Omnium Gatherum: 27oct2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for October 27, 2021

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

  • He Won the Nobel. Why Are His Books So Hard to Find? After Abdulrazak Gurnah was awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature, he instantly gained a wider international audience, something publishers are now scrambling to accommodate.” About Afterlives [Amazon, Bookshop UK, Publisher, Local Library] by Abdulrazak Gurnah
  • Here’s an exclusive 1st look at ‘Battlestar Galactica: Designing Spaceships’ from Hero Collector. Try saying ‘Colonial Viper’ in your mind without it being in a old-school Cylon voice. You can’t, can you?” About Battlestar Galactica: Designing Spaceships [Amazon, Bookshop, Local Library] by Paul Ruditis and Mark Wright—”This new book goes behind the scenes on the award-winning TV series Battlestar Galactica to discover the concepts behind the designs of dozens of spaceships! Battlestar Galactica debuted on TV in 1978 and acquired a phenomenal following, breaking new ground for TV drama and winning several awards. It returned to TV screens in 2003 in a critically acclaimed reimagined series, with Time Magazine naming it one of the 100 Best TV Shows of All Time. This behind-the-scenes guide looks at the creation of the ships in both the original and the reimagined series, including vessels of the ragtag fleet and those of the Cylon enemy. Featuring artwork from the groundbreaking first series and the 2004 reimagined series, this volume explores the art of ship creation from the first sketches to the finished designs of the modelmakers. Covering 18 key ships from the two shows, including the Galactica itself, the Vipers and the Cylon Raiders, the pages are packed with original concept art from designers Eric Chu, Andrew Probert and legendary artist Ralph McQuarrie.”
  • When the Times Book Review Panned the Classics. Some of today’s best-loved books — think ‘Catch-22,’ ‘Tender Is the Night’ and even ‘Anne of Green Gables’ — had a rocky reception in our pages.”
  • ‘Unfilmable’ Books That Hollywood Should Try to Adapt After ‘Dune’.”
  • A Scientific Explanation for Your Urge to Sniff Old Books.” Excerpt from Revelations in Air: A Guidebook to Smell [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Jude Stewart—”An extraordinary, strange, and startlingly beautiful exploration of smell, the least understood of our five senses. Overlapping with taste yet larger in scope, smell is the sense that comes closest to pure perception. Smell can collapse space and time, unlocking memories and transporting us to worlds both new and familiar. Yet as clearly as each of us can recognize different smells–the bright tang of citrus, freshly sharpened pencils, parched earth after rain–few of us understand how and why we smell. In Revelations in Air, Jude Stewart takes us on a fascinating journey into the weird and wonderful world of smell. Beginning with lessons on the incredible biology and history of how our noses work, Stewart teaches us how to use our noses like experts. Once we’re properly equipped and ready to sniff, Stewart explores a range of smells—from lavender, cut grass and hot chocolate to cannabis and old books—using smell as a lens into art, history, science, and more. With an engaging colorful design and exercises for readers to refine their own skills, Revelations in Air goes beyond science or history or chemistry–it’s a doorway into the surprising, pleasurable, and unfamiliar landscape of smell.”
  • How Do We Make Sense of the Meaning of Consciousness?.” Except from Feeling & Knowing: Making Minds Conscious [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Antonio Damasio—”From one of the world’s leading neuroscientists: a succinct, illuminating, wholly engaging investigation of how biology, neuroscience, psychology, and artificial intelligence have given us the tools to unlock the mysteries of human consciousness. In recent decades, many philosophers and cognitive scientists have declared the problem of consciousness unsolvable, but Antonio Damasio is convinced that recent findings across multiple scientific disciplines have given us a way to understand consciousness and its significance for human life. In the forty-eight brief chapters of Feeling & Knowing, and in writing that remains faithful to our intuitive sense of what feeling and experiencing are about, Damasio helps us understand why being conscious is not the same as sensing, why nervous systems are essential for the development of feelings, and why feeling opens the way to consciousness writ large. He combines the latest discoveries in various sciences with philosophy and discusses his original research, which has transformed our understanding of the brain and human behavior. Here is an indispensable guide to understand­ing how we experience the world within and around us and find our place in the universe.”
  • ‘We Were Alive and Life Was Us.’ How Ken Kesey Created LSD Subculture.” Excerpt from The Shattering: America in the 60s [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Kevin Boyle—”From the National Book Award winner, a masterful history of the decade whose conflicts shattered America’s postwar order and divide us still. On July 4, 1961, the rising middle-class families of a Chicago neighborhood gathered before their flag-bedecked houses, a confident vision of the American Dream. That vision was shattered over the following decade, its inequities at home and arrogance abroad challenged by powerful civil rights and antiwar movements. Assassinations, social violence, and the blowback of a ‘silent majority’ shredded the American fabric. Covering the late 1950s through the early 1970s, The Shattering focuses on the period’s fierce conflicts over race, sex, and war. The civil rights movement develops from the grassroots activism of Montgomery and the sit-ins, through the violence of Birmingham and the Edmund Pettus Bridge, to the frustrations of King’s Chicago campaign, a rising Black nationalism, and the Nixon-era politics of busing and the Supreme Court. The Vietnam war unfolds as Cold War policy, high-stakes politics buffeted by powerful popular movements, and searing in-country experience. Americans’ challenges to government regulation of sexuality yield landmark decisions on privacy rights, gay rights, contraception, and abortion. Kevin Boyle captures the inspiring and brutal events of this passionate time with a remarkable empathy that restores the humanity of those making this history. Often they are everyday people like Elizabeth Eckford, enduring a hostile crowd outside her newly integrated high school in Little Rock, or Estelle Griswold, welcoming her arrest for dispensing birth control information in a Connecticut town. Political leaders also emerge in revealing detail: we track Richard Nixon’s inheritances from Eisenhower and his debt to George Wallace, who forged a message of racism mixed with blue-collar grievance that Nixon imported into Republicanism. The Shattering illuminates currents that still run through our politics. It is a history for our times.”
  • Mummy’s older than we thought: new find could rewrite history. Discovery of nobleman Khuwy shows that Egyptians were using advanced embalming methods 1,000 years before assumed date.”
  • Study rethinks notions about the relationship between the Olmec and Mayan cultures. A study using laser mapping technology or LiDAR in the states of Veracruz and Tabasco could transform our notions about the origins of Mesoamerican civilisations.” Also “Hundreds of ancient ceremonial sites found in southern Mexico. Researchers have uncovered 478 ceremonial sites that were probably built by the Olmec and the Maya thousands of years ago.”
  • 4,250-year-old Hattian golden beak-spouted ewer returns to Turkey.”
  • ‘Teaching us wonder’: Turkey embarks on cultural mission to preserve its fairytales. Mammoth task to collate magical folklore of Anatolian plateau involves thousands of stories.”
  • From 2019: “Artificial Intelligence Study of Human Genome Finds Unknown Human Ancestor. The genetic footprint of a “ghost population” may match that of a Neanderthal and Denisovan hybrid fossil found in Siberia.”—”The researchers trained the computer to analyze eight different models of the most plausible theories of early human evolution across Eurasia. The models came from previous studies that attempted to come up with a scenario that would result in the current picture of the human genome, including its known Neanderthal and Denisovan components. ‘With each of these eight models, we calculate over weeks of computations how well they are able to reach the actual, present genetic composition of humans,’ Bertranpetit says. ‘Every time we do a simulation, it’s a simulation of a possible path of human evolution, and we have run those simulations thousands of times, and the deep learning algorithms are able to recognize which of the models best suit the data.’ The machine’s conclusion? An ancestor species is present in our lineage that we have yet to identify. ‘By far, the only models we tested that really are backed by the data are the ones having this ghost population introgression,’ Bertranpetit says.” Also “Artificial intelligence applied to the genome identifies an unknown human ancestor. Scientists use deep learning for the first time ever to account for human evolution.”
  • On the origin of minds. Cognition did not appear out of nowhere in ‘higher’ animals but goes back millions, perhaps billions, of years.”
  • The search for alien tech. Radio signals is old hat: now it’s all about hunting for extraterrestrial technosignatures. But do we want to be found?”
  • Inside the Indonesian cave where oldest animal art was found“—”Archaeologists discovered the world’s oldest known animal cave painting in Indonesia. A panel showing wild pigs believed to have been made 45,500 years ago was found in a cave in a remote valley on the island of Sulawesi. Previously, rock art found in European sites were considered to be the world’s oldest narrative artworks. BBC Indonesia was given rare access to film inside the cave.”
  • Rare ‘flesh-eating’ STD on the rise in UK, doctor warns“—”The CDC says donovanosis causes painless ‘beefy red’ lesions on the genitals that can bleed. These spreading, bleeding lesions led many to call the STD ‘flesh-eating,’ although it does not actually eat the flesh as it spreads.”
  • Crab in amber reveals an early colonization of nonmarine environments during the Cretaceous“—”Amber fossils provide snapshots of the anatomy, biology, and ecology of extinct organisms that are otherwise inaccessible. The best-known fossils in amber are terrestrial arthropods—principally insects—whereas aquatic organisms are rarely represented. Here, we present the first record of true crabs (Brachyura) in amber—from the Cretaceous of Myanmar [~100 to 99 million years (Ma)]. The new fossil preserves large compound eyes, delicate mouthparts, and even gills. This modern-looking crab is nested within crown Eubrachyura, or ‘higher’ true crabs, which includes the majority of brachyuran species living today. The fossil appears to have been trapped in a brackish or freshwater setting near a coastal to fluvio-estuarine environment, bridging the gap between the predicted molecular divergence of nonmarine crabs (~130 Ma) and their younger fossil record (latest Cretaceous and Paleogene, ~75 to 50 Ma) while providing a reliable calibration point for molecular divergence time estimates for higher crown eubrachyurans.” “Here, we describe a previously unknown eubrachyuran crab, Cretapsara athanata, preserved in Cretaceous amber (~99 Ma, Cenomanian) from Myanmar, Southeast Asia (Figs. 1 and 2). This is the oldest occurrence of a true crab in amber and one of the oldest crown group eubrachyurans known. Micro–computed tomography (CT) digital reconstructions reveal that antennae, large compound eyes, mouthparts with multiple fine hairs, and even gills are preserved (Figs. 3 and 4). Our phylogenetic analysis supports the establishment of a new family with a unique mixture of primitive and advanced characters.” Also “Tiny ‘immortal’ crab entombed in amber discovered in a first of its kind. Scientists say it could represent a bridge between freshwater and marine species.”
  • Some of the world’s oldest rubies linked to early life. Carbon residue that was once ancient life found encased in a 2.5 billion-year-old ruby.”—”While analyzing some of the world’s oldest coloured gemstones, researchers from the University of Waterloo discovered carbon residue that was once ancient life, encased in a 2.5 billion-year-old ruby.”
  • Ancient asteroids struck Earth frequently, delayed rise of life – study. Some of these asteroids were around 10 kilometers in size, and struck the Earth 10 times as often as current models would have suggested.”
  • Signs of first planet found outside our galaxy. Astronomers have found hints of what could be the first planet ever to be discovered outside our galaxy.”
  • Watch “Could These Distant Planets Support Life? | Universe I BBC Earth”—”Meet TRAPPIST-1, an ultra-cool dwarf star almost twice as old as our sun, but less than 1% as bright. And seven Earth-sized planets are in its orbit that could have the potential for supporting life…”
  • Watch “Water Discovered In Space! | Planet Explorers | BBC Earth”—”If you know about Saturn from Interstellar, you will love this. There may not be a wormhole, Saturn has 82 crazy moons, with one of them hosting a liquid ocean and erupting geysers. And like the best Sci-Fi movies, there’s good women at the helm. Dr Leah – Nani Alconcel is one of the team that has changed the way we see the solar system today.”
  • How climate change is changing northern Sweden and the people who live there. A journalist from the AFP news agency visits the far north of Sweden, where global warming is happening three times faster than in the rest of the world.”
  • Greenhouse gas levels hit record; world struggles to curb damage. UN seeks ‘dramatic increase’ in climate commitments. Summit will seek to avert menacing levels of warming. UK’s Johnson says COP26 outcome is ‘touch and go’. We need to revisit our whole way of life – Taalas.”
  • Treating beef like coal would make a big dent in greenhouse-gas emissions. Cattle are a surprisingly large producer of greenhouse gases.”
  • Elephants born without tusks in ‘evolutionary response’ to violent poachers. Rare genetic condition in Gorongosa National Park in central Mozambique has become far more common after years of hunting.”
  • A Prototype Original iPod. If you can believe it, the iPod is 20 years old, today.”—”Now, there are a lot of mysteries in the Panic Archives (it’s a closet) but by far one of the most mysterious is what you’re seeing for the first time today: an original early iPod prototype. We don’t know much about where it came from. But we’ve been waiting 20 years to share it with you.”
  • The robots have infiltrated Buffalo Wild Wings. Flippy the Robot has a brand new baby brother-bot.”—”In early 2018—18 whole months before I founded The Takeout’s official Robot Beat—my predecessors premptively rejoiced at the ‘failure’ of Flippy, the burger-cooking, French fry-frying, and ‘definitely not evil’ A.I. robot. Its public debut was an absolute disaster, with Flippy becoming quickly overwhelmed by orders and breaking down before its shift was over. Oh, what simpler times those were! Back then, we could delude ourselves into thinking that it would be years before the robots posed a serious threat, forgetting that robots literally devote 100% of their time working towards their ultimate goal: total fast food domination. By 2019 it became clear to us at The Takeout that we could put nothing past the robots, because much like human babies, they quickly grow up and start destroying everything in their paths. By 2020, Flippy successfully infiltrated White Castle, and within months, it was a valued employee. And now, after a relatively silent 2021, Flippy has spawned. This unholy robo-progeny is named Flippy Wings, and it’s already taken a major step toward the full-fledged subjugation of the chicken wing industry.”
  • From the Uplift dept: “Are We on the Verge of Chatting with Whales? An ambitious project is attempting to interpret sperm whale clicks with artificial intelligence, then talk back to them.”
  • OM Digital Launches ‘OM System’ Brand, Leaving Olympus Name Behind“—”OM Digital, the company that was spun off from Olympus early this year by Japan Industrial Partners (JIP), is making its next major step: rebranding the cameras it will produce as OM System and leaving the Olympus name behind. OM System will be the new name of the company’s line of interchangeable lens cameras, lenses, compact digital cameras, audio products, and binoculars and all Olympus imaging and audio products will be released under this new brand going forward.”
  • Amazon ‘Delivery Partners’ Hit Amazon With $15 Million Lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that Amazon ‘controlled nearly every aspect’ of two Portland delivery companies’ businesses and ‘created unsafe working conditions.'”
  • Inside Amazon’s Worst Human Resources Problem. A knot of problems with Amazon’s system for handling paid and unpaid leaves has led to devastating consequences for workers.”
  • Curiouser and curiouser. Whistleblower is kinda cringe. A pox on both their houses. “Inside the Big Facebook Leak. In a time of mega-leaks, journalists’ sources have become power players. Frances Haugen, the former Facebook product manager who shared company documents, led a meticulous media rollout.” Also “Facebook’s Internal Chat Boards Show Politics Often at Center of Decision Making. In hot debates, employees and management spar over allegations content rules aren’t enforced for Breitbart and other right-wing publishers for fear of public blowback. Other internal documents show management expresses wariness of appearing biased.” Also “People or profit? Facebook papers show deep conflict within.” Also “Frances Haugen took thousands of Facebook documents: This is how she did it. The company’s documents were available on its internal social network, which resembles the Facebook used by billions.”
  • ‘Mark Changed The Rules’: How Facebook Went Easy On Alex Jones And Other Right-Wing Figures. Facebook’s rules to combat misinformation and hate speech are subject to the whims and political considerations of its CEO and his policy team leader.” Tweet—”Mark Zuckerberg is what happens when someone takes Bill Hicks’ ‘righteous indignation/trapped/anger dollar’ rant as unironic marketing guidance.”
  • Facebook built an undersea cable to connect its data centers to Asia. The project was 2 years late and suffered from leaks of drilling fluid, sinkholes and abandoned buried equipment. The project finished almost two years late, and prompted Oregon to pass new legislation regulating future undersea cable projects in the state.”
  • Facebook Warns Anonymous Content Against ‘Recklessly’ Proceeding With ‘An Ugly Truth’ TV Adaptation.” About An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang—”Award-winning New York Times reporters Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang unveil the tech story of our times in a riveting, behind-the-scenes exposé that offers the definitive account of Facebook’s fall from grace. Once one of Silicon Valley’s greatest success stories, Facebook has been under constant fire for the past five years, roiled by controversies and crises. It turns out that while the tech giant was connecting the world, they were also mishandling users’ data, spreading fake news, and amplifying dangerous, polarizing hate speech. The company, many said, had simply lost its way. But the truth is far more complex. Leadership decisions enabled, and then attempted to deflect attention from, the crises. Time after time, Facebook’s engineers were instructed to create tools that encouraged people to spend as much time on the platform as possible, even as those same tools boosted inflammatory rhetoric, conspiracy theories, and partisan filter bubbles. And while consumers and lawmakers focused their outrage on privacy breaches and misinformation, Facebook solidified its role as the world’s most voracious data-mining machine, posting record profits, and shoring up its dominance via aggressive lobbying efforts. Drawing on their unrivaled sources, Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang take readers inside the complex court politics, alliances and rivalries within the company to shine a light on the fatal cracks in the architecture of the tech behemoth. Their explosive, exclusive reporting led them to a shocking conclusion: The missteps of the last five years were not an anomaly but an inevitability—this is how Facebook was built to perform. In a period of great upheaval, growth has remained the one constant under the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. Both have been held up as archetypes of uniquely 21st century executives—he the tech “boy genius” turned billionaire, she the ultimate woman in business, an inspiration to millions through her books and speeches. But sealed off in tight circles of advisers and hobbled by their own ambition and hubris, each has stood by as their technology is coopted by hate-mongers, criminals and corrupt political regimes across the globe, with devastating consequences. In An Ugly Truth, they are at last held accountable. ”
  • Apple once threatened Facebook ban over Mideast maid abuse.”
  • Jeff Bezos Reveals Plans to Build a Space Station Called ‘Orbital Reef’. The station is envisioned as a ‘mixed-use business park’… but in space.” A Starbucks on every Lagrange point.
  • Tweet—”Tired: Kessler Syndrome is a serious impediment to our continued ability to operate in Earth orbit. Wired: Kessler Syndrome is a necessary impediment to rich idiots who believe they can escape to space to avoid the ecological catastrophe they’re causing down here.”
  • I Was Hacked. The Spyware Used Against Me Makes Us All Vulnerable. Invasive hacking software sold to countries to fight terrorism is easily abused. Researchers say my phone was hacked twice, probably by Saudi Arabia.”
  • Watch this spoof promo for facegoomicroappama™️: “Made By Us.”
  • A Patent Troll Backs Off. We scared them off… this time.”—”tldr; The patent troll Jason Nguyen of Altair Logix couldn’t shake us down so he dropped the case. It cost us $12,645.”
  • In secret vaccine contracts with governments, Pfizer took hard line in push for profit, report says.”
  • 3 Teens with COVID-19 Developed Sudden Severe Psychiatric Symptoms. Why? UCSF-Led Study Shows Unruly Immune System May Trigger ‘Turncoat’ Antibodies.”
  • Watch “UK Covid cases could hit 100,000 a day – BBC Newsnight.”
  • ‘It’s absolutely getting worse’: Secretaries of state targeted by Trump election lies live in fear for their safety and are desperate for protection“—”Officials and aides in secretary of state offices in Arizona and other states targeted by former President Donald Trump in his attack on last year’s election results told CNN about living in constant terror — nervously watching the people around them at events, checking in their rearview mirrors for cars following them home and sitting up at night wondering what might happen next.”
  • A QAnon conspiracy theory about election fraud is becoming a pro-Trump push for traceable ballots.”
  • Tweet thread—”this is still really difficult for me to talk about so apologies for any missed words/typos/lack of clarity. i want to talk about something i observed outside the us capitol on january 6th. it hasn’t really been discussed because you had to be there, not as a rioter, to see it.” “people who were there to document know what i’m talking about. it’s the thing none of us can put into words. but you see it in our eyes, how our demeanor changes when we go back to that day in our memory. a black hole opens up.” “Angry since 60s they have to share USA w non-white, non-Xian, increasingly educated/bilingual ‘others’-cuz the marginalized’s progress is their ‘loss’. Its revenge on a world that they aint prepared/able to compete in. World’s passing em by and they rage at their own indolence.”
  • EXCLUSIVE: Jan. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in ‘Dozens’ of Planning Meetings With Members of Congress and White House Staff. Two sources are communicating with House investigators and detailed a stunning series of allegations to Rolling Stone, including a promise of a ‘blanket pardon’ from the Oval Office.”
  • It’s Time to Officially Clear the Names of the ‘Groveland Four’. In 1949, three young Black men and a teenager were wrongfully accused of raping a white teen girl. Now, a state prosecutor wants to get the case dismissed.”
  • United States issues its 1st passport with ‘X’ gender marker. Advocates have long been calling for an ‘X’ marker on federal IDs as more Americans have come out as nonbinary, or neither exclusively male nor female.” Also “US State Department issues first passport with X gender marker.” Also “Issuance of the First U.S. Passport with an X Gender Marker.”
  • Democrats’ billionaire tax would heavily target 10 wealthiest Americans, but alternative plan is emerging. Many lawmakers want to resolve their differences by the end of the week, but they are still stuck on the thorny issue of taxation.” Counterpoint from an asshole: Tweet—”Exactly. Eventually, they run out of other people’s money and then they come for you.” Countercounterpoint: “The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax. ProPublica has obtained a vast cache of IRS information showing how billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett pay little in income tax compared to their massive wealth — sometimes, even nothing.”
  • Tweet—”The judge in Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial says lawyers cannot call the 2 people he killed ‘victims.’ Rittenhouse killed 2 people and wounded another with an AR-15 style weapon. The judge says ‘victim’ is too ‘loaded’ but will let lawyers call them ‘rioters, looters or arsonists.'” Tweet—”To put it plain, the Wisconsin Judge in Rittenhouse’s case has ruled that lawyers can use the prejudicially loaded words which make the jury sympathetic *To Rittenhouse,* but not a word which would accurately describe his VICTIMS.” Tweet—”I just saw that the judge in the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse ruled that the prosecution may not refer to the people he shot as victims. Justice isn’t blind if you are BLM.” Definition of victim from Merriam-Webster. Sitting judge needs a dictionary or two sent to him, probably c/o the courthouse.
  • ‘Ignored for 70 years’: human rights group to investigate uranium contamination on Navajo Nation. Boost for advocates’ group is step further in decades-long fight against mining pollution.”
  • The Evangelical Church Is Breaking Apart. Christians must reclaim Jesus from his church.”—”‘Nearly everyone tells me there is at the very least a small group in nearly every evangelical church complaining and agitating against teaching or policies that aren’t sufficiently conservative or anti-woke,’ a pastor and prominent figure within the evangelical world told me. (Like others with whom I spoke about this topic, he requested anonymity in order to speak candidly.) ‘It’s everywhere.'”
  • Churchgoers Shocked After Their Pastor Is Arrested for Sex Crimes.”
  • The Netflix Series That Should Make Religious People Uncomfortable. ‘Midnight Mass’ is a morally urgent critique of how faith can fuel everyday cruelty and violence.”
  • Tweet—”They are just saying it out loud now. Theocracy is the goal. They do not believe in the separation of church and state because they believe they have ‘dominion’ over all of us. If you disagree, start saying so.”
  • ‘The Liberty Way’: How Liberty University Discourages and Dismisses Students’ Reports of Sexual Assaults“—”The school founded by evangelist Jerry Falwell ignored reports of rape and threatened to punish accusers for breaking its moral code, say former students. An official who says he was fired for raising concerns calls it a ‘conspiracy of silence.'”
  • Rats, mold, roaches: Howard students stage sit-in over housing conditions. Students at historically Black college in DC say conditions are deplorable and would rather sleep at student center than dorms.”
  • Watch “Cowboy Bebop | Official Trailer | Netflix”—”COWBOY BEBOP is an action-packed space Western about three bounty hunters, aka “cowboys,” all trying to outrun the past. As different as they are deadly, Spike Spiegel (John Cho), Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir), and Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda) form a scrappy, snarky crew ready to hunt down the solar system’s most dangerous criminals — for the right price. But they can only kick and quip their way out of so many scuffles before their pasts finally catch up with them. Based on the beloved anime series, COWBOY BEBOP is executive produced by André Nemec, Jeff Pinkner, Josh Appelbaum and Scott Rosenberg of Midnight Radio, Marty Adelstein and Becky Clements of Tomorrow Studios, Makoto Asanuma, Shin Sasaki and Masayuki Ozaki of Sunrise Inc., Tim Coddington, Tetsu Fujimura, Michael Katleman, Matthew Weinberg, and Christopher Yost. Nemec serves as showrunner. Original anime series director Shinichirō Watanabe is a consultant on the series, and original composer Yoko Kanno returns for the live-action adaptation. The series also stars Alex Hassell and Elena Satine. Watch Cowboy Bebop, a live-action series, only on Netflix Nov. 19.” Also this drips style: “Cowboy Bebop | Official Teaser ‘Lost Session’ | Netflix.”
  • 50 years ago, The Electric Company used comedy to boost kids’ reading skills.”
  • Watch “Israeli Scuba Diver Discovers Ancient Crusader Sword“—”The diver was about 150 meters (170 yards) off the coast in five-meter-deep water when he made the discovery. ‘The most interesting thing is that this is one of the first… the complete sword that ever found in Israel and in a very good preservation,’ says Kobi Sharvit, Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Marine Archaeology Unit.” Also “Diver finds 900-year-old sword in Mediterranean Sea“—”A sword believed to have been used by a crusader knight some 900 years ago was discovered on Tuesday by an amateur diver in the Mediterranean Sea.”
  • Watch “You Can Buy This Flying Vehicle Now – Jetson One | How Much Does It Cost? eVTOL.”
  • Tweet—”WOW! Image Comics announces that there will no longer be any 2nd prints of comics. You’re going to see more and more of this.”
  • Björk’s New Pandemic Album Will Be Ideal For Clubbing In The Living Room.”
  • Ugh. The Owl House canceled. Disney+ needs an Adult Swim solution or something, or else move stuff like that to Hulu; because The Owl House is awesome and didn’t deserve to die. “Owl House Was Canceled Due To Exec Deciding It Didn’t Fit the Disney Brand. Dana Terrace, the creator of Disney Channel’s The Owl House, offers some clarity on why the animated series’ third and final season was cut short.” Also “Owl House boss shares real reason why Disney cancelled the show. ‘Really grinds my guts, boils my brain, kicks my shins.'”
  • Either way, it’s better than an NFT, tbh: Tweet—”If you pay your $250 maybe you’ll get the original $20,000 Warhol, but you’ll never know.”
  • Tweet thread—”A Long, Definitive Thread on ‘Flat Art’ (or, as I will be refusing to call it, ‘Corporate Memphis’)” “The discourse around people who are tired of “flat art” has been going on for several years now. So I’ve been wanting to do a break down of where flat art comes from, what are the misconceptions, what are the criticisms, and which criticisms are worth paying attention to.”
  • We are Sex-bob-omb! “Space Engine Systems to test Mach 5 Spaceplane in Manitoba Canada”—”SES will deploy its Sexbomb lift body aircraft from a stratospheric balloon that lifts it to 110,000 ft. It will free fall to Mach 1.8 where the DASS engine ram jet fires to take it to Mach 5 at 57,000 ft over the northern barren lands, before gliding back to Lynn Lake.”
  • I mean, that tracks. “Hiker lost on mountain for 24 hours ignored calls from rescuers because he didn’t recognize phone number.”
  • Spooky Halloween: the origin of ‘spook’.” Also “Spooks are spooks, but don’t ignore organic pumpkins.”
  • Watch “Why Vampires Hate Garlic – A Transylvanian Recipe from 1580.”
  • Tweet—”Bride of Frankenstein isn’t ready for marriage 💍👰‍♂👻🎃💀”—”There’s something about being brought to life purely to be the helpmate of a hideous monster that’s really bumming me out.”

Omnium Gatherum: 24oct2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for October 24, 2021

