Quick Links for November 2021

Our 33 Favorite Photobooks by Women and Non-binary Photographers in 2021.
The Omicron variant was "already spreading in western Europe before the first cases were identified in southern Africa". Again, we should be thanking Botswana & South Africa for raising the alarm so quickly here.
A look at how The National Gallery made frames by hand for six massive paintings by Titian. The gold gilding process was interesting...I'd never seen that done before.
Artist Sophie Calle took a job as a hotel maid and "with a camera and tape recorder hidden in her mop bucket, she recorded whatever she found in the rooms that she had been charged with cleaning." Fascinating project (and artist).
Hypothesis: Succession is based on The Berenstain Bears.
Font data from @anildash's 1993 floppy disk containing Prince's signature glyph has been recovered by @adafruit and is now a part of the Internet Archive.
TIL that the person who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey was an enslaved Black man named Nathan "Nearest" Green. Green went on to become the first master distiller for the Jack Daniel Distillery (but was written out of the story until recently).
Photography pioneer Frances McLaughlin-Gill "wasn't the first fashion photographer to work outside of the studio, but she pioneered and perfected the art of shooting models in candid urban scenes – now a ubiquitous component of fashion photography."
Spotify playlist with dozens of covers of Beatles songs. via @openculture
It was going to take a decade and $1-2 million to restore a dry California grassland but a group of beavers building dams did it in just three years (it cost just $58,000 to prep the land for the beavers).
A bad lip reading of Dune. via @waxy
A long profile of legendary director Hayao Miyazaki, who is coming out of retirement (again) to make a new film. "He still draws the majority of the frames in each film, numbering in the tens of thousands, himself."
TIL that the Chevy Suburban has been in production under that same name since 1935. The concept of the "suburb" seems so tied to the 40s and 50s that the name feels almost prophetic to me.
South Africa is being unfairly punished for having one of the world's best Covid variant detection systems in the world. They should be lauded for warning the rest of us about what is already out there circulating.
Taking group pics with random people in public. Love this.
Jack Dorsey has stepped down as Twitter CEO (again). He will also give up his seat on the board.
Why We Need to Upgrade Our Face Masks — and Where to Get Them. Once more, with feeling: if you're still using a cloth mask indoors, upgrade your mask (and wear it properly).
Watching creativity happen in real time as Paul McCartney conjures a hit song out of seemingly nowhere. "Paul really has nothing at the 30 second mark – but 45 seconds later he's got the makings of a hit single."
We've been living in a flu pandemic era since 1918. A universal flu vaccine, which is currently being pursued by many research teams, could potentially rid us of all influenza in one fell swoop.
What?! Fashion designer Virgil Abloh has died of cancer at the age of 41.
The WHO has named the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 a "Variant of Concern". This really doesn't look good.
This list of "10 Things That Could Go Wrong In The 21st Century" written for Wired magazine in 1997 seems uncannily accurate, particularly regarding Russia, Covid, EU problems, and "social and cultural backlash stops progress dead in its tracks".
The Covid booster shot doesn't just restore immunity against symptomatic infection, it "elevates protection well above the peak level from two doses". Booster shot = increased safety for yourself and your community.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture has launched an online counterpart called the Searchable Museum, "a place to explore history and culture through an African American lens". via @colossal
NASA launched a mission this morning to demonstrate the capability to knock a potentially hazardous asteroid away from Earth.
Is that the Three Identical Strangers with Madonna on the streets of NYC?! (Yes, and it turns out this is from Desperately Seeking Susan.)
Covid vaccination rates vs death rates in Europe. There appears to be an inflection point around 75%. (The US is currently at 71%.)
The climate crisis demands bold action. "City governments should purchase an electronic bicycle for every resident over the age of 15 who wants one" and "shut down a significant number of streets to be used only by bicycles".
A ranking of all 63 US National Parks. Yosemite, Redwood, Olympic, and Glacier all score high, but several other well-known parks get dinged for being too crowded.
Ridley Scott says he's doing a Blade Runner TV series.
"You probably like some types of fries more than others. The 3D modeling of various fry shapes illuminates why this might be."
I don't know why I'm posting a ranking of the best HBO shows of all time that inexplicably has The Wire at #6, but here we are.
"The bánh mì is a product of colonialism and its attendant violence. In America, the sandwich is also a product of war, displacement, exile, immigration and the hungry genius of those who make lives anew."
Succession, the Montessori preschool version. "We'll go full... fucking... duck-duck-goose!"
One of my all-time favorite online things is someone anonymously posting an iconic Henri Cartier-Bresson photo to Flickr and unaware commenters ripping it apart. "If this is a planned shot, it just didn't come out right."
"The pandemic has proved to be a nearly two-year stress test that the United States flunked, with an already distrustful populace exposed to a level of institutional failure that added fuel to the angry battles over how to respond."
The CDC and FDA approved Moderna and Pfizer Covid booster shots for everyone over 18. Go get your shot if you're eligible!
