Omnium Gatherum: 12sept2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for September 12, 2021

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

  • Grievers [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by adrienne maree brown—”A tale of what happens when we can no longer ignore what has been lost in this world. Grievers is the story of a city so plagued by grief that it can no longer function. Dune’s mother is patient zero of a mysterious illness that stops people in their tracks—in mid-sentence, mid-action, mid-life—casting them into a nonresponsive state from which no one recovers. Dune must navigate poverty and the loss of her mother as Detroit’s hospitals, morgues, and graveyards begin to overflow. As the quarantined city slowly empties of life, she investigates what caused the plague, and what might end it, following in the footsteps of her late researcher father, who has a physical model of Detroit’s history and losses set up in their basement. She dusts it off and begins tracking the sick and dying, discovering patterns, finding comrades in curiosity, conspiracies for the fertile ground of the city, and the unexpected magic that emerges when the debt of grief is cleared.” Via email—”Grievers is the first release in the new Black Dawn series from AK Press!”
  • Thomas Heuvelt, made 13 notes and 13 highlights visible for Hex on Goodread. Hex [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Thomas Olde Heuvelt—”Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay ’til death. Whoever settles, never leaves. Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children’s bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened or the consequences will be too terrible to bear. The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting. But, in so doing, they send the town spiraling into dark, medieval practices of the distant past. This chilling novel heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice in mainstream horror and dark fantasy.”
  • Echo [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, due February 2022—”After a terrible accident high in the Alps, travel journalist Nick Grevers wakes from a coma to find that his climbing buddy, Augustin, is missing and presumed dead. But Nick claims to not remember anything—even whatever horrible event that led to his maimed face and the plastic surgery that leaves him still in bandages and feeling like a B-movie monster.Sam, Nick’s long-suffering boyfriend, wants to be glad that Nick is alive and coming home. But the accident has stirred up terrible memories—and it’s beginning to seem that Sam isn’t just being haunted by his own mistakes or Nick’s own trauma. Because it turns out that—though Nick was the only body airlifted off that mysterious peak—he didn’t come home alone, after all. And now, their uninvited guest is awake.”
  • As if being a brain in a jar weren’t horror enough: “Scientists grow miniature brains that mimic the major pathological features of Parkinson’s disease. Recreating major pathological features of Parkinson’s disease in a lab-grown, human mini-brain will help researchers to explore new treatments. This is the first time that Lewy bodies, a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease in patients’ brains, have been produced in the laboratory, offering new insights into the disease.”
  • Oh my gods. Not murder butterflies too! “Milkweed butterflies tear open caterpillars and drink them alive.”
  • Moth wingtips an ‘acoustic decoy’ to thwart bat attack, scientists find. Wingtips of certain species of silkmoth are structured to reflect sound and throw off attackers, according to a new study.”
  • Wild cockatoos make their own cutlery sets. Discovery puts parrots on par with primates in terms of toolmaking.”—”Goffin’s cockatoos (Cacatua goffiniana) are so smart they’ve been compared to 3-year-old humans. But what 3-year-old has made their own cutlery set? Scientists have observed wild cockatoos, members of the parrot family, crafting the equivalent of a crowbar, an ice pick, and a spoon to pry open one of their favorite fruits. This is the first time any bird species has been seen creating and using a set of tools in a specific order—a cognitively challenging behavior previously known only in humans, chimpanzees, and capuchin monkeys. The work ‘supports the idea that parrots have a general [type of] intelligence that allows them to innovate creative solutions to the problems they run into in nature,’ says Alex Taylor, a biologist who studies New Caledonian crows at the University of Auckland. ‘[It] establishes this species as one of the avian family’s most proficient wild tool users.'”
  • How did artifacts, thousands of years old, turn up in a Mississippi alligator’s stomach? ‘We joked about it and said I’m probably the only person on Earth to pull an arrowhead out of an alligator’s stomach.'”
