Omnium Gatherum: 15sept2021

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

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

  • Bill Corbett of MST3K, RiffTrax goes online to debut new play, ‘The Medievalists’“—”Corbett, also a screenwriter and comic book author, will debut his latest work online this weekend: “The Medievalists,” presented by producer Jeremy Wein’s live-streaming theater initiative Play-Per View, premieres via Zoom at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18.” “Play-PerView: The Medievalists (Live-Reading). A New Play by Mystery Science Theater 3000 Writer Bill Corbett starring Rhea Seehorn, James Urbaniak, Pager Brewster and Jason Ritter. Sat, Sep 18, 2021, 7:00 PM – Wed, Sep 22, 2021, 10:59 PM CDT.” “A once-respected history scholar crashes and burns on the set of the cheesy TV series adapted from his work. His family rides in on a quest to save the day!”
  • Fundraiser: “Stop the Sloly SLAPP“—”For over a decade now, Ottawa Life Magazine has taken a strong stance against police brutality and misconduct. With a focus on the RCMP and the Ottawa Police specifically, we’ve covered a variety of stories ranging from the alleged sexual violence and harrassment faced by women in the force to horrific instances of violence against people who are Indigenous, Black and of other marginalized communities. This pattern of misconduct has left many in the city with a sense of distrust, and even fear, of the police who are meant to serve and protect them. As one of Ottawa’s longest running publications, we have always written about difficult topics in the public’s interest. Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly’s legal action against us, as a ‘private citizen,’ is a prime example of a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP)–a means to protect the status quo and silence our reporting on police misconduct. If you believe in freedom of the press and support our right to discuss and criticize police governance, please consider donating to our campaign. Funds will go towards our legal fees and, if we succeed in having it dismissed, all funds will be donated to Maison Libère-Elles, a local women’s shelter that homes women and children who are survivors of domestic violence, substance abuse, poverty, and other adversities.”
  • The cliché writes back. Machine-written literature might offend your tastes but until the dawn of Romanticism most writers were just as formulaic.”—”Instances of automated journalism (sports news and financial reports, for example) are on the rise, while explanations of the benefits from insurance companies and marketing copy likewise rely on machine-writing technology. We can imagine a near future where machines play an even larger part in highly conventional kinds of writing, but also a more creative role in imaginative genres (novels, poems, plays), even computer code itself.” “Our clichéd distaste for clichés points us in a promising direction, though. To make sense of the dizzying thought of machine writing, churning out sentences purely on the basis of probabilities, we need to understand language models such as GPT-3 not only as advances in AI and computational linguistics, but from the perspective of the interwoven histories of writing, rhetoric, style and literature too. What do probabilistic language models look like against the backdrop of the history of probable language? And what might this historical perspective suggest to us about what synthetic text means for the future of imaginative writing?” “Ong reminds us that we’ve relied on probable language for much of human history. Before the emergence of writing more than 5,000 years ago, a defining feature of oral culture was thinking and speaking in terms of communal, formulaic language.” “Through successive revolutions in media and technology, including the spread of writing and the 15th-century invention of printing, probable phrases persisted in rhetorical teaching and practice as loci communes or ‘commonplaces’, which can refer to two things. ‘Analytic’ commonplaces were well-trodden topics or headings for discussion.” “The second kind of commonplace, the one more relevant here, is the ‘cumulative commonplace’ or prefabricated phrases or passages.” “The emergence of writing and print loosened the grip of probable language: each, as a physical medium, allows for the saving of knowledge over time and the spread of knowledge in space, and this liberated human thought and expression from the deep grooves of conventional language. Yet, paradoxically, these frequently used ‘residues’ of oral culture were not extinguished by writing and print, but rather gathered into collections and compendiums that were used to teach students the rhetorical curriculum from antiquity through the Renaissance, and until the decline of that kind of schooling in the 19th century.” “Or maybe something else altogether will emerge. But at the heart of the matter is the question put by Komar: ‘Do you expect to see the unexpected when you look at art?’” By Yohei Igarashi, author of 2019’s The Connected Condition: Romanticism and the Dream of Communication [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”The Romantic poet’s intense yearning to share thoughts and feelings often finds expression in a style that thwarts a connection with readers. Yohei Igarashi addresses this paradox by reimagining Romantic poetry as a response to the beginnings of the information age. Data collection, rampant connectivity, and efficient communication became powerful social norms during this period. The Connected Condition argues that poets responded to these developments by probing the underlying fantasy: the perfect transfer of thoughts, feelings, and information, along with media that might make such communication possible. This book radically reframes major poets and canonical poems. Igarashi considers Samuel Taylor Coleridge as a stenographer, William Wordsworth as a bureaucrat, Percy Shelley amid social networks, and John Keats in relation to telegraphy, revealing a shared attraction and skepticism toward the dream of communication. Bringing to bear a singular combination of media studies, the history of communication, sociology, rhetoric, and literary history, The Connected Condition proposes new accounts of literary difficulty and Romanticism. Above all, this book shows that the Romantic poets have much to teach us about living with the connected condition and the fortunes of literature in it.”
  • Our heartbeats synchronise while we’re listening to stories, researchers find. That experience can be shared even if the people are far apart, as long as they are attentively listening to the story.”—”Scientists have discovered that people’s bodily functions – including their heartbeat and breathing – unconsciously synchronise when they are sharing an experience.”
  • Worms Share Memories With Others by Swapping RNA, Wild Study Reveals“—”A ghastly bout of food poisoning isn’t an experience to forget. The commonly studied microscopic nematode Caenorhabditis elegans not only ensures it remembers, it genetically embeds the threat of skanky meals into its kids to force them to stay clear as well. And if by some misfortune one of those worms goes belly-up anyway? The warning encoded in RNA can leak out of their disintegrating body, potentially to be picked up by any passing member of the species. This remarkable means of memory transfer was spotted by researchers from Princeton University’s Murphy Lab in the US as a part of a series of studies on inherited behaviors in the nematode.”
  • Astronomers are still looking for the elusive ‘Planet 9’. A new study narrows down where to find a hypothetical ninth planet in the dark outer limits of our solar system.”
  • Strange 160 Mile-Long ‘Dog-Bone’ Asteroid Kleopatra Captured in Detailed Images“—”Using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT), a team of astronomers has obtained the sharpest and most detailed images yet of the asteroid Kleopatra. The observations have allowed the team to constrain the 3D shape and mass of this peculiar asteroid, which resembles a dog bone, to a higher accuracy than ever before. Their research provides clues as to how this asteroid and the two moons that orbit it formed. ‘Kleopatra is truly a unique body in our Solar System,’ says Franck Marchis, an astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, USA and at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, France, who led a study on the asteroid — which has moons and an unusual shape — published today (September 9, 2021) in Astronomy & Astrophysics. ‘Science makes a lot of progress thanks to the study of weird outliers. I think Kleopatra is one of those and understanding this complex, multiple asteroid system can help us learn more about our Solar System.'”
  • Modern Life Is Accelerating Human Evolution – and That Can Prove Destructive. Hundreds of millions of years of evolution led to the advent of Homo sapiens, but the evolutionary process is not over – it is actually speeding up, and our behavior patterns have a lot to do with it. ‘We live in a world that’s no longer very suitable for us’”
  • From May: “World’s only alpine parrot may have moved to the mountains to avoid people. Intelligent and mischievous, New Zealand’s kea were once present in other parts of the country, research has found, and adaptability could help them survive habitat loss.”—”He said that idea that kea had moved specifically to avoid people was still speculative, and there wasn’t enough information to establish any causative relationship between human settlements expanding and the birds’ adoption of mountainous zones. But given kea were physically able to survive in a variety of habitats, it made sense to examine what the primary differences were. ‘What distinguishes the alpine habitat from the New Zealand lower-lying open habitats? [There] are usually heavily anthropogenic influences, agriculture going on and so on.'” From June: “Endangered parrot lives in mountains to avoid people: study“—”Birds of a feather flock together — far away from society. Researchers have found reason to believe that the kea — a large, endangered parrot species — once lived among humans before moving away from people and into New Zealand’s mountains. In a study published last month in the journal Molecular Ecology, scientists at New Zealand’s University of Otago determined that the kea may be capable of living amongst people, but prefers alpine habitats so as to “avoid lower-lying anthropogenic landscapes” — so they don’t have to mingle among humans.”
  • Is gravity truly a quantum force? Exploring quantum gravity—for whom the pendulum swings.”
  • Stunning images capture rare ‘megapod’ of humpback whales“—”Coastal tour boat operators in Australia were treated to a rare spectacle last week as more than 100 humpback whales set upon a swirling ball of baitfish.” “‘The big smell, fish everywhere, whales busting up through it. Now the whales on the outside were slapping their tails, sorting of herding the bait in together and then the whales coming up and sort of busting up all over the place,’ Miller told the Reuters news agency. ‘It’s pretty incredible stuff.'”
  • Scientists scramble to harvest ice cores as glaciers melt. Ice provides historical records about climate and shows the impact humanity has had. But many glaciers are now melting, prompting renewed urgency among scientists.”
  • CRISPR startup wants to resurrect the woolly mammoth by 2027. Colossal lands $15 million to restore the woolly mammoth to the Arctic — and thinks it can birth calves in four to six years.” Also “Scientists want to resurrect the woolly mammoth. They just got $15 million to make it happen.”
  • Lumpy tumor shown on facial reconstruction of Neanderthal who lived on ‘drowned land’. The Neanderthal lived up to 70,000 years ago.”
  • Physicists discover black holes exert a pressure in serendipitous scientific first“—”Physicists at the University of Sussex have discovered that black holes exert a pressure on their environment, in a scientific first. In 1974 Stephen Hawking made the seminal discovery that black holes emit thermal radiation. Previous to that, black holes were believed to be inert, the final stages of a dying heavy star. The University of Sussex scientists have shown that they are in fact even more complex thermodynamic systems, with not only a temperature but also a pressure.”
  • Researchers Generate an Entire Virtual Universe and Make it Available for Download (if you Have 100 Terabytes of Free Hard Drive Space)“—”Astronomy is a bit different from many sciences because you only have a sample size of 1. The cosmos contains everything we can observe, so astronomers can’t study multiple universes to see how our universe ticks. But they can create computer simulations of our universe. By tweaking different aspects of their simulation, astronomers can see how things such as dark matter and dark energy play a role in our universe. Now, if you are willing to spring for a fancy hard drive, you can keep one of these simulations in your pocket. The Uchuu simulation is the largest and most detailed simulation of the universe ever made. It contains 2.1 trillion ‘particles’ in a space 9.6 billion light-years across. The simulation models the evolution of the universe across more than 13 billion years. It doesn’t focus on the formation of stars and planets but instead looks at the behavior of dark matter within an expanding universe. The detail of Uchuu is high enough that the team can identify everything from galaxy clusters to the dark matter halos of individual galaxies. Since dark matter makes up most of the matter in the universe, it is the main driver of galaxy formation and clustering.”
  • Squirrels have personality traits similar to humans, new study shows.”—”A team of researchers at the University of California, Davis announced squirrels have personality traits similar to humans, and those traits are key to their survival and life expectancy. The researchers published their findings in the journal Animal Behaviour on Friday. The study, which the group says is the first to ever document personality in golden-mantled ground squirrels commonly found in western U.S. and Canada, showed the animals had four different traits: boldness, aggressiveness, sociability and activity level. Researchers say the findings show how personality influences an animal’s use of space in the wild.” Also, “boldness, aggressiveness, sociability and activity level” are my new minimal RPG’s four core stats.
  • Fossils of giant, ‘mind-boggling’ swimming head creature unearthed in Canada“—”A fossil found in the Canadian Rockies revealed an unusual marine animal that was much larger in scale than any other ocean creatures at its time more than 500 million years ago. According to a study published Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the fossil is named Titanokorys gainesi and was 1.6 feet in length – quadruple the size of its fellow ancient ocean dwellers. ‘The sheer size of this animal is absolutely mind-boggling, this is one of the biggest animals from the Cambrian period ever found,’ study author Jean-Bernard Caron said in a statement. ‘These enigmatic animals certainly had a big impact on Cambrian seafloor ecosystems. Their limbs at the front looked like multiple stacked rakes and would have been very efficient at bringing anything they captured in their tiny spines towards the mouth.'”
  • The universe is alive. “NASA says rock samples found by rover reveal alien life may have existed on Mars. Scientists can’t be certain whether the water that altered these rocks was present for tens of thousands of years or for millions of years, but they are growing increasingly certain it was there long enough to welcome microscopic life.”
  • The universe is trans. “1st sign of elusive ‘triangle singularity’ shows particles swapping identities in mid-flight. Weird phenomenon first proposed by Russian physicist Lev Landau in the 1950s.”—”Physicists sifting through old particle accelerator data have found evidence of a highly-elusive, never-before-seen process: a so-called triangle singularity. First envisioned by Russian physicist Lev Landau in the 1950s, a triangle singularity refers to a rare subatomic process where particles exchange identities before flying away from each other. In this scenario, two particles — called kaons — form two corners of the triangle, while the particles they swap form the third point on the triangle. ‘The particles involved exchanged quarks and changed their identities in the process,’ study co-author Bernhard Ketzer, of the Helmholtz Institute for Radiation and Nuclear Physics at the University of Bonn, said in a statement.”
  • Engineers create 3D-printed objects that sense how a user is interacting with them. Advance incorporates sensing directly into an object’s material, with applications for assistive technology and ‘intelligent’ furniture.”
  • The Kidney Project successfully tests a prototype bioartificial kidney. Advance is awarded KidneyX’s Artificial Kidney Prize.”
  • Fountain of youth for ageing stem cells in bone marrow. Epigenetic changes in old age increase risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. As we age, our bones become thinner, we suffer fractures more often, and bone-diseases such as osteoporosis are more likely to occur. One responsible mechanism involves the impaired function of the bone-marrow stem cells, which are required for the maintenance of bone integrity. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing and CECAD Cluster of Excellence for Ageing Research at the University of Cologne have now shown that the reduced stem cell function upon ageing is due to changes in their epigenome. They were able to reverse these changes in isolated stem cells by adding acetate. This fountain of youth for the epigenome could become important for the treatment of diseases such as osteoporosis.”
  • Leaked documents reveal the special rules Facebook uses for 5.8M VIPs. ‘These people can violate our standards without any consequences.'”—”Facebook had a problem on its hands. People were making posts that got caught in the company’s automated moderation system or were taken down by its human moderators. The problem wasn’t that the moderators, human or otherwise, were wrong to take down the posts. No, the problem was that the people behind the posts were famous or noteworthy, and the company didn’t want a PR mess on its hands. So Facebook came up with a program called XCheck, or cross check, which in many instances became a de facto whitelist. Over the years, XCheck has allowed celebrities, politicians, athletes, activists, journalists, and even the owners of ‘animal influencers’ like ‘Doug the Pug’ to post whatever they want, with few to no consequences for violating the company’s rules.” “… at least 5.8 million people were enrolled in the program as of last year, many of them with significant followings. That means a large number of influential people are allowed to post largely unchecked on Facebook and Instagram.”
  • Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show. Its own in-depth research shows a significant teen mental-health issue that Facebook plays down in public.”
  • Tweet—”Anonymous has just announced a massive hack of Epik, long known as the hosting provider of choice for neonazis, right-wing extremists, and other Internet trash. Anonymous are releasing a decade’s worth of detailed Epik customer & domain data, passwords, emails, and private keys.”
  • Intuit to Acquire Mailchimp. Combination Accelerates Intuit’s Vision to Provide an End-to-End Customer Growth Platform for Small and Mid-Market Businesses.” Tweet—”Mailchimp has been acquired by Intuit, one of the evilest of all financial companies. I’ll be shutting down my mailing list on there.” Tweet—”Intuit has regularly and successfully lobbied to keep American taxpayers from having access to completely free, easy filing which would directly facilitated by the IRS itself at no cost or energy expenditure by the individual. Fuck them. Time to get out tinyletter as a host.” Tweet—”Mailchimp just got bought for $12 billion, and employees own no equity.”
  • Revolt of the Delivery Workers. Exploited by apps. Attacked by thieves. Unprotected by police. The city’s 65,000 bikers have only themselves to count on.”
  • Tweet—”Epic v. Apple verdict is out today, the judge ruled that Epic must pay Apple over $4 million at least and that Apple must allow developers to provide alternative payment methods. She wrote a nearly 200 page order explaining why, and here are some highlights. Thread 1/?”
  • What you need to know about religious exemptions to vaccine mandates. A recent survey found that 52% of U.S. adults favor offering religious exemptions to vaccine mandates.”
  • Utah kids aren’t being notified of COVID-19 exposure until it’s almost too late to quarantine. Meanwhile, data lags are making school case counts appear lower than they actually are.”
  • Singapore reaches 80 pc double-vaccination rate but life is not returning to normal. Singapore is one of the world’s most inoculated countries with 81 per cent vaccinated. But this month has seen its highest daily infections in more than a year. One epidemiologist says at least 90 per cent vaccination is required against the Delta strain.”—”‘They set a target of 80 per cent, which is too low … it would have worked fine for the Alpha strain but this is Delta, a variant with easily two to three times more transmissibility,’ Dr Leong said. ‘They now need at least 90 per cent vaccination, which is technically not possible due to hardened anti-vaxxers or refusers.'”
  • Unwise, unjust and immoderate.” Check out the art for this peice by Eva Lucero. “No tradition, no local economic growth, no student and alumni pushback is worth the damage being inflicted on the Athens community by the UGA administration’s already insufficient COVID-19 policies while hosting football games at full stadium capacity with no social distancing, masking or vaccination requirements. This football season is yet another component of the University’s overall handling of the pandemic that flies in the face of the three pillars of the arch: wisdom, justice and moderation.”
  • 1 in every 500 US residents have died of Covid-19“—”The United States has reached another grim milestone in its fight against the devastating Covid-19 pandemic: 1 in 500 Americans have died from coronavirus since the nation’s first reported infection.”
  • I-Team: Las Vegas QAnon conference finds new home with major Trump supporter. Caesars canceled conference in Sept.”
  • ‘Are we the sheep?’: QAnon believers struggle to process Gavin Newsom recall election in California.”
  • USCP Officers Arrest California Man with Bayonet & Machete” Also “Capitol Police Say They Arrested A Man With A Machete And Swastikas On His Truck Near The DNC. The man was arrested not far from where a pipe bomb was left on Jan. 5 and just days before another right-wing rally is planned for the Capitol.” Also check out the photos of the vehicle at tweet.
  • Heeding Steve Bannon’s Call, Election Deniers Organize to Seize Control of the GOP — and Reshape America’s Elections. The stolen election myth inspired thousands of Trump supporters to take over the Republican Party at the local level, exerting more partisan influence on how elections are run.”
  • Murders of environment and land defenders hit record high. Figures from Global Witness for 2020 show violent resource grab continued unabated despite pandemic.”
  • Indigenous warrior women take fight to save ancestral lands to Brazilian capital. Jair Bolsonaro is backing a legal move to open up large tracts of indigenous territory to commercial exploitation that tribal members call an ‘extermination effort’.”
  • Ministers granted border exemptions to attend urgent meeting in Canberra“—”Sources familiar with the development said some members of cabinet were granted border exemptions to urgently fly to Canberra for the hastily arranged meeting, which sources say will have international significance. Defence Minister Peter Dutton and Foreign Minister Marise Payne, who are in Washington for a series of meetings over the next two days, were said to have joined the meeting via a secure connection.” “The announcement, also significant to the United States and British governments, will be made at 7am Australian time. The White House on Thursday night announced US President Joe Biden will deliver ‘brief remarks about a national security initiative’.”
  • 90% of global farm subsidies damage people and planet, says UN. Almost half a trillion dollars of support a year harms people’s health, the climate and drives inequality.”
  • House Democrats’ Plan to Tax the Rich Leaves Vast Fortunes Unscathed.” Also tweet—”The medium is the message.” Um, also “Tax the Rich Sweatshirt” or “Tee
  • They said what now? “Government says discrimination against black people and Travellers ‘objectively justified’ with new laws. Documents defend disproportionate impact of Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.”
  • Afghanistan’s Taliban Allow Women to Attend Universities, but Fear Keeps Most at Home. Restrictions on women stop short of the prohibitions of the 1990s—how long that will last isn’t clear.”
  • We’re in hell. This is hell. “Usher, Priyanka Chopra & Julianne Hough Set For ‘The Activist’, CBS Competition Series From Global Citizen“—”The Activist is a competition series that features six inspiring activists teamed with three high-profile public figures working together to bring meaningful change to one of three vitally important world causes: health, education, and environment. Activists go head-to-head in challenges to promote their causes, with their success measured via online engagement, social metrics, and hosts’ input. The three teams have one ultimate goal: to create impactful movements that amplify their message, drive action, and advance them to the G20 Summit in Rome, Italy. There, they will meet with world leaders in the hope of securing funding and awareness for their causes. The team that receives the largest commitment is celebrated as the overall winner at the finale, which will also feature musical performances by some of the world’s most passionate artists.” “UPDATED with statement from Global Citizen, 5:34 PM: After the format for The Activist drew some blowback on social media, Deadline reached out to Global Citizen for a statement. ‘The Activist spotlights individuals who’ve made it their life’s work to change the world for the better, as well as the incredible and often challenging work they do on the ground in their communities,’ a spokesperson for the group said. ‘This is not a reality show to trivialize activism. On the contrary, our aim is to support activists everywhere, show the ingenuity and dedication they put into their work, and amplify their causes to an even wider audience.'”
  • How did American ‘wokeness’ jump from elite schools to everyday life?. And how deep will its influence be?”
  • Escaping Together. Thoughts about basic income, surviving disasters, and the future we must escape from.”
  • Judge Declares Mistrial at Trial of Backpage.com Founders. A judge has declared a mistrial at the trial of the founders of the lucrative classified site Backpage.” Also “Anti-Porn Crusader Sharon Cooper Testifies for Prosecution in Lacey/Larkin Trial, Defense Moves for Mistrial. Shortly after anti-porn/anti-sex work activist, Dr. Sharon Cooper, testified for the prosecution in the Lacey/Larkin trial, defense attorneys moved for a mistrial over her inflammatory statements.”
  • Missouri cave with ancient Native American drawings sold” Also “‘Heartbroken’ Osage Nation leaders decry sale of sacred Missouri cave with ancient artwork. Indigenous leaders had hoped to purchase the land, which is home to 1,000-year-old drawings and was auctioned off for $2.2m.”
  • Tweet thread—”Let’s start the week at the beginning – when do we first see #Nubian languages in the historical record? Well, it’s before Nubian writing (as we know it) emerges in the 6thC CE. The #Meroitic epigraphic tradition includes words and names that appear later in Old Nubian texts. 1/8.”
  • Alan Moore TV Show Spinoff Has Secured Some Funding“—”Creative England is investing £500,000 in UK film and TV production company EMU Films via its Creative Growth Finance fund, established in 2019. One of their projects they hope to use the fund for, is a new TV show spin-off of Alan Moore and Mitch Jenkins’ movie The Show and its short film prequels, Show Pieces. The Show takes place in a modern Northampton that has its very own underworld or purgatory, controlled by two former music-hall comedians, which affects the world above, as they deal with those below. The movie version of The Show recently received a one-day cinematic rollout in the US, a premiere at London’s FrightFest, in person and digitally, and streaming on Spain’s film services. And in October it will receive a wider streaming distribution, globally. Bleeding Cool understands that Alan Moore and Mitch Jenkins have a five-year, five-season storyline for The Show TV Series lined up and that Alan Moore has written the first episode in full. We are to expect some of the returning cast from the previous versions of The Show, including Alan Moore himself as Mister Matterton, but there’s going to be a long road from here to there.”
  • Tweet—”And that’s it for the Special Edition of the Space:1999 Moonbase Alpha Technical Operations Manual. SOLD OUT in less than 2 hours. Sorry if you missed out. The standard edition is still available to pre-order together with £20 of free gifts from” Space: 1999 Moonbase Alpha Technical Operations Manual—”A lavishly illustrated 272 page edition of the book packed with information about life on Moonbase Alpha featuring over 250 brand new illustrations. The book has been produced to feel like the manual given to Alphans as they depart from Earth ready to take up their new position on Moonbase Alpha. PLUS pre-order yours NOW and BEFORE September 20th and get a FREE A4 sized Space: 1999 ‘Conquer the Moon’ poster and iron on Space: 1999 cloth Mission patch (120mm width) with your order.”
  • Lorde’s Work Here Is Done. Now, She Vibes. She was a teen phenom who followed her hit ‘Royals’ with a critically acclaimed album. But now 24, the New Zealand musician isn’t chasing hits. She’s following the sun.”
  • The Civilization board game pioneered epic strategy a decade before Sid Meier. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tech tree.”
  • Avatar Legends RPG designers were prepared for success, but nearly $10m on Kickstarter changed things. Magpie Games talks supply chain logistics, shielding design from bloat and contributor pay.”
  • Marchetti’s Constant“—”Cesare Marchetti, a Italian physicist, actually credited Yacov Zahavi, an Israeli transportation analyst and engineer, in his original paper about ‘invariants in travel behavior,’ published in 1994. He called Zahavi’s field work remarkable ‘because it shows the quintessential unity of traveling instincts around the world, above culture, race, and religion, so to speak,’ Marchetti wrote. Marchetti meant ‘instincts’ literally. He felt that the human propensity to spread out about as far as 30-minute jaunts could take us before retreating to our safe caves was related to an animal drive to establish an optimally sized personal territory. Jonathan English, a fellow at NYU’s Marron Institute of Urban Management and transportation policy director at Toronto Region Board of Trade, says he doesn’t fully subscribe to that theory, but the Marchetti Constant is a good rule of thumb when planners think about transit.”
  • I don’t watch sports ball, but tweet. Missing some camera shake when that giant AR thing hits the ground, tbh. Unreal Engine 5, apparently.
  • Watch, from 2019: “Alex Jones Rants as an Indie Folk Song.”
  • Mysteries of the Pythonic Temple. Learn the secrets of the Python programming language as you explore the Pythonic Temple, the last surviving structure of the fabled City of Python. Solve riddles, collect powerful artifacts, and get your computer ready to write real Python code. You can play this mission now by downloading TwilioQuest and launching the Mysteries of the Pythonic Temple mission!”
  • Tweet—”Consider this your official invitation to our spooky swinging soiree. Ghost #MuppetsHauntedMansion, our all-new Original Special, starts streaming October 8 only on @DisneyPlus! #Hallowstream.” Watch “Muppets Haunted Mansion” teaser trailer—”On Halloween night, the fearless Gonzo takes on the greatest challenge of his life by spending one very daring night in the most grim grinning place on Earth …The Haunted Mansion.” Coming to Disney+. Also, apparently Ed Asner will be appearing in a cameo role, posthumously. (As well as having reprised his Carl role from Up! in the series Dug Days.)

