Quick Links for April 2023

A video of several women, ages 16 to 66, removing their makeup and talking about how they feel with and without it.
Lots of fun lines in this profile of Erling Haaland. He's "Manchester City's destroyer of worlds", "has set upon English soccer like a wrathful angel", and "he plays with the effectiveness of a sovereign wealth fund".
Cool hack: NASA plans to extend Voyager 2's mission for a few more years by diverting power set aside for a non-critical safety mechanism to scientific instruments.
Ambessa Play is a DIY wind-up flashlight kids can build. "For every kit you buy, a refugee child out of school receives one for free."
Womprat is an extremely thorough and extensive new typeface inspired by Star Wars. Check out the character map; it includes a ton of Star Wars dingbats.
What would a world without vaccines be like? "Vaccines are likely the most important public health intervention of the last 100 years. They've saved over a billion lives."
This person's computer screen was randomly turning off and he traced the problem to his Ikea office chair. "So folks, don't forget to check if your Ikea chair is compatible with your screen." via @waldoj
How Corporate Consolidation is Killing Ski Towns. The likes of Vail and Alterra are turning small ski towns into de facto company towns, with increasingly few opportunities for local residents and businesses to benefit.
Former NBA star Dwyane Wade, a Florida sports legend whose daughter is trans, revealed he moved out of the state in part because his "family would not be accepted or feel comfortable there".
So Your Kid Wants to Be a Twitch Streamer. "My son and I were out for a walk when he told me he wanted to be a streamer when he grows up. He's 11. I instantly grew a long and bushy beard."
Samuel Arbesman is writing a book called The Magic of Code: How Digital Language Built Our Modern World — and Shapes Our Future, which he calls "a liberal arts-infused approach to the realm of computing".
ForecastAdvisor will show you which service has the best weather forecast for your zip code. It's also fun to see where forecasts are more (San Diego) and less (Rapid City) predictable. via @rands
The presence of domesticated cats in Europe happened much earlier than previously thought: 8,000 years ago rather than 1,700 years ago. "It also could be said that cats domesticated themselves. They chose us, not the other way around."
Chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen has kinda sorta retired from the world championship of chess — "I simply feel that I don't have a lot to gain" — but will continue to play chess in other tournaments.
This commemorative plaque in Toronto commemorates itself. "By reading this plaque, you have made a valuable addition to the number of people who have read this plaque." via neatorama.com
On sleeping beauties, evolutionary and cultural innovations that quietly survive for long periods before achieving explosive success once conditions are right for thriving.
How To Start A Rocket Engine. "Liquid-fueled rocket engines operate by flowing fuel and oxidizer into a combustion chamber at high pressure in order to eject mass out of the rocket nozzle at high velocities."
The Financial Times attempts to explain the economics of Succession, including who owns how much of Waystar Royco. "Nuggets of detail about how everything works are spread thinly throughout the series." via gyford.com
The global sea surface temperature has hit a record high. "In March, sea surface temperatures off the east coast of North America were as much as 13.8C higher than the 1981-2011 average." 13.8C higher!!
Some of the paintings attributed solely to Hilma af Klint should be understood as the work of a collective of up to 13 women, according to a new book based on recently discovered letters & notebooks of collaborator Anna Cassel. via greg.org
People are turning everyday moments from their lives into short Wes Anderson vignettes on TikTok and Instagram. "As long as it's deadpan, then you're golden."
A High-Tech Heist at the British Museum. "Members of Looty, a collective formed to reclaim looted art, take surreptitious 3-D scans of the Rosetta stone in order to digitally liberate it into the metaverse."
The American Prison Writing Archive is a collection of writing from incarcerated people whose mission is "to replace misrepresentation of prisons and imprisoned people with first-person witness by those living in legalized confinement."
When she died, Hilary Mantel was "working on a rewriting of Pride and Prejudice, told from the perspective of the overlooked middle sister Mary Bennet, to be titled Provocation". Here's a short excerpt of the work in progress.
I've featured this on the site before, but Toshi Omigari's book Arcade Game Typography: The Art of Pixel Type is so good that here it is again. "The definitive survey of '70s, '80s, and early '90s arcade video game pixel typography." via @gruber
Gun Violence Is Actually Worse in Red States. It's Not Even Close. "Culture drives politics, law and policy. It is amazingly durable, and you have to take it into account." Pretty interesting analysis here.
