Elsewhere for September 20, 2020

You should read this for 9/20/2020:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletNeolithic paintings in Spain reveal art was social activity for both sexes

“We looked at the number of fingerprint ridges and the distance between them and compared them with fingerprints from the present day,” he told the Guardian.
“Those ridges vary according to age and sex but settle by adulthood, and you can distinguish between those of men and women. You can also tell the age of the person from the ridges.”

decorative leaf bulletThree Years After Tom Petty’s Death, His Dream Project Finally Emerges

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

H/T Less: decorative leaf bulletWhy Goodreads is bad for books

H/T Lisa C.: decorative leaf bulletAddressing The Claims In JK Rowling’s Justification For Transphobia

decorative leaf bulletEdition of Shakespeare’s last play found in Scots college in Spain

The Two Noble Kinsmen, written by Shakespeare with John Fletcher, was found by a researcher investigating the work of the Scots economist Adam Smith.
The 1634 volume could be the oldest Shakespearean work in the country.

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletTrump officials interfered with CDC reports on Covid-19

The health department’s politically appointed communications aides have demanded the right to review and seek changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly scientific reports charting the progress of the coronavirus pandemic, in what officials characterized as an attempt to intimidate the reports’ authors and water down their communications to health professionals.

. . .

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports are authored by career scientists and serve as the main vehicle for the agency to inform doctors, researchers and the general public about how Covid-19 is spreading and who is at risk. Such reports have historically been published with little fanfare and no political interference, said several longtime health department officials, and have been viewed as a cornerstone of the nation’s public health work for decades.

But since Michael Caputo, a former 💩🔥💰 campaign official with no medical or scientific background, was installed in April as the Health and Human Services department’s new spokesperson, there have been substantial efforts to align the reports with 💩🔥💰’s statements, including the president’s claims that fears about the outbreak are overstated, or stop the reports altogether.

decorative leaf bulletMaine “superspreader” wedding linked to 170 Covid cases and seven deaths

That single event on 7 August is linked to coronavirus outbreaks in at least two other locations in Maine, with more than 170 people contracting the virus and seven deaths since.

. . .

The “superspreader” event started with wedding attendees in the Katahdin region and spread to the community at large and to a nursing home in Madison.

An attendee worked at the York county jail, 220 miles away, where there are more than 70 cases. The state is also investigating an outbreak at a church in Sanford, home of the wedding’s officiant.

Food and Drink

H/T Mac: decorative leaf bulletHow to Grow Mushrooms in Coffee Grounds

But for those who want to get a little more experimental and expand your horizons past fruits and vegetables, growing your own oyster mushrooms can be a fairly low-budget and simple avenue to pursue.

One cultivating method used by a number of urban farmers and “do-it-yourself” growers involves taking freshly used coffee grounds and a little bit of boiled straw as substrate (the soil) and mixing it with spawns of the mushrooms to grow into a new batch.

decorative leaf bulletCoffee Is Under Attack “Coffee plants were supposed to be safe on this side of the Atlantic. But the fungus found them.”

decorative leaf bullettangy braised chickpeas

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletRoman Caistor: ‘One of largest’ Roman Britain temples revealed in Norfolk

decorative leaf bullet‘Viking’ was a job description, not a matter of heredity, massive ancient DNA study shows

It was a Viking saga written in genes. In 2008, construction work on an isolated Estonian beach near the town of Salme uncovered the skeletons of more than 40 powerfully built men. They were buried around 750 C.E. in two ships with Viking-style weapons and treasure—apparently the aftermath of a raid gone wrong. DNA from the bones has now added a poignant detail: Four of the men, buried shoulder to shoulder holding their swords, were brothers.

. . .

The results tell dramatic stories of individual mobility, such as a pair of cousins buried in Oxford, U.K., and Denmark, separated in death by hundreds of kilometers of open ocean. The genetic details may also rewrite popular perceptions of Vikings, including their looks: Viking Age Scandinavians were more likely to have black hair than people living there today. And comparing DNA and archaeology at individual sites suggests that for some in the Viking bands, “Viking” was a job description, not a matter of heredity.

The DNA has raised new questions, too. Study co-author and National Museum of Denmark archaeologist Jette Arneborg says DNA recovered from burials in Greenland shows a mix of Scandinavian men from what is now Norway and women from the British Isles. Yet the artifacts and burials look completely Scandinavian. The women “have British genes but we can’t see them in the archaeology,” she says. “The DNA is going to make us think more about what’s happening here.”

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletPossible rare “seven-armed octopus” found on Whidbey beach

Society

decorative leaf bulletQAnon Website Shuts Down After N.J. Man Identified as Operator


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Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletJustice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Champion Of Gender Equality, Dies At 87 See also: A 5-Decade-Long Friendship That Began With A Phone Call

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bulletDespite DeJoy’s vows to halt changes, serious problems persist, postal workers say

n Chicago, postal employees say backlogged mail is stacked so high in some facilities that workers barely have space to walk by. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, mail handlers tell NBC News first class and priority mail is still running several days a week behind schedule on average.
And in Tacoma, Washington, multiple postal workers said new mandates mean many mail trucks per week are being ordered to set out on their routes five minutes early — often entirely empty.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletWhen Your Best Friend Gives Birth to Your Babies—All 4 of Them

Something Wonderful

decorative leaf bulletArtists Crochet Giant Sea Urchin Installations That Interact with Their Surroundings

Choi+Shine Architects created The Urchins, a series of 3 interactive hand-crocheted installations

Elsewhere for September 13, 2020

You should read this for 9/13/2020:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletGeorge Takei: ‘Getting cast as Lt Sulu in Star Trek was life-changing’

decorative leaf bullet‘The Princess Bride’ cast is reuniting to raise money for Wisconsin Democrats

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletWith schools closed, public libraries are being used as day-care centers, angering some people

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletHow to Avoid Toxic Positivity (And Handle It When It Comes Your Way)

Zuckerman goes on to say that toxic positivity can take many forms, including but not limited to: a friend or family member who scolds you for expressing frustration about something instead of actually listening to why you’re upset; or comments like “look on the bright side,” “be grateful for what you have,” “it could actually be much worse,” “if you stay positive, something good will come your way.” (There are so, so many.)

David Frum: decorative leaf bulletI Crossed Back Into a State of Denial “At the Canada-U.S. border, I encountered a study in contrasts.”

H/T Jeff C: decorative leaf bulletResults Are In: Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Was A COVID ‘Super Spreader’ Costing Billions

. . . for the month in which Sturgis took place, the rally was responsible for a fifth of the cases in the entire country

. . .

If we conservatively assume that all of these cases were non-fatal, then these cases represent a cost of over $12.2 billion, based on the statistical cost of a COVID-19 case of $46,000 estimated by Kniesner and Sullivan (2020). This is enough to have paid each of the estimated 462,182 rally attendees $26,553.64 not to attend.”

decorative leaf bulletHigh numbers of Los Angeles patients complained about coughs as early as December, study says

The number of patients complaining of coughs and respiratory illnesses surged at a sprawling Los Angeles medical system from late December through February, raising questions about whether the novel coronavirus was spreading earlier than thought, according to a study of electronic medical records.

The authors of the report, published Thursday in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, suggested that coronavirus infections may have caused this rise weeks before U.S. officials began warning the public about an outbreak.

. . .

The study authors searched outpatient and emergency department reports that used the word “cough,” and tallied the number of people hospitalized for acute respiratory failure.
That approach revealed an uptick in patients that began the week of Dec. 22 and remained elevated for 10 weeks. The number of extra people exceeded the researchers’ predictions by 50 percent, totaling about 1,000 more patients compared with the previous five flu seasons.

Education

decorative leaf bulletParents, Districts, And NAACP Win Major Victory As Federal Court Blocks Illegal Devos Rule Nationwide

Judge Dabney L. Friedrich ruled that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education violated the clear language of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in issuing a regulation that would illegally divert desperately needed funds away from public school students for the benefit of private schools.

decorative leaf bulletThe Pandemic Has Researchers Worried About Teen Suicide

If a teen talks about harming themselves or wanting to disappear, a parent should ask directly, “Is that something you think you might really do or you think about doing? Or are you just letting me know that you’re very upset right now?” And, she adds, hear them out without dismissing what they’re saying.
She also says parents should look out for anger: “In teenagers, uniquely, depression can take the form of irritability. That depression in teenagers sometimes looks like a prickly porcupine. Everybody rubs them the wrong way. And that is easy to miss because sometimes we’ll just dismiss that as being a snarky teenager.”

decorative leaf bulletInvestigation into US professor sparks debate over Chinese word

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bullet5 Comforting Dinners to Make this Fall Recipes use canned tomatoes to make Quick & Easy Hamburger Soup, Slow Cooker Taco Soup, Tomato Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage, and Fettuccine with Creamy Tomato Italian Sausage Sauce.

History and Archaeology

Maeshowe— the 5,000-year-old Neolithic passage tomb in Orkney

decorative leaf bullet5,000-year-old tomb on Orkney designed to “ease passage to afterlife,” research finds

The tombs, referred to as ‘houses for the dead’, showed similar layouts to that of domestic houses.

Ms van der Reijden’s found the side chambers showed inverted architectural designs to give the effect that the chamber is within the underworld.

