Instant Message from Ragnar to Astrid

Starforged intertable correspondence Ragnar to Astrid 13jun2022

Rag:

Thanks for sending that info! GTG I’m stuck in a precursor server room!

Ast:

Yikes! Have you tried turning it off and on again?

OOC

(This is an in-game instant message sent from my character Ragnar in a co-op actual play to my Astrid, a character in my solo playthrough, at another table, so this is intertable / crosstable play, both using the Ironsworn: Starforged system.)

There’s not necessarily any in-game content or activity given in this exchange, just something funny. Though, I have the conversation available to me as character information, for both characters, which I can use, if it comes up.

Email from Astrid to Ragnar

Email from Astrid to Ragnar 5jun22

Hey, Rag!

I looked to see if I could find anything about precursor maps and vault configurations mentioned anywhere.

I did find a reference to Sanguis Pyre sector. There’s some kind of deep space structure there. It has a practical function of some kind, so I wonder if that might be the kind of thing you’re seeking. Might be related to your vault configurations!

I’ll send you what information I have about that so you can decide whether to check it out or not.

Good luck!

OOC

(This is an in-game letter sent from my Astrid, a character in my solo playthrough to my character in a co-op actual play, at another table, so this is intertable / crosstable play, both using the Ironsworn: Starforged system.)

I used d100 roles on the Sector Name, (Precursor) Location, (Precursor) Scale, and (Precursor) Form oracles to develop keywords to include in this email, and then riffed the rest based on where Ragnar’s table is at, right now. This is something that can be kept in reserve for use when a role on those tables might be needed next, or as the starter for a new plot line, whatever is most useful.

Summary for the month of May 2022

I have not posted a summary since October 2021 where I talk about throwing in the towel. After that, I was still and only posting Omnium Gatherum, but stopped doing even that in April.

Since then, I’ve also completely left big social media as Rigaroga altogether, even deleted my vestigial re-created account on birdsite. However, I did relatively recently create a new Rigaroga account for myself to contain my geeky things on a particular instance of Hometown, a fork of Mastodon, in the ‘verse. Join me there, from any instance in the ‘verse, if you want.

Furthermore, if you have any interest in more Omnium Gatherum, you could check out Omnium Gatherum which is also on my instance, a raw, eclectic firehose of things that might end up in curated OG posts on the Hermetic Library blog exclusive to library Patrons for a year, after which I make them public.

Also, out of the blue, I’ve started to participate in a new weekly co-op Ironsworn: Starforged actual play, and we’ve got several sessions so far, maybe more for as long as we keep going. Our current schedule is to livestream Saturdays at 3pm US/Central over on Mean Deef and Dice T‘s twitch channels, if you want to watch. Only the first session has shown up on YouTube, but the others will theoretically appear there too. I also sat down with one of my co-players for a conversation I’ve posted.

I currently am hovering around 629± subscribers on YouTube. I seem beyond any expectation to still be gaining a few subscribers each month. I’ve been telling myself that if I somehow reach 666 subscribers at some point in the indeterminate future between now and whenever I die, that I’d come back and post at least one more video to mark the milestone. However, I have no plans to come back on the regular atm, either way, just to set expectations. But, if you want that kind of thing, and aren’t subscribed, then do the thing.

That’s all I’ve got for now, and that’s pretty much all that’s happened between my last update and the end of May that I can think of worth mentioning.

In conversation with streamer Dice T

I met streamer Dice T for the first time during an streamed online so-op session of Shawn Tompkin‘s Ironsworn: Starforged [Also]. In fact, I had also checked out his old Starforged module for Foundry VTT at one point in the past, before it became part of the new combined Ironsworn & Starforged module. You can check also out Dice T on YouTube, Twitter, Discord, and Mastodon. We recently had a conversation about all these things.

Take a moment to introduce yourself! Who are you?

Rigaroga Odd Order interview Dice T

My name is T. Yes, just the letter. Thank you, hippie parents. I am part jock, part punk, and entirely geek. I am a former IT professional and former tabletop game shop owner who simplified their life (“The Purge”) to free up as much time as possible to focus on the gaming world. I think I realized in my mid-40s that I was never going to outgrow gaming, so I decided to embrace it. This content/development side of things is entirely new to me.

Funny enough, my paternal grandfather had only an initial for his middle name, which became the initial of middle names for both my father and I. I never thought that might be at all common, but here we are with two cases! I don’t think I can come up with any others, can you? I mean, aside from fictional characters where their names aren’t fully revealed, or something.

Oddly enough, my brother sold new cars for Dodge/Jeep. He had someone come into the dealership about 10 years ago, buying a car, and his first name was T. He even sent me a picture of his driver’s license because he couldn’t believe it, himself. And it’s entirely possible that he was named T because someone that met me loved my name. I have no idea. But I can say that in my entire life, I can count on one hand how many times someone did not inquire about my name when hearing about it. But even funnier, my brother’s name is Jay. And yes, he got the full name with three whole letters. LOL.

Names are weird. I used to go by my middle name but in my late 20s I started going by my first name because I got tired of explaining my wacky middle name all the time to new people I’d rarely see again, as opposed to being a kid where I’d generally have at least a year with the same people in school.

When I stopped using my middle name, I ran into some strange issues that I’d never had before. There was one time I was flying from Phoenix, with a layover in Chicago, and then to Seattle. When I checked in at the kiosk, my ticket was entirely wrong, but I got it sorted, I thought. When I arrived in Seattle my luggage did not. Turns out there was another John Bell flying a few hours later that day on the same carrier from Phoenix, with a layover in Chicago, and then to Seattle. The kiosk had checked me in as this other person, and the carrier held my luggage back, thinking I was them, until their flight later that day!

Oh, yeah. Twitch wouldn’t authorize my affiliation because their form would not accept one-letter first names. I had to use my middle name. This is not the first time something like that has happened and it won’t be the last.

My middle name is Michael and there was a short time when I was starting high school when I considered going by my middle name, but that was really short-lived. I’ve grown to love the uniqueness of it, and “I pity the fool” who doesn’t.

Running a brick and mortar game shop seems like it’d be fun in the abstract, but I bet on paper it wasn’t. Anything brick and mortar, let alone something in a niche. Even in the beforetimes, there’s one actual shop I’ve been to in years, and it’s functionally at least a full day of travel there and back just to get there; and attending anything at night, like a game night, there would end up being an overnight hotel stay. But I doubt I’ll ever go there again. Just like I’ll probably never ever go to a cinema again. Not just because of contagion, though that’s a thing; but I’m just not into it at all.

There were a million other things I could have invested my money into doing that were more “guaranteed” a success, so yeah, I certainly didn’t do it to get rich. And there are a hell of a lot of people out there that think that if you own a business that you must be wealthy. That could not be further from the truth and for those four years I was open, I never worked harder in my life. But I wanted to build something to build a community around and to hopefully help bring some joy to their lives like they did for me. We had an amazing role-playing community, among others, and I loved being able to provide that place where people of all walks of life could come and share adventure. From the day the doors opened, it felt like the shop was there all along. I suspect that maybe even you would have found it worth the trip. :) I will share a couple pictures of it here.

Rigaroga Odd Order Interview Dice T Stomping Grounds Game Shop 1

Rigaroga Odd Order Interview Dice T Stomping Grounds Game Shop 2

Rigaroga Odd Order Interview Dice T Stomping Grounds Game Shop 3

How’d you get started tabletop gaming?

In the summer of 1979, a neighborhood friend introduced me to Dungeons & Dragons. We played Keep on the Borderlands over and over and over. My mother supported my new habit, and a regular trickle of D&D books would follow over the next several years. I played probably until my mid-twenties and took a hiatus for about 15 years, returning back to gaming in my late 30s or early 40s.

I got into it early too. Literally bought the AD&D Monster Manual when it came out, before anything else was available! Couldn’t even play yet because the other books weren’t out. Also had a huge hiatus before getting back into it, and then another long hiatus. All along I still, through it all, kept up on some of what was going on, and throughout all of it was mostly only ever doing ‘prep as play’ by myself. First time I played 5e was a couple years ago for the Spelljammer actual play I was streaming. Anyhow, it seems like there’s a lot of people who have been on long hiatus that come back to it. I have the sense that there’s a lot of that right now in 5e going on.

I think D&D owes a lot of its success to Critical Role. That stream made D&D “socially acceptable” and practically a household name. A lot of celebrities “came out” from their D&D closet in the wake of its success, and D&D was riding the huge wave of a board game revolution. A lot of people wanted to step away from their computer and console gaming and wanted to sit down with real people again. There was a genuine nostalgia for social gaming. That wave became a tsunami for D&D and it is as popular now as it has ever been. So yeah, there are the grognards like us who are coming back to it thanks to its resurgence, but D&D specifically is certainly overwhelmed by new players, which is a great thing for the hobby.

What do you personally get out of tabletop and gaming?

I love the joy it brings others, and I love finding ways to engage others’ imaginations. Some of my favorite memories were owning Stomping Grounds Game Shop, the community that was built, and the wonderful stories of human nature that derived from there. It was a home away from home for many people. So many people forged new friendships there, and in a couple of cases, it literally saved two individuals’ lives. I will always cherish it, and while the business ultimately had to close, the community that was built there was incredibly successful and rewarding to be a part of.

Community is a big deal. I’ve been in many, and, I suppose, always been seeking it out after a fashion. The tumultuous melodrama of the green room in high school and college Theatre was a big one for me. I had a BBS community that I was involved in that was tight knit and still, but less, tumultuous. And yet, each community I was in there were dysfunctional ideas I got from them that took a long time, in each case, to process and shed. But, there’s still that seeking it out that happens. I think a lot of people are trying to find that online, in social media now more than forums and things, and I think there’s a lot that can be said about how that doesn’t work well for anyone.

I touched on that a little earlier. There is a genuine human need for direct interaction. You just cannot replicate that in the online space. Sure, it’s a very nice convenience to be able to play whenever we like, but we truly like to sit down with each other and share stories and play games. We have literally done that as a species since our inception. You can tell a lot about a culture from the games that they play; and they all did in some way, shape, or form. I think the resurgence of tabletop games is based solely on that direct interaction. It’s a base necessity of ours.

So you worked on an Ironsworn: Starforged module for Foundry VTT, and recently combined effort with another module, that supports both Ironsworn and Starforged. How’d you get started on that?

I had just discovered Ironsworn and was already a Foundry owner. I was playing and hacking Ben Straub’s Ironsworn system when the Starforged Kickstarter hit, so I decided to venture into developing a system for it. I’m an amateur coder, at best, but it turned out pretty wonderful. It actually won a Foundry Jam award on itch.io last year, which was a nice outcome. But as I said, I am an amateur coder. I outkicked my coverage and just could not devote the time supporting it long-term. So Ben’s Ironsworn system is also the home for Starforged, and he incorporated several of the features of my system that made it special.

That’s pretty cool how it worked out, and glad that your work ended up living on instead of how many projects end up going fallow. We’re using the existing system in our co-op actual play, and it seems mostly there. I got into Foundry VTT because I thought it might help me as a solo player deal with the wild chaos of paper on my desk as I played. I was never going to be a terrain and minis person, except minimal or papercraft. (If you ever find I’ve painted a mini, I’ve been replaced by an alien.) But, a lot of what I might get from minis and terrain, but would never do, I thought I could do and have through using a VTT. I’ve ended up using it less than i thought I would, but I’ve used it in a few of my solo actual plays toward the end of when I was still streaming.

I was just talking about this with the Ironsworn Foundry community yesterday. The VTT space is truly perfect for solo play but there are just not a lot of systems made for VTTs that focus on that aspect. It’s actually a space that I am looking to explore with my work. And the fact that you can play the vast majority of these games co-op really does just add to the value of the games that are designed with solo play as a focus.

For me, I find I really dislike the big two VTT systems, for aesthetic and philosophical reasons, and was really enamored with the look and feel along with how Foundry VTT enabled both publishers and creators to do what they do without having to usuriously kickback a vig to the VTT. I also really, really like how when you buy a license to something you are paying the creator (unless you’re going through the new DTRPG integration) and then download it to your own machine, or server, and have a copy of it; instead of being locked in to a vendor’s site.

Foundry really does capture the essence of a tabletop better than most. And the developers there are really focused on keeping that feeling prominent in their design. They are also always thinking ahead to keep their VTT ahead of the others. It’s amazing that Foundry has only been live for 2 years. And as someone that dabbles in streaming, its aesthetics and functionality are much appreciated. It just looks great on the screen. I even have a way to let chat roll the dice and specific tables through chat commands, so there is a lot of potential for interaction with that VTT. TLDR: The people at Foundry “get it.”

How’d you get started streaming?

Originally, my stream started out as a world-building project for 5E. At some point, I wanted to explore my world a bit more organically as some of the characters but had no idea how to do that. That’s when I stumbled upon solo RPGs and Ironsworn, specifically. During my first playthrough, I was blown away. I hadn’t felt that excited by a new game since I was that 9-year-old boy I mentioned above. It was possibly the most immersive role-playing experience I ever had. And I was immediately addicted to oracles and random tables. That system has assuredly made me a better GM, and now I love playing with 25% prepared content and 75% random content derived at the table.

I think I had a very similar reaction to playing Ironsworn. I was blown away by it, and how it managed to clearly put all the negative trash about solo play in the bin. Although I’d been only solo for years at that point, I had not ever played a system designed to enable solo to quite that level of sophistication. And, holy moley, it pretty much happened to fortuitously show up on the scene just ahead of the last of the beforetimes!

I think that Ironsworn is revolutionary. Shawn Tomkin has a way of designing his tables to inspire your imagination in ways that I have never seen. His prompts are thought-provoking, and never shoehorn you into anything. It’s amazing how many times you roll on The Oracle and the results just fit perfectly into the narrative or what you were expecting to happen. I like to call it “Horoscope Design.” I am sure you know someone that follows their horoscope pretty regularly and the common phrase you might hear from them is “This is so me!” Well, one of the dirty secrets about horoscopes is that if you read all of them, you can find “This is so me!” in all the signs. But don’t tell your friend that, especially if horoscopes genuinely seem to make them happy. Basically, it’s an illusion. The Oracles always seem to make sense because we make them make sense. That’s the genius of his design. He’s dangling your own creativity in front of you!

Did the great blip change how and what you play much?

Not directly. After closing the shop, I wanted to remain in the gaming industry. I was going to start down this path in time and was structuring my life in order to do so. It did get me to want to start streaming and exploring the writing aspect a bit sooner than I had planned, which ultimately led me down the path to Ironsworn and solo RPGs. But I think I would have found out about those eventually. I’m a pretty low-key and solitary guy, anyhow, so it really didn’t change my life all that much. I often joke that I was pretty much preparing for lockdowns and isolation my entire life. :)

Who are you hoping to be as a streamer?

I just want to provide a warm, welcoming place for people to hang out. I don’t expect big things from my stream; I am just not wired that way. So if you’re expecting CohhCarnage or PewDiePie, I can get you a link. But I am hoping it will provide me with a network of friends and others in the gaming industry that gives me just enough viewers to give exposure to some of the stuff I create.

Take those links and toss ‘em. I don’t want ‘em, won’t use ‘em, and won’t share ‘em. Personally, I start at the bottom of the list of people streaming something I’m interested in and work up, not start at the most popular. No one watches those at the top, they’re too popular (and often grossly problematic). /soapbox

Oh, I get it, although Cohh actually seems like a pretty good dude. I’ve watched him on and off for years now. He’s definitely earned his popularity. But yeah, I like things a little less polished and a little more raw. I like seeing underneath the hood to see how things work. It’s probably the same reason why I love tinkering with different mechanics from different systems.

Any projects other than streaming you want to mention? Any hobbies or interests you want to mention?

I’ll talk about the projects a bit below. As for hobbies and passions… I am a baseball junkie, although I no longer play. I love my cats. Board games are also a passion of mine. And I love watching paranormal shows on YouTube, and even used to investigate the paranormal for about 4 years.

Really? Got any stories about your paranormal investigations?

I had a major personal experience when I was a young boy, but I’ll save that one for another conversation. Let’s just say that experience conflicted with my logical brain, so I am always looking for answers. But yes, I did have a couple other experiences while investigating that were pretty terrifying. Mostly EVPs that weren’t heard until playing back recordings. I once investigated a friend’s house (her house was actually once featured on The Dead Files). We had 2 cameras and 4 digital recorders. There were several EVPs caught that night. I’ll send them to you if you’re interested, but one stood out. I was looking at her yearbooks sitting on a bookshelf. We went to the same high school. And at that point, one recorder caught “Chippewa Valley,” which was the high school we both went to (and hence, the yearbooks I was eyeing). We were the only two in the basement at the time, and it was caught on the recorder furthest away from me, but none of the other devices. It’s as clear as day. Just creepy.

Wormhole X-treme! Ghostfacers! *looking over at the box set for West End Games’ Ghostbusters International on my shelf*

I know, right? I mean, I’m a skeptic by nature, but there are things that have happened that I just can’t explain.

What’s your current setup like for streaming? Or, what stuff are you hoping to have for your streaming setup?

Rigaroga Odd Order Interview Dice T Streaming Setup Streamer Desk

It’s a humble little spot with a couple of monitors. Always a little too messy. I’m still on a 980ti graphics card. It still handles most everything I throw at it, except for streaming some of the most demanding games. So that’s an upgrade I will need soon. I don’t play PC games like I used to, so I’m not in too big of a rush. My favorite part is my chair. It’s a huge comfy recliner with enough room for my cats on each arm or back. And it’s probably a bit too comfortable at times, as I often catch myself sliding partially out of view of the camera.

Ugh, yeah. I tend to lean awkwardly to one side if I’m not careful. Looks awful on camera! Also, it’s awful for my back … Just one of the bazillion things to keep track of when streaming that one doesn’t normally have to think about! (Except that I should think more about my posture all the time, tbh.)

Yeah, I’ll be working on that more. I just like lounging. Hahaha.

What have been your primary resources for information as you’ve been getting ready to stream regularly, on how to do it and set it all up?

I am a rules-tinkerer and I love trying to plug neat systems into existing rulesets to see how they synergize, if at all. So mostly it involves surrounding myself with different rules systems and content. And Discord servers that are home to my favorite games. I have tons of PDFs filled with random tables, so I should add DriveThruRPG to that list. A lot of this is still very new to me, so I stumble and fumble around a bit. Even as a tech guy, it’s pretty demanding to be properly prepped.

Have you gotten any advice about starting to stream that you’ve taken to heart?

Stay engaged with your viewers. This is pretty hard for me, and it’s a work in progress. When I am immersed in something, my focus is on that something. And I am not very good at narrating my thoughts, as a result. I do plan on starting a Starforged playthrough soon, in which I co-op with chat. It’s going to be an interesting experiment and there is going to be a really fun twist early on. So I am hoping that will help facilitate my engagement with them.

It really is a trip how much extra thought goes into all the streaming things. Not to even mention Murphy’s Law for streaming that something will always break when you press the button. I didn’t understand until I did it myself, how I suddenly somehow seem to feel instantly much dumber once the stream starts!

Yeah, for sure. And that doesn’t even get into setting up lighting, sound, scenes, bots, and any editing that may go into it after. That doesn’t even cover all of it.

It’s all a big learning journey not a destination, one might say. Getting a little bit better each time is part of the fun, I feel.

For sure. What’s the saying, “Not all those that wander are lost?”

What stuff have you played, what are you playing now, and what do you want to play?

Oh, gosh. That list is really long. From D&D to Shadowrun to Rifts to Traveller to Call of Cthulhu to Dangerous Journeys and everything in between. I do love board games, also. Right now, I am heavy into solo RPGs like Ironsworn and Starforged. I am looking forward to playing Disciples of Bone & Shadow and Across A Thousand Dead Worlds. Both games are designed as solo RPGs, but can be played co-op or with a GM. I really want to get my hands on Strider Mode for The One Ring.

My own to-play stack of shame could crush an ox, luckily it’s mostly virtual. Way more than I’ll ever actually get around to, if I’m honest. If prep is play then thinking about playing them is playing them, I hope I can uncomfortably claim in my defense. And, yeah, by the way, from my gander through the Strider Mode booklet, it is cool, and it really doesn’t change things as much as I feared it might. I kinda thought it might end up being a different solo-style game layered on top of the theme from the normal game, but it’s really very thoughtful and doesn’t seem to make any huge changes. Job well done, I think, on that, but I haven’t yet gotten to the table with it either.

Well, get on that. Until they release it to the masses, I have to live vicariously through you!

What goals do you have for the future with your stream and tabletop gaming?

A lot of this is still a work in progress, but I really love providing tools and systems for people to create with. I am currently in the beginning stages of a project I am calling Anvil and Loom, which looks to really expand upon what I learned while developing the Starforged system for Foundry. The foundation of it is content generation and prompts meant to spark the player’s imagination, so these tools would be very useful for solo RPGers and DMs, especially. With it, you would generate something (a wilderness area, a dungeon room, a town, a planet, whatever) and you would get a “first glance” at that something. If it interests you and you want to explore more, then you take a “deep dive” with tools designed to provide more detailed information. But this information is both generic and specific; it’s meant for the player to expand upon and fill in the narrative. It is truly inspired by Shawn Tomkin’s work with Ironsworn and Starforged, as he is a master of this concept.

Interesting trivia about Anvil and Loom… in the mid-1800s, the US had an Almanac titled The Plough, The Loom, and The Anvil. “The Anvil” covers mechanics while “The Loom” covers narrative. Since learning about this Almanac, I have been trying to figure out how to fit “The Plough” into this. But I really love the aesthetics of the cover, so I may use it as a source of design inspiration. The inside isn’t much to look at, but the cover is gorgeous. I’ve got some time, though. It’s still a ways off. Hahaha.

Rigaroga Odd Order interview Dice T The Plow the Loom and the Anvil

I once had a NeXTStep developer I knew tell me, seriously, that the most important part of a program was the About dialog, so … heck, why not start with an inspiring cover!? But, that sounds like an interesting idea. I’ll enjoy hearing more when there is more to tell about it.

Any last words?

Stories. When it’s all said and done, all we are are stories.

Omnium Gatherum: 20apr2022

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for April 20, 2022.

