Omnium Gatherum: 22sept2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for September 22, 2021

Here’s a variety of notable things I’ve recently found that you may also be interested in checking out:

  • Man-Eaters: The Cursed #3 (of 5) by Chelsea Cain and Lia Miternique—”‘WITCHCRAFT FOR CHILDREN’. This book is required reading for all young witches. It is routinely updated with the latest frog self-defense techniques. Other topics include the history of Craft Camp, potion-making, fairy identification, the rules of Pickleball, and necromancy. Now with spell cards! Clip and save! Please bring this book with you to camp.”
  • Mutual Aid: An Illuminated Factor of Evolution [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Peter Kropotkin, lllo. by N.O. Bonzo, introduction by David Graeber & Andrej Grubacic, foreword by Ruth Kinna, preface by GATS, afterword by Allan Antliff—”One hundred years after his death, Peter Kropotkin is still one of the most inspirational figures of the anarchist movement. It is often forgotten that Kropotkin was also a world-renowned geographer whose seminal critique of the hypothesis of competition promoted by Social Darwinism helped revolutionize modern evolutionary theory. An admirer of Darwin, he used his observations of life in Siberia as the basis for his 1902 collection of essays Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution. Kropotkin demonstrated that mutually beneficial cooperation and reciprocity—in both individuals and as a species—plays a far more important role in the animal kingdom and human societies than does individualized competitive struggle. Kropotkin carefully crafted his theory making the science accessible. His account of nature rejected Rousseau’s romantic depictions and ethical socialist ideas that cooperation was motivated by the notion of “universal love.” His understanding of the dynamics of social evolution shows us that the power of cooperation—whether it is bison defending themselves against a predator or workers unionizing against their boss. His message is clear: solidarity is strength! Every page of this new edition of Mutual Aid has been beautifully illustrated by one of anarchism’s most celebrated current artists, N.O. Bonzo. The reader will also enjoy original artwork by GATS and insightful commentary by David Graeber, Ruth Kinna, Andrej Grubacic, and Allan Antliff.”
  • You Alive Home Yet? [Amazon, Publisher] by Daniel Beauregard. Ebook is a gratis download from the publisher.
  • The Dust of Rhll [Amazon] by J. F. Meskimen—A dark sword-and-sorcery adventure for adults featuring cover artwork by the legendary Erol Otus, The Dust of Rhll is J. F. Meskimen’s first novel. Told from the perspectives of an ensemble of sinister and desperate characters — an assassin returning from his retirement as a medical college instructor; a young outlaw who fancies himself a lord; a master breeder and smuggler of narcotic beetles; a jaded mercenary captain; and more — it is the story of an expedition to a destroyed city to retrieve a relic on behalf of a mad emperor. Readers of Joe Abercrombie, N. K. Jemisin, George R. R. Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, and others who portray morally ambiguous or rotten characters dealing with an alien, corrupt, and often terrifying world will likely enjoy this chilling and wickedly funny debut from J. F. Meskimen.”
  • Ramses the Damned: The Reign of Osiris [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Anne Rice and Christopher Rice, book 3 in the series, due Feb 2022—”The gilded adventures of Ramses the Damned, iconic creation of the legendary Anne Rice, continue in this breathtakingly suspenseful tale of a titanic supernatural power unleashed on the eve of war. A pharaoh made immortal by a mysterious and powerful elixir, Ramses the Great became counselor and lover to some of Egypt’s greatest and most powerful rulers before he was awakened from centuries of slumber to the mystifying and dazzling world of Edwardian England. Having vanquished foes both human and supernatural, he’s found love with the beautiful heiress Julie Stratford, daughter of Lawrence Stratford, the slain archeologist who discovered his tomb. Now, with the outbreak of a world war looming, Ramses and those immortals brought forth from the mists of history by his resurrection will face their greatest test yet. Russian assassins bearing weapons of incredible power have assembled under one command: all those who loved Lawrence Stratford must die. From the glowing jewels at their necks comes an incredible power: the power to bring statues to life. As Ramses and his allies, including the immortal queens Cleopatra and Bektaten, gather together to battle these threats, Ramses reveals that the great weapon may have roots in an ancient Egyptian ritual designed to render pharaohs humble before Osiris, the god of the underworld. The resulting journey will take them across storm-tossed seas and into the forests of northern Russia, where they will confront a terrifying collision of tortured political ambitions and religious fervor held in thrall to a Godlike power. But the true answers they seek will lie beyond the border between life and death, within realms that defy the imagination of even an immortal such as Ramses the Great. In Ramses the Damned: The Reign of Osiris, Anne Rice, revered and beloved storyteller (queen of gothic lit, the maestro of the monstrous and the diva of the devious –The Philadelphia Inquirer), in collaboration with her son, acclaimed bestselling novelist Christopher Rice (a magician; a master –Peter Straub), bring us another thrilling, seductive tale of high adventure, romance, history, and suspense.”
  • Tweet thread—”It’s a heritage library takeover here today. Our rare books librarian was back onsite for the first time since COVID restrictions started. It’s fair to say she was quite excited… She’ll be sharing some of the things she saw in this thread.”
  • The Afterlives of E.M. Forster. For decades, Forster could not publish his novel of gay love, ‘Maurice.’ Its importance in his work and to the writers he nurtured is only just becoming clear.”—”William di Canzio’s Alec arrived in the mail looking like an English novel set in Italy, circa 1960: a black-and-white illustration of a handsome young man’s face framed by a gray square, his gaze on something just out of sight, his lips parted as if he is about to say something, or has just said something. The Alec of the title is Alec Scudder, a young man famous to us—if we know him at all—as the final love interest in Maurice, E.M. Forster’s posthumous novel of gay life, begun in 1913, published in 1971, 47 years after his last previous novel. Di Canzio promises us Alec’s side of this story.” About Alec [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by William di Canzio—”William di Canzio’s Alec, inspired by Maurice, E. M. Forster’s secret novel of a happy same-sex love affair, tells the story of Alec Scudder, the gamekeeper Maurice Hall falls in love with in Forster’s classic, published only after the author’s death. Di Canzio follows their story past the end of Maurice to the front lines of battle in World War I and beyond. Forster, who tried to write an epilogue about the future of his characters, was stymied by the radical change that the Great War brought to their world. With the hindsight of a century, di Canzio imagines a future for them and a past for Alec—a young villager possessed of remarkable passion and self-knowledge. Alec continues Forster’s project of telling stories that are part of ‘a great unrecorded history.’ Di Canzio’s debut novel is a love story of epic proportions, at once classic and boldly new.”
  • The world’s languages may be so similar because of how humans talk about language“—”he languages of the world are all unique, but also share important similarities. These mostly lie in the grammatical elements each of the approximately 7000 human languages contain, the word parts and rules that speakers can use to build a sentence. Traditionally, linguists either assume that the explanation for these similarities is that all people are born with a blueprint for these grammatical categories in their genetics or that they emerge from other cognitive capacities (for example, all people have an understanding of time so human languages can develop past tense or future tense). A problem with these accounts is that they can only explain part of the grammatical similarities of the world’s languages and also that they do not explain where grammar came from. In a new paper recently published in Frontiers in Communication, linguists Stef Spronck and Daniela Casartelli from the University of Helsinki propose a radical new theory: these grammatical similarities are due to the way in which humans talk about language. The authors noted that in many languages sentences that reflect people’s speech or thought, known as ‘reported speech’, can develop new meanings that closely resemble grammatical categories. This means that the sentence ‘He said: “I will go”‘ in some languages can become the main way to express meanings such as ‘He was about to go’, ‘He might go’, ‘As for him, he will go’. Each of these interpretations have no clear connection with the meaning of reported speech, but use a sentence structure that derives from reported speech. The meanings associated with these non-speech interpretations of reported speech correspond to common grammatical categories in the languages of the world, which linguists call ‘aspect’, ‘modality’, ‘topic’ and others.” “”Humans talk about other people’s thoughts and statements all the time, from the moment we first learn to speak. It determines our cultures, the way we see the world and who we trust. A phenomenon that is so fundamental to human existence likely leaves its trace on languages and our study shows that this goes far beyond simple sentences of reported speech. We propose that in the evolution of language talking about language was a way of forming some of the first complex language structures and that from these structures new types of grammar could develop.”
  • Ancient spider caring for her offspring is trapped in 99 million-year-old amber“—”Nothing gets between a fiercely protective mother spider and her children. Dripping tree resin trapped adult female spiders and baby spiderlings about 99 million years ago, forever showcasing the maternal care exhibited by these arthropods, according to new research.”
  • From the Wrong Hole dept: “Estudo mostra que sexo ajuda a desentupir o nariz.” (Study shows that sex helps to unclog the nose)
  • From the Sodom and Gomorrah dept: “Evidence that a cosmic impact destroyed ancient city in the Jordan Valley.” Also “A Tunguska sized airburst destroyed Tall el-Hammam a Middle Bronze Age city in the Jordan Valley near the Dead Sea“—”We present evidence that in ~ 1650 BCE (~ 3600 years ago), a cosmic airburst destroyed Tall el-Hammam, a Middle-Bronze-Age city in the southern Jordan Valley northeast of the Dead Sea. The proposed airburst was larger than the 1908 explosion over Tunguska, Russia, where a ~ 50-m-wide bolide detonated with ~ 1000× more energy than the Hiroshima atomic bomb. A city-wide ~ 1.5-m-thick carbon-and-ash-rich destruction layer contains peak concentrations of shocked quartz (~ 5–10 GPa); melted pottery and mudbricks; diamond-like carbon; soot; Fe- and Si-rich spherules; CaCO3 spherules from melted plaster; and melted platinum, iridium, nickel, gold, silver, zircon, chromite, and quartz. Heating experiments indicate temperatures exceeded 2000 °C. Amid city-side devastation, the airburst demolished 12+ m of the 4-to-5-story palace complex and the massive 4-m-thick mudbrick rampart, while causing extreme disarticulation and skeletal fragmentation in nearby humans. An airburst-related influx of salt (~ 4 wt.%) produced hypersalinity, inhibited agriculture, and caused a ~ 300–600-year-long abandonment of ~ 120 regional settlements within a > 25-km radius. Tall el-Hammam may be the second oldest city/town destroyed by a cosmic airburst/impact, after Abu Hureyra, Syria, and possibly the earliest site with an oral tradition that was written down (Genesis). Tunguska-scale airbursts can devastate entire cities/regions and thus, pose a severe modern-day hazard.”rd.”
  • Tumblr just released Post+ which is a feature for subscription posts that can be included alongside regular tumbloging. They say: “Introducing a flexible subscription tool like none other…Post+. Imagine posting your work to a community that supports you and earning a bit of $$ with your unique GIF-illustration-poem-shitposts.” Well, for as long as it lasts, I suppose: “Tumblr’s Post+ Program May Get the Site Taken Down. The new, widely-hated beta feature may cause the legal death of the entire site.” Also “Is Tumblr About to Get All of Its Creators Sued? The platform wants to help users make money, but the legal system might have other plans for them.” Also “Finally, now you can pay for Tumblr posts with Tumblr Post+. Just what everyone has been asking for.”
  • Mark Zuckerberg personally approved a project that pushed pro-Facebook stories into the news feeds of the platform’s users, report says. Mark Zuckerberg approved promoting pro-Facebook stories in users’ news feeds, NYT reported Tuesday. The proposed “Project Amplify” involved running ads and pushing positive news stories about Facebook. Facebook’s overall strategy has shifted to become less apologetic in recent months.”
  • Why Facebook Won’t Stop Pushing Propaganda. Vaccine disinformation. The Big Lie. The hate poisoning your community. It all goes back to Mark Zuckerberg’s business model.”—”Facebook, this episode showed, used its monopolistic power to boost and suppress content in a partisan political fashion…In truth, Facebook has consistently tweaked its practices to favor conservatives.”
  • ‘Don’t be evil’: Google’s iconic mantra comes into question at labor trial. The ethos has set Google apart from other companies for decades. It’s under the spotlight again.”—”The brief exhortation, which Google has deemphasized in recent years, is now a focal point in an NLRB complaint against the company that alleges the tech giant wrongly fired five employees for their labor activism.”
  • Tweet thread—”Okay y’all, I promised you a thread on the most bizarre case of image repair/Googlewashing/PR cleanup I’ve ever encountered, so buckle up. Enjoy the tale of Harry Potter and the PR Pastor Disaster. 1/” “We started to piece together that these people were attempting to plant articles in their search results that portrayed them positively. That raised the chilling question: *What were they trying to hide?* We started Googling the names of all the subjects, and … 13/” “the results were far more disturbing than we ever could have imagined… 14/”
  • 🤔 “‘Secret office’ mansion owned by Larry Page burns down.”
  • Florida’s new surgeon general issues rule ending required school quarantines, says parents will decide“—”Florida parents can now decide if their children should quarantine or stay in school after exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, according to an emergency rule the state’s new surgeon general signed Wednesday, the day after he was tapped for the job. The new rule wipes out a previous one that required students to quarantine off-campus at least four days after exposure to someone with the virus. It does not alter Florida’s ban against mask mandates, however, as it reiterates the previous order’s requirement that parents be able to opt-out their children from wearing face coverings.”
  • The pandemic’s true death toll. Our daily estimate of excess deaths around the world.”
  • Tweet—”One in ten nursing home residents has died of COVID. **ONE IN TEN**. Those people did not have to die. They died because our society had already written them off as dead the day they entered a nursing home.”
  • Tweet—”THIS! Science writer @anniemurphypaul backs up the idea by research psychologist @JudithDanovitch that gestures are a huge part of thinking AND communication. Wearing masks in schools could teach kids how to use gestures more effectively. #ExtendedMind”. See “Actually, Wearing a Mask Can Help Your Child Learn.”
  • It’s shocking to see so many leftwingers lured to the far right by conspiracy theories. It’s not just anti-vaxxers. The themes of resisting power and regaining control of our lives have been cynically repurposed.”
  • Conspirituality Will Never End. Garbage platforms are as infinite as integrity and resilience are precious.”—”He’s got a hundred million reasons from Spotify for never having to doubt himself. When it comes to COVID, his vaccine skepticism, and his parade of Ivermectin-hawking guests, he is literally paid to parasitize and existential crisis, and convert it into jokey, bro-science content that degrades public health.”
  • Tweet—”It took years — eight years and counting in exile — for me to realize that I was missing the point: we talk about conspiracy theories in order to avoid talking about conspiracy practices, which are often too daunting, too threatening, too total.” See: “Conspiracy: Theory and Practice. Toward a Taxonomy of Conspiracies.”—”This, in sum, is our problem: the truest conspiracies meet with the least opposition. Or to put it another way, conspiracy practices — the methods by which true conspiracies such as gerrymandering, or the debt industry, or mass surveillance are realized — are almost always overshadowed by conspiracy theories: those malevolent falsehoods that in aggregate can erode civic confidence in the existence of anything certain or verifiable.”
  • Lawsuits Filed Against Texas Doctor Could Be Best Tests of Abortion Law. Legal experts said two lawsuits filed this week might test the constitutionality of the Texas law more than federal challenges by abortion providers and the Justice Department.” Twitter—”Texas anti-abortion leader says SB 8 was not intended for lawsuits to ever be filed, just put the fear of liability into providers” Horrible, if true. But, also, was it really, tho? I doubt the idea of getting a case to this current Supreme Court never crossed somebody’s mind.
  • 710 Indigenous people, mostly girls, were reported missing over the past decade in Wyoming, the same state where Gabby Petito reportedly disappeared.” Also “Authorities believe they have found the remains of Gabby Petito near Grand Teton National Park.” Tweet—”The Difference Broken heart Is Deep” with art by Soni Lopez-Chavez.
  • The Horrifying Legal Blueprint for Trump’s War on Democracy. Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, in their new book, ‘Peril,’ uncover a memo by Republican lawyer John Eastman arguing for Mike Pence to use the Electoral Count Act to disqualify electoral votes that Trump lost and give him a second term.” About Peril [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa—”The transition from President Donald J. Trump to President Joseph R. Biden Jr. stands as one of the most dangerous periods in American history. But as # 1 internationally bestselling author Bob Woodward and acclaimed reporter Robert Costa reveal for the first time, it was far more than just a domestic political crisis. Woodward and Costa interviewed more than 200 people at the center of the turmoil, resulting in more than 6,000 pages of transcripts—and a spellbinding and definitive portrait of a nation on the brink. This classic study of Washington takes readers deep inside the Trump White House, the Biden White House, the 2020 campaign, and the Pentagon and Congress, with vivid, eyewitness accounts of what really happened. Peril is supplemented throughout with never-before-seen material from secret orders, transcripts of confidential calls, diaries, emails, meeting notes and other personal and government records, making for an unparalleled history. It is also the first inside look at Biden’s presidency as he faces the challenges of a lifetime: the continuing deadly pandemic and millions of Americans facing soul-crushing economic pain, all the while navigating a bitter and disabling partisan divide, a world rife with threats, and the hovering, dark shadow of the former president. “We have much to do in this winter of peril,” Biden declared at his inauguration, an event marked by a nerve-wracking security alert and the threat of domestic terrorism. Peril is the extraordinary story of the end of one presidency and the beginning of another, and represents the culmination of Bob Woodward’s news-making trilogy on the Trump presidency, along with Fear and Rage. And it is the beginning of a collaboration with fellow Washington Post reporter Robert Costa that will remind readers of Woodward’s coverage, with Carl Bernstein, of President Richard M. Nixon’s final days.”
  • Haitian migrants face tough choices in Del Rio amid crackdown at Texas-Mexico border“—”As the Haitians tried to climb onto the U.S. side of the river Sunday afternoon, the agent shouted: ‘Let’s go! Get out now! Back to Mexico!’ The agent swung his whip menacingly, charging his horse toward the men in the river who were trying to return to an encampment under the international bridge in Del Rio after buying food and water in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. One migrant fell as he tried to dodge, others shielded their heads with their hands.” Tweet—”Border Patrol agents on horseback cracking whips and charging into crowds of Haitian asylum seekers in Texas, shouting at them to go back to Mexico.” Tweet—”If you doubt that there is continued thread of racism from slavery to now in America, read this. THEY USED WHIPS ON THE HAITIAN ASYLUM SEEKERS.” Tweet thread—”Someone will try to convince you that Biden’s border patrol whipping Haitian immigrants at the border isn’t THAT bad because maybe it wasn’t an actual whip being used by a whip or maybe this is standard operating procedure or maybe somehow we need to see video for context…” “Ignore them. This is heinous. And there’s no way this administration or its supporters can say this is ever fine.” Also “White House, House Homeland Security chair denounce ‘horrific’ mistreatment of Haitian migrants by Border Patrol officers – The Washington Post.”
  • He found forgotten letters from the ’70s in his attic. Turns out they were missives from the Unabomber. The Chronicle’s Jack Epstein gave the Unabomber travel advice, after the famed terrorist read his book about a journey through South America. The letters provide a sense of Kaczynski’s larger plans.”
  • William Dampier, Pirate Scientist. An oft-overlooked explorer who traversed the globe, driven by his thirst for scientific discovery—and a love of piracy.”
  • The cost of misogyny. Societies that treat women badly are poorer and less stable. Oppressing women not only hurts women; it also hurts men.”
  • Funcom Acquires Full Control of Conan the Barbarian and Dozens of Other IPs. Funcom acquires full control of some of the most beloved intellectual properties in popular culture and will merge them into the IP studio Heroic Signatures.”—”Funcom today announced the acquisition of Cabinet Group, home to dozens of intellectual properties, including Conan the Barbarian, Mutant Year Zero and Solomon Kane. Cabinet Group’s entire portfolio will be incorporated into the IP studio and Funcom subsidiary Heroic Signatures. Funcom CEO Rui Casais said he has high ambitions for the IPs and noted at least one unannounced project is already in development. ‘We are currently overseeing the development of an unannounced game which will combine many of the characters in the Robert E. Howard universe,’ said Casais. ‘And if you combine Funcom’s knowledge of games with Heroic Signatures’ knowledge of the TV/entertainment, publishing, and licensing industries, it makes us perfectly placed to take this venture to the next level. It’s exciting times ahead for us and for fans of the IPs.'” “The Heroic Signatures President was responsible for acquiring and reviving the popularity of multiple IPs. Most notably, licensing deals with companies such as Penguin Random House, Panini, Titan Books, Monolith and Funcom enabled Conan the Barbarian to reach a whole new generation of fans around the world. Marvel Entertainment is publishing a new Conan comic book every month, and there is also a Netflix series based on the same IP currently in the works.”
  • Netflix Acquires Roald Dahl Story Company“—”Netflix has acquired the Roald Dahl Story Company for an undisclosed figure, giving it access to the full catalog of works from the famed British author. The deal extends a relationship between the two companies that began in 2018 with an initial pact that gave the streamer access to 16 titles for animation adaptations. To date, projects put into motion include Taika Waititi and Phil Johnston’s upcoming series based on the world of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and an adaptation of Matilda The Musical with Sony and Working Title. Netflix said today it was eyeing the creation of a universe of projects based on Dahl properties across animated and live-action films and TV, publishing, games, immersive experiences, live theater and consumer products.” Also “Some pitches for Netflix’s Roald Dahl Extended Universe.”
  • Watch “BLADE RUNNER Roleplaying Game – Announcement Trailer” coming from Free League. (Trailer art by Martin Grip and music by Simon Stålenhag!) “Walk the neon-noir streets of Los Angeles in the official BLADE RUNNER Roleplaying Game. Coming in 2022” Also “BLADE RUNNER RPG. Walk the mean streets of Los Angeles 2037 in a new game from the award-winning team behind the hit ALIEN RPG.” “This is the BLADE RUNNER roleplaying game – a neon-noir wonderland that’ll take your breath away. One way or another. An evocative world of conflicts and contrasts that dares to ask the hard questions and investigate the powers of empathy, the poisons of fear, and the burdens of being human during inhumane times. An iconic and unforgiving playground of endless possibilities that picks you up, slaps you in the face, and tells you to wake up. Time to live. Or time to die.” “The official Blade Runner RPG will propel players into the streets of Los Angeles as Blade Runners with unique specialties, personalities – and memories. The core game and its line of expansions will push the boundaries of investigative gameplay in tabletop RPGs, giving players a range of tools to solve an array of cases far beyond retiring Replicants. Beyond the core casework, the RPG will both in setting and mechanics showcase key themes of Blade Runner – sci-fi action, corporate intrigue, existential character drama, and moral conflict – that challenge players to question your friends, empathize with your enemies, and explore the poisons and perseverance of hope and humanity during such inhumane times. The rules of the game are based on the acclaimed Year Zero Engine, used in award-winning games such as the ALIEN RPG, Tales From the Loop and Forbidden Lands, but further developed and uniquely tailored for Blade Runner.”
  • Via email—”We are thrilled to say that Free League and Chris McDowall (Electric Bastionland) today announce a publishing partnership for the new edition of his acclaimed weird-fantasy tabletop roleplaying game INTO THE ODD!” Also, crowdfunding now: Into the Odd Remastered. A rules-light, flavour-heavy roleplaying game of industrial horror and cosmic strangeness.” Also watch “Into the Odd Remastered Readthrough” Watch announcement trailer.
  • Upcoming crowdfunding effort: “Follow Me Down. A GMless, two-player tabletop roleplaying game inspired by the myth of Orpheus & Eurydice, Powered by the Apocalypse.”
  • David Lynch’s Dune Kept Science Fiction Cinema Strange“—”Lynch might not be a science fiction scholar. But Lynch understood the mystic and strange side of Herbert’s creation, and of so much brilliant science fiction literature that gets scrubbed on its way to a film adaptation. So yes, Lynch’s Dune is a mess with many flaws. But science fiction cinema would be a poorer place without it.”
  • A decade of The Expanse. Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck look back on their epic space opera series, writing for television, and what they hope its impact will be a decade from now.”
  • First they stole the logo … “Space Force reveals uniforms and Twitter can only see ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Battlestar Galactica’.”
  • Elvira, Cassandra Peterson, Comes Out, Talks 19-Year Relationship“—”Cassandra Peterson — best known to the world as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark — released her new memoir Yours Cruelly, Elvira today and, in the process, came out by revealing her 19-year relationship with another woman, Teresa ‘T’ Wierson.” Partly about promoting Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Cassandra Peterson—”The woman behind the icon known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, the undisputed Queen of Halloween, reveals her full story, filled with intimate bombshells, told by the bombshell herself. On Good Friday in 1953, at only 18 months old, 25 miles from the nearest hospital in Manhattan, Kansas, Cassandra Peterson reached for a pot on the stove and doused herself in boiling water. Third-degree burns covered 35% of her body, and the prognosis wasn’t good. But she survived. Burned and scarred, the impact stayed with her and became an obstacle she was determined to overcome. Feeling like a misfit led to her love of horror. While her sisters played with Barbie dolls, Cassandra built model kits of Frankenstein and Dracula, and idolized Vincent Price. Due to a complicated relationship with her mother, Cassandra left home at 14, and by age 17 she was performing at the famed Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas. Run-ins with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Tom Jones helped her grow up fast. Then a chance encounter with her idol Elvis Presley, changed the course of her life forever, and led her to Europe where she worked in film and traveled Italy as lead singer of an Italian pop band. She eventually made her way to Los Angeles, where she joined the famed comedy improv group, The Groundlings, and worked alongside Phil Hartman and Paul “Pee-wee” Reubens, honing her comedic skills. Nearing age 30, a struggling actress considered past her prime, she auditioned at local LA channel KHJ as hostess for the late night vintage horror movies. Cassandra improvised, made the role her own, and got the job on the spot. Yours Cruelly, Elvira is an unforgettably wild memoir. Cassandra doesn’t shy away from revealing exactly who she is and how she overcame seemingly insurmountable odds. Always original and sometimes outrageous, her story is loaded with twists, travails, revelry, and downright shocking experiences. It is the candid, often funny, and sometimes heart-breaking tale of a Midwest farm girl’s long strange trip to become the world’s sexiest, sassiest Halloween icon.” Tweet—”Elvira dating Elvis, losing her virginity to Tom Jones and then hooking up with her female personal trainer is the new ‘Eartha Kitt had a threesome with James Dean and Paul Newman'” But also tweet—”Grab your popcorn and get ready for my 40th Anniversary, Very Scary, Very Special Special, premiers this SATURDAY 09/25 at 8p ET on @Shudder TV! 📺🍿💀 #Elvira40″.
  • Watch “Night Teeth | Official Trailer | Netflix”—”Benny’s entire world is turned upside down after picking up two mysterious girls who expose him to a secret world he never knew existed. He is suddenly hurled into their cryptic underworld on a mission to save his city from dripping in blood.”
  • Watch “The Humans | Official Trailer HD | A24″—”From writer/director Stephen Karam and starring Richard Jenkins, Jayne Houdyshell, Amy Schumer, Beanie Feldstein, Steven Yeun, and June Squibb. The Humans – coming to theaters and Showtime this Thanksgiving.”
  • Watch “Around the World in 80 Days Trailer“—”David Tennant stars as literature’s greatest explorer Phileas Fogg in a thrilling new adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel coming to MASTERPIECE on PBS. (Air date to be announced.)”
  • Watch “The Tragedy of Macbeth | Official Trailer HD | A24″—”From writer/director Joel Coen and starring Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Corey Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson, and Harry Melling. The Tragedy of Macbeth – In Theaters December 25. Streaming on Apple TV+ January 14.”
  • Watch “Marvel’s Hit-Monkey I Date Announcement I Hulu”—”A Monkey in a suit? Damn right… Marvel’s Hit-Monkey premieres November 17, only on Hulu” with Olivia Munn, Jason Sudeikis, and George Takei.
  • Watch “Finch — Official Trailer | Apple TV+”—”Tom Hanks is Finch, a man who embarks on a moving and powerful journey to find a new home for his unlikely family—his beloved dog and a newly created robot—in a dangerous and ravaged world.”
  • Learning to Love Solitude (and Hate Oatmeal) on a 15,534-Mile Canadian Trek. For six years, the filmmaker Dianne Whelan hiked, biked, paddled, snowshoed and skied from the Atlantic to the Pacific and north to the Arctic. Here’s what she learned along the way.”
  • PM urged to abandon Stonehenge tunnel plans. Campaigners have written an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling on him to abandon plans to build a tunnel near Stonehenge.” Also Call for Stonehenge Tunnel funds to be reallocated to upgrade London to Exeter rail line. Campaigners against the proposed Stonehenge Tunnel have written to prime minister Boris Johnson, urging him to ‘abandon’ the £1.7bn scheme in favour of ‘less damaging and more sustainable solutions’.”
  • Domains of Delight for 5e from Wizards of the Coast. “All proceeds from Domains of Delight go to non-profit Extra Life, an online grassroots movement working to save sick and injured kids through the power of play.” “Domains of Delight are to the Feywild what Domains of Dread are to the Shadowfell: sequestered realms governed by powerful beings. Whereas a Domain of Dread is ruled by a Darklord, a Domain of Delight is ruled by an archfey—the most powerful of Fey creatures. An archfey gives form to their Domain of Delight, shaping it in ways unique to their personality. Some Domains of Delight are bright and cheery, while others are gloomy, but each one reflects the emotional state of its ruler. A Domain of Delight can be as small as a few acres or as big as a country. This accessory helps you create Domains of Delight and the archfey who rule them, building on the information about the Feywild that appears in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. The ideas, tips, and tables in this chapter are meant to spark your imagination. Use what excites and intrigues you, discard what doesn’t, and make up the rest!” (Emphasis mine.)
  • Sable by Shedworks, from Raw Fury, due tomorrow—”Embark on a unique and unforgettable journey and guide Sable through her Gliding; a rite of passage that will take her across vast deserts and mesmerizing landscapes, capped by the remains of spaceships and ancient wonders.”
  • Watch “Potion Craft – Early Access Release Trailer“—”Potion Craft is now available on Steam Early Access. Heat up the coals and get ready to brew your marvelous concoctions.” See Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator by niceplay games, from tinyBuild
  • The Legend of Drake’s Drum“—”The drum is also said to mysteriously beat by itself during times of peril. Legend has it that it has been heard to beat at important times in English history: when the Mayflower left Plymouth for the New World in 1620. when Napoleon Bonaparte entered Plymouth harbour as a prisoner aboard the Bellerophon. in 1914 on the outbreak of World War One. in 1918 on HMS Royal Oak just before the surrender of the German fleet. during the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940.”
  • Watch “SCP Confinement Special – Anomalies!“—”SCPs in order – SCP-1879, SCP-119, SCP-683, SCP-1269, SCP-093, SCP-354, SCP-207, SCP-978, SCP-513 (but not really), and SCP-3662. Everything else was made by me. Characters and locations are directly from/inspired by the SCP Foundation Wiki, please check it out for spooky stuff”. See also quotes I’ve posted from There is No Antimemetics Division by qntm.
  • It’s the evil anti-blackest-black: “Scientists created the world’s whitest paint. It could eliminate the need for air conditioning. The paint has now made it into the Guinness World Records book as the whitest ever made. The idea was to make a paint that would reflect sunlight away from a building. The paint reflects 98.1% of solar radiation while also emitting infrared heat.”

