Saturday Morning Links

1. Ever heard of the city of Ulm? It’s in Germany and it’s the beginning of the journey from link #5.

Photo by Luis Fernando Felipe Alves on Unsplash

2. Via Wired, a guy read every Marvel comic and then wrote a book, All of the Marvels, which appeals to the comic fan in me.

Reading them all at once, though, allowed Wolk to see the entire landscape at a single view. He notes, for example, that decades-old characters written by dozens of different people end up having consistent themes, but they change to reflect their times. Stories about Iron Man are always about the military industrial complex, Wolk realizes. In the 1960s, they were pretty rah-rah about American power. That changed during the Vietnam War. Back then the stories were about lasers and nukes; these days they’re more likely to be about surveillance, data, and artificial intelligence. Or take Captain America, a character whose stories are always about how Americans perceive themselves—which made it interesting when the commie-smashing Cap of the 1950s comics was reimagined in the 1970s as a government-employed imposter who turned out to be a white nationalist. X-Men stories are famously about diversity and acceptance, though the team was created as a race parable. It evolved, if you will, into present-day stories about international relations and gender identity.

But if a story is so big that it contains, like, everything, is that still a point of view? Is that still art? Wolk’s answer is yes, but his main goal, he tells me, is still to find ways someone could start reading Marvel Comics now, today, and enjoy them without being crushed by history and time. “I’m somebody who’s leading you on a guided tour of this enormous territory that I’ve walked every mile of, and you don’t have to walk every mile,” he says. “I don’t want to show you what I think the highlights are. I want my readers to be able to find the parts that will matter to them.” He’s trying to pathfind a trail that maybe only a longtime comics reader can see. Every frame of every Marvel story might have been an infinitesimal, but like some grand mathematical model they all integrate together into the long, long arc of the Marvel universe.

3. Via Colossal, Anglea Hao digitally draws Japanese shops with incredible details and these are just neat to look at. That’s it.

4. Via Reddit, websites that people wish other people knew more about. This is actually pretty amazing and have found several websites that I had no idea existed. And you sort of get the idea that the internet is bad, but there’s lots of good out there as well.

5. Via Vanity Fair’s William Prochnau and Laura Parker, in 1932 Oskar Speck is bankrupt, the threat of Nazi Germany is looming, and begins a 7-year and 30,000 mile kayak trip.

In 1929, the Great Depression crushed a country already on its back. By 1932, more than 30 percent of German workers were unemployed. Speck ran a small electrical-contracting company. It went bankrupt, taking the boss and his 21 workers into the streets. For Speck it was the last straw. He was fed up with the limitations of his life and his country.

The same frustration drove many Germans to the guttural siren song of Adolf Hitler. It drove Speck over the horizon. In the strange bubble world he would live in for the next seven and a half years he would brush up against Germany’s new keepers briefly, fly a swastika, and at least once seek out the Nazis’ financial help. As with so many Germans of his era, the full story of his political leanings will probably never be known. But in 1932, Oskar Speck seemed without any politics at all. “All I wanted was to get out of Germany,” he said later.

On May 13, 1932, he packed up his five-year-old kayak, called Sunnschien, boarded a train to the Danube River city of Ulm, dropped the boat into the water, and, “without any fuss or farewell,” paddled east with the current.

It was an unlikely start by an unlikely adventurer. Speck stood five feet ten inches, and weighed a lean 140 pounds. He couldn’t swim—and even traveling halfway around the world by ocean he never bothered to learn. He pushed off with little money, little planning, and only a vague goal of reaching Cyprus to find work in the copper mines.

Saturday Morning Links

1. Ever heard of Maaenboodhoo? Me neither. It’s in the Maldives, which I am sure you’ve heard of which is an archipelagic that’s southwest of Sri Lanka (more south than west). What was amazing to me was this photo of the capital city of Malé and they have appeared to use every square inch of this island, almost like SimCity.

Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash

2. If you are at all into soccer and the U.S. Men’s National Team, this ESPN profile on El Paso’s own 18-year old phenom Ricardo Pepi is great. Pepi is the son of Mexican immigrants could have played for Mexico or the U.S. and chose the U.S. This hits home for me because my boys are immigrants and if Youssouf ever becomes an athlete that can choose between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the U.S., he’d almost assuredly choose the U.S. because of his lack of connection with the DRC.