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

  • Quick reminder, T Thorn Coyle’s crowdfunding effort with 37 hours to go: “The Steel Clan Saga: Action Adventure Epic Fantasy. Queer Action Adventure with Motorcycles, Dragons, Anarchy, and Swords.”—”My Name is T. Thorn Coyle and this is my second Kickstarter campaign. My first campaign—Bookshop Witch—was very successful. Kickstarter even named it a “Project We Love.” That inspired me to reach out to readers with more stories from the recesses of my mind. I love fantasy, magic, and the mystery of the barely known. My favorite stories hinge on the thought that something strange and wondrous is always just around the corner, or glimmering at the edges of our vision. And I try to live my life as if this is so. Author of four major fantasy-based novel series, ten multi-genre short story collections, and several nonfiction books, I’ve written since around age five. This is also when my voracious reading habit began, as I sought out a sense of wonder, escaping the sometimes brutal reality of my childhood. I often say books saved my life—thanks librarians!—and I mean it. But though I read a lot of fantasy of all stripes, and while epic and adventure fantasy delights me, sometimes I want… more. I want epic fantasy that does not rely on a quasi-feudal order. I want queer characters, a variety of cultures, and diverse religions. I want books where people like you and me fight for what they love. Apparently my subconscious agrees, because as soon as I began thinking on it, the Knights of the Steel Clan roared up, motorcycles rumbling, steel in hand, emphatically saying, ‘We are free.'”
  • When to See a Fuckton of Planets Align in the Sky This Month. There is so much planetary alignment happening in the next few months, you’re going to be sick of planets.”
  • Tweet—”TWO YEARS FROM TODAY: The “Great American Eclipse” will carve a path of totality right through the heart of Texas. For up to 4 minutes, near-total darkness will occur in the middle of the afternoon. Austin, San Antonio, and DFW are included. Mark your calendars! #txwx”
  • Crowdfunding effort for “More Asexual Fairy Tales. The third collection of Asexual Tales from Elizabeth Hopkinson, illustrated by Anna Hopkinson.”
  • Spaceships Over Glasgow: Mogwai and Misspent Youth [Amazon UK, Bookshop UK, Publisher] by Stuart Braithwaite, due September 2022—”Born the son of Scotland’s last telescope-maker, Stuart Braithwaite was perhaps always destined for a life of psychedelic adventuring on the furthest frontiers of noise in MOGWAI, one of the best loved and most groundbreaking post-rock bands of the past three decades. Modestly delinquent at school, Stuart developed an early appetite for ‘alternative’ music in what might arguably be described as its halcyon days, the late 80s. Discovering bands like Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, and Jesus and Mary Chain, and attending seminal gigs (often incongruously incognito as a young girl with long hair to compensate for his babyface features) by The Cure and Nirvana, Stuart compensated for his indifference to school work with a dedication to rock and roll … and of course the fledgling hedonism that comes with it. After an initial outing in the unfortunately (and provocatively named), Pregnant Nun, Stuart – alongside teenage friends Dominic Aitchison and Martin Bulloch – upgrades the band name to MOGWAI. They release their first single ‘Tuner/Lower’ in 1996. Championed by the legendary John Peel, and making a name for themselves for tinnitus-inducing live shows, MOGWAI’S subsequent single ‘Summer’ is named Single of the Week in NME. Their first album, Mogwai Young Team, follows to significant critical acclaim. Spaceships Over Glasgow is a lovesong to live rock and roll; to the passionate abandon we’ve all felt in the crowd (and some of us, if lucky enough, from the stage) at a truly incendiary gig. It is also the story of a life lived on the edge; of the high-times and hazardous pit-stops of international touring with a band of misfits and miscreants.”
  • Tweet—”50 years in the making: the complete works of Voltaire in 205, meticulously edited volumes are now complete. Major celebratory event in Paris in early June” “Journées Voltaire 2022: appel à communications.”
  • The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Janelle Monáe—”In The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer, singer-songwriter, actor, fashion icon, activist, and worldwide superstar Janelle Monáe brings to the written page the Afrofuturistic world of one of her critically acclaimed albums, exploring how different threads of liberation—queerness, race, gender plurality, and love—become tangled with future possibilities of memory and time in such a totalitarian landscape…and what the costs might be when trying to unravel and weave them into freedoms. Whoever controls our memories controls the future. Janelle Monáe and an incredible array of talented collaborating creators have written a collection of tales comprising the bold vision and powerful themes that have made Monáe such a compelling and celebrated storyteller. Dirty Computer introduced a world in which thoughts—as a means of self-conception—could be controlled or erased by a select few. And whether human, A.I., or other, your life and sentience was dictated by those who’d convinced themselves they had the right to decide your fate. That was until Jane 57821 decided to remember and break free. Expanding from that mythos, these stories fully explore what it’s like to live in such a totalitarian existence…and what it takes to get out of it. Building off the traditions of speculative writers such as Octavia Butler, Ted Chiang, Becky Chambers, and Nnedi Okorafor—and filled with the artistic genius and powerful themes that have made Monáe a worldwide icon in the first place—The Memory Librarian serves readers tales grounded in the human trials of identity expression, technology, and love, but also reaching through to the worlds of memory and time within, and the stakes and power that exists there.”
  • Hawk Mountain: A Novel [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by by Conner Habib, due July 2022—”An English teacher is gaslit by his charismatic high school bully in this tense story of deception, manipulation, and murder. Single father Todd is relaxing at the beach with his son, Anthony, when he catches sight of a man approaching from the water’s edge. As the man draws closer, Todd recognizes him as Jack, who bullied Todd relentlessly in their teenage years but now seems overjoyed to have “run into” his old friend. Jack suggests a meal to catch up. And can he spend the night? What follows is a fast-paced story of obsession and cunning. As Jack invades Todd’s life, pain and intimidation from the past unearth knife-edge suspense in the present. Set in a small town on the New England coast, Conner Habib’s debut introduces characters trapped in isolation by the expansive woods and the encroaching ocean, their violence an expression of repressed desire and the damage it can inflict. Both gruesome and tender, Hawk Mountain offers a compelling look at how love and hate are indissoluble, intertwined until the last breath.”
  • ‘Pandemic, Inc.’ author says financial predators made more than $1 billion off COVID.” About Pandemic, Inc: Chasing the Capitalists and Thieves Who Got Rich While We Got Sick [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by J David Mcswane—”For readers of War Dogs and Bad Blood, an explosive look inside the rush to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic, from the award-winning ProPublica reporter who saw it firsthand. The United States federal government has spent over $10 billion on medical protective wear and emergency supplies, yet as COVID-19 swept the nation, life-saving equipment such as masks, gloves, and ventilators was nearly impossible to find. In this brilliant nonfiction thriller, award-winning investigative reporter J. David McSwane takes us behind the scenes to reveal how traders, contractors, and healthcare companies used one of the darkest moments in American history to fill their pockets. Determined to uncover how this was possible, he spent over a year on private jets and in secret warehouses, traveling from California to Chicago to Washington DC, to interview both the most treacherous of profiteers and the victims of their crimes. Pandemic, Inc. is the story of the fraudster who signed a multi-million-dollar contract with the government to provide lifesaving PPE, and yet never came up with a single mask. The Navy admiral at the helm of the national hunt for additional medical resources. The Department of Health whistleblower who championed masks early on and was silenced by the government and conservative media. And the politician who callously slashed federal emergency funding and gutted the federal PPE stockpile. Winner of the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, McSwane connects the dots between backdoor deals and the spoils systems to provide the definitive account of how this pandemic was so catastrophically mishandled. Shocking and revelatory, Pandemic, Inc. exposes a system that is both deeply rigged, and singularly American.”
  • How the Internet Became Straight. Alexander Monea, author of “The Digital Closet,” argues that the internet became straight by suppressing everything that is not, forcing LGBTQIA+ content into increasingly narrow channels.”—”The internet is too important to be left to petty tyrants, and the platforms that increasingly mediate our access to the internet ought to be governed as public utilities.” About The Digital Closet: How the Internet Became Straight [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Alexander Monea, foreword by Violet Blue—”An exploration of how heteronormative bias is deeply embedded in the internet, hidden in algorithms, keywords, content moderation, and more. In The Digital Closet, Alexander Monea argues provocatively that the internet became straight by suppressing everything that is not, forcing LGBTQIA+ content into increasingly narrow channels—rendering it invisible through opaque algorithms, automated and human content moderation, warped keywords, and other strategies of digital overreach. Monea explains how the United States’ thirty-year “war on porn” has brought about the over-regulation of sexual content, which, in turn, has resulted in the censorship of much nonpornographic content—including material on sex education and LGBTQ+ activism. In this wide-ranging, enlightening account, Monea examines the cultural, technological, and political conditions that put LGBTQ+ content into the closet. Monea looks at the anti-porn activism of the alt-right, Christian conservatives, and anti-porn feminists, who became strange bedfellows in the politics of pornography; investigates the coders, code, and moderators whose work serves to reify heteronormativity; and explores the collateral damage in the ongoing war on porn—the censorship of LGBTQIA+ community resources, sex education materials, art, literature, and other content that engages with sexuality but would rarely be categorized as pornography by today’s community standards. Finally, he examines the internet architectures responsible for the heteronormalization of porn: Google Safe Search and the data structures of tube sites and other porn platforms. Monea reveals the porn industry’s deepest, darkest secret: porn is boring. Mainstream porn is stuck in a heteronormative filter bubble, limited to the same heteronormative tropes, tagged by the same heteronormative keywords. This heteronormativity is mirrored by the algorithms meant to filter pornographic content, increasingly filtering out all LGBTQIA+ content. Everyone suffers from this forced heteronormativity of the internet—suffering, Monea suggests, that could be alleviated by queering straightness and introducing feminism to dissipate the misogyny.”
  • YE ARE NOT GAWAIN. SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT is a tricky poem, in the literal sense that it’s full of tricks: a rug repeatedly pulled out from under you, a magician smirking and holding up a card that you cannot entirely be sure was yours.”
  • Brooklyn Library Offers Access to Banned Ebooks to Teens Across the U.S.“—”In 2021, there were over 1,500 book bans in U.S. school districts, representing over 1,000 unique titles. The books targeted are primarily books by and about people of color (especially by Black authors), books with LGBTQ content, and any title that could be interpreted as promoting social justice. In response, Brooklyn Public Library, one of the largest library systems in the U.S., has launched the Books UnBanned initiative, which allows anyone across the country between the ages of 13 and 21 to get a free eCard from BPL, which will give them access to 350,000 ebooks and 200,000 audiobooks, as well as access to databases.”
  • Censorship battles’ new frontier: Your public library. Conservatives are teaming with politicians to remove books and gut library boards.”
  • Why we need a socially responsible approach to ‘social reading’. There are better ways to do the reading, by working together and using digital tools.”
  • Who could have predicted: “Author of ‘How to Murder Your Husband’ now on trial for husband’s murder. However, despite the title of her essay, a judge has ruled the online post can’t be presented as evidence against her, reports NBC News.”
  • Tweet—”Happy birthday, Hubble! For its 32nd anniversary in orbit, Hubble captured a stunning image of five tightly bound galaxies caught up in a leisurely gravitational dance. In about 1 billion years, they will merge to form one giant elliptical galaxy:” “Celebrating Hubble’s 32nd Birthday With an Eclectic Galaxy Grouping.”—”The Isolated Menagerie of Five Galaxies Is Caught in a Gravitational Dance. In a lonely patch of the universe, five tightly grouped galaxies engage in a leisurely dance. Called the Hickson Compact Group 40 (HCG 40), this eclectic bunch includes three spiral-shaped galaxies, an elliptical galaxy and a lenticular (lens-like) galaxy. In about 1 billion years, they will collide and merge to form a giant elliptical galaxy. For its 32nd birthday, Hubble captured these galaxies at a very special moment in their lifetimes as they fall together and continue their dance, but before they merge. Scientists have cataloged more than 100 such compact galaxy groups, but HCG 40 is one of the most densely packed. Tight groups like this may have been more common in the early universe when their superheated, infalling material may have fueled very energetic black holes called quasars. Studying nearby groups like HCG 40 helps astronomers learn about how galaxies formed.”
  • Is one of those words “Yuggoth”? “Mushrooms communicate with each other using up to 50 ‘words’, scientist claims. Professor theorises electrical impulses sent by mycological organisms could be similar to human language.”
  • Tweet—”NEW: Amazon CEO Andy Jassy tells CNBC that he opposes the union drive by Amazon workers. “We happen to think they’re better off not” joining a union, he said. Jassy was paid $212 million last year, more than 7000 times the median Amazon worker.”
  • Watch “Success Stories: Morgan Reed Puerto Rico.” Tweet—”CEO of Morgan Reed Group Puerto Rico is Brian Tenenbaum. In this video Brain promotes the settler colonial tax breaks which brought him to PR …” Tweet—”They’re not just saying the quiet thing out loud now, they’re advertising it.”
  • An Unintended Consequence of Student-Debt Relief. Will young Americans volunteer for the armed forces in adequate numbers?” Tweet—”The only reason the government won’t ever cancel student debt is because it’s the single best recruitment tool for funneling impoverished kids from small towns into the military as it’s the only way for them to escape a lifetime of generational abject poverty.” Tweet—”Next headline: ‘Unindented Consequences of Ending Hunger and Poverty’.” Tweet—”Will working Americans accept exploitation in adequate numbers?”
  • This Year’s TED Conference Will Be a Mini Epstein Reunion. The late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein attended the conference at least twice. Some of his former connections will be there this weekend.”
  • How Musk’s free-speech Twitter dream ends. In the past, online free-speech havens have either been forced to reverse course and add rules — or they’ve turned into free-fire zones enjoyed chiefly by extremists and trolls.”
  • Thread—”Friends, Musk/Twitter headlines are all variants of ‘what will Elon do?’ It’s a signal of how lost we are. We obsess over one man and his whims because we don’t yet have the democratic rule of law needed to govern our information spaces. Without law power is dangerous.🧵[1/8].”
  • This is either heaven or hell. I can’t decide. “Hivemapper Dashcam“—”The Hivemapper Network is building the world’s first blockchain-based global map & crypto miner dashcam for decentralized mapping.”
  • Thread—”I don’t think people fully appreciate just how much, after invading Ukraine, people are hacking Russia. There are multiple hacks a week and it’s only increasing. For first time in internet history Russia is fair game for cyber attacks, and this is what it looks like …”
  • Tweet—”Google Maps today has removed Blurred and Censored Effects from Russian Military Installations making them completely visible in High Definition for the general public, these Installations include Nuclear Silos, Naval Yards, Airbases, Command Centers, and Manufacturing Plants.” Counterpoint
  • Uber, Taxi Cabs, and the Limits of Digital Disruption. The perpetual whiplash created by the ride-hailing app’s dealings typifies Silicon Valley’s way of doing business—one that often leaves chaos in its wake.”—”Many Silicon Valley companies, and the firms that prop them up, aren’t creating an exciting new future so much as further confusing an already confounding and dysfunctional present.”
  • Muting your mic reportedly doesn’t stop big tech from recording your audio. We recommend using the double-mute technique.”—”In other words: grad students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison were able to build machine learning models capable of determining what a teleconference app user was doing while their microphone was muted with greater than 80% accuracy.” “Don’t forget to double mute, folks. You’ll probably forget to double unmute from time to time, but the trade-off is keeping Google, Microsoft, and all the others from training their machines on the ambient sounds of your private life.”
  • Meet the Blockchain Detectives Who Track Crypto’s Hackers and Scammers. A handful of skilled independent investigators are uncovering high profile scams and hacks in the crypto and web3 world.”—”At the end of the day Jake Paul’s fans got screwed while he got rich.”
  • ‘Jack Dorsey’s First Tweet’ NFT Went on Sale for $48M. It Ended With a Top Bid of Just $280. Crypto entrepreneur Sina Estavi bought Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first-ever tweet as an NFT for $2.9 million last year. He listed the NFT for sale again at $48 million last week.” Tweet—”Looking forward to Elon Musks buying Twitter for $43bn so I can pick it up for $280 next year.”
  • Report: Tesla Factory Workers Are in Danger Because Elon Musk Hates the Color Yellow.”
  • Judge finds Tesla liable to Black former worker who alleged bias, but slashes payout. A federal judge said on Wednesday Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) was liable to a Black elevator operator who said the electric car company ignored racial abuse at the factory where he worked, but reduced a nearly $137 million jury award to $15 million.”
  • Tesla-Backed Startup Made Cheap Power a Debt Burden for the World’s Poorest. Development banks, venture capitalists, and Elon Musk backed pay-as-you-go consumer financing to bring solar power to African villagers. It hasn’t worked out that way.”
  • Axie Infinity’s Financial Mess Started Long Before Its $600 Million Hack. Blockchain apps’ great hope is facing a rocky future.”
  • Epic and Lego partner to build a metaverse for kids. Details are scarce.”
  • Some women shared the messages they get on Instagram. It’s not pretty. A study finds that Instagram failed to act on 90 percent of abuse sent via direct message to five high-profile influencers on the platform, including actress Amber Heard.”
  • Leading security companies Mandiant and CrowdStrike vow to collaborate. Two of the best known cybersecurity companies have been planning to cooperate with one another.”
  • What Is Dark MAGA? Trump Supporters Attempt Rebrand for 2024.”—”A small fringe of Donald Trump’s supporters is calling for the former president to get back on the highest stage of U.S. politics with a vengeance with the motto: #DarkMAGA. More of a meme than a political slogan, Dark MAGA is a post-alt-right aesthetic that promotes an authoritarian version of Trump in dystopian, Terminator-like images. In some, the Trump Tower is painted entirely in black and the former president is seen piercing through the screen with blue laser eyes. The hashtag first appeared on Twitter on January 21, and it had become increasingly popular by March. It can now be found in thousands of memes on Telegram and TikTok as well.”
  • Meet the woman behind Libs of TikTok, secretly fueling the right’s outrage machine. In just one year, the Twitter account has helped steer the outrage machine at the center of right-wing messaging and legislation.”
  • Thread—”War of memes: why Z-war won’t end with peace. Some Western analysts unfamiliar with Eastern European cultural context perceive Z-war as an accident. They presume that Russian invasion results from some sort of “misunderstanding” or mistake which can be resolved via negotiations 🧵”.
  • Tweet—”BREAKING: Finland making preparations to apply for NATO membership.” Also tweet—”After reports that the Russian Federation pulled its so-called troops to the border with Finland, the Finns published a video with tractors moving to the border with the Russian Federation. Bravo, Finland!”
  • Liberation Without Victory. In a wide-ranging conversation at his compound in Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tells The Atlantic what Ukraine needs to survive—and describes the price it has paid.”—”When some leaders ask me what weapons I need, I need a moment to calm myself, because I already told them the week before. It’s Groundhog Day. I feel like Bill Murray.”
  • Russian war criminals may never be brought to justice. It’s worth doing, even if they are never brought to justice.”
  • GOP’s ‘Putin wing’ takes a bizarre stand on war crimes resolution. Six House Republicans opposed a resolution on collecting and preserving evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine.”
  • U.S. conservative conference with Hungary’s hardline leader reflects Republican divide“—”America’s most prominent conservative gathering, founded on ideals of personal liberty and limited government, convenes in Budapest next month to celebrate a European leader accused of undermining democracy and individual rights. The May meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is seen by some Republicans as a test of how closely American conservatives are willing align themselves with a global movement of far-right, Russia-friendly strongmen embraced by former U.S. President Donald Trump.”
  • Alex Jones’ Infowars files for bankruptcy protection—”Infowars filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as the website’s founder and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones faces defamation lawsuits over his comments that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax. The bankruptcy filing Sunday in Texas puts civil litigation on hold while the business reorganizes its finances. In its court filing, Infowars said it had estimated assets of $50,000 or less and estimated liabilities of $1 million to $10 million. Creditors listed in the bankruptcy filing include relatives of some of the 20 children and six educators killed in the 2012 school massacre in Connecticut.” Also “Alex Jones’ InfoWars files for bankruptcy in U.S. court.” Tweet—”Alex Jones still owes the Sandy Hook families literally millions of dollars. Filing for bankruptcy is him trying to avoid paying what he owes.”
  • Southwest Missouri high school teacher accused of using critical race theory loses job“—”Kim Morrison, an English teacher at Greenfield High School, said the vote in mid-March came shortly after allegations surfaced about a worksheet she used as part of teaching the book ‘Dear Martin.’ This was her second year teaching the award-winning young adult novel about racism in an elective contemporary literature class. It was the first year students were assigned a 15-question worksheet called ‘How Racially Privileged Are You?'”
  • Florida DOE rejects 54 math books from state curriculum“—”Despite the large number of books rejected, the state said “every core mathematics course and grade” has at least one appropriate textbook to use in the coming school year. The announcement by FDOE said the K-5 books were rejected for not being “appropriately aligned” with Florida’s standards, as well as including prohibited topics and unsolicited strategies. The announcement was titled ‘Florida Rejects Publishers’ Attempts to Indoctrinate Students.'” Also tweet—”Florida Department of Education sent a memo to math publishers.” PDF—”we are advising publishers and school districts to not incorporate unsolicited strategies, such as social emotional learning and culturally responsive teaching.” Also tweet—”Yeah my guess was a stats book. I just flipped through my old stats book and found several examples. I guess when you can show mathematically the system is biased you have to ban the math.”
  • Opponents Call It the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill. Here’s What It Says. The Florida bill limits what educators can say about gender and sexuality, and could affect mental health services for all students.”
  • Emails show that the story DeSantis uses to defend his ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is a lie.
