Omnium Gatherum: 11jul2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 11, 2021

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

  • Feminist Antifascism: Counterpublics of the Common [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Ewa Majewska—”Feminism as the bulwark against fascism. In this exciting, innovative work, Polish feminist philosopher Ewa Majewska proposes a specifically feminist politics of antifascism. Mixing theoretical discussion with engaging reflections on personal experiences, Majewska proposes what she calls ‘counterpublics of the common’ and ‘weak resistance,’ offering an alternative to heroic forms of subjectivity produced by neoliberal capitalism and contemporary fascism.”
  • Towards A Libertarian Socialism: Reflections on the British Labour Party and European Working-Class Movements [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by G.D.H. Cole, edited by David Goodway—”A collection of essays from a restive, critical member of Britain’s Labour Party. From the 1920s until his death, G.D.H. Cole was a pre-eminent Labour intellectual who considered himself ‘neither a Communist nor a Social Democrat in the ordinary sense, but something, not betwixt and between these two, but essentially different from both.’ He was a libertarian socialist who loathed coercion, bureaucracy, and the ‘money-grubbing way of life under capitalism.'”
  • Anthea Lawson on how activism is vital – so we should understand better why we do it.” About The Entangled Activist: Learning to recognise the master’s tools [Amazon, Amazon UK, Publisher, Also] by Anthea Lawson—”The Entangled Activist is the story of how activism is entangled in the problems it seeks to solve, told by a hard-hitting campaigner who learns to see activism very differently. After years of thinking that her task was to ‘get the bastards,’ campaigner, writer and reporter Anthea Lawson came to see that activism often emerges from the same troubles it is trying to fix, and that its demons, including righteousness, saviourism, burnout and treating other people badly, can be a gateway to understanding the depth of what really needs to change. Drawing on her own experience, critical analysis and interviews with leading activists, Lawson probes our attempts to change the world to offer a timely, eye-opening vision for transformative work. By considering how unexamined shadows and assumptions impede well-intentioned goals, and how campaigners are caught up in the very systems and ideologies they seek to alter, she dismantles hierarchies that have shaped the field for too long. The Entangled Activist is a profound call to acknowledge our entanglement with the world. To those sceptical of ‘activism’, it offers possibilities for action beyond righteous reactivity. And to those who so want to help, it unearths a different starting place, one where transforming ourselves is inherently part of transforming the world.”
  • The Rust Belt’s New Working Class Is Just as Exploited as the Old One. In the Rust Belt, heavy industry has been replaced by health care. But even though the working class has changed, exploitation at the hands of their bosses haven’t.” About The Next Shift: The Fall of Industry and the Rise of Health Care in Rust Belt America [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Gabriel Winant—”Men in hardhats were once the heart of America’s working class; now it is women in scrubs. What does this shift portend for our future? Pittsburgh was once synonymous with steel. But today most of its mills are gone. Like so many places across the United States, a city that was a center of blue-collar manufacturing is now dominated by the service economy—particularly health care, which employs more Americans than any other industry. Gabriel Winant takes us inside the Rust Belt to show how America’s cities have weathered new economic realities. In Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods, he finds that a new working class has emerged in the wake of deindustrialization. As steelworkers and their families grew older, they required more health care. Even as the industrial economy contracted sharply, the care economy thrived. Hospitals and nursing homes went on hiring sprees. But many care jobs bear little resemblance to the manufacturing work the city lost. Unlike their blue-collar predecessors, home health aides and hospital staff work unpredictable hours for low pay. And the new working class disproportionately comprises women and people of color. Today health care workers are on the front lines of our most pressing crises, yet we have been slow to appreciate that they are the face of our twenty-first-century workforce. The Next Shift offers unique insights into how we got here and what could happen next. If health care employees, along with other essential workers, can translate the increasing recognition of their economic value into political power, they may become a major force in the twenty-first century.”
