Advertise here with Carbon Ads

This site is made possible by member support. ❤️

Big thanks to Arcustech for hosting the site and offering amazing tech support.

When you buy through links on kottke.org, I may earn an affiliate commission. Thanks for supporting the site!

kottke.org. home of fine hypertext products since 1998.

🍔  💀  📸  😭  🕳️  🤠  🎬  🥔

Christina’s World, the Windows XP Wallpaper Version

a version of Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth done in MS Paint

Cat Graffam combined their love of art and old technology to create a mashup of Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World and the Windows XP wallpaper, using MS Paint and a mouse. You can watch how they did it in this video:

Prints of the finished product are available. (via waxy)

Reply · 0

Keanu Reeves & China Miéville have written a novel called The Book of Elsewhere, centered on an 80,000-year-old warrior who cannot die.
5 comments      Latest:

The action in Octavia Butler's novel The Parable of the Sower begins on July 20, 2024 — that's tomorrow. "Beginning in 2024, when society...
1 comment      Latest:

California has strengthened its electrical grid significantly in recent years: no rolling blackouts or grid emergencies during heatwaves...
2 comments      Latest:

Scientists extracted DNA from an exceptionally preserved woolly mammoth. "A complete genome has been extracted from a 52,000-year-old...
2 comments      Latest:

"15 Books About Appalachia to Read Instead of Hillbilly Elegy"
4 comments      Latest:

Did you know you can renew your US passport online now? The State Department is beta testing the new online renewal system for the next...
5 comments      Latest:

Immunotherapy Is Changing Cancer Treatment Forever. "Immunotherapy...has produced breakthroughs for previously untreatable forms of the...
1 comment      Latest:

Jimi Hendrix Goes Acoustic
2 comments      Latest:

E.B. White Writes to a Man Who Has Lost Faith in Humanity
1 comment      Latest:

I saw Midnight in Chernobyl at a bookstore over the weekend and it looked interesting (esp. since I've been rewatching Chernobyl on HBO —...
11 comments      Latest:

After 12 years, Pete Wells is stepping down as the NY Times' restaurant critic. "I realized I wasn't hungry. And I'm still not, at least...
2 comments      Latest:

It's Random Midsummer Shopping Day Again! (AKA Prime Day)
1 comment      Latest:


I had forgotten that Donald Glover got the name Childish Gambino from a Wu-Tang name generator.

Reply · 0

No one knows exactly when Neil Armstrong first set foot on the Moon — and we’ll likely never know for sure. “It wasn’t like an Olympic swim race where touching the wall stops the timer.”

Reply · 0

Diary Comics, March 30 & April 1

Here are a couple from this past Eastertime. (Previously.)

march30intro.jpg
march30a.jpg
april1a.jpg

Reply · 0

The editors of The Lancet Microbe on the origins of Covid-19. “SARS-CoV-2 is a natural virus that found its way into humans through mundane contact with infected wildlife that went on to cause the most consequential pandemic for over a century.”


Who Goes Nazi?

In 1934, Dorothy Thompson became the first American journalist to be expelled from Nazi Germany for writing critically & unfavorably about the regime and its leader, Adolf Hitler:

He is formless, almost faceless, a man whose countenance is a caricature, a man whose framework seems cartilaginous, without bones. He is inconsequent and voluble, ill-poised, insecure. He is the very prototype of the Little Man.

Back in America as one of the most famous journalists and women of her time, she spent the rest of the 30s and early 40s trying to warn the nation of fascism both here and abroad. In 1941, she wrote a piece for Harper’s Magazine called Who Goes Nazi?, in which she muses about which guests at a party would become Nazis.

The saturnine man over there talking with a lovely French emigree is already a Nazi. Mr. C is a brilliant and embittered intellectual. He was a poor white-trash Southern boy, a scholarship student at two universities where he took all the scholastic honors but was never invited to join a fraternity. His brilliant gifts won for him successively government positions, partnership in a prominent law firm, and eventually a highly paid job as a Wall Street adviser. He has always moved among important people and always been socially on the periphery. His colleagues have admired his brains and exploited them, but they have seldom invited him — or his wife — to dinner.

