Elsewhere for April 10, 2021

You should read this for 4/10/2021:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bullet‘Some kind of modern day western’: inside the world of concrete cowboys

Concrete Cowboy, which premiered last year at the Toronto film festival and is now available on Netflix, is a gritty drama about a father-son relationship set around the Fletcher Street Stables, one of the first stables in inner-city Philadelphia and now among the last.

It dates back more than a century to when horse-drawn wagons delivered produce, laundry and milk. That era drew to a close in the late 1950s when cars and trucks took over but the historic barns survived as a precious community focal point and safe haven – often without the knowledge of city residents living just a few miles away.

decorative leaf bulletGaming technology recreates 16th-century music in Scottish chapel

The sounds of an Easter concert performed for James IV in a Scottish chapel have been recreated using gaming technology alongside groundbreaking recording techniques that allow specialists to model how acoustics would have been affected by long-destroyed interior details, such as the curve of an alabaster sculpture or an oak roof beam.

decorative leaf bulletKhraniteli: The Soviet take on Lord of the Rings

decorative leaf bulletA 3,000-year-old ‘lost golden city’ has been unearthed in Egypt

A 3,000-year-old “lost golden city” has been unearthed in the southern city of Luxor, a discovery that could be the most significant find in Egypt since the tomb of the boy king Tutankhamun, the archaeological mission said Thursday in a statement.

The lost city, known as Aten, is believed to have been founded by King Amenhotep III, the ninth king of ancient Egypt’s 18th dynasty who ruled the country from 1391 to 1353 B.C., the mission’s statement said. It is believed to be the largest administrative and industrial settlement in that era, nestled on the western bank of Luxor.

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bulletBiden’s infrastructure plan should cover childcare and home care. Here’s why

What we need to understand better as a nation is that our infrastructure does not just look like steel, concrete and transport – it is also the nurturing, patience and diligence of care workers. Care work touches all of our lives from beginning to end, from the unpaid labor of those who raise us as children, childcare workers, teachers, home aides and healthcare workers, to those who care for us in old age and see us through the end of our lives. Care is one of the strongest pillars of our economy, yet those who do this work – disproportionately Black and brown women, often immigrants – are under-supported, undervalued and under-compensated, if compensated at all.

Just as our physical infrastructure is crumbling and requires substantial reinvestment in a 21st-century economy, our care infrastructure is fundamentally broken. As the only industrialized country in the world without a national paid family and medical leave program, only 17% of our people have paid family leave through their employers. Hundreds of thousands face daunting waitlists for essential home care. Childcare is the highest household expense for families in much of the United States. And the median annual pay of childcare and home care workers is $25,510 and $17,200, respectively, leading to high turnover and reliance on public

decorative leaf bulletWhat’s In Biden’s $400 Billion Plan To Support Families’ Long-Term Health Needs

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletSomeone is hiding R-rated ‘Fifty Shades’ movies at Berkley Library This is an old story, from 2018, but I love the way the library responded.

decorative leaf bulletThe Books Briefing: Beverly Cleary Saw Kids as They Are

[Beverly Cleary], who died last week, drew from intense memories of her own early life to write about kids with rare understanding and care. She understood—and respected—children’s inner feelings. Many saw their own awkward experiences reflected in those of Cleary’s characters; they felt heard by her words. For my colleague Sophie Gilbert, the author’s depiction of mortification stood out the most. Learning that she was not alone in even her most humiliating moments, Gilbert writes, was one of the most potent lessons of Cleary’s work. Many of the best children’s books work like this—by helping kids identify difficult emotions and then work through them.

decorative leaf bulletThe GOP claim that only 5 to 7 percent of Biden’s plan is for ‘real infrastructure’

Biden proposes to spend $2.3 trillion on an eclectic mix of programs over 10 years. From roads, bridges and airports to railways, ports, water systems, the electric grid and high-speed broadband, about one-quarter to half of the plan is dedicated to transportation and utilities, depending on how you count.

decorative leaf bullet‘Race against the clock’: the school fighting to save the Ojibwe language before its elders pass away

Climate Change | Climate Repair

decorative leaf bulletHow kelp forests off California are responding to an urchin takeover

California’s kelp forests, which provide a rich habitat for marine organisms, got hit by a double whammy of ecological disasters in the past decade, says UC Santa Cruz ecologist Mark Carr. He is a coauthor on the Communications Biology paper who has mentored both McPherson and Smith.

First, sea star wasting syndrome wiped out local populations of sunflower sea stars (Pycnopodia helianthoides), which typically feed on urchins (SN: 1/20/21). Without sea stars, purple sea urchins (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) proliferated.

The second wallop was a marine heat wave so big and persistent it was nicknamed “The Blob” (SN: 12/14/17). While kelp forests have been resilient to warming events before, this one was so extreme it spiked temperatures in many parts of the Pacific to 2 to 3 degrees Celsius above normal (SN: 1/15/20).

Kelp thrives in cold and nutrient rich water. As its growth slowed in the warmer water, less kelp drifted into the crevices of the reefs where sea urchins typically lurk. With a key predator gone and a newfound need to forage for food rather than waiting for it to come to them, urchins emerged and turned the remaining kelp into a giant buffet.

Video: decorative leaf bulletRowley Shoals: thriving Australian reef shows what’s possible when ecosystems are untouched by humans

H/T Om Malik: decorative leaf bulletWaves of Abandonment

Laura and her husband noticed that the pumpjacks on the 7S wells rarely moved much, an indication they weren’t actually producing much oil for sale. However, the family did see the wells leaking oil and gushing produced water — an industry byproduct that’s often imbued with hazardous chemicals. . . . The situation isn’t much better elsewhere in the Permian Basin. Texas and New Mexico have already identified about 7,000 abandoned wells that were once operated by over 1,000 companies. State officials estimate these will cost $335 million to plug. The states define wells as “orphaned” if they don’t have an approved operator on record; additionally, Texas only includes wells that haven’t produced in at least a year. However, a healthy chunk of roughly 100,000 “idled” wells in those states could also eventually end up abandoned.

decorative leaf bulletLemurs and giant tortoises among species at risk if global heating hits 3C

Unique island species including lemurs and the Galapagos giant tortoise could be at high risk of extinction if the planet warms by more than 3C above pre-industrial levels, new research warns.

Analysis of 270 biodiversity hotspots suggests almost half of endemic marine species and 84% of endemic mountain species will face extinction if the planet warms by more than 3C, which if current trends continue could happen in 2100.

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletNew CDC Guidance Lifts Most Domestic Travel Restrictions For Fully Vaccinated People

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its domestic travel guidance for fully vaccinated people, lifting certain testing and self-quarantine requirements but continuing to recommend precautions like wearing a mask and avoiding crowds.

decorative leaf bulletStudy: COVID-19 Vaccine Is Safe During Pregnancy And May Protect Baby, Too

decorative leaf bullet‘A moment of peril’: Biden sees infections climb on his watch

decorative leaf bulletCDC Says More Virulent British Strain Of Coronavirus Now Dominant In U.S.

A more easily spread coronavirus variant first identified in England last year has now become the dominant strain in the U.S., the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

The variant, known as B.1.1.7, spread quickly across the United Kingdom and Ireland beginning last fall, with the more infectious version of the coronavirus thwarting restrictions and lockdowns that had earlier helped keep the original strain in check.

B.1.1.7 is “now the most common lineage circulating in the United States,Æ CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a White House media briefing on Wednesday.

decorative leaf bulletYou Can Stop Disinfecting Your Home Now, CDC Says

decorative leaf bulletGot a strange text about your COVID vaccine? Here’s what could be going on

At 9:38 p.m. on a Monday evening, I received what seemed like a pretty important text from a sender I did not know.

“View a digital record of your vaccination,” it read.

The text also congratulated me on having received my second dose, and reminded me to wait one to two weeks for full protection. Immediately, my alarms bells went off, and I wondered: “Is this a scam?”

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletTen Years of Wine Wars

Via Smitten Kitchen: decorative leaf bulletsheet pan chow mein

decorative leaf bulletWhy Do Some People Think Cilantro Tastes Like Soap?

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletBronze Age slab found in France is oldest 3D map in Europe

decorative leaf bulletAncient human migration into Europe revealed via genome analysis

Genetic sequencing of human remains dating back 45,000 years has revealed a previously unknown migration into Europe and showed intermixing with Neanderthals in that period was more common than previously thought.
The research is based on analysis of several ancient human remains – including a whole tooth and bone fragments – found in a cave in Bulgaria last year.

decorative leaf bullet‘Exciting’ Stone Age discoveries in the Cairngorms


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Archaeologists found stone tools and traces of firepits and possible shelters in Deeside in the Cairngorms.

Finds from the Mesolithic period, also known as the Middle Stone Age, are rare and usually made in lowland areas.

Politics and Society

decorative leaf bulletA QAnon revelation suggests the truth of Q’s identity was right there all along

The extremist movement’s leader had purported to be a top-secret government operative. But a possible slip-up in a new documentary about QAnon suggests that Q was actually Ron Watkins, the longtime administrator of the 8kun message board.

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletNASA’s InSight Detects Two Sizable Quakes on Mars

The magnitude 3.3 and 3.1 temblors originated in a region called Cerberus Fossae, further supporting the idea that this location is seismically active.

NASA’s InSight lander has detected two strong, clear quakes originating in a location of Mars called Cerberus Fossae – the same place where two strong quakes were seen earlier in the mission. The new quakes have magnitudes of 3.3 and 3.1; the previous quakes were magnitude 3.6 and 3.5. InSight has recorded over 500 quakes to date, but because of their clear signals, these are four of the best quake records for probing the interior of the planet.

Studying marsquakes is one way the InSight science team seeks to develop a better understanding of Mars’ mantle and core. The planet doesn’t have tectonic plates like Earth, but it does have volcanically active regions that can cause rumbles. The March 7 and March 18 quakes add weight to the idea that Cerberus Fossae is a center of seismic activity.

H/T Frances: decorative leaf bulletThe weird and wonderful Eucyclodes caterpillar

decorative leaf bulletRates of Parkinson’s disease are exploding. A common chemical may be to blame

Most cases of Parkinson’s disease are considered idiopathic – they lack a clear cause. Yet researchers increasingly believe that one factor is environmental exposure to trichloroethylene (TCE), a chemical compound used in industrial degreasing, dry-cleaning and household products such as some shoe polishes and carpet cleaners.


