Omnium Gatherum: 16jun2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for June 16, 2021

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

  • In collaboration with Hermetic Library (and Odd Order!) Anthology Artist Children of Osiris, I’m currently running a special offer for a gratis download code for their album Abramelin to Hermetic Library Patrons on Patreon and Subscribers on Bandcamp on a first-come basis, and I’ve still got a lot left, so if you’d like to get in on that, do consider jumping in, even if it is just a buck a month in the tip jar!
  • And, again for Hermetic Library, but you might be interested, I’ve got an open Call for submissions to Magick, Music and Ritual 16; as well as I am looking for people to send something in for the Zine which I’m still faintly hoping to get out for Aphelion, but I definitely need more submissions for that to happen (but if it doesn’t, there will be a release for Perihelion in January instead.)
  • Loki’s Place in Trickster Mythology. Smithsonian’s James Deutsch says that behind the character in the new Marvel Studios series lies the oft-told story of “guile” outsmarting authority.”
  • Philosophy of the Sky [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher] by Evan Isoline—”Philosophy of the Sky is not a work of philosophy in an academic or traditional sense. It is, however, highly philosophical, totemic, and personal. In the book, Evan uses the sky as an abstract philosophical concept, like a cinematic backdrop, to explore conceptual associations between selfhood, objecthood, the body, apocalypticism, masculinity, masturbation, and self-destruction. The text, symbol, and glyph are partially augmented by chance cut-up processes such as language translators, Markov chain generators, and AI natural language generators for the purpose of eliminating narrative preconception, discovering subconscious visual realms, and spotlighting a point of tension between natural and artificial aesthetic forms. The formatting of text becomes an important cinematographic framing tool.”
  • Homegrown Fascism.” Excerpt from Being Numerous: Essays on Non-Fascist Life [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Natasha Lennard—”An urgent challenge to the prevailing moral order from one of the freshest, most compelling voices in radical politics today. Being Numerous shatters the mainstream consensus on politics and personhood, offering in its place a bracing analysis of a perilous world and how we should live in it. Beginning with an interrogation of what it means to fight fascism, Natasha Lennard explores the limits of individual rights, the criminalization of political dissent, the myths of radical sex, and the ghosts in our lives. At once politically committed and philosophically capacious, Being Numerous is a revaluation of the idea that the personal is political, and situates as the central question of our time—How can we live a non-fascist life?”
  • We’ve Been Telling the Alamo Story Wrong for Nearly 200 Years. Now It’s Time to Correct the Record.”—”Imagine if the U.S. were to open interior Alaska for colonization and, for whatever reason, thousands of Canadian settlers poured in, establishing their own towns, hockey rinks and Tim Hortons stores. When the U.S. insists they follow American laws and pay American taxes, they refuse. When the government tries to collect taxes, they shoot and kill American soldiers. When law enforcement goes after the killers, the colonists, backed by Canadian financing and mercenaries, take up arms in open revolt. As an American, how would you feel?” “If that’s not the version of history you’re familiar with, you’re not alone.” “What happened in the past can’t change. But the way we view it does—and, as a state and a country, now is the time to teach the next generation our history, not our myths.” By Bryan Burrough and Jason Stanford, the authors, with Chris Tomlinson, of Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”Three noted Texan writers combine forces to tell the real story of the Alamo, dispelling the myths, exploring why they had their day for so long, and explaining why the ugly fight about its meaning is now coming to a head. Every nation needs its creation myth, and since Texas was a nation before it was a state, it’s no surprise that its myths bite deep. There’s no piece of history more important to Texans than the Battle of the Alamo, when Davy Crockett and a band of rebels went down in a blaze of glory fighting for independence from Mexico, losing the battle but setting Texas up to win the war. However, that version of events, as Forget the Alamo definitively shows, owes more to fantasy than reality. Just as the site of the Alamo was left in ruins for decades, its story was forgotten and twisted over time, with the contributions of Tejanos–Texans of Mexican origin, who fought alongside the Anglo rebels–scrubbed from the record, and the origin of the conflict over Mexico’s push to abolish slavery papered over. Forget the Alamo provocatively explains the true story of the battle against the backdrop of Texas’s struggle for independence, then shows how the sausage of myth got made in the Jim Crow South of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. As uncomfortable as it may be to hear, celebrating the Alamo has long had an echo of celebrating whiteness. In the past forty-some years, waves of revisionists have come at this topic, and at times have made real progress toward a more nuanced and inclusive story that doesn’t alienate anyone. But we are not living in one of those times; the fight over the Alamo’s meaning has become more pitched than ever in the past few years, even violent, as Texas’s future begins to look more and more different from its past. It’s the perfect time for a wise and generous-spirited book that shines the bright light of the truth into a place that’s gotten awfully dark.”
  • Tweet—”Goddam, Texas; y’all’s republicans fuckin love an extractive, fossil fuel-based economy, don’t they?” About tweet—”I just signed a law for Texas to create a master plan for expanding the blockchain industry in Texas.” Also, ffs, “Texans Asked To Conserve Energy As Main Power Grid Struggles To Keep Up. Grid operator ERCOT came under fire earlier this year for dangerous power outages that left millions without electricity and hundreds dead.”
  • Texas Governor Signs Law To Stop Teachers From Talking About Racism. ‘The idea is to whitewash American history of any legacy of racism,’ said state Democratic Rep. James Talarico.”
  • Going Medieval On White Supremacists (Rebroadcast)“—”The Middle Ages spanned roughly a thousand years – and encompassed all seven continents. But when most Americans think about Medieval times (not the restaurant), our brains go straight to an all-white version of Medieval Europe that never really existed. The myth is so pernicious, white supremacists have used it to draw people to their cause for more than a hundred years. Last month, it was even alluded to in a memo calling on Republicans to form a caucus driven by ‘Anglo-Saxon political traditions.’ So, while we still hear a lot about the Vikings, the Celts, and the supposed ‘Anglo-Saxons,’ what were those groups really like? And what does our misunderstanding of the Middle Ages mean for how we view our world today?”
  • Senate Passes Bill Establishing Juneteenth As A National Holiday. The legislation passed unanimously on Tuesday after Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) dropped his objection.” Also “Senate unanimously passes a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.”
  • More on this: “New emails show how Trump and his allies pressured Justice Department to try to challenge 2020 election results.” Also “4 takeaways from the latest batch of Trump’s election-related emails.”
  • US intel report warns of more violence by QAnon followers.”—” A new federal intelligence report warns that adherents of QAnon, the conspiracy theory embraced by some in the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol, could target Democrats and other political opponents for more violence as the movement’s false prophecies increasingly fail to come true.”
  • ESA flying payloads on wooden satellite. The world’s first wooden satellite is on the way, in the shape of the Finnish WISA Woodsat. ESA materials experts are contributing a suite of experimental sensors to the mission as well as helping with pre-flight testing.”
  • Boundary of heliosphere mapped for the first time.”—”‘Physics models have theorized this boundary for years,’ said Dan Reisenfeld, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and lead author on the paper, which was published in the Astrophysical Journal today. ‘But this is the first time we’ve actually been able to measure it and make a three-dimensional map of it.’ The heliosphere is a bubble created by the solar wind, a stream of mostly protons, electrons, and alpha particles that extends from the Sun into interstellar space and protects the Earth from harmful interstellar radiation.”
  • Researchers Create Switchable Mirrors from Liquid Metal. Approach could be used to create electrically controlled mirrors for art or advanced devices.” Or, you know, an alternative to a mercury filled scrying glass, that could also double as an info display panel!
  • Star’s death will play a mean pinball with rhythmic planets.”—”Four planets locked in a perfect rhythm around a nearby star are destined to be pinballed around their solar system when their sun eventually dies, according to a study led by the University of Warwick that peers into its future.”
  • Discovery of the largest rotation in the universe. By mapping the motion of galaxies in huge filaments that connect the cosmic web, astronomers at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), in collaboration with scientists in China and Estonia, have found that these long tendrils of galaxies spin on the scale of hundreds of millions of light years. A rotation on such enormous scales has never been seen before. The results published in Nature Astronomy signify that angular momentum can be generated on unprecedented scales.”
  • Vitamin D deficiency may increase risk for addiction to opioids and ultraviolet rays.”—”Lab animals deficient in vitamin D crave and become dependent on opioids, which is curbed when normal levels of the vitamin are restored. Human health records indicate that people with low vitamin D are more likely to use and misuse opioids. Study results suggest a potential role for vitamin D supplementation in fighting opioid addiction.”
  • U.S. Space Force successfully launches first tactically responsive launch mission.”—”Tactically responsive launch, as a concept, seeks to introduce speed, agility, and flexibility into the launch enterprise in order to respond to dynamic changes in the space domain or an operational theater and insert or replace assets on orbit much faster than standard timelines to meet emerging combatant command requirements.” “The team presented an integrated Space Domain Awareness satellite ready for launch in record time; what normally would have required two to five years, took 11 months.” “‘The space domain is defined by speed,’ Raymond said. ‘And with this effort, we demonstrated the kind of speed it will take to win. We executed a ’21-day call-up’ to get a satellite on orbit – pulling the payload, mating it with the rocket and integrating the combined package onto the aircraft.”
  • Bionic reconstruction: New foot for ‘Mia’ the bearded vulture. Bird of prey can land and walk again with two feet and as the first ‘bionic bird'”—”With Oskar Aszmann and his team at the Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, MedUni Vienna has long been regarded as a world leader in bionic limb reconstruction. It was only last year that the world’s first fully integrated bionic arm prosthesis was developed at MedUni Vienna. This is ready-to-use and is described as ‘Plug and Play’. Although all bionic aids have so far been used in humans, the technique known as osseointegration (direct skeletal attachment) has now been used for the very first time in a bearded vulture – the creature was given a new foot. A paper on this ground-breaking procedure has been published today (Friday) in the prestigious Journal ‘Scientific Reports’.”
  • Discovery of ray sperms’ unique swimming motion and demonstration with bio-inspired robot.“—”It is generally agreed that sperms “swim” by beating or rotating their soft tails. However, a research team led by scientists from City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has discovered that ray sperms move by rotating both the tail and the head. The team further investigated the motion pattern and demonstrated it with a robot. Their study has expanded the knowledge on the microorganisms’ motion and provided inspiration for robot engineering design.”
