Omnium Gatherum: 16feb2022

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

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

  • 15 days to go: “Humble Comics Bundle: Vampirella XOXO by Dynamite“—”A bloody good time. Uncover a macabre library featuring one of horror’s most enduring comic-book heroines in our latest bundle from Dynamite! Unearth classic Vampirella tales and discover modern interpretations in volumes like Vampirella: Hollywood Horror and the Vampirella Masters Series, featuring stories from some of comics’ most celebrated writers including Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Kate Leth, and more. Plus, your purchase helps support NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.”
  • The Town with the Feather Crest [Amazon] by Lita-Luise Chappell, illo. Francisco Enciso—”This adventure in poetic rhyme by poet Lita-Luise Chappell tells the story of Drew, a young man who comes across a fantastic castle. He learns from Will, the guard at the gate, that the town is under a spell. By day all are safe, but at night a hungry dragon haunts the area looking for people to eat. But Will sees that Drew has a true heart and is the one to break the spell. So the lad sets off to the mountain in the distance where the dragon lives, not knowing how to accomplish the undertaking. All he knows is that there is the feather which can accomplish the task and change everything. The lad’s ingenious delivery system wins the day. The book teaches empathy for the greater good, courage to go forth in the world, and ingenuity to fulfill a difficult task.”
  • One Good Thing: The Left Hand of Darkness showed us that the greatest romances in life can be friendships. Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1969 sci-fi tour de force can still teach us something about human connection.”
  • Why MIT physicists say they’ve just made “a breakthrough” in quantum mechanics. The transition from classical to quantum physics has been achieved.”—”Physicists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have announced a breakthrough in their research of quantum physics. According to a study published last month in the journal Nature, they have observed the moment in which ultra-cold atoms switch locations with one another. The study conducted by the MIT team discovered that the movement of changing locations has led to the formation of so-called ‘quantum tornadoes.’ To realize the awesome nature of this discovery, one will remember that two laws of physics govern the universe: classical physics and quantum physics. Classical physics govern our movements, pace, and location, all based on the law that we can only be in one place at any one time. Meanwhile, in quantum physics, particles may exist in numerous places simultaneously. These particles can tunnel through obstacles and immediately communicate information across great distances.”
  • US sea levels will rise rapidly in the next 30 years, new report shows“—”A new report provides an alarming forecast for the US: Sea level will rise as much in the next 30 years as it did in the past 100 — increasing the frequency of high-tide flooding, pushing storm surge to the extreme and inundating vulnerable coastal infrastructure with saltwater. The interagency report, led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shows how scientists are increasingly confident that US coasts will see another 10 to 12 inches of sea level rise by 2050. The implications of that forecast are enormous. ‘This report is a wake-up call for the US, but it’s a wake-up call with a silver lining,’ NOAA chief Rick Spinrad said at a news conference on Tuesday. ‘It provides us with information needed to act now to best position ourselves for the future.'”
  • Study finds Western megadrought is the worst in 1,200 years“—”The Western U.S. and northern Mexico are experiencing their driest period in at least 1,200 years, according to the new study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The last comparable — though not as severe — multidecade megadrought occurred in the 1500s, when the West was still largely inhabited by Native American tribes.”
  • Watch “‘Mega’ iceberg releases 152 billion tons of fresh water as it melts into the ocean“—”When the massive A68A iceberg snapped off its ice shelf in July 2017, it was the sixth-largest iceberg on record. Now more than half of it is gone — and it has left 152 billion tons of fresh water in an area known for being a wildlife haven.”
  • Climate Scientists Encounter Limits of Computer Models, Bedeviling Policy. Supercomputer simulations are running up against the complex physics of programming thousands of weather variables such as the extensive impact of clouds.”
  • Watch “Australia lists Koalas as endangered species – BBC News”—”Australia has listed the koala as an endangered species across most of its east coast, after a dramatic decline in numbers. The once-thriving marsupial has been ravaged by land clearing, bushfires, drought, disease and other threats. Australia has been urged to do more to protect koalas from rapidly diminishing habitats and climate change. The species was listed as “vulnerable” in those states and territory only in 2012. Despite the rapid deterioration, governments have been accused of dithering.”
  • Watch “Flock of yellow-headed blackbirds mysteriously drop from sky in Mexico“—”Hundreds of yellow-headed blackbirds have been filmed falling out of the sky and dying in mysterious circumstances in the northern Mexican city of Cuauhtémoc. The cause of death remains unclear but experts said it was most likely the flock was ‘flushed’ from above by a predatory bird swooping down to make a catch.”
  • Mysteries of Stephen Hawking’s doodle-filled blackboard may finally be solved. What is ‘Exxon gravity,’ and why was it on the legendary physicist’s chalkboard?—”What, for example, does ‘stupor symmetry’ mean? Who is the shaggy-bearded Martian drawn large at the blackboard’s center? Why is there a floppy-nosed squid climbing over a brick wall? What is hiding inside the tin can labeled ‘Exxon supergravity?’ Hopefully, the world’s great minds of math and physics can rise to the occasion with answers.” Watch “Stephen Hawking’s mystery blackboard and other belongings go on display“—”An exhibition at the Science Museum will give visitors an insight into the mind of renowned British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking.” About “Stephen Hawking at Work. Explore incredible objects, including some never seen by the public before, from Professor Stephen Hawking’s office in this new, free display. A new special display, Stephen Hawking at Work, will give an insight into the working life of the world-renowned theoretical physicist. Come and marvel at the extraordinary contents of Hawking’s office which was acquired for the nation by the Science Museum Group in May 2021. Highlight objects going on display for the first time include a rare copy of Hawking’s PhD thesis, his wheelchair and Hawking’s most treasured office possession—a blackboard filled with academic doodles and jokes.” An exhibit at Science Museum, London, 10 February 2022 – 12 June 2022.
  • Astronomers discover a new type of star covered in helium burning ashes“—”A team of German astronomers, led by Professor Klaus Werner of the University of Tübingen, have discovered a strange new type of star covered in the by-product of helium burning. It is possible that the stars might have been formed by a rare stellar merger event. The fascinating results are published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. While normal stars have surfaces composed of hydrogen and helium, the stars discovered by Werner and his colleagues have their surfaces covered with carbon and oxygen, the ashes of helium burning – an exotic composition for a star. The situation becomes more puzzling as the new stars have temperatures and radii that indicate they are still burning helium in their cores – a property typically seen in more evolved stars than those observed by Werner and his team in this study.”
  • New NASA Image Shows Venus Glowing Like an ‘Iron Pulled From a Forge’. Parker is designed to study the Sun, but the plucky probe is unexpectedly teaching us new things about Venus.” Also “Parker Solar Probe Captures its First Images of Venus’ Surface in Visible Light, Confirmed.”
  • Promising skin probiotic could be a way to reduce antibiotic treatments for acne. University of Antwerp researchers show how specific lactobacilli change the skin microbiome and reduce acne lesions.”
  • ‘Energy crisis’ in fat cells behind inflammation associated with obesity. In a new study published in Nature Metabolism, KI researchers show how disturbances in the energy metabolism in human fat cells, can lead to the development of inflammation and insulin resistance.”
  • Scientists discover how caffeine protects against cardiovascular disease“—”Coffee and tea lovers can enjoy their caffeine, as McMaster University scientists have identified how caffeine can help fight cardiovascular disease. Researchers say that just two to three average-sized cups of coffee per day contains enough caffeine to trigger a cascade effect, which reduces the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad’ cholesterol. High bloodstream levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.”
  • Psilocybin Treatment for Major Depression Effective for Up to a Year for Most Patients, Study Shows.”
  • Creation of First Human-Monkey Embryos Sparks Concern. Called chimeras, these lab-grown creations have been hailed as a major scientific breakthrough. But some ethics experts see reason for worry.”
  • How our Stone Age ancestors tried to colonise western Europe 10,000 years earlier than previously thought. The nature of the flint tool technology found in the cave has led the archaeological investigators to conclude that the colonists or their parents or grandparents had travelled to France from the Middle East.”
  • Neanderthal extinction not caused by brutal wipe out. New fossils are challenging ideas that modern humans wiped out Neanderthals soon after arriving from Africa.” Also “A tiny tooth unearthed from a French cave is upending what we know about early humans.”
  • Stonehenge’s Richest Man | The Bush Barrow Chieftain“—”Today we’re doing something a little different. We’re taking Curator’s Corner on the road! Wiltshire Museum in Devizes has very kindly lent us the objects excavated from Bush Barrow for our upcoming ‘The world of Stonehenge’ exhibition. But before they were taken off display, we grabbed some time with director David Dawson, to find out what makes the Bush Barrow Chieftain such an important figure for our understanding of British prehistory and the world of Stonehenge.” About The world of Stonehenge exhibit, British Museum, London, through July 2022.
  • This New Implant Reversed Paralysis Within a Single Day. Three paralyzed patients regained the ability to walk, cycle, and even swim.”—”For years now, researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne have been working on a groundbreaking approach to reverse paralysis in people with spinal cord injuries, by reactivating dormant neurons with electrical stimulation. The treatment has now taken a massive leap forward, thanks to new findings published in Nature Medicine in which vertebrae implants restored the ability to walk and move around in three paralyzed patients—all in just a matter of hours.”
  • Watch this mama chimp treat her son’s open wound by applying insect ‘poultice’. Observed behavior could be evidence of ‘prosocial’ human-like empathy in primates.”
  • North Korea Hacked Him. So He Took Down Its Internet. Disappointed with the lack of US response to the Hermit Kingdom’s attacks against US security researchers, one hacker took matters into his own hands.” Also watch “Some Guy Just Hacked North Korea.”
  • Oops. Apparently not a billionaire’s war on the moon after all. It’s a state actor. Not sure that’s better. “A rocket is still set to slam into the Moon next month — but it may not be from SpaceX after all. Mistaken rocket identity.”—”Last month, an astronomer and space tracking expert made a bit of a splash when he predicted that a piece of an old SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket left in space for the last seven years was going to collide with the Moon this March. But now he’s changing that prediction in a big way. While the rocket part he’s been tracking is still on a collision course with the Moon, he now believes that the vehicle is not an old Falcon 9 part, but an old Chinese rocket instead.”
  • But, maybe we’ll become Martians and start a war on Earth by launching missile at Earth. “NASA picks Lockheed Martin to build rocket that can launch samples of dirt off of Mars. A big piece of the Mars sample return puzzle.” Just, you know, listen to Ripley and stick to quarantine protocols.
  • We Almost Forgot About the Moon Trees. A collection of tree seeds that went round and round the moon was scattered far and wide back home.”
  • NASA Plans To De-Orbit The ISS By 2031 So We Have 9 Years To Figure Out How To Hijack It. I hate to see good space hardware go to waste, and if NASA is just going to chuck it into the ocean…”
  • Tweet—”The funniest consequence of the huge increase in graphical fidelity is gamers finding out what women look like.”
  • Zuckerberg’s Metaverse Gets Quiet Rollout in Facebook-Wary D.C. Meta’s team is laying out its vision for this imaginary world in calls with conservative think tanks, nonprofits.”
  • Why some Australians are paying real money for virtual land in the metaverse. ‘We’re looking at buying plots for our children. I see this absolutely becoming a money earner.'” Wait. what.
  • Inside Facebook’s African Sweatshop“—”Despite their importance to Facebook, the workers in this Nairobi office are among the lowest-paid workers for the platform anywhere…some of them taking home as little as $1.50 per hour…”
  • Making ‘Dinobabies’ Extinct: IBM’s Push for a Younger Work Force. Documents released in an age-discrimination case appear to show high-level discussion about paring the ranks of older employees.”
  • Tweet—”[email protected]cracked made a great video about plagiarism and other problems with NFTs … Scammers then took assets from that video and attempted to sell them as NFTs”. Watch the first video “If NFTs Were Honest | Honest Ads (Bored Ape Yacht Club, Azuki, CloneX Parody)“—”What if NFT collections like Bored Ape Yacht Club, Azuki, CloneX, and other such stupid crap were actually honest about what they were?” And then, watch “My Fake NFTs Got Stolen
  • Opera browser now allows emoji-only web addresses. A company named Yat will sell you a string of emoji as a URL.”—”Yat pages are unique domains generated when someone purchases a string of emoji (which itself is called a Yat). The owner of a Yat can create an NFT of their emoji string, and the company plans to eventually let users connect their Yats to electronic payments. According to the company, musicians are among the early adopters of Yats; for instance, singer Kesha’s Yat page is the emojis Rainbow Rocket Alien (editor note: Vox’s CMS doesn’t allow rendering of emojis), followed by y.at, which redirects to her Kesha’s World website.” “With the Opera integration, users won’t have to type in the y.at part of the Yat page web address as they do in other browsers — so to get to Kesha’s Yat page in Opera, you’d just type in the Rainbow Rocket Alien emojis.” That’s a host name not a domain name. The domain name is still there, it’s just the intergration means you don’t have to type the fully qualified hostname. They’re just selling emoji URLs at their own domain name and redirecting them to some a landing page of links. It’s simply the way URL shorteners work, like Bit.ly. Here. Try this, I set it up in about 2 seconds, it should work right now: 🌈🚀👽.hrmtc.com. I added the 🌈🚀👽 hostname in my own DNS and redirected it to the root HRTMC page of links. And, it gets worse, because of course they’re making this a fucking stupid NFT thing: “You Can Now Visit Websites Using Only Emojis 🙄. Opera’s web browser now supports emoji-only URLs, which doesn’t sound that useful.”—”These unique emoji strings are called Yats and their owners can tokenize them as an NFT on the Ethereum blockchain and sell or hold a short animation of the string on OpenSea. The company plans on letting users connect their Yats to electronic payments. Yats are between one and five characters and can sell from anywhere between a few dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars: The most expensive Yat was a single-character gold key that went for $425,000 in mid-2021.” smdh. I mean, shit, I’ll sell you an URL shortened emoji hostname redirect for the low, low flat price of only $666 and I won’t use any effin NFTs shite or force you to use a page of links on my site. … so, buddy, what would it take to get you into this scam TODAY?!
  • The NFT Accounts Of The Couple Who Allegedly Tried To Launder $4.5 Billion In Stolen Crypto Have Disappeared. The couple may have attempted to use NFTs to launder some stolen Bitcoin, the Department of Justice complaint says.” Also “Accused Bitcoin Mega Crook Made Rap Videos. And Dear God, Are They Cringey. Feds seized $3.6 billion in Bitcoin linked to a 2016 Bitfinex hack from Heather Morgan, who also raps under the name ‘Razzlekhan,’ and husband Ilya Lichtenstein.”—”Heather Morgan is a lot of things: A 31-year-old economist and self-proclaimed ‘serial entrepreneur’ who’s worked in tech for a decade, a Forbes contributor from 2018 to 2021, a surrealist artist whose beyond-trippy pieces are often inspired by her synesthesia and sometimes include prosthetic eyeballs, and an outlandish rapper who spits about villainous capitalists. She has also been accused by the Department of Justice of participating in criminal activities.”
  • Boston’s Federal Reserve says it has solved technical challenges of a ‘digital dollar’ It could settle payments in under two seconds and handle 1.7 million transactions a second.”
  • Jeff Bezos’ superyacht will see historic bridge dismantled – BBC News”—”Rotterdam has confirmed it will dismantle a historic bridge to allow a superyacht built for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to fit through. The record-breaking luxury yacht is being built by Dutch firm Oceanco and was linked to Mr Bezos last year. The vessel is reported to be 417ft (127m) long and too tall to fit through the Koningshaven Bridge. A spokesman for the mayor confirmed the plan to reporters, with Mr Bezos set to foot the bill through Oceanco. Reports emerged in Dutch media on Tuesday that the middle section of the Dutch city’s bridge, known locally as De Hef, would be temporarily removed to allow the 130ft (40m) high boat to sail through. The move is controversial because the steel bridge has a long history, and is now a national monument. It previously went through a major renovation which saw it out of action from 2014 to 2017, when officials said it would not be dismantled again.”
  • Fired Peloton employees crash new CEO’s first all-hands. You can’t make this stuff up.”
  • Astronomers Rally to Stop Starlink and Other Satellite Constellations From Ruining the Sky. Satellites are increasingly interfering with optical and radio astronomy, prompting the coordinated response.”
  • Deer in New York Test Positive for Omicron, Researchers Warn of Future ‘Spillback to Humans’. Many wild deer in Staten Island have been infected by the coronavirus, and some have even recently caught Omicron.”
  • A Highly Virulent Variant of HIV Has Been Discovered in the Netherlands. Though the VB variant seems to be more transmissible and harmful, it can still be effectively treated and isn’t spreading widely.”
  • Watch “How Rome’s sewage could help prevent future pandemics. Modern cities spew out a constant surge of sewage, but floating in the smelly sludge are vital cellular clues about Covid-19 and its spread among the population.”
  • An Undiscovered Coronavirus? The Mystery of the ‘Russian Flu’. Scientists are grasping for any example that could help anticipate the future of Covid, even a mysterious respiratory pandemic that spread in the late 19th century.”
  • USDA Confirms Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in a Flock of Commercial Broiler Chickens in Kentucky and Backyard Mixed Species Flock in Virginia.”
  • Wait. Birds are dinos. That kinda makes this prehistoric bird flu! “First dinosaur found with a respiratory disease. Odd growths in the fossilized neck bones of a sauropod suggest the animal suffered from infected air sacs about 145 million years ago.”
  • Tweet—”WI State Sen. Felzkowski (R), presenting a natural immunity bill, says she has had both delta and omicron infections. WI State Sen. Larson (D): ‘I would note that if natural immunity was something that would prevent you from getting COVID, you wouldn’t have gotten COVID twice.'”
