Omnium Gatherum: 28jul2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 28, 2021

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

  • I’d bet it’s not the first time all the people who can’t accept and respect Simone Biles saying “no” haven’t accepted or respected someone saying “no”. But, I mean, other than that she doesn’t owe an explanation to anyone, here’s a thing: “The Twisties“—”On Twitter, former gymnast and diver Catherine Burns explained that Biles was likely experiencing a case of ‘the dreaded twisties’.” “I used to write a lot about this kind of thing in this loosely connected series of posts on relaxed concentration. This phenomenon goes by many names — performance anxiety, stage fright, choking, the yips, cueitis (in snooker), and target panic (for archers) — and the world-class are not immune. Daniel Day-Lewis had stage fright so bad he quit the stage decades ago — an affliction he shared with Laurence Olivier, Barbra Streisand, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. If you’ve read anything at all about this stuff, Biles’ case of the twisties doesn’t seem so unusual or mysterious — it’s just one of those things that makes her, and the rest of us, human.”
  • The U.S. has finally taken back the Epic of Gilgamesh . . . from Hobby Lobby.“—”A recent update to a story I can’t believe everyone isn’t talking about every day: the U.S. Department of Justice has formally seized the Gilgamesh Dream Tablet (a cuneiform tablet inscribed with part of the Epic of Gilgamesh) from Hobby Lobby (the craft store).”
  • U.S. Government Sells Martin Shkreli’s Wu-Tang Clan Album to Unknown Buyer. Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, seized from Shkreli in 2018, was sold to fulfill a forfeiture money judgment in the disgraced pharma exec’s ongoing securities fraud case.”
  • Sigillum Dei Coin Token [Also] created for the Dee Sanction RPG.
  • Weird World News • Foundry VTT Access“—”Check out this groovy game based off your favorite cartoons from the 1970s. Players control intrepid members of an Extreme News Team on the hunt for UFOs, ghosts, mothmen, and other cryptids. But not all is as it seems—for every authentic cryptid uncovered, there’s another half-dozen frauds: executors disguised as bigfoot trying to bilk the rightful heirs out of an inheritance; restauranteurs in mummy bandages trying to stamp out competition; or a ruthless robber-baron masked as a vampire trying to buy land cheap. Unveil the frauds and stop the monsters in Weird World News, the latest Fate World of Adventure from André la Roche.” Old setting of thematic interest, now available for Foundry VTT. (Also, check out: “A COLOSSAL offer of the FATE tabletop roleplaying game system. FATE WORLDS AND TOOLKITS. FATE OF CTHULHU, FORTY-FIVE Worlds of Adventure, five TOOLKITS, and LOTS more.” Which includes Weird World News, Fate of Cthulhu, and more.)
  • Massively Popular Webtoon ‘Lore Olympus’ Coming to Print From Del Rey. Online Version Has 5.1 Million Followers.”—”Del Rey has announced it will publish a print edition of the webtoon Lore Olympus, by Rachel Smythe, which has racked up 5.1 million followers on the Webtoon platform. The webtoon, which was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2019 and is up for a Harvey Award this year, is a retelling of the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades that also engages larger issues such as coming of age and dealing with sexual trauma and PTSD.” About Lore Olympus: Volume One [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Rachel Smythe, due October, 2021—”Scandalous gossip, wild parties, and forbidden love—witness what the gods do after dark in this stylish and contemporary reimagining of one of the best-known stories in Greek mythology from creator Rachel Smythe. Persephone, young goddess of spring, is new to Olympus. Her mother, Demeter, has raised her in the mortal realm, but after Persephone promises to train as a sacred virgin, she’s allowed to live in the fast-moving, glamorous world of the gods. When her roommate, Artemis, takes her to a party, her entire life changes: she ends up meeting Hades and feels an immediate spark with the charming yet misunderstood ruler of the Underworld. Now Persephone must navigate the confusing politics and relationships that rule Olympus, while also figuring out her own place—and her own power. This full-color edition of Smythe’s original Eisner-nominated webcomic Lore Olympus features a brand-new, exclusive short story, and brings Greek mythology into the modern age in a sharply perceptive and romantic graphic novel.” Also Lore Olympus: Volume Two [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] due February, 2022. Also, check out the web comic.
