November 2021 Archives

November 30

First they came for our news, then our homes, now our pets

There are many reasons life is unaffordable for many Americans. Stagnant wages and the high costs of housing and healthcare have been well covered by the media. What there’s been less writing about is how private equity has impacted the houses we live in, the news we read and even how we care for our pets. Mass changes in ownership overtaking entire economic sectors raise important questions for Americans: Should we be pressuring our politicians to create policy that ensures whole industries don't get eaten up by the investor class? If so, at what point should we intervene? [more inside]
posted by Violet Blue at 10:23 PM PST - 55 comments

The Yamaha DX7 synthesizer's clever exponential circuit, reverse-enginee

The Yamaha DX7 synthesizer's clever exponential circuit, reverse-engineered [Ken Shirriff's blog] "The Yamaha DX7 digital synthesizer was released in 1983 and became extremely popular, defining the sound of 1980s pop music. [technical chip information] In this blog post, I examine this circuit—implemented by a ROM, shifter, and other circuitry—in detail and extract the ROM's data." [more inside]
posted by hippybear at 8:25 PM PST - 30 comments

What Whale Barnacles Know

In the grand scheme of things, Michael Moore regrets losing his sense of smell decades ago as the result of chemical exposure in veterinary school. It may have spared him some discomfort, though, on the day in September 2010 when he arrived on a beach in Massachusetts to examine the colossal decaying carcass of a washed-up humpback whale... He did see one sign of life, however: clusters of freeloading whale barnacles, embedded in the whale’s skin like calcium carbonate body piercings. Their shells clicked softly as they extended their feathery back legs, sweeping the air for plankton that were no longer floating by. For generations, these hitchhikers have been recording details about their hosts and their ocean home. (SLHakai)
posted by ShooBoo at 7:48 PM PST - 8 comments

Welcome to the pyrocene

In Ten Million a Year, David Wallace-Wells (previously 1, 2, 3), writing in the London Review of Books, helps us comprehend the incomprehensible brutality of air pollution.
posted by rossmeissl at 5:36 PM PST - 10 comments

They're all Mormon...

and so is every influencer you’ve loved in the past decade.
posted by clawsoon at 1:47 PM PST - 74 comments

“I’m much too busy to die”.

Dancer, singer … spy: France’s Panthéon honours Josephine Baker as the first Black woman inducted into the Paris mausoleum for revered figures.
You know, friends, that I do not lie to you when I tell you I have walked into the palaces of kings and queens and into the houses of presidents. And much more. But I could not walk into a hotel in America and get a cup of coffee, and that made me mad.

A life of resistance [more inside]
posted by adamvasco at 11:18 AM PST - 14 comments

Gay Men Earn Degrees at Highest Rate, Study Finds

Roughly 52 percent of gay men in the U.S. have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 36 percent of all adults. Mittleman said that gay men of every racial and ethnic group outperformed their straight male counterparts. “I think it’s especially striking within the Asian American population, given the fact that they generally have the highest levels of degree attainment in America,” Mittleman said. “Even within that already high-achieving population, gay men earn more college degrees than straight men.”
posted by folklore724 at 10:36 AM PST - 22 comments

"A book can offer a brief, irreplaceable moment of calm"

The American Prison System's War on Reading
posted by box at 10:28 AM PST - 23 comments

Rainbow in curved ocean

Where would you get to if you went in a straight line from any coastal point on earth? Now you can find out. Cartographer Andy Woodruff has created a simple web page that lets you click on a coastline and see where the straight line path from there ends up (Spoiler: It's quite often Australia). [more inside]
posted by YoungStencil at 10:12 AM PST - 13 comments

"the distance between reader and character or narrator"

Using "second person" (using "you" for the point-of-view character) in English-language speculative fiction is often discouraged. "Why Writing Second Person POV Appeals To Marginalized Writers" by Valerie Valdes notes: "We often have to code-switch to engage with others, so it can feel more natural for us to accept and inhabit different selves without fear of losing the core of who we are." "thoughts on second person." by Arkady Martine suggests: "there are actually three kinds [of second person]... audience-oriented, coercive, and transparent." [more inside]
posted by brainwane at 7:31 AM PST - 22 comments

November 29

Our warm-blooded natures

It's time to fear the fungi - "Scientists assumed that the spread was due to human travel, but when they sequenced the cases, they were surprised to find that these strains weren't closely related at all. Instead, scientists were seeing multiple, independent infections of an unknown fungal disease, emerging around the world, all at the same time. About a third of people infected with Candida auris die from the infection within 30 days, and there have now been thousands of cases in 47 countries. Some scientists think this sudden boom in global cases is a harbinger of things to come."[1,2,3,4]
posted by kliuless at 10:56 PM PST - 30 comments

Even the popular polio shot had its haters

As [polio] outbreaks moved from city to city, swimming pools and movie theaters closed, and parents safeguarded children at home. Salk’s announcement marked the start of the largest medical experiment ever conducted at the time, a placebo-controlled study of 1.8 million children in 44 states, carried out in 1954, that would pave the way for the near eradication of the disease.

Duon H. Miller, the cantankerous owner of a cosmetics company in Florida, was having none of it.
posted by ShooBoo at 7:00 PM PST - 32 comments

U Can Beat Video Games

As the host of the YouTube channel U Can Beat Video Games will tell you, the NES is known for having dozens of games with a difficulty level way above what current-day players are used to. But what if he told you about strategies and tactics to get you through the worst the system has to offer? And demonstrated how to perform them, playing through the whole game in the process? But... is he really just a golden retriever? [more inside]
posted by JHarris at 6:56 PM PST - 23 comments

What do YOU need today?

Ann and Jeff VanderMeer have been working on a re-wilding project at their home for about three years now. Jeff regularly posts videos from his trail cam(s) to Twitter. Yesterday he posted a video of a young raccoon playing with a toy ball. The hashtag #vanderwild has more.
posted by curious nu at 6:33 PM PST - 7 comments

Gift Giving: Despair, Hope, and a Really Lovely Loaf of Bread

"The sense of despair that hangs over the process of choosing a present stems from our background awareness of how hard it will be ever successfully to identify a material object out in the world that could properly quench a sincere need in another adult." How to Choose A Good Present, from The School of Life. [more inside]
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:56 PM PST - 49 comments

nature finds a way

World's first living robots can now reproduce, scientists say. Bongard said they found that the xenobots, which were initially sphere-shaped and made from around 3,000 cells, could replicate. But it happened rarely and only in specific circumstances. The xenobots used "kinetic replication" -- a process that is known to occur at the molecular level but has never been observed before at the scale of whole cells or organisms.
posted by fight or flight at 1:02 PM PST - 54 comments

Do we change or is--have things been--are we in a sort of infinite loop?

Move over Joe Rogan: here's Tim Heidecker's "The Joe Rogan Experience"
Also, it's 12 hours long.
(Or, is it?) [more inside]
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:01 PM PST - 39 comments

It's getting hard to be someone, but it all works out.

Radio Indígena is an Oxnard radio station whose target audience is central California farm workers. It broadcasts news, commentary, and live DJs for 40 hours a week, currently in Spanish and at least nine Mexican languages (Mixtec, Zapotec, and Purépecha). Evenings and weekends feature curated, diverse music playlists. You can listen to it in a web browser, using a phone app, and at 94.1 MHz FM in the Central Valley. Their COVID reporting, in particular, has received some some English language press.
posted by eotvos at 8:59 AM PST - 5 comments

'90s Dad Thrillers: a List

Notes toward a theory of the Dad Thriller by Max Read Substack, via Samantha Irby's Substack.
posted by ellieBOA at 8:49 AM PST - 55 comments

“A bold and brassy trumpet melody?”

"He smacked me the other way and my head naturally followed suit. Right, left, right, left. I might have been a front row spectator at Wimbledon if it weren’t for the balloons of blue and purple swelling across my immaculately sculpted cheekbones. They always go for the cheekbones first, don’t they?" "A Recurring Theme (Song)" by Mei Davis (published this year) is a light-hearted James Bond parody in which secret agent Achilles Lee has an accessory he can't get rid of.
posted by brainwane at 7:28 AM PST - 2 comments

the magic is already there

A lettuce dog, a laundry cow, and other domestic surrealism by the artist Helga Stentzel. [more inside]
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 6:15 AM PST - 8 comments

November 28

Virgil Abloh, Barrier-Breaking Designer, Is Dead at 41

Virgil Abloh, the founder of luxury streetwear brand Off-White and artistic director of men’s wear at Louis Vuitton, has died from cancer at the age of 41 [more inside]
posted by elvissa at 3:20 PM PST - 27 comments

Meet the Liverbirds

With the recent release of Peter Jackson's documentary The Beatles: Get Back, it's a good time to look at one of the other Liverpool bands of the British Invasion era, one of the few all-female Merseybeat groups (and probably the only one that's been the subject of a musical): The Liverbirds, subject of a (fairly) recent short documentary of their own. [more inside]
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:43 PM PST - 13 comments

Omicron

The WHO has declared a new covid-19 variant of concern 'omicron'. Countries around the world are imposing stricter measures and travel bans even as the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Africa on Sunday urged countries to follow the science rather than imposing flight bans. Omicron contains many mutations that would appear to weaken the effectiveness of existing vaccines but many uncertainties exist as scientists and vaccine manufacturers scramble to learn more. The discovery of the new variant in South Africa raises concerns about global vaccine inequity.
posted by roolya_boolya at 12:29 PM PST - 247 comments

Sylvia Weinstock, the ‘da Vinci of Wedding Cakes,’ Dies at 91

Sylvia Weinstock, who took the art of baking to new heights with her 10-foot-tall wedding cakes and their garlands of hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of hand-painted sugar flowers, died on Nov. 22 at her home in Manhattan. She was 91. non-paywall. [more inside]
posted by Toddles at 12:29 PM PST - 9 comments

Divorced, beheaded, live!

SIX is a musical about Henry VIII's wives in a singing contest. Sometimes disparaged as "The British Hamilton", the production's iconic costumes and energetic sounds have nevertheless captured the imaginations of a slew of talented animators. We set the stage with Ex-Wives by oliviamarlyce. [more inside]
posted by Lorc at 11:17 AM PST - 21 comments

BAR-7-N-Grapes-Orange

Many slot machines on Native American reservations actually, and somewhat surreptitiously, play Bingo! Why? - What are "Class II" machines? - Some of its consequences. - Is it fair? [more inside]
posted by JHarris at 9:18 AM PST - 4 comments

Those who exist, have existed, or will exist in the vicinity of Omelas

"That child is going to feel the same either way. We might as well do our part to get the tourist industry back on its knees....You want to go to Mendocino. You think no one ever suffered in Mendocino?" John Holbo's "The Ones Who Take The Train To Omelas" is a parody of a short story by Ursula K. Le Guin (and of another scifi classic), and comes with mocked-up old-school travel posters plus the essay "Thought-Experiments and Trains of Thought". (Via Crooked Timber.) Jed Hartman (disclaimer: a pal) has compiled a list of links to short stories responding to the Le Guin story, including stories by N. K. Jemisin and P.H. Lee.
posted by brainwane at 7:26 AM PST - 33 comments

The past is a foreign country

The Technological Parentheses of Our Lives - "There are a lot of potential parentheses to speculate about, from the end of fossil fuels or eating meat as a society, to the end of screens due to augmented reality..." [more inside]
posted by kliuless at 7:11 AM PST - 50 comments

Losing My Mind: A Sondheim Disco Fever Dream

Stephen Sondheim left us with many things from his many musicals, but surely disco is not something you'd think of. But no! Losing My Mind: A Sondheim Disco Fever Dream [YouTube playlist, 45m] is a mashup/reimagining of the Sondheim oeuvre into something entirely unexpected, joyous, and fun. Playbill breaks it all down for you, track by track. I think the only shows not represented are The Frogs and Road Show. Putting It Together podcast interviews the creators. [40m] Purchase and streaming links! [more inside]
posted by hippybear at 5:20 AM PST - 13 comments

November 27

Perchance to Dream

Sleep - so essential for body and mind, and yet sometimes so elusive. Can’t sleep after too much revenge bedtime procrastination? No need to stress. Grab your favorite teddy bear, and snuggle in. [more inside]
posted by ReginaHart at 8:02 PM PST - 21 comments

Film shows McD's trained new staff in proper use of Vulcan death pinch

[via the timesink r/ObscureMedia]
In 1969, MickeyDee's hired Pat Paulsen to present their new-staff orientation film. How this happened, we may never know. It's a combo of dated, prescient, and timeless. It's sardonic, dry, and self-deprecating, yet sincere in its effort. It's both entertaining and informative. It's approximately seventeen minutes long, yet it feels like it's no more than fifteen or sixteen minutes. [Whoop, that means my break's over g2g]
posted by not_on_display at 2:56 PM PST - 39 comments

ARCANE

Forbes - ‘Arcane’ Is Still Putting Up Review Scores Like Netflix Has Never Seen Before. Arcane has a 9.4 rating on IMDB, which not only makes it Netflix’s top original series by a wide margin, but puts it in the same lifetime tier of shows like Breaking Bad, The Wire, Band of Brothers, Chernobyl and beloved animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. [more inside]
posted by xdvesper at 2:34 PM PST - 93 comments

The men who want to be king

Travellers to tiny islands in Vanuatu claim to fulfil a local belief that a mysterious figure from afar will one day bring prosperity. What are they hoping for? (SLGuardian)
posted by ShooBoo at 8:09 AM PST - 11 comments

loneliness, crows, prophecy, lost things, and courage

What if there's an ache you've been denying, and you've gone solitary to see to your own quiet needs, and someone tries to pull you back into the world? “The End of the World in Five Dates” by Claire Humphrey (previously) is a short fantasy story told in vignettes (text and audio available): “Happy Rapture,” she said, and kissed my cheek, although we had never met before. "Tell the Crows I’m Home" by Laurel Beckley, published this year and available in audio as well, is an atmospheric fantasy story: Nicole finds them all, save for the crows, who do not appear to be bound to the rules of the farm, and come and go as they please. Like Nicole, a crow is never lost. She used to have quite a few human visitors, back when the world was only half broken.
posted by brainwane at 7:25 AM PST - 2 comments

The millennian do not ever want to be taught anything.