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletHundreds of Americans Planted ‘Chinese Mystery Seeds’

In late July, America was briefly enthralled with “Unsolicited Seeds from China,” which started showing up in mailboxes in all 50 states. These mystery seeds prompted warnings from the USDA, which said people should not plant them, and should instead alert their state agricultural authority and mail them to the USDA or their local officials.
Many Americans heeded this advice. Many more decidedly did not.

Society

decorative leaf bulletNeil Kinnock on Biden’s plagiarism ‘scandal’ and why he deserves to win: ‘Joe’s an honest guy’

“Joe is honest, he’s courageous, he’s well-informed and experienced, and most of all, he’s rational, all things that Trump isn’t. One of Joe’s greatest strengths, I think, certainly a natural attribute is that he’s normal. He really is the well-informed guy off the street and in an age when voters are looking for authenticity, he is the real thing.”

decorative leaf bulletThe Government Has Been Binging On Classification. Senators Say It’s Time To Start Purging.

Under the current system, costly resources are used to hold on to records that no longer require classification resulting in an unnecessary waste of taxpayer dollars. The cost of the government’s classification system now exceeds $18 billion annually. Additionally, when records are kept classified for reasons that have nothing to do with national security, historians, journalists, public watchdogs and all Americans are denied their right to research historical events or examine the actions of their government to hold it accountable. As the line between classification for national security and pointless secrecy is blurred, public trust in government erodes.


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Technology

decorative leaf bulletFacebook engineer quits, says company is “profiting off hate”

Chandwaney’s [resignation] letter is full of links citing specific incidents of Facebook’s failures, such as the company obstructing an investigation into genocide in Myanmar and failing to remove an event encouraging people to shoot and kill protesters in Kenosha. [They] also referred to President Donald Trump’s infamous “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” post from May 29, which Facebook has still refused to remove. In contrast, Twitter hid a post from Trump that used the same phrase for “glorifying violence.”

Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletArmed guards provided for threatened lesbian couple

decorative leaf bulletHow Victorian female brewers broke the (pint) glass ceiling

n Anglo-Saxon times women made beer at home at the same time as baking bread. They were known as brewsters, and the best in the village turned their homes into an early version of a pub.
Hester Parnall, head of the St Austell Brewery in Cornwall from 1916 to 1939. Photograph: St Austell Brewery
“Only in the 18th and 19th centuries did we see big commercial brewers dominated by men to meet demand for a new beer called porter,” said Protz. But then [the first world] war came, and the men who managed and worked in the breweries went off to fight, leaving women to step into the breach.

decorative leaf bulletThe woman trying to save India’s tortured temple elephants

decorative leaf bulletGo read this story of how a dress code exposed inequality on an Arctic research missio

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bulletTrump detests Christians — and he deceived pastors and mocked them after they left Trump Tower: Michael Cohen’s ‘Disloyal’

“Watching Trump I could see that he knew exactly how to appeal to the evangelicals’ desires and vanities – who they wanted him to be, not who he really was. Everything he was telling them about himself was absolutely untrue.”
To deceive the evangelicals, Cohen writes, Trump would “say whatever they wanted to hear.”

decorative leaf bulletWoodward book: Trump says he knew coronavirus was ‘deadly’ and worse than the flu while intentionally misleading Americans

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

H/T Mary The Pen Cup: decorative leaf bulletPostcards For Democracy

In light of the threat to our postal service, at a time that could jeopardize the democracy of the country, let’s join forces for this collective postcard art demonstration

Something Wonderful

Via @Dark Mode Dave decorative leaf bullet

H/T Colleen: decorative leaf bulletOrca Tahlequah is a mother again


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Elsewhere for September 6, 2020

You should read this for 9/6/2020:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletStar Trek Day! Star Trek Day!

On September 8th, CBS All Access is holding an all-day streaming event to commemorate the 54th anniversary of the premiere of the original Star Trek television show. I’ll admit I skimmed the email announcement until I found what I was looking for: yes, Patrick Stewart aka Captain Jean-Luc Picard will be part of the Star Trek panel discussions and will even reunite with Jonathan Frakes aka William Riker aka Number One aka Ensign Babyface.

. . .

The event will stream free on the Star Trek website, and doesn’t require a CBS All Access subscription.

decorative leaf bulletGo read John Boyega’s unfiltered interview about how Disney (and Star Wars) sidelined him Boyega’s interview is here.

But] what I would say to Disney is do not bring out a black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are and then have them pushed to the side. It’s not good. I’ll say it straight up.”

decorative leaf bulletDisney+’s “The Mandalorian” returns this fall. More Baby Yoda in 2020! October 30, 2020.

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

The New York Times: decorative leaf bulletThe Celebrity Bookshelf Detective Is Back

decorative leaf bulletExpand Your Vocabulary With This Site of Untranslatable Words

decorative leaf bulletWhat the [US] is reading during the pandemic: Dystopias, social justice and steamy romance

This year, perhaps as never before, our reading habits reflect our precarious reality. As the country has muddled through a deadly pandemic and a racial reckoning under a cloud of exhaustion and dread, we’ve used books to escape the present, inform our beliefs and educate our homebound children. We’ve found catharsis in apocalyptic science fiction and comfort in romance; advice in self-help guides and a moment of peace, thanks to children’s activity books. Most strikingly, since the death of George Floyd in May, we’ve flocked to books about race and social justice.

Coronavirus | COVID-19

H/T Lisa C: decorative leaf bulletSociopathic traits linked to non-compliance with mask guidelines and other COVID-19 containment measures

New research from Brazil has found that people who are unconcerned with adhering to measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 tend to display higher levels of traits associated with antisocial personality disorder, also known as sociopathy. The findings have been published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

decorative leaf bulletState suspends business license of Millinocket inn linked to COVID-19 outbreak

The inn hosted a wedding reception on August 7, which has now been linked to 87 COVID-19 cases across the state. The Millinocket outbreak has also been linked to smaller outbreaks at the Maplecrest Rehabilitation Center in Madison, as well as at the York County Jail complex

Education

decorative leaf bulletThis public US university has seen grades soar despite Covid. What’s it doing right? “Most of Georgia State’s students come from low-income backgrounds hard-hit by the pandemic. The school could serve as a model for others nationwide”

Georgia State has not been pummeled. In fact, its graduation rate this spring hit a record high. So did the grade-point average of its graduating class. Not only did attendance not drop in the hurried shift to remote learning; it went up – to a dizzying 98.5% by the final week of the spring semester.

How? The answer is that Georgia State is a special sort of university, one that, for the past decade, has overturned received wisdom about the viability of lower-income, minority, and first-generation students. It has proven that such students do not fail because they are not capable; they fail because, at most universities, the bureaucracy throws obstacles in their way instead of helping them fulfill their potential.

. . .

In the first two weeks of remote learning, advisors were able to identify more than 8,000 students who either were not logging on or weren’t performing as expected. Some needed laptops or iPads, which the university was able to provide. Others were overwhelmed and needed financial or psychological guidance.

decorative leaf bulletThese students figured out their tests were graded by AI — and the easy way to cheat This is a waste of time, technology, and student’s efforts to learn. This kind of online instruction is pointless. It’s the digital equivalent of watching my peers (who could see) look up the work sheet answers in the “self- programmed textbooks” we had in the seventies.

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletpeach and blueberry crisp

decorative leaf bulletstovetop tzimmes

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletHadrian’s Wall dig reveals oldest Christian graffiti on chalice

A 5th-century chalice covered in religious iconography has been discovered in Northumberland, to the astonishment of archaeologists, who describe it as Britain’s first known example of Christian graffiti on an object. With its complex mass of crosses and chi-rhos, angels and a priestly figure, as well as fish, a whale and ships, it is believed to be without parallel in western Europe.

Made of lead and now in 14 fragments, it was unearthed at the Vindolanda Roman fort, one of Europe’s foremost archaeological sites, near Hadrian’s Wall, during an excavation that has also discovered the foundations of a significant church of the 5th or 6th century.

decorative leaf bulletBronze age Britons made keepsakes from parts of dead relatives, archaeologists say

Bronze age Britons remembered the dead by keeping and curating bits of their bodies, and even turning them into instruments and ornaments, according to new research on the remains.

Archaeologists found that pieces of bone buried with the dead were often from people who had died decades earlier, suggesting their remains had been kept for future generations, as keepsakes or perhaps for home display.

. . .

“Our research demonstrates that excarnation – the exposure of fleshed bodies to the elements – was in fact common throughout the bronze age, and evidence for the manipulation of partially fleshed bodies in a variety of ritual practices indicates that bronze age people had a quite different attitude to death and the dead than we have today,” Bruck said.

Science and Nature

Image shows a twisted ribbon of light, a small section of the Cygnus supernova blast wave
This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope depicts a small section of the Cygnus supernova blast wave, located around 2400 light-years away.

decorative leaf bulletHubble’s Photo of the Cygnus Loop is, Of Course, Incredible

“The name of the supernova remnant comes from its position in the northern constellation of Cygnus (The Swan), where it covers an area 36 times larger than the full moon.  The original supernova explosion blasted apart a dying star about 20 times more massive than our Sun between 10 000 and 20 000 years ago. Since then, the remnant has expanded 60 light-years from its centre. The shockwave marks the outer edge of the supernova remnant and continues to expand at around 350 kilometres per second. The interaction of the ejected material and the low-density interstellar material swept up by the shockwave forms the distinctive veil-like structure seen in this image.”

