Quick Links for July 2023

When did people stop being drunk all the time? Up until the Industrial Revolution, alcohol accounted for "around a quarter to close to half of the calories in their diet".
How Many Dinosaurs Remain Undiscovered? On average, one new dinosaur species is discovered every two weeks. "We're in the golden age of paleontology." via damninteresting.com
"What would the internet of people look like now? Maybe we just ditch the algorithms." Reminds me of that business adage: "the only way to make money is bundling and unbundling". Maybe that's the way to make culture too.
Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman) has died at the age of 70. Man, fuck cancer. I *loved* Pee-wee's Playhouse when I was a kid...I never missed it.
It's been 40 years since her debut album; here's a look at Madonna's 40 greatest hits, ranked.
Mastodon is easy and fun except when it isn't. Erin Kissane asked folks why they had disengaged from Mastodon; they described reasons like a hostile response from regulars, poor discoverability, and too serious/boring.
A bleak account of a Greyhound bus ride across the US. "Gone are the small, clean, cheap motels in the centre of cities, gone are public spaces where anyone can find a water fountain, a bathroom, a place to nurse a cheap cup of coffee and human company."
I think about Little Bobby Tables once a week, minimum.
Rules for design in the real world: "If it looks neat, people will want to take a photo with it. If it looks comfortable, people will want to sit on it. If it looks fun, people will play around on it."
While visiting relatives in the Chicago area, a video game historian stumbles across a rare Discs of Tron arcade cabinet in amazing condition.
As temperatures increase during the summer in the US, public swimming pools are becoming harder to find. "A legacy of segregation, the privatization of pools, and starved public recreation budgets have led to the decline."
"The Biden administration on Tuesday announced a proposal meant to force health insurers to cover mental health and addiction care as comprehensively as they cover treatment for physical health conditions." Good.
From Rotten Tomatoes, critics pick the best 25 TV shows from the past 25 years. Breaking Bad at #1? Hmm. Newcomer Succession is #5. Also on the list: Atlanta, Fleabag, BoJack Horseman, and The Americans.
Ed Yong has decided to leave The Atlantic. What an amazing body of work he leaves behind there. His Covid reporting was essential. Good luck to him on his future projects!
From Rotten Tomatoes, critics pick the best 25 movies from the past 25 years. Mad Max: Fury Road is a surprise at #1. And The Dark Knight at #4? Also on the list: Pan's Labyrinth, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and Spirited Away.
"Here's a mindbending etymology fact for you: The word 'blackmail' originally had nothing to do with mail as in letters." via nancyfriedman.typepad.com
Designer Kelli Anderson is doing a monthly paper invention subscription. As a sometime recipient of her holiday-themed paper experiments, I can vouch for this!
Singapore is a lovely place to visit, but they continue to hang people for drug trafficking. "Singapore seems to positively relish these cases to demonstrate how hard they are on drugs."
People in 1920s Berlin Nightclubs Flirted via Pneumatic Tubes. "Like messaging on a dating app, but with — you know — tubes."
This recent episode of You're Wrong About on Sinéad O'Connor is worth a listen, particularly if all you know about her is Nothing Compares 2 U and her SNL appearance.
Their Day in the Sun: Women of the Manhattan Project. "Although women participated in all aspects of the Manhattan Project, their contributions are either omitted or only mentioned briefly in most histories of the project."
Rotating sandwiches. It is what it says on the tin. See also Scanwiches.
On creative grief and how to deal with it. "When finishing up a project, feelings of loss, despair, sadness or emptiness may rise to the surface."
Activist and singer Sinéad O'Connor has died at the age of 56.
Colossal Is Taking a Summer Break! Colossal is one of my all-time favorite sites and it's great to see them stepping away for some time off.
I guess I care a lot about things like Futurama's collab with Fortnite now? *sneaks away from the computer to go get a Bender skin from the item shop...*
The Louvre Is Thrilled to Announce It Is Rebranding to "UVR". "Is that an acronym? Maybe. Is it a meaningless assemblage of letters? Perhaps. Is it memorable? Searchable? Do we even own the IP? I'm not telling."
