Quick Links for January 2023

Patti Smith remembers Tom Verlaine. "As I watched Tom play, I thought, Had I been a boy, I would've been him." The little details in this are 1) too many to list 2) universally great.
Great apes use a proto-language of some 80+ common gestures. It turns out that humans can understand (and in some cases share) these gestures too
"The covers that Lorraine Louie designed for the Vintage Contemporaries series were surreal, stylish, and like nothing else on the market" in the 1980s:
Spiders appear to offload cognitive tasks to their webs, a rare nonhuman example of "extended cognition" — animals using tools to think outside of the confines of their own heads.
Mac 30th Anniversary Icons. Icons in SVG format of Macs from the original Macintosh 128K to 2013's Mac Pro.
Huh, chess[dot]com's traffic has doubled since the beginning of December for no obvious single reason. Why the explosion in interest in chess? via @pomeranian99
From XKCD, a recipe for a margarita made from the icy nucleus of a planet-killing-sized comet. "The juice from 20 trillion limes."
"Driving [an EV across Australia] wasn't as easy as doing it in a petrol car: the spontaneity was lost to the need to plan charging stops. But those waits allowed for serendipitous discoveries."
Since it assumed leadership in the effort to eradicate guinea worm disease, the foundation started by Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter has reduced cases from 3.5 million in 1986 to just 13 in 2022. Best former President ever (and it's not close).
"Analyses have found that 12 people - coined the 'disinformation dozen' - are responsible for 65% of misleading claims, rumors, and lies about COVID-19 vaccines on social media." WHAT?
HBO has renewed The Last of Us for a second season. Started watching this last night and liked it immediately.
Chronophoto game in which you have to guess the year that photos were taken. I looove games like this – there goes the rest of my day. via @waxy
If you want to stay in the Palermo villa featured in the second season of The White Lotus, it's available on Airbnb. $6K/night. via @messynessychic
"Decades of research have shown that focusing on housing, without making sobriety or mental health treatment a prerequisite, is the most effective way to reduce homelessness."
The Cause of Depression Is Probably Not What You Think. "Depression has often been blamed on low levels of serotonin in the brain. That answer is insufficient, but alternatives are coming into view and changing our understanding of the disease."
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day and it's worth spending some time adding your name alongside the name of a Holocaust victim to the IRemember Wall at Yad Vashem.
How donkeys changed the course of human history. "From bearing the burdens of the Roman Empire to enabling trade over long distances, the humble donkey has been surprisingly influential." Also: giant donkeys!
YouTube Speedrunner Becomes Full-Blown Fascist In Record Time.
Everything Everywhere All at Once is returning to US theaters this weekend. Go see it!
According to the National Phenology Network, the first signs of spring have arrived in parts of the south up to three weeks earlier than average.
This graph of military spending is the one of the most misleading statistical graphs I've ever seen. "If a student presented this in a statistics 101 class, the teacher would likely give them an F."
Perfidious Pricing: How Companies Use Drip Pricing to Overcharge Consumers. Odd choice to use restaurants as an example of drip pricing creep – tax + tip has always been a "hidden" charge.
Macroeconomic Changes Have Made It Impossible for Me to Want to Pay You. "Let's not mince words, though; the accountability for this decision rests with me. The consequences, on the other hand, rest with you."
Kenji López-Alt: The Food Expiration Dates You Should Actually Follow. "Vinegars, honey, vanilla or other extracts, sugar, salt, corn syrup and molasses will last virtually forever."
Orion Magazine recently republished Rebecca Solnit's 2013 piece, Cyclopedia of an Expedition Around Svalbard. "The water liquid pewter and iron, with gentle ripples rather than white-crested waves. And the smeared red of a polar bear's meal."
Ain't it funny how the knight moves? A simple chess game involving moving your knight. "Don't land anywhere the queen can take you, and don't take the queen."
The sun last set on the British Empire "sometime in the late 1700s or early 1800s".
The Apple Lisa computer is 40 years old and the Computer History Museum obtained permission from Apple to release the source code to its software.
Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild by Kathy Fish. "A resplendence of poets. A beacon of scientists. A raft of social workers. [...] A group of schoolchildren is a target."
