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 November 18, 2017

You should read this for 11/18/2017:

Art and Film

“Comfort Woman” Memorial Statues, A Thorn In Japan’s Side, Now Sit On Korean Busses

15,000-Year-Old Rock Art Found In Egypt “Adel Kelani described the discovery as important because it dates to the same period of markings founds in caves in southern France, Spain and Italy, which confirms the idea that art and civilisation during that time spread from Africa to Europe and not vice versa.”

A Guide to Fantasy and Science Fiction Made for Black People, by Black People

Books, Writing, and Language

The real reasons so many young people can’t write well today — by an English teacher

Scurrilous manuscript that could have undone John Donne discoveredOstensibly a library catalogue in Latin, this early parodic work relies on disreputable jokes about contemporary figures—in Latin.

On Academic Precarity We have an exploitive academic environment in which grad students, adjuncts and lecturers are exploited, in which students have no choice but to go into debt to finance their education, and then, are exploited again as adjunct labor.

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein via The Atlantic: The Odyssey and the Other “What the epic can teach about encounters with strangers abroad and at home.”

In historic move, Christopher Tolkien resigns as director of Tolkien Estate This change is in large part what lies behind Amazon’s success at licensing Tolkien materials for a television series; Christopher was a true scholar, not only of his father’s work, but of Medieval literature, and that sensibility informed much of his editorial decisions, as well as his genuine care with his father’s literary vision. I hope the 93 year-old Christopher is able to enjoy his respite.

Food and Drink

The Forgotten, Fascinating Saga Of Crisco People keep telling me Crisco is lard; it is not it is, like lard, a form of shortening, as is butter. But lard is made from animal fat; Crisco is made from vegetable oil.

Sweet & Sour Roasted Brussels Sprouts “A dash of sweet white wine and some simple spices already in your pantry form a Brussels sprouts glaze that pairs perfectly with a classic roasted chicken.”

Pear Bundt Cake “Cardamom, clove, nutmeg and cinnamon add warm spice to this pear bundt cake.” This recipe is from a wine site, and I think it would pear well with wine, but it also looks like a great holiday brunch or savory-sweet dessert play too.


She Warned of ‘Peer-to-Peer Misinformation.’ Congress Listened. “How a small group of self-made experts came to advise Congress on disinformation campaigns is a testament to just how long tech companies have failed to find a solution to the problem. For years, the informal group — about a dozen or so people — have meticulously logged data and published reports on how easy it was to manipulate social media platforms.”

History and Archaeology

Found: Never-Developed Photos of Mount St. Helens Erupting “Photographer Kati Dimoff found the film at a Portland Goodwill.”


The Fungus That Turns Ants Into Zombies Is More Diabolical Than We Realized This is one of those things I really wish I could share with Alice Sheldon | James Tiptree Jr. She would have been all over it.

The Channeled Scablands of Eastern Washington State. I haven’t seen these—yet, but I’ve got plans. See also this video about the Channeled scablands narrated by Sir Patrick Stewart

First visitor from beyond our solar system has an origin “They realized it wasn’t a comet at all, since it lacks a comet’s trademark fuzzy bubble surrounding its core. That meant it must actually be an asteroid, a hunk of space rock from a distant solar system.” It’s probably from somewhere near the Carina and Columbia constellations, and started our way about 40 million years ago.

Prehistoric, Dinosaur-Era Shark With Insane Teeth Found Swimming Off Coast Of Portugal

Aboriginal people spread native plants by hand, new study finds

No Excuses, People: Get the New Shingles Vaccine I’m less sure about the new two-shot Shingles vaccine (Shingrix) than the article author is; I’d like to see more data in particular about people who have already had shingles and / or the previous Shingles vaccine. The CDC panel that voted on whether to endorse the new vaccine was not unanimous.


“The fact that a great many men I have spoken to genuinely seem to think that the main issue here is how and whether they’re going to be able to get laid in the future is… I’m going to swallow a scream, and say that it’s “interesting.”

Keystone Pipeline leaks 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota This is exactly what protestors and experts predicted would happen. Keep in mind that Federal and other U.S. authorities sprayed protestors with water in freezing temperatures, and caused one woman to lose an arm.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

Australia votes YES to Marriage Equality Good on ya!

Women’s Work

Victorian Marine Biologist Margaret Gatty’s Stunning Drawings of Seaweed

Elsewhere for November 11, 2017

You should read this for 11/11/2017:

For 98 years, Americans have remembered those who served our country in uniform on 11 November – first as Armistice Day, and then, since 1954 as Veterans Day.  

Art and Film

Watch an Oil Painting Instantly Lose 200 Years of Grimy Varnish “Fine art is often coated with varnish for the same reason furniture is: it provides a protective barrier to the elements. But varnish turns yellow over time, and an even less attractive color after a few centuries—which is why art restoration experts need to strip old varnish off and reapply it when a painting becomes unsightly.”