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

  • Big Ears, various venues in Knoxville, TN, March 24-27, 2022. Also “Big Ears Triumphantly Returns“—”After an unfortunate two-year pandemic hiatus, Big Ears, one of the most adventurous music festivals on the planet, will finally return in March of 2022. Festival organizers recently announced the initial lineup for the Knoxville, TN-based festival, and there are, as usual, some incredible acts featured. Legendary popera new wave duo Sparks will make a rare appearance, as will genre-wrecking NYC saxophonist John Zorn. In Zorn’s case, Big Ears will be presenting a whopping eight (!) programs of the composer’s music, including the longstanding Masada Quartet, Chaos Magick—featuring John Medeski of Mediski, Martin, and Wood—and a guitar trio with Bill Frisell, Gyan Riley and Julian Lage. In addition, fans will get an opportunity to witness a performance of Zorn’s The Hermetic Organ on the 32 foot pipe organ at St. John’s Cathedral. Also included in the first round of lineup announcements are guitar virtuoso Marc Ribot (in several musical configurations), contemporary string innovators Kronos Quartet, Low, Sons of Kemet, Fennesz, Kim Gordon (formerly of Sonic Youth), as well as Big Ears’ first ever Krewe Du Kanaval street party, curated by New Orleans’ own Preservation Hall Jazz Band.” Lots there, but check out Chaos Magick [Amazon] by John Zorn featuring John Medeski, Brian Marsella, Matt Hollenberg and Kenny Grohowski.
  • From the OMM 0000 dept: watch “God and robots: Will AI transform religion?“—”Artificial intelligence is changing how we interact with everything, from food to healthcare, travel and also religion. Experts say major global faiths are discussing their relationship with AI, and some are starting to incorporate this technology into their worship. Robot priests can recite prayers, deliver sermons, and even comfort those experiencing a spiritual crisis. BBC Global Religion reporter Sofia Bettiza has taken a look at whether AI’s relationship with religion is just a gimmick, or whether it can truly transform how people experience faith.”
  • From the Broken Clock dept: “Who will rule the coming ‘gods’?“—”To borrow words from C.S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man: Are people ‘without chests’ building artificial intelligence robots “without chests”? Can we really expect such devices to ‘honor’ and serve us, or is it inevitable we will awaken to the terrifying reality that we have “traitors in our midst” of our own making? God has written His laws on the human heart, says the Bible. (Romans 2:15) But who is constructing the algorithms of ethical and moral criteria that will determine good and bad in the operating system of an AI machine?” Excerpt from Who Will Rule The Coming ‘Gods’?: The Looming Spiritual Crisis Of Artificial Intelligence [Amazon, Bookshop] by Wallace B Henley—”Will We Let Artificial Intelligence Eclipse the True God? We have entered a new age in which we can go into the quietness of our rooms and slip into whatever identity we desire-virtually. Artificial intelligence is fast becoming a normal part of our lives. The existential crisis of our age is how technology, specifically AI and robots, is eclipsing our reverence for the transcendence of God. In the rush to create human-helping AI, technologists are making machines that may eventually become our masters. Some people are already worshiping at the feet of the great god of AI, just as the ancient Philistines once bowed before statues of the idol Dagon. In this compelling and groundbreaking book, best-selling author Wallace Henley shares about the impending moral and ethical choices we will soon need to make, as believers in Christ, to hold AI and its creators accountable to the true God. Otherwise our world will spin into peril.”
  • The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by David Graeber and David Wengrow, due November 2021—”A dramatically new understanding of human history, challenging our most fundamental assumptions about social evolution—from the development of agriculture and cities to the origins of the state, democracy, and inequality—and revealing new possibilities for human emancipation. For generations, our remote ancestors have been cast as primitive and childlike—either free and equal innocents, or thuggish and warlike. Civilization, we are told, could be achieved only by sacrificing those original freedoms or, alternatively, by taming our baser instincts. David Graeber and David Wengrow show how such theories first emerged in the eighteenth century as a conservative reaction to powerful critiques of European society posed by Indigenous observers and intellectuals. Revisiting this encounter has startling implications for how we make sense of human history today, including the origins of farming, property, cities, democracy, slavery, and civilization itself. Drawing on pathbreaking research in archaeology and anthropology, the authors show how history becomes a far more interesting place once we learn to throw off our conceptual shackles and perceive what’s really there. If humans did not spend 95 percent of their evolutionary past in tiny bands of hunter-gatherers, what were they doing all that time? If agriculture, and cities, did not mean a plunge into hierarchy and domination, then what kinds of social and economic organization did they lead to? The answers are often unexpected, and suggest that the course of human history may be less set in stone, and more full of playful, hopeful possibilities, than we tend to assume. The Dawn of Everything fundamentally transforms our understanding of the human past and offers a path toward imagining new forms of freedom, new ways of organizing society. This is a monumental book of formidable intellectual range, animated by curiosity, moral vision, and a faith in the power of direct action.”
  • Work Without the Worker: Labour in the Age of Platform Capitalism [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Phil Jones—”The brutal truth behind our automated futures and the new world of work. We are told that the future of work will be increasingly automated. Algorithms, processing massive amounts of information at startling speed, will lead us to a new world of effortless labour and a post-work utopia of ever expanding leisure. But behind the gleaming surface stands millions of workers, often in the Global South, manually processing data for a pittance. Recent years have seen a boom in online crowdworking platforms like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and Clickworker, and these have become an increasingly important source of work for millions of people. And it is these badly paid tasks, not algorithms, that make our digital lives possible. Used to process data for everything from the mechanics of self-driving cars to Google image search, this is an increasingly powerful part of the new digital economy, although one hidden and rarely spoken of. But what happens to work when it makes itself obsolete. In this stimulating work that blends political economy, studies of contemporary work, and speculations on the future of capitalism, Phil Jones looks at what this often murky and hidden form of labour looks like, and what it says about the state of global capitalism.”
  • The Lost History of Cosmopolitanism: The Early Modern Origins of the Intellectual Ideal [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Leigh T I Penman—”The Lost History of Cosmopolitanism challenges our most basic assumptions about the history of an ideal at the heart of modernity. Beginning in antiquity and continuing through to today, Leigh T.I. Penman examines how European thinkers have understood words like ‘kosmopolites’, ‘cosmopolite’, ‘cosmopolitan’ and its cognates. The debates over their meanings show that there has never been a single, stable cosmopolitan concept, but rather a range of concepts-sacred and secular, inclusive and exclusive-all described with the cosmopolitan vocabulary. While most scholarly attention in the history of cosmopolitanism has focussed on Greek and Roman antiquity or the Enlightenments of the 18th century, this book shows that the crucial period in the evolution of modern cosmopolitanism was early modernity. Between 1500 and 1800 philosophers, theologians, cartographers, jurists, politicians, alchemists and heretics all used this vocabulary, shedding ancient associations, and adding new ones at will. The chaos of discourses prompted thinkers to reflect on the nature of the cosmopolitan ideal, and to conceive of an abstract ‘cosmopolitanism’ for the first time. This meticulously researched book provides the first intellectual history of an overlooked period in the evolution of a core ideal. As such, The Lost History of Cosmopolitanism is an essential work for anyone seeking a contextualised understanding of cosmopolitanism today.”
  • Homo Irrealis: Essays. Homo Irrealis is an unusual memoir of sorts, supplanting reality with a touch of magic that is characteristic of André Aciman’s work.” About Homo Irrealis: Essays [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by André Aciman—”The New York Times–bestselling author of Find Me and Call Me by Your Name returns to the essay form with his collection of thoughts on time, the creative mind, and great lives and works Irrealis moods are a category of verbal moods that indicate that certain events have not happened, may never happen, or should or must or are indeed desired to happen, but for which there is no indication that they will ever happen. Irrealis moods are also known as counterfactual moods and include the conditional, the subjunctive, the optative, and the imperative—all best expressed in this book as the might-be and the might-have-been. One of the great prose stylists of his generation, André Aciman returns to the essay form in Homo Irrealis to explore what time means to artists who cannot grasp life in the present. Irrealis moods are not about the present or the past or the future; they are about what might have been but never was but could in theory still happen. From meditations on subway poetry and the temporal resonances of an empty Italian street to considerations of the lives and work of Sigmund Freud, C. P. Cavafy, W. G. Sebald, John Sloan, Éric Rohmer, Marcel Proust, and Fernando Pessoa and portraits of cities such as Alexandria and St. Petersburg, Homo Irrealis is a deep reflection on the imagination’s power to forge a zone outside of time’s intractable hold.”
  • Black Blocks, White Squares: Crosswords with an Anarchist Edge [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Leonard Williams—”Fun with a purpose. Crosswords for radicals— and everyone else.” “Black Blocks, White Squares presents fifty-one themed crossword puzzles featuring radical ideas, history, and movements. Ranging from slightly to substantially challenging, they are built around noteworthy quotations, invoke notable thinkers and books, or allude to key words and concepts. Some of the puzzles use wordplay or grid art to illustrate important ideas or events, exploring a range of orientations and activities in contemporary political activism. Leonard Williams has created puzzles for major newspapers and crossword sites that both gratify and enlighten puzzlers. Each one is constructed according to the prevailing standards of American-style crosswords. You won’t need a political science degree to solve these grids, but you’ll probably learn something new. The book includes solutions as well as ‘Constructor’s Notes’ explaining the ideas behind each puzzle. A perfect gift and conversation starter!”
  • 10 Underrated Horror Authors To Check Out. Some real hidden gems here.”—”10. Jordan Krall. Krall is yet another author who got his start in the Bizarro scene. He went on to develop a unique brand of horror fiction that combined weird fiction, science fiction, and experimental prose. Humanity is The Devil is a disturbing misanthropic novel that covers Gnosticism, true crime, and psychological trauma. Nightmares from a Lovecraftian Mind is a collection of surreal work reminiscent of the titular author and Thomas Ligotti. He’s a prolific author who’s written too much to cover here, and much of it is out of print. However, what is still in print is well-worth picking up, and he’s definitely one of the most underrated horror authors.” Check out Jordan Krall at Amazon.
  • Mihály Csíkszentmihályi- Flow Theory Architect, Hungarian-American Psychologist, Dies Aged 88. World-renowned Hungarian psychologist, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, died at the age of 88 on Wednesday. Besides being one of the world’s leading researchers on positive psychology, he was best known for introducing flow theory in the 1970s, defining it as a state of mind attained when one becomes fully immersed in an activity.” In Csikszentmihalyi’s 1988 essay “Society, Culture, and Person: A Systems View of Creativity” from The Nature of Creativity: Contemporary Psychological Perspectives [Amazon] ed. R J Sternberg: “It seems to me that an understanding of the complex context in which people operate must eventually enrich our understanding of who the individual is and what the individual does. But to do so we need to abandon the Ptolemaic view of creativity, in which the person is at the centre of everything, for a more Copernican model in which the person is part of a system of mutual influences and information.”
  • Kenyan northern white rhino Najin retired from breeding scheme. Scientists have retired one of the world’s last two northern white rhinos from a breeding programme trying to save the species from extinction.”—”The decision to stop harvesting 32-year-old Najin’s eggs followed an ‘ethical risk assessment’ that considered her age and other factors. Neither Najin nor her daughter Fatu are able to carry a rhino calf to term. The last male of the species died in 2018, but its sperm was collected and has been used to fertilise eggs.”
  • Tweet—”Just published! Pierre TALLET, Les papyrus de la mer Rouge II. Second volume of the publication of the Red Sea papyri, found in Wadi el-Jarf.” Tweet thread—”One of most exciting Egyptological discoveries in recent history: the logbooks of a team who were involved in the building of the Great Pyramid at Giza! THREAD!” “These papyrus logbooks have transformed our understanding and it’s especially exciting that it’s not just the ‘Pyramid of King Khufu’ anymore — it’s now the Pyramid of Merer, Dedi, Sekher,[Ny]kaounesout, and many more!”
  • Knife found beneath Parliament to be returned to Algonquin nations in historic move. The stone knife will be displayed in the revamped Centre Block.”
  • Key protein linked to appetite and obesity in mice“—”Moving forward, the lab hopes to collaborate with neuroscience research units, in order to pinpoint exactly how XRN1 impacts the activity of neurons in the hypothalamus to regulate appetite. ‘Identifying which neurons and proteins in the brain are involved in regulating appetite, and fully determining how resistance to leptin is caused, could eventually lead to a targeted treatment for obesity,’ said Dr. Yanagiya.”
  • New cancer treatment may reawaken the immune system. By combining chemotherapy, tumor injury, and immunotherapy, researchers show that the immune system can be re-engaged to destroy tumors in mice.”
  • Researchers make hardened wooden knives that slice through steak“—”The sharpest knives available are made of either steel or ceramic, both of which are man-made materials that must be forged in furnaces under extreme temperatures. Now, researchers have developed a potentially more sustainable way to make sharp knives: using hardened wood. The method, presented October 20th in the journal Matter, makes wood 23 times harder, and a knife made from the material is nearly three times sharper than a stainless-steel dinner table knife.” “Li and his team also demonstrated that their material can be used to produce wooden nails as sharp as conventional steel nails. Unlike steel nails, the wooden nails the team developed are resistant to rusting. The researchers showed that these wooden nails could be used to hammer together three boards without any damage to the nail. In addition to knives and nails, Li hopes that, in the future, the material can also be used to make hardwood flooring that is more resistant to scratching and wear.”
  • New Holland Mouse, thought to be extinct, rediscovered on Tasmania’s Flinders Island. The New Holland Mouse was last seen in Tasmania’s north-east in 2004. The mouse was captured sniffing a stick of peanut butter on a remote camera on Flinders Island. Further surveying will be used to inform a national recovery plan for the species.”—”For the first time in 17 years, a species of mouse described as a “dumpling on legs” has been discovered on Tasmania’s Flinders island.”
  • Patagonian fossils show Jurassic dinosaur had the herd mentality“—”A vast trove of fossils unearthed in Argentina’s southern Patagonia region is offering the oldest-known evidence that some dinosaurs thrived in a complex and well-organized herd structure, with adults caring for the young and sharing a communal nesting ground.”
  • Internal Alarm, Public Shrugs: Facebook’s Employees Dissect Its Election Role. Company documents show that the social network’s employees repeatedly raised red flags about the spread of misinformation and conspiracies before and after the contested November vote.”
  • Tweet thread—”Ok so, I just read through all 173 pages of the unredacted Google antitrust filing and I have to say that either Google is screwed or society is screwed, we’ll find out which. Unordered list of fun things I learned:” “google has a secret deal with facebook called ‘Jedi Blue’ that they knew was so illegal that it has a whole section describing how they’ll cover for each other if anyone finds out – google appears to have a team called gTrade that is wholly dedicated to ad market manipulation” See “IN RE: GOOGLE DIGITAL ADVERTISING ANTITRUST LITIGATION” [PDF]
  • Apple’s privacy changes create windfall for its own advertising business. iPhone maker’s share of mobile app advertising market has tripled in six months.”
  • Egypt detains artist robot Ai-Da before historic pyramid show. Sculpture and its futuristic creator held for 10 days, possibly in fear she is part of spying plot.” Side note: they demanded that the eyes be removed. That’s what happened to a lot of the ancient Egyptian reliefs too!
  • Tweet thread—”PSA for anyone who might be dealing with robot gun dogs, from a farm robot specialist who wasn’t really looking at robot wrangling from the public safety standpoint but here we are.” “idk just some thoughts on outdoor automation from someone who buries the corpses of failed robots for a living.” “it’s just really funny to me that these are supposed to be scary but probably can’t stand up to a water balloon full of pickle juice.”
  • The World Needs Many More Coronavirus Vaccines. Wealthy nations have to step up.” Also “The Covid Pandemic Could Continue Well Into 2022. Here’s Why. Western countries might be majority inoculated, but what about the global South?”
  • How Public Health Took Part in Its Own Downfall. The field’s future lies in reclaiming parts of its past that it willingly abandoned.”
  • Nurses and shop staff in UK face tide of abuse since end of lockdowns. Customer-facing workers in all sectors report greater hostility, research shows.”
  • 6 Sneaky Signs You’re Experiencing Ongoing Trauma From The Pandemic. It’s no secret COVID has caused prolonged extreme stress. Here’s how the effects of that may be showing up in your life right now.”—”Remember that you aren’t alone and that so many others are experiencing physical and emotional symptoms as a result of all the pandemic trauma. ‘Our responses are normal,’ King said. ‘It’s the circumstances that are abnormal.'”
  • Salt Lake County calculated COVID-19 vaccination rates by zodiac sign. The news is not good for Scorpios. Fire signs are highly vaccinated, though.”
  • GOP Governor Blasts Anti-Vax Lawmakers: ‘I Don’t Need Crazy Getting In The Way’. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu slammed ‘nonsense’ conspiracy theories spread by state Republicans.”
  • From the Pravda dept: “Trump’s new social media platform could face legal issues after allegedly ripping off code. Trump made his fortune slapping his name on things other people built. Apparently, not much has changed.”—”Users who were able to access and create accounts on a beta version of Trump’s ‘TRUTH Social’ through a backdoor immediately noticed that it bore an uncanny resemblance to Mastodon, an alternative social network known for its focus on privacy and ‘free speech’ values.” “TRUTH Social’s terms of service claim that ‘all source code’ is proprietary, despite the fact that Mastodon requires anyone using its code base to acknowledge where its software came from and make any copied code public.”
  • Ahead of Jan. 6, Willard hotel in downtown D.C. was a Trump team ‘command center’ for effort to deny Biden the presidency. New details about the operation underscore the extent to which Trump and a handful of true believers were working until the last possible moment to subvert the will of the voters, seeking to pressure Vice President Pence to delay or even block certification of the election.” Tweet—”Like… the Washington Post has a big piece today about the specifics of Trump’s attempts to overturn the election using January 6… and that’s great. But by next week they’ll be back to treating him as a totally legitimate 2024 candidate.”
  • From the Devil in the Details dept: “LETTER: Beware the GOP banner“—”Not meaning to impugn any local Republicans, I see it as hardly accidental that in more recent years the stars on the back of the elephant have been rotated just enough to effectively signify the demon, goat god Baphomet. All Republicans, and most especially leaders of the party, need to notice this difference. Members would do well to storm GOP headquarters, ask a few questions and insist upon a return to the original design of the logo, which had one point of each star pointing straight upward. Only in this configuration do we have a true American star.”
  • From the You Say That Like It’s A Bad Thing dept: “Christianity’s Marginalizaion in the West and Its Link to the Enlightenment Age’s Philosophies“—”The devastating work of the Enlightenment Period’s philosophies and their jarring conspiracy to destroy the Christian religion is a shocking travesty from the quaint showroom of history. This strange, obscure historical period fostered a dramatic polarization between good and evil that literally turned Western civilization on its head.” “The sudden appearance of rogue ideas such as tolerance, political correctness, and moral relativism has done incalculable, irredeemable damage both to society and the Christian Church.”
  • Rightwing pundit Candace Owens suggests US invade Australia to ‘free an oppressed people’. The high-profile conservative commentator described Australia as a ‘tyrannical police state’ during an episode of her self-titled TV show.”
  • Tweet thread—”Hey everyone. My name is Amanda, and I have been undercover as a MAGA since the 2020 November Stop the Steal Rally in Washington, DC.” “If you only learn one thing from me, make it this. Right wing populists are not our friends. The anti gay, anti poc, anticommunist, antisemitic rhetoric I hear all the time scares me, and should scare you, too. Freedom is merely privilege extended, unless enjoyed by one and all.”
  • Capitol Rioters in Jail’s ‘Patriot Wing’ Have Their Own Rituals and a Growing Fan Base. Experts worry that a lack of de-radicalization efforts in jail could mean inmates falling further into the narrative that led to the January 6 violence in the first place.”
  • ‘New Democrats’ Break With Their Anti-Welfare Past And Back Biden’s Agenda. Rep. Suzan DelBene of Washington state is the centrist Democrat at the center of everything.” Ugh. I appreciate the support for the policy, but New Democrat=centrist Democrat=old school Republican; change my mind. Personally, I’d thank you for some left left in my left, damnit.
  • Five military veterans advising Sen. Sinema resign, calling her one of the ‘principal obstacles to progress’“—”You have become one of the principal obstacles to progress, answering to big donors rather than your own people. We shouldn’t have to buy representation from you, and your failure to stand by your people and see their urgent needs is alarming. We do not know who has your ear, but it clearly isn’t us or your constituents.”
  • “Short Imagined Monologues. It Would Be Un-American to Support Legislation That Doesn’t Directly Benefit Me.”—”I love the smell of undoing progress in the morning! I might be a Democrat, but I am not one of those silly, naïve Democrats who care more about the people they represent than their own interests. Also, let’s face it, as a Democrat from West Virginia, I’m basically just three Republicans in a trench coat.”
  • Republicans Are Planning to Hijack the Next Election. Dems Are Squandering Their Chance to Stop Them. They have no strategy to pass their voting rights bill.”
  • From the No gods! No masters! dept: “Barbados Elects Its First Head of State, Replacing Queen Elizabeth. The country’s Parliament chose Sandra Mason, the governor general, to assume the symbolic title, a decisive move to distance itself from Barbados’s colonial past.”
  • Socialist barred from NYC major debate asks: ‘What are they afraid of?’“—”Electoral debates in the city of New York are a game of pay-to-play. If a campaign cannot raise hundreds of thousands in funds within a short amount of time they are barred from the conversation, and New Yorkers lose out on hearing about policies they need and deserve. Billionaires and millionaires put forward their candidates, while candidates that represent working-class interests, like Cathy Rojas are effectively silenced.”
  • Americans indifferent as we slouch toward ‘second coming’“—”At some point, these right-wing populist movements become more than their individual progenitor. ‘The falcon cannot hear the falconer.’ Neither can true believers listen to reason, or even the words of their beloved demagogue; rational thought gives way to a religious-like zeal, when even basic political choices seem redolent of societal collapse. Yet most Americans seem blithely indifferent to the rapacious pests gnawing at the very frame of our country’s democracy. Most of us can manage but a desultory shrug when confronted with the clear and present danger to our right to free and fair elections; a danger that menaces more with the passing of each day. And if ‘the best of (us) lack all conviction,’ it is horrifyingly obvious that these would-be usurpers of democracy ‘are full of passionate intensity.'”
  • A worker in Florida applied to 60 entry-level jobs in September and got one interview. Businesses across the US say they are struggling to find employees, especially for hourly work. Joey Holz decided to test their claims, submitting two applications a day in September. Holz got one interview, and his summary of the experiment went viral on multiple platforms.”
  • When a Miscarriage Becomes a Jail Sentence. National Advocates for Pregnant Women painted a grim picture of pregnant people increasingly being prosecuted around the country for a miscarriage.”
  • BBC Expected To Quit Stonewall’s LGBTQ Diversity Programme. LGBTQ staff at the BBC told VICE World News they are “super scared” by the implications of the decision.”
  • As a Woman Was Raped, Train Riders Failed to Intervene, Police Say. The SEPTA train car near Philadelphia had several passengers aboard but none called 911 while the woman was sexually assaulted, the authorities said.”
  • Alabama pastor who raped teen gets probation. Here’s why.
  • From 2016: “There is no such thing as western civilisation. The values of liberty, tolerance and rational inquiry are not the birthright of a single culture. In fact, the very notion of something called ‘western culture’ is a modern invention.”
  • Tweet—”There has not been a single day of the olive harvest in the West Bank this month without violence/theft against Palestinians. This isn’t a failure of the Israeli system, but rather evidence of its success.”
  • Tweet thread—”Our client, Ahmed Rabbani, has been cleared for release from Guantánamo, a unanimous decision by six US Government agencies. Detained without charge or trial for 19 years, Ahmed has never met his son, Jawad, who was born after he was taken into US custody. 🧵1/3″ “Ahmed’s case is one of mistaken identity. Although the US realised they had the wrong man within two days, they took him to Afghanistan and tortured him in black sites for 545 days. The abuse he was subjected to is documented in a US Senate torture report. 2/3”
  • Support for ‘All Lives Matters’ linked to implicit racism and narrow definitions of discrimination“—”‘It obviously can’t just mean that ‘All Lives Matter,’ because (1) people say it as though it contradicts ‘Black Lives Matter,’ but (2) anyone who believes ‘All Lives Matter’ must also believe that ‘Black Lives Matter’ (Black lives are a subset of all lives, so the logic is inescapable),’ West said. “So I started designing research to get at what ‘All Lives Matter’ was really saying.’ ‘Looking at the stats, when someone says ‘All Lives Matter,’ what they’re really saying is something like (1) I have anti-Black racist sentiments that I haven’t acknowledged, (2) I prefer not to think about race at all and (3) I define anti-Black discrimination in such narrow terms that it’s really hard to recognize it,’ West told PsyPost.”
  • A new project details newspapers’ role in lynchings post-1865. A historian says newspapers were a pillar to uphold the white-supremacist political economy. “Printing Hate” is a new series on newspapers’ role in instigating racial violence from 1865-1960s. Some newspapers served as mouthpieces for a white supremacist agenda, a historian told Insider. She said newspapers often worked with white leaders to thwart Black economic aspirations.” See “Printing Hate“.
  • J&J is using a bankruptcy maneuver to block lawsuits over baby powder cancer claims“—”Johnson & Johnson is drawing criticism after using a controversial bankruptcy maneuver to block roughly 38,000 lawsuits linked to claims that its talc baby powder was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos.”
  • Indiana town will give you cash and ‘grandparents on demand’ if you move there“—”Greensburg, Indiana will pay people a total of $7,000 in cash and gift incentives and give eligible candidates free grandparents to live there. The state of Indiana aims to entice remote workers to Greensburg not just with cash but with a ‘Grandparent on Demand.'”
  • From the Brandon Lee dept: “Alec Baldwin Was Told Gun in Fatal Shooting on Set Was Safe, Officials Say. The actor was told a gun being used as a prop was safe before he fired it on the set of ‘Rust,’ killing the film’s cinematographer and wounding its director, law enforcement officials said.” Also “‘Rust’ crew describes on-set gun safety issues and misfires days before fatal shooting.” Nice use of passive voice there: “Baldwin removed the gun from its holster once without incident, but the second time he did so, ammunition flew toward the trio around the monitor.” Zombies made the ammunition fly! Tweet thread—”I am not going to share backchannel rumors or speculation I’m hearing but I will answer a few things about movies and guns that people are asking (thread)” “One is: ‘how are there not safety measures to prevent this?’ The answer is: There are. There are very, very many.”
  • How to Survive in a World of Information Overload. Pursuing knowledge is great until it becomes a distraction.”—”Ask yourself, ‘How would the person I want to become spend their time tomorrow?'”
  • Multilevel Marketing Scams Expose Capitalism’s Foundational Lie. Pyramid schemes aren’t a corruption of capitalism — they’re a microcosm of how the class system arbitrarily creates winners and losers while falsely promising opportunity for all.”
  • Don’t Give in to the Culture Industry’s Appeals to Nostalgia. The culture industry keeps churning out reboots and remakes, hoping to exploit a popular sense of nostalgia for gentler times. But tapping into nostalgia is a fundamentally conservative project, designed to arrest the future that we still desperately need to construct.”
  • Friends with Benefits. INVISIBILIA. Season 8, Episode 4. October 21, 20212:47 PM ET”—”There’s a social script for how romantic relationships are supposed to develop, and that script can make it hard for us to become physically intimate with friends and keep being friends—nothing more, nothing less. In this episode, we try to understand what would be possible if we didn’t draw such stark lines between sex and friendship, and how to repair things when the line-crossing gets messy.”
  • Tweet—”Yesterday I rented a boat and took the leader of one of Flexport’s partners in Long Beach on a 3 hour of the port complex. Here’s a thread about what I learned.” “It seems that everyone now agrees that the bottleneck is yard space at the container terminals. The terminals are simply overflowing with containers, which means they no longer have space to take in new containers either from ships or land. It’s a true traffic jam.” “This is a negative feedback loop that is rapidly cycling out of control that if it continues unabated will destroy the global economy.” “When you’re designing an operation you must choose your bottleneck. If the bottleneck appears somewhere that you didn’t choose it, you aren’t running an operation. It’s running you.” Also “What America’s Supply-Chain Backlog Looks Like Up Close. Dozens of container ships have been waiting to unload at the port.”
  • Museum Starts OnlyFans Account After Its TikTok Is Banned for Posting Nudes. A consortium of museums opened an OnlyFans account as part of its ‘Vienna Laid Bare Campaign.'”—”A consortium of museums in Vienna have created an OnlyFans account to post nude artworks as part of a ‘new wave of prudishness’ on social media platforms. The so-called ‘Vienna Laid Bare’ initiative was launched by Vienna’s tourism board late last week along with its OnlyFans account. As of writing subscribers can receive a complimentary Vienna City Card, or a ticket for one of the museums featured on the account. Helena Hartlauer, a spokesperson for the Vienna Tourism Board, told Motherboard that the museums launched the initiative after the city’s museums had their social media accounts suspended for uploading nude artworks.” Watch “Vienna strips on OnlyFans.”
  • ‘Shrooms! Shamans! Kosher LSD! Why Los Angeles Is Suddenly Tripping Out. COVER STORY: Housewives in the Hills are doing it. Hipsters in Los Feliz, too. L.A. has became ground zero for a new hallucinogen boom, with ayahuas ca ceremonies now as common as barbecues. But is microdosing shrooms really the answer to what ails Angelenos?”
  • Court Rules Pablo Escobar’s Cocaine Hippos Are Legally People. More than 80 hippos in Colombia are the first non-human creatures to be legally considered people by a U.S. court.”
  • Ouija Scramble from Shadowside Games—”Ouija Scramble is a one-page solo roleplaying game where you seek to interpret messages conveyed by spirits. As a renowned psychic medium, you randomly draw letters that represent each word in a spirit’s message. Through rolls, you determine what type of spirit has made contact, then interpret the message for your client.”
  • Star Trek Adventures: Tricorder Collector’s Box Set” from Modiphius, due Q1 2022—”The Tricorder Collector’s Boxed Set opens like the tricorder from the original series, and includes everything you need to play Star Trek Adventures! Featuring updated original era layout and art throughout, this digest-sized boxed set is as charming as James T. Kirk and as practical as Spock!”
  • Limited Edition Violinmaster Telecaster Relic—”This beautiful hand-made instrument is inspired by and crafted in tribute to the famous “Gibson-Huberman” Stradivarius violin built by Antonio Stradivari in 1713 and now owned by Grammy award-winning violinist Joshua Bell.” Watch “Building the Violinmaster with Yuriy Shishkov | Dream Factory | Fender”—”Based on the legendary “Huberman” Stradivarius violin, the Yuriy Shishkov Violinmaster translates one of the world’s most prized instruments – now owned by renowned violinist Joshua Bell – into guitar form. Limited to 60 guitars, the striking model features a hollow flame maple body, patent pending floating bridge with interchangeable saddles and combination of piezo and electronic pickups — and comes complete with an authentic European hand-polished violin varnish.”
  • Locke & Key, season 2, is available over on Netflix. “This magical mystery is based on the acclaimed, best-selling graphic novels co-created by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez.” Watch “Locke and Key Trailer | Season 2 | Netflix.”
  • Watch “Maya and the Three | Official Trailer | Netflix”—”Multiply your courage, by the power of three on an epic journey to save a fantastical world. Three outcasts from three distant lands, Chimi (The Skull Warrior), Rico (The Rooster Wizard) and Picchu (The Puma Barbarian) will join Maya (The Eagle Warrior) on her mighty quest to stop Lord Mictlan (The god of war) and fulfill an ancient prophecy. Maya and the Three begins October 22 only on Netflix.”
  • So, Villeneuve’s Dune arrived Wednesday. Or, I should say, part one arrived, with part two only in pre-production. I have … complex feelings about it. For me this new film does not replace the other adaptations, which, perhaps controversially, each of which I enjoy in themselves, but, like going to multiple presentations of the same Shakespearean play, they seem to me to each have things the others explore differently, and combined with the text all come together as a complex whole significantly greater than the parts. But, I’ve watched this one 5 times already, so, you know, it’s a thing. I may try to pull my thoughts together at some point. But, until then there’s these and this following item of joy:
  • James McAvoy, Son Of Dune, Has Advice For His Father, Dune Star Timothée Chalamet“—”But I’ll tell you what’s one really good piece of advice that was given to me once, was by the cast of … what was the show called again? Farscape. And it was at the L.A. premiere of Children of Dune, and they said to me, that the thing with this sh*t, i.e. science fiction, is that you have to believe it more than you believe good writing. Good writing, you can just do. It’s easier. But this stuff is hard, because it’s so bonkers, you know what I mean? And I’ve really, I’ve always remembered that advice and taken it to heart. It’s so kept me going really, through a lot of science fiction and fantasy work that I’ve done. Because it was Claudia Black that said it. And I think that’s just good advice for any actor doing any kind of science fiction and/or fantasy, you know?” Also tweet—”As the new #Dune premieres in London I’ll share a lil story. I’m the actor in this article whom James McAvoy quotes-pretty bonkers in and of itself. What tickles me about *his* story is that our respective recollections of our encounter are very different in sweet, powerful ways.”

Omnium Gatherum: 20oct2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for October 20, 2021