  • Injectable microspheres to repair failing hearts. Biodegradable microspheres can be used to deliver heart cells generated from stem cells to repair damaged hearts after a heart attack, according to new findings by UCL researchers.”
  • Exoplanets: Liquid water on exomoons of free-floating planets. The moons of planets that have no parent star can possess an atmosphere and retain liquid water. Astrophysicists at LMU have calculated that such systems could harbor sufficient water to make life possible – and sustain it.”
  • The problem at the heart of modern psychedelic clinical research. How much of a problem is it if participants in psychedelic clinical trials can easily tell they have been given a placebo? New Zealand researcher Suresh Muthukumaraswamy suggests it is a big problem and many findings from recent psychedelic trials may be over-estimated.”
  • Snails carrying the world’s smallest computer help solve mass extinction survivor mystery. Study yields new insights into the survival of a native snail important to Tahitian culture and ecology and to biologists studying evolution.”
  • SLS: First view of Nasa’s assembled ‘megarocket’. Nasa has assembled the first of its powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rockets, which will carry humans to the Moon this decade.”
  • Why Cloudflare Let an Extremist Stronghold Burn. When an internet infrastructure company was dragged into a free-speech controversy, its CEO struggled to maintain ideals that many people in tech hold dear.”—”But a system designed to address copyright infringement proved to be less adept at dealing with Nazis.”
  • Following that article in the last OG about thinking of Apple as a carrier: “Spurred by Clarence Thomas, Ohio AG wants Google declared a public utility. Ohio lawsuit quotes Justice Thomas’ opinion that websites can be common carriers.”
  • Every little bit helps: “Improving Search to better protect people from harassment.”
  • The Amazon That Customers Don’t See. Each year, hundreds of thousands of workers churn through a vast mechanism that hires and monitors, disciplines and fires. Amid the pandemic, the already strained system lurched.”—”When the coronavirus shut down New York last spring, many residents came to rely on a colossal building they had never heard of: JFK8, Amazon’s only fulfillment center in America’s largest city. What happened inside shows how Jeff Bezos created the workplace of the future and pulled off the impossible during the pandemic — but also reveals what’s standing in the way of his promise to do better by his employees.”
  • WPI Researcher Develops Self-Healing Concrete that Could Multiply Structures’ Lifespans, Slash Damaging CO2 Emissions. Research published in Applied Materials Today focuses on using an enzyme found in red blood cells; longer-lasting concrete would reduce CO2 emissions.”
  • Israeli nationalists march in East Jerusalem, raising tensions with Palestinians.” Reminds me of Orange walk. See also “Why do Orangemen march? The Twelfth of July explained Annual Orange parades celebrate a centuries-old Protestant victory over Catholics.” And, you know, like the lifted 4×4 that menacingly drove loud & fast around the streets here with a huge ass Trump flag on election night last year. Also “Israel Launches Airstrikes On Gaza As Cease-Fire Crumbles. The attack follows 11 days of Israeli airstrikes in May that destroyed Gaza, displacing families and killing hundreds of Palestinian civilians.”—”During the march, hundreds of Jewish ultranationalists ― many of whom were youth ― were heard chanting ‘Death to Arabs’ in Hebrew. In another anti-Palestinian chant, they said, ‘May your village burn.'”
  • More Gravesites for Indigenous Children Discovered at Canadian Residential Schools. After the discovery in Kamloops, Indigenous nations in Manitoba and Saskatchewan confirmed more than 100 more children so far, with more expected across Canada.”
  • Reality Winner, Who Leaked Government Secrets, Is Released From Prison. Out on good behavior, the former National Security Agency contractor was sent to a halfway house.” Also “NSA Leaker Reality Winner Released Early From Prison for Good Behavior.” But: “Her release is not a product of the pardon or compassionate release process, but rather the time earned from exemplary behavior while incarcerated”. So, again, she did it herself.
  • McConnell haunts Democrats with new threat to block Biden court nominee.”—”Mitch McConnell just did it again. The Senate minority leader, whose dubious maneuvering to turn the Supreme Court to the far right still haunts liberals, just previewed a fresh scheme to bolster conservative judicial supremacy on the nation’s top bench for years to come, with widespread consequences for all three branches of government.”
  • From the Concentration, Consolidation and Enclosure dept: “If You Sell a House These Days, the Buyer Might Be a Pension Fund. Yield-chasing investors are snapping up single-family homes, competing with ordinary Americans and driving up prices.”
  • Hungarians protest against PM Orban’s LGBTQ rights crackdown.”
  • House Judiciary Committee Will Probe Trump Subpoenas Against Media, Democrats. ‘Congress must make it extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, for the Department to spy on the Congress or the news media,’ said Rep. Jerrold Nadler.”
  • Marjorie Taylor Greene Visits Holocaust Museum To Remind Herself That Genocide Is Bad. The Georgia Republican’s comments came after intense bipartisan backlash for her efforts to compare pandemic-era public health guidelines to the Holocaust.”
  • Interior Secretary Recommends Biden Restore National Monuments Trump Trashed. The Biden administration looks set to undo former President Donald Trump’s attacks on Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.”
  • Euphoria of the Rentier?“—”it is a bold and necessary look beyond capitalism’s rentier morbidity—one that makes the dream of a democratic and decentralized communism an almost tangible possibility.”
  • The Big Oil Instagram Influencers Are Here.”—”Compared to some other brands, Big Oil has made relatively small forays into the world of Instagram marketing—but if history is any indication, they’re just getting started.”
  • Fabulous Beasts: Angela Carter, Vampirella & The Company of Wolves”—”Graham Williamson inspects the late author Angela Carter’s Vampirella, its abandoned cinematic dramatisation and how more of her exquisite horror tales remain curiously unmade…”
  • Watch “Gunpowder Milkshake“, official Trailer. Directed by Navot Papushado, with Karen Gillan, Carla Gugino, Lena Headey, Paul Giamatti, Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett, &c.
  • This is bonkers. Like Kung Fu Fury level bonkers. Maybe even more so? Also, an insightful roast of monetization and the entire tech industry and culture. “Devolver MaxPass+ Showcase | Monetization as a Service” The games are mostly okay, with Inscryption and Wizard with a Gun as standouts, but it’s the live action bits starting at 01:52, with a big intro and between “Future Premium Purchase” game promos, that are ::chef’s kiss:: roflmao wild. I just … you deserve to experience this yourself. Kudos to everyone involved.
  • How an Art Museum Betrays Its Social Class Bias.”—”I did not feel that the presentation of Thiebaud’s work in this show was strictly incorrect. It did, however, underscore the persistent omission and dampening of analysis of the relationship between socio-economic class and the artist or the artist’s work throughout the TMA. Those at the top of the hierarchical structure of the TMA, like many private museums, discourage such readings as a matter of class interest.”
  • Three Transgender Kids Share Their Stories.”—”Happy Pride Month! 2021 has been a record year for anti-trans legislation, and we stand in support of our transgender friends and readers. This month, I was thrilled to interview three amazing transgender kids. Below they share their favorite hobbies, how they transitioned at school, and the advice they’d give other kids…”
  • Portal — a Bridge to the United Planet.”—”Portal invites you to experience our world as it is – united and one – without borders, prejudices, and labels of us and them for the first time in history countries and their people have such a way to connect in real-time. A non-profit initiative – Portal – is a bridge leading us – me, you, and them – to the awareness of unity. Portal awakens our perception of meeting and welcoming them – somebody we usually exclude, or find different – people and cultures we don’t yet know. Portal will form a network soon so that in the next decade our planet would no longer seem separate.” Watch “‘Portal’ connects people in different cities.”—”Residents of Lithuania’s capital and Poland’s Lublin can now see each other going about their daily lives in real time, thanks to a ‘portal’ sending live video to one another’s cities.”
  • Rise of the Smog God: Ecological Apocalypse in ‘Godzilla vs. Hedorah’.”—”By pitting [Godzilla] against Hedorah, Kaiju maverick Yoshimitsu Banno made a bold statement about climate change, the Anthropocene, and pollution that was years ahead of its time.”
  • Surprising shared word etymologies.”—”My definition of ‘surprising’ was a pair of words that have orthogonal definitions but a shared etymological history. “Orthogonal definitions” here means they relate to two very different things (like “bacteria” and “imbecile”), not just that they have opposite meanings (like “anything” and “nothing”). Another way of phrasing this is that the two words are semantically very different.”
  • Mother Lands is a tabletop role-playing game free of slavery and colonialism. An Afrofuturist game inspired by Black Panther and Star Trek.” About Mother Lands which is crowdfunding with 3 days to go: “Into the Mother Lands – An Original Afrofuturist TTRPG. Setting book for Into the Mother Lands RPG!!!”
  • Pinnacle Entertainment is launching a crowdfunding effort for RIFTS Atlantis on June 22, through July 6. “Shrouded by the Demon Seas, birthplace of an ancient and wondrous civilization, and now host to a bizarre cosmic evil: Atlantis is a destination like no other. Uncover the secrets of the True Atlanteans and their powerful tattoos, explore enigmatic pyramids which first opened Earth to the Megaverse®, survive the wrath of monsters from the depths, and fight back against chthonic horrors bent on terror and subjugation!”
  • More on this: “George A. Romero’s rediscovered ‘lost film’ is terrible, but horror fans are right to be excited. Turns out The Amusement Park was lost for a reason.”
  • DC Says Batman Can’t Go Down On Catwoman Since ‘Heroes Don’t Do That’. Twitter was not tongue-tied when news broke that the show ‘Harley Quinn’ originally had a scene where the caped crusader performed oral sex.”—”It’s hard to sell a toy if Batman is also going down on someone.” “Thankfully, Twitter users were up for making jokes about DC not wanting Batman going down.”
  • Speaking of going down: “Lobster Diver Nearly Swallowed By Humpback Has A Whale Of A Tale To Tell. ‘All of a sudden, I felt this huge shove and the next thing I knew it was completely black,’ Michael Packard told the Cape Cod Times.”
  • Um. “Socialist-Themed Vegan Food Company Lays Off Workers Without Notice Or Severance. Workers at No Evil Foods’ North Carolina plant were furious at the news, according to audio of the layoff announcement.”
  • Here are the pioneering women who will be on new quarters. Beginning in 2022, women’s faces will appear on quarters for the first time, and the public will help choose who will be minted.”
  • The woman who forced the US government to take UFOs seriously. In 1999, Leslie Kean was handed a 90-page report of UFO sightings by pilots. After publishing her first story on the subject, she was hooked.”
  • Shakespeare quotes, rewritten for business class.”—”Yesterday, Twitter learned that UNC Chapel Hill was hiring a lecturer to teach courses in both Shakespeare and business writing (at a rate of… $8,000 per course). Of course, if the university really wanted to streamline operations, the two could be seamlessly combined. (You’re welcome, UNC English department.)”
  • Moony McMoonface? “Bracket Contest to Help NASA Name ‘Moonikin’ Flying on Artemis I Mission Around Moon.” Yeah, it’s a bracketed contest, so no random suggestions. Bummer.

