December 29

“Nobody knew what those people were doing, if they were doing anything”

The Most Expensive Mile of Subway Track on Earth How excessive staffing, little competition, generous contracts and archaic rules dramatically inflate capital costs for transit in New York. (SLNYT by Brian M. Rosenthal)
posted by crazy with stars at 12:15 PM - 35 comments


Marvel wants you to write comics with no farts, death, aliens, gossip, or ‘social issues’ [The Verge] “In a press release today, Marvel announced Create Your Own [YouTube], a new platform that allows fans to create original comic strips using Marvel characters and stock background illustrations. The tagline is “Your Own Marvel Universe.” Fans don’t have access to the platform yet, though details are “coming soon.” Whether the version of the Marvel Universe you create is “Your Own” is arguable, however, given that the terms and conditions state that users are forbidden from distributing the content off-platform or using it for any commercial enterprise.” [more inside]
posted by Fizz at 11:16 AM - 104 comments

Evangelizing climate science

How to persuade Evangelical Christians to take Climate Change seriously.
posted by Artw at 10:33 AM - 31 comments

Literally Anything Is Possible

Yes, 2017 went off the rails. But what pushed it? We asked 29 of our favorite journalists, writers, and thinkers: What were the most important events of the past 12 months, and what were the least?” - The Morning News on the year was and wasn’t (previously)
posted by The Whelk at 9:12 AM - 19 comments

Inspect from a distance

Russian Artist Makes Huge Sculptures Out Of Animal Farm Poo
posted by orrnyereg at 7:02 AM - 22 comments

SPFBO3 puts self-published fantasy books and reviewers in the spotlight

The scoreboard for the 3rd annual Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off has been updated to show that a 10th novel was chosen as a finalist this morning. A denser page charts the history of the event, linking to reviews of the 300 submissions, noting semi-finalists with a + sign, and highlighting finalists in green. The event is administered by Mark Lawrence, whose novel Red Sister ( review) is among the most popular traditionally-published fantasy novels of 2017. 10 fantasy fiction bloggers work throughout the year to select 10 self-published novels that all 10 will read. Their criteria can be quirky. Their favorites in the end can be near unanimous or a bit mixed.
posted by Wobbuffet at 5:37 AM - 2 comments

An explosion of shaving cream below the nose

National Geographic reveals how biologists feel about animal emojis. [more inside]
posted by Stark at 2:56 AM - 36 comments

December 28

a different northern soul

No-one knows how, no-one knows why, but it's become a tradition in Wigan to take to the streets in fancy dress on Boxing Day night. Some say it's a tradition started by German workers at the local Heinz factory, others claim a more ancient tradition derived from Elizabethan mumming. Regardless, costumes range from ridiculous to tasteless to downright clever. [more inside]
posted by girlgenius at 10:47 PM - 9 comments

The Cat In The Hat Songbook

Perhaps you'd like to hear the 1967 album Dr Seuss Presents The Cat In The Hat Songbook: Seuss-Songs For Beginning Singers [YT playlist, ~30m] -- Side A: Let Us All Sing, The Super-Supper March, My Uncle Terwilliger Waltzes With Bears, In My Bureau Drawer, The No Laugh Race, Plinker Plunker, Hurry Hurry Hurry!, Cry A Pint [more inside]
posted by hippybear at 8:02 PM - 6 comments

I thought that I had to decide between [how I] identify and [my] career.

Ben Barres, the first openly transgender scientist elected to the National Academy of Sciences, has died. He is known for having written from his perspective about gender discrimination in science and been a tremendous advocate for women. Barres was diagnosed 20 months ago with pancreatic cancer. “I’m really not too bothered about dying,” he says. “What’s frustrating is that there are so many things I won’t be able to work on. There are so many things I wanted to know.” [more inside]
posted by lab.beetle at 7:05 PM - 44 comments

Rose Marie of 'Dick Van Dyke Show' fame dies at 94

Heaven just got a whole lot funnier | She was born Rose Marie Mazetta of Italian-Polish parentage in New York City on Aug. 15, 1923. When she was 3, her mother entered her in an amateur talent contest in Atlantic City as Baby Rose Marie. Nominated three times for Emmys, Rose Marie had yet to turn 40 when she joined the Dick Van Dyke Show cast as Sally Rogers, but had been an entertainer for more than 30 years. [more inside]
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:16 PM - 55 comments

Nothing Golden Brown and Fried Can Stay

As 2017 comes to an end, the lights will go down on Flavortown for good. Pour one out in remembrance of better times.

