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Experts monitoring the loss of Scythian artefacts have been shocked at scale of theft by Putin's forces

The people the Greeks called Scythians were formidable warriors and nomads who dominated the Eurasian steppe for more than 1,000 years from about 800BC – long before the creation of national borders.

The fabulous gold weapons and ornaments they left behind ended up in museums across the region, many of them in Ukraine. Since Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February, however, much Scythian gold – along with millions of other priceless artefacts – has been looted or "evacuated".

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The Qatar World Cup Is History

Picture scenes of a battle or from a play; a massive religious ritual; a game of chess. The penalty kick that decided the Argentina-Netherlands quarterfinal game was all of these things.

Overhead footage showed the Argentine goalie Emiliano Martínez at far left; seated alone on the turf, he looked as if he was surrounded by a sea of grass. By blocking two earlier penalty kicks from the Dutch team, Martínez orchestrated this opportunity. If his team's ball went into the opponent's net, Argentina would win.

It did. The kick was perfect; the ball was untouchable, streaking into its target.

The Dutch players collapsed in shock and sorrow while the Argentines ran past and jeered at them, arms raised, shouting. The star Argentine forward Lionel Messi, however, looked downward as he cheered, almost pensive. As his teammates rushed toward the goal scorer to celebrate, Messi arced in the opposite direction, streaking across the field to join Martínez—the goalie who made the moment possible, now collapsed forward onto the pitch with arms outstretched, his face in the turf. Messi arrived and gathered him up in his arms.

Later, we learned that something else was happening in Lusail stadium at the same time: Grant Wahl, the beloved and brilliant American soccer journalist, had collapsed during extended time and was being treated by medics before being taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead that evening. The outpouring of grief around his loss made clear how precious he was as a voice about and for soccer, as someone who had pushed political boundaries in his coverage and always generously supported others. Looking back, it is now impossible to watch those moving scenes—so full of joy for the Argentines and their supporters, and of pain for the Dutch team and its fans—without also mourning a great loss.

As the World Cup comes to a close, the speed and intensity of what we have just collectively experienced is bewildering. And although these experiences have been shared, they have also been fragmented into millions of feelings and interpretations on a global scale.

A few weeks ago, as the event began, the conversation that surrounded it was dominated by political and ethical questions. Whether the intense controversies over Qatar being awarded the tournament in the first place, the well-documented abuses of laborers who built the most expensive sporting infrastructure in the tournament's history, or the obsessive suppression of pro-LGBTQ rainbow imagery in any form by stadium security, there was much to be concerned and outraged about. Teams and players debated how to respond to FIFA's unprecedented threat to sanction any player who wore a rainbow armband on the pitch to protest Qatar's criminalization of same-sex relationships. Even a Belgian team jersey with the seemingly innocuous word love embroidered on the neck was deemed politically controversial by the sport's governing body.

Several teams brought their own political subplots. Leading up to the tournament was Brazil's election season, during which the support of the far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro by Neymar and other top Brazilian players became a flashpoint for the team's politically divided country. When Richarlison, known for his progressive politics, scored the team's crucial goal against Serbia, he also helped many Brazilian soccer fans reconcile their support.

The Iranian team took a stand over the current mass protests in the country by refusing to sing its national anthem before its first game but then, facing political pressure from its government, sang half-heartedly before going on to a last-minute victory over Wales.

Although politics was everywhere in this World Cup, political clarity was not. Was it right to project political responsibility onto players? Did knowledge of the mistreatment and deaths of migrant laborers who had built the World Cup infrastructure mean that we should boycott the tournament? Or did its value as a moment that could bring together and delight fans—notably through the unexpected run of the Moroccan team—somehow counterbalance this exploitation? Would the key immigrant players on European teams propel their nations toward a more open and diverse society, or were their successes just a cynical exploitation of migration patterns that resulted from colonialism?

This has been a tournament of contradictions from the start, placing players and fans in front of a set of mutating moral quandaries. It has been fascinating to watch the multiplicity of responses to these quandaries, the ways that different people and groups have navigated them.

This tournament has also emphasized that virtually nothing can stop the drama from unfolding, nor prevent the world from looking on. In a funny, self-knowing article titled "How I Failed at My Boycott," the French journalist Richard Coudrais effectively captures this realization, outlining his original plan to completely avoid the tournament, the near impossibility of doing so, and how he ultimately gave in just in time to enjoy and celebrate France's victory over England in the streets of Paris.

There is no end to the political and moral debates that soccer produces, but soccer can't resolve any of them. And that may be for the best; the resolutions soccer offers will always be incomplete. There are simply too many interwoven stories produced by a tournament like the World Cup—of players and teams, communities and nations—and countless ways to interpret them.

Ultimately, the political aspects of the World Cup reflect the tournament's knack for staging history-making moments that can immediately be absorbed into broader historical narratives. It is an accelerated, hyperreal version of history itself, of the structures that produce politics and its possibilities. The symbols, stances, and stories mutate before our eyes, meaning many things at once—meaning nothing, and then meaning everything.


Family traditions are what you make them, Christmas means honouring the people dearest to you

It's Christmas Eve. The tree lights are off, pine needles dropping on to presents crammed beneath. Cold air seeps in through the window panes and I pull the duvet up tighter around my ears. As I begin to drift off to sleep, I hear the soft click of the door handle, footsteps padding into the room. I freeze, hold my breath, squeeze my eyes shut. A rustle at the end of the bed and then the footsteps retreat. The next morning, I wake to find a stocking – well, not quite a stocking, it's a pillow case – stuffed with treats. Among the little gifts is a bag of chocolate coins that I tear into, discarding gold and silver foil as I go. This was my first stocking. I was 19 years old.

It was my mother-in-law who thought to creep into the room of a young adult on that first Christmas which I spent with my now husband and his family. Her name is Snezana, which means Snow White in Serbian. Her parents emigrated to the UK before she was born. She was there when my husband and I met at university two decades ago and still tells the story of how she saw a spark between us and was convinced that I would be her son's wife. For her, Christmas represents honouring those you love, and it was important to her to knit me into the tapestry of her family as she sees each new family member as a gift. It is unsurprising, then, that she takes great joy in making this time of year as magical as possible.

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Cash-grab algorithms ARE NOT artificial intelligence!!!

Ive seen a number of posts on here lately about the role of AI without even defining what AI is.

I reject any definition of "artificial intelligence" which is only good at one thing: making money for the people who own the hardware its running on. If your application does not contribute to the homeostasis of the community, your application is not intelligent. If your application is not self-generating, self-evolving, it is not artificial. These are not AI, these are branding and marketing moves to make a product seem cutting edge.

The tasks being performed by these imposters are things which humanity is already capable of doing; art, composition, assembly, ect. By labeling these applications "artificially intelligent" we are intrinsically devaluing our own intelligence by comparing it against these rudimentary applications. For an AI to be truly valuable it must be capable of enabling us to do more than the things we can already do.

For AI to be valuable to the species it must be capable of contributing to the whole species – not just one company or one scene or one niche. That means the entire species must be capable of providing feedback unto the intelligence. Until we achieve this, all these experiments in "AI" do is further delineate subsets of the human population into 'haves' and 'have nots'.

