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 May 11, 2019

You should read this for 5/11/2019:

Art and Film

Exhibition to Examine Balthazar, a Black African King in Medieval and Renaissance European Art

Early medieval written legends report that one of the three kings who paid homage to the Christ Child in Bethlehem was from Africa. But it would take nearly 1,000 years for European artists to begin representing Balthazar, the youngest of the three kings, as a black man. Why? The explanation can be found through a closer look at the history of this period—specifically, in the rise of the African slave trade in mid-1400s.

Books, Writing, and Language

Why You Should Start Binge-Reading Right Now


In L.A. Unified elementary schools, library books could be off-limits to many students

In the recent past, some libraries have been locked up despite the district having spent millions on new books. Typically, elementary school libraries are open only every other week as it is, and aides split their time between two schools.

E. O. Wilson Interview: A Legendary Scientist Sounds Off on the Trouble With STEM

The right way to create a young scientist who’s going to be on fire by the time they’re in college is to let them pick something, some subject, that has really excited them. If they dream of space exploration, if they dream of curing a cancer, if they dream of going to distant jungles and discovering new species — whatever their dream is, let them dream.

History and Archaeology

Southend burial site ‘UK’s answer to Tutankhamun’

Science and Nature

Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace

Global warming has become a major driver of wildlife decline, the assessment found, by shifting or shrinking the local climates that many mammals, birds, insects, fish and plants evolved to survive in. When combined with the other ways humans are damaging the environment, climate change is now pushing a growing number of species, such as the Bengal tiger, closer to extinction.

“It’s no longer enough to focus just on environmental policy,” said Sandra M. Díaz, a lead author of the study and an ecologist at the National University of Córdoba in Argentina. “We need to build biodiversity considerations into trade and infrastructure decisions, the way that health or human rights are built into every aspect of social and economic decision-making.”


Trans-inclusive Design

Late one night a few years ago, a panicked professor emailed me: “My transgender student’s legal name is showing on our online discussion board. How can I keep him from being outed to his classmates?” Short story: we couldn’t. The professor created an offline workaround with the student. Years later this problem persists not just in campus systems, but in many systems we use every day.

Women’s Work

H/T Roseanne: Vibrator at center of tech sexism controversy gets its award back

“Men’s sexuality is allowed to be explicit with a literal sex robot in the shape of an unrealistically proportioned woman and VR [virtual reality] porn in point of pride along the aisle. Female sexuality, on the other hand, is heavily muted if not outright banned,” she said.

Protesting with her Feet: The World’s Fastest Middle-Distance Woman versus Sports Governing Bodies

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

Decade in the Red: Trump Tax Figures Show Over $1 Billion in Business Losses

But in the granular detail of tax results, it gives a precise accounting of the president’s financial failures and of the constantly shifting focus that would characterize his decades in business. In contrast to his father’s stable and profitable empire of rental apartments in Brooklyn and Queens, Mr. Trump’s primary sources of income changed year after year, from big stock earnings, to a single year of more than $67.1 million in salary, to a mysterious $52.9 million windfall in interest income. But always, those gains were overwhelmed by losses on his casinos and other projects.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

Like this site? Buy me a coffeeQ

Elsewhere for May 5, 2019

You should read this for 5/5/2019:

Art and Film

Star Trek’s Ira Steven Behr Looks Back on the Complex Legacy of Deep Space Nine

I was very, very, very disappointed at the time of the bad responses to Deep Space Nine. I really was shocked, it took me by surprise. I thought science fiction fandom was much more brave and bold, and willing to accept the challenge. And then I realized they just want to do the same old thing. And then with season three of The Next Generation, it was the same thing. The year I was there, you know, they were still bitching that Picard wasn’t Kirk and, you know—“where’s Spock? Where’s McCoy?” It was only after that they became the crown jewel of the franchise, So, I don’t pay that any mind. But Section 31 is very near and dear to my heart, let’s just put it that way.

Books, Writing, and Language

I’m really impressed by the response of YA writer Amélie Wen Zhao and her publisher Delacorte about Zhao’s decision to postpone publication of her novel Blood Heir, revise it, and then publish it. For the back story see this Slate piece: An Author Canceled Her Own YA Novel Over Accusations of Racism. But Is It Really Anti-Black?. Note, by the way, that the criticisms directed towards the novel were based on an ARC, a galley, and many of them posted out of context. Not having read either version, yet, I’m glad to see this Controversial YA Novel Pulled by Author to Be Published This Fall.

Food and Drink

Deconstructing Australia’s Most Instagrammed Dessert

The top was a bright cobble of cut strawberries, pistachios and dried rose petals. The cake itself was a slice of watermelon — raw, ripe watermelon — sandwiched between soft almond dacquoise the color of wet sand and whipped cream flavored with rose water.

History and Archaeology

Via Science: Ancient DNA reveals two lost lineages of horses—but not their elusive origins

But even though the new work does not show where domesticated horses came from, it does reveal the existence of two new horse lineages: an ancient equine that roamed what is now Portugal and Spain some 4000 years ago, and another that lived in Siberia in Russia around the same time. Since then, both lineages have gone extinct, and there are no traces of them left in modern horse DNA, the team reports today in Cell. Those results could tank an earlier theory suggesting domesticated horses arose in the Iberian Peninsula, Orlando says.
The study also reveals that a lot of the attributes of modern horses appeared much more recently. For example, there are “major genetic turnovers,” Orlando says, after the Arabs expanded into Europe in the seventh century. At that time, Arabian stallions outproduced males from other breeds, leading to their Y chromosome being present in all modern horses today. “It was really cool to see when that loss of male diversity happened,” says Molly McCue, a geneticist at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul who was not involved in the study.

