Omnium Gatherum: 25jul2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 25, 2021

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

  • Ten Small Raisins.” About Inky Fingers: The Making of Books in Early Modern Europe [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Anthony Grafton—”The author of The Footnote reflects on scribes, scholars, and the work of publishing during the golden age of the book. From Francis Bacon to Barack Obama, thinkers and political leaders have denounced humanists as obsessively bookish and allergic to labor. In this celebration of bookmaking in all its messy and intricate detail, renowned historian Anthony Grafton invites us to see the scholars of early modern Europe as diligent workers. Meticulously illuminating the physical and mental labors that fostered the golden age of the book–the compiling of notebooks, copying and correction of texts and proofs, preparation of copy–he shows us how the exertions of scholars shaped influential books, treatises, and forgeries. Inky Fingers ranges widely, tracing the transformation of humanistic approaches to texts in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and examining the simultaneously sustaining and constraining effects of theological polemics on sixteenth-century scholars. Grafton draws new connections between humanistic traditions and intellectual innovations, textual learning and craft knowledge, manuscript and print. Above all, Grafton makes clear that the nitty-gritty of bookmaking has had a profound impact on the history of ideas–that the life of the mind depends on the work of the hands.”
  • Night of the Guillotine.” About The Fall of Robespierre: 24 Hours in Revolutionary Paris [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Colin Jones—”The day of 9 Thermidor (27 July 1794) is universally acknowledged as a major turning-point in the history of the French Revolution. At 12.00 midnight, Maximilien Robespierre, the most prominent member of the Committee of Public Safety which had for more than a year directed the Reign of Terror, was planning to destroy one of the most dangerous plots that the Revolution had faced. By 12.00 midnight at the close of the day, following a day of uncertainty, surprises, upsets and reverses, his world had been turned upside down. He was an outlaw, on the run, and himself wanted for conspiracy against the Republic. He felt that his whole life and his Revolutionary career were drawing to an end. As indeed they were. He shot himself shortly afterwards. Half-dead, the guillotine finished him off in grisly fashion the next day. The Fall of Robespierre provides an hour-by-hour analysis of these 24 hours.”
  • Equality and the elites. How political ideas such as ‘levelling up’ draw on centuries of meritocratic thinking.” About The Aristocracy of Talent: How Meritocracy Made the Modern World [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Adrian Wooldridge—”Meritocracy: the idea that people should be advanced according to their talents rather than their birth. While this initially seemed like a novel concept, by the end of the twentieth century it had become the world’s ruling ideology. How did this happen, and why is meritocracy now under attack from both right and left? In The Aristocracy of Talent, esteemed journalist and historian Adrian Wooldridge traces the history of meritocracy forged by the politicians and officials who introduced the revolutionary principle of open competition, the psychologists who devised methods for measuring natural mental abilities, and the educationalists who built ladders of educational opportunity. He looks outside western cultures and shows what transformative effects it has had everywhere it has been adopted, especially once women were brought into the meritocratic system. Wooldridge also shows how meritocracy has now become corrupted and argues that the recent stalling of social mobility is the result of failure to complete the meritocratic revolution. Rather than abandoning meritocracy, he says, we should call for its renewal.”
  • Ken Starr helped Jeffrey Epstein with ‘scorched-earth’ campaign, book claims. Book by Miami Herald journalist details extraordinary efforts by special prosecutor who hounded Bill Clinton to aid sex trafficker.” About Perversion of Justice: The Jeffrey Epstein Story [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Julie K Brown—”Dauntless journalist Julie K. Brown recounts her uncompromising and risky investigation of Jeffrey Epstein’s underage sex trafficking operation, and the explosive reporting for the Miami Herald that finally brought him to justice while exposing the powerful people and broken system that protected him. For many years, billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s penchant for teenage girls was an open secret in the high society of Palm Beach, Florida and Upper East Side, Manhattan. Charged in 2008 with soliciting prostitution from minors, Epstein was treated with unheard of leniency, dictating the terms of his non-prosecution. The media virtually ignored the failures of the criminal justice system, and Epstein’s friends and business partners brushed the allegations aside. But when in 2017 the U.S Attorney who approved Epstein’s plea deal, Alexander Acosta, was chosen by President Trump as Labor Secretary, reporter Julie K. Brown was compelled to ask questions. Despite her editor’s skepticism that she could add a new dimension to a known story, Brown determined that her goal would be to track down the victims themselves. Poring over thousands of redacted court documents, traveling across the country and chasing down information in difficulty and sometimes dangerous circumstances, Brown tracked down dozens of Epstein’s victims, now young women struggling to reclaim their lives after the trauma and shame they had endured. Brown’s resulting three-part series in the Miami Herald was one of the most explosive news stories of the decade, revealing how Epstein ran a global sex trafficking pyramid scheme with impunity for years, targeting vulnerable teens, often from fractured homes and then turning them into recruiters. The outrage led to Epstein’s arrest, the disappearance and eventual arrest of his closest accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell, and the resignation of Acosta. The financier’s mysterious suicide in a New York City jail cell prompted wild speculation about the secrets he took to the grave-and whether his death was intentional or the result of foul play. Tracking Epstein’s evolution from a college dropout to one of the most successful financiers in the country–whose associates included Donald Trump, Prince Andrew, and Bill Clinton–Perversion of Justice builds on Brown’s original award-winning series, showing the power of truth, the value of local reportage and the tenacity of one woman in the face of the deep-seated corruption of powerful men.”
  • Surfing as Sacrament: Returning to New York’s Waves on September 12, 2001.” From The Drop: How the Most Addictive Sport Can Help Us Understand Addiction and Recovery [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Thad Ziolkowski—”In this revelatory and original book, award-winning author of the acclaimed surf memoir On a Wave illuminates the connection between waves, addiction, and recovery, exploring what surfing can teach us about the powerful undertow of addictive behaviors and the ways to swim free of them. Addiction is arguably the dominant feature of contemporary life: sex, gambling, exercise, eating, shopping, Internet use–there’s virtually no pleasurable activity that can’t morph into a destructive obsession. For Americans under the age of fifty-five, the leading cause of death is drug overdose. But there is another side of addiction. In some instances, the very activities that can lead to addiction can also lead out of it. As neurologists have recently discovered, surfing is a kind of study in the mechanism of addiction, delivering dopamine to the pleasure center of the brain and reshaping priorities and desire in a feedback loop of narrowing focus. Thad Ziolkowski knows this dynamic intimately. A lifelong surfer, he has been surrounded by addiction since his boyhood. In this unique, groundbreaking book, part addiction memoir, part sociological study, part spiritual odyssey, Ziolkowski dismantles the myth of surfing as a radiantly wholesome lifestyle immune to the darker temptations of the culture and discovers among the rubble a new way to understand and ultimately overcome addiction. Combining his own story with insights from scientists, progressive thinkers and the experiences of top surfers and addicts from around the world, Ziolkowski shows how getting on a board and catching a wave is a unique and deeply instructive means of riding out of the darkness and back into the light. Yet while surfing is his salvation, its lessons can applied to other activities that can pull us free from the lethal undertow of addiction and save lives.”
  • Sexual Politics and Female Power: Stories from the Playboy Bunny Resort.” About Shoulder Season [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Christina Clancy—”Once in a lifetime, you can have the time of your life. The small town of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is an unlikely location for a Playboy Resort, and nineteen-year old Sherri Taylor is an unlikely bunny. Growing up in neighboring East Troy, Sherri plays the organ at the local church and has never felt comfortable in her own skin. But when her parents die in quick succession, she leaves the only home she’s ever known for the chance to be part of a glamorous slice of history. In the winter of 1981, in a costume two sizes too small, her toes pinched by stilettos, Sherri joins the daughters of dairy farmers and factory workers for the defining experience of her life. Living in the “bunny hutch”–Playboy’s version of a college dorm–Sherri gets her education in the joys of sisterhood, the thrill of financial independence, the magic of first love, and the heady effects of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. But as spring gives way to summer, Sherri finds herself caught in a romantic triangle–and the tragedy that ensues will haunt her for the next forty years. From the Midwestern prairie to the California desert, from Wisconsin lakes to the Pacific Ocean, this is a story of what happens when small town life is sprinkled with stardust, and what we lose–and gain–when we leave home. With a heroine to root for and a narrative to get lost in, Christina Clancy’s Shoulder Season is a sexy, evocative tale, drenched in longing and desire, that captures a fleeting moment in American history with nostalgia and heart.”
  • A (Black) Gat in the Hand: Carroll John Daly & the Birth of Hardboiled Pulp.”
  • The Sound of My Inbox. The financial promise of email newsletters has launched countless micropublications — and created a new literary genre.”
  • “There is an important sense in which it is correct to say that all written works in antiquity were a kind of samizdat, not because they were always, or even usually, illicit, but because their circulation was restricted to copies prepared by hand and passed by hand from person to person.”—M.I. Finley, “Censorship in Classical Antiquity,” in his Democracy Ancient and Modern, quoted at Samizdat.
  • Thoreau in Good Faith.”—”The writer went to Walden to reorient his world, so that the woods, rather than the town, centered his spiritual map.”
  • “Tradition is a great corrupter. It may preserve important facts, though even then the preservation may take the form of seizing on one important or merely picturesque fact and embroidering it. […] This is exactly the kind of thing that seizes the imagination of mankind; but it constitutes a warning against expecting popular tradition to preserve reliable history for long periods.”—Andrew Robert Burn (1902-1991), Persia and the Greeks: The Defence of the West, 546-478 B.C, quoted at A Great Corrupter.
  • The secret afterlives of medieval widows. Widows in the Middle Ages weren’t always the penniless, powerless figures we’ve made them out to be—they’re the reason why Britain has its beautiful monuments and churches.”
  • Yes, I Love Books, but Please Don’t Take Me to a Bookstore.”—”Arbitrary numbers to you, a point of anxiety for me. I’m book-full.”
  • The Quiet Mysticism of Almanacs.”—”‘The secret of The Old Farmer’s Almanac: pay attention,’ Tim Clark, a former editor at the Almanac, once told me. ‘Pay attention to the sky, and the winds, and the tides, and the number of acorns on the ground in the fall, and what the animals are doing, and which way the birds are flying. Pay attention. And that’s what a farmer in 1792 — or 1292 — had to do to survive.'”
  • America’s Obsession With Self-Help. From ‘The Old Farmer’s Almanac’ to ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,’ what do bestselling guides to self-improvement reveal about the United States?”
  • Ugh. Not now Goa’uld mothership! “Asteroid the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza to fly (safely) by Earth Sunday.”
  • Ugh. Not now acid spitting biomechanoids! “Acid-shooting whip scorpions are roaming a national park in Texas.”—”But the vinegaroons, which are nocturnal and can’t see very well, are “relatively benign unless you annoy them,” the park says.” Oh. Okay. Never mind. Also, are vinegaroons tasty on chips?
  • Tablet Reveals Babylonians Studied Trigonometry Before the Greeks.”—”In recent years, there have been all kinds of anthropological breakthroughs radically shifting our ideas of ancient life and the capacities of our prehistory predecessors — from the discovery of the world’s oldest home in South Africa to new evidence that titanium dioxide was utilized in Inca objects some 400 years before its “discovery” in the United States. In the same vein, research performed by scientists at UNSW Sydney has revealed that a famous 3,700-year-old Babylonian clay tablet is inscribed with accurate trigonometry.”
  • Tentacled droplets swim with stored heat energy.”—”If ever a science fiction movie director were seeking inspiration for how to depict tiny robotic alien life forms, they need look no further than those created by a team of scientists in Bulgaria, Poland, the UK and China. Beginning as innocuous oily droplets about 20–40μm across floating in water, these structures take on faceted, crystal-like shapes when cooled to around 2-8°C – even though they aren’t frozen. Then things get really weird.” Also watch “Tentacled droplets swim with stored heat energy.”
  • Solar Dynamics Observatory: Artificial Intelligence Helps Improve NASA’s Eyes on the Sun“—”A group of researchers is using artificial intelligence techniques to calibrate some of NASA’s images of the Sun, helping improve the data that scientists use for solar research. The new technique was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics on April 13, 2021.”
  • Secrets of Mars’ core revealed for the first time.” Also “Marsquakes reveal the mysterious interior of the red planet.”—”When NASA’s InSight lander touched down on Mars in 2018, the mission team hoped the stationary spacecraft would be able to perform a checkup on the red planet’s interior. Now, InSight and its instruments have exceeded those goals, revealing the mysteries of the Martian crust, mantle and core that have eluded scientists until now. It’s the first time we’ve been able to peer inside and map the interior of another planet beyond Earth. The InSight mission team was able to achieve this extraordinary feat by tracking marsquakes on the red planet — like the earthquakes we experience on Earth, just a little bit different.” Also “What’s Inside Mars? Scientists Map Internal Structure for the First Time. For the first time, scientists have mapped the internal structure of a planet other than Earth, revealing the properties of Mars’ core and mantle.”
  • DeepMind Releases Accurate Picture of the Human Proteome – ‘The Most Significant Contribution AI Has Made to Advancing Scientific Knowledge to Date’. DeepMind and EMBL release the most complete database of predicted 3D structures of human proteins. Partners use AlphaFold, the AI system recognized last year as a solution to the protein structure prediction problem, to release more than 350,000 protein structure predictions including the entire human proteome to the scientific community.”
  • Researchers detect first ‘moon-forming’ disc surrounding exoplanet.”—”For the first time, scientists have clearly identified a ring of gas and dust circling a planet outside our solar system — a discovery that could help reveal how planets and moons are formed, a study showed Thursday. The disc surrounds an exoplanet dubbed PDS 70c, one of two gas giants similar in size and mass to Jupiter that orbit the star PDS 70, nearly 400 light years from our solar system.”
  • Five Ways Humans Evolved to be Athletes. An archaeologist explores human athletic paleobiology to explain how our prowess in sport has deep roots in evolution.”
  • Microbially produced fibers: Stronger than steel, tougher than Kevlar.”—”Spider silk is said to be one of the strongest, toughest materials on the Earth. Now engineers at Washington University in St. Louis have designed amyloid silk hybrid proteins and produced them in engineered bacteria. The resulting fibers are stronger and tougher than some natural spider silks.”
  • 4.6 billion-year-old meteorite found in horseshoe footprint. The meteorite is a rare carbonaceous chondrite.”—”A crumbling hunk of rock found in a field in England is a rare meteorite from the earliest days of the solar system, dating back about 4.6 billion years. The meteorite was found in Gloucestershire in March […] The meteorite was sitting in the imprint of a horseshoe left behind in a field”
  • Strange 3D-printed shapes test 150-year-old mathematical theory.”—”A strange shape described by mathematician Lord Kelvin in 1871 and predicted to behave unusually in a fluid has finally been fully studied in the real world thanks to 3D printing – and it seems Kelvin may have been wrong. The behaviour of the shape, called an isotropic helicoid, has been described in fluid dynamics textbooks, but it hadn’t been directly measured until now.”
  • The Food System’s Carbon Footprint Has Been Vastly Underestimated. A new analysis pins one-third of global greenhouse gases on the food system by including long-overlooked factors such as transportation, packaging, and waste.”
  • The FAA Changed Its Definition of ‘Astronaut’ on the Same Day Jeff Bezos Went to Space. New FAA rules say Jeff Bezos doesn’t qualify for its astronaut wings.”
  • Tweet—”Interesting thread highlighting the confusion regarding ownership in the NFT space. Person makes a physical copy of the artwork displayed in their NFT. IMO they can’t, the NFT is not the work, and it’s not a licence either.”
  • Wally Funk Is Defying Gravity and 60 Years of Exclusion From Space. Ms. Funk’s trip to space with Jeff Bezos is reason to celebrate. But the launch this week, decades after she was denied the opportunity, also raises questions about whom space is for.” Also tweet—”‘Now that you have experienced the majesty of space, the wonder of the stars, how do you-‘ ‘I will industrialize it'”
  • Tweet—”Replacing traditional recreational trips to space for billionaires with robust public transport could offset carbon emissions – if billionaires would ride them. A team is addressing obstacles that prevent billionaires from changing their practices.”
  • Amazon reportedly worked on an Alexa wearable for kids. With GPS and some kind of integration with Amazon Kids Plus.”
  • Amazon applies for patent on secondary delivery vehicle to carry packages from truck to doorstep.” For my own part, I always imagined that deliveries would eventually be done via train cars packed with drones, that got moved around from city to city and then would release a swarm into the sky of the last miles to people’s doors.
  • The ‘Fyre Fest’ of overnight camps closed after 6 days. Camp Quinebarge did not go as planned. The rustic, long-running New Hampshire camp abruptly shut down earlier this month after just six days. Camp directors informed parents, who had shelled out $3,400 for two weeks, that they needed to pick up their children the next morning.”
  • Anti-lockdown lunacy: from the elites to the streets.”—”On the national day of ‘freedom rallies’, thousands of people protested in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane against both NSW’s lockdown and the national vaccination program, under the influence of a range of right-wing Trumpian anti-science conspiracy crap and social Darwinist individualism masquerading as the call for ‘freedom’.”
  • Watch “Do you see what I see?” Directed and Edited by Brad Abrahams. “From illustrating for Sesame Street to exposing the New World Order, this is the story of the controversial and recently departed David Dees, unofficial artist of conspiracy theory culture. What sent him down the rabbit hole, and is there a path out?”
  • Leaked RNC emails prove Republicans always knew Trump was lying about 2020 fraud. Lies of omission aren’t real lies in the GOP leadership’s eyes.”
  • Two-thirds of Southern Republicans want to secede. And that number is rising.”
  • From 2020: “Three Cheers for Socialism. Christian Love & Political Practice.”—”Is this freedom? From what, exactly? […] the classical social democrat or democratic socialist might be forgiven for thinking that Americans are curiously deluded regarding their own supposed inalienable liberties.”
  • Texan Republican Cancel Culture Targets the Teachings of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Why did Texas senators vote to drop Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” from school curriculums?”
  • Kyrsten Sinema’s Strategy of Refusing to Do Anything About Anything Is Not Impressing Voters, Poll Says. Arizona offers a natural experiment in whether people would rather see a Democrat hold out for Republican cooperation or just pass stuff they like.”
  • Appeasement, in our century.”—”Thus has Joe Biden given up the fight for democracy, in exchange for the breadcrumbs that the Dark Lord will allow.”
  • Alabama district attorney aims to prosecute a woman for taking a prescribed drug while pregnant.”—”Now she has been indicted on a felony charge because, when she was eight months’ pregnant, she refilled a legitimate opioid prescription to treat her crippling pain. If Blalock were to be convicted, her case could set a dire precedent, not only for pregnant people, but for anyone seeking a prescription for a controlled substance in the state. Blalock says her orthopedist never asked if she were pregnant when she came in to refill her hydrocodone prescription, which she’d had for years. Weeks later, she gave birth to a baby boy with no sign of neonatal abstinence syndrome. A positive drug screen, however, triggered an investigation. Investigators confirmed Blalock had a valid prescription. A pill count proved she’d been taking her medication as prescribed. Then, in a move that appears to be calculated to evade provisions of Alabama’s chemical endangerment law that are carved out for pregnant women taking legitimately prescribed medication, Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly charged Blalock with unlawful possession of a controlled substance.”
  • ‘Incel’ plotted to kill women in Ohio State University mass shooting, federal prosecutors say.”
  • Missouri attorney general says he will sue to stop mask mandate in St. Louis, St. Louis County. Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in a tweet that he intends to file a lawsuit to ‘stop this insanity'” Also Tweet—”Our top priority is protecting the health, safety, and wellbeing of the people of St. Louis City and County. Nobody is surprised that the Attorney General plans to file yet another frivolous lawsuit to serve his own political ambitions.”
  • Companies claim there’s a labor shortage. Their solution? Prisoners. Worker advocates say prison labor programs exploit workers with few options as bosses refuse to raise wages to attract employees”
  • Shoplifting Is Big News; Stealing Millions From Workers Is Not.”—”An alleged “crime surge” at Walgreens drugstores in San Francisco was a hot topic for Bay Area news outlets in the early months of 2021.” “FAIR identified 309 published pieces on the 21-second video, using a combination of Nexis and Google advanced search to find every article published by a news outlet, from the video’s publication on June 14 to July 12—a 28-day timeframe. Compare this to another Walgreens-related theft story: the November settlement of a wage theft and labor law violation class-action lawsuit against Walgreens, filed by employees in California for $4.5 million.”
  • Activision Blizzard Sued By California Over Widespread Harassment Of Women. The lawsuit highlights multiple instances of harassment and discrimination that are ‘a violation of state civil rights'”. Also “Activision Blizzard appoints former Trump official as its chief administrative officer. “Mike Pompeo’s attack dog” joined the publisher earlier this week.”
  • The Supreme Court may toss Roe. But Congress can still preserve abortion rights. A simple majority vote in the Senate would nullify the threat to reproductive health posed by the Mississippi case.”
  • Why I’m glad that I’m an ‘overthinker’.”—”‘Just going with it’ is not something I do. I have to really understand what I’m doing and then I think through almost every possibility and eventuality, like a mind map on steroids. And I plan. When people say things like: “Who could have imagined XYZ would happen?” about some entirely predictable outcome, my most common response is “I could”. I have realised that for most people I am an overthinker, but for me, it is others who underthink. I just think.”
  • Want to Be Happier? Science Says Buying a Little Time Leads to Significantly Greater Life Satisfaction. Buying things won’t make you happier. But research shows that buying time can, as long as you do it the right way.”
  • From 2012: The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Oliver Burkeman—”Success through failure, calm through embracing anxiety—a totally original approach to self-help. Self-help books don’t seem to work. Few of the many advantages of modern life seem capable of lifting our collective mood. Wealth—even if you can get it—doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness. Romance, family life, and work often bring as much stress as joy. We can’t even agree on what “happiness” means. So are we engaged in a futile pursuit? Or are we just going about it the wrong way? Looking both east and west, in bulletins from the past and from far afield, Oliver Burkeman introduces us to an unusual group of people who share a single, surprising way of thinking about life. Whether experimental psychologists, terrorism experts, Buddhists, hardheaded business consultants, Greek philosophers, or modern-day gurus, they argue that in our personal lives, and in society at large, it’s our constant effort to be happy that is making us miserable. And that there is an alternative path to happiness and success that involves embracing failure, pessimism, insecurity, and uncertainty—the very things we spend our lives trying to avoid. Thought-provoking, counterintuitive, and ultimately uplifting, The Antidote is the intelligent person’s guide to understanding the much-misunderstood idea of happiness.
  • Mending the metabolic rift: Marxism, nature and society. Karl Marx’s analysis of capitalism provides the key to understanding the environmental catastrophe we’re witnessing, and to gaining a clearer picture of what’s needed to repair our damaged relationship with the Earth.”
  • Watch “The Forgotten R-Rated Cancelled Black Widow Film.”
  • Watch “The Game Prototype That Had to Be Banned by Its Own Studio.”—”After the huge success of games like Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, Halfbrick Studios began prototyping some new ideas for their next game. This is the story behind one of those prototypes; a game that caused so many problems within the studio, its creators were forced to ban it from being played entirely.” Reminds me of when a friend and I tried to play Peter Suber’s Gnomic, and found that it was not at all fun like we thought it would be, with a lot of the same flaws and fallout mentioned for this quite different, in the particulars, game.
  • Watch “Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Evolution as an Action Hero.” The voice cast of Kevin Smith’s He-Man series is pretty awesome, and the strength and centering of SMG’s role at Teela is a cool part of the update; that’s tweaking the shit out of some people, but to hell with them. I’d forgotten that SMG was the Seventh Sister in Rebels!
  • By the Power of Grayskull, ‘He-Man’ Is Back—Beefier and Better Than Ever. The new Netflix series honors its predecessor in ways notable and sly, while also humanizing its larger-than-life heroes and villains. Kids of the ’80s, rejoice.”
  • Watch “Demonic“, dir Neill Blomkamp, with Carly Pope, Chris William Martin,
  • The Uniqueness of the Hammer Camera: Jack Asher and Arthur Grant. Jane Nightshade goes behind the camera to take a closer look at the cinematographers who helped give Hammer its ‘bright, bold and scary’ visual appeal…”
  • ‘Protected Again And Again’: How A Fencer Made It To The Tokyo Olympics Despite Sexual Assault Allegations. The US Center for SafeSport was tasked with investigating sexual abuse claims at Olympic programs. But in the first Summer Games since the agency’s creation, Team USA fencers say the system failed them.” Tweet—”A white man accused of sexual assault is given more leeway than a black woman who smoked weed.”
  • More on this, forced perspective big screen ad tech, but these are from last year: “From 3D big ‘wave’ to future of ‘Fourth Screen’ in everyday life” and “Ultra-High-Resolution 3D Like Giant Display“.
  • Can You Tell If These Cherries Floating in Water Are a Simulation? Researchers have developed a new method of 3D modeling surface tension and the results are frighteningly realistic.”
  • Watch “How One Man In Egypt Is Keeping This 200-Year-Old Tile Tradition Alive“—”Saied Hussain has been hand making tiles out of cement for over 50 years. He says he’s one of the last still doing this work in Egypt — most other workshops couldn’t withstand competition from marble and ceramic tiles. We went to Cairo to see how his business is still standing.”
  • Watch “In Their Shoes” trailer for an upcoming short film—”Here’s a cheeky preview on the short film i have been working hard on over the last few months! I will release the full film on Friday 30th July.”
  • Watch “Why French sounds so unlike other Romance languages.” Kinda wild. I kept hearing Werner Herzog’s disdain for French in my mind whilst watching this.
  • The Key to Understanding Iran Is Poetry. From angry cab drivers to COVID-19 to the war against ISIS, Iranians speak of their frustrations and hopes through verse.”
  • Surrounded by naked furries! From 2013, watch “Hentai Corporation – Equilibristic Brides [CENSORED]” More surrounded by naked people! (It takes a while to get to that specifially, but the whole thing is wacky so …) Watch “Glass Animals – Space Ghost Coast To Coast.”
  • Carl Sagan Predicted The Mess 2021 Would Be 25 years Ago.”—”Astrophysicist and author Carl Sagan managed to predict a lot of the things the challenges America faces in the year 2021 all the way back in 1995 when he was writing a book published just before his death in 1996.” A clip of Sagan calling out Star Wars, and then a pointedly prognostic passage from The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] is read—”A prescient warning of a future we now inhabit, where fake news stories and Internet conspiracy theories play to a disaffected American populace”

