Omnium Gatherum: 25aug2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for August 25, 2021

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

  • Hundreds of US Museums Will Be Free on September 18“—”After a forced hiatus last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day will return on September 18, 2021, offering free admission to hundreds of museums nationwide.”
  • Josephine Baker to Be Honored With a Panthéon Burial. Ms. Baker will be the first Black woman to be entombed in the Panthéon in Paris, a symbolic move amid racial tensions in France.”
  • Apparently, yesterday was National Waffle Day? Okay. “Pass the syrup and enjoy a slice of history for National Waffle Day“—”The National Museum of American History’s Domestic Life collection includes waffle irons that date from the early 18th century through the mid-20th century. They provide a glimpse into American eating habits as well as innovations that shaped the domestic sphere. What better way to take advantage of National Waffle Day than to explore the tasty history of one of our most beloved breakfast treats? Today’s date is significant because it is the date of the first patent issued for a waffle iron. On August 24, 1869, the U.S. Patent Office issued a patent to Cornelius Swartwout of Troy, New York, for his design for an ‘Improvement in Waffle-Irons.'”
  • The Private and the Public. What we can learn from Wittgenstein.”—”Those living in repressive societies will be familiar with the distinction between what they feel able to say or write and what they must keep to themselves. And they will also know to distinguish between what is written or said and the private thoughts of its author. The distinction is, in fact, known to all of us even in so-called free societies. Considerations of prudence, politeness, propriety, shame or guilt make us refrain from giving expression to many things we think or feel or they get us, at least, to modify and tame our words. I may not tell my boss what exactly I think of him for reasons of prudence. I may not give voice to the pain I feel in order not to upset my companions. I may not comment aloud on a lecture in progress for reasons of propriety. I may not use the swear word that has come to my mind for reasons of politeness. But we also look at others and wonder whether any of those reasons have made them be silent about their inner feelings and thoughts or circumspect in expressing them. We describe the distinction that opens up in this way as one between the public and the private. Thoughts and feelings are private, we say, whereas words and actions are public. I want to talk here about Wittgenstein’s remarks on privacy in his Philosophical Investigations but will do so in a roundabout manner.”
  • The Master and Margarita [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Mikhail Bulgakov, trans. Diana Burgin and Katherine Tiernan O’Connor, re-issue due September 2021—”The acclaimed, bestselling translation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s masterwork, an undisputed classic of Russian and world literature. An audacious revision of the stories of Faust and Pontius Pilate, The Master and Margarita is recognized as one of the essential classics of modern Russian literature. The novel’s vision of Soviet life in the 1930s is so ferociously accurate that it could not be published during its author’s lifetime and appeared only in a censored edition in the 1960s. Its truths are so enduring that its language has become part of the common Russian speech. Now The Overlook Press is reissuing this acclaimed translation in an all-new package. One hot spring, the devil arrives in Moscow, accompanied by a retinue that includes a beautiful naked witch and an immense talking black cat with a fondness for chess and vodka. The visitors quickly wreak havoc in a city that refuses to believe in either God or Satan. But they also bring peace to two unhappy Muscovites: one is the Master, a writer pilloried for daring to write a novel about Christ and Pontius Pilate; the other is Margarita, who loves the Master so deeply that she is willing to literally go to hell for him. What ensues is a novel of inexhaustible energy, humor, and philosophical depth, a work whose nuances splendidly emerge in Diana Burgin’s and Katherine Tiernan O’Connor’s superb English translation, with an afterword and extensive commentary by Ellendea Proffer.”
  • We All Know Columbus Didn’t Discover America—So How Did He Become a Symbol of Its Founding? Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on the Erasure of This Continent’s Original Inhabitants.” Excerpt from Not “A Nation of Immigrants”: Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy, and a History of Erasure and Exclusion [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz—”Debunks the pervasive and self-congratulatory myth that our country is proudly founded by and for immigrants, and urges readers to embrace a more complex and honest history of the United States. Whether in political debates or discussions about immigration around the kitchen table, many Americans, regardless of party affiliation, will say proudly that we are a nation of immigrants. In this bold new book, historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz asserts this ideology is harmful and dishonest because it serves to mask and diminish the US’s history of settler colonialism, genocide, white supremacy, slavery, and structural inequality, all of which we still grapple with today. She explains that the idea that we are living in a land of opportunity–founded and built by immigrants–was a convenient response by the ruling class and its brain trust to the 1960s demands for decolonialization, justice, reparations, and social equality. Moreover, Dunbar-Ortiz charges that this feel good–but inaccurate–story promotes a benign narrative of progress, obscuring that the country was founded in violence as a settler state, and imperialist since its inception. While some of us are immigrants or descendants of immigrants, others are descendants of white settlers who arrived as colonizers to displace those who were here since time immemorial, and still others are descendants of those who were kidnapped and forced here against their will. This paradigm shifting new book from the highly acclaimed author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States charges that we need to stop believing and perpetuating this simplistic and a historical idea and embrace the real (and often horrific) history of the United States.”
