Omnium Gatherum: 10oct2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for October 10, 2021

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

  • European Film Festival in South Africa. 14 – 24 October 2021. The 8th edition of the European Film Festival in South Africa will present a select curation of 18 top new films from Europe. With South Africa still facing a lot of uncertainty around COVID and following the success of last year’s online festival, the 8th edition will again be predominantly a virtual event. Please diarise the dates and join us for some excellent films free of charge!” Including The Year of The Death of Ricardo Reis dir. João Botelho—”Fernando Pessoa, one of the greatest writers of the Portuguese language, established a gigantic parallel universe creating a series of heteronyms to survive his loneliness of genius. Nobel laureate of literature José Saramago wrote this novel about one of these heteronymous characters, Ricardo Reis, a fictitious author, with unique personality and style, who returns to Portugal, after 16 years of exile in Brazil. 1936 is the year of all danger, Mussolini’s fascism, Hitler’s Nazism, the terrible Spanish civil war and Salazar’s Estado Novo in Portugal, but this is all a delicate backcloth to Ricardo’s dalliances with women and his mysterious encounters with the ghost of Fernando Pessoa. ‘The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis is a unique and magnificent work by José Saramago, but if there is another way of telling this novel, equally unique and magnificent, it is this film unravelling by veteran director João Botelho.’ Botelho’s screenplay and direction is crucially supported by João Ribeiro’s beautiful black and white cinematography, fostering a unique aesthetic-narrative construction for the telling of this story.”
  • John Coulthart has started to offer on demand t-shirts of several designs, including the “Kabbalah: As Above, So Below” with the tree of life as London tube map image that made a cameo on Moore’s Promethea. Also “More shirts.”
  • Philosophy and the Mirror of Technology: Interview with Christopher Tollefsen” About The Way of Medicine, Ethics and the Healing Profession [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Farr Curlin, Christopher Tollefsen—”Today’s medicine is spiritually deflated and morally adrift; this book explains why and offers an ethical framework to renew and guide practitioners in fulfilling their profession to heal. What is medicine and what is it for? What does it mean to be a good doctor? Answers to these questions are essential both to the practice of medicine and to understanding the moral norms that shape that practice. The Way of Medicine articulates and defends an account of medicine and medical ethics meant to challenge the reigning provider of services model, in which clinicians eschew any claim to know what is good for a patient and instead offer an array of “health care services” for the sake of the patient’s subjective well-being. Against this trend, Farr Curlin and Christopher Tollefsen call for practitioners to recover what they call the Way of Medicine, which offers physicians both a path out of the provider of services model and also the moral resources necessary to resist the various political, institutional, and cultural forces that constantly push practitioners and patients into thinking of their relationship in terms of economic exchange. Curlin and Tollefsen offer an accessible account of the ancient ethical tradition from which contemporary medicine and bioethics has departed. Their investigation, drawing on the scholarship of Leon Kass, Alasdair MacIntyre, and John Finnis, leads them to explore the nature of medicine as a practice, health as the end of medicine, the doctor-patient relationship, the rule of double effect in medical practice, and a number of clinical ethical issues from the beginning of life to its end. In the final chapter, the authors take up debates about conscience in medicine, arguing that rather than pretending to not know what is good for patients, physicians should contend conscientiously for the patient’s health and, in so doing, contend conscientiously for good medicine. The Way of Medicine is an intellectually serious yet accessible exploration of medical practice written for medical students, health care professionals, and students and scholars of bioethics and medical ethics.”
  • The Need for a Unified Theory of Imagining“—”The multiplication of ‘imaginations’ in current social and human sciences leads to a logical conclusion: imagining is a ubiquitous human act. Sociological imagination, ecological imagination, philosophical imagination, scientific imagination, musical imagination, etc.: the infinite list of new imaginations pairs along with the infinite multiplication of ‘intelligences’ in psychology – emotional; spatial; mathematical; logical; visual; musical; you name it (Gardner, 2003). The result is to have a concept, prefixed by an adjective, which creates nothing but an umpteenth disciplinary boundary so that one can say, ‘I work in ecological imagination’ and probably have a new journal with the same name. This will lead nowhere in advancing our understanding of imagination. It may be time to rethink imagination as a higher mental function that is implied in all human activities. My long-term research project, culminated in the volume A Theory of Imagining, Knowing, and Understanding (Tateo, 2020), aimed exactly at rethinking the way we consider imagination and at developing a theory of imaginative work as a higher mental function. In other words, I propose to develop a unified theory of imagining.” About A Theory of Imagining, Knowing, and Understanding [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Luca Tateo—”This is a book about imaginative work and its relationship with the construction of knowledge. It is fully acknowledged by epistemologists that imagination is not something opposed to rationality; it is not mere fantasy opposed to intellect. In philosophy and cognitive sciences, imagination is generally “delimiting not much more than the mental ability to interact cognitively with things that are not now present via the senses.” (Stuart, 2017, p. 11) For centuries, scholars and poets have wondered where this capability could come from, whether it is inspired by divinity or it is a peculiar feature of human mind (Tateo, 2017b). The omnipresence of imaginative work in both every day and highly specialized human activities requires a profoundly radical understanding of this phenomenon. We need to work imaginatively in order to achieve knowledge, thus imagination must be something more than a mere flight of fantasy. Considering different stories in the field of scientific endeavor, I will try to propose the idea that the imaginative process is fundamental higher mental function that concurs in our experiencing, knowing and understanding the world we are part of. This book is thus about a theoretical idea of imagining as constant part of the complex whole we call the human psyche. It is a story of human beings striving not only for knowledge and exploration but also striving for imagining possibilities.​”