Omnium Gatherum: 12sept2021

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

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

  • Grievers [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by adrienne maree brown—”A tale of what happens when we can no longer ignore what has been lost in this world. Grievers is the story of a city so plagued by grief that it can no longer function. Dune’s mother is patient zero of a mysterious illness that stops people in their tracks—in mid-sentence, mid-action, mid-life—casting them into a nonresponsive state from which no one recovers. Dune must navigate poverty and the loss of her mother as Detroit’s hospitals, morgues, and graveyards begin to overflow. As the quarantined city slowly empties of life, she investigates what caused the plague, and what might end it, following in the footsteps of her late researcher father, who has a physical model of Detroit’s history and losses set up in their basement. She dusts it off and begins tracking the sick and dying, discovering patterns, finding comrades in curiosity, conspiracies for the fertile ground of the city, and the unexpected magic that emerges when the debt of grief is cleared.” Via email—”Grievers is the first release in the new Black Dawn series from AK Press!”
  • Thomas Heuvelt, made 13 notes and 13 highlights visible for Hex on Goodread. Hex [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Thomas Olde Heuvelt—”Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay ’til death. Whoever settles, never leaves. Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Muzzled, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children’s bed for nights on end. Everybody knows that her eyes may never be opened or the consequences will be too terrible to bear. The elders of Black Spring have virtually quarantined the town by using high-tech surveillance to prevent their curse from spreading. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break their strict regulations and go viral with the haunting. But, in so doing, they send the town spiraling into dark, medieval practices of the distant past. This chilling novel heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice in mainstream horror and dark fantasy.”
  • Echo [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, due February 2022—”After a terrible accident high in the Alps, travel journalist Nick Grevers wakes from a coma to find that his climbing buddy, Augustin, is missing and presumed dead. But Nick claims to not remember anything—even whatever horrible event that led to his maimed face and the plastic surgery that leaves him still in bandages and feeling like a B-movie monster.Sam, Nick’s long-suffering boyfriend, wants to be glad that Nick is alive and coming home. But the accident has stirred up terrible memories—and it’s beginning to seem that Sam isn’t just being haunted by his own mistakes or Nick’s own trauma. Because it turns out that—though Nick was the only body airlifted off that mysterious peak—he didn’t come home alone, after all. And now, their uninvited guest is awake.”
  • As if being a brain in a jar weren’t horror enough: “Scientists grow miniature brains that mimic the major pathological features of Parkinson’s disease. Recreating major pathological features of Parkinson’s disease in a lab-grown, human mini-brain will help researchers to explore new treatments. This is the first time that Lewy bodies, a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease in patients’ brains, have been produced in the laboratory, offering new insights into the disease.”
  • Oh my gods. Not murder butterflies too! “Milkweed butterflies tear open caterpillars and drink them alive.”
  • Moth wingtips an ‘acoustic decoy’ to thwart bat attack, scientists find. Wingtips of certain species of silkmoth are structured to reflect sound and throw off attackers, according to a new study.”
  • Wild cockatoos make their own cutlery sets. Discovery puts parrots on par with primates in terms of toolmaking.”—”Goffin’s cockatoos (Cacatua goffiniana) are so smart they’ve been compared to 3-year-old humans. But what 3-year-old has made their own cutlery set? Scientists have observed wild cockatoos, members of the parrot family, crafting the equivalent of a crowbar, an ice pick, and a spoon to pry open one of their favorite fruits. This is the first time any bird species has been seen creating and using a set of tools in a specific order—a cognitively challenging behavior previously known only in humans, chimpanzees, and capuchin monkeys. The work ‘supports the idea that parrots have a general [type of] intelligence that allows them to innovate creative solutions to the problems they run into in nature,’ says Alex Taylor, a biologist who studies New Caledonian crows at the University of Auckland. ‘[It] establishes this species as one of the avian family’s most proficient wild tool users.'”
  • How did artifacts, thousands of years old, turn up in a Mississippi alligator’s stomach? ‘We joked about it and said I’m probably the only person on Earth to pull an arrowhead out of an alligator’s stomach.'”
  • More on this: “Suzanne Simard. Forests Are Wired For Wisdom” a podcast episode. “Suzanne Simard is the forest ecologist who has proven, beyond doubt, that trees communicate with each other — that a forest is a single organism wired for wisdom and care. Simard found that the processes that make for a high-functioning forest mirror the maps of the human brain that we’re also just now drawing. All of this turns out to be catching up with intelligence long held in aboriginal science. She calls the mature hub trees in a forest ‘Mother Trees’ — parenting, eldering, in a mode of mutuality and reciprocity, modeling what we also know to be true of genuinely flourishing human ecosystems.” Also check out Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Suzanne Simard—”From the world’s leading forest ecologist who forever changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest—a moving, deeply personal journey of discovery. Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; she’s been compared to Rachel Carson, hailed as a scientist who conveys complex, technical ideas in a way that is dazzling and profound. Her work has influenced filmmakers (the Tree of Souls of James Cameron’s Avatar) and her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide. Now, in her first book, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths–that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complicated, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own. Simard writes–in inspiring, illuminating, and accessible ways—how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they perceive one another, learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, and remember the past; how they have agency about the future; elicit warnings and mount defenses, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication, characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies–and at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them. Simard writes of her own life, born and raised into a logging world in the rainforests of British Columbia, of her days as a child spent cataloging the trees from the forest and how she came to love and respect them—embarking on a journey of discovery, and struggle. And as she writes of her scientific quest, she writes of her own journey–of love and loss, of observation and change, of risk and reward, making us understand how deeply human scientific inquiry exists beyond data and technology, that it is about understanding who we are and our place in the world, and, in writing of her own life, we come to see the true connectedness of the Mother Tree that nurtures the forest in the profound ways that families and human societies do, and how these inseparable bonds enable all our survival.”
  • The World’s Oldest Known Forest Was Not Like We Imagined, New Study Shows“—”The fossilized web of a 385-million-year-old root network has scientists reimagining what the world’s first forests might once have looked like. The picture they have painted couldn’t be more different to what now sits in its place. Near the small town of Cairo in upstate New York, under an old highway department quarry, scientists have reconstructed the remains of what was a mighty and mature old-growth forest – home to at least three of the world’s earliest tree-like plants. Some of these initial tree ‘wannabes’ (known as cladoxylopsids) would have looked like large stalks of celery, shooting 10 meters (32 feet) into the sky. Others resembled pine trees, but with hairy, fern-like fronds for leaves (Archaeopteris). The third long-lost plant would have taken after the palm tree, with a bulbous base and canopy of fern-like branches (Eospermatopteris).”
  • NASA’s Perseverance Rover Collects Puzzle Pieces of Mars’ History.”—”NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover successfully collected its first pair of rock samples, and scientists already are gaining new insights into the region. After collecting its first sample, named ‘Montdenier,’ Sept. 6, the team collected a second, ‘Montagnac,’ from the same rock Sept. 8. Analysis of the rocks from which the Montdenier and Montagnac samples were taken and from the rover’s previous sampling attempt may help the science team piece together the timeline of the area’s past, which was marked by volcanic activity and periods of persistent water. ‘It looks like our first rocks reveal a potentially habitable sustained environment,”’said Ken Farley of Caltech, project scientist for the mission, which is led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California. ‘It’s a big deal that the water was there a long time.'”
  • Office air quality may affect employees’ cognition, productivity“—”The study also confirmed how low ventilation rates negatively impact cognitive function. Overall, the study suggests that poor indoor air quality affects health and productivity significantly more than we previously understood.”
  • Scientists Create Artificial Cells That Mimic Living Cells’ Ability to Capture, Process, and Expel Material. Synthetic Microscopic Structures Imitate Vital Function of Biological Cells.”—”Researchers have developed artificial cell-like structures using inorganic matter that autonomously ingest, process, and push out material—recreating an essential function of living cells. Their article, published in Nature, provides a blueprint for creating ‘cell mimics,’ with potential applications ranging from drug delivery to environmental science.”
  • Auto-kintsugi! “Under Loading Ceramics Self-Heal Cracks By Forming Kink-Bands. In a new study, Texas A&M researchers have discovered that a class of ceramics called MAX phases can self-heal cracks even at room temperature.”—”Ceramics are resilient to heat and extreme environments, but they are fragile and crack easily. Recently, in a study published in Science Advances, researchers at Texas A&M University have discovered a self-healing mechanism within a type of ceramics, called MAX phases. They have shown that these engineered ceramics form natural faults or kink-bands during loading that can not only effectively stop cracks from growing, but can also close and heal them, thereby preventing catastrophic failure.” Time yet to build a Firefly spaceship engine? Or, you know, maybe super high efficiency ceramic gas turbine engines that don’t shatter at speed bumps and potholes?
  • Next gen 3D printed catalysts to propel hypersonic flight. Ultra-efficient 3D printed catalysts could help solve the challenge of overheating in hypersonic aircraft and offer a revolutionary solution to thermal management across countless industries.”
  • Zero Emission Services commences operation. First emission-free inland shipping vessel on energy containers in service.”
  • “Flexible solar cells gain power. 21.4% record efficiency for flexible solar cells. A new efficiency record of 21.4% for flexible CIGS solar cell on polymer film has been achieved by scientists at Empa. Solar cells of this type are especially suited for applications on roofs, transport vehicles or mobile devices.”
  • MIT-designed project achieves major advance toward fusion energy. New superconducting magnet breaks magnetic field strength records, paving the way for practical, commercial, carbon-free power.”
  • Climeworks begins operations of Orca, the world’s largest direct air capture and CO₂ storage plant“—”Unprecedented extreme weather events have dominated the news headlines since early this year. The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cautions that the world will see more of this in years to come. The report further confirms that it is crucial to reduce our emissions drastically and remove unavoidable and historic carbon dioxide emissions from the air permanently. One month after the report was published, Climeworks launches Orca, the world’s largest direct air capture and storage plant that permanently removes CO₂ from the air.”
  • Extremely Long and Incredibly Cold. While researching the wave properties of atoms, one of the “coldest places in the universe” is created for a few seconds at the Center for Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) at the University of Bremen. The temperature record near absolute zero cannot be measured with a thermometer, however, but results from the extremely slowed motion of the observed atoms in an ultracold gas – a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEK). With the help of a newly developed matter-wave lens system, the motion could be reduced in an unprecedented way and this could be demonstrated by observing the BEK over up to two seconds in free fall in the Bremen drop tower.” Also “Quantum gas free-falls its way to a low-temperature record. A cloud of rubidium atoms is said to have achieved the coldest temperature yet after being dropped from the top of a tower.”
  • Something Mysterious Near The Galactic Center Is Flashing Radio Signals“—”As our eyes on the sky grow ever more sensitive, we’re going to find more and more things we’ve never seen before. Such is the case for a newly discovered source of radio signals, located not far from the center of the galaxy. It’s called ASKAP J173608.2-321635, and astronomers have been unable to figure out what kind of cosmic object best fits its weird properties.”
  • Drug Cocktail Reduces Aging-Associated Disc Degeneration“—”Chronic back pain affects upwards of 15 million adults in the US, racking up billions in healthcare costs and lost work days. Degeneration of the discs that cushion and support vertebrae, a common occurrence of aging, is a major contributor to low back pain. Although a widespread condition, few treatments are available. Now Jefferson’s Makarand Risbud, PhD, James J. Maguire Jr. Professor of Spine Research in orthopedic surgery, division director of orthopedic research and co-director of the cell biology and regenerative medicine graduate program, and colleagues have shown that treating mice with a drug cocktail that removes aging cells reduces disc degeneration. The findings, reported in Nature Communications on September 3rd, show how a novel approach to preventing age-related disc degeneration may pave the way for treating chronic back pain.”
  • Smart dental implants. Geelsu Hwang of the School of Dental Medicine and colleagues are developing a smart dental implant that resists bacterial growth and generates its own electricity through chewing and brushing to power a tissue-rejuvenating light.”—”Zero Emission Services (ZES) commences today with the Alphenaar, the first Dutch inland vessel to use interchangeable energy containers for propulsion. The Alphenaar sails between Alphen aan den Rijn and Moerdijk transporting beer for HEINEKEN, ZES’s first end customer.”
  • Arguably better looking than Snap Spectacles, but with less features and more surveillance: “Ray-Ban Stories. The New Way to Capture, Share & Listen. In partnership with Facebook, discover our first generation of smart sunglasses and eyeglasses that keeps you connected. So you can keep your eyes on the world around you.”
  • I mean, because, of course they did. Inception! “Facebook reportedly provided inaccurate data to misinformation researchers. The data was incomplete, potentially damaging the researchers’ work.”
  • Apple mostly wins in Epic Games Fortnite trial, but must ease payment rules. Apple defended its tight control over the iPhone and its App Store in one of the biggest legal fights of the digital age.” I mean, the fight over app store and platform control of phones and pads reminds me of how telcos escaped restrictions on bundling by moving everyone from phone lines to DSL and so on. And therein is probably the only and sufficient reason why full macOS ever won’t be offered on an iPad (or iPhones), even if it is essentially already possible, and those could be fully desktop machines in a pocket.
  • California passes landmark bill targeting Amazon’s algorithm-driven rules. The legislation would require warehouses to disclose to government agencies the quotas used to track workers.”
  • The Way Amazon Uses Tech to Squeeze Performance Out of Workers Deserves Its Own Name: Bezosism. The e-commerce giant has supercharged systems of management invented a century ago with surveillance, algorithms and data, leading to a new ‘ism’.”
  • 12 Ways Therapists Are Personally Coping With COVID Anxiety (Again). Mental health pros are stressed out about the delta variant and rising cases, too. Here’s how they deal.”—”I remind myself this isn’t my first COVID rodeo. … I practice gratitude. … I let myself process all my emotions about COVID: the good, the bad and the ugly. … I limit the amount of COVID news I consume. … I ground myself in nature. … With so much out of my control, I’m focusing on what I can control. … I try to meditate every day. … I try not to overextend myself. … I’m practicing radical acceptance. … I lean into my hobbies. … I seek harmony. … I remind myself I’m doing all I can to stay safe. …”
  • Study examines severe breakthrough cases of COVID-19“—”While researchers in the new study observed a wide range of illness severity among the fully vaccinated patients who were hospitalized and tested positive for COVID-19, more than a quarter of this group were found to have severe or critical disease. All patients with severe or critical cases — 14 in total — required supplementary oxygen support, four were admitted to the intensive care unit, and three died. These patients tended to be older — between 65 and 95 years old with a median age of 80.5 — and had preexisting comorbidities, such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. A subset of patients was also on immunosuppressive drugs that may affect vaccine efficacy.”
  • NXIVM Co-Founder Sentenced To 3 1/2 Years In Sex Slaves Case. Nancy Salzman must report to prison by Jan. 19 and also pay a $150,000 fine, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said.”
  • Arizona’s Election ‘Audit’ Isn’t Done, But Two Trump-Supporting Republicans Are Just Declaring Victory For Him Anyway. There’s no end to the Arizona audit in sight. But with other Trump backers looking to take up audits of their own, some are ready to just call it a win.”
  • Blowback. The Forever Wars Are Coming Home.”—”War, especially interminable war, does this to a nation. It makes people want to claim the sanctity of combat for themselves and to inject the stakes of conflict into their lives.”
  • Declassifying the 9/11 Investigation. President Biden says he will open up the government’s secret files about the plot, but will they answer the questions that remain?”
  • 9/11 was a test. The books of the last two decades show how America failed.“—”Deep within the catalogue of regrets that is the 9/11 Commission report — long after readers learn of the origins and objectives of al-Qaeda, past the warnings ignored by consecutive administrations, through the litany of institutional failures that allowed terrorists to hijack four commercial airliners — the authors pause to make a rousing case for the power of the nation’s character. ‘The U.S. government must define what the message is, what it stands for,’ the report asserts. ‘We should offer an example of moral leadership in the world, committed to treat people humanely, abide by the rule of law, and be generous and caring to our neighbors. . . . We need to defend our ideals abroad vigorously. America does stand up for its values.’ This affirmation of American idealism is one of the document’s more opinionated moments. Looking back, it’s also among the most ignored.”
  • Is the Imperial Game Up?“—”Twenty years ago, the United States sustained the first substantial attacks on the mainland since the War of 1812. It was a collective shock to all Americans who believed their country to be impregnable. The Cold War had produced the existential dread of a nuclear attack, but that always lurked in the realm of the maybe. On a day-to-day basis, Americans enjoyed the exceptional privilege of national security. No one would dare attack us for fear of massive retaliation. Little did we imagine that someone would attack us in order to precipitate massive retaliation.” “The commentary on this twentieth anniversary of 9/11 has been predictably shallow: how the attacks changed travel, fiction, the arts in general. Consider this week’s Washington Post magazine section in which 28 contributors reflect on the ways that the attacks changed the world.” “The subsequent entries on art, fashion, architecture, policing, journalism, and so on attempt to describe these subtler effects. Yet it’s difficult to read this special issue without concluding that 9/11 in fact didn’t change the world much at all.”
  • How the 9/11 attacks helped shape the modern misinformation, conspiracy theory industry. The sudden terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, seemed to defy explanation and occurred just as the internet started to boom. That combination spawned various conspiracy theories and made them accessible in new ways. The attacks also fueled distrust in government and fears of real and perceived enemies. Experts said the feeling of lost trust and security likely made some Americans more susceptible to conspiracy theories about 9/11 and other topics. One key accelerator of the 9/11 truth movement was an amateur documentary released online in 2005, which created a template for future videos, such as ‘Plandemic.'”
  • The 9/11 Museum Has A Problematic Legacy. Can It Be Saved? The museum’s handling of the Sept. 11 attacks has long received criticisms, which have become more glaring as the 20th anniversary approaches, scholars say.”
  • The Forgotten Black Heroes of 9/11: More Evidence of Discriminatory Denial“—”These Black heroes of 9/11 valiantly battled terrorism. But the sacrifices of these Black heroes will receive no recognition during the commemorations around America for the 20th Anniversary of what is considered the most tragic terrorist attack ever conducted on America soil. These heroes, William Parker and his colleagues, confronted terrorists on 9/11 in defense of freedom and liberty – professed pillars of democracy in America. Although badly outnumbered, these Black heroes successfully battled the armed terrorists whose onslaught included threats to employ a weapon of massive destruction. While the anti-terrorism actions of Parker and his band of Black heroes did occur on 9/11 those actions did not occur on ‘that’ 9/11. The so-called ‘Christiana Riot’ on September 11, 1851, involved Parker and his band battling a group of slave catchers from Maryland who sought return of three Blacks who fled the enslavement of a Methodist minister in Baltimore.”
  • FBI Seizes Phone Of Oath Keepers Lawyer In ‘Seditious Conspiracy’ Investigation. ‘I have so much information in there – it’s nuts,’ Kellye SoRelle told HuffPost about her iPhone.”
  • ‘Good Way to Die’: The Moonies and the Jan. 6 Insurrection“—”An AR-15 Worshipping Sect Mobilized for the Attack on the Capitol and Is Recruiting the Far Right to Its Apocalyptic Vision.” Tweet—”Donald Trump currently delivering speech at Unification Church event on a “Heavenly Unified Korea” 🥴” Tweet—”Donald Trump gave a speech tonight for the deity of the christofascist cult, The Moonies. Trump praised the authoritarian mind control cult for their “incredible story.” Totally normal stuff.” Tweet thread—”Okay everyone. “Moonies,” the authoritarian CULT I was a part of, later escaped and have been speaking out against for the last 45+ years is trending. If you want a crash course on this cult & their ties to the modern GOP, read these blogs of mine. They will catch you up. 👍” Also “Trump-loving church that uses guns in holy rituals buys compound near Waco, Texas. The cult-like group’s leader wears a crown of bullets and carries a golden AR-15″
  • Can’t run the agency tasked with controlling guns if *checks notes* you are for controlling guns. Got it. “White House Withdraws David Chipman’s Nomination To Lead ATF. Fierce opposition from gun groups and a handful of Democratic holdouts had stalled the gun control advocate’s nomination in the Senate.”
  • Justice Department Announces Legal Action Against Texas Abortion Ban. Attorney General Merrick Garland said he will pursue legal action against one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the U.S.”
  • Abortion Clinics Are Already Seeing a Wave of Patients Fleeing Texas. Clinics in the states surrounding Texas are scrambling to keep up with a surge of people desperate for abortions.”
  • ‘Roe Baby’ At Center Of Landmark Abortion Case Is Identified For 1st Time. Shelley Lynn Thornton’s birth mother was the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade. Now 51, she revealed her identity for the first time in The Atlantic.”—”Shelley Lynn Thornton, now 51, revealed herself as the so-called “Roe baby” in The Atlantic, which published an excerpt from an upcoming book about her, her birth mother, her half-sisters and the ways their lives unfolded after the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973.” The Family RoeAn American Story [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Joshua Prager, due —”A masterpiece of reporting on the Supreme Court’s most divisive case, Roe v. Wade, and the unknown lives at its heart. Despite her famous pseudonym, ‘Jane Roe,’ no one knows the truth about Norma McCorvey (1947–2017), whose unwanted pregnancy in 1969 opened a great fracture in American life. Journalist Joshua Prager spent hundreds of hours with Norma, discovered her personal papers—a previously unseen trove—and witnessed her final moments. The Family Roe presents her life in full. Propelled by the crosscurrents of sex and religion, gender and class, it is a life that tells the story of abortion in America. Prager begins that story on the banks of Louisiana’s Atchafalaya River where Norma was born, and where unplanned pregnancies upended generations of her forebears. A pregnancy then upended Norma’s life too, and the Dallas waitress became Jane Roe. Drawing on a decade of research, Prager reveals the woman behind the pseudonym, writing in novelistic detail of her unknown life from her time as a sex worker in Dallas, to her private thoughts on family and abortion, to her dealings with feminist and Christian leaders, to the three daughters she placed for adoption. Prager found those women, including the youngest—Baby Roe—now fifty years old. She shares her story in The Family Roe for the first time, from her tortured interactions with her birth mother, to her emotional first meeting with her sisters, to the burden that was uniquely hers from conception. The Family Roe abounds in such revelations—not only about Norma and her children but about the broader “family” connected to the case. Prager tells the stories of activists and bystanders alike whose lives intertwined with Roe. In particular, he introduces three figures as important as they are unknown: feminist lawyer Linda Coffee, who filed the original Texas lawsuit yet now lives in obscurity; Curtis Boyd, a former fundamentalist Christian, today a leading provider of third-trimester abortions; and Mildred Jefferson, the first black female Harvard Medical School graduate, who became a pro-life leader with great secrets. An epic work spanning fifty years of American history, The Family Roe will change the way you think about our enduring American divide: the right to choose or the right to life.”
  • Andrew Yang to launch a third party. The presidential candidate turned New York City mayoral hopeful is no longer identifying as a Democrat.”—”Yang is expected to start the party in conjunction with the Oct. 5 release of his new book, ‘Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy.'” Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy [Amazon] by Andrew Yang, due October 2021—”Despite being written off by the media, Andrew Yang’s shoestring 2020 presidential campaign—powered by his proposal for a universal basic income of $1,000 a month for all Americans—jolted the political establishment, growing into a massive, diverse movement. Now, in Forward, Yang reveals that UBI and the threat of job automation are only the beginning, diagnosing how a series of cascading problems within our antiquated systems keeps us stuck in the past—imperiling our democracy at every level. With America’s stagnant institutions failing to keep pace with technological change, we grow more polarized as tech platforms supplant our will while feasting on our data. Yang introduces us to the various ‘priests of the decline’ of America, including politicians whose incentives have become divorced from the people they supposedly serve. The machinery of American democracy is failing, Yang argues, and we need bold new ideas to rewire it for twenty-first-century problems. Inspired by his experience running for office and as an entrepreneur, and by ideas drawn from leading thinkers, Yang offers a series of solutions, including data rights, ranked-choice voting, and fact-based governance empowered by modern technology, writing that ‘there is no cavalry’—it’s up to us. This is a powerful and urgent warning that we must step back from the brink and plot a new way forward for our democracy.”
  • ‘Halloween Kills’ to Premiere on Peacock and in Theaters on the Same Day“—”“Halloween Kills,” the upcoming entry in Universal’s slasher franchise, will debut on Peacock on the same day as its theatrical release. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis as the avenging teen-babysitter-turned-grandmother Laurie Strode, ‘Halloween Kills’ is scheduled to debut on Oct. 15.” On Peacock.
  • Watch “Dexter: New Blood“, official trailer, 10 episode series on Showtime.
  • Yowie hunter Jason Heal claims he has proof yowies exist in Perth bushland“—”Every weekend Jason Heal scours bushland around Perth in search of a hairy sub-human cryptid. Heal is part of a small but growing community of cryptozoologists hunting for Australia’s version of Bigfoot – the legendary yowie.” “Now as he ramps up his search in Perth he says there is strong evidence that yowies are living in bushland on our urban fringe.”
  • Watch “Malignant“, official trailer 2, cinemas and HBO Max. Also “James Wan’s ‘Malignant’ Scores Day-and-Date Streaming Release in China (Exclusive). The deal is a rare coup for a Hollywood horror movie in China, where such titles rarely clear censorship.” Tweet—”Ok- Malignant was fun as hell, actually. I 100% respect the pure, silly insanity I just watched and encourage you to go in blind if you can.”
  • ‘Shang-Chi’ China Release Unlikely In Wake Of Unearthed Comments By Star Simu Liu; ‘The Eternals’ Hopes In Question.”
  • Watch “Lucifer“, final season trailer, on Netflix
  • Watch “Midnight Mass“, official trailer, on Netflix—”This little island, so sleepy it might be dead. The isolated community on Crockett Island experiences miraculous events – and frightening omens – following the arrival of a charismatic, mysterious young priest. An original series from Mike Flanagan come to Netflix on September, 24th.” “From The Haunting of Hill House creator Mike Flanagan, MIDNIGHT MASS tells the tale of a small, isolated island community whose existing divisions are amplified by the return of a disgraced young man (Zach Gilford) and the arrival of a charismatic priest (Hamish Linklater). When Father Paul’s appearance on Crockett Island coincides with unexplained and seemingly miraculous events, a renewed religious fervor takes hold of the community – but do these miracles come at a price?”
  • Watch “Meet The Cast Of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” on Paramount+. Notable new info includes Celia Rose Gooding as Cadet Uhura, Jess Bush as Nurse Christine Chapel, Babs Olusanmokun as Dr M’Benga, Bruce Horak as Hemmer (Pour one out for Jeffrey “I played 8 different characters across three Star Trek series” Combs’ Shran who might have been part of the crew if Enterprise had continued) and more, but, hold on to your hats, Christina Chong as La’an Noonien-Singh?! Holy moley! Whut? KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!
  • Watch “Star Trek: Picard, season 2 Star Trek Day trailer, on Paramount+. Wait. Is this a metaphor? “Q went back in time and turned our world into a totalitarian nightmare.” I mean.
  • 4 days to go: “A Humble Exclusive: RED SCREEN by Stephen King“—”RED hot off the press, a Stephen King exclusive short story: Red Screen. We’ve teamed up with legendary author Stephen King for a once in a lifetime opportunity. Presenting, Red Screen, a never before published work, exclusively available through Humble Bundle. In this unsettling short story, a cop interrogates a deranged plumber who just murdered his wife, only to discover something far more insidious. Pay what you want, and support the ACLU.”
  • How I Write Generators“—”a post about my methods for creating random tables/generators. Here it is!” “I’m always referring to my “Aspects” table, which is the “periodic table” of my generators. Having something like this is very useful because whatever topic you are making a generator or table for, it gives you a base guide for ideas.” “Because I don’t have it in me to do a d40 tables for every part of the generator I have ripped one column from my aspect table and will use that as an inspiration for a bunch of d10 tables. Hopefully you can see how I used each of these as a base for inspiration in the other tables.”
  • On Stage to Online: In a virtual avatar performing arts can be enjoyed from one’s home, but can it entirely replace the stage experience?“—”The call starts with “How are you? Do you have any special concerns or reasons for happiness?” When one replies, the person on the other end reciprocates with an evenly-balanced dialogue for the next 15 minutes. Picking up on the issues raised, the ‘poet-doctor’ reads one verse of poems related to the conversation. The verses are selected from a collection compiled as ‘Poetic Vidal’—in reference to the Vidal compendium of pharmaceutical drugs which doctors consult when prescribing medication for patients. Poetic Vidal has more than 300 poems of William Blake, Samuel Beckett, Maya Angelou, William Butler Yeats, Leonard Cohen and many more, arranged according to subjects related to love, travelling, loneliness, happiness and childhood. Once the poet-doctor has read the poems, he/she draws up a poetry prescription for the person. For example, twice a day, reads two excerpts from the Mahabharata or verses by Verlaine—the texts are sent by email. These one-on-one interactions between patients and actors by reading a selected poem is a therapeutic initiative by prominent Paris playhouse Théâtre de la Ville to keep its artistes working while the theatres remain dark.”
  • Pour one out for Benjamin. “Tasmanian Tiger in Colour. 1933 Thylacine Footage Colourised. Samuel François-Steininger has colourised footage from the NFSA collection of Benjamin, the last Tasmanian Tiger in captivity.”—”The thylacine is a carnivorous marsupial that was once widespread across Australia. It’s thought to have disappeared from the mainland about 3,000 years ago, with a population surviving on the island of Tasmania until the 20th century. When European settlers arrived, the creature was considered a pest and hunted extensively, until the last known specimen died in Hobart Zoo in 1936. It’s this last thylacine, named Benjamin, that most of us are familiar with, courtesy of a few minutes of grainy, black-and-white video. So now, the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) of Australia has had some of this footage professionally colorized.” Watch “Tasmanian Tiger in Colour“—”The NFSA has released colourised footage of the last known surviving Tasmanian tiger – or Thylacine – for National Threatened Species Day. Read more about how this black and white footage has been given a new life.”
  • Blues Clues was after my time, but I knew about it, tangentially, of course. But, watch the video at this tweet—”So about that time Steve went off to college… #BluesClues25″. All the feels.

