For Your Enjoyment #46

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Ladies and gentlemen, sows and boars, the Fattest Bear of 2018 is… 409 Beadnose! Bears must eat one year’s worth of food in six short months to survive hibernation, and 409 has excelled at that. Her radiant rolls were deemed by the voting public to be this year’s most fabulous flab. Our chubby champ has a few more weeks to chow down on lingering salmon carcasses before she heads up the mountains to dig herself a den and savor her victory. What does the she win for all this hard work? Stronger chances of living through the winter.

- This may be old news (c. October 2018), but I’m already looking ahead to Fat Bear Week 2019 (image above)

There’s nothing in our background, upbringing, or education that teaches you how to deal with someone who in broad daylight has just stolen your cookies. 

- A great little anecdote from Douglas Adams (h/t DM)

"San Francisco is like living in Disney World," said Woolson, a writer and designer. "There's no place like it, and if it were affordable, I'm sure I'd move back. But there's tradeoffs - everyone knows about the city already, they're so high on themselves." The Town, on the other hand, is less "showboat-y," he said. "Oakland is not out to impress anybody."

- The Town v. The City

“It was a very awkward time. I guess I kind of lost control of the faculty at some point,” [David Badger, Key School headmaster in the mid-1970s] said. “I thought they were good teachers. I thought they were honest people. I think I was naive as hell.”

Oof, Obezags

America has the same conversation after each mass shooting – the inevitable debate about gun control versus mental-health care (rarely both at the same time). It becomes factionalised, politicised and nothing changes. Then the next mass shooting happens. But it occurred to me that the one person we never speak to about mass shootings is the mass shooter himself (and it is, almost always, a him) – perhaps because they too often kill themselves or are dispatched by police. But if we could, we might ask them this: what would have stopped you doing what you did? You tell us. Would it have been some kind of counselling? Would it have been legislation that could have stopped you getting hold of the weapon that caused so much destruction? And what was it that drove you over the edge?

- This longread is heavy but worth a read when you’re ready

Six speakers are placed atop individual plinths and attached to an MP3 player that contains only the song; the entire thing is powered by solar energy with the promise that it will run "for all eternity."

- And now for some lighter topics: All Toto, All The Time

[The] Malaysian busker was about to call it day, as not many people gathered around to hear him sing. Just as he started to sing for fun, the cutest little audience showed up…

- Best crowd ever!

“The first sweater I made of a specific landmark was the Tower Bridge in London,” remembers [Sam] Barsky. “I was inspired by a picture I saw in a magazine. I had never been there before and did not make it for a specific trip. But, once I started knitting more landmarks, like the Golden Gate Bridge and Venice, I knew I wanted to go there while wearing them.”

- This guy though

We can do better in 2019. We must. There are, of course, many predictable ways to go about it. We can limit our exposure to the raw sewage of social media. We can turn off the cable news networks and opinion-bellowing podcasts to which we have turned to reinforce the beliefs we already had. We can meditate and run and get eight good hours of sleep a night. Enjoy all of that, and I'll see you when we're finished with it on January 6. But there is something else. Something deeper, more difficult and no less necessary. Something that can go a long way toward washing our souls clean of the cruelty that is the hallmark of our modern society. Something that can help prepare us for a 2019 that promises to be more exhausting, more bewildering, more chock full o' nuts. My friends, we must reckon with what we have done to Hootie and the Blowfish.

- No time for haters this year

In some circles (read: almost anywhere music critics gather to sacrifice young bass players and dance naked around a copy of Pet Sounds), Collins is the apotheosis of blandness and ubiquity, the byword for the bleaching of soul music, the man who killed Genesis and gave American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman a reason, and a soundtrack, to screw and kill. But for a musician who can count (somehow, perplexingly, but nonetheless quite seriously) Kanye West, 2Pac, Nas and Ol’ Dirty Bastard as fans, how can he be considered almost terminally uncool?

- In other musician-hating news, here’s a bit on Phil Collins

It’s funny, man, because I get asked this all the time: How you feel about this new NBA, AI? How you feel about these boys getting into FASHION? How you feel about this next big wave of players in the league REJECTING your style? I really have to speak on this, huh. O.K. — people are getting it twisted if they think these players showing love for fashion is about rejecting my style. Nah, man, that’s not it. All you have to do is go back and actually look at what I stood for, and you’ll see what I mean. It’s crazy….. people really are just out here saying that I stood for baggy clothes? Or that I stood for fitteds? Or cornrows? Or tattoos? Or throwbacks? Or anything like that? Nah, come on. What I stood for was something way deeper. I mean — to me, if I had to sum it up? I’d say I stood for being yourself.

- This AI essay for The Players Tribune is worth a read

With major implications on everything from the classroom to the church pews, from the Capitol to the dinner table, an unrelenting demographic shift has hit a major milestone: Fewer than half the people living in Salt Lake County are on the rolls of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…Salt Lake County has not only become less LDS over time, it also has added more people from various racial or ethnic backgrounds, noted Pam Perlich, the director of demographic research at the University of Utah’s Gardner Policy Institute, which puts out the state’s population estimates.

- SLC: Slowly Becoming Less Mormon and Less White?