Omnium Gatherum: 21jul2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 21, 2021

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

  • Here’s an actual play report from 2019 for a session of the tabletop RPG Twilight 2000 which includes use of a German folk tale translated by Jürgen Hubert. “Going Home: The Witch of Bad Wilsnack.”
  • Curses [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Lish McBride—”Merit Cravan refused to fulfill her obligation to marry a prince, leading to a fairy godling’s curse. She will be forced to live as a beast forever, unless she agrees to marry a man of her mother’s choosing before her eighteenth birthday. Tevin Dumont has always been a pawn in his family’s cons. The prettiest boy in a big family, his job is to tempt naïve rich girls to abandon their engagements, unless their parents agree to pay him off. But after his mother runs afoul of the beast, she decides to trade Tevin for her own freedom. Now, Tevin and Merit have agreed that he can pay off his mother’s debt by using his con-artist skills to help Merit find the best match . . . but what if the best match is Tevin himself?”
  • Bawdy Tales and Trifles of Devilries for Ladies and Gentlemen of Experience [Amazon, Bookshop, Local Library] with art by Eugène Lepoittevin with introduction by Sarah Burns and afterword by Fanny Woodcock, due November 2021—”Commissioned by and for wealthy aristocrats for their private amusements, we introduce you to a selection of stories, poems, limericks, and bon mots assured to delight the most refined of connoisseurs. Complimented by rare erotic lithographs by renowned illustrator Eugene Lepoittevin. Lepoittevin’s Devils first appeared to acclaim in 1832. Originally, his devil was an impish troublemaker. At the behest of his publisher, he created a new series of lithographs featuring his devils ala erotique. The drawings are more humorous than titillating and reflect the sense of absurdity prevalent in European eroticism. Even so, the drawings were long banned in Europe and the United States, with the government going so far as to confiscate copies intended for the Kinsey Institute in 1956. The selection of writings is culled from humorous erotic pastiches and rare writing privately printed for exclusive collectors by underground publishers that have long been hidden in the Private Case of the British Library and the L’Enfer of the Biblioteque nationale du France. Bawdy Tales is designed with the collector in mind, utilizing vegan leather and gold embossing to simulate period morocco binding. Art Historian Sarah Burns introduces Lepoittevin’s work and career. Expert collector of written erotica, “Lady Fanny Woodcock” contributes a short history of the erotic book in Western culture.”
  • Should You Give Up Caffeine? This Author of a Book on Mind-Altering Drugs Thinks So. Your caffeine addiction is probably affecting you way more than you realize, argues Michael Pollan in his new book.” About This Is Your Mind on Plants [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Michael Pollan—”From number one New York Times bestselling author Michael Pollan, a radical challenge to how we think about drugs, and an exploration into the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants–and the equally powerful taboos. Of all the things humans rely on plants for–sustenance, beauty, medicine, fragrance, flavor, fiber–surely the most curious is our use of them to change consciousness: to stimulate or calm, fiddle with or completely alter, the qualities of our mental experience. Take coffee and tea: People around the world rely on caffeine to sharpen their minds. But we do not usually think of caffeine as a drug, or our daily use as an addiction, because it is legal and socially acceptable. So, then, what is a “drug”? And why, for example, is making tea from the leaves of a tea plant acceptable, but making tea from a seed head of an opium poppy a federal crime? In This Is Your Mind on Plants, Michael Pollan dives deep into three plant drugs–opium, caffeine, and mescaline–and throws the fundamental strangeness, and arbitrariness, of our thinking about them into sharp relief. Exploring and participating in the cultures that have grown up around these drugs while consuming (or, in the case of caffeine, trying not to consume) them, Pollan reckons with the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants. Why do we go to such great lengths to seek these shifts in consciousness, and then why do we fence that universal desire with laws and customs and fraught feelings? In this unique blend of history, science, and memoir, as well as participatory journalism, Pollan examines and experiences these plants from several very different angles and contexts, and shines a fresh light on a subject that is all too often treated reductively–as a drug, whether licit or illicit. But that is one of the least interesting things you can say about these plants, Pollan shows, for when we take them into our bodies and let them change our minds, we are engaging with nature in one of the most profound ways we can. Based in part on an essay published almost twenty-five years ago, this groundbreaking and singular consideration of psychoactive plants, and our attraction to them through time, holds up a mirror to our fundamental human needs and aspirations, the operations of our minds, and our entanglement with the natural world.” Also “The plants that change our consciousness. How three plant-derived drugs – caffeine, opium and mescaline – shape society. Michael Pollan argues in his latest book, This is Your Mind on Plants.” Also “Caffeine makes us more energetic, efficient and faster. But we have become so dependent that we need it just to get to our baseline” by Michael Pollan.
  • Ugh. Not now zombie frogs! “Meet the ‘zombie frog,’ a new species found in the Amazon. The spooky-looking amphibian is less scary than it appears to be. But it might already be endangered, as deforestation rates continue to go up.”
  • It’s Summer, And That Means The Mysterious Return Of Glacier Ice Worms.”—”These thread-like worms, each only about an inch long, wiggle up en masse in the summertime, late in the afternoon, to do — what? Scientists don’t know. It’s just one of many mysteries about these worms, which have barely been studied, even though they’re the most abundant critter living up there in the snow and ice.” “There are so many,” says Hotaling, a researcher at Washington State University. An estimated 5 billion ice worms can live in a single glacier.
  • Ugh. Not now billions of chthonic hentai ice tentacles! “15,000-year-old viruses discovered in Tibetan glacier ice. Most of the viruses were previously unknown to humans, study finds.”—”Scientists who study glacier ice have found viruses nearly 15,000 years old in two ice samples taken from the Tibetan Plateau in China. Most of those viruses, which survived because they had remained frozen, are unlike any viruses that have been cataloged to date.”
  • Ugh. Not now on-schedule societal collapse! Oh. Wait. I mean, carry on as expected, then. “MIT Predicted in 1972 That Society Will Collapse This Century. New Research Shows We’re on Schedule. A 1972 MIT study predicted that rapid economic growth would lead to societal collapse in the mid 21st century. A new paper shows we’re unfortunately right on schedule.” “new study by a director at one of the largest accounting firms in the world has found that a famous, decades-old warning from MIT about the risk of industrial civilization collapsing appears to be accurate based on new empirical data”
  • Russia’s permafrost is thawing – and it could make melting polar ice caps look like a sideshow.”
  • Germany mounts huge rescue effort after floods leave dozens dead and many more missing.”
  • Horror on ‘Line 5’ as Chinese subway floods. At least twelve died and five others were injured in the subway flood, according to city authorities, as water coursed below ground on Tuesday evening in Zhengzhou in central China’s Henan province.”
  • The Mine That Made A Difference. Teenagers in Australia successfully sued the government for failing its duty to protect them from the ravages of the climate crisis.”
  • Stoking the fires of change. Photojournalist Stuart Palley ’11 experiences wildfires in the moment. SMU researcher Chris Roos looks at them through the long lens of archaeology. Ultimately, their perspectives are the same: Wildfires are getting worse, and there’s an urgent need to adopt coexistence strategies.”—”An unusually hot, dry spell bakes the landscape. Ready to say goodbye to summer, friends gather for Labor Day barbecues in neighborhoods surrounded by forest. Winds whip up and embers fly. In the blink of an eye, 1,500 structures are set aflame.”
  • Greenland suspends oil exploration because of climate change“—”The future does not lie in oil.”
  • We Must Begin Planning Now for an Inevitable Sea Level Rise.”—”Most books about our climate emergency are sobering reads. John Englander’s new book, Moving to Higher Ground: Rising Sea Level and the Path Forward, is certainly no exception. A trained oceanographer, Englander lays out the scientific case for what he calls “unstoppable” sea level rise with utter conviction. But to his great credit he follows that litany of fairly grim news with practical advice and glimmers of hope. His short book should be a primer for coastal city planners and public officials. We have some time, he writes, but not all the time in the world, so we need to get our collective brains around the problem and begin planning for it now.” About Moving To Higher Ground: Rising Sea Level and the Path Forward [Amazon, Bookshop, Author, Local Library] by John Englander—”Ice on land is melting, and sea level is rising, both at astonishing rates never seen in recorded history. Are you, your property, investments, and family ready for these unprecedented changes? Read Moving to Higher Ground and… Learn how Sea Level Rise (SLR) is unstoppable for many centuries due to excess heat already stored in our oceans – and how soon our shorelines will go underwater. Understand how disastrous SLR will profoundly affect more than 10,000 coastal communities as soon as 2050, both in the U.S and around the world. What will happen where you live? How much will the water rise? And when? Find out why extreme weather events, forest fires, and flooding share the same causes as catastrophic SLR, but weather disruptions are temporary and SLR permanent. Devastatingly so. Discover what industries and properties will feel the greatest, and earliest, impacts. Learn what all planners and coastal property owners need to know now to urgently begin to move and adapt. Examine the unique problems faced by the military, Infrastructure planners, architects, flood managers, policy planners, banks, insurance companies, and real estate businesses. And some unique solutions. Find out how and why government policy makers have been completely ineffective delivering any successful strategy for climate change and sea level rise. Answer the questions, WHAT SHOULD WE DO NOW? And what does THE PATH FORWARD look like? In time of great financial and environmental peril, WHO WILL LEAD US? Prepare to be surprised at the answer. John Englander is a renowned oceanographer and expert on climate change and sea level rise. His best-selling first book, High Tide on Main Street, was published in 2012.”
  • The Maori Vision of Antarctica’s Future. Maori may have been first to reach Antarctica, in the seventh century. But the past matters less than what lies ahead, Indigenous scholars say.”
  • NASA beams back spectacular images of Jupiter and our solar system’s biggest moon, Ganymede.”—”NASA’s Juno probe has flown closer to Jupiter and its largest moon, Ganymede, than any other spacecraft in more than two decades — and the images it beamed back of the gas giant and its icy orb are breathtaking. Juno approached Ganymede on June 7, before making its 34th flyby of Jupiter the following day, traveling from pole to pole in under three hours.”
  • A powerful jet emerges from a black hole in unprecedented detail in new images. The new images show a black hole jet at 16 times sharper resolution than previously possible.”
  • Our universe might be a giant three-dimensional donut, really.“—”Imagine a universe where you could point a spaceship in one direction and eventually return to where you started. If our universe were a finite donut, then such movements would be possible and physicists could potentially measure its size.”
  • Research Suggests We’re All Getting Less Creative and Scientists Think They Know Why. Scores on standard tests of creativity have been declining for decades.”—”‘A researcher at the University of William and Mary analyzed 300,000 Torrance Test scores since the ’50s. She found that creativity scores began to nosedive in 1990. She concluded that we’re now facing a ‘creativity crisis,” reported author Michael Easter on Medium recently. That sounds alarming, but the good news is that, unlike the decline in IQ scores, scientists have a pretty good guess what’s causing our collective creativity to tank. Scientists blame ‘our hurried, over-scheduled lives’ and ‘ever increasing amounts of (time) interacting with electronic entertainment devices,’ Easter explains.” “The good news is that just as scientists are clear about the cause of our ‘creativity crisis,’ they are clear on what individuals can do to reclaim their natural inventiveness. Actively scheduling time to think, reflect, and experiment into your days, putting reasonable boundaries on your use of passive tech (there are obviously countless ways to use your devices to express yourself and create), varying your routine and your company, and getting out for more long walks can all help ensure you’re bucking the trend and nurturing your personal creativity.”
  • At most, just 7% of the human genome is unique to our species. We share most genes with Neanderthals, Denisovans, and other ancestors.. Just 1.5% to 7% of the human genome is unique to our species, a new study suggests. Neanderthals, Denisovans, and other ancestors share most of the same genes found in modern humans. Genes unique to humans are involved in brain development, which may be what sets our species apart.”
  • More about this: “Scientists just discovered long-sought-after ‘grandmother neurons’.”—”What happens in your brain when you recognize your grandmother? In the 1960s, some neuroscientists thought a single brain cell called the “grandmother neuron” would light up only at the sight of your grandmother’s face. Almost immediately, neuroscientists began to dismiss the theory — a single neuron could not correspond to one idea or person, they argued. More than 50 years later, new research in monkeys shows that “grandmother neurons” may exist after all.”
  • Brain implant gives paralyzed man ability to ‘speak’ again.”—”A paralyzed man who lost his ability to speak has been given a voice again after scientists implanted a device to decode his brain waves — a potentially game-changing medical breakthrough for people who cannot communicate due to stroke, accidents or illness.”
  • Derbyshire cave house identified as ninth-century home to exiled king. Anchor Church cave is thought to be one of the oldest intact domestic interiors found in the UK.”
  • Leading Science. Sometimes, research is like elite sport. In the middle of this sport-laden summer, the editorial board chose elite sport as a kick-off for the theme of this issue. Which price are you prepared to pay to reach the top? Just like in sport, top-flight researchers can experience many hardships.” Tweet—”Your regular dose of toxicity from our national science funder. “Not everyone is good enough or has the right attitude to succeed.” And ‘striving to reach the top is an individual’s free choice. You have a choice, nobody is forcing you.’ Wow. Just wow.”
  • Dogs tune into people in ways even human-raised wolves don’t. A study supports the idea that domestication has wired dogs’ brains for communicating with people.” Also “Study Shows Why You Can’t Have Wolves as Pets. Hand-reared wolf puppies remained wild and afraid of strangers but in dogs, communication skills emerge in early puppyhood, says Duke University-led study.”
  • Harvard-MIT Quantum Computing Breakthrough – ‘We Are Entering a Completely New Part of the Quantum World’.”
  • Tweet—”It is easier for a rocket to pass through the eye of a needle than for a billionaire to enter the kingdom of God.” Tweet—”Again: very VERY happy Wally Funk finally got her due. Wish it hadn’t taken a tax cheating, union-busting, hoarding, monopolizing multi-billionaire to get her there. The values we embed in technoscientific ventures matter.” Tweet—”All these billionaires going into space are like the losing kids entering Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.” Tweet—” Congratulations to Ernst Blofeld and Hugo Drax for the successful launch of their space-based world domination platforms.” Tweet—”I prefer watching the launches of independent bookstores. They’re a lot more entertaining. And they actually occupy space.”
  • The Emperor’s New Rocket: Last Words on Branson’s Big Ride. I’m fine with launching his wealthy clientele into space. It’s bringing them back I’m not crazy about.”—”he’s a self-indulgent parasite, a space-age Nero fiddling while the world burns.”
  • From 2018, tweet—”You wake up from cryonic suspension. Jeff Bezos is staring down at you. ‘Welcome to Colony 6745’, he says. ‘You’re Jeff Bezos!’ you sputter. ‘I’m a Jeff Bezos’, he replies. ‘Every Amazon space colony has a Jeff Bezos. Now, would you prefer to start in packing or deliveries?'”