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

  • Lore & Disorder. An Anthology Of Mutated Folklore Fiction. Pay What You Can. All proceeds go to Fareshare. Edited By Magda Knight & Rym Kechacha. Foreword By Andy Paciorek. AUTHORS C.B. Blanchard ~ Peter Haynes ~ Tom Hirons ~ Verity Holloway ~ Natasha Kindred ~ Elizabeth Lee ~ Tobi Ogundiran ~ George Sandison ~ David Southwell ~ Sylvia Warren ~ Aliya Whiteley.”
  • What does George Orwell’s garden tell us about his writing, you ask? Everything.” About Orwell’s Roses [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Rebecca Solnit—”A lush exploration of roses, pleasure, and politics, and a fresh take on George Orwell as an avid gardener whose political writing was grounded in his passion for the natural world. “In the year 1936 a writer planted roses.” So begins Rebecca Solnit’s new book, a reflection on George Orwell’s passionate gardening and the way that his involvement with plants, particularly flowers, and the natural world illuminates his other commitments as a writer and antifascist, and the intertwined politics of nature and power. Sparked by her unexpected encounter with the surviving roses he planted in 1936, Solnit’s account of this understudied aspect of Orwell’s life explores his writing and his actions–from going deep into the coal mines of England, fighting in the Spanish Civil War, critiquing Stalin when much of the international left still supported him (and then critiquing that left), to his analysis of the relationship between lies and authoritarianism. Through Solnit’s celebrated ability to draw unexpected connections, readers encounter the photographer Tina Modotti’s roses and her Stalinism, Stalin’s obsession with forcing lemons to grow in impossibly cold conditions, Orwell’s slave-owning ancestors in Jamaica, Jamaica Kincaid’s critique of colonialism and imperialism in the flower garden, and the brutal rose industry in Colombia that supplies the American market. The book draws to a close with a rereading of Nineteen Eighty-Four that completes her portrait of a more hopeful Orwell, as well as a reflection on pleasure, beauty, and joy as acts of resistance.”
  • Tweet—”SAVE THE DATE: 04 November, 6-8pm. Virtual book launch: ‘Fantasy, Online Misogyny and the Manosphere: Male Bodies of Dis/Inhibition’ With Candida Yates (Bournemouth University), John Mercer (Birmingham City University), Diego Semerene (University of Amsterdam). Reg link coming soon.” About Fantasy, Online Misogyny and the Manosphere: Male Bodies of Dis/Inhibition [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Jacob Johanssen—”This book presents the first in-depth study of online misogyny and the manosphere from a psychoanalytic perspective. The author argues that the men of the manosphere present contradictory thoughts, desires and fantasies about women which include but also go beyond misogyny. They are in a state of dis/inhibition: torn between (un)conscious forces and fantasies which erupt and are defended against. Dis/inhibition shows itself in self-victimization and defensive apathy as well as toxic agency and symbolic power and expresses itself in desire for and hatred of other bodies. The text draws on the psychoanalytic thinkers Klaus Theweleit, Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, Jessica Benjamin and Wilhelm Reich to present detailed analyses of the communities within the so-called manosphere, including incels, Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW), alt-right YouTubers and NoFap users. Drawing on wider discussions about the status of sexuality in contemporary neoliberal technoculture since the sexual revolution of the late 1960s, it illuminates how sexuality, racism and images of the white male body shape the fantasies and affects of many men on the internet and beyond. Integrating a unique theoretical framework to help understand how today’s increase in online misogyny relates to the alt-right and fascism, Online Misogyny and the Manosphere is an important resource for academics in a variety of fields including psychoanalysis, media and communication studies, internet studies, masculinity research and more.”
  • Listening to Black Women: The Innovation Tech Can’t Figure Out. Tech creators and journalists ignore the insights and experiences of Black women—and fail to see the harm of their ‘innovations.'” About Lurking: How a Person Became a User [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Joanne McNeil—”A concise but wide-ranging personal history of the internet from—for the first time—the point of view of the user. In a shockingly short amount of time, the internet has bound people around the world together and torn us apart and changed not just the way we communicate but who we are and who we can be. It has created a new, unprecedented cultural space that we are all a part of—even if we don’t participate, that is how we participate—but by which we’re continually surprised, betrayed, enriched, befuddled. We have churned through platforms and technologies and in turn been churned by them. And yet, the internet is us and always has been. In Lurking, Joanne McNeil digs deep and identifies the primary (if sometimes contradictory) concerns of people online: searching, safety, privacy, identity, community, anonymity, and visibility. She charts what it is that brought people online and what keeps us here even as the social equations of digital life—what we’re made to trade, knowingly or otherwise, for the benefits of the internet—have shifted radically beneath us. It is a story we are accustomed to hearing as tales of entrepreneurs and visionaries and dynamic and powerful corporations, but there is a more profound, intimate story that hasn’t yet been told. Long one of the most incisive, ferociously intelligent, and widely respected cultural critics online, McNeil here establishes a singular vision of who we are now, tells the stories of how we became us, and helps us start to figure out what we do now.”
  • The Wires of War: Technology and the Global Struggle for Power [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Jacob Helberg—”From the former news policy lead at Google, an urgent and groundbreaking account of the high-stakes global cyberwar brewing between Western democracies and the autocracies of China and Russia that could potentially crush democracy. From 2016 to 2020, Jacob Helberg led Google’s global internal product policy efforts to combat disinformation and foreign interference. During this time, he found himself in the midst of what can only be described as a quickly escalating two-front technology cold war between democracy and autocracy. On the front-end, we’re fighting to control the software—applications, news information, social media platforms, and more—of what we see on the screens of our computers, tablets, and phones, a clash which started out primarily with Russia but now increasingly includes China and Iran. Even more ominously, we’re also engaged in a hidden back-end battle—largely with China—to control the Internet’s hardware, which includes devices like cellular phones, satellites, fiber-optic cables, and 5G networks. This tech-fueled war will shape the world’s balance of power for the coming century as autocracies exploit twenty-first-century methods to re-divide the world into twentieth century-style spheres of influence. Helberg cautions that the spoils of this fight are power over every meaningful aspect of our lives, including our economy, our infrastructure, our national security, and ultimately, our national sovereignty. Without a firm partnership with the government, Silicon Valley is unable to protect democracy from the autocrats looking to sabotage it from Beijing to Moscow and Tehran. The stakes of the ongoing cyberwar are no less than our nation’s capacity to chart its own future, the freedom of our democratic allies, and even the ability of each of us to control our own fates, Helberg says. And time is quickly running out.”
  • White dwarf star is spotted ‘switching on and off’ in 30 minutes – a process previously only seen over a period of days to months. Researchers used a NASA planet-hunting telescope to observe a white dwarf. It is 1,400 light years from the Earth in a binary pairing with a smaller companion. The white dwarf is pulling hydrogen and other matter from its partner star. The team observed a strange abrupt change from feeding to not feeding. This was caused by the magnetic field blocking mater from hitting the star.”
  • Tweet—”SOUND ON: Geologists note the sound of lava flow on Spain’s La Palma sounds ‘like broken glass.’ Officials say 1,826 buildings had been destroyed by the lava flow from the island’s volcano since eruptions began on September 19.”
  • In a First, Surgeons Attached a Pig Kidney to a Human — and It Worked. A kidney grown in a genetically altered pig seemed to function normally, potentially a new source for desperately needed transplant organs.”
  • Scientists Show How They Gave A 70,000-Year-Old Neanderthal His Smile.”
  • Watch “7,000-year-old remains of young Indonesian woman reshape views on early human migration“—”Genetic material found in the remains of a young woman who died 7,000 years ago in Indonesia has altered theories about early human migration in Asia. Researchers nicknamed the teenager Besse, which means “newborn baby girl” in the regional language where the bones were found. Researchers say Besse descended from Austronesian people known to live in Southeast Asia and Oceania at the time, but she also had a small amount of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) from the Denisovans, a group of ancient humans named after a cave in Siberia where their remains were first found. The discovery is challenging the previous theory that the groups crossed paths in Asia only 3,500 years ago.” Read the story: “Ancient Indonesian teen’s DNA reshapes views on migration and race of early humans. The teenager, named Besse by scientists, was buried in Indonesia’s Wallacea region and is one of the few well-preserved specimens found in the tropics. The DNA of her 7,000-year-old skeleton suggests mixing between early humans from Asia and Siberia occurred earlier than previously thought.”
  • Watch “Strange Structure Known As Hamilton’s Object Could Not Be Explained Until Now
  • Watch “Einstein Ring Spotted by Hubble“—”This image, taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, shows a distant galaxy located in the constellation Fornax. It is the largest and one of the most complete Einstein rings ever discovered. This object’s unusual shape is the result of gravitational lensing. Albert Einstein, in his general theory of relativity, first theorized that a large gravitational field could act as a lens.”
  • Fossilized Human Footprints Found in New Mexico“—”Researchers have discovered fossil human footprints embedded in an ancient lakebed that show humans inhabited North America during the Last Glacial Maximum, in what is now New Mexico.”
  • Watch “6-year-old finds mastodon tooth in Rochester Hills“—”A 6-year-old out on a walk with his family earlier this month found something on the ground in Rochester Hills.”
  • Watch “Deep-Sea Creature Photobombs Us While Investigating Seafloor Anomaly“—”On an overnight shift doing ecological surveys in the Red Sea, an #OceanX technician discovers an anomaly on the seafloor. Thinking that could either be “a rock or a wreck,” the team of the ship deploys the #deepsea instruments to check it out, only to make an even more intriguing #ocean discovery than they expected: a “giant” squid of between 3-5 meters (10-16 feet).”
  • Ancient dog-size sea scorpion unearthed in China. The sea scorpion was the apex predator of its time.”
  • So-called junk DNA plays critical role in mammalian development“—”Nearly half of our DNA has been written off as junk, the discards of evolution: sidelined or broken genes, viruses that got stuck in our genome and were dismembered or silenced, none of it relevant to the human organism or human evolution. But research over the last decade has shown that some of this genetic “dark matter” does have a function, primarily in regulating the expression of host genes — a mere 2% of our total genome — that code for proteins. Biologists continue to debate, however, whether these regulatory sequences of DNA play essential or detrimental roles in the body or are merely incidental, an accident that the organism can live without. A new study led by researchers at University of California, Berkeley, and Washington University explored the function of one component of this junk DNA, transposons, which are selfish DNA sequences able to invade their host genome. The study shows that at least one family of transposons — ancient viruses that have invaded our genome by the millions — plays a critical role in viability in the mouse, and perhaps in all mammals. When the researchers knocked out a specific transposon in mice, half their mouse pups died before birth. This is the first example of a piece of “junk DNA” being critical to survival in mammals.”
  • Watch “Octopus In The Living Room | Octopus In My House | BBC Earth”—”A professor creates the perfect home for his new tentacled friend.”
  • Melting of polar ice shifting Earth itself, not just sea levels. Research by new Ph.D. finds warping of planet’s crust, with far-reaching effects.”—”The melting of polar ice is not only shifting the levels of our oceans, it is changing the planet Earth itself. Newly minted Ph.D. Sophie Coulson and her colleagues explained in a recent paper in Geophysical Research Letters that, as glacial ice from Greenland, Antarctica, and the Arctic Islands melts, Earth’s crust beneath these land masses warps, an impact that can be measured hundreds and perhaps thousands of miles away.”
  • Lake Tahoe waters plummet as drought, climate change plague resort“—”Lake Tahoe’s water level has dropped so low that water is no longer flowing into the Truckee River and salmon aren’t expected to spawn in a major tributary this year.”
  • Watch “REAL holograms are finally here! (And they look very cool)“—”Forget science fiction — Silicon Valley start-up Light Field Lab has created a hologram so real that I could put my hand right through it.”
  • Tweet—”How are NFTs not just like ‘naming a star’ or ‘adopting a dolphin’ but for grown men with too much money instead of eight year old children?” Tweet—”when the Non-Fun Token is ‘mined’, a whole hell of a lot of energy is wasted, which leads to ecological damage. so it’s the moral equivalent of an “adopt-a-dolphin” program in which, when an 8 yr old adopts one, a dolphin is secretly set on fire.”
  • Tweet—”BREAKING: I just added Mark Zuckerberg as a defendant in my lawsuit against Facebook. Our continuing investigation revealed that he was personally involved in decisions related to Cambridge Analytica and Facebook’s failure to protect user data.” Also “Mark Zuckerberg will be added to a Facebook privacy lawsuit. Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, had an active role in decisions that are under scrutiny, the District of Columbia’s attorney general said.”
  • Yeah, cuz that’ll fix it: “Facebook is planning to rebrand the company with a new name. Mark Zuckerberg wants to be known for building the metaverse.”—”Facebook isn’t the first well-known tech company to change its company name as its ambitions expand. In 2015, Google reorganized entirely under a holding company called Alphabet, partly to signal that it was no longer just a search engine, but a sprawling conglomerate with companies making driverless cars and health tech. And Snapchat rebranded to Snap Inc. in 2016, the same year it started calling itself a “camera company” and debuted its first pair of Spectacles camera glasses. I’m told that the new Facebook company name is a closely-guarded secret within its walls and not known widely, even among its full senior leadership. A possible name could have something to do with Horizon, the name of the still-unreleased VR version of Facebook-meets-Roblox that the company has been developing for the past few years. The name of that app was recently tweaked to Horizon Worlds shortly after Facebook demoed a version for workplace collaboration called Horizon Workrooms.”
  • Tweet—”Holy crap, this WSJ report on Facebook. It’s even worse than I expected. ‘He estimated the company’s automated systems removed posts that generated just 2% of the views of hate speech on the platform that violated its rules.’ /1″
  • Facebook Says AI Will Clean Up the Platform. Its Own Engineers Have Doubts. AI has only minimal success in removing hate speech, violent images and other problem content, according to internal company reports.”
  • Israel’s ‘AI Kill’ against Iran has no long-term strategic benefit, but profound moral and legal ramifications. Israel’s alleged use of AI in its assassination program against Iranian nuclear scientists may have enamoured its admirers, but offers no long-term benefit and plenty of moral and legal danger, writes Richard Silverstein.”
  • Gaggle Surveils Millions of Kids in the Name of Safety. Targeted Families Argue it’s ‘Not That Smart’“—”Schools nationwide have increasingly relied on technological tools that purport to keep kids safe, yet there’s a dearth of independent research to back up their claims.”
  • ‘Stalkerware’ Apps Are Proliferating. Protect Yourself. These spyware apps record your conversations, location and everything you type, all while camouflaged as a calculator or calendar.”
  • Local TV Programming Disrupted as Sinclair Hit by Ransomware Attack. Sinclair, which owns 184 stations, said Monday that ‘the event has caused — and may continue to cause — disruption to parts of the company’s business.'”
  • Microsoft Executives Told Bill Gates to Stop Emailing a Female Staffer Years Ago. Top lawyer, HR chief informed some Microsoft directors they told billionaire co-founder that his emails with female employee were inappropriate.”
  • She pulled herself from addiction by learning to code. Now this Kirkland software developer is leading a worker uprising at Apple“—”‘Apple does not care about its employees. It cares about money,’ Scarlett said in an interview. ‘Maybe that’s capitalism, and that’s just the way corporations are. But I can’t live my life further accepting it and not saying something about it.’ Scarlett is part of a growing chorus of tech workers — many of them women — challenging the power centers of Silicon Valley, where some of them allege companies are still run like frat houses and discrimination against women and racial minorities continues to make headlines. In recent years, more than 20,000 Google employees staged a walkout to protest sexual misconduct and inequality, while Black women at Pinterest accused the company of discrimination and retaliation. Just last month, Amazon settled a wrongful termination suit against two women it fired after they publicly criticized the company’s climate policies.”
  • New York Passes Sweeping Bills to Improve Conditions for Delivery Workers. A package of legislation from the City Council set minimum pay and working conditions, placing New York at the forefront of regulating a multibillion-dollar industry.”
  • Agile as Trauma“—”The Agile Manifesto is an immune response on the part of programmers to bad management. The document is an expression of trauma, and its intellectual descendants continue to carry this baggage. While the Agile era has brought about remarkable advancements in project management techniques and development tools, it remains a tactical, technical, and ultimately reactionary movement. As long as Agile remains in this position it will be liable to backfire, vulnerable to the very depredations of bad management it had initially evolved to counter. In order to begin to heal, it is important to place Agile in a wider context. Many of the substantive ideas associated with Agile predate it by between about 20 and 30 years. This is not an accusation of plagiarism; rather it is an assertion that there are idiosyncrasies of software development that are invariant even as technique and technology improves, and so you are bound to recapitulate these patterns eventually.” “To quote Frederick Brooks, the more collaboration the better is far from a self-evident proposition and certainly not universally true. True indeed, to the extent that collaboration divides labour, but questionable as a fraction of one’s activity. Since communication overhead increases proportionally the square of the number of people on the team—a fact illuminated by Brooks in the 1970s—what you actually want is as little collaboration as you can get away with.”
  • Latvia is first country to reimpose lockdown in Europe’s new Covid wave. Baltic state once seen as coronavirus success story announces month of restrictions including curfew.”
  • A Data Sleuth Challenged A Powerful COVID Scientist. Then He Came After Her. Elisabeth Bik calls out bad science for a living. A feud with one of the world’s loudest hydroxychloroquine crusaders shows that it can carry a high price.”
  • A Florida school says vaccinated students must stay home for 30 days after each shot, citing a false claim that they’ll infect others. Centner Academy in Miami, Florida said any student who gets vaccinated must quarantine for 30 days. The school is promoting a dangerous, debunked rumor that vaccinated students can infect others. An infectious-disease expert who spoke with WSVN characterized the false claim as ‘science fiction.'”
  • Hold up. “Police in Bensalem, Pennsylvania have issued explicit warnings suggesting that the trend could cause a panic and lead to pandemonium in their community.” Bensalem were the same bumblefucks that made up that news about pot edibles being given out! “TikTok Users Are Committing an Array of Sins as Part of the Hellmaxxing Trend.” Seems to me the police in Bensalem may need some edibles so they can chill the hellmax out. Or maybe they ate too many and are freakin’ themselves out? Dare I say? Someone needs to do a wellness check on the police in Bensalem. They may have dipped a bit too deep into the meth in their evidence locker. In other news, I’ve found the actual source of the panic and pandemonium, and it’s coming from inside the police station. Wonder what else they’re afraid of? Monsters under their bed? Aliens from space coming to probe them?
  • West Memphis police ordered to respond to records request on evidence in West Memphis 3 case.” Tweet—”Dear @westmemphispd , what are you going to do now? You’ve lied. You’ve repeatedly broken the law, and hid from your legal responsibilities. Will an order from a Judge be enough for you to show an ounce of integrity?”
  • FBI agents swarm Washington home of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska was among two dozen Russian oligarchs and officials who were sanctioned by the Treasury Department in April 2018.”
  • House panel on Jan. 6 votes to hold Steve Bannon in contempt for defying subpoena.”
  • The jail where Jeffrey Epstein killed himself is crumbling“—”Inside the notorious federal jail in Lower Manhattan, small chunks of concrete fall from the ceiling. Freezing temperatures force inmates to stuff old coronavirus face masks into vents to try to stop the cold air. One cell is off-limits because the door is now unstable – likely because of the constant pounding over the years from the prisoners inside on the cinder block walls. Once hailed as a prototype for a new kind of federal jail and the most secure in the country, the Metropolitan Correctional Center has become a blighted wreck, so deteriorated it’s impossible to safely house inmates The Justice Department said last month it would close the jail in the next months to undertake much-needed repairs – but it may never reopen.”
  • Senate Republicans again poised to block sweeping voting rights bill. Obstructionist effort to stop Freedom to Vote Act likely to increase pressure on Democrats to do away with filibuster.”
  • The cowardice of Senate Republicans blocking a qualified Muslim’s confirmation. If Republicans believe Dilawar Syed should not be confirmed, they should show up, vote against him and explain why they are doing so.”
  • Joe Manchin’s ugly new demands expose the absurdity of arbitrary centrism. How Manchin’s efforts to shrink Biden’s agenda reveals the hollowness of the centrist worldview.”
  • Tweet—”The Biden commission on SCOTUS reform has released a long interim document in advance of its final report. Here’s its bottom line on proposals to expand the Court: a balanced Court is (1) overrated; and (2) may “reinforce the notion that the Justices are partisan actors.” Tweet—”Absolutely incredible sentence. “Even though the court *is* a partisan institution, it would be bad if people thought of it that way.” Tweet—”Trash outcome is trash.”
  • Veterans are ready to join the fight for electoral reform“—”Nearly half of all U.S. veterans are independent or “unaffiliated” voters. Following a recent change in Maine, 13 states now use closed primaries, where independents are excluded from participating in publicly funded primary elections. Other states severely limit the participation of unaffiliated voters. Congress has a dismal approval rating, consistently in the 15 percent to 25 percent range, and yet 95 percent of members are re-elected. And, because of uncompetitive districts, in 2020, only 10 percent of eligible voters elected 83 percent of our Congress. The primary election has become the primary problem in this country.”
  • Poorly devised regulation lets firms pollute with abandon. A recent study finds that firms at risk of punishment cut their exhaust by 7% when the government is watching.”
  • The wealthiest Americans now own almost all of the stock market – 89% to be exact. The top 10% of Americans now hold 89% of corporate equities and mutual-fund shares, a record high. The top 1% alone hold over half the stocks owned by households, according to the Federal Reserve.”—”America’s highest earners broke a few records during the pandemic.”
  • A Trans Janitor Walks Into A Liberal Country Club. The millionaires of Portland, Oregon have a place where they can live out their class fantasies. And I was there to play my part.”
  • The Next Stage of American Collapse. America Got a Second Chance at Democracy — And It’s Blowing It, Badly.”—”American democracy survived fascism by a hair’s breadth. Trumpism was, yes, the rise of very real fascism in America. It was replete with everything from concentration camps to kids in them being “separated” from their mothers and fathers — which is a form of genocide — to minorities being hunted in the streets and seeking refuge in “salvation cities” to “bans” on whole ethnicities. American democracy almost didn’t survive that. It got very, very lucky. The pundits will say it was a test of strength — but only the weakest democracies plunge that far into fascism to begin with. American democracy didn’t survive fascism because of the strength of its institutions, or the robustness of its judiciary, or even the sentiments of its populace — but because a handful of brave police officers at the Capitol prevented a paramilitary mob of supremacists from massacring everyone in their way in order to stop votes from being counted and certified.” “Now America has something very, very few societies get: a second chance at democracy. But — and here I have to be painfully honest with you — it’s blowing it, badly.” “Ailing states become failing states become fascist states.” “What happened to America during the 1930s? Why didn’t it end up like Germany? After all, it may have been forgotten now, but portions of America were sympathetic to the Nazis then. The reason America didn’t end up a fascist state then is very, very simple. If you understand the above, you should already have figured it out by now. It had a New Deal. How big was the New Deal? It was about half of America’s GDP. That is what it took to repair a society shattered by depression and poverty. By now, you probably know the story of the New Deal. Millions were put to work rebuilding society’s infrastructure. Back then, “infrastructure” was roads and bridges and so forth. What is it today? It’s hospital and schools and universities. It’s millions of small businesses, every artist or sculptor or engineer with a dream. It’s healthcare systems and retirement systems. It’s public spaces like parks and libraries, too. All that stuff is what makes a functional modern society.” “America hasn’t invested in itself…ever. The New Deal is the only time in history that America’s invested in itself.”
  • Oakland Psychedelics Activists Launch Initiative To Legalize Community-Based Sales With Support From City Council.”
  • A Secretive Hedge Fund Is Gutting Newsrooms. Inside Alden Global Capital.”
  • Art Directors Guild Credits IATSE Members For Averted Strike: “’our Actions Shocked The World’.”
  • Squid Game on SNL: Pete Davidson and Rami Malek deliver a deadly parody. Squid Game is a hit on Netflix, but Saturday Night Live twangs it up with a country-music video twist.”
  • Watch “I Was Poised to be the First Black Astronaut. I Never Made it to Space.“—”This is the story of Ed Dwight Jr., who was invited by his country to train to be the first African-American astronaut. Back in 1963, it was hot news. But the United States never sent Dwight to space. For decades, he has maintained that he was discriminated against during his time at the Aerospace Research Pilot School, a prerequisite to NASA run by the legendary pilot Chuck Yeager. Dwight is now a prolific artist, building memorials and creating public art honoring African-American history. His footprints cannot be found on the moon. But his fingerprints can be found on sculptures across the country. ‘Almost Famous’ is a special Op-Docs series of short films directed by Ben Proudfoot featuring people who nearly made history — only to fall short. These are tales of overcoming disappointment at its most epic, from an astronaut who never flew to a superstar who never was.”
  • Watch “The Price of Freedom | Official Trailer | HBOMax”—”The Price of Freedom exposes the hidden past of the American gun debate and reveals how the outsized political and cultural influence of the National Rifle Association divided a nation and changed the course of American history, costing countless lives along the way.”
  • Watch “Why Some White Evangelicals Are Rethinking Their Politics l FiveThirtyEight“—”White evangelicals are often seen as a solidly Republican voting bloc. In the 2020 election, 84 percent of them voted for Donald Trump. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, many of Trump’s supporters began identifying as evangelical during his presidency. But white evangelicals aren’t a monolith. In our first episode of Political Outliers, meet two devout evangelicals who were raised in conservative households, but are now self-proclaimed “progressives.” They both say that their political views became more liberal as they immersed themselves deeper into their faith.”
  • Identity Fraud“—”In the long arc of the mostly moral universe, we have arrived at this uncomfortable midpoint where liberation — from racism, from sexism, from other ingrained and systemic forms of linked oppression — is still a distant dream, but the language and gestures of social justice are more mainstream than ever.”
  • Watch “The Invincible – Teaser Trailer”—”The Invincible is a first-person retro-futuristic sci-fi thriller.” The Invincible by Starward Industries—”The Invincible is a first-person Sci-Fi thriller set in a retro-future timeline. Waking up on a hostile planet, you embark on a mysterious mission to find the missing crew of your spaceship. Whilst trying to survive, terrifying secrets of the planet will unfold in front of you.” “Intriguing story inspired by Stanislaw Lem’s seminal sci-fi cult classic of the same name.” The Invincible [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Stanisław Lem, trans. Bill Johnston, foreword N Katherine Hayles—”A space cruiser, in search of its sister ship, encounters beings descended from self-replicating machines. In the grand tradition of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, Stanisław Lem’s The Invincible tells the story of a space cruiser sent to an obscure planet to determine the fate of a sister spaceship whose communication with Earth has abruptly ceased. Landing on the planet Regis III, navigator Rohan and his crew discover a form of life that has apparently evolved from autonomous, self-replicating machines—perhaps the survivors of a “robot war.” Rohan and his men are forced to confront the classic quandary: what course of action can humanity take once it has reached the limits of its knowledge? In The Invincible, Lem has his characters confront the inexplicable and the bizarre: the problem that lies just beyond analytical reach.”
  • Watch a drunken monkey style monk crusader: “Hellish Quart – Father Żera goes brrrr.” From Hellish Quart game by Kubold.
  • Watch “The Tragedy of Macbeth | Official Teaser HD | A24″—”From writer/director Joel Coen and starring Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Corey Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson, and Harry Melling. The Tragedy of Macbeth – In Theaters December 25. Streaming on Apple TV+ January 14.”
  • Watch “The Great Season 2 I Official Trailer”—”Catherine’s giving birth to the future of Russia, and she’s crowning! 👑 Join us for the coronation when The Great Season 2 premieres November 19, only on Hulu.” Tweet—”Did someone say mother? 😏”
  • Watch “TITANE – Redband Trailer. In Theaters 10.1″—”TITANE: A metal highly resistant to heat and corrosion, with high tensile strength alloys, often used in medical prostheses due to its pronounced biocompatibility.”
  • Watch “The Souvenir Part II | Official Trailer HD | A24″—”From writer-director Joanna Hogg and starring Honor Swinton Byrne, Jaygann Ayeh, Richard Ayoade, Ariane Labed, James Spencer Ashworth, Harris Dickinson, Charlie Heaton, Joe Alwyn, and Tilda Swinton. THE SOUVENIR PART II – In Theaters October 29.”
  • Mel Gibson First Star Set For ‘John Wick’ Origin Series ‘The Continental’ For Starz & Lionsgate Television“—”Mel Gibson has been set to star in The Continental, the prequel to the Keanu Reeves film series John Wick. The Continental will be presented as a three-night special-event TV series, produced for Starz by Lionsgate Television.” Oh, bummer. I’m kinda meh on Mel Gibson nowadays.
  • Watch “LICORICE PIZZA | Official Trailer | MGM Studios”—”Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.”
  • Watch “Just Beyond | Official Trailer | Disney+”—”Witches. Aliens. Ghosts. Enter a world of fantasies and fears in Just Beyond, an Original Series streaming October 13″
  • Watch “The Matrix 4 Resurrections | FINAL Full Teaser (2021) | 04:00 PM | Keanu Reeves | Carrie Anne Moss”—”From visionary filmmaker Lana Wachowski comes “The Matrix Resurrections,” the long-awaited fourth film in the groundbreaking franchise that redefined a genre. The new film reunites original stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in the iconic roles they made famous, Neo and Trinity. The film also stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (the “Aquaman” franchise) Jessica Henwick (TV’s “Iron Fist,” “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens”), Jonathan Groff (“Hamilton,” TV’s “Mindhunter”), Neil Patrick Harris (“Gone Girl”), Priyanka Chopra Jonas (TV’s “Quantico,”), Christina Ricci (TV’s “Escaping the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story,” “The Lizzie Borden Chronicles”), Telma Hopkins (TV’s “Dead to Me,”), Eréndira Ibarra (series “Sense8,” “Ingobernable”), Toby Onwumere (TV’s “Empire”), Max Riemelt (series “Sense8”), Brian J. Smith (series “Sense8,” “Treadstone”), and Jada Pinkett Smith (“Angel Has Fallen,” TV’s “Gotham”). Lana Wachowski directed from a screenplay by Wachowski & David Mitchell & Aleksander Hemon, based on characters created by The Wachowskis. The film was produced by Grant Hill, James McTeigue and Lana Wachowski. The executive producers were Garrett Grant, Terry Needham, Michael Salven, Jesse Ehrman and Bruce Berman. Wachowski’s creative team behind the scenes included “Sense8” collaborators: directors of photography Daniele Massaccesi and John Toll, production designers Hugh Bateup and Peter Walpole, editor Joseph Jett Sally, costume designer Lindsay Pugh, visual effects supervisor Dan Glass, and composers Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer.”
  • Maybe wait to watch this until tomorrow, after the Netflix walkout protest, but: “The Social Dilemma | Full Feature | Netflix”—”We tweet, we like, and we share— but what are the consequences of our growing dependence on social media? As digital platforms increasingly become a lifeline to stay connected, Silicon Valley insiders reveal how social media is reprogramming civilization by exposing what’s hiding on the other side of your screen.”
  • Watch Elvira drop a science bomb: “Netflix & Chills | Meet Dr. Elvira | Netflix”—”Did you know that watching horror and thrillers are good for your health? Don’t believe us? Hear what Dr. Elvira has to say. Come back every Sunday this October and get Dr.Elvira’s macabre prescription of Netflix & Chills.”
  • Watch “‘The Most Beautiful Boy In The World’” TRAILER”—”In 1971at the world premiere of Death in Venice in London, Italian director Luchino Visconti proclaimed Björn Andrésen, the teen star of his latest film, “The most beautiful boy in the world.” This is the story of a boy who was thrust to international stardom for his iconic looks and lived a life of glamour. 50 years later, Björn looks back. The film opens theatrically in the United States at THE QUAD CINEMA in New York on September 24rd and will play at the festivals prior to that.”
  • Watch “The Harder They Fall | Official Trailer | Netflix”—”This ain’t your grandaddy’s Western! Check out Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, LaKeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Edi Gathegi, Danielle Deadwyler and Deon Cole in this action-packed thrill ride that injects New Blood into the Old West. The Harder They Fall is directed by Jeymes Samuel and produced by Shawn ‘Jay Z’ Carter James Lassiter, Jeymes Samuel and Lawrence Bender.”
  • Watch “My Name | Clip | Netflix”—”‘No one can know my enemy, my revenge and… My Name.’ My Name, a Netflix Series. For revenge, Jiwoo enters a criminal underworld and abandons her name to go undercover into the police force. What brutal truths will she face? Director Kim Jin-min of Extracurricular and Han So-hee team up for My Name, the ultimate action noir that will be released on October 15th, only on Netflix. Get a first look at the exclusive clip for My Name at TUDUM: A Netflix Global Fan Event.”
  • Watch “MEMORIA – Official Trailer”—”From the extraordinary mind of Palme D’or winning director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and starring Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton, comes a bewildering drama about a Scottish woman, who, after hearing a loud ‘bang’ at daybreak, begins experiencing a mysterious sensory syndrome while traversing the jungles of Colombia.”
  • Watch “Paradise | Official Trailer | HBO Max”—”At the end of the summer of 1992, three 15-year-old girls, Sandra, Eva and Malena disappear without a trace from a nightclub in a coastal town. When the police investigation appears to be taking the wrong direction, Javi, Sandra’s younger brother, takes the matter into his own hands. Along with the help of his friends, they discover something not of this world.”
  • Watch “Kamikaze | Official Trailer | HBO Max”—”Where do you go to find yourself when everything you love is taken away? Julie’s (Marie Reuther) life is seemingly perfect – until she receives a text that changes everything. When her parents and brother die suddenly in a plane crash on her 18th birthday, she’s left alone to reevaluate and rediscover herself and her life.”
  • Watch “Despot’s Game: Dystopian Army Builder – Out Now! | Steam Early Access Launch Trailer”—”Assemble an army and find the way out of Despot’s dungeon! Create your team and set them up for battle, then watch the chaos unfold, which allows you to focus heavily on tactical considerations rather than reflexes.” Despot’s Game: Dystopian Army Builder by Konfa Games, from tinyBuild.
  • Watch “Book of Travels introduction: The Early Access Journey | New Multiplayer Online RPG on Steam 2021″—”Our Tiny Multiplayer Online RPG ‘Book of Travels’ is out now on Steam! Be there at the start as Book of Travels enters its Early Access Journey on Steam.” Book of Travels by Might & Delight—”Ready your pack, grab your walking stick and step into a world of mystery and legend. Craft a unique character and immerse yourself in the enchanted lands of Braided Shore. Set your own goals and adventure alone or together with Travellers you meet on the road in this serene TMORPG.”
  • Watch “Trailer | BLADE RUNNER: BLACK LOTUS | adult swim”—”The world that changed the way we see sci-fi is back. Toonami and CrunchyRoll bring you BLADE RUNNER: BLACK LOTUS, coming this fall.”
  • Watch “In a Galaxy Far, Far Away, I Was Almost Anakin Skywalker | ‘Almost Famous’ by Op-Docs”—”It was the late 1990s, and 3,000 young actors around the world were scouted for the role of a lifetime. On the ride home from school, Devon Michael’s mom told him he’d be auditioning for one of the most anticipated movies ever. “The Phantom Menace” — then the next installment of the “Star Wars” franchise — was in production, and they were searching for young Anakin Skywalker. Growing up, Michael had small roles in commercials, television shows and movies. At 9 years old, he understood that an opportunity like “Star Wars” could change his life. From 3,000, the producers narrowed it down to three, and soon Michael was at Skywalker Ranch doing a test screen with George Lucas and Natalie Portman. The role ultimately went to Jake Lloyd, who experienced a level of criticism and bullying that would be alarming for even an adult actor. In Ben Proudfoot’s “The Unchosen One,” Michael shares his experience as a child actor and urges the public not to forget that they’re just kids.”
  • Watch “Peacemaker | Exclusive Clip | HBO Max”—”He’s got the looks, the car, and the best sidekick ever – all in the name of peace.”
  • Watch “Lost in Space Teaser Trailer | Final Season | Netflix”—”Official teaser trailer for the third and final season of Lost in Space. All episodes drop December 1, 2021, only on Netflix.”
  • Watch “CYRANO – Official Trailer (Universal Pictures) HD” Oh, cool! Um. Wait. Hold ON. It’s a fucking musical? Ugh! NoooOOOooOooOOOooO!
  • Watch “The most overused game graphic you never noticed | Texture Archaeology”—”The exact same brick texture is in dozens of Nintendo 64 and PlayStation games. From Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, and Final Fantasy 7, to Turok, Conker, and Mortal Kombat 3. ‘cobble_stone’ is the most overused game graphic you never noticed. Why were competing studios sharing the same graphics? ‘Texture Archaeology’ gives us the answer. The cartoonish, magical imagery from your childhood is a lot more realistic than you once thought.”
  • Watch “This Is What a ‘Second-Person’ Video Game Would Look Like
  • Watch “Hundreds strip naked by the Dead Sea in Israel”—”More than 300 people have stripped naked by the Dead Sea in Israel to draw attention to its dramatically receding shoreline. The event was part of a live installation by the artist Spencer Tunick, who’s used similar photo-shoots around the world to highlight environmental change.”
  • Watch “LEGO Transform Mech/CUBE-ROBO 07[CUBE-ARMY α].”
  • Tron™ Arcade Machine. Pre-orders open on Tuesday, 10/19 at 12 Noon EST. Use the Notify Me button to be alerted!”
  • “Simple and fast tabletop Mythos roleplaying based on THE BLACK HACK. THE CTHULHU HACK. The standalone corebook, investigations, sourcebooks, and more — all as .PDF ebooks.” The bonus collection includes The Dee Sanction, the game where players are agents of John Dee.
  • Lot #290 – SPACE: 1999 (T.V. SERIES, 1975 – 1977) – Original Screen-matched Large-scale Eagle Transporter Filming Miniature“—”An original, screen-matched, large-scale Eagle Transporter model miniature from the sci-fi television series Space: 1999.” “this is the original 44″ model used primarily for medium and close-up photography – such as take-off, landing and crashing shots – and appeared prominently in the show’s opening credits.” With an amazing gallery of images from every angle. Luscious.

Omnium Gatherum: 17oct2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for October 17, 2021

