She plays o' the viol-de-gamboys, speaks three or four languages word for word without book, hath all the good gifts of nature, knows a hawk from a handsaw, and can see a church by daylight. The rest is subject to fancy.

Elsewhere for March 22, 2020

You should read this for 3/22/2020:

Art and Film

An Oral History Of How The Movie ‘Wargames’ Inspired Ronald Reagan’s Cybersecurity Policies

From the movie’s writers to the people who were in the room with Reagan when he watched it, here’s why you can thank Matthew Broderick for the lack of accidental nuclear wars

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

Wordsworth exhibition explores true nature of William and Dorothy’s bond

This Minecraft Library Is Making Censored Journalism Accessible All Over The World

The Coronavirus | COVID-19

A Chilling Scientific Paper Helped Upend U.S. And U.K. Coronavirus Strategies

If Britain and the United States pursued more-ambitious measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, to slow but not necessarily stop the epidemic over the coming few months, they could reduce mortality by half, to 260,000 people in the United Kingdom and 1.1 million in the United States.

Here’s one estimate of how much the curve needs to flatten in your community

Inspired by the Times’s visuals, we took those data and made regionalized curves showing the percentage of capacity in any hospital system that would be required under different infection scenarios, including the number of people infected and the length of time over which those infections will occur.

‘They’re Feeling Invincible’: White House Steps Up Warnings To Young Adults

Officials are stepping up their warnings to younger Americans about the coronavirus, because they can more easily spread the virus without having symptoms and now because new evidence shows the potential for some younger people to suffer severely from it.

Buzz Aldrin has some advice for Americans in quarantine


Alone in an Owl’s Nest: Keene State student quarantined on campus

After just half a day of home-schooling, I am officially in awe of all teachers

Checkology Can your students tell the difference between fact and fiction? This is a free online curriculum for schools and home schoolers.

Food and Drink

Lemon Chicken with Pasta, Olives, and Herbs Chicken breasts, yogurt, olives, lemon, red onion, chicken stock, fresh parsley, fresh cilantro and dried smaller sized pasta from the pantry.

Can Birch Syrup Pick Up Steam? “A western Maine tapper is all in on maple syrup’s lesser-known cousin.”

History and Archaeology

Eyam recalls lessons from 1665 battle with plague

In the fields between the Derbyshire villages of Eyam and Stoney Middleton sits a gritstone boulder known as the “boundary stone”.
During the bubonic plague outbreak of 1665-6, the inhabitants of Eyam quarantined themselves, in a famous act of self-sacrifice, to prevent the spread of the plague. Villagers would come to place money in six holes drilled into the top of the boundary stone to pay for food and medicine left by their anxious neighbours.

See this really well-done BBC piece about Eyam: Eyam Plague: The Village Of The Damned

US museum Dead Sea Scroll collection found to be fakes “After six months of analysis, experts released a 200-page report detailing how the fragments were forged – likely made from old shoe leather.” The collection belongs to Stephen Green, the homophobic hate-mongering owner of Hobby Lobby.

In 2017, Mr Green’s company the Hobby Lobby paid a $3m fine (£2.3m) and returned thousands of items after the US Department of Justice accused it of smuggling artifacts from Iraq.

Science and Nature

H/T Kira Cee: Ultra-Rare Dwarf Kingfisher Fledgling Photographed for the Very First Time


Some People


💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰 Liar, Liar Pants on Fire

Trump ‘offers large sums’ for exclusive access to coronavirus vaccine

Stephen Colbert criticizes Trump’s coronavirus ‘strategy’ from his home fire pit Yep; he called it 💩🔥💰 is gaslighting.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

How to argue with a racist: Five myths debunked

‘Quarantine soirees’: classical music and opera to stream at home

Via MIT: Thank You to These Community Members

During an extraordinary time for MIT, our nation, and the world, the following MIT community members have been recognized for going the extra mile to keep our community functioning and safe. Thank someone today.

Endless, one of the higher end notebook companies, has a free downloable “toolkit” to use in playing very basic, traditional games that require paper and pencil.

You likely already know these games from your own childhood if you pre-date the Internet, but for those who don’t, the link below has instructions for tic-tac-toe, hangman, and squares in the form of a printable .pdf you use as a guide sheet behind a sheet of paper or notebook page. This is very basic, but I thought it might be useful for those entertaining kids. This is their Toolkit page. Scroll down for the Paper Games Toolkit.

Something Wonderful

Via Twitter: Banjo balm Steve Martin on his Banjo

H/T Kira Cee — YouTube Video: Cats and Dominoes

Elsewhere for March 15, 2020

You should read this for 3/15/2020:

Art, Music, and Film

Stuck at Home? These 12 Famous Museums Offer Virtual Tours You Can Take on Your Couch (Video)

Preserving the Stories of America “Folkstreams is a non-profit dedicated to finding, preserving, contextualizing, and showcasing documentary films on American traditional cultures.”

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

The Library of Congress Wants You to Help Transcribe Walt Whitman’s Poems & Letters: Almost 4000 Unpublished Documents Are Waiting

Corona Virus | COVID-19

Duke University Press Open Access: Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative

H/T Jeff Carlson: Malia Jones, PhD, MPH What I think about COVID-19 this morning
March 5, 2020
“Maybe I’m the closest thing you personally know to an infectious disease epidemiologist. Maybe not–I’m not an expert on this virus by any stretch, but I have general knowledge and training from studying epidemics that is applicable, so here are my thoughts.”

How To Disinfect an iPhone I’m seeing lots of references to using Isopropyl alcohol or household spray disinfectants on smart phones. Please don’t do this as cavalierly as it sounds. Use a little caution. That glass is coated; there are open ports that really don’t need even very fine drops of liquid in them. See also: Your phone screen is covered with germs. Here’s how to clean it and Apple’s updated Is it OK to Disinfect my iPhone (Yes, yes it is.

Using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of your Apple product, such as the display, keyboard, or other exterior surfaces. Don’t use bleach. Avoid getting moisture in any opening, and don’t submerge your Apple product in any cleaning agents. Don’t use on fabric or leather surfaces.

Via TPM: Amazing Report from Shanghai

This genius PSA generator pairs hand-washing instructions with any song lyrics you like

Hand Sanitizer And Coronavirus: Not All Of It Will Work

According to the CDC, hand sanitizers should be at least 60 percent alcohol, especially if you apply it correctly as a substitute for washing hands in a pinch (but if you can wash your hands, definitely do that). Yet plenty of alcohol-free hand sanitizers are sold out or in high demand on Amazon as well, which means that customers are buying and using them, even though they don’t work as well.

Elizabeth Warren Helps Snl Roast Fox News’ Coronavirus Coverage

How to Politely Avoid a Handshake

How to Deal With a Quarantine If You’re Struggling Emotionally

Facts about novel coronavirus and how to prevent COVID-19

I had COVID-19 and here is my story. I made this post public out of several requests from my friends who asked me to share. I hope it gives you some good information and peace of mind!

Via NPR an anonymous Chinese journalist on live in a post Coronavirus locked-down Wuhan China: Personal Essay: Coronavirus Lockdown Is A ‘Living Hell’

What has happened in Wuhan is as if your house caught on fire and all your neighbors knew but forbade you from jumping out of the window. Only until the fire is out of control, and the entire town ablaze, do they slowly begin taking responsibility while highlighting their own heroic efforts.

Go read this report on how coronavirus started spreading in Seattle

See also: Seattle’s Patient Zero Spread Coronavirus Despite Ebola-Style Lockdown

‘Who’s Going To Help Them?’: Caregivers Brace For The Spread Of Coronavirus

Palli Thordarson a professor at the School of Chemistry at the University of New South Wales, Sydney on why soap works so very well at killing viruses. Deadly viruses are no match for plain, old soap — here’s the science behind it This piece is the result of @PalliThordarson Palli Thordarson’s Twitter thread: Why does soap work so well on the SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus and indeed most viruses?

Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now “The only way to prevent this is social distancing today. Not tomorrow. Today. That means keeping as many people home as possible, starting now.”

Why Washington state is at the center of the US coronavirus outbreak

High numbers can be attributed in part to the fact that the state reported the first case in the US and jumpstarted testing

Bleach Kills the Coronavirus, Too

There is one important thing to know before you start dousing your home with bleach: it’s easily inactivated by organic material, like food particles or hair. This really isn’t a big deal—it just means your counters have to be clean in order for bleach to actually disinfect them. As long as you wipe everything down with your usual surface cleaner first to make sure there’s no lingering bread crumbs or coffee grounds getting in the way, a bleach solution will work flawlessly


Harvard’s wealth highlights two key questions for universities closing due to coronavirus

Food and Drink

Simply Pasta And Beans: Rachel Roddy’s Recipe For Pasta E Fagioli

Tito’s Vodka would like to remind you that it *isn’t* a replacement for hand sanitizer

The company took to Twitter to reaffirm that with an alcohol content of only 40 percent, it doesn’t meet CDC guidelines for hand sanitizer. “Tito’s Handmade Vodka is 40 percent alcohol, and therefore does not meet the current recommendation of the CDC,” the company said in a statement. 

How To Spot A Sustainable Tea Brand

How to Properly Care for Cast Iron

The big question most people have is whether they can wash their cast iron cookware with soap. The answer is yes! Soap away! Just be sure to rinse and dry the pan thoroughly, and then immediately re-season it.
“Season a pan? What’s that?”

H/T Liz Gorinsky: An All-Pantry Meal Plan for Coronavirus and Other Perilous Times “Experts recommend having a two-week supply of non-perishable food on hand in case of emergencies. So we developed a 14-day meal plan of pantry-sourced dinners.”

How to cook the perfect boxty – recipe

These potato cakes, known in Irish as bacstaí (derived from either bácús, meaning bakery, or arán bocht tí, or bread of the poorhouse – no one seems quite sure), are particularly popular in the north-west of the country, where they take a variety of forms, from griddled pancakes to baked wedges of bread.

Creamy Tortellini Soup with Sausage and Spinach

This recipe uses a lot of simple shortcuts in prep time, and is a recipe that you can make with frozen ingredients you bought and froze.

Larder living: 10 of the best store cupboard recipes – from chilli to pizza

If coronavirus forces you to self-isolate, you’ll need to make the most of what you already have in your kitchen. Here’s how to spice things up

Links to full recipes, with some great ideas for flat-bread pizza, pilaf and more.

History and Archaeology

Stegosaurus footprints found on Isle of Skye

Spanish Flu: A Warning from History

So let’s put our current moment into perspective with this 10+ minute history on the Spanish Flu from Cambridge University. Here are the numbers: it killed 20 million people according to contemporary accounts. Later scientists and historians revised that number to somewhere between 50 to 100 million.

V&A snaps up medieval brooch found on Brigstock farmland

Science and Nature

A Tiny Skull Trapped in Amber Reveals One of the Smallest Dinosaurs on Record

Humans Domesticated Horses — New Tech Could Help Archaeologists Figure Out Where and When


The monks who bought their own Scottish island

This week, the BBC showed scammers at work in an Indian call centre, recorded by an activist who hacked into the company’s security cameras. Staff were seen laughing at their victims in the US and the UK. But who are these scammers, and how do they justify their actions?


Confessions of a call-centre scammer

NYU Law School’s Video Teaching Copyright Completely Flummoxed YouTube’s Copyright Filters

The tools and tricks that let Ars Technica function without a physical office

Women’s Work

Via jelani cobb @jelani9 on Twitter: Two years ago I sat down on an Amtrak train from NYC to Boston. Shortly afterward Senator @ewarren sat down in the seat behind me. I introduced myself and reminded her we’d met briefly once before at an event.

‘Big dreams never die’: Elizabeth Warren drops out of the race, and women know exactly why

The question of why Warren didn’t, now that she’s exited the presidential race, is what’s most painful to answer. Experts will say she didn’t expand her base beyond white, college-educated voters. Warren’s extensive set of plans for just about everything eclipsed her compelling biography. She built strong relationships with leading black activists and advocates, and won their endorsements, but failed to convert that outreach into support from black voters. These logical explanations almost make it possible to believe that sexism didn’t doom her run.

Pallaqueras, the women who hunt for gold at the top of the world

These women live with their families in shacks in a gold shantytown in the Andes. The men of La Rinconada ban all women from the mines dug beneath the rock. So the pallaqueras take turns to scramble up on to piles of scree that the men have dumped, scanning the lumps for gold

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

Twitter Places ‘Manipulated Media’ Warning On White House Social Media Director’s Biden Tweet

Seth Meyers explains how a policy meant to help poorer communities is enriching Trump’s family instead

Under the policy, investors can delay paying taxes if they invest in areas that need it, with such areas being labelled “opportunity zones.” However, the definition of said zones is so broad that investors such as Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner have used the policy to build in already affluent neighbourhoods. 

Via Reuters: Exclusive: White House told federal health agency to classify coronavirus deliberations – sources

The White House has ordered federal health officials to treat top-level coronavirus meetings as classified, an unusual step that has restricted information and hampered the U.S. government’s response to the contagion, according to four Trump administration officials.

Besieged [Liar Liar Pants On Fire announces Europe travel ban in effort to stem coronavirus pandemic

For weeks now, Trump’s handling of the growing crisis has invited intensifying criticism. He has contradicted the public health experts in his own government, spread misinformation, accused the media of overhyping the threat of the virus to hurt his presidency, sought to lay blame on Democrats and the Chinese, and erupted in private meetings with advisers.

[Liar Liar Pants On Fire] tells a nation terrified of coronavirus that none of this is his fault “Trump lied, insulted reporters, and explicitly refused to take responsibility for his own actions.”

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

Coronavirus: The boy behind the Wash Your Lyrics site

The not-for-profit Wash Your Lyrics site allows users to enter the title of their chosen song and artist to automatically generate a poster matching the lyrics to the 13-step washing routine.

Wash Your Lyrics

‘Thank God I said something’: the beauticians who spot domestic abuse

Tip Your Service Workers Especially Generously Right Now

China offers Italy medical aid as province donates masks to help overseas Chinese

Apple signs open letter voicing opposition to new legislation targeting LGBTQ community

Video: Coronavirus: Italians sing from their windows to boost morale

A countrywide lockdown due to coronavirus has not stopped Italians from bursting into morale-boosting song in a nationwide flashmob event.

“This time is different”: In Seattle, social distancing forces The Stranger to make a coronavirus plea

Support Your Local Businesses by Buying Gift Cards to Use After the Coronavirus Outbreak

Elsewhere for March 8, 2020

You should read this for 3/08/2020:

Art and Film

Holbein’s Henry VIII joins his Ambassadors at National Gallery

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

Via Open Culture: Americans Visited Libraries Almost Twice as Often as They Went to the Movies Last Year, a New Survey Shows

. . . veteran polling outfit Gallup spent part of December 2019 asking Americans around the country what they did when they went out. Among the nine activities they listed—including movies, concerts, sporting events, museums, zoos, and casinos—“visiting the library remains the most common cultural activity Americans engage in, by far,” averaging 10.5 visits per year, notes Justin McCarthy at Gallup News.

Corona Virus | COVID-19

World Health Organization recommends people take these simple precautions against coronavirus to reduce exposure and transmission

How to prepare for coronavirus in the U.S. (Spoiler: Not sick? No need to wear a mask)

“Remember to not let fear override your common humanity about how you treat other people,” Brewer said. “Just remember we’re all in this together. This is a virus. It does not think. It is not planning. We shouldn’t be blaming our neighbors or our fellow colleagues or people in the community because a virus happens to exist and is spreading.”

