July 26, 2018
'Problematica' are fossils that are unclassified because "their remains are incomplete, they don’t bear a resemblance to any known form of life or they are just plain weird." They sit in dusty draws, hidden away in museum storage rooms, waiting for new discoveries to help with their identification (maybe).
An antidote to Shkreli-induced heart-rage: “The rhetoric that is espoused by people who defend intellectual property law is that this is theft. If you accept that axiomatically, then by the same logic when you withhold access to lifesaving medication that's murder. From a moral standpoint it's an imperative to enact theft to prevent murder.” So says Michael Laufer, the ringleader of the Four Thieves Vinegar Collective, [more inside]
Blood Moon 2018: Longest Total Lunar Eclipse of Century Occurs July 27. The longest eclipse of the century will be visible from Europe, Africa and the Middle East, as well as parts of Asia, Australia and South America. Lunar Eclipse 2018 Guide: When, Where
This is the story of how a most unusual piece of fanfiction was reviewed in The New Yorker by Anthony Bourdain. [more inside]
The Twitch streamers who spend years broadcasting to no one. An aspiring streamer needs to be performing at all times, even if nobody is watching, just in case someone happens to show up. [...] It’s a solitary practice where you have to pretend someone is listening, with no idea how long it might be before someone shows up, or if they ever will.
The Rabbit Hunt (2017) Every weekend, seventeen year old Chris and his family hunt rabbits during sugarcane field burning and harvesting in the Florida Everglades. [more inside]
Six months after being laid off by the Fort Collins Coloradoan, journalist Stephen Meyers started delivering mail for the USPS. Now returning to the writerly world, Meyers relays what he learned about America and himself during those two years as a Man of Letters.
Orra White Hitchcock (1796-1863) was one of the most remarkable women from a more egalitarian age of scientific study. She had a deep knowledge of botany, zoology and paleontology, and she was also an artist — though that “also” would have seemed unnecessary to her. She produced two albums of botanical illustrations, and later, as introductory materials for her husband’s classes, she diagramed volcanoes, sketched the skeletons of extinct fish and mammals, and drew undulant squids and octopuses on large cotton sheets. They’re all united at the American Folk Art Museum in “Charting the Divine Plan: The Art of Orra White Hitchcock,” a handsome and unexpectedly passionate exhibition on art, science and education in the early American republic.
Can you identify the breeds in a mutt? Darwin's Dogs, now Darwin's Ark, a project of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, and U-Mass Medical School, posted a quiz to help with their project in "conducting ancestry research on thousands of dogs, analyzing DNA saliva samples to tell us the genetic history of our canine companions." The Mutt Mix quiz was given to a self-selected group of participants, some with claimed expertise, some who just wanted to help out. Average users showed a 25% correct ID of at least one breed, self-described experts were only marginally better with a 28% correct response. How well would you do? Take the new Pup Quiz Hint: Wow, some dogs do not look like you think they would. [more inside]
“The stench of this scene is age-old,” wrote the German philosopher Ernst Bloch in 1935. For Bloch, the appearance of fascism in Europe was not the irruption of an unprecedented evil, but the expression of a deep-rooted structure in contemporary form; it unearths “a piece of fossilized moon,” shining down “a path which one strangely recalls.” Against the characterization of fascism as a unique horror, Bloch saw its orgies of cruelty as an uncanny return. “Old grotesque faces eerily arise […] the Nazi dances all night.” “Both hell and heaven,” Bloch moaned, “have been surrendered without a fight.” [more inside]
This indie tabletop role-playing game was released earlier this week in print. It features a bleak, lightly-sketched setting, and is touted as being ideal for people who want to play an RPG solo or co-operatively as a group, without the traditional game master. The PDF is free. [more inside]
Oh yes! The English are known for attributes such as cricket, tea, and national economic suicide. Perhaps less well known is their preference for intimacy within (or with) hedges. A mumsnet user asks for advice: “I'm so tempted to cough loudly or say something but for some reason I just keep quiet and feel weird listening to other people's sex noises.” Writers are the most notorious: “One year they actually hung signs up on the hedge in the hopes of discouraging him. It didn't work.” And if there's no-one around, then as a distressed topiarist (interview) observes: “I just peered out at about 04:30 in the morning and there was a guy on top of her and going through the motions of having sex with her.” In no-nonsense Scotland, they just remove the hedge.
Ollie and Harry are two young Scottish brothers who sent their Playmobil toy ship the Adventure on a trip around the world. With GPS tracking and some help from friendly people along the way, the boat has been at sea for nearly a year, making it more than 3700 miles, with stops in Denmark, Sweden, Mauritania and elsewhere. It was last tracked May 12 off the coast of Barbados, but ships are on the lookout. It's all part of the boys' epic list of 500 adventures.
American Academy of Pediatrics Says Some Common Food Additives May Pose Health Risks to Children. According to the statement in the August 2018 Pediatrics, “Food Additives and Child Health” (DOI link; published online July 23), some currently allowed chemicals may best be avoided--especially for children. The technical report can be read here (DOI link). [more inside]
The Aesthetics of Science Fiction. What does SciFi Look Like After Cyberpunk? In the first part of a two-part series, Rick Libeling examines how science fictional aesthetics have changed over time, and where he sees them heading now, starting with architecture, and specifically the rising use of Brutalist spaces. [more inside]
to swirl in a small centrifuge? Semen! Featuring: Sperm panic! -- actual research, and lack thereof -- research funding, and lack thereof -- Silicon Valley to the rescue! -- Do social factors influence your sperm counts? -- Awful men on the internet! -- and tiny home centrifuges.
“How do we negotiate the fact that we have a brilliant author who did some despicable things?” he told me. “And how do we make sure that while studying his work, we don’t inadvertently give the impression that the behaviors are somehow okay?” The question is thornier with Wallace than it would be for most of his contemporaries. Academics explain David Foster Wallace to me by Daniel Kolitz [more inside]
Every Tuesday at the Oregon Zoo, two tiny goats named after Supreme Court Justices visit the other animals. So far, Ruth and Sonia have met seals, a porcupine, elephants, Chupacabra, giraffes, a hornbill, penguins, river otters, and an aardvark.
While national programs haven’t been officially tallied, the research that exists shows library fitness is no small quirk. In 2014, the American Library Association found that about 23 percent of all public libraries offered a fitness class in the last year, while another survey from the same time learned that 37 percent of the libraries they reached out to offered yoga. More than 60 percent of North Carolina library systems offer fitness classes. There’s a lot left to understand about how and why librarians are focusing on physical health and wellness, but the most important thing to know is also the most obvious: The classes are needed.