Omnium Gatherum: 22aug2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for August 22, 2021

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

  • Do Some Diabetes Drugs Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s? Study Finds People Taking the Drugs Have Fewer Biomarkers, Slower Cognitive Decline.”
  • The world’s first fossil-free steel ready for delivery. SSAB has now produced the world’s first fossil-free steel and delivered it to a customer. The trial delivery is an important step on the way to a completely fossil-free value chain for iron- and steelmaking and a milestone in the HYBRIT partnership between SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall.”
  • Histamine could be a key player in depression, according to study in mice. Bodily inflammation dampens levels of a ‘feel-good molecule’ and antidepressants’ ability to boost them, according to new research in mice.”—”The researchers then administered histamine reducing drugs alongside the SSRIs to counter histamine’s inhibitory effects, and saw serotonin levels rise back to control levels. This appears to confirm the theory that histamine directly dampens serotonin release in the mouse brain. These histamine reducing drugs cause a whole-body reduction in histamine and are distinct from antihistamines taken for allergies, which block histamine’s effects on neurons. The researchers say that if their work translates to humans it could help us towards eventually diagnosing depression by measuring chemicals like serotonin and histamine in human brains.” “Dr Hashemi added: ‘Inflammation is a whole-body response and is therefore hugely complex. Depression is similarly complex, and the chemicals involved are affected in myriad ways by both genetic and environmental factors. Thus we need to look at more complex models of depression behaviours in both mice and humans to get a fuller picture of both histamine and serotonin’s roles in depression.'”
  • An Indigenous people in the Philippines have the most Denisovan DNA. Indigenous Ayta Magbukon people get 5 percent of their DNA from the mysterious ancient hominids.”
  • We have more than five senses. A neuroscientist explains the hidden abilities we often overlook. Neuroscientist Dr Lisa Feldman Barrett delves into the different ways we’re able to perceive the world that go beyond sight, sound, touch, taste and smell.”
  • Fly Me to the Moon… and Then a Near-Earth Asteroid.”—”Well this is interesting: NASA is launching a spacecraft to explore asteroids on Artemis I, the first test flight in their push to return to the Moon. The spacecraft is called Near-Earth Asteroid, or NEA Scout, and get this: It’s using a solar sail as propulsion, the first interplanetary mission to do so!”
  • NASA’s Perseverance to attempt second Mars soil scoop, hoping rocks don’t ‘crumble’. The rover will scoot to a different location to find a new spot to scoop up dirt samples.”
  • Here comes the sun: Planetary scientists find evidence of solar-driven change on the moon.”—”Tiny iron nanoparticles unlike any found naturally on Earth are nearly everywhere on the moon—and scientists are trying to understand why. A new study led by Northern Arizona University doctoral candidate Christian J. Tai Udovicic, in collaboration with associate professor Christopher Edwards, both of NAU’s Department of Astronomy and Planetary Science, uncovered important clues to help understand the surprisingly active lunar surface. In an article recently published in Geophysical Research Letters, the scientists found that solar radiation could be a more important source of lunar iron nanoparticles than previously thought.”
  • Rain falls on peak of Greenland ice cap for first time on record. Precipitation was so unexpected, scientists had no gauges to measure it, and is stark sign of climate crisis.”
  • Breakthrough Technique Detects Magnetic Field History in Prehistoric Stone Tools. And we can relax: The Earth’s magnetic field may be weakening now but it’s happened before, and it recovered.”
  • Rattlesnake rattles use auditory illusion to trick human brains. The trick is a surprising instance of mammal-snake coevolution.”—”The menacing rattle of a rattlesnake’s tail is far more sophisticated than first thought, as the sound can create an auditory illusion that suggests the venomous snake is closer to a potential threat than it really is, according to a new study.”
