Friday digest (3.26.2021)

open to see handstand rabbit

Hello and a happy last Friday of March! I should probably share the news that it’s looking likely that I will not be moving to Germany this fall and that I’ll take another year in Pittsburgh to get my ducks into rows. If I were a gambler I’d put $20 on me staying, but not a lot more than that (things change fast around here). Fortunately, I’m relieved to not have to move continents during a pandemic. Unfortunately, this does mean that I get to continue to indulge in buying lots of books (that I may or may not read) for another year which will make moving out of a third-floor apartment even worse than it already is.

Here are this week’s goods:

1. Two tweet combo

It counts as one because they’re both about the Suez Crisis of 2021

2. Been listening to the essential mix

Essential Mix 1415 (2021) by Oneohtrix Point Never

For BBC Radio 1. Presented without comment because you all know how I feel about OPN already.

3. Scott Remer on the politics of fear

The article starts with a Dune quote because the article is about fear. That’s cheesy. The rest of the article is less cheesy though.

Fear turns us into suspicion-riddled introverts.

Crippling self-awareness meets the paranoia of threat, fuses into hyper-narcissism, and manifests as political arguments on Facebook. This is something I have thought about a lot recently: in whose interest is it to foment mistrust, and who benefits from kindness? Who benefits from loneliness? Instead of sounding too “but duuude, the media” I will instead think about the quote “if you’re outraged you’re probably being used”1 and try to figure out a way to be political without being politicized.

Loneliness and isolation derange the mind, dissolving our sense of reasonableness and engendering an urge to find communion wherever it may be

But on the other side of the coin,

Pain and sorrow can broaden our horizons, expanding our empathetic and imaginative gifts, teaching us to extend clemency and leniency to everybody we meet. They can motivate us to view strangers as potential allies, partners and friends, empowering us to mobilize for political changes which will make life less tragic and painful.

That’s the way out of solipsism I guess: open up to others, share in their tribulations, and then do all the rest of it.

4. This rabbit can walk on its hands

and scientists have figured out why.

This breed of rabbit is called a sauteur d’Alfort2. A team of researchers at Max Planck found out that this rabbit walks on its front limbs because it contains a mutation in a gene called RORB. RORB controls the expression of interneurons (neurons that control the flow of information between the spinal cord and the muscles). If RORB is mutated, interneurons are leaky: they’ll just let any muscle activation signal through. That makes muscles (like the ones in the back legs) over-activate, making the rabbit do handstands.

5. VOID - One Year of Silence

A short, pensive film by Tom Andrew and Sam Davis capturing the loneliness left behind in empty venues and basements, set to music from Daniel Avery.

Their aim is to raise money for the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), a UK charity providing life-saving services and mental health support. You can donate here.

6. Find of the week: tree gnome

In the past year, on my walks around the neighborhood, I’ve noticed a steady and significant increase in fairy gardens, lawn decorations, and general yard tomfoolery. I thought this one was just great.

Yours basking in the springtime sun,

N

1

some guy online, probably Simon Sarris

2

translates to “the hopper from Alfort”. awww