Streaming Setup: September 2021

I personally find it interesting to see what people’s streaming and/or recording setups are like, so when I was doing interviews with streamers and community members that’s one question I’d always ask, and try to get a picture from them to share. I had my camera out and took some pictures of my current studio setup, so thought I’d share them. I recently moved my entire setup twice, once to a new spot and then back again because the new one didn’t work out like I thought it would.

Here’s how my current streaming / recording setup looks.

Rigaroga streamer desk Sept 2021

And here’s a look at my embarrassing cable hell behind the desk.

Rigaroga streamer desk Sept 2021 cable hell

And here’s the view from where I sit as I stream and record.

Rigaroga streamer desk Sept 2021 my view

Perhaps you’re curious about specifics. So, here’s my view, but annotated.

Rigaroga streamer desk Sept 2021 my view annotated

My main machine is a iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2017), 4.2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7, 64 GB 2400 MHz DDR4, and Radeon Pro 580 8 GB. I have wired and wireless Apple keyboards, and wireless Apple mouse. I also have a wired Razer gaming mouse. I use the wired KB and mouse so I don’t destroy battery whilst gaming. I use the less than great built-in camera for my face. On my iMac I run OBS for streaming and scene switching. The iMac does most of the work, both playing and streaming.

On the table I have a Raspberry Pi 400, which currently pretty much only runs Foundry VTT so far. The Pi is plugged my Elgato HD 60 S+. The Elgato is then connected to an HDMI splitter box which right now feeds only a 27″ Sceptre 1440p 144Hz monitor. Of course, the Eglato is connected to my iMac via USB for AV capture. Not shown is my Nvidia Shield TV, on which I pretty much only run GeForce Now, or at least I did when it worked, for video game play and streaming. The Shield would simply be swapped into place instead of the Pi.

For both computing devices on the table, I use wired 1 Gbps / Cat 7 ethernet which connects directly to a 1 Gbps fiber router. Elsewhere in the house I use a Wifi 6 wireless mesh router, to which I connect all my other devices.

Under the table is also a 1000VA/600W UPS with 10 Outlets, and I pretty much use all of them. It kicks in to cover for kinda frequent quick power loss or brown outs, and it is just enough to give me time to safely shut everything down for less frequent longer outages. As I write this, the last time it was necessary and kicked in was just yesterday!

I use two other cameras, both Logitech C920 1080p, for whole desk view, on a scissor arm in the middle between the monitors, and dice / close up view, attached to a desk stand on my left side, which I can easily move around as needed.

In the center, above the desk view camera, I have a Blue Yeti Silver USB mic, with shock mount on boom mic stand. (I just realized I’ve had this mic for over 12 years! I actually have two of these entire setups available. Way back in the day, I would record using both, one to each side, to do binaural / separated stereo, but only have one currently in use.) I have my mic set to stereo in a cardioid pickup pattern.

The other thing on the table is my huge red mug of black tea, my own take on a builder’s cuppa with half and half milk and dark brown sugar. (I start every day with this, first thing, and then move on to several liters of carbonated lemon-lime water for the rest of the day; both of which I’m sometimes drinking on stream. Rarely I’ve also had dark beer in an imperial pint glass, instead of moving to water, whilst playing.)

The desk is an Ikea dining table. I use this for my desk because it has way more table surface than a typical desk and there’s nothing under the desk to hit my knees or shins on, which is something I absolutely cannot stand about most work desks. And, I sit on a work chair to which I added upgraded rollerblade style wheels. Under that is an Ikea oriental runner rug.

Behind me to my left side is a second table (on which is my library card catalog and above which is a rather large empty picture frame), which I don’t use for streaming stuff (yet?).

Further behind me on the wall I have a 6×9 green screen backdrop, which I’ve hung sideways.

Attached to the table are two LED task lights, on the back corners of the table, one on each side. Whilst streaming, I use these to light both myself and the green screen behind me. One task light is actually a lighted magnifying glass, in case I need it.

Well, that’s about it! Except for the occasional cat, and, you know, maybe an actual physical game, that’s pretty much everything I have and use for my current streaming and recording setup.

Omnium Gatherum: 19sept2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for September 19, 2021

Here’s a variety of notable things I’ve recently found that you may also be interested in checking out:

  • Occam’s razor and the limits of simplicity. This—widely misunderstood—theoretical touchstone has guided our scientific and philosophical enquires for centuries. But is complexity always such a bad thing?” About Life Is Simple: How Occam’s Razor Set Science Free and Shapes the Universe [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Johnjoe McFadden—”A biologist argues that simplicity is the guiding principle of the universe. Centuries ago, the principle of Ockham’s razor changed our world by showing simpler answers to be preferable and more often true. In Life Is Simple, scientist Johnjoe McFadden traces centuries of discoveries, taking us from a geocentric cosmos to quantum mechanics and DNA, arguing that simplicity has revealed profound answers to the greatest mysteries. This is no coincidence. From the laws that keep a ball in motion to those that govern evolution, simplicity, he claims, has shaped the universe itself. And in McFadden’s view, life could only have emerged by embracing maximal simplicity, making the fundamental law of the universe a cosmic form of natural selection that favors survival of the simplest. Recasting both the history of science and our universe’s origins, McFadden transforms our understanding of ourselves and our world.”
  • Call For Submissions. Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein is looking for guest-bloggers—specifically women, people of color, LGBTQ+ folk, writers with disabilities—to write brief essays about their experiences with the works of H. P. Lovecraft, the Cthulhu Mythos, and interactions with publishing, fandom, and scholarship.”
  • New books will be hard to come by for the rest of the year. Book buyers, beware: New books will be in short supply for the rest of 2021.”—”Publishers are warning sellers and consumers that supply chain issues have forced a major slowdown in book production and threaten a shortage of certain titles for the rest of the year. Supply chain problems have touched almost every aspect of book production, storage, and delivery, mostly as a result of Covid-related bottlenecks. Printer capacity issues plagued the publishing industry last year, too, though 2021 is expected to be worse.”
  • When did humans start wearing clothes? Discovery in a Moroccan cave sheds some light.”—”In popular culture, cave men (and women) are often draped in furs, but archaeological evidence of what our Stone Age ancestors actually wore and how they made clothes is thin. Fur, leather and other organic materials generally aren’t preserved, especially beyond 100,000 years ago. However, researchers say 62 bone tools used to process and smooth animal skins found in a cave in Morocco may be some of the earliest proxy evidence for clothing in the archaeological record. The tools are between 90,000 and 120,000 years old.”
  • Woolly mammoth resurrection project receives $15 million boost“—”The scientific efforts to resurrect the woolly mammoth, which went extinct 4,000 years ago, just got a $15 million boost. A group of geneticists led by Harvard Medical School’s George Church envisions the mammoth once again roaming its natural habitat. The goal is to use genetic engineering to create a living elephant-mammoth hybrid that looks just like a woolly mammoth. Proponents of the project believe the beasts could help restore the Arctic tundra ecosystem and preserve the endangered Asian elephant, the woolly mammoth’s closest relative. This bold plan is fraught with ethical issues. Some scientists question if we know enough to make such an attempt — and the larger point of such an undertaking. But the thought of being up close with a once-extinct creature is a tantalizing one.”
  • Own Two Cats? Scientists Need Your Help“—”The misconception that cats are independent and like to be left alone is outdated, and we need to provide cat-owners with more educational resources to ensure their cats’ welfare in the home”
  • Watch “The Strange Orbit of Earth’s Second Moon (plus The Planets)
  • Watch “Is The Dust Bowl Happening Again?“—”In the 1930s, the US experienced what has been called its greatest ecological disaster, when the dust bowl ravaged the midwest, eroding topsoil, destroying crops, and displacing millions. As climate change exacerbates drought across much of the US in places like Phoenix and the larger Colorado River basin, damaging dust storms and haboobs are becoming more common, leading many experts to ask whether we might be heading into another dust bowl? In this episode of Weathered, we speak to a leading expert about this growing threat, the various hazards that dust storms pose to our health, and how best to prepare ourselves and stay out of harm’s way. Weathered is a show hosted by meteorologist Maiya May and produced by Balance Media that helps explain the most common natural disasters, what causes them, how they’re changing, and what we can do to prepare.”
  • Governments falling woefully short of Paris climate pledges, study finds. As Cop26 meeting approaches, analysis shows world is on track for 3C temperature increase if present trends continue.”
  • Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak starts a new space company Privateer, to clean up space debris.” Tweet—”Now that’s interesting. Woz calling it “Privateer” & focusing on cleaning up what is often dismissed as space trash but is, in effect, the remnants of highly specialized telecommunications & space faring technology w/ all kinds of encoded systems & components? Interesting indeed”
  • Was this written in the 19th century? *stares in Coal country* “Amazon’s New ‘Factory Towns’ Will Lift the Working Class. Plentiful new jobs at higher wages in places with cheaper housing sounds like a solution to inequality.” Also “Amazon Is Creating Company Towns Across the United States. In more and more of the country Amazon acts like an employer in a company town, sucking up whole communities and shaping public goods and services to fit its profit-making needs.”
  • Apple reportedly threatened to boot Facebook from the App Store over human trafficking concerns. Apple threatened to remove Facebook from its App Store after a report about an online slave market. The BBC in 2019 reported that human traffickers were using Facebook’s services to sell domestic workers. The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook knew about the practice even before Apple made its threat.”
  • Internal Facebook Documents Show How Badly It Fumbled the Fight Against Anti-Vaxxers: Report. Facebook researchers warned that anti-vaxxers were deluging comment sections with propaganda, but the company was slow to take action.”
  • Facebook forced troll farm content on over 40% of all Americans each month. Report blames Facebook’s prioritization of engagement over all else.”
  • Facebook VP disputes report claiming the platform knows about multiple flaws it doesn’t fix. The Wall Street Journal wrote a series of articles about the platform’s problems.”
  • A Detroit community college professor is fighting Silicon Valley’s surveillance machine. People are listening. Chris Gilliard grew up with racist policing in Detroit. He sees a new form of oppression in the tech we use every day.”
  • Drugs, robots and the pursuit of pleasure – why experts are worried about AIs becoming addicts“—”What links these seemingly unconnected events is something strangely akin to addiction in humans. Some AI researchers call the phenomenon ‘wireheading’. It is quickly becoming a hot topic among machine learning experts and those concerned with AI safety.”
  • Google’s Incredible New Photo AI Makes ‘Zoom And Enhance’ a Real Thing“—”You may well have seen sci-fi movies or television shows where the protagonist asks to zoom in on an image and enhance the results – revealing a face, or a number plate, or any other key detail – and Google’s newest artificial intelligence engines, based on what’s known as diffusion models, are able to pull off this very trick.”
  • Citing human rights risks, UN calls for ban on certain AI tech until safeguards are set up. ‘We cannot afford to continue playing catch-up regarding AI.'”—”The United Nations Human Rights chief on Wednesday called for a moratorium on the sale of and use of artificial intelligence technology that poses human rights risks — including the state use of facial recognition software — until adequate safeguards are put in place. The plea comes as artificial intelligence develops at a rapid clip, despite myriad concerns ranging from privacy to racial bias plaguing the emerging technology.”
  • EXPLAINER: What are ‘Crisis Standards of Care?’“—”As the spread of the delta variant continues unabated in much of the U.S., public health leaders have approved health care rationing in Idaho and parts of Alaska and Montana. At least five more states — Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas — are nearing capacity with more than 90% of their intensive care unit beds full, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The move to ration healthcare comes amid a spike in the number of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization. Crisis standards of care allow health care providers to give scarce resources, like ventilators, to the patients most likely to survive.” “At the extreme end of the spectrum, crisis standards of care generally use scoring systems to determine which patients get ventilators or other life-saving medical interventions and which ones are treated with pain medicine and other palliative care until they recover or die.”
  • A Tsunami of Disability Is Coming as a Result of ‘Long COVID’. We need to plan for a future where millions of survivors are chronically ill.”
  • Many faith leaders say no to endorsing vaccine exemptions“—”As significant numbers of Americans seek religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine mandates, many faith leaders are saying: Not with our endorsement.” “The issue is becoming more heated as public- and private-sector employers increasingly impose mandates. A clerical letter wouldn’t necessarily be needed for someone to be granted an exemption — federal law requires employers make reasonable accommodations for ‘sincerely held’ religious beliefs — though a clergy endorsement could help bolster a person’s claim.”
  • The Trauma Anti-Vaxxers and Anti-Maskers Are Inflicting on Children“—”The anti-mask, anti-vax zealots are everywhere around our children, who are desperately trying to simply find normalcy and to learn in the middle of an unprecedented disaster. They are in school board meetings, carpool lines, PTA gatherings, high school parking lots, varsity football games. They have brazenly invaded these places and disrupted the extraordinarily difficult work of teachers and school administrators, to ignorantly demand the removal of sensible safeguards that they claim are traumatic and harmful to children. The irony of the incendiary rhetoric and performative hysteria of these people—is that if not for them, our kids would be fine. If not for them, the worst of this would be over. The sad reality is that these people are the source of our children’s trauma”
  • Naomi Wolf Demands Retraction of My Article For Good of Her ‘Reputation’. PR reps for the Lenny Dykstra of the anti-vax movement included a subtle legal threat in their email.”—”Since being booted off of Twitter for spreading misinformation, Wolf has taken to the airwaves, appearing on alleged Jeffrey-Epstein-media-advisor Steve Bannon’s “War Room” show, and tweeted via her husband’s account. My article, ‘Fresh Off Twitter Ban, Naomi Wolf to Headline Anti-Vax Juneteenth Event,’ described Wolf’s headlining of a talk/potluck the organizers of which likened the fight against common sense health mandates by anti-vaxxers to the centuries-long struggle against chattel slavery in the US. The event would later be cancelled, as I detailed in a follow-up piece. I will not be retracting my article.”
  • Tweet—”Covid is killing you, but it’s stupidity you’re dying from.”
  • Oh. That’s what it was. “Biden Takes Rare Step To Share Nuclear Submarine Technology With Australia.” Also “Why France is angry about the US and UK giving Australia nuclear-powered submarines.”—”The French government says it was betrayed when Australia pulled out of their existing multi-billion dollar defense deal, agreeing instead to attain nuclear-powered submarines through a new deal with the United States and the United Kingdom. The effort to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines — a major step toward countering China as President Joe Biden works to build international backing for his approach to Beijing — is part of a new trilateral partnership among the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom, dubbed ‘AUKUS.’ High-ranking French officials said the AUKUS deal was a stab in the back and a move that ‘shows a lack of coherence.’ In response to the trilateral agreement, a French official told CNN on Friday that France has recalled its ambassador to the US for ‘consultation’ — marking what’s believed to be the first time the French have resorted to such a move in modern times.”
  • Until the mid-1990s, Republicans and Democrats worried about climate change equally. Voters on the right were then persuaded to quit worrying by a well-documented misinformation campaign. Storms and fires will not bring an escape from America’s stuck climate politics. But look hard enough and an exit is visible.”
  • Hold on. A remote AI gun? “Mossad assassinated Iran’s chief nuke scientist with remote AI gun — report. Some would say that the operation succeeded in throwing Iran’s nuclear program into chaos for some months, but that Tehran has long since recovered.”—”Next, the report details how the sniper who took out Fakhrizadeh did so remotely from Israel, over 1,600 kilometers away, since the hit squad had long ago left Iran. The gun which was used was a special model of a Belgian-made FN MAG machine gun attached to an advanced robotic apparatus.” Not sure how that’s AI, tbh. But, still. Wtaf.
  • Tweet—”FYI: In the SCOTUS challenge to MS’s 15-week abortion ban, Jonathan Mitchell, the architect of TX’s SB 8, has filed an amicus brief on behalf of TX Right to Life. The brief invites the Court to overrule Roe & Casey AND Lawrence & Obergefell, 2 major LGBTQ equality decisions.” Tweet—”I’ve been telling y’all they don’t plan to stop with abortion.” Tweet—”The author of the Texas abortion bill said that overturning Roe v. Wade will make women practice abstinence. Now I have a question. Why are women forced to practice abstinence and men aren’t?” Also “Behind the Texas Abortion Law, a Persevering Conservative Lawyer. Jonathan Mitchell has never had a high profile in the anti-abortion movement, but he developed and promoted the legal approach that has flummoxed the courts and enraged abortion rights supporters.”
  • Do they know it’s Cringemas? (feat. Lyndal Rowlands), podcast—”We’re joined by climate journalist Lyndal Rowlands to discuss New Corp’s two-week admission that climate change exists. Then we dig into reality show The Activist, and the weird people behind it.” Also “CBS’ ‘The Activist’ Goes From Competition Show to Documentary After Harsh Blowback. The so-called ‘Oppression Olympics’ was originally poised to be a five-week competition show that pitted activists against activist in a battle for relevancy on social media.”
  • 1,400 Dolphins Were Killed in Faroe Islands. Even Hunting Supporters Were Upset. Graphic images of the animals raised ire among activists, and some locals said the killings undermined the work of whale hunters who follow a centuries-old tradition that helps feed local people.”
  • Richard Woodman-Bailey lays newly minted coin at Stonehenge.” He’d placed a coin at Stonehenge 63 years earlier, and is putting another one in place as some repairs are taking place.
  • The perfectionism trap. Society bombards us with instructions to be happier, fitter and richer. Why have we become so dissatisfied with being ordinary?”
  • Ministers plan legal requirement for broadcasters to make ‘clearly British’ shows like Only Fools and Horses. Media Minister John Whittingdale told a Royal Television Society conference programmes such as Fleabag, Derry Girls and the Carry On films would meet the requirement.”—”The UK’s public service broadcasters will have a legal requirement to produce ‘distinctively British’ programmes under plans drawn up by ministers.” Also “We want more Britishness on TV, John Whittingdale tells broadcasters. The BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 will be forced to make more programmes with “Britishness” at their core under government plans. John Whittingdale, the media minister, said the government wants to ensure that public service broadcasters celebrate British values following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.”
  • The Louvre’s Art Sleuth Is on the Hunt for Looted Paintings. Emmanuelle Polack is the face of the French museum’s efforts to return stolen works. But some discoveries have put her employer in an awkward situation.”
  • Haha. I see what you did there: “Opinion: Putting a Black Character in ‘God of War’ Would Be Like Putting a Middle Eastern Character in the Bible“—”Counterpoint: Could you imagine changing the race of Jesus? Not even changing the plot, just like, swapping his skin color and changing the language he speaks? Just to make it easier to relate to him? No. That would be like making the Pharaoh some African dude. But you wouldn’t know anything about that, because you have no respect for history.”
  • Andrew Garfield says Tammy Faye was the first reality star. The once and maybe future Spider-Man says once you let cameras into your private life, you can never get them out.”
  • Why MLMs Like LuLaRoe Are Disturbingly Similar to Cults. VICE spoke with a cult expert about the parallels between LuLaRoe and the high-control groups he’s spent his career studying.”—”In an effort to further explore LuLaRoe’s cult-like traits, VICE called up Ross, who walked us through the parallels between LuLaRoe and many of the organizations he’s spent his career studying. According to Ross, LuLaRoe isn’t a one-of-kind case. All too often, he explained, MLMs pull straight from the cult playbook to recruit and retain the people whose lives they consume.”
  • Watch “Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye” official trailer, coming November 24 on Disney+. “Disney+ and Marvel Studios invite you on an unexpected holiday getaway, unwrapping a brand-new teaser trailer and poster today for “Hawkeye,” a new series set in post-blip New York City. Former Avenger Clint Barton has a seemingly simple mission: get back to his family for Christmas. Possible? Maybe with the help of Kate Bishop, a 22-year-old archer with dreams of becoming a Super Hero. The two are forced to work together when a presence from Barton’s past threatens to derail far more than the festive spirit.”
  • Watch “Batman: The Audio Adventures” official trailer, on HBO Max. “A tale of life and death in Gotham City. After years of vigilante crime fighting, Batman prepares to become an official Gotham member of the Gotham City Police Department, deepening the rift between himself and Catwoman, who’s been using Gotham criminals as her personal ATM. Meanwhile, Two-Face is deteriorating, his two halves at war and his obsession with duality out of control — which his rival the Penguin is more than happy to take advantage of. The Riddler, after years in the shadow of Batman’s A-list foes, is desperate to have his work taken seriously. And the Joker has big, big plans for Valentine’s day…”
  • Watch “C’mon C’mon | Official Trailer HD | A24″—”From writer/director Mike Mills and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Gaby Hoffmann and Woody Norman. C’mon C’mon – In Theaters this November.”
  • Watch “NINE DAYS | Official Trailer (2021)”—”Will (Winston Duke) spends his days in a remote outpost watching the live Point of View (POV) on TV’s of people going about their lives, until one subject perishes, leaving a vacancy for a new life on earth. Soon, several candidates — unborn souls — arrive at Will’s to undergo tests determining their fitness, facing oblivion when they are deemed unsuitable. But Will soon faces his own existential challenge in the form of free-spirited Emma (Zazie Beetz), a candidate who is not like the others, forcing him to turn within and reckon with his own tumultuous past. Fueled by unexpected power, he discovers a bold new path forward in his own life. Making his feature-film debut after a series of highly acclaimed and award-winning short films and music videos, Japanese Brazilian director Edson Oda delivers a heartfelt and meditative vision of human souls in limbo, aching to be born against unimaginable odds, yet hindered by forces beyond their will…”
  • Watch “Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands” official gameplay reveal trailer—”✨fantastical destinations🗺️ 🍄shroomie bois😈 ⚔️shooty! slashy! casty! smashy!🔥 🐑sheep a shark🦈 🦀CRABHOUSE CRABHOUSE CRABHOUSE🏠” “Embark on an epic adventure full of whimsy, wonder, and high-powered weaponry! Bullets, magic, and broadswords collide across this chaotic fantasy world brought to life by the unpredictable Tiny Tina. Roll your own multiclass hero and loot, shoot, slash, and cast your way through outlandish monsters and loot-filled dungeons on a quest to stop the tyrannical Dragon Lord. Everyone’s welcome, so join the party, throw on your adventuring boots, and be Chaotic Great!” Coming March, 2022.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Debuts First Official D&D Musical. The first-ever Dungeons & Dragons musical is coming to D&D Celebration 2021, and it will feature Anthony Rapp, Azie Dungey, and Vico Ortiz.”—”The DM of The Circus of Sound event is Kelly D’Angelo (Miracle Workers), and the players consist of musicians who have appeared in movies, TV shows, video games, and theater. The group includes Anthony Rapp (Rent, Star Trek: Discovery), Jason Charles Miller (Godhead, Critical Role), Azie Dungey (Girls5eva, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Vico Ortiz (American Horror Story), and Mariah Rose Faith (Nightmare Time). It’s unclear if they will all be playing as D&D’s popular Bard class, but if there was ever a time to run an all-Bard party in D&D, the first legitimate D&D musical seems like it should be it.”
  • Doctor Who’s First Female Doctor Deserves Better“—”Doctor Who should absolutely be applauded for finally putting a female Time Lord at the helm of the TARDIS. But as we start to consider the legacy of the Thirteenth Doctor and what Whittaker’s run means in the larger scope of the show’s history, it’s difficult not to conclude that the folks in charge (be it showrunner Chris Chibnall, larger BBC overlords, or some mix of both) never quite knew what to do with her. And that’s a real shame.” “It is also Whittaker whose Doctor has yet to have a true showcase episode, like Capaldi’s “Heaven Sent,” David Tennant’s “Midnight” or even Matt Smith’s “The Doctor’s Wife,” the sort of era-defining installment that allows viewers to understand the iconic character in a new way. And the decision to add John Bishop’s Dan Lewis for Thirteen’s final season, rather than allow Yaz to serve as a sole companion, means we’ll never even get to see this Doctor establish a close one-on-one relationship with anyone else, as we have with every other modern incarnation.” “Perhaps the announcement that Thirteen’s final season will be one long serial story means that we’ll finally have the chance to really delve into her character in a way that the previous two seasons haven’t allowed us to do. Whittaker deserves the chance to truly shine – and fans deserve to properly get to know this Doctor before we have to say goodbye.”
  • Tweet thread—”Welp, Paizo just fired their two most senior customer service people (one a woman, one a POC) for apparently being too willing to push back on abusive management. Of course, this also means that the last person they might retaliate against for me airing dirty laundry is gone.”
  • Tweet—”AOC’s dress is performative. criticizing the dress is also performative. everything is performative. we’re all performing. welcome to clown school.” Tweet—”We must imagine Pagliacci happy.”
  • Tweet—”A 40-year friend of a Capitol Police officer reported the officer for disclosing the secure location he evacuated lawmakers to on Jan. 6. The friend believed the officer was aligned with the rioters, per USCP discipline reports obtained by McClatchy.” See “Capitol Police officers face discipline for selfies with rioters, internal documents show.” “Tweet—”remember when AOC said on one of the capitol officers directing her to a safe location had anger and hostility in his eyes—and she wondered whether he was trying to put her in a vulnerable situation—and she was mocked by both left and right? a lot of y’all owe her an apology.” Tweet—”There were several reasons I refused to stay in the ‘secure location’ on the 6th. This was one of them. Few people want to discuss the reality and implications of this because it’s politically difficult, fraught, and unpopular, but it’s right there. And we need to talk about it.”
  • The miracle of the commons. Far from being profoundly destructive, we humans have deep capacities for sharing resources with generosity and foresight.”
  • Watch “How I Re-Designed the Traditional Bass Guitar: Industrial Design Process“—”This video explores the industrial design process, from napkin sketch to prototype. I talk about formulating a product design goal, creating design criteria, starting with crude napkin sketches, and finally going into 3D CAD. The final result of all of this effort is a CNC’ed bass guitar prototype.”
  • Watch “A Day in Roaring 20’s Berlin | 1927 AI Enhanced Film [ 60 fps,4k]”—”Experience the real Babylon Berlin of the 1920’s. AI enhanced with deep learning techniques. From dawn until dusk in three minutes. Berlin of the Weimar Republic was a multi-cultural city. Teeming with flappers, bobbed hair, cloche hats, and the dancing girls of Berlin’s infamous Cabaret scene.”
  • Watch “Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched Is the Only Folk Horror Documentary You Ever Need to See. io9 debuts the trailer for Kier-La Janisse’s festival hit, a 3-hour deep dive into the witchy, creepy subgenre.”—”Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched arrives on VOD on October 26; it will also roll out for limited theatrical bookings and even more festival play dates throughout the fall (check the film’s official website for updates). It comes to home video on December 7, and Severin Films is already anticipating anyone who comes away from a viewing determined to watch as many of the films highlighted in the documentary as possible by offering up a massive Blu-ray box set. ‘All the Haunts Be Ours: A Compendium of Folk Horror’ contains “19 of the best-known, least-known, rarely-seen and thought-lost classics of folk horror from around the world, all restored from the best available vault elements,” according to a press release, plus special features galore for each individual film, a copy of Jim Williams’ wonderful Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched soundtrack, and more.”
  • Horror artist turns Frozen coloring book into catalog of terror.”
  • Watch “Locke & Key Season 2 | Teaser Trailer | Netflix”—”Official teaser for Locke and Key season 2, coming to Netflix on October 22, 2021. Locke & Key follows 3 siblings who, after the murder of their father, move to their ancestral home only to find the house has magical keys that give them a vast array of powers and abilities.”
  • Watch “Midnight Mass | Official Trailer | Netflix”—”This little island, so sleepy it might be dead. The isolated community on Crockett Island experiences miraculous events – and frightening omens – following the arrival of a charismatic, mysterious young priest. An original series from Mike Flanagan come to Netflix on September, 24th.”
  • ‘Flight Of The Navigator’ Female Reboot In The Works At Disney With Bryce Dallas Howard Directing & Producing.”
  • Netflix Is Transforming Matt Wagner’s Grendel Into a Series“—”This one comes straight out of left field: Netflix has given a series order to an adaptation of Matt Wagner’s Grendel, and it’s already got a whole cast and everything. Abubakr Ali will star as Hunter Rose, who is not just a fencer, not just a writer, and not just a fencer-writer but also an assassin—as his alter ego, Grendel. As you can see in Netflix’s tweet below, Grendel wears a fancy outfit and a creepy mask. The character was first introduced in 1982 and had a complicated publication history before winding up at Dark Horse, which has a first-look deal with Netflix.” Also “Netflix Orders ‘Grendel’ Series Based On Dark Horse Comic With Abubakr Ali To Star, 8 More Cast“—”With Ali’s casting, he becomes the first Arab Muslim male actor to portray a series lead in a comic book adaptation.”
  • Message in a bottle from Japan washes up on Hawaii beach after 37 years. Discovery made by a local girl comes decades after the bottle was put into the sea by schoolchildren as part of an experiment to monitor ocean currents.”
  • There’s an unofficial PbtA TTRPG for Infinity Train! “Infinity Train – the Unofficial Tabletop RPG” by Henry Kathman—”Infinity Train: The UNOFFICIAL Roleplaying Game is an adaptation of the 2019 Cartoon Network Miniseries which seeks to recreate the experiences of the show for a tabletop setting. This game is meant to be played with 2-6 players, one of whom will act as the Conductor (or Gamemaster) of this mysterious train, while the other players take the roles of denizens of this train or passengers who found themselves transported from earth to this world. This game will use the Powered by the Apocalypse tabletop gaming system, taking much inspiration from games like Babes in the Wood, Monster of the Week, and Dungeon World. While players will not be required to have any previous experience or knowledge about roleplaying games, a basic familiarity with these concepts will prove helpful. This game will primarily take place aboard the titular Infinity Train; a strange train that has the capabilities of creating anything that can be imagined. If you haven’t already seen this show, it comes with a high recommendation to anyone playing this game. While this game is designed to be enjoyed by fans of the show, the system can still be enjoyed by fans of speculative fiction stories like The Twilight Zone, Portal, and The Library of Babel, or any fans of western animated cartoons like Gravity Falls and Over the Garden Wall. Using both sets of inspirations will greatly help create interesting situations to help your passengers arrive at their proper destination in life.”
  • Honey, I Joined a Cult. It’s time to start working towards that ultimate goal of enlightenment, faith and money…lots and lots of money. Create, customise, expand and manage your own cult whilst listening to funky music in Honey, I Joined a Cult!” A casual indie simulation developed by Sole Survivor Games, from Team 17.
  • From 2012: “Electron Microscope Zooms In, Finds Life on Life on Life. There’s a bacterium on a diatom on an amphipod on a frog on a bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea!”

