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You should read this for 11/6/2022:
Art, Music, Fim, and Video
Books, Libraries, Writing, and Language
One of the great literary hoaxes of our time is the book spine. A staggering number of logos stare out from dust jackets, celebrating names including Crown, Vintage, Ballantine, Knopf, and Dial. But the pluralism implied by this diversity of monikers is a sham. In the U.S., nearly 100 of them belong to a single company: Penguin Random House. The rest are owned by a small handful of competitors, one of which is Simon & Schuster.
At the end of 2020, PRH, the result of a 2013 merger between Penguin and Random House, announced its intention to buy S&S.
Food and Drink
The F*ck You Buffet: Secret Family Recipes of Kids Betrayed by Their Homophobic Parents*and A Few Recipes from Good and Kind People Because Balance is Key
History and Archaeology
She was executed as a Roman Catholic threat to the English throne, but during her long years of imprisonment by her Protestant cousin, Elizabeth I, Mary, Queen of Scots was still treated as a queen, previously unpublished documents reveal.
The British Library has acquired official financial accounts for the 1580s which detail the finest foods and other luxuries given to the Scottish queen during her captivity at Wingfield Manor in Derbyshire and Tutbury Castle in Staffordshire.
Andrea Clarke, the library’s lead curator of medieval and early modern manuscripts, told the Observer that this was “deluxe imprisonment. These provide a really colourful snapshot of [Mary’s] existence in prison. The food that’s listed is incredible, from the basic – bread, butter, eggs – to a massive range of poultry, fish and meat, some of which I’d never heard of and had fun looking up.”
Politics and Society
The Department of Homeland Security launched a failed operation that ensnared hundreds, if not thousands, of U.S. protesters in what new documents show was as a sweeping, power-hungry effort before the 2020 election to bolster President Donald Trump’s spurious claims about a “terrorist organization” he accused his Democratic rivals of supporting.
An internal investigative report, made public this month by Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat of Oregon, details the findings of DHS lawyers concerning a previously undisclosed effort by Trump’s acting secretary of homeland security, Chad Wolf, to amass secret dossiers on Americans in Portland attending anti-racism protests in summer 2020 sparked by the police murder of Minneapolis father George Floyd.
Science and Nature
Most people don’t know what early pregnancy actually looks like. That complicates abortion discussions.
Referral link: Curiosity Stream delivers shows across the full spectrum of the non-fiction genre to demystify science, nature, history, technology, society, lifestyle and more. $19.99/year for thousands of films (or $2.99/month).
Whenever I’m on Twitter, I always find something that makes me laugh, or learn something. I don’t engage. And that’s one of Twitter’s problems, engagement. And those who do engage often get harassed. The content moderation is a work in progress. But striving to be safe and secure for everyone really matters. Or at least it did matter. I don’t know if it will anymore. I’m very concerned for the future of the platform. I think problems of safety and harassment will get worse before they get better.
Jessica González, CEO of Free Press, which is part of the #StopToxicTwitter coalition, said she and leaders of more than 40 other groups met with Musk earlier this week.
“He promised to retain and enforce the election-integrity measures that were on Twitter’s books before his takeover. With today’s mass layoffs, it is clear that his actions betray his words,” González said.
She said Musk was taking apart Twitter’s investment in fact checking, moderators and policy, which could allow more dangerous disinformation to spread, especially so close to Election Day.
The layoffs gutted entire teams, including the ethical AI team, which is responsible for making Twitter’s algorithms more transparent, the communications team, which — according to one estimate — went from roughly 80 people down to two, and the entire human rights organization. Other teams that were hit hard: the disability experience team, the internet technology team (which keeps Twitter up and running), marketing, social, and the “Redbird” organization for internal tools, according to the New York Times. The company’s employee resource groups were all shut down as well, employees said.
The company’s trust and safety teams were reduced by just 15 percent, tweeted Yoel Roth, who runs them. That relatively small decline reflects the brand-safety crisis that appears to be shaping up for Musk: multiple large advertisers have paused or pulled their spending amid concerns over Musk’s freewheeling style (and conspiratorial tweeting), and the head of the NAACP called for a total advertising boycott. (“They’re trying to destroy free speech in America,” was Musk’s take.)
It was grim. It was also, in any number of ways, pointless: there had been no reason to do any of this, to do it this way, to trample so carelessly over the lives and livelihoods of so many people.
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Pay It Forward and Make It Better
As a queer person myself, I felt some hesitation when I initially joined the Mama Bears Facebook group several months ago, and read post after post from parents describing “grief” after a child came out as gay or trans. If this feels hard for you, I’d think, try being your queer child. But as I began to better understand the rapid and disorienting trajectory that many of these women were on, I saw how the group’s tactics, which echoed social-science research, accomplished a task that, in America in 2022, is nothing short of remarkable: helping change minds around a seemingly intractable cultural issue.
We should eat more plants. Here’s which ones are best for the planet. Probably not the ones you think . . .
Stuff I Wrote
Alternatives to Twitter I’ve been moving away for a while, but Musk and the related exodus of my friends is the death knell for Twitter. I’m hoping to encourage people to move back to blogging. Twitter at its best was a variant of the long comments threads of blogs, which often crossed servers to include comments on other blogs. I’m contemplating inviting friends to the Slack I use mostly for consulting work and tech support. I’m really not finding the kind of deep thread I favored on Twitter on the alternatives, though I am still participating in several.
Buy me a Coffee! If you find this site interesting, and would like to see more, buy me a coffee. While I may actually buy coffee, I’ll probably buy books to review.
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