Society

decorative leaf bulletYes, It’s Possible to Get Paid for Family Caregiving

decorative leaf bulletHolocaust reparations, prescriptions and rent checks: USPS delays put Americans in jeopardy

And there’s more than enough real-time postal pain to go around, since Postmaster General Louis DeJoy began instituting cost-cutting measures in July. DeJoy has since put the brakes on any new cuts — including slashing overtime, ripping out mail-sorting machines, getting rid of blue mailboxes that grace so many street corners. The damage, however, has already been done. Critical prescriptions are being delayed, placing many Americans’ health in jeopardy. New credit cards, rent checks, stimulus payments from the Internal Revenue Service — all have been stalled. Small-business owners who sell goods through Etsy and EBay are being hammered with customer complaints because packages do not arrive when promised.

Larry Flynt: decorative leaf bulletLarry Flynt: My Final Farewell to the Falwells The dude can write:

They’re obsessed above all with sexual behavior, ignoring and subverting the core message of Christianity—humility and compassion for the downtrodden—while embracing “prosperity gospel,” which is to say the gospel of greed above all other values.

They support Republican politicians eager to gut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare and other programs designed to do what Jesus Christ strived for: the reduction of human suffering in this vale of tears. They live in multimillion-dollar mansions and fly around in private jets, while fleecing their flock for “prayer donations” guaranteed to cure incurable diseases and afflictions. They forget that Jesus Christ only lost his temper and acted violently once: when driving the money-lenders from the temple. But they are not troubled in the least by the banksters on Wall Street, who hoovered up millions from middle-class Americans, granting the 1 percent a get-out-of-jail-free card to do it all over again. Instead, these evangelists reserve the whip for gays, women who want to control their own bodies, pot smokers, and other “heretics” who are only trying to lead fulfilling lives. They actually work to increase the sum of human suffering. They are peddlers of religious snake oil.

Technology

decorative leaf bulletNearly half of Twitter accounts pushing to reopen America may be bots “There has been a huge upswell of Twitter bot activity since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, amplifying medical disinformation and the push to reopen America.”


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Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletWomen speak out over Scottish trad music scene ‘misogyny’

decorative leaf bulletCaitlin Moran: ‘Every few years, I reread How To Be A Woman and marvel at what I got wrong’

Social media has reminded us of the most intriguing yet exhilarating fact about feminism: there is no feminist bible. Feminism isn’t a science. It’s just an idea; a completely freelance, voluntary, crowd-sourced and brilliant idea, in which women and, yes, sometimes men, go about identifying, then trying to solve the problems of girls and women. And, one of the things I feel we sometimes forget , celebrating their brilliance. Although it might occasionally feel like it, being a woman isn’t just a set of difficult questions. The female population of the Earth is also a set of answers. It’s a billion seeds of potential. It is a field of blossom, just waiting.

decorative leaf bulletHollie Doyle is first woman in British racing to ride five winners in a day

It so happens the Sky TV cameras are due at Doyle’s home on Monday, but not for her; her boyfriend and fellow jockey Tom Marquand is to give an interview. Told of this, Doyle smiled wryly and said: “I’d better get the cleaning done, then…”

decorative leaf bulletWomen Scientists Have the Evidence About Sexism

decorative leaf bulletPolitician brought her baby to vote after she wasn’t allowed to vote remotel

Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks had asked to be allowed to vote by proxy on a housing bill Monday, but her request was denied. The speaker of California’s State Assembly, Anthony Rendon, decided she would have to vote in person or not at all. Only those who are considered at higher risk of COVID-19 are allowed to have a legislative leader, a proxy, vote on their behalf, according to Assembly rules introduced in July. As a new mother, Wicks didn’t cut it in Rendon’s eyes.

As Wicks is being commended for showing up with her newborn to make the vote — even by Hillary Clinton, no less (Wicks supported her presidential run) — there’s a deeper frustration here.
She shouldn’t have been forced to drive more than 80 miles from her Oakland home with her baby in tow to do it. She shouldn’t have had to stop feeding her one-month-old to run to the floor and vote. She shouldn’t have had to soothe a cranky baby as she pleaded with her colleagues.

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰 from 🤥🤥👖🔥

decorative leaf bulletSecret Service copes with coronavirus cases in aftermath of Trump appearances

The previously unreported episode is one of a series of examples of how Trump’s insistence on traveling and holding campaign-style events amid the pandemic has heightened the risks for the people who safeguard his life, intensifying the strain on the Secret Service.

decorative leaf bulletTrump Is Suing Pennsylvania To Block Votes From Being Counted

BREAKING: In a late-Friday filing, Trump and @GOP ask Federal Court to BLOCK the counting of mail-in ballots cast in Pennsylvania via drop boxes, that lack inner envelops, or have been delivered via third party.

Keep in mind that 🤥🤥👖🔥 voted via absentee ballot and had it delivered by a third party.

decorative leaf bulletTinpot Administration Is Apparently ‘Building Dossiers’ On Journalists Who Criticize 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bulletThe Pentagon has ordered Stars and Stripes to shut down for no good reason “💩🔥💰 wants to pull funding from Stars and Stripes, a newspaper for American troops that began in the Civil War and has been serving our soldiers.”

In a heretofore unpublicized recent memo, the Pentagon delivered an order to shutter Stars and Stripes, a newspaper that has been a lifeline and a voice for American troops since the Civil War. The memo orders the publisher of the news organization (which now publishes online as well as in print) to present a plan that “dissolves the Stars and Stripes” by Sept. 15  including “specific timeline for vacating government owned/leased space worldwide.”

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletPenzey’s Spices is ‘looting’ its own Kenosha store in a statement about priorities

decorative leaf bulletMy face blindness is embarrassing – but it tells me a lot about other people

I increasingly use my face-blindness as a sorting device. I tell people about it on our first meeting, and the way they behave after that reveals a lot. Some are touchingly helpful – one friend always finds a way to shoe-horn her name into the first sentence while I orient myself – but I’m surprised at the number of people who don’t think I’ll be blind to their face, uniquely. They seamlessly translate my face-blindness into a failure to love them enough, rather than a neurological difference. Disclosing it has become a reliable measure of people’s kindness, their neediness, their ability to put their ego aside.

decorative leaf bulletHow To Feed A Protest

Something Wonderful

decorative leaf bulletDave Grohl is in an adorable remote drum battle with a 10-year-old

decorative leaf bulletThe COVID Cruise Ship and the Maine Fishing Town


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AI assisted images of Roman emperors Augustus and Maximinus Thrax derived fromt heir statues

Elsewhere for August 29, 2020

You should read this for 8/30/2020:

Art, Music, and Film

AI assisted images of Roman emperors Augustus and Maximinus Thrax derived fromt heir statues
Daniel Voshart’s AI renditions of Roman emperors Augustus and Maximinus Thrax, paired with their statues Image: Daniel Voshart

decorative leaf bulletHow a designer used AI and Photoshop to bring ancient Roman emperors back to life

One of my favorite Earle performances is an acoustic cover of Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” which he recorded in 2017 for Hamburger Küchensessions, a German series in which musicians perform from the corner of a kitchen. Take a breath before you watch it. His eyes are fluttering, and he appears unshaven, a little jittery. But his voice is beautiful—fragile and strong.

decorative leaf bulletThe Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: At Least It’s Over Now

Indeed, what is perhaps most depressing about Jackson’s swollen Hobbit enterprise is the way it retrospectively diminishes his Lord of the Rings trilogy. The latter were genuinely good films—better, I think, than any Tolkien fan (and I count myself decidedly among them) had any reason to hope for. It seems a very long time ago now, but all three were nominated for Best Picture and the third film actually won.

I saw the first of the Peter Jackson Hobbit films in a theater; it broke my heart sufficiently that I haven’t seen the other two. I’m not alone in that, apparently. I still love the 1977 Rankin and Bass directed animated The Hobbit, despite its many and obvious flaws.

decorative leaf bulletOn Appeal, ‘Star Trek Discovery’ Still Doesn’t Infringe On Video Game’s Copyright

This is yet another instance where the idea/expression dichotomy of copyright law comes into play. This dichotomy dictates that copyright can be afforded to specific expression, but not to a general idea. And certainly not to an idea comprised essentially of real life scientific discovery. So, if Discovery told the same story about the same tardigrade creature, merely having a tardigrade in its plot is not somehow infringement just because both works are set in space.
While “[t]he distinction between an idea and its expression is an elusive one,” Crichton, 84 F.3d at 587-88, Abdin’s space-traveling tardigrade is an unprotectible idea because it is a generalized expression of a scientific fact -namely, the known ability of a tardigrade to survive in space.

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

H/T Lymond. Redditor Ultach: decorative leaf bulletI’ve discovered that almost every single article on the Scots version of Wikipedia is written by the same person – an American teenager who can’t speak Scots But see Shock an aw: US teenager wrote huge slice of Scots Wikipedia

But Michael Dempster, the director of the Scots Language Centre based in Perth, takes a more ameliorative approach and says he is now in conversation with the Wikimedia Foundation about the prospect of properly re-editing the teenager’s contributions.
“We know that this kid has put in an incredible amount of work, and he has created an editable infrastructure. It’s a great resource but it needs people who are literate in Scots to edit it now. It has the potential to be a great online focus for the language in the future.”
Dempster, a first-language Scots speaker himself, says that he is assessing how to put together a team of volunteers to undertake a mammoth re-editing task.

decorative leaf bullet

Books seen behind Boris Johnson tell their own story

“Whichever librarian managed to get not just the “The Twits” but also “Betrayed”; “Resistance” and “Fahrenheit 451” in the shot behind Johnson has my admiration,” tweeted Sam Freedman, a former senior policy advisor at the DfE. Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel by American writer Ray Bradbury about a society where books are banned.