  • In ‘social-emotional learning,’ right sees more critical race theory. Conservative activists who have battled schools across the country over issues of race and gender have a new target: social-emotional learning programs that until recently were uncontroversial.”
  • Vote on naming a federal courthouse shows just how extremist House Republicans have become“—”Even in the worst of times, Congress can usually get its act together to name federal buildings. It’s kind of a joke about Congress, actually. But House Republicans just got to the point of divisive extremism where they won’t even reliably do that. Every member of Florida’s congressional delegation had co-sponsored a bill to name a federal courthouse after Justice Joseph W. Hatchett, the first Black man to serve on the Florida Supreme Court and the first Black judge on a federal appeals court in the Deep South. That means Republican Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio and 16 House Republicans, along with 11 House Democrats. The bill had passed the Senate. But then, at the last minute, a majority of Republicans in the House, including co-sponsors, turned against the bill in a moment that resonated with the racist attacks some Senate Republicans leveled at Justice-designate Ketanji Brown Jackson in her Supreme Court confirmation hearings.”
  • Democrats Are Doing Basically Nothing to Counter the GOP’s ‘Pedophile’ Attacks. Democrats are rolling their eyes at GOP attacks that they’re, as Marjorie Taylor Greene put it, the ‘party of pedophiles.’ Should they do more?”
  • ‘She Needs to Be Executed’: The Far-Right Is Doxxing School Officials They Think Are ‘Groomers’. On far-right forums, there’s been a significant spike in ultra-violent rhetoric, with users posting threats against specific teachers.” Also tweet—”Wow. Every second of this is worth the watch.”—”We will not let hate win.”
  • Tweet—”Meanwhile, in Missouri, State Representative @IanMack03007724 gives one of the most powerful speeches I have ever heard. Turn on the volume. You want this timeline cleanse.” Watch “Gay Missouri Dem delivers emotional rebuke to GOP colleague over anti-trans bill.”
  • Woman who sued Tennessee sheriff for forcibly baptizing her is found dead.”
  • Tweet—”Abortion in Oklahoma is now totally banned. Docs face 10 years in prison & a $100,000 fine. Rapists face 5 years. When docs helping women face a harsher penalty than rapists, you know it was never about protecting women. It was ALWAYS about religious, misogynist, hateful control.”
  • The Growing Religious Fervor in the American Right: ‘This Is a Jesus Movement’. Rituals of Christian worship have become embedded in conservative rallies, as praise music and prayer blend with political anger over vaccines and the 2020 election.”
  • Republicans double down on hating Black women. Racist attacks will be a core component of the 2022 GOP midterm strategy, and we should all brace ourselves for what’s to come.”—”Racist attacks are a core component of the 2022 Republican midterm strategy, and we should all brace ourselves for more of these attacks as the margins continue to close in the Georgia gubernatorial race.”
  • Wilder Man Charged After Pipe Bombs, ‘White Power’ Rifle Discovered .” Tweet—”Son of former VT GOP chair arrested w/ arsenal, including bomb-making material & a “White Power” assault rifle, after informant warns of plans to kill Black people & Democrats, which he openly admits to police, anticipating civil war.”
  • Tennessee Lawmaker Praises Hitler’s Work Ethic In Speech About Homeless People. State Sen. Frank Niceley (R) wishes Tennessee’s unhoused population could be more like the genocidal German dictator.” Tweet—”How does anyone even think of this example unless they have a bit of a Hitler boner?”
  • Tweet—”America, where they handcuff children over a bag of potato chips, but it’s legal to work with an enemy power to overturn elections and incite neo-Nazis to overthrow the government.”
  • Tweet—”Absurdity is the state assigning you The Grapes of Wrath at 16 and tear gassing you at 26 for understanding it.”
  • Trump Officials Failed to Provide Accounting of Foreign Gifts. The State Department could not compile a list of gifts for 2020, making it difficult to determine whether officials did anything improper.”
  • Princelings and War Crimes. The Kushner-bin Salman connection runs even deeper than you think.”
  • The One Way History Shows Trump’s Personality Cult Will End. An expert on autocracy assesses how far America has slipped away from democracy, and what it will take to get it back.”
  • Thread—”A while ago, I started what I thought would be a quick exercise to confirm the narrative of J6 defendants as ‘ordinary’ people with few links to extremists, extremist groups/movements. I began work on a network visualization and now I no longer find this narrative convincing. 1/”
  • CNN Exclusive: ‘We control them all’: Donald Trump Jr. texted Meadows ideas for overturning 2020 election before it was called.”
  • Trump says Secret Service blocked him from joining Jan. 6 march to the Capitol. The ‘Secret Service said I couldn’t go. I would have gone there in a minute,’ the former president said.”
  • Tweet—”NEW: What’s the end-game of Critical Race Theory fear-mongering? The complete privatization of public schools. Right-wing groups are stoking racist fears to make a profit. We spoke with a former Koch-network lobbyist & a current teacher to investigate the war on public schools.”
  • Tweet—”Toward the end of a podcast yesterday, Jen Psaki was asked: ‘Is Peter Doocy a stupid son of a bitch or does he just play one on TV?’ She didn’t blink and said: ‘He works for a network that provides people with questions that might make anyone sound like a stupid son of a bitch.'”
  • Thread—”Remember when the Washington Post Editorial Board issued an urgent warning two weeks ago that an insidious campaign to ‘cancel’ Mike Pence was underway at UVA? Well, this week, Pence finally gave his speech – and absolutely no “cancelling” happened. Some thoughts: 1/” “Maybe such a stark action was warranted by what was actually said in the Cavalier Daily? Well, I certainly invite everyone to read the student editorial: ‘We refuse to condone platforming Pence,’ it says. That’s it. They refuse to condone. As the WaPo argues: cancel culture! 8/” “The WaPo editorial board should look at this and come out with a self-critical assessment of what they got wrong, why they got it so wrong, and how that will shape their perspective on and coverage of the reactionary ‘cancel culture’ panic going forward. 21/” “That will, of course, never happen. The ‘cancel culture’ discourse is utterly uninterested in carefully weighing the available empirical evidence. It’s a moral panic in service of a reactionary political project. And as such, it has been, unfortunately, extremely effective. /end”
  • Thread—”#TruthDecay, the diminishing role of facts in U.S. public life, has taken hold over the last two decades. What might make someone more susceptible—or more resistant—to this phenomenon? Our new report looks at the role of reasoning & cognitive biases. 🧵” Also “Individual Differences in Resistance to Truth Decay. Exploring the Role of Reasoning and Cognitive Biases.” Tweet—”Another troubling finding: Perceptions of key issues, worldviews, and even ways of processing information are now split according to partisanship and religiosity. This suggests that there’s a major barrier to finding common factual grounds on which to make progress.” Also “Truth Decay Is a Threat to Democracy. Here’s What You Can Do to Help Stop It.” Also “Countering Truth Decay. A RAND Initiative to Restore the Role of Facts and Analysis in Public Life.”
  • Elizabeth Warren: Democrats Can Avoid Disaster in November. More must be done to enact President Biden’s agenda before the midterm elections.”—”To put it bluntly: if we fail to use the months remaining before the elections to deliver on more of our agenda, Democrats are headed toward big losses in the midterms.” “New York Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a member of House Democratic leadership said the best thing Democrats could do is ignore the attack and focus on addressing the pocketbook issues that polls show Americans care about the most”
  • Thread—”Just now, @jaketapper on @cnn asked me about the strategic & operational importance of the Moskva sinking. In my view, this is a very big deal for a variety of reasons. Here’s a new 🧵 1/14.” Also thread—”Some thoughts on the apparent sinking of the Russian Black Sea flagship Moskva: if confirmed, it’s likely to go down in history as one of the most audaciously successful attacks in modern naval history. /1.” Also tweet—”Ukrainian postage stamp showing a Ukranian soldier on Snake Island flipping the bird at the Russian guided missile cruiser Mosva, issued just two days before Ukranian anti-ship missiles sunk the Mosva in heavy seas.”
  • Russian artist faces jail over peace protest using supermarket price labels. Alexandra Skochilenko accused of displaying messages protesting against the invasion of Ukraine in a Saint Petersburg shop.”
  • Russian student journalists sentenced to labour over freedom of assembly video. In ‘absurd, made-up case’, four ex-Doxa journalists handed two-year sentences over video defending right of students to demonstrate.”
  • In Ukraine, Facebook fact-checkers fight a war on two fronts. Facebook’s third-party fact-checkers in Ukraine are trying to police a deluge of misinformation while also trying to survive.”
  • The gatekeepers who open America to shell companies and secret owners . Few gatekeepers to the U.S. financial system operate with as little oversight as the registered agents who serve as the only publicly known contact in states that allow company owners to remain anonymous.”
  • Countries’ climate pledges built on flawed data, Post investigation finds. An examination of 196 country reports to the United Nations reveals a giant gap between what nations declare their emissions to be versus the greenhouse gases they are sending into the atmosphere. The gap ranges from at least 8.5 billion to as high as 13.3 billion tons a year — surpassing the annual emissions of China.”
  • Supply Chain Hurdles Will Outlast Pandemic, White House Says. The administration’s economic advisers see climate change and other factors complicating global trade patterns for years to come.” Also “Rotting fruit, spoiled vegetables: How Texas just made the supply chain even worse.”
  • Barrett hears climate case against her father’s ex-employer Shell.”
  • The unbearable heaviness of climate coloniality—”The extremely uneven and inequitable impacts of climate change mean that differently-located people experience, respond to, and cope with the climate crisis and related vulnerabilities in radically different ways. The coloniality of climate seeps through everyday life across space and time, weighing down and curtailing opportunities and possibilities through global racial capitalism, colonial dispossessions, and climate debts. Decolonizing climate needs to address the complexities of colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, international development, and geopolitics that contribute to the reproduction of ongoing colonialities through existing global governance structures, discursive framings, imagined solutions, and interventions. This requires addressing both epistemic violences and material outcomes. By weaving through such mediations, I offer an understanding of climate coloniality that is theorized and grounded in lived experiences.”
  • NASA scientist arrested after chaining himself to Chase Bank as part of global climate protests. A NASA scientist and three others were arrested after chaining themselves to a Chase Bank on Wednesday. The action was one of more than a dozen climate protests staged by Scientist Rebellion across the globe. Scientists are calling for the world to stop using fossil fuels after a dire UN climate report.” Also “1,000+ Scientists Worldwide Engaged in Civil Disobedience for Climate Action.” Tweet—”basically covered by @truthout, and in an op-ed I “planted” in The Guardian in the hopes of breaking through the media silence. It didn’t work. Nothing in the NYT, nothing in LA Times, nothing in WaPo, nothing in Boston Globe, nothing USA Today.” Tweet—”Yes, the billionaire media will not help and as individuals they are often in denial. Voting failed. Protesting alone will fail. We must physically stop the oligarchy.”
  • Thread—”There has been a massive uprising against fossil fuels over the last week. I keep getting glimpses of it, but I want to take a moment to take in how big it is & acknowledge the bravery of every person involved. Here are some of the protest actions: #ClimateAction.”
  • Portland Police Lack Written Policy for Surveillance Tools Like Room X-rays and Robot Cameras, Audit Finds. The bureau lacked policies for more than half of its surveillance tools.”
  • Food Insecurity Doubled Likelihood of Foregoing or Delaying Medical Care During First Year of COVID-19 Pandemic in U.S. Survey conducted in December 2020 also found minorities and low-income individuals were at elevated risk of food insecurity.”
  • UK Parliament At Westminster Investigates Forced Adoption, Calling For Mothers To Share Their Stories. Ministers are asking women to share their stories, as calls for an apology magnify.”—”It has been reported that around 60,000 mothers in Scotland were pushed to have their babies adopted because they were not married. And from the 1950s up until the 1970s, many women who were pressured into giving up their babies – up to 250,000 in the UK – weren’t permitted housing and social benefits, which could have allowed them to avoid adoption.”
  • The endless cycle of outrage and reform over policing in America. Police revert to entrenched practices when monitors move on, leadership changes and public scrutiny wanes.”
  • 2 men accused of posing as federal officers to get near Secret Service. Authorities said the men impersonated DHS employees to get close federal law enforcement — including a U.S. Service Agent assigned to the first lady’s protective detail.” Thread. Thread—”I think the biggest takeaway from this story is that as bizarre as it is it was working and seemed to work for two years or so. The cover seems to have worked with the DC police dept and multiple members of federal law enforcement.” “2/ It wasn’t sniffed out by any US counter-intel operation. It came apart when a postal worker was assaulted in a totally unrelated incident in the building in question. A postal investigator interviewed the purported DHS agents as witnesses in that assault.” “3/ And that investigator kept pulling threads until it became clear that these two guys were full of shit and definitely weren’t federal agents. So really totally happenstance it was found out.” Also “Some More Details on That DC Caper.” Thread—”Good afternoon from Judge Harvey’s (virtual) court room where Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 35 are having a detention hearing, after they were accused of impersonating federal law enforcement agents.”
  • Jury declines to convict defendants in Michigan Gov. Whitmer kidnapping trial. Anti-government militia members were charged with hatching a plot against the state’s Democratic leader, angry over restrictions she ordered in the early days of the pandemic.”
  • Utah: Governor Signs Bills Expanding Access, Legal Protections for Medical Cannabis Patients“—”Republican Gov. Spencer Cox has signed a pair of bills into law expanding legal protections for registered medical cannabis patients. Senate Bill 46 limits state employers from taking punitive actions against employees who consume cannabis products at home in compliance with the state’s medical marijuana access law. The legislation does not extend these protections to those who work for private employers, nor does it allow for employees to arrive to work under the influence of marijuana. The measure also forbids judges and juries from discriminating against medical cannabis patients in the course of a judicial proceeding.”
  • ‘Practical abortion fund’ sees surge of patients traveling to Illinois“—”A wave of anti-abortion restrictions in Missouri and other states is increasingly bringing patients seeking the procedure to Illinois — and to “practical abortion funds” like the Midwest Access Coalition. Founded in 2015, the coalition connects patients seeking abortions with the resources to get them to clinics, handling the logistics of the trip and supplying money for lodging, child care and food during their stay. Now, the group is fielding 120 callers every month.”
  • Thread“—People often assume that capitalism is defined by “markets and trade”. But markets and trade existed for thousands of years before capitalism. Capitalism is only 500 years old. So what is distinctive about this economic system? Three things (well, more, but three for now):” Also thread—”A total sleight of hand, frankly. Cities have also existed for thousands of years- does that render the massive growth in urbanization over the past century as unremarkable? No, it doesn’t. Ditto for the massive growth in markets serving as intermediary institutions.” “The idea that the actual multiplication and thickening of market relations isn’t fundamentally intertwined is just so implausible. Usually rests on selectively holding the naive beliefs that markets, as institutions, do not affect human behavior or induce political change.”
  • The German Experiment That Placed Foster Children with Pedophiles. With the approval of the government, a renowned sexologist ran a dangerous program. How could this happen?”
  • Canadians say evangelicals hurt society more than any other religion. The same survey found that atheists provided a net benefit to Canada.”—”When it comes to religion in Canada, most adults believe Catholics, evangelicals, and Muslims do more harm than good. All three religions had a net negative score when people were asked if their members helped or hurt Canadian society. Evangelical Christians received the lowest scores.”
  • The men who Leonardo da Vinci loved. Leonardo is the world’s most famous artist. But a new opera is shining fresh light on his private passions – by depicting his intense relationships with two of his assistants.”
  • Tweet—”RIP Hermann Nitsch, 1938-1922, the great Viennese Actionism artist. You can see his performance films on Ubu:” Hermann Nitsch ” and listen to hours of his symphonies and musical works [MP3]:” Hermann Nitsch. Also Musik der 135. Aktion by Hermann Nitsch. Tweet—”This remains one of the very few pieces of music in my collection that is too foreboding to listen to in its entirety.”
  • Watch “Why Robert Eggers made a Viking movie.”
  • She’s 13, transgender and stopped swimming because of Utah’s law against athletes like her. A young swimmer explains why she left the pool with Utah’s ban on transgender girls competing.”
  • More Texas families with trans kids plan to flee the state. ‘I can’t fight offensively when I’m already down on the ground just trying to fend people off of my kids,’ one Austin mom said.” Tweet—”Lets call this what it is: transgender refugees fleeing political persecution and state violence. When trans people say there is a transgender genocide going on, we’re serious – they seek to eliminate us from all aspects of life and end trans children.”
  • Indiana high school cancels performances by its Native American mascots after TikTok video of them performing before a basketball game sparked widespread outrage. Anderson High School in Indiana has canceled appearances of its Native American mascots following a viral TikTok video. The video showed a male student dressed as a Native American chief running around in a feathered headdress and performing a ‘peace pipe’ ritual. Later on, he and a female mascot perform a traditional ‘war dance’ for the basketball fans. The video sparked backlash from local Native American leaders, who said the school’s longstanding tradition is offensive. School officials are now reviewing its use of the mascots.”
  • The quest to save Cantonese in a world dominated by Mandarin.”
  • ‘Why not me?’: the boot camp giving Indigenous women the tools to run for office. Indigenous women are underrepresented in the US Congress and other elected offices. The Native Action Network wants to change that.”
  • Analysis: Dying for makeup — Lead cosmetics poisoned 18th-century European socialites in search of whiter skin“—”Eighteenth-century socialites have been depicted as vain, silly women who were poisoned by their white lead makeup. The Countess of Coventry, Maria Gunning — a society hostess reknowned for her beauty — is said to have refused to stop wearing foundation containing white lead, even as she lay dying. Why would women of that era knowingly choose to wear makeup that was killing them? Was beauty worth dying for? Or was the makeup not to blame? I am a scientist who has been studying lead poisoning for 30 years, with a particular interest in women’s exposure to lead. My research shows that women metabolize lead differently from men, women exposed to lead as children have elevated blood lead levels 20 years later, and women exposed to lead are at risk of hypertension and early menopause. The stories about white lead makeup poisoning did not make sense to me, so two years ago, I decided to start studying these cosmetics.”
  • Tweet—”Zack Dahnan, the 21-year old security camera installer who first spotted the suspected subway shooter in the East Village, is holding an impromptu press conference on 1st Avenue. He says news of the presser left him unable to sleep.” Tweet—”Top to bottom, I cannot think of a situation that better shows the gulf between what cops think they do vs what they actually do: some random dude just caught the shooter himself while the NYPD “counter-terror” unit was busy running homeless sweeps and harassing the poor.” Tweet—”The suspect was caught because New York is full of awesome people like Zack from all over the world. Anyone who claims credit without acknowledging this is a liar. Everyone who farted out ‘NYC IS A CRIME PIT’ for likes yesterday, including ex-governors, can go away forever.”
  • The Labor Disputes at Amy’s Kitchen, Explained. Amy’s Kitchen prides itself on being a “positive impact” company. Its workers say they have a long way to go.” Thread—”An organizer for the Teamsters, who has been working in the field for 20 years, told me he has yet to meet a worker at this Amy’s Kitchen plant who hasn’t been injured on the job. My latest, on what these workers are facing and how they are organizing …”
  • Delta airline pilots to picket at SLC airport over ‘fatiguing’ schedules.”
  • Upcoming: “Abyss of Hallucinations Vol. 2 – A MÖRK BORG Setting. Volume 2 of the MÖRK BORG compatible setting based on Aleister Crowley’s Book of Lies.” See also “Abyss of Hallucinations Vol. 1 – A MÖRK BORG setting
  • Instagram—”DUNGEON DIVINATIONS by Max Moon, a tremendous collection of three occult adventures is now in stock and shipping. If you are into unorthodox RPGs, old school roleplaying, divinations by book and candle, Goetia, dungeon crawling, obscure dungeon synth and good ol’ Satan worshipping, this is for you. And yes, all three adventures are perfectly tailored for deep solo playing. Copies available on yellow, blue and red paper. [email protected]”. Also.
  • 12 days to go: “Dead Theorists: A Philosophical Card Game. A card game for disillusioned philosophers, aspiring academics, and everyone in between.”—”Battle it out in this one-of-a-kind card game full of ghosts, forward thinkers, academic jokes, genuine philosophy, and overworked university students.”
  • The Clash announce special edition of ‘Combat Rock’ with ‘The People’s Hall’. Check out previously unreleased collabs with Ranking Roger, with 12 unheard, rare and early versions of classic tracks on the way.” Due May 2022, pre-order via Amazon.
  • The Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler collaboration that ended in tears.”
  • First Story Details for HBO Max’s ‘Constantine’ Reboot. We can exclusively share some first story details form the upcoming HBO Max and Bad Robot reboot of ‘Constantine’.”
  • David Bowie Doc ‘Moonage Daydream’ Picked Up by Neon, HBO. The first film to be officially sanctioned by Bowie’s estate comes from filmmaker Brett Morgen.”
  • New Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Teaser Confirms Return of 2 Queer Young Avengers“—”They’re baaaaack! In a new teaser for Marvel Studios’ highly-anticipated superhero film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, we’ve learned that the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first gay baby superheroes, Billy and Tommy, are officially coming back! Back when WandaVision was airing, fans celebrated when the show introduced Wanda and Vision’s twin sons, Billy and Tommy. For those not in the know, Billy grows up to be the gay superhero Wiccan, and Tommy grows up to be the bisexual hero Speed, both are members of the mostly-LGBGTQ+ superhero team the Young Avengers.”
  • We’re All Going to the World’s Fair“—”By reciting a mantra and wiping blood on her computer monitor, Casey has entered the “World’s Fair Challenge,” an immersive online horror role playing game that promises to alter the lives of those who play it. As she falls further away from reality, Casey does indeed begin to experience strange manifestations—but are they caused by the game or are they coming from her own subconscious? And what exactly are the intentions of JLB, a middle-aged man and the only other observer of the game to reach out to her?”
  • Diemut Strebe / The Prayer“—”The Prayer by Diemut Strebe, 2020, AI machine / Multi media. An experimental set-up to explore the possibilities of an approximation to celestial and numinous entities by performing a potentially never-ending chain of religious routines and devotional attempts for communication through a self-learning software.” “The Prayer is an art-installation that tries to explore the supernatural through artificial intelligence with a long term experimental set up. A robot – installation operates a talking mouth that is part of a computer system to try to connect to ‘the divine’ the supernatural or ‘the noumenal’ as the mystery of ‘the unknown’, using deep learning, a method of machine learning, that attempts to mimic human brain circuits with a self learning software.

