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Ask Polly answers a question from a reader who asks "Why am I lazy? Why do I put off everything I don’t want to do? And why can’t I flip a switch and just be a goddamn adult?"
The Library of Congress has digitized its Popular Graphic Arts collection, nearly 14,000 19th century prints available in extremely high resolution public domain scans, searchable by subjects and browsable by thumbnails. You can read more about the work required to bring this collection to your computers on the library's blog. Below the fold, a few favorites to get you started. [more inside]
How far ahead of Apple Maps is Google Maps? A rather fascinating analysis of Google Maps' present and future, by Justin O’Beirne.
Geraldine DeRuiter from The Everywhereist likes to bake, so she decided to make the cinnamon roll recipe that accompanied Mario Batali's letter of apology for sexual harassment. The results may or may not make good eating, but I think they make good reading. accusations of harassment against Batali, previously)
It’s an intense and cult-ish thing to discover Pierce’s books as a young girl. For all their sorcerers and dragons, her books, at their core, are about young women growing up and figuring out who they are: how to be weird and stubborn and heroic and angry, how to deal with getting their periods, how to control their tempers, how to handle jealousy, how to decide whether to sleep with their best friends or their teachers, how to prevent pregnancy, how to navigate romantic relationships with men many years their seniors, how to challenge and defeat men many years their seniors, how to be women who don’t conform to the rigid expectations of their (entirely imaginary!) world and time.
The AI future that's already here. "What do our current, actually-existing AI overlords want?" In a speech to the 34th Chaos Communication Congress in Leipzig, MeFi's cstross offers some thoughts on our current dystopia and where it may be headed.
Katja Grace asks why, if humans have been "behaviorally modern" for about 50,000 years, did it take so long to invent rope (28,000 years ago), the wheel (at least 4000 BC) and writing (3000 BC)? As it turns out, there are a lot of possible answers.
Over the past few months, VCV Rack has been gaining an enormous amount of buzz and excitement in the electronic music production community. What is VCV Rack? It's a modular synthesizer (think: someone hunched over a mess of cables, patching them into jacks on an arcane-looking device to alter and modulate sound signals in complex ways). But it's virtual, and it runs entirely in your computer. If you want to get started with VCV right away, you're in luck: here's a gentle primer suitable for people who are new to modular synths. Or read on for more. [more inside]
Brain Cells Share Information With Virus-Like Capsules (slAtlantic) Turns out Burroughs was right. Language - and all long-term learning - really is a virus. Or rather, it depends on a strange, alien gene that now turns out to be co-opted from an ancient virus with striking similarities to HIV. It gets stranger: the same mechanism exists across vertebrates and insects, but was independently acquired. Genuinely mind-altering science that creates far more questions than it answers.
"Over the last 12 months, I have completely transformed my life in an effort to find love. I didn’t." One year after writing the essay, "When Can I Say I'll Be Alone Forever," Aimee Lutkin returns with another essay about being single. [more inside]
This is your latest installment in the Trump / U.S. Politics Megathread. Trump golfs on MLK day after urging Americans to celebrate it with volunteering; popularity among African Americans continues to plummet. Bannon subpoenaed to grand jury. Blowback continues on “Sh—holeGate”; CNN reporter expelled from press conference for asking about it. There are four years in a Presidential term of office (not many people know that).
Sci-fi writer Ted Chiang on how Silicon Valley misdiagnoses the AI threat: “The idea of superintelligence is such a poorly defined notion that one could envision it taking almost any form with equal justification: a benevolent genie that solves all the world’s problems, or a mathematician that spends all its time proving theorems so abstract that humans can’t even understand them. But when Silicon Valley tries to imagine superintelligence, what it comes up with is no-holds-barred capitalism.”
Einstein on the Beach, first performed in 1976, is the first of Philip Glass's "Portrait Trilogy," followed by Satyagraha (1980), loosely based on the life of Mahatma Gandhi and sung in Sanskrit, and Akhnaten (1984), based on the life and religious convictions of the pharaoh Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV) and sung in the original languages of the source material. Where Einstein was revolutionary for its music and its form, Satyagraha and Akhnaten were scaled down and more traditional operas due to performance and financial necessities, allowing them to become repertory operas since their premieres. Together, the trio have become a sort of modern 'Ring' Cycle. More thoughts on and samples from the operas below. [more inside]
Happy Meeple is a site where you can play a bunch of neat two-player board games, including the highly awarded Lost Cities and Keltis, the well-regarded Glastonbury and Hanamikoji, and many more, all for the low low price of zero dollars. There's a lobby where you can play against fellow humans, but also bots at several difficulty levels to take you on at each game.
#MeToo has reached China, sparking a small but growing protest movement within elite universities, concern and censorship from the country’s authoritarian rulers - and self-reflection within the small foreign journalist community regarding its own culture and reporting. [more inside]
Massive new data set suggests economic inequality is about to get even worse - "It shows the rich not only get richer, but they've gotten richer faster over the past 150 years. And as the acceleration continues, the working class will never catch up." (via) [more inside]