But wait: Leicestershire librarian “feels sorry” for PM over book backdrop

“It was a message for the management team, not for Boris Johnson. I did feel sorry for him,” said the 48-year-old librarian from Leicestershire, who wants to remain anonymous.
She said she had left the Coalville school six months ago after requests for more support in the library were not acted upon and admitted displaying the titles along the top shelves during her last week at the school in February.

More here.

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletGenetic data show how a single superspreading event sent coronavirus across Massachusetts — and the nation

By the meeting’s end on Feb. 27, the infection had infiltrated many more people: a research director, a photographer, the general manager for the company’s east division. They took the virus home with them to the Boston suburbs, Indiana and North Carolina, to Slovakia, Australia and Singapore.

decorative leaf bulletSome Trump administration claims on effectiveness of convalescent plasma are wrong or dubious, scientists say

The FDA commissioner appeared to have mixed up absolute risk reduction and relative risk reduction, which are basic concepts in economics and in the presentation of data from clinical trials.

decorative leaf bulletLive updates: CDC says not all close contacts need to get tested after coronavirus exposure, alarming experts

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidance for coronavirus testing this week. It now says that many people who have been exposed to the virus through close contact with someone who later tested positive “do not necessarily need a test” if they are not experiencing symptoms. Experts are expressing concern about the change, noting that people without symptoms are responsible for a large share of transmissions.

The CDC is clearly caving in to pressure from 🤥🤥👖🔥. Because asymptomatic transmission is so high, people who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 absolutely should be tested. We must have more testing, not less. We need free, fast, and readily available testing for at least two years to put this thing to rest.

Education

Maryanne Wolf: decorative leaf bulletScreen-based online learning will change kids’ brains. Are we ready for that? As much as I respect Wolf, I think she’s painting with far too broad a brush.

Part of the problem is that a lot of the instructional technology, especially in K-12, where the technology is deployed in an emergency, is at best poorly implemented in terms of pedagogy. I would much rather see less reliance on streaming live video Zoom et al, and more on text, audio, and two way or multiple voice audio. Less reliance on large video streams and lectures, and more on small group sessions. I’d prefer Discord over Zoom, in other words. Use Zoom or other live streams for specific purposes, and for short periods of time. Hours of live-stream is really not a good choice for students or teachers. It’s crucial to have a pedagogical reason for using a tool, not just using the tool because it’s what’s there. Don’t forget analog still works with digital transmission, and there’s always asynchronous text (chat and discussion) as well as generic HTML with images.

decorative leaf bulletTeachers Know Schools Aren’t Safe to Reopen

decorative leaf bulletUniversities sound alarm as coronavirus cases emerge just days into classes — 530 at one campus

Colleges and universities that brought students back to campus are expressing alarm about coronavirus infections emerging as classes have barely started, raising the possibility everyone could be sent home.

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletThe best summer tomato salads use just a few ingredients to generate big flavors

Before we freestyle, know there’s one nonnegotiable: For a tomato to shine no matter how ripe, it needs salt. Cut the tomatoes in any way that moves you, then put them in a bowl and gently sprinkle them with salt (sugar, too, if they really need help).

. . .

The evidence shows the colony left Roanoke Island with the friendly Croatoans to settle on Hatteras Island. They thrived, ate well, had mixed families and endured for generations. More than a century later, explorer John Lawson found natives with blue eyes who recounted they had ancestors who could “speak out of a book,” Lawson wrote.

The two cultures adapted English earrings into fishhooks and gun barrels into sharp-ended tubes to tap tar from trees.

decorative leaf bulletYou Can Roast Tomatoes in the Microwave

decorative leaf bulletBlueberry farmers warn of ‘disaster’ crop

For the past five years, Maine’s growers had begun to export frozen wild berries to China, as reported by US broadcaster NBC last year. This was a very useful new market, as growers had been struggling to sell all their crop due to the cheaper cultivated berries in a saturated US market.

However, sales to China basically halted in April 2018 when Beijing imposed 80% tariffs on US frozen blueberries in response to President Trump’s levies on Chinese imports.

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bullet‘The mystery is over’: Researchers say they know what happened to ‘Lost Colony’

Teams have found thousands of artifacts 4-6 feet below the surface that show a mix of English and Indian life. Parts of swords and guns are in the same layer of soil as Indian pottery and arrowheads.

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At the center of this drama was an official of the Vatican curia who, as we now know from other newly revealed documents, helped persuade Pope Pius XII not to speak out in protest after the Germans rounded up and deported Rome’s Jews in 1943—“the pope’s Jews,” as Jews in Rome had often been referred to. The silence of Pius XII during the Holocaust has long engendered bitter debates about the Roman Catholic Church and Jews. The memoranda, steeped in anti-Semitic language, involve discussions at the highest level about whether the pope should lodge a formal protest against the actions of Nazi authorities in Rome. Meanwhile, conservatives in the Church continue to push for the canonization of Pius XII as a saint.

. . .

The newly available Vatican documents, reported here for the first time, offer fresh insights into larger questions of how the Vatican thought about and reacted to the mass murder of Europe’s Jews, and into the Vatican’s mindset immediately after the war about the Holocaust, the Jewish people, and the Roman Catholic Church’s role and prerogatives as an institution.

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletEveryone Took Pictures of Comet NEOWISE, Including Hubble

decorative leaf bulletWhy do birds sing? Because they’re all on drugs

decorative leaf bulletPenguins Are Nature’s Best Snugglers “How they huddle is so mathematically perfect that mathematicians can’t design a better way themselves.”

Society

decorative leaf bulletHow to prevent your mail ballot from being rejected

decorative leaf bulletWhat Katie Porter taught us at the DeJoy hearing

DeJoy does not know basic facts about postal prices or even about voting by mail. “I’m glad you know the price of a stamp, but I am concerned about your understanding of this agency,” Porter said matter-of-factly. “And I am particularly concerned about it because you started taking very decisive action when you became postmaster general. You started directing the unplugging and destroying of machines, changing of employee procedures and locking of collection boxes.” When asked about the changes under his watch that have impacted service, he insisted they were not his and he did not know who was responsible.

decorative leaf bullet‘I wasn’t surprised. I was just hurt’: A Black professor says police demanded proof she lives in her own house

Technology

decorative leaf bulletAdobe accidentally deleted people’s photos in latest Lightroom update

From Kirk McElhearn: decorative leaf bulletHow to Prepare Your Mac to Upgrade to macOS Big Sur

decorative leaf bulletAutonomy Online: A Case For The IndieWeb

There is an alternative to corporate bubbles online — it’s called the IndieWeb. Build your own personal websites, control your online presence, and learn on your own terms.


SetApp: A Suite of macOS Apps for a Single Price Affiliate link for a great collection of 75+ apps for a single price, now with iOS support too!


Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletThe untold tale of the woman who dug up ancient sea monsters

It’s not looking good for Washington state’s NFL team: decorative leaf bulletFrom dream job to nightmare
More than a dozen women allege sexual harassment and verbal abuse by former team employees at Redskins Park
; Lewd cheerleader videos, sexist rules: Ex-employees decry Washington’s NFL team workplace, and Daniel Snyder has now embarrassed — and exposed — the entire NFL

This is what the NFL gets for not scraping Daniel Snyder off its shoe before now. “The good bits” is the phrase that will haunt the league. That’s the description of the soft porn videos of cheerleaders; outtakes of nipples and crotches inadvertently exposed and intentionally collected, allegedly for the enjoyment of some of the juvy little pervs in the Washington football club’s upper management.

decorative leaf bulletFor female politicians, talking about cooking can be fraught. Kamala Harris is breaking that mold, too

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bulletPostal Service Slowdowns Cause Dangerous Delays In Medication Delivery

Among those who depend on the service are vulnerable residents: patients with chronic health issues, rural residents, veterans and the elderly.
“People who depend on this vital service to get their medications have a very significant potential for having negative health outcomes,” says Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency physician in Michigan and the executive director of the Committee To Protect Medicare, a nationwide group of physicians advocating for health care affordability.

decorative leaf bullet‘I Moved on Her Very Heavily’: Part 1

Who are the people who came forward to say that Trump treated them exactly as he described: as fungible collections of body parts to paw at whenever it suited his purposes? Why did the women decide to tell their stories, and what has life been like since? Carroll’s lawsuit remains in progress; the president has denied all of the women’s allegations, and the White House declined to comment for this story.
Natasha Stoynoff, the subject of this first installment, likens herself and her fellow accusers to the proverbial canaries in the coal mine: among the first to warn the world about the essential nature of the 45th president of the United States.

decorative leaf bulletMiles Taylor’s very serious allegations against 🤥🤥👖🔥, explained

“The president said to the senior leadership of the Department of Homeland Security, behind the scenes, ‘We should not let anyone else into the United States,’ ” Taylor says in the video. “And even though he’d been told on repeated occasions that the way he wanted to do it was illegal, his response was to say, ‘Do it. If you get in trouble, I’ll pardon you.’ ”

Standford Professor Michael McFaul @McFaul:
decorative leaf bulletFor those of us who study autocracies, including elections in autocracies, there were a lot of familiar messages, symbols, and methods on display this week at the RNC.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletShields Up, Nichelle Nichols ! “Sadly, many well-known celebrities, including Rosa Parks, Stan Lee, Mickey Rooney, and Casey Kasem reportedly suffered elder abuse in their later years. Unfortunately, this has also happened to Nichelle.” The actual legal complaint is linked, but Nichols’ family is helping her sue to regain her property and control over her finances.

decorative leaf bulletHas the Great WFH Experiment Delivered for Workers with Disabilities?