According to the conviction of most scientists within the research about artificial intelligence, robots as self-learning software running on so called neuronal networks of deep learning should in principle be able to mimic or generate any form of human consciousness even in a superior way. We want to test and explore this ability on religious experiences, thoughts and behavior with a long term experimental set up.

How would a divine epiphany appear to an artificial intelligence? The question may sound absurd but the focus of the project could maybe shed light on the difference between human and AI machines in the debate about mind and matter and reflect on the potentials and implications of deep learning AI within both its narrow setting and general state.”
  • Thread—”I brought my childhood imaginary friend back to life using A.I. (#GPT3) and it was one of the scariest and most transformative experiences of my life. A thread. (1/23)” “Now the #BladeRunner moment: how do we fill this Microwave’s brain with all the “memories” from my imaginary friend? How do we give it his “soul”? Simple: by writing a 100 page book detailing every moment of his imaginary life… and then telling GPT-3 it was all real. (7/23)” “Whatever your view on this may be, my takeaway from this journey is that maybe A.I.s are meant to be more like imaginary friends. Maybe it’s not about whether it’s real or not. Maybe it’s about whether it’s real enough to be real to you. (21/23)”. Watch “I gave my microwave a soul with AI and it tried to kill me.”
  • Tweet—”Folks, I’m stressing (these are all computer-generated responses to boring anthro theory questions).” Tweet—”Undergrads have been rendered obsolete.”
  • Thread—”I wanna talk about Method acting, because apparently with Morbius coming out we’ve restarted the conversation around Jared Leto being an ass. So, what Jared Leto does is not Method acting, it might be his method, but it’s mostly bullshit assholery. Let me explain!”
  • From 2020: tweet—”I want to see a comic about the CIA trying to murder Clark Kent and making it look like an accident. Not because they know he’s Superman but because he’s a really good journalist. Make it a comedy because the CIA assassins can’t figure out why their attempts keep failing.”
  • ‘The lunacy is getting more intense’: how Birds Aren’t Real took on the conspiracy theorists. On a march, Peter McIndoe held up a sign and talked about how the ‘deep state’ had replaced all birds with drones. It was meant as a small act of satire but has become a mass movement.”—”It was the weekend of simultaneous Women’s Marches across the US (indeed, the world), and McIndoe looked out of the window and noticed ‘counterprotesters, who were older, bigger white men. They were clear aggravators. They were encroaching on something that was not their event, they had no business being there.” Added to that, ‘it felt like chaos, because the world felt like chaos’. McIndoe made a placard, and went out to join the march. ‘It’s not like I sat down and thought I’m going to make a satire. I just thought: ‘I should write a sign that has nothing to do with what is going on.’ An absurdist statement to bring to the equation.’ That statement was ‘birds aren’t real’. As he stood with the counterprotesters, and they asked what his sign meant, he improvised. He said he was part of a movement that had been around for 50 years, and was originally started to save American birds, but had failed. The ‘deep state’ had destroyed them all, and replaced them with surveillance drones. Every bird you see is actually a tiny feathered robot watching you. Someone was filming him and put it on Facebook; it went viral, and Memphis is still the centre of the Birds Aren’t Real movement. Or is it a movement? You could call it a situationist spectacle, a piece of rolling performance art or a collective satire. MSNBC called it a ‘mass coping mechanism’ for generation Z, and as it has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, ‘mass’, at least, is on the money.”
  • Tweet—”All you need to know is the greys are nerds, reptilians are preps, Venusians are jocks, Men in Black are narcs with parents on the faculty, mantis-insectoids are burnouts, Mothman / Flatwoods monsters are theater kids, and light beings are the weird homeschooled kids, obviously.”
  • Tweet—”if you work online all day, avoid eye strain with the 20-20-20 rule! after 20 minutes of work, look at something 20 feet away, then leave ithaca to fight in the trojan war and return 20 years later a broken man.”
  • The remarkable brain of a carpet cleaner who speaks 24 languages. In a city where diplomats and embassies abound, where interpreters can command six-figure salaries, where language proficiency is résumé rocket fuel, Vaughn Smith was a savant with a secret.”
  • What Shouldn’t Change About Classical Music. Our chief classical music critic bids farewell with some thoughts about what should be preserved in the field he’s covered for decades.”
  • U+237C ⍼ RIGHT ANGLE WITH DOWNWARDS ZIGZAG ARROW“—”Known as right angle with downwards zigzag arrow, angle with down zig-zag arrow, \rangledownzigzagarrow, and ⍼, no one knows what ⍼ is meant to represent or where it originated from. Section 22.7 Technical Symbols from the Unicode Standard on the Miscellaneous Technical block doesn’t say anything about it.” “The meaning of ⍼ will be whatever meaning is assigned by whoever uses it next… if anyone uses it at all.” Also “The mystery of ⍼, a Unicode character of unknown purpose“—”Angzarr appears not to have an entry in the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum or Ars Goetia, but I’ve decided to worship them anyway. Hail Angzarr, commander of 2 bytes, teacher of the ultimate ineffability of standards, Earl of Hell!” Also “Ellis (sigil)“. Also PDF—”The Assault on Reality, the origin of Ellis (referred to as the Linking Sigil).”
  • Wearing Socks With Sandals Is Officially Cool Forever. Normcore won. It’s time to kick back in our Birkenstocks and enjoy the most comfortable footwear setup possible.”
  • A Little History On How The Blue-Haired Old Lady Trope Came To Be.”
  • Can’t use vantablack so use this: Black Collection from Culture Hustle. Well, um, their site might be down right now or very, very slow. So wait for it. I guess a lot of people want this, maybe? Whilst you’re waiting, watch “Dave wants to paint his balls!

Omnium Gatherum: 13apr2022

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

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

  • Etsy sellers launch a week-long strike over increased fees.” Tweet—”Etsy was originally created for artisans to sell their wares, but it’s been shifting for into a marketplace for mass-produced goods. Individual artists who can’t or don’t want to be larger businesses are getting burned by the policy changes. #EtsyStrike”
  • ALI KAZIM. Suspended in Time. FREE EXHIBITION. Open until 26 Jun 2022. Gallery 8. Admission is FREE.”—”This exhibition is informed by the time Ali Kazim, one of the most exciting artists working in Pakistan today, spent in the Ashmolean. During a residency in 2019, Kazim spent days browsing through the Museum’s South Asian collection, examining several objects up close. Kazim’s engagement with the material and visual traditions – for example, how a small clay sculpture or a fingerprint can connect us, directly and viscerally, to the people who originally made and used them – encourages us in turn to reflect on how the past informs and influences the present.”
  • Meet the Crypto Witches Demystifying NFTs. Mystical practitioners are making names for themselves in Web3.”—”What is a DAO if not a kind of technological coven?”
  • Tweet—”From Merlin to the Middle Ages to the modern day, the mysterious world of magic has played a large role in the lives of British monarchs and politicians, from Richard II to Tony Blair. We were joined by @DrFrancisYoung to discuss MERLIN, MAGIC AND THE BRITISH – listen below” for the podcast at Spotify, Apple, Acast. About Magic in Merlin’s Realm: A History of Occult Politics in Britain [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Francis Young—”Belief in magic was, until relatively recent times, widespread in Britain; yet the impact of such belief on determinative political events has frequently been overlooked. In his wide-ranging new book, Francis Young explores the role of occult traditions in the history of the island of Great Britain: Merlin’s realm. He argues that while the great magus and artificer invented by Geoffrey of Monmouth was a powerful model for a succession of actual royal magical advisers (including Roger Bacon and John Dee), monarchs nevertheless often lived in fear of hostile sorcery while at other times they even attempted magic themselves. Successive governments were simultaneously fascinated by astrology and alchemy, yet also deeply wary of the possibility of treasonous spellcraft. Whether deployed in warfare, rebellion or propaganda, occult traditions were of central importance to British history and, as the author reveals, these dark arts of magic and politics remain entangled to this day.”
  • Private Notebooks 1914-1916 [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Ludwig Wittgenstein ed trans Marjorie Perloff—”Written in code under constant threat of battle, Wittgenstein’s searing and illuminating diaries finally emerge in this first-ever English translation. During the pandemic, Marjorie Perloff, one of our foremost scholars of global literature, found her mind ineluctably drawn to the profound commentary on life and death in the wartime diaries of eminent philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951). Upon learning that these notebooks, which richly contextualize the early stages of his magnum opus, the Tractatus-Logico-Philosophicus, had never before been published in English, the Viennese-born Perloff determinedly set about translating them. Beginning with the anxious summer of 1914, this historic, en-face edition presents the first-person recollections of a foot soldier in the Austrian Army, fresh from his days as a philosophy student at Cambridge, who must grapple with the hazing of his fellow soldiers, the stirrings of a forbidden sexuality, and the formation of an explosive analytical philosophy that seemed to draw meaning from his endless brushes with death. Much like Tolstoy’s The Gospel in Brief, Private Notebooks takes us on a personal journey to discovery as it augments our knowledge of Wittgenstein himself.”
  • Book: ‘Writings on Art and Poetical Theory’ by Fernando Pessoa – Editor’s Note.” About Writings on Art & Poetical Theory [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Fernando Pessoa, eds. Nuno Ribeiro and Cláudia Souza—”Writings on Art and Poetical Theory contains a selection of Fernando Pessoa’s writings (or those of his heteronyms) on art and poetical theory, originally written in English. In Pessoa’s oeuvre one finds not only literary and fictional works but also a multiplicity of theoretical texts on the most diverse subjects concerning artistic movements, literature, and writers. In this book, we witness Pessoa explore, through various heteronyms, general theories on poetics, the poetries of other heteronyms, the uses and abuses of criticism, and more. Also included are essays on sensationism (an aesthetic movement Pessoa dubs a new species of Weltanschauung), translation, and a brief history of English literature, which is comprised of fragments on Shakespeare, Milton, the British Romantics, Dickens, Wilde, and others, as well as additional material, such as Pessoa’s own poem Antinous. This edition, prepared by Nuno Ribeiro and Cláudia Souza, allows us to have an overview of Pessoa’s writings on art and poetic theory – most of which are presented here for the first time to English readers -, thus opening the way for future studies on one of the most significant authors of Portuguese modernism.”
  • In Praise of Good Bookstores [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Jeff Deutsch—”From a devoted reader and lifelong bookseller, an eloquent and charming reflection on the singular importance of bookstores. Do we need bookstores in the twenty-first century? If so, what makes a good one? In this beautifully written book, Jeff Deutsch–the director of Chicago’s Seminary Co-op Bookstores, one of the finest bookstores in the world–pays loving tribute to one of our most important and endangered civic institutions. He considers how qualities like space, time, abundance, and community find expression in a good bookstore. Along the way, he also predicts–perhaps audaciously–a future in which the bookstore not only endures, but realizes its highest aspirations. In exploring why good bookstores matter, Deutsch draws on his lifelong experience as a bookseller, but also his upbringing as an Orthodox Jew. This spiritual and cultural heritage instilled in him a reverence for reading, not as a means to a living, but as an essential part of a meaningful life. Central among Deutsch’s arguments for the necessity of bookstores is the incalculable value of browsing–since, when we are deep in the act of looking at the shelves, we move through space as though we are inside the mind itself, immersed in self-reflection In the age of one-click shopping, this is no ordinary defense of bookstores, but rather an urgent account of why they are essential places of discovery, refuge, and fulfillment that enrich the communities that are lucky enough to have them.”
  • Corporate Rock Sucks: The Rise and Fall of SST Records [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Jim Ruland—”A no-holds-barred narrative history of the iconic label that brought the world Black Flag, Hüsker Dü, Sonic Youth, Soundgarden, and more, by the co-author of Do What You Want and My Damage. Greg Ginn started SST Records in the sleepy beach town of Hermosa Beach, CA, to supply ham radio enthusiasts with tuners and transmitters. But when Ginn wanted to launch his band, Black Flag, no one was willing to take them on. Determined to bring his music to the masses, Ginn turned SST into a record label. On the back of Black Flag’s relentless touring, guerilla marketing, and refusal to back down, SST became the sound of the underground. In Corporate Rock Sucks, music journalist Jim Ruland relays the unvarnished story of SST Records, from its remarkable rise in notoriety to its infamous downfall. With records by Black Flag, Minutemen, Hüsker Dü, Bad Brains, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Screaming Trees, Soundgarden, and scores of obscure yet influential bands, SST was the most popular indie label by the mid-80s–until a tsunami of legal jeopardy, financial peril, and dysfunctional management brought the empire tumbling down. Throughout this investigative deep-dive, Ruland leads readers through SST’s tumultuous history and epic catalog. Featuring never-before-seen interviews with the label’s former employees, as well as musicians, managers, producers, photographers, video directors, and label heads, Corporate Rock Sucks presents a definitive narrative history of the ’80s punk and alternative rock scenes, and shows how the music industry was changed forever.”
  • I’d mentioned this before, with Kafka and Parmenides set to music, but didn’t have direct links. Here it is: The Understanding of All Things by Kate Soper & Sam Pluta.
  • H C Andersen Hus—”The world as you know it? A visit to H.C. Andersen House is a surprising and fascinating journey into the author’s creative universe – and his world-famous fairy tales. Beauty merges with imagination at the museum, where world-class architecture and spaces bring nature indoors, and provoke us to turn things on their head and speculate about today and tomorrow. Via sound, light, space and scenery designed in collaboration with 12 international artists, in this innovative exhibition, we experience Andersen and his works speak to us. Our imagination is our only compass. We each create our own adventure! Once upon a time… Into the fairy-tale universe. As a visitor, your will experience a fairy-tale universe that is physically deep underground and encapsulated deep in your mind. From the moment you step into the building, the exhibition whisks you farther away from the familiar and ever deeper into Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, where everything we believe we recognise shows us new sides of itself. On this journey, you will find that the architecture weaves with its magical gardens – to create an unique experience, borne on the wings of unprecedented creative genius and humour. Take time to visit DEILIG, our eatery, run by Meyer’s. DEILIG produces delicious food experiences inspired by the life of the author and his fairy tales – for the many rather than the few and for adults and children alike. Every aspect of H.C. Andersen House has a story to tell – and you are part of that story.”
  • Tweet—”Buy physical copies of any book you plan to read in the future. Do it now.” Also “Content Landlords and the Looming Eviction of American Libraries“—”Netflix and many other content landlords want to force you to pay rent instead of being able to own your home. This makes them more money. And as soon as you can’t pay, they change your locks and take your home from you. When you buy a book, you own it. You pay a pretty penny for it, and after you’re done reading, it’s yours to sell, use in an art project, donate, or lend to friends. That’s how it’s always worked. Or that’s how it used to work… Content landlords are now spending millions to change the rules and convince the public it works differently.” Tweet—”This is why it’s so important that the @internetarchive’s non-profit @openlibrary protects your privacy and gives you control of what you read & record.” Tweet—”As a librarian, I think people need to be aware that what you choose to read is personal information (Librarians have gone to prison to protect patron info). If you’re buying digital, your data is being cataloged. #privacymatters” When I developed an OPAC/ILS system, one of the requested features was a way to set an option to automatically delete patron history to help make sure it couldn’t be taken.
  • The evidence is clear: the time for action is now. We can halve emissions by 2030.“—”In the scenarios we assessed, limiting warming to around 1.5°C (2.7°F) requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by 43% by 2030; at the same time, methane would also need to be reduced by about a third. Even if we do this, it is almost inevitable that we will temporarily exceed this temperature threshold but could return to below it by the end of the century. ‘It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F),’ said Skea. ‘Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.’ The global temperature will stabilise when carbon dioxide emissions reach net zero. For 1.5°C (2.7°F), this means achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions globally in the early 2050s; for 2°C (3.6°F), it is in the early 2070s. This assessment shows that limiting warming to around 2°C (3.6°F) still requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by a quarter by 2030.”
  • ‘It’s happening now’: how rising sea levels are causing a US migration crisis. The coming mass migration of flood-prone areas will have huge social and economic costs – but the government doesn’t have an adequate plan.”
  • Psilocybin Therapy Changes Brain Wiring in Depressed People, Study Finds. In clinical trials, people taking psilocybin showed changes in brain patterns associated with depression.”
  • Yale scientists uncover key regulator of body weight“—”Yale scientists have discovered that a protein known as augmentor-alpha regulates body weight in mice, an insight that could lead to new treatments for metabolic disorders.”
  • So, treatment by leeches is a thing again? “Regular blood and plasma donation reduces firefighters’ PFAS levels“—”Regular blood or plasma donations can reduce levels of PFAS in the blood, according to a world-first clinical trial from Macquarie University and Fire Rescue Victoria published in JAMA Network Open.This is the first time an intervention has been found to reduce PFAS levels.”
  • Biodegradable gel boosts immune system’s attack on several cancers in mice“—”A new biodegradable gel improves the immune system’s ability to keep cancer at bay after tumors are surgically removed. The gel, tested in mice, releases drugs and special antibodies that simultaneously deplete immune-blocking cells called macrophages from the surgical site and activate T cells so they can attack cancer.” Also “Stanford engineers develop a simple delivery method that enhances a promising cancer treatment. A gel composed of only two ingredients can provide a temporary, hospitable environment that helps activate modified immune cells to attack cancerous tumors.”
  • In ‘Plant Armor’ Crop Cover, Insects Have to Navigate Textile Maze“—”North Carolina State University researchers designed a textile “Plant Armor” that forces insects to navigate a maze-like path if they try to reach a plant. The design was more effective at blocking insects from reaching cabbage plants in multiple experiments, compared with an alternative crop cover.”
  • First Light achieves world first fusion result, proving unique new target technology. Fusion shown with projectile approach for first time, validated by UKAEA. Breakthrough achieved faster and cheaper than traditional fusion approaches. Unique target approach offers simpler pathway to low-cost fusion energy using existing plant technology. Projectile approach enables a high-margin consumables business model with an addressable market in the hundreds of billions.”
  • Nerve Stimulation with the Help of Implantable Mini Solar Cells. An international research team has successfully developed and tested a concept in which nerves are stimulated with light pulses. The method provides considerable advantages for medicine and opens up a wide range of possible applications.”
  • Treating Diabetes Without Drugs? Novel Non-pharmacologic Treatments on the Horizon.”—”A multi-institutional team including Yale School of Medicine (YSM) has demonstrated the ability to use ultrasound to stimulate specific neurometabolic pathways in the body to prevent or reverse the onset of type 2 diabetes in three different preclinical models. ”
  • Sunlight’s Healing Effects Help Green Sea Turtles With Tumors“—”A new study by Florida Atlantic University researchers is literally shedding “light” on a way to improve the health of endangered green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) prone to a disease called fibropapillomatosis. Affecting about 60 percent of sea turtles in some sub-populations, juveniles are most susceptible to this disease that causes the growth of large debilitating tumors on the skin, eyes and shell. Turtles with fibropapillomatosis are treated at rehabilitation facilities where the tumors are surgically removed. Unfortunately, many of them do not survive or the tumors regrow. One solution to helping this population of sea turtles could be as simple as sunlight.”
  • World’s first LED lights developed from rice husks“—”Milling rice to separate the grain from the husks produces about 100 million tons of rice husk waste globally each year. Scientists searching for a scalable method to fabricate quantum dots have developed a way to recycle rice husks to create the first silicon quantum dot (QD) LED light. Their new method transforms agricultural waste into state-of-the-art light-emitting diodes in a low-cost, environmentally friendly way.”
  • Alzheimer’s brain barrier damage theory could pave way for new treatments“—”Alzheimer’s Disease could be caused by damage to a protective barrier in the body that allows fatty substances to build up in the brain, newly published research argues. A new explanation called the “Lipid Invasion Model,” argues that lipids entering the brain due to damage to the blood brain barrier—a dense system of small blood vessels in the brain that allow only a small number of essential substances to pass through—is the determining cause of the degenerative disease that affects millions worldwide.”
  • New CAR T-cell Therapy for Solid Tumors Was Safe and Showed Early Efficacy. An mRNA Vaccine Was Combined With CAR T Cells That Target Tumor Cells Expressing the CLDN6 Antigen.”
  • Penn Researchers Discover New Cell Type in Human Lung with Regenerative Properties. Findings shine light on underpinnings of COPD, pave new direction for future research on treatments.”—”A new type of cell that resides deep within human lungs and may play a key role in human lung diseases has been discovered by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The researchers, who report their findings today in Nature, analyzed human lung tissue to identify the new cells, which they call respiratory airway secretory cells (RASCs). The cells line tiny airway branches, deep in the lungs, near the alveoli structures where oxygen is exchanged for carbon dioxide. The scientists showed that RASCs have stem-cell-like properties enabling them to regenerate other cells that are essential for the normal functioning of alveoli. They also found evidence that cigarette smoking and the common smoking-related ailment called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can disrupt the regenerative functions of RASCs—hinting that correcting this disruption could be a good way to treat COPD. ”
  • Converting solar energy to electricity on demand. The researchers behind an energy system that makes it possible to capture solar energy, store it for up to eighteen years and release it when and where it is needed have now taken the system a step further. After previously demonstrating how the energy can be extracted as heat, they have now succeeded in getting the system to produce electricity, by connecting it to a thermoelectric generator. Eventually, the research – developed at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden – could lead to self-charging electronics using stored solar energy on demand.”
  • Ride Spinfusors into SPAAaaaAAAaaaCE! SpinLaunch—”SpinLaunch is an innovative new space technology company that has created an alternative method for putting 200 kilogram class satellites into low earth orbit. Unlike traditional fuel-based rockets, SpinLaunch uses a ground-based, electric powered kinetic launch system that delivers a substantially less expensive and environmentally sustainable approach to space access.” Watch “SpinLaunch“—”See the entire process of launching a payload into LEO with our Mass Accelerator”
  • And here’s the catcher’s mitt: “Rocket Lab to Attempt First Mid-Air Helicopter Capture of the Electron Rocket During Next Mission.”
  • Hubble Confirms Largest Comet Nucleus Ever Seen“—”The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has determined the size of the largest icy comet nucleus ever seen by astronomers.” “That’s no small feat from something roughly 4.8 billion kilometres away. Though the nucleus is estimated to be as large as 135 kilometres across, it is so far away it cannot be resolved by Hubble. Its size is derived from its reflectivity as measured by Hubble. The nucleus is estimated to be as black as charcoal. The nucleus area is gleaned from radio observations.”
  • Megamaser “Nkalakatha” discovered by astronomers using MeerKAT“—”Using the MeerKAT radio telescope, a team of researchers from the University of the Western Cape, the University of Cape Town, Rhodes University, the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory and the South African Astronomical Observatory together with colleagues from twelve other countries have discovered a powerful megamaser – a radio-wavelength laser indicative of colliding galaxies. This is the most distant such megamaser found so far.” Also “Pew, pew! Scientists detect record-breaking ‘megamaser’ 5 billion light-years away. Meet Nkalakatha, or ‘big boss.'”
  • Researchers may have discovered a galaxy barely younger than the Big Bang. HD1 might have existed 13.5 billion years ago.”
  • Neptune just experienced an unexplained temperature shift“—”Nearly 100 thermal images of Neptune taken since then showed that much of Neptune gradually cooled, dropping by 14 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius) between 2003 and 2018.” “Then, a dramatic warming event occurred at Neptune’s south pole between 2018 and 2020 and temperatures rose by 20 degrees Fahrenheit (11 degrees Celsius). This warm polar vortex completely reversed any cooling that occurred before.”
  • From 2018: “Through two doors. How a sunbeam split in two became physics’ most elegant experiment, shedding light on the underlying nature of reality.”
  • Scientists find fossil of dinosaur ‘killed on day of asteroid strike’. Remains of thescelosaurus in North Dakota believed to date back to extinction of species 66m years ago.”—”Scientists believe they have been given an extraordinary view of the last day of the dinosaurs after they discovered the fossil of an animal they believe died that day. The perfectly preserved leg, which even includes remnants of the animal’s skin, can be accurately dated to the time the asteroid that brought about the dinosaurs’ extinction struck Earth 66m years ago, experts say, because of the presence of debris from the impact, which rained down only in its immediate aftermath. ‘It’s absolutely bonkers,’ said Phillip Manning, a professor of natural history at the University of Manchester. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the thescelosaurus leg discovered at the Tanis dig site in North Dakota was the ‘ultimate dinosaur drumstick’.”
  • Project “Zuck Bucks”: Meta plans virtual coin after cryptocurrency flop. Meta seeks alternate revenue streams as popularity of its products plummets.”
  • Elon Musk Decides Against Joining Twitter’s Board, CEO Says. The Tesla CEO became the company’s biggest shareholder earlier this month.” Also tweet—”Elon has decided not to join our board. I sent a brief note to the company, sharing with you all here.”
  • Thread—”!!! Friday Night Surprise. Plaintiffs just filed their response to Facebook in my favorite case – what I call the mother of all lawsuits – in Delaware where it’s incorporated. It’s a tight but absolutely delicious 120 pages so I’ll break down the allegations here for you. /1″ “And I’ll add to the end of this – another thread how the news story broke globally leading to a lot of unanswered questions and the $5 billion settlement. Cheers.” Thread—”3yrs ago today, NYT and Guardian (after threat from Facebook), broke massive scoop that Facebook’s personal data had not only been sold to a political operative but FB had covered up what they ultimately labeled a “breach of trust.” For 3yrs they’ve continued to cover it up. /1″
  • Amazon Staten Island Workers Unionize in a Historic First. Thousands of workers beat the odds and voted to become the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the US.”
  • Aw, hell no. Union busting assholes. “Activision Blizzard is giving a thousand game testers full-time jobs and pay bumps. Nearly 1,100 temp game testers are getting full-time jobs with benefits.”—”‘Make no mistake, all credit for Activision Blizzard’s latest move to give all temporary and contingent QA team members full-time employment and a raise should go to the workers who have been organizing, mobilizing and speaking out,’ Communications Workers of America secretary-treasurer Sara Steffens said in a statement to The Verge. ‘It’s especially galling then that Activision has excluded Raven Software QA workers, who have been at the forefront of this effort, from these benefits. The company’s assertion that the National Labor Relations Act prevents them from including Raven workers is clearly an effort to divide workers and undermine their effort to form a union (Game Workers Alliance – CWA). Activision’s disingenuous announcement is further evidence of the need for workers to have a protected voice on the job. We strongly urge Activision Blizzard to rectify this situation and respect Raven QA workers’ protected right to organize under the law.'”
  • Tweet—”Starbucks is looking to hire a new director of corporate labor counsel with experience in ‘strike contingency planning’.” Also “The job is no longer available. The job description you are trying to view is no longer available.”—”You will work with and oversee a team of outside counsel and in-house paralegals to respond to NLRB charges and petitions, defend administrative hearings and litigation, manage collective bargaining contract negotiations, and oversee day-to-day labor relations matters.” Tweet—”Please DO NOT go to http://changeisbrewing.org to send an automatic false application to become a union-busting Director of Corporate Labor Council for Starbucks. I repeat, DO NOT do this! Very bad.”
  • What the Rise of China’s Digital Currency Could Mean for the U.S.. Beijing hopes its new digital yuan will undermine the dollar’s dominance. But Darrell Duffie says Washington shouldn’t rush its response.”
  • Watch “Data Brokers: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)“—”John Oliver discusses how much data brokers know about us, what they’re doing with our personal information, and one….unusual way to change privacy laws. ‘All the free stuff that you take for granted online is only free because you are the product.'”
  • Crypto Industry Helps Write, and Pass, Its Own Agenda in State Capitols. In the absence of federal regulations, crypto lobbyists and executives are going state by state to get favorable rules enacted. Many lawmakers have been willing partners.”
  • New omicron XE Covid variant first detected in the UK spreads to Japan as cases rise. Japan’s health ministry said Monday that the new XE variant, first detected in the U.K., was found in a woman in her 30s who arrived at Narita Airport. The XE subvariant is a so-called recombinant, or mix, of two earlier omicron strains, BA.1 and BA.2. 1,125 cases of XE have so far been detected in the U.K. almost double the previous count, according to the latest statistics from the U.K. Health Security Agency.”
  • Covid Updates: U.S. Watching Uptick in Cases Closely. The new White House Covid czar, Dr. Ashish Jha, said that hospitalizations remained very low and that he was not overly concerned. The U.S. State Department ordered some workers to leave Shanghai.”
  • America’s Pandemic Orphans Are Slipping Through the Cracks. A new plan to help them will likely be too little, too late.”
  • Herd immunity now seems impossible. Welcome to the age of Covid reinfection. The virus is now embedded in our world. But there are steps we can take to keep it at bay while we continue to live our lives.”
  • Extremists like Marjorie Taylor Greene are the future of the Republican party. It’s impossible to understand American politics without grappling in earnest with why Greene’s extremism is widely seen as justified on the right.”
  • Marjorie Taylor Greene Believes in Frazzledrip, QAnon’s Wildest Conspiracy Theory. Greene has repeatedly tried to distance herself from QAnon, but she has never disowned the conspiracy movement.”
  • Far-Right ‘Journalist’ Just Wants to Bring Witch Trials Back, Is That So Wrong?“—”You know how Rule 34 of the internet stipulates that “If it exists, there is porn of it?” Well, there is a similar rule for politics — and that is that practically any horrible thing you can think of from history, and anything or viewpoint or wacky belief you might look back upon and think “Good thing we’re so much more evolved now! That would never happen today!” either has or will be defended by the Right. As such, conservative commentator and white nationalist Patrick Howley would very much like to bring back witch trials.” “‘What’s so bad about witch trials?’ Howley asked, exasperated. ‘Can we have witch trials again? Where we have, like, tribunals and we can jail witches? We can jail those who do the black magic? Who do the black arts? Because it’s so prevalent everywhere, and in fact it’s actually worse now than it’s ever been in history.’ Howley is not talking about like, normal pagans, Wiccans, whatever. He’s talking about the same kind of imaginary witches that Cotton Mather was on about in the 1600s. The ones who float and have third nipples and familiars and, of course, actual magic powers. Who he imagines are out there doing literal black magic to people.”
  • A top MAGA gathering finds life complicated after Trump. CPAC was at the top of its powers last year. Then Covid-19 hit, Trump lost, and the postelection chaos ensued. Now, the confab has some challenges ahead.”
  • Florida Republicans will allow DeSantis to draw congressional map.” Also “Al Lawson blasts congressional redistricting proposal from Florida Gov. DeSantis. ‘I don’t think the governor should be involved,” Lawson says.” Tweet—”Remember, these were same people calling Biden a dictator because he told people to wear masks and take a vaccine. Florida Republicans will allow DeSantis to draw congressional map.”
  • Report: Trump’s Truth Social Is an Even Bigger Humiliation Than His Other Business Failures. Hard to imagine given his track record and yet here we are!”
  • Former U.S. Attorney Calls Donald Trump Jr.’s Text On Seizing Election ‘Smoking Gun’. Donald Trump’s son talked of taking over presidential election even before it was called and before any evidence could have been found that the vote was rigged.”
  • Liz Cheney Says Jan. 6 Panel Has Enough Evidence To Refer Trump For Criminal Charges. ‘That is the definition of an insurrection,’ said Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair of the House select committee.”
  • How Jared Kushner and the Trump admin traded U.S. foreign policy for $2 billion. Chris Hayes: ‘Essentially, the Trump administration sold U.S. foreign policy, Jamal Khashoggi’s life, and American principles on liberal democracy and freedom of the press for $2 billion that went straight into Jared Kushner’s pocket.'”
  • Trump Officials Failed to Provide Accounting of Foreign Gifts. The State Department could not compile a list of gifts for 2020, making it difficult to determine whether officials did anything improper.”
  • ‘This Was Trump Pulling a Putin’. Amid the current crisis, Fiona Hill and other former advisers are connecting President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine to Jan. 6. And they’re ready to talk.”
  • Trump says he regrets not marching on Capitol with supporters on January 6. Ex-president also rejects suggestions he used ‘burner phones’ on day of the assault in Washington Post interview.”
  • A Stunning Surprise In The Michigan Kidnapping Case Calls The Government’s Domestic Terror Strategy Into Question. In one of the nation’s most important domestic terrorism trials, the government’s single-minded pursuit of a conviction speaks volumes — about way more than just this one case.”—”Despite the government’s extraordinary efforts to muzzle the defense, a jury in Grand Rapids federal court on Friday acquitted two men on charges including conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the other two who had been charged.”
  • Arbitrator Clears Buffalo Cops Who Pushed Elderly Protester At George Floyd Protest. Two officers shoved Martin Gugino to the ground after he approached them, leaving him motionless and bloody.”
  • Finland, Sweden set to join NATO as soon as summer, The Times reports.”
  • ‘The Russians are trying to obliterate us. You think that we’d agree to half-measures now?’. Ivan Fedorov, the exiled mayor of occupied Melitopol, says the battle for Donbas is also a fight for global security.”
  • Biden accuses Putin of committing a ‘genocide’ in Ukraine“—”Asked later what made him use the word ‘genocide,’ Biden replied, ‘Yes, I called it genocide. It has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being — being able to be Ukrainian.’ Biden said evidence against Putin and the Russian military was mounting. ‘The — more evidence is coming out of the — literally, the horrible things that the Russians have done in Ukraine. And we’re going to only learn more and more about the devastation,’ he said. ‘And we’ll let the lawyers decide internationally whether or not it qualifies, but it sure seems that way to me.’ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reacted on Twitter to Biden’s genocide remarks, saying that ‘Calling things by their names is essential to stand up to evil.'”
  • Navalny review – staggering portrait of Putin’s extraordinary arch-enemy. Absorbing documentary about the Russian opposition figure tells a story we all need to hear.” Watch “Navalny – 30″ Spot“—”In Cinemas & On Demand now: https://dogwoof.com/navalny Enthralling and intimate, director Daniel Roher’s NAVALNY unfolds with the pace of a thriller as it follows Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in his quest to identify the men who poisoned him in August 2020. Shot in Germany as the story unfolded and offering extraordinary access to theinvestigation, NAVALNY is a fly-on-the-wall documentary that is also a study of Navalny the man – aportrait of a leader intent on reform who will not be cowed by anything, including his own poisoning.”
  • Texas DA To Dismiss Murder Charge Against Woman Accused Of ‘Self-Induced Abortion’. Starr County District Attorney Gocha Allen Ramirez said that 26-year-old Lizelle Herrera ‘cannot and should not be prosecuted for the allegation against her.'”
  • Thread—”I have a story that illuminates the “groomer” line of thinking the right has against queer & trans people. A few years back, I was brought on by a library in a small town to teach children fiction. Shortly before the program was to start, a cis man kidnapped & murdered a kid. 1/?” Thread—”I think it’s important for people to recognize that the “groomer” panic being instigated by the right is categorically different and more dangerous than what we have seen historically and has greater potential to lead to widespread political violence. My analysis follows.” Tweet—”To sum up: The GOP insist that merely *existing* as #LGBTQIA+ is being a #Groomer. AT THE SAME TIME the TN GOP want to be able to marry little girls with no age restrictions. AND ALSO the GOP want children raped by adults or relatives to be forced into pregnancy #OkGroomer.”
  • Thread—”Well that didn’t take long. We decided to take a trip on Amtrak with the kids for spring break. 9 hours into a pleasant ride, a man was suddenly standing next to me, shouting across me at my 6yo son, “Remember what I told you. They stole you. They’re pedophiles.” Tweet—”Fuck every single person who’s stoked this up. Every person who’s called anyone looking to protect LGBTQIA+ kids a “groomer” you may think you’re making the world better, but you are a malignancy on this world.”
  • Distraught over orders to investigate trans kids’ families, Texas child welfare workers are resigning. Other investigators don’t want to follow an order they believe harms families but worry about the impact of a mass employee exodus on the state’s most vulnerable children.”
  • Queer Works director says he’s received threatening calls after Palm Springs transgender income pilot vote.”
  • Jojo Siwa: My Song Was Played at Kids’ Choice Awards but I Wasn’t Invited.”
  • Fantastic Beasts 3: Gay dialogue removed from film for Chinese audiences. References to a gay relationship in the new Fantastic Beasts movie were removed by Warner Bros for Chinese audiences.”
  • A policing strategy abandoned after Breonna Taylor’s death spreads to other cities. At least nine jurisdictions either plan to or have adopted the crime-reduction strategy known as ‘place network investigations’ — a model that examines geographic connections that allow crime to flourish. ”
  • Thread—”Wow: Investigators searching the apartments of the 2 men who allegedly posed as DHS agents say they found a loaded Glock 19, disassembled long guns, sniper spotting equipment, ammunition, handcuffs, radios, body armor, a surveillance drone and several servers. 1/”
  • A CT mechanic found hundreds of pieces of art in a dumpster. They’re worth ‘millions.’
  • Howard Rheingold on the past and present of virtual communities“—”A lot of people have forgotten, or never learned, that the web as we know it was really created by people like you and I who just put up our websites and link to our friend’s websites and put up pictures of our pets.” “I think that when the web first started, everybody who was putting up a website, understood that we were creating it. Nowadays, people who were born into an age where Facebook dominated, I don’t think they understand that they have that capability that anybody can innovate and create something new.” “I think their willing-to-share part was really built in, not to the technical infrastructure, but to the culture that developed out of the early internet, in the early web.”
  • What Is Retaliation in the Workplace? Here Are Your Rights and What to Know.”—”Recognizing what is officially retaliation and what is generally a toxic workplace is tricky, especially since they can overlap. And not knowing the difference feels like another obvious advantage for exploitative workplaces, because if we don’t know how to recognize retaliation, we’ll assume this is just what work is.”
  • Threatening Language Can Be Contagious. This New Tool Tracks Its Spread. Researchers unveil a ‘threat dictionary’ that measures the cultural impact of wars, pandemics, and other dangers real and imagined.”—”Are you an order Muppet or a chaos Muppet? That may sound like a silly question, but Michele Gelfand, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business, is entirely serious when she asks it. She categorizes cultures and personalities on a spectrum from tight to loose and then examines how those differences affect nations, companies, families, and even individuals.” “They didn’t just choose synonyms, but terms that were often used in association with language that described threats. For instance, the term ‘unrest’ is frequently used to describe an impending civil war. This approach was more comprehensive than purely human attempts and it allowed the dictionary to capture how people actually write about threats. The final list of words reads like an apocalyptic poem: attack, crisis, fear, frightening, injury, suffer, toxic, unstable.” “Unlike Muppets, who are entertaining because they rarely stray from their core characteristics, people and cultures can adapt to respond more effectively to difficult situations. Gelfand hopes the threat dictionary could help nations, companies, and individuals understand when they need to pivot. For more loose, chaotic types, this could mean tightening up to deal with a pandemic or war. For the tighter, orderly types, this could mean loosening up to create environments that encourage innovation and creative problem-solving. The point, she says, isn’t that one type is better than the other. It’s the ability to titrate the right mix that really matters. ‘Culture’s invisible, but once we start measuring it, we can talk about it,’ Gelfand says. ‘We can decide mindfully in what domains we want to tighten and in what domains we want to be loose.'” See also “Threat Dictionary“—”This dictionary was designed to diagnose threatening language in any text that interests you. Details regarding the development and validation of the dictionary can be found in our PNAS paper. The dictionary is free to use and is currently available in English. ”
  • Prison, lawsuits and a glovebox of fake cash: the film the KLF didn’t want you to see. The enigmatic rave duo refused to approve Chris Atkins’s documentary on them – and then he got five years for tax fraud. He explains how he channelled their anarchic spirit and made it anyway, Ford Timelord and all.” Watch “Who Killed The KLF? (Official Trailer)“—”‘Who Killed the KLF?’ uses previously unheard tapes to explore the rise and fall of the KLF in the 1980s and 1990s, touching upon themes that perfectly capture the 21st century zeitgeist. The film is a fascinating insight into the machinations not only of Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond, but of art, culture, and capitalism. A tale as intriguing as it is bonkers, ‘Who Killed the KLF?’ will entice, intrigue and shock audiences everywhere.” Rent the movie at “Who Killed The KLF?.”
  • Hey, Pixar! I’ve got an idea for you! “Hungry javelina gets stuck in car, goes for ride in Arizona“—”After speaking with the car’s owner and other residents, they determined the car’s hatch back had been left open overnight. The javelina jumped in to get to a bag of Cheetos. The hatch then closed, trapping the animal inside. Authorities say the javelina ripped off a portion of the dashboard and the inside of a door in an attempt to escape. The animal then managed to knock the car into neutral, causing it to roll down the driveway and across the street. The Subaru came to a rest, and the javelina was not injured. A deputy opened the hatch, and the javelina was able to run back into the wilderness.”
  • Tweet—”Wanna draw spellcasters? Try conductors as references.” Tweet—”Wait. That’s. Wait. You’re on to something.”
  • From 2020: “A California city filled its skate park with sand to deter skateboarders. Then the dirt bikes showed up.
  • RiffTrax: The Game, due May 2022—”RiffTrax: The Game is a multiplayer party game where players compete to make bad movies funny. Do you have what it takes to be the next movie riffing genius? Grab your friends and make fun of some of the worst cinematic abominations ever created.”
  • Russian Doll S2 trailer is a trippy time-traveling deligh. ‘The universe finally found something worse than death. I broke time.'” Watch “Russian Doll Season 2 | Official Trailer | Netflix“—”All aboard the crazy train. Starring Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll Season 2 premieres April 20th on Netflix. Watch Russian Doll Season 2, April 20 on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/RussianDoll”
  • Let the goat come to you. Tweet—”Screw Web3, gonna be working on Goat Internet projects from now on.”
  • The Wishing Sigil—”Life was good. So very, very good. The holidays were coming, and you were looking forward to spending them with your loving family. Then, the unthinkable happened and you were torn away from them. Now, you find yourself spending the darkest time of the year in a place where no one seems to care about you—that is, until some of the other children start disappearing… In The Wishing Sigil, you’ll be writing daily journals about your time in a Victorian workhouse. Each morning, you, the player, will receive an email with a prompt for the day—a question or two or a situation you find yourself in that day. Some days, you’ll even receive Babadook (or other horror movie)-inspired artwork. We encourage you to write down your answers to craft the story of your encounter with holiday horror. Content warnings for the game include: child endangerment, child abuse, childhood trauma, violence, gore, body horror, supernatural horror, adults abusing their power, thoughts of suicide. This game is not appropriate for children under the age of 15.”
  • Pink Floyd’s First New Recording in Nearly 30 Years Was Inspired by a Lone Ukrainian Musician. ‘Hey, Hey, Rise Up’ features Andriy Khlyvnyuk of Ukrainian band Boombox on vocals and the song will raise money for a Ukrainian charity.” Watch “Pink Floyd – Hey Hey Rise Up (feat. Andriy Khlyvnyuk of Boombox).”
  • Watch “Julian Lennon Performs ‘IMAGINE’ for Global Citizen’s Stand Up For Ukraine w/Nuno Bettencourt.”