  • This is Dyslexia: 5 Reasons Everyone Should Read This Book“—”It’s currently World Dyslexia Awareness Month, with British Awareness Week falling between the 4th and 10th October. Kate Griggs discusses her new book, This Is Dyslexia, and five reasons you should pick it up.” About This Is Dyslexia [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Kate Griggs—”The future needs Dyslexic Thinking! British social entrepreneur, founder and CEO of charity Made By Dyslexia, Kate Griggs has been shifting the narrative on dyslexia and educating people on its strengths since 2004. Having been surrounded by an extraordinary ‘smorgasbord of Dyslexic Thinking’ her whole life, Griggs knows the superpower of dyslexia all too well. With a forward from Sir Richard Branson, This is Dyslexia covers everything you need to understand, value and support Dyslexic Thinking. From offering practical advice on how to support the dyslexics in your life to breaking down the 6 Dyslexic Thinking skills in adults, Griggs shares her knowledge in an easily digestible guide. This is Dyslexia redefines and reshapes what it means to be dyslexic. It explores how it has shaped our past and how harnessing its powers and strengths is vital to our future.”
  • As I’ve said in the past, if, so to speak, capital collectively bargains through owners and bosses, then labour should collectively bargain also, anything less is a purposely asymmetrical power arrangement. But unions also need to be better. “Belabored: Toward a Liberatory Unionism, with Eve Livingston.” About Make Bosses Pay: Why We Need Unions [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Eve Livingston—”Think your union doesn’t represent you? Then maybe it’s time to change it. With the world changing at breakneck speed and workers at the whim of apps, bad bosses and zero-hours contracts, why should we care about unions? Aren’t they just for white-haired, middle-aged miners anyway? The government constantly attacks unions, CEOs devote endless time and resources to undermining them, and many unions themselves are stuck in the past. Despite this, inspiring work is happening all the time, from fast food strikes and climate change campaigning to the modernisation of unions for the digital age. Speaking to academics, experts and grassroots organisers from TUC, UNISON, ACORN, IWGB and more, Eve Livingston explores how young workers are organising to demand fair workplaces, and reimagines what an inclusive union movement that represents us all might look like. Working together can change the course of history, and our bosses know that. Yes, you need a union, but your union also needs you!”
  • In defence of memoirs – a way to grip our story-shaped lives“—”I wrote a memoir recently, and sometimes I ask myself why on earth I did. It was difficult and time-consuming, it involved some rather unpleasant self-examination, and it raised suspicions of self-involvement, exhibitionism and insufferable earnestness that I’d so far mainly avoided in life. If I publish it, I risk being accused by friends of betrayal, by readers of lying, and by critics of any number of literary flaws. Since selling a memoir is hard, all of that would represent things going well. When I complain to my sister about this, she suggests that ‘maybe’ I should have – ‘I don’t know’ – considered these points two years ago, before embarking on this thing that she would ‘never, like, ever do’. When asked why they bother, memoirists offer a range of reasons. Saint Teresa did it for the glory of God; Jean-Jacques Rousseau to express his inner self; Vladimir Nabokov to recreate his vanished childhood; Frederick Douglass to advance the cause of abolition. But maybe the deepest reason for writing a memoir, intertwined with all the rest, is the desire to find meaning in one’s past experience. Whatever else they’re up to, memoirists are in the business of locating some form or order in their personal history: setting it down as an intelligible shape, not a hot mess. Finding this form is both a necessary part of memoir and one of its key rewards. That was what I was after, anyway. Life moves so fast. Stuff had gone down. I wanted to slow the passage of events, grasp what the past had meant, before picking up the pace once again.” By Helena de Bres, author of Artful Truths: The Philosophy of Memoir [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”Offers a philosophical perspective on the nature and value of writing a memoir. Artful Truths offers a concise guide to the fundamental philosophical questions that arise when writing a literary work about your own life. Bringing a philosopher’s perspective to a general audience, Helena de Bres addresses what a memoir is, how the genre relates to fiction, memoirists’ responsibilities to their readers and subjects, and the question of why to write a memoir at all. Along the way, she delves into a wide range of philosophical issues, including the nature of the self, the limits of knowledge, the idea of truth, the obligations of friendship, the relationship between morality and art, and the question of what makes a life meaningful. Written in a clear and conversational style, it offers a resource for those who write, teach, and study memoirs, as well as those who love to read them. With a combination of literary and philosophical knowledge, de Bres takes the many challenges directed at memoirists seriously, while ultimately standing in defense of a genre that, for all its perplexities—and maybe partly because of them—continually proves to be both beloved and valuable. ”
  • What does Fluffy think?” About Loving Animals: On Bestiality, Zoophilia and Post-Human Love [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Joanna Bourke—”Sexual contact with non-human animals is one of the last taboos but, for a practice that is generally regarded as abhorrent, it is remarkable how many books, films, plays, paintings and photographs depict the subject. In this book renowned historian Joanna Bourke explores the history of human-animal sexuality and examines how the meanings of the words ‘bestiality’ or ‘zoophilia’ have changed. Are people who are sexually attracted to non-human animals psychiatrically ill, or are they normal people who happen to have a minority sexual orientation? How are we to understand human-animal love, as well as other issues within the discourse surrounding sexuality, such as violence, consent and abuse? This book draws queer theory, post-human philosophy, disability studies and the history of the senses into the debate to ask, what would an ethics of animal loving look like? What does it mean to love non-human animals? More pertinently: what does it mean to love?”
