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You should read this for 8/28/2022:
Art, Music, and Film
Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language
On her garden apartment wall, my friend had an incredible poster of characters from The Sandman playing with kittens. (The same one can be spotted in Roseanne reruns, on Darlene’s bedroom wall). Then there was her little sculpture of a cheery-looking girl dressed in black wearing an ankh pendant and pointy boots, and a matching watch with her face on the dial. I didn’t know anything about the comics, but that poster — and especially the girl, with her wild hair, friendly face, and thick eyeliner with a squiggle in the corner that looked like the Eye of Horus — made me feel shivery and excited and scared, with all of the too-much-ness that lived in my belly coming to the surface of my skin at once. It was like the time my mom took me and my best friend to see New Kids on the Block at Reunion Arena, and I dry heaved in the parking lot. Her apartment was full of things like that, from edgelord-tastic Answer Me! zines and The Hellbound Heart down to where she’d scrawled the lyrics to Hole’s “Pretty on the Inside” on the wall.
In one Virginia school district this fall, parents will receive an email notification every time their child checks out a book. In a Florida school system, teachers are purging their classrooms of texts that mention racism, sexism, gender identity or oppression. And a Pennsylvania school district is convening a panel of adults to sign off on every title that school librarians propose buying. . . . Mounting book challenges, bans and clandestine removals, all of which reached historic highs during the past school year, are also eroding students’ freedom to read. Simultaneously, Republican legislators in at least nine states are pushing laws that force school library databases to block certain content. Everywhere, the books targeted are mostly written by and about people of color and LGBTQ individuals, according to analyses conducted by the American Library Association and PEN America.
In the 1960s, when history and English majors were among the most popular on campus, America was a very different place. This was an America where most kids memorized reams of poetry in school, where one third of the country turned on their television to watch a live broadcast of Richard III, and where listening to speeches on American history was a standard Independence Day activity. The most prominent public intellectuals of this America were people like Lionel Trilling (literary critic), Reinhold Niebuhr (theologian), and Richard Hofstader (historian). This was a world where the humanities mattered. So did humanities professors. They mattered in part, as traditionalists like to point out, because these professors were seen as the custodians of a cultural tradition to which most American intellectuals believed they were the heirs to. But they mattered for a more important reason—the reason intellectuals would care about that birthright in the first place.
Food and Drink
Krishna Léger is confident he is the only person to have smuggled fresh fish into Les Baumettes in Marseille, one of the most notorious prisons in France. With the fish he made bouillabaisse, the famous Marseillais soup. One of his fellow inmates – also from Marseille – said it was the best he had ever tasted.
These days, Léger serves bouillabaisse on the first Sunday of every month at his restaurant, Volver, just outside the pretty medieval town of Uzès, in the southern French département of the Gard.
History and Archaeology
Vin Scully was the courtly and eloquent voice of the Dodgers, and baseball, really, for 67 years. But when he died this week at the age of 94, I didn’t think so much of the no-hitters and game-winners he narrated, but of what it must have been like for anyone in LA to be stuck in traffic on the I-5 in the late afternoon, wishing they were anywhere else, then fumble through the radio dial, and have the voice of Vin Scully take you away to a game.
Science and Nature
The latest study is not the first to investigate the puzzle. Among previous work, a recent study suggested wolves were domesticated independently in east Asia and Europe, but that the latter disappeared, with only the former contributing to modern dogs.
“A key finding of our study, in contrast, is that dogs have dual ancestry,” said Bergström.
Writing in the journal Nature, Bergström and colleagues report how they analysed 72 genomes from ancient wolves that lived in Europe, Siberia and North America up to 100,000 years ago, 66 of which were sequenced for the first time. The team compared these with genomes from early and modern dogs.
The result reveal that, overall, dogs are genetically most similar to ancient Siberian wolves, although these are not direct ancestors.
Over the last two decades, Alzheimer’s drugs have been notable mostly for having a 99% failure rate in human trials. It’s not unusual for drugs that are effective in vitro and in animal models to turn out to be less than successful when used in humans, but Alzheimer’s has a record that makes the batting average in other areas look like Hall of Fame material.
And now we have a good idea of why. Because it looks like the original paper that established the amyloid plaque model as the foundation of Alzheimer’s research over the last 16 years might not just be wrong, but a deliberate fraud.
After the centre’s predicament was revealed in the Observer in May, Clayton was able to launch an appeal which, with extra aid from Cambridge University, means the centre should be able to continue its groundbreaking work for at least another five years and, hopefully, longer if further funds can be raised.
“There are so many things that we still want to learn about jays and rooks,” said Clayton. “We have shown that a jay can remember the what, where and when of a specific event. But we don’t know if it is aware it is the owner and author of a memory in the way that you and I are aware.
“We can do that because we can chat to one another about what that shared memory means. We need to find ways to determine what memory means to a bird like a jay.”
Clayton said it was also not known why jays and rooks were so conspicuously intelligent compared with other birds. “They don’t use tools in the wild, but give them a problem in captivity that requires a tool to solve it, and they will use it – or they will make one if it is not provided.”
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A few days ago, I was having a bad morning: my train tickets were expensive, my train was delayed, and my coffee was cold. But I cheered myself up by playing a game on my commute. The game is called Patriarchy Chicken, and the rules are simple: do not move out of the way for men.
Put like that, this doesn’t sound like much fun, but the joy of Patriarchy Chicken lies in its simplicity. I commute from east London to Southampton during the morning rush-hour, navigating busy tube platforms, train carriages, escalators and Waterloo Station. There are lots of bodies, moving through small spaces, walking in every different direction, trying to get to where they want to go.
And if you are a woman, you find yourself constantly dodging. Side-stepping men who are walking in your direction; being wiped out by a wheely suitcase dragged by a be-suited man; moving to the side to let faster men move past you; or just pausing to let men bustle in front of you onto the train, or into the lift, or onto the escalator, and on with their busy lives, to their important jobs.
If you don’t move out of the way for men, your commute changes. For one thing – I’m not going to lie about this – you do collide with a lot of men. This is where the name of the game comes from. You need to really commit to Patriarchy Chicken: don’t let your social instinct to step to the side kick in. Men are going to walk into you: that isn’t your fault.
Some men don’t walk straight into you, of course. Some men find their brains overridden by the unfamiliar experience of a woman refusing to give way. Last week, on a busy train platform, a man was so confused by my trajectory towards him that he stopped dead in front of me, holding eye contact, and flapped his mouth like a fish. You will find that a lot of men just… stop. It is up to you to decide how to react to this.
Pay It Forward and Make It Better
H/T MEC: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
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