  • How Does the Biological Heart Have to Do With Our Emotions?” Excerpt from The Source of All Things: A Heart Surgeon’s Quest to Understand Our Most Mysterious Organ [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Reinhard Friedl with with Shirley Michaela Seul—”In the tradition of Henry Marsh’s Do No Harm, Reinhard Friedl’s The Source of All Things is a heart surgeon’s personal investigation of the human heart, moving from his riveting clinical experiences to a more poetic understanding of its workings. The heart is our most important organ. Yet despite that it has not changed since the appearance of Homo sapiens 300,000 years ago, it is also our most mysterious. In most human cultures, it is seen as the source of love, sympathy, joy, courage, strength and wisdom. What if the heart could answer questions neurosciences can’t begin to? Having witnessed the extraordinary complexity and unpredictability of human hearts in the operating theatre—each one individual, like a fingerprint—heart surgeon Reinhard Friedl looked again at this “primitive pump” to reconcile it with his experiences from thousands of heart operations. In this book, he presents findings from various scientific disciplines, such as secret connections of the heart and brain and their influence on emotions and consciousness. He reveals the miracle that is the heart that we speak about so often yet is strangely foreign to many human beings. Full of compelling patient stories, The Source of All Things ends with a plea: that we recognize the heart’s wisdom and adopt a more heart-centered way of living, leading to greater health and more joy.”
  • Ants use soil physics to excavate metre-long tunnels that last decades“—”Ant colonies can descend several metres underground, house millions of insects and last for decades, despite being made without the benefit of machinery and reinforcing material. The secrets of these impressive architectural structures are being revealed by three-dimensional X-ray imaging and computer simulations, and could be used to develop robotic mining machines.”
  • International Trio of Mars Orbiters Shows Small Dust Storms Help Dry Out the Red Planet.”—”By combining observations from three international spacecraft at Mars, scientists were able to show that regional dust storms play a huge role in drying out the Red Planet.”
  • Wearable Fitness Trackers Useful in Cancer Treatment, Study Finds. Chemotherapy is a powerful tool in the fight against cancer, but so is data, according to a new study led by USC computer science researchers.”
  • From the Tesseract dept: “This May Be a ‘Heisenberg Cube’ From the Nazis’ Failed Nuke Program, Scientists Say. The Nazis tried to develop nuclear weapons during WWII. This uranium cube at a Washington laboratory may have been part of this secret program.”
  • From 2019: “Neanderthals Produced Wooden Spears Advanced Enough to Kill at Distance. In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, a team of researchers from University College London and Nordic Sport (UK) Limited examined the performance of replicas of the 300,000-year-old Schöningen hand-thrown spears to identify whether javelin throwers could use them to hit a target at distance.”
  • Watch “Why the Moon?” from NASA—”The Artemis missions will build a community on the Moon, driving a new lunar economy and inspiring a new generation. Narrator Drew Barrymore and NASA team members explain why returning to the Moon is the natural next step in human exploration, and how the lessons learned from Artemis will pave the way to Mars and beyond. As NASA prepares to launch the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket on the uncrewed Artemis I mission around the Moon, we’ve already begun to take the next step.”
  • Fastest orbiting asteroid found in our solar system.”—”A newly discovered asteroid is sticking close to our sun — much closer than our own planet Earth. The asteroid, called 2021 PH27, completes an orbit around the sun every 113 days and comes within 12.4 million miles (20 million kilometers) of our star. That gives this space rock the distinction of having the shortest known orbital period for an asteroid — and only the second shortest orbit around the sun after Mercury, which takes 88 days to complete its orbital journey around our star.”