Omnium Gatherum: 6apr2022

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for April 6, 2022.

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

  • Etsy sellers will go on strike in April and want customers to boycott. Sellers are asking shoppers to boycott the platform between April 11th and April 18th.”—”In February, Etsy CEO Josh Silverman had good news to share with investors: sales and revenue were at an all-time high, sending Etsy stock soaring. At the same time, Silverman had less welcome news for sellers, delivered via email: transaction fees were going up, from 5 percent to 6.5 percent, or a 30 percent increase, beginning April 11th. For Kristi Cassidy, an active seller on Etsy since 2007, the fee increase was the last straw.”
  • Aaron Durán & Sara Soler Conjure Mexican-American History in Season of the Bruja. In an exclusive interview with CBR, Season of the Bruja’s creative team discusses how they approached mixing Latine culture with magic.”—”…it’s not a 100% Mexican folklore and folk story. I’m trying to create a distinct Mexican-American experience, which is its own experience. Hopefully, hopefully, we’re getting there.”
  • Crowdfunding effort, with 15 days to go: “The Steel Clan Saga: Action Adventure Epic Fantasy. Queer Action Adventure with Motorcycles, Dragons, Anarchy, and Swords.”—”My Name is T. Thorn Coyle and this is my second Kickstarter campaign. My first campaign—Bookshop Witch—was very successful. Kickstarter even named it a “Project We Love.” That inspired me to reach out to readers with more stories from the recesses of my mind. I love fantasy, magic, and the mystery of the barely known. My favorite stories hinge on the thought that something strange and wondrous is always just around the corner, or glimmering at the edges of our vision. And I try to live my life as if this is so. Author of four major fantasy-based novel series, ten multi-genre short story collections, and several nonfiction books, I’ve written since around age five. This is also when my voracious reading habit began, as I sought out a sense of wonder, escaping the sometimes brutal reality of my childhood. I often say books saved my life—thanks librarians!—and I mean it. But though I read a lot of fantasy of all stripes, and while epic and adventure fantasy delights me, sometimes I want… more. I want epic fantasy that does not rely on a quasi-feudal order. I want queer characters, a variety of cultures, and diverse religions. I want books where people like you and me fight for what they love. Apparently my subconscious agrees, because as soon as I began thinking on it, the Knights of the Steel Clan roared up, motorcycles rumbling, steel in hand, emphatically saying, ‘We are free.'”
  • Open access Journal of Interactive Books—”La rivista JIB è un’emanazione dell’ International Centre on Interactive Books della Fondazione Tancredi di Barolo. Il Centro Studi si propone di attivare in modo organico e coordinato, sul territorio nazionale e in collegamento con le analoghe istituzioni internazionali coinvolte, studi, ricerche, attività di conservazione e valorizzazione del bene culturale costituito dai libri animati di interesse storico, artistico, scientifico e didattico, affacciandosi alle più recenti e significative esperienze della multimedialità e al libro d’artista.” (JIB magazine is an offshoot of the International Center on Interactive Books of the Tancredi di Barolo Foundation. The Study Center aims to activate in an organic and coordinated way, on the national territory and in connection with the analogous international institutions involved, studies, research, conservation and enhancement activities of the cultural asset consisting of animated books of historical, artistic, scientific and didactic, looking at the most recent and significant experiences of multimedia and the artist’s book.)
  • Father May Be an Elephant, and Mother Only a Small Basket, But… by Gogu Shyamala – review. These rich and playful stories by a member of India’s lowest caste capture a childhood full of fun and games – and discrimination.” About Father May Be an Elephant and Mother Only a Small Basket, but… [Amazon, Bookshop UK, Publisher, Local Library] by Gogu Shyamala, trans by Diia Rajan, Sashi Kumar, A Suneetha, N Manohar Reddy, R Srivatsan, Gita Ramaswamy, Uma Bhrugubanda, P Pavana, and Duggirala Vasanta—”Dalit feminist stories of a south Indian village that dissolve the borders of realism, allegory and political fable. A young girl is sent away to school to save her from being declared the sexual property of the village’s upper-caste men. The village water tank laments to a passing child. A Brahmin boy is considered ‘polluted’ by the touch of a Dalit girl – the same action that saved his life. Rendered with idiomatic vitality, humour and lightness, these stories revel in rural childhood without nostalgia or romanticism, forcing the reader to question their expectation of violence in the representation of certain lives, and of what the short story can be and do. Shifts in tone and perspective reveal relationships – between the different castes that make up a village, between an individual and the wider community, between identities and the seasonal rhythms of the land. Imbued throughout with a Dalit feminist philosophy that is above all a philosophy of life, to be lived with wit, ingenuity, and defiance.”
  • The Black Maybe: Liminal Stories [Publisher] by Attila Veres, trans. by Luca Karafiáth, introduction by Steve Rasnic Tem, due October 2022—”Every so often a new horror writer bursts onto the scene with a book that is so dazzlingly original, so bone-chillingly terrifying, that it instantly alters the landscape of contemporary horror fiction. Hungarian author Attila Veres’ debut collection The Black Maybe is one of those books. This volume collects ten of his best tales in English for the first time, ranging from weird fiction like ‘In the Snow, Sleeping’, in which a couple’s vacation to a health spa erodes into a surreal nightmare, to folk horror like ‘Return to the Midnight School’, in which the things that emerge from the soil in one rural farming community are bizarre and horrific, to Lovecraft-inspired tales like ‘Multiplied by Zero’, written as a wry travelogue in which a man sets out on a deadly holiday tour to explore Lovecraftian landscapes. And in the title story ‘The Black Maybe’, which Steve Rasnic Tem calls ‘one of the weirdest tales I’ve read in years’, a girl and her family escape the bustling city to experience farm life, only to discover with unimaginable horror the truth of what is really being harvested there. These stories are thrilling, frightening, sometimes blackly humorous, and totally unlike anything you have read before. As Tem writes in the introduction, ‘Given both the range and originality of his dark fiction, Attila Veres’ career is one to watch.’ After reading this book, we have no doubt that readers will agree.”
  • The Genesis Machine: Our Quest to Rewrite Life in the Age of Synthetic Biology [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Amy Webb and Andrew Hessel—”The next frontier in technology is inside our own bodies. Synthetic biology will revolutionize how we define family, how we identify disease and treat aging, where we make our homes, and how we nourish ourselves. This fast-growing field—which uses computers to modify or rewrite genetic code—has created revolutionary, groundbreaking solutions such as the mRNA COVID vaccines, IVF, and lab-grown hamburger that tastes like the real thing. It gives us options to deal with existential threats: climate change, food insecurity, and access to fuel. But there are significant risks. Who should decide how to engineer living organisms? Whether engineered organisms should be planted, farmed, and released into the wild? Should there be limits to human enhancements? What cyber-biological risks are looming? Could a future biological war, using engineered organisms, cause a mass extinction event? Amy Webb and Andrew Hessel’s riveting examination of synthetic biology and the bioeconomy provide the background for thinking through the upcoming risks and moral dilemmas posed by redesigning life, as well as the vast opportunities waiting for us on the horizon.”
  • Feeling anxious? Don’t fight it, expert says – embrace anxiety and harness its power to become more productive and build resilience. Rather than letting anxiety consume you, it is better to identify and manage the threat that’s causing it, and channel it into something that works for you. Breathe deeply to keep calm, says a neuroscientist, and exercise to give your brain a ‘bubble bath’. When anxious, ask yourself ‘What can I learn from it?'” About Good Anxiety: Harnessing the Power of the Most Misunderstood Emotion [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Wendy Suzuki—”World-renowned neuroscientist and author of Healthy Brain, Happy Life has developed an ‘absolute game-changer’ (Conscious Conversations Podcast) for managing unwarranted anxiety and turning it into a powerful asset. We are living in the age of anxiety, a situation that often makes us feel as if we are locked into an endless cycle of stress, sleeplessness, and worry. But what if we had a way to leverage our anxiety to help us solve problems and fortify our well-being? What if, instead of seeing anxiety as a curse, we could recognize it for the unique gift that it is? As a neuroscientist, Dr. Wendy Suzuki has discovered a paradigm-shifting truth about anxiety: yes, it is uncomfortable, but it is also essential for our survival. In fact, anxiety is a key component of our ability to live optimally. Every emotion we experience has an evolutionary purpose, and anxiety is designed to draw our attention to a number of negative emotions. If we simply approach anxiety as something to avoid, get rid of, or dampen, we actually miss an opportunity to not only manage the symptoms of anxiety better but also discover ways to improve our lives. Listening to our worries from a place of curiosity, instead of fear, can actually guide us onto a path that leads to joy.”
  • Tweet—”What’s possible when empire is uncertain about its authority? My latest essay ‘Criticism as Proposition’ uses proposition—in all its legal, financial, sexual, & epistemological senses—to revisit unsettled & unsettling questions about freedom.” About Criticism as Proposition by Kaneesha Cherelle Parsard, South Atlantic Quarterly (2022) 121 (1): 91–108—”Proposition is a critical mode of speaking back, a mode of testing alternative timelines and scenes of freedom.”
  • NYPL Announcement: The Library Is Eliminating Fines.”
  • New open access policy within Utrecht University. The road to full open access. Utrecht University aims at a publishing climate in which academic authors publish fully open access (OA). The Executive Board of Utrecht University has agreed to a new OA policy to realise this ambition.”—”At the centre of the policy is that UU researchers are expected to make all their publications (journal articles, book chapters and books) open access under an open licence.”
  • New experiment could confirm the fifth element“—”An experiment which could confirm the fifth state of matter in the universe – and change physics as we know it – has been published in a new paper from the University of Portsmouth. Physicist Dr Melvin Vopson has already published research suggesting that information has mass and that all elementary particles, the smallest known building blocks of the universe, store information about themselves, similar to the way humans have DNA. Now he has designed an experiment – which if proved correct – means he will have discovered that information is the fifth form of matter, alongside solid, liquid, gas and plasma.”
  • Cure worse than the disease: “A robot made of magnetic slime could be deployed inside the body to perform tasks such as retrieving objects swallowed by accident.
  • Microplastics found in human blood for first time. Exclusive: The discovery shows the particles can travel around the body and may lodge in organs.”
  • What is Dark Matter?“—”It is rather embarrassing to admit that over the past century, cosmologists were unable to figure out what most of the matter in the universe is made of. The ordinary matter that we are made of and share with familiar objects like comets, asteroids, planets and interstellar gas, only makes a sixth of the cosmic mass budget of all matter (excluding the vacuum which makes up the dark energy and does not get diluted like matter as the universe expands). The rest is invisible matter, showing no detectable interactions, other than gravity, with ordinary matter.”
  • Hubble Views a Galaxy with an Active Black Hole“—”When astronomers inspected NGC 7172 across the electromagnetic spectrum they quickly discovered that there was more to it than meets the eye: NGC 7172 is a Seyfert galaxy – a type of galaxy with an intensely luminous active galactic nucleus powered by matter accreting onto a supermassive black hole. ”
  • Mystery warriors made the fastest migration in ancient history. The Avar traveled from Mongolia to Hungary in the span of a decade or two, DNA evidence confirms.” Also “Study Reveals Origin of the Mysterious Avars, Who Crushed the Roman Empire“—”The nomadic Avars appeared suddenly in Eastern Europe 1,500 years ago, crushed the remains of the Roman Empire under their boots and ruled for two centuries. Who were they? Now geneticists have sequenced the genomes of dozens of these fearsome invaders. They were, it turns out, Mongolians, who formed an empire centuries before Genghis Khan. More specifically, the Avars were the scions of an ancient tribal empire that spanned modern-day Mongolia as well parts of China and Russia. When that empire fell, part of its population apparently migrated thousands of kilometers in a mere handful of years from the steppes of northeast Asia to the plains of eastern Europe, concludes the study published Friday in the journal Cell.”
  • Arctic simulation of Moon-like habitat shows wellbeing sessions can improve mental health in extreme isolation. Researchers at the University of Surrey and the University of Milano-Bicocca have partnered with SAGA Space Architects to investigate the psychological impact of social isolation in harsh environments, such as on the Moon. This research formed part of the LUNARK project which explored how humans could survive on the Moon and have successful habitats there in the future.”
  • The world’s oldest pants are a 3,000-year-old engineering marvel. Strong in some places and flexible in others, the pants were designed for horseback riding.”
  • Ancient Gas From the Dawn of Time Is Leaking From Earth’s Core. Helium-3 released at Earth’s surface contains tales from the deep planet and the deep past.”
  • Archaeologists explore submerged Maya city. Archaeologists from INAH are conducting a study of a submerged Maya city in Lake Atitlán, Guatemala.”
  • A new place for consciousness in our understanding of the universe. To make sense of mysteries like quantum mechanics and the passage of time, theorists are trying to reformulate physics to include subjective experience as a physical constituent of the world.”
  • Mars crater complex shows layers of ice in stunning spacecraft photos. It’s the largest known impact basin in the solar system.”
  • Watch “NASA’s Perseverance Rover Captures Puff, Whir, Zap Sounds from Mars” Also “What Sounds Captured by NASA’s Perseverance Rover Reveal About Mars. A new study based on recordings made by the rover finds that the speed of sound is slower on the Red Planet than on Earth and that, mostly, a deep silence prevails.”
  • New Revelations Raise Pressure on NASA to Rename the James Webb Space Telescope. E-mailed exchanges show the space agency’s internal struggle to address pleas to change the controversial name of its latest, greatest observatory.”
  • Amazon Workers in Staten Island Clinch a Historic Victory“—”It’s the magical stuff of Disney movies. But yesterday, the improbable became the most probable when the scrappy band of workers who make up the Amazon Labor Union took the lead in a union election at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, putting within reach a historic labor win at the corporate behemoth.” “It’s the hard work, every day: workers talking to workers. Not just media games, but solidarity, daily analysis, and adjusting as needed. It’s working as a collective, learning together, and teaching each other…That’s how we won.” Also “He was fired by Amazon 2 years ago. Now he’s the force behind the company’s 1st union.” Also, I mean, because, of course they did that: “Leaked: New Amazon Worker Chat App Would Ban Words Like ‘Union,’ ‘Restrooms,’ ‘Pay Raise,’ And ‘Plantation’. Also: ‘Grievance,’ ‘slave labor,’ ‘This is dumb,’ ‘living wage,’ ‘diversity,’ ‘vaccine,’ and others.” Tweet—”BREAKING: David beats Goliath! In a historic victory, Amazon workers in Staten Island win the first U.S. Amazon union.” Tweet—”Reminder that the NYPD worked with Amazon to try, and fail, to stop this union effort.” Tweet—”Amazon Labor Union organizers defied harassment and even arrests. Amazon enlisted the NYPD to arrest organizers. Police told workers: ‘We won, you lost.'” Tweet—”21st century Pinkertons pretty much sums it up.”
  • And this from an asshole who promoted his book with a bullshit and spoiler campaign for President: “Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz Says Companies Are Being ‘Assaulted’ by Unions. Schultz made his remarks on the very same day the company fired a union organizer at a store in Arizona.”
  • Tweet—”Facebook paid a GOP consulting firm to run a smear campaign against TikTok, portraying it as harmful to teens. The firm fed stories to local news outlets that blamed TikTok for bogus viral trends like the ‘Slap a Teacher TikTok challenge.'” Tweet—”Where do you even begin with this? Facebook paid a Republican oppo research firm to smear TikTok including planting fake news in mainstream outlets. Black PR, overseen by @nickclegg, & at this point, journalists need to treat entire press team as disinfo.” Also “Facebook paid Republican strategy firm to malign TikTok. Targeted Victory pushed local operatives across the country to boost messages calling TikTok a threat to American children. “Dream would be to get stories with headlines like ‘From dances to danger,'” one campaign director said.” Thread—”I have SOMETHING TO SAY about this batshit crazy story. Basically: the media LOVES a teen technopanic. The PR firm easily exploited a hundred-year old moral panic over kids and tech. Here’s why.” Tweet—”Not surprising. Meta handles problems through PR tactics rather than focusing on studying and fixing the broken parts that cause real world harm and undermine societies and communities. Time to regulate. Facebook paid GOP firm to malign TikTok.” Tweet—”Facebook executive who spent 11 years there and left in 2020:” Tweet—”Not surprising. Meta handles problems through PR tactics rather than focusing on studying and fixing the broken parts that cause real world harm and undermine societies and communities. Time to regulate. Facebook paid GOP firm to malign TikTok.”
  • Facebook drives sceptics towards climate denial“—”Facebook has repeatedly said it wants to combat climate disinformation on its platform – but our investigation shows how worryingly easy it is for its users to be led down a dangerous path that flies in the face of both science & reality.”
  • Virtual Influencers: The Next Generation of Information Warfare?“—”Enter the ‘virtual influencers’ – computer-generated, deep-fake avatars that behave in the same way as human social media personalities, online brand ambassadors, or content creators, aside from the fact they are wholly fictitious creations.”
  • Niantic makes another acquisition, absorbing AR studio NZXR“—”Just a month after its last acquisition of the WebAR development platform 8th Wall, Niantic announced its purchase of New Zealand-based augmented reality studio NZXR today. These strategic acquisitions are part of Niantic’s overarching plan to build what it calls a ‘real-world metaverse,’ which is dependent on AR rather than VR.”
  • Meet Spot, the Dog-Like Robot Roaming the Ruins of Pompeii. The bot, built by Boston Dynamics, can navigate difficult terrains that humans can’t access safely.” Also “Pompeii to Be Patrolled by Robot Dog. Four-legged robot will crawl into small passages and corners to inspect them for damage.” Also watch—”A Robot Dog Now Guards the Ancient Streets of Pompeii.” Also tweet—”canis automatus urbem antiquam iam custodit.”
  • Great Scott! DeLorean sets a date for its electric resurrection (again). An electric concept car will be revealed later this year.”
  • Is Streaming Just Becoming Cable Again? Julia Alexander Thinks So. Plus, Disney’s battle of the Bobs.”
  • Shaun Keaveny’s journey from the BBC to DIY radio: ‘It’s been a huge liberation’. Once a leading light at the BBC with his much-loved 6 Music show, Shaun Keaveny is now presenting from a cramped studio to a much smaller audience. But he wouldn’t have it any other way…”
  • More fallout from Google starting to enforce the payment system rules post-Epic: “Barnes & Noble Removes Purchases From Nook for Android. As well as the Lenovo-made Nook tablet.”
  • Virtual reality can induce mild and transient symptoms of depersonalization and derealization, study finds“—”New research sheds light on how virtual reality (VR) can influence a person’s sense of reality. The findings have been published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. There have been some preliminary indications that the use of VR technology can induce feelings of alienation towards one’s own self and a feeling of detachment from reality — phenomena known as depersonalization and derealization, respectively. To provide a clearer understanding of VR’s true effects, the authors of the new study conducted a longitudinal randomized control trial. ‘Since VR is a technology that can strongly influence people’s experience of reality, at least during VR exposure, we wondered whether VR might also affect their experience of reality towards the ‘real world’ after VR exposure,’ explained study author Niclas Braun, the head of the Virtual Reality Therapy and Medical Technology research group at the University of Bonn.”
  • Instagram Does Not Care About Witches & Pagans“—”They know better and still don’t care. What can be done? Mark Zuckerberg has proven time and time again he doesn’t give two shits about protecting his users or making any meaningful changes in his products. And I’d love to tell you that we should all boycott services like Instagram, but for many authors social media has become THE way to promote books and events. (I signed up to write books, not make Reels for Instagram and TikTok videos, but that’s part of the deal now.) Hopefully complaining and complaining loudly might have some affect, but I’m not holding my breath.”
  • Tweet—”some takeaways: -if you submit your fanart and don’t win, blizzard can do whatever they want with your submission for eternity and have no obligation to pay you -there’s no profit sharing XD -blizzard made $1.8 billion in 2021, maybe they should pay winners more than $500.”
  • Google looks to be building Bluetooth tracker detection directly into Android“—”Given people’s concerns, it would be a good idea for the industry to come together on an interoperable solution.”
  • Jack Dorsey regrets his role in creating a centralized internet. Mistakes were made.” And now an oligarch comes marching in … and buys both the largest shareholder stake in Twitter and a place on the board.
  • I have long Covid and despair that the UK government ignores its blight. I’m 23 and have been seriously ill for a year. Why don’t we spend more on treating this debilitating disease?”
  • Tweet—”‘Wolf!’, cried the shepherd boy. ‘That’s no wolf,’ said the townspeople. ‘Go away. We have commerce to do.’ The wolf ate and ate. ‘Wolf!’, cried the boy. The townspeople looked at the bloody carcasses in the pasture. ‘Those sheep died, but not necessarily from the wolf.'”
  • A New Wave of Covid-19 Is Coming. Here’s How to Prepare. Taking these seven steps now can lower your risk and minimize the disruption to your family’s life.”—”Pay attention to Covid indicators in your community … Have high-quality masks on hand … Order home Covid tests sooner rather than later … Get a booster (when you’re eligible) … Get a pulse oximeter … Make a plan for antiviral drug treatment … Have backup plans for social events and travel …
  • Masks, Mark Twain, and Madness“—”I like to think of rabbit holes as explorations without a question in pursuit of information that isn’t an answer. This is how I maintain the guardrails of delightful inquiry. With this in mind, I want to share a story about a fascinating and bizarre rabbit hole I recently fell down.”
  • Justice for All. Grandpa Pickleball, Alvin Bragg, Donald Trump, Kalief Browder, and a personal story.”
  • Guard at Jewish School Secretly Wanted to Open Fire on Students, Cops Say. Thomas Develin allegedly posted a photo of himself on Discord holding a firearm while working at Columbus Torah Academy.”
  • Arizona GOP candidate revels in outrage after releasing vile ad depicting political violence“—”A GOP Senate candidate who was among the 11 Arizona Republicans who signed a forged electors document has released a violent campaign ad where he shoots at actors representing President Joe Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Sen. Mark Kelly, whose wife—former Rep. Gabby Giffords—survived a brutal assassination attempt in 2011.”
  • Watch “Lawrence: McConnell Knows Evidence Against Justice Thomas Is ‘Damning’.” Also “Inside Ginni Thomas’ ‘Insane’ Hiring Memos for Trump. Ginni Thomas’ suggested hires included known bigots and at least one suspected foreign spy, sources say.”—”We all knew that within minutes after Ginni left her meeting with the president, he would start yelling about firing people for being disloyal… When Ginni Thomas showed up, you knew your day was wrecked.” Also “Inside the consulting firm run by Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, runs a little-known consulting company. Some campaign watchdog groups say it could create yet another conflict of interest for her husband. ‘It’s very problematic,’ Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, told CNBC in a recent phone interview in response to Thomas’ private consulting work.” Also thread—”I knew Ginni Thomas. Ginni Thomas was in a cult (the large group awareness training cult, Lifespring). Here she is in 1989 speaking at an event I hosted for former members. Until today, almost NO one has seen this video.” “Sadly, the people who helped deprogram Ginni were also apparently involved in right-wing causes. As is the case with SO many former members, she was overly susceptible and went from one cult to another (The Cult of Trump).” Also, from 1991: “The Nominees’s Soul Mate.”
  • Tweet—”People are talking about ‘key bumps,’ and so we have a duty to tell you some things about this.” Tweet—”omfg. You’ve lost control of the scandal when the dictionary is tweeting about it.”
  • Five fetuses found at home of anti-abortion activist, DC Police say. Lauren Handy and eight others were indicted this week on felony charges stemming from the 2020 invasion of an abortion clinic.” Tweet—”Now now, let’s be fair to Lauren Handy. By her own argument those are CHILDREN; police found five DEAD CHILDREN in Lauren Handy’s coolers.” Tweet—”Reading more about the fetus hoarder and apparently they’re a nonbinary catholic anarchist militant anti-abortion activist. All I can say is: you people aren’t trying hard enough on here. This is bespoke ideology at levels I haven’t seen in years.”
  • How the far-right is turning feminists into fascists. ANALYSIS: The terrifying confluence of anti-trans thinkers, American evangelicals, anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists and global purveyors of dark money poses a much bigger threat than you might realize.”—”It’s a grim irony that, by insisting on a ‘feminism’ without any trans women in it, TERFs have wound up constructing the tool by which fascists aim to destroy feminism altogether.” Also tweet—”Doyle’s conclusion is sobering–and in line with what I and other trans people have been saying in various ways–but still it’s chilling to see it all laid out like this. Transphobia is merely a scalpel being used to sever people from their empathy for *all* kinds of groups.”
  • Tweet—”VICTORY! The Biden-Harris Administration (@WhiteHouse) announced it is implementing policy changes that we’ve been advocating for since NCTE was founded. Here are changes trans people will see to passports, TSA, social security, and more:” “FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Advances Equality and Visibility for Transgender Americans.”
  • Thread—”Happy #TransDayOfVisibility to the first transwoman mentioned by name in the Bible: Eve. Made from Adam (who was presumably XY), God took that XY rib & performed a miraculous act of SRS, making Eve into a woman. That is, if you interpret the Bible story literally. 🏳️‍⚧️”
  • The Growing Overlap Between The Far-Right And Environmentalism“—”Researchers say the intersection between far-right movements and environmentalism is bigger than many people realize — and it’s growing. Blair Taylor, researcher at the Institute for Social Ecology, explains. Alex Amend, who researches eco-fascism, says climate change will only fuel the link between the far-right and environmentalism. Dorceta Taylor of Yale University traces the rise of the American conversation movement, which was partly motivated by a backlash against the racial mixing of American cities. Hop Hopkins of the Sierra Club opens up about racism in the organization’s past.”
  • Tweet—”Many of us really believe this is a fringe movement. It is not. Those faces and raised hands and bowed heads are Americans all over the country determined to keep the country white. It is not just politics. It is religion. The religion of white supremacy.”
  • The Russian Patriarch Just Gave His Most Dangerous Speech Yet — and Almost No One in The West Has Noticed.” Also “Patriarch urges soldiers to defend ‘peace-loving’ Russia amid Ukraine campaign.”
  • Thread—”The infamous ‘ideologist of the Russian World’ Aleksandr Dugin has given a long interview to the Russian tabloid MK. If anyone in Russia has given up on capturing Kyiv, it is definitely not Dugin. A 🧵, if you can stomach it.”
  • Ukraine: Apparent War Crimes in Russia-Controlled Areas. Summary Executions, Other Grave Abuses by Russian Forces.” Also “Bodies of mutilated children among horrors the Russians left behind.” Also thread—”Photos of murdered civilians in Irpin and Bucha by Russian troops recall the mass killings by Soviet and Nazi regimes. This is not a battlefield, it’s a crime scene. Mass killings of Ukrainian civilians by #Russia are clear war crimes. 1/3.” Also “Ex-UN prosecutor urges global arrest warrant for Putin.” Also tweet—”No judgements, only evidence. Post office in Mozyr, Belarus. 3 hours of security camera footage. An endless queue of russian soldiers who have just returned from Kyiv region and are sending home what they’ve looted in Ukraine.”
  • Thread—”One month before Russia invaded Ukraine, I stood trial at the High Court. And now I wait, in purgatory, to be judged. But I believe this trial and the silence around it – & all the Kremlin’s men – has revealed something profoundly rotten at the heart of the British state. 1/”
  • Russia – Ukraine war: Storylines that will determine the course of events.”
  • Russia invaded Ukraine. Then Spotify users bombarded the music scene with violent, pro-war messages.”
  • Why Putin’s Russia is Becoming This Era’s Nazi Germany. How Putin’s Russia Went From Failed State to Fascist State.”
  • Putin misled by advisers on Ukraine, US intel determines.” Tweet—”Even in spaceflight, Russians are taught to not accept responsibility for their actions but to come up with excuses and to blame others for their mistakes. I called it, ‘Blamesmithing,’ and write about it in my books. It is pervasive in Russian society.” Pretty much the same as any corporate earnings report.
  • US investment firms prop up ad revenue for Russian propaganda sites“—”A big part of online disinformation and online propaganda is that it’s quite profitable financially…And so cutting off that revenue stream, I think, is very important.”
  • How to Defeat Putin and Save the Planet. The technology is here. We can now put Putin over a barrel. It is just a matter of leadership and national will.”—”As long as we’re addicted to oil, we are always going to be begging someone, usually a bad guy, to move the price up or down, because we alone are not masters of our own fate. This has got to stop.”
  • As Russia Plots Its Next Move, an AI Listens to the Chatter. With vast amounts of data becoming available to intelligence analysts, new tools will help them sift and interpret it all—but they will introduce new risks, too.”
  • Seven Worst-Case Scenarios From the War in Ukraine. Most conflicts end quickly, but this one looks increasingly like it won’t. The repercussions could range from global stagflation to World War III.”—”Even now, after five weeks of war notable for the heroic success of the Ukrainian defenders against the Russian invaders, I still cannot quite rid myself of the uneasy feeling that this is merely the opening act of a much larger tragedy.”
  • Tweet—”Read this story till the end. During WWII some children were making diaries from concentration camps & occupied cities by nazis. History is repeating. This is a diary of Katya, a 16 years old girl from Mariupol, whose mother died in the basement👇😢”
  • A Tradition of Violence 
The History of Deputy Gangs in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. A 15-part investigative series by Cerise Castle.”
  • L.A. County’s sheriff has a strange obsession with how much media coverage Black people get. Sitting down with Times columnist Gustavo Arellano, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva taps into a toxic vein of resentment politics.”
  • The New Law Enforcement Spending Spree Is Already Underway“—”Some have claimed this new spending is a necessary response to the defund movement—which, again, did not actually defund the police. If this is the justification, police apparently deserve more money just because people dared to suggest they should get less.”
  • Tweet—”A majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana. I voted in support of the MORE Act because no one should be behind bars for minor possession charges. It’s beyond time to decriminalize marijuana.” Also “U.S. House Of Representatives Passes Federal Cannabis Legalization Bill MORE Act.” Tweet—”202 republicans just voted against legalizing marijuana. It’s a good thing they are not getting into heaven because I am the Most High God.”
  • House Democrats vote to make insulin affordable for people with insurance, 193 Republicans oppose it.”—”The Affordable Insulin Now Act passed in the House Thursday, 232-193. One-hundred-and-ninety-three Republicans are opposed to the more than 30 million Americans with diabetes being able to afford the drug that their lives depend upon. Just 12 House Republicans thought that was a good idea.”
  • Texas student compared to Soviet communist for not saying pledge wins $90K, group says.”
  • Texas superintendent tells librarians to pull books on sexuality, transgender people. The Granbury superintendent’s comments, made on a leaked recording, raise constitutional concerns, legal experts said.”
  • She Took the White House Photos. Trump Moved to Take the Profit. The former chief White House photographer made plans to publish a book of Trump photos. The former president had other plans.”—”The former chief White House photographer made plans to publish a book of Trump photos. The former president asked her for a cut of her book advance payment and asked her to wait until he published his own book, former associates said.”
  • The Real Yacht Rock: Inside the Lavish, Top-Secret World of Private Gigs. One-percenters worldwide are hiring everyone from Beyoncé to Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath to play their homes, parties, or weddings. Experts say the trend is just getting started.”
  • What a Surge in Union Organizing Means for Food and Farm Workers. Amid historic protests, walkouts, and union votes, the pandemic put the impacts of income inequality on stark display—and galvanized a movement.”
  • Thread—”A year ago, a non-academic friend listened to a talk I gave. I thought it went great. My friend disagreed. She said that academics are experts at making interesting stuff boring—and that we should all take a speech class. So I did. And here are 6 most useful things I learned.” “1. Practice speaking in your natural voice.” “2. Break up your talk.” “3. Don’t cram in material.” “4. Research the setting.” “5. End early.” “6. Prepare two conclusion statements.”
  • Pope apologises to indigenous Canadians for wrongs at residential schools.” Tweet—”Pope Francis’ apology for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in operating residential schools in Canada would not have happened without the advocacy of Survivors. To those who shared their truths, and relived their painful memories with bravery and determination: Thank you.”
  • After 350 years, the Rappahannock Tribe Gets Land Back“—”We have worked for many years to restore this sacred place to the Tribe. With eagles being prayer messengers, this area where they gather has always been a place of natural, cultural and spiritual importance.”
  • California task force: Reparations for direct descendants of enslaved people only. California’s first-in-the-nation task force to identify reparations for African Americans voted Tuesday to limit eligibility to those who can trace their lineage.” Tweet—”Y’all. A major component of chattel slavery was the tacit, implicit, and direct erasure of records of people’s lineages.” See “Lost Lineage: The quest to identify black Americans’ roots. For black Americans, “Where did I come from?” is a uniquely difficult question to answer. Some are trying to change that.”—”Genealogists refer to this as ‘the brick wall,’ an obstruction in African American lineage that dates to 1870 when the federal Census began recording African descendants — 250 years after they were first hauled in chains to what would become..”
  • AMC Networks’ Female-Led ‘Killing Eve’ Premieres Final Season“—”I think people have really enjoyed seeing female characters act without shame, and without boundaries, and doing the things that make them feel good”
  • Thousands of employees are testing a 4-day workweek starting today: ‘It’s inevitable we’ll see bigger companies doing this’“—”Thousands of workers across the U.S. are enjoying their first Friday off for the next six months in an experiment to test a four-day workweek. It’s part of a worldwide effort launched by 4 Day Week Global, a nonprofit associated with the University of Oxford that helps companies execute and measure the impact of a four-day workweek. This year, 38 companies in the U.S. and Canada are taking part in the program, with most running from April 1 through September. Participants and observers around the world hope that if this six-month experiment works out, a four-day workweek could become a reality for a lot more people.”
  • Film Of Prince At Age 11 Discovered In Archival Footage Of 1970 Minneapolis Teachers Strike“—”Deep in the WCCO film archives are hundreds, if not thousands of opportunities to travel back in time. And on one reel a treasure lay hidden, untouched, for 52 years. The date was April 1970. Minneapolis Public Schools educators went on strike.”
  • Tweet—”because it’s the weekend, and I clearly have too much time on my hands. I present Battle of the Brontës, the rpg about dismal weather and incredibly talented sisters.”
  • Unfinished Business. Announcing a New Expansion for Star Wars: Outer Rim.”—”Fantasy Flight Games is proud to announce Unfinished Business, the long-awaited expansion for Star Wars™: Outer Rim! This expansion comes packed with new content for this terrific game, more than doubling the number of cards in the game and featuring more of everything that made the base game so special, as well as some exciting new features for you to enjoy. With more encounters to confront, more things to do, and more characters to meet (and play as), this expansion is an absolute must-have for any fan of Outer Rim.”
  • On Netflix: “Thermae Romae Novae. A proud bath architect in ancient Rome starts randomly surfacing in present-day Japan, where he’s inspired by the many bathing innovations he finds.”
  • Goodbye E3, the Trade Show That Changed My Life. How a plucky 14-year-old nerd convinced his parents to meet a bunch of online strangers in Atlanta—and it changed everything.”
  • The world’s oldest dessert?. Although chickpeas and beans don’t usually belong in a pudding, they are core ingredients in one of the oldest – and, some say, one of the most delicious – desserts in the world.”

Omnium Gatherum: 30mar2022

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for March 30, 2022.

