Omnium Gatherum: 3nov2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for November 3, 2021

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

  • The Enormous Hole That Whaling Left Behind. The mass slaughter of whales destroyed far more than the creatures themselves.”—”In the 20th century, the largest animals that have ever existed almost stopped existing. Baleen whales—the group that includes blue, fin, and humpback whales—had long been hunted, but as whaling went industrial, hunts became massacres. With explosive-tipped harpoons that were fired from cannons and factory ships that could process carcasses at sea, whalers slaughtered the giants for their oil, which was used to light lamps, lubricate cars, and make margarine. In just six decades, roughly the life span of a blue whale, humans took the blue-whale population down from 360,000 to just 1,000. In one century, whalers killed at least 2 million baleen whales, which together weighed twice as much as all the wild mammals on Earth today. All those missing whales left behind an enormous amount of uneaten food. In a new study, the Stanford ecologist Matthew Savoca and his colleagues have, for the first time, accurately estimated just how much. They calculated that before industrial whaling, these creatures would have consumed about 430 million metric tons of krill—small, shrimplike animals—every year. That’s twice as much as all the krill that now exist, and twice as much by weight as all the fish that today’s fisheries catch annually. But whales, despite their astronomical appetite, didn’t deplete the oceans in the way that humans now do. Their iron-rich poop acted like manure, fertilizing otherwise impoverished waters and seeding the base of the rich food webs that they then gorged upon. When the whales were killed, those food webs collapsed, turning seas that were once rain forest–like in their richness into marine deserts. But this tragic tale doesn’t have to be ‘another depressing retrospective,’ Savoca told me. Those pre-whaling ecosystems are ‘still there—degraded, but still there.’ And his team’s study points to a possible way of restoring them—by repurposing a controversial plan to reverse climate change.”
  • “‘Dust specks’ are genome building blocks. Scientists have discovered that tiny ‘microchromosomes’ in birds and reptiles, initially thought to be specks of dust on the microscope slide, are linked to a spineless animal ancestor that lived 684 million years ago.”
  • High speed ultrafast laser anisotropic nanostructuring by energy deposition control via near-field enhancement“—”It is challenging to store the exponentially increasing amount of data in the information age. The multiplexed optical data storage with merits of high data density (hundreds of terabytes/disk), low energy consumption, and long lifetime could open a new era in data storage technology. The recent progress in five-dimensional (5D) optical data storage based on anisotropic nanostructures written by femtosecond (fs) laser pulses in transparent materials reveals its potential for real-world applications, but high writing speed and density remain a major challenge. Here, we propose a method for rapid and energy-efficient writing of highly localized anisotropic nanostructures in silica glass by energy modulated megahertz-rate fs pulses. An isotropic nanovoid is initially generated with pulse energy above the microexplosion threshold and then elongated to an anisotropic nanolamella-like structure via the near-field enhancement effect by lower energy pulses, minimizing the unwanted thermal effects from megahertz-rate fs pulses. The anisotropic nanostructures are exploited for 5D data storage with a rate of 106voxels/s, corresponding to a demonstrated fast information recording of ∼225kB/s and a potentially high-density data storage of ∼500TB/disk.” Also “High-speed laser writing method could pack 500 terabytes of data into CD-sized glass disc. Advances make high-density, 5D optical storage practical for long-term data archiving.”
  • Researchers boost human mental function with brain stimulation. A U of M Medical School study indicates this method could be a new approach to treating a variety of severe mental illnesses.”—”In a pilot human study, researchers from the University of Minnesota Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital show it is possible to improve specific human brain functions related to self-control and mental flexibility by merging artificial intelligence with targeted electrical brain stimulation.”
  • UTSW study finds potential strategy for fighting obesity. Lab safely replicates weight-loss benefits of plant linked to harmful side effects.”
  • ReSkin Could Help Researchers Discover a Sense of Touch“—”Picking up a blueberry or grape without squishing it isn’t hard, but try teaching it to a robot. The same goes for walking on ice, turning a key to unlock a door or cooking a favorite dish. When it comes to the senses, touch remains a challenge for artificial intelligence and robotics researchers. Carnegie Mellon University and Meta AI (formerly Facebook AI) hope to change that through a new tactile sensing skin they believe will increase the sense of touch in robotics, wearables, smart clothing and AI. Called ReSkin, the technology is affordable, durable and easy-to-use. It harnesses advances in machine learning, soft robotics and magnetic sensing to create a skin that is versatile and as easy to apply as a bandage.”
  • Project Kuiper announces plans and launch provider for prototype satellites“—”Amazon’s Project Kuiper will launch two satellites by Q4 2022 on ABL Space Systems’ all-new RS1 rocket.”