This argument must be made. If we continue to devalue our own intelligence this way by comparing it against these rubes, what will a generalized AI think of us when it finally comes along? If it considers itself heirarchically above these basic programs, and we consider ourselves lesser than some of these programs…

Im not saying these algorithims are bad for us, but to classify them as artificial intelligence is already kneecapping the movement.

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Inequality: What can we do?

Inequality is arguably the biggest problem in the world. Millions and millions of people are (barely) living without access to food, water, and shelter. Meanwhile it seems the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Developing countries struggling with extreme poverty are very vulnerable to climate change, and are the ones facing the consequences first.

Is there any way to solve this? Or is it destined to get infinitely worse to the point of mass starvation? What can we do?

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hope regarding automation

There's a lot of fear surrounding the replacement of humans with machines in the workforce. Many people fear that the middle and lower class with no use to society left will be cut off and starved. My job, itself, is threatened; I work as a cashier and monitor the self checkouts at walmart. but working side-by-side with the machines designed to eliminate the need for some of us has given me a different take than many of the doomers of the world. You see, our current forms of computing -no matter how fast they get- have some big flaws that will ensure that at least SOME people are required and will be required for at least a while, if not forever. Firstly, computers can't be reasoned with to anywhere near the extent people can, and it looks as if it's going to stay that way. If a computer comes to a decision -no matter how accurate that decision may be- you can't explain to it why it's wrong; you simply have to override it's decision. Secondly, there are two main ways we program computers, and will likely continue to: directly writing the code, or machine learning. Directly programming instructions is great when you have predictable inputs you want to create predictable outputs, but the world is a messy place, where the line between true and false can get pretty blurry. That's where machine learning comes in. Machine learning gives computers the ability to make an educated "guess" on these sort of situations. But at the end of the day, it's just that; a guess. It can be wrong. And when it's wrong, you need a PERSON to override it, because people can be reasoned with and adapt to situations on the fly. You can't just use another computer, because it will also run into the same issue. So long as machine learning is inaccurate at all, there's going to be at least one job that requires human intervention. For instance, what about age of sale laws? If a self checkout's machine learning screws up just one, who's at fault? While laws can change, so long as there is any job in which the machine learning cannot be 100 percent effective, you need a person. They will be able to eliminate more and more as they advance, but as it stands businesses won't be 100 percent automated anytime in the near future, even if moore's law holds true. However, our current economic systems were not designed for extremely high levels of unemployment caused by automation. Won't the economy as we know it still collapse? No. You see, labor is expensive. As you need less of it, everything becomes cheaper and businesses can be profitable on less income. That means that new types of businesses become possible, and existing ones can expand. As this process happens, you need more labor to correspond with the larger business, creating more jobs. That would be like the specific walmart I work at needing only 1 cashier, but opening significantly more stores. We may still see a recession, but you aren't going to become the excess blubber of society to be cut off. Also, with producing goods and services becoming cheaper, competition between businesses can drive down prices. Even if people are making less income on average, they can still afford the same things because they cost less money. if you are familiar with supply and demand graphs, this is basically like the "X" of supply and demand simply moving downwards. The quantity of items sold will still say at least the same if not grow, because not only is demand lower, the cost of supplying it is lower too. The only real threat left is if the expansion of business can keep up fast enough. Luckily, improvement of machine learning seems to be a path of diminishing returns, meaning that this will be a slow process that will give society time to adjust.

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Girls' School

There were two Hannahs. There were
eight Amandas. There were three Lindsays,
and each one wanted a nose job.
One got it. One Hannah
ran 12 miles in the morning,
the Los Angeles dust moving under her steps.
The other studied the brains of zebra finches
that were simultaneously held captive
and falling in love. Two rings of purple
culled Lindsay's white face,
and for six months all her expressions
she could not express. The other Lindsay said,
I support it. And the Amandas fanned out
in a silent kaleidoscope
of 16 skeptic eyes. I did not know myself
as I was, when I was alone with them.
Was I ever alone with them,
the scrim of a nude descending
from the adjoining bed. I spoke to them
in the shower, my hand washed their skin—
My hand moved lower, in the mornings.
Red was the color of the beaks
of the finches, of the sky at dawn
when Hannah ran past the brutalist lab
where they were kept.
I can't remember Lindsay's face before the operation,
only what I said about it,
and the way she looked away.
There was a sudden knowledge
that came then. The look
of ambiguity, what we were doing,
our hands silent, shifting, again—
And if I said it would not happen,
it did not matter. It happened,
occurred. Like the sun, or time.
And then it happened again.

Why No Singer Has Replaced Lady Gaga

This is an edition of The Atlantic Daily, a newsletter that guides you through the biggest stories of the day, helps you discover new ideas, and recommends the best in culture. Sign up for it here.

Good morning, and welcome back to The Daily's Sunday culture edition, in which one Atlantic writer reveals what's keeping them entertained.

Today's special guest is Spencer Kornhaber, a staff writer who covers music and pop culture. Spencer traveled this fall to Reykjavík, Iceland, to profile Björk, and he just published his list of the 10 best albums of 2022. He is absorbed in the BeReal fad, loves the acting in The Empire Strikes Back, and says there's no new superstar singer as thrillingly meaningless as Lady Gaga.

But first, here are three Sunday reads from The Atlantic:

Culture Survey: Spencer Kornhaber

What my friends are talking about most right now: A disclosure I will not treat as embarrassing: My friends and I have killed a number of chilly afternoons watching my boyfriend play through God of War Ragnarök. The latest installment of the slashy and stabby video-game series applies an HBO level of sophistication to a fantasy story about destiny, fatherhood, and forgiveness. It has also taught me about delights of Norse mythology, such as Ratatoskr, the sassy squirrel who climbs the tree of life. [Related: Kratos is an inspiration to potential older dads.]

My favorite blockbuster and favorite art movie: Star Wars occupies at least a quarter of my brain at any given time, and my favorite rewatch from that galaxy is the consensus pick: The Empire Strikes Back. On recent viewings, I've been strangely mesmerized by the acting, which is typically the least loved part of any Star Wars film. Without Harrison Ford's burly charisma and Anthony Daniels's comic timing, the set design and twisty plot wouldn't have any … force? Sorry.

As far as art movies go, I've always loved I Heart Huckabees, a surreal 2004 comedy about "existential detectives." It stars—and this whole ensemble really does deserve to be listed—Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Isabelle Huppert, Jason Schwartzman, Jude Law, Mark Wahlberg, and Naomi Watts (plus bit parts for Jean Smart and a teenage Jonah Hill!). Really, the movie's best asset is its sprinting pace: The viewer's brain goes untickled for not one second. [Related: How Disney mismanaged the Star Wars universe]

A song I'll always dance to: This eight-minute, flute-forward remix of Janet Jackson's "Go Deep" has been in rotation since I first heard it at a rooftop party where a smoke machine pumped, with glorious impracticality, into the afternoon breeze. [Related: The nation that Janet Jackson built]

A favorite quiet song: "Tinu Ewe," and the rest of the recent album by the Nigerian singer BOJ, has a kind of rippling smoothness that I can't get enough of.

