For Your Enjoyment #44


Credibly, some have noted that Patagonia and [company CEO Rose] Marcario were, at the end of the day, corporate, capitalist figures and that — despite its messaging — the company's campaign did serve to promote and help the brand (at least in the eyes of left-leaning customers). Yes, both Marcario and her company have been generally consistent and thorough in their support of environmental causes and criticism of the worst parts of the GOP agenda (they've assailed specific politicians, platform planks and bills in the past). There's no denying, however, that Patagonia is a for-profit enterprise and that, for all the good it does, it exists to make money. In its efforts to do so, Patagonia contributes to the industrialization of the environmental tourism trend which, in itself, can pose a threat to some of the very national monuments it seeks to protect.

Patagonia’s “The President Stole Your Land” raises some tough questions (image above)

“I lift up the animal’s tail,” said Joanne Crawford, a wildlife ecologist at Southern Illinois University, “and I’m like, ‘Get down there, and stick your nose near its bum...People think I’m nuts. I tell them, ‘Oh, but it’s beavers; it smells really good.'”

Ever wonder from where vanilla flavoring comes?

In software engineering, rubber duck debugging or rubber ducking is a method of debugging code. The name is a reference to a story in the book "The Pragmatic Programmer" in which a programmer would carry around a rubber duck and debug their code by forcing themselves to explain it, line-by-line, to the duck.

- I'm going to require my students to start carrying around rubber ducks (h/t DM)

The richest way to see “Le Petit Prince” is as an extended parable of the kinds and follies of abstraction—and the special intensity and poignance of the story is that Saint-Exupéry dramatizes the struggle against abstraction not as a philosophical subject but as a life-and-death story. The book moves from asteroid to desert, from fable and comedy to enigmatic tragedy, in order to make one recurrent point: You can’t love roses. You can only love a rose.

- The Strange Triumph of "The Little Prince"

“The images are shortlisted by how funny they are and the technical quality of their photograph,” says contest co-founder and co-judge Paul Joynson-Hicks, “subsequently the [finalists] are judged purely on their humour and content.”

20 Top Photos from the 2017 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards (h/t TheCoolComfort)

Poverty porn, wrote Jorgen Lissner, who first popularised the term in 1981 as an appropriate label for the aid campaigns targeting developing countries, “exposes something in human life that is as delicate and deeply personal as sexuality, that is, suffering ... It puts people’s bodies, their misery, their grief and their fear on display with all the details and all the indiscretion that a telescopic lens will allow.”

- Poverty porn: well-intentioned but harmless nonetheless?

It all started with the muffin top, that telltale spillage of flesh over the top of a tight waistband. Then came the bingo wing, the supposedly shaming droop of flesh beneath middle-aged arms; or maybe it was the cankle (chubby ankle), or the saggy knee. I forget now. It’s hard for women to keep track of which specific body part is currently being shamed to death, when it seems to be open season on all of them. But even by the demented standards of female self-flagellation, the emergence of “arm vagina” – aka the slight fold of flesh created where the average arm meets the average body – is a low point. If you’re reading this in a public place and unable immediately to check whether you have arm vagina, then let me help; you almost certainly do. Everyone does. It’s basically a normal human armpit, which tends to involve some spare capacity in the flesh department, what with it being difficult to raise your arm otherwise.

- These body-shaming fads need to stop. 

