A very poignant account of one family’s grief and search for meaning in the twenty years since 9/11. It’s hard to believe it was that long ago. An unthinkable tragedy.
I thought these two recent, very visual articles from The New York Times went together well.
At this Instagram hot spot, all the world’s a stage (and the buffalo’s a prop) – The New York Times
With that, the visitors called it a wrap, satisfied they had gotten the perfect photographs of the bucolic scene. Later, the images would pop up across the Chinese internet, with captions like, “Going to work in the morning light.” A few, however, were more honest in their tags: #fakeactionshot. For the farmer (and the buffalo) had only been performing for the tourists and their cameras.
Such staged photo shoots have become the specialty of Xiapu County, a peninsula of fishing villages, beaches and lush hills known as one of China’s top viral check-in points. It is a rural Epcot on the East China Sea, a visual factory where amateur photographers churn out photogenic evidence of an experience that they never had — and that their subjects aren’t having either.
That’s a great line. I mean, look at this.
How crowded are America’s national parks? See for yourself. – The New York Times
Americans are flocking to national parks in record numbers, in many cases leading to long lines and overcrowded facilities. Here’s what four parks looked like over the holiday weekend.
I love the video clip they choose to head up that article — a tired, bored toddler not wanting to cooperate with the obligatory selfie, whilst others hang around, waiting their turn to take the same photo.
I was reading about the changing popularity of boys’ and girls’ names in Minnesota — the rise of Emersyn, Remi, and Saylor, for instance; the decline of Stanley — and within the comments were links to these crazy videos showcasing some of the more unusual names for people in Utah.
Mormon Girls Say: Utah Names – YouTube
100% authentic Utah names. We searched far and wide for the latest and greatest in Utah’s naming trends, and we were not disappointed…
But wait, there’s more.
Mormon Girls Say: Utah Names Part 2: Boy Names – YouTube
100% Authentic Utah names. You asked, we delivered.
Perhaps these are the loopy opposites of Deborah Roberts’s artwork.
Art shippers face ‘teething problems’ transporting works to Europe after Brexit – The Art Newspaper
Some air freight crates are being broken open by customs officials in EU, but UK lockdown is posing greater problems, members of the trade say.
US Capitol’s works of art survive amid right-wing rampage in Washington – The Art Newspaper
The authorities say that cleaning and conservation will be needed, however, after art was damaged by tear gas, pepper spray and fire extinguishers.
The Nazi art dealer who supplied Hermann Göring and operated in a shadowy art underworld after the war – The Art Newspaper
A new book by Jonathan Petropoulos explores Bruno Lohse’s devotion to Hitler’s number two.
Has anyone checked for any radio signals being transmitted to Jupiter?
DPS Aero Bureau encounters monolith in Red Rock Country – DPS News
Official Statement from the Bureau of Land Management: “Although we can’t comment on active investigations, the Bureau of Land Management would like to remind public land visitors that using, occupying, or developing the public lands or their resources without a required authorization is illegal, no matter what planet you are from.”
A towering metallic monolith was just discovered in a remote area of Utah – Colossal
As of Tuesday morning, it’s still unknown who created the structure, although internet sleuths who located the object on Google Earth suggest it may have been in existence for more than five years.
Even Utah’s mysterious monolith may be no match for Google Earth – The Verge
A Utah DPS public affairs officer didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the supposed location of the monolith. And I’m not printing the alleged coordinates beyond confirming that the place is remote and highly inhospitable. In all seriousness: please don’t visit the mysterious Utah monolith.
That said, the monolith-hunting process is impressive in its own right. And the evidence for its location, put forward by Reddit user Tim Slane, is strong. Slane pinpointed the coordinates of a small redstone canyon with a narrow gap that closely matches the social media photos. Satellite images from Google Earth reveal something in the middle: a hard-to-see object that casts a sharp, tall, and narrow shadow across the ground. The object seems relatively new. Google Earth photos from 2013 and mid-2015 show no trace of it, but it’s clearly visible by October of 2016, when the surrounding ground has also been apparently cleared of scrub.
Looks like the aliens have come back for their property.
Mysterious metal monolith in Utah disappears days after it was discovered – Sky News
On Facebook, the bureau said: “We have received credible reports that the illegally installed structure, referred to as the ‘monolith’ has been removed from Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public lands by an unknown party.”
OK, so not aliens.
