Omnium Gatherum: 16jun2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for June 16, 2021

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

  • In collaboration with Hermetic Library (and Odd Order!) Anthology Artist Children of Osiris, I’m currently running a special offer for a gratis download code for their album Abramelin to Hermetic Library Patrons on Patreon and Subscribers on Bandcamp on a first-come basis, and I’ve still got a lot left, so if you’d like to get in on that, do consider jumping in, even if it is just a buck a month in the tip jar!
  • And, again for Hermetic Library, but you might be interested, I’ve got an open Call for submissions to Magick, Music and Ritual 16; as well as I am looking for people to send something in for the Zine which I’m still faintly hoping to get out for Aphelion, but I definitely need more submissions for that to happen (but if it doesn’t, there will be a release for Perihelion in January instead.)
  • Loki’s Place in Trickster Mythology. Smithsonian’s James Deutsch says that behind the character in the new Marvel Studios series lies the oft-told story of “guile” outsmarting authority.”
  • Philosophy of the Sky [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher] by Evan Isoline—”Philosophy of the Sky is not a work of philosophy in an academic or traditional sense. It is, however, highly philosophical, totemic, and personal. In the book, Evan uses the sky as an abstract philosophical concept, like a cinematic backdrop, to explore conceptual associations between selfhood, objecthood, the body, apocalypticism, masculinity, masturbation, and self-destruction. The text, symbol, and glyph are partially augmented by chance cut-up processes such as language translators, Markov chain generators, and AI natural language generators for the purpose of eliminating narrative preconception, discovering subconscious visual realms, and spotlighting a point of tension between natural and artificial aesthetic forms. The formatting of text becomes an important cinematographic framing tool.”
  • Homegrown Fascism.” Excerpt from Being Numerous: Essays on Non-Fascist Life [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Natasha Lennard—”An urgent challenge to the prevailing moral order from one of the freshest, most compelling voices in radical politics today. Being Numerous shatters the mainstream consensus on politics and personhood, offering in its place a bracing analysis of a perilous world and how we should live in it. Beginning with an interrogation of what it means to fight fascism, Natasha Lennard explores the limits of individual rights, the criminalization of political dissent, the myths of radical sex, and the ghosts in our lives. At once politically committed and philosophically capacious, Being Numerous is a revaluation of the idea that the personal is political, and situates as the central question of our time—How can we live a non-fascist life?”
  • We’ve Been Telling the Alamo Story Wrong for Nearly 200 Years. Now It’s Time to Correct the Record.”—”Imagine if the U.S. were to open interior Alaska for colonization and, for whatever reason, thousands of Canadian settlers poured in, establishing their own towns, hockey rinks and Tim Hortons stores. When the U.S. insists they follow American laws and pay American taxes, they refuse. When the government tries to collect taxes, they shoot and kill American soldiers. When law enforcement goes after the killers, the colonists, backed by Canadian financing and mercenaries, take up arms in open revolt. As an American, how would you feel?” “If that’s not the version of history you’re familiar with, you’re not alone.” “What happened in the past can’t change. But the way we view it does—and, as a state and a country, now is the time to teach the next generation our history, not our myths.” By Bryan Burrough and Jason Stanford, the authors, with Chris Tomlinson, of Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”Three noted Texan writers combine forces to tell the real story of the Alamo, dispelling the myths, exploring why they had their day for so long, and explaining why the ugly fight about its meaning is now coming to a head. Every nation needs its creation myth, and since Texas was a nation before it was a state, it’s no surprise that its myths bite deep. There’s no piece of history more important to Texans than the Battle of the Alamo, when Davy Crockett and a band of rebels went down in a blaze of glory fighting for independence from Mexico, losing the battle but setting Texas up to win the war. However, that version of events, as Forget the Alamo definitively shows, owes more to fantasy than reality. Just as the site of the Alamo was left in ruins for decades, its story was forgotten and twisted over time, with the contributions of Tejanos–Texans of Mexican origin, who fought alongside the Anglo rebels–scrubbed from the record, and the origin of the conflict over Mexico’s push to abolish slavery papered over. Forget the Alamo provocatively explains the true story of the battle against the backdrop of Texas’s struggle for independence, then shows how the sausage of myth got made in the Jim Crow South of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. As uncomfortable as it may be to hear, celebrating the Alamo has long had an echo of celebrating whiteness. In the past forty-some years, waves of revisionists have come at this topic, and at times have made real progress toward a more nuanced and inclusive story that doesn’t alienate anyone. But we are not living in one of those times; the fight over the Alamo’s meaning has become more pitched than ever in the past few years, even violent, as Texas’s future begins to look more and more different from its past. It’s the perfect time for a wise and generous-spirited book that shines the bright light of the truth into a place that’s gotten awfully dark.”
