Omnium Gatherum: 13jun2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for June 13, 2021

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

  • Next Friday, Stand with Bandcamp to Support Racial Justice, Equality, and Change.” Of course, consider the Bandcamp profiles for Hermetic Library, Odd Order, and those I personally follow.
  • Haha, no, not that Jack Parsons! “The partial eclipse did happen. Here’s proof! WELL done to photographer Jack Parsons who captured this shot of the partial eclipse of the sun from Barnoldswick this morning.”
  • ‘It’s infuriating and shocking’: how medicine has failed women over time. In the eye-opening new book Unwell Women, Elinor Cleghorn uses her own misdiagnosis at the hands of male doctors as a jumping point for an alarming history lesson.” About Unwell Women: Misdiagnosis and Myth in a Man-Made World [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Elinor Cleghorn —”A trailblazing, conversation-starting history of women’s health—from the earliest medical ideas about women’s illnesses to hormones and autoimmune diseases—brought together in a fascinating sweeping narrative. Elinor Cleghorn became an unwell woman ten years ago. She was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease after a long period of being told her symptoms were anything from psychosomatic to a possible pregnancy. As Elinor learned to live with her unpredictable disease she turned to history for answers, and found an enraging legacy of suffering, mystification, and misdiagnosis. In Unwell Women, Elinor Cleghorn traces the almost unbelievable history of how medicine has failed women by treating their bodies as alien and other, often to perilous effect. The result is an authoritative and groundbreaking exploration of the relationship between women and medical practice, from the “wandering womb” of Ancient Greece to the rise of witch trials across Europe, and from the dawn of hysteria as a catchall for difficult-to-diagnose disorders to the first forays into autoimmunity and the shifting understanding of hormones, menstruation, menopause, and conditions like endometriosis. Packed with character studies and case histories of women who have suffered, challenged, and rewritten medical orthodoxy—and the men who controlled their fate—this is a revolutionary examination of the relationship between women, illness, and medicine. With these case histories, Elinor pays homage to the women who suffered so strides could be made, and shows how being unwell has become normalized in society and culture, where women have long been distrusted as reliable narrators of their own bodies and pain. But the time for real change is long overdue: answers reside in the body, in the testimonies of unwell women—and their lives depend on medicine learning to listen.”
  • The Conservative Court. Since the Nixon era, the Supreme Court’s treatment of poverty and racial justice has made it a consistent enemy of society’s most marginalized.” About Supreme Inequality: The Supreme Court’s Fifty-Year Battle for a More Unjust America [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Adam Cohen—”A revelatory examination of the conservative direction of the Supreme Court over the last fifty years. In Supreme Inequality, bestselling author Adam Cohen surveys the most significant Supreme Court rulings since the Nixon era and exposes how, contrary to what Americans like to believe, the Supreme Court does little to protect the rights of the poor and disadvantaged; in fact, it has not been on their side for fifty years. Cohen proves beyond doubt that the modern Court has been one of the leading forces behind the nation’s soaring level of economic inequality, and that an institution revered as a source of fairness has been systematically making America less fair. A triumph of American legal, political, and social history, Supreme Inequality holds to account the highest court in the land and shows how much damage it has done to America’s ideals of equality, democracy, and justice for all.”
  • Realism’s Revenge. Do we have more to learn from the nineteenth-century novel?”—”Today, we are experiencing a new set of enclosures, now of a financial as well as physical variety, the social and environmental effects of which we seem incapable of even thinking through, let alone resisting.” About The Afterlife of Enclosure: British Realism, Character, and the Commons [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Carolyn Lesjak—”The enclosure of the commons, space once available for communal use, was not a singular event but an act of “slow violence” that transformed lands, labor, and basic concepts of public life leading into the nineteenth century. The Afterlife of Enclosure examines three canonical British writers—Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy—as narrators of this history, the long duration and diffuse effects of which required new literary forms to capture the lived experience of enclosure and its aftermath. This study boldly reconceives the realist novel, not as an outdated artifact, but as witness to the material and environmental dispossession of enclosure—and bearer of utopian energies. These writers reinvented a commons committed to the collective nature of the social world. Illuminating the common at the heart of the novel—from common characters to commonplace events—Carolyn Lesjak reveals an experimental figuration of the lost commons, once a defining feature of the British landscape and political imaginary. In the face of privatization, climate change, new enclosures, and the other forms of slow violence unfolding globally today, this book looks back to a literature of historical trauma and locates within it a radical path forward.”