Ridley Scott Blames Millennials for ‘The Last Duel’ Box Office Failure (archive). A small snorter of generational discourse for your weekend.
posted by snerson at 4:59 AM PST - 185 comments

Wise Guys/Gold!/Bounce/Road Show

Stephen Sondheim was struggling with his newest show. Working with John Weidman to adapt another story from American History, the show went through three (or four) iterations across a decade before failing to open on Broadway. These separate and distinct shows all telling the same story began with the workshop production of Wise Guys in 1999. Here are Nathan Lane and Victor Garber (and a lot of tape hiss), directed by Sam Mendes in a "cast recording" of the show. [YouTube playlist, CastAlbums brings you a listing of this recording with actual song titles.] [more inside]
posted by hippybear at 2:32 AM PST - 9 comments

November 26

"Your Average Pool Player" seems much better than average

Watch Rollie Williams — who you may recognize from the Climate Town series — attempt to re-create incredible shots played in professional pool championships, but with the skill level of an ostensibly average player. Here is a ridiculous jump shot and a swerve shot to get you started. [more inside]
posted by nickheer at 10:46 PM PST - 11 comments

at the world you've left / and the things you know

Stephen Sondheim, Broadway composer, artist and lyricist, has died aged 91.
posted by fight or flight at 2:11 PM PST - 159 comments

Keep on building that chicken

Carol Off of CBC's "As It Happens" interviews Jim Puckett , the mayor of Fitzgerald, Georgia, who stands by a "giant topiary chicken that got him ousted as mayor." Roadside America: World's Largest Chicken Under Construction, and an earlier NPR interview with Puckett [both interviews are available as audio or an edited transcript]. Fitzgerald is home to a population of wild chickens. [more inside]
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:33 PM PST - 25 comments

Let’s talk about Chess

The 2021 FIDE World Chess Championship has started in Dubai. Magnus Carlsen defends his title against challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi in a 14 game match between November 26th- December 16th. You can watch the games daily on a number of chess focused Twitch channels linked below. Games start at 4:30pm in Dubai/ 12:30pm London / 7:30am New York. Games typically last 6 hours. [more inside]
posted by interogative mood at 8:11 AM PST - 89 comments

"I can help." "Maybe he expects that."

"Everybody knows about Thrull. Thrull like legend among us folk—biggest, greenest, meanest, nastiest, and dirtiest of all—with one big difference: legends false, Thrull true." "Big Thrull and the Askin’ Man" by Max Gladstone is a short fantasy story, told as a tall tale or fairy tale, in which a straightforward host learns to respond to manipulative questions from a seemingly weak guest.
posted by brainwane at 7:21 AM PST - 7 comments

Who Could Ask for Anything More?

It's So Easy This is a 1987 commercial for the Toyota Tercel. [more inside]
posted by box at 6:45 AM PST - 59 comments

November 25

Angus Taylor's Gas-Light Recovery

Sick of worrying about Joe Manchin's coal-fired lock on the US Senate? Come to Australia! We have a Federal Government made entirely of fossil fuel industry toadies. Angus Taylor, our Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, has long been a particularly toady (Sky News YouTube, 11m34s) toadie. Polly Hemming and Richard Denniss dissect his latest talk-back disinformation blast (YouTube, 29m02s) in the newest episode of the Australia Institute's Spin Bin (previously on MeFi).
posted by flabdablet at 10:01 PM PST - 24 comments

The idea that is "America"

Today, on Thanksgiving, also known as the National Day of Mourning, we learn that Ian Fishback, Army officer and whistleblower against detainee abuse, dies at 42. His letter to Senator McCain. Remembered by a former student. I do not think anyone will nominate him for a medal, but I do. RIP Major Fishback.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 9:33 AM PST - 44 comments

"At work I am composed and civil and do not break anything"

Two short speculative stories about coping and related struggles. "Dragons" by Teresa Milbrodt (published this year) has a hard-to-quit video game: “I've thought about getting glasses,” the dragon said as we sat on rocks with mugs in our hands and the tin of butter cookies on another rock between us. The dragon even had cloth napkins, which hid the gaping wound in my abdomen. “How to Remember to Forget to Remember the Old War” by R.B. Lemberg (content note for self-harm): "I am luckier than most. Numbers come easy to me, and I look grave and presentable in my heavy jackets that are not armor." The Lemberg story is also available in audio.
posted by brainwane at 7:20 AM PST - 4 comments

Gonna Get a Fly Girl, Get Some Spank and Drive Off in a Def OJ

The Oral History of the OJ Car Service
posted by chavenet at 6:58 AM PST - 4 comments

November 24

Gray wolf, OR93, dead in California

A gray wolf whose “epic” travels captured headlines and imaginations earlier this year was killed in California after being struck by a vehicle this month Rest in peace, brother. Let's hope you're not the last to make the journey.
posted by Man with Lantern at 6:24 PM PST - 24 comments

Giving you back the good times...

Two Tribes was an apparently upbeat celebration of global nuclear war by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Appearing on the album Welcome to the Pleasuredome, it reached #1 in 7 countries, staying there for 9 weeks in the UK. The Godley and Creme directed video [alternative] featured caricatures of Ronald Reagan and Konstantin Chernenko having a fight. There were a billionty mixes, remixes and 12 inch versions; weekly performances on Top of the Pops were often unpredictable. In the same year, the movie Threads [clip][full length on vimeo] was released. In 2012, Trevor Horn, Stephen Lipson, Lol Créme, and Ash Soan played a gentle version. Previously: [2007][2009][2012]
posted by Wordshore at 1:29 PM PST - 62 comments

Albatross vs. Albatross

Climate change causing albatross divorce according to a new study, as reported by Manish Pandey for BBC News. [more inside]
posted by misteraitch at 1:24 PM PST - 7 comments

a fluegelhorn is probably not a fluegelhorn, and vice versa

Hey, why not read up on brass history with Greg, on Greg's Brass History Page.
posted by cortex at 10:09 AM PST - 15 comments

"My best friend is a dolphin and sometimes it’s weird."

"In your first conversations with them, you’ll probably want to refer to all you’ve learned in the past year’s intensive study of dolphin history, culture, and ritual. Maybe you want to put them at ease, or maybe you kind of want to show off. I’m telling you not to do that, because you know nothing." The science fiction short story "Share Your Flavor" by Jenifer K. Leigh has a fun friendship between a human and a dolphin who commiserate about their relationship issues. [more inside]
posted by brainwane at 7:18 AM PST - 6 comments

Something May Be Wrong With Literary Fiction Itself

To be clear: I’m not saying MFAs made all novels terrible or that all contemporary writing sucks. A writer isn’t deterministically destined to produce defensive prose if they go through the MFA process. Not all writers who’ve sat in a workshop are “workshop writers.” And some academic experiences are amazing, vital and electric, lighting up students’ minds inside like a moveable feast. But those are instances within a collective system. A system that has, in its totality, changed both how prose is written, who gets published, and who the audience for fiction is. from How the MFA swallowed literature by Erik Hoel
posted by chavenet at 6:21 AM PST - 164 comments

An excellent piano lesson

Master teacher, advanced student. There's just tremendous trust and respect. It made me realize that yelling at people is showing a lack of trust that they're listening. (Cue up people explaining that's not the only thing it means.) I'm not saying you can always trust that people are listening. [more inside]
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 12:06 AM PST - 16 comments

November 23

A personal Dewey Decimal system

Johnny•Decimal helps organize your (digital) life. Thousands of emails. Hundreds of files. File structures created on a whim and six layers deep. Duplicated content, lost content. We thought search would save us from this nightmare, but we were wrong. It's simple in practice, but takes some thought to build the right structure for yourself. And that's the beauty of it - the structure is what best suits you and how you naturally group things.
posted by jpeacock at 2:56 PM PST - 91 comments

the friends you make online

These online relationships are often just as meaningful and rich and strange as my “real-life” friendships, but they’re more difficult to define. Maybe we’re still a little embarrassed? Or maybe we just need to stop waiting for definitions and do the work ourselves. I care too much about my online friends to just coast along in relationship limbo. This is an ode to digital friendships, a taxonomy of connections and disconnections.
posted by sciatrix at 1:53 PM PST - 32 comments

Gorgeous, Profound, Borderless In Possibility

Hayao Miyazaki Prepares to Cast One Last Spell “'When you meet something that is very strange that you haven’t met before, instead of being scared of it, try to connect with it,' Miyazaki tells me." Ligaya Mishan's interview with the genius animator for the New York Times is the first in an English-language publication since 2014.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 1:15 PM PST - 32 comments

Curly, obviously.

You probably like some types of fries more than others. The 3D modeling of various fry shapes illuminates why this might be.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 12:59 PM PST - 61 comments

i'm gonna stick around and help until my haunting time is over

This webcomic made it okay to be sad online. Then its artist vanished. The author of ‘Pictures for Sad Children’ went AWOL after a 2014 Kickstarter drama. In an exclusive interview, she explains why she had to unplug from the internet.
posted by meowzilla at 10:27 AM PST - 48 comments

Giants of the 20th Century

Michael Stipe is Present (A November 2021 interview with David Peisner of The Bitter Southerner)
posted by box at 6:23 AM PST - 25 comments

"Sixteen Earth years. Not quite nine, Martian."

Wanna read action-y scifi about girls solving problems by hacking electronics? (Previously.) "Power to the People" by Kiera Lesley is shorter: “Sorry, print took longer than I expected.” Sarah said, fishing in her pockets for her offerings, all in white because that was the only colour filament she had. But "A Thousand Ways" by Beth McCabe takes place on Mars: Riley began moving the rows of panels from angled to vertical, a kluge Liam's team had fixed up to keep the sticky dust from accumulating during a storm. While she worked, her gaze travelled over the landscape of her childhood, littered with the debris of the Consortium's failures.
posted by brainwane at 5:44 AM PST - 4 comments

Santa is gay (at least in Norway)

In 2022 it's been fifty years since you can love who you want in Norway.
When Harry met Santa -- a Christmas commercial from the Norwegian Post Office. (You don't need to speak Norwegian to get the gist.)
posted by MartinWisse at 3:41 AM PST - 26 comments

November 22

Stealing everything the traffic will allow!

Our Favorite Things is an 80 minute collection of videos from the experimental music group Negativland.
posted by eotvos at 8:36 PM PST - 22 comments

Merry Switchmas!

"God is pursuing some sort of grand celestial design to replace all of humanity with Vanessa Hudgens clones one by one." (no paywall link) Yes, friends, The Princess Switch 3 has arrived, and it is fully as bonkers as the first two outings. The only holiday discourse you need this season is Princess Switch discourse and theories about the Netflix Christmas Movie Universe. And yes, there is an RPG.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:17 PM PST - 36 comments

Robert Downey Jr. Brings You Christmas Cheer with Muppets!

Muppet wonders will never cease. I thought I knew or had seen every 90s Muppet show/special. Wrong. In 1995 Robert Downey Jr starred as Mr Willowby in this 30 minute Muppet Musical. He sings and dances! Stockard Channing (with a Swedish accent?) and Leslie Nielsen are in it. Ii ts pretty mild overall, Ive just never heard another person talk about this.
posted by Freecola at 3:22 PM PST - 8 comments

"Written by someone who doesn't care much for plot"

Anjali Joseph (Literary Activism, 11/2021), "Madame Bovary and the Impossibility of Re-reading": "In a way it's not a novel about human characters at all: it's a novel of objects and insects and sunlight and birds, of stains, or habit and repetition. And though the characters in the novel live straitened lives, lives in which there isn't much pleasure or satisfaction, the phenomenal world around them is generous with beauty." Birger Vanwesenbeeck's similarly personal reflections. French text. Notable translation and introduction by Eleanor Marx (entry at Marxists.org) criticized, contextualized / appreciated, and appreciated further.
posted by Wobbuffet at 2:56 PM PST - 10 comments

Memes for inmates

"After experiencing it for myself, it seems absurd that this fundamental strangeness of Facebook isn’t a regular topic of conversation." Kaitlyn Tiffany makes the world's blandest Facebook profile to see what's going on over there. (unpaywalled version)
posted by theodolite at 2:51 PM PST - 40 comments

Writing While Disabled

Strange Horizons presents a conversation between Mary Robinette Kowal and Kristy Anne Cox “In hindsight, they are things that I have dealt with my entire life and have affected my ability to move through the world, because the world is not built for people whose brains are wired the way my brain is wired. But because, for decades, I didn't know that my brain was wired differently, I have come up with so many work-arounds that I just didn't realize it was a disability. And with ADHD in particular, I tend to push back against that very much. I'm like, you know, this is the way my brain is wired, and it's very useful in a lot of different ways. The parts of it that are a disability are parts where the world and the definition of normal have been rigidly defined based on a brain model that is not my brain model. But my brain model is not broken.” This is part 2 of WWD - first installment is an interview with Nisi Shawl.
posted by bq at 1:48 PM PST - 3 comments

Poet and essayist Robert Bly has died.