Photoshop Experts Hello Kitty-fy Masculine Superheroes With Sparkly Pink Costumes

Found: A Dead Bug in a Van Gogh Painting 

Books, Writing, and Language

“Unbury the Future”: Martha Wells’ Full Speech from the 2017 World Fantasy Awards

Food and Drink

To Get Calcium, Navajos Burn Juniper Branches To Eat The Ash

History and Archaeology

Found: A Rare Carved Stone That Could Rewrite Art History “A miniature masterpiece from the Greek tomb of the “Griffin Warrior.”

A part of Hadrian’s Wall has been found in Newcastle city centre


Killing the medical expense deduction will hit the middle class — and hard “For them it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime tax break, but a provision that enables them to survive financially year after year. It wouldn’t give them more flexibility to use their paychecks, but would wipe out much of their income.”

Resignation syndrome: Sweden’s mystery illness

Maine Governor Paul LePage Refuses to Implement Medicaid Expansion After Ballot Measure Wins

LePage, who is term-limited out of office next year, previously vetoed five Medicaid expansion bills passed by the state’s legislature. Frustrated by inaction, Maineiacs gathered the required signatures to put the referendum on Tuesday’s ballot.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

Send a girl to school in Afghanistan, Congo or Lebanon for a year for a donation of $59.00. A great gift for someone who’s hard to shop for, from

Science and Technology

Why This Fungus Has Over 20,000 Sexes

Where we have two traditionally recognized genders, male and female, some species of fungi can have thousands of sexes. It sounds confusing, but it’s actually helpful — with so many variations, the fungi can mate with nearly every individual of their species they meet.

Women’s Work

Jane Goodall, Redux

Goodall was a young, photogenic woman with a refined English accent, which she used to full effect in the voiceovers of her documentaries. Perhaps those factors coupled with her having no Ph.D or even a college degree meant her primate discoveries would not be taken seriously by many scientists.

But though she lacked scientific training, she was still making important discoveries.

Continue reading

Elsewhere for November 4, 2017

Art and Film

The Très Riches Heures calendar page for November.

Books, Writing, and Language

Friday November 6 was Fountain Pen Day.

Food and Drink

Via Martha Stewart Sweet Potato Biscuits

History and Archaeology

Roman Theater Discovery Near Jerusalem’s Western Wall Delights Archaeologists “Jerusalem was always inhabited and there were always different cultures and nations that lived here,” Lieberman said. “It’s very hard to find the remains from the different periods. You usually find a foundation here, a wall there. But to find something standing completely whole doesn’t happen so much in Jerusalem, especially not from the late Roman period.”

Here’s Colonel Ty Seidule, Professor of History at West Point, talking about the Confederacy the way John Kelly should have. Via Jack Runyan (@JackDRunyan) November 1, 2017

Some Pacific Islanders Have DNA Not Linked To Any Known Human Ancestor ““We’re missing a population, or we’re misunderstanding something about the relationships,” researcher Ryan Bohlender told Science News. “Human history is a lot more complicated than we thought it was.”

Love Tokens From The Thames “The magical potential of throwing a coin into the water has been recognised by different cultures in different times with all kinds of meanings. Yet since we can never ask those who threw these tokens why they did it, we can only surmise that engraving your beloved’s name upon a coin and throwing it into the water was a gesture to attract good fortune. It was a wish.”


Iceland Bans American Televangelists

Tim Cook says the tech giants have something much greater to be concerned about than the fact that Russian agents exploited social media to sway the American publid.

“I don’t believe that the big issue are ads from foreign government. I believe that’s like .1 percent of the issue,” Cook told NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt in an exclusive interview airing Wednesday night. “The bigger issue is that some of these tools are used to divide people, to manipulate people, to get fake news to people in broad numbers, and so, to influence their thinking,” Cook said. “And this, to me, is the No. 1 through 10 issue.”

How Facebook made money dividing the US into adversarial political subgroups

Via Day 2 of the Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing: This Is A Very Big Deal”: Feinstein Lights Into Big Tech Over Russian Meddling “Feinstein made it clear that, going forward, Big Tech should expect to operate under a microscope. “We are not going to go away, gentlemen,” she said. “And this is a very big deal. I went home last night with profound disappointment. I asked specific questions, I got vague answers. And that just won’t do. You have a huge problem on your hands. And the U.S. is going to be the first of the countries to bring it to your attention, and other countries are going to follow, I’m sure, because you bear this responsibility. You created these platforms, and they are being misused. And you have to be the ones to do something about it—or we will.”

Via the AP: Inside story: How Russians Hacked the Democrats’ Emails Source claims “Confidential” was added to at least one non-confidential email, other emails came not from the DNC, but from Podesta’s Inbox. And yes, the methodology was phishing.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

Helen Macdonald on the Wonderful, Optimistic World of Hawks “When Helen Macdonald’s father died suddenly, she turned to an unusual form of grief-management for solace: training a goshawk.”

Shire Sharing “Shire Sharing is a collaborative effort among New Hampshire activists to address community needs through voluntary action and direct charity. We raise funds, collect goods, coordinate deliveries and connect with our community. We are a non-profit, comprised of volunteers only; that means that all of your donations go directly to helping families in need.” Their current goal is feeding 600 families for Thanksgiving.

Science and Technology

Trump administration releases report finding ‘no convincing alternative explanation’ for climate change “The Trump administration released a dire scientific report Friday calling human activity the dominant driver of global warming, a conclusion at odds with White House decisions to withdraw from a key international climate accord, champion fossil fuels and reverse Obama-era climate policies.”

