The History Of WD-40 Is Stranger Than You Think

Jalopnik is by far my favourite car news site! – cPaul

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The New Rules of Music Snobbery

Hulu’s High Fidelity reboot captures the end of elitist condescension and the rise of fervent eclecticism.

High Fidelity Mix PieceFebruary Issue

Twenty-five years after Nick Hornby’s novel High Fidelity psychoanalyzed fussy record-store clerks, and 20 years after the movie adaptation made John Cusack their avatar, the once-inescapable and now-obscure archetype of the music snob is being reissued. Hulu’s charming High Fidelity reboot stars Zoë Kravitz in a 10-episode riff on the ways that music culture—and the preposterously learned, list-making taste cops intrinsic to it—has changed in the era of AirPods. The first law of post-snob snobbery: Speak before you Shazam.

A telling early scene in the old High Fidelity saw Barry, the bombastic employee of Cusack’s Rob, repel a would-be customer searching for Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You.” Barry decreed the single “sentimental, tacky crap,” saying the middle-aged man who asked for it “offended me with his terrible taste.” The equivalent moment in the 2020 version arrives when Cherise, the Barry-update played with delicious verve by Da’Vine Joy Randolph, calls out an iced-coffee-drinking bro who has strolled into the Brooklyn record store owned by Kravitz’s Robin. He holds up his phone to ID the song that’s playing. “You do know there’s an actual person standing right here in front of you?” Cherise says before launching into a semi-castigating, semi-flirtatious sermon that irritates its target so much, he leaves. She isn’t out to shame the Shazamer so much as to connect with him. “The problem with these kids,” Cherise yells afterward, “is that the generation has completely fucked off.”

A less perceptive reboot would simply have made Ed Sheeran the new sentimental, tacky crap, but Hulu has gone beyond grafting contemporary references onto Hornby’s tale of 30-somethings who are more adept at sequencing mixtapes than at maintaining healthy relationships. The series captures a fundamental reorientation in listening these days: Elitist condescension about musical preferences isn’t cool anymore, but maybe—die-hard fans fear—obsessing and connecting over music are no longer cool either. Barry-types once used their taste to prop themselves above the less erudite, mainstream-minded listeners they mocked. Cherise, by contrast, just wants to chat about a song—and the consumer, cozy in a private digital bubble, decidedly does not.

The much-discussed “death of the snob” in the internet era explains part of the shift on display. Even though some High Fidelity–style shops catering to vinyl collectors have survived the extinction of big-box retailers, streaming and downloads have chipped away at the super-listener’s pretexts for arrogance: special knowledge (entire discographies are now explorable with a click), special access (few B sides can hide from Google), and curatorial chops (algorithms can DJ your life). Cloistered listening has become more common, as Spotify and the omnipresent earbud turn an entire art form into an on-demand, all-you-can-stream personal utility. Meanwhile, many of the remaining gatekeepers have mellowed into “poptimists” who say Taylor Swift and Radiohead can be equally worthy of praise and exegesis. Ideals of inclusivity—not exactly a trademark of the straight-white-male audiophiles of the original High Fidelity—have driven that change.

The 2020 record store’s denizens—two women of color and a gay white man—seem to realize that hierarchical edicts are out. Certainly the staff is nicer than the old guard was. Barry and Rob squabbled so acridly that they nearly came to blows; their descendants banter with noticeable sensitivity and esprit de corps. Outsiders, in fact, are surprised at how agreeable the crew is. One guy Robin goes on a date with, upon learning that she owns a record store, asks if she’ll walk out on him for enjoying Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” Robin, as it happens, loves the song, though she’s iffy on its album, Rumours. The tension and humor of the scene then turn on whether she’s too voluble in her analysis of a band she was expected to disdain. Intensity, rather than pretension, defines her. She’s a geek more than a snob.

Not that these characters aren’t snobs in other cultural arenas. Generally they hate the superficial: overpriced coffee shops, selfie-taking influencers, and other lifestyle-as-branding trends. Cherise never says it, but you can guess that she worries the Shazamer will simply add the song—which she’d no doubt fastidiously selected—to some chill-out playlist, rather than engage more deeply. Such anxieties fit with a commonly heard refrain from today’s artists and critics that streaming devalues music economically and spiritually. Robin even seems a bit smug about her store’s obsolescence. “Half the neighborhood thinks we’re washed-up relics,” she says. “The other half thinks we’re nostalgic hipsters. They’re both kind of right.”

