Iridescence seems like a straightforward tradeoff: Make yourself more attractive to potential mates, while putting yourself at greater risk of predation because you're more visible. It turns out, though, that iridescence can act as camouflage. Fake beetles with solid colours suffered more predation from birds than iridescent fake beetles, and humans found 80% of the solid-coloured beetles but only 17% of the iridescent beetles. Paper. [more inside]
Rise of the Blur: A specter is haunting photojournalism -- an actual, visible specter (N+1): "But these blurs in your newsfeed are purposeful, perhaps even artful. They are being chosen, with notable regularity, by photo editors to illustrate our most serious political stories. Why?"
After the Republican Party canceled their Nevada Caucuses to prevent any challenge to President Donald Trump, today's 2020 Democratic Presidential Caucus is the only contest. [more inside]
Previously on the Fumble Dimension, Jon Bois and Kofie Yeboah introduced a golf game with a course designer that could be charitably described as "broken", and asked fans to design the Worst Course Ever.
This time, Jon and Kofie play that course. (SLYT) [more inside]
This time, Jon and Kofie play that course. (SLYT) [more inside]
A century ago, we swaddled infants in basic gowns. Why is that so hard now? How we ended up in a culture so obsessed with the gender identity of infants turns out to be a complicated, century-long tale involving everything from Sigmund Freud to 1980s advances in medical technology.
To spend any amount of time with [Sophie] Lewis is to feel that the world she imagines is nearby. Whether we realize it or not, many of us are already familiar with her arguments for abolishing the family. When we talk about the prevalence of domestic violence and child abuse—when some of us find ourselves inside family units that perpetrate these crimes—we acknowledge that, in horror movie parlance, the violence is coming from inside the family. [more inside]
Study: A year is too short for a U.S. worker to earn middle-class life - "The widening gulf... between what American life costs and what American jobs pay is a central fact of American political economy that the public appears to have understood long before economists." [The New Midlife Crisis] [more inside]
“None of these tasks—and the performance of the bees—is a formal indicator of consciousness. In fact, nothing is,” Chittka said at his presentation at the recent annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Austin, Tex. “But all of these taken together, I think, nudge the probabilities in the right direction.”
The best $500 I ever spent: My autism diagnosis: “While many of the nonautistic people I talked to in those years seemed to assume that autism was at risk of being over-diagnosed, I was more worried about who was still being left behind. I wasn’t seeing rich people buying autism labels for their kids or people pretending to be autistic for fun. I was seeing the same lack of awareness that failed me decades ago still failing other autistic people — especially autistic people of color.” [cw: suicidal ideation] [more inside]
Jared Nelsen describes what it's like interviewing for software engineering jobs in 2020 as an experienced hire. After the article hit number 1 on Hacker News, he wrote a follow-up.
Based on worldwide reader submissions, the Tumblr blog Shifty Thrifting has been collecting ridiculous secondhand items since May 2013. The admins have their fave categories of thrift store finds. But maybe you prefer housewares and home decor, like this pair of unusual lamps? Or tshirt designs? How about a rainbow-pooping panda? Or slogans, whether mysterious or over-the-top?
This post was inspired by several comments by Your Childhood Pet Rock, in Marketing His Way to Monopoly, on Michael Bloomberg’s run for the U.S. Democratic presidential nomination. [more inside]
Artificial intelligence yields new antibiotic (MIT): Using a machine-learning algorithm, MIT researchers have identified a powerful new antibiotic compound. In laboratory tests, the drug killed many of the world's most problematic disease-causing bacteria, including some strains that are resistant to all known antibiotics. It also cleared infections in two different mouse models. [more inside]
"Fish and chips are the undisputed National dish of Great Britain," declare the National Federation of Fish Friers (The NFFF), who briefly mention the Jewish immigrants who brought fried white fish to England. Atlas Obsucra's Gastro Obscura documents that history of Jews fleeing persecution in Spain, with a brief retelling of the longer podcast from Simon Majumdar. Curious Rambler credits Belgian housewives with the invention of chips, while Wikipedia has a global array of styles and possible sources for chips (previously). Happy Fish Fry Friday!
