Elsewhere for January 26, 2020

You should read this for 1/26/2020:

Art and Film

Via Open Culture: A Medical Student Creates Intricate Anatomical Embroideries of the Brain, Heart, Lungs & More

Methods both scientific and artistic are a source of fascination for Khan, who began taking needlework inspiration from anatomy as an undergrad studying biomedical sciences.

Open Culture: How to Draw Like an Architect: An Introduction in Six Videos

Trump unveils logo for Starfleet … er, Space Force … and Trekkers take to Twitter

Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language

Dedicated followers: collectors of book inscriptions share their notes

Food and Drink

How to cook the perfect mapo tofu, including a recipe

History and Archaeology

Selective Hearing “On the specious new history podcasts”

ABC News, Australia: Budj Bim Cultural Landscape fire reveals new sections of ancient aquatic system

The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape, which includes an elaborate series of stone-lined channels and pools set up by the Gunditjmara people to harvest eels, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List last year.
Some parts of the landscape, which also features evidence of stone dwellings, have been dated back 6,600 years — older than Egypt’s pyramids.

Ancient African skeletons hint at a “ghost lineage” of humans

Artifacts indicate that humans have occupied Shum Laka on and off for at least 30,000 years, and there are skeletons that date back thousands of years. The research team behind the new work tried to obtain DNA from 18 different skeletons and succeeded with four: a young child and an adolescent from a single grave 8,000 years old, and neighboring graves of two young boys from about 3,000 years ago.

Science and Nature

H/T Frances: Our Secret Delta “An epic story about power, beauty and how one of South Carolina’s last great places faces new threats”

Another Beautiful Image of Jupiter from Juno During a Flyby. Great Work by Gerald Eichstadt and Sean Doran


Artificial Personas and Public Discourse

We can hope that our ability to identify artificial personas keeps up with our ability to disguise them. If the arms race between deep fakes and deep-fake detectors is any guide, that’ll be hard as well. The technologies of obfuscation always seem one step ahead of the technologies of detection. And artificial personas will be designed to act exactly like real people.
In the end, any solutions have to be nontechnical. We have to recognize the limitations of online political conversation, and again prioritize face-to-face interactions. These are harder to automate, and we know the people we’re talking with are actual people. This would be a cultural shift away from the internet and text, stepping back from social media and comment threads. Today that seems like a completely unrealistic solution.


Chatbots Are a Danger to Democracy “We need to identify, disqualify and regulate chatbots before they destroy political speech.”

In the days following the disappearance of the columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Arabic-language social media erupted in support for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was widely rumored to have ordered his murder. On a single day in October, the phrase “we all have trust in Mohammed bin Salman” featured in 250,000 tweets. “We have to stand by our leader” was posted more than 60,000 times, along with 100,000 messages imploring Saudis to “Unfollow enemies of the nation.” In all likelihood, the majority of these messages were generated by chatbots.

Walt Mossberg from 2016: Mossberg: The iCloud loophole and Daring Fireball: Regarding Reuters’s Report That Apple Dropped Plan for Encrypting iCloud Backups See also Michael Tsai’s roundup: Apple Dropped Plans for End-to-End Encrypted iCloud Backups After FBI Objected

Report: Bezos’ phone uploaded GBs of personal data after getting Saudi prince’s WhatsApp message

💩🔥💰 Trumpery 💩🔥💰

Alexander Hamilton dispensed of Trump’s impeachment defense in 1788

Trump’s primary argument—issued in a response to the House impeachment trial brief and summons he received this weekend—is that the impeachment is bunk because the articles fail to allege a “violation of law or crime, let alone ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ as required by the Constitution.” The president also complains that he’s been deprived of due process, relying on the standards outlined for criminal trials.
The historical record, however, doesn’t support Trump’s position that the two processes must mirror each other in form or function. Some have even called comparisons between impeachment and criminal proceedings “bogus” and “bad-faith arguments.”

Trump’s Impeachment Brief Is a Howl of Rage

Read together, Cipollone’s October letter and this new document written with Sekulow set expectations for the president’s defense: barely contained, and barely coherent, rage—a middle finger stuck at the impeachment process, rather than any kind of organized effort to convince senators or the public that the president’s conviction would be unmerited, imprudent, or unjust.

. . .

But the president isn’t fundamentally making a legal case here. His arguments are that his phone call was “perfect,” that there’s a “deep state” conspiracy against him, and that impeachment is an effort to overturn an election. You don’t need good lawyers to make such silly arguments. You need lawyers who will yell untruths loudly, lawyers whose very presence will argue the us-against-them nature of the president’s defense.

Robert Reich: If Impeached By The House, Trump Is Literally Unpardonable | Opinion

If Trump is impeached by the House, he can never be pardoned for these crimes. He cannot pardon himself (it’s dubious that a president has this self-pardoning power in any event), and he cannot be pardoned by a future president.
Even if a subsequent president wanted to pardon Trump in the interest of, say, domestic tranquility, she could not.

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