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Technology

decorative leaf bulletFacebook attributes 533 million users’ data leak to “scraping” not hacking

decorative leaf bulletStanford Research Explains and Helps Prevent Zoom Fatigue

decorative leaf bulletThe woman who took on Google and won

decorative leaf bulletWix and Their Dirty Tricks Matt puts his thumb squarely on my primary personal objection to Wix: you can’t take your data with you, it’s not exportable, and you can’t back it up.


SetApp: A Suite of macOS Apps for a Single Price Affiliate link for a great collection of ver 200 apps for macOS and iOS for a flat subscription fee.


Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletGay, communist, female: why MI5 blacklisted the poet Valentine Ackland

decorative leaf bulletSinger Brandi Carlile Talks Ambition, Avoidance And Finally Finding Her Place

“I need to get a grip on my ambition. I need to start enjoying being here instead of constantly trying to prove that I have a right to be here, constantly trying to fit and assimilate. And at some point, I need to realize that I am where I’m supposed to be and that I don’t necessarily need to keep climbing.”

decorative leaf bulletAfter A Major Hack, U.S. Looks To Fix A Cyber ‘Blind Spot’

FireEye said it uncovered the breach only because a new woman employee on its security team was particularly vigilant. She noticed someone using the credentials of a FireEye salesman was logging in with a new mobile phone. When she checked with the salesman, who said the phone didn’t belong to him. It turned out the phone belonged to a cyber intruder.

decorative leaf bulletShe was the ‘secret’ Wonder Woman writer in the 1940s. Here’s how she finally got her due at 94.

decorative leaf bulletTaylor Swift releases a ‘perfect replica’ of Fearless

decorative leaf bulletShe sued for pregnancy discrimination. Now she’s battling Google’s army of lawyers

“What’s very clear is that Google does not take action regarding discrimination,” said Glasson. “This is in large part because it is a massive organization with huge resources at its disposal to fight someone like me – it’s not at all a fair fight.”

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰 | The Insurrection President 🤥🤥👖🔥

decorative leaf bulletOath Keepers founder swapped calls with members during Capitol attack

The founder of far-right group the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes, his lieutenant, and three members of the militia who guarded Donald Trump ally Roger Stone swapped numerous phone calls in a three-hour period on 6 January when the Capitol was attacked by a mob, prosecutors said Thursday.

These exchanges coincided with the initial assault on police barricades outside Congress, and continued into when the three guards breached the US Capitol building, according to the Washington Post.

Thank you 🤥🤥👖🔥: decorative leaf bulletU.S. Capitol Police Officer Killed In Attack At Capitol Checkpoint

One U.S. Capitol Police officer is dead and another is hospitalized with injuries after an apparent attack Friday at a Capitol checkpoint in which a man rammed his car into officers and lunged at them with a knife, police said.
Capitol Police identified the slain officer as William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year veteran of the force.

decorative leaf bulletTrump used dark patterns to trick supporters into donating millions more than intended

By June 2020, the Trump campaign had begun using dark patterns, computer interfaces designed to trick users, to automatically sign up campaign contributors to donate far more money than they had intended — recurring monthly donations, recurring weekly donations, even a one-time surprise “money bomb” per month — by pre-checking the checkboxes for each option, burying the fine print under paragraphs of bold text, and forcing his supporters to wade through it all and opt out if they wanted to make a simple donation.

decorative leaf bulletMan Indicted For Attacking Officer With Skateboard During U.S. Capitol Riot

A federal grand jury in Washington indicted a Florida man for taking his skateboard to the head of a Metropolitan Police officer during the U.S. Capitol insurrection Jan. 6. . . . Owens was captured on body camera footage using a skateboard to assault an unnamed Metropolitan Police officer, referred to as “C.B.” outside of the Capitol building, according to prosecutors. The attack caused a concussion and finger injury to the police officer.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bullet‘We found a baby on the subway – now he’s our son’

decorative leaf bulletEaster promise: the patisserie built on a friendship that bridges Istanbul’s divides

Stuff I Wrote

decorative leaf bulletApril from Walters W.425

Something Wonderful

JPL | Hubble Space Telescope: decorative leaf bulletThe Veil Nebula

This image taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope revisits the Veil Nebula, which was featured in a previous Hubble image release. In this image, new processing techniques have been applied, bringing out fine details of the nebula’s delicate threads and filaments of ionized gas.

decorative leaf bulletTo raise awareness of her native language, 16-year-old Emma Stevens sang a version of The Beatles’ 1968 classic “Blackbird” in the Mi’kmaq language, an Eastern Algonquian language spoken by nearly 11,000 in Canada and the United States.

This is so cool: decorative leaf bulletTwo bots, one selfie. Greetings from Jezero Crater, where I’ve taken my first selfie of the mission. I’m also watching the #MarsHelicopter Ingenuity as it gets ready for its first flight in a few days. Daring mighty things indeed. See Nasa’s statement (really worth reading).

NASA’s newest Mars rover used a camera on the end of its robotic arm to snap this shot of itself with the Ingenuity helicopter nearby.
NASA’s newest Mars rover used a camera on the end of its robotic arm to snap this shot of itself with the Ingenuity helicopter nearby.
Image credit: Perseverance NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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Elsewhere for April 3, 2021

You should read this for 4/3/2021:

Art, Music, and Film

H/T Anne Leckie: decorative leaf bulletBerlin’s plan to return Benin bronzes piles pressure on UK museums

Berlin is negotiating to fully restitute hundreds of the Benin bronzes in a shift of policy that has been welcomed in Nigeria but will put pressure on museums in London and Oxford to also return artefacts looted from Britain’s former west African empire in 1897.

More than 500 historical objects including 440 bronzes from the Kingdom of Benin, in what is now southern Nigeria, are held at the Ethnological Museum in the German capital. Half of the collection was due to go on display this autumn at the Humboldt Forum, a newly opened museum of non-European art in the city centre.

More museums need to do this.

decorative leaf bulletIf the Queen has nothing to hide, she should tell us what artefacts she owns

The royal family has a history of acquiring looted objects, so its exemption from a law protecting cultural heritage raises questions

decorative leaf bulletSir Ian McKellen on playing ‘young prince’ Hamlet at 81

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bulletBiden administration fires most Homeland Security Advisory Council members

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas fired most members of the department’s independent advisory council on Friday, a purge that included several allies of former president Donald Trump and veteran officials who served under both parties.

Former Department of Homeland Security officials and advisory board members who worked under Democratic and Republican administrations said they could not remember so many members being dismissed at once, as the general practice of past administrations was to allow appointees to serve out their terms before replacing them.

decorative leaf bulletBiden attacks new Georgia voting law as ‘Jim Crow’

“Among the outrageous parts of this new state law, it ends voting hours early so working people can’t cast their vote after their shift is over,” Biden said of the Georgia statute. “It adds rigid restrictions on casting absentee ballots that will effectively deny the right to vote to countless voters.”

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletLibraries Are Key Tools For People Getting Out of Prison, Even During A Pandemic

decorative leaf bulletCaptain Underpants author withdraws book over ‘passive racism’

Captain Underpants author Dav Pilkey has apologised for “harmful racial stereotypes and passively racist imagery” in one of his graphic novels for children, which has been withdrawn by his publisher amid a surge in anti-Asian violence in the US.

Jon Udell: decorative leaf bulletOriginal memories

Scott Woods: decorative leaf bulletThe Other Columbus: Letter to a child crying in the library in 2021

Climate Change | Climate Repair

decorative leaf bulletJapan’s cherry blossom bloom – in pictures

Japan’s famous cherry blossoms have reached their flowery peak in many places earlier this year than at any time since records began nearly 70 years ago, and experts say climate change is the probable cause

decorative leaf bulletDestruction of world’s forests increased sharply in 2020

decorative leaf bulletGlobal tree loss can’t hide from these cloud-piercing radar satellites

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bullet‘The earlier you act, the more impact’: how Seattle tech industry led on Covid

ast year, four days after the first recorded Covid-19 death in the United States was reported in Kirkland, Washington, just east of Seattle, Microsoft leaders jumped into action – recommending that their employees in the area work from home. Two days later, Amazon made a similar declaration.

Combined, their announcements affected more than 100,000 employees in this Pacific north-west tech hub and came days before the Washington state governor’s first major Covid mandate and more than a week before the US president declared an emergency for Covid.

decorative leaf bulletCovid probably passed to humans from bats via other animal, finds WHO report

Covid-19 probably passed to humans from a bat via an intermediary animal, an international expert mission to China has concluded in a report, with investigators all but ruling out a laboratory leak.
The intermediate host hypothesis was deemed “likely to very likely”, while the theory that the virus escaped from a lab was considered “extremely unlikely”, according to a copy of the long-awaited final report seen by AFP on Monday before its official release.

decorative leaf bulletDr. Anthony Fauci Does Not Expect A 4th Coronavirus Wave To Hit The U.S.

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletMy Greek granny’s grilled sea bream is summer on a plate – here’s her recipe

decorative leaf bulletFancy a deep red? The rise of underwater wineries

Working with a small team, he secured permission to rent 500 square metres of seabed in the bay of Plentzia on Spain’s north coast, sinking specially designed structures capable of storing wine while also acting as an artificial reef. Winemakers across the country soon joined in the experiment, sending bottles of wine for Saracho to plunge into the sea.

The results transformed Saracho into a proponent of underwater ageing and culminated in the launch of Crusoe Treasure, one of Spain’s largest underwater wineries, in 2010. “It was astounding,” he said. “The wines’ evolution underwater was very distinct from what would happen with the same grape on land.”

decorative leaf bulletYou Should Roast Garlic in Your Air Fryer

decorative leaf bulletMussel memory: I loved picking them in Scotland as a boy – here’s my recipe

History and Archaeology

H/T Lisa Carnell: decorative leaf bulletDid the Black Death Rampage Across the World a Century Earlier Than Previously Thought?

