Hello, it's Victor! Hope you're doing well. Got lots of very different things to share this month, as usual!
Wikipedia is the best website
- The Tree That Owns Itself is a tree in Athens, GA (actually, one of two trees) that “legally” owns itself and the land around it, and cannot be touched by the legal land owner.
- You may not have heard the word Monobloc, but you've definitely owned or seen one before. It is described as the world's most common plastic chair (“close to a billion Monoblocs have been sold in Europe alone"), because the original design had never been patented and it is so cheap to produce.
- The Muscular Christianity movement emerged in the mid-19th century and encourages self-discipline and athleticism, in order to Build Character™ and fight a “decrease in manliness” among followers of Christianity at a time where more women started to fight for their emancipation. The idea is rooted somewhere in building stamina to help serve others and “protect the weak” (yikes), and finding a moral outlet to let steam off. The movement is attributable to the birth of the YMCA and the modern Olympic Games — and, to some degree, to the British Empire).
- In Antarctica, the Suess glacier melts down to form Lake Chad. It was named as such by the researchers who discovered it, not for their name, but after “the brand of toilet paper they used, following getting sick from drinking the water.”
- The site of Stonehenge used to be private and owned by noble families for centuries until it was put up for auction and a local resident, Cecil Chubb, bought the site on a whim for £6,600, as he believed a local man should be the new owner. He gave it to the nation three years later.
- Talking about noble families: the Prince Philip Movement is a religious sect in Vanuatu who believes that the Duke of Edinburgh is a divine being. (He does seem to be immortal, so maybe they are onto something?)
- From this BBC article: “It is easy to see all this as so much South Seas mumbo jumbo. But that would be a grave mistake, anthropologists told me. Millennial movements like this were a highly sophisticated response by islanders in the South Pacific to the arrival of colonialism and Christianity. By combining the fundamentals of their ancient beliefs with new elements gleaned from their contact with the West, they were able to preserve their culture.” The article notes correctly that the irony is not lost on the Duke of Edinburgh who had newer photos of himself sent to the tribe, while continuing to make racist and colonial comments elsewhere.
- In TV, the graveyard slot is the name of the period between 2 and 6am where pretty much nobody is watching. The article details heavily all kinds of contents that may be aired during that time.
- TIL the Mona Lisa in the Louvre isn't the only, or first version of the painting: it was preceded by the Isleworth Mona Lisa. It was only confirmed to be a painting by da Vinci in 2016.
- Torpedo juice is American slang for alcoholic beverage, which originated in WW2 where Navy sailors would drink the 90º alcohol used as fuel mixed with pineapple juice, and filtering it through compressed bread to remove the methanol.
- The IKEA effect says that “when people construct a particular product themselves, even if they do a poor job of it, they value the end result more than if they had not put any effort into its creation”.
- “The IKEA effect may be said to manifest itself in situations when programmers have been invited to help (without payment) in creating open-source programs and operating systems, such as Linux.” It is also a useful effect to use in UX design.
It's adventure time
Everything is depressing
- For more than a half a century, the CIA was able to read encrypted communications between governments, by secretly owning the company that created this technology and placing a backdoor into it. “It was the intelligence coup of the century,” the report concludes. “Foreign governments were paying good money to the US and West Germany for the privilege of having their most secret communications read by at least two foreign countries.”
- A five-step plan to stop freaking out and tackle climate change. Again, I really resonate with this: “Know what you are fighting for, not just what you are fighting against. Imagine dense but livable cities veined with public transit and leafy parks, infrastructure humming away to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, fake meat that tastes better than the real thing, species recovering and rewilding the world…”. I spend a lot of time daydreaming about what that ideal life looks like, but yet how far we are from it. (via notoriousbigre and cailloux)
- Twitter is launching an attempt to label deepfakes, following Facebook's feeble and unclear attempt. In the same line, Google is releasing a tool to help journalists identify if a photo or video was a deepfake.
- Excellent longread: the high school students that uncovered a toxic waste scandal in the 90s, involving a mafia and Republicans turning a blind eye.
- Airbnb scams in London are an epidemic that may be bigger than it looks. This article is a great read, and gets weirder at every paragraph.
Good to look at
In my ears
Yes it's just 2020 things, and we're only in February. I'm really excited about what's coming this year in music.
Work! Design! Tech!
See you next month!