  • More on this: “Suzanne Simard. Forests Are Wired For Wisdom” a podcast episode. “Suzanne Simard is the forest ecologist who has proven, beyond doubt, that trees communicate with each other — that a forest is a single organism wired for wisdom and care. Simard found that the processes that make for a high-functioning forest mirror the maps of the human brain that we’re also just now drawing. All of this turns out to be catching up with intelligence long held in aboriginal science. She calls the mature hub trees in a forest ‘Mother Trees’ — parenting, eldering, in a mode of mutuality and reciprocity, modeling what we also know to be true of genuinely flourishing human ecosystems.” Also check out Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Suzanne Simard—”From the world’s leading forest ecologist who forever changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest—a moving, deeply personal journey of discovery. Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; she’s been compared to Rachel Carson, hailed as a scientist who conveys complex, technical ideas in a way that is dazzling and profound. Her work has influenced filmmakers (the Tree of Souls of James Cameron’s Avatar) and her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide. Now, in her first book, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths–that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complicated, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own. Simard writes–in inspiring, illuminating, and accessible ways—how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they perceive one another, learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, and remember the past; how they have agency about the future; elicit warnings and mount defenses, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication, characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies–and at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them. Simard writes of her own life, born and raised into a logging world in the rainforests of British Columbia, of her days as a child spent cataloging the trees from the forest and how she came to love and respect them—embarking on a journey of discovery, and struggle. And as she writes of her scientific quest, she writes of her own journey–of love and loss, of observation and change, of risk and reward, making us understand how deeply human scientific inquiry exists beyond data and technology, that it is about understanding who we are and our place in the world, and, in writing of her own life, we come to see the true connectedness of the Mother Tree that nurtures the forest in the profound ways that families and human societies do, and how these inseparable bonds enable all our survival.”
  • The World’s Oldest Known Forest Was Not Like We Imagined, New Study Shows“—”The fossilized web of a 385-million-year-old root network has scientists reimagining what the world’s first forests might once have looked like. The picture they have painted couldn’t be more different to what now sits in its place. Near the small town of Cairo in upstate New York, under an old highway department quarry, scientists have reconstructed the remains of what was a mighty and mature old-growth forest – home to at least three of the world’s earliest tree-like plants. Some of these initial tree ‘wannabes’ (known as cladoxylopsids) would have looked like large stalks of celery, shooting 10 meters (32 feet) into the sky. Others resembled pine trees, but with hairy, fern-like fronds for leaves (Archaeopteris). The third long-lost plant would have taken after the palm tree, with a bulbous base and canopy of fern-like branches (Eospermatopteris).”
  • NASA’s Perseverance Rover Collects Puzzle Pieces of Mars’ History.”—”NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover successfully collected its first pair of rock samples, and scientists already are gaining new insights into the region. After collecting its first sample, named ‘Montdenier,’ Sept. 6, the team collected a second, ‘Montagnac,’ from the same rock Sept. 8. Analysis of the rocks from which the Montdenier and Montagnac samples were taken and from the rover’s previous sampling attempt may help the science team piece together the timeline of the area’s past, which was marked by volcanic activity and periods of persistent water. ‘It looks like our first rocks reveal a potentially habitable sustained environment,”’said Ken Farley of Caltech, project scientist for the mission, which is led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California. ‘It’s a big deal that the water was there a long time.'”
  • Office air quality may affect employees’ cognition, productivity“—”The study also confirmed how low ventilation rates negatively impact cognitive function. Overall, the study suggests that poor indoor air quality affects health and productivity significantly more than we previously understood.”
  • Scientists Create Artificial Cells That Mimic Living Cells’ Ability to Capture, Process, and Expel Material. Synthetic Microscopic Structures Imitate Vital Function of Biological Cells.”—”Researchers have developed artificial cell-like structures using inorganic matter that autonomously ingest, process, and push out material—recreating an essential function of living cells. Their article, published in Nature, provides a blueprint for creating ‘cell mimics,’ with potential applications ranging from drug delivery to environmental science.”
  • Auto-kintsugi! “Under Loading Ceramics Self-Heal Cracks By Forming Kink-Bands. In a new study, Texas A&M researchers have discovered that a class of ceramics called MAX phases can self-heal cracks even at room temperature.”—”Ceramics are resilient to heat and extreme environments, but they are fragile and crack easily. Recently, in a study published in Science Advances, researchers at Texas A&M University have discovered a self-healing mechanism within a type of ceramics, called MAX phases. They have shown that these engineered ceramics form natural faults or kink-bands during loading that can not only effectively stop cracks from growing, but can also close and heal them, thereby preventing catastrophic failure.” Time yet to build a Firefly spaceship engine? Or, you know, maybe super high efficiency ceramic gas turbine engines that don’t shatter at speed bumps and potholes?
  • Next gen 3D printed catalysts to propel hypersonic flight. Ultra-efficient 3D printed catalysts could help solve the challenge of overheating in hypersonic aircraft and offer a revolutionary solution to thermal management across countless industries.”