How To Prepare For The Coronavirus: What To Buy Now In Case A Pandemic Is Declared, According To A Virologist

I’m an ICU doctor. The NHS isn’t ready for the coronavirus crisis

Coronavirus: Four more deaths in Washington state

Twitter thread: Seattle Health care worker tries to be responsible and get tested. What’s particularly interesting are the responses in the thread from people in other countries about how testing and health care are handled.

America’s Nursing Homes Are Bracing for an Outbreak “As the disease caused by the coronavirus has spread in a nursing home near Seattle, other facilities around the country are implementing plans to mitigate risk.”

How to Prepare for the Coronavirus

It’s like being in a science fiction film – my daily life in a locked-down Chinese city “In Beihan, local government cars with loudspeakers pass by regularly now, issuing warnings and orders to obey the new restrictions”

King County, Washington: Local health officials announce new recommendations to reduce risk of spread of COVID-19

Sick of singing ‘Happy Birthday’ while washing hands to fight coronavirus? Try these pop hits instead

State Department blames ‘swarms of online, false personas’ from Russia for wave of coronavirus misinformation online

In February, a top State Department official accused Russia of deploying similar tactics around coronavirus, spreading falsehoods that may stoke panic or undermine health officials’ response to the deadly outbreak. But the U.S. government has offered no public evidence of its claims, sparking criticism from tech companies, which say they remain in the dark about the exact nature of suspected Kremlin interference.

Harvard Epidemiologist predicts effects of coronavirus in the months ahead via CBS:

Coronavirus: nine reasons to be reassured See especially:

Catching it is not that easy (if we are careful) and we can kill it quite easily (provided we try). Frequent, careful hand washing, as we now all know, is the most effective way to stop the virus being transmitted, while a solution of ethanol, hydrogen peroxide or bleach will disinfect surfaces. To be considered at high risk of catching the coronavirus you need to live with, or have direct physical contact with, someone infected, be coughed or sneezed on by them (or pick up a used tissue), or be in face-to-face contact, within two metres, for more than 15 minutes. We’re not talking about passing someone in the street.

Food and Drink

On Tap in the County? Truly Local Beers “Aroostook hop growers, maltsters, and brewers are teaming up on homegrown suds.”

Nigel Slater’s recipe for butter beans, cabbage and mi-cuit tomatoes “Tins and jars are put to good use for this comforting supper of creamy beans, sweet-savoury tomatoes, and bright, fresh cabbage.”

David Atherton’s recipe for homemade baked beans

Via King Arthur Flour: Back-of-the-Bag Oatmeal Bread

This tender, high-rising sandwich bread is soft enough for kids to enjoy, yet sturdy enough for all kinds of sandwich fillings. It also makes great toast, perfect with jam or buttered alongside scrambled eggs. King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour ensures a high rise even in the presence of oats, which sometimes inhibit gluten formation. In fact, the recipe was featured on our bread flour bag for quite some time, and has become a perennial customer favorite for good reason: it’s easy to make, uses simple ingredients, and we guarantee everyone in the family will love it!

History and Archaeology

British Museum acquires 3,000-year-old Shropshire sun pendant

The pendant was found in a landscape that would have been boggy and wet during the bronze age. Curators think it would have been intentionally cast into the water as an offering, much as people today throw coins into fountains.

I Helped Fact-Check the 1619 Project. The Times Ignored Me. “The paper’s series on slavery made avoidable mistakes. But the attacks from its critics are much more dangerous.”

Science and Nature

SETI@home No Longer Needs Your Gateway 2000 To Search For Aliens “Gold bulla is described as one of the most important bronze age finds of the last century”


Via Twitter Kurt Schrader @kurt: Remote Working Tips

A number of companies I know are suddenly becoming (at least temporarily) distributed this week and several people have asked for advice on how to run a remote team . . . , so I figured I’d pull together a few quick tips here.


H/T Benedict Evans: How Sticks and Shell Charts Became a Sophisticated System for Navigation

Twitter thread from Chris Cox @Cyber_CoxThis is a thread all about why personal cell phones and laptops are no longer allowed at the Army’s National Training Center at Fort Irwin, CA. “It has adventure, surprises, and treachery. It starts, as the best stories often do, with a call from a 3-letter agency. ”

Women’s Work

Surviving perimenopause: ‘I was overwhelmed and full of rage. Why was I so badly prepared?’

Miriam Margolyes: ‘I Like Men – I Just Don’t Feel Groin Excitement’

Lesbian priests to lead church service on eve of Anglican summit “Service is intended to send strong message to once-a-decade Lambeth conference”

An “inclusive” eucharist at a church in Canterbury will be presided over by the Rt Rev Mary Glasspool, the assistant bishop in New York. The preacher will be the Rev Canon Mpho Tutu van Furth, a daughter of Desmond Tutu, the veteran South African anti-apartheid campaigner.

Bishops’ spouses have traditionally been guests at the Lambeth conference, but it was deemed “inappropriate” to invite same-sex spouses to this year’s event. Glasspool received a letter from Welby in December 2018 informing her of his decision “not to invite your spouse to the Lambeth conference, a decision that I am well aware will cause you pain, which I regret deeply.”

Women work for free for two months a year, says TUC analysis

Nine out of 10 people found to be biased against women “Analysis of 75 countries reveals ‘shocking’ scale of global women’s rights backlash”

Sexism Sank Elizabeth Warren “Warren was a brilliant candidate who would have made a great president. The problem? She’s a woman—and she isn’t ‘perfect.’”

Sexism played a role in the failure of all her arguments. Some people openly said that a woman couldn’t beat Donald 💩🔥💰. Other people made the same point, but more subtly. And most people did the usual, frustrating thing where they said a woman could win, “but not that woman.” She was called “shrill,” she was called a “school-marm,” she was called a “snake.” She got criticized for not hitting certain candidates “hard enough” and then got criticized for vaporizing other candidates down to the molecular level. And when she actually talked about the sexism she faced, and all women candidates face, the conversation became about what she could do to overcome it instead of about what everybody else needed to do to stop it.

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

Coronavirus: 💩🔥💰 hurls insults as 21 cases confirmed on cruise ship

Donald 💩🔥💰 used a freewheeling press conference on Friday, intended to provide updates on the coronavirus, as an opportunity to attack Democrats, praise his own intelligence, lash out at CNN and spread false and misleading information about the status of the outbreak, as a slew of new cases were confirmed aboard a cruise ship off the California coast.

Speaking at the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) main campus in Atlanta, Georgia, while wearing his red “Keep America Great” re-election campaign hat, the president went on a rant criticizing Washington state’s governor, Jay Inslee, as a “snake” and saying he disagreed with his vice-president’s complimentary remarks toward the Democrat. Inslee, who ran for president last year, is overseeing the response to the most serious outbreak in the US.

In a moment that some commentators have called one of the most “disturbing” and “frightening” remarks of 💩🔥💰’s response to the public health crisis, the president also said he would prefer that cruise ship passengers exposed to the virus be left aboard so that they don’t add to the number of total infections in the US.

We can’t trust Trump to handle the coronavirus crisisThe outbreak couldn’t come during a worse presidency. Even if Trump hadn’t gutted the federal government’s ability to respond to pandemics, and even if his administration wasn’t rabidly anti-science, it remains the case that our president is both a prolific liar and an egregious narcissist who betrays no understanding of or ability to act in pursuit of the public good. This means the public — which needs to trust what leaders say in moments like these — has little reason to believe what comes out of his mouth. In other words, Trump has an extreme credibility problem. That’s never a good thing, but it might be particularly dangerous during a public health emergency.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

Sanders Blasts Heckler Who Waved Nazi Flag At Rally: My Family Was ‘Wiped Out By Hitler’

Elsewhere for March 1, 2020

You should read this for 3/01/2020:

Art, Music, and Film

The adoration of Ghent: art, history and flavours in Flanders

Plundered, dismantled and stolen, it’s a miracle that the Ghent Altarpiece – also known as the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb – by brothers Hubert and Jan Van Eyck, has survived. Now a forensic, seven-year restoration of the 15th-century polyptych has revealed the brilliance of its original palette and details – tendrils of angelic hair, the gleam of a copper fountain – darkened over time.

