May 6, 2020
[covid-19] Not the Onion: World Will Be Same But Worse After ‘Banal’ Virus, Says Houellebecq‘He described COVID-19 as a “banal virus” with “no redeeming qualities… It’s not even sexually transmitted.”‘
March 10, 2020
[crime] A Brutal Murder, a Wearable Witness, and an Unlikely Suspect … Fascinating true-crime story about using a heartbeat tracking smartwatch as evidence in a murder case. ‘As Karen’s body was unzipped from the body bag and laid out at the morgue, the coroner took note of a black band still encircling her left wrist: a Fitbit Alta HR—a smartwatch that tracks heartbeat and movement. A judge signed a warrant to extract its data, which seemed to tell the story Karen couldn’t: On Saturday, September 8, five days before she was found, Karen’s heart rate had spiked and then plummeted. By 3:28 in the afternoon, the Fitbit wasn’t registering a heartbeat.’
February 18, 2020
[weird] The Russian Conspiracy Theory That Won’t Die … Interesting summary of the Dyatlov Pass incident. ‘The group began moving toward the slope of Peak 1079, known among the region’s indigenous people as “Dead Mountain.” A photograph showed the lead skiers disappearing into sheets of whipping snow as the weather worsened. Later that night, the nine experienced trekkers burst out of their tent half-dressed and fled to their deaths in a blizzard. Some of their corpses were found with broken bones; one was missing her tongue. For decades, few people beyond the group’s friends and family were aware of the event. It only became known to the wider public in 1990, when a retired official’s account ignited a curiosity that soon metastasized.’
January 30, 2020
[wtf?] 32 Minutes of Soothing, Relaxing, Meditating Vietnam War Sounds for Studying and Thinking … War as relaxing white noise. You can also try: WW1 and WW2.

May 1, 2019
[canals] Does Birmingham Have More Canals Than Venice? … Jez Higgins compares the two cities. ‘In fact, the difference between the two is rather less than you might think – Birmingham has around 58km of canal, while Venice has 42km. Given a population about around a million against Venice’s 62,000, that actually means that Birmingham is vastly under-canaled. It has a trifling 5⅘cm of canal per head of population against Venice’s magisterial 67¾cm. For Birmingham to reach Venice-equality we would need to build another 620km of canal.’