Thriving Garden in Sealed Bottle Hasn’t Been Watered in Over 40 Years

Scientists Unearth Near-Complete Marine Reptile Fossil in India “Palaeontologists have unearthed the remains of an ichthyosaur, a prehistoric creature more frequently seen in North America and Europe.”

Meet Burrito: The Extremely Rare Male Tortoiseshell Kitten

Does Your Cat Love You? 7 Signs to Look For

Women’s Work

What to do about strong-willed female employees

Continue reading

Elsewhere for October 28, 2017

You should read this for 10/28/2017:

Art and Film

Internet “Entrepreneur” Shocked That Copyright Owner Sued Him For Stealing Their Work Isn’t it interesting that plagiarists and copyright abusers are always shocked and surprised?

A Long Time Ago: Martha Wells on How Star Wars Inspired Her Writing See also this nifty piece by SF writer Elizabeth Bonesteel: A Long Time Ago: Elizabeth Bonesteel on Seeing Star Wars in Theaters/p>

Namatjira matriarch dies shortly after return of copyright to family “Under the terms of the 1957 agreement, 87.5 per cent of Namatjira’s interest in his copyright — the Namatjira inheritance, if you will — was assigned to Legend Press, for which Namatjira was paid £10.” If you’re not familiar with Albert Namatjira’s work, you really need to check it out.

Let Us Gather Round and Cry About The Ghost and Mrs. Muir  This is the original 1947 film; it’s charming.

Rare ghostly image of Mary Queen of Scots discovered hidden beneath artwork
“A previously unknown rare portrait of Mary Queen of Scots, as she would have looked as she languished in captivity in England some four and a half centuries ago, has been discovered underneath a later painting of a Scottish nobleman.”

Books, Writing, and Language

The State Of Sexual Harassment In The Library

Noel Malcolm  reviews Black Tudors by Miranda Kaufmann “A transformative history – in Tudor times there were Africans living and working in Britain, and they were free”

Kirkus Reviews and the Plight of the “Problematic” Book Review “In altering a recent review of the young-adult novel “American Heart,” Kirkus somehow managed to misunderstand both the nature of reviewing and the nature of books.” I can understand the desire to add a codicil, but not the way they did this, and not given this reviewer. Offer an additional POV, or even a new review.

Cambridge academics seek to ‘decolonise’ English syllabus ““It is also not just about adding texts but about rethinking the whole question of Britishness, Englishness and what they mean in relation to the empire and the post-imperial world, questions of race, gender, sexuality and so on. There’s also a sense that the curriculum should have an expansive sense of ‘Britain’ and English literature itself.” I am all for expanding the curricula. However, Chaucer, Shakespeare in particular are crucial in terms of understanding the evolution of English as a language; cut people like Thoreau, or Smollett or Richardson or Dryden; not Chaucer and not Shakespeare. Use them to highlight the issues, not bury them.

‘I Was Blind And Complicit And Just, Like, Did Nothing’: New Republic Staffers Speak Out

Food and Drink

Michigan lawmaker wants to charge Nestlé $20M a year for water extraction

Wines Are No Longer Free to Travel Across State Lines “The efforts to curtail interstate shipping, many retailers believe, are a result of heavy lobbying by wine and spirits wholesalers, supported by generous campaign contributions to state legislators and other elected officials. In New York State, for example, wholesalers have given $2.7 million to candidates for office, compared with $678,000 donated by retailers, according to the Nation Institute on Money in State Politics.”

History and Archaeology

Limerick castle crumbles in furious winds during storm  Ophelia finished the work of  Time. ”A book entitled Castles and Big Houses describes Rathcannon Castle as “a manor of the Earls of Kildare after the Rebellion of Silken Thomas Fitzgerald of Kildare House in 1534.”

Neanderthals With Disabilities Survived Through Social Support “A re-analysis of a 50,000 year old Neanderthal skull shows that, in addition to enduring multiple injuries and debilitations, this male individual was also profoundly deaf. Yet he lived well into his 40s, which is quite old by Paleolithic standards. It’s an achievement that could have only been possible with the help of others, according to new research.”

Rare Solar Navigation Tool Found in Ancient Shipwreck “The device was found on a ship that once belonged to a fleet led by Vasco da Gama during Europe’s ‘Golden Age of Exploration.”


Leaked White House Memo Outlines Plans For All-Out War On Women’s Health
“The memo, which reads like a wish-list straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale, says Title X funding to help low-income women afford birth control “should be cut in half at least.” The money would be diverted in part to “childcare programs” — a move that suggests the Trump administration knows cutting Title X funding would result in more (unintended) pregnancies and births. ”/p>

Myth Busters Adam Savage: gender is a spectrum. The closer you look at ANYTHING the blurrier the lines get. INCLUDING GENDER. LIFE is complicated.

Americans Are Retiring Later, Dying Sooner and Sicker In-Between Oh brave new GOP world. You’re killing your own in order to feast on their bones.