Earthlings, it seems, not aliens, removed the Utah monolith – The New York Times
He did not photograph the men who took down the sculpture, saying he “didn’t want to start a confrontation by bringing out my camera and putting it in their face — especially since I agreed with what they were doing.” But a friend who accompanied him on the trip, Michael James Newlands, 38, of Denver, took a few quick photographs with his cellphone.
2020 continues to be very 2020.
Mystery monolith identical to one which disappeared in US desert reappears in Europe – Mirror Online
The monolith was spotted on Batca Doamnei Hill in the city of Piatra Neamt in Romania’s north-eastern Neamt County on November 26. Authorities said the owner of the property is still unknown but whoever propped the monument up should have sought permission from the country’s Ministry of Culture.
Now that one’s gone, too.
Utah monolith copycat appeared in Romania, but just as quickly disappeared – Hyperallergic
Shortly before the sudden disappearance of the Utah monolith on the evening of November 27, a similar sculpture popped up near a fortress in the Romanian city of Piatra Neamt. The monolith has since disappeared, and police in Piatra Neamt have launched an investigation into the illegally-installed sculpture.
Well, they voted. And counted. And waited.
Amid post-election anxiety, the internet copes with memes – Hyperallergic
An entire genre of internet memes emerged in the past few days to parody the unbearable slowness of Nevada’s vote count. Final results in the Silver State might not be announced until Saturday or Sunday, according to election officials. Without offending the dedicated poll workers and volunteers who are counting the votes in Nevada, the memes flooding the internet are fair in their assessment that the state is taking its sweet time to announce its election results.
Nation never wants to see color red or blue ever again – The Onion
Exhausted after 48 hours of following cable news coverage and continually refreshing their web browsers, Americans from all 50 states and the District of Columbia told reporters Thursday they do not want to see the color red or the color blue in any context or for any reason ever again.
And eventually —
Joe Biden captures the White House – The Economist
The Republican president falsely claims to have won the election, says it is rigged and has filed multiple lawsuits to try to disrupt the vote-count. But however he may rage he is only the fourth president in a century to have failed to win re-election. He is also the first president since Benjamin Harrison, in 1892, to have lost the popular vote twice. That underlines not only Mr Trump’s unpopularity but also the advantages his party draws from America’s electoral system.
At the moment Biden has 77,083,979 votes to Trump’s 72,159,215. You would think, given the last four years, that it would have been a landslide.
Lest we forget the horrors: A catalog of Trump’s worst cruelties, collusions, corruptions, and crimes: The complete listing (so far): Atrocities 1- 967 – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
Early in President Trump’s term, McSweeney’s editors began to catalog the head-spinning number of misdeeds coming from his administration. We called this list a collection of Trump’s cruelties, collusions, and crimes, and it felt urgent then to track them, to ensure these horrors — happening almost daily — would not be forgotten.
But I wonder how many of those 967 (!) misdeeds have simply been dismissed as fake news by his base.
What is the internet doing to boomers’ brains? – HuffPost UK
It has become a familiar story: The older relative, the intensifying Fox News habit, the alarming Facebook posts, the inevitable detachment from reality. Losing a parent to the conservative cyber-swamp is such a common experience among millennials that it has produced an entire sub-genre of documentaries, books and online support groups. What it has not produced, however, is a satisfying answer to a simple question: What is the internet doing to our parents’ brains?
You can’t just blame Facebook or ‘the internet’ for this, though.
The misinformation media machine amplifying Trump’s election lies – The Guardian
Trump himself is the largest source of election misinformation; the president has barely addressed the public since Tuesday except to share lies and misinformation about the election. But his message attacking the electoral process is being amplified by a host of rightwing media outlets and pundits who appear to be jockeying to replace Fox News as the outlet of choice for Trumpists – and metastasizing on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.
What a strange country. But should we have been surprised?
I guess I just expected a little more from this country – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
How can a nation capable of turning the simple act of revealing the gender of your child into a wildfire that burns down an entire state be so insistent on screwing things up? How could a country, one that birthed the timeless love story of 30 brown-haired white guys named Chad competing in an elimination contest for the chance to marry a woman, lack the emotional depth required to make the right decision for the future of all of us? How could a people that had to be explicitly told not to eat Tide Pods be so short-sighted? Or are some things simply beyond explanation?
Trump’s not taking this loss well, to say the least.