• The unemployment rate for workers with a disability peaked in April at 18.9%. It was 14.3% for workers without a disability.
* By July, unemployment for workers with a disability had fallen to 14.3%, while it hit 10.3% for workers with no disability.
Now, competing for limited open positions, disabled workers have to combat misperceptions that they are higher risk and more expensive.

Something Wonderful

decorative leaf bulletEssential Reads on Feminism for Adults

Elsewhere for August 23, 2020

You should read this for 8/23/2020:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletBuckingham Palace art collection to go on gallery display for the first time

decorative leaf bulletA Place to “Waste”

In addition to those 100-plus sketchbooks you’ve seen, a page at a time, on this blog, I also have another couple dozen sketchbooks that I keep at my desk. About half of those pages are filled with still lives (like all those primary triad apples and product review test sketches) and other studies I make in the studio. The other half are experiments, scribbles, notations, color swatches and who knows what else. They are not the kinds of things I would typically share unless they are related to a review. These reference pages bristle with Post-its that I use as tabs.

H/T Martha S.: decorative leaf bullet Artist Reveals What Fonts Were Used To Design Famous Logos

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletLiterary world overwhelmed by 600 books to be published on one day

H/T Tina Koyama: decorative leaf bulletWhy I Keep a Journal

I’m a journal-keeper. With over a hundred notebooks filled since 1982, it’s become part of who I am. I couldn’t have expected or anticipated all the ways my new habit would enrich my life.
Even if we never reread what we write in our journals, the act of writing changes us. It shapes our perceptions and memory. Over time, opening the notebook and picking up the pen becomes like resuming a long-running conversation with a friend. We develop a voice, even though there’s no one on the other end to hear it — or rather, our self is listening.

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletLong-Haulers Are Redefining COVID-19

lauren nichols has been sick with COVID-19 since March 10, shortly before Tom Hanks announced his diagnosis and the NBA temporarily canceled its season. She has lived through one month of hand tremors, three of fever, and four of night sweats. When we spoke on day 150, she was on her fifth month of gastrointestinal problems and severe morning nausea. She still has extreme fatigue, bulging veins, excessive bruising, an erratic heartbeat, short-term memory loss, gynecological problems, sensitivity to light and sounds, and brain fog.

decorative leaf bulletQ&A with Dr. Fauci: “We will get out of this and we will return to normal. Don’t despair.”

I mean, when you’re in something that’s so stressful, you have to worry about despair setting in. Like, “My God, I’m in a hopeless situation.” It’s not. It will end. We will get out of this and we will return to normal. Don’t give up. Don’t despair. Don’t throw caution to the wind. We can end this. The combination of pulling together with public health measures and the scientific advances of vaccines and therapies and preventions. I will guarantee you that.



Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletPickle Slaw “Made with pickle juice in place of the vinegar, it makes a fantastic addition to pulled pork sandwiches and fish tacos.”

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletRestoration of Norfolk hall uncovers Tudor and Elizabethan finds

Oxburgh Hall was built by Sir Edmund Bedingfield in the late 15th century. The Bedingfields were once rising stars at the Tudor royal court but they were also devoutly Catholic and were ostracised and persecuted as a result.
Curators believe the manuscript parchment and other objects may well have been used in illegal masses and hidden deliberately by the family.

Science and Nature

A mother wolverine and her kits ascend a tree in Ranier, WA
Photo Credit: NPS/Cascades Carnivore Project

decorative leaf bulletWolverines Return to Mount Rainier National Park After More Than 100 Years This National Park Service news release includes video.

Society

H/T @JesseDamiani decorative leaf bulletThe Unraveling of America

COVID-19 didn’t lay America low; it simply revealed what had long been forsaken. As the crisis unfolded, with another American dying every minute of every day, a country that once turned out fighter planes by the hour could not manage to produce the paper masks or cotton swabs essential for tracking the disease. The nation that defeated smallpox and polio, and led the world for generations in medical innovation and discovery, was reduced to a laughing stock as a buffoon of a president advocated the use of household disinfectants as a treatment for a disease that intellectually he could not begin to understand.

. . .

The American president lives to cultivate resentments, demonize his opponents, validate hatred. His main tool of governance is the lie; as of July 9th, 2020, the documented tally of his distortions and false statements numbered 20,055. If America’s first president, George Washington, famously could not tell a lie, the current one can’t recognize the truth. Inverting the words and sentiments of Abraham Lincoln, this dark troll of a man celebrates malice for all, and charity for none.

H/T Jeff C. decorative leaf bulletHow three conspiracy theorists took ‘Q’ and sparked Qanon

decorative leaf bulletThe U.S. Shouldn’t Get to Decide If a Navajo Man Dies “His tribe objected. The victim’s family objected. Even the case’s original prosecutor objected. But he’s scheduled to get the death penalty anyway.”

Technology

Women’s Work

decorative leaf bullet“We’re stewards of our land” the rise of female farmers “Nearly one in five farmers are women, with the number rising all the time. We ask four of them about their lives, work and a year of challenge”

H/T Tonya: decorative leaf bulletThe ‘Rage Moms’ Democrats Are Counting On

H/T Glenn: decorative leaf bulletHow Queer Women Powered the Suffrage Movement

Rouse, who is among scholars working to “queer the suffrage movement” — which she described as “deconstructing the dominant narrative that has focused on the stories of elite, white, upper-class suffragists” — uses “queer” as an umbrella term to describe suffragists who challenged gender and sexual norms in their everyday lives.

They did this by choosing not to marry, for example, or by living a life outside the rigid expectations placed on women in other ways. The suffragist Gail Laughlin demanded that pockets be sewn into her dresses, a radical request at the time.

decorative leaf bulletThe bold suffragists you likely didn’t learn about in school

decorative leaf bulletA daughter’s choice: Her mom didn’t have covid-19. But isolation seemed to be killing her.

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bulletTracing 🤥🤥👖🔥’s Postal Service obsession — from ‘loser’ to ‘scam’ to ‘rigged election

Allies coddled 💩🔥💰 by telling him the reason he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016 was widespread mail-in balloting fraud — a conspiracy theory for which there is no evidence — and the president’s postal outrage coarsened further.

.  . .

Trump has fixated again on the Postal Service, this time trying to make it a tool in his reelection campaign by slowing mail service, blocking an emergency infusion of federal funds and challenging the integrity of mail-in balloting. The president acknowledged last week that his opposition is rooted in his desire to restrict how many Americans can vote by mail.

decorative leaf bullet💩🔥💰 unhinged Twitter meltdown shows Michelle Obama drew blood

Trump is by far the most corrupt, self-dealing president of the modern era. And the Russia probe uncovered important truths about a foreign attack on our democracy that actually happened, to his benefit, an accounting he corruptly tried to derail.
If anything, Michelle Obama’s account was charitable. She declared that Trump is “clearly in over his head” and “cannot meet the moment.” That’s all true, but it undersells his malevolent intent.

decorative leaf bulletEach of the three people who led Trump’s 2016 campaign has now faced criminal charges

decorative leaf bulletLooks like Trump just validated a key Stormy Daniels affair allegation — by complaining about sharks

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletA Cheerful Mess

In Amy Pollien’s garden, there are no well-defined borders, no straight and tidy rows. Angelica, dahlias, poppies, and milkweed overflow irregularly shaped beds. The green beans, zucchini, and kale flourish in scattershot arrangements. “It’s a cheerful mess,” says Pollien, as she leads me along a narrow path signposted by random mounds of decomposing branches, dead leaves, hay, and clippings.

It’s also an intentional mess: “It disguises the plants,” she explains. “The bugs that like broccoli want nothing more than to find 60-foot-long rows of broccoli. The things that want to gnaw on carrots want to find the carrots. If I hide them here and there, I get much less nibbling.”

decorative leaf bulletEverything you thought you knew about ADHD is wrong.


SetApp: A Suite of macOS Apps for a Single Price Affiliate link for a great collection of 75+ apps for a single price, including the stunning 24 Hour Wallpaper collection. Now, with iOS apps too!


Something Wonderful

H/T Less: Pandas being pandas, while a zoo-keeper tries to rake some leaves:

Elsewhere for August 16, 2020

You should read this for 8/16/2020:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletLetters reveal British objections to plot of Bridge on the River Kwai

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletHow Scholars Finally Deciphered Linear B, the Oldest Preserved Form of Ancient Greek Writing

Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletWhat Does the United States’ Coronavirus Response Look Like Abroad?: Watch the Rest of the World Stare Aghast at Our Handling of COVID-19

Education

decorative leaf bulletIf you can punish a teenage girl for spaghetti straps, you can enforce a mask mandate

decorative leaf bulletThanks to coronavirus and Zoom, we’re looking at the end stages of college as a commodity 

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletMedieval ‘wine windows’ are reopening, reviving Italian plague tradition

Thus, the “wine windows,” or buchette del vino, of Tuscany. They are just as they sound: pint-size hatches, carved into the concrete walls of urban wineries and shops, where beverage merchants would serve sips at a safe social distance.