  • In Defense of Slavoj Žižek. Slavoj Zizek has made some serious missteps in recent years — but he remains an important theorist for the Left in our postmodern, neoliberal era.”
  • New volcano in Michoacán? Scientists watchful as micro-quakes increase in number. 236 low magnitude micro-earthquakes have occurred in the area since May 1.”
  • A volcanic eruption 39 million years ago buried a forest in Peru – now the petrified trees are revealing South America’s primeval history.”
  • Time-lapse video shows the ice shelf of one of Antarctica’s largest glaciers breaking into large chunks. One of Antarctica’s largest glaciers is in danger as the ice shelf holding it in place is melting. A time-lapse of Pine Island Glacier taken from 2015 to 2020 shows its ice shelf breaking into chunks. Scientists worry that the ice shelf may collapse more rapidly than previously projected.” Also “Ice Shelf Protecting Critical Glacier Is Rapidly Breaking Up. The Pine Island Glacier’s ice shelf in Antarctica acts like a cork in a bottle preventing melting ice mass from flowing into the ocean.” Also “The Pine Island glacier is speeding up as its ice shelf disintegrates.”
  • Astronomers discover ‘blinking giant’ star near the center of the Milky Way. A mammoth star is playing an interesting game of hide and seek.” Also “Giant blinking star spotted near center of Milky Way galaxy.”
  • Hundreds of mysterious fast radio bursts detected in space.”—”With enough fast radio bursts, it may be possible to map out the large-scale structure of the universe. ‘These large structures make up the filaments of the cosmic web,” said Alex Josephy, a doctoral student in physics at McGill University in Canada. “With the FRB catalog, we have detected this correlation between FRBs and large-scale structure. This is really, really exciting and ushers in a new era of (fast radio burst) cosmology.'”
  • NASA spacecraft captures astonishing views of icy Jupiter moon Ganymede Wowza. The Juno spacecraft performed a close flyby on Monday and delivered some eye-popping images.”
  • A generation of seabirds was wiped out by a drone in O.C. Scientists fear for their future.”
  • More on this: “Move over tardigrades! Rotifers are the new contender for the world’s toughest beasties.”—”Tiny tardigrades, sometimes known as water bears, are amazingly tough and can survive being frozen for 30 years, but an even tinier beastie has just blown that claim to fame out of the water. Bdelloid rotifers – microscopic animals – have been revived by international scientists after being frozen in the Siberian permafrost for 24,000 years. And the tiny animals were not just content with that feat of endurance – once they’d woken up, they quickly began to reproduce themselves. They survive freezing by shutting themselves down almost completely – a state called cryptobiosis. And it’s not just long-term freezing the rotifers laugh in the face of. The scientists say they can also survive drying, starvation and low oxygen.”
  • New discovery shows human cells can write RNA sequences into DNA.”—”Now, Thomas Jefferson University researchers provide the first evidence that RNA segments can be written back into DNA, which potentially challenges the central dogma in biology and could have wide implications affecting many fields of biology.”
  • Nuclear bomb detectors uncover secret population of blue whales hiding in Indian Ocean. Scientists found recordings of their unique song dating back almost 20 years.”
  • I’m always annoyed by articles like this one that appear to be news, but then you find out it’s old, old news. I mean, I think I’ve posted about this very location at least once already, but … “Archaeologists Have Unearthed a 2,000-Year-Old Roman Basilica in Israel That May Have Been Built by Herod the Great. See stunning images of the building.”—”Archaeologists in Israel have unearthed the largest ancient Roman basilica in the nation, a 2,000-year-old building dating to the reign of the Biblical figure Herod the Great, who may have built it.” But: “The British archaeologist John Garstang originally discovered the basilica during an expedition with the Palestinian Exploration Fund in the 1920s, but the site was then reburied. Excavations resumed from 2008 to 2012, and again in 2016, according to the Jerusalem Post.”
