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An interesting set of predictions for 2021. If the world shifts its focus from solving the COVID crisis to solving the climate crisis, we might just have a chance as a species.

What can we do to help that happen?

Parole by election

John Naughton on why the US election is consuming his brain, despite the fact he lives in the UK:

Maybe it’s because there’s a possibility that on November 3 something might change in the US, whereas we in the UK are stuck with the worst government in living memory for another four years. So we’re like long-term prisoners serving time and looking enviously over the wall at our fellow-prisoners in the US who might just be paroled on November 4.

Clare Foges:

Politics can either be a parlour game of ideological point-scoring or it can be the business of meaningful change. To be the latter our politicians must avoid the temptations of descending deeper into the culture wars.

Where is the coronavirus information campaign?

This is a good point in an otherwise rather run-of-the-mill “tutting at the tutters” piece:

It is strange that we are not being bombarded with adverts along the lines of the ‘Get Ready For Brexit’ campaign about what we should be doing and are instead reliant on – often inaccurate – memes being shared over social media.

This is certainly the case in my neck of the woods, and those confusing messages are leading to tension. The lack of clear, central advice means that people are starting to form pro- and anti-online mobs around the issue of driving somewhere to exercise or walk your dogs, for example.

Spectator: The ugliness of coronavirus shaming

Supermarket delivery is being overwhelmed

Lewis Dormer:

25% of UK shoppers polled by RetailX have reduced or completely stopped shopping ‘in person at physical stores’ while 5% report a temporary increase

Online grocery deliveries are now fully booked for over two weeks in many parts of the UK. If we’re expecting whole families with symptoms to self-isolate for a fortnight, they’re going to need find ways of upping availability of delivery slots.

This is an absolutely fantastic essay on how fragile the cultural works created on the web have become, through the lens of the late Clive James’s website: Internet Amnesia.

How much more vulnerable is all that creativity locked away in the big social platforms?

This post by Euan Semple, which is an expression of moral relativism (or adjacet to it, at least), feels both elementally true to me - but also a dangerous way to think about one of the things he mentions: Facebook.

It feels, at some level, that it lets the people in charge off the hook.

Thoughts?

Whatever happened to Yahoo’s digital time capsule?

Marie Boran asks if everyone has forgotten about Yahoo’s digital time capsule?:

This was to be opened on the company’s 25th anniversary on March 2nd, 2020, but the webpage looks abandoned; according to the webpage countdown there is still a decade left until the capsule opens.

So much of 90s/00s digital culture is gone. Future historian will lament that we were so careless with the archive of the formative days of our digital culture.

Biorecycling plastics with enzymes

Carbios’ new factory will use enzymes to biorecycle plastic:

In a matter of hours, the enzymes decompose the plastic into the material’s basic building blocks, called monomers, which can then be separated, purified, and used to make new plastic that’s identical to virgin material. Later this year, the company will begin construction on its first demonstration recycling plant.

This sort of innovation could change the whole debate about plastics. Exciting stuff, if it works.

The reason to study Latin

Report: Students Who Take Latin Have Better Chance Of Summoning Demon Later In Life::

“According to our data, children who studied Latin in grade school were far more likely to contact, summon, and then raise a damned soul from the underworld,” said classics department chair Emily Greenwood, adding that students who learned Latin tended to be more adept at chanting ancient incantations, opening up portals, and comprehending Demonic screams.

My old Latin master was also head of the school Christian Union. Makes you think… 🤔😂