Dingoes came to Australia 5,000 years ago, driving indigenous predators to extinction. Huge fences keep them away from livestock, but the ecosystems on either side of the fence have changed in unexpected ways, affecting vegetation, foxes, kangaroos, marsupials and reptiles.

I’m quite fond of this distinction by Ethan Hein:

  • Realist recording: the sound of humans playing live in the same location at the same time.
  • Hyperrealist: like reality, but better.
  • Surrealist: music that can’t be played live in real time.

The Beatles’ career spanned the lot.

WWI soldiers expressed emotion by not swearing

From Bee Wilson’s review of The Littlehampton Libels by Christopher Hilliard:

The Littlehampton Libels by Christopher Hilliard is a short but dazzling work of microhistory. It uses the story of some poison pen letters in a small town to illuminate wider questions of social life in Britain between the wars, from ordinary people’s experience of the legal system to the way people washed their sheets, and is a far more exciting book than either the title or the rather dull cover would suggest. For a short period, the mystery of these letters became a national news story that generated four separate trials and, as Hilliard writes, ‘demanded more from the police and the lawyers than most murders’.

This is a book about morality and class, about the uses and abuses of literacy and about the tremendous dislocations in British society after the First World War, which extended far beyond those who had suffered the direct trauma of battle. Hilliard uses these poison pen letters – written in language that was as eccentric as it was obscene – to ‘catch the accents of the past’. The Littlehampton Libels is about a battle between two women who were members of only the second generation in Britain to benefit from compulsory elementary education, women for whom the written word was a new and exhilarating weapon.

Hilliard asks what it was like to live in a society where ‘nice’ women had to pretend that they were ignorant of all profanity. Melissa Mohr claims in her excellent book Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing (2013) that the British started to swear more during and after the First World War, because strong language – like strong drink – is a way to alleviate despair. In 1930, John Brophy and Eric Partridge published a collection of British songs and slang from the war. They claimed that soldiers used the word ‘fucking’ so often that it was merely a warning ‘that a noun is coming’. In a normal situation, swear words are used for emphasis, but Brophy and Partridge found that obscenity was so over-used among the military in the Great War that if a soldier wanted to express emotion he wouldn’t swear. ‘Thus if a sergeant said, “Get your —ing rifles!” it was understood as a matter of routine. But if he said, “Get your rifles!” there was an immediate implication of urgency and danger.’

 

Decade breakdowns of different sites’ top 100 films

Number of movies per decade in top 100 list [OC] from dataisbeautiful

Films common across each site:

  • 1940s: Citizen Kane (1941), Casablanca (1942)
  • 1950s: Singin’ in the Rain (1952), Rear Window (1954), 12 Angry Men (1957), North by Northwest (1959)
  • 1960s: Psycho (1960), Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
  • 1970s: The Godfather (1972)
  • 2010s: Toy Story 3 (2010)

Trying and failing to listen to a single album each day

Here’s a wonderful piece by James Jackson Toth that touches on obsessive listening, oversaturation by streaming, and an extreme experiment to try to go back to how things used to be:

And then one day, a revelation: It occurred to me that it was no longer just difficult to hear all the music I’d amassed, but impossible. I mean literally, mathematically impossible: I calculated that if I lived another, say, 40 years, and spent every minute of those next 40 years — that’s no sleeping, no eating — listening to my collection of music, I would be dead before I could make it all the way through. That means there are records I own today that I will definitely never hear again. It was a sobering thought. Toward the end of David Foster Wallace’s 2001 short story “Good Old Neon,” the narrator recognizes the “state in which a man realizes that everything he sees will outlast him.” With one single calculation, made on a whim, I had placed myself in this very state.

What did I do after spending a few reflective moments reckoning with this bleak logic? I bought some records. I did so not as an ironic palliative to the grim calculation I’d just made, as narrative might dictate. On the contrary, I did so thoughtlessly, compulsively, simply because it was part of my routine. Clearly, I needed to make some changes.

I concocted a bold experiment: For the entirety of 2017, I would listen to just one album a week.

 

What to read on a subway commute

Adam Sternbergh on subway novels:

So I want thrilling plots, yes — but also thrilling language. I want sentences I’ll stop to read twice. This is why standard throwaway airport thrillers don’t migrate well beneath ground. The writing may be “muscular” and “spare,” but if it’s not also “inventive” and “excellent” there’s a good chance the book will wind up abandoned on a platform bench. With a long day behind me and a wearying commute ahead of me, I don’t want to settle for distraction; I want to look forward to reading my book with the palpitating excitement of a second date with someone I’ve already fallen for. I want to miss my stop. Ideally, I’ll miss a few.

 

This couple keeps getting mystery packages from Amazon they didn’t order

A new type of scam where companies send out their products solely so that they can themselves write 5-star reviews on Amazon.

Here’s how two experts who used to work for Amazon, James Thomson and Chris McCabe, say it probably works: A seller trying to prop up a product would set up a phony e-mail account that would be used to establish an Amazon account. Then the seller would purchase merchandise with a gift card — no identifying information there — and send it to a random person, in this case the Gallivans. Then, the phantom seller, who controls the “buyer’s” e-mail account, writes glowing reviews of the product, thus boosting the Amazon ranking of the product.