  • Bats Love To Babble — Just Like Humans.”—”A paper published on Thursday in the latest issue of the journal Science finds similarities between the babbling of human infants and the babbling of the greater sac-winged bat (Saccopteryx bilineata) — a small species of bat that lives in Central and South America. The researchers believe that bats and humans both evolved babbling as a precursor to more complex vocal behavior such as singing, or, in the case of people, talking. ‘It’s crazy,’ that two species which are so distantly related both babble, says Ahana Fernandez, an animal behavioral ecologist at the Museum of Natural History in Berlin, Germany.”
  • Extinct ‘Hobbit’ creature the size of a house cat discovered in Wyoming dig site. Meet Beornus honeyi — but you can call him Beorn.”—”Early on their quest to reach the Lonely Mountain in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” (1937), Bilbo Baggins and company cross paths with an enormous, shape-shifting warrior named Beorn.” “In either form, Beorn is a giant among his peers. And now, paleontologists have immortalized the shaggy, axe-wielding brute with the discovery of an extinct mammal that rose to prominence in the Paleocene epoch (65 million to 23 million years ago), shortly after the death of the dinosaurs. They call this furry, puffy-cheeked creature Beornus honeyi.”
  • Physicists give weird new phase of matter an extra dimension. The supersolid’s atoms can move without ever losing energy.”
  • OnlyFans is banning porn, the very thing that made it big. $1B. The valuation OnlyFans is seeking as it kicks porn off its platform.” Tweet—”Investor Bill Ackman pressured Mastercard to change their rules, forcing OnlyFans to ban adult content. Ackman said he was worried about “sex trafficking” in Pornhub. Here’s Ackman trying to cover up his wife taking money from Jeffrey Epstein:” “Hedge fund manager told Joi Ito to keep his wife’s name out of Jeffrey Epstein saga” Also “Bill Ackman Sent a Text to the CEO of Mastercard. What Happened Next Is a Parable for ESG. A yearlong campaign to hold major companies accountable for online sexual abuse met with little success — until a New York Times article got a hedge fund manager involved.” Tweet thread—”A lot of people are getting the OnlyFans story wrong, and the reality of it is a lot more damaging and concerning to both the livelihood of sex workers and online freedom in general.” Tweet—”Our statement on @OnlyFans deplatforming sex workers: OnlyFans deplatforming legal sex work is a perfect example of why we need an Internet with less choke-points for censorship.”
  • デジタル監、伊藤穣一氏見送り 政府” (Digital supervisor, Joi Ito seeing off government)—”政府は9月1日に発足させるデジタル庁の事務方トップとなるデジタル監人事で調整していた実業家、伊藤穣一氏の起用を見送る方針を固めた。複数の政府関係者が18日、明らかにした。伊藤氏は過去の資金援助問題で勤務先の研究機関所長を辞任した経緯がある。” (The government has decided to forgo the appointment of Mr. Joi Ito, a businessman who was coordinating with digital personnel affairs, who will be the top office worker of the Digital Agency, which will be launched on September 1. Several government officials revealed on the 18th. Mr. Ito has a history of resigning from the director of the research institution where he works due to past financial assistance problems.)
  • Princeton University says it knows Apple’s CSAM system is dangerous – because it built one.”
  • Amazon’s Expansion Into Department Stores Is All About Surveillance. It would take the company from being a business that only tracks you most of the time into one that’s virtually inescapable.”—”Now that it’s officially swallowed the lion’s share of online retail sales, Amazon is reportedly eyeing ways to corner our offline shopping, too. The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the e-commerce giant is drumming up plans to open ‘several’ department-style stores in a handful of cities across the U.S. People familiar with the matter told the paper that these stores would help Amazon ‘extend its reach in sales of clothing, household items, electronics, and other areas.’ It’s a smart move from Amazon, but also one that would end up being a privacy nightmare for a company that’s seen its fair share of scandals in the space.”
  • Apple’s Double Agent. He spent years inside the iPhone leaks and jailbreak community. He was also spying for Apple.”
  • A Company That Designs Jails is Spying On Activists Who Oppose Them. Documents show HDR, Inc. has monitored groups that oppose its controversial plans to build jails and highways.”