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

  • The Show review – Alan Moore brings vaudevillian dazzle to Northampton noir. Moore has created a Chandlerian shoal of red herrings, drawing viewers into a dark and dense mystery set in the very centre of England.” Available online Oct 18, but watch the trailer “The Show | Official Trailer | Altitude Films”—”Fletcher Dennis (Tom Burke), a man of many talents, passports and identities, arrives in Northampton – a strange and haunted town in the heart of England as dangerous as he is. On a mission to locate a stolen artefact for his menacing client, Fletcher finds himself entangled in a twilight world populated with vampires, sleeping beauties, Voodoo gangsters, noir private eyes, and masked avengers. He quickly sinks into a bizarre and delirious black hole, that is hidden just beneath the surface of this seemingly quiet town. Soon enough Fletcher discovers that dreams and reality have been blurred and there might no longer be a real world to go back to. Welcome to The Show. From the mind of Alan Moore.”
  • Touched by the hand of Ithell: my fascination with a forgotten surrealist. Ithell Colquhoun’s fecund, fleshy paintings were soaked in mysticism. But was she running my life from beyond the grave?” About Song of Songs at Unit London through Nov 6. “Unit London is delighted to present a group exhibition entitled, Song of Songs: Representations of the self, spirituality and states of mind in art – from modernity to the digital age, curated by Rachel Thomas, Head of Exhibitions at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The international group exhibition takes its name from a painting, Song of Songs, 1933, by the British Surrealist artist, writer and occultist, Ithell Colquhoun (1906-1988). The exhibition considers the role of how the self, the mind, and how spirituality evolves in the creation of abstract painting from its origins to the present digital age. Song of Songs embraces the many philosophical, material and ideological potentials which emerge when exploring the self in art. The exhibition includes a major and important presentation of over 12 master painting works by Ithell Colquhoun. They are hung in conversation with leading and emerging contemporary international artists such as; Linder, Bharti Kher, Anna Weyant, Elaine Hoey, Richard Malone, Grace Weir, Jesse Mockrin, Clare Ormerod, Matthew Stone, Stacey Gillian Abe, Suchitra Mattai.”
  • The Book of Magic.” Excerpt from The Book of Magic [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Alice Hoffman, book 4 of the Practical Magic series—”Master storyteller Alice Hoffman brings us the conclusion of the Practical Magic series in a spellbinding and enchanting final Owens novel brimming with lyric beauty and vivid characters. The Owens family has been cursed in matters of love for over three-hundred years but all of that is about to change. The novel begins in a library, the best place for a story to be conjured, when beloved aunt Jet Owens hears the deathwatch beetle and knows she has only seven days to live. Jet is not the only one in danger—the curse is already at work. A frantic attempt to save a young man’s life spurs three generations of the Owens women, and one long-lost brother, to use their unusual gifts to break the curse as they travel from Paris to London to the English countryside where their ancestor Maria Owens first practiced the Unnamed Art. The younger generation discovers secrets that have been hidden from them in matters of both magic and love by Sally, their fiercely protective mother. As Kylie Owens uncovers the truth about who she is and what her own dark powers are, her aunt Franny comes to understand that she is ready to sacrifice everything for her family, and Sally Owens realizes that she is willing to give up everything for love. The Book of Magic is a breathtaking conclusion that celebrates mothers and daughters, sisters and brothers, and anyone who has ever been in love.”
  • “Welcome to the Saint Heron Community Library; a growing media center dedicated to students, practicing artists and designers, musicians and general literature enthusiasts. We believe our community is deserving of access to the stylistically expansive range of Black and Brown voices in poetry, visual art, critical thought and design. The library’s focus is education, knowledge production, creative inspiration and skill development through works by artists, designers, historians, and activists from around the world. Offered seasonally with selections by guest curators, this collection of rare, author-inscribed and out-of-print literary works can be borrowed up to 45-days, for free to our U.S. based community. Special thanks to our partners Aesop.” Also “Solange Launches Free Library of Rare, Out-of-print Books by Black Authors.” Also “Solange’s Saint Heron Unveils Free Library of Rare Books and Art by Black Creators“—”Solange’s Saint Heron studio and platform has announced the launch of its free library of “esteemed and valuable” books by Black creators for research, study and exploration. Each reader will be invited to borrow a book of their choice for 45 days, completely free of charge. It is available via Saint Heron’s website, saintheron.com starting Monday, Oct. 18”.
  • Anarchism and the Black Revolution by AK Press. Free. Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin in conversation with William C. Anderson about the rerelease and ongoing significance of his classic work. Sat, Oct 23, 2021, 10:00 AM CDT.” About Anarchism and the Black Revolution: The Definitive Edition [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin—”Anarchism and the Black Revolution first connected Black radical thought to anarchist theory in 1979. Now amidst a rising tide of Black political organizing, this foundational classic written by a key figure of the Civil Rights movement is republished with a wealth of original material for a new generation. Anarchist theory has long suffered from a whiteness problem. This book places its critique of both capitalism and racism firmly at the center of the text. Making a powerful case for the building of a Black revolutionary movement that rejects sexism, homophobia, militarism and racism, Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin counters the lies and distortions about anarchism spread by its left- and right-wing opponents alike. New material includes an interview with writer and activist William C. Anderson, as well as new essays, and a contextualizing biography of the author’s inspiring life.”
  • Becoming Abolitionists: Police, Protests, and the Pursuit of Freedom [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Derecka Purnell—”For more than a century, activists in the United States have tried to reform the police. From community policing initiatives to increasing diversity, none of it has stopped the police from killing about three people a day. Millions of people continue to protest police violence because these ‘solutions’ do not match the problem: the police cannot be reformed. In Becoming Abolitionists, Purnell draws from her experiences as a lawyer, writer, and organizer initially skeptical about police abolition. She saw too much sexual violence and buried too many friends to consider getting rid of police in her hometown of St. Louis, let alone the nation. But the police were a placebo. Calling them felt like something, and something feels like everything when the other option seems like nothing. Purnell details how multi-racial social movements rooted in rebellion, risk-taking, and revolutionary love pushed her and a generation of activists toward abolition. The book travels across geography and time, and offers lessons that activists have learned from Ferguson to South Africa, from Reconstruction to contemporary protests against police shootings. Here, Purnell argues that police can not be reformed and invites readers to envision new systems that work to address the root causes of violence. Becoming Abolitionists shows that abolition is not solely about getting rid of police, but a commitment to create and support different answers to the problem of harm in society, and, most excitingly, an opportunity to reduce and eliminate harm in the first place.”
  • Necessary Housework: Dismantling the Master’s House“—”The truth is, as historians, particularly BIPOC historians, we are doing the ‘necessary housework’ and are custodians cleaning up messy history. White supremacy tells us we do not belong, but we do have a place in history, even though anti-Blackness has tried to erase and displace us from being included in narratives of our own worlds. Our ‘homemade citizenship’ as BIPOC historians continues to disrupt our fields, and we’ve made a space for ourselves as the keepers of history, too.”
  • Crank book covers“—”Yes, ‘crank’ is a pejorative word but it’s used with some degree of affection, as in ‘harmless crank’. It’s also a convenient umbrella term for the books referred to in the weekend post which embrace diverse subjects, from lost continents and ‘earth energy’ to ancient astronauts and flying saucers.”
  • From 2016: “Ezra Pound and the drafts of The Waste Land. The manuscript of T S Eliot’s The Waste Land show how extensively Ezra Pound’s revisions and suggestions shaped the published work. Mark Ford takes a look at Pound’s marginalia and celebrates his ruthlessness and skill as an editor.”
  • “A fact is a holy thing, and its life should never be laid down on the altar of a generalization.”—Arthur Darby Nock, “The Study of the History of Religion,” Essays on Religion and the Ancient World, Vol. I (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1972), pp. 331-340 (at 333), quoted at “A Holy Thing.”
  • “At least until the beginning of his nomadic mode of life at the end of the 1870s, Nietzsche hated large cities. But small towns where one was protected from the dangers of the wide world by a wall, where one came to know one’s neighbours and remained in contact with the countryside, he came to love, particularly Germany’s old medieval towns. In 1874, for instance, he wrote to his friend Edwin Rohde that he planned to leave the city of Basel and move to the walled (to this very day) medieval town of Rotenburg-ob-der-Tauber in Franconia since, unlike the cities of modernity, it was still ‘altdeutsch’ [German in the old-fashioned way] and ‘whole’.”—Julian Young, Friedrich Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), p. 13 (note omitted, brackets in original), quoted at “Small Towns.”
  • From June: “An Italian village that’s been submerged under a lake for over 25 years may soon reappear. An Italian village that has been submerged under water for decades may soon resurface. Fabbriche di Careggine in Tuscany was flooded by nearby Lake Vogli following the construction of a dam on the Edron river in 1947. The lake has been drained four times since (most recently in 1994), revealing the ruins underneath, and authorities say it may happen again in 2021, according to Lonely Planet.” Also “Italian village underwater since 1994 could resurface.” But, did it?! I don’t see any news about it since June.
  • Was Our Universe Created in a Laboratory? Developing quantum-gravity technologies may elevate us to a ‘class A’ civilization, capable of creating a baby universe.”
  • NASA Advisor Quits Over Space Telescope Named for Homophobic Administrator. ‘This flippant, pathetic response…sends a clear message of NASA’s position on the rights of queer astronomers,’ wrote Lucianne Walkowicz.”
  • Henrietta Lacks Estate Sues Thermo Fisher over HeLa Cell Line. Attorneys for the family seek compensation for the company’s sale of cells cloned from tissue removed without consent by doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital 70 years ago.” Also “Henrietta Lacks estate sues company using her ‘stolen’ cells.” Also “Family of Henrietta Lacks files suit against biotech company for using famous ‘HeLa’ cells without permission.” Also “Lawyers for Henrietta Lacks estate say Thermo Fisher Scientific is just the first firm to be sued over her cells.”—”Trillions of her cells have played a pivotal role in medical research for the past 60 years, but Henrietta Lacks’s story was virtually unknown until it became the subject of a best-selling book in 2010 and an HBO movie starring Oprah Winfrey seven years later. On Monday, the family of the Black tobacco farmer, who died in 1951, filed a federal lawsuit accusing Massachusetts’ most valuable company of unfairly profiting off her cells. Thermo Fisher Scientific, a Waltham-based maker of lab equipment and materials, is only ‘the first of many’ the family plans to sue for unjust enrichment, Christopher Seeger, a member of the family’s legal team, said on Tuesday.” Also “WHO Director-General Bestows Posthumous Award on the Late Henrietta Lacks. Recognizes her Life, Legacy, and Contribution to Medical Science.”
  • Synthetic chemical in consumer products linked to early death, study finds“—”Synthetic chemicals called phthalates, found in hundreds of consumer products such as food storage containers, shampoo, makeup, perfume and children’s toys, may contribute to some 91,000 to 107,000 premature deaths a year among people ages 55 to 64 in the United States, a new study found.”
  • Oldest genome from Wallacea shows previously unknown ancient human relations. International research team isolates DNA from modern human buried 7,000 years ago on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.”—”The oldest genome of a modern human from the Wallacea region – the islands between western Indonesia and Papua New Guinea – indicates a previously undescribed ancient human relationship. The international study was accomplished through close collaboration with several researchers and institutions from Indonesia. It was headed by Johannes Krause of the Max Planck Institutes for Evolutionary Anthropology (Leipzig) and the Science of Human History (Jena), Cosimo Posth of the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment at the University of Tübingen, and Adam Brumm of Griffith University, Australia.” Also “Genome of a middle Holocene hunter-gatherer from Wallacea.”
  • A Warning Sign of a Mass Extinction Event Is on the Rise, Scientists Say. Toxic microbial blooms thrived during the Great Dying, the most severe extinction in Earth’s history, and they are proliferating again due to human activity.”
  • Figures of Babylon: oldest drawing of a ghost found in British Museum vault. A 3,500-year-old image tablet of a ‘miserable male ghost’ gives up its secret.”—”A lonely bearded spirit being led into the afterlife and eternal bliss by a lover has been identified on an ancient Babylonian clay tablet created about 3,500 years ago.”
  • Massive asteroids will whiz past Earth in coming weeks, including 1 nearly size of Empire State Building. NASA has tracked over 27,000 near-Earth objects, some over 1 kilometer in size.”
  • The Most Monstrous Comet Ever Known Is Headed Straight for Us. Bernardinelli-Bernstein is thousands of times more massive than an average comet. Its close approach is a rare chance to learn more about how Earth and its neighbors were born.”
  • Meteorite lands in woman’s bed. ‘Oh, my gosh, there’s a rock in my bed,’ Canadian woman exclaims during 911 call.” What’s Dwayne Johnson doing in Canada jumping into some lady’s bed?!
  • A Last-Minute Nuke to Shatter an Incoming Asteroid Could Actually Work, Study Suggests. Models suggest 99% of an asteroid’s mass would fail to hit Earth after a disruptive nuclear strike.”
  • Dunlap Astronomer discovers we may be surrounded by tunnel-like structure“—”‘If we were to look up in the sky,’ explains West, ‘we would see this tunnel-like structure in just about every direction we looked – that is, if we had eyes that could see radio light.’ Called ‘the North Polar Spur’ and ‘the Fan Region,’ we’ve known about these two structures for a long time. ‘Since the 60s,’ West says. But most scientific explanations have focused on them individually. West and her colleagues believe they are the first astronomers to connect them as a unit. Made up of charged particles and a magnetic field, the structures are shaped like long ropes, and are located about 350 light years away from us. They are about 1000 light years long. ‘That’s the equivalent distance of travelling between Toronto and Vancouver two trillion times,’ West explains. West has been thinking about these features on and off for 15 years – ever since she first saw a map of the radio sky. More recently, she built a computer model that calculated what the radio sky would look like from Earth, as she varied the shape and location of the long ropes. This model allowed West to ‘build’ the structure around us, and showed her what the sky would look like through our telescopes. It was this new perspective that helped her to match the model to the data.” “‘Magnetic fields don’t exist in isolation,’ she explains. ‘They all must to connect to each other. So a next step is to better understand how this local magnetic field connects both to the larger-scale Galactic magnetic field, and also to the smaller scale magnetic fields of our Sun and Earth.’ In the meantime, West agrees that the new ‘tunnel’ model not only brings new insight to the science community, but also a ground-breaking concept for the rest of us, on the ground. ‘I think it’s just awesome to imagine that these structures are everywhere, whenever we look up into the night sky.'”
  • New findings a ‘complete reversal’ in understanding why Earth became hospitable to life and its ‘twin’ didn’t“—”Venus may be a sweltering wasteland today, but scientists have questioned whether the planet was always so inhospitable. While previous studies suggested Venus might have once been covered in oceans, new research has found the opposite: Venus has likely never been able to support oceans. Researchers also determined that a similar story could have played out on Earth as well had things been just a bit different.” “To understand how these two rocky planets turned out so differently, a team of astrophysicists decided to try to simulate the beginning, when our solar system’s planets formed 4.5 billion years ago. They used climate models — similar to what researchers use when simulating climate change on Earth — to peer back in time at young Venus and Earth.”
  • Facebook permanently banned a developer after he made an app to let users delete their news feed. The developer Louis Barclay made a tool called Unfollow Everything for Facebook users. The extension removed Facebook users’ News Feed by mass-unfollowing friends and pages. Barclay says he got a cease-and-desist letter from Facebook in July and was kicked off its platform.”
  • Amazon Puts Its Own ‘Brands’ First. Above Better-Rated Products. The online giant gives a leg up to hundreds of house brand and exclusive products that most people don’t know are connected to Amazon.”—”‘We found that knowing only whether a product was an Amazon brand or exclusive could predict in seven out of every 10 cases whether Amazon would place it first in search results.’ ‘Our members are still very hesitant to speak out against Amazon for fear of retaliation,’ he said in an email, ‘even anonymously.'”
  • Flashback to 2016: “Birkenstock quits Amazon in US after counterfeit surge.” Also “No, Birkenstock Isn’t Selling to Amazon Again.”
  • NFTs Weren’t Supposed to End Like This. When we invented non-fungible tokens, we were trying to protect artists. But tech-world opportunism has struck again.”
  • The Ethics of NFTs: Why You Should Rethink Selling Photography Online.”
  • Ok, Boomer. “Missouri Governor Goes After Reporter Who Found Teachers’ Social Security Info Was at Risk“—”The St. Louis-Dispatch on Wednesday reported that it found the ‘vulnerability in a web application that allowed the public to search teacher certifications and credentials.’ The newspaper notified the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education of the issue before publishing the story, and the affected pages were removed from the website.” Also “Governor Wants to Prosecute Journalist Who Clicked ‘View Source’ on Government Site. A St. Louis Post-Dispatch journalist found 100,000 Social Security numbers exposed in a government website, and reported the flaw to the government.” Also “F12 isn’t hacking: Missouri governor threatens to prosecute local journalist for finding exposed state data“—”Missouri governor Mike Parson is facing a monumental backlash after threatening to prosecute a journalist for responsibly reporting a serious security lapse in the state’s website. Earlier this week, St. Louis Post-Dispatch journalist Josh Renaud reported that the website for the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) was exposing over 100,000 teachers’ Social Security numbers. These SSNs were discovered by viewing the HTML source code of the site’s web pages, allowing anyone with an internet connection to find the sensitive information by right-clicking the page and hitting ‘view page source.’ For many, viewing a web page’s source code is as simple as hitting F12 on your keyboard.” Tweet—”Journalism isn’t a crime. Cybersecurity research isn’t either. Real leaders don’t unleash their attack dogs on the press when they expose government failures, they roll up their sleeves and fix the problem.”
  • They’re putting guns on robot dogs now. It was only a matter of time.”—”Boston Dynamics, the best-known manufacturer of quadrupedal robots and makers of Spot, has a strict policy agains weaponizing its machines. Other manufacturers, it seems, aren’t so picky. After all, plenty of companies already sell uncrewed gun platforms that use tank treads or wheels, so adding the same basic kit to legged machines isn’t much of a stretch. The bigger question is how these robots will be deployed in the future and what level of oversight will be required when they start firing lethal rounds at humans. For a while now, experts have been warning about the slow rise in the use of “killer robots” (known as lethal autonomous weapon systems, or LAWS, in official jargon), and official US policy does not prohibit their development or deployment. Many groups are campaigning for a preemptive ban on such systems, but, in the meantime, it seems companies will continue to build what is possible. And that means putting guns on robot dogs.” Also “Ex-Gen. Stanley McChrystal: AI weapons ‘frightening,’ ‘will’ make lethal decisions.”
  • Algorithms of war: The military plan for artificial intelligence“—”Capitalism excels at revolutionising war.”
  • San Francisco is at a tipping point. The revolts of the past must show us the path forward. Roll Over Easy radio host Luke Spray on changing the way we look at our city.”
  • Credit-card firms are becoming reluctant regulators of the web.”
  • More on this: “Bugs in our pockets?“—”In our report, we provide a detailed analysis of scanning capabilities at both the client and the server, the trade-offs between false positives and false negatives, and the side effects – such as the ways in which adding scanning systems to citizens’ devices will open them up to new types of attack. We did not set out to praise Apple’s proposal, but we ended up concluding that it was probably about the best that could be done. Even so, it did not come close to providing a system that a rational person might consider trustworthy.”
  • Meanwhile, also Apple via [PDF]: “iPhone is a highly personal device where users store some of their most sensitive and personal information. This means that maintaining security and privacy on the iOS ecosystem is of critical importance to users. However, some are demanding that Apple support the distribution of apps outside of the App Store, through direct downloads or third-party app stores, a process also referred to as ‘sideloading.’ Supporting sideloading through direct downloads and third-party app stores would cripple the privacy and security protections that have made iPhone so secure, and expose users to serious security risks.” Tweet—”Apple’s thesis here is openly deceitful. If automated software analysis or human review were essential for security, iOS could support or even require it for competing stores. Mac notarization shows it’s feasible. Nothing about security requires an Apple monopoly on distribution.” Tweet—”31 pages of fearmongering? Damn, Apple must *actually* be scared!”
  • Former Malware Distributor Kape Technologies Now Owns ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, Private Internet Access, Zenmate, and a Collection of VPN “Review” Websites“—”Kape Technologies, a former malware distributor that operates in Israel, has now acquired four different VPN services and a collection of VPN “review” websites that rank Kape’s VPN holdings at the top of their recommendations. This report examines the controversial history of Kape Technologies and its rapid expansion into the VPN industry.” Yeah, that’s not suspicious at all.
  • Netflix just fired the organizer of the trans employee walkout. The company suspects they leaked metrics about the Dave Chappelle special to the press.”
  • A brief chat with the fired #AppleToo organizer. Janneke Parrish talks about rallying support within Apple — and the company’s response to employee organizing.”
  • Tesla removes Cybertruck specs and prices from its website.” Wait! How will I find out how much more cocaine it holds than a DeLorean?!
  • Elon Musk’s Tesla is up $1 billion on its $1.5 billion bitcoin investment as the cryptocurrency soars.”
  • Tweet—”Oh my gosh, and there’s a (pre-release) 1985 HIG [Human Interface Guidelines] that’s quite different. It includes e.g. case studies (useful!), and an extended discussion of Jung’s theories of intuition and how they should influence your designs (!!)” There’s Jung in the Apple UI!
  • William Shatner Tried to Tell Jeff Bezos About the Glory of Spaceflight, But Bezos Interrupted Him to Spray Staff With Champagne. ‘Give me a champagne bottle,’ Bezos said, gesturing to nearby staff and interrupting Shatner. ‘I want one.'”—”It was an awkward moment. As soon as famed ‘Star Trek’ actor William Shatner clambered out of Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule, as seen on Blue Origin’s live stream today, he was clearly overcome, visibly shaken by the experience of seeing the Earth whip by. Shatner, alongside three other passengers, reached an apogee of over 66 miles during today’s launch, narrowly crossing the boundary of space, at least depending on who you ask. But when he tried to tell the company’s co-founder, Jeff Bezos, about the profound experience, things got weird. As Shatner tried to wax poetic about the experience, Bezos listened for a few moments, but then turned away from a displeased-looking Shatner to focus on something more pressing: champagne.” “It was a brief and bizarre clash of wavelengths and priorities that encapsulated what Bezos seems to be after: building a profitable space empire, with more emphasis on glitz and glamor than the philosophical implications of space travel.” Also “Inside Blue Origin: Employees say toxic, dysfunctional ‘bro culture’ led to mistrust, low morale and delays at Jeff Bezos’s space venture. ‘It’s condescending. It’s demoralizing,’ said one former top executive of conditions prompting many to leave the company.”
  • Five times as many police officers have died from Covid-19 as from gunfire since start of pandemic.”
  • The Hot New Back-to-School Accessory? An Air Quality Monitor. Parents are sneaking carbon dioxide monitors into their children’s schools to determine whether the buildings are safe.”
  • Moral Polarization Predicts Support for Authoritarian and Progressive Strong Leaders via the Perceived Breakdown of Society“—”Polarization in society may hold consequences beyond the undermining of social cohesion. Here we provide the first evidence highlighting the power of perceived moral polarization in society to drive support for strong leaders. Across two studies and four samples drawn from the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States (N = 1,664), we found evidence linking perceived moral polarization with perceived anomie in society (defined as the perceived breakdown of social fabric and leadership) and with the rise in support for leaders with both a conservative/authoritarian and progressive/democratic style. Specifically, via the perceived breakdown in social fabric, heightened moral polarization predicted increased support for conservative/authoritarian style strong leaders, and via the perceived breakdown of leadership, increased support for progressive/democratic style strong leaders. Experimentally, using a fictionalized society paradigm, we then established causal links between moral polarization and the desire to elect conservative/authoritarian and progressive/democratic strong leaders. The current research is the first to identify the potential political consequences of heightened perceived moral polarization in two-party liberal democracies and contributes to the growing body of research highlighting the role of societal factors in driving support for strong leaders.”
  • Sinema rakes in Pharma and finance cash amid reconciliation negotiations. The senator raised more than $1.1 million in the third quarter. About 90 percent of it came from outside her home state.” Also “Winemaking and marathon running: what Kyrsten Sinema does instead of her job. Sinema is one of two Democrat holdouts against passing Biden’s Build Back Better agenda – but hasn’t made public why. Here’s what she is public about.” Also “What does Kyrsten Sinema want? A Parisian holiday. The holdout on Biden’s agenda says: Let them eat cake.” Also “As Budget Bill Hangs in Limbo, Kyrsten Sinema Heads to Europe. With the Senate out of session, Ms. Sinema, the Democratic senator from Arizona, has been in Europe on a fund-raising trip.”
  • Key to Biden’s Climate Agenda Likely to Be Cut Because of Manchin Opposition. The West Virginia Democrat told the White House he is firmly against a clean electricity program that is the muscle behind the president’s plan to battle climate change.” Tweet—”Joe Manchin, who owns stock in a coal brokerage company, is trying to kill legislation to replace coal-fired power plants with clean energy. I’m shocked! Absolutely shocked!” Tweet—”There are just 11,418 coal-mining jobs in West Virginia. The state is already a chemical and manufacturing hub, one primed to benefit from green technology investment. This is entirely about Manchin’s wallet and the $500k a year he gets from Enersystems, which burns waste coal.” Also “Joe Manchin’s Dirty Empire. The West Virginia Senator Reaps Big Financial Rewards From a Network of Coal Companies With Grim Records of Pollution, Safety Violations, and Death.”
  • He Attacked Cops At The Capitol. The FBI Interviewed Him. Then He Rejoined The Army. James Mault was caught on film attacking officers during the Jan. 6 attack and lost his civilian job. So he rejoined the military while under FBI investigation.”
  • Ludwik Fleck and ‘thought styles’ in science“—”There is nothing in the nature of academic research that guarantees that ‘the best ideas of a generation will become part of the canon for the next generation’; instead, many good and original ideas have been lost to the disciplines through bad luck.”
  • Modes of Display“—”The idea of “institutional critique” first blossomed in the late 1960s, when conceptual artists began to respond to the museums, galleries, private collections that exhibited their work. The aim: to expose ideologies and power structures underlying the art world. Leading exponents include the likes of Hans Haacke (b. 1939), whose proposed 1974 show Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Board of Trustees would have mounted an index of the museum’s corporate sponsors and board of trustees to the walls. Andrea Fraser (b. 1965)’s iconic Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk took viewers on a parodical tour of the Philadelphia Museum – offering her thoughts not only on the building’s history, but on its toilets, cloakroom and shop.”
  • Watch “‘Moral Progress’: Philip Kitcher in conversation with Julia Hermann“—”What role can philosophy play in helping individuals and societies achieve moral progress more surely and more systematically? In this conversation with Julia Hermann, distinguished professor of philosophy Philip Kitcher discusses three historical examples of moral progress – the abolition of chattel slavery, the expansion of opportunities for women, and the increasing acceptance of same-sex love – to propose new methods for moral inquiry. Through a serious examination of the history and progression of moral practices, Kitcher will aim to reorient moral philosophy in a new and accessible direction, enabling it to regain its proper role of speaking to the “problems of life”. Philip Kitcher is the John Dewey Professor of Philosophy emeritus at Columbia University. He has written seventeen previous books, several of which have won awards. He is well-known internationally for his work in many fields of philosophy, including the philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of science, ethics, epistemology, political philosophy, and studies of philosophical themes in literature and music. His latest book “Moral Progress” was published this year by Oxford University Press. Julia Hermann in assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Twente, Netherlands. Her research interests include moral justification, moral progress, evolutionary explanations of morality, the role of context in ethics, the ethics of citizen science, and the technological disruption of epistemic certainty. Her current research focuses on the ways in which new and emerging technologies, in particular biomedical technologies, affect fundamental concepts.” Also Moral Progress [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Philip Kitcher, ed. Jan-Christoph Heilinger, with Rahel Jaeggi, Susan Neiman, and Amia Srinivasan—”This inaugural volume in the Munich Lectures in Ethics series presents lectures by noted philosopher Philip Kitcher. In these lectures, Kitcher develops further the pragmatist approach to moral philosophy, begun in his book The Ethical Project. He uses three historical examples of moral progress–the abolition of chattel slavery, the expansion of opportunities for women, and the increasing acceptance of same-sex love–to propose methods for moral inquiry. In his recommended methodology, Kitcher sees moral progress, for individuals and for societies, through collective discussions that become more inclusive, better informed, and involve participants more inclined to engage with the perspectives of others and aim at actions tolerable by all. The volume is introduced by Jan-Christoph Heilinger and contains commentaries from distinguished scholars Amia Srinivasan, Susan Neiman, and Rahel Jaeggi, and Kitcher’s response to their commentaries.”
  • Philosophy, Doubt, and Value“—”Among the most awesome things about Earth is this: There are moments when certain complex bags of mostly water can pause to contemplate profound and difficult questions about the fundamental nature of things, their position in the universe, the grounds of their values, the limits of their own knowledge. A world in which no one ever did this would be an impoverished world. The ability to ask these questions, to reflect on them in a serious way, is already a cause for pride and celebration, a reason to write and read books, and basis for an important academic discipline. This is so even if we can’t find our way to the answers. Philosophical doubt arises when we’ve hit and recognized the limits of our philosophical knowledge. Of course we have limits. To ask only questions we can answer is a failure of imagination.”
  • Democracy’s Horizons: Talking with Michael Hanchard“—”The question becomes, What can we do to make democracy more economically, socially, and politically just?”
  • Baying Mob“—”I think there’s likely to be a connection between the failure to police bloodsports effectively and the apparently escalating violence against objectors. A sense of impunity is also likely to be strengthened by major legal deficiencies.” “I believe that a longstanding culture war, in which people who describe themselves as “real” or “authentic” countryfolk vilify “incomers” and “townies” (those whose parents were not born in the community), also helps to create a permissive environment for intimidation and violence.” “The closed mindset these attitudes help to foster appears to be reflected in some aspects of rural policing. While in London, four times as many Black people are stopped and searched today as white people as a result of institutional bias, in Suffolk, they are 17 times more likely to be stopped, and in Dorset, 25 times more likely. You might have imagined that the ‘party of law and order’ would take an interest in blatant lawbreaking in the countryside. It does, but generally on the wrong side.”
  • How Women Singers Subverted Tango’s Masculinity. In the hands of performers known as cancionistas, the genre known for its machismo was transformed.”—”Their performances enraptured audiences of women, who saw themselves reflected on stage. And from the stage, the cancionistas found their own means of release.”
  • From 2015: “The Illusionist. Al Seckel has left the country. But the world’s greatest collector of optical illusions left some troubles behind.”
  • Art historians try to identify enslaved Black child in an 18th-century portrait“—”A year ago this month, when it was still closed to the public because of the pandemic, the Yale Center for British Art (YCBA) took a major step toward interrogating a controversial 18th-century group portrait in its collection centering on an early benefactor to the university, Elihu Yale. Responding to criticism of the painting’s subject from students and others, the YCBA removed the work from a gallery wall and replaced it with a pointed critique by the African American painter and sculptor Titus Kaphar. Around the same time, the museum embarked on exhaustive research on the portrait, which is now dated to around 1719 and was presumably painted at Yale’s house in London. Foremost on the research team’s minds was the identity of the Black child. Chillingly, he wears a silver collar and padlock around his neck, which was common for slaves in British society, with similar versions fashioned in steel or brass, according to the YCBA. The painting is now set to go back on view next week, with additional context yielded by the research. And while the museum has not yet determined who the boy is or where he came from, it is forging ahead in the belief that its investigation is ‘on much surer ground than before,’ said Courtney J. Martin, the director of the museum, in a phone interview.”
  • Ugh, Dating Is So Hard These Days When You’re an Insufferable Person with a Bland Personality.”
  • Boss reveals how a four-day work week boosted her business profits: ‘Come to work on Monday your best self’. A Toronto company that switched to four-day weeks say the trial has been such a success that they’ll never go back to the old way of working.”
  • ‘Micromanaged and disrespected’: Top reasons workers are quitting their jobs in ‘The Great Resignation’. ‘There is no reason to stay and fight the stupidity.’ Readers share their top reasons for joining millions of Americans and quitting their jobs during ‘The Great Resignation.'”
  • Tweet thread—”Hi everybody. We’re 30+ members of the Paizo staff, and today we’re announcing that we have formed the United Paizo Workers, one of the first unions of its kind in the tabletop game industry. #UnionizePaizo 1/n” “In pretty much every company in America today, the bosses have all the power. That’s by design. Workers have precious few mechanisms with which to affect their workplaces, except one: their voice. And when all our voices come together, we actually can effect change. 5/n” Also tweet thread—”Today I want to shine a spotlight on UPW’s secret weapon: freelancers. Paizo’s freelancers are our ally in this fight and we’re helping each other. Here’s how: 1/11″ “Paizo’s business model is built on freelancers. Very few of the words in our publications are written in-house by full time employees on the clock. Instead, we outline projects, hire freelancers to execute those outlines, and develop and edit those manuscripts. 2/11” “Well, about a month ago, about 40 of Paizo’s most reliable, prolific, and skilled freelancers simply stopped working. In official parlance, this is called “concerted action.” In layman’s terms, it’s a strike without a union. 4/11” “Now, this group of freelancers had a specific list of demands. They wanted Paizo to hire a diversity officer, for example, and investigate recent terminations. But yesterday, they updated their demands: they’ll all come back to work if Paizo recognizes United Paizo Workers. 7/11”
  • Ridley Scott Says the ‘Alien’ TV Series Will “Never Be as Good as” the Original Classic.” Says the guy who’s made multiple crappy sequels, so he’d know, smdh. But, holy crap, I disagree and think Noah Hawley will knock this out of the park if anyone can. The best of the Alien series has been to make each installment different than the others in some important way, not just to redo the formula. Just look at the differences between 1 and 2! But Noah Hawley seems to be an amazing auteur, just look at Fargo and Legion shows on FX for evidence, and I suspect will do wonderful things worth experiencing as an audience, if they let him do it without the kind of interference that others have had to deal with on their visions for their take on Alien.
  • Watch “Trans Dudes From History, Vol. 1” & “The Trans Tony Stark & More Trans Dudes From History, Vol. 2“—”Trans people have always existed, even if they didn’t have the same language we do now and even if most history books won’t tell you about them.”
  • The Velvet Underground Brings the New York of the ’60s Back to Life.” About The Velvet Underground in theaters and on Apple TV+ October 15.
  • More on this: “Goth Chick News: Netflix Original Series Midnight Mass Is the Perfect Halloween Offering.”
  • The Dust That Measures All Our Time. From the mythical Sandman, who participates in dream and vision, to an irritating grain lodged in the beachgoer’s eye, sand harbours unappreciated power, however mundane. Steven Connor celebrates this ‘most untrustworthy’ type of matter.”—”Sand is not only temporary, it is also the most temporised form of matter.”
  • Inside time warp terraced house that’s frozen in the 1870s and listed for £20,000. The property in the Longton area of Stoke-on-Trent is preserved with almost all of its original features, including a scullery, coal house, outdoor toilet and parlour.”—”Gill said: ‘It would be lovely if someone would treat it for what it is. A very rare and unaltered house. If they could find a way to extend it and modernise it, while being sympathetic and to keep its character.’ Melissa Alford, from Town & Country Property Auctions, said: ‘It’s a very difficult property to value because of the extent of the work required. But we’ve had an awful lot of interest in it.'” Also “Inside the time warp terrace frozen in the 1870s – now you could buy it for £20k. The two-bedroom Longton property was used as the backdrop for paintings, collages and ‘found’ art inspired by the Victorian and Edwardian eras.” And a better gallery of images.
  • Penguin Classics to Publish Collected Editions of Marvel Comics. Origin Stories and Key Moments of Black Panther, Captain America, and Spider-Man.”—”In the publisher’s announcement, Sven Larson, Vice President of Licensed Publishing at Marvel Entertainment said it was a ‘remarkable honor’ to have Marvel comics included in the Penguin Classics. ‘From The Odyssey to The Time Machine, the Penguin Classics list not only recognizes the most important works in storytelling but also places them in their important historical and cultural context,’ he said. ‘Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Captain America have become the bedrock of countless stories across media, and it’s a testament to the genius of Marvel’s writers and artists that these characters resonate so strongly today.'”

  • Help! I Couldn’t Stop Writing Fake Dear Prudence Letters That Got Published. It was a fulfilling creative outlet, until one got featured on Tucker Carlson.”
  • Flashback: watch “Dave Theurer talks about Tempest“—”Dave Theurer, the creator of Tempest (the original arcade version of 1980) talks about the history and development of his game.” Whoa. That escalated quickly. Also lots of other interesting tidbits, but welcome to the nightmare, I guess!
  • The first commercial video game from 50 years ago“—”Fifty years ago—on October 15, 1971—Nutting Associates debuted the first-ever commercial video game for sale: Computer Space, a coin-operated arcade machine. Unlike arcade games before it, it utilized a TV set for a display—and it launched the video game industry, in an article by How-to Geek. In Computer Space, you play as a rocket ship flying around a starfield while hunting flying saucers. If you’re familiar with Asteroids, it’s similar, but without any space rocks.” I actually played a game on one of these, in, I recall, a Sears store, back in the mid to late 70s? Yeah! Wow.
  • For those that weren’t alive then: “Pink Floyd’s Young Lust – Explained and Demystified. This is United States calling…are we reaching… “—”So now the song isn’t so much of a mystery. Hope you were able to fully understand what you hear when you listen to song. Enjoy!”
  • Watch “LISTEN: Star Trek: Lower Decks – The Borg Hive (ASMR Loop).”

