Fancy a cheese sarnie?

I thought these two recent links from Laughing Squid went together well.

How to properly cut and serve different cheesesLaughing Squid
Anne Saxelby, the resident turophile of Saxelby Cheesemongers in New York City, gave an informative Epicurious lesson on how to properly “cut the cheese”. All jokes aside, Saxelby, who has a long history working with artisanal cheese, offers helpful tips on not only cutting but appreciating and serving different varietals from all over the world.

How to make just about every shape of breadLaughing Squid
Peter Endriss, the head baker at Runner & Stone in Gowanus, Brooklyn partnered with Epicurious to offer a rather comprehensive tutorial in shaping a variety of different bread. Included in this list are simple loaves of bread and rolls along with such tasty treats as brioche à tête, pretzels, bagels, English muffins, challah, chapeau, and even a pizza crust.

Making a very slow splash

There’s slow TV, then there’s really slow TV.

The Slow Mo Guys usually shoot their videos at 1,000 frames a second and play them back at 25 frames a second, in effect stretching one second into 40 seconds. But in this video they’re using a camera that allows them to shoot a mind-boggling 90,000 frames a second. When that footage is played back at 25 frames a second, one second lasts one whole hour.

The Slow Mo Guys: What if every second lasted an hour?YouTube
Gav shows you the tranquil results of stretching every second to be an hour long.

At this speed, a minute would last two and a half days, an hour would last about five months, and a day would come in at just under a decade, at nine years and ten months. Shall we keep going? A month would last around three centuries, and a year would be about 3,597 years.

Interesting visuals, for sure, but that concept of experiencing time at different scales is captivating.

Does anyone else get slightly filled with dread imagining how bad it would be to be stuck at this speed. Even if you were surrounded by people you wouldn’t be able to communicate with anyone. It would be so lonely. It would take you so long to move anywhere. You wouldn’t be able to let anyone know what was happening to you. To them you’d be moving at normal speed but acting strangely…

It immediately brought to mind one of my favourite Borges short stories, The Secret Miracle, with the playwright facing a firing squad.

Jorge Luis Borges: The Secret MiracleSCASD [pdf]
The rifles converged upon Hladik, but the men assigned to pull the triggers were immobile. The sergeant’s arm eternalized an inconclusive gesture. Upon a courtyard flag stone a bee cast a stationary shadow. The wind had halted, as in a painted picture. Hladik began a shriek, a syllable, a twist of the hand. He realised he was paralyzed. Not a sound reached him from the frozen world.
He thought: I’m in hell, I’m dead.
He thought: I’ve gone mad.
He thought: Time has come to a halt.

It’s a common enough device, but Borges does it most poetically, I would say. But going back to that video, here’s what falling into a pool for an hour looks like. The action really kicks off at the 26 minute mark.

Reminds me a little of Douglas Gordon’s 24 Hour Pyscho although that feels like watching a rollercoaster compared to this.

Misunderstanding our past, present and future

It’s obvious, when you think about it. Of course not all Neanderthals were ‘cavemen’ — half were women.

SheanderthalAeon Essays
Archaeology is no exception to biases against women’s interests across science and the humanities. Since the early days, a tendency to conceptualise humanity’s deep origins as populated literally by ‘cavemen’ has led to presumed male activities being presented as most visible and interesting. … In fact, for most of the subsequent 160 years, female Neanderthals – if featured at all – tend to be fewer in number, peripherally located, and limited to ‘domesticated’ activities including childcare and skin-working. They are essentially scenery, in the words of the anthropologist Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, rather than active providers working on stone knapping or hunting and, in addition, they’re often fearfully lurking, hidden in dark grottos.

The world is a very different place now.

