Omnium Gatherum: 13jan2022

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for January 13, 2022

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

  • A kilometer-wide asteroid will make its closest pass by Earth next week“—”An asteroid estimated to be a kilometer (3,451 feet) wide will fly by Earth on January 18. It will pass within 1.2 million miles of our planet, moving at 47,344 miles per hour, according to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies, which tracks potentially hazardous comets and asteroids that could collide with our planet. The approaching asteroid is known as 7482 (1994 PC1) and it was discovered in 1994, according to NASA. Nobody expects 7482 (1994 PC1) to hit Earth, but it’s the closest the asteroid will come for the next two centuries, according to NASA projections. The flyby is expected to take place on Tuesday January 18 at 4.51 p.m. ET.” Also “DON’T LOOK UP! NASA warns at least FIVE asteroids are heading toward Earth in January and one is the size of Big Ben. A NASA report has warned that at least five asteroids are approaching near Earth this January – and one is the size of a large building.”
  • This is new news about old news, but in case you hadn’t heard before: “Horned helmets predate Vikings by 3,000 years, originating in the Bronze Age, researchers say“—”From appearing in the Asterix comic book series, to inspiring an avatar on ‘The Masked Singer,’ Vikings have revealed themselves across pop culture sporting horned helmets to symbolize their ferocity and power. However, two horned helmets first discovered in Viksø, Denmark have been traced back to Sardinia in the Bronze Age — dispelling myths that they originated from the Viking era, according to research published in the historical journal Praehistorische Zeitschrift in December. ‘For many years in popular culture, people associated the Viksø helmets with the Vikings,’ said Helle Vandkilde, an archaeologist at Aarhus University in Denmark who was involved in the research, in a press statement sent to CNN. ‘But our research confirms that the helmets were deposited in the bog in about 900 B.C., almost 3,000 years ago and many centuries before the Vikings or Norse dominated the region.'” Also “Horned ‘Viking’ helmets were actually from a different civilization, archaeologists say. Spectacular helmets worn by Bronze Age leaders as power symbols.”
  • Three Centuries of Travel Writing by Muslim Women [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] edited by Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, Daniel Majchrowicz and Sunil Sharma, contributions by Asiya Alam, Andrew Amstutz, C. Ceyhun Arslan, David Boyk, Greg Halaby, Hans Harder, Megan Robin Hewitt, Nurten Kilic-Schubel and Roberta Micallef, due August, 2022—”When thinking of intrepid travelers from past centuries, we don’t usually put Muslim women at the top of the list. And yet, the stunning firsthand accounts in this collection completely upend preconceived notions of who was exploring the world. Editors Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, Daniel Majchrowicz, and Sunil Sharma recover, translate, annotate, and provide historical and cultural context for the 17th- to 20th-century writings of Muslim women travelers in ten different languages. Queens and captives, pilgrims and provocateurs, these women are diverse. Their connection to Islam is wide-ranging as well, from the devout to those who distanced themselves from religion. What unites these adventurers is a concern for other women they encounter, their willingness to record their experiences, and the constant thoughts they cast homeward even as they traveled a world that was not always prepared to welcome them. Perfect for readers interested in gender, Islam, travel writing, and global history, Three Centuries of Travel Writing by Muslim Women provides invaluable insight into how these daring women experienced the world―in their own voices.” Also thread—”The history/ethics/politics of non-western travel writing is my dream course to teach for a long time. Here’s a short 🧵 on 10 books that flip the myth of traveling as a white colonial pastime: 1/ A collection of 45 Muslim women traveler’s writings from the 17th-20th centuries.”
  • Radical Dreams: Surrealism, Counterculture, Resistance [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] edited by Elliott H King and Abigail Susik, due March 2022—”Surrealism is widely thought of as an artistic movement that flourished in Europe between the two world wars. However, during the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, diverse radical affinity groups, underground subcultures, and student protest movements proclaimed their connections to surrealism. Radical Dreams argues that surrealism was more than an avant-garde art movement; it was a living current of anti-authoritarian resistance. Featuring perspectives from scholars across the humanities and, distinctively, from contemporary surrealist practitioners, this volume examines surrealism’s role in postwar oppositional cultures. It demonstrates how surrealism’s committed engagement extends beyond the parameters of an artistic style or historical period, with chapters devoted to Afrosurrealism, Ted Joans, punk, the Situationist International, the student protests of May ’68, and other topics. Privileging interdisciplinary, transhistorical, and material culture approaches, contributors address surrealism’s interaction with New Left politics, protest movements, the sexual revolution, psychedelia, and other subcultural trends around the globe. A revelatory work, Radical Dreams definitively shows that the surrealist movement was synonymous with cultural and political radicalism. It will be especially valuable to those interested in the avant-garde, contemporary art, and radical social movements. In addition to the editors, the contributors to this volume include Mikkel Bolt Rasmussen, Jonathan P. Eburne, David Hopkins, Claire Howard, Michael Löwy, Alyce Mahon, Gavin Parkinson, Grégory Pierrot, Penelope Rosemont, Ron Sakolsky, Marie Arleth Skov, Ryan Standfest, and Sandra Zalman.”
  • The Bright Ages by Matthew Gabriele and David Perry review – the colourful side of the dark ages. This revisionist history of medieval Europe takes apart the myth of a savage, primitive period, but there are so many more great stories to be told.” About The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Matthew Gabriele and David Perry—”A lively and magisterial popular history that refutes common misperceptions of the European Middle Ages, showing the beauty and communion that flourished alongside the dark brutality—a brilliant reflection of humanity itself. The word ‘medieval’ conjures images of the ‘Dark Ages’—centuries of ignorance, superstition, stasis, savagery, and poor hygiene. But the myth of darkness obscures the truth; this was a remarkable period in human history. The Bright Ages recasts the European Middle Ages for what it was, capturing this 1,000-year era in all its complexity and fundamental humanity, bringing to light both its beauty and its horrors. The Bright Ages takes us through ten centuries and crisscrosses Europe and the Mediterranean, Asia and Africa, revisiting familiar people and events with new light cast upon them. We look with fresh eyes on the Fall of Rome, Charlemagne, the Vikings, the Crusades, and the Black Death, but also to the multi-religious experience of Iberia, the rise of Byzantium, and the genius of Hildegard and the power of queens. We begin under a blanket of golden stars constructed by an empress with Germanic, Roman, Spanish, Byzantine, and Christian bloodlines and end nearly 1,000 years later with the poet Dante—inspired by that same twinkling celestial canopy—writing an epic saga of heaven and hell that endures as a masterpiece of literature today. The Bright Ages reminds us just how permeable our manmade borders have always been and of what possible worlds the past has always made available to us. The Middle Ages may have been a world “lit only by fire” but it was one whose torches illuminated the magnificent rose windows of cathedrals, even as they stoked the pyres of accused heretics.”
  • The Western U.S. might be seeing its last snowy winters. By the end of the century, most years in the region could be nearly snowless.”
  • Air bubbles in Antarctic ice point to cause of oxygen decline. Glacial erosion likely caused atmospheric oxygen levels to dip over past 800,000 years.”
  • Could cannabis prevent COVID? To the authors of a new study, it sure looks like it. But put away the pipe — it appears the compounds that may be most helpful in preventing COVID degrade at high temps.”
  • From the ManBearPig dept: “In a First, Man Receives a Heart From a Genetically Altered Pig. The breakthrough may lead one day to new supplies of animal organs for transplant into human patients.”
  • USC Team Shows How Memories Are Stored in The Brain, With Potential Impact on Conditions Like PTSD. Fish that glow; a tailor-made microscope; a new way to catalog science. After six years, researchers produce the first snapshots of memory in a living animal.”
  • Don’t tell the poets. “Dolphins Have a Fully Functional Clitoris, Study Finds. Anatomically, everything about a dolphin’s clitoris indicates it evolved to help them feel pleasure, a group of researchers say.” Also “What dolphins reveal about the evolution of the clitoris. Patricia Brennan’s latest research suggests that bottlenose dolphins have clitorises that evolved for pleasure. She tells New Scientist why it’s important to study animal genitalia.”
  • What crying baby mice could teach us about human speech“—”When baby mice cry, they do it to a beat that is synchronized to the rise and fall of their own breath. It’s a pattern that researchers say could help explain why human infants can cry at birth — and how they learn to speak.”
  • African script holds clues to writing’s origins. Writing evolves to become simpler and more efficient, according to a new study based on the analysis of an isolated West African writing system.”—”In a study just published in Current Anthropology, a team of researchers at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, showed that writing very quickly becomes ‘compressed’ for efficient reading and writing. To arrive at this insight they turned to a rare African writing system that has fascinated outsiders since the early 19th century. ‘The Vai script of Liberia was created from scratch in about 1834 by eight completely illiterate men who wrote in ink made from crushed berries’, says lead author Dr Piers Kelly, now at the University of New England, Australia. The Vai language had never before been written down. According to Vai teacher Bai Leesor Sherman, the script was always taught informally from a literate teacher to a single apprentice student. It remains so successful that today it is even used to communicate pandemic health messages. ‘Because of its isolation, and the way it has continued to develop up until the present day, we thought it might tell us something important about how writing evolves over short spaces of time’, says Kelly. ‘There’s a famous hypothesis that letters evolve from pictures to abstract signs. But there are also plenty of abstract letter-shapes in early writing. We predicted, instead, that signs will start off as relatively complex and then become simpler across new generations of writers and readers.'” Also “Rare African Script Offers Clues to the Evolution of Writing. Writing evolves to become simpler and more efficient, according to a new study based on the analysis of an isolated West African writing system.”
  • Watch “Huge fossilised ‘sea dragon’ found in UK – BBC News“—”The fossilised remains of a 10m-long sea predator called an ichthyosaur were found at Rutland Water Nature Reserve, England, during landscaping work. It is the largest of its type ever discovered in the UK. Ichthyosaurs lived between 250 million and 90 million years ago and could grow up to 25 metres long. When water levels at the Rutland reservoir were lowered in the late summer of 2021, a team of palaeontologists came in to excavate the remains.” Also “Huge prehistoric ‘sea dragon’ fossil discovered in U.K. reservoir. The ichthyosaur, whose remains measure 32 feet in length, is estimated to have lived 180 million years ago.”
  • Fossil site discovery tells of Australia’s ‘origin story’“—”The arid deserts and shrublands in Australia weren’t always that way, according to a newly discovered and extraordinarily well-preserved fossil site in New South Wales. The fossilized spiders, cicadas, wasps, plants and fish, which date back to between 11 million and 16 million years ago during the Miocene Epoch, are painting a vivid picture of Australia’s once abundant rainforest ecosystems. ‘It is an extremely important fossil site. It has everything that we hope for, exceptionally well-preserved fossils from a time that we don’t know a lot about,’ said Matthew McCurry, a paleontologist at the Australian Museum Research Institute, who was an author of a study of the site that published in the journal Science Advances on Friday.”
  • Headquarters of Ancient Egyptian mining mission found in Sinai. Archaeologists working in the Wadi Al-Nasab region of the Sinai have uncovered the headquarters of a mining operation that dates back to the Middle Kingdom.”
  • Survey reveals 4,500-year-old network of funerary avenues. Researchers from the University of Western Australia (UWA) have identified a complex network of funerary avenues in north-west Arabia.”
  • Fungi that live on eucalyptus roots can control trees’ gene activity. Eucalyptus trees rely on root fungi to source nutrients and water – but the fungi actually control the genetic development of the tree roots by releasing tiny chunks of RNA.”
  • Is Space Pixelated? The search for signatures of quantum gravity forges ahead.”—”Scientists such as Rana Adhikari, professor of physics at Caltech, think the space we live in may not be perfectly smooth but rather made of incredibly small discrete units. ‘A spacetime pixel is so small that if you were to enlarge things so that it becomes the size of a grain of sand, then atoms would be as large as galaxies,’ he says. Adhikari and scientists around the world are on the hunt for this pixelation because it is a prediction of quantum gravity, one of the deepest physics mysteries of our time.”
  • Aw, bummer. “Moon Cube Mystery: Chinese Rover Finds It’s Just a Rock. A blurry image that China’s space program had called the ‘mystery hut’ was a result of camera angle, light and shadow.”
  • Scientists watch enormous star violently explode after ominous goodbye. Deep in space, a red supergiant dramatically blows up.”
  • Premature rejection in science: The case of the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis” Also tweet—”Debunkers debunked. The Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis vindicated. The linked paper exposes the shoddy scholarship of a small group of ‘skeptics’ whose attempts over the past 15 years to suppress the YDIH have done a significant disservice to science.”
  • The Year in Physics. Puzzling particles, quirky (and controversial) quantum computers, and one of the most ambitious science experiments in history marked the year’s milestones.”
  • Physicists detect a hybrid particle held together by uniquely intense ‘glue’. The discovery could offer a route to smaller, faster electronic devices.”
  • Earth’s Oceanography Helps Demystify Jupiter’s Flowing Cyclones. A team of scientists shows where some of the gas giant’s huge storms come from and how the process is similar to the buildup of extreme weather on our planet.”
  • Yes, there is really ‘diamond rain’ on Uranus and Neptune.”
  • New DNA-peptide molecules developed“—”When scientists discovered DNA and learned how to control it, not only science but society was revolutionized. Today, researchers and the medical industry routinely create artificial DNA structures for many purposes, including diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Now an international research team reports the creation of a powerful supermolecule they describe as a marriage between DNA and peptides.” “‘If you combine these two, as we have, you get a very powerful molecular tool, that may lead to the next generation of nanotechnology; it may allow us to make more advanced nanostructures, for example, for detecting diseases,’ says corresponding author Chenguang Lou, associate professor at Department of Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy, University of Southern Denmark.”
  • Scientists Capture Airborne Animal DNA for the First Time. Researchers filtered the air around two zoos and identified genetic material from dozens of species, a technique that could help track and conserve wildlife.”
  • ‘Ghost’ orchid that grows in the dark among new plant finds. Hundreds of new species include pink voodoo lily and a ylang-ylang tree named after Leonardo DiCaprio.”
  • From Hominins to Horse-riders: Vast Span of Humanity in Indian Cave Art. The rock shelters of Bhimbetka in central India go back to the dawn of humanity, but what is the deal with ancient pictures of people astride horses and elephants?”
  • Folks, Please Don’t Mess With Texas Rock Art. Some idiots carved their names on prehistoric petroglyphs in Big Bend—and it’s part of a disturbing spike in vandalism.”—”Some 4,500 to 8,500 years ago, an unknown artist etched swirling symbols onto a shapely boulder in what is now Big Bend National Park. Several millennia later, on December 26, 2021, unknown visitors added a new feature to the rock art: they carved their names and the date of their crime on top of the petroglyph. Adrian, Ariel, Isaac, and Norma—or whatever your names are—if you’re reading this, a lot of folks have a question for you: What the hell?”
  • Luxury Badger leads archaeologists to hoard of Roman coins in Spain“—”A badger has led archaeologists to a hoard of more than 200 Roman coins that had been hidden in a cave in Spain for centuries. The animal had burrowed into a crack in the rock inside the La Cuesta cave in the Asturias region of northwest Spain, and dug out coins that were later discovered by a local man, Roberto García, according to a paper on the find published in December. García called in archaeologists, including dig director Alfonso Fanjul, who believes the badger was searching for food or digging itself a nest. ‘When we arrived we found the hole that led to the badger’s nest, and the ground around it full of coins,’ Fanjul told CNN on Monday, adding that more than 90 coins had been dug up by the badger.”
  • Study Challenges Evolutionary Theory That DNA Mutations Are Random. Findings Could Lead to Advances in Plant Breeding, Human Genetics. DNA mutations are not random as previously thought. Findings change our understanding of evolution. May help researchers breed better crops, fight cancer.”
  • How our ancestors used to sleep can help the sleep-deprived today.”—”Like many people, historian A. Roger Ekirch thought that sleep was a biological constant — that eight hours of rest a night never really varied over time and place. But while researching nocturnal life in preindustrial Europe and America, he discovered the first evidence that many humans used to sleep in segments — a first sleep and second sleep with a break of a few hours in between to have sex, pray, eat, chat and take medicine. ‘Here was a pattern of sleep unknown to the modern world,’ said Ekirch, a university distinguished professor in the department of history at Virginia Tech.” “Not all scholars believe that sleeping in two shifts, while perhaps common in some communities, was once a universal habit. Far from it, said Brigitte Steger, a senior lecturer in Japanese studies at the University of Cambridge in the UK, who didn’t uncover any references to segmented sleep in her work on sleep habits in Japan. ‘There is no such thing as natural sleep. Sleep has always been cultural, social and ideological,” said Steger, who is working on a series of six books about the cultural history of sleep. ‘There is not such a clear-cut difference between premodern (or pre-industrial) and modern sleep habits,’ she said via email. ‘And sleep habits throughout pre-industrial times and throughout the world have always changed. And, of course, there has always been social diversity, and sleep habits have been very different at court than for peasants, for instance.’ Similarly, Gerrit Verhoeven, an assistant professor in cultural heritage and history at the University of Antwerp in Belgium, said his study of criminal court records from 18th century Antwerp suggested that sleep habits weren’t so different to our own today. Seven hours of sleep was the norm and there was no mention of first or second sleep.” “If we wake up at night, sleep is likely to return, if sleep is not sacrificed to social media or other behavior that makes you more alert or activates a stress response, Foster’s research has suggested. Like most sleep experts, he recommended getting out of bed if you’re getting frustrated by the failure to fall back to sleep and engaging in a relaxing activity while keeping the lights low. ‘Individual sleep across humans is so variable. One size doesn’t fit all. You shouldn’t worry about the sort of sleep that you get,’ he said.” New article about old news, but if you hadn’t heard of this idea of biphasic sleep before, it’s interesting. Pretty sure I’d mentioned this before, but I didn’t see where when I looked just now. So, from 2006, check out At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by A Roger Ekirch—”Bringing light to the shadows of history through a ‘rich weave of citation and archival evidence’ (Publishers Weekly), scholar A. Roger Ekirch illuminates the aspects of life most often overlooked by other historians—those that unfold at night. In this ‘triumph of social history’ (Mail on Sunday), Ekirch’s ‘enthralling anthropology’ (Harper’s) exposes the nightlife that spawned a distinct culture and a refuge from daily life. Fear of crime, of fire, and of the supernatural; the importance of moonlight; the increased incidence of sickness and death at night; evening gatherings to spin wool and stories; masqued balls; inns, taverns, and brothels; the strategies of thieves, assassins, and conspirators; the protective uses of incantations, meditations, and prayers; the nature of our predecessors’ sleep and dreams—Ekirch reveals all these and more in his ‘monumental study’ (The Nation) of sociocultural history, ‘maintaining throughout an infectious sense of wonder’ (Booklist).”
  • Elsevier launches Complete Anatomy female model, the most advanced full female anatomy model available in the world“—”Elsevier, a global leader in research publishing and information analytics, is pleased to announce the launch of the most advanced 3D full female model ever available, as part of the latest addition to its 3D platform, Complete Anatomy. This marks the first time that a female model has been built with this level of detail in its entirety, to represent the female — versus replacing specific areas of the male anatomy with female features.”
  • Are we witnessing the dawn of post-theory science? Does the advent of machine learning mean the classic methodology of hypothesise, predict and test has had its day?”
  • Judge says the FTC’s Meta monopoly lawsuit can go forward. Reversing an earlier defeat.”
  • A New Document Reveals More of Google’s Anti-Union Strategy. An administrative law judge orders the company to turn over more documents, including one that describes an effort to convince employees that ‘unions suck.'”
  • One-Fifth of Global Bitcoin Mining Capacity Taken Out by Kazakhstan Protests. Many Bitcoin mining operations moved to Kazakhstan when they were banned from China. A government crackdown on anti-regime protests has now taken most of them offline.”
  • Raspberry Pi system can detect viruses on other devices without use of software“—”A team of researchers at the Institute of Computer Science and Random Systems has built a non-software-based virus detection system using a Raspberry Pi, an H-field probe and an oscilloscope to detect electromagnetic wave signatures of multiple types of viruses.” Also “Raspberry Pi Detects Malware Using Electromagnetic Waves. Researchers take antivirus support to the next level with the Raspberry Pi.”
  • ‘We don’t need to work anymore’: Local artists crack the code of NFTs. But the digital trading mechanism is still rife with scams, hacks and copyright issues.”
  • The Future Is Not Only Useless, It’s Expensive. In the end, we’re all bored apes.”—”NFTs are the human capacity for visual expression as understood by the guy at the vape store.”
  • Thread—”Boy, treating public schools as daycare so parents could be forced to service capitalism certainly seems to have a downside during a pandemic our country’s ruling class won’t effectively respond to, now doesn’t it.” Also tweet—”Short term thinking—coupled with greed—has destroyed so much good in this world. And continues to. But yeah, I’m the ‘unrealistic idealist’ whose insistence on long term strategy and compassion is ‘naive.’ Been hearing that since my teens. We do not have to live this way.”
  • Anti-vaxxism is the latest in America’s esoteric religions. As opposed to the exoteric religion of public health.”
  • Ohio solicitor general makes anti-vax mandate case to Supreme Court remotely after getting Covid. The justices are meeting Friday to hear arguments on two of the Biden administration’s vaccination mandates.”
  • Thread—”HELLO SORRY FOR THIS BUMMER POST but I needed to get it down somewhere. The pandemic is worse than it’s ever been and mitigation efforts are weaker than they’ve ever been and it’s making me feel out of my damn mind.” “I am suffering from very real cognitive dissonance over seeing the pandemic at its absolute worst while simultaneously having so many people just collectively say, ‘But I don’t want to do it anymore. I say no to the pandemic.’ And then accelerating through it as if that’ll work.” Also “The Great Surrender: How We Gave Up And Let COVID Win.”
  • Anti-Vax Leader Urges Followers to Drink Their Own Urine to Fight COVID.”
  • Jan. 6 proved that what happens online doesn’t stay online. The storming of the US Capitol provided a number of lessons in terms of how unprepared institutions are for the reality of today’s information ecosystem.”—”We must face the ugly reality of what will probably happen because of our collective failure to take this warning shot seriously.”
  • Companies Donated Millions to Those Who Voted to Overturn Biden’s Win. One year after the Capitol riot, many businesses resumed corporate donations to lawmakers who voted against certifying the 2020 election.”
  • Revealed: The Billionaires Funding the Coup’s Brain Trust. Conservative mega-donors including the DeVoses and Bradleys are pumping big money into the Claremont Institute think tank that fueled Trump’s election-fraud fantasies.”
  • American Oversight Obtains Seven Phony Certificates of Pro-Trump Electors.”
  • The Riot and the Republic. One year after a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol, experts, historians and politicians warn of a democracy still at risk.”
  • Jimmy Carter: I Fear for Our Democracy.”
  • ‘Cancelled’ Madonna and Child found beneath Botticelli’s $40m Man of Sorrows. Infrared images of the painting, which is due to be sold at Sotheby’s in New York later this month, show that an earlier composition lies underneath.”
  • Strong language – John Horgan on an Irish language controversy. An Irishman’s Diary.”—”In private, his approach to the issue of the revival of Irish was as equally heedless of precedent, but based on a profound acquaintance with the Irish predilection for activities prohibited by law. He suggested once, in my hearing, that the cause of the revival would be greatly enhanced if the law was changed to ensure that anybody heard speaking would be brought to court and fined.”
  • Newcastle museum to return Benin bronze stave. Move by Great North Museum: Hancock is latest in number of repatriations that put pressure on British Museum to follow suit.”
  • ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia Exploring Sale of The CW. In a memo to staff Thursday, CW chief Mark Pedowitz confirmed that the network is on the block, adding that it is ‘too early to speculate what might happen.'”
  • China’s gaming crackdown puts 14,000 companies out of business. 14,000 gaming-related firms have deregistered since August.”
  • The Trouble With Kickstarter“—”That all said, the end state of Kickstarter’s blockchain plans don’t particularly matter. Whether or not the new platform comes to fruition, whether or not it uses less energy-intensive proof-of-stake software, whether or not people leave the platform, these are in the long run irrelevant. What the announcement should have revealed to anyone who felt strongly enough to leave the platform over it is that the TTRPG hobby has let Kickstarter become infrastructure. Leaving Kickstarter sounds great in a tweet, but ultimately doing so is going to be tough for many of the creators who, without the company, would have never gotten off the ground.” “Being an ethical consumer, in RPGs or in anything else, requires more work. It also means making your peace with the fact that it’s work many others are not going to do.”
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home, Piracy, and the End of the Box Office. Money-wise, the movie trounced The Matrix: Resurrections, but that’s a poor indicator of either film’s success.”
  • Tweet—”During Prohibition Era, wine industry released grape bricks which was concentrated grape juice with a warning that literally had directions to make wine. It read ‘after dissolving a brick in a gallon of water, do NOT place in a cupboard for 20 days because it will turn to wine’.”
  • Childless vow-of-chastity dude in silk robes, living with other men, leader of an organization known for opting for children in an impropriety way, says what now? “Opting for pets over children is selfish and ‘takes away our humanity,’ says Pope Francis.”
  • From the LLAP ש‎ 🖖 dept: “To Boldly Explore the Jewish Roots of ‘Star Trek’. An exhibition at a Jewish cultural center has plenty of artifacts to delight Trekkies — but it also notes the Jewish origins of the Vulcan salute.”

Omnium Gatherum: 5jan2022

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for January 5, 2022

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

  • Save these dates! Astronomical events for astrophotographers in 2022. From eclipses to supermoons, there are lots of out-of-this-world opportunities for astrophotographers in 2022.”
  • Public Domain Day! “Winnie-the-Pooh, an Ernest Hemingway Classic and a Massive Library of Sound Recordings Will Enter the Public Domain on January 1.” Also thread: “Hello! Good morning! Happy New Year, for those who are celebrating! It’s #publicdomainday, and the following is a list of the best characters from the pulps who were created in 1926 and thus fall into the public domain starting today. 1/78.” Also “Public Domain 2022: Join us 20 January for a Celebration of Sound.” Also “Happy Public Domain Day 2022!
  • Echo [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, due February, 2022—”From international bestselling sensation Thomas Olde Heuvelt comes Echo, a thrilling descent into madness and obsession as one man confronts nature―and something even more ancient and evil answers back.” “Nature is calling―but they shouldn’t have answered. Travel journalist and mountaineer Nick Grevers awakes from a coma to find that his climbing buddy, Augustin, is missing and presumed dead. Nick’s own injuries are as extensive as they are horrifying. His face wrapped in bandages and unable to speak, Nick claims amnesia―but he remembers everything. He remembers how he and Augustin were mysteriously drawn to the Maudit, a remote and scarcely documented peak in the Swiss Alps. He remembers how the slopes of Maudit were eerily quiet, and how, when they entered its valley, they got the ominous sense that they were not alone. He remembers: something was waiting for them… But it isn’t just the memory of the accident that haunts Nick. Something has awakened inside of him, something that endangers the lives of everyone around him… It’s one thing to lose your life. It’s another to lose your soul.”
  • Beyond Sherlock Holmes: five Victorian detective stories you must read.”
  • Graphic Novel Production Schedules Are Too Short—and the Publishing Industry Should Care About It“—”The problem is the schedules. They’re too fast, too short, and place too much wear and tear on an artist’s body and mind.”
  • Perfectly preserved baby dinosaur discovered curled up inside its egg“—”An unprecedented fossil of a baby dinosaur curled up perfectly inside its egg is shedding more light on the links between dinosaurs and birds. The 70-million-year-old fossil preserves the embryonic skeleton of an oviraptorid dinosaur, which has been nicknamed Baby Yingliang after the name of the Chinese museum which houses the fossil. Baby dinosaur bones are small and fragile and are only very rarely preserved as fossils, making this a very lucky find, said Darla Zelenitsky, an associate professor in the department of geoscience at the University of Calgary in Canada. ‘It is an amazing specimen … I have been working on dinosaur eggs for 25 years and have yet to see anything like it,’ said Zelenitsky, a coauthor of the research that published in the journal iScience on Tuesday. ‘Up until now, little has been known of what was going on inside a dinosaur’s egg prior to hatching, as there are so few embryonic skeletons, particularly those that are complete and preserved in a life pose,’ she said in an email. The egg is around 17 centimeters (7 inches) long and the dinosaur was estimated to be 27 centimeters (11 inches) long from head to tail. The researchers believe as an adult, had it lived, it would have been about two to three meters long.”
  • Giant marine reptile skull discovery reveals new evolutionary theories“—”The discovery of a giant marine reptile skull in the United States has revealed new theories about the speed of evolution and how quickly the process can produce diversity. The giant ichthyosaur fossil — with a skull measuring almost two meters (6.6 feet) in length, an estimated body length of more than 17 meters (55.7 feet) and a weight of 45 tonnes – was found in Nevada. Ichthyosaurs are large extinct marine reptiles that dominated the sea more than 200 million years ago. Analysis of the skull of this particular ichthyosaur fossil has revealed a new species: Cymbospondylus youngorum.” Also “This Sea Lizard Had a Grand Piano-Size Head and a Big Appetite. Scientists have described a giant new species of ichthyosaur that evolved its 55-foot-long body size only a few million years after the lizards returned to the seas.”
  • Woolly mammoths survived on mainland North America until 5,000 years ago, DNA reveals. Environmental reconstructions reveal that mammoths persisted long after they disappeared from the fossil record.” Also “‘Extraordinary’ Mammoth Graveyard Discovered in England. Stone tools belonging to Neanderthals were also found at the 210,000-year-old site.”
  • Neanderthals may have cleared a European forest with fire or tools. When Neanderthals lived at a site called Neumark-Nord in Germany, the region had far fewer trees than surrounding areas, suggesting they may have cleared the forest on purpose.”
  • Here’s what we know sex with Neanderthals was like. Scientists know a surprising amount about the titillating episode in human history when our species got together, including whether we kissed and the nature of their sexual organs.” So, wait, hold on. The full meaning of this just occurred to me. All those recreated Neanderthals filling every natural history museum are … sex dolls?! Um. BRB. Going to go edjumacate ma self some.
  • Watch “Prof. dr. Henk Barendrecht on Consciousness: flexibility, risk factor, wisdom“—”In the second presentation of the ‘Science of Consciousness’ conference 2021, Prof. dr. Henk Barendregt brings the rigor of mathematical logic to our understanding of consciousness and its various states and manifestations. For good measure, he also discusses Vipassana meditation within this formal context. ”
  • Israeli archaeologists find treasure trove among Mediterranean shipwrecks. Hundreds of Roman and medieval coins and artefacts uncovered near ancient city of Caesarea.”
  • From the NOPE! dept: “Newly Discovered Millipede Is First With More Than 1,000 Legs. Despite their name, none of the leggy arthropods had made it to 1,000 legs before now. This one has 1,306.”
  • Watch “Giving bug-like, flying robots a boost“—”A new fabrication technique, developed by a team of electrical engineers and computer scientists, produces low-voltage, power-dense artificial muscles that improve the performance of flying microrobots.”
  • Perseverance rover makes ‘completely unexpected’ volcanic discovery on Mars“—”Lava once flowed at the site of an ancient lake on Mars. The Perseverance rover landed on the planet just 10 months ago, but it has already made that surprising discovery.”
  • How NASA’s most powerful telescope ever will reveal unseen corners of the universe. The Christmas launch for the long-delayed James Webb Space Telescope goes off without a hitch. Here’s everything you need to know about the mission.” Also “Why the World’s Astronomers Are Very, Very Anxious Right Now. The James Webb Space Telescope is endowed with the hopes and trepidations of a generation of astronomers.”
  • Juno flyby reveals stunning new images of Jupiter, sounds of its moon Ganymede“—”The largest planet in our solar system appears to look more and more like a work of art. It’s full of surprises — and so are its moons. The NASA Juno mission, which began orbiting Jupiter in July 2016, just recently made its 38th close flyby of the gas giant. The mission was extended earlier this year, adding on a flyby of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede in June. The data and images from these flybys is rewriting everything we know about Jupiter, said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, during a briefing at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in New Orleans on Friday. There, Bolton revealed 50 seconds of sound created when Juno flew by Ganymede over the summer. The clip of the moon’s audio was created by electric and magnetic radio waves produced by the planet’s magnetic field and picked up by the spacecraft’s Waves instrument, designed to detect these waves. The sounds are like a trippy space age soundtrack.” Listen “Audio of Juno’s Ganymede Flyby“—”This 50-second animation provides an auditory as well as visual glimpse at data collected by Juno’s Waves instrument as the spacecraft flew past the Jovian moon Ganymede on June 7, 2021. The abrupt change to higher frequencies around the midpoint of the recording represents the spacecraft’s move from one region of Ganymede’s magnetosphere to another. The audio track is made by shifting the frequency of those emissions — which range from 10 to 50 kHz — into the lower audio range.”
  • More on this: “Comet Leonard has been dazzling the night sky in a pre-Christmas show“—”Comet Leonard, which last passed by Earth 80,000 years ago, has been dazzling the night sky before Christmas, and there’s only a few days left to see the celestial object before it disappears forever.” “It travels closest to the sun on January 3, taking it within 56 million miles (90 million kilometers) of our star, slightly more than half Earth’s distance. If it doesn’t disintegrate, its trajectory will fling it into interstellar space, never to return, said NASA.” Also “Comet Leonard, the brightest of the year, is fading and acting strange. Comet Leonard is not brightening like scientists thought it would.” Also there’s, apparently, a Twitter account for this? C/2021 A1 (Comet Leonard). At least as of Jan 4, it was still chuggin’ along!
  • This asteroid sample could reveal our solar system’s origin story“—”Just over a year after Japan’s Hayabusa2 mission returned the first subsurface sample of an asteroid to Earth, scientists have determined that the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu is a pristine remnant from the formation of our solar system. This was the first material to be returned to Earth from a carbon-rich asteroid. These asteroids can reveal how our cosmic corner of the universe was formed. The organic and hydrated minerals locked within these asteroids could also shed light on the origin of the building blocks of life.”
  • Revenge! “Should Pluto be a planet again? The debate rages on. A group of researchers say Pluto was unfairly maligned by a decision to relegate it to ‘dwarf planet’ status — and that we should consider our solar system to have more than 150 planets.”
  • Astronomers discover largest group of ‘rogue planets’ yet. ‘Several billion of these free-floating giants’ could exist.”
  • Massive planet 10 times bigger than Jupiter discovered orbiting pair of giant stars. ‘Until now, no planets had been spotted around a star more than three times as massive as the Sun,’ wrote the European Southern Observatory.” Also “Massive planet found orbiting 2 of the hottest, most massive stars.”
  • Giant black hole inside a tiny satellite galaxy of our Milky Way defies explanation. ‘There is no explanation for this kind of black hole in dwarf spheroidal galaxies.'”
  • From the TAANSTAAFL dept: “In 2022 a Moonrush will begin in earnest. Countries are racing to explore Earth’s closest neighbour.”
  • New FDA-approved eye drops could replace reading glasses for millions: ‘It’s definitely a life changer’.”
  • Taking Viagra cuts the risk of Alzheimer’s by up to 69% and it could be prescribed to beat dementia, study suggests“—”Scientists claim the love drug may help boost brain health and cut levels of toxic proteins that trigger dementia.”
  • Study can’t confirm lab results for many cancer experiments“—”Eight years ago, a team of researchers launched a project to carefully repeat early but influential lab experiments in cancer research. They recreated 50 experiments, the type of preliminary research with mice and test tubes that sets the stage for new cancer drugs. The results reported Tuesday: About half the scientific claims didn’t hold up. ‘The truth is we fool ourselves. Most of what we claim is novel or significant is no such thing,’ said Dr. Vinay Prasad, a cancer doctor and researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the project. It’s a pillar of science that the strongest findings come from experiments that can be repeated with similar results. In reality, there’s little incentive for researchers to share methods and data so others can verify the work, said Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers lose prestige if their results don’t hold up to scrutiny, she said.”
  • Not just for generational terraforming of Ireland from rock into green anymore! “One farmer’s seaweed discovery could help slow methane emissions — and change the world“—”Dorgan knew instinctively that seaweed would be healthy for cows, but research revealed an unintended consequence: seaweed made cows less gassy.”
  • Uber Wants Drivers To Foot The Bill For Its Greenwashing. Uber worked with UK EV startup Arrival to create a new electric car specifically for ride-hailing firms. Convenient?”—”Uber has an awful record of exploiting workers. In the US, the ride-hailing firm and its rival Lyft have both backed bills to limits workers rights, and Uber only started offering its UK drivers pensions after a court ordered it. Despite successful efforts to avoid recognizing the people who do the labor that creates its revenue as ’employees,’ it’s still lost $25 billion dollars since 2016, and it’s not exactly clear how they plan to make money. But now, Uber is working with a UK electric vehicle startup to develop a battery-powered taxi that its drivers may one day have to buy.”
  • Read the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 developer’s deleted explanation for why you’re getting NFTs. GSC Game World was widely criticized for its NFT news on Wednesday.”
  • The NFT Ghouls Are Going Full Mask Off With Stan Lee and Bob Ross Collections. NFT profiteers want to cash in on Stan Lee and Bob Ross’ legacies with digital items nobody needs.”—”Earlier this year after the internet summarily denounced one NFT minter’s Oscar-season attempt at capitalizing on Chadwick Boseman’s death, it seemed for a brief moment that perhaps people might think better of engaging such transparently opportunistic and morally bankrupt routes. Unfortunately, that’s turned out to be anything but the case, and now that big brands are going all in on these untouchable tokens, it seems as if things are only getting worse. Because Stan Lee, Bob Ross, and Dr. Seuss are all dead, none of them can share their opinions about having their likenesses and legacies co-opted by the three different companies that have recently announced NFT collections tied to the creators’ works. This week, NFT production houses (because that’s a thing now, apparently) Orange Comet and Dapper Labs, as well as Funko shared their plans to offer up different NFT collections they hope people will want to give up their hard-earned cash for.”
  • Tweet—”This is fucking wild. Norton “Antivirus” now sneakily installs cryptomining software on your computer, and then SKIMS A COMMISSION.” Also “FAQ: Norton Crypto.” Apparently, other than opting out, Norton controls most of the settings too.
  • China harvests masses of data on Western targets, documents show. Hundreds of projects launched since 2020 show that Chinese police, state media and the military are gathering data from sites including Twitter and Facebook to track perceived threats.”
  • “Strong encryption with a 10-sided die 🎲 Dec 30 – Jan 2” [PDF]
  • Thieves can use AirTags to track and steal your car from your driveway“—”Earlier this year, Apple launched the AirTag tracker, and the device became quite popular with users. Like Tile trackers, AirTags can help you locate any objects that you tag them with. Unlike Tile, Apple uses the hundreds of millions of iPhones in the wild to locate any lost or stolen devices. The AirTags ping nearby iPhones anonymously, and the phones then send location data to the AirTag owner. Nobody else gets that location information. Not even Apple. These privacy and security features are so good that criminals are now finding ways to use the AirTag technology to commit crimes. Specifically, thieves use Apple’s AirTag to tag a car in a public parking lot and track it to the owner’s home. They then steal the vehicle from the driveway rather than risking a heist from a more public location.”
  • Apple is at it again! “Tumblr blocks tags for ‘sensitive content’ in order to stay on the App Store. iOS users won’t be able to search for a lot of terms on the website’s app.”
  • Walmart illegally dumps 1m toxic items in landfills yearly, lawsuit claims. California attorney general accuses retail giant of failing to properly dispose of items including batteries, cleaning supplies and electronic waste.”
  • Because when Valve acquired Left 4 Dead, that worked out so well, smdh: “Tencent is acquiring Back 4 Blood developer Turtle Rock Studios. Tencent is behind some of the biggest games on the planet.”
  • Snotty-nosed hippos test positive for coronavirus in Belgium, the first known cases in species. It is unclear how Imani, 14, and Hermien, 41, contracted the virus.”
  • The Coronavirus Attacks Fat Tissue, Scientists Find. The research may help explain why people who are overweight and obese have been at higher risk of severe illness and death from Covid.”
  • Massive New Bird Flu Outbreak Could Be 2022’s Deadly Pandemic. DOES NOT AUGUR WELL. In the Galilee, migrating cranes infected with H5N1 are dying by the thousand, raising fears of a global pandemic.”
  • No more annual flu shot? Scripps Research and collaborators find new target for universal influenza vaccine. A new antibody discovered in the blood of some people vaccinated against or infected with influenza can recognize a broad variety of flu viruses.”
  • Experimental mRNA HIV vaccine safe, shows promise in animals. NIH scientists developed vaccine platform.”
  • Thread—”‘The CDC now says that…’ jk, I’m here to give you historical examples of federal science agencies leaving science and public health behind. This is NOT to discredit any institution, but just to nail down the point that science is, was, and will always be, political (1/10).”
  • How to Prepare for a Solar Flare Hitting Earth (Because It’s Probably Going to Happen). Other than destroying the sun, there’s nothing we can do to prevent solar flares—but we can prepare for them.”
  • Reality Winner and the debate over the Espionage Act“—”Former election officials at the federal and state level told 60 Minutes that, while they do not condone Winner’s violating her security clearance, her leak helped contribute to more secure elections in 2018 and 2020. When Pelley asked Winner her motivation for leaking the NSA document, she told him she never meant to cause harm. ‘My only intent,’ she said, ‘was that maybe one person could restore the foundation of truth and integrity in a really tumultuous year.'”
  • Since Jan. 6, the pro-Trump Internet has descended into infighting over money and followers. Pro-Trump and QAnon influencers have squabbled bitterly over online audiences in the year since Trump left office. They’re ‘desperate for money’ and there’s only so many ‘people you can fleece,’ says one researcher.”
  • Gabriel Boric vows to ‘fight privileges of the few’ as Chile’s president. Leftwing former student leader pledges to unite country and tackle poverty and inequality.”
  • The Show Goes On, Even After China Tried to Shut It Down. An Italian city rejected a request from the Chinese Embassy in Rome to cancel an exhibition by Badiucao, an artist who has been described as the Chinese Banksy.”
  • LBPD Sergeant Arrested for DUI.” Tweet—”A $318,532-a-year Long Beach police sgt. was arrested for a DUI charge after attending a party at a park run by the police union under a contract with the city that stipulates it be accessible to the public for a fee except the union closed it. Story by an ex-LAPD deputy chief.”
  • Thread—”Let me tell you about a good scam. There are 10.9 million job openings right now. If you ask the left, that’s millions of people unwilling to die for capitalism. If you ask the right and center, no one wants to work anymore.” “It’s the faking of due diligence throughout the economy. See, we had this thing called PPP loans. It was welfare for all who want it. And one of the conditions was performing some type of productive effort for that loan. In other words, creating jobs.” “That’s right, I am saying millions of these job openings are fake. On the order of 8 million probably. Every business in every sector has an accountant, this is just good book cooking. It’s fucking free money if you just fake this. So this explains the anomaly.”
  • Canada bans conversion therapy, a practice Trudeau calls ‘despicable and degrading’.”
  • What is aquamation? The process behind Desmond Tutu’s ‘green cremation’. The anti-apartheid hero requested an eco-friendly cremation, which uses water instead of flames to process the remains.”
  • Why we can’t have a ‘meritocracy’: We have no idea how to measure worth. Under current conditions of capitalism, our only measure of worth is wealth — which leads to worsening inequality.”
  • The Bundle in 2021“—”In spring I once again experimented with advertising, but Twitter proved unexciting and Facebook useless. I’ve come to believe typical commercial advertising is not just unproductive for me but actively harmful to society.”
  • “Hello and Welcome to THE REALIST ARCHIVE PROJECT. A complete and unexpurgated republishing of all 146 issues (including supplements and related ephemera) of The Realist”.
  • Tabletop jousting! Watch “The MOST UNDERRATED Games Workshop Game? FULL TILT Warhammer Jousting | Classic Bretonnians“—”In this video we are Playing FULL TILT, the Warhammer Jousting Game! Published back in White Dwarf 215, this classic ruleset is a ton of fun. I go head to head with my wife in a three day tournament culminating in an epic showdown with the BLACK KNIGHT!”
  • It’s like the old Amiga demo scene, but contained in a tweet and run in Pico-8: watch “Pico-8 Tweetcarts – Making Games In 256 Characters Of Code?“—”Pico-8 Tweetcarts are Pico-8 carts made from less than 256 characters of code! They are games or art designed to fit in a single cart. In this video I go over my experience making a few tweetcarts and learning the basics of how they are made! This is a tweetcart tutorial about how to make a game in 1 line of code and how to make a game in 256 characters in Pico 8 and Pico8! This is a Brackeys 2021.1 game jam indie devlog save and load system made with Pico-8 and not unity 3D tutorial, It is an indie game devlog with indie games like hollow knight silksong and celeste classic walkthrough. how much money did my indie game make!? it is a game made by 1 person – a solo devlog! This indie game pico-8 unity devlog is a unity 3D tutorial devlog.”
  • Watch “Shroom and Gloom – A deck-building, dungeon-crawling, first person tale of mushrooms and madness!“—”Play for free on itch.io https://teamlazerbeam.itch.io/shroom-… Descend into the unknown in Shroom and Gloom a first person, dungeon-crawling, deck-building tale of mushrooms and madness. Enter The Underealm armed with nothing but a rust blade, a dying phone and a healthy appetite for roasted mushrooms. Explore your way through the depths, digging up new weapons in your quest to reach The Void King at all costs! Combine, grow and enchant your discoveries as you battle your way through terrifying Terry’s, enchanting Bardshrooms and otherworldly Pizza Blobs!”
  • He Used Plastic Surgery to Raise Rock Stars From the Dead. Decades before hologram tours, one rogue ’70s promoter found another way to put Elvis, Janis, Jim Morrison, and other late icons back onstage.”
  • In Good Spirits. Carissa Schumacher channels the dead for her A-list celebrity clients.
    But most days, she’s in the forest.”