In December, the historian Monica Green published a landmark article, The Four Black Deaths, in the American Historical Review, that rewrites our narrative of this brutal and transformative pandemic. In it, she identifies a “big bang” that created four distinct genetic lineages that spread separately throughout the world and finds concrete evidence that the plague was already spreading from China to central Asia in the 1200s. This discovery pushes the origins of the Black Death back by over a hundred years, meaning that the first wave of the plague was not a decades-long explosion of horror, but a disease that crept across the continents for over a hundred years until it reached a crisis point.

decorative leaf bulletMassive ancient ceremonial site ‘on par with Salisbury Plain’ discovered in Scotland

The ceremonial complex, which dates to 3,800 BC, may have been a cursus monument – a cathedral-style complex of its day that was built by the surrounding community and visited in large numbers for ritual activity.

Archaeologists discovered a line of early Neolithic postholes rising up along a ridge towards an artificial hill, Droughduil Mound, which has views over Luce Bay.

H/T Lisa Carnell: decorative leaf bulletIron Age warriors were laid to rest on fluffy down pillows

Archaeologists have found the remains of downy pillows in the graves of two high-ranking Iron Age warriors in Sweden, dating to the 600s and 700s CE. Both warriors were buried in large boats, along with weapons, food, and horses. Down from the pillows suggests locally sourced stuffing that may have had a symbolic meaning to the people preparing the burial.

Politics and Society

Bernie Sanders: decorative leaf bulletThe rich-poor gap in America is obscene. So let’s fix it – here’s how

Poverty in America has become a death sentence.
Meanwhile, the people on top have never had it so good. The top 1% now own more wealth than the bottom 92%, and the 50 wealthiest Americans own more wealth than the bottom half of American society – 165 million people. While millions of Americans have lost their jobs and incomes during the pandemic, over the past year 650 billionaires have seen their wealth increase by $1.3tn.

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bullet‘Similar to having a baby, the euphoria’: rediscovery of rare gecko delights experts

Conservationists are celebrating the rediscovery as “incredibly significant”, with the elusive reptile not seen for more than a decade – and only twice ever.

The Cupola gecko was first documented in 1968, in scrub above the Cupola Hut in the Travers Range. Nearly 40 years after that first sighting, one was spotted in another part of the Nelson Lakes national park in 2007.


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Technology

decorative leaf bulletArtists reimagine the baseball card with iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

decorative leaf bullethttps://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/ubiquiti-cyberattack-may-be-far-worse-than-originally-disclosed/ See also: Ubiquiti is accused of covering up a ‘catastrophic’ data breach — and it’s not denying it
Change your passwords, and enable 2-factor authorization.


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Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletMichigan GOP leader calls top Democrats ‘witches,’ jokes about assassination of Republicans

The head of the Michigan GOP came under fire Friday for calling three female Democratic leaders “witches” to be burned “at the stake” and for mentioning “assassination” as an option for how to oust two Republican congressmen who voted to impeach former president Donald Trump.

State GOP Chairman Ron Weiser’s rhetoric, which was captured on video this week, was rebuked by Michigan Democrats as “sexist” and “dangerous” and led members of the University of Michigan Board of Regents to call for his resignation from the governing board. Included in Weiser’s “three witches” comment was Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), the target of a foiled kidnapping plot last year amid virulent criticism from her political opponents.

decorative leaf bulletRuby Rose on gender, bullying and breaking free: ‘I had a problem with authority’

decorative leaf bulletFemale Expression in a 15th-Century Manuscript “A new Getty acquisition features stories about women for the Queen of France”

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletYoung man with autism pens viral employment letter: ‘take a chance on me’ I’ve had a number of students who are autistic. Typically they’ve discovered how they learn best, and are adept at learning under those conditions, and eager to learn. Every single one of them was an asset in the classroom in terms of contributing and their kindness to other students, and a hard worker.

decorative leaf bulletGiant sandcastle built to bring sand martins home to roost in Surrey

A giant “sandcastle” has been constructed to encourage sand martins to nest at a nature reserve for the first time in 25 years, Surrey Wildlife Trust has said.
The 400-tonne sand installation at Spynes Mere, near Merstham, Surrey, was built by professional sand sculptors who used a “giant bucket mould” made from wooden boards, as well as the help of diggers and dumper trucks.

Sand martins visit the nature reserve when they migrate from sub-Saharan Africa each year, arriving from mid-March to feed until September, but they have not nested there for 25 years.

H/T @annagenoese: decorative leaf bulletThe
Ali Forney Center Amazon Wish List

The Ali Forney Center is the nation’s largest homeless LGBT youth services provider. We rely on the support of the community to provide New York City’s homeless LGBT youth with the resources they need to reclaim their lives and live independently. This wish list is for items to serve our youth. Most items are for basic needs: socks, underwear, and T-Shirts. From time-to-time we will have special needs (monitors, DVD’s, Books). To learn more about our work please visit www.aliforneycenter.org or you can call us at 212-206-9349. Thank you for your support — Please note: Any purchase you make off of this list is tax deductible. You can save your amazon receipt along with an AFC acknowledgement letter for tax purposes.

decorative leaf bulletHow Not To Say The Wrong Thing

Stuff I Wrote

decorative leaf bullethttps://www.digitalmedievalist.com/2021/04/01/april-from-walters-w-425/</a

Something Wonderful

decorative leaf bulletThe 17-year-old blacksmith going viral online

decorative leaf bulletEndangered condors return to northern California skies after nearly a century

The reintroduction efforts there have largely been led by the Yurok Tribe, whose ancestral land encompasses large swaths of forest and coastline in northern California and parts of Redwood national park that were once home to the condor.

The tribe has planned for the bird’s return for over a decade, and its proposal was accepted on 24 March by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Through close collaboration with Redwood national park, the tribe will begin the creation of a captive breeding facility within the boundaries of the park. The facility will house captive-bred condors that could be released into the park as early as this fall.

Video with sound. H/T Scof: decorative leaf bulletBearenting


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 March 27, 2021

You should read this for 3/27/2021:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletWhy are historical figures presumed straight? Francis Lee on causing outrage with Ammonite

Lee considers himself an outsider. “There just aren’t that many queer working-class people in the film industry,” he says. So he was taken aback to be informed that he shouldn’t tell lesbian stories. “It’s been a real lesson for me in identity politics. I know I can’t talk for Mary because I’m not a 19th-century palaeontologist, but I do think I can talk with her. What I tried to do was to take this working-class woman, who hadn’t been recognised in her lifetime, and elevate her. I wanted to contextualise her in terms of a relationship. And because men had blocked and overlooked her, and reappropriated her work for themselves, I felt that this relationship couldn’t be with a man.”

decorative leaf bulletA Gem of a Mystery “Curator Kenneth Lapatin sleuths out the truth about the Getty Gnaios”

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bullet200 Million Shots In 100 Days: Biden Issues New Vaccine Goal

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletHow Libraries Are Leading The Way To Digital Equity

Broadband and computers, critical to all libraries, fit into the ecology of libraries in different ways, depending on the demographics, the wants and needs, and technological experience of their customers. Here are three examples. . . . In a quickly changing digital environment, Tetzloff describes a neighborhood where lots of people are left behind. “People come in and are very unsure how to use computers. It is a lot of our job: How to use a mouse, use a computer, from square one.” Then he continues importantly, “Even kids. In conventional wisdom, kids are naturals; they’ve grown up with it. But in fact, our kids are not very good at technology. They know how to get to favorite games, look at videos. But they don’t have the slightest idea how to research a paper for school.”

These are the kids who haven’t grown up exposed to the internet, who have no access at home, who don’t have a parent who can teach them. For them, “the tech gap is getting worse, not better,” he said. . . . In Hilliard, broadband is the thing. More people have their own devices, and bring them in to log on to the library’s Wi-Fi. Looking around the study tables and into the small meeting rooms, she says that everybody is using the Wi-Fi. Why? “Some can’t afford Wi-Fi, for sure.” Teenagers will come in with the iPads issued by their schools to use Wi-Fi they may not have access to at home.

decorative leaf bullet‘Self-satisfied pork butcher’: Shakespeare grave effigy believed to be definitive likeness

A groundbreaking discovery means we finally know at least how Shakespeare wanted to be seen.
The effigy above his grave in Holy Trinity church in Stratford-upon-Avon was thought to have been installed several years after his death in 1616 and, as a posthumous memorial, not an actual likeness. The 20th-century critic John Dover Wilson once characterised it as that of a “self-satisfied pork butcher”. But new research has found that the bust was in fact modelled from life by a sculptor who knew him.

decorative leaf bulletPeter S. Beagle and Ownership Group Regain Control of Rights to His Work Following Sale Approved by Bankruptcy Court

For Peter Beagle, his journey over the past several years has reinforced the dangers of elder abuse and the urgent need to shine a spotlight on this far too common and sinister crime.  Older people, and often older writers, can be easy targets, particularly individuals whose age might make them more susceptible to claims that they’re in cognitive decline.  These types of insidious suggestions and claims – notions that someone has dementia or looks like “they’re losing it” –serve to reinforce typical fears, creating and heightening self-doubt even when it is not warranted.  The result can be terrifying for any vulnerable older person.  The risk for the elderly is great when confronted by someone like Beagle’s former manager who, as described by the Superior Court of California in Beagle’s case, “…presents as an extremely intelligent, articulate, overly-aggressive hustler and pitchman…[with]…a flair for the dramatic that is at best loosely based in truth.”

Climate Change | Climate Repair

decorative leaf bullet“Climate facts are back”: EPA brings science back to website after Trump purge

Canceled four years ago by a president who considered global warming a hoax, climate crisis information has returned to the website of the US government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of Joe Biden’s promise to “bring science back”.

The revival of a page dedicated to the climate emergency reverses Donald Trump’s order in 2017 to drop all references to it from government websites, and prioritises the Biden administration’s pledge to “organize and deploy the full capacity of its agencies to combat the climate crisis”.

In a statement, Michael Regan, confirmed by the US Senate last week as the federal agency’s new head, said: “Climate facts are back on the EPA’s website where they should be. Considering the urgency of this crisis, it’s critical that Americans have access to information and resources so that we can all play a role in protecting our environment, our health and vulnerable communities.”

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletHow Iceland clamped down to conquer coronavirus

When I asked Gylfi what had given Iceland this edge, he was adamant: “It has been the scientists making up the rules, not the politicians. That matters. They know what they are talking about, the politicians do not.”

At every step, Iceland has followed the science, led by Prof Gudnason and his team, with politicians nowhere to be seen in the daily briefings.