Why eye-catching graphics are vital for getting to grips with climate changeThe Conversation
One misconception about the climate crisis is that warming will be uniform across the world. Deniers cite cold fronts or blizzards as evidence that warming is exaggerated, or hark back to past heatwaves – such as that experienced by the UK in 1976 when temperatures exceeded 35°C – as proof that the scientists have got it wrong. Apart from this misleading conflation of weather (daily conditions) and climate (long-term conditions), this kind of argument misses the complex patchwork of effects that interact to create what gets reported in the headline figures. Maps can be an invaluable weapon against this misunderstanding. … [W]hat is needed are more universally accessible visualisations that are able to show where we’re heading in no uncertain terms.

How on earth would you protect future generations from something with a half-life of over 700 million years? Use your imagination.

The art of pondering Earth’s distant futureScientific American
We do not, of course, live in these imagined worlds. In this sense, they are unreal—merely fictions. However, our capacities to envision potential futures, and to feel empathy for those who may inhabit them, are very real. Depictions of tomorrow can have powerful, concrete effects on the world today. This is why deep time thought experiments are not playful games, but serious acts of intellectual problem-solving. It is why the safety case experts’ models of far future nuclear waste risks are uniquely valuable, even if they are, at the end of the day, mere approximations.

Nothing on TV?

Similar to Voleflix but with less actual content, here’s a new streaming service for when you’re after something a little more meta.

Nestflix
Welcome to Nestflix, the platform for your favorite nested films and shows. Fictional movies within movies? Got ‘em. Fake shows within shows? You bet. Browse our selection of over 400 stories within stories.

Or you could relive some old pre-streaming memories and just watch this for a while.

It’s all over, you can rest now

So that’s that for another four three years. I didn’t watch that much of the Olympics, but here are some links about it I’ve enjoyed reading. Let’s start with some great photography very much in the style of Pelle Cass, I think.

Decisive moments from the Tokyo Games, frame by frameThe New York Times

Nine of the most memorable moments from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic GamesOlympics.com
Filippo Tortu of Team Italy beats Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake of Team Great Britain across the finish line to win the gold medal in the Men’s 4 x 100m Relay Final on day fourteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 06, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.

I love that photo, the matching poses several feet into the air.

Tokyo Olympics: Toughest Games? Decathletes and heptathletes say probablyStuff.co.nz
The last 18 months brought the pandemic, while Tokyo brought another new challenge, as if the multi-eventers needed it. The scorching heat and humidity at the Olympic Stadium had many of the competitors donning ice vests and dumping ice inside and over their hats to try stay cool.

A memorable Olympics, but for the right reasons?The New York Times
Pushing forth in a pandemic, these Games were meant to be, as the International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said last year, “the light at the end of this dark tunnel the whole world is going through.” Yet they were often claustrophobic, cut off from society, with capacious venues across Tokyo repurposed into cloistered safe houses. They were, in this way, paradoxical, uncanny and hard to wholly comprehend. They were a feat of organizational planning and execution, even amid arguments about whether they should be happening in the first place. They were stubbornly called Tokyo 2020, a retrograde name that reminded everyone of the meandering path traveled to this point.

Such a shame about all those empty seats. All these athletes are incredible, though, in so many different ways.

There’s nothing Adam Ondra can’t climb, but is an Olympic medal out of reach?The New York Times
Ondra, 28, has completed more of the hardest outdoor routes than anyone, and on the competition walls that will be featured at the Games, he is the reigning world champion in lead climbing and the only one to win the world championship in lead and bouldering in the same year. But in Tokyo, equal weight will be given to speed climbing, a fringe event where Ondra’s considerable talents — creativity, problem solving, efficiency — are meaningless.

How Olympic divers make the perfect tiny splashYouTube
If you’ve watched any Olympics diving coverage, you may have noticed that the splashes athletes make are tiny. Divers spend years training to perform with minimal splash, in the same way that gymnasts train to stick their landings. In this video, Team USA’s head diving coach Drew Johansen explains the three major components he uses to guide his athletes towards smaller splashes: the above water position, the underwater swim, and the underwater pike. And while the sport of diving isn’t all about getting splashes, a small splash is the perfect punctuation to a job well done.