Omnium Gatherum: 13jun2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for June 13, 2021

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

  • Next Friday, Stand with Bandcamp to Support Racial Justice, Equality, and Change.” Of course, consider the Bandcamp profiles for Hermetic Library, Odd Order, and those I personally follow.
  • Haha, no, not that Jack Parsons! “The partial eclipse did happen. Here’s proof! WELL done to photographer Jack Parsons who captured this shot of the partial eclipse of the sun from Barnoldswick this morning.”
  • ‘It’s infuriating and shocking’: how medicine has failed women over time. In the eye-opening new book Unwell Women, Elinor Cleghorn uses her own misdiagnosis at the hands of male doctors as a jumping point for an alarming history lesson.” About Unwell Women: Misdiagnosis and Myth in a Man-Made World [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Elinor Cleghorn —”A trailblazing, conversation-starting history of women’s health—from the earliest medical ideas about women’s illnesses to hormones and autoimmune diseases—brought together in a fascinating sweeping narrative. Elinor Cleghorn became an unwell woman ten years ago. She was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease after a long period of being told her symptoms were anything from psychosomatic to a possible pregnancy. As Elinor learned to live with her unpredictable disease she turned to history for answers, and found an enraging legacy of suffering, mystification, and misdiagnosis. In Unwell Women, Elinor Cleghorn traces the almost unbelievable history of how medicine has failed women by treating their bodies as alien and other, often to perilous effect. The result is an authoritative and groundbreaking exploration of the relationship between women and medical practice, from the “wandering womb” of Ancient Greece to the rise of witch trials across Europe, and from the dawn of hysteria as a catchall for difficult-to-diagnose disorders to the first forays into autoimmunity and the shifting understanding of hormones, menstruation, menopause, and conditions like endometriosis. Packed with character studies and case histories of women who have suffered, challenged, and rewritten medical orthodoxy—and the men who controlled their fate—this is a revolutionary examination of the relationship between women, illness, and medicine. With these case histories, Elinor pays homage to the women who suffered so strides could be made, and shows how being unwell has become normalized in society and culture, where women have long been distrusted as reliable narrators of their own bodies and pain. But the time for real change is long overdue: answers reside in the body, in the testimonies of unwell women—and their lives depend on medicine learning to listen.”
  • The Conservative Court. Since the Nixon era, the Supreme Court’s treatment of poverty and racial justice has made it a consistent enemy of society’s most marginalized.” About Supreme Inequality: The Supreme Court’s Fifty-Year Battle for a More Unjust America [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Adam Cohen—”A revelatory examination of the conservative direction of the Supreme Court over the last fifty years. In Supreme Inequality, bestselling author Adam Cohen surveys the most significant Supreme Court rulings since the Nixon era and exposes how, contrary to what Americans like to believe, the Supreme Court does little to protect the rights of the poor and disadvantaged; in fact, it has not been on their side for fifty years. Cohen proves beyond doubt that the modern Court has been one of the leading forces behind the nation’s soaring level of economic inequality, and that an institution revered as a source of fairness has been systematically making America less fair. A triumph of American legal, political, and social history, Supreme Inequality holds to account the highest court in the land and shows how much damage it has done to America’s ideals of equality, democracy, and justice for all.”
  • Realism’s Revenge. Do we have more to learn from the nineteenth-century novel?”—”Today, we are experiencing a new set of enclosures, now of a financial as well as physical variety, the social and environmental effects of which we seem incapable of even thinking through, let alone resisting.” About The Afterlife of Enclosure: British Realism, Character, and the Commons [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Carolyn Lesjak—”The enclosure of the commons, space once available for communal use, was not a singular event but an act of “slow violence” that transformed lands, labor, and basic concepts of public life leading into the nineteenth century. The Afterlife of Enclosure examines three canonical British writers—Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy—as narrators of this history, the long duration and diffuse effects of which required new literary forms to capture the lived experience of enclosure and its aftermath. This study boldly reconceives the realist novel, not as an outdated artifact, but as witness to the material and environmental dispossession of enclosure—and bearer of utopian energies. These writers reinvented a commons committed to the collective nature of the social world. Illuminating the common at the heart of the novel—from common characters to commonplace events—Carolyn Lesjak reveals an experimental figuration of the lost commons, once a defining feature of the British landscape and political imaginary. In the face of privatization, climate change, new enclosures, and the other forms of slow violence unfolding globally today, this book looks back to a literature of historical trauma and locates within it a radical path forward.”
  • In Defense of Slavoj Žižek. Slavoj Zizek has made some serious missteps in recent years — but he remains an important theorist for the Left in our postmodern, neoliberal era.”
  • New volcano in Michoacán? Scientists watchful as micro-quakes increase in number. 236 low magnitude micro-earthquakes have occurred in the area since May 1.”
  • A volcanic eruption 39 million years ago buried a forest in Peru – now the petrified trees are revealing South America’s primeval history.”
  • Time-lapse video shows the ice shelf of one of Antarctica’s largest glaciers breaking into large chunks. One of Antarctica’s largest glaciers is in danger as the ice shelf holding it in place is melting. A time-lapse of Pine Island Glacier taken from 2015 to 2020 shows its ice shelf breaking into chunks. Scientists worry that the ice shelf may collapse more rapidly than previously projected.” Also “Ice Shelf Protecting Critical Glacier Is Rapidly Breaking Up. The Pine Island Glacier’s ice shelf in Antarctica acts like a cork in a bottle preventing melting ice mass from flowing into the ocean.” Also “The Pine Island glacier is speeding up as its ice shelf disintegrates.”
  • Astronomers discover ‘blinking giant’ star near the center of the Milky Way. A mammoth star is playing an interesting game of hide and seek.” Also “Giant blinking star spotted near center of Milky Way galaxy.”
  • Hundreds of mysterious fast radio bursts detected in space.”—”With enough fast radio bursts, it may be possible to map out the large-scale structure of the universe. ‘These large structures make up the filaments of the cosmic web,” said Alex Josephy, a doctoral student in physics at McGill University in Canada. “With the FRB catalog, we have detected this correlation between FRBs and large-scale structure. This is really, really exciting and ushers in a new era of (fast radio burst) cosmology.'”
  • NASA spacecraft captures astonishing views of icy Jupiter moon Ganymede Wowza. The Juno spacecraft performed a close flyby on Monday and delivered some eye-popping images.”
  • A generation of seabirds was wiped out by a drone in O.C. Scientists fear for their future.”
  • More on this: “Move over tardigrades! Rotifers are the new contender for the world’s toughest beasties.”—”Tiny tardigrades, sometimes known as water bears, are amazingly tough and can survive being frozen for 30 years, but an even tinier beastie has just blown that claim to fame out of the water. Bdelloid rotifers – microscopic animals – have been revived by international scientists after being frozen in the Siberian permafrost for 24,000 years. And the tiny animals were not just content with that feat of endurance – once they’d woken up, they quickly began to reproduce themselves. They survive freezing by shutting themselves down almost completely – a state called cryptobiosis. And it’s not just long-term freezing the rotifers laugh in the face of. The scientists say they can also survive drying, starvation and low oxygen.”
  • New discovery shows human cells can write RNA sequences into DNA.”—”Now, Thomas Jefferson University researchers provide the first evidence that RNA segments can be written back into DNA, which potentially challenges the central dogma in biology and could have wide implications affecting many fields of biology.”
  • Nuclear bomb detectors uncover secret population of blue whales hiding in Indian Ocean. Scientists found recordings of their unique song dating back almost 20 years.”
  • I’m always annoyed by articles like this one that appear to be news, but then you find out it’s old, old news. I mean, I think I’ve posted about this very location at least once already, but … “Archaeologists Have Unearthed a 2,000-Year-Old Roman Basilica in Israel That May Have Been Built by Herod the Great. See stunning images of the building.”—”Archaeologists in Israel have unearthed the largest ancient Roman basilica in the nation, a 2,000-year-old building dating to the reign of the Biblical figure Herod the Great, who may have built it.” But: “The British archaeologist John Garstang originally discovered the basilica during an expedition with the Palestinian Exploration Fund in the 1920s, but the site was then reburied. Excavations resumed from 2008 to 2012, and again in 2016, according to the Jerusalem Post.”
  • Gender Differentiates How Facial Expressions Are Processed in the Brains of Alcoholics.”—”Should treatment of alcoholics be different based on gender? Yes, according to a new study that shows that alcoholic men and women respond differently to their disease resulting in different levels of brain activity and brain abnormalities.”
  • Low Doses of ‘Laughing Gas’ Could Be Fast, Effective Treatment for Severe Depression. A new study at the University of Chicago Medicine and Washington University found that a single inhalation session with 25% nitrous oxide gas was nearly as effective as 50% nitrous oxide at rapidly relieving symptoms of treatment-resistant depression, with fewer adverse side effects.”
  • Subatomic particle seen changing to antiparticle and back for the first time. Physicists have proved that a subatomic particle can switch into its antiparticle alter-ego and back again, in a new discovery revealed today. An extraordinarily precise measurement made by Oxford researchers using the LHCb experiment at CERN has provided the first evidence that charm mesons can change into their antiparticle and back again.” Also “LHCb measures tiny mass difference between particles. The result is a milestone in the study of how a particle known as a D0 meson changes from matter into antimatter and back.”
  • ‘Vegan spider silk’ provides sustainable alternative to single-use plastics. Researchers have created a plant-based, sustainable, scalable material that could replace single-use plastics in many consumer products.”
  • Honeybees’ hairy abdomens show how to save energy, reduce wear on materials.”—”Tiny hairs on a honeybee’s abdomen reduce friction during bending, saving large amounts of energy during the bee’s daily activities.”
  • Curtin study finds aspirin takes the headache out of restoration. New Curtin research has shown how a readily available, cheap and safe-to-use product found in the medicine cabinet of most homes could be the key to better ecological restoration practices with major benefits for the environment and agriculture.”
  • Mobile Force Protection Program Concludes with Successful Demonstration. Transition to services now being explored.”
