Weekly Reader: Vol 2 Issue 20

It’s time once more for all the news and views that you can peruse! It’s another Weekly Reader! As always, if you want to be part of the action, drop a link or three in the comments! Sharing is caring, after all.

The Epstein-funded MIT lab has an ambitious project that purports to revolutionize agriculture. Insiders say it’s mostly smoke and mirrors. (from Business Insider): “On one occasion, Cerqueira said, her coworkers were told to fetch basil grown from a nearby location and place it into the personal food computers to make it look like it had been grown inside the boxes.

“They wanted the best looking plants in there,” Cerqueira told Business Insider. “They were always looking for funding.”

In another instance, Harper told Cerqueira to buy edible lavender plants from a nearby flower’s market and place them in the boxes for a photoshoot, she said. Before any photos were taken, she carefully dusted off the tell-tale soil on the plants’ roots.”

Shakesville’s unravelling and the not-so-golden age of blogging (from The Outline): “In its early days, a typical Shakesville comment thread was a freewheeling affair full of jokes and wordplay and cringey (but, I assure you, very cool at the time) snark. We expressed frustration at homophobes by typing “OH NO TEH GAY!!!1eleven!!!” and came up with dozens of ways to call George W. Bush an illiterate child. I hosted a feature called Tart’s Poetry Corner, where we chatted about James Dickey and Sharon Olds. We made real friends. The stakes were low.

But somewhere around the 2008 election, under the pressure of moderate popularity, Shakesville suffered the Internet equivalent of a collective psychotic break.”

DILBERT CREATOR SCOTT ADAMS IS THE WORST BLOGGER (from The Outline): “Ruminations on 1990s white-collar ennui seem quaint when viewed through a 21st-century lens. Adams based Dilbert on his experiences working as a financial analyst in the late 1980s, but offices have changed a lot in the interim 30 years. The salaried cubicle jobs rejected in Office Space and Fight Club are now objects of desire for survivors of the dot-com bubble and the 2007 financial crisis. The ersatz futurism of the sterile modernist office, unintentionally paying homage to Schindler’s List by sucking the color out of everything but a red iMac G3, is now a source of nostalgia. It could be a “grass is always greener” thing — or it could be that gaining the ability to fuck around online on the clock fundamentally transformed the nature of office work — but a not-insignificant portion of ’90s media is now incurably dated. The standard reaction to this development for those who created such media seems to be a turn toward far-right politics. Fight Club often finds itself misinterpreted by neo-fascists. Office Space creator Mike Judge regularly pals around with Alex Jones, at whose recent request he brought Western culture to its nadir by saying “Infowars dot com” in the Beavis and Butt-Head voice. Scott Adams, though less adept at creating an animated series (the Dilbert TV show lasted two seasons on the now-defunct network UPN), followed a similar path.”

Juul gave presentations in schools to kids—and the FDA is fuming (from ars technica): “According to Mintz, when alone with the students, a Juul representative allegedly presented a “mixed message” by saying Juul products were “totally safe” and then “followed up every ‘totally safe’ with ‘but we don’t want you as customers.’” The representative also took out a Juul device, called it the “iPhone of vapes,” and showed the students how it worked. Mintz testified that his classmates were given the impression that the products were just a “flavor device that didn’t have any harmful substances in it.””

For decades, Ireland’s mother and baby homes were shrouded in secrecy. Some say the veil still hasn’t lifted (from CNN): “They walk in front of an unassuming patch of grass, a square bit of land flanked by a children’s playground on a housing estate. Behind them, a Virgin Mary statue hangs on the site’s gray walls, a perimeter of aging stone punctuated by green vines that climb over the parapet. In the corner, a tiny pair of children’s shoes are attached to the wall in memoriam.

Below their feet lie the bodies of hundreds of babies.

Any of the group walking there today could have been among them. But they were the fortunate ones.

They are the survivors.”