Previously, yet more previously.
posted by rewil at 4:42 PM - 62 comments


But questions must be asked: What constitutes someone being “grabbed” in their attention? What is the editor’s “subjective tastes” that bar them from not liking a piece enough? Who is this “us” and “we” who are not looking for a piece at the moment? My essay probably didn’t appeal to these folks for whatever reason. Fair enough. The subjective, though, is the personal, and the personal is always connected to the body which produces subjective tastes. Our tastes are not created in a void.
- Marcos Santiago Gonsalez
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:23 PM - 7 comments

The high cost of being in the slammer

The Big Business of Prisoner Care Packages Yet another reason to stay out of trouble.....
posted by strelitzia at 2:59 PM - 21 comments

Why We Fell For Clean Eating

With Instagram nutritionists peddling diet advice that purports to cure disease and beautify, the Guardian explores why millions of "vulnerable and lost" dieters are falling for clean eating.
posted by chrchr at 1:35 PM - 91 comments

Twitter Picked the Nazis

NYT Opinion: Confessions of Digital Nazi Hunter. In which the creator of a bot that succeeded at taking down Impersonation Accounts gets shut down by Twitter itself.
posted by snortasprocket at 12:44 PM - 59 comments

"Aaand... commercials! Two minutes to Forrest Trump sketch..."

But the more of SNL I watched this year, the more I felt like I was watching a different show than everybody else was. I was tempted to call it the worst show of 2017, but I’m not sure that’s what I mean. It’s certainly made with a certain degree of love and affection that marks it as the work of talented people.

No, what SNL was was the emptiest show of 2017, and the fact that it was so over-praised makes me worry we’ll learn nothing at all from this particular moment in pop cultural history. And there’s no better way to talk about that emptiness than to consider just how poorly SNL handles the current occupant of the White House, even as it clearly wants to say something daring.
Saturday Night Live’s current cultural cachet is built on a mirage [Todd VanDerWerff, Vox]
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:39 AM - 101 comments

Main Job: Mathematician. Hobby: Secret Street Photographer

The eminent mathematician, Carl Stormer, had a secret hobby as a 19-year-old student. He hid an early camera in his clothes and took photos on people on the streets of Oslo in the 1890s. Supposedly, he took a shot of Henrik Ibsen but there are no identifications of the people in the photos. In his later years, he exhibited many of his photos at a show in Oslo. Here is his wikipedia page.
posted by MovableBookLady at 9:16 AM - 17 comments

“this just looks like a scheme to keep standards low.”

Who Would Pay $26,000 to Work in a Chicken Plant? Chicken plants have recruited thousands of foreign workers in recent years through a little-known program to fill jobs they say Americans won’t do. (SLProPublica by Michael Grabell)
posted by crazy with stars at 8:35 AM - 33 comments

This is definitely not the place for more of your narcissism.

If you're feeling low on your general schadenfreude levels this day, you could do worse than ponder the editor's comments on Milo Yiannopoulos's autobiography, Dangerous. Or read them for yourself in full in the court documents [PDF]. [more inside]
posted by signal at 7:31 AM - 108 comments

Kenji Dreams of Sausage

Can the nerd king of home cooking conquer the restaurant world? Jonah Weiner writes for New York magazine about the cult of food writer and cook J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and his preparations for opening his first restaurant, called Wursthall, in San Mateo, California.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 6:43 AM - 83 comments

Cricket, football, fire and snow

The best photographs of 2017 – by the people who shot them
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:17 AM - 4 comments

December 27

Baked eggs with added faff

You can tell a lot about a culture by the food that fuels it – and in the annals of culinary progress, 2017 has not been an altogether glorious year. If you thought 2016’s avo toast was bad, take a look at these horrors. (Although the linked story about raindrop cake makes it sound kind of awesome.)
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:50 PM - 90 comments

Les Filles de Illighadad

"Fatou Seidi Ghali is a pioneer of guitar in West Africa. She lives in Illighadad, a small scrubland village in the desert country of Central Niger, located outside of the Tahoua region—and she is one of only two known Tuareg women guitarists in Niger." [] [more inside]
posted by Buntix at 6:33 PM - 19 comments

“And that was the end of everything. But it was also a beginning.”

Four Years Later, Destiny's Music Of The Spheres Has Leaked [Kotaku] “Composed by O’Donnell, his partner Michael Salvatori, and former Beatle Paul McCartney, Music of the Spheres was envisioned as a musical companion to Bungie’s ambitious Destiny. But Bungie and O’Donnell spent nearly a year battling over, among other things, publisher Activision’s failure to use O’Donnell’s music in a trailer at E3 2013. In April 2014, Bungie fired O’Donnell, and despite O’Donnell’s hopes, the company indefinitely shelved Music of the Spheres. He has made several public comments on the work since, and last month, he implicitly encouraged people to share it. “Years ago, when I was Audio Director at Bungie, I gave away nearly 100 copies of Music of the Spheres,” O’Donnell tweeted on November 30, 2017. “I don’t have the authority to give you permission to share MotS. However, no one in the world can prevent me from giving you my blessing.”” [more inside]
posted by Fizz at 5:00 PM - 4 comments

"The things that make us different. Those are our superpowers."

