Omnium Gatherum: 2jun2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for June 2, 2021

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

  • As a reminder, if you have or use Amazon devices, consider whether you want to participate in Amazon Sidewalk: “You Have a Week to Opt-Out of Amazon Sidewalk, Do It Now.”—”If the idea of sharing part of your network with the neighbors is totally fine with you, please consider the fact that Amazon is a company of liars who cannot be trusted.” Comcast did something similar with their routers a while ago, I recall, to provide hotspots using people’s bandwidth that required opting-out, which in and of itself is a red flag.
  • Educator Workshop—The Unicorn Tapestries: Where Magic and Science Meet.” Thursday, June 3, 2021, 3:30–5:30 pm, Online but through the Met, New York. “Join experts for an interdisciplinary, virtual exploration of The Met Cloisters’ famous Unicorn Tapestries. Learn about the artistry and innovation behind the tapestries and consider the complex and enduring relationship between humanity and nature. The program includes practical curriculum connections for teaching and learning with science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). For educators of all disciplines and grade levels.”
  • Ian McKellen plays Hamlet at Theatre Royal Windsor, 21st June – 4th September, in Windsor, near London. “Ian McKellen stars as Hamlet, 50 years after first taking on the role in this reimagined age, colour and gender-blind production of Shakespeare’s unrelenting tale of madness, revenge and death. Staged in a new format never seen before at Theatre Royal Windsor, including a limited number of on-stage seats to be made available closer to performances dates, this is your exclusive opportunity to experience world-class theatre up-close.” [HT Ian McKellen]
  • Is the 300-year search for one of Shakespeare’s actual books over?.”
  • Sennet, Issue 5: Summer 2021. Includes, among other things, an exclusive interview with Isaac Childres, creator of Frosthaven and Gloomhaven. “Senet is an all-new independent print magazine about the craft, creativity and community of board gaming.”
  • Sisterhood: Dark Tales and Secret Histories [Amazon, DTRPG, Publisher] edited by Nate Pedersen, from Chaosium, cover art by Liv Rainey-Smith—”In churches and convents and other religious communities, sisterhood takes many forms, forged and tested by such mundane threats as disease and despair, but also by terrors both spiritual and existential—Satan’s subtle minions and the cosmic nightmare of the Cthulhu Mythos. Sisterhood: Dark Tales and Secret Histories presents sixteen horror stories by some of the genre’s leading female voices. Their settings range around the globe and across the centuries, from 6th century Ireland to 17th century Virginia to Indonesia in the recent past.”
  • Salts Could Be Important Piece of Martian Organic Puzzle, NASA Scientists Find. A NASA team has found that organic, or carbon-containing, salts are likely present on Mars, with implications for the Red Planet’s past habitability.”
  • New dark matter map reveals cosmic mystery. An international team of researchers has created the largest and most detailed map of the distribution of so-called dark matter in the Universe.”
  • NASA releases stunning new pic of Milky Way’s ‘downtown’.”—”It’s a composite of 370 observations over the past two decades by the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory, depicting billions of stars and countless black holes in the center, or heart, of the Milky Way. A radio telescope in South Africa also contributed to the image, for contrast.” Also “Magnetized Threads Weave Spectacular Galactic Tapestry.”
  • Galaxy cluster warps space, magnifying more distant galaxies.”
  • China maintains ‘artificial sun’ at 120 million Celsius for over 100 seconds, setting new world record.”
  • The Central California Town That Keeps Sinking. The very ground upon which Corcoran, Calif., was built has been slowly but steadily collapsing, a situation caused primarily not by nature but agriculture.”
  • Polypropylene recycling from carpet waste. A significant part of carpet waste consists of petroleum-based polypropylene. As a non-recyclable product, disposing of it has previously meant incineration or landfill. However, a new solvent is now making it possible to recover virgin-standard polypropylene from carpet waste — with no perceptible reduction in quality. Developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP and its partners, the process also involves costs that are quite competitive. The development has taken place as part of the ISOPREP EU project.”