  • A Big Study About Honesty Turns Out To Be Based On Fake Data. Renowned psychologist Dan Ariely literally wrote the book on dishonesty. Now some are questioning whether the scientist himself is being dishonest.” Also “Famed Duke expert on human dishonesty suspected of fraud. Manipulated data in study of truth and behaviour threatens career of popular TED Talk star Dan Ariely.”—”The person who fabricated the data did not expect anyone to look at them with care.”
  • Open-Source Insulin: Biohackers Aiming for Distributed Production.” See Open Insulin Foundation.
  • Turtles all the way up. “How Big Can the Quantum World Be? Physicists Probe the Limits. By showing that even large objects can exhibit bizarre quantum behaviors, physicists hope to illuminate the mystery of quantum collapse, identify the quantum nature of gravity, and perhaps even make Schrödinger’s cat a reality.”—”These questions have been around throughout the century-long history of quantum theory. Now, for the first time, researchers are on the cusp of being able to answer them — and perhaps to point the way toward describing how gravity fits into the quantum world. ‘I’ve been working on macroscopic superpositions for 10 years,’ said the quantum theorist Oriol Romero-Isart of the University of Innsbruck in Austria, one of the leaders in the field, ‘but now we’re at a very timely moment.’ In the coming years, we might discover whether or not the world is quantum all the way up.”
  • Drinking sufficient water could prevent heart failure“—”‘Our study suggests that maintaining good hydration can prevent or at least slow down the changes within the heart that lead to heart failure,’ said study author Dr. Natalia Dmitrieva of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, US. ‘The findings indicate that we need to pay attention to the amount of fluid we consume every day and take action if we find that we drink too little.’ Recommendations on daily fluid intake vary from 1.6 to 2.1 litres for women and 2 to 3 litres for men. However, worldwide surveys have shown that many people do not meet even the lower ends of these ranges. Serum sodium is a precise measure of hydration status: when people drink less fluid, the concentration of serum sodium increases. The body then attempts to conserve water, activating processes known to contribute to the development of heart failure.”
  • New chemistry enables using existing technology to print stretchable, bendable circuits on artificial skin. Stanford researchers show how to print dense transistor arrays on skin-like materials to create stretchable circuits that flex with the body to perform applications yet to be imagined.”
  • OMG. Fuck. This is awful. “What’s causing the worst die-off of manatees? Starvation from Florida ecosystem collapse.”—”Partly because of the pandemic, necropsies were not done on two-thirds of the dead in Brevard. But by February, authorities had learned that winter cold was not the culprit. They knew from manatees’ contorted bodies and from finding nearly no seagrass in the lagoon they were dying of malnutrition. Widely beloved as irresistibly cuddly, manatees are among Florida’s strongest, hardiest creatures, able to heal from vicious propeller wounds. Death by starvation is as inhumane as any of the assaults Florida has inflicted on manatees. Caretakers said suffering lasted months. Many lost nearly half of their weight. While still alive, bones pierced thinning skin and, remarkable to veterinarians, heart, liver and other organs were liquifying. To survive, the animals consumed their fat and muscle. They lost buoyancy and, becoming too exhausted to swim, could no longer raise their heads for air.”
  • We thought we knew how our brains understand speech. We were wrong. New findings suggest that your brain hears sounds and words separately and simultaneously, instead of the long-standing assumption that the mind processes sound to turn it into familiar words.”
  • China eyes ‘ultra-large spacecraft’ spanning miles in US$2.3m crewed mission push. Science and technology ministry’s funding arm proposes five-year project on building ‘ultra-large spacecraft’ to aid exploration and stay in long-term orbit. Researchers will be tasked with minimising the weight of the spacecraft to reduce the number of launches and construction costs.”
  • What if data had funerals too? If we are about to become this digital civilisation as it has been commonly stated, and if funerals are considered by anthropologists one of the foundations of a civilisation, we may have to imagine funerals for our precious data. However, do we value our data enough to grant funerals for these once-beloved traces of our life when they are gone? And are they even gone? Data Funerals explore and question our relation to the fragility of data, be they personal or not, through a design fiction work. This series of speculative rituals and near-future scenarios explore how we could – today and tomorrow – predict, conjure, grieve, mourn, remember the disappearance of our data and the decay of their silicium bodies.”