"Deep image" Poet & essayist Robert Bly died at home on Sunday. He was 94 years old. He authored numerous poetry collections, essays, and works of non-fiction. An outspoken critic of the Vietnam War, Bly won the National Book Award for Poetry in 1968 for his collection The Light Around the Body. His mythopoetic exploration of male identity, Iron John, (1990) brought Bly fame and, occasionally, criticism.
posted by Bob Regular at 12:29 PM PST - 28 comments

Americans seek independence from materialism, society, and their spouses

Where Americans find meaning in life has changed over the past four years "The U.S. stands out as one of only three publics surveyed in 2021 where mentions of society significantly coincide with greater negativity. The other two are Italy and Spain, but in neither of them is the relationship between society and negativity as strong as it is in the U.S."
posted by meowzilla at 9:31 AM PST - 31 comments

New Laws Are Forcing Employers to Share Salary Details With Applicants

Companies would rather exclude *entire states* from employment than list a salary range in a job posting Colorado’s pay transparency law, which has been in effect since January, is perhaps the most expansive and experimental of its kind. The transparency rules apply even to national companies who are hiring remotely. This stipulation initially caused national firms to exclude Colorado residents from their remote job openings earlier this year. For example, a remote listing from Realogy, a publicly-traded real estate firm, read: “This position can be performed anywhere except Colorado.” Dozens of other companies, including Nike, Johnson and Johnson, and IBM, used similar language in their listings after the law took effect.
posted by folklore724 at 9:04 AM PST - 50 comments

Vaccine protests and yellow stars

I’m used to, not to put too fine a point on it, Gentile nonsense about the Holocaust, fetishization and minimization at once, the ways Holocaust deniers at once erase the existence of history and long for it to recur. But I am, despite myself, angry. Yes, it’s the puffery, the self-righteousness of antivaxxers who are straining empathy across the nation to the point where even health-care workers find their reserves sapped. ... But it’s also the specific perversity of this comparison—the comparison of efforts to stop a disease with a genocide in which disease played such a crucial and central role. Talia Bracha Lavin writes on vaccine protests, yellow stars, and an inoculation of historical reality (including Nazi experiments and the brave individuals who tried to fight typhus among the Jews).
posted by Bella Donna at 8:33 AM PST - 39 comments

"How much do you know about lines?"

Kevin Perjurer of Defunctland (previously, also previously, also previously) had planned on doing a simple feature on Disney's now-defunct FastPass virtual queuing system. However, after falling into a rabbit hole of research, he instead produced a feature length documentary on queuing, the theory behind queue management, how that would drive the creation of FastPass - and how FastPass would become a monster out of control.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:56 AM PST - 30 comments

"The obvious target for any attempt at communication is one's peers."

"The Case for Human Intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant" by Slant is a 4-part fanfic responding to "Expert judgment on markers to deter inadvertent human intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant" (the "this place is not a place of honor" report). [more inside]
posted by brainwane at 5:43 AM PST - 21 comments

November 21

The Last Supper

Julie Green (NYT obituary) spent the last two decades working on a monumental art project, The Last Supper, which chronicles the last meals of people about to be executed by the state in the USA. Each installment is a plate painted with an image of the last meal in cobalt blue glaze. She planned to stop the project when the death penalty was outlawed or she finished the thousandth plate, whichever came first. She finished the thousandth plate in September and ended her own life via physician-assisted suicide a few weeks later, on October 12th. Her plates are currently on display at the Bellevue Art Museum in Bellevue, WA.
posted by potrzebie at 10:17 PM PST - 55 comments

China watch

Is China's catch-up growth over? "All things come to an end. Every other spurt of rapid development has eventually slowed to the stately pace of a mature economy. There are basically two reasons this happens. First, as you build more physical capital — more buildings, roads, railways, machine tools, vehicles — the added output of each new piece of capital goes down, while the upkeep costs just keep rising. This is the basis of the famous Solow growth model, and we’ve seen this happen again and again to fast-developing countries. The second reason rapid growth peters out is that it’s easier to copy existing technologies from other countries than to invent new ones yourself." By Noah Smith. [more inside]
posted by russilwvong at 8:12 PM PST - 36 comments

The Faddan More Psalter

In 2006, the remains of an early medieval illuminated manuscript were discovered in a peat bog at Faddan More, Co. Tipperary, Ireland. At YouTube there are short videos about the discovery and conservation of the psalter (psalm-book); and about its significance. For The Guardian, Lisa O'Carroll writes about the manuscript, and the 'terrifying' work led by manuscript conservationist John Gillis, to preserve it.
posted by misteraitch at 1:06 PM PST - 8 comments

Top Two-Player Games and More

At BGG (11/17/2021), W. Eric Martin's "2021 BGG Holiday Gift Guide: Top Two-Player Games" expands on the "2021 BoardGameGeek Holiday Gift Guide" and offers "a quick take on our six suggested games for couples, which range widely in complexity and style of play." Other videos in the series cover Heavy Games, Party Games, and Family Games. If you have difficulty finding these, BGG's advanced search also yields 2021 releases ordered by rank overall, by 'subdomain' (abstract, customizable, family, party, strategy, thematic, and war), and--with small differences--by category (e.g. abstract, wargames, fantasy, science fiction, word games, dexterity games, trivia, 2-player only, etc.). Of related interest: The Dice Tower's 10 recent gift suggestion videos with 12 games per category.
posted by Wobbuffet at 12:07 PM PST - 20 comments

The Unfixable Thing

Talking to Your Kids About Grief Is Painful. And You Have to Do It. "It’s OK, as the adult, to shed tears through these conversations. It can help to spell out that sadness is universal and survivable: “It might seem scary or strange to see me cry. But everyone cries sometimes, and crying can even help us feel better. I promise I won’t cry all day. A cookie and a hug from Papa will help.”" (archive link) [more inside]
posted by storybored at 11:00 AM PST - 33 comments

A Deaf Football Team Takes California by Storm

Underdogs no more. No one is disparaging the Cubs anymore. This season, they are undefeated — the highest-ranked team in their Southern California division. Through 11 games, they have not so much beaten their opponents as flattened them. [more inside]
posted by Toddles at 8:58 AM PST - 5 comments

Asteroid Close Calls

Under the right circumstances, asteroids just 20 meters wide can destroy a city. So far, humans have discovered 266 asteroids with possible diameters of this size that have passed or will pass closer to Earth than the Moon. This chart shows each flyby at its relative distance from Earth.
posted by curious nu at 7:12 AM PST - 51 comments

You Best Bet Marc Cohn's Gonna Sue

Walkin' In Staten: Pete Davidson on SNL raps an ode to Staten Island, a parody of Marc Cohn's 'walking in Memphis'; featuring Big Wet and other surprise guests (SLYT)
posted by fizzix at 5:46 AM PST - 41 comments

"with a red pen, she writes in the margins all the names she can recall"

In a short-story excerpt from his novel The Overstory, Richard Powers describes a scientist, her forestry research, and her vindication: "The Woman Redeemed by Trees". (Suzanne Simard, the real-life inspiration for the fictional character here, got a Ted Lasso shout-out.) For a fantastical tale about a woman battling conventional wisdom, "Makeisha in Time" by Rachael K. Jones (also available in Spanish) travels through time: "Each time she returns from the past, she carries another lifetime nestled within her like the shell of a matryoshka doll."
posted by brainwane at 5:42 AM PST - 7 comments

November 20

Muscle Shoals: Documentary about the studio but mostly the artists

The Muscle Shoals sound encompasses some of the most important and resonant songs of all time. Overcoming crushing poverty and staggering tragedies, Rick Hall brought black and white artists together to create music for the generations. He is responsible for creating the "Muscle Shoals sound" and The Swampers, the house band at FAME Studios that eventually left to start its own successful studio known as Muscle Shoals Sound. Artists who recorded here: The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, George Michael, Wilson Pickett, Willie Nelson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joe Cocker, Levon Helm, Paul Simon, Bob Seger, Rod Stewart, Tamiko Jones, and Cat Stevens. (I was quite surprised to come across this docu and have it not be behind a paywall. I've had other nice surprise finds disappear quickly, which is to say that if you want to watch this free you might want to act fast.)
posted by dancestoblue at 5:46 PM PST - 24 comments

"molded Chocolate Ceremonial Scissors make your event a memorable one!"

If, like me, you saw the little bitey turtle opening the new science lab at the University of Lincoln with its teeny choppers and thought "I'll never be satisfied with those giant ceremonial scissors again..." you might be interested to know that there are actually a wide variety of ceremonial ribbon cutting scissors (including useless chocolate ones), ceremonial groundbreaking shovels, ceremonial apple gavels for no reason I can figure out, and ceremonial.... uh... wedding axes. Maybe you just want to give someone the keys to your city. I don't even think they ask for ID! And you can even get special awards shaped like your state... as long as your state is New Hampshire.
posted by jessamyn at 2:25 PM PST - 35 comments

The Snoop Sisters

Ernesta and Gwendolyn Snoop, two famous mystery writers, one a widow, the other a spinster, turn detective to solve mysterious mysteries. A pilot and four 90 minute episodes were produced for NBC's Wednesday Mystery Movie rotation series between 1972 and 1974, featuring silver screen stars Helen Hayes and Mildred Natwick. [more inside]
posted by Catblack at 12:10 PM PST - 13 comments

A nice sit down

When most people choose a calendar to pin on their wall they would usually go for some cute animals or a famous film star. So Kevin Beresford was surprised when his calendar, celebrating the benches of his hometown, Redditch, became a runaway success. The unique dullness of his subject matter has struck a chord with the British public, and he’s now grappling with hundreds of orders while his flat has turned into a full-time calendar factory. In the Guardian, Jessica Murray covers a surprisingly popular calendar along news about the Dull Club, which publishes its own singular calendar.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:24 AM PST - 25 comments

First conversations between God and the animals

God Creating Animals [more inside]
posted by waving at 10:00 AM PST - 9 comments

Voice Break Choir

A mini documentary on a transitional boys' choir for boy choir members aging out because of puberty in Sweden. From the New Yorker and via Kottke. Wish they had a place like this for all teenagers!
posted by ichimunki at 9:50 AM PST - 4 comments

"If you say Donna Summer, you're in deep trouble."

Oscar Peterson teaches Dick Cavett what other piano players' styles are like. (SLYT) [more inside]
posted by sardonyx at 9:39 AM PST - 22 comments

Regarding the Pain of Others

From the BBC this morning, an hour's meditation on the nature, practice and moral questions regarding war photography: Regarding the Pain of Others [more inside]
posted by y2karl at 7:31 AM PST - 3 comments

#WhereIsPengShuai

Tennis star Peng Shuai has not made a public appearance since she accused Zhang Gaoli, a former Chinese vice premier, of sexual assault, sparking off discussions of #MeToo allegations. While the post was removed within minutes, the attention surrounding her has only grown as her silence has gained international attention. A statement and a few photos posted to social media supposedly by Peng Shuai by an employee of Chinese state media was unconvincing to an international audience. High-profile tennis players such as Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, and Novak Djokovic are calling for proof of her uncoerced safety. In an unprecedented statement, the WTA CEO Steve Simon has publicly declared that he is willing to lose hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business in China if Peng is not fully accounted for and her allegations are not properly investigated. [more inside]
posted by toastyk at 7:20 AM PST - 49 comments

"But then her tiny nostrils flared, and I knew I was dead."

"The Woman With the Long Black Hair" by Zach Shephard -- "The string-dolls and paintings puzzled her. So much reverence . . ." -- and "We Love Deena" by Alice Sola Kim (previously) -- "I don't remember which attempt it was, how many people I had been so far." -- are odd, complicated fantasy stories in which people get the wrong idea about a woman who brings death.
posted by brainwane at 5:40 AM PST - 0 comments - Post a Comment

Kyle Rittenhouse acquitted

Kyle Rittenhouse verdict sends a chilling message to Wisconsin and the rest of the country [Wisconsin State Journal]

Here's what legal experts say helped acquit Kyle Rittenhouse [CNN.com]

The Rittenhouse trial could never have been what Americans wanted [The Atlantic] [more inside]
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:44 AM PST - 210 comments

Stephen Sondheim's Crossword Puzzles

Stephen Sondheim is a master of wordsmithing, and that made him a great candidate to write crossword puzzles [Blog post with links]. But not just any sort of crossword puzzles. [How To Do A Real Crossword Puzzle, NY Mag. Archive link] His cryptic crosswords continue to be a bane to crossword lovers. [more inside]
posted by hippybear at 4:22 AM PST - 12 comments

We Have Always Been At War With Blue

Sacré bleu: French flag changes colour – but no one notices [Grauniad] [more inside]
posted by chavenet at 4:05 AM PST - 16 comments

November 19

I’m Gonna Fly

I have no way of knowing, but I’ve been told that was the last recording Townes ever did. He died a few months later, leaving me with the memory of a timeless moment where, when filtered through the guy that was Townes Van Zandt, I sat there fully understanding how a “heart can only make one sound / like a whippoorwill in the midnight.” Kimmie Rhodes gives us the lowdown on a beautiful song, and what it was like to sing it with a beautiful person.
posted by dancestoblue at 4:47 PM PST - 11 comments

Chuck Sams unanimously confirmed as new Park Service Director

New National Park Service Director Makes History as First Native American to Hold Position (People). "The Senate unanimously confirmed Sams' nomination for NPS director on Thursday, making him the first Senate-confirmed director since the Obama administration." [more inside]
posted by kristi at 3:51 PM PST - 10 comments

Flash Friday: Gamesnacks.com

Gamesnacks.com has over 140 simple games you can play in browser with no ads or crap. I've played most of them. [more inside]
posted by rebent at 10:23 AM PST - 29 comments

Subtle scenery please, easy on post-processing

Natural Landscape Photography Awards 2021 — The competition was focused on awarding images based on composition, lighting, and originality as opposed to post-processing techniques or outlandish compositing: Why?, Winners, Galleries, Rules, Judging.
posted by cenoxo at 9:58 AM PST - 13 comments

Mansaf is both a dish and an idea

For Many Members of the Arab American Diaspora, Mansaf Offers a Taste of Home. [slNYT] We were Arab at home, mostly, and American in public. On weekends, Arabic music and the scents of cumin and sumac spilled through the windows in our otherwise sedate neighborhood in Syracuse, N.Y. Dad’s dinner parties were outsize, like his cooking, everything studded with garlic and bedded in great piles of rice: mujadara, maqluba, stuffed grape leaves and the most important Jordanian dish, mansaf, named for the big platter upon which it’s served. Ours covered the center of the dining room table. My youngest sister could have gone sledding with it. The bigger the mansaf, the more generous the host. [more inside]
posted by Ahmad Khani at 9:39 AM PST - 9 comments

“When It Rains, It Pours”: The History of the Morton Salt Girl

The history of the "When it rains, it pours" slogan and the Morton Salt Girl logo [more inside]
posted by gemmy at 9:14 AM PST - 46 comments

Sometimes you just need to look at some photos of animals

NPR has announced their annual Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Do we anthropomorphize, or are animals just as human as we are? Or are we just as animal as other animals?