  • Zero Emission Services commences operation. First emission-free inland shipping vessel on energy containers in service.”
  • “Flexible solar cells gain power. 21.4% record efficiency for flexible solar cells. A new efficiency record of 21.4% for flexible CIGS solar cell on polymer film has been achieved by scientists at Empa. Solar cells of this type are especially suited for applications on roofs, transport vehicles or mobile devices.”
  • MIT-designed project achieves major advance toward fusion energy. New superconducting magnet breaks magnetic field strength records, paving the way for practical, commercial, carbon-free power.”
  • Climeworks begins operations of Orca, the world’s largest direct air capture and CO₂ storage plant“—”Unprecedented extreme weather events have dominated the news headlines since early this year. The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cautions that the world will see more of this in years to come. The report further confirms that it is crucial to reduce our emissions drastically and remove unavoidable and historic carbon dioxide emissions from the air permanently. One month after the report was published, Climeworks launches Orca, the world’s largest direct air capture and storage plant that permanently removes CO₂ from the air.”
  • Extremely Long and Incredibly Cold. While researching the wave properties of atoms, one of the “coldest places in the universe” is created for a few seconds at the Center for Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) at the University of Bremen. The temperature record near absolute zero cannot be measured with a thermometer, however, but results from the extremely slowed motion of the observed atoms in an ultracold gas – a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEK). With the help of a newly developed matter-wave lens system, the motion could be reduced in an unprecedented way and this could be demonstrated by observing the BEK over up to two seconds in free fall in the Bremen drop tower.” Also “Quantum gas free-falls its way to a low-temperature record. A cloud of rubidium atoms is said to have achieved the coldest temperature yet after being dropped from the top of a tower.”
  • Something Mysterious Near The Galactic Center Is Flashing Radio Signals“—”As our eyes on the sky grow ever more sensitive, we’re going to find more and more things we’ve never seen before. Such is the case for a newly discovered source of radio signals, located not far from the center of the galaxy. It’s called ASKAP J173608.2-321635, and astronomers have been unable to figure out what kind of cosmic object best fits its weird properties.”
  • Drug Cocktail Reduces Aging-Associated Disc Degeneration“—”Chronic back pain affects upwards of 15 million adults in the US, racking up billions in healthcare costs and lost work days. Degeneration of the discs that cushion and support vertebrae, a common occurrence of aging, is a major contributor to low back pain. Although a widespread condition, few treatments are available. Now Jefferson’s Makarand Risbud, PhD, James J. Maguire Jr. Professor of Spine Research in orthopedic surgery, division director of orthopedic research and co-director of the cell biology and regenerative medicine graduate program, and colleagues have shown that treating mice with a drug cocktail that removes aging cells reduces disc degeneration. The findings, reported in Nature Communications on September 3rd, show how a novel approach to preventing age-related disc degeneration may pave the way for treating chronic back pain.”
  • Smart dental implants. Geelsu Hwang of the School of Dental Medicine and colleagues are developing a smart dental implant that resists bacterial growth and generates its own electricity through chewing and brushing to power a tissue-rejuvenating light.”—”Zero Emission Services (ZES) commences today with the Alphenaar, the first Dutch inland vessel to use interchangeable energy containers for propulsion. The Alphenaar sails between Alphen aan den Rijn and Moerdijk transporting beer for HEINEKEN, ZES’s first end customer.”
  • Arguably better looking than Snap Spectacles, but with less features and more surveillance: “Ray-Ban Stories. The New Way to Capture, Share & Listen. In partnership with Facebook, discover our first generation of smart sunglasses and eyeglasses that keeps you connected. So you can keep your eyes on the world around you.”
  • I mean, because, of course they did. Inception! “Facebook reportedly provided inaccurate data to misinformation researchers. The data was incomplete, potentially damaging the researchers’ work.”
  • Apple mostly wins in Epic Games Fortnite trial, but must ease payment rules. Apple defended its tight control over the iPhone and its App Store in one of the biggest legal fights of the digital age.” I mean, the fight over app store and platform control of phones and pads reminds me of how telcos escaped restrictions on bundling by moving everyone from phone lines to DSL and so on. And therein is probably the only and sufficient reason why full macOS ever won’t be offered on an iPad (or iPhones), even if it is essentially already possible, and those could be fully desktop machines in a pocket.
