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an aural noise

some of the things I read in antisocial isolation


Canada’s First Indigenous-Led Research Station Is a Symbol of Hope—And Our Climate Crisis
The Scotty Creek facility was part of an unprecedented First Nations effort to study and save the Arctic. Then the fire came.


Laurier University scientist William Quinton and a group of Indigenous Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ walk through a bog near the Scotty Creek Research Station in the Northwest Territories. Embiggenable.


ON YET ANOTHER UNUSUALLY WARM subarctic day last August, members of the Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation in the Northwest Territories of Canada held a fire-feeding ceremony, drummed, raised their eagle-emblazoned flag, and prepared a celebratory feast for themselves and a group of scientists 30 miles south of where they live in Fort Simpson.

By the close of festivities, Laurier University’s 23-year-old Scotty Creek Research Station, which is monitoring the varied impacts of climate change and permafrost thaw, had become the first Indigenous-led research station in Canada.

The event marked another milestone in a remarkable effort by Indigenous people across Northern Canada to address the impacts of climate change, which is contributing to the burning of carbon-rich peatlands, precipitous declines in caribou populations, increased levels of mercury in fish, and the spread of novel pathogens and invasive species.

“Climate change is not going to wait for us to find a way of adapting and mitigating,” said Gladys Norwegian before I visited Scotty Creek last summer. Norwegian was once grand chief of the Dehcho Dene, which includes the Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation of Fort Simpson, as well as several other Indigenous communities in the Northwest Territories’ Mackenzie Valley.

“It’s happening now,” Norwegian said. “We need to work as leaders and partners with scientists to see what is coming. We also need to get our own act together.”

NO PASSING TREND: How gaslighting came to encapsulate the spirit of 2022
In 2022, searches for “gaslighting” increased 1740% year-on-year, according to Merriam-Webster.


Lighting up lies.


Gaslighting is not a new word—but it’s one that people have taken newfound interest in this year.

In 2022, searches for “gaslighting” increased 1740% year-on-year, according to Merriam-Webster. “In this age of misinformation—of ‘fake news,’ conspiracy theories, Twitter trolls, and deepfakes—gaslighting has emerged as a word for our time,” the American publisher, well known for its dictionary, noted while announcing it as the word of the year.

There was no one single event that sparked interest in the term. Instead, there was sustained curiosity. “It was a word looked up frequently every single day of the year,” Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large, told The Associated Press ahead of Monday’s unveiling.

Gaslighting is mostly used in describing abusive relationships, and sometimes in reference to politicians and newsmakers, too.

Gaslighting’s definition, according to Merriam-Webster

  1. Psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator
  2. The act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage

Merriam-Webster

How monopoly enshittified Amazon
Chokepoint Capitalism ruins everything.


In Bezos’s original plan, the company called “Amazon” was called “Relentless,” due to its ambition to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company.” Today, Amazon is an enshittified endless scroll of paid results, where winning depends on ad budgets, not quality.

Writing in Jeff Bezos’s newspaper The Washington Post, veteran tech reporter Geoffrey Fowler reports on the state of his boss’s “relentless” commitment to customer service. The state is grim.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/interactive/2022/amazon-shopping-ads/

Search Amazon for “cat beds” and the entire first screen is ads. One of them is an ad for a dog carrier, which Amazon itself manufactures and sells, competing with the other sellers who bought that placement.

Scroll down one screen and you get some “organic” results — that is, results that represent Amazon’s best guess at the best products for your query. Scroll once more and yup, another entire screen of ads, these ones labeled “Highly rated.” One more scroll, and another screenful of ads, one for a dog product.

Keep scrolling, you’ll keep seeing ads, including ads you’ve already scrolled past. “On these first five screens, more than 50 percent of the space was dedicated to ads and Amazon touting its own products.” Amazon is a cesspit of ads: twice as many as Target, four times as many as Walmart.

How did we get here? We always knew that Amazon didn’t care about its suppliers, but being an Amazon customer has historically been a great deal — lots of selection, low prices, and a generous returns policy. How could “Earth’s most customer-centric” company become such a bad place to shop?

5 Greek Curses That Show the Gods Needed to Chill


We’ve all made poor decisions in our life. Unless, I suppose, you are some sort of absolutely perfect angel that’s done nothing in your life but bottlefeed abandoned kittens and invest in Apple early. In which case, get back to receiving your sainthood in an expensive suit, you morally sterling goody two-shoes. We can at least say this about most modern mistakes, though: None of them drew the ire of an angry Greek god with a penchant for poetic justice. For that, we have to be thankful.