  • Watch “Metamorphosis— Animation short film (KazNUA 2021)“—”Animation short film ‘Metamorphosis’. Graduation film by Aitolkyn Almenova. This is a story about an autistic child and a young mom against the society.”
  • Watch “a 90s Christmas family movie but it’s 1890s“—”this video cost me my sanity so I hope you like it.”
  • Watch “Official Trailer | Death on the Nile | 20th Century Studios”—”Every passenger has a motive. Watch the new trailer for Death on the Nile, in theaters February 11. Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot’s Egyptian vacation aboard a glamorous river steamer turns into a terrifying search for a murderer when a picture-perfect couple’s idyllic honeymoon is tragically cut short. Set against an epic landscape of sweeping desert vistas and the majestic Giza pyramids, this dramatic tale of love gone wrong features a cosmopolitan group of impeccably dressed travelers and enough wicked twists and turns to leave audiences guessing until the final, shocking denouement.”
  • Watch “The Tragedy of Macbeth — “O, full of scorpions is my mind” Teaser | Apple TV+”—”O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife. From Academy Award winner Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth stars Denzel Washington and Frances MacDormand. Coming to theaters December 25. Streaming on Apple TV+ January 14.”
  • Watch “Official Rasputin Dance Video | The King’s Man | 20th Century Studios”—”Meet Rasputin, Russia’s greatest love machine. See #TheKingsMan only in theaters December 22.”
  • Watch “Living in a Metaverse“—”Facebook Metaverse is on its way and it will change our digital social lives in a revolutionary way. After Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta introduction, I couldn’t stop but to think how it will make us even more disconnected from reality. A real Doomer scenario. In this video, Wojak lives in a crypto metaverse where he meets a tradgirl (a girl right?). She confronts him of his lonely life to which he responds by switching her for a less annoying NPC.”
  • ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Is the Antidote to the Superhero Genre’s Copaganda Problem. Few movies have been as intentional as this one in espousing some model of restorative justice.”—”The conclusion to Holland’s Homecoming trilogy presents a new type of hero movie altogether, in which villains aren’t inherently villains, and superheroes like Holland and the Spider-Men who later back him up aren’t simply law-abiding, law-enforcing demigods. It’s not exactly new for superhero movies to portray sympathetic villains or off-beat heroes, but few movies seem as intentional as No Way Home in presenting some model of restorative justice and compassion as the superior alternatives to the harsh law-and-disorder regimens of nearly every other hero movie.” “When all of its pieces come together, No Way Home is an emotive, modern story of what it really means to be a hero. Heroes aren’t cops, or gods rendering judgment; they’re ordinary people who will push themselves to the brink if it means helping even one person. Anyone can be a hero, even a plucky nerd from Queens, if they’re willing to make a sacrifice and to recognize the universal dignity of human beings. No Way Home is deeper, more beautiful, even, than the love letter to fans it’s being lauded as—it’s a love letter to everyone who wants to see this world outgrow its punitive limitations, and honor every person’s worthiness of a second chance.” Counterpoint: “Spider-Man: No Way Home Is Aggressively Mediocre. A spoiler-filled review of what works, what doesn’t, and what works until it doesn’t in Tom Holland’s latest outing as Peter Parker.”—”It does take a unique brand of corporate cynicism to drain any and all grandeur from the sight of Spidey swinging through the canyons of Manhattan; trapping the most cinematic of all superheroes in nondescript swirls of CGI sludge feels like its own act of villainy.”
  • Watch “Villeneuve is Making a Rendezvous With Rama Movie after Dune!“—”Villeneuve will be adapted one of Arthur C Clarke’s Classics, Let’s Talk. Plus bonus video about that book I wrote.”
  • Where Does James Bond Go From Here?“—”It’s a cathartic rebuke to the nauseating, never-ending interconnectedness and self-referentiality of just about everything else.” “He isn’t real, he can’t be real, and he shouldn’t be real — which means he really can be anything we want.”
  • BE SEEING YOU?! They pulled a Prisoner! WTAF?! Watch “John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023 Movie) Announcement“—”Be seeing you. 3.24.23.” Welp. They did it. So, now, if they don’t pay off on that Prisoner reference big time, I will be so very disappointed.
  • Watch “UK pardons historical convictions for abolished consensual same-sex crimes – BBC News”—”More people will be eligible for a pardon for historical criminal convictions relating to homosexual activity, the UK government has said. It means anyone convicted or cautioned for consensual homosexual activity, under now-abolished laws, can apply to have them ‘disregarded’. The convictions would be wiped from record and an automatic pardon given. Home Secretary Priti Patel said she hoped the revised scheme ‘would go some way to righting the wrongs of the past’.”
  • Watch “Does The Myers-Briggs Test Work? | QI”
  • Watch “Fist fight in Jordan’s parliament caught on live stream – BBC News”—”A meeting of MPs in Jordan, discussing constitutional reforms, descended into a fistfight which was live-streamed to local television. The argument began as the chamber debated adding the Arabic female noun for a Jordanian citizen into the constitution’s section on equal rights, an amendment branded by some MPs as ‘useless’.”
  • Watch “Wild crow visits woman daily to play games“—”Wild crow visits woman daily to play games.”
  • Watch “Ancient DNA reveals the truth about Vikings – BBC REEL“—”Vikings are often thought of as ‘pure-bred’, blonde-haired, and blue-eyed warriors who changed the course of European history. Now a team of international scientists has debunked this modern-day myth of the Vikings by examining their genetic ancestry. The largest-ever DNA sequencing of Viking remains reveals their surprising ethnic diversity.”
  • Watch “Lördagsgodis: Sweden’s delicious Saturday tradition that prevents decay – BBC Reel“—”In Sweden, a family of four eats one kilo of sweets a week on average, yet children have better dental health than most Europeans. This has been attributed to a tradition called ‘lördagsgodis’ which literally means ‘Saturday sweets’.”
  • Watch “What did Popular Music in Ancient Rome sound like?
  • Watch “don’t you want to become a cult leader?

Omnium Gatherum: 29dec2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for December 29, 2021

This is the last Omnium Gatherum of 2021! I hope your holidays, whichever soever you observe or celebrate are grand and great, and, moreover, I wish you and yours all well and weal in the new year!

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

  • Boy whose case inspired The Exorcist is named by US magazine. The boy, previously known as Roland Doe, underwent exorcisms in Cottage City, Maryland, and St Louis, Missouri, in 1949.”—”In adult life, Hunkeler was a Nasa engineer whose work contributed to the Apollo space missions of the 1960s and who patented a technology that helped space shuttle panels withstand extreme heat.”
  • She’s Fleeing a Byronic Hero [Amazon] by Lady Alana Smithee (Lilith Saintcrow)—”Titness McHawttie has fled her marriage to the disturbingly virile Byron Blackheart, Lord Chestthumper. Can she survive a night upon the moors with her faithful almost-unicorn–and will Byron find his vanished bride in time?”
  • Mother Death [Amazon] by Karen Traviss, book 2 of the planned Nomad trilogy, previously part of a shared world but now separate—”Solomon has passed judgement. The AI has chosen his ideal humans for Project Nomad, mankind’s first extrasolar colony on Opis, forty light years from an Earth ravaged by more than a century of disease, famine, and war. Now his band of soldiers, farmers, and scientists have one final chance to launch the Ainatio corporation’s ageing interstellar ship, Shackleton, and join the crew of Cabot at Nomad Base. They have a deal. The Alliance of Asian-Pacific States, Earth’s last surviving superpower, will let the launch go ahead in exchange for the instant communications research that made Nomad possible. But an unknown informer betrays a deadly secret: Solomon is the sole survivor of a banned class of AIs that were shut down after causing millions of human deaths. APS can’t allow him to escape. They have to stop the launch and destroy him as well. But Solomon is ready to go to war to complete his mission. While the situation on Earth spirals out of control, Captain Bridget Ingram is doing a deal of her own with newly-discovered neighbours on Opis. The alien crew of a warship have offered to share a technology that’ll change the future of humanity. But they want something in exchange: protection. The aliens haven’t told Ingram the whole story, though. She’s going to find out very soon who they need to be protected from, and why. It’s too late to stay neutral and too late to abort the mission. If she doesn’t take the biggest gamble of her life — one that could destroy the fledgling colony before it’s even begun — the rest of the colonists will never make it to Opis. Nomad has to succeed. Humanity’s future will depend on it. Book 2 of the Nomad series, the sequel to The Best Of Us.”
  • All The Haunts Be Ours: A Compendium Of Folk Horror [Amazon, Publisher]—”12 BLU-RAYS, 3 CDs, 20 FEATURE FILMS, PLUS 15+ HOURS OF SPECIAL FEATURES & MORE! The most comprehensive collection of its kind. Experience 19 of the best-known, least-known, rarely-seen and thought-lost classics of folk horror from around the world, all restored from the best available vault elements. Special Features include short films, audio commentaries and exclusive featurettes. The ultimate genre exploration continues with the original WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED soundtrack by Jim Williams, a 2-disc reading of the classic short story ‘The White People’ by actress Linda Hayden with a new score by composer Timothy Fife, as well as a 156-page book curated by Kier-La Janisse, featuring new writings by renowned film scholars, authors and historians alongside a selection of archival writings, poems and folk tales.” Also via the publisher—”Due to the painstaking work that went into putting this massive set together, we have updated our policies to cater specifically to the roll out of our brand new Folk Horror-themed box set, All the Haunts Be Ours, and the accompanying bundle, The Witches’ Bundle. Both the box set and the bundle will have their own uniquely themed, custom shipping boxes (as well as tube for the Woodlands poster in the bundle) and will begin shipping shortly after our upcoming Black Friday Sale (the official street date is December 7th).” Also tweet—”The set I ordered from @SeverinFilms arrived this morning and it’s a work of art. They’ve really put together a beautiful collection. I look forward to digging deep. #allthehauntsbeours”.
  • Providence Blue: A Fantasy Quest [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] David Pinault—”At his typewriter in little Cross Plains, Texas, Robert E. Howard created big characters—Bran Mak Morn, Solomon Kane, Conan the Barbarian—who shaped the art of fantasy fiction for generations. But Howard would never know it. On June 11, 1936, at the age of thirty, he shot himself outside his country home. Why would he do it, and where could death have taken him? Providence Blue imagines the strange underworld journey of Howard after his suicide, through Texas flatlands, ancient Egyptian ruins, and New England city gutters. Meanwhile, as his girlfriend Novalyne Price investigates what caused the tragedy, she is led to Providence, Rhode Island, home of the horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, where she makes a terrifying, life-changing discovery. In Providence decades later, aging grad student Joseph Bonaventure struggles to finish his dissertation on Lovecraft. When he and a young librarian, Fay O’Connell, chance upon some of the author’s lost papers, this breakthrough locks both of them in a web of black magic, occult conspiracy, and dark cosmic forces—and ties them intimately to the fate of Robert E. Howard. Alongside a cast of Providence characters, including a local priest and a stray Chihuahua, Joseph and Fay join a supernatural quest for good against evil, heaven against hell, the Lamb of God against the horrors of oblivion. Written in a lean, direct style, with a native’s sense of Rhode Island’s geography and culture, David Pinault’s Providence Blue pushes the fantasy novel into new terrain, bringing the Cthulhu Mythos of H. P. Lovecraft into contact with the startling reality of Christian doctrine.” Wait. Whut?
  • GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S ‘NIGHTMARE ALLEY’ WAS DECADES IN THE MAKING, THANKS TO RON PERLMAN & TAROT. A new book on Guillermo del Toro’s work points out how the acclaimed director found his way to the carnival.” In part about Guillermo del Toro: The Iconic Filmmaker and his Work [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Ian Nathan, part of the Iconic Filmmakers Series—”Guillermo del Toro is a complete and intimate study of the life and work of one of modern cinema’s most truly unique directors, whose distinct aesthetic and imagination are unmatched in contemporary film. Widely regarded as one of the most imaginative directors working in cinema today, Guillermo del Toro has built up a body of work that has enthralled movie fans with its dark beauty and edge-of-the-seat set pieces. In this book, acclaimed author Ian Nathan charts the progression of a career that has produced some of contemporary cinema’s most revered scenes and idiosyncratic characters. This detailed examination looks at how the strands of del Toro’s career have woven together to create one of modern cinema’s most ground-breaking bodies of work. Delving deep into del Toro’s psyche, the book starts by examining his beginnings in Mexico, the creative but isolated child surrounded by ornate catholicism and monster magazines, filming stop motion battles between his toys on a Super-8 film camera. It follows him to film school, where we learn of his influences, from Kafka to Bunuel, and explores his 1993 debut Cronos, the independent horror debut which draws on the religious and occult themes which would recur throughout del Toro’s work. It goes on to cover his development as a director with 1997’s Mimic, his blockbuster success with the Hellboy films and goes on to study the films which have cemented his status as a legendary auteur, Oscar award winners Pan’s Labrynth and The Shape of Water, as well as his sci-fi masterpiece Pacific Rim, as well as looking at his exciting upcoming projects Nightmare Alley and Pinocchio. An enlightening look into the mind of an auteur blessed with a singular creative vision, Guillermo del Toro analyses the processes, themes and narratives that have come to be recognised as distinctly del Toro, from practical effects to an obsession with folklore and paganism. It looks into the narrative techniques, stylistic flourishes and creative decisions which have made him a true master of modern cinema. Presented in a slipcase with 8-page gatefold section, with scores of illuminating photographs of the director at work on set as well as iconic stills from his films and examples of his influences, this stunning package will delight all Guillermo del Toro devotees and movie lovers in general. Unauthorised and Unofficial.”
  • The Psychoanalysis of Artificial Intelligence [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Isabel Millar, part of The Palgrave Lacan Series—”This book examines the crucial role of psychoanalysis in understanding what AI means for us as speaking, sexed subjects. Drawing on Lacanian theory and recent clinical developments it explores what philosophy and critical theory of AI has hitherto neglected: enjoyment. Through the reconceptualization of Intelligence, the Artificial Object and the Sexual Abyss the book outlines the Sexbot as a figure who exists on the boundary of psychoanalysis and AI. Through this figure and the medium of film, the author subverts Kant’s three Enlightenment questions and guides readers to transition from asking ‘Does it think?’ to ‘Can it enjoy?’ The book will appeal in particular to students and scholars of psychoanalysis, philosophy, film and media studies, critical theory, feminist theory and AI research.”
  • Matrix: A Novel [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Lauren Groff—”Cast out of the royal court by Eleanor of Aquitaine, deemed too coarse and rough-hewn for marriage or courtly life, seventeen-year-old Marie de France is sent to England to be the new prioress of an impoverished abbey, its nuns on the brink of starvation and beset by disease. At first taken aback by the severity of her new life, Marie finds focus and love in collective life with her singular and mercurial sisters. In this crucible, Marie steadily supplants her desire for family, for her homeland, for the passions of her youth with something new to her: devotion to her sisters, and a conviction in her own divine visions. Marie, born the last in a long line of women warriors and crusaders, is determined to chart a bold new course for the women she now leads and protects. But in a world that is shifting and corroding in frightening ways, one that can never reconcile itself with her existence, will the sheer force of Marie’s vision be bulwark enough? Equally alive to the sacred and the profane, Matrix gathers currents of violence, sensuality, and religious ecstasy in a mesmerizing portrait of consuming passion, aberrant faith, and a woman that history moves both through and around. Lauren Groff’s new novel, her first since Fates and Furies, is a defiant and timely exploration of the raw power of female creativity in a corrupted world.”
  • Joan Didion, ‘New Journalist’ Who Explored Culture and Chaos, Dies at 87. She established a distinctive voice in American fiction before turning to political reporting and screenplay writing. But it was California, her native state, that provided her with her richest material.” From 2017: “Joan Didion’s ‘Blue Nights’ Just Released Christopher Dickey Writes About His Love for Her. Over the years, Christopher Dickey has come to love Joan Didion—her work, her soul, her humor—even the way she shields her despair.”
  • THE WORLD IN TIME. David Wengrow.” Tweet—”Lewis H. Lapham and I discuss how modern evidence of archaeology/anthropology is transforming our picture of human history (WRT to demography, inequality, political awareness, and the impact of Indigenous critique on European thought)”
  • Crowdfunding effort for “One in Five by Louisa Britain. An anthology of stories about the realities of living in poverty.”–”Fourteen and a half million people live in poverty in the UK, according to the government’s own figures. That’s about one in five. And that was before the pandemic. So where are their voices? In this country, we hear about child poverty, in-work poverty, fuel poverty and poverty porn. We read about universal credit cuts, generation rent and Benefits Street. We see a fifth of our population through someone else’s lens, as victims or slackers or – just occasionally and if they’re particularly good at football – inspiring national heroes who turned their lives around. But we rarely hear from people who live with poverty every day. One in Five is a powerful anthology bringing together just some of the true stories behind the headlines. It explains the reality of spending all day shopping around online for the cheapest school shoes, only to be told off for owning a phone. Of scrubbing stains out of old clothes by hand, and the precise cost of a job interview outfit. It shows how disability, ethnicity, gender, ill health and unstable work or housing can all intersect to create an inescapable poverty trap. And how sometimes, living in poverty becomes a full-time job. Compiled by the campaigning mother better known on social media as Roadside Mum, it collects stories told by people with real, personal experience of poverty, in their own voices. But One in Five is also a book of ideas. You don’t raise a family in a rented flat on minimum wage without learning a thing or two about life, quick thinking and BOGOFs, and the contributors to this book understand better than most how the system is broken and what could be done to fix it – if the political will existed. By supporting this book you’ll be elevating the voices of the real experts and sending a clear message to those in charge: it’s time to listen and act to make a change.”
  • The Spy Who Could Have Saved Syria. An espionage thriller presents an alternative to former U.S. President Barack Obama’s failed policy toward the Assad regime.” About Damascus Station: A Novel [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by David McCloskey—”CIA case officer Sam Joseph is dispatched to Paris to recruit Syrian Palace official Mariam Haddad. The two fall into a forbidden relationship, which supercharges Haddad’s recruitment and creates unspeakable danger when they enter Damascus to find the man responsible for the disappearance of an American spy. But the cat and mouse chase for the killer soon leads to a trail of high-profile assassinations and the discovery of a dark secret at the heart of the Syrian regime, bringing the pair under the all-seeing eyes of Assad’s spy catcher, Ali Hassan, and his brother Rustum, the head of the feared Republican Guard. Set against the backdrop of a Syria pulsing with fear and rebellion, Damascus Station is a gripping thriller that offers a textured portrayal of espionage, love, loyalty, and betrayal in one of the most difficult CIA assignments on the planet.”
  • Careerism. The writing life and its discontents.”
  • I, Cthulhu, or, What’s A Tentacle-Faced Thing Like Me Doing In A Sunken City Like This (Latitude 47° 9′ S, Longitude 126° 43′ W)?” by Neil Gaiman.
  • OMG no. DON’T DO IT! This won’t end well for anyone. “Vacuum-Sealed Container From 1972 Moon Landing Will Finally Be Opened. After 50 years, scientists will get a chance to study lunar gases collected during Apollo 17 mission.”
  • Thread—”The history of the constituents of matter shows different eras with increasing complexity, followed by stunning simplifications marking a step change in our understanding. 1/8″
  • Large Roman fort built by Caligula discovered near Amsterdam. Fortified camp for thousands of soldiers thought to have been used by Emperor Claudius during conquest of Britain in AD43.”
  • Five ice-age mammoths unearthed in Cotswolds after 220,000 years. David Attenborough will tell of ‘pristine’ skeletons found with other extinct species.”
  • Modern humans weren’t the first to change the world! Neanderthals cleared a forest in Germany with fire or tools 125,000 years ago, study finds. Researchers from Leiden University studied the Neumark-Nord site near Leipzig. Evidence of extensive Neanderthal activity has been known here since the 1985. The team compared sediments from Neumark-Nord with two unoccupied sites. They found that the Neanderthal’s presence was associated with deforestation. Whether this was deliberate or an accidental by-product, however, is unclear.”
  • Prehistoric teeth hint at Stone Age sex with Neanderthals“—”Early modern humans and Neanderthals lived in Europe and parts of Asia at the same time — overlapping for several thousands of years before our archaic relatives disappeared around 40,000 years ago. During this time, Homo sapiens and Neanderthals encountered each other and sometimes had sex and gave birth to children. The evidence is buried within our genes, DNA analysis has shown, with most Europeans having around 2% Neanderthal DNA in their genomes from this ancient interbreeding.” Also “World’s oldest family tree reconstructed from Stone Age tomb“—”The oldest family tree in the world has been reconstructed through the analysis of ancient DNA taken from a Stone Age tomb in Britain, according to a new study published Wednesday. Researchers extracted DNA from the bones and teeth of 35 individuals buried at Hazleton North long cairn in the Cotswolds-Severn region, England. They found that 27 of them were close biological relatives and were from five continuous generations of a single extended family. The group lived around 3700-3600 BC — approximately 5,700 years ago. Researchers discovered that most of those buried in the tomb were descended from four women who had children with the same man.” Also “Burial ground reveals Stone Age people wore clothing covered in elk teeth.”
  • “THAT’S CONFUSING — Promising-looking SETI signal turns out to be of human origin. Space junk may look like a supernova as SETI researchers struggle with a signal.”
  • Tweet—”Of course there is no disclosure of compliance with such Chinese Govt content restriction demands in Amazon’s transparency report.” In re: “Special Report: Amazon partnered with China propaganda arm“—”Amazon.com Inc was marketing a collection of President Xi Jinping’s speeches and writings on its Chinese website about two years ago, when Beijing delivered an edict, according to two people familiar with the incident. The American e-commerce giant must stop allowing any customer ratings and reviews in China.”
  • TikTok tests PC game streaming app that could let it take on Twitch. Expanding live streaming beyond mobile.”
  • ‘The Corpse Bride Diet’: How TikTok Inundates Teens With Eating-Disorder Videos. The app’s algorithm can send users down rabbit holes of narrow interest, resulting in potentially dangerous content such as emaciated images, purging techniques, hazardous diets and body shaming.”
  • Tweet—”A must-read for coders, dissidents and journalists on the mind/blowing complexity and technical creativity of NSO’s FORCEDENTRY 0day exploit by the good folks over at Google Project Zero: ‘We assess this to be one of the most technically sophisticated exploits we’ve ever seen.'” Tweet—”This NSO zero-click exploit is mind blowing. The attacker uses an obscure, Turing-complete image compression format to implement a virtual computer architecture to read and write arbitrary memory. The level of sophistication in this exploit is scary.” See “A deep dive into an NSO zero-click iMessage exploit: Remote Code Execution
  • It’s Awkward Being a Woman in the Metaverse. Meeting people in virtual reality was fun but messier than Mark Zuckerberg’s vision. Also beware the foul-mouthed kids and the griefers.”
  • Thread—”Kickstarter is going to be hosting through Celo, a blockchain that claims to be ‘carbon negative’ through carbon offsetting. The company Celo is working with to offset it’s carbon is Wren, a tree planting initiative. It takes at least 10 years for trees to begin carbon capture.”
  • Tweet—”OpenSea is now rejecting takedown requests (sent via their own Takedown Form) on stolen artwork, citing their ToS as the reason. We’ve heard from multiple artists who have sent proof of ownership, but OpenSea refused to take the work down. This thread has more info.” Tweet—”Screw it, let’s keep going: Why is OpenSea deterring artists from reporting plagiarized art? Removing fraud would be good for their customers, right? Did you know that OpenSea doesn’t do refunds nor remuneration? They keep a cut from NFTs they sell, even if it’s stolen art.” Also Tweet—”But tell me again about how NFT’s are a great way to directly support artists and not at all a theft and scamming ring dependent on exacerbating all the worst existing elements of art theft and money laundering.” Tweet—”Just so everyone knows. There are HELLBOY NFT’s out there that are unauthorized and were made without our’s or @DarkHorseComics consent so buyer beware.” Also tweet—”Brian Eno on NFTs.” Also tweet—”I’ll gladly pay you in trade beads for that crazy tulip today.” Also tweet—”Bitcoin, NFTs, and the rest of that nonsense can only thrive because Mad Magazine ceased newsstand publication. One Al Jaffee fold-in where a Bored Ape transforms into the word ‘CRAPTO’ and it’s over.”
  • Tweet—”Good news: We’ve flattened the curve. Bad news: It’s against the y-axis.”
  • Tweet—”I think we need to normalize saying, ‘This is a stupid conversation and I’m not going to continue it.'” In re: Tweet—”Perhaps the best clap back to antivaxxers and antimaskers.”
  • Tweet—”A reminder that the shortage of Covid tests was completely manufactured for profit.”
  • Dr. Robert Malone goes full antivaccine conspiracist. Dr. Robert Malone, ‘inventor of mRNA vaccines,’ while still straining to maintain a pretense of being provaccine, went full antivaccine this week and is drifting farther and farther from reality and deeper and deeper into conspiracy theories.”—”Whenever someone ‘challenges’ me like this, I almost always respond, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ So I’ll answer right now: Yes, Dr. Malone is wrong, and, although he clearly has a PhD and did do some interesting work getting mRNA into cells to express proteins decades ago, I do question his qualifications these days. Even if he’s ‘qualified,’ qualifications alone are not enough, particularly if you use them in the service of spreading disinformation, which Malone undoubtedly is.”
  • Florida man! “Florida man kicked off flight after trying to wear women’s underwear as a face mask“—”In other interview clips, Jenne said he has worn the underwear on other flights during the pandemic. He also compared himself to Rosa Parks, and said that he doesn’t wear a mask in the airport at all apart from going through security. Jenne called it an ‘injustice’ that he was removed from the flight in an interview with WFTX.”
  • QAnon Loses It And Thinks The Government Gave Them Anthrax During COVID Outbreak.” Tweet—”I have been following this saga for days. Basically, the guys behind the ‘election fraud audits’ are all sick after attending Michael Flynn and Clay Clark’s big QAnon conference, and they believe that anthrax was pumped in through the churches’ fog machines to poison them.”
  • Dallas QAnon Cultists Are Drinking Toxic Chemicals from A Communal Bowl, Family Says.”
  • ‘Q’ Has Been Quiet, but QAnon Lives On. With the absence of a leader, the movement has transformed into more of a ‘choose your own adventure’ conspiracy theory.”
  • The Gospel of Donald Trump Jr.. The former president’s son told a crowd that the teachings of Jesus have ‘gotten us nothing.'” Tweet—”Welcome to the new right wing evangelicalism, which replaces God the Father with Donald Trump the Reality Show Businessman, while denouncing the teachings of Jesus as weakness and ‘for suckers.’ It’s cruel, ugly, often moronic, and yes, it is a cult.”
  • Citizen Militias in the U.S. Are Moving toward More Violent Extremism. In some members, a longing for “simpler” times is giving rise to deadly activities.”
  • Will Donald Trump Get Away With Inciting an Insurrection? Trying to upend a free and fair election is one of the gravest crimes imaginable. We’re worried Merrick Garland isn’t taking it seriously enough.” Tweet—”When even the bloody New York Times is forced to admit you’re letting the fascists get away with their (still ongoing) coup attempt…”
  • America is now in fascism’s legal phase. The history of racism in the US is fertile ground for fascism. Attacks on the courts, education, the right to vote and women’s rights are further steps on the path to toppling democracy.”
  • Tweet—”The first statute of limitations for Trump’s various alleged obstructive activities expires in two months. What is DOJ doing? We don’t know. That’s a problem, for thoughtful reasons explained here:” “Merrick Garland Needs to Speak Up.”
  • Hidden Pentagon Records Reveal Patterns of Failure in Deadly Airstrikes. The promise was a war waged by all-seeing drones and precision bombs. The documents show flawed intelligence, faulty targeting, years of civilian deaths — and scant accountability.”
  • Working Toward Full Suffrage“—”The right to vote is exactly that: a right. Not a reward that must be earned, not a privilege that can be revoked. In a nation founded on the promise of representative democracy, voting is one of the most sacred and fundamental rights we have — so much so that the right to vote is effectively synonymous with citizenship itself. So why do we allow millions of Americans to be stripped of that right, their citizenship effectively revoked, because of felony convictions? These Americans are still citizens, and should still be able to exercise their right to vote — even those who are currently serving their sentences. The Sentencing Project estimates that over 5 million citizens in this country can’t vote because of a felony conviction – and of those, roughly 75% are living in the community, and 25% are serving their sentences behind bars. There is a growing and urgently-needed movement toward ‘universal suffrage’ that would reinstate their right to vote, and protect their ability to participate in the choices we make together as a democratic nation.” Tweet—”Felony disenfranchisement laws do not serve any legitimate legal purpose, nor do they meaningfully deter unlawful behavior. They do far more harm than good. Meanwhile, a study found that participation in voting actually decreased recidivism.”
  • DC Police Tried to Fire 24 Current Officers for ‘Criminal Offenses.’ A Powerful Panel Blocked Nearly Every One, Documents Show. Disciplinary files obtained by Reveal and WAMU/DCist show how a panel of high-ranking officers – including the current police chief – kept troubled officers on the force.”
  • Kanye West’s ‘Independent’ Campaign Was Secretly Run by GOP Elites. The campaign took steps, experts say, to mask its connections to GOP operatives. That could violate federal election laws.” Tweet—”Seriously, we knew this, and if you thought it was anything else you were fooling yourself. And if you don’t get how this is INTIMATELY tied to EVERYTHING else about Kanye, at this point, it’s because you don’t want to.”
  • Anti-Zionist Gabriel Boric’s presidential win leaves Chile’s Jews worried. Gabriel Boric called Israel a “murderous state” in a meeting with Chile’s Jewish community during his campaign.” Tweet—”His defeated opponent, who they don’t mention for some reason, is the far-right son of a Nazi who fled Germany after WWII. Great tweet guys.”
  • Opinion | Trump Just Crossed a Red Line for His Evangelical and Jewish Fans. Trump’s obscenities and antisemitic tropes don’t bother his Jewish fans. But a recent quote has stunned his pro-Israel base, evangelicals and Jews, to the core – and could complicate his chances for a second term.” Tweet—”It won’t matter because if that happens American democracy will be well and truly dead shortly thereafter.” Tweet—”He may destroy our democracy with another coup but sure let’s worry about his promises to part of his base.”
  • Who Just Gave Trump $1 Billion? Let’s Find Out. Investments in a blank-check company backing the former president could turn out to be IOUs if he wins back the White House.”
  • Map by Map, G.O.P. Chips Away at Black Democrats’ Power. Black elected officials in several states, from Congress down to the counties, have been drawn out of their districts this year or face headwinds to hold onto their seats.”
  • Tweet—”I like this messaging of ‘restore the Senate rules’ instead of ‘abolish the filibuster’ or ‘reform the filibuster.’ The Constitution explicitly only required supermajority votes for a few very specific things, not everything.” Also “Harry Reid’s most valuable advice to future Democratic leaders. ‘I think the biggest lesson is never trust Republicans,’ says one of Reid’s former staffers.”
  • Joe Manchin Gaslights America“—”This week we take on the new mascot of obstructionism and excuse for legislative inaction — Joe Manchin! This human barrier to democracy has not received the level of investigation he deserves, so we dove in.” Also Tweet—”Hey @Sen_JoeManchin, this you?”
  • Tweet—”As Joe Madison enters his 6th week and nearly 20 students continue into their 2nd, Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig is joining the hunger strike for democracy. The call for Biden & Democratic senators to waive the filibuster and pass voting rights law *this year* is growing.”
  • How Paid Experts Help Exonerate Police After Deaths in Custody. Inside the self-reinforcing ecosystem of people who advise, train and defend officers. Many accuse them of slanting science and perpetuating aggressive tactics.” Tweet—”This is a ‘police exoneration’ industry – funded by us.” Tweet—”We actually did know this and when we tried to tell people they said we were being dramatic. And good that it’s finally getting mainstream coverage.”
  • The Constitutional Right We Have Bargained Away. Instead of protecting defendants’ right to have their guilt or innocence decided by their peers, judges routinely punish defendants for exercising that right.”
  • Handcuffed and Unhoused. As homelessness rises, unhoused people often get entangled in a criminal justice cycle that leads back to the streets – or worse.”—”In Portland, Oregon, unhoused people make up at most 2% of the population, but they account for nearly half of all arrests. Cities have long turned to police as the mechanism for making homelessness disappear. But arrests don’t solve a housing crisis.”
  • A Grim, Long-Hidden Truth Emerges in Art: Native American Enslavement. Two exhibitions highlight stories of Indigenous bondage in southern Colorado, in an effort to grapple with the lasting trauma.”
  • “A Syllabus on Transgender and Nonbinary Methods for Art and Art History” [PDF, DOI] by David J. Getsy and Che Gossett. Tweet—”@cruisingatopia & I worked up “A Syllabus on Transgender and Nonbinary Methods for Art and Art History” for Art Journal (Winter 2021). Open access version (w/ as many downloadable links as we could get!) is coming soon, but in the meantime here is the PDF!”
  • Tweet—”That reminds me to remind you: Luddites were engineers. They used and understood the highest technologies of their age. They sabotaged the machines because the machines served capital, not people. They could sabotage the machines because they knew how they worked.”
  • He wore a wire, risked his life to expose who was in the KKK“—”For nearly 10 years, Joseph Moore lived a secret double life. At times the U.S. Army veteran donned a white robe and hood as a hit man for the Ku Klux Klan in North Florida. He attended clandestine meetings and participated in cross burnings. He even helped plan the murder of a Black man. However, Moore wore something else during his years in the klan – a wire for the FBI.”
  • Work and Purpose Aren’t Enemies. With Matt Bloom from University of Notre Dame.”
  • Tweet—”NEW: Workers who make cakes for Baskin Robbins are forced to work 12-14 hours/day, make 13+ cakes/minute & get 3 sick days/year. Workers say they’ve developed arthritis & been denied time off for cancer treatments. Now 100+ mainly immigrant Latina workers are on strike.”
  • Tweet—”My heart. Bernie with Kellogg’s workers on strike.” Also “Kellogg’s Strike Ends: BCTGM Members Ratify New Contract. Members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) who work at Kellogg’s ready to eat cereal plants in Battle Creek, Mich., Lancaster, Pa., Omaha, Neb. and Memphis, Tenn. have voted to accept the recommended collective bargaining agreement. Approval of the contract ends the BCTGM’s strike against Kellogg’s, which began on October 5, 2021.” And tweet—”Remember what it took to get here and everything @KelloggsUS tried to do to avoid it.”
  • My Traumatizing Years With Bryan Singer.”
  • Tweet—”We shouldn’t just forgive student debt, we should also reassess the entire higher education system and what students are really getting out of it.”
  • Hospital Prices Are Unpredictable. One Type of Coverage Often Gets the Worst Rates. Hospitals’ highest rates often go to rental networks of healthcare providers that are sometimes used in limited-benefits plans, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.”
  • Tweet—”Cleese: Toughen up snowflakes! End cancel culture! You don’t have the right not to be offended! Also Cleese: Dear BBC, I am disgusted by the way you audaciously asked me questions about my recent rants and demand some sort of consequence.”
  • No wingsuit pilot has ever flown this close to the pyramids. Almost close enough to touch. Fred Fugen jumped at the chance to fly through the ancient pyramids of Giza. Here’s how this dream took flight.”
  • Huge Games Company Embracer Group Buys Dark Horse Comics. Expect some interesting crossovers in the future.” Also “EMBRACER GROUP ENTERS INTO AN AGREEMENT TO ACQUIRE DARK HORSE AND FORMS THE TENTH OPERATIVE GROUP.” Also “Dark Horse Comics bought by video game giant Embracer. Embracer Group’s buying spree continues with Dark Horse, Perfect World, and more.” Also “Asmodee to Sell for €2.75 Billion to Sweden’s Embracer Group.” Also “Online U.S. Retailer Miniature Market Purchased by Asmodee.” Um, this buying spree is giving me flashbacks to the crashes I’ve experienced before. A lot of buying up of things lately. I’m minded that consolidation by large firms of smaller firms often seems a stage in the run up to a crash. Eventually the big firms can’t afford to buy smaller firms, which instead fail, then big firms can’t afford to exist either. Crash!
  • Watch “THE NORTHMAN – Official Trailer – In Theaters April 22.”—”From visionary director Robert Eggers comes THE NORTHMAN, an action-filled epic that follows a young Viking prince on his quest to avenge his father’s murder. With an all-star cast that includes Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Björk, and Willem Dafoe.” Björk! “Remember for whom you shed your last teardrop.” Also tweet—”Avenge father. Save mother. Kill Fjölnir. Watch the trailer for Robert Eggers’ #TheNorthman now, and this tweet for more updates.”
  • A Forbidden Orange (La naranja prohibida) on HBO Max—”Malcom McDowell narrates a powerful documentary charting the premiere in Spain of Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 masterpiece A Clockwork Orange, which was banned for clashing head-on with strict moral codes by censors who wished to clamp down on subversive ideas entering the country. In 1975, after a lengthy embargo under fascist dictator Francisco Franco, Kubrick’s film was screened at a long-running religious film festival in the conservative provincial city of Valladolid, an unlikely home for an event that would forever shape the lives of those in attendance. Explosive and eye-opening, A Forbidden Orange (La naranja prohibida) looks back at a film that, nearly 50 years later, still raises questions about the nature of freedom and film’s ability to change the world.”
  • Tweet—”Phone camera fixed, so check out a close up of my TRAPPIST-1 #exoplanet ornaments! All hand painted in acrylic using a reference from @NASAJPL.”
  • Tweet—”Remembering that time back in 2007 that I carefully re-created Iron Age coins of the Iceni and Trinovantes as Christmas biscuits.”
  • As misprints go, this is biblical. Tweet—”Ordered Werewolf the Apocalypse core book a while ago, and it finally arrived. Turns out it’s just a New Testament instead. @TheOnyxPath What kind of joke is this? This isn’t what I ordered.”
  • Tweet—”One thing Blade Runner, and The Expanse has taught us. Is that noodles are the official food of the future. ”
  • Tweet—”1989: I got the Star Wars RPG when I was a teen. My 1st player was my sister. Last she played was 1999. 2019: I ran a one-shot for my sister, her daughter & my son. The story crossed over with that first game! It was fantastic!”
  • Apropos of nothing, except that it is strangely mesmerizing, watch “DUDES OF HAZMAT – Toxic Waste Chase (music video)“—”Directed by/Animation by Drue Langlois.” “This song, ‘Robot Tune’ is by Winnipeg band, ‘French Class’.”

