Quick Links for February 2023

Urban gardens and farms can boost biodiversity because they're not monocultural, "particularly if residents prioritize planting native species, which attract native insects like bees".
This is a fun, uh, hypothesis: scientist speculate that aliens could be using black holes to as quantum computing devices.
Diaries of Note is publishing one historical diary entry from a different person each day of 2023, some from boldface names (Thoreau, Kafka, Mary Shelley) and others from folks you might not have heard of before.
From a panel of critics and filmmakers comes The New Black Film Canon, the 75 greatest movies by made Black directors. So much good stuff on here.
Jungle gyms (aka monkey bars) are 100 years old.
How to create a hologram by hand. Before watching this, I didn't really know how holograms worked or how they were made and now I do.
The MPAA ratings of the 10 top-grossing films from each year from 1980-2022. PG-13 films dominate the domestic box office now.
A simply designed Live Word Clock that you can stream on your TV, second monitor, or art wall thingie.
The Case For Shunning. "People like Scott Adams claim they're being silenced. But what they actually seem to object to is being understood."
The creepy-men-staring scene with Aubrey Plaza in The White Lotus season 2 is a nearly perfect shot-for-shot homage to a scene in Antonioni's 1960 film L'Avventura starring, yep, Monica Vitti.
Maria Konnikova, who wrote a whole book about con artists, on What Psychology Can Teach Us About George Santos. "Telling lies about yourself can actually make you feel more confident."
In a new Dutch reality TV series called The New Vermeer, "two professional painters and dozens of amateur artists compete to reinvent the lost works of the 17th-century master [Johannes Vermeer]".
This is a pretty cool design for a portfolio website.  via @craigmod
In a recent interview, Succession creator Jesse Armstrong says that the upcoming 4th season of the show will be its last. "You know, there's a promise in the title of 'Succession.' I've never thought this could go on forever."
The Anti-Defamation League: "All the extremist-related murders in 2022 were committed by right-wing extremists of various kinds" and "21 of the 25 murders were linked to white supremacists".
The Best Mac Gaming Experience Is a PC Sitting in a Dallas Data Center. My son uses NVIDIA's GeForce NOW streaming gaming service to play Fortnite on his Macbook - it's not as good as on his gaming PC but it's better than you'd think.
Portraits that famous photographers (Annie Leibovitz, Dorothea Lange, Robert Capa) have taken of their partners.
Netflix is releasing a director's commentary track for Glass Onion tonight.
The Surprising Greatness of Jimmy Carter. "The Carter administration prioritized human rights to an extent that no previous president had done, and this was an extraordinarily important thing."
Warner Bros. is gonna do another series of Lord of the Rings movies.
"The distinction between messing with the past, and improving on the present, is a critical one," says Maria Bustillos. "Republish Roald Dahl as he wrote, or don't publish him at all."
The American climate migration has already begun. "More than 3 million Americans lost their homes to climate disasters last year, and a substantial number of those will never make it back to their original properties."
Jane Austen's 8-bit Adventure is a Super Mario clone featuring the English novelist that runs on an NES emulator.  via @pomeranian99
A visualization of which generation controls the Senate. "A middle-of-the-pack Senator in 1947 was maybe 55 or 56-ish years old. Now, the middle seems to be 65 or 66, a whole decade older!"
Oh my, Chrome extensions really can gather a ton of data about your browsing habits with very little notice, like screenshots (incl. incognito windows), keylogging, input capturing, etc. And wow, the stealth tab.
Apple is reportedly attempting to add no-prick blood glucose monitoring to Apple Watch, using "optical absorption spectroscopy to shine light from a laser under the skin to determine the concentration of glucose in the body."
Whoa! A24 is auctioning off props from Everything Everywhere All at Once, including the fanny pack, Raccacoonie, the hot dog fingers, and buttplug trophy. Proceeds go to Transgender Law Center, Asian Mental Health Project, and Laundry Workers Center.
A California company is repurposing old electric vehicle batteries for electric grid storage. "Even after a battery no longer meets the needs of a car, however, it can still store enough energy to be useful on the electric grid."
