two hundred eight things tagged “favorite things”

A Fremen Mama

Well not really. I was immediately reminded of (a) where I grew up and (b) Dune when I saw this photo of a Bedouin mother and her child.

A photo of a bedouin woman and her baby by Ilo Battigelli
“Bedouin Mother”, Ilo Battigelli, 1948 (Source Unknown)

Intense and so beautiful. It was composed by this chap called Ilo Battigelli (1922-2009, RIP) who worked for Aramco’s oil refineries in Saudi Arabia until the mid-50s. The locals took to calling him “Ilo the Pirate” because he had his studio at a beach 🏴‍☠️. He appears to have had a long and lovely career as a photographer after leaving the Persian Gulf. You can read a little more about him here.

I was able to find this colorized version by Lorenzo Folli (Instagram).

A colorized photo of a bedouin woman and her baby by Lorenzo Folli
© Lorenzo Folli

Stunning stuff. Folli appears to be quite a master at colorizing history. Two quick favorites are this picture of a young Van Gogh (never saw this bro sans beard!) and Victoria with Abdul the Munshi.


© Lorenzo Folli


© Lorenzo Folli

Sky Force: Reloaded

I installed this game in May 2018 and finally beat it five years later in June 2023. I wish I could somehow figure out the amount of time I’ve spent trying to beat this exquisitely-made scrolling shooter, for it would be the amount of time I’ve spent on planes, in Ubers, sick and bedridden, or just a little bored, which is mostly when I’d play it. Here’s what it looks like.

It’s fine on a phone (even on an iPhone Mini) but I loved beating some harder levels and modes on my giant iPad. It’s free but I paid to remove the ads and nothing else.

On vacation in North Carolina, my brother-in-law started playing this arcade game called 1944: The Loop Master which looked uncannily like Sky Force: Reloaded.

The Loop Master is, in turn, a sequel to 19XX: The War Against Destiny, which looks like if you applied an 8-bit filter to Sky Force: Reloaded and kept the WWII aesthetic of the boss monsters the same but modernized the player’s aircraft. Here’s a complete playthrough:

I tried to find out why it had a “Reloaded” in the names. It’s based on an older game, simply called Sky Force. I look forward to referencing this post in 2030 🕹️

A 1st Century Villa in Positano

When I was about 13 or so, I was blown away when I learned that ancient Greek and Roman statues used to be painted (paywalled; cached PDF) and were not commissioned to be ghostly-white. An all-time favorite is this Greek sculpture of a Persian archer.

Greek sculpture of a Persian Archer
Source: “We know Greek statues weren’t white. Now you can see them in color”, NPR

I tremendously enjoy any recreations of color in the ancient world. I find it an absolutely lovely feeling to imagine what life must have been like back then. So when I found this mostly intact home from first century Pompeii, I was tickled pink 🥰

Photograph of a first century villa in Positano 1

Photograph of a first century villa in Positano 2

Photograph of a first century villa in Positano 3

Photograph of a first century villa in Positano 4

Photograph of a first century villa in Positano 5

Simply astounding. I got those from Le Sireneuse Journal1. There’s a nice story of its discovery and a lot more detail on their site but the TL;DR is: Built around 1AD, belonged to a rich family (of course), was buried 36ft under a street for a while because of Vesuvius’ eruption, was discovered by a butcher who was digging out a cellar. Was looted.

I hope to visit one day 🤞

  1. The website is pretty but swallows the scrollbar hijacks the browser’s scroll behaviour to add a maddening level of inertial scroll. It would be nice if people just did normal web things. ↩︎

My Undecided Thirties

Indecision has been a pretty huge problem in my life and this comment by /u/tomwaste hit home.

I’m not sure if people have experienced the same but when I entered my 30s I became convinced I was rapidly running out of time. Rather than using that as motivation I let it paralyze me with indecision because I “couldn’t afford to make the wrong choice.” Consequently, I’m now 39 and, though I’ve had great things happen in my 30s, I regret spending so much time worrying and so little time committing to a course of action.

What’s the simplest way out of this mire of Analysis Paralysis?

“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”

Their comment also reminded me of this Sylvia Plath poem illustrated by Gavin Aung Than of Zen Pencils.

The Fig Tree, a poem by Sylvia Plath illustrated by Gavin Aung Than of Zen Pencils

Zephyr Howls

This is Zephyr, a “captive-born gray wolf” at the Wolf Conservation Center in NY. Below, you can hear him and his friends orchestrate some of the most beautiful sounds you will hear today. I’ve watched this five times and it was somehow even better with my eyes closed.

Here’s the Wolf Conservation Center’s YouTube channel for more music. Fuck I love wolves ♥️🐺

The Valeriepieris Circle

This is from a while ago but I didn’t get the memo. It’s a little crazy:

A map of the The Valeriepieris Circle

It’s named after Reddit user /u/vaieriepieris, an ESL teacher from Texas, who made it for a map subreddit in 2013.

  • There are more Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Communists inside the circle than outside it.
  • It “pulls all of this off while being mostly water and including the most sparsely populated country on earth (Mongolia).” (Source).
  • It also contains the highest mountain and deepest trench.

On Doing Nothing At All

As far as Indian Gurus go, I find this guy more illumined and full of practical, actionable advice than, say, this guy, less full of shit than this one, and definitely less batshit crazy than this one.

Via LT 🙏

Update

The creator of the video is Masood Boomgaard. Here’s his YouTube channel. And here’s the Balm your Soul needs in its entirety 🙏 🌸

On One’s Work

Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.

Thomas Merton, in a letter to Jim Forest dated February 21, 1966, reproduced in The Hidden Ground of Love: Letters by Thomas Merton (W. Shannon ed. 1993).

Check Everything and Twice

A couple from snowy Minnesota decided to take a winter vacation back in the simple Florida resort where they had stayed for a honeymoon twenty-five years before. Because of his wife’s delayed work schedule, the husband went first, and then when he got there he received a message that she would meet him soon. So he sent her this e-mail in reply. But because he typed one letter wrong in the e-mail address, it went by mistake to an old woman in Oklahoma, whose minister husband had died the day before. Here is what she read:

“Dearest,

Well the journey is over and I have finally arrived. I was surprised to find they have e-mail here now. They tell me you’ll be coming soon. It will be good to be together again.

Love as always.

P.S. Be prepared. It’s quite hot down here.”

Source Unknown

Senator Grassley, People, and Party

More people like this, and on both sides, please.

Senator Grassley is 88 years old. He voted to oppose Judge Jackson’s nomination.

“Having carefully studied her record, unfortunately I think she and I have fundamentally different views on the role of judges and the role that they should play in our system of government because of those disagreements I can’t support her nomination,” Grassley said.

Jordain Carney, “Grassley to oppose Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination”, The Hill

Via JK.

On Sitting on your Arse

I like nothing more in the world than sitting on my ass doing nothing. And it’s not my fault I have this attitude, because I happen to have an amazingly comfortable ass. It may not look like much, but if you could sit on this baby for two minutes, you’d realize that getting off this ass would be a crime against nature.

Lori Chapman

Kali

Drawing of Kali from 1900 at a Museum in Baltimore

Unknown artist, circa 1800

The terrifying goddess Kali, wearing a necklace of skulls and holding a severed head in one of her hands, is worshiped here by other gods. From the left, we see Indra, Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver), and Shiva (the destroyer). Kali is associated with violence and sexuality; she stands for the forces of destruction, but she is also a life-giver. Her posture is that of a woman giving birth.

Kali as the Supreme Deity”, The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Not gonna lie: Her head reminded me of the Dust Bunnies in Spirited Away 🙏

Dan Brown is Renowned

These articles are from a while ago. I love them a lot. By Michael Deacon.

That’s true, mused the accomplished composer of thrillers that combined religion, high culture and conspiracy theories. His books were read by everyone from renowned politician President Obama to renowned musician Britney Spears. It was said that a copy of The Da Vinci Code had even found its way into the hands of renowned monarch the Queen. He was grateful for his good fortune, and gave thanks every night in his prayers to renowned deity God.

Michael Deacon, “Don’t make fun of renowned Dan Brown”, The Telegraph

And the renowned encore:

His imagination was racing like a racecar made of brains. Picking up his personal copy of acclaimed tome The Da Vinci Code, he reread its exquisite opening paragraph.

“Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery. He lunged for the nearest painting he could see, a Caravaggio. Grabbing the gilded frame, the seventy-six-year-old man heaved the masterpiece towards himself until it tore from the wall and Saunière collapsed backward in a heap beneath the canvas.”

Hmm, meditated the 5’9” caucasian male. There is no doubting the magnificence of the prose, from the effortless elegance of its syntax to the way it brings characters vividly to life through evocative details like “the seventy-six-year-old man”. But the young people of today wouldn’t know about museums or Caravaggio. I must start again from scratch – and bring the story right up to date.

Michael Deacon, “Look Out, Kids! It’s The Return Of Renowned Dan Brown”, The Telegraph

I read The Da Vinci Code when it was all the rage a long while ago1, and so much of what’s being ridiculed here reminds me of submissions to the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest2.

Update

Here’s John Oliver on the phenonemon that was The Da Vinci Code. 19-year old Nikhil was absolutely mesmerized. His reaction at 5:45 is chef’s kiss

  1. My roommate at the time bought me the illustrated version for my birthday! ↩︎

  2. On my bucket list: Have a submission mentioned honorably 🙏 ↩︎

Oracle

Here’s Bryan Cantrill’s classic assessment of Oracle Corporation (taken from this talk.)

On Twitter, a year after that video:

If you were an enterprise database customer who hadn’t heard of the Nazis, might it be easiest to explain them with Oracle allegory?

@bcantrill

I know people who’ve worked there (none of whom are with the company, mercifully) and have heard nothing but fascinating tales of dysfunction, fiefdoms, sinecures, overwork, and bureaucracy. One engineer told me that, of all the bad places he’d worked at, he felt his “soul dying slowly” at Oracle. It’s a generic and very real Evil Corporation™, and probably the company the protagonists in Office Space work at.

And this wouldn’t be too far-fetched a thought. Consider that the producers of Terminator: Genisys, who are an Oracle Co-Founders’s own children, based “Cyberdyne Systems, the fictional defense company responsible for the creation of the evil AI Skynet” on their dad’s company. Amazing.

I am 20

In 1967, the Films Division of India1 asked all kinds of 20-year olds about their dreams and how they felt about the future of a nation that was, itself, 20 years old. Here’s the original video. A lot of the kids who speak English in the video (starting at 5:00) attend the august Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.

A colorized and edited version of that video went viral. Here’s a most fascinating “Where are They Now?” follow-up by the author where he tracks down seven people in the video. It’s a mix of Hindi and English. Lessons learned: Life is way too short, way too fickle, and almost never pans out the way you think it will. Privilege helps a lot.

  1. Which I just realized is a thing. ↩︎

Worlds Beyond the Stars

Dil Se, written and directed by Mani Ratnam, is one of my all-time favorite movies. I still consider its soundtrack to be A R Rahman’s greatest work. It’s just magnificent stuff.

When I was 15, I remember seeing the movie’s trailer1 and being awestruck by this haunting background song2 that didn’t make it into the official tracklist. The song is a rendition of a well-known poem, Sitaron Se Aage Jahan Aur Bhi Hai, by another genius Allama Iqbal.

I’ve been looking for this song for a long while, settling for shitty movie extractions (which are exactly that.) I went to the extent of trying to contact Madras Talkies, the director’s production company, several times to no response or avail.

Twenty four years later, and thanks to the internet, I’ve finally found good versions of this elusive song 🥰

All of these appear to be from a 20-year anniversary release I couldn’t find anywhere but here. The whole thing is just absolutely lovely. Oh and here’s another version at appears to be mostly the same as the one linked to, and a solo version by a guy named Sujay.

  1. Which was badass and which I also cannot find. We went to see Bade Miyan Chote Miyan↩︎

  2. Sung by Sukhwinder Singh and, I’m guessing, a fucking banshee. ↩︎

On Stupid Questions

Journalist David Walsh recounting a story about his late son John in the context of his work uncovering Lance Armstrong and the USPS Pro Cycling Team’s “most sophisticated, professionalised and successful”1 doping program.

One story stood out. One of John’s teachers at [inaudible] National School in the Midlands of Ireland said to me that she remembered John for something that happened when John was six or seven, and she was reading this story of the Nativity.