Why are “smart” TVs so fucking stupid? Example the first.

I have a 4K TV. It happens to be one with Amazon’s Fire TV UI. Here’s how the new UI currently appears on my screen.

Amazon Fire TV UI

Wow, lots of stuff on there! But, out of all of that, here’s the useful part, and the ONLY PART of it that I actually use.

Amazon Fire TV UI Useful Part

Yeah. And, it takes no less than 4 clicks (unless it went into sleep mode again, then add a click) on the remote just to get to the FIRST useful thing on the screen, which is one the smallest elements in a tiny section of the UI.

Fucking stupid.

Omnium Gatherum: 8sept2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for September 8, 2021

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

  • Since I’ve previously mentioned Crawford book Atlas of AI, here’s something of a counterpoint: Tweet thread—”I can’t speak to @datasociety bc I avoided it like the plague after noticing the extractive and toxic nature of @katecrawford behavior. I can say that her practice of taking other people’s work as her own has been an open secret for years. 1/”
  • From 2008: Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Paul A Offit—”Vaccines save millions of lives every year, and one man, Maurice Hilleman, was responsible for nine of the big fourteen. Paul Offit recounts his story and the story of vaccines. Maurice Hilleman discovered nine vaccines that practically every child gets, rendering formerly dread diseases—including often devastating ones such as mumps and rubella—practically forgotten. Paul A. Offit, a vaccine researcher himself, befriended Hilleman and, during the great man’s last months, interviewed him extensively about his life and career. Offit makes an eloquent and compelling case for Hilleman’s importance, arguing that, like Jonas Salk, his name should be known to everyone. But Vaccinated is also enriched and enlivened by a look at vaccines in the context of modern medical science and history, ranging across the globe and throughout time to take in a fascinating cast of hundreds, providing a vital contribution to the continuing debate over the value of vaccines.”
  • The All-Consuming World [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Cassandra Khaw—”Maya has died and been resurrected into countless cyborg bodies through the years of a long, dangerous career with the infamous Dirty Dozen, the most storied crew of criminals in the galaxy, at least before their untimely and gruesome demise. Decades later, she and her diverse team of broken, diminished outlaws must get back together to solve the mystery of their last, disastrous mission and to rescue a missing and much-changed comrade . . . but they’re not the only ones in pursuit of the secret at the heart of the planet Dimmuborgir. The highly evolved AI of the galaxy have their own agenda and will do whatever it takes to keep humanity from ever regaining control. As Maya and her comrades spiral closer to uncovering the AIs’ vast conspiracy, this band of violent women—half-clone and half-machine—must battle their own traumas and a universe of sapient ageships who want them dead, in order to settle their affairs once and for all. Welcome to The All-Consuming World, the debut novel of acclaimed writer Cassandra Khaw. With this explosive and introspective exploration of humans and machines, life and death, Khaw takes their rightful place next to such science fiction luminaries as Ann Leckie, Ursula Le Guin, and Kameron Hurley.”
  • The Book of Omens: A collection of stories from the dawn of Apocrypha [Publisher] by Bobby Derie, Stephen McQuillan, Jason Schmetzer, Marc Tassin, and Phaedra Weldon, ed. Aviva Schecterson. “The omens in Apocrypha guide a ragtag collection of saints against the horrors of our modern world. In this anthology, we reveal five stories from the early days of Apocrypha, each with a new twist on the game. Enjoy this special look at the world of Apocrypha.” “P.S.: Mike wants me to tell you that the stories in this book are not part of any puzzles.”
  • Praise Boss!, by Joseph Grim Feinberg, a play based on Ernest Riebe’s comic character Mr Block, introduction Anna Hoyles, cover art by Vlocke, due December 2021—”Some people are born by mistake, some become mistakes, and some have mistakes thrust upon them. With Mr. Block, it’s a little of all three. Made infamous by Joe Hill’s eponymous song and Ernest Riebe’s cartoons, Mr. Block has written himself into labor history as the working class’s biggest blockhead. Why? Because he believes that the wage system is basically good and the bosses have his best interests at heart. At any rate it’s true that his heart is full of the bosses’ best interests. Even when he’s hit rock bottom he still thinks that if he works just a little harder he can finally make it to the top. And if hard work doesn’t work, then why not take inspiration from the bosses themselves and try making it some other way? In this new play, Mr. Block believes a slanderous rumor, which gives him the absurd idea that the way to a boss’s heart is through her heart. Will Block’s hardheaded attempts to woo her ever get him into her good graces, or even into her bad ones? Will he have any love left over for his fellow workers? Find out in Praise Boss!”
  • Those Who Can Do. Rewriting the history of literary studies, from inside the classroom.” About The Teaching Archive: A New History for Literary Study [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Rachel Sagner Buurma and Laura Heffernan—”The Teaching Archive shows us a series of major literary thinkers in a place we seldom remember them inhabiting: the classroom. Rachel Sagner Buurma and Laura Heffernan open up “the teaching archive”—the syllabuses, course descriptions, lecture notes, and class assignments—of critics and scholars including T. S. Eliot, Caroline Spurgeon, I. A. Richards, Edith Rickert, J. Saunders Redding, Edmund Wilson, Cleanth Brooks, Josephine Miles, and Simon J. Ortiz. This new history of English rewrites what we know about the discipline by showing how students helped write foundational works of literary criticism and how English classes at community colleges and HBCUs pioneered the reading methods and expanded canons that came only belatedly to the Ivy League. It reminds us that research and teaching, which institutions often imagine as separate, have always been intertwined in practice. In a contemporary moment of humanities defunding, the casualization of teaching, and the privatization of pedagogy, The Teaching Archive offers a more accurate view of the work we have done in the past and must continue to do in the future.”
  • David Graeber Was Right: A Debt Free World Is Possible. Mass debt cancellation isn’t a myth; we’re already doing it.” By Andrew Ross, author of Creditocracy and the Case for Debt Refusal [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”It seems like pretty much everybody – homeowners, students, those who are ill and without health insurance, and, of course, credit card holders – is up to their neck in debt that can never be repaid. 77% of US households are seriously indebted and one in seven Americans has been pursued by debt collectors. The major banks are bigger and more profitable than before the 2008 crash, and legislators are all but powerless to bring them to heel. In this forceful, eye-opening survey, Andrew Ross contends that we are in the cruel grip of a creditocracy – where the finance industry commandeers our elected governments and where the citizenry have to take out loans to meet their basic needs. The implications of mass indebtedness for any democracy are profound, and history shows that whenever a creditor class becomes as powerful as Wall Street, the result has been debt bondage for the bulk of the population. Following in the ancient tradition of the jubilee, activists have had some success in repudiating the debts of developing countries. The time is ripe, Ross argues, for a debtors’ movement to use the same kinds of moral and legal arguments to bring relief to household debtors in the North. After examining the varieties of lending that have contributed to the crisis, Ross suggests ways of lifting the burden of illegitimate debts from our backs. Just as important, Creditocracy outlines the kind of alternative economy we need to replace a predatory debt-money system that only benefits the 1%.” Partly about Debt: The First 5,000 Years [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by David Graeber—”The groundbreaking international best-seller that turns everything you think about money, debt, and society on its head—from the “brilliant, deeply original political thinker” David Graeber (Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things to Me). Before there was money, there was debt. For more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors—which lives on in full force to this day. So says anthropologist David Graeber in a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Renaissance Italy to Imperial China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like ‘guilt,’ ‘sin,’ and ‘redemption’) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today.”
  • More about this: “Read It and Weep: Margaret Atwood on the Intimidating, Haunting Intellect of Simone de Beauvoir.” About Inseparable: A Never-Before-Published Novel [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Simone de Beauvoir, trans. Sandra Smith, introduction by Margaret Atwood—”A never-before-published novel by the iconic Simone de Beauvoir of an intense and vivid girlhood friendship. From the moment Sylvie and Andrée meet in their Parisian day school, they see in each other an accomplice with whom to confront the mysteries of girlhood. For the next ten years, the two are the closest of friends and confidantes as they explore life in a post-World War One France, and as Andrée becomes increasingly reckless and rebellious, edging closer to peril. Sylvie, insightful and observant, sees a France of clashing ideals and religious hypocrisy—and at an early age is determined to form her own opinions. Andrée, a tempestuous dreamer, is inclined to melodrama and romance. Despite their different natures they rely on each other to safeguard their secrets while entering adulthood in a world that did not pay much attention to the wills and desires of young women. Deemed too intimate to publish during Simone de Beauvoir’s life, Inseparable offers fresh insight into the groundbreaking feminist’s own coming-of-age; her transformative, tragic friendship with her childhood friend Zaza Lacoin; and how her youthful relationships shaped her philosophy. Sandra Smith’s vibrant translation of the novel will be long cherished by de Beauvoir devotees and first-time readers alike.”
  • Lauren Groff and Rebecca Makkai Talk Literary Ethics, the Loneliness of Bodies, and Writerly Friendship.” About Matrix [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Lauren Groff—”Cast out of the royal court by Eleanor of Aquitaine, deemed too coarse and rough-hewn for marriage or courtly life, seventeen-year-old Marie de France is sent to England to be the new prioress of an impoverished abbey, its nuns on the brink of starvation and beset by disease. At first taken aback by the severity of her new life, Marie finds focus and love in collective life with her singular and mercurial sisters. In this crucible, Marie steadily supplants her desire for family, for her homeland, for the passions of her youth with something new to her: devotion to her sisters, and a conviction in her own divine visions. Marie, born the last in a long line of women warriors and crusaders, is determined to chart a bold new course for the women she now leads and protects. But in a world that is shifting and corroding in frightening ways, one that can never reconcile itself with her existence, will the sheer force of Marie’s vision be bulwark enough? Equally alive to the sacred and the profane, Matrix gathers currents of violence, sensuality, and religious ecstasy in a mesmerizing portrait of consuming passion, aberrant faith, and a woman that history moves both through and around. Lauren Groff’s new novel, her first since Fates and Furies, is a defiant and timely exploration of the raw power of female creativity in a corrupted world.”
  • Yanis Varoufakis on Alternatives to Techno-Feudal Capitalism.” Podcast episode with guest Yanis Varoufakis, author of Another Now [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”What would a fair and equal society actually look like? The world-renowned economist and bestselling author Yanis Varoufakis presents his radical and subversive answer in a work of speculative fiction that recalls William Morris and William Gibson. The year: 2035. At a funeral for Iris, a revolutionary leftist feminist, Yango is approached by Costa, Iris’s closest comrade, who urges him to carry out Iris’s last wish: plough into her secret diaries to tell their story. “But”, Costa insists ‘leave out anything that might help Big Tech replicate my technologies!’ That night Yango delves into Iris’s diaries. In them he discovers a chronicle of how Costa’s revolutionary technologies had unveiled an actually existing, fully democratized, postcapitalist society. Suddenly he understands Costa’s obsession with the hackers trying to steal his secrets. So begins Yanis Varoufakis’s extraordinary novelistic thought-experiment, where the world-famous economist offers an invigorating and deeply moving vision of an alternative reality. Another Now tells the story of Costa, a brilliant but deeply disillusioned, computer engineer, who creates a revolutionary technology that will allow the user a “glimpse of a life beyond their dreams” but will not enslave them. But an accident during one of its trial runs unveils a cosmic wormhole where Costa meets his DNA double, who is living in a 2025 very different than the one Costa is living in. In this parallel 2025 a global hi-tech uprising, begun in the wake of the collapse of 2008, has birthed a post-capitalist world in which work, money, land, digital networks and politics have been truly democratized. Banks have been eliminated, as well as predatory, data-mining digital monopolies; the gig economy is no more; and the young are free to experiment with different careers and to study ‘non-lucrative topics, from Sumerian pottery to astrophysics.’ Intoxicated, Costa travels to England to tell Iris, his old comrade, and her neighbor, Eva, a recovering banker turned neoliberal economics professor, of the parallel universe he has discovered. Costa eventually leads them back to his workshop in America where Iris and Eva meet their own doubles, and confront hard truths about themselves and the daunting political challenge that “the Other Now” presents. But, as their obsession with the Other Now deepens, time begins to run out, as the wormhole begins to deteriorate and hackers begin to unleash new attacks on Costa’s technology. The trio have to make a choice: which 2025 do they want to live in? Varoufakis has been claiming for a while that we already live in postcapitalist times. That, since the 2008 crisis, capitalism has been morphing into technofeudalism. Another Now, a riveting work of speculative fiction, shows that there is a realistic, democratic alternative to the technofeudalpostcapitalist dystopia taking shape all around us. It also confronts us with the greatest question: how far are we willing to go to bring it about?” And Talking to My Daughter About the Economy: or, How Capitalism Works—and How It Fails [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”In Talking to My Daughter About the Economy, activist Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s former finance minister and the author of the international bestseller Adults in the Room, pens a series of letters to his young daughter, educating her about the business, politics, and corruption of world economics. Yanis Varoufakis has appeared before heads of nations, assemblies of experts, and countless students around the world. Now, he faces his most important—and difficult—audience yet. Using clear language and vivid examples, Varoufakis offers a series of letters to his young daughter about the economy: how it operates, where it came from, how it benefits some while impoverishing others. Taking bankers and politicians to task, he explains the historical origins of inequality among and within nations, questions the pervasive notion that everything has its price, and shows why economic instability is a chronic risk. Finally, he discusses the inability of market-driven policies to address the rapidly declining health of the planet his daughter’s generation stands to inherit. Throughout, Varoufakis wears his expertise lightly. He writes as a parent whose aim is to instruct his daughter on the fundamental questions of our age—and through that knowledge, to equip her against the failures and obfuscations of our current system and point the way toward a more democratic alternative.”
  • The Surprisingly Big Business of Library E-books. Increasingly, books are something that libraries do not own but borrow from the corporations that do.”—”The sudden shift to e-books had enormous practical and financial implications, not only for OverDrive but for public libraries across the country. Libraries can buy print books in bulk from any seller that they choose, and, thanks to a legal principle called the first-sale doctrine, they have the right to lend those books to any number of readers free of charge. But the first-sale doctrine does not apply to digital content. For the most part, publishers do not sell their e-books or audiobooks to libraries—they sell digital distribution rights to third-party venders, such as OverDrive, and people like Steve Potash sell lending rights to libraries. These rights often have an expiration date, and they make library e-books ‘a lot more expensive, in general, than print books’” Michelle Jeske, who oversees Denver’s public-library system, told me. Digital content gives publishers more power over prices, because it allows them to treat libraries differently than they treat other kinds of buyers. Last year, the Denver Public Library increased its digital checkouts by more than sixty per cent, to 2.3 million, and spent about a third of its collections budget on digital content, up from twenty per cent the year before.”
  • “Call me a pedant, but I think of a library as a place that houses books. Books which educated opinion deems us to be the better, intellectually and spiritually, for having read. If you wonder who should be given the responsibility of deciding which those books are, wonder no more. I will do it. So call me paternalistic as well. … Don’t mistake me for a puritan. I like the lunacy of libraries. … Don’t give libraries a penny, I say, until they present themselves once more as palaces of bookish learning, for the behoof of the studious and the deranged alike.”—Howard Jacobson, Whatever It Is, I Don’t Like It (New York: Bloomsbury, 2011), pp. 10-11, quoted at Public Libraries.
  • From 2020: “Covid vaccine technology pioneer: ‘I never doubted it would work’. Katalin Karikó’s mRNA research helped pave way for Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna’s successful work.”—”The Hungarian-born biochemist who helped pioneer the research behind the mRNA technology used in the two Covid-19 vaccines showing positive results believes it was always a no-brainer. ‘I never doubted it would work,’ Katalin Karikó told the Guardian. ‘I had seen the data from animal studies, and I was expecting it. I always wished that I would live long enough to see something that I’ve worked on be approved.’ This month has been the pinnacle of Karikó’s lifelong work researching mRNA, or messenger ribonucleic acid. The 65-year-old, who left Hungary in 1985 to pursue an academic career in the US with her husband, toddler and just £900 hidden in a teddy bear, has now been suggested as a possible Nobel prize winner.”
  • Analysis unlocks secret of the Vinland Map — it’s a fake“—”The Vinland Map, once hailed as the earliest depiction of the New World, is awash in 20th-century ink. A team of conservators and conservation scientists at Yale has found compelling new evidence for this conclusion through the most thorough analysis yet performed on the infamous parchment map.” “‘The Vinland Map is a fake,’ said Raymond Clemens, curator of early books and manuscripts at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, which houses the map. ‘There is no reasonable doubt here. This new analysis should put the matter to rest.'”
  • Ancient humans turned elephant remains into a surprising array of bone tools“—”Ancient humans could do some impressive things with elephant bones. In a new study, University of Colorado Boulder archaeologist Paola Villa and her colleagues surveyed tools excavated from a site in Italy where large numbers of elephants had died. The team discovered that humans at this site roughly 400,000 years ago appropriated those carcasses to produce an unprecedented array of bone tools—some crafted with sophisticated methods that wouldn’t become common for another 100,000 years.”
  • Genetic patterns offer clues to evolution of homosexuality. Massive study finds that genetic markers associated with same-sex encounters might aid reproduction. But some scientists question the conclusions.”
  • Scientists Discover Tiny Tardigrades Trot Around Like Insects. The microscopic organism’s gait may have evolved to adapt to unpredictable terrains.”
  • A transient radio source consistent with a merger-triggered core collapse supernova“—”A core collapse supernova occurs when exothermic fusion ceases in the core of a massive star, which is typically caused by exhaustion of nuclear fuel. Theory predicts that fusion could be interrupted earlier by merging of the star with a compact binary companion. We report a luminous radio transient, VT J121001+495647, found in the Very Large Array Sky Survey. The radio emission is consistent with supernova ejecta colliding with a dense shell of material, potentially ejected by binary interaction in the centuries before explosion. We associate the supernova with an archival x-ray transient, which implies that a relativistic jet was launched during the explosion. The combination of an early relativistic jet and late-time dense interaction is consistent with expectations for a merger-driven explosion.” Also “Star-smash supernova? New type of stellar explosion possibly seen. ‘A merger-triggered supernova, I think, is just scratching the surface of what’s possible.'”
  • International Space Station facing irreparable failures, Russia warns. The International Space Station (ISS) could suffer ‘irreparable’ failures due to outdated equipment and hardware, a Russian official has warned.”
  • Rice physicists find ‘magnon’ origins in 2D magnet. Topological feature could prove useful for encoding information in electron spins. Rice physicists have confirmed the topological origins of magnons, magnetic features they discovered three years ago in a 2D material that could prove useful for encoding information in the spins of electrons.”
  • New molecular device has unprecedented reconfigurability reminiscent of brain plasticity“—”In a discovery published in the journal Nature, an international team of researchers has described a novel molecular device with exceptional computing prowess. Reminiscent of the plasticity of connections in the human brain, the device can be reconfigured on the fly for different computational tasks by simply changing applied voltages. Furthermore, like nerve cells can store memories, the same device can also retain information for future retrieval and processing.”
  • A neuroscientist shares the 6 exercises she does every day to build resilience and mental strength“—”1. Visualize positive outcomes … 2. Turn anxiety into progress … 3. Try something new … 4. Reach out … 5. Practice positive self-tweeting … 6. Immerse yourself in nature …”
  • I taught myself to lucid dream. You can too. We still don’t know much about the experience of being aware that you’re dreaming—but a few researchers think it could help us find out more about how the brain works.”
  • Female Hummingbirds Who Look Like Males Avoid Harassment, Get More Time To Eat. For the white-necked jacobin hummingbird, looking like a male comes with big perks.”
  • Why can’t it be both?! “How the Cat Gets Its Stripes: It’s Genetics, Not a Folk Tale. Researchers took a deep dive into embryonic development to tease out the source of the tabby pattern in cats.”
  • Ugh. Not now animorphs! “Animals are ‘shape shifting’ in response to climate change“—”Some warm-blooded animals are experiencing shifts in their body shapes, likely as a response to the pressures of climate change, according to a new review of existing research. Animals are getting larger beaks, legs and ears that allow them to better regulate their body temperatures as the planet gets hotter, with birds particularly affected, said Sara Ryding, a researcher at Deakin University in Australia and one of the authors of the research that published on Tuesday in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution. The biggest shifts in appendage size in the more than 30 animals they looked at in the review were among some Australian parrot species, which saw their beak size increase by 4% to 10% on average since 1871.”
  • No, on second thought, you go, animals. Adapt as quickly as you can! “Nearly 30% of 138,000 assessed species are facing extinction, group warns“—”A top international conservation agency warned that 28% of the 138,374 species identified on its “survival watchlist” as being under threat have now been moved to the more dangerous ‘red list’ — meaning they are at high risk of extinction.”
  • Lower-dose chemotherapy can be made more effective in killing HPV-induced cervical cancer cells by inhibiting a key survival factor. SMU study suggests that inhibiting the TIGAR protein is key to new treatment strategy for virus-induced cancers.”
  • Perseverance rover successfully collects first Martian sample“—”While we were enjoying the weekend, the Perseverance rover was hard at work making history on Mars. New images with better lighting reveal that the rover did, in fact, successfully collect a Martian rock sample last week. After processing and sealing, it’s the first Mars rock core sample to be stowed on the rover. It’s one of more than 30 Martian samples that will be returned to Earth by future missions in the early 2030s — and they could reveal if microbial life ever existed on Mars.” Also “Mars Rover Perseverance Appears to Have Grabbed Its First Rock Sample.”
  • Why is the color blue so rare in nature? Feeling blue? That color isn’t as common as you may think.”
  • PPPL physicist helps confirm a major advance in stellarator performance for fusion energy“—”Stellarators, twisty magnetic devices that aim to harness on Earth the fusion energy that powers the sun and stars, have long played second fiddle to more widely used doughnut-shaped facilities known as tokamaks. The complex twisted stellarator magnets have been difficult to design and have previously allowed greater leakage of the superhigh heat from fusion reactions. Now scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP), working in collaboration with researchers that include the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), have shown that the Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) device in Greifswald, Germany, the largest and most advanced stellarator in the world, is capable of confining heat that reaches temperatures twice as great as the core of the sun.”
  • Tales From the Dark Side: The Dark Tetrad of Personality, Supernatural, and Scientific Belief“—”Theories such as the psychodynamic functions hypothesis, attribution theory, and the just world theory have been used to explain different types of supernatural belief. This study aims to examine “dark” personality traits and how they link to different beliefs using the Dark Tetrad. The Dark Tetrad” comprises narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadism. Relationships have been found between dark personality traits and religious belief, but no studies have examined the Dark Triad or Tetrad and paranormal and scientific belief directly. An opportunity sample of 199 participants completed an online survey including scales measuring Dark Tetrad traits, religious and paranormal belief, and belief in science. Path analysis revealed five significant relationships. Belief in psychokinesis was negatively related to Machiavellianism, as was belief in common paranormal perceptions, which was also positively related to psychopathy. Religious belief was negatively related to psychopathy but positively related to sadism. Findings suggest some links between Dark Tetrad traits and elements of supernatural belief. The unexpected positive relationship between religiosity and sadism indicate that religious believers believe in a just world where people get what they deserve. These findings indicate that religious and paranormal experience, and dark personality are avenues for future research.”
