Elsewhere for February 27, 2021

You should read this for 2/27/2021:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bullet17,300-year-old Kimberley kangaroo becomes Australia’s oldest rock artwork

decorative leaf bulletThe Black Gondoliers of Renaissance Venice

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bulletJustin Trudeau says US leadership has been ‘sorely missed’ during first meeting with Biden

Justin Trudeau has praised Joe Biden for rejoining the Paris climate accord during their first bilateral meeting, saying: “US leadership has been sorely missed over the past years.”
The Canadian prime minister added: “And I have to say as we were preparing the joint rollout of the communique on this, it’s nice when the Americans are not pulling out all the references to climate change and instead adding them in.”

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletJohn Keats: five poets on his best poems, 200 years since his death

Via Manton Reece of Micro.blog: decorative leaf bulletHow to blog about books

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletWhy a fake commute could pave the way to work-from-home balance

Of all the things work-from-home employees might miss about pre-pandemic life, commuting wouldn’t seem to register high on the attention meter. But nearly a year after being sent home from the office, some employees, such as Giza, have realized that losing that time in the car — or on the bus, train or street — has had some drawbacks.

decorative leaf bulletNot All COVID-19 Aid Is Spent. But Schools, Cities And States Say They Need More

One of the biggest flashpoints in the debate over President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package is whether it’s too generous. It’s the third round of relief, and Republicans have questioned why all of it is needed, given that not all of the earlier relief funds have been spent.
A widely cited Congressional Budget Office estimate says “most of those funds remain to be spent.” But school leaders say the money is spoken for and they need more. . . . . Staff aren’t paid all at once, which means the funds aren’t spent all at once either.
School districts are also looking at hiring tutors and instructors for summer school, and planning ahead for fall, when they face the prospect of trying to help students catch up after a year where some were in school and some were at home. There’s a lot of damage to repair, said Matthew Blomstedt, education commissioner for the state of Nebraska.

decorative leaf bulletFDA Analysis Of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Finds It Safe, Effective

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has some advantages. Immunization with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one shot, unlike the two-shot dosing for the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine also doesn’t require special refrigeration for shipment and storage.
The FDA review noted that an international study of about 40,000 people, half of whom got the vaccine and half of whom got a placebo, found the company’s vaccine to be 66% effective overall in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 disease. The study was conducted in the U.S., Latin America and South Africa. . . . The efficacy figures are lower than Pfizer’s 95% for preventing COVID-19 disease and 94% for Moderna. Over the course of the pandemic, the coronavirus has begun to change. Variants first seen in South Africa and Brazil, where the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was tested, mutated in ways that help them evade the immune response prompted by vaccines developed against the original form of the virus.
But there are more important measures, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Health told All Things Considered on Monday. “What you care about is hospitalizations and deaths,” he said.

decorative leaf bulletPfizer vaccine found 94% effective in landmark real-world study

The research in Israel– two months into one of the world’s fastest rollouts, providing a rich source of data – showed two doses of the Pfizer shot cut symptomatic Covid-19 cases by 94% across all age groups, and severe illnesses by nearly as much.The study of about 1.2 million people also showed a single shot was 57% effective in protecting against symptomatic infections after two weeks, according to the data published and peer-reviewed in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.


decorative leaf bulletFACT CHECK: Biden’s Comments On Loan Forgiveness And Elite Colleges President Biden is woefully uninformed on how people pay for college, and how “elite” colleges fund students; it’ not from GSLs.

decorative leaf bullet‘I’m a maths lecturer – and I had to get my children to teach me’

His daughter, he says, will master doing addition one way, but then has to do several lessons to learn addition using a completely different method. “It gets her to think: ‘Oh, I actually don’t know how to do this – I thought I did, but I don’t.’” . . . “It’s not the teachers, who are working their socks off in this pandemic and doing a great job. It’s the curriculum.” The curriculum is forcing teachers to “store up problems for the future,” because what children learn at a young age shapes their understanding of maths as they get older. “We’re making a rod for our own backs by not teaching them these concepts sooner,” he says. . . . A bestselling novelist who teaches creative writing, Kelly says the English curriculum her seven-year-old is studying in lockdown is practically Dickensian in its pointlessness. “It’s not about the content of what they’re saying or its effectiveness. It’s about labelling every word in a sentence until the idea of language itself is just horrible to children.”

Food and Drink

H/T Jeff Carlson: decorative leaf bulletBritish grief centres mainly around the making of sandwiches

decorative leaf bulletHow to make the perfect keema – recipe

(Note that this recipe is very much a jumping-off point; though I didn’t have time to try them all, I’ve also earmarked, for ongoing research: Maunika Gowardhan’s grandmother’s version with coconut milk and vinegar, Cyrus Todiwala’s version with scrambled egg, Asma Khan’s Armenian-inspired dill pilau, the orange-juice-flavoured recipe that Madhur Jaffrey got from a Hyderabadi at a film director’s dinner party and Saliha Mahmood Ahmed’s modern Mughal take with almonds and white poppy seeds. The future’s bright; the future’s mince.)

decorative leaf bulletMake a DIY Vinegar Cleaning Spray With Orange Peels

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletRemains of oldest American dog bolster idea that first humans arrived along the coast

When researchers began to excavate a tunnellike cave on the west coast of Alaska in 1998, they were hoping to discover the remains of ancient bears. Instead, they unearthed something even more intriguing: a tiny chip of bone belonging to the first known dog in the Americas. The find supports the idea that dogs accompanied the first humans who set foot on these continents—and that both traveled there along the Pacific coast. . . . But over the past decade, archaeologists have shown people might have begun to move into North America much earlier. To get around the glaciers, they would have island hopped by boat and walked along shorelines exposed by low sea levels. They traveled from Siberia through the Alaskan archipelago about 16,000 years ago, eventually making their way down the Pacific coast.

The sliver of dog bone supports this hypothesis. Recovered from among more than 50,000 prehistoric animal and human remains excavated near Wrangel Island, researchers didn’t realize it came from a dog until they analyzed its DNA. “We started out thinking this was just another bear bone,” says team leader Charlotte Lindqvist, a biologist at the University at Buffalo (UB). “When we went deeper, we found out it was from a dog.”

The bone is about 10,200 years old, making its owner the oldest dog known in the Americas, the scientists report today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. (The previous record holders were two 10,000-year-old dogs unearthed in the U.S. Midwest.) And the dog’s DNA holds clues to an even earlier time.

Politics and Society

decorative leaf bulletTexas Pays the Price of the Culture War

The crisis in Texas was preceded by more than a decade of Republican control of state government, as politicians focused on culture-war grievances rather than the nuts and bolts of governance. After the near collapse of the power grid exposed its failures, the state’s political leadership attempted to cover for those failures by doubling down on those same grievances. . . . That description of the cascading failures of Texas’s power grid is not from the past week. It is actually taken from a 2011 report from FERC, investigating an outage during a prior cold snap. The report recommended that “all entities responsible for the reliability of the bulk power system in the Southwest prepare for the winter season with the same sense of urgency and priority as they prepare for the summer peak season.”
Texas officials didn’t feel like doing all that.

decorative leaf bulletPostmaster General DeJoy Faces Questioning About Mail Delays

It was unclear ahead of the hearing what DeJoy’s 10-year plan to reform the Postal Service will look like, but the Washington Post reported it includes slowing the delivery of some local first class mail.
Paul Steidler, senior fellow at the Lexington Institute, says “degrading” first class mail is a terrible idea. “You shouldn’t even call it first class mail if it takes three days for something to get a short distance.”
Steidler says it’s the poor and the elderly who are hurt most by slower mail deliveries. “There’s going to be greater instances of court notices not being received on time, payments to credit card companies not getting in on time and penalties being assessed,” Steidler says, “and it’s completely unnecessary.”

decorative leaf bulletNew record as estimated 18m Americans identify as LGBTQ, poll finds

Polling released Wednesday confirmed that more Americans than ever before identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. The number of Americans who self-identify this way increased by 60% between 2012 and 2020, according to Gallup.

Researchers say the findings are partly due to an emerging generation of young people who have chosen to live openly with an identity other than heterosexual.

. . .

Not only were women far more likely than their male counterparts to identify as LGBTQ overall (6.4 v 4.9%), they were also more likely to consider themselves bisexual across all age groups (4.3 v 1.8%).

Of everyone surveyed who identified as LGBTQ, 54.6 % of respondents identified as bisexual, 24.5% as gay, 11.7% as lesbian and 11.3% as transgender. More than 3% said they used another term to describe their identity, such as queer or pansexual.

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletRock of ages: how chalk made England

Even among that subsection of the population who get excited by a good piece of rock, for years chalk was seen as fairly dull. When Farrant started work at the BGS in 1996, he told me: “I got dumped on the chalk and I thought, ‘Oh God, how boring.’ It turns out I was wrong.”

decorative leaf bulletThe Mediterranean’s Red Gold Is Running Out

Red coral is no longer bountiful, though: It’s threatened not only by over-harvesting but also by habitat destruction and climate change. Saving the species requires an international effort as complex and innovative as those ancient trading networks, one that values red coral for both its aesthetic splendor and its role in supporting entire Mediterranean ecosystems.

decorative leaf bulletRare bird: ‘Half-male, half-female’ cardinal snapped in Pennsylvania

Northern cardinal with one side showing plumage and one side showing female plumage
Northern cardinal with one side showing plumage and one side showing female plumage


decorative leaf bulletFind and Remove the New ‘Silver Sparrow’ macOS Malware Silver Sparrow is

a new piece of macOS malware that runs on both Intel and M1-based Macs. That makes it the second piece of known malware for the latter, but there’s a silver lining: Researchers discovered the malicious software before it had a chance to actually harm your system.

H/T Michael Tsai: decorative leaf bulletA retrospective look at Mac OS X Snow Leopard

My recent article, The reshaped Mac experience, received a lot of attention judging from the response on Twitter and the WordPress analytics — apparently, among other places, it reached Hacker News and Reddit. Unlike my four-part series ‌Mac OS Catalina: more trouble than it’s worth, however, it didn’t attract any hate mail at all. The sheer majority of feedback I received was very positive, with many many people agreeing with me and my observations. A few — some provocatively, some genuinely curious — asked me something along the lines of, Well, if you dislike the current Big Sur UI and Mac experience, what’s an example of Mac OS UI and experience you DO like?

It’s a more than fair question, and this piece serves as an answer. When I wrote back to those who asked me, I replied Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

As a self-check, Riccardo Mori installs Snow Leopard and takes a fresh look. I actively miss Snow Leopard. I’m visually disabled enough now that I’m struggling daily, despite a deep familiarity with the Acceissiblity options, to read the UI screens, particularly in the Finder. I miss the color distinctions of Snow Leopard. The windows were so much easier to see and interpret quickly. I miss the icons, and the use of color to delineate specific UI regions.

decorative leaf bulletHow to Overcome ‘Zoom Fatigue’

Buy me a Coffee! If you find this post or this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.

According to Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab, the issue applies to all video conferencing services. Generally speaking, it describes the fatigue caused by needing to feel perpetually switched on as you jump between browser windows for various online meetings. It makes sense, too, given that studies have shown that increased screen time—especially when coupled with a sedentary lifestyle—heightens your chances of developing moderate to severe depression.

SetApp: A Suite of macOS Apps for a Single Price Affiliate link for a great collection of 75+ apps for a single price.

Women’s Work

decorative leaf bullet‘You find a way’: Judi Dench on working through sight loss

decorative leaf bulletVirginia prison guards accused a staffer of smuggling contraband, so she was fired. It was a tampon, she says.

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bulletManhattan Prosecutor Receives Trump Tax Returns After Lengthy Legal Battle

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletOcasio-Cortez Fundraising Drive For Texas Relief Raises $4 Million

A fundraising effort spearheaded by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to help storm-battered Texans has raised more than $4 million in just a few days.
On Saturday, Ocasio-Cortez was on the ground in Texas to celebrate the success of the fundraising effort, which will go to local organizations providing Texans food assistance, homelessness relief and elder care. She was joined by Democratic Texas Reps. Sylvia Garcia and Sheila Jackson Lee, all of whom helped fill boxes at the Houston Food Bank.

BBC Video: decorative leaf bulletThe colourful fridges popping up on American streets

SetApp: A Suite of macOS Apps for a Single Price Affiliate link for a great collection of 75+ apps for a single price.

Something Wonderful

H/T: John Gruber: decorative leaf bulletBookfeed.io

Bookfeed.io is a simple tool that allows you to specify a list of authors, and generates an RSS feed with each author’s most recently released book.1 I made this because I don’t want a recommendation algorithm to tell me what to read, I just want to know when my favorite authors release new books.

This is Bookfeed.io

Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.

Elsewhere for February 20, 2021

You should read this for 2/20/2021:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletPBS American Masters Archive Releases 1,000+ Hours of Uncut, Never-Before-Seen Interviews: Patti Smith, David Bowie, Neil Young & More The full PBS American Masters archive is here

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bulletBiden has started erasing Trump’s legacy. Now the hard part starts.

But now that Biden has undone the most easily reversible Trump policies, the hard part begins — especially after the impeachment trial hampered early Senate action. While liberals are pushing Biden to do more, goals such as expanding health care and strengthening gun control would probably require new laws, which are much harder to enact.

Daring Fireball | John Gruber: decorative leaf bulletWhite House Chief Of Staff Ron Klain On Twitter

Klain’s use of Twitter is a fascinating contrast with Trump’s. For many of you, I’m sure, there are nothing but bad connotations when it comes to the use of Twitter from the White House. But Klain’s use of Twitter strikes me as nearing the canonical ideal of how Jack Dorsey might have imagined Twitter being used by, say, the White House. It harks back to the early days of Twitter, when the prompt was “What are you doing?” Except Klain is tweeting not about what he, personally, is doing, but rather what the administration is doing.

decorative leaf bulletInside the new President’s routine: Oval Office fires and early bedtimes

The President’s Daily Brief, a highly classified update on the country’s top intelligence, is back to a daily occurrence after happening only sporadically under Trump. Joined in the Oval Office by Vice President Kamala Harris — who has used an iPad to receive the briefing, like Obama — Biden is run through the update by a range of intelligence professionals.
He has expressed a preference for a fire built in the Oval Office fireplace, and sometimes adds a log himself to keep it going. His dogs, two German Shepherds called Major and Champ, sometimes join him.

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletBaen Books Forum Being Used to Advocate for Political Violence And see also: Weisskopf Announces Hiatus for Baen’s Bar I left the Bar in 2015; the writing was on the wall in large letters that racist, homophobic content was just fine with Weisskopf et al. I knew Jim Baen; he was the first person I ever demoed Voyager’s Ebook toolkit for, and he remembered me at subsequent encounters, to my surprise, and sent me an ARC of a Bujold book. I can’t imagine him, conservative pro-military supporter that he was, being ok with the kind of name-calling and sneering that became rampant on the Bar, where language like “fucking dyke” and “little faggot” have become acceptable and objections are shrugged off and jeered at. Brace for incoming sneers from Weisskopf et al about “cancel culture” and thin skin. And yes, I’ve stopped buying Baen books; sorry Lois, but your publisher sucks.

Weisskopf is doubling down.

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletCovid infecting humans through animal host ‘probable’

decorative leaf bulletJo Whiley offered Covid vaccine before sister in care home with diabetes

decorative leaf bulletLibrarian fired after allegedly burning books by Trump and Ann Coulter

“It’s our job to ensure that all walks of life have access to information without judgment or prejudice … Whether these materials were actually destroyed in a fire or even if they were just removed, that does go against our policy,” the spokesperson said then.
“Because at the end of the day, we believe that censorship has no place in a library.”/blockquote>/p>

decorative leaf bulletThe Librarian War Against QAnon

But the present moment demands serious inquiry into why decades of trying to make information literacy a universal educational outcome hasn’t prevented a significant portion of the population from embracing disinformation while rejecting credible journalistic institutions. . . . We are experiencing a moment that is exposing a schism between two groups: those who have faith that there is a way to arrive at truth using epistemological practices that originated during the Enlightenment, and those who believe that events and experiences are portents to be interpreted in ways that align with their personal values. As the sociologist and media scholar Francesca Tripodi has demonstrated, many conservatives read the news using techniques learned through Bible study, shunning secular interpretations of events as biased and inconsistent with their exegesis of primary texts such as presidential speeches and the Constitution. The faithful can even acquire anthologies of Donald Trump’s infamous tweets to aid in their study of coded messages.

decorative leaf bulletGay’s The Word: Tributes paid to Peter Dorey who opened first LGBTQ+ bookshop


decorative leaf bulletBiden Says He Wants Most K-8 Schools Open 5 Days A Week By His First 100 Days

decorative leaf bulletIf Schools Follow CDC Guidance, Biden’s Reopening Goals Could Be Hard To Reach

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletThe falafel is part of my Israeli psyche – here’s my recipe

This delicacy needs to be eaten in the street, in the sun, in a pitta stuffed to the brink of explosion with as many falafel balls as can fit and then one on top, chopped salad and cabbage salad, pickles, hot sauce – fiery red from fermented chillies or dark green from herbs – and, of course, tahini to keep it all together and to lubricate. It must drip down your arms and chin and destroy your shirt as you bite.

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletHighwayman’s 1750 confessions reveal ‘unusual’ ambivalence about gay sex

decorative leaf bullet‘Astonishing’ dig reveals domestic life in the iron age

When archaeologists began excavating land near the iron age hillfort at Wittenham Clumps, a famous Oxfordshire landmark, they were hopeful of unearthing something of interest because the area has been occupied for more than 3,000 years. But nothing prepared them for the excitement of discovering an extended iron age settlement, with the remains of more than a dozen roundhouses dating from 400BC to 100BC – as well as an enormous Roman villa built in the late third to early fourth century.

Politics and Society

H/T Dan Frakes: decorative leaf bulletI’ve Seen The Evidence, And There’s A Lot Of It, And It’s Overwhelming And Very Persuasive, And I’ve Decided To Ignore It

decorative leaf bulletAnother part of the Stonehenge mystery has been unearthed before our eyes

decorative leaf bulletViking age artefacts discovered on Isle of Man declared treasure

“The arm ring is a rare find. Gold items were not very common during the Viking age. Silver was by far the more common metal for trading and displaying wealth. It has been estimated that gold was worth 10 times the value of silver and that this arm ring could have been the equivalent of 900 silver coins,” she said.

