Quick Links for December 2020

Vermont has a monolith now. This is less than an hour from my house...I suppose I should make a pilgrimage?  wcax.com
Making a digital clock in Google Sheets. "'This is cool, really cool, but I feel like maybe you need an intervention' - Friend's reaction when I showed them this."  therobinlord.com
Several ways to think about the question "Is a hot dog a sandwich?" I love the incorrectly cut bagel halfway down the thread: "Gaze upon it. Can you accept this, in your heart? Can you call this a sandwich?"  twitter.com
American schoolchildren are going through school shooting drills while learning from home. Our society is sick sick sick.  slate.com
New cosmological observations confirm that the universe is expanding faster than expected. The search continues for "some unknown quickening agent" that's driving the expansion.  quantamagazine.org
True bookstore stories from the holiday season. "...a book called The Shrunken White Elephants of Style..."  twitter.com
Death to 2020 is a mockumentary by the Black Mirror creators about the year that was. Leslie Jones in the trailer: "I'd say [2020] was a train wreck and a shitshow but that would be unfair to trains and shit."  youtube.com
From Open Culture, a collection of explainer videos about how vaccines work.  openculture.com
"Trump's cult of personality inspired abundant irrational betting" with MAGA worshipers continuing to back him in betting markets to win the election well into December. "It's the most irrational market I ever saw."  slate.com
"There has been no serious effort to confront the particular challenges of what it is to be single — to be alone — in 2020."  nytimes.com
Russia's FSB (the modern-day version of the KGB and under the control of Putin) tried to assassinate opposition leader Alexei Navalny back in August. Navalny was able to fool an FSB operative into telling him all about the attempt for 49 minutes.  bellingcat.com
Good thread by @trvrb on the variant of SARS-CoV-2 that has emerged in the UK. Looks like it spreads more rapidly but we don't know by how much and exactly why yet.  twitter.com
The death rate in the US increased by ~15% over last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. "That would mark the largest single-year percentage leap since 1918" (WWI + flu pandemic).  apnews.com
Symptomatic people who have tested positive for Covid-19 are out there flying on commercial airlines like 300,000+ people haven't died in the US.  nytimes.com
An Ode to the Before Times.  nytimes.com
When we can travel safely again, I would like to go to Muncie, Indiana to visit the Bob Ross Experience, a permanent exhibition dedicated to the painter and his iconic show, The Joy of Painting.  thisiscolossal.com
From NiemanLab: Predictions for Journalism 2021. "Each year, we ask some of the smartest people in journalism and media what they think is coming in the next 12 months."  niemanlab.org
This is an upsetting, puzzling, and incredible read about a journalist who fell in love with "pharma bro" Martin Shkreli. "Over the course of nine months...Smythe quit her job, moved out of the apartment, and divorced her husband."  elle.com
Just like a broken clock is right twice a day, here are 13 positive effects of Trump's presidency. "Trump's legendary laziness has left the world a cleaner and greener place."  theatlantic.com
Mohammad Hussain has some observations about Christmas – his first – which he is approaching with "anthropological precision". "Observation 7: The religious aspect of Christmas is optional."  twitter.com
The Ban Christmas movement (and SantaCon!) in America dates back to at least 1659 when Massachusetts Puritans banned the holiday for 22 years.  openculture.com
How Storyboarding Works: A Brief Introduction to How Ridley Scott, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson & Other Directors Storyboard Their Films.  openculture.com
I've been thinking about this question from @helfitzgerald all week: "Do you really miss pre-pandemic life, or do you just miss being a little bit younger than you are?"  griefbacon.substack.com
Nature's list of ten people who helped shape science in 2020, including "a COVID vaccine developer, an Arctic voyager and a prime minister".  nature.com
HBO Max is finally available on the Roku.  blog.roku.com
From Rob Walker, The 15 Objects That Defined 2020. Face masks, sweatpants, rubber bullets, heat lamps, monoliths, and Home Depot's 12-foot skeleton.  marker.medium.com
Maira Kalman has illustrated a new book based on her friend David Byrne's hit Broadway show American Utopia.  bookshop.org