  • Stunning image shows dark tendrils masking giant Centaurus A galaxy near Earth.”—”Scientists have captured a stunning new image of a massive galaxy ringed by dust filaments. In the image, Centaurus A, which is located more than 12 million light-years away from Earth in the southern constellation Centaurus (the centaur), ripples across space. The galaxy, which was first identified in 1826, is among the best studied in the southern sky because it is so bright and relatively close to Earth. In the image, although stars glow, swaths of the galaxy are hidden by dust tendrils looping around the galaxy’s center, where a supermassive black hole containing 55 million times the mass of the sun, hides and spews out a jet of matter that acts as a bright source of radio light.”
  • Yale researchers discover healing effects of psychedelic drug. Researchers find that one dose of psilocybin results in roughly a 10 percent increase in neuron size and density in mouse brains.”—”Yale researchers found that a single dose of the naturally occurring psychedelic compound psilocybin can cause structural changes in the brain that counteract symptoms of depression. In a paper published in the journal Neuron on Aug. 18, researchers at the Yale School of Medicine presented evidence that administering this drug to mice resulted in an approximately 10 percent increase in neuron size and density in the frontal cortex of the brain. Led by postdoctoral associate Lingxiao Shao and associate professor of psychiatry and neuroscience Alex Kwan, the team found that this ‘structural remodeling’ occurred within 24 hours of the drug administration and persisted for one month, indicating that psilocybin made long-lasting changes in the brain. ‘Psilocybin is fascinating because it has an incredibly short half-life, which means that it gets out of the body quickly and yet has long-lasting behavioral effects,’ Kwan said. ‘We’ve seen that psilocybin can be effective in treating depression and other neuropsychiatric disorders. In this study, we wanted to investigate this mystery by observing individual connections in the mouse brain.'”
  • Ugh. Not now cosmic-scale Hedorah! “Cosmic Pollution: Astronomers Show Galaxies Pump Out Contaminated Exhausts“—”Galaxies pollute the environment they exist in, researchers have found. A team of astronomers led by Alex Cameron and Deanne Fisher from the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) used a new imaging system on at the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii to confirm that what flows into a galaxy is a lot cleaner than what flows out.”
  • From the IP-over-Pidgeons dept: “An ‘Internet apocalypse’ could ride to Earth with the next solar storm, new research warns. The underwater cables that connect nations could go offline for months, the study warns.”
  • Twitch viewership noticeably dropped when streamers took a day off in protest” Twitch viewership noticeably dropped when streamers took a day off in protest. It seems as if the Twitch walkout was a success.”
  • The disastrous voyage of Satoshi, the world’s first cryptocurrency cruise ship. Last year, three cryptocurrency enthusiasts bought a cruise ship. They named it the Satoshi, and dreamed of starting a floating libertarian utopia. It didn’t work out.”
  • From the Arcosanti dept: “Plans for $400-billion new city in the American desert unveiled“—”The cleanliness of Tokyo, the diversity of New York and the social services of Stockholm: Billionaire Marc Lore has outlined his vision for a 5-million-person “new city in America” and appointed a world-famous architect to design it. Now, he just needs somewhere to build it — and $400 billion in funding. The former Walmart executive last week unveiled plans for Telosa, a sustainable metropolis that he hopes to create, from scratch, in the American desert. The ambitious 150,000-acre proposal promises eco-friendly architecture, sustainable energy production and a purportedly drought-resistant water system.”
  • From the Synthetic Pleasures dept: Watch “Las Vegas is Building the World’s Largest Sphere“, or read “Las Vegas is Building the World’s Largest Sphere“—”Known as the MSG Sphere, the USD $1.8BN spherical entertainment venue will stand 112-metres tall, contain 17,500 seats and feature the largest and highest-resolution LED screen in the world – that’s 19,000 x 13,500 pixels in case you were wondering. The screen covers an area larger than three football fields, wrapping up, over and behind the stage to give the audience a fully immersive experience that’s 100 times clearer than today’s best HD TVs. Outside, the building will be fitted with 54,000 square metres of programmable lighting giving those outside a show of their own.”
  • Facebook Apologizes After Its AI Labels Black Men As ‘Primates’“—”Facebook issued an apology on behalf of its artificial intelligence software that asked users watching a video featuring Black men if they wanted to see more “videos about primates.” The social media giant has since disabled the topic recommendation feature and says it’s investigating the cause of the error, but the video had been online for more than a year.” Tweet—If you want AI’s racist, sexist, transphobic, ableist, & otherwise bigoted & oppressive outcomes to stop, then you need to change: Your training sets; Your dev teams; Your managers; Your CEO’s; Your funding; Your research questions; Your aims; Your Beliefs; Your Values.”
  • In the future, you’ll share your work with robots… unless you’re a woman. A job is an important part of how we find happiness in our lives (even if we don’t always enjoy the work). But what if the machines start doing everything for us? Helen Russell finds out if our working days are numbered.”—”As well as driving us to work more, COVID-19 has also accelerated the move towards automation and artificial intelligence, especially for jobs with high physical proximity – from Amazon developing delivery drones to self-driving cabs. By 2050, economist Dr Carl Frey and Michael Osborne, a professor of machine learning, both at the University of Oxford, predict that at least 40 per cent of current jobs will be lost to automation, while management consultancy firm McKinsey puts the figure at 50 per cent. There are exceptions. Jobs that involve complex social interactions are beyond current robot skills: so teaching, social care, nursing and counselling are all likely to survive the AI revolution. As are jobs that rely on creativity. The same also goes for cleaning jobs, according to Frey and Osborne, due to the multitude of different objects cleaners encounter and the variety of ways those objects need to be dealt with. Interestingly, areas of the workplace traditionally dominated by women won’t be so easily adopted by AI. Nor can robots pick up the ‘second shift’ – with women still shouldering three-quarters of all unpaid care work and doing 40 per cent more household chores according to the ONS. Robots are unlikely to assist in the ‘work’ of childrearing, preparing lunchboxes and doing the laundry.”
  • The Masked Professor vs. the Unmasked Student. At universities, some instructors are finding the return to the classroom a nerve-racking experience. A few have quit — one in the middle of class.”
  • University of Mississippi Faculty Senate Votes To Mandate COVID Vaccines“—”An 89% majority of the University of Mississippi Faculty Senate voted this evening in favor of a resolution urging the administration to implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all students, faculty and staff. Only six of the body’s 54 members voted against the resolution during the Tuesday evening meeting, most of them representing the UM School of Business. Faculty members representing the school’s pharmacy and biology departments voted overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution, noting that ‘the University of Mississippi has an obligation to protect the life, health, and well-being of its students, faculty, staff, and surrounding communities.'”
  • COVID Won’t Change Higher Ed, but Anti-racism Might. Racial-justice movements in higher education offer a template for how to dislodge education’s focus on entrenching prestige.”
  • New research reveals what living with COVID-19 could look like into 2022“—”New research suggests states should move away from a COVID-19 elimination strategy. Epidemiologist Catherine Bennett says easing restrictions should not be used as a reward. She says some restrictions will be in place until the first half of 2022”
  • Pandemic once again disrupts plans for Jewish High Holy Days. At many synagogues, there will be a mix of in-person services, including indoor and outdoor options, and virtual offerings for people staying home.”
  • 3rd conservative radio host who condemned vaccines dies of Covid. Marc Bernier was a mainstay on talk radio in Daytona.”—”A conservative Florida radio host who spoke out against Covid-19 vaccines died after a weekslong fight with the virus, marking the third radio personality to die from coronavirus who publicly rejected vaccines.” “On Aug. 4, another Florida conservative radio host who had criticized the coronavirus vaccine, Dick Farrel, died from Covid-19 complications. … But the Post also reports that Farrel had changed his stance on vaccines after he became infected with Covid-19. He had reportedly urged a longtime friend to get the vaccine and regretted not getting it himself.” “Last week, Phil Valentine, a 62-year-old conservative radio host in Nashville, Tenn., who had questioned the necessity of vaccines, also died from the virus. … But like Farrel, he had reportedly changed his position on vaccines after contracting Covid-19. The radio station he was affiliated with, 99.7 WTN, posted a statement on July 23 that Valentine had been hospitalized and ‘regrets not being more vehemently ‘Pro-Vaccine.””
  • Ugh. Not now panspermia! “Viruses may exist ‘elsewhere in the universe’, warns scientist. Prof Paul Davies suggests viruses may form vital part of ecosystems on other planets.” Also, Ripley was right. Don’t break containment.
  • Tweet thread—”This is a good point. When anti-vaxxers cite their freedoms, constitutional rights, and–the whitest thing of all–the Founding Fathers to rail against vaccine mandates, do they know what they’re talking about? What if I told you this happens EXACTLY every 100 years? A thread.”
  • Timothy Leary’s Castalia Foundation Has Been Co-opted to Promote Conspiracy Theories about COVID and Elite Pedophile Rings. The Castalia Foundation—originally founded in part by Timothy Leary—’resurfaced’ in 2020 with anti-mask content, praise for Donald Trump, and paranoid discussion around the sexual abuse of children.”
  • From the !? dept: “We Have to Talk About Doubt. How to tell the difference between scientific and conspiratorial skepticism.”
  • Are We Serious About Critical Thinking?“—”In 1979 philosopher Douglas Stalker (University of Delaware, now retired) adopted the stage persona Captain Ray of Light, a pseudo-science hawking speaker whose humorous presentations educated his audience about pseudo-science and poor thinking.” “Ironically, the man who once dressed up in a dollar-sign-adorned costume to satirize pseudo-science doesn’t think that we’re ‘serious’ about improving how people think.”
  • “Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.”—Jean-Paul Sarte, Anti-Semite and Jew, quoted at Sartre on far right speaking in bad faith
  • Media Literacy Standards to Counter Truth Decay“—”Truth Decay—the diminishing role that facts, data, and analysis play in political and civic discourse—has in part been fueled by a complex and rapidly evolving media and technology ecosystem. For those interested in countering Truth Decay, media literacy (ML)—the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and act using all forms of communication—has emerged as a potentially powerful tool. But the lack of specificity regarding ML competencies can challenge teachers, policymakers, curriculum developers, advocates, and researchers hoping to understand what kinds of ML education work best and how ML education can be implemented effectively. There is also no shortage of ML-relevant standards. The large number of existing standards can be an additional challenge for stakeholders trying to understand how to define ML for themselves and to determine what competencies are most important to their work. This report, part of the Countering Truth Decay initiative, describes how the authors synthesized myriad existing standards using the lens of Truth Decay—drawing from standards in ML, digital literacy, information literacy, news literacy, social and emotional learning, and other areas—to identify a single, concise set of ML standards.”
  • Mexico’s Supreme Court Votes to Decriminalize Abortion. The ruling, which sets a precedent for the legalization of abortion nationwide, follows years of efforts by a growing women’s movement in Mexico.” Also, uh oh: “Mexico Hit by Powerful EarthquakeMagnitude 7.1 quake struck near the resort city of Acapulco, killing at least one person.”
  • Richmond bar manager ‘praying’ expiration of pandemic unemployment benefits brings people to work.”
  • Inside The Family. Bias, Theocracy, and Lies at the National Prayer Breakfast.”—”For nearly 70 years, and even in this moment of surging Christian nationalism, Democrats and Republicans have set aside their differences once a year to join in an event for fellowship and reconciliation: The National Prayer Breakfast. The breakfast and the secretive religious group behind the scenes, popularly known as The Family, have been the subject of scandal over the years. Most notably, journalist Jeff Sharlet exposed the group’s theocratic, anti-labor origins, and revealed The Family’s role in Ugandan capital punishment legislation for gay people. More recently, the FBI caught Russian operatives using the breakfast to pursue back-channel connections with U.S. politicians. But despite its dealings with international powers, The Family still enjoys the invisibility to which it attributes its influence. We’ve never had a full accounting of who works for The Family or even just who gets to attend the National Prayer Breakfast, let alone who decides. Until now.”
  • Joe Manchin’s Dirty Empire. The West Virginia Senator Reaps Big Financial Rewards From a Network of Coal Companies With Grim Records of Pollution, Safety Violations, and Death.”
  • John Roberts has lost control of the Supreme Court“—”The Supreme Court’s dramatic 5-4 action leaving a Texas abortion ban in place at midnight Wednesday establishes that the Roberts Court no longer is Roberts’ Court. Chief Justice John Roberts dissented with three liberal justices in what could be regarded as the least considered but most consequential case in years. Since Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the court last October and he lost his position at the ideological center of the bench, Roberts has been on the dissenting side in a handful of close cases. But the Texas abortion controversy arguably marked his most significant loss to date.”
  • Republicans Are Using Fear of Eugenics to Attack Reproductive Rights. Cute kids with Down syndrome, like my son, should never be an excuse to deny access to an abortion.”
  • The Legal Minds Who Tried to Overturn the Election for Trump Are Being Welcomed Back Into Polite Society“—”On the right, within the Federalist Society, and even among others who apparently value civility over preserving democracy, some are quietly welcoming back into the fold those who would have stolen the election for Trump or who fomented the violent Jan. 6 insurrection. Most appear to be doing so not because they supported the insurrection or Trump’s ridiculous claims, but out of willful ignorance of the facts, or in the name of civility or free speech. It’s a mistake, and it’s taking us down a dangerous path.”
  • It’s Time to Put the Right-Wing Zombie Death Cult on Trial. This isn’t a ‘both sides’ problem. And Joe Biden is just scratching the surface so far.”
  • How a Small Town Silenced a Neo-Nazi Hate Campaign. A Montana town reflects on its effort to drive former President Donald J. Trump’s extremist supporters back to the fringes.”
  • A Very British Coup? Former Royal Navy Trident Submarine Commander Assesses.”—”Dr Andrew Corbett, of the Joint Services Command and Staff College, delves into evidence that the Government is actively undermining British democracy
  • “Past Imperfect, Part One. Astroturfing History.”—”As the battles of Brexit morph into a culture war, Otto English detects a pattern among the ‘concerned citizens’ demanding Britain ‘takes back control’ of its past.”
  • Tweet—”In a consumerist society where companies are allowed to make pseudoscientific nutritional claims to sell people bogus health products you’re likely to create a culture where everyone thinks they’re an expert on health science, and ignores public health guidance during a pandemic.”
  • Afghanistan’s young musicians, long targeted and persecuted by the Taliban, fear what comes next.” And “Afghan artists flee Kabul, fearing for their lives and dire future for art in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.”
  • ‘I think I’ve accidentally joined a cult’. Alex’s Bible classes started taking over his life. Then he found out who was pulling the strings.”
  • Jim Jarmusch’s Collages.”
  • From the Better to Burn Out than Fade Away dept: “Priests fear bishop is possessed after he falls for writer of satanic erotica. Sources say the Pope told Xavier Novell to undergo an exorcism after he began relationship with author Silvia Caballol and quit his duties.”
  • ‘What is this if not magic?’ The Italian man living as a hobbit. After building his own version of Middle-earth, Nicolas Gentile has thrown a ‘ring’ into Mount Vesuvius.” Also “An Italian pastry chef built his version of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ Shire and has been living like a real-life hobbit for 3 years. Nicolas Gentile, a 37-year-old Italian pastry chef, has been living like a hobbit for three years. He even made a 180-mile trek to Mount Vesuvius to toss a replica of the One Ring into its crater. Members of his group dressed up as the ‘Lord of the Rings’ characters Gimli, Legolas, and Aragorn.”
  • Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke and the Labor of Creativity.”—”Be wary of those who fetishize the difficulties of their own creative process. One does not need to shirk the healthy levels of their own emotional and physical well-being to make a work that would add meaning and clarity to the world. The human life is composed of such limited currency. Spend it wisely, and in pursuit of a balance of passions. Take care of yourself. Such is the contemporary wisdom on work ethic; for the most part a good and healthy redirection of cultural norms. But like any maxim or ideal, it does not apply to all. There are those for whom a life’s balance cannot be struck. Those that, due to whatever mysterious confluence of personal/societal history and chemical composition have created them, for whom work is life. Whether it makes them happy or not. Whether or not they sleep at night satisfied. Their waking moments have been and will continue to be dedicated to that Thing, whatever it may be.”
  • Neologism watch: Girlie Guns! “China Bans Effeminate Men On TV, Part of A Campaign To Tighten Social Control“—”Broadcasters must “resolutely put an end to sissy men and other abnormal esthetics,” the TV regulator said, using an insulting slang term for effeminate men — niang pao, or literally, ‘girlie guns.’ That reflects official concern that Chinese pop stars, influenced by the sleek, girlish look of some South Korean and Japanese singers and actors, are failing to encourage China’s young men to be masculine enough. Broadcasters should avoid promoting ‘vulgar internet celebrities’ and admiration of wealth and celebrity, the regulator said. Instead, programs should ‘vigorously promote excellent Chinese traditional culture, revolutionary culture and advanced socialist culture.'”
  • Gay history exhibit removed from museum at Missouri Capitol“—”The removal amid political pressure of a temporary display in the Missouri Capitol Museum commemorating the struggle for LGBT rights in Kansas City is just the latest example of the Republican war on the truth. Only scared people with small minds feel threatened by historical facts that challenge them to reevaluate what they think they know. The state Capitol belongs to all Missourians, and all Missourians deserve to have their history represented in it. This display must be reinstated immediately.”
  • Virginia high court rules for teacher who won’t use transgender students’ pronouns. The northern Virginia gym teacher said he would not refer to transgender students by the pronouns they use, citing his religious convictions.”
  • Halsey Succinctly Shuts Down An Accusation Of Catholic Cultural Appropriation On Her New Album“—”The cover art of Halsey’s new album If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power certainly generated a lot of attention upon its reveal, largely because it’s so revealing, specifically as it pertains to Halsey’s body. Now it has drawn a bit of criticism, as there’s at least one writer who views the art as cultural appropriation of the Catholic church.” “Halsey caught wind of this on Twitter and made her silent argument by sharing a childhood photo of herself. Based on her outfit and apparent age in the photo, it appears the photo is from Halsey’s first communion or confirmation, two sacraments of initiation in the Catholic church. The implication being made, it would seem, is that Halsey doesn’t believe she is appropriating Catholicism, since she herself had a Catholic upbringing.”
  • ‘They’ve Been Trying To Cancel Me For Years’ Says Star Trek’s Deanna Troi.”
  • Thandiwe Newton Slams Star Wars for Killing off Her Character in Solo. ‘You don’t kill off the first Black woman to ever have a real role in a Star Wars movie. Like, are you fucking joking?'”
  • The New Puritans. Social codes are changing, in many ways for the better. But for those whose behavior doesn’t adapt fast enough to the new norms, judgment can be swift—and merciless.”
  • Michelle Yeoh: ‘Jackie Chan thought women belonged in the kitchen – until I kicked his butt’. The kung fu goddess talks about her most eye-popping stunts, her yearning to do another Crazy Rich Asians, and her outrageously enjoyable new Marvel movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”
  • Watch “Reviving the Aboriginal cultural tradition of possum skin cloaks“—”Possum skin cloaks have been used by Aboriginal people in south-east Australia as an expression of individual identity. But the traditional practice was almost lost after colonisation. Mitch Mahoney, 24, spoke about why he’s helping to drive its resurgence.”
  • Blades in the Dark tabletop RPG being developed for TV. Peaky Blinders mixed with Ocean’s Eleven, seasoned with Gothic horror.”
  • Watch “Life Beyond 3: Official Trailer” from Melodysheep
  • Um. This is both interesting and unnerving. This is basically animal torture. But fascinating? From the Cross of a Frog dept: “I WAS BORN IN A GLASS!” They spent three years trying to hatch chickens outside of their shells.
  • Watch “The Wheel Of Time“, official teaser trailer, coming to Prime Video in December. Also “Amazon’s Wheel of Time show is finally revealed in its first trailer. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.”
  • TwilioQuest. DISCOVER YOUR POWER TO CHANGE THE WORLD WITH CODE. Learn to code and lead your intrepid crew on a mission to save The Cloud in TwilioQuest, a PC role-playing game inspired by classics of the 16-bit era. Free forever, and available now for Windows, Mac, and Linux.”
  • Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator, due Sept 21—”Potion Craft is an alchemist simulator where you physically interact with your tools and ingredients to brew potions. You’re in full control of the whole shop: invent new recipes, attract customers and experiment to your heart’s content. Just remember: the whole town is counting on you.”
  • What started out online Nov 2020: “Dave Grohl VS Nandi Bushell EPIC Drum Battle – Dead End Friends – Them Crooked Vultures – Checkmate!” Became real Aug 2021: “Live Performance Dave Grohl and Nandi Bushell at The Forum LA jamming Everlong with Foo Fighters” (quality is a little low, but it’s film by her father. Here’s a 4k version with better audio.)
  • Watch “How This Heavy Metal Band TRANSFORMED The 70s With This Hard Rock Anthem“—”How Black Sabbath changed radio forever with Paranoid from their second album of the same name. They needed 3 more minutes of music to finish the album. Instead of simply jamming together for 3 inconsequential minutes as their producer suggested, Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward created a track that inadvertently affected the future of rock & roll in the early 70s, Originally they were going to call the album War Pigs.”
  • Watch “Girl, 4, finds colonies of rare stingless bees in California neighborhood“—”A 4-year-old girl with a knack for nature found two colonies of rare stingless bees. Scientists thought these creatures were long gone and that no adult had managed to notice. Dana Jacobson reports from Palo Alto, California.”
  • Samurai, ninja, and anime butlers join dinosaur staff at Tokyo’s ‘Weird Hotel’“—”Say hello to the future of contact-free check-in. If you’re looking for a weird hotel to stay at in Japan, you can’t go past Hen na Hotel, a chain whose name literally translates to ‘Weird Hotel’. What makes their hotels so strange is the fact that instead of humans at the reception desk, guests are greeted by holograms and robot dinosaurs. Now, there’s a new branch opening at Kokubuncho in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, and at this location there are some new “weird” staff members on hand to help guests as well.”
  • Happy Star Trek Day! Watch “Star Trek: Prodigy“, main title sequence, coming to Paramount+. “… STAR TREK: PRODIGY is the first ‘Star Trek’ series aimed at younger audiences and will follow a motley crew of young aliens who must figure out how to work together while navigating a greater galaxy, in search for a better future. These six young outcasts know nothing about the ship they have commandeered – a first in the history of the Star Trek Franchise – but over the course of their adventures together, they will each be introduced to Starfleet and the ideals it represents.”
  • Also for Star Trek Day: Playmobil Star Trek – U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701, $499.99. “Beam us up, Scotty! Discover the impressive U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 in a whole new light with the interactive Star Trek AR app from Playmobil! Explore the legendary starship, with its iconic bridge and engineering. Interact with her famous crew, featuring Captain Kirk, Spock, Uhura, McCoy, Sulu, Scotty and Chekov. Have fun recreating iconic scenes from the original series show, or set off on new adventures. With a removable roof, the entire bridge and crew are playable! Equipped with lighting effects and original sounds and dialogue from the show, you too can join the adventure of the Enterprise’s historic five-year mission. Dimensions: 39.4 x 18.9 x 13.4 in (LxWxH)”
  • Watch “ABBA announce new album Voyage and spectacular new live show“—”With their first new album in 40 years heading to stores on November 5, ABBA give us a detailed look behind the scenes of their groundbreaking new live show ABBA Voyage, due to launch in May 2022.” Watch “ABBA – I Still Have Faith In You.”
  • Watch “The Wave-Soaked Maiden — a Sea Shanty // Songs to Drown Sailors To”—”She said to him, come closer sir, and I’ll eat you alive / Da da da da, da da da da, I’ll eat you alive / Beware the wave-soaked maidens, to whom the depths belong / If you sail upon their waters, then you won’t sail for long.”

