no spaceships, no infinite sequels — figure out how to deal meaningfully with another human being. Rom-Coms Were Corny and Retrograde. Why Do I Miss Them so Much? [SLNYT]
posted by Mchelly at 11:24 AM - 46 comments

Moon mode is not what it seems

Have Huawei developed an AI that cleverly enhances your pictures of the moon? Or is it just adding artefactual moon-things to your shaky blurry snap cos it wants you to be happy? A user, Wang Yue, puts it to the test at Zhihu (Chinese language article), and Huawei respond to questions at Android Authority. [more inside]
posted by Joeruckus at 10:48 AM - 35 comments

Treatment was noninferior to "it's just a phase"

Medical visits for suicide-related issues among adolescents has doubled from 2007 to 2015, and is now over a million annual visits in the US. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among American youths age 10 to 18 years and attempted suicide is the strongest predictor of subsequent death by suicide (journal article). What can be done? [more inside]
posted by zenon at 9:57 AM - 32 comments

Myopia - ugh.

The Impact of Myopia and High Myopia. (PDF) A WHO report. "The prevalence of myopia and high myopia are increasing globally at an alarming rate, with significant increases in the risks for vision impairment from pathologic conditions associated with high myopia, including retinal damage, cataract and glaucoma. The impact of myopia is difficult to determine, because there are no standard definitions of myopia and high myopia, and recognition that myopia can lead to vision impairment is limited by the absence of a defined category of myopic retinal disease that causes permanent vision impairment. A further impediment to progress in this area is insufficient evidence of the efficacy of various methods for controlling myopia."
posted by storybored at 8:46 AM - 42 comments

“But perhaps it is we who need to defrag.”

LonelyStreams Shows You What Happens In Twitch Streams With Zero Viewers “But Twitch isn’t just star gamers; it’s pirate streams, bizarre Tim and Eric-style broadcasts, and average Joes just streaming their Overwatch matches. [...] All that anyone really needs to stream on Twitch is a computer and one of the various capture programs, like OBS or Fraps. If there are really thousands of unviewed streams hiding in the tall grass, it stands to reason that for the dozens of Fortnite players streaming, there’s plenty of weird shit in there too. And LonelyStreams gives me the perfect sieve to find them.” [via: Kotaku]
At any given point in time there are about 3000 livestreams on twitch alone with 0 viewers. Most of the creators are making great efforts of setting everything up and making sure their stream runs properly. It's a shame that nobody is watching. So feel free to browse around and appreciate their hard work.
[more inside]
posted by Fizz at 5:20 AM - 34 comments

Soviet Mosaics and More

Monumental Almaty is a project to document, research, and preserve works of monumental art in Almaty, Kazakhstan. [more inside]
posted by frimble at 1:03 AM - 8 comments

April 23

Life Gave Me Fifteen Lemons

"I got fifteen lemons in the mail from a California friend with a lemon tree. This is what I did with them." An illustrated essay by MeFi's Own jessamyn (further story background on mefi projects). Includes secret messages, ideas for a lemon menagerie, and a variety of foods/meals. Also features community, and friends near and far. 🍋
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 9:49 PM - 42 comments

The Black Feminists Who Saw the Alt-Right Threat Coming

Before Gamergate, before the 2016 election, they launched a campaign against Twitter trolls masquerading as women of color. If only more people had paid attention. In 2014 Shafiqah Hudson noticed an odd hashtag purporting to be from black feminists arguing against father's day. But the language these accounts were using read to her as a parody of AAVE, and some of the photos were of people she knew didn't use twitter. This led her and I’Nasah Crockett down a racist rabbit hole that led to 4-chan, right before gamergate. [more inside]
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:59 PM - 43 comments


Post-human creatures interact via immersive social network. [more inside]
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:05 PM - 14 comments

Monkey business

Two gorillas have been photographed posing for a relaxed selfie with the rangers who rescued them as babies... Because they've grown up with the rangers who rescued them, they are imitating the humans and standing on two legs is their way of "learning to be human beings".
posted by growabrain at 4:53 PM - 31 comments

Generational Theory, As Exemplified by The Avengers (MCU)