  • Why we can’t stop talking about billionaires. Tech billionaires emerged from a year of hardship as more than leaders of iconic companies. They are central — almost too central — characters in American life.”
  • But how do I print a banner out on tractor feed paper? “You Can Now Revisit the Most Popular Desktop Publishing App of the ’80s in Your Browser. Dust off the dot-matrix printer and create retro-tastic birthday cards and banners at home with The Print Shop.”
  • An evening with Kindle Vella: First impressions of Amazon’s new attempt to reimagine reading.”—”The serialized story is a mainstay of the literary world, a tried-and-true formula for creating a tantalizing tale, from opening hook to closing cliffhanger. But it’s the rare author who can keep readers engrossed in a narrative when the unparalleled drama of their own lives is just a tap or click away. That’s the fundamental challenge facing Kindle Vella. I experienced it myself while spending a few hours with Amazon’s new “episodic story platform” after its official release Tuesday afternoon. Despite the ‘Kindle’ in the name, Amazon isn’t offering Vella via its line of e-readers, at least not yet.”
  • Netflix Plans to Offer Video Games in Push Beyond Films, TV. Netflix Inc., marking its first big move beyond TV shows and films, is planning an expansion into video games and has hired a former Electronic Arts Inc. and Facebook Inc. executive to lead the effort.”
  • A bunch of yeqrs ago, I imagined that Amazon would start using train cars as carriers filled with drones to travel around and deliver swarms of packages. Also “Women busted for drone cigarette delivery during hotel COVID lockdown.”
  • BREAKING: Austrian Supreme Court asks CJEU if Facebook “undermines” the GDPR by confusing ‘consent’ with an alleged ‘contract’.” Also tweet thread—”Heads up, people who don’t follow GDPR news: This case is a big deal. It’s basically asking the CJEU to rule that FB’s whole ads system violates the GDPR.”
  • Social Media States. Social media companies, which yield state-like power, have a lot to learn from early modern company-states like the East India Company.” Um, and, you know, learn from the example of the Templars, probably.
  • Facebook Knifes Its Own Analytics Tool to Hide Its Ben Shapiro Problem. Facebook reportedly reassigned dozens of employees at its data tool CrowdTangle after it showed right-wing content thrives on the News Feed.”
  • Tweet thread—”I am often asked if I will “return to cryptocurrency” or begin regularly sharing my thoughts on the topic again. My answer is a wholehearted “no”, but to avoid repeating myself I figure it might be worthwhile briefly explaining why here…” “After years of studying it, I believe that cryptocurrency is an inherently right-wing, hyper-capitalistic technology built primarily to amplify the wealth of its proponents through a combination of tax avoidance, diminished regulatory oversight and artificially enforced scarcity.” “This is the type of dangerous ‘free for all’ capitalism cryptocurrency was unfortunately architected to facilitate since its inception.”
  • MS BOB, which was a major interesting but flawed shell-on-a-shell release from the Agent project headed by Melinda French, who met future partner Bill Gates whilst project manager; from pre-history to birth to emoji, Clippy’s had a long wild ride! “Microsoft is bringing back Clippy“—”Clippy hasn’t had an easy life. Microsoft’s iconic but polarizing virtual assistant first appeared in Windows 97 as a small paper clip to help Microsoft Office users. It was given the boot by Office 2007.” But Scuzz the Rat was always the best of them.
  • ‘I’m sorry, but it’s too late’ Alabama doctor on treating unvaccinated, dying COVID patients.”—”‘I’m admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections,’ wrote Cobia, a hospitalist at Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham, in an emotional Facebook post Sunday. ‘One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late.'”
  • Tweet—”NEW: probably the most important Covid chart I’ve made. As Delta goes global, it’s a tale of two pandemics, as the heavily-vaccinated Western world talks of reopening while deaths across Africa and Asia soar to record highs.”
  • U.S. Surgeon General Calls Covid Misinformation ‘Urgent Threat’.” Also tweet—”Disinformation is the other pandemic that’s killing people. Science has provided us an incredibly effective vaccine, and yet people are still dying because of the utter bullshit they read and hear from those infected with anti-vax anti-science propaganda.”
  • Tweet thread—”1/ Here is a comprehensive review of the data on whether we need COVID BOOSTER SHOTS. THE MOST IMPORTANT TAKEAWAY: IF YOU HAVEN’T YET GOTTEN A COVID VACCINE, NOW’S THE TIME! I’ll put a Threadreader unroll at the end for those of you who find that more convenient to read/share.”
  • Siouxsie Wiles: Boris Johnson’s dangerous experiment puts everyone at risk. On Monday, despite case numbers soaring, all Covid-19 restrictions in England will be lifted. Siouxsie Wiles explains why for many, ‘Freedom Day’ will be anything but.” “From Monday, if people get infected, it’ll be their fault for not being cautious or vigilant enough. It’s a narrative that is grossly offensive given it will disproportionately impact those whose jobs and income put them in harm’s way”.
  • “‘We didn’t want to be in the news’: Pastor pleas for ‘mercy’ after 125 in his ‘masks optional’ summer camp get Covid. Hundreds may have been exposed to the Delta variant due to the camp.” Tweet—”Camp Fuckaround-Findout”
  • Jeanette Archer Accusing Boris Johnson and UK Government of Being Satanic Child Killers 15-5-2021.”—”Here multiple false-accuser Jeanette Archer, whose allegations have already been investigated in detail by the British police and found ‘no case to answer’, hi-jacks an anti-Covid Rules protest in London to falsely accuse Boris Johnson, his cabinet and the entire civil-service of being Satanic child killers hooked on adrenochrome. Other idiots in the caucus of SRA fundie believers in the UK accompany her to display their own lack of intellectual rigour and ability to believe any old tosh some attention seeker puts out as long as it has the suffix ‘Satan’ attached to it.”
  • Apple under pressure over iPhone security after NSO spyware claims. Apple urged to work with rivals after alleged surveillance of journalists, activists.” Also “In Orban’s Hungary, spyware was used to monitor journalists and others who might challenge the government. The deployment of the tool, confirmed with forensics, shows a willingness to use tactics previously deemed out-of-bounds.”
  • ‘Reichstag moment’: Joint Chiefs chairman feared Trump was laying groundwork for coup.”
  • Kremlin papers appear to show Putin’s plot to put Trump in White House. Exclusive: Documents suggest Russia launched secret multi-agency effort to interfere in US democracy.”—”There are paragraphs on how Russia might insert ‘media viruses’ into American public life, which could become self-sustaining and self-replicating. These would alter mass consciousness, especially in certain groups.” Where’s the antimemetics division when you … wait. what was I saying? “Trump did not respond to a request for comment.” 👀 Tweet—”Leaked papers say that Putin ordered an operation to put Trump in WH at a meet w top officials in January 2016. That operation did happen but it would have been planned well before Jan 2016. Also leaks don’t come from Russia. This is strategic and masked.” “Russian intelligence documents don’t just appear like that especially with something like installing a president into US. Russian intel services would leak documents to mask the true events that happened and create a legend. It is interesting they decided to do this to trump now.”
  • Tweet—”don’t buy into nazi trash”.
  • ‘The real damage’. Why FEMA is denying disaster aid to Black families who’ve lived for generations in the Deep South.”
  • We Still Won’t Admit Why So Many People Believe the Big Lie. Six months after the insurrection it triggered, it’s clear that the stolen-election nonsense is just a drop in a tidal wave of bullshit.”
  • Tweet—”Scoop: Justice Dept is quietly seeking a 50-year bar to release of grand jury material – a rule which, if adopted by the courts, would keep Mueller-Trump records secret until 2069…” “…If this rule had existed then, we would still be waiting for the release of the Nixon grand jury material in 2023 or 2024…” Also “Justice Department seeks 50-year bar to release of grand jury material.”
  • Justice Department Sought Reporter Records from Security Firm Proofpoint, in Bid to Unmask Leak Sources. Documents unsealed by a court this week reveal that the Justice Department didn’t just go after email providers to obtain reporter records, but also went after the security firm Proofpoint.”
  • Tweet—”I’ll stop calling them sociopaths when they stop acting like sociopaths.”
  • An American Kingdom. A new and rapidly growing Christian movement is openly political, wants a nation under God’s authority, and is central to Donald Trump’s GOP.”
  • From the Pledge of Allegiance dept: “Lindsey Graham pledges to ‘go to war’ for Chick-fil-A amid Notre Dame protest. Notre Dame students objected to a possible Chick-fil-A on campus, citing the company’s “history of antagonism toward the LGBTQ+ community.”
  • No Black parents, teachers or scholars invited to Missouri hearing on teaching race.”
  • From the #HasBenAndJerrysTweetedYet? dept: “Israel Warns Unilever Chief Over Ben & Jerry’s Boycott. Ice cream maker will no longer sell in occupied territories. Move spurs tension between Ben & Jerry’s and parent Unilever.” Also “Ben & Jerry’s says it will stop sales in ‘occupied Palestinian territory’. The announcement broke about two months of social media silence by the Vermont company, which has long supported progressive causes but came under mounting pressure to stop ice cream sales in the settlements following Israel’s intense response to Palestinian rocket attacks in May.” “The decision was a significant win for pro-Palestinian groups who have pushed companies to divest their business and financial dealings with Israel, but was sharply condemned by Israeli government officials and some Jewish groups in the United States. The company said it would not renew a long-standing agreement with its factory in Israel after next year but would ‘stay in Israel through a different arrangement.'” Also “Israel vows to ‘act aggressively’ against Ben & Jerry’s.”
  • Huh. I wonder what could possibly be the reason. Check out the side by side photo of the teams. “Women’s Handball Players Are Fined for Rejecting Bikini Uniforms. Norway’s beach handball players were each fined 150 euros for wearing shorts rather than the required bikini bottoms. A spokeswoman for the International Handball Federation said she didn’t know the reason for the rule.”
  • Tweet thread—”People often assume that the Greeks invented democracy. But societies throughout history have independently built systems in which a large portion of the population shared political power. My new favorite examples are the ganas & sanghas, the republics of ancient India.”
  • William F. Nolan, Iconic Sci-Fi Author Who Co-Penned ‘Logan’s Run’, Dies at 93. The wordsmith churned out hundreds of pieces throughout his illustrious career, including biographies, short stories, nonfiction, poetry and prose.”
  • I mean, I’m kind of a special collections curator, and I find things in here that reflect my experience. “The Evolving Role of a Special Collections Curator.”
  • Shanghai Astronomy Museum“—”Drawing inspiration from astronomical principles, the design invokes the experience of orbital motion. Each of the building’s three principal forms – the Oculus, the Inverted Dome and the Sphere – act as functioning astronomical instruments, tracking the sun, moon, and stars and reminding visitors that our conception of time originates in distant astronomical objects.”
  • The Myth and Magic of Generating New Ideas. A mathematician on how to get the mind into motion.”—”The origin stories of big ideas, whether in math or any other field, generally highlight the eureka moments….But arduous, mundane work is a key part of the process; without it, the story is just a myth.”
  • One Change at Work Could Boost Your Health and Productivity. Iceland experiment reveals to work better, you should work less.”
  • In ‘My Unorthodox Life,’ Julia Haart Bares More Than Just Her Knees. Less than a decade after fleeing a repressive ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, Haart heads a global talent empire. Her next challenge? Letting viewers peek behind the curtain.”
  • ‘Deeper Magic From Before the Dawn of Time’. ‘Loki’ proves that Marvel needs to ditch the oldest plot cliché in the book.”
  • Tweet—”We’re not going to spoil #Loki – promise! – but if you’ve already seen the final episode of Tom Hiddleston’s time-hopping adventure, we think you may have spotted lots and lots of Kintsugi. Here’s a thread about this Japanese art of repair! Thread.”
  • See the road sign that’s about to take over America. Electric vehicles are about to take over American roadways, which means there’s a prime opportunity to replace gas station signs with something better.”
  • Jackson Browne: Downhill from Everywhere review – voice of the boomers faces his mortality. Still regarded as the most artful of 1970s west coast singer-songwriters, Browne frets about the environment and his use by date.” About Downhill From Everywhere [Amazon, Spotify, Apple] by Jackson Browne. Also “Jackson Browne: ‘I think desire is the last domino to fall’
  • Cristela Alonzo to Host The CW’s ‘Legends of the Hidden Temple’. The comedian, writer and producer will guide contestants through challenges in the network’s reboot of the Nickelodeon game show.”
  • Someone appears to have collected what they say is the entire legendary book, mentioned by the documentary as being secretly shared and widely influential in the industry. Tweet—”The Moebius-illustrated story book for Jodorowsky’s DUNE, all here, now. You’re very welcome” Google Photos shared folder.
  • Personally, I find this series, based on Luke Pearson’s comics, with a consistently brava and nuanced on-point voice performance by Bella Ramsey (see her live action in a breakout Game of Thrones role, and maybe skip her in the first 2 seasons of the Worst Witch remake, unless you’re really a fan of that in particular, maybe as a guilty pleasure), to be lots of fun. But, Hilda s02e03 “The Witch” is especially awesome. The library’s secret room has a secret room that has … And, the language of magic is Swedish. Too many neat things for me in this episode to mention them all.
  • Tweet—”Very cool: a Redditor figured out that the reflection in Buzz Aldrin’s round, mirrored visor in a famous Apollo 11 lunar photo is, optically, a fisheye image of Buzz’ POV at that instant. He extracted & remapped those image pixels into a new VR-like view.” Also “I unwrapped Neil Armstrong’s visor to 360 sphere to see what he saw.
  • Watch “Musicians create album from Rumi’s 13th-century poetry. Musicians create album from Rumi’s 13th-century poetry. Nadim Namaan and Dana Al Fardan spent their time under lockdown interacting through screens and jetting between Doha, Dubai, and the UK to record songs written using translations of Rumi’s poems.” Also “Dana Al Fardan composes second musical ‘Rumi’ with co-writer Nadim Naaman.”
  • From the “Zoom Zone” dept: tweet—”Well, this is horrifying”.
  • We narrowly missed a reboot of Reservoir Dogs with an all Black cast. While on the ReelBlend podcast, Tarantino said wanted his last film before retiring to be a reboot featuring all Black actors.”
  • From the Blowback dept: Tweet—”witchtok went and hexed the damn moon. Seems that the moon has responded.”
  • Tweet thread—”Have you ever wondered why we don’t find fossils in the Appalachian mountains? The truth is, we do, they’re just not the kind of fossils you might think of—there are no mammals, no dinosaurs, no reptiles. There’s something else entirely. 🧵”
  • TIL there was an ancient Egyptian canal that existed for millennia. “The Wadi Tumilat and the ‘Canal of the Pharaohs’.” Also “The Timeline of the Plans and Projects to Link the Eastern Mediterranean Region to the Red Sea by Water: The Egyptian Canals Which Preceded the Suez Canal.”
  • Tweet—”Every time someone says I shouldn’t complain about some aspect of society because things are SO MUCH BETTER than they were 50 years ago, I think about how lucky we are that people 50 years ago ignored the same advice.”
  • I was there during the troubles of ’85. I visited the actual HQ of the real opposition campaign in Seattle’s Pioneer Square district. What I’m saying is that I’ve seen things. And … unless they’re adding cocaine back (see the aforementioned Michael Pollan book, I suppose), I don’t give a damn. I mean, it’s basically someone known for shag rugs saying they’re going to change the composition of the yarn in some way. Who the hell cares? Sit down, everyone. Stop drinking that coloured sugar-water swill. If you’re going to drink poison, there’s a lot more fun than that to be had, after all. Make your own at home, even! “Coca-Cola Is Changing the Flavor of a Soda. Again. The company promised “an even more iconic Coke taste” for its new version of Coke Zero. But some anxious consumers remember the New Coke debacle of 1985.”

Omnium Gatherum: 18jul2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 18, 2021

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

Omnium Gatherum: 14jul2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 14, 2021

