December 18

Not so melancholy elephant

Orphan elephant brings her newest baby to show off to the people who rescued her back in 1999.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:11 PM - 3 comments

I Use a Wheelchair. And Yes, I’m Your Doctor.

Cheri Blauwet, MD, a former Team USA Paralympic medallist, three-time winner of the women's wheelchair division in the Los Angeles Marathon, and two-time winner of both the Boston and New York City marathons, writes about representation in medicine, her clinical experience as a doctor who is also a wheelchair user, and her relative privilege in the New York Times: "In my busy outpatient clinical practice, I witness the spectrum of patients’ reactions when they find out that their doctor is, herself, disabled. Typically those first few seconds after entering an exam room — before the patient’s guard goes up — are the most informative."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:09 AM - 0 comments

The fabled San Buenaventura river: it must exist because it had to

In 1776, two Franciscan missionaries Atanasio Domínguez and Silvestre Vélez de Escalante sought to find a land route between Santa Fe in Nuevo México to Monterey in Alta California. They were part of a ten-man expedition including Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco (Meira) acting as the cartographer. On September 13, they encountered a southwest-flowing tributary of the Colorado and named it San Buenaventura after the catholic saint Bonaventure. From there, the initial depiction of the river (large copy) was repeated and warped, extending west to the Pacific Ocean, repeated in various forms up through 1844 (Google books preview). Given the lengthy history of the river's existence on maps, even President Polk was reluctant to let the fabled river disappear. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief at 9:25 AM - 6 comments

" In 2017, tech workers are the world’s villain."

The Other Tech Bubble Erin Griffith, formerly of Fortune, writes at Wired about the technology bubble we're not talking about—the one insulating Silicon Valley and its startup founders and funders, from criticism.
posted by SansPoint at 9:18 AM - 30 comments

Corporations are robots, my friend

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.”
posted by Phire at 9:17 AM - 20 comments

May the bots have mercy on us all

How machines learn. (Main video plus Footnote video.) Explained for laypersons by C. G. P. Grey.
posted by beagle at 9:07 AM - 5 comments


It's the 1980s, and under your tree is the hottest gift of the decade, the home PC! Why not fire it up and run a Christmas demo to get in the holiday spirit? [more inside]
posted by castlebravo at 8:47 AM - 16 comments

A Real Menace To Public Health

Corruption! Big city politics! Democrats! Republicans! Developers! And pork! Wait - not that kind of pork - these are the Philadelphia Pig Wars of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries[more inside]
posted by carter at 8:10 AM - 3 comments

Call Your Momma | By Gabriel Jesus

Whenever I score for Manchester City, my mother calls me. As soon as the ball hits the back of the net, the phone rings. It doesn’t matter if she’s back home in Brazil or if she’s in the stadium watching me. She calls me every time. So I run to the corner flag, and I put my hand to my ear, and I say, “Alô Mãe!” When I arrived at City, people thought this was really funny, and they kept asking me what it means. There’s a quick answer, which is that I love my mother, and she’s always calling me. And there’s a longer answer, which starts when I was a boy with a dream.
posted by appleses at 7:58 AM - 8 comments

Johnny Fox, sword swallower, 1953-2017

Johnny Fox, adept sword swallower and slight of hand expert, had his final "dance" with cancer and Hep C Sunday morning at the age of 64. After being diagnosed, he began treatment and was unsure if he could return to performing. This fall, he was able to do a limited number of performances with no sword swallowing at the Maryland Renaissance Festival: but did include balloon swallowing. The stage he performed there had been named in his honor before the 2017 season. (Squeamish warning: almost all the videos/stories show sword swallowing and other similar acts.) [more inside]
posted by skynxnex at 7:44 AM - 9 comments

"pixel spider boat game"

Just Type Stuff
posted by rorgy at 7:33 AM - 34 comments

December 17

Taonga Pūoro - Singing Treasures

Put on your headphones, close your eyes, and listen (08’54) [more inside]
posted by Start with Dessert at 10:26 PM - 5 comments

If you can't be with the one you love…

Sexual interactions between snow monkeys and sika deer could be a new behavioural tradition within a group of monkeys observed in Japan, researchers have suggested. While the first report of a male Japanese macaque, or snow monkey, and female sika deer taking to each other was revealed earlier this year (previously), scientists say they are now confident the behaviour is sexual after scrutinising adolescent females suggestively interacting with stags at Minoo in Japan.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:51 PM - 52 comments

"Please answer after the beeeeeep-u!!!"

Four hardcore anime fans are forced to confront their own mortality at the worst convention ever. A series about emotional trauma, awkward situations and a terrible weekend at an anime convention. Facebook page.
posted by Lurch at 8:35 PM - 14 comments

“...this is Santa, and this is Santa's husband.”