The NASA Voyager Golden Record master tapes owned by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan are up for auction at Sotheby's. Est: $400,000-600,000.
Here's what happened after Covid vaccines were made available in the US: "The excess death rate among Republican voters was 43% higher than the excess death rate among Democratic voters." 43% is a *massive* difference in outcome. Literally a death cult.
Four questions that Ezra Klein uses to determine if he has had a good day: "Am I sleeping enough? Am I getting enough time to myself? Am I deeply connected with the people I love? Am I making fairly healthy choices in my body?"
Three years ago, a NASA mission collected a sample from an asteroid called Bennu, and in September, that sample will finally return to Earth to be analyzed.
Alison Bechdel on the Bechdel test for movies: "It was a joke. I didn't ever intend for it to be the real gauge it has become..."
An organization called Loose Ends helps finish craft projects (knitting, sewing, etc.) that people who are ill or have died have left behind. "We keep your loved ones close by completing the projects they've left behind."
And here's an interesting dual review of Oppenheimer and Barbie from Anne Helen Petersen. "Barbie doesn't argue that the world should look like Barbie's world so much as dare you to find offense in it."
Thoughtful dissenting review of Barbie from Maria Bustillos. "Barbie Land is revealed as a dysfunctional, corrupt, duplicitous society, and the story ends with its original autocracy in place."
The small vehicles of Tokyo, "a slim cataloguing of the rich diversity of small vehicles that help shape street life in the world’s largest city". via studiodradiodurans.com
This 211-shot badminton rally lasts almost three and a half minutes.
How to use Apple's AirPods as a hearing aid. I covered some similar ground in a post about the 2nd-gen AirPods Pro in April.
Messi in Miami Feels Bittersweet. "The greatest soccer player of all time has entered the farewell-tour phase of his career."
A brief review of the emerging field of spatial biology, which is already driving medical discovery. "You can think of it as generating the Google Map for the entire healthy adult human body at the single-cell level."
We Need to See More Parents Having Abortions in Film and Television. "Parents are the most common abortion patients yet storylines about the medical choice almost always revolve around single teens."
The Earth is in uncharted climate territory. "I'm not aware of a similar period when all parts of the climate system were in record-breaking or abnormal territory."
"What happens when an editor who runs a breaking news team for The Times turns off his phone and takes a weeklong vow of silence at a meditation retreat?" One of these days, I should figure out a meditation practice.
Twitter begins the process of rebranding to X. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. What a colossal dope.
'From home' is a work of conceptual art by Peter Liversidge that consists of a 38-meter-long measuring tape that is uncoiled 3.8cm each year on July 20 to represent how much further we are from the moon. It will be fully unrolled in 2969. via instagram.com
Say what?! Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks will be visible during the 2024 total solar eclipse. Double feature!
Every Christopher Nolan movie, ranked by the AV Club. Oppenheimer is a surprise #1. My #1 would be Dunkirk or maybe Inception. But I've always preferred The Dark Knight Rises to The Dark Knight so grain of salt and all that.
Dutch crows and magpies are building nests out of anti-bird spikes. "Even for me as a nest researcher, these are the craziest bird nests I've ever seen."
A collection of surprisingly elaborate antique pencil sharpeners in action. I think the spinning wheel of sandpaper is my favorite. via austinkleon.com
I saw Oppenheimer last night (great!) and the first thing I did when I got home was to order the book on which it's based, the Pulitzer-winning American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.
It's Summer Vacation. Does the Media Know Where Clarence Thomas Is? "As corruption scandals ooze from the muck of the Supreme Court, it's time for the media to up their reporting game."
Big Ben is a collection of 86,400 word search puzzles, one for each second of the day. via waxy.org
Legendary hacker Kevin Mitnick has died at the age of 59.
"Art is for everyone — or is it? In New York City, ticket prices for some museums and institutions are raising eyebrows." Single-day tickets at the Whitney and the Met are $30; and others like MoMA and the Guggenheim aren't far behind.