He is a snob, loathing his own snobbery. He despises the men about him — he despises, for instance, Mr. B — because he knows that what he has had to achieve by relentless work men like B have won by knowing the right people. But his contempt is inextricably mingled with envy. Even more than he hates the class into which he has insecurely risen, does he hate the people from whom he came. He hates his mother and his father for being his parents. He loathes everything that reminds him of his origins and his humiliations. He is bitterly anti-Semitic because the social insecurity of the Jews reminds him of his own psychological insecurity.

Pity he has utterly erased from his nature, and joy he has never known. He has an ambition, bitter and burning. It is to rise to such an eminence that no one can ever again humiliate him. Not to rule but to be the secret ruler, pulling the strings of puppets created by his brains. Already some of them are talking his language — though they have never met him.

There he sits: he talks awkwardly rather than glibly; he is courteous. He commands a distant and cold respect. But he is a very dangerous man. Were he primitive and brutal he would be a criminal — a murderer. But he is subtle and cruel. He would rise high in a Nazi regime. It would need men just like him — intellectual and ruthless. But Mr. C is not a born Nazi. He is the product of a democracy hypocritically preaching social equality and practicing a carelessly brutal snobbery. He is a sensitive, gifted man who has been humiliated into nihilism. He would laugh to see heads roll.


The action in Octavia Butler’s novel The Parable of the Sower begins on July 20, 2024 — that’s tomorrow. “Beginning in 2024, when society in the United States has grown unstable due to climate change, growing wealth inequality, and corporate greed…”

Reply · 1

Deadpan comic icon Bob Newhart has died at age 94. I was a weekly viewer of Newhart in the 80s and, I’m just now realizing, followed in the footsteps of the titular character in being an NYC writer who moves to VT. 🫠

Reply · 0

Peregrine Falcon Killing a Duck in Mid-Air

The Peregrine Falcon is the world’s fastest animal;1 it can reach speeds of more than 240 mph during dives. It uses that speed to kill other birds in mid-air. Here’s a video of a Peregrine diving and killing a duck, shot with a camera mounted on the falcon’s back.

It’s cool watching her fly around, but the exciting part starts right around 2:45. The acceleration is incredible. The same bird does a longer and faster dive in this video (at ~0:55):

Here’s what the Peregrine’s dive looks like from an observer’s point-of-view:

Our family had a lively discussion about Peregrine Falcons around the dinner table a couple of weeks ago…I can’t wait to show the kids these videos when I get home tonight. (via @DavidGrann)

  1. Although Joseph Kittinger and Felix Baumgartner might quibble with that.


Heartbreaking: This Guy Has No Idea That He’s So Strange And Memorable-Looking That Everyone From His Flight Is Using Him As A Landmark To Figure Out Which Baggage Claim Area Is Theirs. “Ah, there’s that guy.”


Keanu Reeves & China Miéville have written a novel called The Book of Elsewhere, centered on an 80,000-year-old warrior who cannot die.

Reply · 5

Moving Posters for Studio Ghibli Films

Ghibli Motion Posters

British designer Hayden Wills has created some cool moving posters for Studio Ghibli films like Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, and The Wind Rises.

You can see more of Wills’ posters on Behance, download the collection on Steam, or learn how to make your own moving posters in Photoshop.

See also Moving Film Posters. (via @0xjessel)

Reply · 0

California has strengthened its electrical grid significantly in recent years: no rolling blackouts or grid emergencies during heatwaves because of solar energy and battery storage (“now equivalent to 5 very large nuclear power plants”).

Reply · 2

Interactive map from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science: What will my city’s climate feel like in 60 years? “Many cities could experience a future climate unlike anything present on Earth today.”

