Queen Victoria is not amused

It’s her weekend and are we planting our gardens without fear they’ll freeze overnight? Are we opening our cottages, swatting the blackflies, gassing up at Tim Horton’s?  Well, we are more than last year when we were all locked up with no place to go. But compared to 2019 and every other year we’ve been alive, no, we’re not.

So here’s some pre-summer solace for this on-again, off-again weekend.

1. How companies are learning to read your mind. Algorithms can now recognize good and bad writing and teach themselves to create the former. Facial recognition and voice recognition are much more advanced than even a year ago. But what about emotion recognition? I predict the same clunky starts, followed by lightning progress. Check out this wonderful tool from The Financial Times that reads what you’re thinking by scanning your face.

2. No meeting, no meat. Barbeque and beachfire season starts this weekend in Canada. So if you like grilling and don’t like grilling meat, here are 63 best recipes for grilled vegetables from Epicurious.

3. Why don’t movie stars do their own stunts any more? Here, an aging Buster Keaton recounts some of his amazing stunts. As one commenter said: “There’s not an actor today that could do these stunts. Not physically, mentally and most of all legally.”

4. The art of saying “No.” It takes nerve to say what you really mean, especially when you’re invited somewhere and don’t want to go. As Harold Pinter wrote to Tom Stoppard in 2001: “Thank you for your invitation to host a fundraising dinner in the private room of a top London restaurant. I would rather die.” Check out these other far-too-frank replies we all wish we could have written.

In the same ilk is writing a letter to the boss of an organization that’s let you down. Here, Sean Usher complains to Richard Branson about the service on a VirginAir flight which made him ask: “What have I done to deserve this?”

It being British and all, of course there’s even a performance series called Letters Live.

5. Where were you on May 5, 1821? That was the first day for a new British newspaper called The Manchester Guardian. Now, 200 years later, The Guardian is one of the most esteemed, successful newspapers in the world – with an odd business model. No paywalls or compulsory subscription. It’s pay what you want. Seems people will pay for quality, even when they don’t have to. Here’s the first edition. And here’s today’s.

6. Don’t you hate bad dubbing? When Tom Hanks’ lips don’t synch with what he’s saying? Especially in French? Check out how AI changes an actor’s lips so that “Life is like a box of chocolates” really does sound like “La vie, c’est comme une boîte de chocolat.”

7. Want to know if you’re burnt-out? The Maslach Burnout Inventory is an assessment tool for our times, even though it was created in 1981. “Burnout” can mean anything these days, but this definition may speak to you: “Burnout occurs when passionate, committed people become deeply disillusioned with a job or career from which they have previously derived much of their identity and meaning.” It takes just 10 minutes to complete the Maslach Inventory. But to interpret it will cost you $15.

8. Meet the revolutionary, Suzanne Simard. She’s a professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia, and her life and work were an inspiration for Richard Powers’s 2018 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Overstory. Her new book, Finding the Mother Tree, claims that forests are like villages whose members take care of each other – in ways that old science never predicted. A thrilling rewriting of what it means to walk in the woods.

9. We are tiny specks in the universe. Just how insignificant is much clearer after you watch this experiment constructed in the vast Nevada desert by two curious friends.

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