You know, Mary and Joseph had come to Bethlehem and sought a place in the inn but all the inns were full and they ended up in a stable. And it was there that Baby Jesus was born. And the shepherds came and then the Three Wise Men came and they brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And then Mary and Joseph came back to where they came from and they lived a very modest life because Joseph was just a humble carpenter and they didn’t have very much.

And John’s hand went up. And Mrs. Toomey, his teacher, said “Yes John.” And he said “Miss, you said Mary and Joseph didn’t have very much. What did they do with the gold that the Three Wise Men brought?”

And she said “John, I’ve been reading this story for thirty-three years and nobody has ever asked me that question. And the honest answer is: I don’t know.”

And I said Mrs. Toomey that’s the most beautiful story. Because it is the most pertinent question, in that, journalism, which is my profession, that’s it! In a nutshell! “What did Mary and Joseph do with the gold?” You ask the obvious question. People may laugh at you. People may think you’re an idiot. But that doesn’t deter you. If you’re unsure, you ask.

David Walsh, “Extraordinary Proof”, The Moth (cached)
  1. Lance Armstrong: Usada report labels him ‘a serial cheat’, BBC Sport ↩︎

Adventures of the Magic Monkey Along the Silk Roads by Evelyn Nagai-Berthrong and Anker Odum A+

'Adventures of the Magic Monkey Along the Silk Roads' by Evelyn Nagai-Berthrong and Anker Odum

A friend used to loan me this lovely book when I was 12 or 13. I loved reading and re-reading it to the point where I remember asking him if he could just gift it to me for my birthday (he declined). And then Life happened and I grew up and I forgot all about it until around 3 years ago, when I suddenly went “wait a second” as I was casually reading some translation of Journey to the West. This book is a childrens’ adaptation of that classic Chinese tale! I then started looking for it, off-and-on, with very little luck.

Last year, LD told me about this absolutely lovely website called “Stump the Bookseller” run by LoganBerry Books in Cleveland. For a nominal fee, I submitted everything I could remember about the book hoping that someone would know it… only to find it myself that evening. My Google-fu had somehow improved after submitting that request. I bought it from AbeBooks posthaste.

It’s just a fantastic adventure to get lost in. To understand the Myth of the Monkey a little deeper, I turned to this paper by Professor Whalen Lai1. There’s just too much to quote but here’s a highly condensed TL;DR of both the book and the story:

Our search for the original face of Monkey should not distract us from his final destiny. Genealogy is only half the story. In his second westward trip Monkey rises above his animal past, above even humanity, to become a Buddha. In his first trip he acquired only Taoist immortality, and discovered only his premoral, childlike, monkey nature. Still capable of grudges against Heaven, Monkey loses his good temper and is damned for his Titanic pride. Only on his second trip West does Monkey, guided by the compassionate Guanyin, find his true self, his Buddha-nature. Guanyin teaches Monkey an invaluable lesson: that it is more important to tame the demon – the “monkey mind” – within than subdue the demons without.

In that second journey to the West, Monkey learns the art of Buddhist self-discipline. Guanyin initially puts a headband, a “crown of thorns” as it were, on Monkey’s forehead. The headband gives Monkey insufferable headaches every time he harbors evil thoughts. Mindfulness of good and evil eventually allows Monkey to “Do good, avoid evil, and cleanse the mind.” By journey’s end, Monkey is his own master, a victor over the demons within. When he finally asks Guanyin to kindly remove the headband, Monkey is told that it is not necessary. The crown of thorns had long since magically disappeared. At last this protean Ape had grown, in his progress as a pilgrim, into a Buddhist saint.

Whalen Lai, "From Protean Ape to Handsome Saint: The Monkey King, Asian Folklore Studies, Vol. 53, No. 1 (1994), pp. 29-65
  1. An Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at UC Davis. ↩︎

“A plus-sized Jewish lady redneck died in El Paso on Saturday.”

Renay Mandel Corren passed away at 84 a week ago (RIP 🙏). Her son wrote what is one of the best obituaries I’ve read in a while. A small excerpt:

Here’s what Renay was great at: dyeing her red roots, weekly manicures, dirty jokes, pier fishing, rolling joints and buying dirty magazines. She said she read them for the articles, but filthy free speech was really Renay’s thing. Hers was a bawdy, rowdy life lived large, broke and loud. We thought Renay could not be killed. God knows, people tried.

Please enjoy the whole thing. I cached it here because it is too important to lose. Via PLG.

Fundamentals of Lambda Calculus for People Who Love Birds

This (beautifully formatted and well-paced-and-delivered and surprisingly sparsely attended) talk by Gabriel Lebec on the fundamentals of Lambda Calculus is one of my favorite talks ever.

As Lebec explains, the lovely bird names come from this book called “To Mock a Mockingbird” by mathematician and logician Raymond Smullyan. The naming is simply delightful. As Matthew Gilliard explains:

The premise is that there are enchanted forests which contain many (or sometimes very few) talking birds. Smullyan dedicated the book to Haskell Curry - an early pioneer in combinatory logic and an avid bird-watcher. The birds, which I suppose represent the combinators, have an interesting characteristic:
Given any two birds A and B, if you call out the name of B to A it will respond by calling out the name of some bird to you.

This bird whose name A calls when you call B is denoted as AB. Once you have several birds in place, a single call can cascade around the forest with each call following rules depending on who produces it.

The very first bird we are introduced to is the Mockingbird whose characteristic behaviour is that whatever name you call to the Mockingbird, it will reply as if it is the bird whose name you called. This is denoted:

Mx = xx

For any bird x we can say that Mx (the result of calling x to a Mockingbird) is the same as xx (the result of calling x to a bird of type x). It really does mock other birds! And what’s more, the existence of the Mockingbird, in combination with various others, unlocks some really fascinating group behaviour from these birds.

And!

Soon we discover that birds have certain properties: The can be fond of other birds, they can be egocentric if they are fond of themselves. The can be hopelessly egocentric if they only ever talk about themselves. There are happy birds, normal birds, agreeable birds and many others. We also meet other types of birds with specific properties - the Lark, the Kestrel, Sage birds, Bluebirds, aristocratic birds, Eagles, the list goes on and on. Luckily there is a Who’s Who list of birds in the back to keep track.

Some “Dune” Posters

For “the greatest movie never made”, although there appear to be a few contenders1 for that title, like Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon.

My absolute favorite is the last one by Hugo Emmanuel Figueroa 🙌

Dune poster for Jodorowsky's Dune 1

Pe-release flyer (Source)

Dune poster for Jodorowsky's Dune 2

by Matt Chinn.

Dune poster for Jodorowsky's Dune 3

Variation 1 by Stan and Vince.

Dune poster for Jodorowsky's Dune 4

Variation 2 by Stan and Vince.

Dune poster for Jodorowsky's Dune 5

by Hugo Emmanuel Figueroa

  1. In case that link goes down here’s a cached version. Others include The Man Who Killed Don Quixote by Terry Gilliam, Revenge of the Jedi by David Cronenberg/David Lynch, Heart of Darkness by Orson Welles, and Gladiator 2 by Ridley Scott/Nick Cave. ↩︎

On Law and Character

Good government never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery. The most important element of government, therefore, is the method of choosing leaders.

— Law And Governance, The Spacing Guild Manual, Dune

I think we’re doing pretty well here. Things will be fine in 2024. Peaceful, lawful, and full of dignity and decorum 🙏

On Gun Law Reform

The National Rifle Association says that, “Guns don’t kill people, uh, people do.” But I think, I think the gun helps. You know? I think it helps. I just think just standing there going, “Bang!” That’s not going to kill too many people, is it? You’d have to be really dodgy on the heart to have that.

Eddie Izzard, “Dress to Kill

The Pithy Wisdom of Stephen Crowley

Stephen Crowley is a product designer who maintains @ShitUserStory, my favorite new Twitter account1 (via Deepu). He also maintains a Medium blog with gems like these:

Lovely stuff.

  1. Given the amount of rage I’ve had with awful product design and really, really shitty websites of late. The madness doesn’t stop with the web. On $250 Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones, which are comfortable and have lovely sound and the best active noise-canceling I’ve ever experienced, opting to “Disable Voice Guidance” still means that the nice lady inside your headphones will tell you when you dis/connect your Bluetooth device. You gotta toggle a feature in the app to prevent iTunes from launching every time it pairs with your Mac (the Sony folk think this “feature” is “unfortunate” so there’s that at least.) Your headphones can just choose to turn off the moment you turn them on unless you update the firmware. Would you like to share your location? Do you want the Sony app to send you notifications? We’ll need the last four digits of your SSN so we can create a tailor-made listening profile for you. Is that OK? ↩︎

On ‘Deliberate’ Genocide in the Americas by CommodoreCoCo More Pasta

Responding to this chilling comment:

You are failing to understand genocide itself. INTENT, is the word, DELIBERATION. Deliberation to destroy an ethnic group. There was NEVER a deliberate attempt to destroy native culture in the Americas. In fact, you have laws since the 1512 protecting their rights and equalising them to Iberian Crown subjects, “Las Leyes de Burgos”.

Because, you see, unintentional genocide is A-OK.

I see I’ve been summoned. Your comments in this thread make it clear that nothing will change your position. It’s a difficult position to combat, because it’s in such a defiance of literally anything written on the topic in at least the last 50 years. You are not operating off the same foundations of evidence that others are, and for that reason I suspect they, like me, are not terribly interested in arguing. Because it’s unlikely your drivel will be removed, I’m posting some quotes and links for those who see this thread later and think you might have even begun to approach a point supported by any specialist on the topic. I do not intend these to be comprehensive; there are myriad examples of “deliberate attempts to destroy native culture in the Americas” in, well, literally any single book or article you can pick up about the era. Rather, because you’ve instead there never was any such thing, I’ve provided some obvious examples.


A primary goal of the Spanish colonial regime was to completely extirpate indigenous ways of life. While this was nominally about conversion to Catholicism, those in charge made it quite explicit that “conversion” not only should be but needed to be a violent process. Everything potentially conceivable as an indigenous practice, be it burial rituals, ways to build houses, or farming technologies, was targeted, To quote historian Peter Gose:

only by rebuilding Indian life from the ground up, educating, and preventing (with force if necessary) the return to idolatry could the missionary arrest these hereditary inclinations and modify them over time.

Francisco de Toledo, Viceroy of Peru, made clear in a 1570 decree that failure to comply with Catholicism was an offense punishable by death and within secular jurisdiction:

And should it occur that an infidel dogmatizer be found who disrupts the preaching of the gospel and manages to pervert the newly converted, in this case secular judges can proceed against such infidel dogmatizers, punishing them with death or other punishments that seem appropriate to them, since it is declared by congresses of theologians and jurists that His Majesty has convened in the Kingdoms of Spain that not only is this just cause for condemning such people to death, but even for waging war against a whole kingdom or province with all the death and damage to property that results

The same Toledo decreed in 1580 that Catholic priests and secular judges and magistrates should work together to destroy indigenous burial sites:

I order and command that each magistrate ensure that in his district all the tower tombs be knocked down, and that a large pit be dug into which all of the bones of those who died as pagans be mixed together, and that special care be taken henceforth to gather the intelligence necessary to discover whether any of the baptized are buried outside of the church, with the priest and the judge helping each other in such an important matter

Not only was the destruction of native culture a top-down decree, resistance was explicitly a death sentence.


The contemporary diversity of Latin America is not the result of natural “intermixing,” but the failure of the Spanish to assert themselves and the continuous resistance of the indigenous population. As early as 1588, we see letters from local priests airing grievances about the failure of the reduccion towns they were supposed to relocate native families to:

‘the corregidores are obliged, and the governors, to reduce the towns and order them reduced, and to build churches, take care to find out if the people come diligently for religious instruction and mass, to make them come and help the priest, and punish the careless, lazy, and bad Indians in the works of Christianity, as the ordinances of don Francisco de Toledo require, [but] they do not comply. Rather, many of the towns have yet to be reduced, and many churches are yet to be built, and a large part of the Indians are fled to many places where they neither see a priest nor receive religious instruction.

Reduccion was not a voluntary process, nor was it a question of simply “moving away.” Not only did it involve the destruction of native religious sites, it frequently involved the destruction of entire towns to repurpose building material and ensure people could not return. In fact, where we do see more voluntary participation in Spanish colonial structures, usually because of the political legibility and opportunities it provided, the resulting syncretism becomes an ever greater source of anxiety for the Spanish. Indigenous elites could selectively participate in Catholicism and game the system to their benefit- not something the state wanted to admit could happen.

These quotes come from Gose’s chapter on reducciones uploaded here.