  • “Everything that can be bought is worth little: I spit this doctrine into the faces of hucksters.”—Friedrich Nietzsche, Unpublished Fragments from the Period of Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Summer 1882-Winter 1883/84), tr. Paul S. Loeb and David F. Tinsley, quoted at Of Little Worth.
  • Ugh. Not now cosmic ray gun! “NASA’s Fermi Spots a Weird Pulse of High-Energy Radiation Racing Toward Earth.”—”On August 26, 2020, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected a pulse of high-energy radiation that had been racing toward Earth for nearly half the present age of the universe. Lasting only about a second, it turned out to be one for the record books – the shortest gamma-ray burst (GRB) caused by the death of a massive star ever seen.”
  • Ugh. Not now astroids fired from arachnid planets! “Flashing meteor that exploded over Norway landed somewhere in a nearby forest.”
  • Hubble finds evidence of water vapor on Jupiter’s largest moon. Researchers re-examined new and archival datasets to make the discovery.”—”Scientists have discovered the first evidence of water vapor on Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon. They used new and archival datasets from the Hubble Space Telescope to find the vapor, which forms when ice on the surface sublimates and turns from solid to gas.”
  • Ugh. Not now extinction event! “Then the Birds Began to Die. I carried on for more than a year of the coronavirus pandemic, but I didn’t see the next plague coming.”
  • Ugh. Not now past extinction event! “DNA from 93-year-old butterfly confirms the first US case of human-led insect extinction“—”The Xerces blue butterfly was last seen flapping its iridescent periwinkle wings in San Francisco in the early 1940s. It’s generally accepted to be extinct, the first American insect species destroyed by urban development, but there are lingering questions about whether it was really a species to begin with, or just a sub-population of another common butterfly. In a new study in Biology Letters, researchers analyzed the DNA of a 93-year-old Xerces blue specimen in museum collections, and they found that its DNA is unique enough to merit being considered a species. The study confirms that yes, the Xerces blue really did go extinct, and that insect conservation is something we have to take seriously.”
  • Ugh. Not now worm sign! “Sandstorm swallows city in northwestern China. A sandstorm that lifted at least 100 metres (330ft) has left a city in northwestern China covered in dust. Videos of Dunhuang show the wall of sand slowly creeping over buildings and highways. The town is located on the edge of the Gobi Desert, which is known for its harsh climates.”
  • Acoustic Tweezers Can Pick Objects Up With Sound Waves – Without Any Physical Contact. Hemispherical array of ultrasound transducers lifts objects off reflective surfaces.”—”The ability to move objects without touching them might sound like magic, but in the world of biology and chemistry, technology known as optical trapping has been helping scientists use light to move microscopic objects around for many years.” “Enter acoustic trapping, an alternative which uses sound instead of optical waves. Sound waves may be applied to a wider range of object sizes and materials, so much so that successful manipulation is possible for millimeter-sized particles. Though they haven’t been around for as long as their optical counterparts, acoustic levitation and manipulation show exceptional promise for both lab settings and beyond. But the technical challenges that need to be surmounted are big. In particular, it is not easy to individually and accurately control vast arrays of ultrasound transducers in real-time, and get the right sound fields to lift objects far from the transducers themselves, particularly near surfaces that reflect sound. Now, Researcher Shota Kondo and Associate Professor Kan Okubo from Tokyo Metropolitan University have come up with a new approach to lift millimeter-sized objects off a reflective surface using a hemispherical array of transducers.”
  • From 2019: “Cats communicate with the help of bacteria living in their butts. KittyBiome researchers want to study the cat microbiome to improve health and understand scent-based communication.”
  • Earth’s ‘vital signs’ worsening as humanity’s impact deepens.”—”The global economy’s business-as-usual approach to climate change has seen Earth’s “vital signs” deteriorate to record levels, an influential group of scientists said Wednesday, warning that several climate tipping points were now imminent. The researchers, part of a group of more than 14,000 scientists who have signed on to an initiative declaring a worldwide climate emergency, said that governments had consistently failed to address the root cause of climate change: ‘the overexploitation of the Earth’.”
