Omnium Gatherum: 29aug2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for August 29, 2021

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

  • Bibliomantic Oracles—”Resources to perform analysis of english text, with the purpose of creating oracles for solo gaming” or, you know, whatever. “This program will take text documents written in English, parse them to determine parts of speech, then order the nouns, verbs, and adjectives within it. From there, further analysis may be performed, such as specifying a text and identifying unusual words within that book, which are high in frequency in the book, but low in frequency in the full corpus.”
  • Quick reminder that there’s only 60 hours to go to back T Thorn Coyle’s Bookshop Witch crowdfunding effort: “Bookshop Witch. Paranormal Cozies for Freaks and Geeks.”
  • Moon’s Knight [Amazon] by Lilith Saintcrow—”Drunk and disoriented after her best friend’s funeral, Ginevra Bennet stumbles through a door in an ivy-covered wall…and finds herself in a dry wasteland under a dying crimson sun, the only possible shelter a giant stone castle. If it’s a hallucination, it’s a deadly one; the Keep is full of beauty, luxury, courtly manners–and monsters. The inhabitants rejoice in her arrival, dress her in white, and call her a queen. Greenery returns to their gardens, and the prince of the realm, with his silver-ringed eyes, seems very interested in Gin indeed. It should be the answer to every lonely young woman’s dreams. But nothing in Gin’s life has ever been what it’s seemed. Not her best friend, not her upbringing, and most especially not her nightmares. Drowning, violent death, a stone roof, and the hallucinatory prince have filled her nights, and Gin hopes she’s going mad–because the alternative is just too scary to contemplate. Caught in a web of manners, intrigue, and betrayal, Gin has to depend on her sorely tested wits and uncertain sanity. There are Gates at the edge of the wasteland, and if she can escape the castle and its beautiful, terrifying inhabitants, she might just find a few answers and be able to get home. Assuming, of course, home is where she really wants to be…”
  • Watch “Siberian wildfires now bigger than all other fires in world combined“—”ABC News’ Patrick Reevell reports from Siberia on the unprecedented spread of wildfires as officials attempt to battle the flames in a region that is typically one of the coldest places on Earth.”
  • Watch “Giant iceberg almost size of London circling Antarctic coast“—”The British Antarctic Survey says it doesn’t know when scientists can return to one of its research stations. This is due to the danger posed by a giant iceberg, that is almost the size of Greater London. Experts are tracking the mass from space as it circles the Antarctic coastline. British Antarctic Survey scientists don’t believe that this particular event is connected to climate change.”
  • More And More Humans Are Growing an Extra Artery, Showing We’re Still Evolving“—”An artery that temporarily runs down the center of our forearms while we’re still in the womb isn’t vanishing as often as it used to, according to researchers from Flinders University and the University of Adelaide in Australia.” From 2020: “Forearm artery reveals human evolution continues
  • Frosty: A Micro-fabricated Optical Seismometer to Measure Minute Forces in a Mighty Environment“—”A NASA-sponsored team at Michigan Aerospace Corporation and Southern Methodist University (SMU) is developing a microfabricated all-optical seismometer called Frosty that can gather data in the harsh environments encountered on icy works such as Europa.”
  • Scientists discover first ancient human DNA remarkably preserved from tropical Asia region“—”A group of scientists have uncovered a new chapter of the “human story” in Southeast Asia thanks to a partially preserved skeleton dating back approximately 7,200 years.” “Scientists found and excavated the partially-preserved skeleton in 2015 from a limestone cave on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. They were able to extract DNA from the petrous bone, a thick inner ear bone, and analysis revealed that the skeleton belonged to a female who was around 17-18 years old. According to the study, recovering intact human remains from this region is uncommon because the tropical temperatures usually cause them to break down, making delicate structures like DNA unsalvageable.”
  • Mercury Is No Longer The Closest Astronomical Body To The Sun: Scientists Just Discovered Our Star’s New Nearest Neighbor.”—”So what does the future hold for 2021 PH27 ? It’s unclear, but astronomers suspect that it will likely be destroyed in a collision with either Mercury, Venus or the Sun—but possibly not for millions of years.”
  • Fossil confiscated in police raid is one of the most complete pterosaur skeletons ever found“—”A discovery made during a police raid has been identified as the most complete fossil of a flying reptile from Brazil. The remains revealed new information about tapejarids, or pterosaurs that soared across the skies during the Early Cretaceous period between 100.5 million and 145 million years ago.”
