Omnium Gatherum: 17nov2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for November 17, 2021

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

  • The Gypsy Spiders and Other Tales of Italian Horror [Amazon, Publisher, Local Library] by Nicola Lombardi, trans. J Weintraub—”The Gypsy Spiders and Other Tales of Italian Horror is a masterpiece of Italian fiction, a must for all readers of intelligent contemporary horror. The Gypsy Spiders (I Ragni Zingari) was first published in 2010. In 2013 the collection won the Premio Polidori, one of Italy’s most prestigious horror awards. The title story merges old legends of the supernatural with the emotional devastation of World War Two, and the menacing, quasi-invisible spiders may or may not have been brought into being by the psychological stresses experienced by the family at the heart of the tale. In ‘Striges’, an anthropologist undertakes a study of witchcraft, and a group of boys look on in horror as she and her son are transformed by the power of her subject. Other stories explore the real, the uncanny and the otherworldly in chilling detail. Nicola Lombardi’s The Gypsy Spiders and Other Tales of Italian Horror have been brilliantly rendered into English by their translator, J. Weintraub.”
  • An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Kyle T Mays—”The first intersectional history of the Black and Native American struggle for freedom in our country that also reframes our understanding of who was Indigenous in early America. Beginning with pre-Revolutionary America and moving into the movement for Black lives and contemporary Indigenous activism, Afro-Indigenous historian Kyle T. Mays argues that the foundations of the US are rooted in antiblackness and settler colonialism, and that these parallel oppressions continue into the present. He explores how Black and Indigenous peoples have always resisted and struggled for freedom, sometimes together, and sometimes apart. Whether to end African enslavement and Indigenous removal or eradicate capitalism and colonialism, Mays show how the fervor of Black and Indigenous peoples calls for justice have consistently sought to uproot white supremacy. Mays uses a wide-array of historical activists and pop culture icons, “sacred” texts, and foundational texts like the Declaration of Independence and Democracy in America. He covers the civil rights movement and freedom struggles of the 1960s and 1970s, and explores current debates around the use of Native American imagery and the cultural appropriation of Black culture. Mays compels us to rethink both our history as well as contemporary debates and to imagine the powerful possibilities of Afro-Indigenous solidarity.”
  • How the Ancient Romans Went to the Bathroom. A new book by journalist Lina Zeldovich traces the management of human waste—and underscores poop’s potential as a valuable resource.” About The Other Dark Matter: The Science and Business of Turning Waste into Wealth and Health [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Lina Zeldovich—”Grossly ambitious and rooted in scientific scholarship, The Other Dark Matter shows how human excrement can be a life-saving, money-making resource—if we make better use of it. The average person produces about four hundred pounds of excrement a year. More than seven billion people live on this planet. Holy crap! Because of the diseases it spreads, we have learned to distance ourselves from our waste, but the long line of engineering marvels we’ve created to do so—from Roman sewage systems and medieval latrines to the immense, computerized treatment plants we use today—has also done considerable damage to the earth’s ecology. Now scientists tell us: we’ve been wasting our waste. When recycled correctly, this resource, cheap and widely available, can be converted into a sustainable energy source, act as an organic fertilizer, provide effective medicinal therapy for antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection, and much more. In clear and engaging prose that draws on her extensive research and interviews, Lina Zeldovich documents the massive redistribution of nutrients and sanitation inequities across the globe. She profiles the pioneers of poop upcycling, from startups in African villages to innovators in American cities that convert sewage into fertilizer, biogas, crude oil, and even life-saving medicine. She breaks taboos surrounding sewage disposal and shows how hygienic waste repurposing can help battle climate change, reduce acid rain, and eliminate toxic algal blooms. Ultimately, she implores us to use our innate organic power for the greater good. Don’t just sit there and let it go to waste.”
  • Iconicon: A Journey Around the Landmark Buildings of Contemporary Britain [Amazon UK, Bookshop UK, Publisher, Local Library] John Grindrod, due March 2022—”Barratt homes. Spectacular skyscrapers. Millennium monuments. City centre apartments. Out of town malls. These icons of our age, be they modest or monumental, present us with a living history of Britain. They are both symbols of the ways we have lived, and reminders of the political, financial and social forces that have shaped our modern landscape. In Iconicon, John Grindrod takes us on a captivating journey around these landmark buildings, from 1980 to the present day. Along the way he encounters the architects and planners of these national icons, as well as the people who have lived and worked within their walls. From the Right to Buy to Generation Rent, and from postmodernist exuberance to Passivhaus eco efficiency, this is at once a revelatory architectural grand tour and an endlessly engaging and witty piece of social history.”