New Orleans celebrity chef John Besh steps down after sexual harassment allegations

Anthony Bourdain Wonders What He Could Have Done

The Danger of President Pence This man is evil; 💩🔥💰 is a tool, Pence will officiate like a ghoul while sabotaging the rights of women, and criminalizing same-sex marriage. That’s his hope.

Rachel Maddow: Trump’s TV Nemesis She’s brilliant, she’s compassionate, and she’s literate.

What Is Money Laundering? And Why Does It Matter To Robert Mueller? Cui bono ? Follow the money.

Four Quitters Walk Into a Bar… To swap war stories from an administration they couldn’t serve for one more minute.

KENTUCKY: State Loses Appeal, Ordered To Pay $222K In Legal Fees To The Gay Couples Who Sued Kim Davis
Here’s the thing; she can be as hateful and bigoted as she likes on her own time. She was on the clock as a duly appointed official of the state. She needs to follow the laws and regulations of her office.

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

Parents are exhausting their children. An eighth-grade boy explains how.

‘Death Cleaning’ Is the Newest Way to Declutter. Here’s What to Know “There’s a Swedish word for my dad’s newfound willingness to unload and declutter: dostadning, a hybrid of the words for death and cleaning. And as morbid as it sounds, that’s exactly what death cleaning is: the process of cleaning house before you die, rather then leaving it up to your loved ones to do after you’re gone.

Science and Technology

Georgia lawmaker: Can people with HIV be ‘legally’ quarantined? “A Georgia state representative — who is also an anesthesiologist and the wife of the former federal Health and Human Services secretary . . . “What are we legally able to do?” Dr. Betty Price, a Republican, asked Dr. Pascale Wortley, director of the HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Surveillance Section at the Georgia Department of Public Health. “I don’t want to say the ‘quarantine’ word, but I guess I just said it. … What would you advise, or are there any methods, legally, that we could do that would curtail the spread?”

‘Neopets’: Inside Look at Early 2000s Internet Girl Culture “How one game community inspired a legion of girls.”

Women’s Work

One of the last Bletchley Park ‘listeners’ dies Alison Robins taught herself German to intercept Nazi messages in WWII and pass the secrets to codebreakers.

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

GOP Politicized Military Deaths Under Obama, Now Says Don’t Criticize 💩🔥💰

John Kelly and the Dangerous Moral Calculus of Working for 💩🔥💰 Anyone in politics or government who works for Donald Trump, whether on the payroll or in some other supporting role, is forced to make a sacrifice. Working for Trump means that one’s credibility is likely to be damaged, so there is a kind of moral calculation that any Trump supporter must make: Does working for him serve some higher purpose that outweighs the price of reputational loss?

What John Kelly got wrong about Rep. Frederica Wilson and the Johnson family

Empty barrels

💩🔥💰 Teases, Threatens And Dodges With ‘We’ll See What Happens’ “Trump’s frequent use of phrases like “big league” and “believe me” have gotten plenty of attention. But functionally those are filler words, without much meaning in practice. “We’ll see what happens” is different. It can be a veiled threat, an admission that the president doesn’t know what will happen, a tease or simply a way of blowing off a question.’

The cascade of missteps that turned one White House error into a messy week

By Col. Robert Killebrew, U.S. Army (Ret.): An Old Colonel Looks at General Kelly “A thousand years ago when I was about to begin my military career, a wise old retired Marine colonel, a veteran of the carnage at Tarawa, gave me some advice.”

President Donald Trump kicked off Thursday with a series of tweets that all but accused Hillary and Bill Clinton of corruption and accepting of millions of dollars from Russia. He also slammed his predecessor, Barack Obama, for knowing about a deal that gave a Russian state-run company control of 20 percent of the uranium in the United States, but not shutting it down. “Yes, the foundation received money and Bill Clinton was paid to give a speech, but there’s no evidence the Clintons were paid by Russians to push through the uranium deal.”

The New Yorker’s newest President Trump cover is the most brutal one yet

Elsewhere for October 21, 2017

You should read this for 10/21/2017:


Macro Photos That Capture the Beauty of Peacock Feathers

Books, Writing, and Language

School district pulled ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ from shelves because it ‘makes people uncomfortable’That’s kind of the point; wrong-doing is supposed to make us uncomfortable. It’s called having a conscious.

Glenn Fleishman via Medium on Re: Coding the Lobster How Emojis became “official.”

How UNH Turned A Quiet Benefactor Into A Football-Marketing Prop This isn’t the first time I’ve been embarrassed and ashamed by UNH. The library is important; the football team? Not so much.

Sarah Hughes via The Guardian: Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles: far more than sex and swords “This saga of a courageous 15th-century Scottish nobleman, contending over six volumes with many a lethal challenge, has kept me rapt for 30 years.”

I too discovered The Lymond Chronicles as a teen, and have worn out various editions, and purchased them for friends. I wrote about my relationship with Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles here, but with the seasonal swing towards autumn, I’m about to begin re-reading them, and this time, I’m planning to write about it. Just in time, too; there’s apparently a Lymond Chronicles television series in the making.