  • New advanced material shows extraordinary stability over wide temperature range. Researchers from UNSW have found an extraordinary material that does not expand or contract over an extremely wide temperature range and may be one of the most stable materials known.”
  • NASA’s Perseverance Rover Begins Its First Science Campaign on Mars. The six-wheeled scientist is heading south to explore Jezero Crater’s lakebed in search of signs of ancient microbial life.”
  • Apple’s WWDC announcements should worry anyone with an Intel Mac.”
  • Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google targeted in bipartisan antitrust reform bills.” Also “Lawmakers, Taking Aim at Big Tech, Push Sweeping Overhaul of Antitrust. A bipartisan group of House members introduced five bills that take direct aim at Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.”
  • Apple Isn’t Just a Walled Garden, It’s a Carrier. The return of the Angry God of ARPU.”—”Given the opportunity again, I have no doubt that the carriers would find ways to exert control, feed the Angry God of ARPU, and thereby stifle innovation. But Apple effectively took that power away from them — but then kept it for itself. The question now is what Apple intends to do with that power.”
  • SpaceX StarLink: how it could kickstart an ‘uncontrolled experiment’. ‘mega-constellations [like StarLink] will begin this process as an uncontrolled experiment.'”—”Deliberately putting huge quantities of alumina dust into the atmosphere seems like a dangerous experiment, like introducing cane toads to Australia — a reasonable idea at the time which has terrible unforeseen consequences.”
  • What Space Billionaires Cost Us. Jeff Bezos’ quick trip into outer space is about more than just publicity.”
  • Texas Republican asks: can we fix the moon’s orbit to fight climate change? ‘I’d have to follow up with you on that one,’ says forestry official Jennifer Eberlien to bizarre question from Louie Gohmert.”
  • I mean, the entire Bitcoin transaction log is a public ledger. Why would anyone think that was actually anonymous? Only marginally obscure.”Pipeline Investigation Upends Idea That Bitcoin Is Untraceable. The F.B.I.’s recovery of Bitcoins paid in the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack showed cryptocurrencies are not as hard to track as it might seem.” See also “How to Read a Blockchain’s Transaction History“—”Blockchains are public ledgers, meaning anyone can see all transactions ever made” “Cryptocurrencies are known to be completely transparent and that all transactions are verifiable.”
  • Hackers breach Electronic Arts, stealing game source code and tools.”
  • DeepMind says reinforcement learning is ‘enough’ to reach general AI.”—”In a new paper submitted to the peer-reviewed Artificial Intelligence journal, scientists at U.K.-based AI lab DeepMind argue that intelligence and its associated abilities will emerge not from formulating and solving complicated problems but by sticking to a simple but powerful principle: reward maximization.” Also “Reward is enough.”—”In this article we hypothesise that intelligence, and its associated abilities, can be understood as subserving the maximisation of reward. Accordingly, reward is enough to drive behaviour that exhibits abilities studied in natural and artificial intelligence, including knowledge, learning, perception, social intelligence, language, generalisation and imitation. This is in contrast to the view that specialised problem formulations are needed for each ability, based on other signals or objectives. Furthermore, we suggest that agents that learn through trial and error experience to maximise reward could learn behaviour that exhibits most if not all of these abilities, and therefore that powerful reinforcement learning agents could constitute a solution to artificial general intelligence.”
  • Theses on Techno-Optimism.”—”What follows is an attempt to consider some of the aspects and implications of techno-optimism. It is an attitude that has become somewhat taken for granted, which is precisely why it is important to consider what it is and how it functions.”
  • Saudi Arabia Says The Hajj Will Be Limited To 60,000 People.”
  • Southern Baptist Convention rocked by secret recordings and leaked letters.” Also “‘Our Lord Isn’t Woke.’ Southern Baptists Clash Over Their Future. The big evangelical denomination is about to elect a new leader to help set its course after the Trump presidency.”
  • The perfect storm making everything you need more expensive.”
  • New Trump scandal shows the depth of his assault on America’s democratic foundations.”—”New revelations suggesting that the Trump administration abused Justice Department powers to target his political enemies underscore just how far the ex-President went to destroy cherished principles of American republican government. They show that the true extent of assaults on democracy by Donald Trump are still coming to light and are probably even now not fully known. But this is not just a drama about the alleged misbehavior of a former President. Taken together with the Republican Party’s refusal to hold Trump — who remains the GOP’s dominant figure — to account for the Capitol insurrection and its nationwide efforts to restrict voting, the new allegations also indicate that the freedoms and core values that have underpinned American life for two-and-a-half centuries remain in almost unprecedented peril.”
  • France is sending a second Statue of Liberty to the US.”—”New Yorkers have a surprise gift to look forward to for this Independence Day: a second Statue of Liberty sent by France. This new bronze statue, nicknamed the “little sister,” is one-sixteenth the size of the world-famous one that stands on Liberty Island. On Monday, during a special ceremony, the smaller sibling was lifted and loaded into a special container at the National Museum of Arts and Crafts (CNAM) in central Paris, where it has been installed since 2011 in the museum’s garden. It will be erected on Ellis Island, just across the water from the original, from July 1 to July 5. The statue, over 450 kilograms (992 pounds) in weight and just shy of 10 feet tall, was first made in 2009. It is an exact replica of the original 1878 plaster model preserved by CNAM.”
  • Leaving Orthodoxy, Again.”—”Losing faith in Orthodox Judaism is an old story. But today it’s often the ‘heretics’ who rely on faith, and the ‘faithful’ who draw on science.”
  • If it’s fake, can it still be inspiring?“—”Forged artifacts are a fact of life in the archaeological community. How should we, as Pagans who rely on archaeology for our religion, relate to these objects?”
  • 4-day workweek option proposed.”—”Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party is requesting that the government introduce an elective four-day workweek system allowing employees to take three days off per week, according to a draft of the ruling party’s proposal.”
  • Tweet thread—”1/ We obtained the outcomes of 64 incidents of alleged police misconduct captured on video during last year’s George Floyd protests that were investigated internally by the NYPD. Here are some of the results… ”
  • Watch “We are Fandom Forward (The Harry Potter Alliance’s new name!)“—”Fandom Forward turns fans into heroes. We used to be the HPA – but we changed! Find out why and how you can join our Founders’ Circle! We use the power of story and popular culture to make activism accessible and sustainable. Through experiential training and real life campaigns, we develop compassionate, skillful leaders who learn to approach our world’s problems with joy, creativity, and commitment to equity. Learn more about Fandom Forward and how you can get involved at ”
  • Ground Rules. Manhattan goes outdoors.”—”But even Manhattan’s less deadly local parks and commons aren’t always welcoming places. Designed in a willful dream of perpetual spring or of autumn in New York, they are increasingly inappropriate for our brutal anthropocene winters and summers. Even pedestrianized asphalt streets re-radiate heat back up at you. Even officially sanctioned parkland barbecuing gets policed by vigilantes. Maybe for this reason, so much of Manhattan’s history is written in bars and nightclubs—and especially in restaurants that feel a little like bars and nightclubs. If your apartment is too small and familiar to have people over, and your parks and commons are threadbare and inhospitable by incompetence or intent, you go out to restaurants. Here you find public privacy and urbane intimacy. The extent to which restaurants seem essential in any city is a measure of its failure to provide citizens with good places to assemble.”
  • Awe makes us happier, healthier and humbler.”—”Awe is defined by novelty and vastness”. “Adults can have daily experiences of awe, too, but it requires the right mindset. People need to slow down, to pause, to be present and observe the world around them. It can be difficult to experience awe when there are so many things competing for our attention. Stress and excessive rumination can make it more difficult to find things to marvel at.”
  • The ‘lost’ George Romero movie The Amusement Park is a surreal plunge into the horror of getting old.”
  • A Guide To Gender Identity Terms.”—”Issues of equality and acceptance of transgender and nonbinary people — along with challenges to their rights — have become a major topic in the headlines. These issues can involve words and ideas and identities that are new to some. That’s why we’ve put together a glossary of terms relating to gender identity. Our goal is to help people communicate accurately and respectfully with one another. Proper use of gender identity terms, including pronouns, is a crucial way to signal courtesy and acceptance. Alex Schmider, associate director of transgender representation at GLAAD, compares using someone’s correct pronouns to pronouncing their name correctly – “a way of respecting them and referring to them in a way that’s consistent and true to who they are.””
  • Watch “Ancient Greek Olives – Gifts from A Goddess
  • Watch “The Slaughter: Magdalene – Paint a portrait in this short interlude!” Also the game “The Slaughter: Magdalene“—”A short interlude from the world of The Slaughter” which can run in the browser.
  • Watch “How radical gardeners took back New York City“—”Seed bombs, the ‘tree lady of Brooklyn,’ and the roots of urban gardening.”
  • Watch “The chef cooking up insect ‘flavour bombs’“—”‘Why aren’t we eating what two billion other people already consume in the world?’ asks New York chef Joseph Yoon, who specialises in cooking with insects. 🦗 Billions of cicadas – insects that spend almost their entire lifecycle below ground – have emerged in the eastern US after spending 17 years underground. Self-described ‘edible insect ambassador’ Yoon promotes the use of insect protein in American diets through his group, Brooklyn Bugs.”
  • Watch “The Sandman | Behind The Scenes Sneak Peek.”—”An early look behind the scenes of the first ever screen adaptation of Netflix’s The Sandman, based on the DC comic book series from Neil Gaiman.”, coming to Netflix.
  • Watch “Comic Artists Are Waging a War, and We Joined the Frontlines“—”We entered the War for Rayuba, one of the largest Original Character Tournaments in the world.”
  • Watch “The Mysterious Benedict Society“, official trailer, coming to Disney+—”Together they’ll uncover the mystery to the truth. The #MysteriousBenedictSociety, an Original Series, starts streaming June 25 on #DisneyPlus.”
  • Watch “Masters of the Universe: Revelation“, official teaser, coming to Netflix—”From Executive Producer Kevin Smith, comes an epic story that picks up where the 80’s series left off and brings the power of Grayskull back to the world. Part 1 of Masters of the Universe: Revelation premieres July 23, only on Netflix.”
  • Dove Cameron Explained Why The Live-Action ‘Powerpuff Girls’ Pilot Is Being Reshot After CW Executives Called It ‘Too Campy’. ‘They didn’t decide to rework the pilot because the script leaked…that wasn’t what happened.'”

