Monthly Archives: August 2021

Flying Saucers

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by C G Jung, trans. R F C Hull.

Jung Hull Flying Saucers

This fairly short book collects all of Jung’s writings relevant to ufology, principally the 1958 monograph “Flying Saucers,” which discusses UFOs in rumor, dreams, and modern art, along with the question of the premodern history of the phenomenon and its “non-psychological” (i.e. objective, material) aspect. An epilogue treats late-breaking ufological literature (in the 1950s): the evangelistic Secret of the Saucers by contactee Orfeo Angelucci, the sf novel The Black Cloud by astronomer Fred Hoyle, and John Wyndham’s sf novel The Midwich Cuckoos. Appended to the main text are three short pieces of correspondence “On Flying Saucers,” addressed to the periodical Weltwoche, the UPI news agency, and US military ufologist Major Donald Keyhoe. The last two letters are largely concerned to counter what Jung claimed were misrepresentations in the press regarding his credulity towards the empirical reality of flying saucers as material craft from beyond Earth.

Throughout the book, but especially in the section that analyzes seven dreams featuring flying saucers or something of the kind, Jung goes on at length about his own theories in more general terms that are not obviously germane to the topic at hand. In one admitted “digression,” he puzzled me by setting up an opposition between the “sex instinct” and the “power instinct,” while positing a “religious instinct for wholeness” that could reconcile and transcend them. I found this arrangement puzzling and theoretically incoherent, although it soon became evident that the “power instinct” was chiefly a rhetorical figure for Nietzsche’s interpretation of life, while the “sex instinct” referred to Freud’s (35-43).

Although the chapter on “Previous History of the Ufo Phenomenon” discusses instances going back to the sixteenth century and speculates about its presence in antiquity, Jung is especially concerned about the putatively US-centric 20th-century UFO sightings glut as a manifestation of collective mentality during a current crisis. In his opening “Introductory” he points to the precession of the equinox from Pisces to Aquarius or succession of “Platonic month” as the basis or essential context for stresses on the modern worldview (5). In his concluding remarks, he focuses on the Cold War and the polar division of the world system between red (Soviet) and white (US) alchemical complements (111).

The past (the tradition that leads to our electronic present) is, for the Web user, irrelevant, since all that counts is what is currently displayed. Compared to a book that betrays its age in its physical aspect, a text called up on the screen has no history. Electronic space is frontierless. Sites-that is to say, specific, self-defined homelands-are founded on it but neither limit nor possess it, like water on water. The Web is quasi-instantaneous; it occupies no time except the nightmare of a constant present. All surface and no volume, all present and no past, the Web aspires to be (advertises itself as) every user’s home, in which communication is possible with every other user at the speed of thought. That is its main characteristic: speed.

Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Manguel The Lbrary at Night web quasi-instantaneous occupies no time except a nightmare of a constant present