Omnium Gatherum: 15sept2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for September 15, 2021

Here’s a variety of notable things I’ve recently found that you may also be interested in checking out:

  • Bill Corbett of MST3K, RiffTrax goes online to debut new play, ‘The Medievalists’“—”Corbett, also a screenwriter and comic book author, will debut his latest work online this weekend: “The Medievalists,” presented by producer Jeremy Wein’s live-streaming theater initiative Play-Per View, premieres via Zoom at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18.” “Play-PerView: The Medievalists (Live-Reading). A New Play by Mystery Science Theater 3000 Writer Bill Corbett starring Rhea Seehorn, James Urbaniak, Pager Brewster and Jason Ritter. Sat, Sep 18, 2021, 7:00 PM – Wed, Sep 22, 2021, 10:59 PM CDT.” “A once-respected history scholar crashes and burns on the set of the cheesy TV series adapted from his work. His family rides in on a quest to save the day!”
  • Fundraiser: “Stop the Sloly SLAPP“—”For over a decade now, Ottawa Life Magazine has taken a strong stance against police brutality and misconduct. With a focus on the RCMP and the Ottawa Police specifically, we’ve covered a variety of stories ranging from the alleged sexual violence and harrassment faced by women in the force to horrific instances of violence against people who are Indigenous, Black and of other marginalized communities. This pattern of misconduct has left many in the city with a sense of distrust, and even fear, of the police who are meant to serve and protect them. As one of Ottawa’s longest running publications, we have always written about difficult topics in the public’s interest. Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly’s legal action against us, as a ‘private citizen,’ is a prime example of a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP)–a means to protect the status quo and silence our reporting on police misconduct. If you believe in freedom of the press and support our right to discuss and criticize police governance, please consider donating to our campaign. Funds will go towards our legal fees and, if we succeed in having it dismissed, all funds will be donated to Maison Libère-Elles, a local women’s shelter that homes women and children who are survivors of domestic violence, substance abuse, poverty, and other adversities.”
  • The cliché writes back. Machine-written literature might offend your tastes but until the dawn of Romanticism most writers were just as formulaic.”—”Instances of automated journalism (sports news and financial reports, for example) are on the rise, while explanations of the benefits from insurance companies and marketing copy likewise rely on machine-writing technology. We can imagine a near future where machines play an even larger part in highly conventional kinds of writing, but also a more creative role in imaginative genres (novels, poems, plays), even computer code itself.” “Our clichéd distaste for clichés points us in a promising direction, though. To make sense of the dizzying thought of machine writing, churning out sentences purely on the basis of probabilities, we need to understand language models such as GPT-3 not only as advances in AI and computational linguistics, but from the perspective of the interwoven histories of writing, rhetoric, style and literature too. What do probabilistic language models look like against the backdrop of the history of probable language? And what might this historical perspective suggest to us about what synthetic text means for the future of imaginative writing?” “Ong reminds us that we’ve relied on probable language for much of human history. Before the emergence of writing more than 5,000 years ago, a defining feature of oral culture was thinking and speaking in terms of communal, formulaic language.” “Through successive revolutions in media and technology, including the spread of writing and the 15th-century invention of printing, probable phrases persisted in rhetorical teaching and practice as loci communes or ‘commonplaces’, which can refer to two things. ‘Analytic’ commonplaces were well-trodden topics or headings for discussion.” “The second kind of commonplace, the one more relevant here, is the ‘cumulative commonplace’ or prefabricated phrases or passages.” “The emergence of writing and print loosened the grip of probable language: each, as a physical medium, allows for the saving of knowledge over time and the spread of knowledge in space, and this liberated human thought and expression from the deep grooves of conventional language. Yet, paradoxically, these frequently used ‘residues’ of oral culture were not extinguished by writing and print, but rather gathered into collections and compendiums that were used to teach students the rhetorical curriculum from antiquity through the Renaissance, and until the decline of that kind of schooling in the 19th century.” “Or maybe something else altogether will emerge. But at the heart of the matter is the question put by Komar: ‘Do you expect to see the unexpected when you look at art?’” By Yohei Igarashi, author of 2019’s The Connected Condition: Romanticism and the Dream of Communication [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”The Romantic poet’s intense yearning to share thoughts and feelings often finds expression in a style that thwarts a connection with readers. Yohei Igarashi addresses this paradox by reimagining Romantic poetry as a response to the beginnings of the information age. Data collection, rampant connectivity, and efficient communication became powerful social norms during this period. The Connected Condition argues that poets responded to these developments by probing the underlying fantasy: the perfect transfer of thoughts, feelings, and information, along with media that might make such communication possible. This book radically reframes major poets and canonical poems. Igarashi considers Samuel Taylor Coleridge as a stenographer, William Wordsworth as a bureaucrat, Percy Shelley amid social networks, and John Keats in relation to telegraphy, revealing a shared attraction and skepticism toward the dream of communication. Bringing to bear a singular combination of media studies, the history of communication, sociology, rhetoric, and literary history, The Connected Condition proposes new accounts of literary difficulty and Romanticism. Above all, this book shows that the Romantic poets have much to teach us about living with the connected condition and the fortunes of literature in it.”
  • Our heartbeats synchronise while we’re listening to stories, researchers find. That experience can be shared even if the people are far apart, as long as they are attentively listening to the story.”—”Scientists have discovered that people’s bodily functions – including their heartbeat and breathing – unconsciously synchronise when they are sharing an experience.”
  • Worms Share Memories With Others by Swapping RNA, Wild Study Reveals“—”A ghastly bout of food poisoning isn’t an experience to forget. The commonly studied microscopic nematode Caenorhabditis elegans not only ensures it remembers, it genetically embeds the threat of skanky meals into its kids to force them to stay clear as well. And if by some misfortune one of those worms goes belly-up anyway? The warning encoded in RNA can leak out of their disintegrating body, potentially to be picked up by any passing member of the species. This remarkable means of memory transfer was spotted by researchers from Princeton University’s Murphy Lab in the US as a part of a series of studies on inherited behaviors in the nematode.”
  • Astronomers are still looking for the elusive ‘Planet 9’. A new study narrows down where to find a hypothetical ninth planet in the dark outer limits of our solar system.”
  • Strange 160 Mile-Long ‘Dog-Bone’ Asteroid Kleopatra Captured in Detailed Images“—”Using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT), a team of astronomers has obtained the sharpest and most detailed images yet of the asteroid Kleopatra. The observations have allowed the team to constrain the 3D shape and mass of this peculiar asteroid, which resembles a dog bone, to a higher accuracy than ever before. Their research provides clues as to how this asteroid and the two moons that orbit it formed. ‘Kleopatra is truly a unique body in our Solar System,’ says Franck Marchis, an astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, USA and at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, France, who led a study on the asteroid — which has moons and an unusual shape — published today (September 9, 2021) in Astronomy & Astrophysics. ‘Science makes a lot of progress thanks to the study of weird outliers. I think Kleopatra is one of those and understanding this complex, multiple asteroid system can help us learn more about our Solar System.'”
  • Modern Life Is Accelerating Human Evolution – and That Can Prove Destructive. Hundreds of millions of years of evolution led to the advent of Homo sapiens, but the evolutionary process is not over – it is actually speeding up, and our behavior patterns have a lot to do with it. ‘We live in a world that’s no longer very suitable for us’”
  • From May: “World’s only alpine parrot may have moved to the mountains to avoid people. Intelligent and mischievous, New Zealand’s kea were once present in other parts of the country, research has found, and adaptability could help them survive habitat loss.”—”He said that idea that kea had moved specifically to avoid people was still speculative, and there wasn’t enough information to establish any causative relationship between human settlements expanding and the birds’ adoption of mountainous zones. But given kea were physically able to survive in a variety of habitats, it made sense to examine what the primary differences were. ‘What distinguishes the alpine habitat from the New Zealand lower-lying open habitats? [There] are usually heavily anthropogenic influences, agriculture going on and so on.'” From June: “Endangered parrot lives in mountains to avoid people: study“—”Birds of a feather flock together — far away from society. Researchers have found reason to believe that the kea — a large, endangered parrot species — once lived among humans before moving away from people and into New Zealand’s mountains. In a study published last month in the journal Molecular Ecology, scientists at New Zealand’s University of Otago determined that the kea may be capable of living amongst people, but prefers alpine habitats so as to “avoid lower-lying anthropogenic landscapes” — so they don’t have to mingle among humans.”
  • Is gravity truly a quantum force? Exploring quantum gravity—for whom the pendulum swings.”
  • Stunning images capture rare ‘megapod’ of humpback whales“—”Coastal tour boat operators in Australia were treated to a rare spectacle last week as more than 100 humpback whales set upon a swirling ball of baitfish.” “‘The big smell, fish everywhere, whales busting up through it. Now the whales on the outside were slapping their tails, sorting of herding the bait in together and then the whales coming up and sort of busting up all over the place,’ Miller told the Reuters news agency. ‘It’s pretty incredible stuff.'”
  • Scientists scramble to harvest ice cores as glaciers melt. Ice provides historical records about climate and shows the impact humanity has had. But many glaciers are now melting, prompting renewed urgency among scientists.”
  • CRISPR startup wants to resurrect the woolly mammoth by 2027. Colossal lands $15 million to restore the woolly mammoth to the Arctic — and thinks it can birth calves in four to six years.” Also “Scientists want to resurrect the woolly mammoth. They just got $15 million to make it happen.”
  • Lumpy tumor shown on facial reconstruction of Neanderthal who lived on ‘drowned land’. The Neanderthal lived up to 70,000 years ago.”
  • Physicists discover black holes exert a pressure in serendipitous scientific first“—”Physicists at the University of Sussex have discovered that black holes exert a pressure on their environment, in a scientific first. In 1974 Stephen Hawking made the seminal discovery that black holes emit thermal radiation. Previous to that, black holes were believed to be inert, the final stages of a dying heavy star. The University of Sussex scientists have shown that they are in fact even more complex thermodynamic systems, with not only a temperature but also a pressure.”
  • Researchers Generate an Entire Virtual Universe and Make it Available for Download (if you Have 100 Terabytes of Free Hard Drive Space)“—”Astronomy is a bit different from many sciences because you only have a sample size of 1. The cosmos contains everything we can observe, so astronomers can’t study multiple universes to see how our universe ticks. But they can create computer simulations of our universe. By tweaking different aspects of their simulation, astronomers can see how things such as dark matter and dark energy play a role in our universe. Now, if you are willing to spring for a fancy hard drive, you can keep one of these simulations in your pocket. The Uchuu simulation is the largest and most detailed simulation of the universe ever made. It contains 2.1 trillion ‘particles’ in a space 9.6 billion light-years across. The simulation models the evolution of the universe across more than 13 billion years. It doesn’t focus on the formation of stars and planets but instead looks at the behavior of dark matter within an expanding universe. The detail of Uchuu is high enough that the team can identify everything from galaxy clusters to the dark matter halos of individual galaxies. Since dark matter makes up most of the matter in the universe, it is the main driver of galaxy formation and clustering.”
  • Squirrels have personality traits similar to humans, new study shows.”—”A team of researchers at the University of California, Davis announced squirrels have personality traits similar to humans, and those traits are key to their survival and life expectancy. The researchers published their findings in the journal Animal Behaviour on Friday. The study, which the group says is the first to ever document personality in golden-mantled ground squirrels commonly found in western U.S. and Canada, showed the animals had four different traits: boldness, aggressiveness, sociability and activity level. Researchers say the findings show how personality influences an animal’s use of space in the wild.” Also, “boldness, aggressiveness, sociability and activity level” are my new minimal RPG’s four core stats.
  • Fossils of giant, ‘mind-boggling’ swimming head creature unearthed in Canada“—”A fossil found in the Canadian Rockies revealed an unusual marine animal that was much larger in scale than any other ocean creatures at its time more than 500 million years ago. According to a study published Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the fossil is named Titanokorys gainesi and was 1.6 feet in length – quadruple the size of its fellow ancient ocean dwellers. ‘The sheer size of this animal is absolutely mind-boggling, this is one of the biggest animals from the Cambrian period ever found,’ study author Jean-Bernard Caron said in a statement. ‘These enigmatic animals certainly had a big impact on Cambrian seafloor ecosystems. Their limbs at the front looked like multiple stacked rakes and would have been very efficient at bringing anything they captured in their tiny spines towards the mouth.'”
  • The universe is alive. “NASA says rock samples found by rover reveal alien life may have existed on Mars. Scientists can’t be certain whether the water that altered these rocks was present for tens of thousands of years or for millions of years, but they are growing increasingly certain it was there long enough to welcome microscopic life.”
  • The universe is trans. “1st sign of elusive ‘triangle singularity’ shows particles swapping identities in mid-flight. Weird phenomenon first proposed by Russian physicist Lev Landau in the 1950s.”—”Physicists sifting through old particle accelerator data have found evidence of a highly-elusive, never-before-seen process: a so-called triangle singularity. First envisioned by Russian physicist Lev Landau in the 1950s, a triangle singularity refers to a rare subatomic process where particles exchange identities before flying away from each other. In this scenario, two particles — called kaons — form two corners of the triangle, while the particles they swap form the third point on the triangle. ‘The particles involved exchanged quarks and changed their identities in the process,’ study co-author Bernhard Ketzer, of the Helmholtz Institute for Radiation and Nuclear Physics at the University of Bonn, said in a statement.”
  • Engineers create 3D-printed objects that sense how a user is interacting with them. Advance incorporates sensing directly into an object’s material, with applications for assistive technology and ‘intelligent’ furniture.”
  • The Kidney Project successfully tests a prototype bioartificial kidney. Advance is awarded KidneyX’s Artificial Kidney Prize.”
  • Fountain of youth for ageing stem cells in bone marrow. Epigenetic changes in old age increase risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. As we age, our bones become thinner, we suffer fractures more often, and bone-diseases such as osteoporosis are more likely to occur. One responsible mechanism involves the impaired function of the bone-marrow stem cells, which are required for the maintenance of bone integrity. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing and CECAD Cluster of Excellence for Ageing Research at the University of Cologne have now shown that the reduced stem cell function upon ageing is due to changes in their epigenome. They were able to reverse these changes in isolated stem cells by adding acetate. This fountain of youth for the epigenome could become important for the treatment of diseases such as osteoporosis.”
  • Leaked documents reveal the special rules Facebook uses for 5.8M VIPs. ‘These people can violate our standards without any consequences.'”—”Facebook had a problem on its hands. People were making posts that got caught in the company’s automated moderation system or were taken down by its human moderators. The problem wasn’t that the moderators, human or otherwise, were wrong to take down the posts. No, the problem was that the people behind the posts were famous or noteworthy, and the company didn’t want a PR mess on its hands. So Facebook came up with a program called XCheck, or cross check, which in many instances became a de facto whitelist. Over the years, XCheck has allowed celebrities, politicians, athletes, activists, journalists, and even the owners of ‘animal influencers’ like ‘Doug the Pug’ to post whatever they want, with few to no consequences for violating the company’s rules.” “… at least 5.8 million people were enrolled in the program as of last year, many of them with significant followings. That means a large number of influential people are allowed to post largely unchecked on Facebook and Instagram.”
  • Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show. Its own in-depth research shows a significant teen mental-health issue that Facebook plays down in public.”
  • Tweet—”Anonymous has just announced a massive hack of Epik, long known as the hosting provider of choice for neonazis, right-wing extremists, and other Internet trash. Anonymous are releasing a decade’s worth of detailed Epik customer & domain data, passwords, emails, and private keys.”
  • Intuit to Acquire Mailchimp. Combination Accelerates Intuit’s Vision to Provide an End-to-End Customer Growth Platform for Small and Mid-Market Businesses.” Tweet—”Mailchimp has been acquired by Intuit, one of the evilest of all financial companies. I’ll be shutting down my mailing list on there.” Tweet—”Intuit has regularly and successfully lobbied to keep American taxpayers from having access to completely free, easy filing which would directly facilitated by the IRS itself at no cost or energy expenditure by the individual. Fuck them. Time to get out tinyletter as a host.” Tweet—”Mailchimp just got bought for $12 billion, and employees own no equity.”
  • Revolt of the Delivery Workers. Exploited by apps. Attacked by thieves. Unprotected by police. The city’s 65,000 bikers have only themselves to count on.”
  • Tweet—”Epic v. Apple verdict is out today, the judge ruled that Epic must pay Apple over $4 million at least and that Apple must allow developers to provide alternative payment methods. She wrote a nearly 200 page order explaining why, and here are some highlights. Thread 1/?”
  • What you need to know about religious exemptions to vaccine mandates. A recent survey found that 52% of U.S. adults favor offering religious exemptions to vaccine mandates.”
  • Utah kids aren’t being notified of COVID-19 exposure until it’s almost too late to quarantine. Meanwhile, data lags are making school case counts appear lower than they actually are.”
  • Singapore reaches 80 pc double-vaccination rate but life is not returning to normal. Singapore is one of the world’s most inoculated countries with 81 per cent vaccinated. But this month has seen its highest daily infections in more than a year. One epidemiologist says at least 90 per cent vaccination is required against the Delta strain.”—”‘They set a target of 80 per cent, which is too low … it would have worked fine for the Alpha strain but this is Delta, a variant with easily two to three times more transmissibility,’ Dr Leong said. ‘They now need at least 90 per cent vaccination, which is technically not possible due to hardened anti-vaxxers or refusers.'”
  • Unwise, unjust and immoderate.” Check out the art for this peice by Eva Lucero. “No tradition, no local economic growth, no student and alumni pushback is worth the damage being inflicted on the Athens community by the UGA administration’s already insufficient COVID-19 policies while hosting football games at full stadium capacity with no social distancing, masking or vaccination requirements. This football season is yet another component of the University’s overall handling of the pandemic that flies in the face of the three pillars of the arch: wisdom, justice and moderation.”
  • 1 in every 500 US residents have died of Covid-19“—”The United States has reached another grim milestone in its fight against the devastating Covid-19 pandemic: 1 in 500 Americans have died from coronavirus since the nation’s first reported infection.”
  • I-Team: Las Vegas QAnon conference finds new home with major Trump supporter. Caesars canceled conference in Sept.”
  • ‘Are we the sheep?’: QAnon believers struggle to process Gavin Newsom recall election in California.”
  • USCP Officers Arrest California Man with Bayonet & Machete” Also “Capitol Police Say They Arrested A Man With A Machete And Swastikas On His Truck Near The DNC. The man was arrested not far from where a pipe bomb was left on Jan. 5 and just days before another right-wing rally is planned for the Capitol.” Also check out the photos of the vehicle at tweet.
  • Heeding Steve Bannon’s Call, Election Deniers Organize to Seize Control of the GOP — and Reshape America’s Elections. The stolen election myth inspired thousands of Trump supporters to take over the Republican Party at the local level, exerting more partisan influence on how elections are run.”
  • Murders of environment and land defenders hit record high. Figures from Global Witness for 2020 show violent resource grab continued unabated despite pandemic.”
  • Indigenous warrior women take fight to save ancestral lands to Brazilian capital. Jair Bolsonaro is backing a legal move to open up large tracts of indigenous territory to commercial exploitation that tribal members call an ‘extermination effort’.”
  • Ministers granted border exemptions to attend urgent meeting in Canberra“—”Sources familiar with the development said some members of cabinet were granted border exemptions to urgently fly to Canberra for the hastily arranged meeting, which sources say will have international significance. Defence Minister Peter Dutton and Foreign Minister Marise Payne, who are in Washington for a series of meetings over the next two days, were said to have joined the meeting via a secure connection.” “The announcement, also significant to the United States and British governments, will be made at 7am Australian time. The White House on Thursday night announced US President Joe Biden will deliver ‘brief remarks about a national security initiative’.”
  • 90% of global farm subsidies damage people and planet, says UN. Almost half a trillion dollars of support a year harms people’s health, the climate and drives inequality.”
  • House Democrats’ Plan to Tax the Rich Leaves Vast Fortunes Unscathed.” Also tweet—”The medium is the message.” Um, also “Tax the Rich Sweatshirt” or “Tee
  • They said what now? “Government says discrimination against black people and Travellers ‘objectively justified’ with new laws. Documents defend disproportionate impact of Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.”
  • Afghanistan’s Taliban Allow Women to Attend Universities, but Fear Keeps Most at Home. Restrictions on women stop short of the prohibitions of the 1990s—how long that will last isn’t clear.”
  • We’re in hell. This is hell. “Usher, Priyanka Chopra & Julianne Hough Set For ‘The Activist’, CBS Competition Series From Global Citizen“—”The Activist is a competition series that features six inspiring activists teamed with three high-profile public figures working together to bring meaningful change to one of three vitally important world causes: health, education, and environment. Activists go head-to-head in challenges to promote their causes, with their success measured via online engagement, social metrics, and hosts’ input. The three teams have one ultimate goal: to create impactful movements that amplify their message, drive action, and advance them to the G20 Summit in Rome, Italy. There, they will meet with world leaders in the hope of securing funding and awareness for their causes. The team that receives the largest commitment is celebrated as the overall winner at the finale, which will also feature musical performances by some of the world’s most passionate artists.” “UPDATED with statement from Global Citizen, 5:34 PM: After the format for The Activist drew some blowback on social media, Deadline reached out to Global Citizen for a statement. ‘The Activist spotlights individuals who’ve made it their life’s work to change the world for the better, as well as the incredible and often challenging work they do on the ground in their communities,’ a spokesperson for the group said. ‘This is not a reality show to trivialize activism. On the contrary, our aim is to support activists everywhere, show the ingenuity and dedication they put into their work, and amplify their causes to an even wider audience.'”
  • How did American ‘wokeness’ jump from elite schools to everyday life?. And how deep will its influence be?”
  • Escaping Together. Thoughts about basic income, surviving disasters, and the future we must escape from.”
  • Judge Declares Mistrial at Trial of Backpage.com Founders. A judge has declared a mistrial at the trial of the founders of the lucrative classified site Backpage.” Also “Anti-Porn Crusader Sharon Cooper Testifies for Prosecution in Lacey/Larkin Trial, Defense Moves for Mistrial. Shortly after anti-porn/anti-sex work activist, Dr. Sharon Cooper, testified for the prosecution in the Lacey/Larkin trial, defense attorneys moved for a mistrial over her inflammatory statements.”
  • Missouri cave with ancient Native American drawings sold” Also “‘Heartbroken’ Osage Nation leaders decry sale of sacred Missouri cave with ancient artwork. Indigenous leaders had hoped to purchase the land, which is home to 1,000-year-old drawings and was auctioned off for $2.2m.”
  • Tweet thread—”Let’s start the week at the beginning – when do we first see #Nubian languages in the historical record? Well, it’s before Nubian writing (as we know it) emerges in the 6thC CE. The #Meroitic epigraphic tradition includes words and names that appear later in Old Nubian texts. 1/8.”
  • Alan Moore TV Show Spinoff Has Secured Some Funding“—”Creative England is investing £500,000 in UK film and TV production company EMU Films via its Creative Growth Finance fund, established in 2019. One of their projects they hope to use the fund for, is a new TV show spin-off of Alan Moore and Mitch Jenkins’ movie The Show and its short film prequels, Show Pieces. The Show takes place in a modern Northampton that has its very own underworld or purgatory, controlled by two former music-hall comedians, which affects the world above, as they deal with those below. The movie version of The Show recently received a one-day cinematic rollout in the US, a premiere at London’s FrightFest, in person and digitally, and streaming on Spain’s film services. And in October it will receive a wider streaming distribution, globally. Bleeding Cool understands that Alan Moore and Mitch Jenkins have a five-year, five-season storyline for The Show TV Series lined up and that Alan Moore has written the first episode in full. We are to expect some of the returning cast from the previous versions of The Show, including Alan Moore himself as Mister Matterton, but there’s going to be a long road from here to there.”
  • Tweet—”And that’s it for the Special Edition of the Space:1999 Moonbase Alpha Technical Operations Manual. SOLD OUT in less than 2 hours. Sorry if you missed out. The standard edition is still available to pre-order together with £20 of free gifts from” Space: 1999 Moonbase Alpha Technical Operations Manual—”A lavishly illustrated 272 page edition of the book packed with information about life on Moonbase Alpha featuring over 250 brand new illustrations. The book has been produced to feel like the manual given to Alphans as they depart from Earth ready to take up their new position on Moonbase Alpha. PLUS pre-order yours NOW and BEFORE September 20th and get a FREE A4 sized Space: 1999 ‘Conquer the Moon’ poster and iron on Space: 1999 cloth Mission patch (120mm width) with your order.”
  • Lorde’s Work Here Is Done. Now, She Vibes. She was a teen phenom who followed her hit ‘Royals’ with a critically acclaimed album. But now 24, the New Zealand musician isn’t chasing hits. She’s following the sun.”
  • The Civilization board game pioneered epic strategy a decade before Sid Meier. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tech tree.”
  • Avatar Legends RPG designers were prepared for success, but nearly $10m on Kickstarter changed things. Magpie Games talks supply chain logistics, shielding design from bloat and contributor pay.”
  • Marchetti’s Constant“—”Cesare Marchetti, a Italian physicist, actually credited Yacov Zahavi, an Israeli transportation analyst and engineer, in his original paper about ‘invariants in travel behavior,’ published in 1994. He called Zahavi’s field work remarkable ‘because it shows the quintessential unity of traveling instincts around the world, above culture, race, and religion, so to speak,’ Marchetti wrote. Marchetti meant ‘instincts’ literally. He felt that the human propensity to spread out about as far as 30-minute jaunts could take us before retreating to our safe caves was related to an animal drive to establish an optimally sized personal territory. Jonathan English, a fellow at NYU’s Marron Institute of Urban Management and transportation policy director at Toronto Region Board of Trade, says he doesn’t fully subscribe to that theory, but the Marchetti Constant is a good rule of thumb when planners think about transit.”
  • I don’t watch sports ball, but tweet. Missing some camera shake when that giant AR thing hits the ground, tbh. Unreal Engine 5, apparently.
  • Watch, from 2019: “Alex Jones Rants as an Indie Folk Song.”
  • Mysteries of the Pythonic Temple. Learn the secrets of the Python programming language as you explore the Pythonic Temple, the last surviving structure of the fabled City of Python. Solve riddles, collect powerful artifacts, and get your computer ready to write real Python code. You can play this mission now by downloading TwilioQuest and launching the Mysteries of the Pythonic Temple mission!”
  • Tweet—”Consider this your official invitation to our spooky swinging soiree. Ghost #MuppetsHauntedMansion, our all-new Original Special, starts streaming October 8 only on @DisneyPlus! #Hallowstream.” Watch “Muppets Haunted Mansion” teaser trailer—”On Halloween night, the fearless Gonzo takes on the greatest challenge of his life by spending one very daring night in the most grim grinning place on Earth …The Haunted Mansion.” Coming to Disney+. Also, apparently Ed Asner will be appearing in a cameo role, posthumously. (As well as having reprised his Carl role from Up! in the series Dug Days.)