  • The Quiet Rage of the Responsible. It’s time to stop being diffident and speak up.”—”In a very real sense, the irresponsible minority is depriving the rest of us of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” “Furthermore, those claiming that their opposition to public health measures is about protecting ‘freedom’ aren’t being honest.”
  • Vaccine Refusers Risk Compassion Fatigue. After the horrors that health-care workers have endured during the pandemic, many are struggling to sympathize with people who won’t protect themselves.”
  • As a doctor in a COVID unit, I’m running out of compassion for the unvaccinated. Get the shot.”
  • Unvaccinated Mom’s Dying Wish: ‘Make Sure My Children Get Vaccinated’. ‘She would be there for her kids right now if she had been vaccinated.'”
  • About 20,000 Mississippi students in quarantine for COVID-19 exposure, health official says.”
  • Man shot 6 times waits more than a week for surgery after hospital is overwhelmed by covid.”
  • Tweet thread—”Last year I fell down the Qanon rabbit hole — sorta. The conspiracy Q stuff is meh, but the believers’ personal stories are unique. Are there shared details and common threads? What is the pipeline to Qanon belief? I wonder if I could chart it out? So I did.”
  • Mike Lindell Melts Down When Expert Tries To Claim His $5 Million Cyber-Bounty. The MyPillow guy’s disastrous “Cyber Symposium” could cost him.”—”A security expert says he wants to collect the $5 million bounty Mike Lindell put out for anyone who can disprove his conspiracy theories about 2020 election data. And the MyPillow CEO is predictably not handling it very well.”
  • Donald Trump Booed at Alabama Rally After Encouraging Crowd to Get COVID-19 Vaccine.” Tweet—”Good reminder that Trump was never a leader of the mob, but someone who jumped to the head of their parade. ‘Build the wall’ wasn’t some core policy principle so much as the racist trope that won the fastest, easiest applause.”
  • Top legal analysts shoot down idea that Trump didn’t commit crimes — and demand a federal investigation.”—”‘We believe that the full scope of Trump’s conduct must be investigated by federal authorities, for the same reasons and in the same way they usually investigate credible evidence of major wrongdoing,’ they wrote. ‘We take exception to those who say there is ‘little reason’ to open an investigation. Trump’s statements like ‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’ (made to the Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger) and ‘just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me’ (made to Trump’s own acting attorney general) suggest Trump knew that he had lost and was openly procuring fraud.’ The two dismantled those trying to defend Trump’s ‘Big Lie’ about election fraud. ‘There was no reasonable basis for him or anyone to genuinely believe he had won. Any notion that Trump was articulating an honest but misguided belief is belied by his long record of lies. And claims that the criminal statutes for election fraud and related offenses don’t fit here are wrong. The Justice Department regularly prosecutes public officials for asking election officials to do things like ‘adding ballots to increase the vote totals for certain candidates,’ which is what Trump allegedly asked for here,’ they explained.”
  • Tweet—”Trump’s brand new $15 billion #BorderWall is being ripped apart by monsoon floods. This is what happens when @DHSgov waives all environmental laws & ignores basic science to put up a political prop.”
  • Kushner friend Ken Kurson charged in N.Y. eavesdropping case after Trump pardon. The former New York Observer editor’s arrest marks what is likely the first instance of a local prosecutor pursuing state-level charges against a person after that individual was given a pass by Trump for the same alleged conduct that federal authorities had pursued.”
  • Afghanistan’s Opium Business Boomed Under US Occupation. The Taliban banned production of the poppy in 2000. After twenty years of war, Afghanistan is now responsible for 82% of the world’s opium supply.” Tweet—”Opium is the religion of the people!”
  • Afghan robotics team arrives safely in Doha: ‘The girls rescued themselves’. The school-aged girls now look to continue their education outside of Afghanistan.”
  • My musician friends in Afghanistan are hiding their musical instruments in fear of the Taliban: Young Afghan composer Arson Fahim.”
  • From 2019: “At War With the Truth. U.S. officials constantly said they were making progress. They were not, and they knew it, an exclusive Post investigation found.”