I will also provide this section from the conclusion of Nicholas Robins’ book Mercury, Mining, and Empire; the entirety is uploaded here. The quoted chunk below is a summary of the various historical events presented in that chapter.

The white legend held much historiographical sway throughout the nineteenth and much of the twentieth centuries, and in no small part reflected a selective focus on legal structures rather than their application, subsumed in a denigratory view of native peoples, their cultures, and their heritage. As later twentieth-century historians began to examine the actual operation of the colony, the black legend again gained ascendance. As Benjamin Keen wrote, the black legend is “no legend at all.

Twentieth-century concepts of genocide have superseded this debate, and the genocidal nature of the conquest is, ironically, evident in the very Spanish laws that the advocates of the white legend used in their efforts to justify their position. Such policies in Latin America had a defining influence on Rafael Lemkin, the scholar who first developed the term genocide in Axis Rule in Occupied Europe. As developed by Lemkin, “Genocide has two phases: one, destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group; the other, the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor,” which often included the establishment of settler colonies. Because of the intimate links between culture and national identity, Lemkin equated intentional cultural destruction with genocide. It was in no small part a result of his tireless efforts that in 1948 the United Nations adopted the defintion of genocide which, despite its shortcomings, serves today as international law. The fact that genocide is a modern concept and that colonists operated within the “spirit of the times” in no way lessens the genocidal nature of their actions. It was, in fact, historical genocides, including those in Latin America, that informed Lemkin’s thinking and gave rise to the term.

Dehumanization of the victim is the handmaiden of genocide, and that which occurred in Spanish America is no exception. Although there were those who recognized the humanity of the natives and sought to defend them, they were in the end a small minority. The image of the Indian as a lazy, thieving, ignorant, prevaricating drunkard who only responded to force was, perversely, a step up from the ranks of nonhumans in which they were initially cast. The official recognition that the Indians were in fact human had little effect in their daily lives, as they were still treated like animals and viewed as natural servants by non-Indians. It is remarkable that the white legend could ever emerge from this genocidogenic milieu. With the path to genocide thus opened by the machete of dehumanization, Spanish policies to culturally destroy and otherwise subject the Amerindians as a people were multifaceted, consistent, and enduring. Those developed and implemented by Viceroy Francisco de Toledo in Peru in the 1570s have elevated him to the status of genocidier extraordinaire.

Once an Indian group had refused to submit to the Spanish crown, they could be legally enslaved, and calls for submission were usually made in a language the Indians did not understand and were often out of earshot. In some cases, the goal was the outright physical extermination or enslavement of specific ethnic groups whom the authorities could not control, such as the Chiriguano and Araucanian Indians. Another benefit from the crown’s perspective was that restive Spaniards and Creoles could be dispatched in such campaigns, thus relieving cities and towns of troublemakers while bringing new lands and labor into the kingdom. Ironically, de Toledo’s campaign to wipe out the Chiriguano contributed to his own ill health. Overall, however, genocidal policies in the Andes and the Americas centered on systematic cultural, religious, and linguistic destruction, forced labor, and forced relocation, much of which affected reproduction and the ability of individuals and communities to sustain themselves.

The forced relocation of Indians from usually spread-out settlements into reducciones, or Spanish-style communities, had among its primary objectives the abolition of indigenous religious and cultural practices and their replacement with those associated with Catholicism. As native lands and the surrounding geographical environment had tremendous spiritual significance, their physical removal also undermined indigenous spiritual relationships. Complementing the natives’ spiritual and cultural control was the physical control, and thus access to labor, offered by the new communities. The concentration of people also inadvertently fostered the spread of disease, giving added impetus to the demographic implosion. Finally, forced relocation was a direct attack on traditional means of sustenance, as many kin groups settled in and utilized the diverse microclimates of the region to provide a variety of foodstuffs and products for the group.

Integrated into this cultural onslaught were extirpation campaigns designed to seek out and destroy all indigenous religious shrines and icons and to either convert or kill native religious leaders. The damage matched the zeal and went to the heart of indigenous spiritual identity. For example, in 1559, an extirpation drive led by Augustinian friars resulted in the destruction of about 5,000 religious icons in the region of Huaylas, Peru, alone. Cultural destruction, or ethnocide, also occurred on a daily basis in Indian villages, where the natives were subject to forced baptism as well as physical and financial participation in a host of Catholic rites. As linchpins in the colonial apparatus, the clergy not only focused on spiritual conformity but also wielded formidable political and economic power in the community. Challenges to their authority were quickly met with the lash, imprisonment, exile, or the confiscation of property.

Miscegenation, often though not always through rape, also had profound personal, cultural, and genetic impacts on indigenous people. Part of the reason was the relative paucity of Spanish women in the colony, while power, opportunity, and impunity also played important roles. Genetic effacement was, in the 1770s, complemented by efforts to illegalize and eliminate native languages. A component in the wider effort to deculturate the indigenes, such policies were implemented with renewed vigor following the Great Rebellion of 1780–1782. Such laws contained provisions making it illegal to communicate with servants in anything but Spanish, and any servant who did not promptly learn the language was to be fired. The fact that there are still Indians in the Andes does not diminish the fact that they were victims of genocide, for few genocides are total.

Lastly, I would direct readers to the following article: Levene, Mark. 1999. “The Chittagong Hill Tracts: A Case Study in the Political Economy of ‘Creeping’ Genocide.” Third World Quarterly 20 (2): 339–69.

Though it talks about events a world away, it’s discussion of genocide is pertinent here. From the abstract:

The destruction of indigenous, tribal peoples in remote and/or frontier regions of the developing world is often assumed to be the outcome of inexorable, even inevitable forces of progress. People are not so much killed, they become extinct. Terms such as ethnocide, cultural genocide or developmental genocide suggest a distinct form of ‘off the map’ elimination which implicitly discourages comparison with other acknowledged examples of genocide. By concentrating on a little-known case study, that of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) in Bangladesh, this article argues that this sort of categorisation is misplaced. Not only is the destruction or attempted destruction of fourth world peoples central to the pattern of contemporary genocide but, by examining such specific examples, we can more clearly delineate the phenomenon’s more general wellsprings and processes. The example of the CHT does have its own peculiar features; not least what has been termed here its ‘creeping’ nature. In other respects, however, the efforts of a new nation-state to overcome its structural weaknesses by attempting a forced-pace consolidation and settlement of its one, allegedly, unoccupied resource-rich frontier region closely mirrors other state-building, developmental agendas which have been confronted with communal resistance. The ensuing crisis of state–communal relations, however, cannot be viewed in national isolation. Bangladesh’s drive to develop the CHT has not only been funded by Western finance and aid but is closely linked to its efforts to integrate itself rapidly into a Western dominated and regulated international system. It is in these efforts ‘to realise what is actually unrealisable’ that the relationship between a flawed state power and genocide can be located.

Genocide need not be a state program uniquely articulated to eliminate a people or their culture. Rather, it is often disguised in the name “progress” or “development.” This connects to the Spanish colonial economic system, based on what Robins (above) calls the “ultra-violence” of forced labor in mines.

“It wasn’t brains that got me here I can assure you of that.”

I cannot help rewatch this powerful scene from “Margin Call”. A masterclass in acting by the great Jeremy Irons.

Every sentence, glance, and gesture projects complete and menacing presence, power, and finality, and is done to absolute perfection 👌

A Big Collection of Bog Bodies by Gabe Paoletti More Pasta

In many cases, you’re staring at the face of someone who lived centuries ago. That was their hair, their nose, their eye-lashes, their sleep. Very few things are more fascinating than this.

Borremose Man

The Borremose Man died in the 7th century BCE. He was bludgeoned to death from the back of his head and had a rope with a slip knot tied around his neck. It is believed that he was a human sacrifice. He was found in the Borremose peat bog in Himmerland, Denmark in 1946. Shortly after, two other, less well preserved, bodies were discovered in the same marsh. Credit: Danish National Museum/Wikimedia Commons

Tollund Man

The face of the Tollund Man. Credit: Sven Rosborn/Wikimedia Commons

Yde Girl

The Yde Girl died sometime between 54 BCE and 128 CE at an approximate age of 16 years old. She suffered from scoliosis and had long reddish blonde hair that was preserved by the swamp. She was buried with a ritually tied woolen braid around her neck suggesting she was killed as a human sacrifice. However, due to damage to the body at the time of discovery, the cause of her death is unknown. She was found outside the village of the village of Yde, Netherlands. Credit: Drents Museum/Wikimedia Commons

Grauballe Man

The Grauballe Man died during the late 3rd century BCE when he was around thirty years old. He was found naked, with no indication of any clothing around him. His neck was slit from ear-to-ear in a bog in Jutland, Denmark in 1955. His well-preserved hair was likely dark brown during his life but was turned red by the bog. Historians believe he was likely a human sacrifice. Credit: Sven Rosborn/Wikimedia Commons

Tollund Man

The Tollund Man was an approximately 40-year-old man who was killed sometime between 375 and 210 BCE. He was found with a noose around his neck, indicating he was hanged to death, as well as a sheepskin cap on his head. He was found in a bog outside of the Danish town of Silkeborg in 1950. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Damendorf Man

The Damendorf Man died around 300 BCE and had his body squashed flat by the weight of the peat that accumulated on top of him. He was found in a bog outside the German town of Damendorf in 1900 with a leather belt, shoes, and a pair of breeches. Credit: Bullenwächter/Wikimedia Commons

Bocksten Bog

The Bocksten Man likely lived sometime between 1290 and 1430. He was a tall, slender man, most likely in his 40s at the time of his death. He was killed and impaled with two wooden poles, one that went directly through his heart, to the bed of a lake that would later become a bog. This impaling likely happened after his death as he also has a large wound on his head. He was found in a bog near Varberg Municipality, Sweden in 1936. His hair was found perfectly preserved, and he was also discovered with a hooded garment and an engraved leather sheath. Credit: Peter Lindberg/Wikimedia Commons

Arden Hair

The Arden Woman lived during the 14th Century BCE and was around 20–25 years old at the time of her death. She was found in the Bredmose bog in Hindsted, Denmark in 1942. Police said the corpse was found in a ‘question mark’ shape. Her well-preserved hair was dark blond, drawn into two pigtails, and coiled around the top of her head. Unlike some bog bodies, she was found with garments and with no evidence of a violent death. Credit: P.V. Glob/Wikimedia Commons

Grauballe Man

The full body of The Grauballe Man. His hands were so well preserved that researchers were able to take the fingerprints of the over 2,000-year-old body. Credit: Colin/Wikimedia Commons

Bog Bodies

The Clonycavan Man was an Irish man who died sometime between 392 BCE and 201 BCE. He was 5’2, with a squashed nose, crooked teeth, and gelled-up hair. He was killed by an ax blow to the back of his head. The Clonycavan Man was discovered in 2003 in Clonycavan, Ireland when he was picked up by a modern peat harvesting machine that mangled his lower body. His rich diet, imported hair gel, and death near a hill used for kingly initiation led historians to theorize that he was a king who was ritually sacrificed after a bad harvest. Credit: Mark Healey/Wikimedia Commons

Kreepen Man

The Kreepen Man was a body discovered in a bog in 1903 near Verden, Germany. The body had twisted oak and willow branches binding his hands and feet. After its discovery, the body was sold to The Museum of European Cultures in Berlin but was destroyed when the city was bombed during WWII. Hair found at the site believed to belong to the Kreepen Man, date to between 1440 and 1520, but without the body, the genuine date of death is unknown. Credit: Andreas Franzkowiak/Wikimedia Commons

huldremosekvinden-bog

The Huldremose Woman died sometime between 160 BCE and 340 CE and was over 40 years old at the time of her death. She had a rope around her neck indicating she may have been strangled or hanged to death. There is also a laceration on one of her feet. She was found with an elaborate wool plaid cape, scarf, and skirt. She was found by a school teacher in 1879 in a peat bog near Ramten, Denmark. Credit: Kira Ursem/Wikimedia Commons

Weerdinge Men

The Weerdinge Men are two naked bog bodies found in Drenthe, the Netherlands in 1904. They would have lived sometime between 60 BCE and 220 CE. One of the men had a large cut in his abdomen, through which his intestines spilled out, which some historians believe indicates that he was cut open so an ancient druid could divine the future from his entrails. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Röst Girl

The Röst Girl is thought have died sometime between 200 BCE and 80 CE in a bog in the Schleswig-Holstein state of Germany. She was discovered in 1926, but the cause of her death is unknown because her body was destroyed during WWII. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Old Croughan