This education startup from Hank and John Green (plus Arizona State and Google) looks really interesting: "a path to get college credit that begins on a YouTube video". Videos are free, classes are $25, college credit is $400.
The Wonders of Street View, a collection of "weird and wonderful" locations on Google Street View. You could lose days to this...
Pickup trucks have gotten bigger, less useful, and are increasingly purchased for lifestyle & image reasons. "So what are people using their trucks for? Shopping, errands, commuting and Sunday drives."
Football referees in Portugal have begun to show "white cards" during matches to recognize acts of fair play.
Tapbots (makers of Tweetbot) have released their new Mastodon app called Ivory.
America's unique, enduring gun problem, explained. "The Supreme Court has made it impossible to cure America's gun violence epidemic."
'No Way To Prevent This,' Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.
Actually, Japan has changed a lot. "Japan's somewhat unusual choice not to tie middle-class wealth to housing prices seems like a smart one."
A list of the 2023 Oscar nominees. Everything Everywhere All at Once leads the way with 11 nominations.
Japan was the future but it's stuck in the past. "A hundred and fifty years after it was forced to open its doors, Japan is still sceptical, even fearful of the outside world."
New album from Ladytron: Time's Arrow.
Early Abortion Looks Nothing Like What You've Been Told. "At this stage of pregnancy, the embryo is not typically visible to the naked eye."
This new website has high-res scans of L.M. Montgomery's manuscript copy of Anne of Green Gables, transcribed and annotated with author notes, photography, video, and audio. Fantastic resource for Anne fans.
Casey Johnston Turned Bulking Up Into a Business. "The unlikely weight-lifting coach is making a killing arguing that pumping iron can be for everyone." Love to see this taking off!
The release of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is closer to World War II than it is to today. WHAT
Is the sun a node in a gigantic alien space internet? "Through a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing, aliens could be transmitting signals using the sun, but a quick scan for such signals has turned up nothing."
"Teachers in Manatee County, Florida, are being told to make their classroom libraries - and any other 'unvetted' book - inaccessible to students, or risk felony prosecution."
The increased oversight by conservative extremists of what books librarians can order for school libraries (i.e. cracking down on materials about gender, sexuality, race, and racism) is genuine Nazi behavior.
Josh On's award-winning They Rule is back online; it's an interactive visualization of the interlocking (or perhaps, cross-contaminated) boards of directors of the 100 largest US companies.
Agree with Virginia Heffernan here: that Bloomberg piece on plant-based meat being a "flop" was bad. (And also, maybe shifting people's eating habits for the better is not something that capitalism is particularly good at?)
The Many Ingenious Ways People in Prison Use (Forbidden) Cell Phones. A group of 300 incarcerated people are using materials from one of Harvard's online computer science courses to learn programming. via @waxy
Tweetbot has been discontinued as well. Much appreciation to the Tapbots and Iconfactory (Twitterrific) teams for their excellent apps. "We've invested over 10 years building Tweetbot for Twitter and it was shut down in a blink of an eye."
A lovely piece about dancing on stairs, featuring scenes from movies and TV shows and the likes of Bill Robinson, Ginger Rogers, Joaquin Phoenix, and the Nicholas Brothers.
Currently listening to Moby's recent Ambient 23 album. Good background music for working. via @genmon
Increasingly, movie and TV trailers feature reworked versions of classic songs. "Almost never does a song just drop into a trailer and work. Maybe it needs to feel more epic or more emotional."
A survey about what pronoun to use for someone of unknown gender conducted both in 2007 and 2023 shows how much usage has changed in that time. "Their" increased from 32% to 68% while "his" declined from 25% to 3%.
Carsized lets you compare the size of two different cars. Here's an classic 2-door Fiat vs a GMC Yukon.
Light pollution is getting worse. From a paper in Science: "The average night sky got brighter by 9.6% per year from 2011 to 2022, which is equivalent to doubling the sky brightness every 8 years." Almost 10% a year!
Amazon only started their "charity" initiative Amazon Smile because they didn't want to pay Google for search traffic.
It's official: Twitter's new rules for accessing their API forbid creating third-party clients. Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb.