  • Are You Ready for Sentient Disney Robots? Some of the animatronics at Disney’s parks have been doing their herky-jerky thing since the Nixon administration. The company knows that nostalgia won’t cut it with today’s children.”
  • How Apple will (eventually) replace the iPhone. Here’s what will replace the iPhone (eventually)”—”Which raises the question: what happens after the smartphone? Every big tech company in the world—well, the smart ones at least—has got to be looking down the road to figure out where our digital future is headed, and Apple’s no exception.” “As elegant as the design of the iPhone is, at the end of the day it’s a box that sits in your pocket or that you hold in your hand, and there remains something fundamentally clunky about bestowing all this significance to an oblong solid of glass and steel. And, if there’s one thing that Apple just can’t seem to resist, it’s trying to push our technological devices to become even more elegant.
  • Facebook, Fearing Public Outcry, Shelved Earlier Report on Popular Posts. The company praised itself this week for being ‘the most transparent platform on the internet.'” Also “Facebook says post that cast doubt on covid-19 vaccine was most popular on the platform from January through March. The social-media platform’s Saturday evening acknowledgment comes after a lengthy internal debate over whether to share data.” Tweet—”I’ve long compared Facebook to Big Tobacco and here’s the latest parallel: Facebook knew internally that it was facilitating the deaths of thousands of people through misinformation, and not only did nothing about it, but withheld its knowledge from public.”
  • Terms of Service. Inside Social Media’s War on Sex Workers.”
  • Tweet—”Thank you to everyone for making your voices heard. We have secured assurances necessary to support our diverse creator community and have suspended the planned October 1 policy change. OnlyFans stands for inclusion and we will continue to provide a home for all creators.” Tweet—”As damage control goes this is weak. Once you destroy your customers’ trust, you’re not getting it back that easy.” Tweet—”Ok but you’re back to calling us creators. You can call us sex workers. Or is this your subtle way of going back to ignoring us”. Tweet—”Waitresses and therapists are actually the outermost ring of sexwork” Also tweet—”Two years ago, @Mastercard told me they wouldn’t shut down white supremacist orgs because it’s not their place to stop transactions unless they’re illegal. (This is the transcript from the 2019 annual shareholder meeting.)” Also tweet—”According to trafficking survivor @RoseKalemba, her one-time friend @LailaMickelwait, public face of Exodus Cry, one of the biggest antiporn ministries, has been secretly storing, sharing and — when expedient — uploading CSAM abuse material onto platforms herself.” Tweet—”At first, the anti-trafficking movement felt like a lifeline. Hardly anyone had ever cared about what I went through before. But it quickly became yet another thing that would traumatize me. This was a very painful piece to write. Please share, thank you.” Also thread—”I know a lot of you feel hopeless right now, but I watching this unfold, I want to contextualize a few things about the battle ahead. #1 Exodus Cry and NCOSE are scrambling: 95% of coverage about OnlyFans supports SWers. They didn’t expect this, and now want to shift blame. 1/” “One last point: only sex workers could have done this! Not studios, not OnlyFans, not me. Nobody cares about a billion dollar company. But they do care about every day people fighting to survive — and thrive — in a harsh world. Never forget how powerful you are.” Thread—”there are something like 60,000 coal miners in the US, and we hear endlessly about their jobs. with up to 2 million content creators impacted by new MasterCard pushed policy on OnlyFans, literally no mainstream paper I’ve looked at seems to have front paged this development.” Tweet—”I don’t want to be an alarmist but this is something we should all start preparing for. The day after PornHub went down the antis started talking about OnlyFans. Now that OnlyFans has bowed to their whims they are setting their sights on Twitter.” Tweet—”This should concern everyone. This is an easy way to expand surveillance by the state. She keeps treating platforms as the problem instead of the abusers. Why? She wants to keep marginalizing the people with the least power, isolating them, & INCREASING vulnerability to violence.” Tweet—”Laila and Exodus Cry make millions off of these harmful campaigns. They won’t stop; it’s too good for their pockets. On top of that, they don’t help survivors. Donors think their money is going to survivors but that doesn’t seem to be the case.”
  • Ultra-Vaxxed Israel’s Crisis Is a Dire Warning to America. ‘I don’t want to frighten you,’ Israel’s COVID czar Dr. Salman Zarka told parliament this week. ‘But… unfortunately, the numbers don’t lie.'”
