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an aural noise

word salad: This is a fully mastered album of a series of long meditative pieces I recorded at home to support those going through challenging times during this strange quarantine moment in our history.

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

A False Volcano Emergency Created This Stunning Abandoned Village

Welcome to the ghost town of a modern Vesuvius that never happened.

The beautiful Italian town has been left deserted since the ’70s due to an aborted eruption. Embiggenable. Explore at home.

THE OLDEST INHABITED PART OF Pozzuoli, a town just west of Naples, looks like a typical picturesque Italian village ready to be taken by storm by hordes of tourists. Named Rione Terra, or “Earth quarter,” it’s perched on a tuff promontory overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. Pastel-colored buildings dating back to the 1600s flank the narrow, stone-paved alleys, with their sunglow yellow and English red coming alight under the Mediterranean sun. The cathedral has been recently renovated to display the remains of the Roman temple of Augustus that stood in its place centuries ago. The buildings’ balconies offer views stretching far out over the blue sea, the Gulf of Pozzuoli, and the Phlegrean Islands in the distance.

But except for lone renovation workers or the occasional bewildered muttering words like, “Is it open?” or “What a shame,” Rione Terra is largely lifeless. It has been freshly renovated, and yet not a soul has lived here in decades. The windows of the inviting façades are coated with dust, and the rooms inside are unlit and barren. Seagulls are often the only users left for the deckchairs lined on terraces that were once teeming with people.

Overlooking the sea, Rione Terra is the type of neighborhood that would normally be full of people.

The abandonment of Rione Terra dates back decades ago, when a surprising sequence of events scarred Pozzuoli and its population. Many residents still haven’t gotten over the incidents, claiming the mass eviction shouldn’t have happened and describing the details in conspiratorial terms. “Today, we still wonder what the real reasons were,” says Antonio Isabettini, a painter who grew up just outside the neighborhood.

A Baffling Academic Feud Over Income Inequality

Has the rise of the one percent really been debunked?

EVERYONE KNOWS THAT inequality has gotten out of hand in the United States. Thanks largely to the work of three now-famous economists—Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman—it’s probably one of the most widely accepted facts in modern American life. Since the early aughts, they have meticulously documented the rate at which the richest have pulled away from the rest. Their research transformed domestic politics, leading President Barack Obama to declare inequality the “defining issue of our time,” and turning the one percent into a shorthand for excessive wealth and power.

But what if this “fact” was never true?

That’s exactly the claim that Gerald Auten and David Splinter, economists at the Treasury Department and Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, respectively, make in a paper published last September. The massive rise in income inequality since the 1960s, they argue, is mostly a statistical illusion based on a series of methodological errors. Piketty, Saez, and Zucman found that the top one percent’s share of after-tax income rose from 9 percent in 1960 to 15 percent in 2019. But, according to Auten and Splinter, the one percent’s share of income has actually remained basically unchanged.

The paper caused an immediate stir among economists and pundits. “Can a single self-published paper really refute decades of work by three famous economists?” wrote the influential economist Tyler Cowen in Bloomberg. “The answer—with qualifications—is yes.” In the Financial Times, the columnist Chris Giles asked, “How would you feel if you found out that U.S. income inequality had not risen over the past 60 years?” And The Economist, reviewing the debate, concluded that “the idea that inequality is rising is very far from a self-evident truth.”

When I first heard about the new paper, I assumed it would convince me, at the very least, that inequality had risen less than I thought—that the reality was somewhere between the two groups’ estimates. But the deeper I dug into the debate, the more I felt that both teams were underestimating the extent of inequality in America. Both are limited by assumptions and definitions that are standard in the economics profession but contrary to how regular people think about inequality—or, for that matter, money itself.

Here’s Why A Dog’s Butt Is Like a Business Card

If you’ve ever hung out a dog park, you’ve probably noticed their methods of greeting. Specifically, the anatomical pairing of nose to ass that they prefer as a hello. You have to think, that’s a bit of a miss in the genetic lottery when it comes to where a species decides is a best point of introduction. If you have to choose any body area to sniff, the asshole is absolute bottom of the barrel. Human butts smell bad enough, and we purportedly clean those.

Now, we mostly assume and accept there is some rhyme or reason to this. Which might be generous, given that this is an animal that eats vomit. But still, I felt the need to find out exactly what it is about the canine ass that makes it serve as the SparkNotes to a new dog’s identity. Thankfully, I was immediately informed that there is indeed, scientific reasoning behind it, and that man’s best friend is not simply a gross freak.