First introduced in the 1600s, their true purpose went untapped for centuries after the plague — that is, until a new one came along this year.

See also: The Wine Windows of Renaissance Florence Dispense Wine Safely Again During COVID-19 And: Wine windows: why the historic plague-inspired booze holes are back

decorative leaf bulletPoach Your Corn in a Buttery Milk Bath The next time I cook corn on the cob for more than two people, I’m poaching the corn in a butter and milk bath. Cooking corn in butter and milk makes amazing corn on the cob.

decorative leaf bulletHow to Properly Clean Your Dishwasher

decorative leaf bulletEscabeche (Pickled Jalapeños)

decorative leaf bulletDessert Recipes of Iconic Thinkers: Emily Dickinson’s Coconut Cake, George Orwell’s Christmas Pudding, Alice B. Toklas’ Hashish Fudge & More

decorative leaf bulletWhy You Should Freeze Tomatoes Without Peeling Them First

History and Archaeology

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletMartian Features Were Carved by Glaciers, not Flowing Rivers This is the conclusion of a single research paper, so it’s still a theory, but nontheless, an interesting theory.

decorative leaf bulletLarge blue butterfly returns to Cotswolds site for first time in 150 years

Image of a large blue butterfly from above the wings
Large blue butterfly Maculinea arion
Image: PJC&Co Wikimedia

Years of painstaking work by Prof Jeremy Thomas and David Simcox led to the butterfly being successfully reintroduced to sites in Somerset and more recently Gloucestershire.

To do so, they first had to understand its unique lifecycle, with tiny caterpillars dropping off wild thyme and being taken underground by the red ant, Myrmica sabuleti, which is duped into believing that the parasitic larva is one of their own.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_blue#/media/File:Maculinea_arion_Large_Blue_Upperside_SFrance_2009-07-18.jpg

Society

decorative leaf bulletBody camera footage shows struggle leading to George Floyd’s fatal police encounter The headline is misleading. This was murder. No question. BLACK LIVES MATTER.

decorative leaf bulletVoting during 2020 election: What you need to know about mail-in votes, online ballots, polling places

decorative leaf bulletTaxes VPNs and Office Hours the Ultimate Forbes Guide to Working From Home

Technology

Via Twitter @jonasdowneydecorative leaf bulletTHREAD: Here’s a little tale about what it’s like to be an indie iOS developer working under Apple’s 800lb gorilla rule…

decorative leaf bulletFacebook Fired An Employee Who Collected Evidence Of Right-Wing Pages Getting Preferential Treatment. ANd see: decorative leaf bulletYes, Facebook Treats Trump Fans Differently: It Has Relaxed The Rules To Give Them More Leeway

decorative leaf bulletSilicon Valley Has a Caste Discrimination Problem

decorative leaf bulletMalicious party hijacks 24% of Tor network

Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletThis is how the media should confront Trump and his cronies

. . . CBS’s Paula Reid, who challenged a lie President Trump has told about 150 times, namely that he signed the Veterans Choice Act. President Barack Obama did . . . (I will note that by and large in the White House news conferences, it has been women who have rattled Trump: Yamiche Alcindor, Weijia Jiang, April Ryan and Abby Phillip. One need look no further for evidence that Trump cannot deal with non-docile women.)

decorative leaf bulletThe girl who picked up an AK-47 to defend her famil

She was hailed as a hero. But the story behind what happened that night was more complicated.
Did Nooria shoot Taliban attackers, or her husband? Or both?

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bulletCalling it a ‘peaceful protest,’ 🤥🤥👖🔥 flouts coronavirus guidelines with golf club gathering

The happy-hour scene just steps from the golf course was orchestrated by 💩🔥💰, who decided late Friday to hold an impromptu news conference and invite his club members to gather indoors in defiance of state restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
With coronavirus cases nearing 5 million in the United States and average daily deaths topping 1,000, 🤥🤥👖🔥‘s retreat to the confines of his private club offered him an opportunity to create a kind of alternate reality in which his presidency is not being beset by numerous crises.

decorative leaf bulletSeth Meyers explains exactly how Republicans sabotaged the U.S. Postal Service

Trump’s efforts include a massive restructuring of the United States Postal Service which centers power around Postmaster General and Trump fanboy Louis DeJoy. A man who, as Meyers notes, has up to $75 million invested in the post office’s competitors.

decorative leaf bulletPostal Workers Decry Changes And Cost-Cutting Measures

As a result of the recent changes, Karol told NPR’s Noel King on Morning Edition, a mail processing machine was removed from her facility in Waterloo and others have been removed across Iowa.
Of the policy to leave some letters behind for the following day, another postal worker told NPR last month: “I am sick to my stomach,” knowing that means medication could be delayed in getting to recipients.

decorative leaf bulletAmber Ruffin lists all the things 🤥🤥👖🔥 has done for Black Americans

decorative leaf bullet🤥🤥👖🔥 Admits To Opposing Funding For Postal Service To Block More Voting By Mail

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bullet🤥🤥👖🔥 sent agents to quell unrest. But protest is what Portland does best.

The US Mail Not for Sale is a worker-led campaign sponsored by the American Postal Workers Union and the National Association of Letter Carriers. They have some ideas for ways Americans can save our Constitutionally mandated USPS. decorative leaf bulletSave the Post Office You can follow APWU on Twitter.


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


Something Wonderful

H/T Lymond: Zw Frank decorative leaf bulletTrue Facts: The Hummingbird Warrior

Elsewhere for August 9, 2020

You should read this for 8/9/2020:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bullet“On the Trail” is an incomplete portrait of what it’s like to be a female political journalist

On the Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries is not about the presidential candidates who are out campaigning. Rather, it follows the various female journalists who cover the campaigns for CNN. While it spends ample time on seasoned anchors like Kyung Lah and Dana Bash, it also focusses on the chaotic lives of young embeds like Jasmine Wright and Daniella Diaz, who are required to follow their assigned candidates at all times.

decorative leaf bulletSave Your Google Play Music Library Before It Disappears

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletRedditor spots ‘Legend of Zelda’ ingredients in historical novel, author owns it


I want to let you know how much I really enjoy using BaronFig notebooks, and their excellent just-right-sized pen, the Squire. Here’s a referral link for BaronFig: $10.00 off on quality notebooks and writing instruments.


Coronavirus | COVID-19

H/T Yasmin: decorative leaf bulletOver 260 Georgia school employees under quarantine 1 day after returning to classroom See also: The Truth Behind A Viral Picture Of A Reopening School Is Worse Than It Looked And yes, students do have first amendment rights: Georgia School District Inadvertently Begins Teaching Lessons In First Amendment Protections After Viral Photo and then finally: Georgia school reverses suspension of teen who shared viral photo of hallway packed with students

decorative leaf bulletShould You Buy a Face Shield

decorative leaf bullet300,000 Deaths By December? 9 Takeaways From The Newest COVID-19 Projections

Education

decorative leaf bulletI’m sorry, but it’s a fantasy “Jeff Gregorich, superintendent, on trying to reopen his schools safely”

The governor has told us we have to open our schools to students on August 17th, or else we miss out on five percent of our funding. I run a high-needs district in middle-of-nowhere Arizona. We’re 90 percent Hispanic and more than 90 percent free-and-reduced lunch. These kids need every dollar we can get. But covid is spreading all over this area and hitting my staff, and now it feels like there’s a gun to my head. I already lost one teacher to this virus. Do I risk opening back up even if it’s going to cost us more lives? Or do we run school remotely and end up depriving these kids?

decorative leaf bulletThe rightwing defence of ‘academic freedom’ masks a McCarthyite agenda

But while both the report and its recommendations are laughable, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take them seriously. One of the authors, Eric Kaufmann, from the politics department at Birkbeck, University of London, recently called on students and others to report academics for engaging in “politically motivated” attempts to “alter the curriculum”. Who will judge whether such alterations are acceptable? None other than Policy Exchange, under the auspices of its new History Matters project.

Food and Drink

H/T Wirecutter:

decorative leaf bulletUSDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, 2015 revision Free printable PDF file.

decorative leaf bulletThe science that proves making your tea in the microwave is a truly appalling act

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletStudy Warns of Deteriorating Peat Bog Preservation

In 2019, Boethius and his colleagues dug five test pits in areas of the bog that had yielded significant amounts of organic matter during previous excavations in the 1940s and 1970s. Comparing the newly recovered material to samples that had been stored from the previous excavations, they found that the freshly excavated bones were considerably more weathered than the material from both the 1940s and 1970s, suggesting that conditions at the site have deteriorated progressively since the 1940s. Bones from the 1940s were the best preserved, and the best preserved of the 2019 bones were in similar condition to the worst preserved samples from the 1970s excavations.

decorative leaf bulletNeolithic “Woodhenge” Discovered in Portugal

Science and Nature

Fossil meteorite from the mid-Ordovician period, around 460 million years ago. Image credit: Birger Schmitz

decorative leaf bulletAncient Meteorites Can be Found Embedded in Rocks, Like Fossils

decorative leaf bulletA Crashed Israeli Lunar Lander Spilled Tardigrades on the Moon I suspect that this event may have helped inspire certain narrative threads in Star Trek Discovery.