Every decade or so, Warren Beatty slaps together a terrible Dick Tracy TV show for TCM so that he can keep the rights to the character and Disney+ or whoever can't do a reboot/remake. Epic levels of pettiness.
A 4K restoration of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is back in theaters. Go see it if you can - I'm gutted that it's not playing anywhere near me.
More than 2 decades after ramming Internet Explorer down everyone's throats (and triggering an antitrust suit), Microsoft is now automatically removing IE from "any Windows computer that still has it installed".
The NY Times long-time film critic A.O. Scott will be moving on to write "critical essays, notebooks and reviews that grapple with literature, ideas and intellectual life for the Times Book Review."
A four-day workweek pilot was so successful most firms say they won't go back. "15% of employees who participated said that 'no amount of money' would convince them to go back to working five days a week."
Career of the future: prompt engineer (aka AI-whisperers who can get desired outputs from apps like ChatGPT, Midjourney, Bing, etc.)
In a retrospective survey of patient data, people who tested positive for Covid-19 exhibited "significantly higher risks" of many autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Hmm, the Tidbyt looks interesting: a retro-style, low-res display for your desk or bedside that can run lightweight display apps (weather, time, stock quotes, sports scores, etc.)
Weather Machine, a comprehensive new API for weather data with data & forecasts from "The Weather Company, AccuWeather, AerisWeather, and many other reputable sources".
What a lovely little adventure for Craig Mod: he got a small Japanese city a big mention in the NY Times and ended up getting wholly embraced by the city's residents. "Morioka. Holy smokes."
In Order to Keep Our Editorial Page Completely Balanced, We Are Hiring More Dipshits. "We believe that the truth lies in the middle. The exact mathematical middle. This holds true no matter how far right 'the right' actually is."
Richard Belzer, who played detective John Munch on Homicide: Life on the Street (and other shows), has died aged 78. "He had lots of health issues, and his last words were, 'Fuck you, motherfucker.'"
The Onion: It Is Journalism's Sacred Duty To Endanger The Lives Of As Many Trans People As Possible. "It's about asking the tough questions and ignoring the answers you don't like, then offering misleading evidence..."
A US man afflicted with foreign accent syndrome after a prostate cancer diagnosis developed an "uncontrollable Irish accent" that persisted for the rest of his life.
A massive collection of travel tips from the vibrant Cup of Jo community. "Always pack a swimsuit."
An Introduction to the World-Renowned Architect Zaha Hadid, "the Queen of the Curve". If you don't know much about Hadid and her work, now's your chance to catch up.
An interview with the cast of Star Trek: TNG on their chance to have a proper ending in season three of Star Trek: Picard. I was lukewarm on catching up on Picard (I've only seen s01) but will after reading this.
"American drivers have a blinding headlight problem." Increasingly prevalent trucks and SUVs are so tall that their lights shine in the faces of mere car drivers. It sucks.
"The average daily rate of an Airbnb rental is 36% higher today than it was in 2019."
An Ode to Swearing. "You can establish familiarity, even make friends, with swearing. Start gently."
Interesting shapes cause crazy slow motion fluid dynamics. I am not entirely convinced this isn't computer generated but neither am I convinced it is.
Ugh, the NY Times' dismissal of yesterday's open letter about their coverage of trans people as "advocacy" is insulting, especially since the letter called them out for uncritically using unacknowledged anti-trans activists as sources.
Oh man, I really want to visit Studio Ghibli's new theme park in Japan.
A collection of emulated calculators from The Internet Archive. Alas, they do not have the trusty Casio fx-300H that I all but wore out in college.
"There was a time when shame was a powerful force in American politics. That time is not now." This is the true legacy of Trump: if you're shameless & your group stays united in support, you can do almost anything you set your mind to.
The collection of videos tagged "how things are made" at The Kid Should See This is a treasure trove of goodness.
The Economist: "Our findings suggest that the crunch caused by the war in Ukraine may, in fact, have fast-tracked the green transition by an astonishing five to ten years."
Blue Origin says they can make solar cells and wire from simulated lunar regolith (the rocks and dust on the Moon's surface). "Oxygen for propulsion and life support is a byproduct."