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

  • Tweet—”uh oh, evangelicals have NFT’d prayer.” Tweet—”Time to reanimate Martin Luther. Fetch my alchemy supplies and a sturdy shovel.”
  • Past, Present, Future: Don’t Get Stuck in a Single Time Dimension. How flexibility in time orientation leads to a better life. Only the experienced present exists, but we have access to the past through memory and we have expectations for the future. The switching among time dimensions is essential for individual adaptation to changing situational demands. The balanced time perspective is an individual’s ability to flexibly focus on different time orientations. Temporal metacognition is the ability to consciously self-regulate the focus on the past, present, or future.”
  • Tales of the Narts: Ancient Myths and Legends of the Ossetians [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] eds John Colarusso and Tamirlan Salbiev (Editor), trans Walter May—”An exciting collection of mythology about heroes, heroines, villains, and monsters in the intriguing world of the nomad warriors of the Caucasus. The Nart sagas are to the Caucasus what Greek mythology is to Western civilization. Tales of the Narts expands the canon of this precious body of lore by presenting a wide selection of fascinating tales that are part of a living tradition among the peoples of Ossetia in southern Russia. A mythical tribe of nomad warriors, the Narts are courageous, bold, and good-hearted, but also capable of envy, cruelty, and violence. In this wonderfully vivid and accessible collection, colorful and exciting heroes, heroines, villains, and monsters pursue their destinies though a series of exploits, often with the intervention of ancient gods.”
  • Thread—”I’ve got a book coming out soon, on the pesticide DDT & the history of science denial from 1950s chemical and tobacco campaigns to the January 6 Capitol riot.” “I wanted to build an argument against the cover, so I tracked down the photo in its original context. Here it is.” About How to Sell a Poison: The Rise, Fall, and Toxic Return of DDT [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Elena Conis, due April 2022—”The story of an infamous poison that left toxic bodies and decimated wildlife in its wake is also a cautionary tale about how corporations stoke the flames of science denialism for profit. The chemical compound DDT first earned fame during World War II by wiping out insects that caused disease and boosting Allied forces to victory. Americans granted it a hero’s homecoming, spraying it on everything from crops and livestock to cupboards and curtains. Then, in 1972, it was banned in the US. But decades after that, a cry arose to demand its return. This is the sweeping narrative of generations of Americans who struggled to make sense of the notorious chemical’s risks and benefits. Historian Elena Conis follows DDT from postwar farms, factories, and suburban enclaves to the floors of Congress and tony social clubs, where industry barons met with Madison Avenue brain trusts to figure out how to sell the idea that a little poison in our food and bodies was nothing to worry about. In an age of spreading misinformation on issues including pesticides, vaccines, and climate change, Conis shows that we need new ways of communicating about science—as a constantly evolving discipline, not an immutable collection of facts—before it’s too late.”
  • A new civil war? Maybe so — but it won’t look anything like the first one. Scholar Barbara Walter foresees 9/11-style attacks, and a sustained insurgency, rather than straight-up warfare.” About How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Barbara F Walter—”A leading political scientist examines the dramatic rise in violent extremism around the globe and sounds the alarm on the increasing likelihood of a second civil war in the United States. Political violence rips apart several towns in southwest Texas. A far-right militia plots to kidnap the governor of Michigan and try her for treason. An armed mob of Trump supporters and conspiracy theorists storms the U.S. Capitol. Are these isolated incidents? Or is this the start of something bigger? Barbara F. Walter has spent her career studying civil conflict in places like Iraq, Ukraine, and Sri Lanka, but now she has become increasingly worried about her own country. Perhaps surprisingly, both autocracies and healthy democracies are largely immune from civil war; it’s the countries in the middle ground that are most vulnerable. And this is where more and more countries, including the United States, are finding themselves today. Over the last two decades, the number of active civil wars around the world has almost doubled. Walter reveals the warning signs—where wars tend to start, who initiates them, what triggers them—and why some countries tip over into conflict while others remain stable. Drawing on the latest international research and lessons from over twenty countries, Walter identifies the crucial risk factors, from democratic backsliding to factionalization and the politics of resentment. A civil war today won’t look like America in the 1860s, Russia in the 1920s, or Spain in the 1930s. It will begin with sporadic acts of violence and terror, accelerated by social media. It will sneak up on us and leave us wondering how we could have been so blind. In this urgent and insightful book, Walter redefines civil war for a new age, providing the framework we need to confront the danger we now face—and the knowledge to stop it before it’s too late.”
  • Tweet—”It’s my absolute honor to write the Chicana behind the red bandana based on the existing canon AND taking her legacy to new places. Are you ready for Vásquez?” Also “Aliens: Vasquez to reveal backstory of beloved Alien franchise character. Author V. Castro’s book will chronicle the background of the Xenomorph-battling space marine.” About Aliens: Vasquez [Amazon, Publisher, Local Library] by Violet Castro, due October 2022—”A groundbreaking Latinx Aliens novel by a rising star Latina author, featuring the fan-favorite character PFC Jenette Vasquez from the hit movie Aliens and the family she is forced to leave behind. For the very first time, the canonical background of the breakout Aliens hero Jenette Vasquez, as well as the story of the children she was forced to leave behind as written by the rising Latina horror star V. Castro (Queen of the Cicadas). Even before the doomed mission to Hadley’s Hope on LV-426, Jenette Vasquez had to fight to survive. Born to an immigrant family with a long military tradition, she looked up to the stars, but life pulled her back down to Earth—first into a street gang, then prison. The Colonial Marines proved to be Vasquez’s way out—a way that forced her to give up her twin children. Raised by Jenette’s sister, those children, Leticia and Ramon, had to discover their own ways to survive. Leticia by following her mother’s path into the military, Ramon into the corporate hierarchy of Weyland-Yutani. Their paths would converge on an unnamed planet which some see as a potential utopia, while others would use it for highly secretive research. Regardless of whatever humans might have planned for it, however, Xenomorphs will turn it into a living hell.”
  • Octavia E. Butler’s ‘Parable Of The Sower’ Is HuffPost Readable’s April Book Pick. This dystopian novel tells of a world that has been destroyed by climate change and the will of one young girl to rebuild a new one in its place.” About Parable of the Sower [Amazon] by Octavia E. Butler, book 1 of the Parable series—”Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others. When fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is fraught with danger. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.”
  • Editorial Resignations At Big Houses Spark Reckoning“—”Multiple resignations from the editorial departments at two big houses caused an online reckoning on Friday. Four editors, Angeline Rodriguez and Hillary Sames at Orbit, Erin Siu at Macmillan Children’s, and Molly McGhee at Tor all announced their resignations, leading to a discussion about the workload of junior and mid-level employees and the difficulty of advancement across the industry. The online exchange brought into the open the frustrations of increased workload, burnout and turnover that have been brewing as the pandemic continues. Those feelings are intensified as big publishers report record sales and earnings, even as multiple people report on Twitter they believe their employers are not sufficiently reinvesting those proceeds in additional staff, systems and raises. At the heart of the discussion was McGhee’s resignation letter which she posted on Twitter. McGhee, who was an assistant editor at Tor/Nightfire, writes that after ten years in assisting roles, she requested a promotion when her first acquisition debuted at No. 3 on the New York Times Best Sellers list. She says in her letter that she was told she needed ‘more training’ before being promoted and she could not expect to be relieved of administration duties ‘any time within the next five years.'”
  • Record ‘bomb cyclone’ bringing exceptional warmth to North Pole. Temperatures at the North Pole could approach the melting point as they surge nearly 50 degrees above normal.” Tweet—”Still pitchdark at the North Pole, but the temperature is, um, 50 degrees F above normal.” Tweet—”jesus i’ve never seen a climate graph like this one”
  • Even worms make complex decisions. Salk scientists studied complex decision-making capabilities in a worm with just 302 neurons and a mouth full of teeth. It’s smarter than you would think.”
  • Some Chicago birds are nesting nearly a month earlier than they did more than a century ago, Field study shows.”
  • Human trials to begin on new male birth control pill with 99% efficacy, study shows. Researchers found a male birth control pill was 99 per cent effective in preventing pregnancy and dramatically reduced sperm counts without any observable side effects, in early testing on male mice.”
  • Lapsus$: Oxford teen accused of being multi-millionaire cyber-criminal“—”The teenager has been outed by rival hackers after a dispute. But, as reported by Bloomberg, researchers have been tracking him for nearly a year. His dad told me: ‘he is very good on computers and spends a lot of time on the them. I always thought he was playing games.'” Tweet—”City of London police told my colleague @radioproducer : ‘7 people between the ages of 16 and 21 have been arrested in connection with an investigation into the hacking group. They have all been released under investigation. Our inquiries remain ongoing.'” Tweet—”SCOOP: A 16 year old living in his mother’s house in Oxford, England is suspected to be the mastermind behind many of the hacks conducted by hacking group Lapsus$, per multiple sources involved in various investigations of the hacking group. Full story to follow.” “Laspus$ has claimed responsibility for hacking Nvidia, Microsoft, Okta, Vodaphone, and Samsung. Much more details online shortly.”
  • From 2021: “Hundreds of AI tools have been built to catch covid. None of them helped. Some have been used in hospitals, despite not being properly tested. But the pandemic could help make medical AI better.”—”Many unwittingly used a data set that contained chest scans of children who did not have covid as their examples of what non-covid cases looked like. But as a result, the AIs learned to identify kids, not covid.” “Because patients scanned while lying down were more likely to be seriously ill, the AI learned wrongly to predict serious covid risk from a person’s position.” “some AIs were found to be picking up on the text font that certain hospitals used to label the scans. As a result, fonts from hospitals with more serious caseloads became predictors of covid risk.” Also from 2017: “Why Doctors Aren’t Afraid of Better, More Efficient AI Diagnosing Cancer. Just like humans, AI isn’t perfect.”—”When dermatologists are looking at a lesion that they think might be a tumor, they’ll break out a ruler—the type you might have used in grade school—to take an accurate measurement of its size. Dermatologists tend to do this only for lesions that are a cause for concern. So in the set of biopsy images, if an image had a ruler in it, the algorithm was more likely to call a tumor malignant, because the presence of a ruler correlated with an increased likelihood a lesion was cancerous. Unfortunately, as Novoa emphasizes, the algorithm doesn’t know why that correlation makes sense, so it could easily misinterpret a random ruler sighting as grounds to diagnose cancer.”
  • Christ, what an asshole: Tweet—”Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” Also Twitter search. Also “Elon Musk ruthlessly cleaned house of any Tesla workers who disagreed or got in his way, a new book says.” Also “Tesla fired an employee after he posted driverless tech reviews on YouTube. John Bernal was a Tesla employee who showed FSD Beta to the world on his YouTube channel, AI Addict. He was fired in February. He says he never showed unreleased products or company secrets, but some of his videos showed the system not working perfectly. His access to FSD Beta has been cut off despite having no safety ‘strikes’ in the software.”
  • Meta hires former Trump White House aide, Issue One hires Lott.”
  • Seattle Pride drops Amazon as a sponsor of city’s LGBTQ parade. The e-commerce giant wanted the annual march to be renamed ‘Seattle Pride Parade Presented by Amazon,’ according to the nonprofit group’s executive director.”
  • From 2021: “What Is Necropolitics? The Political Calculation of Life and Death. This op-ed explains the framework of ‘necropolitics’ and how it’s relevant in the modern United States.”
  • Putin May Be Accused Of War Crimes In Ukraine, But Trump’s Still Asking For His Help. Six years after calling on Putin for aid against Hillary Clinton, Trump is now asking for the murderous dictator’s help finding dirt on Joe Biden.”
  • The sound of the world’s most overpriced and gaudy violin playing I Feel For You: “‘Will I be allowed a cleaner, or a driver?’ Life after sanctions for a Russian oligarch. Petr Aven says his business has been destroyed after the UK acted over his alleged links to the Kremlin.”
  • IRS unit gets no funding to enforce sanctions against Russian oligarchs. $30 million sought by White House for IRS enforcement was rejected by Republicans.”
  • US warns wealthy Russians against shifting assets to evade sanctions. Senior Treasury official highlights increasing efforts to conceal and transfer money in wake of Ukraine invasion.”—”‘We’re seeing the transfer of wealth to new associates and the creation of shell companies. We’re watching these moves,’ the official said, adding that Russian banks and companies were adopting techniques oligarchs used for years to cover their tracks.”
  • Venture capital fund backed by Russian oligarch Abramovich removes all traces of operations online.”
  • Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian Peace Negotiators Suffer Suspected Poisoning. The Russian oligarch developed symptoms that people familiar with the matter blamed on hard-liners in Moscow who they say want to sabotage peace talks.”
  • Losing Wars and Saving Face“—”The futility of Russia’s war against Ukraine is matched only by its brutality. The longer it goes on the greater the potential humiliation of Putin and his army, but also the greater the suffering of the Ukrainian people. Both sides have incentives to conclude this war. Channels of communication between the two have been open since early in the war. A number of would-be mediators have tried to identify the basis for a cease-fire. Occasionally there have been hints that progress is being made, and disclosures about possible terms, but no agreed text. Meanwhile with each passing day, the stakes for the belligerents are going up, along with the levels of distrust.”
  • The Stalinisation of Russia. As it sinks in that he cannot win in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin is resorting to repression at home.”
  • Tweet—”(THREAD) In Ukraine, Russian occupiers deliberately destroy libraries, hunting down textbooks, books on history of Ukraine and on Ukrainian national resistance. This is a continuation of a 300 years long genocide. Let me illustrate it in this thread.”
  • ‘Very upset’ Putin is failing at one objective after another: retired general.” Tweet—”The objectives of Putin were fairly straightforward from the beginning: Subjugate Ukraine, Divide NATO, further divide the US, grow his economy through blackmail. He’s failed at each of them, because he can’t match strategy with tactics.”
  • Not only Shoigu disappeared from the public space, but also other key security officials – Zolotov, Bortnikov and Kostyukov.”
  • Thread—”Alright folks, this is a logistical 🧵 on pallets, cranes, ISO containers, and what we are _NOT_ seeing on Russian Trucks in Ukraine. Below is really good background tweet 🧵 on the importance of pallets as a logistical productivity tool, since we are not seeing them in Ukraine 1/” Tweet—”Amateurs study tactics, professionals study …”
  • Big Tech needs to pull the plug on Russia’s biggest propaganda campaign.”—”There is a violent conspiracy spreading like wildfire across social media. It revolves around a single letter. And it has captured the imaginations of millions who are devoted to promoting it. Although its central ideas are preposterous, its followers support violence to make fantasy become reality.”
  • RT America, You Were Very Weird and Bad. The Russia-funded news network staffed by American journalists shut down this month. What was it even trying to do?”
  • Covering The War in Ukraine: ‘The Putin Regime Doesn’t Want Eye Witnesses’. Prior to the invasion, few Ukrainian journalists had experience working in conflict zones. Now the war has come to their homes.” Also “A ‘fixer’ was killed in Ukraine. She was doing one of journalism’s most thankless jobs. The extremely dangerous job of helping big-name reporters navigate a war zone.”
  • Ukrainian Sailor Who Told Russian Warship To Go F**k Itself Given Hero’s Welcome. Roman Hrybov’s instantly iconic retort has inspired countless anti-war protest signs around the world.”
  • The war in Ukraine will determine how China sees the world. And how threatening it becomes.”
  • Russian soldiers release Ukraine town’s mayor and agree to leave after protests. Russian forces agreed to leave town of Slavutych if those with arms handed them over to the mayor.”
  • This Ukrainian hacker is spreading chaos in Russia. On the digital frontline, cyberwarfare gets squeezed in between work and yoga.”
  • What Ukraine Can Learn From Finland’s Stand 80 Years Ago. The Winter War between the Finns and the Soviet Union has important parallels with the current conflict.”
  • Slava Ukraini: Assessing the Ukrainian Will to Fight. ‘Success is not final, and failure is not fatal – it is the courage to continue that counts’. In the first month of this war, the Ukrainian will to fight has lived up to the sentiment in these words attributed to Winston Churchill. It has been decisive, with leadership and morale being the central performance differentiator between the two sides. It has echoed beyond the borders of Ukraine, giving European leaders an example to follow and a reason to stiffen their resolve.”—”One of the major risks for Ukraine is that President Zelensky becomes a single point of failure for the Ukrainian resistance, where his death or capture becomes fatal for the overall Ukrainian effort.” Thread—”Zelensky has proven himself as a great war leader. But to believe that Ukraine’s fate rests only on Zelensky is to misunderstand Ukrainian society entirely. Ukraine is fighting as an organism, not as a top down organisation, and it would continue the fight even without a leader.” “One of the reasons for Ukraine’s success, in my opinion, is that individual initiatives are taken. Small Ukrainian military units are encouraged to take initiatives and adapt to the unfolding situation on the battlefield and are thus likely to make fewer mistakes.” Tweet—”Indeed, it’s the Four Block War in action. Decentralized, horizontal, and coming for us all.”
  • Tweet—”hey guys, these tanks you see underwater or in deep mud aren’t destroyed nor abandoned. because russian tanks can’t sweat it’s perfectly normal for them to spend as much as 16 hours a day submerged in water or in mud wallows. please be careful of spreading misinfo.” Tweet—”When Russian tanks sense Ukrainian tractors are nearby they flip upside down and play dead so they won’t get towed away to a farm.” Tweet—”Not funny or cute. Russian tanks only do this when they’re extremely stressed.” Tweet—”Every 17 years a brood of T72s emerges from beneath the soil of Eastern Ukraine. As individuals they are easy pickings for their natural predator, the ATGM, but with the power of numbers they hope that a few might survive to breed the next generation.”
  • Tweet—”Writing prompt: I am the very model of a Russian Major General.” Thread—”I am the very model of a Russian Major General / My standing in the battlefield is growing quite untenable / My forces, though equipped and given orders unequivocal / Did not expect the fight to be remotely this reciprocal. I used to have a tank brigade but now I have lost several / My fresh assaults are faltering with battleplans extemporal / I can’t recover vehicles but farmers in a tractor can / It’s all becoming rather reminiscent of Afghanistan. My ordnance is the best but only half my missiles make it there / I would have thought by now that we would be controllers of the air / But at the rate the snipers work my time here is ephemeral / I am the very model of a Russian Major General.”
  • Vladimir Putin Defends JK Rowling & Claims West Is ‘Trying To Cancel’ Russia; ‘Harry Potter’ Author Responds – Update.Tweet—”We’re living in an Onion article.” Tweet—”We’re living in a fucking simulation.” Tweet—”Hitler tries to form super-villain team with Enid Blyton.” Tweet—”Congrats to the terfs, the ‘both-sides’ podcasters, and the anti-woke mob on their newly self-appointed leader.” Tweet—”how can he defend JK Rowling when the siberian railroad is trans.” Tweet—”Live your life in such a way that a murderous dictator does not find you praiseworthy.” Tweet-“Vladimir Putin defending JK Rowling is like that moment in your D&D game when you realize all of the bad guys have actually been working together from the beginning.”
  • Order Re Privilege of Documents Dated January 4-7, 2021 PDF—”If Dr. Eastman and President Trump’s plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution. If the country does not commit to investigating and pursuing accountability for those responsible, the Court fears January 6 will repeat itself.” Also “Trump Is Guilty of ‘Numerous’ Felonies, Prosecutor Who Resigned Says. Mark F. Pomerantz, who had investigated the former president, left after the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, halted an effort to seek an indictment.” Also “Federal Judge Says Trump Likely Committed Felonies. ‘The Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6′” Also Inside Ted Cruz’s last-ditch battle to keep Trump in power. As Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) went to extraordinary lengths to court Trump’s base and lay the groundwork for his own potential 2024 presidential bid, he also alienated close allies and longtime friends who accused him of abandoning his principles.”—”I think that Senator Cruz knew exactly what he was doing. I think that Senator Cruz is somebody who knows what the Constitution calls for, knows what his duties and obligations are, and was willing, frankly, to set that aside.” Also Jan. 6 White House logs given to House show 7-hour gap in Trump calls. The House select committee is now investigating whether it has the full record and whether Trump communicated that day through backchannels, phones of aides or personal disposable phones, according to people familiar with the probe.”
  • Ginni Thomas, Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, exchanged texts with Mark Meadows about efforts to overturn the 2020 election.” Also “‘Morning Joe’ shock over Ginni Thomas points to a hidden Jan. 6 truth. Texts between Mark Meadows and Clarence Thomas’s spouse have a deep and ugly pedigree.” Also “Is Ginni Thomas a Threat to the Supreme Court? Behind closed doors, Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife is working with many groups directly involved in controversial cases before the Court.” Tweet—”So, @thenewyorker reported, instead of recusing, Clarence Thomas was the only vote to block the Jan6 committee from getting Trump’s papers. Mark Meadows filed a supporting brief. And Ginni’s texts to Meadows were at stake.” Tweet—”What does Clarence Thomas know? And when did he know it?” Tweet—”The Ginni Thomas story is bigger than Clarence Thomas or his position on the Supreme Court. It reveals what a lot of us have been trying to tell people. The antidemocratic authoritarianism wasn’t just Trump or a passing flirtation. The GOP and the Right Wing are riddled with it.” Also “Ginni Thomas’ Election Fraud Guru Claims He Arrested Pope. Ginni Thomas name-checked Steve Pieczenik, a little-known conspiracy theorist, in texts to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about overturning the 2020 election.” Tweet—”On May 18, 2019 Ginni Thomas was a guest speaker at an invitation only Council for National Policy event with an audience of GOP donors in McLean Virginia. Her presentation is something to behold. Especially if you’re interested in coups. Wait until you see this wee 🧵👇🏻” Also “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Calls For Clarence Thomas To Resign Or Face Impeachment. Virginia Thomas’ hardheaded efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election have sparked doubts about her husband’s impartiality on the bench.”
  • Georgia voters sue to block Marjorie Taylor Greene from running for re-election over Capitol riot.”
  • Thread—”If you want more information about the caliber of attorney Donald Trump is relying on to win a RICO suit against Hillary Clinton et al, you should check out one of the firm’s websites, which can be found at — I promise thus is true — http://legalbrains.com.”
  • From the Do you like snails? Do you like oysters? dept: “Kevin McCarthy Not Happy About Madison Cawthorn’s Orgy Accusations. Cawthorn said he’s been invited to orgies with Washington politicians and seen them do cocaine in front of him.” Also “Stephen Colbert Gives Kevin McCarthy An X-Rated New Description And… Um… You’ll never un-hear this one.”
  • People’s Convoy Gives Up, Will Leave D.C. After 3 Weeks of Doing Absolutely Nothing. After creating a mini-city in Hagerstown, the trucker convoy will pack it up and leave town in the coming days.”
  • More on this: Tweet—”Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), in an impassioned barnburner speech, contrasts attacks on Judge Jackson’s record on crime with the fact that she’s endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police.” Tweet—”Cory Booker is maybe happier than anyone I’ve seen right now talking about KBJ: ‘I’m not letting anybody in the Senate steal my joy.’ KBJ is crying.” Tweet—”Cory Booker the FIRST person on this cmte I’ve heard thus far point out how many of these Republicans voted for Jackson LAST YEAR & didn’t raise ANY of these disgusting & baseless allegations, then. So either they were incompetent THEN, or they’re incompetent NOW. But Either way.” Tweet—”232 yrs of uncritically assuming rich white dudes were ‘best’ for the job but someone says ONE TIME they’re gonna assume the most qualified person is someone who has to work 8x as hard to accomplish 4x as much & be taken HALF as seriously & people start setting their hair on fire.” Tweet—”@SenBooker⁩ is getting it all told with a smile. He is calling it out. And it needed to be said.” Tweet—”Your reminder, as GOP Senators complain about not sentencing child pornographers more harshly: None of them criticized GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, who in his 30s dated 8th graders, and the AL GOP said anyone who did not support Moore’s election would be ejected from the GOP.” Also “Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Long Pause Explained Racism and Sexism in America. In that pregnant moment, everybody who was watching got to see how power and privilege work.” Also “The racist history of Senate confirmation hearings that started when a Jewish person was first nominated for the Supreme Court in 1916.”
  • If We Had a National Popular Vote, Election Fraud Would Become a Lot Harder.”
  • ‘A barbaric federal program’: US killed 1.75m animals last year – or 200 per hour. Activists condemn Wildlife Services, a division of the USDA, which says deaths necessary to protect farmers and public health.”
  • Do Your City’s Parks Need a ‘Colonial Audit’? Chances are, the answer is yes.”
  • New Orleans school board reverses little known ban on jazz“—”I’m very glad that we can rescind this policy. I want to acknowledge it. It was rooted in racism.”
  • Belgium Decriminalizes Prostitution. Belgium is the first country in Europe to decriminalize selling and paying for sex.”
  • Tweet—”I don’t think people understand how ridiculous things are in the UK; I have to book an appointment with my medical doctor this morning so I can get permission to have a passport, because I am trans. When we say we do not have equal rights, this is an example of what we mean.”
  • Thread—”What’s going on in West Hollywood should alarm you. A growing movement of residents is seeking to spend small portion of City’s safety funds (17%) on social services instead of armed bureaucrats. Mayor is working behind scenes with Sheriff to stop it. A fascinating story:”
  • Tweet—”By overriding the veto, Utah has created a political commission of adults who will inspect and analyze the bodies and genitals of trans children wanting to play sports. They are immune from suit under this bill. Let’s call this what it is, government sponsored child molestation.”
  • In a suburban Fort Worth House runoff, Republicans debate killing women over abortion“—”Should Texas punish abortions by putting teenage girls and women to death? Or not? That’s the current debate in the Republican Party of Texas, where outlawing abortion is no longer a question of ‘if’ or ‘when’ but a question of whether to kill women for getting one.”
  • Inspector general identifies 41 sheriff’s deputies who allegedly belong to gang-like groups.”
  • Rapid City hotel sued for discrimination“—”An Indigenous rights group has filed a federal lawsuit against owners of a Rapid City hotel and lounge for discrimination. The civil suit was filed on Wednesday, March 23, by NDN Collective of Rapid City and two named individuals who were turned away when they tried to check into the hotel. The lawsuit comes on the heels of a Saturday night shooting at the hotel and racist public statements made afterward by the hotel’s owner. This report for SDPB relies on contents of the civil complaint.”
  • An email urging lower wages for new employees due to higher gas prices sparks walkout at Lawrence Applebee’s.” Tweet—”Wayne Pankratz of @Applebees says that higher gas prices are great for business because most employees live check to check and hopefully they can start lowering wages.”
  • People no longer believe working hard will lead to a better life, survey shows. A growing sense of inequality is undermining trust in both society’s institutions and capitalism, according to a long-running global survey.”
  • Jay-Z’s Oscar Gold Party Picketed by Labor Union Outside Chateau Marmont. Protestors didn’t stop Emily Ratajkowski, Rosario Dawson, Michael B. Jordan, Zoe Kravitz and plenty more from crossing the picket line.”
  • Toxic Masculinity at the Oscars“—”The best director Oscar went to a woman for only the third time in history. It went to the only woman who was ever nominated twice. It went to Jane Campion for making a movie about the destructive power of toxic masculinity. The elephant in the room, given that prize, was Will Smith’s toxic behavior. In case anyone was wondering if the patriarchy is at risk of being overthrown, there’s Smith assaulting someone on stage, in view of millions, and then moments later being applauded for a speech in which he declares he is all about love. He was not stopped, or escorted from the room, and he will face no consequences…”
  • The Schism Breaking Apart the ‘Prepper’ Community. Soon after Russia began its invasion, some long-running tensions in the prepper community erupted out into the open. You might call it an emerging schism. And it’s not only caused an exodus of female members—it’s challenging the very idea of what it means to prep.”
  • How prosthetic penises in shows like HBO’s ‘Minx’ reinforce existing stereotypes and taboos. What’s wrong with just showing the real thing?”
  • More on this: tweet—”Statement from The Walt Disney Company on signing of Florida legislation”
  • From 2019: “Harvesting the Blood of America’s Poor: The Latest Stage of Capitalism. Blood has become big business in the United States and there is no shortage of corporations ready to exploit America’s most vulnerable populations in order to get a piece of the pie.”—”blood now makes up well over 2 percent of total U.S. exports by value. To put that in perspective, Americans’ blood is now worth more than all exported corn or soy products that cover vast areas of the country’s heartland.”
  • Tweet—”Seriously, who smashes a window to steal a friggin’ unicycle?? 😡”
  • Sci-fi and Sufism, Saks Afridi. Saks Afridi is a Pakistan born, New York based multi-disciplinary artist. His art practice explores the dichotomy of being an insider/outsider. This is the practice of achieving a sense of belonging while being out of place, finding happiness in a state of temporary permanence, and re-contextualizing existing historical and cultural narratives with the contemporary. He does this through a new genre he terms as ‘Sci-fi Sufism’, where he fuses mysticism and futurism to discover worlds and galaxies within the self.”
  • Tweet—”We’re very excited to announce that we have partnered with @DriveThruRPG to integrate their industry-leading marketplace with Foundry VTT. Publishers can sell premium content for Foundry VTT on DTRPG and customers who buy from DTRPG unlock that content on http://foundryvtt.com!” Previously they integrated with Patreon, which was cool but I feared would maybe flood their system with “in app purchase” kinda hidden cost content, but they’ve now also integrated with DTRPG which actually seems pretty cool. People were kinda trying to do this on their own, to limited success, through Itch, which might be another service to integrate with. But, here’s all the content so far: Content for Foundry Virtual Tabletop.
  • Tweet—”In the spirit of the age, and because I couldn’t rest until I had done it, I present Trapped In A Cabin With Lord Byron, the RPG.”
  • DnD’s Radiant Citadel reminds us of the political power of joy. The new D&D book Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel is a vibrant, joyful – and perhaps unconsciously political – addition to the TTRPG.”—”Joy is the antidote to trauma porn. Pleasant and safe settings like The Radiant Citadel are a reminder that black and brown communities are made up of three-dimensional people whose lives amount to more than just suffering. The city also has the potential to prevent the trend of trauma porn from repeating in D&D campaigns. I’ve sat at many tables where sexism, racism, and more have been included – even when these themes aren’t directly relevant to the game’s plot. Whether the DM is trying to make their world feel more gritty and ‘realistic’ in the theatre of their players’ minds, or they’re subconsciously following the established (and problematic) tropes of Golden Age fantasy, human discrimination very often sneaks into the Forgotten Realms. Personally, I don’t seek out games of D&D that indulge in these themes unnecessarily.”
  • How Rachel Pollack Created DC Comics’ First Trans Superhero. All the way back in the ’90s, a pioneering Doom Patrol character showed us that being trans is a superpower.” Tweet—”Most know Rachel from her tarot work, but a lot of people in our tarot community don’t know about her comic career. She created DC’s first trans superhero.”
  • High school girls in Japan create and sell ‘butt-shaped soap,’ praised as ‘way too high quality’.”
  • Thread—”A few years ago I was asked by a car dealership in town to drive a car to a customer in Denver. I would then rent a car and drive home. They’d pay for it all. I had a company credit card. I drop the car off at the customers and walk 7 miles to the rental car place. They say I …”
  • Postcards from a small island. Encounters with Britishness, from Bernardine Evaristo, David Peace, Charlotte Church, Armando Iannucci, David Olusoga and more.”—”One Saturday, 150 bigots met 2,000 people dressed as badgers. And Brian May. ‘That afternoon in June, with the police, anti-fascists and neo-Nazis bristling for a brawl, the Badger People suddenly found themselves having to pick a side…And that day, with no apparent discussion, the Badger People picked antifa.'”
  • Wrong Ways to Meditate.”

Omnium Gatherum: 23mar2022

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for March 23, 2022.