  • No, George W. Bush doesn’t deserve a pass on Afghanistan. The former president has shown an incredible lack of self-reflection in the twenty years since his war of revenge.”
  • After a Year Without Rowdy Tourists, European Cities Want to Keep It That Way. Pandemic lockdowns meant fewer crowds and less garbage. Now Amsterdam, Prague and Barcelona want to make some changes permanent.”
  • Tweet—”Lovely example of ‘crossing,’ which was common practice in the early 19th century to save both paper and postal charges. It’s surprising not hard to read if you’re familiar with the hand. I’ve even tried writing this way myself.” Tweet—”Because @saraoleary was interested in seeing an example of my crossed letter in the early 19th century manner, I wrote her one.”
  • Internet Hot Take™️: It took Epic to take on Apple and Google. It took Scarlett Johansen to take on Disney. “Exclusive: Disney Has Cut All Ties And Projects With Scarlett Johansson.” There’s no “good guys” here. The entertainment industry is an ongoing bread & circus show barely-if-at-all masking massive fucking nigh-inconceivable transfers and concentrations of wealth and power heading up river. But, maybe these kaiju battles will turn out in the end to help change things for the people down stream a little too.
  • Punch up with a fist, extend an open hand down: “Simu Liu is on the cusp of superstardom. But that isn’t his end game. As Marvel’s first Asian superhero, Canadian actor Simu Liu is about to become a household name. But it’s not enough to succeed on his own; he wants to bring his community with him.”
  • Apparently this shit-canoe stepped down as host, but he appears to still be EP. “‘A Smile With Sharp Teeth’: Mike Richards’s Rise to ‘Jeopardy!’ Host Sparks Questions About His Past. The ‘Jeopardy!’ host search is finally over. New reporting reveals that concerns about Richards and the show’s selection process remain.” Also “Anti-Defamation League Calls For Investigation Of ‘Jeopardy!’ Host Mike Richards’ Comments.”
  • The ‘so what’ of complexity – Part I“.—”I feel like it’s been the best part of 10 years I’ve been exploring and writing about complexity now, and it feels about time to capture some of the main learnings about the implications, rather than the substance. Practically speaking, what will we do differently and how, when we embrace complexity rather than fight it?”
  • Lunar phase clock“—”We found a simply beautiful Raspberry Pi project over at Instructables: this illuminated lunar phase clock.”
  • Instagram—”WOW! An honour to handle one of the most significant vehicles in Sci Fi wargaming…” “Is that the original deodorant stick land speeder thingy from way back in the early 40k days?!? From one of the early White Dwarf magazines?” “That is our people’s Turin Shroud! Never wash your hands again!!” “This is what accessible war gaming looks like. As a kid this model made me realise I could just make anything out of junk. This was my gateway. I’m sure I’m not alone. The significance of this humble model can’t be overstated.”
  • Tweet thread—”Among Skyrim players, you’ll occasionally see this tip: if you see a wild fox, follow it and you’ll be led to treasure. Sometime shortly after shipping, we saw this going around online, and an informal investigation started. Who made foxes do this?!” “Emergent Gameplay is often used to describe designed randomness, but this is a case of actual gameplay that NOBODY designed emerging from the bubbling cauldron of overlapping systems. And I think that’s beautiful.”
  • Phil Tippett’s Mad God. Watch “Phil Tippett’s MAD GOD“, teaser trailer for this “Stop Motion Animation Sci-Fi Horror Feature Film”. “Mad God“—”MAD GOD will premiere at Locarno Film Festival in August, 2021.” “Mad God is an experimental stop-motion film set in a Miltonesque world of monsters, mad scientists, and war pigs. Conceived and directed by our founder, legendary visual effects and stop-motion craftsman Phil Tippett, all sets, creatures and environments in Mad God are handcrafted and shot at the Berkeley studio stage. Mad God is a mature film made with technology that spans the history of cinema.”