  • Enzymes successfully embedded in plastics. In general, plastics are processed at way over a hundred degrees Celsius. Enzymes, by contrast, cannot usually withstand these high temperatures. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP have managed to reconcile these contradictions: They are able to embed enzymes in plastics without the enzymes losing their activity in the process. The potentials this creates are enormous.”
  • Rochester laser experiments demonstrate ‘helium rain’ likely falls in the solar system. New research at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics provides clues to the evolution of the solar system.”
  • Light-shrinking material lets ordinary microscope see in super resolution.”—”Electrical engineers at the University of California San Diego developed a technology that improves the resolution of an ordinary light microscope so that it can be used to directly observe finer structures and details in living cells. The technology turns a conventional light microscope into what’s called a super-resolution microscope. It involves a specially engineered material that shortens the wavelength of light as it illuminates the sample—this shrunken light is what essentially enables the microscope to image in higher resolution.”
  • Beer byproduct mixed with manure proves an excellent organic pesticide. A new study published by the open access publisher Frontiers has demonstrated that beer bagasse and rapeseed cake can be used as effective biodisinfestation treatments to reduce populations of soil parasites and increase crop yields. Researchers demonstrated that using these organic treatments in soils significantly reduced root-knot nematodes and boosted beneficial soil populations, as well as reducing waste from the agricultural industry by incorporating organic by-products as a treatment instead of harmful chemical fumigants.”
  • A Browsable Petascale Reconstruction of the Human Cortex.”—”Today, in collaboration with the Lichtman Laboratory at Harvard University, we are releasing the “H01” dataset, a 1.4 petabyte rendering of a small sample of human brain tissue, along with a companion paper, “A connectomic study of a petascale fragment of human cerebral cortex.” The H01 sample was imaged at 4nm-resolution by serial section electron microscopy, reconstructed and annotated by automated computational techniques, and analyzed for preliminary insights into the structure of the human cortex. The dataset comprises imaging data that covers roughly one cubic millimeter of brain tissue, and includes tens of thousands of reconstructed neurons, millions of neuron fragments, 130 million annotated synapses, 104 proofread cells, and many additional subcellular annotations and structures — all easily accessible with the Neuroglancer browser interface. H01 is thus far the largest sample of brain tissue imaged and reconstructed in this level of detail, in any species, and the first large-scale study of synaptic connectivity in the human cortex that spans multiple cell types across all layers of the cortex. The primary goals of this project are to produce a novel resource for studying the human brain and to improve and scale the underlying connectomics technologies.”
  • Climate change-resistant corals could provide lifeline to battered reefs. Corals that withstood a severe bleaching event and were transplanted to a different reef maintained their resilient qualities, according to a new study led by Katie Barott of the School of Arts & Sciences.”
  • The Robot Smiled Back. Columbia Engineering researchers use AI to teach robots to make appropriate reactive human facial expressions, an ability that could build trust between humans and their robotic co-workers and care-givers.” Watch “Animatronic Robotic Face Driven with Learned Models“.
  • New Study Shows How to Boost Muscle Regeneration and Rebuild Tissue. Salk research reveals clues about molecular changes underlying muscle loss tied to aging.”
  • The Indifference Engine. Nobody knows what will be useful in the future. And this is why we so often find humanistic activities in the seeds and roots of STEM.”—”Tech is not separate from poetry and politics and other (as a programmer might claim they are) indifferences; merely forgetful of them. The digital humanities helps us to see how they work together.”
  • Amazon Prime Is an Economy-Distorting Lie. A new antitrust case shows that Prime inflates prices across the board, using the false promise of ‘free shipping’ that is anything but free.”
  • Tulip craze takes a tumble, as they are want to do: “The NFT market bubble has popped and we’ve got the charts to prove it.”