  • Haters Gonna Hate … and Vote. Adam Serwer on how Donald Trump’s weaponized cruelty outlasted his presidency.” About The Cruelty Is the Point: The Past, Present, and Future of Trump’s America [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Adam Serwer—”From an award-winning journalist at The Atlantic, these searing essays make a damning case that cruelty is not merely an unfortunate byproduct of the Trump administration but its main objective and the central theme of the American project. Like many of us, Adam Serwer didn’t know that Donald Trump would win the 2016 election. But over the four years that followed, the Atlantic staff writer became one of our most astute analysts of the Trump presidency and the volatile powers it harnessed. The shock that greeted Trump’s victory, and the subsequent cruelty of his presidency, represented a failure to confront elements of the American past long thought vanquished. In this searing collection, Serwer chronicles the Trump administration not as an aberration but as an outgrowth of the inequalities the United States was founded on. Serwer is less interested in the presidential spectacle than in the ideological and structural currents behind Trump’s rise–including a media that was often blindsided by the ugly realities of what the administration represented and how it came to be. While deeply engaged with the moment, Serwer’s writing is also haunted by ghosts of an unresolved American past, a past that torments the present. In bracing new essays and previously published works, he explores white nationalism, myths about migration, the political power of police unions, and the many faces of anti-Semitism. For all the dynamics he examines, cruelty is the glue, the binding agent of a movement fueled by fear and exclusion. Serwer argues that rather than pretending these four years didn’t happen or dismissing them as a brief moment of madness, we must face what made them possible. Without acknowledging and confronting these toxic legacies, the fragile dream of American multiracial democracy will remain vulnerable to another ambitious demagogue.”
  • Giuliani assembled the Trump campaign legal team in a room that overflowed with trash and had a ‘rotting smell,’ a new book says. Giuliani built Trump’s campaign legal team in a room with refuse “that overflowed onto the floor,” a new book says. Between Election Day and the day when Giuliani arrived, the space had reportedly not been cleaned. The Trump campaign endured continuous legal setbacks while seeking to challenge the 2020 election.” About Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Michael Wolff—”New York Times bestselling author of Fire and Fury and Siege completes the trilogy on the epic presidency of Donald J. Trump. With Fire and Fury Wolff defined the first phase of the Trump administration; in Siege he wrote an explosive account of a presidency under fire. In Landslide Wolff closes the story of Trump’s four years in office and his tumultuous last months at the helm of the country, based on Wolff’s extraordinary access to White House aides and to the former president himself, yielding a wealth of new information and insights about what really happened inside the highest office in the land, and the world.”
  • An Ex-KGB Agent Says Trump Was a Russian Asset Since 1987. Does it Matter?.” About American Kompromat: How the KGB Cultivated Donald Trump, and Related Tales of Sex, Greed, Power, and Treachery [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Craig Unger—”This is a story about the dirty secrets of the most powerful people in the world—including Donald Trump. It is based on exclusive interviews with dozens of high-level sources—intelligence officers in the CIA, FBI, and the KGB, thousands of pages of FBI investigations, police investigations, and news articles in English, Russian, and Ukrainian. American Kompromat shows that from Trump to Jeffrey Epstein, kompromat was used in operations far more sinister than the public could ever imagine. Among them, the book addresses what may be the single most important unanswered question of the entire Trump era: Is Donald Trump a Russian asset? The answer, American Kompromat says, is yes, and it supports that conclusion backs with the first richly detailed narrative on how the KGB allegedly first “spotted” Trump as a potential asset, how they cultivated him as an asset, arranged his first trip to Moscow, and pumped him full of KGB talking points that were published in three of America’s most prestigious newspapers.”
  • Scientists Discover Thousands of Ancient Tombs In Galaxy-Like Patterns. Researchers applied a cosmological tool to archaeology for the first time, revealing ‘invisible centers of gravity’ across a vast funerary landscape.”
  • New analysis of a bird found in 2018: “Frozen bird turns out to be 46 000-year-old horned lark. Scientists have recovered DNA from a well-preserved horned lark found in Siberian permafrost. The results can contribute to explaining the evolution of sub species, as well as how the mammoth steppe transformed was turned into tundra, forest and steppe biomes at the end of the last Ice Age.”
  • How many atoms are in the observable universe? Luckily, we don’t have to count them one by one.”
  • Mystery of Jupiter’s powerful X-ray auroras finally solved. The giant planet’s auroras aren’t so different than those on Earth.”