A favorite angry song: Nine Inch Nails is one of my GOATs, and long ago, I gave myself a nosebleed blasting "Terrible Lie" from the live album And All That Could Have Been.

Online creators that I'm a fan of: Everyone needs to sign up for a class by Marnie T., the unusual wellness instructor who's been elevating consciousnesses all pandemic. The other characters created by comedian Brian Jordan Alvarez are worthy of study too; recently, we met Timothy, a small-town kid whose visit to West Hollywood set him on an exciting new path.

An album that means a lot to me: Annie Lennox, Diva. As a young kid, I pretended to be a legend in my living room to these songs. (Thank the fates for a pre-social-media childhood.) As an adult, I remain enthralled by Lennox's blend of rigid synth pop and sensual gospel.

Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, British actors Anthony Daniels and Peter Mayhew on the set of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
"Star Wars occupies at least a quarter of my brain at any given time." (Lucasfilm / Sunset Boulevard / Corbis / Getty)

A painting that I cherish: The print of Jasper Johns's Map over my couch has provided years' worth of fun: The boundaries within North America reveal new shapes with every glance, thanks to Johns's mingled tributaries of oranges, reds, and blues. Johns's 2021–22 retrospective at the Whitney Museum further deepened my appreciation. This man has painted variants of the same images, in outrageous quantities, over decades. Both apart and together, those works liquefy reality, revealing the harmonies of the universe. Plus, pretty colors!

A favorite story I've read in The Atlantic: Typically, it's the last thing I've read by James Parker, but I'll single out his 2010 Lady Gaga appraisal, which I have spent more than a decade ripping off poorly. He captures the essence of pop ("an ecstatic and superheated Nothing") and of Gaga ("paradoxical elegance"). He also predicts who her replacement will be: "nobody." It's true—early Gaga blew out the circuits of what pop once was. No superstar singer since her has been as thrillingly, commandingly meaningless.

My favorite way of wasting time on my phone: Put me in the camp of people happily absorbed in the BeReal fad. Authenticity is an unattainable ideal even on this supposedly no-bullshit photo app, but I still love the way it encourages the user to take fresh interest in their everyday surroundings.

The last debate I had about culture: Was about whether or not to put Rosalía's Motomami on my list of the year's 10 best albums. I adore her and have played the spit out of "Saoko," but something about the album's sequencing makes it fall into my "impressed but not obsessed" category. So I'm the one critic who left it off. [Related: How flamenco went pop]

The last thing that made me snort with laughter: A good Christian woman and a great interviewer/antagonist of celebrities, the TikTok persona known as Terri Joe puts on livestreams that are kind of like the Colbert Report of our present era of queer panic. I last snorted at the transit of her facial expressions inspired by a Taylor Swift song.

Read past editions of the Culture Survey with Jenisha Watts, David French, Shirley Li, David Sims, Lenika Cruz, Jordan Calhoun, Hannah Giorgis, and Sophie Gilbert.

The Week Ahead
  1. Babylon, Damien Chazelle's period comedy-drama (in theaters Friday)
  2. Weezer's SZNZ: Winter, the fourth and final in a series of seasonal EPs from the band (Wednesday)
  3. Season 3 of Emily in Paris (on Netflix Wednesday)

Steven Spielberg sitting in a darkened theater
(Ryan Pfluger / NYT / Redux)

Steven Spielberg's Movie Magic Has a Dark Side

By David Sims

The final act of Steven Spielberg's semi-autobiographical film, The Fabelmans, revolves around what should feel like a triumph for its teenage protagonist, Sammy. A budding filmmaker in early-1960s California—and an obvious Spielberg analogue—Sammy screens a movie during prom that he shot of his classmates. The project's apparent "hero" is Logan, a Teutonic athlete whom Sammy depicts as a golden god, even though Logan has tormented him all year.

"Why'd you make me look like that?" a distraught and bewildered Logan asks Sammy after the screening. "I've been a total asshole to you. I broke your nose. And then you make me go and look like that! What's wrong with you?" Sammy's reply is simple: "All I did is hold the camera, and it saw what it saw." But it's also a lie masking a far more complex reality, which is why this scene has stuck with me. Sammy's film, and his exchange with Logan, captures a bigger tension that runs through the entire back half of Spielberg's oeuvre—casting a skeptical light on his reputation as a purveyor of pure movie magic.

Read the full article.

More in Culture

Read the latest culture essay by Jordan Calhoun in Humans Being.

Catch Up on The Atlantic

Photo Album
More than 300 skiers and snowboarders dressed as Santa Claus and other holiday characters took part in the Santa Sunday fundraiser event at Sunday River Resort in Newry, Maine, on December 11, 2022.
(Joseph Prezioso / AFP / Getty)

Check out the photos of the week.

Isabel Fattal contributed to this newsletter.

An Unmistakable Stain in America's Most Pristine Rivers

This article was originally published in High Country News.

Dozens of once crystal-clear streams and rivers in Arctic Alaska are now running bright orange and cloudy—and in some cases, they may be becoming more acidic. This otherwise-undeveloped landscape now looks as if an industrial mine has been in operation there for decades, and scientists want to know why.

Roman Dial, a professor of biology and mathematics at Alaska Pacific University, first noticed the starkest water-quality changes while doing field work in the Brooks Range in 2020. He spent a month there with a team of six graduate students, and they could not find adequate drinking water. "There's so many streams that are not just stained; they're so acidic that they curdle your powdered milk," he says. In other streams, the water was clear, "but you couldn't drink it [because] it had a really weird mineral taste and tang."

Dial, who has spent the past 40 years exploring the Arctic, was gathering data on climate-change-driven changes in Alaska's tree line for a project that also includes work from the ecologists Patrick Sullivan—the director of the Environment and Natural Resources Institute at the University of Alaska Anchorage—and Becky Hewitt, an environmental-studies professor at Amherst College. Now the team is digging into the water-quality mystery. "I feel like I'm a grad student all over again in a lab that I don't know anything about, and I'm fascinated by it," Dial says.

Read: [America's rivers are getting saltier]

Many of the rusting waterways are located within some of Alaska's most remote protected lands: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, the Kobuk Valley National Park, and the Selawik Wildlife Refuge.

The phenomenon is visually striking. "It seems like something's been broken open or something's been exposed in a way that has never been exposed before," Dial says. "All the hard-rock geologists who look at these pictures, they're like, 'Oh, that looks like acid mine waste.'" But it's not mine waste. According to the researchers, the rusty coating on rocks and stream banks is coming from the land itself.

The prevailing hypothesis is that climate warming is causing underlying permafrost to degrade. This releases sediments rich in iron, and when those sediments hit running water and open air, they oxidize and turn a deep rusty-orange color. The oxidation of minerals in the soil may also be making the water more acidic. The research team is still early in the process of identifying the cause in order to better explain the consequences. "I think the pH issue"—the acidity of the water — "is truly alarming," Hewitt says. Although pH regulates many biotic and chemical processes in streams and rivers, the exact effects on the intricate food webs that exist in these waterways are unknown. The research team is unsure what changes may result for fish, streambed bugs, plant communities, and more.

