Omnium Gatherum: 19jan2022

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for January 19, 2022.

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

  • Tweet—”btw if MLK and anne frank hadn’t been killed, they’d both be 93 today (younger than betty white). i think it’s important to see pictures of them in color as a reminder that ‘history’ was not very long ago.”
  • Nikole Hannah-Jones Gives ‘1619 Project’ Critics The MLK Tribute They Deserve. ‘The 1619 Project’ author read excerpts from King’s speeches without telling anyone that she was doing so, leading the audience to think King’s words were hers.” Thread—”I was invited to give an MLK speech today and a small number of members of the group hosting me wrote and then leaked emails opposing my giving this speech, as it dishonored Dr. King for me to do so. They called me a ‘discredited activist’ ‘unworthy of such association with King'” “Dr. King was a radical critic of racism, capitalism and militarism. He didn’t die. He was assassinated. And many, including Regan, fought the national holiday we’re not commemorating. If you haven’t read, in entirety, his speeches, you’ve been miseducated & I hope that you will.”
  • “Join Jim and Susie Malcolm’s Zoom concert. An audience with Robert Burns & his long-suffering wife Jean Armour. “Well Rabbie,” choked Jean, “this certainly Burns.” Songs and poems, chat, laughter, rousing choruses, haggis, whisky, Tam o’Shanter, slideshows, a special film & a little dressing up. Sunday January 23 @ 4pm PT; 5pm MT; 6pm CT; 7pm ET & Tuesday January 25 @ 5pm PT; 6pm MT; 7pm CT; 8pm ET. Suggested donation $15 per person. To receive Zoom and donation links please register by email to [email protected]
  • Books and Reading Are Two Different Hobbies“—”I love books. Some might even say I’m obsessed with them. … My life is built on a foundation of books. But reading? Mm…I could take it or leave it. This is a ridiculous statement, I know. And I do like reading! In theory. I do read, of course. I read about 100 books a year, which I know is a big number by normal standards. But I read because I make myself read. When I’m doing it, I enjoy it. My life is better when I’m reading regularly. But I don’t naturally pick up a book when I want to entertain myself. I watch YouTube or baking reality shows. Reading often feels like a chore.”
  • Stories vs Ideas:Finding Something Deeply Personal in the Philosophical Novel. David Hollander on Fiction as an Alternative to Silence.”
  • Watch “Da Vinci Code: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (Web Exclusive)“—”John Oliver discusses The Da Vinci Code: the book, the film, and, for some reason, the cultural phenomenon.”
  • Illuminations: Stories [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Alan Moore, due October, 2022—”From the unparalleled imagination of New York Times bestseller Alan Moore, author of Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and other modern classics, nine stories full of wonder and strangeness, which take us to the fantastical underside of reality. In his first-ever short story collection, which spans forty years of work and features many never-before-published pieces, Alan Moore presents a series of wildly different and equally unforgettable characters who discover–and in some cases even make and unmake–the various uncharted parts of existence. In ‘A Hypothetical Lizard,’ two concubines in a brothel for sorcerers fall in love with tragic ramifications. In ‘Not Even Legend,’ a paranormal study group is infiltrated by one of the otherworldly beings they seek to investigate. In ‘Illuminations,’ a nostalgic older man decides to visit a seaside resort from his youth and finds the past all too close at hand. And in the monumental novella ‘What We Can Know About Thunderman,’ which charts the surreal and Kafkaesque history of the comics industry over the last seventy-five years through several sometimes-naive and sometimes-maniacal people rising and falling on its career ladders, Moore reveals the dark, beating heart of the superhero business. From ghosts and otherworldly creatures to the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and theoretical Boltzmann brains fashioning the universe at the big bang, Illuminations is exactly that–a series of bright, startling tales from a contemporary legend that reveal the full power of imagination and magic.”
  • Reading the Arabian Nights, Thu. Jan 20, 2022 7:00pm – 8:00pm EST, Writers, translators, and artists celebrate the most famous story collection of all time. Featuring: Yasmine Seale, Paulo Lemos Horta, S. A. Chakraborty, Elias Muhanna, Marjan Neshat. A cornerstone of world literature and a monument to the power of storytelling, the Arabian Nights has inspired countless authors, from Charles Dickens and Edgar Allen Poe to Naguib Mahfouz, Clarice Lispector, and Angela Carter. In their extensive new collection, The Annotated Arabian Nights, literary historian Paulo Lemos Horta and poet and translator Yasmine Seale present a fresh selection of tales from the Nights. Featuring treasured original stories as well as later additions including ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,’ the collection definitively brings the Nights out of Victorian antiquarianism and into the 21st century. This program will be streamed on the NYPL event page.” About The Annotated Arabian Nights: Tales from 1001 Nights [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] ed. & introduction Paulo Lemos Horta, trans.Yasmine Seale (Translator), Robert Irwin (Afterword), Omar El Akkad (Foreword)—”A magnificent and richly illustrated volume―with a groundbreaking translation framed by new commentary and hundreds of images―of the most famous story collection of all time. A cornerstone of world literature and a monument to the power of storytelling, the Arabian Nights has inspired countless authors, from Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe to Naguib Mahfouz, Clarice Lispector, and Angela Carter. Now, in this lavishly designed and illustrated edition of The Annotated Arabian Nights, the acclaimed literary historian Paulo Lemos Horta and the brilliant poet and translator Yasmine Seale present a splendid new selection of tales from the Nights, featuring treasured original stories as well as later additions including ‘Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp’ and ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,’ and definitively bringing the Nights out of Victorian antiquarianism and into the twenty-first century. For centuries, readers have been haunted by the homicidal King Shahriyar, thrilled by gripping tales of Sinbad’s seafaring adventures, and held utterly, exquisitely captive by Shahrazad’s stories of passionate romances and otherworldly escapades. Yet for too long, the English-speaking world has relied on dated translations by Richard Burton, Edward Lane, and other nineteenth-century adventurers. Seale’s distinctly contemporary and lyrical translations break decisively with this masculine dynasty, finally stripping