And see also: New Study Tracks Domesticated Horses Over Time

Science and Nature

Why nightingales are snubbing Berkeley Square for the Tiergarten

Luscinia megarhynchos, the common nightingale, has been shunning the UK since the 1960s, during which time the population has slumped by 90%. The number of birds in Berlin, however, is on the rise. According to cautious estimates by the city senate, the German capital’s nightingale population grew by 6% every year from 2006 to 2016: “a very high rate”, said Johannes Schwarz, a species conservation officer, who puts the current number of nesting pairs at between 1,300 and 1,700.

H/T Bronwen: Climate change damage to Queensland’s world heritage rainforest ‘as bad as Great Barrier Reef’

The wet tropics world heritage area in north Queensland has been damaged by climate change in a manner “equivalent” to coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, the area’s management authority has said.
In an extraordinary statement issued on Monday, the authority’s board said the tropical rainforest was in “accelerating decline” and that some of the area’s unique species were at imminent risk of extinction.
Last summer was the hottest on record.
“Extreme heat is the wet tropics world heritage area’s coral-bleaching event equivalent, with some mountain-adapted species, like the lemuroid ringtail possum, unable to survive even a day of temperatures above 29C,” the statement said.


Brent Simmons: Freedom

With every tightened screw we have less power than we had. And doing the things — unsanctioned, unplanned-for, often unwieldy and even unwise — that computers are so wonderful for becomes ever-harder.

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

Trump Shut Programs to Counter Violent Extremism

Set aside the question of whether President Donald Trump’s rhetorical flirtations with white nationalism enabled Saturday’s mass shooting in Pittsburgh. What’s undeniable is that his administration has hobbled the infrastructure designed to prevent such murders.

The US posted a $234 billion budget deficit last month, the biggest one-month deficit in history

James Comey: How Trump Co-opts Leaders Like Bill Barr

It starts with your sitting silent while he lies, both in public and private, making you complicit by your silence. In meetings with him, his assertions about what “everyone thinks” and what is “obviously true” wash over you, unchallenged, as they did at our private dinner on Jan. 27, 2017, because he’s the president and he rarely stops talking. As a result, Mr. Trump pulls all of those present into a silent circle of assent.

This is An Insanely Big Deal

It’s a given that this stuff is all sleazy, Giuliani making millions trading on his role as the President’s close advisor and personal lawyer. As long as it’s just sleaze and buck-raking it doesn’t matter that much to me. We’ve got much bigger things to worry about. But this effort to get the government of Ukraine to whip up investigations into Biden is clear evidence that it’s not just that. It is almost certainly just the tip of the iceberg.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

How one woman beat mining giants and saved rare snow leopards

Elsewhere for April 27,2019

You should read this for 4/8/2018:

Art and Film

Emilio Estevez Uses Some Public Domain Footage In Film, So Universal Studios Forces Original Public Domain Footage Offline

Once again, this is why expecting automated filters to work is a real problem — and it’s doubly obnoxious that companies like Universal Pictures (and the MPAA that represents it) have been among the leading voices calling for more internet filters and things like “notice and staydown” which would effectively be used to block even more such content. Hopefully, Universal/YouTube restore Sauer’s video soon, but it’s just another example of how copyright is frequently used to take down perfectly legitimate speech.

How Queer Is Star Trek?

Books, Writing, and Language

Via Open Culture: Hear J.R.R. Tolkien Read from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit in Vintage Recordings from the Early 1950s

In the clips here, you can listen to Tolkien himself read from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, including a recording at the top of him reading one of the fantasy languages he invented, then created an entire world around, the Elvish tongue Quenya in the poem “Namarie.” Some of these YouTube clips have received their own cinematic treatment, in a YouTube sort of way, like the video below with a montage of Tolkien-inspired media and a dramatic score. This may or may not be to your liking, but the origin story of the recording deserves a mention.

The British Library Exhibition Writing: Making Your Mark Scroll down for the online supplements.


Now You See Me, Now You Don’t

Everyone deserves to be seen.
Everyone deserves to be a main character.
Let’s save the shadows for the cowards.
They know who they are.

Food and Drink

The Instant Pot was made to cook Indian butter chicken

History and Archaeology

A Dart in a Boy’s Eye May Have Unleashed This Legendary Massacre 350 Years Ago

About 60,000 well-preserved artifacts tell what life was like at Agaligmiut before the massacre. The artifacts include dolls, figurines, wooden dance masks and grass baskets.

Science and Nature

Listen up: We’ve detected our first marsquake


Physicians Get Addicted Too “Lou Ortenzio was a trusted West Virginia doctor who got his patients—and himself—hooked on opioids. Now he’s trying to rescue his community from an epidemic he helped start.”

Via The Guardian; an interview: My life as JT LeRoy: Savannah Knoop on playing the great literary hoaxer

China’s hi-tech war on its Muslim minority “Smartphones and the internet gave the Uighurs a sense of their own identity – but now the Chinese state is using technology to strip them of it.”

China’s version of the “war on terror” depends less on drones and strikes by elite military units than facial recognition software and machine learning algorithms. Its targets are not foreigners but domestic minority populations who appear to threaten the Chinese Communist party’s authoritarian rule. In Xinjiang, the web of surveillance reaches from cameras on buildings, to the chips inside mobile devices, to Uighurs’ very physiognomy. Face scanners and biometric checkpoints track their movements almost everywhere.


Twitter shuts down 5,000 pro-Trump bots retweeting anti-Mueller report invective “Bots were tied to account formerly used for pro-Saudi messaging.”