Omnium Gatherum: 12sept2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for September 12, 2021

Here’s a variety of notable things I’ve recently found that you may also be interested in checking out:

  • Grievers [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by adrienne maree brown—”A tale of what happens when we can no longer ignore what has been lost in this world. Grievers is the story of a city so plagued by grief that it can no longer function. Dune’s mother is patient zero of a mysterious illness that stops people in their tracks—in mid-sentence, mid-action, mid-life—casting them into a nonresponsive state from which no one recovers. Dune must navigate poverty and the loss of her mother as Detroit’s hospitals, morgues, and graveyards begin to overflow. As the quarantined city slowly empties of life, she investigates what caused the plague, and what might end it, following in the footsteps of her late researcher father, who has a physical model of Detroit’s history and losses set up in their basement. She dusts it off and begins tracking the sick and dying, discovering patterns, finding comrades in curiosity, conspiracies for the fertile ground of the city, and the unexpected magic that emerges when the debt of grief is cleared.” Via email—”Grievers is the first release in the new Black Dawn series from AK Press!”
  • Thomas Heuvelt, made 13 notes and 13 highlights visible for Hex on Goodread. Hex [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Thomas Olde Heuvelt—”Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay ’til death. Whoever settles, never leaves. Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children’s bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened or the consequences will be too terrible to bear. The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting. But, in so doing, they send the town spiraling into dark, medieval practices of the distant past. This chilling novel heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice in mainstream horror and dark fantasy.”
  • Echo [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, due February 2022—”After a terrible accident high in the Alps, travel journalist Nick Grevers wakes from a coma to find that his climbing buddy, Augustin, is missing and presumed dead. But Nick claims to not remember anything—even whatever horrible event that led to his maimed face and the plastic surgery that leaves him still in bandages and feeling like a B-movie monster.Sam, Nick’s long-suffering boyfriend, wants to be glad that Nick is alive and coming home. But the accident has stirred up terrible memories—and it’s beginning to seem that Sam isn’t just being haunted by his own mistakes or Nick’s own trauma. Because it turns out that—though Nick was the only body airlifted off that mysterious peak—he didn’t come home alone, after all. And now, their uninvited guest is awake.”
  • As if being a brain in a jar weren’t horror enough: “Scientists grow miniature brains that mimic the major pathological features of Parkinson’s disease. Recreating major pathological features of Parkinson’s disease in a lab-grown, human mini-brain will help researchers to explore new treatments. This is the first time that Lewy bodies, a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease in patients’ brains, have been produced in the laboratory, offering new insights into the disease.”
  • Oh my gods. Not murder butterflies too! “Milkweed butterflies tear open caterpillars and drink them alive.”
  • Moth wingtips an ‘acoustic decoy’ to thwart bat attack, scientists find. Wingtips of certain species of silkmoth are structured to reflect sound and throw off attackers, according to a new study.”
  • Wild cockatoos make their own cutlery sets. Discovery puts parrots on par with primates in terms of toolmaking.”—”Goffin’s cockatoos (Cacatua goffiniana) are so smart they’ve been compared to 3-year-old humans. But what 3-year-old has made their own cutlery set? Scientists have observed wild cockatoos, members of the parrot family, crafting the equivalent of a crowbar, an ice pick, and a spoon to pry open one of their favorite fruits. This is the first time any bird species has been seen creating and using a set of tools in a specific order—a cognitively challenging behavior previously known only in humans, chimpanzees, and capuchin monkeys. The work ‘supports the idea that parrots have a general [type of] intelligence that allows them to innovate creative solutions to the problems they run into in nature,’ says Alex Taylor, a biologist who studies New Caledonian crows at the University of Auckland. ‘[It] establishes this species as one of the avian family’s most proficient wild tool users.'”
  • How did artifacts, thousands of years old, turn up in a Mississippi alligator’s stomach? ‘We joked about it and said I’m probably the only person on Earth to pull an arrowhead out of an alligator’s stomach.'”
  • More on this: “Suzanne Simard. Forests Are Wired For Wisdom” a podcast episode. “Suzanne Simard is the forest ecologist who has proven, beyond doubt, that trees communicate with each other — that a forest is a single organism wired for wisdom and care. Simard found that the processes that make for a high-functioning forest mirror the maps of the human brain that we’re also just now drawing. All of this turns out to be catching up with intelligence long held in aboriginal science. She calls the mature hub trees in a forest ‘Mother Trees’ — parenting, eldering, in a mode of mutuality and reciprocity, modeling what we also know to be true of genuinely flourishing human ecosystems.” Also check out Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Suzanne Simard—”From the world’s leading forest ecologist who forever changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest—a moving, deeply personal journey of discovery. Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; she’s been compared to Rachel Carson, hailed as a scientist who conveys complex, technical ideas in a way that is dazzling and profound. Her work has influenced filmmakers (the Tree of Souls of James Cameron’s Avatar) and her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide. Now, in her first book, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths–that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complicated, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own. Simard writes–in inspiring, illuminating, and accessible ways—how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they perceive one another, learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, and remember the past; how they have agency about the future; elicit warnings and mount defenses, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication, characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies–and at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them. Simard writes of her own life, born and raised into a logging world in the rainforests of British Columbia, of her days as a child spent cataloging the trees from the forest and how she came to love and respect them—embarking on a journey of discovery, and struggle. And as she writes of her scientific quest, she writes of her own journey–of love and loss, of observation and change, of risk and reward, making us understand how deeply human scientific inquiry exists beyond data and technology, that it is about understanding who we are and our place in the world, and, in writing of her own life, we come to see the true connectedness of the Mother Tree that nurtures the forest in the profound ways that families and human societies do, and how these inseparable bonds enable all our survival.”
  • The World’s Oldest Known Forest Was Not Like We Imagined, New Study Shows“—”The fossilized web of a 385-million-year-old root network has scientists reimagining what the world’s first forests might once have looked like. The picture they have painted couldn’t be more different to what now sits in its place. Near the small town of Cairo in upstate New York, under an old highway department quarry, scientists have reconstructed the remains of what was a mighty and mature old-growth forest – home to at least three of the world’s earliest tree-like plants. Some of these initial tree ‘wannabes’ (known as cladoxylopsids) would have looked like large stalks of celery, shooting 10 meters (32 feet) into the sky. Others resembled pine trees, but with hairy, fern-like fronds for leaves (Archaeopteris). The third long-lost plant would have taken after the palm tree, with a bulbous base and canopy of fern-like branches (Eospermatopteris).”
  • NASA’s Perseverance Rover Collects Puzzle Pieces of Mars’ History.”—”NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover successfully collected its first pair of rock samples, and scientists already are gaining new insights into the region. After collecting its first sample, named ‘Montdenier,’ Sept. 6, the team collected a second, ‘Montagnac,’ from the same rock Sept. 8. Analysis of the rocks from which the Montdenier and Montagnac samples were taken and from the rover’s previous sampling attempt may help the science team piece together the timeline of the area’s past, which was marked by volcanic activity and periods of persistent water. ‘It looks like our first rocks reveal a potentially habitable sustained environment,”’said Ken Farley of Caltech, project scientist for the mission, which is led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California. ‘It’s a big deal that the water was there a long time.'”
  • Office air quality may affect employees’ cognition, productivity“—”The study also confirmed how low ventilation rates negatively impact cognitive function. Overall, the study suggests that poor indoor air quality affects health and productivity significantly more than we previously understood.”
  • Scientists Create Artificial Cells That Mimic Living Cells’ Ability to Capture, Process, and Expel Material. Synthetic Microscopic Structures Imitate Vital Function of Biological Cells.”—”Researchers have developed artificial cell-like structures using inorganic matter that autonomously ingest, process, and push out material—recreating an essential function of living cells. Their article, published in Nature, provides a blueprint for creating ‘cell mimics,’ with potential applications ranging from drug delivery to environmental science.”
  • Auto-kintsugi! “Under Loading Ceramics Self-Heal Cracks By Forming Kink-Bands. In a new study, Texas A&M researchers have discovered that a class of ceramics called MAX phases can self-heal cracks even at room temperature.”—”Ceramics are resilient to heat and extreme environments, but they are fragile and crack easily. Recently, in a study published in Science Advances, researchers at Texas A&M University have discovered a self-healing mechanism within a type of ceramics, called MAX phases. They have shown that these engineered ceramics form natural faults or kink-bands during loading that can not only effectively stop cracks from growing, but can also close and heal them, thereby preventing catastrophic failure.” Time yet to build a Firefly spaceship engine? Or, you know, maybe super high efficiency ceramic gas turbine engines that don’t shatter at speed bumps and potholes?
  • Next gen 3D printed catalysts to propel hypersonic flight. Ultra-efficient 3D printed catalysts could help solve the challenge of overheating in hypersonic aircraft and offer a revolutionary solution to thermal management across countless industries.”
  • Zero Emission Services commences operation. First emission-free inland shipping vessel on energy containers in service.”
  • “Flexible solar cells gain power. 21.4% record efficiency for flexible solar cells. A new efficiency record of 21.4% for flexible CIGS solar cell on polymer film has been achieved by scientists at Empa. Solar cells of this type are especially suited for applications on roofs, transport vehicles or mobile devices.”
  • MIT-designed project achieves major advance toward fusion energy. New superconducting magnet breaks magnetic field strength records, paving the way for practical, commercial, carbon-free power.”
  • Climeworks begins operations of Orca, the world’s largest direct air capture and CO₂ storage plant“—”Unprecedented extreme weather events have dominated the news headlines since early this year. The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cautions that the world will see more of this in years to come. The report further confirms that it is crucial to reduce our emissions drastically and remove unavoidable and historic carbon dioxide emissions from the air permanently. One month after the report was published, Climeworks launches Orca, the world’s largest direct air capture and storage plant that permanently removes CO₂ from the air.”
  • Extremely Long and Incredibly Cold. While researching the wave properties of atoms, one of the “coldest places in the universe” is created for a few seconds at the Center for Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) at the University of Bremen. The temperature record near absolute zero cannot be measured with a thermometer, however, but results from the extremely slowed motion of the observed atoms in an ultracold gas – a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEK). With the help of a newly developed matter-wave lens system, the motion could be reduced in an unprecedented way and this could be demonstrated by observing the BEK over up to two seconds in free fall in the Bremen drop tower.” Also “Quantum gas free-falls its way to a low-temperature record. A cloud of rubidium atoms is said to have achieved the coldest temperature yet after being dropped from the top of a tower.”
  • Something Mysterious Near The Galactic Center Is Flashing Radio Signals“—”As our eyes on the sky grow ever more sensitive, we’re going to find more and more things we’ve never seen before. Such is the case for a newly discovered source of radio signals, located not far from the center of the galaxy. It’s called ASKAP J173608.2-321635, and astronomers have been unable to figure out what kind of cosmic object best fits its weird properties.”
  • Drug Cocktail Reduces Aging-Associated Disc Degeneration“—”Chronic back pain affects upwards of 15 million adults in the US, racking up billions in healthcare costs and lost work days. Degeneration of the discs that cushion and support vertebrae, a common occurrence of aging, is a major contributor to low back pain. Although a widespread condition, few treatments are available. Now Jefferson’s Makarand Risbud, PhD, James J. Maguire Jr. Professor of Spine Research in orthopedic surgery, division director of orthopedic research and co-director of the cell biology and regenerative medicine graduate program, and colleagues have shown that treating mice with a drug cocktail that removes aging cells reduces disc degeneration. The findings, reported in Nature Communications on September 3rd, show how a novel approach to preventing age-related disc degeneration may pave the way for treating chronic back pain.”
  • Smart dental implants. Geelsu Hwang of the School of Dental Medicine and colleagues are developing a smart dental implant that resists bacterial growth and generates its own electricity through chewing and brushing to power a tissue-rejuvenating light.”—”Zero Emission Services (ZES) commences today with the Alphenaar, the first Dutch inland vessel to use interchangeable energy containers for propulsion. The Alphenaar sails between Alphen aan den Rijn and Moerdijk transporting beer for HEINEKEN, ZES’s first end customer.”
  • Arguably better looking than Snap Spectacles, but with less features and more surveillance: “Ray-Ban Stories. The New Way to Capture, Share & Listen. In partnership with Facebook, discover our first generation of smart sunglasses and eyeglasses that keeps you connected. So you can keep your eyes on the world around you.”
  • I mean, because, of course they did. Inception! “Facebook reportedly provided inaccurate data to misinformation researchers. The data was incomplete, potentially damaging the researchers’ work.”
  • Apple mostly wins in Epic Games Fortnite trial, but must ease payment rules. Apple defended its tight control over the iPhone and its App Store in one of the biggest legal fights of the digital age.” I mean, the fight over app store and platform control of phones and pads reminds me of how telcos escaped restrictions on bundling by moving everyone from phone lines to DSL and so on. And therein is probably the only and sufficient reason why full macOS ever won’t be offered on an iPad (or iPhones), even if it is essentially already possible, and those could be fully desktop machines in a pocket.
  • California passes landmark bill targeting Amazon’s algorithm-driven rules. The legislation would require warehouses to disclose to government agencies the quotas used to track workers.”
  • The Way Amazon Uses Tech to Squeeze Performance Out of Workers Deserves Its Own Name: Bezosism. The e-commerce giant has supercharged systems of management invented a century ago with surveillance, algorithms and data, leading to a new ‘ism’.”
  • 12 Ways Therapists Are Personally Coping With COVID Anxiety (Again). Mental health pros are stressed out about the delta variant and rising cases, too. Here’s how they deal.”—”I remind myself this isn’t my first COVID rodeo. … I practice gratitude. … I let myself process all my emotions about COVID: the good, the bad and the ugly. … I limit the amount of COVID news I consume. … I ground myself in nature. … With so much out of my control, I’m focusing on what I can control. … I try to meditate every day. … I try not to overextend myself. … I’m practicing radical acceptance. … I lean into my hobbies. … I seek harmony. … I remind myself I’m doing all I can to stay safe. …”
  • Study examines severe breakthrough cases of COVID-19“—”While researchers in the new study observed a wide range of illness severity among the fully vaccinated patients who were hospitalized and tested positive for COVID-19, more than a quarter of this group were found to have severe or critical disease. All patients with severe or critical cases — 14 in total — required supplementary oxygen support, four were admitted to the intensive care unit, and three died. These patients tended to be older — between 65 and 95 years old with a median age of 80.5 — and had preexisting comorbidities, such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. A subset of patients was also on immunosuppressive drugs that may affect vaccine efficacy.”
  • NXIVM Co-Founder Sentenced To 3 1/2 Years In Sex Slaves Case. Nancy Salzman must report to prison by Jan. 19 and also pay a $150,000 fine, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said.”
  • Arizona’s Election ‘Audit’ Isn’t Done, But Two Trump-Supporting Republicans Are Just Declaring Victory For Him Anyway. There’s no end to the Arizona audit in sight. But with other Trump backers looking to take up audits of their own, some are ready to just call it a win.”
  • Blowback. The Forever Wars Are Coming Home.”—”War, especially interminable war, does this to a nation. It makes people want to claim the sanctity of combat for themselves and to inject the stakes of conflict into their lives.”
  • Declassifying the 9/11 Investigation. President Biden says he will open up the government’s secret files about the plot, but will they answer the questions that remain?”
  • 9/11 was a test. The books of the last two decades show how America failed.“—”Deep within the catalogue of regrets that is the 9/11 Commission report — long after readers learn of the origins and objectives of al-Qaeda, past the warnings ignored by consecutive administrations, through the litany of institutional failures that allowed terrorists to hijack four commercial airliners — the authors pause to make a rousing case for the power of the nation’s character. ‘The U.S. government must define what the message is, what it stands for,’ the report asserts. ‘We should offer an example of moral leadership in the world, committed to treat people humanely, abide by the rule of law, and be generous and caring to our neighbors. . . . We need to defend our ideals abroad vigorously. America does stand up for its values.’ This affirmation of American idealism is one of the document’s more opinionated moments. Looking back, it’s also among the most ignored.”
  • Is the Imperial Game Up?“—”Twenty years ago, the United States sustained the first substantial attacks on the mainland since the War of 1812. It was a collective shock to all Americans who believed their country to be impregnable. The Cold War had produced the existential dread of a nuclear attack, but that always lurked in the realm of the maybe. On a day-to-day basis, Americans enjoyed the exceptional privilege of national security. No one would dare attack us for fear of massive retaliation. Little did we imagine that someone would attack us in order to precipitate massive retaliation.” “The commentary on this twentieth anniversary of 9/11 has been predictably shallow: how the attacks changed travel, fiction, the arts in general. Consider this week’s Washington Post magazine section in which 28 contributors reflect on the ways that the attacks changed the world.” “The subsequent entries on art, fashion, architecture, policing, journalism, and so on attempt to describe these subtler effects. Yet it’s difficult to read this special issue without concluding that 9/11 in fact didn’t change the world much at all.”
  • How the 9/11 attacks helped shape the modern misinformation, conspiracy theory industry. The sudden terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, seemed to defy explanation and occurred just as the internet started to boom. That combination spawned various conspiracy theories and made them accessible in new ways. The attacks also fueled distrust in government and fears of real and perceived enemies. Experts said the feeling of lost trust and security likely made some Americans more susceptible to conspiracy theories about 9/11 and other topics. One key accelerator of the 9/11 truth movement was an amateur documentary released online in 2005, which created a template for future videos, such as ‘Plandemic.'”
  • The 9/11 Museum Has A Problematic Legacy. Can It Be Saved? The museum’s handling of the Sept. 11 attacks has long received criticisms, which have become more glaring as the 20th anniversary approaches, scholars say.”
  • The Forgotten Black Heroes of 9/11: More Evidence of Discriminatory Denial“—”These Black heroes of 9/11 valiantly battled terrorism. But the sacrifices of these Black heroes will receive no recognition during the commemorations around America for the 20th Anniversary of what is considered the most tragic terrorist attack ever conducted on America soil. These heroes, William Parker and his colleagues, confronted terrorists on 9/11 in defense of freedom and liberty – professed pillars of democracy in America. Although badly outnumbered, these Black heroes successfully battled the armed terrorists whose onslaught included threats to employ a weapon of massive destruction. While the anti-terrorism actions of Parker and his band of Black heroes did occur on 9/11 those actions did not occur on ‘that’ 9/11. The so-called ‘Christiana Riot’ on September 11, 1851, involved Parker and his band battling a group of slave catchers from Maryland who sought return of three Blacks who fled the enslavement of a Methodist minister in Baltimore.”
  • FBI Seizes Phone Of Oath Keepers Lawyer In ‘Seditious Conspiracy’ Investigation. ‘I have so much information in there – it’s nuts,’ Kellye SoRelle told HuffPost about her iPhone.”
  • ‘Good Way to Die’: The Moonies and the Jan. 6 Insurrection“—”An AR-15 Worshipping Sect Mobilized for the Attack on the Capitol and Is Recruiting the Far Right to Its Apocalyptic Vision.” Tweet—”Donald Trump currently delivering speech at Unification Church event on a “Heavenly Unified Korea” 🥴” Tweet—”Donald Trump gave a speech tonight for the deity of the christofascist cult, The Moonies. Trump praised the authoritarian mind control cult for their “incredible story.” Totally normal stuff.” Tweet thread—”Okay everyone. “Moonies,” the authoritarian CULT I was a part of, later escaped and have been speaking out against for the last 45+ years is trending. If you want a crash course on this cult & their ties to the modern GOP, read these blogs of mine. They will catch you up. 👍” Also “Trump-loving church that uses guns in holy rituals buys compound near Waco, Texas. The cult-like group’s leader wears a crown of bullets and carries a golden AR-15″
  • Can’t run the agency tasked with controlling guns if *checks notes* you are for controlling guns. Got it. “White House Withdraws David Chipman’s Nomination To Lead ATF. Fierce opposition from gun groups and a handful of Democratic holdouts had stalled the gun control advocate’s nomination in the Senate.”
  • Justice Department Announces Legal Action Against Texas Abortion Ban. Attorney General Merrick Garland said he will pursue legal action against one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the U.S.”
  • Abortion Clinics Are Already Seeing a Wave of Patients Fleeing Texas. Clinics in the states surrounding Texas are scrambling to keep up with a surge of people desperate for abortions.”
  • ‘Roe Baby’ At Center Of Landmark Abortion Case Is Identified For 1st Time. Shelley Lynn Thornton’s birth mother was the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade. Now 51, she revealed her identity for the first time in The Atlantic.”—”Shelley Lynn Thornton, now 51, revealed herself as the so-called “Roe baby” in The Atlantic, which published an excerpt from an upcoming book about her, her birth mother, her half-sisters and the ways their lives unfolded after the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973.” The Family RoeAn American Story [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Joshua Prager, due —”A masterpiece of reporting on the Supreme Court’s most divisive case, Roe v. Wade, and the unknown lives at its heart. Despite her famous pseudonym, ‘Jane Roe,’ no one knows the truth about Norma McCorvey (1947–2017), whose unwanted pregnancy in 1969 opened a great fracture in American life. Journalist Joshua Prager spent hundreds of hours with Norma, discovered her personal papers—a previously unseen trove—and witnessed her final moments. The Family Roe presents her life in full. Propelled by the crosscurrents of sex and religion, gender and class, it is a life that tells the story of abortion in America. Prager begins that story on the banks of Louisiana’s Atchafalaya River where Norma was born, and where unplanned pregnancies upended generations of her forebears. A pregnancy then upended Norma’s life too, and the Dallas waitress became Jane Roe. Drawing on a decade of research, Prager reveals the woman behind the pseudonym, writing in novelistic detail of her unknown life from her time as a sex worker in Dallas, to her private thoughts on family and abortion, to her dealings with feminist and Christian leaders, to the three daughters she placed for adoption. Prager found those women, including the youngest—Baby Roe—now fifty years old. She shares her story in The Family Roe for the first time, from her tortured interactions with her birth mother, to her emotional first meeting with her sisters, to the burden that was uniquely hers from conception. The Family Roe abounds in such revelations—not only about Norma and her children but about the broader “family” connected to the case. Prager tells the stories of activists and bystanders alike whose lives intertwined with Roe. In particular, he introduces three figures as important as they are unknown: feminist lawyer Linda Coffee, who filed the original Texas lawsuit yet now lives in obscurity; Curtis Boyd, a former fundamentalist Christian, today a leading provider of third-trimester abortions; and Mildred Jefferson, the first black female Harvard Medical School graduate, who became a pro-life leader with great secrets. An epic work spanning fifty years of American history, The Family Roe will change the way you think about our enduring American divide: the right to choose or the right to life.”
  • Andrew Yang to launch a third party. The presidential candidate turned New York City mayoral hopeful is no longer identifying as a Democrat.”—”Yang is expected to start the party in conjunction with the Oct. 5 release of his new book, ‘Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy.'” Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy [Amazon] by Andrew Yang, due October 2021—”Despite being written off by the media, Andrew Yang’s shoestring 2020 presidential campaign—powered by his proposal for a universal basic income of $1,000 a month for all Americans—jolted the political establishment, growing into a massive, diverse movement. Now, in Forward, Yang reveals that UBI and the threat of job automation are only the beginning, diagnosing how a series of cascading problems within our antiquated systems keeps us stuck in the past—imperiling our democracy at every level. With America’s stagnant institutions failing to keep pace with technological change, we grow more polarized as tech platforms supplant our will while feasting on our data. Yang introduces us to the various ‘priests of the decline’ of America, including politicians whose incentives have become divorced from the people they supposedly serve. The machinery of American democracy is failing, Yang argues, and we need bold new ideas to rewire it for twenty-first-century problems. Inspired by his experience running for office and as an entrepreneur, and by ideas drawn from leading thinkers, Yang offers a series of solutions, including data rights, ranked-choice voting, and fact-based governance empowered by modern technology, writing that ‘there is no cavalry’—it’s up to us. This is a powerful and urgent warning that we must step back from the brink and plot a new way forward for our democracy.”
  • ‘Halloween Kills’ to Premiere on Peacock and in Theaters on the Same Day“—”“Halloween Kills,” the upcoming entry in Universal’s slasher franchise, will debut on Peacock on the same day as its theatrical release. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis as the avenging teen-babysitter-turned-grandmother Laurie Strode, ‘Halloween Kills’ is scheduled to debut on Oct. 15.” On Peacock.
  • Watch “Dexter: New Blood“, official trailer, 10 episode series on Showtime.
  • Yowie hunter Jason Heal claims he has proof yowies exist in Perth bushland“—”Every weekend Jason Heal scours bushland around Perth in search of a hairy sub-human cryptid. Heal is part of a small but growing community of cryptozoologists hunting for Australia’s version of Bigfoot – the legendary yowie.” “Now as he ramps up his search in Perth he says there is strong evidence that yowies are living in bushland on our urban fringe.”
  • Watch “Malignant“, official trailer 2, cinemas and HBO Max. Also “James Wan’s ‘Malignant’ Scores Day-and-Date Streaming Release in China (Exclusive). The deal is a rare coup for a Hollywood horror movie in China, where such titles rarely clear censorship.” Tweet—”Ok- Malignant was fun as hell, actually. I 100% respect the pure, silly insanity I just watched and encourage you to go in blind if you can.”
  • ‘Shang-Chi’ China Release Unlikely In Wake Of Unearthed Comments By Star Simu Liu; ‘The Eternals’ Hopes In Question.”
  • Watch “Lucifer“, final season trailer, on Netflix
  • Watch “Midnight Mass“, official trailer, on Netflix—”This little island, so sleepy it might be dead. The isolated community on Crockett Island experiences miraculous events – and frightening omens – following the arrival of a charismatic, mysterious young priest. An original series from Mike Flanagan come to Netflix on September, 24th.” “From The Haunting of Hill House creator Mike Flanagan, MIDNIGHT MASS tells the tale of a small, isolated island community whose existing divisions are amplified by the return of a disgraced young man (Zach Gilford) and the arrival of a charismatic priest (Hamish Linklater). When Father Paul’s appearance on Crockett Island coincides with unexplained and seemingly miraculous events, a renewed religious fervor takes hold of the community – but do these miracles come at a price?”
  • Watch “Meet The Cast Of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” on Paramount+. Notable new info includes Celia Rose Gooding as Cadet Uhura, Jess Bush as Nurse Christine Chapel, Babs Olusanmokun as Dr M’Benga, Bruce Horak as Hemmer (Pour one out for Jeffrey “I played 8 different characters across three Star Trek series” Combs’ Shran who might have been part of the crew if Enterprise had continued) and more, but, hold on to your hats, Christina Chong as La’an Noonien-Singh?! Holy moley! Whut? KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!
  • Watch “Star Trek: Picard, season 2 Star Trek Day trailer, on Paramount+. Wait. Is this a metaphor? “Q went back in time and turned our world into a totalitarian nightmare.” I mean.
  • 4 days to go: “A Humble Exclusive: RED SCREEN by Stephen King“—”RED hot off the press, a Stephen King exclusive short story: Red Screen. We’ve teamed up with legendary author Stephen King for a once in a lifetime opportunity. Presenting, Red Screen, a never before published work, exclusively available through Humble Bundle. In this unsettling short story, a cop interrogates a deranged plumber who just murdered his wife, only to discover something far more insidious. Pay what you want, and support the ACLU.”
  • How I Write Generators“—”a post about my methods for creating random tables/generators. Here it is!” “I’m always referring to my “Aspects” table, which is the “periodic table” of my generators. Having something like this is very useful because whatever topic you are making a generator or table for, it gives you a base guide for ideas.” “Because I don’t have it in me to do a d40 tables for every part of the generator I have ripped one column from my aspect table and will use that as an inspiration for a bunch of d10 tables. Hopefully you can see how I used each of these as a base for inspiration in the other tables.”
  • On Stage to Online: In a virtual avatar performing arts can be enjoyed from one’s home, but can it entirely replace the stage experience?“—”The call starts with “How are you? Do you have any special concerns or reasons for happiness?” When one replies, the person on the other end reciprocates with an evenly-balanced dialogue for the next 15 minutes. Picking up on the issues raised, the ‘poet-doctor’ reads one verse of poems related to the conversation. The verses are selected from a collection compiled as ‘Poetic Vidal’—in reference to the Vidal compendium of pharmaceutical drugs which doctors consult when prescribing medication for patients. Poetic Vidal has more than 300 poems of William Blake, Samuel Beckett, Maya Angelou, William Butler Yeats, Leonard Cohen and many more, arranged according to subjects related to love, travelling, loneliness, happiness and childhood. Once the poet-doctor has read the poems, he/she draws up a poetry prescription for the person. For example, twice a day, reads two excerpts from the Mahabharata or verses by Verlaine—the texts are sent by email. These one-on-one interactions between patients and actors by reading a selected poem is a therapeutic initiative by prominent Paris playhouse Théâtre de la Ville to keep its artistes working while the theatres remain dark.”
  • Pour one out for Benjamin. “Tasmanian Tiger in Colour. 1933 Thylacine Footage Colourised. Samuel François-Steininger has colourised footage from the NFSA collection of Benjamin, the last Tasmanian Tiger in captivity.”—”The thylacine is a carnivorous marsupial that was once widespread across Australia. It’s thought to have disappeared from the mainland about 3,000 years ago, with a population surviving on the island of Tasmania until the 20th century. When European settlers arrived, the creature was considered a pest and hunted extensively, until the last known specimen died in Hobart Zoo in 1936. It’s this last thylacine, named Benjamin, that most of us are familiar with, courtesy of a few minutes of grainy, black-and-white video. So now, the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) of Australia has had some of this footage professionally colorized.” Watch “Tasmanian Tiger in Colour“—”The NFSA has released colourised footage of the last known surviving Tasmanian tiger – or Thylacine – for National Threatened Species Day. Read more about how this black and white footage has been given a new life.”
  • Blues Clues was after my time, but I knew about it, tangentially, of course. But, watch the video at this tweet—”So about that time Steve went off to college… #BluesClues25″. All the feels.

