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Jon Bois, author of MeFi-celebrated multimedia narrative 17776 and creator of Breaking Madden, Chart Party, and Pretty Good, has written dozens of pieces (fictional and nonfictional) about class, feminism, aging, sports, politics, wonder, education, and art. Following the jump, a collection of links. (previously) [more inside]
posted by brainwane at 11:27 AM Dec 10 2017 - 16 comments [72 favorites]

"A Muppet Family Christmas" is extremely my shit

The Muppet Christmas Carol is a beloved holiday classic, but many may not be as familiar with A Muppet Family Christmas, a television special broadcast in 1987 and 1989, but never released on home media in its original and complete version due to various rights issues. It's noteworthy as one of the few Muppet vehicles with appearances and references to characters from the four major franchises (The Muppet Show, Muppet Babies, Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock) and for featuring a cameo by Jim Henson as himself. You can watch John Lagomarsino explain why the special is extremely his shit. You can watch a version of the special via YouTube.
posted by girlmightlive at 8:31 AM Dec 10 2017 - 61 comments [63 favorites]

Be calmly aware that this may periodically expand, contract or combust.

"[Songs from the Edges] is a playlist of this week's top 100 or so fan discoveries from the 1500+ microgenres I help track at Spotify. Some of the styles you will know, some you won't. Some you won't like. Some may make you lunge towards the Skip button after 4 seconds. But see if you can keep yourself from hitting it quite yet. That song may sound weird, but there's a group of people somewhere for whom it's the most exciting thing happening right now. Maybe they have a point. " [more inside]
posted by peppercorn at 2:12 PM Dec 10 2017 - 9 comments [42 favorites]

The lines are all the same shape

A New Optical Illusion Was Just Discovered, And It's Breaking Our Brains - "Researcher Kohske Takahashi calls it the 'curvature blindness illusion' and it's very trippy." [more inside]
posted by kliuless at 11:12 PM Dec 9 2017 - 38 comments [39 favorites (37 in the past 24 hours)]

Margot met Robert on a Wednesday night…

“Cat Person” is a short story by Kristen Roupenian in the latest issue of The New Yorker. It’s about a brief modern relationship.
The magazine has also published an interview with Roupenian on the story. [more inside]
posted by Going To Maine at 12:49 PM Dec 9 2017 - 74 comments [53 favorites (30 in the past 24 hours)]

Josephine Baker, Hero

Dancer, French Resistance spy, Philanthropist, Civil Rights activist: she did it all. Her story is full of astonishing events. The main link is a good overview with some good videos, illustrating her spoofing stereotypes of "savages" and her comedic style. Then there's her cheetah, her rainbow tribe, her secret messages, her castle, her speech at the Washington March with Dr. King, her honors from the French government, and more. This next link is from a magazine for teenagers but the story on Ms. Baker is well done with a few details not in the main link. Hero [more inside]
posted by MovableBookLady at 11:49 AM Dec 10 2017 - 2 comments [29 favorites]

' “spit” here refers to a horizontal rotisserie '

A baumtorte, or baumkuchen, is a traditional German cake, so-called because the thin layers of batter resemble tree rings when sliced. This 'king of cakes' is traditionally made on a cake spit, or rotisserie, the baumkuchen is one of several so-called "spit cakes": "The exact origin of Baumkuchen, like that of so many other food specialties, seems murky. One theory is that it began as a Hungarian wedding cake. Another is that it was invented in the German town of Salzwedel, in the early nineteenth century, where it quickly became a favorite of the visiting Prussian king. Polish sekacz, Lithuanian sakotis, and Swedish spettekaka are other regional versions of what are classified as spit cakes, a term that might give pause in this era of blood-and-guts chefs. Fortunately, “spit” here refers to a horizontal rotisserie (now powered by electricity) that spins constantly above or in front of a wood or gas fire as the baker ladles over it anywhere from ten to thirty-six layers of sunny batter, which has the consistency of a foamy liquid custard." [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:30 PM Dec 10 2017 - 29 comments [27 favorites]

What's College Good For?

If schools aim to boost students’ future income by teaching job skills, why do they entrust students’ education to people so detached from the real world? "As a society, we continue to push ever larger numbers of students into ever higher levels of education. The main effect is not better jobs or greater skill levels, but a credentialist arms race." [more inside]
posted by mecran01 at 7:36 PM Dec 9 2017 - 56 comments [26 favorites (20 in the past 24 hours)]

Psion, the Next Generation

Gemini: An in-depth look at the successor to the original Psion Series 5 PDA. [more inside]
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 11:28 PM Dec 9 2017 - 19 comments [14 favorites]

Hi everyone. I'm happy to share with you an announcement about Lyrebird.