Twitter has suspended over 5,000 accounts tied to a network amplifying a message denouncing the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as a “RussiaGate hoax.” According to a researcher, the accounts—most of which had only posted three or four times in the past—were connected to other accounts previously used to post pro-Saudi messages.

Why Won’t Twitter Treat White Supremacy Like ISIS? Because It Would Mean Banning Some Republican Politicians Too.


There have always been people who want to make themselves feel better by making others feel worse, to boost their egos and online footprints by driving people away. Disproportionately, their targets have been women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community. For many—for me—”trolls” have always been terrifying.

Women’s Work

Google employees reveal the hidden costs of speaking out ,<blockquote”Retaliation isn’t always obvious,” Whittaker and Stapleton wrote. “It’s often confusing and drawn out, consisting of icy conversations, gaslighting, project cancellations, transition rejections, or demotions. Behavior that tells someone the problem isn’t that they stood up to the company, it’s that they’re not good enough and don’t belong.”

The Black Feminists Who Saw the Alt-Right Threat Coming “Before Gamergate, before the 2016 election, they launched a campaign against Twitter trolls masquerading as women of color. If only more people had paid attention.”

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

14 Mueller Report Takeaways You Might Have Missed

He remains puzzled, he writes, about the sheer volume of seemingly unnecessary lies that emanated from Trump world, and notes that his investigation was stymied by lying witnesses, deleted evidence, and the sheer complexity of investigating shadowy entities and people beyond the reach of US law enforcement. As Mueller phrased it, “While this report embodies factual and legal determinations that the Office believes to be accurate and complete to the greatest extent possible, given these identified gaps, the Office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on (or cast in a new light) the events described in the report.”

When Michael Cohen testified before Congress this winter, he made clear how much Donald Trump operated his family business like a mob boss: speaking in code, refusing to have written agreements, prizing loyalty. Mueller’s report is littered with examples that read more like the behavior of a Mafioso than a commander-in-chief, from pushing FBI director James Comey for “loyalty,” to chastising White House counsel Don McGahn for writing down notes, to sending private messages through intermediaries asking for continued silence, to making public attacks on those, like Cohen, who “flipped.” Just because it’s familiar behavior from Trump by now doesn’t make it any less troubling.

‘No women anything’: Trump Fed pick Stephen Moore’s list of misogynistic remarks Economic commentator and former Trump campaign adviser Stephen Moore has a long history of making offensive comments about women

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

How a River Was Granted Personhood

Then, in 2017, something unprecedented happened. The New Zealand government granted the Whanganui River legal personhood—a status that is in keeping with the Maori worldview that the river is a living entity. The legislation, which has yet to be codified into domestic law, refers to the river as an “indivisible, living whole,” conferring it “all the rights, powers, duties, and liabilities” of an individual.

@Dan_Fogelman Anyone want a quick personal story about George R. Martin/#GameofThrones?

Massive restoration of world’s forests would cancel out a decade of CO2 emissions, analysis suggests

Elsewhere for April 20, 2019

You should read this for 4/20/2019:

Art and Film

1840 – Notre Dame avant restauration

Notre Dame Cathredral before the 19th century restoration. And before the 2019 fire.

Books, Writing, and Language

Today a customer mentioned that she could get a new hardcover book online for $15.

Our mission is not to shame anyone for their shopping practices, but we do feel a responsibility to educate about what it means when a new hardcover is available for $15 online.

Food and Drink

Via NPR: Saving The Story Of Grits, A Dish Born Of Poverty Now On Fine-Dining Menus Erin Byers Murray has just published a book Grits: A Cultural and Culinary Journey Through The South.
“For grits, every major pivot point in the story line involves appropriation,” writes Murray in her book. “It started with the fateful naming of the bowl of cracked maize.” It’s said that British colonists arriving in Virginia were presented by Indigenous people with steaming bowls of this maize, a dish that the colonists began referring to as “grist,” which later morphed into “grits.”

See also NPR’s From Hooch To Haute Cuisine: A Nearly Extinct Bootlegger’s Corn Gets A Second Shot

History and Archaeology

Romans brought rabbits to Britain, experts discover

Who brought the first rabbit to Britain? Not, it would seem, the Normans, who were previously thought to have introduced the animal to England in the 11th century.
Instead, re-examination of a bone found at a Roman palace more than half a century ago has shown that it belonged to a rabbit that may have been kept as a pet by the villa’s owners – making it Britain’s first bunny.

Science and Nature

Wake up, people: You’re fooling yourself about sleep, study says

Discovery! 3rd Planet Found in Two-Star ‘Tatooine’ Star System


Former Navy rear admiral: Ilhan Omar has a point


How to delete your Facebook account so the social network stops tracking your data

Second-Gen Apple Pencil Could Prevent You from Unlocking Your Car

Women’s Work

Via @tkingdot Tracy King: If anyone ever wonders how so many women in STEM are written out of history, you can see it live and in action

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

Via NPR: Highlights From The Mueller Report, Annotated

Meet The People In Trump’s Orbit Who The Mueller Report Says Ignored His Orders

. . . the threshold for charging the president might have been breached, had staffers not resisted his directives to engage in actions that would have impeded the investigation.