The titles of the photos are just as entertaining as the photos themselves.
posted by hydra77 at 9:12 AM PST - 14 comments

the American city has largely been a no-go zone.

Where Did All the Public Bathrooms Go? Writing for Bloomberg CityLab (limited free articles - archive link), Elizabeth Yuko examines the history, social, political, and economic factors that have influenced the waxing and waning of public toilet spaces in the United States and their current rarity today - a lack thrown into sharp relief during a worldwide pandemic. [more inside]
posted by soundguy99 at 7:43 AM PST - 78 comments

"she is lonely, and skeptical of my ability to ease her loneliness"

"Unit Two Does Her Makeup" by Laura Duerr (published this year): "She is smiling, but I see and catalog and evaluate thousands of smiles every day. Hers is tentative." "Maslow's Howitzer" by Miriam Oudin (previously): "I shipped from the factory with several hundred variations of the offer I was about to make." Two fun scifi stories about robots figuring out how to fulfill their needs -- in caring for themselves and for others.
posted by brainwane at 5:39 AM PST - 4 comments

When foreclosing on farmers meant a merit bonus in pay

I think of the desperation that drove farmers to death by suicide and even, in some extreme cases, murder. I think of the empty eyes of the store windows. I think of the historical society in LeMars, where the second floor is a graveyard of pianos from all the small churches closed up, because the farms failed and families moved. It’s easy to see the Middle of America as an empty expanse, instead of what it is: intentionally disemboweled. Lyz Lenz writes about farming, disaster, and a memoir by Sarah Vogel called The Farmer’s Lawyer.
posted by Bella Donna at 5:02 AM PST - 22 comments

November 18

Amazon's Dark Secret: It Has Failed to Protect Your Data

Voyeurs. Sabotaged accounts. Backdoor schemes. For years, the retail giant has handled your information less carefully than it handles your packages.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 9:51 PM PST - 31 comments

I'm pretty sure there's 3 saxophones in one here

Colin Stetson - Adult Swim Festival set 2021 long-form experimental jazz, Colin Stetson does things with brass I wasn't sure could be done by one person. previously
posted by CrystalDave at 9:18 PM PST - 24 comments

How Bad Art Friend Became Twitter’s Favorite Parlor Game

Robert Kolker, who recently wrote about a case involving a friendship torn asunder for The Times Magazine, explains how he approached his reporting and what he thought about the discourse.
posted by folklore724 at 6:50 PM PST - 40 comments

The Billion-Dollar Torrent

All of the images referred to by non-fungible tokens (NFTs) (previously, previously, previously, previously) in the Ethereum and Solana blockchains have been made available in a single 20TB downloadable file. "[T]his handy torrent contains all of the NFT’s so that future generations can study this generation’s tulip mania and collectively go…'WTF? We destroyed our planet for this?!'"
posted by clawsoon at 5:37 PM PST - 172 comments

On "meritocracy."

Turns out, Harvard students aren’t that smart after all. 43% of Harvard’s white students are either recruited athletes, legacy students, on the dean’s interest list (meaning their parents have donated to the school) or children of faculty and staff. The kicker? Roughly three-quarters of these applicants would have been rejected if it weren’t for having rich or Harvard-connected parents or being an athlete. This dynamic is inherently racialized, with almost 70% of all legacy applicants at Harvard being white. A white person’s chances of being admitted increased seven times if they had family who donated to Harvard. Meanwhile, African American, Asian American and Hispanic students make up less than 16% of students who are children of faculty and staff. (SL Grauniad) (archived link)
posted by Lyme Drop at 6:32 AM PST - 161 comments

Mech suits, an aristocrat, talking dinosaurs who race motocross

Two science fiction stories that use over-the-top characters and situations, plus crankiness, to get laughs -- and both available in audio and in text. "Let Us Now Praise Awesome Dinosaurs" by Leonard Richardson (audio, illustrated): "Why would a dinosaur need a gun?" asked the shop owner. "Self-defense." "Texts from the Ghost War" by Alex Yuschik: While I realize driving that mech likely takes all of your limited resources, please take care not to step on the roses. (Audio uses a cool trick to sound right in stereo!) [more inside]
posted by brainwane at 5:22 AM PST - 8 comments

“I don’t think there’s anybody who doesn’t love a beautiful thing”

A Miracle of Abundance as 20,000 Whimbrel Take Refuge on a Tiny Island is an article by Scott Weidensaul about Deveaux Bank, a tiny barrier island in South Carolina that serves as a roosting spot for twenty thousand whimbrels, as they migrate from their South American wintering grounds to the arctic, where they breed. This was discovered by biologist Felicia Sanders, who got help from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to document the whimbrels. The Cornell Lab has made two videos, one introducing the place and the birds in all their beauty, and the remarkable Deveaux Bank: Reflections of a Cultural Ornithologist, featuring Dr. J. Drew Lanham.
posted by Kattullus at 5:04 AM PST - 7 comments

November 17

Bobby, or maybe Bobbie?

Company is finally back on Broadway this week after a 20-month hiatus. There were only nine preview performances before all the theaters in New York went dark during the pandemic. Now the cast celebrates its return with a Tiny Desk performance filmed a few blocks away from the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre at the CIVILIAN Hotel. It's the 35th birthday celebration for the lead character, Bobbie, but also a reunion for this ensemble. [more inside]
posted by hippybear at 9:29 PM PST - 9 comments

71 cats added so far!

Two are named Potato. [reddit video] [more inside]
posted by Glinn at 6:35 PM PST - 25 comments

Nelson Freire, Pianist Extraordinaire (1944-2021)

Nelson Freire, a reclusive pianist whose fabled technique and sensitive, subtle musicianship made him a legend among pianophiles, died on Monday at his home in Rio de Janeiro. He was 77... That Mr. Freire was indeed a master pianist had never been in doubt. A child prodigy, he gave his first performance at 4 and was attracting attention at international competitions before his teens. His playing had a wisdom that critics rarely failed to describe as innate. (NYTimes Obit) [more inside]
posted by beisny at 3:57 PM PST - 8 comments

Directed by John Ford (Uncredited)

The War Department Presents At The Front In North Africa With The U.S. Army (In Technicolor)* [more inside]
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:24 PM PST - 13 comments

BC floods

Terry Glavin: The scale of the disaster unfolding in B.C. is unprecedented. A summary of the flooding and mudslides unleashed by the "atmospheric river" rainstorm on the weekend, washing out highways and damaging railways, forcing people to evacuate and leaving others trapped. Vancouver, Canada's busiest port, has lost its road and rail connections to the rest of Canada. [more inside]
posted by russilwvong at 2:37 PM PST - 78 comments

The Incal

Apparently a movie will be made of Jodorowsy's graphic novel, The Incal. The original comics were written in the aftermath of the cancellation of Jodorowsky's Dune, and was a major inspiration for The Fifth Element. Per Jodorowsky, the director they've chosen is exactly the right person for the project.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:31 AM PST - 72 comments

Kleptogenesis

Salamanders have no use for the gender binary or, honestly, speciation. (SL Popular Scientist, some popup ads) Animal reproduction continues to be wildly innovative. "The promiscuity of Ambystoma can be hard to wrap your head around if you think of species in the way most of us learn about them in school: individuals that can reproduce with one another. Hybrids like the unisexual members of Ambystoma muck that all up: they actually need to mate with multiple species in order to avoid extinction." [more inside]
posted by Lawn Beaver at 9:08 AM PST - 16 comments

"observed the hunter’s nephew, with severely limited enthusiasm"

Light fantasy stories with some silly bits. "The Family Business" by Andrea Tang is a modern fairy tale about a Korean-American teen. "Janet and I Try to Get Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts at the Gilbert Rd Super Target. It's the One in Scottsdale. No, the Other One. The One on Gilbert." by Saul Lemerond basically never leaves the checkout lane.
posted by brainwane at 5:00 AM PST - 21 comments

November 16

Nominees for the Goodreads Choice Awards 2021

The opening round nominees for the Goodreads Choice Awards have been announced. More than a dozen have previously appeared on Fanfare. [more inside]
posted by Wobbuffet at 6:20 PM PST - 49 comments

If Charlie Brown Played Tetris, Would He Be a Block Head?

There is, quite literally and no foolin', an end to Tetris. And this guy wrote an AI to find it (semi-long but somewhat soothing SLYT).
posted by MollyRealized at 11:59 AM PST - 41 comments

Why so many people undercharge for their work

More and more people are tasked with putting a price on what they do in the ever-growing gig economy, outside the constraints of corporate pay structures and even preset rates on apps such as Uber. You may hear us called gig workers, independent contractors, or freelancers; people who, like myself when I decided to write and coach writers full time five years ago, are thrown out into the capitalist wild. We release the rope of a job and the health insurance it may provide, and bet on ourselves to do what needs to be done so we and any dependents can live (and retire) with dignity. Before new freelancers discover organizations, communities, and mentors, they have few pricing resources as a guide, aside from the random inspirational Instagram post that says “Know your worth.” For myriad reasons, humans are very bad at this. Paulette Perhach writes in Vox on the challenge of setting fees for your work.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:21 AM PST - 48 comments

Jurassic Park but with a cat

Jurassic Park but with a cat. A one-minute video. [more inside]
posted by russilwvong at 8:58 AM PST - 20 comments

Nathan Johnson 1925-2021

The great Detroit architect Nathan Johnson passed away at age 96. Although Mr. Johnson designed buildings of all types, he was particularly important as a pioneer and innovator of modernist architecture for Black churches. Lots of great photos on this thread. [more inside]
posted by wicked_sassy at 6:28 AM PST - 12 comments

Paper and ink, lemons and a bike

Small, kind, domestic scifi stories in a climate-changed US. "When she pressed the county seal into the page, embossing an eagle rampant and ivy wreath, the diploma-shaped ache in her chest eased almost to nothing. It should have been hers anyway." "The Notary of No Republic" by J. Byrd (published this year): a self-appointed public servant gets a complicated request. "'Hope is a habit, Dix.' A bad habit, yes, a dangerous one. Hope had shaped this foundering world into what it was." "A Luxury Like Hope" by Aimee Ogden, also published this year: despite everything, an aunt tries to use lemons.
posted by brainwane at 3:59 AM PST - 14 comments

November 15

Holly Herndon's SPAWN AI: singing with someone else's voice in real time

Herndon's remarkable software allows one person to sing with the voice of another. it's uncanny and spectacular. Herndon's videos from her @SonarFest presentation/collaboration. the collaborative possibilities! the ethical questions! Musical identities now way spongier with this new tool.
posted by spoh at 4:43 PM PST - 40 comments

Like watching an emergent improv band forming around a cat drinking milk

It started with Leo the cat, happily and loudly lapping up milk from a spoon; using TikTok's duet feature, people added onto it and built an awesome song. [more inside]
posted by Pronoiac at 2:12 PM PST - 44 comments

"it was magical, like a ritual, like an exorcism"

Singer and songwriter Emma Ruth Rundle has released her fifth solo album Engine of Hell. [more inside]
posted by Maaik at 11:57 AM PST - 6 comments

Channeling Chansley

What all four have in common is the knee-jerk suspicion that all government and establishment-media narratives, all expert opinions are “propaganda.” This wariness is coupled, paradoxically, with a willingness to believe any “counternarrative,” no matter how dubiously sourced or implausible. In raising doubts about public-health authorities like Fauci, the CDC, and the WHO, Kennedy, Wolf, and Miller seem to see themselves as standard-bearers of the 1960s activism whose bumper-sticker slogan was Question Authority. Conspiracism is a counterculture—a counterculture of counternarratives. From A Close Reading of the QAnon Shaman’s Conspiracy Manifesto by Mark Dery [more inside]
posted by chavenet at 11:00 AM PST - 63 comments

Prehistoric animation

It turns out that prehistoric art included animation. All you need is bad enough lighting. For (hypothetical) prehistoric animation (disks set up to twirl between two images), see the Cass Neary books by Elizabeth Hand-- the last two books I think. All four are worth reading.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 5:26 AM PST - 30 comments

"Most of us weren’t ready for it. Some of us still aren’t."

Two science fiction stories in which mysteries about changes in human behavior and capability feel uncanny. "Sidewalks" by Maureen McHugh: "She offers me the pen and says something in a language that sounds liquid, like it’s been poured through a straw." "Clouds" by Brian Francis Slattery: "Roy was one of the people who couldn’t get the idea of an invasion out of his head. Everything the aliens did seemed to him to have an ulterior motive. When they did nothing, they were just biding their time, making us complacent."
posted by brainwane at 3:57 AM PST - 13 comments

Pouria Hadjibagheri and the Cascade of Doom

Cascade of Doom: JIT, and how a Postgres update led to 70% failure on a critical national service [more inside]
posted by knapah at 1:14 AM PST - 29 comments

November 14

Bus Driving In The Marvel Universe

Twitter thread: Finally watching Shang-Chi, here as a bus operator to rate the SFT transit factors of The Bus Scene. Threadreader link.
posted by hippybear at 9:05 PM PST - 69 comments

NPR books editor Petra Mayer has died

NPR Books editor Petra Mayer died suddenly Saturday of a presumed pulmonary embolism. Mayer was a proud nerd and was a driving force behind the NPR Books concierge (A Mefi fave) and this past summer's special series Summer SciFi & Fantasy Best of the Decade Poll (which also popped up on the Blue.) [more inside]
posted by Wretch729 at 6:01 PM PST - 51 comments

Maybe he took a wrong turn at the crossroads?