  • Tweet—”Goddam, Texas; y’all’s republicans fuckin love an extractive, fossil fuel-based economy, don’t they?” About tweet—”I just signed a law for Texas to create a master plan for expanding the blockchain industry in Texas.” Also, ffs, “Texans Asked To Conserve Energy As Main Power Grid Struggles To Keep Up. Grid operator ERCOT came under fire earlier this year for dangerous power outages that left millions without electricity and hundreds dead.”
  • Texas Governor Signs Law To Stop Teachers From Talking About Racism. ‘The idea is to whitewash American history of any legacy of racism,’ said state Democratic Rep. James Talarico.”
  • Going Medieval On White Supremacists (Rebroadcast)“—”The Middle Ages spanned roughly a thousand years – and encompassed all seven continents. But when most Americans think about Medieval times (not the restaurant), our brains go straight to an all-white version of Medieval Europe that never really existed. The myth is so pernicious, white supremacists have used it to draw people to their cause for more than a hundred years. Last month, it was even alluded to in a memo calling on Republicans to form a caucus driven by ‘Anglo-Saxon political traditions.’ So, while we still hear a lot about the Vikings, the Celts, and the supposed ‘Anglo-Saxons,’ what were those groups really like? And what does our misunderstanding of the Middle Ages mean for how we view our world today?”
  • Senate Passes Bill Establishing Juneteenth As A National Holiday. The legislation passed unanimously on Tuesday after Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) dropped his objection.” Also “Senate unanimously passes a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.”
  • More on this: “New emails show how Trump and his allies pressured Justice Department to try to challenge 2020 election results.” Also “4 takeaways from the latest batch of Trump’s election-related emails.”
  • US intel report warns of more violence by QAnon followers.”—” A new federal intelligence report warns that adherents of QAnon, the conspiracy theory embraced by some in the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol, could target Democrats and other political opponents for more violence as the movement’s false prophecies increasingly fail to come true.”
  • ESA flying payloads on wooden satellite. The world’s first wooden satellite is on the way, in the shape of the Finnish WISA Woodsat. ESA materials experts are contributing a suite of experimental sensors to the mission as well as helping with pre-flight testing.”
  • Boundary of heliosphere mapped for the first time.”—”‘Physics models have theorized this boundary for years,’ said Dan Reisenfeld, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and lead author on the paper, which was published in the Astrophysical Journal today. ‘But this is the first time we’ve actually been able to measure it and make a three-dimensional map of it.’ The heliosphere is a bubble created by the solar wind, a stream of mostly protons, electrons, and alpha particles that extends from the Sun into interstellar space and protects the Earth from harmful interstellar radiation.”
  • Researchers Create Switchable Mirrors from Liquid Metal. Approach could be used to create electrically controlled mirrors for art or advanced devices.” Or, you know, an alternative to a mercury filled scrying glass, that could also double as an info display panel!
  • Star’s death will play a mean pinball with rhythmic planets.”—”Four planets locked in a perfect rhythm around a nearby star are destined to be pinballed around their solar system when their sun eventually dies, according to a study led by the University of Warwick that peers into its future.”
  • Discovery of the largest rotation in the universe. By mapping the motion of galaxies in huge filaments that connect the cosmic web, astronomers at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), in collaboration with scientists in China and Estonia, have found that these long tendrils of galaxies spin on the scale of hundreds of millions of light years. A rotation on such enormous scales has never been seen before. The results published in Nature Astronomy signify that angular momentum can be generated on unprecedented scales.”
  • Vitamin D deficiency may increase risk for addiction to opioids and ultraviolet rays.”—”Lab animals deficient in vitamin D crave and become dependent on opioids, which is curbed when normal levels of the vitamin are restored. Human health records indicate that people with low vitamin D are more likely to use and misuse opioids. Study results suggest a potential role for vitamin D supplementation in fighting opioid addiction.”