The Old Croughan Man lived sometime between 362 BCE and 175 BCE and would have been around 20-years-old at the time of his death. This torso, missing the head and lower body, was discovered in 2003 in a bog near Croghan Hill in Ireland. From his arm-span, it is believed he would have been 6’6. Credit: Mark Healey/Wikimedia Commons

Roter Franz

Roter Franz died in the Bourtanger Moor, on what is now the border of Germany and the Netherlands, sometime between 220 and 430 CE during the Roman Iron Age. The name Roter Franz (meaning Red Franz in English) is derived from the red hair and beard discovered on the body. He was killed when his throat was slit and had an arrow wound on his shoulder. Credit: Axel Hindemith/Wikimedia Commons

Bog Bodies

The Osterby Head was discovered in 1948 in a bog to the southeast of Osterby, Germany. The man whose head this belonged to lived sometime between 75 and 130 CE and was 50 to 60 years of age when he died. Evidence shows that he was struck in the head fatally and then beheaded. His hair was tied in a Suebian knot, indicating he was likely a free man of the Germanic Suebi tribe. Credit: Andreas Franzkowiak/Wikimedia Commons

Kraglund Man

The Kraglund Man was discovered in 1898 in Nordjylland, Denmark. He is believed to have been male, but there is little documentation, and the body has been lost. He was the first bog body to be photographed before being moved from where it was discovered. Credit: Georg Sarauw /Wikimedia Commons

Rendswühren Man

The Rendswühren Man was a 40 to 50 years old man who died in the 1st century CE. He is believed to have been beaten to death and was buried with his clothing, a rectangular wool cloak, and a fur cape. He was discovered outside the town of Rendswühren in Germany in 1871. Credit: Andreas Franzkowiak/Wikimedia Commons

Rendswühren Man

A picture of the Rendswühren Man taken in 1873, two years after he was discovered. Credit: Johanna Mestorf/Wikimedia Commons

Roum Head

The Roum Head was found in Himmerland, Denmark, and belonged to a man in his 20s who died during the Iron Age. The find was originally titled as “The Roum Woman” until traces of beard stubble were found on the face. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Haraldskær Woman

The Haraldskær Woman was discovered in a bog in Jutland, Denmark in 1892. When she was discovered, she was believed to be Queen Gunnhild of Norway, a quasi-historical figure from around 1000 CE who was said to have been drowned in a bog. Thinking it was their ancient queen, the Danish monarchy had the body placed in an elaborate glass-covered sarcophagus inside St. Nicolai Church in central Vejle, Denmark. In 1977, radiocarbon dating proved that the woman actually lived nearly 1,500 years before the revered queen, and likely died in the 5th century BC. She was around 40 years old at the time of her death. Credit: McLeod/Wikimedia Commons

Gunhild Glass

The Haraldskær Woman in her glass-covered sarcophagus. Credit: Västgöten/Wikimedia Commons

Kayhausen Boy

The Kayhausen Boy was a child aged 7 to 10 years old who is thought to have been killed died between 300 and 400 BCE. He had an infected socket at the top of his femur that would likely have made him unable to walk. His killers bound his hands and feet with cloth torn from a fur cape and stabbed him four times. His body was discovered in a sphagnum bog in Lower Saxony, Germany in 1922. Credit: Department of Legal Medicine, Universitatsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf

Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013) IMDb A+

I can die, they can do my picture. I have 84 years, but I am still creating. All my life I create, and is more and more and more.

The mind is like a universe. It’s constantly expanding. Like the universe, exactly like the universe, open the mind. The opening of the mind is every day, is open. That was this picture. Open the mind of all the persons who worked there. From the producer to the artists. From the workers… for every one was an opening of the mind, this work.

Was ambitious, but not too ambitious. Myself, I have the ambition to live 300 years. I will not live 300 years. Maybe I will live one year more. But I have the ambition. Why you will not have ambition? Why? Have the greatest ambition possible. You want to be immortal? Fight to be immortal. Do it. You want to make the most fantastic art of movie? Try. If you fail, is not important. We need to try.

Watched with LD. What an incredible story. His vision would’ve strayed a bit far from the book but what a wonderful thing it would’ve been to experience.

I am going to read The Incal posthaste. It’s a set of highly regarded graphic novels by Jodorowsky and Moebius. I’m told it’s a heavily copied work too. Lovely stuff. Never give up.

Portrait of Hotto Enmyo Kokushi

Portrait of Hotto Enmyo Kokushi

This beautiful piece was sculpted in Japan around the 13th century and is about three feet tall. The subject is a Zen Buddhist monk Shinchi Kakushin, who lived till the ripe old age of 95. After his death, he was given the title “perfectly awakened national teacher of the Dharma lamp” which is what “Hotto Enmyo Kokushi” means.

It’s at the Cleveland Museum of art. More info here.

“Crowded, Compartmentalized, Sticky, Spatially Inhomogeneous”

In college, I remember being blown away by a huge, physical map of metabolic pathways our Biochemistry professor once brought into class. It looked like this:

metabolic pathways

Here it is online. Kinda like a Google Maps of cellular reactions. It was impressed upon us that the interior of a cell (especially a eukaryotic one) is a really, really busy and tight and ‘goopy’ place: “crowded, compartmentalized, sticky, spatially inhomogeneous”. As that paper notes, this messy, “macromolecular crowding” helps your proteins fold properly (among several other factors.) This was a bit hard for me to appreciate since, up to then, I was only accustomed to images of cells from a light microscope or vastly simplified illustrations school texts.

I was somehow reminded of all of that after seeing some astounding paintings by Professor David S. Goodsell (Wiki, Twitter, Website). He calls the series “Molecular Landscapes.” Here are a few related to the pandemic we’ve been through.

SARS-CoV-2 and Neutralizing Antibodies, 2020

Art by David S. Goodsell

Acknowledgement: David S. Goodsell, RCSB Protein Data Bank and Springer Nature; doi: 10.2210/rcsb_pdb/goodsell-gallery-025. The painting was commissioned for the cover of a special COVID-19 issue of Nature, presented 20 August 2020, and is currently in the collection of the Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences.

(Unknown Title)

Art by David S. Goodsell

Acknowledgement: Illustration by David S. Goodsell

Coronavirus, 2020

Art by David S. Goodsell

Acknowledgement: Illustration by David S. Goodsell, RCSB Protein Data Bank; doi: 10.2210/rcsb_pdb/goodsell-gallery-019. This painting depicts a coronavirus just entering the lungs, surrounded by mucus secreted by respiratory cells, secreted antibodies, and several small immune systems proteins. The virus is enclosed by a membrane that includes the S (spike) protein, which will mediate attachment and entry into cells, M (membrane) protein, which is involved in organization of the nucleoprotein inside, and E (envelope) protein, which is a membrane channel involved in budding of the virus and may be incorporated into the virion during that process. The nucleoprotein inside includes many copies of the N (nucleocapsid) protein bound to the genomic RNA.

SARS-CoV-2 Fusion, 2020

Art by David S. Goodsell

Acknowledgement: Illustration by David S. Goodsell, RCSB Protein Data Bank; doi: 10.2210/rcsb_pdb/goodsell-gallery-026. This painting depicts the fusion of SARS-CoV-2 (magenta) with an endosomal membrane (green), releasing the viral RNA genome into the cell cytoplasm (blue), where it is beginning to be translated by cellular ribosomes to create viral polyproteins. The painting includes speculative elements that are designed to highlight the process, most notably, multiple states of the viral spike protein are shown.

SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccine, 2020

Art by David S. Goodsell

Acknowledgement: Illustration by David S. Goodsell, RCSB Protein Data Bank; doi: 10.2210/rcsb_pdb/goodsell-gallery-027. Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines developed for the COVID-19 pandemic are composed of long strands of RNA (magenta) that encode the SARS-CoV-2 spike surface glycoprotein enclosed in lipids (blue) that deliver the RNA into cells. Several different types of lipids are used, including familar lipids, cholesterol, ionizable lipids that interact with RNA, and lipids connected to polyethylene glycol chains (green) that help shield the vaccine from the immune system, lengthening its lifetime following administration. In this idealized illustration, all of the lipids are arranged in a simple circular bilayer that surrounds the mRNA and the PEG strands have both extended and folded conformations. In reality, the structure may be less regular, as suggested in the NanoLetters paper […]

Friendly’s Staff Fails To Live Up To Restaurant Name, Writes “100% Sh*t Show” On Receipt by Chris Morran More Pasta

I read this story a long while ago and have been searching for it since. I have related increasingly exaggerated variants of it from memory every few years to friends who laugh nervously when I lose my damn mind to the “She just went home I guess” part.

To me, few things are funnier than stories of the wittingly incompetent and their inadvertent courage in this boring, rigged dystopia we live in.

A New Hampshire family says that after a night out to eat at Friendly’s didn’t go so well, a restaurant staffer decided to express their inner feelings through the increasingly preferred medium of the restaurant’s billing system, dropping the phrase “100% sh*t show” at the bottom of the dinner bill.

However, judging by the family’s recollection of the night, that phrase might be an accurate description of the service they received.

After waiting for about 30 minutes without service, they thought they finally located a waitress to take their order. But over the 45 minutes that followed, they were twice served other diners’ food, while theirs was missing in action.

“Come to find out, the waitress that had taken our order never submitted it she just left,” one of the customers tells WHDH-TV, “She went home I guess.”

The restaurant apologized and offered to pay for the family’s meal. And while this comp was reflected on the final check, so was the “sh*t show” remark.

“They had to have had it either entered into the cash register or they had a [expletive] show button,” says the diner, adding that she and her family aren’t offended or boycotting the restaurant and that they will go back to that Friendly’s in the future.

For what it’s worth, Friendly’s HQ released a statement to WHDH:

“[T]his type of behavior is completely unacceptable. We are investigating this with the restaurant and will take swift action. We hope we get the opportunity to rectify this directly with the guest.”

Thanks to Craig for the tip!

Are they not Mothers and Fathers and Children?

I finish just by saying this: war is an easy thing to talk about; there are not many people - a - of the generation that remember it. The right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup served with distinction in the last war. I never killed anyone but I wore uniform. But I was in London in the blitz in 1940, living in the Millbank tower, where I was born. Some different ideas have come in since. And every night, I went down to the shelter in Thames house. Every morning, I saw dockland burning. Five hundred people were killed in Westminster one night by a land mine. It was terrifying. Aren’t Arabs terrified? Aren’t Iraqis terrified? Don’t Arab and Iraqi women weep when their children die? Does bombing strengthen their determination? What fools we are to live in a generation for which war is a computer game for our children and just an interesting little channel for news item.

Every Member of Parliament tonight who votes for the Government motion will be consciously and deliberately accepting responsibility for the deaths of innocent people if the war begins, as I fear it will. Now that’s for their decision to take. But this is a quite unique debate. In my parliamentary experience, where we are asked to share responsibility for a decision we won’t really be taking, with consequences for people who have no part to play in the brutality of the regime which we are dealing with.

And I finish with this: on 24 October 1945—the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup will remember—the United Nations charter was passed. And the words of that charter are etched into my mind and move me even as I think of them. “We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our life-time has caused untold suffering to mankind”. That was the pledge of that generation to this generation, and it would be the greatest betrayal of all if we voted to abandon the charter, and take unilateral action and pretend that we were doing it in the name of the international community. And I shall vote against the motion for the reasons that I have given the house.

Tony Benn, on 17 February 1998, Westminster.

Mare of Easttown (2021) IMDb A+

Watched with LD. Kate Winslet is an amazing actor and this miniseries is her best work yet. It is excellent everything: story, score, cinematography, dialogue, casting, acting. About economic depression, blue-collar America, forgotten America, the opioid epidemic caused by unchecked Capitalist greed, community, family, single parenthood, decline in religious participation, and the country’s abysmal attitude towards the treatment of mental illness.

That’s a lot of layers and facets and it’s all done exquisitely, gut-wrenchingly well.

Memorial Day Meat Fibers

I was rather dismayed to find out that there were no more episodes of “Grill Talk” with the leader of one of the worst companies on the planet1. I wonder if the PR team that thought it was a good idea to show the ‘casual and human’ side of their ethically bankrupt CEO are still with the company.