The Arabic Design Archive is "a non-profit initiative that seeks to enable knowledge production about Arabic design and its history through a framework of collecting, digitizing, and exhibiting".
This is the huge "but" for current EV owners: charging away from home is a huge pain in the ass. "It's not enough to set sales targets and offer tax credits [...] we have to make it easier to charge up away from home."
How John Glenn's $40 Camera Forced NASA to Rethink Space Missions. "They couldn't just send people up into space and not capture the magic and beauty of it all."
The Most Valuable Object to Sink With the Titanic Was a Colossal Neoclassical Painting. The artwork was La Circassienne au Bain, completed in 1814 by Merry-Joseph Blondel — the surviving owner filed a claim for $3M (in 2023 dollars).
"The true test of a civilization may be the answer to a basic question: Can it keep its children alive?" Despite being one of the richest nations on Earth, the United States is failing this test when compared to other nations.
Footage from Billie Eilish's first festival appearance in 2017 — there aren't more than a dozen people in attendance. From that to multiple Grammys in under three years...amazing. via boingboing.net
The Food Disgust Test measures how sensitive people are to potential triggers like raw meat or fish, sanitation, food spoilage, etc.
It's OK to Be Angry About Capitalism by Bernie Sanders. "Unfettered capitalism is to blame for an unprecedented level of income and wealth inequality, is undermining our democracy, and is destroying our planet".
An update on book bans shows an increase in this "deeply undemocratic" activity, esp in Texas, Florida, Missouri, Utah, and S. Carolina. "Overwhelmingly, book banners continue to target stories by and about people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals."
The Amazing Story of How Philly Cheesesteaks Became Huge in Lahore, Pakistan. Pakistani visitors to the US brought cheesesteak knowledge back with them and restaurants started serving them in the 90s.
The Russian "Firehose of Falsehood" Propaganda Model. This is the modern Republican playbook too; to combat it, you can "find ways to help put raincoats on those at whom the firehose of falsehood is being directed".
SpaceX's new Starship rocket exploded just four minutes into its first test flight, undergoing what the company called "a rapid unscheduled disassembly" (a phrase that aptly describes what's happening at Twitter as well, albeit slightly slower).
BuzzFeed is shutting down BuzzFeed News because it's not profitable.
We've Been Measuring the Economy All Wrong. Current models assume a competitive economy but ours is more monopolistic, meaning tax cuts don't result in companies investing those savings in R&D and hiring; they just give it to shareholders instead.
Ed Yong is back from his sabbatical with a piece on how prevalent but invisibile Long Covid is in America. "Long COVID is a mirror on our society, and the image it reflects is deeply unflattering."
Almost 75% of all films from the golden age of silent films (1912-1929) have been lost. "The main reason so many silent films were lost, however, is that almost no one thought they were worth saving." via news.ycombinator.com
I love this: a 48-yo woman from Ohio who plays a lot of Candy Crush accidentally entered a $250,000 tournament and is now in the semifinals. "It was like: 'You qualify.' And I'm like, 'Well, that's nice'. I didn't even know I was playing." via @waxy
Volcanic microbe eats CO2 'astonishingly quickly', say scientists. "Discovery of carbon-capturing organism in hot springs could lead to efficient way of absorbing climate-heating gas."
"Earlier this month, Twitter quietly removed transgender-specific protections from its hateful conduct policy."
This is lovely: scroll up to ride an elevator from the Earth's surface to space, passing landmarks along the way. "Congratulations! You have made it 0.01% to the moon." via @waxy
The Washington Post peeked inside the training data set used for LLMs from Facebook and Google and found Russian propaganda sites, white supremacist sites, extremist Christian sites, anti-trans sites, etc.
A new daily game from The Pudding: Where in the USA is this? "There are five photos from the same place. You have five guesses to figure out where. A new photo is revealed after each guess."
Netflix is shutting down its DVD rental service in September. "The DVD service has shipped more than 5 billion discs across the U.S."
