Quick Links for January 2022

Whoa, the NY Times bought Wordle.
Definitely setting aside some time to read Elif Batuman's profile of filmmaker Céline Sciamma, director of Portrait of a Lady on Fire.
From a Sight & Sound poll of video essayists, academics, critics and filmmakers, a list of the best video essays of 2021. So much good good in here. via @gboy
The propagandists at Fox News milked the story of a former WA state trooper who resigned from his job rather than get vaccinated...until he died of Covid-19. Fox hasn't reported his death.
On Scrabble. "Once your brain is attuned to anagrams, you start seeing them everywhere. When I see 'New York,' my brain rearranges it into WONKERY. The 'Hamptons' become PHANTOMS. A street sign reading 'right lane' becomes EARTHLING."
"Multitasking Isn't Progress – It's What Wild Animals Do for Survival".
I Ditched My Smart Watch, and I Don't Regret It. "Once you outsource your well-being to a device and convert it into a number, it stops being yours."
"Almost half of the US Covid-19 hospitalisations this winter could have been averted if the country had matched the vaccination coverage of leading European countries."
Jodi Ettenberg (@legalnomads) on how her life derailed after a botched medical procedure. "Toxic positivity promises that gratitude is all you need... Feeling general appreciation or gratitude does not fix everything when life unspools."
For Jad Abumrad's last show as the host of Radiolab, they rebroadcast a portion of his very first show from almost 20 years ago.
A preview of the Whitney Biennial, which opens in April in NYC.
The release of two cookbooks, Dinner in One by Melissa Clark and Turkey and the Wolf by Mason Hereford, has been delayed for months because all the copies might be at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean (container ship accident).
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. As the events of that horrific period in human history slip from living memory, it becomes more important to not forgot what happened and why.
"A new study suggests that regular cash payments to parents can speed up brain activity in infants."
Seven technologies to watch in 2022. They're almost all biological/genetic: targeted genetic therapies, precise genome manipulation, CRISPR-based diagnostics, etc.
CityLab: How the Dutch Delivered a Traffic Safety Revolution. The safety of Dutch and US streets in the 70s was roughly the same but "by 2019, the fatality rate in the Netherlands had plummeted to 34 per million, 70% lower than that in the U.S."
Research reveals four factors that may increase chances of Long Covid: the level of coronavirus RNA in the blood early in the infection, presence of autoantibodies, reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus, and Type 2 diabetes.
A school board in Tennessee has banned Maus, a Pulitzer prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, because of some curse words and a naked cartoon mouse.
A photo of Olympic skateboarder Lizzie Armanto was chosen for the cover of Macmillan's Preparation for Calculus textbook.
Wow, Jad Abumrad is stepping away from hosting Radiolab after almost 20 years. One of the absolute best of the OG podcasters.
The winner ran the world's coldest marathon (held in Yakutia, Siberia) in 3h 22m. The temperature was -53°C. via @davepell
Kurt Andersen on how the mass deaths of the deliberately unvaccinated spurred by right-wing media and politicians since mid-2021 tracks with the history of human sacrifice in other cultures & eras.
"Thinking that endemicity is both mild and inevitable is more than wrong, it is dangerous: it sets humanity up for many more years of disease, including unpredictable waves of outbreaks."
All Your Favorite Cartoon Characters Are Black. "Bugs Bunny, black. Scrappy Doo, black. Elmo, definitely black."
The Anne of Green Gables VR Experience. "Marilla says 'Fiddlesticks!' a lot. Matthew doesn't speak but can grimace, shrug, grunt, nod, or frown."
The James Webb Space Telescope has arrived safely at its new home nearly 1 million miles from Earth.
Super-interesting episode of Invisibilia about the transformation of "the entrenched macho culture of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico" and the Russian social norms upended by Moscow's first McDonald's. via @nikolayvanchev
Great long piece about how the mRNA vaccines were developed, from the discovery of mRNA in 1961 to the development of gene therapy techniques to the push to develop an AIDS vaccine in the 90s.
Meat Loaf Was My Softball Coach. "To the scrappy group of girls he was trying to mold into softball players, he was Coach Meat."
Results of a new study suggest that CBD can treat and slow the transmission of Covid-19. "Our results suggest that CBD can block SARS-CoV-2 infection at early and even later stages of infection."