Why are “smart” TVs so fucking stupid? Example the first.

I have a 4K TV. It happens to be one with Amazon’s Fire TV UI. Here’s how the new UI currently appears on my screen.

Amazon Fire TV UI

Wow, lots of stuff on there! But, out of all of that, here’s the useful part, and the ONLY PART of it that I actually use.

Amazon Fire TV UI Useful Part

Yeah. And, it takes no less than 4 clicks (unless it went into sleep mode again, then add a click) on the remote just to get to the FIRST useful thing on the screen, which is one the smallest elements in a tiny section of the UI.

Fucking stupid.

Omnium Gatherum: 8sept2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for September 8, 2021

Here’s a variety of notable things I’ve recently found that you may also be interested in checking out:

  • Since I’ve previously mentioned Crawford book Atlas of AI, here’s something of a counterpoint: Tweet thread—”I can’t speak to @datasociety bc I avoided it like the plague after noticing the extractive and toxic nature of @katecrawford behavior. I can say that her practice of taking other people’s work as her own has been an open secret for years. 1/”
  • From 2008: Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Paul A Offit—”Vaccines save millions of lives every year, and one man, Maurice Hilleman, was responsible for nine of the big fourteen. Paul Offit recounts his story and the story of vaccines. Maurice Hilleman discovered nine vaccines that practically every child gets, rendering formerly dread diseases—including often devastating ones such as mumps and rubella—practically forgotten. Paul A. Offit, a vaccine researcher himself, befriended Hilleman and, during the great man’s last months, interviewed him extensively about his life and career. Offit makes an eloquent and compelling case for Hilleman’s importance, arguing that, like Jonas Salk, his name should be known to everyone. But Vaccinated is also enriched and enlivened by a look at vaccines in the context of modern medical science and history, ranging across the globe and throughout time to take in a fascinating cast of hundreds, providing a vital contribution to the continuing debate over the value of vaccines.”
  • The All-Consuming World [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Cassandra Khaw—”Maya has died and been resurrected into countless cyborg bodies through the years of a long, dangerous career with the infamous Dirty Dozen, the most storied crew of criminals in the galaxy, at least before their untimely and gruesome demise. Decades later, she and her diverse team of broken, diminished outlaws must get back together to solve the mystery of their last, disastrous mission and to rescue a missing and much-changed comrade . . . but they’re not the only ones in pursuit of the secret at the heart of the planet Dimmuborgir. The highly evolved AI of the galaxy have their own agenda and will do whatever it takes to keep humanity from ever regaining control. As Maya and her comrades spiral closer to uncovering the AIs’ vast conspiracy, this band of violent women—half-clone and half-machine—must battle their own traumas and a universe of sapient ageships who want them dead, in order to settle their affairs once and for all. Welcome to The All-Consuming World, the debut novel of acclaimed writer Cassandra Khaw. With this explosive and introspective exploration of humans and machines, life and death, Khaw takes their rightful place next to such science fiction luminaries as Ann Leckie, Ursula Le Guin, and Kameron Hurley.”
  • The Book of Omens: A collection of stories from the dawn of Apocrypha [Publisher] by Bobby Derie, Stephen McQuillan, Jason Schmetzer, Marc Tassin, and Phaedra Weldon, ed. Aviva Schecterson. “The omens in Apocrypha guide a ragtag collection of saints against the horrors of our modern world. In this anthology, we reveal five stories from the early days of Apocrypha, each with a new twist on the game. Enjoy this special look at the world of Apocrypha.” “P.S.: Mike wants me to tell you that the stories in this book are not part of any puzzles.”
  • Praise Boss!, by Joseph Grim Feinberg, a play based on Ernest Riebe’s comic character Mr Block, introduction Anna Hoyles, cover art by Vlocke, due December 2021—”Some people are born by mistake, some become mistakes, and some have mistakes thrust upon them. With Mr. Block, it’s a little of all three. Made infamous by Joe Hill’s eponymous song and Ernest Riebe’s cartoons, Mr. Block has written himself into labor history as the working class’s biggest blockhead. Why? Because he believes that the wage system is basically good and the bosses have his best interests at heart. At any rate it’s true that his heart is full of the bosses’ best interests. Even when he’s hit rock bottom he still thinks that if he works just a little harder he can finally make it to the top. And if hard work doesn’t work, then why not take inspiration from the bosses themselves and try making it some other way? In this new play, Mr. Block believes a slanderous rumor, which gives him the absurd idea that the way to a boss’s heart is through her heart. Will Block’s hardheaded attempts to woo her ever get him into her good graces, or even into her bad ones? Will he have any love left over for his fellow workers? Find out in Praise Boss!”
  • Those Who Can Do. Rewriting the history of literary studies, from inside the classroom.” About The Teaching Archive: A New History for Literary Study [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Rachel Sagner Buurma and Laura Heffernan—”The Teaching Archive shows us a series of major literary thinkers in a place we seldom remember them inhabiting: the classroom. Rachel Sagner Buurma and Laura Heffernan open up “the teaching archive”—the syllabuses, course descriptions, lecture notes, and class assignments—of critics and scholars including T. S. Eliot, Caroline Spurgeon, I. A. Richards, Edith Rickert, J. Saunders Redding, Edmund Wilson, Cleanth Brooks, Josephine Miles, and Simon J. Ortiz. This new history of English rewrites what we know about the discipline by showing how students helped write foundational works of literary criticism and how English classes at community colleges and HBCUs pioneered the reading methods and expanded canons that came only belatedly to the Ivy League. It reminds us that research and teaching, which institutions often imagine as separate, have always been intertwined in practice. In a contemporary moment of humanities defunding, the casualization of teaching, and the privatization of pedagogy, The Teaching Archive offers a more accurate view of the work we have done in the past and must continue to do in the future.”
  • David Graeber Was Right: A Debt Free World Is Possible. Mass debt cancellation isn’t a myth; we’re already doing it.” By Andrew Ross, author of Creditocracy and the Case for Debt Refusal [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”It seems like pretty much everybody – homeowners, students, those who are ill and without health insurance, and, of course, credit card holders – is up to their neck in debt that can never be repaid. 77% of US households are seriously indebted and one in seven Americans has been pursued by debt collectors. The major banks are bigger and more profitable than before the 2008 crash, and legislators are all but powerless to bring them to heel. In this forceful, eye-opening survey, Andrew Ross contends that we are in the cruel grip of a creditocracy – where the finance industry commandeers our elected governments and where the citizenry have to take out loans to meet their basic needs. The implications of mass indebtedness for any democracy are profound, and history shows that whenever a creditor class becomes as powerful as Wall Street, the result has been debt bondage for the bulk of the population. Following in the ancient tradition of the jubilee, activists have had some success in repudiating the debts of developing countries. The time is ripe, Ross argues, for a debtors’ movement to use the same kinds of moral and legal arguments to bring relief to household debtors in the North. After examining the varieties of lending that have contributed to the crisis, Ross suggests ways of lifting the burden of illegitimate debts from our backs. Just as important, Creditocracy outlines the kind of alternative economy we need to replace a predatory debt-money system that only benefits the 1%.” Partly about Debt: The First 5,000 Years [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by David Graeber—”The groundbreaking international best-seller that turns everything you think about money, debt, and society on its head—from the “brilliant, deeply original political thinker” David Graeber (Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things to Me). Before there was money, there was debt. For more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors—which lives on in full force to this day. So says anthropologist David Graeber in a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Renaissance Italy to Imperial China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like ‘guilt,’ ‘sin,’ and ‘redemption’) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today.”
  • More about this: “Read It and Weep: Margaret Atwood on the Intimidating, Haunting Intellect of Simone de Beauvoir.” About Inseparable: A Never-Before-Published Novel [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Simone de Beauvoir, trans. Sandra Smith, introduction by Margaret Atwood—”A never-before-published novel by the iconic Simone de Beauvoir of an intense and vivid girlhood friendship. From the moment Sylvie and Andrée meet in their Parisian day school, they see in each other an accomplice with whom to confront the mysteries of girlhood. For the next ten years, the two are the closest of friends and confidantes as they explore life in a post-World War One France, and as Andrée becomes increasingly reckless and rebellious, edging closer to peril. Sylvie, insightful and observant, sees a France of clashing ideals and religious hypocrisy—and at an early age is determined to form her own opinions. Andrée, a tempestuous dreamer, is inclined to melodrama and romance. Despite their different natures they rely on each other to safeguard their secrets while entering adulthood in a world that did not pay much attention to the wills and desires of young women. Deemed too intimate to publish during Simone de Beauvoir’s life, Inseparable offers fresh insight into the groundbreaking feminist’s own coming-of-age; her transformative, tragic friendship with her childhood friend Zaza Lacoin; and how her youthful relationships shaped her philosophy. Sandra Smith’s vibrant translation of the novel will be long cherished by de Beauvoir devotees and first-time readers alike.”
  • Lauren Groff and Rebecca Makkai Talk Literary Ethics, the Loneliness of Bodies, and Writerly Friendship.” About Matrix [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Lauren Groff—”Cast out of the royal court by Eleanor of Aquitaine, deemed too coarse and rough-hewn for marriage or courtly life, seventeen-year-old Marie de France is sent to England to be the new prioress of an impoverished abbey, its nuns on the brink of starvation and beset by disease. At first taken aback by the severity of her new life, Marie finds focus and love in collective life with her singular and mercurial sisters. In this crucible, Marie steadily supplants her desire for family, for her homeland, for the passions of her youth with something new to her: devotion to her sisters, and a conviction in her own divine visions. Marie, born the last in a long line of women warriors and crusaders, is determined to chart a bold new course for the women she now leads and protects. But in a world that is shifting and corroding in frightening ways, one that can never reconcile itself with her existence, will the sheer force of Marie’s vision be bulwark enough? Equally alive to the sacred and the profane, Matrix gathers currents of violence, sensuality, and religious ecstasy in a mesmerizing portrait of consuming passion, aberrant faith, and a woman that history moves both through and around. Lauren Groff’s new novel, her first since Fates and Furies, is a defiant and timely exploration of the raw power of female creativity in a corrupted world.”
  • Yanis Varoufakis on Alternatives to Techno-Feudal Capitalism.” Podcast episode with guest Yanis Varoufakis, author of Another Now [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”What would a fair and equal society actually look like? The world-renowned economist and bestselling author Yanis Varoufakis presents his radical and subversive answer in a work of speculative fiction that recalls William Morris and William Gibson. The year: 2035. At a funeral for Iris, a revolutionary leftist feminist, Yango is approached by Costa, Iris’s closest comrade, who urges him to carry out Iris’s last wish: plough into her secret diaries to tell their story. “But”, Costa insists ‘leave out anything that might help Big Tech replicate my technologies!’ That night Yango delves into Iris’s diaries. In them he discovers a chronicle of how Costa’s revolutionary technologies had unveiled an actually existing, fully democratized, postcapitalist society. Suddenly he understands Costa’s obsession with the hackers trying to steal his secrets. So begins Yanis Varoufakis’s extraordinary novelistic thought-experiment, where the world-famous economist offers an invigorating and deeply moving vision of an alternative reality. Another Now tells the story of Costa, a brilliant but deeply disillusioned, computer engineer, who creates a revolutionary technology that will allow the user a “glimpse of a life beyond their dreams” but will not enslave them. But an accident during one of its trial runs unveils a cosmic wormhole where Costa meets his DNA double, who is living in a 2025 very different than the one Costa is living in. In this parallel 2025 a global hi-tech uprising, begun in the wake of the collapse of 2008, has birthed a post-capitalist world in which work, money, land, digital networks and politics have been truly democratized. Banks have been eliminated, as well as predatory, data-mining digital monopolies; the gig economy is no more; and the young are free to experiment with different careers and to study ‘non-lucrative topics, from Sumerian pottery to astrophysics.’ Intoxicated, Costa travels to England to tell Iris, his old comrade, and her neighbor, Eva, a recovering banker turned neoliberal economics professor, of the parallel universe he has discovered. Costa eventually leads them back to his workshop in America where Iris and Eva meet their own doubles, and confront hard truths about themselves and the daunting political challenge that “the Other Now” presents. But, as their obsession with the Other Now deepens, time begins to run out, as the wormhole begins to deteriorate and hackers begin to unleash new attacks on Costa’s technology. The trio have to make a choice: which 2025 do they want to live in? Varoufakis has been claiming for a while that we already live in postcapitalist times. That, since the 2008 crisis, capitalism has been morphing into technofeudalism. Another Now, a riveting work of speculative fiction, shows that there is a realistic, democratic alternative to the technofeudalpostcapitalist dystopia taking shape all around us. It also confronts us with the greatest question: how far are we willing to go to bring it about?” And Talking to My Daughter About the Economy: or, How Capitalism Works—and How It Fails [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”In Talking to My Daughter About the Economy, activist Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s former finance minister and the author of the international bestseller Adults in the Room, pens a series of letters to his young daughter, educating her about the business, politics, and corruption of world economics. Yanis Varoufakis has appeared before heads of nations, assemblies of experts, and countless students around the world. Now, he faces his most important—and difficult—audience yet. Using clear language and vivid examples, Varoufakis offers a series of letters to his young daughter about the economy: how it operates, where it came from, how it benefits some while impoverishing others. Taking bankers and politicians to task, he explains the historical origins of inequality among and within nations, questions the pervasive notion that everything has its price, and shows why economic instability is a chronic risk. Finally, he discusses the inability of market-driven policies to address the rapidly declining health of the planet his daughter’s generation stands to inherit. Throughout, Varoufakis wears his expertise lightly. He writes as a parent whose aim is to instruct his daughter on the fundamental questions of our age—and through that knowledge, to equip her against the failures and obfuscations of our current system and point the way toward a more democratic alternative.”
  • The Surprisingly Big Business of Library E-books. Increasingly, books are something that libraries do not own but borrow from the corporations that do.”—”The sudden shift to e-books had enormous practical and financial implications, not only for OverDrive but for public libraries across the country. Libraries can buy print books in bulk from any seller that they choose, and, thanks to a legal principle called the first-sale doctrine, they have the right to lend those books to any number of readers free of charge. But the first-sale doctrine does not apply to digital content. For the most part, publishers do not sell their e-books or audiobooks to libraries—they sell digital distribution rights to third-party venders, such as OverDrive, and people like Steve Potash sell lending rights to libraries. These rights often have an expiration date, and they make library e-books ‘a lot more expensive, in general, than print books’” Michelle Jeske, who oversees Denver’s public-library system, told me. Digital content gives publishers more power over prices, because it allows them to treat libraries differently than they treat other kinds of buyers. Last year, the Denver Public Library increased its digital checkouts by more than sixty per cent, to 2.3 million, and spent about a third of its collections budget on digital content, up from twenty per cent the year before.”
  • “Call me a pedant, but I think of a library as a place that houses books. Books which educated opinion deems us to be the better, intellectually and spiritually, for having read. If you wonder who should be given the responsibility of deciding which those books are, wonder no more. I will do it. So call me paternalistic as well. … Don’t mistake me for a puritan. I like the lunacy of libraries. … Don’t give libraries a penny, I say, until they present themselves once more as palaces of bookish learning, for the behoof of the studious and the deranged alike.”—Howard Jacobson, Whatever It Is, I Don’t Like It (New York: Bloomsbury, 2011), pp. 10-11, quoted at Public Libraries.
  • From 2020: “Covid vaccine technology pioneer: ‘I never doubted it would work’. Katalin Karikó’s mRNA research helped pave way for Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna’s successful work.”—”The Hungarian-born biochemist who helped pioneer the research behind the mRNA technology used in the two Covid-19 vaccines showing positive results believes it was always a no-brainer. ‘I never doubted it would work,’ Katalin Karikó told the Guardian. ‘I had seen the data from animal studies, and I was expecting it. I always wished that I would live long enough to see something that I’ve worked on be approved.’ This month has been the pinnacle of Karikó’s lifelong work researching mRNA, or messenger ribonucleic acid. The 65-year-old, who left Hungary in 1985 to pursue an academic career in the US with her husband, toddler and just £900 hidden in a teddy bear, has now been suggested as a possible Nobel prize winner.”
  • Analysis unlocks secret of the Vinland Map — it’s a fake“—”The Vinland Map, once hailed as the earliest depiction of the New World, is awash in 20th-century ink. A team of conservators and conservation scientists at Yale has found compelling new evidence for this conclusion through the most thorough analysis yet performed on the infamous parchment map.” “‘The Vinland Map is a fake,’ said Raymond Clemens, curator of early books and manuscripts at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, which houses the map. ‘There is no reasonable doubt here. This new analysis should put the matter to rest.'”
  • Ancient humans turned elephant remains into a surprising array of bone tools“—”Ancient humans could do some impressive things with elephant bones. In a new study, University of Colorado Boulder archaeologist Paola Villa and her colleagues surveyed tools excavated from a site in Italy where large numbers of elephants had died. The team discovered that humans at this site roughly 400,000 years ago appropriated those carcasses to produce an unprecedented array of bone tools—some crafted with sophisticated methods that wouldn’t become common for another 100,000 years.”
  • Genetic patterns offer clues to evolution of homosexuality. Massive study finds that genetic markers associated with same-sex encounters might aid reproduction. But some scientists question the conclusions.”
  • Scientists Discover Tiny Tardigrades Trot Around Like Insects. The microscopic organism’s gait may have evolved to adapt to unpredictable terrains.”
  • A transient radio source consistent with a merger-triggered core collapse supernova“—”A core collapse supernova occurs when exothermic fusion ceases in the core of a massive star, which is typically caused by exhaustion of nuclear fuel. Theory predicts that fusion could be interrupted earlier by merging of the star with a compact binary companion. We report a luminous radio transient, VT J121001+495647, found in the Very Large Array Sky Survey. The radio emission is consistent with supernova ejecta colliding with a dense shell of material, potentially ejected by binary interaction in the centuries before explosion. We associate the supernova with an archival x-ray transient, which implies that a relativistic jet was launched during the explosion. The combination of an early relativistic jet and late-time dense interaction is consistent with expectations for a merger-driven explosion.” Also “Star-smash supernova? New type of stellar explosion possibly seen. ‘A merger-triggered supernova, I think, is just scratching the surface of what’s possible.'”
  • International Space Station facing irreparable failures, Russia warns. The International Space Station (ISS) could suffer ‘irreparable’ failures due to outdated equipment and hardware, a Russian official has warned.”
  • Rice physicists find ‘magnon’ origins in 2D magnet. Topological feature could prove useful for encoding information in electron spins. Rice physicists have confirmed the topological origins of magnons, magnetic features they discovered three years ago in a 2D material that could prove useful for encoding information in the spins of electrons.”
  • New molecular device has unprecedented reconfigurability reminiscent of brain plasticity“—”In a discovery published in the journal Nature, an international team of researchers has described a novel molecular device with exceptional computing prowess. Reminiscent of the plasticity of connections in the human brain, the device can be reconfigured on the fly for different computational tasks by simply changing applied voltages. Furthermore, like nerve cells can store memories, the same device can also retain information for future retrieval and processing.”
  • A neuroscientist shares the 6 exercises she does every day to build resilience and mental strength“—”1. Visualize positive outcomes … 2. Turn anxiety into progress … 3. Try something new … 4. Reach out … 5. Practice positive self-tweeting … 6. Immerse yourself in nature …”
  • I taught myself to lucid dream. You can too. We still don’t know much about the experience of being aware that you’re dreaming—but a few researchers think it could help us find out more about how the brain works.”
  • Female Hummingbirds Who Look Like Males Avoid Harassment, Get More Time To Eat. For the white-necked jacobin hummingbird, looking like a male comes with big perks.”
  • Why can’t it be both?! “How the Cat Gets Its Stripes: It’s Genetics, Not a Folk Tale. Researchers took a deep dive into embryonic development to tease out the source of the tabby pattern in cats.”
  • Ugh. Not now animorphs! “Animals are ‘shape shifting’ in response to climate change“—”Some warm-blooded animals are experiencing shifts in their body shapes, likely as a response to the pressures of climate change, according to a new review of existing research. Animals are getting larger beaks, legs and ears that allow them to better regulate their body temperatures as the planet gets hotter, with birds particularly affected, said Sara Ryding, a researcher at Deakin University in Australia and one of the authors of the research that published on Tuesday in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution. The biggest shifts in appendage size in the more than 30 animals they looked at in the review were among some Australian parrot species, which saw their beak size increase by 4% to 10% on average since 1871.”
  • No, on second thought, you go, animals. Adapt as quickly as you can! “Nearly 30% of 138,000 assessed species are facing extinction, group warns“—”A top international conservation agency warned that 28% of the 138,374 species identified on its “survival watchlist” as being under threat have now been moved to the more dangerous ‘red list’ — meaning they are at high risk of extinction.”
  • Lower-dose chemotherapy can be made more effective in killing HPV-induced cervical cancer cells by inhibiting a key survival factor. SMU study suggests that inhibiting the TIGAR protein is key to new treatment strategy for virus-induced cancers.”
  • Perseverance rover successfully collects first Martian sample“—”While we were enjoying the weekend, the Perseverance rover was hard at work making history on Mars. New images with better lighting reveal that the rover did, in fact, successfully collect a Martian rock sample last week. After processing and sealing, it’s the first Mars rock core sample to be stowed on the rover. It’s one of more than 30 Martian samples that will be returned to Earth by future missions in the early 2030s — and they could reveal if microbial life ever existed on Mars.” Also “Mars Rover Perseverance Appears to Have Grabbed Its First Rock Sample.”
  • Why is the color blue so rare in nature? Feeling blue? That color isn’t as common as you may think.”
  • PPPL physicist helps confirm a major advance in stellarator performance for fusion energy“—”Stellarators, twisty magnetic devices that aim to harness on Earth the fusion energy that powers the sun and stars, have long played second fiddle to more widely used doughnut-shaped facilities known as tokamaks. The complex twisted stellarator magnets have been difficult to design and have previously allowed greater leakage of the superhigh heat from fusion reactions. Now scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP), working in collaboration with researchers that include the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), have shown that the Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) device in Greifswald, Germany, the largest and most advanced stellarator in the world, is capable of confining heat that reaches temperatures twice as great as the core of the sun.”
  • Tales From the Dark Side: The Dark Tetrad of Personality, Supernatural, and Scientific Belief“—”Theories such as the psychodynamic functions hypothesis, attribution theory, and the just world theory have been used to explain different types of supernatural belief. This study aims to examine “dark” personality traits and how they link to different beliefs using the Dark Tetrad. The Dark Tetrad” comprises narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadism. Relationships have been found between dark personality traits and religious belief, but no studies have examined the Dark Triad or Tetrad and paranormal and scientific belief directly. An opportunity sample of 199 participants completed an online survey including scales measuring Dark Tetrad traits, religious and paranormal belief, and belief in science. Path analysis revealed five significant relationships. Belief in psychokinesis was negatively related to Machiavellianism, as was belief in common paranormal perceptions, which was also positively related to psychopathy. Religious belief was negatively related to psychopathy but positively related to sadism. Findings suggest some links between Dark Tetrad traits and elements of supernatural belief. The unexpected positive relationship between religiosity and sadism indicate that religious believers believe in a just world where people get what they deserve. These findings indicate that religious and paranormal experience, and dark personality are avenues for future research.”