The Olympics are more than just a collection of sporting events, of course. Remember that floating head?

Giant inflatables and flying dancers: Olympic art has always turned headsThe Conversation
From Leni Riefenstahl’s film, Olympia, at the Berlin 1936 Games to Speed Skater, Andy Warhol’s print for Sarajevo 1984, artists have contributed to modern Olympic narratives in iconic ways. The purpose of these interventions, not to mention their desired audience, has varied considerably.

Celebrating the legacy of Kamekura Yusaku’s iconic Tokyo 1964 Olympics identityIt’s Nice That
“They were quite cutting-edge and challenged the process of photography in order to create the right look,” says Simon. The second poster, released in May 1962, was a full-bleed photograph depicting a line of athletes shooting off from the starting block against a sharp black background and that striking gold typeface emblazoned below. The photo used American servicemen who were stationed at the Tachikawa airbase as models, alongside amateur Japanese athletes. Its technical mastery is in the painstaking process it took to get the final dynamic image – at the time, blacking out the background digitally wasn’t an option (Photoshop had yet to be born). The shoot took place in the National Stadium on a cold February evening over three hours, with the six runners making around 80 staggered false starts before photographer Hayasaki Osamu captured the perfect shot.

The Yusaku Kamekura meme: From the Tokyo Olympics to Monster StrikeThe Olympians
I was on the Yamanote Line train when I looked up to see all in-car advertisements devoted to Japan’s #1 best-selling mobile game from 2016 – Monster Strike. I usually don’t care about mobile games, but the ad immediately caught my attention – animals in mid-stride racing together, on a dark black background. It is exactly the same concept as the second of designer Yusaku Kamekura‘s poster in 1962, marketing the 1964 Tokyo Olympics to come.

‘A stirring moment preserved forever through typography’: Morisawa, the official font provider for Tokyo 2020Olympics.com
Under our motto, “Enhancing society through typography,” we would like to see our UD fonts more widely adopted and used throughout society. Our ultimate goal is to use typography to contribute to the creation of an inclusive society where people with or without impairments live side by side. For humanity to maintain peace and growth, we cannot avoid embracing an inclusive society.

When ancient Greece banned women from Olympics, they started their ownAtlas Obscura
During these ancient times, women lived much shorter lives, were excluded from political decision-making and religious rites, were forced into early marriages, and then gave birth to several children. Despite the societal inequalities and oppression, women in Greece wanted to play—so they started their own Olympics called the Heraean Games.

Tokyo’s drones and their updating of Kamekura Yusaku’s pictograms were fantastic, and I know I’m biased, being both British and an Underworld fan, but I still think London 2012’s opening ceremony was the best.

And I Will KissWikipedia
His brief from Danny Boyle, the creative director of the Olympics opening ceremony was simple: “Danny wanted to frighten people. He was certain that by the end [of the Pandemonium section], people had to be going: ‘Christ, you can’t possibly do that to us for the next three hours.’ All the way along, he’d leave you with a sentence like that. That’s the kind of direction that leaves you empowered.” Smith also said of the track: “There was to be nothing half-hearted or polite about it.”

And you must check out this version of that footage, the view from the inside.

Martian music

How would a piano sound on Mars? Embark on an interplanetary sonic journeyAeon Videos
If the Universe is born and no one is present to hear it, does it still make a sound? Well, theoretically, yes. As this video from the US filmmaker John D Boswell explores, where a ‘thick soup of atoms’ is present, sound is possible. Made in collaboration with the podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz, this short documentary deploys dramatic CGI visuals, a pulsing score and the voices of prominent scientists to explore the sounds of space – from those humanity has recorded to those we can only speculate about.

The Sounds of Space: A sonic adventure to other worldsYouTube
Space is more than just a feast for the eyes. It’s a feast for the ears. You just have to know where — and when — to look. Floating in the silent void of space are trillions of islands of sound, each with their own sonic flavor — some eerily familiar, some wildly different than Earth’s. And even space itself was once brimming with sound.