away the deliberate exoticism of Orientalist renderings while reclaiming the vitality and delight of the stories, as she works with equal skill in both Arabic and French. Included within are famous tales, from ‘The Story of Sinbad the Sailor’ to ‘The Story of the Fisherman and the Jinni,’ as well as lesser-known stories such as ‘The Story of Dalila the Crafty,’ in which the cunning heroine takes readers into the everyday life of merchants and shopkeepers in a crowded metropolis, and ‘The Story of the Merchant and the Jinni,’ an example of a ransom frame tale in which stories are exchanged to save a life. Grounded in the latest scholarship, The Annotated Arabian Nights also incorporates the Hanna Diyab stories, for centuries seen as French forgeries but now acknowledged, largely as a result of Horta’s pathbreaking research, as being firmly rooted in the Arabic narrative tradition. Horta not only takes us into the astonishing twists and turns of the stories’ evolution. He also offers comprehensive notes on just about everything readers need to know to appreciate the tales in context, and guides us through the origins of ghouls, jinn, and other supernatural elements that have always drawn in and delighted readers. Beautifully illustrated throughout with art from Europe and the Arab and Persian world, the latter often ignored in English-language editions, The Annotated Arabian Nights expands the visual dimensions of the stories, revealing how the Nights have always been―and still are―in dialogue with fine artists. With a poignant autobiographical foreword from best-selling novelist Omar El Akkad and an illuminating afterword on the Middle Eastern roots of Hanna Diyab’s tales from noted scholar Robert Irwin, Horta and Seale have created a stunning edition of the Arabian Nights that will enchant and inform both devoted and novice readers alike.”
  • Revenge of the Librarians [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Tom Gauld, due October 2022—”Confront the spectre of failure, the wraith of social media, and other supernatural enemies of the author. Tom Gauld returns with his wittiest and most trenchant collection of literary cartoons to date. Perfectly composed drawings are punctuated with the artist’s signature brand of humour, hitting high and low. After all, Gauld is just as comfortable taking jabs at Jane Eyre and Game of Thrones. Some particularly favoured targets include the pretentious procrastinating novelist, the commercial mercenary of the dispassionate editor, the willful obscurantism of the vainglorious poet. Quake in the presence of the stack of bedside books as it grows taller! Gnash your teeth at the ever-moving deadline that the writer never meets! Quail before the critic’s incisive dissection of the manuscript! And most importantly, seethe with envy at the paragon of creative productivity! Revenge of the Librarians contains even more murders, drubbings, and castigations than The Department of Mind-Blowing Theories, Baking For Kafka, or any other collections of mordant scribblings by the inimitably excellent Gauld.”
  • Should You Believe Wikipedia? Online Communities and the Construction of Knowledge [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Amy S Bruckman—”As we interact online we are creating new kinds of knowledge and community. How are these communities formed? How do we know whether to trust them as sources of information? In other words, Should we believe Wikipedia? This book explores what community is, what knowledge is, how the internet facilitates new kinds of community, and how knowledge is shaped through online collaboration and conversation. Along the way the author tackles issues such as how we represent ourselves online and how this shapes how we interact, why there is so much bad behavior online and what we can do about it. And the most important question of all: What can we as internet users and designers do to help the internet to bring out the best in us all?”
  • The Revolution That Wasn’t: GameStop, Reddit, and the Fleecing of Small Investors [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Spencer Jakab—”From Wall Street Journal columnist Spencer Jakab, the real story of the GameStop squeeze–and the surprising winners of a rigged game. During one crazy week in January 2021, a motley crew of retail traders on Reddit’s r/wallstreetbets forum had seemingly done the impossible–they had brought some of the biggest, richest players on Wall Street to their knees. Their weapon was GameStop, a failing retailer whose shares briefly became the most-traded security on the planet and the subject of intense media coverage. The Revolution That Wasn’t is the riveting story of how the meme stock squeeze unfolded, and of the real architects (and winners) of the GameStop rally. Drawing on his years as a stock analyst at a major bank, Jakab exposes technological and financial innovations such as Robinhood’s habit-forming smartphone app as ploys to get our dollars within the larger story of evolving social and economic pressures. The surprising truth? What appeared to be a watershed moment–a revolution that stripped the ultra-powerful hedge funds of their market influence, placing power back in the hands of everyday investors–only tilted the odds further in the house’s favor. Online brokerages love to talk about empowerment and “democratizing finance” while profiting from the mistakes and volatility created by novice investors. In this nuanced analysis, Jakab shines a light on the often-misunderstood profit motives and financial mechanisms to show how this so-called revolution is, on balance, a bonanza for Wall Street. But, Jakab argues, there really is a way for ordinary investors to beat the pros: by refusing to play their game.”
  • Event Horizon: Sexuality, Politics, Online Culture, and the Limits of Capitalism [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Bonni Rambatan and Jacob Johanssen—”In an age where Silicon Valley dictates what it means to innovate a painless future, knowledge and enjoyment are fertile breeding grounds of political contestation. But it’s not exactly democracy. We are controlled through platforms that turn us into data for the profit of billionaires. Control has become so playful that we carry it in our pockets, as we continue to crave likes and followers. What is to be done? Should the Left continue to cling to the promise of a political Event, patiently waiting for a revolutionary rupture where new possibilities emerge? Is there a way to delineate its horizons amidst the chaos? Through a psychoanalytic interrogation of the intersections of online culture, sexuality, and politics, Bonni Rambatan and Jacob Johanssen explore such horizons at the limits of capitalism. Event Horizon examines how capitalist ideology functions in our current moment, and, more importantly, how it breaks down. With the increasing urgency of formulating a proper Leftist response to the rapidly growing violence that seriously threatens the lives of marginalised communities, this book could not be more timely.”
