Quick Links for March 2022

Great essay about how you should learn a little bit of programming so that you can automate some of the repetitive tasks in your life. "Don't learn to code – learn to automate."
As a writer (of sorts) without formal training who hamfistedly "assembles obvious, time-tested concepts about writing from scratch", I enjoyed @j_zimms' piece on hot dogs and the "braided essay".
Published today for the first time: the complete sequence of a human genome. via @erictopol
"Content moderation clearly actually enables more free speech [because] when you have a totally freeform venue for free speech, it makes many people hold back and not join in."
It's tax season and this is your reminder that filing your taxes could be simple but H&R Block and the makers of TurboTax spend millions of dollars a year lobbying against it.
I don't know John Siracusa (he's a friend of friends) but lots of what he has to say here, particularly about work/life balance and negotiating your "maximum capacity", resonated with me. Good luck going indie, @siracusa!
Study: Highlighting COVID-19 racial disparities can reduce support for safety precautions among White U.S. residents. You saw this early on in the pandemic, esp in conservative circles: when we learned who was most at risk, concern evaporated.
Dick Van Dyke Still Dancing at 96!
Bruce Willis is stepping away from acting because of a diagnosis of aphasia, which (roughly) is a "loss of ability to understand or express speech, caused by brain damage". Sad news.
A reformed jewel thief says that you want 4-door sedan with "boring paint" as a getaway car. "You want to blend in. That's the getaway. You're not gonna outrun the cops, this is not Baby Driver."
100,000 Stars is a zoomable, draggable simulation of the 119,617 stars in our stellar neighborhood and it works entirely in the browser. Very impressive. "Loading the galaxy, please wait..."
This is the only thing I've read about the Smith/Rock Oscar fracas because Wesley Morris wrote it. Smith, Rock, Jada, Denzel, Sean Combs, Questlove, Lupita, the Williams – "a remarkable convergence of Black celebrities".
The deep belly laugh I desperately needed this morning: Paul Rudd once again pranks Conan O'Brien with the same clip from Mac and Me, this time on a podcast.
In an old timers game in 1982, 75-year-old Luke Appling (who made his MLB debut in 1930) hit a home run off of Warren Spahn. Age schmage – a sweet swing is a sweet swing.
Shrinkflation and "5 fewer Doritos". In order to avoid raising their prices, brands are shrinking the sizes of their products and charging the same price, e.g. Gatorade shrunk their bottles from 32oz to 28oz.
"Dagny Carlsson, believed to be the world's oldest blogger, who documented her life in Sweden and spread the message that age should not limit happiness, has died. She was 109."
This move by Golden State's Jordan Poole, in which he splits two defenders by going between his legs twice, is perhaps the best basketball highlight I've ever seen. Even in slow motion, it looks absolutely impossible.
"The inconvenient truth is that we are going to experience a new BA.2 variant wave in the United States — the magnitude of which remains uncertain — and this highlights the question of whether a 2nd booster (4th shot) would be useful."
A definition of Twitter for 2022: "It's a fandom app for current events. The users on there don't have anything in common other than an increasingly pathological need to consume either news as content or content as news."
Because of the climate crisis (melting glaciers). Switzerland's cartographers are having to redraw the country's topological maps. "Only three cartographers at the agency [are] allowed to tinker with the Swiss Alps."
Incredible deep dive into how all the Oscar best picture nominees were made: cameras, editing, budgets, effects, audio, etc. via @tvaziri
The sad tale of the world's largest bee. Presumed extinct, it was recently rediscovered in Indonesia, but conservation efforts have sputtered and the publicity has made the bee a target for rare animal collectors.
Interesting evolution of the design of the NY Times' maps of the war in Ukraine. Early maps over-represented Russian advances while later maps showed what each side in the conflict was doing more accurately.
Questlove's Summer of Soul won the Oscar for Best Original Documentary. Well-deserved! Great film.
Poll: about 1-in-5 Americans agree w/ the core tenets of QAnon, incl "The government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation."
"Experience: I let a baby bird nest in my hair for 84 days. He fell asleep in my palm. As far as he was concerned, I was his mother."
Here's another story about Will Smith, Questlove, and (briefly) Chris Rock.
How Joe Manchin Aided Coal, and Earned Millions. "At every step of his political career, Joe Manchin helped a West Virginia power plant that is the sole customer of his private coal business. Along the way, he blocked ambitious climate action."