  • California passes landmark bill targeting Amazon’s algorithm-driven rules. The legislation would require warehouses to disclose to government agencies the quotas used to track workers.”
  • The Way Amazon Uses Tech to Squeeze Performance Out of Workers Deserves Its Own Name: Bezosism. The e-commerce giant has supercharged systems of management invented a century ago with surveillance, algorithms and data, leading to a new ‘ism’.”
  • 12 Ways Therapists Are Personally Coping With COVID Anxiety (Again). Mental health pros are stressed out about the delta variant and rising cases, too. Here’s how they deal.”—”I remind myself this isn’t my first COVID rodeo. … I practice gratitude. … I let myself process all my emotions about COVID: the good, the bad and the ugly. … I limit the amount of COVID news I consume. … I ground myself in nature. … With so much out of my control, I’m focusing on what I can control. … I try to meditate every day. … I try not to overextend myself. … I’m practicing radical acceptance. … I lean into my hobbies. … I seek harmony. … I remind myself I’m doing all I can to stay safe. …”
  • Study examines severe breakthrough cases of COVID-19“—”While researchers in the new study observed a wide range of illness severity among the fully vaccinated patients who were hospitalized and tested positive for COVID-19, more than a quarter of this group were found to have severe or critical disease. All patients with severe or critical cases — 14 in total — required supplementary oxygen support, four were admitted to the intensive care unit, and three died. These patients tended to be older — between 65 and 95 years old with a median age of 80.5 — and had preexisting comorbidities, such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. A subset of patients was also on immunosuppressive drugs that may affect vaccine efficacy.”
  • NXIVM Co-Founder Sentenced To 3 1/2 Years In Sex Slaves Case. Nancy Salzman must report to prison by Jan. 19 and also pay a $150,000 fine, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said.”
  • Arizona’s Election ‘Audit’ Isn’t Done, But Two Trump-Supporting Republicans Are Just Declaring Victory For Him Anyway. There’s no end to the Arizona audit in sight. But with other Trump backers looking to take up audits of their own, some are ready to just call it a win.”
  • Blowback. The Forever Wars Are Coming Home.”—”War, especially interminable war, does this to a nation. It makes people want to claim the sanctity of combat for themselves and to inject the stakes of conflict into their lives.”
  • Declassifying the 9/11 Investigation. President Biden says he will open up the government’s secret files about the plot, but will they answer the questions that remain?”
  • 9/11 was a test. The books of the last two decades show how America failed.“—”Deep within the catalogue of regrets that is the 9/11 Commission report — long after readers learn of the origins and objectives of al-Qaeda, past the warnings ignored by consecutive administrations, through the litany of institutional failures that allowed terrorists to hijack four commercial airliners — the authors pause to make a rousing case for the power of the nation’s character. ‘The U.S. government must define what the message is, what it stands for,’ the report asserts. ‘We should offer an example of moral leadership in the world, committed to treat people humanely, abide by the rule of law, and be generous and caring to our neighbors. . . . We need to defend our ideals abroad vigorously. America does stand up for its values.’ This affirmation of American idealism is one of the document’s more opinionated moments. Looking back, it’s also among the most ignored.”
  • Is the Imperial Game Up?“—”Twenty years ago, the United States sustained the first substantial attacks on the mainland since the War of 1812. It was a collective shock to all Americans who believed their country to be impregnable. The Cold War had produced the existential dread of a nuclear attack, but that always lurked in the realm of the maybe. On a day-to-day basis, Americans enjoyed the exceptional privilege of national security. No one would dare attack us for fear of massive retaliation. Little did we imagine that someone would attack us in order to precipitate massive retaliation.” “The commentary on this twentieth anniversary of 9/11 has been predictably shallow: how the attacks changed travel, fiction, the arts in general. Consider this week’s Washington Post magazine section in which 28 contributors reflect on the ways that the attacks changed the world.” “The subsequent entries on art, fashion, architecture, policing, journalism, and so on attempt to describe these subtler effects. Yet it’s difficult to read this special issue without concluding that 9/11 in fact didn’t change the world much at all.”
  • How the 9/11 attacks helped shape the modern misinformation, conspiracy theory industry. The sudden terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, seemed to defy explanation and occurred just as the internet started to boom. That combination spawned various conspiracy theories and made them accessible in new ways. The attacks also fueled distrust in government and fears of real and perceived enemies. Experts said the feeling of lost trust and security likely made some Americans more susceptible to conspiracy theories about 9/11 and other topics. One key accelerator of the 9/11 truth movement was an amateur documentary released online in 2005, which created a template for future videos, such as ‘Plandemic.'”