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

  • Happy Bastille Day! “A Guide to the French Revolution. For Bastille Day, we have answers to a bunch of questions about the French Revolution.”
  • How to watch the Perseids — the best meteor shower of the year.”—”The meteor shower peaks in mid-August, peaking this year on August 11, 12 and 13. Under ideal conditions, skywatchers can expect to see up to 100 meteors per hour — a much higher amount than most other showers. NASA considers it the best shower of the year, and it’s always a crowd-pleaser.”
  • The Abolition of Prison [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Jacques Lesage de La Haye, trans. Scott Branson—”he Abolition of Prison provides a reflection from a longtime prison abolitionist on the ideas, actions, and writings of anti-prison activism over the last fifty years. This book powerfully makes the case for the end of prisons, punishment, and guilt and, instead, suggests we work towards social change, care, collectivity, and ending regimes of repression and violence. The book weaves together Lesage de La Haye’s own experience in prison, as a psychologist, and as an abolitionist, with arguments and proposals from abolitionist writings, and countless examples of prisoner actions, prison alternatives, and attempts to create a more just world. Lesage de La Haye argues simply that, if we take the justifications for prison and punishment at their word, we must evaluate the system as a complete failure and stop supporting and funneling money into it. There is a long history of alternative ways to address problems in society, both inside the Western systems of law and from Indigenous communities. Lesage de la Haye starkly portrays the effects of punishment, concluding that prison is simply a slow death. The move toward abolition is achievable today and necessary for a society free from systematized oppression.”
  • The Letters of Shirley Jackson [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] edited by Laurence Jackson Hyman with Bernice M Murphy—”A bewitchingly brilliant collection of never-before-published letters from the renowned author of “The Lottery” and The Haunting of Hill House. Shirley Jackson is one of the most important American authors of the last hundred years and among our greatest chroniclers of the female experience. This extraordinary compilation of personal correspondence has all the hallmarks of Jackson’s beloved fiction: flashes of the uncanny in the domestic, sparks of horror in the quotidian, and the veins of humor that run through good times and bad. ‘i am having a fine time doing a novel with my left hand and a long story–with as many levels as grand central station–with my right hand, stirring chocolate pudding with a spoon held in my teeth, and tuning the television with both feet.’ Written over the course of nearly three decades, from Jackson’s college years to six days before her early death at the age of forty-eight, these letters become the autobiography Shirley Jackson never wrote. As well as being a bestselling author, Jackson spent much of her adult life as a mother of four in Vermont, and the landscape here is often the everyday: raucous holidays and trips to the dentist, overdue taxes and frayed lines of Christmas lights, new dogs and new babies. But in recounting these events to family, friends, and colleagues, she turns them into remarkable stories: entertaining, revealing, and wise. At the same time, many of these letters provide fresh insight into the genesis and progress of Jackson’s writing over nearly three decades. ‘The novel is getting sadder. It’s always such a strange feeling–I know something’s going to happen, and those poor people in the book don’t; they just go blithely on their ways.’ Compiled and edited by her elder son, Laurence Jackson Hyman, in consultation with Jackson scholar Bernice M. Murphy and featuring Jackson’s own witty line drawings, this intimate collection holds the beguiling prism of Shirley Jackson–writer and reader, mother and daughter, neighbor and wife–up to the light.”
  • Stanford scholar’s new book examines how to build social justice across age groups. New book highlights the need to distribute jobs, income and other essential resources in a way that treats people who are young and old as equals.” About Justice Across Ages: Treating Young and Old as Equals [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Juliana Uhuru Bidadanure—”Age structures our lives and societies. It shapes social institutions, roles, and relationships, as well as how we assign obligations and entitlements within them. Each life-stage also brings its characteristic opportunities and vulnerabilities, which spawn multidimensional inequalities between young and old. How should we respond to these age-related inequalities? Are they unfair in the same way gender or racial inequalities are? Or is there something distinctive about age that mitigates ethical concern? Justice Across Ages addresses these and related questions, offering an ambitious theory of justice between age groups. Written at the intersection of philosophy and public policy, the book sets forth ethical principles to guide a fair distribution of goods like jobs, healthcare, income, and political power among persons at different stages of their life. At a time where young people are starkly underrepresented in legislatures and subject to disproportionally high unemployment rates, the book moves from foundational theory to the specific policy reforms needed today. If we are ever to live in a society where people are treated as equals, the book argues, we must pay vigilant attention to how age membership can alter our social standing. We should regard with suspicion commonplace forms of age-based social hierarchy, such as the political marginalization of teenagers and young adults, the infantilization of young adults and older citizens, and the spatial segregation of elderly persons. This position carries important implications for how we should think about the political and moral value of equality, design our social and political institutions, and conduct ourselves in a range of contexts including families, workplaces, and schools.”
  • The Verdigris Pawn [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Alysa Wishingrad—”A boy who underestimates his power . . . A girl with a gift long thought lost . . . A Land ready for revolution . . . The heir to the Land should be strong. Fierce. Ruthless. At least, that’s what Beau’s father has been telling him his whole life, since Beau is the exact opposite of what the heir should be. With little control over his future, Beau is kept locked away, just another pawn in his father’s quest for ultimate power. That is, until Beau meets a girl who shows him the secrets his father has kept hidden. For the first time, Beau begins to question everything he’s ever been told and sets off in search of a rebel who might hold the key to setting things right. Teaming up with a fiery runaway boy, their mission quickly turns into something far greater as sinister forces long lurking in the shadows prepare to make their final move—no matter what the cost. But it just might be Beau who wields the power he seeks . . . if he can go from pawn to player before the Land tears itself apart.”
  • The secret lives of Neanderthal children. Among the growing collection of Neanderthal remains to be discovered are fossilised bones belonging to children. Now we are gaining unprecedented insights into what being a young Neanderthal was like.”
  • From the Four Humours dept: “Cholera was the most frequently seen facial expression at Euro 2020. Facial expression of anger was the most visible during 51 matches of the Euro 2020 soccer tournament, which ended on Sunday, reports a study presented on Monday by the Emotional Expression Laboratory (FEELab) in Porto.”—”A facial expression of anger was already the emotion most displayed during the 2010, 2014 and 2018 World Cups and in Europe in 2012 and 2016, which Portugal won by defeating hosts Franca in the final with a lone goal from Eder in overtime. (1-0). Compared to these five studies conducted previously, Euro2020 showed a Low intensity of cholera expression On the faces of the players and A slight increase in joy and sadness, After analyzing the pain for the first time.”
  • Moon’s Wobble Will Intensify Flooding Along U.S. Coasts by the Mid-2030s, Research Suggests. A natural astronomical cycle is poised to make the effects of human-caused global warming even worse.” Also “A ‘wobble’ in the moon’s orbit could result in record flooding in the 2030s, new study finds. The entire US coastline is in for a one-two punch from the lunar cycle and climate change.” Also “Rapid increases and extreme months in projections of United States high-tide flooding. Coastal locations around the United States, particularly along the Atlantic coast, are experiencing recurrent flooding at high tide. Continued sea-level rise (SLR) will exacerbate the issue where present, and many more locations will begin to experience recurrent high-tide flooding (HTF) in the coming decades. Here we use established SLR scenarios and flooding thresholds to demonstrate how the combined effects of SLR and nodal cycle modulations of tidal amplitude lead to acute inflections in projections of future HTF. The mid-2030s, in particular, may see the onset of rapid increases in the frequency of HTF in multiple US coastal regions. We also show how annual cycles and sea-level anomalies lead to extreme seasons or months during which many days of HTF cluster together. Clustering can lead to critical frequencies of HTF occurring during monthly or seasonal periods one to two decades prior to being expected on an annual basis.”
  • Move over, Mars: Why the moons of Jupiter and Saturn may be key to finding alien life. Several scientific papers this year touch on the search for faint signs of life in our solar system — with a June paper on Jupiter’s Enceladus offering one of the most intriguing prospects.”
  • The hunt for wormholes: How scientists look for space-time tunnels. Wormholes, a science fiction staple, might be real after all.”
  • Israel’s SpaceIL secures funds for new lunar mission.”—”The first ‘Beresheet,’ or ‘Genesis’ spacecraft, built by SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, crashed into the moon moments before touchdown in April 2019, falling short in its attempt to become the first privately funded lunar landing.”
  • Teardrop star reveals hidden supernova doom. International team led by University of Warwick makes rare sighting of a binary star system heading towards supernova. Star system’s fate was identified from its unusual light variations, a sign that one star has been distorted into a teardrop shape by a massive white dwarf companion. Supernovas from such star systems can be used as ‘standard candles’ to measure expansion of the universe.”
  • Degradable plastic polymer breaks down in sunlight and air.”—”Chemical characterization using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and mass spectroscopy, among other techniques, revealed that the plastic decomposed rapidly in sunlight from a petroleum-based polymer into succinic acid, a naturally occurring nontoxic small molecule that doesn’t leave microplastic fragments in the environment. Although a sun-sensitive plastic might not be a good choice for bottles or bags that need to last more than a week on shelves, integrating the environmentally degradable polymer as a minor ingredient, or with other biodegradable polymers, could help speed breakdown of these materials in landfills …”
  • Immune system ‘clock’ predicts illness and mortality. Scientists at Stanford and the Buck Institute have found a way to predict an individual’s immunological decline as well as the likelihood of incurring age-associated diseases and becoming frail.”
  • Researchers discover way to improve immune response.”—”‘We discovered that Tpex cells were exposed to increased amounts of an immunosuppressive molecule, TGFb, early on in an infection. This molecule essentially acts as a brake, reducing the activity of mTOR and thereby dampening the immune response.’ Excitingly, the researchers were able to use this discovery to improve the immune response to severe viral infection.”
  • Inhaled COVID-19 vaccine prevents disease and transmission in animals.”—”In a new study assessing the potential of a single-dose, intranasal COVID-19 vaccine, a team from the University of Iowa and the University of Georgia found that the vaccine fully protects mice against lethal COVID-19 infection. The vaccine also blocks animal-to-animal transmission of the virus. The findings were published July 2 in the journal Science Advances.”
  • Protein appears to prevent tumor cells from spreading via blood vessels. Johns Hopkins researchers describe protein regulating key step in cancer metastasis.”
  • People given ‘friendly’ bacteria in nose drops protected against meningitis.”—”A world-first trial has shown that nose drops of modified ‘friendly’ bacteria protect against meningitis. Led by Professor Robert Read and Dr Jay Laver from the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre and the University of Southampton, the work is the first of its kind. Together they inserted a gene into a harmless type of a bacteria, that allows it to remain in the nose and trigger an immune response. They then introduced these bacteria into the noses of healthy volunteers via nose drops. The results, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, showed a strong immune response against bacteria that cause meningitis and long-lasting protection.”
  • Gene Therapy Offers Long-Awaited Hope for Children with Rare, Incurable Disorder. Patients with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s May Benefit from Novel Treatment.”
  • Sweet Success: CABBI Demonstrates First Precision Breeding of Sugarcane With CRISPR/Cas9.”—”Sugarcane is one of the most productive plants on Earth, providing 80 percent of the sugar and 30 percent of the bioethanol produced worldwide. Its size and efficient use of water and light give it tremendous potential for the production of renewable value-added bioproducts and biofuels. But the highly complex sugarcane genome poses challenges for conventional breeding, requiring more than a decade of trials for the development of an improved cultivar. Two recently published innovations by University of Florida researchers at the Department of Energy’s Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI) demonstrated the first successful precision breeding of sugarcane by using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing — a far more targeted and efficient way to develop new varieties.”
  • Large sharks observed doing shift work to share their resources. Groups of six different large shark species have been found to share resources by foraging the same area at different times of the day.” There was a British show about cats that found that featured research demonstrating that domesticated cats, who also went outside and were living in close proximity to each other, sometimes hunt in shifts too. It was this show: “The Secret Life of the Cat.” Here’s a related article: “Secret life of the cat: The science of tracking our pets. They share our homes, sleep on our beds and occasionally bring unwanted gifts. Yet, despite our domestic cats playing a big role in our lives, we know surprisingly little about what they get up to. A research project by BBC2’s Horizon and the Royal Veterinary College set out to find out more. Alan Wilson, a professor specialising in animal movement, describes what was involved.” And the money quote: “We also saw evidence that some cats appeared to ‘timeshare’ territory – roaming outside at different times to avoid meeting or coming into conflict with other cats.”
  • The Macabre and Magical Human-Canine Story. Zooarchaeologists and geneticists are exploring how wolves and domestic dogs have been humanity’s predator, prey, and partner.”
  • People dumped their pets into lakes, officials say. Now football-size goldfish are taking over. Goldfish are an invasive species that can damage habitats, and their presence appears to be a growing problem in waterways across the United States and around the world.”
  • Why are octopuses so intelligent? The opening of jars, while impressive and often used to illustrate octopus intelligence, is not their most remarkable ability.”
  • Isaac Newton Revising His Magnum Opus. Isaac Newton (1642-1727). Autograph manuscript, [Cambridge, c. May-July 1694], revisions to three sections of the first edition of the Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica, a heavily corrected draft with three additional notes by the Scottish mathematician and astronomer David Gregory. Price realised GBP 1,702,500.”
  • Technology that restores the sense of touch in nerves damaged as a result of injury. Cut your finger and lost your sense of touch? There’s hope yet.”
  • “Interactive police line-ups improve eyewitness accuracy – study. Eyewitnesses can identify perpetrators more accurately when they are able to manipulate 3D images of suspects, according to a new study.”
  • New electronic paper displays brilliant colours. Imagine sitting out in the sun, reading a digital screen as thin as paper, but seeing the same image quality as if you were indoors. Thanks to research from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, it could soon be a reality. A new type of reflective screen – sometimes described as ‘electronic paper’ – offers optimal colour display, while using ambient light to keep energy consumption to a minimum.”
  • Facebook staffers were told by execs to scrap any mention of Russia in a 2017 white paper on the platform’s security concerns: ‘We started to feel like we were part of a cover-up’. Facebook’s 2017 white paper initially mentioned Russian election interference, a new book says. Executives told staff to remove all mention of Russia from the white paper, “An Ugly Truth” says. Management thought it would have been ‘politically unwise’ to include Russia, according to the book.” About An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang—”Award-winning New York Times reporters Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang unveil the tech story of our times in a riveting, behind-the-scenes exposé that offers the definitive account of Facebook’s fall from grace. Once one of Silicon Valley’s greatest success stories, Facebook has been under constant fire for the past five years, roiled by controversies and crises. It turns out that while the tech giant was connecting the world, they were also mishandling users’ data, spreading fake news, and amplifying dangerous, polarizing hate speech. The company, many said, had simply lost its way. But the truth is far more complex. Leadership decisions enabled, and then attempted to deflect attention from, the crises. Time after time, Facebook’s engineers were instructed to create tools that encouraged people to spend as much time on the platform as possible, even as those same tools boosted inflammatory rhetoric, conspiracy theories, and partisan filter bubbles. And while consumers and lawmakers focused their outrage on privacy breaches and misinformation, Facebook solidified its role as the world’s most voracious data-mining machine, posting record profits, and shoring up its dominance via aggressive lobbying efforts. Drawing on their unrivaled sources, Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang take readers inside the complex court politics, alliances and rivalries within the company to shine a light on the fatal cracks in the architecture of the tech behemoth. Their explosive, exclusive reporting led them to a shocking conclusion: The missteps of the last five years were not an anomaly but an inevitability—this is how Facebook was built to perform. In a period of great upheaval, growth has remained the one constant under the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. Both have been held up as archetypes of uniquely 21st century executives—he the tech “boy genius” turned billionaire, she the ultimate woman in business, an inspiration to millions through her books and speeches. But sealed off in tight circles of advisers and hobbled by their own ambition and hubris, each has stood by as their technology is coopted by hate-mongers, criminals and corrupt political regimes across the globe, with devastating consequences. In An Ugly Truth, they are at last held accountable.”
  • Tweet—”Facebook and other Big Tech companies do everything they can to raise switching costs. When you quit FB, you lose access to the friends, communities and customers who stay behind. There’s no technical reason this has to happen.”
  • Watch “Google boss Sundar Pichai warns of threats to free and open internet.”—”The free and open internet is under attack in countries around the world, Google boss Sundar Pichai has warned. He says many countries are restricting the flow of information, and the model is often taken for granted. In an in-depth interview with the BBC, Pichai also addresses controversies around tax, privacy and data.”
  • Surely We Can Do Better Than Elon Musk. Getting past the cult of Genius and the bleakness of capitalist futurism.”
  • The GOP’s vaccine skeptic wing has a breakthrough in Tennessee. Pro-vaccine Republicans have been hands-off when it comes to vaccine skeptics in their midst spreading misinformation. The result: What we’re seeing in Tennessee.” Also “Top Vaccination Official In Tennessee Says COVID Conspiracy Theories Led To Her Firing. Michelle Fiscus was fired from her post after Republican legislators opposed her plans to help vaccinate minors.”
  • Supercut Exposes Fox News’ Mixed Messages On COVID-19 Vaccines. MSNBC’s Ari Melber called out the conservative network’s coverage with the montage.”
  • U.S. COVID-19 Cases Rising Again, Doubling Over 3 Weeks. Confirmed infections have increased over the last two weeks in all but two states.”
  • Emails Reveal Cops Fanned Flames as FBI Debunked Antifa Hoax. Wildfires are back and could be worse than ever. Just don’t tell the cops manufacturing wild rumors about how they start.”
  • Big Dreams and False Claims: How Colombians Got Embroiled in Haiti Assassination. A revealing look at the effort to recruit Colombian military veterans for what was described as a noble nation-building effort in Haiti but ended with 18 of them arrested and three of them dead.” Also “Florida Man Detained In Assassination Of Haitian President Deepens Mystery. Police say Christian Emmanuel Sanon was in contact with a firm that recruited the suspects in the killing.” Also “‘It’s a hotbed’: Miami’s role in Haiti murder plot fits decades-long pattern. Exile communities, ready supply of military veterans, history of corrupt local politics and drugs money make city a nexus for mayhem.” Also “Former DEA informant, linked to Moïse investigation, turned to agency after assassination.”
  • Livid Trump Wanted Person Who Leaked Bunker Story Executed, New Book Claims. Trump was taken to the White House bunker during protests last year over the police killing of George Floyd.” About Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Michael C Bender—”Michael C. Bender, senior White House reporter for the Wall Street Journal, presents a deeply reported account of the 2020 presidential campaign that details how Donald J. Trump became the first incumbent in three decades to lose reelection—and the only one whose defeat culminated in a violent insurrection. Beginning with President Trump’s first impeachment and ending with his second, FRANKLY, WE DID WIN THIS ELECTION chronicles the inside-the-room deliberations between Trump and his campaign team as they opened 2020 with a sleek political operation built to harness a surge of momentum from a bullish economy, a unified Republican Party, and a string of domestic and foreign policy successes—only to watch everything unravel when fortunes suddenly turned. With first-rate sourcing cultivated from five years of covering Trump in the White House and both of his campaigns, Bender brings readers inside the Oval Office, aboard Air Force One, and into the front row of the movement’s signature mega-rallies for the story of an epic election-year convergence of COVID, economic collapse, and civil rights upheaval—and an unorthodox president’s attempt to battle it all. Fresh interviews with Trump, key campaign advisers, and senior administration officials are paired with an exclusive collection of internal campaign memos, emails, and text messages for scores of never-before-reported details about the campaign. FRANKLY, WE DID WIN THIS ELECTION is the inside story of how Trump lost, and the definitive account of his final year in office that draws a straight line from the president’s repeated insistence that he would never lose to the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol that imperiled one of his most loyal lieutenants—his own vice president.”
  • Drunken Giuliani urged Trump to ‘just say we won’ on election night, book says. As key states started to slip away from Trump, Rudy Giuliani repeatedly urged former president to lie, according to new book.” About I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker—”The definitive behind-the-scenes story of Trump’s final year in office, by Phil Rucker and Carol Leonnig, the Pulitzer-Prize winning reporters and authors of the #1 New York Times bestseller, A Very Stable Genius. The true story of what took place in Donald Trump’s White House during a disastrous 2020 has never before been told in full. What was really going on around the president, as the government failed to contain the coronavirus and over half a million Americans perished? Who was influencing Trump after he refused to concede an election he had clearly lost and spread lies about election fraud? To answer these questions, Phil Rucker and Carol Leonnig reveal a dysfunctional and bumbling presidency’s inner workings in unprecedented, stunning detail. Focused on Trump and the key players around him—the doctors, generals, senior advisers, and Trump family members— Rucker and Leonnig provide a forensic account of the most devastating year in a presidency like no other. Their sources were in the room as time and time again Trump put his personal gain ahead of the good of the country. These witnesses to history tell the story of him longing to deploy the military to the streets of American cities to crush the protest movement in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, all to bolster his image of strength ahead of the election. These sources saw firsthand his refusal to take the threat of the coronavirus seriously—even to the point of allowing himself and those around him to be infected. This is a story of a nation sabotaged—economically, medically, and politically—by its own leader, culminating with a groundbreaking, minute-by-minute account of exactly what went on in the Capitol building on January 6, as Trump’s supporters so easily breached the most sacred halls of American democracy, and how the president reacted. With unparalleled access, Rucker and Leonnig explain and expose exactly who enabled—and who foiled—Trump as he sought desperately to cling to power. A classic and heart-racing work of investigative reporting, this book is destined to be read and studied by citizens and historians alike for decades to come.”
  • Donald Trump just accidentally told the truth about his view on polls.”—”Exactly one week ago, I wrote these words: ‘If you listen to him long enough — no easy chore — Donald Trump will tell you all his secrets.'” “If it’s bad, I say it’s fake. If it’s good, I say that’s the most accurate poll ever.”
  • I wasn’t there. It wasn’t me. You can’t prove it. Besides I was wearing a disguise. “Lawyers retreat from pro-Trump election suit. At a hearing on possible sanctions over the Michigan case, some attorneys downplayed their roles.”
  • Becoming? “There’s a Word for What Trumpism Is Becoming. The relentless messaging by Trump and his supporters has inflicted a measurable wound on American democracy.”
  • Ex-Trump Lawyer Rage-Quits GOP On Air Because It Doesn’t Back Donald Trump Enough. The irony of Jenna Ellis standing “alone for the truth” was not lost on Twitter users.”
  • Biden To Tie GOP Voter Restriction Bills To Trump’s ‘Big Lie’ In Philadelphia Speech. The president will push Democrats’ voting rights bill in Congress while accusing Republicans of basing new voting limits in the states on Trump’s election lies.”
  • The Digital General. How Trump Ally Michael Flynn Nurtured — and Profited From — the QAnon Conspiracy Theory.”
  • UK bans fifth neo-Nazi group under terror laws. An American neo-Nazi group which is led from Russia is to be banned as a terrorist organisation, the Home Secretary has said.”
  • Key Senate Democrats Are Taking The First Step Toward Legalizing Marijuana. President Joe Biden has long opposed marijuana legalization.”
  • NAACP Offers To Pay Bail For Texas Democrats Who May Face Arrest Over Voting Protest. ‘We are fully invested in good trouble,’ President Derrick Johnson said after over 50 Texas lawmakers were threatened with arrest for leaving the state.”
  • Mexico supreme court strikes down laws that ban use of recreational marijuana. Adults will be able to apply for permits to grow and consume cannabis after decision that moves country toward legalisation.”
  • High potency weed linked to psychotic episodes, mysterious vomiting illness in young users. ‘It felt like Edward Scissorhands was trying to grab my intestines and pull them out,’ a Colorado man told NBC News.”
  • US billionaires don’t pay tax, and our politicians don’t seem bothered. Fifteen years of tax information on thousands of plutocrats is one of the biggest stories of the decade. And yet … crickets.”
  • Sacha Baron Cohen, Showtime win dismissal of Roy Moore defamation lawsuit.”
  • Emmys: Cancelled Lovecraft Country Picks Up 18 Nominations.”
  • ‘Boyz N the Hood’ at 30: A Vivid Examination of Racism at Work. The director John Singleton uses the experiences of a father and son, Tre and Furious, to depict how a Black community comes undone.”
  • The Olympics’ ban on caps for afro hair is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to swimming. As a swimming teacher, I’ve seen first-hand how exclusionary attitudes lead to lower participation among Black people.”
  • Black female WWII unit hoping to get congressional honor.”
  • Cornel West Releases Resignation Letter From Harvard.” Tweet—”This is my candid letter of resignation to my Harvard Dean. I try to tell the unvarnished truth about the decadence in our market-driven universities! Let us bear witness against this spiritual rot!”
  • Netflix Documentary Goes Deep On ‘Gay Conversion’ Therapy Movement. “Pray Away,” due out Aug. 3, charts the rise of Exodus International, a now-defunct Christian ministry that once claimed to “cure” same-sex attraction.” About “Pray Away. Ex-leaders and a survivor of the so-called “conversion therapy” movement speak out about its harm to the LGBTQ+ community and its devastating persistence.” Due Aug 3 on Netflix.
  • ‘The Crown’ Season 5 Adds Jonny Lee Miller as Prime Minister John Major. The new season of the period drama continues to grow its cast.”
  • Apple TV+’s ‘Foundation’ Releases Epic New Teaser Trailer, Premiere Date.”—”It’s been over a year since Apple TV+ released a behind the scenes/featurette teaser for their highly anticipated sci-fi adaptation Foundation. And now, we’re not just getting a real, full trailer for the epic series, we also know the Foundation premiere date: September 24, 2021 on Apple TV+.” Foundation on Apple TV+. Watch “Foundation“, official teaser 2.
  • J.J. Abrams, Angela Robinson Bringing DC Comics’ ‘Madame X’ to TV at HBO Max. Sources note that Abrams personally recruited the writer, director and producer to Warner Bros. TV to spearhead the DC Comics title.”—”Madame X (aka Madame Xanadu) first appeared in the DC Comics universe back in 1978 and is part of the Justice League Dark universe. The character is a sorceress who has helped the Suicide Squad and serves as Spectre’s spiritual adviser and, in DC’s The New 52, assists the Dark League and was revealed to be the mother of villain Doctor Destiny.”
  • ‘Halo’ Showrunner to Exit Paramount Plus Series After Season 1.”
  • Next ‘Star Trek’ Film To Be Directed By ‘WandaVision’s Matt Shakman.” Noah Hawley did one of the script attempts?! (Shakman also episodes of Hawley’s Fargo.)
  • 3D digital billboard image of a giant cat draws attention in Tokyo. (Inner geek yelled: OMG she called that ship the Enterprise. It’s not!) Also, from May: “3D Billboard Screens – The Future of Advertising.” Also, not to be that guy, but this is not 3D per se. It’s basically just forced perspective.
  • From the It Takes A Pretty, Blond, White Girl dept: “ACLU Files Amicus Brief to Support Britney Spears. The pop star has been under a conservatorship for 13 years and recently said publicly she wants out.”—”Amanda Goad, the Audrey Irmas director of the LGBTQ, Gender & Reproductive Justice Project at the ACLU SoCal, added, ‘Britney’s superstardom and wealth make this an atypical case, but she has described serious infringements on her civil liberties and dignity that are all too typical for people living under conservatorships and guardianships. It’s not just about Britney. We hope that offering supported decision-making to Britney Spears can serve as a model in other cases, because all people living with disabilities or under conservatorship deserve an opportunity to make their own informed choices.'”
  • Drug-dealers are finding the always-on culture a chore. Information technology makes it hard for them to switch off.”
  • Jobs, marriages, cities – we are quitting them in our droves. The pandemic changed everything… but most of all, it made us question the way we live.” Article is by the author who somewhat famously wrote in 2017 More bank holidays? Oh please, give us a break.” And then in 2021 wrote “Burned out? What we need is a new bank holiday.” So, expect an article in a few years with a contrary viewpoint, I suppose.
  • Putting Out Fire with Gasoline. Buckle up: It’s ‘Cat Person’ season, and once again, we’re litigating what women are allowed to say about men.” “We understand why Margot wants to be nice, which is that she’s being manipulated. She’s made to feel awful and cruel for hurting Robert’s feelings, and everything hurts his feelings except getting his own way.” (cf. Prince Charles in The Crown s04.) “Before Nowicki’s essay we had no reason to think there was a real-life inspiration for ‘Cat Person.’ Nowicki claims that Roupenian exposed her private life, but Roupenian made ‘Robert’ such a universal type that, until now, no-one but his closest associates had reason to suspect he was based on a real person. Roupenian also obscured the most damning detail, which is that Charles pursued a teenage girl. ‘Margot,’ in Roupenian’s story, is twenty years old and a student at college; Robert is thirty-four. Nowicki was a high school student, and Charles was thirty-three. Though Nowicki is unclear as to her precise age, she mentions their ‘fifteen-year age gap,’ which puts her around seventeen or eighteen. The age of consent in Michigan is sixteen, so nothing illegal happened. But ‘legal’ is not the same as ‘good.'”
  • How ‘Soft Fascination’ Helps Restore Your Tired Brain. Attention fatigue is a threat to your cognitive and mental health.”
  • Ghosts In Time: revisiting MOONDIAL. Time-travel or ghost story? Robert Taylor takes a look at Moondial, a classic children’s drama that puts the resilience of children, in the face of adversity, at its heart… During the 1970s and 1980s, children’s television drama was arguably at its height with both original and adapted material being brought to the screens during weekly tea-time on a consistent basis by both the BBC and ITV networks.”
  • Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist will finally be made into a movie, courtesy [of] Will Smith.”
  • Inception! Watch “Deadpool and Korg React.”—”This looks fun in a last days of Fox fire sale kind of way.”
  • Oliver Stone revisits JFK assassination in new documentary.” Tweet—”So, you know those people who get a bug up their butt about a topic and just won’t let it go?”
  • Tweet—”Most believe that a satisfactory future requires a return to an idealized past, a past which never in fact existed.”
  • Tweet—”My god she’s good.” Headcanon: this is a picture of an actually unrecognizable Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • Tweet—”Someone (in real life? on the internet?) once told me the story of someone who reads’“AF’ as ‘as foretold.’ As in, ‘This taco is spicy AF’ was read as ‘This taco is spicy, as foretold.’ I don’t remember who it was, but I am here to thank them: I now also read it this way.”

