Omnium Gatherum: April 11, 2019

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for April 11, 2019

If you’d like to participate, head over to Omnium Gatherum on the BBS, or suggest something.

  • Darkness Visible, Finally: Astronomers Capture First Ever Image of a Black Hole. Astronomers at last have captured a picture of one of the most secretive entities in the cosmos.” — Dennis Overbye, The New York Times

    Overbye New York Times supermassive black hole

    “For years, and for all the mounting scientific evidence, black holes have remained marooned in the imaginations of artists and the algorithms of splashy computer models of the kind used in Christopher Nolan’s outer-space epic “Interstellar.” Now they are more real than ever.

    ‘We have seen what we thought was unseeable,’ said Shep Doeleman, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and director of the effort to capture the image, during a Wednesday news conference in Washington, D.C.”

  • Forbidden Archeology of the Divine Feminine” — Otep Shamaya, The Brooklyn Rail

    “My hope is to help eradicate historical amnesia and the phony ethos women are innate subordinates to men by pollinating you with a roaring axiom of gender equality and women’s historical contributions to the advancement of civilization. A difficult endeavor but, hey, it’s what I do.”

  • Anton LaVey – Into the Devil’s Den – documentary. Anton LaVey described by the people who knew and worked with him.” A crowdfunding effort by Carl Abrahamsson

    “My film ANTON LAVEY – INTO THE DEVIL’S DEN is a documentary that gives you exclusive insight into the man detractors called “The Black Pope.” The film contains never before shown interview material with LaVey, private photographs, rare recordings, plus in-depth interviews with Blanche Barton, Peter Gilmore, Peggy Nadramia, Bob Johnson, Kenneth Anger, Michael Moynihan, Mitch Horowitz, Ruth Waytz, Carl Abrahamsson, and more…

    The film is on its way! But we still have a long way to go in the expensive struggle of post-production. This is where you can help out. The film needs more archival material, sound-cleaning and color grading, all of which requires TIME and money. If you support this film, you will not only reap the infernal benefits of association; you will also take part of some amazing “perks.””

  • Roman Emperor Book. Resources and discussion for readers of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius.” A free online course by Donald Robertson, in conjunction with his book How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius.

    Robertson How to Think Like a Roman Emperor audiobook

    “This is a free eLearning course for anyone who’s reading my book How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius. You’ll obtain access to extra resources here, including downloads, interviews, and quiz questions. You’ll also be able to join in discussions about each chapter with other readers.”

  • Satanic Temple challenges Missouri abortion law” — Jim Salter, Associated Press

    “A member of the Satanic Temple in Missouri is challenging a state law that requires women seeking an abortion to wait three days, saying that it violates the member’s religious freedom.”

  • SanTO, el primer robot católico del mundo que te escucha y selecciona textos religiosos para ti” — Sinembargo [HT Mariana]

    Sinembargo SanTO

    “Aunque muchas personas equiparan tecnología con progreso desde una perspectiva agnóstica o atea , lo cierto es que en la innovación la espiritualidad también tiene cabida, algo que se plasma en diversos proyectos que vinculan religión con IA, robótica, transformación digital o blockchain. Entre otros, te hemos contado que el cepillo de la iglesia anglicana permite pagos móviles, que un robot budista ya predica en un templo nipón o que el Vaticano digitalizó sus secretos empleando machine learning e inteligencia artificial. ¡Si hasta el Papa tiene Twitter!

    Ahora, las personas mayores en busca de un compañero de alta tecnología pueden encontrar consuelo en un pequeño robot que los escucha y les lee las Sagradas Escrituras. Con una apariencia simular a un pequeño altar, está equipado con un software cuyo algoritmo escucha al usuario, escanea su rostro en busca de signos de emociones específicas y selecciona textos religiosos que pueden ser relevantes para sus problemas.

    El autómata teomórfico se llama SanTO -de hecho, es similar a uno- y ha sido diseñado por Gabriele Trovato de la Universidad de Waseda.”

    Although many people equate technology with progress from an agnostic or atheist perspective, the truth is that in innovation, spirituality also has a place, something that is reflected in various projects that link religion with AI, robotics, digital transformation or blockchain. Among others, we have told you that the brush of the Anglican church allows mobile payments, that a Buddhist robot already preaches in a Japanese temple or that the Vatican digitized its secrets using machine learning and artificial intelligence. If even the Pope has Twitter!

