The Community Weblog. In byte-sized chunks.

Boron is a Subdued Element...

Kaycie D. is an animator and artist who grew up on Disney films and has used that inspiration to create her own anthropomorphized illustrations of the chemical elements.

Top 10 Medieval Butt-Licking Cats

The nastiest habit of medieval cats seen via illuminated manuscripts.

Books about women don't win big awards: some data

"When women win literary awards for fiction it's usually for writing from a male perspective and/or about men. The more prestigious the award, the more likely the subject of the narrative will be male. I analysed the last 15 years' results for half a dozen book-length fiction awards: Pulitzer Prize, Man Booker Prize, National Book Award, National Book Critics' Circle Award, Hugo Award, and Newbery Medal." Nicola Griffith notes the absence of stories about women from prize-winning novels--even when those novels are written by women. The Seattle Review of Books adds an interview with Griffith on the writing and aftermath of her original blog post.

Taking It Slow, Until She Took Charge

A delightful story of a 50-something couple, formerly single and living with their parents, who have found love.

Potential MH370 wreckage found

Potential MH370 wreckage found Wreckage of an actuator from a Boeing 777 has washed ashore on the island of Reunion.

It appears to be encrusted in sea life, so it's been floating in the sea for some time. Clearly it could have floated this far in 16 month from the theorized crash area – but will confirming its origins give searchers any insight into the missing planes final resting place? Could technology work this backwards?

Previously and previously.

Jamestown Rediscovery

Yesterday, the Jamestown Rediscovery and the Smithsonian Institution announced that they had identified the remains of Capt. Gabriel Archer, Rev. Robert Hunt, Sir Ferdinando Wainman and Capt. William West, four of the earliest leaders of the Jamestowne settlement. Among Archer's remnants was a small silver box that researchers have identified as a Roman Catholic reliquary.

In the Closet in Early America

Unearthing Jamestown's Leaders, and a Mystery

3-Dimensional view of the Jamestown Dig

Can't keep a secret

Who first said Motherf$cker on TV? What was with Lesbian Kiss Episodes? Are Crossover Episodes ever a good idea? Why do Bottle Episodes make good television? What was Cousin Oliver Syndrome?

Vulture's Secret History of Televsion is a weekly production of New York Magazine's website.

"If measured on the U.S. political spectrum, he'd be 'left of center.'"

The Making of Leopoldo López: A closer look at the democratic bona fides of the rock star of Venezuela's opposition.

Leopoldo López, previously.

What? And Give Up Show Business?

(Or I CAN Get Arrested in This Town!) Aspiring actor Jason Stange nailed the audition for the role of an evil doctor in the forthcoming horror film Marla Mae. The low budget production was shot in Olympia Washington, where the local paper took an interest.

Unfortunately, the US Marshals Service apparently reads the Olympian, and arrested Stange on a fugitive warrant. Stange, convicted of armed bank robbery in 2006, had walked away from a work release program in Spokane in 2014 and managed to remain below the radar prior to... appearing as the villain in a horror movie. "Honestly, he's been really good. He's been on time, professional." said director and star Lisa Van Dam-Bates. Stange's arrest came on the last day of filming, his part was effectively complete, and Van Dam-Bates reports that he will still appear in the film when it is released in 2016. No word yet on when Stange himself will be released.

Hollywood and Vine

Logan Paul has conquered the internet, but he can't figure out how to conquer the world

"That was definitely an E-ticket!"

"Roger roll, Discovery." The sweet, sweet sounds of NASA mission control audio snippets, edited for your sampling and ringtone pleasure as MP3 and M4R downloads.

I run a university. I'm also an Uber driver.

Lawrence Schall, the President of Oglethorpe University, decided to learn more about Uber by becoming a driver in his free time. He writes: "I wanted to understand the sharing economy. Instead, I got schooled in the failures of Atlanta's public transit system. . . . I assumed the people who used Uber fell into three basic categories: young people (including lots of students at my own university) responsibly avoiding drinking and driving on nights out, business people who had switched to Uber for a faster response and lower cost, and folks like me who occasionally used Uber to avoid the hassles of traffic, parking or just because it's the cool new thing to do. Yet in my dozen-plus Uber forays thus far, I've encountered no one who fits those categories."

"Instead, with the exception of my first rider (who turned out to be one of my students), my riders have been on their way to work or to a vital appointments. Most often, my rides have been to and from the MARTA train station — about a $5 fare to a $2.50 ride on Atlanta's meager public transportation system. Instead of getting a glimpse into the new economy, I was getting full exposure to the burdens of the old economy — specifically, how hard it is for regular working people to make it from their home or apartment to a job every day."

When public transportation fails to take people where they need to go, the result is often users turning to Uber, as a recent NYT OpEd points out. But where does that leave riders who are increasingly discovering that Uber's commitment to accessibility is less than certain?