  • Neal Stephenson on his new geoengineering climate change thriller and coining the term ‘metaverse’. Neal Stephenson talks about his new science-fiction novel, ‘Termination Shock,’ which features the radical step of geoengineering as a way to stall global warming. He also responds to the sudden widespread usage of the term ‘metaverse,’ which he coined in his 1992 novel, ‘Snow Crash.'” About Termination Shock [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Neil Stephenson—”From Neal Stephenson — who coined the term ‘metaverse’ in his 1992 novel Snow Crash — comes a sweeping, prescient new thriller that transports readers to a near-future world in which the greenhouse effect has inexorably resulted in a whirling-dervish troposphere of superstorms, rising sea levels, global flooding, merciless heat waves, and virulent, deadly pandemics. One man – visionary billionaire restaurant chain magnate T. R. Schmidt, Ph.D. – has a Big Idea for reversing global warming, a master plan perhaps best described as ‘elemental.’ But will it work? And just as important, what are the consequences for the planet and all of humanity should it be applied? Ranging from the Texas heartland to the Dutch royal palace in the Hague, from the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas to the sunbaked Chihuahuan Desert, Termination Shock brings together a disparate group of characters from different cultures and continents who grapple with the real-life repercussions of global warming. Ultimately, it asks the question: Might the cure be worse than the disease? Epic in scope while heartbreakingly human in perspective, Termination Shock sounds a clarion alarm, ponders potential solutions and dire risks, and wraps it all together in an exhilarating, witty, mind-expanding speculative adventure.” And, of course, Snow Crash [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]. Also “Neal Stephenson Predicted the Metaverse. His New Book Imagines Something Even Stranger. Is Termination Shock a prediction, a warning, or a prescription?”
  • Tales That Linger in Your Mind and Take up Residency in Your Soul. Our crime fiction columnist assesses three riveting new novels and an emotionally devastating short-story collection.”
  • ‘We’re Preparing For a Long Battle.’ Librarians Grapple With Conservatives’ Latest Efforts to Ban Books.” Also “Teachers & parents rip school board to shreds for suggesting a public book burning. ‘If you have a worldview that can be undone by a novel, let me suggest that the problem is not the novel.'” Also “Banning, criminalizing, maybe even burning books is back for public schools in Texas, Virginia, elsewhere.”
  • Micropoetries article at Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature—”‘Micropoetries’ is a self-eroding category initiated in academic poetry scholarship in the 1990s to address a perceived crisis in poetry audiences, with an implicit argument that the term “poetry” needed to be widened to account for phenomena beyond the poetry found in academic and writerly, high-literary discourse. While the referents of the term may shift over time and in response to cultural and social change, and while the term itself was intended somewhat provisionally, it can still open up the possibility for discussing para-literary materials as poetry, that is, aesthetically and socially meaningful artifacts. It refers positively to half-formed, degraded, or ephemeral verbal phenomena, or writing produced by abjected persons—for example, ‘outsider writing,’ prison or other poetry arising from incarcerated subjects, writing by children—or poetry by non-poets. The concept is indebted to multiple intellectual traditions, but primarily those of the Russian formalists, the Birmingham School of Cultural Studies, Walter Benjamin as a kind of outlier Frankfurt School philosopher, cultural ethnographers such as Mark Slobin and Lila Abu-Lughod, and poets as well as poetry scholars working at the limits of their disciplines. Phenomena such as ‘outsider writing,’ ecopoetics, the Human Microphone (the oral relay system that characterized communication at the Occupy movement sites in 2011–2012), and Scottish insults directed at Donald Trump via Twitter are explored as examples. Pedagogical use can be made of the concept to both widen students’ opportunities for encountering “the poetic” in everyday life and to pressure them to clarify and revise what they consider poetry to be. Contemplation of the category ‘micropoetries’ gives rise to contemplation of its complement, ‘macropoetries,’ or phenomena that, because of their durational properties, challenge the notion of mastery through analysis, forcing the consideration that poetry and poetics reside at the breakdown seam of analysis and experience, or where ‘the beautiful’ meets ‘the sublime.'”
  • An ‘earthgrazer’ flew ‘a whopping 186 miles’ over 2 states — then vanished, NASA says“—”A space object with an intimidating name — ‘earthgrazer’ — zoomed over Georgia and Alabama this week, offering witnesses a glimpse of something rare, NASA says. ‘Earthgrazers’ are fireball meteors with a trajectory so shallow that they skim long distances across the upper atmosphere, NASA says. ‘Very rarely, they even ‘bounce off’ the atmosphere and head back out into space,’ NASA Meteor Watch wrote on Facebook. The fireball appeared Tuesday, Nov. 9, around 6:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, officials say, and was ‘detected by three NASA meteor cameras in the region.’ It entered the atmosphere ‘at a very shallow angle — only 5 degrees from the horizontal.’ In fact, it was flying for so long that NASA had to recalculate its data to determine how far it traveled across the planet.”