Omnium Gatherum: 29aug2021

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

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

  • Via email: “Treadwell’s presents 3 new courses: Birth of the Greek, Gods Secrets of Greek, [&] Sacred Art Plato the Myth Maker by Dr Sasha Chaitow.” “Birth of the Greek Gods, 4 part course – Begins 25th October. Each part of the course may be taken separately, and there is no obligation to take them all. Rediscover the original Muses, Titans, and Heroes through Greece’s greatest epic poet (who wasn’t Homer!).” “Secrets of Greek Sacred Art, 5 week course – Begins 28th October. A living tradition of ensouled statues and breathing icons.” And “Plato the Myth Maker, 2 part course – Begins 13th January. Exit Plato’s cave and discover the original occult practice of concealing knowledge in plain sight through 8 of his timeless myths”
  • The Tonbridge schoolboy who became a magical cult leader and ‘the wickedest man in the world’. He’s one of history’s strangest, most complex, and utterly unbelievable people.”
  • Mormonism’s Sci-Fi Swan Song. Faith and cosplay at the Hill Cumorah Pageant.”
  • Tweet—”Do you want to work at the Horniman? There are lots of job openings at the moment, from working in the Gardens team to working in community engagement. Find out more and see which one might suit you. ? https://horniman.ac.uk/about-the-horniman/jobs/ ” This museum, of course, founded by the father of Annie Horniman, Sor. Fortiter et Recte, one of the women of the Golden Dawn.
  • Reading Dion Fortune’s Psychic Self-Defence – I” and “Reading Dion Fortune’s Psychic Self-Defence – II“—”Over the last few days on Twitter, I have been engaged in a close, chapter-by-chapter reading of Dion Fortune’s book, Psychic Self-Defence (first published in 1930). I began this exercise after becoming involved in a discussion about the merits of ‘psychic hygiene’ and I posted a thread detailing my own experiences and perspectives on ‘psychic attack’. I thought it would be instructive to take a look at the content of Psychic Self-Defence (PSD) in order to discuss the origins of the genre of ‘psychic defense’ texts, of which Fortune’s book, widely hailed as a classic, is one of the first.”
  • Watch “Does being a member of a Gurdjieff group create fragmentation?” Krishnamurti responds to the question: “I have been a member of a Gurdjieff group. I find it has given me a background to better understand what you are saying. Should I continue with such a group to possibly help others, as I was helped? Or does such a group make for fragmentation?”
  • Bibliomantic Oracles—”Resources to perform analysis of english text, with the purpose of creating oracles for solo gaming” or, you know, whatever. “This program will take text documents written in English, parse them to determine parts of speech, then order the nouns, verbs, and adjectives within it. From there, further analysis may be performed, such as specifying a text and identifying unusual words within that book, which are high in frequency in the book, but low in frequency in the full corpus.”
  • Bruce Lee and the Tao of Ásatrú“—”Quotes supposedly from Lee that often pop up online as inspirational nuggets are often actually lines that he spoke in character on television and on the silver screen. His original written reflections are more interesting and evince a deep engagement with his own study as a voracious reader in a wide range of disciplines. As has happened before while reading other texts, I was surprised to find how much of Lee’s written work resonated with my own experiences in, of all things, Ásatrú and Heathenry – new religious movements that seek to reconstruct, recreate, and reimagine ancient Norse and wider Germanic polytheist paganism.”
  • Narrator voice: No. No they aren’t. “Marvel Disney Introducing Pedophile Group Into the MCU.” Someone’s been sipping on the crazy sauce. “Interestingly enough, Professor X and Namor art happen to resemble either Satanists Aleister Crowley and/or Anton Lavey, which some fans think was made to look like writer Brian Michael Bendis.” The rest is pure stupid.
  • Quick reminder that there’s only 60 hours to go to back T Thorn Coyle’s Bookshop Witch crowdfunding effort: “Bookshop Witch. Paranormal Cozies for Freaks and Geeks.”
  • Apparently this book’s author is the current GTG of UKGL, OTO: A Whisper in the Silence: An Inspiring Naturist Love Story [Amazon] by Trevor Gray—”A private desert island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. A deep-thinking multi-millionaire seeking solitude, silence and a naturist lifestyle. The unexpected arrival of a beautiful young glamour model in need of Prosecco and noisy parties. Mismatch, humour, spiritual wisdom, near tragedy and all-conquering love. One unforgettable heart-warming tale.”
  • Moon’s Knight [Amazon] by Lilith Saintcrow—”Drunk and disoriented after her best friend’s funeral, Ginevra Bennet stumbles through a door in an ivy-covered wall…and finds herself in a dry wasteland under a dying crimson sun, the only possible shelter a giant stone castle. If it’s a hallucination, it’s a deadly one; the Keep is full of beauty, luxury, courtly manners–and monsters. The inhabitants rejoice in her arrival, dress her in white, and call her a queen. Greenery returns to their gardens, and the prince of the realm, with his silver-ringed eyes, seems very interested in Gin indeed. It should be the answer to every lonely young woman’s dreams. But nothing in Gin’s life has ever been what it’s seemed. Not her best friend, not her upbringing, and most especially not her nightmares. Drowning, violent death, a stone roof, and the hallucinatory prince have filled her nights, and Gin hopes she’s going mad–because the alternative is just too scary to contemplate. Caught in a web of manners, intrigue, and betrayal, Gin has to depend on her sorely tested wits and uncertain sanity. There are Gates at the edge of the wasteland, and if she can escape the castle and its beautiful, terrifying inhabitants, she might just find a few answers and be able to get home. Assuming, of course, home is where she really wants to be…”
  • “The Hearers’ study of philosophy consists of maxims without demonstration or argument: ‘do this’, and the other pronouncements of Pythagoras. They try to preserve these as divine teachings; they make no claim to speak for themselves, nor do they think it right to speak, but they hold those who have acquired the most axioms to be the best equipped for wisdom. These maxims are of three kinds, the ‘what is?’, the ‘what is the most?’ and the ‘what is to be done or not done?’. …”—Iamblichus, Life of Pythagoras 82-85 (tr. Gillian Clark), quoted at Pythagorean Catechism.
  • “[R]eligious growth is geological: its principle is, on the whole and with exceptions, agglomeration, not substitution. A new belief-pattern very seldom effaces completely the pattern that was there before: either the old lives on as an element in the new—sometimes an unconfessed and half-unconscious element—or else the two persist side by side, logically incompatible, but contemporaneously accepted by different individuals or even by the same individual.”—E.R. Dodds, The Greeks and the Irrational (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1951 = Sather Classical Lectures, 25), p. 179, quoted at Religious Growth.
  • “The rabble rejoice to give government to the vile… “—Seneca, Phaedra 983-984 (tr. Frank Justus Miller), quoted at An Unworthy Leader.
  • Watch “Egypt’s 28 Ingredient Hummus” from 14th c. Medieval Egypt. Recipe from Treasure Trove of Benefits and Variety at the Table: A Fourteenth-Century Egyptian Cookbook English Translation, with an Introduction and Glossary [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Nawal Nasrallah—”The fourteenth-century Egyptian cookbook, Kanz al-fawid f tanw al-mawid, is a treasure trove of 830 recipes of dishes, digestives, refreshing beverages, and more. Here, for the first time, it has been meticulously translated into English and supplemented with a comprehensive introduction, glossary, illustrations, and twenty-two modern adaptations of its recipes.”
