April 8, 2016
Science is desperate. It needs to believe itself honorable. It's threatened by the fact that it's not safe for so many of us. Period. It's just not safe.- A. Hope Jahren, in an interview about women in science and advancement in plant biology.
The mysterious and useful Vegetable Lamb of Tartary: a plant whose ripe seed-pods yield tiny live lambs. Or was it a plant growing in the shape of a full-size lamb, but with an umbilical tether to the ground? (Oh, and do you know about the barnacle goose?) A tale from the medieval science grapevine. [more inside]
A draft of a highly anticipated Senate encryption bill was leaked to The Hill late on Thursday night, sparking a swift backlash from technology and privacy groups even before the legislation has been introduced. [more inside]
He does not flip his bat after home runs. He does not insult the hard-working fans with talk about politics. He never takes more than one day at a time. As a result, he cannot exist without a foil to embody all those “flashy” or “hotheaded” or “provocative” things he is not. The foils, of course, have generally been black. But as the demographics of the sport have changed, so, too, has this dynamic.- Jay Caspian Kang on The Unbearable Whiteness of Baseball , and the decline of the sport's cultural relevance
Carlos Santana and his band Santana release their 24th album Santana IV next week. NPR offers up a first listen. It reunites most of the Woodstock-era band for the first time in 45 years.
In Erasmus' De Copia, "students learned how to vary a given idea in manifold ways by putting it into different forms and figures (developing copia, or abundance, of words and expressions). [...] Erasmus provided extended examples of copia in his text, the most famous of which includes several hundred variations upon the same, initially insipid sentence, 'Your letter pleased me greatly.'" [more inside]
A newly discovered way for cells to die "Everything about this death process is different from apoptosis," he says. "It looks different under the microscope, it requires different genes, and it has different kinetics."
Space X has successfully returned the first stage from their Dragon rocket! This is link to the video clip of the landing, here's a link to the launch. [more inside]
Previously on MeFi, a pair of then-graduate students, David Broockman and Joshua Kalla, uncovered that some highly-publicized research, claiming to show that brief conversations with gay canvassers could cause lasting changes in people's opinions on gay rights, was in fact fraudulent, and was based on fabricated data. However, whether or not there was in fact any grain of truth to that paper's claims remained to be seen. Recently, the same team that uncovered the fraud has published their own study, showing that canvassing can really be effective at durably increasing support for transgender rights. [more inside]
The (Mostly) Tragic History Of Video Game Adaptations. He watches them so we don't have to: Sep Gohardani looks back over the ignominious history of the video game adaptation. [more inside]
You may know him for his racy "V for Varoufakis" (previously). Or else, more recently, for his anti-counter-jingoistic "Be Deutsch!", or just as the laid-back "Laugengebäck" guy. But Jan Böhmermann's new brand of TV-satire is about to shake more than just Germany's belly. [more inside]
Courtney E. Smith writes on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's woman problem: out of 312 inductees, only 37 are women (or bands with women). No one inducted as an executive, manager, or producer is a woman. [more inside]
Aesthetically amusing alliterations, creative alternative spellings, commonplace words artfully arranged, and other names that are just plain fun to say. Presenting the top 100 Minor League player names of 2016.
An brief oral history of the time the New Jersey Nets almost changed their name to the New Jersey Swamp Dragons
RoboCup is a robotics competition featuring autonomous humanoid soccer-playing robots. The action may be a bit clunky at times, but there are some surprising moments. The project's goal is ambitious and maybe a bit threatening for fleshy carbon-based soccer players:
By the middle of the 21st century, a team of fully autonomous humanoid robot soccer players shall win a soccer game, complying with the official rules of FIFA, against the winner of the most recent World Cup.
on Grindr? [NSFW kinda]
The Burial Database of Enslaved African Americans is a project of the Periwinkle Initiative to identify and document often-unmarked cemeteries where the remains of enslaved people are interred. Now "in its infancy," it will aggregate submissions nationwide. People who know of a site can submit it online - an important task given that many are threatened by development and identified by local lore and memory alone.
Physics Fun is an Instagram account with short videos of physics, math and science 'toys.' An accompanying blog looks at some in more detail.
"The statistics tell us that changing the way we think of race and ethnicity in the theater will not be easy. Of Equity’s 50,823 active members, 68% identify themselves as Caucasian." -- Actors' Equity President Kate Shindle, on the Hamilton casting debacle, and the real problem of diversity in theatre. [more inside]
With the release of “Amoris Laetitia,” (.pdf) or “Joy of Love,” Pope Francis has called for the Catholic Church, as the Guardian puts it, to "revamp its response to modern family life." As the New York Times notes, the document "calls for priests to welcome single parents, gay people and unmarried straight couples who are living together....But Francis once again closed the door on same-sex marriage, saying it cannot be seen as the equivalent of heterosexual unions." [more inside]
Commemorative championship bullshit is a cottage industry that's latched onto sports both professional and amateur, not unlike a remora on the bottom of a shark. Only this remora wants to sell you a team-branded divot tool and adjustable baseball cap made of Chinese newspaper shreds: Which Alabama Commemorative Championship Knife Are You?
Run. Bike. Cheat? (NYT) A story about Julie Miller, an age-group winner at 2015 Ironman Canada, who appears to have cheated her way to "victory." Here is the related thread at the Slowtwitch forums.
The Knitting Reference Library, approximately 300 knitting books, ranging from the 1800s to the 1970s.
Content providers are in a double bind: readers don’t want to pay to read, but they also resist and resent the use of advertising and tracking software to generate income. While the introduction of subscription-only models has had mixed success, the UK newspaper The Independent recently shut down its print run, while the Guardian is cutting 250 jobs. Who'll pay to publish if we won't pay to read? [more inside]