⇒l i n k s⇓

Earth’s Most Massive Living Organism is Dying

Pando is the most massive known living organism on the planet, although there is some dispute over if it is the largest. A below-ground mushroom, dubbed the “humongous fungus,” was discovered in Oregon and, according to research published in 2003, spans nearly 2,400 acres.”

In terms of pure weight, however, Pando tops them all, weighing more than 13 million pounds – about five times more than the largest giant sequoia tree and as much as about 45 fully grown blue whales.

All of it is intricately bound together by genetics, a shared system of roots. Energy or water gathered by one tree is shared with other trees in the network. The leaves that capture the sunlight all share the same pattern of serrations, the buds are all the same shape and they “burst” at the same time. The branches reach upward at the same angle. Wipe off the ubiquitous white coating on the aspen trunks, and the trees are the same color.

It’s by mapping these techniques that University of Michigan botanist Burton Barnes was able to trace the boundaries of the clone with remarkable accuracy four decades ago and he was the first, in a paper published in 1976, to suggest the clone may be a single organism.


Miyu Kojima Creates Miniature Replicas of Lonely Deaths

Twenty six-year old Miyu Kojima works for a company that cleans up after kodokushi (孤独死) or lonely deaths: a Japanese phenomenon of people dying alone and remaining undiscovered for a long period of time. The instances first began to be reported around 2000, and are thought to be a product of increased social isolation coupled with a greying population.

Part art therapy and part public service campaign, Kojima spends a large portion of her free time recreating detailed miniature replicas of the rooms she has cleaned. A word of caution: although recreated without the corpses, some of the replicas can be quite disturbing.

 photo by Naoko Kawamura
photo by Naoko Kawamura

My Friend Karl: A Review of “My Struggle: Book Six”

It’s hard for me to write about [Karl Ove] Knausgaard without trying to share my own diary entries, memories, landscapes — and I’m sure that in doing so I’ve whittled down my readers, and at this point, those of you still here are probably the ones most likely to enjoy Knausgaard’s writing. There’s no utilitarian or pragmatic purpose to reading such things, which goes for this review as well. Some of us a drawn to it, some say out of loneliness, some say out of “human interest” — but ultimately, the criterion is ineffable, for what writing succeeds or fails in warranting anyone’s attention is as mysterious as the impulse that produces the writing in the first place. I can only assure you that my friend Karl is a friend worth knowing, and that you will not be wasting your time if you decide to read thousands of pages of his reminiscences.


The Secret of the Pyramid

…the more I watched [Eyes Wide Shut], the more its enigmas multiplied.

Why did the actors say their lines so slowly, as if under hypnosis? What was the secret society Bill Harford stumbled into in Somerton, and what was the ritual he attended? What was the purpose of the Harfords’ little girl, who could so easily have been left out of the film? Was Alice only a frustrated wife who used erotic reveries as an escape, or did she hide a darker secret? Why was the action picked up again at the end during the Christmas holidays? Finally and more importantly, why was Kubrick so passionate, for such a long time (thirty years), about this little story of conjugal jealousy in which nothing much happens? Was there something more complex hidden in the film?

As I watched, I realized that Eyes Wide Shut had the most complex and coherent visual tapestry in Kubrick’s entire filmography. Complex, because every decoration was full of signs, graffiti, colors, and symbols that could mean anything, everything, or nothing at all.

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