Just floating by

First, something almost invisible drifting through the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

A rare sighting of a glass octopus reveals its nearly transparent membrane in extraordinary detailColossal
With a speckled, iridescent membrane, the aquatic animal is almost entirely transparent—only its optic nerve, eyes, and digestive tract are visible to humans—and sightings like these are so infrequent that scientists previously resorted to studying the species only after pulling it from the stomachs of its predators.

And then, floating over over a park in Japan, an image seemingly straight out of the pages of a Junji Ito horror story.

A giant head hot air balloon floats over a Tokyo parkLaughing Squid
Japanese photographer Disc Yuri On used a Panasonic video camera from 1999 to capture the rather startling sight of a giant hot air balloon in the shape of a head that was trying to float high above Yoyogi Park in Tokyo but was hampered by the wind. When a siren sounded, however, the balloon spun around and faced the camera directly. The stuff of nightmares.

Think again

I still can’t get my head around Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, no matter how many explanatory videos I watch. Perhaps I need to move on to a different time-bending movie, like this one from Johan Grimonprez.

Double TakeThe Guardian
No better way to mark the 50th anniversary of Psycho … than with this bizarre and distinctly inspired mash-up by writer Tom McCarthy and film-maker Johan Grimonprez. Their ever so slightly mad cine-essay, based on a Borgès short story, and perhaps influenced by British film-maker Chris Petit, is a delirious bad trip, imagining that Alfred Hitchcock, working on the set of The Birds in 1962, is visited by his own double: the near-dead Hitchcock from 1980, who enigmatically hints at how cold war history may or may not turn out. (The older Hitchcock double is of course only slightly better informed on this subject than the younger.)

Double Take by Johan GrimonprezVimeo
Acclaimed director Johan Grimonprez casts Alfred Hitchcock as a paranoid history professor, unwittingly caught up in a double take on the cold war period. The master says all the wrong things at all the wrong times while politicians on both sides desperately clamor to say the right things, live on TV.

Double Take targets the global rise of ‘fear-as-a-commodity’, in a tale of odd couples and hilarious double deals. As television hijacks cinema, and the Khrushchev and Nixon kitchen debate rattles on, sexual politics quietly take off and Alfred himself emerges in a dandy new role on the TV, blackmailing housewives with brands they can’t refuse.

Whensday

I see another Monday had rolled around (‘Freedom day’, no less, hashtag eyeroll). But is Monday your Monday? Or do you have your Monday on another day, Thursday for instance?

The best day to go into the office is…WIRED UK
Many companies seem to be following the idea that people are most productive at the start of the week, and therefore should be in the office on those days. […] A scientific study of workplaces and behaviour in them found that people are least civil with colleagues at the start of the week. They gradually become more friendly and engaging with their peers as the week goes on, though become slightly less civil on Fridays than they were on Thursday.

What really happened in Iceland’s four-day week trialWIRED UK
[T]here are a few caveats to note about this research before everyone stops coming into work on Fridays. First, despite the headlines – including the one on this newsletter – Iceland didn’t trial a four-day work week. Instead, the two trials reduced hours from 40 each week to 35 or 36.

See also:

Neckties are the new bow tiesThe Atlantic
As America struggled to recover from a global pandemic, a shattered economy, and record unemployment levels, headlines despaired: “neckties doomed.” Men were “slashing their clothing bills” to retailers’ chagrin, the Associated Press reported. Those who continued to wear ties were downgrading from colorful, expensive silk to plain, cheap cotton. The year was 1921, and reports of the tie’s death were premature, to say the least.

A century later, as Americans begin to emerge from another financially devastating pandemic, another rash of headlines is predicting the tie’s imminent demise.

Big cats in Japan

A hyperrealistic giant meowing 3D calico cat on a billboard towers over Tokyo’s busy Shinjuku StationLaughing Squid
This giant feline wakes up at 7 AM and interacts with the public until 1 AM. This includes meowing, stretching and moving toward the edge of the billboard in between other visual advertisements on the giant screen. This ad was created for Cross Shinjuku Vision, in partnership with MicroAd and Unica.