Trump is attempting a coup in plain sight – Vox
The Trump administration’s current strategy is to go to court to try and get votes for Biden ruled illegitimate, and that strategy explicitly rests on Trump’s appointees honoring a debt the administration, at least, believes they owe. One of his legal advisers said, “We’re waiting for the United States Supreme Court — of which the President has nominated three justices — to step in and do something. And hopefully Amy Coney Barrett will come through.”
Trump won’t accept defeat. Ever. – The Atlantic
The Trump family being what it is, expect the illegitimacy myth to be exploited for commercial purposes too. Paradoxically, Trump’s loss may well increase the loyalty of his most ardent fans, who will be angry that he has been unfairly deprived of his rightful role. They will now become loyal purchasers of flags, ties, MAGA hats, maybe even degrees at a revived Trump University. They could become the customer base for Trump TV, a media company that will set itself up as the rival to his brand-new enemies on Fox. Maybe they will buy tickets to rallies and other public events where he plays familiar old hits such as “Lock Her Up” and “Stop the Count.”
He’ll be kept busy, when eventually he does go.
6 lawsuits Donald Trump is going to have to deal with when he leaves office – CNN
Aside from those half-dozen suits is the question of whether Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice for his attempts to impede and inhibit the investigation into the 2016 election and Russia’s role in it by special counsel Robert Mueller. In a back-and-forth during congressional testimony in July 2019, Mueller, a former FBI director, suggested that he believed Trump could be charged once he left office.
But will that really be the end of him?
Trump, who never admits defeat, mulls how to keep up fight – AP News
Would Trump ever concede? “I doubt it,” said Trump’s longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone, whose prison sentence was commuted by Trump in July. Stone asserted that Biden, as a result, will have “a cloud over his presidency with half the people in the country believing that he was illegitimately elected.” Allies suggested that if Trump wants to launch a media empire in coming years, he has an incentive to prolong the drama. So, too, if he intends to keep the door open to a possible 2024 comeback — he would be only a year older than Biden is now.
What a horrid thought.
What if Trump won’t leave the White House? A hostage negotiator, an animal-control officer, and a toddler whisperer have advice – The Boston Globe
Give him a five-minute warning, use food as a lure, remind him he has something to live for.
Photo Saul Loeb
As we continue to wait for the final result of that election, here’s Liz Scheltens from Vox on why this can take so long.
How the US counts votes – Vox
In this video, we take a comprehensive deep dive into how states count votes. Each of the 3,141 counties in the US has its own rules, but there are some basic steps that are mostly the same across the country. Whether you’re voting in person early, on election day, by mail, or dropping off your ballot, we break down some of the differences and similarities in how and when states collect, verify, process, and count ballots.
Meanwhile, here’s Matt Webb in the UK.
What it’s like to vote in the UK – Interconnected
I go to a booth and fill in the voting slip. There are always these fat, stubby pencils, tied to the inside of the booth. The booths are flimsy and made of wood. They’re tall and open on the back. It turns out that the main supplier of all this kit is Shaw’s Election Supplies and they’ve been trading continuously since 1750. They sell everything from ballot boxes to signage to vote counting trays. Here are the stubby pencils I’m talking about. 19 quid for a 100 pack.
Photo Eve Edelheit
Well, it’s just gone 13:15 GMT and there’s no clear winner — or even a consensus on where we are. The BBC are saying it’s currently 224 to Biden and 213 to Trump …
… whereas The New York Times have Biden at 227 …
… and The Guardian have him at a lofty 238.
Still not enough yet, though. The wait continues. Here’s a summary.
A helpful clarification from the BBC.
US election 2020: Why do different news sites have different tallies? – BBC News
This is because some news sites have projected wins in Arizona (meaning an extra 11 electoral college votes) and Wisconsin (10 electoral college votes) for Joe Biden. The BBC still considers these too early to project. … In Wisconsin, 99% of the votes have been counted, with the candidates neck and neck. In Arizona, 85% of votes have been counted, and Biden is leading with 51% of the votes, with Trump on 48%.
A big day in the USA, with the whole world watching, hoping they don’t mess it up again.
Trump and Biden pictured through the years – BBC News
President Donald Trump, 74, and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, 77, each have more than seven decades of personal and professional experience behind them.
Experience of what, though? That’s the question.
I couldn’t bring myself to watch much of that horrendous “presidential” “debate”. He seems so full of greed and hate it’s literally driven him insane. A show best left for others to endure.