The scale of these greenhouses in southern Spain is incredible. via @colossal
A podcast called The Weather in Brooklyn is automatically generated each day by a computer program.
Search interest in electric cars is up significantly in the past month. via @mossandfog1
Satellite images that, as @waxy put it, were "hallucinated" by an AI algorithm.
A survey by Science magazine indicates that scientists were subjected to increased levels of harassment (both online and off) during the pandemic for talking about Covid-19.
The five most common jobs in a medieval European city were "farming, carpentry, butchery, shoemaking and Church-related work".
Framed: try to guess the movie from six successive screen captures.
According to CDC tracking data, the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 has completely disappeared in the US, supplanted entirely by the 3 Omicron sub-variants. And BA.2 is rapidly gaining in relative prevalence.
A 3.5-hour production of the 1976 Philip Glass opera Einstein on the Beach done entirely in someone's living room. via @tomwhitwell
Huh, I was unaware of the progress being made on electric airplanes. The long-haul stuff is still going to be fuel-powered, but it seems like shorter routes via electric will be feasible within the next decade.
Design documentary Helvetica came out 15 years ago. It's streaming online for free for the next week in celebration.
Interesting interview about how animal sounds evolved and about the "crisis of sensory extinction" (i.e. humans are so loud that they are disrupting animal behavior).
In recent months, MacKenzie Scott has donated $436 million to Habitat for Humanity, $275 million to Planned Parenthood, and $281 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Both poles are experiencing "unprecedented" heatwaves. "Antarctic areas reach 40C above normal at same time as north pole regions hit 30C above usual levels."
Marina Abramovic is restaging her performance piece "The Artist Is Present" at a NYC gallery to benefit relief efforts for Ukrainians affected by the war. via @colossal
Charles Daniels photographed rock royalty (Stones, Hendrix, Aerosmith, Rod Stewart, The Who) in the 60s & 70s and has 3200 rolls of undeveloped film just sitting in his house.
"The estate of George Orwell has approved a feminist retelling of Nineteen Eighty-Four, which reimagines the story from the perspective of Winston Smith's lover Julia."
"I am a law professor who thinks a lot about digital property and about decentralized systems, and I think the idea that NFTs are about to revolutionize property law misunderstands how property law actually works."
A list of the strongest materials on Earth, including spider silk that's 10X stronger than kevlar and a lighter-than-water fiber that can stop bullets. Diamond doesn't even make the top 5.
What It's Like to Get Worse at Something. "I had been skiing since childhood. Why did I suddenly suck at it?"
"We are undergoing a colossal vibe shift that extends beyond taste, aesthetics, politics, fashion, or policy. The world as we knew it is not coming back, and it's entirely reasonable that we may find ourselves plagued with a general restlessness..."
A Houston townhouse with an interior inspired by Friends. "There's a Central Perk and your very own Friends fountain replica (mural)."
It's worth following Lynsey Addario on Instagram – she's one of the top photojournalists in the world and has been in Ukraine on assignment for the NY Times since the war started.
This is how to do a new game review: "With a brand-new Harry Potter game on the way, now is the time to unpack and try to understand the impact of franchise creator JK Rowling's discriminatory behaviour."
If you missed it, US residents can order a second set of 4 free Covid antigen tests via the USPS.
From epidemiologist Dr. Katelyn Jetelina, here's what we might expect from Omicron BA.2 here in the US. "This is also the perfect time to get boosted, get vaccinated, and order your second set of free antigen tests."
Once again, America is in denial about signs of a fresh Covid wave. "In the past couple of weeks, UK, Germany, France and others are experiencing a new wave. The US should get ready." Only 29% of the US pop. has had 3 shots!
Christopher Alexander, best known for his book A Pattern Language, has died at the age of 85. His work and humanist perspective was really influential for me early on in my career.
It Could've Been the World's Largest Potato, if Only It Were a Potato. "We're good at growing potatoes in New Zealand, but we're not that good."
Patrick Radden Keefe: How Putin's Oligarchs Bought London. "From banking to boarding schools, the British establishment has long been at their service, discretion guaranteed."
[Star Trek: Discovery spoilers] Georgia gubernatorial candidate (and huge Trek fan) Stacey Abrams has a cameo in the show's most recent episode.