See, of all the people and entities you could piss off in Ancient Greece, the gods were possibly the worst. Getting on Zeus’ bad side makes pissing off BTS stans on Twitter seem like a relaxing Sunday afternoon. Not only were the gods, as the name implies, all-powerful, but they much preferred fury to forgiveness. As such, their punishments were usually the kind of thing that would make Pinhead say, “That’s a little much.” On one hand, you would probably receive the gift of immortality. On the other, it was usually just so the gods could wreck your shit indefinitely.

Here are five Greeks in particular who found out firsthand that you don’t want to piss off the pantheon.

5. Prometneus

Mondays… and every other day, amirite?

Maybe one of the most well-known recipients of literary torture is Prometheus. To be honest, if you believe the stories, the whole human race owes him a big-time solid. Per Greek legend, every cooked meal and roasted marshmallow you’ve ever had is directly thanks to our boy Prometheus. That’s because, Zeus, in one of his classic moods, took fire away from humankind and hid it up on Mount Olympus. Prometheus was the one who went and stole it back, returning it to the mortals. An absolute lad.

LIFE AND STYLE: Death and the salesman: the 22-year-old selling human bones for a living
Jon Ferry sells old bones used in the teaching of medicine. But the medical bone trade has a murky history of exploitation.


Jon Pichaya Ferry in his studio in Bushwick, New York.


In a small, light-filled Bushwick studio space, a brown box rests on a wooden coffee table. Inside is a human head. “Wanna start?” asks Jon Pichaya Ferry, pulling a box cutter out of the pocket of his black skinny jeans.

Inside is a lumpy form wrapped in thin aqua foam, which he tears off to reveal a skull’s mandible. Out comes the rest of the skull; he fits the two parts together and places it on the lid of a coffin in the corner of the room, next to a can of Red Bull.

Ferry says the skull is of probable Indian origin, pointing to the betel-nut staining its molars. It will soon be inspected, photographed and logged into a database before joining the 80 skulls lined up neatly in a glass cabinet. Each has a baby-blue label looped through its cheekbone with an accession number and the word “JonsBones”, the name of Ferry’s company. Five articulated skeletons hang above the skulls; opposite them are more than a hundred spines, graded like a paint sampler from dark to light, the different angles of their sacrums a reminder of the unique postures of the people they once belonged to.

Ferry, 22, sells human bones. He developed his obsession at age 13, while growing up in Thailand. His father gave him a mouse skeleton which, “instead of it being creepy, dark and weird”, kickstarted his passion, and in time he began articulating animal skeletons. After he moved to New York at 18 to study product design at Parsons, Ferry started JonsBones as an animal skeleton business. A trip to the oddity shop Obscura Antiques and Oddities, where he saw a human skull on a shelf, piqued his interest in human bones; the owner, Mike Zohn, explained that they were the remnants of the medical osteology industry.


A collection of human skulls.

JonsBones now has eight employees, half a million followers and over 22 million likes on TikTok, where Ferry posts videos about his favourite topic, the medical bone trade. There, he addresses his followers’ questions, including ones about the bones’ provenance. In one video, he explains that medical students bought them from medical supply companies, gesturing towards a wooden box of bones labelled “Millikin & Lawley”. Up until the 1980s, it was common for students to buy their own skeletons for their anatomy studies.

Not all users are convinced: “I … feel like that’s saying chicken comes from the grocery store,” writes one.

“It’s so hard working with the public,” sighs Ferry.

Poe vs. Property
A detective story of shifting rationalizations.


In 1841, Graham’s Magazine (you’re welcome) published Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” and, in so doing, created the modern detective story genre.

The story was published at a pivotal moment for copyright: only a decade earlier, Congress passed the Copyright Act of 1831, extending US copyright to foreign authors for the first time in US history.

1841 was also the year that a Massachusetts court ruled Folsom v. Marsh, the first “fair use” case in US copyright history, finding that using someone else’s copyrighted work was fair when it served a public purpose and didn’t unduly burden the original rightsholder.

Poe’s story was eligible for 28 years of copyright from the moment he set the words down on paper, and moreover, Poe was entitled to renew that copyright for another 14 years at the end of the term (he didn’t get to exercise this privilege because he died a mere eight years after the publication of “Murders”).