A lovely series of drawings and observations by @edithzimmerman of the first few weeks with her newborn daughter. "Rarely have words felt so insufficient."
Better to be curious than smart. via @legalnomads
Netflix now has a page of their top movies and TV shows of the week, as measured by hours viewed.
"[Surfing] is best enjoyed with one rider on one wave. As rideable waves are in limited supply, though, it essentially converts surf breaks into a common pool resource problem that breeds substantial potential for (violent) conflict."
From Hiut Denim, the Do One Thing Well List for winter 2021, a collection of "some products, some services, some experiences [that] are just right".
A Frida Kahlo self-portrait sold for $34.5 million at auction, setting a new record for the most expensive artwork by a Latin American artist.
Nice review by @MKBHD of the R1T, Rivian's new compact EV pickup truck. Looks interesting but I had a nice chuckle at all the extra storage spots and literal optional kitchen sink.
On Janet Jackson's Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction. "When a woman's body and sexuality were violated, the person to blame was the woman, especially if she was a woman of color. She brought it on herself by having a body."
Andy Baio has launched Skittish, "a playful space for virtual events and gatherings of all kinds".
Nice review by @mariabustillos of Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography as well as an interview with its author, Laurie Woolever. "It seems clearer to me than ever that the real Bourdain never appeared on TV, and few ever knew him."
The Infinity Saga: a fan-edit of "every MCU movie from Iron Man to Endgame cut into chronological scene order". It's 50 hours long.
From the Pulitzer Center, an online collection of educational resources and programs related to The 1619 Project for educators who are interested in teaching it in their classrooms.
Why Health-Care Workers Are Quitting in Droves. "About one in five health-care workers has left medicine since the pandemic started."
5 Small Switches You Can Make to be More Eco-Friendly.
I've Heard You Have Some Questions About the New University My Friends and I Are Starting. Reader, I chortled.
This is clever: Feneon is a multi-weight typeface where each of the letters is formed from a single, unbroken line. via @sidebario
Wait, But Have You Tried– "Have you tried Whole30? Autoimmune paleo? ... Have you tried Transcendental Meditation? ... Have you considered that you're not allowing yourself to heal?"
"There are two classes of problems caused by new technology. Class 1 problems are due to it not working perfectly. Class 2 problems are due to it working perfectly."
Would 100% watch this movie. Indi Jones and the Looted Statuary.
CT scans of Lego minifigs reveal the incredible precision involved in their manufacture. via @the_prepared
Americans Need to Learn to Live More Like Europeans. "The U.S. economy could be healthier if it were less reliant on consumption."
Earlier this fall, a bar-tailed godwit set the world record for the longest continual flight by a land bird: about 8100 miles and "flapping its wings for 239 hours without rest".
Offscreen magazine will continue under a new editor: founder @kaibrach is passing the editorial torch to @inevernu (who is an occasional @kottke guest editor). Congrats all!
A Secret History of Monopoly. The original inventor of the game, Lizzie Magie, was written out of the story by Parker Brothers because of her anti-capitalist views.
10 pieces of short fiction about what the world will be like in 2031.
Craig Mod is taking another long walk around Japan and documenting it for us, chunking it up into short stints in 10 cities around the country. "I like big walks with strange rules."
"Vizio's profit on ads, subscriptions, and data is double the money it makes selling TVs."
"Outside lies utterly ordinary space open to any casual explorer willing to find the extraordinary. Outside lies unprogrammed awareness that at times becomes directed serendipity. Outside lies magic."
Teaser trailer for the new Downton Abbey movie (out in March 2022). Always down to spend some time with the Crawley family.
Anatomy of a Scene: Watch Timothée Chalamet and Josh Brolin Spar in Dune.
"Covid cases are surging in Europe. America is in denial about what lies in store for it." Reasons include insufficient vaccination (including of kids), waning of immunity, and abandonment of mitigation measures (masks, distancing, etc.)
Just sent out the latest issue of the @kottke newsletter. (It was delayed this morning due to a power outage at my house. Ah, rural life.)
"The eight words that have singlehandedly rehabilitated the lost art of male bonding: 'Do you want to be on my podcast?'"
An oral history of the Processing programming language. "We saw a potential for learning how to code in a more essential and foundational way — that was really the vision of Processing."
Largest psilocybin trial finds the psychedelic is effective in treating serious depression. "29.1% of patients in the highest-dose group were in remission three weeks after treatment, compared to 7.6% of those in the control group."
How to make a CPU. Step 1: Get a rock. Step 2: Smash the rock.
A paralyzed man with a thought-to-text brain implant "achieved typing speeds of 90 characters per minute with 94.1% raw accuracy online, and greater than 99% accuracy offline with a general-purpose autocorrect".
Robin Sloan, a self-proclaimed "full-fledged enemy of Web3", writes about the proposed new version of the web. "So, here comes Web3 – and the basic emotional appeal of NEW OPTIONS cannot be overstated." This is really good.
A new analysis of "24,000 years of climate history, with our current warming being unique in the record".