The 2023 SCOTUS Awards. "As this court has repeatedly shown, there's no limit to its ability to astonish the nation by going beyond our ordinary fears."
Sweden Sans is the national typeface of Sweden and is available to download (not sure about the usage rights tho). via news.ycombinator.com
From rapid cooling body bags to 'prescriptions' for AC, doctors prepare for a future of extreme heat. As extreme temperatures become more common, our health care systems need to treat it like the public health emergency it is.
Interesting analysis of why Facebook would want to support the ActivityPub with Threads: they can keep control over their users' identities and data while allowing interaction with other instances.
A team-by-team preview of the 2023 Women's World Cup, which starts tomorrow. Several teams, including USA, France, England, and Germany, all have realistic chances of winning it all.
What I learned from taking a train across the US. "Will the United States ever catch up to the rest of the world when it comes to train travel, or are Americans stuck with an underfunded, inefficient rail network forever?"
This little app helps you construct a workout routine; you pick your equipment, what muscles you'd like to target, and it selects exercises for you from MuscleWiki. I wish it had an "all-body" setting.
The Businessmen Broke Hollywood. "Under pressure to deliver to Wall Street, too many CEOs have lost the plot of their own movie."
Finding the restaurant with the highest number of brothers. "Maybe there is no upper limit to restaurant brothers. Maybe it's infinite. Maybe we aren't meant to know."
20 ways to fancy up your food on a budget, including using parmesan rinds for extra umami, retain and use fats, lemon zest (acid!), and chili sauce (or chili oil). My addition (from Kenji): white miso paste for an umami punch. via digg.com
Could an Industrial Civilization Have Predated Humans on Earth? "Geological processes such as tectonic plate subduction and glaciation could easily erase evidence of ancient urbanization." But global carbon signatures on the other hand...
Classic children's books, rewritten for conservatives, including Blue Lives Matter for Sal, The Taking Tree, The Snowy Day Is a Clear Indicator that Climate Change Is a Hoax, and The Boxcar Children Are Ruining San Francisco.
A fun little web app by Deepak Gulati that allows you to create different patterns from a collection of 19th century ornamental tile illustrations.
I Decided To Become A Slave So One Day My Descendants Could Steal College Admissions Spots. "It was a tough decision, but boy, did it pay off big-time!"
Fudge is a Tetris-inspired game where you take pieces away from a stack instead of adding to one. My low score is 2. via @jenni
Trump and Allies Forge Plans to Increase Presidential Power in 2025. They're in the open now with their plans to turn the US into a conservative autocracy.
Tomorrow morning (July 17) at 9am ET, a new web-only series by Steven Soderbergh called Command-Z premieres in which Michael Cera leads a team using a wormhole in a washing machine to alter the present by traveling back in time.
An earthquake survival kit distributed to Apple employees in 1986. via archives.design
Fun promo for a Doctor Who Blu-ray collection featuring a reunion between Tegan and Nyssa. So good to see them again! via @charliejane
A federal judge on the persistent ethical failures of the Supreme Court justices. "You don't just stay inside the lines; you stay well inside the lines. This is not a matter of politics or judicial philosophy. It is ethics in the trenches."
Jewelry carved from now-extinct giant sloths has been found in Brazil, which indicates humans were living in the Americas 25,000-27,000 years ago, much longer ago than once thought.
I've posted before about Florian T M Zeisig's album of looping Enya samples (it's in my regular listening rotation while I'm working) and he's just released a second volume of new songs that are equally engaging.
Project E Ink is selling "a $2500 e ink art piece that displays daily newspapers on your wall".
Watching this video of a complex set-change for a play at the National Theatre in London reinforces the extent to which the crews of plays/movies/concerts/etc. are engaged in a high-level, precisely choreographed performance as much as the actors are.
Uh, the world's first salmon ATM? Located in Singapore, the machine "dispenses 200-gram fillets of frozen salmon from the fjords of Norway".
What a landmark new study on homelessness tells us. "Lacking housing serves as a meaningful barrier to health care and income benefits, and is a key driver of discrimination in one’s daily life."