Omnium Gatherum: 13oct2021

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

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

  • Missed mentioning this, but maybe you noticed it? “‘Moderate’ geomagnetic storm headed for Earth; aurora could be visible tonight across far northern US. The northern lights, aka the aurora borealis, could also be visible in some parts of the nation tonight. The storm is rated a ‘G2,’ which is the second level of NOAA’s five-level storm scale. Impacts from the geomagnetic storm are expected to wane by Tuesday.”
  • WHO KILLED THE KLF?“—”Who Killed The KLF? is not a murder mystery, nor is it a crime thriller of any sort. Rather, director Chris Atkins (who I presume isn’t related to actor Christopher Atkins) helms a documentary about the odd British band The KLF. While their name might not immediately be recognized, perhaps the aliases of the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (JAMs) or The Timelords will ring a bell. No matter what name you know them under, the band was a bedrock of EDM and Techno in the 1980s and 90s. But, of course, all good things must come to an end.” About Who Killed the KLF? (2021) dir. Chris Atkins, 2021, with Bill Drummond, Jimmy Cauty, Alan Moore, &c.; see “WHO KILLED THE KLF? They came to spread chaos and to make you dance. When the dancing stopped, the chaos was all that remained. One way or another, WHO KILLED THE KLF? is gonna rock you.” Also IMDB says: “‘Who Killed the KLF?’ explores the rise and fall of the KLF in the 1980s and 1990s, touching upon themes that perfectly capture the 21st century zeitgeist. A tale as intriguing as it is bonkers'” Presumably after the premiere at Fantastic Fest it will be available elsewhere eventually.
  • Miracle Workers [Also], with Daniel Radcliffe, Steve Buscemi, on HBO/TBS—”Miracle Workers is a Heaven-set workplace comedy based on Simon Rich’s book What in God’s Name. Radcliffe plays Craig, a low-level angel responsible for handling all of humanity’s prayers, and Steve Buscemi plays Craig’s boss God, who has pretty much checked out and is ready to move on to his next project. To prevent Earth’s destruction, Craig and fellow angel Eliza must answer a seemingly impossible prayer: help two humans fall in love. Karan Soni plays Sanjay, God’s right-hand man.” About Miracle Workers [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Simon Rich, orig. “What in God’s Name”—”Now a hit TBS comedy: Miracle Workers is ‘a near perfect work of humor’ (NPR) about two underpaid angels working in the Department of Miracles. Welcome to Heaven, Inc., the grossly mismanaged corporation in the sky. For as long as anyone can remember, the founder and CEO (known in some circles as ‘God’) has been phoning it in. Lately, he’s been spending most of his time on the golf course. And when he does show up at work, it’s not to resolve wars or end famines, but to Google himself and read what humans have been blogging about him. When God decides to retire (to pursue his lifelong dream of opening an Asian Fusion restaurant), he also decides to destroy Earth. His employees take the news in stride, except for Craig and Eliza, two underpaid angels in the lowly Department of Miracles. Unlike their boss, Craig and Eliza love their jobs — uncapping city fire hydrants on hot days, revealing lost keys in snow banks — and they refuse to accept that earth is going under. The angels manage to strike a deal with their boss. He’ll call off his Armageddon, if they can solve their toughest miracle yet: getting the two most socially awkward humans on the planet to fall in love. With doomsday fast approaching, and the humans ignoring every chance for happiness thrown their way, Craig and Eliza must move heaven and earth to rescue them — and the rest of us, too.”
  • Tweet thread—”It’s been just over a year since the death of activist, writer and anthropologist @davidgraeber – a brilliant speaker, writer and thinker who helped give us #Occupy, “we are the 99%” and #BullshitJobs. 1/”
  • The great book shortage of 2021, explained. Demand for books is way up this year. Supplies are way, way down.”
  • Scientists solve the mystery of the Etruscans’ origins. The discovery could have just settled a 2,400-year-old debate.”—”A new genetic analysis may have finally revealed the origin of the Etruscans — a mysterious people whose civilization thrived in Italy centuries before the founding of Rome. It turns out the enigmatic Etruscans were local to the area, with nearly identical genetics to their Latin-speaking neighbors. This finding contradicts earlier theories that the Etruscans — who for centuries spoke a now extinct, non-Indo-European language that was remarkably different from others in the region — came from somewhere different from their Latin-speaking neighbors. Instead, both groups appear to be migrants from the Pontic-Caspian steppe — a long, thin swath of land stretching from the north Black Sea around Ukraine to the north Caspian Sea in Russia. After arriving in Italy during the Bronze age, the early speakers of Etruscan put down roots, assimilating speakers of other languages to their own culture as they flourished into a great civilization.”
  • Modern human origins cannot be traced back to a single point in time. Genetic and fossil records do not reveal a single point where modern humans originated, researchers have found.”
  • Why simplicity works. Does the existence of a multiverse hold the key for why nature’s laws seem so simple?”
  • In a rocky Israeli crater, scientists simulate life on Mars“—”From the door of the expedition base, a few small steps to the left an autonomous rover passes by. A few giant leaps to the right is an array of solar panels. The landscape is rocky, hilly, tinged with red. Purposefully it resembles Mars. Here, in the Ramon Crater in the desert of southern Israel, a team of six – five men and one woman – have begun simulating what it will be like to live for about a month on the red planet. Their AMADEE-20 habitat is tucked beneath a rocky outcrop. Inside they sleep, eat and conduct experiments. Outside they wear mock space suits fitted with cameras, microphones and self-contained breathing systems. ‘We have the motto of fail fast, fail cheap, and have a steep learning curve. Because for every mistake we make here on earth, we hope we don’t repeat it on Mars,’ said Gernot Gromer, director of the Austrian Space Forum.”
  • Catastrophic floods shaped Mars more than previously thought, scientists suggest.”
  • China’s lunar rock samples show lava flowed on moon 2B years ago: researchers. The Chang’e 5 lunar mission collected the rocks.”—”China’s lunar rock samples – the first moon rocks returned to Earth in more than 40 years – show lava flowed there 2 billion years ago, according to scientists.”
  • Earth Is Dimming Due to Climate Change. Warming oceans cause fewer bright clouds to reflect sunlight into space, admitting even more energy into earth’s climate system.”
  • Massive Byzantine-era winery discovered in Israel“—”Near a soccer pitch and a suburban neighborhood in central Israel, archaeologists say they discovered the world’s largest known Byzantine-era winery. The winery, dating back 1,500 years, is believed to have produced one of the finest white wines of the Mediterranean at the time. It was widely praised in Byzantine-era literature and known as vinum Gazetum or Gaza wine because it was exported from the ancient port city near modern-day Gaza. Archeologists found a large complex of five winepresses, four large warehouses where the wine was aged, kilns where the clay wine jugs were fired, and tens of thousands of broken pieces of jugs. They estimate the winery produced between two to three million liters of wine a year.”
  • Humans were using tobacco at least 12,000 years ago“—”The tobacco plant has shaped the fortunes of humanity. Today, the substance is used and abused by a billion people around the world. It is a habit that dates back to the Stone Age, new research shows. Charred seeds found in an ancient hearth used by hunter-gatherers in what’s now Utah suggest that humans used tobacco more than 12,000 years ago — 9,000 years earlier than previously documented and well before agriculture took root in the Americas.”
  • Ancient mound reveals 4,500-year-old jar in southern Turkey. Archaeologists unearthed a structure with a 4,500-year-old jar, numerous pot remains and food fossils inside it at a mound in the southern coastal Turkish city of Mersin.”
  • What We Think We Know About Metabolism May Be Wrong. A new study challenges assumptions about energy expenditure by people, including the idea that metabolism slows at middle age.”
  • Hundreds of three-eyed ‘dinosaur shrimp’ emerge after Arizona monsoon. Their eggs can stay dormant for decades, waiting for water.”
  • Magnets dim natural glow of human cells, may shed light on how animals migrate. First direct observation of magnetic field affecting autofluorescence of flavins in living cells.”—”Researchers in Japan have made the first observations of biological magnetoreception – live, unaltered cells responding to a magnetic field in real time. This discovery is a crucial step in understanding how animals from birds to butterflies navigate using Earth’s magnetic field and addressing the question of whether weak electromagnetic fields in our environment might affect human health. ‘The joyous thing about this research is to see that the relationship between the spins of two individual electrons can have a major effect on biology,’ said Professor Jonathan Woodward from the University of Tokyo, who conducted the research with doctoral student Noboru Ikeya. The results were recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). Researchers have suspected since the 1970s that because magnets can attract and repel electrons, Earth’s magnetic field, also called the geomagnetic field, could influence animal behavior by affecting chemical reactions. When some molecules are excited by light, an electron can jump from one molecule to another and create two molecules with single electrons, known as a radical pair. The single electrons can exist in one of two different spin states. If the two radicals have the same electron spin, their subsequent chemical reactions are slow, while radical pairs with opposite electron spins can react faster. Magnetic fields can influence electron spin states and thus directly influence chemical reactions involving radical pairs. Over the past 50 years, chemists have identified multiple reactions and specific proteins called cryptochromes that are sensitive to magnetic fields in test tube environments. Biologists have even observed how genetically interfering with cryptochromes in fruit flies and cockroaches can eliminate the insects’ ability to navigate according to geomagnetic cues. Other research has indicated that birds’ and other animals’ geomagnetic navigation is light sensitive. However, no one has previously measured chemical reactions inside a living cell changing directly because of a magnetic field.”
  • Zeroing in on the origins of Earth’s ‘single most important evolutionary innovation’. A new study shows oxygenic photosynthesis likely evolved between 3.4 and 2.9 billion years ago.”
  • This Parasite Turns Plants Into Zombies. It’s a never-ending cycle of ‘Night of the Living Dead-meets-Dracula’ in the world of green and leafy things.”
  • The ‘Lord God bird’ is gone: An elegy for the ivory-billed woodpecker. Last seen in 1944, the bird has stoked nearly eight decades of hopeful searches. Now, it’s officially, depressingly ‘extinct.'” Also “On the death of species. This week, the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed taking 23 animals and plants off the endangered-species list — because none can be found in the wild. What this tells us about climate change, and things to come.”
  • England’s Isle of Wight was Isle of Fright, with two big dinosaur predators.”
  • Brazil dinosaur discovered from 70 million years ago! Scientists in Brazil have discovered a new dinosaur species which they believe existed around 70 million years ago.”
  • Digital Addictions Are Drowning Us in Dopamine. Rising rates of depression and anxiety in wealthy countries like the U.S. may be a result of our brains getting hooked on the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure.”
  • From 2019: “Facebook to Pay $40M Under Proposed Settlement in Video Metrics Suit. Advertising agencies have revealed the details of a proposed settlement with Facebook that would end a class action alleging the social media giant overstated the average time users spend watching video.” Tweet—”The viewership metrics were inflated by 150 to 900%. Whole companies shifted their strategy to video. Companies going bankrupt, people losing jobs, FB gets away with 0.18% of annual income ($40M / $22B), a slap on the wrist.” Tweet—”My former employer CollegeHumor did this. In order to beat YouTube, Facebook faked incredible viewership numbers, so CH pivoted to FB. So did Funny or Die, many others. The result: A once-thriving online comedy industry was decimated. A $40m fine is laughable; shut Facebook down.”
  • Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen to speak to its Oversight Board. She said the company ‘has lied to the board repeatedly’.” Also “The education of Frances Haugen: How the Facebook whistleblower learned to use data as a weapon from years in tech. Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s calls to change the company have broken through, winning bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, calls for more regulation and triggering soul searching among the American public.”
  • How to blow the whistle on Facebook – from someone who already did. This April, Sophie Zhang told the world about her employer’s failure to combat deception and abuse. Her advice? No screenshots, lawyer up – and trust yourself.”
  • Apple and Disney among companies backing groups against US climate bill. Amazon and Microsoft also supporting groups fighting legislation despite promises to combat the climate crisis, analysis finds.”
  • Refugees help power machine learning advances at Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon. Big tech relies on the victims of economic collapse.”—”This is the hidden abode of automation: a globally dispersed complex of refugees, slum dwellers, and casualties of occupations, compelled through immiseration, or else law, to power the machine learning of companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon.”
  • Now every Twitter web user can ‘soft block’ annoying followers. The feature first rolled out in testing last month.”
  • Netflix Suspends Three Employees Who Criticized Dave Chappelle’s Transphobic Standup Special. The company that values so-called ‘radical transparency’ is now working overtime to squash dissent.”
  • Back from the dead for spooky season, apparently: “Magic Leap somehow raised $500 million to make another AR headset. The Magic Leap 2 is slated for release next year.”—”Magic Leap, of course, is the company that began its existence as a mysterious AR startup, received almost $3 billion to fund its consumer-friendly AR headset, before changing its headset’s name from Magic Leap 1 to The Magic Leap One Creator Edition in an attempt to attract professional customers. The company laid off 1,000 employees — roughly half its workforce — in 2020, and was reportedly abandoning its consumer business.”
  • Tweet thread—”The internet as you see it today? *Is the most sanitized and corporatized it has ever been*.”
  • An autonomous robot may have already killed people — here’s how the weapons could be more destabilizing than nukes.”
  • Why the world is failing to prepare for the next global health crisis. Coronavirus has highlighted just how crucial good hygiene is. So, why are we still not prioritising access to sanitation, handwashing and drinking water?” This feels a little bit like blaming wood fires in Africa for global warming. I think there’s some more important things to deal with still going on.
  • Ivermectin: How false science created a Covid ‘miracle’ drug. Ivermectin has been called a Covid ‘miracle’ drug, championed by vaccine opponents, and recommended by health authorities in some countries. But the BBC can reveal there are serious errors in a number of key studies that the drug’s promoters rely on.”
  • More than 120,000 US kids had caregivers die during pandemic“—”The number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests. More than half the children who lost a primary caregiver during the pandemic belonged to those two racial groups, which make up about 40% of the U.S. population, according to the study published Thursday by the medical journal Pediatrics.”
  • Thousands face income hit as disaster payments are cut: UNSW“—”Thousands of people in electorates across Melbourne and western Sydney will be driven back into poverty with the end of special COVID-related disaster payments, and new analysis warns it could stifle the nation’s recovery out of lockdown. Data compiled by the University of NSW shows seats such as Blaxland, Watson and Werriwa in Sydney, and Calwell, Lalor and Holt in Melbourne, have experienced huge increases in people whose financial support will drop dramatically as the disaster payments finish.”
  • Meanwhile, over at New Statesman: “From Ovid to Covid: why poetry is enjoying a renaissance. Throughout the pandemic, poetry has been mobilised as a source of consolation and a powerful form of self-expression.”
  • Why People Share Conspiracy Theories Even When They Know They Are Untrue. Social motives for sharing conspiracy theories. Many people are willing to make tradeoffs between sharing accurate information and sharing information that will generate more social engagement. People are sensitive to the social feedback they receive on social platforms. Positive feedback for sharing conspiracy theories powerfully influences what people share subsequently.”
  • Anti-vaxxers are using the same tactics as cults do to attract followers on social media.”
  • Rudy Giuliani admits his election fraud “evidence” came from social media posts. Giuliani also admitted he never fact checked any of the claims — that would have made him a ‘terrible lawyer’.”
  • Senate Judiciary Committee issues sweeping report detailing how Trump and a top DOJ lawyer attempted to overturn 2020 election.” Tweet—”Truth is nice, but come get me when there’s consequences.”
  • Trump’s Sprawling Use of NDAs Now Threatens to Humiliate Him. An arbitrator’s ruling on one of the gag orders could open the floodgates.”
  • Secret money, swanky real estate and a Monte Carlo mystery. Documents tie woman allegedly in secret, years-long relationship with Putin to luxury Monaco apartment.” Also “Billions hidden beyond reach. The Pandora Papers documents — more than 11.9 million records from 14 offshore entities, including law and wealth-management firms — illuminate a hidden world that has allowed government leaders, a monarch, billionaires and criminals to shield their assets.” Also “Pandora Papers: Rich and powerful deny wrongdoing after dump of purported secrets. Files linked to more than 35 current, former leaders. Kremlin sees no reason to make checks. Pakistan opposition demands named ministers quit. Jordan palace says nothing improper in disclosures.” Tweet—”If one doesn’t trust the system any more – one doesn’t trust democracy. The fight for more transparency is therefore a fight for democracy.” Also “Why The Post published the Pandora Papers investigation“—”Today The Washington Post is joining news organizations around the globe to bring you the first in a series of important stories. These are the product of nearly a year of reporting at The Post focused on a vast trove of documents that expose a secretive financial universe that benefits the wealthy and powerful. The project, known as the Pandora Papers, was conceived and organized by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which obtained the records and shared them with The Post and other partners. The documents — more than 11.9 million records from 14 offshore entities, including law and wealth-management firms — illuminate a hidden world that has allowed government leaders, a monarch, billionaires and criminals to shield their assets.”
  • Hack exposes law enforcement officers who signed up to join anti-government Oath Keepers“—”These men, who had sworn to uphold the law, signed up to join an armed, extremist, anti-government group.” Also “Hack Of Oath Keepers Militia Group Includes Names Of Active NYPD Officers, De Blasio Launches Investigation.”
  • MAGA Gun Church That Worships With AR-15s Has Bought a Giant Mountain Property in Tennessee. Rod of Iron Ministries has been on a property-buying spree and says it plans to build a training center and spiritual retreat.”
  • Parents petition to have principal who loves Iron Maiden removed: ‘We are deeply disturbed’. A counter petition in support of principal Sharon Burns has garnered over 19,000 signatures.”
  • Tweet—”translation of a loyalty pledge we obtained that is hand written by a uyghur woman at her factory. you’ve read about NDAs. how about xinjiang-style letters of commitment? how many transferred workers have written vows like this?” “would you write vows like this to your workplace and the government without a metaphorical gun to yer head? would anyone?”
  • Indigenous activists come to D.C. with a message for Biden: Declare a national climate emergency. At times, tensions rose between protesters and police outside the White House on Monday, but the demonstration was mostly peaceful.”
  • Illinois LGBTQ leader calls for a citizen dividend of $570 a year to combat income inequality.”
  • Critical race theory was the hot topic on Fox News this summer. Not so much anymore. Concern about the intellectual movement triggered clashes at local school board meetings. But it seems to be dropping off the public radar now.”
  • Dem introduces bill decriminalizing psychedelics, hopes to reverse some ‘War on Drugs’ impacts“—”Michigan Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) introduced legislation last week that would decriminalize the use of psilocybin and mescaline — two plants and fungi commonly found in psychedelics. Senate Bill 631, which was co-sponsored by state Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit), would allow the possession, cultivation and delivery of the two types of psychedelics. Commercial production or sales of entheogenic plants or fungi would still be illegal, but practitioners would be able to charge fees for counseling, spiritual guidance, or a related service if the service utilizes an entheogenic plant or fungus.”
  • Hedge Funds Cash Out Billions in PG&E Stock. Fire Survivors Suffer and Wait“—”Pacific Gas & Electric Company has been called a ‘terror’ to the people of California. Its electric grid has sparked wildfires each of the last four years and is suspected of igniting this year’s Dixie Fire, the second largest blaze in the state’s history. The company is mired in debt. Electricity rates are skyrocketing. Tens of thousands of survivors of fires sparked by the utility’s equipment are waiting for promised compensation. Amid all this pain, there’s one group that’s simply walking away: Wall Street hedge funds.”
  • Tweet—”BREAKING: The military has arrived at Buncefield Oil Depot in Hemel Hempstead to help deliver fuel to petrol stations in London and the south east. More on this story: https://trib.al/EiENvcS” Also “‘Only yourselves to blame’: UK’s shortages seen from abroad. US and European media give their verdict on the fuel, food and labour crisis they say is caused by Brexit.”
  • 80 activists block Shell’s port to protest against ‘greenwashing’ adverts.”
  • Queensland police refuse to remove traditional owners occupying Adani’s coalmine site. Miner says group is ‘trespassing’ but police have acknowledged their cultural rights under human rights act.”
  • Tweet—”The Squamish Nation owns many parcels around Vancouver exempt from local zoning. With 87% of the nation voting in favor, they’re going to build 6,000 homes at Hong Kong-density, 90% less parking than required by law and beside single-family neighborhoods who cannot stop Senakw.” As an aside, I recall that Vancouver used to be held up as an example of excellent density and multi-use years ago. Wonder what went wrong?
  • We Are What We Always Were: A Response to ‘What Happened to Anarchism’“—”In the past five years, I’ve been tear-gassed, flash-banged, chased by riot police, surrounded by Proud Boys. At one action, I was hurt badly enough that recovery took three months. Still, I was one of the lucky ones. Some of my comrades have gone to prison, others have been gunned down in the street, others crushed by speeding cars. So, when one of my comrades says it was all for nothing, a meaningless sacrifice to defeat an unreal enemy… frankly, it hurts. I’m not here to talk about that, though. That’s just the background, a context for why this means so much to me that I decided to write an article disagreeing with my publisher when he’s about to publish two of my books. What I’m really here to talk about is why I think Rhyd is wrong about this, and why I think his criticisms of anarchism and anti-fascism are so off-base. ”
  • Tweet—”The video shows Minneapolis police officers firing less-lethal weapons at people on Lake Street from their unmarked white van–without identifying themselves as law enforcement or issuing warnings or commands.” “Mr. Stalling’s attorney also acquired body camera video showing officers discussing “hunting” people on the streets of Minneapolis, celebrating shooting protesters and mocking journalists who were exempted from curfew.” Also “Attorney for man cleared of returning fire in self-defense at Minneapolis police during riots releases evidence, body camera footage. Jaleel Stallings was acquitted of eight counts in connection with the incident.”
  • More Than Half of Police Killings Are Mislabeled, New Study Says. Researchers comparing information from death certificates with data from organizations that track police killings in the United States identified a startling discrepancy.”—”Police killings in America have been undercounted by more than half over the past four decades, according to a new study that raises pointed questions about racial bias among medical examiners and highlights the lack of reliable national record keeping on what has become a major public health and civil rights issue.”
  • An Atlanta Hip-Hop Artist and a Social Entrepreneur Open a Free In-School Grocery Store for Students“—”Jasmine Crowe is the CEO of Goodr, an Atlanta organization focusing on reducing both food waste and food insecurity that has hosted pop-up grocery stores in the area since 2017 and across the country since the start of the pandemic. Crowe has recently partnered with rapper Gunna to open a store in his former middle school, Ronald McNair MIddle School, in College Park. The store, Gunna’s Drip Closet and Goodr Grocery Store, carries food, clothing, and toiletries that are free of charge to students, their families, and teachers. Students and families can register online or at the school to schedule a day to shop Monday through Friday. All students were given reusable tote bags full of various clothing items on the store’s opening day, September 16. The intent was that they could continue to use the totes to carry whatever they wanted, including school books or groceries from the store, without anyone knowing what was in the bags, in order to reduce any stigma or shame that might come with utilizing the free store. The store is stocked with produce, packaged foods, canned goods, and frozen meals such as pizzas and pot pies, with a focus on foods that the students can prepare for themselves and that they would enjoy. Crowe has developed connections with local farmers who donate produce, as well as several big-box stores, local grocery stores, and bakeries that donate shelf-stable food. Goodr and Gunna together provided $30,000 to launch the store, and another $20,000 will be used to maintain and restock the school for the remainder of the school year.”
  • The powerful message behind ‘Maid’.”—”Single mothers like the character of Alex have often been demonized for relying on public benefits like child care subsidies and nutritional assistance, especially if they are Black or brown. And many policymakers seem to go to great lengths to make relying on public programs the most difficult and humiliating of propositions. Whether it’s providing benefit levels so low that people are virtually guaranteed to run out of food by the end of the month, or requiring in-person visits to benefits offices that aren’t accessible by public transportation, or mandating online reporting on websites that don’t work on mobile phones — the goal is clearly to discourage the use of public benefits, rather than to provide a fallback plan when families hit hard times.”
  • Consternation in New Zealand as native bat included in bird of the year poll. Winged mammal is the first non-bird to be included in the beloved annual poll, which has been running for 16 years.”
  • DC Comics Announces Its New Superman, Jon Kent, is Bisexual.”
  • The Blood Libel is Back, Baby. Antisemitic Tropes in Folklore, Culture, and SFF.”—”What are Tolkien’s dwarves if not diminutive, bearded hoarders who are made to suffer for their greed? What are Rowlings’s goblins if not an updated, bank-controlling rendition of the same, or the Ferengi in Star Trek, for that matter? Are Jewish people doomed to be forever the Other in folklore and fantasy?”
  • Show about the horrors of capitalism leads to more commercialism, go figure: “Netflix to Sell ‘Squid Game’ Goods, Other Products on Walmart Site. The ‘Netflix Hub’ for consumer merchandise is part of the streaming company’s broader effort to diversify revenue and market its content.”
  • Adult Swim: How an Animation Experiment Conquered Late-Night TV. Cartoon Network’s nighttime adult programming block, which turns 20 this week, was built on lo-fi animation techniques that were as much a no-budget necessity as an aesthetic choice.”
  • Tweet—”IATSE wants basic human rights: meal breaks; reasonable rest; secure pension and health benefits; and significant raises for the lowest-paid among them, some of whom make only a few dollars an hour more than minimum wage.” Also “IATSE Members Overwhelmingly Approve Strike Authorization; AMPTP Says It ‘Remains Committed To Reaching An Agreement’.” Tweet—”It’s not a strike *against* the industry because IATSE workers are *part* of the industry, but it’s kinda refreshing to see Deadline misrepresenting the interests of a different union for a change.” Tweet—”The IATSE is the fucking lifeblood of our industry. It would not exist without them. This strike is against the parasites at the top. Fuck Deadline and any other media org that frames it any other way.” Tweet—”If @IATSE is forced to strike, it won’t be ‘workers striking against the industry’. It will be the ‘industry striking against greedy bosses’.”
  • Regé-Jean Page and Noah Hawley Team for Heist Thriller From AGBO, Netflix“—”Anthony and Joe Russo’s AGBO and Netflix are re-teaming for a new heist movie from Emmy-winning storyteller Noah Hawley and starring Emmy nominee Regé-Jean Page. Written and directed Hawley, plot details of the yet-to-be-titled movie are being kept under wraps, but the thriller is based on an original idea from the ‘Fargo’ and ‘Legion’ creator.”
  • Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga will bring Macbeth to Broadway next year. Craig’s James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli is also working on the Sam Gold-directed stage production ahead of its 2022 debut.”
  • Lily-Rose Depp Joins The Weeknd In ‘The Idol’ Drama Series In Works At HBO“—”The Idol follows a female pop singer who starts a romance with an enigmatic L.A. club owner who is the leader of a secret cult. HBO is not commenting, but Depp and Tesfaye are believed to be playing the singer and club owner, respectively.”
  • You’ve Never Heard John Coltrane Like This Before. A rare live performance of the jazz legend’s masterpiece, A Love Supreme, was thought to be lost to history. But it wasn’t.” Tweet thread—”It’s easy to get jaded about posthumous recordings—nice to have, but are they essential? But this one is revelatory, because it forces a radical reconsideration of one of the most famous jazz compositions ever. Also, it’s just such great music.” “Plus the story of how @stephenrgriggs happened upon this find—like a duplicate Mona Lisa, her enigmatic smile intact, but with fair hair and an unfamiliar landscape behind her—is remarkable.”
  • Daughter of 1930s Stonehenge custodian shares her memories of historic site. Jean Grey’s father was the custodian of the stones and the family lived at a cottage at Stonehenge Bottom.” Also “Daughter of 1930s Stonehenge custodian shares memories for new project. The daughter of a former Stonehenge custodian, who lived at the site during the 1930s, has shared her memories of the landmark for an English Heritage project.”
  • Garden statues turn out to be ancient Egyptian relics, selling for $265,000“—”A pair of carved stone statues used as garden ornaments have sold for more than £195,000 ($265,510) after it was revealed that they were ancient Egyptian relics dating back thousands of years, an auction house has said.” “‘Opinion was that they were genuine ancient Egyptian examples, which had somehow passed through recent history as 18th century copies,’ auctioneers said in a statement.”
  • Inside the time warp terrace frozen in the 1870s – now you could buy it for £20k. The two-bedroom Longton property was used as the backdrop for paintings, collages and ‘found’ art inspired by the Victorian and Edwardian eras.” Also there’s a gallery of images. This is in Stoke-on-Trent. I’ve got family history there, even. Of course, I’ve got world headquarters already in a fixer upper 1920s bachelor craftsman bungalow. But I can aspire toward that ideal of mise en scène tho! But, if any of you grab this, I know some people that would like to be invited over for tea.
  • Tweet—”Jamie Lee Curtis is on the red carpet of #HalloweenKills dressed as Marion Crane from #Psycho, the role played by her mother, Janet Leigh, in Alfred Hitchcock’s original film.” Also tweet thread—”Psycho/Halloween THREAD (1/6)”
  • Tweet—”I Photoshop Paddington into another movie until I forget: Day 217.”
  • Tweet—”If an #angel: Looks like a beautiful person full of youth and energy, particularly like a child, RUN. ❌ Looks like a nightmarish abomination from a Cronenberg film, and starts by saying ‘FEAR NOT,’ you’re probably good. ✔ #天使の日”

Omnium Gatherum: 10oct2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for October 10, 2021

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

  • European Film Festival in South Africa. 14 – 24 October 2021. The 8th edition of the European Film Festival in South Africa will present a select curation of 18 top new films from Europe. With South Africa still facing a lot of uncertainty around COVID and following the success of last year’s online festival, the 8th edition will again be predominantly a virtual event. Please diarise the dates and join us for some excellent films free of charge!” Including The Year of The Death of Ricardo Reis dir. João Botelho—”Fernando Pessoa, one of the greatest writers of the Portuguese language, established a gigantic parallel universe creating a series of heteronyms to survive his loneliness of genius. Nobel laureate of literature José Saramago wrote this novel about one of these heteronymous characters, Ricardo Reis, a fictitious author, with unique personality and style, who returns to Portugal, after 16 years of exile in Brazil. 1936 is the year of all danger, Mussolini’s fascism, Hitler’s Nazism, the terrible Spanish civil war and Salazar’s Estado Novo in Portugal, but this is all a delicate backcloth to Ricardo’s dalliances with women and his mysterious encounters with the ghost of Fernando Pessoa. ‘The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis is a unique and magnificent work by José Saramago, but if there is another way of telling this novel, equally unique and magnificent, it is this film unravelling by veteran director João Botelho.’ Botelho’s screenplay and direction is crucially supported by João Ribeiro’s beautiful black and white cinematography, fostering a unique aesthetic-narrative construction for the telling of this story.”
  • John Coulthart has started to offer on demand t-shirts of several designs, including the “Kabbalah: As Above, So Below” with the tree of life as London tube map image that made a cameo on Moore’s Promethea. Also “More shirts.”
  • Philosophy and the Mirror of Technology: Interview with Christopher Tollefsen” About The Way of Medicine, Ethics and the Healing Profession [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Farr Curlin, Christopher Tollefsen—”Today’s medicine is spiritually deflated and morally adrift; this book explains why and offers an ethical framework to renew and guide practitioners in fulfilling their profession to heal. What is medicine and what is it for? What does it mean to be a good doctor? Answers to these questions are essential both to the practice of medicine and to understanding the moral norms that shape that practice. The Way of Medicine articulates and defends an account of medicine and medical ethics meant to challenge the reigning provider of services model, in which clinicians eschew any claim to know what is good for a patient and instead offer an array of “health care services” for the sake of the patient’s subjective well-being. Against this trend, Farr Curlin and Christopher Tollefsen call for practitioners to recover what they call the Way of Medicine, which offers physicians both a path out of the provider of services model and also the moral resources necessary to resist the various political, institutional, and cultural forces that constantly push practitioners and patients into thinking of their relationship in terms of economic exchange. Curlin and Tollefsen offer an accessible account of the ancient ethical tradition from which contemporary medicine and bioethics has departed. Their investigation, drawing on the scholarship of Leon Kass, Alasdair MacIntyre, and John Finnis, leads them to explore the nature of medicine as a practice, health as the end of medicine, the doctor-patient relationship, the rule of double effect in medical practice, and a number of clinical ethical issues from the beginning of life to its end. In the final chapter, the authors take up debates about conscience in medicine, arguing that rather than pretending to not know what is good for patients, physicians should contend conscientiously for the patient’s health and, in so doing, contend conscientiously for good medicine. The Way of Medicine is an intellectually serious yet accessible exploration of medical practice written for medical students, health care professionals, and students and scholars of bioethics and medical ethics.”
  • The Need for a Unified Theory of Imagining“—”The multiplication of ‘imaginations’ in current social and human sciences leads to a logical conclusion: imagining is a ubiquitous human act. Sociological imagination, ecological imagination, philosophical imagination, scientific imagination, musical imagination, etc.: the infinite list of new imaginations pairs along with the infinite multiplication of ‘intelligences’ in psychology – emotional; spatial; mathematical; logical; visual; musical; you name it (Gardner, 2003). The result is to have a concept, prefixed by an adjective, which creates nothing but an umpteenth disciplinary boundary so that one can say, ‘I work in ecological imagination’ and probably have a new journal with the same name. This will lead nowhere in advancing our understanding of imagination. It may be time to rethink imagination as a higher mental function that is implied in all human activities. My long-term research project, culminated in the volume A Theory of Imagining, Knowing, and Understanding (Tateo, 2020), aimed exactly at rethinking the way we consider imagination and at developing a theory of imaginative work as a higher mental function. In other words, I propose to develop a unified theory of imagining.” About A Theory of Imagining, Knowing, and Understanding [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Luca Tateo—”This is a book about imaginative work and its relationship with the construction of knowledge. It is fully acknowledged by epistemologists that imagination is not something opposed to rationality; it is not mere fantasy opposed to intellect. In philosophy and cognitive sciences, imagination is generally “delimiting not much more than the mental ability to interact cognitively with things that are not now present via the senses.” (Stuart, 2017, p. 11) For centuries, scholars and poets have wondered where this capability could come from, whether it is inspired by divinity or it is a peculiar feature of human mind (Tateo, 2017b). The omnipresence of imaginative work in both every day and highly specialized human activities requires a profoundly radical understanding of this phenomenon. We need to work imaginatively in order to achieve knowledge, thus imagination must be something more than a mere flight of fantasy. Considering different stories in the field of scientific endeavor, I will try to propose the idea that the imaginative process is fundamental higher mental function that concurs in our experiencing, knowing and understanding the world we are part of. This book is thus about a theoretical idea of imagining as constant part of the complex whole we call the human psyche. It is a story of human beings striving not only for knowledge and exploration but also striving for imagining possibilities.​”