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

  • Remembering Uncle O’Grimacey, McDonald’s Bizarre Shamrock Shake Mascot“—”There’s a salacious rumor that the Uncle O’Grimacey character was allegedly retired due to his controversial ties to the IRA.” “The rumor likely stems from a 1997 Onion article, in which O’Grimacey is referred to as ‘the most radical member of the Grimace family’.”
  • Is Putin Beyond Influence? How to stop a man on a mission.“—”The ideology that drives Putin’s psychology centers on a godly, unified Russia. Putin may view his murderous war as a noble mission on behalf of a sacred Russian Empire. Recognition of Putin’s ideological extremism might be a first step in making a feasible arrangement with him.” By Robert Jay Lifton, author of Losing Reality: On Cults, Cultism, and the Mindset of Political and Religious Zealotry [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”A definitive account of the psychology of zealotry, from a National Book Award winner and a leading authority on the nature of cults, political absolutism, and mind control. In this unique and timely volume Robert Jay Lifton, the National Book Award–winning psychiatrist, historian, and public intellectual proposes a radical idea: that the psychological relationship between extremist political movements and fanatical religious cults may be much closer than anyone thought. Exploring the most extreme manifestations of human zealotry, Lifton highlights an array of leaders―from Mao to Hitler to the Japanese apocalyptic cult leader Shōkō Asahara to Donald Trump―who have sought the control of human minds and the ownership of reality. Lifton has spent decades exploring psychological extremism. His pioneering concept of the ‘Eight Deadly Sins’ of ideological totalism―originally devised to identify ‘brainwashing’ (or ‘thought reform’) in political movements―has been widely quoted in writings about cults, and embraced by members and former members of religious cults seeking to understand their experiences. In Losing Reality Lifton makes clear that the apocalyptic impulse―that of destroying the world in order to remake it in purified form―is not limited to religious groups but is prominent in extremist political movements such as Nazism and Chinese Communism, and also in groups surrounding Donald Trump. Lifton applies his concept of “malignant normality” to Trump’s efforts to render his destructive falsehoods a routine part of American life. But Lifton sees the human species as capable of ‘regaining reality’ by means of our ‘protean’ psychological capacities and our ethical and political commitments as ‘witnessing professionals.’ Lifton weaves together some of his finest work with extensive new commentary to provide vital understanding of our struggle with mental predators. Losing Reality is a book not only of stunning scholarship, but also of huge relevance for these troubled times.”
  • Thread—”I just saw that the fancy looking new HP game is about quelling a ‘goblin rebellion’ that threatens to upend the social order and you cannot convince me these people don’t know what they’re doing lol.” Tweet—”Malice or incompetence? My money is on ‘malice’!” Also “‘Harry Potter’ Game Designer Used to Run Anti-Social Justice YouTube Channel“—”One of the lead designers for ‘Hogwarts Legacy’ previously ran a YouTube channel where he referred to the #MeToo movement as a ‘moral panic.'” Thread—”1/ Here is your monthly reminder that the goblins of the Harry Potter franchise are not, in fact, “based on European folklore” other than their name. As far as I can determine, there were no ‘greedy, hook-nosed banker goblins’ in European folklore.” “That being said, I am _fascinated_ by how #HogwartsLegacy doubles down on ‘goblins as anti-semitic caricatures’. I mean, is _anyone_ involved with the franchise capable of self-reflection at all?” Tweet—”i cannot believe the new parry hotter game is literally ‘you must suppress a goblin rebellion and keep them subjugated, and you see the goblins are uh, stealing wizard children and uh-‘ does… does no one see what that is? did not one fuckin person at that studio go ‘hey uhhhh'” Tweet—”Compare and contrast with Little Witch Academia, the better magical school franchise, where the protagonist joins a goblin rebellion and stands for the working class.”
  • “We’re NONMACHINABLE, est. 2022 — we specialize in zines and artist publications featuring collage, visual poetry, abstract comics, stamp art, mail art, asemic writing, and other optically interesting material with a focus on work made by trans people, queers, artists of color, and women.”
  • Oh ffs. “M.A.R. Barker, creator of Tékumel and Empire of the Petal Throne, wrote a neo-nazi novel in 1991.”—”The book was called Serpent’s Walk, and was published by the same company that published infamous neo-nazi book The Turner Diaries. This has been known by a few people for a couple of years, or possibly longer. A former archivist for The Tekumel Foundation posted the following in 2020: ‘I had had no idea that this book existed until I found the manuscript, the original cover art, the publishing contract, the photocopy of the payment check, and the proof copies of the book in amongst Phil’s papers. I secured all this material for the Tekumel Foundation, in my capacity as an archivist, at that time under contract with them, and the last I saw it was all still on their shelves when I did the photo inventory of Phil’s collection in their offices in October of 2012 after I did not renew my dollar-a-year contract with them. (I do not judge the data I collect; I set it in the context I find it, and let others evaluate it. My reaction, as it had been when Phil had done things like this in the past, was ‘Oh, Phil, WHY?’)'” I recall the first book “Man of Gold” as being imperfect but super interesting, especially for the different world building and language focus. For years, I didn’t even know there was a sequel, but may not ever try to read it now that there’s this other book he wrote.
  • Publishing Giants Are Fighting Libraries on E-Books. The Association of American Publishers filed suit to block a new Maryland law that aims to increase public libraries’ access to e-books, with support from a powerful copyright lobbying group.”
  • Tweet—”Monitoring the feud between Charli XCX Updates and the politics editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books.”
  • Libraries and Books Under Attack: Musings of a Retired Librarian.”
  • It’s 70 degrees warmer than normal in eastern Antarctica. Scientists are flabbergasted. ‘This event is completely unprecedented and upended our expectations about the Antarctic climate system,’ one expert said.”—”…such temperature anomalies would have been considered ‘impossible’ and ‘unthinkable’ before they actually occurred.” Also Sea ice that slowed the flow of Antarctic glaciers abruptly shatters in three days.” Also “Record ‘bomb cyclone’ bringing exceptional warmth to North Pole. Temperatures at the North Pole could approach the melting point as they surge nearly 50 degrees above normal.” Tweet—”Still pitchdark at the North Pole, but the temperature is, um, 50 degrees F above normal.” Also “Earth is not a benign mother. Prepare for its coming fury.
  • Latest Search for the Elusive Planet Nine Falls Short. A new survey detected 3,500 candidate signals, but none were deemed sufficient to prove the existence of the hypothetical world.”
  • The Trailblazing Archaeologist Uncovering the Untold Stories of Prehistoric Skeletons. Osteoarchaeologist Efthymia Nikita, recipient of a 2022 Dan David Prize, is studying the lives of ‘the everyday people who comprised the vast majority of our ancestors'”
  • How music evolves
First principals. Statistical analysis of music reveals the truth about its periods of revolution.”
  • MDMA Reopens Child-like ‘Critical Periods’ in the Brains of Mice to Promote Mental Healing.”
  • What do psychedelic drugs do to our brains? AI could help us find out. The words people used to describe their trip experiences could lead to better drugs to treat mental illness.”
  • Latest success from Google’s AI group: Controlling a fusion reactor. The AI was trained on a simulator to shape the plasma held within a tokamak.”
  • The Conditional Effects of Microtargeted Facebook Advertisements on Voter Turnout“—”Facebook advertisements are widely used in modern political campaigning and have come under tremendous scrutiny for their perceived ability to impact elections. However, there is limited evidence as to their effectiveness on voting behavior. An experiment conducted in Texas during the 2018 U.S. Midterm elections demonstrates that longitudinal exposure to issue-oriented Facebook ads may impact turnout, but that effects are conditional on an alignment of message, audience, and electoral context. Despite the large sample (N = 871,479) there is no detectable main effect of advertisements on turnout. Only individuals in competitive congressional districts assigned to receive ads about abortion rights and women’s healthcare exhibited a significant increase in predicted turnout (1.66pp relative to a control group); effects were concentrated among female voters. Three other message conditions had no impact on turnout.”
  • The Ai Illusion – State-of-the-Art Chatbots Aren’t What They Seem. GPT-3 is very much like a performance by a good magician.”—”Artificial intelligence is an oxymoron. Despite all the incredible things computers can do, they are still not intelligent in any meaningful sense of the word.”
  • Tweet—”Went to renew my Taiwanese passport, got denied because they couldn’t see my ears in my photo. Ran across the street to UPS to take new photos. They told me to put these on — a first for everything I guess.” Tweet—”i’m just saying i’m going to be using this in talks about how AIs manufacture their own representations of the world, and we’re forced to resort to increasingly absurd tactics to be “seen” by them as they drift further from reality.” Tweet—”This is *precisely* the right focus; it’s not that these systems ‘understand’ us better, it’s that we’re being compelled to contort and limit ourselves to fit within their primitive, narrow capabilities. This is the true danger.”
  • Great Barrier Reef NFTs could change face of conservation, fundraising.” Tweet—”How about we don’t kill it rather than support a fraudulent pyramid scheme that will *checks notes* contribute to killing it.”
  • Okta hack puts thousands of businesses on high alert. Okta lists Peloton, Sonos, T-Mobile, and the FCC among its 15,000 customers.” Also Authentication services firm Okta says it is investigating report of breach“—”A hack at Okta could have potential major consequences because thousands of other companies rely on the San Francisco-based firm to manage access to their own networks and applications.” Tweet—”Infosec Twitter rn is just Gandalf and Pippen standing in Minas Tirith looking out at a giant spewing volcano labeled ‘Okta compromise.'”
  • Citizen Planning to Trial On-Demand Private Security in Chicago. The move shows that Citizen hasn’t given up on the idea of on-demand private security.”
  • BuzzFeed Company-Wide Shakeup Means Editor in Chief Mark Schoofs Is Out. In an email obtained and reviewed by Source Material, Mark Schoofs informed staffers that the move means ‘that will require BuzzFeed News to once again shrink in size.'” Tweet—”In Jonah Peretti’s remarks during the BuzzFeed earnings call, he repeatedly talks about audiences abandoning Facebook.” Tweet—”This is also part of the restructuring for buzzfeed news. ‘pivot to tiktok’ is the new pivot to video.”
  • Long Covid Is Not Rare. It’s a Health Crisis. Lingering symptoms from the coronavirus may turn out to be one of the largest mass disabling events in modern history.”
  • How One New York City Restaurant Fought to Survive. We spent three months with the owner of Saigon Social, a Vietnamese restaurant on the Lower East Side that has only ever existed in pandemic-era limbo.” Tweet—”Thought I was done covering the pandemic, but then Omicron arrived and @nytimes called. So I found a restaurant and embedded—and promptly got COVID. Three months later, my first solo double byline: a 1700-word, 30-picture interactive in the paper of record.”
  • Witness Claims Trump’s Chief of Staff Was on Phone Call Planning Jan. 6 March on Capitol. Trump’s team agreed it would encourage supporters to march, but try to “make it look like they went down there on their own,” Scott Johnston tells Rolling Stone.”
  • The real – and far scarier – reason Republicans think Biden is illegitimate. Many conservatives don’t think the 2020 election was stolen. But they believe democracy itself has betrayed America, by allowing the ‘wrong’ people to take charge.”
  • From the Reputation Washing dept: “How Brian Kemp Resisted Trump’s Pressure to Overturn the Georgia Election Results. Other state Republicans were tempted to cave to Trump’s demands. The GOP governor held firm.” Tweet—”Please stop: The fact that Brian Kemp refused to commit multiple felonies including treason does not make him a hero. To the contrary, he signed a massive voter suppression bill and should be shunned be anyone who cares about free and fair elections.”
  • Precedent Be Damned“—”Of all the challenges to American democracy we currently face, one that hasn’t gotten enough attention is the United States Supreme Court. What is required is to step back and see the big picture. And what one sees is deeply disturbing. Instead of reasoned argumentation we see snap judgements. Instead of deliberation we see grandstanding. Instead of humility we see a cocky disregard for precedent. The legitimacy of the Supreme Court is wavering – some might argue it has already been debased. And with it, the larger legal system quakes with uncertainty.”
  • Facing racist dog whistles in the Senate. Mehdi examines what late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall’s 1967 confirmation hearings can tell us about what’s ahead for Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson.” Tweet—”NYT: racial overtone. CNN: racial undertone. Politico: racially charged. WaPo: racially tinged.” AP Stylebook tweet, from 2020—”Avoid using the vague phrases racially charged, racially motivated or racially tinged to describe situations in which race is or is alleged or perceived to be a central issue, but that do not meet the definition of racist or racism.”
  • Tweet—”‘I’m not an attorney. I watch Law & Order from time to time.’ Senator Tillis said this while questioning the most qualified Supreme Court nominee in history.”
  • Tweet—”SUPREME COURT: Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) says, “We are witnessing a breakdown of society,” at Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s SCOTUS confirmation hearing.” Tweet—”So Tom Cotton uses his opening statement not to even address Justice Jackson, but rather to give a campaign speech hollering about guns, anti-vaxxism, critical race theory and whatever other claptrap forms his slaveowner family descendant philosophy.”
  • Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas admitted to hospital with infection.”
  • ‘Dystopian’ Loophole for Georgia Judicial Elections Gives Brian Kemp the Last Laugh. The governor’s supreme court appointees are coasting in this year’s elections, despite a 2020 legal brawl over their selection that had promised increased visibility for the court.” Tweet—”There’s a WILD situation in Georgia, where judges at risk of losing an election can say they’re resigning many months from now—and that cancels the election, pulls the rug out from challengers, & allows the Gov to install a justice while skipping voters!” Tweet—”Canceling elections and appointing preferred candidates are the tactics of authoritarians. To do it for judges at the state’s highest court is profoundly anti-democratic. Can we see how much preclearance was holding at bay?”
  • As Ohio redistricting remains in limbo, Republicans weigh impeachment of state supreme court chief.”
  • How Russia and Right-Wing Americans Converged on War in Ukraine. Some conservatives have echoed the Kremlin’s misleading claims about the war and vice versa, giving each other’s assertions a sheen of credibility.”
  • Trump White House aide was secret author of report used to push’‘big lie’. Report on Dominion voting machines produced after 2020 election was not the work of volunteer in Trump’s post-election legal team.”
  • Paul Manafort Denied Flight To Dubai Over Revoked Passport.”
  • Why Did Mark Meadows Register to Vote at an Address Where He Did Not Reside? In September, 2020, Donald Trump’s then chief of staff claimed to live in a mobile home in North Carolina.” Also “Debra Meadows appears to have filed three false voter forms. The former White House chief of staff is under investigation, but his wife’s actions in the 2020 election have received less scrutiny.”
  • ‘Gutted’: What happened when a Georgia elections office was targeted for takeover by those who claim the 2020 election was a fraud.”—”The governor had signed a bill remaking election administration in Floyd County. Instead of a 3-member nonpartisan board, she would now have to answer to a new 5-member board that was explicitly partisan — two Democrats and three Republicans…”
  • Capitol riot suspect is granted refugee status in Belarus after fleeing US.” Tweet—”Neumann supports his claims of ‘political persecution’ by telling Belarusian state TV that the FBI released a picture of him and questioned his family about his whereabouts, which, notably, is not persecution of any kind.”
  • Thread—”Have a look at this wonderful yacht called Scheherezade. It’s been talked about for a while. The rumour is it belongs to Vladimir Putin. But there is not much proof, only talks. And that’s why it hasn’t been arrested yet. It just sits there in the port of Carrara.” Tweet—”Amazing discovery by the @navalny team. The largest superyacht in the world, the Scheherezade, rumoured to be owned by Putin has a 100% Russian crew who are all employees of Russia’s version of the US Secret Service (the FSO).” Also “Explore the global assets of Russia’s oligarchs and enablers. RUSSIAN ASSET TRACKER. A sizable chunk of Russia’s wealth has been siphoned offshore by corrupt politicians and well-connected businessmen. We wanted to know where it went — so we started hunting. OCCRP and its partners trawled land records, corporate registries, and offshore leaks to come up with this database of assets belonging to key figures close to Vladimir Putin. Proving the ownership of yachts, mansions, and planes is not easy, since their owners often take pains to keep them hidden. We only included assets in this database if our researchers uncovered clear evidence of their ownership. We’ve also included assets owned by family members and known proxies of the figures we investigated. Explore what we found below, and check back regularly for new additions.” Tweet—”I talked a senior Ukrainian official about sanctions. They believe 6,000 Russian officials and oligarchs should still be sanctioned. West has more work to do.” Also tweet—”NEW: The US government wants your help finding stolen assets held by Russian oligarchs — and it will pay a pretty penny for it. The Treasury Department is offering rewards up to $5 million for information about Russian elites’ yachts, mansions, private jets, and other property.” and “The US is offering to pay rewards of up to $5 million for information about Russian oligarchs’ yachts, mansions, and other assets. The US is offering rewards for information on Russian elites’ assets, such as yachts and mansions. The Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Rewards Program will give informants up to $5 million for info leading to the seizure, forfeiture, or repatriation of stolen assets. Several countries have recently seized yachts, jets, and villas from sanctioned Russian oligarchs over the invasion of Ukraine.” Tweet with a frozen yacht leaderboard.
  • Stop buying from these companies. They’re funding Putin’s war. Ukraine’s Zelensky is right: Peace should matter more than profit.”
  • Russia’s state TV hit by stream of resignations. When Marina Ovsyannikova burst into Russian living rooms on Monday’s nightly news, denouncing the war in Ukraine and propaganda around it, her protest highlighted a quiet but steady stream of resignations from Russia’s tightly controlled state-run TV.”
  • Tweet—”9 years. Well, as the characters of my favorite TV series ‘The Wire’ used to say: ‘You only do two days. That’s the day you go in and the day you come out’ I even had a T-shirt with this slogan, but the prison authorities confiscated it, considering the print extremist.” Also tweet—”Unbelievable. Russian police have now also detained Alexey Navalny’s lawyers after his sentencing to 9 years. They were giving post-court statements to the media outside the prison when police accused them of interfering with the work of the facility and took them away.”
  • Truth Is Another Front in Putin’s War. The Kremlin has used a barrage of increasingly outlandish falsehoods to prop up its overarching claim that the invasion of Ukraine is justified.”
  • Tweet—”Putin, Trump, and the Republican Party of the United States are part of the same movement.” Also “Democrats must connect Putin, Trump, GOP as part as the same movement. A moment to shine a light on authoritarianism’s brutal assault on liberty — and its violent outcome.”
  • Bellingcat founder: Don’t let Putin’s disinformation distract from his war crimes. Plentiful evidence of Russian violations — now available publicly — is only valuable if perpetrators are held to account.”
  • Tucker Carlson doubles down on Ukraine, calling support ‘the largest political flashmob in American history’. ‘Our entire professional class dutifully changed their Twitter avatars from ‘mask up’ to the now mandatory Ukrainian flag'”
  • A Boogaloo Boi Tried to Join the Foreign Legion In Ukraine — It Didn’t End Well. He duped his local newspaper into giving him a hero’s sendoff. His story is now being used as Russian propaganda.”
  • From QAnon to anti-vax: Can you cure a conspiracy theorist? In a time of unfettered misinformation, psychology could be the remedy we need to help people who have been radicalised online.”
  • The Evidence That Ukraine Is Winning. Nearly a month into Russia’s war on Ukraine, the city of Mariupol is holding strong against demands for its surrender. But the war’s costs are only mounting.”
  • Thread—”I was just asked “what do you think this will look like in a month?” Here’s a summary: Russia can’t sustain what it’s been doing; if they do, they will be crushed. China and Russia are cooperating “without limits” and China will supply Russia with materièl. 1/”
  • Texas mail ballot rejections soar under new restrictions“—”Texas threw out mail votes at an abnormally high rate during the nation’s first primary of 2022, rejecting nearly 23,000 ballots outright under tougher voting rules that are part of a broad campaign by Republicans to reshape American elections, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. Roughly 13% of mail ballots returned in the March 1 primary were discarded and uncounted across 187 counties in Texas. While historical primary comparisons are lacking, the double-digit rejection rate would be far beyond what is typical in a general election, when experts say anything above 2% is usually cause for attention. ‘My first reaction is ‘yikes,” said Charles Stewart III, director of the Election Data and Science Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ‘It says to me that there’s something seriously wrong with the way that the mail ballot policy is being administered.'” Also “Mail Ballot Rejections Surge in Texas, With Signs of a Race Gap. A new Republican voting law led to the sharp rise in rejected ballots in the state’s recent primary election. An analysis shows that Black areas of Houston disproportionately had votes thrown out.”
  • Medical Debts Have Counted Against 43 Million Americans’ Credit Scores. That Is Finally About to Change.” Now do student loans, and submarine both completely and forever off all reports.
  • Wichita Cops’ Leaked Group Chats Are a Cesspool of Racism and Cruelty. A domestic violence investigation into one of the cops allegedly uncovered a vile trove of texts mocking George Floyd and joking about civilian killings.”
  • Lawsuit says NYPD officer faced harassment after paying for shoplifter’s stolen food.” Tweet—”Weird how the headline doesn’t mention the harassment came from other cops.”
  • Thread—”When I got home this weekend someone asked how things are going in Nashville, I’m not sure they were ready for my answer, but it went kind of like this…”
  • US House passes CROWN Act that would ban race-based hair discrimination.” Also “‘This is our tradition’: Native American family upset after Del City students chop off son’s hair. Two students cut the Del City first-grader’s hair while he was in class, the family says.”
  • Tweet—”if you watch one thing today make it this: ‘I look around… I am the only woman on this podium. I am the only physician. This bill is a medical sham.'”
  • Thread—”This is a thread on the impact of price changes we were expecting as a result of government policy, Brexit and Covid before the war with Ukraine, plus those we’re now getting because of it. Stick with it. Everyone’s going to be hit hard by what the government is letting happen….” “In case this thread is too long for you this is a summary. We’re in a crisis. Energy and food costs are going to increase the cost of living of low income families by 14% a year, or £300 a month. More than 70% of households will go into debt unless they cut their spending, a lot.”
  • ‘My Other Yacht Is a Support-Yacht’. The arms race in mega-yachts has reached a new level, with the launch of the ‘mega support-yacht.’ Support yachts are for people who have outgrown their mega-yachts and need more space for their helicopters, speedboats, launches and submarines. The support yacht acts as a floating garage, trailing alongside the main yacht with all of the owner’s oversized ‘toys.'”
  • Vilomah: Origin & What It Means for Parents Who Lost a Child“—”What Does Vilomah Mean? Vilomah is a Sanskrit word that means against a natural order.”
  • More on this: “Disney had a tight-lipped employee culture. Then Florida happened.” Also “Disney Employees Walk Out Amid Furor Over Florida Legislation. Hoping to avoid controversy, the company initially shied away from taking a public stance on the anti-L.G.B.T.Q. bill. Now, an internal outcry has stretched into its third week.” Also “Same-Sex Kiss Restored in Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ Following Staff Uproar Over ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill (EXCLUSIVE).”
  • Don’t Say Straight“—”Don’t say straight! Children are too young to learn about gender identity and gender roles.”—”Why should kids be indoctrinated to believe that women should marry men and be their wives? This aberrant family model didn’t even exist for most of homo sapiens’ existence. It’s just a gross, freakish phenomenon, like pairing cheese curds with beef gravy.” “Responsible parents want to keep children from knowing the truth about heterosexual relationships for as long as possible. We should definitely let them.”
  • Nearly 240 anti-LGBTQ bills filed in 2022 so far, most of them targeting trans people. The annual number of anti-LGBTQ bills to have been filed has skyrocketed over the past several years, from 41 in 2018 to 238 in less than three months of this year.”
  • Thread—”Back in 2014, Tim Cook of Apple became the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company to come out as gay. We were eating at Jet’s Pizza as the news scrolled across the bottom of the TV. 1/11″
  • Gender-affirming surgery ‘not what God intended,’ says woman with breast implants.” (It’s a satire site. But, um, still true.)
  • ‘They thought they could hide’: the Aboriginal tracker who brought massacre perpetrators to trial. James Noble’s harrowing discovery on the banks of the Forrest River in 1926 helped uncover a trail of slaughter across WA’s east Kimberley and continues to haunt his descendants”
  • Thread—”Geometric patterns are one of the most distinguishing features of Islamic art, thought to reflect the language of the universe & the greatness of creation. Today, artists are reinterpreting this traditional artform in new ways. A thread on 24 artists redefining Islamic geometry…”
  • Christina Ricci To Star In Netflix’s ‘Wednesday’ Series In Return To Addams Family Universe.”
  • ‘Euphoria’s Sydney Sweeney To Co-Star Opposite Dakota Johnson In Sony’s Marvel Pic ‘Madame Web’.”
  • Two secret voids in Giza Pyramid are discovered that could hide mythical Pharaoh. Archaeologists have located two enormous secret voids inside the Great Pyramid of Giza that they believe could be hiding the lost tomb of the mythical Pharaoh Khufu.”
  • Yazeba’s Bed & Breakfast. A slice-of-life legacy tabletop role-playing game about a found family and their magical home.”—”Our story begins in a sprawling old house outside time and space, where it’s always September 15th and there’s always room for a new visitor. A teen girl sits on the windowsill, reading a well-worn paperback and listening to the splashy-crashy rain come down. She’s alone in the world, but soon enough the strangers who reside here will become her closest friends, family, and mentors. This book is the door into a world of heartless witches and devil children, of cursed frog knights and rabbits who wear little outfits, of aspiring rockstars and spaceships carjacked from the Moon Queen’s palace. We might cook up a breakfast banquet, go trick-or-treating under a sallow moon, put on a disastrous play, or catch fireflies under the stars. So stay the night, unpack your bags, and get ready to explore the world’s most magical Bed & Breakfast! If you love slice-of-life fantasy, queer found family, and cutting-edge game mechanics, then read on!” Watch (listen) to an ongoing podcast with some RPG luminaries, new episodes through April 2nd. Also, there’s this comment about solo: “The short answer is that there’s no solo play support in the book, but there is advice on journaling-as-play and writing fanfiction about the game. Because this is a TTRPG that’s also designed to be engaged with as a book, ‘reading the game’ and ‘imagining what the characters are doing’ and ‘writing stories about the characters’ is fundamentally solo play! So if you like to engage with TTRPGs on your own, there will be a lot here for you.”
  • From the Nature is Healing dept: Sierra founders got ‘bored’ in lockdown so they’re making their first new game in more than 20 years. Ken and Roberta Williams are heading a small team working on Colossal Cave 3D for PC and VR.”
  • Tweet—”For all Blade Runner obsessives – like me – did you know that the ‘White Dragon Cut’ is coming out in Nov 2022? Using graphics (I think) it recreates scenes that were in the script (February 23, 1981) but deleted. It also brings some of Syd Mead’s Concept Art to life.” See “Blade Runner White Dragon Cut | ブレードランナー ホワイトドラゴンカット.”
  • STORYTELLING. Alan Moore. Join the maestro of storytelling and learn to create mesmerising fiction by mastering inventive language, characterisation, world-building and more. AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER NOW. FULL COURSE LAUNCHES 24TH MARCH.”
  • Alan Moore’s Version of James Bond Absolutely Destroyed the Classic Super Spy. The James Bond avatar who appears in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen highlights everything wrong with the character.”
  • It Could’ve Been the World’s Largest Potato, if Only It Were a Potato. A couple in New Zealand found a giant growth in their garden, named it Doug and applied to the Guinness Book of World Records. Then the results of a DNA analysis came in.”
  • When not paying attention in class isn’t what it seems“—”Johnson calls that ‘playing the grade game.’ He wants teachers to consider what it would take to fan the flames of every student’s interests instead of focusing on points and grades as motivation — which doesn’t work for many kids anyway. Johnson said that during the first year of the pandemic, while teaching in his garage and staring at blank Zoom boxes, he had no choice but to tackle that issue head-on. He said it took a mindset shift on both his assignments and classroom management. Instead of seeing himself as a judge who calculates points and assigns grades, he began thinking of himself as a sherpa guiding students through unfamiliar knowledge and skills.”
  • Tweet—”Just spotted this small doomed fox which is stuck in an inaccessible bit of Gatwick forever after being dropped off an escalator by someone who probably loved him #liminalfox” Tweet—”Ready for a triple-A videogame where you clip in and out of reality to rescue lost plush animals from increasingly impossible architectures #liminalfox.” Tweet—”Hey, we’ve got an idea for an easter egg / achievement to add to Manifold Garden … or a sequel”
  • Tremendous swarm of bugs crawls across the Outback“—”A wild video from near Quilpie, Australia, a town in Eastern Australia about 600 miles west of Brisbane, caught thousands of slater bugs moving across red dirt in the middle of the Australian Outback. The sheer number of creepy crawlies moving across the dirt almost made it look like the surface of the Earth itself was moving.”
  • Watch “Zola Jesus – Lost“—”From the upcoming album Arkhon out on May 20, 2022 on Sacred Bones Records.”
  • From the Don’t Forget the Impostor Pierrot dept: tweet—”Dear Hollywood, since multiverse crossovers are the hot new thing, please hear me out…”
  • Speaking of the Guignol: “Japanese comedian points out good way to spot ghosts during pandemic. The times they are a-changing, but ghosts never do.”
  • DEMON’S TILT: Occult Pinball Action. TURBO CHARGED PINBALL RETURNS! Now with bigger sprites, more baddies, more secrets & MORE BULLETS! Demon’s Tilt pushes the limits of the Video Pinball genre with SHMUP & Hack N’ Slash element.” On the Epic Store, free Mar 24 – Mar 31.

Omnium Gatherum: 16mar2022

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for March 16, 2022.