“This is so unpresidential”: Notes from the worst debate in American history – The New Yorker
It was a joke, a mess, a disaster. A “shit show,” a “dumpster fire,” a national humiliation. No matter how bad you thought the debate would be, it was worse. Way worse. Trump shouted, he bullied, he hectored, he lied, and he interrupted, over and over again.
Chris Wallace struggled to rein In an unruly Trump at first debate – The New York Times
“The country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions,” Mr. Wallace said, directly asking Mr. Trump to yield a higher civic ideal. “I’m appealing to you, sir, to do it.” “And him, too?” the president replied defiantly, nodding at Mr. Biden. “Well, frankly, you’ve been doing more interrupting,” Mr. Wallace replied.
Trump told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” after being asked to condemn white supremacists – BuzzFeed News
Trump’s comments are part of his campaign’s pattern of dog whistles and overt appeals to violent groups, white supremacists, and his most fervent supporters to take matters into their own hands and defend him and his divisive ideologies at all costs.
Trump’s closing debate argument was a blizzard of lies about mail voting – Vice
There’s overwhelming evidence and widespread agreement from voting experts that widespread voting fraud is extremely rare. But Trump has spent months attacking the process — while his lawyers fight in the courts to make sure that more mail voters will be disenfranchised by fighting any rule changes that would make their votes count.
CNN fact-checked the presidential debate. It was almost all about Trump’s lies. – Vox
The problem is not just that Trump lied a lot during the debate, or that he lies a lot in his public statements. It’s that Trump doesn’t seem to care at all for the truth. What he says is only meant to make him look good. And when the president repeats the sorts of lies he told Tuesday night, they begin to calcify, lingering despite fact-checks — making it perpetually difficult to say if he’s telling the truth or merely reciting self-serving bullshit.
But I enjoyed spending a little time watching a different debate from a more civilised, polite age. No, not the suave JFK/pasty Nixon one from 1960, but the one 20 years after that, with the first two US presidents I remember as a kid, Carter and Reagan.
Presidential Debate, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan – C-SPAN
This was the only presidential candidates debate with both major party candidates during the 1980 campaign. They responded to questions from a panel of journalists on issues including defense preparedness and the economy. The debate included remarks by President Jimmy Carter concerning the views of his daughter Amy on arms control, which were widely criticized following the debate.
It was interesting to see Reagan start as he meant to go on, with all that ‘Leader of the Free World’ stuff. It’s literally the first thing he talks about. Ah, those were the days.
The US Presidential election is just around the corner, and here, via FlowingData, are a couple of links to get us started.
FiveThirtyEight launches 2020 election forecast – FlowingData
The election is coming. FiveThirtyEight just launched their forecast with a look at the numbers from several angles. Maps, histograms, beeswarms, and line charts, oh my.
From across the USA …
These pictures show just how large the protests against police brutality really are – Buzzfeed News
Across major cities and small towns, people turned out en masse to demonstrate against the police killing of George Floyd and to call for change in the US.
… and across the decades …
This is what 100 years of racial protest looks like in America – Buzzfeed News
From the 1917 silent protests in the streets of Manhattan to the recent national unrest following the killing of George Floyd, these pictures capture the long and tumultuous struggle for racial justice in the US.
… to cities all around the world, right now.
Images from a worldwide protest movement – The Atlantic
Over the weekend, demonstrations took place around the world, with thousands of people outside the United States marching to show solidarity with American protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. In many places, marchers also voiced their anger about systemic racism and police brutality within their own countries.
From our streets, to our museums …
‘Time to give back the swag, guys!’ British Museum unleashes Twitter storm with statement on Black Lives Matter – The Art Newspaper
“Look, I love you guys, but maybe you ought to sit this one out,” said one Twitter user, Jeff Pearce, a novelist and historian. “Unless you plan to return the looted Ethiopian treasures, the stolen Elgin Marbles and permanently return the Benin Bronzes.”
… and living rooms.
Little Britain pulled from iPlayer and Netflix because ‘times have changed’ – BBC News
In 2017, Lucas said: “If I could go back and do Little Britain again, I wouldn’t make those jokes about transvestites. I wouldn’t play black characters. Basically, I wouldn’t make that show now. It would upset people. We made a more cruel kind of comedy than I’d do now.” Walliams has also said he would “definitely do it differently” in today’s cultural landscape.