Via Forbes: The Barr Cover-Up: Call It What It Is

He’s spent weeks now completing the broadest possible universe of redactions, removing both grand-jury-related material as well as the especially unclear vague references to “peripheral third parties.”  The more latitude he has to redact, the more latitude he has to protect the president. The less the public will know what’s in the full report.
This is all part of a consistent pattern designed to minimize the release of damaging information. One would hope that the highest law enforcement officer in the land would be more of an honest broker than a spin doctor, but clearly in these hyper-partisan times that’s too much to hope for.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

Drunk on smoke: Notre Dame’s bees survive cathedral blaze

Elsewhere for April 13, 2019

You should read this for 4/13/2019:

Art and Film

Horse Race Announcer Sues Over Bill Murray Film That Included His Trademarked Tagline

People’s confusion as to what trademark law protects and doesn’t protect is a source of neverending frustration for those of us who simply cannot stand the growth of ownership culture. There is this pervasive and growing sense by those who aren’t particularly well informed that trademark law simply allows one to own a word or phrase to the exclusion of every other person’s use. That, obviously, is not the case and it’s always worth reiterating over and over again that the point of trademark law is to prevent the public from being misled as to the source of a good or service. And, yet, that baseline fact eludes far too many people.

Books, Writing, and Language

Vonda N. McIntyre, 70, Champion of Women in Science Fiction, Dies . See also Feminism, astronauts, and riding sidesaddle: Talking to Dreamsnake’s Vonda McIntyre

One thing I want to emphasize is that people like Kate Wilhelm, and Ursula Le Guin, and Joanna Russ, and Andre Norton, and Anne McCaffrey, and Marion Zimmer Bradley kicked down doors in their generation that people in my generation got to walk through. I don’t think I would have existed as the writer I am now if it weren’t for those writers. What they did was amazing, because when they were kicking down those doors, those doors were a lot stronger and a lot thicker.

McIntyre, along with Tiptree/Sheldon, Butler, Cherryh, and a host of other women writing SF & F had a profound effect on me as a kid in rural N.H. in the 1970s and early 1980s. I wrote Vonda McIntyre as a teen looking for more SF and F by women. She was one of the handful of writers who wrote back, and did something profoundly wonderful: She gave me reading suggestions. I’ll always regret never being able to thank her in person. I’m so glad McIntyre was able to finish her novel Curve of the World. I hope I get to read it.

Via NPR: ‘Losing Earth’ Explores How Oil Industry Played Politics With The Planet’s Fate

In his new book, Losing Earth, Rich writes that in the late 1980s, the American Petroleum Institute began paying scientists to write op-eds questioning climate science. He describes the effort as a campaign to “sow propaganda [and] disinformation, to buy off politicians and scientists, and, ultimately, to convert an entire political party to denialism.”

Via Jennifer Anne on Twitter: So here’s the thing–I am worried that publishing is killing libraries, and that will, in turn, kill publishing.

Here are cold, hard numbers:
Penguin Random House usually charges $55/ copy of an ebook, and they need to be repurchased every 24 months.
Simon and Schuster usually charges list price, and they need to be repurchased every 12 months

Liz Fosslien via The New York Times: The Author’s Journey “A graphic look at the life cycle of writing a book.”

H/T SFWA: Ursula LeGuin interviewed by John Wray: Paris Review Fall 2013.

Jo Walton’s Reading List: March 2019 As Walton herself says:

I read a whole bunch of things, and a whole bunch of kinds of things, fiction and non-fiction, genre and non-genre, letters, poetry, a mix.

I’m really really excited by Walton’s new column; I’m a Jo Walton fan, but anyone who loves books will like this monthly feature.


Louis E. Metzger IV in Medium: Duke University’s Homme Hellinga Scandal: The Untold Story of How Students Risked their Careers to Fight a Cover-Up

This is a perceptive piece in the context of university politics and deliberate coverup, ““Move along, there’s nothing to see here” was the university’s apparent position. With so much of Hellinga’s grant money on the line, it was not in Duke’s interest to look closely at the professor’s potential culpability” but also, in the darker aspects of graduate study:

Duke’s Biochemistry students were uncommonly collegial, perhaps because many of the faculty did not inspire confidence. Whether it was the professor who frequently kept graduate students for a decade, or the one who routinely had doctoral students quit several years into their thesis projects without completing their degrees, the place was not exactly filled with role models.

Food and Drink

Via Simply Recipes: Ham and Asparagus Quiche

History and Archaeology

Avebury’s Stone Circles May Have Honored Neolithic Dwelling See also: The Square Inside Avebury’s Circles

Science and Nature

Our coast isn’t disappearing or vanishing; it’s being violently destroyed

. . . the term “lost coast” is equally off target. It’s like saying we misplaced a treasured item, or it was taken by an act of God.
None of those gentle things caused 2,000 square miles of marsh, swamp and uplands to become open water since the 1930s.
They were destroyed. By us.

Curiosity Rover Spots a Pair of Solar Eclipses on Mars

Earth’s glaciers lost 9 trillion tons of ice. That’s the weight of 27 billion 747s.

That’s how much ice Earth’s glaciers lost in the 55 years between 1961 and 2016. An international team of scientists used satellite and direct field observations to conclude that Earth’s glaciers have melted such a profound sum of ice in the last half-century. They published their report Monday in the journal Nature.


The New Science of How to Argue—Constructively


Study: average American spends 5.4 hours a day on their smartphone

See the full study.

Everyone hates my big stupid horse in Red Dead Online “He is my friend.”

Via Jeff Carlson, a piece for The Seattle Times on How to be smart about applying Apple updates Carlson offers some sensible “upgrade advice to help prevent problems where possible, and tips on what to do if they occur.”

Russia Is Tricking GPS to Protect Putin “The Kremlin’s manipulation of global navigation systems is more extensive than previously understood.”

Researchers at a Washington-based think tank have noticed that a funny thing happens whenever Russian President Vladimir Putin gets close to a harbor: The GPS of the ships moored there go haywire, placing them many miles away on the runways of nearby airports.
According to a new report by security experts with the group C4ADS, the phenomenon suggests that Putin travels with a mobile GPS spoofing device and, more broadly, that Russia is manipulating global navigation systems on a scale far greater than previously understood.