  • A Mystery of Jupiter’s Constant Aurora Has Finally Been Solved After 40 Years.”—”Earth is not the only world adorned with the glowing atmospheric phenomenon that is aurora. In fact, in a Solar System aurora competition, the clear winner would be Jupiter. The so-called King of Planets is crowned with the most powerful auroras in the Solar System, permanently circling both its poles.” “Now, they think they’ve solved it. Using simultaneous observations from Jupiter probe Juno and X-ray space observatory XMM-Newton, a team led by planetary scientist Zhonghua Yao of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in China has linked the X-ray bursts to vibrations in the gas giant’s magnetic field lines. These vibrations generate waves in the plasma propagating along the magnetic field lines, periodically causing heavy ions to rain down on and collide with Jupiter’s atmosphere, releasing energy in the form of X-rays.”
  • Climate Change is About Greed. It’s Time for Big Oil to Pay Us Back.”
  • California wildfire generates its own lightning as it more than doubles in size.”
  • Crushing heat wave in Pacific Northwest and Canada cooked shellfish alive by the millions. As many as a billion sea creatures died in the heat, according to experts.” Also “1 Billion Sea Creatures Cooked To Death In Canada In Record Pacific Northwest Heat Wave. ‘If we don’t like it, then we need to work harder to reduce emissions,’ warned the University of British Columbia scientist who calculated the massive toll.”
  • Ugh. Not now West Nile Virus! “6 States Report Paralysis-Causing Virus Carried by Mosquitoes. New York and Massachusetts found mosquitos infected with West Nile virus this month. In Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, and Iowa, a few humans have also been infected. West Nile virus is typically mild, but can lead to paralysis or death in severe cases.”
  • Single Dose of Psychedelic Compound Psilocybin Can Remodel Connections in the Brain.”—”Psilocybin, a psychedelic compound that can be derived from over 200 species of mushroom, can remodel connections in the mouse brain. That is the conclusion of a new study that examined structural changes in the brain that might explain psilocybin’s enduring antidepressant effects.”
  • Scientists may have cracked the mystery of da Vinci’s DNA. Scientists say they could be closer to uncovering a genetic basis for the artist’s talent.”
  • An alternative for leather and synthetic leather: VTT succeeded in demonstrating continuous production of mycelium leather.”
  • Darker birds wings increase flight performance of birds.”—”Many seabirds evolved dark wings, independent from each other. New research shows that these darker wings heat up more and that this heating up increases the efficiency of flight in birds. Furthermore, the study confirmed that darker wings are mostly present in seabirds that are already efficient at flight.”
  • New AI tech for early detection of prostate cancer. Researchers have developed a diagnostic tool that can spot prostate cancer before patients have any symptoms, using artificial intelligence to analyse CT scans in just seconds.”
  • Screwing with sound waves. Could noisy neighbours become a thing of the past? If you are disturbed by crashes, bangs, and muffled voices from next door, then you are not alone, but a Malmö University researcher thinks the answer is as simple as a screw.” Also “The Revolutionary Sound Absorbing Screw.”
  • From the One Way Ticket dept: “Space tourism rivalry gets extremely petty ahead of Branson’s spaceflight. The space tourism billionaires are fighting again.” Tweet—”They all wanna be Tony Stark so bad. But in the end they’re really just Mr. Burns.”
  • Are We in the Metaverse Yet? Crypto people say they’re building it. Gamers might already be living in it. The art world is cashing in on it. Web veterans are trying to save it. But what is it?” Tweet—”This ‘what’s coming next? it’s the metaverse!’ article quotes 17 experts. 16 men, 1 woman. Bad journalism, or is ‘the metaverse’ a construct that doesn’t really feel inviting or resonant to many women? ‘Are We in the Metaverse Yet?'”
  • From the Phantasm dept: “This Startup Wants to Scan Your Eyes With a Silver Orb for Cryptocurrency. Worldcoin is co-founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, funded by VC money, and appears connected to rapper Azealia Banks.”—”On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that it has learned that Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI and former president of startup accelerator Y Combinator, is co-founding a cryptocurrency called Worldcoin that will try and convince people to scan their retinas with a large silver orb in order to receive tokens.”
  • Special Report: China’s gene giant harvests data from millions of women.”
  • The battle to break up Big Tech has just begun. For antitrust reformers, Facebook’s court win might not be the setback it would seem.” Also “The Conservatives Out to Stop the New Bipartisan Antitrust Movement. How a 32-year-old policy activist is fighting to keep the GOP from going anti-monopoly.”
  • Biden’s Right to Repair Order Covers Electronics, Not Just Tractors. The administration will issue ‘rules against anti-competitive restrictions on using independent repair shops or doing DIY repairs of your own devices and equipment.'” Also “Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak: ‘It’s time to recognize the right to repair’.”