Omnium Gatherum: 19dec2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for December 19, 2021

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

  • Weathering Together. A capybara, soaking in a bath of lemons. A noblin with too many hats. A child with a kite, looking forward to tomorrow. Gentle, irreverent handmade drawings by momatoes—an established illustrator with a warm yet silly sense of humor—now available for a very limited time to aid communities in need. Supporters at $20 and above can specify a prompt (e.g. two frogs high-fiving) for their doodle! Others receive a random surprise. However, they’re both equally delightful. Every proceed will go towards organizations funding relief goods and services to Philippine and Malaysian areas hard-hit by calamitous Typhoon Rai. The notecard will be a silly piece of hand-drawn art, but backed by a foundation of your genuine kindness.”
  • Oh no! Tweet—”Nooo, It’s literally the worst feeling to go down in flames. Loudly crying face Hot face But the comeback is always stronger than the setback. And – I’ll be bock!” Also “Sweden’s ill-fated yule goat burns down a week before Christmas. Sweden’s most famous yule goat, Gävlebocken, has once again succumbed to flames in an arson attack. A man with soot on his hands was arrested close to the scene.”—”In 2016, the last time it was vandalised, it burned down on its opening day. If it had survived this Christmas season, it would have been a historic year for the goat, which has never survived five consecutive years before.” Wait. Hold up. “A man with soot on his hands was arrested close to the scene.” 🎅? “According to witnesses, a ‘tall and athletically built man’, wearing dark clothes and a hood, was seen leaving the scene when the fire started.” KRAMPUS?! J’ACCUSE!
  • ‘Christmas Comet’ now visible, but won’t be seen again for 80,000 years“—”In the final days of 2021, stargazers will be dazzled by the brightest comet of the year, as it trails through the night sky. Comet C/2021 A1, or Comet Leonard made a close pass to earth on December 12. ‘Before its approach, it was visible only in the early morning sky, but its journey has now made it more prominent in the evening sky, making it a target for backyard stargazers,’ AccuWeather meteorologist Brian Lada said in a report on Thursday. Meteorologists predict that the comet will be visible through December, but will get dimmer each day. Comet Leonard will be easiest to see with telescope, but in clear skies, it might be visible to the naked eye.” Also “‘Christmas comet’ to zip through evening sky, won’t be back for 80,000 years. The coming nights will be the best chance to see comet Leonard, discovered earlier this year, and the comet may even be visible to the naked eye under ideal conditions.”—”The 2020 holiday season featured a ‘Christmas star’ when Jupiter and Saturn appeared extremely close and shined together, and this year, stargazers are in for another gift as the brightest comet of 2021 races through the evening sky. Comet C/2021 A1, more commonly referred to as comet Leonard, was discovered earlier this year and made its closest approach to the Earth on Dec. 12. Before its approach, it was visible only in the early morning sky, but its journey has now made it more prominent in the evening sky, making it a target for backyard stargazers. The ‘Christmas comet’ will appear in the evening sky throughout the rest of the year, but folks should look for it sooner rather than later as it will become dimmer and dimmer heading into the final days of December.” Also watch “Last Chance To See Comet Leonard Before It Exits The Solar System.”
  • The Revolutionary Writing of bell hooks. Through her scholarship and criticism, hooks, who died this week, rewrote our understanding of Black feminism and womanhood, and gave a generation of readers a new way of looking at the world.”
  • “When humans are gone, what animals might evolve to have our smarts and skills? Is this a “Planet of the Apes” situation?” About After Man: A Zoology of the Future [Amazon, Publisher, Local Library] by Dougal Dixon—”Back in print for the first time in over a decade, and featuring a new introduction from the author and updates based on scientific discoveries made in the 37 years since its initial publication, this new edition of Dougal Dixon’s lavishly illustrated speculative zoology imagines the strange creatures that might evolve in a distant future after the extinction of man.”
  • Where Do We Draw the Line? Addressing Eminent Scholars’ Imperfect Pasts“—”Can we still enjoy Woody Allen’s movies or Michael Jackson’s music in light of their alleged sexual predation? Should we read Harry Potter or watch Chappelle’s Show after their creators’ transphobic remarks? Whether we can or should separate the art from the artist remains an open question. It affects all of us who study ancient cultures that normalized slavery, assault, and other practices we find reprehensible. What do we do, though, when the reprehensible actors include living Goliaths in our own fields?” More about Drawing the Line: What to Do with the Work of Immoral Artists from Museums to the Movies [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Erich Hatala Matthes.
  • Barnes & Noble’s Unproblematic Wizard Books Display Draws Cheers Online. The bookseller seemingly takes a stand against “she who shall not be named” and her transphobic comments.” Wait. Brandon Sanderson unproblematic? Maybe.
  • Quidditch to change name, citing J.K. Rowling’s ‘anti-trans positions’. The real sport, which was inspired by the ‘Harry Potter’ books, said it hopes to distance itself from the author and expand its ‘growth potential.'”—”US Quidditch and Major League Quidditch announced in a joint news release Wednesday that they will conduct a series of surveys over the next few months to decide on a new name for the sport, which resembles soccer and field hockey, but as a contact sport with broomsticks.”
  • Why maths should move on from the ancient Greeks. Many people experience maths anxiety and some even mention feelings of ‘rage and despair’. One way to improve the subject’s perception is by playing down the Platonists, suggests Michael Brooks.” By Michael Brooks, author of The Art of More: How Mathematics Created Civilization [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library], due Jan 2022—”An illuminating, millennia-spanning history of the impact mathematics has had on the world, and the fascinating people who have mastered its inherent power, from Babylonian tax officials to the Apollo astronauts to the eccentric professor who invented the infrastructure of the online world. Counting is not innate to our nature, and without education humans can rarely count past three—beyond that, it’s just ‘more.’ But once harnessed by our ancestors, the power of numbers allowed humanity to flourish in ways that continue to lead to discoveries and enrich our lives today. Ancient tax collectors used basic numeracy to fuel the growth of early civilization, navigators used clever geometrical tricks to engage in trade and connect people across vast distances, astronomers used logarithms to unlock the secrets of the heavens, and their descendants put them to use to land us on the moon. In every case, mathematics has proved to be a greatly underappreciated engine of human progress. In this captivating, sweeping history, Michael Brooks acts as our guide through the ages. He makes the case that mathematics was one of the foundational innovations that catapulted humanity from a nomadic existence to civilization, and that it has since then been instrumental in every great leap of humankind. Here are ancient Egyptian priests, Babylonian bureaucrats, medieval architects, dueling Swiss brothers, and renaissance painters. Their stories clearly demonstrate that the invention of mathematics was every bit as important to the human species as was the discovery of fire. From first page to last, The Art of More brings mathematics back into the heart of what it means to be human.”
  • Tardigrade is first multicellular organism to be quantum entangled“—”A tardigrade has been quantum entangled with a superconducting qubit – and lived to tell the tale. It is the first time a multicellular organism has been placed in this strange quantum state and raises questions about what it means for living things to be entangled.”
  • Anti-aging vaccine shows promise in mice — will it work in humans?. The new vaccine ameliorated certain signs of aging in mice.”
  • A Critical Creature for Human Survival Is Rapidly Declining. This is not good.”—”You depend on bees. Bees pollinate all of our staple food crops — that deli sandwich you’re eating? Thank bees for the bread flour. Oh, and the slaw too. And the cold cuts or the cheese (bees pollinate the food crops that cows, pigs, and other animals eat, too). But this critical creature is declining — fast. The discovery — In a study published earlier this year in the journal Cell Press reports that 25 percent of known bee species have disappeared from the public record over the last 30 years.”
  • Russia allows methane leaks at planet’s peril. A new breed of satellites devoted to locating and measuring greenhouse gases, including methane, are orbiting Earth — meaning trouble for Russia, the world’s second-biggest natural gas producer.”
  • Earth’s magnetic field illuminates Biblical history. It casts light on an obscure period called the Hallstatt plateau.”
  • Watch “The Canadian town that burnt down in a day – BBC News“—”In 2021, Canada had a record heatwave which scientists say was impossible without climate change. Wildfires engulfed Patrick Michell’s hometown of Lytton after it reached 49.5°C. Now he and his community must plan for an uncertain future. Meanwhile, an environmental protest against the logging industry becomes the largest act of civil disobedience Canada’s ever seen.”
  • Watch “Evidence ancient Babylonians were far more advanced than we thought – BBC REEL“—”Plimpton 322 is the name given to a 3,800-year-old clay tablet discovered in Iraq in the early 20th Century by archeologist Edgar J Banks, the man believed to have inspired Indiana Jones. Over time this tablet has become one of the most significant and most studied objects of the ancient world. Dr Daniel Mansfield, of the University of New South Wales, who has studied Plimpton 322 along with other similar tablets, argues that these are evidence that the Babylonians were solving real-world problems, such as surveying, using the basics of Pythagoras’ theorem 1,000 years before the ancient Greeks.”
  • Orkney’s rare Viking sword has ‘many stories to tell’. A Viking sword found at a burial site in Orkney is a rare, exciting and complex artefact, say archaeologists.”—”The find, made in 2015 on the northeast coast of Papa Westray, is being carefully examined as part of post-excavation work. Archaeologists have now identified it as a type of heavy sword associated with the 9th Century. The relic is heavily corroded, but x-rays have revealed the sword’s guards to be highly decorated. Contrasting metals are thought to have been used to create a honey comb-like pattern. Archaeologists examining the weapon said it had ‘many stories to tell’.”
  • Archaeologists Find 2,000-Year-Old Lesson on Sea Level Changes Destroying Societies“—”Archaeologists have linked rising and lowering sea levels in the Atlantic Ocean to the ebbs and flows of ancient civilizations in southern Brazil. The findings, which incorporate several lines of past archaeological evidence, suggest even large, resilient, and cooperative coastal communities can easily go out with the tide. When analyzing and dating a series of prehistoric shell ‘mountains’, known as sambaquis in the local language, researchers noticed some significant changes in southwestern Brazil about 2,500 years ago. At this time, the size and frequency of sambaqui sites suddenly began to decrease, possibly indicating the dissolution of what were, for millennia, dense and stable shellfish-eating populations.”
  • Lyre previously found at Sutton Hoo has cousin in Kazakhstan. An analysis of Soviet-era excavations from the 1930’s to the mid-1990’s has revealed that a lyre discovered in in Dzhetyasar, Kazakhstan, matches a lyre from Sutton Hoo over 4,000 km away in England.”
  • Watch “An extraordinary deep-sea sighting: The giant phantom jelly“—”This ghostly giant is a rare sight. But in November 2021, MBARI researchers spotted this giant phantom jelly (Stygiomedusa gigantea) with the ROV Doc Ricketts 990 meters (3,200 feet) deep in Monterey Bay. The bell of this deep-sea denizen is more than one meter (3.3 feet) across and trails four ribbon-like oral (or mouth) arms that can grow more than 10 meters (33 feet) in length. MBARI’s ROVs have logged thousands of dives, yet we have only seen this spectacular species nine times.”
  • Lobsters, octopus and crabs recognised as sentient beings. Amendment to Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill following LSE report on decapod and cephalopod sentience. Crabs, octopus and lobsters to be recognised as sentient beings in government policy decision making. Decapod crustaceans and cephalopod molluscs will be recognised under the scope of the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill. Amendment to Bill follows London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) scientific research findings on decapod and cephalopod sentience. Existing industry practices will not be affected and there will be no direct impact on shellfish catching or in restaurant kitchens.”
  • Having Trouble Sleeping? Israeli Researchers Discover Tiredness Mechanism. An Israeli team of researchers has discovered a mechanism that leads to tiredness in the nervous system of the zebrafish, with supportive evidence for the existence of such a mechanism in mice. Remember the name: Parp1.”
  • OSU study yields a first in fossil research: Seeds sprouting from an amber-encased pine cone.”
  • Orangutan drawings change with season and mood. Findings may provide clues to origins of human artistic ability.”
  • Skeleton of new dinosaur species discovered in Missouri“—”Scientists have discovered the bones of a dinosaur in Missouri, and it’s a new line never uncovered before. Paleontologist Guy Darrough discovered the juvenile skeleton of a Parrosaurus missouriensis in the Show-Me State. The specific location of the finding is being kept secret until the site can be secured. ‘I can’t imagine anything that’s more impressive than what we discovered here. A new genus in species. Its world-famous discovery,’ said Darrough.” Also “Missouri dig site is home to at least 4 rare dinosaurs, and there could be more“—”Fossils in Missouri are rare — the Chronister site, a couple dozen acres of woodland located near Bollinger County in Missouri, is the only place fossils have been found in Missouri, according to Erika Woehlk, a visual materials archivist at the Missouri State Archives. Most dinosaurs in the United States have been found in the West. ‘No one thought that there were any dinosaurs in Missouri. It’s just unheard of to find dinosaur fossils in this part of the country,’ said Abigail Kern, office manager for the Sainte Genevieve Museum Learning Center in Missouri. But this site is rich.”
  • New Link Between a Disrupted Body Clock and Inflammatory Diseases. New research from RCSI has demonstrated the significant role that an irregular body clock plays in driving inflammation in the body’s immune cells, with implications for the most serious and prevalent diseases in humans.”
  • From 2018: “Pando, One of the World’s Largest Organisms, Is Dying. Mule deer and cattle are eating saplings before the clonal grove can regenerate.” Also “The World’s Largest Organism Is Slowly Being Eaten, Scientist Says“—”Found in my home state of Utah, ‘Pando’ is a 106-acre stand of quaking aspen clones. Although it looks like a woodland of individual trees with striking white bark and small leaves that flutter in the slightest breeze, Pando (Latin for ‘I spread’) is actually 47,000 genetically identical stems that arise from an interconnected root network. This single genetic individual weighs around 6,000 metric tons. By mass, it is the largest single organism on Earth.” “Pando has been around for thousands of years, potentially up to 14,000 years, despite most stems only living for about 130 years. Its longevity and remoteness mean a whole ecosystem of 68 plant species and many animals have evolved and been supported under its shade. This entire ecosystem relies on the aspen remaining healthy and upright. But, although Pando is protected by the US National Forest Service and is not in danger of being cut down, it is in danger of disappearing due to several other factors.”
  • Prospector’s mystery rock was no nugget, but something much rarer“—”‘What the hell is this thing?’, Mr Hole thought to himself. The answer, it turned out, was something not of this Earth. He had come across the large reddish rock while hunting for gold near Maryborough, where he lives, in 2015. It was extremely heavy, far heavier than it looked, so Mr Hole thought there had to be a nugget inside. He was wrong. This was no nugget. It contained something much rarer than gold: metal raindrops from the dawn of our solar system.”
  • An ‘incident’ with the James Webb Space Telescope has occurred. NASA is leading an anomaly review board to investigate and conduct additional testing.”
  • Drone Sails Into Category 4 Hurricane, Sends Back Incredible Video and Data. HD video isn’t the only thing Saildrone captured. Data from the heart of the storm could help researchers, too.”
  • Nasa Officially Touches the Sun — and Solves a Solar Mystery. This is the closest encounter between our species and the Sun ever.”—”In a first for humanity, a manmade spacecraft has kissed the Sun. ‘Not only does this milestone provide us with deeper insights into our Sun’s evolution and its impacts on our Solar System, but everything we learn about our own star also teaches us more about stars in the rest of the universe,’ Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, says in a press release.”
  • Watch “NASA Finally Contacts Voyager 2 Again After A Year of Silence“—”How far in space do you think we could travel in the span of 44 years? The answer? 11 billion miles! That is how long Voyager 2 has been traveling in the vast infinite of space, and you will not believe just how much our little space scout has learned in its travels. Equipped with a multitude of scientific instruments, Voyager 2 is more than capable of giving us a play-by-play of its journey through the stars.”
  • From the Panspermia dept: Watch “Could life on Planet Earth have originated on Mars? 👽🌱 BBC“—”Professor Brian Cox explores how easy it might be for alien life to hitch a ride to other planets in our universe. 🪐 ” (Also, reminds me of Velikovsky’s Worlds in Collision!)
  • We survived! (This time.) “‘Concerning’ asteroid will break into Earth’s orbit in a week: NASA | New York Post“—”NASA has warned that a giant asteroid bigger than the Eiffel Tower will break into Earth’s orbit in just over a week. The 1,082-foot space rock is heading our way and should skim past us on December 11. NASA has its eye on Asteroid 4660 Nereus because it’s well over 492 feet long and will come within 4.6 million miles of Earth. That puts it in the ‘potentially hazardous’ category. There’s no need to panic, though, as Asteroid Nereus isn’t expected to impact Earth. If all goes well, it should shoot past our planet at 14,700 miles per hour. NASA is expecting the space rock to stay 2.4 million miles away from us.”
  • Why you should care about Facebook’s big push into the metaverse. The futuristic tech Mark Zuckerberg is investing billions in could remake the internet.”
  • Facebook fed posts with violence and nudity to people with low digital literacy. Facebook studies said algorithms harmed users with low tech skills with repeated disturbing content. Some users did not understand how content came to appear in their feeds or how to control it. These users were often older, people of color, lower-educated and of lower socioeconomic status.”
  • Tweet—”Sometimes I forget that Elon Musk has always been a privileged rich kid & Elon Musk’s daddy owned an emerald mine & Elon Musk walked around with jewels in his pockets & Elon Musk didn’t start Tesla, he just ousted the founders & Elon Musk has never invented anything… Sometimes.”
  • Google and Meta win U.S. security agency backing for Pacific cable. U.S. security agencies recommend that the Federal Communications Commission approve a plan by the parent companies of Google and Facebook to build an undersea fiber optic cable linking the U.S. to Taiwan and the Philippines.”
  • Mathematician Hurls Structure and Disorder Into Century-Old Problem. A new paper shows how to create longer disordered strings than mathematicians had thought possible, proving that a well-known recent conjecture is ‘spectacularly wrong.'”
  • ‘Buy now, pay later’ stocks tumble after U.S. consumer watchdog launches probe. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is seeking information from Affirm, Afterpay, Klarna, PayPal and Zip on the risks and benefits of their products. ‘Buy now, pay later’ services let shoppers defer payment for items, typically over a period of monthly installments and with no interest attached. Affirm’s shares closed down by 11% Thursday, while Australian companies Afterpay, Zip and Sezzle on Friday dropped 8%, 6% and 10%, respectively.”—”A shift in consumer habits toward e-commerce and flexible loans, coupled with huge government stimulus packages, heavily benefited companies like Klarna, Affirm and Afterpay. This, in turn, has led to major tech companies like PayPal and Block jumping into BNPL, hoping to capitalize on the growth of the industry.” Also, remember that bit about Microsoft adding BNPL to their browser: “Microsoft Edge buy now pay later scheme met with criticism.”
  • Still looking for it! I mean, it’s probably worth it to keep trying. Watch “The search for a bitcoin hard drive worth $350 million lost in a landfill“—”CNBC’s Kelly Evans reports on British I.T. worker James Howells’ last-ditch effort to find a hard drive in a landfill. The drive contains 7,500 bitcoin, worth more than $350 million. New Yorker Staff Writer D.T. Max, spoke to James Howells about his search.”
  • Pure evil exploitation: Watch “Investigation: How Roblox Is Exploiting Young Game Developers“—”With Roblox Corporation now being valued at more than $45 billion, we ask whether the kids making the vast majority of its content are being taken advantage of?” Also watch “Roblox Pressured Us to Delete Our Video. So We Dug Deeper.”—”Following our last video on Roblox, players and creators began getting in touch with their own stories to share. Here are some of those stories.”
  • Hits ‘keep coming’: Hospitals struggle as COVID beds fill“—”Hospitals across the country are struggling to cope with burnout among doctors, nurses and other workers, already buffeted by a crush of patients from the ongoing surge of the COVID-19 delta variant and now bracing for the fallout of another highly transmissible mutation. Ohio became the latest state to summon the National Guard to help overwhelmed medical facilities. Experts in Nebraska warned that its hospitals soon may need to ration care. Medical officials in Kansas and Missouri are delaying surgeries, turning away transfers and desperately trying to hire traveling nurses, as cases double and triple in an eerie reminder of last year’s holiday season. ‘There is no medical school class that can prepare you for this level of death,’ said Dr. Jacqueline Pflaum-Carlson, an emergency medicine specialist at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. ‘The hits just keep coming.'”
  • The Lab-Leak Theory Meets Its Perfect Match. Both pandemic-origin arguments depend on coincidence.”
  • And the cattle all have brucellosis: “Ancient case of disease spillover discovered in Neanderthal man who got sick butchering raw meat“—”Scientists studying ancient disease have uncovered one of the earliest examples of spillover — when a disease jumps from an animal to a human — and it happened to a Neanderthal man who likely got sick butchering or cooking raw meat. Researchers were reexamining the fossilized bones of a Neanderthal who was found in a cave near the French village of La Chapelle-aux-Saints in 1908. The ‘Old Man of La Chapelle,’ as he became known, was the first relatively complete Neanderthal skeleton to be unearthed and is one of the best studied. More than a century after his discovery, his bones are still yielding new information about the lives of Neanderthals, the heavily built Stone Age hominins that lived in Europe and parts of Asia before disappearing about 40,000 years ago. The man, thought to be in his late 50s or 60s when he died about 50,000 years ago, had advanced osteoarthritis in his spinal column and hip joint, a study from 2019 had confirmed. However, during that reanalysis, Dr. Martin Haeusler — a specialist in internal medicine and head of the University of Zurich’s Evolutionary Morphology and Adaptation Group at the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine — realized that not all the changes in the bones could be explained by the wear and tear of osteoarthritis. ‘Rather, we found that some of these pathological changes must be due to inflammatory processes,’ he said. ‘A comparison of the entire pattern of the pathological changes found in the La Chapelle-aux-Saints skeleton with many different diseases led us then to the diagnosis of brucellosis.'”
  • A QAnon con: How the viral Wayfairsex trafficking lie hurt real kids. An Internet mob wanted to rescue a 13-year-old girl. Instead, they terrified her, derailed real trafficking investigations and incited ‘save the children’ violence.”
  • ‘Magic dirt’: How the internet fueled, and defeated, the pandemic’s weirdest MLM. Black Oxygen Organics became a sudden hit in the fringe world of alternative medicines and supplements, where even dirt can go for $110 a bag.”—”While individual sellers navigated their new compliance waters, regulatory agencies cracked down. Days after Montaruli’s call, Health Canada announced a recall of Black Oxygen Organics tablets and powders, citing ‘potential health risks which may be higher for children, adolescents, and pregnant or breastfeeding women.’ Further, the regulatory agency noted, ‘The products are being promoted in ways and for uses that have not been evaluated and authorized by Health Canada.’ ‘Stop taking these products,’ the announcement advised.”
  • ‘Anti-5G’ necklaces are radioactive and dangerous, Dutch nuclear experts say. Officials issue product alert and say ‘quantum pendants’ could damage DNA with prolonged use.” Also “Anti-5G necklaces found to be radioactive. Necklaces and accessories claiming to “protect” people from 5G mobile networks have been found to be radioactive.”
  • Watch “QAnon Fans Doubt Their Faith After Nothing Happens In November | Dr. Oz Is Running For Office“—”Stephen reopens The Q Files to check on QAnon followers whose faith was shaken after a string of false predictions failed to materialize in November. In Pennsylvania, a man known for his work as a syndicated TV doctor launched his campaign for a U.S. Senate seat.”
  • The Populist, Millennial Veteran Who Wants to Turn Missouri Blue. Lucas Kunce hopes his campaign against corporations and corruption can launch him into the Senate — and help Democrats win back the working class.”
  • ‘They were willing to let me die in there.’ The sins of Boston police past are leading to overturned convictions and prison releases
  • Hayao Miyazaki Prepares to Cast One Last Spell. No artist has explored the contradictions of humanity as sympathetically and critically as the Japanese animation legend. Now, at 80, he’s coming out of retirement with another movie.”
  • Always Well Groomed. Ghislaine Maxwell looked impeccable. That was the point.”
  • Britney Spears Felt Trapped. Her Business Manager Benefited. Louise Taylor faces questions about whether she improperly enriched herself as the pop star’s business manager.” Also thread—”NEW: Britney Spears’s conservatorship is over but there are still many questions around how her $60 million fortune was managed. At the center of the scrutiny is former business manager Lou Taylor, the owner of Tri Star.”
  • We Live By a Unit of Time That Doesn’t Make Sense. The seven-day week has survived for millennia, despite attempts to make it less chaotic.”
  • Um, uh oh. Snowpiercer and Supertrain are predated by actual fash. “The Insane Giant Nazi Railway – The Breitspurbahn“—”The Breitspurbahn, which translates from the German as broad-gauge railway, was one such mega infrastructure project. ‘Epic’ is the first word that comes to mind when thinking of the immense scale of what was to be a railway network that would criss-cross Europe and beyond.” Reminds me of discovering that what I thought was my novel idea to drain the Mediterranean to get at all the submerged history has a fash predecessor: Atlantropa.
  • Watch “How this house took over the US“—”Why is the Craftsman bungalow everywhere? It’s due to a socialist artist, an entrepreneurial furniture maker, and a real estate movement.”—”Today, historic districts around the US celebrate the Craftsman’s beauty. But how did this style of house become so ubiquitous and so beloved? The above video explores the history of the Craftsman bungalow, from the 1800s Arts & Crafts movement, to its popularization in America, to its commodification in the 1910s and 1920s.”
  • Watch “Finn Mackay: Female Masculinities and the Gender Wars“—”Finn Mackay investigates the current generational shift that is refusing the previous assumed fixity of sex, gender and sexual identity. Transgender and trans rights movements are currently experiencing political backlash. Within these so-called gender wars, feminism and trans people, in particular trans women, are often pitted against one another and portrayed as diametrically opposed. Using queer and female masculinities as a lens, Mackay combines latest research, with personal insight as a masculine-presenting female person, to encourage a more nuanced approach. What is female masculinity? What is the boundary between butch and trans? Can two or more oppositional ideas be true at the same time? In this recorded interview Mackay discusses being a Radical Feminist, identity, and whether we should abolish gender, with Cheryl Morgan.”
  • Watch “What did Popular Music in Ancient Rome sound like?
  • 25 Years Ago, Tim Burton Made a Sci-Fi Classic That Almost Ruined His Career. ‘They punished Tim.'”—”In 1996, a movie about a violent alien invasion and the ragtag attempt to stop it took America by storm. And that movie was… Independence Day. Roland Emmerich’s science fiction epic made over $800 million at the box office and invented a new genre. But in the same year, a very different alien invasion movie debuted with very different results. Released in December 1996 (six months after Independence Day), Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! is less sci-fi epic and more sci-fi parody. Featuring an army of CGI aliens and an impressive cast led by Jack Nicholson, Mars Attacks! confused audiences with its absurdist premise and earned just $100 million on a budget of $70M. In the process, Burton butted heads with Warner Bros., which, according to screenwriter Jonathan Gems, is why the studio canceled his planned follow-up: Superman Lives, set to star Nicolas Cage as the titular hero.
  • Holy heck! They built life-sized modular fantasy gaming terrain! (Also Magda kicks ass!) Watch “The Wheel of Time – A Look Inside Episode 7 | Prime Video“—”Join us again for another installment of our Look Inside the Wheel of Time, where we bring you exclusive cast and crew interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and more. This episode, we’ve got series showrunner Rafe Judkins; episode director Ciaran Donnelly; actors Magdalena Sittova, Rosamund Pike, and Daniel Henney; and production designer Ondrej Nekvasil talking about the making of the best scenes of episode 7 of Wheel of Time.”
  • Watch “How Critical Role’s Long Form Entertainment is Revolutionizing Storytelling“—”Earlier this year, I started listening to Campaign 2 of Critical Role, and soon realised that i had many, many hours of content to get trough. This made me think: What does the fact that this story spans so many hours, do to the storytelling? And is there another artform that operates on the same time scale? In this video, we take alook at Soap operas, Book series and the works of the great stage director Robert Wilson to try to answer those questions.”
  • Head of D&D responds to alignment changes and backlash. Following the release of a raft of D&D errata documents earlier this week, which outlined several changes to the game’s implementation of alignment and racial traits, Wizards of the Coast executive producer and head of D&D Ray Winninger has released an update, clarifying the corrections and further revealing Wizards’ stance on some of the problematic passages found in the D&D 5E sourcebooks.”
  • How to Play Dungeons & Dragons Solo. Adventurers without a party can still play Dungeons & Dragons, and there are plenty of resources available to make solo adventures happen.”
  • A Love Letter to Mystery Science Theater 3000“—”Thirty-three years ago, on November 24, 1988, Mystery Science Theater 3000 premiered on KTMA, a cable access channel in Minneapolis. In human years, the show is out of college by now (probably), maybe trying to buy a home, or start a family. It bristles when Cheers calls it a millennial—it’s always felt like an old soul, with the references to Get Christie Love and Charlie McCarthy, and-three it gets frustrated when other shows consider it shallow. It’s not just a reference factory, after all. There’s real depth and heart here, if you know how to pay attention.”
  • Watch “The INSANE Detail in the new Book of Boba Fett Trailer (you PROBABLY missed)“—”The NEW Trailer for the Book of Boba Fett has an AWESOME callback to the deleted scenes from A New Hope. We talk that and more today!”
  • Watch @0:43 “Things a Sports Commentator Would Never Say | Mock the Week – BBC“—”The Curse of the Commentator … SATAN RISE!”
  • Watch “Automaton | Pixar“—”Pixar Animation Studios is proud to present “Automaton.” A poetic interlude between a reality and an abstraction, this experimental short was produced by artists from Pixar’s Effects team, working in collaboration to create a startlingly original piece of filmmaking.”