How a Tweet About a Gay, Black Santa Turned Into a Children's Book [Motherboard] Less than a year after they were first posted, the tweets you see above are now a children’s book. What started as a joke became an idea, then a collaboration, then some concept art, and ultimately a book deal—all contained on that Twitter thread. The plot of Santa’s Husband [Amazon] seems like it’s reverse-engineered from a homophobic racist’s nightmare. The story itself is the very innocent and sweet (and true, according to the book) tale of Santa and his husband and their life together, complimented by detailed and playful watercolor illustrations. [more inside]
posted by Fizz at 8:15 PM - 11 comments

Incan Khipus Newly Understood

In 2016 an undergraduate student of Prof. Urton, the expert on khipus, offered to help analyize a set. And the results have been termed "thrilling." Manny Medrano wasn't an archeology student but he was interested in it. He studied economics, which helped him in his data analysis (Excel spreadsheets). He spent spring break looking at a particular set of khipus and came back with some ideas. Urton was impressed enough that they began working on it together and Urton thinks they've made a breakthrough. I know the khipus were posted about back in 2003 but this is new info, to be published in early 2018
posted by MovableBookLady at 8:14 PM - 17 comments

“Now I’ve shot so many Nazis, Daddy will have to buy me a sable coat.”

The extravagant life of Neil Munro "Bunny" Roger, erstwhile couturier, wit, dandy, landowner, and social ornament. [more inside]
posted by Hypatia at 4:33 PM - 23 comments

An index of over 1000 composers, improvisers and sonic artists. is an active index dedicated to collecting and curating women artists working in the avant-garde, electronic, experimental, noise, classical, jazz and other non-mainstream audio/music arts. "As of December 12th, 2017, there are 1,205 artists listed in this index."
posted by loquacious at 4:17 PM - 7 comments

From agorism to neozapatismo

Tired of political quadrants? Try the Political Sextant [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:58 PM - 130 comments

Wear and Tears

"Clothes are relatively easy to pack and transport, less breakable than other objects, and perhaps that is why I have held on to so many of them; they provide a line of continuity between these multiple places and selves. They remind me who I am, where I have come from, where I have been, for better or worse. On the days the black dog visits and brings down that transparent wall of grey between myself and the distant land of the living where people walk around feeling things, where things matter, these belongings with history — any kind of history — remind me that life has been lived and felt, that maybe it will be again." Kirsten Tranter reflects on depression, connection, and how clothing lives not only in the closet, but in our hearts and minds as well. Even when they seem past all feeling. (SL Los Angeles Review of Books.)
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:46 AM - 8 comments

Amazon, Apple, Facebook, And Google should be broken up.

"We break these guys up because we are capitalists" At Business Insider's IGNITION conference, Scott Galloway gave a blistering presentation on why "The Big Four" — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google — should be broken up. [more inside]
posted by mecran01 at 6:59 AM - 111 comments


Melvyn's Abrupt Opener
posted by alby at 3:20 AM - 33 comments

December 16

Poor cow

Exploding cows, baby killers and death rays (Dylan Owen, National Library of New Zealand blog)
posted by Start with Dessert at 9:27 PM - 6 comments

Let's hope they have limited memory.

Every time Boston Dynamics has abused a robot.
posted by codacorolla at 7:10 PM - 51 comments

Longreads Best of 2017 Food Writing

A list of the most interesting food writing from the past year, and it starts with the food culture of Appalachia.
posted by MovableBookLady at 3:10 PM - 7 comments

The violence of looking away

A journey through a land of extreme poverty: The UN’s Philip Alston is an expert on deprivation – and he wants to know why 41m Americans are living in poverty. The Guardian joined him on a special two-week mission into the dark heart of the world’s richest nation by Ed Pilkington
posted by The Whelk at 2:55 PM - 28 comments

The house that Edek built - and the secret suitcase kept inside

When Edward "Edek" Herzbaum and his wife Teresa designed and built their family home near Woking, they created a daringly modern building full of light. It was the 1950s. Young architects were in the vanguard of imagining a new, post-War Britain. Edward died in 1967, Teresa in 2002. It was not until then that their daughter Krystyna found a small suitcase full of papers that revealed her father, his story and his art. [more inside]
posted by cynical pinnacle at 2:29 PM - 4 comments

Jólabókaflóð: Merry Christmas, book lovers! Xoxo, Iceland

Jólabókaflóð ("Yule flood of books") is a delightful holiday tradition from one of the most book-loving nations in the world:
Every year since 1944, the Icelandic book trade has published a catalogue...sent to every household in the country in mid-November during the Reykjavik Book Fair. People use the catalogue to order books to give friends and family for Christmas. During the festive season, gifts are opened on 24 December and, by tradition, everyone reads the books they have been given straight away, often while drinking hot chocolate or alcohol-free Christmas ale called jólabland.
[more inside]
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:30 PM - 23 comments

You *can* do that on television.

