February 25

there's no goddamn way this can get any dumber

Pangeos Terayacht: An $8 Billion Engineering Disaster (Adam Something, YouTube/Piped, 12m40s) [more inside]
posted by flabdablet at 4:30 AM - 42 comments

They Should Have Sent a Porpoise

I asked Gruber himself what he would say to the whales. He said that he has been taking requests. Most people tell him that we should start by saying “Sorry,” for the bloody rampage that was industrial whaling. He agrees. “We pulled the oil out of these animals’ heads,” he said. “We used it to make lipstick.” Perhaps now we can atone. from How First Contact With Whale Civilization Could Unfold [The Atlantic; ungated]
posted by chavenet at 1:19 AM - 18 comments

February 24

China's vet shortage

China has less than one-third the number of vets per capita as the United States or European Union. My cat had a health emergency this week and I had to call about 30 different animal hospital/clinics to see which one had a surgeon and a free OT to operate on my cat that afternoon. Thankfully, one out of the 30ish were able to take us at short notice. [more inside]
posted by antihistameme at 8:37 PM - 11 comments

Wide Awake

Donald Trump may be hoping to strike a knockout blow against Nikki Haley in today's South Carolina primary, but he spent the better part of the day up north in Maryland, as the keynote speaker at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The annual right-wing gathering has declined in prestige, attendance, and relevance since its heyday in the Tea Party era, losing big corporate sponsors and seeing chairman Matt Schlapp slapped with a multi-million dollar sexual assault claim. But it still serves as a useful window into the pathology of the modern Trump-MAGA Republican Party: turning against Ukraine and towards Putin two years into the war, welcoming failed world leaders decrying the "deep state" (and current ones that are dictatorial or arguably insane), featuring Pizzagate boosters calling for the overthrow of democracy, and tolerating self-identified Nazis openly mingling with conservative influencers and spreading racist and anti-semitic conspiracy theories. Does anybody really know what time it is?
posted by Rhaomi at 3:12 PM - 101 comments

A new modified clay from Western Australia could help stop algal blooms

A new modified clay from Western Australia could help stop algal blooms. Modified clay helping reduce algal blooms by binding to phosphorus which causes phenomenon. Large-scale fish deaths caused by harmful algal blooms could be a thing of the past if positive trials of a specially developed clay that absorbs phosphorus are anything to go by. Developed by Western Australian environmental scientists, the treatment is sprayed, in a slurry form, from a boat onto the surface of estuaries, lakes and other water bodies, sinking down and taking the phosphorus with it. Even though phosphorus is a natural plant nutrient required by plants to grow, an excess of it fuels extensive algal blooms which can lead to low oxygen concentrations in the water that can harm fish and other species. [more inside]
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 2:33 PM - 11 comments

We Haven't Got The Americans Here Tonight

Here's a panel of British writers for Succession, including Tony Roche, Jon Brown, Lucy Prebble, and Georgie Pritchett. Creator and show-runner Jesse Armstrong also joins, and it is hosted by Adam Buxton. Held at Southbank Centre in Sept 2023, so after the series ended. Succession: an evening with the writers [1h42m]
posted by hippybear at 2:32 PM - 1 comment

Mychal Threets’ library joy

Solano county librarian wants everyone to feel welcome and love the library. [more inside]
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:30 AM - 26 comments

"This is America, and it's playing out like America."

Legal weed in New York was going to be a revolution. What happened? (Jia Tolentino for The New Yorker (archive.is)) [more inside]
posted by box at 8:10 AM - 68 comments

Every Transaction an Ad, Every Machine a Spy

When a student at University of Waterloo waited for a vending machine to reboot after a crash, they noted a curious error message for an app titled Invenda.Vending.FacialRecognitionApp.exe. They posted a Reddit message "Hey, so why do the stupid M&M machines have facial recognition?" which eventually led the school to disable the vending machine software until the machines could be removed. [more inside]
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:27 AM - 63 comments

The long tail of war

Yesterday, 'one of the largest UK peacetime evacuations' took place in Plymouth, Devon, after an unexploded World War 2 bomb was found in a residential garden. [more inside]
posted by atlantica at 6:22 AM - 20 comments

