Saturday, October 31, 2020

Polish Princess: When New York’s Strand Bookstores asked for help, 25,000 online orders flooded in

“I was impressed for the ten thousandth time by the fact that literature illuminates life only for those to whom books are a necessity. Books are unconvertable assets, to be passed on only to those who possess them already.” Anthony Powell, The Valley of Bones Continue reading Almanac: Anthony Powell on... Read more

 Using an AI-based framework called Pixel2Style2Pixel and searching for faces in a dataset harvested from Flickr, Nathan Shipley made some more photorealistic faces for Pixar characters

Toonification of Pixel

The 10 Best Books of All Time Chosen By 125 Famous Authors 

Autumn brings the peak of the literary prize season: winners of the Booker, the National Book Award, the Women’s Prize, the Prix Goncourt, and the Nobel will all be announced by mid-November. American authors and books will be contenders for almost every award, large and small, for which they are eligible. That makes this an auspicious moment to revisit two persistent questions about American literature: Is it really a key part of the global literary system? And is the answer to that question the same for its “serious” and its mainstream forms? We can see the doubts behind those questions most clearly in a recent literary controversy, one that seems to have grown at once more and less relevant in the 12 years since it took place.

American authors have devoted almost 40 percent of their spatial attention to locations outside the US. Is that enough?

Washington Post – Readers rushed to the aid of the iconic bookseller after its owner called on them to #savethestrand – “…Founded in 1927 by Benjamin Bass, a Jewish Lithuanian immigrant, with $300 in cash and a $300 loan, Strand grew into one of the largest independent book houses in New York. It is one of the only surviving bookstores from Fourth Avenue’s famed “Book Row.” Fred Bass, the son of the founder, began working in the store at age 13, according to his New York Times obituary. Wyden, his daughter, worked at Strand through her childhood and officially became its owner in 2018. Wyden shut down Strand on March 16, as the coronavirus began to sweep through New York. It was impossible, she said, to keep any part of the business open, even for online shopping, without protective equipment for staff. She furloughed 188 of 217 employees, expecting to bring them back within weeks when health conditions improved. “I talked to other bookstore owners and HR people and accountants, and I was just scrambling to find out what this means,” she said. “There was no — and there is no — end in sight for this pandemic. And we weren’t sure who to furlough and who not to furlough. We all thought we’d be back to normal in June.”..

The Worst Book Endings Ever

At least, according to readers. (Yes, yes, everyone hated the end of Gone Girl.) Think of Atonement, for example: “‘I’ve never been more mad at an ending to a book, and will never read another word Ian McEwan writes as a result,’ wrote Brenda M. ‘Why would I ever trust a writer who has so much contempt for his readers?'” – Washington Post

Scientists Are Freaking Out Over The First-Ever Footage of This Bizarre Squid Science Alert

Weirdly, Monkeys Keep Domesticating Themselves. Huh. Popular Mechanics 

American Honeybees Just Can’t Get a BreakTreeHugger 

‘Like froth on a cappuccino’: spacecraft’s chaotic landing reveals comet’s softness Nature 

It’s Google’s World. We Just Live in It

 “Every one can master a grief but he that has it.”

 William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing 

  • Farther along
    It’s just short of seven months since the death of Hilary Teachout, my beloved wife. I was close to despair when I returned from her deathbed to my locked-down apartment, and though I thought at one point that I was coming out of it, I was wrong. I missed out...Read more

The New York Times – “Googling something was all we once did with Google. Now we spend hours a day using its maps, videos, security cameras, email, smartphones and more….It isn’t just that I am spending more time in a Google search, either. The Silicon Valley company has leveraged the act of looking for something online into such a vast technology empire over the years that it has crept into my home, my work, my devices and much more. It has become the tech brand that dominates my life — and probably yours, too. On my Apple iPhone, I use Google’s apps for photo albums and maps, along with tools for calendar, email and documents. On my computer and tablet, the various web browsers I use feature Google as the default search bar. For work, I use Google Finance (to look up stock quotes), Google Drive (to store files), Google Meet (to teleconference) and Google Hangouts (to communicate). In my home, Google is also everywhere. My Nest home security camerais made by Google. A Google voice service rings my door buzzer. To learn how to repair a gutter, I recently watched home improvement videos on YouTube. In online maps, Google has photos of my house taken from outer space and camera-embedded cars. By my unofficial estimate, I spend at least seven hours a day on Google-related products…”