Omnium Gatherum: 15dec2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for December 15, 2021

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

  • Is a new kind of religion forming on the internet? Algorithms are surfacing content that combines Christian ideas like prosperity gospel with New Age and non-Western spirituality — along with some conspiracy theories.”
  • Let There Be Money: Understanding Modern Monetary Theory and Basic Income [Amazon] by Scott Santens—”What is money? How is it created? What’s the point of taxes and how should they be implemented? Are federal deficits bad for the economy? Would abolishing poverty lead to higher inflation? Is inflation something to avoid? These are just some of the questions Scott Santens explores in order to answer the biggest question of all about the concept of universal basic income (UBI) and virtually all government spending in general: ‘How do we pay for it?’ Utilizing modern monetary theory (MMT), Santens leads readers through a fascinating journey. He connects the economic dots in a way everyone can understand in order to clearly see the big picture that is humanity’s relationship to money and what’s truly possible with it if used to its maximum potential. With a shift from money-based thinking to resource-based thinking, Santens masterfully communicates the need for MMT to be embraced by policymakers, and the need for MMT advocates to embrace UBI and evidence-based policymaking. MMT’s incorporation of UBI provides us the means to finally build an economy that works for everyone, built with a mindset of abundance on an unconditional foundation of human rights and opportunity for all.”
  • As I sit, mid-December, in t-shirt, shorts and sandals, with my windows wide open for the last 24 hours, and the predicted high of 80 has only gotten to a wild-enough 75: “Newly-confirmed Arctic record 100-degree heat in Siberia setting off climate change ‘alarm bells,’ U.N. says.
  • As Earth Warms, Old Mayhem and Secrets Emerge From the Ice. Climate change is revealing long-frozen artifacts and animals to archaeologists. But the window for study is slender and shrinking.”
  • Thread—”We’ve just published new research in @SciReports – @TravisCoan1, @cboussalis, Mirjam Nanko & myself trained a machine learning model to automatically detect climate misinformation.” “Then we fed 2 decades of denier blogs into the model to construct a 20 year history of climate misinformation. The first result that jumped out at us – attacks on scientists/science were by far the biggest category of climate misinformation. This surprised & disturbed me.” See “Computer‑assisted classification of contrarian claims about climate change—”A growing body of scholarship investigates the role of misinformation in shaping the debate on climate change. Our research builds on and extends this literature by (1) developing and validating a comprehensive taxonomy of climate contrarianism, (2) conducting the largest content analysis to date on contrarian claims, (3) developing a computational model to accurately classify specific claims, and (4) drawing on an extensive corpus from conservative think‑tank (CTTs) websites and contrarian blogs to construct a detailed history of claims over the past 20 years. Our study finds that the claims utilized by CTTs and contrarian blogs have focused on attacking the integrity of climate science and scientists and, increasingly, has challenged climate policy and renewable energy. We further demonstrate the utility of our approach by exploring the influence of corporate and foundation funding on the production and dissemination of specific contrarian claims.”
  • Tweet—”‘Canada is a major oil and gas-producing company, er, country,’ Trudeau says in what was definitely not a Freudian slip.” Tweet—”i mean.” Also “Canada is fake. What Americans think of as their friendly neighbor to the north, if they think of it at all, is a scam.”—”The logic of resource extraction, led by private companies and enforced by the state, is what motivates Canadian policy and justifies Canadian national identity. Canada is three mining companies in a trench coat, wearing a stupid hat and carrying a gun. Scratch the surface, and that’s all that’s underneath it. Canada is fake. But the consequences are real.”
  • Einstein’s theory of general relativity passes one of its toughest tests yet. General relativity remains undefeated.”—”General relativity has withstood perhaps its toughest challenge to date. The theory, which Albert Einstein published in 1916, revolutionized our understanding of physics and the cosmos. It explains gravity as a consequence of space-time’s flexibility: Massive objects warp space-time, creating depressions around which other bodies orbit. Scientists have put general relativity to the test repeatedly over the past 105 years, trying to find situations or circumstances in which it comes up short. They have not yet found one.”
  • NASA craft ‘touches’ sun for 1st time, dives into atmosphere. A NASA spacecraft has officially “touched” the sun, plunging through the unexplored solar atmosphere known as the corona.” Also “NASA craft ‘touches’ sun for 1st time, dives into atmosphere“—A NASA spacecraft has officially “touched” the sun, plunging through the unexplored solar atmosphere known as the corona. Scientists announced the news Tuesday. The Parker Solar Probe actually flew through the corona in April during the spacecraft’s eighth close approach to the sun.”
  • Wormholes may be viable shortcuts through space-time after all, new study suggests. The new theory contradicts earlier predictions that these ‘shortcuts’ would instantly collapse.”
  • Fireball streaks by St. Louis Arch during Leonid meteor shower in EarthCam video.”
  • Archaeologists Find 2,700-Year-Old Assyrian-Style Leather Armor in China. The ancient leather armor, datable to 786-543 BCE, was originally made of about 5,444 smaller scales and 140 larger scales, which, together with leather laces and lining, had a total weight of 4-5 kg.” Also “Scale Armor. 8th–3rd century B.C.” Also “No borders for innovations: A ca. 2700-year-old Assyrian-style leather scale armour in Northwest China.”
  • Israel: Second Synagogue Found in Hometown of Mary Magdalene. Never before have two synagogues been found in the ancient towns of the Galilee dating to the Second Temple era. The new discovery seems to have served the Magdala industrial zone.”
  • Archaeologists Discover 200,000-Year-Old Hand & Footprints That Could Be the World’s Earliest Cave Art.”
  • 3,250-year-old seal belonging to Hittite prince discovered in southern Turkey. Ancient cuneiform tablet dating back 3,400 years also unearthed.”
  • Earliest adorned female infant burial in Europe significant in understanding evolution of personhood“—”Ten thousand years ago, just after the last Ice Age, a group of hunter-gatherers buried an infant girl in a cave in what is now Italy. They entombed her with a rich selection of their treasured beads and pendants, and an eagle-owl talon, signaling their grief and showing that even the youngest females were recognized as full persons in their society. The excavations and analysis of the discovery are published this week in Nature Scientific Reports and offer insight into the early Mesolithic period, from which few recorded burials are known.”
  • Atom laser creates reflective patterns similar to light“—”Cooled to almost absolute zero, atoms not only move in waves like light but also can be focused into shapes called caustics, similar to the reflecting or refracting patterns light makes on the bottom of a swimming pool or through a curved wine glass. In experiments at Washington State University, scientists have developed a technique to see these matter wave caustics by placing attractive or repulsive obstacles in the path of a cold atom laser. The results are curving cusps or folds, upward or downward “V” shapes, which the researchers describe in a paper for Nature Communications. While it is foundational research, these caustics have potential applications for highly precise measurement or timing devices such as interferometers and atomic clocks.”
  • CityU physicists discovered special transverse sound wave“—”Can you imagine sound travels in the same way as light does? A research team at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) discovered a new type of sound wave: the airborne sound wave vibrates transversely and carries both spin and orbital angular momentum like light does. The findings shattered scientists’ previous beliefs about the sound wave, opening an avenue to the development of novel applications in acoustic communications, acoustic sensing and imaging.”
  • Technosignature from Proxima Centauri — and why astronomers rejected it. The forensic analysis of a potential signal from another civilization reveals how challenging the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is likely to become.”
  • Nuclear Crystal Pentagrams! “A Nuclear Test Creates A Forbidden Crystal. This Is the Fivefold Way.“—”In the 1940s, the very first atomic blast deep in the New Mexico desert spawned something that has lain underground all these years, waiting. Something forbidden, something so bizarre that scientists swore it couldn’t exist on Earth. They had found it in meteorites, oh yes, from the depths of space that had come. But this was forged in the radioactive fires of The Bomb, something that could only be born when humans arrogantly tampered with the laws of Nature itself, letting loose the terror of… Icosahedrite, the quasicrystal.”
  • Tweet—”Six Komodo dragons have hatched at the Bronx Zoo! This is the first time the species has successfully bred in our 122 year history. Some of the new hatchlings can currently be seen on exhibit in World of Reptiles.”
  • Exclusive: Facebook owner is behind $60 mln deal for Meta name rights.” Also “Instagram disabled artist’s @metaverse handle after Facebook rebranded to Meta. Thea-Mai Baumann had used the account for more than a decade but it suddenly vanished, taking all her work with it.”
  • At SpaceX, we’re told we can change the world. I couldn’t, however, stop getting sexually harassed. From the man who brought you TITS U, I present SpaceX: an environmentally irresponsible company so rife with sexism, the only remedy is for women to leave.”
  • OSHA opens probe into deadly Amazon warehouse collapse in Illinois. OSHA is investigating a collapse at an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois. The facility collapsed on Friday after a tornado rolled through, killing six employees.” Also Tweet—”This is all that’s left of an Amazon warehouse in Illinois after a tornado struck the building, in what’s being described as a ‘mass casualty event’ by officials. Several tornadoes struck a number of US states overnight, with reports of more than 50 people killed.” Also “Deadly Collapse at Amazon Warehouse Puts Spotlight on Phone Ban. Online retailer is returning to a cell phone ban in warehouses. Workers say they want access to weather alerts, communication.”
  • Tweet—”the people in the mayfield candle factory that collapsed worked 12-hour shifts that paid $8 an hour. 110 ppl were inside. 40 ppl are still unaccounted for. they haven’t recovered a survivor since 3 am.”
  • The Infrastructural Power Beneath the Internet as We Know It. Control over underlying tech infrastructure determines who benefits from it, raising the prospect of alternative ownership and profit models.”—”I’ve lately been trying an exercise where, when reading anything by or about tech companies, I replace uses of the word ‘infrastructure’ with ‘means of production.’ For example, from Facebook’s engineering web page: ‘Our data centers are the cornerstones of the global means of production that brings Facebook apps and services to you every day.'”
  • North America has its first video game union at Vodeo Games. Vodeo Workers United partnered with CODE-CWA.”
  • Activision Blizzard employees launch strike fund, move closer to unionizing.”
  • Kellogg to permanently replace striking employees as workers reject new contract.” Tweet—”What to permanently replace in your pantry.”
  • First U.S. vaccine mandate in 1809 launched 200 years of court battles.” Also “From Smallpox ‘Animal Product’ Fear, to Polio Jab Conspiracy Theory, Vaccine-hesitancy Irks Since 18th Century“—”Wariness and outright hostility to vaccines did not start with Covid-19, they date back to the 18th century when the first shots were given. From real fears sparked by side-effects, to fake studies and conspiracy theories, we take a look at anti-vax sentiment over the ages.”
  • Tweet—”Former US Senate candidate and first Maine resident to catch COVID Max Linn found dead in hot tub after being sued for pulling gun on former aide during cryptocurrency disagreement.” Also “Max Linn, colorful candidate, dead at 62. Linn privately speculated in 2020 that he may have caught COVID-19 during a trip to Wuhan in late 2019.”
  • Pro-Trump counties now have far higher COVID death rates. Misinformation is to blame.”
  • Lee’s Summit refuses to back down on COVID orders after Missouri Attorney General threatens lawsuits“—”A lawyer for the Lee’s Summit School District said the attorney general’s recent letters ordering dozens of school districts to drop their mask mandates and quarantine orders ‘not only lack legal effect — they are simply wrong.'” Also “Missouri flu cases nearly double in a week.”
  • Yale researchers develop mRNA-based lyme disease vaccine. Yale researchers have developed an mRNA vaccine that targets the antigens found in tick saliva in order to alert individuals to tick bites as well as prevent the tick from feeding correctly, thereby reducing its ability to transmit pathogens.”
  • CNN Segment on ‘Extremism’ Equates Racism and Homophobia With ‘Prejudice Against Business People’. John Avlon’s new video series on the ‘threat of extremism’ is an unintentional parody of middlebrow centrist false equivalency schlock.”
  • Tweet thread—”That the vast majority of American media is either owned & operated by the super-wealthy or algorithmically manipulated by them doesn’t bode well for multiracial democracy in this moment of white backlash.”
  • Tweet thread—”Last week, during our last session of my White Backlash graduate course, my students asked me if I thought the U.S. would descend into a civil war during the next decade. I replied that the current situation is much more bleak than that. Here’s why”
  • If you’re celebrating what happened to Steve Bannon, you don’t understand what’s going on behind the scenes. 2024 is coming and loyalties are being tested. This is an audition.”
  • Thinking about Rittenhouse and Right Wing Murder Safaris“—”Court observers appear divided on whether the Kyle Rittenhouse trial is headed to a hung jury or an outright acquittal. Very few seem to think the case is headed toward a conviction. That’s very jarring because many of us see it as obvious that Rittenhouse is unquestionably the guilty party, even if precisely what he is guilty of may be open to interpretation and despite the fact that the nature of self-defense laws in many states give the defense plenty of room to work with even in a case like this. Setting aside the technical components of first degree murder charges where this trial seems deeply unjust. Rittenhouse traveled to Wisconsin loaded for bear looking for trouble, found it and the law says that’s okay. That is compounded by the way the right in the US has made Rittenhouse into a folk hero.”
  • Iowa Republican; felony charges for teachers over ‘obscene’ books. Sen. Brad Zaun said he supported charging teachers who allow students to read “obscene” books, including LGBTQ+ themed books, with felonies.”
  • ‘Teacher Loyalty’ bill would restrict how U.S. history, especially racism, can be discussed in school“—”The proposed bill, HB 1255, is titled ‘An Act Relative to Teachers’ Loyalty,’ and seeks to ban public school teachers from promoting any theory that depicts U.S. history or its founding in a negative light, including the idea that the country was founded on racism. The bill updates a piece of Cold War-era law that bans educators from advocating for communism in schools, and adds additional bans on advocating for socialism and Marxism.”
  • Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun. January 6 was practice. Donald Trump’s GOP is much better positioned to subvert the next election.”
  • Thread—”(Video) Lies and Simplifications I’ve been feeling worn out lately tackling what I’ve been calling ‘simplifications’ or ‘rage-inducing simplifications.’ So I recorded a video taking them all on at once. I’ll have a transcript on my blog shortly.” Watch “Dangerous Lies and Simplifications“—”I begin this video by talking about the nature of the lies generated by the right-wing: the kind you see on right-wing media such as Newsmax. Because the Republican Party has abandoned truth, it’s up to the left to preserve truth. The truth is nuanced and complex. It doesn’t fit well into a soundbite or a tweet. It’s easy to fire off a lie. It’s hard to respond with the truth. This is why the party that wants to spread lies has an advantage over the party that wants to preserve truth. Here’s the problem. What I’m seeing on the left is a proliferation of what we might call “simplifications” that trigger rage. They take complex situations and boil them down to something that seems true and perhaps has some truth in it, but are problematic. Here I analyze these simplifications, explain why they are dangerous, and then suggest solutions.” Read “Dangerous Lies and Simplifications.”
  • New bill quietly gives powers to remove British citizenship without notice. Clause added to nationality and borders bill also appears to allow Home Office to act retrospectively in some cases.”
  • One in 10 staff at government’s gender equality department report harassment. Despite working in division responsible for Australia’s sexual harassment laws, 40% said they did not report it.”
  • US auctions off oil and gas drilling leases in Gulf of Mexico after climate talks. Biden administration launching auction of more than 80m acres for fossil fuel extraction that experts call ‘incredibly reckless’.”—”Just four days after landmark climate talks in Scotland in which Joe Biden vowed the US will ‘lead by example’ in tackling dangerous global heating, the president’s own administration is providing a jarring contradiction – the largest ever sale of oil and gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.” “Jen Psaki, Biden’s press secretary, said on Monday: ‘It’s a legal case and legal process, but it’s important for advocates and other people out there who are following this to understand that it’s not aligned with our view, the president’s policies, or the executive order that he signed.’ But legal experts say the court decision doesn’t, in itself, prevent the administration from stopping or delaying a scheduled lease sale, or from scaling it back.”
  • Thwaites: Antarctic glacier heading for dramatic change. Scientists are warning of dramatic changes at one of the biggest glaciers in Antarctica, potentially within the next five to 10 years.”
  • Arizona students stage hunger strike to urge Sinema to support voting reform. College students say they will be striking indefinitely until Arizona senator agrees to support Freedom to Vote Act.”
  • Newsom to use Texas abortion law tactics to go after assault rifle, ghost gun makers.” Also tweet thread—”BREAKING: California Gov. Gavin Newsom just announced that his administration will make it easier for private citizens to sue people who sell assault rifles and parts for untraceable ghost guns, an approach modeled on Texas’s attempt to prohibit abortions.” Also tweet—”There it is. Best bet? Copy texas S.B. 8 word-for-word, replacing reproductive health terms with firearms manufacture and sale terms.”
  • The open-source investigators trying to bring justice to Myanmar. They’re using pioneering digital forensics to lay the groundwork for future crimes-against-humanity trials.”
  • Thread—”If we know police, lawyers, judges, juries & politicians are all fallible people like everyone else, how do we arrive at this conclusion that they should be sanctioned to murder people? And it’s ok that those murdered are most often Black, poor or disabled? Or even innocent?”
  • White supremacist prison guards work with impunity in Fla.“—”In June, three Florida prison guards who boasted of being white supremacists beat, pepper sprayed and used a stun gun on an inmate who screamed ‘I can’t breathe!’ at a prison near the Alabama border, according to a fellow inmate who reported it to the state. The next day, the officers at Jackson Correctional Institution did it again to another inmate, the report filed with the Florida Department of Corrections’ Office of Inspector General stated. ‘If you notice these two incidents were people of color. They (the guards) let it be known they are white supremacist,’ the inmate Jamaal Reynolds wrote. ‘The Black officers and white officers don’t even mingle with each other. Every day they create a hostile environment trying to provoke us so they can have a reason to put their hands on us.'”
  • Workers at federal prisons are committing some of the crimes“—”More than 100 federal prison workers have been arrested, convicted or sentenced for crimes since the start of 2019, including a warden indicted for sexual abuse, an associate warden charged with murder, guards taking cash to smuggle drugs and weapons, and supervisors stealing property such as tires and tractors. An Associated Press investigation has found that the federal Bureau of Prisons, with an annual budget of nearly $8 billion, is a hotbed of abuse, graft and corruption, and has turned a blind eye to employees accused of misconduct. In some cases, the agency has failed to suspend officers who themselves had been arrested for crimes.”
  • Judge Spares Man in Teen Rape Case: ‘Incarceration Isn’t Appropriate’. The man, Christopher Belter, had pleaded guilty in the sexual assaults of four teens. He faced eight years in prison, but a judge sentenced him to probation instead.”
  • The Editorial Board: Judge’s nonsensical gag order violates his oath and serves no legal purpose“—”We don’t know what came over Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III last week, but it wasn’t the law. Murphy had no legal standing to order news outlets, including The Buffalo News, not to publish the name of a 20-year-old rapist whose family lives in a mansion in Lewiston. But he did anyway. The ruling wasn’t merely lawless, it was weird. The man’s name had previously been reported by Western New York news outlets, and repeatedly. The court hearing in which the judge issued his nonsensical order was open to the public, so anyone there could have spread it on social media. The name is available through online searches. But most of all, the order was an abuse of authority – the kind that gets judges overruled and sometimes disciplined.”
  • Judge Tries to Block New York Times’s Coverage of Project Veritas. The state court order, which The Times said it would immediately oppose, raised concerns from First Amendment advocates.”
  • Sapelo Island’s Geechee population fight development, sea-level rise, land loss to preserve culture.”
  • David Gulpilil: Profound legacy of a trailblazing Aboriginal actor. One of Australia’s greatest actors, David Gulpilil (Kingfisher) Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu, died last week aged 68, following a battle with lung cancer. In accordance with custom he will be returned to the place of his birth, known to Aboriginal people as his Country, for ceremony.”
  • Oxford postgrad says sexual assault complaint was met with hostility. Open letter condemning Harriet’s treatment has been signed by hundreds of students and supporters.”
  • The End of Gendering Wine. As the vocabulary of wine evolves, can it escape the gendered frameworks that forged it?”—”In traditional wine writing, education and marketing, gendered language has been used to describe everything from texture to geographical region to level of skin contact. Structured wines are masculine. Velvety wines, feminine. Rich, tannic Napa reds are for him, while satiny, pink Provençal rosé is for her. In Robert Parker’s 2002 Wine Buyer’s Guide, the terms are deployed no fewer than 75 times each, with ‘masculine’ appearing most often in association with the words ‘powerful’ and ‘muscular,’ and ‘feminine’ coinciding with ‘supple’ or ‘sexy.’ Today, it’s commonplace to hear the descriptor ‘slutty’ wielded to describe a particularly aromatic sauvignon blanc, or ‘mom wine’ used in correlation with a particularly suburban marketing sector.”
  • ‘This isn’t the 60s again’: psychedelics business takes off amid culture clash. Experts fear if psychedelics fall exclusively into the hands of big pharma the industry will follow the same path as legal marijuana, making the rich richer.”
  • The labor shortage is a health problem“—”Almost half of unemployed Americans say health issues are the primary reason they’re not working, according to new survey data from McKinsey, shared exclusively with Axios.”
  • Health costs during pandemic pushed over half a billion people into poverty.”
  • How—and Why—America Criminalizes Poverty. Tony Messenger on a Neverending Cycle.”—”It’s hard not to call this what it is: the criminalization of poverty. The process starts with…the trampling of due-process rights as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.” Excerpt from Profit and Punishment: How America Criminalizes the Poor in the Name of Justice [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Tony Messenger—”In Profit and Punishment, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist exposes the tragedy of modern-day debtors prisons, and how they destroy the lives of poor Americans swept up in a system designed to penalize the most impoverished. As a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Tony Messenger has spent years in county and municipal courthouses documenting how poor Americans are convicted of minor crimes and then saddled with exorbitant fines and fees. If they are unable to pay, they are often sent to prison, where they are then charged a pay-to-stay bill, in a cycle that soon creates a mountain of debt that can take years to pay off. These insidious penalties are used to raise money for broken local and state budgets, often overseen by for-profit companies, and it is one of the central issues of the criminal justice reform movement. In the tradition of Evicted and The New Jim Crow, Messenger has written a call to arms, shining a light on a two-tiered system invisible to most Americans. He introduces readers to three single mothers caught up in this system: living in poverty in Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Carolina, whose lives are upended when minor offenses become monumental financial and personal catastrophes. As these women struggle to clear their debt and move on with their lives, readers meet the dogged civil rights advocates and lawmakers fighting by their side to create a more equitable and fair court of justice. In this remarkable feat of reporting, Tony Messenger exposes injustice that is agonizing and infuriating in its mundane cruelty, as he champions the rights and dignity of some of the most vulnerable Americans.”
  • ‘Worker Data Science’ Can Teach Us How to Fix the Gig Economy. Gig workers are asking to see the algorithms that govern their labor. Their fight has important lessons for creating equitable workplaces for all.”
  • South Dakota teachers scramble for dollar bills in ‘demeaning’ game. Company behind the competition apologises after footage showing teachers stuffing notes into clothing to fund classrooms goes viral.” Also “South Dakota teachers scramble for dollar bills to buy classroom supplies in half-time game – video. A competition pitting 10 teachers against each other to scramble for dollar bills to fund school supplies in a city in South Dakota has been described as ‘demeaning’ and drawn comparisons with the hit Netflix series Squid Game. The local Argus Leader newspaper reported that $5,000 (£3,770) in single dollar bills was laid out on the ice skating ring during the Sioux Falls Stampede hockey game on Saturday night, and the teachers from nearby schools competed to grab as many as possible in less than five minutes.”
  • Wheel of Time improved a fantasy saga’s gender binary in just six episodes. The show’s One Power works differently than in Robert Jordan’s books.”
  • Tweet—”New year, new universe. Watch the trailer for EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, an epic sci-fi/kung fu adventure from mad geniuses @Daniels and starring legends only, Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, James Hong, and Jamie Lee Curtis. In Theaters March 25!” Watch “Everything Everywhere All At Once | Official Trailer HD | A24“—”A film from Daniels and starring Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., with James Hong and Jamie Lee Curtis. EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE – In Theaters March 25, 2022! #EverythingEverywhere RELEASE DATE: March 25, 2022 DIRECTOR: Daniels CAST: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., with James Hong and Jamie Lee Curtis.” Tweet—”finally someone understands what I want in a movie: an infinite number of Michelle Yeohs.” Also get your promotional 100-pack of googly eyes in the A24 shop.
  • Watch “NIGHTMARE ALLEY | Neo Noir Featurette“—”In NIGHTMARE ALLEY, an ambitious carny (Bradley Cooper) with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words hooks up with a female psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett) who is even more dangerous than he is. Directed by: Guillermo del Toro Cast: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, David Strathairn.”
  • The Expanse | Designing the Belter Creole Accent and Language.” Tweet—”A lot of careful work and thought and respect went into the development of lang belta.”
  • Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Preview – We Visited the Star Wars Hotel! A hotel experience far, far away from anything we’ve ever experienced.”
  • Stranger Kings, Dice, and Authority From Beyond“—”I always felt curious about why, in the creative space of tabletop roleplaying games, we developed such a fixation with dice.”
  • Dungeons and Dragons tavern, adventure castle proposed for Lake Geneva“—”Lake Geneva is the birthplace of the now famous Dungeons and Dragons fantasy game, where players create a role playing adventure. Now, Daniel Colwell wants to take the fantasy game to the next level by creating Griffin & Gargoyle Tavern, an immersive themed restaurant and amusement center in Lake Geneva.” Also “Dungeons & Dragons-Themed Immersive Restaurant Announced.”
  • Lord of the Rings keycap sets will transport your keyboard to Middle-earth. Type in either Elvish or Dwarvish with new keycaps on Drop.”
  • Tweet—”Meet Ji-Young — the first Asian American muppet on ‘Sesame Street.’ She is Korean American and has two passions: rocking out on her electric guitar and skateboarding. She’ll be formally introduced in a special that drops on Thanksgiving.”
  • The inner lives of cats: what our feline friends really think about hugs, happiness and humans. They do what they want, all the time – and can teach us a lot about how to live in the present, be content and learn from our experience.” In part about Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by John Gray—”The author of Straw Dogs, famous for his provocative critiques of scientific hubris and the delusions of progress and humanism, turns his attention to cats—and what they reveal about humans’ torturous relationship to the world and to themselves. The history of philosophy has been a predictably tragic or comical succession of palliatives for human disquiet. Thinkers from Spinoza to Berdyaev have pursued the perennial questions of how to be happy, how to be good, how to be loved, and how to live in a world of change and loss. But perhaps we can learn more from cats–the animal that has most captured our imagination–than from the great thinkers of the world. In Feline Philosophy, the philosopher John Gray discovers in cats a way of living that is unburdened by anxiety and self-consciousness, showing how they embody answers to the big questions of love and attachment, mortality, morality, and the Self: Montaigne’s house cat, whose un-examined life may have been the one worth living; Meo, the Vietnam War survivor with an unshakable capacity for ‘fearless joy’; and Colette’s Saha, the feline heroine of her subversive short story ‘The Cat’, a parable about the pitfalls of human jealousy. Exploring the nature of cats, and what we can learn from it, Gray offers a profound, thought-provoking meditation on the follies of human exceptionalism and our fundamentally vulnerable and lonely condition. He charts a path toward a life without illusions and delusions, revealing how we can endure both crisis and transformation, and adapt to a changed scene, as cats have always done.”
  • NFTs! Collect them all. No really. “The Billion Dollar Torrent (all NFT’s from Ethereum & Solana).” Also “Keanu Reeves doesn’t get the NFT hype either. Neo is a HODLer.” Watch “Keanu Reeves on NFTs: LAUGHING HISTERICALLY – Keanu Reeves The Verge Interview.”
  • Back from Italy, they’ve arrived in Texas! “Dozens of feral hogs invade Southeast Texas neighborhood.”
  • Tweet thread—”In 1918, there was a lesbian spy network working to “exterminate the manhood of Britain” called The Cult of The Clitoris… Except actually, there wasn’t. It was a fake news scandal that somehow won a libel trial. This is the story of the sapphic cult that wasn’t.”

