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an aural noise

word salad: Jeremy’s Aura presents a compelling fusion of psydub and hard rock, showcasing non-linear rhythms and captivating tension. With a wealth of guitar mastery, Jeremy crafts a cinematic soundscape that seamlessly intertwines with the weight of the groove, leaving behind the whimsical aftertaste of an authentic adventure back to Emerald Planet.

some of the things I read while eating breakfast in antisocial isolation

Mysterious Writing System From Easter Island May Be Completely Unique

New radiocarbon dating reveals astonishing insights.

The Rongorongo tablets may be older than previously thought. Embiggenablef.

RAPA NUI, ALSO KNOWN AS Easter Island, is the most remote inhabited island in the world. This dot of treeless, volcanic land is only 63 square miles wide and sits 2,400 miles off the Pacific coast of Chile. Full of monolithic Moai statues, the island has been intriguing researchers for centuries—and its enigma only continues to deepen with a recent discovery.

People first came to live on the island in the 12th century. Europeans landed on Rapa Nui in the 1720s, and they brought diseases that devastated the population. Then in 1863, the island was raided by enslavers from Peru, and some estimates say only 200 indigenous people survived.

The following year, a missionary named Eugene Eyraud found evidence of Rapa Nui’s written language, Rongorongo, which was intricately inscribed on wooden tablets. Eyraud noted these tablets were seen in every family home and claimed they numbered in the hundreds. However, when Europeans returned a few years later to collect them, only a couple dozen could be found.

Home the famous Moai statues, Rapa Nui is also known as Easter Island. Embiggenable.

Four tablets were sent to a congregation in Rome for preservation, where they remained for over 150 years.

Until now, it was presumed that the Rongorongo script was composed of elements introduced by foreigners. But a team of scientists from Italy and Germany recently found reason to believe the elaborate language predates any European colonization, and it comes with extraordinary anthropological implications.

The Other Time America Panicxked Over A President’s Age

For two weeks in 1984, I made Ronald Reagan look old.

HOW OLD IS TOO OLD? This isn’t the first time the question has dominated a presidential race. For a brief moment, 40 years ago, the country could talk of nothing else. I should know: I was one of the reasons.

One spring day in 1984, I was chatting with Burns “Bud” Roper, the veteran pollster. At the time, I was The Wall Street Journal’s White House correspondent, covering Ronald Reagan’s reelection campaign. Thanks to a surging economy, Reagan seemed poised for an easy victory in November. The campaign was shaping up to be a bore. “Bud,” I asked, “is there any chance he could lose?”

When it came to polling, Bud had seen it all, going back to Harry Truman versus Thomas Dewey. He told me he hadn’t found anything that could stop Reagan. Then he paused. “Actually, there is one thing,” he added. “People won’t say it if you ask them directly, but when you look deeply at the numbers, a lot of them are concerned about his age.” Reagan was 73 at the time.

Four years earlier, Reagan’s age had been a major theme of the Republican primaries; he was sworn in only a few days before his 70th birthday, making him the oldest person ever to become president. Now he was four years older, having survived a near-fatal shooting in the interim, yet the issue of his age was scarcely discussed. Bud’s theory was that many voters had concerns about Reagan’s age wedged in the back of their minds, even if they wouldn’t admit it. The only thing Reagan had to fear, Bud thought, was some triggering event that would bring those concerns to the fore. “This guy can’t even afford a bad cold between now and Election Day,” he said.

Helen Lewis: Biden’s age is now unavoidable

Not long after our conversation, the Journal’s Washington bureau chief, Al Hunt, asked each political reporter for a list of ideas for major stories they wanted to work on. I put Reagan’s age on my list—a look at how the preceding four years had changed him, and why it wasn’t being discussed. I remember Al being uninterested. A month or two later, we repeated the exercise. I again proposed the age story. Al again passed on it.

Finally, in August, the political reporters met in Al’s hotel suite at the Republican National Convention in Dallas to plan our coverage of the final sprint to Election Day. I decided to try one more time, figuring that if we didn’t put the story on the agenda now, we never would. I don’t know if Al was persuaded or if he just wanted to shut me up, but he agreed to let me do it. I’d be working with James M. Perry, the Journal’s senior political writer.

The Inventor of the Pop-Tart Won’t Live to See Jerry Seinfeld Ruin His Legacy

Sad news in the world of frosted garbage food, William “Bill” Post, the man who is credited as the inventor of the Pop-Tart, passed away this week at the age of 96. He is survived by his children, grandchildren and millions of stoned teenagers all across the world. After all, who doesn’t love Pop-Tarts? They’re tasty, convenient and, if 1980s commercials are to be believed, a potent aphrodisiac.

According to his obituary, Post began working for Hekman (which later became the Keebler Company) when he was only 21. Decades later, he was tasked by Kellogg’s to “create a new product they had in mind,” resulting in the Pop-Tart. While Post is often credited as the inventor of the Pop-Tart, he was also happy to admit that it was really the product of the “amazing team” he assembled. Still, Post went on “tell the Pop-Tart story to young people in countless classrooms,” presumably fulfilling American schools’ “sugary breakfast treat” curriculum requirement.