Here’s a condensed version by umami. It is one of my favorite creepy things on the internet ♥️

  1. Disclaimer: I’m on Instagram, have an Oculus, and cannot get my family off WhatsApp. I console myself by noting that I’m never on Facebook itself and that all these companies were acquisitions whose souls haven’t been polluted by Facebook (yet… and as if that matters because it doesn’t.) ↩︎

Buy Good Shit

Neil Panchal on substituting shitty, ineffective, and expensive consumer-grade items with their industrial and military grade equivalents. Emphases mine:

The average consumer is an idiot, so the bean counters keep milking them. Let’s stick RGB lights in what used to be the BMW, you know the ultimate driving machine. The entire consumer market is rotten. TV? It’s going to come with smart apps. Get one from NEC that’s meant for commercial use.

The average consumer wants this stuff. It sells. They want pizzaz over functionality and durability. They want shiny stuff in a bigger box.

The Onion is reality. I don’t think corporations/businesses are to blame. We’re not voting with our wallets and instead regressing into buying more fricking touch screens. The average consumer is extremely ill-informed, sometimes that’s due to the lack of time, but more often than not, it’s due diligence.

The industrial, military and commercial market doesn’t mess around. They want to purchase equipment that works reliably and performs to a specification. It’s professional and their livelihood depends on it. It sort of self filters the entire market. Shitty things drop off the radar due to poor sales.

“Overkill Objects for Everyday Life”

While I don’t think I’d serve guests beer in “ASTM Specification E960, Type II”-compliant beakers1, I will certainly try out things like this cleaner, for example.

  1. For I wouldn’t have any friends left if I did that. ↩︎

Chamunda from Odisha

This is one of the most seriously badass representations of Shakti I’ve seen in a while.

Chamunda from Odisha

The goddess is shown seated on obsessed boy (Corpse or Preta). The corpse is placed on a pedestal. The deity has a skeletal body, veins can be seen clearly. Its face is ferocious and wrathful; eyes are popping out with open mouth and frown on face. This may be influenced by the concept of Yogeshvari as third eye shown prominently over the forehead. The hair stands are erected (urdhvakesha) which look like fire flames (jvalakesha) (Rao 1989). The hairs are tied firmly with a snake and skull. On the right side of headgear a small hand in abhayamudra is depicted; same feature can be seen on left but it is an eroded condition. The goddess is wearing a skull garland, mundamala consist of 44 skulls and sarpakundalas in ears. A snake encircling around the neck. The deity is shown wearing a bajubandh made by the design of snake, Same ornaments are replicated at wrist and ankle. It is an artistic excellence where snake is shown holding its own tail in mouth which has formed a beautiful circle. The deity is shown wearing ornate mekhala. The parikara of the image is ornate depicting the elephant skin in low relief. The representations of pair of owls carrying garland is shown on portion of elephant’s ear on a left side. The depiction of peacock, bell and conch shell can be observed on a right side. The depiction of devotee is seen beside the right foot of the deity. The devotee is shown sitting in vajrasana has a prominent headgear with circular karnakundalas. It is holding a sword in its right arm shown wearing an ornate bajubandha and keyur. The devotee is in namaskarmudra, head is shown slightly raised upwards watching a divine appearance of the goddess. The five jackals are shown fetching flesh from corpse which is beneath of the deity. The small female attendant (11.5 cm) of the goddess is shown on a left side of the pedestal below the left foot of the corpse. This female attendance replicates the main goddess shown in skeletal form holding dagger and kapala in right and left hand respectively.

Unkule R, Joge G, Mushrif V, “Early Medieval Representation of Human Anatomy: A Case Study of Chamunda Stone Image from Dharamsala, Odisha”, Heritage: Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies in Archaeology 5 (2017): 191‐200

We Are Mark Wood

Reddit user and evident Mark Wood fan @kanyay-west put together this list of England’s All-Time Cricketing Best when asked “What’s your country’s all time ODI XI?” I’ve reproduced it here and formatted it for clarity. I laughed a lot to this and am a rather silly person 🙏♥️


  1. Mark Wood
  2. Mark Wood
  3. Mark Wood
  4. Mark Wood (Captain)
  5. Mark Wood
  6. Mark Wood
  7. Mark Wood (Wicket-Keeper)
  8. Mark Wood
  9. Mark Wood
  10. Mark Wood
  11. Mark Wood

Role Assignee
12th Man Mark Wood
On field umpires Mark Wood and Mark Wood
3rd umpire Mark Wood
Pitch Curator Mark Wood
Team Sponsor Mark Wood
Director of ECB Mark Wood
Head Coach of Men’s ODI team Mark Wood
Fielding Coach Mark Wood
Bowling Coach Mark Wood
Batting Coach Mark Wood
Spin bowling Coach Mark Wood
Physio Mark Wood
Team Analyst Mark Wood
Team Fitness Coach Mark Wood
Team Massuse Mark Wood
Team Bus Driver Mark Wood
Team Manager Mark Wood
Team Babysitter Mark Wood
Team Bat Crafter Mark Wood
Stadium Supporters Mark Wood x100,000
Stumps and Nails Material Marked Wood
Team Mark Wood Mark Wood

On Never Giving Up

Whenever I get discouraged and want to quit something, I remember the words of my then 3 year-old after she puked carrots all over the living room floor: “I’m gonna need more carrots.”

Jessica Valenti

Now write down “You’re gonna need more carrots” on a sticky and look at it from time to time ♥️

“Vertical Hanging Indent” is the One True Indentation Style

With the trailing comma and sorted properties/imports/arguments/whatever. Makes symbols easy to scan from top-to-bottom and looks like this in Python:

from constants import (
    EXIT_CODE_ARTICLE_ROOT_NOT_FOUND,
    EXIT_CODE_NOT_A_GIT_REPOSITORY,
    EXIT_CODE_NOT_AN_ABSOLUTE_PATH,
    MARKDOWN_EXTENSION_CONFIG,
    MARKDOWN_EXTENSIONS,
    MARKDOWN_FILE_EXTENSION,
    MAX_NUMBER_OF_WORKERS,
    PATHS_TO_REMOVE,
)

In which universe are these shittier alternatives considered readable or maintainable?

from constants import (MAX_CHARS_IN_SEARCH_RESULTS,
                       MAX_CHARS_SURROUNDING_SEARCH_HIGHLIGHT,
                       MAX_SEARCH_RESULTS, MIN_CHARS_IN_SEARCH_TERM,
                       SEARCH_INDEX_PATH)

or

from constants import (MAX_CHARS_IN_SEARCH_RESULTS,
                       MAX_CHARS_SURROUNDING_SEARCH_HIGHLIGHT,
                       MAX_SEARCH_RESULTS,
                       MIN_CHARS_IN_SEARCH_TERM,
                       SEARCH_INDEX_PATH)

or

from constants import (
    MAX_CHARS_IN_SEARCH_RESULTS, MAX_CHARS_SURROUNDING_SEARCH_HIGHLIGHT,
    MAX_SEARCH_RESULTS, MIN_CHARS_IN_SEARCH_TERM, SEARCH_INDEX_PATH)

That’s for Python and the modes are from the excellent isort’s docs. I am glad that Prettier does VHI by default (although you have to specify the trailing-comma and object properties are not sorted.)

See also: K&R is the One True Indentation Style

On Doing Things Right and Doing the Right Thing

There’s a difference between doing things right and doing the right thing. Doing the right thing is wisdom, and effectiveness. Doing things right is efficiency. The curious thing is the righter you do the wrong thing the wronger you become. If you’re doing the wrong thing and you make a mistake and correct it you become wronger. So it’s better to do the right thing wrong than the wrong thing right. Almost every major social problem that confronts us today is a consequence of trying to do the wrong things righter.

Peter Drucker

On Privatizing Gain and Socializing Loss

Though capitalism has had a longer lease of life than some of us would’ve predicted or that many of our ancestors of the socialist movement did predict or allow, it still produces the fax machine and the microchip and still able to lower its costs and still able to flatten its distribution curve very well. It’s central contradiction remains the same; It produces publicly, it produces socially, it conscripts and it mobilizes and educates whole new work forces of people, it has an enormous transforming liberating effect in that respect but it appropriates privately. The resources and the natural abilities are held in common, the earth belongs to us all. You can’t buy your child a place at a school with better ozone. You can’t pretend that the world is other than what it is which is one and human and natural and in common. Though capitalism must do that because it must make us all work until the point when the social product is to be shared. When suddenly the appropriation is private and suddenly Donald Trump outvotes any congressman you can name and anyone with a vote because of the ownership of capital and its that effect, that annexation of what we all do and must do — the influence of labor and intelligence and creativity on nature; the same air, the same water that we must breathe and drink. That means that we may not have long in which to make this critique of the system sing again and relevant again and incisive again.

Christopher Hitchens, Is Socialism Obsolete? (Recorded in Washington DC on October 11, 1989)

“Hypocrisy is the Vaseline of Political Intercourse”

Somoza called himself “president”. The Sandinistas called him a “dictator”. They called themselves “freedom fighters”. He called them “Commie terrorists”. So they kicked him out then they were in charge. Ronald Reagan called them “Commie oppressors” and he sent in the Contras, whom he called “freedom fighters” and they called “mercenary terrorists.”

So basically, what you’re called depends largely on who’s doing the talking because hypocrisy is the vaseline of political intercourse. They didn’t like what they saw, so they changed it to make it sound better. Just like in these personal ads. It sounds great; but it’s all lies.

Billy Connolly

We Ought to Live in a Society, not an Economy by BaldKnobber123 More Pasta

It’s important to state though, particularly since our current economic structure has pushed that “there is no such thing as society”.

That might sound insane, but it is not hyperbolic. In 1987, Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of the UK, said that “There is no such thing as society. There is [a] living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate.”

It was supposed to be on the people: they look to themselves, they help their family and their neighbor. Aid is individualized, then can be reciprocated. But, at the same time as “individuals” were supposed to be stepping up, Thatcher’s policies were stepping on them, especially the most vulnerable. This all making it harder to even look to oneself. Is it on the child to look to oneself? The child whose development was stunted by environmental pollution exacerbated by a history of systemic factors?

That has become one of Thatcher’s most famous quotes, this rejection of society in favor of individualism, a backbone of ideology that drove her move towards deregulating the British economy, towards privatizing the British services, towards turning the commons to the few, towards “tough to swallow” austerity measures. Meanwhile, today, Republicans meet with Biden to “compromise” by proposing relief 1/3 the size of the Democrats proposal (which is arguably lower than needed as is). The ever fading in, fading out, debt concerns rising again. Austerity does not work, but it is slow to die. An idea slow to die, but fast to kill.

Is it any surprise then that Thatcher turned on unions as well? They are not individuals, they are society, they are collectives. That she would work to disband the unions in the name of “economic growth”. A “growth” that she handed to the individuals - no not those individuals that needs it, but those at the top. Inequality took off in the 1980s under Thatcher, much like it did in the US under her buddy Ronald Reagan. No surprise. They both used economic theory crafted by the same bundle of Neoliberal economists: Friedman, Stigler, Hayek, Buchanan, etc: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masters_of_the_Universe_(book)

A week after Thatcher won, Milton Friedman sent a letter to her saying “The battle has now begun. We must win.” Friedman would be an adviser to both Thatcher and Reagan, pushing his economic view of “freeing the individual”. Out of the tax cuts, the deregulation, the privatization, there was to arise the “free” market. A market that was never free up to that point, and has not been free since. Just transformed. What “individual” was freed?

Since then, there has only been a growth in the Precariat - a social class formed by people suffering from precarity, which means existing without predictability or security, affecting material or psychological welfare.

The promise didn’t deliver, except to those that knew they would be made richer. They all knew the rich would get richer. That’s why the basis was “trickle down”. Sure they would get rich, but it would eventually come down. It didn’t. Even in Thatcher’s own terms of “saving the economy”, it did not deliver..

Now, we are dealing with the fallout of that, the precarity of a society that denies itself. The failings of which, whether in Brexit or in Trump, were made material.

“The Water’s So Great That It Won Awards”

Was discussing water quality in Des Moines with DL. Told her that our city couldn’t hold a candle to Ames, that their water was the “cleanest around.” Wanted to prove this but couldn’t find the 2014 viral hit “Hooray for Ames” video anywhere on the internet. GN, blessed datahoarder that he is, luckily had a copy ❤️🚰

Whatever. 🤘 Go Hawks 🤘

On Consciousness

It is remarkable that mind enters into our awareness of nature on two separate levels. At the highest level, the level of human consciousness, our minds are somehow directly aware of the complicated flow of electrical and chemical patterns in our brains. At the lowest level, the level of single atoms and electrons, the mind of an observer is again involved in the description of events. Between lies the level of molecular biology, where mechanical models are adequate and mind appears to be irrelevant. But I, as a physicist, cannot help suspecting that there is a logical connection between the two ways in which mind appears in my universe. I cannot help thinking that our awareness of our own brains has something to do with the process which we call ‘observation’ in atomic physics. That is to say, I think our consciousness is not just a passive epiphenomenon carried along by the chemical events in our brains, but is an active agent forcing the molecular complexes to make choices between one quantum state and another. In other words, mind is already inherent in every electron, and the processes of human consciousness differ only in degree but not in kind from the processes of choice between quantum states which we call ‘chance’ when they are made by electrons.