"Steve also comes out of the ice as a 27 year old. In 2012. Steve’s also an emotional Millennial, with similar experience of economic collapse & attack and disaster." Author CZ Edwards provides a deep dive into generational theory (and callouts of its bullshit) through insightful character analysis supported with plenty of historical details.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:21 PM - 33 comments

Close To Home: A Conversation About Beyoncé's 'Lemonade'

We asked Professor Regina Bradley and writer dream hampton to share their dialogue about the visual album with us, to show the many directions Lemonade is sending people, knowing the two of them don't come to the art or the artist from the same place, knowing they require different things if they're to feel represented, knowing that feeling is a major factor in what's happening right now culturally, but it's not the only thing.
Close To Home: A Conversation About Beyoncé's 'Lemonade'
posted by hippybear at 3:02 PM - 13 comments

Hillside Letters in the Western Landscape

In the western part of the United States, whole communities succumb to the urge to display their school or community pride by stamping their initial on the sides of mountains. Some are painted on stone, some are overlaid with painted concrete or rocks, and some are created by strategically clear-cutting dense vegetation. [more inside]
posted by zinon at 2:41 PM - 43 comments

American Mexican Food

The United States of Mexican Food is a project by Eater and Gustavo Arellano about the wonderful varieties of Mexican food in the US that are uniquely American.
Welcome to the United States of Mexican Food: The canonical dishes of regional Mexican-American food, from ACP to hot tamales, plotted from California to Georgia [more inside]
posted by vacapinta at 11:58 AM - 50 comments

"It was then that I realized the true power of the yodel."

Back in the early 1990s, Wylie Gustafson was the go-to yodeler for quirky TV ads, when the fad was yodeling and surf music. A little start-up that was first known as Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web (Wikipedia) and became the biggest internet index site (1996 site capture on Archive.org) wanted to get in on the action, and Wylie was hired for the Ya-HOOO-ooo! Yodel (YT), in what was supposed to be a regional commercial, for a one-time payment of $590.38. Then Gustafson heard his yodel on a superbowl ad (YT) and realized it wasn't just a one-off regional commercial clip he provided. So requested an appropriate payment for his ubiquitous yodel, but after he was offered another $590, he became the yodeler who sued Yahoo! (The Hustle). [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief at 11:49 AM - 20 comments

“Did he just call us g--d--- communists?”

“There are definitely days when I wake up now and I am, like, I am not equipped to do this,” Innamorato said later. “But I’ll figure it out. It’s a system. There are rules. It’s imperfect because it’s run by human beings, and I’ll figure it out.” These Women Were Elected As Democratic Socialists, Now They’re Trying To Figure Out What That Means (Washington Post)
posted by The Whelk at 11:00 AM - 17 comments

Baby T rex goes on sale on eBay, sparking paleontologists' outcry

YOUNG (BABY) T-REX TYRANNOSAURUS DINOSAUR FOSSIL US: $2,950,000.00, Free Expedited Shipping: Most Likely the Only BABY T-Rex in the World! It has a 15 FOOT long Body and a 21" SKULL with Serrated Teeth! This Rex was very a very dangerous meat eater. It's a RARE opportunity indeed to ever see a baby REX... [more inside]
posted by not_the_water at 9:43 AM - 30 comments

Perhaps the fabella will soon be known as the appendix of the skeleton.

Textbooks will tell you that the human body contains 206 bones. But sometimes, there are 208. The fabella, a small bone in a tendon behind the knee, was lost over the course of early human evolution, but these days it’s becoming more common, according to a study published this week (April 17) in the Journal of Anatomy.
posted by Etrigan at 9:38 AM - 11 comments

Snot’s dripping. I’m honestly looking for a small dark place.