  • Ferris wheel-size asteroid could be a lost piece of the moon“—”A near-Earth asteroid may be a fragment that once broke away from the moon. Named Kamo’oalewa, which derives from a Hawaiian creation chant that alludes to an offspring traveling on its own, the quasi-satellite was first discovered in 2016 by astronomers using the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii. Pan-STARRS is short for Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System.” Also “Asteroid the size of Disney castle may be piece of Earth’s Moon – study. The asteroid known as Kamoʻoalewa is the planet’s most stable quasi-satellite, and is the closest thing to a second moon. But now scientists think it may be a piece of the Moon itself.” Also “Near-Earth asteroid is a fragment from the moon, say scientists. Spectrum of reflected light from Kamo`oalewa closely matches lunar rocks from Nasa’s Apollo mission.”
  • In other news: “NASA warns that massive asteroid is headed towards Earth – but there’s no need to panic. The rock, named 4660 Nereus. will pass earth on 11 December.”
  • Northrop Grumman Announces Team for NASA’s Next-Generation Lunar Terrain Vehicle. Highly specialized team to design vehicle for sustainable lunar surface mobility operations.” Watch “Introducing the Northrop Grumman Lunar Terrain Vehicle Team“—”Northrop Grumman and its partners AVL, Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost and Michelin are designing a new vehicle that will greatly expand and enhance human and robotic exploration of the Moon, and ultimately, Mars.”
  • NASA Mars rover roughs up a rock, peers at ‘something no one’s ever seen’. Perseverance also spots a wonderfully triangular white speck after it goes to work on the layered rock.”
  • Gods damnit, Jeff! “Nasa bumps moon landing back to 2025 at the earliest. Agency says funding issues, along with delays tied to Bezos legal challenge, will push back first landing in a half century.”
  • New Mineral Discovered in Deep-Earth Diamond. The surprising find has never shown up in nature before and reveals secrets about the earth’s mantle.”—”A diamond that formed deep in the earth’s mantle contains a mineral never seen before in nature. The discovery is a rare glimpse into the deep mantle and may help reveal new information about the structure of the planet at depths of more than 660 kilometers. This, in turn, can help geologists better understand how the mantle controls the earth’s plate tectonics. The mineral, calcium silicate perovskite, only forms under the incredibly high pressures that occur deep in the earth.”
  • More on this: “Earth’s first continents emerged from the ocean 700m years earlier than thought. Ancient rock forms suggest world’s first stable cratons rose above sea level more than 3bn years ago.”
  • Gravitational wave treasure trove shows black holes, neutron stars colliding“—”Scientists have released the largest catalog of gravitational wave detections to date, shedding new light on interactions between the most massive objects in the universe, black holes and neutron stars. The catalog was compiled by three groundbreaking detectors: the two Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors located in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana, and the European Virgo gravitational wave antenna in Pisa, Italy. The catalog contains 35 new gravitational wave events, ripples in spacetime predicted by Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity in 1916. The latest batch of detections, made during a measurement campaign that began in November 2019 and ended abruptly in March 2020 due to the spread of COVID-19, brings the total number of gravitational wave events detected so far to 90.” Also “Record-breaking ‘tsunami’ of gravitational waves detected
  • Sensors show tropical heat stress conditions approaching upper limits of human survivability“—”A team of researchers affiliated with Monash University and one with Hasanuddin University in Indonesia has found that some people living in tropical regions are already living under conditions of heat stress that are approaching the upper limits of human survivability.”
  • Catastrophic flood warning issued for Sumas Prairie as pump system set to fail. Tens of thousands of dairy cows at risk of drowning and hundreds of thousands of chickens.”
  • Paralysed mice walk again after gel is injected into spinal cord. A self-assembling gel that stimulates nerve regeneration has shown promise as a treatment for paralysis in mice.”
  • Good news! It’s not all venomous sharks! Also, zombies can come back! “Zombie river? London’s Thames, once biologically dead, has been coming back to life“—”In 1858, sewage clogging London’s Thames River caused a “Great Stink.” A century later, parts of the famed waterway were declared biologically dead. But the latest report on ‘The State of the Thames’ is sounding a surprisingly optimistic note. The river today is “home to myriad wildlife as diverse as London itself,” Andrew Terry, the director of conservation and policy at the Zoological Society of London, writes in a forward to the report published Wednesday.” Also “Fears death toll will rise after Pacific north-west storm. Record rainfall destroys highways and leaves tens of thousands in US and Canada without power.”
  • I felt a great disturbance in the Force … “Honeybees make a chilling warning noise when attacked by hive-destroying murder hornets“—”‘I feel a visceral reaction when I hear them because it is clear that the bees are agitated,’ said Heather Mattila, an associate professor at Wellesley College’s department of biological sciences, who was part of a team of scientists that identified the warning noise. She described the warning signal, known as an ‘antipredator pipe,’ as harsh and noisy, with different durations and pitches similar to the shrieks, screams and panic calls used by mammals like primates and meerkats when they are afraid. ‘Individual pipes are of different durations, but workers string many of them together into longer signals. They change pitch a lot too, and in an irregular way, which makes them stand out.'” There’s embedded audio at the bottom of the article. Also watch—”Asian honeybees scream in alarm when giant hornets attack the hive.”