  • Wait. If not the FDA, then who? Isn’t this part of their mandate? “Appeals court axes FDA ban of electric shock on the disabled. The judges’ 2-1 decision this week will allow the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Mass., to continue using shock devices on its residents.” Also, WTAF?
  • ‘Invisible’ augmented reality art will soon appear around botanic garden.”—”A new show called “Seeing the Invisible” will soon allow visitors to the San Diego Botanic Garden to do exactly that: view dynamic art pieces that are impossible to see with the naked eye. The show will feature works by 13 international artists, who each created pieces using augmented reality, a technique that layers digital renderings on to the physical world when viewed through a phone or tablet.”
  • Soldiers watch the US withdrawal from Bagram Airfield through the lens of Pokemon Go.”—”All U.S. forces have left Bagram, which for much of the past 20 years was the largest military base in Afghanistan, U.S. defense officials announced Friday. But the animated critters and some of what’s left on base are visible in digitally animated form through the game app Pokemon Go.”
  • What The Lambda COVID-19 Variant Means For Us Right Now. The newest coronavirus strain has been reported in 29 countries. Here’s what you need to know.”—”The delta variant first identified in India is spreading widely in the United States, accounting for more than half of all new COVID-19 infections. But even as it becomes the dominant strain here, threatening to increase new infections among unvaccinated individuals, a new variant, called the lambda variant, or C.37, has also caught public health officials’ attention.”
  • From the Get The LEGO Name Outta Yo Mouth dept: “Feds Seize Lego Capitol Set From Suspected Jan. 6 Insurrectionist. Investigators are building a case brick by brick.”—”Federal investigators may be using a Lego set to build a case against a Pennsylvania man who allegedly participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.”
  • The Chilling Message of Trump’s Embrace of Ashli Babbitt Martyrdom. January 6 is now a heroic uprising for the movement.”
  • Republicans want “18 more months of chaos” — followed by the end of democracy. Rep. Chip Roy said it out loud, but the GOP’s plan is no secret: Bring democracy to a standstill, then end it.”—”Today’s Republican Party is a fascist, criminal, sociopathic, anti-democratic, white supremacist, theocratic, plutocratic and cultlike organization. Its leaders (and followers) have repeatedly and publicly shown the world that they embrace such values and behavior.”
  • The ‘Good’ Republicans Are Bad, and the Bad Ones Are Batshit. Since no one in Trumpworld has been punished for anything, Republicans have learned that you can do anything at all and no one will ever hold you accountable.”—”This is the Republican brand now: death before decency.”
  • Voting rights legislation should have passed, but not for the reasons you think.”—”This bill should have passed not merely because Democrats (justifiably) don’t like election changes that have been enacted in Republican states in the past few months. Rather, it should have passed because it repairs root causes of damage to our democratic republic — extreme partisanship and money corruption of our politicians. It’s now up to Congress to reintroduce those efforts in legislation that actually has a shot at being enacted.”
  • Sorry, haters: Ranked-choice voting produced the most diverse city council in NYC history. Never mind the backlash: Ranked-choice voting in NYC has produced huge gains for gender equity and diversity.” Also “Everyone Won with Ranked-Choice Voting in New York City.”—”More than one in four voters selected a candidate who was not predicted to be within the top three. These votes would normally have been considered ‘wasted’ on also-ran candidates. But not this time. Under ranked-choice voting…”
  • Tweet—”An armed siege? A terrorist munitions factory? No, just the Police breaking into our studio building in Haggerston on Friday 25th June because there is a sculpture on the roof that Priti Patel doesn’t like.” “XR were planning further protests against Murdoch last weekend. The police intended to remove it (but failed). It takes a certain skill-set to erect it, and anyone with such skills would have been a target of the raid. The Police were simply operating as stooges for Murdoch.”
  • Sullivan County school board approves teacher termination charges, supporters outraged.” Tweet—”It begins… a teacher is being fired for assigning a Ta-Nehisi Coates essay and discussing white privilege in a ‘contemporary issues class.'” Tweet—”A teacher in Tennessee fired for teaching a) a Ta Nehisi Coates essay and b) a poem about white privilege. If a teacher in Tennessee getting fired for offending white Christian orthodoxies doesn’t ring any alarm bells for you, look up the Scopes Trial.”