  • Masks work, even for kids. But sometimes science isn’t enough.
  • Why Do People Love QAnon? | The Problem With Jon Stewart Podcast | Apple TV”—”What led to QAnon’s success? In this week’s podcast, Jon talks to BBC Newsnight International Editor and Foreign Correspondent Gabriel Gatehouse about how QAnon can attract people desperately looking for reasons to explain their misfortunes, and how the mainstream media often leads to the virality of conspiracies. Like the pee tape. Remember the pee tape? We gotta talk about the pee tape.”
  • Archives Found Possible Classified Material in Boxes Returned by Trump. The National Archives consulted with the Justice Department about the discovery after the former president sent back documents that he had improperly taken from the White House when he left office.”
  • The Right-Wing Conspiracy Theorists and the Butterflies. Marianna Wright, executive director of the QAnon-attacked National Butterfly Center, gets candid with Sierra.”
  • Talking to demons, he says? You know what that makes him, right? “Tennessee preacher Greg Locke says demons told him names of witches in his church. Controversial Tennessee preacher Greg Locke has turned from claims of election fraud to conversations with demons.”
  • Arizona Politician Promotes Far-Right Event Featuring Hanukkah-Basher. Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers is the latest politician to praise an annual conference that promotes extremist and racist figures.”
  • G.O.P. Declares Jan. 6 Attack ‘Legitimate Political Discourse’. The Republican National Committee voted to censure Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for participating in the inquiry into the deadly riot at the Capitol.” Also tweet—”Ronna McDaniel on 1/6: ‘What these violent protesters are doing is the opposite of patriotism’ Mitch McConnell on 1/6: ‘A failed insurrection’ Kevin McCarthy on 1/6: ‘What is unfolding is unacceptable and un-American'”
  • Column: Extremists are set to take over this California county. Will more of the state be next?“—”Standing near a Confederate flag, militia leader Woody Clendenen said the militia assembled a list of local politicians that includes the county elections official and the district attorney. He said his group plans on ‘cleaning house.'” Also “A day before Capitol attack, pro-Trump crowd stormed meeting, threatened officials in rural California. A Shasta County supervisors’ meeting was faced with verbal threats to government officials and talk of civil war. “You have made bullets expensive. But luckily for you, ropes are reusable,” one person threatened.”
  • Protesters blocking a US-Canada border crossing over Covid-19 mandates can face severe penalties, official says.” Also “The whole world should be worried by the ‘siege of Ottawa’. This is about much more than a few anti-vaxx truckers. How did this ‘grassroots’ rebellion paralyse the Canadian capital? With funding from the far right and a boost from Facebook misinformation.” Tweet—”BREAKING: GiveSendGo, the crowdfunding website used by the Freedom Convoy, is now redirecting to the domain GiveSendGone[.]wtf. A video from the Disney film Frozen now appears alongside a manifesto condemning the website and the Freedom Convoy.” “An S3 bucket run by GiveSendGo was found to be leaking pics of drivers licenses, military IDs, passports, & other sensitive docs just days ago. Source tells me that despite an attempted fix, the bucket was exploited again to allow the takeover of the site.” Also tweet—”I feel some readers outside the capital might benefit from context about how utterly gob-smacking it is for Ottawans to take to the streets, and how it signifies the most massive failure of police, officials and government to protect citizens.” Tweet—”I believe the situation in Ottawa has changed.”
  • A protester thought he was heckling Mayor Wu. It wasn’t her. ‘If only being a 5’4″ Asian woman imbued in me the powers of being mayor of Boston.'”—”Wu has been no stranger to protestors, as a vocal minority have raised opposition to the city’s employee and indoor COVID-19 vaccination mandates in recent weeks, including by staging demonstrations outside the mayor’s Roslindale home. But Monday’s incident appeared to succinctly highlight the sexism and racism Wu, the first woman and person of color elected to serve as mayor, has experienced since taking office in November. She and other public officials have spoken out about and denounced the persistent issue during her short tenure in the mayor’s office.”
  • Please Delete Your Recordings: Inside a Police Conference. Police, surveillance tech companies, and government contractors gathered to joke about law enforcement robots in locker rooms and talk about getting close to senior police officers by giving them hunting holidays.”
  • San Francisco police linked a woman to a crime using DNA from her rape exam, D.A. Boudin says. The San Francisco police crime lab has been entering sexual assault victims’ DNA in a…” Tweet—”Jesus fucking christ. Because reporting a sexual assault was so easy for women to begin with. Guarantee if SF is doing this, so is everyone else.”
  • The long arc: 3 years on, the Cyprus gang rape case begins to bend the other way. A UK teen convicted of lying about being gang raped by Israeli tourists in Ayia Napa has cleared her name. Will the truth of what happened in that Cyprus hotel room now prevail?”—”In interviews to The Times of Israel, the lawyers also described working amid a sea of misinformation — mainly in the Israeli press — that denigrated the complainant’s character, shamed her for perceived sexual promiscuity, and presented an inaccurate telling of events that influenced public opinion and even the behavior of the presiding judge. Had she not been acquitted by Cyprus’s top court, they were ready to go all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, if needed, to clear her name. The Times of Israel also spoke to journalists, activists, and experts who criticized what they saw as a botched investigation followed by an unjust trial in which a British tourist who reported a gang rape then stood accused of a crime in a foreign country. For many, Emma became a symbol of ‘rape culture’ run amok, a young woman not only disbelieved but made into a criminal by a public out to defend the honor of its young men against a ‘loose’ woman out to ruin their lives.”
  • New team named (intentionally?!) after the patriarchs of A Handmaid’s Tale. Who could have guessed? “NFL says league, not Washington Commanders, will oversee investigation into Dan Snyder allegation“—”The NFL says the league — and not the Washington Commanders — will conduct an independent inquiry into Tiffani Johnston’s allegations of sexual harassment against team owner Dan Snyder.”
  • People Are Creating Sexbot Girlfriends and Treating Them as Punching Bags. As people turn to digital spaces for sexual fulfillment, it’s clear we need to identify abusive behaviors no matter who or what is on the receiving end.”—”Give humans a virtual space and an avatar to hide behind, and they’ll find a way to turn it into a hotbed of sexual abuse and harassment.”
  • She was less than a year from finishing a master’s degree. Then classmates discovered her OnlyFans page.Tweet—”Must-read piece on rampant hypocrisy in academia that derail the lives and careers of sex workers. Too many people are OK with this casual violence. It must stop.”
  • Watch “How Conservative Book Bans Don’t Protect Kids Part 1“—”Conservatives are making a concerted effort to purge schools of books written by people of color and LGBTQ authors. But book bans don’t protect kids. They just turn them into assholes. Part 1 of 2. This is a digital exclusive.” Also “How Conservative Book Bans Don’t Protect Kids Part 2.”
  • How a Secret Assault Allegation Against an Anchor Upended CNN and Jeff Zucker. The network’s top-rated host and its president were forced out following ethical lapses, an office romance and a letter from a lawyer for ‘Jane Doe.'”
  • Watch “The Alt-Right in Tabletop Games“—”What you are about to watch contains explicit language, adult themes, violence, racism, and transphobia. Viewer discretion is strongly advised. DO NOT INTERACT with the persons mentioned in this video. This is not an invitation to harass and target. Block and move on.” Full disclosure, one person mentioned, Venger Satanis, was a use on the old Key 23 site archived at the library.
  • Notes on Work. There’s a masochistic pride to overworking. How heavy a workload can I truly handle? How many plates can I keep in the air?”—”The tacit competition was who can work the longest, the hardest, and, in exchange, be the most self-righteous about it.”
  • Build-A-Bear just launched an ‘After Dark’ series of horny teddy bears. I have no idea how to feel about this.”
  • Watch “The Templar secret lurking beneath an Italian town“—”Under the hill town of Osimo in Italy, lies a hidden network of tunnels and chambers that connect the city’s palaces in a mysterious maze. The town was once strategically important for the Knights Templar, whose symbols can still be found throughout Osimo, both above and below the surface. Were these passageways and grottos used by the Templars to continue their secret activities long after the order had been disbanded?” Also watch “The tiny church at the heart of the Knights Templar“—”Just outside the city walls of Tomar, the last Portugese town to be commissioned for construction by the Knights Templar, lies a tiny church with a surprisingly important connection to this once mysterious and secretive religious organisation.”
  • Watch “Feeding a Templar Knight” for a boar tenderloin recipe.
  • Watch “Dwarka: Have archaeologists finally found India’s sunken kingdom?“—”The city of Dwarka is one of the seven holy pilgrimage centres in India. It is the only place which is contemporary with the events described in the epic Mahabharata, where it is described as the ancient kingdom of Krishna. It is written that upon Krishna’s death the city was sunk beneath the Arabian sea. Today, archaeologists searching for the lost kingdom believe they have found evidence of its existence off the coast of the modern-day Dwarka, and are trying to understand what could have caused it to be lost beneath the sea.”
  • Watch “Cat Burglar | Official Trailer | Netflix”—”Classic cartoon craziness meets an interactive quiz in CAT BURGLAR. In this Tex Avery inspired toon from the creators of BLACK MIRROR, the viewer helps Rowdy Cat vex Peanut the Security Pup and break into a museum with the goal of making off with a priceless prize. With an average runtime of ten minutes, and over an hour and a half of animation to choose from, the viewer could play CAT BURGLAR a hundred times and never view the same cartoon twice!” “In this edgy, over-the-top, interactive trivia toon, answer correctly to help Rowdy the Cat evade Peanut the Security Pup to steal some prized paintings.”
  • Watch “Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio | Official Teaser | Netflix”—”Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro reimagines the classic Italian tale of PINOCCHIO in a stop-motion musical adventure. Follow the mischievous adventures of Pinocchio in his pursuit of a place in the world. Directed by Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson, the film features an all-star voice cast with Ewan McGregor as Cricket, David Bradley as Geppetto, and introducing Gregory Mann as Pinocchio. Other cast includes Finn Wolfhard, Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett, John Turturro, Ron Perlman, Tim Blake Nelson, Burn Gorman, with Academy Award® winner Christoph Waltz and Academy Award® winner Tilda Swinton.”
  • Watch “Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock — First Look | Apple TV+”—”The Fraggles are back! Get an exclusive first look at the new series Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock, streaming now on Apple TV+”. Also watch Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock — Foo Fighters Perform “Fraggle Rock Rock” | Apple TV+”
  • Watch “In the Court of the Crimson King Official Trailer“—”Official Trailer for the long awaited documentary “In The Court of the Crimson King” by Toby Amies. An official selection for the 2022 SXSW film festival, with a world premiere in Austin in March. What began as a traditional documentary about the legendary band King Crimson as it turned 50, mutated into an exploration of time, death, family, and the transcendent power of music to change lives; but with jokes. In the Court of the Crimson King is a dark, comic film for anyone who wonders whether it is worth sacrificing everything for just a single moment of transcendence. It explores the unique creative environment of King Crimson, one in which freedom and responsibility conspire to place extraordinary demands on the band’s members – only alleviated by the applause of an audience whose adoration threatens to make their lives even harder. It’s a rewarding and perilous space in which the extraordinary is possible, nothing is certain, and not everyone survives intact.”
  • The car is a Saab. Not a 99e, but still. Watch “DRIVE MY CAR – Trailer”—”Two years after his wife’s unexpected death, Yusuke Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima), a renowned stage actor and director, receives an offer to direct a production of Uncle Vanya at a theater festival in Hiroshima. There, he meets Misaki Watari (Toko Miura), a taciturn young woman assigned by the festival to chauffeur him in his beloved red Saab 900. As the production’s premiere approaches, tensions mount amongst the cast and crew, not least between Yusuke and Koji Takatsuki, a handsome TV star who shares an unwelcome connection to Yusuke’s late wife. Forced to confront painful truths raised from his past, Yusuke begins – with the help of his driver – to face the haunting mysteries his wife left behind. Adapted from Haruki Murakami’s short story, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car is a haunting road movie traveling a path of love, loss, acceptance, and peace. Winner of three prizes at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, including Best Screenplay.” Based on “Drive My Car” collected in Men Without Women: Stories [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Haruki Murakami, trans. Philip Gabriel & Ted Goossen—”Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are lovesick doctors, students, ex-boyfriends, actors, bartenders, and even Kafka’s Gregor Samsa, brought together to tell stories that speak to us all. In Men Without Women Murakami has crafted another contemporary classic, marked by the same wry humor and pathos that have defined his entire body of work.”
  • Watch “Men | Official Teaser Trailer HD | A24″—”From writer/director Alex Garland, starring Academy Award nominee Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear. MEN – In Theaters May 20″
  • Watch “X | Official Trailer HD | A24″—”From writer/director Ti West and starring Mia Goth, Jenna Ortega, Martin Henderson, Brittany Snow, and Scott Mescudi. X – In Theaters March 18.”
  • Watch “After Yang | Official Trailer HD | A24″—”From writer/director Kogonada and starring Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Justin H. Min, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, Sarita Choudhury, Clifton Collins Jr. and Haley Lu Richardson. After Yang – in theaters and streaming on Showtime March 4.”
  • ‘The Grimm Legacy’ YA Books In Works As Disney+ Film; David Gleeson To Adapt“—”David Gleeson is attached to pen the feature adaptation to Polly Shulman’s young adult book series The Grimm Legacy, which is being eyed as a potential franchise for Disney+, the forthcoming online streaming subscription service that is slated to launch later this year. First published in 2010, the series consists of three books: The Grimm Legacy, The Wells Bequest, and The Poe Estate. Set in a New York Circulating Material Repository, the story follows a group of teens who work at an old-style lending library that lends magical items to people from the Grimm collection.” Stub at “The Grimm Legacy“—”A group of misfits unleash mayhem in a labyrinthine archive where magical items from the Grimm collection are lent out to a chosen few.” Based on the book The Grimm Legacy, and the series (which has 3 books, for some reason not collected together, except by author), by Polly Shulman—”Elizabeth has just started working as a page at the New York Circulating Material Repository – a lending library of objects, contemporary and historical, common and obscure. And secret, too – for in the repository’s basement lies the Grimm Collection, a room of magical items straight from the Grimm Brother’s fairy tales. But the magic mirrors and seven-league boots and other items are starting to disappear. And before she knows it, she and her fellow pages – handsome Marc, perfect Anjali, and brooding Aaron – are suddenly caught up in an exciting, and dangerous, magical adventure.”
  • ‘The Witchverse’ Anthology Series Based On Baobab Studios’ “Baba Yaga” VR Experience In Works At Disney+“—”Disney Branded Television has teamed with Baobab Studios on The Witchverse, an animated anthology series based on Baobab’s Emmy-winning VR experience and animated short film Baba Yaga. Disney Television Animation is overseeing the development of the project for Disney+. Eric Darnell, writer-director of Baba Yaga, Madagascar, Antz and Baobab’s co-founder and chief creative officer, will executive-produce the series. The Witchverse is described as a global celebration of the international cultural phenomena of witches, their magic and their universal connection to nature. Each witch-i-sode will comically explore and upend common misconceptions surrounding global witch mythology and lore from a mélange of cultures and perspectives around the world.”
  • Watch “Star Wars: The Book Of Boba Fett Theme | EPIC MEDIEVAL STYLE” and “Star Wars: WESTERN MUSIC MIX | Bad Batch Theme, Cad Bane Theme, The Mandalorian (Boba Fett Tribute)“.
  • Amazon’s Lord of the Rings Series Rises: Inside The Rings of Power. One show to rule them all—the first look at a billion-dollar saga set thousands of years before J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendary trilogy.” Watch “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – Teaser Trailer | Prime Video”—”A new legend begins this fall. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, only on Prime Video Sept 2, 2022.” “Amazon Studios’ forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.”
  • Watch “‘Lord of the Rings’ Medley – Solo Bass – Zander Zon.”
  • Watch “Lions rescued from circus released into nature sanctuary – BBC News”—”The four lions were born in captivity and had spent their lives performing in a French circus. After one of the lions attacked the owner they went to an animal welfare group. Plans for the lions to be released into the sanctuary in South Africa were delayed by two years because of the global pandemic but they are finally free to roam their new home.”
  • Watch “Antarctic quest to find Shackleton’s lost ship – BBC News”—”The Endurance was lost on Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated expedition to the Antarctic in 1914-17 and lies at the bottom of the Weddell Sea. Many have tried to identify its resting place but sea-ice cover in the region makes navigation very tricky. Dr John Shears and colleagues, however, are undaunted. Having been beaten on their last mission, they’re returning. The team will take different submersibles this time after the type of vehicle used on the previous quest went missing. If the group succeeds in finding Endurance, they’ll map it and photograph it, but they won’t retrieve any artefacts. Shackleton’s ship is a site of historic importance and has been designated as a monument under the international Antarctic Treaty. It mustn’t be disturbed in any way.”
  • Captain James Cook’s ship HMS Endeavour is FOUND at the bottom of the ocean more than 250 years after it reached Australia – here’s why experts are SURE they’ve solved the enduring mystery. HMS Endeavour has spent more than 200 years in Newport Harbour in the US. James Cook sailed in the South Pacific and landed on Australia’s east coast 1770 Ship was later scuttled in US waters during the American War of Independence. Maritime archaeologists unearthed shipwreck in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island Australian National Maritime. Museum is convinced it’s remains of the Endeavour US expert involved in discovery has since accused Australia of jumping the gun.”
  • Watch “Bikini Kill, the Linda Lindas and a 30-year riot“—”As founder and frontwoman of seminal bands Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, Kathleen Hanna led the way for countless artists looking to meld art and activism. NewsHour Weekend’s Christopher Booker reports on how the punk rock legend inspired generations of musicians and feminists.”