Well-funded surveillance operation infected both iOS and Android devices

Exodus, as the malware for Android phones has been dubbed, was under development for at least five years. It was spread in apps disguised as service applications from Italian mobile operators. Exodus was hidden inside apps available on phishing websites and nearly 25 apps available in Google Play. In a report published two weeks ago, researchers at Security without Borders said Exodus infected phones estimated to be in the “several hundreds if not a thousand or more.”

Women’s Work

Celebrating women in tech: Meet Sue Khim co-founder and CEO of “A huge number of women have successful careers in STEM-related industries. The more you know about them, the more you understand that it’s not rare — it’s normal.”

Katie Bouman: The woman behind the first black hole image

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

Retiring as a Judge, Trump’s Sister Ends Court Inquiry Into Her Role in Tax Dodges

President Trump’s older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, has retired as a federal appellate judge, ending an investigation into whether she violated judicial conduct rules by participating in fraudulent tax schemes with her siblings.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

The Head of Lettuce “Bowdoin College student Trevor Kenkel and his greenhouses full of fish are disrupting Maine’s agricultural landscape”

Compared to conventional farms, Springworks Farm uses about nine million fewer gallons of water to annually produce one million heads of lettuce.

The Girl on the Train

I met a girl on the train last night.

I was on my way home after work. It’s about 10pm, and the subway is pulling up to my stop. I’ve been stressed about my own stuff for days now and I’m in my little bubble and just as I stand up the girl across from me starts talking.

Elsewhere for April 7, 2019

You should read this for 4/7/2019:


Are the Humanities History?

Last year, the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, facing declining enrollments, announced it was eliminating degrees in History, French, and German. The University of Southern Maine no longer offers degrees in either American and New England Studies or Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, while the University of Montana has discontinued majors and minors in its Global Humanities and Religions program. Between 2013 and 2016, US colleges cut 651 foreign-language programs.

And this:

An obvious remedy would be to place more stress on good writing; courses on how to write for the informed laity should be central to all humanities instruction. But the humanities need a more thorough overhaul, drawing on the tools developed by the tech world to capture and convey the complex, tortured, confounding, and inspiring story of human cultures and civilization. The vogue-ish term “digital humanities” usually refers to the use of computing to archive and analyze texts and records, but practitioners could apply digital technologies to create works that appeal beyond the ivory tower. For instance, the podcast Irish History—currently the most popular digital audio show in Ireland—offers a two-hour “Dublin Famine Tour” that uses multimedia effects to recreate what the city was like in 1845.

History and Archaeology

Via History News Network: Ronald L. Feinman on The Red Scare: From the Palmer Raids to Joseph McCarthy to Donald Trump

During his nearly five years of power from February 1950 to December 1954, McCarthy was aided by a zealous young man not all that different in character or motivation from J. Edgar Hoover three decades earlier.  McCarthy’s chief aide was attorney Roy Cohn, who zealously attacked innocent people who were accused of being Communists (Reds), or soft on Communism (Pinkos). Many believed he lacked any sense of ethics or honor and he was much feared.  Even after McCarthy fell from favor and then died in 1957, Cohn’s prominence continued and spent his remaining career as an attorney who often chose to represent reprehensible elements of society, including Organized Crime. He was also known for his wild social life.
Then, Roy Cohn met a young real estate entrepreneur named Donald Trump. The two men became close friends and Cohn impressed upon Trump how to exploit and play “hard ball” to gain ever more wealth and public influence.  As others have argued, Cohn was one of the most influential people in the development of Trump’s public persona and political views.  

Science and Nature

H/T Yasmine: California’s ‘Superbloom’ of Wildflowers Looks Spectacular from Space!

H/T: Wirecutter At 71, She’s Never Felt Pain or Anxiety. Now Scientists Know Why.

“Scientists are also intrigued by Ms. Cameron’s extraordinarily low anxiety level. On an anxiety disorder questionnaire, she scored zero out of 21. She cannot recall ever having felt depressed or scared.”


Your Speech, Their Rules: Meet the People Who Guard the Internet

As a joke, I say I’m an internet janitor. I just clean up the shit. My real answer is, “I work for this website. And most people use it for good, but the people who don’t use it for good, I kick them off the website.” And it’s that simple. The people who do bad things, I kick them off.

Report Finds More Than 47,000 ‘Structurally Deficient’ Bridges In The U.S.

According to a new report from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, more than 47,000 bridges in the U.S. are in poor condition and in need of urgent repairs. The organization, which analyzes data from the Federal Highway Administration and releases an annual report on bridges, estimates it will take more than 80 years to fix all of the nation’s deficient bridges.


Courtesy of Wirecutter: Lessons From the Asus Hack: How to Keep Your Computer Safe

Kira Swisher in the New York Times: I’m a Tech Addict and I’m Not Ashamed

Glenn Fleishman via TidBITS: Fed Up with Facebook? Move Your Family to Slack

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

Norway to Return Easter Island Artifacts

Brad Simpson: I’m a historian of genocide and mass violence.

Let’s be clear. Trump talks like a Nazi, like Rwandan genocidaires, like the Indonesian military folks who killed 500,000 civilians in six months in 1965. This is the pre-language of genocide, the dehumanizing of future victims.

Elsewhere for March 30, 2019

You should read this for 4/8/2018:

Art and Film

H/T Bronwen: In bloom: the art of drawing and painting Australian plants – in pictures

Big tobacco: top US arts institutions under fire for accepting donations “Smithsonian and other leading museums continue taking tobacco donations even as others reject funds from big pharma”

Books, Writing, and Language

An Alternate Ending for F+W Media F + W Media, the owner of Writer’s Digest and a number of other “niche” magazines and Web sites has declared bankruptcy.


