Site Update #5 is up, and Fundraising Month continues!

Barre Vermont has some of the loveliest granite around. The stone, which comes from some equally lovely quarries, was worked by Italian immigrants many of whom were Socialist entrepreneurs. Their legacy is visible in work by new artists in Barre's Art Stroll and especially in Barre's Hope Cemetery where many of them created their own headstones. A recent addition is the 1918 Spanish Flu Memorial (archived link), erected by local restaurant owners whose roadside eatery, the Wayside, just reopened after closing for its second pandemic in its 102 year history.
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In Among Us (Windows/iOS/Android), you’re part of a crew working together to complete tasks across a station, but 1-3 players are impostors looking to sabotage the team’s efforts, ideally killing everyone in the process (yes, like Mafia). To survive, the crew needs to figure out who the impostors are. Despite launching in 2018, the game took two years before exploding in popularity, largely thanks to a Twitch stream that went viral. Among Us has inspired plenty of fan art, and is so successful (1.5 million concurrent players!) the devs have cancelled the sequel to focus on the original game.
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"The Hasperat has his eyes watering." fresne's fanfic short story "Parts Unknown: Bajor" takes Anthony Bourdain on a tour of Deep Space Nine and the planet Bajor. Includes commercial breaks: "Some of the inspiration for the sponsor breaks come from some conversations I’ve been having with friends about what a Star Trek show that wasn’t about Starfleet would be like." (Bourdain fanfic previously.) [more inside]
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Long-Concealed Records Show Trump’s Chronic Losses and Years of Tax Avoidance [NY Times]. Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750. [more inside]
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[NYTimes] [SFGate non-paywalled]
Baugh was convinced that there was a sinister relationship between the Steiners and Fidomaster — that they were actively conspiring to damage eBay. (He even indulged a theory that Fidomaster was the Steiners’ secret alter ego.) Eight days after Wenig’s “take her down” message, a member of the security team flew across the country and drove to the Steiners’ home, a steeply roofed charmer on a quiet street. On their fence, prosecutors say, he scrawled the word “FIDOMASTER.”
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The Clemson University Media Forensics Hub presents: Spot the Troll: A quiz and analysis of social media trolls originating from Russia. Train your filter. [more inside]
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In which a photograph for ordinations deep in the heart of Somerset at Wells Cathedral, which is explained, sparks off a Twitter thread of some derivation and (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) analogy and metaphor. Just out of view, and the post title.
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88Kasyo Junrei (八十八ヶ所巡礼) is a three-piece Japanese rock band. The band’s name refers to a Buddhist pilgrimage that involves visiting eighty-eight temples on the island of Shikoku. Their music videos can be spellbinding but also kind of weird. Their songs deal with afterlife disorientation, the tenuousness of sanity, and, apparently, demons living in a Kowloon arcade. The band has a mascot, o-henro-san, who graces their album covers and appears in one rather trippy video. [more inside]
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In How Can We Pay for Creativity in the Digital Age? (The New Yorker), Hua Hsu reviews William Deresiewicz's new book, The Death of the Artist: How Creators Are Struggling to Survive in the Age of Billionaires and Big Tech (Bookshop). Deresiewicz writes artists “do deserve to get paid for doing something you love, something other people love ... Wanting to get paid does not mean that you’re a capitalist ... It doesn’t even mean that you assent to capitalism. It only means that you live in a capitalist society.” [more inside]
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Three scifi/fantasy stories about surprising connections with animals. "Fetch" by David Moles is a melancholy alt-history about trying to rescue Laika. "St. Ailbe's Hall" by Naomi Kritzer (part 2) portrays a priest overcoming prejudice while figuring out how to deal with a new sentient dog in his congregation. And "The Night Sun" by Zin E. Rocklyn (published this year) is a dark but ultimately triumphant story of a couple's weekend trip to a cabin gone horribly sideways. (Content note for danger or harm to animals in all three stories.)
