Welcome to the wonderfully twisted realm of sexual organs.
This is a world where penises may double as weapons during violent combat, or as lassos to snag a mate - often against her will.
It’s a world where semen can exert powerful mind control over a female, and vaginas can act to deliberately help or hinder the age-old race of sperm to egg.
And it’s a world so full of carnal conflicts of interest and deception that only now are biologists getting to grips with all of its ins and outs, including an understanding of why human sex may be about pleasure rather than pain.
This is where we learn that after mating in the air, a drone honeybee flies away but leaves his penis behind; flatworms are hermaphrodites that engage in penis fencing to see who’ll be the father and who’ll be the mother; and that squids don’t “attempt to inseminate humans - although with at least 16 such cases on the medical books the behavior is more common than one might think.”
In An American Odyssey, published by Taschen, you can now see striking color photographs of the U.S. that predated autochrome photography by almost 20 years.
All of the postcard images are curated from the private collection of Marc Walter, the early results of a photolithographic process — something Wired dubbed “what Instagram would have looked like in the 1800s” because of the surreal, dreamlike quality of the photochroms’ colorings.
Photochrom photographers would start the process by coating a printing plate with a light-sensitive emulsion and then exposing a glass plate photo negative onto it. Unlike modern four-color printing process that can represent millions of colors by overlapping tiny dots of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink, the inks mixed for Photochroms were mixed by hand in an attempt to perfectly match the yellow-green sunblasted scrub brush that surrounds the Grand Canyon or the aquamarine ocean water of the Bahamas. The photographers would erase the entire plate except for the area reserved for that specific color and make 10-15 more plates to fill out the composition. Photographic details were preserved, but an emotive, if slightly artificial, range of color was added.
Bonus: Learn more about the coloring process, history, and more over at the helpful FAQ by Taschen.
Images: “A Monday Washing, New York” and the cover of the new volume by Marc Walter and Sabine Arqué, a collection that spans from 1888-1924 from the Detroit Photographic Company, courtesy of Taschen books.
I have worked in high-risk environments with some frequency in my career, but instead of a flak jacket and helmet, this time I brought anticontamination suits, including coveralls, masks, goggles, rubber gloves and boot covers, all of which are disposable after a single use in places like Ebola isolation wards. I stocked up on antiseptic gel, wipes and sprays. I also brought rubber boots, which were lent to me by my father-in-law, a retired journalist who is now a fisherman. He said I could keep them.
Here in Liberia, I wash my hands in chlorinated water at the entrance to most buildings, dozens of times a day, whether I have gloves on or not. Because Ebola is not airborne but is rather transmitted through bodily fluids, it’s important not to touch your face after being in contaminated areas. We tend to touch our faces many times per day without realizing it. I’m trying hard to stay safe.
Bonus: Yesterday, NPR interviewed Moore about an incident in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, where protestors attacked a quarantine center and forced its patients to leave the facility. Moore tells NPR that “a fair number of people… believe that the Ebola virus and the epidemic is a hoax, that it’s not real after all, and it’s a way for the Liberian government to bring in foreign money.”
Image: John Moore wears his “personal protective equipment” before joining a Liberian burial team that was removing the body of an Ebola victim from her home, via the Daily Mail. The Mail also has a gallery of Moore’s work. Select to embiggen.
It was hot and dry for early spring, but one of the grave-diggers wore a pin-striped suit while he and the others dug four narrow, waist-deep graves side by side. The earth was damp and brown beneath Afghanistan’s powdery surface. The smell was putrid - like a decaying animal carcass on the side of road, but far worse.
With no more than disposable surgical masks, Ahmad‘s drive through Kabul’s notorious morning traffic must have been horrendous. The thought of how his cargo came to be in his possession wears on him too.
He rarely discusses his work with friends or family - burying the unwanted, the paupers and the terrorists of Kabul. He has buried dozens of Taliban but is never told from which attack his corpses come.
Sidenote: The piece is reminiscent—literally and in feeling—of (the now classic j-school textbook piece) It’s An Honor by Jimmy Breslin. At the time of JFK’s assassination, Breslin stepped outside the media frenzy and set a precedent for covering a big story in a simple, powerful, unconventional way: by writing about the man who would prepare the president’s grave.