Roxane Gay & Debbie Millman recount their trip to Antarctica for a 60th birthday solar eclipse viewing.
Dozens of NY Times contributors are calling the paper out for their "editorial bias in the newspaper's reporting on transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people".
Researchers propose adding a 4th color to stoplights to better coordinate autonomous vehicles and reduce traffic delays.
What's Homelessness Really Like? The NY Times asked 30 people about their experiences of being homeless.
Bill Watterson (of Calvin and Hobbes fame) has a new book coming out, a collaboration with caricaturists John Kascht called The Mysteries. "In a fable for grown-ups...a long-ago kingdom is afflicted with unexplainable calamities."
A fantastic unofficial archive of Melvyn Bragg's radio show In Our Time, organized by Dewey Decimal category and year. Related episodes, track guests across multiple episodes, reading lists, and more.
I wonder what his billionaire co-investors think about Elon Musk buying Twitter and turning it into his personal blog?
The stock market is broken. "In an ideal world, there would be no continuous trading. A series of auctions would be much more effective at providing investors with the liquidity they need."
Tuning Into Brainwave Rhythms Dramatically Accelerates Learning in Adults. "Participants who received a simple 1.5-second visual cue at their personal brainwave frequency were at least three times faster..."
Review of a gasoline car from the alt-universe where EVs are standard. "Imagine if a steam locomotive had a baby with a machine gun. That's the sort of noise that comes out of a gas car."
Jackson Bird signs off on the last ever episode of the Cool Stuff Ride Home. kottke[dot]org was proudly affiliated with this podcast for awhile – I'm sad to see it go!
Fears about nuclear energy, and nuclear waste in particular, have been overstated. "We should celebrate what humankind can achieve with clean energy: a high quality of life for everybody, without the negative impacts of burning fossil fuels."
The European Parliament has "formally approved a law to effectively ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the European Union from 2035".
1923 was a seminal year for the movies.
Teaser trailer for season three of Ted Lasso. "In this third season of Ted Lasso, the newly-promoted AFC Richmond faces ridicule as media predictions widely peg them as last in the Premier League..."
America's teenagers aren't getting enough sleep because school starts too early. "Despite years of evidence that starting school later promotes better health and improved grades, too few schools have adopted this measure."
Cars are rewiring our brains to ignore all the bad stuff about driving. "People tend to have a giant blindspot when it comes to certain behaviors associated with driving, whether it's speeding, carbon emissions, traffic crashes..."
10 rules for communicating with Gen Z online. "2. Never text without emojis or text emojis."
These updates about the Twitter API continue to be insulting and full of bullshit. Enthusiasm. Optimal experience. What a bunch of crap.
Interesting how web3-obsessed VCs pretty much don't care about the self-governed decentralization of the Fediverse. "web3 nonsense was never about new paradigms. It was about constructing bags and conscripting bag holders."
The 25 most important tweets of all time?
"Australian scientists announced Friday they've discovered a protein in the lung that sticks to the COVID-19 virus like Velcro and forms a natural protective barrier in a person's body to block infection."
Likening the service and its destruction by present management to the Tower of Babel myth, Paul Ford suggests God Did the World a Favor by Destroying Twitter.
George Toma, now 94, is a groundkeeper who has worked on the field for all 57 Super Bowls. "Still hale despite walking with a cane, he suffers from a lifelong case of perfectionism."
TIL that Super Bowl halftime performers get paid union scale for their performance. Their actual pay is in exposure – a SB halftime show usually means a huge jump in album sales, tour ticket sales, etc.
The trailer for All That Breathes, which The Guardian called "a beautiful, meditative film about an Indian bird sanctuary". It's up for an Oscar and is out on HBO Max right now.
Nope, coffee won't give you extra energy. It'll just borrow a bit that you'll pay back later. "While it feels energising, this little caffeine intervention is more a loan of the awake feeling, rather than a creation of any new energy."
NYPL librarians have discovered that "up to 75 percent of books published before 1964 may now be in the public domain". Rights holders used to have to renew their copyrights; most didn't.