Food and Drink

Easy Meat And Cheese Stromboli Via Simply Recipes: You start by using prepared (or purchased) pizza dough, which you roll out, layer with meat, cheese and savory toppings. “Stromboli is a long roll of meat and cheese wrapped in pizza dough, which is then cut into individual slices for serving. It’s an Italian-American invention from the 1950s, apparently named for the film “Stromboli,” which was on the silver screen at the time.”

Also via Simply Recipes: Parker House Rolls.

History and Archaeology

American Fascism, in 1944 and Today
“Seventy-three years ago, The New York Times asked the sitting vice president to write an article about whether there are fascists in America, and what they’re up to.”

Hundreds of Mysterious Stone ‘Gates’ Found in Saudi Arabia’s Desert I wonder what these man-made stone structures are; and I wonder if they were meant to direct water. They remind me a little of fish traps made of stone.

Native American Secrets Lie Buried in Huge Shell Mounds Some of the oyster mounds that I remember as a kid are no more. Oyster mounds are heaps of discarded oyster shells left by native Americans in the distant past, which often reveal all kinds of data, as well as artifacts.


After Herald Catches Prison Guards Running Child “Fight Clubs,” State Attacks Reporters

Cristina Alonso, a 22-year-old college student from Spain, planned to visit Oregon for six weeks this summer. Instead, border agents sent her to NORCOR jail in the The Dalles for over 48 hours. Her friend, Professor Laurie Bridges, shares the shocking story.

Hero-Princess-General Carrie Fisher Once Delivered a Cow Tongue to a Predatory Hollywood Exec

How Congress allied with drug company lobbyists to derail the DEA’s war on opioids

Molly Ringwald Says She Has Worked with Several “Harvey Weinsteins” “I could go on about other instances in which I have felt demeaned or exploited, but I fear it would get very repetitive,” she said. “Then again, that’s part of the point. . . . Stories like these have never been taken seriously. Women are shamed, told they are uptight, nasty, bitter, can’t take a joke, are too sensitive. And the men? Well, if they’re lucky, they might get elected president.”

“This is the future that Liberals want.” “When Twitter user @polNewsNetwork1 posted a photo of a Muslim woman and a drag queen riding the subway next to each other on Wednesday, and proclaimed them as “the future that liberals want”, we’re pretty sure they weren’t expecting the response they received from the Internet.”

Pay It Forward

He Broke the Law to Build a Better Nursing Home “All those animals in a nursing home broke state law, but for Thomas and his staff, it was a revelation. Caring for the plants and animals restored residents’ spirits and autonomy; many started dressing themselves, leaving their rooms and eating again. The number of prescriptions fell to half of that of a control nursing home, particularly for drugs that treat agitation. Medication costs plummeted, and so did the death rate.”

There’s still time to save the Great Barrier Reef from dying “We’re killing one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders. It’s not too late to change.”

Science and Technology

Watch astronauts flip when they get to play with a fidget spinner on the space station “We’re not entirely sure if fidget spinners are still a thing on Earth. But judging by a new video from NASA, they’re still cool on the International Space Station.”

FCC’s DDoS claims will be investigated by GAO


💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

‘He believes his own lies’: Trump has a fake Renoir painting he’s been claiming is real for decades

Trump Given A Subpoena For All Documents Relating To Assault Allegations
“A woman who said Donald Trump groped her has subpoenaed his campaign for documents about “any woman alleging that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately.” Trump has denied her accusations and is fighting the subpoena.”

Trump Denies Family Claim He Disrespected Fallen Soldier

Trump offered a grieving military father $25,000 in a call, but didn’t follow through

Father of fallen soldier wants to learn to use Twitter so he can call Trump ‘a damn liar’ “Mr. Brooks lost his son Sgt. Roshain E. Brooks, 30, in a “mishap” during an engagement with ISIS forces in Iraq. He told the Post that the White House never called, in spite of Trump’s claims to the contrary.”

Via NPR: Numbers Disagree With Trump Golf Course Claim Of ‘Millions To Charity’

Elsewhere for October 14, 2017

You should read this for 10/14/2017:


Living with gods: highlight objects A British Museum blog post highlighting some of the objects in the upcoming exhibit;  Living with gods: peoples, places and worlds beyond . These objects representing various religions and philosophies about life and death and existence highlight the ways humans are similar. See also this post about the Lion Man figure 40,000-year-old walrus ivory figurine found in Stadel Cave, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, the oldest known evidence of religious belief in the world.

Books, Writing, and Language

Florida Superintendent Orders Ban on All Books Judged ‘Inappropriate’

The order from Superintendent Mike Thomas targets for removal any library materials, textbooks, or supplemental texts that contain “profanity, cursing, or inappropriate subject matter.”
It is unclear exactly what prompted Thomas’ action at this time, but if followed to the letter it would undoubtedly decimate both curricula and library collections. For just a small taste of the impact, consider the four books on the district’s summer reading list for 8th graders:
* Lord of the Flies by William Golding
* The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
* Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
* Young Man and the Sea by Rodman Philbrick

Food and Drink

Slow Cooker Carnitas Breakfast Tacos Start the pork roast cooking in the slow-cooker the night before; then add eggs and the usual taco trimmings for a hearty autumn breakfast. I’m already ready for breakfast (or lunch or dinner). The recipe calls for a pre-packaged marinated roast, but really, you can do that yourself before crocking the roast.