Utah ranks No. 1 among the states for its population growth rate this decade — thanks to its high birthrate plus a strong economy that attracts people from other states and abroad…With immigration increases over recent years, [Pam Perlich, director of demographic research at the University of Utah's Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute] said, “We are on our way to becoming a very large global metropolitan area. We can expect the continued arrival of international people because the labor market is global at this point.” Perlich said national and state projections show most future growth will “be generated by these diverse populations who immigrate to the country and then have kids.” For example, the Salt Lake City School District says its students speak 90 languages, and most of its schools now have a majority of students who are minorities. In 2018, Utah ranked No. 3 for growth at 1.9 percent behind two of its neighbors. Nevada and Idaho led the nation, both at about 2.1 percent. “It shows the strength of the Intermountain region,” Perlich said.

- Guess we’re all moving to Utah these days

We can’t quite put our finger on why, but Washington, DC, is feeling a bit tense lately. If the idea of taking a tour of the Capitol Building has you breaking out in a cold sweat, it’s time to turn your attention to the other nearby towns in the mid-Atlantic area, like beautiful, blood-pressure-lowering Annapolis.

- The Matador knows what’s up

In October, a team of Target Malaria scientists from the University of Ghana and the University of Oxford will embark on a four-year study of the ecology of the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae in Ghana. Ultimately, they hope to understand how fish, bats, flowers, and insects would respond if those mosquito populations were reduced—or even entirely eliminated. Previous research has danced around this question, Thizy says, but “nobody has really studied it on purpose.”…Target Malaria is careful to say its goal isn’t to eliminate all mosquitoes or even all malaria mosquitoes. Its goal is to eliminate malaria—and it is possible that simply suppressing Anopheles gambiae numbers is enough to break the cycle of transmission. Wiping entire mosquito species off the face of the Earth would be much harder, and maybe even a touch delusional. Yet mosquitoes really don’t have many defenders, even among the scientists who know them most intimately. The idea of eradicating mosquitoes to stop malaria doesn’t particularly bother Steven Juliano, a mosquito-ecology researcher at Illinois State University. “It might be worth losing one species,” he says. “It might be worth it because the burden of human suffering is pretty high.”

- What would happen if mosquitoes were to disappear?

Over here, we Scandis are the object of much envy. But not for the obvious reasons — like our high quality of life, our equality or even the fact that we’ve supplied like a third of the cast of Game of Thrones at this point. No, it’s for small aspects of our culture that a group of advertising executives somewhere saw fit to export and aggressively market as something that's frankly not really true to who we are. I'm talking about the obsession with (and, more importantly, the misunderstanding of) hygge.  Hygge, a Danish word defined as "a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being," has been practically weaponised in recent years in an effort to sell candles, socks, and blankets. Hygge was never a lifestyle, but it's certainly marketed as one over here by people wishing to cash in on the Scandi-zeitgeist.

- A word on hygge appropriation

The Ruth Bader Ginsburg celebration, therefore, isn’t strictly about RBG at all; it’s about DJT. With a president who knowingly sets himself up as an icon of one pole of American politics, it’s about picking (or even inventing) a rival icon to rally around—a way to rebel against a president who openly vows to fill the nation’s courtrooms with like-minded judges, most of them hostile to the concepts of due process and equal protection that liberals hold dear. But in its very presence as an anti-movement, a liberal call to arms to thwart Trump and Mitch McConnell and the Federalist Society, the cult of RBG furthers the politicization of the court. It’s a form of surrender to the “everything’s political” argument that enables Trump to traduce boundaries of propriety that have existed for decades, dismissing the existence of any sort of independence or professionalism in government institutions.

- RBG fever vs. the politicizing of the Supreme Court

“Typically, women should have fair skin, be 162cm to 168cm tall [over 170cm is too tall] … weigh less than 48kg, have large eyes, a perfect nose, and long hair,” said the Korean gender studies expert. “These standards are common [for women] when applying for part-time jobs that don’t require much skill. ‘If a cashier is pretty then customers will enjoy the experience better, [therefore] we should hire pretty girls’ – this becomes treated like a true statement.” Ultimately, women should be allowed to be themselves, she adds. “We should see women as they are, rather than only accepting them when they’re decorated and dolled up. 

- South Korea’s beauty standards are out of control

While Wallace Stegner’s notion that parks are “America’s best idea” has become synonymous with the nation’s love for them, there’s a little more to his famous 1983 line. The Pulitzer prize winner went on to describe the parks as a mirror for America’s national character: “They reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” Considering the problems besetting them, his sentiment now seems open to question.

- The struggle of trying to reconcile our love for the NPS vs. contributing to the problem of over-tourism

[T]he title “Greatest of All Time” is being abused. Rampantly. It’s become almost irrelevant, like Maria Sharapova, Bryon Russell or the entire AFC outside of New England. Because hardly anybody seems to care what the phrase really means. To be called GOAT these days, you can merely be among the best, or popular in that moment, or a really good quarterback with one ring. Folks talk GOAT if you win the first five starts of your NFL career. There are allegedly two GOATs on the same high school football team and three GOATs in the same sport. Do we not understand the meaning of the word “greatest” — that there can be only one?

- “We’re being overrun by a herd of GOATs

There’s a vibe here. You see it in the other guys and in Coach Kerr and the front office, and you feel it in the staff and everyone else. Nobody is thinking about anything but a championship. They carry themselves like it. I’ve been missing basketball — and playing ball, that’s what it’s always been about for me. I found a new place where I’m being welcomed with open arms. I’ll be back at 100% this season. A year from now, looking back, I know this is going to be the best decision I ever made.

- BOOGIE

…And finally, courtesy of the LA Times, here are "Five hopeful poems to usher in the new year