See also: A Lamb in the Newly Restored Ghent Altarpiece Is Going Viral Because the Internet Thinks It Looks Like Zoolander.

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

Tamsyn Muir Interview: “There is a lot of blood on my dance floor.”

TAMSYN MUIR is the bestselling author of the Locked Tomb Trilogy, which begins with Gideon the Ninth, continues with Harrow the Ninth, and concludes with Alecto the Ninth.
Her short fiction has been nominated for the Nebula Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, the World Fantasy Award and the Eugie Foster Memorial Award.
Tamsyn talked with our editor Olivia Hofer about Gideon the Ninth, dark fanfiction, and writing a book for your seventeen-year-old self.

This is a good, honest interview, of a talented writer lesbian writer who has written an excellent albeit thorny novel. I’m looking forward to Tamsyn Muir’s next book.

Garbage Language Why do corporations speak the way they do? See also: George Orwell Politics and the English Language.

These self-published authors are actually making a living. Here’s how. Very short overviews of three unusually successful self-published writers.

There are millions of self-published titles going up on Amazon every year, but (crucially) the number of people writing those books that take home $50,000+ a year is still only measured in the thousands.

Basically, the odds of making enough from self-publishing to do it full-time are not high.

My mistress Melancholy “In The Anatomy of Melancholy, Robert Burton gave his life to charting a Renaissance disease both alluring and dangerous”

Beyond Mantel: the historical novels everyone must read

Corona Virus | COVID-19

2 New Coronavirus Cases Emerge In Washington, In King County And Snohomish County

The Snohomish County patient is a high school student from the Everett area, health officials said. The student did not have a history of traveling to any affected countries.
“It’s concerning that this individual did not travel, since this individual acquired it in the community,” Washington state health officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said at the evening news conference.
“We really believe now that the risk is increasing,” she said.

Take 20 seconds to properly wash your hands, says the Mayo Clinic

How to prepare for coronavirus in the U.S. (Spoiler: Not sick? No need to buy any masks.)

You’ve seen the guidance before: Wash your hands regularly, cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze, and when you’re sick, stay home from work or school and drink lots of fluids.
The CDC recommends washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after using the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose or sneezing. It also advises to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and to frequently clean objects and surfaces you touch often.

H/T Yasmine Via Scientific American: Preparing for Coronavirus to Strike the U.S.

On the other hand, for the elderly or for people who have other diseases or comorbidities, it’s very serious, with death rates reaching up to 15 percent. It’s also a great threat to health workers who handle people with the virus every day, with thousands of cases already. Overall, it appears to have a case fatality rate around 2 percent, which is certainly very serious: seasonal flu, a serious threat in and of itself, has a case fatality rate around 0.1 percent in the United States, so this coronavirus is about 20 times as deadly (though again, this number may get much better or worse depending on the kind of care we can provide).*

Staying home without needing deliveries means that not only are you less likely to get sick, thus freeing up hospitals for more vulnerable populations, it means that you are less likely to infect others (while you may be having a mild case, you can still infect an elderly person or someone with cancer or another significant illness) and you allow delivery personnel to help out others.

If you are in a position of authority, that means figuring out how to help people stay at home, by preparing for and allowing for remote work, or allowing for future work to make up for missed days and other similar plans. Households and others who employ part-time help can do this, too: continue paying the cleaners; it can be reconciled later: without pay, people will not be able to prepare and or stay home.

If you live in a regular household, here’s a handy, one-page guide on what you need, with up-to-date information on top, but it is essentially this: potable water (that’s a general just-in-case item for all emergencies), shelf-stable food (doesn’t need refrigeration, again just-in-case), your prescription medication and a few basic medical supplies (first aid/your usual over-the-counter meds). Depending on the composition of your household, things to keep you busy (books, board games, toys).

Via Be Prepared: One page Layperson’s Guide to the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19)

Food and Drink

How to cook the perfect pancake With tips and recipes, and some history (including a 1594 recipe, of sorts; you’ll need a scale to use the other recipes). Shrove Tuesday was Tuesday the 25th; better known as Mardi Gras.

Via Wine Enthusiast: 13 of our Top-Rated California Red Blends for $30 and Less

History and Archaeology

Tablet thought to have guarded tombs after Jesus’s death may not be what it seems

‘Astounding new finds’ suggest ancient empire may be hiding in plain sight

Science and Nature

The Number Of Birds In Maine And The Rest Of The Country Is Declining Rapidly

A new report in the journal Science indicates that the number of birds in North America has declined by several billion in the past 40 years. The findings, released Thursday, suggest that bird numbers are declining more rapidly than previously thought. And researchers are pointing a finger at habitat loss and climate change.


Alex Verman: Canada is fake
“What Americans think of as their friendly neighbor to the north, if they think of it at all, is a scam.”:

The lands in question are technically unceded, meaning that they lie fully outside of the jurisdiction of the Canadian state — this land was never officially incorporated into the Canadian state, and the people there never entered into formal treaties with Canadian colonists. In fact, as a 1997 Supreme Court case established, Indigenous land rights and title have never been extinguished in traditional Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan territory, meaning that the lands rightfully ought to be governed by Indigenous laws, which the courts recognized as far predating any colonial presence in the region. It is, literally, not Canada. Still, Canadian police forced their way onto and through the land, violating Wet’suwet’en sovereignty and the demands of their political leaders, simply to privatize resources for colonial use and abuse.

Bernie Sanders, Social Democracy, and Democratic Socialism

Classic democratic socialism calls for centralized public ownership of essential enterprises, or worker ownership, or mixed forms of public and worker ownership, either decentralized or not. But Sanders has never pushed for any of these things. The closest that he comes to classic democratic socialism is his plank calling for worker control of up to 45 percent of board seats and 20 percent of shares.


Smithsonian Releases 2.8 Million Images Into Public Domain

Women’s Work

Katherine Johnson: Hidden Figures Nasa mathematician dies at 101

H/T Yasmine: Liberation skirts: how post-war upcycling became a symbol of female solidarity

In the aftermath of World War 2, after the liberation of The Netherlands from German occupation in May 1945 and the festivities that followed, many Dutch women made special commemorative skirts, called ‘nationale feestrok’ or ‘bevrijdingsrok’ in Dutch – the latter translates as liberation skirts in English.

Where women rule: the last matriarchy in Europe – in pictures

Big Heart, Strong Hands is the story of women on the isolated Estonian islands of Kihnu and Manija in the Baltic Sea. Often viewed as the last matriarchal society in Europe, the older women there take care of almost everything on land as their husbands travel the seas

Hometown Hospitality With Senator Elizabeth Warren
and Stephen Colbert
Elizabeth Warren: Being herself: intelligent, charming, authentic, and funny.

Rebecca Solnit: ‘Younger feminists have shifted my understanding’

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

Yes, 💩🔥💰 fired the CDC Pandemic Response Team in 2018 to cut costs This is True Also true: Nearly 700 vacancies at CDC because of 💩🔥💰’s hiring freeze.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

Women can be protected from cervical cancer – so why aren’t we doing it? “Amid a global shortage of HPV vaccine, more must be done to steer supplies towards those most at risk: girls in poor countries”

Musicians Algorithmically Generate Every Possible Melody, Release Them to Public Domain

Two programmer-musicians wrote every possible MIDI melody in existence to a hard drive, copyrighted the whole thing, and then released it all to the public in an attempt to stop musicians from getting sued.

H/T Dan Frakes: What Happened to the Company That Raised Minimum Wage to $70k/yr?