  • SAINT: Hope for new treatment of depression“—”‘This is a brain emergency,’ he said, ‘and we need to meet this with a really significant intervention.’ He was running a trial for an experimental treatment using targeted magnetic stimulation. It’s called SAINT, which stands for Stanford Accelerated Intelligent Neuromodulation Therapy.”
  • Tea and coffee may be linked to lower risk of stroke and dementia – study. Research looking at 365,000 people aged 50-74 finds moderate consumption could have health benefits.”
  • Thanks to Medical Technology, the Black Prince’s Tomb Reveals Its Secrets. Researchers used advanced technology to discover how the effigy of Edward of Woodstock was crafted more than 600 years ago.”
  • Synthetic biology yields easy-to-use underwater adhesives. Researchers cherry-picked properties from the animal world to develop a biocompatible, adhesive gel.”—”Researchers a the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis have developed a method that uses engineered microbes to produce the necessary ingredients for a biocompatible adhesive hydrogel that is as strong as spider silk and as adhesive as mussel foot protein (Mfp), which means it can stick to a myriad of surfaces underwater.”
  • You can’t hide from your cat, so don’t even try. Cats create ‘mental maps’ using audio cues, scientists have discovered.” Also “Cats found to track owner’s movements even when they cannot see them“—”A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Japan, has found that cats keep track of where people are in their homes even when they cannot see them. In their paper published in PLOS ONE, the group describes experiments they conducted with cats and recordings of voices and what they learned from them. Anecdotal evidence has suggested that cats are generally ambivalent to the activities that go on around them when living with humans. Exceptions tend to occur around feeding time. In this new effort, the researchers had a hunch that cats are more interested in their human caretakers than has been assumed. To find out if that might be the case, they carried out a series of experiments that involved placing cats in enclosures fitted with speakers, piping in sounds and observing the cats’ reaction.” “In looking at their data, the researchers found that the cats appeared to express surprise when hearing the voice of their owner first inside the enclosure [then] suddenly outside of it—an event that suggested the human had suddenly teleported instantly from one location to another. That the cats appeared surprised suggested that they were keeping track of where the human was supposed to be by building a mental map of their surroundings, which included the humans that lived with them.” Also “Cats can track your ‘invisible presence’ using only their ears“—”While you’re rummaging through cabinets and crevices trying to find your cat’s new favorite hiding spot, cats may be keeping mental tabs on you, too. A new study out of Japan found that a stationary cat can track its owner’s location using audio cues — specifically, the owner’s voice.”
  • Praise Sekhmet! “Cheers! Scientists have developed gene-edited barley that could better your beer. Using CRISPR/Cas9 technology, scientists develop and study gene-edited barley that resists pre-harvest sprouting.”
  • Brain Changes During A Unique Spiritual Practice Called Orgasmic Meditation. In a first-ever study, a unique spiritual practice called orgasmic meditation, has been found to produce a distinctive pattern of brain function.”
  • Facebook’s new academic research API opens in early access“—”When it comes to who gets access to Facebook data and how, the company now known as Meta is still feeling reverberations from 2018’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which a political consulting firm harvested the personal data of millions of unaware Facebook users to build detailed profiles on potential voters. The company shut down thousands of APIs in the three years that followed and is only now beginning to restore broad access for academic research.”
  • What Facebook knew about its Latino-aimed disinformation problem. Facebook has long emphasized the strength of its efforts to contain misinformation targeted at Latinos and Spanish speakers. A whistleblower’s leaks show employees raising alarms about the problem.”
  • INSIGHT-AI surveillance takes U.S. prisons by storm. U.S. prisons are installing AI-powered surveillance to fight crime, documents seen by the Thomson Reuters Foundation show, but critics say privacy rights are being trampled.” Tweet—”We obtained thousands of pages of documents from prisons & jails which use ‘Verus,’ a surveillance tool powered by Amazon’s Natural Language Processing system—it’s being used used to spy on millions of phone calls around the US.”
  • Israeli Spyware Firm NSO Group Could Soon Be Spilling Its Secrets. A judge is letting the case against the Israeli spyware firm NSO Group move to discovery, which could reveal the inner workings of the secretive surveillance group.”
  • Facebook, now Meta, just got hit with its first major lawsuit since a whistleblower exposed a trove of internal documents. Ohio’s Attorney General is suing Meta, alleging it misled the public and cost investors billions. The suit says the company violated federal securities laws by failing to disclose its harm to young users. Lawsuits like this remain a bigger risk for Meta than potential regulation from Congress.” 
  • Activision shareholder group calls for Bobby Kotick and board members’ resignation. Washington Post reports letter to board says Kotick failed to act.”—”A group of Activision Blizzard shareholders are calling for the resignation of the company’s CEO, Bobby Kotick, and two long-serving members of its board of directors, a day after the Wall Street Journal reported that Kotick was aware of sexual assault and misconduct allegations that he did not disclose to the board.”