What happened to Eric Clapton? The guitar legend has long been inscrutable, but his covid turn has friends and fans puzzled like never before. (Archive link) [more inside]
posted by Lyme Drop at 10:30 AM PST - 146 comments

Live Shopping is the Next Big Thing. Here’s Why.

In China, live shopping is already a standard form of retail. Typical live shopping events last around three hours, while special events can go on around the clock. This is the future that awaits American retail. The live shopping format generated $60 billion in sales globally in 2019 – with China far in the lead. Yet only $1 billion of those transactions took place in the U.S. Now, the format is estimated to hit $25 billion in the U.S. alone by 2023. Social media platforms are all in – and so are major retailers. Walmart is hosting live shopping events on TikTok. Facebook’s Live Shopping Fridays now feature brands ranging from Sephora to Abercrombie & Fitch. Instagram has a dedicated “Live” hub inside its Shopping section and ran a 10-day live shopping event with partners such as Peloton and Aveda. And Amazon launched Amazon Live.
posted by folklore724 at 8:21 AM PST - 123 comments

A mirror array that spells out "Marry Me?"

Ben Bartlett, a physics PhD student, proposed to his boyfriend of eight years by using an hexagonal mirror array to reflect the light from the setting sun onto the ground to spell “MARRY ME?”. To max out the romantic quotient, the proposal was on the beach on their 8th anniversary, Mobius rings included. Oh, and the 3D printed mirror array is open-source.
posted by of strange foe at 6:36 AM PST - 16 comments

bamboo, beetles, gardening, and power balances

"The first time I tried to regreen our town, I was sixteen. I got sentenced to 150 hours of community service..." "Choose Your Battleground" by Andrew Leon Hudson is a short, light, triumphant science fiction story about urban ecology. "A bee man came by a few months ago. I don’t like bees much, but I took some." "The Restoration" by Karen Heuler is a little longer and slower and more unsettling, as humans reckon with our discomfort with real ecological balance.
posted by brainwane at 3:56 AM PST - 8 comments

The Red Dress

"This dress is pure sisterhood" The Red Dress is the culmination of a 12 year project spanning 28 countries and 244 embroiderers. [more inside]
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 3:53 AM PST - 7 comments

November 13

Will Reynolds and Ryan Ferrell's Late Show Appearances

Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell had some unique late show appearances this week. Don't miss Reynolds' Star Wars bottoms. How do the two know each other? It all began with a TikTok meme ...
posted by MollyRealized at 8:35 PM PST - 12 comments

Hi and welcome to this very natural setting.

"Today I want to talk about a revolutionary approach on how to connect our world without being super weird." A brief promo for an extraordinary immersive experience.
posted by kristi at 2:20 PM PST - 19 comments

it has, ironically, become necessary for me to fight my own government

The Adler Planetarium's Here, Queer, and Exploring Beyond the Atmosphere is a short online exhibit about the life and legacy of Dr. Frank Kameny.
posted by eotvos at 1:22 PM PST - 5 comments

CBT, chronic pain, and ableism

The article reads as self-congratulatory, biased, and anti-opioid, going so far as to say that therapists are providing a “powerful salve for suffering” despite later admitting that most research only shows one-third of participants experience significant improvement. They removed the quotes they had from actual patients who received CBT and found it unhelpful or harmful. [more inside]
posted by curious nu at 12:34 PM PST - 55 comments

New space walks

A space exploration update for November 2021. In Earth orbit news, one crew returned from the International Space Station, while a new crew rode a SpaceX flight to board the ISS. The ISS altered its orbit by a mile to avoid incoming debris from an old Chinese launch. Members of the Shenzhou 13 team aboard China's Tiangong space station conducted a spacewalk to build out the station; colonel Wang Yaping became China's first female spacewalker. [more inside]
posted by doctornemo at 11:16 AM PST - 11 comments

An Evening With Silk Sonic

Silk Sonic Are Here to Save Us With Seventies Soul: Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak’s love letter to Seventies soul is more than just a retro good time [Rolling Stone Review] [more inside]
posted by ellieBOA at 7:57 AM PST - 9 comments

I Will Create A Winning Basketball Program At The University Of Austin

"We begin with the simple home truths of winning basketball, albeit from a perspective grounded in a free-market and inquiry-forward approach to the game that rejects the cringing 'correctness' that holds back ostensibly enlightened CUSA programs like Rice and Florida Atlantic. My Meritocrats will talk on defense, but not about defense—by engaging opponents on more important questions, we will leverage our program’s discursive advantages. The goal is to be an exhausting and infuriating opponent, and I believe we will achieve this in year one." (From Defector, requires e-mail sign-up) [more inside]
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:13 AM PST - 53 comments

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street

Steven Sondheim had dominated the 1970s on Broadway. As the decade closed out, he turned to a modern adaptation of a Victorian melodrama for source material. With Hugh Wheeler, adapting Christopher Bond, 1979's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street is possibly Sondheim's most world-wide hit. Here is the 2014 New York Philharmonic Concert Performance [2h23m], with Bryn Terfel, Emma Thompason, Philip Quast, and many others. [more inside]
posted by hippybear at 5:58 AM PST - 45 comments

“They been talking to you too?” he asked in a whisper.

"The Bronx’s First Spiritual Hip Hop Party" by Sarah A. Macklin is a short, sweet fantasy story about a southern girl visiting New York City and making unexpected friends through the power of music.
posted by brainwane at 3:55 AM PST - 2 comments

"Not nice or polite, but true."

Paula Rego's retrospective this year at Tate Britain covered six decades of her art: painting, collage, printmaking, pastels, exploring power, abuse, story and women's agency. The exhibition guide includes images of her work, and the Tate has a short trailer (0.36) online. There are more images in this article by the exhibition's curator, Elena Crippa. The exhibition includes the work Rego has done about injustice towards women and girls - abortion laws, trafficking and female genital mutilation. [more inside]
posted by paduasoy at 3:46 AM PST - 4 comments

November 12

What Everyone Gets Wrong About the Beatles.

McCartney’s recently published two-volume set The Lyrics, a gorgeous work. All told, the collection spans north of 800 pages and collects the lyrics to 154 McCartney songs. Paul McCartney has been one of the most famous people on earth for nearly 60 years, and in many ways, he has served as the best model of how to be a celebrity: He’s disarmingly amiable, boundlessly energetic, gracious and graceful in the face of unimaginable fame. McCartney has written and published a beautiful book, yet another gift from this talented man. [more inside]
posted by dancestoblue at 11:31 PM PST - 71 comments

"I know that my only chance now is to be reclassified"

"The Stateless Person's Tale" & "The Arriver's Tale," as told to Nobel laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah (previously). "Delia's Return: The Migration and Deportation of an Unaccompanied Child" by Lauren Heidbrink, Delia, and Gabriela Afable (American Anthropologist, 06/2021; Spanish; study guide; podcast; transcript). 27 more tales. More anthropologists on deportee experiences in Haiti, Mexico, and Ghana. Anth. of transnationalism syllabus archive. Mary Ruth Wossum-Fisher (MA thesis, 08/2021), "Cultural Anthropologists' Reflections on Expert Witnessing for Asylum Cases" [PDF]. Anne McCready Heinen (Texas Monthly, 01/2021), "Finding the Lost": "They didn't discover Christian's fate until six years later ... His story might have ended there if not for forensic anthropology professor Kate Spradley."
posted by Wobbuffet at 4:16 PM PST - 3 comments

Money, Power, Beauty, Fame; Choose your weapon to beat the game.

Lyric vid: DJ Chris Lake and producer-musician Grimes have put together a collective 'banger' in 'A Drug From God.' [more inside]
posted by kfholy at 1:00 PM PST - 43 comments

Pollinator art

If pollinators designed gardens, what would humans see? "Pollinators see colours differently from us, forage in different ways, and emerge in different seasons to each other. As a result, a garden designed for them may look quite different from a garden designed for us."
posted by dhruva at 8:20 AM PST - 15 comments

Frederik Willem de Klerk (March 18, 1936 – November 11, 2021)

FW de Klerk: South Africa's last apartheid president dies at 85 [BBC]
posted by riruro at 7:51 AM PST - 26 comments

The Fallacy of Eating the Way Your Great-Grandmother Ate

Our great-grandparents, Pollan and others have argued, didn’t raise their kids on guar gum, soy lecithin, and many of the other ingredients common in today’s processed foods. They served milk fresh from the cow, turnips dug fresh from the garden, and cooked almost everything from scratch. If only we had stuck to this small-scale agrarian lifestyle, our kids would never spill Go-GURT in the backseat or bug us to refill their snack cups with ever more Goldfish crackers. The underlying claim is that if we ate this way, nobody would be fat.
posted by Kitteh at 7:01 AM PST - 331 comments

"looking at the lives and voices of women in medieval literature"

Encounters with Medieval Women is a four episode series of the London Review of Books podcast where scholars Irina Dumitrescu and Mary Wellesley discuss four medieval texts by or about women: St. Mary of Egypt, Julian of Norwich, the Wife of Bath, and Margery Kempe. Each episode page has a full transcript.
posted by Kattullus at 5:32 AM PST - 8 comments

How China Avoided Soviet-Style Collapse

Full Article On the Eurasian landmass, this is a reversal of historic proportions. In 1914, the GDP per capita of the Tsarist Empire was approximately three times China’s; by the 1970s, it was six. [...] Forty years later, in terms of purchasing power parity, China has nearly caught up with Russian GDP per capita. [...] Multiplied by its giant population, China’s GDP is now more than nine times larger than Russia’s.
posted by schmudde at 4:37 AM PST - 26 comments

I Would Like You to be Pleased with the Idea

After introducing himself, [Jasper] Johns told [Jéan-Marc] Togodgue about a decision he had made that would forever link the 91-year-old, Georgia-born art legend with the 17-year-old student and basketball standout. It would also spark a legal dispute — eventually settled — as well as raise questions about how artists use other people’s works to create their own. from How did this teenager’s drawing of his knee wind up in a Jasper Johns painting at the Whitney? [WP; archive] [more inside]
posted by chavenet at 4:27 AM PST - 7 comments

scars, cracks, blood, and video games

"That Story Isn’t the Story" by John Wiswell (previously) is a fantasy story about escape and recovery from abuse (author interview). "Everything Anton owns goes in one black trash bag. His ratty yellow sketchpad, which he bought to draw the other familiars when he moved here, and only ever used three pages of. The few shirts and khakis that he paid for with his own money, before Mr. Bird took control of his finances." "The Breaks" by Scott King (also available in Spanish) is a fantasy story in which people help each other heal. "When the clerk at the convenience store takes my twenty for the frozen mac and cheese and the cheap wine, I barely notice the fractal pattern of cracks running across his face."
posted by brainwane at 3:54 AM PST - 7 comments

November 11

math duels!

How Imaginary Numbers Were Invented - "A general solution to the cubic equation was long considered impossible, until we gave up the requirement that math reflect reality."[1] [more inside]
posted by kliuless at 11:11 PM PST - 27 comments

An Air Force sergeant killed himself on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial

Statistics tell us at least 16 other members of the military community also took their lives that Monday night and every night — the average daily toll — leading up to Veterans Day, when the nation thanks veterans for their service with a free 10-piece order of boneless chicken wings or a free doughnut. [more inside]
posted by NotLost at 8:15 PM PST - 23 comments

"We were exhilarated by change and expectation ..."

Tove Jansson & Tuulikki Pietilä (Granta, 10/04/2021), "Notes from an Island": "The sea was chalk white in every direction as far as the eye could see. It was only then that we noticed the absolute silence. And that we had started whispering." The Gloss recently published an additional extract--the beginning of the book--along with the publisher's introduction: "For 26 summers, writer Tove Jansson and her life partner, the graphic artist Tuulikki Pietilä (known as 'Tooti') would migrate to the rocky, almost barren island of Klovharun, at the edge of the Pellinge archipelago in the Gulf of Finland." Tove Jansson previously.
posted by Wobbuffet at 4:12 PM PST - 5 comments

"The real Pacific Princess had a crew of 373, rather than 6"

The Love Boat was an American romantic comedy/drama television series that aired on ABC from 1977 to 1986. Here is a supercut of every guest star in alphabetical order (except Andy Griffith, Peter Marshall, Andy Warhol and Kristy McNichol).
posted by jessamyn at 12:02 PM PST - 176 comments

Why Detroit Residents Pushed Back Against Tree-Planting

Detroiters were refusing city-sponsored “free trees.” A researcher found out the problem: She was the first person to ask them if they wanted them. (By Brentin Mock)
posted by bq at 11:42 AM PST - 25 comments

Known But To God

From the US National Archives, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier 100th Anniversary. They also partnered with Google to provide an extended slideshow. Yesterday the Archives hosted a livestream with Jeff Gottesfeld, author of the children's book Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and Sgt. 1st Class Chelsea Porterfield (Porterfield was the first female Sergeant of the Guard, and recently presided over the first all-female changing of the guard.) [more inside]
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:06 AM PST - 0 comments - Post a Comment

How I Grew Up in the Coldest Town on Earth

I grew up in Yakutia, Siberia, where the temperature goes down to -71C/-96F [slYT]
posted by ellieBOA at 7:59 AM PST - 31 comments

This disinformation campaign must be directly confronted.