Weirdly, Post’s death comes just months before his legacy is seemingly set to be completely upended by the Netflix movie Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story, Hollywood’s latest attempt to turn the creation of a familiar product into a feature film. The director, co-writer and star of Unfrosted is none other than Jerry Seinfeld, who previously waxed poetic about Pop-Tarts in his stand-up act.

Per Netflix, the movie will be about Kellogg’s competing against their “sworn cereal rival” Post. As we’ve mentioned before, the Pop-Tart concept, delivered to William Post by Kellogg’s, was actually created by Post (the company, not the guy). They invented a new food preservation technology and came up with “Country Squares,” which were later renamed “Toast’em Pop Ups.” Kellogg’s then copied the idea, but were ultimately more successful in their branding efforts.

Billed as a “tale of ambition, betrayal, sugar and menacing milkmen” it seems as though Seinfeld’s movie is going to give the controversy behind the creation of Pop-Tarts some actual mainstream attention when it’s released this spring.

How to Defeat a Mafia State

An unlikely coalition of urban professionals and Indigenous people has pulled off something extraordinary in Guatemala.

Democracy could use a win. All around the world, states have been taken over by strongmen dead set on extracting as much wealth as they can from the societies they rule. In Russia and Venezuela, Myanmar and Angola, weak electoral systems have given way to hyper-corrupt autocracies. And democrats haven’t really figured out how to fight back. Successful methods to get rid of criminal regimes are desperately needed but vanishingly rare.

Which is why what’s happening in Guatemala right now demands attention. Over the past six months, Guatemalans have made an audacious gambit to take their government back. And against all odds, they’re winning.

Nobody expected this. Until quite recently, Guatemala was arguably an excellent example of what the Venezuelan writer Moisés Naím calls a “mafia state”—a country run by a criminal syndicate focused mostly on enriching itself. Guatemalans call it the pacto de corruptos, or the “pact of the corrupt.” A nested set of criminal enterprises thoroughly colonized the state, infiltrating not just the government, but the courts, the election authorities, and crucially, the powerful office of the public prosecutor. Who are these people, exactly? That they’re the same tiny white elite that’s controlled Guatemala since colonial times is tempting to imagine, but not quite right. Picture instead the army officer corps that the tiny white elite empowered, during the Cold War, to crush Guatemala’s leftist insurgencies.

Read: A mafia state within a totalitarian society

Backing up just a bit: From 1960 to 1996, Guatemala lived through a grisly civil war that killed 200,000 amid documented acts of genocide. Soldiers, equipped and trained with U.S. taxpayer dollars, would shoot up entire Maya villages, justifying the killings on the off chance they might be harboring rebels. At the height of the violence, from 1981 to 1983, the Guatemalan army committed more than 600 massacres. A truth commission later estimated that, out of the subset of victims that had been found and could be identified, 83 percent belonged to one of Guatemala’s many Maya nations. In just one small K’iche’ Maya area in the region of Ixcán, the army carried out 77 separate massacres. One goal was to get the survivors to flee. And flee they did, which is why 1.7 million Americans today are of Guatemalan origin.

When the war ended, a broad amnesty for even its worst crimes was granted by a national reconciliation law. The newly idled army officers quickly grabbed hold of the government and got to work embezzling all they could. Everything was fair game, including road-construction projects, contracts to supply medicine to public hospitals, and even drug smuggling: anything to make a buck.

CAUTION: Some language may not be appropriate for work or children.

Here’s me commentary on Destination F’d Volume 33.

Maru&Hana&Miri enjoyed the weeds before the snow fell. And Maru walked the snow path on a warm day.

Ed. マルハナミリは、雪が降る前に雑草を楽しんだ。 メアリーは暖かい日に雪の道を歩いた。


The South Dakota Sport of Snowman Tackling

And you thought Ferris Bueller knew how to get into trouble.


THE LOCAL WEATHER FORECASTERS HAD PREDICTED THE year’s first true snowstorm of eight inches to blanket the southeast corner of Vermillion, South Dakota, and neighboring states of Iowa and Nebraska.

My alarm woke me to The Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams.”

I bolted to the window.

Yes! I thought on that brisk, 24-degree Wednesday morning, December 21, 1983, admiring the beautiful sea of glistening white snow as far as the eye could see.

And that could mean only two things:

  1. No school!
  2. The opening night of snowman tackling season (cue up the Monday Night Football theme song).

Snowman tackling?

It all started one winter evening in January 1982. Joe, Jack, Archie, Lee, and I piled into Jack’s dad’s clunky ’80 Chevrolet Cavalier station wagon.

We headed to Vermillion High School to do some donuts in the school parking lot, but when we arrived, the local police were already busy with their own doughnuts — the glazed ones.

Deciding instead to head to Joe’s place and have a snowball fight, we turn onto Cedar Street, and Joe hollers, “Stop the car now!

Joe darts out of the station wagon, runs across the intersection, almost runs straight into the stop sign, spots his victim — a poor defenseless and adorable snowman — and tackles it like T.J. Watt sacking Patrick Mahomes.

I’m shocked he wasn’t flagged for roughing the passer or targeting.

The previously smiling scarfed creation with a Kansas City Chiefs ski hat, twig arms, beautiful button eyes, five pieces of charcoal for a sincere smile, and a cute — but crooked — stubby carrot nose didn’t stand a chance.

That was my introduction to the obscure, cruel, dangerous sport of snowman tackling.

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.


Assimilation Complete