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  Quick Links for May 2020

Artist Christo died today at age 84. The Gates in Central Park is one of my favorite public artworks I've ever experienced in person.  instagram.com
Police Erupt in Violence Nationwide. "Here are some of the ways law enforcement officers escalated the national unrest."  slate.com
30 Movies That Are Unlike Anything You've Seen Before, incl. The Act of Killing, Just Another Girl on the I.R.T., Morvern Callar, and The Portrait of a Lady.  theatlantic.com
More Than 100,000 People Have Died Of The Coronavirus In The US. "Public health experts say the real number of infections and deaths from COVID-19 is likely much higher than the official count."  buzzfeednews.com
Adobe is offering their entire 99U Conference online this year for free (it's regularly ~$1000). Talks, classes, and workshops from folks like Kelli Anderson, Taeyoon Choi, Yancey Strickler, and Michelle Rial.  conference.99u.com
Protestors Criticized For Looting Businesses Without Forming Private Equity Firm First. "It's disgusting to put workers at risk by looting. You do it by chipping away at their health benefits and eventually laying them off."  theonion.com
Birding While Black. "I've seen a shit-ton of birds from sea level to alpine tundra. But as a black man in America I've grown up with a profile."  lithub.com
75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice. "40. Don't be silent about that racist joke. Silence is support."  medium.com
NVIDIA trained an AI to not only play Pac-Man but to generate a fully functional version of the game. "We were blown away when we saw the results, in disbelief that AI could recreate the iconic PAC-MAN experience without a game engine."  blogs.nvidia.com
A lovely collection of photos by @tara_wray of her older neighbors in Vermont and how they are coping with the pandemic.  npr.org
Holy crap, they still make Hypercolor shirts?! "A heat activated unisex color changing tshirt for men that changes color when you touch it or by your surrounding heat."  amazon.com
Great compilation by Open Culture: The 135 Best Podcasts to Enrich Your Mind.  openculture.com
Designer Sara Little Turnbull pioneered non-woven fabrics at 3M, which eventually led to the development of the N95 mask.  designmuseumfoundation.org
A short summary of the current research: what we know and don't yet know about Covid-19. "We don't yet know how long immunity lasts. Once you get it once, will you be immune for a month? A year? A lifetime?"  twitter.com
Tomorrow NASA is launching astronauts into orbit from the US for the first time since 2011. They'll ride in a spacecraft built by SpaceX, which will become the first private company to launch humans into space.  theverge.com
Japan has had success against Covid-19 so far without a national lockdown or mass testing. How did they do it? Early, aggressive, and competent contact tracing & "an expert-led approach" are two reasons.  bloomberg.com
A low dispersion factor of SARS-CoV-2 may indicate that most people don't spread the disease. "We are certainly seeing a lot of concentrated clusters where a small proportion of people are responsible for a large proportion of infections."  sciencemag.org
J.K. Rowling has posted online the first two chapters of a new fairy tale called The Ickabog (unrelated to the Wizarding World btw). A book version will be published in November w/ all royalties going to Covid-19 relief.  theickabog.com
What happens if Trump tries to cancel the election, shuts down urban polling places, contests the election results, or refuses to leave the White House? He was always going to attempt this stuff – the pandemic just makes it waaaay easier.  nytimes.com
Wearing masks is a public health issue. "No shoes, no shirt, no mask, no service."  daringfireball.net
"SARS-CoV-2 blocks one virus-fighting set of genes but allows another set to launch, a pattern never seen with other viruses", which allows it to easily spread in the lungs. But, this may also point the way towards a preventative treament.  statnews.com
The 2020 Minnesota State Fair has been cancelled "for only the sixth time in a history that predates the US Civil War." The last time it was cancelled was in 1946 because of the polio epidemic.  startribune.com
Results of a large study about the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine & chloroquine for Covid-19 treatment: "People treated with either drug had a higher mortality rate, as well as an increased risk of developing ventricular arrhythmia."  theverge.com
This is weird: John Krasinski sold Some Good News to ViacomCBS "following a massive bidding war" and will no longer host the show. All good things, etc.  hollywoodreporter.com