Blind Wisc. man says Uber refused seeing-eye dog

"David Tolmie said his Uber driver turned him away last Thursday because the driver did not want the dog, Divit, to scratch his leather seats, NBC station WMTV reported."
Uber and the lawlessness of 'sharing economy' corporates
"Consistently, these nullifying companies claim they are striking a blow against regulations they consider "out-of-date" or "anti-innovation". Their major innovation, however, is strategic and manipulative, and it's meant to undermine local needs and effective governance. . . . Uber has ignored advocates for the blind, and other disabled persons, when they claim Uber's drivers discriminate against them. In response to a lawsuit by the National Federation of the Blind, Uber bluntly asserts that it's merely a communication platform, not the type of employer meant to be covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Some judges and regulators accept that reasoning; others reject it. But the larger lesson is clear: Uber's aggressive efforts to avoid or evade disability laws are nothing less than a form of corporate nullification, as menacing to the rule of law as defiance of civil rights laws in the days after courts ruled against racial segregation in the US."
Disability Rights Advocates Call Out Uber Over Accessibility Issues
"Uber still has a long way to go in order to make its transportation network fully accessible to New Yorkers in wheelchairs, a disability rights organization said ahead of Sunday's 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The United Spinal Association last week released a television ad and a series of mailers criticizing Uber in the midst of tense negotiations between the city and the app ahead of a City Council vote concerning whether the service would face an expansion cap in New York. "I'm so shocked about how much discrimination there is in New York City," Dustin Jones, a disability rights advocate, says in the video. "Getting around the city in a wheelchair is hard. People look the other way.""
CA regulator fines Uber subsidiary $7.3 million for shirking reporting rules
"An administrative law judge ruled against the Uber subsidiary for failing to report how many UberX users requested accessible vehicles, as well as how many accessible rides UberX was able to provide."

Our neighbour

Pechito Alejandro Ferreiro, better known as Pechito, lived with his 2 dogs on the corner of two busy avenues in the Palermo barrio of Buenos Aires for 12 years. Well-known and well-liked in the area, he died in 2013. In this short film he tells his story.

"...the Canada you once knew and were so proud of, is no longer Canada."

"My name is Donald Sutherland. My wife's name is Francine Racette. We are Canadians...." [The Globe and Mail]

"Did you know that? If you don't live here all the time you can't vote. Americans who live abroad can vote. They can vote because they're citizens! Citizens! But I can't. Because why? Because I'm not a citizen? Because what happens to Canada doesn't matter to me? Ask any journalist that's ever interviewed me what nationality I proudly proclaim to have. Ask them. They'll tell you. I am a Canadian. But I'm an expatriate and the Harper government won't let expatriates participate in Canadian elections."


- Expat voters' rights battle costs Harper government $1.3M so far. [CBC]
- Long-term expats don't have right to vote in federal elections, court rules. [CBC]
- Tories' New Election Law Changes Could Hurt Liberals, Data Suggests. [HuffPoCanada]
- Court won't suspend rule governing voter information cards. [Toronto Star]
In a split decision, the Court of Appeal overturned a ruling [.pdf] that had restored the right of more than one million long-term expats to vote. Canada's "social contract" entails citizens submitting to laws because they had a voice in making them through voting, the ruling states. "Permitting all non-resident citizens to vote would allow them to participate in making laws that affect Canadian residents on a daily basis but have little to no practical consequence for their own daily lives," Justice George Strathy wrote for the majority court. "This would erode the social contract and undermine the legitimacy of the laws."

"Perhaps the most difficult part is keeping a group in harmony."

There are more than 285 competitive bagpipe bands in the United States, made up of thousands of pipers and drummers. Bands are divided into grades based on skill: Grade 5 is the lowest, akin to Little League; Grade 1 is the majors. In May 2014, the Massachusetts-based Stuart Highland Pipe Band was promoted to Grade 1, and next month they'll be facing off against other top-level bands in Glasgow at the annual World Pipe Band Championships. But first, the Stewies made their North American debut at the premier level at a competition in Ontario: Blowhards: On the road, down the bottle, and across the border with Boston's greatest competitive bagpipe band.

Performances (All but the first link are amateur videos)
* Piping Live 2014. (Heralding the beginning of Glasgow's piping festival on the steps of the Royal Concert Hall. August 11, 2014.) More on Piping Live.
* Grade 1 Medley competition at the Kingston Scottish Festival, Ontario (May 23, 2015)
* Grade 1 Medley Rhode Island Highland Games 2015
* Glasgow Lands (July 18, 2015)
* Medley - New Hampshire Indoor 2015 Also: 6/8s set and more.
* Worlds 2014: Medley

What we wanted was to adjust the car to the city

How Groningen invented a cycling template for cities all over the world
Motorists woke up one mid-70s morning to find new one-way streets made direct crosstown journeys impossible by car. Forty years later Groningen boasts two-thirds of all trips made by bike ... and the cleanest air of any big Dutch city

Nowadays, the inhabitants of Groningen possess an average of 1.4 bikes per person. The average number of bikes per household is 3.1. And, while the number of cars is declining, the use of bicycles in the city is still growing. So much so that, according to Wallage, a new discussion has arisen about the predominance of the bike. "There is some tension between pedestrians and cyclists. Cyclists are considered too domineering by some people. There are complaints that they throw down their bikes virtually everywhere and that pedestrians occasionally get run over by cyclists."