  • Oh, fuck right off: “The Meaning Of The Native Graves. They’re good, actually.”
  • Oh, don’t fuck at all, ever again: “Political Discrimination as Civil-Rights Struggle“—”When a sample of nearly 1,500 female Ivy League students was asked whether they would date a Trump supporter, only 6 percent said yes (after excluding the small minority of the sample who support him). ”
  • Meet 4chan’s ‘Kommandos,’ the Armed Meme Lords Driving Gun Culture. While the stereotype for the American gun owner is old, white, and hung up on culture wars, Kommandos are young, apolitical, and fluent in memes.”
  • ‘People Get Upset’: A Mass Labor Shortage Is Leaving Hamptonites to Fend for Themselves. Sky-high rental costs, a ban on temporary work visas, and an exploding population due to COVID have forced East Enders to mow their own lawns, iron their own sheets, and forego salon appointments. ‘Everyone’s going for the natural look this year,’ says one resident.”
  • Why Jack the Ripper and other serial killer narratives endure. For me, my fascination began as a child, when I opened a book my mother explicitly told me not to open.”
  • How a racist rant in Mount Laurel sparked neighbors to fight back and a community to press for change. A New Jersey man caught on video in a racist rant with a Black neighbor had a long-standing dispute with the homeowners’ association and three Black association board members, an attorney says.”
  • Athletics is waging a war of transphobia and misogynoir – and black African women are losing out. In the run up to Tokyo 2021, controversial athletics regulations are showing racist constructions of womanhood will always win the race.”
  • Art Should Be a Doorway, Not a Mirror. Some thoughts on Isabel Fall, social media criticism, and the puritan art police.”
  • Robert E. Lee statue removed in Charlottesville; it had become focal point of deadly 2017 rally. A monument to Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson in Charlottesville also was removed.” Tweet—”This is not erasing history. This is correcting who we honor from history with public statues. Who we honor from history is typically who we honor in the present. The conservators of racism want us to honor the conservators of slavery. No more.” Tweet—”9 July 1776. A statue of King George III was pulled down in New York City, after the US Declaration of Independence was read out to a large cheering crowd and members the Continental Army.”
  • The Politics of Racial Cleansing and Erasing History.”
  • This appears to be a portfolio piece for Marta Kessler, who does a crazy good, and stand out, job as Constance Contraire in Disney’s The Mysterious Benedict Society. It’s a scene from Luc Besson’s Léon, originally with Natalie Portman and Jean Reno; watch “Marta Kessler & Marco Dinelli ‘Leone’“.
  • If you’ve access to Disney+, there’s an amusing initiation ceremony into the secret order of MIFT bit in Monsters at Work s01e02, “Meet MIFT.”
  • The Suicide Squad Doesn’t Understand Its Predecessor, Won’t Respond to It. James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad looks like a sequel and sounds like a reboot, but Warner Bros. says it’s neither.”
  • Watch “The Decision That SAVED The Lord of the Rings.” As a reminder, from 2017, watch “How Star Wars was saved in the edit.”
  • Man finds 18th century ornamental building made of teeth at bottom of his garden – 25 years after he moved in. For over two decades, John Bostock had no idea that hidden beneath the wild section of his garden, there was a gothic folly dating back to the mid-1700s.”
  • Watch “Star Wars mystery FINALLY solved“—”After 44 years, it’s hard to imagine that there are still mysteries to be uncovered in Star Wars, but today marks yet another fascinating discovery! We’ve finally decoded the text inside the iconic TIE fighter cockpit computer displays!” I’m old enough to have actually used rub on vinyl lettering on actual school reports. Great exploration, and also restoration: check out the downloadable font (You have to hover your mouse pointer over the targeting reticule!). And then check out all the other Aurekfonts stuff:”Welcome to AurekFonts, an archive of fonts from across the galaxy. We are in the never-ending process of expanding our library of in-universe fonts for the languages of the Star Wars universe. To date, we have catalogued 96 fonts, representing over 28 writing systems and 26 foundries & artists!”
  • Enchanted forests: British woods and moors at night – in pictures. The woods are lovely, dark and deep – at least in the images of Jasper Goodall. In Twilight’s Path, he stays awake to capture nocturnal landscapes in the forests and on the moors of the British Isles.”