  • ‘There’s Not Just One Type of Porn’: Erika Lust’s Alternative Vision. The Swedish moviemaker thinks pornography can create a society that sees sexuality as myriad and joyful, and where women’s pleasure matters.”—”[Srinivasan] argues that, ‘While filmed sex seemingly opens up a world of sexual possibility, all too often it shuts down the sexual imagination, making it weak, dependent, lazy, codified. The sexual imagination is transformed into a mimesis-machine, incapable of generating its own novelty.’ (Srinivasan declined to be interviewed for this article.) Although in her book she argues against censoring explicit material — a move that often unfairly targets women and sexual minorities, she writes — the Oxford University academic advises young people to lay off porn if they want their sex lives to be “more joyful, more equal, freer. ‘Perhaps then the sexual imagination could be coaxed, even briefly, to recall its lost power,’ Srinivasan writes.” In part about The Right to Sex: Feminism in the Twenty-First Century [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Amia Srinivasan—”Thrilling, sharp, and deeply humane, philosopher Amia Srinivasan’s The Right to Sex: Feminism in the Twenty-First Century upends the way we discuss—or avoid discussing—the problems and politics of sex. How should we think about sex? It is a thing we have and also a thing we do; a supposedly private act laden with public meaning; a personal preference shaped by outside forces; a place where pleasure and ethics can pull wildly apart. How should we talk about sex? Since #MeToo many have fixed on consent as the key framework for achieving sexual justice. Yet consent is a blunt tool. To grasp sex in all its complexity—its deep ambivalences, its relationship to gender, class, race and power—we need to move beyond yes and no, wanted and unwanted. We do not know the future of sex—but perhaps we could imagine it. Amia Srinivasan’s stunning debut helps us do just that. She traces the meaning of sex in our world, animated by the hope of a different world. She reaches back into an older feminist tradition that was unafraid to think of sex as a political phenomenon. She discusses a range of fraught relationships—between discrimination and preference, pornography and freedom, rape and racial injustice, punishment and accountability, students and teachers, pleasure and power, capitalism and liberation. The Right to Sex: Feminism in the Twenty-First Century is a provocation and a promise, transforming many of our most urgent political debates and asking what it might mean to be free.”
  • The TV Show ‘Roseanne’ Was Based On My Family. The Off-Screen Reality Was Very Different. ‘They were lightweight, PG versions of us with no complicated backstories. Must be nice.'” About This Will Be Funny Later: A Memoir [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Jenny Pentland—”A funny, biting, and entertaining memoir of coming of age in the shadow of celebrity and finding your own way in the face of absolute chaos that is both a moving portrait of a complicated family and an exploration of the cost of fame. Growing up, Jenny Pentland’s life was a literal sitcom. Many of the storylines for her mother’s smash hit series, Roseanne, were drawn from Pentland’s early family life in working-class Denver. But that was only the beginning of the drama. Roseanne Barr’s success as a comedian catapulted the family from the Rockies to star-studded Hollywood—with its toxic culture of money, celebrity, and prying tabloids that was destabilizing for a child in grade school. By adolescence, Jenny struggled with anxiety and eating issues. Her parents and new stepfather, struggling to help, responded by sending Jenny and her siblings on a grand tour of the self-help movement of the ’80s—from fat camps to brat camps, wilderness survival programs to drug rehab clinics (even though Jenny didn’t take drugs). Becoming an adult, all Jenny wanted was to get married and have kids, despite Roseanne’s admonishments not to limit herself to being just a wife and mother. In this scathingly funny and moving memoir, Pentland reveals what it’s like to grow up as the daughter of a television star and how she navigated the turmoil, eventually finding her own path. Now happily married and raising five sons on a farm, Pentland has worked tirelessly to create the stable family she never had, while coming to terms at last with her deep-seated anxiety. This Will Be Funny Later is a darkly funny and frank chronicle of transition, from childhood to adulthood and motherhood—one woman’s journey to define herself and create the life she always wanted. ”
  • After the Revolution: A Novel [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Robert Evans, due May 2022—”Preorder now and you’ll also receive a custom bookplate autographed by author Robert Evans, while supplies last. We’ll ship the book and bookplate together when the book is available in early May.” “What will the fracturing of the United States look like? After the Revolution is an edge-of-your-seat answer to that question. In the year 2070, twenty years after a civil war and societal collapse of the “old” United States, extremist militias battle in the crumbling Republic of Texas. As the violence spreads like wildfire and threatens the Free City of Austin, three unlikely allies will have to work together in an act of resistance to stop the advance of the forces of the white Christian ethnostate known as the ‘Heavenly Kingdom.’ Our three protagonists include Manny, a fixer that shuttles journalists in and out of war zones and provides footage for outside news agencies. Sasha is a teenage woman that joins the Heavenly Kingdom before she discovers the ugly truths behind their movement. Finally, we have Roland: A US Army vet kitted out with cyberware (including blood that heals major trauma wounds and a brain that can handle enough LSD to kill an elephant), tormented by broken memories, and 12,000 career kills under his belt. In the not-so-distant world Evans conjures we find advanced technology, a gender expansive culture, and a roving Burning Man-like city fueled by hedonistic excess. This powerful debut novel from Robert Evans is based on his investigative reporting from international conflict zones and on increasingly polarized domestic struggles. It is a vision of our very possible future.”
  • Watch “‘Plants FIGHT one another, plants STRANGLE one another!’ 😲 The Green Planet 🌱 BBC.”