Omnium Gatherum: 9feb2022

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for February 9, 2022.

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

  • Watch “But God Didn’t Say That: Religious Community Members Talk God and Abortion“—”Sam sits down with Jaime Manson, Rafa Kidvai, Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg to learn how their counterparts on the right have successfully melted American minds to make us believe that God outlawed abortion. God didn’t. God’s actually pretty chill.” Also tweet—”The American right is obsessed with curbing abortion rights for religious reasons. The problem? Not all religions are opposed to abortion. Also, women are people.”
  • Nona the Ninth [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Tamsyn Muir, book 3 of the Locked Tomb series, due September 2022, has a cover now. “Her city is under siege. The zombies are coming back. And all Nona wants is a birthday party. In many ways, Nona is like other people. She lives with her family, has a job at her local school, and loves walks on the beach and meeting new dogs. But Nona’s not like other people. Six months ago she woke up in a stranger’s body, and she’s afraid she might have to give it back. The whole city is falling to pieces. A monstrous blue sphere hangs on the horizon, ready to tear the planet apart. Blood of Eden forces have surrounded the last Cohort facility and wait for the Emperor Undying to come calling. Their leaders want Nona to be the weapon that will save them from the Nine Houses. Nona would prefer to live an ordinary life with the people she loves, with Pyrrha and Camilla and Palamedes, but she also knows that nothing lasts forever. And each night, Nona dreams of a woman with a skull-painted face…”
  • The Antidote to Melancholy: Robert Burton’s Centuries-Old Salve for Depression, Epochs Ahead of Science. ‘Whosoever… is overrun with solitariness, or carried away with pleasing melancholy and vain conceits… or crucified with worldly care, I can prescribe him no better remedy than… to compose himself to the learning of some art or science.'”—”An impressive florilegium nearing a thousand pages strewn with a progenitor of hypertext, the book weaves together a cornucopia of quotations from earlier writers, from Seneca to Solomon, to illustrate Burton’s central points — many radical then, some radical still — about a subject he examines ‘philosophically, medicinally, historically, opened and cut up’; a subject of which he had an early and intimate experience. ‘That which others hear or read of,’ he wrote, ‘I felt and practised myself; they get their knowledge by books, I mine by melancholizing.'” “Eventually — centuries before psychologists demonstrated that revising our inner narrative about a situation is the only way to improve our experience of that situation — Burton reoriented to his circumstance, coming to feel that his ‘monastick life’ protected him ‘from those tumults & troubles of the world.’ Out of this conflicted isolation, he composed The Anatomy of Melancholy, subtitled What it is, with all the kinds, causes, symptomes, prognostickes, & severall cures of it. It went on to touch lives as varied as Samuel Johnson, Jorge Luis Borges, and Nick Cave. Keats — whose brief and light-giving life was punctuated by periodic onslaughts of darkness — declared it his favorite book.” “With the sensitive disclaimer that overabsorption in the life of the mind can itself become a source of melancholy, he adds: ‘Study is only prescribed to those that are otherwise idle, troubled in mind, or carried headlong with vain thoughts and imaginations, to distract their cogitations… and divert their continual meditations another way. Nothing in this case better than study… As meat is to the body, such is reading to the soul.'”
  • Sherlock Holmes, Scientific Detective. Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation was born into an age of stunning change. How did Holmes react to his era?”—”The Grolier Club, a private society for bibliophiles on the Upper East Side, with its marble foyer and dark wood-panelled gallery, would be a fine stage for a nineteenth-century fictional murder, perhaps done in the library with a candlestick, most certainly involving a will. On January 12th, an exhibit called ‘Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects’ opened there.”
  • ‘Unbind the tongue’. Joyce and the Irish language, in the centenary year of Ulysses.”
  • Banned: Books on race and sexuality are disappearing from Texas schools in record numbers. Facing pressure from parents and threats of criminal charges, some districts have ignored policies meant to prevent censorship. Librarians and students are pushing back.”
  • Art Spiegelman on Maus and free speech: ‘Who’s the snowflake now?’ Since his early days in the underground comix scene, Spiegelman has reveled in ‘saying the unsayable’ and subverting convention.”—”“You know how Joe Manchin is a thorn in our side?” Spiegelman asked in a phone interview this week. ‘His uncle, A Jamie Manchin, was the state treasurer of West Virginia in the 80s. He said that Garbage Pail Kids should be banned because they’re subverting children. It runs in his family. It reminds me that things keep changing, but we’re still dealing with permutations of the same struggles.'” Also “‘Maus’ Sells Out, Art Spiegelman to Speak“—”The decision regarding one of the most iconic books ever written about the Holocaust prompted widespread shock and criticism. Among those who criticized the decision were the bestselling British author Neil Gaiman. ‘There’s only one kind of people who would vote to ban ‘Maus,’ whatever they are calling themselves these days,’ Gaiman said.”
  • Like clockwork: “LGBTQ book ban proponent faces felony child molestation charge in Missouri. The man tried to have the award-winning graphic memoir “Fun Home,” among other LGBTQ titles, removed from school libraries in Kansas City.”
  • Astronomers Witness A Dying Star Reach Its Explosive End. Two Hawai’i Telescopes Capture a Massive Star Moments Before Going Supernova.”—”For the very first time, astronomers have imaged in real time the dramatic end to a red supergiant’s life, watching the massive star’s rapid self-destruction and final death throes before it collapsed into a Type II supernova. Using two Hawaiʻi telescopes – the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy Pan-STARRS on Haleakalā, Maui and W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea, Hawaiʻi Island – a team of researchers conducting the Young Supernova Experiment (YSE) transient survey observed the red supergiant during its last 130 days leading up to its deadly detonation. ‘This is a breakthrough in our understanding of what massive stars do moments before they die,’ says Wynn Jacobson-Galán, an NSF Graduate Research Fellow at UC Berkeley and lead author of the study. ‘Direct detection of pre-supernova activity in a red supergiant star has never been observed before in an ordinary Type II supernova. For the first time, we watched a red supergiant star explode!'”
  • Mysteriously magnetic rocks collected on Apollo mission finally get an explanation. The rocks retrieved by the Apollo missions have puzzled scientists for 50 years.”—”‘Instead of thinking about how to power a strong magnetic field continuously over billions of years, maybe there’s a way to get a high-intensity field intermittently,’ Evans said. During the first few billion years of the moon’s life, long before most of it froze inside to leave only a small iron inner core surrounded by a partially molten outer core, our orbital companion was an ocean of molten rock. Importantly, however, the moon’s core wasn’t significantly hotter than the mantle above it, meaning that very little convection between the two occurred. The fact that the moon’s molten contents couldn’t churn inside it meant that it couldn’t have had a steady magnetic field like Earth’s. But the researchers say the moon could have created a strong intermittent field.”
  • The First Quadruple Asteroid: Astronomers Spot a Space Rock With 3 Moons. Astronomers had already spotted two other rocks orbiting the asteroid known as 130 Elektra, and think more quadruple systems are out there.”
  • Project Lyra: A Mission to 1I/’Oumuamua without Solar Oberth Manoeuvre“—”To settle the question of the nature of the interstellar object 1I/’Oumuamua requires in-situ observations via a spacecraft, as the object is already out of range of existing telescopes. Most previous proposals for reaching 1I/’Oumuamua using near-term technologies are based on the Solar Oberth Manoeuvre (SOM), as trajectories without the SOM are generally significantly inferior in terms of lower mission duration and higher total velocity requirement. While the SOM allows huge velocity gains, it is also technically challenging and thereby increases programmatic and mission-related risks. In this paper, we identify an alternative route to the interstellar object 1I/’Oumuamua, based on a launch in 2028, which does not require a SOM but has a similar performance as missions with a SOM. It instead employs a Jupiter Oberth Manoeuvre (JOM) with a total time of flight of around 26 years or so. The efficacy of this trajectory is a result of it significantly reducing the ΔV to Jupiter by exploiting the VEEGA sequence. The total ΔV of the trajectory is 15.8 kms−1 and the corresponding payload mass is 115 kg for a SLS Block 1B or 241 kg for a Block 2. A further advantage of the JOM is that the arrival speed relative to 1I/’Oumuamua is approximately 18 kms−1, much lower than the equivalent for the SOM of around 30 kms−1.” Also watch Can We FLY to ‘OUMUAMUA???“—”The ‘Oumuamua mystery is still not solved: What is ‘Oumuamua? The only way to find out is to fly there. But is that possible? This video answers this question.”
  • Biologists discover new insect species at Rice University. Lab waits to see how Houston’s historic 2021 freeze impacted tiny wasp species.”—”Its name sounds legendary, but the newly discovered insect Neuroterus (noo-ROH’-teh-rus) valhalla doesn’t look or act the part. It’s barely a millimeter long and spends 11 months of the year locked in a crypt. N. valhalla does have the noteworthy distinction of being the first insect species to be described alongside its fully sequenced genome, and the Rice University researchers who discovered it are preparing to see how the tiny, nonstinging wasps may have been impacted by Houston’s historic February 2021 freeze.”
  • Whoa, careful where you stick that thermometer! “Scientists use penguins to help track climate change. Climate scientists use various methods of measuring changes on Earth.”—”Climate scientists use various methods of measuring changes on Earth. These include checking sea temperatures, extreme weather patterns and changes in vegetation across continents. But another helpful method of keeping an eye on climate change has emerged in Antarctica – tracking colonies of penguins!”
  • Same-sex penguin couple become first-time dads at New York zoo“—”A penguin couple received an extra special New Year’s gift at a zoo in New York, where they became the organization’s first same-sex foster parents to successfully hatch an egg. The chick was hatched on January 1 by Elmer and Lima, two adult male Humboldt penguins, at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York, the zoo announced in a press release. Elmer and Lima were both born at the zoo themselves — Elmer in 2016 and Lima in 2019 — and they became a couple in fall 2021 during the current breeding season. ‘The penguins are free to choose who they want to spend time with (pair with) and in their case, they chose each other,’ zoo director Ted Fox told CNN in an email, adding: ‘The welfare and wellbeing of every animal that lives at the zoo is very important to us and we support and encourage each animal to make its own choices when choosing their mates.'”
  • Remains of woolly mammoth found on Devon building site. Bones of ice age mammoth, bison, rhinoceros, wolf and hyena uncovered by digger on outskirts of Plymouth.”—”The remains of a woolly mammoth, rhinoceros, bison, wolf and hyena have been found in a cave system uncovered by a digger during the building of a new town in the south-west of England. Experts said the find at Sherford, a 5,500-home development on the outskirts of Plymouth, was “exceptional” and gave an astonishing glimpse into the megafauna that roamed what is now Devon between 30,000 and 60,000 years ago.”
  • Wooly Mammoth De-extinction Scientist Reveals Plan To Create ‘Arctic Elephant’“—”scientist who plans to bring the wooly mammoth—or at least its genes—back from extinction has revealed details about creating an ‘Arctic elephant.’ Mammoths mostly died out around 10,000 years ago. As sea levels rose, the remaining population got stranded on Wrangel Island and eventually disappeared 4,000 years ago. Well-preserved samples of these extinct giants have since been found in the Arctic permafrost, allowing researchers to get a glimpse of their DNA sequence.”
  • Ancient DNA Boom Underlines a Need for Ethical Frameworks. The field of ancient DNA, which combines archaeology and anthropology with cutting-edge genetics, is requiring scientists to have frank conversations about when research is justified and who it benefits.”
  • Archaeologists Discover Missing Link in Human Evolution, in Israel. A hominin died in Jordan Valley 1.5 million years ago – and isn’t the same species as the hominins who reached central Asia 1.8 million years ago. Israeli archaeologists prove there were multiple exits from Africa, and by more than one human species.”
  • Israeli study finds early humans knew to situate hearth in cave’s optimal spot. Tel Aviv University researchers find that as far back as 150,000 years ago, cave-dwelling humans could pick best spot for a fire for minimum smoke and maximum benefits.”—”A new study by Tel Aviv University has found that early cave-dwelling humans were able to place the hearth in the optimal location to allow inhabitants to make the most of the warmth while exposing them to minimal smoke.”
  • Egypt breakthrough as Greek tomb containing 20 mummies found while Cleopatra hunt goes on. ARCHAEOLOGISTS have made a breakthrough discovery in Egypt after unearthing 20 mummies found in a Greco-Roman tomb as the hunt for Cleopatra continues.”
  • Why the foetus of the pregnant mummy is preserved?“—”The foetus remained in the untouched uterus and began to, let say, “pickle”. It is not the most aesthetic comparison, but conveys the idea.”
  • Researchers discover locations of ancient Maya sacred groves of cacao trees. For as much as modern society worships chocolate, cacao — the plant chocolate comes from — was believed to be even more divine to ancient Mayas. The Maya considered cacao beans to be a gift from the gods and even used them as currency because of their value.” As an aside: “The Best Hot Cocoa Is Chartreuse Hot Cocoa. How an herbal liqueur from the Alps—plus a little whiskey—transformed my hot chocolate routine.”—”Once the hot chocolate is really simmering and frothy, I pour it into mugs and add ½ ounce Chartreuse and ¼ ounce high-proof bourbon to each serving.”
  • How a Wildly Popular Fashion Trend That Dominated Stone Age African Civilizations Suggests a 50,000-Year-Old Social Network. Tiny beads led to a big discovery for archaeologists.”—”Scientists have discovered what they believe to be a 50,000-year-old social network—perhaps the world’s earliest—thanks to pieces of Stone Age jewelry scattered across southern and eastern Africa. Humans are thought to have begun wearing beads some 75,000 years ago, making them one of the earliest forms of human adornment.” “The similarities in the beads from different areas suggests a coherent social network spanning a large distance, tying the south of the continent to the east. Beads may have been traded between groups as a sign of allyship—or the trend might have spread from community to community.”
  • Evidence of Viking raids in economic and political development of contemporary Russia. Vikings were not a uniform phenomenon in ancient Scandinavia. They were part of a complex system of a plunder economy that existed in Europe until the early Middle Ages.”
  • Archaeologists find ancient 2000-year-old Buddhist temple. Archaeologists have found one of the oldest known Buddhist temples in the city of Barikot, in the Swat region of Pakistan.”
  • Ancient and hidden, Machu Picchu’s complexity uncovered by archaeologists. Laser-equipped drones have helped archaeologists uncover previously unknown parts of the sprawling ruins.”
  • Archeologists discover 2 giant sphinxes at the lost ‘Temple of a Million Years’ built by a great pharaoh in Egypt 3,300 years ago. Archeologists found two large sphinx statues during the restoration of a temple in Luxor, Egypt. The ‘Temple of Millions of Years’ was a vast funerary temple of King Amenhotep III, who ruled about 3,300 years ago. The limestone statues measured around 26 feet in length and depict the Pharoah in the form of a sphinx.”
  • 164 million-year-old plant fossil is the oldest example of a flowering bud. The discovery changes what we know about the evolution of flowering plants, researchers say.”
  • Scientists at UMass Amherst Engineer New Material That Can Absorb and Release Enormous Amounts of Energy. Researchers inspired by nature to create a new, programmable super ‘metamaterial'”—”A team of researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst recently announced in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they had engineered a new rubber-like solid substance that has surprising qualities. It can absorb and release very large quantities of energy. And it is programmable. Taken together, this new material holds great promise for a very wide array of applications, from enabling robots to have more power without using additional energy, to new helmets and protective materials that can dissipate energy much more quickly. ‘Imagine a rubber band,’ says Alfred Crosby, professor of polymer science and engineering at UMass Amherst and the paper’s senior author. “You pull it back, and when you let it go, it flies across the room. Now imagine a super rubber band. When you stretch it past a certain point, you activate extra energy stored in the material. When you let this rubber band go, it flies for a mile.’ This hypothetical rubber band is made out of a new metamaterial—a substance engineered to have a property not found in naturally occurring materials—that combines an elastic, rubber-like substance with tiny magnets embedded in it. This new ‘elasto-magnetic’ material takes advantage of a physical property known as a phase shift to greatly amplify the amount of energy the material can release or absorb.”
  • Major breakthrough on nuclear fusion energy. European scientists say they have made a major breakthrough in their quest to develop practical nuclear fusion – the energy process that powers the stars.”
  • Genetically engineered immune cells have kept two people cancer-free for a decade. Doctors say long-lasting effects show CAR-T therapy can ‘cure’ some patients.”—”In 2010, two blood cancer patients received an experimental immunotherapy, and their cancers went into remission. Ten years later, the cancer-fighting immune cells used in the therapy were still around, a sign the treatment can be long-lasting, researchers report February 2 in Nature.” “The treatment, known as CAR-T cell therapy, used the patients’ own genetically engineered immune cells to track down and kill cancerous cells (SN: 6/27/18). Based on the results, ‘we can now conclude that CAR-T cells can actually cure patients with leukemia,’ cancer immunologist and study coauthor Carl June of the University of Pennsylvania said at the briefing.”
  • Kombucha Cultures Could Be the Key to Better Water Filters. A study found that filtration membranes formed from SCOBYs are more effective at preventing bacterial growth than commercial equivalents.”
  • These Animals Are Feasting on the Ruins of an Extinct World. Scientists had no idea how an underwater Arctic volcano could sustain so much life. And then they noticed the black tubes.” Also “A thriving colony of 300-year-old Arctic sea sponges survives by eating the fossils of extinct worms. Scientists discovered a huge colony of sea sponges atop a deep-sea mountain in the Arctic Ocean. The sponges, which average 300 years old, are thriving by digesting fossilized worms. It’s the latest discovery in the uncharted, ice-encrusted waters of Earth’s polar oceans.”