25 Comedy Writers Pick Their Most Influential TV Episodes - Part 1, Part 2 (Josh Sorokach & Joe Reid, We had no idea what to expect when we reached out to 25 successful comedy professionals — the minds behind some of the best shows on TV, from The Good Place to You’re the Worst to Playing House — and asked them to write about the TV episode that inspired them to pursue a career in comedy. Their responses were passionate, insightful, nostalgic, and emblematic of the fact that inspiration comes in all forms. Were they motivated by a character? A concept? A clever turn of phrase? We’re presenting their answers to you in full, in their own words.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:27 PM - 18 comments

The beauty of Stardew Valley is that you cannot fail and you cannot die.

How Stardew Valley helped me cope with depressive episodes [VG24/7] “Games provide us with productive, hands on work away from dreary reality. We like to be challenged and stimulated in a way we control. However, when I’m not in the right frame of mind, I’m often overcome with guilt that I should be doing something ‘purposeful’ with my free time and sometimes my favourite games just don’t fulfill that need. If I spend countless hours playing competitive matches and somehow manage to lose rank, or lose an established Sims family in a fire, it feels as though those hours have been wasted and I have nothing to show for it. I come away more stressed than I was when the session began, like a bad day at work. There’s other times when I simply don’t feel up to the challenge of competitive games but don’t want the monotony of repetitive simulators. It’s a fragile line to balance. However, when it comes to indie farming-simulator Stardew Valley, there is none of that guilt or stress.” [more inside]
posted by Fizz at 1:05 PM - 43 comments

Fear of the state, fear of home: To be black and queer in America

Living in my truth as a black queer person comes with the understanding that I may also be quickening my death. I was sold a false narrative. I was told “it gets better,” as if becoming an adult would change the years of ridicule I had endured my entire life, and introduce me to a world that would be fully accepting of my gender and sex identity. At 32, I now know that I take my life in my hands when I dress a certain way, or have mannerisms not accepted by a masculine-centered society.
posted by stillmoving at 12:21 PM - 18 comments

You Call. We Sing!

Dial-A-Carol at the University of Illinois Dial-a-Carol is the longest running tradition in University Housing (57 years - but who's counting?) The idea is quite simple. For one week only, anyone from anywhere can call us round the clock and request any holiday tune, and we'll do our best to sing it over the phone. The best part? It's completely FREE! 24/7 from December 14 until December 20, 2017. [more inside]
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:28 AM - 18 comments

You Know You Want To Believe

The Pentagon’s Secret Search for UFOs [Politico] Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program [NYT] 2 Navy Airmen and an Object That ‘Accelerated Like Nothing I’ve Ever Seen’ [NYT]
posted by chavenet at 11:23 AM - 23 comments

practical and tactical

Leafy Neckdowns: Cornstarch, Water & Leaves Reshape Unsafe Intersection. Like the snowy neckdowns, or 'sneckdowns' of years past, light, quick and cheap elements are used to shape public space. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:15 AM - 11 comments

I want to get those stories recognized

Stories from a real (imaginary giant animal) community: in which Boozy Badger (previously, also) was in a car accident that shattered his hip and he's convalescing and he's had furries giving him and his family unexpected support, and so he poses the topic on twitter, Tell me about a time the furries reached out and helped you. I want to get those stories recognized.
posted by hippybear at 11:07 AM - 6 comments

Sweetness! Utah, Letter to The Editor Salt Lake Tribune

A Blanche Dubois moment....the kindness of strangers. We all have moments, especially if we have small children, when the only solitude might just be a trip to the store, while everyone else is safe and engaged. Then in the privacy of the family car we might be the person we have always been, the person just learning to drive, a new college grad out for a ride, realizing what took you to this moment, also comes with the full weight of all you carry and Stopping by the Store on a Snowy Evening is not quite the moment Robert Frost described.
posted by Oyéah at 10:09 AM - 3 comments

Women Composer Database

Women Composer Database In an era where the music of women composers continue to be underrepresented and programmed too infrequently, this is such a great resource for discovering the music of women composers, both living and dead. [more inside]
posted by bkpiano at 9:12 AM - 9 comments

Merry Christmas!