  • Lángos – The Most Ancient of Hungarian Foods – with Recipe! While it may be completely different in its modern form, lángos, in its original style, is the most ancient piece of Hungarian cuisine in the world. It is as old as bread, as it was created with the leftovers of the ancient grain, from the small clumps of dough that stuck to the kneading bowl during its preparation. A person of the past era ate lángos while bread was in the oven, since it was baked sooner thanks to its smaller size.”
  • Watch “Siberian wildfires now bigger than all other fires in world combined“—”ABC News’ Patrick Reevell reports from Siberia on the unprecedented spread of wildfires as officials attempt to battle the flames in a region that is typically one of the coldest places on Earth.”
  • Watch “Giant iceberg almost size of London circling Antarctic coast“—”The British Antarctic Survey says it doesn’t know when scientists can return to one of its research stations. This is due to the danger posed by a giant iceberg, that is almost the size of Greater London. Experts are tracking the mass from space as it circles the Antarctic coastline. British Antarctic Survey scientists don’t believe that this particular event is connected to climate change.”
  • More And More Humans Are Growing an Extra Artery, Showing We’re Still Evolving“—”An artery that temporarily runs down the center of our forearms while we’re still in the womb isn’t vanishing as often as it used to, according to researchers from Flinders University and the University of Adelaide in Australia.” From 2020: “Forearm artery reveals human evolution continues
  • Frosty: A Micro-fabricated Optical Seismometer to Measure Minute Forces in a Mighty Environment“—”A NASA-sponsored team at Michigan Aerospace Corporation and Southern Methodist University (SMU) is developing a microfabricated all-optical seismometer called Frosty that can gather data in the harsh environments encountered on icy works such as Europa.”
  • Scientists discover first ancient human DNA remarkably preserved from tropical Asia region“—”A group of scientists have uncovered a new chapter of the “human story” in Southeast Asia thanks to a partially preserved skeleton dating back approximately 7,200 years.” “Scientists found and excavated the partially-preserved skeleton in 2015 from a limestone cave on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. They were able to extract DNA from the petrous bone, a thick inner ear bone, and analysis revealed that the skeleton belonged to a female who was around 17-18 years old. According to the study, recovering intact human remains from this region is uncommon because the tropical temperatures usually cause them to break down, making delicate structures like DNA unsalvageable.”
  • Mercury Is No Longer The Closest Astronomical Body To The Sun: Scientists Just Discovered Our Star’s New Nearest Neighbor.”—”So what does the future hold for 2021 PH27 ? It’s unclear, but astronomers suspect that it will likely be destroyed in a collision with either Mercury, Venus or the Sun—but possibly not for millions of years.”
  • Fossil confiscated in police raid is one of the most complete pterosaur skeletons ever found“—”A discovery made during a police raid has been identified as the most complete fossil of a flying reptile from Brazil. The remains revealed new information about tapejarids, or pterosaurs that soared across the skies during the Early Cretaceous period between 100.5 million and 145 million years ago.”
  • Hubble captures gorgeous image of ‘Einstein ring’ from warped quasar light. Einstein predicted the existence of these rings back in 1915.”
  • A college student’s near fatal collapse uncovered a frightening family legacy. The unknown cause explained a tragic death that had occurred decades earlier.”
  • Confirmed! a Tiny Nearby Exoplanet With Only 40% of Earth’s Mass“—”planetary system just 35 light years from Earth hosts four and possibly five planets. This includes one (if it exists) that’s squarely in its star’s habitable zone, and another that’s the lightest-weight planet ever found using the radial velocity method: It has only 40% of Earth’s mass. That’s pretty cool.”
  • Mathematicians Solve Decades-Old Classification Problem. A pair of researchers has shown that trying to classify groups of numbers called ‘torsion-free abelian groups’ is as hard as it can possibly be.”—”For decades, one classification problem — involving a particular set of infinitely large objects called torsion-free abelian groups (or TFABs) — stymied researchers. This problem was first raised in 1989 by the mathematicians Harvey Friedman and Lee Stanley in a paper that, according to Paolini, ‘introduced a new way of comparing the difficulties of classification problems for countable structures, indicating that some things are more complicated than others.'”
  • Climate change fueling warm ocean ‘blob’ causing Chile megadrought.”—”‘We need to be cognizant of the changes that are happening in global climate thousands of miles away,’ Amaya said. ‘It’s all connected.'”
  • Confirming the pedigree of uranium cubes from Nazi Germany’s failed nuclear program.”—”During World War II, Nazi Germany and the U.S. were racing to develop nuclear technology. Before Germany could succeed, Allied forces disrupted the program and confiscated some of the cubes of uranium at the heart of it. The ultimate fate of most of that uranium is unknown, but a few cubes thought to be associated with the program are in the U.S. and Europe. Today, scientists report initial results from new methods being developed to confirm their provenance. The techniques might also help with investigations into illicit trafficking of nuclear material.”
  • World-first detector built by dark matter researchers reports rare events“—”A ground-breaking detector that aims to use quartz to capture high frequency gravitational waves has been built by researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics (CDM) and the University of Western Australia. In its first 153 days of operation, two events were detected that could, in principle, be high frequency gravitational waves, which have not been recorded by scientists before. Such high frequency gravitational waves may have been created by a primordial black hole or a cloud of dark matter particles. ”
  • In a first, scientists capture a ‘quantum tug’ between neighboring water molecules. The work sheds light on the web of hydrogen bonds that gives water its strange properties, which play a vital role in many chemical and biological processes.”
  • Robot mimics the powerful punch of the mantis shrimp. Research answers long-standing biological questions, paves the way for small but mighty robots.”
  • I mean … “Female octopuses throw things at males that are harassing them“—”An analysis of footage of octopuses off the coast of Australia “throwing” shells and silt suggests that they intentionally target – and often hit – other octopuses. In most cases, it is females that do the throwing, often at males that are harassing them.” “In 2016, for instance, one female octopus threw silt 10 times at a male from a nearby den who was attempting to mate with her. She hit him on five occasions. ‘That sequence was one of the ones that convinced me [it was intentional],’ says Godfrey-Smith. On four of these occasions, the male tried to “duck”, though he didn’t always succeed. In two cases, he anticipated the throws from the female’s movements and started dodging before the silt was propelled at him. When targeting others, the octopuses were more likely to throw silt than shells and the throws were also more vigorous.” “On two occasions, an octopus hit a fish, though one of these collisions appeared to have been accidental. The animals also seemed to target the camera on occasion, hitting the tripod twice. While the throwing appears to be used as a form of attack, the team hasn’t seen any targeted octopus respond by attacking or throwing things back. What’s more, some throws that happen after intense social interactions aren’t directed at another octopus but into empty space, suggesting the animals might be venting their frustration. In one case, after a male’s advances to a female were rejected, he threw a shell in a random direction and changed colour.”