  • Untangling the tingle: Investigating the association between the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), neuroticism, and trait & state anxiety“—”The Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is an intensely pleasant tingling sensation originating in the scalp and neck and is elicited by a range of online video-induced triggers. Many individuals now regularly watch ASMR videos to relax, and alleviate symptoms of stress and insomnia, all which are indicative of elevated levels of anxiety. Emerging literature suggests that ASMR-capable individuals are characterised by high trait neuroticism, which is associated with a tendency to experience negative emotional states such as anxiety. To date however no literature has empirically linked these personality constructs and watching ASMR videos on the effect of reducing anxiety. In the current study, 36 ASMR-experiencers and 28 non-experiencers watched an ASMR video, and completed assessments of neuroticism, trait anxiety, and pre- / post-video state anxiety. MANCOVA with Group as the independent measures factor showed that ASMR-experiencers had significantly greater scores for neuroticism, trait anxiety, and video engagement than non-experiencers. Pre-video state anxiety was also significantly greater in the ASMR-experiencers and was significantly attenuated on exposure to the ASMR video, whereas non-experiencers reported no difference in state anxiety pre- and post-video. Thus, watching ASMR alleviated state anxiety but only in those who experienced ASMR. Subsequent mediation analyses identified the importance of pre-existing group differences in neuroticism, trait and (pre-video) state anxiety in accounting for the group difference in the reduction of state anxiety. The mediation analysis further lends support for watching ASMR videos as an intervention for the reduction of acute state anxiety. Future areas for research are discussed.” Also “ASMR is linked to anxiety and neuroticism, our new research finds.”
  • Centuries-old ‘impossible’ math problem cracked using the strange physics of Schrödinger’s cat. The mathematics problem is a bit like Sudoku on steroids.”
  • Does Quantum Mechanics Reveal That Life Is But a Dream? A radical quantum hypothesis casts doubt on objective reality.”—”In 2020, physicists performed a version of Wigner’s thought experiment and concluded that his intuitions were correct. In a story for Science headlined ‘Quantum paradox points to shaky foundations of reality,’ physics reporter George Musser says the experiment calls objectivity into question. ‘It could mean there is no such thing as an absolute fact,’ Musser writes, ‘one that is as true for me as it is for you.’ A newish interpretation of quantum mechanics called QBism (pronounced “Cubism,” like the art movement) makes subjective experience the bedrock of knowledge and reality itself. David Mermin, a prominent theorist, says QBism can dispel the ‘confusion at the foundations of quantum mechanics.’ You just have to accept that all knowledge begins with ‘individual personal experience.'”
  • Everything we see is a mash-up of the brain’s last 15 seconds of visual information“—”Rather than perceiving the fluctuations and visual noise that a video might record, we perceive a consistently stable environment. So how does our brain create this illusion of stability? This process has fascinated scientists for centuries and it is one of the fundamental questions in vision science. In our latest research, we discovered a new mechanism that, among others, can explain this illusory stability. The brain automatically smoothes our visual input over time. Instead of analysing every single visual snapshot, we perceive in a given moment an average of what we saw in the past 15 seconds. So, by pulling together objects to appear more similar to each other, our brain tricks us into perceiving a stable environment. Living ‘in the past’ can explain why we do not notice subtle changes that occur over time. In other words, the brain is like a time machine which keeps sending us back in time. It’s like an app that consolidates our visual input every 15 seconds into one impression so that we can handle everyday life. If our brains were always updating in real time, the world would feel like a chaotic place with constant fluctuations in light, shadow and movement. We would feel like we were hallucinating all the time.” Watch “An Illusion of Stability“—”Our visual world is chaotic and constantly changing, yet what we perceive is remarkably stable. How does our brain create this illusory stability? This illusion shows that our perception is continuously smoothed over time. The face in the video is ageing, yet the face is perceived as ageing less than what it actually is (or not ageing at all). Our perception is thus constantly biased towards the past in order to stabilize the visual world we live in.” “Our visual system’s sluggishness to update can make us blind to immediate changes because it grabs on to our first impression and pulls us toward the past. Ultimately, though, continuity fields promote our experience of a stable world. At the same time, it’s important to remember that the judgements we make every day are not totally based on the present, but strongly depend on what we have seen in the past.”
  • Want to Be More Innovative and Creative? Science Says Avoid the Dreaded Einstellung Effect. Research shows how eliminating the familiar can instantly reveal a broader array of potential solutions.”—”In a study published in Cognition, researchers gave expert chess players game problems to solve and then tracked their eye movement as they sought a solution. Once the experts found a possible solution, their eyes kept drifting back to it — even though they claimed to be searching for better options. That natural tendency is called the Einstellung effect: when the first idea that comes to mind, triggered by familiar features of a problem, prevents a better solution from being found.”
  • Why do we forget? New theory proposes ‘forgetting’ is actually a form of learning.”—”We create countless memories as we live our lives but many of these we forget. Why? Counter to the general assumption that memories simply decay with time, ‘forgetting’ might not be a bad thing – that is according to scientists who believe it may represent a form of learning. The scientists behind the new theory – outlined today in leading international journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience – suggest that changes in our ability to access specific memories are based on environmental feedback and predictability. Rather than being a bug, forgetting may be a functional feature of the brain, allowing it to interact dynamically with the environment.”
  • Monkey ‘queen’ led a violent coup to become her troop’s first female leader. Now her reign is in jeopardy. The young female fought her own mother and 4 top-ranking males to seize control of her troop.” Also “Love Triangle Challenges Reign of Japan’s Monkey Queen. Yakei became a rare alpha female of a macaque troop in a nature reserve, but a kind of simian love triangle may endanger her grip on power.”
  • Foclach: Test your ‘cúpla focal’ with an Irish-language version of Wordle. Irish Wordle fans are being challenged to test their cúpla focal with a version of the game as Gaeilge.” Also “Urdu, Chinese, even Old Norse: how Wordle spread across the globe. Non-English speakers may soon rival the millions playing the original version of the viral word game.”
  • Sony Is Spending 1.2 Billion To Keep Destiny 2 Devs From Leaving. A major chunk of the Bungie acquisition price tag is just to retain talent.”
  • Peloton says CEO has stepped aside, announces 2,800 layoffs“—”Trying to fend off unhappy investors and bolster sales of its at-home fitness equipment, Peloton announced Tuesday that it had replaced its chief executive, John Foley, who also is a cofounder, and said it would lay off 2,800 employees.” Tweet—”SCOOP: Peloton has begun layoffs en masse, according to leaked screenshots viewed by Insider. 50 employees have disappeared from the Slack channel called #teampeloton in roughly one hour.”
  • The US is testing robot patrol dogs on its borders. The quadrupedal machines are being tested as autonomous sentries.”—”The machine can navigate autonomously or be controlled manually, and can be equipped with a number of payloads, including thermal and night vision cameras. In the past, Ghost Robotics has even shown off prototype models equipped with guns, though there is no suggestion the DHS is testing such payloads.” Yet.
  • Is it really, tho? “Finally, a Good Use for NFTs: Preserving Street Art. Murals and other similar forms of art are often ephemeral. Putting them on the blockchain can give them life after they’ve been covered up or removed.”
  • Mapping the celebrity NFT complex. Where do celebrities even hear about “bored apes”? Who is recommending that they buy one? Is this really the best thing any of them can think to do with their money and fame?”—”If you pay attention to both the Hollywood trades and the crypto press, and smoke enough weed, you can begin to pick out the contours of an expanding, interconnected, celebrity-based web3 financial-cultural complex.” Tweet—”I mentioned the whole way that the Jimmy Fallon/Paris Hilton strangely-stilted conversation regarding NFTs was likely part of a larger promotion plan and part of being a celebrity is being told to say weird stuff due to contracts. Someone did the digging.” Tweet—”Now it all makes sense. All these celebrities hawking NFTs are either represented by, or connected to Creative Artists Agency (CAA) – which just so happens to be an investor in OpenSea – which sells NFTs. Fancy that!” Also “CAA Signs Jenkins The Valet: Is This A Sign That Hollywood Is Embracing NFTs?“—”As if 2021 couldn’t get crazier in the Metaverse or the regular-old universe, Jenkins the Valet, a Non-Fungible Token (NFT) avatar on the Ethereum blockchain, valet, and secret keeper, has signed with Creative Artists Agency (CAA) for representation across books, film, TV, podcasts, and more. Together, they will be bringing Jenkins’ debut novel to market in collaboration with a New York Times Bestselling author. Yes, you read that right. An NFT avatar has signed with the global talent representation agency who works with the likes of Beyonce, Justin Bieber, JJ Abrams, Zion Williamson, and more. CAA’s website says it operates at the intersection of talent, content, brands, technology, sports, and live events. They now count a non-fungible token as one of their clients.” Also “Bored Ape Yacht Club is Racist and Started by Neo-Nazis.” Whilst Gumroad has a social media meltdown, tweet—”A few have asked about our stance on NFTs: NFTs are a scam. If you think they are legitimately useful for anything other than the exploitation of creators, financial scams, and the destruction of the planet the we ask that you please reevaluate your life choices. Peace.” “Also f̸̗̎ú̴̩c̷̖͌ḳ̵̀ any company that says they support creators and also endorses NFTs in any way. They only care about their own profit and the opportunity for wealth above anyone else. Especially given the now easily available discourse concerning the problems of NFTs.” “How can you be so dense?” And tweet—”We’ve been getting a lot of questions about NFT’s again today… and to reiterate, it’s firmly in the ‘No Flipping Thanks’ column.” Also tweet—”So nfts might be the new nxivm?”
  • Feds arrest a New York couple and seize $3.6 billion in stolen cryptocurrency.” Also “Alleged Masterminds Of $4.5 Billion Crypto Heist Also Auteurs Of Weapons-Grade Internet Vanity Trash.” Also “This Is the Couple Charged With Laundering Billions in Stolen Bitcoin. Before being accused in a major cryptocurrency conspiracy, Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan shared advice, ideas and amateur rap videos online.”
  • The Plan to Put Bitcoin in Mouse DNA With a Genetically Engineered Virus. BitMouseDAO has exactly two investors and almost no money, but they do have a wild idea.” Tweet—”…or we could just …NOT literally inscribe monetary value into the very genetics of living beings? Could we just… can we not? Can we for even just a fucking second put the brakes on this nightmare hellscape worst of all possible worlds capitalist SHIT?”
  • COVID-19 infections increase risk of heart conditions up to a year later. Cardiovascular care essential part of post-infection care.”
  • Tweet—”Covid is a group project, and we’re failing because certain members of our group aren’t doing the work.”
  • Cops on the Amir Locke Raid Were Already Facing a Lawsuit over Alleged ‘Hunting’ of BLM Protesters. Two of the officers who participated in the deadly raid had previously been sued over their alleged mistreatment of a Black Lives Matter protester following the murder of George Floyd.”—”The Minneapolis Police Department’s scandals are so numerous they’re starting to overlap.”
  • How White Nationalists Are Hijacking the Anti-Abortion Movement. The growing overlap between anti-abortion activism and far-right extremism has started to spill into the real world in high-profile ways.”
  • Man Arrested For Storming The Capitol While Out On Bail For Attempted Murder. HuffPost had previously identified Matthew Beddingfield by building off the work of citizen-sleuths who used facial recognition technology.”
  • What the January 6th Papers Reveal. The Supreme Court ruled to give the House Select Committee access to a trove of documents detailing election-negating strategies that Donald Trump and his advisers entertained—including a military seizure of voting machines—but he continues to peddle a counter-narrative in which he’s the victim.”—”Meanwhile, there is a fight against time; if the Democrats lose control of the House in the midterm elections, the Select Committee will in all likelihood be disbanded. As Thompson and his colleagues are trying to piece the story together, Trump and his helpers are trying to tear it up.”
  • Michael Flynn Is Still at War. The general tried to persuade Donald Trump to use the military to overturn the 2020 election. A year later, he and his followers are fighting the same battle by other means.”—”It is as if Flynn has managed to burrow his way from a Beltway graveyard into a subterranean afterlife, where he has been welcomed by a Trumpian demimonde that deified him at first sight.”
  • Gorsuch to headline GOP lineup of speakers at Federalist Society; media barred from his speech. Former vice president Mike Pence, Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis and a former top Trump aide also will address the organization that was a pipeline for Trump’s judicial choices.” Also “Critics say Ginni Thomas’s activism is a Supreme Court conflict. Under court rules, only her husband can decide if that’s true.
  • Tweet—”I spoke on the Morrison Government’s religious discrimination bill and the message we want to send to our kids. (1/2)”
  • Black Lawmakers Urge DOJ To Take ‘Aggressive’ Action Against Voter Restrictions. ‘The future of our democracy is at stake,’ Congressional Black Caucus members wrote in a letter to the Justice Department.”
  • Oh, ffs. Tear down the wall! “An endangered wolf went in search of a mate. The border wall blocked him. The travails of a Mexican gray wolf named Mr. Goodbar show the grave threat posed by the U.S.-Mexico border wall.”
  • Starbucks Fires Union Leaders In Memphis. The company says workers violated safety policies. The union is calling it retaliation.”—”Starbucks has fired several workers in Memphis, Tennessee, who were part of the growing unionization effort that’s spreading quickly through the coffee chain. The campaign, Starbucks Workers United, said Tuesday on Twitter that the company had canned ‘virtually the entire union leadership in Memphis,’ calling it a case of retaliation for their union support. The group said the total number of firings came to seven, or about a third of the workers at the store. ‘The arc of Starbucks’ union-busting is long, but it bends toward losing,’ the campaign wrote.”
  • When scientific conferences went online, diversity and inclusion soared. New data show that female attendance at virtual science and engineering meetings grew by as much as 253%, and gender queer scientist attendance jumped 700%.”
  • Netflix is hiring Condé Nast and Time Inc. journalists, building a ‘fandom engine’ to market its shows. What is Tudum? Netflix’s fan site that has hired a bevy of high-profile journalists as the streamer expands its marketing editorial operations.” Thread—”we’ve entered the era of astroturfed fandom and it makes my skin crawl.” “fandom, for all its inter-community problems, was once a naturally occurring outpouring of passion for something. now it’s just a marketing engine that’s courted and indulged by media companies, and it brings out the worst in creators and audiences.”
  • Zerstört geglaubtes Werk von Maler Heckel nach Jahrzehnten entdeckt. Ein zerstört geglaubtes Werk des Expressionisten Erich Heckel ist wiederentdeckt worden – und zwar auf der Rückseite eines seiner anderen Gemälde.” (Destroyed work by painter Heckel discovered after decades. A work by the expressionist Erich Heckel that was believed to have been destroyed has been rediscovered – on the back of one of his other paintings.)
  • An Artist Placed a Cube Made From $11.7 Million Worth of Gold in Central Park—Protected By Its Own Security Detail. The German artist Niclas Castello is, of course, launching a cryptocurrency alongside the physical work.” Tweet—”So what I’m hearing is: some asshole just dumped enough money to change a life into Central Park, one of few places you can enjoy yourself for FREE, where low income & unhoused people can see it, then put armed security around it to make sure they know it will never be for them.”
  • Villeneuve’s ‘Dune’: Blending Spectacle and Cultural Erasure“—”Of all the novel-to-film adaptations throughout the years, Dune might take the prize as the one approached with the greatest trepidation. There is something about Dune’s scope of — and appreciation for — ecology and history that just can’t seem to make its way to the screen. This is not to say that its depictions of humanity’s troubled past and the role humans can play on an interstellar level in the future are perfect — not to mention the novel’s issues with white saviorhood and gender — but its dream is a compelling one.”
  • Stop trying to be happy and consider these helpful alternatives. In the deepest moments of struggle, we place an unrelenting pressure on people to be happy, strong, and moving on no matter what the circumstances. This is toxic positivity.”
  • Trying to make other people happy makes us happier than trying to make ourselves happy“—”The secret to happiness may lie in doing things to make other people happy, rather than ourselves, according to a series of five studies published in the Journal of Positive Psychology. The findings suggest that doing things for others enhances well-being by fulfilling a psychological need for connection with others — even if that person is a stranger.”
  • Zendaya responds to criticism that ‘Euphoria’ glorifies teen drug use“—”Our show is in no way a moral tale to teach people how to live their life or what they should be doing,” Zendaya said. “If anything, the feeling behind Euphoria, or whatever we have always been trying to do with it, is to hopefully help people feel a little bit less alone in their experience and their pain. And maybe feel like they’re not the only one going through or dealing with what they’re dealing with.” Also Zendaya Counters Criticisms That Euphoria Glamorizes Drug Use and Addiction to Teens“—”Proving once again D.A.R.E doesn’t know how to reach the ‘teens’ they claim they want to save.”
  • Thread—”So @MattWalshBlog’s crew is trying to trick trans people into joining a fake documentary. His producers set up a whole front organization (@GenderUnityProj) and tried to recruit me into his next anti-trans documentary. Here’s the wild story of how it went down (1/x):”
  • A couple renovating a 115-year-old building discovered two 60-foot-long hidden murals“—”What started out as a couple’s renovation project to convert a historic building into a bar has turned into an effort to restore decades-old artwork in a small Washington town. Nick and Lisa Timm purchased the building in Okanogan, located about four hours east of Seattle, at the end of 2021. This past week, they discovered 60-foot murals painted on canvases along its north and south walls. ‘We were about 20 minutes from covering up the walls,’ Nick told CNN on Wednesday. ‘I then was like ‘Well, let’s just look at what’s behind all this plaster.” As the plaster peeled away, they discovered a giant mural — stretching 60 feet long and 20 feet high — depicting a lake, cabins and trees.” Eat your heart out McMenamins (or give ’em a call to help out).
  • Minecraft Player Spends Over 100 Hours Building Stunning Yggdrasil Tree. Minecraft has long been an outlet for creativity, and one player reveals the end result of a massive project to create Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life.”