  • From 2020: “Sharing doesn’t make you a sucker. This scientist has the numbers to prove it. With the Human Generosity Project, Athena Aktipis wants to show that cooperation makes humans stronger.”
  • Under pressure, ‘squishy’ compound reacts in remarkable ways. From insulator to metal and back again—a new transition phenomenon reported by Rochester and Las Vegas researchers ‘will find a place in physics textbooks.'”
  • Chronic pain might impact how the brain processes emotions. Chemical ‘messengers’ called neurotransmitters help regulate our emotions – but scientists have noticed a disruption to their levels in people with chronic pain.”
  • Investigation: How TikTok’s Algorithm Figures Out Your Deepest Desires. The Wall Street Journal created dozens of automated accounts that watched hundreds of thousands of videos to reveal how the social network knows you so well.” They only need to watch one thing: how much time a person stays on each bit of content. That also means they are always watching, even when, and especially, apparently, when you are too.
  • The Day the Good Internet Died. For a small slice of time, being online was a thrilling mix of discovery, collaboration, creativity, and chaotic potential. Then Google Reader disappeared.” Personally, I’ve used a lot of different RSS tools over the years, including Google Reader and the subsequent, but also now dead, Digg Reader. Right now, I mostly use NetNewsWire for actively following over 200 RSS feeds. And, yep! That’s just one of several ways I’m constantly curating things for Omnium Gatherum. By the by, did you know that Hermetic Library, not just the blog, but the site itself, has an RSS feed of changes available? Also, from 2019: “The Death of the Good Internet Was an Inside Job. A decade of squandered potential can be laid at the feet of those you trusted to create a democratic online world.” I still wistfully long for a version of Twitter that is RSS inside and out, from the top to the bottom. But, if this mythical Good Internet ever comes back, I’m ready with venerable website and blog full of content old and new!
  • All Work and No Play“—”Video games, like any creative product, reflect and refract the conditions of their production. Today, what they most resemble is twenty-first-century work.”—”Usually I spend untold swaths of time playing games whose status as entertainment—much less as art—confounds me, even as I trudge on, checkpoint to checkpoint, level to level. What kind of subject am I being shaped into by these processes? And what kind of political economy demands that sort of subject? What, to be blunt, would I be spending my time doing otherwise?” Humbly, I recommend a commitment to only doing things that have opportunity for creative output. That was my own conclusion for myself inspired by T Polyphilus’ book reviews project where he decided that if he was going to read something, he’d best have something to say about it, even if it was only a couple sentences. For example, if you’re not writing, recording or streaming creatively because of a game, don’t play it. Any game that you grind for no real or tangible return on your time should not be an acceptable exchange. So, if you want to play games, video or tabletop, then start reviewing them, streaming them, posting videos about them; anything, but make it matter somehow. Like the practice of Will asks: “To what end?” I submit: if you’re going to do something, have an answer to that question.
  • This Is Not a Cat.”—”This feline beauty was created entirely by an algorithm. Every time you refresh the webpage This Cat Does Not Exist, you’ll get a different algorithm-generated, hyperrealistic cat. Confused? Scared? So are we.” Also This Cat Does Not Exist.
  • New algorithm flies drones faster than human racing pilots.”—”For the first time, an autonomously flying quadrotor has outperformed two human pilots in a drone race. The success is based on a novel algorithm that was developed by researchers of the University of Zurich. It calculates time-optimal trajectories that fully consider the drones’ limitations.”
  • Cheat-maker brags of computer-vision auto-aim that works on ‘any game’. Capture cards, input hardware, and machine learning get around system-level lockdowns.”—”The basic toolchain used for these external emulated-input cheating methods is relatively simple. The first step is using an external video capture card to record a game’s live output and instantly send it to a separate computer. Those display frames are then run through a computer vision-based object detection algorithm like You Only Look Once (YOLO) that has been trained to find human-shaped enemies in the image (or at least in a small central portion of the image near the targeting reticle). Once the enemy is identified on the screen, these cheating engines can easily calculate precisely how far and in which direction the mouse needs to move to put that enemy (or even a specific body part, like the head) in the center of the crosshairs. That data is then sent to an input-passthrough device like the Titan Two or the Cronus Zen, which emulates the correct mouse input and fires a shot at superhuman speed.”