Reply · 0

Inside the Trump Plan for 2025

In a well-researched piece for the New Yorker, Jonathan Blitzer writes about the “network of well-funded far-right activists” who are making plans for Trump’s second term. It’s more than just Project 2025 and the Heritage Foundation — and as his first term showed, it’s not necessarily about what Trump himself wants, it’s that the chaos that surrounds him creates opportunities for these ultra-conservatives to wreck havoc on the freedoms enjoyed by Americans.

I can’t decide which of the plans in these three excerpts is most terrifying:

Stephen Miller, at America First Legal, has been devising plans to enact a nationwide crackdown on immigration, just as he had hoped to carry out on a vast scale in the first Trump term. The impediment then was operational: a lack of personnel to make arrests, a shortage of space to detain people, resistance from Democratic officials at the state and local levels. Miller has since vowed to increase deportations by a factor of ten, to a million people a year, according to the Times. The President would have to deputize federal troops to carry out the job, because there wouldn’t be enough agents at the Department of Homeland Security to do it. The government would need to build large internment camps, and, in the event that Congress refused to appropriate the money required, the President would have to divert funds from the military.

The person close to C.P.I. considered himself a denizen of the far-right wing of the Republican Party, yet some of the ideas under discussion among those working on Project 2025 genuinely scared him. One of them was what he described to me as “all this talk, still, about bombing Mexico and taking military action in Mexico.” This had apparently come up before, during the first Trump term, in conversations about curbing the country’s drug cartels. The President had been mollified but never dissuaded. According to Mike Pompeo, his former Secretary of State, Trump once asked, “How would we do if we went to war with Mexico?”

Those close to Trump are also anticipating large protests if he wins in November. His first term was essentially bookended by demonstrations, from the Women’s March and rallies against the Muslim ban to the mass movement that took to the streets after the murder of George Floyd, in the summer of 2020. Jeffrey Clark and others have been working on plans to impose a version of the Insurrection Act that would allow the President to dispatch troops to serve as a national police force. Invoking the act would allow Trump to arrest protesters, the person told me. Trump came close to doing this in the final months of his term, in response to the Black Lives Matter protests, but he was blocked by his Secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

You don’t even need to be a scholar of authoritarianism to recognize where this is going — it’s not like they are being secretive about it.

a sea of white people, mostly women, holding signs at the 2024 RNC that say 'mass deportations now!'


The reintroduction of beavers in southwest England has resulted in a marked increase in resilience against flooding and droughts and the formation of habitats for endangered wildlife.

Reply · 0

An Online Database of Marimekko Patterns

blocks of 6 Marimekko print patterns

Maripedia is an online database of hundreds of print patterns that Marimekko has used in their products since the 1940s. You can browse by decade, designer, or style…or you can search by image. That’s right, just upload an image of the pattern on your pillowcase or dress and it’ll tell you who designed it and when.

Also, just take a look at these patterns:

Marimekko print patterns with uneven color stripes

Marimekko print patterns with various flowers

Marimekko print patterns with melty boxes

Marimekko print patterns vertical stripes

Marimekko print patterns with melty vertical stripes

Endless design and color palette inspiration. (via @presentcorrect.bsky.social)

Reply · 0

A Guide to Miyazaki’s Weird Little Guys: warawara, susuwatari (soot sprites), kodama, Ponyo’s sisters. “Their designs are quite simple, but their meaning frequently is not.”

Reply · 0

A useful tool for students & researchers (“educational purposes only”): Bypass Paywalls Clean extension for Chrome.

Reply · 0

Lessons from the recent French elections. “You have to vote! You have to. You can’t do anything without voting. The freaking French, who’ll protest for anything, are showing up to vote.”


Project 2025: The Minority Rule by Extremists

I’ve been waiting, sitting at my desk with hands tented, for historian Heather Cox Richardson to write about Project 2025 and just now I found out that she did so back in March, because of course.