  • Hubble captures gorgeous image of ‘Einstein ring’ from warped quasar light. Einstein predicted the existence of these rings back in 1915.”
  • A college student’s near fatal collapse uncovered a frightening family legacy. The unknown cause explained a tragic death that had occurred decades earlier.”
  • Confirmed! a Tiny Nearby Exoplanet With Only 40% of Earth’s Mass“—”planetary system just 35 light years from Earth hosts four and possibly five planets. This includes one (if it exists) that’s squarely in its star’s habitable zone, and another that’s the lightest-weight planet ever found using the radial velocity method: It has only 40% of Earth’s mass. That’s pretty cool.”
  • Mathematicians Solve Decades-Old Classification Problem. A pair of researchers has shown that trying to classify groups of numbers called ‘torsion-free abelian groups’ is as hard as it can possibly be.”—”For decades, one classification problem — involving a particular set of infinitely large objects called torsion-free abelian groups (or TFABs) — stymied researchers. This problem was first raised in 1989 by the mathematicians Harvey Friedman and Lee Stanley in a paper that, according to Paolini, ‘introduced a new way of comparing the difficulties of classification problems for countable structures, indicating that some things are more complicated than others.'”
  • Climate change fueling warm ocean ‘blob’ causing Chile megadrought.”—”‘We need to be cognizant of the changes that are happening in global climate thousands of miles away,’ Amaya said. ‘It’s all connected.'”
  • Confirming the pedigree of uranium cubes from Nazi Germany’s failed nuclear program.”—”During World War II, Nazi Germany and the U.S. were racing to develop nuclear technology. Before Germany could succeed, Allied forces disrupted the program and confiscated some of the cubes of uranium at the heart of it. The ultimate fate of most of that uranium is unknown, but a few cubes thought to be associated with the program are in the U.S. and Europe. Today, scientists report initial results from new methods being developed to confirm their provenance. The techniques might also help with investigations into illicit trafficking of nuclear material.”
  • World-first detector built by dark matter researchers reports rare events“—”A ground-breaking detector that aims to use quartz to capture high frequency gravitational waves has been built by researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics (CDM) and the University of Western Australia. In its first 153 days of operation, two events were detected that could, in principle, be high frequency gravitational waves, which have not been recorded by scientists before. Such high frequency gravitational waves may have been created by a primordial black hole or a cloud of dark matter particles. ”
  • In a first, scientists capture a ‘quantum tug’ between neighboring water molecules. The work sheds light on the web of hydrogen bonds that gives water its strange properties, which play a vital role in many chemical and biological processes.”
  • Robot mimics the powerful punch of the mantis shrimp. Research answers long-standing biological questions, paves the way for small but mighty robots.”
  • I mean … “Female octopuses throw things at males that are harassing them“—”An analysis of footage of octopuses off the coast of Australia “throwing” shells and silt suggests that they intentionally target – and often hit – other octopuses. In most cases, it is females that do the throwing, often at males that are harassing them.” “In 2016, for instance, one female octopus threw silt 10 times at a male from a nearby den who was attempting to mate with her. She hit him on five occasions. ‘That sequence was one of the ones that convinced me [it was intentional],’ says Godfrey-Smith. On four of these occasions, the male tried to “duck”, though he didn’t always succeed. In two cases, he anticipated the throws from the female’s movements and started dodging before the silt was propelled at him. When targeting others, the octopuses were more likely to throw silt than shells and the throws were also more vigorous.” “On two occasions, an octopus hit a fish, though one of these collisions appeared to have been accidental. The animals also seemed to target the camera on occasion, hitting the tripod twice. While the throwing appears to be used as a form of attack, the team hasn’t seen any targeted octopus respond by attacking or throwing things back. What’s more, some throws that happen after intense social interactions aren’t directed at another octopus but into empty space, suggesting the animals might be venting their frustration. In one case, after a male’s advances to a female were rejected, he threw a shell in a random direction and changed colour.”
  • From the Hanging Gardens of Babylon dept: “Jian Mu Tower“—”International design and innovation office CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati has released the design for an office tower in China, whose façade features a vertical hydroponic farm extending the entire height of the building.” “The 218-meter high tower dedicates 10,000 square meters of space on its façade to the cultivation of crops. The vertical hydroponic farm will produce an estimated 270,000 kilograms of food per year, enough to cover the needs of roughly 40,000 people. Jian Mu Tower establishes a self-sustained food supply chain, encompassing the cultivation, harvest, sale and consumption of crops, all inside the same building. In addition, the tower will house offices, a supermarket, and a food court.”