Read the rest at The Atlantic

See also: Nick Hornby: Why a “High Fidelity” Reboot Made Perfect Sense @ Rolling Stone

See also: Hulu’s “High Fidelity” Reboot Updates the Formula, but Doesn’t Mess With a Classic @ The Ringer

See also: High Fidelity reboot on Hulu @ IMDB

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Maps Paint a Dark Future for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

by Yessenia Funes | Gizmodo

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of the last pristine landscapes in America. Tucked along the northern border of Alaska and Canada, the nearly 20 million acres of wilderness is home to a variety of wildlife species, including the Porcupine caribou herd, which visits the refuge’s coastal plain every summer where mothers give birth to their young.

President Donald Trump is obsessed with opening up the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain to oil and gas development, and many opponents are worried about what all this new infrastructure could mean for the caribou that spend their summers there. More importantly, the people of the Gwich’in Nation—who call themselves the “Caribou people”—rely on the Porcupine caribou for sustenance and culture. They worry about how development will impact their ability to hunt the animals for food and ceremony.

Even the Trump administration can’t ignore these potential impacts: The proposal’s final environmental impact statement released in September was clear that the well pads and pipelines that come along with oil and gas development may displace some caribou, which avoid the infrastructure. This reality is still a ways away as the Trump administration has yet to issue a record of decision on the project, Leah Donahey, legislative director at Alaska Wilderness League, told Earther. From there, lease sales must begin before oil and gas companies can come in with their trucks and pipes.

What would this actually look like, though? 

Read the rest here:

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USB Chargers Have as Much Processing Power as the Apollo 11 Guidance Computers

Andrew Liszewski | Gizmodo | February 11, 2020

It comes as no surprise that the guidance computers aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft were impossibly primitive compared to the pocket computers we all carry around 50 years later. But on his website, an Apple developer analyzed the tech specs even further and found that even something as simple as a modern USB charger is packed with more processing power.

Forrest Heller, a software developer who formerly worked on Occipital’s Structure 3D scanner accessory for mobile devices, but who now works for Apple, broke down the numbers when it comes to the processing power, memory, and storage capacity of Google’s 18W Pixel charger, Huawei’s 40W SuperCharge, the Anker PowerPort Atom PD 2 charger, and the Apollo 11 guidance computer, also referred to as the AGC.

Check it out here:

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What Would Joseph Campbell Think?

I love this… I am often thinking about Joseph Cambell and his brilliant view on modern life and the human condition through the lens of mankind’s myths and mythology. – cPaul


Facebook member responded to our recent post Bill Moyers and Steve Harper on Lawyers, Liars and Trump on Trial with a question: Though I doubt that Bill Moyers will answer this question in person, I’d like to know what he thinks Joseph Campbell would have to say about this “moment.”

Bill Moyers responds:

I don’t know what in particular Joseph Campbell would say about our situation today. But I can imagine him lamenting, as he did when we talked some thirty 30 years ago, our failure “to admit within ourselves the carnivorous, lecherous fever that is endemic to human nature.” Malevolent greed was on the loose then – it was the mid-1980s as Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko popularized the mantra that “Greed is good” — and the disease was infectious. So I am sure he would not be inclined to place all the blame for the vulgarity and decadence of today on a single individual, no matter how venal, but would say that one conspicuous culprit is the symptom, not the cause, of our discontent.

He would likely be sad now, as he was then, over the weaponizing of religion. He told me, “My notion of the real horror today is what you see in Beirut [then a battleground of religious conflict]. There you have the three great Western religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and because the three of them have different names for the same biblical god, they can’t get on together. They are stuck with their metaphor and don’t realize its reference. They haven’t allowed the closed circle that surrounds them to open. Instead, each insists, ‘We are the chosen group; we have the Truth.’“

Joe believed that we need “myths that will identify the individual not with the local group but with the planet.” Remember, the atmosphere was already warming, but the threat preoccupied mostly scientists. And Joe was looking ahead: “The only myth that is going to be worth thinking about in the immediate future is one that is talking about the planet…and everybody on it. And what it will have to deal with will be exactly what all myths have dealt with—the maturation of the individual, from dependency through adulthood, through maturity, and then to the exit; and then how to relate to this society and how to relate this society to the world of nature and the cosmos.”