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Yes bear lovers, it's that time of year again. Prepare yourselves for Katmai National Park and Preserve's Fat Bear Week 2020! [more inside]
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During this time, you had a lot of new characters that were more “extreme” and “edgy.” Some may disparage them now as really “‘90s” characters, but they were really fresh at the time. Carnage, in particular, is a product of the 1990s, and I think that’s clear due to the violence of the character and because he’s just a more extreme version of Venom, who was already kind of extreme. Carnage was very much a “turned up to 11” kind of character. An Oral History of ‘Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage’ [MEL]
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Jurek Owsiak is a Polish radio and TV journalist, a stained glass maker, and a licensed psychotherapist. In 1993, he encouraged his listeners to collect funds for a collapsing pediatric cardiac surgery unit. That project grew into the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity (WOŚP / Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy) which does an annual fund drive. 92% of the money collected goes to purchase medical equipment which provides every diabetic child in Poland with a free insulin pump, funds universal hearing screening for infants/newborns, buys modern medical equipment for struggling hospitals. The second Sunday of January is a day-long nationwide colorful public fundraising holiday with 120,000 volunteers distributing collection boxes, street musicians, and a telethon, culminating in a Grand Finale concert and Light in the Sky laser and fireworks display. In the summer the organization organizes "Polish Woodstock" (YT playlist) as a thank you to all its volunteers.
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Has your kitty cultivated their core competencies and licked the competition? Do they proactively pounce on priority projects? Are they clawing their way to the top of the corporate ladder, or have you found that their attention to de tail somewhat lacking, and their track record littered with catastrophes and faux paws? Now's the time to let them know, because for Metafilter's fourth September fundraising chatfilter post, janepanic has asked us all to give our cats their yearly Purrformance Review!
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Austrian Wood Providing Answer to World's Concrete Problem - "For Austrian timber merchants, who cover about half the world's CLT demand, the material is a bridge linking the digital age to three centuries of forest management begun by Hapsburg Empress Maria Theresia. She saw Austria's forests as a national-security resource and mandated strict sustainability laws." [more inside]
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Possibly the smartest voter information website on the internet. "In the middle of the pandemic, while many of us were out of work- we decided that we wanted to help influence the election! Angela, our fearless director, thought it would be a great idea to have exotic dancers from some of Atlanta’s finest gentlemen’s clubs to tell their patrons and fans to ‘Get their booties to the poll!’" [more inside]
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Techades quiz: guess the gadget from its illustration. Fair warning: the correct answers permit a broad category for some devices but require a precise manufacturer and model number for others. Discovered via Belong. [more inside]
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2020 has not been the best year in which to see live comedy. The anarchic atmosphere, audience feedback and off the cuff retorts are difficult to reproduce in an online stream. Some comedians have realised this and decided not to attempt it, instead working out new ways to create interactive comedy online. Sean Morley currently runs a crowd sourced 'Meme Machine' on Wednesdays and a fully democratised attempt to make the pope a bear in Crusader Kings II on Saturdays. Foxdog Studios have tried live interactive bolt sorting, and now perform live coding in 'Make a website in an hour' on Thursdays and tidying up a room in 'Sorting out the Banished Realm'. Jain Edwards is doing computer puzzles while drinking tombola wine. [more inside]
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Two fantasy stories: "La Bête" by Leah Bobet (audio), published this year. "It would require work to make the château habitable; the Dowager had confined herself, in the end, to the library, kitchen, and a small suite of rooms, and the rest was in disrepair." "The Huntsman and the Beast" by Carrie Vaughn, originally published 2018. "Jack said, 'Then take me. I will serve. Let him go and take me instead, please.' The beast hesitated, and that told Jack he might have a chance. 'I swear to you I will stay in his place, but you must let him go free.'"
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In the Land of Kush by Isma'il Kushkush, with photos by Matt Stirn, is an essay about the kingdom on the Nile that was the southern neighbor of Pharaonic Egypt. If you want to see more photos, Valerian Guillot has put pictures from his 2016 trip online. The Kushites spoke Meriotic, which had two scripts. Ibrahim M. Omer's Ancient Sudan website has a wealth of information about the history, people and the land of Kush. Archaeological excavations keep unearthing new material. Charles Q. Choi wrote about a recent find of Meroitic inscriptions and in 2009 Geoff Emberling wrote about the race to explore sites which were submerged when the Merowe Dam was constructed.