“Since the outbreak began, news about Covid-19 has been subject to political manipulation and misinformation, and it continues to spread today. Making matters more complex, we all inevitably bring our own implicit biases or “motivated reasoning” in determining what news and information to believe and what to discount as propaganda from “the other side.” This is particularly true on our social media platforms. But it is still possible- urgent actually–to know how to identify, assess and understand what counts as credible evidence, information and reporting on the virus, since the difference between believing accurate information vs. believing bad information can literally be a matter of life and death. In this one hour interactive panel, four research, media, and data experts will discuss how to make sense of and evaluate sources in our complex and contentious media and information ecosystem. Topics include: science, trust and expertise; filter bubbles and motivated reasoning; understanding data visualizations; and tools and tips for avoiding and identifying misinformation. Members of the audience will also have the opportunity to share their own experiences and observations making this a highly interactive event ” [via Bob Berkman, Business Librarian, Learning Initiatives, University of Rochester (NY)]

  • Stephanie Barrett, MLIS, UR Social Science Librarian with a specialty in public health information
  • Robert Berkman, MA Journalism, UR Business Librarian. Editor, The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research
  • Sarah Pugachev, MS Information Science, Director of Carlson Science & Engineering Libraries and Research Initiatives
  • Kristana Textor, PhD Games & Learning. Instructor, Digital Media Studies

Penn State. “Mouthwashes, oral rinses may inactivate human coronaviruses, study finds.” ScienceDaily, 19 October 2020. “Certain oral antiseptics and mouthwashes may have the ability to inactivate human coronaviruses, according to a new study. The results indicate that some of these products might be useful for reducing the viral load, or amount of virus, in the mouth after infection and may help to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.”

  • Source – Craig Meyers, Richard Robison, Janice Milici, Samina Alam, David Quillen, David Goldenberg, Rena Kass. Lowering the transmission and spread of human coronavirus[full-text]. Journal of Medical Virology, 2020; DOI: 10.1002/jmv.26514 – “Our results suggest that several nasal/sinus and oral rinses had potent virucidal properties and could have the potential to inactivate HCoV and decrease viral load in vivo. Studies of chronic rhinosinusitis have shown the safe use of 1% baby shampoo formulations as a nasal rinse, but there is no literature to date that evaluates its use against HCoV or other viruses. Our study shows that a 1% baby shampoo solution was effective at inactivating HCoV in a time‐dependent manner. The dilute rinse was able to reduce the amount of infectious virus by close to 99% after a contact time of 1 min and greater than 99.9% after a contact time of 2 min. With a contact time of 30 s 1% baby shampoo showed variable results ranging from less than 90% reduction in infectious virus to up toward a 99.9% reduction. Overall the results show a clear time‐dependent decrease of infectious virus. In contrast, a commonly used saline rinse formulation (Neti‐Pot) had no effect on infectious viral count in our study. Most of the common over‐the‐counter mouth washes/gargles tested demonstrated at least a 90% reduction in infectious virus at 1 min of contract time with the majority of products showing increasing virucidal activity with longer contact times. The products had varying active ingredients and formulations. Interestingly, three of the products tested (Peroxide Sore Mouth, Orajel Antiseptic Rinse, and 1.5% H2O2) all contained 1.5% H2O2 as their active ingredient. With these three products there were variable results with a reduction of infectious virus ranged from below 90% to 99%. The similar results obtained from all three products suggest that the inactive ingredients that are in the Peroxide Sore Mouth and Orajel Antiseptic Rinse provide no noteworthy additional effect toward inactivating the infectious virus. These results agree with a recently published study showing that both 1.5% and 3% H2O2 showed between a 90% and a 99% decrease in infectious HCoV…”
  • See also The New York Times – No, Mouthwash Will Not Save You From the Coronavirus – Even if people coated the inside of their mouths with a coronavirus-killing chemical, a substantial amount of the virus would still remain in the body.
  • See also Washington Post – What those studies on mouthwash and coronaviruses actually mean

Weather Photographer of the Year Winners Celebrate the Beauty of Nature

THAT’S NO MOON — IT’S A SPACE STATION: Rogue planet found floating through our galaxy, scientists say.