  • U.S. Space Force successfully launches first tactically responsive launch mission.”—”Tactically responsive launch, as a concept, seeks to introduce speed, agility, and flexibility into the launch enterprise in order to respond to dynamic changes in the space domain or an operational theater and insert or replace assets on orbit much faster than standard timelines to meet emerging combatant command requirements.” “The team presented an integrated Space Domain Awareness satellite ready for launch in record time; what normally would have required two to five years, took 11 months.” “‘The space domain is defined by speed,’ Raymond said. ‘And with this effort, we demonstrated the kind of speed it will take to win. We executed a ’21-day call-up’ to get a satellite on orbit – pulling the payload, mating it with the rocket and integrating the combined package onto the aircraft.”
  • Bionic reconstruction: New foot for ‘Mia’ the bearded vulture. Bird of prey can land and walk again with two feet and as the first ‘bionic bird'”—”With Oskar Aszmann and his team at the Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, MedUni Vienna has long been regarded as a world leader in bionic limb reconstruction. It was only last year that the world’s first fully integrated bionic arm prosthesis was developed at MedUni Vienna. This is ready-to-use and is described as ‘Plug and Play’. Although all bionic aids have so far been used in humans, the technique known as osseointegration (direct skeletal attachment) has now been used for the very first time in a bearded vulture – the creature was given a new foot. A paper on this ground-breaking procedure has been published today (Friday) in the prestigious Journal ‘Scientific Reports’.”
  • Discovery of ray sperms’ unique swimming motion and demonstration with bio-inspired robot.“—”It is generally agreed that sperms “swim” by beating or rotating their soft tails. However, a research team led by scientists from City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has discovered that ray sperms move by rotating both the tail and the head. The team further investigated the motion pattern and demonstrated it with a robot. Their study has expanded the knowledge on the microorganisms’ motion and provided inspiration for robot engineering design.”
  • Injectable microspheres to repair failing hearts. Biodegradable microspheres can be used to deliver heart cells generated from stem cells to repair damaged hearts after a heart attack, according to new findings by UCL researchers.”
  • Exoplanets: Liquid water on exomoons of free-floating planets. The moons of planets that have no parent star can possess an atmosphere and retain liquid water. Astrophysicists at LMU have calculated that such systems could harbor sufficient water to make life possible – and sustain it.”
  • The problem at the heart of modern psychedelic clinical research. How much of a problem is it if participants in psychedelic clinical trials can easily tell they have been given a placebo? New Zealand researcher Suresh Muthukumaraswamy suggests it is a big problem and many findings from recent psychedelic trials may be over-estimated.”
  • Snails carrying the world’s smallest computer help solve mass extinction survivor mystery. Study yields new insights into the survival of a native snail important to Tahitian culture and ecology and to biologists studying evolution.”
  • SLS: First view of Nasa’s assembled ‘megarocket’. Nasa has assembled the first of its powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rockets, which will carry humans to the Moon this decade.”
  • Why Cloudflare Let an Extremist Stronghold Burn. When an internet infrastructure company was dragged into a free-speech controversy, its CEO struggled to maintain ideals that many people in tech hold dear.”—”But a system designed to address copyright infringement proved to be less adept at dealing with Nazis.”
  • Following that article in the last OG about thinking of Apple as a carrier: “Spurred by Clarence Thomas, Ohio AG wants Google declared a public utility. Ohio lawsuit quotes Justice Thomas’ opinion that websites can be common carriers.”
  • Every little bit helps: “Improving Search to better protect people from harassment.”
  • The Amazon That Customers Don’t See. Each year, hundreds of thousands of workers churn through a vast mechanism that hires and monitors, disciplines and fires. Amid the pandemic, the already strained system lurched.”—”When the coronavirus shut down New York last spring, many residents came to rely on a colossal building they had never heard of: JFK8, Amazon’s only fulfillment center in America’s largest city. What happened inside shows how Jeff Bezos created the workplace of the future and pulled off the impossible during the pandemic — but also reveals what’s standing in the way of his promise to do better by his employees.”
  • WPI Researcher Develops Self-Healing Concrete that Could Multiply Structures’ Lifespans, Slash Damaging CO2 Emissions. Research published in Applied Materials Today focuses on using an enzyme found in red blood cells; longer-lasting concrete would reduce CO2 emissions.”