  • Stunning image shows dark tendrils masking giant Centaurus A galaxy near Earth.”—”Scientists have captured a stunning new image of a massive galaxy ringed by dust filaments. In the image, Centaurus A, which is located more than 12 million light-years away from Earth in the southern constellation Centaurus (the centaur), ripples across space. The galaxy, which was first identified in 1826, is among the best studied in the southern sky because it is so bright and relatively close to Earth. In the image, although stars glow, swaths of the galaxy are hidden by dust tendrils looping around the galaxy’s center, where a supermassive black hole containing 55 million times the mass of the sun, hides and spews out a jet of matter that acts as a bright source of radio light.”
  • Yale researchers discover healing effects of psychedelic drug. Researchers find that one dose of psilocybin results in roughly a 10 percent increase in neuron size and density in mouse brains.”—”Yale researchers found that a single dose of the naturally occurring psychedelic compound psilocybin can cause structural changes in the brain that counteract symptoms of depression. In a paper published in the journal Neuron on Aug. 18, researchers at the Yale School of Medicine presented evidence that administering this drug to mice resulted in an approximately 10 percent increase in neuron size and density in the frontal cortex of the brain. Led by postdoctoral associate Lingxiao Shao and associate professor of psychiatry and neuroscience Alex Kwan, the team found that this ‘structural remodeling’ occurred within 24 hours of the drug administration and persisted for one month, indicating that psilocybin made long-lasting changes in the brain. ‘Psilocybin is fascinating because it has an incredibly short half-life, which means that it gets out of the body quickly and yet has long-lasting behavioral effects,’ Kwan said. ‘We’ve seen that psilocybin can be effective in treating depression and other neuropsychiatric disorders. In this study, we wanted to investigate this mystery by observing individual connections in the mouse brain.'”
  • Ugh. Not now cosmic-scale Hedorah! “Cosmic Pollution: Astronomers Show Galaxies Pump Out Contaminated Exhausts“—”Galaxies pollute the environment they exist in, researchers have found. A team of astronomers led by Alex Cameron and Deanne Fisher from the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) used a new imaging system on at the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii to confirm that what flows into a galaxy is a lot cleaner than what flows out.”
  • From the IP-over-Pidgeons dept: “An ‘Internet apocalypse’ could ride to Earth with the next solar storm, new research warns. The underwater cables that connect nations could go offline for months, the study warns.”
  • Twitch viewership noticeably dropped when streamers took a day off in protest” Twitch viewership noticeably dropped when streamers took a day off in protest. It seems as if the Twitch walkout was a success.”
  • The disastrous voyage of Satoshi, the world’s first cryptocurrency cruise ship. Last year, three cryptocurrency enthusiasts bought a cruise ship. They named it the Satoshi, and dreamed of starting a floating libertarian utopia. It didn’t work out.”
  • From the Arcosanti dept: “Plans for $400-billion new city in the American desert unveiled“—”The cleanliness of Tokyo, the diversity of New York and the social services of Stockholm: Billionaire Marc Lore has outlined his vision for a 5-million-person “new city in America” and appointed a world-famous architect to design it. Now, he just needs somewhere to build it — and $400 billion in funding. The former Walmart executive last week unveiled plans for Telosa, a sustainable metropolis that he hopes to create, from scratch, in the American desert. The ambitious 150,000-acre proposal promises eco-friendly architecture, sustainable energy production and a purportedly drought-resistant water system.”
  • From the Synthetic Pleasures dept: Watch “Las Vegas is Building the World’s Largest Sphere“, or read “Las Vegas is Building the World’s Largest Sphere“—”Known as the MSG Sphere, the USD $1.8BN spherical entertainment venue will stand 112-metres tall, contain 17,500 seats and feature the largest and highest-resolution LED screen in the world – that’s 19,000 x 13,500 pixels in case you were wondering. The screen covers an area larger than three football fields, wrapping up, over and behind the stage to give the audience a fully immersive experience that’s 100 times clearer than today’s best HD TVs. Outside, the building will be fitted with 54,000 square metres of programmable lighting giving those outside a show of their own.”
  • Facebook Apologizes After Its AI Labels Black Men As ‘Primates’“—”Facebook issued an apology on behalf of its artificial intelligence software that asked users watching a video featuring Black men if they wanted to see more “videos about primates.” The social media giant has since disabled the topic recommendation feature and says it’s investigating the cause of the error, but the video had been online for more than a year.” Tweet—If you want AI’s racist, sexist, transphobic, ableist, & otherwise bigoted & oppressive outcomes to stop, then you need to change: Your training sets; Your dev teams; Your managers; Your CEO’s; Your funding; Your research questions; Your aims; Your Beliefs; Your Values.”
  • In the future, you’ll share your work with robots… unless you’re a woman. A job is an important part of how we find happiness in our lives (even if we don’t always enjoy the work). But what if the machines start doing everything for us? Helen Russell finds out if our working days are numbered.”—”As well as driving us to work more, COVID-19 has also accelerated the move towards automation and artificial intelligence, especially for jobs with high physical proximity – from Amazon developing delivery drones to self-driving cabs. By 2050, economist Dr Carl Frey and Michael Osborne, a professor of machine learning, both at the University of Oxford, predict that at least 40 per cent of current jobs will be lost to automation, while management consultancy firm McKinsey puts the figure at 50 per cent. There are exceptions. Jobs that involve complex social interactions are beyond current robot skills: so teaching, social care, nursing and counselling are all likely to survive the AI revolution. As are jobs that rely on creativity. The same also goes for cleaning jobs, according to Frey and Osborne, due to the multitude of different objects cleaners encounter and the variety of ways those objects need to be dealt with. Interestingly, areas of the workplace traditionally dominated by women won’t be so easily adopted by AI. Nor can robots pick up the ‘second shift’ – with women still shouldering three-quarters of all unpaid care work and doing 40 per cent more household chores according to the ONS. Robots are unlikely to assist in the ‘work’ of childrearing, preparing lunchboxes and doing the laundry.”
  • The Masked Professor vs. the Unmasked Student. At universities, some instructors are finding the return to the classroom a nerve-racking experience. A few have quit — one in the middle of class.”
  • University of Mississippi Faculty Senate Votes To Mandate COVID Vaccines“—”An 89% majority of the University of Mississippi Faculty Senate voted this evening in favor of a resolution urging the administration to implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all students, faculty and staff. Only six of the body’s 54 members voted against the resolution during the Tuesday evening meeting, most of them representing the UM School of Business. Faculty members representing the school’s pharmacy and biology departments voted overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution, noting that ‘the University of Mississippi has an obligation to protect the life, health, and well-being of its students, faculty, staff, and surrounding communities.'”
  • COVID Won’t Change Higher Ed, but Anti-racism Might. Racial-justice movements in higher education offer a template for how to dislodge education’s focus on entrenching prestige.”
  • New research reveals what living with COVID-19 could look like into 2022“—”New research suggests states should move away from a COVID-19 elimination strategy. Epidemiologist Catherine Bennett says easing restrictions should not be used as a reward. She says some restrictions will be in place until the first half of 2022”
  • Pandemic once again disrupts plans for Jewish High Holy Days. At many synagogues, there will be a mix of in-person services, including indoor and outdoor options, and virtual offerings for people staying home.”
  • 3rd conservative radio host who condemned vaccines dies of Covid. Marc Bernier was a mainstay on talk radio in Daytona.”—”A conservative Florida radio host who spoke out against Covid-19 vaccines died after a weekslong fight with the virus, marking the third radio personality to die from coronavirus who publicly rejected vaccines.” “On Aug. 4, another Florida conservative radio host who had criticized the coronavirus vaccine, Dick Farrel, died from Covid-19 complications. … But the Post also reports that Farrel had changed his stance on vaccines after he became infected with Covid-19. He had reportedly urged a longtime friend to get the vaccine and regretted not getting it himself.” “Last week, Phil Valentine, a 62-year-old conservative radio host in Nashville, Tenn., who had questioned the necessity of vaccines, also died from the virus. … But like Farrel, he had reportedly changed his position on vaccines after contracting Covid-19. The radio station he was affiliated with, 99.7 WTN, posted a statement on July 23 that Valentine had been hospitalized and ‘regrets not being more vehemently ‘Pro-Vaccine.””
  • Ugh. Not now panspermia! “Viruses may exist ‘elsewhere in the universe’, warns scientist. Prof Paul Davies suggests viruses may form vital part of ecosystems on other planets.” Also, Ripley was right. Don’t break containment.
  • Tweet thread—”This is a good point. When anti-vaxxers cite their freedoms, constitutional rights, and–the whitest thing of all–the Founding Fathers to rail against vaccine mandates, do they know what they’re talking about? What if I told you this happens EXACTLY every 100 years? A thread.”
  • Timothy Leary’s Castalia Foundation Has Been Co-opted to Promote Conspiracy Theories about COVID and Elite Pedophile Rings. The Castalia Foundation—originally founded in part by Timothy Leary—’resurfaced’ in 2020 with anti-mask content, praise for Donald Trump, and paranoid discussion around the sexual abuse of children.”
  • From the !? dept: “We Have to Talk About Doubt. How to tell the difference between scientific and conspiratorial skepticism.”
  • Are We Serious About Critical Thinking?“—”In 1979 philosopher Douglas Stalker (University of Delaware, now retired) adopted the stage persona Captain Ray of Light, a pseudo-science hawking speaker whose humorous presentations educated his audience about pseudo-science and poor thinking.” “Ironically, the man who once dressed up in a dollar-sign-adorned costume to satirize pseudo-science doesn’t think that we’re ‘serious’ about improving how people think.”
  • “Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.”—Jean-Paul Sarte, Anti-Semite and Jew, quoted at Sartre on far right speaking in bad faith
  • Media Literacy Standards to Counter Truth Decay“—”Truth Decay—the diminishing role that facts, data, and analysis play in political and civic discourse—has in part been fueled by a complex and rapidly evolving media and technology ecosystem. For those interested in countering Truth Decay, media literacy (ML)—the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and act using all forms of communication—has emerged as a potentially powerful tool. But the lack of specificity regarding ML competencies can challenge teachers, policymakers, curriculum developers, advocates, and researchers hoping to understand what kinds of ML education work best and how ML education can be implemented effectively. There is also no shortage of ML-relevant standards. The large number of existing standards can be an additional challenge for stakeholders trying to understand how to define ML for themselves and to determine what competencies are most important to their work. This report, part of the Countering Truth Decay initiative, describes how the authors synthesized myriad existing standards using the lens of Truth Decay—drawing from standards in ML, digital literacy, information literacy, news literacy, social and emotional learning, and other areas—to identify a single, concise set of ML standards.”
  • Mexico’s Supreme Court Votes to Decriminalize Abortion. The ruling, which sets a precedent for the legalization of abortion nationwide, follows years of efforts by a growing women’s movement in Mexico.” Also, uh oh: “Mexico Hit by Powerful EarthquakeMagnitude 7.1 quake struck near the resort city of Acapulco, killing at least one person.”
  • Richmond bar manager ‘praying’ expiration of pandemic unemployment benefits brings people to work.”
  • Inside The Family. Bias, Theocracy, and Lies at the National Prayer Breakfast.”—”For nearly 70 years, and even in this moment of surging Christian nationalism, Democrats and Republicans have set aside their differences once a year to join in an event for fellowship and reconciliation: The National Prayer Breakfast. The breakfast and the secretive religious group behind the scenes, popularly known as The Family, have been the subject of scandal over the years. Most notably, journalist Jeff Sharlet exposed the group’s theocratic, anti-labor origins, and revealed The Family’s role in Ugandan capital punishment legislation for gay people. More recently, the FBI caught Russian operatives using the breakfast to pursue back-channel connections with U.S. politicians. But despite its dealings with international powers, The Family still enjoys the invisibility to which it attributes its influence. We’ve never had a full accounting of who works for The Family or even just who gets to attend the National Prayer Breakfast, let alone who decides. Until now.”
  • Joe Manchin’s Dirty Empire. The West Virginia Senator Reaps Big Financial Rewards From a Network of Coal Companies With Grim Records of Pollution, Safety Violations, and Death.”
  • John Roberts has lost control of the Supreme Court“—”The Supreme Court’s dramatic 5-4 action leaving a Texas abortion ban in place at midnight Wednesday establishes that the Roberts Court no longer is Roberts’ Court. Chief Justice John Roberts dissented with three liberal justices in what could be regarded as the least considered but most consequential case in years. Since Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the court last October and he lost his position at the ideological center of the bench, Roberts has been on the dissenting side in a handful of close cases. But the Texas abortion controversy arguably marked his most significant loss to date.”
  • Republicans Are Using Fear of Eugenics to Attack Reproductive Rights. Cute kids with Down syndrome, like my son, should never be an excuse to deny access to an abortion.”
  • The Legal Minds Who Tried to Overturn the Election for Trump Are Being Welcomed Back Into Polite Society“—”On the right, within the Federalist Society, and even among others who apparently value civility over preserving democracy, some are quietly welcoming back into the fold those who would have stolen the election for Trump or who fomented the violent Jan. 6 insurrection. Most appear to be doing so not because they supported the insurrection or Trump’s ridiculous claims, but out of willful ignorance of the facts, or in the name of civility or free speech. It’s a mistake, and it’s taking us down a dangerous path.”
  • It’s Time to Put the Right-Wing Zombie Death Cult on Trial. This isn’t a ‘both sides’ problem. And Joe Biden is just scratching the surface so far.”
  • How a Small Town Silenced a Neo-Nazi Hate Campaign. A Montana town reflects on its effort to drive former President Donald J. Trump’s extremist supporters back to the fringes.”
  • A Very British Coup? Former Royal Navy Trident Submarine Commander Assesses.”—”Dr Andrew Corbett, of the Joint Services Command and Staff College, delves into evidence that the Government is actively undermining British democracy
  • “Past Imperfect, Part One. Astroturfing History.”—”As the battles of Brexit morph into a culture war, Otto English detects a pattern among the ‘concerned citizens’ demanding Britain ‘takes back control’ of its past.”
  • Tweet—”In a consumerist society where companies are allowed to make pseudoscientific nutritional claims to sell people bogus health products you’re likely to create a culture where everyone thinks they’re an expert on health science, and ignores public health guidance during a pandemic.”
  • Afghanistan’s young musicians, long targeted and persecuted by the Taliban, fear what comes next.” And “Afghan artists flee Kabul, fearing for their lives and dire future for art in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.”
  • ‘I think I’ve accidentally joined a cult’. Alex’s Bible classes started taking over his life. Then he found out who was pulling the strings.”
  • Jim Jarmusch’s Collages.”
  • From the Better to Burn Out than Fade Away dept: “Priests fear bishop is possessed after he falls for writer of satanic erotica. Sources say the Pope told Xavier Novell to undergo an exorcism after he began relationship with author Silvia Caballol and quit his duties.”
  • ‘What is this if not magic?’ The Italian man living as a hobbit. After building his own version of Middle-earth, Nicolas Gentile has thrown a ‘ring’ into Mount Vesuvius.” Also “An Italian pastry chef built his version of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ Shire and has been living like a real-life hobbit for 3 years. Nicolas Gentile, a 37-year-old Italian pastry chef, has been living like a hobbit for three years. He even made a 180-mile trek to Mount Vesuvius to toss a replica of the One Ring into its crater. Members of his group dressed up as the ‘Lord of the Rings’ characters Gimli, Legolas, and Aragorn.”
  • Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke and the Labor of Creativity.”—”Be wary of those who fetishize the difficulties of their own creative process. One does not need to shirk the healthy levels of their own emotional and physical well-being to make a work that would add meaning and clarity to the world. The human life is composed of such limited currency. Spend it wisely, and in pursuit of a balance of passions. Take care of yourself. Such is the contemporary wisdom on work ethic; for the most part a good and healthy redirection of cultural norms. But like any maxim or ideal, it does not apply to all. There are those for whom a life’s balance cannot be struck. Those that, due to whatever mysterious confluence of personal/societal history and chemical composition have created them, for whom work is life. Whether it makes them happy or not. Whether or not they sleep at night satisfied. Their waking moments have been and will continue to be dedicated to that Thing, whatever it may be.”
  • Neologism watch: Girlie Guns! “China Bans Effeminate Men On TV, Part of A Campaign To Tighten Social Control“—”Broadcasters must “resolutely put an end to sissy men and other abnormal esthetics,” the TV regulator said, using an insulting slang term for effeminate men — niang pao, or literally, ‘girlie guns.’ That reflects official concern that Chinese pop stars, influenced by the sleek, girlish look of some South Korean and Japanese singers and actors, are failing to encourage China’s young men to be masculine enough. Broadcasters should avoid promoting ‘vulgar internet celebrities’ and admiration of wealth and celebrity, the regulator said. Instead, programs should ‘vigorously promote excellent Chinese traditional culture, revolutionary culture and advanced socialist culture.'”
  • Gay history exhibit removed from museum at Missouri Capitol“—”The removal amid political pressure of a temporary display in the Missouri Capitol Museum commemorating the struggle for LGBT rights in Kansas City is just the latest example of the Republican war on the truth. Only scared people with small minds feel threatened by historical facts that challenge them to reevaluate what they think they know. The state Capitol belongs to all Missourians, and all Missourians deserve to have their history represented in it. This display must be reinstated immediately.”
  • Virginia high court rules for teacher who won’t use transgender students’ pronouns. The northern Virginia gym teacher said he would not refer to transgender students by the pronouns they use, citing his religious convictions.”
  • Halsey Succinctly Shuts Down An Accusation Of Catholic Cultural Appropriation On Her New Album“—”The cover art of Halsey’s new album If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power certainly generated a lot of attention upon its reveal, largely because it’s so revealing, specifically as it pertains to Halsey’s body. Now it has drawn a bit of criticism, as there’s at least one writer who views the art as cultural appropriation of the Catholic church.” “Halsey caught wind of this on Twitter and made her silent argument by sharing a childhood photo of herself. Based on her outfit and apparent age in the photo, it appears the photo is from Halsey’s first communion or confirmation, two sacraments of initiation in the Catholic church. The implication being made, it would seem, is that Halsey doesn’t believe she is appropriating Catholicism, since she herself had a Catholic upbringing.”
  • ‘They’ve Been Trying To Cancel Me For Years’ Says Star Trek’s Deanna Troi.”
  • Thandiwe Newton Slams Star Wars for Killing off Her Character in Solo. ‘You don’t kill off the first Black woman to ever have a real role in a Star Wars movie. Like, are you fucking joking?'”
  • The New Puritans. Social codes are changing, in many ways for the better. But for those whose behavior doesn’t adapt fast enough to the new norms, judgment can be swift—and merciless.”
  • Michelle Yeoh: ‘Jackie Chan thought women belonged in the kitchen – until I kicked his butt’. The kung fu goddess talks about her most eye-popping stunts, her yearning to do another Crazy Rich Asians, and her outrageously enjoyable new Marvel movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”
  • Watch “Reviving the Aboriginal cultural tradition of possum skin cloaks“—”Possum skin cloaks have been used by Aboriginal people in south-east Australia as an expression of individual identity. But the traditional practice was almost lost after colonisation. Mitch Mahoney, 24, spoke about why he’s helping to drive its resurgence.”
  • Blades in the Dark tabletop RPG being developed for TV. Peaky Blinders mixed with Ocean’s Eleven, seasoned with Gothic horror.”
  • Watch “Life Beyond 3: Official Trailer” from Melodysheep
  • Um. This is both interesting and unnerving. This is basically animal torture. But fascinating? From the Cross of a Frog dept: “I WAS BORN IN A GLASS!” They spent three years trying to hatch chickens outside of their shells.
  • Watch “The Wheel Of Time“, official teaser trailer, coming to Prime Video in December. Also “Amazon’s Wheel of Time show is finally revealed in its first trailer. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.”
  • TwilioQuest. DISCOVER YOUR POWER TO CHANGE THE WORLD WITH CODE. Learn to code and lead your intrepid crew on a mission to save The Cloud in TwilioQuest, a PC role-playing game inspired by classics of the 16-bit era. Free forever, and available now for Windows, Mac, and Linux.”
  • Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator, due Sept 21—”Potion Craft is an alchemist simulator where you physically interact with your tools and ingredients to brew potions. You’re in full control of the whole shop: invent new recipes, attract customers and experiment to your heart’s content. Just remember: the whole town is counting on you.”
  • What started out online Nov 2020: “Dave Grohl VS Nandi Bushell EPIC Drum Battle – Dead End Friends – Them Crooked Vultures – Checkmate!” Became real Aug 2021: “Live Performance Dave Grohl and Nandi Bushell at The Forum LA jamming Everlong with Foo Fighters” (quality is a little low, but it’s film by her father. Here’s a 4k version with better audio.)
  • Watch “How This Heavy Metal Band TRANSFORMED The 70s With This Hard Rock Anthem“—”How Black Sabbath changed radio forever with Paranoid from their second album of the same name. They needed 3 more minutes of music to finish the album. Instead of simply jamming together for 3 inconsequential minutes as their producer suggested, Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward created a track that inadvertently affected the future of rock & roll in the early 70s, Originally they were going to call the album War Pigs.”
  • Watch “Girl, 4, finds colonies of rare stingless bees in California neighborhood“—”A 4-year-old girl with a knack for nature found two colonies of rare stingless bees. Scientists thought these creatures were long gone and that no adult had managed to notice. Dana Jacobson reports from Palo Alto, California.”
  • Samurai, ninja, and anime butlers join dinosaur staff at Tokyo’s ‘Weird Hotel’“—”Say hello to the future of contact-free check-in. If you’re looking for a weird hotel to stay at in Japan, you can’t go past Hen na Hotel, a chain whose name literally translates to ‘Weird Hotel’. What makes their hotels so strange is the fact that instead of humans at the reception desk, guests are greeted by holograms and robot dinosaurs. Now, there’s a new branch opening at Kokubuncho in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, and at this location there are some new “weird” staff members on hand to help guests as well.”
  • Happy Star Trek Day! Watch “Star Trek: Prodigy“, main title sequence, coming to Paramount+. “… STAR TREK: PRODIGY is the first ‘Star Trek’ series aimed at younger audiences and will follow a motley crew of young aliens who must figure out how to work together while navigating a greater galaxy, in search for a better future. These six young outcasts know nothing about the ship they have commandeered – a first in the history of the Star Trek Franchise – but over the course of their adventures together, they will each be introduced to Starfleet and the ideals it represents.”
  • Also for Star Trek Day: Playmobil Star Trek – U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701, $499.99. “Beam us up, Scotty! Discover the impressive U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 in a whole new light with the interactive Star Trek AR app from Playmobil! Explore the legendary starship, with its iconic bridge and engineering. Interact with her famous crew, featuring Captain Kirk, Spock, Uhura, McCoy, Sulu, Scotty and Chekov. Have fun recreating iconic scenes from the original series show, or set off on new adventures. With a removable roof, the entire bridge and crew are playable! Equipped with lighting effects and original sounds and dialogue from the show, you too can join the adventure of the Enterprise’s historic five-year mission. Dimensions: 39.4 x 18.9 x 13.4 in (LxWxH)”
  • Watch “ABBA announce new album Voyage and spectacular new live show“—”With their first new album in 40 years heading to stores on November 5, ABBA give us a detailed look behind the scenes of their groundbreaking new live show ABBA Voyage, due to launch in May 2022.” Watch “ABBA – I Still Have Faith In You.”
  • Watch “The Wave-Soaked Maiden — a Sea Shanty // Songs to Drown Sailors To”—”She said to him, come closer sir, and I’ll eat you alive / Da da da da, da da da da, I’ll eat you alive / Beware the wave-soaked maidens, to whom the depths belong / If you sail upon their waters, then you won’t sail for long.”