The gold arm ring found by the amateur metal detectorist Kath Giles. Photograph: Manx National Heritage Museum

“Kath’s hoard can be dated on stylistic and comparative grounds to about AD950, a time when the Isle of Man was right in the middle of an important trading and economic zone. The Viking and Norse influence remained strong on the island for a further 300 years, long after much of the rest of the British Isles.”

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletMarvel at UAE Hope orbiter’s first image of Mars

decorative leaf bulletFeral camels rounded up in Australian outback and sold online for weed control

decorative leaf bulletMount Etna erupts in spectacular fashion – in pictures


decorative leaf bulletPocketBook launches 7.8-inch e-reader with new color E Ink screen

decorative leaf bulletHow to Recognize a ‘Shitpost’ on Social Media Definition:

“To post off-topic, false, or offensive contributions to an online forum with the intent to derail the discussion or provoke other participants.”

On a basic level, you could accurately equate shitposting with trolling. Every shitpost, in some way, is an act of trolling. But there’s a distinction: Trolling, even when it’s quite depraved, is performed blatantly (i.e., the troll makes no attempt to hide the fact that they are trolling, even if their behavior is genuinely reprehensible). Shitposters, on the other hand, pretend to be unaware of their transparent attempts to deliberately churn the waters and piss people off. (As with any unwritten rule of social media etiquette, some caveats apply, but the trope of the unwitting shitposter bears out). . . . But quote-tweeting only furthers the reach of a shitpost, even if you’re attempting to skewer or mock the post you’re amplifying. To that end, if you must add yours to the deluge of takes that spreads across the web in a given day, consider taking a screenshot of the offending post instead.

SetApp: A Suite of macOS Apps for a Single Price Affiliate link for a great collection of 75+ apps for a single price.

Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletNasa’s pioneering black women

decorative leaf bullet‘We wanted people to see that we exist’: the photographer who recorded lesbian life in the 70s

decorative leaf bulletMy porn life: what my years as a sex writer taught me about my desires

decorative leaf bulletA gay first lady? Yes, we’ve already had one, and here are her love letters.

In 1969, a descendant of Bishop Whipple’s donated a collection of family papers to the Minnesota Historical Society. It is doubtful she knew the full contents of the boxes she gave away. When the staff discovered the love letters, a memo warned that some of the letters “strongly suggest that a lesbian relationship existed between the two women” and should be hidden from the public.

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bulletHouse Homeland Security chairman sues Trump and Giuliani, accusing them of inciting Capitol riot

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) alleged in federal court in Washington that Trump and Giuliani’s false claims that the election was stolen fomented a raid that violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, an 1871 law enacted after the Civil War to bar violent interference in Congress’s constitutional duties.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletVolunteers In Texas Are Saving Thousands Of Cold-Stunned Sea Turtles From The Storm

Volunteers in coastal Texas have rescued thousands of sea turtles from frigid waters and shores during the historic winter storm and are working creatively to house them as much of the region remains without power.

Keep in mind that many of these people have been without heat or power for three days or more.

SetApp: A Suite of macOS Apps for a Single Price Affiliate link for a great collection of 75+ apps for a single price.

Something Wonderful

decorative leaf bulletLook! It’s a bouncing baby orca

L86 is the first orca born to K pod or L pod since January 2019.

Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.

Elsewhere for February 13, 2021

You should read this for 2/13/2021:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletThe Magic of the Beach Boys’ Harmonies: Hear Isolated Vocals from “Sloop John B.,” “God Only Knows,” “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” & Other Pet Sounds Classics

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bulletBiden inherited a USPS
crisis. Here’s how Democrats want to fix it.

decorative leaf bulletNeera Tanden Apologizes After Comparing GOP Senators To Voldemort And Vampires

“You wrote that Susan Collins is, quote, ‘the worst.’ That Tom Cotton is a fraud. That vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz. You called leader McConnell ‘Moscow Mitch’ and ‘Voldemort,’” complained Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. “How do you plan to mend fences and build relationships with members of Congress you have attacked through your public statements?”

Neera Tanden has a point, thought personally, I’d argue that Mitch McConnell maps really well as Sauron, with Lindsey Graham as Saruman the White Wizard, and Ted Cruz as Grima Wormtongue.

decorative leaf bulletUS President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden share a light moment with reporters, including an exchange with Al Jazeera English White House correspondent @KimberlyHalkett. It ended with Biden offering her his coffee.

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletShelf Ready Books — Accessorize Your Space

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bullet5 Types of Masks and How to Use Them

decorative leaf bulletWhat’s a ‘Mask Fitter’ and How Do I Use It?

decorative leaf bulletWe’re not looking at the most important vaccine statistic

Case in point: the media coverage and public reception of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine. Results from its trials were released last week. According to the company, it should be able to deliver 100 million doses in the first half of this year. But this good news hasn’t been greeted with the enthusiasm that accompanied announcements about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Perhaps that’s because in its clinical trial, the J&J vaccine had an efficacy number — the percentage of cases prevented entirely — of 66 percent. Compared against the 95 percent efficacy rate for the Pfizer vaccine and the 94.1 rate for Moderna’s, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine simply doesn’t look as good.

But in another sense, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial results were incredibly encouraging. The same trial showed that J&J’s vaccine makes Covid-19 cases much milder, meaning you might still get sick but you are much less likely to be hospitalized or die. Indeed, on that front, the J&J vaccine performs just as well as Pfizer’s and Moderna’s, a fact that seems to have been undersold in news coverage about it.

To put J&J’s effectiveness in another context, think about the flu. Flu vaccines mostly don’t prevent you from getting sick with the flu but instead make the flu much less awful if you catch it and less fatal for at-risk populations. A Covid-19 vaccine that was similar to that — one that made you much less likely to be hospitalized or die, and made the disease milder — would still be enough to help bring the pandemic to an end and give us back our lives.


decorative leaf bulletAmerican history textbooks can differ across the country, in ways that are shaded by partisan politics.

The books have the same publisher. They credit the same authors. But they are customized for students in different states, and their contents sometimes diverge in ways that reflect the nation’s deepest partisan divides.

Hundreds of differences — some subtle, others extensive — emerged in a New York Times analysis of eight commonly used American history textbooks in California and Texas, two of the nation’s largest markets.

decorative leaf bullet4 free online resources for kids that celebrate Black history and culture

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletRed alert: 17 scorchingly good recipes with chillies – from tom yum soup to vodka

H/T Ari: decorative leaf bulletSpaghetti Aglio e Olio

decorative leaf bullet<H/T Kristine Smith—I haven’t yet tried one of the microwave cakes in a mug yet but Kristine Smith’s modifications and link to this recipe: a href=”https://cafedelites.com/low-fat-chocolate-mug-cake-recipe/”>Low fat chocolate Mug Cake have me seriously contemplating trying it.

decorative leaf bulletBest Chocolate Brownies The recipe calls for almond extract; an interesting twist. It’s worth making sure that you’re using actual almond extract, and not an artificial substitute.

decorative leaf bulletFancy a proper brew? Why you won’t regret ditching the teabags

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletFound in Alaska, These Blue Beads Could Be the Oldest Evidence of European Goods in North America

European-crafted glass beads found at three different indigenous sites in northern Alaska date back to the pre-colonial period of North America, in what is an intriguing archaeological discovery.

Somehow, these blueberry-sized beads made their way from what is now Venice, Italy, to the Brooks Range mountains of Alaska at some point during the mid-to-late 15th century, according to new research published in American Antiquity.

The authors of the paper, archaeologists Michael Kunz from the University of Alaska Museum of the North and Robin Mills from the Bureau of Land Management, suspect the beads were trade goods that, after passing through China’s Silk Road, eventually made their way through Siberia and eventually into Alaska via the Bering Strait.

The linked article has pictures.

decorative leaf bulletConch shell in French museum found to be 17,000-year-old wind instrument

A 17,000-year-old conch shell that lay forgotten for more than 80 years in a museum collection has been discovered to be the oldest known wind instrument of its type, after researchers found it had been modified by its prehistoric owners to be played like a horn.
First unearthed in a richly decorated cave in the Pyrenees in 1931, the large shell was initially overlooked by archaeologists, who assumed it was a communal “loving cup” used by the Palaeolithic people whose wall art adorns the space.

decorative leaf bulletAn Enduring Design

. . . modern scientific techniques have now shown that this is not an artifact of relatively recent revelry, but rather one of just two known nearly complete Viking helmets in the world, and the only one to have been found in Britain.

Politics and Society

decorative leaf bulletA majority of the people arrested for Capitol riot had a history of financial trouble

Despite her outward signs of success, Ryan had struggled financially for years. She was still paying off a $37,000 lien for unpaid federal taxes when she was arrested. She’d nearly lost her home to foreclosure before that. She filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and faced another IRS tax lien in 2010.

Nearly 60 percent of the people facing charges related to the Capitol riot showed signs of prior money troubles, including bankruptcies, notices of eviction or foreclosure, bad debts, or unpaid taxes over the past two decades, according to a Washington Post analysis of public records for 125 defendants with sufficient information to detail their financial histories.

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletSquawking bird blows the whistle on fake video trying to tilt Ecuador election

decorative leaf bulletBritain’s endangered willow tit needs vast area to thrive, research finds


David Barnard via Daring Fireball: decorative leaf bulletGaming The App Store

So, let’s talk about how developers are gaming the App Store and why it matters to the future of the platform. Any one of these tactics might seem somewhat bland individually, but when tens of thousands of apps deploy multiple tactics across many categories of apps, the impact can be measured in hundreds of millions of users and likely billions of dollars.

decorative leaf bulletCanadian Privacy Commission Says Clearview’s App Is Illegal, Tells It To Pack Its Things And Leave

The facial recognition app Clearview AI is not welcome in Canada and the company that developed it should delete Canadians’ faces from its database, the country’s privacy commissioner said on Wednesday.
“What Clearview does is mass surveillance, and it is illegal,” Commissioner Daniel Therrien said at a news conference. He forcefully denounced the company as putting all of society “continually in a police lineup.”

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Women’s Work

H/T Lisa Carnell: decorative leaf bulletThe 3,000-Year-Old Bones of a Master Ceramicist Show Unusual Signs of Wear

In an interview with Atlas Obscura’s Giaimo, Agelarakis states that the team’s research represents a “tiny bit in a bigger puzzle.” He concludes, “It signifies that women … held craft specialization roles in antiquity, which I think is very important.”

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bullet‘I Said The Opposite’: Criticism Of Trump’s Impeachment Defense Intensifies

A constitutional law professor whose work is cited extensively by former President Donald Trump’s lawyers in their impeachment defense brief says his work has been seriously misrepresented.

In a 78-page brief filed in the U.S. Senate on Monday, Trump’s lawyers rely heavily on the work of Michigan State University law professor Brian Kalt, author of the seminal article about impeachment of a former president. His work is cited 15 times in the Trump brief, often for the proposition that the Senate does not have the authority under the Constitution to try an impeached former president.

The problem is that Kalt’s 2001 book-length law review article concluded that, on balance, the historical evidence is against Trump’s legal argument.
“The worst part is the three places where they said I said something, when, in fact, I said the opposite,” Kalt said in an interview with NPR.

decorative leaf bulletTwitter says Trump ban is permanent – even if he runs for office again

decorative leaf bulletJustice Department says an Oath Keepers leader waited for Trump’s direction before Capitol attack

The Justice Department is now making clear that a leader among the Oath Keepers paramilitary group — who planned and led others in the US Capitol siege to attempt to stop the Biden presidency — believed she was responding to the call from then-President Donald Trump himself.

“As the inauguration grew nearer, [Jessica] Watkins indicated that she was awaiting direction from President Trump,” prosecutors wrote in a filing Thursday morning.

decorative leaf bulletTimeline: How Trump picked the rioters over his vice president

Donald Trump’s last, desperate hope for clinging to the presidency on Jan. 6 was that the lawyers telling him that Mike Pence could simply reject the electoral votes submitted by the states were correct and that Pence, his ceaselessly loyal vice president for the previous four years, would do just that. As with so many other elements of Trump’s post-election plans, things got murky quickly after that, but, like a guy trying to cross a rickety bridge, the then-president was taking things one step at a time.

Trump’s two-part plan had two flaws: Trump’s attorneys were obviously wrong about Pence’s power, and Pence wasn’t inclined to violate his constitutional duty on the off chance that history wouldn’t regard him as a central figure in the collapse of democracy. So Pence announced that he would do what he had to: preside over the counting of electoral votes and, in so doing, finalize his ouster from the vice presidency.

decorative leaf bulletMounting evidence suggests Trump knew of danger to Pence when he attacked him as lacking ‘courage’ amid Capitol siege

Mounting evidence emerging as former president Donald Trump’s impeachment trial unfolds in the Senate this week indicates Trump may have been personally informed that Vice President Mike Pence was in physical danger during the Jan. 6 Capitol siege, just moments before denigrating him on Twitter.

Trump’s decision to tweet that Pence lacked “courage” — a missive sent shortly after the vice president had been rushed off the Senate floor — underscores how he delayed taking action to stop his supporters as they ransacked the Capitol. . . . Trump’s tweet came at 2:24 p.m. that day — only 11 minutes after live television coverage showed Pence being hustled from the Senate floor because rioters were streaming into the building one floor below. The Senate then abruptly went into recess.

decorative leaf bulletFormer FBI official, a Navy veteran, is ‘key figure’ in Jan. 6 riot, prosecutors allege

Prosecutors allege Caldwell used his military and law enforcement background to plan violence — including possible snipers and weapons stashed on a boat along the Potomac River — weeks ahead of the Capitol insurrection. Caldwell, of Berryville, Va., is charged on counts of conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, trespassing, destruction of government property, and aiding and abetting. . . . “Next time (and there WILL be a next time) we will have learned and we will be stronger,” he messaged others afterward, according to the court documents. “I think there will be real violence for all of us next time. . . . I am already working on the next D.C. op.”

decorative leaf bulletTrump’s impeachment lawyer claims ‘leader of antifa’ was arrested after the Capitol attack. That’s not true.

decorative leaf bulletNew details about Trump-McCarthy shouting match show Trump refused to call off the rioters

The newly revealed details of the call, described to CNN by multiple Republicans briefed on it, provide critical insight into the President’s state of mind as rioters were overrunning the Capitol. The existence of the call and some of its details have been previously reported and discussed publicly by McCarthy.

The Republican members of Congress said the exchange showed Trump had no intention of calling off the rioters even as lawmakers were pleading with him to intervene. Several said it amounted to a dereliction of his presidential duty.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletCelebrating Fredy Hirsch’s queer legacy of bravery

And then, in what would be a deeply meaningful moment of affirmation of my own queer and Jewish identity, she casually mentioned that Fredy was gay. “It was an open thing, we all knew that he was gay…. We didn’t make anything out of it at that time. He was just one of us.”

Her tone was so nonchalant it was hard to believe her words had been recorded almost two decades earlier, in 1998. And it made me very emotional. It was the first time in my life I’d heard a Holocaust survivor referring to the existence of an LGBTQ prisoner.

BaronFig: $10.00 off on quality notebooks and writing instruments. BaronFig makes super notebooks and planners in several sizes and colors, with dot grid, blank, or lined paper. The BaronFig Squire pen is magnificent.

Something Wonderful

H/T Lisa Carnell: decorative leaf bulletRadio Garden The green dots on this map of the world represent radio stations; clock on on one to hear that station.

Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.

Elsewhere for February 6, 2021

You should read this for 2/6/20201:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletTikToker’s sea shanty Wellerman reaches No 3 in UK charts

decorative leaf bulletTo Hold Nature in the Hand: Revealing the Wonders of the Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta Online facsimile.

decorative leaf bullet7 Things to Look for in Paintings of the Last Supper

decorative leaf bulletHilton Valentine, Founding Guitarist For The Animals, Dies At 77

But it was “House of the Rising Sun” that took the band to the top of the U.S. and U.K. charts. Although the song was well covered by many artists before them — including Bob Dylan — the Animals recorded what became the most widely-recognized version of the gambler’s lament in 1964. Hilton’s hauntingly circular riff contributed immeasurably to the band’s evocative take on the standard.

decorative leaf bulletRussian Fabergé exhibition contains ‘at least 20 fakes’, expert says

A Russian museum has been asked to close a Fabergé exhibition that contains items loaned from the personal collection of a billionaire, after a prominent expert said it contained more than a dozen fakes.
In a letter, the art dealer Andre Ruzhnikov accused the Hermitage Museum’s director, Mikhail Piotrovsky, of “destroying the authority of the museum” by hosting the Fabergé: Jeweller to the Imperial Court show, which runs until 14 March.

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bulletBiden Administration: Here’s Who Has Been Confirmed So Far

decorative leaf bulletEducation Pick Miguel Cardona Is New To Washington — But Not To Classrooms

In a Biden administration full of familiar faces, Cardona is relatively new to the national spotlight. His biggest job to date has been as Connecticut’s education commissioner, a role he’s filled for just the past year and half.
As state commissioner, he spent much of his time focused on the impact of pandemic-driven school closures. He was a fierce advocate for Connecticut’s most vulnerable children — those with disabilities, children in low-income families and English language learners — as he pushed for schools to reopen, arguing that opportunity gaps are only widening.  . . Before his brief tenure as education commissioner, though, Cardona had spent his entire professional career as a public school educator in the city where he grew up: Meriden, Conn.

decorative leaf bulletBiden Plan To Expand Child Tax Credit Could Help Lift Millions Of Kids Out Of Poverty

decorative leaf bulletIn Biden’s White House, surprise visits with staff replace late-night tweets

Since he moved in two weeks ago, Joe Biden has taken to strolling around the White House.
He’s popped into the press offices. He’s walked to the East Wing to visit the military office, which handles everything from food service to presidential transportation. And on the day the Senate confirmed his secretary of State, he stopped by the office of Antony Blinken’s wife, White House Cabinet Secretary Evan Ryan, to congratulate their family. .&nbsp. . While Trump would call friends and allies seemingly at random, Biden has a list of phone calls scheduled for him. While Trump didn’t mind aides and outside allies wandering into the Oval Office, Biden has a handful of gatekeepers who control access to the room. While Trump would sometimes spend days tweeting and watching television, Biden fills his day with policy memos, virtual meetings with outside experts and, of course, visiting staff around the building.

