Omnium Gatherum: 27jun2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for June 27, 2021

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

  • The Imitation of Consciousness: On the Present and Future of Natural Language Processing. Stephen Marche Considers AI, Machine Learning, and ‘the Labyrinth of Another’s Being'”
  • 5,500-Year-Old Burial Mound With Stone Circle Unearthed In Ukraine.“—”In east-central Ukraine excavations of a unique kurgan or burial mound have been underway for more than 1.5 months. The discovery was made during road works in the village of Novooleksandrivka, some ten kilometres south of the large town of Dnipro.” Watch “В Новоалександровке раскапывают древний скифский курган” (An ancient Scythian burial mound is being excavated in Novoaleksandrovka)
  • Discovery of ‘Dragon Man’ Skull in China May Add Species to Human Family Tree. A laborer discovered the fossil and hid it in a well for 85 years. Scientists say it could help sort out the human family tree and how our species emerged.”—”Scientists on Friday announced that a massive fossilized skull that is at least 140,000 years old is a new species of ancient human, a finding that could potentially change prevailing views of how — and even where — our species, Homo sapiens, evolved.” Also “‘Dragon man’ fossil may replace Neanderthals as our closest relative.”—”A near-perfectly preserved ancient human fossil known as the Harbin cranium sits in the Geoscience Museum in Hebei GEO University. The largest of known Homo skulls, scientists now say this skull represents a newly discovered human species named Homo longi or “Dragon Man.” Their findings, appearing in three papers publishing June 25 in the journal The Innovation, suggest that the Homo longi lineage may be our closest relatives—and has the potential to reshape our understanding of human evolution.” Also “Dragon Man: ancient skull from China could be new human species. A huge cranium found in the Songhua River in China represents a new sister lineage for Homo sapiens. It dates to at least 146,000 years old.” Also “Massive human head in Chinese well forces scientists to rethink evolution. ‘Dragon man’ skull reveals new branch of family tree more closely related to modern humans than Neanderthals.”
  • Crushing climate impacts to hit sooner than feared: draft UN report.”—”‘Life on Earth can recover from a drastic climate shift by evolving into new species and creating new ecosystems,’ it says. ‘Humans cannot.'”
  • Chinese rocket manufacturer outlines manned Mars mission roadmap, timetable.”—”China’s prime rocket manufacturer has unveiled a roadmap for the country’s future manned Mars exploration missions, which not only includes manned landing missions but also Mars base building.”
  • Yeah, but where are they going to find quarters for the machine?! “Tide to Design First Laundry Detergent for Space, To Begin Stain Removal Testing on International Space Station in 2022. The Procter & Gamble laundry brand partners with NASA in a Space Act Agreement to explore how to efficiently clean astronauts’ clothing in resource-constrained environments, including the Artemis Moon missions and future Mars missions.”
  • This ought to hold up in the space washing-machine! “Ultralight material withstands supersonic microparticle impacts. The new carbon-based material could be a basis for lighter, tougher alternatives to Kevlar and steel.”
  • Is it … blood from when they MURDERED A PLANET?! “Pluto is covered in huge red patches and we don’t know what they are.”
  • NASA Head Seeks New Funding for Annual Moon Landings ‘Over a Dozen Years’.”
  • Even the Hubble Space Telescope’s backup computer is glitching now — raising new questions about what’s gone wrong.” Also “Operations Underway to Restore Payload Computer on NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. NASA Completes Additional Tests to Diagnose Computer Problem on Hubble Space Telescope”
  • Electric Vehicles Won’t Save Us. Why EV’s are false prophets in the fight for a better world.”—”This isn’t a story about Elon Musk, or Tesla, or a contrarian take about how “oil is good, actually.” I unconditionally support electric vehicles in their quest to take over the primacy of gasoline-powered vehicles in the market. But I don’t save that enthusiasm for their prospects on society broadly. From the perspective of the built environment, there is nothing functionally different between an electric vehicle and a gasoline propelled one. The relationship is the same, and it’s unequivocally destructive. Cars, however they’re powered, are environmentally cataclysmic, break the tethers of community, and force an infrastructure of dependency that is as financially ruinous to our country as it is dangerous to us as people. In order to build a more sustainable future and a better world for humanity, we need to address the root problems that have brought us to where we so perilously lie today.”