Trump Is Not Well (from The Atlantic): “But if a clinical diagnosis is beyond my own expertise, Trump’s psychological impairments are obvious to all who are not willfully blind. On a daily basis we see the president’s chaotic, unstable mind on display. Are we supposed to ignore that?”

Veterinarians Are Killing Themselves. An Online Group Is There To Listen And Help (from NPR): “Veterinarians are killing themselves in alarming numbers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found male vets are 2.1 times as likely and female vets 3.5 times as likely to die by suicide compared with the general population. The much higher rate for women is especially concerning as more than 60% of vets are women.

“I had 86 people in my vet school class,” Jurney says. “Graduating class of 2005. Three of them are gone. Died by their own hand.””

Attention Angry White People: 8 New Rules (from Medium): “I wonder how some of the horrible white people we are seeing on a daily basis these days insisting in the local Starbucks that the people a table away (who weren’t talking to them) SPEAK ENGLISH!!! or castigating the waiter in the MEXICAN restaurant where they were buying tacos (!!!) to GO BACK WHERE YOU CAME FROM (“Unh … it’s my restaurant…”) are eventually going to deal with the fact that their lily white bum gets wiped by a foreigner or it doesn’t get wiped at all. That should be a day of reckoning, for sure.”

How an Élite University Research Center Concealed Its Relationship with Jeffrey Epstein (from The New Yorker): “The documents and sources suggest that there was more to the story. They show that the lab was aware of Epstein’s history—in 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges of solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution—and of his disqualified status as a donor. They also show that Ito and other lab employees took numerous steps to keep Epstein’s name from being associated with the donations he made or solicited. On Ito’s calendar, which typically listed the full names of participants in meetings, Epstein was identified only by his initials. Epstein’s direct contributions to the lab were recorded as anonymous. In September, 2014, Ito wrote to Epstein soliciting a cash infusion to fund a certain researcher, asking, “Could you re-up/top-off with another $100K so we can extend his contract another year?” Epstein replied, “yes.” Forwarding the response to a member of his staff, Ito wrote, “Make sure this gets accounted for as anonymous.” Peter Cohen, the M.I.T. Media Lab’s Director of Development and Strategy at the time, reiterated, “Jeffrey money, needs to be anonymous. Thanks.””

Monopoly was invented to demonstrate the evils of capitalism (from The BBC): “Born in 1866, Magie was an outspoken rebel against the norms and politics of her times. She was unmarried into her 40s, independent and proud of it, and made her point with a publicity stunt. Taking out a newspaper advertisement, she offered herself as a ‘young woman American slave’ for sale to the highest bidder. Her aim, she told shocked readers, was to highlight the subordinate position of women in society. ‘We are not machines,’ she said. ‘Girls have minds, desires, hopes and ambition.’”

‘The women are hurting’ (from The Houston Chronicle): “For decades, Paige Patterson has been a towering figure in the Southern Baptist Convention, having led the nation’s second-largest faith group toward a literal interpretation of the Bible and limits on the role of women in churches.

And for much of that time, the former SBC president has rebuffed criticism of his role in a scandal that victims’ rights advocates say is emblematic of the SBC’s broader failure to oust prolific sexual predators from the pulpit: the case of Darrell Gilyard, a dynamic young preacher who was mentored and assisted by Patterson amid allegations of sexual misconduct at churches in Texas and Oklahoma.”

That’s all for this week. Drop by again for more links you might find interesting. So until then, happy reading to you!

About Silverwynde

I'm a Transformers fan, Pokémon player, Brewers fan and all-out general nerd. I rescue abandoned Golett, collect as many Bumblebee decoys and figures as I can find and I've attended every BotCon--official and non--since 1999. I'm also happily married to a fellow Transfan named Prime and we were both owned by a very intelligent half-Siamese cat, who crossed the Rainbow Bridge on June 16, 2018. We still miss him. But we're now the acting staff of a Maine Coon kitty named Lulu, who pretty much rules the house. Not that we're complaining about that.
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