The Gray Area of Casting For Characters of Color in Games [The Verge] “People of color are more visible in games today than ever before. We’re even seeing many taking center stage, such as Bayek in Assassin’s Creed Origins, Alex Hunter in FIFA 17’s single-player campaign “The Journey,” and Kait Diaz in Gears 5, not to mention the rosters of Overwatch and Apex Legends. Yet even if that appears to be progress for people of color, it’s not always the case behind the scenes. Making a woman the face of the macho Gears series may be a bold move, but if you go by her last name, Kait is also a Hispanic woman being played by a white actor, Laura Bailey. [...] Whitewashing is prevalent in all other kinds of media, too, but it’s more ambiguous in games. Rather than facing censure, many of the above performances have even been rewarded with nods from BAFTA and The Game Awards. That gray area precedes games to the animation industry, where actors frequently voice other genders and races, some even done by the same person. In these circumstances, the vocal performance ultimately matters far more than the person’s background.” [more inside]
Le Cinéma Club is a uniquely curated streaming platform screening one film every week, for free. [more inside]
On the Saturday before Lent, the tiny Swiss village of Helvetia, West Virginia celebrates Fasnacht. [more inside]
Alexis Pereira is not an English teacher. That is important to know up front. But he did pretend to be one on Twitter, for a single joke tweet, which blew up. Pereira reflects back on the brief time between his posting the joke and the Twitterverse moving on to its next war.
An essay about living in the "drive through country" of Montgomery County, Maryland.
A battle of words! Two foes contend, and with the support of a late arrival a clear victor emerges. [more inside]
'It looks like judgment day': inside Syria's final battle (FT) - "Trapped between a closed border and advancing forces, opponents of the Assad regime face a humanitarian crisis." [more inside]
If you want to summarize the changes in family structure over the past century, the truest thing to say is this: We’ve made life freer for individuals and more unstable for families. We’ve made life better for adults but worse for children. We’ve moved from big, interconnected, and extended families, which helped protect the most vulnerable people in society from the shocks of life, to smaller, detached nuclear families (a married couple and their children), which give the most privileged people in society room to maximize their talents and expand their options. The shift from bigger and interconnected extended families to smaller and detached nuclear families ultimately led to a familial system that liberates the rich and ravages the working-class and the poor. The family structure we’ve held up as the cultural ideal for the past half century has been a catastrophe for many. It’s time to figure out better ways to live together. [more inside]
The debate over subtitles, explained
In January, Parasite director Bong Joon-ho planted his flag in the subtitle camp, stating during his Golden Globes acceptance speech (for Best Foreign Language Film) that “once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” After Parasite’s Oscar win, it seemed that fans of foreign films had punched a sizable hole through that wall.
With all of the issues we've seen with the internet these days - abuse, disinformation, doxxing, and so on - many people have been arguing that the early pioneers of the internet miscalculated and set the stage for what has been happening. In a longform piece for Slate, Wikimedia Foundation and former EFF counsel Mike Godwin argues that while there have been missteps, their position is still sound. (SLSlate)
Techie @sailorhg (sailor mercury), who likes to put the 🌸 soft in software 🌸, has made a name for herself writing approachable tech zines and making tech femme clothing and stickers. Last year, she converted her transit cards into wearable jewelry. This year, she's been building her own fruit-themed computers, like the Strawberry Pi and Blueberry Pi. [more inside]
You should just never do that, because we can all see you and feel a bit defiled by what we are witnessing, but even if you don’t care about how creepy you seem, you should still never, ever, ever do it, because as well as being bizarrely aggressive and somewhat frightening, it is undignified, and the margin of error here simply does not allow for it. Know that for the rest of your days you are going to feel hotly embarrassed about this thing you are doing now on the plane. Have some respect for your future self, and do not do it.
It’s no substitute for shifting to clean electricity. To stay in line with the targets laid out in the Paris climate agreement, the US needs to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, known as “deep decarbonization.” Virtually every credible study on deep decarbonization agrees on the basics of a strategy to get there...This strategy — for which I use the shorthand “electrify everything!” — is beginning to catch on, especially in California, which is always something of a preview of broader trends to come. In a relatively short span of time, a robust “all-electric movement” has emerged, as dozens of towns and cities take steps to encourage all-electric construction in new buildings...Natural gas utilities do not like this movement one bit. The more all-electric buildings there are, the fewer natural gas ratepayers there are. An all-electric future inevitably involves the obsolescence, or at least the substantial diminution, of natural gas utilities. Naturally, they are fighting back furiously, with astroturf groups, PR campaigns, and lobbying at the local level.
The Tampon Wars: the battle to overthrow the Tampax empire. Tampax, the Proctor & Gamble owned menstruation product, dominates the feminine hygiene market. But a wave of disruptors have come to destroy them. [Guardian Longread] [more inside]
"One thing we often do with narratives of sexual assault is sort their respective parties into different temporalities: it seems we are interested in perpetrators’ futures and victims’ pasts. One result is that we don’t have much of a vocabulary for what happens in a victim’s life after the painful past has been excavated, even when our shared language gestures toward the future, as the term “survivor” does. What I have found myself hungering for, in short, is literature that stretches past legal testimonies and sentimental appeals toward what, for lack of a better phrase, I’m calling post-traumatic futurity. What is the situation of survivors who saw the injury proven and exposed—and maybe even punished—and saw, also, that nothing much changed? I am curious about their vision of things. I want to know how they think things should be." Lili Loofbourow writes for the New York Review of Books on fiction, non-fiction and sexual assault. [more inside]
Was Leonardo DiCaprio Actually a Star Before Titanic? An intra-Slate Gen X debate.