  • New Study Sheds Light on Origins of Life on Earth“—”Addressing one of the most profoundly unanswered questions in biology, a Rutgers-led team has discovered the structures of proteins that may be responsible for the origins of life in the primordial soup of ancient Earth.”
  • Early Homo Sapiens Found in Ethiopia Is Older Than Had Been Thought. New analysis based on ash from volcanic cataclysm dates an early human found at Omo, Ethiopia, to 233,000 years, supporting the ‘early evolution’ theory for Homo sapiens.”
  • Treasure trove of ancient Roman discoveries unearthed in Europe“—”Construction of the future HS2 high-speed railway line in England unveiled the remains of a large Roman trading settlement that dates back to 50 AD. Some of the recovered items include jewelry, pottery and a rare and “exquisite” wooden figure.”
  • Scientists looking at the first pregnant Egyptian mummy think they figured out why none were ever found before. Scientists who examined a pregnant mummy explained why they think no others had been found. It might have to do with a chemical reaction that dissolves the bones of unborn children.”
  • Watch “Egypt’s ‘most exciting’ archaeological discovery in decades – BBC REEL“—”The discovery of a 3,000-year-old city that was lost to the sands of Egypt has been hailed as one of the most important archaeological finds in recent Egyptology. Uncovered in 2020, this ancient Egyptian settlement, known as Aten, has left experts amazed at the preservation of buildings and artefacts. Egyptologists hope further investigation will answer important questions about life during the reign of one of Egypt’s most powerful pharaohs, Amenhotep III.”
  • Watch “The Ancient Pictish Caves Hidden In Fife | Time Team | Odyssey”—”Wemyss Caves, on the shore of the Firth of Forth, have been a famous landmark for centuries. Legend has it that they were occupied by the mysterious Pictish people who scared the Romans into building Hadrian’s Wall; subsequently, they were home to medieval Christian hermits and later to Jacobean nobles. Now the caves are under serious threat from erosion; the sea is already lapping at the cliff just below the cave line. But Wemyss Caves have never been properly investigated. How did the enigmatic Pictish carvings on the cave wall get there? And did Picts really live in the caves or were they just passing by? Is there any evidence of hermits or other types of medieval occupation? In an intensive three days, Time Team come up with some remarkable answers, beginning the task of re-writing the history of this atmospheric site.”
  • Watch “Dinosaur footprints found on beach in Wales may be 200 million years old, researchers say“—”Researchers say they have made a rare discovery along a beach in Wales — 200-million-year-old dinosaur footprints that show the area may have been a ‘trample ground’ for large sauropods.”
  • Rare blanket octopus spotted in ‘once in a lifetime’ encounter off Australian coast“—”A marine biologist had a “once in a lifetime” encounter with the rare and stunning blanket octopus off the coast of Australia this month. Jacinta Shackleton, a videographer and photographer, has been capturing wildlife in Great Barrier Reef for the past three years as a content creator for Queensland’s Tourism and Events. On Jan. 6, Shackleton posted on Instagram that she had spotted the elusive octopus while snorkeling near Lady Elliot Island. ‘When I first saw it, I thought it could have been a juvenile fish with long fins, but as it came closer, I realized it was a female blanket octopus and I had this overwhelming sense of joy and excitement,’ Shackleton told The Guardian. ‘I kept yelling through my snorkel, ‘It’s a blanket octopus!’ I was so excited I was finding it difficult to hold my breath to dive down and video it.'”
  • Scientists discover earliest man-made hybrid animal. Scientists used DNA sequencing to discovery the animal was half donkey and half Syrian wild ass. A team of researchers recently discovered the kunga as the earliest example of human animal hybrid breeding. The animal was a cross between a female donkey and a male Syrian wild ass and was used to pull war chariots, transport royalty and help with agricultural work. Kungas held a high status in ancient Mesopotamia for about 500 years until horses were introduced to the area 4,000 years ago.”
  • Watch “How Our Deadliest Parasite Turned To The Dark Side“—”Around 10,000 years ago, somewhere in Africa, a microscopic parasite made a huge leap. With a little help from a mosquito, it left its animal host – probably a gorilla – and found its way to a new host: us.”
  • First melanoma test to offer reassurance of low risk of cancer spread. A pioneering test which reliably predicts the spread or return of the most deadly form of skin cancer has been developed by a team of Newcastle scientists and clinicians.”
  • Study: Being in space destroys more red blood cells. A world-first study has revealed how space travel can cause lower red blood cell counts, known as space anemia. Analysis of 14 astronauts showed their bodies destroyed 54 percent more red blood cells in space than they normally would on Earth, according to a study published in Nature Medicine.”
  • Palomar Survey Instrument Analyzes Impact of Starlink Satellites. A study of archival images from Zwicky Transient Facility shows an increase in satellite streaks.”—”‘In 2019, 0.5 percent of twilight images were affected, and now almost 20 percent are affected,’ says Przemek Mróz, study lead author and a former Caltech postdoctoral scholar who is now at the University of Warsaw in Poland. In the future, the scientists expect that nearly all of the ZTF images taken during twilight will contain at least one streak, especially after the Starlink constellation reaches 10,000 satellites, a goal SpaceX hopes to reach by 2027.”
  • ‘It’s Not Just a Pretty Picture.’ How the James Webb Space Telescope Will Create Images of the Ancient Universe.”—”With the recent launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), astronomers will be able to peer into hidden regions of space. JWST is engineered to detect light outside of the visible range, producing images of the faintest and most distant objects. But this presents its own challenges: How do you represent what the human eye can’t see? How do you turn several snapshots into a cohesive photo? As we anticipate the release of JWST’s first images this summer, Inverse spoke with Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics and the Chandra X-ray Center who has worked extensively on the Chandra X-ray Observatory mission.”