Ian McKellen after getting vaccinated for Covid-19: "I feel very lucky to have had the vaccine. I would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone."  twitter.com
People Thought Covid-19 Was Relatively Harmless for Younger Adults. They Were Wrong. "New research shows that July may have been the deadliest month for young adults in modern American history."  nytimes.com
The effect of so many restaurants closing will be devastating to the nation. Beyond shameful that government has done so little to help the industry and all the people it employs.  eater.com
Tales of wedding photographers in the time of Covid. "I've been in hotel ballrooms inside and it's been packed like sardines and everyone's having a great time. No one's wearing masks."  texasmonthly.com
Wow, This American Life is 25 years old.  thisamericanlife.org
Several notable copyrighted works will enter the public domain in the US in 2021: The Great Gatsby, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Alain Locke's The New Negro, films by Lloyd & Keaton, music by Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, and Duke Ellington.  web.law.duke.edu
A division of the CDC is developing standards for face mask filtration effectiveness. Great, but where was this in April or May?  nytimes.com
Virus levels are high in the US so gathering is dangerous right now. But with effective vaccines arriving and treatment improving, there is genuine hope. So, a suggestion from @zeynep: hold off on gatherings for a few months to keep everyone safe.  theatlantic.com
How Citizen Kane became considered the greatest film ever made.  vulture.com
The interesting/unfortunate thing about Tom Cruise yelling at his Mission Impossible crew for not following Covid-19 guidelines is that Cruise's pictured mask is vented. When he exhales, he unsafely spreads unfiltered air to those around him.  variety.com
My pal Jessamyn noticed that Vermont's fleet of snowplows are unnamed, so she's soliciting some good names on Twitter. So far, I like Bernie Sander, How Now Brown Plow, Maplow Syrup, and Charles Vermontgomery Burns.  twitter.com
This is really fun: Blob Opera. "Play four voices with the help of machine learning."  artsandculture.google.com
Covid Trial Dash: search for Covid-19 vaccine trials to participate in near you.  coviddash.org
Debunking false claims about Covid-19 deaths. "A larger share of Americans died in the 1st 9 months of 2020 than in any of past 50 yrs" and (after cancer & heart disease) Covid-19 was the 3rd leading cause of death in the US this year.  twitter.com
"As wealthy governments race to lock in supplies of Covid-19 vaccines, nearly a quarter of the world's population — mostly in low and middle-income countries — will not have access to a shot until 2022."  statnews.com
Time magazine got theirs wrong but the Financial Times didn't: BioNTech's Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci are the FT People of the Year for the development of a Covid-19 vaccine in just 11 months.  ft.com
Paloma Elsesser is on the cover of the Jan 2021 issue of Vogue and this video where she sees the cover for the first time and shows her mom & grandma is 100% pure happy energy.  instagram.com
Recommendations of books spotted in the background of at-home TV appearances of folks like Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Jemele Hill, and Rosie Perez.  nytimes.com
20 charts that tell the story of 2020.  vox.com
As the US death toll passes 300,000, families whose loved ones have died from Covid-19 are becoming more explicit in their obituaries about the circumstances of their deaths and the need for their fellow Americans to take the pandemic seriously.  nytimes.com
The Pfizer & Moderna Covid-19 vaccine results indicate that a single dose might be highly effective in curbing infection. Here @zeynep muses about the pros (getting more ppl vaccinated quicker) and cons (not enough data yet) of single dosing.  twitter.com
Kim Stanley Robinson: "The solution here is simply to consider [capturing CO2 out of the air] a public utility creating a public good, like roads, national defense, fresh water, or sewage disposal — and pay for it as such."  bloomberg.com
From Nature: 10 remarkable scientific discoveries made in 2020.  nature.com
Austin Kleon on The Vampire Test, "a simple way to know who you should let in and out of your life".  austinkleon.com
For a new project, Roxane Gay is looking for nonfiction essays from emerging writers. Pays $2000/story. Details here.  gay.submittable.com
As always, lots of good writing on Bloomberg's Jealousy List for 2020, stories the magazine's staffers wish they'd written. (At times, @kottke could be read as a rolling jealousy list.)  bloomberg.com