And of course, the really important guests:

Some top aides, including senior adviser Mike Donilon and Steve Ricchetti, counselor to the president, have Oval Office walk-in privileges. So do Biden’s dogs — one of the two German Shepherds, Major, visited him recently in the Oval Office, according to a White House official.

But what we REALLY want to know, is when will the White House Cat arrive?

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletThere Are Two Kinds of Happy People

decorative leaf bulletHow to learn calligraphy online

decorative leaf bulletWhat trashy novels taught me about life

It’s easy to mock so-called “trashy” novels. People do it all the time. They’re dismissed as bonkbusters and shagathons. Laughed at for their over-the-top prose. Characterised as being about nothing more than sex and shopping. To their many detractors they are sugary book bonbons, the gilded covers with their (often one word) titles raised up on the front – Lace, Rivals, Scandal, Lucky – further signs that these books lack purpose. They are “women’s fiction”, frivolous works, not the sort of thing a serious reader should bother with.

decorative leaf bulletDante’s descendant seeks to overturn poet’s 1302 corruption conviction

“They were political trials and the penalties of exile and death inflicted on Dante, my dear ancestor, are unjust and have never been cancelled as happened with Galileo Galilei,” Alighieri told Corriere Della Sera. “And therefore, if the laws allow it, we will ask for a revision.”

decorative leaf bulletBirmingham library brings Shakespeare to life in dozens of languages

It is a little-known fact that Birmingham is home to the largest Shakespeare collection in any public library in the world.

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bullet10 days of struggle: Inside Biden’s early coronavirus vaccine effort

decorative leaf bulletWhat’s the difference between all the Covid vaccines?

decorative leaf bulletWhy the Second COVID-19 Shot Feels Worse

H/T Lymnd: decorative leaf bulletComparing the Covid-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson


decorative leaf bulletThe Colleges That Took the Pandemic Seriously

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletChai “Traditional chai tea recipe, prepared with full-bodied black tea, star anise, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, white peppercorns, cardamom, whole milk and sugar.”

decorative leaf bulletA taste of home: Claudia Roden’s majestic Book of Jewish Food

decorative leaf bulletBest Beef Chili “On any given Saturday morning, I might start this early and give it a long, lazy simmer while I sip my coffee, read the paper, or throw in a load of laundry. I can call up friends and have an impromptu, casual gathering with very little elbow grease.”

decorative leaf bulletHow Do You Organize Your Recipes?

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bullet‘Find of the century’: medieval hoard of treasures unearthed in Cambridge

An early medieval graveyard unearthed beneath student accommodation at Cambridge University has been described as “one of the most exciting finds of Anglo-Saxon archaeology since the 19th century”.

decorative leaf bulletArchaeologists unearth bronze age graves at Stonehenge tunnel site

Bronze age graves, neolithic pottery and the vestiges of a mysterious C-shaped enclosure that might have been a prehistoric industrial area are among the finds unearthed by archaeologists who have carried out preliminary work on the site of the proposed new road tunnel at Stonehenge. . . . “We’ve found a lot – evidence about the people who lived in this landscape over millennia, traces of people’s everyday lives and deaths, intimate things,” said Matt Leivers, A303 Stonehenge consultant archaeologist at Wessex Archaeology. “Every detail lets us work out what was happening in that landscape before during and after the building of Stonehenge. Every piece brings that picture into a little more focus.”

Politics and Society

decorative leaf bulletGOP Rep. Kinzinger to start new PAC to challenge party’s embrace of Trump

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), one of 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Donald Trump earlier this month, has launched a new leadership political action committee that is designed to become a financial engine to challenge the former president’s wing of the GOP caucus and stand up against a leadership team still aligned with him. . . . Kinzinger previewed the launch in a Saturday interview with a small group of reporters on a Zoom call, alternating between taking shots at Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), whose QAnon conspiracy theories have drawn great attention in recent days, and being dismissive toward what he views as the weak leadership of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

decorative leaf bulletSpurred By The Capitol Riot, Thousands Of Republicans Drop Their Party

In the week from Jan. 6 through Jan. 12, about 4,600 Republicans changed their party status in Colorado, according to a CPR News analysis. There was no comparable effect with any other party. CPR News was able to contact dozens of them by tracking changes in the state’s voter file.
The number of people changing parties spiked immediately after the Capitol breach. The same phenomenon is playing out nationwide. News outlets documented about 6,000 defections from the party in North Carolina, 10,000 in Pennsylvania and 5,000 in Arizona.

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletPeak District’s last surviving mountain hares ‘at risk’

decorative leaf bulletNap time is the new coffee break. Here’s how to make the most of it.

If you’re in the napping camp, Mednick suggests setting an alarm for about 20 minutes, long enough to enable you to enter Stage 2 sleep. She considers this period of light sleep, in which your heartbeat and breathing slow and your muscles relax, “the reset button of sleep.” In a NASA study that found that naps helped pilots become more alert, 10 to 20 minutes was good. Experiment to see what refreshes you without making you groggy or ruining your bedtime.

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decorative leaf bulletA Cappella Group Recreates Classic iPhone Ringtones

Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletThe Aids angel: how Ruth Coker Burks comforted dying gay men

Soon, word spread – there was a woman who would help a person with Aids. Sex between men was illegal in Arkansas; most contacted Coker Burks after they were rejected by their families. At the time, she says, HIV/Aids was seen as an illness afflicting gay communities in New York and San Francisco, not middle America.

Coker Burks in 1986, at the start of her period of caregiving. Photograph: Courtesy of Ruth Coker Burks
She arranged housing and ransacked supermarket dumpsters at dawn for food for them (until Bill Clinton, then the governor of Arkansas and a childhood acquaintance, directed food banks to help her). Often, one man would care for a friend until he died; then, when he fell ill, Coker Burks would care for him. When no relatives would take the ashes of the men – they were mostly men – that she came to regard as her “guys”, Coker Burks put them in cookie jars that a potter friend sold her cheaply and buried them in her own cemetery plots. She did it all while juggling jobs at a sawmill, a race track and selling timeshares – mostly with her young daughter, Allison, in tow.

Almost immediately, she was ostracised: “It was like I was contagious.” Her church ejected her from its finance committee. Children stopped inviting Allison to their parties. The Ku Klux Klan twice burned a cross on her lawn.

decorative leaf bulletWith ‘I Hate Men,’ a French Feminist Touches a Nerve

Monstrograph’s editors, Martin Page and Coline Pierré, saw the post and asked her if she would turn it into a book. For Harmange, who volunteers with an association supporting rape victims, misandry had come to feel like the best concept to express her frustration with structural gender violence. “It was an insult you would get as a feminist,” she said. “Whatever you say, as soon as you criticize men, you’re accused of being a misandrist. That’s when I realized: Actually, that’s exactly it.”

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰 Donald J. Trump 🤥🤥👖🔥 and his Capitol Riot Insurrection Fest

decorative leaf bulletAs Trump Raked In Cash Denying His Loss, Little Went to Actual Legal Fight “The picture that emerged in new campaign finance reports was of Donald J. Trump waging a public relations effort to falsely argue that he had won the election rather than mounting a serious legal push.”

The picture that emerges in the new Federal Election Commission reports is of Mr. Trump mounting a furious public relations effort to spread the lie and keep generating money from it, rather than making a sustained legal push to try to support his conspiracy theories.
His campaign’s single biggest expense in December was a nearly $5 million media buy paid to the firm that bought his television advertisements. His second-largest payment, $4.4 million, was for online advertising. And the Republican National Committee pocketed millions of dollars in donations — collecting 25 cents for every dollar Mr. Trump raised online — in the final weeks of the year as it spent relatively little on legal costs.

decorative leaf bulletOcasio-Cortez reveals she’s a sexual assault survivor, recounts ‘trauma’ of Capitol riot: ‘I thought everything was over’

About a week before the Capitol riot, Ocasio-Cortez said she began receiving text messages from members of Congress warning her that she needed to make plans to ensure her safety and “that in particular, I needed to be careful about the 6th,” she said in her Instagram Live chat on Monday.
During the next few days, Ocasio-Cortez said she felt increasingly unsafe. On Jan. 4, after driving to the Capitol for a vote, she returned to find Trump supporters standing behind her car, heckling her. The following day, the crowds outside the Capitol grew.

“It felt actively volatile and dangerous,” she said.

decorative leaf bulletAOC’s powerful plea for Republican accountability cannot be ignored

But early in the broadcast, as she described her frustration over Republican calls to move on from the insurrection, she revealed something else: “I’m a survivor of sexual assault,” she said, the first time she has made that disclosure publicly. “The reason I say this and the reason I’m getting emotional in this moment is because these folks who tell us to move on, that it’s not a big deal, that we should forget what’s happened, or even telling us to apologize,” she said. “These are the tactics that abusers use.”

In recognizing the common rhetorical strategies used by both Republicans eager to minimize the attack and perpetrators of gender violence eager to avoid accountability for their treatment of women, AOC was echoing feminists who compared Donald Trump’s increasingly hostile and reckless behavior in the last two months of his term to a pattern common to domestic abusers, who are known to escalate their violence in the weeks immediately following their victim’s severing of the relationship.

The comparisons have come under fire for creating what is seen as a false equivalence, or for supposedly trivializing political instability and constitutional crises with the language of domestic strife. But to recognize a pattern is not the same thing as drawing an equivalence, and AOC is correct in her observation that the rhetorical strategies used by Republicans – to deny their own wrongdoing, attack the victims seeking accountability, and to pretend that the true wrongdoing has been committed against them – are the same strategies deployed by other tyrants, be they political or domestic, seeking to uphold other unjust and dangerous systems of power. She went on to explain that she knew she would be ridiculed and disbelieved for her revelations, and that this, too, was part of the harm that the Republicans were doing to her – denying, and minimizing her experience. The disbelief and dismissal of those who have experienced trauma, she says, is its own, additional injustice.

H/T Mrs Fringe: decorative leaf bulletBonus episode: Inside the craziest meeting of the Trump presidency

For weeks now, ever since Rudy Giuliani had commandeered Trump’s floundering campaign to overturn the election, outsiders had been coming out of the woodwork to feed the president wild allegations of voter fraud based on highly dubious sources.

Trump was no longer focused on any semblance of a governing agenda, instead spending his days taking phone calls and meetings from anyone armed with conspiracy theories about the election. For the White House staff, it was an unending sea of garbage churned up by the bottom feeders.

decorative leaf bulletPoor handling of virus cost Trump his reelection, campaign autopsy finds

Former president Donald Trump lost the 2020 election largely due to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a post-election autopsy completed by Trump campaign pollster Tony Fabrizio.

The 27-page document shows that voters in 10 key states rated the pandemic as their top voting issue, and President Biden won higher marks on the topic. The report also indicates that Trump lost ground among key demographic groups he needed.

decorative leaf bulletDOJ Charges 3 More Men For Roles in Capitol Riot

Federal agents on Wednesday arrested a prominent member of the Seattle chapter of the Proud Boys, a nationalist, chauvinist organization, for his role in storming the U.S. Capitol with other pro-Trump rioters on Jan. 6.
Ethan Nordean, a self-described “sergeant of arms” for the Seattle Proud Boys, faces charges of impeding an official government proceeding, aiding and abetting, knowingly entering restricted grounds, and violent entry.
Separately, a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday indicted Nicholas DeCarlo and Nicholas R. Ochs for conspiracy to obstruct Congress, and other charges related to the insurrection. The indictment says Ochs purports to have founded of the Honolulu Proud Boys.
The U.S. Justice Department says all three men planned to overrun the Capitol in order to stop Congress’ certification of the 2020 electoral votes.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletBlack Lives Matter movement nominated for Nobel peace prize

decorative leaf bulletRead at Home and Reduce Your Fines The Los Angeles Public Library has a super program whereby patrons 21 and under with overdue fines can “read away” the fines by reading books and filling out a form. Every hour of reading removes $5.00 of fines. Brilliant idea; poorer patrons can’t pay fines, and often, can’t arrange to get to the library to return books. This is a win-win solution.

decorative leaf bullethttps://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2021/02/01/laurent-duvernay-tardif-coronavirus-super-bowl/His team is going to the Super Bowl. He’s staying on the coronavirus front lines.

decorative leaf bulletThe question I always ask other disabled people: did you ride horses?

Something Wonderful

decorative leaf bulletDinosaur footprint found by girl, four, on Barry beach

H/T Jeff Carlson: decorative leaf bulletGiant Pandas sliding in the snow at the National Zoo at the Smithsonian

Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.

Elsewhere for January 30, 2021

You should read this for 1/30/2021:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletJon Bon Jovi on wealth, love and his ugly tussle with Trump: ‘It was seriously scarring’

“I was really shocked at the depths [Trump] went to. He wasn’t even qualified to buy the team, because you have to submit your tax returns, and he never filed the paperwork. Instead, he did this dark shadow assassination thing, hoping to buy the team at a bargain basement price. But I just couldn’t understand how this misinformation was being put out there. It was seriously scarring,” Bon Jovi says, eyes wide.

Biden – Harris Begins

decorative leaf bulletRepublicans will try to create an ‘ethics’ trap for Democrats. Don’t fall for it

What we’re seeing at the dawn of the Biden presidency is not the reestablishment of norms, but the establishment of double standards.

Yes, it’s commendable that the incoming Democratic administration pledges to behave responsibly, but it’s far from guaranteed that future Republican administrations will do the same. In fact, as things currently stand, it’s practically guaranteed that they won’t.

decorative leaf bulletBiden Repeals Trump-Era Ban On Transgender Troops

Biden had campaigned on overturning former President Donald Trump’s ban. At his recent Senate confirmation hearing, Austin told lawmakers he supported the move.
“If you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve, and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve,” Austin said.

decorative leaf bulletSenate Confirms Antony Blinken As Secretary Of State

With bipartisan support, the Senate confirmed Antony Blinken as the new secretary of state on Tuesday. The final vote was 78-22.
Blinken, 58, was earlier approved overwhelmingly by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. . . .
Blinken has a long history with President Biden, previously serving as his adviser both in the White House and the Senate before becoming deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration.

decorative leaf bulletCalls Mount For President Biden To Shake Up Postal Service’s Leadership

There are three vacancies on the board of governors. Of the six men currently on the board, four are Republicans and two are Democrats — one whose term technically has expired but who can continue for another year. All were appointed by former President Donald Trump, and the law allows them to be removed for cause.

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletSeattle’s newest bookstore, Oh Hello Again, has a novel system: categorizing books by emotions

H/T Jeff Carlson: decorative leaf bulletThe man third in the line of presidential succession has been in five ‘Batman’ movies

“Entering Batman’s world through my imagination opened an early door into a lifelong love of reading,” he wrote in his foreword.

He’d continue spending hours at the library each day until adulthood, and even after he moved to Washington, he’d make time to pop in. He’s a vocal advocate for literacy and the preservation of libraries so children can have similarly formative experiences with books.

{Some of my fondest memories as a child were at the library, where everyone fit in and possibilities were limitless,” he writes on his Senate website.

H/T @Lymond: decorative leaf bulletA World of Figures: The Rhetoric of Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb” by Cass Morris:

I will not have found every device worth noting in this poem. I imagine that for decades to come, I will be able to return to it and unfold a little more of its intricate beauty. Amanda Gorman has a delightful grasp of rhythm and imagery and the awesome power of our language’s flexibility and potential complexities. And she’s only twenty-two. Mercy sweet heavens, I cannot wait to see what else she gives us.

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletMerck Stops Developing Both Of Its COVID-19 Vaccine Candidates

Merck is halting development of its two COVID-19 vaccine candidates, saying that while the drugs seemed to be safe, they didn’t generate enough of an immune response to effectively protect people against the coronavirus.

Results of Phase 1 clinical studies showed that the two vaccine candidates – known as V590 and V591 – “were generally well tolerated, but the immune responses were inferior to those seen following natural infection and those reported for other SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 vaccines,” Merck said in a statement about its decision

decorative leaf bulletSeattle’s newest bookstore, Oh Hello Again, has a novel system: categorizing books by emotions

decorative leaf bulletModerna Finds COVID-19 Vaccine Less Effective Against Variant Found In South Africa

Moderna says tests show its COVID-19 vaccine offers protection against new variants of the coronavirus, but that the drug is more effective against the variant first identified in the U.K. than one found in South Africa. As a result, Moderna will test booster doses of its vaccine – including one that would be tailored to fight strains that have recently emerged.

decorative leaf bulletWealthy couple chartered a plane to the Yukon, took vaccines doses meant for Indigenous elders, authorities said

See also: Canadian couple who got vaccine meant for Indigenous people may face jail time

decorative leaf bulletWhy N95 Masks Are Still In Short Supply In The U.S.

The Biden administration has invoked the Defense Production Act to prioritize production of N95s and other medical supplies. But even with those measures, U.S. hospitals remain worried about their supply of these medical masks — more formally called respirators — despite efforts by factories to churn out billions more.

The story of N95 production over the last year in many ways reflects shortages seen throughout the U.S. medical supply during the pandemic — from ventilators and exam gloves to syringes and vaccines. The demand is global and sustained, putting pressure on a fragile supply chain that remains stressed and unable to keep up.


Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletI’ll never forget the fish tacos I had in Mexico – here’s the recipe

Dressing a fish taco is an art. It requires time, patience and practice. Overload, and the ingredients will landslide down your front. Add too much spice and your morning is ruined. But carefully loaded and pinched between thumb and finger, a taco can be easily delivered to your mouth, bringing, with a first bite and gentle sucking, a moment of Baja bliss. The batter is light, the fish meaty; the cabbage has peppery crunch, the chipotle sauce is smoky and smooth. The red salsa provides just enough spice, trailed perfectly by a refreshing smack of lime juice.

decorative leaf bulletThe 20 best curry recipes

From Asma Khan’s saag paneer to Lopè Ariyo’s suya lamb, our exploration of the wider world of curry takes in recipes from south Asia, Nigeria and Japan

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletRemnants of mosque from earliest decades of Islam found in Israel

The foundations of the mosque, excavated just south of the Sea of Galilee by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, point to its construction roughly a generation after the death of the prophet Muhammad, making it one of the earliest Muslim houses of worship to be studied by archaeologists.

Politics and Society

decorative leaf bulletFatal Police Shootings Of Unarmed Black People Reveal Troubling Patterns

The deadly shooting of unarmed Black men and women by police officers in the U.S. has increasingly garnered worldwide attention over the last few years. The 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., sparked a week of protests that catapulted the Black Lives Matter movement into the national spotlight. Since then, tens of thousands of people across the country have taken to the streets to protest police brutality of Blacks by mostly white officers.