Omnium Gatherum: 9jun2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for June 9, 2021

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

  • Crowdfunding with 21 days to go, from Thomas Negovan and Century Guild: “CALIGULA hardcover book rare set photos from the cult film. Caligula: The Mario Tursi Photos presents a rare collection of original, never-before-seen photographs from the set of the cult film.” Also, and. “A gorgeous, limited edition coffee-table book documenting the most notorious film in history, featuring unseen behind-the-scenes photos. Mountains of boxes, covered in dust, untouched for over a generation. Believed destroyed for nearly half a century, this breathtaking discovery was the long-lost Penthouse collection of original materials from which the 1980 film Caligula was created: a treasure trove of 35mm film, original camera negatives, and papers including 10,733 black-and-white photographs- the majority of which had never been seen outside of the Penthouse offices since they were taken on the set of Caligula in 1976. With a budget twice that of Star Wars, the movie contained historically accurate events from Roman texts–shocking scenes of grotesque, lurid violence– and powerhouse performances by magnificent actors flanked by orgies of unsimulated sexual acts and the first unapologetic homosexual imagery in mainstream cinema history. Forty years after its release, Caligula remains one of the most unforgettable and notorious films in cinema history. Now, in conjunction with Penthouse magazine, and in advance of a stunning new edit of the film restoring the originally envisioned narrative, deluxe art book publisher Century Guild is sharing over 200 of the most dramatic images in a book overflowing with stunning photographs taken on the set of the film by legendary Italian still photographer Mario Tursi, best known for his work with Italian directors Pier Paolo Pasolini and Luchino Visconti as well as his long collaboration with Martin Scorsese on the sets of Gangs of New York and The Last Temptation of Christ. These long-lost photos taken by an icon of historical cinematic photography provide a peek behind the scenes of a legendary cult film, and a voyeuristic gaze into big-budget 1970s filmmaking. Please note that this book contains excessive nudity and erotic content. As a result, we are only able to show a small fragment of the photographs contained inside.”
  • Ends in 2 days: “Indie bundle for Palestinian Aid. A bundle hosted by Tybawai with content from 864 creators. 1,019 items for $5.” 1/2 million raised so far. “All profit from this bundle will be donated to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The UNRWA has provided food assistance for over one million Palestinians, and continues to do so in the territories with heavy destruction. They also provide emergency mental and physical health protection for those in the region. ”
  • More on this: “Legends of Tomorrow’s New MacGuffin, The Fountain of Imperium Explained. Legends of Tomorrow season 6 has introduced a new mystic artifact for the team to go after: the mystic Fountain of Imperium. But what is it exactly?”—”The central plotline of the Legends of Tomorrow episode “The Satanist’s Apprentice” focused on Astra Logue and her learning the basics of magic from the spirit of Aleister Crowley; a legendary dark wizard, whom John Constantine had trapped in a painting. Astra proved an apt pupil, but Crowley was exploiting her anger at Constantine towards his own ends, first taking over Constantine’s body for himself then working to regain his lost magical power at Astra’s expense. Thankfully, Astra was able to turn the tables with a spell in her mother’s journal, which took away Crowley’s magic. Unfortunately, the same purgative spell also required Constantine lose most of his acquired magical power in the process.” Also “How ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Pulled Off Its Latest Magic Trick.” Also “Legends of Tomorrow Season 6 Episode 6: What To Expect?
  • Academia Trained You—but the World Needs You. Does leaving the academy mean someone failed? Or does it mean, instead, that their scholarly strengths can now be made useful to the public?”
  • How Legendary Physicist Richard Feynman Helped Crack the Case on the Challenger Disaster.” Excerpt from The Burning Blue: The Untold Story of Christa McAuliffe and NASA’s Challenger Disaster [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Kevin Cook—”The untold story of a national trauma―NASA’s Challenger explosion―and what really happened to America’s Teacher in Space, illuminating the tragic cost of humanity setting its sight on the stars. You’ve seen the pictures. You know what happened. Or do you? On January 28, 1986, NASA’s space shuttle Challenger exploded after blasting off from Cape Canaveral. Christa McAuliffe, America’s “Teacher in Space,” was instantly killed, along with the other six members of the mission. At least that’s what most of us remember. Kevin Cook tells us what really happened on that ill-fated, unforgettable day. He traces the pressures―leading from NASA to the White House―that triggered the fatal order to launch on an ice-cold Florida morning. Cook takes readers inside the shuttle for the agonizing minutes after the explosion, which the astronauts did indeed survive. He uncovers the errors and corner-cutting that led an overconfident space agency to launch a crew that had no chance to escape. But this is more than a corrective to a now-dimming memory. Centering on McAuliffe, a charmingly down-to-earth civilian on the cusp of history, The Burning Blue animates a colorful cast of characters: a pair of red-hot flyers at the shuttle’s controls, the second female and first Jewish astronaut, the second Black astronaut, and the first Asian American and Buddhist in space. Drawing vivid portraits of Christa and the astronauts, Cook makes readers forget the fate they’re hurtling toward. With drama, immediacy, and shocking surprises, he reveals the human price the Challenger crew and America paid for politics, capital-P Progress, and the national dream of ‘reaching for the stars.'”
  • The Science (and Science Fiction) of Cryonic Preservation.” Excerpt from Out Cold: A Chilling Descent into the Macabre, Controversial, Lifesaving History of Hypothermia [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Philip Jaekl—”The meaning of the word “hypothermia” has Greek origins and roughly translates to “less heat.” Its symptoms can be deadly–shivering, followed by confusion, irrationality, and even the illusion of feeling hot. But hypothermia has another side–it can be therapeutic. In Out Cold, science writer Phil Jaekl chronicles the underappreciated story of human innovation with cold, from Ancient Egypt, where it was used to treat skin irritations, to eighteenth-century London, where scientists used it in their first explorations of suspended animation. Throughout history, physicians have used cold to innovate life extension, enable distant space missions, and explore consciousness. Hypothermia may still conjure macabre images, like the bodies littering Mt. Everest and disembodied heads in cryo-freezers, but the reality is that modern science has invented numerous new life-saving cooling techniques based on what we’ve learned over the centuries. And Out Cold reveals a surprisingly warm future for this chilling state.”
  • Positive Psychology Goes to War. How the Army adopted an untested, evidence-free approach to fighting PTSD.” By Jesse Singal, author of The Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Our Social Ills [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”An investigative journalist exposes the many holes in today’s bestselling behavioral science, and argues that the trendy, TED-Talk-friendly psychological interventions that are so in vogue at the moment will never be enough to truly address social injustice and inequality. With their viral TED talks, bestselling books, and counter-intuitive remedies for complicated problems, psychologists and other social scientists have become the reigning thinkers of our time. Grit and “power posing” promised to help overcome entrenched inequalities in schools and the workplace; the Army spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a positive psychology intervention geared at preventing PTSD in its combat soldiers; and the implicit association test swept the nation on the strength of the claim that it can reveal unconscious biases and reduce racism in police departments and human resources departments. But what if much of the science underlying these blockbuster ideas is dubious or fallacious? What if Americans’ longstanding preference for simplistic self-help platitudes is exerting a pernicious influence on the way behavioral science is communicated and even funded, leading respected academics and the media astray? In The Quick Fix, Jesse Singal examines the most influential ideas of recent decades and the shaky science that supports them. He begins with the California legislator who introduced self-esteem into classrooms around the country in the 1980s and the Princeton political scientist who warned of an epidemic of youthful “superpredators” in the 1990s. In both cases, a much-touted idea had little basis in reality, but had a massive impact. Turning toward the explosive popularity of 21st-century social psychology, Singal examines the misleading appeal of entertaining lab results and critiques the idea that subtle unconscious cues shape our behavior. As he shows, today’s popular behavioral science emphasizes repairing, improving, and optimizing individuals rather than truly understanding and confronting the larger structural forces that drive social ills. Like Anand Giridharadas’s Winners Take All, The Quick Fix is a fresh and powerful indictment of the thought leaders and influencers who cut corners as they sell the public half-baked solutions to problems that deserve more serious treatment.”
  • Where Is Our Spotify for Books?“—”Many e-books have incredibly limited availability or are not available at all at public libraries, and library budgets are strained covering the escalating costs of e-book demand.”
  • A new water treatment technology could also help Mars explorers. A catalyst that destroys perchlorate in water could clean Martian soil.”
  • Scientists confirm discovery of Australia’s largest dinosaur, two stories tall and a basketball court long.”—”A new species of dinosaur discovered in Australia has been confirmed as the largest ever found in the country, and one of the biggest in the world. The fossilized skeleton, nicknamed ‘Cooper,’ was found in southwest Queensland in 2007, at Cooper Creek in the Eromanga Basin. But the skeleton remained a mystery for years, and has only now been scientifically described and named by paleontologists.”
  • Prehistoric Pendants as Instigators of Sound and Body Movements: A Traceological Case Study from Northeast Europe, c. 8200 cal. bp.“—”In the Late Mesolithic graves of Yuzhniy Oleniy Ostrov, northwest Russia, large numbers of Eurasian elk (Alces alces) incisors have been found. These teeth, for the most part fashioned into portable pendants, seem to have formed decorative sets for the garments or accessories of the deceased. This article examines both the technologies associated with these artefacts and their uses, as well as reflecting on the sensorial experiences generated by them. Osteological analysis of a sample of 100 specimens indicates that all types of incisors were used for making the pendants. Traceological analysis indicates that the teeth were modified by scraping, grooving, grinding and retouching. Traces of wear consist of general wear and distinctive pits or pecks on the perimeters of the crowns. These traces indicate that the pendants were worn before their deposition in the graves, in such a way that they were in contact with both soft and solid materials. This pattern of pits or pecks has until now been unreported in the traceological literature. In experiments, a similar pattern emerged when pendants of fresh elk incisors were hung in rows and bunches and struck against one another. These strokes created a rattling sound. Thus, the elk incisors of Yuzhniy Oleniy Ostrov appear to provide insight into previously unattainable sonic experiences and activities of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, as well as the early history of the instrument category of rattles.”
  • People Can Learn Echolocation in Ten Weeks. Researchers taught 12 people who are blind and 14 people with sight to use clicks to navigate their environments.”
  • Humans have ‘untapped’ ability to regenerate body parts, scientists say.”
  • Human brain and testis found to have the highest number of common proteins.”—”This finding suggests that the brain and the testicles share the highest number of genes of any organs in the body.”
  • Tweet thread—”The historic drought in the West is entering a volatile phase. Here’s the story at the Oregon-California border, where salmon are dying en masse and farmers are agitating after being cut off from water they’ve received every year since 1907.” Also “Amid Historic Drought, a New Water War in the West. A drought crisis has erupted in the Klamath Basin along the California-Oregon border, with fish dying en masse and farmers infuriated that they have been cut off from their main water source.”
  • Solar farms could double as pollinator food supplies. To fight pollinator decline, 8 states put habitats alongside solar facilities.”
  • This is apparently different than the claims from 2018 about resurrecting 40,000 year old things. “Un organismo ‘resucita’ tras pasar 24.000 años congelado en Siberia. El rotífero, un animal multicelular, fue capaz de reproducirse después de descongelarse.” (An organism ‘resurrects’ after spending 24,000 years frozen in Siberia. The rotifer, a multicellular animal, was able to reproduce after thawing.) Also. Also “A living bdelloid rotifer from 24,000-year-old Arctic permafrost.”—”In natural, permanently frozen habitats, some organisms may be preserved for hundreds to tens of thousands of years. For example, stems of Antarctic moss were successfully regrown from an over millennium-old sample covered by ice for about 400 years1. Likewise, whole campion plants were regenerated from seed tissue preserved in relict 32,000-year-old permafrost2, and nematodes were revived from the permafrost of two localities in northeastern Siberia, with source sediments dated over 30,000 years BP3. Bdelloid rotifers, microscopic multicellular animals, are known for their ability to survive extremely low temperatures4. Previous reports suggest survival after six to ten years when frozen between −20° to 0°C4, 5, 6. Here, we report the survival of an obligate parthenogenetic bdelloid rotifer, recovered from northeastern Siberian permafrost radiocarbon-dated to ∼24,000 years BP. This constitutes the longest reported case of rotifer survival in a frozen state.”
  • Why Peru is reviving a pre-Incan technology for water. Peru is turning to ancient indigenous techniques and natural ecosystems to keep its taps running, as climate change threatens to dry out its water supply.”
  • Organic molecules reveal clues about dying stars and outskirts of Milky Way.”—”Researchers from the University of Arizona have detected organic molecules in planetary nebulae, the aftermaths of dying stars, and in the far reaches of the Milky Way, which have been deemed too cold and too removed from the galactic center to support such chemistries.”