"Let the posh bingo begin!"

The Man Booker Prize Longlist has been announced! This year, it includes more US authors than Brits (per country breakdown), the first Jamaican nominee and three first-time authors.


Ireland Jamaica New Zealand Nigeria UK US

"She was a wife of Kalaiopuu, the chief when Lono [Captain Cook] came"

nupepa : Another place to talk about Hawaiian-Language Newspapers. A few selected highlights: Duke Kahanamoku Off to Hollywood, 1936 -- More bats found, 1905 -- Names of the stevedores who participated in Queen Liliuokalani's funeral, 1917 -- The Beautiful Flag of Hawaii / Let it forever wave -- Hei, cat's cradle, Hawaiian style, 1916 -- On eating stones, 1894 -- Did Not Forget His Mother Tongue

extra sauce

Two More Eggs is the new series by the Chapman brothers, creators of Homestar Runner (YouTube playlist link)


Activity trackers train users to love lives that are all work.

Operation Vula

How the ANC sent encrypted messages to one another during the struggle against apartheid. Talking to Vula is a series of six articles by Tim Jenkins about the project from the ANC`s monthly journal Mayibuye from May 1995 to October 1995. (via Schneier)

"Even in those days, 25 years before Edward Snowden, there was talk about 'backdoors' in encryption software," said Jenkin.

The Vula Connection is a documentary on Operation Vula.

"We are the megadead."

In 1983, at the height of the Cold War, the National Film Board of Canada produced War with Gwynne Dyer, a seven part series in which the historian Gwynne Dyer traced the evolution of total warfare from its origins to the present day.

Gwynne Dyer is an independent journalist and military historian. The series has Dyer as narrator, traveling through ten countries, interviewing soldiers, veterans and military specialists, both in NATO and Warsaw Pact countries. For episode five the series traveled to the Middle East and found themselves in the middle of Israel's invasion of Lebanon.

The individual episodes (capsule descriptions):

  1. The Road to Total War
  2. Anybody's Son Will Do
  3. The Profession of Arms
  4. The Deadly Game of Nations
  5. Keeping the Old Game Alive
  6. Notes on Nuclear War
  7. Goodbye War
(The Wikipedia entry on the series thinks there was an eight episode, but I haven't been able to find confirmation online)

Famous Fluid Equations Are Incomplete

The Singular Mind of Terry Tao - "Imagine, he said, that someone awfully clever could construct a machine out of pure water. It would be built not of rods and gears but from a pattern of interacting currents." (via)

Tao has emerged as one of the field's great bridge-­builders. At the time of his Fields Medal, he had already made discoveries with more than 30 different collaborators. Since then, he has also become a prolific math blogger with a decidedly non-­Gaussian ebullience: He celebrates the work of others, shares favorite tricks, documents his progress and delights at any corrections that follow in the comments. He has organized cooperative online efforts to work on problems. "Terry is what a great 21st-­century mathematician looks like," [mefi's own] Jordan Ellenberg, a mathematician at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who has collaborated with Tao, told me. He is "part of a network, always communicating, always connecting what he is doing with what other people are doing."
also btw...
A 115-year effort to bridge the particle and fluid descriptions of nature has led mathematicians to an unexpected answer - "The evidence suggests that truer equations of fluid dynamics can be found in a little-known, relatively unheralded theory developed by the Dutch mathematician and physicist Diederik Korteweg in the early 1900s. And yet, for some gases, even the Korteweg equations fall short, and there is no fluid picture at all."

The Dark Knight Cringes

Activist Deray McKesson took this photo of an armored vehicle parked at the Waller County, TX jail. JPat Brown at Muckrock asked the Waller County Police Department for "[a]ny documentation (receipts, work orders, emails ) regarding customization of armored vehicles in the office's possession, specifically the application of the 'Batman/Dark Knight' logo. They were not amused. However, it's likely that the Chief Deputy is telling the truth, since companies like The Armored Group makes vehicles that are similar to the one spotted at the Waller County jail. This same company was mentioned in a October 2014 Mother Jones article about militarization of police forces across the country.

Last survivors of the Indianapolis

Warship's Last Survivors Recall Sinking in Shark-Infested Waters