Omnium Gatherum: 12dec2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for December 12, 2021

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

  • Tweet—”Earlier tonight, my mother, Anne Rice, passed away due to complications resulting from a stroke. She left us almost nineteen years to the day my father, her husband Stan, died. Below is a statement I posted to her Facebook page moments ago.” Tweet thread—”#RIP to the Queen of the Goths. Two first paperback printings of Lasher, one with gold detail, one with silver. The kind of thing my tiny bibliographic brain can’t pass up when dollar book hunting.” “Rice is far from an unproblematic writer but her work has been a lifeline for queers and weirdos for decades.” Also “RIP, Anne Rice.” Tweet—”Oh wow… Goodnight Anne Rice. Your journey was a journey, but you gave the culture so much, and so many foundational things. Thank you.” Tweet—”Hoping the ghosts of Anne Rice and Vicente Fernández hook up and solve erotic supernatural mysteries together.”
  • The world’s oldest story? Astronomers say global myths about ‘seven sisters’ stars may reach back 100,000 years“—”Similar ‘lost Pleiad’ stories are found in European, African, Asian, Indonesian, Native American and Aboriginal Australian cultures. Many cultures regard the cluster as having seven stars, but acknowledge only six are normally visible, and then have a story to explain why the seventh is invisible.” ‘All modern humans are descended from people who lived in Africa before they began their long migrations to the far corners of the globe about 100,000 years ago. Could these stories of the seven sisters be so old? Did all humans carry these stories with them as they travelled to Australia, Europe, and Asia? Careful measurements with the Gaia space telescope and others show the stars of the Pleiades are slowly moving in the sky. One star, Pleione, is now so close to the star Atlas they look like a single star to the naked eye. But if we take what we know about the movement of the stars and rewind 100,000 years, Pleione was further from Atlas and would have been easily visible to the naked eye. So 100,000 years ago, most people really would have seen seven stars in the cluster.”
  • A Philosopher’s Defense of Anger. The scholar Myisha Cherry discusses rage as a tool in the fight against racial injustice.” About The Case for Rage: Why Anger Is Essential to Anti-Racist Struggle [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Myisha Cherry—”When it comes to injustice, especially racial injustice, rage isn’t just an acceptable response-it’s crucial in order to fuel the fight for change. Anger has a bad reputation. Many people think that it is counterproductive, distracting, and destructive. It is a negative emotion, many believe, because it can lead so quickly to violence or an overwhelming fury. And coming from people of color, it takes on connotations that are even more sinister, stirring up stereotypes, making white people fear what an angry other might be capable of doing, when angry, and leading them to turn to hatred or violence in turn, to squelch an anger that might upset the racial status quo. According to philosopher Myisha Cherry, anger does not deserve its bad reputation. It is powerful, but its power can be a force for good. And not only is it something we don’t have to discourage, it’s something we ought to cultivate actively. People fear anger because they paint it in broad strokes, but we can’t dismiss all anger, especially not now. There is a form of anger that in fact is crucial in the anti-racist struggle today. This anti-racist anger, what Cherry calls “Lordean rage,” can use its mighty force to challenge racism: it aims for change, motivates productive action, builds resistance, and is informed by an inclusive and liberating perspective. People can, and should, harness Lordean rage and tap into its unique anti-racist potential. We should not suppress it or seek to replace it with friendly emotions. If we want to effect change, and take down racist structures and systems, we must manage it in the sense of cultivating it, and keeping it focused and strong. Cherry makes her argument for anti-racist anger by putting Aristotle in conversation with Audre Lorde, and James Baldwin in conversation with Joseph Butler. The Case for Rage not only uses the tools of philosophy to articulate its arguments, but it sharpens them with the help of social psychology and history. The book is philosophically rich and yet highly accessible beyond philosophical spheres, issuing an urgent call to all politically and socially engaged readers looking for new, deeply effective tools for changing the world. Its message will resonate with the enraged and those witnessing such anger, wondering whether it can help or harm. Above all, this book is a resource for the activist coming to grips with a seemingly everyday emotion that she may feel rising up within her and not know what to do with. It shows how to make sure anger doesn’t go to waste, but instead leads to lasting, long-awaited change.”
  • Memento Mori. Philosopher John Martin Fischer Has Been Thinking About Death, and It’s Made Him a Happier Person.” By John Martin Fischer, author of Death, Immortality, and Meaning in Life [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”The most recent addition to the Fundamentals of Philosophy series, John Martin Fischer’s Death, Immortality, and Meaning in Life offers a brief yet in-depth introduction to the key philosophical issues and problems concerning death and immortality. Its engaging and accessible narrative is clearly organized into ten chapters that address meaning in life, death, the badness of death, time and death, ideas on immortality, near-death experiences, and extending life through medical technology.”
  • Can We Still Bump N’ Grind to R. Kelly? To Grapple with the Immorality of Artists We May Have to Go Through Their Art.” By Erich Hatala Matthes, author of Drawing the Line: What to Do with the Work of Immoral Artists from Museums to the Movies [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”Can we still watch Woody Allen’s movies? Can we still laugh at Bill Cosby’s jokes? Woody Allen, Kevin Spacey, Dave Chappelle, Louis C. K., J.K. Rowling, Michael Jackson, Roseanne Barr. Recent years have proven rife with revelations about the misdeeds, objectional views, and, in some instances, crimes of popular artists. Spurred in part by the #metoo movement, and given more access than ever thanks to social media and the internet in general, the public has turned an alert and critical eye upon the once-hidden lives of previously cherished entertainers. But what should we members of the public do, think, and feel in response to these artists’ actions or statements? It’s a predicament that many of us face: whether it’s possible to disentangle the deeply unsettled feelings we have toward an artist from how we respond to the art they produced. As consumers of art, and especially as fans, we have a host of tricky moral question to navigate: do the moral lives of artists affect the aesthetic quality of their work? Is it morally permissible for us to engage with or enjoy that work? Should immoral artists and their work be “canceled”? Most of all, can we separate an artist from their art? In Drawing the Line, Erich Hatala Matthes employs the tools of philosophy to offer insight and clarity to the ethical questions that dog us. He argues that it doesn’t matter whether we can separate the art from the artist, because we shouldn’t. While some dismiss the lives of artists as if they are irrelevant to the artist’s work, and others instrumentalize artwork, treating it as nothing more than a political tool, Matthes argues both that the lives of artists can play an important role in shaping our moral and aesthetic relationship to the artworks that we love and that these same artworks offer us powerful resources for grappling with the immorality of their creators. Rather than shunning art made by those who have been canceled, shamed, called out, or even arrested, we should engage with it all the more thoughtfully and learn from the complexity it forces us to confront. Recognizing the moral and aesthetic relationships between art and artist is crucial to determining when and where we should draw the line when good artists do bad things.”
  • Zazen.” Excerpt from Zazen [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Vanessa Veselka—”Somewhere in Della’s consumptive, industrial wasteland of a city, a bomb goes off. It is not the first, and will not be the last. Reactions to the attacks are polarized. Police activity intensifies. Della’s revolutionary parents welcome the upheaval but are trapped within their own insular beliefs. Her activist restaurant co-workers, who would rather change their identities than the world around them, resume a shallow rebellion of hair-dye, sex parties, and self-absorption. As those bombs keep inching closer, thudding deep and real between the sounds of katydids fluttering in the still of the city night, and the destruction begins to excite her. What begins as terror threats called in to greasy bro-bars across the block boils over into a desperate plot, intoxicating and captivating Della and leaving her little chance for escape. Zazen unfolds as a search for clarity soured by irresolution and catastrophe, yet made vital by the thin, wild veins of imagination run through each escalating moment, tensing and relaxing, unfurling and ensnaring. Vanessa Veselka renders Della and her world with beautiful, freighting, and phantasmagorically intelligent accuracy, crafting from their shattered constitutions a perversely perfect mirror for our own selves and state.”
  • How Do You Find a Book When You Can’t Remember the Title or the Author?. Marina Luz Mines on the Language We Use to Describe Forgotten Literature.” Excerpt from A Library of Misremembered Books: When We’re Searching for a Book but Have Forgotten the Title [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Marina Luz—”How do you find a book when you can’t recall the title.or the author? This homage to a common reader’s dilemma is a gift the booklover in your life won’t soon forget. Readers know all too well the comedy and tragedy of forgetting the name of a must-find book. Inspired by this torturous predicament, artist Marina Luz creates paintings of books based on the descriptions we use when we can’t remember their titles—mining Internet book-search forums for the quirky, vague, and often hilarious language we come up with in these moments. This volume collects dozens of these imaginary books into a library all their own: Titles like ‘Cat, Possibly Named Henry,’ ‘It Was All a Dream,’ or ‘Something-Something, Beverly Hills’ inspire dreaming up their contents, often as entertaining as trying to guess the real book behind them. A celebration of book love unlike any other, this petite book is a clever gift for bibliophiles that will spark knowing smiles.”
  • The Galaxy of Philosophy“—”Last month we launched a print store with 11 ‘field posters’ designed by the great Nadieh Bremer. These are very large 36″x48″ high-res posters that map the top 600 or so titles in different fields. The size of a dot indicates how often a title is assigned. Titles cluster and are colored based on how often they are assigned together. In addition to being gorgeous, our bet is that they are also instructive for students looking to develop an overall grasp of complex fields. Posters cost $54.99 and sales support the work of Open Syllabus.” “One interesting thing about this layout, from my perspective, is that it doesn’t strongly reproduce my mental map of the field — which was formed through a political theory education that privileged a division between anglo/analytic and continental traditions. You can find those divisions, but the field overall includes a lot of ‘cross canonical’ works that are taught across multiple themes and traditions. It’s also interesting to compare to the place of philosophy in the larger ‘co-assignment galaxy,’ which maps a much wider array of titles across syllabi from all fields.”
  • A new study shows that UK school libraries are still very, very white.“—”Researchers from the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, and Keele University surveyed schools across England about the diversity of their libraries, and 65% of the respondents said less than 15% of their school library books featured BIPOC characters. (For comparison, slightly over a third of UK students are BIPOC.) A whopping 92% of school staff surveyed said they were dissatisfied with the current diversity of their school library. Many respondents said they felt powerless to change the diversity of their school library: some due to budget constraints, some due to a lack of children’s books with BIPOC main characters, some due simply to a lack of knowledge on where to find existing children’s books with BIPOC main characters. This isn’t solely a library curation issue: according to the researchers, only 7% of all children’s books published in the UK between 2017 and 2019 contained non-white characters, and only 5% contained non-white main characters. In 2019, nearly 90% of teachers in UK state-funded schools were white. In the face of this data, the researchers called for several action points: for dedicated funding, either central government funds or funds sourced from fundraising events, to stock school libraries with diverse books; for schools to audit their libraries and identify gaps in their collections; and for publishers to address the racial imbalance of the books and authors they represent.”
  • A close-reading of 5 music videos that take place in libraries.”—”Look, books make me want to dance, too. And while some libraries have a “no talking” policy, you have to admit: they didn’t say anything about singing! So because it’s Monday and you might need this, please enjoy the best music videos in recent history (is there any other, for music videos?) to take place in your favorite quiet reading zone: the library.”
  • Simpsons Library. Collecting all books, magazines and printed material from The Simpsons.”
  • All the Fast Food You Love Contains Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals, Study Finds. Cheeseburgers and chicken burritos had especially high levels of phthalates and similar substances.”
  • Scientists find strange black ‘superionic ice’ that could exist inside other planets. UChicago and Carnegie scientists see new state of matter at high temperature, pressure.”—”Everyone knows about ice, liquid and vapor—but, depending on the conditions, water can actually form more than a dozen different structures. Scientists have now added a new phase to the list: superionic ice. This type of ice forms at extremely high temperatures and pressures, such as those deep inside planets like Neptune and Uranus. Previously, superionic ice had only been glimpsed in a brief instant as scientists sent a shockwave through a droplet of water, but in a new study published in Nature Physics, scientists found a way to reliably create, sustain, and examine the ice.”
  • NASA wants to buy SLS rockets at half price, fly them into the 2050s. The agency wants the rocket to become a “sustainable and affordable system.”
  • Three Under-recognized Hazards of Digital Recording“—”Few people are sufficiently wary of digital recording—audio, video, and even photography. I want to discuss three massively under-appreciated hazards of modern-day recording: (1) unending, unbounded moral judgment; (2) tarnished reputational connotations; and (3) tarnished self-perception. These hazards are so significant that in our present technological milieu, almost every person has reason to avoid subjection to digital recording whenever possible.”
  • Let’s All Try Shutting Up a Bit More“—”Following up on Chris Hayes’s piece about just how public all of our lives have become, Ian Bogost has a great piece for The Atlantic. In it, he speculates on other ways social media could work. ‘It’s long past time to question a fundamental premise of online life: What if people shouldn’t be able to say so much, and to so many, so often?’ I’ve long phrased this more crudely: More people should shut up more often.”
  • Scientists Built an AI to Give Ethical Advice, But It Turned Out Super Racist“—”We’ve all been in situations where we had to make tough ethical decisions. Why not dodge that pesky responsibility by outsourcing the choice to a machine learning algorithm? That’s the idea behind Ask Delphi, a machine-learning model from the Allen Institute for AI. You type in a situation (like ‘donating to charity’) or a question (‘is it okay to cheat on my spouse?’), click ‘Ponder,’ and in a few seconds Delphi will give you, well, ethical guidance. The project launched last week, and has subsequently gone viral online for seemingly all the wrong reasons. Much of the advice and judgements it’s given have been… fraught, to say the least.” Also “Delphi: Towards Machine Ethics and Norms“—”What would it take to teach a machine to behave ethically? While broad ethical rules may seem straightforward to state (“thou shalt not kill”), applying such rules to real-world situations is far more complex. For example, while “helping a friend” is generally a good thing to do, “helping a friend spread fake news” is not. We identify four underlying challenges towards machine ethics and norms: (1) an understanding of moral precepts and social norms; (2) the ability to perceive real-world situations visually or by reading natural language descriptions; (3) commonsense reasoning to anticipate the outcome of alternative actions in different contexts; (4) most importantly, the ability to make ethical judgments given the interplay between competing values and their grounding in different contexts (e.g., the right to freedom of expression vs. preventing the spread of fake news). Our paper begins to address these questions within the deep learning paradigm. Our prototype model, Delphi, demonstrates strong promise of language-based commonsense moral reasoning, with up to 92.1% accuracy vetted by humans. This is in stark contrast to the zero-shot performance of GPT-3 of 52.3%, which suggests that massive scale alone does not endow pre-trained neural language models with human values. Thus, we present Commonsense Norm Bank, a moral textbook customized for machines, which compiles 1.7M examples of people’s ethical judgments on a broad spectrum of everyday situations. In addition to the new resources and baseline performances for future research, our study provides new insights that lead to several important open research questions: differentiating between universal human values and personal values, modeling different moral frameworks, and explainable, consistent approaches to machine ethics.”
  • This Air Force Targeting AI Thought It Had a 90% Success Rate. It Was More Like 25%. Too little of the right kind of data can throw off target algorithms. But try telling the algorithm that.”—”But Simpson said the low accuracy rate of the algorithm wasn’t the most worrying part of the exercise. While the algorithm was only right 25 percent of the time, he said, ‘It was confident that it was right 90 percent of the time, so it was confidently wrong. And that’s not the algorithm’s fault. It’s because we fed it the wrong training data.’ Simpson said that such results don’t mean the Air Force should stop pursuing AI for object and target detection. But it does serve as a reminder of how vulnerable AI can be to adversarial action in the form of data spoofing. It also shows that AI, like people, can suffer from overconfidence.”
  • Sarco suicide capsule hopes to enter Switzerland. A 3D-printed capsule destined for use in assisted suicide hopes to operate in Switzerland, according to Exit International, the organisation that developed the ‘Sarco’ machine.”
  • ‘The internet’s on fire’ as techs race to fix software flaw“—”A software vulnerability exploited in the online game Minecraft is rapidly emerging as a major threat to internet-connected devices around the world. ‘The internet’s on fire right now,’ said Adam Meyers, senior vice president of intelligence at the cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike. ‘People are scrambling to patch and there are script kiddies and all kinds of people scrambling to exploit it.’ He said Friday morning that in the 12 hours since the bug’s existence was disclosed that it had been “fully weaponized,” meaning that malefactors have developed and distributed tools to exploit. The flaw may be the worst computer vulnerability discovered in years. It opens a loophole in software code that is ubiquitous in cloud servers and enterprise software used across industry and government. It could allow criminals or spies to loot valuable data, plant malware or erase crucial information, and much more.” Also tweet—”As relevant as it’s ever been.”
  • Activision Blizzard employees launch strike fund, move closer to unionizing.”
  • Tweet thread—”I used to respect Starbucks as a smart, innovative company. BUT I’ve lost respect for Starbucks because of the dirty, hardball tactics it has used against the unionization drive in Buffalo: It closed a store where 80% of the workers signed pro-union cards. Starbucks executives say it should be up to the employees whether they want a union. But Starbucks has mounted one of the most intense & aggressive anti-union efforts I’ve ever seen to pressure its Buffalo workers to vote against the union.” Also “Starbucks launches aggressive anti-union effort as upstate New York stores organize. Management urges baristas to reject the union at mandatory ‘listening’ sessions and shuts stores holding drives.” Also “Starbucks workers at a Buffalo store unionize in a big symbolic win for labor” and “What the first Starbucks union means for workers everywhere. A company-owned Starbucks in New York state is the first in the US to unionize.”
  • Tweet—”This excellent thread highlights the constant ethical bind of trying to survive under late-stage capitalism as people die, and the environment burns.” Tweet thread—”Love folks threatening not to back Kickstarters on Twitter, the company whose wealth financed Celo, the blockchain platform KS plans to use. But I’m typing this on a blood-soaked iPhone in my apartment on stolen land, so what do I know? God, I’m so tired.”
  • Tweet—”Yes, it’s a Ponzi scheme. But who cares? So are the dollars in your pocket.” Tweet—”…They just said it right out loud. I’ve said since the start that cryptocurrency was the chance for everyone to realize that money isn’t real and that value is literally what we make it. But we truly & fully missed the boat there, didn’t we? Capitalism really does co-opt all.” Tweet—”You say fiat currency is a Ponzi scheme, but i think you mean turtle stack, and also why not go the rest of the way and ABOLISH CAPITALISM”
  • The price of ‘freedom’: How anti-lockdown protest leaders make money from the movement. You can buy caps and t-shirts, pseudo-medical COVID treatments, even social media sites and legal advice – it’s all part of the deal when you are marching for freedom.”
  • Watch “Pandemic Ethics | Peter Singer“—”Rebecca Tuvel, Dan Cullen and Eric Samson interview Peter Singer about pandemic ethics. Are lockdowns and mandatory vaccines morally justified? What should governments have done differently? Why were there calls to cancel this lecture?”
  • ‘Unvaxxed Sperm’ Is Trying to Become the Anti-Vax Bitcoin. It’s based on the false anti-vax belief that COVID vaccines affect fertility and that the sperm of unvaccinated people will be worth a fortune one day.”
  • Tweet—”Both I and Michael Phelps know how to swim.”
  • Texas man gets 10 years for shooting man in eye with paintball in protest“—”An Oregon court has sentenced a self-proclaimed member of the Proud Boys to 10 years in prison for shooting a man in the eye with a paintball gun during a protest last year.”
  • Tweet—”Hi it’s December 2021, and it’s now literally in writing that senior advisers to the ex president of the United States plotted to declare a bogus national emergency to cancel a national election and seize the government by military force.”
  • Tweet—”Police bodycam video recorded on Jan. 4, 2021, shows Trevian Kutti, a publicist for hip-hop artist Kanye West, telling a Georgia election worker who former President Trump falsely accused of manipulating votes that she was in imminent danger.” Also “Two election workers break silence after enduring Trump backers’ threats.” Tweet thread—”I mean, reality is just word salad now.”
  • An Open Letter in Defense of Democracy. The future of democracy in the United States is in danger.”—”We are writers, academics, and political activists who have long disagreed about many things. Some of us are Democrats and others Republicans. Some identify with the left, some with the right, and some with neither. We have disagreed in the past, and we hope to be able to disagree, productively, for years to come. Because we believe in the pluralism that is at the heart of democracy. But right now we agree on a fundamental point: We need to join together to defend liberal democracy.”
  • Don’t be fooled: The Supreme Court’s Texas abortion decision is a big defeat for Roe v. Wade. Justice Neil Gorsuch’s majority opinion is sneaky, underhanded, and a big blow to abortion rights.”
  • Abortion is a Public Good. The right to reproductive health and agency is a compelling state interest.”
  • Feds bust ‘modern-day slavery’ ring amid new immigration enforcement effort. At least 100 immigrant workers were freed from conditions in which at least two died, another was repeatedly raped, and others were kidnapped and threatened with death.”
  • Leaked SoCal hospital records reveal huge, automated markups for healthcare. Screenshots of a system used by Scripps Memorial Hospital show markups of as much as 675% being imposed automatically during treatment.”
  • Australia’s coal-fired power plants likely to shut almost three times faster than expected, report suggests. Latest blueprint by Aemo says grid has already ‘outpaced all expectations’ and anticipates ninefold increase in wind and solar by 2050.”
  • The Evolution of the Mad Scientist. The crazed caricature of genius was largely inspired by now-debunked late-Victorian ideas about how species change.”—”In the pages of the Mind, scientists argued (using what Stiles calls “surprisingly unscientific” rationale) that “mankind had evolved larger brains at the expense of muscular strength, reproductive capacity, and moral sensibility.” Scientists worried about the potential to pass genius (and, by extension, insanity) on to future generations. Of course, many also conceded that “extraordinary men were relatively unlikely to reproduce,” with one scientist blaming “shy, odd manners, often met with in young persons of genius,” according to Stiles. But what if these nerds did reproduce? Working from Lamarckian theories of evolution, these scientists hypothesized that the more humans relied on their brains, the weaker the rest of their bodies would become. “One possible conclusion of rapid Lamarckian brain evolution, then, was a species of morally insane beings boasting enormous cerebrums and minuscule bodies,” writes Stiles.” See also “Literature in ‘Mind’: H. G. Wells and the Evolution of the Mad Scientist” by Anne Stiles, Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 70, No. 2 (Apr., 2009), pp. 317-339.
  • How do People Think the Mind and the Brain Interact?“—”A common view among cognitive scientists is that people are dualists about the mind and the brain. According to this view, people intuitively believe that the mind is fundamentally different from the brain, and that the two can interact with each other. Empirical evidence also seems to support this view of people as intuitive dualists: For example, in survey studies people often agree with statements such as ones describing the mind as ‘a special form of energy that is in contact with the brain’, or stating that the mind interacts with the brain to determine behavior. However, there is reason to suspect that lay intuitions may be more complex than the two simple tenets of intuitive dualism.”
  • Inquiries into the Future of Cosmopolitanism“—”Cosmopolitanism has received increasing attention in recent years as the global nature of the modern world and the multicultural dimensions of contemporary societies become ever more salient. Nevertheless, accounts of the conception and practice of cosmopolitanism remain controversial, primarily because they tend to employ only the characteristic approaches and address only the particular concerns of contemporary Anglo-American philosophy. The U.S.-China Research Group on Cosmopolitanism brings together nine scholars from the United States and the Chinese cultural sphere with the aim of pursuing a structured dialogue around theoretical and practical problems related to cosmopolitanism. In order to initiate the group’s inquiry into the nature and future of cosmopolitanism, each participant has composed a short reflection describing her or his initial thoughts on the topic. These are presented as points of departure for an ongoing conversation that will be carried by your criticisms, comments, and suggestions, which we invite and appreciate.”
  • Nature Is Becoming a Person. How to make sense of the new global trend that grants legal rights to animals, plants, and rivers.”
  • Reimagining political philosophy: on Charles Mills. Charles Mills, who died earlier this year, was a model for a political philosophy engaged with subjects the discipline had systematically ignored, first among them race and racism.”
  • Multiculturalism, Animal Rights and Inclusive Citizenship.” Interview with philosopher Will Kymlicka. “The fact that multiculturalism policies have not generally weakened the welfare state suggests that most countries have found a way to reconcile multiculturalism and national solidarity: we might say that they are working out in practice a kind of multicultural nationalism. But this raises a theoretical puzzle. Most theorists of nationalism – such as David Miller – argue that multiculturalism necessarily undermines national solidarity, by weakening a sense of common identity or sense of belonging. Conversely, many theorists of multiculturalism argue that nationalism is inherently antithetical to multiculturalism: that nationalism is inherently prone to exclusion or assimilation of minorities, and so multiculturalism can only thrive in a post-national world. So nationalists think they must be anti-multiculturalism, and multiculturalists think they must be anti-nationalist. Yet in practice, in at least some times and places, citizens are able to reconcile the two. This suggests that our received theories of nationalism and multiculturalism must be missing something: there must be some points of potential overlap between nationalism and multiculturalism that our theories are missing. In my recent work, I’ve been trying to make sense of this area of overlap, and in particular, trying to think about how nationalism and multiculturalism might converge around an ‘ethics of membership’.”
  • Trans-Class. Notes on Class, Anxiety, and Class Anxiety”—”This is the second in a series of essays broadly inspired by my reading of Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu (currently I’m in the middle of volume III).”
  • Is it okay to harvest pig kidneys to save human lives? We’re starting to grow pigs to take their organs and put them in humans. Wait, what?”
  • A French dictionary added a gender-neutral pronoun. Opponents say it’s too ‘woke.’” Also “French dictionary accused of ‘wokeism’ over gender-inclusive pronoun. Education minister condemns use of ‘iel’, saying inclusive writing is not the future of the French language.”
  • Gender in Latin and Beyond: A Philologist’s Take“—”Some students assume that Latin and Greek gender must be straightforward to me; and one, who had to take a German course, turned up in my office, stared at me accusingly and said, ‘In your language, spoons are masculine, forks are feminine and knives are neuter; explain yourself!’ This, then, is what I will try to do for Latin, but also for other languages. If you bear with me, you will see how different languages assign gender to nouns and how this is not a random process; and hopefully you will come to think of gender as not quite as pointless as it may have seemed before. But my essay is not a magic bullet: it will help you to make sense of grammatical gender assignment, and in that sense it will help you to learn languages, but it will not eliminate the effort of learning altogether. However, on our little journey together, we will also touch on some questions of broader interest: how did ancient scholars think of gender? Can nouns have more than one gender? And does grammatical gender influence the way we think about the world? We will begin our journey with the word gender itself.”
  • Exclusive 3:16 Interview With Friedrich Nietzsche“—”What I understand by “philosopher”: a terrible explosive in the presence of which everything is in danger. So what drew me to it? The majesty of the ruling glance and condemning look, the feeling of separation from the multitude with their duties and virtues, the kindly patronage and defense of whatever is misunderstood and calumniated, be it God or devil, the delight and practice of supreme justice, the art of commanding, the amplitude of will, the lingering eye which rarely admires, rarely looks up, rarely loves.”
  • Hegel today. Too dense, too abstract, too suspect, Hegel was outside the Anglophone canon for a century. Why is his star rising again?”
  • Was René Descartes a Victim of Skull Blasting? Centuries after the philosopher’s death, lingering controversy over his remains highlights a macabre practice of profiting from the dead.”
  • What Is It Like to Be a Philosopher?“—”In this interview, Mike Huemer, Professor of Philosophy at University of Colorado Boulder, discusses being a little kid thinking about where God came from and the nature of consciousness, Ender’s Game, his mother’s reaction to his decision to major in philosophy, taking classes with Searle and Feyerabend at UC Berkley, social justice warriors, Ayn Rand, the problem of induction, moral intuitionism, anarchism, the collapse of communism, the fledgling internet, dualism, which views in ethics are complete non-sense, submitting a stylistically Wittgensteinian writing sample, grad school at Rutgers, Colin McGinn, Vann McGee’s logic class, Civilization (by Sid Meier), refuting skepticism, two common grad student problems, evolving as a teacher, the job market, landing a job at UC Boulder, woke ideology, the great questions of philosophy, his book, Approaching Infinity, reincarnation, Bush, Obama, Trump, Biden, his blog Fake Nous, and his last meal…”
  • Whereof we know nothing, pass over in silence“—”In recent months, and for the first time, I’ve been embarrassed to be a philosopher. Consequently, I’ve been hanging out with academics in other disciplines and keeping my background quiet. I had always assumed that philosopher was a noble vocation and the peak of intellectual achievement. Enough has happened lately to make me doubt this. Philosophy has a problem and that problem is hubris. Philosophers pride themselves on their argumentative skills. They should have a better than average grasp of logic and a high capacity for understanding. Understanding of what? That is part of the problem. Philosophical skills are, in theory, general and transferable, so we can apply our techniques to any possible question. So far, so good. Yet this can also generate hubris.”
  • Join New Voices on Women in the History of Philosophy.” About New Voices on Women in the History of Philosophy by History of Women Philosophers and Scientists at Paderborn University: “About Us“—New Voices on Women in the History of Philosophy is a group for emerging scholars (in the widest sense) at the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists. New Voices has the purpose of creating a forum for international scholars who work on women in the history of philosophy. New Voices intends to interconnect and further the work of scholars in the field of Women Philosophers in the History of Philosophy.”
  • Tips for collaborating with scientists, from a philosopher. Make language inclusive and agree on your aims in advance.”
  • Disability, Sexuality, Political Leaning, Socio-Economic Background, and Other Demographic Data on Recent Philosophy PhD Recipients“—”The APDA tracks the job placements of PhD recipients in philosophy from PhD-granting departments in the English-speaking world plus selected programs elsewhere, with over 200 universities represented. Every few years, the APDA also surveys PhD recipients concerning their satisfaction with their PhD program as well as selected demographic characteristics.” “In this post, I’ll highlight some of the APDA’s demographic results.”
  • No, Black People Can’t Be ‘Racists’“—”The attacks waged against everything deemed ‘critical race theory’ constitute a new form of McCarthyism that spreads fear of a future in which Black professors may again be labeled by the state as political dissidents and left to the whims of a new, updated House Un-American Activities Committee.”
  • On Comedians that Punch Down (Srinivasan/Cowen, and yes Chappelle)“—”One of the great jokes of the political circumstances of our age is that comedians are the great political commentators of the age. And while it would be silly to claim that David Letterman is solely responsible for the political ascendancy of Donald Trump, it’s also true that he helped turn Trump from a New York city character into a national celebrity by repeatedly giving him space for — I say this with the benefit of hindsight — test-running his campaign massages. Belatedly, around 2010 Letterman himself grew uneasy about this, calling Trump a racist and sharply demarcating the “circus” (in which Letterman and Trump were both starring (ahh) freaks) from the political arena. The point of the contrast in Letterman’s shtick then is to proclaim Trump unfit for office. (The interview with Dr. Phil is still worth re-watching; Jason Zinoman’s 2017 New York Times article gives useful background, although does not mention Trump’s role in the Central Park five.) Letterman’s underlying instinct that there is a contrast between comedy and politics is an important one. It’s no less important than the difference between work-place harassment and comedy. What’s funny and worth having in one context, is oppressive in another. I am thinking of these matters not just because Plato implies that Aristophanes is responsible for the accusation (and so eventual execution) of Socrates, or the predictable controversy about Dave Chappelle’s latest special, and (recall) my struggle with the implications of my admiration for Norm Macdonald, but also because the topic frames the relatively recent, fascinating discussion (or interview) between Tyler Cowen and Amia Srinivasan.”
  • Showing, Telling, Understanding: Musings on Popularization“—”Yet to ‘compromise’ on the detail is to change the subject. A book about the lives of philosophers and mathematicians, about “watered-down approximations” of their ideas (Rayo’s words [10, Preface]), or about the fictions inspired by them is not a book about the ideas themselves. A reader who seeks understanding of these subjects is simply a different target from one who seeks to hear about others’ intellectual and aesthetic relation of them.”
  • Watch “Exploring the Space of Scientific Freedom and Responsibility (Heather Douglas and Maria Kronfeldner)“—”Heather Douglas (Michigan State University) and Maria Kronfeldner (Central European University, Vienna) discuss the many relationships between the freedoms and responsibilities scientists have.”
  • On the Internet, We’re Always Famous. What happens when the experience of celebrity becomes universal?”—”The most radical change to our shared social lives isn’t who gets to speak, it’s what we can hear.”
  • Tweet—”I told earlier how Gen Zrs crashed Kellogg’s website by submitting bogus applications online when it sought job apps from strike breakers to replace union workers. UPDATE: one of them wrote a program which uses random data to submit bogus applications to Kellogg’s 24 hrs a day.”
  • ‘We Changed People’s Mentality’: What It Was Like on the Ground in Egypt as Officials Unveiled the Pyramids’ First-Ever Contemporary Art Show. Get a peek behind the scenes of this unprecedented event.”
  • Space Jam: Former Senator Talks Aliens, Asteroids and ‘Star Trek’ With Larry Sabato. Former Florida U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, named in May to lead NASA, took part in a wide-ranging discussion on the politics of space with professor Larry Sabato on Tuesday.”
  • How Fish and Chips Migrated to Great Britain. The fried fish was introduced by Jews fleeing religious persecution.”

Omnium Gatherum: 5dec2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for December 5, 2021