History and Archaeology

Facebook know-it-all mansplains ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ costume — to woman who designed it

Law and Order

Homage to Catalonia: What just happened in Spain’s would-be breakaway region?

Outside observers are amazed to see such chaos and violence in a stable, modern democracy. But Spain isn’t one. For people in Catalonia, and Catalan people around the world, it’s impossible to shake the image of a police officer grabbing a woman by the hair and throwing her downstairs, then using his baton to strike an elderly lady who is raising her hands in the air in a sign of peaceful protest. Or the image of riot police stomping on people of all ages who are sitting on the floor, hitting them and shoving them aside, breaking their bones even after they’ve moved out of their way. It is hard to reconcile those images of the nearly 900 Catalan citizens injured in recent protests, with the idea that Spain is a modern, robust democracy, as people in other Western nations apparently consider it.

John Kelly’s personal cellphone was compromised, White House believes

A September White House memo follows news that Chief of Staff and former director of Homeland Security John Kelly’s personal cell phone had been compromised potentially as early as December 2016.’

California challenges Trump’s rollback of birth control mandate “California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) on Friday filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s rollback of an Obama-era policy that required employers include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. Xavier Becerra said:

Donald Trump wants businesses and corporations to control family planning decisions rather than a woman in consultation with her doctor. These anti-women’s health regulations prove once again that the Trump administration is willing to trample on people’s rights

The New York Times’ Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey broke the story and the New Yorker took it farther: From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories “In the course of a ten-month investigation, thirteen women interviewed said that, between the nineteen-nineties and 2015, Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them.”

And in that context: Harvey Weinstein may have been fired illegally by The Weinstein Company. The company “wrote a contract that said Weinstein could get sued over and over for sexual harassment and as long as he shelled out money, that was good enough for the Company”

Rebecca Solnit On Harvey Weinstein, Hillary Clinton, And Blaming Women For The Acts Of Men “Harvey Weinstein is Hillary Clinton’s fault, we have learned from many sources. So is eczema and the Civil War and the fact that your child refuses to learn to tie shoelaces and sticks to Velcro shoes.”

Pay It Forward

Veteran Who Stole Truck to Save 30 Vegas Shooting Victims Surprised With New Car

Science and Technology

A horrendously bad “vaxed/unvaxed” study rises from the dead yet again

It’s not the cost of Pence’s trip that was galling. It was the preparation for it.

These Are the Oldest Known Flowers in the World Found in the fossil record, these plants are more than 100 million years old

How Israel Caught Russian Hackers Scouring the World for U.S. Secrets “The Israeli officials who had hacked into Kaspersky’s own network alerted the United States to the broad Russian intrusion, which has not been previously reported, leading to a decision just last month to order Kaspersky software removed from government computers.”

Starving Killer Whales Are Losing Most of Their Babies

A nearly 70 percent miscarriage rate is threatening the future of the southern resident killer whales. “Despite having special protections from both the Canadian and American governments, there are only 78 of these salmon-eating whales left. And as recent research shows, the southern resident population is set to slowly atrophy and ultimately disappear. On top of habitat degradation, climate change, and other challenges, the whales have another problem: they’re not having enough babies.

Penguin disaster as only two chicks survive from colony of 40,000

In the colony of about 18,000 breeding penguin pairs on Petrels Island, French scientists discovered just two surviving chicks at the start of the year. Thousands of starved chicks and unhatched eggs were found across the island in the region called Adélie Land (“Terre Adélie”).

Continue reading

Elsewhere for October 7, 2017

You should read this for 10/6/2017:


The Très Riches Heures for October October is the month for seeding the winter wheat.

Books, Writing, and Language

The Scholastic Book Fair inspires authentic analog nostalgia that goes back for decades

Food and Drink

For me, October is the Month of Apples. Apple cider, apple sauce and apple butter. Pick your own orchards in New England typically offer Apple Cider Doughnuts; this Bon Appétit Cider Doughnut recipe is particularly good because it calls for apple cider, apple butter and buttermilk.

History and Archaeology

Seattle teen calls out her dad’s Native American art. He learns she’s right

Law and Order

My marriage was over. Why couldn’t I get my old name back?

The First Amendment doesn’t guarantee you the rights you think it does

Why We Never Talk About Black-on-Black Crime: An Answer to White America’s Most Pressing Question

How the Elderly Lose Their Rights

Science and Technology

After Hurricane Irma on Fort Myers Beach, Florida

Partisan Gerrymandering Got the Sotomayor Treatment ”The Justice has a knack for crafting simple, devastating questions. She was at her best in Gill v. Whitford.”

Here’s How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled Nazi and White Nationalist Ideas Into The Mainstream
“ A cache of documents obtained by BuzzFeed News reveals the truth about Steve Bannon’s alt-right ‘killing machine.’”

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You Should Read This for September 30, 2027

You should read this for 9/30/2017:


How Bewitched Was Written as a Gay Allegory Robert Pela interviewed Elizabeth Montgomery in The ADVOCATE on July 30, 1992: “Bewitched is sort of a gay allegory: the story of a different person in this case, a witch who’s being told that she can’t tell anyone who or what she really is. It’s the ultimate closet story?”