Clip from Late Night with David Letterman where his guest is Fred Rogers, who talks about meeting Eddie Murphy. It's from 1982, just 2 weeks after the show premiered. Neither Dave nor his audience quite knows what to make of his earnest guest.
Well, this is a lot of fun – play online with a trio of Roland music machines: the TR-808 drum machine, the TB-303 bass synthesizer, and the SH-101 synthesizer. There's even a record button, so you can d/l the tunes you make.
A forthcoming book by Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn: Lost Objects: 50 Stories About the Things We Miss and Why They Matter. "What is it about these bygone objects? Why do they continue to haunt us long after they've vanished from our lives?"
I feel like I've featured this before (or something like it), but it's worthwhile so: City Roads will give you a bare-bones map of every road in a given city. Try it w/ NYC, Shanghai, Paris, or Berlin.
From MIT Technology Review, a list of 10 breakthrough technologies for 2022, including long-lasting grid batteries, a malaria vaccine, carbon removal factories, and the end of passwords.
A roundup of some of the most fun and informative bar chart races.
A list of eponymous laws related to the internet, programming, and misc. concerns, including Godwin's Law, Postel's Law, and Hanlon's Razor.
"How could living at the junction of the third year of a global pandemic and the threat of World War III be anything but completely, thoroughly, absolutely exhausting?"
Why is Russia invading Ukraine?, a recent episode of Vermont Public Radio's But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids.
11 rules for buying an ebike, and the 11 ebikes to buy now.
You Don't Really Ever Own an EV. "If carmakers can dictate how you use your car, do you really even own it?" (Most of this applies to any vehicle with an extensive software component.)
A study of medieval warfare (and perhaps common sense) reveals that Russia should not have attacked Ukraine during mud season.
The 2020 US census undercounted Hispanic, Black and Native American residents. The pandemic & Republican meddling hampered efforts at an accurate count, but the census also chronically undercounts those groups.
The Senate just unanimously approved making daylight saving time permanent year-round, starting in 2023.
Small independent creators on Vimeo are seeing massive increases in their monthly bills. Pay up or leave, says Vimeo.
How the letter "Z" has become the symbol of the "new Russian politics of aggression". "Graphically, the 'Z' is clearly closer to the swastika than to any prominent Soviet symbol."
Some stats analysis and data visualization related to Wordle, when people tweet about it, if it's getting more difficult, how many players there are, etc.
Over two dozen family members whose loved ones have died due to OxyContin addiction were able to address members of the Sackler family directly in court for the first time. "You murdered my daughter and destroyed my family."
An appreciation of the old-school Chowhound by Robert Sietsema. "Chowhound was at least partly responsible for setting us on the culinary path we're on today, one that's more inclusive and less Euro-centric."
The commercials to showcase the incentives for electric cars in Vermont are embarrassingly bad. This makes people want to buy EVs?
This is lovely: a multimedia analysis of W.H. Auden's 1938 poem, Musée des Beaux Arts.
Today is Equal Pay Day in the US for 2022. "This date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year."
50 years after playing Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Al Pacino looks back. "It's a piece of work that I was so fortunate to be in. But it's taken me a lifetime to accept it and move on."
Cormac McCarthy is coming out with two new novels this year, 22 years after his last book came out.
"In Russia's version of the war, Russians are liberators, Ukrainians are Nazis, and the West is full of mendacious hypocrites."
How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Help Win the Civil War. "The nearly 1,000 bite-sized telegrams that he wrote during his presidency helped win the Civil War by projecting presidential power in unprecedented fashion." via @thekidshouldsee
Looking back to the birth of Google, situated above a beloved bookstore. "The nerds upstairs had a cheap plastic banner made with the Google name emblazoned on it...[it] was an embarrassment and an eyesore."
Working with Edward Lorenz, programmers Ellen Fetter and Margaret Hamilton (who would later work on the Apollo program) played a pivotal role in the birth of chaos theory. "Today, [they] would have been listed as co-authors on that seminal paper."
As an experiment, Dr. Tab Combs removed any signs of being a woman from her Twitter acct. The result? Less mansplaining, harassment, and threats. "For the first time, I felt like the expert my friends & colleagues say I am."
One driver shares what it's like owning an EV in the Bay Area.
Tressie McMillan Cottom is joining the NY Times as an Opinion columnist.
Are Gas Prices Too High? Or Is Your Car Too Big? "What if, facing those high prices [in 2012], we had made changes on the demand side instead?"
Courtesy of David Lynch, today's number is 8.