Education

decorative leaf bulletA DeVos System Allowed 12 Minutes to Decide Student Loan Forgiveness “Education Dept. documents filed in federal court describe a process that denied 130,000 claims from borrowers who say schools misled them.”

Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made no secret of her disdain for a program intended to forgive the federal student loans of borrowers who were ripped off by schools that defrauded their students. She called it a “free money” giveaway, let hundreds of thousands of claims languish for years and slashed the amount of relief granted to some successful applicants to $0.

Then, after a class-action lawsuit made it impossible to stall any longer, her agency built what amounted to an assembly line of rejection.

NPR Audio (with transcript): decorative leaf bulletNew Data Highlight Disparities In Students Learning In Person

As of January and early February of this year, 44% of elementary students and 48% of middle school students in the survey remained fully remote. And the survey found large differences by race: 69% of Asian, 58% of Black and 57% of Hispanic fourth graders were learning entirely remotely, while just 27% of White students were.

Conversely, nearly half of white fourth-graders were learning full-time in person, compared with just 15% of Asian, 28% of Black and 33% of Hispanic fourth-graders. The remainder had hybrid schedules.

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletMadhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery was a guide to another world

There was this terrible British version of curry cooked at home involving onions, cooking apples, chuck beef and astringent curry powder,” Lawrence says. Jaffrey’s recipes promised something else. Here is a deep, rust-coloured Kashmiri rogan josh, bursting with clove and asafoetida. Here’s aubergine in the pickling style, here is chana dal and makkhani murgha, or butter chicken. Here is a guidebook for another place entirely.

decorative leaf bulletRachel Roddy’s recipe for chicken with rosemary, tomatoes and olives

. . . a recipe from Oretta Zanini Di Vita’s The Food of Rome and Lazio: History, Folklore and Recipes, and the section about the cooking of the Ciociaria, the name given to the Roman countryside that extends from the south of Rome to Cassino. The recipe is one of dozens of variations on the hunter’s-style chicken theme, but in this version, rosemary – pungent, resinous, bitter and beautiful – is queen, hence the name, pollo al rosmarino.

decorative leaf bulletHow to make the perfect sole meunière – recipe

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bullet‘This is radical love’ – the glorious, rich history of black queer Britain

We launched the digital archive Black and Gay, Back in the Day on Instagram at the start of LGBTQ History Month on 1 February. We wanted to document the lives of Black queer people in Britain – not just those seen as icons or famous figures but the everyday people who contributed to the building of Black culture and frequented Black spaces. The response was overwhelming – and our collection of images, based on public submissions, is growing every week.

Our priority is the history that has been buried – the old clothes, creased photographs, leaflets and posters – hidden in people’s homes. This gives our archive the feel of a family photo album, with images that evoke memories, connect old lovers and educate younger Black queers about the spaces that have existed in the past.

decorative leaf bulletVesuvius killed people of Pompeii in 15 minutes, study suggests

Numerous studies have confirmed that the estimated 2,000 people who died in the Roman city were asphyxiated rather than killed by the lava. And work by researchers from the University of Bari, in collaboration with the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) and the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh, says the pyroclastic flow – a dense, fast-moving current of solidified lava pieces, volcanic ash and hot gases – engulfed Pompeii just a few minutes after the volcano erupted.

decorative leaf bulletWelsh rabbits serve up prehistoric finds on tiny Skokholm Island

Politics and Society

decorative leaf bulletFour Proud Boys leaders charged over alleged roles in US Capitol attack

Four men described as leaders of the far-right Proud Boys group have been charged in the US Capitol riot, as an indictment ordered unsealed on Friday presents fresh evidence of how federal officials believe members planned and carried out a coordinated attack to stop Congress certifying Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

At least 19 leaders, members or associates of the neo-fascist Proud Boys have been charged in federal court with offenses related to the 6 January riot, which resulted in five deaths.
The latest indictment suggests the Proud Boys deployed a much larger contingent in Washington, with more than 60 users “participating in” an encrypted messaging channel for group members created a day before.

decorative leaf bullet‘Walk One Day In Our Shoes’: Life Near Minimum Wage

When experts study low-wage jobs, workers like Montooth and Barnes are actually often left out, because traditionally, labor data focus on the “prime working age” of 25 to 54. Martha Ross from the Brookings Institution decided to expand her research to workers 18 to 64, including part-timers — and was shocked at her discovery.

Adjusting for regional differences in the cost of living, Ross found 53 million low-wage workers in America, with median earnings of $10.22 an hour, or $17,950 a year.
“This is a huge swath of our labor market,” Ross says. “It really made me think about the kinds of jobs that we’re creating.”

decorative leaf bulletHow the US Tax Code Privileges White Families

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletTardigrades: nature’s great survivors

decorative leaf bulletSmooth newts to turn gardens into mating hotspots after dark

decorative leaf bulletHumans Accidentally Created a Death Trap for Bald Eagles

But as the toll rose, to more than 70 eagles in total, the mass die-off of America’s national bird in the president’s home state took on outsize symbolic importance. Scientists around the country were detailed to the case, but they kept coming up empty: It wasn’t botulism. It wasn’t heavy metals. It wasn’t pesticides. It didn’t seem to be anything known to man.


Referral link: CuriosityStream delivers shows across the full spectrum of non-fiction genres to demystify science, nature, history, technology, society, lifestyle and more. $19.99/year (or $2.99/month) for thousands of films.


Technology

decorative leaf bulletThe Mess At Medium

But in the end, frustrated that Medium staff journalists’ stories weren’t converting more free readers to paid ones, Williams moved to wind down the experiment — throwing dozens of journalists’ livelihoods into question, just as he had in 2015, when he laid off 50 people amid a pivot away from advertising on the site. (This 2019 history of the company by Laura Hazard Owen in Nieman Lab offers a definitive look at the company’s stop-start relationship with journalism up to that point.) . . . But interviews with 14 current and former Medium employees over the past day paint a portrait of a dysfunctional company built to celebrate writing only to become famous for its poor treatment of writers.

And not only writers: In recent weeks, Medium’s chief operating officer and vice president of engineering left the company. Several other engineers are leaving or planning to. Williams is now the company’s CEO, de facto COO, and since last year, its head of product.

What Medium did well was creating the UI for writing. Not so much with curation, editing, etc.


SetApp: A Suite of macOS Apps for a Single Price Affiliate link for a great collection of ver 200 apps for macOS and iOS for a flat subscription fee.


Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletAlone in Oman: Covid worsens abuse for trafficked women

sha knew she was in trouble when her passport was snatched from her hands. The 27-year-old from Sierra Leone had just arrived in the Omani capital, Muscat, believing she was to start a well-paid job at a restaurant. Instead, her recruitment agent bundled her into a car and drove her to a house where she was told she would be working as a live-in maid.
“My agent told me he could take my passport because he had bought me,” she says. “I was confused. How can you buy a human being?”

decorative leaf bulletTop Saudi official issued death threat against UN’s Khashoggi investigator

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰 Trump 🤥🤥👖🔥 The Insurrection President

decorative leaf bulletRoger Stone keeps appearing in Capitol breach investigation court filings

The images show Stone had previous interactions with at least three more defendants who prosecutors have accused of being players in organizing the Jan. 6 breach. Although investigators continue to bump into Stone as they probe members of the Oath Keepers and of the Proud Boys, another right-wing group charged with leading the assault, it remains unclear what that means as prosecutors review what, if any, influence Stone, other high-profile right-wing figures or Trump associates had on them.

decorative leaf bulletFormer Green Beret, Army reservist who wore Hitler mustache jailed pending trial on Jan. 6 Capitol riot charges

Hale-Cusanelli ran an antisemitic podcast, wore a Hitler mustache to work and shared violent, racist fantasies with colleagues, prosecutors said. After the Capitol breach, which disrupted Congress’s confirmation of the 2020 presidential election results and the peaceful transfer of power, Hale-Cusanelli expressed hope for a “civil war, at a time when we’re having concerns about that in this country,” Assistant U.S. Attorney James Nelson said.

. . .

Separately, a federal magistrate denied bond for Jeffrey McKellop, 55, of Augusta County, Va., who served two enlistments totaling 22 years in the Army, including as a Special Forces communications sergeant.

McKellop is accused of throwing a flagpole at a police officer like a spear and assaulting three other officers, according to the FBI and court documents.

decorative leaf bulletProsecutors Allege ‘Substantial Evidence’ Of Oath Keepers Conspiracy To Storm Capitol

The founder of the Oath Keepers militia had a 97-second phone call with a senior member of the group who minutes later took part in a military-style “stack” formation with other Oath Keepers to breach the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, according to federal prosecutors.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bullet“A letter tells someone they still matter”: the sudden, surprising return of the pen pal

In between lockdowns, she had been making paintings of the city’s board houses, or “den ol bode house”, in the local Krio language. These wooden dwellings were being replaced by large concrete developments, and Modarres wanted to document them before they disappeared. Cloistered in her rooms, she posted her pictures to Instagram and a Sierra Leone Facebook group, asking if anyone wanted to receive one and perhaps, she added tentatively, become a pen pal. In the end, she sent out around 60 paintings.

decorative leaf bulletThe Americans Who Knitted Their Own Safety Net

Stuff I Wrote

Something Wonderful

decorative leaf bulletWildfires: Cambridgeshire archive saves couple’s wedding album

decorative leaf bulletMars Perseverance iPhone wallpapers

decorative leaf bulletUluru waterfalls: Rain brings ‘unique’ sight to Australian landmark Do check the images and video in the link; amazing!


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 March 20, 2021

Art, Music, and Film

H/T : decorative leaf bulletA 25-Year-Old PhD Student Just Convinced Lego to Mass-Produce Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ as an Official Toy Kit

Podcast from December 2020: decorative leaf bulletThe Economist Asks: Viggo Mortensen How to talk about dementia—in real life and on screen

The actor, best known for playing Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, talks about directing his first feature film on caring for his parents who suffered from dementia. Anne McElvoy asks him why he prefers cinema to home-streaming and whether he believes people will return to the big screen after the pandemic.

Mortenson has some very good things to say about coping with dementia in your family, and I was particularly taken by his assertion that correcting someone who isn’t in the here and now, isn’t helpful or kind; I think he’s right.

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bulletDeb Haaland Confirmed As First Native American Interior Secretary

Her confirmation is as symbolic as it is historic. For much of its history, the Department of the Interior has been used as a tool of oppression against America’s indigenous peoples. In addition to managing the country’s public lands, endangered species and natural resources, the agency is also responsible for the government-to-government relations between the U.S. and Native American tribes.