A map of the differing costs of a McDonald's Big Mac across the US. The cheapest Big Mac can be found in Oklahoma ($3.49) while the most expensive is in western Massachusetts ($8.09). 🍔
A Brief Compendium of Vintage Opium Underworlds. "I've always been stopped in my tracks by these images because they seem like such rare and almost unreal insights into late 19th century society."
Woo, David Grann's newest book, The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder, is out today!
This might be my next read: Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes (author of A Thousand Ships), a retelling of the Medusa myth, "one of the earliest stories in which a woman - injured by a powerful man - is blamed, punished, and monstered for the assault".
The makers of Boggle quietly changed the arrangements on the letter cubes in 1987 so that all the Fs and Ks appeared on the same cube, making it impossible to make words containing both of those letters, possibly to ban the F-bomb.
Volunteers in Maine created what they believe is the world's largest ice carousel - 1776 feet in diameter and weighing 146,000 tons.
11 Facts About Shakespeare's First Folio. "Without the First Folio, 18 of Shakespeare's plays would have been lost to time," including Macbeth, The Tempest, All's Well That Ends Well, and Twelfth Night.
Thomas Bangalter's first post-Daft Punk release is an orchestral ballet score.
A new study has shown "that Black residents in counties with more Black physicians - whether or not they actually see those doctors - had lower mortality from all causes".
The Mobile Phone Museum houses a collection of over 2600 models of mobile phone from 250+ brands. Don't miss their ugliest phones and most wanted phones.
The theme to Super Mario Bros will be included in the collection of the Library of Congress this year, the first video game sounds to join the registry.
Good thoughts from Annalee Newitz on Substack. They're not neutral - they pay and promote writers. "Substack has promoted hate speech and misinformation by paying and/or not moderating its top authors and celebrities."
Mike Masnick on Substack's unwillingness to moderate content (which they have been consistent about since their launch). "Chris Best wants to pretend that Substack isn't the Nazi bar, while he's eagerly making it clear that it is." via @evacide
How to help when someone is having a panic attack. "As a support person, you need to find your own stillness, so that the other person's fear can find a resting point."
Why are teens suddenly obsessed with chess? Can personally attest to this...my teen has been playing a ton of chess online lately.
This is why I do not like Substack: they do not want to take responsibility for hate speech. Substack is a safe haven for racists, transphobes, homophobes, anti-vaxers, etc. and they condone it because they profit from it.
Google Maps has been updated to help people better explore US National Parks - offline maps, better directions, and listing popular trails and landmarks. via petapixel.com
Perhaps it's helpful to think of Elon Musk as an accelerant for all the bad stuff that was slowly happening at Twitter before he got there. "In the long run we will be thankful that Elon is effectively putting the company out of its misery."
Nutrition Science's Most Preposterous Result. Could Ice Cream Possibly Be Good for You? "It's got fat, it's got protein, it's got vitamins. It's better for you than bread."
An interview with the man ("a guy named Paul") behind the Dril Twitter account. "I do find a lot of aspects of Twitter very disgusting. It would not be my first choice of websites to get popular on."
HBO Max is changing its name to just Max. What an incredibly dumb move - HBO is still the best brand in TV and to not lead with it is idiotic.
I recently upgraded to the 2nd-generation AirPods Pro and the noise-cancelling is amazing - so much better than the 1st-gen ones. They're $50 off at Amazon today only. Well worth the upgrade IMO.
The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations is a list that attempts to "categorize every dramatic situation that might occur in a story or performance" - e.g. pursuit, daring enterprise, rivalry of kin, an enemy loved, etc.
Whoa, a listing of where you can currently see a print of Hokusai's Great Wave Off Kanagawa on display at a museum. The prints aren't often displayed because they fade rapidly when exposed to light.
NPR is leaving Twitter after being falsely labeled "state-affiliated media" and then "government-funded media". Good for them for doing the right thing, even though it's difficult.
On the death of Tweetbot and its reincarnation as Ivory, the excellent Mastodon app.
Travelling around Europe by train, eating delicious meals in revitalized dining cars, sounds like an amazing way to spend one's time. Beats an Amtrak hot dog by a mile. (Also, check out the author's name...) via cupofjo.com
You could stare at this thing for hours and never see all of it. "Floor796 is an ever-expanding animation scene showing the life of the 796th floor of the huge space station!"