  • From the Hanging Gardens of Babylon dept: “Jian Mu Tower“—”International design and innovation office CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati has released the design for an office tower in China, whose façade features a vertical hydroponic farm extending the entire height of the building.” “The 218-meter high tower dedicates 10,000 square meters of space on its façade to the cultivation of crops. The vertical hydroponic farm will produce an estimated 270,000 kilograms of food per year, enough to cover the needs of roughly 40,000 people. Jian Mu Tower establishes a self-sustained food supply chain, encompassing the cultivation, harvest, sale and consumption of crops, all inside the same building. In addition, the tower will house offices, a supermarket, and a food court.”
  • China’s fast-fashion spy machine: How shadowy teen brand Shein uses algorithms to harvest data on its users and find out what they want to buy – before its mega-factory spits the clothes out at rock-bottom prices. Fears mounting at senior Government level about Shein’s surveillance tactics. Industry insiders say company is spying on unsuspecting customers by using social media sites and apps collecting vast amounts of customer data. MP Tom Tugendhat has accused the brand of ‘surveillance capitalism’”
  • People are hiring out their faces to become deepfake-style marketing clones. AI-powered characters based on real people can star in thousands of videos and say anything, in any language.”—”Like many students, Liri has had several part-time jobs. A 23-year-old in Israel, she does waitressing and bartending gigs in Tel Aviv, where she goes to university. She also sells cars, works in retail, and conducts job interviews and onboarding sessions for new employees as a corporate HR rep. In Germany. Liri can juggle so many jobs, in multiple countries, because she has hired out her face to Hour One, a startup that uses people’s likenesses to create AI-voiced characters that then appear in marketing and educational videos for organizations around the world.”
  • Tweet thread—”NASA “reluctantly agrees” to extend the stay on SpaceX’s HLS contract by a week bc the 7GB+ of case-related docs in the Blue Origin suit keeps causing DOJ’s Adobe software to crash and key NASA staff were busy at Space Symposium this week, causing delays to a filing deadline. lol” How’s that privatizing of space going for you now?
  • TikTok, Reddit, and Facebook are struggling with ivermectin misinformation. Like other false cures, the drug is highlighting the misinformation problem on social media.”
  • Anti-vaxx lawyer for dozens of Capitol rioters is now on a ‘ventilator’ with COVID-19: report.”
  • Texas Anti-Mask ‘Freedom Rally’ Organizer Fighting For His Life With COVID-19. His pregnant wife said this week that the hospital was ‘out of options’ for her husband.”
  • Veteran dies of treatable illness as COVID fills hospital beds, leaving doctors ‘playing musical chairs’“—”‘He loved his country,’ his mother, Michelle Puget, told ‘CBS This Morning’ lead national correspondent David Begnaud. ‘He served two deployments in Afghanistan, came home with a Purple Heart, and it was a gallstone that took him out.'”
  • Watch “The First Great Plague: A Neolithic Apocalypse?“—”What caused the Neolithic Decline in Europe? Was it the first great plague in history? And if so, did it cause a Neolithic apocalypse?”
  • Tweet—”JUST IN: Judge Cooper sides with parents, students and public health OVERTURNING @GovRonDeSantis’s ban on school mask mandates!Clapping hands sign. PLOT TWIST: Judge cites GOP’s own ‘Parental Bill of Rights’ allowing school districts to make ‘reasonable’ exceptions to protect health & safety.”
  • Anatomy of an Officer-Involved Explosion: a Post-Mortem on LAPD’s E. 27th Street Fireworks Blast. A year ago, a councilmember co-authored a motion to shift $150mil from LAPD’s budget. A month ago, LAPD called everyone but his office to watch them detonate fireworks in his district. The botched operation rocked the city.”
  • Capitol Police Officers Sue Trump and Allies Over Election Lies and Jan. 6. The suit, which took a broad view of the riot’s origins, was the latest effort to hold former President Donald J. Trump accountable for the Capitol attack.”
  • Judge Refers ‘Kraken’ Lawyers For Potential ‘Disbarment’ In Scathing Opinion Over Big Lie.”
  • Niall Ferguson on why the end of America’s empire won’t be peaceful. As it leaves Afghanistan in chaos, America’s decline mirrors Britain’s a century ago. It may also invite wider conflict, warns a historian.”
  • Tweet—”The Home Office admitted that callers to its emergency Afghan aid hotline had been redirected to a washing machine repair company.”
  • Afghan all-girl robotics team members, journalists land in Mexico.”
  • Bernie Sanders’s Third Campaign. As chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders’s big-government message has found its moment.” Tweet—”Expanded Medicare to cover vision, hearing, dental. Paid family and medical leave. Free community college. Climate Corps to create good jobs and save the planet. This transformational budget plan is a major downpayment on America’s future.”
  • Evolution Deniers Are Finally a Minority in the U.S.. A recent study found that acceptance of evolution among Americans has increased, even among religious fundamentalists.”
  • Remote Work May Now Last for Two Years, Worrying Some Bosses. The longer that Covid-19 keeps people home, the harder it may be to get them back to offices; ‘There is no going back'”
  • Some Americans No Longer Believe in the Common Good. They now are thinking only of themselves.”—”Most of the blame should go to politicians who care more about stirring up fear to defeat their opponents than they do about people’s lives or the economy. And I blame anyone who intentionally spreads misinformation to further their own agenda.”
  • Watch “I Changed Astronomy Forever. He Won the Nobel Prize for It.”—”Growing up in a Quaker household, Jocelyn Bell Burnell was raised to believe that she had as much right to an education as anyone else. But as a girl in the 1940s in Northern Ireland, her enthusiasm for the sciences was met with hostility from teachers and male students. Undeterred, she went on to study radio astronomy at Glasgow University, where she was the only woman in many of her classes. In 1967, Burnell made a discovery that altered our perception of the universe. As a Ph.D. student at Cambridge University assisting the astronomer Anthony Hewish, she discovered pulsars — compact, spinning celestial objects that give off beams of radiation, like cosmic lighthouses. (A visualization of some early pulsar data is immortalized as the album art for Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures.’) But as Ben Proudfoot’s ‘The Silent Pulse of the Universe’ shows, the world wasn’t yet ready to accept that a breakthrough in astrophysics could have come from a young woman.”
  • Al Capone’s Possessions, Now for Sale, Show Two Sides of the Gangster. His granddaughters said they hoped an auction of his belongings would show that Capone was more than a ruthless mob boss. He was also a family man.”