Times may have changed for some, but change is moving too slowly for others.
Windrush scandal: only 60 victims given compensation so far – The Guardian
Only 60 people have received Windrush compensation payments during the first year of the scheme’s operation, with just £360,000 distributed from a fund officials expected might be required to pay out between £200m and £500m.
I know that the coronavirus has dominated articles I’ve shared on this blog recently, but that’s pretty much all I can find to read. I’ve not posted anything about data protection in a while, so here’s something from the USA—albeit still about that virus. (via Boing Boing)
Small businesses seeking loans may have had personal data exposed – CNBC
The SBA notified nearly 8,000 business owners of the potential inadvertent disclosure of information, which included names, Social Security numbers, tax identification numbers, addresses, dates of birth, email, phone numbers, marital and citizenship status, household size, income, disclosure inquiry and financial and insurance information, according to a letter sent to business owners, which CNBC obtained. […]
If the user attempted to hit the page back button, he or she may have seen information that belonged to another business owner, not their own. The official said that 4 million small business owners applied for $383 billion in aid via the EIDL program and emergency grants. The two programs are funded for just $17 billion.
The affected businesses have been offered identity theft protection services for a year.
Photos: Life in the coronavirus era – The Atlantic
In an all-out effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, health and government officials worldwide have mandated travel restrictions, closed schools and businesses, and set limits on public gatherings. People have also been urged to practice social distancing in public spaces, and to isolate themselves at home as much as possible. This rapid and widespread shift in rules and behavior has left much of the world looking very different than it did a few months ago, with emptied streets, schools, workplaces, and restaurants, and almost everyone staying home.
Lori Spencer visits her mom, Judie Shape, 81, who Spencer said had tested positive for the coronavirus, at Life Care Center of Kirkland, the Seattle-area nursing home at the epicenter of one of the biggest coronavirus outbreaks in the United States, in Kirkland, Washington, on March 11, 2020.
Caidence Miller, a fourth grader at Cottage Lake Elementary, tries to figure out assignment instructions without working speakers on his laptop as he and his grandmother, Chrissy Brackett, navigate the online-learning system the Northshore School District will use for two weeks because of coronavirus concerns, at Brackett’s home in Woodinville, Washington, on March 11, 2020.
A woman makes a video call with her smartphone inside her home after the Italian government clamped down on public events, closed bars, restaurants, and schools, imposed travel restrictions, and advised citizens to stay at home in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus on March 15, 2020, in Turin, Italy.
A man wearing a mask looks up at a couple looking out of a house window on the 15th day of quarantine in San Fiorano, one of the small towns in northern Italy that has been on lockdown since February, in this picture taken by schoolteacher Marzio Toniolo on March 6, 2020.
Featured image: A student attends an online class at home as students’ return to school has been delayed in Fuyang, Anhui province, China, on March 2, 2020.
Sadly, I think there’ll be plenty of time for more of these photos.
Scientists warn we may need to live with social distancing for a year or more – Vox
As Kucharski, a top expert on this situation, sees it, “this virus is going to be circulating, potentially for a year or two, so we need to be thinking on those time scales. There are no good options here. Every scenario you can think of playing out has some really hefty downsides. … At the moment, it seems the only way to sustainably reduce transmission are really severe unsustainable measures.”
So it seems they’re going to pick the wrong one again.
Hillary Clinton: “Incredible” Elizabeth Warren lost because she’s a woman – Vanity Fair
“I think we made some progress, but there still was a lot of the unconscious bias and the gendered language that has been used around the women candidates,” Clinton said. “I think it affected all of the women that ran.”
Elizabeth Warren and her supporters now have tremendous power to shape the rest of the primary – Time
Warren is personally beloved by her team, and as the news sunk in, staffers described a “sense of sadness,” “crying,” and an overwhelming feeling that that the best candidate for President had been let down. One staffer describes it this way: “You’ve got a 78-year old heart attack survivor and a 77-year old who’s clearly sundowning. And hey, you’ve got someone who might be broadly acceptable to both factions, but.. what? She’s a woman? Oops, never mind.”
I was surprised to read, however, that Warren’s in her 70s too. I thought part of her appeal, apart from being the most competent, was that she was of a more normal age for such a job—that is, below retirement age, whatever that is nowadays.
But what is normal? I was curious to find out the ages of other such people. It makes for interesting reading.