WHEN YOU’RE THE child of immigrant parents, you often feel as if you’ve got to make their struggles and sacrifices count for something. Calling it a burden is too much. Call it that feeling you get when you look at your father or mother and wonder what dreams they had before life shook them awake.

Because sometimes your mother is 16 years old when she had you. And sometimes your father pawns the family car and borrows money because those can become tomorrow’s problems if it means everyone’s eating today. And sometimes, you live in a place like El Paso and Juárez that are often neglected by their governments, and it feels like you must escape.
Like the rest of the communities, largely of Mexican descent, along the north side of the Texas-Mexico border, El Paso County has a substantially higher poverty rate than the rest of the country. Its per capita income is over $12,400 lower than the national average. It has lower levels of educational attainment. It has more than twice the national percentage rate of uninsured residents under 65.

It’s why when you come from the El Paso-Juárez borderland — as I do — it’s easy to feel an urgency. It’s disquieting to notice how few things grow here. The barren surroundings don’t help. Out in the wide-open spaces of West Texas and Northern Mexico, it’s easy to get lost.

To live here is to feel the questions that are as omnipresent as the mountains surrounding the region and as persistent as the winds racing down from them. On the worst of days that wind howls. It makes the desert floor dance until the sand blocks the sun and turns the sky from a hue of blue to a reddish-brown.

That wind can rip the roof off buildings and tear doors from hinges. It can choke and blind you, sometimes worse. It’s on those days when it feels like we should all run away from this desert. Run away from this separate world between two countries. On those days when it sounds like some invisible hand is continually throwing dirt against locked doors and windows, it’s like the wind carries the existential questions that most here wrestle with.

3. Colossal with photos of split-screen photography, both below and above a water-line.

4. This got my attention as a former estate planning attorney, the descendants of Henrietta Lacks have sued Thermo Fisher Scientific for using her cells in medical research without per permission. Lacks died of cervical cancer and her cells became the first human cells to be successfully cloned and have been reproduced indefinitely and are called “HeLa cells”. Thermo Fisher is making money off of these cells (a lot of money) and never obtained Lacks’ consent.

5. I’m not in the crypto game, but this story of “Tether” crypto is really interesting as it is supposed to be crypto that is backed by the dollar, for every dollar turned in a unit of Tether is produced.

Saturday Morning Links

1. I took a break last week to take a trip to Washington. I got to see my brother, his wife, and my new niece. I had proposed in the summer that my brother and I do a “runcation” which was a way for me to go run in the mountains and go see my brother at the same time. Both things are fun and I had not seen my brother and his family since the pandemic started, so over a year and long enough for my new niece to be darn near 10 months old.

This is me reading to my new niece. Her name is Penny and this is Thursday before we started the planning process, although we did start planning prior to this point with me sitting on the chair. She and I are not planning anything.

2. On day 2, we traveled 3 hours to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to hike the Snowgrass Flats and Goat Lake Loop Trail. This is generally considered to be an overnight trail I think, lots of people hiking in with packs for the evening and essentially sleeping at Goat Lake for the night and then completing the loop. TJ and I had plans to run the entire thing and be done in a few hours. This is the first time I’ve done something like this, to hike something that would seem a bit daunting and do it in enough time to be home for dinner. I should also clarify that my hat is not a Ted Lasso hat, it’s from a website called “Believe in the Run” and they review running shoes. Yes, I bought a hat from a running website.

3. The hike/run was really spectacular. I should clarify that when a lot of people talk about running trails, it’s walk up and then run down. You try to walk quickly because most people cannot run 2,000 feet up a mountain. It can be done, but it’s really difficult.

We went clockwise along the trail, which ended up being the correct choice as the run up was relatively short and the backside going down would be more run-able. Generally speaking, you’d think everything to be brown, but the fall colors were really something that neither TJ nor I had ever seen in a mountain setting, so it was terrific to experience.