He described this “as the ground of what the future myth is to be: the eye of reason, not of my religious community; the eye of reason, not my linguistic community. But a philosophy for the planet.” I am sure he would be appalled at the failure of our political class to prepare for saving not an elite or privileged group – not this group, that group, or the other group, but the earth and all those living on it. “This might be the symbol, really, for the new mythology to come. That is the country we are going to be celebrating. And those are the people that we are one with.”

He would, I am sure, deplore the cult of power and personality that has hypnotized American politics. He thought “the power impulse” had been the fundamental impulse in European history, and that it had come to pervade religion in America and thus society, thanks to media and mass consumption. So he would most likely be calling on us to consider the images of myth as “reflections of the spiritual potentialities of every one of us. Through contemplating these, we evoke their powers in our own lives….and live not essentially for ourselves.”

He told me the story that if he were around he might be telling everyone today, of the troubled woman who came to the Indian sage Ramakrishna, confessing “O Master, I do not find that I can love God.” And Ramakrishna asked, “Is there nothing then, that you love?” To this she answered, “My little nephew.”And he replied:, “There is your love and service to God, in your love and service to that child.’”For Joe, this was “the high message of religion, ‘Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these….” He would likely be calling us back to the deeper spiritual truth which he found common to the human spirit, liberating us (“You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”) from grandiosity and aggressive behavior. “If you would save the world,” he told me, “change the metaphor.” By that, he meant look for the image of yourself and your society that gives you life, breadth, and depth, and suggests membership in a community – an America worth perpetuating, one that transcends this putrid “moment.”

Read the response in its entirety at

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Students often struggle after a mental health crisis. Can this support system help?

The BRYT program, which was founded and pioneered in a Boston-area school in 2004 by the nonprofit Brookline Center for Community Mental Health, has emerged as a successful model for helping kids re-enter school after a mental health crisis. cPaul

By — Alfonso Serrano, The Hechinger Report

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Ava had always felt comfortable at the small, private K-8 school she attended just north of Boston. But in high school everything changed.

Ava first began to experience anxiety and depression after her parents divorced, when she was still in grade school. These problems increased as she entered her teen years, and became even more severe in ninth grade, when she enrolled at Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, a vast campus with nearly 2,000 students. Faced with large, noisy classrooms, Ava froze with fear. By her sophomore year, she felt unable to cope. When her mother dropped her off one morning, Ava looked out at the school building, but couldn’t open the car door to go inside.

She began to miss two or three days of school a week. In April of that year, she stopped attending altogether.

Read the rest here

Art work by Tashin, a junior at Rindge & Latin High School and BRYT alum. Photo by Alfonso Serrano for The Hechinger Report

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Why Life On Other Planets Will Resemble Ours

ONEZERO.MEDIUM.COM | by Steve LeVine | Jan 28, 2020

Hard science offers a remarkably detailed portrait of how extraterrestrials may live — and clues on where our own civilization is headed

Scientists, now routinely detecting potentially habitable planets in space, are the closest yet to determining the truth about aliens. But there is another question that almost none talk about: If other beings do populate the universe, what are they doing out there?

Are the possible inhabitants of Teegarden b, some 12 light-years from Earth’s solar system, driven to explore and migrate? Do they have a great power rivalry with the citizens of Teegarden c? What about the potential folks on the “super Earth” exoplanet K2–72 e? Are they inclined to hate and love according to tribe?

Such questions may appear to be only the stuff of science fiction. But it turns out that the hard laws of physics, biology, and geophysics apply on other habitable planets just as they do on Earth. And they suggest a remarkable level of detail about how alien societies might operate, says the astrophysicist Frank Drake, detail that among other things could help resolve some of humankind’s most charged debates, from how to confront a changing climate to how to treat beings from other places.