Since 2015, police officers have fatally shot at least 135 unarmed Black men and women nationwide, an NPR investigation has found. NPR reviewed police, court and other records to examine the details of the cases. At least 75% of the officers were white. The latest one happened earlier this month in Killeen, Texas, when Patrick Warren, Sr., 52, was fatally shot by an officer responding to a mental health call.

For at least 15 of the officers, like McMahon, the shootings were not their first — or their last, NPR found. They have been involved in two — sometimes three or more — shootings, often deadly and without consequences.

decorative leaf bulletSenate Democrats Have a Choice

Quite simply, Mitch McConnell is now using the filibuster to stop Democrats from becoming the Senate majority.

Yes, you heard that right. The Democrats won the Senate. But now Mitch McConnell is using the filibuster to stop them from taking it over and leading it. Without a new agreement, the Senate is still operating under the old Congress’s agreement, which means that all the committees are chaired by Republicans – a very big deal since all nominations go through committees first.

Freshman Senators like Warnock and Ossoff can’t even get their committee assignments yet.

decorative leaf bulletWhy McConnell Dumped Trump

Adam Jentleson, a former top Democratic Senate aide and the author of “Kill Switch,” a new book about the Senate, said, of McConnell, “He should be deservedly held accountable for spending more than a month giving credence to Trump’s claims of election fraud—on the Senate floor.” Jentleson added that McConnell, by failing to speak out earlier, had “offered legitimacy” to Trump’s war on the truth: “Other Republicans took their signals from McConnell and continued to fan the flames. You can blame the rioters, but the entire Republican Party was telling them their claims were legitimate.”

McConnell’s accusation that the insurrectionists had been “fed lies” was couched in the passive voice. It skipped over the fact that he hadn’t even acknowledged the outcome of the election himself until December 15th—six weeks after it took place, and following the Electoral College’s certification of Biden as the winner. McConnell, in a brief speech on the Senate floor, congratulated him, calling him “President-elect.” But McConnell did not publicly confront Trump’s continued denials that he had lost until after the January 5th runoff election in Georgia, in which the Democratic Party gained two Senate seats, giving it control of the Senate and toppling McConnell from his position as Majority Leader. By then, according to some polls, as many as eighty-two per cent of Republican voters believed Trump’s false claims of fraud, and when his enraged supporters gathered on the National Mall many of them were determined to use force to override the official election results. The ensuing assault and ransacking of the Capitol was not only the most serious attempt at an anti-democratic coup in the country’s history; it also deepened the crisis of the Republican Party. Additionally, it triggered the flight of a striking number of its major corporate backers—a development that, if it continues, could make it considerably harder for McConnell to retake the Senate in 2022.

decorative leaf bulletAfter objecting to the election results, Kevin McCarthy says all Americans bear responsibility for the deadly Capitol riot

As a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called in to ABC News from a secure location.

“As a nation, I know we sit back and we’re appalled by what we’re seeing,” McCarthy said. “But I want everybody to take a deep breath and understand: We all have some responsibility here.”

McCarthy was among the Republicans who had spread false claims of widespread presidential election fraud for weeks, which motivated the mob on Jan. 6.

You can watch what McCarthy has previously said about who bears responsibility for the Capitol siege in the video above.

In other words, he’s basically saying “Everybody else did it.” Which is, of course, yet anoter lie.

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletOfficials hail ‘encouraging’ number of north Atlantic right whale births

But Jane Davenport, the group’s senior attorney, warned that right whales had been experiencing an “unusual mortality event” since 2017, with 32 confirmed deaths in US and Canadian waters as well as 14 serious or non-survivable injuries.

“While these births are an encouraging sign, the continued threats underscore that we still have to redouble our efforts to protect these vulnerable babies and their mothers,” Davenport said.

“Right whales face a daily gauntlet of fishing ropes and speeding vessels, which together have caused the deaths of more than 200 right whales in the last decade alone. We’re killing right whales far faster than they can reproduce. Unless we move quickly to abate these threats, we’re running out of time to save the species from extinction.”

decorative leaf bulletFelines May Use Catnip for More Than Just Euphoria

Cat owners—and the kitty-obsessed internet—have observed felines go into a frenzy after rubbing and rolling against catnip, Nepeta cataria, when it is nearby. New research published this week in the journal Science Advances suggests that cats not only use catnip for a high but may also use it as protection against mosquitos.


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Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletBiden administration revives effort to put Harriet Tubman on $20 bill

The Biden administration will resume the process to replace President Andrew Jackson’s face on the note with famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during her Monday news briefing. A Treasury Department spokesperson confirmed the change.

There’s some particularly good reasons to replace Jackson, an unrepentant slave owner, with a formerly enslaved Black woman abolitionist. After gaining her own freedom, Tubman risked everything to return to the south 19 times and lead many other slaves to freedom.

decorative leaf bulletShe survived in the wild against all odds. I took her class to learn how

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰 Insurrection Leader 🤥🤥👖🔥

decorative leaf bulletWhat we know about Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election

decorative leaf bulletAfter Capitol riot, police chiefs work to root out officers with ties to extremist groups

The revelation that the Capitol mob — covered in emblems of extremist groups — included off-duty law enforcement officers possibly assisted by working police is escalating pressure on sheriffs and police chiefs nationwide to root out staff with ties to white supremacist and far-right armed groups.

Law enforcement leaders have faced criticism in the past for failing to police their own officers’ involvement with extremist groups. However, the selfie photos that off-duty officers took inside the Capitol during the violent siege, which left one police officer dead and dozens of others injured, were a wake-up call for many who have long denied the extent of the problem within policing.

. . .

More than a dozen off-duty law enforcement officers were allegedly part of the Jan. 6 mob and are under investigation, according to a Washington Post analysis using news accounts and police and FBI reports. At least a dozen Capitol Police officers are also under investigation for possibly playing a role in the rioting by assisting or encouraging the mob.

decorative leaf bulletInspector general will investigate whether any Justice Dept. officials improperly sought to help Trump overturn the election

The Justice Department’s inspector general announced Monday an investigation into whether any current or former department officials tried to improperly “alter the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election” — a broad review that follows the revelation that then-President Donald Trump considered replacing his acting attorney general with another appointee more amenable to his unfounded claims of voter fraud.

decorative leaf bulletThe GOP’s Marjorie Taylor Greene problem is spinning out of control

Tuesday’s new revelation is particularly pertinent — and ugly. CNN’s K-File reported that Greene’s Facebook feed featured several endorsements of violence against Democrats and federal agents. In one case, she liked a comment that said “a bullet to the head would be quicker” than removing Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) from her speakership. She also liked a comment about Pelosi that said “through removal or death, doesn’t matter, as long as she goes.” She responded to another commenter who suggested hanging former president Barack Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton by saying, “Stage is being set. Players are being put in place. We must be patient. This must be done perfectly or liberal judges would let them off.” She also liked comments suggesting execution for FBI agents who were viewed as working with the “deep state” against then-President Trump.

Via NPR Politics @nprpolitics: decorative leaf bullet

The union representing U.S. Capitol Police officers revealed that 140 USCP and D.C. Metro police officers were injured in the insurrection at the Capitol, including one officer who will lose his eye, and another who was stabbed with a metal fence stake.

. . .

“Unconscionable”: Capitol Police Union Says Leadership Failed Officers In Riot

The statement Wednesday from the Capitol Police Labor Committee comes a day after acting Chief Yogananda Pittman testified to Congress, saying in prepared remarks:

By January 4th, the Department knew that the January 6th event would not be like any of the previous protests held in 2020. We knew that militia groups and white supremacists organizations would be attending. We also knew that some of these participants were intending to bring firearms and other weapons to the event. We knew that there was a strong potential for violence and that Congress was the target.

Pittman, who apologized in her testimony for her department’s “failings” during the insurrection, told Congress that the former police chief, Steven Sund, had asked the Capitol Police Board, a three-member oversight body, on Jan. 4 to declare a state of emergency for Jan. 6 and to request National Guard assistance.

Pittman said the board denied both requests.

decorative leaf bullet‘A Hostage Situation Every Day’: Strategists Blame Trump For Georgia Senate Losses

In fact, according to sources close to the campaigns, people in and around the White House, including the president’s lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, also put near-constant pressure on the two Georgia Republicans, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, to shape their runoff campaigns around his demands.

“It was a hostage situation every day,” said one Republican strategist familiar with the campaigns who only agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity.

“We were always trying to guard against the Tweet [from Trump],” the strategist said.

“Every week we had some new sort of demand,” said another strategist involved with the campaigns. “Calling for the hand recount. The signature match. A special session. $2,000 [coronavirus relief] checks. Objecting to the electors.”

“It was, ‘If you do not do this, the president will actively work against you and you will lose,'” he recalled.

decorative leaf bullet‘The perfect target’: Russia cultivated Trump as asset for 40 years – ex-KGB spy

Then, in 1987, Trump and Ivana visited Moscow and St Petersburg for the first time. Shvets said he was fed by KGB talking points and flattered by KGB operatives who floated the idea that he should go into the politics.

The ex-major recalled: “For the KGB, it was a charm offensive. They had collected a lot of information on his personality so they knew who he was personally. The feeling was that he was extremely vulnerable intellectually, and psychologically, and he was prone to flattery.

decorative leaf bullet‘Brazen, entitled, dangerous’: D.C. judge jails man photographed in Pelosi’s office

Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell repeatedly described Richard Barnett, 60, of Gravette, Ark., as “entitled,” “brazen” and “a braggart.” In her first public remarks related to the events at the Capitol, she said Barnett “showed a total disregard for the law” and “total disregard for the U.S. Constitution.”

Barnett is charged with entering the Capitol violently with a dangerous weapon — a stun gun — and stealing government property — a piece of mail from the Democratic leader’s office that he displayed in interviews outside the building. He identified himself to the New York Times as an intruder in Pelosi’s office during the breach. . . . Howell described the charges against Barnett as “in some ways too benign-sounding to fairly describe what happened,” which is “destined to go down in the history books in this country.” In an incredulous, angry tone, she read from a vulgar letter Barnett left on the desk, which belongs to a member of Pelosi’s staff.

“Wow,” the judge added. “Brazen, entitled, dangerous.”

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletCovid sea shanty video goes viral for Isle of Wight grandad

A singer has become an unlikely internet star at the age of 82 with his recording of a sea shanty aimed at encouraging people to have the coronavirus vaccine.
Martyn Waitt, from the Isle of Wight, wrote and recorded a version of The Wellerman with his granddaughter and posted it on TikTok where it has been viewed more than 450,000 times.

decorative leaf bulletBlaydon Races: Dementia patient’s daughter thanks Geordies See also: Blaydon Races: US carers play Geordie song for Newcastle patient

decorative leaf bullet‘I refused to let them intimidate me’: the untold stories of LGBT+ seniors

Not Another Second, an exhibition in New York City which tells the stories of a dozen LGBT+ senior citizens who tell their own coming out stories. Each photographic portrait and video interview is marked with a number, like “16 years”, representing the time they lost to staying in the closet, based on societal expectations of the past.

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Something Wonderful

BBC Video: decorative leaf bulletDeer herd crossing Hertfordshire countryside captured on camera

Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.

Elsewhere for January 24,2021

You should read this for 1/24/2021:

If you read nothing else, read this: Donald Trump’s new reality

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletGaze in wonder at this astonishingly high-res scan of an iconic painting

For the past hour, I’ve been avoiding work by browsing this amazingly high-resolution scan of Johannes Vermeer’s iconic Girl with a Pearl Earring. With a total resolution of 93,205 x 108,565, PetaPixel notes the scan is believed to be the first 10 billion pixel panorama ever created, allowing you to zoom in close enough to turn the tiniest flecks of paint into puddles and minuscule cracks into crevasses. The scan appears to have been posted online early last year.

Biden Begins

Here’s What Biden Plans To Do In His 1st Day As President

decorative leaf bulletStatement from President Biden and Vice President Harris on the 48th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bullet

decorative leaf bulletNO BOOK DEALS FOR TRAITORS Over 300 publishing professionals have signed; editors, authors, reviewers, agents.

decorative leaf bulletAfter Capitol Riot Backlash, Sen. Josh Hawley’s Book Will Hit Shelves In May

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., has a new publisher for his book The Tyranny of Big Tech. Simon & Schuster dropped the title after the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, saying Hawley played a role in fomenting the mob attack that threatened House and Senate members.

Here’s a great book to boycott. It’s a stupid premise, written by someone who doesn’t know anything about tech, who fomented insurrection.

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletNursing home staffers attended a 300-person superspreader wedding. Now six residents have died.

Now, health officials say the wedding also included some guests whose job is caring for among the most vulnerable to coronavirus: nursing-home residents. At least six residents have now died of covid-19 at two nursing homes where staffers tested positive for the virus after attending the wedding, the local department announced in a Thursday news release.

decorative leaf bullet4,400 Moderna Vaccine Doses Not Kept Cold Enough May Be Unusable

Maine health officials discovered that a majority of Moderna vaccine shipments received across the state on Monday were not kept adequately cold during transport, meaning 4,400 doses may have to be thrown out.
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, made the announcement during a “sad and somber” coronavirus briefing on Tuesday and said the problem extends to other states as well.
Shah said 35 of the 50 sites that received the vaccine a day earlier reported that “the thermometer on the outside of the boxes … showed that at some point the required minimum temperature had been exceeded.”

decorative leaf bulletReport: Biden Admin Discovers Trump Had Zero Plans For COVID Vaccine Distribution

decorative leaf bulletU.S. Will Remain In WHO, Fauci Announces, As Biden Reverses Trump Move

decorative leaf bulletAfter Sparring With Trump, Fauci Says Biden Administration Feels ‘Liberating’

Fauci was a fixture at White House coronavirus briefings early on in the pandemic, but was noticeably absent after publicly contradicting Trump. Last November, the former president publicly implied he was considering removing the doctor from his coronavirus task force.
“Obviously I don’t want to be going back over history, but it was very clear that there were things that were said — be it regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things like that — that really was uncomfortable because they were not based on scientific fact,” Fauci said Thursday at a White House press briefing.

decorative leaf bulletStill going to the grocery store? With new virus variants spreading, it’s probably time to stop.<

“Shopping for five minutes in the grocery store is a lot better — six times better — than shopping for 30 minutes,” said Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since the odds of becoming infected rise the longer you’re exposed. “Picking up groceries at the curbside is even better, and having them delivered is even better still.” (If you’re able to get groceries delivered or pick up curbside, it will also help reduce the number of people in stores, potentially cutting the risk for essential workers or shoppers who can’t order online.) . . . When you do have to be around other people, use a mask — but not just any mask. The other lesson of the new variants, Frieden told Vox, is that we need to get better at masking.
“The fact that [the variants] are so infectious suggests to me having a better mask is a good idea,” Frieden said. When it comes to avoiding an infection, “a surgical mask is better than a cloth mask, a tight-fitting surgical mask is better than a loose-fitting mask, and an N95 is better than a surgical mask.”



decorative leaf bulletEssex academic’s imposter ‘copied work and tattoos’

The 40-year-old said the imposter, who was studying for a masters degree in the US, used a variety of fake identities to get him to send over unpublished research.
He said the student then submitted the work as his own and presented it at conferences.
“He also dressed like me, posed for photos matched to ones of me, told people he had done things that I’d done, and most scarily of all, copied my hand tattoos exactly,” Dr Lodder posted on Twitter.

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletKeeping Warm the Roman Way This Getty blog post has one of the best pictures exposing the hypocaust heating system of a Roman house that I’ve ever seen.

Science and Nature

‘One of a kind’: calls to protect Alabama’s 60,000-year-old underwater forest

When divers jump into a particular stretch of water off the coast of Alabama, they travel back to a time before humans arrived in the new world.
Submerged below the waters are the remains of a cypress tree forest that grew 60,000 years ago, but was inundated by the Gulf of Mexico and preserved from decomposition beneath sediment. Nothing like Alabama’s underwater forest, in terms of age or scale, has ever been found.


decorative leaf bulletAfter the Editorial Board called on Sen. Ron Johnson to either resign or be expelled from office for his role in spreading disinformation about the presidential election, the senator asked for space to respond. We are providing him that courtesy today. We also are taking the rare step of footnoting Johnson’s commentary to provide additional context so that readers have a fuller understanding of the senator’s actions.

decorative leaf bulletThe Ignominious Deceits of Congressman Cawthorn

Throughout his short but meteoric political career, Cawthorn has used his disability to tell a story of overcoming: Despite great adversity, he claims to have achieved excellence through grit and physical strength. Many of his campaign ads featured images of Cawthorn intubated and hospitalized alongside videos of him lifting weights and hurtling forward in a racing wheelchair. But his claims of sporting success—like his accounts of education and business acumen—have often been misleading.


decorative leaf bulletTwitter to hand over White House accounts to Biden: What you need to know

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Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletKatie Porter is off the House Financial Services Committee. We’re all worse off for it.

When Democrats took back the House of Representatives in 2018, a number of the freshman representatives quickly emerged as media stars. One was Katie Porter, who used her platform on the Financial Services Committee to highlight the ways in which the banking and finance industries could take advantage of Americans.

Over the past two years, Porter (D-Calif.) schooled JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon — who earns tens of millions of dollars annually — on the realities of how a teller at one of his banks could not get by earning $16.50 an hour. She also revealed that Kathy Kraninger, the thoroughly unqualified Trump appointee charged with protecting Americans’ personal finances as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, couldn’t define an annual interest rate or explain how it works. . . . If you are an American desperately seeking help with your finances and looking for someone, anyone in Washington to listen, arcane congressional protocols are the least of your concerns. You want a champion. You want a Katie Porter.

decorative leaf bulletJudi Dench: ‘In my mind’s eye I’m six foot and willowy and about 39’

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰 The Cult of Donald J. Trump and Mob Rule 🤥🤥👖🔥

decorative leaf bullet‘I am not a terrorist’: Retired Navy SEAL speaks after Capitol siege

The video shows Adam Newbold, 45, from Lisbon, Ohio, who the Navy confirmed is a retired reserve SEAL special warfare operator, in a car on his return home from Washington, telling his Facebook followers that he was “proud” of the assault on the U.S. Capitol building earlier that day.

decorative leaf bulletNew Mexico County Commissioner Arrested in DC for Involvement in Capitol Riot

A New Mexico county official and founder of the group Cowboys for Trump who had vowed to return to Washington after last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol to place a flag on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk has been arrested Sunday by the FBI. According to court documents, Griffin told investigators that he was “caught up” in the crowd, which pushed its way through the barricades and entered the restricted area of the U.S. Capitol, but he said he did not enter the building and instead remained on the U.S. Capitol steps.