  • This is Dyslexia: 5 Reasons Everyone Should Read This Book“—”It’s currently World Dyslexia Awareness Month, with British Awareness Week falling between the 4th and 10th October. Kate Griggs discusses her new book, This Is Dyslexia, and five reasons you should pick it up.” About This Is Dyslexia [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Kate Griggs—”The future needs Dyslexic Thinking! British social entrepreneur, founder and CEO of charity Made By Dyslexia, Kate Griggs has been shifting the narrative on dyslexia and educating people on its strengths since 2004. Having been surrounded by an extraordinary ‘smorgasbord of Dyslexic Thinking’ her whole life, Griggs knows the superpower of dyslexia all too well. With a forward from Sir Richard Branson, This is Dyslexia covers everything you need to understand, value and support Dyslexic Thinking. From offering practical advice on how to support the dyslexics in your life to breaking down the 6 Dyslexic Thinking skills in adults, Griggs shares her knowledge in an easily digestible guide. This is Dyslexia redefines and reshapes what it means to be dyslexic. It explores how it has shaped our past and how harnessing its powers and strengths is vital to our future.”
  • As I’ve said in the past, if, so to speak, capital collectively bargains through owners and bosses, then labour should collectively bargain also, anything less is a purposely asymmetrical power arrangement. But unions also need to be better. “Belabored: Toward a Liberatory Unionism, with Eve Livingston.” About Make Bosses Pay: Why We Need Unions [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Eve Livingston—”Think your union doesn’t represent you? Then maybe it’s time to change it. With the world changing at breakneck speed and workers at the whim of apps, bad bosses and zero-hours contracts, why should we care about unions? Aren’t they just for white-haired, middle-aged miners anyway? The government constantly attacks unions, CEOs devote endless time and resources to undermining them, and many unions themselves are stuck in the past. Despite this, inspiring work is happening all the time, from fast food strikes and climate change campaigning to the modernisation of unions for the digital age. Speaking to academics, experts and grassroots organisers from TUC, UNISON, ACORN, IWGB and more, Eve Livingston explores how young workers are organising to demand fair workplaces, and reimagines what an inclusive union movement that represents us all might look like. Working together can change the course of history, and our bosses know that. Yes, you need a union, but your union also needs you!”
  • In defence of memoirs – a way to grip our story-shaped lives“—”I wrote a memoir recently, and sometimes I ask myself why on earth I did. It was difficult and time-consuming, it involved some rather unpleasant self-examination, and it raised suspicions of self-involvement, exhibitionism and insufferable earnestness that I’d so far mainly avoided in life. If I publish it, I risk being accused by friends of betrayal, by readers of lying, and by critics of any number of literary flaws. Since selling a memoir is hard, all of that would represent things going well. When I complain to my sister about this, she suggests that ‘maybe’ I should have – ‘I don’t know’ – considered these points two years ago, before embarking on this thing that she would ‘never, like, ever do’. When asked why they bother, memoirists offer a range of reasons. Saint Teresa did it for the glory of God; Jean-Jacques Rousseau to express his inner self; Vladimir Nabokov to recreate his vanished childhood; Frederick Douglass to advance the cause of abolition. But maybe the deepest reason for writing a memoir, intertwined with all the rest, is the desire to find meaning in one’s past experience. Whatever else they’re up to, memoirists are in the business of locating some form or order in their personal history: setting it down as an intelligible shape, not a hot mess. Finding this form is both a necessary part of memoir and one of its key rewards. That was what I was after, anyway. Life moves so fast. Stuff had gone down. I wanted to slow the passage of events, grasp what the past had meant, before picking up the pace once again.” By Helena de Bres, author of Artful Truths: The Philosophy of Memoir [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”Offers a philosophical perspective on the nature and value of writing a memoir. Artful Truths offers a concise guide to the fundamental philosophical questions that arise when writing a literary work about your own life. Bringing a philosopher’s perspective to a general audience, Helena de Bres addresses what a memoir is, how the genre relates to fiction, memoirists’ responsibilities to their readers and subjects, and the question of why to write a memoir at all. Along the way, she delves into a wide range of philosophical issues, including the nature of the self, the limits of knowledge, the idea of truth, the obligations of friendship, the relationship between morality and art, and the question of what makes a life meaningful. Written in a clear and conversational style, it offers a resource for those who write, teach, and study memoirs, as well as those who love to read them. With a combination of literary and philosophical knowledge, de Bres takes the many challenges directed at memoirists seriously, while ultimately standing in defense of a genre that, for all its perplexities—and maybe partly because of them—continually proves to be both beloved and valuable. ”
  • What does Fluffy think?” About Loving Animals: On Bestiality, Zoophilia and Post-Human Love [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Joanna Bourke—”Sexual contact with non-human animals is one of the last taboos but, for a practice that is generally regarded as abhorrent, it is remarkable how many books, films, plays, paintings and photographs depict the subject. In this book renowned historian Joanna Bourke explores the history of human-animal sexuality and examines how the meanings of the words ‘bestiality’ or ‘zoophilia’ have changed. Are people who are sexually attracted to non-human animals psychiatrically ill, or are they normal people who happen to have a minority sexual orientation? How are we to understand human-animal love, as well as other issues within the discourse surrounding sexuality, such as violence, consent and abuse? This book draws queer theory, post-human philosophy, disability studies and the history of the senses into the debate to ask, what would an ethics of animal loving look like? What does it mean to love non-human animals? More pertinently: what does it mean to love?”
  • Why the Hell We Are Obsessed with Hell“—”Henning is our Virgil on this tour to discover how hell went from the Greek underworld to a space for punishment pursuant to the Christian notion of sin. As she directs us to, we must inspect early Christian writings in order to trace intellectual and religious models for the Inferno, many of which would go on to influence perceptions today.” “The most potent parts of Hell Hath No Fury address ancient prejudices tied to the body and to gender. Henning points to how imagined bodies within hell connect directly to perceptions of real bodies in the present world — and their marginalization. Roman law and society were often cruel to non-normative bodies.” About Hell Hath No Fury: Gender, Disability, and the Invention of Damned Bodies in Early Christian Literature [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Meghan R Henning—”The first major book to examine ancient Christian literature on hell through the lenses of gender and disability studies. Throughout the Christian tradition, descriptions of hell’s fiery torments have shaped contemporary notions of the afterlife, divine justice, and physical suffering. But rarely do we consider the roots of such conceptions, which originate in a group of understudied ancient texts: the early Christian apocalypses. In this pioneering study, Meghan Henning illuminates how the bodies that populate hell in early Christian literature—largely those of women, enslaved persons, and individuals with disabilities—are punished after death in spaces that mirror real carceral spaces, effectually criminalizing those bodies on earth. Contextualizing the apocalypses alongside ancient medical texts, inscriptions, philosophy, and patristic writings, this book demonstrates the ways that Christian depictions of hell intensified and preserved ancient notions of gender and bodily normativity that continue to inform Christian identity.”
  • ‘What I would like is for people to come at the world with lots of different ways of seeing things’; Dr Liam Kofi Bright on the philosophical canon.”—”Liam Kofi Bright [LKB]: I think of canons as a set of shared texts, which it is normatively expected that the people we teach philosophy to will have to engage with – either read them or at least read summaries of them or discuss them in class. It’s what people are meant to be familiar with. What’s in the canon will differ a lot depending on what field you’re in, but in philosophy, in the bits of the English speaking world that I have been part of, typically some familiarity with at least some of Plato’s Republic will be expected, as well as Descartes’ Meditations, and some familiarity with Kant [especially, his Critique of Pure Reason] is typically also required. So, it’s thought that your education as a philosophy student isn’t complete unless you have some working knowledge of these texts. Now, as you go into graduate school this remains, but it will be more sub-discipline specific. For example, I do philosophy of science, and while it’s not the case that Kuhn and Hempel are still driving contemporary research, a student of philosophy of science is still expected to know a bit about what Kuhn and Hempel thought, because that’s part of being educated into philosophy of science. So, it’s basically a shared idea of shared texts which normatively you have to engage with as part of a good education. SVG: What then is the problem with the canon as it’s currently used in teaching philosophy? LKB: My objection is to the idea of a canon, rather than any particular items on it. I think it’s a mistake to think that we need to homogenise or standardise the texts undergrads deal with. I think that there are various benefits to there being a wide variety of skill sets and knowledge bases available in society. As teachers, the little bit we can contribute to that is anti-coordinating our actions, and ensuring that by diverse efforts across the world and across whatever country we are in, we are teaching people different skills, different kinds of knowledge, and different ways of looking at the world. What I would like is for people to come at the world with lots of different ways of seeing things and that’s what I would like to achieve through our teaching. So, from the perspective of the education system as a whole, I would like education systems to produce a diverse set of knowledges, perspectives, outlooks, and so on. And to do that, I think we need to resist the idea of needing a canon, because a canon homogenises what people know.”
  • Catastrophe Capitalism: An Interview with Peer Illner.” About Disasters and Social Reproduction: Crisis Response between the State and Community [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Peer Illner—”A Marxist-feminist approach examining disaster relief in the US. Many communities in the United States have been abandoned by the state. What happens when natural disasters add to their misery? This book looks at the broken relationship between the federal government and civil society in times of crises. Mutual aid has gained renewed importance in providing relief when hurricanes, floods and pandemics hit, as cuts to state spending put significant strain on communities struggling to survive. Harking back to the self-organised welfare programmes of the Black Panther Party, radical social movements from Occupy to Black Lives Matter are building autonomous aid networks within and against the state. However, as the federal responsibility for relief is lifted, mutual aid faces a profound dilemma: do ordinary people become complicit in their own exploitation Reframing disaster relief through the lens of social reproduction, Peer Illner tracks the shifts in American emergency aid, from the economic crises of the 1970s to the Covid-19 pandemic, raising difficult questions about mutual aid’s double-edged role in cuts to social spending. As sea levels rise, climate change worsens and new pandemics sweep the globe, Illner’s analysis of the interrelations between the state, the market and grassroots initiatives will prove indispensable.”
  • What I Learned About My Writing By Seeing Only The Punctuation. I made a web tool that lets you spy your hidden literary style.”—”I love this concept! And he’s right — when you look at those writers’ punctuation, you can see, in a quick glance, how different they are.” Try it out: “just the punctuation.”
  • Hidden Mangrove Forest in the Yucatan Peninsula Reveals Ancient Sea Levels. Researchers investigate an ancient coastal ecosystem found more than 120 miles from the nearest ocean, revealing sea level impacts from the last interglacial period.”—”Deep in the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula, an ancient mangrove ecosystem flourishes more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the nearest ocean. This is unusual because mangroves—salt-tolerant trees, shrubs, and palms—are typically found along tropical and subtropical coastlines. A new study led by researchers across the University of California system in the United States and researchers in Mexico focuses on this luxuriant red mangrove forest. This ‘lost world’ is located far from the coast along the banks of the San Pedro Martir River, which runs from the El Petén rainforests in Guatemala to the Balancán region in Tabasco, Mexico.” “‘The most amazing part of this study is that we were able to examine a mangrove ecosystem that has been trapped in time for more than 100,000 years,’ said study co-author Octavio Aburto-Oropeza, a marine ecologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and a Pew Marine Fellow. ‘There is certainly more to discover about how the many species in this ecosystem adapted throughout different environmental conditions over the past 100,000 years. Studying these past adaptations will be very important for us to better understand future conditions in a changing climate.'”
  • Stunning carvings of human figures and heads are uncovered at Karahantepe – one of the important settlements of the Neolithic period – revealing the artistic skills of people who lived in Turkey 11,000 years ago. Carvings of human figures and heads have been uncovered at an important settlement of Neolithic period. The discovery at Karahantepe in Turkey reveals the artistic skills of people who lived there 11,000 years ago. So far more than 250 T-shaped megaliths featuring animal depictions have been found at the excavation site. Digging at the site first began in 2019 and has also led to the discovery of a building with a diameter of 75ft.”
  • Scientists spot giant ‘mystery creature’ while exploring shipwreck. Talk about a real-life Squid Game.”—”It’s cool enough to find a shipwreck. It’s even better to spot a massive, mysterious sea creature hanging out with the wreck. That’s what happened to the crew of the OceanX OceanXplorer research vessel during an expedition in the Red Sea in late 2020.” “The researchers spotted either the same squid or others like it during subsequent dives. Vecchione said they represent ‘the giant form’ of the purpleback flying squid.”
  • The American Bumblebee Has Vanished From Eight States. In two decades, the insect’s population has declined by nearly 90 percent due to a combination of threats, including habitat loss, pesticides and diseases.”
  • The Math of the Amazing Sandpile. To understand self-organization in nature, behold the sandpile.”—”Remember domino theory? One country going Communist was supposed to topple the next, and then the next, and the next. The metaphor drove much of United States foreign policy in the middle of the 20th century. But it had the wrong name. From a physical point of view, it should have been called the ‘sandpile theory.’ Real-world political phase transitions tend to happen not in neat sequences, but in sudden coordinated fits, like the Arab Spring, or the collapse of the Eastern Bloc. These reflect quiet periods punctuated by crises—like a sandpile. You can add grains of sand to the top of a sandpile for a while, to no apparent effect. Then, all at once, an avalanche sweeps sand down from the top in an irregular pattern, possibly setting off little sub-avalanches as it goes. This analogy doesn’t necessarily get us anywhere. After all, real sand is hard to analyze, just like real politics. But here’s the miracle. A kind of abstraction of a sandheap, known as the ‘abelian sandpile model,’ created by physicists Per Bak, Chao Tang, and Kurt Wiesenfeld in 1987, seems to capture some of the rich, chaotic features of real sandpiles, not to mention other complex systems from biology, physics, and social science—while remaining simple enough to study mathematically.”
  • Are more humorous children more intelligent? A case from Turkish culture.“—”This study aimed to investigate the relationship between intelligence and humor ability in a Turkish sample. The sample included 217 middle-school students with a wide range of intelligence measured by a Turkish intelligence test (ASIS). Humor ability was measured using the Humor Ability Assessment Form. Students were instructed to write captions for 10 cartoons that were as funny and relevant as possible. Seven experts rated the funniness of the captions and their relevance to the cartoons, yielding a total of 30,380 ratings (217 students × 10 cartoons × two criteria × seven experts). The findings showed that both general intelligence and the second-level components (verbal ability, visual-spatial ability, and memory) had high correlations with humor ability. Intelligence explained 68% of the variance in humor ability. Among the third-level factors, verbal analogical reasoning was the primary predictor of humor ability (β = 0.325, p < 0.001). Humor ability scores significantly differed across intelligence clusters, implying that highly humorous children may be highly intelligent." Also "Class act: Clever children tell better jokes“—”Children with higher levels of general knowledge and verbal reasoning are better able to produce humor, new research carried out on Turkish schoolchildren suggests.” “Both humor and intelligence are shaped by cultural norms, beliefs and values. A joke considered hilarious in one culture may not be funny in another. Likewise, a particular behavior may be considered a sign of high intelligence in one culture but other cultures may find such behavior inappropriate. Thus, the influence of intelligence on humorous behaviors should be evaluated in specific cultures, the study’s authors state. ‘While humor is frequently used for entertainment by adults, children use it mostly for peer acceptance. Therefore, the nature of adult and child humor differs,’ said lead author Professor Ugur Sak from Anadolu University, Turkey. ‘We were particularly interested in the quality of humor made by children but evaluated by adults. Parents and teachers should be aware that if their children or students frequently make good quality humor, it is highly likely that they have extraordinary intelligence.'”
  • Photos from NASA’s Perseverance rover indicate ancient flash floods on Mars“—”A new study from the team behind NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover reveals that areas of Mars — specifically the Jezero Crater, an area scientists think may hold keys to ancient Martian life — experienced ‘significant’ flash floods that carved the landscape into the rocky wasteland we see today. The team says they based their findings on images the rover took of sediment that gathered at the end of an ancient river that fed a lake inside the Jezero Crater. The photos, taken during a landing on February 18 and published on Thursday, suggest that billions of years ago, Mars had a thick atmosphere that could support large quantities of water. The sediment seen in the pictures shows a now-barren river delta that experienced ‘late-stage flooding events’ whose waters carried boulders and debris from Mars highlands to the banks of the crater.”
  • BepiColombo gets first glimpse of Mercury “The European-Japanese BepiColombo spacecraft swept past Mercury on Friday, 1 October, in the first of six high-speed flybys to gradually set up the probe’s trajectory for a critical manoeuvre in 2025 to enter orbit around the Solar System’s innermost planet.” “BepiColombo zipped just 199 kilometers (123 miles) above Mercury’s airless surface at 2334 GMT Friday, speeding by the planet barely seven weeks after flying by Venus, according to the European Space Agency.” Watch “Meeting Mercury“—”A beautiful sequence of 53 images taken by the monitoring cameras on board the ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission as the spacecraft made its first close flyby of its destination planet Mercury on 1 October 2021.”
  • Planet with iron rainfall is even more extreme than scientists thought.”—”On this sizzling exoplanet hundreds of light-years from Earth, droplets of iron rain fall from the sky at night. Now, researchers have also detected sodium and ionized calcium in the planet’s atmosphere, based on observations from the Gemini North Telescope, which is located near the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The new findings suggest the planet, named WASP-76b, is even hotter than scientists expected.” Also “Spectrum reveals extreme exoplanet is even more exotic.”
  • Transient Luminous Event is my new psychedelic cover band. “Astronaut spots rare and ethereal ‘transient luminous event’ from ISS. ‘Elves and sprites are very real,’ says ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet.”—””Transient luminous event” sounds like a euphemism for a ghost, but it’s actually a beautiful phenomenon that can sometimes be seen from the International Space Station. European Space Agency astronaut and current ISS resident Thomas Pesquet shared a view of an ethereal blue glow emerging over Europe. Transient luminous events are caused by upper-atmospheric lightning. This one happened in early September and Pesquet tweeted about it this week, calling it ‘a very rare occurrence.'”
  • Single Cells Evolve Large Multicellular Forms in Just Two Years. Researchers have discovered that environments favoring clumpy growth are all that’s needed to quickly transform single-celled yeast into complex multicellular organisms.”
  • Cancer breakthrough: Exercise may stop disease in its tracks. Forget bedrest: ECU research has shown exercise may be a key weapon in cancer patients’ battle against the disease.”
  • Scientists are one step closer to error-correcting quantum computers. Multiple quantum bits were combined into one ‘logical qubit’ to detect mistakes.”—”Combining the power of multiple qubits into one can solve the error woes, researchers report October 4 in Nature. Scientists used nine qubits to make a single, improved qubit called a logical qubit, which, unlike the individual qubits from which it was made, can be probed to check for mistakes.”
  • Ship Tracks Over the Ocean Inspire Researchers For a Way to Cool The Earth. It’s simple science really: Bright surfaces absorb less heat.”—”Climate change is a given. There’s no denying it. And up to now, it does not seem that we have found an effective way to deal with it. Now, a team based at the University of Washington the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), and the Pacific Northwest National Library have come up with an innovative solution to tackle climate change by using clouds to thwart global warming. ‘The Marine Cloud Brightening Project is an open, international collaboration of atmospheric scientists and other experts to advance understanding of cloud responses to aerosol particles. We specifically are interested in exploring the potential for intentionally brightening marine low clouds by augmenting the natural marine aerosol particle population,’ write the researchers on their page. The researchers got their inspiration from brighter clouds produced by ship emissions which in turn can produce a cooling effect via processes that occur naturally in the atmosphere. The researchers then pondered: What if they could achieve this cooling effect without releasing the greenhouse gases and toxic pollutants that ships emit?”
  • A Bitcoin Mining Operation Started a Secret Power Plant, It Did Not Go as Planned [Corrected]. Busted by the neighbors, Link Global is now facing a $5.6 million fine in Canada.”—”A There Will Be Blood-style drama unfolds in Canada, where a Bitcoin mining operation tapped an unused natural gas well near a wealthy neighborhood in Alberta. The company Link Global might have gotten away with the clandestine operation if not for noise complaints from area hot tub owners. This story has everything.”
  • We need to talk about Facebook PR guy Andy Stone. He’s making no friends with his brash and combative Twitter presence. What the hell are he and his employer thinking?” Tweet—”The increasingly combative Twitter presence of a couple Facebook PR folks is puzzling *if* you assume the main audience is the press or the public, as this piece does. But if you assume the audience is Facebook execs & employees, it makes total sense.” Or, you know, like a Dump Truckian press secretary, they’re doing it primarily for Zuckerberg’s consumption.
  • Imagine the End of Facebook“—”It is easier to imagine Facebook causing the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of Facebook.”
  • We are skipping towards a high-tech surveillance state run by unaccountable tech companies, but we’ll sure look cool on our way there. Don’t be fooled by Facebook’s new ‘cool’ Ray-Ban smart glasses, there is nothing cool about letting strangers unknowingly film you.” Also “Facebook Is Making Camera Glasses, Ha Ha Oh No. Ray-Ban Stories can take photos and videos with a touch of a button and send them to your phone.”—”Knowing that Facebook is discussing building facial recognition into these things curdles the stomach.” “The privacy features for the glasses wearer are decent; privacy features for the rest of the world? Not so much. The implications for our souls? Hopelessly unclear.”
  • ‘Neurograins’ Could be the Next Brain-Computer Interfaces. Dozens of microchips scattered over the cortical surface might allow researchers to listen in on thousands of neurons at the same time.”
  • I’m Not Afraid of AI Overlords— I’m Afraid of Whoever’s Training Them To Think That Way“—”So I’ll say it again: It is no surprise that these systems reproduce bad prejudicial social outcomes, when they have been repeatedly and consistently designed, built, trained, and taught to operate with these prejudicial values in mind.”
  • Social media influencer/model created from artificial intelligence lands 100 sponsorships“—”‘Rozy’ is a virtual human that was created Sidus Studio X last year in August. Her age will forever be 22, and she has been keeping an active presence online as a real human since December of last year. In particular, this virtual human began gaining much attention as she appeared in an advertisement for Shinhan Life in July.” “CEO Baek Seung Yeop also shared Rozy’s future plans. He explained that the company plans to expand Rozy’s scope of activities, moving on to movies, dramas, and entertainment shows. As CEO Baek said, the reason for the popularity of virtual humans is that there is no fear that advertisements will be suspended due to unsavory privacy scandals after the AI model is selected as the advertising model. In addition, the location and scene can be created through computer graphics, so the virtual model is not limited in time and space, and unlike real people. The other advantage is that period in which the model can be active is very long or eternal because the virtual human doesn’t get sick or grow old.” Also “Lifelike virtual humans dominate Korean marketing industry“—”A woman in a YouTube commercial for an insurance company shows off her attractive appearance and dancing skills. This ad exceeded 10 million views in under a month. Yet the public initially failed to notice something important — she is a ‘virtual human.’ People expressed surprise after their discovery, with messages like ‘I wanted to search for who the model was and couldn’t believe she was a virtual human’ and ‘It’s surprising how realistic she is given that she is a graphic.’ The golden age of virtual humans has begun.”
  • Meet the Little-Known Genius Who Helped Make Pixar Possible. Alvy Ray Smith helped invent computer animation as we know it—then got royally shafted by Steve Jobs. Now he’s got a vision for where the pixel will take us next.”—”‘As far as history goes, I feel like he got shafted, both in Pixar history and in computer graphics history in general,’ says Pam Kerwin, a former Pixar colleague. ‘Everything that you currently use in Photoshop right now basically came from Alvy.’ Even self-­driving cars and augmented reality, ‘which are all about image processing, machine vision … Alvy and his colleagues brought all that stuff into the world.'”
  • Delta variant vaccinated vs. unvaccinated: This new CDC chart shows how well COVID-19 vaccines work. Fully vaccinated individuals have a much greater chance of not being impacted by COVID-19, whether that impact is via infection, hospitalization, or death.”
  • Political bickering over COVID causing distress, says top psychiatrist“—”Political bickering over the COVID-19 pandemic has fuelled psychological distress in the population by feeding into a broader social disintegration, leading psychiatrist Gordon Parker has warned. There has been a 30 to 50 per cent increase in the number of people presenting at hospitals with psychological distress and a 30 per cent increase in adolescents with suicidal or self-harm tendencies, government figures show.” Or, you know, correlation not being causation, maybe the distress about the pandemic is endemic and self-explanatory. But, also, the bickering.
  • Eine kleine Paranoia“—”Daily life has always created trace resonances ripe for paranoia. Ever since the first sociologists, huddled around Durkheim, pointed out that modern life is pretty fucking alienating, there has been more room to go insane.” “Are we living in a pandemic of paranoia, or is it simply the phenomenon of being birthed with a psyche to begin with, and of having to negotiate the vicissitudes of this world mentally, always slipping and sliding back and forth between the on and off button, between the paranoid/schizoid and the depressive point of possible reparation, a progression. It is continually important to acknowledge the ways in which we might lose all or part of our minds. The recent movements back and forth positionally and psychically have led us into a basic agitation, and one world might very much feel like it is ending. That’s why it’s exciting to try and remember this next birth, to cling to it, to not let it go too far astray, so that we may know its dreads, its anxieties, but also its chances for profound reparations.”
  • Far-Right Granddaughter of Benito Mussolini Wins Election as Rome City Councilor.”
  • From Gender Critical to QAnon: Anti-Trans Politics and the Laundering of Conspiracy. Stated disavowal of their own bias doesn’t account for how liberals rhetorically shelter political violence.”—”In the outcome, we can grasp the key mechanics of the growing relation of gender-critical punditry to QAnon, an overlooked process structuring this year’s unprecedented legislative assault on trans children. This symbiotic relationship between liberal anti-transness and extremist conspiracy theory bears serious repercussions for organizing effectively against the growing ubiquity of anti-trans platforms in authoritarianism. Anti-trans movements demonstrate that conspiracy and disinformation are not outside of, but rather are central to, liberal political institutions. Indeed, anti-trans speech is increasingly the very means by which to launder extremism and conspiracy theory into democratic institutions, with disastrous results.”
  • Who Lost the Sex Wars? Fissures in the feminist movement should not be buried as signs of failure but worked through as opportunities for insight.”—”But my women students quickly discover, as an earlier generation did, that there is no monolithic ‘women’s experience’: that their experiences are inflected by distinctions in class, race, and nationality, by whether they are trans or cis, gay or straight, and also by the less classifiable distinctions of political instinct—their feelings about authority, hierarchy, technology, community, freedom, risk, love. My students soon find, in turn, that the vast body of feminist theory is riddled with disagreement. It is possible to show them that working through these ‘wars’ can be intellectually productive, even thrilling. But I sense that some small disappointment remains. Nelson suggests that looking to the past for the glimmer of liberatory possibilities ‘inevitably produces the dashed hope that someone, somewhere, could have or should have enacted or ensured our liberation.’ Within feminism, that dashed hope provides ‘yet another opportunity to blame one’s foremothers for not having been good enough.'”
  • California requires free tampons in public schools“—”The move comes as women’s rights advocates push nationwide for affordable access to pads, tampons and other items. California’s latest effort builds on a 2017 law requiring low-income schools in disadvantaged areas to provide students with free menstrual products. It expands the law to include grades 6 to 12, community colleges and the California State University and University of California systems, starting in the 2022-23 school year. It encourages private schools and colleges to follow suit.”
  • Black Children Were Jailed for a Crime That Doesn’t Exist. Almost Nothing Happened to the Adults in Charge. Judge Donna Scott Davenport oversees a juvenile justice system in Rutherford County, Tennessee, with a staggering history of jailing children. She said kids must face consequences, which rarely seem to apply to her or the other adults in charge.”
  • Global Deal to End Tax Havens Moves Ahead as Nations Back 15% Rate. More than 130 countries agreed to set a minimum tax rate of 15 percent as governments look to end a race to the bottom on corporate taxation.”
  • Religious Exemptions for Vaccine Mandates Shouldn’t Exist. Freedom of religion was never meant to excuse people from obligations that apply to everyone.”
  • Are Islamic philosophers critical of authority? Irreverence is a feature of Western thought, but in Islamic philosophy failing to question power is an intellectual sin.”—”All this sheds an interesting light on a frequently asked question, which is why the Islamic world never experienced something like the European Enlightenment. Of course, that’s a complicated issue. But part of the answer might simply be this: to the extent that ‘enlightenment’ involves the emergence of intellectuals who step back from the typical views of their society, and critically evaluate prevailing religious and philosophical ideas, the Islamic world was already ‘enlightened’ during the European Middle Ages.”
  • Let’s Talk About Sex. At Prada and Versace, the clothes made it the main topic of conversation.”—”After more than a year of lockdown and isolation, we are all craving physical contact, and after the same amount of time spent getting reacquainted with our bodies, we are happier to expose them to view; between Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, sex has become part of the general political conversation in a way it never was before; there’s an explosion of hedonism waiting to happen, a need for release after all this pent-up emotion; it’s a basic human instinct, no matter how grim the global situation (maybe especially when the global situation is grim). Just pick your rationalization.”
  • Film Reels Dredged from the Sea Become an Eerie Meditation on Mortality“—”Each film print records two stories: the one a crew conjured together however long ago, and the record of everything that’s happened to the strip since its creation. The vagaries of the projection, transportation, and preservation of physical film leave it vulnerable to damage. Many archival projects focus on the first story, but Morrison is interested in both. Cinema is an illusion of life, but in letting imperfections intrude upon the experience, he turns these illusions into specters, or memories. The past is both dead and present. Finding some reels of Village Detective may not in itself be remarkable, but this specific reel has its own unique story, and Morrison finds value in that. His interrogation of the water-warped images becomes a rumination on mortality.” About The Village Detective: A Song Cycle [Amazon, Publisher] dir. by Bill Morrison.
  • Fantasia 2021, Part XVIII: Hotel Poseidon“—”Choulequec” is a 26-minute short film from France, written and directed by Benoit Blanc and Matthias Girbig, and it’s quite charming in an absurd way. It follows a man, Lucas Lesol (Girbig), searching for Alma (Billie Blain), his missing 16-year-old daughter. On a rural highway he crosses the city limits of the town of Choulequec and finds himself in a bizarre place where an officious sheriff, Chépair (one of two roles for Benoit Blanc), has made up absurd laws. It starts out less like Kafka and more like Alice In Wonderland, possessed of the same left-field logic, and as it goes on becomes increasingly surreal.” “Hotel Poseidon is a movie that has the sheer filmmaking craft to do just what it wants, building a filthy and decayed setting and following its main character through a range of surreal incidents. At one viewing I do not see a coherent theme in the movie. I see several possible themes, but nothing that the action on screen insists upon. It does feel as though there is matter here, as though watching it again might give me a way to connect the dots in a way that gives the thing more meaning. Certainly I can understand why some viewers might love the movie. As of right now, though, I can’t feel it.” Watch “CHOULEQUEC (court-métrage)“. Also watch “Hotel Poseidon“, official trailer.
  • Watch “Germán Santillán: A taste of Mexico’s ancient chocolate-making tradition | TED”—”Dating back more than 800 years, chocolate is deeply woven into the Indigenous history of Oaxaca, Mexico. TED Fellow Germán Santillán talks about his work reviving the Mixtec technique used to prepare this ancient delicacy by training a new generation of local farmers — helping create economic opportunity and preserve a delicious legacy at the same time.”
  • Marie Wilcox, Who Saved Her Native Language From Extinction, Dies at 87. The subject of a Times Op-Doc, she was, for a time, the last fluent speaker of Wukchumni and spent 20 years producing the first complete dictionary of its vocabulary.”
  • Watch “Becoming SQUID GAME Host in GTA 5! (GTA 5 Mods).” Also “Playing SQUID GAME in Minecraft!.”
  • Tweet—”It has come to my attention that not everyone knows this so I am once again tweeting: 24hrs after a traumatic event, or as soon as you are safe, play Tetris. It SIGNIFICANTLY reduces likelihood of intrusive memories:” from 2015 “Computer Game Play Reduces Intrusive Memories of Experimental Trauma via Reconsolidation-Update Mechanisms“—”Memory of a traumatic event becomes consolidated within hours. Intrusive memories can then flash back repeatedly into the mind’s eye and cause distress. We investigated whether reconsolidation—the process during which memories become malleable when recalled—can be blocked using a cognitive task and whether such an approach can reduce these unbidden intrusions. We predicted that reconsolidation of a reactivated visual memory of experimental trauma could be disrupted by engaging in a visuospatial task that would compete for visual working memory resources. We showed that intrusive memories were virtually abolished by playing the computer game Tetris following a memory-reactivation task 24 hr after initial exposure to experimental trauma. Furthermore, both memory reactivation and playing Tetris were required to reduce subsequent intrusions (Experiment 2), consistent with reconsolidation-update mechanisms. A simple, noninvasive cognitive-task procedure administered after emotional memory has already consolidated (i.e., > 24 hours after exposure to experimental trauma) may prevent the recurrence of intrusive memories of those emotional events.”
  • Tweet thread—”I bought a bag of this #brachsturkeydinnercandycorn a while back and have been saving them for #nationalspookymonth. I’m a #registereddietitian and this is my honest review as a nutrition professional. Ahem. 1/18″
  • James Gunn Trolls Facebook Users Over Never-Found GotG Easter Egg. Director James Gunn tells fans to check Facebook for a Guardians of the Galaxy Easter egg while Facebook and Instagram were down for several hours.”—”Editor’s Note: When this article was originally posted, it mistakenly labeled Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Easter egg as ‘non-existent.’ However, this is not the case. The article has since been edited and CBR regrets the mistake.”
  • ‘WandaVision’ Spinoff Starring Kathryn Hahn in the Works at Disney Plus (EXCLUSIVE)
  • ‘Awesome’ warrior queen Boudicca seen in Norfolk clouds. A photograph of a cloud formation resembling the East Anglian warrior queen Boudicca has been described as ‘awesome’, by a weather expert.”
  • Neural networks drawing Cthulhu: ““cthulhu” in r/MediaSynthesis
  • Watch “The Best-Preserved Pair of Skis from Prehistory“—”We have found the best-preserved pair of skis from prehistory! Back in 2014, the Secrets of the Ice program found an exceptional pre-Viking ski, 1300 years old, at the Digervarden Ice patch in Norway. The ski was complete, including the binding – one of only two skis from prehistory in this condition. Ever since, we have monitored the ice patch, hoping and praying for the second ski of the pair to melt out. Now it has happened! The new ski is even better preserved than the first one! It is an unbelievable find.” Also “The Best-Preserved Pair of Skis from Prehistory.”