Omnium Gatherum: 5sept2021

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

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

  • ‘Kill Every Buffalo You Can!’ On the Cruelties of Colonial Power” Excerpt from Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Rupa Marya and Raj Patel—”Raj Patel, the New York Times bestselling author of The Value of Nothing, teams up with physician, activist, and co-founder of the Do No Harm Coalition Rupa Marya to reveal the links between health and structural injustices–and to offer a new deep medicine that can heal our bodies and our world. The Covid pandemic and the shocking racial disparities in its impact. The surge in inflammatory illnesses such as gastrointestinal disorders and asthma. Mass uprisings around the world in response to systemic racism and violence. Rising numbers of climate refugees. Our bodies, societies, and planet are inflamed. Boldly original, Inflamed takes us on a medical tour through the human body—our digestive, endocrine, circulatory, respiratory, reproductive, immune, and nervous systems. Unlike a traditional anatomy book, this groundbreaking work illuminates the hidden relationships between our biological systems and the profound injustices of our political and economic systems. Inflammation is connected to the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the diversity of the microbes living inside us, which regulate everything from our brain’s development to our immune system’s functioning. It’s connected to the number of traumatic events we experienced as children and to the traumas endured by our ancestors. It’s connected not only to access to health care but to the very models of health that physicians practice. Raj Patel, the renowned political economist and New York Times bestselling author of The Value of Nothing, teams up with the physician Rupa Marya to offer a radical new cure: the deep medicine of decolonization. Decolonizing heals what has been divided, reestablishing our relationships with the Earth and one another. Combining the latest scientific research and scholarship on globalization with the stories of Marya’s work with patients in marginalized communities, activist passion, and the wisdom of Indigenous groups, Inflamed points the way toward a deep medicine that has the potential to heal not only our bodies, but the world.”
  • Steve Killelea on the Possibilities of ‘Positive Peace’.” Podcast with guest Steve Killelea, author of Peace in the Age of Chaos: The Best Solution for a Sustainable Future [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”While COVID-19 is reshaping our lives, this must-read book for 2021 provides some of the answers to our most pressing global challenges. Unless the world is basically peaceful, we will never get the trust, cooperation and inclusiveness to solve these issues, yet what creates peace is poorly understood. Working on an aid program in one of the most violent places in the world, North East Kivu in the DR Congo, philanthropist and business leader Steve Killelea asked himself, ‘What are the most peaceful nations?’ Unable to find an answer, he created the world’s leading measure of peace, the Global Peace Index, which receives over 16 billion media impressions annually and has become the definitive go to index for heads of state. Steve Killelea then went on to establish world-renowned think tank, the Institute for Economics and Peace. Today its work is used by organisations such as the World Bank, United Nations and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and taught in thousands of university courses around the world. Peace in the Age of Chaos tells of Steve’s personal journey to measure and understand peace. It explores the practical application of his work, which is gathering momentum at a rapid pace. In this time when we are faced with environmental, social and economic challenges, this book shows us a way forward where Positive Peace, described as creating the optimal environment for human potential to flourish, can lead to a paradigm shift in the ways societies can be managed, making them more resilient and better capable of adapting to their changing environments.”
  • Simone de Beauvoir’s Lost Novel of Early Love. Her passion for a doomed friend was so strong that Beauvoir wrote about it again and again.” About Inseparable: A Never-Before-Published Novel [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Simone de Beauvoir, trans. Sandra Smith, introduction by Margaret Atwood—”A never-before-published novel by the iconic Simone de Beauvoir of an intense and vivid girlhood friendship. From the moment Sylvie and Andrée meet in their Parisian day school, they see in each other an accomplice with whom to confront the mysteries of girlhood. For the next ten years, the two are the closest of friends and confidantes as they explore life in a post-World War One France, and as Andrée becomes increasingly reckless and rebellious, edging closer to peril. Sylvie, insightful and observant, sees a France of clashing ideals and religious hypocrisy—and at an early age is determined to form her own opinions. Andrée, a tempestuous dreamer, is inclined to melodrama and romance. Despite their different natures they rely on each other to safeguard their secrets while entering adulthood in a world that did not pay much attention to the wills and desires of young women. Deemed too intimate to publish during Simone de Beauvoir’s life, Inseparable offers fresh insight into the groundbreaking feminist’s own coming-of-age; her transformative, tragic friendship with her childhood friend Zaza Lacoin; and how her youthful relationships shaped her philosophy. Sandra Smith’s vibrant translation of the novel will be long cherished by de Beauvoir devotees and first-time readers alike.”
  • On the Art of the Query: How the Best Kinds of Questions Move Beyond Objectivity.” About Paper Concert: A Conversation in the Round [Amazon, Bookshop, Local Library] by Amy Wright—”In her opening, Amy Wright explains: ‘This essay anchors a central thread of dialogue over a dizzying divide. It weaves a decades-plus-worth of questions and answers from a range of discussions I’ve had with artists, activists, scientists, philosophers, physicians, priests, musicians, and other representatives of the human population. Some of them are famous, some will be, some should be–but all of them refract the light of the unknowable mystery of the self.’ Folding together conversations from a vast web of thinkers like Dorothy Allison, Rae Armantrout, Gerald Stern, Lia Purpura, Raven Jackson, Wendy Walters, Kimiko Hahn, Philanese Slaughter, and many, many more, Paper Concert depicts every individual as a collective in dire need of preservation. If this book is a paper concert, it is a symphony. Just pull up a chair and listen.”
  • How an Irish Syntactical Peculiarity Helped Me Find My Protagonist’s Voice.” About Moon and the Mars [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Kia Corthron—”In Moon and the Mars, set in the impoverished Five Points district of New York City in the years 1857-1863, we experience neighborhood life through the eyes of Theo from childhood to adolescence, an orphan living between the homes of her Black and Irish grandmothers. Throughout her formative years, Theo witnesses everything from the creation of tap dance to P.T. Barnum’s sensationalist museum to the draft riots that tear NYC asunder, amidst the daily maelstrom of Five Points work, hardship, and camaraderie. Meanwhile, white America’s attitudes towards people of color and slavery are shifting—painfully, transformationally—as the nation divides and marches to war. As with her first novel, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter, which was praised by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Robin D.G. Kelley, and Angela Y. Davis, among many others, Corthron’s use of dialogue brings her characters to life in a way that only an award-winning playwright and scriptwriter can do. As Theo grows and attends school, her language and grammar change, as does her own vocabulary when she’s with her Black or Irish families. It’s an extraordinary feat and a revelation for the reader.”
  • The 100-year-old fiction that predicted today. Two cult authors both wrote about human nature – and the dystopian horrors that technology can unleash. Dorian Lynskey explores the parallel lives of the writers whose work still resonates.” About Karel Čapek’s R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We.
  • Who Was Mary Shelley, Daughter?“—”I am neither daughter, nor mother, all mess, no myth. I am fertile loess floating on the wind, dreaming of […] a world where everyone is equal, deserves to be happy, and feel loved.”
  • “Few things convince a man of the vanity of life more than relocating his library. What am I carrying all this lumber around with me for? Into boxes, out of boxes. Why am I breaking my back for them? Throwing away money on removalists, on shelves. Why am I repeating patterns of ownership that have served me only fitfully in the past?” “How do you explain to somebody who doesn’t understand that you don’t build a library to read. A library is a resource. Something you go to, for reference, as and when. But also something you simply look at, because it gives you succour, answers to some idea of who you are or, more to the point, who you would like to be, who you will be once you own every book you need to own.”—Howard Jacobson, Whatever It Is, I Don’t Like It (New York: Bloomsbury, 2011), pp. 100-101, quoted at Building a Library
  • Drop in Greenhouse Gas Caused Global Cooling 34 Million Years Ago, Study Finds“—”Global warming’s symptoms vary wildly from hurricanes and flooding to desertification and fires. But all come from the buildup of gasses like carbon dioxide. The more carbon dioxide there is in the atmosphere, the warmer the world gets. Now, researchers have shown the opposite is also true.”
  • Thousands of Rare Artifacts Discovered Beneath Tudor Manor’s Attic Floorboards. Among the finds are manuscripts possibly used to perform illegal Catholic masses, silk fragments and handwritten music.”—”As devout Catholics, the Bedingfelds were ostracized for their faith, particularly after Elizabeth I succeeded to the throne in 1558. The year after the Protestant queen’s ascension, Sir Henry Bedingfeld refused to sign the Act of Uniformity, which outlawed Catholic mass, according to the statement. During the Elizabethan period, many Catholic clergy were imprisoned, tortured and killed. The Bedingfelds hid men of the cloth in a secret “priest hole” at their home and participated in secret masses, per the Times. The religious artifacts discovered in the attic may have been used in these illegal services.” Also “Archaeologist discovers rare items under the floor of a Tudor house.
  • An Astronaut Captured the Southern Lights Under a Full Moon and They’re Stunning. An archaeologist working alone through lockdown in the attic rooms of Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk has uncovered one of the largest underfloor archaeology hauls of its type in a National Trust house.”
  • Star Explodes After Black Hole Devours It From the Inside“—”Astronomers have observed the signs of a star swallowing a compact object that they believe is a black hole, and that object then devouring the star’s core from the inside. The process resulted in an explosion that left the star obliterated and the black hole standing alone. The gruesome cosmic event, that occurred in a dwarf star-forming galaxy 480 million light-years from Earth, resulted in a powerful burst of radio energy as bright as one that would normally be associated with an exploding star or supernova. This energetic burst was picked up by the 27 antennae that comprise the Very Large Array (VLA) telescope located in the desert of New Mexico in 2017. What made this signal worthy of further investigation was the fact that it hadn’t been present in earlier radio surveys, indicating a sudden and violent cosmic event had occurred.”
  • “It remains to speak of the single most important feature of his scholarly work, his insistence on context. If one reads his reviews, it is clear that this is his chief critical weapon: does the context in which each piece of evidence is found support the interpretation which the author has given it? In his own work he returns again and again to the question of context as decisive for the meaning and importance of a given fact or quotation. It was a characteristic which he shared with both archaeologists and literary critics, and it saved him from the fate of many polymaths: his work never became a mere jackdaw’s nest of accumulated learning; nor did he construct theories (or allow others to construct theories) based on disparate bits of evidence which, when one examined their context, did not really fit together.”—Zeph Stewart, Introduction to Arthur Darby Nock, Essays on Religion and the Ancient World, Vol. I (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1972), p. 4, quoted at Context.
  • Fighting brain cancer at its root. Overcoming glioblastoma tumours’ resistance to therapy.”—”McGill University researchers identify proteins that drive cancer stem cells. Targeting and supressing a particular protein called galectin1 could provide a more effective treatment for glioblastoma, in combination with radiation therapy. Due to its resistance to therapy, glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive cancerous brain tumour in adults. It grows fast and spreads quickly. While treatments such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy can help ease symptoms for a few months, in most cases tumour cells regrow after treatment and the cancer recurs. According to the researchers, no matter how low the weeds are cut, if the roots are not pulled out, the weeds will just grow back.”
  • Stanford researchers make rechargeable batteries that store six times more charge. A new type of rechargeable alkali metal-chlorine battery developed at Stanford holds six times more electricity than the commercially available rechargeable lithium-ion batteries commonly used today.”
  • From the Sisyphus dept: watch “Introducing Energy Vault“—”Energy Vault launches its breakthrough energy storage system. Our explainer video demonstrates how we intend to power the world by renewable resources with a solution that can compete with fossil fuels.” Also “Watch: Gravity-based renewable energy storage tower for grid-scale operations. Energy Vault secured $100 million in Series C funding for its EVx tower, which stores gravitational potential energy for grid dispatch.”
  • The Persistent Gravity of Cross Platform“—”Each time a cross-platform app has found itself in the crosshairs of the internet, I hear a variant of this question: ‘What is it about enterprise companies that make so many of them abandon native apps, when they could surely afford to develop one app for each platform?’ Well excellent question, synthetic rhetorical person! In practice, the tradeoff is about more than ‘cheap vs. good’. Unintuitively, sometimes native tech can actually be the cheapest way to achieve a certain goal, and sometimes cross-platform technologies actually lead to better products, even for very well-funded companies. So what is a useful way to think about the tradeoff? Over the last decade I’ve talked to people at hundreds of companies about how they’re developing and supporting apps, helping them evaluate and plan native and cross-platform app work. While there are a lot of factors that go into this technology decision, there’s one that I think is particularly illuminating.”
  • Crypto’s Rapid Move Into Banking Elicits Alarm in Washington. The boom in companies offering cryptocurrency loans and high-yield deposit accounts is disrupting the banking industry and leaving regulators scrambling to catch up.”
  • This NFT Painting Is a Work of Art. Machines are the new descendants of Picasso.”—”The point is not whether we can distinguish AI-created music from human music but whether machines will be able to create music of their own, music we cannot imagine.”
  • Neither Windows, nor Linux! Shrine is ‘God’s Operating System’“—”We’ve all used multiple operating systems in our lives. Some were good and some were bad. But can you say that you’ve ever used an operating system designed by God? Today, I’d like to introduce you to Shrine.”
  • A COVID-19 Mask That Kills the Virus? Scientists Say Yes.”—”But what if there was a face mask that could kill the virus? A group of researchers at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) say that’s exactly what they invented. The scientists from UNAM’s Materials Research Institute say they have developed a triple-layered antimicrobial face covering. They named the new technology ‘SakCu’ — a combination of ‘Sak,’ the word for silver in Mayan, and ‘Cu,’ the chemical symbol for copper.”
  • I mean, at some point, we’re going to get to Omega, figuratively and literally. “COVID-19: Mu Variant Detected in 47 US States and DC.”
  • Oh, Vantuky, don’t you ever change. “Three Schools Forced Into Lockdown After Anti-Masker Proud Boys Try to Infiltrate. Local members of the Proud Boys attempted to escort a student seeking an exemption from the mask requirement into the school.”
  • Finally, some good news! “The Pandemic Turned Me Into a Witch“—”Growing up Catholic, I attended Catechism, a weekly religious school where I was constantly in trouble for giggling. (Like that time a priest was illustrating how large the ceremonial pillar candle was by, uh, using a long stroking motion with his hands.) There, I was taught that witchcraft was sinful. Now, in a store dedicated to witches, I felt like I was getting to enjoy, wait for it, a forbidden fruit.”
  • COVID-19 NEWS: For Many, Long COVID Looks a Lot Like Chronic Fatigue“—”A team of researchers, including two from Johns Hopkins Medicine, have published a review article highlighting similarities between certain lingering symptoms following COVID-19 illness — a condition called “long COVID” — and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), a debilitating, complex disorder previously known as chronic fatigue syndrome. The researchers say the symptoms shared by the two conditions may involve a biological response that goes haywire when the body encounters certain infections or other environmental hazards.”
  • This is a wild trip. I deny the premise that reasonable public health policy is authoritarian just because some don’t like it and won’t do the right thing for the collective good without it, but this is a wild ride to watch the author tumble around on. “Can authoritarianism ever be justified? China may have performed better than many democratic countries on Covid-19, but good government can’t be sustained without public scrutiny.”—”There is no question that a good government works for its people. A good government helps its citizens thrive – ideally not at the expense of citizens of other countries, but in cooperation with them and with the interests of future generations in mind. A bad government, by contrast, sacrifices the interests of its citizens to satisfy the greed of a small elite. But is a democratic government always best placed to work for the people, or does working for the people sometimes favour bypassing democratic control? That’s a puzzle worth addressing in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, and there are reasons to think that the picture is more complicated than the service objection to authoritarianism suggests.” I mean, maybe wearing a mask and getting vaxxed needs to become codified as a new religious rule, like a religious health policy prohibition against pork, then they’ll love doing it and think everyone else should too?
  • UGA professor resigns mid-class after student refuses to wear mask“—”Bernstein asked the student to pull her mask up to wear it correctly, but she said she “couldn’t breathe” and “had a really hard time breathing” with the cloth over her mouth and nose. Written on the board at the front of the classroom was, “No mask, no class,” according to fourth-year psychology major Hannah Huff. The 88-year-old psychology professor explained to the student that he could die from COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and age-related problems, Bernstein said in an email to The Red & Black.” “Bernstein, who was already informed that two of his absent students tested positive for COVID-19, then announced his resignation on the spot and left the class immediately.”
  • “Anyone has the right to be stupid, but not to demand that we respect his stupidities.”—Nicolás Gómez Dávila (1913-1994), Escolios a un Texto Implicito, II (Bogotá: Instituto Colombiano de Cultura, 1977), p. 11 (my translation), quoted at Stupidity.
  • OH MY FUCKING GOD, GET THE FUCKING VACCINE ALREADY, YOU FUCKING FUCKS“—”Hi, if you are reading this essay then congratulations, you are still alive. And if you are alive, then you have either gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, or you still have the opportunity to get the vaccine against COVID-19. And holy fuck, if you aren’t fucking vaccinated against COVID-19, then you need to get fucking vaccinated right now. I mean, what the fuck? Fuck you. Get vaccinated. Fuck.”
  • South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem Used Prison Labor to Build a $9,000 Desk—Then Got a Discount.”
  • Afghanistan withdrawal: Warfighters’ déjà vu“—”The growing awareness of the moral ambiguity among veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq burdens them with sensibilities of moral injury. Moral injury occurs when a person perpetrates, fails to prevent, bears witness to, or is the victim of an act that affronts their deeply held beliefs and expectations regarding human dignity. Service members are expected to trust that the orders from their civilian and military leaders are aligned with American values. The frantic withdrawal from Afghanistan and abandonment of vulnerable people leaves service members asking whether their sacrifices were in vain and if their actions are consistent with American values.” Probably not in the way the author intended, but that question would be a good thing to reflect on.
  • How Come We Don’t Know More About the Largest Labor Battle in the History of the United States?
  • World-Renowned Philosopher Martha Nussbaum Supports New York Elephant Rights Case“—”Drawing on Professor Nussbaum’s widely acclaimed work on justice and animal rights, the brief ‘argues that the law requires reformation to protect our modern scientific and philosophical understanding that many animals can live their own meaningful lives and that the Court should reform the law in this case.'”
  • What’s the Best Way to Do Public Humanities? Ask a Philosopher. Not every academic can or should do public outreach, but those who do it well benefit all of academe.”—”Socially committed work, no matter the size of its audience, demonstrates the connection between the university and the society it serves — and is served by. Higher education needs to attract public support because universities are inherently public institutions. If American society is to recognize higher education as the public good that it is, then higher education needs a public face.”
  • Sophie Grace Chappell on Plato and the Moral Imagination. An interview with Sophie Grace Chappell about philosophy, following your deepest impulses, and why mountain climbing is not unlike philosophy.”—”This is the great thing about philosophy, and what keeps me going at it: it’s so unpredictable. I simply have no idea where the argument might lead me. But nearly always, so far, to a good place.”
  • A Very Particular Risk: Aimee Bender on Jane Campion and Kazuo Ishiguro“—”Even writing about this interpretation feels delicate to me—it’s so easy for it to go sour, to feel sillily theistic, or too bound to linearity, like if only one prays just right, maybe so-and-so can be saved, like it’s a facile lesson, or a pressure. But, to me, the feat—the Nobel-prize-worthy ongoing feat—is that somehow Ishiguro is able to walk this very thin line where no lesson is pushed and no expectations are put into place and Klara is still allowed a moment that breaks with the systems we know, where she seems to rise above the limits of her being, her abilities (—and it would have to be Klara, this most sensitive and observant of robots), even her own belief system—to make contact with mystery and move something in the world.”
  • Russia expels first comedian since fall of Soviet Union as political routines under pressure from Kremlin. Idrak Mirzalizade’s routine about racist landlords saw him thrown out of the country.”
  • Who Gets To Be Bossypants? On Class and Privilege in Female Comedians’ Memoirs“—”The critique of these books fit into the broader conversation around the shallowness of the narrative that “hard work” and “talent” are the only ingredients at play in determining who makes it big and who doesn’t; likewise, the false idea that a white person must be either a “KKK princess” or an avowed white supremacist to benefit from white supremacy. And as awkward or unattractive as many of the women on the list may believe themselves to be, or may have felt, they were not all outsiders in the same way. In a telling passage in Fey’s book, she seems to briefly consider that possibility. After relaying an anecdote where she essentially steals a job from a woman who really needed it, she adds ‘That makes me sound like a jerk, I know. But remember the beginning of the story where I was the underdog? No? Me neither.'”
  • The Sacred Geometry of Respect, Trust, and Equity“—”The values of respect, trust, and equity are interconnected and inseparable. Putting them into practice means continually reassessing and re-imagining what a just world might look like. It means acknowledging that the same technologies we create and use with the intent of realizing these ideals, can (and will) be abused to instead sustain and magnify systemic injustice — at an otherwise unimaginable scale. Values that are expressed but that do not guide our actions are merely performative. Real progress can only come about when we go beyond our good intentions, and take responsibility for impact and outcomes. Ultimately, we are accountable not only to our collaborators and our users, but also to our broader global society.”
  • Thora Birch and Nine More Actors Join the Cast of Netflix’s Wednesday“—”With the most difficult roles sorted—Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams, and Catherine Zeta-Jones and Luis Guzmán as perfect parents Morticia and Gomez—Netflix’s Wednesday has moved on to rounding out the rest of its cast. The streamer announced ten additions today, most of which are young, lesser-known actors who will play Wednesday’s classmates and friends. But there are a couple of familiar faces among the crowd, including Ghost World and Hocus Pocus icon Thora Birch, who will play Tamara Novak, described as ‘Wednesday’s dorm mother and the only ‘Normie’ on staff at Nevermore Academy.'” Look, they destroyed Melissa Hunter’s fantastic Adult Wednesday Addams fan series, and told her getting the rights would be impossible. But, sure, okay. It’s Tim Burton, so maybe. But, I have concerns. Strangely, Hunter’s been part of the crew for a number of other Netflix shows that were pretty good, but, apparently, not this one. Either way, let’s at least pour one out for Adult Wednesday Addams which you can definitely not find online anywhere once they forced her to delete it from her channel. *sigh* And, at least afaik, she’s still a writer for the upcoming She-Hulk series on Disney+, so …
  • The Missed Queerness of The Green Knight Adaptation“—”When I watch modern adaptations of premodern stories such as The Green Knight, I find myself disappointed by how these narratives impose an oversimplified and retroactively heteronormative and patriarchal vision of the medieval world. These traditional lenses limit the beautifully unresolved nature of these texts, which ultimately talk of a human condition —devoid of 19th-century impositions of gender and sexuality. ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ is not about Gawain asserting alpha male authority in an attempt to take the place of King Arthur. Nor is it about the oversexed femme fatale who serves as the tempting Eve of a man’s demise. Its sounds and verses do not assert a hegemony over peoples inhabiting both mythical and natural worlds. The text is very queer, just as the world in which it was conceived.”
  • Watch “Isabella” trailer. “Isabella, a film by Matías Piñeiro … Mariel (María Villar) longs to play the role of Isabella in a local theater troupe’s production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, but money problems prevent her from preparing for the audition. She thinks of asking her brother for financial help, but is worried about being too direct. Her solution is to ask her brother’s girlfriend, Luciana (Agustina Muñoz), also an actress and a more self-assured one, to convince her brother to give her the money. Luciana agrees on the condition that Mariel will not abandon her acting and continue to prepare for the part of Isabella. The latest in Matías Piñeiro’s series of films inspired by the women of Shakespeare’s comedies is his most structurally daring and visually stunning work to date. Through their rich and layered performances, Muñoz and Villar demonstrate a profound intimacy formed over more than a decade of collaboration with their director. Isabella is a film about the ongoing battle between doubt and ambition that never discounts the possibility of a new beginning.” Also “Confronting Doubt with the Power of Shakespeare.”
  • It’s Time to Commission a Memorial to Slavery at McGill University“—”As McGill University celebrates its Bicentennial — and in the wake of global reckonings with racism — it is an opportune time to reflect critically and act on the university’s history, including founder James McGill’s ownership of Black and Indigenous slaves.”
  • Watch “Atlasminx“—”This is the atlasminx. The puzzle has an edge length of 140mm, weighs 7.9kg and has 4863 pieces.”
  • Watch “MELTZER – The Ballad Of Piers Morgan and Meghan Markle
  • Watch “Kenneth Copeland Unplugged [Wind Of God Acoustic Remix]
  • Computer-Generated New Yorker Cartoons Are Delightfully Weird“—”The New Yorker‘s famous Cartoon Caption Contest, which asks readers to submit their wittiest one-liners, gets an average 5,732 entries each week, and the magazine receives thousands of drawings every month from hopeful artists. What if a computer tried its hand at the iconic comics?” “Cartooning is paradoxically a 21st-century art form catering to a readership with limited attention for a quick visual gratification fix … The Neural Yorker explores the limits of an important feature in the history and the modes of address of cartoon making: the non sequitur.”
  • Miss Minutes Voice Assistant Using Raspberry Pi Zero W. Building Mrs. Minutes (LOKI series) voice assistant using raspberry pi zero w and google assistant SDK.”
  • Five Minutes of Pink Oyster Mushroom Playing Modular Synthesizer“—”Through the magic or rather science of bio data sonification, this flush of oyster mushrooms get a shot at playing a eurorack modular synthesizer before they become my dinner. Electrical resistance is measure by passing a small current through the mushrooms similar to a lie detector test. The changes in resistance are then converted into control signals which determine the rhythm, pitch, timbre and effects parameters of the modular synthesizer.” Also MycoLyco on Bandcamp. Also “Watch a Pink Oyster Mushroom Play Music on a Synthesizer.”
  • Watch “”Racist, sexist boy” music video by The Linda Lindas.

Summary for the month of August 2021

I did some stuff on YouTube. What stuff I did were live streams, now unlisted. I mostly tried to live streamed at 6:66am Central on Thursdays, until I got tired or too hot, usually a few hours. I also did live stream randomly on some Tuesdays at 6:66am Central, but that was a fluke (or was it?!). I think I’ve now changed my mind and given up on Saturdays, preferring Thursdays as my most likely day streaming. I didn’t stream any video games this month. For some reason Geforce Now on my nVidia Shield won’t work correctly since the last update, and I haven’t been able to fix it. Some portions of some live streams got posted as archives. Here’s what I posted of what I did.

Yeah. That’s it. ::shrug::