The Bleak Humor of Tehran’s One and Only Standup Comic (New York Review of Books): "His monologue grew only more morbid from there, delving into what he described as his loveless, meaningless existence and his hatred for the macho behavior he saw in the world all around him. Yet there was something wonderfully endearing about his exaggerated melancholy, which often veered into unrepeatably obscene riffs. It was all so clearly at his own expense, and delivered so brazenly, that it had the crowd laughing along with him. “You’re thinking I’m a typical comedian who is sad on the inside and wants to make you happy,” he said. “Well, no, I’m sad, and I want to make you sad, too.” And everyone laughed. ¶ I realized that I had been expecting certain clichés to be fulfilled: that this would be another example of the Middle Eastern comic using satire to fight back against political repression—an evergreen topic for a Western correspondent. Instead, this was an awkward, abrasive, deliberately transgressive set, at times closer to performance art than comedy…"
Sputnik (fka The Voice of Russia and RIA Novosti) is a news agency established by the Russian government-owned news agency Rossiya Segodnya (Wikipedia), with Radio Sputnik operating in 30 languages, covering over 130 cities and 34 countries. In the U.S., Radio Sputnik operates around Washington, D.C., and now leases airtime in Kansas City (Inside Radio). When commuters spin the radio dial as they drive through Kansas City, Missouri, these days, between the strains of classic rock and country hits they can tune in to something unexpected: Russian agitprop (NY Times; Chicago Tribune mirror). My Life at a Russian Propaganda Network: I thought they’d let me be a real journalist at Sputnik news. I was wrong. (Andrew Feinberg for Politico, 2017) [more inside]
From Dr. Sarah Taber (previously on the blue): come for the hickory milk recipe, stay for the description of how John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, co-opted Native American agricultural practices that far pre-dated his supposed seed-sowing. [twitter]
Hard Sell: GameStop employees report extreme pressure from ‘desperate’ bosses [Polygon] “In more than a dozen interviews with Polygon, current and former GameStop employees spoke of a tightening regime of strict sales targets and intrusive customer scripts, designed to extract as much value as possible from the company’s dwindling base. All the employees we spoke to said they were concerned about the future of the company. Most reported their customer numbers had decreased noticeably in the last year. “I’ve seen a change in the sheer desperation the company has towards its profit margins,” said one store manager with multiple years’ experience at the company. “The company is frantic and distrustful,” said one assistant manager. “You can feel it in every message they send. The structure is falling apart and they’re scrambling.” “I think they’ll close a thousand stores this year,” said one former store manager with many years’ retail experience.” [more inside]
At 7:32am on Feb 6th 2020 I walked out of my flat in London with the sole intention of getting lost and going on a really big walk across the UK with no specific direction or purpose or ending…
When your stuffed teddy bear moo's when you take it out to play..... you know you've gone too far. [more inside]
HOW BIG IS A BILLION? "1,000,000,000" doesn't cut it. A billion is far too large to understand by merely seeing a one followed by 9 zeroes. It is 1,000 millions. The interest on $1,000,000,000 accrues $1,370/day. It would require 4,000 bank accounts to safely store $1,000,000,000. But the best way to understand the size of a billion is to do what we do best... Scroll! Each 1 pixel thick line represents 100. [more inside]
A scrollable photo montage from the ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) Story Lab, based largely on satellite imagery, documents this summer's fire season from its unprecedented early start in September.
Me: Got any homework?
Me: Whatcha gonna do?
Anna: Have a map I’m working on.
Just found this on her desk.
Me: Got any homework?
Me: Whatcha gonna do?
Anna: Have a map I’m working on.
Just found this on her desk.
Through His Eyes: It’s because of Charles A. Libby that we know what early Spokane looked like is a 2013 article about this extraordinary commercial photographer who's career spanned 7 decades and his negatives and their corresponding catalog books (photos for sale, after all) are all now housed at the Northwest Museum Of Arts And Culture (2015 article with many photo examples), and can (I believe now) all be seen online. Here's a very early (1903) photo from the online collection and here is one from 1966 taken along the same street. [more inside]
I can forgive Americans for being clueless. I can forgive them their ignorance about this big, cold, confusing place just to the north of them. And that’s why I want to clear something up, once and for all, so I can put your minds at rest and save us all a lot of time and energy. Here it is: Canada is fake.