  • Israeli nationalists march in East Jerusalem, raising tensions with Palestinians.” Reminds me of Orange walk. See also “Why do Orangemen march? The Twelfth of July explained Annual Orange parades celebrate a centuries-old Protestant victory over Catholics.” And, you know, like the lifted 4×4 that menacingly drove loud & fast around the streets here with a huge ass Trump flag on election night last year. Also “Israel Launches Airstrikes On Gaza As Cease-Fire Crumbles. The attack follows 11 days of Israeli airstrikes in May that destroyed Gaza, displacing families and killing hundreds of Palestinian civilians.”—”During the march, hundreds of Jewish ultranationalists ― many of whom were youth ― were heard chanting ‘Death to Arabs’ in Hebrew. In another anti-Palestinian chant, they said, ‘May your village burn.'”
  • More Gravesites for Indigenous Children Discovered at Canadian Residential Schools. After the discovery in Kamloops, Indigenous nations in Manitoba and Saskatchewan confirmed more than 100 more children so far, with more expected across Canada.”
  • Reality Winner, Who Leaked Government Secrets, Is Released From Prison. Out on good behavior, the former National Security Agency contractor was sent to a halfway house.” Also “NSA Leaker Reality Winner Released Early From Prison for Good Behavior.” But: “Her release is not a product of the pardon or compassionate release process, but rather the time earned from exemplary behavior while incarcerated”. So, again, she did it herself.
  • McConnell haunts Democrats with new threat to block Biden court nominee.”—”Mitch McConnell just did it again. The Senate minority leader, whose dubious maneuvering to turn the Supreme Court to the far right still haunts liberals, just previewed a fresh scheme to bolster conservative judicial supremacy on the nation’s top bench for years to come, with widespread consequences for all three branches of government.”
  • From the Concentration, Consolidation and Enclosure dept: “If You Sell a House These Days, the Buyer Might Be a Pension Fund. Yield-chasing investors are snapping up single-family homes, competing with ordinary Americans and driving up prices.”
  • Hungarians protest against PM Orban’s LGBTQ rights crackdown.”
  • House Judiciary Committee Will Probe Trump Subpoenas Against Media, Democrats. ‘Congress must make it extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, for the Department to spy on the Congress or the news media,’ said Rep. Jerrold Nadler.”
  • Marjorie Taylor Greene Visits Holocaust Museum To Remind Herself That Genocide Is Bad. The Georgia Republican’s comments came after intense bipartisan backlash for her efforts to compare pandemic-era public health guidelines to the Holocaust.”
  • Interior Secretary Recommends Biden Restore National Monuments Trump Trashed. The Biden administration looks set to undo former President Donald Trump’s attacks on Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.”
  • Euphoria of the Rentier?“—”it is a bold and necessary look beyond capitalism’s rentier morbidity—one that makes the dream of a democratic and decentralized communism an almost tangible possibility.”
  • The Big Oil Instagram Influencers Are Here.”—”Compared to some other brands, Big Oil has made relatively small forays into the world of Instagram marketing—but if history is any indication, they’re just getting started.”
  • Fabulous Beasts: Angela Carter, Vampirella & The Company of Wolves”—”Graham Williamson inspects the late author Angela Carter’s Vampirella, its abandoned cinematic dramatisation and how more of her exquisite horror tales remain curiously unmade…”
  • Watch “Gunpowder Milkshake“, official Trailer. Directed by Navot Papushado, with Karen Gillan, Carla Gugino, Lena Headey, Paul Giamatti, Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett, &c.
  • This is bonkers. Like Kung Fu Fury level bonkers. Maybe even more so? Also, an insightful roast of monetization and the entire tech industry and culture. “Devolver MaxPass+ Showcase | Monetization as a Service” The games are mostly okay, with Inscryption and Wizard with a Gun as standouts, but it’s the live action bits starting at 01:52, with a big intro and between “Future Premium Purchase” game promos, that are ::chef’s kiss:: roflmao wild. I just … you deserve to experience this yourself. Kudos to everyone involved.
  • How an Art Museum Betrays Its Social Class Bias.”—”I did not feel that the presentation of Thiebaud’s work in this show was strictly incorrect. It did, however, underscore the persistent omission and dampening of analysis of the relationship between socio-economic class and the artist or the artist’s work throughout the TMA. Those at the top of the hierarchical structure of the TMA, like many private museums, discourage such readings as a matter of class interest.”