  • A new dimension in the quest to understand dark matter. UC Riverside dark matter research program targets assumptions about particle physics.”—”The new research, which proposes the existence of an extra dimension in space-time to search for dark matter, is part of an ongoing research program at UC Riverside led by Tanedo. According to this theory, some of the dark matter particles don’t behave like particles. In effect, invisible particles interact with even more invisible particles in such a way that the latter cease to behave like particles.”
  • Carbon Dioxide, Which Drives Climate Change, Reaches Highest Level In 4 Million Years.”
  • See the First Images NASA’s Juno Took As It Sailed by Ganymede.”—”The spacecraft flew closer to Jupiter’s largest moon than any other in more than two decades, offering dramatic glimpses of the icy orb.”
  • Ultra-high-density hard drives made with graphene store ten times more data.”—”A jump in HDDs’ data density by a factor of ten and a significant reduction in wear rate are critical to achieving more sustainable and durable magnetic data recording. Graphene based technological developments are progressing along the right track towards a more sustainable world.” Also “Ultra-high-density hard drives made with graphene store ten times more data. Graphene can be used for ultra-high density hard disk drives (HDD), with up to a tenfold jump compared to current technologies, researchers at the Cambridge Graphene Centre have shown.”
  • New Form Of Silicon Could Enable Next-Gen Electronic And Energy Devices.”—”A team led by Carnegie’s Thomas Shiell and Timothy Strobel developed a new method for synthesizing a novel crystalline form of silicon with a hexagonal structure that could potentially be used to create next-generation electronic and energy devices with enhanced properties that exceed those of the “normal” cubic form of silicon used today.”
  • FDA Approves New Drug Treatment for Chronic Weight Management, First Since 2014.”
  • Many People Have a Vivid ‘Mind’s Eye,’ While Others Have None at All. Scientists are finding new ways to probe two not-so-rare conditions to better understand the links between vision, perception and memory.”—”Based on their surveys, Dr. Zeman and his colleagues estimate that 2.6 percent of people have hyperphantasia and that 0.7 percent have aphantasia.”
  • Tweet—”‘Let’s write an intriguing science headline!’ (my cartoon for last week’s @newscientist )”
  • Retracted! “Fields of Watermelons Found On Mars, Police Say. Authorities say rise of fruit aliens is to blame for glut of outer space watermelons.” Also “This article was published in error.”
  • FBI sold phones to organized crime and read 27 million ‘encrypted’ messages. Messages were routed to an FBI-owned server and decrypted with master key.”
  • Teaching drones to hear screams from catastrophe victims.”—”In a disaster, time is of the essence when searching for potential victims who may be difficult to find. Unmanned aerial vehicles make the perfect platform for state-of-the-art technology allowing emergency crews to find those in need and provide situational awareness over a large area.”
  • In the Mind of an Internet Troll. Understanding the internet troll phenomenon and why it happens.”—”Ever wondered what goes on in the mind of those people you see in the internet and social media comment sections that are just so full of anger and negativity? The ones that you might hear on Twitch streams or other live videos cursing content creators in the worst way imaginable? If so, then keep reading…”
  • Things like this have happened a couple of times over the years. I remember the first I experienced was back in the 90s a small company screwed up their BGP config and it propagated, causing the entire Internet to route through them … “How an Obscure Company Took Down Big Chunks of the Internet. You may not have heard of Fastly, but you felt its impact when sites didn’t load around the world Tuesday morning.”
  • Microsoft’s Kate Crawford: ‘AI is neither artificial nor intelligent’.”–”The AI researcher on how natural resources and human labour drive machine learning and the regressive stereotypes that are baked into its algorithms.” About Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Kate Crawford—”The hidden costs of artificial intelligence, from natural resources and labor to privacy, equality, and freedom. What happens when artificial intelligence saturates political life and depletes the planet? How is AI shaping our understanding of ourselves and our societies? Drawing on more than a decade of research, award-winning scholar Kate Crawford reveals how AI is a technology of extraction: from the minerals drawn from the earth, to the labor pulled from low-wage information workers, to the data taken from every action and expression. This book reveals how this planetary network is fueling a shift toward undemocratic governance and increased inequity. Rather than taking a narrow focus on code and algorithms, Crawford offers us a material and political perspective on what it takes to make AI and how it centralizes power. This is an urgent account of what is at stake as technology companies use artificial intelligence to reshape the world.”
  • Jeff Bezos is going into space. Fingers crossed he won’t come back.” Also “Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson Aims to Fly to Space Before Jeff Bezos.”
  • Want to Teach Older Workers New Skills? Ask Younger Colleagues to Train Them. Flipping the top-down approach to training can work — but be prepared for challenges.”
  • How We Serve Our Customers While Working a 4-Day Work Week.”—”As a company, Buffer has always had a high bar for customer support. We aim to provide fast, personal, and informed customer support responses 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We also assign one Advocate to every ticket so that each customer gets a sense of continuity with us. The thing about Advocacy is that even if we are working one less day per week, the incoming ticket volume remains mostly unchanged.” “We’ve tried several different setups and are quite happy with where we’ve landed. Here’s exactly the system we currently use to make a four-day work week work for our Customer Advocacy team, along with a transparent look at our team goals and metrics from the last year of working a four-day work week.” “In general, a shorter work week is a great opportunity for the Advocacy team to learn and grow in several areas: Communication … Knowledge management … Experimenting with time management … Setting individual goals”
  • For Apple and others, flexibility is the vital component to the future happiness of workers.”
  • The Tyranny Of Time. The clock is a useful social tool, but it is also deeply political. It benefits some, marginalizes others and blinds us from a true understanding of our own bodies and the world around us.”
  • ‘HR Managers of the Human Soul’. On Our Own American Zhdanovshchina.”—”The abrupt ascendancy of HR as the central organizing power of society extends far beyond literature, of course. It has certainly overtaken philosophy, the academic discipline I know best. In the middle ages philosophy was said to be the “handmaiden” [ancillaris] of theology; in the modern period it became the handmaiden of science. Today philosophy is in many respects an ancillary of human resources”
  • The Cult of Busyness. A life of leisure was once the aspiration of the upper class. But now, bragging about busyness is how people indicate their status. Could a pandemic change the way busyness is glorified?”
  • The Pandemic Blew Up the American Office — For Better and Worse. Widespread working from home is here to stay, but its benefits are unevenly distributed.”
  • Major Chinese city battles Delta Covid variant first detected in India with lockdowns, mass testing. Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong are carrying out mass testing and have locked down areas to try to control a flare up in coronavirus cases in Guangzhou. More than 100 cases have been reported in Guangdong, China’s most populous province, with 96 of them in Guangzhou, the province’s capital. The Guangzhou cases are concerning because they involve the Delta strain of the coronavirus, which was first detected in India and can spread very quickly.”
  • How To Help Anxious Kids Through This Next Phase Of The Pandemic. People are going mask-free and life is opening up — and some kids are nervous. Here’s how to help.”—”The key is to help them make sense of those feelings, and find ways to adjust to our latest version of “normal” as the pandemic continues to evolve. Here’s how. 1. First, simply help kids identify when they’re feeling uncomfortable … 2. Ask specific questions about what’s making them uneasy … 3. Make it clear that you’re in charge and that you’ve done your research … 4. Model the behavior you’d like to see …”
  • The Return To Work Might Not Look As You’d Hoped. The Big Return to offices isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Here’s how to make peace with that.”—”The office is set to become a place where people go to attend important meetings or collaborate on tasks, while ticking off the rest of their to-do lists from home. The optimum time to spend in the office for both employers and employees seems to be two to three days a week.”
  • Capitol Police had intelligence indicating an armed invasion weeks before Jan. 6 riot, Senate probe finds.” Also “Schumer: Senate Report ‘Strengthened Argument’ For Jan. 6 Commission. Republicans successfully used the filibuster to block House-approved legislation to create an independent commission on the Capitol riot last month.”
  • How America Fractured Into Four Parts. People in the United States no longer agree on the nation’s purpose, values, history, or meaning. Is reconciliation possible?”
  • Joe Manchin cosponsored the voting-rights bill in 2019 that he’s now blocking on the grounds that the GOP doesn’t like it.”—”Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin opposes a sweeping voting-rights bill that his party’s trying to pass. Manchin has said he objects because no Republicans back it. With him opposing, it cannot pass. Manchin cosponsored the same bill in 2019, when it also had no GOP backers.”
  • The Secret IRS Files: Trove Of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How The Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax. ProPublica has obtained a vast cache of IRS information showing how billionaires pay little in income tax compared to their massive wealth — sometimes, even nothing.” Also “US super-rich ‘pay almost no income tax’. Details claiming to reveal how little income tax US billionaires pay have been leaked to an news website.”
  • The Government Is Here to Help Small Businesses — Unless They’re Cooperatives. The Small Business Administration’s rules prevent it from helping most employee- and consumer-owned cooperatives, even though Congress specifically asked it to. The result? Co-ops are largely cut out of the mainstream financial system.”
  • Nevada finally bans racist ‘sundown sirens’ originally used to order nonwhite people out of town.”
  • The Mogul and The Monster: Inside Jeffrey Epstein’s Decades-Long Relationship With His Biggest Client. Of the many mysteries that still surround the life and crimes of the notorious financier, the source of his wealth, and thus his power, might be the greatest. His long-standing business ties with his most prominent client, billionaire retail magnate Leslie Wexner, hold the key.”
  • The Oracle’s Daughter Sarah Green escaped her mother’s cult 22 years ago. She still thinks about those she left behind.
  • From The Innsmouth Look dept: “Industrial Designer Transforms Seaweed Into Extraordinary Textiles. Violaine Buet’s multidisciplinary materials research has yielded wonderfully surprising results.”
  • My Friends And I Are Going To Live In A ‘Golden Girls’-Style Situation After We Retire. ‘Why couldn’t we use Blanche, Rose, Dorothy and Sophia as a model to plot our own post-midlife sorority setup?'”
  • My Ridiculous Dating System Totally Works! There’s just one catch.”—”Cue the Trello board. As of today, the board has six stages and eight traits. It’s similar to the business development process of a salesperson, with each stage representing a step toward a successful deal and each trait representing a characteristic that is more likely to lead to success. The stages are: To Vet, Vetting, Vetted, Scheduling, Scheduled and Dating. Each person is represented by a Trello card — a kind of digital sticky note.” “Before the first date, I try to determine the following: Does he make me laugh via text? Does he live in L.A.? Does he like his job? Is he down to go backpacking? Will he get on the phone?” “After the first date, I ask myself: Does he like himself? Is he curious? Is he kind?” “Why didn’t it work out? I think it’s because he didn’t like me back. Well then. ‘Does he like me back?’ A ninth trait to add to the board.”
  • Variations on a Theme: How a 50 Year Old Song by a Fake Band Broke My Brain.”—”If my mind can be taken over by this haunted, treacly love song from 1970 in the year 2021, then I have hope for the things I create, the things my kids will create, the work we are all doing now, that they can bridge through to the future and reverberate on and on for generations to come. People can find joy and meaning in something we send out into the world. Like, this planet is a groovy place.”
  • Nike Wanted To Use Greek on their Latest Overpriced Child Labor Produced Shoe, And Blew It.”—”‘Piks’? Really Nike? No one there knows the difference between ΠΙΚΣ and ΝΙΚΗ????? Congrats, your designers could be Pastors.”
  • The update about the Playdate handheld game device from Panic is delightfully weird, including the old macOS UI for their music app, and the kinda Macintosh look of the device on the new dock. Website updated. Watch the update. Also “Playdate, the console with a crank, gets July preorder for $179, game details. Today’s news: 24 “season one” games, optional stereo, free browser-based dev kit.”
  • El Salvador becomes first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender after passing law.”
  • There’s a new ocean now—can you name all 5? On World Oceans Day, Nat Geo cartographers say the swift current circling Antarctica keeps the waters there distinct and worthy of their own name: the Southern Ocean.”
  • No one believed in Winx Club, except for its creator. Iginio Straffi on putting up a fight for his magical girl show.”
  • Stonefly, a chill mech game, respects the environment and its creatures. It’s a beautiful, mid-century modern-inspired natural world.”
  • What if Max Payne fought werewolves in a reality-breaking hotel? Welcome to El Paso, Elsewhere.”
  • Rick and Morty might be coming to Fortnite. To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to play Fortnite.”
  • We Spoke to Tom Hiddleston About Loki, Powerpoint Presentations, and the Nature of Free Will. A brief chat with the star of Marvel’s latest streaming series.” Also “Who are the mysterious Time-Keepers? The all-powerful wizards are key to Marvel’s Loki.” Also “Loki’s Loki isn’t the Loki you know, but the Loki you knew. Now you’re just some Loki that I used to know.” Also “Loki gets his own cereal, Loki Charms. It’s a General Mills and Marvel team-up.”