Omnium Gatherum: 5sept2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for September 5, 2021

Here’s a variety of notable things I’ve recently found that you may also be interested in checking out:

  • ‘Kill Every Buffalo You Can!’ On the Cruelties of Colonial Power” Excerpt from Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Rupa Marya and Raj Patel—”Raj Patel, the New York Times bestselling author of The Value of Nothing, teams up with physician, activist, and co-founder of the Do No Harm Coalition Rupa Marya to reveal the links between health and structural injustices–and to offer a new deep medicine that can heal our bodies and our world. The Covid pandemic and the shocking racial disparities in its impact. The surge in inflammatory illnesses such as gastrointestinal disorders and asthma. Mass uprisings around the world in response to systemic racism and violence. Rising numbers of climate refugees. Our bodies, societies, and planet are inflamed. Boldly original, Inflamed takes us on a medical tour through the human body—our digestive, endocrine, circulatory, respiratory, reproductive, immune, and nervous systems. Unlike a traditional anatomy book, this groundbreaking work illuminates the hidden relationships between our biological systems and the profound injustices of our political and economic systems. Inflammation is connected to the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the diversity of the microbes living inside us, which regulate everything from our brain’s development to our immune system’s functioning. It’s connected to the number of traumatic events we experienced as children and to the traumas endured by our ancestors. It’s connected not only to access to health care but to the very models of health that physicians practice. Raj Patel, the renowned political economist and New York Times bestselling author of The Value of Nothing, teams up with the physician Rupa Marya to offer a radical new cure: the deep medicine of decolonization. Decolonizing heals what has been divided, reestablishing our relationships with the Earth and one another. Combining the latest scientific research and scholarship on globalization with the stories of Marya’s work with patients in marginalized communities, activist passion, and the wisdom of Indigenous groups, Inflamed points the way toward a deep medicine that has the potential to heal not only our bodies, but the world.”
  • Steve Killelea on the Possibilities of ‘Positive Peace’.” Podcast with guest Steve Killelea, author of Peace in the Age of Chaos: The Best Solution for a Sustainable Future [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”While COVID-19 is reshaping our lives, this must-read book for 2021 provides some of the answers to our most pressing global challenges. Unless the world is basically peaceful, we will never get the trust, cooperation and inclusiveness to solve these issues, yet what creates peace is poorly understood. Working on an aid program in one of the most violent places in the world, North East Kivu in the DR Congo, philanthropist and business leader Steve Killelea asked himself, ‘What are the most peaceful nations?’ Unable to find an answer, he created the world’s leading measure of peace, the Global Peace Index, which receives over 16 billion media impressions annually and has become the definitive go to index for heads of state. Steve Killelea then went on to establish world-renowned think tank, the Institute for Economics and Peace. Today its work is used by organisations such as the World Bank, United Nations and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and taught in thousands of university courses around the world. Peace in the Age of Chaos tells of Steve’s personal journey to measure and understand peace. It explores the practical application of his work, which is gathering momentum at a rapid pace. In this time when we are faced with environmental, social and economic challenges, this book shows us a way forward where Positive Peace, described as creating the optimal environment for human potential to flourish, can lead to a paradigm shift in the ways societies can be managed, making them more resilient and better capable of adapting to their changing environments.”
  • Simone de Beauvoir’s Lost Novel of Early Love. Her passion for a doomed friend was so strong that Beauvoir wrote about it again and again.” About Inseparable: A Never-Before-Published Novel [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Simone de Beauvoir, trans. Sandra Smith, introduction by Margaret Atwood—”A never-before-published novel by the iconic Simone de Beauvoir of an intense and vivid girlhood friendship. From the moment Sylvie and Andrée meet in their Parisian day school, they see in each other an accomplice with whom to confront the mysteries of girlhood. For the next ten years, the two are the closest of friends and confidantes as they explore life in a post-World War One France, and as Andrée becomes increasingly reckless and rebellious, edging closer to peril. Sylvie, insightful and observant, sees a France of clashing ideals and religious hypocrisy—and at an early age is determined to form her own opinions. Andrée, a tempestuous dreamer, is inclined to melodrama and romance. Despite their different natures they rely on each other to safeguard their secrets while entering adulthood in a world that did not pay much attention to the wills and desires of young women. Deemed too intimate to publish during Simone de Beauvoir’s life, Inseparable offers fresh insight into the groundbreaking feminist’s own coming-of-age; her transformative, tragic friendship with her childhood friend Zaza Lacoin; and how her youthful relationships shaped her philosophy. Sandra Smith’s vibrant translation of the novel will be long cherished by de Beauvoir devotees and first-time readers alike.”
  • On the Art of the Query: How the Best Kinds of Questions Move Beyond Objectivity.” About Paper Concert: A Conversation in the Round [Amazon, Bookshop, Local Library] by Amy Wright—”In her opening, Amy Wright explains: ‘This essay anchors a central thread of dialogue over a dizzying divide. It weaves a decades-plus-worth of questions and answers from a range of discussions I’ve had with artists, activists, scientists, philosophers, physicians, priests, musicians, and other representatives of the human population. Some of them are famous, some will be, some should be–but all of them refract the light of the unknowable mystery of the self.’ Folding together conversations from a vast web of thinkers like Dorothy Allison, Rae Armantrout, Gerald Stern, Lia Purpura, Raven Jackson, Wendy Walters, Kimiko Hahn, Philanese Slaughter, and many, many more, Paper Concert depicts every individual as a collective in dire need of preservation. If this book is a paper concert, it is a symphony. Just pull up a chair and listen.”
  • How an Irish Syntactical Peculiarity Helped Me Find My Protagonist’s Voice.” About Moon and the Mars [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Kia Corthron—”In Moon and the Mars, set in the impoverished Five Points district of New York City in the years 1857-1863, we experience neighborhood life through the eyes of Theo from childhood to adolescence, an orphan living between the homes of her Black and Irish grandmothers. Throughout her formative years, Theo witnesses everything from the creation of tap dance to P.T. Barnum’s sensationalist museum to the draft riots that tear NYC asunder, amidst the daily maelstrom of Five Points work, hardship, and camaraderie. Meanwhile, white America’s attitudes towards people of color and slavery are shifting—painfully, transformationally—as the nation divides and marches to war. As with her first novel, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter, which was praised by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Robin D.G. Kelley, and Angela Y. Davis, among many others, Corthron’s use of dialogue brings her characters to life in a way that only an award-winning playwright and scriptwriter can do. As Theo grows and attends school, her language and grammar change, as does her own vocabulary when she’s with her Black or Irish families. It’s an extraordinary feat and a revelation for the reader.”
  • The 100-year-old fiction that predicted today. Two cult authors both wrote about human nature – and the dystopian horrors that technology can unleash. Dorian Lynskey explores the parallel lives of the writers whose work still resonates.” About Karel Čapek’s R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We.
  • Who Was Mary Shelley, Daughter?“—”I am neither daughter, nor mother, all mess, no myth. I am fertile loess floating on the wind, dreaming of […] a world where everyone is equal, deserves to be happy, and feel loved.”
  • “Few things convince a man of the vanity of life more than relocating his library. What am I carrying all this lumber around with me for? Into boxes, out of boxes. Why am I breaking my back for them? Throwing away money on removalists, on shelves. Why am I repeating patterns of ownership that have served me only fitfully in the past?” “How do you explain to somebody who doesn’t understand that you don’t build a library to read. A library is a resource. Something you go to, for reference, as and when. But also something you simply look at, because it gives you succour, answers to some idea of who you are or, more to the point, who you would like to be, who you will be once you own every book you need to own.”—Howard Jacobson, Whatever It Is, I Don’t Like It (New York: Bloomsbury, 2011), pp. 100-101, quoted at Building a Library
  • Drop in Greenhouse Gas Caused Global Cooling 34 Million Years Ago, Study Finds“—”Global warming’s symptoms vary wildly from hurricanes and flooding to desertification and fires. But all come from the buildup of gasses like carbon dioxide. The more carbon dioxide there is in the atmosphere, the warmer the world gets. Now, researchers have shown the opposite is also true.”
  • Thousands of Rare Artifacts Discovered Beneath Tudor Manor’s Attic Floorboards. Among the finds are manuscripts possibly used to perform illegal Catholic masses, silk fragments and handwritten music.”—”As devout Catholics, the Bedingfelds were ostracized for their faith, particularly after Elizabeth I succeeded to the throne in 1558. The year after the Protestant queen’s ascension, Sir Henry Bedingfeld refused to sign the Act of Uniformity, which outlawed Catholic mass, according to the statement. During the Elizabethan period, many Catholic clergy were imprisoned, tortured and killed. The Bedingfelds hid men of the cloth in a secret “priest hole” at their home and participated in secret masses, per the Times. The religious artifacts discovered in the attic may have been used in these illegal services.” Also “Archaeologist discovers rare items under the floor of a Tudor house.
  • An Astronaut Captured the Southern Lights Under a Full Moon and They’re Stunning. An archaeologist working alone through lockdown in the attic rooms of Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk has uncovered one of the largest underfloor archaeology hauls of its type in a National Trust house.”
  • Star Explodes After Black Hole Devours It From the Inside“—”Astronomers have observed the signs of a star swallowing a compact object that they believe is a black hole, and that object then devouring the star’s core from the inside. The process resulted in an explosion that left the star obliterated and the black hole standing alone. The gruesome cosmic event, that occurred in a dwarf star-forming galaxy 480 million light-years from Earth, resulted in a powerful burst of radio energy as bright as one that would normally be associated with an exploding star or supernova. This energetic burst was picked up by the 27 antennae that comprise the Very Large Array (VLA) telescope located in the desert of New Mexico in 2017. What made this signal worthy of further investigation was the fact that it hadn’t been present in earlier radio surveys, indicating a sudden and violent cosmic event had occurred.”
  • “It remains to speak of the single most important feature of his scholarly work, his insistence on context. If one reads his reviews, it is clear that this is his chief critical weapon: does the context in which each piece of evidence is found support the interpretation which the author has given it? In his own work he returns again and again to the question of context as decisive for the meaning and importance of a given fact or quotation. It was a characteristic which he shared with both archaeologists and literary critics, and it saved him from the fate of many polymaths: his work never became a mere jackdaw’s nest of accumulated learning; nor did he construct theories (or allow others to construct theories) based on disparate bits of evidence which, when one examined their context, did not really fit together.”—Zeph Stewart, Introduction to Arthur Darby Nock, Essays on Religion and the Ancient World, Vol. I (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1972), p. 4, quoted at Context.
  • Fighting brain cancer at its root. Overcoming glioblastoma tumours’ resistance to therapy.”—”McGill University researchers identify proteins that drive cancer stem cells. Targeting and supressing a particular protein called galectin1 could provide a more effective treatment for glioblastoma, in combination with radiation therapy. Due to its resistance to therapy, glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive cancerous brain tumour in adults. It grows fast and spreads quickly. While treatments such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy can help ease symptoms for a few months, in most cases tumour cells regrow after treatment and the cancer recurs. According to the researchers, no matter how low the weeds are cut, if the roots are not pulled out, the weeds will just grow back.”
  • Stanford researchers make rechargeable batteries that store six times more charge. A new type of rechargeable alkali metal-chlorine battery developed at Stanford holds six times more electricity than the commercially available rechargeable lithium-ion batteries commonly used today.”
  • From the Sisyphus dept: watch “Introducing Energy Vault“—”Energy Vault launches its breakthrough energy storage system. Our explainer video demonstrates how we intend to power the world by renewable resources with a solution that can compete with fossil fuels.” Also “Watch: Gravity-based renewable energy storage tower for grid-scale operations. Energy Vault secured $100 million in Series C funding for its EVx tower, which stores gravitational potential energy for grid dispatch.”
  • The Persistent Gravity of Cross Platform“—”Each time a cross-platform app has found itself in the crosshairs of the internet, I hear a variant of this question: ‘What is it about enterprise companies that make so many of them abandon native apps, when they could surely afford to develop one app for each platform?’ Well excellent question, synthetic rhetorical person! In practice, the tradeoff is about more than ‘cheap vs. good’. Unintuitively, sometimes native tech can actually be the cheapest way to achieve a certain goal, and sometimes cross-platform technologies actually lead to better products, even for very well-funded companies. So what is a useful way to think about the tradeoff? Over the last decade I’ve talked to people at hundreds of companies about how they’re developing and supporting apps, helping them evaluate and plan native and cross-platform app work. While there are a lot of factors that go into this technology decision, there’s one that I think is particularly illuminating.”
  • Crypto’s Rapid Move Into Banking Elicits Alarm in Washington. The boom in companies offering cryptocurrency loans and high-yield deposit accounts is disrupting the banking industry and leaving regulators scrambling to catch up.”
  • This NFT Painting Is a Work of Art. Machines are the new descendants of Picasso.”—”The point is not whether we can distinguish AI-created music from human music but whether machines will be able to create music of their own, music we cannot imagine.”
  • Neither Windows, nor Linux! Shrine is ‘God’s Operating System’“—”We’ve all used multiple operating systems in our lives. Some were good and some were bad. But can you say that you’ve ever used an operating system designed by God? Today, I’d like to introduce you to Shrine.”
  • A COVID-19 Mask That Kills the Virus? Scientists Say Yes.”—”But what if there was a face mask that could kill the virus? A group of researchers at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) say that’s exactly what they invented. The scientists from UNAM’s Materials Research Institute say they have developed a triple-layered antimicrobial face covering. They named the new technology ‘SakCu’ — a combination of ‘Sak,’ the word for silver in Mayan, and ‘Cu,’ the chemical symbol for copper.”
  • I mean, at some point, we’re going to get to Omega, figuratively and literally. “COVID-19: Mu Variant Detected in 47 US States and DC.”
  • Oh, Vantuky, don’t you ever change. “Three Schools Forced Into Lockdown After Anti-Masker Proud Boys Try to Infiltrate. Local members of the Proud Boys attempted to escort a student seeking an exemption from the mask requirement into the school.”
  • Finally, some good news! “The Pandemic Turned Me Into a Witch“—”Growing up Catholic, I attended Catechism, a weekly religious school where I was constantly in trouble for giggling. (Like that time a priest was illustrating how large the ceremonial pillar candle was by, uh, using a long stroking motion with his hands.) There, I was taught that witchcraft was sinful. Now, in a store dedicated to witches, I felt like I was getting to enjoy, wait for it, a forbidden fruit.”
  • COVID-19 NEWS: For Many, Long COVID Looks a Lot Like Chronic Fatigue“—”A team of researchers, including two from Johns Hopkins Medicine, have published a review article highlighting similarities between certain lingering symptoms following COVID-19 illness — a condition called “long COVID” — and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), a debilitating, complex disorder previously known as chronic fatigue syndrome. The researchers say the symptoms shared by the two conditions may involve a biological response that goes haywire when the body encounters certain infections or other environmental hazards.”
  • This is a wild trip. I deny the premise that reasonable public health policy is authoritarian just because some don’t like it and won’t do the right thing for the collective good without it, but this is a wild ride to watch the author tumble around on. “Can authoritarianism ever be justified? China may have performed better than many democratic countries on Covid-19, but good government can’t be sustained without public scrutiny.”—”There is no question that a good government works for its people. A good government helps its citizens thrive – ideally not at the expense of citizens of other countries, but in cooperation with them and with the interests of future generations in mind. A bad government, by contrast, sacrifices the interests of its citizens to satisfy the greed of a small elite. But is a democratic government always best placed to work for the people, or does working for the people sometimes favour bypassing democratic control? That’s a puzzle worth addressing in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, and there are reasons to think that the picture is more complicated than the service objection to authoritarianism suggests.” I mean, maybe wearing a mask and getting vaxxed needs to become codified as a new religious rule, like a religious health policy prohibition against pork, then they’ll love doing it and think everyone else should too?
  • UGA professor resigns mid-class after student refuses to wear mask“—”Bernstein asked the student to pull her mask up to wear it correctly, but she said she “couldn’t breathe” and “had a really hard time breathing” with the cloth over her mouth and nose. Written on the board at the front of the classroom was, “No mask, no class,” according to fourth-year psychology major Hannah Huff. The 88-year-old psychology professor explained to the student that he could die from COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and age-related problems, Bernstein said in an email to The Red & Black.” “Bernstein, who was already informed that two of his absent students tested positive for COVID-19, then announced his resignation on the spot and left the class immediately.”
  • “Anyone has the right to be stupid, but not to demand that we respect his stupidities.”—Nicolás Gómez Dávila (1913-1994), Escolios a un Texto Implicito, II (Bogotá: Instituto Colombiano de Cultura, 1977), p. 11 (my translation), quoted at Stupidity.
  • OH MY FUCKING GOD, GET THE FUCKING VACCINE ALREADY, YOU FUCKING FUCKS“—”Hi, if you are reading this essay then congratulations, you are still alive. And if you are alive, then you have either gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, or you still have the opportunity to get the vaccine against COVID-19. And holy fuck, if you aren’t fucking vaccinated against COVID-19, then you need to get fucking vaccinated right now. I mean, what the fuck? Fuck you. Get vaccinated. Fuck.”
  • South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem Used Prison Labor to Build a $9,000 Desk—Then Got a Discount.”
  • Afghanistan withdrawal: Warfighters’ déjà vu“—”The growing awareness of the moral ambiguity among veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq burdens them with sensibilities of moral injury. Moral injury occurs when a person perpetrates, fails to prevent, bears witness to, or is the victim of an act that affronts their deeply held beliefs and expectations regarding human dignity. Service members are expected to trust that the orders from their civilian and military leaders are aligned with American values. The frantic withdrawal from Afghanistan and abandonment of vulnerable people leaves service members asking whether their sacrifices were in vain and if their actions are consistent with American values.” Probably not in the way the author intended, but that question would be a good thing to reflect on.
  • How Come We Don’t Know More About the Largest Labor Battle in the History of the United States?
  • World-Renowned Philosopher Martha Nussbaum Supports New York Elephant Rights Case“—”Drawing on Professor Nussbaum’s widely acclaimed work on justice and animal rights, the brief ‘argues that the law requires reformation to protect our modern scientific and philosophical understanding that many animals can live their own meaningful lives and that the Court should reform the law in this case.'”
  • What’s the Best Way to Do Public Humanities? Ask a Philosopher. Not every academic can or should do public outreach, but those who do it well benefit all of academe.”—”Socially committed work, no matter the size of its audience, demonstrates the connection between the university and the society it serves — and is served by. Higher education needs to attract public support because universities are inherently public institutions. If American society is to recognize higher education as the public good that it is, then higher education needs a public face.”
  • Sophie Grace Chappell on Plato and the Moral Imagination. An interview with Sophie Grace Chappell about philosophy, following your deepest impulses, and why mountain climbing is not unlike philosophy.”—”This is the great thing about philosophy, and what keeps me going at it: it’s so unpredictable. I simply have no idea where the argument might lead me. But nearly always, so far, to a good place.”
  • A Very Particular Risk: Aimee Bender on Jane Campion and Kazuo Ishiguro“—”Even writing about this interpretation feels delicate to me—it’s so easy for it to go sour, to feel sillily theistic, or too bound to linearity, like if only one prays just right, maybe so-and-so can be saved, like it’s a facile lesson, or a pressure. But, to me, the feat—the Nobel-prize-worthy ongoing feat—is that somehow Ishiguro is able to walk this very thin line where no lesson is pushed and no expectations are put into place and Klara is still allowed a moment that breaks with the systems we know, where she seems to rise above the limits of her being, her abilities (—and it would have to be Klara, this most sensitive and observant of robots), even her own belief system—to make contact with mystery and move something in the world.”
  • Russia expels first comedian since fall of Soviet Union as political routines under pressure from Kremlin. Idrak Mirzalizade’s routine about racist landlords saw him thrown out of the country.”
  • Who Gets To Be Bossypants? On Class and Privilege in Female Comedians’ Memoirs“—”The critique of these books fit into the broader conversation around the shallowness of the narrative that “hard work” and “talent” are the only ingredients at play in determining who makes it big and who doesn’t; likewise, the false idea that a white person must be either a “KKK princess” or an avowed white supremacist to benefit from white supremacy. And as awkward or unattractive as many of the women on the list may believe themselves to be, or may have felt, they were not all outsiders in the same way. In a telling passage in Fey’s book, she seems to briefly consider that possibility. After relaying an anecdote where she essentially steals a job from a woman who really needed it, she adds ‘That makes me sound like a jerk, I know. But remember the beginning of the story where I was the underdog? No? Me neither.'”
  • The Sacred Geometry of Respect, Trust, and Equity“—”The values of respect, trust, and equity are interconnected and inseparable. Putting them into practice means continually reassessing and re-imagining what a just world might look like. It means acknowledging that the same technologies we create and use with the intent of realizing these ideals, can (and will) be abused to instead sustain and magnify systemic injustice — at an otherwise unimaginable scale. Values that are expressed but that do not guide our actions are merely performative. Real progress can only come about when we go beyond our good intentions, and take responsibility for impact and outcomes. Ultimately, we are accountable not only to our collaborators and our users, but also to our broader global society.”
  • Thora Birch and Nine More Actors Join the Cast of Netflix’s Wednesday“—”With the most difficult roles sorted—Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams, and Catherine Zeta-Jones and Luis Guzmán as perfect parents Morticia and Gomez—Netflix’s Wednesday has moved on to rounding out the rest of its cast. The streamer announced ten additions today, most of which are young, lesser-known actors who will play Wednesday’s classmates and friends. But there are a couple of familiar faces among the crowd, including Ghost World and Hocus Pocus icon Thora Birch, who will play Tamara Novak, described as ‘Wednesday’s dorm mother and the only ‘Normie’ on staff at Nevermore Academy.'” Look, they destroyed Melissa Hunter’s fantastic Adult Wednesday Addams fan series, and told her getting the rights would be impossible. But, sure, okay. It’s Tim Burton, so maybe. But, I have concerns. Strangely, Hunter’s been part of the crew for a number of other Netflix shows that were pretty good, but, apparently, not this one. Either way, let’s at least pour one out for Adult Wednesday Addams which you can definitely not find online anywhere once they forced her to delete it from her channel. *sigh* And, at least afaik, she’s still a writer for the upcoming She-Hulk series on Disney+, so …
  • The Missed Queerness of The Green Knight Adaptation“—”When I watch modern adaptations of premodern stories such as The Green Knight, I find myself disappointed by how these narratives impose an oversimplified and retroactively heteronormative and patriarchal vision of the medieval world. These traditional lenses limit the beautifully unresolved nature of these texts, which ultimately talk of a human condition —devoid of 19th-century impositions of gender and sexuality. ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ is not about Gawain asserting alpha male authority in an attempt to take the place of King Arthur. Nor is it about the oversexed femme fatale who serves as the tempting Eve of a man’s demise. Its sounds and verses do not assert a hegemony over peoples inhabiting both mythical and natural worlds. The text is very queer, just as the world in which it was conceived.”
  • Watch “Isabella” trailer. “Isabella, a film by Matías Piñeiro … Mariel (María Villar) longs to play the role of Isabella in a local theater troupe’s production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, but money problems prevent her from preparing for the audition. She thinks of asking her brother for financial help, but is worried about being too direct. Her solution is to ask her brother’s girlfriend, Luciana (Agustina Muñoz), also an actress and a more self-assured one, to convince her brother to give her the money. Luciana agrees on the condition that Mariel will not abandon her acting and continue to prepare for the part of Isabella. The latest in Matías Piñeiro’s series of films inspired by the women of Shakespeare’s comedies is his most structurally daring and visually stunning work to date. Through their rich and layered performances, Muñoz and Villar demonstrate a profound intimacy formed over more than a decade of collaboration with their director. Isabella is a film about the ongoing battle between doubt and ambition that never discounts the possibility of a new beginning.” Also “Confronting Doubt with the Power of Shakespeare.”
  • It’s Time to Commission a Memorial to Slavery at McGill University“—”As McGill University celebrates its Bicentennial — and in the wake of global reckonings with racism — it is an opportune time to reflect critically and act on the university’s history, including founder James McGill’s ownership of Black and Indigenous slaves.”
  • Watch “Atlasminx“—”This is the atlasminx. The puzzle has an edge length of 140mm, weighs 7.9kg and has 4863 pieces.”
  • Watch “MELTZER – The Ballad Of Piers Morgan and Meghan Markle
  • Watch “Kenneth Copeland Unplugged [Wind Of God Acoustic Remix]
  • Computer-Generated New Yorker Cartoons Are Delightfully Weird“—”The New Yorker‘s famous Cartoon Caption Contest, which asks readers to submit their wittiest one-liners, gets an average 5,732 entries each week, and the magazine receives thousands of drawings every month from hopeful artists. What if a computer tried its hand at the iconic comics?” “Cartooning is paradoxically a 21st-century art form catering to a readership with limited attention for a quick visual gratification fix … The Neural Yorker explores the limits of an important feature in the history and the modes of address of cartoon making: the non sequitur.”
  • Miss Minutes Voice Assistant Using Raspberry Pi Zero W. Building Mrs. Minutes (LOKI series) voice assistant using raspberry pi zero w and google assistant SDK.”
  • Five Minutes of Pink Oyster Mushroom Playing Modular Synthesizer“—”Through the magic or rather science of bio data sonification, this flush of oyster mushrooms get a shot at playing a eurorack modular synthesizer before they become my dinner. Electrical resistance is measure by passing a small current through the mushrooms similar to a lie detector test. The changes in resistance are then converted into control signals which determine the rhythm, pitch, timbre and effects parameters of the modular synthesizer.” Also MycoLyco on Bandcamp. Also “Watch a Pink Oyster Mushroom Play Music on a Synthesizer.”
  • Watch “”Racist, sexist boy” music video by The Linda Lindas.