  • The death of the job. What if paid work were no longer the centerpiece of American life?”—”Since about the 1940s, Americans have been encouraged to look to their jobs for nearly all of life’s necessities: a living wage, health insurance, and retirement benefits, as well as intangibles like friendship, identity, and a sense of purpose. But these benefits were never universal, and they became less and less common as the years went by.”
  • The end of fandom may be here“—”Louis C.K. recently kicked off a new standup tour with a sold-out pair of shows in New York. Against the backdrop of a giant “Sorry” sign, he delivered a set that — according to a reporter who was there — included gags about pedophilia, his penis, ‘gay jokes, Jew jokes, cancer jokes, a heavy helping of transgender jokes, and a sprinkling of additional race jokes.’ After reading about this, I’m the one who’s sorry. I’m sorry for spending so much time with his comedy in years past, for ignoring the media whispers about his behavior long before it was made public, for evangelizing to friends about how great he was. C.K.’s appalling turn into the king of the d-bags is enough to make me throw my hands up and say: Is it possible to be a fan of anyone or anything anymore?” “Perhaps fandom — defined as the attachment to the artist as creator — should no longer be the point.”
  • If it’s not made of people, what is even the point? “Are you ready to eat your delicious nutrient square? Yum, yum, yum 63 SquarEat asks a simple question: what if food were squares?”—”Slap bang in the middle of a Venn diagram with two circles labelled ‘sincere tech startups’ and ‘dystopian satires that are a little on the nose’ you will find SquarEat: a company that you would swear is a joke if you weren’t already familiar with how the simulation we’re all living in likes to collide fact and fiction. SquarEat was apparently born of a simple idea: what if you could eat squares? But boy oh boy does it deliver on that premise.”
  • Catholic church ‘on edge’ as Grindr data threatens to out Vatican officials. A Catholic news site has claimed that there are ‘at least 16’ Grindr users within the Vatican, sparking fears that high-ranking gay priests could soon be outed.”
  • Browse over one million newly digitized images from Yale’s Beinecke Library“—”Exciting news for the research-inclined: Yale University has launched a new digital collections platform, where users can view all digitized collections material from Yale’s Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library. Over time, other Yale Library digital collections will be moved there, but for now, the public can still browse over one million images. The interface allows users to search documents by subject, format, genre, resource type, language, creator, geography, and date; users can also browse highlights of the collections. If you don’t know where to start, how about the Langston Hughes Papers? Or the manuscript of Dante Alighieri’s Divina Commedia? Or the Gutenberg Bible? Or George Gershwin’s original Porgy and Bess score? Or “Anthony Comstock shuddering at the sight of an unshelled peanut”? Or James Baldwin’s poems, typed and corrected? Or, if you want to be meta about it, photos of Beinecke Library’s own construction?”
  • “A Decentralized Fantasy World. Nine Chronicles is a fully decentralized RPG powered by the players. Play, mine, govern together: this world is yours to keep.” “Utilizing groundbreaking technology, Nine Chronicles is a blockchain MMORPG powered by the players, set in a world that can never be shut down. Governed by the community, and supported by a complex economy where supply and demand are the greatest currency, Nine Chronicles invites you to aid the goddess Freya in her eternal struggle against an evil ravaging the land.”
  • Pumpers, Dumpers, and Shills: The Skycoin Saga. The cryptocurrency promised to change the world and make its users rich in the process. Then it began to fall apart.”
  • Watch “The Game. The Story of Hurling- Episode 1“—”To celebrate #HeritageWeek, we are delighted to be able to share the popular TV series ‘The Game’ with you. Over four episodes, The Game celebrates the skill (and art) of Hurling. Available for a limited time only.” Also, watch “Limerick are All-Ireland Hurling Champions.”
  • Watch “All you need to know about booleying“—”Eugene Costello tells us about the Irish tradition where rural folks would move with their animals to the hills for the summer.”
  • Watch “Popular Medieval Memes Explained“—”The hilarious explanations behind some of the popular medieval art memes you may have seen online without context.”
  • Watch “Everything Stops for Tea – Look at Life (1962)“—”A short featurette from 1962 on the British obsession with Tea.”
  • Like the Mandalorian’s volume using a game engine, but only using chroma key replacement not actual projection. “The secrets of the BBC’s Tokyo 2020 studio.”
  • Watch “Explaining White Privilege with D&D“—”A rough video explaining white privilege in terms of advantage and disadvantage from D&D.”
  • Tumblr—”How the fuck can there be anti vaccine “witches?” If you disagree with binding an invisible malignant entity into a single drop of potion that seals a subject’s blood against the full force of that very same entity’s curse then you are not and can never be a witch you’re just a karen who buys rocks”
  • I mean, finally some good news: Tweet—”Tucker Carlson: Being trans is like ‘saying you’re God, and that is satanic'”
  • Can’t it be both? “Attack of the giant rodents or class war? Argentina’s rich riled by new neighbors. Hordes of capybaras have taken up residence at a gated community, sparking a debate on the environment and inequality.”—”Nordelta is Argentina’s most well-known gated community: an enclave of spacious homes for the rich amid a dreamy landscape of lakes and streams north of Buenos Aires. But environmentalists question its very existence because it is built on the wetlands of the Paraná, the second most important river in South America after the Amazon. Now, however, nature is fighting back against Nordelta’s well-heeled residents.”
  • The Nevers on HBO starts out as just a kind of Victorian X-men, but by the time it gets to the mid-season finale the twist is wild. I won’t spoil it, except to say the Claudia Black makes an appearance in episode 6 and it is fantastic, both what she brings to it, and what it means for the show. “August, 1896. Victorian London is rocked to its foundations by a supernatural event which gives certain people — mostly women — abnormal abilities, from the wondrous to the disturbing. But no matter their particular ‘turns,’ all who belong to this new underclass are in grave danger. It falls to mysterious, quick-fisted widow Amalia True (Laura Donnelly) and brilliant young inventor Penance Adair (Ann Skelly) to protect and shelter these gifted ‘orphans.’ To do so, they will have to face the brutal forces determined to annihilate their kind. Part One of the first season of The Nevers is executive produced by Joss Whedon, Bernadette Caulfield, Ilene S. Landress, Doug Petrie, Jane Espenson and Philippa Goslett. Daniel S. Kaminsky co-executive produces. Part Two’s six episodes will premiere at a later date. Check back for more updates as they are revealed.” With Joss Whedon’s exit, due to reasons you may know about, I’m personally hoping that Jane Espenson is promoted to show-runner. I bet she’ll knock it out of the park. Also, after you’ve seen it, or if you don’t care about spoilers, read this: “Claudia Black on Her Surprise ‘The Nevers’ Role, the Joss Whedon Situation, and Breaking the Cycles of Trauma. ‘By starting to have these discussions, we are now starting to weave a culture that makes space for the radical changes that are necessary.'”