This Is How You Kill a Profession “How did we decide that professors don’t deserve job security or a decent salary?”

College faculty were not defeated after great struggle, after a battle with a winner and a loser. College has simply been redefined, over and over, in ways that make faculty irrelevant. College teaching, as a profession, is being eliminated one small, undetected, definitional drop at a time.

Food and Drink

H/T Yasmine: How L.A.’s Early Italian Pioneers Transformed the City’s Food Scene

History and Archaeology

H/T Bronwen: The seasons and flavours of Indigenous baking

As award-winning writer Bruce Pascoe explains in his book Dark Emu and across other writing, the discovery of those grinding stones in western New South Wales dating back around 30,000 years and the 25-year-old grinding stone from in the Notrhern Territory, suggest that Indigenous Australians were likely the world’s first bakers.

Science and Nature

Texas is having its biggest bluebonnet bloom in a decade


The wayfaring founder of an agrarian lit mag is calling Down East Maine home — and reimagining the area’s rural economy.

Myke Cole on The Poisonous Cult of the Military Hero

Been thinking a lot about Trump’s attacks on McCain, and on the universal outcry about slandering a “hero.”

It made me reflect on how poisonous and destructive that term is.

So, I wrote about it

H/T Metafilter: All About Pete

Pete Buttigieg is not the shining star he might appear:

By leveling fees and fines, the city leaned on homeowners to make repairs or have their houses demolished. In many cases, Buttigieg said, the homeowners proved impossible to find amid a string of active and inactive investment companies. In other cases, he said, they were unwilling or unable to make repairs.


Your AirPods Will Die Soon

A lot of barely chargeable AirPods and wireless mice and Bluetooth speakers are ending up in the trash as consumers go through products—even expensive ones—faster than ever.

Women’s Work

She Was Betrayed by a Gentleman’s Handshake

The history of invention is littered with men who took credit for women’s ideas. Take Monopoly, for example: As the story goes, an unemployed man named Charles Darrow invented the beloved American board game in the 1930s, sold it, and became a millionaire. All of that happened, except the part where he invented the game.

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

Via NPR: What You Need To Know About The Russia Investigations: The Dossier

Generally speaking, the wide aperture afforded by a counterintelligence investigation might be key to understanding some of the biggest lingering mysteries of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russians in 2016—mysteries that, if solved, could explain the president’s continued deference toward Russian President Vladimir Putin and skepticism about his conduct on the part of the U.S. intelligence community.

For example, was the fact that Trump pursued a multimillion-dollar real-estate deal in Moscow during the election—and failed to disclose the deal to the public—enough for the Russians to compromise him? Why did the administration attempt to lift the sanctions on Russia early on in Trump’s tenure, even after it had been revealed that Russia had attacked the 2016 election? And what about the internal campaign polling data that Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, gave to the suspected Russian agent Konstantin Kilimnik in August 2016—an episode that, according to one of the top prosecutors on Mueller’s team, went “very much to the heart of what the special counsel’s office is investigating”?

The Critical Part of Mueller’s Report That Barr Didn’t Mention “The special counsel’s most interesting findings about Trump and Russia might be in his report’s narrative description of key relationships.”

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

HT Yasmine: L.A. River’s Invasive Weeds Find An Artistic Purpose

Elsewhere for March 23, 2019

You should read this for 3/23/2019:

Art and Film

Russell Shorto writing for the New York Times Magazine: Rembrandt in the Blood: An Obsessive Aristocrat, Rediscovered Paintings and an Art-World Feud

Why is the Mona Lisa not the Mona Lisa?

One of the great riddles of modern times is why a 500-year portrait of a Florentine housewife, of no rank or title, is today the most famous painting in the world. But the mystery around that portrait has now deepened. New findings suggest that Leonardo da Vinci’s most celebrated work may not depict M(ad)onna Lisa, wife of the silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo, at all.

Books, Writing, and Language

Translator of Homer Emily R. C. Wilson on Twitter: So that you can all feel my pain, here are a few more reasons why it’s more or less impossible to translate Homer into English in a satisfactory way.

Letterlocking: The Long-Lost Art Of Using Paper-Folding To Foil Snoops

“Letterlocking” is a term coined by MIT Libraries conservator Jana Dambrogio after she discovered a trove of letters while spelunking in the conservation lab of the Vatican Secret Archives; the letters had been ingeniously folded and sealed so that they couldn’t be opened and re-closed without revealing that they had been read. Some even contained “booby traps” to catch the unwary.

Food and Drink

Via Simply Recipes: Slow Cooker Guinness Beef Stew This freezes really well.

History and Archaeology

H/T Lisa C: L.D. Burnett on Getting the Right History vs. Getting the History Right

H/T PNH: Myke Cole on How the Far Right Perverts Ancient History—And Why It Matters

Hanson’s wildly successful 1989 book on ancient infantry combat, The Western Way of War: Infantry Battle in Classical Greece, advanced the breathtakingly bigoted and utterly false notion that manly, honest, close-combat is the Western legacy of battle, and that perfidy, trickery, and ruse is the Eastern legacy, and that therefore the Western way has rightly come to dominate.

. . .

The right wing’s distortion of the West’s fighting roots in the ancient world – roots that were by any measure polyglot, diverse and multicultural, resonate to the point of vibration with conservative movements that by definition lift up the past.

Science and Nature

H/T Mac: Woman Sets Up Tiny Photo Booth to Capture Birds Eating in Her Backyard There are a lot of fairly large images of birds, so the page may be a little slow to load.