Danish boy choir sings Christmas carol angelically, and a second time with a kick.
posted by growabrain at 9:12 AM - 11 comments

Macchu Picchu is essentially a pile of rubble

With the story of a disappointing zoo in China (it helps to have real animals not inflatables) the Guardian asked its readers for their overrated tourist locations.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:52 AM - 175 comments

This Week in Tech Scandal

Uber Engaged in ‘Illegal’ Spying on Rivals, Ex-Employee Says For years, Uber secretly spied on key executives, drivers and employees at rival ride-hailing companies as part of a larger intelligence-gathering operation that spanned multiple countries, according to a letter made public in a federal court on Friday. Uber security employees occasionally impersonated drivers to gain access to chat groups, illegally recorded phone calls, and secretly wiretapped and tailed executives at rival companies over the course of 2016, the letter said. [more inside]
posted by Toddles at 6:26 AM - 33 comments

BMJ Christmas Edition

Every year the British Medical Journal publishes a special Christmas edition. [more inside]
posted by alby at 3:17 AM - 4 comments

December 15

Everyone loves a clumsy owl

Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2017 The winners & runners-up in this year’s competition. Treat it like a few minutes of well earned self care.
posted by faceplantingcheetah at 11:34 PM - 15 comments

Bennelong by-election plunges Australia's government into danger

This evening, the Australian government's fate rests with the middle-class, multicultural voters of Bennelong, an electorate covering a handful of suburbs on Sydney's lower north shore [PDF]. If the government loses the seat, they will lose their majority in the House of Representatives and have to govern in minority. Fighting to retain the seat for the Coalition government is incumbent MP John Alexander, former tennis pro, who triggered the byelection by resigning when it was revealed he was a dual British citizen, against the provisions of the Australian Constitution (previously 1 2). Trying to wrest it out of government hands is the high-profile challenger from the main opposition party Labor: American native, Sky News Australia host and former NSW premier Kristina Keneally. There's been many gaffes, much mud thrown and a lot of time, money and effort poured into the campaigns—Labor is widely expected to secure a swing to them of some magnitude, but will it be enough? We'll find out when the polls close in 60 minutes... [more inside]
posted by Panthalassa at 10:01 PM - 25 comments

The Best Podcasts of 2017

Medium's picks for the year's top podcasts. Sarah Larson's shorter take on it over at the New Yorker. And here is Wired's list.
posted by storybored at 9:11 PM - 68 comments

Adult coloring books, perceptual lattices, and Altair Designs

Where did adult coloring books come from? Well, The Little Folks Painting Book (1879) begat Buster’s Paint Book (1907) begat A Coloring Book: Drawings By Andy Warhol (1953) begat The Executive Coloring Book (1961) begat The Gay Coloring Book (1964)...and so on, right down to the amazing Altair Designs of the 1970s. And that's where close packing of circles, the tile makers of Morocco, and perceptual lattices come in, thanks to the authorial partnership between an aspiring mathematician and a practicing psychologist. Roger Burrows remembers the origin of Altair Designs. [more inside]
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:34 PM - 14 comments

Your Reality Is Driven By Marketing

Yesterday, some people noticed that The Mozilla Foundation hijacked their own in-browser "Shield Studies" program to distribute "Looking Glass", an Alternate Reality Game based on the TV Show Mr. Robot for Firefox 57 users. This was discovered as a fresh add-on with the entire description being "MY REALITY IS JUST DIFFERENT FROM YOURS.", leading some to suspect their browser had been hacked. Surprisingly, privacy-conscious users were not amused.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 3:20 PM - 99 comments

"The Book That Made Me a Feminist Was Written by an Abuser"

So, what to do with this once-beloved book? I’ve read it once since Greyland spoke out, and I don’t know if I will read it again. Probably not, I’m guessing. Discovering that powerful men are predators is disturbing, but not surprising. Learning that the author who introduced me to feminine spirituality and the hidden side of history abused children — girls and boys, her own daughter — was horrifying in an existential kind of way. I’m a writer and an editor and I know that characters can exceed their creators. I would go so far as to say that that’s the goal.
So I can keep Morgaine — what she has meant to me, what she has become in my personal mythology — while I reject Bradley.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:44 PM - 67 comments

Your Favorite Restaurant Sucks

Ranking America’s top 10 chain restaurants
posted by bq at 1:18 PM - 154 comments

"The camera is always on..."

22. Facebook wants you to send it your nudes, so it can block other people from posting those nudes as revenge porn.
As a revenge-porn prevention measure, you can upload your nudes to Facebook through Messenger, then Facebook will digitally scan them using machine learning and block anyone else from uploading that exact same photo. Facebook says they're not storing the photos anywhere; they'll only store a digital "hash" of it (basically a 1s and 0s version). least one employee has to see the photos to moderate it and verify it's actually a nude and not like, a photo of Trump.
35 Times Privacy Was A Lie In 2017 [Katie Notopoulos, BuzzFeed]
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:32 PM - 79 comments

Sin Luz

Sin Luz: A multimedia essay on the state of Puerto Rico from the Washington Post. Puerto Rico’s apagón, or “super blackout,” is the longest and largest major power outage in modern U.S. history. Without electricity, there is no reliable source of clean water. School is out, indefinitely. Health care is fraught. Small businesses are faltering. The tasks of daily life are both exhausting and dangerous. There is nothing to do but wait, and no one can say when the lights will come back on.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:48 AM - 10 comments

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