These claims are not true, but many white people believe them as a result of a systematic disinformation campaign . . . campaigns like Youngkin’s are built on a legacy of lies dating back to the 1950s and 1960s. Our research demonstrates that conservative fearmongering over CRT reuses a set of scare tactics that equate racial justice with Communism that originated during the Cold War. [more inside]
posted by mecran01 at 7:59 AM PST - 38 comments

A very British path to discrimination

The secret court case 50 years ago that has robbed transgender people of their rights ever since “All the way through up to 1970, the path was: self-identify, get affirmative medical care, correct your birth certificate, and live equally. After 1970, that’s gone.” [archive.org link]
posted by epo at 7:12 AM PST - 24 comments

Who Caught and Sang the Sun in Flight

Larry Gordon, founder of Vermont-based folk-chorus group Village Harmony has died. For over 35 years, Gordon taught American Shape-Note singing traditions to generations of teen and adult singers and their audiences through intensive world-music summer camps. The music is known particularly for the "hard-edged, unselfconscious singing style" he encouraged, that allowed most anyone with a voice to sing along. [more inside]
posted by heyitsgogi at 6:20 AM PST - 8 comments

Looking back and looking over your shoulder

Two short speculative stories by Marissa Lingen. "The most important thing" is a fictional survey: "What's the most important thing that happened in 2048?" "The Swarm of Giant Gnats I Sent After Kent, My Assistant Manager" is pretty light: "Gnats gave a certain air of plausibility when you’re sitting in the chair of someone with an official nameplate talking about what exactly has happened to Kent and how you personally were not there." Lingen also recommends recent stories she's enjoyed. [more inside]
posted by brainwane at 3:50 AM PST - 5 comments

Richard 'Lowtax' Kyanka, the creator of SomethingAwful, has died

The announcement was posted on SomethingAwful itself. 'Lowtax' created SA, the forum that preceded and spawned 4chan (amongst others) and arguably had an immeasurably large impact on internet culture and even the course of American history, given that it led to (at least) the creation of Anonymous and QAnon. Credible allegations of domestic abuse seemingly led to him selling SomethingAwful in 2020. There is a GoFundMe to support his ex-wife and children.
posted by secretdark at 3:22 AM PST - 61 comments

November 10

But that was your Granny's heirloom napkin...

Helena Loermans has been reconstructing textile "canvases" at her lab in Portugal using the high resolution X-ray and optical images collected by art historians and conservators. Canvas is a sturdy plain weave fabric that we'd all consider to be a "blank canvas" on which to paint, but that isn't what's underneath paintings by Velázquez, El Greco, Titian, Caravaggio, and Rembrandt. There's a sedate intro video, but I recommend you start at the reconstruction of The Supper at Emmaus (Velázquez, 1620). Actual art historians have documented these before, but Loermans has been taking the next steps to determine viable weaving drafts and then weaving reproduction yardage. As a bonus: this portrait of the 2nd Earl of Mar was probably painted on a fancy Gebrochene twill tablecloth.
posted by janell at 9:03 PM PST - 8 comments

On ‘on background’

Updating The Verge’s background policy "The Verge is updating our public ethics policy to be clearer in our interactions with public relations and corporate communications professionals. We’re doing this because big tech companies in particular have hired a dizzying array of communications staff who routinely push the boundaries of acceptable sourcing in an effort to deflect accountability, pass the burden of truth to the media, and generally control the narratives around the companies they work for while being annoying as hell to deal with." Includes a number of real-life examples of tech company PR shenanigans.
posted by mosessis at 8:34 PM PST - 23 comments

Last Night I Dreamt I Went To Broadway Again....

In 2012, a musical adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's book Rebecca was poised to begin is Broadway production. The show seemed a sure bet - not only was it based on a famous novel which itself inspired an Oscar-winning film, the Broadway production was itself a translation of an already-popular German original adaptation. However - producers were having such a hard time finding the funding that they ultimately had to call things off the day of the very first rehearsal. And the reason why....is a tale itself. [more inside]
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:56 PM PST - 10 comments

Islands in the Stream

The Original Version
The Best Duet Ever Version
The Tribute Version
The "Still Got It" Version
The Modern Band Version
The Sunday Morning Version
The Lockdown Version
The Metal Version
The Bette Version
The Hip Hop Version
The Polka Version

posted by dorothy hawk at 5:39 PM PST - 31 comments

From #striketober to #strikesgiving

Strikes across the country continue. Workers rediscover the power of unions as during #strikesgiving. Civil Eats urges solidarity with food workers and farmers. The Intercept discusses the current labor movement with labor reporter Jonah Furman and Nausicaa Renner and its implications in a podcast. [more inside]
posted by toastyk at 5:13 PM PST - 18 comments

More Podcasts for More Hours of Darkness

It’s November 2021, the dark nights are lengthening (at least in the northern hemisphere) and The Magnus Archives has posted its last update. so here’s another roundup of weird audio dramas! They may help you spend time while isolating, doing chores, or coping with personal, global, or holiday stress. Most of the series are audio dramas with paranormal elements, but anthologies, fantasy, and science fiction are included. [more inside]
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:05 PM PST - 13 comments

I don't really like myself

Youtube vid: GIRLI (Milly Toomey) has been hanging around a bit. Is 'I Don't Like Myself' a (needed) breakthru?
posted by kfholy at 2:21 PM PST - 3 comments

Candy-Colored Clown Engages in Pandemic Hijinx

Did Covid Change How We Dream? "As the novel coronavirus spread and much of the world moved toward isolation, dream researchers began rushing to design studies and set up surveys that might allow them to access some of the most isolated places of all, the dreamscapes unfolding inside individual brains. The first thing almost everyone noticed was that for many people, their dream worlds seemed suddenly larger and more intense." (Archive.is link)
posted by Lyme Drop at 1:57 PM PST - 6 comments

unapologetic gay filth

Dobes Crusher writes about the memetic decontextualization of "weird art", with a guided (and attributed!) tour through some classics of the genre. (cw: sex, nudity, gore, generally freaky shit)
posted by theodolite at 11:54 AM PST - 8 comments

Why don't English people know more about the Holocaust?

A recent survey commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany [Guardian] suggests that just over half of British adults did not know that 6 million Jewish people were murdered during the Holocaust. On the other hand, 89% had heard of the holocaust, and between 88% believe it is important to continue to teach about the Holocaust. [more inside]
posted by plonkee at 2:57 AM PST - 64 comments

November 9

"Busted Monometer of Planetary Celsius."

'Climax Change' and Three Poems by Mark Levine. Levine won the 1993 National Series Selection for his first book, Debt. Other work includes teaching Journalism. [more inside]
posted by clavdivs at 7:51 PM PST - 5 comments

"Once your hair has become pure white... ring the bell"

The Takhini Hot Springs Hair Freezing Contest is an annual winter contest. They have a fun gallery.
posted by jessamyn at 6:01 PM PST - 26 comments

I don't know how these rocks got stacked or why

Stack rocks. That's it.
posted by slater at 4:18 PM PST - 31 comments

Consciousness simulacra and a dusty mirror

The science fiction story "Proof by Induction" by José Pablo Iriarte and the fantasy story “Basilisk and Sons” by Timothy Mudie both center men trying to deal with complicated emotions while grieving and carrying on their fathers' work. The former found via Aimee Picchi's November short story readathon (aka #NaShoStoMo) on Twitter, recommending one short sf/f story per day.
posted by brainwane at 2:37 PM PST - 1 comment

For when you're sure you hate it but not sure why

Daylight Savings Time Gripe Assistant Tool. A handy tool to help make your case when whining about a biannual time change.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 11:44 AM PST - 122 comments

Doing Real Politics

Jacobin magazine collaborated with YouGov to survey working-class U.S. voters and investigate:
  • - How can progressives win in working-class America?
  • - How can progressives more effectively engage low-propensity working-class voters across lines of race and geography, especially outside large cities?
  • - What are the electoral advantages and disadvantages of various kinds of progressive platforms and messaging? Can different progressive messages work in different areas?
Some of their takeaways? [more inside]
posted by PhineasGage at 11:16 AM PST - 106 comments

Fear on Saturday Night Live Documentary

Short (10 min) documentary about Fear's performance on Saturday Night Live on 1981. From Jeff Krulik the film maker that brought us "Heavy Metal Parking Lot". In 1981, Lorne Michaels and John Belushi wanted to get some authentic punks to appear on SNL as audience members for the Halloween episode's musical guest, LA punk band Fear. They called Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat/Fugazi) in DC. They were looking for about 15 people to travel up to NYC and appear on the show. More like 80 punks would descended on 30 Rock. During the performance, the audience slammed, got into fist fights, and created more mayhem than SNL producers had bargained for. When DC punk rock superfan, Bill MacKenzie, came from backstage wielding a gigantic pumpkin, SNL went to dead air before the pumpkin was unceremoniously smashed over a guy's head.
posted by josher71 at 10:12 AM PST - 14 comments

I'm overdue for a discussion about my role in inspiring 'edgelord' shit.

In a recent Twitter thread, famed musician, producer, audio engineer, and infamous crank Steve Albini owned the ugly parts of his past — years of offensive music, statements and posts — and said his generation needs to talk about how culture has changed. Zaron Burnett III of Mel Magazine reached out to Albini to have that conversation.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:36 AM PST - 45 comments

Parthenogenesis Discovered in California Condors

Parthenogenesis Discovered in California Condors [more inside]
posted by kathrynm at 8:26 AM PST - 19 comments

I close my eyes, then I drift away

Dean Stockwell, veteran actor of stage and screen whose career spanned over seventy years, died on Sunday, November 7, at the age of 85. [more inside]
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:19 AM PST - 74 comments

N.Y.C. Rats: They’re in the Park, on Your Block and Even at Your Table

There have been 15 cases this year — the most since at least 2006 — of leptospirosis, which can cause serious liver and kidney damage and, in the city, typically spreads via rat urine. New York’s most recent anti-rat initiative, a $32 million program in 2017, targeted what Mayor Bill de Blasio said were the three most infested parts of the city: the Grand Concourse area of the Bronx; Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn; and a section of Manhattan encompassing the East Village, the Lower East Side and Chinatown.
posted by folklore724 at 8:15 AM PST - 12 comments

"You're going to have the wackos"

A secret tape made after Columbine shows the NRA's evolution on school shootings – Tim Mak, NPR Investigations, November 9, 2021. Days after the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, senior National Rifle Association leaders held a private conference call about canceling their upcoming annual convention in Denver, Colorado. Thirteen people lay dead, over were 20 injured, and TV looped students running from the school. NRA strategists, shaken and panicked, discussed a much more sympathetic posture toward mass shootings than its uncompromising stance in decades since, even considering a $1 million victims’ fund. NPR has obtained over 2 1/2 hours of recordings of those private meetings, offering unique insight into the NRA's struggle to develop their standard response to school shootings.
posted by cenoxo at 6:06 AM PST - 35 comments

November 8

Your head is humming and it won't go, in case you don't know

Fifty years of Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven — the epic all epics are measured against. Atlantic Records sent promo copies of Stairway to Heaven to American radio stations, which lapped up the track despite its monumental length...It's all the more remarkable when you consider the song's contents — it has no conventional chorus, it opens with a medieval-sounding combination of recorders and acoustic guitar, the vocals don't start until almost one minute into the song, the drums don't join in until more than four minutes in, and the last two and a half minutes feel like a completely different song...But radio DJs loved it, and so did the listeners. [more inside]
posted by Lyme Drop at 9:42 PM PST - 91 comments

House passes bipartisan infrastructure bill

The major bipartisan infrastructure bill, which was passed by the Senate back in August, was passed by the House on Friday, with a handful of Republican votes. AP: Biden hails infrastructure win as ‘monumental step forward’. New York Times: House Passes $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill. CNN: Here's what's in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. [more inside]
posted by russilwvong at 7:29 PM PST - 52 comments

Human beings and human givers

But in a society where no one hates or is hostile towards women save the most pathological of criminals, how do we explain, well, everything? Why does the wage gap persist? Why are leadership positions still predominantly filled with men? Why is feminized labor systematically undervalued, why is the division of domestic labor still profoundly unequal, why is women’s physical pain discounted and ignored, why have we allowed women’s labor to take the place of a legitimate social safety net? And why are all of these realities worse for Black and brown women? Why is everything so enraging and why does substantive change feel so impossible?
posted by Lycaste at 3:40 PM PST - 105 comments

"Not for us John Keats and his tidy odes ..."

Caroline Wazer (Lapham's, 11/08/2021), "It's Time for Some Game Theory: Experiencing history in Assassin's Creed": "The most tantalizing loose end for me, a casual player of the games and a holder of a PhD in history, is the brief editorial note that introduces the section, which justifies the AHR's decision to branch into video-game reviewing as coming out of concern for what nonhistorians derive from playing historically themed video games ... What the boys did nearly unanimously report to Gilbert is that Assassin's Creed had made them feel more emotionally connected to the past." The paywalled AHR issue lists DOI info. More about painters John Martin and Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Ruskin, The Art of England. Barthes, "The Discourse of History" / "The Reality Effect" [PDFs]. More by Wazer, who "couldn't figure out a way to work the cats into this essay, but this thread lives on."
posted by Wobbuffet at 3:13 PM PST - 14 comments

in which the reader learns horses' likelihood of colic in microgravity

"Love Unflinching, at Low- to Zero-G" by M. L. Clark is an engaging, reasonably happy sci-fi novelette starring a veterinarian on a space station who treats horses, dogs, and more while attempting to prevent a diplomatic crisis. Content note for mention of the accidental death of a dog.
posted by brainwane at 2:36 PM PST - 1 comment

What is your name?

Name is a blog post from ND Stevenson (author and artist of many fine books) about navigating being trans and trying to figure out what to call yourself.
posted by curious nu at 1:40 PM PST - 15 comments

Aaron Rodgers Didn't Just Lie

His lies, his illogical defense, and his hubris damage all professional athletes, writes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the best-selling author, screenwriter, actor and 20-season NBA veteran. [more inside]
posted by rogerroger at 1:30 PM PST - 52 comments

"Sushi was 'in,' along with racquetball and peach"

A history of sushi in the United States -- a story not just of '80s culinary fashions and the economic rise of Japan but of the financial empire of the Unification Church, whose disciples brought sushi to cities all over America. As you scroll, an accompanying silent animation dovetails with the story. (If this causes difficulty, it can be avoided by using the reader mode.) [more inside]
posted by Countess Elena at 1:26 PM PST - 11 comments

As #COP26 heads into its second week....