  • Gender Differentiates How Facial Expressions Are Processed in the Brains of Alcoholics.”—”Should treatment of alcoholics be different based on gender? Yes, according to a new study that shows that alcoholic men and women respond differently to their disease resulting in different levels of brain activity and brain abnormalities.”
  • Low Doses of ‘Laughing Gas’ Could Be Fast, Effective Treatment for Severe Depression. A new study at the University of Chicago Medicine and Washington University found that a single inhalation session with 25% nitrous oxide gas was nearly as effective as 50% nitrous oxide at rapidly relieving symptoms of treatment-resistant depression, with fewer adverse side effects.”
  • Subatomic particle seen changing to antiparticle and back for the first time. Physicists have proved that a subatomic particle can switch into its antiparticle alter-ego and back again, in a new discovery revealed today. An extraordinarily precise measurement made by Oxford researchers using the LHCb experiment at CERN has provided the first evidence that charm mesons can change into their antiparticle and back again.” Also “LHCb measures tiny mass difference between particles. The result is a milestone in the study of how a particle known as a D0 meson changes from matter into antimatter and back.”
  • ‘Vegan spider silk’ provides sustainable alternative to single-use plastics. Researchers have created a plant-based, sustainable, scalable material that could replace single-use plastics in many consumer products.”
  • Honeybees’ hairy abdomens show how to save energy, reduce wear on materials.”—”Tiny hairs on a honeybee’s abdomen reduce friction during bending, saving large amounts of energy during the bee’s daily activities.”
  • Curtin study finds aspirin takes the headache out of restoration. New Curtin research has shown how a readily available, cheap and safe-to-use product found in the medicine cabinet of most homes could be the key to better ecological restoration practices with major benefits for the environment and agriculture.”
  • Mobile Force Protection Program Concludes with Successful Demonstration. Transition to services now being explored.”
  • New advanced material shows extraordinary stability over wide temperature range. Researchers from UNSW have found an extraordinary material that does not expand or contract over an extremely wide temperature range and may be one of the most stable materials known.”
  • NASA’s Perseverance Rover Begins Its First Science Campaign on Mars. The six-wheeled scientist is heading south to explore Jezero Crater’s lakebed in search of signs of ancient microbial life.”
  • Apple’s WWDC announcements should worry anyone with an Intel Mac.”
  • Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google targeted in bipartisan antitrust reform bills.” Also “Lawmakers, Taking Aim at Big Tech, Push Sweeping Overhaul of Antitrust. A bipartisan group of House members introduced five bills that take direct aim at Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.”
  • Apple Isn’t Just a Walled Garden, It’s a Carrier. The return of the Angry God of ARPU.”—”Given the opportunity again, I have no doubt that the carriers would find ways to exert control, feed the Angry God of ARPU, and thereby stifle innovation. But Apple effectively took that power away from them — but then kept it for itself. The question now is what Apple intends to do with that power.”
  • SpaceX StarLink: how it could kickstart an ‘uncontrolled experiment’. ‘mega-constellations [like StarLink] will begin this process as an uncontrolled experiment.'”—”Deliberately putting huge quantities of alumina dust into the atmosphere seems like a dangerous experiment, like introducing cane toads to Australia — a reasonable idea at the time which has terrible unforeseen consequences.”
  • What Space Billionaires Cost Us. Jeff Bezos’ quick trip into outer space is about more than just publicity.”
  • Texas Republican asks: can we fix the moon’s orbit to fight climate change? ‘I’d have to follow up with you on that one,’ says forestry official Jennifer Eberlien to bizarre question from Louie Gohmert.”
  • I mean, the entire Bitcoin transaction log is a public ledger. Why would anyone think that was actually anonymous? Only marginally obscure.”Pipeline Investigation Upends Idea That Bitcoin Is Untraceable. The F.B.I.’s recovery of Bitcoins paid in the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack showed cryptocurrencies are not as hard to track as it might seem.” See also “How to Read a Blockchain’s Transaction History“—”Blockchains are public ledgers, meaning anyone can see all transactions ever made” “Cryptocurrencies are known to be completely transparent and that all transactions are verifiable.”
  • Hackers breach Electronic Arts, stealing game source code and tools.”