  • Why we’re happy hobbits in Jacinda’s ‘mysterious socialist hermit kingdom’. Some British media have been mocking New Zealand for going into Covid lockdown over one case, but it’s hard to find downsides to the approach.”—”The New Zealand lockdowns are effective: we’ve had just 26 people die of Covid, a number which – and I cannot stress this enough – is very different from more than 130,000, the current UK death tally.”
  • From the Neologism dept: “Tweet—”A lot of the commentary around Australia’s “opening up” takes it as a binary: we’re either open or we’re closed. But the plan everyone is arguing about foresees a transition. There is a significant period of time when we can expect to be both closed and open i.e, clopen.”
  • Pandemic Paralysis“—”I’m continually appalled by how easily people move from ‘the consequences of doing X are uncertain’ to ‘X must be banned!’, even when there would seem every reason to expect that X actually has high expected value and ought to be encouraged, if anything.”
  • Costa Ricans Live Longer Than Us. What’s the Secret? We’ve starved our public-health sector. The Costa Rica model demonstrates what happens when you put it first.”
  • Dead Line.Future corporate profits are officially more important than life on Earth.”—”The human tragedy is that there is no connection between what we know and what we do. Almost everyone is now at least vaguely aware that we face the greatest catastrophe our species has ever confronted. Yet scarcely anyone alters their behaviour in response: above all, their driving, flying and consumption of meat and dairy.” “No government, even the most progressive, is yet prepared to contemplate the transformation we need: a global programme that places the survival of humanity and the rest of life on Earth above all other issues. We need not just new policy, but a new ethics. We need to close the gap between knowing and doing. But this conversation has scarcely begun.”
  • COVID-19 outbreak among Cyber Ninjas staff delays delivery of full Arizona Senate audit.”
  • Here is how Trump is trying to raise cash as he faces a mountain of debt“—”As Peyser notes, Trump has been keeping busy creating cash streams that could help him lighten his load — many involving raising funds from his rabid supporters. ‘Trump is still soliciting political donations, although it’s unclear what he needs the money for,’ she wrote, pointing to his ‘Save America Joint Fundraising Committee’ website that allows donations and automatically enrolls the contributor into a recurring donation loop, despite reports that the campaign has been forced to refund over $122 million to those ‘who unwittingly checked the box.’ ‘Whatever Trump is up to, it seems to be working; as of last month, he had a war chest of more than $100 million,’ Peyser wrote. ‘Financial Times reported that this money was raised via multiple fundraising vehicles, ‘some left over from his 2020 presidential campaign, others newly launched, making it difficult to keep track of the money Trump has raised and what he is able to use it for.””
  • GOP Pays Rudy Giuliani Associates Wrapped Up in Ukraine Probe. The Republican National Committee recently paid $20,000 to DiGenova & Toensing LLP, a law firm helmed by two GOP insiders with alleged ties to Giuliani’s Ukrainian dealings.”
  • Tweet—This clip of a security control room at Iran’s most notorious prison being shut down by hackers is straight out of a movie. Hackers are now leaking stolen CCTV from across the Evin prison to highlight the abuse of inmates, per @AP.” “Iran official acknowledges videos of Evin prison abuse real.”
  • Andrew Cuomo Was Only Ever Good at Cruel Manipulation. And the very thing he and his crew delighted in so much—dehumanizing others for their own advancement and enjoyment—is the thing that brought them down.”
  • Namaste nationalism: Yoga, whiteness and extremism on Jan. 6. Liberal v. conservative divisions are a flawed way to understand what happened at the Capitol.”—”We should not be surprised to find so many self-described yogis among the Capitol rioters. Yoga in the U.S. is intertwined with wealth, whiteness, and white supremacy, perhaps a shock to many of its casual practitioners.”
  • Federal Defense Contractors Resume Donations To Republicans Who Rejected Democracy. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon all vowed to halt political contributions after the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Welp!”
  • Makin’ sure she can’t be compelled to testify? “Matt Gaetz, Republican in sex-trafficking investigation, marries in California. Florida congressman denies paying for sex with 17-year-old. Former Rand Paul staffer presides over surprise ceremony.”