Omnium Gatherum: 26jan2022

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for January 26, 2022.

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

  • 15 days left for “Humble Comics Bundle: Humanoids Megabundle Featuring The Incal“—”Sci-fi masterpieces & groundbreaking graphic fiction. Get transported to one of the most influential sci-fi dystopias of all time in this megabundle from Humanoids! Discover the groundbreaking The Incal series by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius, then explore the wildest reaches of the universe in the The Metabarons saga. Add Space Bastards and more acclaimed graphic fiction to your collection, all while supporting comic creators through the Hero Initiative! In case you missed them… The top two tiers of this megabundle include content from two past popular bundles from Humanoids: The Incal & More and Moebius & More.”
  • The World After Capital [Publisher, Creative Commons online, Local Library] by Albert Wenger—”Technological progress has shifted scarcity for humanity. When we were foragers, food was scarce. During the agrarian age, it was land. Following the industrial revolution, capital became scarce. With digital technologies scarcity is shifting once more. We need to figure out how to live in The World After Capital in which the only scarcity is our attention.”
  • Heat 2: A Novel [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner, due Aug 2022—”Michael Mann, four-time Oscar-nominated filmmaker and writer-director of Heat, Collateral, Thief, Manhunter, and Miami Vice, teams up with Edgar Award-winning author Meg Gardiner to deliver Mann’s first crime novel — an explosive return to the world and characters of his classic film Heat — an all-new story that illuminates what happened before and after the iconic film. Described by Michael Mann as both a prequel and sequel to the renowned, critically acclaimed film of the same name, HEAT 2 covers the formative years of homicide detective Vincent Hanna (Oscar winner Al Pacino) and elite criminals Neil McCauley (Oscar winner Robert De Niro), Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer), and Nate (Oscar winner Jon Voight), and features the same extraordinary ambition, scope, rich characterizations, and attention to detail as the epic film. This new story leads up to the events of the film and then moves beyond it, featuring new characters on both sides of the law, new high-line heists, and breathtakingly cinematic action sequences. Ranging from the streets of L.A. to the inner sancta of rival Taiwanese crime syndicates in Paraguay to a massive drug cartel money-laundering operation just over the border in Mexico, HEAT 2 illuminates the dangerous workings of international crime organizations and the agents who pursue them as it provides a full-blooded portrait of the men and women who inhabit both worlds. Operatic in scope, HEAT 2 is engrossing, moving, and tragic — a masterpiece of crime fiction from one of the most innovative and influential filmmakers in American cinema.”
  • wait, whut? I mean: Wait, whut?! Tweet—”my mind is fucking blown because I was going over proofs of one of my forthcoming pieces, & noted that ‘e.e. cummings’ should be lowercase. IT TURNS OUT: ‘per family correspondence with Cummings, our copy editor says he preferred his name to be capitalized’ (!!!!!!!)” Also tweet—”I am looking at my CMOS 17 and my mouth is hanging open”—”E. E. Cummings can be safely capitalized; it was one of his publishers, not he himself, who lowercased his name.”
  • Scientists break through major milestone in harnessing fusion energy. Process uses materials found in seawater to produce energy like a star.”—”Scientists have made a major stride towards turning fusion energy into a viable energy source. The research could allow for the creation of a whole new kind of sustainable energy source that in turn could revolutionise the way we power our world.”
  • A Mysterious ‘X Particle’ Could Help Explain the Birth of Reality. Scientists achieved breakthrough detections of an elusive particle from the dawn of time at the Large Hadron Collider.”—”These short-lived particles, which are called ‘X’ because their internal structure is unknown, existed in the chaotic microseconds after the Big Bang, when the universe was filled with a churning subatomic soup called quark-gluon plasma. They are, however, exceedingly rare in the modern universe, leaving many of their properties shrouded in mystery.”
  • Huge asteroid over twice size of Empire State Building caught in eerie footage making close approach to Earth. An asteroid more than twice the size of the Empire State Building made a nerve-shredding close approach to Earth on Tuesday this week.” (Last week, but you know …) Also “Don’t look up! Astronomer captures footage of huge 3,451ft asteroid as it makes its closest approach to Earth in almost 90 years. Footage of asteroid 7482 (1994 PC1) captured by Italy’s Virtual Telescope Project. The huge rocky body shows up as just a tiny white dot shooting among the stars. Asteroid 7482 (1994 PC1) was first discovered by Australian astronomers in 1994. It made a close approach of Earth on Tuesday, a day after the footage was taken.”
  • Monster black hole spotted ‘giving birth’ to stars. The Hubble telescope just spotted a 500-light-year-long ‘umbilical cord’ for baby stars.”
  • Saturn’s ‘Death Star’ moon might be hiding an underground ocean. Furthering the search for potential life in our solar system.”
  • Pig Kidneys Transplanted Into Brain-Dead Man as Patients Face Organ Shortages. First-of-its-kind surgery in Alabama is seen potentially leading to clinical trials of animal-to-human transplants.”
  • Along the coast of Brittany, a search for our prehistoric ancestors. The Carnac Alignments, set in place some 6,500 years ago, provide a rocky path to our Neolithic past.”
  • ‘If people want Stonehenge to be a UFO landing site, that’s fine’. Thought we’d never know who built that giant stone circle? Think again – as a new British Museum show transports us into their world.”
  • Tweet—”Absolutely extraordinary: a complete stretch of a 13th-century log road discovered in Berlin’s city centre. The state of preservation is astonishing!”
  • Microsoft’s $70 Billion Purchase Of Activision Was Inevitable.” Also “Microsoft’s Activision move proves the competition is no longer Sony, it’s something much bigger.” Also “Why Bobby Kotick Sold Activision To Microsoft, W/O His PR Spin.”
  • Antimicrobial resistance now a leading cause of death worldwide, study finds. Lancet analysis highlights need for urgent action to address antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.”—”Antimicrobial resistance poses a significant threat to humanity, health leaders have warned, as a study reveals it has become a leading cause of death worldwide and is killing about 3,500 people every day. More than 1.2 million – and potentially millions more – died in 2019 as a direct result of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, according to the most comprehensive estimate to date of the global impact of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The stark analysis covering more than 200 countries and territories was published in the Lancet. It says AMR is killing more people than HIV/Aids or malaria. Many hundreds of thousands of deaths are occurring due to common, previously treatable infections, the study says, because bacteria that cause them have become resistant to treatment.”
  • Red wine wards off coronavirus… but beer does not, according to new research. People drinking more than five glasses of red a week cut risk of catching Covid. Experts believe this revelation is due to the drink’s high polyphenol content. Beer and cider drinkers had near 28 per cent higher chance of contracting virus.”
  • What life is like for an 11-year-old. Avah Lamie, 11, says this is a stressful time to be a kid. Rates of anxiety and depression among children and youth were on the rise even before COVID, but the past two years have made things worse.”
  • Thread—”In year three of the pandemic, I see many people mourning not only death around us, but a loss of public trust in institutions, spread of misinformation, and governmental instability. For today, I want to talk about something else. I want to talk about cholera.” “Some of you may have heard much of this story before. But I want to talk about something rarely discussed in the conversation around cholera; cholera riots. In many places, it was obvious that more poor people were dying of cholera than rich people.” “Particularly in Europe, rumors spread. There were those who accused the government of creating the disease to rid their cities of the urban poor. There were outcries against this “Oriental” disease. The press often contributed, with op-eds spurring on these vitriolic claims.” “In 1830-1832, all hell broke loose. Violence rose against the rich, against the classed gentry, against doctors, against patients, against foreigners. In Russia, protestors specifically organized against measures taken to slow the spread of cholera.”
  • The next Covid variant will be more contagious than omicron, but the question is whether it will be more deadly, WHO says. WHO official Maria Van Kerkhove warned against theories that the virus will continue to mutate into milder strains that make people less sick than earlier variants. The virus will continue to evolve before it settles into a pattern, said Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO’s director of emergency programs. Pfizer and BioNTech on Tuesday started testing a Covid vaccine that specifically targets the omicron variant.”
  • The Anti-Vaccine Right Brought Human Sacrifice to America. Since last summer, the conservative campaign against vaccination has claimed thousands of lives for no ethically justifiable purpose.”—”large-scale human sacrifice can be a useful modern political tool for a party ideologically committed to extreme inequality. What might be the next public-health crisis they can exploit?”
  • Thread—”We’ve reached a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic (a really long thread). So many (even safe, rational) folks are leaning on a new motto- one I’m calling ‘endemic fatalism’. “We’re all going to get it,” is what I keep hearing. No doubt that Omicron has shifted the narrative.” “What is clear from even a cursory historical examination of the concept of endemicity is that there are cultural and political, and not always scientific reasons for labelling a disease endemic.” “at best welcoming COVID endemicity is a neoliberal apology for the failure of most gov’s ability to properly handle COVID-19 for the past two years. At its worst this view is a neodarwinian fatalism. We need to stand against both. This history matters.” “Framing a disease as either endemic or epidemic has always been about fitting a political and cultural agenda.”
  • At DC Rally, Anti-Vaxxers Claim the Legacy of Slavery and the Holocaust (Again and Again and Again). Attendees of the ‘Defeat the Mandates’ rally explained to Motherboard how they were like Black people during Jim Crow or Jews under Hitler.”—”A few hours later they would see Robert F. Kennedy Jr. unfavorably compare the conditions under which they are living to those faced by Jews living under the Nazis. ‘Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could cross the Alps to Switzerland,” Kennedy said in remarks his own wife called “reprehensible and insensitive.’ ‘You could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did.'”
  • Alleged Capitol Rioters Are Getting In Trouble For Guns And Other Violations After Going Home. A common theme popping up in violations among those on pretrial release has come from defendants who are reluctant to give up access to firearms.” Tweet—”It’s almost like they weren’t precious innocent babies led astray by Trump, but violent assholes the whole time.”
  • Trump campaign officials, led by Rudy Giuliani, oversaw fake electors plot in 7 states.” Also “Why Rudy Giuliani’s fake electors scheme was so dangerous to democracy.”
  • Is the Anti-Democracy Movement Reaching a Tipping Point in the US and Around the World? This debate about how humans should govern themselves is the real battle of our time, both metaphorically and literally, both internationally and right here at home.”
  • Voting rights fight shifts back to statehouses as Senate Democrats fail to advance national protections“—”‘If Congress cannot act because of a broken Senate, and federal courts refuse to protect voting rights, then states will have an open invitation to abuse the rights of their own people. It is folly to think that these laws in the states are as bad as it can get,’ said Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School.”
  • Thread—”It’s been a while, but for the masochists amongst you, here’s the return of #TheWeekInTory 1. The PM said he’d done nothing wrong, and had therefore apologised to the Queen for doing it 2. He claimed he hadn’t broken rules because nobody had told him the rules, which he wrote …”
  • ‘People Need to Know She Sucks’: Kyrsten Sinema’s Volunteers, Ex-Staff Are Fed Up. ‘I’m livid. I can only call her a turncoat,’ one former volunteer said. ‘I feel betrayed.'” Also tweet—”Thinking about the time when I worked on her 2012 campaign and she made me drive to a tv studio an hour and a half away to pick up a hairbrush she left there.” Also thread—”THREAD on Sinema: Sinema’s behavior has made no common sense to me. Surely she knows too that she would lose in the 2024 Democratic primary. Why would she do it? I have info from an inside source who lives in AZ and has a direct connection. With his permission am sharing. 1/” “To Sinema, as many of us suspected, her term in the U.S. Senate, she believes is just a stopping ground for her next step. She doesn’t assume she will need to be re-elected. This is something I imagined, but assumed she would be a consultant or something of that variety.” “Sinema believes she will be running to President in 2024 I am told. This self-styled bipartisanship she believes she speaks for, will be her brand to run as the candidate in the middle. Not far-left of far-right. She has convinced herself this is her calling and she has it.”
  • Tweet—”The story of America captured on a box of butter. They removed the Native — but they kept the land.”
  • An old Virginia plantation, a new owner and a family legacy unveiled. A man who purchased a plantation home in the rural Virginia community he grew up in later learned its original owners had enslaved his ancestors.”
  • Two men take corpse into Irish post office to claim dead man’s pension. Deceased man ‘propped up’ by two men as they walked into the building in County Carlow on Friday morning.”
  • Tweet—”what if i told you this is bad actually.” “it’s lovely that these kids stepped up. in no world should they have had to. it’s an absolute governmental failure.”
  • Kojak’s brand: “New York City’s 90-Year Old Famed Tobacco Shop to Shut Its Doors. As coronavirus pandemic emptied Midtown, most of store’s customer base also evaporated; ‘We are as authentic to New York as Hermès is to Paris’”
  • From the Crowley Corollary dept: Oh, wow. The depiction of the character they called “Aleister Crowley” in Pennyworth s01 is risibly off base and stupid, that’s not even to mention the fact that he’d have been at least 84 years old when the show takes place and he had already died decades earlier. Even for an alternate timeline, it’s just stupid. It was okay until about ½ through the first season, I guess. Things went down hill from there. I don’t think I can bring myself to watch s02.
  • Mars, Nestlé and Hershey to face child slavery lawsuit in US. Chocolate companies are among the defendants named in a lawsuit brought by former child workers in Ivory Coast.” And, just from last year, but sure, let’s retcon the M&M mascots
  • Wow, I hope they find some kind of a clue about what might possibly have happened so they can solve this one! “100+ Snakes Found in Maryland Home With Dead Man. When deputies arrived to a home in Pomfret, Maryland, they found a man unresponsive and a house full of snakes.” “Man found dead in Pomfret house containing more than 100 snakes“—”A man was found dead Wednesday night in Charles County in a house containing more than 100 snakes. According to the Charles County Sheriff’s Office, a man called authorities concerned for his 49-year-old neighbor who he saw lying on the floor unconscious. Deputies and EMS crews arrived at the house in the 5500 block of Raphael Drive in Pomfret, forced their way in and found the man dead. Detectives investigating the man’s death said there were no obvious signs of foul play. The man was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy. Authorities said there were more than 100 venomous and non-venomous snakes of different varieties in tanks inside the house.”
  • FREEDOM! “Robot vacuum cleaner escapes from Cambridge Travelodge. A robot vacuum cleaner made a break for freedom after giving staff the slip at a Travelodge hotel.”
  • RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! “Monkey on loose in Pennsylvania after crash on way to laboratory. Police advise people not to approach cynomolgus monkey believed to be on the loose near Danville after Friday crash.”
  • Two men hit by woman falling out of window… who was looking at another man who fell off rooftop. Luckily, everyone involved is expected to pull through.”
  • A Search Engine That Finds You Weird Old Books. To help ‘rewild your attention’ I built a book-finding app.”