  • The 9/11 Museum Has A Problematic Legacy. Can It Be Saved? The museum’s handling of the Sept. 11 attacks has long received criticisms, which have become more glaring as the 20th anniversary approaches, scholars say.”
  • The Forgotten Black Heroes of 9/11: More Evidence of Discriminatory Denial“—”These Black heroes of 9/11 valiantly battled terrorism. But the sacrifices of these Black heroes will receive no recognition during the commemorations around America for the 20th Anniversary of what is considered the most tragic terrorist attack ever conducted on America soil. These heroes, William Parker and his colleagues, confronted terrorists on 9/11 in defense of freedom and liberty – professed pillars of democracy in America. Although badly outnumbered, these Black heroes successfully battled the armed terrorists whose onslaught included threats to employ a weapon of massive destruction. While the anti-terrorism actions of Parker and his band of Black heroes did occur on 9/11 those actions did not occur on ‘that’ 9/11. The so-called ‘Christiana Riot’ on September 11, 1851, involved Parker and his band battling a group of slave catchers from Maryland who sought return of three Blacks who fled the enslavement of a Methodist minister in Baltimore.”
  • FBI Seizes Phone Of Oath Keepers Lawyer In ‘Seditious Conspiracy’ Investigation. ‘I have so much information in there – it’s nuts,’ Kellye SoRelle told HuffPost about her iPhone.”
  • ‘Good Way to Die’: The Moonies and the Jan. 6 Insurrection“—”An AR-15 Worshipping Sect Mobilized for the Attack on the Capitol and Is Recruiting the Far Right to Its Apocalyptic Vision.” Tweet—”Donald Trump currently delivering speech at Unification Church event on a “Heavenly Unified Korea” 🥴” Tweet—”Donald Trump gave a speech tonight for the deity of the christofascist cult, The Moonies. Trump praised the authoritarian mind control cult for their “incredible story.” Totally normal stuff.” Tweet thread—”Okay everyone. “Moonies,” the authoritarian CULT I was a part of, later escaped and have been speaking out against for the last 45+ years is trending. If you want a crash course on this cult & their ties to the modern GOP, read these blogs of mine. They will catch you up. 👍” Also “Trump-loving church that uses guns in holy rituals buys compound near Waco, Texas. The cult-like group’s leader wears a crown of bullets and carries a golden AR-15″
  • Can’t run the agency tasked with controlling guns if *checks notes* you are for controlling guns. Got it. “White House Withdraws David Chipman’s Nomination To Lead ATF. Fierce opposition from gun groups and a handful of Democratic holdouts had stalled the gun control advocate’s nomination in the Senate.”
  • Justice Department Announces Legal Action Against Texas Abortion Ban. Attorney General Merrick Garland said he will pursue legal action against one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the U.S.”
  • Abortion Clinics Are Already Seeing a Wave of Patients Fleeing Texas. Clinics in the states surrounding Texas are scrambling to keep up with a surge of people desperate for abortions.”
  • ‘Roe Baby’ At Center Of Landmark Abortion Case Is Identified For 1st Time. Shelley Lynn Thornton’s birth mother was the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade. Now 51, she revealed her identity for the first time in The Atlantic.”—”Shelley Lynn Thornton, now 51, revealed herself as the so-called “Roe baby” in The Atlantic, which published an excerpt from an upcoming book about her, her birth mother, her half-sisters and the ways their lives unfolded after the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973.” The Family RoeAn American Story [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Joshua Prager, due —”A masterpiece of reporting on the Supreme Court’s most divisive case, Roe v. Wade, and the unknown lives at its heart. Despite her famous pseudonym, ‘Jane Roe,’ no one knows the truth about Norma McCorvey (1947–2017), whose unwanted pregnancy in 1969 opened a great fracture in American life. Journalist Joshua Prager spent hundreds of hours with Norma, discovered her personal papers—a previously unseen trove—and witnessed her final moments. The Family Roe presents her life in full. Propelled by the crosscurrents of sex and religion, gender and class, it is a life that tells the story of abortion in America. Prager begins that story on the banks of Louisiana’s Atchafalaya River where Norma was born, and where unplanned pregnancies upended generations of her forebears. A pregnancy then upended Norma’s life too, and the Dallas waitress became Jane Roe. Drawing on a decade of research, Prager reveals the woman behind the pseudonym, writing in novelistic detail of her unknown life from her time as a sex worker in Dallas, to her private thoughts on family and abortion, to her dealings with feminist and Christian leaders, to the three daughters she placed for adoption. Prager found those women, including the youngest—Baby Roe—now fifty years old. She shares her story in The Family Roe for the first time, from her tortured interactions with her birth mother, to her emotional first meeting with her sisters, to the burden that was uniquely hers from conception. The Family Roe abounds in such revelations—not only about Norma and her children but about the broader “family” connected to the case. Prager tells the stories of activists and bystanders alike whose lives intertwined with Roe. In particular, he introduces three figures as important as they are unknown: feminist lawyer Linda Coffee, who filed the original Texas lawsuit yet now lives in obscurity; Curtis Boyd, a former fundamentalist Christian, today a leading provider of third-trimester abortions; and Mildred Jefferson, the first black female Harvard Medical School graduate, who became a pro-life leader with great secrets. An epic work spanning fifty years of American history, The Family Roe will change the way you think about our enduring American divide: the right to choose or the right to life.”