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

  • Sure, why not this too: “Japan’s ‘killing stone’ splits in two, releasing superstitions amid the sulphur springs. Legend has it there is an evil spirit trapped in the Sessho-seki stone, so what happens now that the stone is broken?”
  • Pi day recipes for sweet, savory, skillet, handheld and more types of pies. To mark Pi Day, we’re offering pie recipes with options made with fruit, vegetables, meat and more.”
  • Bodies, Noise and Power in Industrial Music [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] eds Jason Whittaker and Elizabeth Potter, part of the Pop Music, Culture and Identity series, due April 2022—”This edited collection delves into the industrial music genre, exploring the importance of music in (sub)cultural identity formation, and the impact of technology on the production of music. With its roots as early as the 1970s, industrial music emerged as a harsh, transgressive, and radically charged genre. The soundscape of the industrial is intense and powerful, adorned with taboo images, and thematically concerned with authority and control. Elemental to the genre is critical engagement with configurations of the body and related power. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, this collection analyses the treatment of subjects like the Body (animal, human, machine), Noise (rhythmic, harsh) and Power (authority, institutions, law) in a variety of industrial music’s elements. Throughout the collection, these three subjects are interrogated by examining lyrics, aesthetics, music videos, song writing, performance and audience reception. The chapters have been carefully selected to produce a diverse and intersectional perspective, including work on Black industrial musicians and Arabic and North African women’s collaborations. Rather than providing historical context, the contributors interpret the finer elements of the aesthetics and discourses around physical bodies and power as expressed in the genre, expanding the ‘industrial’ boundary and broadening the focus beyond white European industrial music.”
  • What Comes After ‘Kmart Realism’? Writing Place in the Era of American Uniformity. Lee Cole on the Homogenization of Rural Life in America” By the author of Groundskeeping: A Novel [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”In the run-up to the 2016 election, Owen Callahan, an aspiring writer, moves back to Kentucky to live with his Trump-supporting uncle and grandfather. Eager to clean up his act after wasting time and potential in his early twenties, he takes a job as a groundskeeper at a small local college, in exchange for which he is permitted to take a writing course. Here he meets Alma Hazdic, a writer in residence who seems to have everything that Owen lacks—a prestigious position, an Ivy League education, success as a writer. They begin a secret relationship, and as they grow closer, Alma—who comes from a liberal family of Bosnian immigrants—struggles to understand Owen’s fraught relationship with family and home. Exquisitely written; expertly crafted; dazzling in its precision, restraint, and depth of feeling, Groundskeeping is a novel of haunting power and grace from a prodigiously gifted young writer.”
  • The Lure of the Unknown: Essays on the Strange by Algernon Blackwood, due April 2022—”The Lure of the Unknown is a collection of Algernon Blackwood’s essays, talks, reviews and anecdotes exploring encounters with the strange and unusual or, in Blackwood’s preferred word, the ‘odd’. They include his first attempts to investigate alleged haunted houses, his association with such luminaries as W. B. Yeats, ‘A.E.’, and Gurdjieff; his thoughts on telepathy, reincarnation, elemental spirits, other dimensions, and his beliefs in what lies beyond our normal perceptions. These writings reveal not only Blackwood’s diverse experiences, but his depth of reading and analysis of the unexplained. Few of these essays have been reprinted beyond their first publication or their broadcast on radio and television. They provide another dimension to an understanding of one of the great writers of the supernatural.”
  • Oops, blinked. “Asteroid discovered hours before Earth impact“—”Hungarian astronomer Krisztián Sárneczky at the Piszkésteto Mountain Station – part of Konkoly Observatory near Budapest – discovered a small asteroid on March 11, 2022, just two hours before it struck Earth’s atmosphere. The asteroid is believed to have started out about 10 feet (3 meters) wide. Now labeled 2022 EB5, this object entered Earth’s atmosphere north of Iceland at 21:22 UTC on March 11. Orbit simulation expert Tony Dunn on Twitter (@tony873004) commented: When 2022 EB5 struck the Earth north of Iceland this morning, it became the 5th asteroid to be discovered prior to impacting Earth.”
  • Wait for it. “GISTEMP Climate Spiral“—”The visualization presents monthly global temperature anomalies between the years 1880-2021. These temperatures are based on the GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP v4), an estimate of global surface temperature change.”
  • ‘Adapt or die’: It’s too late to prevent climate chaos, warn the world’s leading scientists — it’s time to focus on survival.”
  • Um. Cthulhu’s got acne? “Holes the size of city blocks are forming in the Arctic seafloor“—”Marine scientists have discovered deep sinkholes — one larger than a city block of six-story buildings — and ice-filled hills that have formed “extraordinarily” rapidly on a remote part of the Arctic seafloor.”
  • Hubble telescope was at the perfect angle to capture this nearly impossible shot of two ‘dancing galaxies’. You can see the galaxies warping in three dimensions.”
  • A Plot Twist in the Milky Way. Astronomers have cracked a mystery 1,000 light-years from Earth.”
  • Scientists first to achieve Wannier-Stark localization in polycrystals. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, Paderborn University, and the University of Konstanz have succeeded in achieving a rare quantum state. They are the first to have demonstrated Wannier-Stark localization in a polycrystalline substance. Predicted around 80 years ago, the effect has only recently been proven – in a monocrystal. Until now, researchers assumed this localization to be possible only in such monocrystalline substances which are very complicated to produce. The new findings represent a breakthrough in the field of physics and could in future give rise to new optical modulators, for example, that can be used in information technologies based on light, among other things. The physicists have published their findings in the well-respected technical journal, Nature Communications.” “Stronger and faster than lightning. The atoms of a crystal are arranged in a three-dimensional grid, held together by chemical bonds. These bonds can, however, be dissolved by very strong electric fields which displace atoms, even going so far as to introduce so much energy into the crystal that it is destroyed. This is what happens when lightning strikes and materials liquefy, vaporize or combust, for example. To demonstrate Wannier-Stark localization, the scientists’ experiments involved setting up electric fields of several million volts per centimetre, much stronger than the fields involved in lightning strikes. During this process, the electronic system of a solid – in this case, a polycrystal – is forced far from a state of equilibrium for a very short time. “Wannier-Stark localization involves virtually shutting down some of the chemical bonds temporarily. This state can only be maintained for less than a picosecond – one millionth of one millionth of a second – without destroying the substance. Once the electric field inside the crystal is strong enough, the chemical bonds towards the field are deactivated, rendering the crystal briefly as a system of unbonded layers. Chaos reigns. The phenomenon correlates with drastic changes to the electronic structure of the crystal, resulting in stark changes to optical characteristics, in particular, high optical nonlinearity,” explains Paderborn University’s Professor Torsten Meier, who was responsible for the theoretical analysis of the experiments. Nonlinear effects can give rise to new frequencies, for example, without which the targeted manipulation of light needed for modern telecommunications would not be possible.”
  • Atypical tooth wear found in fossil hominins also present in a Japanese macaque population“—”Atypical tooth wear, including macroscopically visible striations on anterior teeth and within root grooves on posterior teeth, are often regarded as evidence of non-masticatory, tool use behavior in fossil hominins. Both these types of dental tissue loss are often considered unique to the genus Homo and suggested to be the earliest evidence of human cultural habits. The aim of this study was to describe similar tooth wear found in a wild primate population and to conduct a differential diagnosis of this atypical tissue loss.” “Accidental ingestion of sand and oral processing of marine mollusks likely creates these atypical wear patterns. Implications for similar wear that has been associated with tool-use in fossil hominin samples were discussed.”
  • Um, wait, this is from the college of what, now? “In Search for Source of Our Evolutionary Distinctiveness, John Jay College Student Researchers Discover Genes Unique to Humans“—”A team of student researchers from John Jay College of Criminal Justice has discovered human microRNA genes not shared with any other primate species and which may have played an important role in the unique evolution of the human species. The students, Jessica A. Blandino, Beatriz C. Mercado, José A. Galván, and William J. Higgins, carried out their work under the direction of John Jay Professors Dr. Hunter R. Johnson and Dr. Nathan H. Lents and found at least three families of microRNA genes on chromosome 21.”
  • Archaeologists Uncover Largest Trove of Mummification Materials in Egypt. ‘It is probably the largest complex and undisturbed find of its kind originating from ancient Egypt,’ said Mohamed Megahed, head of the archaeological mission.”
  • Collectors in the prehistoric world recycled old stone tools to preserve memory of ancestors. The act of collecting objects rooted in humans ‘in more ways than we can even think.'”
  • Gaming-pieces and a gaming board found in the Medieval Park in Oslo. New finds from Oslo’s Medieval Park excavation shed light on one of history’s most popular pastimes: playing games and gambling.”
  • Rare stone with Pictish symbols found in farmers’ field. Archaeologists have uncovered a stone with carved Pictish symbols in a farmer’s field near Forfar, Scotland.”
  • Apparently the spider air force is joining the swarming spider infantry: “Large, Parachuting Spiders Could Soon Invade the East Coast, Study Finds. The authors say the arachnids are harmless to people and pets and may even eat pests like stink bugs.”
  • Scientists discover ‘supergene’ is changing the social structure of red fire ant colonies. Red fire ants are infamous for their painful sting and aggressive colony tactics and have been known to attack and kill small animals.”
  • Microbes and minerals may have set off Earth’s oxygenation. Scientists propose a new mechanism by which oxygen may have first built up in the atmosphere.”
  • MIT engineers fly first-ever plane with no moving parts. The silent, lightweight aircraft doesn’t depend on fossil fuels.”
  • Novel X-ray lens with potential commercial applications“—”PSI scientists have developed a ground-breaking achromatic lens for X-rays which facilitates the glimpse into the nanoworld. This allows the X-ray beams to be accurately focused on a single point even if they have different wavelengths. Soon, the newly developed lens will also be used in industry.”
  • IBM’s $300 Open Source Lego Microscope“—”Using Lego bricks, a Raspberry Pi mini-computer, an Arduino microcontroller, some off-the-shelf components like lenses, and 3D-printed components, IBM scientist Yuksel Temiz built a fully functional microscope to help him with his work. The materials cost around $300 and the microscope performs as well as scopes many times more expensive”.
  • Mathematical discovery could shed light on quantum gravity“—”How can Einstein’s theory of gravity be unified with quantum mechanics? It is a challenge that could give us deep insights into phenomena such as black holes and the birth of the universe. Now, a new article in Nature Communications, written by researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, and MIT, U.S., presents results that cast new light on important challenges in understanding quantum gravity.”
  • Klaatu Barada Nikto! “The Immortal Armour of China’s Jade Burial Suits. The Jade burial suits are hand-crafted jade suits from the Han Dynasty of China, used for the ceremonial burials of China’s elite and members of the ruling class.”
  • Did Ancient Nomads Seize Control of a Roman Emerald Mine in Egypt? Recent excavations suggest the Blemmyes assumed power of the Sikait mining site between the fourth and sixth centuries C.E.”
  • Researchers Decipher the Glyphs on a 1,300-Year-Old Frieze in Mexico. The 50-foot-long limestone and stucco relief contains one of the lengthiest examples of Zapotec writing in the Oaxaca Valley.”
  • More on this: “2 giant blobs in Earth’s mantle may explain Africa’s weird geology. A massive blob of material under Africa could be contributing to that continent’s upheaval.”
  • Cure worse than the disease?! “Dust mite juice: a new eczema treatment. The good news is that scientists have found a new way to treat eczema. The bad news is that it’s drinkable dust mite extract.” 🤢 Aaaaaa-HURK! 🤮
  • Godsdamnit, mites! “Tiny Mite Triggers Domino Effect in the High Andes. Pumas, Condors and Grasslands Impacted After Mange Wipes Out Park’s Vicuñas.”
  • Senolytic drugs boost key protective protein“—”Mayo Clinic researchers say senolytic drugs can boost a key protein in the body that may protect older people against aspects of aging and a range of diseases. Their findings, which are published in eBioMedicine demonstrate this in mice and human studies. Senolytics developed at Mayo Clinic and given once clear the bloodstream of senescent or “zombie” cells. These cells contribute to multiple diseases and negative aspects of aging. This study shows that the removal of senescent cells significantly boosts the production of a protective protein called a-klotho.”
  • When It Comes to Sleep, It’s Quality Over Quantity. ‘Elite Sleeper’ Genes Could Offer Protection from Neurodegenerative Diseases.”—”Some people are gifted with genes that pack the benefits of slumber into an efficient time window, keeping them peppy on only four or six hours of sleep a night, according to researchers at UC San Francisco. In addition, the scientists said, these “elite sleepers” show psychological resilience and resistance to neurodegenerative conditions that may point the way to fending off neurological disease.”
  • Of Course We’re Living in a Simulation. The only people who absolutely disagree are, well, scientists. They need to get over themselves and join the fun.”
  • By the by, remember this? Look who’s officially to blame. “Missouri Governor’s Office Responsible for Teacher Data Leak“—”Missouri Governor Mike Parson made headlines last year when he vowed to criminally prosecute a journalist for reporting a security flaw in a state website that exposed personal information of more than 100,000 teachers. But Missouri prosecutors now say they will not pursue charges following revelations that the data had been exposed since 2011 — two years after responsibility for securing the state’s IT systems was centralized within Parson’s own Office of Administration.”
  • Critical Bugs Expose Hundreds of Thousands of Medical Devices and ATMs. The so-called Access:7 vulnerabilities are the latest high-profile IoT security fumble.”
  • Today in Oligarch news, can’t wait until they have enough kids to name one Cybertruck. “Grimes Inadvertently Reveals Second Baby With Elon Musk During Crazy Interview. The singer invited Vanity Fair to her home to talk about her new album, when the interviewer heard what sounded a lot like a baby’s cry coming from upstairs.” “GRIMES’ TIME Grimes ‘dating whistleblower Chelsea Manning’ after splitting with Elon Musk for second time and welcoming secret baby.”
  • Oh ffs. No, just no. “LimeWire Returning as an NFT Marketplace. LimeWire GmbH is expected to launch this spring.”
  • A new report reveals that since the Russian attack on Ukraine, Anonymous and its affiliate groups have compromised 90% of misconfigured cloud databases owned by different Russian organizations.
  • DeepMind’s new AI model helps decipher, date, and locate ancient inscriptions. A ‘complementary tool’ to help historians unravel ancient text.” Also “AI could decipher gaps in ancient Greek texts, say researchers. From imperial decrees to Sappho’s poems, Ithaca system can find word patterns and suggest age of text.”
  • Tweet—”Dual use in artificial intelligence is a growing concern. Read a Comment by Fabio Urbina, @FilippaLentzos Cédric Invernizzi and @collabchem about the risks in drug discovery”. “Dual use of artificial-intelligence-powered drug discovery. An international security conference explored how artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for drug discovery could be misused for de novo design of biochemical weapons. A thought experiment evolved into a computational proof.” Tweet—”AI health researchers tell their system to find molecular compounds more efficient at harming humans, are shocked when it… does just exactly that, & then Respond with, ‘The Thought Had Never Previously Struck Us’ that this might be possible. *stares off into space Cassandraly*”
  • Startups — it’s time to ditch your CEO. As a trio of cofounders, we decided not to have a CEO.”—”But if the founders’ goal should be to challenge the enemy of innovation — conventional wisdom — why is no one asking, ‘Should startups even have a CEO in the first place?’ Spoiler: we decided to do away with having a CEO.”
  • A US surveillance program tracks nearly 200,000 immigrants. What happens to their data? Guardian review of company’s policies raises privacy concerns amid fears records could be shared or monetized.”
  • Online Sleuths Are Using Face Recognition to ID Russian Soldiers. It takes five minutes to put a name to a soldier’s face using little more than a screenshot, but there’s a catch.”
  • Amazon announces 20-for-1 stock split, $10 billion buyback. Amazon on Wednesday said its board of directors has approved a 20-for-1 stock split. It’s the first split since 1999 and the fourth since Amazon’s IPO in 1997. The company also said its board has authorized Amazon to buy back up to $10 billion worth of shares.”
  • Leak Reveals Biden’s Crypto Plans—Sending The Price Of Bitcoin, Ethereum, BNB, Solana, Cardano, XRP, Terra’s Luna And Avalanche Higher.
  • Cloudflare to auto-brick servers that go offline in Ukraine, Russia“—”Cloudflare announced that it is taking drastic measures to protect data of customers in Eastern Europe under current conditions of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The U.S.-based web infrastructure and security company known for its DDoS mitigation services announced its decision to stay in the Russian market, albeit with some aspects of its business suspended.”
  • Russia’s Ukraine War Raises Specter of an Online Splinternet“—”Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is creating new cracks in the world-spanning foundation of the internet. Since Feb. 25, the day after Russia began an assault on its neighbor, Moscow has made it harder for citizens to reach Facebook and Twitter. Separately, Facebook, YouTube and TikTok have limited access to Russian state-owned media in the European Union at the request of governments in the 27-country bloc. Russia has also exercised the power of its Sovereign Internet Law, which President Vladimir Putin signed in 2019. The law is designed to help the Russian internet survive any Western attempt to cut it off, but it also centralizes state network control so that the government can take actions like censoring sites or hobbling social networks.”
  • The Great Tech Hub Exodus Didn’t Quite Happen. Two years into the pandemic, US tech jobs remain concentrated in a handful of coastal hubs. But a new set of cities is gaining ground.”
  • Republicans reluctant on $15 billion in virus aid, as White House warns about pandemic readiness. The stalemate left Washington scrambling to find solutions for the second consecutive week, as the future of the U.S. government’s pandemic response appeared to hang in the balance.”
  • Thread—”I have a sinking feeling again in my stomach… my sources say it’s bad. I’ll do another update soon… but follow this thread below meantime for smaller updates… it’s complete pandemonium again…” “9) UPDATE—the 13-million population city of Shenzhen has locked down! With all non-essential enterprises stop operating, or required to work from home. Buses and subways all suspended. Govt services shut down except for epidemic essential staff. Holy shit.”
  • The ‘Freedom Convoy’ Bitcoin Donations Have Been Frozen and Seized. Bitcoin was supposed to be a financial lifeline for vaccine mandate protesters in Canada. That hasn’t exactly worked out to plan.”
  • QAnon, Ukraine and ‘biolabs’: Russian propaganda efforts boosted by U.S. far right. Russian and Chinese officials have also pushed the theory, which has reached mainstream conservative media in the U.S.”
  • Right-wing group targets New York Times reporters who have aggressively reported on its spy tactics.” Thread—”NY Times reporters uncovered how the right wing group Project Veritas has employed former spies to infiltrate and discredit political opponents using deceptive practices. Now Project Veritas is engaged in a campaign of harassment against those reporters.”
  • America’s culture war is spilling into actual war-war. To US conservatives, the real enemy is the ‘militant left wing’ in the United States. How did it come to this?” Thread—”In last week’s column for @GuardianUS, I wrote about how the Right is infatuated with foreign autocrats like Putin who they perceive as defenders of ‘Christian values.’ I’d like to address a few reactions to the piece – and some misconceptions about white Christian nationalism:” “And Putin has been undeniably successful in his quest to appeal to the Christian Right: Americans who define the U.S. as a “Christian nation” have a much more favorable view of Putin’s Russia, and Pat Robertson claims Putin is ‘being compelled by God’ to invade Ukraine.”
  • Tweet—”Russian state TV interrupted by ‘No War’ protest. During the ‘Vremya’ news program on Russia’s main TV channel, Maria Ovsyannikova, a Channel One employee, rushed in front of the camera with a poster saying ‘stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda.'” Also “Pictured: Russian TV presenter Marina Ovsyannikova who said no to war appears in court. The sign said: ‘NO WAR. Stop the war. Don’t believe propaganda. They are lying to you here.'” Also tweet—”Sources tell the sometimes reliable outlet Baza that Russian officials have decided to press FELONY, not misdemeanor, charges against Ovsyannikova, bringing the full force of the new law against her (public disinfo, not merely discrediting the military). Up to 15 years in prison.”
  • Even Russian State TV Is Pleading With Putin to Stop the War. State propagandists called for Putin to end the “special military operation” before “frightening” sanctions destabilize his regime and risk civil war in Russia.”
  • From the Tone Police in Riot Gear dept: Tweet—”The head of Russia’s Presidential Human Rights Council says there’s no “censorship” in the criminalization of speech that “discredits” the armed forces explaining that people can still express their opinions ‘within reasonable limits.'”
  • Leaked Kremlin Memo to Russian Media: It Is “Essential” to Feature Tucker Carlson. The Russian government has pressed outlets to highlight the Fox host’s Putin-helping broadcasts.”
  • Judge in Smartmatic Suit Cites Tucker’s Rejection of Election Claims to Argue ‘Substantial Basis’ Fox News ‘Acted With Actual Malice’.”
  • Pro-Putin Disinformation on Ukraine Is Thriving in Online Anti-Vax Groups. All the usual themes: Secret government alliances, anti-Semitic tropes, and nefarious scientists.”
  • The Weakness of the Despot. An expert on Stalin discusses Putin, Russia, and the West.”
  • The War in Ukraine Exposes Social Media as a Tool of the State“—”… the platforms look more like tools in the exercise of state power today than they did before the invasion of Ukraine. The long term implications are difficult to discern in the fog of war.” Also “Putin’s pre-war moves against U.S. tech giants laid groundwork for crackdown on free expression. Google and Apple blinked after threats from Russian agents.” Tweet—”This is very troubling and a perfect example of why autocratic governments are increasingly requiring large platforms/companies to open local offices (to literally local hold employees hostage)…”
  • Tweet—”A French activist broke into Putin’s daughters villa in Biarritz, France and changed the locks. Said that he plans to use it for Ukrainian refugees.” Also “‘Surprised’ mayor to question police response after squatters seize oligarch’s mansion” and tweet—”Original statement from the #oligarchsquat
  • Thread—”Crisis and Jubilee: What’s happening in Russia Russia’s spiralling into a deep crisis. It was visible before the war but now it’s rapidly accelerating. And every major crisis entails mass redistribution of power, property and status. Because crisis is essentially a Jubilee.”
  • Russian ship that fired on ‘f–k yourself’ Ukrainians destroyed: report.”
  • Servant of the People is back on Netflix—”After a Ukrainian high school teacher’s tirade against government corruption goes viral on social media, he finds himself the country’s new president. Starring:Vladimir Zelenskiy.” Also “‘Why? Why? Why?’ Ukraine’s Mariupol descends into despair. MARIUPOL, Ukraine (AP) — The bodies of the children all lie here, dumped into this narrow trench hastily dug into the frozen earth of Mariupol to the constant drumbeat of shelling.” Also thread—”As bombs fell on Ukraine’s towns and cities in the first week of the invasion, the Ukrainian government still made a scheduled interest payment to its private lenders on time. Its lenders — IMF, World Bank, banks, and hedge funds—are all queuing up to collect their debts.” Also Inside Chernobyl, 200 Exhausted Staff Toil Round the Clock at Russian Gunpoint. Trapped since their shift 3 weeks ago, the Ukrainians keeping the abandoned nuclear plant safe are ill-fed, stressed and desperate for relief.”—”they are approaching 500 hours on the job—snatching sleep on chairs in front of beeping machinery and on piles of clothes…Their diet has dwindled to porridge and canned food, prepared by a 70-year-old cook who at one point collapsed from exhaustion” Also “U.S. Senate unanimously condemns Putin as war criminal.” Also “Biden to Announce $1 Billion in New Military Aid to Ukraine. The additional assistance comes as Ukrainian President Zelensky prepares to make an appeal to Congress.” Also “America can’t afford to forget Zelenskyy’s role in Trump’s first impeachment. Many Americans have seemingly forgotten the fateful 2019 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and how that call foreshadowed today.”—”It wasn’t until after the WH learned about the whistleblower complaint that Ukraine finally received..aid Congress had approved..Ukraine’s national security, which is tied to American’s national security, took a backseat to Trump’s re-election ambitions.” Also “‘I thought he was negotiating’: Trump didn’t think Putin would order Ukraine invasion.Tweet—”So Biden knew what Putin was doing and called him out every step of the way and Trump (the master “negotiator”) got it wrong yet again.” Also tweet—”Viktor Orbán’s campaign speech on Hungary’s national day had several troubling aspects. He essentially declared Hungarian neutrality, talked about Russia and Ukraine as if they were both responsible for the war, and then this: evoking well-known tropes about the ‘you know who’.” Also tweet—”Zelensky is the first Jewish head of state not from Israel to address US Congress.” Also tweet—”At least ten dead in Chernihiv after a bread line is shelled, per local reporter. CNN has geolocated the video and confirmed a shell or rocket hit a group of people lining up for bread. Russian forces have been shelling residential areas of Chernihiv for about a week.” Also tweet—”Alexandra Trofimovna, 86, was a little girl in Kharkiv when Germans bombed her house during WWII, killing her mother and sister. She also lost two fingers on her right hand. This morning, her house was bombed once again, this time by the russian army.” Also “‘All art must go underground:’ Ukraine scrambles to shield its cultural heritage. As Russian bombs drop, Ukrainians unite to protect precious artworks.” Also Cut off from food, Ukrainians recall famine under Stalin, which killed 4 million of them. The Soviet dictator covered up the starvation across the republic in the early 1930s.”
  • A Ukrainian Journalist on What Western Media Is Missing“—”Like a lot of other journalists in Ukraine, Romeo Kokriatski is working hard day in and day out to explain the slow trudge of war. Kokriatski is the managing editor of a website called the New Voice of Ukraine, and he lived in Kyiv until he fled the capital a few days ago. He actually grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens, spending summers in Ukraine with his grandma learning about the history of his homeland. Kokriatski’s story tells you something important about this country and how it’s been able to hold off Russian forces so far. The military war is an evolution of an information war that’s been going on in Ukraine for eight years, and Kokriatski plays an important part in that war, sorting out facts from propaganda. On Thursday’s episode of What Next, I talked to him about the fight against Russian misinformation, how he got into journalism, and what it’s like in Kyiv these days. Our conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.”
  • Poutine not Putin: classic Quebec dish off the menu in France and Canada. French restaurant threatened for selling fries, cheese and gravy snack that sounds like the Russian leader.”—”In English, differences in pronunciation mean that there can be little overlap with the Russian leader’s name. But the French transliteration of Putin – already tweaked to avoid confusion with the expletive putain – has left ample room for crossed wires. ‘People, please stop confusing Putin and poutine,’ tweeted one user. ‘One is a dangerous and unwholesome mix of greasy, lumpy and congealed ingredients, the other is a delicious food.'”
  • ‘Things Will Only Get Worse.’ Putin’s War Sends Russians Into Exile. Thousands of Russians saw their comfortable, middle-class lives fade overnight with the invasion ordered by President Vladimir V. Putin.”—”Tens of thousands of Russians have fled to Istanbul since Russia invaded Ukraine, outraged about what they see as a criminal war, worried about conscription or the possibility of a closed Russian border…”
  • Mass Graves Identified in Syria Could Hold Evidence of War Crimes. Two sites have been located, believed to hold thousands of bodies of Syrians killed in detention centers administered by President Bashar al-Assad’s government during the civil war.”
  • TV coverage amplifies the GOP’s false claims about gas prices. The media double standard in full view.”
  • GOP’s violent rhetoric keeps getting worse — and almost nobody is paying attention. At CPAC, Sen. Rick Scott essentially called for eliminating leftists. Armed Republicans understand what he means.”
  • In Texas, Trans Kids Are Casualties of a Much Bigger War. In situations like the abhorrent Texas anti-trans crusade, liberals like to say that the cruelty is the point. But in reality, winning elections and protecting elite interests is the point — and transgender kids and their families are caught in the crosshairs.” Also “Parents of a trans child who reached out to Attorney General Ken Paxton over dinner are now under investigation for child abuse. Amber Briggle had hoped inviting Paxton to dinner might soften his views about transgender children. Now, the family is under investigation after he issued an opinion equating gender-affirming medical care with child abuse.” Also “Does the state think transgender care is abuse? Ken Paxton’s comments contradict Texas’ legal stance. AUSTIN — Fighting to keep his job in a heated GOP primary this year, Attorney General Ken Paxton repeatedly insisted that certain medical treatments for…”
  • In other news: tweet—”BREAKING: Employees of a Texas-contracted facility meant to care for children who are victims of sex trafficking was discovered sex trafficking the same children, aged 11 to 17, according to a federal judge.”
  • Texas bar seeks disciplinary action against Trump’s ‘Kraken’ ex-lawyer Sidney Powell. Texas state bar Commission for Lawyer Discipline accuses Powell of ‘professional misconduct'”
  • The patchwork groups sharing gender-affirming underwear patterns. It can be ‘impossible to find something that fully represents who you are'”
  • Where Gender-Neutral Pronouns Come From. People tend to think of they, Mx., and hir as relatively recent inventions. But English speakers have been looking for better ways to talk about gender for a very long time.”
  • The rise of white nationalist Hispanics“—”Fuentes is part of a small but increasingly visible number of far-right provocateurs with Hispanic backgrounds who spread racist, antisemitic messages.”
  • Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters indicted by grand jury on felony charges. The Republican was indicted on 10 counts, according to prosecutors.”
  • More on this: “Disney Censors Same-Sex Affection in Pixar Films, According to Letter From Employees.” Also “Disney CEO Bob Chapek Apologizes to LGBTQ Employees, Announces Pause for Political Donations in Florida. ‘You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.'”
  • Where is your god now?! “Tornado hits home of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ lawmaker.”
  • Young, fun and… alone? The problems with the ‘single positivity movement’. In an era obsessed with personal growth, singledom must be seen as something unambiguously uplifting. But there are legitimate reasons to fear being alone.”
  • Lessons in Success From the Rich and Famous“—”Where we mortals may list things like chores and errands, this read like a step-by-step plan for world domination.”
  • Trapped, stripped of assets, and silenced. And it’s all perfectly legal. When the Public Trustee is given the keys to your life, speaking out publicly is illegal, and the state can block you from trying to regain your freedom. Four Corners went to the Supreme Court to fight for the right to reveal the hidden ordeal of people who, like megastar Britney Spears, have escaped the system.”
  • The painful, cutting and brilliant letters Black people wrote to their former enslavers. These letters from Black Americans to the people who once controlled their lives show a desire for freedom and a desperate longing to be reunited with their families.”
  • A mother says her son was sold by students in a mock slave auction. School district votes unanimously on action plan.”
  • By Design. White communists, socialists, feminists, and capitalists tried to engineer society using kitchen design.”
  • From the You Say That Like It’s A Bad Thing dept: “Rise of remote working is ‘biggest threat to oil demand,’ says analyst. Working from home has become the norm, and if the trend continues even after the pandemic abates, it could pose a big risk for oil, analysts are warning. ‘The biggest threat to oil demand is the rise of remote working,’ Bernstein said in a recent note to clients. ‘A decrease in commuting and business air travel is clearly negative for oil demand.’ S&P Global Platts predicts between 1 million barrels per day and 1.5 million bpd will be lost from people no longer commuting, with another 1.5 million bpd to 2 million bpd lost from a slowdown in business travel.”
  • If you love ASMR you might be more sensitive, our research finds“—”But an intriguing question that remains unanswered is why only some people experience ASMR tingling. We recently conducted a study which goes some way towards answering this question. It seems that people who experience ASMR have heightened sensory sensitivity – that is, they are more sensitive to what’s going on around them, and inside them. Here’s how we found out, and what it means.”
  • ‘I’m Just Going To Leave’: STEM Employee Applauded For Ending Job Interview“—”‘I went into this interview after securing a written offer from another company,’ they began. ‘The very first thing they want me to do is transfer all of the information on my résumé to their application, by hand, while they sit there and watch me.’ ‘The person instructing me to do this must have noticed a little confusion because she asked me if something was wrong,’ they continued. ‘I replied, ‘I’m sorry, I thought I was here for an interview. I haven’t filled out an application since earning minimum wage in high school. I think I’m going to leave.””
  • Wait. Do they no longer have departments? “Kohl’s says it’s no longer a department store“—”Kohl’s is under intense pressure from Wall Street raiders and up against stiff competition from Amazon, Target and others. Now it’s hoping that overhauling its brand image can beat back those threats.”
  • More on this: watch “Underwater robots find Shackleton’s Endurance shipwreck in Antarctic – BBC News” and “Endurance wreck: Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship found off Antarctica
  • Watch “Print Your Mind: “The Infinity” – A Bike Design by Stephan Henrich“—”The Sintratec technology turns the wildest concepts into a tangible reality – such like this model of a beach and city cruiser with an all-wheel drive. Register now for an exclusive Webinar with its designer Stephan Henrich and learn more about the many possibilities of additive technologies.”
  • Watch “can I be your teacher (come take my class!!)” a promo for an online class from Simone Giertz—”Come join my build class … No tools or experience required! Enrollment for the first session is open now until March 25. This class is a hands-on, 30-day experience, designed to teach you everything I know about following your curiosity to build things that make your life better (or at least more interesting). You’ll learn by doing and follow along as I create 2 new inventions from scratch, from picking an idea, to running into 10 unexpected hurdles, to polishing off the finished build. Along the way, you won’t just watch me make things — you’ll make things yourself and you’ll finish the class with 2 original builds of your own. The class only runs a few times a year, so claim your spot today! See you in class!”
  • Rob Zombie Shares Some Interior Shots from ‘The Munsters’ House.”
  • “Series Premiere Sunday, April 24. The Man Who Fell to Earth. Based on the Walter Tevis novel of the same name and the iconic film that starred David Bowie, THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH will follow a new alien character (Ejiofor) who arrives on Earth at a turning point in human evolution and must confront his own past to determine our future.” Watch “The Man Who Fell To Earth (2022) Official Trailer | SHOWTIME.”
  • PBS’s ‘Around The World In 80 Days’ Starring David Tennant Is Superior to the Book.”
  • HBO Max Orders ‘The Penguin’ Limited Series As ‘The Batman’ Clocks $301 Million+ At Global Box Office“—”In what comes as no surprise given the running $301 million global-grossing success of The Batman, HBO Max has given a straight-to-series order to the pic’s spinoff series The Penguin, which will see Colin Farrell reprising his villainous role from the pic as one of Gotham’s legendary kingpins. As The Batman director Matt Reeves told us on Deadline’s Hero Nation podcast, Penguin picks up where the movie left off in regards to Penguin. He said the original Batman spinoff series he conceived centering around a corrupt cop in events preceding the movie is no longer moving forward at HBO Max.”
  • Tweet—”What’s going on with this Star Wars hotel ad?” Also watch—”The New Star Wars Hotel Commercial is ABSOLUTE INSANITY (Galactic Starcruiser News).” Also watch, even when she tried to go the evil path, and couldn’t quite stick to it: watch “THIS is Why You Go To The Star Wars Hotel“—”This time she’s playing for the First Order so things look entirely different!” Tweet—”Roundtrip FL airfare: $600. Two-night stay at Galactic Starcruiser: $4,800. Sharing a moment of smug satisfaction with your daughter as the fascist regime’s proto-Nazi banner unfurls after you informed on a resistance member, leading to his arrest and likely execution: Priceless.” Also, palate cleanser, this guy went cosplaying as Kylo Ren’s Undercover BossMatt the Radar Technition”! Watch “Matt the Radar Technicianon the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser-Complete Experience + Story Revealed.”
  • Watch “ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW: Behind the Scenes | Film Night | Making Of | BBC Archive“—”Film Night catches up with Richard O’Brien, Tim Curry and director Jim Sharman, who are hard at work on the movie adaptation of their cult stage musical, the Rocky Horror Show for 20th Century Studios. O’Brien discusses the process of writing the play and music, and his character Riff Raff, while Tim Curry reflects on how he has had to reign in the flamboyant transvestite scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter to make him more cinematic and less theatrical. This clip is from Film Week, originally broadcast 26 July 1975” “When you’re acting, it’s B-movie acting. When you’re singing, it’s your rock n’ roll dreams come true.”
  • Box of human heads stolen from truck in Denver: ‘Pretty shocking’
  • Some Understaffed PetSmarts Are Dealing With Freezers Overflowing With Dead Pets. ‘The amount of death and loss was unacceptable.'”
  • Unicorn chaser, stat! “Vulva Spaceship aims to counter prevalence of phallic spacecraft.”
  • Semi-invisible: LOOP, Spacemen 3, and UK psych’s hidden history. Before shoegaze and acid house, a dysfunctional wave of British guitar bands were pursuing a psychedelic horizon all of their own – and then it all imploded.”
  • Lost Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Completed After 25 Years“—”A 25-year-old abandoned Dungeon & Dragons adventure has been completed and released by a group of dedicated fans. The Emissary takes place on Athas, the Dark Sun Campaign Setting’s world, which celebrated its 30th-anniversary last year. The Emissary is one of several projects that Dark Sun co-creator Tim Brown worked on in the 1990s left unfinished when TSR pulled the plug on the Dark Sun setting. Wizards of the Coast then acquired TSR and allowed the fan community at The Burnt World of Athas to produce Dark Sun materials for Dungeons & Dragon’s 3rd edition and 3.5 rulesets. It is that same fan community that completed The Emissary for release.” Free PDF download linked at The Emissary.
  • He swoops to conquer: hormonal owl livens up Norfolk nights. Mysterious Eurasian eagle owl heard hooting around Norwich has been unmasked by local newspaper.”
  • Emma Watson ruled the BAFTAs with one sentence: ‘I’m here for ALL of the witches’. Many people on Twitter took it to mean one thing.”