Omnium Gatherum: 19jan2022

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for January 19, 2022.

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

  • Tweet—”btw if MLK and anne frank hadn’t been killed, they’d both be 93 today (younger than betty white). i think it’s important to see pictures of them in color as a reminder that ‘history’ was not very long ago.”
  • Nikole Hannah-Jones Gives ‘1619 Project’ Critics The MLK Tribute They Deserve. ‘The 1619 Project’ author read excerpts from King’s speeches without telling anyone that she was doing so, leading the audience to think King’s words were hers.” Thread—”I was invited to give an MLK speech today and a small number of members of the group hosting me wrote and then leaked emails opposing my giving this speech, as it dishonored Dr. King for me to do so. They called me a ‘discredited activist’ ‘unworthy of such association with King'” “Dr. King was a radical critic of racism, capitalism and militarism. He didn’t die. He was assassinated. And many, including Regan, fought the national holiday we’re not commemorating. If you haven’t read, in entirety, his speeches, you’ve been miseducated & I hope that you will.”
  • “Join Jim and Susie Malcolm’s Zoom concert. An audience with Robert Burns & his long-suffering wife Jean Armour. “Well Rabbie,” choked Jean, “this certainly Burns.” Songs and poems, chat, laughter, rousing choruses, haggis, whisky, Tam o’Shanter, slideshows, a special film & a little dressing up. Sunday January 23 @ 4pm PT; 5pm MT; 6pm CT; 7pm ET & Tuesday January 25 @ 5pm PT; 6pm MT; 7pm CT; 8pm ET. Suggested donation $15 per person. To receive Zoom and donation links please register by email to [email protected]
  • Books and Reading Are Two Different Hobbies“—”I love books. Some might even say I’m obsessed with them. … My life is built on a foundation of books. But reading? Mm…I could take it or leave it. This is a ridiculous statement, I know. And I do like reading! In theory. I do read, of course. I read about 100 books a year, which I know is a big number by normal standards. But I read because I make myself read. When I’m doing it, I enjoy it. My life is better when I’m reading regularly. But I don’t naturally pick up a book when I want to entertain myself. I watch YouTube or baking reality shows. Reading often feels like a chore.”
  • Stories vs Ideas:Finding Something Deeply Personal in the Philosophical Novel. David Hollander on Fiction as an Alternative to Silence.”
  • Watch “Da Vinci Code: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (Web Exclusive)“—”John Oliver discusses The Da Vinci Code: the book, the film, and, for some reason, the cultural phenomenon.”
  • Illuminations: Stories [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Alan Moore, due October, 2022—”From the unparalleled imagination of New York Times bestseller Alan Moore, author of Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and other modern classics, nine stories full of wonder and strangeness, which take us to the fantastical underside of reality. In his first-ever short story collection, which spans forty years of work and features many never-before-published pieces, Alan Moore presents a series of wildly different and equally unforgettable characters who discover–and in some cases even make and unmake–the various uncharted parts of existence. In ‘A Hypothetical Lizard,’ two concubines in a brothel for sorcerers fall in love with tragic ramifications. In ‘Not Even Legend,’ a paranormal study group is infiltrated by one of the otherworldly beings they seek to investigate. In ‘Illuminations,’ a nostalgic older man decides to visit a seaside resort from his youth and finds the past all too close at hand. And in the monumental novella ‘What We Can Know About Thunderman,’ which charts the surreal and Kafkaesque history of the comics industry over the last seventy-five years through several sometimes-naive and sometimes-maniacal people rising and falling on its career ladders, Moore reveals the dark, beating heart of the superhero business. From ghosts and otherworldly creatures to the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and theoretical Boltzmann brains fashioning the universe at the big bang, Illuminations is exactly that–a series of bright, startling tales from a contemporary legend that reveal the full power of imagination and magic.”
  • Reading the Arabian Nights, Thu. Jan 20, 2022 7:00pm – 8:00pm EST, Writers, translators, and artists celebrate the most famous story collection of all time. Featuring: Yasmine Seale, Paulo Lemos Horta, S. A. Chakraborty, Elias Muhanna, Marjan Neshat. A cornerstone of world literature and a monument to the power of storytelling, the Arabian Nights has inspired countless authors, from Charles Dickens and Edgar Allen Poe to Naguib Mahfouz, Clarice Lispector, and Angela Carter. In their extensive new collection, The Annotated Arabian Nights, literary historian Paulo Lemos Horta and poet and translator Yasmine Seale present a fresh selection of tales from the Nights. Featuring treasured original stories as well as later additions including ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,’ the collection definitively brings the Nights out of Victorian antiquarianism and into the 21st century. This program will be streamed on the NYPL event page.” About The Annotated Arabian Nights: Tales from 1001 Nights [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] ed. & introduction Paulo Lemos Horta, trans.Yasmine Seale (Translator), Robert Irwin (Afterword), Omar El Akkad (Foreword)—”A magnificent and richly illustrated volume―with a groundbreaking translation framed by new commentary and hundreds of images―of the most famous story collection of all time. A cornerstone of world literature and a monument to the power of storytelling, the Arabian Nights has inspired countless authors, from Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe to Naguib Mahfouz, Clarice Lispector, and Angela Carter. Now, in this lavishly designed and illustrated edition of The Annotated Arabian Nights, the acclaimed literary historian Paulo Lemos Horta and the brilliant poet and translator Yasmine Seale present a splendid new selection of tales from the Nights, featuring treasured original stories as well as later additions including ‘Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp’ and ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,’ and definitively bringing the Nights out of Victorian antiquarianism and into the twenty-first century. For centuries, readers have been haunted by the homicidal King Shahriyar, thrilled by gripping tales of Sinbad’s seafaring adventures, and held utterly, exquisitely captive by Shahrazad’s stories of passionate romances and otherworldly escapades. Yet for too long, the English-speaking world has relied on dated translations by Richard Burton, Edward Lane, and other nineteenth-century adventurers. Seale’s distinctly contemporary and lyrical translations break decisively with this masculine dynasty, finally stripping away the deliberate exoticism of Orientalist renderings while reclaiming the vitality and delight of the stories, as she works with equal skill in both Arabic and French. Included within are famous tales, from ‘The Story of Sinbad the Sailor’ to ‘The Story of the Fisherman and the Jinni,’ as well as lesser-known stories such as ‘The Story of Dalila the Crafty,’ in which the cunning heroine takes readers into the everyday life of merchants and shopkeepers in a crowded metropolis, and ‘The Story of the Merchant and the Jinni,’ an example of a ransom frame tale in which stories are exchanged to save a life. Grounded in the latest scholarship, The Annotated Arabian Nights also incorporates the Hanna Diyab stories, for centuries seen as French forgeries but now acknowledged, largely as a result of Horta’s pathbreaking research, as being firmly rooted in the Arabic narrative tradition. Horta not only takes us into the astonishing twists and turns of the stories’ evolution. He also offers comprehensive notes on just about everything readers need to know to appreciate the tales in context, and guides us through the origins of ghouls, jinn, and other supernatural elements that have always drawn in and delighted readers. Beautifully illustrated throughout with art from Europe and the Arab and Persian world, the latter often ignored in English-language editions, The Annotated Arabian Nights expands the visual dimensions of the stories, revealing how the Nights have always been―and still are―in dialogue with fine artists. With a poignant autobiographical foreword from best-selling novelist Omar El Akkad and an illuminating afterword on the Middle Eastern roots of Hanna Diyab’s tales from noted scholar Robert Irwin, Horta and Seale have created a stunning edition of the Arabian Nights that will enchant and inform both devoted and novice readers alike.”
  • Revenge of the Librarians [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Tom Gauld, due October 2022—”Confront the spectre of failure, the wraith of social media, and other supernatural enemies of the author. Tom Gauld returns with his wittiest and most trenchant collection of literary cartoons to date. Perfectly composed drawings are punctuated with the artist’s signature brand of humour, hitting high and low. After all, Gauld is just as comfortable taking jabs at Jane Eyre and Game of Thrones. Some particularly favoured targets include the pretentious procrastinating novelist, the commercial mercenary of the dispassionate editor, the willful obscurantism of the vainglorious poet. Quake in the presence of the stack of bedside books as it grows taller! Gnash your teeth at the ever-moving deadline that the writer never meets! Quail before the critic’s incisive dissection of the manuscript! And most importantly, seethe with envy at the paragon of creative productivity! Revenge of the Librarians contains even more murders, drubbings, and castigations than The Department of Mind-Blowing Theories, Baking For Kafka, or any other collections of mordant scribblings by the inimitably excellent Gauld.”
  • Should You Believe Wikipedia? Online Communities and the Construction of Knowledge [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Amy S Bruckman—”As we interact online we are creating new kinds of knowledge and community. How are these communities formed? How do we know whether to trust them as sources of information? In other words, Should we believe Wikipedia? This book explores what community is, what knowledge is, how the internet facilitates new kinds of community, and how knowledge is shaped through online collaboration and conversation. Along the way the author tackles issues such as how we represent ourselves online and how this shapes how we interact, why there is so much bad behavior online and what we can do about it. And the most important question of all: What can we as internet users and designers do to help the internet to bring out the best in us all?”
  • The Revolution That Wasn’t: GameStop, Reddit, and the Fleecing of Small Investors [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Spencer Jakab—”From Wall Street Journal columnist Spencer Jakab, the real story of the GameStop squeeze–and the surprising winners of a rigged game. During one crazy week in January 2021, a motley crew of retail traders on Reddit’s r/wallstreetbets forum had seemingly done the impossible–they had brought some of the biggest, richest players on Wall Street to their knees. Their weapon was GameStop, a failing retailer whose shares briefly became the most-traded security on the planet and the subject of intense media coverage. The Revolution That Wasn’t is the riveting story of how the meme stock squeeze unfolded, and of the real architects (and winners) of the GameStop rally. Drawing on his years as a stock analyst at a major bank, Jakab exposes technological and financial innovations such as Robinhood’s habit-forming smartphone app as ploys to get our dollars within the larger story of evolving social and economic pressures. The surprising truth? What appeared to be a watershed moment–a revolution that stripped the ultra-powerful hedge funds of their market influence, placing power back in the hands of everyday investors–only tilted the odds further in the house’s favor. Online brokerages love to talk about empowerment and “democratizing finance” while profiting from the mistakes and volatility created by novice investors. In this nuanced analysis, Jakab shines a light on the often-misunderstood profit motives and financial mechanisms to show how this so-called revolution is, on balance, a bonanza for Wall Street. But, Jakab argues, there really is a way for ordinary investors to beat the pros: by refusing to play their game.”
  • Event Horizon: Sexuality, Politics, Online Culture, and the Limits of Capitalism [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Bonni Rambatan and Jacob Johanssen—”In an age where Silicon Valley dictates what it means to innovate a painless future, knowledge and enjoyment are fertile breeding grounds of political contestation. But it’s not exactly democracy. We are controlled through platforms that turn us into data for the profit of billionaires. Control has become so playful that we carry it in our pockets, as we continue to crave likes and followers. What is to be done? Should the Left continue to cling to the promise of a political Event, patiently waiting for a revolutionary rupture where new possibilities emerge? Is there a way to delineate its horizons amidst the chaos? Through a psychoanalytic interrogation of the intersections of online culture, sexuality, and politics, Bonni Rambatan and Jacob Johanssen explore such horizons at the limits of capitalism. Event Horizon examines how capitalist ideology functions in our current moment, and, more importantly, how it breaks down. With the increasing urgency of formulating a proper Leftist response to the rapidly growing violence that seriously threatens the lives of marginalised communities, this book could not be more timely.”
  • ‘There’s Not Just One Type of Porn’: Erika Lust’s Alternative Vision. The Swedish moviemaker thinks pornography can create a society that sees sexuality as myriad and joyful, and where women’s pleasure matters.”—”[Srinivasan] argues that, ‘While filmed sex seemingly opens up a world of sexual possibility, all too often it shuts down the sexual imagination, making it weak, dependent, lazy, codified. The sexual imagination is transformed into a mimesis-machine, incapable of generating its own novelty.’ (Srinivasan declined to be interviewed for this article.) Although in her book she argues against censoring explicit material — a move that often unfairly targets women and sexual minorities, she writes — the Oxford University academic advises young people to lay off porn if they want their sex lives to be “more joyful, more equal, freer. ‘Perhaps then the sexual imagination could be coaxed, even briefly, to recall its lost power,’ Srinivasan writes.” In part about The Right to Sex: Feminism in the Twenty-First Century [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Amia Srinivasan—”Thrilling, sharp, and deeply humane, philosopher Amia Srinivasan’s The Right to Sex: Feminism in the Twenty-First Century upends the way we discuss—or avoid discussing—the problems and politics of sex. How should we think about sex? It is a thing we have and also a thing we do; a supposedly private act laden with public meaning; a personal preference shaped by outside forces; a place where pleasure and ethics can pull wildly apart. How should we talk about sex? Since #MeToo many have fixed on consent as the key framework for achieving sexual justice. Yet consent is a blunt tool. To grasp sex in all its complexity—its deep ambivalences, its relationship to gender, class, race and power—we need to move beyond yes and no, wanted and unwanted. We do not know the future of sex—but perhaps we could imagine it. Amia Srinivasan’s stunning debut helps us do just that. She traces the meaning of sex in our world, animated by the hope of a different world. She reaches back into an older feminist tradition that was unafraid to think of sex as a political phenomenon. She discusses a range of fraught relationships—between discrimination and preference, pornography and freedom, rape and racial injustice, punishment and accountability, students and teachers, pleasure and power, capitalism and liberation. The Right to Sex: Feminism in the Twenty-First Century is a provocation and a promise, transforming many of our most urgent political debates and asking what it might mean to be free.”
  • The TV Show ‘Roseanne’ Was Based On My Family. The Off-Screen Reality Was Very Different. ‘They were lightweight, PG versions of us with no complicated backstories. Must be nice.'” About This Will Be Funny Later: A Memoir [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Jenny Pentland—”A funny, biting, and entertaining memoir of coming of age in the shadow of celebrity and finding your own way in the face of absolute chaos that is both a moving portrait of a complicated family and an exploration of the cost of fame. Growing up, Jenny Pentland’s life was a literal sitcom. Many of the storylines for her mother’s smash hit series, Roseanne, were drawn from Pentland’s early family life in working-class Denver. But that was only the beginning of the drama. Roseanne Barr’s success as a comedian catapulted the family from the Rockies to star-studded Hollywood—with its toxic culture of money, celebrity, and prying tabloids that was destabilizing for a child in grade school. By adolescence, Jenny struggled with anxiety and eating issues. Her parents and new stepfather, struggling to help, responded by sending Jenny and her siblings on a grand tour of the self-help movement of the ’80s—from fat camps to brat camps, wilderness survival programs to drug rehab clinics (even though Jenny didn’t take drugs). Becoming an adult, all Jenny wanted was to get married and have kids, despite Roseanne’s admonishments not to limit herself to being just a wife and mother. In this scathingly funny and moving memoir, Pentland reveals what it’s like to grow up as the daughter of a television star and how she navigated the turmoil, eventually finding her own path. Now happily married and raising five sons on a farm, Pentland has worked tirelessly to create the stable family she never had, while coming to terms at last with her deep-seated anxiety. This Will Be Funny Later is a darkly funny and frank chronicle of transition, from childhood to adulthood and motherhood—one woman’s journey to define herself and create the life she always wanted. ”
  • After the Revolution: A Novel [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Robert Evans, due May 2022—”Preorder now and you’ll also receive a custom bookplate autographed by author Robert Evans, while supplies last. We’ll ship the book and bookplate together when the book is available in early May.” “What will the fracturing of the United States look like? After the Revolution is an edge-of-your-seat answer to that question. In the year 2070, twenty years after a civil war and societal collapse of the “old” United States, extremist militias battle in the crumbling Republic of Texas. As the violence spreads like wildfire and threatens the Free City of Austin, three unlikely allies will have to work together in an act of resistance to stop the advance of the forces of the white Christian ethnostate known as the ‘Heavenly Kingdom.’ Our three protagonists include Manny, a fixer that shuttles journalists in and out of war zones and provides footage for outside news agencies. Sasha is a teenage woman that joins the Heavenly Kingdom before she discovers the ugly truths behind their movement. Finally, we have Roland: A US Army vet kitted out with cyberware (including blood that heals major trauma wounds and a brain that can handle enough LSD to kill an elephant), tormented by broken memories, and 12,000 career kills under his belt. In the not-so-distant world Evans conjures we find advanced technology, a gender expansive culture, and a roving Burning Man-like city fueled by hedonistic excess. This powerful debut novel from Robert Evans is based on his investigative reporting from international conflict zones and on increasingly polarized domestic struggles. It is a vision of our very possible future.”
  • Watch “‘Plants FIGHT one another, plants STRANGLE one another!’ 😲 The Green Planet 🌱 BBC.”
  • New Study Sheds Light on Origins of Life on Earth“—”Addressing one of the most profoundly unanswered questions in biology, a Rutgers-led team has discovered the structures of proteins that may be responsible for the origins of life in the primordial soup of ancient Earth.”
  • Early Homo Sapiens Found in Ethiopia Is Older Than Had Been Thought. New analysis based on ash from volcanic cataclysm dates an early human found at Omo, Ethiopia, to 233,000 years, supporting the ‘early evolution’ theory for Homo sapiens.”
  • Treasure trove of ancient Roman discoveries unearthed in Europe“—”Construction of the future HS2 high-speed railway line in England unveiled the remains of a large Roman trading settlement that dates back to 50 AD. Some of the recovered items include jewelry, pottery and a rare and “exquisite” wooden figure.”
  • Scientists looking at the first pregnant Egyptian mummy think they figured out why none were ever found before. Scientists who examined a pregnant mummy explained why they think no others had been found. It might have to do with a chemical reaction that dissolves the bones of unborn children.”
  • Watch “Egypt’s ‘most exciting’ archaeological discovery in decades – BBC REEL“—”The discovery of a 3,000-year-old city that was lost to the sands of Egypt has been hailed as one of the most important archaeological finds in recent Egyptology. Uncovered in 2020, this ancient Egyptian settlement, known as Aten, has left experts amazed at the preservation of buildings and artefacts. Egyptologists hope further investigation will answer important questions about life during the reign of one of Egypt’s most powerful pharaohs, Amenhotep III.”
  • Watch “The Ancient Pictish Caves Hidden In Fife | Time Team | Odyssey”—”Wemyss Caves, on the shore of the Firth of Forth, have been a famous landmark for centuries. Legend has it that they were occupied by the mysterious Pictish people who scared the Romans into building Hadrian’s Wall; subsequently, they were home to medieval Christian hermits and later to Jacobean nobles. Now the caves are under serious threat from erosion; the sea is already lapping at the cliff just below the cave line. But Wemyss Caves have never been properly investigated. How did the enigmatic Pictish carvings on the cave wall get there? And did Picts really live in the caves or were they just passing by? Is there any evidence of hermits or other types of medieval occupation? In an intensive three days, Time Team come up with some remarkable answers, beginning the task of re-writing the history of this atmospheric site.”
  • Watch “Dinosaur footprints found on beach in Wales may be 200 million years old, researchers say“—”Researchers say they have made a rare discovery along a beach in Wales — 200-million-year-old dinosaur footprints that show the area may have been a ‘trample ground’ for large sauropods.”
  • Rare blanket octopus spotted in ‘once in a lifetime’ encounter off Australian coast“—”A marine biologist had a “once in a lifetime” encounter with the rare and stunning blanket octopus off the coast of Australia this month. Jacinta Shackleton, a videographer and photographer, has been capturing wildlife in Great Barrier Reef for the past three years as a content creator for Queensland’s Tourism and Events. On Jan. 6, Shackleton posted on Instagram that she had spotted the elusive octopus while snorkeling near Lady Elliot Island. ‘When I first saw it, I thought it could have been a juvenile fish with long fins, but as it came closer, I realized it was a female blanket octopus and I had this overwhelming sense of joy and excitement,’ Shackleton told The Guardian. ‘I kept yelling through my snorkel, ‘It’s a blanket octopus!’ I was so excited I was finding it difficult to hold my breath to dive down and video it.'”
  • Scientists discover earliest man-made hybrid animal. Scientists used DNA sequencing to discovery the animal was half donkey and half Syrian wild ass. A team of researchers recently discovered the kunga as the earliest example of human animal hybrid breeding. The animal was a cross between a female donkey and a male Syrian wild ass and was used to pull war chariots, transport royalty and help with agricultural work. Kungas held a high status in ancient Mesopotamia for about 500 years until horses were introduced to the area 4,000 years ago.”
  • Watch “How Our Deadliest Parasite Turned To The Dark Side“—”Around 10,000 years ago, somewhere in Africa, a microscopic parasite made a huge leap. With a little help from a mosquito, it left its animal host – probably a gorilla – and found its way to a new host: us.”
  • First melanoma test to offer reassurance of low risk of cancer spread. A pioneering test which reliably predicts the spread or return of the most deadly form of skin cancer has been developed by a team of Newcastle scientists and clinicians.”