An imperfect list of books like Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow. "Never before have I read a book and felt as seen across multiple dimensions of my personality."
The Relentless Attack on Trans People Is an Attack on All of Us. "There is no world in which their freedom is suppressed and yours is sustained."
If they gave Oscars to books instead of movies, a neat concept from Literary Hub.
English football club Bristol City has not been awarded a penalty kick for 65 straight matches. "Amateur statisticians have created charts to demonstrate how ludicrous the streak has become."
Nominations for the 2023 Stunt Awards, featuring the best stunt work in films made last year. Top Gun: Maverick, RRR, and Everything Everywhere All at Once are up for multiple awards.
"This past week, a part of the sun's surface broke off and started circling the sun's north pole almost as if it were a giant polar vortex – and scientists don't know why." Pardon?!
The trailer for Paint, in which Owen Wilson plays a Bob Ross-type artist with his own painting show on Vermont public TV.
The always-thoughtful Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: What I Think About LeBron Breaking My NBA Scoring Record. "LeBron makes me love the game again."
Maybe the younger generation is interested in DVD menus because they never had to sit through a bunch of "interactivity" or guess at some weird interface just to watch the actual movie?
The subway in San Francisco still runs on 5 1/4-inch floppies. "Our train control system in the Market Street subway is loaded off of five-and-a-quarter inch floppy drives."
A flowchart of when it's acceptable to turn the heat on in New England. "Chrissakes, just put on a sweater! If you're still cold in an hour (I bet you won't be), then we can talk about touching the dial."
Disney: Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five Toy Storys.
John Cleese is doing a Fawlty Towers reboot.
The Scots translation of Harry Potter is wild to listen to. (Quidditch is Bizzumbaw, Dumbledore is Dumbiedykes, and the Sorting Hat is the Bletherin Bunnet.)
Billy Mitchell and the telltale joystick. The entertaining saga of the disgraced Donkey Kong champion rolls on; this time, a photo suggests his world record was set using an improper joystick.
From Time magazine, a list of the 100 best children's books of all time.
The Fleishman Effect. "In a city of Rachels and Libbys, [Fleishman Is in Trouble] has some New York moms worried they're the ones in trouble."
City of the Rails, a new podcast series about railroads and hobos. "When journalist Danelle Morton's daughter skips town to hop trains, she follows her into the train yard, and across America."  via @fritinancy
Rereading this classic by Frank Chimero: There is a Horse in the Apple Store. "There is a horse in the Apple Store and no one sees it but me."
This sort of thing is infuriating: Connecticut Parents Arrested for Letting Kids, Ages 7 and 9, Walk to Dunkin' Donuts. Kids need to develop independence away from their parents and "stranger danger" is overblown.
Fodor's No List for 2023, a list of places you probably shouldn't travel (because people are ruining them), e.g. Lake Tahoe, Antarctica, Venice, and Thailand.
"Layoffs do not solve what is often the underlying problem, which is often an ineffective strategy, a loss of market share, or too little revenue. Layoffs are basically a bad decision."
Marcin Wichary's Shift Happens, a book about the history of keyboards, is now available for purchase on Kickstarter. Instant buy for me.
Look, someone made a wood automata of me blogging!
Creatures That Don't Conform. "In the woods near her home, Lucy Jones discovers the magic of slime molds and becomes entangled in their fluid, nonbinary way of being."  via @feltron
In this comic, Rueben Bolling dreams up some "non-woke" children's books that won't get teachers charged with felonies in fascist Florida. "The Very Fine Stop & Frisk" is particularly (depressingly) on-point.
How to Paint Like Hayao Miyazaki, a small guide to painting from the animation master. "What Miyazaki makes clear throughout the guide is that he is, proudly, a cheapskate who isn't fussy about tools."
Was not aware that Vermont has the second-highest per capita homeless rate in the US. But VT also "provides temporary shelter to a higher share of its unhoused residents than any other state".
Neil deGrasse Tyson captained his high school wrestling team and invented a "physics-based" move called the Double Tidal Lock.