Telling the truth about sexual abuse is hard for anyone, but it has particular challenges in the conservative, Mormon community of Utah where Carol [not her real name] was raised for most of her life and where she now lives. Carol, who identifies as a Mormon feminist, sees a parallel with powerful men in Hollywood and those in the Mormon church. “It’s men in power taking advantage of their positions of authority,” she said. “In the LDS church or any patriarchal religious community, it’s even more condensed and insulated, and there’s a lot of pressure to forgive and to not rock the boat.”...According to Uniform Crime Reports, the rape rate in Utah has been consistently higher than the US rate; it’s the only violent crime in Utah that occurs at a higher rate than the rest of the nation. [Tara Tulley, a therapist practicing in the predominantly Mormon community of Utah ] said these reported rapes represent only a small portion of the actual numbers. In Utah, she said, the internalized shame runs deep. “Our [Mormon] culture objectifies women’s bodies. You’re told that if you’re wearing something immodest, you are walking pornography. It’s your responsibility to control how men see you,” Tulley said. This is reflected in Mormon literature: “Central to the command to be modest is an understanding of the sacred power of procreation, the ability to bring children into the world,” reads the official church website at “Revealing and sexually suggestive clothing, which includes short shorts and skirts, tight clothing, and shirts that do not cover the stomach, can stimulate desires and actions that violate the Lord’s law of chastity.” 

- Mormon women and the #metoo movement

In the fall of 2013, Charlotte Lindqvist got a call from a film company making an Animal Planet documentary about the yeti, the mythical apelike creature that roams the Himalayas. So, not the kind of thing scientists usually like to mess with. “Friends or colleagues were saying, ‘Oh, watch out. Don’t get into this whole area,’” she recalls with a laugh. But she said yes. Lindqvist said yes because she is a geneticist who studies bears, and the rare Himalayan brown bear is one possible origin of the yeti legend. The team from Icon Films wanted to use science to investigate whether the yeti is real; Lindqvist wanted to investigate the enigmatic bears of the Himalayas.

- Is the Yeti actually just a bunch of bears?

I have to be honest: I really don’t understand white people. They’re confusing! I mean, white people are in charge of everything in America, they dominate government, business, finance, tech, real estate—every industry that matters—and yet guess who feels like they’re discriminated against? That’s right, white people, some 55% of whom say whites are discriminated against in America today, according to a new NPR/Robert Wood Johnson/Harvard poll. Now, this is not entirely a surprise—a 2011 Harvard study found a similar conclusion: “Whites see racism as a zero sum game they are now losing.” White people may be consistent but they’re still confusing. I don’t understand how people with such a tight grip on power in America could be so insecure about it. So I decided to ask some white people about it.

- Racial discrimination against white people: real or perceived?  

Jeremy was found dead on Wednesday. But "the sad news comes with a bittersweet twist," writes the University of Nottingham. "Shortly before his death, Jeremy was finally able to produce offspring after mating three times with another 'lefty' snail, ensuring that his legacy will live on through continuing genetic studies into his rare mutation."

- Jeremy: A Snail Love Story

The point is that [Billy] Corgan’s dissociation with truth is hardly headline-worthy news. The question is, has Corgan gone from harmless reality-star-level-insanity to purveyor of toxic ideologies, and what should we do about it?

- What do I do if the frontman of my all-time favorite band is actually kind of toxic?   

“We take a kind of vow of poverty to continue practicing our profession,” Debra Leigh Scott, who is working on a documentary about adjuncts, said in an email. “We do it because we are dedicated to scholarship, to learning, to our students and to our disciplines.” Adjuncting has grown as funding for public universities has fallen by more than a quarter between 1990 and 2009. Private institutions also recognize the allure of part-time professors: generally they are cheaper than full-time staff, don’t receive benefits or support for their personal research, and their hours can be carefully limited so they do not teach enough to qualify for health insurance. This is why adjuncts have been called “the fast-food workers of the academic world”: among labor experts adjuncting is defined as “precarious employment”, a growing category that includes temping and sharing-economy gigs such as driving for Uber. 

- Homelessness, sex work, shame, dedication and outright poverty: the glamorous life of The Adjunct Professor Next Door  

You can find house cats on every continent except Antarctica. But that wasn't always the case. How did cats make it across oceans and into households worldwide? The secret lies in ancient cat DNA, which a team of scientists traced back thousands of years. They report their results in a paper recently published in the journal Nature. Here's how cats spread across the world. 

- An animated map of how cats spread across the world!