  • Why the Hell We Are Obsessed with Hell“—”Henning is our Virgil on this tour to discover how hell went from the Greek underworld to a space for punishment pursuant to the Christian notion of sin. As she directs us to, we must inspect early Christian writings in order to trace intellectual and religious models for the Inferno, many of which would go on to influence perceptions today.” “The most potent parts of Hell Hath No Fury address ancient prejudices tied to the body and to gender. Henning points to how imagined bodies within hell connect directly to perceptions of real bodies in the present world — and their marginalization. Roman law and society were often cruel to non-normative bodies.” About Hell Hath No Fury: Gender, Disability, and the Invention of Damned Bodies in Early Christian Literature [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Meghan R Henning—”The first major book to examine ancient Christian literature on hell through the lenses of gender and disability studies. Throughout the Christian tradition, descriptions of hell’s fiery torments have shaped contemporary notions of the afterlife, divine justice, and physical suffering. But rarely do we consider the roots of such conceptions, which originate in a group of understudied ancient texts: the early Christian apocalypses. In this pioneering study, Meghan Henning illuminates how the bodies that populate hell in early Christian literature—largely those of women, enslaved persons, and individuals with disabilities—are punished after death in spaces that mirror real carceral spaces, effectually criminalizing those bodies on earth. Contextualizing the apocalypses alongside ancient medical texts, inscriptions, philosophy, and patristic writings, this book demonstrates the ways that Christian depictions of hell intensified and preserved ancient notions of gender and bodily normativity that continue to inform Christian identity.”
  • ‘What I would like is for people to come at the world with lots of different ways of seeing things’; Dr Liam Kofi Bright on the philosophical canon.”—”Liam Kofi Bright [LKB]: I think of canons as a set of shared texts, which it is normatively expected that the people we teach philosophy to will have to engage with – either read them or at least read summaries of them or discuss them in class. It’s what people are meant to be familiar with. What’s in the canon will differ a lot depending on what field you’re in, but in philosophy, in the bits of the English speaking world that I have been part of, typically some familiarity with at least some of Plato’s Republic will be expected, as well as Descartes’ Meditations, and some familiarity with Kant [especially, his Critique of Pure Reason] is typically also required. So, it’s thought that your education as a philosophy student isn’t complete unless you have some working knowledge of these texts. Now, as you go into graduate school this remains, but it will be more sub-discipline specific. For example, I do philosophy of science, and while it’s not the case that Kuhn and Hempel are still driving contemporary research, a student of philosophy of science is still expected to know a bit about what Kuhn and Hempel thought, because that’s part of being educated into philosophy of science. So, it’s basically a shared idea of shared texts which normatively you have to engage with as part of a good education. SVG: What then is the problem with the canon as it’s currently used in teaching philosophy? LKB: My objection is to the idea of a canon, rather than any particular items on it. I think it’s a mistake to think that we need to homogenise or standardise the texts undergrads deal with. I think that there are various benefits to there being a wide variety of skill sets and knowledge bases available in society. As teachers, the little bit we can contribute to that is anti-coordinating our actions, and ensuring that by diverse efforts across the world and across whatever country we are in, we are teaching people different skills, different kinds of knowledge, and different ways of looking at the world. What I would like is for people to come at the world with lots of different ways of seeing things and that’s what I would like to achieve through our teaching. So, from the perspective of the education system as a whole, I would like education systems to produce a diverse set of knowledges, perspectives, outlooks, and so on. And to do that, I think we need to resist the idea of needing a canon, because a canon homogenises what people know.”
  • Catastrophe Capitalism: An Interview with Peer Illner.” About Disasters and Social Reproduction: Crisis Response between the State and Community [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Peer Illner—”A Marxist-feminist approach examining disaster relief in the US. Many communities in the United States have been abandoned by the state. What happens when natural disasters add to their misery? This book looks at the broken relationship between the federal government and civil society in times of crises. Mutual aid has gained renewed importance in providing relief when hurricanes, floods and pandemics hit, as cuts to state spending put significant strain on communities struggling to survive. Harking back to the self-organised welfare programmes of the Black Panther Party, radical social movements from Occupy to Black Lives Matter are building autonomous aid networks within and against the state. However, as the federal responsibility for relief is lifted, mutual aid faces a profound dilemma: do ordinary people become complicit in their own exploitation Reframing disaster relief through the lens of social reproduction, Peer Illner tracks the shifts in American emergency aid, from the economic crises of the 1970s to the Covid-19 pandemic, raising difficult questions about mutual aid’s double-edged role in cuts to social spending. As sea levels rise, climate change worsens and new pandemics sweep the globe, Illner’s analysis of the interrelations between the state, the market and grassroots initiatives will prove indispensable.”