Flaco, NYC's favorite Eurasian eagle-owl, has died

Flaco, the Eurasian Eagle Owl, Has Died When someone vandalized his enclosure in the Central Park Zoo a little over a year ago, Flaco escaped. No one was sure if he could survive on his own, but survive he did, becoming a favorite of not only locals who went to see him in the Park but a world-wide audience who read about him. He recently moved to the Upper West Side where residents loved spotting him from their windows. Last night, he hit a building and died. Other links: NYT, Washington Post [more inside]
posted by AMyNameIs at 6:11 AM - 27 comments

Tarot futures up

Tarot Cards Market to grow by USD 214.34 million from 2021 to 2026 claims yahoo!finance. Over at SCAD's student-run online fashion publication, they're here for it. PW says that "publishers are attuned to the thriving marketplace for guides to the magic of crystals, flowers, elaborate tarot cards, and imaginative oracle decks." Tarot has taken on new meaning in recent times for the RPG world. Finally, Anastasia Murney has things to say about "Tarot as affective cartography in the uneven Anthropocene" [PDF]. [more inside]
posted by cupcakeninja at 5:22 AM - 54 comments

The Lost Meteorite

A giant meteorite has been lost in the desert since 1916—here’s how we might find it "Captain Gaston Ripert was in charge of the Chinguetti camel corps. One day he overheard a conversation among the chameliers (camel drivers) about an unusual iron hill in the desert. He convinced a local chief to guide him there one night, taking Ripert on a 10-hour camel ride along a "disorienting" route, making a few detours along the way....The 4-kilogram fragment Ripert collected was later analyzed by noted geologist Alfred Lacroix, who considered it a significant discovery. But when others failed to locate the larger Chinguetti meteorite, people started to doubt Ripert's story."
posted by dhruva at 5:10 AM - 6 comments

Vice media to shutter, letting go of hundreds

The company will be ceasing operations of Vice.com as it is "no longer cost-effective" to do so. NYT published an article recently: The News About the News Business Is Getting Grimmer
posted by antihistameme at 3:30 AM - 47 comments

Researchers celebrate frog conservation win decades in the making

Biologist Deon Gilbert says this month's Victorian release of 70 juveniles from a spotted tree frog breeding pool is incredibly heartwarming. Researchers have bred 800 spotted tree frogs from 26 they collected in north-east Victoria in 2021. They have released the first 70 of those frogs into the wild.
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 2:47 AM - 4 comments

Even with all the efforts, loopholes remain

Bowmouth guitarfish amulets are just one example of the boundless number of protected wildlife products sold online, where a global Grand Bazaar of seedy vendors hawk their wildlife wares, and anyone with internet access can find products from rhino horns to exotic orchids to tiger claws with just a few clicks. With lax regulations, even weaker enforcement, and a lack of legal culpability, not only is wildlife trafficking able to fester online, but algorithms actually amplify sales, boosting the platforms’ profits. from For Sale: Shark Jaw, Tiger Claw, Fish Maw [Hakai]
posted by chavenet at 2:25 AM - 3 comments

February 23

The AI gift economy

Help, My Friend Got Me a Dumb AI-Generated Present - WIRED. A thoughtful reply to what art means when it’s ‘personally’ generated for you with a dive into Lewis Hyde on gift economies.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:40 PM - 40 comments

The beauty of everyday things

For the past hundred years we’ve had people championing machine manufacture and value-adding design for objects that did perfectly well without it. [Yanagi] had several criteria for these everyday miscellaneous things and all of them are worth revisiting because we now know that some things are best when precision machined and manufactured and other things benefit from showing signs of a human hand at work.
posted by johnxlibris at 7:23 PM - 3 comments

Tiny endangered turtle twins hatch from same egg in 1-in-3000 event

Tiny endangered turtle twins hatch from same egg in 1-in-3000 event amid efforts to save the species. When scientists discovered seven baby Bell's turtles in a batch of six incubated eggs in the NSW Northern Tablelands recently, they were initially stumped.
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 3:39 PM - 5 comments

The Hot New Luxury Good for the Rich: Air

The wealthy have different houses, different cars, different lifestyles from the rest of us. These days, they also want to breathe different air. [more inside]
posted by MrVisible at 1:54 PM - 37 comments

Palestinians & Palestinian-Americans in the USA

Palestinians and Palestinian-Americans continue to face censorship, backlash, and dehumanization by parties in all sectors of American life. [more inside]
posted by toastyk at 1:03 PM - 12 comments