  • DeepMind says reinforcement learning is ‘enough’ to reach general AI.”—”In a new paper submitted to the peer-reviewed Artificial Intelligence journal, scientists at U.K.-based AI lab DeepMind argue that intelligence and its associated abilities will emerge not from formulating and solving complicated problems but by sticking to a simple but powerful principle: reward maximization.” Also “Reward is enough.”—”In this article we hypothesise that intelligence, and its associated abilities, can be understood as subserving the maximisation of reward. Accordingly, reward is enough to drive behaviour that exhibits abilities studied in natural and artificial intelligence, including knowledge, learning, perception, social intelligence, language, generalisation and imitation. This is in contrast to the view that specialised problem formulations are needed for each ability, based on other signals or objectives. Furthermore, we suggest that agents that learn through trial and error experience to maximise reward could learn behaviour that exhibits most if not all of these abilities, and therefore that powerful reinforcement learning agents could constitute a solution to artificial general intelligence.”
  • Theses on Techno-Optimism.”—”What follows is an attempt to consider some of the aspects and implications of techno-optimism. It is an attitude that has become somewhat taken for granted, which is precisely why it is important to consider what it is and how it functions.”
  • Saudi Arabia Says The Hajj Will Be Limited To 60,000 People.”
  • Southern Baptist Convention rocked by secret recordings and leaked letters.” Also “‘Our Lord Isn’t Woke.’ Southern Baptists Clash Over Their Future. The big evangelical denomination is about to elect a new leader to help set its course after the Trump presidency.”
  • The perfect storm making everything you need more expensive.”
  • New Trump scandal shows the depth of his assault on America’s democratic foundations.”—”New revelations suggesting that the Trump administration abused Justice Department powers to target his political enemies underscore just how far the ex-President went to destroy cherished principles of American republican government. They show that the true extent of assaults on democracy by Donald Trump are still coming to light and are probably even now not fully known. But this is not just a drama about the alleged misbehavior of a former President. Taken together with the Republican Party’s refusal to hold Trump — who remains the GOP’s dominant figure — to account for the Capitol insurrection and its nationwide efforts to restrict voting, the new allegations also indicate that the freedoms and core values that have underpinned American life for two-and-a-half centuries remain in almost unprecedented peril.”
  • France is sending a second Statue of Liberty to the US.”—”New Yorkers have a surprise gift to look forward to for this Independence Day: a second Statue of Liberty sent by France. This new bronze statue, nicknamed the “little sister,” is one-sixteenth the size of the world-famous one that stands on Liberty Island. On Monday, during a special ceremony, the smaller sibling was lifted and loaded into a special container at the National Museum of Arts and Crafts (CNAM) in central Paris, where it has been installed since 2011 in the museum’s garden. It will be erected on Ellis Island, just across the water from the original, from July 1 to July 5. The statue, over 450 kilograms (992 pounds) in weight and just shy of 10 feet tall, was first made in 2009. It is an exact replica of the original 1878 plaster model preserved by CNAM.”
  • Leaving Orthodoxy, Again.”—”Losing faith in Orthodox Judaism is an old story. But today it’s often the ‘heretics’ who rely on faith, and the ‘faithful’ who draw on science.”
  • If it’s fake, can it still be inspiring?“—”Forged artifacts are a fact of life in the archaeological community. How should we, as Pagans who rely on archaeology for our religion, relate to these objects?”
  • 4-day workweek option proposed.”—”Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party is requesting that the government introduce an elective four-day workweek system allowing employees to take three days off per week, according to a draft of the ruling party’s proposal.”