A digital cat is melting hearts (and napping a lot) in JapanThe New York Times
“There are many reasons we decided to display the cat, but one of the big reasons is that with corona, the world became very dark,” Mr. Ohkawa added, referring to the coronavirus pandemic. “Through the cat display, we wanted to revive Shinjuku and make it brighter.”

You can see what it’s up to yourself, on the advertising unit’s own YouTube channel. It was dozing off, the last time I checked.

Watch out, Mario!

Nintendo is teaming up with Tag Heuer on a Mario-themed watchThe Verge
The site doesn’t list any details on pricing, but from what I can tell, most Tag Heuer watches cost at least a grand, so it seems likely that this Super Mario watch won’t be cheap. And I have to say that the collaboration isn’t one I’d expect to see from Nintendo, which I wouldn’t consider a luxury brand. But I’m definitely curious as to what this watch might look like, and I’ll be keeping an eye on the official reveal next week.

Are watches too expensive? Revolution
Through the sound of wailing and gnashing of teeth from people who dreamt ten years ago that they’d save up for a Rolex, it all seems a bit bleak. And it would be, were it not for brands like Hamilton, Longines and Maurice Lacroix. With over three-and-a-half centuries of experience between them, they’ve got what it takes to right the balance and rewind time on watch prices.

But think of the trees

I’m a big fan of the photographer/designer/writer/walker Craig Mod, so it was great to read an interview with him in a recent Why Is This Interesting newsletter.

The [Tuesday] media diet with Craig ModWhy is this interesting?
Describe your media diet. Internet goes off before bed. No internet until afternoon. Mornings are for reading books and writing. I try to limit news to smart speaker updates — “Hey Googs, what’s the latest NPR news?” — since there is a natural backstop (the update ends) and it’s impossible to get sucked into hours of news gaping this way. Books, I read 50/50 on a Kindle/paper. Kindle is usefully quick and dirty although I despise the ecosystem. Any book I love enough to finish on Kindle I immediately buy the paper version for my library. Longform articles usually get sent to my Kindle or printed out for reading later since I find focusing on a long-form essay in a browser is akin to self-waterboarding. Mediums definitely matter! And if someone spent a great deal of time on a 5,000-word essay for NYT Magazine or The Atlantic, I want to make sure I’m fully there (full attention, full focus) for the ride.

Whilst I love his writing on reading and book design, I’m not sure about that “Any book I love enough to finish on Kindle I immediately buy the paper version for my library” line. I have so many great books on my Kindle that I’ve really enjoyed, and I would struggle to justify buying hundreds of paperbacks just to see them lined up on my bookcase.

Who am I kidding I’d love to do that.

Polar certainties

Here’s something I wasn’t expecting to be reading about this week — the search for meteorites at the South Pole.

Polar Light, by Barry LopezHarper’s Magazine
These field quarters are a National Science Foundation (NSF) deep-remote cold camp, in the Transantarctic Mountains, 220 miles from the South Pole. We’re encamped near the base of Graves Nunataks, an isolated set of mountain peaks standing proud of a massive ice sheet. (“Nunatak” is an Iñupiaq word, imported from the Northern Hemisphere, describing rock exposed above an ice sheet.) Except for our cookstoves we have no source of heat, and the four men and two women in our party have been here for nearly two weeks. Our camp is at the edge of the Polar Plateau that forms Antarctica’s vast interior, an ice cap four times the size of Greenland, a region of the world I have been chronicling for the past thirty years. On this frigid summer day in mid-January, 1999, the six of us are many hundreds of miles from any other human, except for those at the South Pole.