  • What I Learned About My Writing By Seeing Only The Punctuation. I made a web tool that lets you spy your hidden literary style.”—”I love this concept! And he’s right — when you look at those writers’ punctuation, you can see, in a quick glance, how different they are.” Try it out: “just the punctuation.”
  • Hidden Mangrove Forest in the Yucatan Peninsula Reveals Ancient Sea Levels. Researchers investigate an ancient coastal ecosystem found more than 120 miles from the nearest ocean, revealing sea level impacts from the last interglacial period.”—”Deep in the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula, an ancient mangrove ecosystem flourishes more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the nearest ocean. This is unusual because mangroves—salt-tolerant trees, shrubs, and palms—are typically found along tropical and subtropical coastlines. A new study led by researchers across the University of California system in the United States and researchers in Mexico focuses on this luxuriant red mangrove forest. This ‘lost world’ is located far from the coast along the banks of the San Pedro Martir River, which runs from the El Petén rainforests in Guatemala to the Balancán region in Tabasco, Mexico.” “‘The most amazing part of this study is that we were able to examine a mangrove ecosystem that has been trapped in time for more than 100,000 years,’ said study co-author Octavio Aburto-Oropeza, a marine ecologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and a Pew Marine Fellow. ‘There is certainly more to discover about how the many species in this ecosystem adapted throughout different environmental conditions over the past 100,000 years. Studying these past adaptations will be very important for us to better understand future conditions in a changing climate.'”
  • Stunning carvings of human figures and heads are uncovered at Karahantepe – one of the important settlements of the Neolithic period – revealing the artistic skills of people who lived in Turkey 11,000 years ago. Carvings of human figures and heads have been uncovered at an important settlement of Neolithic period. The discovery at Karahantepe in Turkey reveals the artistic skills of people who lived there 11,000 years ago. So far more than 250 T-shaped megaliths featuring animal depictions have been found at the excavation site. Digging at the site first began in 2019 and has also led to the discovery of a building with a diameter of 75ft.”
  • Scientists spot giant ‘mystery creature’ while exploring shipwreck. Talk about a real-life Squid Game.”—”It’s cool enough to find a shipwreck. It’s even better to spot a massive, mysterious sea creature hanging out with the wreck. That’s what happened to the crew of the OceanX OceanXplorer research vessel during an expedition in the Red Sea in late 2020.” “The researchers spotted either the same squid or others like it during subsequent dives. Vecchione said they represent ‘the giant form’ of the purpleback flying squid.”
  • The American Bumblebee Has Vanished From Eight States. In two decades, the insect’s population has declined by nearly 90 percent due to a combination of threats, including habitat loss, pesticides and diseases.”
  • The Math of the Amazing Sandpile. To understand self-organization in nature, behold the sandpile.”—”Remember domino theory? One country going Communist was supposed to topple the next, and then the next, and the next. The metaphor drove much of United States foreign policy in the middle of the 20th century. But it had the wrong name. From a physical point of view, it should have been called the ‘sandpile theory.’ Real-world political phase transitions tend to happen not in neat sequences, but in sudden coordinated fits, like the Arab Spring, or the collapse of the Eastern Bloc. These reflect quiet periods punctuated by crises—like a sandpile. You can add grains of sand to the top of a sandpile for a while, to no apparent effect. Then, all at once, an avalanche sweeps sand down from the top in an irregular pattern, possibly setting off little sub-avalanches as it goes. This analogy doesn’t necessarily get us anywhere. After all, real sand is hard to analyze, just like real politics. But here’s the miracle. A kind of abstraction of a sandheap, known as the ‘abelian sandpile model,’ created by physicists Per Bak, Chao Tang, and Kurt Wiesenfeld in 1987, seems to capture some of the rich, chaotic features of real sandpiles, not to mention other complex systems from biology, physics, and social science—while remaining simple enough to study mathematically.”