Moon landings, a wooden satellite, Tolkien on Mars, fiery descents

The Martian helicopter completed its final flight on Valinor Hills. "yeah it really could be an ocean moon" - Let's check in on humanity's exploration of space in early 2024. [more inside]
posted by doctornemo at 8:18 AM - 13 comments

Google Minus Google News

"The featured filters — Images, Videos, Maps, Flights, Shopping, Perspectives, etc. — change and reorder depending on the search term, but this was different. I wasn’t seeing the News tab as an option for search after search, even if I went looking in the 'All filters' drop-down menu. I tried with 'Julian Assange,' 'public subsidies for sports stadiums,' and 'Reckon layoffs.' None showed the News filter as an option. The next day, on a different computer, my News filter was (blessedly) back. But a few other users confirmed I was not alone." Last year Google cut jobs in its news division. Where is Google putting its resources these days? Exactly where you'd expect.
posted by cupcakeninja at 3:55 AM - 64 comments

“The most neglected of American fruits”

Until the mid 1800s, pawpaws were strictly a foraged food due to their woodland abundance. Indigenous people and enslaved Africans ate them as part of their seasonal diets, and the recorded anecdotes of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and Daniel Boone describe subsisting on the native fruits during their journeys through the wilderness. Eventually, pawpaws, or custard apples as they were sometimes called, were sold at market. Though cultivated by Indigenous tribes like the Shawnee, the pawpaw was relegated to a wild folk food eaten by impoverished rural people, earning nicknames like the “poor man’s banana” and the “hillbilly banana.” from Consider the Pawpaw [Belt] [more inside]
posted by chavenet at 12:53 AM - 50 comments

February 22

Citizen scientists discover weird and wonderful creatures on WA coast

Citizen scientists discover weird and wonderful creatures on WA coast. Experts say the WA-first sighting of a rare crab and photos of a spectacular anemone on Broome's beaches highlight the untapped wonders off Australia's coasts.
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 11:22 PM - 7 comments

"The wealth of the wicked is laid up for the righteous"

A Marketplace of Girl Influencers Managed by Moms and Stalked by Men The troubling interactions on Instagram come as social media companies increasingly dominate the cultural landscape and the internet is seen as a career path of its own. Nearly one in three preteens list influencing as a career goal, and 11 percent of those born in Generation Z, between 1997 and 2012, describe themselves as influencers. Content warning: Instagram Child Pornography [more inside]
posted by Toddles at 8:34 PM - 81 comments

Super Happy Fun Star Trek: The Next Generation Mistakes Video

Hello friends! It’s been a while... It’s me, Mr. Plinkett! Now, you all know I love Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’ve been watching episodes on the Blu Rays recently and I started to notice lots of little production errors. Things that the quick and dirty TV production of the 80’s and 90’s probably overlooked, didn’t notice, or didn’t care about. [Youtube, 1⁄2 hour]
posted by riruro at 7:21 PM - 30 comments


'U.S. lands unmanned Odysseus spacecraft on moon'. Space.com:"Update for 6:45pm ET: Touchdown! Intuitive Machines that its IM-1 lander Odysseus has landed on the moon and is transmitting a faint, but definite, signal. The exact health of the craft is unclear, but it has landed, Intuitive Machines reports." After some still unconfirmed problems, "The Odysseus lander is "not dead yet" 'Intuitive Machines' Odysseus lander is aiming for a crater near the moon's south pole. Here's why'
posted by clavdivs at 4:12 PM - 25 comments

Smart Move(?)

Capital One announced this week that it intends to buy Discover in an all-stock deal valued at $35 billion, which would make it by some measures the largest credit card company in the U.S. While CEO Richard Fairbank covets Discover's independent payments network, consumer advocates fear a negative effect on its vaunted customer service, as well as a general trend of credit card companies squeezing customers more as they grow larger. Though there is an argument that the proposed deal will increase competition at the network level, it will still face heavy antitrust scrutiny from the Federal Reserve and Biden administration regulators. Meanwhile in Congress, criticism of the deal has already been aired by pro-regulation stalwarts, including Elizabeth Warren, Maxine Waters, and... Josh Hawley?
posted by Rhaomi at 3:00 PM - 18 comments

Down in the valley, the valley so low

This is not an exciting video. The presentation is not elegant, but it is informative. It probably won't interest many of you. But the title of it is Why do rollercoasters valley and how do they get recovered [55m] by Ryan The Ride Mechanic. And I know there's a subset of you who will be thrilled to watch this very fascinating video about a topic I'd never thought to learn about.
posted by hippybear at 2:13 PM - 6 comments

'I think too much complexity can actually be a bad thing.'

