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The latest season of this Netflix series spins an idealized story of the primates who were forced to be space flight test subjects

an archival photo of scientists in lab coats and scrubs surrounding a juvenile chimpanzee strapped into a rocket
an archival photo of scientists in lab coats and scrubs surrounding a juvenile chimpanzee strapped into a rocket
Ham, a three-year-old chimpanzee, prepares for a test flight with researchers at Cape Canaveral. Photo: NASA

Spoilers for Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy ahead…

The much-anticipated second season of Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy dropped at the end of July, satiating fans with the fast-paced wild ride that fans of the show were accustomed to after the first season was released in 2019.

The second season builds on the story of seven individuals with extraordinary powers who were adopted by billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves, who created the Umbrella Academy and prepared them to save the world. …


Photo of a water lily, colorized with pastel shades of pink, yellow, green, and blue.
Photo of a water lily, colorized with pastel shades of pink, yellow, green, and blue.
Credit: Ogawa Kazumasa via RawPixel

Japanese artist Ogawa Kazumasa helped perfect this stunning technique

It didn’t take long after the first daguerreotype was taken in France in 1839 for artists to invent ways to colorize their black-and-white photographs by hand. Ogawa Kazumasa was born in 1860, when hand-coloring was well established in his home country of Japan; before his death in 1929, he helped perfect the fine art technique, and also became a photographer, printer, publisher, and a pioneer in the fields of photomechanical printing and photography.

While the hand-colored aesthetic is still popular, genuine examples of hand-colored photography are hard to come by these days. …


Black-and-white woodcut print of a tortoise named Akbar, a dog named Max, and a cat named Puss. The text is in Dutch.
Black-and-white woodcut print of a tortoise named Akbar, a dog named Max, and a cat named Puss. The text is in Dutch.
‘Akbar the Tortoise, Max the Dog, and Puss the Cat’ (1916) via The Rijksmuseum/rawpixel. Illustrations: Julie de Graag

Dutch artist Julie de Graag (1877–1924) had a unique style that captures plants and animals perfectly

I first discovered the work of Dutch artist Julie de Graag while looking through public domain illustrations to illustrate Tenderly stories. I’m grateful for that chance encounter, because she’s become one of my favorite graphic artists ever since — and she might about to become one of yours.


It’s easier than you would think to tell a nice statue of a good boy apart from a nasty statue of a bad one

Photos (L-R): Nevit via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0;Brent Moore via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

A statue, or monument, is a thing that we humans like to put up in a public place to celebrate someone who we think did a very good job of something. We also use them to show other humans what sorts of behavior we think everyone should emulate. …


Vintage Veg

The 1981 book argues for a fanatical, essentialist, white veganism that the movement has thankfully started to move past

Photo: Alicia Kennedy

“Do you perceive the veal floating invisibly inside every glass of milk?” asks Mark Mathew Braunstein in the preface to the revised 1993 edition of his 1981 book Radical Vegetarianism:

A dairy cow is not killed immediately, but condemning her to cruel conditions might be worse than saving her skin. Meanwhile her calf, briefly confined, is killed. The dairy barn adjoins the veal crate. Dairy Queen is merged in discorporate partnership with Burger King. Every cup of milk is appetizer to a meal of veal. If your lips are white with milk, your hands are red with blood.

Braunstein goes…


L-R: Queen Anne Thistle (Cirsium canum), Phlomos umbrosa, and Salvia. Photos: Karl Blossfeldt via Rijksmuseum/RawPixel

Karl Blossfeldt was never formally trained as a photographer, but he adapted his own special cameras to capture plants like no one before or since

Born in 1865, Karl Blossfeldt was an artist and professor who worked in Berlin, Germany. His best known work was photography, though he received no formal training for it. These stunning photos were made using Blossfeldt’s homemade cameras which could magnify plants up to 30 times their original size, resulting in stark, sharp, architectural prints of stalks, flowers, twigs, leaves, and seeds. In his words, he hoped that these pictures could “reawaken a sense of nature, point to its teeming richness of form, and prompt the viewer to observe for himself the surrounding plant world.”

It may not be surprising…


The origin of the original plant-based meat is clouded with multiple theories

‘An Elegant Party’ (detail) by Emperor Huizong of Song (r. 1100–1125 AD) via Patricia Ebrey’s Cambridge Illustrated History of China (1999)/Wikimedia Commons

Plant-based meats are exploding on the American market. Over the past two years alone, we’ve seen a 37.1% surge in their sales, with even more dramatic growth projected for 2020. Burger King credits their best quarter in four years to their new Impossible Whopper, and Dunkin’ Donuts easily doubled expected sales for their Beyond Meat sandwich. Understandably, competitors are now scrambling to add plant-based options to their menus. In a matter of moments, meat alternatives have left the fringe and burst onto the American mainstream.

Given the sudden and ongoing nature of the way this trend has been covered in…


The Soyinfo Center’s extensive bibliographies provide a window into how humans have been eating well without meat for hundreds of years

Photo: focusonpc/Pixabay

The money behind current corporate tech meat products has made a mess of the language of many vegan staples: What is “faux meat” if it includes both tempeh and a Beyond burger? It can also be easy to lose track of just how long veganism has been part of the world: When was the first vegan cheese even developed?

Thankfully, the Soyinfo Center has provided in-depth bibliographies of how soy has been used around the world for centuries upon centuries. The Center was started in 1972 by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi, the writers of The Book of Tofu, The…


An investigation into art history’s strangest meme

Image: National Library of France / Folia Magazine

Call it the Cats (2019) Effect or an escape from our incessantly chaotic timeline, but in recent months, Medieval cats have quietly erupted in meme popularity. If you’ve ever seen one, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

“Those cat paintings always look like someone told the painter what a cat was, but didn’t bother to explain that they aren’t tiny humans who are haunting the homes of noblemen,” creative director and feline enthusiast Roger Feeley-Lussier told me.

“Medieval cats look like someone watched a blurry DVD rip of the movie ‘Cats’ and then forgot how to paint,” social media…


“Ad Astra” is about human hubris — and finding joy back here on earth

Photo: Walt Disney Studios

Numerous spoilers for “Ad Astra” ahead…

Halfway through James Gray’s pensive sci-fi / dad-feels film Ad Astra, a distress call leads Brad Pitt’s character, Major Roy McBride, and another astronaut to a small spaceship that they note has been approved for “animal research.” When they try to respond, no one answers. When they enter, no one can be seen or heard. They split up.

When Major McBride loses communication with his colleague, he makes his way back towards him. After passing by ominously shredded padded walls, he finds the man shaking strangely, the front half of his body obscured. A…

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