Once you get over the valley, there’s this beautiful view of, well, everything. This really doesn’t do things justice, but it was really amazing. We should have run out on that ridgeline to the end towards what might be Mt. Saint Helens (we were really never sure as it could be Mt. Rainier in the distance, but it really doesn’t matter as it is pretty). On our way home we had a burger at some place in some town along the way. It was great.

4. The next day we ran around Squak Mountain for the day. This was a closer group of trails (not 3 hours away) and it allowed us to do a lot more, including a leisurely bike ride later in the afternoon after lunch.

The top of the mountain is radio equipment. There’s no lookout, so there was no “payoff” in the traditional sense, but it was still a ton of fun. The backend of the run consisted of running down a gravel road and we clocked 9 minute miles in the process, which is always a bit scary as your thighs are typically screaming and a false step could result in a trip to the dentist.

5. This was a fun hard weekend. The weather was perfect. I don’t know the exact temperature, but t-shirts were more than enough and was sweating most of the day. I should be careful about using the word “hard”. The easy part was seeing family and it was great, while the difficult part really wasn’t difficult, it was fun. Difficult things in my life are work related and I don’t like to conflate the two. This is so much more fun than anything that I normally get to do. And of all things my brother might give up a bit of riding the bike in order to run more trails.

Maybe our next trip involves Sedona.

Saturday Morning Links

1. Ever heard of Nachi Taisha? Me neither. It’s a Shinto temple that’s part of a UNESCO heritage site in the Kii Mountain Range of Japan. I’ll totally admit that the Shinto religion or belief system is something I know nothing about, but based on this idea of “Kami” it sounds reasonable: The term kami is “conceptually fluid”, and “vague and imprecise”. In Japanese it is often applied to the power of phenomena that inspire a sense of wonder and awe in the beholder.

Photo by Nolan Di Meo on Unsplash

2. As the Texas state fair is set to start, Texas Monthly’s Katy Vine on the long and somewhat sordid history of the Fletcher’s Corndog:

Corny dogs made their state fair debut in 1942. Neil and Carl lured passersby to the booth with their showmen’s charm and free small bites. By the end of their first fair, the brothers had made $8,000 (about $134,000 today).

The golden age of deep-fried concessions, which would bring fairgoers fried Jell-O and fried bubble gum, was still years in the future. But the era of the pioneer, the corny dog, had begun.

After Neil and Carl died, the empire passed to the next generation, and in 1988 Skip became the majority owner. He was a crooner who idolized Frank Sinatra. “The pastor would get up at church while he was singing and go, ‘Okay, ladies, this is church. We can’t be having any swooning out there,’ ” G.G. recalled. He was also a theatrical storyteller. He once explained a scar on his leg to Amber by saying he’d been “shot by a jealous husband.”

3. There’s not much here. This is a wind map and it is highly fascinating to explore.

4. The New York Times with a breakdown on a new study that details metabolism and there’s only 4 times your metabolism changes. So, if you blame/credit your weight gain on metabolism then you may not be correct:

Last month, however, a paper published in Science by Pontzer and more than 80 co-authors revealed that much of what we thought we knew about metabolism was wrong. Using previously collected data from more than 6,400 subjects who ranged in age from 8 days to 95 years, and adjusting for body size and the amount of fat and muscle present, they found that our metabolism generally goes through four distinct life phases. Newborns’ metabolism resembles that of adults. Then, when they are about a month old, their metabolic rate starts rapidly increasing, until between 9 and 15 months, it is more than 50 percent higher than an adult’s — the equivalent of a grown-up burning around 4,000 calories a day. (The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that, on average, adult women need between 1,600 and 2,400 calories a day and adult men between 2,000 and 3,000 calories.) At that point, between age 1 and 2, energy expenditure starts to decline and keeps falling until roughly age 20. From there, it holds steady for the next 40 years, even during pregnancy and menopause; you burn calories as efficiently at 55 as you do at 25. At around age 60, energy expenditure begins to drop again and continues to do so until the end of our lives. Men, the researchers observed, do not have innately faster metabolisms than women; rather, they tend to burn more calories per day for their size because they typically have a higher proportion of muscle, which uses more energy than fat does.