Image:Grave diggers cool down and drink tea after their work is done (by Andrew Quilty, via SMH)
Image: Merit Prize Winner, A Well Earned Rest, by Evan Cole, who writes, “This photo of Moussa Macher, our Tuareg guide, was taken at the summit of Tin-Merzouga, the largest dune (or erg) in the Tadrat region of the Sahara desert in southern Algeria. Moussa rested while waiting for us to finish our 45-minute struggle to the top.” Select to embiggen.
When Europe’s armies first marched to war in 1914, some were still carrying lances on horseback. By the end of the war, rapid-fire guns, aerial bombardment, armored vehicle attacks, and chemical weapon deployments were commonplace. Any romantic notion of warfare was bluntly shoved aside by the advent of chlorine gas, massive explosive shells that could have been fired from more than 20 miles away, and machine guns that spat out bullets like firehoses. Each side did its best to build on existing technology, or invent new methods, hoping to gain any advantage over the enemy. Massive listening devices gave them ears in the sky, armored vehicles made them impervious to small arms fire, tanks could (most of the time) cruise right over barbed wire and trenches, telephones and heliographs let them speak across vast distances, and airplanes gave them new platforms to rain death on each other from above. New scientific work resulted in more lethal explosives, new tactics made old offensive methods obsolete, and mass-produced killing machines made soldiers both more powerful and more vulnerable.
Today marks the hundredth anniversary of the start of World War I. Earlier this year, The Atlantic ran a 10-part series of photo essays on different aspects of the war.
Image: “American troops using a newly-developed acoustic locator, mounted on a wheeled platform. The large horns amplified distant sounds, monitored through headphones worn by a crew member, who could direct the platform to move and pinpoint distant enemy aircraft.” Via The Atlantic. Select to embiggen.
Drone Footage: Washington State Wildfire Aftermath
The footage above is from the Carlton Complex Fire in north-central Washington that as of yesterday had burned down 200 homes and was only 16% contained. The wildfires are the largest in state history.
Q: Today you saw the children lying on the beach. What was it like to see this but be unable to help?
Tyler Hicks: It was clear that these children were beyond help. I was very close to three of the four children who were killed and it was clear that they had been killed instantly. Had there been some way to help them I certainly would have. Because Gaza is so small ambulance crews arrive almost immediately when something happens.
Image: A civilian carries one of four Palestinian cousins killed by an Israeli air strike while playing on a beach in Gaza, by Tyler Hicks via The New York Times. Read the Times’ interview with Hicks about reporting from Gaza. Select to embiggen.
01: Ivan Eder (top) Royal Observatory… says: Situated 7500 light years away in the ‘W’-shaped constellation of Cassiopeia, the Heart Nebula is a vast region of glowing gas, energized by a cluster of young stars at its centre. The image depicts the central region, where dust clouds are being eroded and moulded into rugged shapes by the searing cosmic radiation.
02: Anneliese Possberg Royal Observatory… says: The spectacular Northern Lights pictured unfolding over a fjord, in Skjervøy, Troms, Norway. The vibrant colours are produced at various altitudes by different atmospheric gases, with blue light emitted by nitrogen and green by oxygen. Red light can be produced by both gases, while purples, pinks and yellows occur where the various colours mix and intersect.
03: Mark Hanson Royal Observatory… says: This colourful starscape taken from Rancho Hidalgo, New Mexico, USA reveals the searing heat of the Crescent Nebula glowing in a whirl of red and blue. The emission nebula is a colossal shell of material ejected from a powerful but short-lived Wolf-Rayet star (WR 136), seen close to the image centre. Ultraviolet radiation and stellar wind now heats the swelling cloud, causing it to glow.
How Far We’ve Come: Some Old-Timey Digital Cameras
1975 (top): Kodak creates the world’s first digital camera. Resolution is .01 megapixels. That’s 100x100 pixels for those keeping track at home.
1991 (left): Nikon body meets Kodak digital sensors in the Kodak Digital Camera System. Resolution’s now up to 1524x 1012 pixels. Price tag starts at $20,000 (approximately $33,700 when adjusted for inflation).
1997 and 2000 (right): Sony releases two cameras. The one on the left shoots at .3 megapixels (640x480) and saves to a 3.5” floppy disc. The one on the right shoots at 1.92 megapixels (1600x1200) and saves to mini CD-R discs.