In 2017, the world asked Google “how.” Google's Year in Search:
posted by zarq at 4:18 PM - 47 comments

Comedians who died during 2017

Some well-known ones that most people have heard of (Don Rickles, Jim Nabors), some that you know if you followed standup (Ralphie May), and some you (well, I at least) had never heard of before (alas, Ken Shapiro). List with links to fuller bios.
posted by anothermug at 4:04 PM - 13 comments

Working for the church while your family dies

Arcade Fire's Intervention as interpreted by St. Peter's Male Voice Choir Drogheda, and Musical Director Edward Holly, with the Lourdes Youth Choir. Annual Christmas Concert 2013.
posted by philip-random at 2:15 PM - 4 comments

We don`t know the half of it !

The Top Ten Ocean Stories of 2017 from the Smithsonian.
From wind turbines to massive sunfish to octopus cities, the seas proved full of surprises this year.
posted by adamvasco at 1:28 PM - 3 comments

The winding road to fully automated cars passes more milestones

Driverless cars became a reality in 2017 and hardly anyone noticed. As Timothy B. Lee notes on Ars Technica, "there are now actual driverless cars on the roads in Phoenix. That’s a big deal." In fact, Waymo has a pilot program that is currently running in Chandler, AZ, thanks in part to a 2015 executive order from Gov. Doug Ducey that guided Arizona to be "hands off" with the burgeoning autonomous and connected vehicle industry, making Arizona a test bed for technology, despite having no in-state auto manufacturing. Earlier this year, Uber’s self-driving cars started picking up passengers in Tempe, AZ, after California ordered Uber to shut down its new self-driving car service in San Francisco. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief at 1:23 PM - 117 comments

The chronic capitalism of Christmas movies

Elizabeth King : The way Christmas movies tell it, the generosity of individual tycoons is sufficient to mitigate the harms of class inequality. Tanya Gold: All I want for Christmas is a film that doesn’t preach capitalism. Jacqueline Isaacs: A Christmas Carol: A Capitalist Story. Counterpoint: C.D. Carter: ‘Christmas Vacation’ provides a Marxist critique of capitalism.
posted by Rumple at 1:07 PM - 34 comments

The Scene is on Soundcloud Now

The AV Club investigates: Has indie rock reached a midlife crisis?
posted by CatastropheWaitress at 12:52 PM - 62 comments

Procedural Planet Generator

Procedural Planet Generator Make some rad-ass freakin' planets and watch 'em spin calmly in space, unaware of all the bullshit over on this planet. [via mefi projects]
posted by ignignokt at 12:01 PM - 14 comments

Kubrick: Barry Lyndon

Barry reacts to Quin's announcement by throwing a glass in his face. Again, when love is on the line, and social mobility at stake, Barry's only recourse is violence. Another way to put it is, Quin represents one level of violence (that of state against state) while Barry represents a highly personal level of violence, one that Quin doesn’t seem to be prepared for. He recoils as though poleaxed. Startled and horrified by Barry's outburst, he, again, threatens Nora's family and demands that Barry be punished. "I'm an Englishman and a man of property!" he splutters, thinking his social status should protect him from this kind of violence. Later, we'll see how social status, in this narrative, is nothing but a scam, created specifically to protect the wealthy from the poor. [more inside]
posted by smcg at 9:37 AM - 39 comments

I am the queen of the 🐈 💩 📦

"I've been dealing with stolen packages for the last couple of weeks. But the week before Christmas, things got really crazy," Wood told Bustle over the phone. "The delivery person would drop off the package, and before I could even get to it, someone would steal it from my doorstep."

"I realized I had a lot of old Amazon boxes lying around and had an idea," she told Bustle. "You see, my cat is sick and on antibiotics, so the litter box smells *especially* terrible. So, I decided to put my cat's stinky poop in the extra boxes and place those boxes on my doorstep."
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:05 AM - 119 comments

nobody ever came from nowhere more completely than you

The Improbable Time When Orson Welles Interviewed Andy Kaufman (1982) In case you need to see Orson Welles guest hosting the Merv Griffin show, wearing a leisure suit, and incidentally, interviewing Andy Kaufman in front of a live studio audience.
posted by mumblelard at 8:48 AM - 17 comments

In the Late Anthropocene

Why Birds Matter (Jonathan Franzen for National Geographic)
posted by box at 8:07 AM - 6 comments