Omnium Gatherum: 11jul2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 11, 2021

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

  • Feminist Antifascism: Counterpublics of the Common [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Ewa Majewska—”Feminism as the bulwark against fascism. In this exciting, innovative work, Polish feminist philosopher Ewa Majewska proposes a specifically feminist politics of antifascism. Mixing theoretical discussion with engaging reflections on personal experiences, Majewska proposes what she calls ‘counterpublics of the common’ and ‘weak resistance,’ offering an alternative to heroic forms of subjectivity produced by neoliberal capitalism and contemporary fascism.”
  • Towards A Libertarian Socialism: Reflections on the British Labour Party and European Working-Class Movements [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by G.D.H. Cole, edited by David Goodway—”A collection of essays from a restive, critical member of Britain’s Labour Party. From the 1920s until his death, G.D.H. Cole was a pre-eminent Labour intellectual who considered himself ‘neither a Communist nor a Social Democrat in the ordinary sense, but something, not betwixt and between these two, but essentially different from both.’ He was a libertarian socialist who loathed coercion, bureaucracy, and the ‘money-grubbing way of life under capitalism.'”
  • Anthea Lawson on how activism is vital – so we should understand better why we do it.” About The Entangled Activist: Learning to recognise the master’s tools [Amazon, Amazon UK, Publisher, Also] by Anthea Lawson—”The Entangled Activist is the story of how activism is entangled in the problems it seeks to solve, told by a hard-hitting campaigner who learns to see activism very differently. After years of thinking that her task was to ‘get the bastards,’ campaigner, writer and reporter Anthea Lawson came to see that activism often emerges from the same troubles it is trying to fix, and that its demons, including righteousness, saviourism, burnout and treating other people badly, can be a gateway to understanding the depth of what really needs to change. Drawing on her own experience, critical analysis and interviews with leading activists, Lawson probes our attempts to change the world to offer a timely, eye-opening vision for transformative work. By considering how unexamined shadows and assumptions impede well-intentioned goals, and how campaigners are caught up in the very systems and ideologies they seek to alter, she dismantles hierarchies that have shaped the field for too long. The Entangled Activist is a profound call to acknowledge our entanglement with the world. To those sceptical of ‘activism’, it offers possibilities for action beyond righteous reactivity. And to those who so want to help, it unearths a different starting place, one where transforming ourselves is inherently part of transforming the world.”
  • The Rust Belt’s New Working Class Is Just as Exploited as the Old One. In the Rust Belt, heavy industry has been replaced by health care. But even though the working class has changed, exploitation at the hands of their bosses haven’t.” About The Next Shift: The Fall of Industry and the Rise of Health Care in Rust Belt America [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Gabriel Winant—”Men in hardhats were once the heart of America’s working class; now it is women in scrubs. What does this shift portend for our future? Pittsburgh was once synonymous with steel. But today most of its mills are gone. Like so many places across the United States, a city that was a center of blue-collar manufacturing is now dominated by the service economy—particularly health care, which employs more Americans than any other industry. Gabriel Winant takes us inside the Rust Belt to show how America’s cities have weathered new economic realities. In Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods, he finds that a new working class has emerged in the wake of deindustrialization. As steelworkers and their families grew older, they required more health care. Even as the industrial economy contracted sharply, the care economy thrived. Hospitals and nursing homes went on hiring sprees. But many care jobs bear little resemblance to the manufacturing work the city lost. Unlike their blue-collar predecessors, home health aides and hospital staff work unpredictable hours for low pay. And the new working class disproportionately comprises women and people of color. Today health care workers are on the front lines of our most pressing crises, yet we have been slow to appreciate that they are the face of our twenty-first-century workforce. The Next Shift offers unique insights into how we got here and what could happen next. If health care employees, along with other essential workers, can translate the increasing recognition of their economic value into political power, they may become a major force in the twenty-first century.”
  • Haters Gonna Hate … and Vote. Adam Serwer on how Donald Trump’s weaponized cruelty outlasted his presidency.” About The Cruelty Is the Point: The Past, Present, and Future of Trump’s America [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Adam Serwer—”From an award-winning journalist at The Atlantic, these searing essays make a damning case that cruelty is not merely an unfortunate byproduct of the Trump administration but its main objective and the central theme of the American project. Like many of us, Adam Serwer didn’t know that Donald Trump would win the 2016 election. But over the four years that followed, the Atlantic staff writer became one of our most astute analysts of the Trump presidency and the volatile powers it harnessed. The shock that greeted Trump’s victory, and the subsequent cruelty of his presidency, represented a failure to confront elements of the American past long thought vanquished. In this searing collection, Serwer chronicles the Trump administration not as an aberration but as an outgrowth of the inequalities the United States was founded on. Serwer is less interested in the presidential spectacle than in the ideological and structural currents behind Trump’s rise–including a media that was often blindsided by the ugly realities of what the administration represented and how it came to be. While deeply engaged with the moment, Serwer’s writing is also haunted by ghosts of an unresolved American past, a past that torments the present. In bracing new essays and previously published works, he explores white nationalism, myths about migration, the political power of police unions, and the many faces of anti-Semitism. For all the dynamics he examines, cruelty is the glue, the binding agent of a movement fueled by fear and exclusion. Serwer argues that rather than pretending these four years didn’t happen or dismissing them as a brief moment of madness, we must face what made them possible. Without acknowledging and confronting these toxic legacies, the fragile dream of American multiracial democracy will remain vulnerable to another ambitious demagogue.”
  • Giuliani assembled the Trump campaign legal team in a room that overflowed with trash and had a ‘rotting smell,’ a new book says. Giuliani built Trump’s campaign legal team in a room with refuse “that overflowed onto the floor,” a new book says. Between Election Day and the day when Giuliani arrived, the space had reportedly not been cleaned. The Trump campaign endured continuous legal setbacks while seeking to challenge the 2020 election.” About Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Michael Wolff—”New York Times bestselling author of Fire and Fury and Siege completes the trilogy on the epic presidency of Donald J. Trump. With Fire and Fury Wolff defined the first phase of the Trump administration; in Siege he wrote an explosive account of a presidency under fire. In Landslide Wolff closes the story of Trump’s four years in office and his tumultuous last months at the helm of the country, based on Wolff’s extraordinary access to White House aides and to the former president himself, yielding a wealth of new information and insights about what really happened inside the highest office in the land, and the world.”
  • An Ex-KGB Agent Says Trump Was a Russian Asset Since 1987. Does it Matter?.” About American Kompromat: How the KGB Cultivated Donald Trump, and Related Tales of Sex, Greed, Power, and Treachery [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Craig Unger—”This is a story about the dirty secrets of the most powerful people in the world—including Donald Trump. It is based on exclusive interviews with dozens of high-level sources—intelligence officers in the CIA, FBI, and the KGB, thousands of pages of FBI investigations, police investigations, and news articles in English, Russian, and Ukrainian. American Kompromat shows that from Trump to Jeffrey Epstein, kompromat was used in operations far more sinister than the public could ever imagine. Among them, the book addresses what may be the single most important unanswered question of the entire Trump era: Is Donald Trump a Russian asset? The answer, American Kompromat says, is yes, and it supports that conclusion backs with the first richly detailed narrative on how the KGB allegedly first “spotted” Trump as a potential asset, how they cultivated him as an asset, arranged his first trip to Moscow, and pumped him full of KGB talking points that were published in three of America’s most prestigious newspapers.”
  • Scientists Discover Thousands of Ancient Tombs In Galaxy-Like Patterns. Researchers applied a cosmological tool to archaeology for the first time, revealing ‘invisible centers of gravity’ across a vast funerary landscape.”
  • New analysis of a bird found in 2018: “Frozen bird turns out to be 46 000-year-old horned lark. Scientists have recovered DNA from a well-preserved horned lark found in Siberian permafrost. The results can contribute to explaining the evolution of sub species, as well as how the mammoth steppe transformed was turned into tundra, forest and steppe biomes at the end of the last Ice Age.”
  • How many atoms are in the observable universe? Luckily, we don’t have to count them one by one.”
  • Mystery of Jupiter’s powerful X-ray auroras finally solved. The giant planet’s auroras aren’t so different than those on Earth.”
  • A Mystery of Jupiter’s Constant Aurora Has Finally Been Solved After 40 Years.”—”Earth is not the only world adorned with the glowing atmospheric phenomenon that is aurora. In fact, in a Solar System aurora competition, the clear winner would be Jupiter. The so-called King of Planets is crowned with the most powerful auroras in the Solar System, permanently circling both its poles.” “Now, they think they’ve solved it. Using simultaneous observations from Jupiter probe Juno and X-ray space observatory XMM-Newton, a team led by planetary scientist Zhonghua Yao of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in China has linked the X-ray bursts to vibrations in the gas giant’s magnetic field lines. These vibrations generate waves in the plasma propagating along the magnetic field lines, periodically causing heavy ions to rain down on and collide with Jupiter’s atmosphere, releasing energy in the form of X-rays.”
  • Climate Change is About Greed. It’s Time for Big Oil to Pay Us Back.”
  • California wildfire generates its own lightning as it more than doubles in size.”
  • Crushing heat wave in Pacific Northwest and Canada cooked shellfish alive by the millions. As many as a billion sea creatures died in the heat, according to experts.” Also “1 Billion Sea Creatures Cooked To Death In Canada In Record Pacific Northwest Heat Wave. ‘If we don’t like it, then we need to work harder to reduce emissions,’ warned the University of British Columbia scientist who calculated the massive toll.”
  • Ugh. Not now West Nile Virus! “6 States Report Paralysis-Causing Virus Carried by Mosquitoes. New York and Massachusetts found mosquitos infected with West Nile virus this month. In Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, and Iowa, a few humans have also been infected. West Nile virus is typically mild, but can lead to paralysis or death in severe cases.”
  • Single Dose of Psychedelic Compound Psilocybin Can Remodel Connections in the Brain.”—”Psilocybin, a psychedelic compound that can be derived from over 200 species of mushroom, can remodel connections in the mouse brain. That is the conclusion of a new study that examined structural changes in the brain that might explain psilocybin’s enduring antidepressant effects.”
  • Scientists may have cracked the mystery of da Vinci’s DNA. Scientists say they could be closer to uncovering a genetic basis for the artist’s talent.”
  • An alternative for leather and synthetic leather: VTT succeeded in demonstrating continuous production of mycelium leather.”
  • Darker birds wings increase flight performance of birds.”—”Many seabirds evolved dark wings, independent from each other. New research shows that these darker wings heat up more and that this heating up increases the efficiency of flight in birds. Furthermore, the study confirmed that darker wings are mostly present in seabirds that are already efficient at flight.”
  • New AI tech for early detection of prostate cancer. Researchers have developed a diagnostic tool that can spot prostate cancer before patients have any symptoms, using artificial intelligence to analyse CT scans in just seconds.”
  • Screwing with sound waves. Could noisy neighbours become a thing of the past? If you are disturbed by crashes, bangs, and muffled voices from next door, then you are not alone, but a Malmö University researcher thinks the answer is as simple as a screw.” Also “The Revolutionary Sound Absorbing Screw.”
  • From the One Way Ticket dept: “Space tourism rivalry gets extremely petty ahead of Branson’s spaceflight. The space tourism billionaires are fighting again.” Tweet—”They all wanna be Tony Stark so bad. But in the end they’re really just Mr. Burns.”
  • Are We in the Metaverse Yet? Crypto people say they’re building it. Gamers might already be living in it. The art world is cashing in on it. Web veterans are trying to save it. But what is it?” Tweet—”This ‘what’s coming next? it’s the metaverse!’ article quotes 17 experts. 16 men, 1 woman. Bad journalism, or is ‘the metaverse’ a construct that doesn’t really feel inviting or resonant to many women? ‘Are We in the Metaverse Yet?'”
  • From the Phantasm dept: “This Startup Wants to Scan Your Eyes With a Silver Orb for Cryptocurrency. Worldcoin is co-founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, funded by VC money, and appears connected to rapper Azealia Banks.”—”On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that it has learned that Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI and former president of startup accelerator Y Combinator, is co-founding a cryptocurrency called Worldcoin that will try and convince people to scan their retinas with a large silver orb in order to receive tokens.”
  • Special Report: China’s gene giant harvests data from millions of women.”
  • The battle to break up Big Tech has just begun. For antitrust reformers, Facebook’s court win might not be the setback it would seem.” Also “The Conservatives Out to Stop the New Bipartisan Antitrust Movement. How a 32-year-old policy activist is fighting to keep the GOP from going anti-monopoly.”
  • Biden’s Right to Repair Order Covers Electronics, Not Just Tractors. The administration will issue ‘rules against anti-competitive restrictions on using independent repair shops or doing DIY repairs of your own devices and equipment.'” Also “Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak: ‘It’s time to recognize the right to repair’.”
  • Wait. If not the FDA, then who? Isn’t this part of their mandate? “Appeals court axes FDA ban of electric shock on the disabled. The judges’ 2-1 decision this week will allow the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Mass., to continue using shock devices on its residents.” Also, WTAF?
  • ‘Invisible’ augmented reality art will soon appear around botanic garden.”—”A new show called “Seeing the Invisible” will soon allow visitors to the San Diego Botanic Garden to do exactly that: view dynamic art pieces that are impossible to see with the naked eye. The show will feature works by 13 international artists, who each created pieces using augmented reality, a technique that layers digital renderings on to the physical world when viewed through a phone or tablet.”
  • Soldiers watch the US withdrawal from Bagram Airfield through the lens of Pokemon Go.”—”All U.S. forces have left Bagram, which for much of the past 20 years was the largest military base in Afghanistan, U.S. defense officials announced Friday. But the animated critters and some of what’s left on base are visible in digitally animated form through the game app Pokemon Go.”
  • What The Lambda COVID-19 Variant Means For Us Right Now. The newest coronavirus strain has been reported in 29 countries. Here’s what you need to know.”—”The delta variant first identified in India is spreading widely in the United States, accounting for more than half of all new COVID-19 infections. But even as it becomes the dominant strain here, threatening to increase new infections among unvaccinated individuals, a new variant, called the lambda variant, or C.37, has also caught public health officials’ attention.”
  • From the Get The LEGO Name Outta Yo Mouth dept: “Feds Seize Lego Capitol Set From Suspected Jan. 6 Insurrectionist. Investigators are building a case brick by brick.”—”Federal investigators may be using a Lego set to build a case against a Pennsylvania man who allegedly participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.”
  • The Chilling Message of Trump’s Embrace of Ashli Babbitt Martyrdom. January 6 is now a heroic uprising for the movement.”
  • Republicans want “18 more months of chaos” — followed by the end of democracy. Rep. Chip Roy said it out loud, but the GOP’s plan is no secret: Bring democracy to a standstill, then end it.”—”Today’s Republican Party is a fascist, criminal, sociopathic, anti-democratic, white supremacist, theocratic, plutocratic and cultlike organization. Its leaders (and followers) have repeatedly and publicly shown the world that they embrace such values and behavior.”
  • The ‘Good’ Republicans Are Bad, and the Bad Ones Are Batshit. Since no one in Trumpworld has been punished for anything, Republicans have learned that you can do anything at all and no one will ever hold you accountable.”—”This is the Republican brand now: death before decency.”
  • Voting rights legislation should have passed, but not for the reasons you think.”—”This bill should have passed not merely because Democrats (justifiably) don’t like election changes that have been enacted in Republican states in the past few months. Rather, it should have passed because it repairs root causes of damage to our democratic republic — extreme partisanship and money corruption of our politicians. It’s now up to Congress to reintroduce those efforts in legislation that actually has a shot at being enacted.”
  • Sorry, haters: Ranked-choice voting produced the most diverse city council in NYC history. Never mind the backlash: Ranked-choice voting in NYC has produced huge gains for gender equity and diversity.” Also “Everyone Won with Ranked-Choice Voting in New York City.”—”More than one in four voters selected a candidate who was not predicted to be within the top three. These votes would normally have been considered ‘wasted’ on also-ran candidates. But not this time. Under ranked-choice voting…”
  • Tweet—”An armed siege? A terrorist munitions factory? No, just the Police breaking into our studio building in Haggerston on Friday 25th June because there is a sculpture on the roof that Priti Patel doesn’t like.” “XR were planning further protests against Murdoch last weekend. The police intended to remove it (but failed). It takes a certain skill-set to erect it, and anyone with such skills would have been a target of the raid. The Police were simply operating as stooges for Murdoch.”
  • Sullivan County school board approves teacher termination charges, supporters outraged.” Tweet—”It begins… a teacher is being fired for assigning a Ta-Nehisi Coates essay and discussing white privilege in a ‘contemporary issues class.'” Tweet—”A teacher in Tennessee fired for teaching a) a Ta Nehisi Coates essay and b) a poem about white privilege. If a teacher in Tennessee getting fired for offending white Christian orthodoxies doesn’t ring any alarm bells for you, look up the Scopes Trial.”
  • Oh, fuck right off: “The Meaning Of The Native Graves. They’re good, actually.”
  • Oh, don’t fuck at all, ever again: “Political Discrimination as Civil-Rights Struggle“—”When a sample of nearly 1,500 female Ivy League students was asked whether they would date a Trump supporter, only 6 percent said yes (after excluding the small minority of the sample who support him). ”
  • Meet 4chan’s ‘Kommandos,’ the Armed Meme Lords Driving Gun Culture. While the stereotype for the American gun owner is old, white, and hung up on culture wars, Kommandos are young, apolitical, and fluent in memes.”
  • ‘People Get Upset’: A Mass Labor Shortage Is Leaving Hamptonites to Fend for Themselves. Sky-high rental costs, a ban on temporary work visas, and an exploding population due to COVID have forced East Enders to mow their own lawns, iron their own sheets, and forego salon appointments. ‘Everyone’s going for the natural look this year,’ says one resident.”
  • Why Jack the Ripper and other serial killer narratives endure. For me, my fascination began as a child, when I opened a book my mother explicitly told me not to open.”
  • How a racist rant in Mount Laurel sparked neighbors to fight back and a community to press for change. A New Jersey man caught on video in a racist rant with a Black neighbor had a long-standing dispute with the homeowners’ association and three Black association board members, an attorney says.”
  • Athletics is waging a war of transphobia and misogynoir – and black African women are losing out. In the run up to Tokyo 2021, controversial athletics regulations are showing racist constructions of womanhood will always win the race.”
  • Art Should Be a Doorway, Not a Mirror. Some thoughts on Isabel Fall, social media criticism, and the puritan art police.”
  • Robert E. Lee statue removed in Charlottesville; it had become focal point of deadly 2017 rally. A monument to Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson in Charlottesville also was removed.” Tweet—”This is not erasing history. This is correcting who we honor from history with public statues. Who we honor from history is typically who we honor in the present. The conservators of racism want us to honor the conservators of slavery. No more.” Tweet—”9 July 1776. A statue of King George III was pulled down in New York City, after the US Declaration of Independence was read out to a large cheering crowd and members the Continental Army.”
  • The Politics of Racial Cleansing and Erasing History.”
  • This appears to be a portfolio piece for Marta Kessler, who does a crazy good, and stand out, job as Constance Contraire in Disney’s The Mysterious Benedict Society. It’s a scene from Luc Besson’s Léon, originally with Natalie Portman and Jean Reno; watch “Marta Kessler & Marco Dinelli ‘Leone’“.
  • If you’ve access to Disney+, there’s an amusing initiation ceremony into the secret order of MIFT bit in Monsters at Work s01e02, “Meet MIFT.”
  • The Suicide Squad Doesn’t Understand Its Predecessor, Won’t Respond to It. James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad looks like a sequel and sounds like a reboot, but Warner Bros. says it’s neither.”
  • Watch “The Decision That SAVED The Lord of the Rings.” As a reminder, from 2017, watch “How Star Wars was saved in the edit.”
  • Man finds 18th century ornamental building made of teeth at bottom of his garden – 25 years after he moved in. For over two decades, John Bostock had no idea that hidden beneath the wild section of his garden, there was a gothic folly dating back to the mid-1700s.”
  • Watch “Star Wars mystery FINALLY solved“—”After 44 years, it’s hard to imagine that there are still mysteries to be uncovered in Star Wars, but today marks yet another fascinating discovery! We’ve finally decoded the text inside the iconic TIE fighter cockpit computer displays!” I’m old enough to have actually used rub on vinyl lettering on actual school reports. Great exploration, and also restoration: check out the downloadable font (You have to hover your mouse pointer over the targeting reticule!). And then check out all the other Aurekfonts stuff:”Welcome to AurekFonts, an archive of fonts from across the galaxy. We are in the never-ending process of expanding our library of in-universe fonts for the languages of the Star Wars universe. To date, we have catalogued 96 fonts, representing over 28 writing systems and 26 foundries & artists!”
  • Enchanted forests: British woods and moors at night – in pictures. The woods are lovely, dark and deep – at least in the images of Jasper Goodall. In Twilight’s Path, he stays awake to capture nocturnal landscapes in the forests and on the moors of the British Isles.”