  • NASA’s Spitzer Illuminates Exoplanets in Astronomical Society Briefing. The infrared observatory may help answer questions about planets outside our solar system, or exoplanets, including how they form and what drives weather in their atmospheres.”—”Two new studies using data from NASA’s retired Spitzer Space Telescope shed light on giant exoplanets and brown dwarfs, objects that aren’t quite stars but aren’t quite planets either. Both studies will be the focus of virtual news conferences hosted by the American Astronomical Society on Jan. 13.”
  • Two black holes merged to form a huge one moving at incredible speeds. Astronomers have long suspected that merging black holes can give the resulting larger black hole a massive boost of speed, and have finally spotted this happening.”
  • Strange and hidden Jupiter-size exoplanet spotted by astronomers and citizen scientists. If orbital calculations are right, they’ll see the planet again in February.”
  • Scientists think they’ve found a big, weird moon in a far-off star system“—”The hunt for moons outside our solar system has just turned up another possible lunar world, a moon bigger than Earth that’s orbiting a Jupiter-like planet. The planet and its moon — if it really is a moon — orbit a Sun-like star that’s over 5,000 light years away, according to a report in the journal Nature Astronomy. ‘The moon is pretty alien compared to any moon in the solar system,’ says David Kipping, an astronomer at Columbia University. ‘We’re not sure if it’s rocky, we’re not sure if it’s gaseous. It’s kind of in between the size of Neptune, which is gaseous, and the Earth, which is rocky.’ This isn’t the first time astronomers have spotted something that might be a moon in another planetary system, which is sometimes called an exomoon. In fact, Kipping and his colleagues announced a few years ago that they’d detected something moon-like orbiting a different planet. That discovery has yet to be confirmed with additional telescope observations, and some astronomers are skeptical that it will hold up to more scrutiny.”
  • Study nixes Mars life in meteorite found in Antarctica. Scientists have concluded that a meteorite from Mars contains no evidence of ancient Martian life.”—”A 4 billion-year-old meteorite from Mars that caused a splash here on Earth decades ago contains no evidence of ancient, primitive Martian life after all, scientists reported Thursday. In 1996, a NASA-led team announced that organic compounds in the rock appeared to have been left by living creatures. Other scientists were skeptical and researchers chipped away at that premise over the decades, most recently by a team led by the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Andrew Steele.”
  • NASA’s Curiosity Rover Measures Intriguing Carbon Signature on Mars“—”After analyzing powdered rock samples collected from the surface of Mars by NASA’s Curiosity rover, scientists today announced that several of the samples are rich in a type of carbon that on Earth is associated with biological processes. While the finding is intriguing, it doesn’t necessarily point to ancient life on Mars, as scientists have not yet found conclusive supporting evidence of ancient or current biology there, such as sedimentary rock formations produced by ancient bacteria, or a diversity of complex organic molecules formed by life.”
  • Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) Creates Largest 3D Map of the Cosmos. DESI has already mapped out more galaxies than all previous 3D surveys combined — and it’s just getting started.”
  • Earth’s interior is cooling faster than expected. Researchers at ETH Zurich have demonstrated in the lab how well a mineral common at the boundary between the Earth’s core and mantle conducts heat. This leads them to suspect that the Earth’s heat may dissipate sooner than previously thought.”
  • World’s largest fish breeding area discovered in Antarctica. Researchers detect around 60 million nests of Antarctic icefish over a 240 square kilometres area in the Weddell Sea. Near the Filchner Ice Shelf in the south of the Antarctic Weddell Sea, a research team has found the world’s largest fish breeding area known to date. A towed camera system photographed and filmed thousands of nests of icefish of the species Neopagetopsis ionah on the seabed. The density of the nests and the size of the entire breeding area suggest a total number of about 60 million icefish breeding at the time of observation. These findings provide support for the establishment of a Marine Protected Area in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean. A team led by Autun Purser from the Alfred Wegener Institute publish their results in the current issue of the scientific journal Current Biology.”
  • Earth is running low on wildlife. Plants will be next. Many plants need to migrate to survive climate change, but they’re losing their animal rides.”
  • Safe planetary boundary for pollutants, including plastics, exceeded, say researchers. There has been a 50-fold increase in the production of chemicals since 1950. This is projected to triple again by 2050. First assessment published of planetary boundary related to “novel entities” (synthetic chemicals including plastics). Researchers conclude planetary boundary has now been exceeded, raising the risks to the stability of the Earth system. Better risk management and monitoring and reduction in harmful production and release of pollutants needed urgently to return within the planetary boundary.”
  • Watch “Venice’s low tides reveal ancient wonders, offer look into the future“—”Founded over 1,000 years ago, Venice, Italy is a treasure trove of history. But some of it has yet to come to the surface. Chris Livesay has the details on how the low tide in the Venetian Lagoon can reveal wonders of the past, even as rising waters threaten the city’s future.” The presenter’s comments are pretty lame and insipid, but some interesting stuff, and the point that “it’s more than history that is disappearing” and “an ecosystem, a landscape, and a way of life, each in its twilight”.
  • Decarbonisation tech instantly converts CO2 to solid carbon. Researchers have developed a smart and super-efficient new way of capturing carbon dioxide and converting it to solid carbon, to help advance the decarbonisation of heavy industries.”
  • 1,000-cycle lithium-sulfur battery could quintuple electric vehicle ranges“—”A new biologically inspired battery membrane has enabled a battery with five times the capacity of the industry-standard lithium ion design to run for the thousand-plus cycles needed to power an electric car. A network of aramid nanofibers, recycled from Kevlar, can enable lithium-sulfur batteries to overcome their Achilles heel of cycle life—the number of times it can be charged and discharged—a University of Michigan team has shown.”