- Bernie Sanders is 78
- Joe Biden is 77
- Donald Trump is 73
- Bill Clinton is 73
- Hillary Clinton is 72
- Elizabeth Warren is 70
- Gordon Brown is 69
- Vladimir Putin is 67
- Tony Blair is 66
- Angela Merkel is 65
- Theresa May is 63
- Barack Obama is 58
- Boris Johnson is 55
- Justin Trudeau is 48
- Emmanuel Macron is 42
- Leo Varadkar is 41
- Jacinda Arden is 39
Taking statistics out of context to push a particular agenda is nothing new. But it’s nice to see a pushback.
Fixing the ‘impeach this’ map with a transition to a cartogram
As discussed previously, the “impeach this” map has some issues. Mainly, it equates land area to votes, which makes for a lot of visual attention to counties that are big even though not many people live in them. So, Karim Douïeb used a clever transition to change the bivariate map to a cartogram. Now you can have a dual view.
We just need more of this kind of thing over here. For instance:
Show this chart to anyone who says Brexit is the ‘will of the British people’
This chart is not an entirely convincing argument against Leave or Remain, but it does illustrate that ‘the 52 per cent’ and ‘the 48 per cent’ actually constitute much smaller proportions of the UK population than the figure might imply.
‘No way to prevent this,’ says only nation where this regularly happens
DAYTON, OH—In the hours following a violent rampage in Ohio in which a lone attacker killed 10 individuals and injured 27 others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Sunday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place.
‘No way to prevent this,’ says only nation where this regularly happens
EL PASO, TX—In the hours following a violent rampage in Texas in which a lone attacker killed 20 individuals and injured 26 others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Sunday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place.
The ‘Recommended Stories’ section on each of those pages really drives the point home.
It’s difficult for other countries to understand why this is still such an issue.
America’s mass shootings are a political choice
Empirically, the US is an outlier on gun violence because it is an outlier on gun access. Americans have easier access not just to guns, but specifically to military-designed semi-automatic weapons with large magazines that are able to murder with efficiency.
Getting rid of those weapons might not solve all the problems, but it’s a start, surely.
Here’s an unusual way of representing population growth. Pedro M Cruz, from Northeastern University in Boston, takes two centuries of US census data and shows the increasing population as rings of a tree, one for each decade.
For a radical new perspective on immigration, picture the US as an ancient tree
According to Cruz, the tree metaphor ‘carries the idea that these marks in the past are immutable’ and it ‘embodies the concept that all cells contributed to the organism’s growth’. As with so many renderings of US history, indigenous populations are conspicuously absent from the tableau. Still, Cruz’s skilfully deployed data doubles as a resonant work of cultural commentary, offering a rich and often surprising look at the ever-evolving makeup of the country.
There’s more information on the video’s Vimeo page.
Simulated dendrochronology of U.S. immigration (1830-2015)
Trees in their natural setting have annual growth rings that reflect varying environmental conditions; the rings’ forms are neither perfect circles nor ellipses. The algorithm is inspired by this variation and accordingly deposits immigrant cells in specific directions depending on the geographic origin of the immigrant. Rings that are more skewed toward the country’s East, for example, show more immigration from Europe, while rings skewed South show more immigration from Latin America. With this, it is possible to observe the quantity of immigration through the thickness of the rings. The color of the cells corresponds to specific cultural-geographical regions.
I’ve always thought of libraries as places that have existed forever, like cemeteries, or shoe shops — they’re just a necessary part of a normal society, right? (It’s thought the Library of Alexandria was founded as long ago as 285 BC, though its current incarnation is only 16 years old and closes at 4 pm today.)
But libraries haven’t always been around for everybody.
A history of the American public library
CityLab’s visual storyteller Ariel Aberg-Riger shares the story of how America’s public libraries came to be, and their uneven history of serving all who need them.
That’s all a world away from the history of libraries over here, in our grand stately piles.
What was the real purpose of the English country house library?
In Mark Purcell’s all-encompassing study, The Country House Library, every aspect of this topic is researched and addressed on an epic, Girouardian scale. Whereas architectural and art historians are often uninterested in the actual books found in historic architect-designed libraries, Purcell argues it is impossible to separate them from a consideration of situation, appearance and design. Demolishing the commonplace belief that volumes were “bought by the yard”, he offers an opportunity for historians to think afresh about the way collections were read and valued within the elusive confines of the country house library.