  • Using ocean plastic waste to power ocean cleanup ships“—”A team of researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Harvard University believes that the plastic amassing in floating islands in the oceans could be used to power the ships that are sent to clean them up. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes how ocean plastics could be converted to ship fuel.” Also check out “The Ocean Cleanup begins cleaning the Great Pacific Garbage Patch“—”The nonprofit global cleaning crew called The Ocean Cleanup, led by founder and CEO Boyan Slat, announced recently that it had reached viability of its ocean plastic-collecting System 002 technology and plans to begin cleaning plastic pollution in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch immediately while beginning development of System 003. ”
  • No-longer-facebook will no longer book faces. “Facebook Says It Will Shut Down Facial Recognition System. Some limited uses for Facebook’s facial recognition software will remain, however.” Tweet—”Make no mistake, facial recognition’s flaws aren’t news to Facebook execs. They have the data, they knew the dangers posed to POC and women, yet they still chose to put profit over people. Today’s move to shut these systems down only sweeps dirt under the rug. Don’t be fooled.”
  • Microsoft Teams enters the metaverse race with 3D avatars and immersive meetings. Microsoft and Meta are on a collision course for metaverse competition.” Everyone is a Vtuber now, or, you know, Clippy cosplayer. No, seriously: I bet there’s some MS BOB/MS Agent/Comic Chat DNA in here. If there isn’t, there should be. Also, as an aside Microsoft at one point had some patents on context-sensitive music generation, which I vaguely recall was out of Asheron’s Call development, of all places; I wonder some times what happened to that, as it seems like it would be useful stuff again too?
  • Billionaires See VR as a Way to Avoid Radical Social Change. Tech oligarchs are encouraging the creation of virtual worlds as a cheap way to avoid problems in the real one.”
  • The Great Cop Vax Mandate Apocalypse That Never Happened. The Police Benevolent Association claimed as many as 10,000 NYPD officers could resign over the vaccine mandate. It didn’t happen.”
  • Tweet—”There is currently a large crowd of what appears to be QAnon believers at the AT&T Discovery Plaza in downtown Dallas. A popular QAnon theory recently is that JFK Jr. of the Kennedy family will be making a big announcement at Dealey Plaza by the grassy knoll sometime tomorrow.” Um. JFK, jr. died in 1999. So not only do they think that Turnip is president, but that the dead will come back to make it happen. Sure, and, also, wow. Also watch “QAnuts Gather for JFK Jr’s Triumphant Return & Klan Mom Marjorie Taylor Greene Racks Up Mask Fines“—”This is like Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin, but without the charm.”
  • Warnings of violence before Jan. 6 precipitated the Capitol riot. Law enforcement agencies failed to heed mounting warnings of coming violence as Trump propelled his supporters to Washington in a last desperate attempt to overturn the election results.”
  • A Former Far-Right Extremist Testified About How ‘Unite The Right’ Rally Organizers Planned For A Racial Holy War. Samantha Froelich said she overheard white nationalists discussing ‘right-wing death squads’ for the 2017 Charlottesville rally and the legality of using cars as weapons against counterprotesters.”
  • There’s One Thing Missing from the Washington Post’s Massive January 6 Report. There is more to be discussed and digested, on the fly, because the coup is ongoing.”
  • The Radical Capitalist Behind the Critical Race Theory Furor. How a dark-money mogul bankrolled an astroturf backlash.”—”Once again, the forces of capitalism are harnessing racism to do their dirty work. More than 25 states have introduced legislation or taken other action that, backers claim, is aimed at banning “critical race theory” (CRT) from schools and government programs. Several states have already passed these bills, and discussion on this topic leads Fox News every night. The common story about this surge of action is that this is a new ‘Tea Party’ moment—a genuine uprising by grassroots Americans who are furious about CRT and demanding action from their state legislatures. But that story ignores the clear influence of a carefully built campaign by the network of radical free-market capitalist think tanks and action groups supported by billionaire businessman Charles Koch and his late brother David.”
  • Juan Williams: ‘Parents’ rights’ is code for white race politics.”
  • GOP candidate: Michael Flynn trying to run extortion plot on U.S. officials to reinstall Trump. Pennsylvania Senate candidate Everett Stern made the bombshell accusation in a press conference Saturday.”
  • How extremist Christian theology is driving the right-wing assault on democracy“—”Progressive policies and positions are supposed to be rooted in reality and hard evidence. But that’s not always the case when it comes to the culture wars that have such an enormous impact on our politics — especially not since the unexpected evangelical embrace of Donald Trump in 2016, culminating in the ‘pro-life’ death cult of anti-vaccine, COVID-denying religious leaders. If this development perplexed many on the left, it was less surprising to a small group of researchers who have been studying the hardcore anti-democratic theology known as dominionism that lies behind the contemporary Christian right, and its far-reaching influence over the last several decades.”