  • China’s fast-fashion spy machine: How shadowy teen brand Shein uses algorithms to harvest data on its users and find out what they want to buy – before its mega-factory spits the clothes out at rock-bottom prices. Fears mounting at senior Government level about Shein’s surveillance tactics. Industry insiders say company is spying on unsuspecting customers by using social media sites and apps collecting vast amounts of customer data. MP Tom Tugendhat has accused the brand of ‘surveillance capitalism’”
  • People are hiring out their faces to become deepfake-style marketing clones. AI-powered characters based on real people can star in thousands of videos and say anything, in any language.”—”Like many students, Liri has had several part-time jobs. A 23-year-old in Israel, she does waitressing and bartending gigs in Tel Aviv, where she goes to university. She also sells cars, works in retail, and conducts job interviews and onboarding sessions for new employees as a corporate HR rep. In Germany. Liri can juggle so many jobs, in multiple countries, because she has hired out her face to Hour One, a startup that uses people’s likenesses to create AI-voiced characters that then appear in marketing and educational videos for organizations around the world.”
  • Tweet thread—”NASA “reluctantly agrees” to extend the stay on SpaceX’s HLS contract by a week bc the 7GB+ of case-related docs in the Blue Origin suit keeps causing DOJ’s Adobe software to crash and key NASA staff were busy at Space Symposium this week, causing delays to a filing deadline. lol” How’s that privatizing of space going for you now?
  • TikTok, Reddit, and Facebook are struggling with ivermectin misinformation. Like other false cures, the drug is highlighting the misinformation problem on social media.”
  • Anti-vaxx lawyer for dozens of Capitol rioters is now on a ‘ventilator’ with COVID-19: report.”
  • Texas Anti-Mask ‘Freedom Rally’ Organizer Fighting For His Life With COVID-19. His pregnant wife said this week that the hospital was ‘out of options’ for her husband.”
  • Veteran dies of treatable illness as COVID fills hospital beds, leaving doctors ‘playing musical chairs’“—”‘He loved his country,’ his mother, Michelle Puget, told ‘CBS This Morning’ lead national correspondent David Begnaud. ‘He served two deployments in Afghanistan, came home with a Purple Heart, and it was a gallstone that took him out.'”
  • Watch “The First Great Plague: A Neolithic Apocalypse?“—”What caused the Neolithic Decline in Europe? Was it the first great plague in history? And if so, did it cause a Neolithic apocalypse?”
  • Tweet—”JUST IN: Judge Cooper sides with parents, students and public health OVERTURNING @GovRonDeSantis’s ban on school mask mandates!Clapping hands sign. PLOT TWIST: Judge cites GOP’s own ‘Parental Bill of Rights’ allowing school districts to make ‘reasonable’ exceptions to protect health & safety.”
  • Anatomy of an Officer-Involved Explosion: a Post-Mortem on LAPD’s E. 27th Street Fireworks Blast. A year ago, a councilmember co-authored a motion to shift $150mil from LAPD’s budget. A month ago, LAPD called everyone but his office to watch them detonate fireworks in his district. The botched operation rocked the city.”
  • Capitol Police Officers Sue Trump and Allies Over Election Lies and Jan. 6. The suit, which took a broad view of the riot’s origins, was the latest effort to hold former President Donald J. Trump accountable for the Capitol attack.”
  • Judge Refers ‘Kraken’ Lawyers For Potential ‘Disbarment’ In Scathing Opinion Over Big Lie.”
  • Niall Ferguson on why the end of America’s empire won’t be peaceful. As it leaves Afghanistan in chaos, America’s decline mirrors Britain’s a century ago. It may also invite wider conflict, warns a historian.”
  • Tweet—”The Home Office admitted that callers to its emergency Afghan aid hotline had been redirected to a washing machine repair company.”
  • Afghan all-girl robotics team members, journalists land in Mexico.”
  • Bernie Sanders’s Third Campaign. As chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders’s big-government message has found its moment.” Tweet—”Expanded Medicare to cover vision, hearing, dental. Paid family and medical leave. Free community college. Climate Corps to create good jobs and save the planet. This transformational budget plan is a major downpayment on America’s future.”
  • Evolution Deniers Are Finally a Minority in the U.S.. A recent study found that acceptance of evolution among Americans has increased, even among religious fundamentalists.”