  • Study: Being in space destroys more red blood cells. A world-first study has revealed how space travel can cause lower red blood cell counts, known as space anemia. Analysis of 14 astronauts showed their bodies destroyed 54 percent more red blood cells in space than they normally would on Earth, according to a study published in Nature Medicine.”
  • Palomar Survey Instrument Analyzes Impact of Starlink Satellites. A study of archival images from Zwicky Transient Facility shows an increase in satellite streaks.”—”‘In 2019, 0.5 percent of twilight images were affected, and now almost 20 percent are affected,’ says Przemek Mróz, study lead author and a former Caltech postdoctoral scholar who is now at the University of Warsaw in Poland. In the future, the scientists expect that nearly all of the ZTF images taken during twilight will contain at least one streak, especially after the Starlink constellation reaches 10,000 satellites, a goal SpaceX hopes to reach by 2027.”
  • ‘It’s Not Just a Pretty Picture.’ How the James Webb Space Telescope Will Create Images of the Ancient Universe.”—”With the recent launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), astronomers will be able to peer into hidden regions of space. JWST is engineered to detect light outside of the visible range, producing images of the faintest and most distant objects. But this presents its own challenges: How do you represent what the human eye can’t see? How do you turn several snapshots into a cohesive photo? As we anticipate the release of JWST’s first images this summer, Inverse spoke with Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics and the Chandra X-ray Center who has worked extensively on the Chandra X-ray Observatory mission.”
  • NASA’s Spitzer Illuminates Exoplanets in Astronomical Society Briefing. The infrared observatory may help answer questions about planets outside our solar system, or exoplanets, including how they form and what drives weather in their atmospheres.”—”Two new studies using data from NASA’s retired Spitzer Space Telescope shed light on giant exoplanets and brown dwarfs, objects that aren’t quite stars but aren’t quite planets either. Both studies will be the focus of virtual news conferences hosted by the American Astronomical Society on Jan. 13.”
  • Two black holes merged to form a huge one moving at incredible speeds. Astronomers have long suspected that merging black holes can give the resulting larger black hole a massive boost of speed, and have finally spotted this happening.”
  • Strange and hidden Jupiter-size exoplanet spotted by astronomers and citizen scientists. If orbital calculations are right, they’ll see the planet again in February.”
  • Scientists think they’ve found a big, weird moon in a far-off star system“—”The hunt for moons outside our solar system has just turned up another possible lunar world, a moon bigger than Earth that’s orbiting a Jupiter-like planet. The planet and its moon — if it really is a moon — orbit a Sun-like star that’s over 5,000 light years away, according to a report in the journal Nature Astronomy. ‘The moon is pretty alien compared to any moon in the solar system,’ says David Kipping, an astronomer at Columbia University. ‘We’re not sure if it’s rocky, we’re not sure if it’s gaseous. It’s kind of in between the size of Neptune, which is gaseous, and the Earth, which is rocky.’ This isn’t the first time astronomers have spotted something that might be a moon in another planetary system, which is sometimes called an exomoon. In fact, Kipping and his colleagues announced a few years ago that they’d detected something moon-like orbiting a different planet. That discovery has yet to be confirmed with additional telescope observations, and some astronomers are skeptical that it will hold up to more scrutiny.”
  • Study nixes Mars life in meteorite found in Antarctica. Scientists have concluded that a meteorite from Mars contains no evidence of ancient Martian life.”—”A 4 billion-year-old meteorite from Mars that caused a splash here on Earth decades ago contains no evidence of ancient, primitive Martian life after all, scientists reported Thursday. In 1996, a NASA-led team announced that organic compounds in the rock appeared to have been left by living creatures. Other scientists were skeptical and researchers chipped away at that premise over the decades, most recently by a team led by the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Andrew Steele.”
  • NASA’s Curiosity Rover Measures Intriguing Carbon Signature on Mars“—”After analyzing powdered rock samples collected from the surface of Mars by NASA’s Curiosity rover, scientists today announced that several of the samples are rich in a type of carbon that on Earth is associated with biological processes. While the finding is intriguing, it doesn’t necessarily point to ancient life on Mars, as scientists have not yet found conclusive supporting evidence of ancient or current biology there, such as sedimentary rock formations produced by ancient bacteria, or a diversity of complex organic molecules formed by life.”
  • Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) Creates Largest 3D Map of the Cosmos. DESI has already mapped out more galaxies than all previous 3D surveys combined — and it’s just getting started.”
  • Earth’s interior is cooling faster than expected. Researchers at ETH Zurich have demonstrated in the lab how well a mineral common at the boundary between the Earth’s core and mantle conducts heat. This leads them to suspect that the Earth’s heat may dissipate sooner than previously thought.”
  • World’s largest fish breeding area discovered in Antarctica. Researchers detect around 60 million nests of Antarctic icefish over a 240 square kilometres area in the Weddell Sea. Near the Filchner Ice Shelf in the south of the Antarctic Weddell Sea, a research team has found the world’s largest fish breeding area known to date. A towed camera system photographed and filmed thousands of nests of icefish of the species Neopagetopsis ionah on the seabed. The density of the nests and the size of the entire breeding area suggest a total number of about 60 million icefish breeding at the time of observation. These findings provide support for the establishment of a Marine Protected Area in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean. A team led by Autun Purser from the Alfred Wegener Institute publish their results in the current issue of the scientific journal Current Biology.”
  • Earth is running low on wildlife. Plants will be next. Many plants need to migrate to survive climate change, but they’re losing their animal rides.”
  • Safe planetary boundary for pollutants, including plastics, exceeded, say researchers. There has been a 50-fold increase in the production of chemicals since 1950. This is projected to triple again by 2050. First assessment published of planetary boundary related to “novel entities” (synthetic chemicals including plastics). Researchers conclude planetary boundary has now been exceeded, raising the risks to the stability of the Earth system. Better risk management and monitoring and reduction in harmful production and release of pollutants needed urgently to return within the planetary boundary.”
  • Watch “Venice’s low tides reveal ancient wonders, offer look into the future“—”Founded over 1,000 years ago, Venice, Italy is a treasure trove of history. But some of it has yet to come to the surface. Chris Livesay has the details on how the low tide in the Venetian Lagoon can reveal wonders of the past, even as rising waters threaten the city’s future.” The presenter’s comments are pretty lame and insipid, but some interesting stuff, and the point that “it’s more than history that is disappearing” and “an ecosystem, a landscape, and a way of life, each in its twilight”.
  • Decarbonisation tech instantly converts CO2 to solid carbon. Researchers have developed a smart and super-efficient new way of capturing carbon dioxide and converting it to solid carbon, to help advance the decarbonisation of heavy industries.”
  • 1,000-cycle lithium-sulfur battery could quintuple electric vehicle ranges“—”A new biologically inspired battery membrane has enabled a battery with five times the capacity of the industry-standard lithium ion design to run for the thousand-plus cycles needed to power an electric car. A network of aramid nanofibers, recycled from Kevlar, can enable lithium-sulfur batteries to overcome their Achilles heel of cycle life—the number of times it can be charged and discharged—a University of Michigan team has shown.”
  • Superabsorption unlocks key to next generation quantum batteries“—”Researchers at the University of Adelaide and their overseas partners have taken a key step in making quantum batteries a reality. They have successfully proved the concept of superabsorption, a crucial idea underpinning quantum batteries. ‘Quantum batteries, which use quantum mechanical principles to enhance their capabilities, require less charging time the bigger they get,’ said Dr James Q. Quach, who is a Ramsay Fellow in the School of Physical Sciences and the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS), at the University of Adelaide. ‘It is theoretically possible that the charging power of quantum batteries increases faster than the size of the battery which could allow new ways to speed charging.'”
  • ‘Fitbit for the face’ can turn any face mask into smart monitoring device. FaceBit can monitor wearer’s health, sense heart beat through the face.”
  • Meta is looking into eye-tracking and product placement to make money in the metaverse. Recently granted patents show how the company wants to track biometric data and customize ads.” Also “Facebook patents reveal how it intends to cash in on metaverse. Meta hopes to use tiny human expressions to create virtual world of personalised ads.”—”Research shows that eye gaze direction and pupil activity may implicitly contain information about a user’s interests and emotional state, for example, if a user’s eyes linger over an image, this may indicate they like it.” “Brittan Heller, a technology lawyer at Foley Hoag, said: ‘My nightmare scenario is that targeted advertising based on our involuntary biological reactions to stimuli is going to start showing up in the metaverse . . . most people don’t realise how valuable that could be. Right now there are no legal constraints on that.’” Also “Facebook Patent Shows How You May Be Exploited in the Metaverse.”
  • Meta’s VR division is reportedly under investigation by the FTC. Meta’s VR division is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, Bloomberg reports. Sources told Bloomberg the FTC has been speaking to third-party Oculus developers. Meta is already subject to intense antitrust scrutiny by the FTC.”
  • Watch “Norton Crypto. It’s EVEN WORSE than you think….“—”Norton has made an Ethereum mining pool that comes with Norton 360… is it any good? Is it a scam? Let’s find out!”
  • From the Disney buys Fox dept: “Xbox To Buy Activision Blizzard. Xbox will own Call of Duty, Warcraft, Overwatch, and much more.” I mean, I suppose that’s one way to get out of all the troubles they’re having, but I bet that screws the effort to unionize.
  • Hasbro Taps Wizards of the Coast Division Chief Chris Cocks as CEO. Incoming toy company chief and former Microsoft executive to serve as permanent replacement after Brian Goldner died in October.”
  • This is what the dumbasses trying to collectively buy a copy of the constitution are up to lately: “Crypto Losers Buy Copy Of Jodorowsky’s Dune, Have Played Themselves. Buying the book does not give you the rights to what’s in the book.”—”This is the part where I tell you that Spice DAO is a crypto hustle (there were shenanigans going on with the auction itself that you can read more about on Buzzfeed), using preservation of the book as a lovely excuse for selling $SPICE tokens to people whose only return—aside from the speculative-driven ‘value’ of the token itself—will be a chance to vote on what actually happens with the book. Which won’t be much, because they can’t sell everyone on making it public because it already is; the book was scanned and photographed in 2021 and is available for everyone to read and enjoy right now, without the need to spend millions at auction or contribute to a crypto scam. And the ‘original animated series’ pitch is even dumber, because if it’s too close to Herbert’s story and/or Jodorowsky’s vision they’ll be shut down by lawyers (since they bought a copy of a book, not the rights to the project), and if it’s only loosely based on it then why did they need to buy the book? Leaving the team with…a copy of the book. Good luck voting on who gets to keep it at their house on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays guys.” Also tweet—”I have genuinely spent 10 minutes starting at this but, no, it really DOES appear to be true that a bunch of cryptobros just spent €2.6 MILLION – 100x the asking price – for a book at auction in the mistaken belief that they would therefore own the copyright in it.”
  • Loss of Faith and Decrease in Trust in a Higher Source During COVID-19 in Germany“—”Many people relied on their faith as one resource in order to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Germany, between the eighteen months from June 2020 to November 2021, different participants at different times were assessed during different phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. The total sample of this continuous cross-sectional survey consisted of 4,693 participants. Analyses revealed that with the 2nd wave of the infection and its 2nd lockdown, trust in a Higher Source, along with praying and meditation decreased. Also, the sharp increase in corona-related stressors was associated with a decline of wellbeing and a continuing loss of faith. These developments were observed in both Catholics and Protestants, and in both younger and older persons. In addition, the long phases of insecurity and social isolation lacking the significant support usually given by religious communities may have likewise challenged the religious-coping capacities of religious/spiritual people themselves.”
  • Placebo Effect Accounts for More Than Two-Thirds of COVID-19 Vaccine Adverse Events, Researchers Find. One-Third of Clinical Trial Participants Who Received No Vaccine Reported Systemic Adverse Advents Like Headache and Fatigue.”
  • Wealth of 10 richest men doubled in pandemic as 99% of incomes dropped: Oxfam. While 99% of the globe’s income fell, billionaires ‘had a terrific pandemic.'”
  • Detainees Sue Arkansas Jail That Gave Them Ivermectin to Treat Covid. For months, the jail’s doctor has promoted the drug, which health experts say should not be used to treat or prevent Covid-19.”
  • What causes long COVID symptoms? Clues from under the microscope. A team from UNSW’s Kirby Institute and St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney have uncovered an immune profile for long COVID, potentially paving the way for tailored treatment for those with ongoing symptoms.”
  • UCLA-led team refines ‘kick and kill’ strategy aimed at eliminating HIV-infected cells. Study in mice could point toward method for clearing virus from people who would otherwise depend on medication.”
  • Epstein-Barr virus may be leading cause of multiple sclerosis“—”Multiple sclerosis (MS), a progressive disease that affects 2.8 million people worldwide and for which there is no definitive cure, is likely caused by infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), according to a study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers.”
  • Is this Springfield, Missouri, or ‘Parks and Rec?’ Debate over new flag creates stir online.”—”Since Springfield adopted a new city flag earlier this week, speculation has run rampant online debating whether it was approved during a city council meeting or an episode of NBC’s ‘Parks and Recreation.’ The comparison comes as a viral online compilation of comments made at a Monday evening Springfield City Council meeting reveals some believe the new flag might represent the head of Baphomet, part of a Masonic conspiracy or is akin to banners flying the swastika.” “Many social media users said residents were reading too much into the symbolism of the new flag. ‘Who knew the new flag for Springfield was really a cleverly disguised Rorschach test?’ wrote one user.”
  • Illinois School District Defends ‘After-School Satan Club’ For Elementary Kids. The district says it cannot ‘discriminate against different religious viewpoints.'”—”An Illinois school district is defending an elementary school hosting a “Satan club” after the strange extracurricular activity prompted outrage from parents. The ‘After School Satan Club’ is sponsored by the Satanic Temple of the United States, which says the clubs are a response to the Christian Good News Clubs at public schools across the country.” “‘Since we have allowed religious entities to rent our facilities after school hours, we are not permitted to discriminate against different religious viewpoints,’ Savage explained, adding that to illegally deny the Satanic Temple ‘subjects the district to a discrimination lawsuit, which we will not win.'”
  • Capitol rioters called Nancy Pelosi’s office looking for a ‘lost and found’ for items they left behind on January 6, according to Rep. Jamie Raskin“—”Rioters were calling ‘asking whether there was a lost and found because they forgot their phone there, or they left their purse or what have you,’ Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., told Insider on Friday in a Q&A. Police officers swiftly took down information from the callers, Raskin said. ‘The officers quickly got on the phone and said, yeah, just give us your name, your address, your social, you know, and we’ll tie up those loose ends,’ Raskin said. ‘But what’s so fascinating to me about that there really were people who felt as if they had been summoned to Washington by the president.'” Also, holy fuck, The Onion scooped it: “Trump Rioter Knocks On Senate Door To Ask About Retrieving Left-Behind Car Keys.”
  • Some QAnon Believers Think JFK Disguised Himself As Trump At Arizona Rally. They claim the person who showed up at the event appeared to be shorter than the ‘real’ Donald Trump.”
  • How a Married Undercover Cop Having Sex With Activists Killed a Climate Movement Mark Kennedy spent seven years pretending to be a climate activist. People he deceived are still rebuilding their lives.”
  • Thread—”THREAD. A new scandal is brewing at the New York Times. I try my best below to document the paper’s corporate and police union copaganda, and to share actual evidence and research that the NYT ignores. The stakes are huge.” Tweet—”Fantastic thread breaking down how the NYT has uncritically shared bunk science and quite frankly propaganda about how we need more police and harsher punishment to solve crime trends.”
  • More on this “Public Domain Day is here again: it should be an occasion for condemnation, not celebration.”
  • Anne Frank betrayal suspect identified after 77 years – BBC News”—”A suspect who may have betrayed Anne Frank and her family to the Nazis has been identified in a new investigation. The Jewish diarist died in a Nazi concentration camp in 1945, aged 15, after two years in hiding. A team of historians and other experts said Arnold van den Bergh, a Jewish figure in Amsterdam, probably “gave up” the Franks to save his own family. Anne Frank’s diary, published after her death, is the most famous first-hand account of Jewish life during the war. Evidence suggests a prominent Jewish notary may have disclosed the secret hiding place of the Frank family to German occupiers to save his own family from Nazi concentration camps.”—”Tuesday 1 August 1944 ‘… I keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if … if only there were no other people in the world. Yours, Anne M. Frank”. Also “Cold Case Team Shines New Light On Betrayal Of Anne Frank.” About The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Rosemary Sullivan—”Less a mystery unsolved than a secret well kept… Using new technology, recently discovered documents and sophisticated investigative techniques, an international team—led by an obsessed retired FBI agent—has finally solved the mystery that has haunted generations since World War II: Who betrayed Anne Frank and her family? And why? Over thirty million people have read The Diary of a Young Girl, the journal teen-aged Anne Frank kept while living in an attic with her family and four other people in Amsterdam during World War II, until the Nazis arrested them and sent them to a concentration camp. But despite the many works—journalism, books, plays and novels—devoted to Anne’s story, none has ever conclusively explained how these eight people managed to live in hiding undetected for over two years—and who or what finally brought the Nazis to their door. With painstaking care, retired FBI agent Vincent Pankoke and a team of indefatigable investigators pored over tens of thousands of pages of documents—some never before seen—and interviewed scores of descendants of people familiar with the Franks. Utilizing methods developed by the FBI, the Cold Case Team painstakingly pieced together the months leading to the infamous arrest—and came to a shocking conclusion. The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation is the riveting story of their mission. Rosemary Sullivan introduces us to the investigators, explains the behavior of both the captives and their captors and profiles a group of suspects. All the while, she vividly brings to life wartime Amsterdam: a place where no matter how wealthy, educated, or careful you were, you never knew whom you could trust.”
  • Watch “What Jewish life in Europe was like before World War Two“—”A digitised archive of pre-WW2 documents, books and cultural artefacts showing how members of the Jewish community expressed themselves through art, literature and music, has gone online. Many items were destroyed by the Nazis, but 4.1 million of them survived. The project is being launched at a time of rising anti-Semitic attacks and vandalism. It is the culmination of a project sponsored by the New York-based Institute for Jewish Research in conjunction with libraries in Lithuania.”
  • ‘Where Are the Jews?’: Scandal Erupts at the Academy Museum. Four months after the new cultural center’s splashy opening, big donors and showbiz veterans wonder why many of Hollywood’s “founding fathers” are absent from its exhibits.”
  • More than 1,700 congressmen once enslaved Black people. This is who they were, and how they shaped the nation. The Washington Post has compiled the first database of slaveholding members of Congress by examining thousands of pages of census records and historical documents.”
  • Watch “The kora, the ‘sacred’ instrument of storytellers – BBC News”—”When Kadialy Kouyate travelled to the United Kingdom he intended to be a student, but he ended up being the teacher. The Senegal-born musician teaches at the only university-led kora course in the country. The kora is a stringed instrument played extensively across West Africa.”—”Anyone can learn to play the kora. It’s open to everyone. If you are interested in Mandingo culture … the kora is open, the doors of the kora are open.”
  • From the Digging the Hole Deeper dept: “Joss Whedon Finally Addresses Misconduct Charges Leveled By Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher And ‘Buffy’ Cast. The director claims that the “Wonder Woman” star mistakenly thought he threatened to ruin her career because ‘English is not her first language, and I tend to be annoyingly flowery in my speech.'”
  • Daniel Radcliffe To Play ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic In Upcoming Biopic. ‘Weird: The Al Yankovic Story’ will explore ‘every facet’ of the actor, comedian and pop music parodist’s ‘incredibly true, unexaggerated story.'”
  • ‘Zorro’ Drama With Female Lead From Robert & Rebecca Rodriguez, Sean Tretta & Propagate In Works At The CW“—”Zorro is headed to the CW. The young-skewing network has put in development a gender-swapped reimagining of the classic masked vigilante character, from filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, writer-director Rebecca Rodriguez, Sean Tretta (Mayans M.C.) and Ben Silverman and Howard T. Owens’ Propagate. CBS Studios, where Propagate has a deal, is the studio. This is a new incarnation of the project, which was in development at NBC during the 2020-21 cycle, with Tretta as a new addition to the brother-and-sister writing team of Robert and Rebecca Rodriguez. Co-penned by the trio and to be directed by Rebecca Rodriguez, in Zorro, a young Latinx woman seeking vengeance for her father’s murder joins a secret society and adopts the outlaw persona of Zorro. I hear the story by Robert and Rebecca Rodriguez was already in place when Tretta, who has an overall deal at CBS Studios, came on board earlier this cycle to write the script.”
  • Watch “The Queen’s Gambit: The Board Game – Trailer“—”Wonder what it would be like to experience chess like the extraordinary Beth Harmon?
    Beth’s ability to envision chess moves on her ceiling enabled her to clear her opponents’ pieces from the board and defeat them. In The Queen’s Gambit: The Board Game, you compete with other players to claim pieces – and points – from the board. Each turn, you can move your “Gambit” like a different chess piece. But you’ll have to plan ahead like Beth if you want to outwit your opponents and win the game! 2-4 players 15 Min 12+.” A chess-inspired strategy board game related to the Netflix series, based on the Walter Tevis novel.