  • Soft Robot Hand Is First to Be Fully 3-D-Printed in a Single Step. Then it played Super Mario Bros.”—”A soft robotic hand has finally achieved a historic accomplishment: beating the first level of Super Mario Bros. Although quickly pressing and releasing the buttons and directional pad on a Nintendo Entertainment System controller is a fun test of this three-fingered machine’s performance, the real breakthrough is not what it does—but how it was created. The Mario-playing hand, as well as two turtlelike ‘soft robots’ described in the same recent Science Advances paper, were each 3-D-printed in a single process that only took three to eight hours.”
  • Bipedal robot developed at Oregon State makes history by learning to run, completing 5K.”—”Cassie the robot, invented at Oregon State University and produced by OSU spinout company Agility Robotics, has made history by traversing 5 kilometers, completing the route in just over 53 minutes.” Watch “OSU Bipedal Robot First to Run 5K.”
  • Facebook Halts Oculus Quest 2 Sales Over ‘Skin Irritation’. Despite claiming in December that only ‘0.01% of people using Quest 2’ were affected.” Also “Facebook Technologies Recalls Removable Foam Facial Interfaces for Oculus Quest 2 Virtual Reality Headsets Due to Skin Irritation Hazard (Recall Alert).”
  • White House calling out critics of door-to-door vaccine push.” Also “Microsoft went from door to door to take malware-infected routers offline. When it became clear that the fight against the malicious software called Trickbot could not be won remotely, Microsoft resorted to drastic measures and sent employees from door to door in order to manually take infected networking hardware offline.”
  • Militaries plunder science fiction for technology ideas, but turn a blind eye to the genre’s social commentary.”—”One of the most interesting tools for thinking about future defence technology isn’t big data forecasting and the use of synthetic training environments, but narrative and imagination. And we get this from science fiction. That might sound fanciful, but many militaries are already engaging with the genre.” “But while science fiction provides military planners with a tantalising glimpse of future weaponry, from exoskeletons to mind-machine interfaces, the genre is always about more than flashy new gadgets. It’s about anticipating the unforeseen ways in which these technologies could affect humans and society – and this extra context is often overlooked by the officials deciding which technologies to invest in for future conflicts.”
  • From 2019: “The 1968 sci-fi that spookily predicted today. In the first of BBC Culture’s new series on fiction that predicted the future, Hephzibah Anderson looks at the work of John Brunner, whose vision of 2010 was eerily accurate.”—”In his 1968 novel Stand on Zanzibar, for instance, he peers ahead to imagine life in 2010, correctly forecasting wearable technology, Viagra, video calls, same-sex marriage, the legalisation of cannabis, and the proliferation of mass shootings. Equally compelling, however – and even more instructive – is the process by which Brunner constructed this society of his future and our present.”
  • From 2020: “Climate change and the pandemic are both failures of the imagination.”—”Even with the evidence right in front of us, our imagination often fails. You know on paper that something can happen, but you don’t imagine that it really will. Failure of the imagination is, to me, the central thing that unites climate change and the novel coronavirus pandemic.”
  • The total health and climate consequences of the American food system cost three times as much as the food itself. Diet-related disease, climate change and inequity: The true costs of the American diet.”
  • We Know How This Ends. The incoherent arguments of covid-19 anti-vaxxers mirror the climate denial movement.”—”You need only look at climate denial to see the outcome. While there are some differences between the two forms of denial—climate denial was funded heavily by polluting industries and treated as legitimate by the media, to take just two examples—the mechanisms and endpoints are likely to be the same.” “These are all crank arguments easily swatted away if you know the deal. But if you don’t, they offer a sort of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style approach to justifying your end goal of not changing the status quo.”
  • I’m a Parkland Shooting Survivor. QAnon Convinced My Dad It Was All a Hoax. ‘I don’t know how to help someone that far gone.'”