  • Remote Work May Now Last for Two Years, Worrying Some Bosses. The longer that Covid-19 keeps people home, the harder it may be to get them back to offices; ‘There is no going back'”
  • Some Americans No Longer Believe in the Common Good. They now are thinking only of themselves.”—”Most of the blame should go to politicians who care more about stirring up fear to defeat their opponents than they do about people’s lives or the economy. And I blame anyone who intentionally spreads misinformation to further their own agenda.”
  • Watch “I Changed Astronomy Forever. He Won the Nobel Prize for It.”—”Growing up in a Quaker household, Jocelyn Bell Burnell was raised to believe that she had as much right to an education as anyone else. But as a girl in the 1940s in Northern Ireland, her enthusiasm for the sciences was met with hostility from teachers and male students. Undeterred, she went on to study radio astronomy at Glasgow University, where she was the only woman in many of her classes. In 1967, Burnell made a discovery that altered our perception of the universe. As a Ph.D. student at Cambridge University assisting the astronomer Anthony Hewish, she discovered pulsars — compact, spinning celestial objects that give off beams of radiation, like cosmic lighthouses. (A visualization of some early pulsar data is immortalized as the album art for Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures.’) But as Ben Proudfoot’s ‘The Silent Pulse of the Universe’ shows, the world wasn’t yet ready to accept that a breakthrough in astrophysics could have come from a young woman.”
  • Al Capone’s Possessions, Now for Sale, Show Two Sides of the Gangster. His granddaughters said they hoped an auction of his belongings would show that Capone was more than a ruthless mob boss. He was also a family man.”
  • The death of the job. What if paid work were no longer the centerpiece of American life?”—”Since about the 1940s, Americans have been encouraged to look to their jobs for nearly all of life’s necessities: a living wage, health insurance, and retirement benefits, as well as intangibles like friendship, identity, and a sense of purpose. But these benefits were never universal, and they became less and less common as the years went by.”
  • The end of fandom may be here“—”Louis C.K. recently kicked off a new standup tour with a sold-out pair of shows in New York. Against the backdrop of a giant “Sorry” sign, he delivered a set that — according to a reporter who was there — included gags about pedophilia, his penis, ‘gay jokes, Jew jokes, cancer jokes, a heavy helping of transgender jokes, and a sprinkling of additional race jokes.’ After reading about this, I’m the one who’s sorry. I’m sorry for spending so much time with his comedy in years past, for ignoring the media whispers about his behavior long before it was made public, for evangelizing to friends about how great he was. C.K.’s appalling turn into the king of the d-bags is enough to make me throw my hands up and say: Is it possible to be a fan of anyone or anything anymore?” “Perhaps fandom — defined as the attachment to the artist as creator — should no longer be the point.”
  • If it’s not made of people, what is even the point? “Are you ready to eat your delicious nutrient square? Yum, yum, yum 63 SquarEat asks a simple question: what if food were squares?”—”Slap bang in the middle of a Venn diagram with two circles labelled ‘sincere tech startups’ and ‘dystopian satires that are a little on the nose’ you will find SquarEat: a company that you would swear is a joke if you weren’t already familiar with how the simulation we’re all living in likes to collide fact and fiction. SquarEat was apparently born of a simple idea: what if you could eat squares? But boy oh boy does it deliver on that premise.”
  • Catholic church ‘on edge’ as Grindr data threatens to out Vatican officials. A Catholic news site has claimed that there are ‘at least 16’ Grindr users within the Vatican, sparking fears that high-ranking gay priests could soon be outed.”
  • Browse over one million newly digitized images from Yale’s Beinecke Library“—”Exciting news for the research-inclined: Yale University has launched a new digital collections platform, where users can view all digitized collections material from Yale’s Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library. Over time, other Yale Library digital collections will be moved there, but for now, the public can still browse over one million images. The interface allows users to search documents by subject, format, genre, resource type, language, creator, geography, and date; users can also browse highlights of the collections. If you don’t know where to start, how about the Langston Hughes Papers? Or the manuscript of Dante Alighieri’s Divina Commedia? Or the Gutenberg Bible? Or George Gershwin’s original Porgy and Bess score? Or “Anthony Comstock shuddering at the sight of an unshelled peanut”? Or James Baldwin’s poems, typed and corrected? Or, if you want to be meta about it, photos of Beinecke Library’s own construction?”