Remember a few years ago when the owner of a credit card payment processing company based in Seattle raised the minimum wage of his employees to $70,000/yr while taking a huge pay-cut himself and capitalists the world over, afraid of their beloved & apparently suuuuper delicate system collapsing from such madness, flipped out? The BBC recently checked in with Gravity Payments and its owner Dan Price to see how things were going. Pretty damn well, as it turns out:

Elsewhere for February 23, 2010

You should read this for 2/23/2020:

Art, Music, and Film

Jenny Stevens for The Guardian inerviews James Taylor: ‘I was a bad influence on the Beatles’: James Taylor on Lennon, love and recovery

Fair Isle: The remote island where jumpers are always in fashion

Thirty years ago, “Yesterday’s Enterprise” came when morale was at a low point for the writing staff: “We were so backed up with shows, so it was just like putting out fires.”

While “Yesterday’s Enterprise” often ranks as an all-timer for both the franchise and science fiction in general, its development process was so convoluted and stressful that one of its co-writers, Ira Steven Behr (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The 4400), still can’t believe to this day how well-regarded the hour is. Or that they managed to pull it off. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” co-writers Behr and Ronald D. Moore recently gave The Hollywood Reporter an oral history of sorts behind one of the greatest (and hardest) episodes they’ve ever made — one that would ultimately end up saving the series.

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

Have a strong accent? Here’s how that hurts your paycheck

“At a very young age, I decided I was not gonna have a Southern accent,” Colbert said in a 2006 interview with 60 Minutes. “When I was a kid watching TV, if you wanted to use a shorthand that someone was stupid, you gave the character a Southern accent. And that’s not true. Southern people are not stupid. But I didn’t wanna seem stupid. I wanted to seem smart.”

The 100 Most-Spoken Languages in the World

Food and Drink

How to Make Perfect Lemon Curd in the Microwave

Is Brown Rice Really That Much Healthier Than White Rice?

At the end of the day, brown rice and white rice are at a stalemate. They each have very minor advantages over the other, but there’s nothing that stands out and says one is better than the other in regards to your health.

H/T Comfortable Shoes Studio: Smitten Kitchen’s Cannellini Aglio-e-Olio Canned Cannellini beans, olive oil, garlic, parsley, chopped artichoke hearts and crusty bread.

History and Archaeology

Mass grave shows how Black Death devastated the countryside

The Great Sphinx of Giza Through the Years

Gathered below are varied photographs of the Sphinx throughout the past 170 years, from Maxime du Camp’s image of a still-mostly-buried Sphinx, in 1849, to 21st century light shows, and much more.

Science and Nature

Shuteye and sleep hygiene: the truth about why you keep waking up at 3am

Scientists stuck cameras on 30 Antarctic whales and captured this wild footage


Michael Bloomberg dogged by more past controversial remarks

“I could teach anybody, even people in this room, no offense intended, to be a farmer,” Bloomberg said.
“It’s a process. You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn. You could learn that. Then we had 300 years of the industrial society. You put the piece of metal on the lathe, you turn the crank in the direction of the arrow and you can have a job.
“Now comes the information economy [which is] fundamentally different because it’s built around replacing people with technology and the skill sets that you have to learn are how to think and analyze, and that is a whole degree level different. You have to have a different skill set, you have to have a lot more gray matter.”

Yep; he went there. Farmers and factory workers don’t need smarts. Dude, seriously, people haven’t farmed like that since the Neolithic era. Medieval farmers were incredibly sophisticated though completely illiterate.

Coming out as Dalit: how one Indian author finally embraced her identity


The Russian Trolls’ Next Favorite Candidate

Americans are now the chief suppliers of the material that suspected Russia-linked accounts use to stoke anger ahead of U.S. elections, leaving Russia free to focus on pushing it as far as possible. Linvill has seen Russian trolls shift tactics to become “curators more than creators,” with the same goal of driving Americans apart. “The Russians love those videos,” he said, “because they function to make us more disgusted with one another.” He and a colleague have traced viral tweets about the Dallas incident to Russia-linked accounts that Twitter has since suspended.

Women’s Work

H/T MEC: The Legend Of Linda Perhacs, ‘A Most Unlikely Rock Star’

The breadwinners of Barishal: how women in Bangladesh are starting their own businesses

Women in this flood-hit area are supporting their families through small businesses backed by the British Red Cross. From tailoring to tea making, the success of these enterprises is inspiring other young women to follow suit

In a shot against Michael Bloomberg, Elizabeth Warren shows how easy it is to nullify an NDA

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

“A grave threat”: More than 1,100 ex-DOJ officials call on Bill Barr to resign

In a letter released on Medium today, more than 1,100 former employees of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) condemned attorney general Bill Barr for his handling of the case against Roger Stone, a longtime ally of Donald 💩🔥💰 who is accused of obstruction and lying under oath.
“Each of us strongly condemns President 💩🔥💰 and Attorney General Barr’s interference in the fair administration of justice,” the former officials wrote. “Those actions, and the damage they have done to the Department of Justice’s reputation for integrity and the rule of law, require Mr. Barr to resign.”

Roger Stone: ‘Disgusted’ judge jails 💩🔥 ally

Don’t mince words. 💩🔥💰 is abetting an attack on our country.

💩🔥💰 is angry because our intelligence officials followed the law and informed members of both parties about what the intel indicated about new Russian efforts. 💩🔥💰 “berated” his acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, for allowing this heresy.

Because whatever Russia’s real intentions toward 💩🔥💰, this is still an attack on our democracy. The Times reports that intelligence discerns numerous concrete threats: new efforts to spread disinformation to divide the country; and possibly efforts to interfere in state voting systems.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

America’s ‘recycled’ plastic waste is clogging landfills, survey finds

The research, conducted by Greenpeace and released on Tuesday, found that out of 367 recycling recovery facilities surveyed none could process coffee pods, fewer than 15% accepted plastic clamshells – such as those used to package fruit, salad or baked goods – and only a tiny percentage took plates, cups, bags and trays.

This jacket is actually a portable shelter for homeless people

Since Sheltersuit started in 2014, companies have been donating Timmer materials, like sleeping bags and tent fabrics that would have been thrown away because of production mistakes like a misplaced logo. Some companies reached out to Sheltersuit after seeing the organization in the media. The suit is made entirely out of these upcycled materials, from the belts that act as the backpack’s straps to the large hood that can block out glaring lights homeless people often have to contend with while sleeping on the street.

Elsewhere for February 16, 2020

You should read this for 2/16/2020:

Art and Film

Japanese Illustrated Books
The Met has digitized and made publicly available over 650 eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Japanese illustrated books from The Met’s Department of Asian Art. Almost four hundred of the books in the collection are from the Arthur and Charlotte Vershbow collection of Japanese illustrated books, purchased by the Met in 2003.

The Green Knight is a new 2020 film featuring the medieval tale known as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight from BL Cotton Nero A.x. This is the trailer, featuring Dev Patel.

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

Stationery As A Inexpensive Way To Relive Your Childhood And The Blackfeet Indian Pencil: My Favorite Pencil Of All-Time My father used Blackfeet Indian Pencils. I’m not sure where he bought them; possibly The Nature Company. But I remember both the wooden box, and the paper slide box. They were the first “natural” pencils I remember.

Via Kirk McElhearn: Binge Reading Lee Child’s Jack Reacher Novels
McElhearn has been re-reading the entire Jack Reacher series, and he makes some interesting observations, even if like me, you’ve never read any of the books or seen the movies. I’ve been working my way through C. J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series.

Via Open Culture: Discover the Disappearing Turkish Language That is Whistled, Not Spoken I knew about Chinese and South American whistle-languages; this Turkish whistled language is new to me.


H/T Lisa Carnell:United States Spends Ten Times More On Fossil Fuel Subsidies Than Education

Food and Drink

Rachel Roddy’s Recipe For Brutti Ma Buoni Hazelnut Biscuits

Brutti ma buoni, or “ugly but good”, is the name of this week’s recipe: hazelnut and egg white biscuits. Like many edible things, their origins are disputed; it seems likely that the biscuits originated in Prato, a city and commune in Tuscany where they are also known as mandorlati di San Clemente. Wherever they originated, brutti ma buoni have migrated all over Italy and are now found in pretty much every bakery next to the soft almond biscuits, the biscuits made with wine (to dip in wine) and wisp-thin cat’s tongues.