"I decided to write a sequel of sorts to a craft talk I gave in Paris last month on what I’ve been calling moral worldbuilding, which to me just means being more conscientious about the kinds of value systems we include in our work, and facing up to the fear of being called didactic or melodramatic. That talk was pretty diagnostic and focused mostly on theorizing causes of how we got there. This one focuses more on the aesthetic qualities of bad moral worldbuilding and their immediate causes. It’s pretty vibey." Brandon Taylor's new essay, living shadows: aesthetics of moral worldbuilding.
posted by mittens at 12:00 PM - 18 comments

A bigger, better train for Conductor Whiskers

Yesterday, mobile game developer Hit-Point quietly announced Neko Atsume 2, coming this summer to Android and iOS. [more inside]
posted by May Kasahara at 11:41 AM - 23 comments

Critically endangered bettongs double population in NSW

Critically endangered bettongs survive fires, floods to double population in NSW. A program re-introducing brush-tailed bettongs to a conservation area in the Pilliga State Forest shows promise, after an east-coast extinction lasting more than 100 years.
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 9:29 AM - 7 comments

“They’re noticeably different, except for a few”

Meanwhile, Rybak and Hearn say that prospective buyers regularly call or email asking for guidance in authenticating this or that painting, worried they may have sunk large sums of money on worthless imitations. Some buyers were bilked out of their life savings. For the fraudsters, of course, the scheme was nothing more than a way to make money. But the devastation to honest buyers, to Morrisseau and his legacy, to Indigenous culture, and to Canadian art writ large is incalculable. Morrisseau’s works were not meaningless paintings but precious, irreplaceable examples of the Anishinaabe experience in Canada and the world. from Inside the Biggest Art Fraud in History [Smithsonian]
posted by chavenet at 5:07 AM - 32 comments

A genre of swords and soulmates

"Romantasy 'allows women to have it all', says Christina Clark-Brown, who shares book recommendations on the Instagram page ninas_nook. 'There is no damsel who needs saving but rather women are allowed to be powerful, go on epic quests, and find love with a partner who is an equal to them in every way.'" The Guardian has some exciting news for you [Archive] about romantasy. Is what's described, though, a never-before-seen phenomenon? (Of course not.) [more inside]
posted by cupcakeninja at 4:53 AM - 78 comments

February 21

All of a sudden, these days, happy throngs, take this joy

Michael Idov's stellar article for GQ.com about being In Athens With Michael Shannon, the Night He (Sort of) Reunited R.E.M. And you better believe there's [more inside]
posted by Hey Dean Yeager! at 9:46 PM - 26 comments

Half-Life Histories

Half-Life Histories (Youtube playlist link) is a mini-documentary series about nuclear and radiological disasters by Youtuber and science educator Kyle Hill. Hill's series covers both well-known and major nuclear accidents and disasters like the Demon Core at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Castle Bravo detonation on Bikini Atoll, and less well-known incidents like what happened when scientist Anatoli Bugorski accidentally put his head in a particle accelerator beam, and the only recorded death from an unknown source of radiation.
posted by yasaman at 7:30 PM - 11 comments

Death, Lonely Death

Billions of miles away at the edge of the Solar System Voyager 1 has gone mad and has begun to die
posted by signsofrain at 5:03 PM - 133 comments

Steven Richard Miller 1950-2024

Steve Miller, coauthor of the Liaden universe, has died at the age of 74. He wrote his own obituary.
posted by WizardOfDocs at 4:37 PM - 21 comments

Stone Age wall found at bottom of Baltic Sea

Stone age wall found at bottom of Baltic Sea may be Europe’s oldest megastructure. They think it may have been used to help hunt reindeer. [more inside]
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 4:34 PM - 5 comments