  • Superabsorption unlocks key to next generation quantum batteries“—”Researchers at the University of Adelaide and their overseas partners have taken a key step in making quantum batteries a reality. They have successfully proved the concept of superabsorption, a crucial idea underpinning quantum batteries. ‘Quantum batteries, which use quantum mechanical principles to enhance their capabilities, require less charging time the bigger they get,’ said Dr James Q. Quach, who is a Ramsay Fellow in the School of Physical Sciences and the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS), at the University of Adelaide. ‘It is theoretically possible that the charging power of quantum batteries increases faster than the size of the battery which could allow new ways to speed charging.'”
  • ‘Fitbit for the face’ can turn any face mask into smart monitoring device. FaceBit can monitor wearer’s health, sense heart beat through the face.”
  • Meta is looking into eye-tracking and product placement to make money in the metaverse. Recently granted patents show how the company wants to track biometric data and customize ads.” Also “Facebook patents reveal how it intends to cash in on metaverse. Meta hopes to use tiny human expressions to create virtual world of personalised ads.”—”Research shows that eye gaze direction and pupil activity may implicitly contain information about a user’s interests and emotional state, for example, if a user’s eyes linger over an image, this may indicate they like it.” “Brittan Heller, a technology lawyer at Foley Hoag, said: ‘My nightmare scenario is that targeted advertising based on our involuntary biological reactions to stimuli is going to start showing up in the metaverse . . . most people don’t realise how valuable that could be. Right now there are no legal constraints on that.’” Also “Facebook Patent Shows How You May Be Exploited in the Metaverse.”
  • Meta’s VR division is reportedly under investigation by the FTC. Meta’s VR division is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, Bloomberg reports. Sources told Bloomberg the FTC has been speaking to third-party Oculus developers. Meta is already subject to intense antitrust scrutiny by the FTC.”
  • Watch “Norton Crypto. It’s EVEN WORSE than you think….“—”Norton has made an Ethereum mining pool that comes with Norton 360… is it any good? Is it a scam? Let’s find out!”
  • From the Disney buys Fox dept: “Xbox To Buy Activision Blizzard. Xbox will own Call of Duty, Warcraft, Overwatch, and much more.” I mean, I suppose that’s one way to get out of all the troubles they’re having, but I bet that screws the effort to unionize.
  • Hasbro Taps Wizards of the Coast Division Chief Chris Cocks as CEO. Incoming toy company chief and former Microsoft executive to serve as permanent replacement after Brian Goldner died in October.”
  • This is what the dumbasses trying to collectively buy a copy of the constitution are up to lately: “Crypto Losers Buy Copy Of Jodorowsky’s Dune, Have Played Themselves. Buying the book does not give you the rights to what’s in the book.”—”This is the part where I tell you that Spice DAO is a crypto hustle (there were shenanigans going on with the auction itself that you can read more about on Buzzfeed), using preservation of the book as a lovely excuse for selling $SPICE tokens to people whose only return—aside from the speculative-driven ‘value’ of the token itself—will be a chance to vote on what actually happens with the book. Which won’t be much, because they can’t sell everyone on making it public because it already is; the book was scanned and photographed in 2021 and is available for everyone to read and enjoy right now, without the need to spend millions at auction or contribute to a crypto scam. And the ‘original animated series’ pitch is even dumber, because if it’s too close to Herbert’s story and/or Jodorowsky’s vision they’ll be shut down by lawyers (since they bought a copy of a book, not the rights to the project), and if it’s only loosely based on it then why did they need to buy the book? Leaving the team with…a copy of the book. Good luck voting on who gets to keep it at their house on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays guys.” Also tweet—”I have genuinely spent 10 minutes starting at this but, no, it really DOES appear to be true that a bunch of cryptobros just spent €2.6 MILLION – 100x the asking price – for a book at auction in the mistaken belief that they would therefore own the copyright in it.”
  • Loss of Faith and Decrease in Trust in a Higher Source During COVID-19 in Germany“—”Many people relied on their faith as one resource in order to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Germany, between the eighteen months from June 2020 to November 2021, different participants at different times were assessed during different phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. The total sample of this continuous cross-sectional survey consisted of 4,693 participants. Analyses revealed that with the 2nd wave of the infection and its 2nd lockdown, trust in a Higher Source, along with praying and meditation decreased. Also, the sharp increase in corona-related stressors was associated with a decline of wellbeing and a continuing loss of faith. These developments were observed in both Catholics and Protestants, and in both younger and older persons. In addition, the long phases of insecurity and social isolation lacking the significant support usually given by religious communities may have likewise challenged the religious-coping capacities of religious/spiritual people themselves.”
  • Placebo Effect Accounts for More Than Two-Thirds of COVID-19 Vaccine Adverse Events, Researchers Find. One-Third of Clinical Trial Participants Who Received No Vaccine Reported Systemic Adverse Advents Like Headache and Fatigue.”
  • Wealth of 10 richest men doubled in pandemic as 99% of incomes dropped: Oxfam. While 99% of the globe’s income fell, billionaires ‘had a terrific pandemic.'”
  • Detainees Sue Arkansas Jail That Gave Them Ivermectin to Treat Covid. For months, the jail’s doctor has promoted the drug, which health experts say should not be used to treat or prevent Covid-19.”
  • What causes long COVID symptoms? Clues from under the microscope. A team from UNSW’s Kirby Institute and St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney have uncovered an immune profile for long COVID, potentially paving the way for tailored treatment for those with ongoing symptoms.”
  • UCLA-led team refines ‘kick and kill’ strategy aimed at eliminating HIV-infected cells. Study in mice could point toward method for clearing virus from people who would otherwise depend on medication.”