Named after a famous Finnish programmer

Tampio is an object-oriented programming language that looks like a natural language – Finnish. [It] is an object-oriented language that compiles to JavaScript. Its syntax is directly inspired by the Finnish language and is therefore based on inflecting words. [more inside]
posted by Soi-hah at 6:28 AM - 15 comments

How to Say ‘Orgasm’ in 27 Different Languages

It is not often that one comes across a human sexuality paper with a Biblical reference in the title, but lo, “Behold, I am Coming Soon! A Study on the Conceptualization of Sexual Orgasm in 27 Languages” does just that. Published in the Journal of Metaphor and Symbol, the study examined linguistic expressions of orgasm in native speakers of languages representing over half of the world’s population. Their work included an investigation of words and phrases we use to describe one of our favorite biological pastimes.
posted by ellieBOA at 4:53 AM - 16 comments

December 26

Travel, Budget Beds, and the Homeless

Back in January, Rick Steves donated the Trinity Place transitional housing complex in Edmonds, WA, which he had owned and operated in partnership with the Rotary and the YWCA since 2005, to the YWCA. On his blog, Steves discusses the history of the project—and his reasons for donating it now—at some length. (Rick Steves previously)
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:16 PM - 30 comments

"Don’t be a troublemaker. Check your dignity at the door."

The #MeToo movement comes to sports, a reckoning long overdue — sports journalist Lisa Olson, writing for The Athletic, reflects on her own highly-publicized sexual harassment story and shares stories of what some of her female colleagues have had to endure, ultimately concluding with some guarded optimism about how the #MeToo awakening is bringing more of these stories to light.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:34 PM - 11 comments

My Past Is Warpaint

Moody, philosophical, synth-based music -- Happy Rhodes' 1991 album Warpaint [YouTube Playlist ~55m] Individual track links under the fold. [more inside]
posted by hippybear at 10:01 PM - 7 comments

This is a great opportunity for you to write your own problematic joke!

Cards Against Humanity takes the pulse of the nation.
posted by tivalasvegas at 8:25 PM - 77 comments

To live with thee and be thy love

" 'Love = Destroy life of many people who belong to you,' Dawinder texted me one evening. Later, another message came in: 'What is the point of any of this?' " Writing for Harper's, Mansi Choksi explores what's at stake when a northern Indian couple marries for love - which is permitted by law but not by tradition. Social consequences can be severe. Honor killings, for instance, go virtually ignored by the federal government, in part because politicians are hesitant to anger khaps, local councils of unelected elders who enforce traditional rules of the caste system. [more inside]
posted by desert outpost at 3:36 PM - 12 comments

"Well, our question was: What's home? Let's try to answer that."

This is the story of a dozen women who aren't waiting for the end of the prison sentences imposed on them to start building their new lives. [more inside]
posted by queen anne's remorse at 2:53 PM - 5 comments

Phil Freelon, Humanitarian Architect

Extensive article on the man who designed the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
posted by MovableBookLady at 2:52 PM - 4 comments

Zelda Day 2017: Breath of the Wild & romhacks

Link trolls the Yiga Clan (Twitter video links: you may want to unmute them): Basic level - Advanced level - Expert level - Overkill level - Assistance: On - But make sure you set it up right....
That's right, it's Zelda Day 2017! There's more.... [more inside]
posted by JHarris at 2:36 PM - 22 comments

The NY State Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act

A proposed New York State law could offer justice to women who fight back against abusive partners. [TW: Descriptions of physical, verbal, and sexual violence.] In 1989, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence found that the average prison sentence for men who kill their female partners was two to six years; the average for women was fifteen. The NYS Domestic Violence Justice Act would allow judges to sentence domestic violence survivors to fewer years behind bars or to alternative-to-incarceration programs. The legislation could also lessen the sentences of survivors who were forced into criminal activity by abusive partners. Kim Dadou, who served 17 years for killing her abusive partner, is working to help pass the bill. “I don’t get paid money to do this, but I want to prevent survivors from losing years of their life like I did,” she said.
posted by stillmoving at 9:52 AM - 27 comments

one of the devil’s great engines of human misery

"Today the glowing, fry-colored marquee is the de facto greeting for anyone coming into the capital from the east. It does not say “Welcome to Washington,” or “Behold, the Majestic Seat of the Republic.” It says: W ARM UPWITH A BACO ATOR" The story of Washington’s weirdest traffic circle.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 9:05 AM - 45 comments


"The story of the Chibok girls, as it is commonly understood, reflects a landmark moment in world history. A simple hashtag on Twitter spurred seven nations to dispatch billions of dollars in armed forces, drones, satellites and sophisticated surveillance equipment. That combination of digital activism and international cooperation cut through the battle lines of a near decade-long civil war and helped Nigeria bring the girls home. The full story says otherwise." [more inside]
posted by ChuraChura at 8:49 AM - 14 comments

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