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

Serious Fun Podcast: decorative leaf bulletEpisode 31: Martha’s Merry(?) Murderbots (w/ Martha Wells) I’m a definite Martha Wells fan, and I have really loved Martha Wells’ Murderbot books and novels, particularly in the Time of COVID-19. Good writer, good books, and a new one Fugitive Telemetry (The Murderbot Diaries Book 6) drops on April 27, 2021.

decorative leaf bulletAmazon’s Refusal To Let Libraries Lend Ebooks Shows Why Controlled Digital Lending Is So Important

Climate Change | Climate Repair

decorative leaf bulletClimate Change and the Wine Business

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletCOMIC: How One COVID-19 Nurse Navigates Anti-Mask Sentiment

decorative leaf bullet‘Here we go again with the theater’: Fauci pushes back on Rand Paul’s amateur epidemiology — again

Paul brought it again Thursday, and Fauci again made clear he has little patience for Paul’s nonexpert theories about the outbreak and Paul’s reading of studies about it.

At a Senate hearing, Paul pressed Fauci on health experts’ continued recommendation of masks even for people who have contracted the virus or who have been vaccinated. Paul repeatedly suggested wearing masks in those cases was “theater” — pointing specifically to Fauci wearing masks even though he has been vaccinated. . . . Fauci, though, noted that we simply don’t have enough information to be able to draw the kind of firm conclusion that Paul had — and that in the absence of that, mitigation is still the name of the game.

Fauci was fabulous during the HIV crises, and he’s still fabulous. Rand Paul isn’t.

Education

decorative leaf bulletEducation Dept. Begins Rolling Back Trump-Era Policies On Defrauded Students

The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday it is scrapping a controversial formula, championed by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, that granted only partial student loan relief to borrowers who were defrauded by private, for-profit colleges. It will instead adopt what it’s calling a “streamlined approach” for granting borrowers full relief.

Food and Drink

H/T Yasmin: decorative leaf bulletWhere to eat a traditional Japanese breakfast in Los Angeles

decorative leaf bulletHow to Remember the Difference Between Baking Powder and Baking Soda

History and Archaeology

She Was Buried With a Silver Crown. Was She the One Who Held Power?

A tomb unearthed in Spain has prompted archaeologists to reconsider assumptions about women’s power in Bronze Age European societies.

See the original Antiquity article: decorative leaf bulletEmblems and spaces of power during the Argaric Bronze Age at La Almoloya, Murcia

decorative leaf bulletDead Sea scroll fragments and ‘world’s oldest basket’ found in desert cave

The IAA said the scrolls it found were Greek translations of the books of Zechariah and Nahum from the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, and were radiocarbon-dated to the 2nd century AD. The name of God is written in Hebrew.

decorative leaf bulletArchaeologists shell-shocked by Iron Age party

new research into an Orkney Iron Age site suggests it was the scene of a massive prehistoric party, which saw the guests tuck into an astonishing amount of limpets and periwinkles.
More than 18,600 shells were found in a pit at The Cairns site, at South Ronaldsay.

Now radiocarbon dating technology has shown the pit was used in the fifth or sixth century AD, apparently to cook the shellfish before they were handed out to hungry guests. The shells – all 18,637 of them – were then put carefully back into the pit, perhaps as cooks and guests tidied up after their get-together.

decorative leaf bulletThe ancient fabric that no one knows how to make

Politics and Society

decorative leaf bulletHow Gop-Backed
Voting Measures Could Create Hurdles For Tens Of Millions Of Voters “At least 250 new laws have been
proposed in 43 states to limit mail, early in-person and Election Day voting.”

In 43 states across the country, Republican lawmakers have proposed at least 250 laws that would limit mail, early in-person and Election Day voting with such constraints as stricter ID requirements, limited hours or narrower eligibility to vote absentee, according to data compiled as of Feb. 19 by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice. Even more proposals have been introduced since then. . . . But in most cases, Republicans are proposing solutions in states where elections ran smoothly, including in many with results that Trump and his allies did not contest or allege to be tainted by fraud. The measures are likely to disproportionately affect those in cities and Black voters in particular, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic — laying bare, critics say, the GOP’s true intent: gaining electoral advantage.

Via NPR with audio and a partial transcript: decorative leaf bulletWave Of Bills To Block Trans Athletes Has No Basis In Science, Researcher Says

Often missing from the culture-war aspect of the debate is a focus on the type of questions that Dr. Eric Vilain has spent much of his career researching. Vilain, a pediatrician and geneticist who studies sex differences in athletes, says there are no good faith reasons to limit transgender women’s participation in sports, especially at the high school level. Vilain has advised both the International Olympic Committee and the NCAA, and says these laws generally aren’t based in scientific evidence, but rather “target women who have either a different biology or … simply look different.”

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletCone Snails Are Liars And Murderers

decorative leaf bulletStudy sheds light on role of fingerprints in sense of touch


Referral link for Curiosity Stream: CuriosityStream delivers shows across the full spectrum of non-fiction genres to demystify science, nature, history, technology, society, lifestyle and more. $19.99/year (or $2.99/month) for thousands of films.


Technology

decorative leaf bulletScientists unlock mysteries of world’s oldest ‘computer’

The Antikythera Mechanism has baffled experts since it was found on a Roman-era shipwreck in Greece in 1901.

The hand-powered Ancient Greek device is thought to have been used to predict eclipses and other astronomical events.

But only a third of the device survived, leaving researchers pondering how it worked and what it looked like.

decorative leaf bulletApple discontinues the HomePod, but the HomePod mini will live on I’m disappointed. I love my HomePod Mini so much I was planning on buying a pair of HomePods.

decorative leaf bulletTim Berners-Lee: ‘We need social networks where bad things happen less’

decorative leaf bulletAnimal Crossing: New Horizons’ First Year: A Timeline

decorative leaf bulletSpacewatch: mission to clean up space debris set for launch

Developed by Astroscale, a Japanese-UK company, the mission will be operated from the UK’s in-orbit servicing control centre (IOCC) at Satellite Applications Catapult in Harwell, near Oxford. The End-of-Life Services by Astroscale demonstration mission (Elsa-d) is a small satellite designed to find, rendezvous and clamp on to an unwanted satellite. It will then push it into the Earth’s atmosphere, where it will burn up.


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Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletBanished ‘Witches’ Sing Of Their Pain — And Their Dreams

This singer is one of an estimated 1,000 women in northern Ghana who have fled their homes because of witchcraft accusations — and the fear that they will be physically attacked as a result. Reasons vary for such allegations: Some charges arise so that land they owned could be stolen. Other times women with mental or physical disabilities are condemned. Virulent sexism, ageism or personal jealousies are usually part of these accusations.

See also: Witch Camp (Ghana): I’ve Forgotten Now Who I Used To Be review – magical sound of the marginalised “Sung in little-spoken Ghanaian dialects, these haunting, spontaneous songs by women accused of witchcraft are unlike anything you have ever heard.”

decorative leaf bullet18 Essential Sci-Fi and Fantasy Films Directed by Women

decorative leaf bulletWhat Was Life like for Women in the Middle Ages?

decorative leaf bulletMy father was famous as John le Carré. My mother was his crucial, covert collaborator

She declined interviews and stepped out of photographs – even family ones, so that as we were looking this week for images for the order of service at her cremation, we had very few, and those were stolen moments gleaned before she could practise her invisibility trick.

decorative leaf bulletGratitude To The Ladies

Andrew Lang was born in Selkirk, Scotland, on 31st March 1844. He studied at the Universities of St. Andrews and Glasgow, and Balliol College, Oxford. He was elected to an Open Fellowship at Merton College, moving there in 1869. Lang was prolific in a number of disciplines, such as pre-history, the relationship between myth and religion, and Scottish history, and was particularly prominent in the field of folklore, being a founding member, in 1878, of the Folklore Society, and its president during the International Folk-Lore Congress in London in 1891. He died on 20 July 1912. It is perhaps paradoxical, given the prevailing view at that time that children’s books were not real literature, that he is probably best remembered for his children’s books, particularly the ‘coloured’ series of fairy books. More ironic still, it was his wife who did the majority of the work on these.

decorative leaf bulletUnder the bridge: a female journalist’s life among the sports troll army

Which brings me to my all-time favorite bit of terrible social media advice: don’t feed the trolls.

No one who has ever dealt with online trolls has ever said this seriously to someone dealing with mass, ongoing harassment. Most of the time, this particular bit of advice comes from Steve with 25 Twitter followers or someone’s mom on Facebook. So let’s talk about trolls.

decorative leaf bulletThe Nazi-Fighting Women of the Jewish Resistance

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bulletTrump faces an onslaught of legal problems, as investigations and dozens of lawsuits trail him from Washington to Florida

The district attorney is sifting through millions of pages of his tax records. The state attorney general has subpoenaed his lawyers, his bankers, his chief financial officer — even one of his sons.

And that’s just in New York. Former president Donald Trump is also facing criminal investigations in Georgia and the District of Columbia related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. And Trump must defend himself against a growing raft of lawsuits: 29 are pending at last count, including some seeking damages from Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, when he encouraged a march to the Capitol that ended in a mob storming the building.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

From 2019: decorative leaf bulletMan in crisis calls gay bookstore, and manager and patrons answer

decorative leaf bulletSpecial brew: eco-friendly Peruvian coffee leaves others in the shade

“When shade-grown coffee is well-managed, it’s the most amazing crop for biodiversity and you’ll hardly know that you’ve walked into a coffee-growing area,” he says. “There won’t be much change in birdsong because the canopy remains full of life, with everything from huge morpho butterflies and moths to monkeys, toucans and anacondas.”

That continuity of canopy is crucial for birds and monkeys that will not travel across gaps due to risk of predation. “Coffee provides this nice, smooth movement possibility,” adds Whaley, who explains that this fragile ecosystem relies on some highly intricate relationships. “There might be a single type of bee that pollinates a specific orchid that provides the vital nectar food for one particular hummingbird. If you lose that one bee, all those relationships collapse.”

decorative leaf bulletDad-of-4 Goes Viral with Speech About His Transgender Daughter: ‘Let Them Be Who They Are’

Something Wonderful

decorative leaf bulletAnimated Knots Pretty much any kind of knotyou’ve every heard of, and plenty you haven’t, organized by use, with animated tutorials for tying them.

decorative leaf bulletSir David Attenborough answers dinosaur query from Otis, 4


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 March 13, 2021

You should read this for 3/13/2021:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bullet‘Doctor Who’: 10 Things You May Not Know About ‘City of Death’ This is perhaps my favorite of the Tom Baker series of Doctor Who programs.