In almost 1,000 pages, the document explains what these policies mean for ordinary Americans. Restoring the family and protecting children means making “family authority, formation, and cohesion” a top priority and using “government power…to restore the American family.” That, the document says, means eliminating any words associated with sexual orientation or gender identity, gender, abortion, reproductive health, or reproductive rights from any government rule, regulation, or law. Any reference to transgenderism is “pornography” and must be banned.

The overturning of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision recognizing the right to abortion must be gratefully celebrated, the document says, but the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision accomplishing that end “is just the beginning.”

Dismantling the administrative state in this document starts from the premise that “people are policy.” Frustrated because nonpartisan civil employees thwarted much of Trump’s agenda in his first term, the authors of Project 2025 call for firing much of the current government workforce-about 2 million people work for the U.S. government-and replacing it with loyalists who will carry out a right-wing president’s demands.

On Friday, journalist Daniel Miller noted that purging the civil service is a hallmark of dictators, whose loyalists then take over media, education, courts, and the military. In a powerful essay today, scholar of authoritarianism Timothy Snyder explained that with the government firmly in the hands of a dictator’s loyalists, “things like water or schools or Social Security checks” depend on your declaration of loyalty, and there is no recourse. “You cannot escape to the bar or the bowling alley, since everything you say is monitored,” and “[e]ven courageous people restrain themselves to protect their children.”

It’s worth reading in full. I wish Richardson did better at citing her sources than an unordered list of links at the end of each article (and also, I wish she weren’t on Substack), so here’s the Daniel Miller note from the excerpt above:

You know who else purged the civil service: Orbán, Erdoğan, Chávez, Milosevic, Ayatollah Khomeini, Pinochet… There was also this guy in Germany in 1933 who purged the civil service months after taking power.

And here’s Timothy Snyder on dictators and declarations of loyalty:

The new bureaucrats will have no sense of accountability. Basic government functions will break down. Citizens who want access will learn to pay bribes. Bureaucrats in office thanks to patronage will be corrupt, and citizens will be desperate. Quickly the corruption becomes normal, even unquestioned.

As the fantasy of strongman rule fades into everyday dictatorship, people realize that they need things like water or schools or Social Security checks. Insofar as such goods are available under a dictatorship, they come with a moral as well as a financial price. When you go to a government office, you will be expected to declare your personal loyalty to the strongman.

If you have a complaint about these practices, too bad. Americans are litigious people, and many of us assume that we can go to the police or sue. But when you vote a strong man in, you vote out the rule of law. In court, only loyalism and wealth will matter. Americans who do not fear the police will learn to do so. Those who wear the uniform must either resign or become the enforcers of the whims of one man.


The best Prime Day deal is Apple’s AirPods Pro (2nd gen) on sale for $169 (32% off) — I think that’s the lowest price I’ve ever seen.


Immunotherapy Is Changing Cancer Treatment Forever. “Immunotherapy…has produced breakthroughs for previously untreatable forms of the disease, especially in liquid tumors like leukemia and lymphoma and skin cancers like melanoma.”

Reply · 1

On Politics and Poetry

a songbird perched on a branch

In order for me to write poetry that isn’t political
I must listen to the birds
and in order to hear the birds
the warplanes must be silent.

Marwan Makhoul


Scientists extracted DNA from an exceptionally preserved woolly mammoth. “A complete genome has been extracted from a 52,000-year-old woolly mammoth, which might bring us closer to resurrecting the species.”

Reply · 2

Jimi Hendrix Goes Acoustic

A true master of the electric guitar, Jimi Hendrix missed the era of MTV Unplugged by almost 20 years and video & audio clips of him playing an acoustic guitar can be difficult to find. Open Culture recently collected a pair of videos of Hendrix unplugged.

While Hendrix did more than anyone before him to turn guitar amps into instruments with his squalls of electric feedback and distorted wah-wah squeals, when you strip his playing down to basics, he’s still pretty much as good as it gets.

A YouTube commenter said:

Jimi could make an acoustic sound like an electric, and an electric like something else.

P.S. Here are several clips of another otherworldly musician playing an acoustic guitar…his name is Prince (and he is funky).