  • Peter Jackson Selling Weta Digital’s VFX Tech Division to Unity for $1.625 Billion“—”Within Weta, at first there was ‘almost an apprehension’ about making its tools available to the wider market, Akkaraju said. But that was outweighed by what he said has been Weta’s goal of inspiring other creators: ‘We’re Jimi Hendrix, and now we’re selling guitars. We think this world has many, many more Jimi Hendrixes.'” Also, as a reminder, Unity was the tech that powered the innovative “volume” that was used to create the in-camera background VFX for The Mandalorian show. Of course, the article also name drops “metaverse”.
  • Stanford course allows students to learn about virtual reality while fully immersed in VR environments. The innovative classroom experience lets students directly experience the wide-ranging possibilities of virtual reality as a cutting-edge medium.”—”Teaching Virtual People entirely in VR has proven timely given the intense interest by companies, such as Facebook, in the ‘metaverse’ – shared virtual world environments where, for instance, users immerse themselves into a multi-dimensional digital version of the internet. ‘Our class is the metaverse,’ said Bailenson. ‘It is the perfect example of how to build the infrastructure – hardware, software, content and people – and to build a persistent virtual world of avatars and scenes that people actually use.'”
  • FDA Authorizes Marketing of Virtual Reality System for Chronic Pain Reduction“—”The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today authorized marketing of EaseVRx, a prescription-use immersive virtual reality (VR) system that uses cognitive behavioral therapy and other behavioral methods to help with pain reduction in patients 18 years of age and older with diagnosed chronic lower back pain.”
  • Inside Reality Labs Research: Meet the team that’s working to bring touch to the digital world“—”magine working on a virtual 3D puzzle with a friend’s ultra-realistic 3D avatar. As you pick up a virtual puzzle piece from the table, your fingers automatically stop moving as you feel it within your grasp. You feel the sharpness of the cardboard’s edges and the smoothness of its surface as you hold it up for closer inspection, followed by a satisfying snap as you fit it into place. Now imagine sitting down to work at a café and having a virtual screen and keyboard appear in front of you. The virtual keyboard conforms to the size of your hands and the space you have available, and it’s easily personalized to suit your preferences. You can feel the click of each keystroke, as well as the edges of the virtual keys on your fingertips, making it as easy as typing on a perfectly-sized physical keyboard.”
  • It’s totally a fad. Welcome to the iCyberMetaverse+ “Unity moves robotics design and training to the metaverse.”
  • The meaning of the ‘metaverse,’ and all the terms you need to understand it“—”Understanding the metaverse is complicated, especially because it doesn’t exist yet. Since companies like Epic Games, Nvidia, Microsoft, and Facebook (I mean, ‘Meta’), won’t stop talking about it, there’s an evolving lexicon to describe the next iteration of the internet. In that spirit, Quartz compiled a vocabulary list for the metaverse-curious reader.” 
  • Tweet—”Some said an open-world experience this immersive wasn’t possible. But it’s already here. And you don’t even need silly VR headsets. Introducing, Icelandverse #icelandverse.” Also “Iceland Skewers Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse With New Tourism Ad. The Icelandverse looks much more enjoyable than Facebook’s imaginary metaverse.”
  • A 2nd person has been ‘naturally’ cured of HIV without medical intervention, scientists say. A woman in Argentina has been declared cured of HIV without getting a stem-cell transplant. The first report of someone being naturally cured of HIV happened only last year. Two others, the ‘Berlin Patient’ and the ‘London Patient,’ were cured after stem-cell transplants.” Also “A second HIV patient may have been ‘cured’ of infection without stem cell treatment, in extremely rare case.”
  • A man hospitalized with mysterious seizures was diagnosed with tapeworms that had been living in his brain for decades. A man suffering from seizures, disorientation, and “speaking gibberish” had tapeworms in his brain. Doctors in the new case study said he had carried the parasites for years without symptoms. Parasites are uncommon for most people, and good hygiene and proper cooking can prevent them.”
  • A Huge Flu Outbreak in Michigan May Be a Sign of Things to Come This Winter. Over 500 people at the University of Michigan have recently come down with influenza, with a large majority of cases being unvaccinated.”
  • Where will the next pandemic begin? The Amazon rainforest offers troubling clues. Deforestation is erasing the line between humans and wild animals — and increasing the chances of the next global pandemic.”
  • Covid Gets Even Redder. The partisan gap in deaths has grown larger.” Also “Red America is now dying from COVID-19 at a clearly higher rate than blue America.”
  • Boosters give over 90% protection against symptomatic COVID-19 in adults over 50.”