  • You’ve never seen a nun movie quite like this. Exorcisms, worm eating, toy trains, and three indescribably fucked-up Texans anchor our latest Fantasia Film Festival dispatch.” Also “First ‘Agnes’ Trailer and Photos Tease a Classic Exorcism Horror Film. Who doesn’t love some possessed nuns?” Tribecca. Trailer. Dir. Mickey Reece. With Molly C Quinn! And Sean Gunn?! Also Jake Horowitz, Chris Browning, Ben Hall, Mary Buss, and Chris Sullivan.
  • I humbly submit two words to Sean Gunn and James Gunn: Ambush Bug!
  • I’m still holding out hope for full translations to English of the series of Eiko Kadono’s Kiki’s Delivery Service. Also, I still hope, but know I’ll never read in English a translation of Great Bodhisattva Pass by Kaizan Nakazato, just part of which was the source of Kihachi Okamoto’s The Sword of Doom; which for me, personally, was absolutely the story of Anakin’s fall (Mifune’s Shimada Toranosuke as Obiwan and Ryunosuke Tsukue as Anakin? Anyone? Anyone?! “The Sword of Doom is all about a man’s ego, his foolish sense of invincibility, and the thundering strike to his ego that ultimately bursts his bubble. In Shimada, Ryunosuke sees his better, and in so doing sees his own mortality, and in the courtesan house he sees his sins coming full circle to haunt him. No samurai film captures sudden insanity, begotten by grief, quite so well as this one.”—”The 50 Best Samurai Films of All Time“), at least before the prequels and … maybe still is to me a bit, in the same way that Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars was perhaps the apotheosis of and first time seeing what Jedi in battle could and should be.
  • Watch Danny Elfman & Trent Reznor video “True” Remix of a track from Danny Elfman’s 2021 studio album The Big Mess [Amazon, Bandcamp]. Apparently this is only Danny Elfman’s 2nd solo studio album after 1984’s So-Lo!? I’m getting really strong Bowie’s Blackstar vibes from some tracks …
  • Engaging Movie Fans With Incredible Experiences. D-ID working with Warner Bros to create a new way to connect to consumers.”—”Users are invited to participate in an immersive experience, where their still pictures are uploaded, animated and inserted into a movie trailer in sync with the action on the screen. Users can then share these personalized movie preview videos through the social media channels of their choice.” Also official site.
  • Watch “Syroco concept preview – ST EN“—”WORLD SAILING SPEED RECORD. Much more than a sporting record, a global challenge for a very actual concern. 🌍 Syroco’s purpose is to achieve pioneering feats, catalysts for innovation, in support of a sustainable transition. Our first achievement: shatter the world sailing speed record. The bar is set at 150 kph. For which purpose? Invent carbon-free transportation to minimise damage to the sea, and by extension to the environment. The goal is clear. It is now up to us. And you, are you getting on board?” Also watch “SP80 | Sailing towards the World Sailing Speed Record“—”This is the SP80 kiteboat designed to break the World Sailing Speed Record. The Swiss team has one goal: reaching 150km/h (80 knots) powered only by the wind. Supported by Richard Mille, the record attempt is set for 2022. Will you be there?”
  • Tweet—”GOD WILL PROVIDE!* *Certain conditions apply. Physical and emotional needs excluded. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.”
  • He did what now? “No one believed Mozart was only nine years old. Until he started playing with a cat, mid-performance.“—”At one point a favourite cat came in, at which point Wolfgang immediately left the piano to play with the cat, and it was some time before they could coax him back to the keyboard.” Oh. Not, like, played the piano using the cat. Okay! Whew. Also “‘He suddenly tired of it, jumped up, and, in the mad mood which so often came over him, he began to leap over tables and chairs, miaow like a cat, and turn somersaults like an unruly boy.’ To be fair, if we improvised and wrote sublime music like that, we’d probably be inclined to get up and transform into a magnificent four-legged creature, scamper about and meow our delight, too. If anyone earned the opportunity to lark about, Mozart did.”