  • From the Department of Pre-Crime dept:Pasco Sheriff’s Office letter targets residents for ‘increased accountability’. Critics of the agency’s intelligence programs called the letter ‘patronizing’ and ‘offensive,’ and raised continued concerns about civil rights.” Tweet—”Pasco Sheriff’s Office (FL) creates lists of people it considers likely to break the law based on criminal histories, social networks, etc. The agency sends deputies to their homes repeatedly, often without a search warrant or probable cause for an arrest.”
    Tweet—”…And already I call bullshit. The HIGH likelihood is that the Pasco County, Fl. Sheriff is using deeply biased predictive policing metrics to generate these “prolific offender” lists. I want a direct investigation of exactly WHO is most often getting ‘randomly’ ‘checked up on.'”

  • The Unraveling of the Trump Era. The Trump administration desperately wanted to cut government benefits, and it had outside help to do so. But very few of its new rules held up.”—”Trump’s failures to permanently change government policy were remarkably diverse.”
  • Op-Ed: Voting Rights Should Be Treated Like Our Nation’s Critical Infrastructure. ‘As we’re seeing in the senate, roads and bridges— not the stability of our democracy— elicit bipartisan cooperation,’ black pac executive director adrianne shropshire says.”
  • What If the Fed Worked for the People? This is How It Can Start Curbing Inequality.“—”The Fed has been Wall Street’s bank. It’s time for it to directly serve Main Street too. The Fed created two lending facilities for municipalities and medium-sized businesses in 2020. While few loans were made and the programs have expired, those efforts showed that the Fed can lend directly to Main Street. With help from Congress, the Fed can go further. Legislators could give the Fed new authority to set up FedAccounts, an account for every American with the central bank. The Fed could become a bank for the people, so individuals can borrow or receive money from the Fed directly in times of crisis—a benefit that only financial institutions currently enjoy.”
  • Stories From Canada’s Indigenous Residential School Survivors.”—”Set up in the 19th century, Canada’s residential schools were used to force assimilation of First Nations children. Thousands died there. Hundreds buried in recently discovered unmarked graves. Today, On Point: Survivors of Canada’s residential schools.”
  • Enigmatic Optics: Postal Service Issues Mystery Message Forever Stamps.”—”The pane of 20 stamps is a visual riddle spelling out a difficult-to-discern message. Each colorful square contains a letter in an interesting pattern. Designed by art director Antonio Alcalá, the seemingly random patterns were carefully placed so that when put all together, the message reads — spoiler alert — “More Than Meets the Eye!” The reverse side of the pane also provides the solution.”
  • A Dazzling Corrective to the White-washing of Ancient Rome.”—”Colori dei Romani: I mosaici dalle Collezioni Capitoline (Colors of the Romans: Mosaics from the Capitoline Collections), an exhibition now on view at the Montemartini Power Station display space, just south of central Rome, has thrown open many windows like this for visitors. Curated by Claudio Parisi Presicce, Nadia Agnoli, and Serena Guglielmi, the exhibition is separated into four sections: the first explores the history and development of the mosaic form in Roman art; the second puts mosaics, frescoes, statues and artifacts together to create a sense of what it was like to live in luxurious residences of the empire’s ruling class; the third gives an example of how mosaics were used in religious buildings and sacred spaces; and the final section, a tiny coda, looks at tomb mosaics.” Colori dei Romani: I Mosaici dalle Collezioni Capitoline, through September at Centrale Montemartini, Rome.
  • Over 100 Unpublished Hokusai Drawings Resurface in New Exhibition.”—”The Japanese painter and printmaker Katsushika Hokusai may be best known for his woodblock print “Under the Wave off Kanagawa” (c. 1830–32), an image of a frothy cresting wave dwarfing a glimpse of the great Mount Fuji behind it. Also called “The Great Wave,” the composition has acquired iconic status in pop culture as in fine art, inspiring subsequent oeuvres from Debussy’s orchestral piece La mer to an untold number of tattoos around the world. But some of the most intriguing works Hokusai created over the course of his seven-decade career have remained comparatively secretive. Among them is a group of 103 small drawings the artist produced for an unpublished encyclopedia titled Banmotsu ehon daizen zu (The Great Picture Book of Everything), to be shown at the British Museum in an eponymous exhibition opening this September.” Hokusai: The Great Picture Book of Everything, September—January, 2022 at British Museum.