Roasted Beets with Balsamic Glaze

I find I am really missing oven-roasted beets, and beet greens.

The Messy Business of Tacos

Making tortillas by hand involves skilled labor, even with the assistance of mechanical nixtamal mills and folding presses. Moreover, tortillas, like donuts, are best eaten fresh, preferably within a few hours off the griddle. In Mexico, tortilla factories have been largely a cottage industry, conveniently located on any street corner, and operating sporadically throughout the day for customers who line up before breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This just-in-time business model, however, fit poorly in the postwar “Fordist” era of giant factories pursuing economies of scale.

Mexican Cookbook Collection

UTSA’s Mexican Cookbook Collection is comprised of more than 2,000 cookbooks, from 1789 to the present, with most books dating from 1940-2000. In addition to broad general coverage, the collection includes concentrations in the areas of regional cooking, healthy and vegetarian recipes, corporate advertising cookbooks, and manuscript recipe books.

A selection of the materials from this collection have been digitized and are available online, including manuscript cookbooks from the collection. These handwritten recipe books provide an intimate view of domestic life and Mexican culinary culture. Also available online is the extremely rare 1828 cookbook, Arte nuevo de cocina y repostería acomodado al uso mexicano, once owned by Diana Kennedy.

History and Archaeology

The 200-year-old diary that’s rewriting gay history

The diary challenges preconceptions about what “ordinary people” thought about homosexuality — showing there was a debate about whether someone really should be discriminated against for their sexuality.

America’s First Drag Queen Was Also America’s First LGBTQ Activist and a Former Slave

Science and Nature

“Not just a space potato”: Nasa unveils ‘astonishing’ details of most distant object ever visited


A Conservative Judge Draws a Line in the Sand With the Trump Administration

Roger Stone Case: Chief Justice Urged To Step In As 💩🔥💰’s ‘Abuse Of Power’ Condemned

Liu had overseen numerous cases stemming from the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation as well as that of the former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, who has long been assailed by Trump.
She reportedly resigned from the treasury department on Wednesday evening after her nomination as its under-secretary for terrorism and financial crimes, a Senate-confirmed position, was unceremoniously pulled by Trump in what appeared to be retaliation.


Via Open Culture: The e-Book Imagined in 1935

Women’s Work

Proposal to include tampons in Tennessee’s tax-free weekend faces pushback

Republicans reportedly pushed back on adding the hygiene products to the list during a Tuesday hearing, arguing that people who use the products could purchase too many if not given a limit.

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

Native burial sites blown up for US border wall “It’s part of the historic homeland of the O’odham. Apache are buried here. 💩🔥💰 waived the Native American Graves Protection Act to allow this.”

This is a revolting assault on the fragile rule of law

And then — and this is the part that is so disturbing — the prosecutors were ordered, either because of the president’s tweet or irrespective of it (and both scenarios are awful), to rescind their original recommendation and to ask the judge that Stone receive more lenient treatment at his sentencing. What the prosecutors were ordered to do was dangerous and unsettling and undermined everything they — and we — stood for as Justice Department professionals. They properly refused.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

California Takes Revenge on Trump

While trashing California with his gutter mouth, the president has used his office to physically trash the home to nearly one in eight Americans — seeking to make its air more polluted, its water less clean, its forests more vulnerable to catastrophic fires.
But now the Golden State is poised to strike back. By moving its presidential primary from June to March 3, California will finally exert a political influence commensurate to its size. Almost 500 delegates, a fourth of the number needed to win the Democratic nomination, are at stake.

Elsewhere for February 9, 2020

You should read this for 2/09/2020:

Art, Music, and Film

‘Deaf’ genius Beethoven was able to hear his final symphony after all

From 1818, [Beethoven] carried blank “conversation books”, in which friends and acquaintances jotted down comments, to which he would reply aloud. . . . “The conversation books are going to be a game-changer,” Albrecht said. Among the surviving examples – two in the composer’s birthplace, the Beethoven-Haus museum in Bonn, and 137 in Berlin State Library – he has so far found 23 direct references to the subject of hearing, and estimates that several dozen more will show “he could still hear something”.

Closer to Van Eyck

This web application provides information on the current restoration of the Ghent Altarpiece, and it allows you to study the polyptych yourself. You are granted intimate access to the world of Hubert and Jan van Eyck, and to that of the art restorers who have painstakingly revealed the earlier glory of these paintings, which had been hidden for many centuries.

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

Stephen King quits Facebook over false claims in political ads

‘No Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition or Mumbo Jumbo’: Dorothy L Sayers and the Detection Club

Food and Drink

Sazerac Cocktail

History and Archaeology

Archaeologists Put Stone Tools Through Modern Engineering Tests

Science and Nature

Wild grey seal caught ‘clapping’ on camera for the first time “The sound resembles ‘shotgun-like cracks’ and attracts potential mates”


Cherokee Nation to preserve culturally important seeds in Arctic vault “Varieties of corn, beans and squash seen as central to Cherokee identity will be deposited in Norway’s Svalbard seed bank”


Turns out that busted Iowa Caucuses app was also extremely hackable

Women’s Work

A new app to support female journalists facing harassment is looking for beta testers

Via The Guardian; a Rachel Maddow interview: Rachel Maddow on her critics: ‘Your hatred makes me stronger. Come on! Give me more!’

“Russia interfered in the 2016 election to try to elect Donald Trump, and Donald Trump got elected and he is weirdly and irreversibly supplicant toward Russia and Putin. Like, OK, I’m going to cover that,” she says. “I don’t care what anybody says about me. I don’t play requests and I don’t worry about the criticism. If we get something wrong, I’ll correct it, but, in the absence of that, the criticism for focusing on real news stories that bother people – that’s what I get paid to do.”

Outing A Person Rarely Brings Us Closer To Their Truth

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

Email release reveals chaos sowed by President Trump’s hurricane tweets

The picture that emerges from this trove of emails is one of civil servants and government employees at NOAA and the National Weather Service trying to do what was right in the midst of a political (and self-made) crisis at the top and a natural disaster (Dorian) pressuring them from without.

Photo Of Trump’s Shockingly Orange Face Launches A Thousand Memes

You’ll immediately notice that Trump’s face is glowing orange. I’m talking Big Tangerine Energy here. Definitely more bronzed than usual. Not only is his face clearly covered in tinted makeup or tanner of some sort, but there’s also clear line where the makeup ends. Trump’s hair is blown back a bit, and his pale scalp halo hovers above what looks like an orange mask.

Why Would a Billionaire Charge the Secret Service $650 a Night?

Why Would a Billionaire Charge the Secret Service $650 a Night?

the Trump Organization charged the Secret Service (in other words, the taxpayer) from $400 to $650 a night to stay at Mar-a-Lago while guarding the president. At another Trump property, his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, the Secret Service was billed $17,000 a month for a small cottage, even when the president wasn’t present. These are just snapshots. Despite heroic public-records work by the Post, there’s still no complete picture of just what the Trump Organization is charging the Secret Service.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

The-Best Ways To Use Your Old Silica Gel Packets

See something? SAY SOMETHING!

For Peat’s Sake: How To Protect Bogs

Peatlands are considered the most efficient carbon sinks on Earth. The plants that grow in them capture the carbon released by the peat, maintaining an equilibrium that we cannot afford to lose. Extracted and degraded peat bogs do the opposite: they release a lot of carbon dioxide. It goes without saying that we can’t afford to destroy them while the world burns.