Environmental journalist Patrick Galey has been exposing the puff-and-fluff of #COP26 headlines: Of the 23 countries that made NEW commitments to phase out coal... TEN of them Don't. Even. Use. Coal. #COP26. Climate analyst Ketan Joshi reminds us that the harm of climate change is caused by **cumulative** greenhouse gases. So: a very slow path to zero by 2050 does much more absolute harm than a very fast one. In other words, "Net-zero pledges delay the action that needs to happen." [more inside]
posted by spamandkimchi at 12:14 PM PST - 8 comments

The mystery of the “same sky” postcards

A collector noticed something strange in his collection of 11,000 vintage postcards: Many of them all had the exact same sky.
posted by 40 Watt at 8:51 AM PST - 31 comments

November 7

Why Everyone Is So Rude Right Now

Lawyers are reporting ruder clients. Restaurants are reporting ruder clients. Flight attendants, for whom rude clients are no novelty, are reporting mayhem. “We’re going through a time where physiologically, people’s threat system is at a heightened level,” says Bernard Golden, a psychologist and the author of Overcoming Destructive Anger. This period of threat has been so long that it may have had a damaging effect on people’s mental health, which for many has then been further debilitated by isolation, loss of resources, the death of loved ones and reduced social support. “During COVID there has been an increase in anxiety, a reported increase in depression, and an increased demand for mental health services,” he adds. Lots of people, in other words, are on their very last nerve.
posted by folklore724 at 11:05 PM PST - 156 comments

"Hazelnuts were from before."

Vivid imagery about the future of our relationship with ecological surroundings in these three melancholy speculative stories. "The Wild Inside" by Angela Penrose: "We had to close up another building that day—bolt the doors shut, board over the windows, stop up the chimney and all the vents with concrete". "Packing" by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon): "Today is not the day I wanted to do this, but we aren’t always given choices. It’s time to pack for the new seasons." And "The Last Ride of the Polaris" by Carmen Peters, in the Apocalpyse issue of Black Cat Magazine (download the PDF), has interiority, two guys, and a waterslide. [Content note: includes a homophobic slur.] "That’s how you needed to talk nowadays, in the past tense."
posted by brainwane at 2:34 PM PST - 6 comments

We Notice When Something Has Changed

T H E C O G N I T I V E B I A S C O D E X
posted by chavenet at 1:46 PM PST - 41 comments

"I wanna be a paperback writer!"

How to Play Paperback. "You will need some people and a stack of books. The more the merrier. 1. A player presents a paperback novel to the group. 2. The player reads the description on the back of the novel. 3. Everyone listens very carefully and then writes an invented first sentence of the novel on a slip of paper. 4. The player writes the actual first sentence on a slip of paper, shuffles all the sentences together, and reads them to the group. 5. The player asks each person what they think the real first sentence is and makes a note of their answer. 6. The player reveals the actual first sentence.... [more inside]
posted by storybored at 1:18 PM PST - 19 comments

Saturday Afternoon Ikea Trip Simulator

Saturday Afternoon Ikea Trip Simulator It is Saturday afternoon. You are near Ikea. You have no idea how you got here. [via mefi projects]
posted by rogerroger at 11:48 AM PST - 67 comments

A review of "Amtrak, America's Railroad"

American trains need more than railfan nostalgia. "Foreign intercity rail networks succeed not just through boosterism but with realistic assessments of what kind of city pairs, distances, and railroad speeds are genuinely viable in a competitive marketplace. ... High-speed rail, which doesn’t exist in the United States, is most competitive with automobiles and airplanes on short- to medium-length journeys that are less than 5 hours, or about 500 miles. Slower conventional rail is competitive only on even shorter distances. This is unfortunately the challenge for most Amtrak services outside the Northeast Corridor." By Eric Goldwyn and Jonathan English.
posted by russilwvong at 11:16 AM PST - 51 comments

The Drink short film

The Drink, a computer-animated short about a thirsty robot which rivals Hollywood in terms of visual quality and style, produced with the open source graphics program Blender. Oh yeah, it was made by a 14-year old kid, apparently.
posted by mokey at 8:51 AM PST - 16 comments

Cities and Cities

Why Tokyo Works - "A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It's where the rich use public transportation."[1,2,3] (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless at 8:32 AM PST - 15 comments

If we keep to our current course, sabotage is coming.

Better to die blowing up a pipeline,’ Malm concludes, ‘than to burn impassively.’ Thus the image of blowing up a pipeline returns, not now as an act of sabotage but one of self-sacrifice. At this intersection of a monumental past and a dark future, we reach a dead end.
Adam Tooze in the LRB, on Andreas Malm and climate direct action. [more inside]
posted by chappell, ambrose at 8:26 AM PST - 28 comments

This might be the worst egg, but it might also be the best.

The House of Faberge made 52 "Imperial" eggs as Easter gifts for Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II to give to their wives and moms. 46 of these survive. I will rank all 46 Imperial Faberge eggs. (sltwitter/threadreader)
posted by curious nu at 5:16 AM PST - 49 comments

The Scientist Who Saved the World

Dr. Katalin Karikó devoted her career to understanding—and evangelizing—the possibilities of mRNA. When the pandemic struck, her unheralded work became the basis for the world’s most effective vaccines. [Glamour / Women of the Year]
posted by ellieBOA at 4:48 AM PST - 12 comments

The StickMan Departs

Emmett Chapman, inventor of the Chapman Stick, died on Nov 1st age 85. [more inside]
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 3:29 AM PST - 22 comments

November 6

Gartic Phone for writing

Frantic Fanfic A fast-paced round-robin Exquisite-Corpse-style writing game where you write fanfic with your friends and share it around. [more inside]
posted by Scattercat at 3:41 PM PST - 15 comments

"And then tomorrow I’ll open my next manila folder and do it again."

Gods, demons, angels, etc. deal with bureaucracy and support groups in some short fantasy stories. "Magicians at Law" by Grace Seybold has arbitration and a kitty-cat: “Hm. I’m assuming, given the smell, this was a standard demonic service contract?” "Broken Idols, Guarded Hearts" by Elizabeth Loupe has an old, possibly obsolete rivalry: "We’d expected death, but they said we’d been punished enough. That was true." "Mr. Death" by Alix E. Harrow [content note: child death] has a lot of grief: "Every new reaper is shielded, at least a little."
posted by brainwane at 2:34 PM PST - 10 comments

What if nethack crossbred with a spreadsheet, and the kid got into EDM?

"Orca is an esoteric programming language designed to quickly create procedural sequencers, in which every letter of the alphabet is an operation, where lowercase letters operate on bang, uppercase letters operate each frame." But it's probably easier to understand by watching a demo and a tutorial. And here's a tutorial on creating a Tracker in Orca.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:28 AM PST - 11 comments

The Ultimate Showdown 15th Anniversary Redux Collab!

The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny now has an extended version with all-new improved animation from a variety of online animators.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 8:44 AM PST - 7 comments

Sunday In The Park With George

Stephen Sondheim was ready to quit Broadway. The failure of Merrily We Roll Along, his first real flop in nearly 20 years, left him cold toward creating more art. Until James Lapine showed him one particular painting, which became a topic of conversation and eventually led to the creation of Sunday In The Park With George. A mammoth work, it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Here is the original 1984 Broadway cast of Sunday In The Park With George [2h25m]. [more inside]
posted by hippybear at 5:55 AM PST - 19 comments

Plant obsessions are not a passion

Richard DeGrandpre discusses obsessions, sustainability, and the economy of houseplants. [more inside]
posted by antihistameme at 4:46 AM PST - 28 comments

November 5

The Sprouting Waters of Oʻahu and the Recovery of Indigenous Knowledge

"In Honolulu as elsewhere, to reshape our cities around the care of streams, rivers, lakes, oceans, and the lands they water would mean a core rebalancing of power from distal federal and commercial entities to local ones. A watershed urbanism in this sense would require a shift from an economy based in revenue extraction to one based in the maintenance of food systems and other natural resources, with its yield to be reinvested on the islands rather than off. The future of Oʻahu could exemplify a watershed urbanism that re-roots design and planning in Indigenous knowledge, and de-engineers more a century of settler colonialism." (QUITE a long read, but worth it.) [more inside]
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:20 PM PST - 2 comments

Wheelchairs are Life, and Losing Them Can be Death

Engracia Figueroa has died after a horrible experience with United Airlines. CW: death, bodily trauma. [more inside]
posted by Alensin at 3:04 PM PST - 47 comments

Virginia election result

New York Times: Youngkin Wins Virginia Governor’s Race, Dealing Blow to Democrats on Telling Election Day. Politico: The Surprising Strategy Behind Youngkin’s Stunner - an interview with two of Youngkin's strategists. [more inside]
posted by russilwvong at 2:56 PM PST - 62 comments

"he might wake up one morning to find his writing done"

Two long, mysterious fictional stories about death, art, and family, both with ambiguous endings. "The Drowned Father" by Pamela Sargent: "Old memories were coming back to him, of sitting in other buses and expounding on his own fictitious accomplishments." "Darkroom" by Geoff Manaugh: "The documentary was vital, and, though Jay didn’t want to admit it, a film about his mom’s sisters‚ his dead aunts, was his only idea."
posted by brainwane at 2:33 PM PST - 2 comments

Supply Chain woes and solutions

Empty Shelves, no toys for Christmas, your custom order held up for months! The supply chain in America is already under stress and is reportedly getting worse. [more inside]
posted by soelo at 1:40 PM PST - 24 comments

One dirty trick for huge muscles fast

“There’s a doctor and it’s like a two-year fucking waiting list to get with him,” Timothy said. “And this guy gives out HGH like candy — you just have to get on that list." The problem, said Wood and Pope, is that because side effects don’t happen immediately, they’re not perceived as scary enough to outweigh the benefits of PEDs. Shorter-term side effects appear to be less common with new PEDs, and long-term effects — including cardiovascular, liver, and kidney issues — don’t show up until later in life. It’s hard for users to conceptualize drawbacks. The thought of getting stiff arteries in 40 years or having a heart attack at 60 might not faze someone who wants to look muscular in two months.
posted by folklore724 at 12:46 PM PST - 44 comments

Kim Stanley Robinson & Omar El Akkad discuss the climate crisis

Kim Stanley Robinson and Omar El Akkad discuss the responsibility science fiction writers have to address the climate crisis. [more inside]
posted by y2karl at 12:41 PM PST - 12 comments

Firework noises? Nope! Great 80s music? Yep! Happy pets!

Synth Britannia - Needing some music tonight to distract my pets I was inspired by this recent thread. [more inside]
posted by I shot a fox in Skyrim and it made me sad at 11:40 AM PST - 3 comments

Tom & Greg

The Rom-Com of the Year (if it is to be said)
posted by chavenet at 10:37 AM PST - 15 comments

“the conspiracy theory of systemic racism”

The day after Election Day, the African American Policy Forum hosted Educators Ungagged: Teaching Truth in the Era of Racial Backlash. The panel featured educators who've been forced out of schools (PDF on the educators), including principal Dr. James Whitfield, suspended Aug 2021 in "A win for white power at a school board" (archived WaPo). The event also showed Virginia governor-elect's campaign ad of a parent complaining about her child having to read "some of the most explicit material you could imagine".... She didn't name the offensive text. Readers, it was Toni Morrison's depictions of the violence of slavery in the novel Beloved. [more inside]
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:32 AM PST - 19 comments

Mind Over Mattress

Around the 17th century, the Dutch started reinforcing their dykes and harbours with sturdy mats the size of football pitches – hand-woven from thousands of twigs grown on nearby coppice plantations. LOW←TECH MAGAZINE investigates Fascine Mattresses: Basketry Gone Wild [archive] [more inside]
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 8:15 AM PST - 15 comments

Active moose in classroom

"It's a feel-good story, even if there was a little bit of property damage" [more inside]
posted by elkevelvet at 7:48 AM PST - 37 comments

Don't Fear The Chook-chooks

Ever thought of raising chickens? YouTube has made it easier than ever to get started. The Insteading channel has a 21 video Beginner's Guide to Raising Chickens. I learned a ton from the Edible Acres channel, their operation is as much about producing huge amounts of compost as lots of eggs. They take in food scraps from restaurants and collect bags of leaves from their neighbors, and let their chickens do all the work. They even use the heat from the compost to keep their chicken warm in winter (in upstate New York).
posted by Bee'sWing at 7:11 AM PST - 10 comments

Woman who climbed El Capitan on her 70th birthday says you can do it too

Dierdre Wolownick, mom of Free Solo star Alex Honnold, believed to be oldest woman to scale the rock formation. Dierdre Wolownick says it's never too late to start a new hobby. And she should know. Wolownick started climbing at the age of 60 in an effort to be closer to her son, Alex Honnold, a world-famous climber and star of the documentary Free Solo. Now, 10 years later, she's scaled the formidable El Capitan rock formation at California's Yosemite National Park for the second time, on her 70th birthday. [more inside]
posted by dancestoblue at 1:52 AM PST - 20 comments

November 4

cosmic inflation

We now know the big bang theory is (probably) not how the universe began - "The Big Bang still happened a very long time ago, but it wasn't the beginning we once supposed it to be." [more inside]
posted by kliuless at 10:10 PM PST - 44 comments

The daemon that no one comprehends.