5. I really didn’t even think about The Saturday Evening Post still posting/publishing things, but I am happy to report that they are. The Saturday Evening Post on the complicated history of the frisbee.

It starts with Thanksgiving dinner in 1937. Walter Frederick Morrison and his girlfriend (later wife) Lucille started a game of catch with a metal lid from a popcorn container. The pair had a good time with it, but discovered that the popcorn tin lids were easy to dent, and subsequently, no longer great for flying. They started using cake pans to play; they were easier to find, and cheap to buy. Fred and Lucille would even take the pans on outings to public places so they could play. One such outing was to a beach in Santa Monica, California. People watched as they played, and someone even offered the duo a quarter for their cake pan so they could play. Morrison knew an opportunity when he heard it; at that time, cake pans themselves only cost five cents. It stood to reason that there might be a commercial market for a flying disc toy. Dubbed the Flying Cake Pan — yes, Flying Cake Pan — they began to sell them for a quarter a piece at L.A. beaches.

The business venture got derailed, as many things at the time did, by World War II. Morrison served as an Army Air Force fighter pilot. His P-47 Thunderbolt was shot down over Italy and he was held as a POW for over a month, but he survived. After the war ended and he returned home, Morrison’s thoughts turned back to his homemade flyer. Employing notions of aerodynamics he picked up as a pilot, Morrison drew a sketch for a new version of the Flying Cake Pan called the Whirlo-Way. He completed his design 75 years ago this month, on September 10, 1946.

Saturday Morning Links

1. Ever heard of Cantabria? Me neither. It is a historical autonomous community in Spain and belongs to “Green Spain”, as it sits between the Bay of Biscay, the Basque province of Biscay, the principality of Asturias, and the Cantabrian Sea. That all sounds like a fairy tale description.

Photo by Mathew MacQuarrie on Unsplash

2. Ever heard of the Azores? Well, yes, you have, especially if you’ve been reading in December of 2020, and last time I just had really great photo, but this time there’s a video, which is dubbed, but it is fantastic in terms of knowing exactly what you are looking at in terms of the island. It looks just amazing.

3. Speaking of getting to know a place through video and I long to go to the Democratic Republic of Congo with Youssouf, but until that day does happen, I just get this. The best part is that you get to meet the people to an extent and if you ever wonder if people across the world are normal and humans, they are. We’re all pulling together. I don’t know who any of these people are, but I found the words of Fredy, but be pretty terrific.

1. Put God first in your life.
2. Work as hard as you can.
3. Be a blessing to somebody.

4. A new theory on who were the first people in North American, via The Atlantic:

In 1979, the Canadian archaeologist Knut Fladmark proposed that before the inland corridor opened for the Clovis people, humans traveled along the west coast of the Americas on small watercraft. According to Fladmark, the first Americans were not the storied big-game hunters of popular culture. They were skilled mariners who Braje thinks might have gorged themselves on otters, shellfish, and strips of campfire-dried seaweed.

Fladmark’s theory remained a fringe position for decades, but in 1997 scientists gave it a second look after archaeologists excavated Monte Verde, a coastal site that is roughly 14,500 years old—a full 1,000 years more ancient than any Clovis site. Its former inhabitants did not appear to be big-game hunters. They did, however, collect nine different types of seaweed. Strangest of all, Monte Verde is in Chile. If people were living down there 14,500 years ago, their ancestors probably began their southward trip from Beringia, the region connecting Siberia, Alaska, and the Yukon, well before the Clovis people speared their first American mastodon. And along the way, they may have stopped in the Channel Islands.

5. Via The Jerusalem Post, an ancient weight used by a scammer in First Temple era of Jerusalem.

Saturday Morning Links

1. Ever heard of Torres del Paine? I would bet that I’ve already posted this, but I’m not willing to search today. Regardless, Torres del Paine National Park is in Chile and part of the Chilean Patagonia.

Photo by Olga Stalska on Unsplash

2. Only one thing today, so technically it is a “links” with an “s”, but extenuiating circumstances mean that this isn’t as long as it normally is. This quote from the novella A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean is with me today.

“Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don’t know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them – we can love completely without complete understanding.”