A pan of the Rijksmuseum's blockbuster Vermeer show. "I had arrived with an impression of Vermeer as a maker of paintings I enjoyed. I left with the impression of Vermeer as a maker of charming but boring, even stifling, pictures." via @overholt
The Remote Encoding Center in Salt Lake City is the last USPS facility in the country where unreadable addresses are sent to be corrected by "keyers". Keyers process images at the rate of one every four seconds.
Die With Me is a chat app that you can only use when your phone has less than 5% battery remaining. (This has literally never happened to me, but have fun everyone else!)
The practice of inline hashtags on Mastodon is terrible, a clunky & inelegant techie solution. I don't like reading them and will never use them. Separating them out would be great. via @overholt
Tim Jonze on how he coped with a potentially lethal blood cancer diagnosis in his 30s. "The truth is, you don't really know how you will react when your mortality comes swinging into view."
The 20 Greatest Simpsons Episodes Of All Time. Surprisingly, there are two episodes from recent-ish seasons on here (but most are from the show's golden age, seasons 2-8). via digg.com
Is the opening title sequence to Succession an homage to the title sequence to David Fincher's The Game? The first and last shots are nearly identical.
Maybe I'm a rube, but it seems obvious to me that Barack Obama compiles his own book reading lists. "He considered [reading] part of being a good leader, part of being a good president, part of being a good father, a good husband, and a good man."
The JWST has discovered the four oldest and most distant galaxies ever observed. "The galaxies date from 300 to 500 million years after the Big Bang more than 13 billion years ago."
I love this: equestrian coaches, trainers, and riders reflexively kicking and jumping while watching a rider on course. "It's an uncontrollable reflex when a horse jumps a jump. I've tried my hardest to not do it and I can't not do it."
In a NY Times investigation of US crypto mining facilities, they identified 34 operations that together use as much energy as 3 million households. Just shut these fuckers down - useless energy consumption like this is straight-up immoral. via @marcprecipice
Astronomers have spotted what they say is a supermassive black hole that has escaped its galaxy, traveling at 4 million mph and forming new stars in its wake. "Something like this has never been seen anywhere in the universe."
Before The Last of Us, I was part of an international team to chart the threat of killer fungi. This is what we found. "Developing vaccines and drugs is hard because fungal cells are similar to human ones."
The recently rediscovered original recording of the Wilhelm scream, Hollywood's favorite audio easter egg. It includes several takes - "not an 'oww', a real scream...pain". via @tvaziri
The Best Podcasts of 2023 (So Far). Lots to add to the listening list here.
Clarence Thomas's Billionaire Benefactor Collects Hitler Artifacts. "The collection includes two of [Hitler's] paintings of European cityscapes, a signed copy of Mein Kampf, and assorted Nazi memorabilia". Cool, cool.
Andy Baio is colorblind - here's what the world (and some hard-to-use web interfaces) look like through his eyes. "At a glance...avocado toast and peanut butter toast look pretty much the same to me."
There are going to be two solar eclipses in North America in the next year: an annular eclipse in Oct 2023 and a total eclipse in April 2024.
London's Courtauld Gallery is mounting an exhibition of 30+ forgeries that were previously attributed to notable artists. A Botticelli in the show was unmasked as a fake because the Virgin Mary too closely resembled movie star Jean Harlow.
Real headline about an image taken by the JWST: Look at These Beautiful Rings Rimming Uranus.
This looks interesting: a ChatGPT-powered replacement/augmentation for Siri on Apple devices.
David Lynch on Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of Dune: "I will never watch it, and I don't even want you to tell me about it, ever."
If It's Advertised to You Online, You Probably Shouldn't Buy It. Here's Why. Products in targeted ads were more expensive and lower quality than similar products found elsewhere online. via @waldoj
Twitter is haphazardly cutting off API access to feedreaders, bot-makers, and would-be competitors. "Overall I'm not surprised to find Twitter's changes rolling out unpredictably." via @waxy
The 50 Best Films of the 21st Century (So Far). This is a little bit of a weird/surprising list tbh. (For instance, both True Grit and No Country for Old Men are better Coen films than the inexplicably well-rated Inside Llewyn Davis.)
