Links for February 2022

all aboard

Lady Wonder “was a mare some claimed to have psychic abilities and be able to perform intellectually demanding tasks such as arithmetic and spelling. … Lady was said to have predicted the outcome of boxing fights and political elections, and was consulted by the police in criminal investigations.“

Did you ever spend time in… middle school? If so, you may recognize some of these urban legends about drugs. Who can forget such classics as “Bananadine” or “Man permanently thinks he is an orange and is terrified of being turned into a glass of orange juice.” We love that Wikipedia has an article on this. 

Monte Testaccio is an artificial hill in Rome over 100 feet high, and 1 km in circumference, composed of fragments of broken ancient Roman pottery dating from the time of the Roman Empire. Gotta go back to Rome so I can look at this friggin’ bing.

Also per Wikipedia: Albert Einstein loved the children’s puppet show Time for Beany. “On one occasion, the physicist interrupted a high-level conference by announcing, ‘You will have to excuse me, gentlemen. It’s Time for Beany.’”

Possible good news about PFAS

Beautiful houses in Oman.

Our predictions for 2050 are already coming to pass in small ways. Delivery robots are so common in some cities (e.g. Milton Keynes in the UK) that there are already delivery robot traffic jams. (Also reminded of the time a delivery robot caught fire on Berkeley campus and students made a memorial for it.) This furry did the Moderna vaccine we told you science was gonna get weirder and cooler.

Alex Wellerstein writes a retrospective on 10 years of NUKEMAP. “Historians should not be surprised by the passing of time, but people are, and historians are people, so, well, here I am, continually surprised.” Relatedly, if you ever think nuclear war is about to occur, consider taking a 90-day trip to New Zealand.

Other explosions: According to Fire in the sky — a history of meteoritics, there are a lot more documented cases of asteroid impacts than we realized! It’s only a matter of time before an asteroid wipes out a town — and THIS time, we’ll capture it on video

Or maybe Russia will crash-land the International Space Station in our backyard, who knows.

In animation, Worthikids is the guy to watch. Here’s a good interview with him about his process.

Breastfeeding by humans of animals — much more common than you might think! “The reasons for this are varied: to feed young animals, to drain a woman’s breasts, to promote lactation, to harden the nipples before a baby is born, to prevent conception, and so on. … In far northern Japan, the Ainu people are noted for holding an annual bear festival at which a captured bear, raised and suckled by the women, is sacrificed.”

Best in Blogging this month: 

  • Adam at Experimental History describes bureaucratic psychosis. “The best way I’ve found to keep it at bay is to simply excuse myself from other people’s Renaissance Fair realities and go play somewhere else. Let the obtuse administrators, sadistic gatekeepers, and conmen consultants rule their blob-land; I am happy sharing a little corner of the world with people who see me as a person.”
  • Applied Divinity Studies put out a two-part series on the purported shoplifting wave in San Francisco (Part 1, Part 2). We recommend reading it in full, but to summarize, ADS thinks that this supposed crime spree is a complete fantasy, driven by selective reporting and “an abject failure to do even the bare minimum of background research”. Seriously chilling implications about how much you can trust reporting and for our political landscape. “If you stick though this series, you’ll get to hear… how we ended up in this weird and wacky world where libertarian VCs somehow end up agreeing with liberals like Nancy Pelosi and London Breed, and where the stance they all agree on is that we should be tough on a crime, a stance historically antithetical to both parties’ platforms.”
  • If you’re still concerned about the downfall of civilization, consider this series (Part I, Part II, Part III) from A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry on the question, “how bad was the fall of Rome (in the West)?” Choice quote from the ending: 

The collapse of the Roman Empire in the West is a complex sequence of events and one that often resists easy answers, but it is a useful one to think about, particularly as we now sit atop our own fragile clockwork economic mechanism, suspended not a few feet but many miles above the grinding poverty of pre-industrial life and often with our own arsonists, who are convinced that the system is durable and stable because they cannot imagine it ever vanishing.

Until it does.

Independent hacker P4x fucks up North Korea.

Check out this “glitch art object”! We want one. Actually, here’s a build log.

Edward Snowden: “it’s not VR if i can’t get into a fistfight with kermit the frog”

One thought on “Links for February 2022

  1. Felz says:

    The meteoritics piece is unexpectedly great. It has great examples of the “scientific truth and reality can be really complicated” themes from your earlier posts- e.g. the meteor sounds that seem to be concurrent with the meteor when they can’t possibly travel that fast (they’re caused by EM somehow), or the meteor impact that killed off the dinosaurs even though volcanism also happened to be killing them off at the same time.

    Speaking of, it occurred to me that we have one documented case ( https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann_Elizabeth_Fowler_Hodges ) of a meteor actually hitting someone (and a recent case of getting very very close: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/14/world/canada/meteorite-bed.html ). So if roughly 5% of people who are alive are in the modern era, then as an estimate 20 humans have been directly hit by meteors throughout history. No idea what the fatality rate is.

    Like

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