  • A Messy Utopia Is All We Might Get. Climate change didn’t just wreck the planet; it closed off and reshaped the future. Even utopia—if we reach it—will be a mess.”
  • AI helps return Rembrandt’s The Night Watch to original size. Rijksmuseum reproduces Dutch master’s work in all its glory, 300 years after it was cut to fit between doors.” Also Operation Night Watch
  • Facebook Filed a Patent For an AR Hat, The Latest in its Evolving AR Push“—”Forget AR glasses, according to a new patent registered by Facebook, The Social Network is developing an AR hat, which would expand the immersion of the device, and facilitate more advanced AR experiences within an isolated, standalone unit.”
  • What Happened to Electronic Civil Disobedience?.”—”I first encountered electronic civil disobedience when researching a later project by EDT. My journey into the topic was littered with broken links, 404 pages, static screen grabs. I wondered why these works of net-based protest art had been largely forgotten, and whether there was any merit in dusting them off today. ”
  • Google turned me into a serial killer.”—”As I was scrolling through my inbox today, I stumbled upon an e-mail from a former colleague of mine who wanted to inform me that a Google search of my name yields a picture of me linked to a Wikipedia article about a serial killer who happens to have the same name as mine.”
  • Do Chance Meetings at the Office Boost Innovation? There’s No Evidence of It. For some, the office even stifles creativity. As the pandemic eases in the U.S., a few companies seek to reimagine what work might look like.”
  • Genome study reveals East Asian coronavirus epidemic 20,000 years ago.”—”An international study has discovered a coronavirus epidemic broke out in the East Asia region more than 20,000 years ago, with traces of the outbreak evident in the genetic makeup of people from that area.”
  • Fifty-nine labs around world handle the deadliest pathogens – only a quarter score high on safety.”—”That still leaves a large proportion of scientific research on coronaviruses carried out in countries with no oversight of dual-use research or gain-of-function experiments. This is particularly concerning as gain-of-function research with coronaviruses is likely to increase as scientists seek to better understand these viruses and to identify which viruses pose a higher risk of jumping from animals to humans or becoming transmissible between humans. More countries are expected to seek BSL4 labs, too, in the wake of the pandemic as part of a renewed emphasis on pandemic preparedness and response. While the COVID-19 pandemic has served as a stark reminder of the risks posed by infectious diseases and the importance of a robust biomedical research enterprise for saving lives, we also need to keep in mind that such research can carry risks of its own. Good science and smart policy, however, can keep those risks in check and allow humanity to reap the benefits of this research.”
  • Maybe We’re Asking Vaccine Skeptics the Wrong Question. There’s a better way to frame their options.”—”all of us are going to get vaccinated one way or the other. Sooner or later—and probably sooner, since the supercharged delta variant already accounts for 10 percent of U.S. infections, and that share is doubling every two weeks—people who don’t take one of the approved vaccines will get the virus. They might think of that as an alternative to vaccination, but it’s not. The virus will do the same thing the vaccines do: It will provoke their immune systems to develop antibodies. The difference is that the virus, unlike the vaccines, will attack their bodies and quite possibly kill them.”
  • Israel Is Sending Robots With Machine Guns to the Gaza Border. The ‘world’s largest open-air prison’ gets a new set of guards.”
  • Wait. Hold on. What exactly is in this ‘cultured meat’ being made in Israel? “Future Meat Technologies Launches World’s First Industrial Cultured Meat Production Facility. Company opens the first industrial cultured meat facility, with immediate outlook toward U.S. expansion.”