Crowdfunding Campaign Countdown: July 2021

Here’s a selection of crowdfunding campaigns that are counting down, ones that I’ve noticed and am currently watching for July, 2021. There’s a lot less this month, because I’m not paying as much attention to crowdfunding efforts, tbh, atm, in case you were wondering why the difference. But, I did notice these, fwiw. And, two bundles of note.

  • 52 hours to go: “Veritas Magia Tarot Deck. A full scale, black and silver inlaid tarot deck.”
  • 3 days to go: “A NEW offer of adventures for the venerable tabletop fantasy roleplaying game. TUNNELS & TROLLS 2. EIGHTEEN solo modules, five GM adventures, and the new MONSTERS! 2E.”
  • 5 days to go: Tabletops and Tentacles Magazine #3: The Cryptid Issue 🎲🐙 Games, art, fiction, comics, RPGs, sasquatch!”
  • 10 days to go: “The GUMSHOE tabletop roleplaying game from PELGRANE PRESS plus more Carcosan horror. THE YELLOW KING. THE YELLOW KING RPG, ANNOTATED KING IN YELLOW, fiction, and music.”
  • 12 days to go: “DCC Dying Earth. A DCC RPG boxed set, officially licensed by the estate of Jack Vance. Adventure with IOUN Stones and The Excellent Prismatic Spray!”
  • Upcoming: “KINLESS – A Mörk Borg Solo Viking Adventure. You are an outcast… sent away to die alone in the cold night. Will you survive long enough to return and get your revenge?”
  • Upcoming: “KENNELS OF KARNAGE, a Third-Party Mörk Borg Adventure. A short adventure about saving lost dogs.”
  • Upcoming: “Spire’s End: Hildegard. Solo & Cooperative Card Game Adventure”

Update 12jul2021:

  • 13 days to go: “Potato Pirates 3: Battlechips. A Spud-Tech-Ular Coding Card Game.”—”Potato Pirates 3: Battlechips is a strategic card game with an exciting gameplay experience where you zap potatoes for energy, dig for sunken cards, and fortify yourself with powers and abilities to defeat enemy factions across the Carbobbean Seas.” Tucked away down the page, there’s a solo mode planned: “Committed to our mission to make computer science fun and accessible for all, we present to you our solo campaign mode – The Carbobbean Sea (CS) Chronicles. Did you see what we did there with the CS abbreviation? You know, CS – Computer Science. A fun yet educational guide with a compelling storyline featuring memorable characters all focused on teaching fundamental computer science concepts. By interfacing with the Battlechips game components, we are truly bringing computer science offline to a whole new level! The CS Chronicles will be available as a digital download and takes you through many challenging situations which will put your coding skills to the test, yes, even you programming gurus won’t be spared!”

Update 13jul2021:

  • 20 days to go: “Vast Grimm by Infinite Black Infinite Black. Vast Grimm is a rules-light Infectious Sci-Fi Horror RPG packed with everything you need to immerse yourself into a universe on the brink of collapse. Vast Grimm features 3 new Elder Dice sets with amazing holographic grimoires!”—”Vast Grimm is a stand alone, art-filled, punk-fueled OSR role-playing game about the few humans remaining in a universe being consumed by growing parasitic würms. … Compatible with Mörk Borg”

Update 14jul2021:

  • 29 days to go: “Adventure Post: Train of Terror. A 12-week long horror-themed, solo adventure delivered to your door via postcard, including an interactive PDF and free Teaser!” With maps by Toby Lancaster (Dark Realm Maps, &c.). Last chapter scheduled for Halloween 2021.

Update 15jul2021:

Update 21jul2021:

Omnium Gatherum: 7jul2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 7, 2021