  • Fish fraud is rampant — and Subway’s tuna scandal is just the tip of the iceberg. A viral investigation into the content of Subway’s “tuna” is a portent of a much larger fish regulatory problem.”—”So why is fish fraud prevalent? The answer boils down to lack of regulation, poor regulatory bodies, and the profit motive — in other words, capitalism behaving as usual.”
  • Tweet—”A 👀 story. A white pianist passed off recordings of a Japanese pianist as her own. A prominent white critic wrote the recordings “flow so naturally” when he thought it was the white pianist but said they were “faceless” & “flaccid” when it thought it was the Japanese pianist.” Also “A Violinist on How to Empower Asian Musicians. Jennifer Koh, an acclaimed soloist, calls on classical music to make space for artists of Asian descent, who remain marginalized in the field.” Also, from 2019: “The remarkable story of concert pianist Joyce Hatto, and how the classical world was duped. In the early 2000s, all the major critics were raving about the newly discovered recordings by the little-known, semi-retired pianist Joyce Hatto. Little did they know that her recordings would become involved in one of the biggest hoaxes in classical music history.”—”It turns out that instead of these recordings being made by Joyce Hatto herself, they were re-published recordings issued by Barrington-Coupe under his wife’s name, ripping off the recordings of a total of 92 other pianists. Hatto’s release of two Rachmaninov concertos was actually recorded by Yefim Bronfman, and her recording of the Studies on Chopin’s Études by Leopold Godowsky (one of the hardest pieces in the piano repertoire), was in fact made by pianist Carlos Grante. Barrington-Coupe later admitted that he made small audio alterations to the audio of released recordings to dupe customers and critics into thinking these were original, selling them with the Joyce Hatto name through his own label, Concert Artists. He confessed the scam to Gramophone magazine in February 2007, saying ‘I did it for my wife’.”
  • Al Lord Profited When College Tuition Rose. He Is Paying for It. As chief executive of student-lending giant Sallie Mae, Al Lord helped drive up the costs of college. Now that he is footing tuition checks for his grandchildren, he said he has new sympathy for ordinary families.”
  • ‘There have been many death threats, but I’ll never stop’ – Randal Plunkett, Baron of Dunsany, on rewilding his family estate. Naturalist and film-maker Randal Plunkett, 21st Baron of Dunsany, took an unorthodox gamble when he decided to ‘rewild’ his family’s Co Meath demesne. In the face of aggression, vandalism and threats, he’s built a thriving 750-acre nature reserve.”
  • The New Moral Code of America’s Elite. Two students went to Amy Chua for advice. That sin would cost them dearly.”—”I don’t credit homespun wisdom with any special salience. But the suggestion that it may be useful to morally evaluate oneself before volunteering to monitor everyone else’s conduct isn’t a ridiculous one. It’s wise to be careful that, in one’s zeal for justice or fairness or the more prosaic things that ride beneath those banners, one doesn’t lose sight of one’s own moral obligations or aspirations.” “What else could they have done? It takes an admirable perceptiveness to know when the truth can’t save you anymore.”
  • Watch “Housing Discrimination: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” Tweet—”For me, the moment in this segment that hit hardest, was when the Black homeowner discovered after her home doubled in value when the appraiser thought it was owned by a white man, realized that she herself was the one seen as reducing her home’s value.”
  • Tenant Screening Algorithms Enable Racial and Disability Discrimination at Scale, and Contribute to Broader Patterns of Injustice.”—”Despite the existence of FCRA protections in theory, tenants still face substantial risks in practice. Today, with the aid of new algorithmic tools, landlords can send prospective tenants’ applications to automated systems that compare their data against millions of records – some incomplete, unreliable, or easily confused – with little to no opportunity for recourse, even if the law prohibits discrimination.” “As a result of these disparities, information about past arrests, evictions, or defaulted loans can thus be proxies for race and disability. Our community members are at higher likelihood for disruptions to income and housing stability, which can directly impact eligibility for future rental applications.”