Susan Orlean on why she reads mostly on the Kindle. Same here. If paper books were the only option, I'd probably end up reading only one book a year, at the beach in July.  susanorlean.medium.com
The first Covid-19 vaccinations in the US were administered this morning in Queens. Only 11 months after the first diagnosed case in the country. What an amazing achievement.  nytimes.com
Cleveland's baseball team will finally stop using the racist Indians name.  nytimes.com
This is an amazing & wonderful story of two people helping each other through tough times.  twitter.com
The FDA has approved Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use in the US.  fda.gov
A rocket booster used to take an unmanned spacecraft to the Moon in 1966 has re-entered Earth orbit after 54 years.  arstechnica.com
If you need a laugh this morning, perhaps Muppet bloopers will do the trick?  twitter.com
Elie Wiesel, upon accepting his Nobel Peace Prize 34 years ago: "We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."  brainpickings.org
Scott Frank and Anya Taylor-Joy, respectively the writer/director and lead actor of The Queen's Gambit, are teaming up on a new project: a film adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's 1932 novel "Laughter in the Dark".  salon.com
"The worst people imaginable are dining out, study finds." Tipping is down, sexual harassment is up, and staff are being asked by patrons to "take off your mask so I know how much to tip you".  metrotimes.com
Astronauts may come back to Earth with a different accent (caused by a lack of gravity pulling on their tongues while speaking).  tiktok.com
A look at life in countries that have controlled Covid-19 very well. "I don't feel anxious about catching the virus. I don't feel scared about not wearing a mask to public places. For lack of a better word, it's really normal."  buzzfeednews.com
New poll: Americans' interest in taking a Covid-19 vaccine is up and more people are concerned about the pandemic & spending time at home, but "a small minority" (male, GOP, underinformed) are spending significant time indoors and unmasked.  ipsos.com
Ikea is discontinuing their print catalog after 70 years.  printmag.com
From Sarah Larson at the New Yorker, the best podcasts of 2020. Great list, but IMO any list that leaves off @yourewrongabout is incomplete.  newyorker.com
Some good guidance from the CDC about ventilation interventions that individuals, schools, businesses, and other facilities can use to mitigate indoor transmission of Covid-19. Ventilation is important and US businesses are still not up to speed.  cdc.gov
Here's Why Vaccinated People Still Need to Wear a Mask. "The new vaccines will probably prevent you from getting sick with Covid. No one knows yet whether they will keep you from spreading the virus to others..."  nytimes.com
Nepal and China have announced the results of a new official measurement: Mount Everest is officially 29,031 feet tall. "According to Nepal's Department of Survey, the measurement is within centimeters of accuracy."  kathmandupost.com
The FDA's analysis of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is looking really good. "This is what an A+ report card looks like for a vaccine."  nytimes.com
Apple calling their new $550 over-the-ear headphones "AirPods Max" seems...weird?  apple.com
Saying goodbye to 500 places that have closed in NYC during the pandemic. "It is difficult to locate the right perspective from which to mourn the death of a favorite business when we are also surrounded by sickness and death."  curbed.com
My Pal Adam Kuban is teaching a virtual class on "the recipe and techniques for his bar-style pizza".  slowrisepizza.com
BREAKING NEWS: Break-dancing will debut at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.  espn.com
Bill Gates has a new book about climate change coming out in February: How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need.  bookshop.org
Important thing to know about the Covid-19 vaccines: they will keep you from getting sick *but* a vaccinated person may still be able to transmit the virus to others. "This is how vaccines generally work..."  twitter.com
How Japanese People Stay Fit for Life, Without Ever Visiting a Gym. "The first thing we wanted was just to get people walking. Everyone can do that. You walk, you talk, you get exercise and that helps build up a sense of community."  kokumura.medium.com
Combat at the Movies. "In each game you will encounter a classic film as acted out by one or more tanks from the game Combat by Atari." Movies include Citizen Kane, 2001, and Tokyo Story.  pippinbarr.github.io
"When a high school student invents the 1st DNA tricorder"  twitter.com