Elsewhere for February 2, 2020

You should read this for 2/02/2020:

Art , Music, and Film

CBS makes Star Trek: Picard pilot free on YouTube for a limited time

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

In The Internet Era, Public Libraries Are More Vital Than Ever

“Compared to a company like Google that is monetizing your pursuit of information, everyone that you interact with at a public library has a similar ethics and value framework around privacy, equity of access to information, the free marketplace of ideas, and is willing to die on that hill,” Jeff Lambert, the assistant director of digital inclusion at the Queens Public Library, told me. “As these companies get larger and more ubiquitous, and as data becomes an increasingly commodified and valuable asset, there’s a lot of public education to do.”

H/T Perks: Dear Media: Try Again. American Dirt Isn’t Cultural Appropriation. That’s Not the Issue. This is.

The problem is that [American Dirt] is misappropriating a stereotype of Mexican immigrant (and, by conflated default, Latino American) “culture,” and that stereotype sucks giant donkey balls.

Smorgasbords Don’t Have Bottoms

A decade ago, few in the industry anticipated the comeback of indie bookstores. But the numbers are unambiguous: between 2009 and 2018, the number of indies in the US grew by nearly 40 percent. Ninety-nine stores opened in 2018, up from seventy-five in 2017. The indie model depends on expertise and endless hustle — as well as the active participation of consumers who have been galvanized by buy-local campaigns.

. . .

As digital audio attains complete domination over CDs, audiobook sales keep rising, reaching nearly $1 billion in 2018, the seventh year in a row of double-digit revenue growth. Helped along by our smartphone addiction, the podcast boom, and the unending American commute, audiobooks have become the industry’s most durably growing sector

. . .

In 2012, the Obama Justice Department sued both Apple and the publishers on antitrust grounds over conspiring to fix ebook prices. Though the US district court judge Denise Cote ruled in the government’s favor, the agency model eventually became standard anyway. Print did not go extinct, but ebook sales slowed down.

Rare Charlotte Brontë ‘little book’ to go on show at Haworth

A rare book the size of a matchbox written by the teenage Charlotte Brontë will go on public display for the first time after a museum paid €600,000 (£505,000) to bring it back to Britain.

This is one of six tiny, hand-made books created by the teen aged Charlotte Brontë. This particular book contains several short stories. All five of the surviving books are now at the Brontë Haworth museum.


Classical Music Has a ‘God Status’ Problem

But since the termination of Thomas and 10 other faculty members because of harassment, Berklee has instituted new measures aimed at preventing harassment and misconduct on campus. These include a policy prohibiting intimate relationships between students and anyone working at the school, and a policy of informing potential future employers of involuntarily terminated Berklee faculty members of the terms of their termination, should prospective employers ask for a reference.

. . .

Over the past year, The Atlantic talked to more than four dozen young musicians about their experiences with classical-music education and sexual misconduct. Their accounts reveal a culture built on hierarchy, critique, and reputation, and show how such a culture can facilitate abuse.

Food and Drink

Cornstarch Does Its Best Work When It’s Hot Recipes that call for cornstarch as a thickener routinely defeat me. This article on using cornstarch in cooking has some potentially helpful tips.

History and Archaeology

Ancient poop reveals what happened after the fall of Cahokia

Based on the amounts of coprostanol present in sediment layers dating to the centuries between the fall of Cahokia and the arrival of European colonists in the area, it turns out that indigenous groups moved back into the area around the abandoned city within a century or so after its collapse. That contradicts the popular idea that huge swaths of what is now the Midwest were basically empty when Europeans showed up.

Go read the article; the data suggests that flooding led to the city being emptied, and climate change affected the ability to grow corn. Eventually grasslands and bison arrived, with the indigenous population increasing.

Science and Nature

This beautiful, hypnotic video of the sun is in the highest resolution ever taken

Purell’s Unproven Disease-Fighting Claims Get Sanitized After Fda Warning

Among the questionable claims are that Purell sanitizer:

  • “kills more than 99.99% of most common germs that may cause illness in a healthcare setting, including MRSA [methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus] & VRE [vancomycin-resistant enterococci].”
  • “can reduce student absenteeism by up to 51%… Additionally, teachers who follow this program also experience a 10% reduction of absenteeism.”
  • “may be effective against viruses such as the Ebola virus, norovirus, and influenza.”

While alcohol-based sanitizers have been shown to effectively kill many germs, that finding is different from data indicating that sanitizer use reduces infections and the spread of disease.

Short version: Wash your hands. Wash your hands frequently.


The Sims at 20: two decades of life, love and reorganising the kitchen

The Sims is so enormously compelling because it offers the fantasy of control over life itself, including all the things that are so maddeningly unpredictable in the real world – relationships, careers, family, house renovations. The rules of The Sims essentially state that if you work hard and do everything you’re supposed to do – get a job, buy a house, progress through the ranks to earn more money and buy more stuff – happiness will follow. It’s a beguiling capitalist fantasy – and even if things aren’t going well, you can always type in the “motherlode” cheat code to shower yourself in riches.

YouTube reversed my bogus copyright strike after I threatened to write this


Should Your Antivirus Software Be Spying On You?

Back in August, Wladimir Palant, the creator behind Adblock Plus, wrote a blog post detailing how Avast Online Security and Avast Secure Browser were collecting and selling the browsing data of the Czech company’s 400 million users. In response, both Opera and Mozilla pulled Avast extensions from their respective add on markets, forcing Avast CEO Ondrej Vlcek to go on a PR tour last month to downplay the issue.

Vicek’s going to have another busy week. A joint investigation by both Motherboard and PC Magazine (you should read both) obtained documents highlighting how the company collects the browsing data of its 450 million active antivirus customers, then, with the help of a third party outfit named Jumpshot, sells access to that data to a laundry list of companies:

Update: After this article was written, Avast’s CEO came out with a statement stating that the company would be shutting down its data collection and sale efforts, and terminating its relationship with Jumpstart. Again, something that would have never happened if a journalist hadn’t discovered it

See also: Avast shutters data-selling subsidiary amid user outrage

New “Off-Facebook Activity” Portal Lets You Know Where You’re Being Followed “It’s helpful to know which businesses track you, but you can’t do much about it.”

How Myst’s designers stuffed an entire universe onto a single CD-ROM

Women’s Work

“She’s more qualified than you are for your job”: Seth Meyers blasts Pompeo over bizarre NPR tantrum

It seems Secretary of State Mike Pompeo really didn’t like the line of questioning in a recent interview with NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly. So, like any respectable public figure, he dodged the question, waited until the mics were off, and threw a little tantrum. This included Pompeo apparently expressing a belief that Americans “don’t care about Ukraine” — a belief Seth Meyers easily poked holes in on Tuesday’s episode of Late Night.

See also: After Contentious Interview, Pompeo Publicly Accuses NPR Journalist Of Lying To Him. Keep in mind that Mary Louise Kellly is a solid old-school veteran journalist, who has a particular emphasis on international security, is well published, the co-host of All Things Considered, educated at Harvard University (1993) with degrees in government, French language, and literature. Two years later, she completed a master’s degree in European studies at Cambridge University in England. She knows where the Ukraine is, even if Pompeo can’t find it with both hands.

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

Video appears to show Trump ordering Marie Yovanovitch’s removal

“Get rid of her!” Trump says on the tape, reportedly addressing a White House aide at the dining table.
“Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.”

Seth Meyers Brings Receipts On Trump’s History Of Bullying And Revenge After Impeachment Threats

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

How to fight racism using science

We all know someone who has casually racist opinions: the misattribution of elite athletic success to ancestry rather than training, that east Asian students are naturally better at maths; or that Jews are innately good with money. Racism may be back, so get tooled up, because science is no ally to racists. Here are some standard canards of prejudice, and why science says something different.

Planting 1 Trillion Trees Might Not Actually Be A Good Idea

The lead author of that study, however, cautions against pitting all tree planting efforts against forest conservation. “It’s not like these two things are in competition,” says Wayne Walker, a scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center. Maintaining existing forests should be a priority, but restoring trees to places where they’ve been lost can sometimes be the next best option, he says. Still, not all tree-planting initiatives are created equal. The location, species planted, and how people are involved can all jeopardize success.