A video posted to Griffin’s personal Facebook page shows Griffin in the restricted areas, according to the affidavit.

On Thursday, Griffin said he planned to travel with firearms to Washington, D.C., for Biden’s inauguration.

decorative leaf bulletHundreds of Parler videos from Capitol riot republished in chronological timeline

decorative leaf bulletFBI moves on alleged members of extremist groups Oath Keepers, Three Percenters

Schaffer was charged with six counts, including engaging in an act of physical violence. Authorities said Schaffer was among the rioters who targeted U.S. Capitol Police with bear spray.  . . Also charged in a court filing made public Sunday was Robert Gieswein, 24, of Cripple Creek, Colo. Court papers say that Gieswein is affiliated with an Oath Keepers-related extremist group called the Three Percenters, and that he assaulted federal officers outside the Capitol with bear spray and a baseball bat; “encouraged other rioters as they broke a window of the Capitol building; entered … and then charged through the Capitol building.”  . .  Gieswein gave a media interview in which he echoed anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, the affidavit said, and said his message to Congress was “that they need to get the corrupt politicians out of office. Pelosi, the Clintons … every single one of them, Biden, Kamala.”  . . [also arrrested were] Watkins and Crowl were among about 10 individuals recorded at the U.S. Capitol wearing combat helmets, ballistic goggles, tactical vests and Oath Keepers patches who “move[d] in an organized and practiced fashion and force[d] their way to the front of the crowd” to lead the siege and break-in, FBI affidavits said.

decorative leaf bulletRioter Charged With Assaulting Officer In Incident Captured On Viral Video

decorative leaf bulletNearly 1 In 5 Defendants In Capitol Riot Cases Served In The Military

As a violent mob descended on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, lawmakers and aides hid wherever they could, waiting for military and police to arrive. But many of those who stormed the Capitol were military veterans themselves, who had once sworn to protect the Constitution. In fact, an NPR analysis has found that nearly one in five people charged for their alleged involvement in the attack on the U.S. Capitol appears to have a military history.

decorative leaf bulletTrumps Fired WH Chief Usher On Their Way Out The Door

“The Trumps sent the butlers home when they left so there would be no one to help the Bidens when they arrived,” one unnamed source, described as “a well-placed official not associated with the incoming Biden team,” told the latter publication.

decorative leaf bulletSelf-styled militia members planned on storming the U.S. Capitol days in advance of Jan. 6 attack, court documents say

Self-styled militia members from Virginia, Ohio and other states made plans to storm the U.S. Capitol days in advance of the Jan. 6 attack, and then communicated in real time as they breached the building on opposite sides and talked about hunting for lawmakers, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

While authorities have charged more than 100 individuals in the riot, details in the new allegations against three U.S. military veterans offer a disturbing look at what they allegedly said to one another before, during and after the attack — statements that indicate a degree of preparation and determination to rush deep into the halls and tunnels of Congress to make “citizens’ arrests” of elected officials.

decorative leaf bulletOrganizers of Trump Rally Had Been on Campaign’s Payroll

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign paid more than $2.7 million over two years to individuals and firms that organized the Jan. 6 rally that led to rioters storming the U.S. Capitol, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The payments, which span Trump’s re-election campaign, show an ongoing financial relationship between the rally’s organizers and Trump’s political operation. They were all made through Nov. 23, the most recent date covered by Federal Election Commission filings, which is before the rally was publicly announced.

decorative leaf bulletUS man charged with threatening to ‘assassinate’ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

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Something Wonderful

decorative leaf bulletA female Red-bellied Woodpecker stops by for a peanut.

Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.

Elsewhere for January 17, 2021

You should read this for 1/17/2021:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletUm, It Makes Total Sense We’re All Into Sea Shanties Now See also: The Scottish postman behind ‘Sea Shanty TikTok’ The true story behind the viral TikTok sea shanty hit

decorative leaf bulletWorld’s oldest known cave painting found in Indonesia “Picture of wild pig made at least 45,500 years ago provides earliest evidence of human settlement”

decorative leaf bulletA Caveman Encased in Ice Has Appeared In a Minneapolis Park

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bulletLongtime Diplomat William Burns Is Biden’s Pick To Lead CIA

President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate veteran diplomat William Burns to be the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Burns, 64, is a former U.S. ambassador to Russia and Jordan. As a career foreign service office, he worked under Democratic and Republican presidents. He was deputy secretary of state during the Obama years, but he left the State Department in 2014 to run the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank.

decorative leaf bulletBiden, a longtime ally of police, will enter White House pushing for reform

decorative leaf bulletBiden’s ambitious LGBT agenda poises him to be nation’s most pro-equality president in history

decorative leaf bulletFact-checking Biden’s speech on his coronavirus economic relief plan

President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday night announced his nearly $2 trillion economic plan to deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. There were five factual claims he made that caught our interest.

When we queried the Biden-Harris transition team, we received citations for each factoid within 15 minutes — setting a standard for a response that we hope is maintained. The Trump White House, of course, rarely responded to such queries, generally because the president’s claims almost never could be supported.

decorative leaf bulletJoe Biden names scientific advisers and seeks to bring Eric Lander into cabinet

Joe Biden has named the geneticist Eric Lander as his top scientific adviser and will elevate the position to the cabinet for the first time, a move meant to indicate a decisive break from Donald Trump’s treatment of science.

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bullet‘There’s an art to it’: with one sold every 10 seconds, what’s Mills & Boon’s secret?

The writing of the novels is not as straightforward or formulaic as some might imagine. “There is an art to it. There isn’t a formula,” said Sharon Kendrick, a writer of more than 100 Mills & Boon novels with sales of 27m books. “There’s an art to it”: Sharon Kendrick has written more than 100 Mills & Boon books. Photograph: Harper Collins
She said: “People assume that because they are quite easy to read, they are quite easy to write. Believe me, they are not. You want to get it right and it is quite a challenge … It’s not the story; it’s the telling of the story, which you want to make powerful and compelling.”

decorative leaf bulletHundreds in publishing sign letter objecting to book deals for the Trump administration

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletDoes vitamin D combat Covid?

decorative leaf bulletLawmakers may have been exposed to the coronavirus in Capitol lockdown, attending physician says

decorative leaf bulletDiscover the First Illustrated Book Printed in English, William Caxton’s Mirror of the World (1481)

decorative leaf bulletVaccine reserve was already exhausted when Trump administration vowed to release it, dashing hopes of expanded access

When Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced this week that the federal government would begin releasing coronavirus vaccine doses held in reserve for second shots, no such reserve existed, according to state and federal officials briefed on distribution plans.

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletPongal is comfort food for south India’s harvest season – plus the recipe

I stand in my kitchen, in the liminal light between dreams and dawn, trying to contain my delight. Normally, I am a late and grouchy riser but today is Pongal – the harvest festival celebrated across southern India, particularly Tamil Nadu, in mid-January – which gives me the opportunity to eat its namesake food, one that I love.

There are two kinds of pongal: a sweet one made with jaggery (palm sugar) and this savoury ven (white) pongal, a simple dish made with rice and split mung dal. It is a study in restraint, unusual for India and almost Japanese in its minimal use of spices. Heartier than porridge, it is a vegetarian’s chicken soup, the epitome of comfort food. When served along with idlis (steamed rice dumplings) and dosas (thin, crispy pancakes), it forms a perfect south Indian breakfast.

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletFaces of ‘Siberian Tutankhamun’ and his ‘Queen’ buried 2,600 years ago reconstructed by science

The Arzhan-2 burial of the Scythian ‘King’ and the ‘Queen’, found in 1997 and studied between 2001-2003 by Russian-German expedition is one the most extraordinary discoveries ever made by archeologists.
Now for the first time the features of the powerful couple buried in their gold-encrusted, awe-inspiring clothing can be seen in life-like sculptures thanks to work of Moscow Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, and Novosibirsk Institute of Archeology and Ethnography.
Two teams of anthropologists spent months meticulously building 3d models of the skulls, using laser scanning and photogrammetry to then re-create the faces of the people that ruled vast sways of steppes and mountains at the time when the Great Pyramids were getting built in Egypt.

decorative leaf bulletThe Ongoing Tale of Sutton Hoo

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletFeast Your Eyes on New Photos of the ‘Grand Canyon of Mars’


Arnold Schwarzenegger: decorative leaf bulletMy message to my fellow Americans and friends around the world following this week’s attack on the Capitol.

decorative leaf bulletA small group of sleuths had been identifying right-wing extremists long before the attack on the Capitol

“I was not super politically active prior to that,” Conger said. “I was very invested in my job and had my head down and things just got progressively worse until someone got murdered by a Nazi in my neighborhood. This is not a couple of guys on 4chan. These are people who were willing to come together in real life and do real violence. That sort of changes your perspective. So now my life is about making it a little bit harder to be a Nazi online.” . . . The goal is not to bring physical harm or harassment upon the doxed, she says; she doesn’t post addresses, phone numbers or names of loved ones. The goal is humiliation and the accountability that comes with it.

“I’m interested in disincentivizing this behavior,” Conger said. “I’m interested in raising the cost of being a white nationalist, raising the cost of being a Nazi, raising the cost of making these threats anonymously online, and making it clear that these people are not as hard to find as they think they are.”

decorative leaf bulletCanada considers adding Proud Boys to terrorist list alongside Isis and al-Qaida

Canada’s public safety minister said his office is closely watching the Proud Boys and the “ideologically-motivated violent extremists” within the group.

“They are white supremacists, antisemitics, Islamophobic, misogynist groups. They’re all hateful, they’re all dangerous,” public safety minister Bill Blair told CTV News over the weekend. “We’re working very diligently to ensure that where the evidence is available, where we have the intelligence, that we’ll deal appropriately with those organizations.”

decorative leaf bulletWhy Billions In Food Aid Hasn’t Gotten To Needy Families


decorative leaf bulletHow a Bunch of Lava Lamps Protect Us From Hackers

Here’s how it works. Every time you log in to any website, you’re assigned a unique identification number. It should be random, because if hackers can predict the number, they’ll impersonate you. Computers, relying as they do on human-coded patterns, can’t generate true randomness—but nobody can predict the goopy mesmeric swirlings of oil, water, and wax. Cloudflare films the lamps 24/7 and uses the ever-changing arrangement of pixels to help create a superpowered cryptographic key. “Anything that the camera captures gets incorporated into the randomness,” says Nick Sullivan, the company’s head of cryptography, and that includes visitors milling about and light streaming through the windows. (Any change in heat subtly affects the undulations of those glistening globules.)
Sure, theoretically, bad guys could sneak their own camera into Cloudflare’s lobby to capture the same scene, but the company’s prepared for such trickery. It films the movements of a pendulum in its London office and records the measurements of a Geiger counter in Singapore to add more chaos to the equation. Crack that, Russians.

decorative leaf bulletThese are the platforms that have banned Trump and his allies

decorative leaf bulletSome Thoughts On Twitter Pulling The Plug On Trump’s Account

decorative leaf bulletWho Decides What Stays On The Internet?

decorative leaf bulletEverything Pundits Are Getting Wrong About This Current Moment In Content Moderation

decorative leaf bulletA Parler archive is being converted into an interactive map of the Capitol building attack

A developer going by the name of Patr10tic has created an interactive map using GPS metadata and videos from the app Parler to offer a glimpse of what was happening inside and around the Capitol building during the violent protest on January 6th (via Motherboard).
The project is an expansion on similar maps like the one Gizmodo created to illustrate just how many Parler users were part of the mob that occupied the Capitol building, based off an archive created by a researcher known as @donk_enby. Patr10tic’s map (currently named “Y’all Qaeda”) uses the same archive and connects GPS coordinates with actual video, offering a map of red icons placed around the Capitol for each associated video post.

decorative leaf bulletBumble removes political filter amid search for Capitol rioters on the app

On January 7, the day after the riot, Foreign Policy for America NextGen Initiative Co-Chair Alia Awadallah noticed an uptick of MAGA-lovers on dating apps.”There are DOZENS of men on DC dating apps right now who were clearly here for the insurrection attempt yesterday,” Awadallah tweeted. “Some say it directly, others are obvious from MAGA clothing, location tags, etc.”
Immigration attorney Allison Norris replied to Awadallah’s tweet, saying a friend-of-a-friend changed her political affiliation on Bumble to conservative in order to find potential rioters and alert the FBI

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Women’s Work

Book excerpt: decorative leaf bulletFemale Athletes Need to See Puberty as a Power Not A Weakness

decorative leaf bulletNew Documentary Sisters with Transistors Tells the Story of Electronic Music’s Female Pioneers

decorative leaf bulletExperience: I drink more than 50 cups of tea a day

💩🔥💰 Donald J. Trump Chief Promulgator of Insurrection 🤥🤥👖🔥

Hilary Clinton called it on Friday September 9, 2016 at an LGBT fundraiser:

decorative leaf bulletRead Hillary Clinton’s ‘Basket of Deplorables’ Remarks About Donald Trump Supporters

“We are living in a volatile political environment. You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now how 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric.

Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America. But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroine, feel like they’re in a dead-end.

Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.

decorative leaf bulletWhat We Know So Far: A Timeline Of Security Response At The Capitol On Jan. 6

H/T John Gruber’s Daring Fireball: Kieran Healy: decorative leaf bulletWhat Happened? I think Kieran is absolutely right in this speculative post about 🤥🤥👖🔥’s insurrection spree.

I don’t know what happened. But here’s my current theory of what the White House thought was going to happen.

. . .

From the White House’s point of view, the crowd was not actually supposed to get inside the Capitol. The MAGA/Q contingent are the useful marks in all this. They believe all the crap they’re fed. But obviously they’re not going to get into the building. It’s the US Capitol for God’s sake! The very idea that the rush of events would propel them right into the chambers was not something the White House wanted to happen, or thought was going to happen.
Of course, before the rally some of the actually dangerous Q-marinated nutters absolutely did want to get inside the building, find Pence, and Pelosi, and the rest, and literally take them hostage and string them up.

. . .

They thought things would go as protests outside the Capitol usually go, and as their rallies usually go. The crowd would serve as a loud prop. The really dangerous people would be diluted by the rank and file and kept out by the Capitol Police in any case. There would be a great deal of immediate drama and a great deal immediately at stake. Trump loves his crowd, but he has no tolerance at all for the individuals who make it up. As soon as they got inside the building and resolved once more into identifiable individuals, Trump was reportedly and unsurprisingly grossed out by all the “low class” stuff he was seeing. What he envisioned, I think, was a mass of adoring supporters at the very gates of the Capitol, expressing their love and loyalty for him, and together, they would make Congress capitulate to their will.

Robert Reich: decorative leaf bulletTrump attempted a coup: he must be removed while those who aided him pay

That the attempted coup failed shouldn’t blind us to its significance or the stain it has left on America. Nor to the importance of holding those responsible fully accountable.

Trump’s culpability is beyond dispute.

“There’s no question the president formed the mob, the president incited the mob, the president addressed the mob. He lit the flame,” said Elizabeth Cheney, the No3 House Republican.

Trump should be impeached, convicted and removed from office – immediately. . . . . Trump’s accomplices on Capitol Hill, most notably the Texas senator Ted Cruz and Missouri senator Josh Hawley, should be forced to resign.

Knowing Trump’s allegations of voting fraud were false, Cruz and Hawley led the move to exclude Biden electors – even after the storming of the Capitol – thereby lending Trump’s claims credibility.
The United States constitution says “no Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress” who “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the constitution, “or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof”.

Via Terry Bouton @TerryBoutonHist: decorative leaf bulletMy wife and I attended the “Stop the Steal” Trump Insurrection on Wednesday (as observers, NOT participants) and there are FIVE big take-aways from what we witnessed and heard outside the Capitol that I’d like to share. (We took all the pictures below). 1/22

We eavesdropped on conversations for hours and no one expressed the slightest concern about the large number of white supremacists and para-military spewing violent rhetoric. Even the man in the “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt wasn’t beyond the pale. They were all “patriots.” 4/22 . . . 2) There is no doubt the Capitol was left purposefully understaffed as far as law enforcement and there was no federal effort to provide support even as things turned very dark. This contrasts sharply with all of other major protests we have attended. 6/22 . . . I am convinced that if Congress doesn’t act to do something about this quickly, these people are going to keep going and the unrest and violence will get more widespread and more uncontrollable. This is a crisis. It’s real. It’s happening. It must be taken seriously. 22/22

decorative leaf bulletEx-Capitol Police Chief Says Requests For National Guard Denied 6 Times In Riots

The former chief of U.S. Capitol Police says security officials at the House and Senate rebuffed his early requests to call in the National Guard ahead of a demonstration in support of President Trump that turned into a deadly attack on Congress.

Former chief Steven Sund — who resigned his post last week after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for him to step down — made the assertions in an interview with The Washington Post published Sunday.

Sund contradicts claims made by officials after Wednesday’s assault on Capitol Hill. Sund’s superiors said previously that the National Guard and other additional security support could have been provided, but no one at the Capitol requested it.

Sund told the Post that House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving was concerned with the “optics” of declaring an emergency ahead of the protests and rejected a National Guard presence. He says Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger recommended that he informally request the Guard to be ready in case it was needed to maintain security.

Like Sund, Irving and Stenger have also since resigned their posts.
Sund says he requested assistance six times ahead of and during the attack on the Capitol. Each of those requests was denied or delayed, he says.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser also wanted a light police presence at the Capitol. She reportedly wanted to avoid a similar scenario as last summer, when federal forces responded to demonstrators opposed to police abuses who assembled near the White House.

decorative leaf bulletThe Capitol mob: a raging collection of grievances and disillusionment “Drawn by Trump, the rioters came from all over, angered by masks, lockdowns and the election.”

