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"Why is a typeface named Jim Crow? In the digital era we use typography effortlessly, scrolling through hundreds of options, serif and sans serif, bold and thin, choosing fonts for their aesthetics and legibility. Oftentimes software makes font choices for us, and we go along with the default. It can be easy to think of typography as neutral, disassociated from politics and culture. But of course, typography is made by people, and thus cannot be separated from human history." Sarah K. Kramer on typography, race and the story of J for Jim Crow (The Believer). [more inside]
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In 2006, John Cameron Mitchell (writer and director of Hedwig and the Angry Inch) released Shortbus, a movie that famously features a whole lot of unsimulated sex. Mark Harris revisits the early days of the making of that film. (NSFW)
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What happened at The Root? Since April, 15 of the site's 16 staffers have quit—the latest in a series of collapses at G/O Media, most recently the AV Club and Jezebel, formerly Deadspin (previously). See also: the mass deletion of pictures from posts across G/O Media in October. For more context, you'd have to go back to the death of the site that eventually became G/O Media: Gawker Was Murdered by Gaslight, and How Things Work (also previously). [more inside]
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… for some very important information. Our train, up until just now, consisted of two parts going to different destinations… (SLYT, audio in German, English subtitles available)
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"The thousands of hikers who brave Hungary’s Blue Trail each year must face down unexpected obstacles, a bureaucratic, socialist-era stamp system, and a litany of rules. Which begs the obvious question: why bother at all?" [more inside]
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Justice Stephen Breyer to retire from US Supreme Court. Justice Breyer’s retirement, at 83, will give President Biden the opportunity to name a new justice.
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Alex Falcone has nothing to hide [SLTikTok]
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This is a museum of baseball history. What purpose does that museum serve when it purges entire pieces of history from its walls? You’ve ripped the guts out of the thing and left it as not only a dry branding exercise, but a culturally irrelevant one. Only the weirdos who file FCC complaints about vulgarities during the Super Bowl halftime show would ever want to visit it. from By Leaving Out SF Giants Legend Barry Bonds, the Baseball Hall of Fame Finally Signs its Own Death Certificate by Drew Magary [more inside]
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The description of the property in the listing (“Sharswood”, Circa 1820. On ten acres in Virginia. $220,000) 2 years ago (“There is an old farm office on the property. Would make a cute guest house!”) reads different now: “An old Virginia plantation, a new owner and a family legacy unveiled.” (Washington Post, similar text at Tell Us USA.)
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Next thing I know I have this 50 ton whale coming right at me, and I'm thinking "Oh my God. Stop, I just saved you." Yeah, she's rising up towards me. And I'm just thinking this is going to hurt, and, uh, when she was only inches away from my chest... She stopped. And pushed me on the chest backwards, and then released me, and then kind of pushed again, and then release, and pushed again, and again. And then she swam up right next to me, puts her head up above the water so that her eye was above the water, and then came up and looked directly at me... for what felt like 30 seconds, she just stared...