Like Roy Moore never left

The reproductive healthcare community of Alabama was thrown into turmoil this week following a shockingly theocratic state supreme court decision that defines frozen embryos as children under the state's Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. Fearing prosecution, the influential UAB Health System has responded by officially suspending all in-vitro fertilization (IVF) services statewide. The controversial ruling puts Alabama at the forefront of the national fetal personhood movement, a key player in the push by conservative activists to institute unabashed Christian nationalism in a second Trump term. Unfortunately for Alabama voters, the state lacks a public referendum system, meaning any reforms must pass through the state legislature's Republican supermajorities.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:55 PM - 93 comments

The surprising origins of wave-particle duality

Everything acts like a wave while it propagates, but behaves like a particle whenever it interacts. The origins of this duality go way back.
posted by ShooBoo at 3:44 PM - 19 comments

What if you suspect your husband is fantastically evil?

Shot: "The Lure of Divorce" In which Emily Gould writes: "Seven years into my marriage, I hit a breaking point — and had to decide whether life would be better without my husband in it." (continued inside) [more inside]
posted by MiraK at 2:01 PM - 50 comments

The New Tabletop Games Journalism

Rascal News is a new venture in tabletop games journalism. Building on the 00s' New Games Journalism for videogames, the editors/authors are Lin Codega, Rowan Zeoli, and Chase Carter. A recent interview with Kimi Hughes discusses "How Has Actual Play Changed Game Design?" [more inside]
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:44 AM - 9 comments

Dexter Romweber, no longer here but the sound lives on.

Dexter Romweber, singer-guitarist of influential rockabilly band Flat Duo Jets, died on Sunday. He was 57. They don't make 'em like Dex anymore. Godspeed, pal. [more inside]
posted by Kitteh at 4:54 AM - 26 comments

The underlying technocratic philosophy of inevitability

Silicon Valley still attracts many immensely talented people who strive to do good, and who are working to realize the best possible version of a more connected, data-rich global society. Even the most deleterious companies have built some wonderful tools. But these tools, at scale, are also systems of manipulation and control. They promise community but sow division; claim to champion truth but spread lies; wrap themselves in concepts such as empowerment and liberty but surveil us relentlessly. The values that win out tend to be the ones that rob us of agency and keep us addicted to our feeds. from The Rise of Techno-Authoritarianism by Adrienne LaFrance [The Atlantic; ungated]
posted by chavenet at 12:39 AM - 23 comments

February 20

Five years of membership

Walking man, Craig Mod, writes a yearly breakdown of his membership program.
2023 was amazing, bewildering, inspiring, gnomic, exhausting, bacterial, and mostly, fun. I mean — by the end of the year I was but a swollen forearm fighting for my life (OK, maybe not quite that bad), but wow … WOW. 2023: Easily the most monumental and generative year of my life. I owe that fullness to SPECIAL PROJECTS, my membership program. Now, a somewhat unbelievable five years old. Here is everything I learned last year.
posted by device55 at 9:23 PM - 16 comments

I Can't Remain Neutral in the Now - This is Great

Drue Langlois' (previously) plucky post-apocalyptic scavenger Plague Roach has finally left the post-apocalyptic wasteland. But how? Through death? Even deeper escapism? Or something else entirely? Find out in the seemingly final installment of Staying Positive in the Apocalypse, Veil of Cloud - or watch the entire saga here.
posted by BiggerJ at 4:33 PM - 9 comments

Venice Carnival Masks

Venice Carnival 2024, masks at the Venice Arsenal and St. Mark's 4K [1h10m]
posted by hippybear at 1:58 PM - 9 comments

How Google is killing independent sites like ours

Private equity firms are utilizing public trust in long-standing publications to sell every product under the sun. In a bid to replace falling ad revenue, publishing houses are selling their publications for parts to media groups that are quick to establish affiliate marketing deals. They’re buying magazines we love, closing their print operations, turning them into digital-only, laying off the actual journalists who made us trust in their content in the first place, and hiring third-party companies to run the affiliate arm of their sites. While this happens, investment firms and ‘innovative digital media companies’ are selling you bad products. These Digital Goliaths shouldn’t be able to use product recommendations as their personal piggy bank, simply flying through Google updates off the back of ‘the right signals,’ an old domain, or the echo of a reputable brand that is no longer.
Indie air purifier review site HouseFresh does a deep dive into the incestuous world of top-ranking Google product search results. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi at 1:22 PM - 97 comments

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