  • Michael Flynn to QAnon Believers: I’m Not a Satanist! Michael Flynn is finding out the hard way that surrounding himself with QAnon followers can have a pretty sharp downside.”—”The bizarre YouTube interview marked Flynn’s latest attempt in a weeks-long campaign to convince his one-time fans in the QAnon conspiracy theory movement that he isn’t a Satanist. Prior to the unusual controversy, Flynn had embraced his position as a hero to supporters of QAnon, taking a QAnon oath, raising money from QAnon believers, and selling QAnon T-shirts. In May, Flynn even appeared at a QAnon conference and endorsed the idea of a military coup. But QAnon fame is a fickle thing. After promoting QAnon for more than a year, Flynn now finds himself on the business end of the conspiracy theory. Like QAnon targets before him, Flynn is now struggling to persuade angry QAnon believers that he isn’t a secret Satan-worshipper.” Also tweet—”I did a video comparison of I AM / Church Universal Triumphant cult leader Elizabeth Clare Prophet in 1984 and Mike Flynn in 2021. It’s verbatim the same. He just changed ‘I AM’ to ‘WE WILL'” Also “Trump ally Michael Flynn condemned over call for ‘one religion’ in US. Religious freedom is enshrined in first amendment. Ilhan Omar: ‘These people hate the US constitution’. Also “Attending Michael Flynn’s call for ‘one religion,’ a who’s who of the new Christian right. A Texas megachurch was host to the latest Pentecostal God and country ‘Stop the steal’ and anti-vaccine rally — on a series of events drawing crowds around the country.”
  • Clark County man pleads guilty to voting more than once in 2020 election“—”A Clark County man prominently featured by local and national Republicans as having evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 election pleaded guilty on Tuesday to voting more than once during the same election, after using his deceased wife’s ballot to vote a second time.” “Kierny also described Hartle’s actions as a ‘cheap political stunt’ that backfired and showed that ‘our voting system actually works.'”
  • Rittenhouse defense incorrectly claims iPad pinch-to-zoom modifies footage. The judge demonstrated a lack of technical knowledge.” Also “Judge in Kyle Rittenhouse trial makes inappropriate Asian food joke.” Also “EXPLAINER: Rittenhouse selects numbers of dismissed jurors.” Also “‘Piece of theater’: Legal experts weigh in on Kyle Rittenhouse’s seating jurors deciding his fate by lottery. The defendant was put in the odd position of picking the Kenosha panel randomly.”
  • More on this: “A suspected Bay Area Capitol rioter says he fought off hogs, snakes to get asylum in Belarus“—”Neumann says in the interview that after four months of residing in Ukraine, he was surveilled by the Security Service of Ukraine, or SBU, and claimed he was facing ‘political persecution’ by Ukrainian officials. He allegedly traversed deep forests and swamps and fended off wild hogs and snakes, reported Vice, before arriving in Belarus and seeking asylum. Belarus does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S.” But were they 30-50 feral hogs?!
  • How Utah Republicans ‘weaponized’ redistricting. Expert calls new congressional map a ‘brutal gerrymander’ that locks Democrats out of power for a decade.” Also tweet—”Ohio Republicans have proposed yet another extreme congressional gerrymander that makes a total mockery of the 2018 redistricting reform amendment.”
  • Racial covenants, a relic of the past, are still on the books across the country“—”What Selders found was a racially restrictive covenant in the Prairie Village Homeowners Association property records that says, ‘None of said land may be conveyed to, used, owned, or occupied by negroes as owners or tenants.’ The covenant applied to all 1,700 homes in the homeowners association, she said.”
  • Watch “Inside America’s last whites-only church“—”In rural Minnesota, a fringe Heathen group known as the Asatru Folk Assembly has purchased a local church – and membership is strictly whites-only. They worship Nordic, pre-Christian gods and they call themselves a ‘folk religion’ that only accepts those with northern European ancestry. Their racially exclusive ideology is protected by the first amendment. Amudalat Ajasa visits the church to understand how it is gaining influence across the country and to meet the anti-racist Heathens fighting back to reclaim their religion.” Commenter: “Anyone that believes this is the ‘last whites-only church’ has never been to the rural South.”
  • Socially transmitted tics makes me think of the Salem witch trials: “‘The unknown is scary’: why young women on social media are developing Tourette’s-like tics. Doctors have been surprised to see young adults developing tics and seizures that usually start in childhood. Social media has been blamed, but the reality is more complicated.”
  • Homer Plessy’s Arrest in 1892 Led to a Landmark Ruling. Now He May Get Justice. His legacy is tied to a Supreme Court decision that upheld the “separate but equal” doctrine, underpinning laws that segregated and disenfranchised African Americans for decades.”
  • French Catholics agree to sell property to compensate abuse victims.”
  • From the The Rebel Jesus dept: “Texas Democrat candidate Matthew Dowd says Jesus today ‘would be accused of being woke’. Matthew Dowd is seeking his party’s nomination to take on Republican Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.”
  • They Say Colleges Are Censorious. So They Are Starting a New One. The founders of the University of Austin say they want to defend intellectual dissent, and declare that something in higher education is fundamentally broken.” Also tweet—”Joe Lonsdale, Co-founder of Palantir, is founding a university dedicated to “free thought” – a Libertarian indoctrination campus essentially. These vanity projects have acted as points of ideological consolidation for the libertarian right wing since the Hoover institute.” Also Tweet—”U of Chicago Chancellor resigns from advisory position at proposed IDW university in Austin: “the new university made a number of statements about higher education in general, largely quite critical, that diverged very significantly from my own views.” Tweet—”My goodness, it’s all just collapsing at the University of Austin.” Tweet—”By mutual & amicable agreement, effective immediately, I’m stepping off the Ship of Theseus at U of Asshats #URAsshats to spend more time with my cats, books, Satan, & spells.”