What have you been seeing around and thinking about lately? What have you seen that caught your eye? Thinking about something lately, or reading something interesting, or have a project you’re working on? Participate by tagging @[email protected] in the ‘verse with what you’ve got to share. Like, boost, or comment posts by that account to help curate the best stuff for everyone.

This post was possible because of support from generous ongoing Patrons. Patrons get access to Omnium Gatherum immediately. On the blog, this will be exclusive to Patrons for one year, after which I’ll make it publicly available to everyone so they can see what they’ve been missing.

It is worth recalling that what is currently called realistic was itself once ‘impossible’: the slew of privatizations that took place since the 1980s would have been unthinkable only a decade earlier, and the current political-economic landscape (with unions in abeyance, utilities and railways denationalized) could scarcely have been imagined in 1975. Conversely, what was once eminently possible is now deemed unrealistic.

Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is there no alternative? [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Fisher Capitalist Realism realistic was once impossible once eminently possible now deemed unrealistic

The Book of the Short Sun

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Book of the Short Sun by Gene Wolfe. There’s an omnibus Science Fiction Book Club [Amazon, Local Library] edition, but also the Book of the Short Sun [Amazon, Publisher] series.

Wolfe The Book of the Short Sun Science Fiction Book Club

Wolfe The Book of the Short Sun series

The three component volumes of The Book of the Short Sun make up the final segment of the twelve-volume Solar Cycle, which is thus divided into New, Long, and Short. The Short Sun books are a very direct sequel to the Book of the Long Sun, mostly carrying forward the same narrative voice, but shifting from the sort of objective chronicle of Patera Silk in the Long Sun “whorl” (i.e. world) to a more nakedly subjective first-person account of Silk’s onetime student Horn, who has emigrated to the Short Sun whorl of Blue.

The three Short Sun titles are On Blue’s Waters, In Green’s Jungles, and Return to the Whorl, and based on the early chapters of the first book it appears that they will have a straightforward adventure arc, in which Horn will pursue a quest for Patera Silk, leading him first across Blue, then to the neighboring whorl of Green, and finally back to the Long Sun whorl. They do sort of shake out that way, but the narrative structure is in fact considerably more complex, with the the greater portions of the second and third books being written in the form of journals and reminiscences after Horn’s return to Blue from his interplanetary excursions, and much concerned with that later time on Blue.

Two non-human races, evidently native to Green and Blue respectively, are crucial to the Short Sun arc. The vampiric inhumi of Green were introduced in the Long Sun books, and Horn develops ambivalent relationships with several of these, along with a mysterious rapport with the Neighbors or Vanished People of Blue.

Those who have read all of the foregoing series, and who have seen the transformative effects of The Urth of the New Sun on the narrative established in the earlier New Sun books, may not be surprised to find the Short Sun ringing similar changes on the Long Sun story. But it also accomplishes a circuit comprehending the entire Solar Cycle, as the benefits of Horn’s intimacy with non-human powers allow him eventually to obtain visionary contact with the “Red Sun whorl,” i.e. the Urth of the Old Sun that forms the initial setting of the larger series.

To arrive at the sense of a completed whole after twelve novels is no mean feat, but it is amply accomplished here. In Wolfe’s typical manner, many character motives only become clear in retrospect. There are strange transformations of identity and sympathy throughout the books. They are challenging texts, but very rewarding to read.