COBOL: The code that controls your money. "In fact, these days, when the phone rings in the house Thomas retired to — in a small town outside of Toronto — it will occasionally be someone from the bank. Hey, they’ll say, can you, uh, help… update your code? Maybe add some new features to it? Because, as it turns out, the bank no longer employs anyone who understands COBOL as well as Thomas does, who can dive in and tweak it to perform a new task. Nearly all the COBOL veterans, the punch-card jockeys who built the bank’s crucial systems way back when, who know COBOL inside and out — they’ve retired. They’ve left the building, just like Thomas. And few young coders have any interest in learning a dusty, 50-year-old computer language. They’re much more excited by buzzier new fields, like Toronto’s booming artificial intelligence scene. " [more inside]
posted by storybored at 6:10 PM PST - 122 comments

Glue predates anatomically modern humans and other facts

Timeline of the Human Condition via Hacker News
posted by jjray at 4:06 PM PST - 21 comments

People are thinking about you…

…about as much as you think about them—but they don't think you're a mess. Researchers on the "thought gap" and the "beautiful mess effect". [more inside]
posted by bixfrankonis at 3:53 PM PST - 14 comments

5-7-5 the Elements

haiku elements
a periodic table
poetic learning

posted by Marky at 3:48 PM PST - 13 comments

5 short Diwali stories

By Iona Datt Sharma (previously on Diwali): "Light and fire: five stories for Diwali (2018)", a collection of miniature stories for the festival.
posted by brainwane at 2:29 PM PST - 3 comments

You may disagree with someone, but you must at least hold your hand out.

Sunao Tsuboi, a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing and vocal campaigner against nuclear weapons, passed away at 96 on Oct 24th. Obits: BBC, Asahi Shimbun, NYT, Globe & Mail. [more inside]
posted by kmkrebs at 2:18 PM PST - 13 comments

Here today, tabs tomorrow

Today in Tabs. You may want to read the Tabs newsletter (took a break in 2016 but came back this year on Substack) (written by Rusty Foster, of Kuro5hin/MeFi's own note for some) for a broad round up in recent Internet on-goings. Or, if for example, you want to read about the AP quoting Doug, the potato, and possibly the world's biggest potato, discovered in NZ (since corrected):
“We put a hat on him. We put him on Facebook, taking him for a walk, giving him some sunshine,” Doug said. “It’s all a bit of fun. It’s amazing what entertains people.”
[more inside]
posted by skynxnex at 2:03 PM PST - 10 comments

Three specialized computer languages

CookLang is markup and some commandline utilities and webserver -- oh, and an iOS app -- for managing recipes. alda is text-based syntax to write music playable by MIDI. Haku is a programming language shaped like written Japanese. It's not meant to be useful. (Haku via mastodon, where I think I saw someone write a generative music program in Haku, but now I can't find it).
posted by clew at 12:45 PM PST - 20 comments

“What’s the difference between plowing your car and planting a bomb?”

The Car Becomes the Weapon Demonstrators around the country have been injured and killed by vehicle rammings, but there’s been precious little justice. And new laws could make accountability even scarcer. (SLBoston Globe)
posted by box at 12:39 PM PST - 28 comments

Why sanctions are a bad idea

An overview of sanctions-- they impoverish the public where they're applied even if there's an effort to target a few high status people. This kills people. [more inside]
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 12:26 PM PST - 11 comments

Why is Kim Kitsuragi so cool?

Code 31 - Emergency on the Dance Floor feat. STORMZY - VOSSI BOP
posted by OverlappingElvis at 12:00 PM PST - 5 comments

The tamale tastes like home

As a side note… I am really annoyed by one thing about Star Trek. “Replicated food is not as good as real food.” That’s ridiculous. In Star Trek, replicator technology is part of the same tech tree as transporters. Replicated food would be identical to the food it was based on, down to the subatomic level. Tumblr user aqueerkettleoffish inadvertently sparks a conversation: what about food makes it good, if not its chemical composition?
posted by sciatrix at 10:24 AM PST - 149 comments

I can tell by the pixels

Bellingcat offers a beginners guide to investigating the accuracy and provenance of images shared on social media (or elsewhere), with detailed examples.
posted by eotvos at 8:16 AM PST - 36 comments

From idyllic rural foraging life to packaged river snail noodles...

"She drew millions of TikTok followers by selling a fantasy of rural China. Then politics intervened." On camera, Li Ziqi, one of China’s most darling vloggers, lives a peaceful, enviably pastoral life. [...]But in reality, Li Ziqi is a complicated brand. Although she has created a virtual escape from the technological ills of modernity, her success is built around the very things that her lifestyle rejects. [more inside]
posted by vespertinism at 6:33 AM PST - 28 comments

Together in Electric Dreams

As the Christmas season begins with the traditional reveal of the annual John Lewis advert (history and background), so another generation hears a version of the 1984 song Together in Electric Dreams (extended version). This year's cover is sung by Lola Young (YouTube). The original featured in Electric Dreams (trailer), a love triangle film dedicated to the memory of UNIVAC I, and was a collaboration between composer Giorgio Moroder and singer Phil Oakey from the 80s synthpop band Human League (live The Things That Dreams Are Made Of and 2012 remaster). Together in Electric Dreams is regularly sung on tours by the group. A 2020 cover by The Leaf People. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore at 4:43 AM PST - 20 comments

Genetically Isolated, Culturally Cosmopolitan

Bronze Age Tarim mummies aren't who scientists thought they were [more inside]
posted by chavenet at 2:29 AM PST - 8 comments

November 3

Top 13 Cities in the World for Bicyclists

Amsterdam and Copenhagen are the obvious choices. But Provincetown, MA and Missoula, MT are on this list too?
posted by folklore724 at 8:03 PM PST - 47 comments

The Posthuman Dog

If humans disappeared tomorrow, about 1 billion dogs would be left on their own. […] Although many people, when asked to picture a dog, will think of a furry companion curled up on the couch by a human’s side or walking on the end of a leash, research suggests that roughly 20 per cent of the world’s dogs live as pets, or what we call ‘intensively homed dogs’. The other 80 per cent of the world’s dogs are free-ranging, an umbrella term that includes village, street, unconfined, community, and feral dogs. In other words, most dogs on the planet are already living on their own, without direct human support within a homed environment.
[more inside]
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:48 PM PST - 70 comments

Maine voters reject hydropower transmission line

Maine voters reject transmission line: Bangor Daily News, CTV. Hydro Quebec has a deal to supply Massachusetts with hydropower, and the transmission line would run through Maine - but a combination of environmentalists and energy competitors campaigned against it, and in a referendum, close to 60% of voters opposed it. [more inside]
posted by russilwvong at 3:29 PM PST - 64 comments

"All that alchemy of tree and climate, genius and history."

Rebecca Campbell (previously) has won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short science fiction of 2020 for "An Important Failure". It's a novelette "full of longing & fear for the woods" and "about creation in the face of climate change". Campbell's surveillance-focused "Such Thoughts are Unproductive" similarly resonates with fear and longing. Many of the other nominees are also available to read free online.
posted by brainwane at 2:22 PM PST - 7 comments

No Jetpacks Yet, Jack

The mysterious LAX jetpack pilot (previously) is revealed to be Jack Skellington.
posted by chavenet at 1:59 AM PST - 30 comments

Thirty Five maps that simplify world history

Thirty Five interesting maps that explain different facets of world history. Shows the extent of the Roman, Viking and Mongol Empires. Other maps are on the slavery states, World War 2 and many other topics. Definitely worth a visit if you like browsing maps. [more inside]
posted by Narrative_Historian at 1:47 AM PST - 28 comments

November 2

Mundane Halloween

Costumes so ordinary they need to be explained. [more inside]
posted by toastyk at 9:30 PM PST - 24 comments

chart junk? more like chart hunk!!!

Declutter and Focus. This is your data viz mission, if you choose to accept it. A study on effective data communication (aka chart design) from the Visual Thinking Lab at Northwestern University via Policy Viz
posted by spamandkimchi at 6:09 PM PST - 17 comments

The United Sceptics of America

Red and Blue Americans are baffled by each other. Each tends to characterize the other as a monolith. But we both share something bigger than ourselves: A government that we have little faith in. The two sides blame each other for this state of affairs, but we shouldn’t “underplay the extent to which the American political system was designed by people who were distrustful of government.” [more inside]
posted by Violet Blue at 4:57 PM PST - 72 comments

Have you checked your line width lately?

NaNoWriMo Trick: Forget About Comic Sans, Do This Instead. "Critical Kate" Willært, who recently went into a detailed overview of the Porno Hustlers Of The Atari Age discusses an alternative to the trick of switching your writing font to Comic Sans to improve your writing that resurfaces every NaNoWriMo.
posted by papineau at 4:38 PM PST - 12 comments

enough

So there's this story about the novelists Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller attending a party together. The party is an extremely lavish affair hosted by a billionaire and Vonnegut says to Heller, Joe, isn't it funny that our host makes more money in a day than you ever made from your beloved best-selling novel, Catch-22? And Heller is like, yeah, that is funny but I have something our host will never have. And Vonnegut says, what's that? And Heller says, enough (SLYT 3:59)
posted by Glinn at 4:02 PM PST - 10 comments

Peloton classes are coming to your next Delta flight

The classes range in length from five minutes to 20 minutes and will help passengers relax, stretch or fall asleep.
posted by folklore724 at 3:51 PM PST - 18 comments

"the now-expected upwelling of frustration tinged with hysteria"

Two short scifi stories about accommodating disability. "Metal and Flesh" by Marie Vibbert is darker: "Five stitched the cloth with a single thread in the human way." "Fractured" by Aimee Kuzenski is more triumphant eventually, but starts: "Since the shuttle accident that broke my brain, getting out of bed is like marshalling a poorly-trained and easily-distracted army. Turns out I’m not a good general."
posted by brainwane at 2:09 PM PST - 4 comments

Hook yourself a fish from the comfort of your home

Voyageurs National Park has released its first official crochet pattern: a walleye. [more inside]
posted by egregious theorem at 1:01 PM PST - 13 comments

Quakers... in... SPACE... (and time, and alternate realities)

The November issue of the American Quaker magazine Friends Journal is dedicated to speculative fiction and sci-fi. If you're a fan of The Dazzle of Day, read on! [more inside]
posted by Cash4Lead at 11:10 AM PST - 13 comments

Poison in the Air

ProPublica undertook an analysis that has never been done before. Using advanced data processing software and a modeling tool developed by the Environmental Protection Agency, we mapped the spread of cancer-causing chemicals from thousands of sources of hazardous air pollution across the country between 2014 and 2018. The result is an unparalleled view of how toxic air blooms around industrial facilities and spreads into nearby neighborhoods.
[more inside]
posted by infinite intimation at 9:22 AM PST - 13 comments

Can Data Die?

Why One of the Internet’s Oldest Images Lives On Without Its Subject’s Consent By Jennifer Ding with Jan Diehm and Michelle McGhee. "When one of the only women this well referenced, respected, and remembered in your field is known for a nude photo that was taken of her and is now used without her consent, it inevitably shapes the perception of the position of women in tech and the value of our contributions." previously, previously, previously.
posted by bq at 9:14 AM PST - 37 comments

How good are face masks, really?

Massive Random-Controlled Trial of Face-Mask Protection against COVID-19 "Critics of mask mandates have cited the lack of relevant randomized clinical trials, which assign participants at random to either a control group or an intervention group. But the latest finding is based on a randomized trial involving nearly 350,000 people across rural Bangladesh." [more inside]
posted by storybored at 8:36 AM PST - 67 comments

Cartoon Modern, free at last

Animation Obsessive has released a high-quality PDF of Amid Amidi's out-of-print classic Cartoon Modern.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 6:47 AM PST - 16 comments

November 1

Little moments where our ancestors loved & complained

Monk Hermann von Reichenau wrote a chronicle for the year 1021 which ends "My brother Werner was born on November 1." (I assume that's "Werinharius frater meus Kalend. Novem. nascitur." in this text; I don't read Latin.) Happy birthday, Werner! Also: A typical complaint fielded by Babylonian administrators: “I am not getting water for my sesame field. The sesame will die. Don’t tell me later, ‘You did not write to me.’ The sesame is visibly dying. Ibbi-Ilabrat saw it. That sesame will die, and I have warned you." As flglmn notes: "one of those moments where you absolutely feel the kinship of all human beings every where and at all times".
posted by brainwane at 2:08 PM PST - 55 comments

a bridge between the living and the dead

Ofelia Esparza, artist and altarista, speaks with Yes! Magazine on Día de los Muertos altars in the year 2021 (bonus video; bonus photo essay). "The first death, is the day that we give our last breath, the day that we die. And the second death is the day that we are buried, never to be seen on the face of the Earth again. And the third, but the most dreaded death of all, is to be forgotten." (transcript from the National Endowment for the Arts) [more inside]
posted by spamandkimchi at 12:29 PM PST - 6 comments

“The things we do for the orange Jesus”

Bloodshed (Over thirty Washington Post reporters and contributors provide the most detailed accounting of January 6 yet published, 10/31/21.)
posted by box at 10:44 AM PST - 89 comments

The Skill-Luck Continuum

Untangling Skill and Luck "For almost two centuries, Spain has hosted an enormously popular Christmas lottery. Based on payout, it is the biggest lottery in the world and nearly all Spaniards play. In the mid 1970s, a man sought a ticket with the last two digits ending in 48. He found a ticket, bought it, and then won the lottery. When asked why he was so intent on finding that number, he replied, “I dreamed of the number seven for seven straight nights. And 7 times 7 is 48.” " Outcomes from many activities—including sports, business, and investing—are the combination of skill and luck. Most people recognize that skill and luck play a role in results, yet they have a poor sense of the relative contribution of each. The ability to properly untangle skill and luck leads to much better thinking about most day-to-day outcomes, and allows for sharply improved decision-making." [more inside]
posted by storybored at 8:01 AM PST - 71 comments

"I think I’m going to be fired" - Bird of the Year spokesperson

New Zealand's Bird of the Year contest (previously) has always been a source of drama. 2019 before last saw claims of Russian election-meddling in the results; 2018's winner - the kererū pigeon - routinely turn up drunk. But nothing could have prepared us for the controversy of this year's announcement that New Zealand Bird of the Year 2021 is... the long-tailed bat. [more inside]
posted by avapoet at 2:32 AM PST - 32 comments