Saturday Morning Links

1. Ever heard of Mayotte Island? Me neither. Apparently it is a territorial collectivity of France, which is a lot of word salad to say that it was colonized by France back in the day and it’s off the east coast of Africa, east of Mozambique and north of Madagascar. Regardless, 84% of the population live under the poverty line, which is stunning and 40% of the dwellings are corrugated sheet metal shacks. Sounds like France is definitely taking care of their own.

Photo by Ben Jung on Unsplash

2. There is a fire that has been burning for 6,000 years. Via Futility Closet, a brush fire caused by a lightening strike on Australia’s Mount Wingen has been burning for 6,000 years.

3. Via Interesting Engineering, apparently the Pythagorean theory was around a thousand years before Pythagoras of Samos.

Authored by Dr. Daniel Mansfield, a researcher at the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of New South Wales in Australia, the study speaks about two archaeological discoveries, Plimpton 322 and Si.427. These are contemporary tablets from about 3,700 years back that contain inscriptions that are currently the oldest records of applied geometry that we currently have.

The Plimpton 322 was found earlier, and in 2017, Mansfield and his team had hypothesized that this “zoo of right-angle triangles with different shapes” was a unique kind of trigonometric table that had some practical purpose, such as constructing palaces and temples, building canals, or surveying fields. While it is believed that Greeks used trigonometry to study the sky, their predecessors, the Babylonians were using it to solve matters on the ground.

4. Mel Magazine on Adam Sandler playing pick-up basketball.

No matter where you live, so long as there is a basketball game happening somewhere in the vicinity, there’s a nonzero chance that Adam Sandler will show up. And unlike other celebrities who might call ahead to reserve the courts for themselves or make a PR event out of the appearance, Sandler, by all accounts, respects the hallowed, universal rules of pickup basketball. He just shows up, hoops and dips.

5. In the category of things that we are still discovering, via Live Science, researchers have discovered a previously unknown blood red jellyfish 2,300 feet below the surface.

Saturday Morning Links

1. Ever heard of Hamnøy? Me neither. It’s a really small island in Norway and its  in probably in a Volkswagen commercial. There’s nothing really on the Wikipedia page about it, but it is just really pretty.

Photo by Mischa Bachmann on Unsplash

2. This is a map of where Indigenous nations lived. I find it fascinating to scroll and dig into the details, who was here where I live. I believe I’m where the Tawakoni, Wichita, Jumanos, and Kickaapoi nations lives and there’s a Lake Tawakoni that’s about 30 miles away.

3. Carpe diem doesn’t mean “Seize the Day!” JStor Daily’s Chi Luu, but actually means “plucking the day”:

Gathering flowers as a metaphor for timely enjoyment is a far gentler, more sensual image than the rather forceful and even violent concept of seizing the moment. It is not that as a culture we can’t understand what it means to harvest something when it’s ready—we do have related metaphors like “making hay while the sun shines,” after all. But there is something in the more Hollywood phrasing “seize the day” that has clearly resonated with people in the last thirty years. We understand the phrase to be, rather than encouraging a deep enjoyment of the present moment, compelling us to snatch at time and consume it before it’s gone, or before we’re gone.

As John Keating teaches his students to value their own individuality above conforming to rules, he stands on his desk, as he says, not to feel taller, but to remind himself that we must constantly look at things in a different way. By seizing the day rather than plucking it like a flower, however, we’re actually conforming to hidden cultural values that we all share, not looking at the world in a different way from the norm, but in the same way as everyone else. These are cultural values that some argue have been co-opted by advertisers to sell us more things that we’re told will make us happier.

4. I don’t know what to tell you about this piece from The Atlantic’s Jennifer Senior, but it was the best thing I’ve read this year. the title? “WHAT BOBBY MCILVAINE LEFT BEHIND | Grief, conspiracy theories, and one family’s search for meaning in the two decades since 9/11.”

When she finally left the McIlvaines’ house for good, Jen slammed the door behind her, got into her car, and burst into tears. Shortly after, she wrote Helen a letter with her final answer: No, just no. If Helen wanted to discuss this matter any further, she’d have to do so in the presence of Jen’s therapist.

Helen and her husband never saw Jen again. “She became a nonperson to me,” Helen told me. Today, she can’t so much as recall Jen’s last name.