Read the rest at ONEZERO.MEDIUM

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The USA is NOT Energy Independent

A few of my American friends who are currently cheering the Trump-Administration have crowed on Trump’s declaration that the USA is energy independent, a talking-point that Trump re-claimed at the recent State of the Union Address. That does not jive with my own impression, so I did a little digging.

Ben Geman at Axios had provided a recent and balanced take on this claim. – cPaul

Reproduced from EIA; Chart: Axios Visuals

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Culture Industry

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Immune Discovery “May Treat All Cancer”

by James Gallagher : BBC News

Breast cancer cells
The new technique could kill a wide range of cancer cells, including breast and prostate

A newly-discovered part of our immune system could be harnessed to treat all cancers, say scientists.

The Cardiff University team discovered a method of killing prostate, breast, lung and other cancers in lab tests.

The findings, published in Nature Immunology, have not been tested in patients, but the researchers say they have “enormous potential”.

Experts said that although the work was still at an early stage, it was very exciting.

What have they found?

Our immune system is our body’s natural defence against infection, but it also attacks cancerous cells.

The scientists were looking for “unconventional” and previously undiscovered ways the immune system naturally attacks tumours.

What they found was a T-cell inside people’s blood. This is an immune cell that can scan the body to assess whether there is a threat that needs to be eliminated.

The difference is this one could attack a wide range of cancers.

“There’s a chance here to treat every patient,” researcher Prof Andrew Sewell told the BBC.

He added: “Previously nobody believed this could be possible.

“It raises the prospect of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ cancer treatment, a single type of T-cell that could be capable of destroying many different types of cancers across the population.”

How does it work?

T-cells have “receptors” on their surface that allow them to “see” at a chemical level.

The Cardiff team discovered a T-cell and its receptor that could find and kill a wide range of cancerous cells in the lab including lung, skin, blood, colon, breast, bone, prostate, ovarian, kidney and cervical cancer cells.

Crucially, it left normal tissues untouched.

T-cell attacking a cancer cell
Image captionT-cells attack cancer cells

Exactly how it does this is still being explored.

This particular T-cell receptor interacts with a molecule called MR1, which is on the surface of every cell in the human body.

It is thought MR1 is flagging the distorted metabolism going on inside a cancerous cell to the immune system.

“We are the first to describe a T-cell that finds MR1 in cancer cells – that hasn’t been done before, this is the first of its kind,” research fellow Garry Dolton told the BBC.

Why is this significant?

T-cell cancer therapies already exist and the development of cancer immunotherapy has been one of the most exciting advances in the field.

The most famous example is CAR-T – a living drug made by genetically engineering a patient’s T-cells to seek out and destroy cancer.

CAR-T can have dramatic results that transform some patients from being terminally ill to being in complete remission.

However, the approach is highly specific and works in only a limited number of cancers where there is a clear target to train the T-cells to spot.

And it has struggled to have any success in “solid cancers” – those that form tumours rather than blood cancers such as leukaemia.

The researchers say their T-cell receptor could lead to a “universal” cancer treatment.

So how would it work in practice?

The idea is that a blood sample would be taken from a cancer patient.

Their T-cells would be extracted and then genetically modified so they were reprogrammed to make the cancer-finding receptor.

Infographic explaining how CAR-t works

The upgraded cells would be grown in vast quantities in the laboratory and then put back into the patient. It is the same process used to make CAR-T therapies.

However, the research has been tested only in animals and on cells in the laboratory, and more safety checks would be needed before human trials could start.

What do the experts say?

Lucia Mori and Gennaro De Libero, from University of Basel in Switzerland, said the research had “great potential” but was at too early a stage to say it would work in all cancers.

“We are very excited about the immunological functions of this new T-cell population and the potential use of their TCRs in tumour cell therapy,” they said.

Daniel Davis, a professor of immunology at the University of Manchester, said: “At the moment, this is very basic research and not close to actual medicines for patients.

“There is no question that it’s a very exciting discovery, both for advancing our basic knowledge about the immune system and for the possibility of future new medicines.”

Read the article here at the BBC

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