This Week In Culture: July 25–31, 2020

July 30, 2020
Stories about solving an ancient mystery, a new Mars mission to look for signs of life, and birds that almost never land all contributed words to this week's list of vocabulary from the sports, culture, and tech worlds.
Baseball introduced some new rules for this shortened season, and after some initial skepticism, many critics and fans have come around and say that they make games more exciting. Among other changes, including strict safety protocols, games that go into extra innings will now put a player on second base in each half of the extra innings.
The new rules, introduced temporarily for this anomalous season, work.
ESPN (July 30, 2020)
The Emmy nominations were announced, and the nominees are notably more diverse than in previous years. TV critics say that this shows an effort on the part of the industry to be more inclusive. Netflix broke HBO's previous record of 137 nominations with an impressive 160. HBO's Watchmen got the most of any individual show with 26.
To anyone rooting for everybody Black, this may feel like a coup.
Salon (July 28, 2020)
The source of the huge stones of Stonehenge, known as sarsens, has finally been identified. Using advanced imaging technology called x-ray fluorescence spectrometry and chemical analysis of a small sample taken from one of the stones, researchers were able to identify trace minerals that they then matched to a quarry site 25 km (15.5 mi) north of the monument. The mystery of how people 4500 years ago were able to move rocks weighing 20 metric tons (44,000 lbs.) each remains unsolved.
Now researchers have resolved the mystery: 50 of the 52 extant sarsens at Stonehenge came from the West Woods site in the English county of Wiltshire, located 25 kilometers to the north of Stonehenge.
Scientific American (July 30, 2020)
Netflix continues to use video games as source material for upcoming shows. The Witcher was so popular that it's already spawned two spinoffs, and producers are working on two seasons of a Splinter Cell series based on the video game inspired by Tom Clancy books. A franchise is a right, a licensing agreement to sell something created by someone else, whether fast food or TV shows.
The success spurred a prequel series and an animated spinoff — a strategy seemingly in line with Sarandos’ view of franchise building at Netflix.
The Verge (July 30, 2020)
Triller, a video app backed by Ryan Kavanaugh and Snoop Dogg's Proxima Media, is suing TikTok for using their Green Screen Video technology. The feature allows users to multiply themselves against a background, and Triller says TikTok is using it illegally. Infringere is Latin for "to break," to injure," or "to damage."
Triller is asking the court for a judgment that TikTok infringed its patent, an injunction barring the company against further infringement and damages plus attorneys' fees.
Hollywood Reporter (July 30, 2020)
NASA's Perseverance Mars mission took off and is en route to the red planet. Two other countries, China and the United Arab Emirates, also took advantage of the brief launch window when the two planets are at their closest. The flawless launch was made even more impressive by the fact that all the NASA workers had to observe strict social distancing throughout the preparations and launch.
About an hour into the flight, controllers applauded, pumped their fists and exchanged air hugs and pantomimed high-fives when the rocket flawlessly broke out of orbit around the Earth and began hurtling toward Mars.
AP (July 30, 2020)
Malik Abdul Basit, known as Malik B, was a founding member of the Legendary Roots Crew. He died at the age of 47. The Roots helped to revitalize hip-hop with their combination of musicianship — especially the live drumming of Questlove — and clever, politically aware lyrics. Sympathy and memories poured out from people all over the music industry, and especially in Philadelphia, where the group was from.
Black Thought reminisced on how they “created a lane together where there was none” in a moving Instagram post.
Vibe (July 29, 2020)
The Perseverance rover is aimed at a particular part of Mars: the site of an ancient river delta at the edge of a huge lake. Scientists hope that by drilling and sampling various rocks and soils as it travels up the dried river bed that Perseverance may be able to find some definitive proof that Mars had life when the surface was warmer and wetter than it is now. Such life, if it existed, would have most likely been single-celled organisms like Earth had as long as 4 billion years ago.
The image, taken by NASA’s Odyssey orbiter, showed a sinuous dried-up river channel leading into one side of the crater.
New York Times (July 28, 2020)
Swifts are incredible birds. If they're not sitting on their eggs or feeding their young, they're flying, and when a chick takes flight for the first time it stays in the air until it's an adult — two or three years! At night, they sleep with half their brains at a time so they can keep flying. At dawn and dusk, they fly up as high as they can, in huge groups, to observe what weather might be coming their way. If you like birds, this article is worth a read.
The bird was suffused with a kind of seriousness very akin to holiness.
New York Times (July 29, 2020)
A different sort of Swift is doing some high flying of her own. Taylor Swift's new record Folklore is proving to be a huge hit, with all sixteen of its tracks in the top 40 of Rolling Stone's Top 100 songs. Her song Cardigan is number one, with over 21 million streams so far, and several others are right below it on the chart.
The chart does not include passive listening like terrestrial radio or digital radio.
Rolling Stone (July 30, 2020)

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