Freeman Dyson

Boncuk the Doggy

Doggy

A devoted dog has spent days waiting outside a hospital in Turkey where her sick owner was being treated.

The pet, Boncuk, which means bead, followed the ambulance that transported her owner, Cemal Senturk, to hospital in the Black Sea city of Trabzon on 14 January. She then made daily visits to the facility, the private news agency DHA reported.

Senturk’s daughter, Aynur Egeli, said she would take Boncuk home but the dog would run back to the hospital.

A hospital security guard, Muhammet Akdeniz, told DHA: “She comes every day around 9am and waits until nightfall. She doesn’t go in.

“When the door opens she pokes her head inside.”

On Wednesday, Boncuk was finally reunited with Senturk when he was pushed outside in a wheelchair. “She’s very used to me. And I miss her too, constantly,” he told DHA.

Senturk was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday and returned home with Boncuk.

Patient dog waits for days outside hospital”, The Guardian

We do not deserve dogs.

A Malarkey-Free America

Here’s to a Malarkey-Free America 🇺🇸🍦😎 Things won’t magically start getting better. He isn’t perfect. But he certainly is a decent human being, if only because he isn’t malevolent narcissism incarnate.

And unless your career depends on democratic dysfunction and systemic ineptitude, cruelty, and dishonesty that sow and sustain rancour1, you at least ought to be relieved you won’t have to say “God what the fuck did he do now?” with the exhausting and dismaying frequency you did over the past four (THOUSAND) years. That’s something.

🙏♥️🇺🇸

Biden

  1. Special 📣 to some #techbros and their engagement targets 💸 ↩︎

Bernie Being Wholesomely On-Brand at the Inauguration

Wait, is Bernie is wearing the same jacket from his meme at the inauguration?

@thealanjohnson

Bernie at the Inauguration
Bernie at the Inauguration


The pose. The mittens. The social distance.

@vulture

Bernie dressed like the inauguration is on his to do list today but ain’t his whole day.

@MsReeezy

Bernie at the Inauguration


And about those mittens:

Bernie’s mittens are made by Jen Ellis, a teacher from Essex Junction, Vt. She gave them to him 2+ years ago and was surprised when he began wearing them on the campaign trail. They are made from repurposed wool sweaters and lined with fleece made from recycled plastic bottles.

@rubycramer

A little more backstory:

Jen Ellis, a teacher from Essex Junction, made the mittens and gave them to Sanders. She used repurposed wool from sweaters and lined them with fleece. She generally sells mittens at craft fairs or gives them to friends. Sanders’ daughter-in-law, Liza Driscoll, runs Ellis’ daughter’s daycare, so one holiday season, Ellis made mittens for all the teachers — plus Bernie.

“I just put in a little note that was like, ‘I believe in you, I’ve always believed in you and I hope you run again,’” Ellis said. “And now he is running again, and he apparently is wearing the mittens that I made for him!”

Sasha Goldstein, Those Mittens Bernie Sanders Wears Campaigning Are Made in Vermont

And finally (via KP):

Bernie

Update

This is the best one I’ve seen so far (via JK):

There’s also a collection (via CK) and another called “The approximate size of various ocean animals with a Bernie for scale” (via Deepu), and a Zillow listing.

The Narcissist’s Prayer

That didn’t happen.

And if it did
It wasn’t that bad.

And if it was
That’s not a big deal.

And if it is
That’s not my fault.

And if it was
I didn’t mean it.

And if I did
You deserved it.

Unknown

On What to Live For

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a great ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.

I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy - ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness–that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what–at last–I have found.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.

This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.

The Prologue to Bertrand Russell’s Autobiography

“I have to do this.”

I made a bet at work that involved me eating my Crocs (if I lost, of course), prompting my co-worker to send me this story about Eric Taylor, a “former Magic: The Gathering player and highly regarded Magic columnist, especially during the earlier days of the game” (MTG Wiki), who made a similarly hasty bet and honored its terms:

He went so far as to guarantee Kai couldn’t emerge victorious again, promising to eat his hat should he be proven wrong.

[…] By now a sizeable crowd had gathered to watch the spectacle. EDT began by biting into the rim, but couldn’t tear the material with his teeth. In a quick burst of speed, he reached into his bag, and pulled out a full bottle of Heinz Ketchup and a pair of scissors. Deftly slicing a swatch of material from the top of the hat, he masticated on the felt but found the taste to be offensive.

“This is terrible!”, he exclaimed, unleashing a destructive stream of ketchup all over the table and his headwear. He resumed devouring his hat, making chewing faces akin to Popeye the Sailor eating rotten spinach.

[…] Around the third mouthful, EDT began to wish he had a nacho hat. “This is terrible”, he screamed, banging his jaw against the table to force the hat down. This attracted the attention of Rob Dougherty, from the Boston. “You’re crazy!”, he admonished in the typical Your Move Games tone. Eric just shook his head, gritted his teeth, and said, “I have to do this.

Ben Bleiweiss, ERIC TAYLOR EATS HIS HAT! (emphasis mine)

THIS is America

Lord of our lives and sovereign of our beloved nation, we deplore the desecration of the United States Capitol building, the shedding of innocent blood, the loss of life, and the quagmire of dysfunction that threaten our democracy.

These tragedies have reminded us that words matter and that the power of life and death is in the tongue. We have been warned that eternal vigilance continues to be freedom’s price.

Lord, you have helped us remember that we need to see in each other a common humanity that reflects your image.

You have strengthened our resolve to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies domestic as well as foreign.

Use us to bring healing and unity to our hurting and divided nation and world. Thank you for what you have blessed our lawmakers to accomplish in spite of threats to liberty.

Bless and keep us. Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to do your will and guide our feet on the path of peace. And God bless America. We pray in your sovereign name, amen.

Dr. Barry Black, Chaplain of the Senate, CBS News (emphases mine)

And please get off this gentleman’s lawn and out of his city.

Ghost Structures

This is such a wonderful idea. Stand opposite the glass and you’d know what Kruševac Fortress in Serbia looked like in its heyday:

Kruševac Fortress

Franklin Court in Pennsylvania is another example of how one could illustrate architectural history.

Franklin Court was the site of the handsome brick home of Benjamin Franklin, who lived here while serving in the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention. Franklin died here in 1790; the house was torn down 22 years later. Today the site contains a steel “ghost structure” outlining the spot where Franklin’s house stood and features the Benjamin Franklin Museum […]

National Park Service

Franklin Court

The Most Perfectly Timed Shot in the History of Television

Fat claim, but I cannot imagine anything more badass than this.

Here’s the full video. The presenter’s James Burke. From the YouTube comments:

I remember seeing an interview with him and the person asking him the question asked him “How was that shot perfectly timed?” He said “I just saw the count down clock and we waited until minus 10 seconds to start recording”.

And there was an assistant doing the count down with his fingers that Burke could se [sic] so Burke could time it perfectly.

On America Right Now

I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time – when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…

The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.

and

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.

Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

Bas Uterwijk’s ‘Post Photography’

Bas Uterwijk’s AI portraits1 look just like photo shots, but are largely generated by an algorithm. He uploads drawings and paintings, often images of people who lived before the invention of photography. With the help of a neural network he creates realistic interpretations that appear as if they were made in a photographic process.

Each work is a quest for the visual character of the person portrayed. By combining art-historical and archaeological elements, Uterwijk achieves a layered and fascinating result.

Website (Google translation of Dutch text)

First came by this remarkable generation of the DOOM guy’s face:

Bas Uterwijk - Doom Guy

And here are Alexander, Caesar, Zuck, and Jesus.

Bas Uterwijk - Alexander

Bas Uterwijk - Caesar

Bas Uterwijk - Zuck

Bas Uterwijk - Jesus

More of his work on Instagram.

  1. Looks like he uses ArtBreeder with StyleGAN2. ↩︎

Corpsing

Corpsing is British theatrical slang for unintentionally laughing during a non-humorous performance or when a role in a humorous performance is intended to be played “straight”. In North American TV and film, this is considered a variation of breaking character or simply “breaking”.

Wikipedia

Here’s some further examination by Ricky Gervais and crew. Features Sir Ian McKellen and Daniel Radcliffe.

Supply-Side Jesus

Saith The Lord to Socialist Democrats:

ha, nice try. healthcare is about consumer choice. get a job and enroll in a market-based plan.

no peter i won’t help you that will only create dependency pick yourself up by your own sandal straps it’s called personal responsibility.

i would love to give you this, really i would but the richest israelites actually need this more so they can stimulate economic growth!

sorry, feeding you would be a waste of resources. i’m just not seeing results.

Unknown

Schrodinger’s Douchebag

One who makes douchebag statements, particularly sexist, racist or otherwise bigoted ones, then decides whether they were “just joking” or dead serious based on whether other people in the group approve or not.

Urban Dictionary

They’re always “just joking.” About pandemic response, about requesting foreign interference in their country’s elections, injecting disinfectants to treat disease, asking for more police brutality, mocking the disabled, treason, dangling pardons like a mob boss, asking foreign governments to investigate political opponents, calling onself “The Chosen One”, calling a former president the founder of a terrorist organization, or condoning violence against journalists. Just look at your face, bro 😆

And then there’s Schrodinger’s Asshole:

A person who decides whether or not they’re full of shit by the reactions of those around them.

Via Mark.

“Where are the Turks?”

Bilal Göregen (YouTube, Instagram) is the Turkish street musician in my favorite video of 2020.

He sounds like a very positive, gracious, and sweet human being on this KnowYourMeme interview1 which features this delightful nugget (emphasis mine):

Q: How has the response been from your previous fans and followers that were around before the meme? Also, have you received any interesting or wholesome messages from fans since your meme went viral that you can share with us?

A: When I read the comments section after my video went viral, I see that my Turkish followers still do not understand the meme, and they ask questions like, “Is the channel stolen? Why are there so many foreigners here? Where are the Turks?

Assorted Bilal things: Here’s a ten-hour version of his viral hit. And here’s him making a lot of Indian people very happy. And lest I forget, this is the original Finnish folk song he’s covering:

  1. Which TIL has an editorials section… ↩︎

Sleeping Octopus

You could almost just narrate the body changes and narrate the dream. So here she’s asleep. She sees a crab and her color starts to change a little bit then she turns all dark. Octopuses will do that when they leave the bottom. This is a camouflage like she’s just subdued a crab and now she’s going to sit there and eat it and she doesn’t want anyone to notice her. It’s a very unusual behavior to see the color come and go on her mantle like that. I mean, just to be able to see all the different color patterns just flashing one after another… you don’t usually see that when an animal’s sleeping which really is fascinating.

But yeah if she’s dreaming that’s the dream.

David Scheel

Fred Rogers and his Children

Mentioned this to NB. Saving here for later.

On this event:

Yes, at seventy years old and 143 pounds, Mister Rogers still fights, and indeed, early this year, when television handed him its highest honor, he responded by telling television—gently, of course—to just shut up for once, and television listened. He had already won his third Daytime Emmy, and now he went onstage to accept Emmy’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and there, in front of all the soap-opera stars and talk-show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone, “All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are….Ten seconds of silence.” And then he lifted his wrist, and looked at the audience, and looked at his watch, and said softly, “I’ll watch the time,” and there was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn’t kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked…and so they did. One second, two seconds, three seconds…and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier, and Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said[^another], “May God be with you” to all his vanquished children.

Tom Junod, “Can You Say… Hero?12

I often wonder what people like him would think of our times.