H/T Ari: decorative leaf bulletIncredible Cave Paintings 8 Miles-Long Discovered Deep in Amazon Forest: The Sistine Chapel of Ancients

Tens of thousands of pristine cave paintings were recently found daubed across an eight-mile stretch of rock in a once-in-a-century discovery in Colombia’s Amazon rainforest. . . . Believed to be 12,500 years old, the art is extremely detailed, and includes handprints and depictions of Ice Age megafauna like the mastodon, a relative of the mammoth, Ice Age horses, and giant ground sloths.

decorative leaf bulletTrevor Peacock obituary

He was an invaluable fixture, too, in the BBC’s television Shakespeare series of the 80s, playing Feste in Twelfth Night, Talbot and Jack Cade in Henry VI, Boult in the brothel at Mytilene in Pericles and the title role in Titus Andronicus.

Peacock’s Feste is still my favorite. He will be much missed by many.

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bulletBiden Signals Support For Voting Rights

As Republicans in statehouses across the country introduce hundreds of bills raising barriers to vote, President Biden is issuing a new executive order signaling his administration’s commitment to expanding, not shrinking, voting access and rights.
Among other things, the order directs federal agencies to put together plans to “promote voter registration and participation.” It also directs the General Services Administration to put together a plan improving the accessibility and user experience of vote.gov. Federal agencies will also be ordered to examine how they can increase federal employees’ voting access, or ability to take time off work to serve as poll workers.

decorative leaf bulletBiden Establishes A Gender Policy Council Within The White House

The first executive order establishes a Gender Policy Council within the White House, reformulating an office from the Obama administration that was later disbanded by the Trump administration, and giving it more clout.

Under former President Barack Obama, the office was called the White House Council on Women and Girls. The name change to the Gender Policy Council is intentional, according to Council co-chair Jennifer Klein, who has worked on women’s issues going back to the Clinton administration.

“We are very inclusive in our definition of gender,” Klein said in a White House briefing Monday. “We intend to address all sorts of discrimination and fight for equal rights for people, whether that’s LGBTQ+ people, women, girls, men.” . . . The second executive order the president signed Monday is directed at the Department of Education, and seems expressly aimed at reversing a controversial rule on campus sexual assault and harassment that was issued last year by then-President Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

Citing Title IX, the federal civil rights law barring sex discrimination in education, DeVos announced a new regulation that granted more rights and protections to those accused of sexual assault or harassment.

Biden’s executive order directs the Department of Education to review all existing regulations to “[guarantee] an educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, including discrimination in the form of sexual harassment, which encompasses sexual violence, and including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

decorative leaf bulletThe difference between the Trump tax cuts and the Biden relief bill, in one chart

decorative leaf bulletGarland Confirmed As Attorney General 5 Years After Thwarted Supreme Court Bid

The 70-30 vote for his confirmation comes five years after then-President Barack Obama nominated Garland to serve on the Supreme Court — a goal frustrated by Senate Republicans who refused to even consider a hearing for that post.

Garland, a moderate judge with deep prosecutorial experience, will soon lead a Justice Department reeling from political scandals and racing to confront the threat from violent homegrown extremists.

He has pledged that his first formal briefing and his highest priority will be bringing to justice the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, as well as the people who may have funded and organized that deadly attack in Washington as lawmakers met to certify the 2020 presidential election.

decorative leaf bulletFull transcript of President Biden’s address to the nation

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletWelcome to ‘Octavia E. Butler Landing’

NASA has named the landing site of the agency’s Perseverance rover “Octavia E. Butler Landing,” after the science fiction author Octavia E. Butler. The landing location is marked with a star in this image from the High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

decorative leaf bulletA Picture Of Language: The Fading Art Of Diagramming Sentences

In 1985, the National Council of Teachers of English declared that “repetitive grammar drills and exercises” — like diagramming sentences — are “a deterrent to the improvement of students’ speaking and writing.”

Nevertheless, diagramming sentences is still taught — you can find it in textbooks and see it in lesson plans. My question is, why?

Burns Florey says it might still be a good tool for some students. “When you’re learning to write well, it helps to understand what the sentence is doing and why it’s doing it and how you can improve it.”

Via Strange Horizons: in 2008 Neal Szpatura interviewed Hugo award finalist Sherri Tepper.decorative leaf bullet
Of Preachers And Storytellers: An Interview With Sheri S. Tepper

decorative leaf bulletAmazon withholds its ebooks from libraries because it prefers you pay it instead To clairify: “Amazon’s publishing arm has refused to sell digital books to libraries”

Amazon is withholding ebook and audiobook versions of works it publishes through its in-house publishing arms from US libraries, according to a new report from The Washington Post. In fact, Amazon is the only major publisher that’s doing this, the report states. It’s doing so because the company thinks the terms involved with selling digital versions of books to libraries, which in turn make them available to local residents for free through ebook lending platforms like Libby, are unfavorable.

Climate Change | Climate Repair

decorative leaf bulletHow Scientists Scrambled To Stop Donald Trump’s Epa From Wiping Out Climate Data

decorative leaf bulletVertical mulcher rides to rescue of ancient Northumberland peat bog

Although planting trees is more often associated with combatting climate change, ecologists say that removing trees and restoring the mire play a crucial role in mitigating its effects. Many of the mires were partially planted as part of a drive to shore up the nation’s timbre reserves, depleted after two world wars. However, this lowered the water table and dried out the top peat, affecting the rare plant communities.
Wayne Penrose, a Forestry England ecologist who is overseeing the work on the ground, said that removing the trees and blocking drainage channels raises the hydrology levels and restores the mires, which then act as “a massive carbon store”.

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletBiden’s strong coronavirus numbers reinforce the folly of Trump’s approach

A new Associated Press-NORC poll shows a remarkable number of Americans support President Biden’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic: Fully 70 percent of voters approve of it, including 44 percent of Republicans. These are numbers rarely seen for any president, on any issue, in any poll these days.

decorative leaf bulletPeople who are vaccinated can socialize together without masks, CDC says See the actual CDC Guidelines When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated How to Protect Yourself and Others

Education

From Matt Might: decorative leaf bullethttp://matt.might.net/articles/phd-school-in-pictures/

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Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletThe Secret to Perfect Pizza at Home? Cast Iron See the actual recipe from King Arthur Flour: Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza

decorative leaf bulletThere’s No Real Reason to Eat 3 Meals a Day “Your weird pandemic eating habits are probably fine.”

The three-meal-a-day axiom was created to bend human life around the necessity of leaving the home to work elsewhere for the whole day, and now people are bending once again, around a whole new set of challenges. Our old eating schedules are no more natural than sitting in a cubicle for 10 hours a day.

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletGraves of nearly 600 cats and dogs in ancient Egypt may be world’s oldest pet cemetery

The site, located in the early Roman port of Berenice, was found 10 years ago, but its purpose was mysterious. Now, a detailed excavation has unearthed the burials of nearly 600 cats and dogs, along with the strongest evidence yet that these animals were treasured pets. That would make the site the oldest known pet cemetery, the authors argue, suggesting the modern concept of pets wasn’t alien to the ancient world.

decorative leaf bulletPrehistoric Cave Visits Documented With Footprint Study

decorative leaf bulletBronze age burial site in Spain suggests women were among rulers

A burial site found in Spain – described by archaeologists as one of the most lavish bronze age graves discovered to date in Europe – has sparked speculation that women may have been among the rulers of a highly stratified society that flourished on the Iberian peninsula until 1550BC.

/T Mel: decorative leaf bulletQueer Rural Connections: Queer History And Belonging In The Countryside

Politics and Society

decorative leaf bulletCongresswoman drops social media report on Republicans who tried to overturn the election for Trump

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who represents California, posted the nearly 2,000 page Social Media Review report on her government website on Friday. The report is broken down by state and includes archived social media posts from “Members of the U.S. House of Representatives who were sworn-in to office in January 2021 and who voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election.”

According to Rep. Lofgren, following the events of Jan. 6, when thousands of Trump supporters  stormed the U.S. Capitol, she instructed her staff to put together a review of public social media posts from members of Congress who voted to overturn the election results. The report also includes social media posts that correlate with the actions of that day, as well as any postings that claimed the 2020 presidential election results were illegitimate.
In addition, the report contains posts from these same members of Congress who attempted to spread misinformation or make “false equivalencies” between the violence in January and the Black Lives Matter protests this summer.

decorative leaf bulletGOP largely silent after member speaks at white nationalist’s event “Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) delivered the keynote address at a white nationalist’s event. Why are most Republican leaders saying nothing about it?”

H/T Anne L: The Irish Timesdecorative leaf bulletHarry and Meghan: The union of two great houses, the Windsors and the Celebrities, is complete

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletReef revival: Fiji’s corals bouncing back after ruinous cyclone

Tropical Cyclone Winston struck Fiji on 20 February 2016, causing devastation on land and underwater. Winds of up to 280km/h claimed 44 lives, leaving more than 40,000 homes damaged or destroyed, and storm surges smashed reefs in their path. Winston caused US$1.4bn in damage, the most destructive cyclone ever in the Pacific.

But four years on, to the delight of scientists, the coral reefs of the Fijian archipelago are vibrantly resurgent and once again teeming with fish and colour.

decorative leaf bulletWisdom The Albatross, Now 70, Hatches Yet Another Chick

decorative leaf bulletBrood X cicadas are about to put on one of the wildest shows in nature. And D.C. is the main stage.

They’ve been buried — alive — for 17 years.

And now, Brood X, one of the world’s largest swarms of giant fly-like bugs called cicadas, is ready to rise. When the ground warms to 64 degrees, they’ll stop gnawing on tree roots and start scratching toward the surface by the hundreds of billions.