'Tis the season: how to make your own "John McClane in the air duct" Die Hard Christmas tree ornament.  unlikelywords.com
How Dating During a Pandemic Is Like Being in a Jane Austen Novel. "You regularly inquire about the health of each other's family members."  newyorker.com
24 high-quality Covid illustrations. Free for commercial and personal use.  pixeltrue.com
How 700 Epidemiologists Are Living Now, and What They Think Is Next. "I expect that wearing a mask will become part of my daily life, moving forward, even after a vaccine is deployed." <– same  nytimes.com
"Your top artist was Said It Was Leaked Radiohead But It Was Actually Something Else"  twitter.com
A Thousand Worlds is a collection of children's picture books curated by BIPOC book critics and leaders in the industry.  athousandworlds.org
What the world needs now: pumpkin spice bologna?  sandwichtribunal.com
How to post a tweet that contains a link to the tweet itself. "Fundamentally the challenge is just correctly guessing what ID a given tweet is going to get..."  oisinmoran.com
Warner Bros. is releasing all 17 of their 2021 movies (plus Wonder Woman 1984) simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. Films include Dune, the new Space Jam, The Suicide Squad, and Matrix 4.  medium.com
Great lede from a high school journalism student about a hypothetical fire in the cafeteria. Quick, someone hire her!  twitter.com
"The story of the coronavirus in [Iowa] is one of government inaction in the name of freedom and personal responsibility." Heartbreaking and heartbreakingly avoidable. This extremist philosophy has got to be stamped out.  theatlantic.com
Old Time Radio is an internet radio station that broadcasts olde tyme radio shows like Buck Rogers, Fibber McGee and Molly, Hopalong Cassidy, and Speed Gibson of the International Secret Police.  oldtime.radio
The monolith wars might be the dumbest thing about 2020  vice.com
Video of the closed Verrazano Bridge oscillating in high winds. Don't miss the musical tune played by the bridge as it flexes – it sounds like a track from the score of Christopher Nolan's next film.  twitter.com
This seems really useful: get your pandemic questions answered by a "team of researchers and clinicians with expertise including nursing, mental health, demography, health policy/economics, and epidemiology".  dearpandemic.org
If @kottke readers have been wondering where @tcarmody went last year, he explains in a long, brutally honest newsletter entry. "Stick with me a little longer, and I think we can make this work."  amazonchronicles.substack.com
Japanese businesses that last for hundreds of years (like a 1020-year-old mochi shop) may hold some lessons on how to build a resilient business. "Each generation is like a runner in a relay race. What's important is passing the baton."  nytimes.com
Repurposing WWII-era posters warning against sexually transmitted diseases for the Covid-19 era. "Covid can be cured. But there's no medicine for regret."  printmag.com
From the NY Times, The 25 Greatest Actors of the 21st Century (So Far), including Michael B. Jordan, Saoirse Ronan, Viola Davis, Keanu Reeves, and Daniel Day-Lewis. Would love to see a companion list of 25 obvious omissions.  nytimes.com
Paul Ford interprets the Salesforce press release about the company's purchase of Slack. "The raw hot synergy coming off this paragraph could merge lead into gold."  ftrain.medium.com
I raised my kids on Pixar – and it has ruined classic cinema for them. "The 13-year-old's counterpoint, incidentally, is that the kids are OK and it is adults who have been ruined by Game of Thrones."  theguardian.com
Revenge bedtime procrastination: "[when] people who don't have much control over their daytime life refuse to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late-night hours".  bbc.com
From @tedgioia: a list of the 100 best albums of 2020.  tedgioia.com
How Your COVID-Flooded Hospital Will Triage. In California: "Doctors recommended not to try saving those already dying."  talkingpointsmemo.com
Syllabus for a Harvard class on Transgender Rights and the Law. "How does American law treat transgender, genderfluid, nonbinary, agender, and gender-nonconforming people?"  dropbox.com
Ed Yong shares a list of his must-read stories of the pandemic.  getpocket.com
Japan's govt is subsidizing 80-100% of wages due to Covid-19. Norway: up to 90%. Italy: 80%. The US: 0%. We're killing people, destroying businesses, and bankrupting folks because, god forbid, we can't possibly just give people money!  twitter.com
The main platform of the Arecibo Observatory collapsed this morning.  twitter.com
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