Those who made their way to the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday hail from at least 36 states, along with the District of Columbia and Canada, according to a Washington Post list of over 100 people identified as being on the scene of the Capitol. Their professions touch nearly every facet of American society: lawyers, local lawmakers, real estate agents, law enforcement officers, military veterans, construction workers, hair stylists and nurses. Among the crowd were devout Christians who highlighted Bible verses, adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory and members of documented hate groups, including white nationalist organizations and militant right-wing organizations, such as the Proud Boys.
The list is just a limited cross section of the thousands of people who descended upon the area, yet some striking commonalities are hard to ignore. Almost all on the list whose race could be readily identified are White. Most are men, yet about one in six were women — also almost all White.

Like Graham, 47-year-old construction worker Pete Harding said he was drawn to the Capitol by his disdain for restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Until last year, the Upstate New York resident said he had largely confined his strong political opinions to the Internet, describing himself as just a “keyboard warrior.”

That’s all changed now, in radical fashion. The first days of 2021 found him — by his own account — charging through the chemical irritants that Capitol Police meant to deter him from entering the U.S. Capitol, rambling through the building, and then attempting to set fire to journalists’ equipment outside.

decorative leaf bulletVideo shows Capitol mob dragging police officer down stairs. One rioter beat the officer with a pole flying the U.S. flag.

The video adds a new layer of evidence documenting the violence that pro-Trump rioters unleashed during the attempted insurrection at the Capitol, where overrun police tried to protect the federal building. One U.S. Capitol Police officer, Brian D. Sicknick, suffered injures in the incident and later died, and more than 50 other police officers were hurt. One rioter was fatally shot by police, and three other people died following medical emergencies.

decorative leaf bulletWhy Josh Hawley is atop the list of GOP lawmakers getting backlash over the Capitol riots

Hawley has become a symbol of how far the Republican Party went to stay in the good graces of outgoing President Trump’s supporters. And his critics, both on the left and a growing number in his own party, see Hawley’s positions in particular as dangerous. He’s lost major donors and supporters and a book deal; his home state newspaper said he had “blood on his hands”; and at least one Democratic senator has called on Hawley to resign.
Here’s exactly why Hawley is being singled out.

decorative leaf bulletTwo Capitol Police Officers Suspended For Actions During Rioters’ Attack On Capitol

Two Capitol Police officers have been suspended in connection with last week’s fatal riot at the Capitol by protesters loyal to President Trump, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, said.

One of the suspended officers took a selfie with a rioter. The other donned a MAGA hat and “started directing people around,” Ryan said.

Ryan chairs the House subcommittee that is investigating the police response to last week’s riot. He also said that about 10-15 other Capitol Police officers were under investigation. He provided no specifics.

decorative leaf bulletTrump’s nonprofit inaugural committee improperly paid a $49,000 bill incurred by his company, D.C. attorney general alleges Trump the deadbeat:

resident Trump’s private business failed to pay a $49,000 hotel bill incurred during Trump’s 2017 inaugural — and then, after the bill went to a collections agency, Trump’s nonprofit inaugural committee agreed to pay the charge instead, according to a new filing from the D.C. attorney general. . . . On Monday, Racine added an allegation to that suit. He said the president’s inaugural committee — a tax-exempt charity — had improperly paid a bill it did not owe, using nonprofit funds to pay a bill owed by a for-profit business.

decorative leaf bulletWhat Trump said before his supporters stormed the Capitol, annotated

decorative leaf bulletFBI report warned of ‘war’ at Capitol, contradicting claims there was no indication of looming violence

A day before rioters stormed Congress, an FBI office in Virginia issued an explicit internal warning that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and “war,” according to an internal document reviewed by The Washington Post that contradicts a senior official’s declaration the bureau had no intelligence indicating anyone at last week’s pro-Trump protest planned to do harm.

A situational information report approved for release the day before the U.S. Capitol riot painted a dire portrait of dangerous plans, including individuals sharing a map of the complex’s tunnels, and possible rally points for would-be conspirators to meet up in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and South Carolina and head in groups to Washington. . . . Multiple law enforcement officials have said privately in recent days that the level of violence exhibited at the Capitol has led to difficult discussions within the FBI and other agencies about race, terrorism, and whether investigators failed to register the degree of danger because the overwhelming majority of the participants at the rally were White conservatives fiercely loyal to the President Trump.

decorative leaf bulletCheney Will Vote To Impeach: ‘There Has Never Been A Greater Betrayal By A President’

In a significant move, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., chair of the House Republican Conference, says she will vote to impeach President Trump, making her the first member of House GOP leadership to publicly announce support of impeachment.  . . . “The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing.”

The No. 3 Republican in the House added: “None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

Cheney is joined by Republican colleagues

Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Rep. John Katko of New York.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the President of the United States broke his oath of office and incited this insurrection,” Kinzinger wrote in a statement. “So in assessing the articles of impeachment brought before the House, I must consider: if these actions – the Article II branch inciting a deadly insurrection against the Article I branch – are not worthy of impeachment, then what is an impeachable offense?” . . . Katko also released a statement on Tuesday saying, “It cannot be ignored that President Trump encouraged this insurrection.”

“To allow the President of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy. For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action” he said.

decorative leaf bulletThe President Deliberately Withheld Aid to Combat the Insurrection

After it became clear that his insurrectionist supporters had breached the Capitol entrances and were storming the Capitol complex, the President willfully refused to provide the relief only he could provide. This would have been a clear order for his insurrectionist supporters to stand down and clear the building, which only he could give, and military and law enforcement assistance that only he as Command-in-Chief could authorize.

decorative leaf bulletA ‘Stop the Steal’ organizer, now banned by Twitter, said three GOP lawmakers helped plan his D.C. rally

Alexander, who organized the “Stop the Steal” movement, said he hatched the plan — coinciding with Congress’s vote to certify the electoral college votes — alongside three GOP lawmakers: Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Mo Brooks (Ala.) and Paul A. Gosar (Ariz.), all hard-line Trump supporters.

“We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” Alexander said in a since-deleted video on Periscope highlighted by the Project on Government Oversight, an investigative nonprofit. The plan, he said, was to “change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body, hearing our loud roar from outside.” . . . Videos and posts on social media suggest links between all three Republicans and the right-wing activist.

decorative leaf bulletA House Republican wanted proof of incitement. Here are four rioters who came to D.C. because of Trump.

decorative leaf bulletThe $3,000-a-month toilet for the Ivanka Trump/Jared Kushner Secret Service detail

Instructed not to use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple’s house, the Secret Service detail assigned to President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law spent months searching for a reliable restroom to use on the job, according to neighbors and law enforcement officials. After resorting to a porta-potty, as well as bathrooms at the nearby home of former president Barack Obama and the not-so-nearby residence of Vice President Pence, the agents finally found a toilet to call their own. But it came at a cost to U.S. taxpayers. Since September 2017, the federal government has been spending $3,000 a month — more than $100,000 to date — to rent a basement studio, with a bathroom, from a neighbor of the Kushner family.

decorative leaf bulletFailed screenwriter outed as QAnon influencer used conspiracy to carry out personal vendettas

An investigation conducted by Logically, a fact-checking technology company, discovered that “Neon Revolt,” a major online personality in the world of the right-wing conspiracy theory QAnon, is really an aspiring writer named Robert Cornero Jr.

Cornero’s uncovering as a major formerly-anonymous QAnon personality has also shined a light on another aspect: as a major QAnon influencer, Cornero created new conspiracy theories revolving around people he had grudges against in the film industry, effectively weaponizing his followers to satisfy his own personal vendettas.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletNew Zealand city closes busy road for weeks to protect sea lion mother and pup

decorative leaf bulletUpset by veterans who stormed the Capitol, these vets decided to clean up trash the mob left on the streets of D.C.

On Jan. 10, close to 200 volunteers congregated at McPherson Square, trash bags in hand. They fanned out and spent two hours collecting “Stop the Steal” and other pro-Trump paraphernalia that had been littered during the riots, and also used scrapers and adhesive remover to peel off signs and stickers featuring logos and symbols from various neo-Nazi and alt-right groups.

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Something Wonderful

decorative leaf bulletWATCH: Herd of elk run from wave during high tide on Cannon Beach Looks like the Elk made it to safety; abnormal high tides at Cannon Beach, Oregon.

Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.

Elsewhere for January 10, 2021

You should read this for 1/10/2021:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletSeeking justice for Lion Sleeps Tonight composer

decorative leaf bulletWhy Hollywood gets the Irish so wrong

decorative leaf bulletFonts in Use: Enter a Giant Archive of Typography, Featuring 12,618 Typefaces

over 17,000 designs, each using at least one of over 12,000 typeface families from more than 3,500 type companies. Each font is contextualized with images depicting them in the wild, on everything from wine labels and storefronts to book covers, record albums, movie posters and of course, advertising of all shapes and sizes.

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bulletBiden Is Set To Introduce Merrick Garland As His Attorney General Pick

Garland is currently a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. But he is likely best known as a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court who was refused even a hearing by Senate Republicans, after then-President Barack Obama nominated him to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.

decorative leaf bulletBiden Taps Boston Mayor Marty Walsh As Labor Secretary

President-elect Joe Biden is tapping Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a Biden ally with deep ties to unions, as his labor secretary.

The Democrat campaigned for the White House saying he’d be the “most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.”

decorative leaf bulletRhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo Is Biden’s Commerce Secretary Pick

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, the first woman to lead the country’s smallest state, has been named President-elect Joe Biden’s intended nominee for commerce secretary.
If confirmed by the Senate, Raimondo, a Democrat who is serving her second term as governor and was previously the state’s treasurer, would oversee the U.S. Commerce Department’s eclectic portfolio of federal agencies, including some that have been thrown into political hot waters during the Trump administration — most notably the Census Bureau.
The federal government’s largest statistical agency has been scrambling to prepare the release of the first set of 2020 census results, which was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and last-minute schedule changes by Trump administration officials.

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bullet‘If the aliens lay eggs, how does that affect architecture?’: sci-fi writers on how they build their worlds This is a book review of Revelation Space Universe (2000-2018) Poseidon’s Children Universe (2012-2015) by a collection of SF authors including Nnedi Okorafor, Kim Stanley Robinson and Alastair Reynolds reveal what does, and doesn’t, go into creating their worlds, by Alastair Reynolds, Nnedi Okorafor, Ann Leckie, Becky Chambers, Kim Stanley Robinson and M John Harrison

decorative leaf bulletA listing of every book Art Garfunkel has read since 1968. His Favorites are here.

Publisher Cancels Book By Sen. Hawley, Citing His Role In Inciting Capitol Attack

Hawley, a Republican and outspoken Trump ally, has been accused of helping incite the throng of rioters who stormed the House and Senate chambers, smashing windows, ransacking offices and forcing frightened lawmakers to take shelter in secure locations. Hawley was also one of six senators who raised objections to the certification of Electoral College votes confirming Joe Biden as the next president.

See also: decorative leaf bulletSnowflake Josh Hawley Seems To Think The 1st Amendment Means Simon & Schuster Has To Give Him A Book Contract

An hour or so later, little whiny snowflake Josh Hawley, a self-proclaimed Constitutional lawyer, who has a law degree from Yale Law School and clerked at the Supreme Court, claimed that Simon & Schuster not publishing his book was somehow an attack on the 1st Amendment. . . . Every single thing that Hawley says in this is utter bullshit. It’s almost embarrassing. First of all, anyone who thinks that one of the world’s biggest publishing houses is a “woke mob” is delusional. But, it’s even worse to use the word “mob” the day after you helped inspire an actual mob to storm the Capitol building in order to overthrow the results of an election.

Hawley has no legal claim here at all. The 1st Amendment doesn’t govern this at all. He has every right to speak his mind, but he has no right to force a giant publishing house to give him a massive book contract to help his nascent Presidential campaign. If he wants to publish such a book, I hear Amazon has pretty good self-publishing tools that would allow him to do so. As to a bunch of other self-publishing platforms. Isn’t technology amazing?

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletDozens of residents die at Belgian care home after Santa visit

The outbreak followed a visit on 5 December by volunteers dressed as Saint Nicholas and his helper Zwarte Piet, organised by the nursing home’s management. The white-bearded, red-robed figure of Saint Nicholas, or Sinterklaas, brings gifts to Belgians every 6 December.
But within days, residents had displayed symptoms of coronavirus. Twenty six have since died and 85 more have tested positive for coronavirus, along with 40 staff.

decorative leaf bulletThe Japanese authorities understood covid-19 better than most

decorative leaf bulletSome Health Care Workers Say They Are ‘Forgotten’ In COVID-19 Vaccination Plans

Many medical personnel who care for COVID-19 patients have struggled to get vaccinated. Clinicians in private practice, those who work for staffing agencies and others who are not directly employed by hospitals or long-term care facilities say they have been overlooked in the vaccine rollout.

“It feels as though we have been forgotten,” said Reyes, who works for a nurse staffing agency. He picks up shifts at four or five different nursing homes in Massachusetts and, he said, none of them agreed to vaccinate him.
Between 5% and 10% of staff in nursing homes are people like Reyes. His staffing agency, IntelyCare, surveyed their nurses and nursing assistants in Massachusetts and more than half report being told they cannot get the shot.

decorative leaf bulletHere’s Why Vaccinated People Still Need to Wear a Mask

The new Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna seem to be remarkably good at preventing serious illness. But it’s unclear how well they will curb the spread of the coronavirus.

That’s because the Pfizer and Moderna trials tracked only how many vaccinated people became sick with Covid-19. That leaves open the possibility that some vaccinated people get infected without developing symptoms, and could then silently transmit the virus — especially if they come in close contact with others or stop wearing masks.

If vaccinated people are silent spreaders of the virus, they may keep it circulating in their communities, putting unvaccinated people at risk.

CDC: decorative leaf bulletDo I need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others if I have received two doses of the vaccine?

Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before deciding to change recommendations on steps everyone should take to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision.

decorative leaf bulletStorming of Capitol was textbook potential coronavirus superspreader, experts say

Wednesday’s storming of the U.S. Capitol did not just overshadow one of the deadliest days of the coronavirus pandemic — it could have contributed to the crisis as a textbook potential superspreader, health experts warn.

Thousands of Trump supporters dismissive of the virus’s threat packed together with few face coverings — shouting, jostling and forcing their way indoors to halt certification of the election results, many converging from out of town at the president’s urging. Police rushed members of Congress to crowded quarters where legislators say some of their colleagues refused to wear masks as well.

decorative leaf bulletBiden urges the distribution of nearly all available coronavirus vaccine

The question of whether to reserve vaccines to guarantee supplies for a second dose has become a heated question in recent days. The first vaccine approved for public use, developed by Pfizer, requires people who are immunized to return 21 days after a first dose for a second shot for it to be fully effective, based on data from clinical trials. The other vaccine requires a second dose at 28 days.

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletRoast Your Garlic Upside Down

decorative leaf bulletA quiet place: The sensory secret that makes coffee more delicious than ever

. . . a study just published in the journal Food Quality & Preference found people were “less sensitive to specific sensory and hedonic attributes” of coffee under louder conditions. In particular, noise affected the bitterness, acidity, sweetness and aroma.

decorative leaf bullet10 Cookbooks to Read in 202

decorative leaf bulletMake a Better Meal Plan by Bullet Journaling I am particularly struck by the utility of using movable stickie notes to plan meals. Write it up once, use it many times.

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletAncient snack stall uncovered in Pompeii, revealing bright frescoes and traces of 2,000-year-old street food

decorative leaf bulletIce Age hunters’ leftovers may have fueled dog domestication

The researchers’ calculations assume that, like some arctic hunter-gatherers today, ancient humans acquired 45 percent of their calories from animal protein. Humans can’t eat a completely carnivorous diet because of the liver’s ability to generate only part of our energy needs from protein. Edible plants could have been stored for the winter as a source of carbohydrates, but supplies would have waned as the annual big freeze wore on, the scientists suspect. So Ice Age hunter-gatherers probably reached a point where they focused on hunting in order to extract fatty marrow and grease from the bones of prey to meet energy needs, the researchers argue, leaving plenty of lean meat untouched and available as wolf food.
Competition between humans and wolves for prey would have declined as generations of pet wolves gradually evolved into dogs, the team hypothesizes.

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletA New Population of Blue Whales Was Discovered Hiding in the Indian Ocean

But a previously unknown population of the leviathans has long been lurking in the Indian Ocean, leaving scientists none the wiser, new research suggests.

The covert cadre of whales, described in a paper published last week in the journal Endangered Species Research, has its own signature anthem: a slow, bellowing ballad that’s distinct from any other whale song ever described. It joins only a dozen or so other blue whale songs that have been documented, each the calling card of a unique population.

decorative leaf bulletA rare, ‘magical’ visit from a brilliantly colored bird draws crowds to Maryland park “It was a male painted bunting, a bird known for its kaleidoscope of colors — blue heads, red underparts, and green backs. It’s a bird commonly seen in Florida and other parts of the south but rarely in Maryland.” See the link for photos. I’ve never seen one, and very much hope to.

BBC video: decorative leaf bulletCuriosity rover: Watching an eclipse from Mars


decorative leaf bulletHow to reduce the spread of fake news — by doing nothing “By arguing with a message, you are spreading it further. This matters, because if more people see it, or see it more often, it will have an even greater effect.”

When we come across false information on social media, it is only natural to feel the need to call it out or argue with it. But my research suggests this might do more harm than good. It might seem counterintuitive, but the best way to react to fake news — and reduce its impact — may be to do nothing at all.

The simple fact is that engaging with false information increases the likelihood that other people will see it. If people comment on it, or quote tweet — even to disagree — it means that the material will be shared to our own networks of social media friends and followers.
Any kind of interaction at all — whether clicking on the link or reacting with an angry face emoji — will make it more likely that the social media platform will show the material to other people. In this way, false information can spread far and fast. So even by arguing with a message, you are spreading it further. This matters, because if more people see it, or see it more often, it will have an even greater effect.

decorative leaf bulletDodger Manager Tommy Lasorda dies Lasorda spent his entire careeer with the Dodgers, and will be missed. I loved his infectious enthusiasm, not just for the Dodgers, but for all things baseball. I was so pleased that he came out of retirement to coach the U. S. Olympics baseball team in 2000 (they took the gold).