Omnium Gatherum: 6oct2021

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

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

  • ‘Bristol Merlin’ manuscript fragments featured in new book“—”Fans of the Arthurian stories were intrigued to learn of the discovery, in 2019, of seven manuscript fragments of the Old French Suite Vulgate du Merlin, as The Wild Hunt reported on in February of 2019. The manuscripts were found in a set of early printed books in Bristol’s main library, and were essentially cannibalised fragments of an earlier tale, now used for binding. This was relatively common practice in an age where paper and parchment were precious and were often re-used.” About The Bristol Merlin: Revealing the Secrets of a Medieval Fragment [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Leah Tether, Laura Chuhan Campbell, and Benjamin Pohl—”The discovery of seven manuscript fragments of the Old French Suite Vulgate du Merlin in a set of early printed books in the Bristol Central Library hit global headlines in 2019. This book contains a comprehensive study of these fascinating Arthurian fragments. Beginning with an extensive contextual history, the authors reveal details of the fragments’ origin, their importation to England, and their subsequent journey to a waste pile in a bookbinder’s workshop, where they would be incorporated into the bindings of a four-volume edition of the works of Jean Gerson in the early sixteenth century. A full enquiry into the provenance of these host volumes sets out the possible routes from the bookbinder’s workshop to their final home in Bristol Central Library. Using multi-spectral imaging to read the damaged sections of text, the authors also provide a full edition and translation of the narrative contained in the fragments.”
  • Oedipus Trilogy: New Versions of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Sophocles, trans. with introduction by Bryan Doerries—”Fresh, new translations of Sophocles’s three Theban plays by acclaimed theater director Bryan Doerries, which emphasize the contemporary relevance of these classic Greek tragedies. Here are Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone in fresh new versions for contemporary readers and audiences. Each has been the basis for groundbreaking theatrical performances by Theater of War Productions, in which actors present dramatic readings, followed by town hall-style discussions. These forums are designed to confront social issues by evoking raw, personal reactions to themes highlighted in the plays. The Oedipus Project is an innovative digital initiative that presents scenes from Oedipus the King as a catalyst for frank and restorative online conversations about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on diverse communities. First performed in 429 BC during the time of a plague that killed one-third of the Athenian population, it is a story of arrogant leadership, ignored prophecy, and a pestilence that ravages the city of Thebes—a story that is as relevant now as it was in its own time. The Oedipus at Colonus Project presents readings of scenes from Sophocles’ final play, Oedipus at Colonus, for powerful, community-driven conversations about homelessness, the immigration and refugee crises, and the challenges of eldercare during and after the pandemic. Antigone in Ferguson is a pioneering project that fuses dramatic readings from Antigone with live choral music, culminating in powerful, healing discussions about race and social justice. Antigone in Ferguson was conceived in the wake of Michael Brown’s death in 2014, through a collaboration between Theater of War Productions and community members from Ferguson, Missouri, and premiered at Normandy High School, Michael Brown’s alma mater.”
  • How Did Kansas Become Ground Zero For the Imminent Water Crisis?” Excerpt from Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Lucas Bessire—”The Ogallala aquifer has nourished life on the American Great Plains for millennia. But less than a century of unsustainable irrigation farming has taxed much of the aquifer beyond repair. The imminent depletion of the Ogallala and other aquifers around the world is a defining planetary crisis of our times. Running Out offers a uniquely personal account of aquifer depletion and the deeper layers through which it gains meaning and force. Anthropologist Lucas Bessire journeyed back to western Kansas, where five generations of his family lived as irrigation farmers and ranchers, to try to make sense of this vital resource and its loss. His search for water across the drying High Plains brings the reader face to face with the stark realities of industrial agriculture, eroding democratic norms, and surreal interpretations of a looming disaster. Yet the destination is far from predictable, as the book seeks to move beyond the words and genres through which destruction is often known. Instead, this journey into the morass of eradication offers a series of unexpected discoveries about what it means to inherit the troubled legacies of the past and how we can take responsibility for a more inclusive, sustainable future. An urgent and unsettling meditation on environmental change, Running Out is a revelatory account of family, complicity, loss, and what it means to find your way back home.”
  • How Fanfiction Can Inspire a Meaningful Cultural Activism and Challenge Social Stigmas.” Excerpt from Dubcon: Fanfiction, Power, and Sexual Consent [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Milena Popova—”How the treatment of sexual consent in erotic fanfiction functions as a form of cultural activism. Sexual consent is–at best–a contested topic in Western societies and cultures. The #MeToo movement has brought public attention to issues of sexual consent, revealing the endemic nature of sexual violence. Feminist academic approaches to sexual violence and consent are diverse and multidisciplinary–and yet consent itself is significantly undertheorized. In Dubcon, Milena Popova points to a community that has been considering issues of sex, power, and consent for many years: writers and readers of fanfiction. Their nuanced engagement with sexual consent, Popova argues, can shed light on these issues in ways not available to either academia or journalism. Popova explains that the term “dubcon” (short for “dubious consent”) was coined by the fanfiction community to make visible the gray areas between rape and consent–for example, in situations where the distribution of power may limit an individual’s ability to give meaningful consent to sex. Popova offers a close reading of three fanfiction stories in the Omegaverse genre, examines the “arranged marriage” trope, and discusses the fanfiction community’s response when a sports star who was a leading character in RPF (real person fiction) was accused of rape. Proposing that fanfiction offers a powerful discursive resistance on issues of rape and consent that challenges dominant discourses about gender, romance, sexuality, and consent, Popova shows that fanfiction functions as a form of cultural activism.”
  • Make of this Language a Shrine: A Review of The Wheel and wyrd] bird.” About The Wheel [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by AM Ringwalt—”We sat on the floor of a spare bedroom in my grandparents’ house. The walls were yellow, the bedsheets and curtains decorated with a matching rose-patterned fabric. I could hear the sound of the dryer through the wall, its suggestion of warmth and cleanliness. From a glass cabinet, alongside countless other items, a ceramic figurine of a German Shephard looked toward me. The ceramic dog, a banal emblem of my father’s childhood, was the tallest figurine on the shelf. It loomed, simultaneously ambivalent and innocent. I thought about my grandmother in the seventies, walking her German Shephard to the Pacific Ocean, trying to forget. I thought about the olive trees.” And wyrd] bird [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Claire Marie Stancek—”In times fraught with ecological and individual loss, Claire Marie Stancek’s wyrd] bird grapples with both the necessity and apparent impossibility of affirming mystical experience. It is at once a book-length lyric essay on the 12th-century German mystic Hildegard of Bingen, a dream journal, a fragmentary notebook, a collection of poems, and a scrapbook of photographic ephemera. Stancek follows Hildegard as she guides the poet through an underworld of climate catastrophe and political violence populated by literary, mythical, and historical figures from Milton’s Eve to the biblical Satan to Keats’s hand. The book deconstructs a Western tradition of good and evil by rereading, cross-questioning, and upsetting some of that tradition’s central poetic texts. By refusing and confusing dualistic logic, wyrd] bird searches for an expression of visionary experience that remains rooted in the body, a mode of questioning that echoes out into further questioning, and a cry of elegiac loss that grips, stubbornly, onto love.”
  • Colin Meloy’s novel is becoming a full-length stop-motion movie.” Colin Meloy, member of The Decemberists, is author of Wildwood, illustrated by Carson Ellis. And this is being developed by Laika! Lots of Portland, OR happening in this news. “Laika’s Next Feature ‘Wildwood’ Is in Production, Based on Novel By The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy.”—”‘As a deep-dyed native son of Oregon, I have rainwater, microbrew, and fair-trade coffee coursing through my veins,’ said Knight, who won the BAFTA for his directorial debut film ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ and also helmed the live-action hit ‘Bumblebee.’ ‘With Wildwood, I have the opportunity to tell a madly ambitious story of magic, wonder, and danger set in the place I grew up. My very own Portland will join that pantheon of unforgettable fantasy realms, with a stirring epic that will kindle imaginations, lift spirits, and break hearts.'” About Wildwood [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Colin Maloy, illo. Carson Ellis—”For fans of the Chronicles of Narnia comes the first book in the Wildwood Chronicles, the New York Times bestselling fantasy adventure series by Colin Meloy, lead singer of the Decemberists, and Carson Ellis, acclaimed illustrator of The Mysterious Benedict Society. Wildwood captivates readers with the wonder and thrill of a secret world within the landscape of a modern city. It feels at once firmly steeped in the classics of children’s literature and completely fresh. The story is told from multiple points of view, and the book features more than eighty illustrations, including six full-color plates, making this an absolutely gorgeous object. In Wildwood, Prue and her friend Curtis uncover a secret world in the midst of violent upheaval—a world full of warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions. And what begins as a rescue mission becomes something much greater as the two friends find themselves entwined in a struggle for the very freedom of this wilderness. A wilderness the locals call Wildwood. The bestselling trilogy from Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis consists of Wildwood, Under Wildwood, and Wildwood Imperium.”
  • Read the short story that introduced Jeeves the butler to the world.”—”Jeeves only appears twice in ‘Extricating Young Gussie,’ performing traditional valet tasks; Wodehouse hadn’t invented Jeeves’s personality yet. In a letter to the novelist Lawrence Durrell, Wodehouse explained his thought process behind making Jeeves a problem-solver: ‘It never occurred to me at the time that he would ever do anything except appear at doors and announce people. Then—I don’t think it was the next Bertie story but the one after that—I had got Bertie’s friend into a bad tangle of some sort and I saw how to solve the problem but my artistic soul revolted at the idea of having Bertie suggest the solution. It would have been absolutely out of character. Then who? For a long time I was baffled, and then I suddenly thought ‘Why not make Jeeves a man of brains and ingenuity and have him do it?’ After that, of course, it was all simple and the stories just rolled out one after the other.’ Despite his limited presence here, ‘Extricating Young Gussie’-era Jeeves is already unflappable: when suddenly told he and Wooster are leaving for America, his only question is which suit Bertie will wear. Even the earliest version of Jeeves, we know, is poised to ‘buttle with the best of them.'”
  • Ebooks Are an Abomination. If you hate them, it’s not your fault.”—”Perhaps you’ve noticed that ebooks are awful. I hate them, but I don’t know why I hate them. Maybe it’s snobbery. Perhaps, despite my long career in technology and media, I’m a secret Luddite. Maybe I can’t stand the idea of looking at books as computers after a long day of looking at computers as computers. I don’t know, except for knowing that ebooks are awful. If you hate ebooks like I do, that loathing might attach to their dim screens, their wonky typography, their weird pagination, their unnerving ephemerality, or the prison house of a proprietary ecosystem. If you love ebooks, it might be because they are portable, and legible enough, and capable of delivering streams of words, fiction and nonfiction, into your eyes and brain with relative ease. Perhaps you like being able to carry a never-ending stack of books with you wherever you go, without having to actually lug them around. Whether you love or hate ebooks is probably a function of what books mean to you, and why.” Also “Will the Next Philosophy Book You Acquire Be an E-Book? (with poll).” Personally, I’m an early ebook adopter. I’ve had a dedicated ebook reader since the late 90s, and had a Rocket eBook! Amazon destroyed them, but the new Kindle Oasis has striking, almost disturbing, callbacks to that early device; like, Amazon is wearing the Rocket’s corpse for clothing, but also, in many ways, in spite of some changes, look how far we have not really progressed much from what was available then.
  • Dan Kramer Atari Engineering Notebook“—”This is a scan of Dan Kramer’s Atari engineering notebook. It contains his notes from October 2 1980 through February 11 1982. Lovingly scanned by Kay Savetz on September 13, 2021. The original was returned to Dan. Dan Kramer worked at Atari from 1980 to 1984 in the consumer engineering group where he created products for Atari home computers and home video games. He championed the creation of the Trak-Ball accessories for the Atari game consoles and computers, and received a patent for his digital-to-analog interface for the Atari 5200 trak-ball. He also worked on the Atari 2700 and various other projects.”
  • On Ancient Aliens, Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, and the Unhinged Pleasures of Speculative Nonfiction.”
  • The Library of Things We Forgot to Remember is a new kind of library.”—”Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai’s The Library of Things We Forgot to Remember is an archive of materials including vinyls, posters, and paintings drawn from private African collections; among other materials, the collection includes Chiurai’s own personal collection of 1970s-80s vinyl records associated with liberation movements in Southern Africa, recordings of political speeches, and digital recordings from the Freedom Archives. The archive has been exhibited in Harare, Cape Town, Kalmar, Södertälje, and Johannesburg, and will be exhibited in Paris later this year. But when it is, it won’t look the same as it did in Johannesburg: notably, each time the Library is exhibited, Chiurai invites a different librarian to curate it.”
  • Giant Viruses and the Tree of Life“—”The discovery of giant viruses and their virophages immediately reopened an old question: are viruses alive? Viruses had been excluded from the tree of life because they lacked the machinery needed either to reproduce or to synthesize proteins. A virus must hijack a cell before it can do either. But when scientists realized that viruses are more complex than originally presumed—encoding several thousand genes and becoming infected by other viruses—they began to suspect that viruses might be alive after all. When a virophage infects a Mimiviridae, it seems to become ill, its virions manifesting an abnormal morphology. How can something be ill if it is not alive?”
  • Evidence of Fur and Leather Clothing, Among World’s Oldest, Found in Moroccan Cave. Humans likely sported clothes made of jackal, fox and wildcat skins some 120,000 years ago.”
  • Woman successfully treated for depression with electrical brain implant. ‘Stunning’ neuroscientific advance gives hope to those with mental illness not helped with drugs.”—”The device works by detecting patterns of brain activity linked to depression and automatically interrupting them using tiny pulses of electrical stimulation delivered deep inside the brain.”
  • Biblical-era Toilet With Possible Air Fresheners Found in Jerusalem. Discovered in the ruins of an Iron Age palace overlooking the Old City, the toilet and its septic tank were hewn into the bedrock”
  • Marie Antoinette’s Letters to Her Dear Swedish Count, Now Uncensored. Researchers used an X-ray technique to resurface the redacted text of letters exchanged between the queen and her dear friend Axel von Fersen.”—”In some letters, copper was present only in the original ink, so isolating the element on its own would remove the censor.” “Other letters proved trickier. With no single elemental smoking gun, the researchers mapped the ratios of certain elements, such as copper-to-iron, to distinguish between the inks and to reveal the text. And more letters still evaded deciphering entirely, as the original and redacting inks were too similar in composition to be separated.” “The ink scans may also have uncloaked the true identity of the redactor: not the grandnephew, Baron de Klinckowström, but Count von Fersen himself.” “The team ultimately undid the censorship of eight of the 15 total letters, revealing sentimental displays of affection between the French queen and the Swedish count: words like ‘beloved,’ ‘tender friend,’ ‘adore’ and ‘madly.'” “But Dr. Seth says these moonstruck effusions are not proof of a love affair. She compared them to the kissy-face emoji.”
  • Biomarkers could spell the end of anorexia nervosa“—”Researchers from the Swinburne Anorexia Nervosa (SWAN) Research Group have discovered what is believed to be the first biomarker for anorexia nervosa. Biomarkers are typically used in the detection and treatment of physical illnesses, but never before have they been used in mental disorders.” “Head of the SWAN Research Group, Dr. Andrea Phillipou, found that a combination of a type of atypical, twitching eye movement, called ‘square wave jerks,’ together with anxiety, is a promising two-element biomarker for anorexia nervosa. Square wave jerks were observed in people currently with anorexia nervosa, people who had recovered, and sisters of people with anorexia nervosa. The finding in sisters is critical, because it reveals there is likely a genetic, inherited link.”
  • From the Altered States dept: “Breakthrough research makes battery recycling more economical. How do we make battery recycling cost effective? Scientists at the ReCell Center have taken another step towards that goal.”—”In a new paper published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Energy Technology, MTU and ReCell researchers detail their discovery: a method of separating individual cathode materials using a new twist on an old process called froth flotation. Used for many years by the mining industry to separate and purify ores, froth flotation separates materials in a flotation tank based on whether they repel water and float, or absorb water and sink.”
  • Urban mining for metals flashes electronic trash into treasure. Flash Joule heating by Rice lab recovers precious metals from electronic waste in seconds.”—”In what should be a win-win-win for the environment, a process developed at Rice University to extract valuable metals from electronic waste would also use up to 500 times less energy than current lab methods and produce a byproduct clean enough for agricultural land.”
  • ‘Mother of all cannabinoids’: anti-seizure compounds found in cannabis. Scientists discover three rare cannabinoids reduce seizures in mice.”—”‘From the early nineteenth century cannabis extracts were used in Western medicine to treat seizures but cannabis prohibition got in the way of advancing the science,’ said Associate Professor Jonathon Arnold from the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics and the Sydney Pharmacy School. ‘Now we are able to explore how the compounds in this plant can be adapted for modern therapeutic treatments.'”
  • Cancer chemotherapy drug reverses Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice“—”A drug commonly used to treat cancer can restore memory and cognitive function in mice that display symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, new UBC research has found. The drug, Axitinib, inhibits the growth of new blood vessels in the brain—a feature shared by both cancer tumours and Alzheimer’s disease, but this hallmark represents a new target for Alzheimer’s therapies. Mice with Alzheimer’s disease that underwent the therapy not only exhibited a reduction in blood vessels and other Alzheimer’s markers in their brains, they also performed remarkably well in tests designed to measure learning and memory.”
  • Press release: The Nobel Prize in Physics 2021“—”Physics for climate and other complex phenomena. Three Laureates share this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics for their studies of chaotic and apparently random phenomena. Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann laid the foundation of our knowledge of the Earth’s climate and how humanity influences it. Giorgio Parisi is rewarded for his revolutionary contributions to the theory of disordered materials and random processes.”
  • ‘Once-In-A-Generation’ Tardigrade Fossil Discovery Reveals New Species in 16-Million-Year-Old Amber“—”In a report published Oct. 6 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, lead researchers at New Jersey Institute of Technology and Harvard University have described just the third fossil tardigrade on record — a new genus and species Paradoryphoribius chronocaribbeus gen. et sp. nov. (Pdo. chronocaribbeus), which is fully preserved in 16-million-year-old Dominican amber from the Miocene. Measured at just over half a millimeter, the specimen has been identified as a relative of the modern living tardigrade superfamily, Isohypsibioidea, and represents the first tardigrade fossil recovered from the Cenozoic, the current geological era beginning 66 million years ago. Researchers say the pristine specimen is the best-imaged fossil tardigrade to date — capturing micron-level details of the eight-legged invertebrate’s mouthparts and needle-like claws 20-30 times finer than a human hair. The new fossil is deposited at the American Museum of Natural History Division of Invertebrate of Zoology. ‘The discovery of a fossil tardigrade is truly a once-in-a-generation event,’ said Phil Barden, senior author of the study and assistant professor of biology at New Jersey Institute of Technology. ‘What is so remarkable is that tardigrades are a ubiquitous ancient lineage that has seen it all on Earth, from the fall of the dinosaurs to the rise of terrestrial colonization of plants. Yet, they are like a ghost lineage for paleontologists with almost no fossil record. Finding any tardigrade fossil remains is an exciting moment where we can empirically see their progression through Earth history.'”
  • Meet the Man Behind Nasa and Darpa’s Warp Drive Programs. Part 1 of an Exclusive Interview with Dr. Harold G. ‘Sonny’ White, the Grand Duke of Breakthrough Propulsion.”—”In 2018, White left NASA and took his work on advanced propulsion with him. He joined the nascent Limitless Space Institute, a group of scientists and engineers driven by the goal of deep space travel. Then White went dark.”
  • Was famed Samson and Delilah really painted by Rubens? No, says AI. Long-held doubts about the authenticity of the National Gallery’s masterpiece, bought for £2.5m in 1980, are backed by pioneering technology.”
  • Ah ha! This is not the first time BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) has cause major outages. BGP is not well-known because it is pretty exclusively used by major networks, but those networks must at least have their own directly assigned block of IP addresses. This happens every once in a while. BGP configs tend to trust all other BGP networks to announce proper routes. That trust is not always justified. I viscerally recall when a propagated misconfiguration of BGP, announcing a global default route, took out the entire Internet for a day, back when I was a sysadmin of a regional ISP in Seattle, and routed it all through a little network in Florida! We had directly assigned IP blocks and also multiple upstream connections to different backbone providers, so we used BGP to properly route traffic to the best link for that route, essential to routing effectively and efficiently. “Update about the October 4th outage.” Also “Understanding How Facebook Disappeared from the Internet” and “What is BGP?” Also “Tools to explore BGP.” Also “The Great Facebook Collapse of October 4 2021 and What It Can Teach Us“—”Point is: whatever it is that you do on the Internet, have a second way to do it when the first goes down, and make sure people who need to, know how to get to it.” “You can make an effort, or you can be locked out for however long it takes your favorite social media provider to break into their own data services and remove the squirrel that has electrocuted itself in one of the servers, knocking out the service worldwide. Your choice.” Also “Facebook’s hold is fragile“—”Facebook is (obviously) too big. Their week is about to get worse, with whistleblower Frances Haugen testifying in Congress today. It feels like the culmination of years of reputation-destroying bad PR on privacy and misinformation. In 2018 I blogged that breaking up Facebook is up to us. Facebook’s business is more fragile than I even realized. Their problems are baked into the product design, maybe unfixable at this extreme scale.”
  • Facebook Is Weaker Than We Knew. A trove of leaked documents, published by The Wall Street Journal, hints at a company whose best days are behind it.” Also “Facebook Struggles to Quell Uproar Over Instagram’s Effect on Teens. The social network has been all hands on deck as it grapples with revelations that it knew the harmful effects its Instagram photo-sharing app was having on teenagers.”
  • Twitch source code leaked by anonymous hacker. Streamer payouts also leaked.” Anyone with a Twitch account, streamers or not, might want to head there now. Change your passwords, set up 2FA (even for personal accounts, though every streamer should already have been required to turn this on), and reset stream keys.
  • Google’s plan to cut pay for remote workers who relocate is a bad idea. Many workers are paid based on where they live. That’s changing.”—”Many companies that employ the estimated 13 percent of US workers who are still working from home due to the pandemic expect to open their offices back up in January. Google is one of several notable tech companies, including Facebook and Twitter, that has enacted controversial plans to lower pay for remote workers who’ve moved away from the expensive areas where their headquarters are located. But there are signs these policies may backfire. While potential repercussions for cutting workers’ pay may not be immediate, humans are highly susceptible to loss aversion — losses are more painful than gains are pleasurable — and pay cuts could cause workers to either leave or resent the company. Alienating your existing workforce is always a bad idea, but it’s especially bad when tech companies are already struggling to find the workers they need.”
  • From the Get the Popcorn dept: “Apple, Google asked to turn in S.Korea compliance plans by mid-October“—”Apple (AAPL.O) and Alphabet’s (GOOGL.O) Google have been asked to turn in by mid-October compliance plans for a new South Korean law that bans major app store operators from forcing software developers to use their payment systems, a regulatory official said on Wednesday.”
  • Tweet thread—”Haven’t seen if anybody else reported this but I see when scrolling in portrait mode with a lot of text on the screen there is a small amount of jelly scroll, where one side moves faster than the other. It’s subtle enough that it’s hard for me to film it, but it’s there.” “Here is is slow-mo video of scrolling on the iPad Min i slowed down EVEN MORE in a frame-by-frame step through. Notice how the right moves up faster than the left. In normal usage you barely see it, but every now and then it become noticeable. In landscape it goes away entirely”. Check out this video for a likely explanation (spoiler: low refresh rate mixed with the orientation of the controller in relation to the screen orientation!): watch “iPad Mini Teardown: Here’s Why it Jelly Scrolls“.
  • Apple AirTag Bug Enables ‘Good Samaritan’ Attack“—”The new $30 AirTag tracking device from Apple has a feature that allows anyone who finds one of these tiny location beacons to scan it with a mobile phone and discover its owner’s phone number if the AirTag has been set to lost mode. But according to new research, this same feature can be abused to redirect the Good Samaritan to an iCloud phishing page — or to any other malicious website.”
  • Tim Cook says employees who leak memos do not belong at Apple, according to leaked memo. The CEO says the company is doing everything in its power to track down workers.”
  • Whoa. Tweet—”Today is my first day at Apple!” Wil Shipley was co-founder of The Omni Group, which was a luminary NeXT software house back in the day.
  • Philosophy and Extended Reality Technologies“—”What can extended reality (XR) technologies, such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) bring to the study of philosophy?”
  • COVID-19 live updates: More Americans died of COVID this year than all of 2020. More than 353,000 COVID-19 deaths have been reported since Jan. 1.”
  • Tweet—”Hollywood Blvd, Saturday, 11:22 AM: ANTI-VAXX PROTESTER: Do you see all of these homeless people around. Are they dead in the street with COVID? Hell no. Why? HOMELESS PERSON (walking by): Because I’m vaccinated you dumb fuck.”
  • Doctor Fighting COVID Vaccine Misinformation With Ingredients List for Twinkies“—”He draws the comparison to remind patients that a lot of everyday products have safe additives that a majority of people do not understand, so concerns over components of the COVID-19 vaccine are unfounded.”
  • How AT&T helped build far-right One America News. As it lauded former President Donald Trump and spread his unfounded claims of election fraud, One America News Network saw its viewership jump. Reuters has uncovered how America’s telecom giant nurtured the news channel now at the center of a bitter national divide over politics and truth.”—”A Reuters review of court records shows the role AT&T played in creating and funding OAN, a network that continues to spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the COVID-19 pandemic. OAN founder and chief executive Robert Herring Sr has testified that the inspiration to launch OAN in 2013 came from AT&T executives. ‘They told us they wanted a conservative network,’ Herring said during a 2019 deposition seen by Reuters. ‘They only had one, which was Fox News, and they had seven others on the other [leftwing] side. When they said that, I jumped to it and built one.’ Since then, AT&T has been a crucial source of funds flowing into OAN, providing tens of millions of dollars in revenue, court records show. Ninety percent of OAN’s revenue came from a contract with AT&T-owned television platforms, including satellite broadcaster DirecTV, according to 2020 sworn testimony by an OAN accountant. Herring has testified he was offered $250 million for OAN in 2019. Without the DirecTV deal, the accountant said under oath, the network’s value ‘would be zero.'”
  • Idaho’s governor left the state. His lieutenant governor took power and banned state vaccine mandates. Idaho Gov. Brad Little left the state Tuesday. His second-in-command — empowered with executive authority in his absence — used that power to pick an old fight.”
  • Extremism is a state of mind. Beyond ideological extremism.”—”We usually think of extremism in terms of the political ideas one might hold and the willingness to resort to violence for their realization. But simply believing in an ideology on the extreme end of the spectrum, or resorting to violence are not enough to make one an extremist. Extremism is a mindset, a way of seeing the world and others that cuts across ideologies and methods of achieving them, argues Quassim Cassam.” “A tired old cliché about terrorism is that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Much less popular is the idea that one person’s extremist is another person’s moderate.”
  • Tweet thread—”In the end, the Empire came to be ruled by two political parties; the Party of Can’t, and the Party of Dumb. The Party of Can’t excelled in, as you might guess from the name, proclaiming all the reasons why certain things which were absolutely necessary couldn’t be done.” “Between the Party of Can’t and the Party of Dumb, the things that were necessary were declared impossible, and what was actually happening because these things were not done was explained as happening for some reason other than the fact that the necessary things weren’t done.”
  • Fossil fuel industry gets subsidies of $11m a minute, IMF finds. Trillions of dollars a year are ‘adding fuel to the fire’ of the climate crisis, experts say.”
  • Why Greta Thunberg is cooler than you“—”To avoid unnecessary hurt feelings, we’ll start with a disclaimer: if you’re a regular reader of Red Flag it’s entirely possible that, in your own way, you may actually be as cool as, or perhaps even cooler than, Greta Thunberg. If you think the single most effective short-term measure to address the climate crisis would be to load all of the world’s billionaires onto a rocket and launch them straight into the sun, then that’s certainly very cool. Even better if you’re involved in the kind of organising work that might one day mean we can turn that pleasant daydream into reality. Unfortunately …” Also “Why only socialist internationalism can solve the climate crisis.”
  • Tweet—”French clergy sexually abused more than 200,000 children over the past 70 years, a major investigation found, and its authors accused the Catholic Church of turning a blind eye for too long and urged it to reform.” Also “French clergy sexually abused over 200,000 children since 1950, report finds. Investigation finds estimated 216,000 children suffered abuse. French Catholic Church showed ‘cruel indifference’ – report. Latest sex abuse scandal to rock the Roman Catholic Church. Senior bishop asks for forgiveness, promises to act.” Also “330,000 children victims of church sex abuse, French report finds“—”An estimated 330,000 children were victims of sex abuse within France’s Catholic Church over the past 70 years, according to a report released Tuesday that represents the country’s first major accounting of the worldwide phenomenon. The figure includes abuses committed by some 3,000 priests and other people involved in the church — wrongdoing that Catholic authorities covered up over decades in a ‘systemic manner,’ according to the president of the commission that issued the report, Jean-Marc Sauvé.” Also “Over 200,000 Minors Abused by Clergy in France Since 1950, Report Estimates. An independent commission set up at the request of the Roman Catholic Church in France found that abuse was far more pervasive than previously thought.”
  • 13 Arts Organizations Across 5 States and 2 Nations Unite for Desierto Mountain Time“—”Last June, a group of artists, curators, educators, and art administrators from the southwestern United States and northern Mexico got together on a conference video call. All were reckoning with the impacts of the turbulent events of 2020 on their communities, where economic and social inequalities, border and health crises hit especially hard. Looking for ways to reach local and wider audiences as the pandemic continued, they decided to join forces. ” “The resulting project, Desierto Mountain Time, spans from September 2021 to May 2022 and brings together 13 organizations from five states and two countries. The ongoing series of contemporary art exhibitions and programs will be led by 516 ARTS and its partners, which include the Fund for Ethical Practices of Transborder Art (Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua and El Paso, Texas), the Harwood Museum of Art (Taos, New Mexico), RedLine Contemporary Art Center (Denver, Colorado), and others.” See “Desierto Mountain Time. A cross-border contemporary art collaboration.”
  • Looted 16th-century Manuscripts Are Returned to Mexico’s National Archive. At least 10 stolen documents that had been illegally taken from Mexico’s National Archive were ultimately identified.”
  • Why do bosses keep trying to kill us?“—”Wittenoom is an abandoned town in the desert north of Perth. Once, it had a population of almost 1,000, making it the biggest town in the Pilbara. Now, it’s been removed from maps and cut off from all essential services, to stop people from visiting. Wittenoom is a kind of Australian Chernobyl, poisoned not by radioactivity but by the deadly blue asbestos dug up from the town’s mine, where most of the population worked.”
  • Before 3D Prints There Were Plaster Copies. Plaster casts have a much longer history than 3D models and prints and therefore can provide us with examples of the ethical pitfalls of reproductions.”—”For almost a century, plaster copies were deemed distasteful and soulless, sometimes stored in leaky storehouses, left to rot in boiler rooms, and ‘vandalized.’ With the exception of dinosaur casts and architectural replicas, many European and North American museums had been reluctant to exhibit copies. In 2007, the Museum of Ethnology in Hamburg closed their exhibit when it became known that the terracotta soldiers loaned from China were not the actual 2,000-year-old artifacts, but their copies. (Byung Chul Han explains that these were exact reproductions of the original, which, for the Chinese, are of equal value to the original.) But copies may be having a comeback.”
  • Free the Nipple: A History of a Hidden Movement.” Also “Pedro Almodóvar declares ‘victory’ after Instagram reinstates film poster featuring nipple.” Also “Venice, Day 1: See the Almodóvar, Free the Nipple. The director was the toast of a glamorous dinner with Penélope Cruz, Isabelle Huppert and Denis Villeneuve, who talked about ‘Dune’ as if he were a proud parent.”
  • What is the Point of HBO’s Remake of Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage?“—”To remake Scenes from a Marriage is bold, like asserting there is something in need of improvement or updating. And it quickly becomes apparent which elements writer/director/producer Hagai Levi (The Affair, In Treatment) thinks he can improve with his HBO remake of the series starring Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac. Though faithful to the original’s narrative arc, this new version enacts changes loaded with cultural baggage.” About Scenes from a Marriage on HBO.
  • Alan Moore on his screenwriting debut: ‘I want to enslave the mass subconscious’. Exclusive: Alan Moore returns with his new movie The Show – and yes, that’s him wearing gold.”—”‘I want to enslave the mass subconscious,’ Alan Moore tells SFX Magazine. ‘That’s my ultimate aim. I want this to be mesmeric. I want to have people dreaming about this film.'”
  • Watch “Pandora Papers reveal financial dealings of some of world’s most powerful people“—”The Pandora Papers is a leak of almost 12 million documents that reveals hidden wealth, tax avoidance and, in some cases, money laundering by some of the world’s rich and powerful.”
  • Watch “New eruptions from La Palma volcano as lava produced with more force“—”Two new vents are causing further eruptions from the Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma, one of Spain’s Canary Islands.”
  • Watch “California oil spill sparks concern for US wildlife.”
  • Watch “Religious leaders including Pope Francis call for new climate deal“—”Pope Francis and nearly 40 other religious leaders have called for urgent action to combat climate change.”
  • What it Means to Break the Museum’s Most Sacred Rule“—”In 1989, the New York Post reported that Ed Brzezinski, on a visit to Robert Gober’s exhibition at Paula Cooper Gallery, ate one of the donuts from Gober’s ‘Bag of Donuts’ (1989). Brzezinski later said that the donut, coated in synthetic resin for preservation, ‘tasted stale.’ ‘Okay, I was hungry. I’d been drinking and I hadn’t eaten anything all day,’ he said, post-ingestion. People were upset — likely because Brzezinski did not take seriously the delicate presence that the gallery and museum space requires of the viewer. He was hungry.” “We cringe at art touchers because they can’t control themselves within the extremely controlled museum space. Their negligence has a lasting effect: Their actions in the present have affected a piece of history and ruined it for the future. The nagging temptation to touch something in the museum space is a common urge. Whether done knowingly or accidentally, it reflects the desire to enter into the piece, to irreparably place yourself within the bounds of the art through its defacement. The perpetrator is more than ‘dumb,’ than they are an egotist; they have their hand (quite literally) in the art. I don’t believe that these incidents are as simple as negligence and idiocy (though some of that is present). To me, there are no wrong ways to respond to art, only unaccepted ones — and even the unaccepted ones highlight integral questions of purpose. I do not advocate the destruction of art. Rather, I ask a question that seems simple at first glance, but is complicated by defacement: What do we want from our encounters with art? The answer is at the root of our human relationship with an object and reflects the value we get from that encounter. The importance of the question of purpose cannot be undervalued. We value our institutions vigorously; to allow them to serve us, and for us to serve them, they have to allow people the room to make mistakes.”
  • Danish Artist Runs Away With Museum’s Cash and Calls It Art“—”This story of a cunning artist and an unsuspecting museum will make you rethink what conceptual art can get you. The Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in ​​Aalborg, Denmark, lent the artist Jens Haaning 534,000 kroner (~$84,000) to reproduce two of his older artworks. But what did he do instead? He kept the money to himself and renamed the series Take the Money and Run.”
  • Ferrari Hires Former Apple Designer Jony Ive Ahead of Electric Push. Ive’s design company, LoveFrom, reaches multiyear deal with the luxury sports car maker and its largest shareholder.”
  • New Roomba promises ‘poopocalypse’ horror stories are a thing of the past. The Roomba j7+ has a front camera and poop-detecting artificial intelligence.”—”If you’ve never heard of this “poop+Roomba” phenomenon, you definitely shouldn’t ever Google it and click on the results that pop up, like this one or this or this. To save you some trauma, robo vacs have a lot of moving parts, like wheels and spinning brushes. This is great if you’re driving over and picking up dry dirt, but if the robot encounters a soft mass of something that it can grind up, those spinning brushes quickly become paint rollers. Then the robot drives all over the house. It’s bad.”
  • Two Puzzles About Truthfulness“—”So even though you have strong evidence that L & P is true, and your only goal is to speak the truth, it looks like you should deny L & P.”
  • Watch “Do Chairs Exist?
  • Tyler Cowen on reading fast, reading well, and reading widely“—”The important thing is to be ruthless with the books that are not good. Just stop reading, put them down, usually throw them away, don’t give them away – if you give them away you could be doing harm to people.” “People don’t read enough, and I think as a society we’re under-investing in reading. People feel compelled to finish books they’ve started – that’s just a tax on your reading. Why would you do that to yourself? Imagine a world where any restaurant you tried you had to keep on going there for days or weeks, you’d hardly ever go out to eat. Take reading seriously, develop a passion for it, and view it as part of your practice as a knowledge worker to get ahead, but along the way, having fun doing so.”
  • A Washed-up Porn Star Wreaks Trumpian Mayhem in His Hometown“—”The film is in dialogue with the state of sex in US cinema, which is currently quite squeamish. Washington Post critic Ann Hornaday bemoaned that ‘sex is disappearing from the big screen.’ Kate Hagen backed this feeling up in Playboy with hard statistics. In Lithium, Kaiya Shunyata notes that when sex scenes do appear, the characters featured are usually white and heterosexual (this applies in Red Rocket too). Today sex is explored more on TV and the internet than in theaters. Mainstream filmmakers aren’t as willing to take risks, especially with the endless churn of family-friendly blockbusters. Even arthouse and queer cinema tend to hint rather than gaze, like in Moonlight, Call Me By Your Name, or this year’s The Power of the Dog. In this context, Red Rocket‘s explicitness is a potent conversation starter. And the movie’s ambiguous ending leaves the audience to choose: Is this Mikey’s fantasy, or our own? What do — or should — we desire? Sex sells, it tells us, unless we choose not to buy.” About Red Rocket, coming to NYFF. Watch “Red Rocket | Official Trailer HD | A24″. Haha. It’s A24. Oh my, I appear to have a type. They’ve got my number.
  • Midnight Mass review“—”I binged Midnight Mass on Netflix this last weekend. I have a lot of thoughts but first I have a spoiler-free review, and I ask for no spoilers in comments. Is it good? It has some serious flaws, but at its best it is not merely good but great. Do you want to see it? That depends …” About Midnight Mass on Netflix—”The arrival of a charismatic young priest brings glorious miracles, ominous mysteries and renewed religious fervor to a dying town desperate to believe.”
  • Watch “Rare IBM Film: ‘The Big Switch’ 1963, and 1410 Data Processing System, Computer Network Automation“—”This Rare IBM Film features how IBM converted its National Telegraph Communication Network to a Computerized System using the IBM 1410 Data Processing System. Film shows the early IBM telegraph machines used to collect and re-transmit communications to its hundreds of branch offices, manufacturing plants and laboratories around the country. This original IBM documentary has excellent detail, hardware devices and rare behind the scenes footage! Seen are several telegraph machine operators, five-channel punched paper tape, tape racks and manual communication processes, several RAMAC storage units and the 1410 DP system itself. Film provided courtesy of IBM ARCHIVES and uploaded by the Computer History Archives Project.”
  • Watch “James Bond Directed By Alfred Hitchcock
  • Watch “The Dark Tower | Announcement Trailer | Audio Drama”—”The Dark Tower Audio Drama Fan Project will bring out a new perspective to the universe created by Stephen King. The series will compose of 7 seasons, each aimed to bring their respective books to life in audio format in a true adaptation of the series loved by millions; while also fleshing out the world and characters along the path of the beam.” This appears to be fan production? I’ll be surprised if they get far before getting a call from someone’s legal dept, but, um, we’ll see!
  • Tweet—”This morning (Wednesday 6 October 2021) the Third Edition (2011-2021) of the SFE has been replaced with a Fourth Edition, which you’ve just automatically accessed, as we’re at the same address. See here to clock some improvements: http://sf-encyclopedia.com/this-site More to come. Hey!” Also “SF Encyclopedia: Fourth Edition“—”This presentation of the SF Encyclopedia was drafted as an emergency fallback in case of server failure at our long-established (since 2011) Hachette / Orion / Gollancz platform, and developed as a replacement to become public after the old arrangement with Gollancz came to an end on 29 September 2021.”
  • Need some inspirational folklore and cryptid maps for Vaesen, or Kids on Bikes, or … ? “Neil Parkinson Shop. Illustrated maps of mythical beasts.”
  • Tweet—”‘Squid Game’ creator Hwang Dong-hyuk wrote the show in 2009 but was rejected by studios for 10 years. He once had to stop writing the script + sell his $675 laptop due to money struggles. Today, it’s #1 in 90 countries + set to become the most-watched show in Netflix history.” Tweet—”creator of show about crippling effects of capitalism almost didn’t make show due to crippling effects of capitalism”
  • Image’s Die Finale Showed the True Stakes of Dungeons & Dragons and RPGs. Image’s Die #20 shows the conflict every Dungeons & Dragons player must face, caught between destiny and their own free will to choose.”
  • Introducing the IDW Star Trek Year Five Tie-in Release“—”Astute fans of Star Trek Adventures might note that, over the last few years, the STA development team and I have been working to partner with other Star Trek licensees producing content for Star Trek. We’ve built relationships with Hero Collector/Eaglemoss, Cryptic Studios (Star Trek Online), and the folks developing Star Trek Timelines (first Disruptor Beam, now Wicked Realm Games and Tilting Point). Now, I’m proud to announce that we’ve built a relationship with IDW Publishing as well, with the release of our new digital product, a tie-in supplement based on the outstanding Star Trek Year Five comic series.” About Star Trek Adventures IDW Year Five Tie-In PDF [DTRPG]—”This 26-page digital supplement features content drawn from the pages of IDW’s imaginative Year Five comic book series, adapted for use with Star Trek Adventures, and ready to be added to your ongoing missions and campaigns.” “The series goes beyond the canon established in the Star Trek television series and films to tell the story of the final year of the U.S.S. Enterprise’s five-year mission under the command of Captain James T. Kirk. All the classic characters are in a state of transition. They know the end of an era is approaching and are making plans for what they’ll do after the conclusion of the mission. The series features imaginative new elements as well as putting new spins on some classic species and characters.”
  • Watch “Egyptian Mythology Sleep Stories: Osiris Myth, Creation, The Gods, The Afterlife… (2 hours ASMR)”.
  • Watch “ASMR Egyptian Hieroglyphs Carving on Wax Tablet | 1 hour Soft Spoken”.

Omnium Gatherum: 3oct2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for October 3, 2021

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

  • More on this: “Justice is served with a high BAC on this week’s What We Do In The Shadows. After a wild weekend in Atlantic City, the vampires go back to work on this week’s episode.”—”I’m sure the board game enthusiasts in the audience will take this week’s mild poke at their hobby with grace and good humor… …as will the Thelemites to a simplification of the meaning behind Aleister Crowley’s famous saying, ‘do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.'”
  • Sensor is Junji Ito’s Most Ambitious Cosmic Horror Tale Yet—”Sensor is the latest horror manga by Junji Ito and one of his best, a sprawling, meandering serialized story that unites many of his usual themes to create a saga of cosmic horror and existential dread.” “Sensor is his longest story for a while, a serialized story that features divergence from the main plot to allow for more weirdness in the tangents—themes of Gnosticism and Lovecraftian cosmic horror loom larger than ever. To Ito, the universe is filled with malevolent forces out to get us, and there are more than enough people who want to help them. Ito’s slightly retrograde gender politics are at play here: the woman becomes a kind of cosmic Madonna symbolizing feminine mercy in contrast to another woman who stalks the reporter as a symbol of Ito’s – and Japanese men’s – fear of aggressive female sexuality. In his afterword, Ito talked of how the characters frequently refused to behave how he wanted them to and followed their own paths, which resulted in a sprawling, unpredictable story full of turns even he didn’t expect. He just had to put them on paper. He credits his editor with helping him wrestle the story into something that held together and reached a logical, satisfying ending. This highlights the importance of manga editors in helping creators shape their stories into something readable. Ito may feel Sensor is his failed attempt to find an answer to why the universe exists, but the journey is as grotesque, insane, and horrific as ever, and that’s what we read him for.” About Sensor [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”Horror master Junji Ito explores a new frontier with a grand cosmic horror tale in which a mysterious woman has her way with the world! A woman walks alone at the foot of Mount Sengoku. A man appears, saying he’s been waiting for her, and invites her to a nearby village. Surprisingly, the village is covered in hairlike volcanic glass fibers, and all of it shines a bright gold. At night, when the villagers perform their custom of gazing up at the starry sky, countless unidentified flying objects come raining down on them—the opening act for the terror about to occur!”
  • The Goblin Market Tarot: In Search of Faery Gold [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher] by John Matthews, illo. Charles Newington, due November 2021—”An outstanding new Tarot from John Matthews inspired by the Victorian poem Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti, beautifully illustrated by the renowned artist Charles Newington. The only Tarot to explore fully the whole world of faeries, including its more shadowy aspects – the goblins. This is a faery tarot with a difference, uncompromising in its portrayal of faeries as they really are: sly, frequently cruel, cleverer than humans and full of secrets, rather than the whimsical, sweet-natured creatures beloved of the Victorians and the New Age. It’s the world of Christina Rossetti’s The Goblin Market, a place where all denizens of the Otherworld come to buy and sell, to mingle and exchange gossip. It is a place unsafe for humans. But imagine if you could look through a window onto the scene, as Christina Rossetti does in her poem? Imagine the beings you would see there … Here is a tarot of wit and wickedness, of challenge and uncertainty, of wonder and truth. This 80-card deck with 176-page guidebook offers as the Major Arcana a gallery of strange and wonderful creatures, from the Faery Queen to the Wiseman, plus intriguing motifs from the poem, such as the Secret Way and the Fallen Tree. Minor suits represent magical implements, fruits, flowers and elements. Enter a haunted, magical world – an enchanting landscape of falling towers, crumbling walls and tangled woods, of streams tumbling amongst mossy stones, of fallen trees and bones threaded with vines and spiked roses. Prepare to be enspelled … and to discover the answers to your questions and dilemmas.”
  • What A 1921 Texas Flood Tells Us About The Latino Climate Struggle Today. A new book, ‘West Side Rising,’ tells the story of the storm that ravaged San Antonio’s Latino community and gave rise to a political movement still growing today.” About West Side Rising: How San Antonio’s 1921 Flood Devastated a City and Sparked a Latino Environmental Justice Movement [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Char Miller, foreword by Julián Castro—”On September 9, 1921, a tropical depression stalled just north of San Antonio and within hours overwhelmed its winding network of creeks and rivers. Floodwaters ripped through the city’s Latino West Side neighborhoods, killing more than eighty people. Meanwhile a wall of water crashed into the central business district on the city’s North Side, wreaking considerable damage. The city’s response to this disaster shaped its environmental policies for the next fifty years, carving new channels of power. Decisions about which communities would be rehabilitated and how thoroughly were made in the political arena, where the Anglo elite largely ignored the interlocking problems on the impoverished West Side that flowed from poor drainage, bad housing, and inadequate sanitation. Instead the elite pushed for the $1.6 million construction of the Olmos Dam, whose creation depended on a skewed distribution of public benefits in one of America’s poorest big cities. The discriminatory consequences, channeled along ethnic and class lines, continually resurfaced until the mid-1970s, when Communities Organized for Public Services, a West Side grassroots organization, launched a successful protest that brought much-needed flood control to often inundated neighborhoods. This upheaval, along with COPS’s emergence as a power broker, disrupted Anglo domination of the political landscape to more accurately reflect the city’s diverse population. West Side Rising is the first book focused squarely on San Antonio’s enduring relationship to floods, which have had severe consequences for its communities of color in particular. Examining environmental, social, and political histories, Char Miller demonstrates that disasters can expose systems of racism, injustice, and erasure and, over time, can impel activists to dismantle these inequities. He draws clear lines between the environmental injustices embedded in San Antonio’s long history and the emergence of grassroots organizations that combated the devastating impact floods could have on the West Side.”
  • Answering a century-old question on the origins of life. The missing link isn’t a not-yet-discovered fossil, after all. It’s a tiny, self-replicating globule called a coacervate droplet, developed by two researchers in Japan to represent the evolution of chemistry into biology.”—”‘Chemical evolution was first proposed in the 1920s as the idea that life first originated with the formation of macromolecules from simple small molecules, and those macromolecules formed molecular assemblies that could proliferate,’ said first-author Muneyuki Matsuo, assistant professor of chemistry in the Graduate School of Integrated Sciences for Life at Hiroshima University. ‘Since then, many studies have been conducted to verify the RNA world hypothesis — where only self-replicating genetic material existed prior to the evolution of DNA and proteins — experimentally. However, the origin of molecular assemblies that proliferate from small molecules has remained a mystery for about a hundred years since the advent of the chemical evolution scenario. It has been the missing link between chemistry and biology in the origin of life.'”
  • Organic Molecule Remnants Found in Nuclei of Ancient Dinosaur Cells“—”A team of scientists from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and from the Shandong Tianyu Museum of Nature (STM) has isolated exquisitely preserved cartilage cells in a 125-million-year-old dinosaur from Northeast China that contain nuclei with remnants of organic molecules and chromatin.” “The scientists extracted a piece of distal articular cartilage from the right femur of this specimen, decalcified it, and used different microscopy and chemical methods to analyze it. They realized that all the cells had been mineralized by silicification after the death of the animal. This silicification is most likely what allowed the excellent preservation of these cells.”
  • Tweet thread—”Fun paper on the arXiv tonight, the discovery paper of the ‘mega-comet’ C/2014 UN271! Led by @phbernardinelli and Bernstein. I was involved in my first foray into solar system science, thanks to the magic of social media and the capabilities of @NASA_TESS.” Tweet thread—”New paper on arXiv tonight, analyzing the DES (and some others) data on C/2014 UN271 (BB), with a special contribution from @benmontet. We took a deep dive into the data, and figured some interesting things out.”
  • Hawaii’s Kīlauea Volcano Erupts as New Lake of Lava Forms. A stunning lava lake has formed in the crater of Kīlauea as the USGS and National Park Service monitor the eruption and what could come next.”
  • More about this: “What ‘extinction’ really means — and what it leaves out. The US declared the ivory-billed woodpecker and 22 other species extinct. The story doesn’t end there.”—”Nearly two dozen species, including the iconic ivory-billed woodpecker and several kinds of freshwater mussels, were declared extinct this week by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, after years of surveys failed to turn up any of them. The 23 species on the list — which include animals and one plant — join another 650 or so species in the US that have been deemed lost to extinction or that scientists haven’t seen for decades. The announcement garnered widespread media coverage, and for a good reason: Extinction is forever, as they say, and 23 is the largest number of extinctions the agency has ever declared at one time — not to mention, ornithologists have been debating for years about whether or not the ivory-billed woodpecker is gone for good. But some researchers argue that the term ‘extinction’ — which is a focus for conservation groups trying to drum up support for their causes — underplays the vast scale of global biodiversity loss, and runs the risk of limiting interest and investment in the natural world. By the time we hear about species going extinct, there’s often little we can do to stop it.”
  • Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. “US Army backs ‘sleeping cap’ to help brains take out the trash. Rice, Houston Methodist, Baylor College of Medicine designing noninvasive tech to aid removal of metabolic waste.”—”Engineers at Rice University’s NeuroEngineering Initiative in partnership with the Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering (IBB) and physicians at Houston Methodist Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine will develop a ‘sleeping cap’ to analyze the cleansing flow of fluid that drains the brain of common metabolic waste during sleep.” “Ultimately, the team aims to develop a lightweight, portable skullcap that can analyze and stimulate proper flow to treat sleep disorders in real time.”
  • Looking to lose weight? Diet drinks might not be the sweet spot, according to new USC study“—”A synthetic aftertaste might not be the only side effect of switching to diet soda, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Drinks that contain the artificial sweetener sucralose may increase food cravings and appetite in women and people who are obese, according to a new study by led by researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Just published in JAMA Network Open, the study is one of the largest to date to examine the effects of an artificial sweetener, also called a nonnutritive sweetener (NNS), on brain activity and appetite responses in different segments of the population.”
  • New treatment uses reverse vaccination to teach immune system not to attack life-saving drugs. Treatment prevents development of antibodies against drugs for hemophilia A and Pompe disease; could be applied to autoimmune disorders and allergies.”
  • AI-driven dynamic face mask adapts to exercise, pollution levels.”
  • Ageing the Unageable: UEA Researchers Develop New Way to Age Lobsters. Scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have identified a way of determining the age of a lobster based on its DNA.”
  • Earliest Evidence of Human Activity Found in the Americas. Footprints at White Sands National Park in New Mexico confirm human presence over at least two millennia, with the oldest tracks dating back 23,000 years.”
  • A New Solid-state Battery Surprises the Researchers Who Created It. Engineers create a high performance all-solid-state battery with a pure-silicon anode.”—”Engineers created a new type of battery that weaves two promising battery sub-fields into a single battery. The battery uses both a solid state electrolyte and an all-silicon anode, making it a silicon all-solid-state battery. The initial rounds of tests show that the new battery is safe, long lasting, and energy dense. It holds promise for a wide range of applications from grid storage to electric vehicles.”
  • I mean, because of course it is. “Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is a ‘toxic’ workplace, some current and ex-workers claim in essay. Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin is described as a ‘toxic’ workplace, according to an essay by 21 current and former employees. The essay claims that the company pushes workers to sign strict nondisclosure agreements, stifles internal feedback, disregards safety concerns, and creates a sexist environment for women. Blue Origin responded that it ‘has no tolerance for discrimination or harassment of any kind’ and ‘promptly’ investigates claims of misconduct.”
  • Activision Blizzard Strikes An $18 Million Deal Over Its Workplace Harassment Lawsuit.”
  • Unlikely to help the little people much, but it was a shot across the bow, I suppose? “Disney settles Scarlett Johansson lawsuit over ‘Black Widow’ streaming strategy. But the terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.”
  • Solidarity! “An IATSE Strike Would Shut Down Film and TV Production Coast to Coast.” Also “Hollywood faces new crisis in strike threat from off-screen workers who keep productions running.” Also “Hollywood crews are poised to strike over brutal working conditions: Here’s what you should know.” Also “Strike looms over labor conditions on TV and film productions by big streaming services“—”A dispute over working conditions at “new media” properties like Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV and others may shut down productions across the country if a strike vote by the union succeeds. Thousands of workers on and off set claim they are not receiving appropriate wages, breaks, safety measures and other needs due to a contractual loophole exempting these companies from established film and TV production labor standards.”
  • How robots can tell how clean is ‘clean’. By giving the touch-and-inspect method a smart update, SUTD researchers have designed a sensor for autonomous cleaning robots that can quantify the cleanliness of a given area.” Also “How the team at ROAR conceives the robot of the future through critical design thinking.”
  • Amazon says workers and applicants fired or barred during marijuana screening are now eligible for employment. Amazon said it has “reinstated the employment eligibility” for former workers or applicants who were fired or deferred during marijuana screenings. Amazon ended pre-employment marijuana screenings for most job applicants in June. The company is also lobbying the federal government to legalize marijuana.” Of course, “It also realized that doing so would help it lure more job applicants in an increasingly tight labor market.” So, you know, self-interest über alles, but paint it as rosy as possible.
  • ‘Mandates Are Working’: Employer Ultimatums Lift Vaccination Rates, So Far. In California and New York, where mandates for health care workers have gone into effect, many are complying.”
  • Insomnia, Grinding And Nightmares: How To Deal With COVID Sleep Problems. Experts reveal the most common ways COVID-related stress has disrupted our sleep cycles and how to fix them.”
  • Shrinking Waveforms on Electrocardiograms Predict Worsening Health and Death of Hospitalized COVID-19 and Influenza Patients. Spotting changes in the heart’s electrical activity may prompt more-aggressive treatment and monitoring.”
  • YouTube Finally Bans All Anti-Vaccine Content. The streaming video site said it’s also banned a number of high-profile anti-vaccine channels.”
  • UK Officer Accused Of Citing COVID To Detain Slaying Victim. Wayne Couzens, 48, appeared at London’s Central Criminal Court charged with the abduction, rape and murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard.”—”A serving London police officer handcuffed a woman on the pretext that she broke COVID-19 lockdown rules before he kidnapped and killed her, a prosecutor said Wednesday.”
  • Breastmilk Could Protect Babies – And Adults – From Covid. Here’s How. Breastmilk from mums who’ve caught the virus retains key antibodies 10 months after infection.”—”Mothers who’ve been infected with Covid-19 continue to pass antibodies via their breastmilk for 10 months, new research suggests. The study, led by immunologist Dr Rebecca Powell, suggests breastmilk can offer infants protection from the virus for almost a year. The researchers also believe breastmilk could be used in the treatment of Covid-19 patients, potentially cutting the number of adults needing intensive care.”
  • Infowars’ Alex Jones liable for damages in Sandy Hook lawsuits, judge rules. Jury will now consider damages after far-right conspiracy theorist failed to produce documents for the court cases.”
  • Just tell the judge it’s against Twitter’s religious convictions, maybe? “Trump asks U.S. judge to force Twitter to restart his account. Trump filed a request for preliminary injunction against Twitter in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Twitter and several other social media platforms banned Trump from their services after a mob of his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol in a deadly riot on Jan. 6.”
  • Panel Subpoenas 11 in Capitol Riot Inquiry, Eyeing Jan. 6 Rally Planners. The second round of subpoenas issued by the House select committee investigating the attack signaled that it was moving aggressively to go after crucial witnesses.”
  • Memo Reveals Trump Campaign Knew Voting Machine Claims Were Baseless. The memo shows that Trump’s people were aware early on that there was no proof the 2020 election had been rigged.”
  • Trump May Have Let Slip Details Of His Election Scheme As He Attacked Georgia Governor. Trump said he wanted a ‘special election’ in Georgia — part of an idea pushed by some advisers to use the military to force a redo of elections in states he lost.”
  • School Boards Ask Biden to Review Threats and Violence as Possible ‘Domestic Terrorism’“—”A group representing local school boards says the federal government should review violence and threats involving schools to see if they violate federal statutes about domestic terrorism and hate crimes, amid ongoing tension and anger about COVID-19 policies.”
  • Knox County Cancels School After Anti-Mask Advocates Threaten Disruptive Protests. Video from a gathering Sunday shows one man urging others to use their cars to block school entrances.”
  • Newsom signs bill enabling return of seized Bruce’s Beach to descendants of original Black owners“—”California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law Thursday allowing ownership of a prime beachfront property to be transferred to heirs of a couple who built a resort for Black people in the early 1900s but were stripped of the land by local officials.”
  • He Was Nearly Executed 4 Years Ago. Now A Texas Appeals Court Has Tossed His Conviction. Clinton Young, on death row 18 years, insists he’s innocent. The revelation that his prosecutor was on the judge’s payroll could give him another chance to prove it.”
  • Los Angeles DA moves to dismiss nearly 60,000 marijuana convictions. The new dismissals mean the possibility of better futures for thousands of people, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said.”
  • Three Polish regions repeal ‘LGBT-free’ declarations.”—”Three Polish regional councils voted on Monday to repeal motions declaring their provinces ‘LGBT-free zones,’ state-run news agency PAP reported, after the European Union threatened to withdraw funding. Numerous local authorities in Poland declared themselves free of “LGBT ideology” in 2019, part of a conflict in the predominantly Catholic country between liberals and religious conservatives, who see the struggle for gay rights as a threat to traditional values. This set Poland on a collision course with the European Commission, which says the zones may violate EU law regarding non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.”
  • VA tells veterans discharged under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ they are eligible for all VA benefits“—”The Veterans Affairs Department issued guidance stating military service members who were discharged because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status under the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy are eligible for all Veterans Affairs benefits.”
  • The End of Excellence. Inside the empty thinking of America’s executive class.”—”And lest you think that GE is one big bumbling exception, they’re not. Big business’s widespread, painfully unimaginative conversion to finance is the rule. Apple is now an intellectual property broker and, primarily, a hedge fund. Airlines make money by selling their own currency: airline points. Major retailers like Macy’s rely heavily on profits from their proprietary credit cards.”
  • The Pressures Of The Small Coffee Biz: ‘I Feel Like Capitalism Is Killing Us’. Areli Barrera Grodski started out with $75 and has grown her business exponentially, but the Latina shares her many challenges, from representation to racism.”
  • Navient is quitting the federal student loan business“—”Embattled student loan servicer Navient announced this week that it is getting out of the federal student loan business, pending government approval. If it gets the authorization, about 6 million loan borrowers will be sending their monthly payments to a new servicer. Navient plans to transfer those loans to Maximus, a company that already contracts with the Department of Education to service student loans in default.” “Navient was sued in 2017 for allegedly processing payments incorrectly by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau when Cordray was at the helm of that federal agency. Navient has denied the allegations and the lawsuit is ongoing. It has also faced lawsuits from several state attorneys general.”
  • This 5-Minute Workout Will Improve Your Posture If You Sit All Day. Stretch away the stiffness and build core strength with this quick circuit.”
  • I Gave Up On Love, And It Was One Of The Best Decisions I Ever Made. A year after my last date, my world probably looks the same from the outside. What’s different is how I’m now experiencing my life.”—”I spent years trying to understand what was wrong with me. I saw therapists and life coaches, read self-help books and tarot cards. I even let a friend persuade me to buy an extra toothbrush for the partner I had to ‘conjure’ into my world. At times I drank too much. Ate poorly. Cried frequently. When I imagined not doing these things anymore, decades of stress lifted. I suddenly realized how much space there was in my life when fretting over my romantic status was no longer part of it. I learned how joyful life could be if I filled each moment with activities I wanted to do for my own pleasure or prosperity, and not because I might find the love of my life. How liberating to not only put myself first but also prioritize myself exclusively. How much healthier I could be. How much happier.” “Being single is not necessarily better than being partnered, at least not for me. Not yet. But there is still life. Lots of it. And whether or not someone comes, I want to live it.”
  • More on this: “‘Babylon 5’ Series Reboot From J. Michael Straczynski In Works At the CW“—”A new version of the Emmy-winning space opera television series Babylon 5 is in the works. The CW has put in development Babylon 5, described as a “from-the-ground-up reboot” of the critically acclaimed 1990s series, from original series creator J. Michael Straczynski and Warner Bros. Television. Written by Straczynski, the reboot revolves around John Sheridan (played by Bruce Boxleitner in the original series), an Earthforce officer with a mysterious background, who is assigned to Babylon 5, a five-mile-long space station in neutral space, a port of call for travelers, smugglers, corporate explorers and alien diplomats at a time of uneasy peace and the constant threat of war. His arrival triggers a destiny beyond anything he could have imagined, as an exploratory Earth company accidentally triggers a conflict with a civilization a million years ahead of us, putting Sheridan and the rest of the B5 crew in the line of fire as the last, best hope for the survival of the human race.”
  • Watch “Official Trailer | La Brea” “The only way to get home is together. La Brea premieres Tuesday, September 28 at 9/8c on NBC.” It’s kinda like a Lost and Land of the Lost mashup.
  • Ugh. Meh. “‘Law & Order’ Revived By NBC For Season 21 From Dick Wolf & Rick Eid“—”Eleven and a half years after NBC abruptly canceled Law & Order, denying its shot at making TV history, the network is bringing back Dick Wolf’s Emmy-winning series for a new season, its 21st. NBC has greenlighted a new installment of Law & Order, from Wolf and writer-showrunner Rick Eid, which will continue the classic bifurcated format and will once again examine ‘the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders.’ There is no cast set but the new season is expected to feature beloved characters from the original series, with Sam Waterson’s Jack McCoy believed to be at the top of the wish list. The producers from Universal Television and Wolf Entertainment are expected to reach out to former cast member shortly about coming back. Some Law & Order stars are currently in the Wolf Entertainment/Uni TV fold, including S. Epatha Merkerson on Chicago Med and Alana De La Garza on FBI.”
  • Yay! “Tony Hale’s Mysterious Benedict Society Renewed for Season 2 at Disney+
  • FX’s ‘Shogun’ Update Sets Full Cast. Hiroyuki Sanada, Anna Sawai and Cosmo Jarvis will star in the limited series based on James Clavell’s novel, which has begun production.”—”Shōgun was previously adapted for a 1980 miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain, which told the story mostly through the eyes of his character, an English sailor named John Blackthorne. In discussing the series order in 2018, FX Networks chief John Landgraf said the new version would explore ‘a whole lot of point of view that was omitted from the original series because it was thought at that time that American audiences wouldn’t want to see the story from the Japanese point of view. And now, I think you have to tell the story from the Japanese as well as Western point of view.'”
  • ‘Squid Game’ Is Gleefully Vicious and Violent, but Succeeds Best in Its Mundane Moments. Netflix’s South Korean survival thriller never makes its action look glamorous. Its intensity comes from feeling that you’ve gone beyond the end point of a chain of absurdist logic and you really might not want to see what comes next.” Also “‘Squid Game’: Wondering if You Would Survive? Here’s What to Read. “Squid Game” just took over the world (and social media). Here are some of the best takes and trivia.” Also “S.Korea broadband firm sues Netflix after traffic surge from ‘Squid Game’.” Also “A Korean man is being inundated with over 4,000 calls a day after his phone number was used on Netflix hit ‘Squid Game’. A Korean man said he gets over 4,000 calls a day after his phone number was used on “Squid Game.” “Squid Game” is a new Netflix hit series about a deadly survival game based on kids’ games. A South Korean presidential candidate has offered to buy the number off the man for $85,000.” Hahahaha, wow.
  • Carole Baskin Is Back: Netflix Confirms ‘Tiger King 2’ Is On The Way. The sequel promises more of eccentric zookeeper and big cat collector Joe Exotic, who is now in prison for murder-for-hire and animal trafficking.”
  • ‘No Time To Die’ Director Points Out How Sean Connery’s James Bond Was A Creep. Cary Fukunaga cited a disturbing scene in the franchise’s past ‘that wouldn’t fly today.'”
  • ‘Let the Right One In’ Starring Demián Bichir Ordered to Series at Showtime“—”Showtime has ordered the American version of ‘Let the Right One In’ to series, Variety has learned. The 10-episode series, based on the hit Swedish novel and film of the same name, was originally ordered to pilot at the premium cabler back in March. It is expected to go into production in New York City in early 2022. Demián Bichir leads the cast, which also includes Anika Noni Rose, Grace Gummer, Madison Taylor Baez, Kevin Carroll, Ian Foreman, and Jacob Buster. ‘Let the Right One In’ centers on Mark (Bichir) and his daughter Eleanor (Baez) whose lives were changed forever 10 years earlier when she was turned into a vampire. Locked in at age 12, perhaps forever, Eleanor lives a closed-in life, able to go out only at night, while her father does his best to provide her with the human blood she needs to stay alive.” Wait. Oh no. WTF? That’s not the story! Ugh.
  • Watch “The Long Dark — Episode Four — FURY, THEN SILENCE — Teaser.” Also “DEV DIARY – SEPTEMBER 2021.”
  • Watch “Greek Island Odyssey with Bettany Hughes | Knowledge Network”—”Inspired by Odysseus, Bettany Hughes embarks on an epic journey from eastern Greece to Ithaca, learning the truths behind Greek myths and legends along the way.” Also watch an epidode “Crete’s Minoan Secret: A History Of Civilisation | Island Of The Minotaur | Odyssey“—”The mysterious island of Crete has always loomed large in imagination, as the home of the Minotaur — that monstrous creature, half-man half-bull — imprisoned in Daedalus’ labyrinth. Before Crete collapsed in fire and violence, it gave birth to Europe’s first civilisation nearly 5,000 years ago, and boasted an advanced, prosperous Mediterranean civilisation.” “Odyssey is your journey into the world of classical antiquity; from the dawn of Ancient Greece to the Fall of Rome. We’ll be bringing you only the best documentaries that journey into the mysteries and ruins of worlds long lost.”
  • William Shatner’s TekWar Novels May Trek Into Animation. Pure Imagination Studios has a very ambitious plan for its adaptation of the cyberpunk series.”
  • Netflix scoops up Oxenfree developer Night School. The streaming giant continues its push into games.”
  • Strike groups from the 30-50 Wild Hogs in Italy are spreading into Spain! “Shakira Says A Pair Of Wild Boars Attacked Her And Tried To Steal Her Stuff. The singer said the porcine thieves accosted her in a Barcelona park and made off with her bag.”
  • Dolly Parton Reacts In The Most Dolly Parton Way To Lil’ Nas X’s ‘Jolene’. ‘I was so excited when someone told me that Lil Nas X had done my song,’ the country legend tweeted.”