The UK may be on the verge of completely eliminating cervical cancer in young women (through HPV vaccines). The US, of course, has been less successful. "I'm very, very disturbed that we can't do better in this country."
A New Jersey arcade maintains a list of former patrons who are banned for life, including now-middle aged adults who were banned in the 80s as troublemaker teens. "You can only get off the list by dying." via @waxy
Um, for a limited time Arby's is offering French fry vodka??
When Nikola Tesla Claimed to Have Invented a "Death Ray," Capable of Destroying Enemies 250 Miles Away & Making War Obsolete.
The Untold Story of Sushi in America. "They set out to build God's kingdom – and somehow ended up selling America's raw fish."
Alexis Madrigal writes about his experience getting Covid after 18 months of being ultra-careful. "Don't be fooled: The world's normal only until you test positive."
Oh if you want to get really frustrated with something trivial, try out this online rock stacking simulator. via @waxy
A graduate student from India shares his impressions after 2 months in the US. "The very first thing you notice when you land in the US is the, umm, 'bigness' of it all" and "Policemen are heavily, scarily equipped".
An 8-Year-Old Explains the Metaverse. "One minute you get scammed, another minute you're having the best time of your life, making billions of dollars."
A parents' guide to cutting children's screen time. "Once you have attained mastery [of the martial arts] at the brown-belt level, you are ready to guard your phone or iPad from your children."
U.S. Covid Deaths Get Even Redder. "In October, 25 out of every 100,000 residents of heavily Trump counties died from Covid, more than three times higher than the rate in heavily Biden counties (7.8 per 100,000)."
Does Having Kids Make You Happy? "A deep puzzle remains: Many people would have had happier lives and marriages had they chosen not to have kids – yet they still describe parenthood as the 'best thing they've ever done.'"
From @davepell, a collection of the top feel-good stories of 2021.
South Korea saved 100,000+ lives during the pandemic by following the textbook principles of epidemiology.
Has anyone tried the 4-7-8 breathing technique to fall asleep? I have no problem going to sleep at night but if I wake after 2am, it's almost impossible for me to get back to sleep.
Over half of all humans on Earth have now received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Nothing makes me miss NYC more than a thread about particularly efficient public transportation, e.g. when the subway is most like the Millennium Falcon. (It's the A/D from 59th to 125th for me.)
Pfizer halted the trials for its experimental antiviral pill for Covid-19 early because it was so effective. "Fewer than 1% of patients taking the drug needed to be hospitalized and no one died" vs 7% hosp. and 7 deaths in the comparison group.
Why are rapid at-home Covid tests still so hard to find (and expensive) in the US? This is INTOLERABLE. FIX IT.
Some gorgeous photos of the rugged Faroe Islands from photographer Jonathan Nackstrand.
Here are some of the 455 new words Merriam Webster added to their dictionary this year: FTW, digital nomad, dad bod, oobleck, TBH, long Covid, deplatform, and faux-hawk.
Clive Thompson built a fun web app for right-angle doodling. "It's been pretty well-established that doodling is cognitively useful."
The Root 100, a list of the most influential African Americans aged 25 to 45 for 2021. The list includes NIH viral immunologist Kizzmekia Corbett, 1619 Project instigator Nikole Hannah-Jones, and tech video maven Marques Brownlee.
China's plan to reduce their carbon emissions hinges on nuclear power. "China is planning at least 150 new reactors in the next 15 years, more than the rest of the world has built in the past 35."
ProPublica has created "the most detailed map of cancer-causing industrial air pollution in the US". "In predominantly Black census tracts, the estimated cancer risk from toxic air pollution is more than double that of majority-white tracts."
TIL about "antiprimes", numbers that are highly divisible.
Evan Puschak, who does one of my favorite YouTube channels, The Nerdwriter, is coming out with a book in the spring: Escape into Meaning: Essays on Superman, Public Benches, and Other Obsessions.
A long and interesting interactive piece on curves and surfaces.
Substantially More Monarch Butterflies Have Arrived in California to Overwinter, Bringing Hope For Species.
Bookshop and Penguin Random House are working with independent book stores to provide copies of The 1619 Project to schools and community organizations. You can donate a copy or two, via your local bookstore, here.
9 Ways to 'Rewild Your Attention'. "How to inject more weirdness and randomness into the stuff you read and see." I use many of these techniques in my work here at @kottke.
Which famous old people could identify Nintendo's Mario? "Not only does Rushdie know who Mario is, but also Luigi and, I don't think this is too much of a stretch, Yoshi, Bowser, and the Koopalings."
These 4 charts explain why the stakes are so high at the U.N. climate summit. "The world is not on track to avoid extreme climate change."
The 20 Most Underrated Movies of the Past 20 Years, including Vanilla Sky, Annihilation, We Need to Talk About Kevin, and The Fountain.
New evidence suggests that Viking explorers reached the Azores hundreds of years before the Portuguese arrived in 1427.
October 2021 Archives »