Stephen Diehl @smdiehl via Rene Ritchi @reneritchie: decorative leaf bulletStephen, why are you so critical of Facebook and not the other big tech companies?

decorative leaf bulletIs There a Simple Way to Video Chat With My Elderly Parents?

decorative leaf bulletOur Timely Obsession with Animal Crossing

decorative leaf bulletTwitter bans Trump’s account, citing risk of further violence

Silicon Valley also took fresh aim at a bevy of other sites and services where Trump’s supporters have congregated. That includes the new social media service Parler, which became popular with the president’s allies in the wake of the 2020 election.
Amid a flood of misinformation — and threats of violence in the wake of the Capitol riot — Google on Friday removed the app from its hub for downloads, called the Play Store. Apple also warned Parler that it could be removed from its App Store, the sole portal through which iPhone and iPad users can obtain such software, if it didn’t remove posts inciting violence and put in place a stronger content moderation system, according to an email obtained by BuzzFeed News.

decorative leaf bulletDiscord bans pro-Trump server ‘The Donald’

“We have a zero-tolerance policy against hate and violence of any kind on the platform, or the use of Discord to support or organize around violent extremism,” Discord said in a statement shared with The Verge. “While there is no evidence of a server called The Donald being used to organize the Jan 6 riots, Discord decided to ban the entire server today due to its overt connection to an online forum used to incite violence, plan an armed insurrection in the United States, and spread harmful misinformation related to 2020 U.S. election fraud.”

Reddit banned pro-Trump subreddit r/The_Donald in June following an expansion of its policies to ban hate speech more explicitly. The Donald’s Discord server was one of the places former r/The_Donald members congregated following the ban, as detailed in this Mother Jones article from October.

decorative leaf bulletTwitter permanently suspends @TeamTrump after string of Trump tweets Twitter is now playing the time-honored community manager game known as whack-a-troll.

decorative leaf bulletTwitter warns of new violence to come, brewing again on social media, as reason for Trump ban

Calls for widespread protests on the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden have been rampant online for weeks. These demonstrations are scheduled to culminate with what organizers have dubbed a “Million Militia March” on Jan. 20 as Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris are to be sworn in on the same Capitol grounds that rioters overran on Wednesday.

As with the online chatter ahead of that assault on the Capitol, these calls to action have bristled with violent talk and vows to bring guns to Washington in defiance of the city’s strict weapons laws.

SetApp: A Suite of macOS Apps for a Single Price Affiliate link for a great collection of 75+ apps for a single price.

Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletThe US economy lost 140,000 jobs in December. All of them were held by women

According to new data released Friday, employers cut 140,000 jobs in December, signaling that the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is backtracking. Digging deeper into the data also reveals a shocking gender gap: Women accounted for all the job losses, losing 156,000 jobs, while men gained 16,000.

Via Open Culture: decorative leaf bulletBehold an Interactive Online Edition of Elizabeth Twining’s Illustrations of the Natural Orders of Plants (1868)

decorative leaf bulletSeoul court orders Japan to pay damages over wartime sexual slavery

Japan has denounced as “utterly unacceptable” a South Korean court ruling ordering it to pay damages to women who were sexually enslaved by the Japanese military before and during the second world war.
The Seoul central district court on Friday said Japan was liable to compensate 12 women who were forced to work as so-called “comfort women”, in a ruling that is expected to inflict further damage on the countries’ already fraught ties.

decorative leaf bulletWomen over 50 paid £8,000 a year less than men for full-time work

Women over 50 in the UK are paid almost £8,000 a year less than men, according to research revealing that the collapse of retailers during the pandemic has hit women much harder than men.

An analysis of official data found that the median annual salary of women working full-time in their 50s was 23% less than that of men in the same age group, according to a report by Rest Less, a company that offers help and advice to people over 50. Women in their 60s were paid 25% less.

decorative leaf bulletTampon tax: government axes VAT on sanitary products

The tampon tax has been abolished after the government honoured its March commitment to remove VAT on women’s sanitary products.
But the campaigner who played a pivotal role in the drive to axe the tax has accused the government of using the issue as a political football, after politicians said it had been scrapped thanks to Brexit. Existing EU law prevented member states from reducing VAT below 5%.

decorative leaf bullet‘Where Are The Women?’: Uncovering The Lost Works Of Female Renaissance Artists

Florence is one of the main stops on any art lover’s European itinerary. At the Uffizi Galleries, visitors can have their fill of works by Renaissance masters Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael.
Of course, none of these artists are women.
In 2009, a new nonprofit foundation in Florence started to investigate why.

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bulletInside Trump and Barr’s Last-Minute Killing Spree

Officials gave public explanations for their choice of which prisoners should die that misstated key facts from the cases. They moved ahead with executions in the middle of the night. They left one prisoner strapped to the gurney while lawyers worked to remove a court order. They executed a second prisoner while an appeal was still pending, leaving the court to then dismiss the appeal as “moot” because the man was already dead. They bought drugs from a secret pharmacy that failed a quality test. They hired private executioners and paid them in cash.

decorative leaf bullet‘This Was A Scam’: In Recorded Call, Trump Pushed Official To Overturn Georgia Vote

An angry President Trump pushed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, to overturn the state’s presidential results, and appeared to at least partly blame him for what could be lower turnout in Tuesday’s runoff elections that will decide control of the U.S. Senate, according to a recording of a phone call obtained by Georgia Public Broadcasting.

“The people of Georgia know that this was a scam, and because of what you’ve done to the president, a lot of people aren’t going out to vote [in the runoffs],” Trump said in the remarkable Saturday call. “A lot of Republicans are going to vote negative because they hate what you did to the president.”
He added: “You would be respected if this thing could be straightened out before the election.” Trump lost the state by nearly 12,000 votes to President-elect Joe Biden.

See the original Washington Post article here: ‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’: In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor You can hear the full audio and read the transcript. 💩🔥💰 is not only a 🤥🤥👖🔥, he’s clearly in street bully mode, and desperate to stay in office, at any cost.

decorative leaf bullet‘Find the fraud’: Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in a separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction

In an interview with The Washington Post on Friday, Raffensperger confirmed that Trump had placed the Dec. 23 call. He said he was not familiar with the specifics of what the president said in the conversation with his chief investigator, but said it was inappropriate for Trump to have tried to intervene in the case.

“That was an ongoing investigation,” Raffensperger said. “I don’t believe that an elected official should be involved in that process.”]

💩🔥💰 Donald Trump’s Domestic Terror Attack 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bulletTimeline: How One Of The Darkest Days In American History Unfolded

It was all egged on by a sitting president, who has been unable to accept losing his bid for reelection and who persuaded millions of his followers to buy into baseless, debunked and disproved conspiracy theories.

The result: A mob violently storming and occupying the U.S. Capitol for hours, while staffers and lawmakers were evacuated or hid in fear. The vice president was also rushed from the floor of the Senate and taken to a secure location after criticisms were tweeted from his boss.

Here’s a timeline of how things unfolded:

decorative leaf bulletWhere Was Security When A Pro-Trump Mob Stormed The Capitol

decorative leaf bulletOn Far-Right Websites, Plans To Storm Capitol Were Made In Plain Sight

decorative leaf bulletThe Inaction of Capitol Police Was by Design

Videos also portray a friendlier side of these interactions: One widely circulated shot appears to show a rioter taking a selfie with an officer inside the Capitol halls, while others depict insurrectionists being calmly escorted by police out of the building they’d just overtaken. These scenes provide a stark contrast to what the nation witnessed from police mere months ago, during the Black Lives Matter protests: Peaceful demonstrators tear-gassed and pinned to the ground. People who were standing still shown the full force of state violence.

According to the Associated Press, the Capitol Police knew about the potential threat of the riot days before it took place, but rejected offers of help from the National Guard and the FBI. Officials said that they wanted to avoid using federal force against Americans, as they had done this summer.

The choice to turn down help amid warnings of an insurrection is as revealing as it is disturbing: Why did law enforcement assume that they’d encounter violence from protesters marching for Black lives in June, but think that a largely white crowd of pro-Trump extremists and conspiracy theorists would remain peaceful? The difference in the Capitol Police’s response shocked many who bemoaned the double standard. But police brutality against Black Americans and police inaction toward white Americans is not some surprising anomaly; it is the status quo.

decorative leaf bulletHow the U.S. Capitol Police were overrun in a ‘monumental’ security failure

Inside the U.S. Capitol, the rioters were in charge.

Trump supporters were roaming freely, carrying off furniture. Capitol Police had not asked other law enforcement agencies for help until their building was surrounded by a mob seeking to overturn the election results. Now, their officers were exhausted and injured. Their chief was down the street, in the department command center, and a police commander on the scene was pacing in a circle. Top congressional leaders, hidden in secure rooms, were calling the governors of Maryland and Virginia directly to plead for help.

decorative leaf bulletWatching MAGA World Fracture in Real Time

As early as 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, just as the mob was taking over the Capitol building, claims that antifa had “infiltrated” the group started to go viral on Twitter. The far-right blog The Gateway Pundit insisted that a whole busload of “Antifa thugs” was on the scene. Others claimed that a well-known figure in the QAnon movement, Jake Angeli, was a “paid actor” and a secret liberal supporter of Black Lives Matter, or they labeled random photos of members of the crowd “ANTIFA supporters dressed in MAGA clothing.” By the evening, the theory had been picked up by several Republican members of Congress, including Representatives Paul Gosar of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama, and Matt Gaetz of Florida. (None of these representatives’ offices returned a request for comment.)

The theory is false. There is no credible evidence of involvement by antifa, which is not an organized group and has been responsible for very little violence, while Gray and numerous other known MAGA figures actually were involved in the insurrection. But empirical reality notwithstanding, the antifa story has become a dividing line within the MAGA world this week—and a telling symbol of its internal upheaval.

decorative leaf bulletArkansas man who posed in Pelosi’s office and West Virginia delegate-elect among those charged in Capitol breach

Richard Barnett was arrested in Little Rock, Ark., on Friday morning and charged with three counts of entering restricted grounds, violent entry and disorderly conduct at the Capitol and theft of public property, said Principal Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Kohl of the District of Columbia.
Barnett, of Gravette, Ark., was photographed sitting with his feet up on a desk in Pelosi’s office at the U.S. Capitol — an image that quickly became emblematic of the chaotic storming of the complex by a pro-Trump mob.

decorative leaf bulletRioter Who Stole Pelosi’s Podium Identified as Florida Dad

. . . Kohl also announced that incoming West Virginia delegate Derrick Evans has been charged with unlawfully entering restricted grounds.

decorative leaf bulletRepublican senator: White House aides say Trump was “delighted” as Capitol was stormed

One Republican senator who says he’s been in touch with senior White House aides about the matter claims the president was “delighted.”
“I don’t have any idea what was in his heart about what he wanted to happen once they were in the Capitol, but he wanted there to be chaos,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) said, during an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt Friday morning.

“And I’m sure you’ve also had conversations with other senior White House officials, as I have,” Sasse continued. “As this was unfolding on television, Donald Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was as you had rioters pushing against Capitol Police trying to get into the building.” Sasse added: “He was delighted.”

decorative leaf bulletPro-Trump rioters smeared poop in U.S. Capitol hallways during belligerent attack

They took a dump on American democracy — literally.
Some of the unhinged pro-Trump rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday defecated inside the historic building and “tracked” their feces in several hallways, the Daily News has learned. . . . Egged on by President Trump, the throngs of far-right rioters smashed windows, fought police officers and vandalized offices of lawmakers.
Trump, seemingly oblivious to the stain his presidency is leaving on U.S. history, cheered on the insurrectionists in a since-removed Twitter video. “We love you,” he told them.

Podcast and transcript: decorative leaf bulletListen: John Bresnahan Helps Us Understand What the Hell Just Happened

And then my colleague Jake Sherman starts bugging me. He [says] there’s a problem with a security fence outside. You can’t hear anything in the chamber, so I go outside. And once I get outside the chamber, you can hear the crowd. I ran down to the second floor of the Rotunda, and the sound was overwhelming. There were hundreds of people pounding on the door from the east side of the Capitol. There were cops rushing up to the door, and they started screaming at us to get out of here. I went up to the third floor. That’s where I could see [the protesters] banging on the door. It seemed like they had tools—like iron rods or something. They were prepared to try to break windows. I mean, these are bombproof windows on the east side of the Capitol, and these doors. They had to be prepared to do that.

decorative leaf bulletMayhem Inside the Capitol: 40 Minutes of Footage

Reporter Ryan Lizza writes: “I don’t think I fully understood what happened Wednesday until I watched this video. It’s long and includes the shooting of one of the rioters, but you will have a new appreciation of the demented psychology coursing through this mob.” This is the insurrection that Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Mo Brooks and others incited and cheered on. They’ll hopefully pay a steep price.

Warning: The shooting of the rioter is shown at the beginning, and again at the end–except the footage at the end is graphic and not greyed out.<;/blockquote MSNBC: decorative leaf bulletMust-see new video shows Capitol riot was way worse than we thought

decorative leaf bulletMore Than A Dozen GOP State Lawmakers Attended Rally That Gave Way To Riots

Via Ronan Farrow in The New Yorkerdecorative leaf bulletAn Air Force Combat Veteran Breached the Senate

As insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol this week, a few figures stood out. One man, clad in a combat helmet, body armor, and other tactical gear, was among the group that made it to the inner reaches of the building. Carrying zip-tie handcuffs, he was captured in photographs and videos on the Senate floor and with a group that descended on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office suite. In a video shot by ITV News, he is seen standing against a wall adjacent to Pelosi’s office, his face covered by a bandana. At another point, he appears to exit the suite, face exposed, pushing his way through the crowds of demonstrators.

decorative leaf bulletDerrick Evans resigns W.Va. House after entering U.S. Capitol with mob

The mob storming the U.S. Capitol disrupted the constitutional duty of counting Electoral College votes and prompted the evacuations of representatives, senators and Vice President Mike Pence. One woman was fatally shot while trying to climb into the chambers, three others died from “medical emergencies” and 50 police officers were injured. Capitol Police announced one police officer died of injuries sustained during the riot.

Evans, a Republican from Wayne County just sworn into House of Delegates, has contended he was videoing history and was swept along with the crowd. But his own video depicts him calling out “Move! Move!” before going through the Capitol door, as security alarms blare.

decorative leaf bulletThe Capitol mob desecrated a historical workplace — and left behind some disturbing artifacts

A lot of things were broken to pieces, or pilfered, or defaced. Windows and door frames. The placard above House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s door. Camera equipment owned by the Associated Press. A photo of the late congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis, with a quote about the necessity of getting into “good trouble,” that had stood on an easel outside of the office of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). . . . The office of the Senate parliamentarian was ransacked. A bust of President Zachary Taylor was smeared with what appeared to be blood.
Missing: Laptops from the offices of Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Pelosi and others. Mail. Paperwork. Records that the Department of Justice referred to cryptically as “national security equities.”

Many members of the Capitol’s janitorial staff are people of color, and it did not go unnoticed by people scrolling through photos of the destruction online that Black and Latino custodians — plus one first-generation Korean American congressman — were the ones picking up a mess left behind by a mostly White group that included, among others, a man carrying a gigantic Confederate flag.
That didn’t enter Rep. Kim’s thoughts until later. He thought of his parents, and how they came to this country.
“When I see the Capitol defaced, I see the values and the opportunities that gave my family a chance in this country disrespected,” he says. “This building is bigger than all of us. It deserves our respect.”

decorative leaf bulletGinni Thomas, Wife of Clarence, Cheered On the Rally That Turned Into the Capitol Riot “GOD BLESS EACH OF YOU STANDING UP or PRAYING!”

On Wednesday morning, Ginni Thomas—wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas—endorsed the rally in Washington demanding that Congress overturn the election. She then sent her “LOVE” to the demonstrators, who violently overtook the Capitol several hours later. Two days later, Thomas amended her post with the addendum: “[Note: written before violence in US Capitol].” By that point, five people involved in the insurrection, including a Capitol Police officer, had died.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletPoliceman buys family food instead of arresting them for shoplifting

decorative leaf bulletBooze fairies: the anonymous army of ‘drinkerbelles’ spreading good cheer

After sharing their own addresses, and their tipple of choice, participants are assigned other fairies to deliver to. As well as a bottle – and perhaps something else comforting, such as snacks or bath bombs – a basket will contain the address of someone else to deliver to. So beneficiary becomes benefactor.

decorative leaf bulletI teach a course on happiness at Yale: this is how to make the most of your resolutions

The research shows we make happiness mistakes all the time: we complain too much, thinking we’re letting off steam, but do so at the cost of noticing the good things in life. We avoid social situations, thinking alone time is the cure for our blues, but research shows we’d be happier if we connected with a friend. We also assume that happiness involves changing our circumstances: losing weight, getting buffer and earning more money. But as someone who teaches an entire course on the science of happiness, I know the research shows most of these popular January goals don’t improve our happiness as much as we assume.

Something Wonderful

decorative leaf bulletPublic Domain Day 2021“January 1, 2021 is Public Domain Day: Works from 1925 are open to all!” Not everything from 1925 is Public Domain, so use a credible source to make sure a work is in fact Public Domain. Some highlights in terms of fiction for 1925 include Virgina Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Be careful with that one in terms of the source you use; there are some very poorly edited editions out there, that did not follow Fitzgerald’s text.

Via John Bull @garius: decorative leaf bulletSo it’s Christmas, and a bit of a weird one, so I want to tell you about a surprise Christmas present and the kindness of Twitter and total strangers on the other side of Europe that helped make it happen.

decorative leaf bulletGingerbread monolith appears in San Francisco’s Corona Heights

decorative leaf bulletThe fox and the photographer: a touching friendship

Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.

Elsewhere for December 25, 2020

Editor’s Note: 2020 has been a hell of a year. I’ve been self-isolating in an apartment with my mom since February, aside from brief excursions to the local drug store to pick up mom’s medications that failed to arrive via the post (Thanks for screwing over the USPS Donald Trump, aka 💩🔥💰 and 🤥🤥👖🔥 liar, liar pants-on-fire, GOP mob boss, liar-in-chief, draft dodger, Putin’s pocket toy, criminal, grifter, the single worst President ever). I hope you die in prison) and exciting trips to the front door to receive sporadic groceries.

I’m taking the rest of this year and at least the first week of 2021 off. It’s been rough. Feel free to enjoy my annotated edition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, my site about Celtic Studies, my site about technology, or the other extended pieces on this site accessed via the menus above.

Finally, you can buy me a coffee if you’re so inclined.

I hope you stay safe, self-isolated, warm, with food, and good books, and music, and for everyone’s sake, stay socially distant and wear a mask if you go out. Don’t be a maroon. Think about the lives of others.