  • Tweet thread—”1/ We obtained the outcomes of 64 incidents of alleged police misconduct captured on video during last year’s George Floyd protests that were investigated internally by the NYPD. Here are some of the results… https://buff.ly/2RBxZDI ”
  • Watch “We are Fandom Forward (The Harry Potter Alliance’s new name!)“—”Fandom Forward turns fans into heroes. We used to be the HPA – but we changed! Find out why and how you can join our Founders’ Circle! http://bit.ly/fandomforwardfounders We use the power of story and popular culture to make activism accessible and sustainable. Through experiential training and real life campaigns, we develop compassionate, skillful leaders who learn to approach our world’s problems with joy, creativity, and commitment to equity. Learn more about Fandom Forward and how you can get involved at http://fandomforward.org ”
  • Ground Rules. Manhattan goes outdoors.”—”But even Manhattan’s less deadly local parks and commons aren’t always welcoming places. Designed in a willful dream of perpetual spring or of autumn in New York, they are increasingly inappropriate for our brutal anthropocene winters and summers. Even pedestrianized asphalt streets re-radiate heat back up at you. Even officially sanctioned parkland barbecuing gets policed by vigilantes. Maybe for this reason, so much of Manhattan’s history is written in bars and nightclubs—and especially in restaurants that feel a little like bars and nightclubs. If your apartment is too small and familiar to have people over, and your parks and commons are threadbare and inhospitable by incompetence or intent, you go out to restaurants. Here you find public privacy and urbane intimacy. The extent to which restaurants seem essential in any city is a measure of its failure to provide citizens with good places to assemble.”
  • Awe makes us happier, healthier and humbler.”—”Awe is defined by novelty and vastness”. “Adults can have daily experiences of awe, too, but it requires the right mindset. People need to slow down, to pause, to be present and observe the world around them. It can be difficult to experience awe when there are so many things competing for our attention. Stress and excessive rumination can make it more difficult to find things to marvel at.”
  • The ‘lost’ George Romero movie The Amusement Park is a surreal plunge into the horror of getting old.”
  • A Guide To Gender Identity Terms.”—”Issues of equality and acceptance of transgender and nonbinary people — along with challenges to their rights — have become a major topic in the headlines. These issues can involve words and ideas and identities that are new to some. That’s why we’ve put together a glossary of terms relating to gender identity. Our goal is to help people communicate accurately and respectfully with one another. Proper use of gender identity terms, including pronouns, is a crucial way to signal courtesy and acceptance. Alex Schmider, associate director of transgender representation at GLAAD, compares using someone’s correct pronouns to pronouncing their name correctly – “a way of respecting them and referring to them in a way that’s consistent and true to who they are.””
  • Watch “Ancient Greek Olives – Gifts from A Goddess
  • Watch “The Slaughter: Magdalene – Paint a portrait in this short interlude!” Also the game “The Slaughter: Magdalene“—”A short interlude from the world of The Slaughter” which can run in the browser.
  • Watch “How radical gardeners took back New York City“—”Seed bombs, the ‘tree lady of Brooklyn,’ and the roots of urban gardening.”
  • Watch “The chef cooking up insect ‘flavour bombs’“—”‘Why aren’t we eating what two billion other people already consume in the world?’ asks New York chef Joseph Yoon, who specialises in cooking with insects. 🦗 Billions of cicadas – insects that spend almost their entire lifecycle below ground – have emerged in the eastern US after spending 17 years underground. Self-described ‘edible insect ambassador’ Yoon promotes the use of insect protein in American diets through his group, Brooklyn Bugs.”
  • Watch “The Sandman | Behind The Scenes Sneak Peek.”—”An early look behind the scenes of the first ever screen adaptation of Netflix’s The Sandman, based on the DC comic book series from Neil Gaiman.”, coming to Netflix.
  • Watch “Comic Artists Are Waging a War, and We Joined the Frontlines“—”We entered the War for Rayuba, one of the largest Original Character Tournaments in the world.”
  • Watch “The Mysterious Benedict Society“, official trailer, coming to Disney+—”Together they’ll uncover the mystery to the truth. The #MysteriousBenedictSociety, an Original Series, starts streaming June 25 on #DisneyPlus.”
  • Watch “Masters of the Universe: Revelation“, official teaser, coming to Netflix—”From Executive Producer Kevin Smith, comes an epic story that picks up where the 80’s series left off and brings the power of Grayskull back to the world. Part 1 of Masters of the Universe: Revelation premieres July 23, only on Netflix.”
  • Dove Cameron Explained Why The Live-Action ‘Powerpuff Girls’ Pilot Is Being Reshot After CW Executives Called It ‘Too Campy’. ‘They didn’t decide to rework the pilot because the script leaked…that wasn’t what happened.'”