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

  • Large asteroid stronger than nuke heading towards Earth late December. 2018 AH is estimated to be around 190 meters long, similar to the Tunguska asteroid, meaning it would be far more powerful than a nuclear bomb.”
  • Doom Patrol Secretly Teaches Grant Morrison’s Occult Philosophy. As a practicing Chaos Magician, Grant Morrison bakes occult ideas into their works, and their exceptional run on Doom Patrol is no exception.”
  • It’s from Dark Horse Books. It’s actually a novel. Also, reviews do not appear to be kind, but still: Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League, Et Al: A Compendium of Evils [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Earl Mac Rauch, cover by Julian Totino Tedesco—”A prose adventure as told by the Reno Kid to Buckaroo Banzai chronicler E.M. Rauch, this tale follows everyone’s favorite scientist-surgeon-entertainer-daredevil as he sets off on a brand-new hair-raising adventure! The long-awaited sequel to The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension is finally here! The cult classic receives its long-awaited official sequel! Buckaroo Banzai is a treasured pop culture icon, lauded by ‘nerd’ luminaries like Kevin Smith! This is the adventure that was teased at the end of the original Buckaroo Banzai film! A new novel by the writer of the original screenplay!” “A world-class hero confronts ancient ‘supernatural’ evils in an adventure that spans entire planets and defies everyday notions of reality! Still mourning the losses of his beloved Penny Priddy and his surrogate father Professor Hikita, Buckaroo Banzai must also contend with the constant threat of attack from his immortal nemesis Hanoi Xan, ruthless leader of the World Crime League. To make matters worse, Planet 10 warrior queen John Emdall has sent her Lectroid legions against Earth with a brutal ultimatum. Or is her true target Buckaroo Banzai? As the apocalyptic threats continue to mount, only Buckaroo and his Hong Kong Cavaliers stand in the way of global destruction. The long-awaited sequel to The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension is finally here after more than 35 years! As told by the Reno Kid to Buckaroo Banzai chronicler E.M. Rauch, this tale follows everyone’s favorite scientist-surgeon-entertainer-daredevil as he sets off on a brand-new hair-raising adventure!”
  • (Also Dark Horse Books!) Neil Gaiman’s Chivalry [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Neil Gaiman, illo. Colleen Doran, due March 2022—”Another delightfully humorous and sweet fantasy graphic novel adaptation of a Neil Gaiman short story, brought to you by the Eisner award-winning creative team behind Troll Bridge and Snow, Glass, Apples: Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran! An elderly British widow buys what turns out to be the Holy Grail from a second-hand shop, setting her off on an epic visit from an ancient knight who lures her with ancient relics in hope for winning the cup.”
  • Game Wizards: The Epic Battle for Dungeons & Dragons [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Jon Peterson, part of the Game Histories series—”The story of the arcane table-top game that became a pop culture phenomenon and the long-running legal battle waged by its cocreators. When Dungeons & Dragons was first released to a small hobby community, it hardly seemed destined for mainstream success–and yet this arcane tabletop role-playing game became an unlikely pop culture phenomenon. In Game Wizards, Jon Peterson chronicles the rise of Dungeons & Dragons from hobbyist pastime to mass market sensation, from the initial collaboration to the later feud of its creators, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. As the game’s fiftieth anniversary approaches, Peterson–a noted authority on role-playing games–explains how D&D and its creators navigated their successes, setbacks, and controversies. Peterson describes Gygax and Arneson’s first meeting and their work toward the 1974 release of the game; the founding of TSR and its growth as a company; and Arneson’s acrimonious departure and subsequent challenges to TSR. He recounts the “Satanic Panic” accusations that D&D was sacrilegious and dangerous, and how they made the game famous. And he chronicles TSR’s reckless expansion and near-fatal corporate infighting, which culminated with the company in debt and overextended and the end of Gygax’s losing battle to retain control over TSR and D&D. With Game Wizards, Peterson restores historical particulars long obscured by competing narratives spun by the one-time partners. That record amply demonstrates how the turbulent experience of creating something as momentous as Dungeons & Dragons can make people remember things a bit differently from the way they actually happened.”
  • Why Was This Ancient Tusk 150 Miles From Land, 10,000 Feet Deep? A discovery in the Pacific Ocean off California leads to ‘an Indiana Jones mixed with Jurassic Park moment.'”
  • British Teenager Discovers Rare Bronze Age Ax Hoard. Milly Hardwick, a 13-year-old from Suffolk, stumbled onto a cache of 65 artifacts dated to around 1300 B.C.E.”
  • What did you do during lockdown? Oh, you know, the usual. “A rare Roman mosaic was discovered buried beneath a farmer’s field in the UK. A Roman mosaic and villa was discovered beneath a farmer’s field in the UK. The mosaic depicts scenes from Homer’s ‘The Iliad’ and lies within an elaborate villa complex. The rare mosaic was found by the family that owns the land during lockdown last year.”—”The first Roman mosaic of its kind in the UK has been discovered. The initial discovery of the rare mosaic was made during the 2020 lockdown by Jim Irvine, son of the landowner, Brian Naylor. The mosaic depicts scenes from Homer’s ‘The Iliad,’ and part of the story of the Greek hero Achilles. Along with the mosaic, lies a surrounding villa complex. John Thomas, deputy director of University of Leicester Archaeological Services and project manager on the excavations, called it ‘the most exciting Roman mosaic discovery in the UK in the last century,’ according to The Guardian.”
  • Cosmic Ray Discovery Both Confirms and Complicates Viking Legend“—”Leif Erikson, Son of Viking Explorer Erik the Red, was many things — an explorer in his own right, he played a starring role in 10th century Norse geopolitics. But he was also a deeply religious man. And like so many explorers with designs on settling new lands, he wanted to bring his religion, Christianity, along for the ride. Specifically, he wanted to bring Christianity to Greenland — but ended up being the first European to set foot on American soil instead. At least that’s how the story goes… and now the science goes that way, too.”
  • Ancient footprints mistakenly attributed to bears were made by early humans“—”The early humans who walked the Earth nearly 3.7 million years ago were not walking alone. Fossil footprints in Tanzania reveal that two human species once lived in the same place at the same time. Scientists had long thought that one set of unusual prints there was left by a bear walking on its hind legs, but a new analysis published in the journal Nature suggests that’s not right. Instead, it appears that the tracks were left by some unknown early human species that was strolling around that spot at the exact same time as Australopithecus afarensis — the species of the famous partial skeleton ‘Lucy.'” Also “Footprint evidence of early hominin locomotor diversity at Laetoli, Tanzania“—”Bipedal trackways discovered in 1978 at Laetoli site G, Tanzania and dated to 3.66 million years ago are widely accepted as the oldest unequivocal evidence of obligate bipedalism in the human lineage1,2,3. Another trackway discovered two years earlier at nearby site A was partially excavated and attributed to a hominin, but curious affinities with bears (ursids) marginalized its importance to the paleoanthropological community, and the location of these footprints fell into obscurity3,4,5. In 2019, we located, excavated and cleaned the site A trackway, producing a digital archive using 3D photogrammetry and laser scanning. Here we compare the footprints at this site with those of American black bears, chimpanzees and humans, and we show that they resemble those of hominins more than ursids. In fact, the narrow step width corroborates the original interpretation of a small, cross-stepping bipedal hominin. However, the inferred foot proportions, gait parameters and 3D morphologies of footprints at site A are readily distinguished from those at site G, indicating that a minimum of two hominin taxa with different feet and gaits coexisted at Laetoli.”
  • 200,000-year-old remains of close relative to modern humans found in Siberian cave“—”Scientists have discovered the oldest remains of a close relative to the modern human. Dated at 200,000 years old, the bones are the oldest known remains of the Denisovans, ‘a sister population to the Neanderthals,’ according to a study published Thursday in the monthly peer-reviewed journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. ‘This is the first time we have the physical remains of Denisovans that we can securely date to 200,000 years ago,’ Samantha Brown, a co-author of the study, said in an email to USA TODAY. ‘From here we can investigate their technology and behaviors and hopefully start to understand this population a little better.'” Also “Archaeologists stunned as oldest remains of human ancestors ‘exceeds wildest dreams’. ARCHAEOLOGISTS were stunned after discovering ‘new bone fragments’ belonging to a mysterious ancestor of the modern-day human.”
  • Aztec altar with human ashes uncovered in Mexico City. Archaeologists in Mexico have uncovered an altar dating back to the 16th Century near Plaza Garibaldi, the square in Mexico City famed for its mariachi musicians.”—”The altar dates back to the time after the Spanish conquest of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlán. Experts say it was located in a courtyard inside a home of an Aztec family, who would have used it to honour their dead. It contains a pot with human ashes.”
  • New armored dinosaur found in Chile had bizarre weaponized tail“—”A new species of armored dinosaur discovered in Chile had a weaponized tail not seen before in any other dinosaur. Roughly 2 meters (6.5 feet) in size, the small armored dinosaur called an ankylosaur dates from the late Cretaceous period, around 71.7 million to 74.9 million years ago. Its largely complete fossilized skeleton was found in Magallanes province in Patagonia, Chile’s southernmost region. The dinosaur, named Stegouros elengassen, had evolved a large tail weapon unlike those seen in other armored dinosaurs such as the paired spikes of Stegosaurus and the club-like tail of Ankylosaurus.”
  • Researchers discover skull of deadly, fast swordfish-like reptile with a 3-foot-long skull“—”Despite the creatures’ long nose and mouth, it has long been thought the species fed only on small fish and other small sea creatures. But the skull discovery shows the species evolved into becoming a fearsome creature that was able to take on nearly any prey it wanted to.”
  • ‘Ultra-rare deep-sea’ footballfish washes ashore California beach“—”Pictures of an ultra-rare deep-sea fish dubbed “deep-sea monster” has gone viral after a tourist spotted the creature washed ashore at a beach in California, US. On November 13, Jay Beiler was walking on Black’s Beach in Torrey Pines in San Diego when he spotted the ‘ultra-rare’ species.”
  • Hybrid salmon found in Canada may be a result of climate change. Salmon found near the mouth of the Cowichan river on Vancouver Island are a hybrid species of coho and Chinook, which may have arisen as the timing and location of their spawning grounds overlapped.”
  • Why did ancient Egyptian pharaohs stop building pyramids? Why did they ditch these iconic tombs?”—”One historical record that may hold important clues was written by a man named ‘Ineni,’ who was in charge of building the tomb of Thutmose I in the Valley of the Kings. Ineni wrote that ‘I supervised the excavation of the cliff tomb of his majesty alone — no one seeing, no one hearing.’ This record ‘obviously suggests that secrecy was a major consideration,’ Ann Macy Roth, a clinical professor of art history and Hebrew and Judaic studies at New York University, told Live Science in an email. The natural topography of the Valley of the Kings could explain why it emerged as a favored location for royal tombs. It has a peak now known as el-Qurn (sometimes spelled Gurn), which looks a bit like a pyramid. The peak ‘closely resembles a pyramid, [so] in a way all royal tombs built in the valley were placed beneath a pyramid,’ Miroslav Bárta, an Egyptologist who is vice rector of Charles University in the Czech Republic, told Live Science in an email.”
  • The only total solar eclipse of 2021 in pictures: Amazing photos from Antarctica. Scientists went to the ends of the Earth to see the rare event. Here’s what they saw.” Also “Total solar eclipse to bring black sun, sudden nightfall to Antarctica.”
  • New Curiosity Image Reminds Us That Mars Is a Truly Beautiful Place. The stunning view from Mount Sharp reveals rolling hills, swirling sands, and the sprawling rim of Gale Crater.” Also “A Picture Postcard From Curiosity’s Navcams.”
  • International Space Station forced to swerve to avoid US space junk. Orbit dropped by 310 metres briefly to avoid collision with fragment from vessel launched in 1994.”
  • Astronomers have found a new planet that’s mostly made of iron“‘Nobody expected that they would exist,’ says Winn. ‘It’s the weird ones that are often the most informative or revealing.'”
  • Oh no. “New study identifies which types of humor are linked to reduced worry and increased wellbeing“—”The researchers recruited 254 Italian participants aged 18 to 67 years for their study. The participants completed a scientific questionnaire known as Comic Style Markers, which captures the use of both positive and negative styles of humor. They also completed an assessment of pathological worry and the World Health Organization-5 Well-Being Index. Those who engaged in two positive styles of comedy (fun and benevolent humor) tended to report lower levels of pathological worry and higher levels of psychological wellbeing. Those who engaged in cynicism, on the other hand, tended to report higher levels of pathological worry and lower levels of psychological wellbeing.”
  • A Cure for Type 1 Diabetes? For One Man, It Seems to Have Worked. A new treatment using stem cells that produce insulin has surprised experts and given them hope for the 1.5 million Americans living with the disease.”
  • FDA approves pioneering drug invented at Purdue for ovarian cancer surgery“—”The drug is the first tumor-targeted fluorescent agent for ovarian cancer to be approved by the FDA, Purdue announced Monday.”
  • A famously far-ranging gray wolf is found dead in Southern California“—”Wildlife officials say a far-ranging gray wolf, the first to tromp across Southern California in more than a hundred years, has been found dead near a roadway a little more than an hour’s drive north of downtown Los Angeles. It appeared to have been struck by a vehicle. The male wolf, named OR93 when it was outfitted with a GPS collar by wildlife officials in its home state of Oregon, left its pack near Mount Hood two years ago. It gained followers and fans in the wildlife community as it traveled south, crossing interstates and highways to parts of California that hadn’t seen a wolf since 1922.”
  • We Really Shouldn’t Be Boiling Shellfish. Science confirms what every five-year-old knows intuitively — crab and lobsters feel pain and we probably shouldn’t eat them”
  • How to Read a Jellyfish’s Mind. The human brain has 100 billion neurons, making 100 trillion connections. Understanding the precise circuits of brain cells that orchestrate all of our day-to-day behaviors—such as moving our limbs, responding to fear and other emotions, and so on—is an incredibly complex puzzle for neuroscientists. But now, fundamental questions about the neuroscience of behavior may be answered through a new and much simpler model organism: tiny jellyfish.”
  • From the Illuminati Orbital Mind Control Lasers dept: “NASA is about to launch a laser demo that could revolutionize space communication“—”The use of invisible lasers in space may sound like something from science fiction, but it’s real. NASA’s upcoming Laser Communications Relay Demonstration could revolutionize the way the agency communicates with future missions across the solar system. These lasers could lead to more high-definition videos and photos from space than ever before, according to the agency.”
  • UC Davis Researchers Develop Ice Cube That Doesn’t Melt or Grow Mold. Environmentally friendly ‘Jelly Ice Cube’ Could Transform Cold Storage. Cooling cube designed to prevent cross-contamination. New jelly ice cube is not plastic and won’t melt. Cubes are reusable, flexible and compostable.” Also watch “Non Melting Ice Cubes“—”Molly Riehl is at UC Davis where they have developed non melting ice! It still keeps things cool, but doesn’t melt! Check out this revolutionary breakthrough at UCD.”
  • From the feather of Ma’at dept: “A Kiloparsec-scale Molecular Wave in the Inner Galaxy: Feather of the Milky Way?“—”We report the discovery of a velocity coherent, kiloparsec-scale molecular structure toward the Galactic center region with an angular extent of 30° and an aspect ratio of 60:1. The kinematic distance of the CO structure ranges between 4.4 and 6.5 kpc. Analysis of the velocity data and comparison with the existing spiral arm models support that a major portion of this structure is either a subbranch of the Norma arm or an interarm giant molecular filament, likely to be a kiloparsec-scale feather (or spur) of the Milky Way, similar to those observed in nearby spiral galaxies. The filamentary cloud is at least 2.0 kpc in extent, considering the uncertainties in the kinematic distances, and it could be as long as 4 kpc. The vertical distribution of this highly elongated structure reveals a pattern similar to that of a sinusoidal wave. The exact mechanisms responsible for the origin of such a kiloparsec-scale filament and its wavy morphology remains unclear. The distinct wave-like shape and its peculiar orientation makes this cloud, named as the Gangotri wave, one of the largest and most intriguing structures identified in the Milky Way.”
  • Watch a black hole devour simulated stars. Some stars survived—but others were completely destroyed in the virtual encounter.” Watch “Supercomputer Simulations Test Star-destroying Black Holes“—”Watch as eight stars skirt a black hole 1 million times the mass of the Sun in these supercomputer simulations. As they approach, all are stretched and deformed by the black hole’s gravity. Some are completely pulled apart into a long stream of gas, a cataclysmic phenomenon called a tidal disruption event. Others are only partially disrupted, retaining some of their mass and returning to their normal shape after their horrific encounter. These simulations are the first to combine the physical effects of Einstein’s theory of general relativity with realistic stellar density models. The virtual stars range from about one tenth to 10 times the Sun’s mass. The division between stars that fully disrupt and those that endure isn’t simply related to mass. Instead, survival depends more on the star’s density. Scientists investigated how other characteristics, such as different black hole masses and stellar close approaches, affect tidal disruption events. The results will help astronomers estimate how often full tidal disruptions occur in the universe and will aid them in building more accurate pictures of these calamitous cosmic occurrences.”
  • Watch “Xenobots: Building the First-Ever Self-Replicating Living Robots“—”Scientists at UVM, Tufts, and Harvard discovered a new form of biological reproduction—and created self-replicating living robots. Made from frog cells, these computer-designed organisms gather single cells inside a Pac-Man-shaped “mouth”—and release Xenobot “babies” that look and move like themselves. Then the offspring go and do the same—over and over.” Also watch “Living robots made from frog cells can replicate themselves in a dish“—”Swarms of tiny living robots can self-replicate in a dish by pushing other cells together. The xenobots – made from frog cells – are the first multicellular organisms found to reproduce in this way. Xenobots were first created last year, using cells taken from the embryo of the frog species Xenopus laevis. Under the right lab conditions, the cells formed small structures that could self-assemble, move in groups and sense their environment. Now, the researchers behind the work have found that xenobots can also self-replicate. Josh Bongard at the University of Vermont and Michael Levin at Tufts University in Massachusetts and their colleagues began by extracting rapidly dividing stem cells that are destined to become skin cells from frog embryos.” Also “Tiny ‘Living’ Robots Figured Out How to Reproduce. Xenobots can reproduce via kinematic replication, which has never been observed before in organisms.” Also “‘Amazing science’: researchers find xenobots can give rise to offspring. Xenobots are synthetic lifeforms made by cells from frog embryos and assembling them into clusters”
  • Google fired its star AI researcher one year ago. Now she’s launching her own institute. Timnit Gebru is launching Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (DAIR) to document AI’s harms on marginalized groups.”
  • New Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal begins restructuring as two execs step down.” Also “The Tech Moguls Are Looking for a New Playground. Jack Dorsey’s decision to leave Twitter, like Mark Zuckerberg’s pivot to the metaverse, shows us where the internet is heading.”
  • Government Officials Pressuring Activision Blizzard Are Now Threatening The Company’s Profits. ‘We think there needs to be sweeping changes made in the company’.”
  • The prom to prison pipeline: “They Say She Rigged a Homecoming Queen Contest. She Faces Decades Behind Bars. When Emily Grover was named homecoming queen, the school accused her and her mom of hacking students’ accounts to cast votes. They face hefty sentences—but say they’ve been framed.”
  • Microsoft’s new Windows prompts try to stop people downloading Chrome. New prompts in Edge steer people away from Chrome.”—”Microsoft has also been making it harder to switch default browsers in Windows 11 and forcing people into using Edge through Windows updates. These latest prompts also follow widespread criticism of Microsoft building a “buy now, pay later” tool directly into Edge that prompts users to use a short-term financing service.” Also “Microsoft Keeps Making Its Edge Browser Worse for Some Reason. Edge users are furious after Microsoft integrated a financing app into the browser.” Also “Users revolt as Microsoft bolts a short-term financing app onto Edge. ‘This all feels extremely unnecessary for a browsing experience,’ one user says.”
  • Wait. Didn’t we do LED meditation glasses already, like decades ago? “Layer Design’s Meditation Headset Uses Biomorphic Patterns to Elevate Your State-of-Mind.” I mean, just make yourself a Dreammachine and listen to Hafler Trio and/or some Ganzfield googles and listen to Matmos. Maybe drop acid and listen to Coil? Or, idek, start hanging out in floatation tanks.
  • We’re Longing for the One Thing the Metaverse Can’t Give Us. After I’ve struggled with anorexia and bulimia for more than 20 years, the last thing I want is technology that further estranges me from my body.”
  • Eindhoven students reveal smart sleeve that lets you feel and understand any foreign language. A new technology now allows users to communicate literally by feeling.”
  • The Future of Digital Assistants Is Queer. AI assistants continue to reinforce sexist stereotypes, but queering these devices could help reimagine their relationship to gender altogether.”
  • Tweet—”My God. Woke up to DMs from neighbors.😳 @facebook allowing a “Book Burning Event” here in Central Virginia. Parents are told to check out library books they want to ban in schools so they can be burned. This is fascism. FB is allowing it. Reckless & unacceptable.”
  • Missouri health department withheld report showing mask mandates work from public, unearthed emails show.”
  • Scientists call omicron ‘most mutated virus we’d ever seen.’ Why does that matter?
  • It Is Time To Admit That Democracy Is a Partisan Issue“—”Discussing the threats to democracy without reference to partisanship is like describing Jim Crow without referring to race. States are not enacting voter suppression laws in a vacuum — these laws are being enacted by Republican politicians over the objections of Democrats. The Big Lie is not spreading like a mindless virus — Republicans are intentionally spreading it to undermine confidence in elections and instigate election subversion. Avoiding discussing partisanship leaves out the who, the what and the why of what is happening to American democracy. Without the context of partisanship, a person has no way to make sense of who is supporting voter suppression laws, what these laws are doing or why all of this is even happening. Partisanship adds the needed context.”
  • Watch “Swedish prime minister resigns on her first day in job“—”Sweden’s first female prime minister, Social Democrat Magdalena Andersson, resigned on Wednesday after less than 12 hours in the top job after the Green Party quit their two-party coalition, stoking political uncertainty.”
  • Tweet thread—”Sotomayor: ‘the issue of when life begins has been hotly debated by philosophers, and it’s still debated by religions. That’s a religions issue, isn’t it?’ DING DING DING In Judaism, the fetus is regarded as part of the pregnant person’s body until birth. This is a 1A issue.”
  • New Interpol president is an Emirati general accused of overseeing torture.”
  • DeSantis’ civilian military is political trial balloon | Letters”—”Ron DeSantis now wants his own private civilian military force. I’m sure there are a few “good ole boys” ready to rack their shotguns and join up, but they have to realize this is just another one of Ron’s trial balloons. Chum the waters and see what fish bite. It is a warmup for his upcoming presidential run and he has to see how it plays out to the Trump cult on a smaller scale; i.e., Florida.” Also “The Disgusting Reality Behind Ron DeSantis’ New ‘Army’. The Florida governor has no plans to protect anyone with his proposed state military. The real goal is much darker.”—”The real mission of Ron’s Army is to appeal to that state-before-nation sentiment, along with the individual-before-feds feelings that fill the MAGA base. Ron’s Army sure looks like part of a long-term DeSantis plan to become the commander-in-chief of the whole country. At that prospect, nobody should be at ease.”
  • Messiah complex much? Tweet—”I’m here to promise you one thing: I am going to help reignite the divine spark inside every American and empower us to live better lives.” Tweet—”Honestly I don’t think you should be allowed to have a lighter.”
  • The first supervised illegal drug injection site opens in New York City“—”Officials in New York City say the first government-approved supervised drug injection sites in the nation began offering services to people with addiction on Tuesday. The program, backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, is part of the city’s ‘harm reduction’ strategy designed to reduce an unprecedented surge of overdose deaths.”
  • The Oxford Mass Shooting Shows the Limits of ‘Hardening’ Schools. The desire to keep kids safe has spawned a multibillion-dollar industry promising to turn schools into fortresses. Oxford High School is a prime example of that effort.”
  • Homeowner convicted in killings of 2 teens smoking marijuana. An Ohio man has been convicted in the fatal shooting of two teens he found smoking marijuana inside a vehicle in his garage.”—”He wanted to use the state’s new “stand your ground” defense but a judge ruled earlier this year that it couldn’t be applied retroactively to the killings of Devin Henderson and Javier Harrison.” “Ja’shin Gibson — who was with the teens but was not injured and hid under the car — testified that Santana opened the door and fired shots into the vehicle without warning.”
  • A Black couple ‘erased themselves’ from their home to see if the appraised value would go up. It did – by nearly $500,000. Tenisha Tate-Austin and Paul Austin say they were low-balled when trying to refinance their home — until they ‘white-washed’ their house to get a fair price.” See also “Black homeowner had a white friend stand in for third appraisal. Her home value doubled.
  • The Biblical Clash at the Core of ‘The Power of the Dog’. The film is a face-off between two visions of the American West—one of promise and the other of hostility.”
  • From July: “Why Managers Fear a Remote-Work Future. Like it or not, the way we work has already evolved.”_”…the anti-remote crowd seems to believe that the responsibility of a 9-to-5 employee isn’t simply the work but the appearance, optics, and ceremony of the work.”
  • Tweet—”Kipo is a three season show, ten episodes each. The network promoted it that way. But internally they called it ‘one production order’ which meant none of the artists working on it qualified for raises over the three years it took to make. #PayAnimationWriters #NewDeal4Animation”
  • Hackers Are Spamming Businesses’ Receipt Printers With ‘Antiwork’ Manifestos. Dozens of printers across the internet are printing out a manifesto that encourages workers to discuss their pay with coworkers, and pressure their employers.”
  • A Stranger Looked Like My Twin. That Was Just the Beginning. How a family secret was unraveled by 23andMe.”
  • Steal From One-Eyed Willy in New the Goonies Board Game“—”It’s a golden time to be a fan of The Goonies. The last few years has been a non-stop celebration of the 1985 kid’s action-adventure classic. There’s been new artwork paying tribute to the film. As well as movie-inspired ice cream. Josh Gad reunited the cast to entertain us during quarantine. And new Goonies games let you go on your own quests. Now you’ll also be able to find riches for yourself. The Op’s new board game, The Goonies: Escape with One-Eyed Willy’s Rich Stuff, will bring pirate’s treasure to your tabletop.” Watch The Goonies: Escape with One-Eyed Willy’s Rich Stuff Trailer | The Op Games“—”The third release in The Op’s at-home escape room Coded Chronicles® series, The Goonies: Escape with One-Eyed Willy’s Rich Stuff takes players on an epic adventure through the trap-filled caverns of Astoria, Oregon. Using the treasure hunting skills of Mikey, Brand, Mouth, Data, Andy, Stef, Chunk and Sloth, players will navigate their way to finding One-Eyed Willy’s rich stuff! Can you get the gang to the Inferno, nab the treasure, and get to freedom all while staying one step ahead of the nefarious Fratelli family? About Coded Chronicles: Coded Chronicles is an at-home escape room style game where players are guided to unlock clues and solve puzzles by a unique code-revealing mechanic. Each game contains its own story line and objective to offer an unpredictable game play experience!”
  • Marvel Zombies Board Game Plans Unveiled as CMON Celebrates Their 50th Kickstarter Campaign. Cool Mini Or Not are celebrating their 50th Kickstarter Campaign by bringing a new Marvel-themed entry to their popular Zombicide series.”
  • Tribe that gave Missouri its name works to save its language“—”Before English, French or any European language was spoken in the spot of the map where Missouri sits, Native American tribes brought their own dialects to the region. One of those dialects was Chiwere, a Siouan language originally spoken by the Otoe, Iowa and Missouria tribes. It’s an endangered language that researchers and descendants of its speakers are working hard to preserve, KCUR-FM reports.”
  • Practicing pitch-accent is on the rise among Japanese learners. Listen closely to a Japanese speaker say ‘chopsticks’ and ‘bridge’ (both ‘hashi’) and see if you can tell the difference. If you can, that’s thanks to pitch-accent.”
  • Environments can affect language—just not how you think. No, the Inuit do not have hundreds of words for snow.”—”Everyone knows the Eskimos have dozens, if not hundreds, of words for snow because of their intimate knowledge of their environment. Except that everyone cannot ‘know’ this, because knowledge requires a statement to be true. In fact, the Eskimo snow story is a factoid, a word coined by Norman Mailer for a fun, roughly fact-shaped object that is not, in fact, a fact—in the same way a ‘spheroid’ is not quite a sphere.”
  • Illustrated Cloud Creatures Creep Through Rural Landscapes Like Gigantic Ghosts“—”Clouds can be pretty gloomy, but these misty creatures by Barcelona-based Vorja Sánchez are particularly ominous. In his ongoing series, Interventions, Sánchez transforms rural landscapes into dream-like terrains that appear to be home to a whole host of ghostly characters. Sánchez begins by taking photos of his nearby countryside. He then uses a fine-line pen with white ink to meticulously hand-draw his wispy characters into the scene. Each cloud creature appears to emerge from the fog and grasp onto hills and forests with their nebulous limbs and sprawling, thread-like fingers. Their huge black eyes look like swirling vortexes that are trying to lure in unsuspecting hikers and farm animals. Despite their strange, phantom-like appearance, perhaps Sánchez’s cloud creatures are misunderstood. Many appear shy, wary, and even gentle. Their vortex-like eyes could be interpreted as sinister, but they also give each character a kind of cute and curious expression. Perhaps these otherworldly creatures come in peace!”
  • Mystery items in the Clarendon archive“—”Did we just find Victorian condoms in the Clarendon archive?” “In fact it’s so delicate and crispy that it’s hard to believe it could have functioned as a barrier or container of any sort, even in its heyday. Looked at with the help of our conservation team’s light box, however, you can see that it’s not tissue at all, but animal intestine, blood vessels and all. In other words, exactly the same stuff as a traditional sausage casing. That means it was once much more supple and durable, and has simply dried out. That distinctive sheath shape, meanwhile: almost unmistakeable. Did the 4th Earl stash away some prototype condoms, or could these items have another use?”
  • From the St Patrick’s Explosive Lucifers dept: “Homeowner trying to smoke out snake infestation burns down own house. Maryland home suffers over $1m in damage after cunning coal-based pest control plan backfires.”
  • Mind-blowing optical illusion proves your brain can’t be trusted. It has TikTok users baffled.”
  • Wait. Whut? Watch “A BLIZZARD is coming to Hawaii this weekend“—”Over a foot of snow and 100+ MPH wind gusts are likely this weekend on the mountain summits of the Big Island of Hawaii. Heavy rain is expected for lower elevations.”
  • Wait. Whut whut? “China moon rover to investigate cube-shaped ‘mystery house’ object. There’s something interesting on the far side of the moon.”
  • Truly a sign of the end times: “Canada taps into strategic reserves to deal with massive shortage … of maple syrup.”

Omnium Gatherum: 1dec2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for December 1, 2021