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"This is a web page that you just opened from an image file. Weird, huh? The image you loaded is a png image file, but it's a special kind of png. It's a powfile. POW stands for Packaged Offline/online Webpage. It turns out the png format includes ways to save metadata alongside the image file. A powfile has a metadata entry that contains a zip file that contains a full website. You're viewing this now in the Pow Player, which uses some handy modern browser features to treat this single file like a real website, with links, regular forward/back browsing, javascript, resource loading, etc. Ok, sure. But why?" [more inside]
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Cyrus Farivar on how casino-like apps have drained people of millions. Following a $155 million class-action settlement against Big Fish Games, two million players will be eligible to get a small part of their losses back, but the company is just one example of the convergence of the small-time harmless fun of video games and the rapidly expanding world of real-money gambling. [more inside]
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In a new video, Carlos Maza discusses the history and impact of something he calls "anti-politics" - the campaign to demonize the government as a threat to liberty in order to increase corporate power while disguising it. (SLYT) [more inside]
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In 2018, indie pop weirdos MGMT released "Me and Michael," which went on to be an instant chart-topping smash hit with licensed products galore: shampoos, pregnancy kits, bespoke pinkphones. Only it turned out the song was plagiarized from "Ako at si Michael," a classic track from True Faith, a band from Manila in the Philippines. The original track sparked a brief revival of OPM - original Pinoy music - which brought to light the blatant theft. Instead of bringing legal action against MGMT, True Faith reached out to the duo and proposed a collaboration on a new track titled "Me and Michael," a tribute to actor Michael Buscemi who stars in the video. CW: some graphic Cronenbergian body horror in the first link.
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Confused about CA's propositions on the ballot? CalMatters has you covered. CalMatters is a non-profit, non-partisan newsroom committed to explaining California policy and politics. For 2020, they've created a guide to all of the propositions on this year's ballot. [more inside]
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Alan Resnick answers a pressing question: “What Codec Should I Use?”
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Like most amusement parks, Oakland's Children's Fairyland is experiencing financial difficulties caused by the COVID-19 shutdown. On Saturday, September 26, Fairyland will debut “Celebrity Storytime,” a digital series of fairytales read by well-known Oaklanders. Although the tales are being made available to the public free of charge, Fairyland is also using the launch as a fundraiser and asking for donations. Oakland-born artists Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs will co-host and emcee the evening of readings by celebrities and teachers from diverse communities in Oakland and the Bay Area. [more inside]
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Sohla El-Waylly makes 18th Century Mac & Cheese in her new show: Stump Sohla [previously]
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The Case for Black American Self-Defense. "Pacifist injunctions obliterate the history of, and need for, armed protection. The Black tradition of organized, armed self-defense should be regarded as one of the many tools in the repertoire of modern protest movements." [more inside]
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“One of the things that we talk about a little bit less inside the company is that ... the community we serve tends to be, on average, ideologically a little bit more conservative than our employee base,” Zuckerberg said. “Maybe ‘a little’ is an understatement. … If we want to actually do a good job of serving people, [we have to take] into account that there are different views on different things, and that if someone disagrees with a view, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re hateful or have bad intent.” [SLTheVerge]
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In the end, Sign O' The Times was a Frankenstein's monster, stitched together from the remains of three completed, but discarded albums: Dream Factory, Camille and the triple-disc Crystal Ball set. Now, 33 years on, Prince's estate is releasing an expanded version of Sign O' The Times which includes 45 unreleased tracks from the recording sessions. To get a better understanding of how it came together, here's a history of the record and its subsequent tour, featuring new and archive interviews from the musicians who were there, and some of Prince's most famous fans. Prince's Sign O' The Times: An oral history [BBC] [more inside]
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Where Matt Hancock, the UK minister for health, struggles to clarify one of the latest guidelines/rules for Covid-19, namely that you can only have sex with someone who lives outside of your household in England if you are in an established relationship, but what is an established relationship? How does this differ from casual bonking? Local variation exist: in Manchester, non-established couples cannot have sex at home but can in a hotel. For safety, the THT cautions against 'blow jobs and rimming' but for 'masturbation, using sex toys and phone or cam sex', but to limit your number/rota of partners. It is unclear how the new laws affect the Dogging or Swinging communities. Previously: “Coronavirus is making everyone polyamorous, in a sense.”