Daniel Kaluuya's Barney Movie Is an 'A24-Type' Film That's 'Surrealistic' and for Adults, Says Mattel Exec: 'Not That It's R-Rated'. What an absolutely chaotic headline.
A Third of North America's Birds Have Vanished. The bird population in North America has decreased by 3 billion birds in the past 50 years, "an absolutely profound change in the natural system".
The whitest paint ever just dropped. "The paint's properties are almost superheroic:" it reflects 98% of sunlight, reduces building surface temperatures by 8°F (up to 19°F at night), and decreases air-conditioning needs by up to 40%.
Though rare, throwing a perfect game isn't the rarest single-game event in baseball. That honor goes to hitting two grand slams in a single inning, which has only been done once in more than 235,000 games.
Bill McKibben: To Save the Planet, Should We Really Be Moving Slower? This is a good read on a difficult challenge facing humanity.
The impossible paradox of car ownership. "Cars are harmful to the environment, expensive, and loaded with negative externalities. But the individual benefits to low-income people are too great to ignore."
What if The Bear, but starring Lionel Messi??
The Icelandic word "ísbíltúr" roughly translates as "ice cream road trip". You load up the fam, go get ice cream, and eat it while you drive around. via presentandcorrect.com
The Great British Bake Off: Depression Meals Week. "For their signature challenge, the bakers were asked to prepare something, anything, with bread. Because, for the love of god, they need to eat today."
Elstob is a variable font for medievalists that based on types used by the Oxford University Press in the 17th and 18th centuries. Try the specimens page to play around with features like ligatures and the long s.
Lawyers with Supreme Court business paid Clarence Thomas aide via Venmo. Suuuuper ethical. Is there anything that Thomas actually pays for himself? "So long as Papa gets some sugar" indeed.
The Hollywood studios are gonna let the writer's strike drag on "until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses". What a bunch of cartoonishly evil rich fucks.
Oh, I'd forgotten they were doing a Willy Wonka prequel with Timothée Chalamet in the title role; here's the trailer. Color me skeptical...although it's written and directed by Paul King, who did the wonderful Paddington films.
A report on one of "nature’s oldest wars", bats versus moths: "a battle featuring echolocation, chemical defense, sonar jamming, stealth pursuit, and acoustic illusions". Acoustic camouflage! Sonar jamming!
Can Modern-Day Italians Understand Latin? A Youtuber Puts It to the Test on the Streets of Rome. "As the conversation continues...it becomes clear that they can indeed figure out what he wants to know."
Gatorade Cocktails Are Good. "Whenever I get a bit exhausted by the highbrow brinksmanship of my industry, drinks like these are a refreshing reminder that cocktails should be fun."
I binged the first four episodes of Silo last night, the quickest I've watched a new show in years. Station Eleven + Snowpiercer + Severance vibes. Here's the trailer if you want to check it out. Based on Hugh Howey's book series.
The Anti-Defamation League: Antisemitism, False Information and Hate Speech Find a Home on Substack. "From raising unfounded suspicions about mass shootings & elections to spreading hate speech against Jews, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community..."
"Check a bag, you glamorous beast." I used to be solidly on team carry-on, but more recently I am checking a bag when travelling, especially if there's a layover. Not having to shlep anything bigger than a small backpack around feels luxurious.
50 Years of Text Games: From Oregon Trail to AI Dungeon. There are 50 chapters, covering one text game from each year since 1971. Zork. Adventure. Dwarf Fortress. LambdaMOO. Universal Paperclips.
Useful word for our time: polycrisis. "the interplay between the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the energy, cost-of-living and climate crises [...] where disparate crises interact such that the overall impact far exceeds the sum of each part." via thegoldenhour.substack.com
Subwaydle is a Wordle-like game where you try to guess the NYC subway transfers to use to get to your destination (e.g. "travel from Saratoga Av to 42 St–Port Authority Bus Terminal using 2 transfers").
The Rich Are Crazier Than You and Me. "I suspect that famous, wealthy men may be especially frustrated by their inability to control events, or even stop people from ridiculing them on the internet."