Reply · 2

In this interview, Errol Morris talks about truth, documentary filmmaking, and AI. “Truth, I like to remind people — whether we’re talking about filmmaking, or film journalism, or journalism, whatever — it’s a quest.”

Reply · 0

Important not to forget with all that is going on: Republicans will likely try to end almost abortion access in the US if the elections go their way this fall. Those are the stakes, period.


E.B. White Writes to a Man Who Has Lost Faith in Humanity

From Shaun Usher’s Letters of Note, here’s a letter written by E.B. White in 1973 to a man who said he had “lost faith in humanity”. It begins:

As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

God, I hope he’s right.

Reply · 1

If you’re on Bluesky, you can follow the Downticket Democrats bot: “I share donation links to US Democrats running for legislative seats in competitive districts.”

Reply · 0

After 12 years, Pete Wells is stepping down as the NY Times’ restaurant critic. “I realized I wasn’t hungry. And I’m still not, at least not the way I used to be.” But also: “My cholesterol, blood sugar and hypertension were worse than I’d expected.”

Reply · 2

Nothing About the Attempted Assassination Redeems Trump. “That Trump is a victim does not obligate anyone to forget the millions of people he would make victims if given the opportunity.”


It’s Random Midsummer Shopping Day Again! (AKA Prime Day)

Prime Day 2024

For the last few years, Amazon has spent a couple of summer days putting a bunch of their most popular items on sale for their Prime members. This year, Prime Day runs from July 16-17 and includes a number of things that I can personally recommend (or are currently coveting). Keep in mind that you need to be an Amazon Prime member to take advantage of these deals: here’s where you sign up for Prime if you’re interested (there’s a free 30-day trial).

When you buy through links on kottke.org, I may earn an affiliate commission. Thanks for supporting the site!

Update: I added some more items to the list above, including a paddleboard and an air purifier.

Reply · 1

“15 Books About Appalachia to Read Instead of Hillbilly Elegy”

covers of the four books mentioned in this post

From Kendra Winchester at Book Riot:

Since Hillbilly Elegy came out in 2016, I’ve experienced countless people claiming to now “understand” where I come from and what Appalachian people are like. But they don’t think of my childhood watching my dad lose himself while arranging music on his piano or my grandfather tenderly nurturing plants in his ridiculously large garden. Instead, they imagine the stereotypes of J.D. Vance’s version of Appalachia, where the entire region is made up of poor rural white people consumed with violence who have no one to blame but themselves for their life circumstances.

Vance is of course the Republican VP candidate who once called Trump “America’s Hitler”, supports total abortion bans, and says he would not have certified the results of the 2020 election.

Winchester goes on to recommend fifteen books about Appalachia that will provide a clearer view of the region and the people who live there. They include:

What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia by Elizabeth Catte. “If you’re still wondering why Hillbilly Elegy is so problematic, I’d suggest starting with What You’re Getting Wrong About Appalachia.”

Appalachian Elegy: Poetry and Place by bell hooks. “In this poetry collection, she laments how Black Appalachians are all too often left out of narratives about Appalachia.”

Any Other Place by Michael Croley. “Croley’s perspective as a Korean American informs his writing as his stories deal with many topics around race, identity, and belonging.”

When These Mountains Burn by David Joy. “When These Mountains Burn features two men deeply impacted by the opioid crisis in Appalachia.”

See also Hillbillies Need No Elegy, an excerpt from Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy.

Reply · 4

Investigation Finds Secret Service Failed To Account For Nation’s 393 Million Guns. “The Secret Service failed to heed the real threat posed to the former president by the hundreds of millions of firearms in the hands of everyday Americans.”


There’s a 25th anniversary edition version of Brian Greene’s The Elegant Universe coming out. I devoured this book when it first came out and I still have not read an easier-to-understand summary of modern physics and quantum mechanics.