Omnium Gatherum: 6jun2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for June 6, 2021

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

Omnium Gatherum: 2jun2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for June 2, 2021

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

  • As a reminder, if you have or use Amazon devices, consider whether you want to participate in Amazon Sidewalk: “You Have a Week to Opt-Out of Amazon Sidewalk, Do It Now.”—”If the idea of sharing part of your network with the neighbors is totally fine with you, please consider the fact that Amazon is a company of liars who cannot be trusted.” Comcast did something similar with their routers a while ago, I recall, to provide hotspots using people’s bandwidth that required opting-out, which in and of itself is a red flag.
  • Educator Workshop—The Unicorn Tapestries: Where Magic and Science Meet.” Thursday, June 3, 2021, 3:30–5:30 pm, Online but through the Met, New York. “Join experts for an interdisciplinary, virtual exploration of The Met Cloisters’ famous Unicorn Tapestries. Learn about the artistry and innovation behind the tapestries and consider the complex and enduring relationship between humanity and nature. The program includes practical curriculum connections for teaching and learning with science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). For educators of all disciplines and grade levels.”
  • Ian McKellen plays Hamlet at Theatre Royal Windsor, 21st June – 4th September, in Windsor, near London. “Ian McKellen stars as Hamlet, 50 years after first taking on the role in this reimagined age, colour and gender-blind production of Shakespeare’s unrelenting tale of madness, revenge and death. Staged in a new format never seen before at Theatre Royal Windsor, including a limited number of on-stage seats to be made available closer to performances dates, this is your exclusive opportunity to experience world-class theatre up-close.” [HT Ian McKellen]
  • Is the 300-year search for one of Shakespeare’s actual books over?.”
  • Sennet, Issue 5: Summer 2021. Includes, among other things, an exclusive interview with Isaac Childres, creator of Frosthaven and Gloomhaven. “Senet is an all-new independent print magazine about the craft, creativity and community of board gaming.”
  • Sisterhood: Dark Tales and Secret Histories [Amazon, DTRPG, Publisher] edited by Nate Pedersen, from Chaosium, cover art by Liv Rainey-Smith—”In churches and convents and other religious communities, sisterhood takes many forms, forged and tested by such mundane threats as disease and despair, but also by terrors both spiritual and existential—Satan’s subtle minions and the cosmic nightmare of the Cthulhu Mythos. Sisterhood: Dark Tales and Secret Histories presents sixteen horror stories by some of the genre’s leading female voices. Their settings range around the globe and across the centuries, from 6th century Ireland to 17th century Virginia to Indonesia in the recent past.”
  • Salts Could Be Important Piece of Martian Organic Puzzle, NASA Scientists Find. A NASA team has found that organic, or carbon-containing, salts are likely present on Mars, with implications for the Red Planet’s past habitability.”
  • New dark matter map reveals cosmic mystery. An international team of researchers has created the largest and most detailed map of the distribution of so-called dark matter in the Universe.”
  • NASA releases stunning new pic of Milky Way’s ‘downtown’.”—”It’s a composite of 370 observations over the past two decades by the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory, depicting billions of stars and countless black holes in the center, or heart, of the Milky Way. A radio telescope in South Africa also contributed to the image, for contrast.” Also “Magnetized Threads Weave Spectacular Galactic Tapestry.”
  • Galaxy cluster warps space, magnifying more distant galaxies.”
  • China maintains ‘artificial sun’ at 120 million Celsius for over 100 seconds, setting new world record.”
  • The Central California Town That Keeps Sinking. The very ground upon which Corcoran, Calif., was built has been slowly but steadily collapsing, a situation caused primarily not by nature but agriculture.”
  • Polypropylene recycling from carpet waste. A significant part of carpet waste consists of petroleum-based polypropylene. As a non-recyclable product, disposing of it has previously meant incineration or landfill. However, a new solvent is now making it possible to recover virgin-standard polypropylene from carpet waste — with no perceptible reduction in quality. Developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP and its partners, the process also involves costs that are quite competitive. The development has taken place as part of the ISOPREP EU project.”
  • Enzymes successfully embedded in plastics. In general, plastics are processed at way over a hundred degrees Celsius. Enzymes, by contrast, cannot usually withstand these high temperatures. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP have managed to reconcile these contradictions: They are able to embed enzymes in plastics without the enzymes losing their activity in the process. The potentials this creates are enormous.”
  • Rochester laser experiments demonstrate ‘helium rain’ likely falls in the solar system. New research at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics provides clues to the evolution of the solar system.”
  • Light-shrinking material lets ordinary microscope see in super resolution.”—”Electrical engineers at the University of California San Diego developed a technology that improves the resolution of an ordinary light microscope so that it can be used to directly observe finer structures and details in living cells. The technology turns a conventional light microscope into what’s called a super-resolution microscope. It involves a specially engineered material that shortens the wavelength of light as it illuminates the sample—this shrunken light is what essentially enables the microscope to image in higher resolution.”
  • Beer byproduct mixed with manure proves an excellent organic pesticide. A new study published by the open access publisher Frontiers has demonstrated that beer bagasse and rapeseed cake can be used as effective biodisinfestation treatments to reduce populations of soil parasites and increase crop yields. Researchers demonstrated that using these organic treatments in soils significantly reduced root-knot nematodes and boosted beneficial soil populations, as well as reducing waste from the agricultural industry by incorporating organic by-products as a treatment instead of harmful chemical fumigants.”
  • A Browsable Petascale Reconstruction of the Human Cortex.”—”Today, in collaboration with the Lichtman Laboratory at Harvard University, we are releasing the “H01” dataset, a 1.4 petabyte rendering of a small sample of human brain tissue, along with a companion paper, “A connectomic study of a petascale fragment of human cerebral cortex.” The H01 sample was imaged at 4nm-resolution by serial section electron microscopy, reconstructed and annotated by automated computational techniques, and analyzed for preliminary insights into the structure of the human cortex. The dataset comprises imaging data that covers roughly one cubic millimeter of brain tissue, and includes tens of thousands of reconstructed neurons, millions of neuron fragments, 130 million annotated synapses, 104 proofread cells, and many additional subcellular annotations and structures — all easily accessible with the Neuroglancer browser interface. H01 is thus far the largest sample of brain tissue imaged and reconstructed in this level of detail, in any species, and the first large-scale study of synaptic connectivity in the human cortex that spans multiple cell types across all layers of the cortex. The primary goals of this project are to produce a novel resource for studying the human brain and to improve and scale the underlying connectomics technologies.”
  • Climate change-resistant corals could provide lifeline to battered reefs. Corals that withstood a severe bleaching event and were transplanted to a different reef maintained their resilient qualities, according to a new study led by Katie Barott of the School of Arts & Sciences.”
  • The Robot Smiled Back. Columbia Engineering researchers use AI to teach robots to make appropriate reactive human facial expressions, an ability that could build trust between humans and their robotic co-workers and care-givers.” Watch “Animatronic Robotic Face Driven with Learned Models“.
  • New Study Shows How to Boost Muscle Regeneration and Rebuild Tissue. Salk research reveals clues about molecular changes underlying muscle loss tied to aging.”
  • The Indifference Engine. Nobody knows what will be useful in the future. And this is why we so often find humanistic activities in the seeds and roots of STEM.”—”Tech is not separate from poetry and politics and other (as a programmer might claim they are) indifferences; merely forgetful of them. The digital humanities helps us to see how they work together.”
  • Amazon Prime Is an Economy-Distorting Lie. A new antitrust case shows that Prime inflates prices across the board, using the false promise of ‘free shipping’ that is anything but free.”
  • Tulip craze takes a tumble, as they are want to do: “The NFT market bubble has popped and we’ve got the charts to prove it.”
  • Tweet thread—”I’m back from a week at my mom’s house and now I’m getting ads for her toothpaste brand, the brand I’ve been putting in my mouth for a week. We never talked about this brand or googled it or anything like that. As a privacy tech worker, let me explain why this is happening. 🧵”—”Your data isn’t just about you. It’s about how it can be used against every person you know, and people you don’t. To shape behavior unconsciously.”
  • Vizio makes nearly as much money from ads and data as it does from TVs. Those low-priced TVs are a vehicle for advertising and they can track what you’re watching.”—”While the hardware business has significantly more revenue, profits from data and advertising spiked 152 percent from last year, and are quickly catching up.”
  • US Soldiers Expose Nuclear Weapons Secrets Via Flashcard Apps.”
  • Invisible Roommates AR app #AR #IOT“—”Invisible Roommates is an augmented reality (AR) app that illustrates how devices communicate with each via a network by characterizing the devices as little cute AR 3D avatars. The application would first detect all of the different devices connected to your network; this would include the more obvious ones like computers or phones, as well as other things, like TVs, speakers, game consoles, vacuums or washing machines. It would also obtain manufacturing data that the device is advertising , the use that to construct a little character.”
  • An Australian inventor wants to stop global warming by electrifying everything. The 47-year-old, who won the MacArthur “genius” award in 2007 for his prodigious inventions “in the global public interest,” has spent the past decade working to solve climate change through technology.”
  • The Smart Skeleton: an open-source, interactive tool for teaching muscle actions and joint movements.”—”This paper describes the design, construction, and use of an open-source hardware and software tool intended to help Anatomy and Physiology students test their knowledge of muscle actions and joint movements. Orientation sensors are attached to a model skeleton to turn the skeleton into an interactive, physical model for teaching limb movements. A detailed description of the construction of the tool is provided, as well as the configuration and use of companion software.”
  • Distribute Commons, Not Commodities.”—”The DWeb Principles call for “distributed benefits.” Companies like Amazon remind us why. The people contributing their work, their data, and their imagination to make technology valuable should receive value in return. All of us, no matter what we contribute, should benefit because a truly distributed web should be a commons for everyone.”
  • Building a Postcolonial Knowledge Commons.”—”In responding to COVID, how should research libraries use the opportunity to tackle the ongoing crisis of postcoloniality?”
  • Bosses are acting like the pandemic never happened. The pandemic transformed work. A lot of employers haven’t caught up.”
  • ‘Let the bodies pile high’: Cummings’ testimony proves critics right.”
  • This was literally a joke on SNL but happened: “Las Vegas officials hold pop-up vaccine clinic at strip club.” Get poked whilst being titillated.
  • Not Everyone Is Happy Hugs Are Back. Here’s Why. ‘While millions of people have lamented the lack of hugs and physical contact since March last year, for me and people like me, social distancing brought freedom from unwanted touch.'”
  • Tweet—”Liza Minnelli has outlived Donald Trump’s blog — “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump” — where he shared false statements after social media companies banned him.”
  • The Secret Service Has To Protect Former Presidents — But What If They Are In Jail? Donald Trump could be the first president to face jail or prison time, creating a dilemma for the officials charged with protecting him.”
  • Stimulus Checks Substantially Reduced Hardship, Study Shows. Researchers found that sharp declines in food shortages, financial instability and anxiety coincided with the two most recent rounds of payments.”
  • 100 Experts Express ‘Growing Alarm’ That Republicans Are Endangering Democracy. ‘Our democracy is fundamentally at stake. History will judge what we do at this moment.'”
  • If Democracy Is Dying, Why Are Democrats So Complacent? Democrats are unwilling to match their language of urgency with a strategy even remotely proportional to it.”
  • Democrats Prepare To Investigate Capitol Riot After GOP Blocked Bipartisan Commission. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proposed to her colleagues four options to launch an investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection, despite Republican resistance.”
  • Joe Biden Becomes First U.S. President To Commemorate Tulsa Race Massacre. ‘My fellow Americans, this was not a riot; this was a massacre,’ Biden said on the centennial of the attack on ‘Black Wall Street.'”
  • Illinois Becomes First State To Pass Bill Banning Cops From Deceiving Youth Suspects. The legislation both a near-unanimous vote in both chambers, making the state one step away from banning the practice that contributes to false confessions.”
  • Why every single statue should come down. Statues of historical figures are lazy, ugly and distort history. From Cecil Rhodes to Rosa Parks, let’s get rid of them all.”
  • America Has a Drinking Problem. A little alcohol can boost creativity and strengthen social ties. But there’s nothing moderate, or convivial, about the way many Americans drink today.”—”After more than a year in relative isolation, we may be closer than we’d like to the wary, socially clumsy strangers who first gathered at Göbekli Tepe. “We get drunk because we are a weird species, the awkward losers of the animal world,” Slingerland writes, “and need all of the help we can get.” For those of us who have emerged from our caves feeling as if we’ve regressed into weird and awkward ways, a standing drinks night with friends might not be the worst idea to come out of 2021.” Mentions lots of books and media on the topic.
  • New media company from AT&T spinoff will be called Warner Bros. Discovery.”—”The next big player in the streaming wars now has a name: Warner Bros. Discovery. The company’s tagline will be, “the stuff that dreams are made of,” in a nod to the 1941 Warner Bros. film “The Maltese Falcon.” The new media company would be the result of a $43 billion proposed merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia, which AT&T said it would spin out just three years after buying Time Warner (as it was named at the time).”
  • is launching a feature for keeping track of books. It imports a Goodreads export, and more. Here’s a help doc on their BBS that talks about it: Bookshelves.
  • Catalan Clock.”—”In Catalan time is read a bit differently than in most other languages. At 00:00, is twelve o’clock, but after that time is not said as ‘amount of time that passed or that is missing until the next hour’, but as ‘fraction of the current hour (which by english standard will be the next one)’.”
  • More accurate clocks may add more disorder to the universe, scientists say. Accuracy may come at a cost.”
  • ‘Fake Christianity’ Is Growing in the US. A counterfeit form of Christianity is more popular than the real thing, according to respected researcher Dr George Barna.”—”‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’ is a worldview that is defined and driven by current culture, more than by historic religious truths or a comprehensive and coherent doctrine, according to Barna. In other words, it is the sort of Christianity that lots of people want.”
  • Gun Church That Worships With AR-15s Bought a 40-Acre Compound in Texas for Its ‘Patriots’. The Rod of Iron Ministries has become more militant since leader Hyung Jin ‘Sean’ Moon attended the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.”
  • Surreal images in a gallery from Cream Electric Art for a United Airlines ad campaign. Watch “United Airlines – Route 66 – Build“—”Photoshop build for the Route 66 execution of our United Airlines campaign. We loved working on this intricate photoshop project for the launch of United Airlines Dreamliner flights in Australia. We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response to these surreal dreamscapes that shake up the stereotypical postcard approach to travel shots. Hats off to all involved!”
  • More about NFTs. Wait. No, this is not about NFTs: “Italian Artist Sells Invisible Sculpture for More Than $18,000.”—”Though he’s received much critique for the sale, Garau argues that his work of art isn’t ‘nothing,’ but is instead a ‘vacuum.'” Um, actually, it’s not, technically, even vacuum, a volume of negative pressure. There’s not even a measurable volume in which negative pressure can exist, NFTs, er, I mean FFS.
  • Christina Hendricks: ‘We were critically acclaimed – and everyone wanted to ask me about my bra’. The star of Good Girls discusses Mad Men, sexual harassment and squaring her glamorous reputation with her ‘weird, goofy’ personality”
  • 100 Ways to Make the World Better for Non-Binary People. Respecting people’s pronouns, and 99 other easy things.”—”Non-binary identity is more visible than ever in the mainstream media, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to safety, support, opportunities, understanding—or any of the other things many non-binary people actually need.”
  • Cicadas: A crash course.” Quartz Weekly for May 26.

Crowdfunding Campaign Countdown: 1jun2021

Here’s a selection of crowdfunding campaigns that are counting down, ones that I’ve noticed and am currently watching as of June 1, 2021.

