The fascinating history of the broomstick wedding, which somehow came to be shared by marginal groups all around the Atlantic, from poor Welsh farmers to poor Louisiana Cajuns to enslaved African Americans. I am fascinated by things that spread from one common person or another, beneath the radar of elite chroniclers; my favorite is hot peppers, which went global without any elite writer noticing.
12,000 years ago, European hunters liked to use arrow points made from human bone. Alas, the science can't tell us if they used their ancestors or their enemies.
Giving Republicans more information about the toll of the Coronavirus does not change their opinions, but instead increases their belief that the crisis is overblown.
The mysterious phisher who has been getting authors to send him or her copies of unpublished manuscripts by posing as an editor or agent; nobody knows who is doing this, or why; this has been going on for years without any attempt to profit from the thefts. (NY Times)
Insect flight in extreme slow motion.
Microsoft's description of the Solar Winds cyberattack, moderately technical but fascinating.
Good NY Times story on the lawsuits by voting machine companies against right-wing media operations that have been hyping election fraud.
Justin Amash introduces bill to end civil asset forfeiture, one of the issues on which I agree 100% with libertarians. Amash is retiring and the bill won't go anywhere, but still.
In Houston, a private investigator hired to look into electoral fraud rammed a truck and pointed a gun at its driver, thinking it contained 750,000 stolen ballots. It was hauling air conditioner parts. (Washington Post) The truly weird thing about this is the belief that electoral fraud would involve "stolen ballots" that would somehow still be out there in trucks or warehouses, waiting to be discovered.
The Covid Christmas sweater flashes and sounds an alarm when anyone gets within six feet.
Worldwide, livestock produce more greenhouse gases than cars, but studies have found that mixing seaweed into cows' feed can reduce their methane production by 80%.
The UT Austin computer science department developed a machine-learning system to help it evaluate applicants to its graduate school, then abandoned it. The parameters the system learned to focus on show the inherent shallowness of the applications process.
The decline in hunting in the US is leading to funding problems for wildlife agencies, which get most of their money from licenses and taxes on guns. (Washington Post)
The population of the Iberian lynx has risen from around 100 twenty years ago to nearly 1,000 today.
Geologists are making new discoveries about Mars working from an 8-trillion pixel image of the whole planet.
Thirteen strange animal feet.
Danish mink and the problem of human-animal disease transmission. (NY Times)