  • Tweet—”Magna Carta is (cod) Latin and is old and it sounds impressive, like one of those spells in a certain type of fantasy fiction. ‘I magna carta thee thus!’ But it is, like those spells, a form of magical thinking.” Also “The last Edinburgh Castle siege in 1745 that also ended in total failure. When a group of protestors tried to “seize the castle” on Tuesday night, they weren’t the first to try – or fail. The last attempt was in 1745, when the Jacobite army took the city, but not the castle.”
  • Tweet—”Those who make their arguments with bombs and missiles are ‘moderates’ and ‘centrists’; those who oppose them with words are ‘extremists’. The inconvenient fact that the ‘extremists’ were right and the ‘centrists’ were wrong is today being strenuously forgotten.”
  • Wait. Whut?! “CIA director met Taliban leader in Afghanistan on Monday -sources.”
  • Bush, Obama, Trump, Biden: How four presidents created today’s Afghanistan mess.”
  • Podcast The Philosopher & The News episode “Darrel Moellendorf & Ending War Justly.”—”Is putting an end to war always the just thing to do? Should the costs and sacrifices suffered during a war determine whether the war should continue or end? Or should a war only end when its original aims have been achieved?”
  • Tweet (now hidden, but gander at the responses)—”More companies should just buy a bunch of land somewhere and build company towns. Pay people to move five minutes from the office. Reap the employee satisfaction”. Tweet—”*spits coffee in Western Pennsylvanian*” Tweet—”My company town would be okay because it’s about coding instead of coal extraction”.
  • Who Was Typhoid Mary? Harvard Professor Martin Kulldorff’s Disease Tweet Raises Eyebrows.”—”On Tuesday, Martin Kulldorff, a Harvard Medical School professor who specializes in disease surveillance and outbreaks, expressed concern about people being blamed for infecting others. He tweeted: ‘For thousands of years, disease pathogens have spread from person to person. Never before have carriers been blamed for infecting the next sick person. That is a very dangerous ideology.'” “As of Wednesday morning the tweet had gained thousands of likes and retweets and over 5,000 replies. Many Twitter users criticized Kulldorff’s claim that individuals had never before been blamed for spreading disease and pointed to the case of Typhoid Mary as an example.” Tweet—”Except for typhoid mary, IV drug users, lepers, gay men, basically all of colonial history, typhus in NY in 1892, Venice in 1370, sex worker raids in 1917, and well… like all of human history”. Tweet—”Utterly maniacal gaslighting here. From Typhoid Mary to covering your goddamn mouth when you cough and sneeze to wearing a condom when you bone, minimizing the spread of disease has always been the responsibility of the potential carrier.”
  • Tweet—”The quality public space found within this small French seaside town of 2,300 people exceeds that of most American cities of 230,000. Count the cars to find out why…” Tweet—”People think small European towns like this are charming because of the history or the architecture, but it’s like 95% because they don’t allow cars.”
  • Maine Will Make Companies Pay for Recycling. Here’s How It Works. The law aims to take the cost burden of recycling away from taxpayers. One environmental advocate said the change could be ‘transformative.'”
  • Clark Atlanta University, HBCUs across the country clear student balances and cancel debt with federal funds“—”The Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted the finances of many Black Americans, including student loan borrowers. Black college graduates owe an average of $25,000 more in student loan debt than white college grads, and over 50% of Black borrowers say their net worth is less than what they owe on student loans. Now, a number of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are stepping in to help alleviate that financial burden. With federal funding and private donations, these schools are wiping out current students’ account balances — including tuition and fees — and giving them a fresh start.”
  • ‘Pain compliance’: Video shows trooper pummeling Black man.”—”Graphic body camera video kept secret for more than two years shows a Louisiana State Police trooper pummeling a Black motorist 18 times with a flashlight — an attack the trooper defended as ‘pain compliance.’ ‘I’m not resisting! I’m not resisting!’ Aaron Larry Bowman can be heard screaming between blows on the footage obtained by The Associated Press. The May 2019 beating following a traffic stop left him with a broken jaw, three broken ribs, a broken wrist and a gash to his head that required six staples to close.”
  • Seniors step in to fill missing shifts. Faced with a shortage of workers, a small army of seniors in Sechelt is volunteering to cover shifts at restaurants and other small businesses, rather than see them close their doors because of a lack of workers. Aaron McArthur reports.” Tweet—”Young People refuse to work for slap in the face wages… So old people work for free so that businesses don’t learn that they have to pay living wages… Imagine offering to work for free for an organization who is going out of business because they won’t pay a living wage…”
  • UK food firms beg ministers to let them use prisoners to ease labour shortages. Meat processors and others say they must have more day release workers as they cannot find enough staff.”