The main difficulty lies in the fact that the body, which is smarter than the mind, does not want to consume these peppers. Giri Nathan writes on tasting the Carolina Reaper pepper (clocking in at 1,560,000 Scoville heat units) at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo.
posted by Cash4Lead at 8:32 AM - 62 comments

"a chill of arctic iciness down the spines of the many people"

The Anarchists Who Took the Commuter Train, Amanda Kolson Hurley writes about the Stelton colony, founded 1914, near New Brunswick, New Jersey. An anarchist intentional community, the Stelton colony centered around the Ferrer Center and Modern School. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:40 AM - 6 comments

A normal failure

How the Boeing 737 Max Disaster Looks to a Software Developer (Gregory Travis, IEEE Spectrum)

Boeing produced a dynamically unstable airframe, the 737 Max. That is big strike No. 1. Boeing then tried to mask the 737’s dynamic instability with a software system. Big strike No. 2. Finally, the software relied on systems known for their propensity to fail (angle-of-attack indicators) and did not appear to include even rudimentary provisions to cross-check the outputs of the angle-of-attack sensor against other sensors, or even the other angle-of-attack sensor. Big strike No. 3. None of the above should have passed muster.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:45 AM - 153 comments

Do you really want to know?

My Search for a Boyhood Friend Led to a Dark Discovery A surfeit of ugly knowledge is a feature of our age. But when information is everywhere, some things are better left buried.
posted by bongo_x at 3:16 AM - 82 comments

April 22

The Top Ten Numbers Between One and Ten

On September 22, 1989, minutes before going onstage, David Letterman had second thoughts about the Top Ten List planned for that evening's show. In "about two minutes," Late Night head writer Steve O'Donnell improvised a new one and dictated it directly to the show's chyron operator. The result was possibly the most surreal bit ever aired on this very surreal show. (SLYT) [more inside]
posted by How the runs scored at 8:04 PM - 76 comments

Robert Caro’s Blind Spot

Why does the exhaustive biographer overlook Lyndon Johnson’s virulent misogyny? Remarkably, Caro neglects to mention how LBJ repeatedly invaded the physical boundaries of his female employees by groping them. This curious omission by America’s preeminent biographer, whose work is otherwise so thorough and sensitive, points to the depth of the problem that the #MeToo movement is trying to redress—that the sexual violence endured by generations of working women has long been nearly completely buried.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:31 PM - 27 comments


“I made a PC out of pasta and it WORKED!” [YouTube] “Steve Jobs, Dennis Ritchie, Bill Gates—all are visionaries that have shaped modern computing technology. With that in mind, YouTuber Laplanet Arts decided to take computing somewhere that it’s never been before—inside of a lasagna. Micah Laplante, whose YouTube channel Laplanet Arts has 315 subscribers, mostly uploads product reviews and image-retouching tutorials. But after his wife made an off-handed joke about a PC made of pasta, he decided that he could actually make that ridiculous idea a reality.” [via: Motherboard]
posted by Fizz at 3:15 PM - 33 comments

Civilizations Lost in Deep Time

“Wait a second,” he said. “How do you know we’re the only time there’s been a civilization on our own planet?” [...] There are fossils, of course. But the fraction of life that gets fossilized is always minuscule and varies a lot depending on time and habitat. It would be easy, therefore, to miss an industrial civilization that only lasted 100,000 years—which would be 500 times longer than our industrial civilization has made it so far. [more inside]
posted by ragtag at 2:06 PM - 101 comments

It was the best of timelines, it was the worst of timelines

Josh Futturman is Future Man. A janitor by day/world-ranked gamer by night is tasked with preventing the extinction of humanity after mysterious visitors from the future proclaim him the key to defeating the imminent super-race invasion. [more inside]
posted by No Robots at 2:04 PM - 20 comments

“The Earth is in need of a good lawyer.”

Polly Higgins, lawyer who fought for recognition of 'ecocide', dies aged 50. Campaigner and barrister attempted to create a law to criminalise ecological damage. "Polly Higgins, one of the most inspiring figures in the green movement, has died aged 50. Higgins, a British barrister, led a decade-long campaign for 'ecocide' to be recognised as a crime against humanity. She sold her house and gave up a high-paying job so she could dedicate herself to attempting to create a law that would make corporate executives and government ministers criminally liable for the damage they do to ecosystems..." Higgins died yesterday of cancer. [Via] [more inside]
posted by homunculus at 1:25 PM - 26 comments