Once taken in hand and placed under a microscope each meteorite is revelatory. The overwhelming majority of them come from the asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter, and are so distinctive, one from the other, that scientists have been able to create a kind of geography of the asteroid belt, a geologic map that allows them to push deeper into our still hazy understanding of how the solar system evolved. In short, every meteorite represents an important contribution to the unraveling of the mystery of Earth’s origin. Therefore, though the six of us will find only 186 meteorites, our weather-compromised effort will still be viewed as successful.

But it was this image from the article that I first saw on the TYWKIWDBI blog that caught my eye, as it reminded me of that looping mathsy animation I found earlier. It’s a multiple-exposure photograph showing the sun orbiting the South Pole one afternoon, through the night and into the next morning — a midnight sun.

Time doesn’t stand still, even at the South Pole. Towards the end of their expidition, the scientists ponder the shift to the more quantative, less hands-on approach they’ve noticed over the years.

Back in ­McMurdo we’ve both witnessed changes as the hallways of the old science building, perennially crowded with camping gear, have given way to the antiseptically tidy and brightly lit hallways of the Crary Science and Engineering Center. The corridors of the building buzz with the ceaseless clicking of keyboards, a kind of white noise, accompanied by the electronic beeps that signal a task has been completed or information is now awaiting retrieval. The numerical results of a theoretical approach, of someone’s plumbing the nimbus of numbers surrounding a little-understood event, are both esoteric and arcane; and the speed with which they’re produced, and the sheer volume of them, is intimidating. The process suggests that knowledge has been obtained, but in fact there is not much more here than staggering specificity and a quantity of numbers significant enough to support statistical probability. Massive data sets, for some, represent irrefutable truth, or insights that transcend previously established boundaries, but the data might be no more than intensely self-referential. Impressive but unconvincing.

The belief that one can reach a state of certainty, about anything, acts as a goad for those who regard the anomalies that inevitably turn up in their data not as a caution but as an inconvenience.

“I had a theology professor once,” I say to John, “who told us that religion was not about being certain but about living with uncertainty. It was about being comfortable with doubt, and maintaining the continuity of one’s reverence for a profound mystery.”

I’m not sure John hears me. He is reclined on his sleeping bag with only his lower legs visible to me past a pile of gear. Perhaps he’s fallen asleep. It’s been a long day.

“We gain deeper knowledge,” he finally responds. “But no guarantee that we’re any closer to wisdom.”

A sentiment still necessary today, as shown by Content Catnip in one of her quotes from Svend Brinkmann’s recent book, Standing Firm: Resisting The Self Improvement Craze.

Comforting thought: Doubt is a virtue, certainty is blinkered tunnel visionContent Catnip
In essence, certainty is dogmatic, whereas doubt has an important ethical value. Certainty’s ‘I know’ can easily lead to blindness. Doubt on the other hand, leads to openness, to other ways of acting and new understandings of the world.

Antarctica is certainly a remarkable place. It’s strange to think that we knew more about the far reaches of the solar system than the bottom of our own planet. Perhaps you fancy a trip there yourself? No problem — if you have a spare $50,000 or so. Best be quick, though.

Miles of ice collapsing into the seaThe New York Times
The acceleration is making some scientists fear that Antarctica’s ice sheet may have entered the early stages of an unstoppable disintegration. Because the collapse of vulnerable parts of the ice sheet could raise the sea level dramatically, the continued existence of the world’s great coastal cities — Miami, New York, Shanghai and many more — is tied to Antarctica’s fate.

Happy Amazon Prime Day, Jeff

Hosts of Australia’s Today giggle their way through a segment on Jeff Bezos’ weiner-shaped spacecraftAV Club
Last week, we learned that Dr. Evil cosplayer Jeff Bezos would be leaving for space on a rocket that completes his attempts to fully embody the Austin Powers villain by being shaped like a giant metal penis. The hosts of Australia’s Today morning show were tasked with reporting on this story when it was first announced, and found themselves giggling through the entire segment as images of space dicks were displayed on the green screen behind them.