Milkman Author Anna Burns Wins Massive Literary Prize

Burns, who won the Booker Prize for Milkman in 2018, has won the International Dublin Literary Award. She’s the first Northern Irish writer to win the prize (and was the first to win the Booker as well). She thanked the Belfast Library and said, “There seemed to be a black market in library tickets when I was growing up. … I managed to go into the building with about three to five cards and come out with about nine to 15 books.” – BBC

Not science fiction: extracting memories from one being and injecting them into another — fascinating work on the biology of memory 

Ventilation and air filtration play a key role in preventing the spread of COVID-19 indoorsUSA Today. Note the importance of outside air. Also, leave the party early, before the “smoke” builds up.

Wall of Clouds

“Surf's Up” by Emma Rose Karsten. Runner-up, Young Weather Photographer of the Year.
“This photo was taken from the parking lot of my high school—Lafayette High School in Wildwood, Missouri (a suburb of St. Louis).

Weather Photographer of the Year Winners Celebrate the Beauty of Nature

Via Mary Whisner – news that Tom Lehrer Has Put His Songs into the Public Domain, Marketplace [if you are not familiar with his work, and have not been singing the lyrics to his songs like “Pollution” for many decades as have I, now is your chance to become a Lehrer enthusiast and an aficionado!)

Ryznar, Margaret, A Brief Guide to Online Teaching (August 22, 2020). Available at SSRN: or 

“This brief guide to online teaching offers assistance in selecting between the synchronous and asynchronous online format, before proceeding to a brief step-by-step guide on the design elements of both asynchronous and synchronous online courses. The focus remains on content delivery and student engagement, hallmark characteristics of online teaching.”

How to Stop Getting Into Pointless Arguments Online Wired 

Has technology made us worse hunters? Popular Science

History has its eyes on us


“I am so sorry my writing vexes you, and it will continue to vex you! I do not in the least agree with your assumption that one kind of writing is right and another kind is wrong. I write at all because it pleases and amuses me -- and I write in the way that pleases and amuses me.”  

Write for Jozef

How Did We Come To Think Of History As A Coherent Narrative?

The idea of history as “something that equally comprises past and future as states of a continuous subject, so that we may speak of history as such” (as the philosopher Eckart Förster puts it), emerged only in the second half of the 18th century. – Chronicle of Higher Education

WE’VE DESCENDED INTO SOME SORT OF BIZARRE HELL-WORLD IN WHICH GLENN GREENWALD IS A VOICE OF SANITY: The InterceptCo-Founder Glenn Greenwald Resigns, Alleging ‘Censorship’ of Views ‘Critical’ of Joe Biden.

Carbon Club - Book Former Liberal senator Cory Bernardi’s use of US-inspired strategies to bring down Malcolm Turnbull as party leader in 2009 was a key moment in Australia’s history of climate inaction, according to Marian Wilkinson.

The Carbon Club with Marian Wilkinson

What makes Chekhov unique? His perception, his ability to discern the subtlest emotional shades of human experience. Gary Saul Morson explains Chekhov 

Jew, poet, homosexual, painter, punster, novelist, critic, palm-reader, ether-addict, Kabbalist, Catholic: Who was Max Jacob 

Books bound in human skin have a long history, though one less sensational and more ambiguous than the urban  legends  

Articles of Note

Every writer is unique in some way; D.H. Lawrence was unique in many ways: his prose style, his personality, his opinions. George Scialabba explains... pausing for  prose 

New Books

A new biography of Lucian Freud withholds gossip into “private affairs.” That’s a shame — Freud’s private affairs propelled his  art 

Essays & Opinions

Does history really “have its eyes on us,” as Lin-Manuel Miranda’s George Washington says? Where did this idea come from, Anyway? 

The mob is drunk on the new power that surveillance provides them, seemingly unaware of the many ways it could come back to bite them  Next  

Escape from communist Czechoslovakia: how one man crossed the Alps to freedom

I don't know who needs to hear this but... 

Cool experiment/quiz that demonstrates how photos affect our view of history.

Olga is long gone – a few years ago, MacNamara visited her grave in Wisconsin. Yet through her diary, the young immigrant girl lives on. “So many people compare their lives to the media and think they don’t have a life,” MacNamara says, “There’s no diary that I’ve read that doesn’t have an incredible story to tell. We all have a story: we will all suffer hardships, we will all have great joy. You think you’re alone in the world, but you’re not.”

Amerika and Liberty - ERIK SVANE:  Anna and Zuzanna Uhríkova, 16 and 22, were the latest of the six of a total of seven children to be sent across the Atlantic by a widowed farmer in the tiny Slovak hamlet of Vrbica. 