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

  • On E.M. Forster’s Maurice and the Urgency of Expanding Queer Genealogies. William di Canzio on the Personal and Literary Inspirations Behind His Novel.”—”Alec is my passionate response to Maurice, a seminal work of art. It is also a gesture of reverence to heritage and genealogy. “A great unrecorded history” was Forster’s phrase for the lives, sufferings, and achievements of queer people: our essential role in humanity. We are largely ignored in “master narratives” of the past, uncredited, our sexuality condemned, ignored, or obliterated. Maurice is a priceless, pioneering artifact of that unrecorded history. The story of its publication, half a century ago this year, is now among its annals. Forster modeled the love of Maurice and Alec on that of his friends Edward Carpenter and George Merrill. These are names we all should know, because our genealogy is traced not in family trees but in networks of friendship and love. Carpenter knew Walt Whitman; Whitman, Oscar Wilde; Forster knew Virginia Woolf, Lytton Strachey, Benjamin Britten, Paul Cadmus; and so on. Alec is my own contribution to this inheritance, an imaginary recording of a passage in that heroic history.” About Alec [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by William di Canzio—”William di Canzio’s Alec, inspired by Maurice, E. M. Forster’s secret novel of a happy same-sex love affair, tells the story of Alec Scudder, the gamekeeper Maurice Hall falls in love with in Forster’s classic, published only after the author’s death. Di Canzio follows their story past the end of Maurice to the front lines of battle in World War I and beyond. Forster, who tried to write an epilogue about the future of his characters, was stymied by the radical change that the Great War brought to their world. With the hindsight of a century, di Canzio imagines a future for them and a past for Alec—a young villager possessed of remarkable passion and self-knowledge. Alec continues Forster’s project of telling stories that are part of ‘a great unrecorded history.’ Di Canzio’s debut novel is a love story of epic proportions, at once classic and boldly new.”
  • You Can’t Tell the Story of 1776 Without Talking About Race and Slavery.” By Robert G. Parkinson, author of Thirteen Clocks: How Race United the Colonies and Made the Declaration of Independence [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”In his celebrated account of the origins of American unity, John Adams described July 1776 as the moment when thirteen clocks managed to strike at the same time. So how did these American colonies overcome long odds to create a durable union capable of declaring independence from Britain? In this powerful new history of the fifteen tense months that culminated in the Declaration of Independence, Robert G. Parkinson provides a troubling answer: racial fear. Tracing the circulation of information in the colonial news systems that linked patriot leaders and average colonists, Parkinson reveals how the system’s participants constructed a compelling drama featuring virtuous men who suddenly found themselves threatened by ruthless Indians and defiant slaves acting on behalf of the king. Parkinson argues that patriot leaders used racial prejudices to persuade Americans to declare independence. Between the Revolutionary War’s start at Lexington and the Declaration, they broadcast any news they could find about Native Americans, enslaved Blacks, and Hessian mercenaries working with their British enemies. American independence thus owed less to the love of liberty than to the exploitation of colonial fears about race. Thirteen Clocks offers an accessible history of the Revolution that uncovers the uncomfortable origins of the republic even as it speaks to our own moment.”
  • J.P. Morgan’s Personal Librarian Was A Black Woman. This Is Her Story.” About The Personal Librarian [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Heather Terrell (as Marie Benedict) and Victoria Christopher Murray—”The remarkable story of J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, the Black American woman who was forced to hide her true identity and pass as white to leave a lasting legacy that enriched our nation, from New York Times bestselling author Marie Benedict, and acclaimed author Victoria Christopher Murray. In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture in New York City society and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps create a world-class collection. But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle’s complexion isn’t dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white—her complexion is dark because she is African American. The Personal Librarian tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths she must go to—for the protection of her family and her legacy—to preserve her carefully crafted white identity in the racist world in which she lives.”
  • Inside the Children of God cult: ‘Some girls had to marry their dads’. Bexy Cameron was born into a sect that was notorious for exploitation and sexual abuse. Now she’s written a memoir about what it was like to grow up in a movement founded by a predator – and to go back as an adult to try to understand what made her parents stay.” Interview with the author and and excerpt from Cult Following: My escape and return to the Children of God [Amazon, Amazon UK, Bookshop UK] by Bexy Cameron—”Devastatingly moving, brilliantly inspiring and utterly unforgettable, Cult Following is a searing memoir of survival, love and transformation. Bexy Cameron was in her late twenties then the dark events of her past finally caught up with her. Bexy was born into the Children of God, one of the world’s most notorious cults. She was 9 years old when she experienced her first exorcism, held in a secret commune deep in the British countryside. At 10, she was placed on Silence Restriction, forced to be silent for a whole year. Even from an early age, she knew what was happening was not right. At the age of 15, she escaped, leaving behind her parents and 11 siblings. Haunted by her past, Bexy set off on a road trip across America, embedding herself in the underbelly of religious cults, living with children who, like her, are born into the worlds their parents and cult leaders have created for them. It is a journey of meth cooks, monks, Jesus Freaks, soap-making Armageddonists, surveillance vans and finally, confronting her parents and herself.”
  • Young Girls By Marcel Proust“—”In April, the French publisher Éditions Gallimard released “Les Soixante-quinze Feuillets et Autres Manuscrits Inédits,” by Marcel Proust. The volume contains a seventy-five-page manuscript from 1908, long rumored to exist but discovered only recently, in the private files of the publisher Bernard de Fallois. In those pages—which include the following passage—Proust sketched out many of the themes and scenes he would eventually draw on for his masterpiece, ‘In Search of Lost Time.'” Also “A new Marcel Proust manuscript has been discovered—and you can read part of it right now.
  • What Will Be Impossible? Why excavate these Reformation characters—the preacher and the werewolf—now? What do they have to teach us?”
  • Massive Invisible Galactic Structure is Discovered – By Accident. Incredibly sensitive spectral observations from the Green Bank Telescope discover previously unknown huge Galactic structure.”
  • NASA’s helicopter on Mars just keeps flying and flying. For NASA, taking some risk has paid off handsomely.”
  • Machine learning cracks the oxidation states of crystal structures—”‘We basically made a machine-learning model that has captured the collective knowledge of the chemistry community,’ says Kevin Jablonka, a Ph.D. student in Smit’s group at EPFL. ‘Our machine learning is nothing more than the television game ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’ If a chemist does not know the oxidation state, one of the lifelines is to ask the audience of chemistry what they think the oxidation state should be. By uploading a crystal structure and our machine-learned model is the audience of chemists that will tell them what the most likely oxidation state is.'”
  • From the Gamma World dept: Radioactive hybrid terror pigs have made themselves a home in Fukushima’s exclusion zone. Human resettlement after 2011’s nuclear disaster facing opposition from indestructible, betusked interlopers.”
  • A 51,000-year-old carved bone is one of the world’s oldest works of art, researchers say. The discovery highlights that Neanderthals were capable of symbolic thought — something once attributed only to our own species.”—”The toe bone of a prehistoric deer carved with lines by Neanderthals 51,000 years ago is one of the oldest works of art ever found, according to a study released Monday. The discovery is further evidence that Neanderthals — Homo neanderthalensis — were able to express symbolism through art — which was once attributed only to our own species, Homo sapiens.”
  • Cameo by Ötzi: “Inked Mummies, Linking Tattoo Artists With Their Ancestors. As scientists find more tattoos on preserved remains from Indigenous cultures, artists living today are drawing from them to revive cultural traditions.”—”Without the physical record left by ancient tattooing, modern practitioners like Ms. Sialuk Jacobsen would have little evidence to guide their work. Fortunately, as more Indigenous tattooists around the world resurrect lost traditions, a small group of archaeologists is tracing tattooing through time and space, uncovering new examples of its role in historic and prehistoric societies. Together, the scientists and artists are showing that the urge to ink our bodies is deeply rooted in the human psyche, spanning the globe and speaking across centuries.”
  • Chickasaws repurposed objects from fleeing Spanish conquistadors. Archaeologists have unearthed a rare trove of more than 80 metal objects in Mississippi, thought to be from Hernando de Soto’s 16th-century expedition through the Southeast.”
  • Mapping phenotypic and aetiological associations between ADHD and physical conditions in adulthood in Sweden: a genetically informed register study.”—”Emerging evidence suggests increased risk of several physical health conditions in people with ADHD. Only a few physical conditions have been thoroughly studied in relation to ADHD, and there is little knowledge on associations in older adults in particular. We aimed to investigate the phenotypic and aetiological associations between ADHD and a wide range of physical health conditions across adulthood.” Also “Adult ADHD is linked to numerous physical conditions. Adults with ADHD are at higher risk of a wide range of physical conditions, including nervous system, respiratory, musculoskeletal, and metabolic diseases, according to a large register-based study from Karolinska Institutet published in The Lancet Psychiatry.”
  • Methane in the Plumes of Saturn’s Moon Enceladus: Possible Signs of Life? A study published in Nature Astronomy concludes that known geochemical processes can’t explain the levels of methane measured by the Cassini spacecraft on Saturn’s icy moon.”
  • New cancer findings can give wider access to immunotherapy. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet publish new findings in the journal Cancer Discovery showing how pharmacological activation of the protein p53 boosts the immune response against tumours. The results can be of significance to the development of new combination therapies that will give more cancer patients access to immunotherapy.”
  • Freshwater methamphetamine pollution turns brown trout into addicts.
  • Sweat-proof “smart skin” takes reliable vitals, even during workouts and spicy meals. The design could lead to conformable wearable monitors to track skin cancer and other conditions.”
  • Self-powered implantable device stimulates fast bone healing, then disappears without a trace.”—”Bone is a piezoelectric material, meaning it produces a tiny bit of electricity when placed under strain. These jolts of electricity stimulate factors that promote bone growth and healing, which is why electrostimulation is an effective therapy. While there are external stimulators that create an electric field to accelerate healing indirectly, the ideal solution is stimulating the bone directly. Putting the device inside the body, however, has unique requirements — not the least of which is powering it, according to Wang. ‘The ideal case is to have the device be self-generating, which was something that didn’t exist before this,’ he says.”
  • Fecal transplant plus fibre supplements improve insulin sensitivity in severely obese patients, clinical trial shows. Research provides further evidence the microbiome can benefit patients’ health, says researcher Karen Madsen.”
  • Crowdfunding now: “F.A.C.E. | A Self-Activating Fire Suppression Device. Defend your property from fires, even when you aren’t there.”—”My name is Arul Mathur, and I’m a rising senior attending Monte Vista High School in the San Francisco Bay Area. 2 years ago, my house almost burnt down. When I first heard about the fire through social media, I thought nothing of it — ‘It’ll never reach us; it’s 10 miles away.’ Over the next few days, the fire grew — ‘Now it’s 5 miles away, but the fire department will put it out.’ The next day, we gathered our suitcases and prepared to evacuate our home. Thankfully, due to the bravery and diligence of my local fire department, the fire was contained and our house was saved. However, other people weren’t so lucky. In October 2019 alone, more than 200,000 Californians were forced to evacuate from their homes. That’s when I realized: we have a serious problem. How could a 5 acre fire grow into 50,000, in just a few months, destroying hundreds of homes? How was it that I was so close to becoming part of that statistic? Searching for answers, I began to research why wildfires reached the size they did. One of the key problems I found was that by the time firefighters are alerted of a wildfire and take action, the fire has already grown out of control. That’s when I first began designing and engineering F.A.C.E.. I reasoned that by owning self-activating fire suppression, individuals no longer had to be reliant on the fire department to save their homes. Fire fighters could focus on containing the fire, while we, as residents, could control the fate of our property. In the middle of the 2019 fire season, I shared my idea to the world via TEDx, illustrating the dangers that fires pose to our society and how F.A.C.E. could stop them. Now, after two years of design changes, rigorous development, and targeted testing, F.A.C.E. is ready to protect you starting this fire season. All we need is your support.” Also.
  • Student designs life-saving device that rapidly stops bleeding from knife wounds. In the year ending March 2019, 259 people were killed in the UK using a sharp instrument, including knives and broken bottles. A victim of a stabbing can bleed to death in just five minutes, so the priority for first responders is to control bleeding from the wound.” “Joseph Bentley, a final year Product Design and Technology student, has designed REACT – a new method for rapidly stopping catastrophic blood loss from a knife wound that could be carried out by first responding police officers while waiting for an ambulance.”
  • Making seawater drinkable in minutes. A new alternative seawater desalination membrane to produce drinking water.”
  • The Twinkle and the Brain. Scientists at the IST Austria rejuvenate mouse brains with ketamine or flickering light. In defining periods of development, the brain re-organizes connections between its neurons more freely than in its adult form. Researchers around Sandra Siegert at the Institute of Science and Technology (IST) Austria have now discovered two methods to reopen such plasticity: repeated ketamine anesthesia and non-invasive 60 hertz light flickering. The journal Cell Reports now published their findings, which have the potential to become a therapeutic tool applicable to humans.”
  • Psychedelic spurs growth of neural connections lost in depression.”—”The psychedelic drug psilocybin, a naturally occurring compound found in some mushrooms, has been studied as a potential treatment for depression for years. But exactly how it works in the brain and how long beneficial results might last is still unclear. In a new study, Yale researchers show that a single dose of psilocybin given to mice prompted an immediate and long-lasting increase in connections between neurons.”
  • Microdosing: An introduction, Quartz Weekly for July 7
  • Study reveals source of remarkable memory of ‘superagers’.”—”‘Superagers’ who performed a challenging memory task in an MRI scanner were able to learn and recall new information as well as 25-year-old participants. Neurons in the visual cortex of brains of superaging older adults retain their selective and efficient ability to process visual stimuli and create a distinct memory of the images. In the future, interventions to train specific areas of the brain to be more efficient may enable normal aging adults to enhance memory and other cognitive functions.”
  • Why Does Mercury Have Such a Big Iron Core? Magnetism! New research from the University of Maryland shows that proximity to the sun’s magnetic field determines a planet’s interior composition.”
  • Scientists discover a new class of neurons for remembering faces.”—”Scientists have long searched in vain for a class of brain cells that could explain the visceral flash of recognition that we feel when we see a very familiar face, like that of our grandmothers. But the proposed “grandmother neuron”—a single cell at the crossroads of sensory perception and memory, capable of prioritizing an important face over the rabble—remained elusive. Now, new research reveals a class of neurons in the brain’s temporal pole region that links face perception to long-term memory. It’s not quite the apocryphal grandmother neuron—rather than a single cell, it’s a population of cells that collectively remembers grandma’s face. The findings, published in Science, are the first to explain how brains inculcate the faces of loved ones.” Wonder if this kind of structure will end up being related to “deja vu” also?
  • From meadow to plate: the cultured meat that replaces animals with grass. An affordable lab system that uses grass blades to turn cells into cultured meat has been developed at the University of Bath.”
  • From the D is for Deadpool and Donner dept: “Cancer cells eat themselves to survive. To survive life threatening injuries, cancer cells use a technique in which they eat parts of the membrane surrounding them. This is shown for the first time in research from a team of Danish researchers.”
  • Chinese astronauts complete first extravehicular activities for space station construction.”
  • A crystal made of electrons. Researchers at ETH Zurich have succeeded in observing a crystal that consists only of electrons. Such Wigner crystals were already predicted almost ninety years ago but could only now be observed directly in a semiconductor material.”
  • Just how serious are you about living longer? “Castration delays DNA aging. New research shows that castration of male sheep delays aging of DNA compared to intact males.”
  • Boy, 11, Becomes Second Youngest Graduate Ever, Plans to Make Humans Immortal.”
  • How a lizard’s venom inspired the promising weight loss drug Wegovy. Semaglutide is the start of a new chapter in obesity treatments.”—”After learning that the venom of a Gila monster lizard contained hormones that can regulate blood sugar, Daniel Drucker started wondering why. And could the venom somehow help treat diabetes?”
  • Kepler telescope glimpses population of free-floating planets.”—”Tantalizing evidence has been uncovered for a mysterious population of “free-floating” planets, planets that may be alone in deep space, unbound to any host star. The results include four new discoveries that are consistent with planets of similar masses to Earth, published today in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.”
  • The Tech Cold War’s ‘Most Complicated Machine’ That’s Out of China’s Reach. A $150 million chip-making tool from a Dutch company has become a lever in the U.S.-Chinese struggle. It also shows how entrenched the global supply chain is.”
  • Cui Bono? “Jeff Bezos says work-life balance is a ‘debilitating phrase.’ He wants Amazon workers to view their career and lives as a ‘circle.’.”
  • I can’t imagine shareholders and board, or whatever, if they had any say directly, allowing Bezos to go into space without either stepping down or a big fight about undue risk, tbh. I bet stepping down was part of the deal. “Jeff Bezos retires 739,489 times richer than average American.”
  • Elon Musk Suggests That a Brain Parasite Is Forcing Humans to Create Superhuman AI. Um, There Is Some Truth to This.”
  • From the This is what you want? This is what you get dept: “Nightmare scenario: alarm as advertisers seek to plug into our dreams. After Coors sought to steer unconscious minds to thoughts of beer, scientists have called for curbs on ‘targeted dream incubation’.”
  • Reagan-Era Gen X Dogma Has No Place in Silicon Valley. The Gen X investors and CEOs who run the industry are stuck on the idea that private money will protect them from a promised hellscape.”
  • Tweet—”SALON EXCLUSIVE: According to the hacker of Jason Miller’s new right-wing social media site “Gettr,” the site remains highly compromised with an “API server bug.” This morning, the hacker shared with me all of my personal information, which I inputted when making an account.” “The hacker added: “hackers will scrap user data and will sell it on [the] black market like in dark web,” while adding that there remain a high number of bugs in the code of ‘Gettr.'”
  • Spotify Architect Calls Musicians “Entitled” For Requesting More Money. Jim Anderson made the claim…”—”‘I think Taylor Swift doesn’t need .00001 more a stream. The problem is this: Spotify was created to solve a problem. The problem was this: piracy and music distribution. The problem was to get artists’ music out there. The problem was not to pay people money.’ He added: ‘The problem, the problem was to distribute music. Not to give you money, okay? The problem was to distribute music.'” Um. Wait. What? They “solved” anarchist piracy with corporation-sponsored piracy?!
  • Facebook, Twitter, Google Threaten to Quit Hong Kong Over Proposed Data Laws. Industry group representing companies says proposed anti-doxing rules could put staff based locally at risk of criminal charges.” I mean, that’s one way to have them voluntarily shut down during protests, apparently? Art of War FTW.
  • This TikTok Lawsuit Is Highlighting How AI Is Screwing Over Voice Actors. Voice actors are rallying behind Bev Standing, who is suing TikTok after the company acquired and replicated her voice using AI without her knowledge.”
  • Biden to Sign Executive Order Granting Farmers Right to Repair Protections. The federal government is officially planning to fight policies that prevent farmers from repairing their tractors.” Also “Biden Sets Up Tech Showdown With ‘Right-to-Repair’ Rules for FTC
  • A History of Regular Expressions and Artificial Intelligence.”—”The world of early theoretical AI is just weird. But! Ken Thompson, one of the creators of UNIX at Bell Labs comes along and starts using regexes for text editor searches in 1968. And renewed takes on neural networks come along in the 21st century that give some of that older research new life for machine learning and other algorithms. So, until Skynet/global warming kills us all, it all kind of works out? At least, intellectually speaking.”
  • Tweet—”‘The temperature-sensing pandemic robot is malfunctioning because of climate change’ is the most dystopian thing I’ve ever written.”
  • Delta Variant Now Dominant COVID-19 Strain In The U.S., CDC Estimates. The highly transmissible variant has worried public health officials who warn it could lead to a new surge in cases, particularly among the unvaccinated.”
  • Pfizer vaccine protection takes a hit as Delta variant spreads, Israeli government says.”—”In a brief statement issued on Monday, the government said that as of June 6, the vaccine provided 64% protection against infection. In May — when the Alpha variant dominated in Israel and the Delta strain had not yet spread widely — it found that the shot was 95.3% effective against all infections. The government added that the vaccine was now 93% effective in preventing severe disease and hospitalizations, compared to 97% reported in the medical journal The Lancet in May. The statement cited top line figures, but did not release underlying data or other details about its analysis. A team at Hebrew University said in a separate statement that it was too soon to tell how much the Delta variant was affecting vaccine efficacy.”
  • Stanford study ties milder COVID-19 symptoms to prior run-ins with other coronaviruses. In COVID-19 patients whose symptoms were mild, Stanford researchers found that they were more likely than sicker patients to have signs of prior infection by similar, less virulent coronaviruses.”
  • Fox Plans New Weather Channel And Criticism, Jokes Rain Down. ‘Fox Weather will have excellent coverage of Stormfront,’ one critic hit back at the planned channel.”
  • Cop Admits to Playing Copyrighted Music to Keep Activist Recording off Youtube.”—”It’s been said that no one considers themselves the villain of their own story, but the valid point raised by activists in the video is this: if police aren’t doing anything wrong, why the need to find new and better ways to eschew being held accountable for their behavior? Obviously, the victim here is Steven Taylor, and all people (especially those of color) who face wrongful discrimination and unchecked aggression from those charged and bound to protect and serve the public. But it’s a shitty cherry on top of a shit sundae to bring Taylor Swift into this. Why not go all the way, and play the “Imperial March” from Star Wars”
  • Nikole Hannah-Jones Issues Statement on Decision to Decline Tenure Offer at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and to Accept Knight Chair Appointment at Howard University.”
  • Tweet—”Let’s be clear — what you are doing is not about climate action or responding to an emergency. It never was. This is communication tactics disguised as politics.”
  • Last ice-covered parts of summertime Arctic Ocean vulnerable to climate change.”—”In a rapidly changing Arctic, one area might serve as a refuge – a place that could continue to harbor ice-dependent species when conditions in nearby areas become inhospitable. This region north of Greenland and the islands of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago has been termed the Last Ice Area. But research led by the University of Washington suggests that parts of this area are already showing a decline in summer sea ice.”
  • From the I was only following orders dept: “GOP Lawmaker Sued Over Inciting Insurrection: Trump White House Made Me Do It. Rep. Mo Brooks, who spoke at the Trump rally before the attack, claims he did it only because the White House asked him to.”
  • Haitian President Jovenel Moïse Assassinated At Home, Official Says. The first lady was also hospitalized.” Also “Haiti President Jovenel Moïse assassinated in middle-of-the-night attack at his home.” Also via: “We have awakened to the news I had expected at some point this summer, although frankly I’m surprised it didn’t happen in January, or that his allies in the Trump administration didn’t figure out a way to send him on exile as they did with other helpful puppets. While the loss of life is always a tragedy, I can’t imagine too many tears will be shed over this man.”
  • Borders Don’t Stop Violence—They Create It. The ‘border’ is not a line on the ground, but a tool to enable violence and surveillance.”
  • How Rumsfeld Deserves to Be Remembered. America’s worst secretary of defense never expressed a quiver of regret.”—”Rumsfeld was the worst secretary of defense in American history. Being newly dead shouldn’t spare him this distinction. He was worse than the closest contender, Robert McNamara, and that is not a competition to judge lightly. McNamara’s folly was that of a whole generation of Cold Warriors who believed that Indochina was a vital front in the struggle against communism. His growing realization that the Vietnam War was an unwinnable waste made him more insightful than some of his peers; his decision to keep this realization from the American public made him an unforgivable coward. But Rumsfeld was the chief advocate of every disaster in the years after September 11. Wherever the United States government contemplated a wrong turn, Rumsfeld was there first with his hard smile — squinting, mocking the cautious, shoving his country deeper into a hole. His fatal judgment was equaled only by his absolute self-assurance. He lacked the courage to doubt himself. He lacked the wisdom to change his mind.”
  • Tweet—”As a journalist, if you see a group of people gearing up to make an argument that you know is false then why not make that falseness — and the question of why they’re doing it — the dominant frame?”
  • Elegy for Winthrop, Their Light Upon the Water.”—”The shootings seem far away, until they’re not.”
  • Moguls, Deals And Patagonia Vests: A Look Inside ‘Summer Camp For Billionaires’.” Tweet—”The manager of the Friedman Memorial Airport tells me some 90 private jets will land in Hailey, Idaho, on the first day of the Allen & Co. Sun Valley Conference, which is known as ‘Summer Camp for Billionaires.'” Tweet—”Another way to put this is, the people and companies which control the vastest collection of resources & desire-drivers in human history will once again get together, but this time to discuss what to do about increased public pressure to heavily regulate every single one of them.”
  • The Sacred Band of Thebes – The Elite Military Unit of Same Sex Lovers. The Sacred Band of Thebes was an elite force of shock troops in the Theban army, consisting of 150 paired male lovers that were famed in the classical world during the 4th century BC for their legendary courage and military strength in battle.”
  • WOVEN: The Cartography of Shame and Womanhood.”—”WOVEN is an Entropy series and dedicated safe space for essays by persons who engage with #MeToo, sexual assault and harassment, and #DomesticViolence, as well as their intersections with mental illness, substance addiction, and legal failures and remedies. We believe you. If selected for the series, we want to provide the editorial and human support such that our conversation continues long after the stories and names have changed.”
  • Iceland’s four-day working week trials an ‘overwhelming success’, report finds.”—”As part of the trials, employees from a range of professions moved to a 35- or 36-hour working week, but received the same pay. Despite concerns a shorter working week would unintentionally lead to overwork, the results of the trials ‘directly contradict this’, the report found. About 86 per cent of Iceland’s entire working population has “now either moved to working shorter hours or have gained the right to shorten their working hours.” Also Four-day work week trial in Iceland hailed an ‘overwhelming success’. The world’s largest ever trial of a four-day working week in Iceland was an ‘overwhelming success’ and should be trialled in the UK, researchers have suggested.”
  • This is the Awful Voice Inside My Head. On employee intimidation.”—”Every manager/executive… who is good at their job and works at a company with employees who aren’t broadly miserable employs a similar strategy: they listen to their employees. They listen and they do it regularly. I don’t mean sending out end of year feedback forms and having HR compile long reports nobody reads — I mean they actively seek their employees out and, humbly, listen. They listen not to confirm their priors, but to gain some new understanding. They do this, in part, because they give a shit about their employees, but also because it’s good business. It turns out that your employees — the ones doing the day to day labor of making the business run — are quite good at sending signals about the real status of the company’s culture. You just have to be willing to listen.”
  • The Forgotten ‘Black Woodstock’ of 1969.”—”A grand unearthing of an event all but lost to wider cultural memory, Summer of Soul’s opening introduction of 1969’s Harlem Cultural Festival — the “Black Woodstock” — is explosive.”
  • Watch “Frida Gets Personal.”
  • An unconventional look at the deadly sin of wrath.”—”700 years after Dante’s death, this series explores the contemporary meaning of the seven cardinal sins. This episode focuses on wrath, which is arguably the first word of European literature. From Homer’s Iliad to the contemporary icon of mindfulness Brother David, from the Biblical ten plagues to our own families and in-laws, we investigate this deadly sin and why we love it so much.” Part of BBC’s The Seven Sins series: “Dive into the contemporary meaning of the seven cardinal sins.”
  • This is either the beginning or end of an PIE epic poem. Did this kid just avert another Trojan war? “My ‘lovely’ calves: Irish 10-year-old swaps cash prize for herd. What would most 10-year-olds want to spend €1,000 (£860) on? Lego? Computer games? Maybe a lifetime supply of sweets?”—”The young farmer told RTÉ he had already learned a lot from raising the calves. ‘It’s taught me you need to actually work for something because you can’t just be sitting around on the sofa doing nothing saying: ‘Oh my life’s a mess’. You need to have something you’re passionate about, I think,’ he added.”
  • Lovecraft Country Not Renewed for a Second Season at HBO Max. The genre bending show will not see a second season on the popular streamer.”
  • ‘What’s the craic?’ is a new sentence I’ve acquired in Ireland. Also, ‘coola boola’. New to the Parish: Rujing Guo arrived in Ireland from Shenzhen in China in 2020.”—”There is an ancient Chinese phrase which Rujing Guo uses as her motto: ‘To grow as a person, you must walk 1,000 miles and read 1,000 books’. Moving to Ireland in August 2020 from Shenzhen in eastern China has been part of this journey, Guo says, although the pandemic has stopped any further foreign travel for now. She has kept reading, as it was through literature that she first became acquainted with Ireland. George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats and James Joyce are among her favourite authors and poets, and since arriving she has sought out opportunities when lockdown eased to visit places mentioned in their works.”
  • From the sentient chthonic tentacles just want hugs dept: “Man Bitten By Neighbor’s Escaped Python In Toilet In Austria. The 65-year-old victim discovered the snake after feeling ‘a ‘nip’ in the genital area.'”

Omnium Gatherum: 4jul2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 4, 2021

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

Summary for the month of June 2021

Welp. That’s it. After trying for a little while again, and having less than 1 viewer on average, I’ve finally given up on Twitch streaming permanently. I’ll still be posting videos on YouTube, I think, sometimes, maybe, and I’ve actually done a few live streams. However, I have only been doing live streams on YT set to become unlisted after they end, so they disappear, even if they don’t vanish completely. Catch ’em if you can randomly find me live, I guess.

Mostly that’s what’s new. I’m not sure if it makes much sense to keep this blog going, but then I haven’t been sure of that for a long time. IDEK.

Mostly this month has been about being too damned hot along with constant, pretty much daily, thunderstorms, flood warnings. There’s also been a few power outages and dealing with trying to get repairs to the house.

Other than a few live streams that are now unlisted, I’ve only posted 2 videos publicly, both in the last few days, and I’ve not done any actual tabletop / board game playing. Honestly, I start to get things ready and just give up, and have other things I have to do. Just not happening right now, still, again. Whatever.

Yeah. That’s it. ::shrug::

Omnium Gatherum: 30jun2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for June 30, 2021