  • Tiffany’s Wants You To Think They Inspired a Blue Basquiat Painting“—”Tiffany & Co.’s new marketing campaign, featuring Beyoncé and Jay-Z in front of a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, truly has something for everyone. Fans of the Carters are celebrating the duo’s first appearance together in an ad, while others, perhaps unaware of the advanced stage of capitalism we are in, are horrified that a multibillion-dollar luxury retailer would use the work of a once-fringe artist to sell diamonds. And still, others have been captivated by the painting itself: ‘Equals Pi’ (1982), a canvas covered in Basquiat’s idiosyncratic, seemingly improvisational mix of scribbled texts, motifs, and diagrams, selected by Tiffany for its distinctive robin egg-hued ground reminiscent of the company’s signature ‘Tiffany Blue.'” “The campaign has become mired in controversy, not least because of the company’s claims that it reflects its ‘continued support towards underrepresented communities.'” “Perhaps most contentious, however, has been Tiffany’s own language around ‘Equals Pi’ and its acquisition and marketing of the work on the basis of what may be a chromatic coincidence.” “Amid the Twitter storm, many have rightly noted that Black celebrities, including Beyoncé and Jay-Z, are disproportionately scrutinized for their participation in projects like the Tiffany ad campaign — and that the mass commercialization of Basquiat’s art long preceded this moment.”
  • First full image of ‘new’ Vermeer with uncovered Cupid released by Dresden museum. Drastically altered composition of Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window can now be seen in all its glory ahead of major exhibition.”—”When the discovery was announced to the public in 2019, the senior conservator Uta Neidhardt said that it was ‘the most sensational experience of my career’. She added: ‘It makes it a different painting.’ The layer of overpaint was meticulously removed using a scalpel under a microscope, revealing the startlingly altered composition.” Also Instagram.
  • No Thanks to the Academy. Why isn’t there an English Academy? Blame the plague.”—”The beneficiaries of hundreds of years of (often contentious and politicized) standardization, Anglophones largely agree—in principle, if not in practice—about how to spell the words of the English language. Present-day uniformity notwithstanding, the standardization of English was achieved piecemeal, reflecting no central authority or state-sponsored arbiter of linguistic correctness. While the French, Spanish, and Italian languages are each nominally regulated by a national academy of writers, academics, and civil servants, there is, of course, no English Academy.”
  • Elite Education“—”In an ideal society, I have suggested, there would be no elite colleges, or at least not in their current form. There might well be highly selective institutions devoted to fostering intellectual excellence, just as there might well be highly selective institutions devoted to fostering musical or sporting excellence. But an ideal society would be a just society, and a just society would manifest equal concern for each of its young adults; and although equal concern would not require an exactly equal distribution of resources, departures from equal distribution would have to be justified.” “The political conscience of egalitarians who teach at elite colleges will therefore always be troubled. For among the biggest losers from the democratization of higher education would be people like me who teach at places like Swarthmore and who would be shorn, in the brave new world, of the privilege of closely tending to the intellectual growth of the extraordinarily talented. In the end, then, the tension between the goal of rigorous education and the goal of political progress that besets Swarthmore and similar colleges—the tension that so frequently permeates faculty meetings, however implicitly—is not simply the product of a fudge designed to keep the peace between professors of different persuasions. It is a tension inscribed in the very heart of contemporary academic life and, more generally, in the circumstances of bourgeois life, which enables forms of individual development that are hard to fully endorse yet quite impossible to regret.”
  • The Real College Scandal“—”There’s nothing in your DNA that makes you a philosopher, nor is there some regimen you can run through to transform yourself into one. The closest we have come to devising a system for attuning a person to the intellectual life is to surround her with others aiming at the same thing for as long as the relevant parties can continue to afford it, and hope for the best.” “Universities, especially elite universities, stand as our symbols of the idea of stable intellectual community. For this reason, they also symbolize the problem of the legitimate distribution of intellectual goods—through the course of our lives as well as over a society—and its intractability. Our society has many questions and uncertainties about the just and correct manner of distributing wealth, or health care, or honor, or political power; but these difficulties seem insignificant in comparison to the gaping chasm of total cluelessness we have when it comes to the problem of distributing the very highest goods of all—the intellectual ones.”