Omnium Gatherum: 25aug2021

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

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

  • Hundreds of US Museums Will Be Free on September 18“—”After a forced hiatus last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day will return on September 18, 2021, offering free admission to hundreds of museums nationwide.”
  • Josephine Baker to Be Honored With a Panthéon Burial. Ms. Baker will be the first Black woman to be entombed in the Panthéon in Paris, a symbolic move amid racial tensions in France.”
  • Apparently, yesterday was National Waffle Day? Okay. “Pass the syrup and enjoy a slice of history for National Waffle Day“—”The National Museum of American History’s Domestic Life collection includes waffle irons that date from the early 18th century through the mid-20th century. They provide a glimpse into American eating habits as well as innovations that shaped the domestic sphere. What better way to take advantage of National Waffle Day than to explore the tasty history of one of our most beloved breakfast treats? Today’s date is significant because it is the date of the first patent issued for a waffle iron. On August 24, 1869, the U.S. Patent Office issued a patent to Cornelius Swartwout of Troy, New York, for his design for an ‘Improvement in Waffle-Irons.'”
  • Theosophy and Race – I: Orientalists and Aryans.”—”It’s frequently asserted that Nazi racial ideology came directly out of nineteenth-century esoteric movements – in particular, the writings of H.P. Blavatsky and other members of the Theosophical Society. This is an over-simplification of a complex subject, and one worth examining in detail. In order to do this comprehensively, I will first take a look at some of the background context – the ideas about race that were circulating prior to the advent of the Theosophical Society. I’ll begin with a brief examination of the term “Aryan” and its tangled historical trajectory prior to its adoption by Theosophists, focusing on the influence of two orientalist scholars, Sir William Jones, and Max Müller.”
  • The Changing Meaning of ‘Mysticism’. People who don’t follow organized religion sometimes describe themselves as spiritual. But this idea isn’t a recent invention.”
  • Demand for water witches growing in California. CNBC’s Jane Wells joins The News with Shepard Smith to report on the growing demand for water witches among California farmers and vintners.”
  • Salem ‘witch’ to be pardoned thanks to US teens. A woman convicted of witchcraft during the 17th-century Salem trials is expected to be pardoned thanks to a group of campaigning US schoolchildren.”—”Elizabeth Johnson Jr. was sentenced to death in 1693 as mass hysteria about witches swept colonial Massachusetts. She was granted a reprieve and died in her late 70s in the 1740s but, unlike other convicted witches, has never been exonerated. When eighth graders at North Andover Middle School, near Salem, learned about her plight during their civics class, they decided to take action.”
  • Excommunicated Spanish ‘witch’ village turns curse into tourist cash. Embracing its strange past is a blessing for Trasmoz as thousands flock to its witchcraft attractions.”
  • Become a Living Murderer?“—”A week and a half or so back, the BBC released a report claiming to link a murder case and a terrorism case to a ‘Satanic occult forum.'” “However, the BBC report then dives into the classic moral panic trope suggesting that many, many people (besides the handful they identify) are being brainwashed by these forums and so forth. It’s a very small step from that to ‘we need to censor you online because you’re posting occult stuff on your blog and that’s dangerous.’ The previous Cameron administration in fact did attempt to censor ‘esoteric content’ from web users in the UK before the policy was struck down by the courts, so the notion is not even a little farfetched.” “But here in the United States, a lot of innocent lives were destroyed by the ‘Satanic panic’ in the 1980s and early 1990s. Interest in the occult was treated as grounds for criminal convictions, which is a great big load of steaming nonsense. There are a few criminals who are occultists, sure, but being an occultist doesn’t make you a criminal – a point that the Christians pushing the panic did their best to obscure. Let’s make sure we don’t let them do that again.”
  • A Pilgrimage To Meet Germany’s Last Beer-Brewing Nun“—”It seems that every town in the southern German state of Bavaria — no matter how small — has a brewery, and beer is brewed by all sorts of people. And before you judge farmer Zausinger for his morning beer run, consider who he bought it from: Sister Doris Engelhard, a 72-year-old Franciscan nun. She claims to be the world’s last nun brewmeister, and woe unto anyone who would argue that title. Sister Doris has strong opinions about her beer and when people should drink it. In short: Always, especially during the 40-day penance period leading up to Easter. ‘During Lent, fasting is difficult for me,’ she says. ‘Eating one meal a day is tough. But beer is liquid — it doesn’t count as food when you fast. A strong beer gives me strength!’ For 50 years, Sister Doris has been master brewer at the Mallersdorf Abbey brewery in northeastern Bavaria. The cloisters were founded in the 12th century and are home to 400 nuns. In the late 19th century, the nuns were caring for hundreds of poor children and they decided to open the brewery in 1881 to raise money to help fund their mission.”
  • ‘Our fascination is rooted in hope’: why we’re so obsessed with UFOs. In a JJ Abrams-produced docuseries, the possible existence of alien life is given a serious and exhaustive examination.” Watch “UFO” official trailer for series on Showtime—”UFO is a four-part docu-series from J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot and Glen Zipper exploring our fascination with unidentified flying objects, and what clandestine influence the American government, lucrative private companies and the military may have in shielding the truth behind extraterrestrial phenomena to further their own agendas. Watch new episodes on Sundays at 9/8c on SHOWTIME. All episodes now streaming.”
  • The Private and the Public. What we can learn from Wittgenstein.”—”Those living in repressive societies will be familiar with the distinction between what they feel able to say or write and what they must keep to themselves. And they will also know to distinguish between what is written or said and the private thoughts of its author. The distinction is, in fact, known to all of us even in so-called free societies. Considerations of prudence, politeness, propriety, shame or guilt make us refrain from giving expression to many things we think or feel or they get us, at least, to modify and tame our words. I may not tell my boss what exactly I think of him for reasons of prudence. I may not give voice to the pain I feel in order not to upset my companions. I may not comment aloud on a lecture in progress for reasons of propriety. I may not use the swear word that has come to my mind for reasons of politeness. But we also look at others and wonder whether any of those reasons have made them be silent about their inner feelings and thoughts or circumspect in expressing them. We describe the distinction that opens up in this way as one between the public and the private. Thoughts and feelings are private, we say, whereas words and actions are public. I want to talk here about Wittgenstein’s remarks on privacy in his Philosophical Investigations but will do so in a roundabout manner.”
