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Civilizations Lost in Deep Time

“Wait a second,” he said. “How do you know we’re the only time there’s been a civilization on our own planet?” [...] There are fossils, of course. But the fraction of life that gets fossilized is always minuscule and varies a lot depending on time and habitat. It would be easy, therefore, to miss an industrial civilization that only lasted 100,000 years—which would be 500 times longer than our industrial civilization has made it so far. [more inside]
posted by ragtag at 2:06 PM Apr 22 2019 - 66 comments [36 favorites]


Evan Dahm published the thousandth page of his fantasy comic Vattu yesterday. Set in the same variegated world as Rice Boy and Order of Tales, Vattu is about a girl from a nomadic culture and her reckoning with an empire: how, and whether, she can live within it, escape it, fight it, reform it, or survive it. [more inside]
posted by Iridic at 8:13 AM Apr 22 2019 - 6 comments [31 favorites]

The Crack Monster: the mystery of Sesame Street's creepy lost short

[Jon] Armond was haunted by the video for decades. He mentioned it to other Gen X’ers who’d been brought up watching Sesame Street but no one else seemed to remember it. Did the the video even exist, or was his memory just playing tricks on him? Finally, after decades of looking, in the earlier days of the internet, he found Jennifer Bourne, a cartoonist who also grew up fearing the crack monster. She began poking around on Muppet-themed message boards and Snopes, and, little by little, an odd congregation of people started to form online, a virtual support group for people who were terrorized by the clip. Slate link includes a text article, video of the short, and audio with more details from PRI's Studio 360. [more inside]
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:50 PM Apr 22 2019 - 57 comments [31 favorites]

In the pines, where the sun don't shine

It's known by many names: In the Pines, Black Girl, Where Dd You Sleep Last Night. Studio 360's producer, Lauren Hansen tells the story of how In the Pines originated from the English murder ballad tradition and has been interpreted over the years through Appalachian bluegrass, 40's blues, 70's country, in grunge via Kurt Cobain's Unplugged and reinterpreted today through the lens of Black Lives Matter. [more inside]
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 12:24 PM Apr 22 2019 - 10 comments [21 favorites]

“The Earth is in need of a good lawyer.”

Polly Higgins, lawyer who fought for recognition of 'ecocide', dies aged 50. Campaigner and barrister attempted to create a law to criminalise ecological damage. "Polly Higgins, one of the most inspiring figures in the green movement, has died aged 50. Higgins, a British barrister, led a decade-long campaign for 'ecocide' to be recognised as a crime against humanity. She sold her house and gave up a high-paying job so she could dedicate herself to attempting to create a law that would make corporate executives and government ministers criminally liable for the damage they do to ecosystems..." Higgins died yesterday of cancer. [Via] [more inside]
posted by homunculus at 1:25 PM Apr 22 2019 - 18 comments [17 favorites]

Parochialism in Western philosophy & engaging with non-Western thought

Led willingly by Fate: Peter Adamson considers how to combat parochialism in philosophy. "Philosophy has a problem. It is an academic field that is strikingly non-diverse, at a time when universities and their students are increasingly concerned with diversity..." This is an excellent and engaging essay by Peter Adamson (@HistPhilosophy, previously) on the need to engage with non-Western philosophy and thought. [more inside]
posted by homunculus at 11:55 AM Apr 21 2019 - 24 comments [45 favorites (16 in the past 24 hours)]

What's The Matter With Kansas, Tech And Education Edition

With school budgets stripped thanks to mismanagement at the state level and test scores dropping, Kansas schools saw an online education system by Summit Learning as a potential way forward, allowing students to learn at their own pace while not needing as much support as traditional models. But soon after implementing the Summit system - developed by Facebook engineers and backed with Facebook money - problems with both the system and the education it was providing cropped up, and soon lead to a grassroots revolt against the system, with students and parents rejecting Summit. (SLNew York Times)
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:56 AM Apr 22 2019 - 44 comments [16 favorites]

The Top Ten Numbers Between One and Ten

On September 22, 1989, minutes before going onstage, David Letterman had second thoughts the Top Ten List planned for that evening's show. In "about two minutes," Late Night head writer Steve O'Donnell improvised a new one and dictated it directly to the show's chyron operator. The result was possibly the most surreal bit ever aired on this very surreal show. (SLYT) [more inside]
posted by How the runs scored at 8:04 PM Apr 22 2019 - 24 comments [13 favorites]

“I was reviewing a novel. Then I found myself in it.”