Hot Ones has a genius formula: thoroughly researched, substantive questions, celeb guests off-balance because their mouths are on fire. "Hot Ones was just the dumbest idea of all time. How is it, philosophically, that the dumbest idea is the best?"
Thought-provoking take on 15-minute cities: "If you can get to the coffee shop within fifteen minutes, but the barista who makes your drink can't afford to live closer than a half-hour away, then you live in a theme park."
I love reading accounts of famous art discoveries in unassuming places. This painting by Pieter Brueghel the Younger was covered in dust and discovered behind a door. The art auctioneer who spotted it: "My heart was beating so hard."
For decades, Justice Clarence Thomas has secretly accepted luxury vacations (private jets, superyachts, ranches, retreats) from a GOP megadonor. This is a massive (but not surprising) ethical breach from a powerful public servant.
"While trying to fix my printer today, I discovered that a PDF copy of Satoshi Nakamoto's Bitcoin whitepaper apparently shipped with every copy of macOS since Mojave in 2018."
A short oral history of the making of Stardust's Music Sounds Better With You. "By summer, it had been released all over the world, just six months after being written. We only ever played that one live show, released this one single..."
Why is "indict" pronounced the way it is, rhyming with "delight" and not "predict" or "verdict"? (Because the spelling changed but the pronunciation remained the same.)
I enjoyed reading A.O. Scott's exit interview after two decades of reviewing films for the NY Times. "I hesitate to second-guess myself. I can't really take any of it back. The damage is done."
Rainbows are actually full circles. "Most of us only ever see a fraction of a full rainbow: an arc. But optically, a full rainbow makes a complete circle." My god, that pic at the top of the article...
Angel Reese Can Shine as Brightly as She Wants. "When white athletes are demonstrative, they're playing with passion and showing their love of the game. When Black athletes reveal their feelings, they're disgraceful and 'classless.'"
Tabloid is a programming language with the syntax of clickbait news headlines. "Print output with the keywords YOU WON'T WANT TO MISS followed by an expression. Everything...is automatically capitalized, and an exclamation point is added." via news.ycombinator.com
Wikipedia's list of unidentified people includes Tank Man, Satoshi Nakamoto, Elena Ferrante, and The Falling Man. via thingsmagazine.net
How to easily draw dotted lines on a chalkboard. "You should feel your chalk 'bounce' or 'vibrate' along the surface of the board, creating a dotted line!"
Nonprofit No Longer Recalls Who They Were Originally Planning To Help. "[The] nonprofit employed dozens of employees, had several lucrative government contracts, and even hosted numerous events such as a 5k, a concert, and a gala at a museum..."
This Is the Lightest Paint in the World. "A Boeing 747 needs about 500 kilograms of paint. He estimates that his paint could cover the same area with 1.3 kilograms." via @OneFootTsunami
Grid World. "We radiate grids. If you are caught in the beam of someone else's grid, as I was in my dad's, the grid's virality will infect you." via @waxy
An interview with illustrator Christoph Niemann, a particular favorite of mine. "Artists have to be emphatic. You have to have a sense of what you know and what your audience knows."
The Guardians of the Galaxy mixtape playlist has been updated with music from Vol. 3, including songs from Radiohead, The Flaming Lips, Faith No More, and the Beastie Boys.
Where went the wolf? "The very attributes that make small dogs cute and popular are slowly strangling their ability to function as real animals."
Oh, just watching some Siegfried & Joy videos on Instagram - these are great. via @joannagoddard
How Paris Kicked Out the Cars. In the past 2 decades, car trips within Paris are down 60%, car crashes down by 30%, pollution levels are down, and mass transit ridership has increased 40%.
This San Francisco barbershop has a "silent mode" for patrons who don't want to chat with barbers. This is great for introverts...I don't get my hair cut as often as I should because of chit chat.
Take a 360° virtual tour of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a surprisingly tiny place! via webcurios.co.uk
We're living in the Age of Average. Cars, architecture, interiors, brands, people, and media all look the same. "Distinctiveness has died. In every field we look at, we find that everything looks the same."
How Stop-Motion Movies Are Animated at Aardman. The way they do the fire, fog, and rain is pretty cool.
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