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Technology

decorative leaf bulletMove over, SolarWinds: 30,000 orgs’ email hacked via Microsoft Exchange Server flaws

Four exploits found in Microsoft’s Exchange Server software have reportedly led to over 30,000 US governmental and commercial organizations having their emails hacked, according to a report by KrebsOnSecurity. Wired is also reporting “tens of thousands of email servers” hacked. The exploits have been patched by Microsoft, but security experts talking to Krebs say that the detection and cleanup process will be a massive effort for the thousands of state and city governments, fire and police departments, school districts, financial institutions, and other organizations that were affected.

According to Microsoft, the vulnerabilities allowed hackers to gain access to email accounts, and also gave them the ability to install malware that might let them back into those servers at a later time.

decorative leaf bullet‘I Was Speechless’: Law Firm Investigated Its Own Ex-Client For Trump VOA Chief

Early last June, the Open Technology Fund was scrambling for survival. The nonprofit fosters technology that enables people who live under repressive regimes to communicate securely. It is wholly dependent on the U.S. government for money. And the new CEO of the federal agency that subsidizes the fund had declared war on it.


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Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletA Woman’s Work: The cheerleader who took on the NFL for gender discrimination

decorative leaf bulletGoogle advised mental health care when workers complained about racism and sexism

. . . Cruz’s experience with Google’s internal human resources personnel echoes that of several former and current Google employees, including two prominent Black women, Timnit Gebru and April Curley, who were pushed out of Google at the end of last year. Both women were known for their advocacy for increased diversity in the tech industry, and when their complaints about how the company handled racial and gender discrimination reached human resources, they were both given the same advice: undergo mental health counseling and take medical leave.

In the weeks since both women’s departures, nine other current and former Google employees have come forward to say they were treated the same way.

decorative leaf bulletFishermen’s wives: how unsung efforts keep a way of life afloat

In fishing towns where fishermen’s spouses stay onshore, fishermen’s wives associations have served as mutual aid groups, social support networks and political agitators. Dixon and her colleagues mend nets, keep books, care for families, fight for or against environmental regulations, navigate byzantine quota systems and act as onshore brokers communicating information to husbands out at sea.

decorative leaf bulletProminent Evangelical Beth Moore Announces Split From Southern Baptists

“I am still a Baptist, but I can no longer identify with Southern Baptists,” Moore said in an interview with Religion News Service last week. “I love so many Southern Baptist people, so many Southern Baptist churches, but I don’t identify with some of the things in our heritage that haven’t remained in the past.”

decorative leaf bulletCast Out: The Yazidi Women Reunited With Their Children Born In Isis Slavery

The nine mothers, all members of the Yazidi community, and their children, all born to the terrorists who enslaved them, had been reunited for the first time since the collapse of Islamic State in early 2019. And after two years of preparing for such a moment, the women were about to make the most momentous decisions of their lives.

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰 | 🤥🤥👖🔥The Domestic Terrorist Enabler 🤥🤥👖🔥

decorative leaf bullet‘It’s not fair!’ Capitol suspect who put feet on Pelosi’s desk has court outburst

Barnett, a self-proclaimed white nationalist, began to yell at US district judge Christopher Cooper, saying “it’s not fair” that he should remain in custody as he awaits trial.

“Everybody else who did things much worse are already home,” he told Cooper during the virtual hearing, according to court records and reporters listening in. “I’ve been here for a month, they’re going to set it for another month, and everybody else is getting out.”

Yep; these are prize examples, every one. Selfish, entitled, hate-mongering idiots.

decorative leaf bulletEx-Trump Appointee Accused Of Assaulting Police In Capitol Riot, ‘Danger’ To Public

“Klein’s willing and enthusiastic participation in violence against police officers protecting a lawful proceeding of Congress, for which he is charged with multiple felonies – including a crime of violence – weighs heavily in favor of detention. Not only was his individual conduct and encouragement to other rioters violent and dangerous, but his actions heightened the overall violence and dangerousness of the day.”
“Notably, one video captured Klein encouraging other rioters to attempt to breach the Capitol by shouting, ‘We need fresh people, we need fresh people’ multiple times.”

decorative leaf bulletNewly Revealed Call Details How Trump Pressed Georgia Investigator To Find Vote Fraud

“Whatever you can do, Frances, it would be — it’s a great thing,” Trump said to Georgia Secretary of State chief investigator Frances Watson in December. “When the right answer comes out, you’ll be praised.”

💩🔥💰 is looking more and more Mafioso every day.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletAmazon to stop selling books that frame LGBTQ+ identities as mental illness

The company made the announcement public in a letter sent to Republican senators who had asked why Amazon had stopped selling When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment, a book by the conservative academic Ryan Anderson, best known for his opposition to same-sex marriage.

. . .

[Amazon responded with] “That said, we reserve the right not to sell certain content. All retailers make decisions about what selection they choose to offer, as do we. As to your specific question about When Harry Became Sally, we have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.

Something Wonderful

decorative leaf bulletWalker ‘stunned’ to see ship hovering high above sea off Cornwall

David Morris, who captured the extraordinary sight on camera, declared himself “stunned” when he noticed a giant tanker floating above the water as he looked out to sea from a hamlet near Falmouth in Cornwall.

The effect is an example of an optical illusion known as a superior mirage. Such illusions are reasonably common in the Arctic but can also happen in UK winters when the atmospheric conditions are right, though they are very rare.

I note that one of the Medieval Irish origin stories about the Tuatha De Danan, the mythological early settlers of Ireland who lost a war with the mortal Sons of Mil and moved to the underground Otherworld, is that they arrived on a floating or flying ship.

Cat hugs kitten:

decorative leaf bulletDolphins Seem to Use Toxic Pufferfish to Get High

Footage from a new BBC documentary series, “Spy in the Pod,” reveals what appears to be dolphins getting high off of pufferfish. Pufferfish produce a potent defensive chemical, which they eject when threatened. In small enough doses, however, the toxin seems to induce “a trance-like state” in dolphins that come into contact with it, the Daily News reports:

The dolphins were filmed gently playing with the puffer, passing it between each other for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, unlike the fish they had caught as prey which were swiftly torn apart.


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Elsewhere for March 6, 2021

You should read this for 3/6/2021:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletWhy “L.A. Story” Is Still a Relevant (and Poignant) Satire of Los Angeles See also: Steve Martin and Sarah Jessica Parker Remember L.A. Story.

L.A. Story captures so much of Los Angeles’ and Hollywood and film cultures around L.A. in the late 1980s and early 90s. I love it dearly, still, though I suspect much of the humor and sly wit is lost on those who are not Angelenos. This film, now thirty years old, was also my introduction to the Celtic-infused music of Enya; I think her best tracks are in this film.

Biden Begins

decorative leaf bulletBiden Backs Amazon Warehouse Workers’ Union Drive

Biden warned in his video that there should be “no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, no anti-union propaganda” during union elections. He said, “It’s not up to an employer” to decide any union election.

decorative leaf bulletLifelong Educator, Miguel Cardona, Confirmed As Education Secretary

Before being nominated by President Biden, Cardona served as Connecticut’s education commissioner for the past year and a half, arguing forcefully that schools should reopen during the COVID-19 crisis in order to keep equity gaps from growing ever wider. Before that, he spent his entire career working for the public school system that helped raise him — as a fourth grade teacher, principal and assistant superintendent in the old factory town of Meriden, Conn.

decorative leaf bulletNeera Tanden Withdraws As Nominee For Office Of Management And Budget

It had become increasingly clear that Tanden’s nomination was in trouble after multiple key senators said they wouldn’t support her, citing her tweets criticizing some members of Congress. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., was the most significant opponent. Without his support, Tanden needed to find a Republican to support her in the equally divided Senate. . . .

decorative leaf bulletHow The White House Got 2 Pharma Rivals To Work Together On COVID-19 Vaccine

But it was after the early February phone call that officials felt like J&J had embraced the push, said a second official who was involved in the talks. “They understood this was a wartime effort. This was their legacy. This was their time.”

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletInterview: George M Johnson: ‘Queer characters tend to die at the end of books’

decorative leaf bulletFederal Court Says There’s Nothing Wrong With Arresting Someone For Parodying A Police Department Facebook Page

Despite it being readily apparent this was not an official Parma PD page, Parma officers arrested Novak in March 2016. The page had only been live for 12 hours, but the PD claimed Novak’s page “interrupted police operations.“ The Parma PD made the most of its apparently underutilized resources to stop this resident from making fun of it. To shut down a Facebook parody, the Parma PD deployed seven officers, three warrants, one subpoena, and hundreds of tax dollars to seize a bunch of electronic devices from Novak’s house and throw him in jail. Novak spent four days in jail before being released and was ordered to report to a probation officer.

Novak was acquitted of the felony “disruption of service” charge. His ensuing lawsuit made its way to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals which refused to grant qualified immunity to Parma PD officers. Unfortunately — despite indicating it strongly felt the PD’s actions violated Novak’s First and Fourth Amendment rights — it refused to make a call on either issue, sending it back to the district court for more fact-finding.

decorative leaf bullet Avoid Using These Triggering Phrases to Describe People. . . . because they are often inaccurate, too broad to be useful, and needlessly dismissive.

Climate Change | Climate Repair

decorative leaf bullet“The river was stolen from us”: a tribe’s battle to retake the Skagit River

The tribe wants Seattle to remove the Gorge Dam, the lowest of the three dams, and return the river to the section the city de-watered. The tribe says Seattle’s century of hydroelectric work on the Skagit has contributed to a sharp drop in river’s salmon runs, which has ripple effects across the region. The Skagit is the last American river outside of Alaska still home to all five species of wild salmon, although the fish stocks are dwindling: Two species are now listed under the Endangered Species Act and a nearby resident killer whale population, which depends on the Skagit River’s salmon for survival, is listed as endangered.

Coronavirus | COVID-19</h4

decorative leaf bulletOne Pfizer or Oxford Covid jab ‘significantly’ prevents hospitalisation in older people

A single shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine offers dramatic protection against hospital admission and severe disease in older people, according to a new study from Public Health England (PHE).
Matt Hancock hailed the real-world data, which found either vaccine is more than 80% effective at preventing hospital admission around three to four weeks after the first dose.

decorative leaf bulletBiden to announce ‘historic partnership’: Merck will help make Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, officials say

President Biden will announce Tuesday that pharmaceutical giant Merck will help make Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot coronavirus vaccine — an unusual pact between fierce competitors that could sharply boost the supply of the newly authorized vaccine, according to senior administration officials.