  • Are more humorous children more intelligent? A case from Turkish culture.“—”This study aimed to investigate the relationship between intelligence and humor ability in a Turkish sample. The sample included 217 middle-school students with a wide range of intelligence measured by a Turkish intelligence test (ASIS). Humor ability was measured using the Humor Ability Assessment Form. Students were instructed to write captions for 10 cartoons that were as funny and relevant as possible. Seven experts rated the funniness of the captions and their relevance to the cartoons, yielding a total of 30,380 ratings (217 students × 10 cartoons × two criteria × seven experts). The findings showed that both general intelligence and the second-level components (verbal ability, visual-spatial ability, and memory) had high correlations with humor ability. Intelligence explained 68% of the variance in humor ability. Among the third-level factors, verbal analogical reasoning was the primary predictor of humor ability (β = 0.325, p < 0.001). Humor ability scores significantly differed across intelligence clusters, implying that highly humorous children may be highly intelligent." Also "Class act: Clever children tell better jokes“—”Children with higher levels of general knowledge and verbal reasoning are better able to produce humor, new research carried out on Turkish schoolchildren suggests.” “Both humor and intelligence are shaped by cultural norms, beliefs and values. A joke considered hilarious in one culture may not be funny in another. Likewise, a particular behavior may be considered a sign of high intelligence in one culture but other cultures may find such behavior inappropriate. Thus, the influence of intelligence on humorous behaviors should be evaluated in specific cultures, the study’s authors state. ‘While humor is frequently used for entertainment by adults, children use it mostly for peer acceptance. Therefore, the nature of adult and child humor differs,’ said lead author Professor Ugur Sak from Anadolu University, Turkey. ‘We were particularly interested in the quality of humor made by children but evaluated by adults. Parents and teachers should be aware that if their children or students frequently make good quality humor, it is highly likely that they have extraordinary intelligence.'”
  • Photos from NASA’s Perseverance rover indicate ancient flash floods on Mars“—”A new study from the team behind NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover reveals that areas of Mars — specifically the Jezero Crater, an area scientists think may hold keys to ancient Martian life — experienced ‘significant’ flash floods that carved the landscape into the rocky wasteland we see today. The team says they based their findings on images the rover took of sediment that gathered at the end of an ancient river that fed a lake inside the Jezero Crater. The photos, taken during a landing on February 18 and published on Thursday, suggest that billions of years ago, Mars had a thick atmosphere that could support large quantities of water. The sediment seen in the pictures shows a now-barren river delta that experienced ‘late-stage flooding events’ whose waters carried boulders and debris from Mars highlands to the banks of the crater.”
  • BepiColombo gets first glimpse of Mercury “The European-Japanese BepiColombo spacecraft swept past Mercury on Friday, 1 October, in the first of six high-speed flybys to gradually set up the probe’s trajectory for a critical manoeuvre in 2025 to enter orbit around the Solar System’s innermost planet.” “BepiColombo zipped just 199 kilometers (123 miles) above Mercury’s airless surface at 2334 GMT Friday, speeding by the planet barely seven weeks after flying by Venus, according to the European Space Agency.” Watch “Meeting Mercury“—”A beautiful sequence of 53 images taken by the monitoring cameras on board the ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission as the spacecraft made its first close flyby of its destination planet Mercury on 1 October 2021.”
  • Planet with iron rainfall is even more extreme than scientists thought.”—”On this sizzling exoplanet hundreds of light-years from Earth, droplets of iron rain fall from the sky at night. Now, researchers have also detected sodium and ionized calcium in the planet’s atmosphere, based on observations from the Gemini North Telescope, which is located near the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The new findings suggest the planet, named WASP-76b, is even hotter than scientists expected.” Also “Spectrum reveals extreme exoplanet is even more exotic.”
  • Transient Luminous Event is my new psychedelic cover band. “Astronaut spots rare and ethereal ‘transient luminous event’ from ISS. ‘Elves and sprites are very real,’ says ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet.”—””Transient luminous event” sounds like a euphemism for a ghost, but it’s actually a beautiful phenomenon that can sometimes be seen from the International Space Station. European Space Agency astronaut and current ISS resident Thomas Pesquet shared a view of an ethereal blue glow emerging over Europe. Transient luminous events are caused by upper-atmospheric lightning. This one happened in early September and Pesquet tweeted about it this week, calling it ‘a very rare occurrence.'”
  • Single Cells Evolve Large Multicellular Forms in Just Two Years. Researchers have discovered that environments favoring clumpy growth are all that’s needed to quickly transform single-celled yeast into complex multicellular organisms.”
  • Cancer breakthrough: Exercise may stop disease in its tracks. Forget bedrest: ECU research has shown exercise may be a key weapon in cancer patients’ battle against the disease.”
  • Scientists are one step closer to error-correcting quantum computers. Multiple quantum bits were combined into one ‘logical qubit’ to detect mistakes.”—”Combining the power of multiple qubits into one can solve the error woes, researchers report October 4 in Nature. Scientists used nine qubits to make a single, improved qubit called a logical qubit, which, unlike the individual qubits from which it was made, can be probed to check for mistakes.”
  • Ship Tracks Over the Ocean Inspire Researchers For a Way to Cool The Earth. It’s simple science really: Bright surfaces absorb less heat.”—”Climate change is a given. There’s no denying it. And up to now, it does not seem that we have found an effective way to deal with it. Now, a team based at the University of Washington the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), and the Pacific Northwest National Library have come up with an innovative solution to tackle climate change by using clouds to thwart global warming. ‘The Marine Cloud Brightening Project is an open, international collaboration of atmospheric scientists and other experts to advance understanding of cloud responses to aerosol particles. We specifically are interested in exploring the potential for intentionally brightening marine low clouds by augmenting the natural marine aerosol particle population,’ write the researchers on their page. The researchers got their inspiration from brighter clouds produced by ship emissions which in turn can produce a cooling effect via processes that occur naturally in the atmosphere. The researchers then pondered: What if they could achieve this cooling effect without releasing the greenhouse gases and toxic pollutants that ships emit?”