A profile of LearnedLeague, the invite-only online trivia tournament, and its founder. "Twelve people have walked on the Moon; only three have won the Commissioner T.A. Integrity Scarf as LearnedLeague Champion."   theringer.com
I am a simple potato guardian who needs my Second Amendment rights. "I can't believe the governor would come for our Second Amendment rights. No potato will be safe then. It's monstrous."  washingtonpost.com
Taking advantage of the empty roads of the pandemic lockdown, the record for the fastest car trip across the US has been broken several times. The current record is less than 26 hours (which means they averaged 107mph across the entire US).  whichcar.com.au
Advice for getting children & their grandparents back together again. "Once you're confident in your family's quarantine vigilance for 14 days, it's less risky to visit an older family member. But go with a plan."  nytimes.com
After The Empire Strikes Back opened in 1980 in a few theaters in 70mm, George Lucas *changed the end of the movie* before its wider 35mm release 3 weeks later. "I don't wanna tell you this. We need some more shots for Empire."  starwars.com
A new photograph (a self-portrait, no less) of blues legend Robert Johnson has surfaced.  vanityfair.com
Despite what you may see on TV news media, polls say a majority of Americans believe wearing masks is a matter of public health and is a sign of respectfulness (69%) not weakness (8%).  huffpost.com
The Young Vic is streaming their 2014 production of A Streetcar Named Desire with Gillian Anderson as Blanche DuBois for free on YouTube for the next week.  youtube.com
A barber training video from 1950 shows trainees practicing shaving with straight razors on balloons.  youtube.com
Scientists are releasing a recalibration of radiocarbon dating techniques that increases their accuracy, extends the useful range by 5,000 years, and may "shift the age of some prehistoric samples hundreds of years".  nature.com
When developing new typefaces, pangrams like "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" are bad for testing out real-world letter combinations & letter frequency. So Jonathan Hoefler wrote some new text that includes dozens of useful common combos.  typography.com
Ed Yong on America's Patchwork Pandemic. "In a pandemic, the actions of 50 uncoordinated states will be less than the sum of their parts. Only the federal government has pockets deep enough to fund the extraordinary public-health effort now needed."  theatlantic.com
In less than a week, a grad student casually solved a famous math problem that had gone unsolved for decades. When she told her advisor: "He started yelling, 'Why aren't you more excited?'"  quantamagazine.org
A Succession insult generator. "FitBit moron whatever people." "He looks waxy, like an unshaven candle."  alexislloyd.com
"If at least 60% of the population wore masks that were just 60% effective in blocking viral transmission – which a well-fitting, two-layer cotton mask is – the epidemic could be stopped." STOPPED.  newyorker.com
This set of photos is a lovely reminder that my home state of Wisconsin is more than a political garbage fire.  theatlantic.com
Mount St. Helens erupted 40 years ago today. Here are some photos of the eruption and the aftermath.  theatlantic.com
We should all be required to wear masks in public. "This evidence seems, to me, clear and simple: COVID-19 is spread by droplets. We can see directly that a piece of cloth blocks those droplets and the virus those droplets contain."  theconversation.com
Pizza Arbitrage. "If someone could pay Doordash $16 a pizza, and Doordash would pay his restaurant $24 a pizza, then he should clearly just order pizzas himself via Doordash, all day long. You'd net a clean $8 profit per pizza."  themargins.substack.com
What's the last "normal" photo you took with your phone before the pandemic & lockdown hit?  bbc.com
"Cornelia Vertenstein, a Holocaust survivor, is still teaching piano lessons over FaceTime from her Denver home."  nytimes.com
Here's How Time Works Now. "A minute can now either be one hour, or it can take 3.5 seconds. We hope you enjoy this new feature."  mcsweeneys.net
The latest issue of the @kottke newsletter just went out. Prince, book recs, Covid slang, and more!  mailchi.mp
A playable simulation of the SpaceX Dragon 2 capsule's docking interface with the International Space Station  iss-sim.spacex.com
On March 24, Janice Brown was the first person to test positive for SARS-CoV-2 in her CA town. After recovering, she tested positive for a second time on April 21. "Is it a reinfection or the same infection? We don't know."  latimes.com
I really enjoyed this discussion between Ezra Klein and Madeline Miller (author of Circe & Song of Achilles). "When you do get everything you want, when you do have absolutely everything, it doesn't make you a good person, actually."  vox.com