Who Owns a Story? is an essay by Katy Waldman in The New Yorker about the experience of reviewing a book, Trinity by Louisa Hall, and finding that an essay she wrote about her anorexia and family [previously] has been mined by the author.
posted by Kattullus at 12:09 AM Apr 22 2019 - 34 comments [12 favorites]

The worlds of sand, salt and pepper are far from monotone

When most people hear "sand," they think of fine grains of white to tan, but the word "sand" is actually used for a "particle size" rather than for a "material." Sand is a loose, granular material with particles that range in size between 1/16 millimeter and 2 millimeters in diameter. And that's where the similarities end, and the diversity begins. Sand isn't a boring material if you know what you are looking at! ( - sand grains from around the world) Hawai'i alone has at least , black, green and whitish sand, while Business Insider lists pink, red, orange, violet, black, grey and white sands found around the world. But if you're storing bottles of sand at home, don't confuse them with your different colored salts (Wide Open Eats) and peppercorns (Food Republic).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:45 AM Apr 22 2019 - 24 comments [10 favorites]

20 Years Later

Why Do We Get Columbine So Wrong? And how should the media cover acts of mass violence? (Ask A Mortician) , 13:48 cw: discussion of suicide, mass shootings.
posted by The Whelk at 10:25 AM Apr 22 2019 - 10 comments [10 favorites]

Felt cute might arrest you later

Tweets that joke about arrests and “free housing” in jail won’t make communities trust law enforcement more. “Please help! My name is 10 Pounds of Weed. I am lost and looking for my owner. I was sent to the wrong address yesterday in Columbus and now the police have me locked up in the evidence room. Please get me out of here soon, you will need your ID. Thanks a bunch,” reads a tweet last year from the Columbus, Indiana, Police Department. Hilarious … There’s nothing funny about being arrested, which could lead to jail, legal fees, or time away from work and family, all for possessing a substance that’s legal in 10 states. [more inside]
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:51 AM Apr 21 2019 - 41 comments [20 favorites (9 in the past 24 hours)]

"Where would we be without the words of Japanese women?"

Works by Japanese Women is a 12 part series by Kris Kosaka for The Japan Times on Japanese female authors, starting with an introduction. The articles all focus on writers who've been translated into English. The contemprary authors are Hiromi Ito, Mieko Kawakami, Yuko Tsushima, Kaori Ekuni, Takako Arai, Nahoko Uehashi and Yoko Tawada. Earlier writers featured in the series are late 19th Century short story writer Ichiyo Higuchi, feminist playwright and novelist Fumiko Enchi and the series ended with an encouragement to read the thousand year old works of Sei Shonagon and Murasaki Shikibu. The series also included a profile of the pioneering feminist magazine Seito.
posted by Kattullus at 3:08 PM Apr 20 2019 - 9 comments [48 favorites (8 in the past 24 hours)]

Robert Caro’s Blind Spot

Why does the exhaustive biographer overlook Lyndon Johnson’s virulent misogyny? Remarkably, Caro neglects to mention how LBJ repeatedly invaded the physical boundaries of his female employees by groping them. This curious omission by America’s preeminent biographer, whose work is otherwise so thorough and sensitive, points to the depth of the problem that the #MeToo movement is trying to redress—that the sexual violence endured by generations of working women has long been nearly completely buried.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:31 PM Apr 22 2019 - 13 comments [8 favorites]

The Hotshots of Helltown

The November 2018 Camp Fire in northern California destroyed the town of Paradise and would have consumed the nearby, ironically named Helltown except for a few brave homeowners who went to heroic lenghts to protect a one mile stretch of road as the fire crept in from all sides. This is the story of the hotshots of Helltown.
posted by vrakatar at 6:07 PM Apr 21 2019 - 10 comments [11 favorites (7 in the past 24 hours)]

Explosions at Sri Lanka Churches and Hotels Claim 290, Injure 450+

Eight explosions, some the result of suicide bombers, hit Colombo, Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, including three churches and four hotels, killing 290 and injuring 450, a count which included at least 35 foreigners, including Americans, British, Portuguese, and Chinese. [more inside]
posted by WCityMike at 9:23 PM Apr 21 2019 - 53 comments [7 favorites]

The Stolen Child (a tale told in tales)

The Stolen Child (a tale told in tales) [via mefi projects] [more inside]
posted by Caduceus at 11:45 AM Apr 22 2019 - 0 comments [7 favorites]

Pysankas, or, Ukainian Easter Eggs

They have a history. And, with the right tools and patience, they can be made at home. (TLDR version) Happy Easter.
posted by BWA at 7:25 AM Apr 21 2019 - 13 comments [15 favorites (6 in the past 24 hours)]

“Now you are playing with power! PORTABLE POWER!”

The Game Boy Turns 30 [The Verge] “On April 21st, 1989, Nintendo unleashed the Game Boy on the world, forever changing video games. The unassuming gray brick may not have been a technical powerhouse, but it helped take the idea of portable gaming mainstream, paving the way for the world of mobile gaming and hybrid devices like the Switch.” [YouTube][Original Gameboy Commercials] [more inside]
posted by Fizz at 10:44 AM Apr 20 2019 - 22 comments [14 favorites (5 in the past 24 hours)]

“We are creatures that should not exist.”

True Detective Pikachu [YouTube] “Take the upcoming Ryan Reynolds lightning rat vehicle Detective Pikachu, fill it with a lot of grisly murders and HBO=friendly monologues about time being a flat something or other, knock it out in five minutes, and reap the likes in peace.”[via: A.V. Club] [Official Trailer]
posted by Fizz at 3:01 PM Apr 21 2019 - 4 comments [11 favorites (5 in the past 24 hours)]

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