NASA issues space herpes warning as virus reactivates in astronauts “The stress on the body of spaceflight is believed to contribute to suppressing the immune system and helping the virus to grow.”

There are eight known herpes virus, including the strain for chickenpox, which once contracted will stay within their hosts’ nerve cells for their entire life.
They are mostly kept suppressed by the immune system, but if the immune system itself is suppressed by space exploration, then they could pose a significant risks to astronauts travelling to Mars or beyond.


When Not Reading The Fine Print Can Cost Your Soul

‘Everything Just Came Flooding Back’: Sparks Of Teen Romance Rekindled 28 Years Later

In the summer of 1981 in Louisiana, Liz Barnez, then, 16 and Lori Daigle, then 17, shared a secret kiss.

Blame wood-burning stoves for winter air pollution and health threats

The Most Alarming Argument in Jill Lepore’s These Truths


Via A Book Apart Authors Answer: What Are Your Top Tips For Working Remotely?

H/T O’Reilly — Benedict Evans: Microsoft, Facebook, Trust And Privacy

There are strong parallels between organised abuse of Facebook and FB’s attempts to respond, in the last 24 months, and malware on Windows and Office and Microsoft’s attempts to respond, 20 years ago.

After the porn ban, Tumblr users have ditched the platform as promised Tumblr has lost 30 percent of web traffic since December

Women’s Work

Military Doctors Told Them It Was Just “Female Problems.” Weeks Later, They Were In The Hospital.

Your New Bicycle: Beto, childcare, and the cool

Via NPR: After Years Of Abuse By Priests, #NunsToo Are Speaking Out

“The Vatican is a world of men; some truly are men of God,” says Sister Catherine Aubin, a French Dominican nun who teaches at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome. “Others have been ruined by power. The key to these secrets and silence is … abuse of power. They climb up a career staircase toward evil.”

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

In 1958, a synagogue was bombed. An editor’s response won a Pulitzer — and his words ring eerily true today

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

H/T PNH: Charlotte Sometimes on Twitter about book day and community and making things better for kids: Ok. I have a really long story about World Book Day. Indulge me or mute me, I am a bit emotional this morning….

Cork Statue Pays Tribute To Choctaw Tribe’s Generosity During The Irish Famine


A pint of Guinness in Temple Bar, Dublin

Image Credit: Stinglehammer

Guinness was the first stout I ever had, before I even knew what stout was. I’ve loved Guinness from the very first sip in Boston. Guinness is known for its dark color in contrast to the lighter foam, but Guinness is not really as dark as you might think. Guinness is really a dark amber, closer to red than black. While Guinness is not, technically, a meal in a glass, it does seem like it ought to be; Guinness is very filling.

Guinness is also very firmly fixed in the minds of Americans with Irish ancestry as one of the quintessential Irish totems. Although Guinness was originally Arthur Guinness’ brewery, first in Leixlip, Ireland, then, in 1759, he moved to Dublin, and the St. James’s Gate Brewery, it is now longer Irish-owned. Guinness is now one of the many breweries and distillers owned by Diageo PLC. One of Diageo’s greatest assets is the St. James Gate Brewery—Arthur Guinness, way back in 1759, had the exceedingly good sense to sign a 900 year lease for the property. 

Guinness is International

Since 2005 all Guinness sold in the UK and Ireland is brewed at St. James’s Gate Brewery, Dublin—but that’s just one of many breweries all over the world, on several different continents, including North America (since 2000), and Africa. While Guinness is more popular than ever in the U.S., it has declined in favor in the beer’s native Ireland. I should mention that the Diageo corporation also owns Harp lager, which is second only to Guinness in terms of associations in the U. S. with Irish beer. 

The Guinness you drink in the U.S. is not the Guinness you drink elsewhere; there are several different varieties, presumably designed to suit national beer preferences. The bottled Guinness is Guinness Extra Stout, while the others are simply Guinness. The Extra Stout is brewed with more roast barley and isn’t quite as mellow as Guinness, and, when compared in a clear glass, is a bit more reddish in color. In Nigeria, where barley is not allowed as an import, the Guinness is made with sorghum. 

Draught Guinness in the U.S. is 4.2% abv. Bottled Guinness in the U.S. is an “Extra Stout” and 6% abv. You will notice that cans and bottles of Guinness in the U.S. often have a little plastic widget in them. That’s an attempt, and a fairly successful one, to implement the effect of the nitrogen fueled kegs. It means that when the Guinness is opened, beer and nitrogen, trapped in the widget, are forced out through the rest of the beer as you pour it into a glass (yes, of course, you drink Guinness from a glass!) producint the striking creamy head that’s expected from Guinness.

The Black-and-Tan

It’s a very common thing to order a “Black-and-Tan.” In the U.S., at some bars, this is regarded as a request for half Bass Pale ale, and half Guinness. I’m here to tell you that is heresy. Or at least not standard in Ireland, where typically a “Black-and-Tan” is Harp lager and Guinness. In some cases, you’ll hear this identified as a “All Guinness Black-and-Tan,” since the same brewery makes Harp lager and Guinness. That said, Bass Ale and Guinness is not a bad thing at all, but it is more properly identified as half-and-half. 

Now that you know the Right and Proper Way to have a Black-and-Tan, you need to know about Guinness and good chocolate. Guinness and chocolate are absolutely fabulous together; mind now, it needs to be a very good 70% or so cacao dark chocolate. I heartily endorse Guinness and really good chocolate ice cream, and Guinness and really good chocolate brownies; particularly brownies made with Guinness. Do use at least Ghirardelli or similar quality chocolate for this; you really will be pleased. There’s nothing wrong with buying a bar of the right sort of chocolate, and chopping it into bits for easier melting.