Brian Eno on crypto & NFTs: "right now I mainly see hustlers looking for suckers" and "now artists can become little capitalist assholes as well". via @openculture
"There Will Be Another Variant. Here's What the World Can Do Now." But the world probably won't do anything so basically what you're saying is...there's going to be another variant.
Actress Jessica Chastain: "I'm the first person in my family to not be pregnant when I was 17. [Having access to birth control pills at Planned Parenthood] had a great impact on my life because it gave me choice."
On the benefits of deliberate ignorance. "It's a way to maintain our beliefs about ourselves and others, it can be a mechanism for fairness or to remove bias, or a way to avoid overwhelm when bombarded with information."
Cat Power's newest album features covers of songs by Iggy Pop, Frank Ocean, Lana Del Rey, and Nick Cave.
Thread on the Omicron wave in the US. "Having ~40% of the population infected by a single pathogen in the span of 8 weeks is remarkable and I can't think of an obvious modern precedent."
Substack is providing a safe home for anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, white nationalists, and QAnon influencers to spread their misinformation. via @waxy
The five levels of hype. Marketing claims > exaggerated claims > utopian futures > magical thinking > othering ("the technology has become a group identity for its boosters").
Play a 9-hole course of mini-golf where each hole is shaped like a gerrymandered voting district. The 8th hole, of comically shaped 4th district in Illinois, is a par 12. (Hole 9 is a par 26 in Maryland.)
Being Bad at Wordle Doesn't Mean You're Dumb. "Simply put, intuiting the perfect word to fit in a sentence requires different knowledge of a language from thinking of a five-letter word starting with A and E as its fourth letter."
Fashion editor André Leon Talley has died at the age of 73.
The Wirecutter recommends the best pandemic partner for most people. "Licensed carpenters have abilities that are transferrable to home and leisure pursuits, e.g., slicing summer squash and Thai eggplants on a mandoline without cutting off fingertips..."
Fun thread about a castle that some jackass built in Connecticut. "Suits of armor watching you eat!"
The site is live a day ahead of schedule: "Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests are completely free." (This is only working for some people. Site should be live for everyone tomorrow.)
My least favorite thing about chocolate chip cookies is the chocolate chips, so this recipe speaks to me: "1. Follow literally any chocolate chip cookie recipe. 2. Omit the step where you add the chocolate chips."
"Every home in the U.S. can soon order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests." No shipping costs, ordering begins Jan 19.
A list of the best data visualization lists of 2021. Lots of fantastic work in here.
A collection of scenes from movies with inaccurate binocular shots (seeing two circles instead of one merged circle).
bell hooks reviews Beyoncé's Lemonade (2016). "Images of female violence undercut a central message embedded in Lemonade that violence in all its forms, especially the violence of lies and betrayal, hurts."
In a recent experiment by a Turkish farmer, outfitting cows with VR goggles that simulate being in a pasture upped milk production by 2 gallons per cow per day.
For the first time in history in 2020, the weight of things produced by humans (concrete, metals, plastic) was greater than the weight of the global living biomass.
The Physics of Wile E. Coyote's 10 Billion-Volt Electromagnet. I am here for any vigorous fact-checking of cartoon physics.
A list of lesser-known attachment styles, e.g. caffeine attachment, dance-battle attachment, and psychoanalyzing attachment ("you read that one book about attachment styles and now can't stop psychoanalyzing everything and everyone").
"Maybe crypto is only for people who like playing with money, its mechanics and rules. That's not all there is to the software or to the web. And that's not for me."
Forget Wordle, Letterle is the new hotness.
For the first time, water has been detected directly on the surface of the Moon, by the Chang'e 5 lunar lander.
Movies whose opening titles don't finish until well into the movie (The Fugitive: 15 min, No Time to Die: 27 min, Drive My Car: 42 min, The Departed: 20 min).
Let's Settle This. "Internet debates have raged for too long. It's time to settle the big questions so we can move on." Marvel or DC? Is a hot dog a sandwich? Could Jack have fit on the door in Titanic?
An important point related to the transition between epidemic and endemic Covid: if society is still experiencing significant disruptions, we're still in the epidemic phase.
The Insurrection Index is a database of "individuals and organizations in positions of public trust who were involved in the deadly attack on the Capitol" on Jan 6, including elected officials, law enforcement, etc.
Wes Anderson will adapt Roald Dahl's short story collection The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More for Netflix (the company bought Dahl's entire catalog last year).