One Hundred Years Ago, a 16-Year-Old Slovak Girl Sailed past the Statue of Liberty into New York Harbor.

Úřad dokumentace a vyšetřování zločinů komunismu SKPV zahájil trestní stíhání

Několik osob bylo obviněno ze zvlášť závažného zločinu zneužití pravomoci úřední osoby. 

Dne 25.11.2019 policejní orgán Policie České republiky, Úřad dokumentace a vyšetřování zločinů komunismu služby kriminální policie a vyšetřování zahájil se souhlasem státního zástupce Obvodního státního zastupitelství pro Prahu 1 trestní stíhání Milouše Jakeše, JUDr. Lubomíra Štrougala a JUDr. Vratislava Vajnara, CSc., pro zvlášť závažný zločin zneužití pravomoci úřední osoby podle § 329 odst. 1 písm. c), odst. 2 písm. b), e) tr. zákoníku, ve znění účinném do dne 30.11.2011. Komunism

Úřad dokumentace a vyšetřování zločinů komunismu

Pamětní deska MOTOL

Geologist and mountaineer Jarek Jakubec, who believes life as a refugee in the 1980s was easier than it is for today’s exiles, says leaving his parents behind was the hardest thing

Escape from communist Czechoslovakia: how one man crossed the Alps to freedom

More than four decades after Carmen Rohrbach tried to swim her way out of then-Communist East Germany, she has no regrets, despite getting caught and being sent to prison.

Rohrbach, now 71, had always wanted to be an explorer. As a child, she learned to ride horses in the hope of one day touring Mongolia. Her dreams were crushed when she completed her biology degree in eastern Germany.

No regrets: East Germans recall attempts to escape Communist state

Exactly 70 years ago, three former RAF pilots staged the greatest air escape in Czechoslovak history. Defying strict Communist security measures, they flew themselves, their families and a score of unsuspecting miners into West Germany. Their success brought them freedom, but also hastened the crackdown on any former RAF pilots remaining in Czechoslovakia.

The great air escape – how three former RAF pilots escaped communist Czechoslovakia by hijacking civilian planes

The Romanian government body that helped secure the convictions of Communist-era prison commanders is now probing border officers who shot people trying to escape the country.

Romania to Investigate Communist Border Troops Who Shot Defectors

He escaped from communist Czechoslovakia and lived in the USA for 50 years – Ján Gadžo

Three lives of Jan Gadzo 

The story of one woman’s courage in escaping communist Czechoslovakia with her two children

#JOURNALISM:  Glenn Greenwald On His Resignation From The Intercept. “The only reason people are getting interested in and ready to scrutinize what I write is because everyone is afraid of being accused of having published something harmful to Biden.”

Most of our institutions are run by people who care more about the opinion of their social group than about doing their jobs.

Friday, October 30, 2020

The Unspectacular Excellence / Joe Biden



Taronga Zoo Sydney is Australia's largest zoo, located in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia in the suburb of Mosman, on the shores of Sydney Harbour. It was officially opened on 7 October 1916.Wikipedia

The Unspectacular Excellence of Joe Biden’s Slow and Steady Campaign Politico

Fourteen of My Favorite Flowers

il faut cultiver notre jardin.

TEST AND FAKE Travellers using Photoshopped Covid test certificates to board flights as travel agents ‘sell negative results for £150′ The Sun 

Russia Has Secret Novichok Nerve-Agent Program, Bellingcat Says Bloomberg. I’m printing this not so much for the story — I mean, obviously Russia needs a Novichok program, because the stuff keeps embarrassingly failing in high profile cases — but because Bloomberg’s editor, who wrote the headline, is treating Blob creature Bellingcat as a serious source.

Magic Novichok Craig Murray

It’s Official: Solar Is the Cheapest Electricity in History Popular Mechanics 

Coronavirus: Germany improves ventilation to chase away Covid BBC. “Fresh air has, for a while now, been seen as a key to dealing with coronavirus too. L for Luft (air) was recently added to A for Abstand (distance), H for Hygiene and A for Alltagsmaske (mask) – the official government directives on how to live in corona times.” There’s a lot to be said for Victorian remedies

The code-breakers who led the rise of computing Nature. The headline is deceptive. The deck is better: “World wars, cold wars, cyberwars — marking a century of state surveillance at GCHQ.” The Five Eyes is mentioned only in the text.

Why the NSA Told Henry Kissinger to Drop Dead When He Tried to Cut Intel Links with Britain Daily Beast