Education

decorative leaf bulletGiving kids a break is the best way for them to ‘catch up’ after a year of disruption

Much of the debate has focused on how to help pupils “catch up” on their “lost learning”. This narrative is profoundly unhelpful and potentially damaging, due to the psychological pressure it places on children and young people. It’s our national obsession with summative assessment that makes children feel that they have “fallen behind” if they haven’t learned certain things at certain times. But in every year group, pupils are at various stages of cognitive, physical and emotional development. There is no such thing as “behind,” there is only where children are at. Besides, if we truly believe that everyone can be a lifelong learner, then a few months of parents struggling to teach phonics is a brief bump on their educational journey.

decorative leaf bulletDon’t Help Your Kids With Homework

The official title is clickbait; the internal title “Don’t Help Your Kids With Homework” and the summary are accurate: “Focus on prioritization and process, not the assignment itself.” It’s actually a reasonable, helpful article, despite the official title.

decorative leaf bulletEx-Bristol student unable to read at 13 now studying for PhD

William Carter, 22, has severe dyslexia and dyspraxia and was mocked because he could not read at primary school.

His grades improved rapidly after his dyslexia was diagnosed.

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletHow to Ferment Your Own Pickles Without Freaking Out

decorative leaf bulletCook Your Dried Beans With Citrus Peel

A word of advice: Take it easy on the zest. Since whole rind releases so much citrus oil as it cooks, you can definitely overdo it. One or two half-inch-wide strips are all you need for a pound of dried beans—so if you’re cooking less than that, be sure to use even narrower strips. You can always add more to the next batch.

decorative leaf bulletHow to understand and use feta, star of TikTok’s viral pasta recipe See also: TikTok’s viral baked feta pasta is worth the hype

decorative leaf bulletHow to Make Your Own Chili Oil

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletArchaeologists find unique ceremonial vehicle near Pompeii

Archaeologists have unearthed a unique Roman ceremonial carriage from a villa just outside Pompeii, the city buried in a volcanic eruption in 79 AD.

The almost perfectly preserved four-wheeled carriage, made of iron, bronze and tin, was found near the stables of an ancient villa at Civita Giuliana, about 700 metres north of the walls of ancient Pompeii.

See also: Pompeii: Archaeologists unveil ceremonial chariot discovery and A ‘Lamborghini’ Of Chariots Is Discovered At Pompeii. Archaeologists Are Wowed.

decorative leaf bulletRare Bronze Age Spearhead Found In Gorey

A metal spearhead dating back more than 3,000 years has been found in Jersey.
It was uncovered on the beach at Gorey last August by metal detectorist Jay Cornick, who took it to Jersey Heritage to be recorded. . . . It dates to between 1207 and 1004 BC. It’s now on display at the Museum and Art Gallery.

decorative leaf bulletHidden scenes in ancient Etruscan paintings revealed

Scientists using a new technique have uncovered the colorful and once-hidden scenes in paintings of the ancient Etruscans, a group of people who flourished on the Italian peninsula around 2,500 years ago at a time before Rome became powerful.

For instance, they found new details in a painting from the “Tomb of the Monkey” and scenes of an underworld in another work of art.

Audio: decorative leaf bullet Why the first US cowboys were black

Historians estimate that one in four cowboys were African American, though you’d never guess because the conventional Hollywood image of a cowboy is a white man. Black cowboys have been written out of history, along with the original cattle-raising Native Americans and Mexican vaqueros who taught them. So what are the real origins of cowboy culture in the US? Josh Toussaint-Strauss talks to some of the Black riders who are keeping the history of Black cowboy culture alive

decorative leaf bulletWho Built the Egyptian Pyramids & How Did They Do It?: New Archeological Evidence Busts Ancient Myths

The evidence suggests they were built by a force of skilled laborers, as the Veritasium video above explains. These were cadres of elite construction workers who were well-fed and housed during their stint. “Many Egyptologists,” including archeologist Mark Lehner, who has excavated a city of workers in Giza, “subscribe to the hypotheses that the pyramids were… built by a rotating labor force in a modular, team-based kind of organization,” Jonathan Shaw writes at Harvard Magazine. Graffiti discovered at the site identifies team names like “Friends of Khufu” and “Drunkards of Menkaure.”

This is interesting in light of recent archaeological research suggesting that Stonehenge was built by similar community supported labor. See Feeding Stonehenge.

decorative leaf bullet Tintern ‘secret’ medieval tunnel system found by accident

The 4ft (122cm) high tunnel was “tucked away” underneath a footpath running parallel to the Angiddy Brook, and appears to follow the brook’s route along the valley.

Politics and Society

decorative leaf bulletThe making of Madison Cawthorn: How falsehoods helped propel the career of a new pro-Trump star of the far right

Key parts of Cawthorn’s talk, however, were not true. The friend, Bradley Ledford, who has not previously spoken publicly about the chapel speech, said in an interview that Cawthorn’s account was false and that he pulled Cawthorn from the wreckage. An accident report obtained by The Washington Post said Cawthorn was “incapacitated,” not that he was declared dead. Cawthorn himself said in a lawsuit deposition, first reported by the news outlet AVL Watchdog, that he had been rejected by the Naval Academy before the crash.

decorative leaf bulletCalculator For The Billionaires

Some billionaires seem confused about how much they would pay under Elizabeth’s Ultra-Millionaire Tax. Don’t worry, now we have a calculator for that too.

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletGlow-in-the-dark sharks found off New Zealand coast

The three species were already known to marine biologists but this is the first time that the phenomenon of bioluminescence — organisms emitting light — has been identified in them.
While many marine animals – as well as some insects such as fireflies – produce their own light, this is the first time it has been found in larger sharks.

decorative leaf bulletNASA’s latest Mars rover has the same processor as an iMac from 1998

Perseverance is running on none other than a PowerPC 750, a single-core, 233MHz processor with just 6 million transistors that’s most famous for powering the original “Bondi blue” iMac from 1998. It’s the same type of processor that NASA already uses in its Curiosity rover.

Technology

decorative leaf bulletRedditor invented ‘Paper Civ’ while dreaming of playing Civilization

One Redditor says that while they waited to be able to afford the real McCoy, they created a version of Civilization to play in their notebook at school. They called it ‘Paper Civ.’

decorative leaf bulletUnlocking history through automated virtual unfolding of sealed documents imaged by X-ray microtomography

decorative leaf bulletA few rightwing ‘super-spreaders’ fueled bulk of election falsehoods, study says

A report from the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), a group that includes Stanford and the University of Washington, analyzed social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok during several months before and after the 2020 elections.

It found that “super-spreaders” – responsible for the most frequent and most impactful misinformation campaigns – included Trump and his two elder sons, as well as other members of the Trump administration and the rightwing media. . . . “If there is a limit to how much content moderators can tackle, have them focus on reducing harm by eliminating the most effective spreaders of misinformation,” said said Lisa Fazio, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University who studies the psychology of fake news but was not involved EIP report. “Rather than trying to enforce the rules equally across all users, focus enforcement on the most powerful accounts.”


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Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletRestoration influencer: how Charles II’s clever mistress set trends ahead of her time

Mancini, a mistress of Charles II, was a renowned Italian beauty who famously fled to England dressed as a man to escape her abusive aristocratic husband. But she also wielded her fame and status to create a subversive space in London where royal mistresses could meet, gamble, drink champagne and discuss science and literature on an equal footing with men, according to Annalisa Nicholson, a researcher in French Studies at Cambridge University.

decorative leaf bulletThe Little-Known Female Scientists Who Mapped 400,000 Stars Over a Century Ago: An Introduction to the “Harvard Computers”

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰 | Donald Trump and Domestic Terrorism

decorative leaf bulletUS militia group draws members from military and police, website leak shows

A Guardian investigation of a website leak from the American Patriots Three Percent shows the anti-government militia group have recruited a network across the United States that includes current and former military members, police and border patrol agents.

But the leak also demonstrates how the radical group has recruited from a broad swath of Americans, not just military and law enforcement. Members include both men and women, of ages ranging from their 20s to their 70s, doing jobs from medical physics to dental hygiene and living in all parts of the country.

decorative leaf bullet‘I’ll get away with anything’: 13 not-so-greatest hits from the Capitol riot arrest records Yes, it was domestic terrorism, and these are not people to feel sorry for.

decorative leaf bulletThe two big discrepancies in the testimony on the Jan. 6 Capitol riot

decorative leaf bulletState Department aide appointed by Trump stormed the Capitol, beat police with a riot shield, FBI says

Klein was still employed at the State Department as a staff assistant on Jan. 6 when he joined a mob in a tunnel leading into the U.S. Capitol, the FBI said. Then he allegedly “physically and verbally engaged with the officers holding the line” at the building’s entrance, according to the complaint. After ignoring officers’ orders to move back, he assaulted officers with a riot shield that had been stolen from police, the complaint said, and then used the shield to wedge open a door into the Capitol.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletCOVID Has Maine Fishermen Supplying School Lunches

When an anonymous donor asked how to help, Hudson and her colleagues came up with Fishermen Feeding Mainers, a new program that guarantees five boats a modest but viable minimum of $2 per pound. Local companies process the fish — hake, pollack, haddock, and monkfish — which goes to Good Shepherd Food Bank and other food-assistance groups, Maine’s Wabanaki tribes, and schools as near as Westbrook and as far as Millinocket.

“Some school nutritional directors were like, ‘Oh boy, how’s seafood going to go over with elementary and middle-school kids?’” Hudson says. “But it’s actually gone over really well.” Now on cafeteria trays: fish tacos, Parmesan-crusted fillets, fish cakes, and more. The association is fundraising to keep the program going at least through spring.


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


Stuff I Wrote

decorative leaf bulletMarch from Walters Museum W.425

decorative leaf bulletPencil Sharpeners

Something Wonderful

decorative leaf bullet200,000 Buddhists celebrated a holy day over Zoom and the pictures are beautiful

Via PBS: decorative leaf bulletMuch Ado About Nothing A modern live filmed performance in a park, in a modern setting and context, and I not only don’t hate it, I think it’s fabulous.


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 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.

Education

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

Technology

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’

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.


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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


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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

Education

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

Technology

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.


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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.


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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.

Education

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

Technology

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.


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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.


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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

Education

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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Technology

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.