  • 70 hours to go: “this world is not yours: an RPG zine. A 1-2 player RPG zine about generations, change, and what you leave behind.” By Travis D Hill
  • 4 days to go: “Galgenbeck After Dark. Ruinous World Building for Galgenbeck.”—”A collection of dark quests, encounters, forlorn places, and doomed souls.” Compatible with Mörk Borg.
  • 7 days to go: “Paperback Adventures – A Novel Solo Word Game. A wordbuilding roguelike for one. Hop from genre to genre in a quest spanning various pulp novels.”—”Conquer a menagerie of pulp novel characters in this solo deckbuilding word game.”
  • 7 days to go: “Abyss of Hallucinations Vol. 1 – A MÖRK BORG setting. MÖRK BORG compatible screenprinted zine inspired by Aleister Crowley’s Book of Lies.” Optional add on is Book of Lies in the same format and style as the zine.
  • 9 days to go: “FISK BORG. Brutal and accursed fishing set in the somber world of MÖRK BORG ttrpg.”—”FISK BORG is a supplement for MÖRK BORG that offers new mechanics to bring somber fishing into your blood-soaked roleplaying sessions. Adapting tools from Richard Kelly’s fishing RPG Rod, Reel, and Fist, Fisk Borg unleashes dozens of sub-aquatic nightmares to those brave or foolish enough to summon them.”
  • 13 days to go: “QUESTS: Heroes of Sorcado. A fantasy co-operative story-driven campaign board game for 1-6 players. Monsters, events, traps, side quests & so much more!”—”Welcome to Quests: Heroes of Sorcado, an epic fantasy cooperative campaign for 1-6 players. In each of eight adventures (plus a bonus training adventure) you’ll build your character, acquiring powerful spells and weapons, increase your abilities by defeating monsters and evading traps, and forge your path through choice-driven events, story moments, and side quests.” by David Killingsworth, of Solar Flare Games, makers of Nightmare Forest and others.
  • 14 days to go: “Jungle Tomb of the Mummy Bride Compatible for DCC & 5E. Available for both Dungeon Crawl Classics and 5th Edition! Dare your characters explore the fabled tomb of the accursed Mummy Bride?”—”Inspired by the pulp weird fantasy of Gary Gygax’s infamous Appendix N, Jungle Tomb of the Mummy Bride is designed for a group of four to six 3rd level characters. The adventure can be used for campaign play and as a one-shot non-competitive module, but also works equally well as a tournament scenario.”
  • 15 days to go: “Somninauts. A Rules-Light RPG and Storytelling Toolkit for Dreamy Mystery Adventures.”—”Somninauts is a rules light table top role-playing game where players solve mysteries by using weird science to dive into dreams. Find clues in the mundane waking world, then use those clues as fuel to carry your crew into a dreaming realm of surreal adventure. Fight against the forces that would eject your waking presence from the sleeping sphere of the subconscious. Contain the nightmares seeking a foothold into the mundane world. Solve cases. Save reality. Somninauts is also a tool kit you can use to inject mysteries and surreal adventures into your favorite role-playing game.”
  • 23 days to go: “Knock! Issue Two. An Adventure Gaming Bric-a-Brac. Being A Compendium of Miscellanea for Old School RPGs. For us OSR weirdos and curious D&D heads alike.”—”It is filled with that old-school-slash-adventure-gaming unique flavour: thoughts about system and substance, useful rules and procedures, random tables and lists, pages of maps, six new classes, nine new monsters, and four complete adventures.”
  • 24 days to go: “Campfire. the anthology horror storytelling game.”—”Campfire is a storytelling game for 2-6 players, designed to be played in an hour or two with cards, coins, and a special cloth playmat. During a game, take turns as the Narrator and weave together people, places, and things using flavorful story prompts to set the scene. Collaborate to thrill, surprise, and terrify! … If you’re a fan of approachable storytelling games like Fiasco or anthology horror like Are You Afraid of the Dark? or Creepshow, Campfire is for you! Tell a story, from creeping start to bloody end, in a single two-hour session, all with zero-prep. ”
  • 29 days to go: “ARC: Doom Tabletop RPG. A cataclysmic tabletop RPG where heroes embark on heart-racing adventures to slay the apocalypse.”—”ARC is a role-playing game where heroes defy the cruel Doomsday Clock to save their world from a looming apocalypse. Rules-light, tension-heavy, dripping with deliciously dark art yet lovingly written for all storymakers at heart—now on Kickstarter for a limited time only.” “Stories you make and play in ARC run against a timer. While heroes navigate and transform the world around them, the real-time Doomsday Clock ticks to an irreversibly cataclysmic event. That doom is up to you. It could be an explosive battle, the literal end of the world—or something more intimate: the departure of beloved spirits, the farewell of an era.” from Exalted Funeral.
  • Upcoming: “Traveller’s Guide to the Soddenweald. A tabletop supplemental of swamp-themed flora, fauna, food, and potion recipes for your 5th edition games”

Update 4jun2021:

  • 13 days to go: “EVA & LUNA. Solo & Advanced Multiplayer Experience with Myraclia board game.”—”Eva expansion enables ultimate solo & advanced multiplayer experience with Myraclia board game. Not only can you play solo against this cunning opponent, but you can even challenge two powerful eternal beings and feel the experience of the full-fledged 3-player game. And as each of your virtual opponents is pursuing its own strategy, you can never know what to expect. Every game is different. But this enriched board gaming experience is not limited to solo play. Do you think that with your beloved real-life board gaming partner you are limited to a ‘duel’ experience? Not anymore. Eva is ready to confront two human players as well, often focusing her wild and vicious attention on the one appearing more dangerous to her. You´ve never felt the same exciting tension in a ‘2-player’ game before.”
  • 15 days to go: “The Keeyp: Roguelite Board Game. Find the Key. Get to the Gate. No two games are the same.”—”The Keeyp is a Roguelite-inspired board game where you build out the dungeon as you play, making each game feel fresh and exciting! Explore the dungeon each turn, gather unique items, and engage in combat with other players. The first player to get the Key and escape through the Gate wins (or the last player standing if nobody has escaped). Can you find the Key and make it to the Gate first?”
  • 26 days to go: “HEXano. A fast paced, visually stunning, competitive jigsaw game for 1-5 players!”—”HEXano is a competitive, multiplayer jigsaw that boasts a striking aesthetic and simple to learn gameplay. Made up of 96 unique, hexagonal tiles the possibilities are limitless. Every game is guaranteed to be completely different from the last but equally as intense. Once you place your first tile, the game never stops. Every round adds more tiles to the table. Every tile brings new opportunities to take the lead. Every opportunity however could lead to problems in the future if you don’t plan ahead. Every game is guaranteed to look different from the last. Playable for 1-5 players of all ages, with game rounds lasting from 10-25 minutes. Whether you need something quick to play whilst you’re waiting for the last few people to turn up to games night or you just want to dive straight into a game that requires no setup, HEXano is the answer!”

Update later 4jun2021:

  • 3 hours to go: “Jack Irons: The Steel Cowboy Vol. 1. ‘When Reality Belongs to Evil, Heroes are Inevitable.’ 96 Pages of Weird Space West! A Reincarnated Immortal in Galactic Armageddon!”—”A Reincarnated Immortal Seeks Freedom and Purpose in Galactic Armageddon. 96 Page Hardcover Collecting Issues #’s 1-3.”

Update 6jun2021:

  • 24 days to go: “The Literary Tarot. A Tarot Deck Unlocking the Secrets of Classic Literature.”—”We are Brink Literacy Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the world through storytelling. To create our latest endeavor, The Literary Tarot, we reached out to some of the greatest authors and cartoonists of our time and asked them to pair a tarot card with a seminal book that embodies the meaning of the arcana.”
  • 27 days to go: “FILTH & GRAMMAR. The Comic Book Editor’s Secret Handbook.”—”Award-winning Editor SHELLY BOND has been throwing red ink at comic book writers, artists, letterers, colorists, and logo designers for over three decades. FILTH & GRAMMAR: THE COMIC BOOK EDITOR’S SECRET HANDBOOK is her 160-page magnum opus, a step-by-step guide to making comic books from cover to cover. It’s the first time Bond reveals the alchemy and method to her editorial madness.”
  • TTRPG Charity Bundle for Trans Support. A bundle hosted by Cat Elm with content from 46 creators.”

Summary for the month of May 2021

At the very end of April, I had brand new 1 Gbps Internet installed. I celebrated by actually live streaming for the first time since August 2019. Mostly I live streamed actual play of Ironsworn: Starforged but also played a lot of Destiny 2, and a little bit of No Man’s Sky and Outward.

My current tabletop streaming setup is pretty much the same as it was back in August 2019, but I did add, in May, a chroma background, which works mostly. My lighting is crappy, so it doesn’t work as well as it should, but it’s fine.

For live streaming games, I use to play on my Mac (iMac, Retina 5K, 27-inch, 4.2 Ghz i7, 64 GB RAM, Radeon Pro 580 8 GB), either native or using Parallels to run Windows on a virtual machine. I’ve given up on that. I picked up an extra screen that was on sale (Sceptre 27″ IPS QHD 144Hz), an Elgato HD 60 S+, and an HDMI splitter. Then I hooked all that up to my old Nvidia Shield TV, and plug in a keyboard and mouse. Then, I play games I own on Steam or Epic through GeForce Now on the device, and capture that to OBS on my Mac through the Elgato. It works pretty darned well, I must say. I also picked up a chat link cable, but, for some reason, that doesn’t work at all, so if I’m streaming I can’t yet use in-game voice chat in things like Destiny 2. The audio for chat has to go through the controller, but if I do that then the audio doesn’t reach OBS at all. But, that’s fine. I just listen to the audio routed through OBS as I play, without voice chat.

I signed up for the GeForce Now service, so I get priority access to virtual machines, and RTX is turned on. It’s pretty! And works better than trying to play on my Mac whilst also streaming from it. As someone without funds to get a real PC just to play games, this is an amazing solution. And the streaming works great, and there’s plenty of bandwidth for all of it!

Speed test 28apr2021 new fiber

The major downside, however, is that I really can’t play indie games anymore. I can only play what I have access to through GeForce Now, which is not small, but certainly precludes a lot of my library. But, what I do have access to includes a lot that I couldn’t even try to play before. So, it’s a trade off.

At some point this month, I bit the bullet and recreated a Twitter account. I found that I kept going back to Twitter to check on news from particular accounts, so I created a private account where I only have a list of those accounts I want news from; and I neither accept follows nor follow directly anyone else. It is my compromise. Without followers, I’m not tempted to lie to myself that tweets reach someone, that I’m not howling into an empty void. So, that’s where that is. (And, here I am howling into a different void. FML.)

Also, I heard about a replacement for the old Project Wonderful scrappy ad auction site, which I used to run over on Hermetic Library for a long time. I always liked being able to offer ad spaces that were more indie and open to people jumping in that wouldn’t really do so otherwise. So, I signed up and added an ad space to this blog through the ComicAd Network. The focus is less about books and writing, so doesn’t really work well for Hermetic Library like PW did, but the game and nerdy Odd Order blog does fit, even if there’s not much traffic. It’s neat to see what interesting and wacky stuff show up!

Yeah. What else?! Idek. That’s what comes to mind.


I started to stream tabletop / actual play every Thursday 4:20pm–6:66pm US/Central. Other streams were entirely random, but probably a lot more than I will stream in June. I’m vaguely thinking about scheduling a video game stream on Saturdays 6:66am–4:20pm, but I’m not sure yet. If I had people watching, I would take it more seriously, but that’s chicken-and-egg …

Twitch analytics May 2021

Anyhow, for May 2021, I had an average of 0.9 viewers, gained 1 follower, have 0 subscribers, made $4.03 ($4 from cheers, and 3¢ from ads), and streamed for a total of 58 hours. Sad, but true.

I decided to only archive my actual play videos to YouTube, so the video game streams will stay on Twitch and expire in a week or two after they are live.

Ironsworn: Starforged Actual Play Series

Here’s the series so far, archived to YouTube:

Here’s other videos and archived streams for May 2021

Omnium Gatherum: 30may2021

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

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

Omnium Gatherum: 26may2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for May 26, 2021

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

Omnium Gatherum: 23may2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for May 23, 2021

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