The latest update to The Sims has introduced "trans-affirming medical wearables for character customization, including binders, shapewear, and top surgery scars".
As part of this profile, David Remnick nabs the first on-the-record interview with Salman Rushdie since last year's attempt on his life. "I've found it very, very difficult to write. I sit down to write, and nothing happens."
Ted Gioia offers 8 techniques for judging someone's character (even, perhaps most usefully, your own). "See how they treat service workers. Their true self comes to the forefront."
We are living in the corporate age of documentary: "It has become almost impossible to sort works of art or journalism from glorified reality TV or public-relations exercises."
In order to find dangerous hydrogen fuel leaks back in the Apollo days, NASA employees used the "broom method" of holding a broom out in front of themselves to see if it caught fire – now hydrogen-sensing tape is used.
You guys, new kind of ice just dropped. The new ice "more closely resembles liquid water than any other known ices" and "may rewrite our understanding of water".
If you missed it (better vid): the Grammys incredible 50 years of hip hop performance (ffwd to ~1:46:00). Like I said, it was thrilling to see all those artists sharing a stage – none of those folks have lost a single step. Wow.  via @br0wnb3ar1
This is the best video I can find of the Grammys incredible 50 years of hip hop performance. It was thrilling to see all those artists sharing a stage – none of those folks have lost a single step. Wow.
"US still has the worst, most expensive health care of any high-income country. US health care has lagged peers for years, and the pandemic made things worse."
Corporations are fleecing billions of dollars from employees through title inflation: call someone a manager and they can't get paid for their overtime work.
Viola Davis achieved EGOT status last night. Emmy: How To Get Away With Murder (actress). Grammy: Finding Me (audiobook recording). Oscar: Fences (actress). Tony: King Hedley II, Fences (both actress).
SNL's Big Hollywood Quiz deftly lampoons our current celebrity & streaming media overload.
Gene editing company Colossal Biosciences is going to try to bring back the dodo bird. It wouldn't be an exact replacement...more of a dodo-ish pigeon.
The wind chill on Mount Washington in NH dropped to -108°F last night, setting a record for the lowest wind chill ever recorded in the US. (The "feels like" temp at my place in VT last night was about -50°F.)
It's so cold in New England right now that "the troposphere could dip below the summit of Mount Washington", which would then be briefly located *in the stratosphere*. WHAT?! This is literally a plot point in The Day After Tomorrow.
The Italian Futurists declared war on pasta on the early 20th century. "Too traditional!" said Filippo Marinetti. "Holding us back!" - so of course they named a pasta sauce after him.
A Eulogy for Gawker. Despite having designed the logo & the initial website (for a pittance, I might add), I do not have fond feelings for Gawker. "Gawker sometimes bullied people, and it sometimes punched down."
Ted Gioia on ChatGPT as a confidence game: "The con artist always gives people exactly what they want. And in a post-truth society, nobody does this better than AI."
Jamelle Bouie: "I think it's worth saying, again, that the institution of American policing lies outside any meaningful democratic control."
"In academia the Soviet Jew has long been seen as an ideological suitcase ripe for stuffing." Gary Shteyngart reviews a new book about the national ethnic group that's usually been marked more by what it's not than what it is:
What's the most successful Hollywood movie of all time? By gross = Avatar. By inflation-adjusted gross… still Avatar. But if you start to look at other metrics, like return on investment, the data gets a little more surprising…
The Academy loves the gritty, gory new German adaptation of All Quiet on the Western Front, rewarding it with nine Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Who hates it? German critics.
Bookforum the magazine has ceased publication, but Bookforum the website has (probably temporarily) made its full archive open to the public
"If you had to make a list of the 10 most important airplanes ever built since the Wright Flyer, the 747 needs to be on that list. It was a quantum leap."
Dr Dre's 1992 album The Chronic is once again available on music streaming services for its 30th anniversary (which, yes, was technically back in December). Enjoy!
Michael Jackson's nephew Jaafar (one of Jermaine's sons) will play MJ in a new biopic directed by Antoine Fuqua (Emancipation) and produced by Graham King (Bohemian Rhapsody)
January 2023 Archives »