Crowdfunding Campaign Countdown: October 2021

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

  • 40 minutes to go: “Briar & Bramble. Full art and printed copies of Briar & Bramble”—”This Kickstarter is to fund the creation of a full art and physical version of Briar & Bramble which is available for FREE at https://drunkwizard.itch.io/briar Play as a community of wayward animals in search of a new home in Briar & Bramble, a community focused roleplaying game crafted in the heart of the English woodlands.”
  • 42 minutes to go: “Humble Comic Bundle: TV & Movies by Titan Comics“—”Comics based on epic movies/shows? Yes please! We’ve teamed up with Titan Comics for our newest bundle! Get comics and ebooks including the manga reimagining of Sherlock (starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the eponymous sleuth), Showtime’s hit Penny Dreadful, Robotech, Robotech Volume 4, Blade Runner 2019, and Star Trek. Plus, your purchase will support Comicbooks for Kids!”
  • 2 hours to go: “RANE IN BLOOD: Mothership Adventure & Antagonist Sourcebook. ☠️ SPACE PIRATES | CULTS | ORGAN THIEVES | FAILED CLONES | GENETIC VAMPIRES & MUCH MORE! For use with the Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG.”
  • 3 hours to go: “Relics of Rajavihara and Montalo’s Revenge Expansion. A puzzly solo adventure game: The original game, plus 30 all-new levels with brand new challenges.”
  • 4 days to go: “The Moon’s Daughter. A children’s book about love, compassion, and friendship. By Liam and Seb Mckinnon.”—”This story takes place in a faraway world of endless ice and snow. Here resides the Moon’s Daughter and her loyal companion, the Fox. Earthbound, she must take care of the northern lands and her animal friends, though she longs to see Father Moon again. A tale of love, compassion and friendship told in 5 chapters, for children and adults alike!”
  • 6 days to go: “Humble Audiobook Bundle: Voices of Warhammer 2021 by Black Library“—”Live the Warhammer universe, one audiobook at a time. Age of Sigmar? 40K? Whether you’re a fan of fantasy or sci-fi, Black Library is delivering a wealth of Warhammer stories right to your eardrums, with our newest bundle. Sit back, relax, and lose yourself in audiobooks and audiodramas like Cadian Honour, Soul Hunter, and much more! Plus, your purchase helps support EveryLibrary!”
  • 6 days to go: “Solar Sphere: Harness the Power of the Stars! Hire your crew, fight off the Resistance, and build the Solar Sphere – A highly thematic dice placement game.”
  • 10 days to go: “Humble Book Bundle: Harry Potter Film Vault Series by Insight Editions“—”For the ultimate Harry Potter film fan. Step beyond the limits of the silver screen and join Insight Editions in our newest bundle, a Gringott’s vault filled with the complete Harry Potter Film Vault collection! Discover the makings of the movies, everything from magical creatures to props and more. 12 in-depth volumes will ensure you’re the ultimate wizarding whizz, and there’s even the Harry Potter: Knitting Magic book included – in case you feel like creating some memorabilia to show your house pride! Your Potterific purchase helps support NatureBridge!”
  • 7 days to go: “Anne of Green Gables: Vampire Hunter. A limited edition case laminate hardcover of “Anne of Green Gables: Vampire Hunter” for readers 9-12.” From Jordan Stratford and Laudanum Studios. This needs your support if it is going to happen!
  • 7 days to go: “Andromeda: Module for Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG. A Mothership Sci-Fi horror RPG compatible module presented in a fluorescent fold out zine format set on the Andromeda Hub Station.”
  • 9 days to go: “ELEGOO Jupiter: 12.8″ 6K Mono MSLA 3D Printer. The ELEGOO Jupiter lets printing large scale, high accuracy, and intricate parts really simple.” They’re sitting above $4 million right now.
  • 10 days to go: “Alien Armory. A collection of bio-punk weapons, armors and equipment compatible with the Mothership Sci-Fi Horror RPG.”
  • 10 days to go: “Technomagical post-apocalyptic tabletop roleplaying ebooks from GOODMAN GAMES. MUTANT CRAWL CLASSICS. The MCC rulebook (based on DUNGEON CRAWL CLASSICS) and many .PDF modules.”
  • 12 days to go: Tin Helm. A expansive in heart, yet compact in size, solo dungeon crawling experience that will satisfy.” This is a mini conversion of Grey Gnome Games’ Iron Helm.
  • 11 days to go: “The Call of Cthulhu Chocolate Bar. H. P. Lovecraft-inspired chocolate bar. Nori seaweed, ginger spice, & candied ginger in dark chocolate. Handmade & bean-to-bar.” Actually 12 flavours in the works, and the launch of an ongoing shop.
  • 11 days to go: “QUEERZ! RPG. The anime tabletop RPG where you fight intolerance with empathy and rainbow powers! Based on the ‘QUEERZ!’ manga and City of Mist RPG.”
  • 11 days to go: “Mecha & Monsters: Evolved – A TinyD6 RPG. A new edition of the minimalistic, rules-light Mecha and Kaiju TinyD6 roleplaying game. #Get Stompy!”
  • 12 days to go: “ZipWarz: Core Rules. A rules-lite war game for $5″—”Welcome to ZipWarz, a new tabletop war game system that is rules-lite, customizable, and plays faster than most other war games you currently enjoy. In ZipWarz, each player brings customized armies to the battlefield in an attempt to vie for victory using tactical movements, devastating attacks, and special abilities. The player who gains the most Victory Points by the end of round 4 wins the game.”
  • 12 days to go: “Clever Girl. A 1 or 2 player tabletop roleplaying game about survival in a failed dinosaur theme park.”—”Clever Girl is a journaling game based on Chris Bissette’s The Wretched and Matt Sander’s Wretched & Alone framework. It is inspired by the works of Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg. Using a tumbling block tower, a standard deck of playing cards, and a 6-sided die, Clever Girl guides players through a 1- or 2-player game, embodying either the last human survivor of a failed dinosaur theme park or the leader of a raptor pack consumed by revenge after suffering at the hands of the humans. During play, you will narrate the days of your story using playing cards to randomize prompts from the game book. Some may ask you questions, others will ask you to pull blocks from the tower. Play as long as you can before catastrophe ends your story.”
  • 13 days to go: “Heavy Metal Thunder Mouse: Beyond Thunder City. New worlds for mice and their motorcycle clubs from the award winning tabletop RPG.”—”Beyond Thunder City is an anthology of settings for Heavy Metal Thunder Mouse, the award-winning RPG of mice and their motorcycle clubs! It is a 6×9 book, to be released digitally and in paperback, of five worlds for use with the core H.M.T.M. game (available at a discount through this very campaign!), written by some of the most imaginative designers in the industry today and illustrated by our friend Jacob Hunt.”
  • 13 days to go: “Bernpyle: YEAR ONE. An unofficial Mausritter supplement, an anthology of the first year of the Bernpyle zine.”—”Bernpyle has been a every-other-month Mausritter zine in publication since October 2020. The story of Bernpyle is simple, it was a dream turned hobby and then a hobby turned passion and from there it has become, well, it has become a joy! When COVID 19 and the quarantines forced all of our lives to change, many of us once again started playing more Table-Top Role Playing Games, it was in the indie scene that Mausritter by Isaac Williams was discovered. Just like, the world had a new expression of adventuring. The Discord community that Mausritter fostered gave birth to some amazing third-party supplements and Bernpyle was one of the firsts. Since then the community has boomed and Mausritter has already launched two Box Sets and there are 100s of fan made, third-party adventures. To date, Bernpyle has a total of six issues and this project in the YEAR ONE anniversary anthology of these zines.” From Matthew “ManaRampMatt” Morris.
  • 14 days to go: “Blackbirds RPG. A horrific dark fantasy world Powered by Zweihander RPG from creator Ryan Verniere.”—”BLACKBIRDS is a tabletop RPG set in a fantasy world inspired by Europe during the Hundred Years’ War. In Erebos, a cabal of power-hungry Oligarchs has stolen godhood. Their horrific act has rent the fabric of reality, allowing corrupt magic to undermine the world’s natural order. An atmosphere of lingering dread was ushered in by the recent destruction of the gods. And after slaying heaven’s pantheon, the Oligarchs turned their dark intentions on the very arbiters of Fate.”
  • 19 days to go: “Into the Odd Remastered. A rules-light, flavour-heavy roleplaying game of industrial horror and cosmic strangeness.”—”Bastion is the only city that matters. In its industrial age, it sits as the smoke-shrouded hub of mankind, surrounded by a world of lurking horrors and cosmic interference. The Underground spreads beneath our feet and the stars loom above. You are an Explorer, braving places too far for maps and too old for records. Your expeditions touch the bizarre, wondrous, and horrific. You search for riches, but also Arcana, mysterious devices with unnatural powers. The remastered version of the 2014 TTRPG revisits Industrial Bastionland, giving the original Into the Odd a lavish hardback, full-colour restoration with expanded content. The book is written by Chris McDowall (Electric Bastionland) with graphic design by Johan Nohr (MÖRK BORG) and will be printed and distributed by Free League Publishing (Tales from the Loop, The One Ring, Forbidden Lands). The book will be around 136 pages digest format.”
  • 19 days to go: “BLIGHTER: TRACKER OF THE REALM. A bad role model with the stripes to prove it! A Monstrous Adventure by Jeff Parker & Drew Moss.”—”BLIGHTER is an original graphic novel by writer Jeff Parker (X-Men First Class, Flash Gordon, Batman ’66 and Future Quest) and artist Drew Moss (Vampirella/Red Sonja, Star Wars, The Crow, Army Of The Dead, M.A.S.K. and Heavy Metal). Available in both paperback and digital download editions, BLIGHTER is a dimension-spanning, action-packed suspense ride, chock-full of monsters, and a swaggeringly brutal Tiger-man who fancies himself a living legend.”
  • 20 days to go: “Humble Book Bundle: Witchcraft, Magick, and Spirituality“—”There’s more to life than meets the eye… Life isn’t the straightforward journey we all believe it to be. There is so much about our world, our solar system, and our universe we don’t understand. There are mysteries and magic in every corner of our world, and we’ve collected some of that mystical knowledge up for you to get your hands on, no travel required! Thanks to our partners at Hay House, Weiser Books, and HarperCollins, it’s easier than ever to explore spirituality, magick, and elements of witchcraft with ebooks like Wicca Made Easy, Wishcraft, Witchery, and Year Of The Witch. Plus, your purchase helps support a charity of your choice!
  • 20 days to go: “Apocalyptic Record for Werewolf: the Apocalypse 20th Ann. Ed. Deluxe W20 Apocalyptic Record.”
  • 20 days to go: “Skinny Minis 2: An Easier Way to Mini. Durable, beautiful, affordable minis. New art and tons of new freebies!” With new digital only tiers announced for your VTT use!
  • 23 days to go: “Argon EON: 4-Bay Network Storage powered by Raspberry Pi 4. A Network Attached Storage (NAS) for people who love to tinker around with cool stuff and the makers at heart.”
  • 26 days to go: “Verdant. A puzzly spatial board game of houseplant collection and care with gorgeous artwork by Beth Sobel!”
  • 26 days to go: “Drop Drive. Instant Space… Infinite Possibilities! A new drop-style sandbox game for 2 to 5* players, from the creators of Dungeon Drop!”
  • 27 days to go: “Adventure Post: Train of Terror (relaunch). A 12-chapter long horror-themed, solo adventure delivered to your door via postcard, including an interactive PDF and free Teasers!”
  • 29 days to go: “MÖRK BORG Core Item Reference Cards. MÖRK BORG compatible core items reference cards. A set of up to 160 tarot sized cards for use when playing TTRPGS.”
  • Upcoming: “Traveler’s Ironsworn: Mobile and Deluxe Editions. An invaluable part of your Ironsworn play kit… now in super-durable synthetic paper and running on your favorite mobile device.”
  • Upcoming: “Follow Me Down. A GMless, two-player tabletop roleplaying game inspired by the myth of Orpheus & Eurydice, Powered by the Apocalypse.”
  • Upcoming: “The Satanic Coloring Book – Volumes 1 & 2. Explore the world of Satanism in this two volume set of coloring books featuring the NSFW ‘Rituals’ and all ages ‘Animals.'”

Update 6oct2021

  • 19 days to go: “Fractal: Beyond the Void. Fractal is redefining the 4X genre with a compact and dynamic strategy game in an ever-changing, story-driven legacy setting.”
  • Upcoming: “CY_BORG. Nano-infested doomsday RPG about cybernetic misfits and punks raging against a relentless corporate hell.” From Johan Nohr and Stockholm Kartell. Looks like this will literally be cyberpunk MORK BORG. Via twitter: “CY_BORG—a stand-alone, cyberpunk MÖRK BORG spin-off game—is reaching completion. Rules-light, rage-heavy. 160 pages of cybernetic upheaval. Compatible with the world’s loudest metal album of a game. Coming to Kickstarter later this year. ⧖”
  • Upcoming: “Our Haunt by Jamila R. Nedjadi. A narrative RPG about an old house and the ghosts that have found family inside.”

Update 8oct2021:

  • 20 days to go: “Apawthecaria: A Poultice Pounder Adventure. Solo potion making in the setting of Beast Fables, based on the Apothecaria system.”—”n a nutshell: Wholesome solo animal adventures about helping others and making things better. Inspired by Redwall and Ghibli films.” “Welcome to Apawthecaria: A Poulticepounder Adventure. This is a journaling game set in the Bristley Woods, a wild Scottish forest from the Beast Fables setting which happens to be based on our favourite place in the world – Loch Lomond. This collaborative project mixes the core potion-making, locale exploring gameplay of Apothecaria with the post-human and animal-centric setting of Scurry! Exciting new features include: Location-Based Travelling on a beautiful map of the Bristley Woods. Encounters that change with the region. Pet Insects like fuzzy bees or a guard wasp! If you’re a fan of our previous games, you’ll be as excited as we are by how we’ve put our heads together to make Apawthecaria feel fresh. This game is greater than the sum of its parts; it’s a beast of its own, and we’d love you to play it with us!”
  • 21 days to go: “The Red Opera: 5E Tarot Deck of Endless Possibilities. All-In-One Tarot; Playing Card; Spell, Magic Item, Character, Location, and Adventure Deck.”—”The Red Opera: Deck of Endless Possibilities is an All-In-One Tarot; Playing Card; Spell, Magic Item, Character, Location, and Adventure Deck. Brought to you by Apotheosis Studios, this Warlock-inspired deck is filled with details from The Red Opera: Last Days of the Warlock, and includes re-envisioned fan-favorite art for the Major Arcana and all-new illustrations for the Minor Arcana! With the accompanying Storyteller’s Quick Reference Guide to The Shadelands, you can not only use this dark fantasy deck for Tarot and Playing Cards, but also as prompts for new 5E Spells, Magic Items, Characters, Locations, and Adventure hooks. Although designed for 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons, this is a system-agnostic deck and will pair well with any RPG setting of your choosing!” Apotheosis Studios is, in part, Satine Phoenix. Also, options for digital editions on various VTTs, including Foundry.
  • Launched, with 27 days to go: “Follow Me Down. A GMless, two-player tabletop roleplaying game inspired by the myth of Orpheus & Eurydice, Powered by the Apocalypse.”—”Follow Me Down is a tabletop roleplaying game for two players, inspired by the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, and the mythology of the Greek Underworld. It is a story of love and loss that has been told many times and in many different ways. To countless generations, the characters of Orpheus and Eurydice represent the distance we are willing to go for love and the reminder that, no matter how devoted we are, love can only carry us so far. If you’re a fan of Lore Olympus, Neon Gods and Hadestown, then this is the game for you. Follow Me Down is divided into eight sections, called Books of the Dead, where the characters journey through different parts of the underworld in search of one another. It is designed to be GMless, with each player portraying two roles during the course of the game. In each Book, one player takes on the role of The Fates (in what would normally be considered the GM role) while the other player portrays a character based on the archetype of Orpheus or Eurydice. The two players trade off, alternating who is playing their character and who is playing The Fates, until they reach The Gauntlet of Hope and Regret to determine how their story ends. There is a final scene between Orpheus and Eurydice, called the Denouement, which reflects upon the journey the characters have taken, and their relationship to one another at the end of the game.”
  • 29 days to go: “Tournament Arc: the sports anime roleplaying game. A sports anime inspired GM-less RPG for everyone.”—”Are you looking to experience the triumphs and defeats of Space Hyper-Basketball? Need to feel the epic highs and dizzying lows of card games in the post-apocalypse? Want to face the trials and tribulations of legally unnamed flying wizard sports? Then tune in to Tournament Arc, the sports anime RPG from Biscuit Fund Games coming to PDF and physical book soon! Built in the renowned Belonging Outside Belonging system, which you may remember from such hit games such as Wanderhome and Dream Askew, Tournament Arc is your very own collaborative sports anime experience. In every thrilling episode, you’ll play the part of the Team as they negotiate the complexities of their daily lives, explore a collaboratively created world, and, most importantly, play the Game.”
  • Launched, with 30 days to go: “The Satanic Coloring Book – Volumes 1 & 2. Explore the world of Satanism in this two volume set of coloring books featuring the NSFW ‘Rituals’ and all ages ‘Animals.'”—”Join Hell’s Gatekeeper, Jason Lenox and his band of infamous guest artists; Artetak, Mama Metal, Randy Faust, Dani Zemba, Violet Azimuth and Lucifer Storm as they deliver an infernal and erotic collection of Satanic ritual imagery. Many of the works were inspired by talented models including Lady Vi, Damazonia, Goddess Nyx, Mercy West, Rachel Adams, and Keira Grant. Volume 1 is 44 pages of ADULTS ONLY coloring for Satanists featuring a forward from unholy icon, Lady Vi. Take a second trip with Volume 2, featuring Satanic Temple Co-Founder Lucien Greaves, Black Mass Appeal Co-Host Tabitha Slander, Jane Baker, Christie Shinn, Randy Faust, Violet Azimuth and Jason Atomic as they explore Satanism’s relationship with animals. Volume 2 is 32 pages of ALL AGES coloring, with a forward by Simone Lasher from Black Mass Appeal. All works from BOTH VOLUMES will be available via QR code in the book to download and print in any size and paper type so you can customize your coloring experience while keeping your book in mint condition.”
  • Upcoming: “Mimics, An Unnecessary Work, for Use With Fantasy RPGs. This is completely worthless and should be avoided. You do not need a haphazard and random selection of mimic ideas, right?”

Update 12oct2021

  • Launched, with 20 days to go: “Our Haunt by Jamila R. Nedjadi. A creepy-cozy TTRPG about a found family of ghosts and their haunted home.”—”Our Haunt is a tabletop RPG about a family of ghosts built on the Belonging Outside Belonging system, inspired by games like Dream Askew/Dream Apart, Wanderhome, and Balikbayan: Returning Home. It’s a rules-light engine with no dice and no masters, focused around tokens and community play.”
  • 37 days to go: “Fool’s Gold: Into the Bellowing Wilds. A 5th edition campaign setting based on the hit Youtube series by Dingo Doodles and Felix Irnich.”—”Fools Gold: Into the Bellowing Wilds is an exciting new 5e adventure that takes place in the world’s deadliest jungle where everything wants to kill you! Fun! Enhance your games with this jungle campaign setting, including a buttload of new content. We’ve also got brand new wilder magic & curse charts that will definitely excite GMs while the players pray to the dice gods. Delve into the Bellowing Wilds, discover the rich lore of the world, and find out what happened to the ancient Foreclaimers who disappeared thousands of years ago, leaving ruins, mysteries, MECHANICAL DRAGONS AND DINOSAURS, and awesome treasures behind…”

Update 13oct2021

  • 26 days to go: “War Within RPG – Set in a Tense Cold War Arena. A New RPG based in an alternative 1980s Cold War Arena where the players take control of a country and try to survive the coming storm.”—”We have positioned War Within RPG in what we consider to be a new wave of roleplaying. Arguably it began with Dungeon and Dragons 5e and their slimmed down rules set from 4e and now we have games such as Mork Borg that promote themselves as rules-lite. The emphasis today is on a stripped back rules systems nestled in a vibrant world setting that encourages roleplaying. This is a move away from the complex character creation and an emphasis on combat and a swing towards narrative and easy access. Not know the rules is not such a problem for players as the GM is encouraged to give the players an experience they enjoy rather than break it up with rulebook checking. We have tried to place War Within RPG in this environment….”
  • Upcoming: “The Worst Generation: A Masks: A New Generation Supplement. A third party supplement for Masks: A New Generation bringing a new city setting, rules for manga inspired drama and more.”
  • Upcoming: “Planebreaker—Explore the Planes for 5e. Explore exotic alternate planes with this 5e tome from legendary RPG designers Bruce Cordell, Sean Reynolds, and Monte Cook.”
  • Upcoming: “Questlandia RPG – Updated and expanded. A worldbuilding roleplaying game about troubled kingdoms and the people who live there, now with new art and expanded rules.”

Update 18oct2021

  • 7 days to go: “Simple and fast tabletop Mythos roleplaying based on THE BLACK HACK. THE CTHULHU HACK. The standalone corebook, investigations, sourcebooks, and more — all as .PDF ebooks.” I almost missed that the bonus collection includes the core book for The Dee Sanction—”The Dee Sanction is a standalone roleplaying game about serving Queen and country in the late Tudor period. You are an Agent of Dee — not by choice, but for self-preservation. Somewhere between conscription and penance, you work with a faint hope you can earn pardon and absolution — if only you can outrun the shadows of your past and the horrors of the present.”
  • 24 days to go: “Telepatio: A Game For Believers & Skeptics Alike. Is telepathy real? Can you read minds? OR, is it all just a hoax? Telepatio will find out!”—”Since the early days of human civilization there’s always been one matter we can all agree upon; we are never all going to agree about one opinion or belief. Telepathy is one such topic where opinions tend to differ. Now you and up to five friends get to disagree in our fast-paced and engaging board game – Telepatio!” “In Telepatio, you use the Zener cards in a social and fun interpretation of the original 1930s experiment. By scoring or losing ESP points picking the right or wrong cards you will determine who has the greatest telepathic aptitude; or does it simply come down to luck?” “Every round a player assumes the role of a ‘Sender’. The Sender rolls the Zener dice with the dice cup and views the result in secrecy. The Sender then flips over the hourglass, and must try to telepathically communicate the right Zener symbol to the other players. No words or visual cues of any kind are allowed, you must rely on the power of your mind.”

Update 20oct2021

  • 28 days to go: “Pinsta Instant Camera – Micro Darkroom and Negative Enlarger. Analogue Photography for Everyone! Shoot, Develop, Enlarge and Customise Your Own Prints without a Darkroom.”—”Pinsta is a camera which can shoot directly onto positive 4×5 inch photographic paper. It develops internally, and can be used on the go, wherever you are and whenever you like for creating and sharing real analogue prints!” “Pinsta is also a mini-enlarger! For those already shooting film and wanting to get into analogue printing without the expense or need for a darkroom, Pinsta is here to help! Simply load your negatives into the internal enlargement slide and you can enlarge them onto 4×5 inch paper. You can even create prints with fun and creative frames and overlays using Pinsta’s ingenious internal slide system. Anyone can use Pinsta to produce photographic prints of their own, at home or out and about and without any further investment in darkroom equipment besides a dark bag for loading your next shot. Nothing beats the feeling of mounting your very own real photographic prints around your home.”

Summary for the month of September 2021

I did some stuff on YouTube. What stuff I did were live streams, now unlisted. I mostly tried to live stream as close to 6:66am Central on Tuesdays and Thursdays as I could manage, until I got tired or too hot, usually a few hours. Toward the end of the month I’ve gotten a bit burned out from the early morning live stream idea, and skipped the last Thursday to catch up on other stuff I needed to do, and I don’t know what’s going to come of all that but it’s feeling like it is changing again. Some portions of some live streams got posted as archives. Here’s what I posted of what I did.

Off camera, I participated in an introductory one-shot curated play session for Magpie Games’ Avatar Legends. (I’m signed up for another one, this time a two-shot, this weekend.) Went pretty well, and seems like a neato PbtA system, enough so that I’m curious about their other games, like Urban Shadows and even Root, which I skipped paying attention to because it didn’t seem like a game I’d ever play solo. But, the Avatar session was conducted on Foundry, and was on a day and time that really worked well for me; and turned out fun enough that I started to think I might try playing in groups again, maybe? If I do though, I doubt those will be recorded or broadcast, so it’ll all be off camera.

Yeah. That’s it. ::shrug::