Summary for the month of August 2021

I did some stuff on YouTube. What stuff I did were live streams, now unlisted. I mostly tried to live streamed at 6:66am Central on Thursdays, until I got tired or too hot, usually a few hours. I also did live stream randomly on some Tuesdays at 6:66am Central, but that was a fluke (or was it?!). I think I’ve now changed my mind and given up on Saturdays, preferring Thursdays as my most likely day streaming. I didn’t stream any video games this month. For some reason Geforce Now on my nVidia Shield won’t work correctly since the last update, and I haven’t been able to fix it. Some portions of some live streams got posted as archives. Here’s what I posted of what I did.

Yeah. That’s it. ::shrug::

Omnium Gatherum: 1sept2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for September 1, 2021

Here’s a variety of notable things I’ve recently found that you may also be interested in checking out:

  • The fungal mind: on the evidence for mushroom intelligence.”—”Mushrooms and other kinds of fungi are often associated with witchcraft and are the subjects of longstanding superstitions. Witches dance inside fairy rings of mushrooms according to German folklore, while a French fable warns that anyone foolish enough to step inside these ‘sorcerer’s rings’ will be cursed by enormous toads with bulging eyes. These impressions come from the poisonous and psychoactive peculiarities of some species, as well as the overnight appearance of toadstool ring-formations. Given the magical reputation of the fungi, claiming that they might be conscious is dangerous territory for a credentialled scientist. But in recent years, a body of remarkable experiments have shown that fungi operate as individuals, engage in decision-making, are capable of learning, and possess short-term memory. These findings highlight the spectacular sensitivity of such ‘simple’ organisms, and situate the human version of the mind within a spectrum of consciousness that might well span the entire natural world.”
  • “We Don’t See Pure Sword and Sorcery Anymore, So I Wanted to Try to Revive It” – An Interview with John Shirley.” About A Sorcerer of Atlantis with A Prince in the Kingdom of Ghosts [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by John Shirley—”or decades, John Shirley has been a leading author of weird fiction, with an impressively wide range. His work stretches from science fiction to supernatural horror to psychological terror and everything in between. Here, in two new and unpublished works, Shirley ventures into the realm of fantasy. The short novel A Sorcerer of Atlantis introduces us to two adventurers, Brimm and Snoori, who find themselves in Atlantis, battling an array of bizarre monsters in the company of the warrior princess Selinn of Ur. But as Brinn becomes intimate with Maitha, the Queen of Atlantis, he senses that more baleful creatures threaten the continent, including the menacing “People of the Deep,” foreshadowing Atlantis’s imminent doom. In the novella “A Prince in the Kingdom of Ghosts,” Korean-American Kerrin Kim, shattered by his father’s death, is himself murdered—and finds himself in an afterlife realm where he must assume the responsibilities of a prince in a land of ghosts, elemental spirits, and other supernatural threats. In this pair of tales, written in the tradition of Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber, and Jack Vance, John Shirley reveals an exuberant imagination, a skill at portraying vivid and memorable characters, and a narrative pace that carries the reader on from beginning to end with breathless excitement. Chilling terror mixes with wry humor as Shirley makes his fantasy worlds unescapably real.”
  • By Crom! “Weird Revisited: Comics’ First Barbarian“—”Before Claw, Wulf, and Ironjaw–even before Conan–there was a barbarian Sword & Sorcery hero in comics. Though there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of this particularly mighty-thewed sword-slinger, he’s got a famous name: Crom the Barbarian!”
  • How the Great Billie Jean King Challenged the Patriarchy. The Groundbreaking Tennis Champ on Her Fight to End Gender Discrimination.” Excerpt from All In: An Autobiography [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Billie Jean King with Johnette Howard and Maryanne Vollers—”In this spirited account, Billie Jean King details her life’s journey to find her true self. She recounts her groundbreaking tennis career–six years as the top-ranked woman in the world, twenty Wimbledon championships, thirty-nine grand-slam titles, and her watershed defeat of Bobby Riggs in the famous Battle of the Sexes. She poignantly recalls the cultural backdrop of those years and the profound impact on her worldview from the women’s movement, the assassinations and anti-war protests of the 1960s, the civil rights movement, and, eventually, the LGBTQ+ rights movement. She describes the myriad challenges she’s hurdled–entrenched sexism, an eating disorder, near financial peril after being outed–on her path to publicly and unequivocally acknowledging her sexual identity at the age of fifty-one. She talks about how her life today remains one of indefatigable service. She offers insights and advice on leadership, business, activism, sports, politics, marriage equality, parenting, sexuality, and love. And she shows how living honestly and openly has had a transformative effect on her relationships and happiness. Hers is the story of a pathbreaking feminist, a world-class athlete, and an indomitable spirit whose impact has transcended even her spectacular achievements in sports.”
  • New from Standard Ebooks: The Child of the Cavern by Jules Verne, Mutual Aid by Peter Kropotkin, Short Fiction by Ray Bradbury, Edward III by William Shakespeare.
  • OMG SPACE VAMPIRES! “Inspiration4 Crew Will Conduct Health Research to Further Human Exploration of Space“—”Collect and test drops of blood during spaceflight” I liked it better when it was an episode of Buck Rogers.
  • The Brain Doesn’t Think the Way You Think It Does. Familiar categories of mental functions such as perception, memory and attention reflect our experience of ourselves, but they are misleading about how the brain works. More revealing approaches are emerging.”—”When we wonder how the brain works, he explained, we want it to mean: What’s happening in my brain when I fall in love? Or when I’m excited? If we move too far away from our subjective experience and familiar cognitive concepts, he worries that what we learn about the brain might be like ’42’ in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: the correct answer, but not to the question we had in mind. ‘Now, are we willing to live with that?’ Krakauer asked.”
  • Cannibal toads eat so many of their young, they’re speeding up evolution. Here’s how the young are fighting back.”—”The hatchlings of the invasive cane toad in Australia don’t stand a chance against their deadliest predator: cannibal tadpoles who guzzle the hatchlings like they’re at an all-you-can-eat buffet. But now, the hatchlings are fighting back. They’re developing faster, reducing the time that hungry tadpoles have to gobble them up, a new study finds.” “Developing quickly, however, has its pitfalls. Compared with typically growing hatchlings, those that grew faster fared worse when they reached the tadpole stage of life, the researchers found. So it isn’t ‘worth it to try to defend yourself in this way unless cannibals are definitely coming for you'”
  • Astronauts’ photos from the space station reveal the highs and lows of watching Earth from above in 2021 so far.”
  • An accidental discovery hints at a hidden population of cosmic objects.”—”Brown dwarfs aren’t quite stars and aren’t quite planets, and a new study suggests there might be more of them lurking in our galaxy than scientists previously thought. A new study offers a tantalizing explanation for how a peculiar cosmic object called WISEA J153429.75-104303.3—nicknamed ‘The Accident’—came to be. The Accident is a brown dwarf. Though they form like stars, these objects don’t have enough mass to kickstart nuclear fusion, the process that causes stars to shine. And while brown dwarfs sometimes defy characterization, astronomers have a good grasp on their general characteristics. Or they did, until they found this one.”
  • Multiple hominin dispersals into Southwest Asia over the past 400,000 years“—”Here we report a series of dated palaeolake sequences, associated with stone tool assemblages and vertebrate fossils, from the Khall Amayshan 4 and Jubbah basins in the Nefud Desert. These findings, including the oldest dated hominin occupations in Arabia, reveal at least five hominin expansions into the Arabian interior, coinciding with brief ‘green’ windows of reduced aridity approximately 400, 300, 200, 130–75 and 55 thousand years ago. Each occupation phase is characterized by a distinct form of material culture, indicating colonization by diverse hominin groups, and a lack of long-term Southwest Asian population continuity. Within a general pattern of African and Eurasian hominin groups being separated by Pleistocene Saharo-Arabian aridity, our findings reveal the tempo and character of climatically modulated windows for dispersal and admixture.”
  • Watch “How does artificial intelligence learn?“—”Today, artificial intelligence helps doctors diagnose patients, pilots fly commercial aircraft, and city planners predict traffic. These AIs are often self-taught, working off a simple set of instructions to create a unique array of rules and strategies. So how exactly does a machine learn? Briana Brownell digs into the three basic ways machines investigate, negotiate, and communicate. [Directed by Champ Panupong Techawongthawon, narrated by Safia Elhillo, music by Ambrose Yu].”
  • What Slime Knows. There is no hierarchy in the web of life.”—”Slime mold might not have evolved much in the past two billion years, but it has learned a few things during that time.” Um. That sounds like a threat! “In laboratory environments, researchers have cut Physarum polycephalum into pieces and found that it can fuse back together within two minutes. Or, each piece can go off and live separate lives, learn new things, and return later to fuse together, and in the fusing, each individual can teach the other what it knows, and can learn from it in return. Though, in truth, ‘individual’ is not the right word to use here, because ‘individuality’—a concept so central to so many humans’ identities—doesn’t apply to the slime mold worldview. A single cell might look to us like a coherent whole, but that cell can divide itself into countless spores, creating countless possible cycles of amoeba to plasmodium to aethalia, which in turn will divide and repeat the cycle again. It can choose to ‘fruit’ or not, to reproduce sexually or asexually or not at all, challenging every traditional concept of ‘species,’ the most basic and fundamental unit of our flawed and imprecise understanding of the biological world. As a consequence, we have no way of knowing whether slime molds, as a broad class of beings, are stable or whether climate change threatens their survival, as it does our own. Without a way to count their population as a species, we can’t measure whether they are endangered or thriving. Should individuals that produce similar fruiting bodies be considered a species? What if two separate slime molds do not mate but share genetic material? The very idea of separateness seems antithetical to slime mold existence. It has so much to teach us.”
  • Facebook’s Censoring of Women’s Bodies is Nipocrisy“—”Facebook and Instagram have a combined worldwide usership of over three billion people, and only one rule book split between them. Their ‘Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity’ section of the guidelines firmly assigns nudity to sexual activity without room for negotiation. Within this section, they have dedicated a big portion of text to describing when and how a female nipple is and isn’t allowed, therefore making an exposed female nipple a sexually explicit act by default — with a few vague exceptions, such as for breastfeeding and ‘acts of protest.’ These guidelines prohibit ‘visible genitalia’ and “fully nude close-ups of buttocks” in the same breath as ‘uncovered female nipples,’ making a female-presenting body twice as likely as male-presenting body to be flagged as obscene simply for possessing and showing her nipples.”
  • How Tech Companies Manipulate the Media ft. MKBHD“—”The 5 key ways that Tech Companies (Samsung, Xiaomi, OnePlus, Apple etc) try to control the narrative of the Media.”—”Pre-launch giveaways … Features coming soon … Dual embargoes … Exclusive interviews … Out of context quoting”
  • Some simple advice for Apple and app developers: It’s not about you. Most missteps can be avoided by putting the customer first.”—”Too often, when a company stumbles, it’s not because it made a fundamentally bad decision. It’s because it made a decision that benefited itself rather than its customers and lacked the perspective to understand that customers don’t applaud when you lower your costs or the quality of your product.” “It’s so easy to lose perspective. Companies large and small have done it and will do it again. The trick to avoiding this mistake is deceptively simple: Realize that it’s not about you, and consider the needs of the customers who make your business what it is. If you try to sell your customers a product designed to make your business more successful without benefiting them, they won’t thank you for it.”
  • Tweet thread—”What explains Covid’s mysterious Two-Month Cycle? In one country after another, the number of new cases has often surged for roughly two months before starting to fall. The Delta variant, despite its intense contagiousness, has followed this pattern.”
  • Lessons learned from the OCLC Community Center during the pandemic“—”When I wrote about the OCLC Community Center’s fifth anniversary last year, I thought we were all getting a handle on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We knew things weren’t over yet, but we also weren’t expecting to spend the next 12 months working from home, socially distancing, wearing masks in public, missing lunches and meetings and conferences, and so much more. While nothing replaces those in-person interactions, I’ve been amazed at how virtual engagement and connections have grown and deepened. As a result, we’ve all learned many valuable lessons about creating online community that will have lasting impact.” “Active participation is crucial … Let the community lead the way … Grace, grit, and gratitude bridge virtual gaps”.
  • Francis Fukuyama on the end of American hegemony. Afghanistan does not mark the end of the American era; the challenge to its global standing is political polarisation at home, says a foreign-policy expert.”
  • Covert Evacuations and Planned Demolitions: How the C.I.A. Left Its Last Base in Afghanistan. A compound outside Kabul was one of the most secretive — and notorious — in Afghanistan. Our visual analysis shows how the spy agency shut down its operations there — and how the Taliban then entered the site.”
  • What It Was Like to Return to Guantánamo. Because of the pandemic, it had been 500 days since my last visit, but I finally made it back.” Tweet thread—”Strange doings at Guantanamo: Reporters and photographers have resumed visits to the base after a 500-day Covid blackout — but are no longer allowed to photograph at the old Camp X-Ray. Like we did in July.”
  • Tweet—”Good morning to abortion providers, clergy, counselors, lawyers, abortion funds, and every person in Texas willing to break the law to ensure that pregnant people can still access safe abortion care. ❤️” Also tweet—”Imagine if California passed a law banning firearms and outsourced enforcement to the public. If you catch a person with a firearm, you sue them and if you win you get 10K. Sure it violates the constitution but *shrug* That’s what’s happening with abortion in Texas right now.” Also tweet—”How to show up for abortion access in Texas right now: 📢 Get updates from us: lilithfund.org/fightback ⚡️ Volunteer for our Hype Squad in Texas: lilithfund.org/hypesquad 💰 Donate to Texas abortion funds: secure.actblue.com/donate/txfunds” Tweet—”people out here blaming a dead woman for not retiring when a bunch of men asked her to so they could replace her with a centrist. i’m sorry you fucked up in 2016 by acting the fool, but don’t blame the dead lady because you downplayed the importance of the Supreme Court.” Tweet—”Burke & Hare’s murders left no blood and no mess, just a fresh corpse to be sold. The Supreme Court’s shadow docket is clean and neat — no names attached! — and it’s going to leave corpses behind.” Tweet—”abortion is healthcare and bodily autonomy isn’t negotiable”
  • Our Mothers, Ourselves“—”Both miscarriage and abortion are incredibly common. Yet they are, oddly, still taboo subjects.”
  • Oh, good! But, he’s still got a lucrative deal: “Mike Richards Fired as Exec Producer of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune“—”Richards’ exit comes a little more than a week after he was forced to step down as ‘Jeopardy!’ host, just nine days after he was tapped to succeed the legendary Alex Trebek as the face of the beloved quiz show. Richards currently has a rich overall deal at Sony; discussions on the fate of his relationship at the studio are currently under way.”
  • Emma Corrin will star in Netflix’s adaptation of the infamously steamy ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’, and it’s set to be raunchier than Bridgerton. Plus Jack O’Connell? We really are being spoilt.” Tweet—”I am pro sex in literature but have to say: when I finally read Lady Chatterley’s Lover in my twenties I was shocked because… All anyone ever mentioned about the book was the sex. I was astonished to find out it is a book about social class.”
  • Holy crap, Annalise Basso is a standout in the TV series Snowpiercer, based on the French comic series Le Transperceneige, released in English begining with Snowpiercer Vol. 1: The Escape [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] but, just look at her already damned impressive resumé! (Also, as an aside, recall: “How an Obscure 2nd Century Christian Heresy Influenced Snowpiercer” by Michael M Hughes.)
  • Personally I couldn’t stand The Big Bang Theory so never watched it, but I’ve been watching Kaley Cuoco in Harley Quinn and The Flight Attendant is a trip. The Flight Attendant almost reaches Russian Doll heights, but kind of fumbles at the end, I felt, but still definitely worth the watch, and well done cliffhanger episode endiings! Great cast, but, holy hell, every scene with Cuoco and Zosia Mamet acting together is pure goddamned fire. As for the animated Harley Quinn, she, with Lake Bell (no relation, but who also has recently become the voice of Black Widow in What If…?) and Alan Tudyk especially, do a great job building on and transcending the already classic source material. And, I also forgot Cuoco was in Charmed back in the day!
  • Bridget Regan is luminous in everything I’ve seen her in. She definitely stole the scene with a minor role in John Wick, but do you remember her in Agent Carter and Legend of the Seeker? “‘Batwoman’ Casts Bridget Regan as Poison Ivy in Season 3.” She’ll crush it. Also, her eyes. My gods, her eyes!
  • Alien 3: William Gibson Script Gets Novel Adaptation. Pat Cardigan’s adaptation uses a different version of the venerated sci-fi author’s previously published work.”—”Alien 3 has some issues. Even the movie’s most ardent fans have to admit this, given that it went through countless story, script, director, and editing changes, leaving what many feel is the most muddled of the four classic Alien films. Legendary Neuromancer author William Gibson was one of the (many) writers to give the script a go, but his work only saw the light of day as an audiobook and a comic by Dark Horse. Now, a novelization is on the way—but not the one you’d expect. Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay by William Gibson, written by his friend and Hugo Award-winning novelist Pat Cadigan, is based on a different script Gibson wrote for the movie.” About Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay by William Gibson [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Pat Cadigan—”The first-draft Alien screenplay by William Gibson, the founder of cyberpunk, turned into a novel by Pat Cadigan, the Hugo Award-Winning ‘Queen of Cyberpunk.’ William Gibson’s never-before-adapted screenplay for the direct sequel to Aliens, revealing the fates of Ripley, Newt, the synthetic Bishop, and Corporal Hicks. When the Colonial Marines vessel Sulaco docks with space station and military installation Anchorpoint, a new form of Xenomorph appears. Written by Hugo Award-winning novelist and ‘Queen of Cyberpunk’ Pat Cadigan, based on Gibson’s never-produced first draft. The Sulaco—on its return journey from LV-426—enters a sector controlled by the ‘Union of Progressive Peoples,’ a nation-state engaged in an ongoing cold war and arms race. U.P.P. personnel board the Sulaco and find hypersleep tubes with Ripley, Newt, and an injured Hicks. A Facehugger attacks the lead commando, and the others narrowly escape, taking what remains of Bishop with them. The Sulaco continues to Anchorpoint, a space station and military installation the size of a small moon, where it falls under control of the military’s Weapons Division. Boarding the Sulaco, a team of Colonial Marines and scientists is assaulted by a pair of Xenomorph drones. In the fight Ripley’s cryotube is badly damaged. It’s taken aboard Anchorpoint, where Ripley is kept comatose. Newt and an injured Corporal Hicks are awakened, and Newt is sent to Gateway Station on the way to Earth. The U.P.P. sends Bishop to Anchorpoint, where Hicks begins to hear rumors of experimentation—the cloning and genetic modification of Xenomorphs. The kind of experimentation that could yield a monstrous hybrid, and perhaps even a Queen.”
  • Eternal Artifice: ‘Cuadecuc, Vampir,’ ‘Martin,’ and the Deconstructed Vampire“—”The cinematic vampire is a fragile thing, not only for its many vulnerabilities—sunlight, crosses, garlic—but for the ways in which it can be rendered hollow, a construction. The vampire as seen on film becomes a perfect example of how horror—as a genre, as a feeling—is created and recreated.” “These final moments in Cuadecuc go to the heart of all vampire films by highlighting the ways in which they vampirically drain from Stoker’s source material. Every iteration is a kind of supernatural rebirth, like the vampire itself, a mutation of the myth that runs through the genre’s bloodstream.”
  • Watch “The Velvet Underground“, official trailer, coming to cinema and Apple TV+ in October. “The Velvet Underground. A hypnotic new documentary and the first major film to tell the band’s legendary story.” “The Velvet Underground created a new sound that changed the world of music, cementing its place as one of rock and roll’s most revered bands. Directed with the era’s avant-garde spirit by Todd Haynes, this kaleidoscopic oral history combines exclusive interviews with dazzling archival footage.”
  • Chris Kraus and R.O. Kwon on the transgressive power of sex“—”I believe sexual desires don’t just go away. If a person deeply wants something and ignores that desire, it’s probably not going to die a peaceful death.”
  • Cross-Disability Solidarity: Shannon Finnegan and Bojana Coklyat Interviewed by Amelia Rina. A project for resource sharing, discussion, and collaboration about creative approaches to image description.”
  • Guy Uses Modern Software To Restore The Faces Of Julius Caesar And 23 Other People From Ancient History. Interview With Artist.”
  • Tweet thread—”1/25 Okay, I’m gonna be all typography geeky again. This time I’ll walk you through how I personally go about setting a body text. There are probably plenty of other methods, but this one’s mine. A thread. And boy will it get nerdy.” “Note: This method is tedious, inefficient and time-consuming. But thorough. I use it when I layout novels and other projects that depend a lot on body text. But you might find it interesting regardless. Skip some steps if you want.” “Projects where I have used this method include Symbaroum, Oktoberlandet, an annual report (that won gold in the Swedish Design Price, yay!) and a bunch of novels. I did NOT use it for MÖRK BORG. I didn’t even have Paragraph Styles or baseline grids there…”
  • Tweet thread—”Hey, #tabletopgames Twitter: I submitted a proposal to @unicode for a meeple emoji. I’ll find out in October if it was accepted. /1″ “There’s a lot that could go right. It’s unique. It’s essentially public domain. It distinguishes modern tabletop games from older ones (e.g. Chess). We’d all use it like crazy. And for whatever reason, nobody has been foolish enough to propose it. /2”
  • Watch “The Cookbook of Nostradamus: Prophecies in the Kitchen” See The Elixirs of Nostradamus: Nostradamus’ Original Recipes for Elixirs, Scented Water, Beauty Potions and Sweetmeats—”Although most people know Nostradamus for his prophecies, he was also one of the most important healers of his time. The Elixirs of Nostradamus contains his most coveted recipes for elixirs, beauty potions, scented waters, bottled fruits, and other specialties, all of which first appeared in the 16th century. Lavishly illustrated, readers will learn how to add gold highlights to their hair, prepare a powder for whitening their teeth, make aromatic soap, preserve bitter cherries, and even make marzipan. The 41 recipes in this collection make a charming gift for anyone interested in the life of this compelling man.” And “Traité des fardements et confitures.”