An interesting collection of threads from web gem Ask MetaFilter, compiled by Phil Gyford (also a web gem), e.g. "Easy reads with literary flourishes", "Ikea, but like, the *good* Ikea", and "Nurses! What's on your feet?"
Interesting thoughts from an indigenous person about The Book of Boba Fett and its portrayal of the Tuskens.
From I Love Typography, the Year in Type for 2021.
Novelist Emma Straub loved working in her neighborhood bookstore and it eventually inspired her to open her own. This is a lovely piece about books, bookstores, neighborhoods, and book lovers. via @TheMorningNews
Rick Rubin: The Invisibility of Hip Hop's Greatest Producer. "It's still difficult to explain the legacy of a man who doesn't appear to do much while doing everything at the same time." via @openculture
A Note of Reassurance from Your School District Regarding Our Updated Omicron Policies. 1. "Your child's classroom will have no teachers." 2. "Your child should report to school no matter what."
Afghanistan Has Become the World's Largest Humanitarian Crisis. Four months after the Taliban resumed control of the country, "more than twenty million Afghans are on the brink of famine".
With their Housing First policy, Finland is making great progress in reducing their unhoused population by giving everyone a home, unconditionally. "A home should be the secure foundation that makes it easier to solve your problems."
A visualization of mass shootings in the US since 2014. More than once a day on average, there's a shooting in which four people are injured or killed by guns. via @TheMorningNews
Margaret Sullivan: news organizations need to make "democracy-under-siege a central focus of the work they present to the public".
Jimmy Carter: I Fear for Our Democracy. "Without immediate action, we are at genuine risk of civil conflict and losing our precious democracy."
Every James Bond Movie, Ranked.
A list of everything Steven Soderbergh read or saw in 2021.
In a small 5-year study of basic income in Hudson, NY, "employment among the participants went from 29% to 63%" and they reported better health and personal relationships with others.
"This is a short story about what happened to the U.S. economy since the end of World War II." How debt, inequality, and expectations got us to where we are now.
From the Morning News, a number of journalists, writers, and thinkers weigh in on the most and least important things that happened in 2021.
On the "large grey area between an Offensive Stereotype and 'thing that can be misconstrued as a stereotype if one uses a particularly reductive lens of interpretation that the text itself is not endorsing'".
Queens of Infamy, a series of entertaining biographies of "badass world-historical women of centuries past" written by Anne Thériault.
"Chevrolet's ad for the 2015 Colorado has claimed the title of America's Most Toxic Car Ad."
Covid-19 cases reported in the US for January 3: over 1 million.
The cinematographers of 29 of this year's Oscar contenders detail the cameras and lenses they used to shoot their films (and why they chose them).
On the secondary effects of getting vaccinated. "We estimate that COVID-19 vaccination reduces anxiety and depression symptoms by nearly 30%."
Readers of the NY Times Book Review pick the best book published in the past 125 years. Is it 1984? The Fellowship of the Ring? To Kill a Mockingbird? Beloved?
What went right in 2021: the top 26 good news stories of the year.
Among the works that entered the public domain in the US on 1/1/22 are Winnie-the-Pooh, The Sun Also Rises, a ton of early blues and jazz music, and movies starring Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd.
If, like me, you woke up this morning wondering where the James Webb Telescope is currently located, you can check out this tracker to satisfy your curiosity.
Solid thread about Matrix Resurrections and its "lack of subtlety". How would you "react if the worst stupidest people DID make an entire fascist movement off your campy-cyberpunk action-philosophy franchise"?
Superheroes create cultural acceptance for popular oligarchy. "What does the current popularity of comic book superheroes, in culture, do? It reinforces the idea of a hierarchy of human, with the ubermensch as its apex."
2021, The Year in Questions. "Can psychedelics cure us? Did George Floyd get justice? Is it too late to buy Bitcoin? Should we get rid of the SAT? Is there a reality crisis?"
Atari is releasing three new games for the Atari 2600 game console.
Every Day Is Jan. 6 Now. "The Republic faces an existential threat from a movement that is openly contemptuous of democracy and has shown that it is willing to use violence to achieve its ends."
The FDA has approved a third dose of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 12-15.
Quetzalcoatlus was the biggest flying animal to ever live – 12-feet tall with a 40-foot wingspan.
December 2021 Archives »