  • Taylor Swift’s ‘All Too Well’ and the Weaponization of Memory. The new 10-minute version of a bitter breakup song from 2012 luxuriates in its details and its supersize length, correcting a power imbalance in the relationship it describes.”
  • The soundtrack for Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop hits streaming platforms on November 19th. Chill beats to hunt bounties to.”—”The early reaction to Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop has been mixed, but there’s one thing that everyone seems to agree on: the soundtrack is killer. Yoko Kanno, who gave the original anime its distinctive jazzy songs, returned as composer on the Netflix series, while her band the Seatbelts performed the tracks. The soundtrack includes a few original songs along with rerecorded classics. Thankfully, it’ll also be available to listen to outside of the show very soon. Netflix revealed that the soundtrack will be on streaming services — that includes Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, Amazon, and Tidal — starting November 19th, the same day the 10-episode series lands on Netflix.”
  • ‘Star Wars’ Spinoff ‘Rogue Squadron’ Delayed Due to Patty Jenkins’ Scheduling Conflict.” Also “Star Wars: Rogue Squadron Being Canceled Permanently?
  • ‘Vulcan’s Hammer’: Francis Lawrence Directs Film Version Of Philip K. Dick Novel In Works From New Republic“—”New Republic Pictures, Francis Lawrence’s about:blank and Electric Shepherd Productions are teaming to adapt Philip K. Dick’s novel Vulcan’s Hammer for the big screen, with Hunger Games sequels helmer Lawrence set to direct. Brian Oliver and Bradley Fischer of New Republic will produce alongside Lawrence and Cameron MacConomy from about:blank, and Isa Dick Hackett from Electric Shepherd. Vulcan’s Hammer is set after a devastating world war, when the 70 nations of Earth form the Unity Party cede global governance to the Vulcan AI system, which algorithmically dictates policies for Unity to carry out. But after Vulcan is attacked and a special agent is murdered, Unity director William Barris is called to unravel the mystery to figure out who — or what — wants to destroy the system to which he has dedicated his life.”
  • ‘Studio 666’: Top Secret Horror-Comedy from Foo Fighters and ‘Hatchet III’ Director BJ McDonnell Hits Theaters February 25, 2022!“—”This past March Bloody Disgusting exclusively told you all that Foo Fighters, the incredibly popular rock band fronted by former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, is starring in a brand new horror-comedy that was being shopped to buyers. Filmed in secret during the pandemic, we also revealed that Hatchet III director BJ McDonnell took the reigns on the film that allegedly features a bunch of all-star cameos. Deadline confirms our breaking news today with a report that Open Road Films has acquired the film, titled Studio 666, which will be released in theaters on February 25, 2022. As for the plot, what we’re learning is that the band is haunted during a recording session and become possessed. ‘Think A Hard Day’s Night of the Living Dead, with laughs among the scares and splatter,’ described the site.” Also “Foo Fighters Announce New Horror Comedy Movie Studio 666. ‘Be ready to laugh, scream, and headbang in your popcorn. Studio 666 will fuck you up.’—Dave Grohl”
  • Watch “Stranger Things 4 | Welcome to California | Netflix – YouTube.”
  • You Can’t Understand Squid Game Without Understanding the Korean Concept Driving It“—”But to really understand the full power of the show, you also have to understand han, a uniquely Korean concept that can be loosely translated to a form of intense grief and unresolved resentment.” Also “When a Track Suit Embodies a Nation. Beyond their global appeal, the iconic outfits from “Squid Game” reveal a link to the history and culture of South Korea.”
  • The Architecture of Prisons Is Everywhere We Look. Buildings’ design communicates the values of a society. In contemporary American architecture, those values appear closer to control and surveillance than openness and enjoyment for all.”
  • Frida Kahlo’s ‘Diego y yo’ breaks records, sells for $34.9 million. Kahlo’s intense 1949 self-portrait is now the most expensive Latin American artwork sold at an auction.”
  • Supposedly was planned for 2019, but still on the way: “Thieves’ World | Abby Normal Games”—”Additonally everything in Abby Normal Publishing’s Thieves’ World® products will be canon and there will be never before published canonic material.” “The combination of the very nature Thieves’ World®’s origin, it being an anthology by top flight writers, and with the first anthology of the series being made into a role-playing game adventure setting (for nine different game systems no less) as the beginning of the anthology series began, has made it a prime setting for people seeing it as fertile ground for self-styled stories of adventure. It’s a reasonable statement that few other fantasy series have lent themselves as fitting for a role-playing game setting as the Thieves’ World® Universe!”