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Critical Distance supports conversations about games criticism through weekly roundups, critical compilations (Breath of the Wild, Dishonored, Kentucky Route Zero, Metroid’s Samus Aran) and its podcast. [more inside]
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King Of The Vegetable Realm: Giri Nathan (previously) talks to Medwyn Williams, competitive gardener and winner of 12 consecutive Gold Medals at the Chelsea Flower Show (canceled this year due to the pandemic).
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"Tierra y libertad" by Madeline Ashby is a short scifi story about "a robot rebellion in the pistachio fields." Published in MIT Technology Review in 2018. “I have protocols for that.” Dash made for the door. She flashed her watch. “I’m the analyst in charge. The mind in that vault is my op.”
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How Norfolk, Virginia Is Using Tax Breaks to Demolish Black Neighborhoods - "Paul Riddick, the only member of Norfolk's eight-member city council to repeatedly vote against aspects of the redevelopment effort, has a different take. 'Because of institutional and systemic racism, the African-American community is going to be pushed out again', he says. 'This is nothing but gentrification'. Riddick, whose ward includes St. Paul's, figures that if the plan goes through, the share of Norfolk's population that is Black will dwindle from more than 40% now into the mid-30% over the next 10 years." [more inside]
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"Knitting has the most marvelous ability to free up the knitter as a human being, while masquerading as innocent knitting": Clara Parkes and Sarah White write about the knitting designer Cat Bordhi, who died this month.
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I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living": How a Sean Feucht worship service convinced me I am no longer an evangelical
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How Humanity Came to Contemplate Its Possible Extinction: A Timeline is precisely, as they say, what it says on the tin. A history of ideas that led to the modern concept of extinction - and how it inevitably applies to ourselves. Careful not to have too much fun reading! [more inside]
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Begun in 2017 by Professor Kimberly M. Jenkins, the Fashion and Race Database "provides an accessible, academic treatment to one of fashion’s most critical topics facing us today."
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The Election That Could Break America: "There is a cohort of close observers of our presidential elections, scholars and lawyers and political strategists, who find themselves in the uneasy position of intelligence analysts in the months before 9/11. As November 3 approaches, their screens are blinking red, alight with warnings that the political system does not know how to absorb. They see the obvious signs that we all see, but they also know subtle things that most of us do not. Something dangerous has hove into view, and the nation is lurching into its path." Longread article from the coming issue of The Atlantic spins out the signs and scenarios, including the potential for state legislatures to end-run the Electoral College. [more inside]
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Sirin Kale has written a lengthy article in The Guardian revealing new research and new conversations around dyslexia. Kale talks to experts both iconoclastic and established in a report inspired by a local controversies in Staffordshire and Warwickshire of how to classify and respond to the diagnosis of dyslexia. [more inside]
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The Codex Zouche-Nuttall is a pre-Columbian document of Mixtec pictography, one of six known to survive. The codex is named for two women: Baroness Zouche, its donor and Zelia Nuttall, who first published it in 1902. Nuttall was a Mexican-American archaeologist who "investigated Mexico’s past to give recognition and pride to its present" at a time when Western archaeology was still obsessed with racist caricatures of Indigenous people. Shortly after publishing the Codex with a lengthy introduction, Nuttall moved to live full-time in Mexico as a single mother and towards the end of her life advocated for the revival of Mexican New Year traditions that had been eradicated after Spanish conquest. Aztec New Year is still celebrated in Mexico today. [more inside]
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