You should read this for 3/13/2021:
Art, Music, and Film
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language
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).
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.
Of Preachers And Storytellers: An Interview With Sheri S. Tepper
Amazon 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
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
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.
From Matt Might: http://matt.might.net/articles/phd-school-in-pictures/
Food and Drink
There’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
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.
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.
Politics and Society
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.
GOP 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 TimesHarry and Meghan: The union of two great houses, the Windsors and the Celebrities, is complete
Science and Nature
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.
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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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.
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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. . . 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.
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.
“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.”
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 🤥🤥👖🔥
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.
“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.”
“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
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.
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:
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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