James Moskito's account [more inside]
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Promises is a 2021 studio album by British electronic musician Sam Shepard, aka Floating Points, and American jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. [more inside]
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The Biography of the Pixel - The Elementary Particle of Pictures "I have billions of pixels in my cellphone, and you probably do too. But what is a pixel? Why do so many people think that pixels are little abutting squares? Now that we’re aswim in an ocean of zettapixels (21 zeros), it’s time to understand what they are. The underlying idea – a repackaging of infinity – is subtle and beautiful. Far from being squares or dots that ‘sort of’ approximate a smooth visual scene, pixels are the profound and exact concept at the heart of all the images that surround us – the elementary particles of modern pictures." An essay by Alvy Ray Smith, one of the early founders of Pixar. [more inside]
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Elizabeth Sandifer suggests that we are now experiencing a "clear aesthetic shift in how sci-fi works" in observations that started as this Twitter thread. She notes "Diversity as an underlying assumption....A massive dollop of fanfic and romance influence....It’s stylistically a big tent" and suggests the prospective name "Tor Wave." (Followup comments from Sandifer.) A related conversation about the label "squeecore" started with an episode of the Rite Gud podcast (transcript) and has drawn responses from Doris V. Sutherland - "'Squeecore' and the Cartoon Mode in SF/F", Camestros Felapton - "Is there a dominant mode of current science fiction?", Cora Buhlert - "Science Fiction Is Never Evenly Distributed" & "More on the Squeecore Debate", and Simon McNeil - "Notes on Squeecore". [more inside]
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"The dwindling number of Black and Latino students at these high schools is a great concern and a mystery. Bill de Blasio, when he was mayor of New York, suggested the heart of the problem." "That does not reckon with history. Decades ago, when crime and socioeconomic conditions were far graver than they are today, Black and Latino teenagers passed the examination in great numbers. In 1981, nearly two-thirds of Brooklyn Tech’s students were Black and Latino, and that percentage hovered at 50 percent for another decade." [NYT link]
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The Snowflake Mystery - "I've done a lot of my career in astronomy and astrophysics. Nobody ever asks you what it's good for, I mean, never. Not even once did anyone say, 'What are those black holes gonna be used for?' No, 'Saturn's rings, why do you care about Saturn's rings? What's the motivation for studying Saturn?' nobody asks that. Every time I give a talk, people are like, 'What are you doing? What on earth is this for?' I'll tell you the real reason, the real reason that I got into this. You look at a snowflake and you kind of go, 'Um, actually, (laughs) we don't have any idea how that works.' Well, that doesn't work. We have to know how that works, dammit!" [more inside]
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American photographer Steve Schapiro has died. Never heard of him? You've probably seen his work: MLK, Ali, Robert Kennedy, James Baldwin, the American Civil Rights movement, John Lewis, Midnight Cowboy, Brando, Magritte, Warhol and Sedgewick, De Niro, Bowie, Ike & Tina Turner. [more inside]
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All Eyes on You So you wish to fight street crime but you want to maintain your privacy for reasons. [more inside]
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What happens when cartoons try to make cartoons and fail? This. I Like Pink (1994). Wacky Delly (1996). Dedede: Comin' At Ya! (2002/2003). Handsome Keroro (2004 - skip to 48:53). Mint's Hints (2011).
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⋈ The Armed are an anonymous hardcore punk collective from Detroit. Their latest album Ultrapop scored an 8.2 on Pitchfork. This is the video for WHERE MAN KNOWS WANT (live). This is ALL FUTURES (Live).
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Marcel Duchamp archives have been put online by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and two international institutions.
The Archives; over 20,000 documents and nearly 800 museum exhibits all zoomable. Enjoy.
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It's been nearly a decade since we last saw it, so why not take another starlit stroll through the Planetarium and Projector Science Museum.
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Crowdfunding site Kickstarter made all sorts of creative people (artists, game designers, musicians, etc) despair when they announced they were moving to the blockchain. [more inside]
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You Are Not Owed a Reason for Somebody's Abortion Caitlin Cruz writes about writing about reproductive rights: "No one owes us their reasons for having an abortion, and it is not our job to convey relief, give praise, or recoil at certain reasons for abortion if we do learn them." [more inside]
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Economists Behaving Badly. A senior economist at Stanford submits a paper to the Journal of Political Economy. It gets rejected. The story doesn't end there. Featuring: the University of Chicago free speech policy, "I do not negotiate with terrorists," uncertainty quantification. Via Andrew Gelman's blog.
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Australian university teacher Tegan Bennett Daylight on student mental health issues: "....20-something student Tom Paech described his generation as being “agonisingly well-informed” – a perfect phrase to describe young people who have “no means of remedying the situation, like the captain of a sinking ship who knows exactly where the hole is in the hull but has no way of plugging it”. Note his use of the word “captain”, which I know was partially unintentional. These young people don’t just feel like the crew on a sinking ship. They feel like they’re the captain, which suggests they are helplessly responsible while the ship goes down."
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"...I had to remember to breathe, and to blink. Hours passed. I stopped to finish my water and looked ahead to see our destination, a lake glittering in the far distance. Almost all Robinson’s novels involve an experience of this kind—a long, difficult, rocky journey through a mountain landscape, on Earth or elsewhere, accomplished through sustained concentration that lifts one out of time. The main thing is to start, then to keep going, finding your way one step at a time. It never occurs to you to stop. Even if the path isn’t set, the job before you is clear: you have to get down the mountain before dark."