The Man Who Broke Bowling. "Jason Belmonte's two-handed technique made him an outcast. Then it made him the greatest — and changed the sport forever."
A report on the D3 ultramarathon, a 24-hour-long race that takes place on a 400-meter high school track in Pennsylvania. "The thing about lying down is that it's not very helpful in moving forward..."
Why Does the U.S. Copyright Office Require Libraries to Lie to Users about Their Fair Use Rights? "The copyright notice that libraries are required by law to provide you {when photocopying documents} is false and misleading."
Heat Pumps — The Well-Tempered Future of A/Cs. "If air conditioning is going to be climate-friendlier, it needs to be smart, talk to the grid, use better refrigerant, and be a heat pump."
Keyword is a new online game from the Washington Post that's kind of a cross between Wordle and (maybe) Scrabble or a crossword.
No, this guy is not an asshole for carving his name in the wall of the Colosseum for not knowing the building was 2000 years old. He's an asshole because he carved his name in a wall that doesn't belong to him.
Scrounging is a new cookbook from A24 featuring "last-ditch" recipes from movies like The Breakfast Club's Pixy Stix sandwich, The Martian's baked potato with Vicodin, and omelettes from Big Night, Tampopo, and Phantom Thread.
So, Trump posted Obama's home address and one of his supporters drove over there with guns to get a "good angle on a shot". Textbook stochastic terrorism — Trump basically put out a hit on a former President and no consequences once again.
Really interesting piece on Pat Summitt & feminism. "Sports are not just about sports. They encompass a battleground for determining how gender manifests in the world, how women and girls can use their bodies, and who can access self-determination."
Wow, after 10 years of making weekly videos on YouTube (weekly? how?!), Tom Scott is stopping his channel at the end of this year to take a break. 👏
Threads, Facebook's Twitter killer, is live. You can follow me over there I guess?
Begin Transmission is a new book about the trans allegories of The Matrix. "No other mass media franchise speaks as truly, deeply, and honestly to the trans experience."
Incredible analysis by The Pudding about just how little airplay women artists get on country radio stations in the US. In one 24-hour period, "you’d likely only hear 3 back-to-back songs by women, compared to 245 from men".
Vote now in the Tiny Awards, which seek to honor the website that "best embodies the idea of a small, playful and heartfelt web".
"Liberals have lost the Supreme Court for a generation. Their only hope is to seize state courts and launch a counterrevolution."
Monday July 3, 2023 was the hottest day on Earth since record-keeping began in the late 19th century. It seems as though 1.5°C is inevitable now.
It's easy to be cynical about such things, but I found Bill de Blasio and Chirlane McCray's separation announcement to be sincere and genuine and perhaps even a little bit brave and sweet.
Machine learning models trained on accelerometry data (e.g. from smartwatches) can identify Parkinson’s disease "years before clinical diagnosis".
"Astronomers have watched the distant universe running in slow motion, marking the first time that the weird effect predicted by Einstein more than a century ago has been observed." Einstein: still (almost) undefeated.
Can Everyone Take a Sabbatical? "Sabbaticals also provide...a 'check against total burnout.'" Feeling very grateful for the support of my readers in taking a sabbatical last year.
Want to Run a World-Record Time? Follow the Green Lights. Wavelights are a pacemaking technology that are helping runners achieve faster times. But is it cheating? (This is like racing Mario Kart ghosts!)
A list of 30 roadtrips you can take this summer on all seven continents: safaris in Uganda, travelling the east coast of Taiwan, an epic Patagonia trip, coast-to-coast US roadtrip, driving Adelaide to Melbourne, etc.
I was Russell Crowe's stooge. From 2006, a great read by a journalist who was recruited as a shill and then discarded by Russell Crowe. "I had been quite the sucker. It was the only truth that made sense." via jodiettenberg.substack.com
Air quality has become a huge issue recently: Covid, wildfires, gas stoves, longer allergy season. "If the pandemic was whispering to us about air quality, the wildfires are screaming to us about it." via erictopol.substack.com
Now this is how you do special effects. Absolutely seamless.
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