Society

decorative leaf bulletU.S. Intelligence Warns China Opposes Trump Reelection, Russia Works Against Biden

JUST IN: The U.S. intelligence community in a statement warns China is attempting to undermine President Trump’s campaign; Russia is working to malign Joe Biden; and Iran is trying to undermine U.S. democratic institutions and Trump, and trying to sow division among Americans.

decorative leaf bulletTwitter scientist who died of COVID-19 turned out to be a hoax. It only gets weirder from there

Technology

decorative leaf bulletContent Moderation At Scale Is Impossible: Twitter Locks Accounts For Fact Checking The President “However, where things get sketchy on the content moderation front is that Twitter also then ended up freezing the accounts of journalists and activists who fact checked that “Fox & Friends” nonsense:”

decorative leaf bulletThese sustainable 3D printed homes are delivered and installed on the spot — Future Blink

Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletTwo Black moms took their kids to the Mall. Secret Service officers confronted them with guns, they said.

Initially, the women said, an officer told them the vehicle had been reported stolen and that the suspects were two Black men. But the women, both African American, said no men were with them and provided proof that Johnson was the owner. She told the Secret Service she had never reported the car stolen. Eventually, the women were released — without an apology or answers to their questions, Winston said.

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bulletVideo resurfaces of Trump struggling to vote in person in 2004 as he ramps up attacks on mail-in voting

decorative leaf bulletJournalist’s gobsmacked reactions during 🤥🤥👖🔥’s interview are Twitter’s too

Not only did 🤥🤥👖🔥 double down on his well-wishes for accused child sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, he also attempted to explain away the horrendous U.S. coronavirus death toll with some more charts that not even he appeared to fully understand.

decorative leaf bullet🤥🤥👖🔥 said Biden ‘hurt God.’ Biden has spent his life drawing from his Catholic faith.

decorative leaf bullet💩🔥💰 continues to flout social distancing guidelines even as he urges others to follow them I see dead people.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletThe Best Ways to Block Annoying People Around the Web


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


Something Wonderful

H/T Roseanne: decorative leaf bulletJimmy Buffett: “Everybody needs to take a little breath”

Image of Stonehenge

Elsewhere for August 2, 2020

You should read this for 8/2/2020:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletViacom’s Copyright Bots Take Down ‘Star Trek’ Comic-con Panel Because These Bots Suck Out Loud

The output of this broken system is shown when these bots take down totally legitimate content or when grifters abuse the system to try to take some measure of income away from small third-party streamers. But attempts at machine-based copyright enforcement are truly at their most satisfying when content companies employing these bots commit unintentional copyright seppuku.
This happens way more than you might think, but the latest version of this is Viacom briefly nuking its own Star Trek Comic-Con panel when the copyright borg misfired.

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s eloquence in the face of arrogance is a master class

Ocasio-Cortez’s address was a masterpiece of heartfelt, unadorned plain speech that (consciously or instinctively) employed the tools of the orator, the rhetorician and preacher. What carries us is repetition, rhythm, emphasis, cadence, pronunciation (the congresswoman leans into her Bronx vowels) and a seamless transition from each event or idea to its larger implications.

decorative leaf bulletAuthors condemn Saudi Arabia’s bid to host World Science Fiction Convention

Pointing to the fact that homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, its escalating restrictions on freedom of speech, and the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the writers argue that it is unacceptable to stage an international event against this backdrop.

decorative leaf bulletPublisher Decries Damn Libraries Entertaining The Masses Stuck At Home For Free


25% off at Story Supply Company; notebooks for every writer Expires 8/11/2020.


Coronavirus | COVID-19

decorative leaf bulletCoronavirus infects bear cam rangers in remote Alaska bqThe infections, which forced a temporary shutdown of the camp (but not the live cams), underscore how easy it is for this new coronavirus to spread between people anywhere, largely through airborne transmission.
“The primary transmission of COVID-19 is from person-to-person through respiratory droplets,” says the CDC, who notes transmission can happen from “those with mild symptoms or those who do not feel ill.”

decorative leaf bulletStudy: Nose appears to be better at spreading COVID-19 than mouth

decorative leaf bulletShe needs her license pulled

Via NPR: decorative leaf bulletCOVID-19 Hospital Data System That Bypasses CDC Plagued By Delays, Inaccuracies

Earlier this month, when the Trump administration told hospitals to send crucial data about coronavirus cases and intensive care capacity to a new online system, it promised the change would be worth it. The data would be more complete, transparent, and an improvement over the old platform run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, administration officials said.

Instead, the public data hub created under the new system is updated erratically and is rife with inconsistencies and errors, data analysts say.

Education

decorative leaf bulletBeware of Facts Man “Facts Man is less about truth than raising questions. Why can’t Facts Man talk about certain issues in exactly the way he wants to?”

You have met Facts Man before if you have spent any time online in the past half decade or so. He’s inescapable. He podcasts. He makes YouTube videos. He traffics in Medium posts. He burns up Facebook. And he loves—loves!—Twitter.

What does he serve up there? Truth. Facts. The overlooked and the undercovered. The unvarnished and obvious conclusions that the media do not want you to believe. The conclusions that the social-justice warriors and sheeple professors will not let you reach. The conclusions that mere mortals, including lauded subject-matter experts and the people who have actual lived experience of the topic at hand, have not yet grasped.

Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletHow to make hummus – recipe I like the fact that this recipe includes how to make hummus with dried or canned chickpeas/garbanzo beans.

decorative leaf bullet‘Your gut is more than just a mechanism for processing food’: how your diet can affect your mental health

decorative leaf bulletdulce de leche chocoflan This Smitten Kitchen recipe makes me think of my friend Bart.

decorative leaf bullet9 Ways to Make Pesto Straight from the Garden

decorative leaf bulletHow to Make Easy Refrigerator Pickles

History and Archaeology

Image of Stonehenge
Stonehenge Image: Gareth Wiscombe

decorative leaf bulletWhence Came Stonehenge’s Stones? Now We Know

Dr. Nash has traced the source of almost all the sarsens to West Woods, on the southern edge of the Downs and several miles closer to Stonehenge. His team analyzed the geochemical fingerprint of the 52 sarsens that remain in situ at the ancient site.

See also: Archaeologists Discover Source Od Stonehenge Giant Sarsen Stones and Stonehenge: Sarsen stones origin mystery solved. According to English Heritage’s Susan Greaney:

“To be able to pinpoint the area that Stonehenge’s builders used to source their materials around 2,500 BC is a real thrill.
“While we had our suspicions that Stonehenge’s sarsens came from the Marlborough Downs, we didn’t know for sure, and with areas of sarsens across Wiltshire, the stones could have come from anywhere.
“They wanted the biggest, most substantial stones they could find and it made sense to get them from as nearby as possible.”
Ms Greaney added the evidence highlights “just how carefully considered and deliberate the building of this phase of Stonehenge was”.

decorative leaf bulletNew Roman fort uncovered in Lancashire after years of speculation

A number of internal features have been revealed by geophysical survey including a well-defined eastern gateway with double gate towers, and numerous stone buildings interpreted as granaries or barracks. Limited trial trenching of the latter has revealed the presence of a large stone, buttressed building typical of a Roman granary.


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Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletRock from Mars heads home after 600,000 years on Earth “Tiny piece of meteorite from London’s Natural History Museum will be used by rover exploring red planet”

Society

decorative leaf bulletThe Truth About Russian Trolling

decorative leaf bulletPatent Troll Gets Court To Order Startup It Sued To ‘Edit’ Blog Post; Troll Now Asks Startup To Get Us To Change Our Techdirt Post

decorative leaf bulletCourt Blocks Federal Officers From Attacking, Arresting Reporters Covering Protests In Portland

decorative leaf bulletHow to Figure Out If You’re Dating a Narcissist

Technology

The Verge: decorative leaf bulletThe Best Chromebooks To Buy In 2020

Women’s Work

decorative leaf bulletThe Unprecedented Bravery of Olivia de Havilland

decorative leaf bulletMoms In Tech Facebook Group Splintering Over Allegations Of Racism

Soon after, members began to notice their comments related to racism and social justice were being deleted. When a Latina entrepreneur, who requested anonymity for this article, posted about migrant kids being released from detention centers — and forcibly separated from their parents — she thought no one cared about the issue because the post got such low traction. Then she realized it had been taken down.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bulletGet Paid to Be a Beekeeper

decorative leaf bulletRead Barack Obama’s Eulogy for John Lewis

We may no longer have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar in order to cast a ballot, but even as we sit here, there are those in power who are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting by closing polling locations and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, even undermining the Postal Service in the run-up to an election that’s going to be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don’t get sick.

I know this is a celebration of John’s life. There are some who might say we shouldn’t dwell on such things. But that’s why I’m talking about it. John Lewis devoted his time on this Earth fighting the very attacks on democracy and what’s best in America that we’re seeing circulate right now. He knew that every single one of us has a God-given power and that the faith of this democracy depends on how we use it. That democracy isn’t automatic. It has to be nurtured. It has to be tended to. We have to work at it. It’s hard. And so he knew that it depends on whether we summoned a measure, just a measure of John’s moral courage, to question what’s right and what’s wrong. And call things as they are. He said that as long as he had a breath in his body, he would do everything he could to preserve this democracy, and as long as we have breath in our bodies, we had to continue his cause.