Tens of thousands sign petition to stop Jeff Bezos from returning to EarthNPR
On July 20, Amazon’s founder and billionaire magnate Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark will board the New Shepard suborbital rocket system. The Bezos brothers, one auction winner with $28 million to spare, and a fourth person will become the first crew aboard the reusable rocket for its 11-minute voyage to space.

Since Bezos made the announcement about his journey to space this month, tens of thousands of people have come together to petition against his return to the planet.

Reading: the how, what and why

Across three essays for Literary Hub, one of my favourite authors, Will Self, ponders big, bookish questions.

Will Self: How should we read? In praise of literary promiscuity in the digital ageLiterary Hub
To read promiscuously is to comprehend the caresses of one work in the arms of another—and the promiscuous reader is a pedagogue par excellence. How should we read? We would read as gourmands eat, gobbling down huge gobbets of text. No one told me not to pivot abruptly from Valley of the Dolls to The Brothers Karamazov—so I did; anymore than they warned me not to intersperse passages of Fanny Hill with those written by Frantz Fanon—so I did that, too. By reading indiscriminately, I learned to discriminate—and learned also to comprehend: for it’s only with the acquisition of large data sets that we also develop schemas supple enough to interpret new material.

So many books, so little time — so just keep going!

Will Self on what to read: Canons to the left, canons to the right, and everything in betweenLiterary Hub
All of which is by way of saying: read what the hell you like. In a literary culture in which a Booker Prize winner (Bernadine Evaristo) can give an interview to the Guardian newspaper in which she states that “life’s too short” for her to read Ulysses, clearly the old idols have fallen. But then, they haven’t been the old idols for very long. No, read what you want—but be conscious that in this area of life as so many others; you are what you eat, and if your diet is solely pulp, you’ll very likely become rather… pulpy. And if you read books that almost certainly won’t last, you’ll power on through life with a view of cultural history as radically foreshortened as the bonnet of a bubble car.

And here, he compares the move from social reading to private, silent reading with the shift from the hefty codex to the hand-sized screen.

Why should you read? Will Self wonders what the hell we think we’re doingLiterary Hub
In the current era the dispute between those who view the technological assemblage of the internet and the web as some sort of panacea for our ills, and those who worry it might herald the end of everything from independent thought (whatever that might be), to literacy itself, has a slightly muted feel. I suspect the reason for this is also to be found in Understanding Media: as McLuhan pointed out, the supplanting of one medium by another can take a long time—and just as the practice of copying manuscripts by hand continued for centuries after the invention of printing, so solitary reading—conceived of importantly as an individual and private absorption in a unitary text of some length—persists, and will continue to endure long after the vast majority of copy being ingested is in the form of tiny digitized gobbets.

Just give it back, it’s not yours

The events of a year ago prompted some people to question the legitimacy of various colonial-era museum collections. This debate is far from new.

What the “Nefertiti Hack” tells us about digital colonialismHyperallergic
The story of the Nefertiti bust provides a window into the European domination of excavations in Egypt and other Mediterranean archaeological sites in the late 19th and early 20th century. French, German, and British excavators were often supercilious in their defense of looting cultural heritage from classical sites in the Eastern Mediterranean in order to be “protected” within European museums. They also developed cunning methods for carrying out their work. In the Nefertiti bust’s case, overwhelming evidence suggests its removal to Germany in 1913 was not legal then and remains both illicit and unethical today — a wrong yet to be rectified. […]

Although the artists originally stated that they had gone into the museum and guerrilla scanned the Nefertiti bust using a hidden Microsoft Xbox 360 Kinect Sensor, in reality they were likely involved in a double-blind hack. As Geismar concludes, it appears that an inside (wo)man with access to the museum’s 3D data released the scan to the artists. Subsequently, Al-Badri and Nelles released the files under a Creative Commons open license (CC0) for anyone to use. Geismar remarks that the hack drew “attention to museum hoarding [practices] not just of ancient collections but of their digital doubles.” The hack used the tools of “data collection and presentation to undo the regimes of authority and property over which the museum still asserts sovereignty.” Such museum interventions also underscore that the “digital repatriation” of objects by museums can never replace physical repatriation.