You should read this for 12/25/2020:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletA Detailed, Track-by-Track Analysis of the Doctor Who Theme Music

decorative leaf bulletListen up: making music from the northern lights

There’s a hypnotic crackle before a whoosh of sound flies from ear to ear. It’s followed by a heavenly chorus that might be whales whistling, frogs calling or the chirping of an alien bird. It sounds celestial because that’s what it is. The noise is the aurora borealis: the northern lights.

decorative leaf bulletThe best classical music apps for iPhone and iPad

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bulletA ‘Real Easy’ Choice: Biden Introduces Education Pick Miguel Cardona

Biden has long said his education secretary nominee would be a teacher or educator. “We need an education secretary who understands that education isn’t just what we do,” Biden said, “it’s who we are.”

An educator, Cardona certainly is. After starting his career as an elementary school teacher, he became a principal for 10 years (he was named Connecticut principal of the year in 2012), and he then became an assistant superintendent in Meriden, Conn., a district just south of Hartford that serves about 9,000 students. It is also where he was born and attended public schools.

decorative leaf bulletBiden Administration: Here’s Who Has Been Named So Far

decorative leaf bulletTwitter Will Reset @POTUS Account To Zero Followers After Biden Transition

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletMyrrh mystery: how did Balthasar, one of the three kings, become black?

Although the Gospel of Matthew does not give individual names to this regal trio, we know them as Balthasar, Caspar and Melchior, thanks to a Greek manuscript from AD500. It was in the middle ages, too, that they were promoted from astronomers to kings. And a text attributed to the Venerable Bede, the historian monk from Northumbria, makes Balthasar black. Despite Bede’s assertion, there are very few images of a black Balthasar before 1400, possibly because medieval Europeans had so little concept of Africans. It was only with the dawning of the Renaissance that Balthasar’s colour began to be emphatically depicted. In fact, the trumpeting, joyous festive subject of “the adoration” inspired some of the richest portrayals of black people in European art.

decorative leaf bulletWhen my mother said she was lonely, I knew I had to relearn my Bengali language

Through the YouTube bulletins, I started to regain my fluency and even grew an affection for the stoic, no-nonsense delivery of the channel anchor. At the same time, I asked my sisters to switch to speaking Sylheti with me. They are all married to Bengali men and therefore speak it more frequently. Sadly, this had mixed results. As soon as we encountered friction, we intuitively switched to English.
Nevertheless, I persevered – listening, absorbing, practising. Over the following months, my vocabulary improved rapidly. I regained words I’d lost and learned ones I’d never known. For many second-generation immigrants, fluency is too long gone, so I was deeply grateful that mine could be revived.

decorative leaf bulletLawsuit over ‘warmer’ Sherlock depicted in Enola Holmes dismissed

The estate of Arthur Conan Doyle and Netflix have agreed to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the author’s estate, which alleged that the film Enola Holmes infringed copyright by depicting a warmer and more emotional version of Sherlock Holmes.

See also: The Mystery Of The Copyright On Sherlock Holmes’ Emotions Goes Unsolved Due To Settlement

Netflix moved to have the case dismissed, going in quite hard on the details of the Estate’s claims. For starters, in Enola Holmes, um, no dogs. Added to that, the motion provides ample evidence of Sherlock having feelings and empathy prior to the protected works and that such ideas are not protectable anyway. The rest of us, meanwhile, waited patiently to see if the mystery of whether or not you could break copyright in this way could actually succeed in court.

Author Gar Anthony Haywood about his new Slant book, In Things Unseen: decorative leaf bulletA Personal Miracle on a Public Stage: Q&A with Gar Anthony Haywood

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletOne person with covid-19 went to work in Oregon. Then, 7 people died and 300 had to quarantine.

Douglas County officials said last week that a person knowingly went to work while suffering symptoms and later tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Two recent outbreaks in the county, which were reported by the Oregonian on Tuesday, were traced back to that individual and the ensuing infections forced hundreds of county residents into self-quarantine.


decorative leaf bulletMore Than 70 West Point Cadets Accused Of Cheating In Academic Scandal

So far, 59 cadets out of a suspected 73 have admitted to taking part in the scam in which the students “shared answers and made the same mistakes,” Lt. Col. Chris Ophardt, a West Point spokesman told NPR.

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletOrganic meat production just as bad for climate, study finds “Analysis also found the lowest impact meat was still far more damaging than the worst plant foods.”

decorative leaf bulletThe good old ways: can we still farm like our grandparents?

She left home 15 years ago to go to university before starting a career as a chartered surveyor. But as she married and thought about children, the “emotional pull” of being able to live and work on a farm again was too much. She’s now returned to take over the tenancy of the 100-cow dairy farm, near Chester, from her father.

But it is a very different dairy industry from her father’s childhood. Back in the early 1950s the UK had close to 200,000 dairy farmers. Today, there are barely 10,000. Her farm is small in an industry where herds of 500 are commonplace and the average has doubled to 150 in the past two decades.

. . .

Ankers doesn’t have to look far to see the direction farming is heading. Across the hedgerows at the back of her farm is one of the biggest dairy farms in the country. The farm houses almost 3,000 cows, all of which spend their lives indoors and eat food brought to them by machines. It’s a slick-looking operation with dozens of farmworkers charged with keeping the milk flowing.

decorative leaf bulletThe best food books of 2020 that will get you thinking, not cooking

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletHow Venetians Invented Health Care

When Venetians invented quarantine in 1348, the government proclamation was based on the fact that this cosmopolitan city could put two and two together. The Venetian Republic had based its thriving economy on trade by sea and it became obvious that when foreign ships arrived, an outbreak of plague sometimes followed. They began with keeping ships at bay, making them sit offshore in the Venetian lagoon for 30 days. That time frame soon increased to 40 days, from which we get the word quarantine (quaranta means 40 days in Italian and Veneziano, the language of Venice).

decorative leaf bulletResearchers win £1m grant to unlock secrets of Viking-era treasure trove “Galloway Hoard comprising more than 100 objects lay undiscovered for 1,000 years before discovery in 2014.”

The haul contains an unparalleled range of precious metal and jewelled items, including a rare gold ingot, a unique gold bird-shaped pin and a decorated silver-gilt vessel, the only complete lidded vessel of its type ever discovered in Britain and Ireland.

Inside the vessel were beads, amulets of glass and rock crystal, a silver penannular brooch and five Anglo-Saxon disc brooches not previously found in Scotland. Parts of the find were wrapped in fragile textile bundles.
Taken altogether, the hoard hints at hitherto unknown connections between people across Europe and beyond, and, according to researchers, it provides a rare opportunity to research and reveal many lost aspects of the Viking age.

See also: National Museum of Scotland: The Galloway Hoard: Viking-age Treasure

Science and Nature

H/T Lisa C: decorative leaf bulletThe Jupiter-Saturn conjunction, through medieval and Renaissance eyes

decorative leaf bulletIvory: Elephant decline revealed by shipwreck cargo

Researchers have examined ancient DNA preserved in elephant tusks that were among the cargo of a 487-year-old shipwreck.

Their forensic examination of the 100 tusks pinpointed the devastation caused to the elephant population by centuries of ivory trade.

On this single ship, researchers found genetic evidence of 17 distinct herds of the threatened animals.

Today, scientists can find only four of those herds surviving in Africa.

decorative leaf bulletHalf a Century in the Making: Tree ‘Crop Circles’ Emerge in Japan

Two peculiar ‘crop circles’ have recently been spotted in Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture. Viewable only from above, they were formed by sugi (Japanese cedar) trees.

decorative leaf bulletThe nature of the Norwegian lemming: ‘bloodthirsty, hairy berserkers’

BBC Video: decorative leaf bulletOctopuses filmed punching fish in the Red Sea


decorative leaf bulletAnimal Crossing gave me structure in a shapeless year


decorative leaf bulletApple HomePod Mini

decorative leaf bulletStardew Valley’s jam-packed 1.5 update reminds us why it’s our forever game

decorative leaf bulletHow A Cybersecurity Firm Uncovered The Massive Computer Hack

The first word that hackers had carried out a highly sophisticated intrusion into U.S. computer networks came on Dec. 8, when the cybersecurity firm FireEye announced it had been breached and some of its most valuable tools had been stolen.

”We escalated very quickly from the moment I got the first briefing that, ‘Hey, we have a security incident of some magnitude,’ ” FireEye CEO Kevin Mandia told All Things Considered co-host Mary Louise Kelly. ”My gut was telling me it was something we needed to put people on right away.”

Mandia was right. Within days, the scope of the hack began to emerge.

Multiple U.S. agencies were successfully targeted, including the departments of State, Treasury, Commerce, Energy and Homeland Security as well as the National Institutes of Health.

The hackers attached their malware to a software update from Austin, Texas-based company SolarWinds, which makes software used by many federal agencies and thousands of private companies to monitor their computer networks.

decorative leaf bulletSolarwinds, The Security Consulting Company That Maybe Wasn’t Very Good At Security

In one previously unreported issue, multiple criminals have offered to sell access to SolarWinds’ computers through underground forums, according to two researchers who separately had access to those forums. […] Security researcher Vinoth Kumar told Reuters that, last year, he alerted the company that anyone could access SolarWinds’ update server by using the password “solarwinds123”

Apple has a hardware security and privacy manual for people at risk from abusers, exploiters: decorative leaf bulletDevice and Data Access when Personal Safety is At Risk

If you’d like to revisit what you share with other people, or restore your device’s original settings for any reason, this guide can help you understand what information you are sharing via your Apple devices, and how to make changes to protect your safety. It includes step-by-step instructions on how to remove someone’s access to information you’ve previously granted: from location data on the Find My app, to meetings you’ve scheduled via Calendar. . . . If you’re concerned that someone is accessing information you did not share from your Apple device, this guide will also help you identify risks, and walk you through the steps to help make the technology you rely on as private and secure as you want it to be.

H/T Yasmine: decorative leaf bulletA Nordic Design Staple- The Swedish Kakelugn Tile Stove- Part 1

SetApp: A Suite of macOS Apps for a Single Price Affiliate link for a great collection of 75+ apps for a single price.

Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletPioneering fairytale author Madame d’Aulnoy back in print after centuries

Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, known as Madame or Countess d’Aulnoy, invented the term “conte de fée” or fairytale, when she published her major collection of them in 1697-98. Unlike her contemporary Charles Perrault, or later authors such as Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, today her work rarely appears outside anthologies.

Now Princeton University Press will release a new collection of her work in March, The Island of Happiness, featuring illustrations and an essay by the artist Natalie Frank. It also contains the first English translation of The Tale of Mira, one of D’Aulnoy’s earlier works, which sees the beautiful Mira kill scores of men — “Anyone who saw her fell desperately in love with her. However, her pride and indifference made all of her lovers die” — until she falls for a man who is indifferent to her.

decorative leaf bulletTampon wars: the battle to overthrow the Tampax empire

Tampax is facing perhaps its greatest existential threat – the growing number of women choosing not to have periods at all. Last year, the faculty of sexual and reproductive healthcare of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists issued an updated guideline, stating that there was no health benefit to taking a week-long break from the pill to have a sort of faux-period. Women simply no longer need to shed blood if they don’t want to.

decorative leaf bullet‘I am not afraid to fight’: the female Afghan colonel who survived the Taliban’s assassins “Saba Sahar, who returned fire while protecting her daughter, survived one of a wave of recent assassination attempts that have killed six policewomen.”

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bulletDOJ Whistleblowers Call For Investigation Into Canceled Diversity Programs

The controversy followed a September 2020 executive order where President 💩🔥💰 ordered federal agencies to submit diversity training programs to the Office of Personnel Management for prior approval. The order said 💩🔥💰 was acting “in order to promote economy and efficiency in Federal contracting, to promote unity in the Federal workforce, and to combat offensive and anti-American race and sex stereotyping and scapegoating.”

The whistleblowers’ letter said 💩🔥💰 was reportedly inspired to take action after watching a critic of diversity and inclusion programs on Tucker Carlson’s program on Fox News.

The OPM rules have proved confusing and unworkable, leading many federal agencies and contractors to cancel all their programming.

decorative leaf bullet🤥🤥👖🔥 pardons Blackwater contractors jailed for massacre of Iraq civilians “Four guards fired on unarmed crowd in Baghdad in 2007, killing 14 and sparking outrage over use of private security in war zones.”

Donald 🤥🤥👖🔥 has pardoned four security guards from the private military firm Blackwater who were serving jail sentences for killing 14 civilians including two children in Baghdad in 2007, a massacre that sparked an international outcry over the use of mercenaries in war.

The four guards – Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, Dustin Heard and Nicholas Slatten – were part of an armoured convoy that opened fire indiscriminately with machine-guns, grenade launchers and a sniper on a crowd of unarmed people in a square in the Iraqi capital.

. . .

The pardons are one of several the US president has granted to American service personnel and contractors accused or convicted of crimes against non-combatants and civilians in war zones. In November last year, he pardoned a former US army commando who was set to stand trial over the killing of a suspected Afghan bomb-maker, and a former army lieutenant convicted of murder for ordering his men to fire at three Afghans.

See also this Twitter thread from @adamnlawyer Ali Kinani was 9 years old when he was shot in the head by Blackwater guards on September 16, 2007 in Baghdad Iraq. @realDonaldTrump just pardoned his killers. I represented Ali’s and five other families in a civil lawsuit against Blackwater and Erik Prince for the killings.

decorative leaf bullet💩🔥💰’s Pardons Make the Unimaginable Real

Yesterday evening, President Donald 💩🔥💰 issued 15 pardons and five commutations, including two for individuals found guilty of charges arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. He is reportedly considering a raft of other Christmas pardons—for sympathetic allies, for loyal retainers, and even for family members.

This article is a close, analytic look at the history and underlying theory of Presidential pardons.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletThe Myron Cole Piano Method The entire series of Piano lesson books is free to download. Read about the Myron Cole method here.

SetApp: A Suite of macOS Apps for a Single Price Affiliate link for a great collection of 75+ apps for a single price.

Something Wonderful

Via Twitter: decorative leaf bulletPublic Enemy

From the jury selection process that took place over three days in June for the trial of Martin Shkreli, an investor and hedge fund founder who is facing eight counts of securities and wire fraud. In 2015, when Shkreli was CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, the company raised the price of its drug Daraprim by 5,000 percent. In 2016, Shkreli was widely criticized for defending the 400 percent increase in the price of EpiPen, an emergency allergy injection sold by Mylan. More than two hundred potential jurors were excused from the trial. Judge Kiyo Matsumoto presided. Benjamin Brafman is a lawyer representing Shkreli.

decorative leaf bulletDon’t worry kids, Dr. Fauci said he vaccinated Santa Claus

decorative leaf bullet Listen to Forests From Around the World With Tree.fm

Tree.fm is a website full of soundscapes from real forests around the world, which play while displaying a full-screen photo of the location where they were recorded. Click “listen to a random forest” and you’ll be transported to Madagascar to listen to some lemurs, or to Ghana to hear some peacefully rushing water, or to Russia, where a bird I’ve never heard of puts on a vocal performance.

decorative leaf bulletChestnuts roasting on a dumpster fire: 16 extremely 2020 Yule Log videos I wish to call your attention in particular to the “relaxing MAGA crackling fireplace,” wherein “California woodworker Big Poppa Woodworks offers the soothing sight of a crackling blaze, topped with all-too-familiar red caps meeting the same fate as Rudy Giuliani’s legal career.”

Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.

Elsewhere for December 20, 2020

You should read this for 12/2o/2020:

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bulletBiden Administration: Here’s Who Has Been Named So Far

In his latest selection, Biden tapped Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., to lead the Department of Transportation. Buttigieg has not previously served in federal office but gained national prominence during his presidential bid in the 2020 Democratic primaries. If confirmed, he will be the first openly LGBTQ person to serve in a permanent Cabinet role.

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

Samuel Delany: decorative leaf bulletWhy I Write

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletRevealing Photo Series Documents School Lunches Around the World

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletFit for a king: true glory of 1,000-year-old cross buried in Scottish field is revealed at last The cross in question was part of the Viking-age Galloway hoard found in 2014.

The Galloway Hoard was buried in the late 9th century in Dumfries and Galloway, where it was unearthed by a metal detectorist in 2014. The cross was among more than 100 gold, silver and other items, including a beautiful gold bird-shaped pin and a silver-gilt vessel. Incredibly, textile in which the objects had been wrapped was among organic matter that also survived.

decorative leaf bulletBoudicca revolt: Essex dig reveals ‘evidence of Roman reprisals’

Dr Niamh Wycherley, Department of Early Irish, School of Celtic Studies, Maynooth Univeristy: decorative leaf bulletChristmas in medieval Ireland

Science and Nature

H/T Yasmin: decorative leaf bulletTasmanian devils claw their way back from extinction

For decades a ghastly facial cancer has been decimating Tasmanian devils. Spreading from animal to animal when the stocky, raccoon-size marsupials bite each other, the transmissible cancer has killed up to 80% of the devils in Tasmania, their only home for millennia. Some researchers saw extinction as inevitable. Now, a new study in Science, suggests the remaining 15,000 devils have reached a détente with the cancer. Until recently it was spreading exponentially, like the pandemic coronavirus among humans in many parts of the world. But geneticists calculate that each infected devil now transmits tumor cells to just one—or fewer—other devils. That could mean the disease may disappear over time.


The EFF responds to Facebook’s attack on Apple regarding Apple’s decison to have users opt-in to having their data useddecorative leaf bulletFacebook’s Laughable Campaign Against Apple Is Really Against Users and Small Businesses

Facebook’s campaign is targeting a new AppTrackingTransparency feature on iPhones that will require apps to request permission from users before tracking them across other apps and websites or sharing their information with and from third parties. Requiring trackers to request your consent before stalking you across the Internet should be an obvious baseline, and we applaud Apple for this change. But Facebook, having built a massive empire around the concept of tracking everything you do by letting applications sell and share your data across a shady set of third-party companies, would like users and policymakers to believe otherwise.
Make no mistake: this latest campaign from Facebook is one more direct attack against our privacy and, despite its slick packaging, it’s also an attack against other businesses, both large and small.

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💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bullet The inside story of how Trump’s denial, mismanagement and magical thinking led to the pandemic’s dark winter

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

SetApp: A Suite of macOS Apps for a Single Price Affiliate link for a great collection of 75+ apps for a single price.

Something Wonderful

H/T mccarrdey Video: decorative leaf bullet

Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.