  • A Bitcoin Mining Operation Started a Secret Power Plant, It Did Not Go as Planned [Corrected]. Busted by the neighbors, Link Global is now facing a $5.6 million fine in Canada.”—”A There Will Be Blood-style drama unfolds in Canada, where a Bitcoin mining operation tapped an unused natural gas well near a wealthy neighborhood in Alberta. The company Link Global might have gotten away with the clandestine operation if not for noise complaints from area hot tub owners. This story has everything.”
  • We need to talk about Facebook PR guy Andy Stone. He’s making no friends with his brash and combative Twitter presence. What the hell are he and his employer thinking?” Tweet—”The increasingly combative Twitter presence of a couple Facebook PR folks is puzzling *if* you assume the main audience is the press or the public, as this piece does. But if you assume the audience is Facebook execs & employees, it makes total sense.” Or, you know, like a Dump Truckian press secretary, they’re doing it primarily for Zuckerberg’s consumption.
  • Imagine the End of Facebook“—”It is easier to imagine Facebook causing the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of Facebook.”
  • We are skipping towards a high-tech surveillance state run by unaccountable tech companies, but we’ll sure look cool on our way there. Don’t be fooled by Facebook’s new ‘cool’ Ray-Ban smart glasses, there is nothing cool about letting strangers unknowingly film you.” Also “Facebook Is Making Camera Glasses, Ha Ha Oh No. Ray-Ban Stories can take photos and videos with a touch of a button and send them to your phone.”—”Knowing that Facebook is discussing building facial recognition into these things curdles the stomach.” “The privacy features for the glasses wearer are decent; privacy features for the rest of the world? Not so much. The implications for our souls? Hopelessly unclear.”
  • ‘Neurograins’ Could be the Next Brain-Computer Interfaces. Dozens of microchips scattered over the cortical surface might allow researchers to listen in on thousands of neurons at the same time.”
  • I’m Not Afraid of AI Overlords— I’m Afraid of Whoever’s Training Them To Think That Way“—”So I’ll say it again: It is no surprise that these systems reproduce bad prejudicial social outcomes, when they have been repeatedly and consistently designed, built, trained, and taught to operate with these prejudicial values in mind.”
  • Social media influencer/model created from artificial intelligence lands 100 sponsorships“—”‘Rozy’ is a virtual human that was created Sidus Studio X last year in August. Her age will forever be 22, and she has been keeping an active presence online as a real human since December of last year. In particular, this virtual human began gaining much attention as she appeared in an advertisement for Shinhan Life in July.” “CEO Baek Seung Yeop also shared Rozy’s future plans. He explained that the company plans to expand Rozy’s scope of activities, moving on to movies, dramas, and entertainment shows. As CEO Baek said, the reason for the popularity of virtual humans is that there is no fear that advertisements will be suspended due to unsavory privacy scandals after the AI model is selected as the advertising model. In addition, the location and scene can be created through computer graphics, so the virtual model is not limited in time and space, and unlike real people. The other advantage is that period in which the model can be active is very long or eternal because the virtual human doesn’t get sick or grow old.” Also “Lifelike virtual humans dominate Korean marketing industry“—”A woman in a YouTube commercial for an insurance company shows off her attractive appearance and dancing skills. This ad exceeded 10 million views in under a month. Yet the public initially failed to notice something important — she is a ‘virtual human.’ People expressed surprise after their discovery, with messages like ‘I wanted to search for who the model was and couldn’t believe she was a virtual human’ and ‘It’s surprising how realistic she is given that she is a graphic.’ The golden age of virtual humans has begun.”
  • Meet the Little-Known Genius Who Helped Make Pixar Possible. Alvy Ray Smith helped invent computer animation as we know it—then got royally shafted by Steve Jobs. Now he’s got a vision for where the pixel will take us next.”—”‘As far as history goes, I feel like he got shafted, both in Pixar history and in computer graphics history in general,’ says Pam Kerwin, a former Pixar colleague. ‘Everything that you currently use in Photoshop right now basically came from Alvy.’ Even self-­driving cars and augmented reality, ‘which are all about image processing, machine vision … Alvy and his colleagues brought all that stuff into the world.'”
  • Delta variant vaccinated vs. unvaccinated: This new CDC chart shows how well COVID-19 vaccines work. Fully vaccinated individuals have a much greater chance of not being impacted by COVID-19, whether that impact is via infection, hospitalization, or death.”
  • Political bickering over COVID causing distress, says top psychiatrist“—”Political bickering over the COVID-19 pandemic has fuelled psychological distress in the population by feeding into a broader social disintegration, leading psychiatrist Gordon Parker has warned. There has been a 30 to 50 per cent increase in the number of people presenting at hospitals with psychological distress and a 30 per cent increase in adolescents with suicidal or self-harm tendencies, government figures show.” Or, you know, correlation not being causation, maybe the distress about the pandemic is endemic and self-explanatory. But, also, the bickering.
