Elsewhere for May 5, 2019

You should read this for 5/5/2019:

Art and Film

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

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

Books, Writing, and Language

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

Food and Drink

Deconstructing Australia’s Most Instagrammed Dessert

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

History and Archaeology

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

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

And see also: New Study Tracks Domesticated Horses Over Time

Science and Nature

Why nightingales are snubbing Berkeley Square for the Tiergarten

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

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

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


Brent Simmons: Freedom

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

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

Trump Shut Programs to Counter Violent Extremism

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

The US posted a $234 billion budget deficit last month, the biggest one-month deficit in history
James Comey: How Trump Co-opts Leaders Like Bill Barr

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

This is An Insanely Big Deal

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

Pay It Forward and Make It Better

How one woman beat mining giants and saved rare snow leopards

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