Someday, this puppy will miss the scent of his father’s asshole.

The key is two glands in a dog’s anus called, get this, anal glands. They fire off a “substance” every time your dog drops a mud pie in front of your local coffee shop, but humans likely don’t pick up on the gland-specific smells thanks to, well, the primary product produced. Dogs’ vastly superior senses of smell, however, are able to cut through your run-of-the-mill dookie stench in order to isolate a dog’s specific anal gland secretions.

In fact, there’s a genuinely shocking amount of information contained within these odors.

I spent 48 years in prison for a murder I didn’t commit. Here’s how I fought my way to freedom.

Glynn Simmons was released last year after almost half a century behind bars. Now 70, he describes his torment and terror as he battled to overturn one of the worst miscarriages of justice in US history.

‘They haven’t even said they’re sorry’ … Glynn Simmons.

Glynn Simmons had been in Oklahoma for six days when he was arrested on suspicion of robbery. He was 22, he didn’t have a criminal record and the police had no obvious reason to pick him up that day in 1975.

The robbery victim didn’t recognise him; Simmons was told he was free to leave. Just as he was about to be released, however, the police told him that they were short of men for a lineup and asked him to take part. Simmons didn’t know that it was within his rights to refuse. His mother had taught him the importance of respecting officialdom. So, dutifully, he took part. It cost him dearly.

Simmons was later charged with the murder of a 30-year-old liquor store worker, Carolyn Sue Rogers, who had been shot in the head during a separate robbery. Along with Don Roberts, he was convicted and sentenced to death, later reduced to life imprisonment. In July 2023, he was released, before being exonerated in September. In December, he was legally declared innocent of the crime. Simmons, now 70, had spent 48 years, five months and 13 days in prison – the longest time anyone in the US has been jailed before being cleared.

“You used the term miscarriage of justice,” Simmons says in his sonorous voice. “But what happened to me wasn’t a miscarriage of justice where they simply got it wrong. What happened to me was deliberate. There’s another title for that.” Is there a term he prefers? “Yes. Attempted murder.” Simmons says it is attempted murder because the police knew he would receive the death penalty if found guilty.

Three cats (Maru, Hana, and Miri) challenge each other to put them in the Kagami-mochi container. For some reason, only the biggest cat can enter.

Ed. 3匹の猫(マル、ハナ、ミリ)はお互いに挑戦して、カガミ・モチの容器に入れます。 何らかの理由で、最大の猫だけが入ることができます。


The “People” Frozen to -320 degrees in Alabama

To the deep astonishment of the nation there has been a “discovery” that there are vast numbers of “people” who have been frozen to -320 degrees in Alabama.

Well yes, this is of course about the IVF ruling lunacy. How could I possibly resist commenting on the observation that Republicans have now managed, if I may borrow a phrase from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet (act 3, scene 4), to “Hoist themselves with their own petard” on a truly epic scale, and it is indeed a glorious sight to bask in, relish, and behold, as they squirm in the spotlight.

What are we actually talking about?
Before we get into the “What happened?”, let’s very briefly explain what IVF is. I’m confident that you do know know this, but there are a couple of details well-worth appreciating.

As is generally well-known, IVF is a procedure that involves taking the eggs from a women, identifying the best candidates and fertilising them with sperm, and then planting several of the best candidates back into the women so that she can then hopefully have a baby. This is a well-established medical procedure that is available to couples who are facing infertility challenges. It has been in use since the late 1970s.

A few key points …

  • They don’t just take one egg, but instead they collect the contents from the fallopian tubes or uterus after natural ovulation. This also often involves Ovarian hyperstimulation to increase the chances of a successful outcome. Collecting eggs is a delicate process that involves an ultrasound-guided needle. You really don’t what to be doing this for just one egg that by itself may not be viable.
  • Many of the collected eggs are fertilised, and then several of the best candidates are selected and transferred to the uterus. What remains is then frozen. This is done because patients who fail to conceive the first time, may try again without having to go through a full IVF cycle which is expensive. This is the established approach that make this process viable.

What happened In Alabama?
I speculate that you may indeed also be familiar with what happened, but for completeness, especially for readers who reside in other nations, let’s step through it so that they also can embrace the true lunacy of the “they did what” moment.

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