Elizabeth Montgomery responded:

Don’t think that didn’t enter our minds at the time. We talked about it on the set certainly not in production meetings that this was about people not being allowed to be what they really are. If you think about it, Bewitched is about repression in general and all the frustration and trouble it can cause. It was a neat message to get across to people at that time in a subtle way.

Books, Writing, and Language

Via BoingBoing: The Visual History of Type author Paul McNeil selects and dissects his six favourite faces

America needs the humanities more than ever. So why have we a abandoned theme?

Identifying high-quality information (and knowing what makes it high-quality) and communicating complicated or abstract ideas from multiple perspectives are at least as important to our digital future as the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) have been to the industrial age.

I’m part of the world’s oldest living culture, but could I kill a zombie with a boomerang? “No matter what your tribe is, if you haven’t noticed the wattle flowering in this season or can’t remember what that indicates about the fish in the river, then you’re going to have a bad apocalypse.”

Seattle Needs to Ask Itself: What is the Point of a City?

To boldly go for it: why the split infinitive is no longer a mistake. Not, mind you, that it ever was wrong to split an infinitive; we don’t actually have an infinitive verb form in English; we use the proposition to + verb to create one. But Latin has an infinitive form, so Victorian idiots gramaticists decided English must work the way Latin works, and made up silly rules to support their fetish.

Journaling for Writers Journaling is a fabulous way to relieve stress, freewrite, and prepare yourself for later writing. Consider starting a journal now as prep for NaNoWriMo.

Food and Drink

How to Make the Best Tomato Sauce From Fresh Tomatoes. This really is about fresh tomato sauce, not sauce meant for eating later and thus canning or freezing.

History and Archaeology

Archaeologists uncover ancient trade network in southern Vietnam

We knew some artifacts were being moved around but this shows evidence for a major trade network that also included specialist tool-makers and technological knowledge,” Catherine Frieman, lead researcher and an expert in ancient stone tools, was quoted by [Antiquity] as saying. “It’s a whole different ball game.

Law, Order, and The State

The DOJ’s new anti-gay legal posture just got shut down in federal court. On Tuesday the 26 of September in Zarda v. Altitude Express. The case involved a now deceased former employee (Don Zarda; his estate is continuing his suit) suing his former employer for sexual orientation discrimination in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights act (Title VII). The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are on opposite sides on the case; the DOJ, in it’s current anti-queer rights stance is opposed by the EEOC who support including sexual orientation under the umbrella of Title VII. In July the current DOJ filed an amicus brief in the Zarda case, opposting the EEOC’s position (and that of the previous administration). Here’s a sample of the attorney for the DOJ’s argument:

Judge Gerard Lynch, who asked if it is “sort of OK” to discriminate on the basis of gender, Mooppan said that employers are allowed to fire employees for out-of-work sexual behaviors, such as being promiscuous, and that there are “real, physical” differences between men and women.

“The critical difference, your honor, is that discrimination requires treating people who are similarly situated differently,” Mooppan said.

In this case, as in the earlier case involving a baker and a cake for a same-sex wedding, the DOJ was not consulted or included in the original suits; the DOJ inserted itself via amicus briefs into both cases.

This is important because if the case, or any of the several other similar cases hinging on sexual orientation and workplace discrimination being brought by the EEOC do appear before the Supreme Court, the DOJ would represent the government.

This Slate article does a good job of explaining some of the problems with the DOJ’s approach (and their attorney).

President Obama’s Final Numbers

The numbers are nearly all in now. What they show about what really happened during the eight years that Barack Obama was president is sometimes different from what politicians claimed.


But now we have a reasonably complete statistical picture of the Obama years, which began in the middle of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and ended with the highest level of household income ever recorded.

Pay It Forward

How you can help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico 

Target raises minimum hourly wage to $11, pledges $15 by end of 2020

Science and Technology

Folks, It’s Time to Delete the Facebook News Feed

Introducing Genie: The powerful new digital ‘friend’ Deakin University will give to every student

Barns Are Painted Red Because of the Physics of Dying Stars

Boedaspis Trilobite

Study Shows That Women Can Retain And Carry DNA From Every Man They Have Sexual Intercourse With

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Elsewhere for September 23, 2017

You should read this for 9/23/2017:


The British Museum has a killer exhibit: Scythians: warriors of ancient Siberia

Books, Writing, and Language

How ‘white people’ were invented by a playwright in 1613

Icelandic spelling, declension and etymology dictionaries now free online

Food and Drink

Rosh Hashana always makes me think of apples, pomegranates, and, my favorite, challah. Here’s an apple and bourbon bundt cake that’s easy and delicious and keeps in a freezer. Here’s a Fennel and Orange-Scented Challah that I’ve not yet made but have plans for, and a Sephardic challah with whole spices.

History and Archaeology

America’s vitriol towards Clinton reveals a nation mired in misogyny

Pay It Forward

Little Free Library: Take a Book, Leave a Book

Science and Technology

Apple responds to ad group’s criticism of Safari cookie blocking  If, as a user, I interact with an advertisement on the Internet, it will allow tracking for those sites—that’s fair. However, it won’t allow these ad groups to endlessly track everything I do on the Web and show me ads—that’s fair too.