The Crack Monster: the mystery of Sesame Street's creepy lost short

[Jon] Armond was haunted by the video for decades. He mentioned it to other Gen X’ers who’d been brought up watching Sesame Street but no one else seemed to remember it. Did the the video even exist, or was his memory just playing tricks on him? Finally, after decades of looking, in the earlier days of the internet, he found Jennifer Bourne, a cartoonist who also grew up fearing the crack monster. She began poking around on Muppet-themed message boards and Snopes, and, little by little, an odd congregation of people started to form online, a virtual support group for people who were terrorized by the clip. Slate link includes a text article, video of the short, and audio with more details from PRI's Studio 360. [more inside]
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:50 PM - 84 comments

In the pines, where the sun don't shine

It's known by many names: In the Pines, Black Girl, Where Dd You Sleep Last Night. Studio 360's producer, Lauren Hansen tells the story of how In the Pines originated from the English murder ballad tradition and has been interpreted over the years through Appalachian bluegrass, 40's blues, 70's country, in grunge via Kurt Cobain's Unplugged and reinterpreted today through the lens of Black Lives Matter. [more inside]
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 12:24 PM - 11 comments

The Stolen Child (a tale told in tales)

The Stolen Child (a tale told in tales) [via mefi projects] [more inside]
posted by Caduceus at 11:45 AM - 1 comment

20 Years Later

Why Do We Get Columbine So Wrong? And how should the media cover acts of mass violence? (Ask A Mortician) , 13:48 cw: discussion of suicide, mass shootings.
posted by The Whelk at 10:25 AM - 14 comments

The worlds of sand, salt and pepper are far from monotone

When most people hear "sand," they think of fine grains of white to tan, but the word "sand" is actually used for a "particle size" rather than for a "material." Sand is a loose, granular material with particles that range in size between 1/16 millimeter and 2 millimeters in diameter. And that's where the similarities end, and the diversity begins. Sand isn't a boring material if you know what you are looking at! (Geology.com - sand grains from around the world) Hawai'i alone has at least , black, green and whitish sand, while Business Insider lists pink, red, orange, violet, black, grey and white sands found around the world. But if you're storing bottles of sand at home, don't confuse them with your different colored salts (Wide Open Eats) and peppercorns (Food Republic).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:45 AM - 25 comments


Evan Dahm published the thousandth page of his fantasy comic Vattu yesterday. Set in the same variegated world as Rice Boy and Order of Tales, Vattu is about a girl from a nomadic culture and her reckoning with an empire: how, and whether, she can live within it, escape it, fight it, reform it, or survive it. [more inside]
posted by Iridic at 8:13 AM - 6 comments

What's The Matter With Kansas, Tech And Education Edition

With school budgets stripped thanks to mismanagement at the state level and test scores dropping, Kansas schools saw an online education system by Summit Learning as a potential way forward, allowing students to learn at their own pace while not needing as much support as traditional models. But soon after implementing the Summit system - developed by Facebook engineers and backed with Facebook money - problems with both the system and the education it was providing cropped up, and soon lead to a grassroots revolt against the system, with students and parents rejecting Summit. (SLNew York Times)
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:56 AM - 50 comments

“I was reviewing a novel. Then I found myself in it.”

Who Owns a Story? is an essay by Katy Waldman in The New Yorker about the experience of reviewing a book, Trinity by Louisa Hall, and finding that an essay she wrote about her anorexia and family [previously] has been mined by the author.
posted by Kattullus at 12:09 AM - 34 comments

April 21

Explosions at Sri Lanka Churches and Hotels Claim 290, Injure 450+

Eight explosions, some the result of suicide bombers, hit Colombo, Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, including three churches and four hotels, killing 290 and injuring 450, a count which included at least 35 foreigners, including Americans, British, Portuguese, and Chinese. [more inside]
posted by WCityMike at 9:23 PM - 58 comments

The Hotshots of Helltown

The November 2018 Camp Fire in northern California destroyed the town of Paradise and would have consumed the nearby, ironically named Helltown except for a few brave homeowners who went to heroic lenghts to protect a one mile stretch of road as the fire crept in from all sides. This is the story of the hotshots of Helltown.
posted by vrakatar at 6:07 PM - 12 comments

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