  • Epstein-Barr virus may be leading cause of multiple sclerosis“—”Multiple sclerosis (MS), a progressive disease that affects 2.8 million people worldwide and for which there is no definitive cure, is likely caused by infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), according to a study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers.”
  • Is this Springfield, Missouri, or ‘Parks and Rec?’ Debate over new flag creates stir online.”—”Since Springfield adopted a new city flag earlier this week, speculation has run rampant online debating whether it was approved during a city council meeting or an episode of NBC’s ‘Parks and Recreation.’ The comparison comes as a viral online compilation of comments made at a Monday evening Springfield City Council meeting reveals some believe the new flag might represent the head of Baphomet, part of a Masonic conspiracy or is akin to banners flying the swastika.” “Many social media users said residents were reading too much into the symbolism of the new flag. ‘Who knew the new flag for Springfield was really a cleverly disguised Rorschach test?’ wrote one user.”
  • Illinois School District Defends ‘After-School Satan Club’ For Elementary Kids. The district says it cannot ‘discriminate against different religious viewpoints.'”—”An Illinois school district is defending an elementary school hosting a “Satan club” after the strange extracurricular activity prompted outrage from parents. The ‘After School Satan Club’ is sponsored by the Satanic Temple of the United States, which says the clubs are a response to the Christian Good News Clubs at public schools across the country.” “‘Since we have allowed religious entities to rent our facilities after school hours, we are not permitted to discriminate against different religious viewpoints,’ Savage explained, adding that to illegally deny the Satanic Temple ‘subjects the district to a discrimination lawsuit, which we will not win.'”
  • Capitol rioters called Nancy Pelosi’s office looking for a ‘lost and found’ for items they left behind on January 6, according to Rep. Jamie Raskin“—”Rioters were calling ‘asking whether there was a lost and found because they forgot their phone there, or they left their purse or what have you,’ Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., told Insider on Friday in a Q&A. Police officers swiftly took down information from the callers, Raskin said. ‘The officers quickly got on the phone and said, yeah, just give us your name, your address, your social, you know, and we’ll tie up those loose ends,’ Raskin said. ‘But what’s so fascinating to me about that there really were people who felt as if they had been summoned to Washington by the president.'” Also, holy fuck, The Onion scooped it: “Trump Rioter Knocks On Senate Door To Ask About Retrieving Left-Behind Car Keys.”
  • Some QAnon Believers Think JFK Disguised Himself As Trump At Arizona Rally. They claim the person who showed up at the event appeared to be shorter than the ‘real’ Donald Trump.”
  • How a Married Undercover Cop Having Sex With Activists Killed a Climate Movement Mark Kennedy spent seven years pretending to be a climate activist. People he deceived are still rebuilding their lives.”
  • Thread—”THREAD. A new scandal is brewing at the New York Times. I try my best below to document the paper’s corporate and police union copaganda, and to share actual evidence and research that the NYT ignores. The stakes are huge.” Tweet—”Fantastic thread breaking down how the NYT has uncritically shared bunk science and quite frankly propaganda about how we need more police and harsher punishment to solve crime trends.”
  • More on this “Public Domain Day is here again: it should be an occasion for condemnation, not celebration.”
  • Anne Frank betrayal suspect identified after 77 years – BBC News”—”A suspect who may have betrayed Anne Frank and her family to the Nazis has been identified in a new investigation. The Jewish diarist died in a Nazi concentration camp in 1945, aged 15, after two years in hiding. A team of historians and other experts said Arnold van den Bergh, a Jewish figure in Amsterdam, probably “gave up” the Franks to save his own family. Anne Frank’s diary, published after her death, is the most famous first-hand account of Jewish life during the war. Evidence suggests a prominent Jewish notary may have disclosed the secret hiding place of the Frank family to German occupiers to save his own family from Nazi concentration camps.”—”Tuesday 1 August 1944 ‘… I keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if … if only there were no other people in the world. Yours, Anne M. Frank”. Also “Cold Case Team Shines New Light On Betrayal Of Anne Frank.” About The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Rosemary Sullivan—”Less a mystery unsolved than a secret well kept… Using new technology, recently discovered documents and sophisticated investigative techniques, an international team—led by an obsessed retired FBI agent—has finally solved the mystery that has haunted generations since World War II: Who betrayed Anne Frank and her family? And why? Over thirty million people have read The Diary of a Young Girl, the journal teen-aged Anne Frank kept while living in an attic with her family and four other people in Amsterdam during World War II, until the Nazis arrested them and sent them to a concentration camp. But despite the many works—journalism, books, plays and novels—devoted to Anne’s story, none has ever conclusively explained how these eight people managed to live in hiding undetected for over two years—and who or what finally brought the Nazis to their door. With painstaking care, retired FBI agent Vincent Pankoke and a team of indefatigable investigators pored over tens of thousands of pages of documents—some never before seen—and interviewed scores of descendants of people familiar with the Franks. Utilizing methods developed by the FBI, the Cold Case Team painstakingly pieced together the months leading to the infamous arrest—and came to a shocking conclusion. The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation is the riveting story of their mission. Rosemary Sullivan introduces us to the investigators, explains the behavior of both the captives and their captors and profiles a group of suspects. All the while, she vividly brings to life wartime Amsterdam: a place where no matter how wealthy, educated, or careful you were, you never knew whom you could trust.”
  • Watch “What Jewish life in Europe was like before World War Two“—”A digitised archive of pre-WW2 documents, books and cultural artefacts showing how members of the Jewish community expressed themselves through art, literature and music, has gone online. Many items were destroyed by the Nazis, but 4.1 million of them survived. The project is being launched at a time of rising anti-Semitic attacks and vandalism. It is the culmination of a project sponsored by the New York-based Institute for Jewish Research in conjunction with libraries in Lithuania.”
