Made it back home, so I can finally get around to posting this selection of reading to distract you from the temptation to hit the sales to fill the gap left by having no work until after the New Year
- The Interface Series - Back in April, Redditor _9MOTHER9HORSE9EYES9 started posting comments that were at best tangentially related to the discussions in which they appeared, and which gradually seemed to be forming part part of a larger narrative involving the CIA, psychedelic drugs, transdimensional portals, the Manson family, and much more. He, she, they, it continued for 100 posts, concluding on 7 July. Other Redditors compiled this index, and the whole thing makes for weird, unsettling, but very intriguing reading. ”The first subject to come back encased was an 8-year-old girl we had named Jingles. We started naming the kids dogs' names to try to depersonalize them, to assuage the guilt. This was done by the recommendation of CIA psychiatrists, but it didn't work very well. We all still felt like tulip. But what choice did we have? Could we just ignore the flesh interfaces and not study them? Perhaps, but you must realize that the Soviets were also studying them. That changed the whole equation. If they... Well, the ethical issues have been debated to death. What's done is done. We dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, we gave those blankets to the Indians, and we sent those kids through those portals, and now it's all just a part of history… Anyways, we sent Jingles into flesh interface and an object returned 2 minutes later, which is a pretty long time for an interface. It was a large organic sac lined with veins, vaguely resembling a human lung, about 4 feet long. We x-rayed it and saw the skeleton inside and cut it open.”
- The movie that doesn’t exist and the Redditors who think it does - Speaking of Reddit: ”Over the years, hundreds of people online have shared memories of a cheesy Nineties movie called “Shazaam”. There is no evidence that such a film was ever made. What does this tell us about the quirks of collective memory?” This is like the whole Berenstain Bears thing all over again
- What Would Happen in the Minutes and Hours After North Korea Nuked the United States? - "If you weren't paying attention to North Korea throughout 2016—a year when major nuclear powers like Russia, the US, the UK, and China were all competing for the geopolitical spotlight by doing crazy tulip—it was easy to forget that the hermit kingdom keeps on threatening to nuke its enemies… North Korea has also been working hard in 2016 to manufacture and test the related technologies that prove that its threats are credible, especially the very impressive Kwangmyongsong intercontinental ballistic missile. A missile that, in February, we found out is capable of hitting Los Angeles." And given what’s about to occupy the White House, it’s interesting to know how things might play out, given that we may not be around afterwards to learn the history of it
- The “432 Hz vs. 440 Hz” conspiracy theory - "Would you believe that there is a conspiracy theory about the way we tune musical instruments? And that this theory even involves the Nazis, chakras, and whatnot? No? Then sit down and enjoy perhaps the most ridiculous conspiracy theory of all times." I presume somebody will rise to the challenge of coming up with an even more ridiculous one before long
- Second Helpings: 2016's Underappreciated Science, Tech, and Health Stories - "At the risk of stating the obvious, it’s been a big year for news… But through all that’s happening in the world, we believe in the power of science, technology, and health stories to help us understand the world, and to help us understand ourselves. So, we’re recommending some of our favorite overlooked articles we wrote this year. We hope these “second helpings” find a little room on your holiday reading plate.” Lots of good stuff in here that you probably missed in all the noise
- Virus, Coal, and Seed: Subcutaneous Life in the Polar North - "In the summer of 2016, ghosts haunted the Arctic. The details are unsettling. A region in Siberia north of the Arctic Circle called Yamalo-Nenets experienced an unprecedented 18 straight 82 degree Fahrenheit days, and one sweltering 95 degree Fahrenheit day. For Yamalo-Nenets, this constitutes a heat wave of epic proportions. The fallout was immediate and alarming. Permafrost thawed, and then reindeer carcasses and human corpses suspended in the ice thawed as well. And then, far more alarming, the bodies released Anthrax spores, dormant bacteria encased in a tough outer shell. Since the last known Siberian anthrax outbreak occurred in 1941, the bacteria are at least 75 years old." If the North Koreans or the CIA don’t get you, maybe the dead reindeer will
- Do Not Eat, Touch, Or Even Inhale the Air Around the Manchineel Tree - "Meet America's deadliest tree. Found in Florida, of course." What’s needed is a genetically modified Christmas tree that mutates into one of these after Boxing Day to kill off any remaining relatives.
- Best of media corrections, 2016 edition - For example: ”Correction at 9:58 a.m. on 3/09/2016: Due to an oversight involving a haphazardly-installed Chrome extension during the editing process, the name Donald Trump was erroneously replaced with the phrase “Someone With Tiny Hands” when this story originally published.”
- 5 Ways the Soviet Union Could Have Won the Cold War (Or at Least Survived It) - "As we look back tomorrow at the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union, an important question should be raised: could the USSR actually have won the Cold War? Or maybe a better question: at least survived?" I wonder if the people controlling the Donald Trump Puppet Show have learned from any of these mistakes…
- #duvetknowitschristmas 2016 - Every Christmas Eve for the last few years, musician Rhodri Marsden has solicited photos on Twitter of the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements grown adults are faced with when returning to the parental home, where their bedroom has been turned into an office or a junk room and the only spare duvet cover is the one they had when they were eight. Here’s the complete collection of replies for this year, which also marks the occasion when somebody finally came up with a decent hashtag for it.
”Yes Mum, it's a total mystery why I didn't come home before now.” - @publishingnuria