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

  • Howl. The author of a new book on werewolves has hunted across the centuries for buried items of lore, ranging from ancient Greek texts to Victorian ghost stories.” About The Werewolf in the Ancient World [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Daniel Ogden—”Presents the first book-length study in any language devoted to the subject of the werewolf in the ancient world. Argues for the priority of folklore over ritual in understanding ancient ideas about werewolves in a valuable contribution to the studies of ancient narrative and ancient religion. Incorporates all relevant ancient texts in new, accessible English translations, providing an integrated sourcebook for the subject.” “In a moonlit graveyard somewhere in southern Italy, a soldier removes his clothes in readiness to transform himself into a wolf. He depends upon the clothes to recover his human shape, and so he magically turns them to stone, but his secret is revealed when, back in human form, he is seen to carry a wound identical to that recently dealt to a marauding wolf. In Arcadia a man named Damarchus accidentally tastes the flesh of a human sacrifice and is transformed into a wolf for nine years. At Temesa Polites is stoned to death for raping a local girl, only to return to terrorize the people of the city in the form of a demon in a wolfskin. Tales of the werewolf are by now well established as a rich sub-strand of the popular horror genre; less widely known is just how far back in time their provenance lies. These are just some of the werewolf tales that survive from the Graeco-Roman world, and this is the first book in any language to be devoted to their study. It shows how in antiquity werewolves thrived in a story-world shared by witches, ghosts, demons, and soul-flyers, and argues for the primary role of story-telling-as opposed to rites of passage–in the ancient world’s general conceptualization of the werewolf. It also seeks to demonstrate how the comparison of equally intriguing medieval tales can be used to fill in gaps in our knowledge of werewolf stories in the ancient world, thereby shedding new light on the origins of the modern phenomenon. All ancient texts bearing upon the subject have been integrated into the discussion in new English translations, so that the book provides not only an accessible overview for a broad readership of all levels of familiarity with ancient languages, but also a comprehensive sourcebook for the ancient werewolf for the purposes of research and study.”
  • Tweet—”Hearing the news the old-fashioned way: from loud retirees in a cafe, who say a *werewolf* was killed by cops in New Jersey.” I mean, maybe this is the “cover up” story! Wow. Also, fucked up either way: “New Jersey Cop Who Killed Pedestrian, Took Body Home Was Turned in by Father: Prosecutor.”—”Dymka had been wearing a werewolf Halloween costume.” It appears to have a certain corroborative verisimilitude!
  • New Book Brings Virginia Woolf’s Little-Known Art Criticism To Light.” About Oh, to Be a Painter! [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Virginia Woolf, introduction by Claudia Tobin—”The twentieth volume in the renowned ekphrasis series, this collection of Virginia Woolf’s writings on the visual arts offers a whole new perspective on the revolutionary author. Despite wide interest in Woolf’s writings, and in the artists and art critics in her Bloomsbury circle, there is no accessible edition or selection of essays dedicated to her writings on art. This volume collects her longest essay on painting, “Walter Sickert: A Conversation” (1934), alongside shorter essays and reviews, including “Pictures and Portraits” (1920) and “Pictures” (1925). These formally inventive texts reveal the centrality of the visual arts to Woolf’s writing and vision. They show her engaging with contemporary debates about modern art and are innovative in their treatment of ideas about color and form, including in response to the work of her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell, who designed many of her book covers and jackets. In these essays and reviews, Woolf illuminates the complex and interdependent relationship between the artist and society, and reveals her own shifting perspectives during decades of social and political change. She also provides sharp and astute commentary on specific works of art and on the relationship between art and writing. An introduction by Claudia Tobin situates the essays within their cultural contexts.”
  • Watch “The Emphatically Queer Career of Artist Perkins Harnly and His Bohemian Friends by Sarah Burns.” About The Emphatically Queer Career of Artist Perkins Harnly and His Bohemian Friends [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Sarah Burns—”The Emphatically Queer Career of Artist Perkins Harnly is the story of a Nebraska-born artist (1901–1986) who crossed paths with a staggering array of famous and infamous personalities. He stole a box of bon-bons from Sarah Bernhardt. Was friends with Paul Swan, a.k.a. “The Most Beautiful Man in the World,” who made women swoon when he danced in his tiny leopard-skin tunic. Was the frequent houseguest of Rose O’Neill, the free-living, gin-drinking artist who invented the Kewpie Doll. Hobnobbed with Elsie de Wolfe, the celebrity decorator who invented the blue rinse and dyed her poodles to match. And was a dedicated correspondent of Alexander King, the gabby Viennese morphine addict whose circle included William Seabrook, author and occasional cannibal responsible for introducing Americans, for better or worse, to the zombie. The story follows Harnly’s steps from Nebraska’s remote farmlands through silent-era Hollywood, post-revolutionary Mexico, Depression-era New York, war-time Tinsel Town, and finally, to Culver City, home for the remainder of his life. Harnly traveled extensively in Europe and South America, where he indulged in his hobby of visiting the last resting places of legendary people from Vladimir Lenin to Oscar Wilde, Queen Victoria, and Eva Peron. While offering excursions into Harnly’s darkly playful paintings of Victorian boudoirs and haunted cemeteries, Sarah Burns uses archives of letters and interviews to illuminate the adventures of Harnly and his circle of outrageous friends, whose antics outshine the notorious Bright Young Things of England. Once you meet Perkins Harnly, you will never forget him.”
  • Tweet thread—”Huge news out of #Chernobyl today. The company *Chernobyl Tour* just had their license revoked by the government. You may have heard of them, they’re the largest company operating tours, but have been criticised in the past for their rampant touristification of the Zone…” This tweet thread by Damon Murray, the author of Chernobyl: A Stalkers’ Guide [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library].
  • The Italian Electrical Scientist Who (May Have) Inspired Frankenstein. Timothy Jorgensen on Giovanni Aldini.”—”Perhaps the real-life Aldini was her model for the fictional Victor Frankenstein, and the unfortunate George Foster was his monstrous creation, with electricity playing a central role. Art imitating life… and death.” Excerpt from Spark: The Life of Electricity and the Electricity of Life [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Timothy Jorgensen—”A fresh look at electricity and its powerful role in life on Earth. When we think of electricity, we likely imagine the energy humming inside our home appliances or lighting up our electronic devices–or perhaps we envision the lightning-streaked clouds of a stormy sky. But electricity is more than an external source of power, heat, or illumination. Life at its essence is nothing if not electrical. The story of how we came to understand electricity’s essential role in all life is rooted in our observations of its influences on the body–influences governed by the body’s central nervous system. Spark explains the science of electricity from this fresh, biological perspective. Through vivid tales of scientists and individuals–from Benjamin Franklin to Elon Musk–Timothy Jorgensen shows how our views of electricity and the nervous system evolved in tandem, and how progress in one area enabled advancements in the other. He explains how these developments have allowed us to understand–and replicate–the ways electricity enables the body’s essential functions of sight, hearing, touch, and movement itself. Throughout, Jorgensen examines our fascination with electricity and how it can help or harm us. He explores a broad range of topics and events, including the Nobel Prize-winning discoveries of the electron and neuron, the history of experimentation involving electricity’s effects on the body, and recent breakthroughs in the use of electricity to treat disease. Filled with gripping adventures in scientific exploration, Spark offers an indispensable look at electricity, how it works, and how it animates our lives from within and without.”
  • What Impossible Meant to Richard Feynman. What I learned when I challenged the legendary physicist.”—”After two years of working together, I finally knew for sure what I had long suspected: ‘Stupid’ was just an expression Feynman applied to everyone, including himself, as a way to focus attention on an error so it was never made again. I also learned that ‘impossible,’ when used by Feynman, did not necessarily mean ‘unachievable’ or ‘ridiculous.’ Sometimes it meant, ‘Wow! Here is something amazing that contradicts what we would normally expect to be true. This is worth understanding!'” Excerpt from The Second Kind of Impossible: The Extraordinary Quest for a New Form of Matter [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Paul J Steinhardt—”One of the most fascinating scientific detective stories of the last fifty years, an exciting quest for a new form of matter. ‘A riveting tale of derring-do’ (Nature), this book reads like James Gleick’s Chaos combined with an Indiana Jones adventure. When leading Princeton physicist Paul Steinhardt began working in the 1980s, scientists thought they knew all the conceivable forms of matter. The Second Kind of Impossible is the story of Steinhardt’s thirty-five-year-long quest to challenge conventional wisdom. It begins with a curious geometric pattern that inspires two theoretical physicists to propose a radically new type of matter—one that raises the possibility of new materials with never before seen properties, but that violates laws set in stone for centuries. Steinhardt dubs this new form of matter ‘quasicrystal.’ The rest of the scientific community calls it simply impossible. The Second Kind of Impossible captures Steinhardt’s scientific odyssey as it unfolds over decades, first to prove viability, and then to pursue his wildest conjecture—that nature made quasicrystals long before humans discovered them. Along the way, his team encounters clandestine collectors, corrupt scientists, secret diaries, international smugglers, and KGB agents. Their quest culminates in a daring expedition to a distant corner of the Earth, in pursuit of tiny fragments of a meteorite forged at the birth of the solar system. Steinhardt’s discoveries chart a new direction in science. They not only change our ideas about patterns and matter, but also reveal new truths about the processes that shaped our solar system. The underlying science is important, simple, and beautiful—and Steinhardt’s firsthand account is ‘packed with discovery, disappointment, exhilaration, and persistence…This book is a front-row seat to history as it is made’ (Nature).”
  • Tentacle Kitty: Tales Around the Teacup [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by John Merritt and Raena Merritt (Author), illo. Jean-Claudio Vinci, due April 2022—”Join “The Pink One” and friends as the whole tentacle kitty gang regales us with tales of action and adventure over tea! From hunting down cotton candy mice, to pirate hijinks, and mega convention run ins, this tome features stories for all readers, told only as a Tentacle Kitty can! From the creators of Tentacle Kitty John and Raena Merritt, joined by artist Jean-Claudio Vinci, this is Tentacle Kitty: Tales Around the Teacup! You will not want to miss this tentacled anthology!”
  • The Lonely, Horny Prophecies of Lynne Tillman’s ‘Weird Fucks’.” About Weird Fucks [Amazon, Amazon (1st Ed.), Bookshop UK, Publisher, Local Library] by Lynne Tillman—”A brilliant novella from a legendary figure in American fiction. A young woman drifts through dimly lit bars and rented rooms, reporting from the erogenous zones of New York and Europe. Encountering increasingly bizarre sexual situations, she turns her curious, comic, and fierce eye onto the contemporary world of sex and desire. The men of this world evade and simper, they prey, preen, and fall hopelessly in love. In the narrator’s deadpan portraits, we see young women indulging their freedom through hope and disappointment, and young men wearing various guises of masculinity. This novella surprises with unlikely fucks, disturbing fucks, outlandish fucks, and some truly weird fucks – all written with the smart, elegant, and tough style which could only be that of Lynne Tillman.”
  • What Do We Do with the Work of Immoral Artists?“—”Maybe I should curate Noguera’s exhibition. Or maybe I should use my time to promote another artist who has committed less harm. Maybe I should stop teaching Caravaggio — another murderer who received a death sentence. I don’t know; I’m still debating. But I am convinced, after reading Matthes’s book, that we can act ethically when we marvel at an artwork produced by an immoral artist — even if the artwork is intimately connected with that immorality and even if the work itself makes us deeply uneasy. It is precisely through art that we can explore human darkness without falling into it entirely.” In part about 2018’s Escape Artist: Memoir of a Visionary Artist on Death Row [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by by William A Noguera, foreword by Walter A Pavlo Jr—”William A. Noguera has spent thirty-four years at the notorious San Quentin Prison, home to the nation’s largest and deadliest death row. Each day, men plot against you and your life rests on a razor’s edge. In Escape Artist, he describes his personal growth as a man and artist and shares his insights into daily life and the fight to survive in the underworld of prison culture. After being sentenced to death, he arrived at San Quentin Prison and was thrown into a rat-infested cell—it was there that he discovered the key to his escape: art. Over the next three decades, Noguera rebelled against conventional prison behavior, and instead forged the code he lives by today—accepting responsibility for his actions, and a self-imposed discipline of rehabilitation. In the process, he has explored his capacity to bring focus and clarity to his artistic vision. Escape Artist exposes the violence, politics and everyday existence within the underbelly of society that is prison life. In an unprecedented narrative, Noguera reveals the emotional and heart-wrenching loss that landed him on death row and the journey he has taken to become an award-winning artist, speaker, and author—a tale of one man’s transformation through tragedy.” And Drawing the Line: What to Do with the Work of Immoral Artists from Museums to the Movies [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Erich Hatala Matthes—”Can we still watch Woody Allen’s movies? Can we still laugh at Bill Cosby’s jokes? Woody Allen, Kevin Spacey, Dave Chappelle, Louis C. K., J.K. Rowling, Michael Jackson, Roseanne Barr. Recent years have proven rife with revelations about the misdeeds, objectional views, and, in some instances, crimes of popular artists. Spurred in part by the #metoo movement, and given more access than ever thanks to social media and the internet in general, the public has turned an alert and critical eye upon the once-hidden lives of previously cherished entertainers. But what should we members of the public do, think, and feel in response to these artists’ actions or statements? It’s a predicament that many of us face: whether it’s possible to disentangle the deeply unsettled feelings we have toward an artist from how we respond to the art they produced. As consumers of art, and especially as fans, we have a host of tricky moral question to navigate: do the moral lives of artists affect the aesthetic quality of their work? Is it morally permissible for us to engage with or enjoy that work? Should immoral artists and their work be “canceled”? Most of all, can we separate an artist from their art? In Drawing the Line, Erich Hatala Matthes employs the tools of philosophy to offer insight and clarity to the ethical questions that dog us. He argues that it doesn’t matter whether we can separate the art from the artist, because we shouldn’t. While some dismiss the lives of artists as if they are irrelevant to the artist’s work, and others instrumentalize artwork, treating it as nothing more than a political tool, Matthes argues both that the lives of artists can play an important role in shaping our moral and aesthetic relationship to the artworks that we love and that these same artworks offer us powerful resources for grappling with the immorality of their creators. Rather than shunning art made by those who have been canceled, shamed, called out, or even arrested, we should engage with it all the more thoughtfully and learn from the complexity it forces us to confront. Recognizing the moral and aesthetic relationships between art and artist is crucial to determining when and where we should draw the line when good artists do bad things.”
  • Citizen scientists find 10,000 new variable stars. More than 3,100 volunteers search the Milky Way in new project.”
  • Here’s the chemistry behind marijuana’s skunky scent. Newly identified sulfur compounds in cannabis flowers give the plant its telltale funky odor.”
  • Rock cakes? Stonehenge builders may have enjoyed mince pies. Archaeologists say neolithic version of energy bars may also have been eaten at midwinter feasts.”
  • Watch—”Extinct tree from the time of Jesus rises from the dead in Israel – BBC REEL”—”Forests of Judean date palm trees once covered ancient Israel, from Lake Galilee to the Dead Sea. The fruit of the tree symbolised life and prosperity and was praised in ancient literature for its unique medicinal properties. But the dates of Judea were made extinct by the Middle Ages. Now a team of scientists has succeeded in resurrecting the ancient tree.”
  • 800-Year Old Peruvian Mummy Unearthed Rope-Bound in Cajamarquilla“—”A mummy has recently been discovered by archeologists in Peru, estimated to be 800-1,200 years old, and was unearthed in Cajamarquilla, near the capital city of Lima. National University of San Marcos researchers unearthed the preserved rope-bound body on an archaeological site, underground in the middle of the town square, roughly 25 kilometers from Lima.”
  • World’s vast networks of underground fungi to be mapped for first time. Project aims to help protect some of trillions of miles of the ‘circulatory system of the planet’.”
  • Climate Change Is Transforming the Bodies of Amazonian Birds. A 40-year study found 77 species of rainforest birds weigh less on average, and many have longer wings, than they used to.”
  • Cleaning Up. Thanks to disgraceful government failures, an illegal waste-dumping mafia is now burning and burying millions of tonnes of dangerous materials.”
  • The Climate Movement’s Secret Weapon. Federal agencies have an opportunity to take immediate action against climate change using anti-monopoly policy.”
  • Russia threatens criminal charges against a NASA astronaut. Russia continues to deflect from embarrassing situation that occurred 3 years ago.”
  • From 2020: “These Snow Goggles Demonstrate Thousands of Years of Indigenous Ingenuity. Made in Alaska and fashioned to protect against snow glare, the eyewear was carved from whale baleen circa 1890.”—”This style of eyewear can even improve vision, as Ann Fienup-Riordan discovered one day in 2010. An Anchorage-based anthropologist who works with the Yupik people to develop exhibits and books about their culture, she had recently undergone surgery on her retinas, and ‘the vision in my right eye was still pretty fuzzy,’ she says. But when she held the Yupik goggles up to her eyes? ‘I could see!’ What was going on? It turns out the slit focuses the light, much as a pinhole camera does. As a result, far-off objects appear sharper ‘and your vision was much, much better,’ Fienup-Riordan says. Long before the invention of eyeglasses with glass or plastic lenses, Alaska’s indigenous inhabitants, including the Yupik people, devised their own corrective eyewear. Phillip Moses, a tribal member in Toksook Bay, calls them ‘Yupik prescription sunglasses.'”
  • Meet the Cyberpunk Albatrosses Scanning for Secret Explosions. Acoustic waves can detect all kinds of explosions and volcanic activity, but it’s hard to place sensors at sea—unless you’ve got a bird with a backpack.”
  • It’s Time to Reimagine the Future of Cyberpunk. In the 20th century, the genre imagined the body modifications and protective streetwear that could save us from our own future. Now it needs to envision humanity anew.”
  • Tweet thread—”A striking measure of Amazon’s monopoly power is the vast stream of cash that it extracts from the businesses that have to rely on its site. In a new report, we find that Amazon is pocketing a 34% cut of sellers’ revenue — up from 19% in 2014. 1/” “For much of Amazon’s history, people thought of it as a retailer. But all along Bezos was building something else entirely: a corporation that would control essential infrastructure and use that control to levy a steep tax on the trade of rival businesses. /11”
  • Elon Musk says SpaceX could face ‘genuine risk of bankruptcy’ from Starship engine production“—”In an email sent to SpaceX employees, obtained by Space Explored, Elon Musk addressed the ‘crisis’ of Starship Raptor engine production and said the company could face a ‘genuine risk of bankruptcy’ if the company is unable to achieve a Starship flight rate of once every two weeks next year.”
  • Tweet—”not sure anyone has heard but, I resigned from Twitter” Also tweet—”Jack Dorsey is quitting Twitter to focus on his duties as advisor and court sorcerer of Tsar Nicholas II.”
  • Tesla Fan Driving Minivan Busted For DUI After Roll-Over Accident“—”A motorist who has a Tesla logo tattooed on his face was driving a 1992 minivan when he was arrested Friday on a felony DUI count and multiple vehicular charges, according to Illinois police.”
  • “Epic CEO Blasts Apple and Google, Calls for Single App Store. Fortnite maker Epic Games is fighting mobile giants in court. Tim Sweeney praised South Korea for leading anti-monopoly push.”—”‘What the world really needs now is a single store that works with all platforms,’ Sweeney said in an interview in Seoul on Tuesday.” Wait. Whut?! A universal cross-platform monopoly is definitely fucking not what the world needs to deal with siloed ecosystem monopolies. FFS. A pox on both those houses!
  • Here’s the Best Strike for Most People“—”Many Wirecutter staff realized early on that their Times colleagues weren’t as excited about their arrival, even as the then-CEO extolled at sale time that Wirecutter ’embodies the same standards and values that are the pillars of our own newsroom.’ But Wirecutter was always treated as a second-class citizen, isolated in its own Slack, its own offices, and its own reporting structure under Perpich. It never joined the newsroom, and its work was openly sneered at by some longtime staffers. Many Times staffers don’t believe their work is journalism at all. The pay scale, as well, is substantially different from Times salaries. Even Times fellows, which are yearlong full-time jobs in the newsroom designed to train emerging journalists, receive a significantly higher salary than the starting rate for Wirecutter writers.” “This limited strike hopes to be a part of a wave of organizing and action, from Starbucks to John Deere to Columbia University’s student workers to Amazon, that is proving the worth of organizing labor. Striketober is giving way to Strikevember and leading into Strike … cember? Hmm, we’ll keep working on that.”
  • Mr. Goxx, the Crypto-Trading Hamster, Is Dead. If you got all your financial advice from a hamster, your portfolio is in serious trouble because he’s dead.”
  • Tweet—”countries banned because of the omicron variant vs. countries with confirmed omicron cases.” Not only repeating past mistakes, but: “Omicron COVID variant was in Europe before South African scientists detected and flagged it to the world.”
  • Vaccine Nationalism. The world’s richest countries have undermined the international cooperation we need to end this pandemic.”
  • Catherine the Great’s Pro-Vaccination Letter Heads to Auction“—”A 1787 letter from Catherine the Great advocating for smallpox vaccination — a sustained effort that commenced when she became the first person in Russia to receive the vaccine, in 1768 — is bound for the auction block at MacDougall’s in London, where it will be a highlight of the December 1 ‘Important Russian Art’ sale. The letter is being sold as a bundle with a half-length portrait of the Empress by Ukrainian Russian painter Dmitry Levitsky, for an estimate of up to $1.6 million.”
  • Hoax Email Blast Abused Poor Coding in FBI Website“—”The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) confirmed today that its fbi.gov domain name and Internet address were used to blast out thousands of fake emails about a cybercrime investigation. According to an interview with the person who claimed responsibility for the hoax, the spam messages were sent by abusing insecure code in an FBI online portal designed to share information with state and local law enforcement authorities.”
  • How the Far-Right Is Radicalizing Anti-Vaxxers. Far-right groups have latched onto anti-vaccine protests and rallies, creating a pipeline to extremism.”
  • Spies in the Ointment: Which Way Will FBI, CIA Swing if Trump Returns? Intelligence veterans anxious about Trump reelection prospects—’by any means necessary’.”
  • Inside the ‘big wave’ of misinformation targeted at Latinos“—”Heading into a midterm election in which control of Congress is at stake, lawmakers, researchers and activists are preparing for another onslaught of falsehoods targeted at Spanish-speaking voters. And they say social media platforms that often host those mistruths aren’t prepared.”
  • How a Crazy Plan to Rebuild Waco Compound Gave Us Alex Jones. The conspiracy-mongering loon has long poisoned American politics. This is the oft-untold story of how violence, bloodshed, and a right-wing radio rivalry birthed Alex Jones.”
  • Red States Are Now Paying Unemployment Benefits to Anti-Vaxxers Who Quit Their Jobs. Republican governors have decided to coddle vaccine refusers, even as they cut benefits for everyone else.” Tweet—”It seems clear that the GOP doesn’t see unemployment insurance as “paying people to not work.” It appears (and we always knew this to be true) that their concern is paying “those people” to not work. This is why we need UBI. It’s wrong to pick and choose who has an income floor.”
  • Homicide is a top cause of maternal death in the United States. Evaluation of death certificates from national database paints grim picture for pregnant women.”—”The researchers found that US women who are pregnant or were pregnant in the past 42 days (the post-partum period) die by homicide at more than twice the rate that they die of bleeding or placental disorders — the leading causes of what are usually classified as pregnancy-related deaths. Also, becoming pregnant increases the risk of death by homicide: between the ages of 10 and 44 years, women who are pregnant or had their pregnancy end in the past year are killed at a rate 16% higher than are women who are not pregnant.”
  • This Land Is My Land. Many landowners view themselves as environmental stewards. But can the environment ever be protected within the frame of private property?”
  • Tweet—”I used to respect Starbucks as a smart, innovative company. BUT I’ve lost respect for Starbucks because of the dirty, hardball tactics it has used against the unionization drive in Buffalo: It closed a store where 80% of the workers signed pro-union cards. Starbucks executives say it should be up to the employees whether they want a union. But Starbucks has mounted one of the most intense & aggressive anti-union efforts I’ve ever seen to pressure its Buffalo workers to vote against the union.” Also “Starbucks launches aggressive anti-union effort as upstate New York stores organize. Management urges baristas to reject the union at mandatory ‘listening’ sessions and shuts stores holding drives.”
  • The Black people who lived in Walden Woods long before Henry David Thoreau. Until recently, there was little acknowledgment that Walden Woods was first occupied by formerly enslaved men and women whose experience of self-sufficiency was harrowingly different from Thoreau’s famous experiment near Concord, Mass.”
  • Tweet thread—”‘Anti-racism is anti-white’ is the old and explosive mantra of avowed White supremacists. I document how it has been their organizing vehicle, fueling backlashes, fueling delusions that antiracism is the new racism. 1/7″ Also “The Mantra of White Supremacy. The idea that anti-racist is a code word for “anti-white” is the claim of avowed extremists.”—”When the medicine is rebranded as the disease, the disease will inevitably persist—and it has.”
  • The Missing Voices In The Panic Over Critical Race Theory. Virginia’s Black families say their views have been sidelined in the uproar over teaching about race and racism in schools.”
  • After 40 years, the man wrongfully convicted of Alice Sebold’s rape has been exonerated“—”Broadwater’s exoneration was set in motion by Tim Mucciante, producer of the Netflix adaptation of Lucky. Mucciante had signed on as executive producer of the adaptation, but when he saw the first draft of the script—which was significantly different from the book—he became skeptical of Broadwater’s guilt. ‘I started poking around and trying to figure out what really happened here,’ Mucciante told the Associated Press. Mucciante hired a private investigator, who put him in touch with the defense lawyers who eventually overturned Broadwater’s conviction.”
  • AIDS History Is A Remedy. When pharmacist Ruth Madievsky decided to specialize in HIV/AIDS care, she didn’t realize how important it was to know the stories of those who came before her.”
  • Macron switches to using navy blue on France’s flag – reports. President Emmanuel Macron has switched to using a darker navy blue on the official French flag, replacing the previous brighter shade, officials have told local media.”—”The move saw flags in the new hue hoisted on the presidential palace last year without any accompanying fanfare. Mr Macron wanted to bring back the navy blue flag, a symbol of the French Revolution, Europe 1 said. However, both the darker and lighter flags have been in use for decades. France’s navy and many official buildings around the country have always used the navy blue shade. But in 1976 under President Giscard d’Estaing, the French state introduced a brighter blue on the tricolour to match the blue on the flag of Europe. That decision was partly an aesthetic one, Europe 1 reports, because the French and European flags flew next to each other in so many locations. The Élysée Palace has not publicly announced its change in flags, and no orders have been given for other institutions to do the same.” Also “Sacré bleu: French flag changes colour – but no one notices. Blue part of flags flying around Élysée Palace was made darker in July last year but change went largely unnoticed.”—”Emmanuel Macron’s office has darkened the blue in the French flags flying around the Élysée Palace to bring the tricolore in line with how it looked after the French revolution. Presidential aides said the change happened in July last year, but nobody appears to have noticed until now. France’s navy has stuck with navy blue since the 18th century, when the flag became a symbol of the revolution. The French state introduced a lighter shade of blue on its flags in the 1970s.”
  • Russia Reopens the Last Czar’s Palace, a Century After His Execution. The last home of Nicholas II has been restored and opened to the public as a museum outside of St. Petersburg.”
  • Mr. Beast’s Squid Game Ripoff Is Exactly the Kind of Video YouTube Rewards. While the video is popular, it’s a reductive rip off of the original, not a triumph for the ‘creator economy.'”
  • As Calls to Ban Books Intensify, Digital Librarians Offer Perspective“—”Everyone’s perspectives should matter and be represented in the democratic process. A library must offer diverse materials so people can draw their own conclusions, said Mek. He embraces the oft-cited quote from librarian Jo Godwin: ‘A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.'”
  • WildCard“—”I made this in my spare time with apologies to the creators of HyperCard, to see how it would be on the modern web. A HyperCard stack is like a pack of note cards that can be flipped through but stay in order. You can add or remove cards from your stack. Each card can have button and field parts; to edit them, choose the appropriate tool, then drag and resize them. You make new ones by dragging a box with the command key. …I’m not asking for any money; I just wanted to remember how much fun HyperCard was. If you think there’s any fun you could be having but you aren’t, send me a message, or make a stack and upload it! The screens are bigger and better, but the stacks are still the same size! Have a good time!”
  • Tweet—”Honey, please wake up our son.”
  • Tweet—”Libertarians.” Although I think house cats actually understand and appreciate things more than this would suggest, so unfairly maligns them in comparison.
  • Watch “Around the World in 80 Days: Official Preview“—”Let the race against the clock begin! Phileas Fogg (David Tennant), Abigail Fix (Leonie Benesch), and Jean Passepartout (Ibrahim Koma) are setting out on the adventure of a lifetime, starting on Sunday, January 2, 2022 at 8/7c.”
  • 52 things I learned in 2021“—”4. 10% of US electricity is generated from old Russian nuclear warheads. … 10. Short afternoon naps at the workplace lead to significant increases in productivity, psychological well-being and cognition. In contrast, an extra 30 minutes sleep at night shows no similar improvements. … 21. Women’s relative earnings increase 4% when their manager becomes the father of a daughter, rather than a son. This daughter effect was found in 25 years of Danish small-business data. … 37. The notion of a personal ‘Carbon Footprint’ was invented by Ogilvy & Mather for BP in the early 2000s. … 47. The entire global cosmetic Botox industry is supported by an annual production of just a few milligrams of botulism toxin. Pure toxin would cost ~$100 trillion per kilogram.”
  • Wait. This thing is still around, or again? Does this mean they can actually be gotten?! “Walmart pulls children’s toy that swears and sings in Polish about doing cocaine” This was a thing back in Aug 2021 too! So, again?

Omnium Gatherum: 28nov2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for November 28, 2021

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

  • What the History of ‘Spirit Photography’ Portends for the Future of Deepfake Videos. Today’s video hoaxes can be downright ugly. But image-makers have been fooling viewers from the beginning.”
  • Watch “Benedetta – Official Trailer”—”A film by Paul Verhoeven, with Virginie Efira, Charlotte Rampling, Daphné Patakia and Lambert Wilson. In French cinemas on July 9th 2021. In the late 17th century, with plague ravaging the land, Benedetta Carlini joins the convent in Pescia, Tuscany, as a novice. Capable from an early age of performing miracles, Benedetta’s impact on life in the community is immediate and momentous.” Also watch “Benedetta – Official Trailer | HD | IFC Films”—”Opening in theaters December 3 and on VOD December 21. Director: Paul Verhoeven. Starring: Virginie Efira, Charlotte Rampling, Daphne Patakia. Based on a true story, a 17th-century nun becomes entangled in a forbidden lesbian affair with a novice. But it is Benedetta’s shocking religious visions that threaten to shake the Church to its core.” Based on Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Judith C Brown—”The discovery of the fascinating and richly documented story of Sister Benedetta Carlini, Abbess of the Convent of the Mother of God, by Judith C. Brown was an event of major historical importance. Not only is the story revealed in Immodest Acts that of the rise and fall of a powerful woman in a church community and a record of the life of a religious visionary, it is also the earliest documentation of lesbianism in modern Western history. Born of well-to-do parents, Benedetta Carlini entered the convent at the age of nine. At twenty-three, she began to have visions of both a religious and erotic nature. Benedetta was elected abbess due largely to these visions, but later aroused suspicions by claiming to have had supernatural contacts with Christ. During the course of an investigation, church authorities not only found that she had faked her visions and stigmata, but uncovered evidence of a lesbian affair with another nun, Bartolomeo. The story of the relationship between the two nuns and of Benedetta’s fall from an abbess to an outcast is revealed in surprisingly candid archival documents and retold here with a fine sense of drama.”
  • Crowdfunding with 59 days to go: “CloisterFox Zine: A bi-annual zine of British speculative fiction.”—”Hello! I’m Verity Holloway, a writer and editor in East Anglia. I’m launching CloisterFox, a bi-annual zine of British strange fiction. Every six months, I aim to release a zine of six captivating, genre-bending short stories in an A5 perfect bound volume, richly illustrated, ideal for throwing in your bag. Zines are once again having a moment. The pleasure of having a beautiful book to hold and admire is something every reader can relate to. It’s long been a dream of mine to host excellent speculative fiction in a beautiful setting. CloisterFox is a wry creature strolling somewhere he shouldn’t, lending vivid colour to dreary train journeys and bus stop ennui. I want to publish stories that creep uninvited along quiet corridors. Stories missed by shoppers hurrying by. Secrets, miracles, universes behind locked tenement doors. Ghosts and gallows. The dress in the attic as seen through a haze of neon. Tell me things I don’t know. Tell me the dreams you can’t forget. Tell me strange things.”
  • At The Mountains of Madness – Volume II [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by François Baranger, H P Lovecraft—”Return to the final days of the Dyer expedition in the remote Antarctic wastes. The letters from expedition leader Professor William Dyer grow increasingly more desperate as the expedition presses on, leaving sanity behind them. What they discover beneath the ice is meant for no living man to see, Cyclopean structures and alien landscapes that defy history itself. The final act of the Dyer Expedition is a descent into cosmic horror and utter madness. H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, first published in 1936, is one of the greatest classics of American horror literature. The most ambitious story Lovecraft ever wrote, it has served as a source of inspiration for filmmakers and authors in the decades since his death. This is the second volume of two. François Baranger, an illustrator with experience working in both the film and gaming industries, was fascinated early on by Lovecraft’s creatures and visions which populated the darkest recesses of fantasy. Having previously illustrated The Call of Cthulhu to great acclaim, this book is his most ambitious creation so far.”
  • Surrealist sabotage and the war on work [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Abigail Susik—”In Surrealist sabotage and the war on work, art historian Abigail Susik uncovers the expansive parameters of the international surrealist movement’s ongoing engagement with an aesthetics of sabotage between the 1920s and the 1970s, demonstrating how surrealists unceasingly sought to transform the work of art into a form of unmanageable anti-work. In four case studies devoted to surrealism’s transatlantic war on work, Susik analyses how artworks and texts by Man Ray, André Breton, Simone Breton, André Thirion, Óscar Domínguez, Konrad Klapheck, and the Chicago surrealists, among others, were pivotally impacted by the intransigent surrealist concepts of principled work refusal, permanent strike, and autonomous pleasure. Underscoring surrealism’s profound relevance for readers engaged in ongoing debates about gendered labour and the wage gap, endemic over-work and exploitation, and the vicissitudes of knowledge work and the gig economy, Surrealist sabotage and the war on work reveals that surrealism’s creative work refusal retains immense relevance in our wired world.”
  • Inside the rise of ‘antiwork,’ a worker’s strike that wants to turn the labor shortage into a new American Dream. The ‘antiwork’ movement is rapidly growing, as people — especially Gen Zers — embrace a work-free lifestyle. Both an online and in-person movement, it’s about workers pushing back against exploitation and rethinking possibilities. Insider spoke to three antiworkers about why they’ve left working behind, and what it means about the American Dream.”
  • A Gut-Wrenching but Graceful Photo Project on Trump’s America.” About Property Rights [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Mitch Epstein, Susan Bell—”Who owns the land, by whose authority, and with what rights? Mitch Epstein examines the American government’s ongoing legacy of property confiscation, and how communities gather to resist. Epstein began his latest series in 2017 at Standing Rock, where thousands protested the installation of the Dakota Access Pipeline on Sioux land. Over four years, he charted other contested lands from Pennsylvania and Hawaii to the Mexican border, as well as land loss through wildfires and flooding due to egregious environmental negligence. In keeping with Epstein’s 50-year exploration of American life, Property Rights questions the relationship between institutions, civil rights and the rights of nature itself. Acknowledging our bodies and lives as our most fundamental property, the book examines other forms of trespass and destruction in an elegy to the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre, and in photographs of Black Lives Matter protests during COVID-19. Property Rights includes the voices of activists Epstein interviewed while making this deeply personal and political work. In a time of alarming division, the book describes diverse communities in a common fight against politicians and plutocrats willing to sacrifice the people’s well-being.”
  • Reasons First.” About Reasons First [Amazon, Bookshop UK, Publisher, Local Library] by Mark Schroeder—”In the last five decades, ethical theory has been preoccupied by a turn to reasons. The vocabulary of reasons has become a common currency not only in ethics, but in epistemology, action theory, and many related areas. It is now common, for example, to see central theses such as evidentialism in epistemology and egalitarianism in political philosophy formulated in terms of reasons. And some have even claimed that the vocabulary of reasons is so useful precisely because reasons have analytical and explanatory priority over other normative concepts-that reasons in that sense come first. Reasons First systematically explores both the benefits and burdens of the hypothesis that reasons do indeed come first in normative theory, against the conjecture that theorizing in both ethics and epistemology can only be hampered by neglect of the other. Bringing two decades of work on reasons in both ethics and epistemology to bear, Mark Schroeder argues that some of the most important challenges to the idea that reasons could come first are themselves the source of some of the most obstinate puzzles in epistemology: about how perceptual experience could provide evidence about the world, and about what can make evidence sufficient to justify belief. Schroeder shows that, along with moral worth, one of the very best cases for the fundamental explanatory power of reasons in normative theory actually comes from knowledge.”
  • Giant, free index to world’s research papers released online. Catalogue of billions of phrases from 107 million papers could ease computerized searching of the literature.”
  • New tests show neolithic pits near Stonehenge were human-made. Ring of hollows has been called the largest prehistoric structure found in Britain, but some were sceptical.” Also “Stonehenge breakthrough: New tests uncover Neolithic secret: ‘It’s one enormous structure’. STONEHENGE experts have made a stunning discovery that they say uncover the Neolithic secrets of our ancestors.”
  • Watch “New species of dinosaur with ‘unusually large nose’ discovered – BBC News”—”A new species of dinosaur with a noticeably large nose has been discovered on the UK’s Isle of Wight. Retired doctor Jeremy Lockwood wanted to prove that the two most common dinosaurs on the Isle were not the only ones to have existed there. He went through old storage boxes of dinosaur bones and when piecing together the skulls, realised they belonged to a totally new species – brighstoneus simmondsi.”
  • Watch “The ancient Calfornian giants destroyed by climate change – BBC News”—”California has been besieged by wildfire this year, taking a huge toll on wildlife as well as human communities. Giant sequoias – the largest trees on earth – can weigh more than 6,000 tonnes and can live for more than 3,000 years, but have suffered in the relentless fires. Sequoia National Park guide Christy Brigham is overcome with emotion when she sees these trees, specially adapted to withstand flames, reduced to charcoal. But as a result climate change and a policy of suppressing small fires, conflagrations have been burning bigger and hotter, destroying the ancient trees.”
  • Watch “Scientists are ‘a step closer to reversing paralysis’ in humans – BBC News”—”US scientists have successfully reversed paralysis in mice, bringing them a step closer to achieving similar results in humans. A new therapy injected into the spinal cords encouraged molecules to “dance”, promoting regeneration in damaged nerves. The team hopes to begin trials in human patients within two years.”
  • Watch “How I created an evolving neural network ecosystem“—”After my last video I got a lot of comments (mainly on Reddit) asking me to make a video explaining how I did it. It took me a while to learn how to video edit, voice act, and animate, so it was about time I presented and explained this project.”
  • Watch “BREAKING: OpenAI GPT-3 Now Open to Public [FREE]“—”OpenAI has removed their wait list. You can now sign up and play around with GPT-3 instantly! In this video, I’ll talk about the announcement and provide a basic walkthrough to experiment with GPT-3.”
  • Watch “The First Internet Hoax – Inside A Mind“—”An urban legend tells of a group of scientists who successfully escaped into another dimension. Join me as we go back in time to a place where the internet was like nothing we see today. Ongs Hat is a ghost town in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. Many Myths and Lergends are said to exist within the area. Such as the Jersey Devil and a tale revolving around a military operation that came into the town and took several individuals nearby who were never heard of again. This is the story of Ong’s Hat.”
  • Tweet—”your holiday being ruined because your wifi bbq needs to do a software update is some real cyberpunk suburban dystopia shit”
  • Confessions of a (former) social media manager“—”The urge to log off is the social media manager’s version of the call of the wild, or maybe the abyss.”
  • Facebook accused of continuing to surveil teens for ad targeting“—”The adtech giant formerly known as Facebook is still tracking teens for ad targeting on its social media platforms, according to new research by Fairplay, Global Action Plan and Reset Australia — apparently contradicting Facebook’s announcement this summer when the tech giant claimed it would be limiting how advertisers could reach kids. Facebook has since rebranded the group business name to ‘Meta’ — in what looks like a doomed bid to detoxify its brand following a never-ending string of scandals. In the latest problem for Facebook/Meta, the adtech giant has been accused of not actually abandoning ad targeting for teens but, per the research, it has retained its algorithms’ abilities to track and target kids — continuing to maintain its AIs’ ability to surveil children so it can use data about what they do online to determine which ads they see in order to maximize engagement and boost its ad revenues.”
  • OK, So Facebook Is Bad. Now What? Facebook, it has become increasingly clear, cannot be trusted to govern itself.”
  • Silicon Everywhere: A Brief History of America’s Tech Hubs. How the shared culture of Silicon Valley has shaped, and been shaped by, the places where tech has taken root.”—”The way people talk about it now, it might seem as though computers had flourished naturally in Northern California like cherries and apricot orchards; that all it took to imagine the potential of terminals and chips was nice weather, garage space for tinkering, and clusters of nerdy white guys. In fact, Silicon Valley was only one of many American tech innovation hubs in the latter half of the twentieth century. But as a topic, the geography of the tech industry is not so straight-forward. For one thing, ‘tech’ is an insufficient catchall term with boundaries that appear more arbitrary as the companies grow (Netflix but not Disney? Tesla but not Ford?) ‘Silicon Valley’ as a metonym captures the shared culture of ‘tech companies’ but that term gets confusing when it is applied to business outside Northern California. These other regions and their histories might bring us closer to understanding what ‘tech’ has meant over time and where the sector is headed.”
  • Race to the Future: What to Know About the Frantic Quest for Cobalt. A New York Times investigation examines the global demand for raw materials as the clean energy revolution takes off. This is what we found.”
  • GoDaddy breach: SSL keys, sFTP, database passwords of WordPress customers exposed. GoDaddy, the popular internet domain registrar and web hosting company, has suffered a data breach that affected over a million of their Managed WordPress customers.”
  • How to find hidden spy cameras with a smartphone“—”Researchers from the National University of Singapore and Yonsei University in South Korea have devised a mobile application that uses smartphones’ time-of-flight (ToF) sensor to find tiny spy cameras hidden in everyday objects. The app is more successful at detecting hidden cams than existing state-of-the-art commercial hidden camera detectors (CC308+, K18) and much more successful than the human eye/brain.”
  • Are We on the Verge of Chatting with Whales? An ambitious project is attempting to interpret sperm whale clicks with artificial intelligence, then talk back to them.”
  • Fears over “worst ever” Covid variant as UK bans flights from southern Africa – BBC News“—”Scientists are warning that a new Coronavirus variant is the “worst” they have seen. The B.1.1.529 variant has mutations which mean it may evade immunity built up by previous Covid infection or vaccination.”
  • Seven From Anti-Vax Doctors’ COVID Conference Fall Sick Within Days. WHEN WILL THEY LEARN? That includes Bruce Boros, who claimed ivermectin was keeping him healthy and said he wanted to smack his own father for getting the vaccine.”
  • Tweet—”Conspiracy theories are everywhere and people don’t understand how harmful they are. I made the original Conspiracy Chart over a year ago. An update was long overdue. This is the 2021 version.” Also, a less serious, but not wrong, update at tweet.
  • Jeffrey Epstein denied having any suicidal thoughts and prison staffers made litany of errors prior to his death, prison documents reveal.” Also “Epstein’s Final Days: Celebrity Reminiscing and a Running Toilet. Newly released records show the disgraced financier living a mundane existence in jail before his suicide, while also spinning deceptions until the very end.”
  • The Disinformation That Got Told: Michael Cohen Was, in Fact, Hiding Secret Communications With The Kremlin.”
  • From 2017: “The Official Future Is Dead! Long Live the Official Future! A year after Donald Trump’s improbable election, the post-Cold War Official Future has collapsed—and in its place have emerged a bewildering array of possibilities.”—”One way to try to understand the uncanniness of our political moment is by analogy to the Overton Window, a policy concept developed by the late Joseph Overton, a lawyer at the public choice economics-oriented Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Michigan. The Overton Window refers to the fact that for any given policy debate, there are usually limits on the range of ‘acceptable’ possibilities, with ideas outside those boundaries dismissed as ‘fringe’ or ‘radical’ or ‘unthinkable.’ Overton’s central point was that what’s considered “reasonable” can and does shift over time. Ideas that were once considered too radical for serious consideration can, as a result of sudden events or concerted public relations campaigns, come to seem acceptable; conversely, ideas that were once considered sensible can come to seem unconscionable. In other words, as political norms shift, the window of so-called reasonable policy positions can open and close. Now, if we combine the concepts of the Official Future and Overton Window, what we get is a way to think about the range of ‘plausible’ potential futures, that is, futures that supposedly sober and judicious people believe can actually take place. And my thesis here is that this window of plausible futures—what I will call the ‘Schwartz Window’—has since November 2016 been blown wide open, with the winds of Hurricane Trump threatening to tear it right out of the wall.” “The most important of these lessons is that the Schwartz Window rarely stays this wide open for long. This is true first and foremost because living with a radically open future is cognitively exhausting—people crave a sense of certainty about the future, which is precisely what the Official Future is meant to provide. This means there is unmet demand for political leadership that has the confidence and charisma to impose a compelling new vision for the future. It is in the nature of complex social systems that if incumbent elites fail to reassert control, they will be replaced by new elites who are willing and able to do so. This is precisely the role that Thatcher and Reagan played when they came to power in United Kingdom and the United States at the start of the 1980s. Who will be the Thatcher and Reagan of our unsettled, Schwartzian moment? In other words, who will have the political vision and strength to establish a new Official Future? Well, what we know is this: in revolutionary situations, it’s usually the Leninists who win.”
  • We Made a Horror Movie About Pizzagate, then the Death Threats Started. ‘The Pizzagate Massacre’ is the best movie about the Trump era, and now everyone can finally watch it.” Watch “Exclusive Trailer Debut: THE PIZZAGATE MASSACRE.” Watch The Pizzagate Massacre [Amazon, IMDB] dir John Valley, with Tinus Seaux, Alexandria Payne, Lee Eddy—”A dark social satire inspired by the real life conspiracy theory known as Pizzagate. An amateur journalist and a far-right militiaman team up to expose the ugly truth behind rumors involving sex cults, a pizza place and the lizard people.”
  • As two Fox contributors quit over Tucker Carlson, an alarming truth is revealed. Time for a serious reckoning with the right wing’s ongoing flirtation with political violence.”
  • US added to list of ‘backsliding’ democracies for first time. ‘Visible deterioration’ in US civil liberties began in at least 2019, says international thinktank.”
  • Everything the press said about the economy was wrong. It’s surging.” Tweet thread—”‘It’s a royal flush of economic good news.’ ‘Today’s press coverage suggests the economy is an albatross around Biden’s political neck. In reality, it’s booming.'”
  • We’re a Small Arkansas Newspaper. Why Is the State Making Us Sign a Pledge About Israel? I publish The Arkansas Times. We refused to sign an anti-B.D.S. law because it violates our First Amendment rights.”
  • Exclusive: Notre-Dame interior faces woke ‘Disney’ revamp. Critics aghast at plans seen by The Telegraph for ‘Christianity for dummies’ trail inside Notre-Dame.”
  • Prince William blames African population pressure for wildlife loss. The Duke of Cambridge has renewed his attack on the increasing impact human population is having on Africa’s wildlife, despite having been accused of hypocrisy for criticising population growth while expecting his third child.” Tweet—”Can’t ever take this shit as anything more than arrogance and a new twist on the old view of Africa as a barbaric continent that needs to be controlled.”
  • Britain launches review of bias in medical devices. The investigation was triggered by research on blood oxygen monitors.”—”Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine in late 2020 found that pulse oximeters, which usually calculate the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream by sending light through the fingertip, are more likely to miss low levels of oxygen in Black patients than white patients. The finding also caught the attention of United States lawmakers, who asked the Food and Drug Administration to review the devices. The agency put out a warning about its limitations in February. The review will look at bias in all medical devices, not just pulse oximeters, and will evaluate them for gender bias, as well as racial bias. Javid didn’t specifically call out medical algorithms, but those could potentially be included as they’re often regulated as medical devices in the US and UK. Over the past few years, expert analysis of algorithms showed that they’re often built in ways that reproduce racial bias.”
  • Enslaved to a Founding Father, She Sought Freedom in France. Brought from America to Paris by John Jay, an enslaved woman named Abigail died there trying to win her liberty as the statesman negotiated the freedom of the new nation.”
  • Human smuggling, forced labor among allegations in south Georgia federal indictment. Newly unsealed indictment targets 24 defendants for human trafficking.”—”Two dozen defendants indicted on federal conspiracy charges after a transnational, multi-year investigation into a human smuggling and labor trafficking operation that illegally imported Mexican and Central American workers into brutal conditions on South Georgia farms.” “The conspirators are accused of raping, kidnapping and threatening or attempting to kill some of the workers or their families, and in many cases sold or traded the workers to other conspirators. At least two of the workers died as a result of workplace conditions.”
  • I Was With Family. Suddenly, a White Man Appeared with a Gun. We do not just remember the death. We remember the life, the beauty, the art, the feeling, the waiting, the living.”—”It is white power, and the addiction to it, that forces us to live in a country where Black teens are seen as guilty adults and are killed while white teens can kill people but be seen as innocent kids.”
  • Cops Are Needlessly Scaring People With Fentanyl-Laced Weed Stories. A Connecticut health alert warned about a “lab confirmed” case of weed laced with fentanyl, but there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical.”—”For years, law enforcement has been claiming that dealers are lacing weed with fentanyl, the scariest possibility as synthetic opioids flood the illicit drug supply. Then last week, a public health alert reported a ‘lab confirmed’ case. The problem is the evidence is weak and anecdotal but can still be used to justify the ongoing war on drugs, experts told VICE News.” “But doctors and drug policy experts said the case is extremely rare, and fentanyl-laced weed remains largely a myth spread by police. Even if there was a sample of weed with fentanyl in it, it’s more likely due to accidental contamination than intentional lacing, they said.”
  • Mixtape | Official Trailer | Netflix”—”As the world approaches Y2K, a quirky 12-year-old sets out on a journey to find songs on a mixtape crafted by her late parents. Along the way, she builds new friendships, opens up to her grandmother, and finds her own identity.”
  • Childhood: Value and duties“—”In philosophy, there are two competitor views about the nature and value of childhood: The first is the traditional, deficiency, view, according to which children are mere unfinished adults. The second is a view that has recently become increasingly popular amongst philosophers, and according to which children, perhaps in virtue of their biological features, have special and valuable capacities, and, more generally, privileged access to some sources of value. This article provides a conceptual map of these views and their possible interpretations, and notes their bearing on issues of population ethics and on the duties that we are owed during childhood.”
  • ‘Moral molecules’ – a new theory of what goodness is made of“—”How many moral values are there? What are they? What does it take to be a morally good person? Over the centuries, philosophers, theologians and others have offered no shortage of answers to these questions.”
  • What is romantic friendship? Deep and lasting connection comes in many forms: we need a new vocabulary to talk about love.”
  • ‘Buy the Constitution’ Aftermath: Everyone Very Mad, Confused, Losing Lots of Money, Fighting, Crying, Etc. ConstitutionDAO tried to buy the Constitution. Now it has a $40 million mess on its hands and entire refunds are being wiped out by high fees.”—”The community of crypto investors who tried and failed to buy a copy of the U.S. Constitution last week has descended into chaos as people are realizing today that roughly half of the donors will have the majority of their investment wiped out by cryptocurrency fees. Meanwhile, disagreements have broken out over the future of ConstitutionDAO, the original purpose of the more than $40 million crowdfunding campaign, and what will happen to the $PEOPLE token that donors were given in exchange for their contributions.” Presumably some of these dumbasses who threw away money trying to collectively buy a copy are US citizens, and thus already collectively own a couple copies of that document, one of which is often conveniently on display in the Rotunda in DC any time they want to take a gander.
  • Browndages Adult-Size Bandages – 20 Bandages in 5 Tones“—”Browndages is the brainchild of husband and wife duo, Rashid and Intisar. In their house, with three children, they went through bandages as quick as they could buy them. Rashid had the idea to produce a bandage that matches the varying shades of brown, not only in their family but throughout the world. Intisar took it one step further and decided to also produce a bandage with images that would be both representative for their children, and inspirational. Thus, Browndages was born! The hope is that Browndages will become a household name for your family and also serve as positive inspiration for your children.”
  • Watch “Why You Remember The Original Cowboy Bebop So Well“—”Cowboy Bebop is long considered one of the best anime’s of the last several decades. Beloved by fans, the artistic direction, music, characters, and story bring Cowboy Bebop to a level not seen by many of its contemporaries. With the premiere of the live action Cowboy Bebop, we take a look back at where this storied Anime became a fan favorite.” Also “What’s wrong with Netflix’s live-action Cowboy Bebop? The characters, our old-school fan says. These aren’t the cowboys, or the villain, that defined the classic anime, our veteran Bebop fan says.”
  • Watch “Street Gang | Official Trailer | HBO”—”Sunny days, furry friends, classic songs, and a whole lot of heart. Street Gang, an HBO original documentary about the most impactful children’s program in television history, Sesame Street, premieres December 13 on HBO Max.”
  • Watch “Roman Emperor Caligula’s coffee table“—”How a lost mosaic from the Roman emperor’s reign ended up entertaining guests in a New York City apartment.” Spoiler alert: it’s not Caligula’s coffee table, but a coffee table made with a bit of mosaic from Caligula’s boat, previously thought to be lost. Still super cool, but the title is inaccurate.
  • The Internet predicted in 1949 by Tex Avery“—”From the Tex Avery cartoon, ‘The Home of Tomorrow’, the television not only answers questions, it tells questioners to shut up already, and bullies them to stop asking such questions.”
  • I have doubts this is real, except maybe the cat, but it’s definitely a concise epic of cinéma vérité: Tweet—”Этому шедевру немого кинематографа я ставлю 10 из 10!” (I give this masterpiece of silent cinema a 10 out of 10!) Tweet—”There’s more action and mystery in this one minute than the whole of Tenet.”
  • “Unknown” by Azure: tweet thread—”You know that therapy is easier than proving multiple universe theory, right?” Tweet—”This is in the top 5 pieces of fiction I’ve read this year. And I’ve read some AMAZING stuff, so…”
  • Tweet thread—”#StarTrek ships as lesbians, a thread. Ambassador: The Flannel Lesbian. Practical, a bit swole, and very pretty. 1/10″
  • Baron Voodoo [Amazon, Publisher] by Lucky Duck Games—”Welcome to Baron Voodoo, a dice game in which you don’t roll the dice! You’re a Loa, a voodoo god who become the new god of death in place of Baron Samedi.
 To take his place, you have to catch the more soul in one night, before the other Loa!” “In Baron Voodoo you play as a ‘Loa’, a voodoo god, who has the chance to become the new god of death by capturing the most souls, which are represented by 48 gorgeous custom Soul Dice. Every game begins differently as the Soul Dice are rolled and placed onto a 7×7 grid, creating a unique puzzle every time you play. Players will move, stack and capture Soul Dice, placing them into their Spirit World and collecting sets of colors and icons to achieve the most victory points. Players who like a more competitive game can choose to use one of the Fixed setups provided.”
  • Not wrong: tweet—”If enjoy Hawkeye, please pick up the comic that it’s heavily based on. Hawkeye by Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Matt Hollingsworth is one of the best comic arcs Marvel has ever done.” There’s an omnibus, but the cover kinda sucks, especially in comparison, and misses the aesthetic design language, so check out the collected series, which for digital is actually cheaper, as I write this, than the omnibus anyway: Hawkeye (2012-2015) by Matt Fraction, David Aja, &al.—”The breakout star of this summer’s blockbuster Avengers film, Clint Barton – aka the self-made hero Hawkeye – fights for justice! With ex-Young Avenger Kate Bishop by his side, he’s out to prove himself as one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! SHIELD recruits Clint to intercept a packet of incriminating evidence – before he becomes the most wanted man in the world.” There’s also a follow-up series Hawkeye (2016-2018) by Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, Julian Totino Tedesco, &al.—”Remember Hawkeye? No not that Hawkeye, our favorite Hawkeye, the chick who puts the hawk in Hawkeye, the butt-kicking hero who had to save the other Hawkeye’s butt all the time. Yup, you know her, it’s the dazzling Kate Bishop making her solo comics debut! Kate is heading west and returning to Los Angeles, with her bow and arrow and P.I. badge in tow. There are crimes to solve and she’s the best archer to handle ‘em! The City of Angels has a new guardian angel. The talented duo of Kelly Thompson (A-Force, Jem) and Leonardo Romero (Squadron Supreme, Doctor Strange) bring you a Kate Bishop like you’ve never seen her before, in a brand-new ongoing series that really hits the mark!” (You can also find all of these through your local library on Hoopla Digital to check out at no cost, including the All-New Hawkeye series which appears to be between the two I already mentioned, but not well collected on Amazon with the others.) Also, Disney/Marvel need to fucking pay people for their work still.
  • Tweet—”Making Peter Parker, a character incredibly well known for being poor, someone who worships a billionaire is actual propaganda.”
  • The Image Union Is the Future of Comics. ‘We hope this is just the beginning of a tidal wave of unionization in this country. It’s long overdue.'”
  • Tweet—”Excited to finally be able to say that the Hilda movie is coming to netflix on December 30th!” Also “Silvergate Makes Three Key Promotions Within Hilda’s Production Team” mentions season 3 is also still coming, which is great news.
  • Tweet thread —”Use the good copper. Wear the fancy outfit. Stay up later. Sleep in. Rise early. Eat that ice cream. Because if you wait one day you will have never done it and someone will be scraping dust off the promises you made yourself.”