  • Andrew Yang to launch a third party. The presidential candidate turned New York City mayoral hopeful is no longer identifying as a Democrat.”—”Yang is expected to start the party in conjunction with the Oct. 5 release of his new book, ‘Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy.'” Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy [Amazon] by Andrew Yang, due October 2021—”Despite being written off by the media, Andrew Yang’s shoestring 2020 presidential campaign—powered by his proposal for a universal basic income of $1,000 a month for all Americans—jolted the political establishment, growing into a massive, diverse movement. Now, in Forward, Yang reveals that UBI and the threat of job automation are only the beginning, diagnosing how a series of cascading problems within our antiquated systems keeps us stuck in the past—imperiling our democracy at every level. With America’s stagnant institutions failing to keep pace with technological change, we grow more polarized as tech platforms supplant our will while feasting on our data. Yang introduces us to the various ‘priests of the decline’ of America, including politicians whose incentives have become divorced from the people they supposedly serve. The machinery of American democracy is failing, Yang argues, and we need bold new ideas to rewire it for twenty-first-century problems. Inspired by his experience running for office and as an entrepreneur, and by ideas drawn from leading thinkers, Yang offers a series of solutions, including data rights, ranked-choice voting, and fact-based governance empowered by modern technology, writing that ‘there is no cavalry’—it’s up to us. This is a powerful and urgent warning that we must step back from the brink and plot a new way forward for our democracy.”
  • ‘Halloween Kills’ to Premiere on Peacock and in Theaters on the Same Day“—”“Halloween Kills,” the upcoming entry in Universal’s slasher franchise, will debut on Peacock on the same day as its theatrical release. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis as the avenging teen-babysitter-turned-grandmother Laurie Strode, ‘Halloween Kills’ is scheduled to debut on Oct. 15.” On Peacock.
  • Watch “Dexter: New Blood“, official trailer, 10 episode series on Showtime.
  • Yowie hunter Jason Heal claims he has proof yowies exist in Perth bushland“—”Every weekend Jason Heal scours bushland around Perth in search of a hairy sub-human cryptid. Heal is part of a small but growing community of cryptozoologists hunting for Australia’s version of Bigfoot – the legendary yowie.” “Now as he ramps up his search in Perth he says there is strong evidence that yowies are living in bushland on our urban fringe.”
  • Watch “Malignant“, official trailer 2, cinemas and HBO Max. Also “James Wan’s ‘Malignant’ Scores Day-and-Date Streaming Release in China (Exclusive). The deal is a rare coup for a Hollywood horror movie in China, where such titles rarely clear censorship.” Tweet—”Ok- Malignant was fun as hell, actually. I 100% respect the pure, silly insanity I just watched and encourage you to go in blind if you can.”
  • ‘Shang-Chi’ China Release Unlikely In Wake Of Unearthed Comments By Star Simu Liu; ‘The Eternals’ Hopes In Question.”