  • Tweet—”New: The EPA allows polluters to turn neighborhoods into ‘sacrifice zones’ where residents breathe carcinogens. ProPublica reveals where these places are in a first-of-its-kind map and data analysis.” Also “Poison in the Air. The EPA allows polluters to turn neighborhoods into ‘sacrifice zones’ where residents breathe carcinogens. ProPublica reveals where these places are in a first-of-its-kind map and data analysis.”
  • UK companies ‘must offer more to workers or face exodus’. Thinktank says higher pay, shorter working week or better benefits can help solve labour market crisis.”
  • Tweet thread—”BREAKING: #Epstein’s Paris apartment is for sale. We have matched real estate pics to photos taken by his butler Valdson Cotrin. But what did the real estate agent have to say …. ” Also “Barclays CEO Staley departs after Epstein probe.”
  • FLDS Church fined nearly $1 million in child labor case“—”U.S. District Court Judge Jill Parrish fined the church and its bishop, Lyle Jeffs, as well as the owner of a southern Utah company where hundreds of children were put to work on a farm picking pecans…”
  • Tweet thread—”Most people have heard or used the term Uncle tom when we refer to a sell-out, but did you know that the inference is totally wrong. The real Uncle Tom was a hero, Josiah Henson, was an abolitionist who helped slaves escape among other great things.” Also, from 2008, “Why African-Americans Loathe ‘Uncle Tom’. Folklorist Patricia Turner discusses “Uncle Tom” — the lead character in the anti-slavery novel ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ by abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe — as part of NPR’s In Character series. The series examines the fictional characters who have defined American life.”
  • After Black driver is handcuffed and arrested, Va. prosecutor says she never should have been pulled over. A Black Defense Department employee who was hesitant to get out of her car at 2 a.m. was pulled from the car by police, then charged with resisting arrest and eluding police. After prosecutors watched the video, all charges were dropped.” Also tweet thread—”1/ On March 6th I was illegally pulled over and dragged out of my car by a Virginia State trooper. I was arrested for DUI but blew 0.0. To retaliate, he filed false charges, towed my car, and left me without my phone or wallet in 20-degree weather. Story:”
  • Making Communities Safe, Without the Police. Effective responses to violence—preventing it, interrupting it, holding people accountable, and helping people heal—already exist. We need to learn from and invest in them.”
  • How the ‘Craigslist of Guns’ Helps Arm Cartels in Mexico. Investigators traced guns found in the border city of Reynosa back to Americans who used the website Armslist.”
  • Designing a Workflow For Thinking. We’re living in a golden age of tools for thought. But with so many options, it’s important to carve out time every year or two for a ‘creative inventory’ of how you discover and organize your ideas.”
  • Hackers threaten to out Israeli LGBTQ dating site users. A hacking group calling itself Black Shadow threatened Sunday to reveal personal details of a million users of Israeli’s leading LGBTQ dating site, an attack some cyber experts linked to Iran.”
  • Endless Nameless. Gender reconsidered as ‘vibes’.”
  • The Resurgence of Waffle Gardens Is Helping Indigenous Farmers Grow Food with Less Water. In the face of climate change and persistent droughts, a growing number of people from Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico and elsewhere are adopting the traditional farming practice.”
  • Nostradamus? Dat U? Tweet #McRibNFT
  • Tweet—”We, the workers of Image Comics, have formed a union.”
  • United Paizo Workers episode of You Had To Be There: A D&D Storytelling Podcast—”On this special episode of You Had To Be There, I sit down with two employees of Paizo, the RPG publishing company of Pathfinder and Starfinder. Jason Tondro is a Senior Developer and Alex Speidel is an Organized Play Coordinator at Paizo. However, they were also part of the driving force that led Paizo to recognize the employee’s desire to unionize, making Paizo the first-ever RPG publishing company to have a union.”
  • The History Of The Runestaff: Future Sci-Fi Fantasy From Michael Moorcock.”
  • The day Alec Baldwin shot Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza. Interviews with multiple members of the “Rust” crew paint an hour- by-hour picture of a cascade of bad decisions that created a chaotic set on which a lead bullet was put into a prop gun.”