Guinness on Draft: The Proper Pull

Now then—and this is where we enter personal preferences—Guinness is best on draft. It just is. If you can’t get Guinness on draft, then look for the Guinness Extra Stout in the bottle. If you are drinking draft Guinness, then note that there’s a special technique to pulling Guinness. The barkeep will fill the glass, most of the way, but not completely, then set it aside. This is to let it “settle.” it is as vital a step for draft Guinness as breathing is for red wine. A moment or so later, the barkeep will finish the pull, leaving you with the rich creamy head that Guinness is known for, in stark contrast to the dark beer below. This is because Guinness on draft, like a few others (Murphy’s Irish, and Boddingtons, for instance) is kegged with and carbonated with nitrogen; that means smaller bubbles, and that means that the beer cascades (more like a waterfall than a fountain—the bubbles sink, rather than rise) when it’s poured into a glass. If after your first swig—neither a sip nor a gulp—you do not notice a ring, then something has gone terribly terribly wrong. Note that when you have drunk the first two thirds of your Guinness, you are expected to order the second; Guinness only travels in pairs.

Elsewhere for March 9, 2019

You should read this for 3/9/2019:

Art, Film and Music

Amanda Palmer has a new album coming out and NPR is streaming it for free!

Books, Writing, and Language

Los Angeles Times Wants Rights to Books Written by Staff

One of the nation’s leading newspapers is attempting an unprecedented rights grab, according to its writers. In the midst of contract negotiations with its newsroom staff, the Los Angeles Times, purchased last year by biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, has proposed that its journalists, as a condition of employment, cede control of any books or other creative works made outside of their daily journalistic duties.

Via Ryan Starkey: Every Native British and Irish Language

See also A Brief History of British and Irish Languages


Broken Trust: Texas’ huge school endowment pays out less and less for schoolchildren

The Permanent School Fund has failed to match the performance of peer endowments, missing out on as much as $12 billion in growth and amassing a risky asset allocation, a yearlong Houston Chronicle investigation reveals.

Food and Drink

H/T Scott: Why Washington State’s Wine Scene Has Become So Experimental

Ten Years of Open That Bottle Night

In 2009, a group of people with a love of wine and connections to the University of Puget Sound decided to celebrate Open That Bottle Night. Our wines on that February evening included a sparkling wine and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington State, a classic Bordeaux, a Chateauneuf du Pape, a California port-style wine, and a Sauternes. The only “rule” of our gathering was that each participant had to bring a story with his or her wine.

Via Elise Bauer on Simply Recipes: Spicy Vegetarian Chili

History and Archaeology

3,400-year-old human remains at schools’ site

The findings included cremation urns, and in one place small pieces of human bone.
The urns were decorated with finger-tip or fingernail impressions.
The human bone was radiocarbon dated as being 1374 – 1125 BC, up to 3,400 years-old.

First Nations clam gardens at least 3,500 years old, B.C. study finds

First Nations built and maintained shellfish gardens on Quadra Island beginning at least 3,500 years ago, according to a newly published study.
The age and sophistication of this technology for shellfish cultivation is evidence of Indigenous management systems that long predate contact with Europeans, said Simon Fraser University archeologist Dana Lepofsky, a co-author.

Science and Nature

WWF’s Secret War: One Of The World’s Biggest Charities Funds Guards Who Have Tortured And Killed People

A second person may be “cured” of HIV A new study tells the story of a man who had HIV, and now doesn’t, after a stem-cell transplant.

H/T Mac: Mysterious new orca species likely identified

These orcas, referred to as type D killer whales, were previously known from amateur photographs, fishermen’s descriptions, and one mass stranding—but never encountered in their natural state by cetacean experts. Unlike the other known types of orcas, they have a more rounded head, a pointier and narrower dorsal fin, and a very small white eye patch. They’re also several feet shorter in length, Pitman says. (See exclusive underwater video of type D orcas.)


Why Facebook Still Seems to Spy on You


BBEdit 12.6 to Return to the Mac App Store

BBEdit being able to return to the Mac App Store is great news for customers (modulo bugs) and for Bare Bones, but I’m not sure what it means for the store in general. Although there has finally been some progress, this feels like Apple giving up. They can’t or don’t want to really fix the sandbox to work well with pro apps, but they do want them to be in the store, so they’ll just let them ask for blanket permissions. BBEdit gets to be in the store, and Apple gets to say that everything (except Xcode) is sandboxed, even though it’s kind of security theater.

The president just called the CEO of Apple ‘Tim Apple’ “His name is Tim Cook and he’s sitting right there”

See also this and this from Scott Knaster and “Tim Apple” is funny until it isn’t

Women’s Work

The Disturbing True Story Behind the Iconic ‘Afghan Girl’ Photo

What Historians Are Tweeting: The Women Historians Who Inspire on International Women’s Day

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

Everyone Is In Love With This Professor Who Stepped In When His Student Couldn’t Find a Babysitter

H/T: Eating with Dignity: A Conversation with Food Forward

Food Forward organizes gleaning activities — called “picks” or “harvests” — on private properties (including homes and commercial farms), in public spaces and at farmers and wholesale markets to “recover” produce. What they collect is donated to “direct-service agencies” that feed the hungry.

Creek Indians donate $180,000 to cover funeral costs for 23 Alabama tornado victims

In Alabama, authorities confirm that The Poarch Band of Creek Indians donated $180,000 to cover all costs for funeral services and interment for the 23 people killed in Sunday’s tornado in Lee County.