Short answer: Protect the indigenous peoples and their forests in the Amazon and elsewhere, and plant appropriate trees in a thoughtful way.

Elsewhere for January 26, 2020

You should read this for 1/26/2020:

Art and Film

Via Open Culture: A Medical Student Creates Intricate Anatomical Embroideries of the Brain, Heart, Lungs & More

Methods both scientific and artistic are a source of fascination for Khan, who began taking needlework inspiration from anatomy as an undergrad studying biomedical sciences.

Open Culture: How to Draw Like an Architect: An Introduction in Six Videos

Trump unveils logo for Starfleet … er, Space Force … and Trekkers take to Twitter

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

Dedicated followers: collectors of book inscriptions share their notes

Food and Drink

How to cook the perfect mapo tofu, including a recipe

History and Archaeology

Selective Hearing “On the specious new history podcasts”

ABC News, Australia: Budj Bim Cultural Landscape fire reveals new sections of ancient aquatic system

The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape, which includes an elaborate series of stone-lined channels and pools set up by the Gunditjmara people to harvest eels, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List last year.
Some parts of the landscape, which also features evidence of stone dwellings, have been dated back 6,600 years — older than Egypt’s pyramids.

Ancient African skeletons hint at a “ghost lineage” of humans

Artifacts indicate that humans have occupied Shum Laka on and off for at least 30,000 years, and there are skeletons that date back thousands of years. The research team behind the new work tried to obtain DNA from 18 different skeletons and succeeded with four: a young child and an adolescent from a single grave 8,000 years old, and neighboring graves of two young boys from about 3,000 years ago.

Science and Nature

H/T Frances: Our Secret Delta “An epic story about power, beauty and how one of South Carolina’s last great places faces new threats”

Another Beautiful Image of Jupiter from Juno During a Flyby. Great Work by Gerald Eichstadt and Sean Doran


Artificial Personas and Public Discourse

We can hope that our ability to identify artificial personas keeps up with our ability to disguise them. If the arms race between deep fakes and deep-fake detectors is any guide, that’ll be hard as well. The technologies of obfuscation always seem one step ahead of the technologies of detection. And artificial personas will be designed to act exactly like real people.
In the end, any solutions have to be nontechnical. We have to recognize the limitations of online political conversation, and again prioritize face-to-face interactions. These are harder to automate, and we know the people we’re talking with are actual people. This would be a cultural shift away from the internet and text, stepping back from social media and comment threads. Today that seems like a completely unrealistic solution.


Chatbots Are a Danger to Democracy “We need to identify, disqualify and regulate chatbots before they destroy political speech.”

In the days following the disappearance of the columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Arabic-language social media erupted in support for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was widely rumored to have ordered his murder. On a single day in October, the phrase “we all have trust in Mohammed bin Salman” featured in 250,000 tweets. “We have to stand by our leader” was posted more than 60,000 times, along with 100,000 messages imploring Saudis to “Unfollow enemies of the nation.” In all likelihood, the majority of these messages were generated by chatbots.

Walt Mossberg from 2016: Mossberg: The iCloud loophole and Daring Fireball: Regarding Reuters’s Report That Apple Dropped Plan for Encrypting iCloud Backups See also Michael Tsai’s roundup: Apple Dropped Plans for End-to-End Encrypted iCloud Backups After FBI Objected

Report: Bezos’ phone uploaded GBs of personal data after getting Saudi prince’s WhatsApp message

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

Alexander Hamilton dispensed of Trump’s impeachment defense in 1788

Trump’s primary argument—issued in a response to the House impeachment trial brief and summons he received this weekend—is that the impeachment is bunk because the articles fail to allege a “violation of law or crime, let alone ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ as required by the Constitution.” The president also complains that he’s been deprived of due process, relying on the standards outlined for criminal trials.
The historical record, however, doesn’t support Trump’s position that the two processes must mirror each other in form or function. Some have even called comparisons between impeachment and criminal proceedings “bogus” and “bad-faith arguments.”

Trump’s Impeachment Brief Is a Howl of Rage

Read together, Cipollone’s October letter and this new document written with Sekulow set expectations for the president’s defense: barely contained, and barely coherent, rage—a middle finger stuck at the impeachment process, rather than any kind of organized effort to convince senators or the public that the president’s conviction would be unmerited, imprudent, or unjust.

. . .

But the president isn’t fundamentally making a legal case here. His arguments are that his phone call was “perfect,” that there’s a “deep state” conspiracy against him, and that impeachment is an effort to overturn an election. You don’t need good lawyers to make such silly arguments. You need lawyers who will yell untruths loudly, lawyers whose very presence will argue the us-against-them nature of the president’s defense.

Robert Reich: If Impeached By The House, Trump Is Literally Unpardonable | Opinion

If Trump is impeached by the House, he can never be pardoned for these crimes. He cannot pardon himself (it’s dubious that a president has this self-pardoning power in any event), and he cannot be pardoned by a future president.
Even if a subsequent president wanted to pardon Trump in the interest of, say, domestic tranquility, she could not.

Elsewhere for January 19, 2020

You should read this for 1/19/2020:

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

Hear Christopher Tolkien (RIP) Read the Work of His Father J.R.R. Tolkien, Which He Tirelessly Worked to Preserve


How College Became a Commodity “Market-based thinking is at the heart of how academe thinks of itself. That’s a travesty.

H/T: YamineTwo States. Eight Textbooks. Two American Stories.

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

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

Food and Drink

Easy Homemade Hummus

Homemade hummus only takes 5 minutes, and it’s so much better than store-bought. All you need are a few cans of chickpeas, some tahini, olive oil, some seasonings, and a food processor.

History and Archaeology

From Ancient Scotland to Online Auctions: A Tale of Roman Nails

Science and Nature

Forgotten trove of fossil feathers belonged to tiny polar dinosaurs

Young sea eagle takes up residence among Oxfordshire’s red kites


Every Mac wallpaper from Cheetah to Catalina, combined into a single image It’s really lovely, and you can download it.

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

How ‘Lock Her Up!’ just blew up

And now an investigation authorized by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to look into potential wrongdoing by Clinton has turned up a total of zero wrongdoing of any sort by either Hillary or Bill Clinton — or anyone associated with the Clinton Foundation.
Now, contrast that with another multi-year probe originating in the Justice Department: Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. That inquiry led to 199 criminal counts against 37 people and entities. Seven people pleaded guilty; six were sentenced to prison. And Mueller concluded that not only had Russia engaged in a deep and broad effort to influence the election to help Trump and hurt Clinton but also that Trump himself had engaged in a series of behaviors during the investigation that could have been construed as obstructive.

Trump ‘abused’ and ‘harassed’ Kirstjen Nielsen over border, new book reveals

when the then secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, warned the president that shutting down the border would be illegal, the then attorney general, Jeff Sessions, approved the radical measure – despite it being against the law.

‘Muslim’ Is Not an Insult

In response to the tweet, the White House press secretary told Fox News that the president was “making it clear that Democrats are … almost taking the side of terrorists and those who were out to kill the Americans.” But if the president simply wanted to link Democrats to Iran’s supreme leader, he could have tweeted any number of images that did not include them wearing attire worn by millions of Muslims around the world, none of whom has anything to do with ayatollahs or terrorism.

Trump impeachment: Democrats announce new evidence ahead of vote

Mr Parnas was given updates on the ambassador’s location and mobile phone use by a man named Robert F. Hyde. Mr Hyde is a Republican Congressional candidate in Connecticut and Trump campaign donor.
“She’s talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is off,” one message reads. “They will let me know when she’s on the move,” another says.
Ms Yovanovitch has called for an investigation into the messages. “The notion that American citizens and others were monitoring [her] movements… is disturbing,” her lawyer said.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

Microsoft will be carbon negative by 2030

By 2030 Microsoft will be carbon negative, and by 2050 Microsoft will remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975.