Omnium Gatherum: 1sept2021

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

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

  • The fungal mind: on the evidence for mushroom intelligence.”—”Mushrooms and other kinds of fungi are often associated with witchcraft and are the subjects of longstanding superstitions. Witches dance inside fairy rings of mushrooms according to German folklore, while a French fable warns that anyone foolish enough to step inside these ‘sorcerer’s rings’ will be cursed by enormous toads with bulging eyes. These impressions come from the poisonous and psychoactive peculiarities of some species, as well as the overnight appearance of toadstool ring-formations. Given the magical reputation of the fungi, claiming that they might be conscious is dangerous territory for a credentialled scientist. But in recent years, a body of remarkable experiments have shown that fungi operate as individuals, engage in decision-making, are capable of learning, and possess short-term memory. These findings highlight the spectacular sensitivity of such ‘simple’ organisms, and situate the human version of the mind within a spectrum of consciousness that might well span the entire natural world.”
  • “We Don’t See Pure Sword and Sorcery Anymore, So I Wanted to Try to Revive It” – An Interview with John Shirley.” About A Sorcerer of Atlantis with A Prince in the Kingdom of Ghosts [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by John Shirley—”or decades, John Shirley has been a leading author of weird fiction, with an impressively wide range. His work stretches from science fiction to supernatural horror to psychological terror and everything in between. Here, in two new and unpublished works, Shirley ventures into the realm of fantasy. The short novel A Sorcerer of Atlantis introduces us to two adventurers, Brimm and Snoori, who find themselves in Atlantis, battling an array of bizarre monsters in the company of the warrior princess Selinn of Ur. But as Brinn becomes intimate with Maitha, the Queen of Atlantis, he senses that more baleful creatures threaten the continent, including the menacing “People of the Deep,” foreshadowing Atlantis’s imminent doom. In the novella “A Prince in the Kingdom of Ghosts,” Korean-American Kerrin Kim, shattered by his father’s death, is himself murdered—and finds himself in an afterlife realm where he must assume the responsibilities of a prince in a land of ghosts, elemental spirits, and other supernatural threats. In this pair of tales, written in the tradition of Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber, and Jack Vance, John Shirley reveals an exuberant imagination, a skill at portraying vivid and memorable characters, and a narrative pace that carries the reader on from beginning to end with breathless excitement. Chilling terror mixes with wry humor as Shirley makes his fantasy worlds unescapably real.”
  • By Crom! “Weird Revisited: Comics’ First Barbarian“—”Before Claw, Wulf, and Ironjaw–even before Conan–there was a barbarian Sword & Sorcery hero in comics. Though there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of this particularly mighty-thewed sword-slinger, he’s got a famous name: Crom the Barbarian!”
  • How the Great Billie Jean King Challenged the Patriarchy. The Groundbreaking Tennis Champ on Her Fight to End Gender Discrimination.” Excerpt from All In: An Autobiography [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Billie Jean King with Johnette Howard and Maryanne Vollers—”In this spirited account, Billie Jean King details her life’s journey to find her true self. She recounts her groundbreaking tennis career–six years as the top-ranked woman in the world, twenty Wimbledon championships, thirty-nine grand-slam titles, and her watershed defeat of Bobby Riggs in the famous Battle of the Sexes. She poignantly recalls the cultural backdrop of those years and the profound impact on her worldview from the women’s movement, the assassinations and anti-war protests of the 1960s, the civil rights movement, and, eventually, the LGBTQ+ rights movement. She describes the myriad challenges she’s hurdled–entrenched sexism, an eating disorder, near financial peril after being outed–on her path to publicly and unequivocally acknowledging her sexual identity at the age of fifty-one. She talks about how her life today remains one of indefatigable service. She offers insights and advice on leadership, business, activism, sports, politics, marriage equality, parenting, sexuality, and love. And she shows how living honestly and openly has had a transformative effect on her relationships and happiness. Hers is the story of a pathbreaking feminist, a world-class athlete, and an indomitable spirit whose impact has transcended even her spectacular achievements in sports.”
  • New from Standard Ebooks: The Child of the Cavern by Jules Verne, Mutual Aid by Peter Kropotkin, Short Fiction by Ray Bradbury, Edward III by William Shakespeare.
  • OMG SPACE VAMPIRES! “Inspiration4 Crew Will Conduct Health Research to Further Human Exploration of Space“—”Collect and test drops of blood during spaceflight” I liked it better when it was an episode of Buck Rogers.
  • The Brain Doesn’t Think the Way You Think It Does. Familiar categories of mental functions such as perception, memory and attention reflect our experience of ourselves, but they are misleading about how the brain works. More revealing approaches are emerging.”—”When we wonder how the brain works, he explained, we want it to mean: What’s happening in my brain when I fall in love? Or when I’m excited? If we move too far away from our subjective experience and familiar cognitive concepts, he worries that what we learn about the brain might be like ’42’ in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: the correct answer, but not to the question we had in mind. ‘Now, are we willing to live with that?’ Krakauer asked.”
  • Cannibal toads eat so many of their young, they’re speeding up evolution. Here’s how the young are fighting back.”—”The hatchlings of the invasive cane toad in Australia don’t stand a chance against their deadliest predator: cannibal tadpoles who guzzle the hatchlings like they’re at an all-you-can-eat buffet. But now, the hatchlings are fighting back. They’re developing faster, reducing the time that hungry tadpoles have to gobble them up, a new study finds.” “Developing quickly, however, has its pitfalls. Compared with typically growing hatchlings, those that grew faster fared worse when they reached the tadpole stage of life, the researchers found. So it isn’t ‘worth it to try to defend yourself in this way unless cannibals are definitely coming for you'”
  • Astronauts’ photos from the space station reveal the highs and lows of watching Earth from above in 2021 so far.”
  • An accidental discovery hints at a hidden population of cosmic objects.”—”Brown dwarfs aren’t quite stars and aren’t quite planets, and a new study suggests there might be more of them lurking in our galaxy than scientists previously thought. A new study offers a tantalizing explanation for how a peculiar cosmic object called WISEA J153429.75-104303.3—nicknamed ‘The Accident’—came to be. The Accident is a brown dwarf. Though they form like stars, these objects don’t have enough mass to kickstart nuclear fusion, the process that causes stars to shine. And while brown dwarfs sometimes defy characterization, astronomers have a good grasp on their general characteristics. Or they did, until they found this one.”
  • Multiple hominin dispersals into Southwest Asia over the past 400,000 years“—”Here we report a series of dated palaeolake sequences, associated with stone tool assemblages and vertebrate fossils, from the Khall Amayshan 4 and Jubbah basins in the Nefud Desert. These findings, including the oldest dated hominin occupations in Arabia, reveal at least five hominin expansions into the Arabian interior, coinciding with brief ‘green’ windows of reduced aridity approximately 400, 300, 200, 130–75 and 55 thousand years ago. Each occupation phase is characterized by a distinct form of material culture, indicating colonization by diverse hominin groups, and a lack of long-term Southwest Asian population continuity. Within a general pattern of African and Eurasian hominin groups being separated by Pleistocene Saharo-Arabian aridity, our findings reveal the tempo and character of climatically modulated windows for dispersal and admixture.”
  • Watch “How does artificial intelligence learn?“—”Today, artificial intelligence helps doctors diagnose patients, pilots fly commercial aircraft, and city planners predict traffic. These AIs are often self-taught, working off a simple set of instructions to create a unique array of rules and strategies. So how exactly does a machine learn? Briana Brownell digs into the three basic ways machines investigate, negotiate, and communicate. [Directed by Champ Panupong Techawongthawon, narrated by Safia Elhillo, music by Ambrose Yu].”
  • What Slime Knows. There is no hierarchy in the web of life.”—”Slime mold might not have evolved much in the past two billion years, but it has learned a few things during that time.” Um. That sounds like a threat! “In laboratory environments, researchers have cut Physarum polycephalum into pieces and found that it can fuse back together within two minutes. Or, each piece can go off and live separate lives, learn new things, and return later to fuse together, and in the fusing, each individual can teach the other what it knows, and can learn from it in return. Though, in truth, ‘individual’ is not the right word to use here, because ‘individuality’—a concept so central to so many humans’ identities—doesn’t apply to the slime mold worldview. A single cell might look to us like a coherent whole, but that cell can divide itself into countless spores, creating countless possible cycles of amoeba to plasmodium to aethalia, which in turn will divide and repeat the cycle again. It can choose to ‘fruit’ or not, to reproduce sexually or asexually or not at all, challenging every traditional concept of ‘species,’ the most basic and fundamental unit of our flawed and imprecise understanding of the biological world. As a consequence, we have no way of knowing whether slime molds, as a broad class of beings, are stable or whether climate change threatens their survival, as it does our own. Without a way to count their population as a species, we can’t measure whether they are endangered or thriving. Should individuals that produce similar fruiting bodies be considered a species? What if two separate slime molds do not mate but share genetic material? The very idea of separateness seems antithetical to slime mold existence. It has so much to teach us.”
  • Facebook’s Censoring of Women’s Bodies is Nipocrisy“—”Facebook and Instagram have a combined worldwide usership of over three billion people, and only one rule book split between them. Their ‘Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity’ section of the guidelines firmly assigns nudity to sexual activity without room for negotiation. Within this section, they have dedicated a big portion of text to describing when and how a female nipple is and isn’t allowed, therefore making an exposed female nipple a sexually explicit act by default — with a few vague exceptions, such as for breastfeeding and ‘acts of protest.’ These guidelines prohibit ‘visible genitalia’ and “fully nude close-ups of buttocks” in the same breath as ‘uncovered female nipples,’ making a female-presenting body twice as likely as male-presenting body to be flagged as obscene simply for possessing and showing her nipples.”
  • How Tech Companies Manipulate the Media ft. MKBHD“—”The 5 key ways that Tech Companies (Samsung, Xiaomi, OnePlus, Apple etc) try to control the narrative of the Media.”—”Pre-launch giveaways … Features coming soon … Dual embargoes … Exclusive interviews … Out of context quoting”
  • Some simple advice for Apple and app developers: It’s not about you. Most missteps can be avoided by putting the customer first.”—”Too often, when a company stumbles, it’s not because it made a fundamentally bad decision. It’s because it made a decision that benefited itself rather than its customers and lacked the perspective to understand that customers don’t applaud when you lower your costs or the quality of your product.” “It’s so easy to lose perspective. Companies large and small have done it and will do it again. The trick to avoiding this mistake is deceptively simple: Realize that it’s not about you, and consider the needs of the customers who make your business what it is. If you try to sell your customers a product designed to make your business more successful without benefiting them, they won’t thank you for it.”
  • Tweet thread—”What explains Covid’s mysterious Two-Month Cycle? In one country after another, the number of new cases has often surged for roughly two months before starting to fall. The Delta variant, despite its intense contagiousness, has followed this pattern.”
  • Lessons learned from the OCLC Community Center during the pandemic“—”When I wrote about the OCLC Community Center’s fifth anniversary last year, I thought we were all getting a handle on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We knew things weren’t over yet, but we also weren’t expecting to spend the next 12 months working from home, socially distancing, wearing masks in public, missing lunches and meetings and conferences, and so much more. While nothing replaces those in-person interactions, I’ve been amazed at how virtual engagement and connections have grown and deepened. As a result, we’ve all learned many valuable lessons about creating online community that will have lasting impact.” “Active participation is crucial … Let the community lead the way … Grace, grit, and gratitude bridge virtual gaps”.
  • Francis Fukuyama on the end of American hegemony. Afghanistan does not mark the end of the American era; the challenge to its global standing is political polarisation at home, says a foreign-policy expert.”
  • Covert Evacuations and Planned Demolitions: How the C.I.A. Left Its Last Base in Afghanistan. A compound outside Kabul was one of the most secretive — and notorious — in Afghanistan. Our visual analysis shows how the spy agency shut down its operations there — and how the Taliban then entered the site.”
  • What It Was Like to Return to Guantánamo. Because of the pandemic, it had been 500 days since my last visit, but I finally made it back.” Tweet thread—”Strange doings at Guantanamo: Reporters and photographers have resumed visits to the base after a 500-day Covid blackout — but are no longer allowed to photograph at the old Camp X-Ray. Like we did in July.”
  • Tweet—”Good morning to abortion providers, clergy, counselors, lawyers, abortion funds, and every person in Texas willing to break the law to ensure that pregnant people can still access safe abortion care. ❤️” Also tweet—”Imagine if California passed a law banning firearms and outsourced enforcement to the public. If you catch a person with a firearm, you sue them and if you win you get 10K. Sure it violates the constitution but *shrug* That’s what’s happening with abortion in Texas right now.” Also tweet—”How to show up for abortion access in Texas right now: 📢 Get updates from us: lilithfund.org/fightback ⚡️ Volunteer for our Hype Squad in Texas: lilithfund.org/hypesquad 💰 Donate to Texas abortion funds: secure.actblue.com/donate/txfunds” Tweet—”people out here blaming a dead woman for not retiring when a bunch of men asked her to so they could replace her with a centrist. i’m sorry you fucked up in 2016 by acting the fool, but don’t blame the dead lady because you downplayed the importance of the Supreme Court.” Tweet—”Burke & Hare’s murders left no blood and no mess, just a fresh corpse to be sold. The Supreme Court’s shadow docket is clean and neat — no names attached! — and it’s going to leave corpses behind.” Tweet—”abortion is healthcare and bodily autonomy isn’t negotiable”
  • Our Mothers, Ourselves“—”Both miscarriage and abortion are incredibly common. Yet they are, oddly, still taboo subjects.”
  • Oh, good! But, he’s still got a lucrative deal: “Mike Richards Fired as Exec Producer of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune“—”Richards’ exit comes a little more than a week after he was forced to step down as ‘Jeopardy!’ host, just nine days after he was tapped to succeed the legendary Alex Trebek as the face of the beloved quiz show. Richards currently has a rich overall deal at Sony; discussions on the fate of his relationship at the studio are currently under way.”
  • Emma Corrin will star in Netflix’s adaptation of the infamously steamy ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’, and it’s set to be raunchier than Bridgerton. Plus Jack O’Connell? We really are being spoilt.” Tweet—”I am pro sex in literature but have to say: when I finally read Lady Chatterley’s Lover in my twenties I was shocked because… All anyone ever mentioned about the book was the sex. I was astonished to find out it is a book about social class.”
  • Holy crap, Annalise Basso is a standout in the TV series Snowpiercer, based on the French comic series Le Transperceneige, released in English begining with Snowpiercer Vol. 1: The Escape [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] but, just look at her already damned impressive resumé! (Also, as an aside, recall: “How an Obscure 2nd Century Christian Heresy Influenced Snowpiercer” by Michael M Hughes.)
  • Personally I couldn’t stand The Big Bang Theory so never watched it, but I’ve been watching Kaley Cuoco in Harley Quinn and The Flight Attendant is a trip. The Flight Attendant almost reaches Russian Doll heights, but kind of fumbles at the end, I felt, but still definitely worth the watch, and well done cliffhanger episode endiings! Great cast, but, holy hell, every scene with Cuoco and Zosia Mamet acting together is pure goddamned fire. As for the animated Harley Quinn, she, with Lake Bell (no relation, but who also has recently become the voice of Black Widow in What If…?) and Alan Tudyk especially, do a great job building on and transcending the already classic source material. And, I also forgot Cuoco was in Charmed back in the day!
  • Bridget Regan is luminous in everything I’ve seen her in. She definitely stole the scene with a minor role in John Wick, but do you remember her in Agent Carter and Legend of the Seeker? “‘Batwoman’ Casts Bridget Regan as Poison Ivy in Season 3.” She’ll crush it. Also, her eyes. My gods, her eyes!
  • Alien 3: William Gibson Script Gets Novel Adaptation. Pat Cardigan’s adaptation uses a different version of the venerated sci-fi author’s previously published work.”—”Alien 3 has some issues. Even the movie’s most ardent fans have to admit this, given that it went through countless story, script, director, and editing changes, leaving what many feel is the most muddled of the four classic Alien films. Legendary Neuromancer author William Gibson was one of the (many) writers to give the script a go, but his work only saw the light of day as an audiobook and a comic by Dark Horse. Now, a novelization is on the way—but not the one you’d expect. Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay by William Gibson, written by his friend and Hugo Award-winning novelist Pat Cadigan, is based on a different script Gibson wrote for the movie.” About Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay by William Gibson [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Pat Cadigan—”The first-draft Alien screenplay by William Gibson, the founder of cyberpunk, turned into a novel by Pat Cadigan, the Hugo Award-Winning ‘Queen of Cyberpunk.’ William Gibson’s never-before-adapted screenplay for the direct sequel to Aliens, revealing the fates of Ripley, Newt, the synthetic Bishop, and Corporal Hicks. When the Colonial Marines vessel Sulaco docks with space station and military installation Anchorpoint, a new form of Xenomorph appears. Written by Hugo Award-winning novelist and ‘Queen of Cyberpunk’ Pat Cadigan, based on Gibson’s never-produced first draft. The Sulaco—on its return journey from LV-426—enters a sector controlled by the ‘Union of Progressive Peoples,’ a nation-state engaged in an ongoing cold war and arms race. U.P.P. personnel board the Sulaco and find hypersleep tubes with Ripley, Newt, and an injured Hicks. A Facehugger attacks the lead commando, and the others narrowly escape, taking what remains of Bishop with them. The Sulaco continues to Anchorpoint, a space station and military installation the size of a small moon, where it falls under control of the military’s Weapons Division. Boarding the Sulaco, a team of Colonial Marines and scientists is assaulted by a pair of Xenomorph drones. In the fight Ripley’s cryotube is badly damaged. It’s taken aboard Anchorpoint, where Ripley is kept comatose. Newt and an injured Corporal Hicks are awakened, and Newt is sent to Gateway Station on the way to Earth. The U.P.P. sends Bishop to Anchorpoint, where Hicks begins to hear rumors of experimentation—the cloning and genetic modification of Xenomorphs. The kind of experimentation that could yield a monstrous hybrid, and perhaps even a Queen.”
  • Eternal Artifice: ‘Cuadecuc, Vampir,’ ‘Martin,’ and the Deconstructed Vampire“—”The cinematic vampire is a fragile thing, not only for its many vulnerabilities—sunlight, crosses, garlic—but for the ways in which it can be rendered hollow, a construction. The vampire as seen on film becomes a perfect example of how horror—as a genre, as a feeling—is created and recreated.” “These final moments in Cuadecuc go to the heart of all vampire films by highlighting the ways in which they vampirically drain from Stoker’s source material. Every iteration is a kind of supernatural rebirth, like the vampire itself, a mutation of the myth that runs through the genre’s bloodstream.”
  • Watch “The Velvet Underground“, official trailer, coming to cinema and Apple TV+ in October. “The Velvet Underground. A hypnotic new documentary and the first major film to tell the band’s legendary story.” “The Velvet Underground created a new sound that changed the world of music, cementing its place as one of rock and roll’s most revered bands. Directed with the era’s avant-garde spirit by Todd Haynes, this kaleidoscopic oral history combines exclusive interviews with dazzling archival footage.”
  • Chris Kraus and R.O. Kwon on the transgressive power of sex“—”I believe sexual desires don’t just go away. If a person deeply wants something and ignores that desire, it’s probably not going to die a peaceful death.”
  • Cross-Disability Solidarity: Shannon Finnegan and Bojana Coklyat Interviewed by Amelia Rina. A project for resource sharing, discussion, and collaboration about creative approaches to image description.”
  • Guy Uses Modern Software To Restore The Faces Of Julius Caesar And 23 Other People From Ancient History. Interview With Artist.”
  • Tweet thread—”1/25 Okay, I’m gonna be all typography geeky again. This time I’ll walk you through how I personally go about setting a body text. There are probably plenty of other methods, but this one’s mine. A thread. And boy will it get nerdy.” “Note: This method is tedious, inefficient and time-consuming. But thorough. I use it when I layout novels and other projects that depend a lot on body text. But you might find it interesting regardless. Skip some steps if you want.” “Projects where I have used this method include Symbaroum, Oktoberlandet, an annual report (that won gold in the Swedish Design Price, yay!) and a bunch of novels. I did NOT use it for MÖRK BORG. I didn’t even have Paragraph Styles or baseline grids there…”
  • Tweet thread—”Hey, #tabletopgames Twitter: I submitted a proposal to @unicode for a meeple emoji. I’ll find out in October if it was accepted. /1″ “There’s a lot that could go right. It’s unique. It’s essentially public domain. It distinguishes modern tabletop games from older ones (e.g. Chess). We’d all use it like crazy. And for whatever reason, nobody has been foolish enough to propose it. /2”
  • Watch “The Cookbook of Nostradamus: Prophecies in the Kitchen” See The Elixirs of Nostradamus: Nostradamus’ Original Recipes for Elixirs, Scented Water, Beauty Potions and Sweetmeats—”Although most people know Nostradamus for his prophecies, he was also one of the most important healers of his time. The Elixirs of Nostradamus contains his most coveted recipes for elixirs, beauty potions, scented waters, bottled fruits, and other specialties, all of which first appeared in the 16th century. Lavishly illustrated, readers will learn how to add gold highlights to their hair, prepare a powder for whitening their teeth, make aromatic soap, preserve bitter cherries, and even make marzipan. The 41 recipes in this collection make a charming gift for anyone interested in the life of this compelling man.” And “Traité des fardements et confitures.”

Crowdfunding Campaign Countdown: September 2021

Here’s a selection of crowdfunding campaigns, bundles, & c., that are counting down, ones that I’ve noticed and am currently watching for September, 2021.

  • 24 hours to go: “Verdant Isles: Teatime Adventures RPG. A heartwarming new tabletop roleplaying game – where every adventure comes with a tea pairing!”—”Put the kettle on! A world of joyous mystery and thriving culture awaits you here. It’s time to settle in with some good friends, a hot pot of tea, and something scrumptious from the oven as you enter the world of the Verdant Isles in Teatime Adventures. Explore the town of Oakenbend and help the townsfolk solve a series of pot-stirring mysteries. Over 200 pages of heartwarming adventures, with beautiful illustrations, vibrant colors, characters, and flavors throughout. New heartwarming Ancestries, Occupations, Skills, and Magic Systems set in the Verdant Isles. Compatible with Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition rules.”
  • 1 day to go: “Mutant Chronicles with 3D Miniatures“—”Drive Back the Dark Legion In Mutant Chronicles, Modiphius’ Tabletop RPG! Ready to pick a tabletop fight with the Dark Legion? Want to know what lies beyond the edge of our solar system? What does our world look like millennia into the future? Check out our new bundle, packed with Modiphius’ Mutant Chronicles ebooks and 3D print files like Mutant Chronicles 3rd Edition Core Book Savage Worlds Edition, Mutant Chronicles 3D Printed Heroes Collection, and Mutant Chronicles Dark Legion Campaign. Plus, your purchase helps support the NAACP Legal Defense Fund!”
  • 34 hours to go: “Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. An officially licensed tabletop roleplaying game set in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra.” They’ve raised 8½ million USD already, and the $75 “Otter-Penguin” pledge includes a truly bonkers, almost too good to be true (making me a bit nervous, tbh), pile of stuff. They’re going to build their own VTT. If only it had built-in solo (O woe)! “Magpie Games is excited to bring you Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game, the officially licensed tabletop roleplaying game set in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra! With over a decade of roleplaying design and publishing expertise, Magpie Games has created an innovative system that brings the world of the Four Nations to life in a tabletop roleplaying game that captures the heart of the Avatar franchise: balance, heroism, and the power of friendship. Avatar Legends: The RPG includes setting information seeded with plot hooks for your game, numerous playbooks representing the archetypes of heroes fans love from the television shows, a full set of custom mechanics for adventuring across the Four Nations, an adventure to get you started on your journey, and much more. Delve into the Four Nations like never before in an immersive role play experience that challenges you to find balance in a world in desperate need of heroes. Yip yip!”
  • 5 days to go: “The GOODMAN GAMES tabletop science-fiction roleplaying game by James M. Ward. METAMORPHOSIS ALPHA 1E. EVERYTHING YOU NEED for a complete campaign on a lost generation starship.”
  • 8 days to go: “KINLESS – A Mörk Borg Solo Viking Adventure. You are an outcast… sent away to die alone in the cold night. Will you survive long enough to return and get your revenge?”
  • 9 days to go: “Strange Hills. A tabletop rpg about loss and redemption, based on the No Dice, No Masters system.”—”What is Strange Hills? It’s a No Dice, No Masters game about bad people who’ve done bad things. People who were part of the ruling class in a tyrannical dictatorship. All that’s over now, the entire world is dying, and they have to decide: will I be better now that it’s all over? It’s inspired by things like the Dark Sun campaign setting, the film Mad Max: Fury Road, and a lot of dark fantasy novels. It’s a game about losing everything you have, and trying to redeem the one thing remaining, yourself.”
  • 10 days to go: “Demon-Bone Sarcophagus. An adventure for Old-School Dungeons and Dragons. Hopefully the first of three.”—”an adventure for Dungeons and Dragons. If you know about our previous adventure ‘Deep-Carbon Observatory Remastered’ then you have a rough idea of the nature and aesthetic of the thing. If you *don’t* know about that, or about us then think of Scrap and I’s efforts as; ‘Slightly edgy, somewhat pretentious, but competently (though not exceptionally), engineered Dungeons and Dragons adventures with some pretty wild expressionist art that some people really hate.’ If you want to know more then googling any combination of ‘Patrick Stuart’ Scrap Princess’, ‘False Machine’, ‘Veins of the Earth’ and/or ‘Fire on the Velvet Horizon’ should provide some spicy hits.”
  • 11 days to go: “From June 2018, Cthulhoid horror-espionage tabletop roleplaying ebooks. DELTA GREEN RPG. Covert agents face Mythos terror in ARC DREAM’s standalone RPG.” And: “From October 2019, more tabletop roleplaying ebooks for DELTA GREEN. DELTA GREEN OPERATIONS. CONTROL GROUP, THE COMPLEX, and more DELTA GREEN RPG scenarios.”
  • 11 days to go: “Epic Legacy Hero’s Handbook. Remaster and expansion of the Epic Legacy system – bringing the Core Rulebook to its zenith.”—”The Epic Legacy Hero’s Handbook is a 5th Edition supplement that takes your gaming experience to a whole new tier of play. Within these pages is everything you need to advance character progression to level 30 and create Epic adventures to challenge such mighty champions. This book is a completely remastered version of the critically acclaimed Epic Legacy Core Rulebook published in 2018. Backers familiar with the previous book can expect major errata revisions, new mythic monsters, beautiful interior upgrades, more art, and support for all recently published 5th Edition character class options.”
  • 12 days to go: “Sixth World tabletop roleplaying game ebooks and fiction from CATALYST. SHADOWRUN 6E STORIES. The SR SIXTH WORLD rules, BEGINNER BOX, and dozens of stories and novels.” Buyer beware! I’ve heard 6e is unplayable. But, maybe you could convert this on the fly, or something, to another system, maybe even a minimal one.
  • 12 days to go: “Sölitary Defilement: Solo resources for MÖRK BORG. The popular engine of lonesome death, now in print and expanded!”—”SÖLITARY DEFILEMENT is a popular set of solo rules and oracles for the dark, dismal, and thoroughly engrossing role playing game MÖRK BORG … The core rules for SÖLITARY DEFILEMENT, along with its printable worksheets for travel, dungeon crawling, and world mapping have been downloaded almost 5,000 times from Itch.io. You can check it out for free and get hooked!” “This Kickstarter intends to produce a physical edition of the SÖLITARY DEFILEMENT rulebook, along with exclusive content in the form of an Adventure Pack, and City Crawl supplement.” It doesn’t seem to talk a lot about this, but this is Ironsworn-meets-Mörk Borg. So at the base, it does a kind of PbtA conversion, but there’s a lot more to it as well! Just be aware that it’s got a mechanics change. Then again, maybe Ironsworn-meets-Mörk Borg does it for you?!
  • 13 days to go: “The Dee Sanction: Adventures — Print Edition. A softcover print collection of five adventures for The Dee Sanction RPG, the award-winning tabletop RPG of Elizabethan investigation.”—”The Dee Sanction: Adventures is a collection of varied investigations into the weird, deadly and supernatural. In service to Queen Elizabeth, the five adventures pit wary Agents against book thieves, traitors, elder magic, assassins and forces not of this earth.”
  • 18 days to go: “The Exquisite Corpse in Maggots’ Keep. An Interactive Adventure gamebook where each choice is written by a different author!”—”THE EXQUISITE CORPSE IN MAGGOTS’ KEEP is a full-length, illustrated gamebook in which you play a beautiful skeleton festooned in jewelry who wakes up inside their coffin in a deep, mysterious cavern. Who were you in life? What preternatural magics animated you? What strange creatures and situations will you encounter in this, the Maggots’ Keep? We don’t know! … Yet! Unlike other gamebooks, this one is being created by a team of eleven writers in collaboration. When you make a choice and turn the page, that choice guides you to a different writer!”
  • 19 days to go: “Comic-book film-noir tabletop roleplaying ebooks from SON OF OAK. CITY OF MIST. EVERYTHING YOU NEED for hardboiled investigations of cinematic modern myth.”
  • 21 days to go: “Crapland 2 : A Surrealist Suburban Troika RPG Book. Surrealism and Suburban Absurdism channeled through an RPG for Troika! New Backgrounds, New Spells, New Bestiary Entries!”
  • 22 days to go: “Super Powers Companion for SWADE“—”Few mediums inspire today’s gamers like comic books, graphic novels, and the movies and television shows based on them. The Savage Worlds Super Powers Companion lets you recreate everything from classic Marvel® and DC® tales to modern takes like The Boys®, Kick-Ass®, or Invincible®… all in the award-winning Savage Worlds rules system! This book updates the original Super Powers Companion to be completely compatible with Savage Worlds Adventure Edition.”
  • 23 days to go: Herbalist’s Primer. An illustrated guide to real-world magical plants for magicians, worldbuilders, alchemists, and game masters.”—”Herbalist’s Primer is a system-agnostic illustrated guide to real-world magical plants. Inspired by the 19th-century herbalists and the millennia of folklore, myths, and legends, it brings a wealth of easily-accessible, organized information straight to your gaming table.”
  • 27 days to go: “ASCET. An exquisite card game about monks searching for enlightenment with minimal aesthetics and roleplaying overtones.”—”ASCET is a minimalist playing card game with roleplaying overtones that encourages diplomatic, mnemonic and maths skills with the use of simple mechanics that use cards, a d8 and a d10 dice (included in the deck as a card to cut, fold & paste). Each player will have 4 virtues: Compassion, Humility, Faith and Temperance. Inspired in the popular medieval theme of the ascetic monk that withdrew from society in search for enlightenment which has caught the imagination of master painters like Hieronymus Bosch, Salvador Dali, Albrecht Dürer, Max Ernst and Cezanne to name a few. ”
  • 29 days to go: “Valda’s Spire of Secrets: A Colossal Expansion for DnD 5E. Unleash 5e with this compendium of groundbreaking classes, spells, feats, and more!”
  • 29 days to go: “Tales From When I Had A Face. A modern fairy-tale about death, loss, and finding redemption in the strangest places.”—”A haunting, color-illustrated novel over seven years in the making, Tales From When I Had A Face takes visual inspiration from the collections of fairy tales familiar to many readers: full page images juxtapose the text, complemented by smaller inline art. Brief sequential passages reminiscent of a graphic novel add impact and immersion. In total it contains over 100 illustrations.”
  • Upcoming: “Relics of Rajavihara and Montalo’s Revenge Expansion. A puzzly solo adventure game: The original game, plus 30 all-new levels with brand new challenges.”
  • Upcoming: “Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG 1st Edition Boxed Set. Everything you need to play Mothership® in one incredible box.”

Update 8sept2021:

  • 16 days to go: “The SPILL. Manage an oil spill and rescue sea life in this suspenseful cooperative game for 1-4 players.”
  • 19 days to go: “A NEW offer of the 2018 science-fantasy tabletop roleplaying game by MONTE COOK. NUMENERA DISCOVERY. DISCOVERY, DESTINY, BUILDING TOMORROW, three BESTIARIES, and tons more.”
  • 22 days to go: “Stars Without Number RPG: Offset Print Edition. An offset print run of Stars Without Number, the hit sci-fi tabletop RPG.”
  • 22 days to go: “Gravemire. A Gilded Age tabletop horror game about mortality, growth, and the Louisiana bayou.”
  • 23 days to go: “RANE IN BLOOD: Mothership Adventure & Antagonist Sourcebook. ☠️ SPACE PIRATES | CULTS | ORGAN THIEVES | FAILED CLONES | GENETIC VAMPIRES & MUCH MORE! For use with the Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG.”
  • Upcoming: “Argon EON: 4-Bay Network Storage powered by Raspberry Pi 4. A Network Attached Storage (NAS) for people who love to tinker around with cool stuff and the makers at heart.”
  • 32 days to go: “Alien Armory. A collection of bio-punk weapons, armors and equipment compatible with the Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG.”
  • Upcoming: “MÖRK BORG Core Item Reference Cards. MÖRK BORG compatible core items reference cards. A set of up to 148 tarot sized cards for use when playing TTRPGS.”
  • Upcoming: “Bernpyle: YEAR ONE. An unofficial Mausritter supplement, an anthology of the first year of the Bernpyle zine.”

Update 10sept2021:

  • 12 days to go: “Stingers & Spores. A tabletop RPG of high fantasy and insects using the Savage Worlds rule system.”
  • 28 days to go: “Anne of Green Gables: Vampire Hunter. A limited edition case laminate hardcover of “Anne of Green Gables: Vampire Hunter” for readers 9-12″—”A limited edition case laminate hardcover of an original Anne Shirley gothic adventure. An ominous fog rolls onto the shores of Avonlea. Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Anne of Green Gables were published a mere eleven years apart. Coincidence? Yes! But that won’t stop us from enjoying some CanLit Children’s Classic shenanigans.”
  • Upcoming: “Blackbirds RPG. A horrific dark fantasy world Powered by Zweihander RPG from creator Ryan Verniere.”

Update 11sept2021:

Update 12sept2021:

  • 4 days to go: “A Humble Exclusive: RED SCREEN by Stephen King“—”RED hot off the press, a Stephen King exclusive short story: Red Screen. We’ve teamed up with legendary author Stephen King for a once in a lifetime opportunity. Presenting, Red Screen, a never before published work, exclusively available through Humble Bundle. In this unsettling short story, a cop interrogates a deranged plumber who just murdered his wife, only to discover something far more insidious. Pay what you want, and support the ACLU.”
  • 19 days to go: “Humble Comic Bundle: TV & Movies by Titan Comics“—It’s a grab bag, but of possible interest include series like Sherlock, Penny Dreadful, Blade Runner, and also Berlin Babylon, set in 1929 Weimar Berlin, one issue inspired by Hammer Horror’s mummy films, and The Prisoner.
  • 27 days to go: “Andromeda: Module for Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG. A Mothership Sci-Fi horror RPG compatible module presented in a fluorescent fold out zine format set on the Andromeda Hub Station.”—”Using an innovative folded zine layout; Andromeda is an 8 page booklet containing all the information required by the Warden to run the game. This booklet then folds out to a detailed A3 map of the hub station as well as a set of illustrated and detailed NPC’s, and a copy of the final transmission from the Andromeda. All of this information is intended to be presented to the players as a combined mission briefing and centrepiece of play. Risograph printed on 175gsm embossed paper it is also printed with fluorescent green ink. This means the module glows in the dark if exposed to UV light. If you back the project at the ‘Hardcase’ level we’ll ship you a custom logo UV flashlight as well so you can play in the dark for the full Andromeda experience.”

Update 13sept2021:

Update 14sept2021:

  • 51 hours to go: “Siege Command. Strategize and adapt to maintain control of the battlefield in a lane-based tower-offense game for two players.”
  • 60 hours to go: “The Hexagonal Gaming System by Wyrmwood. A modular, magnetic solution to elevate your board game or RPG night. Dice trays, dice and mini storage, component organizers and more!”
  • 6 days to go: “Humans. A PDF only role-playing party game about non-humans trying to be humans at a party.”—”a 3-8 player roleplaying party game about non-humans dressed up as humans trying to engage in small talk and get away with it while at a human party.”
  • 21 days to go: “The Moon’s Daughter. A children’s book about love, compassion, and friendship. By Liam and Seb Mckinnon.”—”She had many names. Some were ancient, as old as the trees and the sleeping stones. To all those who knew her, she was the Moon’s Daughter… This story takes place in a faraway world of endless ice and snow. Here resides the Moon’s Daughter and her loyal companion, the Fox. Earthbound, she must take care of the northern lands and her animal friends, though she longs to see Father Moon again. A tale of love, compassion and friendship told in 5 chapters, for children and adults alike!”
  • 26 days to go: “ELEGOO Jupiter: 12.8″ 6K Mono MSLA 3D Printer. The ELEGOO Jupiter lets printing large scale, high accuracy, and intricate parts really simple.”
  • 28 days to go: “QUEERZ! RPG. The super sentai LGBTQ-themed tabletop RPG where you fight intolerance with empathy! Based on the “QUEERZ!” manga and City of Mist RPG.”
  • 43 days to go: “Verdant. A puzzly spatial board game of houseplant collection and care with gorgeous artwork by Beth Sobel!”—”Verdant is a beautiful strategy board game for 1-5 players that plays in 30-45 minutes. In Verdant, you take on the role of a houseplant enthusiast trying to create the coziest space by collecting and arranging houseplants and other objects within your home. In this multi-layered spatial puzzle, you must position your plants so that they receive the most suitable light conditions and take care of them using various nurture actions to create the most verdant collection!”