The rusting of Alaska's rivers will also likely have an impact on human communities. Rivers such as the Kobuk and the Wulik, where rusting has been observed, also serve as drinking-water sources for many predominantly Alaska Native communities in Northwest Alaska. One major concern, Sullivan says, is how the water quality, if it continues to deteriorate, may affect the species that serve as a main source of food for Alaska Native residents who live a subsistence lifestyle.

Read: [This tiny fish can withstand almost anything]

The Wulik River terminates at the village of Kivalina, a community of slightly more than 400 people, 80 miles north of the Arctic Circle, that relies on the river. "We are always worried about drinking water," the tribal administrator Millie Hawley says, adding in a written message that her friends and neighbors fish for trout in the river year-round. The community has seen the river become more and more turbid in recent years, she says, and some people blame the nearby Red Dog Mine. But Hawley says everyone is aware that the permafrost around them is melting, and that increased erosion is causing the level of dissolved minerals and salts in the Wulik to rise.

In addition to present-day impacts, the researchers are also considering the historical record. "I'm sure it has happened [previously]," Dial says, "because, in some sense, this is a natural phenomenon." But Dial and Sullivan note that the rate of climate warming is greater than anything recorded in the past. "So it's very possible that something like this has happened before, but it happened really slowly. And maybe there wasn't just this massive pulse of orange that wound up in these streams," Sullivan says.

The team believes there could be more than one climate-change-related factor at play. Two of the warmest summers on record, 2019 and 2020, were both followed by winters with unusually high snowpacks. "Snow is a great insulator of soils, and it can be a potentially potent driver of permafrost thaw," Sullivan says. He likens it to adding an extra blanket to the ground before it freezes. For now, none of the researchers know for sure whether the orange streams and rivers are an anomalous occurrence coinciding with a handful of unseasonably warm seasons followed by high snowpack. And only time will tell how long it might continue.

Six Classic Books That Live Up to Their Reputation
Is this article about Lifestyle?

When I was in college, I made the mistake of telling a teacher that I was never going to read James Joyce's Ulysses. My teacher promptly assigned it as my required reading for the term. Stubborn as I can be about such things—on the other end of the cultural spectrum, I refuse, to this day, to watch Titanic—I've always been an obsessively good student, so I caved immediately. It took me about nine months to get through it, and I finished, entirely by coincidence, on "Bloomsday"—June 16, the date the book takes place.

I discovered, one difficult page at a time, that Joyce's novel isn't merely important, but also funny, raunchy, and delightfully weird. A decade later, I still remember the keen pleasure of burrowing into a story that requires that kind of close attention; it feels like intimacy.

Literature should not be something we approach out of a sense of duty. But many lengthy, complex, and well-known books really are that good. Like taking a long hike or following a tricky recipe, engaging with writing that challenges you can be deeply satisfying. Each of the books below is demanding in its own way, and reading or rereading them can be a fascinating, beautiful, and rewarding experience.

The Tale of Genji
W. W. Norton & Company

The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu (translated by Dennis Washburn)

Written by a noblewoman known only as Murasaki Shikibu, this 11th-century work of Japanese fiction predates the very term novel. But contemporary readers will feel at ease with The Tale of Genji, especially in Washburn's highly accessible translation. The tale opens with imperial drama: The emperor's favorite concubine gives birth to a son, and to appease his higher-ranking wives, he removes the infant Genji from the line of succession. Genji is raised as a commoner, but it's no secret that he's the emperor's child, and he's beloved for his looks, intellect, and talents. But the "radiant prince," as he's called, is far from perfect: "In fact," the sly narrator tells us, "his failings were so numerous that such a lofty sobriquet was perhaps misleading." Genji is an unrepentant womanizer who's also remarkably sincere; his life revolves around climbing the court's political ladder and making waves at its ceremonial events. As he continues into middle age and beyond, he grows more contemplative, meditating often on how fleeting life is. Full of intrigue, foibles, pranks, and secret affairs, The Tale of Genji is both lusher and more clever than any HBO show.

Penguin Classics

Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville

Like many young adults, Ishmael, the narrator of Melville's grand adventure of the body and mind, is feeling restless and has little money in his purse. The only solution, as far as he's concerned, is to go to sea and experience a life away from shore. The ship he chooses sets sail on Christmas, but he's eager: "Spite of this frigid winter night in the boisterous Atlantic, spite of my wet feet and wetter jacket, there was yet, it then seemed to me, many a pleasant haven in store." Although Moby-Dick is eventful (seafaring is no picnic), it's also an exploration of the mind of one man as he throws himself into the unknown. Ishmael's captain, Ahab, is driven by a single desire: catching the whale that bit off part of his leg. Ishmael, in contrast, is curious and open-minded, eager to learn and experience all that he can. In recent years, Moby-Dick's fandom has expanded, perhaps because the book provides both an escape from the world and a deep immersion in it, whales and all.

[Read: The endless depths of ]Moby-Dick symbolism

Vanity Fair
Penguin Classics

Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray

Becky Sharp has the misfortune of being born to a poor art teacher and an opera artist, and Vanity Fair follows her young adulthood as she and her peers begin the work of becoming proper 19th-century Englishwomen. Some try to be good, but Becky longs to be in charge: She learns that in order to gain money and status, she must be "agreeable to her benefactors, and … gain their confidence to the utmost of her power." Witty, charming, and a fantastic mimic, Becky makes herself extremely agreeable—especially to men, who keep falling in love with her—and worms her way into wealthier and more influential circles. Her need for financial stability is entirely understandable, and although her methods for getting it are questionable, it's hard not to root for her. Becky's lies eventually stack up, and her dramatic rise to prominence is equaled only by her fall from grace. Funny and biting, Vanity Fair is social critique at its best.

The cover of Middlemarch
Penguin Classics

Middlemarch, by George Eliot

In 1871, when Eliot was writing Middlemarch, Britain had recently undergone some 40 years of social upheaval. The First and Second Reform Acts enfranchised men of lower means and pedigree, broadening the voting public to include more than just the wealthy and noble few. But her mammoth novel takes place in the lead-up to that change, and it explores the tensions between rich and poor, rural and urban, old and new. The story follows Dorothea Brooke, a wealthy and pious 19-year-old orphan living with her sister and her uncle, and Tertius Lydgate, a sweetly naive and eager doctor, as each falls in love, marries, and discovers that a lot follows the expected happily-ever-after. Subplots abound, of course, as this is a lengthy and intricate "Study of Provincial Life" (the novel's subtitle), but the love triangles, political maneuvering, and intricate gossip in the titular English town make for a thrilling read. This is a book about wonderfully and frustratingly messy people.

