Happy Sunday to you all! We hope you're holding up OK and staying safe; it's incredible to me that in all the stuff going on, my home state had a literal 6.5 magnitude earthquake Tuesday and somehow that was just a one-day story, though that's mostly due to the fact that it was in a remote area, and there was no serious damage or injuries. Also, no, it's not connected to the Yellowstone supervolcano or fracking. But that was a pretty interesting 15 seconds here in Boise.
And now, let us get on with the Nice Things!
Stuff To Read!
The New York Times has a pretty cool story on the medical illustrators who created the iconic image of the SARS-CoV-2 virus -- that spiky ball I've been photoshopping into all the pictures of Donald Trump. Alissa Eckert and Dan Higgins
were asked to create "an identity" for the virus. "Something to grab the public's attention," she said. Ms. Eckert expected that whatever they came up with might appear on a few cable news programs, as their creations had in the past.
Instead, as the pandemic spread and intensified, their rendering's reach did, too. "It started popping up around the world," she said.
Eckert also created an illustration of "a cluster of Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacteria that cause gonorrhea," for a 2019 report on antibiotic-resistant bugs. The Times says,
In her portrayal, the bacteria float like jellyfish, their tentacle-like pili intertwined. The aim was to "make them look like they're really alive," she said, "so you know to be aware of them."
True enough. But the Times was too polite to say the image also makes our inner 12-year-old say, wow, they LOOK LIKE NARDS!
Beyond our puerile smirking, the article is a really nice look at a professional who brings the tools of art to scientific communication — the kind of "how they do it" stuff I'm a complete sucker for.
Also pretty cool is this interview at Electric Literature with science fiction writer Ted Chiang, who helps explain what kind of disaster novel we're living in right now:
While there has been plenty of fiction written about pandemics, I think the biggest difference between those scenarios and our reality is how poorly our government has handled it. If your goal is to dramatize the threat posed by an unknown virus, there's no advantage in depicting the officials responding as incompetent, because that minimizes the threat; it leads the reader to conclude that the virus wouldn't be dangerous if competent people were on the job. A pandemic story like that would be similar to what's known as an "idiot plot," a plot that would be resolved very quickly if your protagonist weren't an idiot. What we're living through is only partly a disaster novel; it's also—and perhaps mostly—a grotesque political satire.
Idiot plot. That sounds about right.
Update On Our Invasion Of The Slog's Book Club
This scene's much funnier with John Cleese and Eric Idle
Kids, I really let you down last week: Tuesday, we were gonna invade The Slog's Quarantine Club, which is discussing Albert Camus's The Plague, but right around the time their discussion of Part Three of the novel went up, Boise went and had a earthquake and I was kind of useless for the rest of the evening. And I just couldn't kick myself in the pants to go say anything about that section of the novel the rest of the week, either. (It's probably the most depressing part, which didn't help, either.) But I was happy to see that at least one Wonkette reader did show up to add their two cents, and it was a good comment, too.
So, in the spirit of Boxer the horse, I Will Work Harder, and this Tuesday, April 7, when the discussion of Part Four of the book goes up, I will be there. So hey, let's try this again and see how it goes, shall we? To get a sense of where their discussion has been, supplement your reading with their discussions of Part One, Part Two, and Part Three of the novel, and we'll be all ready to go when the post on Part Four goes up, in the late afternoon. Bring cakes we like!
The reading schedule for the rest of the book is:
- Part Four: Tuesday, April 7
- Part Five: Tuesday, April 14
Bring On The Twitter Stuff, Will Ya Dok?
OK! I shall.As you might expect, the usual cute animals were supplemented by bored humans at home this week. Like Patti LuPone, who knows how to do April 1 right: not so much a prank as just flat out fabulousness.
Stupid Human Tricks! Don't try this at home. Unless you record it.
Some people use their quarantine for crafts. Others are members of my karass.
Well yes, I had to follow this account, of course I did:
Pareidolia, it'll troll ya.
The Pairi Daiza zoo in Domaine du Cambron, Belgium, has a family of Asian small-clawed otters living along the little stream that flows through its orangutan enclosure. It's part of the zoo's goal of keeping the great apes "entertained, occupied, challenged and kept busy mentally, emotionally and physically at all times," as a zoo spokesperson put it. The otters and the orangs seem to like the arrangement.
Plus, it's a heck of a good setup for a D&D joke from fantasy/horror writer Sam Sykes, who you should of course follow.
"Fine, I cast detect canned clams"
You may have heard about the goats that have taken over that town in Wales now that there's practically no traffic. They're ready to rumble with the 5 to 6 feral hogs in Italy that have done likewise.
I've told you before you should follow Dick King-Smith, who wrote the story that became the movie Babe. Here's another reminder.
King-Smith elicits the nicest replies, too!
The Atlantic' s Adam Serwer isn't just one of the sharpest political writers out there, he also has kitties and a baby.
This may well be the platonic ideal of baby pictures. The bright eyes. The knowing half-smile. The arm chubs. The polite hands. The curled toesies.
Blanket cats. I especially like Elsie's discovery of the obvious culprit: her tail.
Tough but accurate:
Yes, I still like the AI-generated cat pics, and no, I will not stop posting them.
Historian Kevin Gannon's doggos will get us all through this.
Ahem. Puppy Yoshi. I repeat, puppy Yoshi:
Foster fails (where you end up keeping the animal you were only going to have for a short while) are the BEST fails.
Stay home, be safe, wash your hands, don't wash your cats' hands, and have a good Sunday!