Omnium Gatherum: 29aug2021

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

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

  • Bibliomantic Oracles—”Resources to perform analysis of english text, with the purpose of creating oracles for solo gaming” or, you know, whatever. “This program will take text documents written in English, parse them to determine parts of speech, then order the nouns, verbs, and adjectives within it. From there, further analysis may be performed, such as specifying a text and identifying unusual words within that book, which are high in frequency in the book, but low in frequency in the full corpus.”
  • Quick reminder that there’s only 60 hours to go to back T Thorn Coyle’s Bookshop Witch crowdfunding effort: “Bookshop Witch. Paranormal Cozies for Freaks and Geeks.”
  • Moon’s Knight [Amazon] by Lilith Saintcrow—”Drunk and disoriented after her best friend’s funeral, Ginevra Bennet stumbles through a door in an ivy-covered wall…and finds herself in a dry wasteland under a dying crimson sun, the only possible shelter a giant stone castle. If it’s a hallucination, it’s a deadly one; the Keep is full of beauty, luxury, courtly manners–and monsters. The inhabitants rejoice in her arrival, dress her in white, and call her a queen. Greenery returns to their gardens, and the prince of the realm, with his silver-ringed eyes, seems very interested in Gin indeed. It should be the answer to every lonely young woman’s dreams. But nothing in Gin’s life has ever been what it’s seemed. Not her best friend, not her upbringing, and most especially not her nightmares. Drowning, violent death, a stone roof, and the hallucinatory prince have filled her nights, and Gin hopes she’s going mad–because the alternative is just too scary to contemplate. Caught in a web of manners, intrigue, and betrayal, Gin has to depend on her sorely tested wits and uncertain sanity. There are Gates at the edge of the wasteland, and if she can escape the castle and its beautiful, terrifying inhabitants, she might just find a few answers and be able to get home. Assuming, of course, home is where she really wants to be…”
  • Watch “Siberian wildfires now bigger than all other fires in world combined“—”ABC News’ Patrick Reevell reports from Siberia on the unprecedented spread of wildfires as officials attempt to battle the flames in a region that is typically one of the coldest places on Earth.”
  • Watch “Giant iceberg almost size of London circling Antarctic coast“—”The British Antarctic Survey says it doesn’t know when scientists can return to one of its research stations. This is due to the danger posed by a giant iceberg, that is almost the size of Greater London. Experts are tracking the mass from space as it circles the Antarctic coastline. British Antarctic Survey scientists don’t believe that this particular event is connected to climate change.”
  • More And More Humans Are Growing an Extra Artery, Showing We’re Still Evolving“—”An artery that temporarily runs down the center of our forearms while we’re still in the womb isn’t vanishing as often as it used to, according to researchers from Flinders University and the University of Adelaide in Australia.” From 2020: “Forearm artery reveals human evolution continues
  • Frosty: A Micro-fabricated Optical Seismometer to Measure Minute Forces in a Mighty Environment“—”A NASA-sponsored team at Michigan Aerospace Corporation and Southern Methodist University (SMU) is developing a microfabricated all-optical seismometer called Frosty that can gather data in the harsh environments encountered on icy works such as Europa.”
  • Scientists discover first ancient human DNA remarkably preserved from tropical Asia region“—”A group of scientists have uncovered a new chapter of the “human story” in Southeast Asia thanks to a partially preserved skeleton dating back approximately 7,200 years.” “Scientists found and excavated the partially-preserved skeleton in 2015 from a limestone cave on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. They were able to extract DNA from the petrous bone, a thick inner ear bone, and analysis revealed that the skeleton belonged to a female who was around 17-18 years old. According to the study, recovering intact human remains from this region is uncommon because the tropical temperatures usually cause them to break down, making delicate structures like DNA unsalvageable.”
  • Mercury Is No Longer The Closest Astronomical Body To The Sun: Scientists Just Discovered Our Star’s New Nearest Neighbor.”—”So what does the future hold for 2021 PH27 ? It’s unclear, but astronomers suspect that it will likely be destroyed in a collision with either Mercury, Venus or the Sun—but possibly not for millions of years.”
  • Fossil confiscated in police raid is one of the most complete pterosaur skeletons ever found“—”A discovery made during a police raid has been identified as the most complete fossil of a flying reptile from Brazil. The remains revealed new information about tapejarids, or pterosaurs that soared across the skies during the Early Cretaceous period between 100.5 million and 145 million years ago.”
  • Hubble captures gorgeous image of ‘Einstein ring’ from warped quasar light. Einstein predicted the existence of these rings back in 1915.”
  • A college student’s near fatal collapse uncovered a frightening family legacy. The unknown cause explained a tragic death that had occurred decades earlier.”
  • Confirmed! a Tiny Nearby Exoplanet With Only 40% of Earth’s Mass“—”planetary system just 35 light years from Earth hosts four and possibly five planets. This includes one (if it exists) that’s squarely in its star’s habitable zone, and another that’s the lightest-weight planet ever found using the radial velocity method: It has only 40% of Earth’s mass. That’s pretty cool.”
  • Mathematicians Solve Decades-Old Classification Problem. A pair of researchers has shown that trying to classify groups of numbers called ‘torsion-free abelian groups’ is as hard as it can possibly be.”—”For decades, one classification problem — involving a particular set of infinitely large objects called torsion-free abelian groups (or TFABs) — stymied researchers. This problem was first raised in 1989 by the mathematicians Harvey Friedman and Lee Stanley in a paper that, according to Paolini, ‘introduced a new way of comparing the difficulties of classification problems for countable structures, indicating that some things are more complicated than others.'”
  • Climate change fueling warm ocean ‘blob’ causing Chile megadrought.”—”‘We need to be cognizant of the changes that are happening in global climate thousands of miles away,’ Amaya said. ‘It’s all connected.'”
  • Confirming the pedigree of uranium cubes from Nazi Germany’s failed nuclear program.”—”During World War II, Nazi Germany and the U.S. were racing to develop nuclear technology. Before Germany could succeed, Allied forces disrupted the program and confiscated some of the cubes of uranium at the heart of it. The ultimate fate of most of that uranium is unknown, but a few cubes thought to be associated with the program are in the U.S. and Europe. Today, scientists report initial results from new methods being developed to confirm their provenance. The techniques might also help with investigations into illicit trafficking of nuclear material.”
  • World-first detector built by dark matter researchers reports rare events“—”A ground-breaking detector that aims to use quartz to capture high frequency gravitational waves has been built by researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics (CDM) and the University of Western Australia. In its first 153 days of operation, two events were detected that could, in principle, be high frequency gravitational waves, which have not been recorded by scientists before. Such high frequency gravitational waves may have been created by a primordial black hole or a cloud of dark matter particles. ”
  • In a first, scientists capture a ‘quantum tug’ between neighboring water molecules. The work sheds light on the web of hydrogen bonds that gives water its strange properties, which play a vital role in many chemical and biological processes.”
  • Robot mimics the powerful punch of the mantis shrimp. Research answers long-standing biological questions, paves the way for small but mighty robots.”
  • I mean … “Female octopuses throw things at males that are harassing them“—”An analysis of footage of octopuses off the coast of Australia “throwing” shells and silt suggests that they intentionally target – and often hit – other octopuses. In most cases, it is females that do the throwing, often at males that are harassing them.” “In 2016, for instance, one female octopus threw silt 10 times at a male from a nearby den who was attempting to mate with her. She hit him on five occasions. ‘That sequence was one of the ones that convinced me [it was intentional],’ says Godfrey-Smith. On four of these occasions, the male tried to “duck”, though he didn’t always succeed. In two cases, he anticipated the throws from the female’s movements and started dodging before the silt was propelled at him. When targeting others, the octopuses were more likely to throw silt than shells and the throws were also more vigorous.” “On two occasions, an octopus hit a fish, though one of these collisions appeared to have been accidental. The animals also seemed to target the camera on occasion, hitting the tripod twice. While the throwing appears to be used as a form of attack, the team hasn’t seen any targeted octopus respond by attacking or throwing things back. What’s more, some throws that happen after intense social interactions aren’t directed at another octopus but into empty space, suggesting the animals might be venting their frustration. In one case, after a male’s advances to a female were rejected, he threw a shell in a random direction and changed colour.”
  • From the Hanging Gardens of Babylon dept: “Jian Mu Tower“—”International design and innovation office CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati has released the design for an office tower in China, whose façade features a vertical hydroponic farm extending the entire height of the building.” “The 218-meter high tower dedicates 10,000 square meters of space on its façade to the cultivation of crops. The vertical hydroponic farm will produce an estimated 270,000 kilograms of food per year, enough to cover the needs of roughly 40,000 people. Jian Mu Tower establishes a self-sustained food supply chain, encompassing the cultivation, harvest, sale and consumption of crops, all inside the same building. In addition, the tower will house offices, a supermarket, and a food court.”
  • China’s fast-fashion spy machine: How shadowy teen brand Shein uses algorithms to harvest data on its users and find out what they want to buy – before its mega-factory spits the clothes out at rock-bottom prices. Fears mounting at senior Government level about Shein’s surveillance tactics. Industry insiders say company is spying on unsuspecting customers by using social media sites and apps collecting vast amounts of customer data. MP Tom Tugendhat has accused the brand of ‘surveillance capitalism’”
  • People are hiring out their faces to become deepfake-style marketing clones. AI-powered characters based on real people can star in thousands of videos and say anything, in any language.”—”Like many students, Liri has had several part-time jobs. A 23-year-old in Israel, she does waitressing and bartending gigs in Tel Aviv, where she goes to university. She also sells cars, works in retail, and conducts job interviews and onboarding sessions for new employees as a corporate HR rep. In Germany. Liri can juggle so many jobs, in multiple countries, because she has hired out her face to Hour One, a startup that uses people’s likenesses to create AI-voiced characters that then appear in marketing and educational videos for organizations around the world.”
  • Tweet thread—”NASA “reluctantly agrees” to extend the stay on SpaceX’s HLS contract by a week bc the 7GB+ of case-related docs in the Blue Origin suit keeps causing DOJ’s Adobe software to crash and key NASA staff were busy at Space Symposium this week, causing delays to a filing deadline. lol” How’s that privatizing of space going for you now?
  • TikTok, Reddit, and Facebook are struggling with ivermectin misinformation. Like other false cures, the drug is highlighting the misinformation problem on social media.”
  • Anti-vaxx lawyer for dozens of Capitol rioters is now on a ‘ventilator’ with COVID-19: report.”
  • Texas Anti-Mask ‘Freedom Rally’ Organizer Fighting For His Life With COVID-19. His pregnant wife said this week that the hospital was ‘out of options’ for her husband.”
  • Veteran dies of treatable illness as COVID fills hospital beds, leaving doctors ‘playing musical chairs’“—”‘He loved his country,’ his mother, Michelle Puget, told ‘CBS This Morning’ lead national correspondent David Begnaud. ‘He served two deployments in Afghanistan, came home with a Purple Heart, and it was a gallstone that took him out.'”
  • Watch “The First Great Plague: A Neolithic Apocalypse?“—”What caused the Neolithic Decline in Europe? Was it the first great plague in history? And if so, did it cause a Neolithic apocalypse?”
  • Tweet—”JUST IN: Judge Cooper sides with parents, students and public health OVERTURNING @GovRonDeSantis’s ban on school mask mandates!Clapping hands sign. PLOT TWIST: Judge cites GOP’s own ‘Parental Bill of Rights’ allowing school districts to make ‘reasonable’ exceptions to protect health & safety.”
  • Anatomy of an Officer-Involved Explosion: a Post-Mortem on LAPD’s E. 27th Street Fireworks Blast. A year ago, a councilmember co-authored a motion to shift $150mil from LAPD’s budget. A month ago, LAPD called everyone but his office to watch them detonate fireworks in his district. The botched operation rocked the city.”
  • Capitol Police Officers Sue Trump and Allies Over Election Lies and Jan. 6. The suit, which took a broad view of the riot’s origins, was the latest effort to hold former President Donald J. Trump accountable for the Capitol attack.”
  • Judge Refers ‘Kraken’ Lawyers For Potential ‘Disbarment’ In Scathing Opinion Over Big Lie.”
  • Niall Ferguson on why the end of America’s empire won’t be peaceful. As it leaves Afghanistan in chaos, America’s decline mirrors Britain’s a century ago. It may also invite wider conflict, warns a historian.”
  • Tweet—”The Home Office admitted that callers to its emergency Afghan aid hotline had been redirected to a washing machine repair company.”
  • Afghan all-girl robotics team members, journalists land in Mexico.”
  • Bernie Sanders’s Third Campaign. As chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders’s big-government message has found its moment.” Tweet—”Expanded Medicare to cover vision, hearing, dental. Paid family and medical leave. Free community college. Climate Corps to create good jobs and save the planet. This transformational budget plan is a major downpayment on America’s future.”
  • Evolution Deniers Are Finally a Minority in the U.S.. A recent study found that acceptance of evolution among Americans has increased, even among religious fundamentalists.”
  • Remote Work May Now Last for Two Years, Worrying Some Bosses. The longer that Covid-19 keeps people home, the harder it may be to get them back to offices; ‘There is no going back'”
  • Some Americans No Longer Believe in the Common Good. They now are thinking only of themselves.”—”Most of the blame should go to politicians who care more about stirring up fear to defeat their opponents than they do about people’s lives or the economy. And I blame anyone who intentionally spreads misinformation to further their own agenda.”
  • Watch “I Changed Astronomy Forever. He Won the Nobel Prize for It.”—”Growing up in a Quaker household, Jocelyn Bell Burnell was raised to believe that she had as much right to an education as anyone else. But as a girl in the 1940s in Northern Ireland, her enthusiasm for the sciences was met with hostility from teachers and male students. Undeterred, she went on to study radio astronomy at Glasgow University, where she was the only woman in many of her classes. In 1967, Burnell made a discovery that altered our perception of the universe. As a Ph.D. student at Cambridge University assisting the astronomer Anthony Hewish, she discovered pulsars — compact, spinning celestial objects that give off beams of radiation, like cosmic lighthouses. (A visualization of some early pulsar data is immortalized as the album art for Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures.’) But as Ben Proudfoot’s ‘The Silent Pulse of the Universe’ shows, the world wasn’t yet ready to accept that a breakthrough in astrophysics could have come from a young woman.”
  • Al Capone’s Possessions, Now for Sale, Show Two Sides of the Gangster. His granddaughters said they hoped an auction of his belongings would show that Capone was more than a ruthless mob boss. He was also a family man.”
  • The death of the job. What if paid work were no longer the centerpiece of American life?”—”Since about the 1940s, Americans have been encouraged to look to their jobs for nearly all of life’s necessities: a living wage, health insurance, and retirement benefits, as well as intangibles like friendship, identity, and a sense of purpose. But these benefits were never universal, and they became less and less common as the years went by.”
  • The end of fandom may be here“—”Louis C.K. recently kicked off a new standup tour with a sold-out pair of shows in New York. Against the backdrop of a giant “Sorry” sign, he delivered a set that — according to a reporter who was there — included gags about pedophilia, his penis, ‘gay jokes, Jew jokes, cancer jokes, a heavy helping of transgender jokes, and a sprinkling of additional race jokes.’ After reading about this, I’m the one who’s sorry. I’m sorry for spending so much time with his comedy in years past, for ignoring the media whispers about his behavior long before it was made public, for evangelizing to friends about how great he was. C.K.’s appalling turn into the king of the d-bags is enough to make me throw my hands up and say: Is it possible to be a fan of anyone or anything anymore?” “Perhaps fandom — defined as the attachment to the artist as creator — should no longer be the point.”
  • If it’s not made of people, what is even the point? “Are you ready to eat your delicious nutrient square? Yum, yum, yum 63 SquarEat asks a simple question: what if food were squares?”—”Slap bang in the middle of a Venn diagram with two circles labelled ‘sincere tech startups’ and ‘dystopian satires that are a little on the nose’ you will find SquarEat: a company that you would swear is a joke if you weren’t already familiar with how the simulation we’re all living in likes to collide fact and fiction. SquarEat was apparently born of a simple idea: what if you could eat squares? But boy oh boy does it deliver on that premise.”
  • Catholic church ‘on edge’ as Grindr data threatens to out Vatican officials. A Catholic news site has claimed that there are ‘at least 16’ Grindr users within the Vatican, sparking fears that high-ranking gay priests could soon be outed.”
  • Browse over one million newly digitized images from Yale’s Beinecke Library“—”Exciting news for the research-inclined: Yale University has launched a new digital collections platform, where users can view all digitized collections material from Yale’s Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library. Over time, other Yale Library digital collections will be moved there, but for now, the public can still browse over one million images. The interface allows users to search documents by subject, format, genre, resource type, language, creator, geography, and date; users can also browse highlights of the collections. If you don’t know where to start, how about the Langston Hughes Papers? Or the manuscript of Dante Alighieri’s Divina Commedia? Or the Gutenberg Bible? Or George Gershwin’s original Porgy and Bess score? Or “Anthony Comstock shuddering at the sight of an unshelled peanut”? Or James Baldwin’s poems, typed and corrected? Or, if you want to be meta about it, photos of Beinecke Library’s own construction?”
  • “A Decentralized Fantasy World. Nine Chronicles is a fully decentralized RPG powered by the players. Play, mine, govern together: this world is yours to keep.” “Utilizing groundbreaking technology, Nine Chronicles is a blockchain MMORPG powered by the players, set in a world that can never be shut down. Governed by the community, and supported by a complex economy where supply and demand are the greatest currency, Nine Chronicles invites you to aid the goddess Freya in her eternal struggle against an evil ravaging the land.”
  • Pumpers, Dumpers, and Shills: The Skycoin Saga. The cryptocurrency promised to change the world and make its users rich in the process. Then it began to fall apart.”
  • Watch “The Game. The Story of Hurling- Episode 1“—”To celebrate #HeritageWeek, we are delighted to be able to share the popular TV series ‘The Game’ with you. Over four episodes, The Game celebrates the skill (and art) of Hurling. Available for a limited time only.” Also, watch “Limerick are All-Ireland Hurling Champions.”
  • Watch “All you need to know about booleying“—”Eugene Costello tells us about the Irish tradition where rural folks would move with their animals to the hills for the summer.”
  • Watch “Popular Medieval Memes Explained“—”The hilarious explanations behind some of the popular medieval art memes you may have seen online without context.”
  • Watch “Everything Stops for Tea – Look at Life (1962)“—”A short featurette from 1962 on the British obsession with Tea.”
  • Like the Mandalorian’s volume using a game engine, but only using chroma key replacement not actual projection. “The secrets of the BBC’s Tokyo 2020 studio.”
  • Watch “Explaining White Privilege with D&D“—”A rough video explaining white privilege in terms of advantage and disadvantage from D&D.”
  • Tumblr—”How the fuck can there be anti vaccine “witches?” If you disagree with binding an invisible malignant entity into a single drop of potion that seals a subject’s blood against the full force of that very same entity’s curse then you are not and can never be a witch you’re just a karen who buys rocks”
  • I mean, finally some good news: Tweet—”Tucker Carlson: Being trans is like ‘saying you’re God, and that is satanic'”
  • Narrator voice: No. No they aren’t. “Marvel Disney Introducing Pedophile Group Into the MCU.” Someone’s been sipping on the crazy sauce. “Interestingly enough, Professor X and Namor art happen to resemble either Satanists Aleister Crowley and/or Anton Lavey, which some fans think was made to look like writer Brian Michael Bendis.” The rest is pure stupid.
  • Can’t it be both? “Attack of the giant rodents or class war? Argentina’s rich riled by new neighbors. Hordes of capybaras have taken up residence at a gated community, sparking a debate on the environment and inequality.”—”Nordelta is Argentina’s most well-known gated community: an enclave of spacious homes for the rich amid a dreamy landscape of lakes and streams north of Buenos Aires. But environmentalists question its very existence because it is built on the wetlands of the Paraná, the second most important river in South America after the Amazon. Now, however, nature is fighting back against Nordelta’s well-heeled residents.”
  • The Nevers on HBO starts out as just a kind of Victorian X-men, but by the time it gets to the mid-season finale the twist is wild. I won’t spoil it, except to say the Claudia Black makes an appearance in episode 6 and it is fantastic, both what she brings to it, and what it means for the show. “August, 1896. Victorian London is rocked to its foundations by a supernatural event which gives certain people — mostly women — abnormal abilities, from the wondrous to the disturbing. But no matter their particular ‘turns,’ all who belong to this new underclass are in grave danger. It falls to mysterious, quick-fisted widow Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) and brilliant young inventor Penance Adair (Ann Skelly) to protect and shelter these gifted ‘orphans.’ To do so, they will have to face the brutal forces determined to annihilate their kind. Part One of the first season of The Nevers is executive produced by Joss Whedon, Bernadette Caulfield, Ilene S. Landress, Doug Petrie, Jane Espenson and Philippa Goslett. Daniel S. Kaminsky co-executive produces. Part Two’s six episodes will premiere at a later date. Check back for more updates as they are revealed.” With Joss Whedon’s exit, due to reasons you may know about, I’m personally hoping that Jane Espenson is promoted to show-runner. I bet she’ll knock it out of the park. Also, after you’ve seen it, or if you don’t care about spoilers, read this: “Claudia Black on Her Surprise ‘The Nevers’ Role, the Joss Whedon Situation, and Breaking the Cycles of Trauma. ‘By starting to have these discussions, we are now starting to weave a culture that makes space for the radical changes that are necessary.'”