[Read: Rediscovering ]Middlemarch in middle age

Almanac of the Dead
Penguin Books

Almanac of the Dead, by Leslie Marmon Silko

Some readers might be more familiar with Silko's beautiful Ceremony, which follows a Pueblo World War II veteran after his return to the reservation he grew up on. Her later book Almanac of the Dead is a whole other (and much larger) beast—although it is equally, and perhaps more, brilliant. It starts in Arizona, where a white woman named Seese begins working for Lecha, a psychic. Lecha and her twin sister, Zeta, each have a unique gift: Lecha can find the dead, and Zeta can communicate with snakes. Lecha is also tasked by her grandmother to complete and preserve the Almanac of the Dead: ancient documents—complete with additions, re-creations, and notes made over the years—that recount history and predict the future. Her quest, however, is just one thread in Silko's epic, and the author virtuosically spreads the action across continents and years without losing sight of details. Eventually, and impressively, the stories of the novel's sprawling cast flow into one another, plot spilling into an ocean of beauty and menace. The brutality of colonialism and capitalism are laid bare, tempered only by the belief in a better world to come.

Infinite Jest
Little, Brown

Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace

Wallace's fans may have a reputation for being insufferable, but Infinite Jest itself, although no easy read, is a ridiculous and satisfying journey. Exploring addiction, masculinity, zealotry, and the absurdity of war, the novel is strewn with bread crumbs, many of which are in the prodigious endnotes. It can be a pain to keep flipping between the main text and the back, but some of the most uproarious moments take place in the small font. The setting is superbly bizarre: a version of our world where Canada, the U.S., and Mexico have become one supernation; years are no longer known by numbers but are instead sponsored by corporations ("Year of the Whopper"); and a cultish Quebecois terror cell seeks a copy of a movie that makes every person who watches it want to do nothing but keep watching it, over and over, until they die. Against this backdrop, Hal Incandenza, a tennis prodigy and teenage genius, attends the athletic academy run by his family, spends time with his variously strange friends, and tries to sort through his many issues. Some associate Wallace's work with a kind of unchecked toxic masculinity, but Infinite Jest evokes it deliberately: Its pathetic and pompous men function as a searing critique of the very cultural messages handed down to them.

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Like Uber, but for Militias

One problem with defining extremism in America today is how many people think the U.S. government is what's extreme. In his 1995 essay "The Militia in Me," Denis Johnson describes meeting two men campaigning for the 1992 presidential candidate Bo Gritz, a far-right former Special Forces officer. "Both men believed that somebody had shanghaied the United States, that pirates had seized the helm of the ship of state and now steered it toward some completely foreign berth where it could be plundered at leisure."

This fall, I set out to meet today's version of such alienated activists, who were looking for solace in a civilian defense group. On a street corner in West Covina, just outside Los Angeles, one of them, Vincent Tsai, told me: "We need to be armed and ready. We need to be our own self-defense." After being suspended from the L.A. County Sheriff's Department for refusing to comply with mask and vaccine mandates, he was running for State Senate in November's elections. (He didn't win.)

In Friday-afternoon traffic, wearing yellow shorts, he stood with his 7-year-old son at the intersection of two congested thoroughfares, handing out fliers. His wife, Gigi, who teaches a free weekly exercise class called Patriot Pilates, was with him, collecting signatures on a clipboard for his campaign.

Tsai told me that the globalists and the Chinese Communist Party were taking over the U.S., and he lamented the erosion of American masculinity and fighting spirit. "If our Founding Fathers were like these soy boys nowadays, we wouldn't have America," he said. Tsai, suspicious of the government yet hopeful it could be reformed, offered to protect me if that ever became necessary. In the meantime, he suggested that I train in jiu-jitsu and learn to grow my own food.

Tsai is one of nearly a thousand California members of People's Rights, a civilian defense group established by the anti-government activist Ammon Bundy in rural Idaho. Known for his involvement in armed standoffs with federal officers at his father's Nevada ranch in 2014 and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016, Bundy created People's Rights in early 2020. He called it neighborhood watch on steroids—a group that will mobilize to respond to a range of threats, "from your business being looted downtown to [Child Protective Services] trying to take your child." The arrival of the pandemic was a catalyst for the growth of People's Rights, which found a large, receptive constituency in those who saw their liberty threatened by public-health mandates they deemed unconstitutional.

[Read: Modern America's most successful secessionist movement]

At its first meeting, in a warehouse in the town of Emmett, Idaho, some 60 people gathered to plan an Easter service in defiance of the local government's COVID-19 restrictions. During the coronavirus pandemic, Bundy was arrested for trespassing when he and several followers protested inside a hospital in Idaho. In Montana, a member offered a $100 bounty for the address of Kalispell's mayor, so he could make a citizen's arrest on grounds that the municipality's shelter-in-place order was unconstitutional. These confrontations were not violent per se; the hostility was more on an emotional and performative plane—as when an anti-government activist stood outside a health commissioner's house for several days with a turkey on a leash, filming the official as he came and went. In the Klamath Basin, in southern Oregon, a People's Rights branch gathered to support some farmers who planned to break into federal property to release water for their ranches and farms.

Several members active in the group, however, have instigated violence. Sean Anderson, an area assistant for People's Rights in Idaho who was one of the last holdouts at the Malheur occupation, exchanged fire with police officers after a pursuit for a traffic violation. When Anderson, who is also a member of the Three Percenters anti-government militia, was convicted of felony aggravated assault, People's Rights held a rally in support of him. But the purposely decentralized nature of People's Rights enables Bundy and the group to avoid being held responsible for this type of action.

"The pandemic was a wonderful time for extreme patriot groups, and People's Rights fit very easily into that patriot militia setting," Travis McAdam, an official of the Montana Human Rights Network, told me. "You have people who were scared, looking for answers, angry at the government, and people like Ammon look around and see a target-rich environment to co-opt and direct that anger in the ways they want to."

I'd wanted to meet Tsai because I'd heard People's Rights described as "the Uber of militias"—summon them via app if you feel that your rights are under attack—and I wondered how this plays out in Southern California, a part of the country one might not immediately associate with anti-government militias. "You get a text on the Bat Phone, and they'll come to your defense," Tsai told me. The local chapter meeting of People's Rights was 10 minutes from my apartment on the east side of Los Angeles; it was led by a Hollywood voice-over actor and a crane operator from a beachside town. By this fall, the group had a presence in every state, and claimed to have a national membership of more than 50,000.

[David French: There is no MAGA movement without threats and violence]

When I went to a series of weekly People's Rights meetings, I was struck by the dissonance of how innocuous an organization labeled as an extremist group can appear. It was mired in the same sort of procedural tedium that accompanies any meeting of political activists. At my first meeting, a petition to recall a judge was going around; a man who signed it told me he worked for the city's Department of Water and Power.

In particular, it was difficult to square a measured and sober-seeming activist and candidate for office like Tsai with a human-rights group's report on People's Rights that described it as "a dangerous new network of militia members, anti-maskers, conspiracists, preppers, and anti-vaxxers." Tsai hosted firearm trainings for members of the group so that they could learn self-defense. "Forming a militia, like a nationwide militia, and then taking over by force, sounds great on paper," he told me. "But most people don't understand the reality of war … Bloodshed should always be the last resort."

So how to make sense of this Venn diagram of political activism with its apparently overlapping circles of people who simply want to participate in civic life at a grassroots level and those willing to take up arms against government tyranny?