But for years, Helen thought about that diary. Her mind snagged on it like a nail; she needled her husband for giving it away; it became the subject of endless discussion in her “limping group,” as she calls it, a circle of six mothers in suburban Philadelphia who’d also lost children, though not on September 11. They became indignant on her behalf. A number proposed, only half jokingly, that they break into Jen’s apartment and liberate the diary. “You don’t get any more memories,” one of the women told me. “So anything written, any video, any card—you cling to that. That’s all you’re going to get for life.”

The McIlvaines would have to make do with what they already had. Eventually, they did. Three words of Bobby’s became the family motto: Life loves on. No one could quite figure out which diary or legal pad it came from, but no matter. Helen wears a silver bracelet engraved with this phrase, and her husband got it tattooed in curlicue script on his upper arm.

5. It’s only 1:35, but worth it. Don’t eat alone.

Saturday Morning Links

1. Ever heard of Maligne Lake? Me neither. It’s a lake in the Jasper National Park out there in Alberta, Canada. Maligne Lake is fed by the Maligne River and the river is named that way for the French word for “malignant” or wicked.

The name was used by Father Pierre-Jean De Smet (1801–1873) to describe the turbulent river that flows from the lake (in the spring), and soon spread to the lake, canyon, pass, mountain and range. It is also possible that early French traders applied the name to the river for its treacherous confluence with the Athabasca River.

Photo by Christopher Czermak on Unsplash

2. Tight Loops is a YouTube channel, a husband and wife team, that travel around in a van (cliched, but I wouldn’t worry about that) and fly fish. It’s just great. I don’t know anything about cinematography, but I know that what I’m looking at is absolutely incredible. They’re doing a series where they detail their efforts to attempt to catch the Arctic Char. It seems as if everyone should try to go to Maine because it looks amazing.

3. Portraits from 100 years ago, via The Guardian, Swedish photographer John Alinder takes portraits of his neighbors.

4. You can peddle an electric cart through the redwoods on the old train tracks.

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5. I started a new job on Monday and for the first time in my life I entered the corporate world. It’s strange and I feel a bit like Red in Shawshank Redemption where he gets out and starts working at the grocery store and asks if he can use the restroom. Red simply doesn’t know what to do in the free world. I feel similar and am still trying to navigate my way in a lot of ways.  Starting a new job at the ripe old age of 47 is definitely strange and I feel a bit out of place.

Saturday Morning Links

1. Ever heard of Kaiserstuhl? Me neither. It’s a range of hills in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg in southwest Germany, the name referring to King Otto III from 994, and literally means “King’s Chair”

Photo by Claudio Testa on Unsplash

2. Via Open Culture, the world’s oldest cookbook, which was published in 1643 in Japan, which was actually translated to English.

3. Via Atlas Obscura, archaeologists from the University of Warsaw have found walls for a church, portraits of the 12 Apostles in Sudan. This is particularly important because this relates back to the Kingdom of Makuria, which was a Christian kingdom that ran along the Nile River starting in the 4th century and lasting all of the way until the 15th century. That’s sort of insane to think there’s a kingdom out there that’s lasted that long, but I’ve never known about it.

4. Via The Smithsonian Magazine, divers have discovered an 80-foot ship beneath 16 feet of clay in the Nile River in the sunken city of the Thonis-Heracleion, the ship being both Egyptian and Greek in technique:

The ship’s design reflects a mixture of ancient Egyptian and Greek techniques. Its builders used mortise-and-tenon joints and constructed the vessel partly out of reused wood, suggesting that it was made in Egypt. The ship boasted both oars and a large sail; it had a flat bottom and keel, which would have allowed it to navigate the Nile and the delta where the river meets the Mediterranean Sea.

Franck Goddio, founding president of IEASM, says in a statement that finding intact remains of such ancient, fast ships is very rare. The only comparable Greek-style ship is the Marsala Ship, dated to 235 B.C.E., which archaeologists uncovered in western Sicily in 1971.

5. Via PetaPixel, artist Michael Ranger took the reflection from the high definition picture in Buzz Aldrin’s mask from the Apollo 11 mission.