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

  • How the Prophetic Fiction of Kathrine Kressmann Taylor Exposed the Dangers of Nazism and the Rise of Hitler.” Excerpt from Margot Livesey’s introduction to the 2021 edition of Address Unknown [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor—”A rediscovered classic and international bestseller that recounts the gripping tale of a friendship destroyed at the hands of Nazi Germany In this searing novel, Kathrine Kressmann Taylor brings vividly to life the insidious spread of Nazism through a series of letters between Max, a Jewish art dealer in San Francisco, and Martin, his friend and former business partner who has returned to Germany in 1932, just as Hitler is coming to power. Originally published in Story magazine in 1938, Address Unknown became an international sensation. Credited with exposing the dangers of Nazism to American readers early on, it is also a scathing indictment of fascist movements around the world and a harrowing exposé of the power of the pen as a weapon. A powerful and eloquent tale about the consequences of a friendship—and society—poisoned by extremism, Address Unknown remains hauntingly and painfully relevant today. ”
  • The Empire of Gormenghast“—”I am re-reading the Gormenghast trilogy, which is pleasing to me. Don’t know how long ago I read it but I must have been through a lot of changes since then because the writing is amazing in a way I have no memory of. That for later; for now the thoughts which idle through my mind before sleep are about the world around Gormenghast.”
  • Samuel Hill was prophetic in 1966 when he predicted Southern churches in crisis.”—”In his monumental work, Southern Churches in Crisis, published in 1966, Samuel S. Hill Jr, then chair of the religion department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, wrote: ‘The cultural-social complex in which revivalism-fundamentalism came to birth and flourished daily undergoes significant modification. The passing of the old culture spells the decline of this culture-religion spawned in it and so closely tied to it. As a result, the last four or five years have witnessed the first trends in scores of years toward the stabilizing of religious statistics. Although the denominations do not yet acknowledge it or grasp its significance, an unprecedented era, likely to be marked by flux and decline, is breaking upon them. The heart of the matter is that the ministry of the churches is ever more irrelevant to persons in the new society. … If what the churches are doing does not relate the divine message, compassion, and power to (people’s) real lives, their understanding, their needs, and their problems, the churches act irresponsibly.’ What Samuel Hill projected into the future 55 years ago has become our present. Perhaps a brief foray into his thought will provide insight into where Southern churches have been, in order to better understand where they are right now.”
  • Following on news about “Dragon” man: “New fossils reveal a strange-looking Neanderthal in Israel
  • From the Alpha and Omega dept: “What is a heat dome? Extreme temperatures in the Pacific Northwest, explained“—”In this case, a ridge of high pressure, which is the heat dome, has become lodged in the Pacific Northwest. It is acting as a block in the atmosphere, not allowing the weather to move. The specific type of block is called an Omega block, because it looks like the greek letter Omega, and the hot air is pooling inside.”
  • Ugh. Not now Attack of the Clones! “Single bee is making an immortal clone army thanks to a genetic fluke. One bee has cloned itself millions of times over the past three decades.”
  • Ugh. Not now giant glowing space hand of, presumably, Apollo! “Giant ghostly ‘hand’ stretches through space in new X-ray views.”
  • Dinosaurs were struggling long before the asteroid hit“—”Millions of years before a massive asteroid struck what’s now the Yucatan Peninsula, the dinosaurs were already struggling. Though the devastating effects of the asteroid impact that ended the Mesozoic Era likely turned out the lights on the dinosaurs, new research suggests global cooling was already ushering them to the door.” Tweet—”Did an asteroid write this?”
  • ‘Polar dinosaurs’ may have given birth in the Arctic over 70 million years ago, study finds.”
  • Past, present and future stars that can see Earth as a transiting exoplanet.”—”In the search for life in the cosmos, transiting exoplanets are currently our best targets. With thousands already detected, our search is entering a new era of discovery with upcoming large telescopes that will look for signs of ‘life’ in the atmospheres of transiting worlds. Previous work has explored the zone from which Earth would be visible while transiting the Sun. However, these studies considered only the current position of stars, and did not include their changing vantage point over time. Here we report that 1,715 stars within 100 parsecs from the Sun are in the right position to have spotted life on a transiting Earth since early human civilization (about 5,000 years ago), with an additional 319 stars entering this special vantage point in the next 5,000 years. Among these stars are seven known exoplanet hosts, including Ross-128, which saw Earth transit the Sun in the past, and Teegarden’s Star and Trappist-1, which will start to see it in 29 and 1,642 years, respectively. We found that human-made radio waves have already swept over 75 of the closest stars on our list.”
  • Alien planets have had ‘front-row’ view of Earth for ages, astronomers say. What if we’re the aliens?”
  • ‘Edge of chaos’ opens pathway to artificial intelligence discoveries.”—”Scientists at the University of Sydney and Japan’s National Institute for Material Science (NIMS) have discovered that an artificial network of nanowires can be tuned to respond in a brain-like way when electrically stimulated.”
  • When A City-Size Star Becomes A Black Hole’s Lunch, The Universe Roils.”—”A black hole swallowing a neutron star — a star more massive than our sun but only about the size of a city — has been observed for the first time ever.”
  • NASA’s Webb Telescope Will Look Back in Time, Use Quasars to Unlock the Secrets of the Early Universe. Looking back in time, Webb will see quasars as they appeared billions of years ago. Outshining all the stars in their host galaxies combined, quasars are among the brightest objects in the universe. These brilliant, distant and active supermassive black holes shape the galaxies in which they reside. Shortly after its launch, scientists will use Webb to study six of the most far-flung and luminous quasars, along with their host galaxies, in the very young universe. They will examine what part quasars play in galaxy evolution during these early times. The team will also use the quasars to study the gas in the space between galaxies in the infant universe. Only with Webb’s extreme sensitivity to low levels of light and its superb angular resolution will this be possible.”
  • Earth-like worlds capable of sustaining life may be less common than we thought. Life on other potentially habitable worlds might not receive enough light to sustain a thriving biosphere.”
  • How ancient people fell in love with bread, beer and other carbs. Well before people domesticated crops, they were grinding grains for hearty stews and other starchy dishes.”
  • From The Day of the Triffids dept: “Researcher introduces new CRISPR 3.0 system for highly efficient gene activation in plants.”
  • New Device Creates Water From Thin Air. Researchers say they have solved the tricky problem of making a totally passive, 24/7 water generating system.”—”The design works pretty well, Hächler said. In lab tests, the maximum yield his team was able to get from the device was 0.05 liters (1.8 fluid ounces) per square meter per hour, very close to the theoretical maximum yield that researchers had calculated. That means the device is able to practically produce around 1.2 liters per square meter per day, or about a third of a person’s required daily intake. This is around twice the output of some other passive technologies, the researchers said.”
  • What’s Really Happening When You Experience Déjà Vu? The study of déjà vu is now legit science, though researchers still don’t know what exactly causes it.”
  • Science Should Not Try to Absorb Religion and Other Ways of Knowing. Our diverse ways of seeing reality will never, and should never, meld into a monolithic worldview.”
  • How Underground Fiber Optics Spy on Humans Moving Above. Vibrations from cars and pedestrians create unique signals in cables. Now scientists have used the trick to show how Covid-19 brought life to a halt.”—”Fiber optic cables work by perfectly trapping pulses of light and transporting them vast distances as signals. But when a car or person passes overhead, the vibrations introduce a disturbance, or imperfection: a tiny amount of that light scatters back to the source. Because the speed of light is a known quantity, the Penn State researchers could shine a laser through a single fiber optic strand and measure vibrations at different lengths of the cable by calculating the time it took the scattered light to travel. The technique is known in geoscience as distributed acoustic sensing, or DAS.”
  • Your AI pair programmer. With GitHub Copilot, get suggestions for whole lines or entire functions right inside your editor.”—”Trained on billions of lines of public code, GitHub Copilot puts the knowledge you need at your fingertips, saving you time and helping you stay focused.”
  • Can Algorithmic Bias Teach Us about Race?“—”Machines learned racism from humans. Perhaps humans can now learn about that racism from the very machines they taught.”
  • John McAfee hideout traced to ‘ghost hotel’ with a bitcoin farm.”—”Cybersecurity guru John McAfee — who was found hanged in his jail cell this week — had been hiding out for years in a Spanish “ghost hotel” owned by a Russian who allegedly used it to run a secret bitcoin farm, according to reports.” “McAfee on Wednesday had just been ordered to be extradited to the US when he was found hanged in his Barcelona jail cell.” “Some of the US charges he faced included a pump-and-dump scheme involving cryptocurrencies that he was touting on social media. In that case, McAfee and an accomplice allegedly bilked bitcoin investors out of some $13 million in two schemes, including one where they bought up large quantities of “alt-coin,” then inflated the price of it by publicizing it on Twitter. They then sold off the cryptocurrency at the inflated price and made a $2 million profit, prosecutors said. He had been facing up to 30 years in jail if convicted of all the charges against him.” Also, previously: “Antivirus pioneer John McAfee found dead in Spanish prison.”
  • Mircea Popescu, Bitcoin Blogger and Provocateur, Reported Dead at 41. Mircea Popescu’a aggressive brand of unapologetic, uncompromising Bitcoin evangelism made his influence enduring despite his documented instances of sexism and bigotry.” Also “Bitcoin Billionaire Reportedly Found Dead.”—”Given his tremendous wealth — his holdings would have been worth almost $2 billion when Bitcoin hit all-time highs in mid-April — the crypto market is now wondering what will happen to all those assets. It’s a timely reminder that without a backup plan, digital currency holdings can easily end up being wiped off the face of the earth when their owner passes away.”
  • Discovery of Black Death bacterium in 5,000-year-old body shows ancient roots of medieval plague.”
  • Scientist recovers coronavirus gene sequences secretly deleted last year in Wuhan. He finds 13 sequences from some of the earliest cases in Wuhan.”—”Finding the origin story for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus responsible for nearly 3.9 million deaths worldwide, has been largely hampered by lack of access to information from China where cases first popped up. Now, a researcher in Seattle has dug up deleted files from Google Cloud that reveal 13 partial genetic sequences for some of the earliest cases of COVID-19 in Wuhan, Carl Zimmer reported for The New York Times. The sequences don’t tip the scales toward or away from one of the many theories about how SARS-CoV-2 came to be — they do not suggest the virus leaked from a high-security lab in Wuhan, nor do they suggest a natural spillover event. But they do firm up the idea that the novel coronavirus was circulating earlier than the first major outbreak at a seafood market.” Also “Scientist Finds Early Virus Sequences That Had Been Mysteriously Deleted. By rooting through files stored on Google Cloud, a researcher says he recovered 13 early coronavirus sequences that had disappeared from a database last year.” Also, previously: “Scientist Finds Early Coronavirus Sequences That Had Been Mysteriously Deleted.”
  • GOP megadonor funds S.D. troops’ border deployment.” Also “GOP donor funds South Dakota National Guard troops in Texas.” Also “Kristi Noem Uses GOP Donor’s ‘Private Donation’ For Guard Deployment To Texas. The South Dakota governor and 2024 presidential hopeful says the troops are necessary to protect the southern border from migrants trying to enter the country.”—”‘Kristi Noem is using National Guard troops like mercenaries for her personal political ambitions and some authoritarian fantasy of a personal military,’ Wellman said. ‘The whole thing is, if not illegal, incredibly inappropriate.'”
  • Inside Gun-Surrendering Criminal Mark McCloskey’s Very Sad St. Louis Rally.”—”Noted local criminal Mark McCloskey played host to a barbecue/political rally on Sunday afternoon, drawing tens of admirers to the sweltering parking lot of a closed outlet mall in St. Louis County to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the time he pulled a gun on a crowd of people who otherwise would never have noticed or cared he existed.”
  • Pastor Greg Locke Says Biden Is ‘Demon-Possessed,’ Insists Trump Is ‘Legitimate President’
  • QAnon Supporters Express Boredom With ‘Same Old’ Trump Speech: ‘This Is Getting Ridiculous’.” Getting?
  • The ruling suspending Rudy Giuliani’s law license is hilarious.”—”In cataloging Giuliani’s transgressions, the filing reads as a bemused and indignant greatest hits of Trump 2020 election lies, along with point-by-point refutations and comically timed footnotes. With every other sentence, the judges are almost shouting at the reader, ‘Get a load of the nerve on this guy!'”
  • ‘The Tea Party to the 10th power’: Trumpworld bets big on critical race theory. Republicans aren’t coy about what they are trying to do. It’s not just about changing curricula. It’s about taking back Congress.”
  • No jail time for first Capitol Riot defendant sentenced. Anna Morgan-Lloyd gets 3 years probation for entering the Capitol illegally on Jan. 6.”
  • DeSantis signs bill requiring Florida students, professors to register political views with state. Universities may lose funding if staff and students’ beliefs do not satisfy Florida’s GOP-run legislature.” Also tweet—”Public universities in Florida will be required to survey both faculty and students on their political beliefs and viewpoints, with the institutions at risk of losing their funding if the responses are not satisfactory to the state’s GOP-led legislature.” Also tweet—”This is a horrendous step toward thought control. Any university that loses state funding for refusing to submit to this regime or for cooperating and then flunking the state’s test of ideological suitability will have a strong First Amendment case I’d gladly help press pro bono.”
  • They Seemed Like Democratic Activists. They Were Secretly Conservative Spies. Operatives infiltrated progressive groups across the West to try to manipulate politics and reshape the national electoral map. They targeted moderate Republicans, too — anyone seen as threats to hard-line conservatives.”
  • Nine Little Girls“—”Some years ago, deep into a confounding research assignment for which I had been combing through the website of the South Dakota legislature, I stumbled upon the recorded testimony of a woman describing in detail her own rape and torture, and the tortures of her sisters by the same hands. In her account the acts, which allegedly took place in the 1960s and 1970s, continued for several years and had begun when they were all children some fifty years earlier.” “Like all eight of her sisters (Louise, Francine, Mary, Barbara, Joann, and three others who wish to remain anonymous), and like most victims of childhood sexual assault, she claims that she repressed memories of the abuse that she sustained while a child and a teenager. Louise, Geraldine’s older sister, alleges that she was in third grade when she became the first of her family to be abused by the priests and nuns at St. Paul’s Mission School (now called Marty Indian School), a Catholic school in Marty, South Dakota. The nine sisters were born and raised in Olga, North Dakota into a tribe of the Anishinaabe people known by the federal government as the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, to a strong-willed matriarch, the mother of seventeen children. They were among those Native toddlers whose parents had willingly sent them to Native boarding school in order to secure an education that could supply the skills necessary to thrive in this country. Others across the country were ordered from their homes by government officials, still others were allegedly forcibly taken from their families.” “By becoming aware of them, and by extension of all the men and women like the nine sisters whose lives were permanently mutilated by similar ordeals, these stories became in some sense also mine. I say this humbly. Again, I am not like them, and I have not suffered anything like what they have suffered. But it would be wrong to turn away from them for that reason, to invoke ‘alterity’ and try to forget what I have learned. Difference should not be an excuse for indifference. If one does the work of study and imagination, the arduous and respectful work, then the gulf can be adequately traversed — certainly enough to impose moral and social and political responsibilities. Strangely, solemnly, in ways totally unlike the victims and their communities, I remember. They are a part of me. Now they are a part of you.”
  • Why Adélaïde Labille-Guiard’s 1783 Portrait of a Mother Nursing Broke New Ground.”—”The last time Adélaïde Labille-Guiard’s portrait of Christine Geneviève Mitoire was shown in public was almost as dramatic as the first. The large-scale pastel, ‘Portrait of Madame Charles Mitoire with Her Children’ (1783), surfaced in living color this month after only being visible for the past century in black-and-white reproductions, from a photo taken when it was last on the market at a Parisian gallery.” “Mitoire’s portrait caused a stir the first time it was exhibited, too. It was part of a series of 11 portraits that Labille-Guiard exhibited in 1783 as her Paris Salon debut, the year she was admitted to the prestigious Académie Royale. Mitoire was the only woman in the series. And she was breastfeeding.”
  • Picasso painting found as builder arrested over art heist. A painting by Pablo Picasso that was stolen nine years ago during a heist at a Greek gallery has been recovered.”
  • Purchased at a Landfill for $5, a David Bowie Painting Smashed an Auction Record.”
  • Mexico raids building project next to Teotihuacán pyramids.”—”Mexican archaeological officials reported last week that they had been trying since March to halt the private construction project, but work continued on what local media says were plans to build some sort of amusement park.”
  • From the Beneath the Planet of the Apes dept: “Eden Project to develop £30m ‘underground cathedral’. The Eden Project is planning an ‘underground cathedral’ by transforming a Portland cavern into a £30m tourist attraction in Dorset.”
  • Speaking of Planet of the Apes movies and Alpha and Omega level weather patterns, from 2019: “How Beneath the Planet of the Apes Nearly Buried The Franchise. How the insane Beneath the Planet of the Apes almost buried the series after two movies.”
  • Raves from the grave: lost 90s subculture is back in the spotlight. Driven by a ‘groundswell’ of young devotees and fortysomething nostalgia, a series of events is celebrating the youth movement.”
  • Rome’s Colosseum opens its underground for the first time in its history.”—”It is not only the first time in 2,000 years that the area — described as the “heart” of the building — has been open; since the underground levels, or “hypogea,” were where gladiators and animals waited before going into combat, this is the first time in the monument’s history that the public has ever been allowed in.”
  • Polish Politicians Sue Artist-Activists for Mapping ‘Atlas of Hate’.”—”A group of local governments in Poland that had declared themselves as “free from LGBT ideology” are waging a battle in court against four artist-activists who created the Atlas of Hate, an interactive map charting the country’s anti-gay zones.”
  • Affidavit: FBI feared Pennsylvania would seize fabled gold.”—”An FBI agent applied for a federal warrant in 2018 to seize a fabled cache of U.S. government gold he said was ‘stolen during the Civil War’ and hidden in a Pennsylvania cave, saying the state might take the gold for itself if the feds asked for permission, according to court documents unsealed Thursday.”
  • I’ve Cracked Zodiac, a French Engineer Says. Online Sleuths Are Skeptical. Fayçal Ziraoui caused an online uproar after saying he had cracked unsolved ciphers attributed to the Zodiac killer in California and identified him, potentially ending a 50-year-old quest.”
  • Three Core Ideas to Make Remote Work, Work.”—”Remote work, works – when we are intentional about it. My three core principles of remote work are: Embrace async. Enable autonomy. Build connection.”
  • ‘Birds Aren’t Real’ rolling rally makes first stop in Missouri.”—”According to Peter Mcindoe, with the Birds Aren’t Real movement, all birds in the United States were killed by the government and replaced by federal drones. “What makes me think that? I think the evidence is all around us, birds sit on power lines, we believe they’re charging on power lines, we believe that bird poop on cars is liquid tracking apparatus.” The movement – which has been fueled by online chatter as well as mysterious fliers posted in cities across the U.S. – is currently on tour, and Springfield was its first stop. Birds Aren’t Real relies on internet-fueled guerilla marketing to spread a silly message. Followers are poking fun at conspiracy theories like QAnon that have gone mainstream over the last few years.” Also Birds Aren’t Real.
  • Unheard Johnny Cash live album recorded by Grateful Dead engineer gets release date“—”A never-heard Johnny Cash live album from 1968 recorded by longtime Grateful Dead associate Owsley “Bear” Stanley in San Francisco is set for release on Sept. 24”. Direct via At The Carousel Ballroom April 24, 1968, also Amazon, iTunes, Spotify.
  • What is Itchfunding?. Itchfunding is just a community effort to move more games outside of traditional crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter or sites of it’s ilk, for the health of the indie game community. The ideal being that in the future, it’s easier to launch and fund a game without needing to rely on a massive corporation like Kickstarter, but also to keep all of your things in one place (in that the place you go to raise money, is also your normal store front).
  • Shipping Prices For Board Games Have Gone Through The Roof. Freight shipping costs are up 300-400%, a cost some publishers simply can’t afford to absorb.”
  • If You’re A Child Of The ’80s, I Guarantee You’ll Fall In Love With This New “Goonies” Board Game. The Goonies: Never Say Die is a new role-playing game from the creative minds at Funko Games.” Also “The Goonies get a new board game this summer. Your first look at The Goonies: Never Say Die from Funko Games.” It’s currently exclusively at Target.
  • WizKids Announces New Dungeons & Dragons Game for Kids.”—”WizKids has announced plans to publish a new Dungeons & Dragons-themed game designed to teach kids the basics of dungeon delving. Earlier this week, WizKids announced Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Scrawlers – Heroes of Undermountain, a new game for 2-4 players. Each player is given a map of one of Undermountain’s infamous levels which players then have to traverse by using a marker to draw a continuous line through the different rooms. Players attempt to score victory points by interacting with treasures, defeating monsters and gathering artifacts, keeping in mind that they have to keep drawing their line while trying to race against other players in real time. Players can choose between one of four classes, each of which has an action that they can do quicker than the other players. For instance, the Barbarian can defeat monsters quicker than other players, while the Rogue collects treasure more easily. There’s also a level up component to the game and the maps grow more difficult as they delve deeper into Undermountain. Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Scrawlers – Heroes of Undermountain will cost $25 and will be released in October.” This page says it releases in July: Pre-Order – Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Scrawlers: Heroes of Undermountain.
  • New in the saga of TSR: “TSR Is Back…. Again!” and “TSR (2) Confirms TSR (3)’s Acquisition of Trademark (Updated!).” But Ernie Gygax on New TSR, WotC Beefs, Trademarks, Licensees, 5E, & More and Tweet—”WOOOOOOOOWWWW…. *sips tea*”. Also “A TSR Announces a Star Frontiers Reboot” and “TSR Plans to Bring Back Classic RPG Star Frontiers
  • From the “Here we come, walkin’ down the street” dept: “Adelaide’s ‘Big Bird Bandits’ appear in court charged with stealing Sesame Street costume.”
  • Interview with the Vampire Series From Breaking Bad Producer Coming to AMC in 2022. Friday Nights Light writer will serve as showrunner.”—”Given the numerous spinoffs AMC has produced for The Walking Dead and the size of the Anne Rice collection, the network seems eager to expand the Vampire universe as far as it can go.”
  • Good Omens is returning for a second season on Amazon Prime Video. Crowley and Aziraphale are coming back.” Also “‘Good Omens’ Renewed For Season 2 At Amazon.” Also “Michael Sheen, David Tennant to reunite for Good Omens season 2. Season 1 was originally intended as a standalone miniseries, adapted from Terry Pratchett’s beloved 1990 novel.” Also “Really Bloody Excellent Omens…” and “A Conversation with Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett” both Neil Gaiman talking about a sequel, so it’s not out of nowhere, or something that wasn’t already contemplated by both authors, if you were concerned at all.
  • Shang-Chi Teases The MCU’s Biggest Atlantis Setup Yet. The second trailer for Shang-Chi includes what could turn out to be the biggest Atlantis setup Marvel has done yet in the MCU.”—”The dragon in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings may be the biggest Atlantis setup that Marvel has attempted yet. Thus far, Marvel has avoided directly mentioning the undersea kingdom and the home of Namor the Sub-Mariner in Marvel’s movies.”
  • Watch “Legends Never Die: An Oral History of ‘The Green Knight’“, narrated by Ralph Ineson, a promo for A24’s movie The Green Knight, dir. David Lowery with Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, and Joel Edgerton; but it’s a pretty neat primer, as one might expect. The movie finally hits cinemas today. I mean, if anyone still goes to the cinema anymore. As a reminder, here’s the actual trailer.
  • Tweet—”I said goodbye today to River, who most of you know as Fallout 4’s Dogmeat. Heartbroken doesn’t cover it, but I won’t eulogize her here. For twitter, I thought it’d be appropriate to look back at her impact on that game. (plus, writing about game dev hurts less than grieving).”