Perhaps I’m just online more, but it feels like the internet has been increasingly active the past few weeks. Christine McVie passed. Kanye West continues his anti-semitic and anti-Black rampage. Highlights: Hibernation and colonization, Railroad Workers United, killer robots, Twitter, ‘Yellowstone,’ ‘Queen Sugar,’ Keke Palmer and Angela Bassett, disappearing whales, JLo can’t sing, and Anna Weynat’s bio.
The innovations in human hibernation for space travel are interesting, but I’m more interested in the obsession to use it to colonize another planet. While half of this article explores the bizarre, yet impressive, things scientists do to study hibernation—like “creep into the sleeping bears’ dens and stick thermometers in their rectums”—the other part hones in on the intense focus for this research to be used to place humans in suspended animation specifically for the purpose of space travel.
With all of the weight in food it would require to sustain astronauts to travel to Mars—some 11 tons for a 1,100-day—the only viable way might be a form of suspended animation. A kind of hibernation might not only help with food weight, but “it may help astronauts avoid some of the physical hardships of long-haul space travel. One of the great unknowns about the mission to Mars, for example, is whether humans can endure the ravages of galactic cosmic rays, the remnants of the Milky Way’s celestial violence… if human cells can be made less active, they may develop significant resistance to radiation.”
Whenever I read about this stuff, it always feels like people are preoccupied with asking can we, humanity, do this without enough time questioning should we do this.
The Democrats and Republicans voted “against the interests of railroad workers” on Friday, thwarting efforts to secure paid sick leave amongst other benefits. The RWU believes “should have the right to bargain collectively and to freely engage in strike activity if and when the members see fit and when they democratically elect to do so,” however, the government sided with big business. RWU General Secretary Jason Doering described the votes, one in congress and one in the senate, as a “one-two punch,” before noting how “politicians are happy to voice platitudes and heap praise upon us for our heroism throughout the pandemic, the essential nature of our work, the difficult and dangerous and demanding conditions of our jobs. Yet when the steel hits the rail, they back the powerful and wealthy Class One rail carriers every time.”
Yelp. Here we are. Supervisors in San Francisco have voted “to give city police the ability to use potentially lethal, remote-controlled robots in emergency situations.” While the police department “said it does not have pre-armed robots and has no plans to arm robots with guns,” they have the authority to “deploy robots equipped with explosive charges “‘to contact, incapacitate, or disorient violent, armed, or dangerous suspect.’” “Explosive charges” seems armed to me. This feels like a bad idea.
Twitter continues to digress under Elon Musk’s leadership. A supposed proponent of “free speech”, Musk has reinstated the accounts of far-right users and people spreading hate speech and misinformation that were previously suspended all while suspending left-wing accounts. Musk is getting some of his information from right-wing conspiracy theories Andy Ngo, who he invited to report accounts directly to him in a public exchange.
Yellowstone has been all over my timeline this week! I’d heard of the show a few years ago, but never had much interest in watching until it was seemingly escapable. Over the past week, I’ve watched the first two and a half seasons of the western soap opera where “Kevin Costner plays the patriarch of the Dutton family, and their story and sprawling ranch is one of television’s biggest current success stories.” I did this just so I would have enough context to read some of the pop cultural analysis which, as Tressie McMillian Cottom explains in this episode, “it was like [Yellowstone] almost didn’t exist in my pop culture-obsessed professional world, Twitter, other social media, academics, writers, journalists,” despite it being incredibly popular.
The series has come under scrutiny for glorifying the west, and is known as the “red-state Game of Thrones,” something the show’s creator contests, as it discusses corporate greed, land ownership, and the displacement of Native Americans. But, mostly, “It talks about displacing Natives and gentrifying the West by encouraging people to move out here, displace Natives and gentrify the West. That’s what I call dedication.” One of my friends that grew up in Montana refuses to watch the show, and now I understand why.
Last Tuesday, Queen Sugar aired its final episode. Created by Ava DuVernay, the drama series premiered on the Oprah WInfrey Network in 2016 and has been “lauded for making good on DuVernay’s promise to hire only women directors for the 89 episodes” the show ran. Since it’s premiere, “the series has been filmed on-location; former slave plantations in Vacherie, 100-year-old oak trees in City Park and historic shotgun houses in the Ninth Ward have all been characters alongside Nova Bordelon and her siblings.” The series also used and promoted local and diverse talent for its production and “opened the door” for the New Orleans film industry.
I’m still fully in my Keke Palmer fan phase—if it will ever end—and this interview is a long time coming. 16 years after working together on Akeelah and the Bee Palmer, who played the titular character, and her onscreen mother, Angela Bassett reunited! The interview starts with Palmer doing her famous impression of Bassett from The Jacksons: An American Dream. There is so much care, love, and respect between these two actors throughout the interview—it is obvious how much of an impression Bassett has made on Keke since before they even worked together, and how proud Bassett is of the person Keke and Oscar nominated actress she has grown into.
Growing up I wanted to be a marine biologist and study beluga whales. I never wanted to study the ones in Alaska, however, as I was always fascinated by the population in the St. Lawrence estuary.
In northwest Alaska, belugas whales are disappearing. Over the past 50 years, “even after hunting has ceased in some places, stresses such as climate change, increased ship traffic, and chemical pollutants are a gathering storm that threatens to finish the job.” Belugas are incredibly social creatures, and pass knowledge and cultural traditions through generations. “With climate change and other human activities reshaping the world at an alarming rate, belugas will likely have to rely on innovative cultural practices to adapt — genetic adaptation is simply too slow to keep up.”
The declining population of whales is also impacting the Indegenous cultures that have survived on the animals for thousands of years—there simply are not enough to hunt anymore. “Continuing to hunt belugas may hurt the whales’ chance of rebounding, but if Indigenous groups give up the practice, they could lose knowledge that’s helped sustain them in the Arctic.”
This audio clip of JLo rehearsing for a Grammy Award show tribute to Whintey Houston has been circulating online. Now, I don’t know who had the idea to let JLo pay homage to Whitney in the first place, but this clip is painful. As @kneezurr said “THIS IS A HATE CRIME AGAINST MY EARS.” TBH, I don’t know if she is actually going to perform at the Grammys. Either way, she sounds horrible, and there are plenty of other singers—Black singers—that have the talent, the skill, and the range to pay homage and respect Whitney’s legacy. JLo isn’t it.
Anna Weyant has been all over the New York art world this season. Her debut with Gagosian opened this fall at their Upper East Side space to lackluster reviews with Alex Greenberger of ARTnews writing “Weyant’s Gagosian debut is a sedate affair. It’s also, for the most part, a rather boring one—neither the grand show Gagosian has been hyping nor the flop people jeering from the sidelines were awaiting. Setting aside the gossip about romantic entanglements and ‘revenge consignments,’ this is just another market-ready figurative painting show in New York by a young painter.” The paintings are rather mid.
In addition to the show, Weyant, who is under 30, also churned the art world gossip mill due to her personal relationship with Larry Gagosian, owner of Gagosian Gallery. Much of the comments about their relationship are tinged with misogyny—something Weyant addressed in her brief bio posted here. There wasn’t a source commented for this bio, so I’m not sure where it is from, but it is funny.