    Now, older people looking for a high-tech companion can find comfort in a small robot that listens to them and reads them the Holy Scriptures. With a simulated appearance to a small altar, it is equipped with software whose algorithm listens to the user, scans his face for signs of specific emotions and selects religious texts that may be relevant to his problems.

    The theomorphic automaton is called SanTO – in fact, it is similar to one – and has been designed by Gabriele Trovato of the University of Waseda.

  • Aphantasia: Ex-Pixar chief Ed Catmull says ‘my mind’s eye is blind’” — James Gallagher, BBC News

    “Most people can close their eyes and conjure up images inside their head such as counting sheep or imagining the face of a loved one.

    But Ed Catmull, 74, has the condition aphantasia, in which people cannot visualise mental images at all.

    And in a surprising survey of his former employees, so do some of the world’s best animators.

    Ed revolutionised 3D graphics, and the method he developed for animating curved surfaces became the industry standard.

    He first realised his brain was different when trying to perform Tibetan meditation with a colleague.”

  • How Did Conspiracy Theories Come to Dominate American Culture?. Thomas Milan Konda Untangles Our Obsession Complicated Plots.” — Thomas Milan Konda, LitHub; a reprint from Konda’s Conspiracies of Conspiracies: How Delusions Have Overrun America

    Konda Conspiracy of Conspiracies

    “Americans see hoaxes and plots everywhere: from climate change to immunizations to almost anything having to do with Hillary Clinton. But why? Is the constant stream of conspiracy theories a side effect of social media? Are conspiracy theories a product of the increasing polarization of politics? Or have they always been around and for some reason we just notice them more now?

    We can start to answer the last question: in their modern form, they have been around for at least two hundred years. The United States was less than ten years old when New England religious leaders sounded the alarm about the Illuminati’s plans to destroy the republic. And this was only the beginning.”

  • Why is Amazon Prime using astrology to sell you stuff? Amazon Prime members might have noticed a new horoscope feature that matches one’s zodiac sign with products and services. Is it a joke?” — Rina Raphael, Fast Company

    “In a truly bizarre, capitalist twist on astrology, Amazon Prime’s Insider newsletter is sending monthly shopping horoscopes to its members. The company maps out the best products and Prime benefits by zodiac sign, because obviously, all your spirituality needs align with their inventory.”

  • The New Science of How to Argue—Constructively. Disagreement is central to our lives online. ‘Erisologists’ want to study it more systematically.” — Jesse SIngal, The Atlantic; from the All-Hail-Discordia dept.

    “In the early days of the internet, way back in the 1990s, tech utopians envisioned a glittering digital future in which people from very different backgrounds could come together online and, if not reach consensus, at least learn something from one another. In the actual future we inhabit, things didn’t work out this way. The internet, especially social media, looks less like a dinner party and more like a riot. People talk past one another, and the discussion spirals down accordingly.

    To the Swedish blogger John Nerst, online flame wars like those reveal a fundamental shift in how people debate public issues. Nerst and a nascent movement of other commentators online believe that the dynamics of today’s debates—especially the misunderstandings and bad-faith arguments that lead to the online flame wars—deserve to be studied on their own terms.

    Erisology is the study of disagreement, specifically the study of unsuccessful disagreement. An unsuccessful disagreement is an exchange where people are no closer in understanding at the end than they were at the beginning, meaning the exchange has been mostly about talking past each other and/or hurling insults. A really unsuccessful one is where people actually push each other apart, and this seems disturbingly common.

    The word erisology comes from Eris, the Greek goddess of discord, who proved in antiquity that you could get people into fights by giving them ambiguous messages and letting them interpret them self-servingly and according to their own biases.”

  • Pizzagate, Satanic Panic, and the Power of Conspiracy Theories” — Anna Merlan, Jezebel; a book excerpt from Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power, due out in a few days

    Merlan Republic of Lies

    “These outbreaks of religious hysteria recur so persistently in American life for a reason: they are, like so many conspiracy theories, a response to moments of social change and perceived societal fracture. Satanic Panic allegations first arose during a moment in the 1980s of intense concern over the number of women in the workforce and a subsequent rise in “latchkey kids” and paid caregivers.

    Pizzagate emerged during the 2016 elections, a time when Americans were re-litigating, to an exhausting degree, our beliefs, our vision of America, and our sexual ethics. The paranoid idea of sexual predators hiding in the highest echelons of power was not so paranoid; Pizzagate, though, spun it through a nexus of faux black magic, imagined ritual, and nonsensical accusations that were somehow both unbelievable and yet, for a lot of people, unbelievably powerful.”