  • Watch “Lucifer“, final season trailer, on Netflix
  • Watch “Midnight Mass“, official trailer, on Netflix—”This little island, so sleepy it might be dead. The isolated community on Crockett Island experiences miraculous events – and frightening omens – following the arrival of a charismatic, mysterious young priest. An original series from Mike Flanagan come to Netflix on September, 24th.” “From The Haunting of Hill House creator Mike Flanagan, MIDNIGHT MASS tells the tale of a small, isolated island community whose existing divisions are amplified by the return of a disgraced young man (Zach Gilford) and the arrival of a charismatic priest (Hamish Linklater). When Father Paul’s appearance on Crockett Island coincides with unexplained and seemingly miraculous events, a renewed religious fervor takes hold of the community – but do these miracles come at a price?”
  • Watch “Meet The Cast Of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” on Paramount+. Notable new info includes Celia Rose Gooding as Cadet Uhura, Jess Bush as Nurse Christine Chapel, Babs Olusanmokun as Dr M’Benga, Bruce Horak as Hemmer (Pour one out for Jeffrey “I played 8 different characters across three Star Trek series” Combs’ Shran who might have been part of the crew if Enterprise had continued) and more, but, hold on to your hats, Christina Chong as La’an Noonien-Singh?! Holy moley! Whut? KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!
  • Watch “Star Trek: Picard, season 2 Star Trek Day trailer, on Paramount+. Wait. Is this a metaphor? “Q went back in time and turned our world into a totalitarian nightmare.” I mean.
  • 4 days to go: “A Humble Exclusive: RED SCREEN by Stephen King“—”RED hot off the press, a Stephen King exclusive short story: Red Screen. We’ve teamed up with legendary author Stephen King for a once in a lifetime opportunity. Presenting, Red Screen, a never before published work, exclusively available through Humble Bundle. In this unsettling short story, a cop interrogates a deranged plumber who just murdered his wife, only to discover something far more insidious. Pay what you want, and support the ACLU.”
  • How I Write Generators“—”a post about my methods for creating random tables/generators. Here it is!” “I’m always referring to my “Aspects” table, which is the “periodic table” of my generators. Having something like this is very useful because whatever topic you are making a generator or table for, it gives you a base guide for ideas.” “Because I don’t have it in me to do a d40 tables for every part of the generator I have ripped one column from my aspect table and will use that as an inspiration for a bunch of d10 tables. Hopefully you can see how I used each of these as a base for inspiration in the other tables.”
  • On Stage to Online: In a virtual avatar performing arts can be enjoyed from one’s home, but can it entirely replace the stage experience?“—”The call starts with “How are you? Do you have any special concerns or reasons for happiness?” When one replies, the person on the other end reciprocates with an evenly-balanced dialogue for the next 15 minutes. Picking up on the issues raised, the ‘poet-doctor’ reads one verse of poems related to the conversation. The verses are selected from a collection compiled as ‘Poetic Vidal’—in reference to the Vidal compendium of pharmaceutical drugs which doctors consult when prescribing medication for patients. Poetic Vidal has more than 300 poems of William Blake, Samuel Beckett, Maya Angelou, William Butler Yeats, Leonard Cohen and many more, arranged according to subjects related to love, travelling, loneliness, happiness and childhood. Once the poet-doctor has read the poems, he/she draws up a poetry prescription for the person. For example, twice a day, reads two excerpts from the Mahabharata or verses by Verlaine—the texts are sent by email. These one-on-one interactions between patients and actors by reading a selected poem is a therapeutic initiative by prominent Paris playhouse Théâtre de la Ville to keep its artistes working while the theatres remain dark.”
  • Pour one out for Benjamin. “Tasmanian Tiger in Colour. 1933 Thylacine Footage Colourised. Samuel François-Steininger has colourised footage from the NFSA collection of Benjamin, the last Tasmanian Tiger in captivity.”—”The thylacine is a carnivorous marsupial that was once widespread across Australia. It’s thought to have disappeared from the mainland about 3,000 years ago, with a population surviving on the island of Tasmania until the 20th century. When European settlers arrived, the creature was considered a pest and hunted extensively, until the last known specimen died in Hobart Zoo in 1936. It’s this last thylacine, named Benjamin, that most of us are familiar with, courtesy of a few minutes of grainy, black-and-white video. So now, the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) of Australia has had some of this footage professionally colorized.” Watch “Tasmanian Tiger in Colour“—”The NFSA has released colourised footage of the last known surviving Tasmanian tiger – or Thylacine – for National Threatened Species Day. Read more about how this black and white footage has been given a new life.”
  • Blues Clues was after my time, but I knew about it, tangentially, of course. But, watch the video at this tweet—”So about that time Steve went off to college… #BluesClues25″. All the feels.