Iconfactory has discontinued Twitterrific. "We are sorry to say that the app's sudden and undignified demise is due to an unannounced and undocumented policy change by an increasingly capricious Twitter." This makes me *so* mad.
An illustrated book of Typographic Firsts. "How were the first fonts made? Who invented italics? When did we figure out how to print in color?"
I do not know if this video is real, but I cannot stop watching it.
This is a couple months old, but I found this account of the palace coup that brought Mohammed bin Salman to power in Saudi Arabia riveting.
Something for the web old heads: Auriea Harvey's seminal Entropy8 is still online. This was the freshest thing around in 1997 – I was endlessly inspired by it.
That time Erling Haaland scored 9 goals for Norway vs Honduras in a U20 match.
TIL that most countertop microwaves sold in the US are made by a company called Midea and then essentially branded and sold by the likes of Toshiba, GE, Black+Decker, Whirlpool, Sharp, etc.
Quick reminder that kottke[dot]org posts and links are also available on Mastodon
Niche Museums, a growing collection of small museums about seemingly every topic under the sun. "If someone cared enough about something to create a museum, that thing is interesting."
A collection of articles published from 1993-2017 in Wired magazine that "best capture the vibe of the magazine through time".
Due to the Ukrainian invasion, research papers emanating from CERN's Large Hadron Collider stopped in March 2022 because some scientists object to co-authorships with Russian scientists and institues.
"This leopardess had killed a monkey in Zambia's South Luangwa National Park. The monkey's baby was still alive and clinging to its mother." Damn nature, you scary!
I had somehow completely missed that Netflix is airing a six-part series based on Elena Ferrante's The Lying Life of Adults.
Ernie Smith offers a quick guide to ten "early and influential" bloggers who helped shape the medium, including Justin Hall, Farai Chideya, Elizabeth Spiers, Erin Venema, and Jim Coudal.
I read XKCD primarily for the informative science explainers.
Isaac Newton's personal copy of Opticks, believed to be lost, has been rediscovered in an American engineer's personal library and will be up for auction in February. Starting price: $375,000.
If you want to read about how much of a shitshow Twitter has been since Elbon Moops and his Goons (you don't have to be smart or even competent to get riiiich) took over, here you go.
Out today: John Hendrickson's Life On Delay: Making Peace with a Stutter. "Hendrickson takes us deep inside the mind and heart of a stutterer as he sets out to answer lingering questions about himself and his condition..."
Due to technology, culture, and social media, the pace of change of American Sign Language has increased. "Perhaps the most dramatic example: To accommodate the tight space of video screens, signs are shrinking."
K.C. Greene on the 10th anniversary of his comic that became the This Is Fine meme. "I am still a working cartoonist trying to make something bigger and better and people just like this thing you dashed off for a comic on a Wednesday." via @waxy
"Pizza delivery, it turns out, is based on a fundamental lie. The most iconic delivery food of all time is bad at surviving delivery, and the pizza box is to blame."
Nike is releasing a "Montreal Bagel" sneaker, complete with sesame seed graphics.
Twitter has apparently shut down access to several of the most popular 3rd-party Twitter clients, including Twitterrific and Tweetbot. No official word on whether it's a bug or a policy, but either way: so dumb. Erratic clown car company.
Cities Really Can Be Both Denser and Greener. A recent study found that "the amount of public open space was basically unrelated to density and had more to do with history, policy, and culture".
She Made History as a Black Basketball Star. Why Won't Her College Name Its Arena for Her? "Perhaps a Black woman was simply too inconvenient and incongruous a hero to the white men who have led Delta State University for the last half-century."
"What is internet?" Rosecrans Baldwin tries to answer. "What I find beautiful about the internet is its immensity paired with the invisibility. Sky is blue, air is cold, internet is all around."
Open Syllabus gathers data from millions of college syllabi worldwide and presents their findings for use and analysis for teachers, students, libraries, publishers, etc.
One misconception about each U.S. President, including "Jefferson introduced ice cream to the U.S.", "Taft got stuck in a bathtub", "Calvin Coolidge was boring", and "Bill Clinton attended WrestleMania X".