  • $20,000 Price Tag Of San Francisco Trash Can Prototypes Stuns Residents, City Leaders.”—”DPW says the price would be about $4,000 per can once it’s mass-produced. An existing green trash can recently purchased by the Department of Public Works costs a little over $1,200.”
  • Police Are Telling ShotSpotter to Alter Evidence From Gunshot-Detecting AI. Prosecutors in Chicago are being forced to withdraw evidence generated by the technology, which led to the police killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo earlier this year.”
  • The traffic light gets a dazzling, 21st century makeover. The stop sign’s days look numbered, too.”—”Instead of stacking red, yellow, and green lights on top of one another—with each light’s relative position signaling when it’s time to stop or go for color-blind drivers—the studio developed a stop light that’s one continuous panel. And so that entire panel turns red, yellow, and green. How is this better, you may wonder. For people who see color, it’s a bigger panel. The overall signal to stop or go is more overt. For color-blind drivers, Art. Lebedev Studio added icons (an ‘X’ for stopping, a ‘!’ for slowing down, and an arrow to go)—a plan that seems promising but worth testing to prove out. However, the largest advantage to this light is what else it can do when you combine colors and iconography to convey strange or shifting rules of the road.”
  • Ubisoft workers demand company accountability in open letter.”—”Close to 500 current and former employees of “Assassin’s Creed” publisher Ubisoft are standing in solidarity with protesting game developers at Activision Blizzard with a letter that criticizes their company’s handling of sexual misconduct.” Tweet—”Here’s the letter in full. It doesn’t just stand with AB workers, doesn’t just criticize Ubisoft bosses. It calls for industry-wide action and change, with publishers and developers getting involved.”
  • Lucasfilm Hired the YouTuber Who Used Deepfakes to Tweak Luke Skywalker ‘Mandalorian’ VFX. A YouTuber known as Shamook has earned nearly 2 million views for his deepfake ‘Mandalorian’ video.” So, that probably means they aren’t going to do that recasting I was hoping for … and give us all the full Thrawn Trilogy live action series of my dreams.
  • Generating AI “Art” with VQGAN+CLIP.”—”Hands-on neural networks for mere mortals.”
  • Scam-baiting YouTube channel Tech Support Scams taken offline by tech support scam. ‘It was pretty convincing until the very end,’ says host Jim Browning.”
  • Watch “Identifying Bird Sounds with the BirdNET Mobile App“—”Have you ever heard a bird sound you couldn’t ID? Learn how to use BirdNET to identify your mystery birds on a trip through Sapsucker Woods!” Also “BirdNET. The Easiest Way To Identify Birds By Sound.”—”How can computers learn to recognize birds from sounds? The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Chemnitz University of Technology are trying to find an answer to this question. Our research is mainly focused on the detection and classification of avian sounds using machine learning – we want to assist experts and citizen scientist in their work of monitoring and protecting our birds. BirdNET is a research platform that aims at recognizing birds by sound at scale. We support various hardware and operating systems such as Arduino microcontrollers, the Raspberry Pi, smartphones, web browsers, workstation PCs, and even cloud services. BirdNET is a citizen science platform as well as an analysis software for extremely large collections of audio. BirdNET aims to provide innovative tools for conservationists, biologists, and birders alike.”
  • Watch “The Sounds of Space: A sonic adventure to other worlds.”—”Space is more than just a feast for the eyes. It’s a feast for the ears. You just have to know where — and when — to look. Floating in the silent void of space are trillions of islands of sound, each with their own sonic flavor — some eerily familiar, some wildly different than Earth’s. And even space itself was once brimming with sound. This short film takes you on a journey back in time and to the edge of our solar system and beyond, to discover what other worlds of sound are lurking beyond Earth’s atmosphere. You won’t believe your ears :)”
  • This Man Does Not Make Poppers. For decades, poppers have been the go-to sex drug for gay men. But where do they come from?”
  • A24, are you okay? “There’s This Eerie Movie Called ‘Lamb’ Coming Out, And I Am Soooo Intrigued. Described as a ‘twisted Nordic folktale.'” Watch “Lamb“, official trailer, from A24; written & directed by Valdimar Jóhannsson, with Noomi Rapace. Also, and I can’t emphasize this enough: WTF?