  • ‘Where Are the Jews?’: Scandal Erupts at the Academy Museum. Four months after the new cultural center’s splashy opening, big donors and showbiz veterans wonder why many of Hollywood’s “founding fathers” are absent from its exhibits.”
  • More than 1,700 congressmen once enslaved Black people. This is who they were, and how they shaped the nation. The Washington Post has compiled the first database of slaveholding members of Congress by examining thousands of pages of census records and historical documents.”
  • Watch “The kora, the ‘sacred’ instrument of storytellers – BBC News”—”When Kadialy Kouyate travelled to the United Kingdom he intended to be a student, but he ended up being the teacher. The Senegal-born musician teaches at the only university-led kora course in the country. The kora is a stringed instrument played extensively across West Africa.”—”Anyone can learn to play the kora. It’s open to everyone. If you are interested in Mandingo culture … the kora is open, the doors of the kora are open.”
  • From the Digging the Hole Deeper dept: “Joss Whedon Finally Addresses Misconduct Charges Leveled By Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher And ‘Buffy’ Cast. The director claims that the “Wonder Woman” star mistakenly thought he threatened to ruin her career because ‘English is not her first language, and I tend to be annoyingly flowery in my speech.'”
  • Daniel Radcliffe To Play ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic In Upcoming Biopic. ‘Weird: The Al Yankovic Story’ will explore ‘every facet’ of the actor, comedian and pop music parodist’s ‘incredibly true, unexaggerated story.'”
  • ‘Zorro’ Drama With Female Lead From Robert & Rebecca Rodriguez, Sean Tretta & Propagate In Works At The CW“—”Zorro is headed to the CW. The young-skewing network has put in development a gender-swapped reimagining of the classic masked vigilante character, from filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, writer-director Rebecca Rodriguez, Sean Tretta (Mayans M.C.) and Ben Silverman and Howard T. Owens’ Propagate. CBS Studios, where Propagate has a deal, is the studio. This is a new incarnation of the project, which was in development at NBC during the 2020-21 cycle, with Tretta as a new addition to the brother-and-sister writing team of Robert and Rebecca Rodriguez. Co-penned by the trio and to be directed by Rebecca Rodriguez, in Zorro, a young Latinx woman seeking vengeance for her father’s murder joins a secret society and adopts the outlaw persona of Zorro. I hear the story by Robert and Rebecca Rodriguez was already in place when Tretta, who has an overall deal at CBS Studios, came on board earlier this cycle to write the script.”
  • Watch “The Queen’s Gambit: The Board Game – Trailer“—”Wonder what it would be like to experience chess like the extraordinary Beth Harmon?
    Beth’s ability to envision chess moves on her ceiling enabled her to clear her opponents’ pieces from the board and defeat them. In The Queen’s Gambit: The Board Game, you compete with other players to claim pieces – and points – from the board. Each turn, you can move your “Gambit” like a different chess piece. But you’ll have to plan ahead like Beth if you want to outwit your opponents and win the game! 2-4 players 15 Min 12+.” A chess-inspired strategy board game related to the Netflix series, based on the Walter Tevis novel.

  • I remember the was a whole international kerfuffle just about Ganesha and other Hindu deities on just a t-shirt. But then there’s this. Times change, I guess. Watch “Smite – Season 9 Launch Trailer | PS4“.
  • Watch “200 Players Simulate Civilization on Minecraft Island” and “200 Players Simulate Racist Civilization in Minecraft“.
  • Not engaging them works, until is doesn’t, in my experience, but: “Never Engage with Toddlers Online. Social media is a hotbed of arguing, shouting and posturing. Here are my rules of (dis)engagement.”
  • Watch “How To Make Yourself Unscammable. Listen Up, Young People!“—”Young people are falling for online scams at alarming rates, so Stephen invited certified young person and self-described internet safety expert, Eliana Kwartler, to offer some tips on how to surf the web without losing your money.”
  • Nobody Would Hire Me Because I Was A Sex Worker. So I Started My Own Company. I found it infuriating that in a society that constantly tells sex workers they need to get a “real” job, nobody would actually give me a chance.”
  • Don’t tell the poets: “Japanese company engineers soft toys that will nibble your finger, for folks who are into that. Finally, a toy for masochists who only want to be nibbled at a teeny-tiny bit!”
  • ‘Hardballing’ Is The First Dating Trend We’ve Heard Lately That Doesn’t Suck. Hardballing could make ‘situationships’ and awkward ‘What are we?’ conversations a thing of the past.”
  • Watch “Outercourse, Wanderlove, Untyping – Stephen Colbert Explains Modern Relationship Terms“—”Romance is always evolving, and it can be hard to keep up with the latest terminology around dating. Our host is here to help with the latest episode of ‘Stephen Colbert’s Romansplaining.'”
  • Watch “Studio 666 (Official Trailer)
  • Tweet—”The toilets inside the MI5 building in Millbank are being refurbished, and as a listed building, that requires a planning application. So for you spooks out there, this is what the loos inside the MI5 headquarters look like. Exciting ;)” Tweet—”Which one has the secret passage to U.N.C.L.E. HQ, and which one goes to the Ministry of Magic?”
  • Justice League’s Biggest Losers May Have Created the 20th Century’s Coolest Move. The Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna, were never anyone’s idea of cool. Their signature move, however, is an entirely different story.”
  • Imagine my surprise when I got these alerts: “Highway patrol says alert referencing Gotham City, Joker’s car sent in error“—”‘GOTHAM CITY MO PURPLE/GREEN 1978 DODGE 3700 GT UKIDME’ the alert read, with a link to the patrol’s public alerts Twitter page. The patrol tweeted soon after the errant alert went out that it was meant to be an internal test message. ‘THERE WAS NO ALERT,’ the patrol tweeted.”