  1. This is the article the movie is based on. ↩︎

  2. Cached. “Yes, at seventy years old and 143 pounds, Mister Rogers still fights, and indeed, early this year, when television handed him its highest honor, he responded by telling television—gently, of course—to just shut up for once, and television listened.” ↩︎

Rashomon (1950) IMDb A+

Saw this after about 18 years. Some assorted notes: Thought I heard Boléro. Every frame is a fucking painting. Just so wonderful: sunshine through the leaves and at the interrogation, characters walking into and out of the audience, the gate’s history and state of decay, and of course Tajomaru’s sword when he’s under the tree 🤣 No idea what his constant fly-swatting signified. Faces sometimes resembled those in Ukiyo-e paintings (like this one). Save for the hapless priest, every character is demon and human. Storytelling: tension between whether it is to be regarded a fable or a real account. ‘The lies we tell ourselves don’t matter as long as they’re in the service of mending and preserving our humanity.’ Professor David Thorburn breaks down the movie.

“The Fountain” by Darren Aronofsky and Kent Williams

I love the movie and was surprised to find out that there was a graphic novel that preceded it. A work of original and breathtaking beauty like the movie and its soundtrack. Kent Williams’ style and vision took a bit to get used to. Wonderful stuff.

Aronofsky notes in the book that the movie almost didn’t happen due to budgetary concerns, and that he reworked it to make it a “lean, mean indie film.” I wonder if that explains the beautiful macrophotography they used for SFX.

Here it is on ThriftBooks.

Cover of "The Fountain" by Aronofsky and Kent Williams

On Good Commit Messages

On the developer side, what I hope people are doing is trying to make, not just good code, but these days we’ve been very good about having explanations for the code. So commit messages to me are almost as important as the code change itself. Sometimes the code change is so obvious that no message is really required, but that is very very rare. And so one of the things I hope developers are thinking about, the people who are actually writing code, is not just the code itself, but explaining why the code does something, and why some change was needed. Because that then in turn helps the managerial side of the equation, where if you can explain your code to me, I will trust the code.

A lot of open source in general is about communication. And part of it is the commit messages, part of it is just the email going back and forth. Communicating what you’re trying to do or communicating why something doesn’t work for you is really important.

– Linus Torvalds, in conversation with Dirk Hohndel (emphasis mine)

This is pretty much what mine look like. For my personal stuff, I get so lazy, I use a list of developer excuses to generate a commit log that looks like this 🤦‍♀️

My shitty, lazy commit log

I hereby swear to read this document and make writing good commit messages a habit ✋🚀

Always be leveraging

On tech culture’s obsession with quantifying and optimizing every single moment of one’s existence1:

I hate this framing. It is pressuring, dehumanizing as it contextualizes human endeavor in transactional terms, usually in a market.

I know this goes against the ethos of high-tech, but humans don’t have an imperative to be as productive as possible. They don’t have to make the most use of their time. They don’t have to get as efficient as they could. These are metrics that work fine for our machines, our code. But humans are not machines. Sure, we shepherd the machines, and sure sometimes we are in rivalrous dynamics that increasing efficiency has a payoff, but it is never the goal in itself.

The real “currency” we have, if we are using the term in the sense of denoting essentialness, is our humanness, our mortality, our psyches, our connection with other people and seemingly mundane but meaningful parts of our lives. I mean, look how many of us started baking their breads and enjoying it. It is not a wise use of the “currency of time”, but it is part of life very well spent, as our internal reward mechanisms have been telling us.

@acituan on HackerNews, commenting on this article

  1. With corroboration via sophomoric interpretations of stoicism and objectivism, all aimed at summoning this latent, dispassionate übermensch whose sole purpose is to “leverage” and deliver value. ↩︎

The Song of Seikilos

This is the "the oldest surviving complete musical composition, including musical notation, from anywhere in the world" and dates from “either from the 1st or the 2nd century AD.” It was found engraved on a tombstone and was “dedicated by Seikilos to Euterpe, who was possibly his wife.” (Wikipedia)

While you live, shine
have no grief at all
life exists only for a short while
and Time demands his due

😭 💗

There Will Be Blood (2007) IMDb A+

Finally saw this with PLG. Daniel Day-Lewis’ best performance IMO. Astounding, really.

Mr. Day-Lewis’s outsize performance, with its footnote references to Huston and strange, contorted Kabuki-like grimaces, occasionally breaks the skin of the film’s surface like a dangerous undertow. The actor seems to have invaded Plainview’s every atom, filling an otherwise empty vessel with so much rage and purpose you wait for him to blow. It’s a thrilling performance, among the greatest I’ve seen, purposefully alienating and brilliantly located at the juncture between cinematic realism and theatrical spectacle.

– Manohla Dargis “An American Primitive, Forged in a Crucible of Blood and Oil

Paul Dano is great as an ageless vampire-pastor 😑 The excellent soundtrack was written by Jonny Greenwood (!) and features works by Arvo Pärt and Brahms.

State, Coupling, Complexity, & Code

Dependencies (coupling) is an important concern to address, but it’s only 1 of 4 criteria that I consider and it’s not the most important one. I try to optimize my code around reducing state, coupling, complexity and code, in that order.

I’m willing to add increased coupling if it makes my code more stateless.

I’m willing to make it more complex if it reduces coupling.

And I’m willing to duplicate code if it makes the code less complex.

Only if it doesn’t increase state, coupling or complexity do I dedup code.

The reason I put stateless code as the highest priority is it’s the easiest to reason about. Stateless logic functions the same whether run normally, in parallel or distributed. It’s the easiest to test, since it requires very little setup code. And it’s the easiest to scale up, since you just run another copy of it. Once you introduce state, your life gets significantly harder.

I think the reason that novice programmers optimize around code reduction is that it’s the easiest of the 4 to spot. The other 3 are much more subtle and subjective and so will require greater experience to spot. But learning those priorities, in that order, has made me a significantly better developer.

crun1r on HackerNews (emphases and formatting mine.)

Iowa Is Awesome by @CockroachED on Reddit More Pasta

I am so proud to be an Iowan. Iowa is fucking awesome, and here is why:

  1. In 1838, before we were even a state, our Supreme Court upheld the law that in Iowa escaped slaves couldn’t be forced to return to a slave state. The same year it became law an unmarried women could own property. In most of the rest of the US either category having any rights was laughable and were considered property themselves.

  2. We were involved in a war with Missouri. The Honey War! was a border dispute that we Iowans may not have started but we sure as hell won.

  3. We were the second state in the union to allow interracial marriage (1851) almost a century before it became legal in the rest of the US.

  4. In 1851 Iowa legislated that, “the property of married women did not vest in her husband, nor did the husband control his wife’s property”.

  5. In 1857 University of Iowa, my alma mater (Go Hawkeyes!!), was the first state university to have a degree program open for women.

  6. For the American Civil War, Iowa contributed more men than any other state per capita. This despite the fact not a single major battle occurred on Iowan soil.

  7. Iowa outlawed segregated schools in 1868. We were the second state in the union to do it and we did it close to a century before the rest of America.

  8. Iowa elected the first women to public office in the united states, in 1869. That same year we were the first state to allow women to join the bar and we had the first female US attorney. This paved the way for Iowa to have the first female practice law before a federal court.

  9. Iowa was passing civil rights act, prohibiting discrimination in public, all the way back in 1884.

  10. Iowa was the third state (tip of the hat to Wyoming and Colorado for beating us to the punch)to give women the right to vote in 1894.

  11. Iowa has the first mosque in the US and the only exclusively Muslim cemetery.

  12. In 1953, amongst all the states of the union, only Iowa defeated a McCarthyistic legislative measure to impose a teacher’s loyalty oath.

  13. Iowa was the first to have an openly gay man run for a seat in Congress. And the guy was a Republican!

  14. In 2007, Iowa was the second state to allow full marriage to gays and lesbians.

  15. In Iowa we protect our children from from bullying due to sexual orientation AND gender identity.

tl;dr: And for the two part cherry on the cake…

16) 2008 Democrat Caucuses, Iowa became the first in the nation to select Barack Obama as their choice for president. This when almost all political pundits thought he wasn’t a viable candidate. For some perspective on the Iowa is 95% white. You have to go to the North Pole to find a whiter place.

17) Norman Borlaug is an Iowa native son, born and bred. Who is Norman Borlaug you ask yourself? Look him up! He was the greatest man who ever lived, a man who saved a billion lives (No hyperbole).

QED Bitches.

Nine Pints of The Law

by Lawson Wood (more work here.)

I first saw this when I was about 10 and tried my first jigsaw puzzle with my little sister. We were quite mesmerized by the painting. We found the puzzle too difficult and lost the pieces. 26 years later, I found a complete puzzle on eBay and can’t wait to put it together with her 😃

Googling revealed that a certain David Lewis recreated the painting with real officers of the Royston Police Station in Hertfordshire in 1990.


Image via Herts Past Policing

Process and Tooling

I thought using loops was cheating, so I programmed my own using samples. I then thought using samples was cheating, so I recorded real drums. I then thought that programming it was cheating, so I learned to play drums for real. I then thought using bought drums was cheating, so I learned to make my own. I then thought using premade skins was cheating, so I killed a goat and skinned it. I then thought that that was cheating too, so I grew my own goat from a baby goat. I also think that is cheating, but I’m not sure where to go from here. I haven’t made any music lately, what with the goat farming and all.

I’ve made this mistake all too often, especially when trying to learn something new.

Things that quote kinda reminds me of:

Hubble Ultra-Deep Field

One of my favorite things in the world.

Located southwest of Orion in the southern-hemisphere constellation Fornax, the rectangular image is 2.4 arcminutes to an edge, or 3.4 arcminutes diagonally. This is approximately one tenth of the angular diameter of a full moon viewed from Earth (which is less than 34 arcminutes), smaller than 1 sq. mm piece of paper held at 1 meter away, and equal to roughly one twenty-six-millionth of the total area of the sky. The image is oriented so that the upper left corner points toward north (−46.4°) on the celestial sphere.

Wikipedia (emphasis mine)

Here’s all that in video form

The best screensaver in the world using red-shift data

And a very high-resolution image (> 60MB). Wallpapers are available.

Our shit is so, so, so tiny.

There are over 100 billion galaxies in the universe. Simply saying that number doesn’t really mean much to us because it doesn’t provide any context. Our brains have no way to accurately put that in any meaningful perspective. When we look at this image, however, and think about the context of how it was made and really understand what it means, we instantly gain the perspective and cannot help, but be forever changed by it.

We pointed the most powerful telescope ever built by human beings at absolutely nothing for no other reason than because we were curious, and discovered that we occupy a very tiny place in the heavens.

Deep Astronomy

Not so sure about “instantly” gaining perspective but the rest about wonder and curiosity and our insignificant place the heavens still stand.

Data, Data, Data

Linus Torvalds on git

I’d also like to point out that unlike every single horror I’ve ever witnessed when looking closer at SCM products, git actually has a simple design, with stable and reasonably well-documented data structures. In fact, I’m a huge proponent of designing your code around the data, rather than the other way around, and I think it’s one of the reasons git has been fairly successful

[. . .]

I will, in fact, claim that the difference between a bad programmer and a good one is whether he considers his code or his data structures more important. Bad programmers worry about the code. Good programmers worry about data structures and their relationships.

Because God Can See

When I was little — and by the way, I was little once — my father told me a story about an 18th century watchmaker. And what this guy had done: he used to produce these fabulously beautiful watches.

And one day, one of his customers came into his workshop and asked him to clean the watch that he’d bought. And the guy took it apart, and one of the things he pulled out was one of the balance wheels. And as he did so, his customer noticed that on the back side of the balance wheel was an engraving, were words.

And he said to the guy, “Why have you put stuff on the back that no one will ever see?” And the watchmaker turned around and said, “God can see it.”

Now I’m not in the least bit religious, neither was my father, but at that point, I noticed something happening here. I felt something in this plexus of blood vessels and nerves, and there must be some muscles in there as well somewhere, I guess. But I felt something. And it was a physiological response. And from that point on, from my age at the time, I began to think of things in a different way. And as I took on my career as a designer, I began to ask myself the simple question: Do we actually think beauty, or do we feel it?

Richard Seymour, How Beauty Feels

I want it to be as beautiful as possible, even if it’s inside the box. A great carpenter isn’t going to use lousy wood for the back of a cabinet, even though nobody’s going to see it. When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.

Steve Jobs

Do quite a bit more, good and invisible things, than required for the MVP or for the bloody “sprint.” You will then smile a lot and sleep quite well indeed. Excellence is a habit. It is yours. Nobody steals this from you.

Saved here via Stephanie Harcrow’s post.

Love, Knowledge, and Compassion

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a great ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.

I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy – ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness – that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what – at last – I have found.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a hated burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.

This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.