The discovery of the famous bust of Nefertiti in EgyptThe Yucatan Times
Egypt has not waived its demand. The archaeologist Zahi Hawass, who requested his loan in vain during his time as Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities, continues to demand the return of the piece. And the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, owner of the bust, continues to insist on the legality of the acquisition.

Things are looking up #7

Oh dear.

In a NASA simulation of an asteroid impact, scientists concluded they couldn’t stop a space rock from decimating EuropeBusiness Insider
A group of experts from US and European space agencies attended a weeklong exercise led by NASA in which they faced a hypothetical scenario: An asteroid 35 million miles away was approaching the planet and could hit within six months. With each passing day of the exercise, the participants learned more about the asteroid’s size, trajectory, and chance of impact. Then they had to cooperate and use their technical knowledge to see if anything could be done to stop the space rock.

The experts fell short. The group determined that none of Earth’s existing technologies could stop the asteroid from striking given the six-month time frame of the simulation. In this alternate reality, the asteroid crashed into eastern Europe.

US military has ‘no plan’ to shoot down debris from falling Chinese rocketThe Guardian
Speaking with reporters, the US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, said the hope was the rocket would land in the ocean and that the latest estimate was that it would come down between Saturday and Sunday. … The Global Times, a Chinese tabloid published by the official People’s Daily, characterized reports that the rocket is “out of control” and could cause damage as “Western hype”. The situation is “not worth panicking about”, it said, citing industry insiders.

Let’s hope those things whizzing above our heads are just satellites and nothing scarier.

SpaceX Starlink satellites, not UFOs, spotted in night sky over Washington stateFox News
“What we actually saw was the 60 Starlink satellites that had just been deployed this afternoon and they were still in low orbit, and they were still clustered together so we call this, like, the Starlink train,’” Davenport told KING. “You see, like, a little chain of satellites all close together, reflecting sunlight back at us.”

For more UFO debunking, you must check out Metabunk.

Cigar shaped UFO over Angels Landing, Utah [Probably Starlink]Metabunk
That doesn’t look like a plane to me at all but I’m pretty certain that you got video of the initial satellite train of the Starlink 22 deployment. A Falcon 9 had launched from Cape Canaveral about three hours earlier. The sats are still clustered together fairly closely since they had only recently been released.

Utah Drone video of UFO [Probably an insect]Metabunk
A few days ago, a youtube video was posted on Reddit r/UFO’s showing an object flying by a drone … With these clear videos is I think we could do some calculations, or other advanced analysis? I am tending towards cgi myself. … Here’s an animation I quickly did of a bug sized object (1cm across) moving at a bug like speed (about 7km/h) towards an approaching camera moving at drone like speed (30km/h). For the FOV I used that of the DJI Phantom Pro 4, the forward camera of which is listed as 50 degrees.

Mick West, the man behind Metabunk, is incredibly thorough in his work, as can be seen by this thread investigating UFOs over Loch Ness. But perhaps there are some satellites overhead right now?

See a satellite tonightJames Darpinian
No telescope required. Click to search for viewing times at your location.

But even on a clear night you might have a problem with light pollution.

Light pollution map
A mapping application that displays light pollution related content over Microsoft Bing base layers (road and hybrid Bing maps). The primary use was to show VIIRS/DMSP data in a friendly manner, but over the many years it received also some other interesting light pollution related content like SQM/SQC measurements, World Atlas 2015 zenith brigtness, almost realtime clouds , aurora prediction and IAU observatories features.

England’s quite bright everywhere, especially where I live, though I can see just how well positioned the Kielder Observatory is now. And I’m guessing those islands in the North Sea are oil rigs? Look how so well defined Belgium’s borders are, much like the line between North and South Korea further round the globe.

Reminds me of when I tried looking for Street Views across Europe once. Are there no streets in Germany?