Plastic Hearts

The thylacine was hunted to extinction as a supposedly large predator, but was only half as heavy as thought. The lessons of a 140-year-old thylacine brain sample.

Indo-European languages originated 8100 years ago.

A human genome has been recovered from 5700-year-old chewing gum.

Microplastics have been found in human hearts.

A UK scheme to reuse waste heat from cloud computing.

Why there was no water to fight the fires in Maui.

Climate scientists’ worst fears are here.

20 August 2023 · Environment

Everybody Movement

One woman’s mission to maintain accurate Nazi history on Wikipedia.

Twitter’s future is a return to Elon Musk’s past.

The AI jokes that give a screenwriter nightmares.

AI Johnny Cash sings “Barbie Girl”.

A New Zealand supermarket AI meal-planner app suggested a recipe that would create chlorine gas.

Every Eurodance song in the 1990s.

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20 August 2023 · Weblog

The Last Day of Our Acquaintance

The news about Sinead O’Connor in recent years hasn’t been good, so sadly her death last month wasn’t as much of a shock as, say, Dolores O’Riordan’s, but it’s still awful. She would have made a brilliant elderly firebrand. An interview with Shirley Manson of Garbage on how the world destroyed her idol rings so true.

The video of her cover with the late Terry Hall of 1970 Eurovision winner Dana’s “All Kinds of Everything” is lovely, especially the moments where her face lights up. It’s available on her Collaborations album of 2005, if you’re wanting to track down a clean recording.

I hope we’ll get to hear her delayed—and now final—album, No Veteran Dies Alone.

20 August 2023 · Music

Fanfare for Cardinal Fang

Last week we once again caught the train to London to see our son perform with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain for the 28th concert of this year’s Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. It was another great concert, with engrossing performances of works by Paul Hindemith, Richard Strauss and Aaron Copland, most of which I hadn’t heard before (apart from “Fanfare for the Common Man” incorporated into Copland’s third symphony); and rousing encores at the end of each half. We were sat above the orchestra, looking down on them and the rest of the audience—an excellent view, although it meant the sound was sometimes heading away from us. If you’re curious, the BBC Radio 3 broadcast is available online for the next two months, and the concert will be on BBC television and iPlayer in a week or so.

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9 August 2023 · Journal

Murals and Museums

A few weekends ago I popped over to Glasgow on the train to catch up with my cousin, who was in town for a while. It was the first time I’d passed through Queen Street station since its revamp, thanks to the pandemic, although I drove my son to the outskirts of the city last year for a concert. It meant I was able to appreciate some of the new murals that have sprung up around Merchant City in recent years, as I walked to the Cathedral to meet my cousin. I’d never been inside the Cathedral, either; it’s impressively mediaeval for such a Victorian city.

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3 August 2023 · Journal

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