  • Eine kleine Paranoia“—”Daily life has always created trace resonances ripe for paranoia. Ever since the first sociologists, huddled around Durkheim, pointed out that modern life is pretty fucking alienating, there has been more room to go insane.” “Are we living in a pandemic of paranoia, or is it simply the phenomenon of being birthed with a psyche to begin with, and of having to negotiate the vicissitudes of this world mentally, always slipping and sliding back and forth between the on and off button, between the paranoid/schizoid and the depressive point of possible reparation, a progression. It is continually important to acknowledge the ways in which we might lose all or part of our minds. The recent movements back and forth positionally and psychically have led us into a basic agitation, and one world might very much feel like it is ending. That’s why it’s exciting to try and remember this next birth, to cling to it, to not let it go too far astray, so that we may know its dreads, its anxieties, but also its chances for profound reparations.”
  • Far-Right Granddaughter of Benito Mussolini Wins Election as Rome City Councilor.”
  • From Gender Critical to QAnon: Anti-Trans Politics and the Laundering of Conspiracy. Stated disavowal of their own bias doesn’t account for how liberals rhetorically shelter political violence.”—”In the outcome, we can grasp the key mechanics of the growing relation of gender-critical punditry to QAnon, an overlooked process structuring this year’s unprecedented legislative assault on trans children. This symbiotic relationship between liberal anti-transness and extremist conspiracy theory bears serious repercussions for organizing effectively against the growing ubiquity of anti-trans platforms in authoritarianism. Anti-trans movements demonstrate that conspiracy and disinformation are not outside of, but rather are central to, liberal political institutions. Indeed, anti-trans speech is increasingly the very means by which to launder extremism and conspiracy theory into democratic institutions, with disastrous results.”
  • Who Lost the Sex Wars? Fissures in the feminist movement should not be buried as signs of failure but worked through as opportunities for insight.”—”But my women students quickly discover, as an earlier generation did, that there is no monolithic ‘women’s experience’: that their experiences are inflected by distinctions in class, race, and nationality, by whether they are trans or cis, gay or straight, and also by the less classifiable distinctions of political instinct—their feelings about authority, hierarchy, technology, community, freedom, risk, love. My students soon find, in turn, that the vast body of feminist theory is riddled with disagreement. It is possible to show them that working through these ‘wars’ can be intellectually productive, even thrilling. But I sense that some small disappointment remains. Nelson suggests that looking to the past for the glimmer of liberatory possibilities ‘inevitably produces the dashed hope that someone, somewhere, could have or should have enacted or ensured our liberation.’ Within feminism, that dashed hope provides ‘yet another opportunity to blame one’s foremothers for not having been good enough.'”
  • California requires free tampons in public schools“—”The move comes as women’s rights advocates push nationwide for affordable access to pads, tampons and other items. California’s latest effort builds on a 2017 law requiring low-income schools in disadvantaged areas to provide students with free menstrual products. It expands the law to include grades 6 to 12, community colleges and the California State University and University of California systems, starting in the 2022-23 school year. It encourages private schools and colleges to follow suit.”
  • Black Children Were Jailed for a Crime That Doesn’t Exist. Almost Nothing Happened to the Adults in Charge. Judge Donna Scott Davenport oversees a juvenile justice system in Rutherford County, Tennessee, with a staggering history of jailing children. She said kids must face consequences, which rarely seem to apply to her or the other adults in charge.”
  • Global Deal to End Tax Havens Moves Ahead as Nations Back 15% Rate. More than 130 countries agreed to set a minimum tax rate of 15 percent as governments look to end a race to the bottom on corporate taxation.”
  • Religious Exemptions for Vaccine Mandates Shouldn’t Exist. Freedom of religion was never meant to excuse people from obligations that apply to everyone.”
  • Are Islamic philosophers critical of authority? Irreverence is a feature of Western thought, but in Islamic philosophy failing to question power is an intellectual sin.”—”All this sheds an interesting light on a frequently asked question, which is why the Islamic world never experienced something like the European Enlightenment. Of course, that’s a complicated issue. But part of the answer might simply be this: to the extent that ‘enlightenment’ involves the emergence of intellectuals who step back from the typical views of their society, and critically evaluate prevailing religious and philosophical ideas, the Islamic world was already ‘enlightened’ during the European Middle Ages.”
  • Let’s Talk About Sex. At Prada and Versace, the clothes made it the main topic of conversation.”—”After more than a year of lockdown and isolation, we are all craving physical contact, and after the same amount of time spent getting reacquainted with our bodies, we are happier to expose them to view; between Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, sex has become part of the general political conversation in a way it never was before; there’s an explosion of hedonism waiting to happen, a need for release after all this pent-up emotion; it’s a basic human instinct, no matter how grim the global situation (maybe especially when the global situation is grim). Just pick your rationalization.”
  • Film Reels Dredged from the Sea Become an Eerie Meditation on Mortality“—”Each film print records two stories: the one a crew conjured together however long ago, and the record of everything that’s happened to the strip since its creation. The vagaries of the projection, transportation, and preservation of physical film leave it vulnerable to damage. Many archival projects focus on the first story, but Morrison is interested in both. Cinema is an illusion of life, but in letting imperfections intrude upon the experience, he turns these illusions into specters, or memories. The past is both dead and present. Finding some reels of Village Detective may not in itself be remarkable, but this specific reel has its own unique story, and Morrison finds value in that. His interrogation of the water-warped images becomes a rumination on mortality.” About The Village Detective: A Song Cycle [Amazon, Publisher] dir. by Bill Morrison.