But Poe’s incredible act of imagination — creating detective fiction itself — was not eligible for copyright. Anyone could write a story about a detective solving a mystery. Many did. They still do.


まるさんの顔にびっくりしちゃうみり。Miri surprised at Maru’s face.


THE LAST TAB . . .

What’s the best design for splash-free urinal? Physics now has the answer
The optimal splash-reducing angle for the average human is approximately 30 degrees.


Can you spot the urinal design with the optimal splash-reducing angle? It’s the one second from right. Embiggenable. Tour at home.


SCIENTISTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO HAVE determined the optimal design for a splash-free urinal: a tall, slender porcelain structure with curves reminiscent of a nautilus shell, playfully dubbed the “Nauti-loo.” That’s good news for men tired of having urine splash onto their pants and shoes—and for the poor souls who have to regularly clean up all the splatter. Bonus: It’s quite an aesthetically appealing design, giving this workhorse of the public restroom a touch of class.

“The idea originated exactly where you think it did,” Waterloo’s Zhao Pan told New Scientist. “I think most of us have been a little inattentive at our post and looked down to find we were wearing speckled pants. Nobody likes having pee everywhere, so why not just create a urinal where splatter is extremely unlikely?” His graduate student, Kaveeshan Thurairajah, presented the results of this research during last week’s American Physical Society (APS) meeting on fluid dynamics in Indianapolis.

It’s not the first time scientists have attempted to address this issue. Pan is a former graduate student of Tadd Truscott, a mechanical engineer who founded the so-called “Splash Lab” at Utah State University. In 2013, the Splash Lab (then at Brigham Young University) offered a few handy tips on how men could avoid staining their khaki pants with urine splashback while relieving themselves in restrooms. “Sitting on the toilet is the best technique, since there’s less distance for the pee to cover on its journey to the bowl,” I wrote previously at Gizmodo. “If you opt for the classic standing technique, the scientists advised standing as close to the urinal as possible, and trying to direct the stream at a downward angle toward the back of the urinal.”

For those who lack optimal anti-splash technique, another of Truscott’s graduate students, Randy Hurd, presented an optimal design for a splash-free urinal insert at the 2015 APS fluid dynamics meeting. There are three basic types of inserts. One employs absorbent cloth to keep splashing to a minimum; another uses a honeycomb structure—a raised layer (held up by little pillars) with holes—so urine droplets pass through but splash doesn’t come out; and a third type featuring an array of pillars. However, absorbent fabrics can’t absorb liquid quickly enough and soon become saturated, while the honeycomb and arrayed pillar structures don’t prevent urine pools from gradually forming.


In 2013, the Splash Lab demonstrated that reduced urine splash could be achieved by aiming at a vertical surface, moving closer to the urinal, and by decreasing the impact angle.


Ed. More tomorrow? Possibly. Probably. Maybe. Likely, if I find nothing more barely uninteresting at all to do.

Ed., etc. I didn’t have time to do this today.


ONE MORE THING: “You’re Going to Hell”
How to respond to a flaming fundamentalist when they tell you you’re going to Hell.


I’d like to start by giving a shout out to the reader who inspired this article. There I was penning a piece on how the church should be more accepting of diversity and difference.

Oh, the audacity!

This clearly outraged one of my readers — the one who is obviously more enlightened than me — and luckily he/she set me straight. Here is their helpful response to my article:


Ouch.

When I received this sharp rebuke — delivered in such a loving way — I saw the light and fell to my knees in repentance… said no one, ever.

When you tell someone else they are going to hell, what you are really saying is, “I am both morally superior and suitably qualified to determine when a person is going to hell according to my interpretation of an ancient Jewish manuscript written in a completely different time, culture and context to my own.”

Of course, the reader who made this comment is the same reader who clapped for another article entitled, “Why I Love Women Peeing on Me,” which is clearly okay with God — at least much more so than me suggesting that the church should be more inclusive. By the way, if you want to view the offending article I wrote, here it is.

He wasn’t the only person who gave me some hate, in the name of love, either. There were a number of angry responses. It got me thinking. How should you respond when someone tells you you’re going to hell?

Ed. Is this the one? It’s the only Hell I know.


Ed. This is long because I have to shovel snow and have to go to work. Both right now. Clearly I’m looking forward to looking after things by procrastinating.


Assimilation Complete