The James Webb Space Telescope Is Finding Too Many Early Galaxies. Which is to say, the telescope's observations "may end up changing what we know about how the first galaxies formed".
Dr. Eric Topol reviews the evidence and finds that the bivalent BA.5 vaccine has exceeded expectations in "broadening our immune response", even against XBB.
Oh good, they're making a Bluetooth muzzle for "doing voice chat in the Metaverse or online games". The future is amazing.
Dan Cederholm (Dribbble co-founder and OG GOAT web designer) has launched Simple Type Co., which features a range of typefaces and goods for sale.
The magic of the macaroni LEGO brick. Neat!
For the last 9 years, Liam Quigley has kept track of every slice of pizza he's eaten in NYC and what he paid for them. "The biggest thing I have noticed is the decline in the amount of sauce put on slices."
An interesting exploration from The Pudding on which contemporary books (from the 90s, but also the 80s and 00s) have made their way onto college syllabi. Many of them were not popular when first published.
Jay-Z's 99 Problems, Verse 2: A Close Reading with Fourth Amendment Guidance for Cops and Perps. "This is a line-by-line analysis of the second verse of 99 Problems by Jay-Z, from the perspective of a criminal procedure professor."
The American Dialect Society has announced that the 2022 Word of the Year is "-ussy". "Riffing off 'bussy' (a portmanteau of 'boy' and 'pussy'), now everything is a cat or a cavity. A calzone is a pizzussy. A wine bottle has a winussy."
Converse and Nissin Foods are collaborating on a Cup Noodle sneaker collection. Only available in Japan (and then at a significant premium on your favorite sneaker exchange).
Holy crap, look at how this wooden desk magically folds out of the wall.
The brand Alcoholic Vodka uses blunt honesty in its packaging and advertising. "Do not drink Alcoholic Vodka. It's expensive and bad for you. Please think twice before ordering."
A recent study estimated that if people in LA replaced a 2.5-miles daily car trip with a bike ride over 5 years, there would be "a 12.4% net reduction in mortality risk".
Director Steven Soderbergh has released his annual list of every film, short, TV show, book, play, and short story he watched or read in 2022.
Adolfo Kaminsky Dies at 97; His Forgeries Saved Thousands of Jews.
"He fell in love with skateboarding after watching the 1985 classic film 'Back to the Future,' he said, and, lowering his voice, he added, 'They will deny it, but half the people I know started for the same reason.'"
This new short story by Robin Sloan has a "playable" cover – you set the beat sequencer, twiddle some knobs, and it gives you a little tune to listen to while reading.
Trailer for Magic Mike's Last Dance. After sitting out Magic Mike XXL, Steven Soderbergh is back in the director's seat for this one.
A group of researchers have discovered why Roman concrete is so durable, long-lasting, and even self-repairing.
Wow, look at this group of four men shaping a massive pot on a huge pottery wheel.
René Redzepi is closing Noma, the consensus best restaurant in the world, at the end of 2024 because it's unsustainable. "Fine dining, like diamonds, ballet and other elite pursuits, often has abuse built into it."
How to Watch Hundreds of Free Movies on YouTube. Open Culture has compiled a list of YouTube channels with free movies, including Tarkovsky films, Charade, Kino Lorber docs, Nosferatu, and The Silence of the Lambs.
Whoa, furniture conservator Ben Bacon figured out that repeated marks in prehistoric cave drawings related to the life-cycles of the animals depicted. If true, this "proto-writing" would predate other examples by 10,000 years. via @waxy
Widening Highways Doesn't Fix Traffic. So Why Do We Keep Doing It? "If you reduce the price of a good then people will consume more of it. That's essentially what we're doing when we expand freeways."
David Letterman recently interviewed Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy for his Netflix show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman – you can watch the entire interview for free on YouTube.
Meet the Climate Quitters. "An ever-growing roster of people are leaving their jobs to pursue careers combating climate change." via @anya1anya
Tiny Mining: "a very interesting DIY initiative being formed among a group of artists and scientists which literally uses the resources of the human body to mine for minerals and rare earth". via @pomeranian99
Good collection of economics explainers from The Wall Street Journal on organizations like Ikea, the Olympic Games, Ben & Jerry's, Airbnb, Crocs, and Sephora.