At People's Rights meetings, I met members who passed out pocket Constitutions and studies about the dangers of the Pfizer vaccine, and advised me to start learning how to use ham radio. A man in a fedora gave me a leaflet on propaganda and asked me if I'd read Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent. Another man, wearing a People's Convoy hat, showed me photos of a send-off gathering he'd attended for Californians heading to the Canadian truckers protest earlier this year. Later, he texted me a link to an infrared-light device that he said healed his knee injury. We met for coffee one afternoon near where we both live, and he told me that the fancy new housing developments going up around L.A. will be used for a forced relocation of rural people into cities so the powers that be can have their land.

"We need strong people willing to lose their lives—like our Founding Fathers," a woman in a red tank top told the assembly of about 20 people in a public park just outside Los Angeles, on a Sunday afternoon. "Republicans are weak," she went on. "We need to start our own, parallel society." People mingled around a potluck of brownies and tacos; in the foreground, kids played pickup soccer and badminton, and a woman lay in the grass with her corgi. Attached to a tree was a banner for the group, featuring a stock photo of a blond family: Uniting Neighbors to Defend Their Families, Faith, Freedom, and Future. "We have to have our own police force, so to speak," the meeting leader said. "People have to defend themselves these days." A man wearing an ALEX JONES WAS RIGHT T-shirt applauded from his lawn chair.

[Kathleen Belew: White power, white violence]

I got the impression that some members came to meetings just looking for people to talk with—the camaraderie of the group seemed for some their last, flimsy connection to society. "If it weren't for my strong Slavic roots, I'd be dead by now," said one attendee, describing his depression to anyone who'd chat with him, and who each week handed out leaflets about all the people who wanted to ruin his life. What united People's Rights activists was a sense that society had lost its bearings: Traditional policing was no longer reliable for maintaining freedom, and a continuum of government overreach now threatened them—they believed that what had started with mask mandates would end in concentration camps. Because of this, they reasoned, an armed standoff between citizens and anyone denying their liberty might be necessary.

"COVID created an environment that Ammon took advantage of. The militia idea became appealing to people because it gave them a step to take. A lot of these people just felt desperate and anxious and wanted to feel like they had a mission," Betsy Gaines Quammen, a historian and the author of American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God, and Public Lands in the West, told me. "It was a group of people who wanted to feel empowered," she said. "And then there are people in the movement that see engaging in an act of violence as a way of participating—it's the idea that lawlessness is justified because there's been an infringement on their rights."

At one Sunday meeting in the park, a semicircle of firefighters in turnout gear were standing near the picnic tables when I arrived, and I thought, at first, that there must have been a medical call or some other minor emergency—but I found out that People's Rights had invited the Pasadena Fire Department to give a presentation on disaster preparation. "How could a group like ours help you?" one of the leaders asked the firefighters. "How do we contact you guys if the communication systems go down?" A family sitting on a picnic blanket listened in.

I called Tasha Adams, the estranged ex-wife of the Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, to ask about the interplay between these regular members and the group's more extreme fringe. (Rhodes has recently been convicted of seditious-conspiracy charges relating to his part in fomenting the January 6 Capitol riot.) She told me how the Oath Keepers, whose membership includes many veterans and former law-enforcement officers, had attracted a lot of new, less militant members after all the publicity of the Bundy family's armed standoffs with the FBI.

[David A. Graham: It was sedition]

"Stewart started purchasing billboards in the D.C. metro and sponsoring NASCAR—totally harmless," Adams said. "That was the level of membership most people wanted; you know, regular NRA people who want that level of involvement because they feel lost or whatever. People wanted to feel like they belonged to something, had an avenue to use some of the skills that are useless after you get back from the war—you know, get the chainsaw out and cut down trees that are falling down, suddenly people are thanking them for their service again, and they feel good."

As we talked, I thought of Tsai, whom I'd seen speaking to the group in the park, dressed in his sheriff's uniform. His speech and his firearms trainings bolstered the group's morale, but Adams's analysis was darker. "All the while, these members are just fueling and giving cover to someone like Stewart, who literally is just waiting for that opportunity to become a dictator." She went on to share her view that "it seems for sure like a pattern where Ammon is doing the same thing." I reached out to both Bundy and Rhodes, through his lawyer, for comment on Adams's remarks; neither responded.

Tsai's campaign was one of many by People's Rights activists this fall, as the group's focus turned to electoral politics. Anti-government figures running for office might seem counterintuitive, but it's not a new phenomenon—the Militia of Montana, a paramilitary group active in the 1990s, said it would fight first at the ballot box, then with the cartridge box. In the November midterms, Bundy came in third in Idaho's gubernatorial race, winning 100,000 votes—17 percent of Idaho's voters—with QAnon-esque campaign ads and a far-right agenda that included paying liberals to move to California.

I asked McAdam, of the Montana Human Rights Network, about this seeming contradiction. "They're saying, 'It's not that we hate government—it's that we hate illegitimate governments that are trying to take things away from us,'" he told me. "It's not as sexy as an armed standoff, but inspiring people to run for office is an important part of the militia movement: It became a natural progression to say, 'What we need is to have our people take over all these institutions.'"

Across Southern California, People's Rights members were promoting candidates like Tsai. At a campaign event Tsai convened in Pomona, Daniel Bocic Martinez, a Republican candidate for U.S. Congress, told the group about how the pandemic was part of a larger conspiracy "organized by a small group of elites who want as many dead bodies as possible." Other candidates, such as Ryan Maye, a full-time plumber running for state assembly, mingled with a small crowd. Martinez explained how encouraging people to get electric vehicles was a deadly ruse, so that "they" could control people by switching off the grid. "It's a war against us," he said. (Martinez lost to his Democratic opponent in November.)

"My influence only goes so far: I can ensure the peace, I can protect people, but I can't stop the people that are behind this," Tsai said. "To do that, I need to be part of that system. I need to be in office."

[David Frum: Only the GOP celebrates political violence]

In the 1970s, Reverend William Potter Gale created the Posse Comitatus paramilitary group, named after a Latin phrase that means "power of the county," referring to a sheriff's supreme authority to impose law and order. "While the historic role of a posse comitatus had been to aid civil authorities in suppressing violence and vigilantism, Bill Gale's revision stood this ancient practice on its head—his posse was devoted to promoting armed insurrection," Daniel Levitas writes in The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right. After two lethal standoffs in 1992—at Ruby Ridge, in Idaho, and Waco, in Texas—followed by the passage of federal gun legislation in 1993 and 1994, many right-wing citizens' militias were formed under the auspices of patriotic constitutional vigilantism.

In People's Rights, lawlessness in response to mandates was justified through the idea of the posse comitatus. Many in the group told me that L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva—who has since lost a bid for reelection—should have declared himself a constitutional sheriff in order to lock up the board of supervisors. Several People's Rights members wore T-shirts bearing the name of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officer Association—a group that believes sheriffs should assume supreme authority whenever liberty is being threatened. Former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack, who has been tied to extremists and militias for decades, now leads the association, which promotes resisting state and federal authority on guns, mandates, and election results.