  • The Gas Tax is Obsolete. Here’s a Better Idea. It’s based on the simple principle that those who benefit should contribute.”—”The solution is to evolve from a “user pays” to a “beneficiary pays” system. This approach recognizes that in our modern economy there are many beneficiaries who are not “users” of the national highway system but are definitely dependent on it. Right now, many who benefit from our transportation system do not pay for its upkeep or improvement. For instance, anyone who has packages delivered to their front door or uses ride-sharing services or shops at a retailer that gets goods delivered by truck are beneficiaries of the national highway system even if they never get behind the wheel of a car.”
  • Anne Rice’s ‘Vampire Chronicles’ Lands at AMC. Author Anne Rice’s well-traveled ‘Vampire Chronicles’ novels have found a new TV home: AMC Networks.” Also “‘Interview With the Vampire’ Series Ordered at AMC.”—”AMC is officially moving forward with a series adaptation of Anne Rice’s “Interview With the Vampire.” News of the series order comes just over a year after Variety exclusively reported that AMC had acquired the rights to Rice’s book series “The Vampire Chronicles” and “The Lives of the Mayfair Witches.” “Interview With the Vampire” is the first series to be greenlit out of the acquisition.” Also “‘Interview With The Vampire’ Series Greenlighted At AMC; Rolin Jones Set As Showrunner, Mark Johnson To Oversee Franchise
  • 50 Vintage Photos Of Pride Parades In The U.S. These photos highlight the evolution of LGBTQ Pride over decades.”
  • The 400 Years Project. A photography collective looking at the evolution of Native American identity, rights, and representation.”
  • The Media Pays Attention When Trans People Die, But The Living Are Struggling With Grief. Violent attacks and discriminatory laws have taken a toll on the mental health of trans people. Many wish there was as much attention on the well-being of those living with traumas as there is on those who have been killed.”
  • The doctors are not all right. Doctors need mental health support, but the medical profession often punishes them for getting it.”
  • Why Play at Orientalism?“—”To build the history of the world into a single game, code, or narrative would be the height of hubris. Yet, although Paradox gets one aspect right—different eras demand different engines—it makes the horrible assumption that the pinnacle of civilization is the modernity of the global North.” “orientalist games can tell us a lot about what orientalist accounts of history assume and what arguments they make. As we analyze game mechanics, we must be ready for the representations we find there, pleasant or not.”
  • Orchid Thought to Be Extinct in UK Was Discovered Blooming on the Rooftop of London Bank.”—”The small-flowered tongue orchid, or serapias parviflora, is normally found in the Mediterranean, and hasn’t been seen in the UK for over a decade. But 15 plants have been found on the 11th floor garden of the Japanese Investment Bank Nomura in the City.”
  • Lego develops first bricks made from recycled plastic bottles. Activists welcome move but warn recycling should not be default solution to plastics crisis.”
  • Postal Service Makes the Sun Shine Bright With Forever Stamps.”—”The Postal Service highlights stunning images of the sun that celebrate the science behind the ongoing exploration of our nearest star. Printed with a foil treatment that adds a glimmer to the stamps, the images on these stamps come from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, a spacecraft launched in February 2010 to keep a constant watch on the sun from geosynchronous orbit above Earth. The striking colors in these images do not represent the actual colors of the sun as perceived by human eyesight. Instead, each image is colorized by NASA according to different wavelengths that reveal or highlight specific features of the sun’s activity. One of the stamps highlights sunspots, two feature images of coronal holes, two show coronal loops, two depict plasma blasts, one is a view of an active sun that emphasizes its magnetic fields, and two show different views of a solar flare.”
  • Tweet—”This chart is a work of art. I hope multiple people got paid well to make it and I hope they get hit by a bus.” “The longer you look at it the more things you find wrong with it” Also “CNN Has a Strong Contender for the Worst Chart You’ll Ever See“—”This chart is a violent crime.” Also tweet—”ftfy” (fixed that for you).