  • With movie theaters struggling, AMC gets into popcorn business“—”As cinemas continue to struggle, AMC Entertainment wants to sell its popcorn outside the theaters. The world’s biggest movie theater chain said Thursday it will begin selling its popcorn at malls, supermarkets, and convenience stores in the US next year, both as a freshly popped option and in microwaveable packages.” “Moving into the multibillion-dollar popcorn market ‘is natural and logical [for AMC], one wonders why the idea has not been tried before,’ said Adam Aron, CEO of AMC, in a press release. The move will help the world’s largest movie theater chain target new audiences and diversify its revenue streams.”
  • Watch “Harry Potter stars will reunite for 20th anniversary special. To celebrate 20 years since the release of the first Harry Potter film, stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint will be reuniting for an upcoming anniversary special on HBO Max.” Also “20 years later, and streaming Harry Potter is still too complicated. Harry Potter and the Absolute Mess of Streaming Platforms.” Also “‘Harry Potter’ & the problematic creator – What’s left for a fandom raised on false tolerance? ‘Harry Potter’ fans are faced with trying to separate art from artist after a live-action series is rumored.” Also “JK Rowling will not be part of Harry Potter reunion special. Here’s why.
  • The rise of TikTok voice: How Gen Z has adopted the ‘affected, theatrical drawl’ of the Mid-Atlantic accent used by Harry Styles and Gillian Anderson because it suggests ‘power and status’. TikTok users often speak in a drawl that is half-English and half-American. Experts said social media users ‘deliberately put on’ the accent to ‘signal status’. Said the accent originated from the era of ‘talkies’ (sound films) in the 1920s. Revealed TikTok users ‘may be trying to tap into the status and power that come hand-in-hand with sounding mid-Atlantic’.”—”Historically, the mid-Atlantic accent denoted class, status and education during the era of ‘talkies’ (sound films) in the 1920s, and became known as the ‘movie accent’ due to its prominence in Hollywood films. Back then, this accent was a consciously taught, and learned, blend of BRP and the Standard American accent, and it became popular on the radio, in cinemas and theater: everyone from newsreel narrators to Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn are famous to this day for using this accent.” “The so-called Mid-Atlantic accent actually wasn’t an accent at all, but an affectation concocted by a Canadian elocutionist.” “By the the mid 1910s, [Edith] Skinner moved to Los Angeles and by the 1930s she was the go-to advisor for speech in Hollywood. Her 1942 book ‘Speak with Distinction’ laid out her idea of ‘Good Speech’ – an accent that is ‘free from regional characteristics,’ ‘effortlessly articulated and easily understood in the last rows of the theater’. The point of Good Speech was to eliminate regionalized accents, to create one a neutral American sound. The accent was thought to be in response to silent film stars like Clara Bow whose Brooklyn accent was jarring when talkies came about.” There’s also a bit in the extras for Star Wars where Carrie Fisher talks about deciding to use RP for Leia originally, I recall. So now TikTik is going to sound like Leia!
  • French bring back teaching of Latin and ancient Greek to schools“—”France has announced plans to boost the teaching of the classics in schools in an initiative that supporters say will counter wokeism and reinforce the European Union. Jean-Michel Blanquer, the education minister, was joined by his counterparts from Italy, Greece and Cyprus in signing a charter pledging a ‘global and international strategy for the promotion and development of Latin and ancient Greek’.” I applaud the effort, but not the tacked on “anti-woke” part of the reason.
  • The Myth of the Classically Educated Elite“—”I’ve accepted that my course of education was unusual and maybe a bit misguided, but I’m proud of it, and proud of the benefits it’s given me: the wisdom, knowledge, and insight. None of that is up for debate. But what interests me the most is the fact that I was so fully in the grip of this illusion. In my mind, long before I started reading the Classics, I was certain, dead certain, that this is what everybody in the elite was doing. Where did this idea come from? How could I have been so incorrect?”
  • An Antarctic penguin ends up on New Zealand shore, roughly 2,000 miles from home“—”A beach in Christchurch, New Zealand, had an unexpected visitor this week — a penguin that had traveled roughly 2,000 miles from its native Antarctica. The bird is known as an Adélie penguin and is the classic black and white tuxedo-looking one. This instance appears to be only the third time that an Adélie penguin has come up to New Zealand’s shores. The first sighting was a dead penguin found in 1962; a live bird was spotted in 1993.”
  • From the Wednesday dept: “The Addams Family Director Details How Christina Ricci Changed the Film’s Ending“—”The storyline had so many twists and turns that director Barry Sonnenfeld wasn’t even sure what the best way to handle the ending would be, with him recently detailing the ways in which young star Christina Ricci ended up being the most insightful member of the production who helped guide them down the right path.” “Despite her age, Sonnenfeld noted how integral Ricci was to the entire process, admitting, ‘Whenever the cast had a problem they would go to Christina Ricci because she was the most articulate and intellectually gifted of any castmember.'”