  • Why Poet Amanda Gorman Wants to Be President. The 23-year-old believes in the political power of verse, and she’s leaning into her literary talents: ‘I don’t have to change who I am to be a leader.'”
  • National security law: Hong Kong censors told to ban films that breach Beijing-imposed legislation. Under new guidelines, censors must determine whether films support or promote acts of subversion, secession, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces. But some industry figures warn creativity could suffer in industry once known as ‘Hollywood of the Far East’.” Tweet—”Like Hong Kong movies? Buy the blu rays asap. China just passed a law allowing them to retroactively censor Hong Kong films. I’d imagine Stephen Chow’s FROM BEIJING WITH LOVE and anything by Johnnie To and Peng Ho-cheung to come off the market soonish.”
  • Tweet—”I think it is time where God is separating the sheep from the goats….I’m a goat. Because I am not a sheep. I’m not doing what they tell me to do. I’m fighting against it (the vaccine).” Um. Wait. Whuut? I’m not now, nor have I ever been christian, and even I know. But, sure, the metaphor of unvaccinated being goats, separated for sacrifice … is actually kinda darkly on point? Also: Sheep Go To Heaven by Cake—”Sheep go to heaven. Goats go to hell. Sheep go to heaven. Goats go to hell.”
  • “Help! Help! I’m being repressed!” “Monty Python star John Cleese to explore cancel culture in new Channel 4 documentary. John Cleese: Cancel Me will see the comedian ask if it is possible to create comedy without causing offence.” Comments. Also “Taboo: Comedy hasn’t lost its edge yet. Is comedy threatened as people get increasingly sensitive to having their feelings hurt? No offence, but Robin Ince is not convinced.”—”But when you are stepping over the line, are you stepping forwards or backwards? Are you really dressing up reactionary and regressive politics as rebellion? Are you punching down or up?”
  • Why Won’t Anyone Help Me in This Sex Shop?. At 83, and legally blind, I could use some assistance.”
  • Baby on cover of ‘Nevermind’ sues Nirvana alleging child pornography. Spencer Elden, who was photographed nude as an infant and appears on the cover of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album, is suing the band over the image. In the filing, Elden’s lawyer claims the image constitutes child pornography, violating federal laws. Elden is seeking $150,000 in damages from each of the 15 defendants named in the suit.” Tweet—”If the judge doesn’t open the hearing by turning to his counsel and saying ‘here we are now, entertain us’ then what is the point.”
  • FFS, another neologism: polywork. “The Job Juggle: Gen Z and millennial employees embrace the concept of ‘Polywork’.” Also “Polyworking – the new job trend graduates are gunning for. THERE is a growing rejection among millennials and gen Z’s as they attempt to move away from traditional office jobs and into polyworking.” Tweet—”They’ve come up with a new word for desperately working multiple jobs just to be able to afford rent.”
  • Cyberpunk, The Witcher Look Fantastic Tilt-Shifted. Everything looks a lot more relaxing when you zoom out and slow down.”
  • From the Sabbatical dept: “The Dacha Is Russia’s Summer Cure For Urban Life.”—”In the Russian imagination, the dacha occupies a near mythical place. Once the reserve of the landed nobility, the summer house gained popularity with urban professionals in the late 19th century; in the Soviet era the dacha became available to everyone, from writers to factory workers. Nowadays, a dacha can be anything from a two-room shack to an oligarch’s imitation French chateau. Every summer, Russian cities empty out as millions of people escape stuffy, cramped apartments to reconnect with their roots in the countryside.”
  • Crowdfunding effort from April: “Badass Patches for READERS and LIBRARY People. Do you admire biker jackets but prefer reading to the open road? These patches from the Library Comic team are for you.” Also Library Comic Store.
  • Tweet—”We may end up with one Jeopardy! host in Avignon and one Jeopardy! host in Rome.”
  • Tweet—”Sad to hear we’ve lost Bertrand Russell at the age of 148 today. His work on philosophy and activism on nuclear issues was admirable. But it as the drummer of the Rolling Stones (under the stage name “Charlie Watts”) that he will be best remembered.”