Whoa, remember the early iOS game Flight Control? One of the first viral games on the platform – for a few months there, it seemed like everyone w/ an iPhone was playing it.
The exciting sport of NBA basketball. But sure, soccer is boring.
A tour of the various doors at Antarctica's McMurdo Station. "This is not a master-planned community. Rather, it is a series of organic responses to evolving operational needs." via @onefoottsunami
TIL: the director of Tár also co-invented Big League Chew. via @ironicsans
Two Scott Stallings, a UPS mixup, and a misdirected Masters invite. "That's how a 60-year-old with no professional golf experience found himself with an invitation to play in the Masters." via @davidgagne
Pop-Up Magazine has come to an end. "Live audiences were starting to return. A profitable, self-sustaining future was in sight. But we don't have enough money in the bank to make it."
An hour-long lecture at MIT by Lupe Fiasco on Rap Theory & Practice.
Dave Arnold and some folks from Harvard's Science of Cooking program tried to answer a very important question: Can You Stop Beans From Making You Fart?
What's happened so far to the people who have cryogenically preserved themselves for later reanimation? "The first 'cryonauts' met gruesome fates. A few of them decomposed into a 'plug of fluids' and were scraped off the bottom of a capsule."
"Room tone" recordings help sound editors create seamless edits but are kind of funny/awkward to observe. Daniel Reis made a short film out of these silent moments from Criterion Collection interviews (w/ Spike Lee, Coens, etc.)
Kent Hendricks' list of 52 things he learned in 2022, including "Swiss cheese tastes better when it listens to hip hop" and "people who grow up in cities with grids are [...] more likely to lose at video games". via @tomwhitwell
Ariel Waldman's forthcoming book is called Out There: The Science Behind Sci-Fi Film and TV. "Explore the science behind some of your favorite popular science fiction tropes – from escaping a black hole to riding a space elevator to the stars."
How to Grow Old by Bertrand Russell. Of his elderly grandmother, he said, "I do not believe that she ever had time to notice that she was growing old. This, I think, is the proper recipe for remaining young."
Now that some AI can help you write, research, make music, and design things faster, what's next? "If you're trying to get through your work as quickly as you can, then maybe you should see if you can find a different line of work." via @austinkleon
Interesting thread from Mekka Okereke about football, the NFL, injuries, systemic racism, and opportunity.
Wow, check out this amazing website for Shift Happens, Marcin Wichary's forthcoming book on keyboards. If the book is even half as cool as the site... via @waxy
"De La Soul's entire catalog will be available on all streaming platforms and digital retailers for the first time beginning March 3rd, 2023." !!!!
How It Feels to Surf the World's Biggest Wave. Nazaré, Portugal is home to some of the largest surfable waves in the world, 70- to 80-foot monsters that propel riders at 45mph down their faces. via @legalnomads
Ren Willis' laws of bicycling survival, including "give those with the right-of-way the right-of-way first" and "read the 'body language' of cars". via @pomeranian99
The Mouse Print website run by Edgar Dworsky keeps track of "shrinkflation" in consumer products, when brands quietly replace their products for slightly smaller versions at the same price.
Miley Cyrus and David Byrne Perform David Bowie's "Let's Dance". Byrne is a national, no, *international* treasure.
This website will find your mouse pointer. There it is! via @rands
Do bumble bees play? "We show that rolling of wooden balls by bumble bees, Bombus terrestris, fulfils behavioural criteria for animal play and is akin to play in other animals."
Venus Williams, who is 42 and made her professional tennis debut 29 years ago, won her opening round match at New Zealand's ASB Classic against Katie Volynets, who is literally half of Williams' age. Incredible.
10 years on, the influence of the NY Times' "Snow Fall" interactive piece remains strong. "No longer are charts, maps and animations considered last-minute sweeteners for completed articles."
Beloved weather app Dark Sky stopped working on Jan 1. I haven't used it in years (it's less useful in my rural area) but I d/led it on the day it launched and used the hell out of it. RIP.
December 2022 Archives »