  • Three Transgender Kids Share Their Stories.”—”Happy Pride Month! 2021 has been a record year for anti-trans legislation, and we stand in support of our transgender friends and readers. This month, I was thrilled to interview three amazing transgender kids. Below they share their favorite hobbies, how they transitioned at school, and the advice they’d give other kids…”
  • Portal — a Bridge to the United Planet.”—”Portal invites you to experience our world as it is – united and one – without borders, prejudices, and labels of us and them for the first time in history countries and their people have such a way to connect in real-time. A non-profit initiative – Portal – is a bridge leading us – me, you, and them – to the awareness of unity. Portal awakens our perception of meeting and welcoming them – somebody we usually exclude, or find different – people and cultures we don’t yet know. Portal will form a network soon so that in the next decade our planet would no longer seem separate.” Watch “‘Portal’ connects people in different cities.”—”Residents of Lithuania’s capital and Poland’s Lublin can now see each other going about their daily lives in real time, thanks to a ‘portal’ sending live video to one another’s cities.”
  • Rise of the Smog God: Ecological Apocalypse in ‘Godzilla vs. Hedorah’.”—”By pitting [Godzilla] against Hedorah, Kaiju maverick Yoshimitsu Banno made a bold statement about climate change, the Anthropocene, and pollution that was years ahead of its time.”
  • Surprising shared word etymologies.”—”My definition of ‘surprising’ was a pair of words that have orthogonal definitions but a shared etymological history. “Orthogonal definitions” here means they relate to two very different things (like “bacteria” and “imbecile”), not just that they have opposite meanings (like “anything” and “nothing”). Another way of phrasing this is that the two words are semantically very different.”
  • Mother Lands is a tabletop role-playing game free of slavery and colonialism. An Afrofuturist game inspired by Black Panther and Star Trek.” About Mother Lands which is crowdfunding with 3 days to go: “Into the Mother Lands – An Original Afrofuturist TTRPG. Setting book for Into the Mother Lands RPG!!!”
  • Pinnacle Entertainment is launching a crowdfunding effort for RIFTS Atlantis on June 22, through July 6. “Shrouded by the Demon Seas, birthplace of an ancient and wondrous civilization, and now host to a bizarre cosmic evil: Atlantis is a destination like no other. Uncover the secrets of the True Atlanteans and their powerful tattoos, explore enigmatic pyramids which first opened Earth to the Megaverse®, survive the wrath of monsters from the depths, and fight back against chthonic horrors bent on terror and subjugation!”
  • More on this: “George A. Romero’s rediscovered ‘lost film’ is terrible, but horror fans are right to be excited. Turns out The Amusement Park was lost for a reason.”
  • DC Says Batman Can’t Go Down On Catwoman Since ‘Heroes Don’t Do That’. Twitter was not tongue-tied when news broke that the show ‘Harley Quinn’ originally had a scene where the caped crusader performed oral sex.”—”It’s hard to sell a toy if Batman is also going down on someone.” “Thankfully, Twitter users were up for making jokes about DC not wanting Batman going down.”
  • Speaking of going down: “Lobster Diver Nearly Swallowed By Humpback Has A Whale Of A Tale To Tell. ‘All of a sudden, I felt this huge shove and the next thing I knew it was completely black,’ Michael Packard told the Cape Cod Times.”
  • Um. “Socialist-Themed Vegan Food Company Lays Off Workers Without Notice Or Severance. Workers at No Evil Foods’ North Carolina plant were furious at the news, according to audio of the layoff announcement.”
  • Here are the pioneering women who will be on new quarters. Beginning in 2022, women’s faces will appear on quarters for the first time, and the public will help choose who will be minted.”
  • The woman who forced the US government to take UFOs seriously. In 1999, Leslie Kean was handed a 90-page report of UFO sightings by pilots. After publishing her first story on the subject, she was hooked.”
  • Shakespeare quotes, rewritten for business class.”—”Yesterday, Twitter learned that UNC Chapel Hill was hiring a lecturer to teach courses in both Shakespeare and business writing (at a rate of… $8,000 per course). Of course, if the university really wanted to streamline operations, the two could be seamlessly combined. (You’re welcome, UNC English department.)”
  • Moony McMoonface? “Bracket Contest to Help NASA Name ‘Moonikin’ Flying on Artemis I Mission Around Moon.” Yeah, it’s a bracketed contest, so no random suggestions. Bummer.