  • I remember the was a whole international kerfuffle just about Ganesha and other Hindu deities on just a t-shirt. But then there’s this. Times change, I guess. Watch “Smite – Season 9 Launch Trailer | PS4“.
  • Watch “200 Players Simulate Civilization on Minecraft Island” and “200 Players Simulate Racist Civilization in Minecraft“.
  • Not engaging them works, until is doesn’t, in my experience, but: “Never Engage with Toddlers Online. Social media is a hotbed of arguing, shouting and posturing. Here are my rules of (dis)engagement.”
  • Watch “How To Make Yourself Unscammable. Listen Up, Young People!“—”Young people are falling for online scams at alarming rates, so Stephen invited certified young person and self-described internet safety expert, Eliana Kwartler, to offer some tips on how to surf the web without losing your money.”
  • Nobody Would Hire Me Because I Was A Sex Worker. So I Started My Own Company. I found it infuriating that in a society that constantly tells sex workers they need to get a “real” job, nobody would actually give me a chance.”
  • Don’t tell the poets: “Japanese company engineers soft toys that will nibble your finger, for folks who are into that. Finally, a toy for masochists who only want to be nibbled at a teeny-tiny bit!”
  • ‘Hardballing’ Is The First Dating Trend We’ve Heard Lately That Doesn’t Suck. Hardballing could make ‘situationships’ and awkward ‘What are we?’ conversations a thing of the past.”
  • Watch “Outercourse, Wanderlove, Untyping – Stephen Colbert Explains Modern Relationship Terms“—”Romance is always evolving, and it can be hard to keep up with the latest terminology around dating. Our host is here to help with the latest episode of ‘Stephen Colbert’s Romansplaining.'”
  • Watch “Studio 666 (Official Trailer)
  • Tweet—”The toilets inside the MI5 building in Millbank are being refurbished, and as a listed building, that requires a planning application. So for you spooks out there, this is what the loos inside the MI5 headquarters look like. Exciting ;)” Tweet—”Which one has the secret passage to U.N.C.L.E. HQ, and which one goes to the Ministry of Magic?”
  • Justice League’s Biggest Losers May Have Created the 20th Century’s Coolest Move. The Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna, were never anyone’s idea of cool. Their signature move, however, is an entirely different story.”
  • Imagine my surprise when I got these alerts: “Highway patrol says alert referencing Gotham City, Joker’s car sent in error“—”‘GOTHAM CITY MO PURPLE/GREEN 1978 DODGE 3700 GT UKIDME’ the alert read, with a link to the patrol’s public alerts Twitter page. The patrol tweeted soon after the errant alert went out that it was meant to be an internal test message. ‘THERE WAS NO ALERT,’ the patrol tweeted.”

Omnium Gatherum: 13jan2022

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

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

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

Omnium Gatherum: 5jan2022

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

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

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

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

Omnium Gatherum: 29dec2021

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

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

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

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

Omnium Gatherum: 19dec2021

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

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

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

Omnium Gatherum: 15dec2021

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

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

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

Omnium Gatherum: 12dec2021

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

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

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