  • Fantasia 2021, Part XVIII: Hotel Poseidon“—”Choulequec” is a 26-minute short film from France, written and directed by Benoit Blanc and Matthias Girbig, and it’s quite charming in an absurd way. It follows a man, Lucas Lesol (Girbig), searching for Alma (Billie Blain), his missing 16-year-old daughter. On a rural highway he crosses the city limits of the town of Choulequec and finds himself in a bizarre place where an officious sheriff, Chépair (one of two roles for Benoit Blanc), has made up absurd laws. It starts out less like Kafka and more like Alice In Wonderland, possessed of the same left-field logic, and as it goes on becomes increasingly surreal.” “Hotel Poseidon is a movie that has the sheer filmmaking craft to do just what it wants, building a filthy and decayed setting and following its main character through a range of surreal incidents. At one viewing I do not see a coherent theme in the movie. I see several possible themes, but nothing that the action on screen insists upon. It does feel as though there is matter here, as though watching it again might give me a way to connect the dots in a way that gives the thing more meaning. Certainly I can understand why some viewers might love the movie. As of right now, though, I can’t feel it.” Watch “CHOULEQUEC (court-métrage)“. Also watch “Hotel Poseidon“, official trailer.
  • Watch “Germán Santillán: A taste of Mexico’s ancient chocolate-making tradition | TED”—”Dating back more than 800 years, chocolate is deeply woven into the Indigenous history of Oaxaca, Mexico. TED Fellow Germán Santillán talks about his work reviving the Mixtec technique used to prepare this ancient delicacy by training a new generation of local farmers — helping create economic opportunity and preserve a delicious legacy at the same time.”
  • Marie Wilcox, Who Saved Her Native Language From Extinction, Dies at 87. The subject of a Times Op-Doc, she was, for a time, the last fluent speaker of Wukchumni and spent 20 years producing the first complete dictionary of its vocabulary.”
  • Watch “Becoming SQUID GAME Host in GTA 5! (GTA 5 Mods).” Also “Playing SQUID GAME in Minecraft!.”
  • Tweet—”It has come to my attention that not everyone knows this so I am once again tweeting: 24hrs after a traumatic event, or as soon as you are safe, play Tetris. It SIGNIFICANTLY reduces likelihood of intrusive memories:” from 2015 “Computer Game Play Reduces Intrusive Memories of Experimental Trauma via Reconsolidation-Update Mechanisms“—”Memory of a traumatic event becomes consolidated within hours. Intrusive memories can then flash back repeatedly into the mind’s eye and cause distress. We investigated whether reconsolidation—the process during which memories become malleable when recalled—can be blocked using a cognitive task and whether such an approach can reduce these unbidden intrusions. We predicted that reconsolidation of a reactivated visual memory of experimental trauma could be disrupted by engaging in a visuospatial task that would compete for visual working memory resources. We showed that intrusive memories were virtually abolished by playing the computer game Tetris following a memory-reactivation task 24 hr after initial exposure to experimental trauma. Furthermore, both memory reactivation and playing Tetris were required to reduce subsequent intrusions (Experiment 2), consistent with reconsolidation-update mechanisms. A simple, noninvasive cognitive-task procedure administered after emotional memory has already consolidated (i.e., > 24 hours after exposure to experimental trauma) may prevent the recurrence of intrusive memories of those emotional events.”
  • Tweet thread—”I bought a bag of this #brachsturkeydinnercandycorn a while back and have been saving them for #nationalspookymonth. I’m a #registereddietitian and this is my honest review as a nutrition professional. Ahem. 1/18″
  • James Gunn Trolls Facebook Users Over Never-Found GotG Easter Egg. Director James Gunn tells fans to check Facebook for a Guardians of the Galaxy Easter egg while Facebook and Instagram were down for several hours.”—”Editor’s Note: When this article was originally posted, it mistakenly labeled Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Easter egg as ‘non-existent.’ However, this is not the case. The article has since been edited and CBR regrets the mistake.”
  • ‘WandaVision’ Spinoff Starring Kathryn Hahn in the Works at Disney Plus (EXCLUSIVE)
  • ‘Awesome’ warrior queen Boudicca seen in Norfolk clouds. A photograph of a cloud formation resembling the East Anglian warrior queen Boudicca has been described as ‘awesome’, by a weather expert.”
  • Neural networks drawing Cthulhu: ““cthulhu” in r/MediaSynthesis
  • Watch “The Best-Preserved Pair of Skis from Prehistory“—”We have found the best-preserved pair of skis from prehistory! Back in 2014, the Secrets of the Ice program found an exceptional pre-Viking ski, 1300 years old, at the Digervarden Ice patch in Norway. The ski was complete, including the binding – one of only two skis from prehistory in this condition. Ever since, we have monitored the ice patch, hoping and praying for the second ski of the pair to melt out. Now it has happened! The new ski is even better preserved than the first one! It is an unbelievable find.” Also “The Best-Preserved Pair of Skis from Prehistory.”