A gripping chapter covers the early 19th-century bibliomania that culminated in the great sale of the Third Duke of Roxburghe’s library in June 1812, described as a chivalric tournament between Earl Spencer, the Marquess of Blandford and the Sixth Duke of Devonshire. Purcell gives an excellent account of the arc of sales reflecting the decline in the fortunes of the landowning classes after the late 1880s. In 1966, Shane Leslie wrote in his memoirs, Long Shadows: “The empty shelves at Blenheim, Sledmere and Althorp gave me the ghastly gasp as coffins and vaults ravaged by body-snatchers.”
Here’s an idea of how to make more use of our present-day libraries.
How to be a library archive tourist
When I’m traveling and am at a loss for how to spend my time, I look up as many libraries I can in the area I’ll be traveling to, and I check to see if they have special collections. Then I make an appointment with the library to visit those special collections, and usually it means I get to spend a day in a quiet, climate-controlled room with cool old documents. It’s like a museum but with no people, and where you have to do all the work, which is honestly my idea of a perfect vacation.
But what of the future? As this high-tech university library shows (designed, coincidentally, by Snøhetta, the Norwegian architecture firm behind the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt), those old values of accessibility are still key.
A robot-filled, architectural marvel in North Carolina is the library of the future
Public libraries remain a critical public resource, but as budgets have been slashed and information digitized over the last several decades, many have been forced to adapt from book-storage rooms to high-tech public spaces. Indeed, libraries in urban areas remain an important space for those residents with limited incomes, education, and access to resources. By reimagining the relationship between information and technology and how humans interact with both, Hunt’s designers created a unique space in which the community can learn, create, or simply gather. […]
“Whether or not you’re talking about a library focused on digital technology or on books or papyri, as the ancient libraries were, the most important thing is to make a library open and accessible,” he adds, noting that books weren’t invented until centuries after the first libraries came about. “[Libraries] had museums, they had lounges, they were interactive and in a very vibrant way,” he says, “more like libraries of the future.”
And yes, I know this is a bookshop and not a library, but you must check it out.
Mirrored Chinese bookstore offers readers a maze of discovery
The newest of China’s surreal mirrored bookstores is now open in Chongqing, offering a disorienting, Escher-like experience to all who enter. Designed by X+Living, the Chongqing Zhongshuge Bookstore leads visitors through an unassuming glass facade on the third floor of Zodi Plaza and into a reflective maze full of reading materials waiting to be discovered.
Anyone else seeing Daleks there?
Polarisation seems to be the political theme, these days.
Socialists strengthen hold in Spain election
Spain’s Socialist Party strengthened its hold on the government on Sunday in the country’s third national election since 2015, with nearly complete results showing growing political polarization and party fragmentation. … An anti-immigration and ultranationalist party, Vox, won its first seats in Parliament, a major shift in a country that long appeared to be immune to the spread of far-right movements across Europe, in part because of the legacy of the Francisco Franco dictatorship.
This doesn’t sound good.
Benin’s government has shut the internet ahead of an election that has no opposition
The West African nation now joins the list of African states, including Sudan, DR Congo, and Egypt who have limited online access ahead of key elections, political referenda, or anti-government protests this year. Activists say the cut-offs usually have significant economic, political, and social costs, particularly given how popular messaging apps like WhatsApp are crucial for voters, journalists, and election observers.
Some places are getting it right, though.
It only takes India a month to set up a better election than the US
To be sure, the Indian election is a thing of wonder. Its scale alone is mind-boggling: More than a million polling stations, 900 million voters, nearly 2,300 parties. It is also an impressive work of democratic logistics that can teach a few lessons to the rest of the world, including countries with far more resources, like the US.
The French Ambassador is retiring today. Here’s what he really thinks about Washington.
Let’s look at the dogma of the previous period. For instance, free trade. It’s over. Trump is doing it in his own way. Brutal, a bit primitive, but in a sense he’s right. What he’s doing with China should have been done, maybe in a different way, but should have been done before. Trump has felt Americans’ fatigue, but [Barack] Obama also did. The role of the United States as a policeman of the world, it’s over. Obama started, Trump really pursued it. You saw it in Ukraine. You are seeing it every day in Syria. People here faint when you discuss NATO, but when he said, “Why should we defend Montenegro?,” it’s a genuine question. I know that people at Brookings or the Atlantic Council will faint again, but really yes, why, why should you?