The cast & crew of Back to the Future reunite via video chat, incl. Christopher Lloyd, Michael J. Fox, Lea Thompson, Elizabeth Shue, Huey Lewis, etc.  youtube.com
Fascinating & heartbreaking little vignettes from those who are living alone during the pandemic. "I live for the day when I can hold the hands of those I love."  nytimes.com
Every episode of The Office recreated in Slack  theofficeslack.com
The only way to order KFC in Gaza is via an ad hoc Instagram service. "The KFC order will only make it to Gaza after crossing checkpoints supervised by Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and finally, Hamas."  restofworld.org
Little Richard quit rock & roll because "a big ball of fire" appeared in the night sky during a concert, which he took as a sign from God. It was actually Sputnik.  oxfordamerican.org
Director David Lynch is doing a daily weather report on YouTube. "Here in LA, we've got clouds and kinda foggy weather with some blue shining through, 62 degrees Fahrenheit..."  youtube.com
Bypassing a theatrical release, the video recording of Lin Manuel-Miranda's Hamilton is coming to Disney+ on July 3. "The 2 hour, 40 minute movie was shot two weeks before the original cast left."  deadline.com
A short excerpt of a Scientific American article from 1863: Experts Doubt the Sun Is Actually Burning Coal.  scientificamerican.com
The surface of Venus is currently hot enough to melt lead (863 °F) but new research suggests that the planet could have been habitable for billions of years.  eos.org
Steven Johnson has a new book coming out tomorrow, Enemy of All Mankind, about "the emergence of the East India Company, the British Empire, and the modern global marketplace: a densely interconnected planet ruled by nations and corporations".  bookshop.org
Virologist Peter Piot, one of the co-discoverers of the Ebola virus, came down with Covid-19 and had to be hospitalized. "Now that I have felt the compelling presence of a virus in my body myself, I look at viruses differently."  sciencemag.org
An interesting thread about the extensive measures taken by South Korea to stem the spread of Covid-19. In America, we'd rather let hundreds of thousands of people die than submit to something so inconvenient.  twitter.com
Medical bias & Covid-19: In a pilot study of 27,000 patients, "black patients were six times less likely to get treatment or testing than white patients". Six times!  nytimes.com
Little Richard has died at the age of 87.  rollingstone.com
There is only one known strain of SARS-CoV-2. The term strain is "reserved only for special changes that confer a new property to the virus".  virology.ws
"A genetic study of samples from more than 7,500 people infected with COVID-19 suggests the new coronavirus spread quickly around the world after it emerged in China sometime between October and December last year."  reuters.com
The experience of air travel has long been terrible and the pandemic has made it worse. "At the food court, a shouting match broke out among several stressed-out strangers, and police had to intervene."  theatlantic.com
Scunthorpe Sans is a font that automatically censors bad language. "Modern fonts can combine letters into a single ligature, usually for things like fi or fl but you can pick anything so we've done it for swears."  vole.wtf
The accuracy of weather forecasting has taken a hit during the pandemic because it relies on data collected by commercial airliners, which aren't flying in great numbers.  nytimes.com
Admitting that "it shouldn't be making so many decisions about speech and online safety on its own", Facebook has convened an independent oversight board.  oversightboard.com
The two men who killed Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia 2.5 months ago have finally been arrested and charged with murder.  nytimes.com
The latest issue of the @kottke newsletter just went out  mailchi.mp
Black & white photos of kids cruising Van Nuys Boulevard in summer 1972 in their low-riders, hot rods, muscle cars, if-this-van's-a-rockin vans, etc.  designyoutrust.com
"Well, I’m pleased to announce that, even though the velociraptors are still on the loose, we will be opening Jurassic Park back up to the public!"  mcsweeneys.net
To deal with the stress, anxiety, and boredom of the pandemic, some are turning to cannabis. “Smoking cannabis has helped people stay inside for generations!”  newyorker.com
Drive-in raves & concerts are becoming a thing in Europe.  openculture.com
Tips From Someone With Nearly 50 Years Of Social Distancing Experience. "1. Keep track of something. 2. Keep a routine."  npr.org
The American desensitization to death is one of the things that makes us susceptible to nationalist authoritarians.  twitter.com