Omnium Gatherum: 25aug2021

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

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

  • Hundreds of US Museums Will Be Free on September 18“—”After a forced hiatus last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day will return on September 18, 2021, offering free admission to hundreds of museums nationwide.”
  • Josephine Baker to Be Honored With a Panthéon Burial. Ms. Baker will be the first Black woman to be entombed in the Panthéon in Paris, a symbolic move amid racial tensions in France.”
  • Apparently, yesterday was National Waffle Day? Okay. “Pass the syrup and enjoy a slice of history for National Waffle Day“—”The National Museum of American History’s Domestic Life collection includes waffle irons that date from the early 18th century through the mid-20th century. They provide a glimpse into American eating habits as well as innovations that shaped the domestic sphere. What better way to take advantage of National Waffle Day than to explore the tasty history of one of our most beloved breakfast treats? Today’s date is significant because it is the date of the first patent issued for a waffle iron. On August 24, 1869, the U.S. Patent Office issued a patent to Cornelius Swartwout of Troy, New York, for his design for an ‘Improvement in Waffle-Irons.'”
  • The Private and the Public. What we can learn from Wittgenstein.”—”Those living in repressive societies will be familiar with the distinction between what they feel able to say or write and what they must keep to themselves. And they will also know to distinguish between what is written or said and the private thoughts of its author. The distinction is, in fact, known to all of us even in so-called free societies. Considerations of prudence, politeness, propriety, shame or guilt make us refrain from giving expression to many things we think or feel or they get us, at least, to modify and tame our words. I may not tell my boss what exactly I think of him for reasons of prudence. I may not give voice to the pain I feel in order not to upset my companions. I may not comment aloud on a lecture in progress for reasons of propriety. I may not use the swear word that has come to my mind for reasons of politeness. But we also look at others and wonder whether any of those reasons have made them be silent about their inner feelings and thoughts or circumspect in expressing them. We describe the distinction that opens up in this way as one between the public and the private. Thoughts and feelings are private, we say, whereas words and actions are public. I want to talk here about Wittgenstein’s remarks on privacy in his Philosophical Investigations but will do so in a roundabout manner.”
  • The Master and Margarita [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Mikhail Bulgakov, trans. Diana Burgin and Katherine Tiernan O’Connor, re-issue due September 2021—”The acclaimed, bestselling translation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s masterwork, an undisputed classic of Russian and world literature. An audacious revision of the stories of Faust and Pontius Pilate, The Master and Margarita is recognized as one of the essential classics of modern Russian literature. The novel’s vision of Soviet life in the 1930s is so ferociously accurate that it could not be published during its author’s lifetime and appeared only in a censored edition in the 1960s. Its truths are so enduring that its language has become part of the common Russian speech. Now The Overlook Press is reissuing this acclaimed translation in an all-new package. One hot spring, the devil arrives in Moscow, accompanied by a retinue that includes a beautiful naked witch and an immense talking black cat with a fondness for chess and vodka. The visitors quickly wreak havoc in a city that refuses to believe in either God or Satan. But they also bring peace to two unhappy Muscovites: one is the Master, a writer pilloried for daring to write a novel about Christ and Pontius Pilate; the other is Margarita, who loves the Master so deeply that she is willing to literally go to hell for him. What ensues is a novel of inexhaustible energy, humor, and philosophical depth, a work whose nuances splendidly emerge in Diana Burgin’s and Katherine Tiernan O’Connor’s superb English translation, with an afterword and extensive commentary by Ellendea Proffer.”
  • We All Know Columbus Didn’t Discover America—So How Did He Become a Symbol of Its Founding? Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on the Erasure of This Continent’s Original Inhabitants.” Excerpt from Not “A Nation of Immigrants”: Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy, and a History of Erasure and Exclusion [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz—”Debunks the pervasive and self-congratulatory myth that our country is proudly founded by and for immigrants, and urges readers to embrace a more complex and honest history of the United States. Whether in political debates or discussions about immigration around the kitchen table, many Americans, regardless of party affiliation, will say proudly that we are a nation of immigrants. In this bold new book, historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz asserts this ideology is harmful and dishonest because it serves to mask and diminish the US’s history of settler colonialism, genocide, white supremacy, slavery, and structural inequality, all of which we still grapple with today. She explains that the idea that we are living in a land of opportunity–founded and built by immigrants–was a convenient response by the ruling class and its brain trust to the 1960s demands for decolonialization, justice, reparations, and social equality. Moreover, Dunbar-Ortiz charges that this feel good–but inaccurate–story promotes a benign narrative of progress, obscuring that the country was founded in violence as a settler state, and imperialist since its inception. While some of us are immigrants or descendants of immigrants, others are descendants of white settlers who arrived as colonizers to displace those who were here since time immemorial, and still others are descendants of those who were kidnapped and forced here against their will. This paradigm shifting new book from the highly acclaimed author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States charges that we need to stop believing and perpetuating this simplistic and a historical idea and embrace the real (and often horrific) history of the United States.”
  • How Does the Biological Heart Have to Do With Our Emotions?” Excerpt from The Source of All Things: A Heart Surgeon’s Quest to Understand Our Most Mysterious Organ [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Reinhard Friedl with with Shirley Michaela Seul—”In the tradition of Henry Marsh’s Do No Harm, Reinhard Friedl’s The Source of All Things is a heart surgeon’s personal investigation of the human heart, moving from his riveting clinical experiences to a more poetic understanding of its workings. The heart is our most important organ. Yet despite that it has not changed since the appearance of Homo sapiens 300,000 years ago, it is also our most mysterious. In most human cultures, it is seen as the source of love, sympathy, joy, courage, strength and wisdom. What if the heart could answer questions neurosciences can’t begin to? Having witnessed the extraordinary complexity and unpredictability of human hearts in the operating theatre—each one individual, like a fingerprint—heart surgeon Reinhard Friedl looked again at this “primitive pump” to reconcile it with his experiences from thousands of heart operations. In this book, he presents findings from various scientific disciplines, such as secret connections of the heart and brain and their influence on emotions and consciousness. He reveals the miracle that is the heart that we speak about so often yet is strangely foreign to many human beings. Full of compelling patient stories, The Source of All Things ends with a plea: that we recognize the heart’s wisdom and adopt a more heart-centered way of living, leading to greater health and more joy.”
  • Ants use soil physics to excavate metre-long tunnels that last decades“—”Ant colonies can descend several metres underground, house millions of insects and last for decades, despite being made without the benefit of machinery and reinforcing material. The secrets of these impressive architectural structures are being revealed by three-dimensional X-ray imaging and computer simulations, and could be used to develop robotic mining machines.”
  • International Trio of Mars Orbiters Shows Small Dust Storms Help Dry Out the Red Planet.”—”By combining observations from three international spacecraft at Mars, scientists were able to show that regional dust storms play a huge role in drying out the Red Planet.”
  • Wearable Fitness Trackers Useful in Cancer Treatment, Study Finds. Chemotherapy is a powerful tool in the fight against cancer, but so is data, according to a new study led by USC computer science researchers.”
  • From the Tesseract dept: “This May Be a ‘Heisenberg Cube’ From the Nazis’ Failed Nuke Program, Scientists Say. The Nazis tried to develop nuclear weapons during WWII. This uranium cube at a Washington laboratory may have been part of this secret program.”
  • From 2019: “Neanderthals Produced Wooden Spears Advanced Enough to Kill at Distance. In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, a team of researchers from University College London and Nordic Sport (UK) Limited examined the performance of replicas of the 300,000-year-old Schöningen hand-thrown spears to identify whether javelin throwers could use them to hit a target at distance.”
  • Watch “Why the Moon?” from NASA—”The Artemis missions will build a community on the Moon, driving a new lunar economy and inspiring a new generation. Narrator Drew Barrymore and NASA team members explain why returning to the Moon is the natural next step in human exploration, and how the lessons learned from Artemis will pave the way to Mars and beyond. As NASA prepares to launch the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket on the uncrewed Artemis I mission around the Moon, we’ve already begun to take the next step.”
  • Fastest orbiting asteroid found in our solar system.”—”A newly discovered asteroid is sticking close to our sun — much closer than our own planet Earth. The asteroid, called 2021 PH27, completes an orbit around the sun every 113 days and comes within 12.4 million miles (20 million kilometers) of our star. That gives this space rock the distinction of having the shortest known orbital period for an asteroid — and only the second shortest orbit around the sun after Mercury, which takes 88 days to complete its orbital journey around our star.”
  • A Big Study About Honesty Turns Out To Be Based On Fake Data. Renowned psychologist Dan Ariely literally wrote the book on dishonesty. Now some are questioning whether the scientist himself is being dishonest.” Also “Famed Duke expert on human dishonesty suspected of fraud. Manipulated data in study of truth and behaviour threatens career of popular TED Talk star Dan Ariely.”—”The person who fabricated the data did not expect anyone to look at them with care.”
  • Open-Source Insulin: Biohackers Aiming for Distributed Production.” See Open Insulin Foundation.
  • Turtles all the way up. “How Big Can the Quantum World Be? Physicists Probe the Limits. By showing that even large objects can exhibit bizarre quantum behaviors, physicists hope to illuminate the mystery of quantum collapse, identify the quantum nature of gravity, and perhaps even make Schrödinger’s cat a reality.”—”These questions have been around throughout the century-long history of quantum theory. Now, for the first time, researchers are on the cusp of being able to answer them — and perhaps to point the way toward describing how gravity fits into the quantum world. ‘I’ve been working on macroscopic superpositions for 10 years,’ said the quantum theorist Oriol Romero-Isart of the University of Innsbruck in Austria, one of the leaders in the field, ‘but now we’re at a very timely moment.’ In the coming years, we might discover whether or not the world is quantum all the way up.”
  • Drinking sufficient water could prevent heart failure“—”‘Our study suggests that maintaining good hydration can prevent or at least slow down the changes within the heart that lead to heart failure,’ said study author Dr. Natalia Dmitrieva of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, US. ‘The findings indicate that we need to pay attention to the amount of fluid we consume every day and take action if we find that we drink too little.’ Recommendations on daily fluid intake vary from 1.6 to 2.1 litres for women and 2 to 3 litres for men. However, worldwide surveys have shown that many people do not meet even the lower ends of these ranges. Serum sodium is a precise measure of hydration status: when people drink less fluid, the concentration of serum sodium increases. The body then attempts to conserve water, activating processes known to contribute to the development of heart failure.”
  • New chemistry enables using existing technology to print stretchable, bendable circuits on artificial skin. Stanford researchers show how to print dense transistor arrays on skin-like materials to create stretchable circuits that flex with the body to perform applications yet to be imagined.”
  • OMG. Fuck. This is awful. “What’s causing the worst die-off of manatees? Starvation from Florida ecosystem collapse.”—”Partly because of the pandemic, necropsies were not done on two-thirds of the dead in Brevard. But by February, authorities had learned that winter cold was not the culprit. They knew from manatees’ contorted bodies and from finding nearly no seagrass in the lagoon they were dying of malnutrition. Widely beloved as irresistibly cuddly, manatees are among Florida’s strongest, hardiest creatures, able to heal from vicious propeller wounds. Death by starvation is as inhumane as any of the assaults Florida has inflicted on manatees. Caretakers said suffering lasted months. Many lost nearly half of their weight. While still alive, bones pierced thinning skin and, remarkable to veterinarians, heart, liver and other organs were liquifying. To survive, the animals consumed their fat and muscle. They lost buoyancy and, becoming too exhausted to swim, could no longer raise their heads for air.”
  • We thought we knew how our brains understand speech. We were wrong. New findings suggest that your brain hears sounds and words separately and simultaneously, instead of the long-standing assumption that the mind processes sound to turn it into familiar words.”
  • China eyes ‘ultra-large spacecraft’ spanning miles in US$2.3m crewed mission push. Science and technology ministry’s funding arm proposes five-year project on building ‘ultra-large spacecraft’ to aid exploration and stay in long-term orbit. Researchers will be tasked with minimising the weight of the spacecraft to reduce the number of launches and construction costs.”
  • What if data had funerals too? If we are about to become this digital civilisation as it has been commonly stated, and if funerals are considered by anthropologists one of the foundations of a civilisation, we may have to imagine funerals for our precious data. However, do we value our data enough to grant funerals for these once-beloved traces of our life when they are gone? And are they even gone? Data Funerals explore and question our relation to the fragility of data, be they personal or not, through a design fiction work. This series of speculative rituals and near-future scenarios explore how we could – today and tomorrow – predict, conjure, grieve, mourn, remember the disappearance of our data and the decay of their silicium bodies.”
  • Are You Ready for Sentient Disney Robots? Some of the animatronics at Disney’s parks have been doing their herky-jerky thing since the Nixon administration. The company knows that nostalgia won’t cut it with today’s children.”
  • How Apple will (eventually) replace the iPhone. Here’s what will replace the iPhone (eventually)”—”Which raises the question: what happens after the smartphone? Every big tech company in the world—well, the smart ones at least—has got to be looking down the road to figure out where our digital future is headed, and Apple’s no exception.” “As elegant as the design of the iPhone is, at the end of the day it’s a box that sits in your pocket or that you hold in your hand, and there remains something fundamentally clunky about bestowing all this significance to an oblong solid of glass and steel. And, if there’s one thing that Apple just can’t seem to resist, it’s trying to push our technological devices to become even more elegant.
  • Facebook, Fearing Public Outcry, Shelved Earlier Report on Popular Posts. The company praised itself this week for being ‘the most transparent platform on the internet.'” Also “Facebook says post that cast doubt on covid-19 vaccine was most popular on the platform from January through March. The social-media platform’s Saturday evening acknowledgment comes after a lengthy internal debate over whether to share data.” Tweet—”I’ve long compared Facebook to Big Tobacco and here’s the latest parallel: Facebook knew internally that it was facilitating the deaths of thousands of people through misinformation, and not only did nothing about it, but withheld its knowledge from public.”
  • Terms of Service. Inside Social Media’s War on Sex Workers.”
  • Tweet—”Thank you to everyone for making your voices heard. We have secured assurances necessary to support our diverse creator community and have suspended the planned October 1 policy change. OnlyFans stands for inclusion and we will continue to provide a home for all creators.” Tweet—”As damage control goes this is weak. Once you destroy your customers’ trust, you’re not getting it back that easy.” Tweet—”Ok but you’re back to calling us creators. You can call us sex workers. Or is this your subtle way of going back to ignoring us”. Tweet—”Waitresses and therapists are actually the outermost ring of sexwork” Also tweet—”Two years ago, @Mastercard told me they wouldn’t shut down white supremacist orgs because it’s not their place to stop transactions unless they’re illegal. (This is the transcript from the 2019 annual shareholder meeting.)” Also tweet—”According to trafficking survivor @RoseKalemba, her one-time friend @LailaMickelwait, public face of Exodus Cry, one of the biggest antiporn ministries, has been secretly storing, sharing and — when expedient — uploading CSAM abuse material onto platforms herself.” Tweet—”At first, the anti-trafficking movement felt like a lifeline. Hardly anyone had ever cared about what I went through before. But it quickly became yet another thing that would traumatize me. This was a very painful piece to write. Please share, thank you.” Also thread—”I know a lot of you feel hopeless right now, but I watching this unfold, I want to contextualize a few things about the battle ahead. #1 Exodus Cry and NCOSE are scrambling: 95% of coverage about OnlyFans supports SWers. They didn’t expect this, and now want to shift blame. 1/” “One last point: only sex workers could have done this! Not studios, not OnlyFans, not me. Nobody cares about a billion dollar company. But they do care about every day people fighting to survive — and thrive — in a harsh world. Never forget how powerful you are.” Thread—”there are something like 60,000 coal miners in the US, and we hear endlessly about their jobs. with up to 2 million content creators impacted by new MasterCard pushed policy on OnlyFans, literally no mainstream paper I’ve looked at seems to have front paged this development.” Tweet—”I don’t want to be an alarmist but this is something we should all start preparing for. The day after PornHub went down the antis started talking about OnlyFans. Now that OnlyFans has bowed to their whims they are setting their sights on Twitter.” Tweet—”This should concern everyone. This is an easy way to expand surveillance by the state. She keeps treating platforms as the problem instead of the abusers. Why? She wants to keep marginalizing the people with the least power, isolating them, & INCREASING vulnerability to violence.” Tweet—”Laila and Exodus Cry make millions off of these harmful campaigns. They won’t stop; it’s too good for their pockets. On top of that, they don’t help survivors. Donors think their money is going to survivors but that doesn’t seem to be the case.”
  • Ultra-Vaxxed Israel’s Crisis Is a Dire Warning to America. ‘I don’t want to frighten you,’ Israel’s COVID czar Dr. Salman Zarka told parliament this week. ‘But… unfortunately, the numbers don’t lie.'”
  • Why we’re happy hobbits in Jacinda’s ‘mysterious socialist hermit kingdom’. Some British media have been mocking New Zealand for going into Covid lockdown over one case, but it’s hard to find downsides to the approach.”—”The New Zealand lockdowns are effective: we’ve had just 26 people die of Covid, a number which – and I cannot stress this enough – is very different from more than 130,000, the current UK death tally.”
  • From the Neologism dept: “Tweet—”A lot of the commentary around Australia’s “opening up” takes it as a binary: we’re either open or we’re closed. But the plan everyone is arguing about foresees a transition. There is a significant period of time when we can expect to be both closed and open i.e, clopen.”
  • Pandemic Paralysis“—”I’m continually appalled by how easily people move from ‘the consequences of doing X are uncertain’ to ‘X must be banned!’, even when there would seem every reason to expect that X actually has high expected value and ought to be encouraged, if anything.”
  • Costa Ricans Live Longer Than Us. What’s the Secret? We’ve starved our public-health sector. The Costa Rica model demonstrates what happens when you put it first.”
  • Dead Line.Future corporate profits are officially more important than life on Earth.”—”The human tragedy is that there is no connection between what we know and what we do. Almost everyone is now at least vaguely aware that we face the greatest catastrophe our species has ever confronted. Yet scarcely anyone alters their behaviour in response: above all, their driving, flying and consumption of meat and dairy.” “No government, even the most progressive, is yet prepared to contemplate the transformation we need: a global programme that places the survival of humanity and the rest of life on Earth above all other issues. We need not just new policy, but a new ethics. We need to close the gap between knowing and doing. But this conversation has scarcely begun.”
  • COVID-19 outbreak among Cyber Ninjas staff delays delivery of full Arizona Senate audit.”
  • Here is how Trump is trying to raise cash as he faces a mountain of debt“—”As Peyser notes, Trump has been keeping busy creating cash streams that could help him lighten his load — many involving raising funds from his rabid supporters. ‘Trump is still soliciting political donations, although it’s unclear what he needs the money for,’ she wrote, pointing to his ‘Save America Joint Fundraising Committee’ website that allows donations and automatically enrolls the contributor into a recurring donation loop, despite reports that the campaign has been forced to refund over $122 million to those ‘who unwittingly checked the box.’ ‘Whatever Trump is up to, it seems to be working; as of last month, he had a war chest of more than $100 million,’ Peyser wrote. ‘Financial Times reported that this money was raised via multiple fundraising vehicles, ‘some left over from his 2020 presidential campaign, others newly launched, making it difficult to keep track of the money Trump has raised and what he is able to use it for.””
  • GOP Pays Rudy Giuliani Associates Wrapped Up in Ukraine Probe. The Republican National Committee recently paid $20,000 to DiGenova & Toensing LLP, a law firm helmed by two GOP insiders with alleged ties to Giuliani’s Ukrainian dealings.”
  • Tweet—This clip of a security control room at Iran’s most notorious prison being shut down by hackers is straight out of a movie. Hackers are now leaking stolen CCTV from across the Evin prison to highlight the abuse of inmates, per @AP.” “Iran official acknowledges videos of Evin prison abuse real.”
  • Andrew Cuomo Was Only Ever Good at Cruel Manipulation. And the very thing he and his crew delighted in so much—dehumanizing others for their own advancement and enjoyment—is the thing that brought them down.”
  • Namaste nationalism: Yoga, whiteness and extremism on Jan. 6. Liberal v. conservative divisions are a flawed way to understand what happened at the Capitol.”—”We should not be surprised to find so many self-described yogis among the Capitol rioters. Yoga in the U.S. is intertwined with wealth, whiteness, and white supremacy, perhaps a shock to many of its casual practitioners.”
  • Federal Defense Contractors Resume Donations To Republicans Who Rejected Democracy. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon all vowed to halt political contributions after the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Welp!”
  • Makin’ sure she can’t be compelled to testify? “Matt Gaetz, Republican in sex-trafficking investigation, marries in California. Florida congressman denies paying for sex with 17-year-old. Former Rand Paul staffer presides over surprise ceremony.”
  • Tweet—”Magna Carta is (cod) Latin and is old and it sounds impressive, like one of those spells in a certain type of fantasy fiction. ‘I magna carta thee thus!’ But it is, like those spells, a form of magical thinking.” Also “The last Edinburgh Castle siege in 1745 that also ended in total failure. When a group of protestors tried to “seize the castle” on Tuesday night, they weren’t the first to try – or fail. The last attempt was in 1745, when the Jacobite army took the city, but not the castle.”
  • Tweet—”Those who make their arguments with bombs and missiles are ‘moderates’ and ‘centrists’; those who oppose them with words are ‘extremists’. The inconvenient fact that the ‘extremists’ were right and the ‘centrists’ were wrong is today being strenuously forgotten.”
  • Wait. Whut?! “CIA director met Taliban leader in Afghanistan on Monday -sources.”
  • Bush, Obama, Trump, Biden: How four presidents created today’s Afghanistan mess.”
  • Podcast The Philosopher & The News episode “Darrel Moellendorf & Ending War Justly.”—”Is putting an end to war always the just thing to do? Should the costs and sacrifices suffered during a war determine whether the war should continue or end? Or should a war only end when its original aims have been achieved?”
  • Tweet (now hidden, but gander at the responses)—”More companies should just buy a bunch of land somewhere and build company towns. Pay people to move five minutes from the office. Reap the employee satisfaction”. Tweet—”*spits coffee in Western Pennsylvanian*” Tweet—”My company town would be okay because it’s about coding instead of coal extraction”.
  • Who Was Typhoid Mary? Harvard Professor Martin Kulldorff’s Disease Tweet Raises Eyebrows.”—”On Tuesday, Martin Kulldorff, a Harvard Medical School professor who specializes in disease surveillance and outbreaks, expressed concern about people being blamed for infecting others. He tweeted: ‘For thousands of years, disease pathogens have spread from person to person. Never before have carriers been blamed for infecting the next sick person. That is a very dangerous ideology.'” “As of Wednesday morning the tweet had gained thousands of likes and retweets and over 5,000 replies. Many Twitter users criticized Kulldorff’s claim that individuals had never before been blamed for spreading disease and pointed to the case of Typhoid Mary as an example.” Tweet—”Except for typhoid mary, IV drug users, lepers, gay men, basically all of colonial history, typhus in NY in 1892, Venice in 1370, sex worker raids in 1917, and well… like all of human history”. Tweet—”Utterly maniacal gaslighting here. From Typhoid Mary to covering your goddamn mouth when you cough and sneeze to wearing a condom when you bone, minimizing the spread of disease has always been the responsibility of the potential carrier.”
  • Tweet—”The quality public space found within this small French seaside town of 2,300 people exceeds that of most American cities of 230,000. Count the cars to find out why…” Tweet—”People think small European towns like this are charming because of the history or the architecture, but it’s like 95% because they don’t allow cars.”
  • Maine Will Make Companies Pay for Recycling. Here’s How It Works. The law aims to take the cost burden of recycling away from taxpayers. One environmental advocate said the change could be ‘transformative.'”
  • Clark Atlanta University, HBCUs across the country clear student balances and cancel debt with federal funds“—”The Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted the finances of many Black Americans, including student loan borrowers. Black college graduates owe an average of $25,000 more in student loan debt than white college grads, and over 50% of Black borrowers say their net worth is less than what they owe on student loans. Now, a number of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are stepping in to help alleviate that financial burden. With federal funding and private donations, these schools are wiping out current students’ account balances — including tuition and fees — and giving them a fresh start.”
  • ‘Pain compliance’: Video shows trooper pummeling Black man.”—”Graphic body camera video kept secret for more than two years shows a Louisiana State Police trooper pummeling a Black motorist 18 times with a flashlight — an attack the trooper defended as ‘pain compliance.’ ‘I’m not resisting! I’m not resisting!’ Aaron Larry Bowman can be heard screaming between blows on the footage obtained by The Associated Press. The May 2019 beating following a traffic stop left him with a broken jaw, three broken ribs, a broken wrist and a gash to his head that required six staples to close.”
  • Seniors step in to fill missing shifts. Faced with a shortage of workers, a small army of seniors in Sechelt is volunteering to cover shifts at restaurants and other small businesses, rather than see them close their doors because of a lack of workers. Aaron McArthur reports.” Tweet—”Young People refuse to work for slap in the face wages… So old people work for free so that businesses don’t learn that they have to pay living wages… Imagine offering to work for free for an organization who is going out of business because they won’t pay a living wage…”
  • UK food firms beg ministers to let them use prisoners to ease labour shortages. Meat processors and others say they must have more day release workers as they cannot find enough staff.”
  • Tiffany’s Wants You To Think They Inspired a Blue Basquiat Painting“—”Tiffany & Co.’s new marketing campaign, featuring Beyoncé and Jay-Z in front of a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, truly has something for everyone. Fans of the Carters are celebrating the duo’s first appearance together in an ad, while others, perhaps unaware of the advanced stage of capitalism we are in, are horrified that a multibillion-dollar luxury retailer would use the work of a once-fringe artist to sell diamonds. And still, others have been captivated by the painting itself: ‘Equals Pi’ (1982), a canvas covered in Basquiat’s idiosyncratic, seemingly improvisational mix of scribbled texts, motifs, and diagrams, selected by Tiffany for its distinctive robin egg-hued ground reminiscent of the company’s signature ‘Tiffany Blue.'” “The campaign has become mired in controversy, not least because of the company’s claims that it reflects its ‘continued support towards underrepresented communities.'” “Perhaps most contentious, however, has been Tiffany’s own language around ‘Equals Pi’ and its acquisition and marketing of the work on the basis of what may be a chromatic coincidence.” “Amid the Twitter storm, many have rightly noted that Black celebrities, including Beyoncé and Jay-Z, are disproportionately scrutinized for their participation in projects like the Tiffany ad campaign — and that the mass commercialization of Basquiat’s art long preceded this moment.”
  • First full image of ‘new’ Vermeer with uncovered Cupid released by Dresden museum. Drastically altered composition of Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window can now be seen in all its glory ahead of major exhibition.”—”When the discovery was announced to the public in 2019, the senior conservator Uta Neidhardt said that it was ‘the most sensational experience of my career’. She added: ‘It makes it a different painting.’ The layer of overpaint was meticulously removed using a scalpel under a microscope, revealing the startlingly altered composition.” Also Instagram.
  • No Thanks to the Academy. Why isn’t there an English Academy? Blame the plague.”—”The beneficiaries of hundreds of years of (often contentious and politicized) standardization, Anglophones largely agree—in principle, if not in practice—about how to spell the words of the English language. Present-day uniformity notwithstanding, the standardization of English was achieved piecemeal, reflecting no central authority or state-sponsored arbiter of linguistic correctness. While the French, Spanish, and Italian languages are each nominally regulated by a national academy of writers, academics, and civil servants, there is, of course, no English Academy.”
  • Elite Education“—”In an ideal society, I have suggested, there would be no elite colleges, or at least not in their current form. There might well be highly selective institutions devoted to fostering intellectual excellence, just as there might well be highly selective institutions devoted to fostering musical or sporting excellence. But an ideal society would be a just society, and a just society would manifest equal concern for each of its young adults; and although equal concern would not require an exactly equal distribution of resources, departures from equal distribution would have to be justified.” “The political conscience of egalitarians who teach at elite colleges will therefore always be troubled. For among the biggest losers from the democratization of higher education would be people like me who teach at places like Swarthmore and who would be shorn, in the brave new world, of the privilege of closely tending to the intellectual growth of the extraordinarily talented. In the end, then, the tension between the goal of rigorous education and the goal of political progress that besets Swarthmore and similar colleges—the tension that so frequently permeates faculty meetings, however implicitly—is not simply the product of a fudge designed to keep the peace between professors of different persuasions. It is a tension inscribed in the very heart of contemporary academic life and, more generally, in the circumstances of bourgeois life, which enables forms of individual development that are hard to fully endorse yet quite impossible to regret.”
  • The Real College Scandal“—”There’s nothing in your DNA that makes you a philosopher, nor is there some regimen you can run through to transform yourself into one. The closest we have come to devising a system for attuning a person to the intellectual life is to surround her with others aiming at the same thing for as long as the relevant parties can continue to afford it, and hope for the best.” “Universities, especially elite universities, stand as our symbols of the idea of stable intellectual community. For this reason, they also symbolize the problem of the legitimate distribution of intellectual goods—through the course of our lives as well as over a society—and its intractability. Our society has many questions and uncertainties about the just and correct manner of distributing wealth, or health care, or honor, or political power; but these difficulties seem insignificant in comparison to the gaping chasm of total cluelessness we have when it comes to the problem of distributing the very highest goods of all—the intellectual ones.”
  • Why Poet Amanda Gorman Wants to Be President. The 23-year-old believes in the political power of verse, and she’s leaning into her literary talents: ‘I don’t have to change who I am to be a leader.'”
  • National security law: Hong Kong censors told to ban films that breach Beijing-imposed legislation. Under new guidelines, censors must determine whether films support or promote acts of subversion, secession, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces. But some industry figures warn creativity could suffer in industry once known as ‘Hollywood of the Far East’.” Tweet—”Like Hong Kong movies? Buy the blu rays asap. China just passed a law allowing them to retroactively censor Hong Kong films. I’d imagine Stephen Chow’s FROM BEIJING WITH LOVE and anything by Johnnie To and Peng Ho-cheung to come off the market soonish.”
  • Tweet—”I think it is time where God is separating the sheep from the goats….I’m a goat. Because I am not a sheep. I’m not doing what they tell me to do. I’m fighting against it (the vaccine).” Um. Wait. Whuut? I’m not now, nor have I ever been christian, and even I know. But, sure, the metaphor of unvaccinated being goats, separated for sacrifice … is actually kinda darkly on point? Also: Sheep Go To Heaven by Cake—”Sheep go to heaven. Goats go to hell. Sheep go to heaven. Goats go to hell.”
  • “Help! Help! I’m being repressed!” “Monty Python star John Cleese to explore cancel culture in new Channel 4 documentary. John Cleese: Cancel Me will see the comedian ask if it is possible to create comedy without causing offence.” Comments. Also “Taboo: Comedy hasn’t lost its edge yet. Is comedy threatened as people get increasingly sensitive to having their feelings hurt? No offence, but Robin Ince is not convinced.”—”But when you are stepping over the line, are you stepping forwards or backwards? Are you really dressing up reactionary and regressive politics as rebellion? Are you punching down or up?”
  • Why Won’t Anyone Help Me in This Sex Shop?. At 83, and legally blind, I could use some assistance.”
  • Baby on cover of ‘Nevermind’ sues Nirvana alleging child pornography. Spencer Elden, who was photographed nude as an infant and appears on the cover of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album, is suing the band over the image. In the filing, Elden’s lawyer claims the image constitutes child pornography, violating federal laws. Elden is seeking $150,000 in damages from each of the 15 defendants named in the suit.” Tweet—”If the judge doesn’t open the hearing by turning to his counsel and saying ‘here we are now, entertain us’ then what is the point.”
  • FFS, another neologism: polywork. “The Job Juggle: Gen Z and millennial employees embrace the concept of ‘Polywork’.” Also “Polyworking – the new job trend graduates are gunning for. THERE is a growing rejection among millennials and gen Z’s as they attempt to move away from traditional office jobs and into polyworking.” Tweet—”They’ve come up with a new word for desperately working multiple jobs just to be able to afford rent.”
  • Cyberpunk, The Witcher Look Fantastic Tilt-Shifted. Everything looks a lot more relaxing when you zoom out and slow down.”
  • From the Sabbatical dept: “The Dacha Is Russia’s Summer Cure For Urban Life.”—”In the Russian imagination, the dacha occupies a near mythical place. Once the reserve of the landed nobility, the summer house gained popularity with urban professionals in the late 19th century; in the Soviet era the dacha became available to everyone, from writers to factory workers. Nowadays, a dacha can be anything from a two-room shack to an oligarch’s imitation French chateau. Every summer, Russian cities empty out as millions of people escape stuffy, cramped apartments to reconnect with their roots in the countryside.”
  • Crowdfunding effort from April: “Badass Patches for READERS and LIBRARY People. Do you admire biker jackets but prefer reading to the open road? These patches from the Library Comic team are for you.” Also Library Comic Store.
  • Tweet—”We may end up with one Jeopardy! host in Avignon and one Jeopardy! host in Rome.”
  • Tweet—”Sad to hear we’ve lost Bertrand Russell at the age of 148 today. His work on philosophy and activism on nuclear issues was admirable. But it as the drummer of the Rolling Stones (under the stage name “Charlie Watts”) that he will be best remembered.”