– Bertrand Russell, What I Have Lived For

Baby Chromatophores

I cannot get over how maddeningly cute this is. Reddit user pendragwen’s comment makes it even better:

Awww! But look at how they test out their chromatophores first thing after hatching! It’s speculated that color-changing is how they communicate and show emotion. Almost like a little joyful stretch and squeal. “Yay! I’m alive!”

Simpler Gmail

Michael Leggett, lead designer of Gmail from 2008-2012

“It’s like Lucky Charms got spewed all over the screen,” he says to me, as he scrolls through his inbox. It’s true. Folders, contacts, Google apps like Docs and Drive–and at least half a dozen notifications–all clutter Gmail at any given moment. And of course, there’s that massive Gmail logo that sits in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Just in case you forgot that you just typed “gmail.com” into your browser bar three seconds ago. “Go look at any desktop app and tell me how many have a huge fucking logo in the top left,” rants Leggett. “C’mon. It’s pure ego, pure bullshit. Drop the logo. Give me a break.”

Fast Company, “The former lead designer of Gmail just fixed Gmail on his own”

So he made this plugin for Chrome and Firefox that cuts out all the terrible visual noise of Gmail. I’m never uninstalling this one.

And while I’m on the subject, who signed off on this disaster?

Because we all know that the only way to attact attention to a UI element is to adorn it with a big blue goddamn fucking tumor.

Chernobyl (2019) IMDb A+

On Post-Truth

What is the cost of lies? It’s not that we’ll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all. What can we do then? What else is left but to abandon even the hope of truth and content ourselves instead with stories? In these stories, it doesn’t matter who the heroes are.

But it is still there. Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later, that debt is paid. That is how an RBMK reactor core explodes. Lies.

To be a scientist is to be naive. We are so focused on our search for truth, we fail to consider how few actually want us to find it. But it is always there, whether we see it or not, whether we choose to or not. The truth doesn’t care about our needs or wants. It doesn’t care about our governments, our ideologies, our religions. It will lie in wait for all time. And this, at last, is the gift of Chernobyl.

Where I once would fear the cost of truth, now I only ask: What is the cost of lies?

And: What would happen were you to ingest a grain-sized piece of the Reactor No. 4’s core today:

If you ate this fuel chip, not much of it would likely dissolve in your gut; the matrix is UO2, and U(IV) Oxide is poorly soluble even in the acid environment of the gut. But let’s say it did dissolve completely and got metabolized. You’d be committing yourself to about 20 mSv (2 rem) from Cs-137, and probably a similar dose from Sr-90. Basically, if you were a radiation worker in the USA, your annual dose limit of 5 rem would be met. In many countries and facilities, you would exceed annual allowances.

Penny Flip Tip

Whenever you’re called on to make up your mind,

   and you’re hampered by not having any,

the best way to solve the dilemma, you’ll find,

   is simply by spinning a penny.

No—not so that chance shall decide the affair

   while you’re passively standing there moping;

but the moment the penny is up in the air,

   you suddenly know what you’re hoping.

Persi Diaconis, The Problem of Thinking Too
Much

Mama

For My Mother by May Sarton

Once more
I summon you
Out of the past
With poignant love,
You who nourished the poet
And the lover.
I see your gray eyes
Looking out to sea
In those Rockport summers,
Keeping a distance
Within the closeness
Which was never intrusive
Opening out
Into the world.
And what I remember
Is how we laughed
Till we cried
Swept into merriment
Especially when times were hard.
And what I remember
Is how you never stopped creating
And how people sent me
Dresses you had designed
With rich embroidery
In brilliant colors
Because they could not bear
To give them away
Or cast them aside.
I summon you now
Not to think of
The ceaseless battle
With pain and ill health,
The frailty and the anguish.
No, today I remember
The creator,
The lion-hearted.

💗

via Catherine

Timelapse of the Future

Best thing I’ve seen this year. About as spiritual as it gets.

After an unimaginable length of time, even the black holes will have evaporated and the universe will be nothing but a sea of photons, gradually tending towards the same temperature, as the expansion of the universe cools them towards absolute zero. Once the very last remnants of the very last stars are finally decayed away to nothing and everything reaches the same temperature, the story of the universe finally comes to an end. For the first time in its life, the Universe will be permanent and unchanging. Entropy finally stops increasing because the cosmos cannot get any more disordered.

Nothing happens. And it keeps not happening forever.

😢 how beautiful is that? And black holes take a long, long time to evaporate

A black hole with the mass of the sun will last a wizened 1067 years. Considering that the current age of our universe is a paltry 13.8 times 109 years, that’s a good amount of time. But if you happened to turn the Eiffel Tower into a black hole, it would evaporate in only about a day.

And that’s after this happens

It will take hundreds of trillions of years for the first stellar remnant to cool completely, fading from a white dwarf through red, infrared and all the way down to a true black dwarf. By that point, the Universe will hardly be forming any new stars at all, and space will be mostly black.

BLN and I spoke about how we simply have no good strategy to attempt a comprehension of “hundreds of trillions” of years.

Rōshi Shopsin

A few favorites from a selection of Kenny Shopsin’s infinite wisdom. He ran this diner (which doesn’t really sound like one…)

On ambition

It’s just an initiation into the idea until the abilities to appreciate life forthe moments in a row starts to make you a deeper and more fulfilled person, and the energy you put towards pursuing the goals … it starts out obsessive.

The point of goals

My stupid goal: I’ve risen above that and I don’t need a goal, I’m just stupid. I just float free, knowing that after you’ve pursued a stupid goal for a long time, even if you understand it’s not important, you understand it’s a device to help you overcome the absurdity of life.

Social Media (article lists this as “on getting involved”)

[One] modern phenomenon is that people have begun to savor their spectatorship rather than being involved. They don’t want to be a part of it, or if they do, they don’t know how. They construct an artificial wall between reality and themselves — and they don’t cross it.

And on life

The only way to not be crushed by the stupidity of life is to pursue something energetically and gain as much satisfaction as you can before it gets stupid — and just ignore the fact that it’s stupid. The whole thing is shitty. You’re gonna fucking die.

Paleoart

All Yesterdays is an exploration of things we know we will never know about “dinosaurs and prehistoric animals” . Jonathan Wojcik at bogleech.com has an excellent review of the book. Of particular interest: We know little-to-nothing about the creatures’ anatomies and morphologies because of missing soft tissue data. Here are paleoartists’ recreations of a cow and a swan:


Looked up a sperm whale’s skeleton and can’t imagine how lacking a recreation would be:

Source

This article discusses the history and current state of paleoart. And this post is the ultimate TL;DR on the subject

As C.M. Kosemen explains throughout All Yesterdays, we really can’t ever know how much fat and other soft tissues contributed to the overall shape of dinosaurs since that’s the first thing to rot and shrivel tight against their bones and like even a sperm whale has a little skinny skeleton.

so like


how would we know?

Letters to a Computer

The Des Moines Register on how to send them email in (I’m guessing) the late 80s/early 90s.

An article on how Baud Rate isn’t the same as Bit Rate

Baud rate refers to the number of signal or symbol changes that occur per second. A symbol is one of several voltage, frequency, or phase changes. NRZ binary has two symbols, one for each bit 0 or 1, that represent voltage levels. In this case, the baud or symbol rate is the same as the bit rate.

– Lou Frenzel, Electronic Design, “What’s The Difference Between Bit Rate And Baud Rate?

Via /r/bitcoin

Unposted FTW

'Posting’ in the pen world refers to what you do with your pen cap while you write [. . .] when you put the cap on the back of the pen while you write, regardless of whether it pushes on or screws on with threads.

and

[. . .] what do you do with the cap? Do you put it on the desk? Hold it in your hand? Both of these would be ‘non-posting’ or ‘unposted’ writing methods.

The Goulet Pen Co.

I write unposted, have done so my whole life, and think that people who post are weird, pitiable, and simply wrong.

Prune

Three years late but what an absolutely beautiful game!

“One of my main goals when designing ‘Prune’ was to respect the player’s intelligence and to respect their time, whether that player is 4 or 74,” McDonald said. “So much of the mobile game market just does not do this incredibly simple thing of respecting their players as actual human beings whose time is precious.”

– Business Week, “How a half-fallen tree inspired the hottest iPhone game right now

Screenshot from "Prune"
Screenshot from "Prune"
Screenshot from "Prune"
Screenshot from "Prune"
Screenshot from "Prune"
Screenshot from "Prune"
Screenshot from "Prune"

Racism and Astrology

Via co-worker DH. Dara Ó Briain on how Racism is better than Astrology:

Racism is one of the worst social evils they can imagine. “How dare you do that?” they say. "How dare you ascribe to me personality traits? You don’t even know me, but you tell me that you know me, and you know these things about me, and you say I share these personality traits with this huge group of people, and I don’t know them, you don’t know them, and you say not only do we have the same character traits, but we have some sort of common history and some common destiny, and you make all of these horrible presumptions on the back of what? On the back of a fluke of birth. How dare you do that?

What? Ooh, Capricorn.

Efficient Languages

Ross Pomeroy for RealClearScience, “What’s the Most Efficient Language?

[. . .] travel the world and record at least a dozen speakers of every language reading those passages aloud at their normal cadence. Count the overall number of syllables used for each passage and measure the time it took subjects to read their passage. Divide the syllable count by time to get the number of syllables spoken per second. Next, come up with some value for how much meaning is packed into each syllable, which will give you an average information density per syllable. Finally, use those values to derive an “information rate.”

and

English came out on top, but not by much. Most of languages grouped pretty closely together, however, Japanese lagged behind the rest. Interestingly, the languages that conveyed the least amount of information per syllable, like Spanish, Japanese, and French, tended to be spoken at a faster rate. This allowed these languages (apart from Japanese) to deliver a similar amount of information compared to more meaning-dense languages like Mandarin and English.

Jonathan McWhorter for The Atlantic, “The World’s Most Efficient Languages

When a language seems especially telegraphic, usually another factor has come into play: Enough adults learned it at a certain stage in its history that, given the difficulty of learning a new language after childhood, it became a kind of stripped-down “schoolroom” version of itself.

In contrast, one cannot help suspecting that not too many adults have been tackling the likes of sǝq’ayǝƛaaɣwǝaɣhaś. Kabardian has been left to its own devices, and my, has it hoarded a lot of them. This is, as languages go, normal, even if Kabardian is rather extreme. By contrast, only a few languages have been taken up as vehicles of empire and imposed on millions of unsuspecting and underqualified adults. Long-dominant Mandarin, then, is less “busy” than Cantonese and Taiwanese, which have been imposed on fewer people. English came out the way it did because Vikings, who in the first millennium forged something of an empire of their own in northern and western Europe, imposed themselves on the Old English of the people they invaded and, as it were, mowed it. German, meanwhile, stayed “normal.”

In Ithkuil, “Tram-mļöi hhâsmařpţuktôx” translates to “On the contrary, I think it may turn out that this rugged mountain range trails off at some point.” 😐

I think we all know John McWhorter is not to be relied upon when he ventures away from his bailiwick of creole languages, which he is frequently called on to do since he has become the go-to linguistics popularizer, but he does have a pleasant prose style and it’s always fun to argue about his overgeneralizations and sometimes wacky obiter dicta (like the one about the Awful Russian Language).

– Steve Dodson, Language Hat, Efficient Languages

Sans Bullshit Sans

Roel Nieskens “leveraged the synergy of ligatures” to create a free typeface called Sans Bullshit Sans.

It turns this

The value proposition of our agile mindset and scrum methodology is to enable the emergence of disruptive, convergent, crowdsourced platforms that allow our clients to lean in and engage in collective mindshare on established design patterns using the latest usercentric technologies empowered by the cloud.

into this

Bullshit Sans by Roel Nieskens

Here’s how he made it. Fucking brilliant. I saved a list of the terms and phrases that cause the ligatures. On a related note, I’d be bullshitting myself if maintain any hope of finishing this tiny book at some point.

Lutz Ebersdorf

As if I needed another reason to fall in love with Tilda Swinton

Swinton penned a phony IMDb biography to keep the secret, and wore fake genitalia, created by makeup artist Mark Coulier, while in character. (“She did have us make a penis and balls,” Coulier told the paper. “She had this nice, weighty set of genitalia so that she could feel it dangling between her legs, and she managed to get it out on set on a couple of occasions.”) Both she and Guadagnino were miffed when their secret got out. “Frankly, my long-held dream was that we would never have addressed this question at all,” Swinton told the Times. “My original idea was that Lutz would die during the edit, and his ‘In Memoriam’ be the final credit in the film.”

Vulture

😳