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Something Wonderful

Via: @thetzechun: VIdeo with sound (OK to turn off sound): decorative leaf bulletFrom
海外の万国反応記

decorative leaf bulletThis Free macOS 8 Emulator Lets You Play ‘Oregon Trail’

Elsewhere for July 26, 2020

You should read this for 7/26/2020:

Art, Music, and Film

decorative leaf bulletDHS threatens Netflix filmmakers to keep damning footage from airing before the election: report

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

decorative leaf bulletThe Only Surviving Script Written by Shakespeare Is Now Online Not a really great headline; the British Library has put the entire digitized ms. of The Book of Sir Thomas More online. Passages were written by Shakespeare, including the most famous bit wherein More addresses a crowd of anti-Flemish who object to immigrants.

decorative leaf bulletHow to put free e-books on your Amazon Kindle. This is really about how to put ebooks that aren’t from Amazon on your Kindle.

Coronavirus | COVID-19

H/T @TimWasem: decorative leaf bulletThe Influenza Masks of 1918

decorative leaf bullet‘No mask, no entry. Is that clear enough? That seems pretty clear, right?’ “Lori Wagoner, retail clerk, on trying to enforce a state requirement to wear masks.”

We locked the front door and my co-worker and I went back into the storage room. We sat there and sobbed.

The next morning, I went to the hardware store to buy supplies. I can’t handle the constant tension. It’s rinse and repeat with all these daily blowups, and I’m starting to get paranoid. We installed a doorbell so we can keep the front door locked even during business hours, and I’ve got pepper spray up at my register. This is my job now. At least I’ll be ready.

decorative leaf bulletOn metric after metric, the coronavirus pandemic has been worse in the U.S. than nearly any other country

H/T Roseanne: decorative leaf bulletOf Friends: A Librarian Reflects

decorative leaf bulletIn Baltimore, a struggling, black-owned nursing home keeps covid-19 at bay

decorative leaf bulletWhy It’s Still So Tough to Find Disinfectant Wipes

Education

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Food and Drink

decorative leaf bulletH/T Om Malik: Inside the World of Black Market Bourbon

decorative leaf bulletPico de Gallo Use your own fresh tomatoes, cilantro, and peppers.

decorative leaf bulletPeach Sangria

decorative leaf bulletChickpea Salad Sandwiches

decorative leaf bulletSourdough Is A Social Media Star — But Those Beans Would Look Great On Instagram

History and Archaeology

decorative leaf bulletNew Dates Push Back Occupation of South Australia

Researchers from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization and Waikato University radiocarbon dated shell middens in South Australia, and determined that a site in the Riverland region was occupied as early as 29,000 years ago.

decorative leaf bulletCambridge University Professor Cooks 4000-Year-Old Recipes from Ancient Mesopotamia, and Lets You See How They Turned Out

Science and Nature

decorative leaf bulletWhales Get A Break As Pandemic Creates Quieter Oceans The article has pictures, and Humpback whale recordings.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope took this picture of Saturn on July 4, 2020

decorative leaf bulletStunning new Hubble image of Saturn. You really gotta see this image.

Society

Om Malik: decorative leaf bulletIt all started with a single tweet

In fourteen years, since that fateful evening, all I can say is the medium is optimized for the loudest and strangest to get the most attention. The virulent is what gets virality. It is not just Twitter. It is also us.

Technology

Via iDownload: decorative leaf bulletWallpapers of the week: along the roads Free iPhone wallpapers.

decorative leaf bulletYour ‘Doomscrolling’ Breeds Anxiety. Here’s How To Stop The Cycle

decorative leaf bulletTwitter says at least one elected official had DMs accessed during breach Also:

in total 130 accounts were targeted by attackers during the breach. 45 accounts, many of them high profile, were accessed and used to send out tweets encouraging people to send bitcoin with the promise the money would be doubled. 36 accounts had their DM inbox accessed, and eight accounts had all of their data (including direct messages) downloaded, however, none of those eight accounts were verified.

Women’s Work

Ocasio-Cortez accosted by GOP lawmaker over remarks: ‘That kind of confrontation hasn’t ever happened to me’ decorative leaf bullet‘I Could Not Allow That To Stand’: Ocasio-Cortez Rebukes Republican For Vulgar Insult But wait, there’s moar! See The New York Times has a misogyny problem, too.

In fact, the double standards were everywhere. New York magazine writer Rebecca Traister, responding to Harris’s tweet, noted: “Women’s anger at male power abuse [is] regularly presented as path to self-advancement for the women. Voicing fury at systemic degradation is read as opportunistic. Whereas men’s abusive behavior rarely understood as fundamental to how they attained & maintain THEIR power. But it is!”

decorative leaf bulletHow to person woman man camera tv Sarah Cooper is fabulous.

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

decorative leaf bulletTrump’s gripes about Fauci: A guide The one that I keep hearing repeatedly, from people who should know better, is that Fauci said not to wear a mask. He was talking about medical quality masks, N95 and the like, and was clear that he wanted to make sure medical staff could obtain them, when they were already in short supply.

‘Dr. Fauci said, “Don’t wear a mask.” ’
Fauci did say this, as did other health experts in the U.S. government. He says he was motivated by early fears that N95 masks needed by hospital workers would quickly run out of stock. Once science indicated that the virus was spread by people who were asymptomatic, the guidance was updated, because even fabric masks can help halt the spread if everyone wears them.

decorative leaf bulletI took a closer look at the cognitive test Trump claims to have aced “The test the president boasted about passing does not measure IQ but is typically used to check for early signs of dementia”

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

decorative leaf bullet‘I wanted to take action’: behind the ‘Wall of Moms’ protecting Portland’s protesters ‘Hundreds of mothers have attended demonstrations and stood as a human barricade between protesters and federal officers” and Portland Dads With Leaf Blowers Join Wall of Moms to Blow Back Tear Gas From Police


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


Something Wonderful

西村ケント(Kent Nishimura) @guitar_shonen decorative leaf bulletHuman Nature This is Kent Nishimura’s YouTube channel.

H/T Ari: decorative leaf bulletA doe, and a harp solo.

image of Farpoint Station

STNG: Encounter at Farpoint

image of Farpoint Station
Farpoint Station

Just for the heck of it, I have been re-watching Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes. I started from the very beginning, with the pilot “Encounter at Farpoint.” I remember watching this when it first aired September 28, 1987. It’s a two-hour pilot, so it’s often split into two episodes, though it didn’t air that way on release. “Encounter at Farpoint” was written by the magnificent D. C. Fontana, who also wrote some of the best episodes of Star Trek the original series.

This episode was the first to feature the character Q, of the “Q Continuum,” and his bizarre obsession with using the Enterprise crew as, well, glorified lab-rats. The basic plot is this: The Enterprise is sent to investigate the sudden acquisition by the less than tech-savvy Bandi of Farpoint station, a sophisticated space station with an unknown power supply.

It turns out that Farpoint Station is organic, and sentient, and has a really pissed-off mate who comes in search of the missing space-station spouse. It all ends well, of course, even the sub-plot in which Q has challenged Picard (played by Patrick Stewart, also known, apparently, as “Pecan” to some of his fellow Trek actors) to prove that humans are civilized—by figuring out the “mystery” of Farpoint Station. The two space-living sentient ships are united, Q disappears (for now) and all is well.

“Encounter at Farpoint” already has some of the STNG’s primary mofits; Data the Pinocchio android who wants to be human, the come-here-go-away relationships between Riker and Deanna Troi the overly-emo-empath who was frequently poorly treated by the writers, and the relationship between Dr. Crusher and Picard. Mostly, though, this is the episode that pretty much screwed over the science-geek space cadet genius kid, Wesley Crusher, setting the mold for the unfortunate character’s entire run, and frustrating a powerless and talented actor, Wil Wheaton.

There’s a point in the extensive exposition when Riker, Dr. Crusher and her son Wesley are at a market at the station, when we see the station mysteriously respond to Dr. Crusher’s wish for a piece of fabric in a different color. Wesley notes that it’s a mystery and Farpoint Station is all mysterious and stuff. Wil Wheaton in his review of the episode writes:

It’s right around this moment, according to historical data and polling research, that the Kill Wesley movement got its first member, though scholars are unable to agree upon who it was. It has been narrowed down to a single male virgin, approximately age 24, living in his parents’ basement in the American Midwest.

Wheaton, by the way, writes not only solid and funny plot summaries, his critiques of the bits of acting that make characters work are not only spot on, he is invariably professionally generous (though he’s way too hard on himself—you were a kid, Wheaton, working with some less than stellar scripts).

When I saw this pilot when it first aired, the only character I liked was Data; he was predictable, but I thought Spiner took the character beyond the limits of the script. I was already a Patrick Stewart fan (I was in the audience at Royce hall when Justman decided to invite Stewart to play the part of Picard), but Picard seemed to be unreasonable, a bit of a blow-hard martinet in love with his own voice. There’s a scene where Picard confesses to Riker that he doesn’t like children. Picard elaborates:

I don’t feel comfortable with children. But since a captain needs an image of geniality you’re to see that’s what I project.

That’s really off-putting, duplicitious, and very much not like the character Picard becomes.

Then, there’s the problem that STNG was, already in the pilot, repeating episodes from the original Star Trek. “Encounter at Farpoint” is using not only the themes, but basic plot-points of the original series episode “Devil in the Dark.” It’s a pilot, and so some of the characters are a bit off in comparison to what they became, the timing and the delivery of some of the lines are not quite right, but it has something, something that got the series approved.