  • “A Decentralized Fantasy World. Nine Chronicles is a fully decentralized RPG powered by the players. Play, mine, govern together: this world is yours to keep.” “Utilizing groundbreaking technology, Nine Chronicles is a blockchain MMORPG powered by the players, set in a world that can never be shut down. Governed by the community, and supported by a complex economy where supply and demand are the greatest currency, Nine Chronicles invites you to aid the goddess Freya in her eternal struggle against an evil ravaging the land.”
  • Pumpers, Dumpers, and Shills: The Skycoin Saga. The cryptocurrency promised to change the world and make its users rich in the process. Then it began to fall apart.”
  • Watch “The Game. The Story of Hurling- Episode 1“—”To celebrate #HeritageWeek, we are delighted to be able to share the popular TV series ‘The Game’ with you. Over four episodes, The Game celebrates the skill (and art) of Hurling. Available for a limited time only.” Also, watch “Limerick are All-Ireland Hurling Champions.”
  • Watch “All you need to know about booleying“—”Eugene Costello tells us about the Irish tradition where rural folks would move with their animals to the hills for the summer.”
  • Watch “Popular Medieval Memes Explained“—”The hilarious explanations behind some of the popular medieval art memes you may have seen online without context.”
  • Watch “Everything Stops for Tea – Look at Life (1962)“—”A short featurette from 1962 on the British obsession with Tea.”
  • Like the Mandalorian’s volume using a game engine, but only using chroma key replacement not actual projection. “The secrets of the BBC’s Tokyo 2020 studio.”
  • Watch “Explaining White Privilege with D&D“—”A rough video explaining white privilege in terms of advantage and disadvantage from D&D.”
  • Tumblr—”How the fuck can there be anti vaccine “witches?” If you disagree with binding an invisible malignant entity into a single drop of potion that seals a subject’s blood against the full force of that very same entity’s curse then you are not and can never be a witch you’re just a karen who buys rocks”
  • I mean, finally some good news: Tweet—”Tucker Carlson: Being trans is like ‘saying you’re God, and that is satanic'”
  • Narrator voice: No. No they aren’t. “Marvel Disney Introducing Pedophile Group Into the MCU.” Someone’s been sipping on the crazy sauce. “Interestingly enough, Professor X and Namor art happen to resemble either Satanists Aleister Crowley and/or Anton Lavey, which some fans think was made to look like writer Brian Michael Bendis.” The rest is pure stupid.
  • Can’t it be both? “Attack of the giant rodents or class war? Argentina’s rich riled by new neighbors. Hordes of capybaras have taken up residence at a gated community, sparking a debate on the environment and inequality.”—”Nordelta is Argentina’s most well-known gated community: an enclave of spacious homes for the rich amid a dreamy landscape of lakes and streams north of Buenos Aires. But environmentalists question its very existence because it is built on the wetlands of the Paraná, the second most important river in South America after the Amazon. Now, however, nature is fighting back against Nordelta’s well-heeled residents.”
  • The Nevers on HBO starts out as just a kind of Victorian X-men, but by the time it gets to the mid-season finale the twist is wild. I won’t spoil it, except to say the Claudia Black makes an appearance in episode 6 and it is fantastic, both what she brings to it, and what it means for the show. “August, 1896. Victorian London is rocked to its foundations by a supernatural event which gives certain people — mostly women — abnormal abilities, from the wondrous to the disturbing. But no matter their particular ‘turns,’ all who belong to this new underclass are in grave danger. It falls to mysterious, quick-fisted widow Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) and brilliant young inventor Penance Adair (Ann Skelly) to protect and shelter these gifted ‘orphans.’ To do so, they will have to face the brutal forces determined to annihilate their kind. Part One of the first season of The Nevers is executive produced by Joss Whedon, Bernadette Caulfield, Ilene S. Landress, Doug Petrie, Jane Espenson and Philippa Goslett. Daniel S. Kaminsky co-executive produces. Part Two’s six episodes will premiere at a later date. Check back for more updates as they are revealed.” With Joss Whedon’s exit, due to reasons you may know about, I’m personally hoping that Jane Espenson is promoted to show-runner. I bet she’ll knock it out of the park. Also, after you’ve seen it, or if you don’t care about spoilers, read this: “Claudia Black on Her Surprise ‘The Nevers’ Role, the Joss Whedon Situation, and Breaking the Cycles of Trauma. ‘By starting to have these discussions, we are now starting to weave a culture that makes space for the radical changes that are necessary.'”