Reply · 2

Baltic Ice

aerial shot of sea ice in the Baltic Sea

Oh, I really like this particular image from Bernhard Lang’s series of aerial photographs of sea ice in the Baltic (part one, part two). (via colossal)

Reply · 0

Cyanokites are a collection of five paper kites of different shades of blue, a sly homage to the cyanometer, an instrument designed to measure the blueness of the sky.

Reply · 0

Printernet: Get a custom print version of your reading list sent right to your door. Each issue has five slots you can fill with any text-based content (articles, etc.)

Reply · 3

Molly White: Fighting bots is fighting humans. “Any attempt at limiting bot access will inevitably allow some bots through and prevent some humans from accessing the site, and it’s about deciding where you want to set the cutoff.”

Reply · 0

The Cleverness of the Axe

a woodcutter swinging an axe at a tree

There’s a version of The Woodcutter and the Trees series of fables that I ran across the other day that’s particularly relevant to this moment in history:

The forest was shrinking, but the trees kept voting for the axe; for the axe was clever and convinced the trees that because his handle was made of wood, he was one of them.

Or perhaps it’s always resonant because some variation of it has been told for thousands of years now.

Illustration in the triptych above by Ferdinand Hodler.

Reply · 1

Area codes that are also HTTP response headers. For instance, 404 (Not Found) is an area code in Atlanta and 406 (Not Acceptable) is the area code for Montana.

Reply · 2

Reading Miranda July’s All Fours

mirandajulyintro1.jpg
mirandajulyreview2.jpg

Links:

Have you read it? What did you think?

Reply · 2

This Crystal Fragment Turns Everything You See Into 8-bit Pixel Art, and It’s Fascinating. “The lens minecrafts scenery without electricity.”

Reply · 1

Gene Kelly Doesn’t Want to Perform Singin’ in the Rain on the Muppet Show

The legendary dancer, actor, and singer Gene Kelly appeared on The Muppet Show in season five, in what turned out to be the last episode of the show ever filmed. The episode’s gag involved Kelly being under the impression he was turning up to watch the show and not perform. Kermit tricks him into it, but in the final act, Kelly refuses to do his most famous song, Singin’ in the Rain. Until…

As Jonathan Hoefler said about this bit on Threads:

For all the satire and irony and anxiety that shaped Gen X, we were so lucky to grow up with the gentleness, wit, kindness, and respect of Jim Henson, the Children’s Television Workshop, and public television generally. How lovely is this?

Reply · 7

Enduring 129°F in Death Valley. “The breeze only makes things worse, by blasting apart the thin and fragile atmosphere of cooled air that millions of your pores produce by sweating. Your heart hammers faster and faster. Your cognition starts to blur.”

Reply · 0

Ayo Edebiri Browses the Criterion Collection

As if we needed more reasons to love her, Ayo Edebiri is a total film dork. First, there’s the account on Letterboxd — her review of Empire Strikes Back: “this movie is great but I was really shocked by how ugly Yoda was sorry if that pisses anybody off but I had only seen baby Yoda and adult Yoda is fucking busted”. And recently, she totally nerded out in the Criterion Collection closet.

The actor shares her love for sexy and stylish heist movies like Charade and Thief; praises the work of Juzo Itami (whom she calls “the G.O.A.T.”) and his wife, Nobuko Miyamoto; and talks about the African American surrealist imagery in To Sleep with Anger.

So infectiously joyful! As one of the YT commenters said:

Between the prepared list on her phone and the Radiohead t-shirt I feel like this was the closest the comments section has been to having one of us in the closet

Reply · 2

There’s a Devil Wears Prada sequel coming… “Gird your loins.”

Reply · 3

XKCD: A Crossword Puzzle

A Crossword Puzzle

Although I am slightly disappointed this isn’t a “real” crossword puzzle, I do admire Randall Munroe’s commitment to the bit. And then there’s the gray letters…

Reply · 7

I’ve linked to these before, but the Do Not Reply images (which gently dunk on social media reply guys) are now available on their own site — and you can order IRL stickers too.

Reply · 0