I, High-Powered Fashion Editor Miranda Priestly, Demand an Assistant Who Is Terrible. "If you should falter, even once, I vow that I will become briefly aggravated with you and then keep you in your position."
A 4-year-old unvaccinated child has tested positive for polio in Israel. It's the first case there since 1989. (Something tells me we'll be seeing more of this.)
"The European Commission on Tuesday outlined its strategy to cut [natural gas] import needs from Russia by two-thirds this year." It's amazing what can be done when the urgency is there...
Former Foreign Minister of Russia Andrei Kozyrev on whether Putin's invasion of Ukraine is rational ("horrific, but not irrational") and whether Putin would use nuclear weapons (unlikely).
Interesting post from Cameron Sun about how he visualizes numbers. "Nine is a monolithic block with a slot gouged out of it, for receiving a one. It functions like a hook, peeling off a one from any number it's added to."
The Restorative Joy of Cycling by @pomeranian99. "When I arrive home, I feel like I've microdosed the pure essence of urban life. I've been *in* the world."
The 2022 Tournament of Books is underway! Over the next month, 16 books will be narrowed down to one. I have read a remarkable number of these...I can judge if there's an injury. Put me in, coach!
The Smithsonian is returning its entire collection of Benin bronzes to Nigeria.
The Gender Pay Gap Bot is retweeting International Women's Day posts from companies/organizations and highlighting the gender pay gap, e.g. "In this organisation, women's median hourly pay is 24.4% lower than men's."
Heardle: Wordle crossed with Name That Tune.
Worldwide, the Covid-19 pandemic has claimed at least 6 million lives. Almost a million of those are in the US. "Public health experts agree that six million is a vast undercount and that the true devastation will never be precisely known."
Design Emergency: Building a Better Future. "Alice Rawsthorn and Paola Antonelli present a unique portrait of how our great creative minds are developing new design solutions to the major challenges of our time."
Playing Wordle collaboratively. "When we play together, there seems to be a correlation between how many guesses and how much fun we have. The more time it takes the better."
From NPR, "What to say to kids when the news is scary".
Turning the Focus on America's Oligarchs. "Could the scrutiny of Putin's favored billionaires hastened by the war in Ukraine extend to the hidden money that subverts democracy in the United States?"
On Saturday, art collective MSCHF hosted "a one-off, winner-takes-all, massively multiplayer version of the SATs" where "cheating is encouraged".
Almost Pong, a one-button video game that's a cross between Pong and Flappy Bird.
"The Cloud now has a greater carbon footprint than the airline industry. A single data center can consume the equivalent electricity of 50,000 homes."
Ukraine war: 'My city's being shelled, but mum won't believe me'.
Very interesting discussion between Ezra Klein and economic historian Adam Tooze on the economic component of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Using the hindsight of players' data, The Pudding revisits the results of every NBA draft since 1989 to see who teams could/should have drafted. via @TheMorningNews
Russian oligarch, billionaire, and Putin-confidant Roman Abramovich announces that he will sell Chelsea FC.
Street photographer Juri Nesterov's photos of everyday life in Ukraine from 2001 to 2021. via @TheMorningNews
Huh, Bandcamp got bought by Epic Games.
A list of the 5 best books to read on Ukraine and Russia, recommended by Serhii Plokhy, professor of Ukrainian history at Harvard.
David Boggs, Co-Inventor of Ethernet, Dies at 71.
Data visualization of the common household types in the US. In 2021, 28% of US households were single people living alone, 22% were married couples w/ no kids, and 21% were married couples with kids.
An interview with "veteran Russia watcher" Fiona Hill on what she thinks Putin and Russia are up to in invading Ukraine. In her opinion, would Putin use nuclear weapons? "Well, yes, he would."
Parents of trans kids in Texas are already being investigated for child abuse after Gov Abbott's order last week. One woman who works for the state has been placed on leave from her job and is being asked for her child's medical records.
The Power of Seeing Only The Questions In A Piece Of Writing.
The unionized workers at Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Kotaku, Lifehacker, and The Root have gone on strike to fight for a fair contract that includes guaranteed healthcare benefits, adequate family leave, protection against forced relocations, etc.
Goodreads lost all of my pal @nelson's data last week. Nine years, 600 books, 250 reviews: all gone, seemingly forever. "In 35 years of being online I've never encountered a company with such callous disregard for their users' data."
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