The heavy price of the American brand of freedom & liberty. "This country seems resigned to preventable firearm deaths. It appears that the same is starting to happen with fatalities from the pandemic."  nytimes.com
A short piece on what it's like to fly an electric airplane. "For the moment, what gets from a battery to the propeller is about one-fifteenth, per pound, of what we get from avgas."  flyingmag.com
An interview with Estelle Caswell, creator of Vox's excellent Earworm video series. The bit about YouTube demonetizing their videos is infuriating. "YouTube's content ID algorithm has no idea what fair use is."  musicjournalism.substack.com
A lovely account of a month-long journey through Peru to experience some of the 4000+ varieties of native potatoes, which often "have far more vitamins and amino acids than the common white potatoes we find at home".  emergencemagazine.org
I love this: The Pudding is testing the "infinite monkey theorem" by having a computer program randomly try to play the first notes of familiar songs. The Imperial March from Star Wars took ~1.3 billion attempts to get right.  pudding.cool
The trailer for Space Force, an upcoming Netflix comedy series starring Steve Carell from "the crew that brought you The Office".  youtube.com
The Art of the New Deal: Why the Federal Government Funded the Arts During the Great Depression. "He turns the question about who 'deserves' relief on its head. Dance may not be necessary by some people's lights but eating most certainly is."  openculture.com
Not liking the thing that everyone else is (very publicly) loving can be a tough row to hoe. "It seems like everyone in the world loves [Fiona Apple's] "Fetch the Bolt Cutters." So why don't I? On the isolation of disconnection."  longreads.com
Recent testing shows a man tested positive for Covid-19 in France in late December 2019. "The absence of a link with China and the lack of recent travel suggest that the disease was already spreading among the French population at the end of Dec 2019."  sciencedirect.com
Potential public health breakthrough: a parasitic fungi has been found that "completely protects mosquitoes from being infected with malaria". 400,000 people die every year from the disease.  bbc.com
The 2020 Pulitzer Prize winners  pulitzer.org
Andy Baio explores OpenAI's Jukebox, "a sophisticated neural network capable of generated original music in the style of various artists and genres, complete with rudimentary singing and vocal mannerisms".  waxy.org
An honest pandemic Q&A with Dave Eggers. "Having no plan is the plan! Haven't you been listening? Plans are for commies and the Danish. Here we do it fast and loose and dumb and wrong..."  nytimes.com
The Man Who Runs 365 Marathons a Year. "People are capable of way more than they think they are."  outsideonline.com
Great thread by Ed Yong on "some people I respect, who've created some of the pandemic writing that's really stuck with me"  twitter.com
On the latest episode of Some Good News, John Krasinski throws a virtual graduation ceremony for the class of 2020 with the help of Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Malala Yousafzai, and Jon Stewart.  youtube.com
The problem with "natural" herd immunity & Covid-19 is that millions will die. "If the pandemic went uncontrolled in the United States, it could continue for months after herd immunity was reached, infecting many more millions in the process."  nytimes.com
"The world is on lockdown. So where are all the carbon emissions coming from?" Emissions have only dropped 5.5%. At this pace, even if the pandemic lasted for years, it wouldn't be enough to keep the world under 1.5°C of warming.  grist.org
This article's title contains the phrase "Murder Hornet". I needn't say anything more – you're either going to click or not.  nytimes.com
What to Ask Instead of 'How Are You?' During a Pandemic. "Everyone's doing badly. We need better questions to ask."  theatlantic.com
This is unfortunately spot on: the US federal government wasted all of April in responding to the pandemic, placing us in a deadly holding pattern.  twitter.com
The Sound of Gravity, a short documentary about the decades-long quest to detect gravitational waves, which culminated in a Nobel Prize.  nytimes.com
Zip tie art? Zip tie art!  thisiscolossal.com
ICANN has blocked the transfer of the management of the .org domain from a non-profit to a private equity group.  theverge.com
The Library of Congress has released the preview version of a tool that will allow artists to use audio samples from the LOC's massive collection of audio.  consequenceofsound.net
A visualization of wealth shown to scale. 1 pixel = $1000. Keep scrolling through the wealth of Jeff Bezos (it takes awhile). "Jeff is so wealthy, that it is quite literally unimaginable."  mkorostoff.github.io
April 2020 Archives »