  • Watch, from 2020, “Little Women vs. All The Other Little Women“—”Greta Gerwig’s 2019 Little Women is far from the first adaptation. With so many version out there, why make another one? In this video I compare 4 film adaptations of Little Women to show what Greta Gerwig brings to the table with her new adaptation.” About Little Women dir. Greta Gerwig, with always luminous Saoirse Ronan (and includes “Paul Atreides” and “Yelena Romanov” & many more) from, because of course it is, A24. Also, from 2019, “The Compromises of Greta Gerwig’s ‘Little Women’” and, from 2020, “How Greta Gerwig’s ‘Little Women’ Misses the Mark.” But, check out the comparison. Gerwig’s version seems leagues better than any of those others in so many ways. Also, watch “How I Wrote Little Women — Greta Gerwig’s Writing Advice“—”Greta Gerwig breaks down her process for creating the new adaption of the classic Little Women story. She talks about how she made the story come to life, while also staying true to the original text. Learn why she never outlines and why the hardest part of writing isn’t hitting pages.”
  • Speaking of A24: watch “The Beach | Official (Infinite) Trailer HD | A24″—”This Thanksgiving, spend a week at THE BEACH – a new, sensory experience from A24. Presented as a continuous week-long streaming event only in the A24 Screening Room. THE BEACH – Streaming November 22-28 only in the A24 Screening Room. RELEASE DATE: November 22-28, 2021. DIRECTOR: Warwick Thornton. CAST: Warwick Thornton, three chickens, a dog, a mud crab.”
  • And, more A24: “Lamb | Baby Ada Doll™ | Official Promo HD | A24″—”BRING HER HOME. Post a video to your Instagram feed, Twitter, or Tiktok about why you should be Ada’s primary caregiver and tag @A24 with #AdoptAda — you could win the one-of-a-kind Baby Ada Doll. Winner announced Monday, November 11 2021.”
  • Watch “Station Eleven | Official Teaser | HBO Max”—”STATION ELEVEN is a post-apocalyptic saga spanning multiple timelines. This limited drama series tells the stories of survivors of a devastating flu as they attempt to rebuild and reimagine the world anew while holding on to the best of what’s been lost. Stream STATION ELEVEN debuting December 16.” Based on Station Eleven [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Emily St John Mande—”An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse—the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.” “Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end. Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band’s existence. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed.”

  • Watch “MORBIUS – Official Trailer (HD).” Seems like this might be a complete mess.
  • Watch “Landscapers (2021) | Official Teaser | HBO”—”HBO’s four-episode limited series Landscapers, starring Emmy-winner Olivia Colman and Emmy nominee David Thewlis, debuts Monday, December 6 on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max.” Queen Elizabeth and Professor Lupin in a murder mystery?!
  • Watch “The Book of Boba Fett | Official Trailer | Disney+”—”Every galaxy has an underworld. Experience the new trailer for The Book of Boba Fett. The Original Series starts streaming December 29 on Disney+. ‘The Book of Boba Fett,’ a thrilling Star Wars adventure teased in a surprise end-credit sequence following the Season 2 finale of ‘The Mandalorian,’ finds legendary bounty hunter Boba Fett and mercenary Fennec Shand navigating the galaxy’s underworld when they return to the sands of Tatooine to stake their claim on the territory once ruled by Jabba the Hutt and his crime syndicate. ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ stars Temuera Morrison and Ming-Na Wen. Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, Robert Rodriguez, Kathleen Kennedy and Colin Wilson are the executive producers.”
  • Good Omens 2: Neil Gaiman Shares Looks at David Tennant, Michael Sheen.”
  • Zack Snyder returns to Netflix with mythology anime Twilight of the Gods. We don’t know what it’s about but we know who’s in it.”—”The Army of the Dead and Justice League director revealed the first look at his upcoming Netflix anime Twilight of the Gods, which is all about Norse mythology, during Netflix’s Geeked Week event on Thursday. Apparently the show will be Snyder’s own take on traditional mythology. Unfortunately, we don’t know anything else about the show. The one extra bit teasing we did get is an announcement of the show’s cast and the characters they’ll be playing. Among the highlights of the cast are John Noble (Lord of the Rings) as Odin, Paterson Joseph (The Beach) as Loki, Corey Stoll (Ant-Man) as Hrafnkel, Kristopher Hivju (Game of Thrones) as Andvari, Pilou Asbæk (Game of Thrones) as Thor, and Peter Stormare (Fargo) as Ulfr. Based on the characters, we can probably expect plenty of Asgardian intrigue.”
  • Tweet—”Fascinating archival find – the original internal study at CBS about how audiences actually responded to War of the Worlds. Really worth reading, almost nobody thought there was an alien invasion. People interpreted it through the prism of their personal fears.”
  • Watch, and wait for it: “An Aimsir Láithreach Oíche Shamhna 2021“—”Scéal na haimsire ar oíche Shamhna 2021. Halloween weather report 2021 on TG4.”