Omnium Gatherum: 22nov2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for November 22, 2021

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

  • MST3K Weekly Update: Nov. 15-19, 2021“—”Join us for this year’s [Mystery Science Theatre 3000] Turkey Day Marathon on Thursday, November 25, starting at 9am ET / 6am PT.” Via “Starting at 9 am ET / 6 am PT on Thursday, November 25, the marathon will feature an extended lineup of eight classic MST3K episodes, with four chosen by fans via a bracket elimination poll and four chosen by Joel Hodgson and the creative team behind Season 13. This year’s marathon will feature new host segments with upcoming Season 13 cast members Jonah Ray, Emily Marsh, Tom Servo (Conor McGiffin), Crow (Nate Begle), and GPC2 (Yvonne Freese). Throughout the marathon, exclusive teasers will reveal each of the 13 films that will be riffed in the show’s upcoming thirteenth season, which will premiere exclusively on the show’s new virtual online theater, the Gizmoplex, in 2022.” “Watch The MST3K Turkey Day Marathon on Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire via the Shout! Factory TV app.” Probably also live on YouTube and Twitch, I’m assuming.
  • The Legend of the Christmas Witch [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Dan Murphy and Aubrey Plaza, illo. Julia Iredale—”From Parks and Recreation star Aubrey Plaza and creative partner Dan Murphy comes the long lost tale of the Christmas Witch, Santa Claus’s much misunderstood twin sister. The perfect gift for the holiday season and beyond! Gather ‘round the fire to hear a Christmas legend that has never been told before…until now. Each year a mysterious figure sweeps into town, leaving behind strange gifts in the night. No, not Santa Claus, but his sister… The Christmas Witch. Her story begins many, many years ago when her brother was torn away from her as a child. Raised alone by a witch of the woods, Kristtōrn’s powers of magic grew, as did her temper. Determined to find her long lost twin, she set out on a perilous journey across oceans to find him. But what she found instead was a deep-seated fear of her powers and a confrontation that would leave the fate of Christmas hanging in the balance. From award-winning producer and actress Aubrey Plaza and her creative partner Dan Murphy comes a holiday story unlike any told before. With all the richness of classic folklore, they’ve woven a tale of bravery, love and magic. Whatever you thought you knew about Christmas…think again.” Also watch “‘Be Me. Tell My Story.’ – How Aubrey Plaza Met The Christmas Witch.”—”Our dear friend Aubrey Plaza makes an unforgettable entrance dressed as the main character in her latest book, ‘The Legend of the Christmas Witch,’ which is available everywhere starting November 16th.” Also watch “Aubrey Plaza Goes All Out to Scare Kids on Halloween.”
  • How H.G. Wells Predicted the 20th Century. Charles Johnson reviews Claire Tomalin’s latest biography, ‘The Young H.G. Wells: Changing the World.'” About The Young H.G. Wells: Changing the Worldhttps://amzn.to/3xb1g8E [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Claire Tomalin—”From acclaimed literary biographer Claire Tomalin, a complex and fascinating exploration of the early life of the influential writer and public figure H. G. Wells. How did the first forty years of H. G. Wells’s life shape the father of science fiction? From his impoverished childhood in a working-class English family and determination to educate himself at any cost to his complicated marriages, love affair with socialism, and the serious ill health that dominated his twenties and thirties, H. G. Wells’s extraordinary early life would set him on a path to become one of the world’s most influential writers. The sudden success of The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds transformed his life and catapulted him to international fame; he became the writer who most inspired Orwell and countless others and predicted men walking on the moon seventy years before it happened. In this remarkable, empathetic biography, Claire Tomalin paints a fascinating portrait of a man like no other, driven by curiosity and desiring reform, a socialist and a futurist whose new and imaginative worlds continue to inspire today.” Also tweet thread—”There is so much wrong with this @nytimes article I don’t even know where to begin. It doesn’t acknowledge the many women who went before, it doesn’t acknowledge the black voice shaping early science fiction. All it does is perpetuate the white male myth – so stale and outdated.” Tweet—”People still believe this shit?” Tweet—”Mary Shelley did not put up with Byron’s bullshit all weekend to have to deal with this.” Tweet—”Everyone is talking about how Mary Shelley invented science fiction as a counter point, but The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter is said to have been written between 871 to 881 and if y’all want to open the canon beyond a eurocentric lens.”
  • Watch “Anna Official Trailer | Premieres on Nov 18 on AMC+”—”The world is ravaged by a virus which kills adults but spares children. Anna only has one guide: a book left by her mother with instructions on how to survive. But, with each passing day she discovers that the old rules no longer apply, and instead has to make up new ones as she goes along. Anna premieres November 18th only on AMC+.” Directed by Niccolò Ammaniti, the author of Anna [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library], trans. Jonathan Hunt—”It is four years since the virus came, killing every adult in its path. Not long after that the electricity failed. Food and water started running out. Fires raged uncontrolled across the country. Now Anna cares for her brother alone in a house hidden in the woods, keeping him safe from ‘the Outside’, scavenging for food amid the packs of wild dogs that roam their ruined, blackened world. Before their mother died, she told them to love each other and never part. She told them that, when they reach adulthood, the sickness will claim them too. But she also told them that someone, somewhere, will have a cure. When the time comes, Anna knows, they must leave their world and find another. By turns luminous and tender, gripping and horrifying, Anna is a haunting parable of love and loneliness; of the stories we tell to sustain us, and the lengths we will go to in order to stay alive.”
  • You Can Buy the Famous Storybook of the Scrapped ’70s ‘Dune’ Movie“—”It will be available for auction on Christie’s website on November 22.” See “HERBERT, Frank (1920-1986), Alejandro JODOROWSKY (né en 1926), Jean GIRAUD (1938-2012) et d’autres. DUNE. SURESNES : IMPRIMÉ PAR LES ATELIERS INDUSTRIELS DE REPROGRAPHIE AVIAPLANS, [CIRCA 1975]. Estimate EUR 25,000 – EUR 35,000″
  • Unknown Dürer drawing—bought for just $30 at a house clearance—could sell for $50m at London gallery. The US family who owned it believed it was a 20th-century reproduction.”
  • Somebody finally fixed the ending of The Giving Tree.” About “the tree who set healthy boundaries. a parody alternate ending for Shel Silverstein’s ‘The Giving Tree’ part of the ‘Topher Fixed It’ series for young people.” Also “The Tree Who Set Healthy Boundaries T-Shirt.”
  • Interstellar visitor ‘Oumuamua wasn’t a nitrogen iceberg, Harvard astrophysicists say. The bizarre interloper called ‘Oumuamua continues to defy explanation.”
  • ‘Dancing molecules’ successfully repair severe spinal cord injuries. After single injection, paralyzed animals regained ability to walk within four weeks.”
  • Live long and prosper: Study examines genetic gems in Galápagos giant tortoise genomes. These big turtles have extra copies of genes that may help them age well and evade cancer, and the creatures’ cells respond to stress in ways that may help to prevent disease, scientists conclude.”
  • New approach provides potential vaccine and treatment for Alzheimer’s. LifeArc scientists, in collaboration with researchers in the UK and Germany, have developed a promising new approach to potentially treat Alzheimer’s disease – and also vaccinate against it.”
  • Quantum brain sensors could spot dementia after University of Sussex scientists find they track brain waves. Sensors introduce important new method to spot bio-marker for brain diseases. Accurate timings of when brain signals fire demonstrated for first time by the Sussex scientists, which has implications for tracking the onset of brain disease. The quantum brain sensors could present a more efficient and accurate alternative to EEG and fMRI scanners.”
  • Novel algorithm on wearable devices can detect irregular heartbeat, may prompt early care. A novel software algorithm developed for wearable devices, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, was able to detect irregular heart rhythms. Analysis of heartbeat data for nearly half a million wearable-device users found that the algorithm was able to accurately detect irregular heart rhythms, indicating possible atrial fibrillation. This feature may help identify individuals with undiagnosed atrial fibrillation and aid in early intervention and improved outcomes.”
  • New cell, shown to regulate heart rate, discovered at University of Notre Dame“—”Researchers at the University of Notre Dame discovered a new type of cell in the heart that may help regulate heart rate, and could be an important key in understanding certain types of congenital heart defects and other diseases that involve the heart. The cells, which were termed nexus glia, resemble critical glial cells called astrocytes in the brain, according to research completed in the lab of Cody Smith, the Elizabeth and Michael Gallagher Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. When the newly identified cells were removed, the heart rate increased, and when they were deprived of a key gene that drives their glial development, the heart beat irregularly.”
  • Back in my day, runner’s high was compared to cocaine. They don’t make the body’s own drugs like they used to, apparently. “Exercise increases the body’s own ‘cannabis’ which reduces chronic inflammation, says new study.”
  • Sniffing a particular body odor molecule found in abundance on the heads of newborn babies reduces aggression in men but increases it in women.”
  • No one tell supervillain Poison Ivy! “New plants that produce and release sex pheromones to fight plant pests have been developed. The plants, obtained by a team from the UPV and the CSIC, could be used in pest control techniques, such as creating sexual confusion in pest males, in the future.”
  • A first biodegradable version of velcro has been created, drawing inspiration from climbing plants, to safeguard the environment. The new technology has been created by a research team led by Barbara Mazzolai at the IIT – Italian Institute of Technology as part of the European project GrowBot, and with the support of the National Geographic Society.”
  • “Press release: Insulation using popcorn? Forest scientists at Göttingen University develop plant-based, environmentally friendly material.”
  • Shape-morphing microrobots deliver drugs to cancer cells“—”Chemotherapy successfully treats many forms of cancer, but the side effects can wreak havoc on the rest of the body. Delivering drugs directly to cancer cells could help reduce these unpleasant symptoms. Now, in a proof-of-concept study, researchers reporting in ACS Nano made fish-shaped microrobots that are guided with magnets to cancer cells, where a pH change triggers them to open their mouths and release their chemotherapy cargo.” “Because tumors exist in acidic microenvironments, the team decided to make the microrobots change shape in response to lowered pH. So the researchers 4D printed microrobots in the shape of a crab, butterfly or fish using a pH-responsive hydrogel.” Watch “Shape-Morphing Microrobots Deliver Drugs to Cancer Cells.”
  • Scientists Develop Promising Vaccine Method Against Recurrent UTI“—”Researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas are investigating the use of whole-cell vaccines to fight urinary tract infection (UTI), part of an effort to tackle the increasingly serious issue of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Dr. Nicole De Nisco, assistant professor of biological sciences, and Dr. Jeremiah Gassensmith, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, recently demonstrated the use of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) to encapsulate and inactivate whole bacterial cells to create a ‘depot’ that allows the vaccines to last longer in the body.”
  • New Study Proves Unsuspected Social Ability in Cats. Cat wants treat. Box is shut. Cat asks for help, yes, she does! How she does that is another matter, and it depends on you.”—”Housecats were presented with a solvable mission, i.e., a treat in a container with a loose lid. What did they do? They solved the problem and ate the treat while ignoring the presence of the caregiver. That is what cats do. If however presented with the insolvable problem, an unreachable (but presumably aromatic) treat in a close container, then things got interesting. They asked for help – and were likely to do so sooner if the person was already engaged with them, i.e., looking at them. If the person was attentive, the cats would look at them more often, engaging their gaze, and would approach the treat more frequently, compared with the case of the caregiver being otherwise occupied” “No kidding. What do we cat owners say? That we knew this all along …”
  • Watch “Rancher Finds T-Rex Bones That Turn Out To Be A Brand New Dinosaur Species! | Dino Hunters“—”Clayton Phipps has some incredible bones and fossils which might end up confirming that there is a new species of mini-tyrannosaurus rex – the Nanotyrannus.”
  • Dino speaks to the UN about climate chaos: Watch “Don’t Choose Extinction – UNDP | United Nations | Jack Black | Climate Action.”
  • Europe’s butterflies are vanishing as small farms disappear. Industrial farms and abandoned ones are both bad for butterflies. Researchers in Spain are trying to combat the trend, one “micro-reserve” at a time.”
  • Economic, environmental and grid-resilience benefits of converting diesel trains to battery-electric“—”Nearly all US locomotives are propelled by diesel-electric drives, which emit 35 million tonnes of CO2 and produce air pollution causing about 1,000 premature deaths annually, accounting for approximately US$6.5 billion in annual health damage costs. Improved battery technology plus access to cheap renewable electricity open the possibility of battery-electric rail. Here we show that a 241-km range can be achieved using a single standard boxcar equipped with a 14-MWh battery and inverter, while consuming half the energy consumed by diesel trains. At near-future battery prices, battery-electric trains can achieve parity with diesel-electric trains if environmental costs are included or if rail companies can access wholesale electricity prices and achieve 40% use of fast-charging infrastructure. Accounting for reduced criteria air pollutants and CO2 emissions, switching to battery-electric propulsion would save the US freight rail sector US$94 billion over 20 years.”
  • FuelPositive“—”Carbon-free Ammonia (NH3) can help change the world! The world has discovered the potential of green ammonia to significantly reduce carbon emissions and surpass our Paris Agreement commitments. Only FuelPositive has the technology to make it happen economically and efficiently now. Our lead product, carbon-free ammonia (NH3), takes air, water and sustainable electricity and converts that into a non-polluting: Chemical for multiple applications. Fertilizer for farming. Fuel for transportation. Fuel for fuel cells. Solution for grid storage.”
  • ‘Spirit of Innovation’ stakes claim to be the world’s fastest all-electric vehicle“—”We believe our all-electric ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft is the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft, setting three new world records. We have submitted data to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) – the World Air Sports Federation who control and certify world aeronautical and astronautical records – that at 15:45 (GMT) on 16 November 2021, the aircraft reached a top speed of 555.9 km/h (345.4 mph) over 3 kilometres, smashing the existing record by 213.04 km/h (132mph). In further runs at the UK Ministry of Defence’s Boscombe Down experimental aircraft testing site, the aircraft achieved 532.1km/h (330 mph) over 15 kilometres – 292.8km/h (182mph) faster than the previous record – and broke the fastest time to climb to 3000 metres by 60 seconds with a time of 202 seconds, according to our data. We hope that the FAI will certify and officially confirm the achievements of the team in the near future. During its record-breaking runs, the aircraft clocked up a maximum speed of 623 km/h (387.4 mph) which we believe makes the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ the world’s fastest all-electric vehicle.” Watch “Rolls-Royce | Spirit of Innovation – the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft“—”We believe our all-electric Spirit of Innovation is the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft, setting three new world records. Rolls-Royce pioneers cutting-edge technologies that deliver clean, safe and competitive solutions to meet our planet’s vital power needs.”
  • Yara to start operating the world’s first fully emission-free container ship.” Watch “Yara Birkeland’s Voyage from Horten to Oslo“—”We are proud to announce that Yara Birkeland, the world’s first fully electric and soon to be autonomous container vessel with zero emissions is ready to be put into operation in 2022! With key collaboration from KONGSBERG, VARD and Enova SF, this project shows how through join efforts, we have developed a world-leading innovation that contributes to the green shift. To celebrate the momentous occasion, Yara Birkeland set sail on November 18th from Horten to Oslo for it’s first and only visit where partners and key stakeholders experienced the ship first-hand and learned more about the process behind this great achievement.”
  • Facebook wants to rule the metaverse space. We can’t let that happen. Let’s not make the same mistake again.” Also watch “Something isn’t right about Meta’s Metaverse“—”One one hand Meta is offering to build our virtual world and provide jobs and money to anyone and everyone in it. On the other hand, this isn’t yours our my metaverse. This isn’t built by the people for the people. This doesn’t feel right and there is everything at stake here.” Also watch “How Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Already Lost The Metaverse“—”Here’s the Four Big Players who have already beaten Meta and are 1,000x the size of Facebook and Meta in the Metaverse.”
  • ‘When Has There Ever Been a Moment of Calm at Facebook?’: The Great Employee Exodus That Wasn’t. Despite scandal after scandal, the company’s perk-drunk employees seem to be weathering the storm—but there are signs of trouble. On the business side, one admits, ‘It doesn’t feel great to be the face of Facebook.'”
  • Microsoft Loop Clones Notion. Eager to beat Notion, Loop brings live components & more.”
  • Microsoft is embarrassing itself and customers can see it. There’s simply no obvious need to behave like this. Yet Redmond merely offers troubling excuses.”—”Do you have friends who constantly struggle with their worst habits? Do they try so very hard to change, yet their old foibles return again and again to annoy and destroy everyone’s mood? Is one of your friends Microsoft?”
  • Twitter Cancels AMP. Twitter says it’s in the process of dropping support for AMP, which will be fully retired by the end of the year.” AMP is an abomination unto the Lord, like Google Cloud Print. Kill them both with fire. But AMP is actually also pure evil, as part of Google’s attempt to enclose the open web, so burning it to death is only a fraction the battle.
  • People are talking about Web3. Is it the Internet of the future or just a buzzword?“—”‘There are a lot of people who have money to invest,’ he said. ‘And they need some vision to throw money at.'”
  • Tweet—”if social media has taught me anything, the average person doesn’t have any media literacy at all. people just watch shows and movies and misinterpret it entirely. they watch a show with a clear message and come out with the exact opposite of the intended message.” Tweet thread—”So, while I think this is TRUE, there are three examples people often turn to as a failure of the reader, and I think they’re actually a failure of the story. They are: Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and Dune. I’ll hold up a clear counter-example to these three at the end. 1/”
  • Watch “NYC’s nonprofit DIY internet is taking on Verizon & more | Just Might Work by Freethink“—”1.5 million New Yorkers lack access to high-speed internet. According to New York City’s research, 40% of households lack either home or mobile broadband connection. And over 1.5 million New Yorkers lack both. This digital divide throws up massive barriers to education, employment, health, banking, social networking, and government service options. One non-profit is looking to challenge the top dogs by providing people with another option of where they get their internet. And they’re doing so by building an internet infrastructure that is cheaper and potentially more reliable. According to NYC Mesh, their mesh internet approach provides numerous advantages. First and foremost: it’s low cost, a key concern for closing the digital divide. NYC Mesh’s service fees are donation based, with the organization suggesting $20-60 depending on what a member can afford. It’s free for those who cannot afford to donate.” Also “NYC’s nonprofit DIY internet is taking on Verizon & more. 1.5 million New Yorkers lack access to high-speed internet. Can a DIY mesh internet network change that?”
  • COVID-19 Likely Started With A Vendor At Wuhan Animal Market, Says New Analysis. With ‘half of early cases’ linked to the area, it ‘becomes very difficult to explain that pattern if the outbreak didn’t start at the market,’ writes Dr. Michael Worobey.”
  • Novel Lyme vaccine shows promise“—”Yale University researchers have developed a novel vaccine that in guinea pigs offers protection against infection by the bacterium that causes Lyme disease and may also combat other tick-borne diseases, they report Nov. 17 in the journal Science Translational Medicine. Instead of triggering an immune response against a particular pathogen, the new vaccine prompts a quick response in the skin to components of tick saliva, limiting the amount of time that ticks have to feed upon and infect the host, the study shows. The vaccine is delivered by the same mRNA technology that has proved so effective against COVID-19.”
  • Snow leopards die of Covid-19 complications at Nebraska zoo.”
  • Boosters give over 90% protection against symptomatic COVID-19 in adults over 50.”
  • Covid: Huge protests across Europe over new restrictions. Tens of thousands of people have been marching in the Belgian capital, Brussels, to protest against anti-Covid measures.”
  • Māori Tribe Tells Anti-Vaxxers To Stop Using Its Haka. The ceremonial dance has been used at anti-vaccine protests in New Zealand without permission.”—”‘Ngāti Toa condemns the use of the Ka Mate haka to push and promote anti-Covid-19 vaccination messages,’ its chief executive officer, Helmut Modlik, said in a statement. ‘Many of our tupuna [ancestors] lost their lives in previous pandemics and our iwi [tribe] suffered greatly. We are absolutely clear that the COVID-19 vaccine is the best protection we have available to us, and we are committed to supporting our whānau [family] to get vaccinated as soon as possible.'”
  • “‘Before insulin, diabetes was a death sentence’: The miracle that two Canadians gave the world 100 years ago is still saving lives.”
  • Tweet—”Federal and state investigators are examining an attempt to breach an Ohio county’s election network that’s strikingly similar to a Republican-fueled incident in Colorado. Data in both instances were distributed at a symposium hosted by Mike Lindell.” Also “Attempted breach of Ohio county election network draws FBI and state scrutiny. The incident, in which a private laptop was plugged into the government computer network inside the office of a Lake County commissioner, came the same month as a similar event in Mesa County, Colo., which is also under FBI investigation.”
  • Watch “The Q Files: Q Faithful Are Still Waiting For JFK In Dallas | Jacob Chansley’s Note To Self”—”Stephen checks in on followers of the QAnon conspiracy, many of whom are camped out in Dallas awaiting the return of JFK (or JFK Jr., we’re not really sure). One notable Q fan who isn’t in Dallas is Jacob Chansley, also known as the QAnon Shaman, who was sentenced to 41 months in prison for his role in the Jan. 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol.”
  • Watch “Flynn, Powell Pushed The Military To Seize Control After T**** Lost The Election.”
  • Two Fox News commentators resign over Tucker Carlson series on the Jan. 6 siege.”
  • Meet the Pro-Coup Caucus Running the House GOP. How the far-right Freedom Caucus has turned into the pro-Trump, pro-insurrection wing of the GOP.”
  • Biden Declared ‘Healthy’ and ‘Vigorous’ After His First Presidential Physical. Vice President Kamala Harris became the first woman to assume acting presidential duties, while President Biden underwent a colonoscopy.”
  • Tweet—”As more states roll out legal marketplaces for recreational pot, a federal raid of a small household marijuana garden on tribal land in northern New Mexico is sowing confusion and resentment about U.S. drug enforcement priorities on Native American lands.” See “Cannabis bust on Indigenous land highlights legal divide.”
  • Hoover Hid That Some Witnesses In Malcolm X Assassination Trial Were FBI Informants. A Manhattan judge exonerated two men convicted of killing the revolutionary leader after decades of doubt about who was responsible for his 1965 death.” Also “‘Who Killed Malcolm X?,’ a Netflix Documentary, Spurred Prosecutors’ Review. Popular documentary series on television also led to indictments against the real estate mogul Robert Durst and the singer R. Kelly.”
  • Republicans Ban Elmo From Attending Conservative Conference. On Thursday, CPAC tweeted that Elmo, Big Bird, Bert and Ernie would not be welcome at its 2022 conference.”—”Seriously … They tweeted about puppets.” “In related news, CPAC organizer Matt Schlapp on Thursday shared that he isn’t happy that ‘Sesame Street’ added an Asian-American muppet to its cast, saying the show is ‘injecting race’ and saying the show won’t stop pushing ‘for woke politics.'”
  • Tweet thread—”Let’s be very clear what this is: Far-right propaganda, entirely indistinguishable from what you’ll read on white supremacist blogs and on rightwing extremist websites. That it was published by the @washingtonpost is outrageous – but, unfortunately, not an accident.” Tweet—”I don’t have a problem with newspapers publishing a variety of opinions. They should. But this @washingtonpost opinion piece by @marcthiessen on ‘The Danger of Critical Race Theory’ contains a whole lie about Martin Luther King. All they had to do is read MLK’s exact words.”
  • Why Bosses Are Inflexible About Flexible Work Arrangements. Since lockdown, employees have adopted new work habits, but many execs want a return to the old normal.
  • Did the Lingerie Business Make Jeffrey Epstein Possible? As the Ghislaine Maxwell trial picks up speed, a look at the financiers behind the infamous financier.”
  • Decentralized remake of Heat. “3 arrested after dozens ransack a Nordstrom store near San Francisco, police say“—”Three suspects were arrested Saturday night after dozens ransacked a Nordstrom department store near San Francisco in what police are calling a “smash-and-grab” incident. About 80 suspects were involved in the crime at the department store in Broadway Plaza, an outdoor mall in Walnut Creek east of San Francisco, and they fled in at least 10 different vehicles …” “The incident followed a series of similar lootings Friday night in Union Square and surrounding areas in San Francisco, including at a Louis Vuitton store, a Burberry store, a jewelry store, a Bloomingdale’s, a Walgreens, cannibis dispensaries and even an eyeglass shop, Police Chief Bill Scott said at a news conference Saturday.” Also “Around 80 People Ransacked The Nordstrom In Walnut Creek, California, In An ‘Organized Theft’. Video showed people running out of the store with bags and fleeing in vehicles that were parked on the street.”
  • Watch “From David Fincher and David Prior | VOIR | Netflix”—”From executive producers David Fincher and David Prior, VOIR is a series of visual essays celebrating Cinema and the personal connection we each have to the stories we see on the big screen. From intimate personal histories to insights on character and craft, each episode reminds us why Cinema holds a special place in our lives.”
  • Jonah Hill To Play Jerry Garcia In Martin Scorsese’s Grateful Dead Film. What a long, strange trip this could be.” Also “Jonah Hill To Play Jerry Garcia In Martin Scorsese-Directed Grateful Dead Pic For Apple“—”After stepping up as a producer on his next film Killers of the Flower Moon, Apple has found its next Martin Scorsese project, and its subject is a band the Oscar winner knows well. Sources tell Deadline that Scorsese is on board to direct and produce a new untitled biopic on the Grateful Dead with Jonah Hill on board to play the group’s frontman, Jerry Garcia.” “Insiders add that with the band and the group’s management participating in the film, Apple has rights to use the group’s musical catalog for the film.”
  • The Puzzle-Maker’s Paradox or The Tricky Art Of Welcoming New Players To Roleplaying”—”I would argue that as game designers, we are perhaps the least-equipped to understand what new players actually need from games. This article is an attempt to dive deeper into the current conversation around new players in TTRPGs, how our biases limit us as designers, and what approaches we can take in the future — or beyond.” “This paradox means the design community self-selects people who were able to play specifically in spite of inaccessible or bad games. Most people, when confronted with something they don’t understand and lack the motivation to dig deeper into, stop engaging with that thing. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably part of the small community of weirdos who have the opposite response.” ” When I’m confronted with something confusing and hard to wrap my head around, I feel an impulsive urge to dig deeper. When I’m shown an unfun game, I want to fix it. This is reasonable, and part of what drives me forward as a creator, but it’s also not an accurate reflection of what most people are like. Some designers are unaware of their place in the paradox, or own it and seek to make games that don’t care about pulling in new players. Other designers are aware of this paradox, but don’t know how to get past it, and so they look to the solutions other games come up with.”
  • Fujifilm announces film-digital hybrid Instax Mini Evo camera. Crank the film advance lever to print.”
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender 3D Laser-Cut Hardwood Map.” Also watch—”Check out this amazing 3D AVATAR The Last Airbender Map!.”
  • The Imperium Is Driven by Hate. Warhammer Is Not.“—”The Imperium of Man stands as a cautionary tale of what could happen should the very worst of Humanity’s lust for power and extreme, unyielding xenophobia set in. Like so many aspects of Warhammer 40,000, the Imperium of Man is satirical.”
  • Property Developer Discovers Secret Passageway Behind Bookshelf in 500-Year-Old House. Freddy Goodall of Brighton, England, detailed his finds in a series of social media videos.”—”Like a scene out of an old mystery movie, a British property developer recently discovered a secret passageway behind a bookshelf in his 500-year-old home. As Mary K. Jacob reports for the New York Post, 23-year-old Freddy Goodall also found an old safe, schoolbooks, letters and other artifacts in the Sussex estate’s network of tunnels. Goodall, who first revealed his finds in a viral TikTok video, was looking at an 1870 photograph of a room in his family’s house when he noticed a doorway where a bookshelf now stands.”
  • Tweet thread—”Finally watching Shang-Chi, here as a bus operator to rate the SFT transit factors of The Bus Scene:” Tweet—”This is f**king amazing.” Also “In ‘Shang-Chi,’ a Muni Line Made Possible by Chinatown Community Advocacy“—”The 1-California carries more than just passengers gawking at superheroes in Marvel blockbusters, though. It carries the history and legacy of San Francisco’s Chinese community, its advocacy, and its perseverance. That is, if you know the history.”
  • Jack Kirby Runs Into the MCU Buzzsaw. ‘Eternals’ and the irony of watching fans trumpet their allegiance to a corporation over artists.”—”Jack Kirby co-created what is now a multi-billion-dollar industry. It’s his work that laid the foundation on which the Marvel Cinematic Universe was built. And it’s that same cinematic universe that has done everything it can to strip any elements of Kirby’s personality from the films. Sadly, the movie fans seem to prefer it this way.”