Tsai was undeterred by his lack of success with voters. "We can never comply our way out of tyranny. It's always been a small group of warriors that risked everything—their families, their lives, their property—and fought back against tyranny to create a better country, a new world for people to live in," he told me.

Failure at the ballot box didn't bring him to the cartridge box. He planned to keep going to board-of-supervisors meetings—even though, he told me, most of the patriots he knows don't show up. He felt let down by their apathy. "I'm still canvassing door to door and teaching people skills," he said. "People should journal and spend time in nature. Modern society is too weak for an actual insurrection. People are fat, lazy, untrained, and unmotivated." He invited me to come shooting with him in the desert the next weekend. "The globalist plan is accelerating," he said. "Things are going to be chaos by next year."

The paranoid certainty of chaos-to-come is retread so frequently in American life that it's practically one of the country's myths. In the face of powerlessness, this seemed to offer People's Rights members the reassurance of being the few prepared to understand and defend against what's next—wishful thinking that gave them a sense of purpose to anticipate the future.

I Went to Taiwan to Say Goodbye
Leo has found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • The Nationalists swiftly enacted a no-contact policy with China that would last for decades, its bans on travel and mail communication cleaving families in two.

It wasn't a great time to visit Taiwan. Nancy Pelosi's layover in Taipei in early August had heightened tensions with China, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine had people asking whether Taiwan faced a similar threat.

My father and I scrolled through news—of aggressive Chinese military drills and endless U.S. delegations—and debated whether it was safe to go. But when weighed against a hypothetical, the reality of my grandmother's cancer won out. She was refusing chemotherapy. We left in September; better to be early than late.

Upon landing, I found the Taiwan of my childhood summers largely unchanged. I felt silly for expecting otherwise. Almost everything was as I remembered—my grandmother's 13th-floor apartment near Taipei's bustling Shilin Night Market; the department store where my father's family had run a small leather-goods shop; that one stall with gua bao, fluffy white buns stuffed with tender pork belly, and the owner who gets bossier each time I see her. The only hint of tumult was a copy of the Taipei Times in the snack aisle of a convenience store with the headline "China Unlikely to Invade Taiwan Soon."

The media had described the atmosphere as "defiant" but, to me, it just felt normal. At More Fine, an optical shop in the central district of Gongguan where my parents and I always get our glasses, my father asked the owner why everyone seemed so calm. "It's numbness," he called from the back of the shop. "What else is there to do?"

[From the December 2022 issue: Taiwan prepares to be invaded]

As I headed over to my grandmother's apartment, I mulled over the shop owner's words. I felt similarly numb, frustrated by all the unfeeling analysis of the country where my extended family lives, where my parents grew up—and where my grandmother is dying of cancer. Pundits picked over Taiwan's history and prospects, often with no personal stake in the matter. To watch a place so familiar to me be reduced to foreign-affairs talking points was disorienting: "the most dangerous place on Earth"; "a progressive, thriving democracy"; "safe until at least 2027." I was angry that we had to think about this at all, that the burdens of living and dying were not enough.

With my grandmother, though, the present was all that mattered. I sat by her side, rubbing her back as I listened to her life story, which I was determined to record before I left. I placed my phone on my knee as I yelled questions into her ear. Her hearing is poor, but her memory is surprisingly clear.

She remembers, for instance, the two other Taiwanese women who were in love with my grandfather. They had all worked in the homes of U.S. soldiers based in Tianmu during the 1950s. The prettiest of her competitors, she told me, had rosy skin and brilliant dancing skills.

But my grandfather, a cook, pursued my grandmother, a shy housekeeper. "I was the most pitiful, but I was diligent and good," she said. She noted his neatly made bed and the books on his desk; he was a man who wanted to rebuild, who was hardworking and well mannered. He began sending her braised pigs' feet from a local stall, later bringing her scallops and other delicacies that she had never tried before. "They were delicious!" she said with a mischievous chuckle.

But she had also read the loneliness in his shoulders. Before they married, he told her about his wife and two young children lost to him on the mainland. They were one of many families separated in the chaos of the Communist takeover in 1949, when he became stranded in Taiwan. The Nationalists swiftly enacted a no-contact policy with China that would last for decades, its bans on travel and mail communication cleaving families in two. My grandmother—a benshengren born in Taiwan marrying a waishengren from China—accepted it all, including the photo of his other family that he kept in his wallet. "When I was little and I didn't understand," my mother once told me, "I'd sneak my photo into his wallet too."

He proved a dedicated husband and father to their five children. As soon as he finished work, he headed back to their small apartment, which she scrubbed clean and decorated with flowers. "Our home was the prettiest, the cleanest," she boasted. "While the kids did their homework, he would sit with them, sharpening their pencils by hand." They rarely fought. She credits him with giving her a happy life—one that she, as an adopted child treated poorly by her family, could not have imagined for herself. "I was the most blessed," she kept repeating to me. "Life with your grandfather was blessed."

One thing that my grandmother didn't bring up—but that my mother had told me about years earlier—was the trip my grandfather made to see his first wife and daughter in 1985. (His son had died by then.) The women had traveled from northeastern China to Hong Kong, where my grandfather's brother lived; my grandfather met them there.

My grandmother packed sweaters and mangoes and money that they couldn't spare into my grandfather's suitcase for his week-long trip. He'd had a stroke, and was unable to walk without a cane. "It was an impossible trip," my mother said. "But he made it happen."

A week after returning to Taiwan, my grandfather died. When I asked my grandmother how his visit to Hong Kong had made her feel, she told me that he had gone to see his brother. When I asked again, she changed the subject.

I flew home on my grandmother's 87th birthday. Before I left, she patted me on the arm and told me not to worry. "Your uncle and aunts will take care of me, as will all of your cousins," she said. I thanked her, and told her to bao zhong, take care.

[Anne Applebaum: China's war against Taiwan has already started]

But I do worry—about how the cancer will bloom, about whether normal life in Taiwan will continue. I think of how my grandmother has to rock her weight between the dining chairs to reach the kitchen, how she wouldn't be able to escape if war broke out. And I wish, perhaps uselessly, for a world that would care about Taiwan even if it weren't a beacon of democracy in Asia or an essential producer of semiconductors or a pawn in a great-power play. A world that could peer into the warm glow of my grandmother's apartment—my aunts laughing as my nephews scramble over the couches and pull funny faces, all of us finally together. I wish that could be enough.

This article appears in the January/February 2023 print edition with the headline "I Went to Taiwan to Say Goodbye."

Is this article about ESG?