Researchers at the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms present ObamaNet, the first architecture that generates both audio and synchronized photo-realistic lip-sync videos from any new text. Contrary to other published lip-sync approaches, theirs is only composed of fully trainable neural modules and does not rely on any traditional computer graphics methods. [more inside]
posted by sockermom at 1:35 PM Dec 10 2017 - 48 comments [14 favorites]

Live In a Blissful Bubble For Your Own Safety

A 13-year-old girl managed to become a writer for on-line sports publications. She pretended to be a man and kept up the masquerade for eight years. [more inside]
posted by CCBC at 4:47 PM Dec 10 2017 - 33 comments [13 favorites]

Cats go well with the holidays

Simon's Cat has the right spirit And, as always, they do love the wrapping paper. (If you must resort to the easy out of wrapping for the holiday with cat help, gift bags are acceptable diversions, too.) [more inside]
posted by mightshould at 7:10 AM Dec 10 2017 - 9 comments [11 favorites]

Why these friendly robots can't be good friends to our kids

MIT's Sherry Turkle writes about the new wave of "sociable robots" we're seeing. "These machines are seductive and offer the wrong payoff: the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship, the illusion of connection without the reciprocity of a mutual relationship. And interacting with these empathy machines may get in the way of children’s ability to develop a capacity for empathy themselves."
posted by forza at 3:42 PM Dec 10 2017 - 39 comments [10 favorites]

Everything was creaky and it was just so crowded with books

Call Me Ishmael, a "novel way to celebrate books and life." The Call Me Ishmael project is simple: Leave a voicemail at (774) 325-0503 about a book you loved and a story you have lived. Your voicemail will be transcribed, typewritten, and posted on the site for other readers to enjoy your story and your book. The project has expanded to include rotary phones in bookstores for patrons to listen to selected voicemails. [more inside]
posted by hexaflexagon at 3:12 PM Dec 9 2017 - 9 comments [23 favorites (9 in the past 24 hours)]

Trump, punch, golf and bird

The Atlantic's top 25 News Photos of 2017, 2017: The Year in Photos 1, 2, 3 (some possibly nsfw)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:29 AM Dec 10 2017 - 12 comments [9 favorites]

There are only two styles of portrait painting—the serious and the smirk

Learning something new can be challenging, but sometimes, it can take you places you’d never imagine. Kimiko Nishimoto was 72 years old when she picked up a camera, and it’s transformed her life over the past 17 years. Now at 89, she's enjoying wide-spread attention for her creative self-portrait photography. [more inside]
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:50 PM Dec 9 2017 - 4 comments [9 favorites (8 in the past 24 hours)]

no Dr. Chandra

In 1961, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign created a computer networking system that would have messaging, avatars, online gaming (and most famously, Empire), smileys, doodles, and message boards: How the PLATO system, a pre-internet online platform that first came to life at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the 1960s, quietly fostered some of the first digital natives. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:06 AM Dec 9 2017 - 9 comments [28 favorites (7 in the past 24 hours)]

“There was a real sense of a kind of moral corruption around the media”

“This means there's no commercial justification anymore for producing broad generalist news packages. It means we can expect private sector media to narrowly target people who are well-off and well-educated, because they are the ones who are the most interested in news, the ones most able to pay subscription costs, and the ones advertisers most want to reach. That's not great for democracy: We can expect to see a growing gap in political knowledge and participation.” PUBLIC BROADCASTING: ITS PAST AND ITS FUTURE - the argument for public funding of news media.
posted by The Whelk at 9:22 AM Dec 9 2017 - 8 comments [18 favorites (7 in the past 24 hours)]

Something broke, is breaking still

The use of sexual frustration and weaponized misogyny in the radicalization of young men is consistent across ideologies, and the entitlement that underlies it is not exclusive to fascist movements. - The Consent of the (Un)governed, Laurie Penny on #metoo, neoliberalism, the alt-right and the breaking point the world finds itself at today.
posted by Artw at 5:35 AM Dec 7 2017 - 140 comments [120 favorites (6 in the past 24 hours)]

Sufi Soul

William Dalrymple is a Scottish historian and writer who lives in India. He has featured now and again on the blue (see below the fold). A good place to start is the documentary he made about Sufi music: Sufi Soul [more inside]
posted by stonepharisee at 10:25 AM Dec 9 2017 - 6 comments [17 favorites (6 in the past 24 hours)]

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