What Apple is doing is good for consumers. We don’t need creepy ad groups tracking everything we do. If you do want that, there are Web browsers that aren’t so intelligent that will allow that to happen.

Hummingbird Pool Part Roughly 30 hummingbirds (I think all Annas) are bathing in this bird-bath fountain in Los Angeles.

Cassini’s Final Image “As planned, the Cassini spacecraft impacted the upper atmosphere of Saturn on September 15, after a 13 year long exploration of the Saturnian System. With spacecraft thrusters firing until the end, its atmospheric entry followed an unprecedented series of 22 Grand Finale dives between Saturn and rings. Cassini’s final signal took 83 minutes to reach planet Earth and the Deep Space Network antenna complex in Canberra Australia where loss of contact with the spacecraft was recorded at 11:55 UT.” The night-side of Saturn, cloud-covered, showing Cassini’s eventual impact site.

Scamming the scammers

Apple does right by users and advertisers are displeased

Elsewhere for September 16, 2017

You should read this for 9/16/2017:


Janet Takahashi has videos teaching Step-by-Step Uncial Calligraphy Half uncial is the hand used in the Book of Kells.

The Internet Fireplace Sometimes a looped video of a crackling fire is just the thing.

Books and Writing

From Glenn Fleishman via Medium: Hot Metal Transforms the Speed of Information “From 1450 to the mid-1880s, nearly every printed word was set one tedious letter at a time. Then the machine age grabbed hold.”

Lani Sarem’ was accused of falsifying sales when her debut YA reached No.1 in the New York Times Young Adult Best Seller list. “I had purchased the books directly from my distributor, Itasca Books, they would not count as sales for purposes of the New York Times list. If they were purchased from booksellers — brick and mortar or online — they would count. While I didn’t limit my purchases to only those booksellers involved in the Times list, I did purchase books in bulk from booksellers to resell them later at events.” Let me translated that for you: She deliberately, knowingly, tried to game the system and got caught. I’ll never read or review anything of hers.

Via The Chicago Tribune: Scratch-off reading list: A novel poster idea

Food and Drink

One of the traditional New England meals is the New England boiled dinner, made with corned beef. Red flannel hash is what you do with the left-overs, and that crop of fall beets. Don’t skimp on the butter.

History and Archaeology

Newly unearthed 3,500 year-old tomb with mummies unveiled in Egypt The tomb of a goldsmith Amenemhat and his wife Amenhotep was discovered near near Luxor, at the Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis, in southern Egypt on Saturday. The tomb contains “mummies, sarcophagi, statuettes, pots and other artifacts,” according to Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities.

Via the BBC: Carbon dating shows an ancient Indian manuscript has the earliest recorded origin of the zero symbol. Zero began as a dot, then evolved to the hollow circle we use today.

Yale University offers free online course on the Early Middle Ages The course, taught by Yale Religion professor Paul Freedman, is taught via a series of 22 YouTube 45 minute lectures. It covers the usual major developments in the political, social, and religious history of Western Europe and includes “the conversion of Europe to Christianity, the fall of the Roman Empire, the rise of Islam and the Arabs, the ‘Dark Ages,’ Charlemagne and the Carolingian renaissance, and the Viking and Hungarian invasions.” Haven’t seen it; don’t know if it’s inappropriately Western-centric or not yet; but it looks interesting. That said, I’m getting really tired of medieval history classes that cover the East in 10 minutes, the Vikings in 8, and completely ignore Africa.

Pay It Forward

“Being generous requires us to dedicate profound thought to what the person receiving our generosity actually needs,” McNamara says. “So often, the church makes generosity synonymous with the free giving of stuff, but it’s not. I’ve seen Westerners come in and drop off a whole bunch of stuff — toys, free food, tons of clothes. Typically it’s not useful, they’re paying way too much for overseas shipping and suddenly the local food or clothing vendors don’t make their living for the week, and those are important jobs for struggling communities.”

Science and Technology

High-Speed Hummingbird Photos Reveal Their Wacky Body Parts This photo essay about how hummingbirds fly, and feed while flying, is inspired by the July 2017 issue of National Geographic “Unlocking the Secrets Behind the Hummingbird’s Frenzy.” And if that’s not enough, see this Hummingbird Whisperer at UCLA. There’s video hereWhen I first started at UCLA I recognized the sound of a hummingbird in flight, and was delighted to see both Anna’s Hummingbird’s and the tiny Calliope hummingbirds on campus. I quickly obtained my very own hummingbird feeder.

Via The New York Times In a Fragile Partnership, Dolphins Help Catch Fish in Myanmar

On Friday September 15, 2017, Casino will plunge to a fire death on Saturn. The Cassini–Huygens unmanned mission to collect and transmit data from and about Saturn and its environs has been sending us images and other data from its orbit around Saturn since 2004. Thinks to your tax dollars helping NASA learn more about our solar system, you can down load a free ebook for Kindle, iBooks (epub) or .pdf about Cassini-Huygens and its mission: The Saturn System Through the Eyes of Cassini.