From moon missions to fast-charging batteries and AI-sourced antibiotics, in no particular order, the year's significant scientific developments

The year opened with a bang. Or rather, it didn't. The successful film Don't Look Up, in which a comet is found to be on a collision course with Earth, had been released just before Christmas 2021. In the bleak days of post-festive gloom, the news media were on an adrenaline high, chasing any and every story about potential asteroid collisions to cheer us all up. Five asteroids were to pass close to the Earth in January alone! Happily for the health and wellbeing of humanity, none was predicted to come within a whisker of hitting the planet. Nonetheless, the possibility of an asteroid colliding with Earth is a reality – the globe is covered in craters from previous impacts, and it is well known that 65m years ago, dinosaurs became extinct following the impact of an asteroid about 10km across. Can anything be done about saving us from this existential extraterrestrial threat? Fortunately, the international space community has taken the first steps towards reducing the risk of an asteroid catching us unawares. The joint Nasa- Esa mission Dart (Double Asteroid Re-Direction Test) was an ambitious attempt to alter the trajectory of a small asteroid (Dimorphos) as it orbited a slightly larger asteroid (Didymos), by sending a spacecraft to crash into it. In October, we learned that the mission had been even more successful than anticipated, and that the orbit of Dimorphos had changed – showing that we could, if given sufficient time, alter the path of an asteroid if it were on a collision course with Earth.

Continue reading…

How to Use Google Health Connect
Leo has found 1 Mergers and Acquisitions mention in this article
  • Google is working in partnership with Samsung on the new platform, and combined with Google's 2019 acquisition of Fitbit, Health Connect is going to support interoperability between the Google Fit, Samsung Health, and Fitbit apps right out of the gate.
Spend less time jumping between fitness and well-being apps, and organize your health data in one place.

Leo has found 1 Funding Events mention in this article
  • Many experts believe it is impossible, but that did not stop a biotech company, Colossal, founded last year, from raising $15m in private funding for a mind-boggling venture to create a woolly mammoth and elephant hybrid.
An enthralling project to save the northern white rhino is raising challenging questions as scientists debate the ethics of de-extinction

When Dr Natalie Cooper, a scientist at the Natural History Museum, met Sudan, the last surviving northern white male rhino, in Kenya before he died aged 45, she understandably feared the subspecies' extinction was certain – mostly due to poaching fuelled by human greed for the prized horn. "The sense of enormity when staring extinction right in the eye is difficult to comprehend," she reflects on that 2013 encounter. "It was fairly obvious by that point that the breeding programme wasn't going to work – the subspecies seemed doomed, it was just a matter of time."

But almost a decade later, the world's rarest large mammal could be on the brink of an astonishing return from functional extinction. The growing efforts to save extant, but seriously threatened, species come alongside a controversial wider de-extinction movement that seeks to bring versions of lost animal breeds, such as woolly mammoths, back to life.

Continue reading…


My parents weren't rich but they always made me feel I could have exactly what I dreamed of

I was three and Christmas 1969 was approaching. Neil Armstrong walked on the moon that summer and I wanted what millions of kids must have wanted for Christmas: the Apollo 11 rocket. I announced this and went off to listen yet again to my favourite record: Puff, the Magic Dragon.

Our house on a nice new estate in Wrexham was full of craft furniture. My dad, who taught woodwork at the town's grammar school, made our tables and chairs and the abstract copper-wire artworks on the walls. The space age was happening on television but our Wales was still in the days of oak.

Continue reading…

Why is Hanukkah 8 days?
Is Hanukkah eight days because of an ancient miracle that oil burned for that long? It turns out there's more to the story.


Scientific Reports, Published online: 18 December 2022; doi:10.1038/s41598-022-26052-x

Metastable CrMnNi steels processed by laser powder bed fusion: experimental assessment of elementary mechanisms contributing to microstructure, properties and residual stress

Humanity IS NOT Doomed

I'm really sick and tired of people being doomers.

The reason that we all think the planet is doomed is because we all think the planet is doomed. Fear is extremely powerful when used on the internet. And that's all that's being fed to people. Stop being chronically online and get over the fact that the headlines that rouse the most emotion are the ones that are pumped into our brains 24/7.

Go vote, go get some exercise, eat healthy, do your best.

We've gotten out of worse before.

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Will racism ever go away?

When I was a kid I remember learning about the Civil Rights Movement. At the time I thought racism and racist thought would die off with the older generation.

Play 5 minutes of Call of Duty with the game or proximity chat on however… And it's clear ignorance and racism are going absolutely nowhere anytime soon.

Do you think it will ever go away or is it just part of the human condition?

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Is this article about Deep Learning?


It is difficult to predict exactly which jobs will be the last to be replaced by AI, as it depends on the rate of technological progress and the adoption of AI in various industries. However, there are some jobs that may be less likely to be automated in the near term due to their creative, social, or technical nature.

Some examples of jobs that may be less susceptible to automation include:

Creative jobs that require original thought and artistic expression, such as writers, artists, and musicians.

Jobs that involve social interaction and the ability to understand and respond to emotions, such as therapists, teachers, and social workers.

Jobs that require a high level of technical expertise or specialized knowledge, such as scientists, engineers, and doctors.

Jobs that involve decision-making and judgment, particularly in complex or rapidly changing environments, such as executives and managers.

It is important to note that even in jobs that are less likely to be automated, AI may still play a supporting role and augment the work of humans.

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Is this article about Deep Learning?
New research uses machine learning models to better understand water's phase changes, opening more avenues for a better theoretical understanding of various substances. With this technique, the researchers found strong computational evidence in support of water's liquid-liquid transition that can be applied to real-world systems that use water to operate.

Is this article about Deep Learning?
New research uses machine learning models to better understand water's phase changes, opening more avenues for a better theoretical understanding of various substances. With this technique, the researchers found strong computational evidence in support of water's liquid-liquid transition that can be applied to real-world systems that use water to operate.

Lipstick can be a confidence booster, enhance a costume and keep lips from chapping. But sharing a tube with a friend or family member can also spread infections. To develop a version with antimicrobial properties, researchers have added cranberry extract to the formulation. Their deep red cream quickly inactivates disease-causing viruses, bacteria and a fungus that come in contact with it.

A new study examined the combination of the common immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab (Keytruda) with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), a chemotherapy drug that targets myeloid-derived suppressor cells. Researchers found that the drug combination is effective, with an overall response rate of 71%. Fifty percent of patients experienced a complete response, and the one-year overall survival rate was 80%.



INCIDER fluorescent sensors visualize sticky situations
Is this article about Electronics?
Researchers led by Osaka University report the development of INCIDER, a fluorescent sensor system that enables high-contrast microscopic imaging of temporal changes in cellular interactions mediated by the N-cadherin molecule. This sensor system, which emits much brighter fluorescence than the currently used system while detecting these interactions, is expected to have a wide range of applications in developmental biology, neuroscience, and other fields.

Is this article about Sleep?
is a growing global public health concern currently affecting 50 million people and is expected to rise dramatically to more than 150 million cases worldwide by 2050. Obesity, commonly measured by body mass index (BMI), continues to be a global epidemic and earlier studies suggested that obesity at midlife may lead to increased risk for dementia. But the association between BMI and the risk of dementia remains unclear. Now, researchers have found that different patterns of BMI changes over one's life course may be an indicator of a person's risk for dementia.

New study examines the flow of ecological energy across old-growth forests, logged forests and oil palm. The study surveys mammal and bird species across these landscapes to calculate food energetic pathways: how photosynthetic energy cascades from sunlight to be distributed among organisms. Relative to energy flow in old-growth forests, study finds 2.5 times more total energy flows in logged forests. The study findings question the use of the word 'degraded' to describe logged tropical forests.


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