  • Tweet thread—”I’m back from a week at my mom’s house and now I’m getting ads for her toothpaste brand, the brand I’ve been putting in my mouth for a week. We never talked about this brand or googled it or anything like that. As a privacy tech worker, let me explain why this is happening. 🧵”—”Your data isn’t just about you. It’s about how it can be used against every person you know, and people you don’t. To shape behavior unconsciously.”
  • Vizio makes nearly as much money from ads and data as it does from TVs. Those low-priced TVs are a vehicle for advertising and they can track what you’re watching.”—”While the hardware business has significantly more revenue, profits from data and advertising spiked 152 percent from last year, and are quickly catching up.”
  • US Soldiers Expose Nuclear Weapons Secrets Via Flashcard Apps.”
  • Invisible Roommates AR app #AR #IOT“—”Invisible Roommates is an augmented reality (AR) app that illustrates how devices communicate with each via a network by characterizing the devices as little cute AR 3D avatars. The application would first detect all of the different devices connected to your network; this would include the more obvious ones like computers or phones, as well as other things, like TVs, speakers, game consoles, vacuums or washing machines. It would also obtain manufacturing data that the device is advertising , the use that to construct a little character.”
  • An Australian inventor wants to stop global warming by electrifying everything. The 47-year-old, who won the MacArthur “genius” award in 2007 for his prodigious inventions “in the global public interest,” has spent the past decade working to solve climate change through technology.”
  • The Smart Skeleton: an open-source, interactive tool for teaching muscle actions and joint movements.”—”This paper describes the design, construction, and use of an open-source hardware and software tool intended to help Anatomy and Physiology students test their knowledge of muscle actions and joint movements. Orientation sensors are attached to a model skeleton to turn the skeleton into an interactive, physical model for teaching limb movements. A detailed description of the construction of the tool is provided, as well as the configuration and use of companion software.”
  • Distribute Commons, Not Commodities.”—”The DWeb Principles call for “distributed benefits.” Companies like Amazon remind us why. The people contributing their work, their data, and their imagination to make technology valuable should receive value in return. All of us, no matter what we contribute, should benefit because a truly distributed web should be a commons for everyone.”
  • Building a Postcolonial Knowledge Commons.”—”In responding to COVID, how should research libraries use the opportunity to tackle the ongoing crisis of postcoloniality?”
  • Bosses are acting like the pandemic never happened. The pandemic transformed work. A lot of employers haven’t caught up.”
  • ‘Let the bodies pile high’: Cummings’ testimony proves critics right.”
  • This was literally a joke on SNL but happened: “Las Vegas officials hold pop-up vaccine clinic at strip club.” Get poked whilst being titillated.
  • Not Everyone Is Happy Hugs Are Back. Here’s Why. ‘While millions of people have lamented the lack of hugs and physical contact since March last year, for me and people like me, social distancing brought freedom from unwanted touch.'”
  • Tweet—”Liza Minnelli has outlived Donald Trump’s blog — “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump” — where he shared false statements after social media companies banned him.”
  • The Secret Service Has To Protect Former Presidents — But What If They Are In Jail? Donald Trump could be the first president to face jail or prison time, creating a dilemma for the officials charged with protecting him.”
  • Stimulus Checks Substantially Reduced Hardship, Study Shows. Researchers found that sharp declines in food shortages, financial instability and anxiety coincided with the two most recent rounds of payments.”
  • 100 Experts Express ‘Growing Alarm’ That Republicans Are Endangering Democracy. ‘Our democracy is fundamentally at stake. History will judge what we do at this moment.'”
  • If Democracy Is Dying, Why Are Democrats So Complacent? Democrats are unwilling to match their language of urgency with a strategy even remotely proportional to it.”
  • Democrats Prepare To Investigate Capitol Riot After GOP Blocked Bipartisan Commission. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proposed to her colleagues four options to launch an investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection, despite Republican resistance.”
  • Joe Biden Becomes First U.S. President To Commemorate Tulsa Race Massacre. ‘My fellow Americans, this was not a riot; this was a massacre,’ Biden said on the centennial of the attack on ‘Black Wall Street.'”