The Best Case Scenario
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It slaps, it's funny, it's sharp as hell, and there's a cowboy and a Sims character in it. What more could you want? It's Love Online, by Bungalow Jonathan.
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Bookfeed.io is a no-frills way of following your favorite authors. You provide a list of writers you like, and Bookfeed generates an RSS feed with their new books. [more inside]
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Rare African script offers clues to the evolution of writing - "In a study just published in Current Anthropology, a team of researchers at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, showed that writing very quickly becomes 'compressed' for efficient reading and writing. To arrive at this insight they turned to a rare African writing system that has fascinated outsiders since the early 19th century."[1,2,3,4,5] [more inside]
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Line Goes Up is a very long, highly detailed, and meticulously researched investigation into and polemical take-down of the NFT and crypto scene by Dan Olson. [more inside]
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Denton Welch -- restorer of immaculate doll houses, painter, writer -- wrote for only eight years before passing away in his thirties. And yet in his short life, which stretched from England to Shanghai, he found himself at the heart of a web of writers from Roald Dahl to William Burroughs, crafting an acutely observed, quasi-colonialist, literature of personal and emotional displacement that ties together a sub-canon of the subaltern, sexually complex, and aesthetically charged. A role model to John Waters and influence on Auden, Forster, and Sitwell, his melancholy and dyspeptic presence seems right to recommend for a winter's read.
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Six minutes of trailcam inside and near a beaver lodge in Washington State. No background music or narration; background noises and explanatory text. No-one gets eaten. Furry beasts pass back and forth. [more inside]
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Treat yourself to almost forty minutes of exploring the raw tracks of the Bee Gee's 'Stayin Alive' and see how it is put together, courtesy of the Youtube channel Home Studio Simplified.
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Maryland football has a ceiling on how strong fan interest can become, as the school has to compete with two passionate NFL fan bases in Washington and Baltimore. So I've been baffled by the school's decision to invest so heavily in a sport where they have to contend with heavyweights like Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan in their own division.
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He's been seen on screen since 1950, starting with an appearance on Groucho Marx's 'You Bet Your Life' and at 92, is showing no signs of stopping now. The TCM host chatted with the actor with 445 credits on his IMDB page, for CBS Sunday Morning.
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What in the wet wonder of the watery world? Wait - a sea duck?!? NO. This is no duck. (How many ducks do you know who have their anus on their throat?) Intriguing, no? Well then slither your slender snipe self into the ---> [more inside]
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"....[Github's] Copilot doesn't just limit itself to code. It also likes to insert itself into my writing. So, as an experiment, I decided to let Copilot write a post for me."
Software is a complex business. It's a lot like a food industry. You can make a lot of food, but you can't make a lot of food without a lot of people. Software is the exact opposite. You can make a lot of people, but you can't make a lot of people without a lot of software.
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It's a fourth Free Thread and this is the one that has Alicia Silverstone in it I guess? I really hadn't planned this whole thing around the Warner Brothers run of Batman movies but it just sort of happened. Anyway, no link, no topic, just come on in and chatter about stuff. Oh, and if you're newish or lurkerish on MetaFilter or just feeling friendly, you should also stop by the Introduce Yourself thread over on MetaTalk and give a wave. [more inside]
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Thought old music was killing new music? Bandcamp's Essential Releases of the 2021 - just one of their extensive Best Of 2021 lists - and Soundcloud's 2021 Playback are here to prove you wrong.
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The Labor market is in disarray. Is what we're hearing the same thing we're experiencing? You Quit. I Quit. We All Quit. And It’s Not a Coincidence. What is work like for those of us outside of the media maelstrom? [more inside]
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As part of his postings on the blog Lawyers, Guns, and Money, labor historian Eric Loomis has a running series where he visits the graves of notable and infamous figures in American History. (Previously on the Blue.) Recently, he reached a major milestone, and thus the thousandth grave he visited was that of televangelist, "faith healer", and con man Oral Roberts. [more inside]
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A notorious sloth cartel kingpin vanished. I will admit that the headline is what hooked me, but the article is very worth a read - SLNatGeo story about how the pet and tourist trade is damaging the sloth population in Colombia and fuelling criminal cartel activity.
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