  • Illinois Becomes First State To Pass Bill Banning Cops From Deceiving Youth Suspects. The legislation both a near-unanimous vote in both chambers, making the state one step away from banning the practice that contributes to false confessions.”
  • Why every single statue should come down. Statues of historical figures are lazy, ugly and distort history. From Cecil Rhodes to Rosa Parks, let’s get rid of them all.”
  • America Has a Drinking Problem. A little alcohol can boost creativity and strengthen social ties. But there’s nothing moderate, or convivial, about the way many Americans drink today.”—”After more than a year in relative isolation, we may be closer than we’d like to the wary, socially clumsy strangers who first gathered at Göbekli Tepe. “We get drunk because we are a weird species, the awkward losers of the animal world,” Slingerland writes, “and need all of the help we can get.” For those of us who have emerged from our caves feeling as if we’ve regressed into weird and awkward ways, a standing drinks night with friends might not be the worst idea to come out of 2021.” Mentions lots of books and media on the topic.
  • New media company from AT&T spinoff will be called Warner Bros. Discovery.”—”The next big player in the streaming wars now has a name: Warner Bros. Discovery. The company’s tagline will be, “the stuff that dreams are made of,” in a nod to the 1941 Warner Bros. film “The Maltese Falcon.” The new media company would be the result of a $43 billion proposed merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia, which AT&T said it would spin out just three years after buying Time Warner (as it was named at the time).”
  • Micro.blog is launching a feature for keeping track of books. It imports a Goodreads export, and more. Here’s a help doc on their BBS that talks about it: Bookshelves.
  • Catalan Clock.”—”In Catalan time is read a bit differently than in most other languages. At 00:00, is twelve o’clock, but after that time is not said as ‘amount of time that passed or that is missing until the next hour’, but as ‘fraction of the current hour (which by english standard will be the next one)’.”
  • More accurate clocks may add more disorder to the universe, scientists say. Accuracy may come at a cost.”
  • ‘Fake Christianity’ Is Growing in the US. A counterfeit form of Christianity is more popular than the real thing, according to respected researcher Dr George Barna.”—”‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’ is a worldview that is defined and driven by current culture, more than by historic religious truths or a comprehensive and coherent doctrine, according to Barna. In other words, it is the sort of Christianity that lots of people want.”
  • Gun Church That Worships With AR-15s Bought a 40-Acre Compound in Texas for Its ‘Patriots’. The Rod of Iron Ministries has become more militant since leader Hyung Jin ‘Sean’ Moon attended the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.”
  • Surreal images in a gallery from Cream Electric Art for a United Airlines ad campaign. Watch “United Airlines – Route 66 – Build“—”Photoshop build for the Route 66 execution of our United Airlines campaign. We loved working on this intricate photoshop project for the launch of United Airlines Dreamliner flights in Australia. We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response to these surreal dreamscapes that shake up the stereotypical postcard approach to travel shots. Hats off to all involved!”
  • More about NFTs. Wait. No, this is not about NFTs: “Italian Artist Sells Invisible Sculpture for More Than $18,000.”—”Though he’s received much critique for the sale, Garau argues that his work of art isn’t ‘nothing,’ but is instead a ‘vacuum.'” Um, actually, it’s not, technically, even vacuum, a volume of negative pressure. There’s not even a measurable volume in which negative pressure can exist, NFTs, er, I mean FFS.
  • Christina Hendricks: ‘We were critically acclaimed – and everyone wanted to ask me about my bra’. The star of Good Girls discusses Mad Men, sexual harassment and squaring her glamorous reputation with her ‘weird, goofy’ personality”
  • 100 Ways to Make the World Better for Non-Binary People. Respecting people’s pronouns, and 99 other easy things.”—”Non-binary identity is more visible than ever in the mainstream media, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to safety, support, opportunities, understanding—or any of the other things many non-binary people actually need.”
  • Cicadas: A crash course.” Quartz Weekly for May 26.