  • From 2020: “Cagliostro’s Egyptian Rite.”—”Unfairly, history has been somewhat unsympathetic to a man regarded as an occult charlatan and a purported embarrassment to Freemasonry. His Egyptian Rite is in fact a beautiful work of Hermetic and Masonic philosophy, an introduction to higher alchemical teachings, blending what he believed were the three most honourable and noble arts in the world.” “Hermes left a message saying that: his teachings would remain hidden until those worthy of understanding would once more unravel the wisdom…perhaps that time has come?” Article by Philippa Lee aka Philippa Faulks, co-author with Robert LD Cooper of The Masonic Magician: The Life and Death of Count Cagliostro and His Egyptian Rite [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library], re-issued 2017—”The Life and Death of Count Cagliostro and his Egyptian Rite. Count Alessandro Cagliostro’s sincere belief in the magical powers, including immortality, conferred by his Egyptian Rite of Freemasonry won him fame, but made him dangerous enemies, too. His celebrated travels through the Middle East and the capitals of Europe ended abruptly in Rome in 1789, where he was arrested by the Inquisition and condemned to death for heresy. The Masonic Magician tells Cagliostro’s extraordinary story, complete with the first English translation of his Egyptian Rite of Freemasonry ever published. The authors examine the case made against him, that he was an impostor as well as a heretic, and find that the Roman Church, and history itself, have done him a terrible injustice. This engaging account, drawing on remarkable new documentary evidence, shows that the man condemned was a genuine visionary and true champion of Freemasonry. His teachings have much to reveal to us today, not just of the secrets of the movement, but of the mysterious hostility it continues to attract.”
  • Watch Anton LaVey: Into the Devil’s Den” and pre-order Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Carl Abrahamsson, foreword Mitch Horowitz, due Feb 2022—”An intimate exploration of the life, philosophy, and lasting occult influence of Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan. Includes never-before-published material from LaVey, including transcripts from his never-released “Hail Satan!” video. Shares in-depth interviews with intimate friends and collaborators, including LaVey’s partner Blanche Barton, his son Xerxes LaVey, and current heads of the Church of Satan Peter Gilmore and Peggy Nadramia. Provides inside accounts of the Church of Satan and activities at the Black House, personal stories and anecdotes from the very colorful life of the Black Pope, and firsthand explanations of key principles of LaVey’s philosophy. With his creation of the infamous Church of Satan in 1966 and his bestselling book The Satanic Bible in 1969, Anton Szandor LaVey (1930-1997) became a controversial celebrity who basked in the attention and even made a successful career out of it. But who was Anton LaVey behind the public persona that so easily provoked Christians and others intolerant of his views? One of privileged few who spent time with the “Black Pope” in the last decade of his life, Carl Abrahamsson met Anton LaVey in 1989, sparking an “infernally” empowering friendship. In this book Abrahamsson explores what LaVey was really about, where he came from, and how he shaped the esoteric landscape of the 1960s. The author shares in-depth interviews with the notorious Satanist’s intimate friends and collaborators, including LaVey’s partner Blanche Barton, his son Xerxes LaVey, current heads of the Church of Satan Peter Gilmore and Peggy Nadramia, occult filmmaker Kenneth Anger, LaVey’s personal secretary Margie Bauer, film collector Jack Stevenson, and film historian Jim Morton. Abrahamsson also shares never-before-published material from LaVey himself, including discussions between LaVey and Genesis P-Orridge and transcripts from LaVey’s never-released “Hail Satan!” video. Providing inside accounts of the Church of Satan and activities at the Black House, this intimate exploration of Anton LaVey reveals his ongoing role in the history of culture and magic.”
  • The Master and Margarita [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Mikhail Bulgakov, trans. Diana Burgin and Katherine Tiernan O’Connor, re-issue due September 2021—”The acclaimed, bestselling translation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s masterwork, an undisputed classic of Russian and world literature. An audacious revision of the stories of Faust and Pontius Pilate, The Master and Margarita is recognized as one of the essential classics of modern Russian literature. The novel’s vision of Soviet life in the 1930s is so ferociously accurate that it could not be published during its author’s lifetime and appeared only in a censored edition in the 1960s. Its truths are so enduring that its language has become part of the common Russian speech. Now The Overlook Press is reissuing this acclaimed translation in an all-new package. One hot spring, the devil arrives in Moscow, accompanied by a retinue that includes a beautiful naked witch and an immense talking black cat with a fondness for chess and vodka. The visitors quickly wreak havoc in a city that refuses to believe in either God or Satan. But they also bring peace to two unhappy Muscovites: one is the Master, a writer pilloried for daring to write a novel about Christ and Pontius Pilate; the other is Margarita, who loves the Master so deeply that she is willing to literally go to hell for him. What ensues is a novel of inexhaustible energy, humor, and philosophical depth, a work whose nuances splendidly emerge in Diana Burgin’s and Katherine Tiernan O’Connor’s superb English translation, with an afterword and extensive commentary by Ellendea Proffer.”
  • We All Know Columbus Didn’t Discover America—So How Did He Become a Symbol of Its Founding? Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on the Erasure of This Continent’s Original Inhabitants.” Excerpt from Not “A Nation of Immigrants”: Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy, and a History of Erasure and Exclusion [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz—”Debunks the pervasive and self-congratulatory myth that our country is proudly founded by and for immigrants, and urges readers to embrace a more complex and honest history of the United States. Whether in political debates or discussions about immigration around the kitchen table, many Americans, regardless of party affiliation, will say proudly that we are a nation of immigrants. In this bold new book, historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz asserts this ideology is harmful and dishonest because it serves to mask and diminish the US’s history of settler colonialism, genocide, white supremacy, slavery, and structural inequality, all of which we still grapple with today. She explains that the idea that we are living in a land of opportunity–founded and built by immigrants–was a convenient response by the ruling class and its brain trust to the 1960s demands for decolonialization, justice, reparations, and social equality. Moreover, Dunbar-Ortiz charges that this feel good–but inaccurate–story promotes a benign narrative of progress, obscuring that the country was founded in violence as a settler state, and imperialist since its inception. While some of us are immigrants or descendants of immigrants, others are descendants of white settlers who arrived as colonizers to displace those who were here since time immemorial, and still others are descendants of those who were kidnapped and forced here against their will. This paradigm shifting new book from the highly acclaimed author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States charges that we need to stop believing and perpetuating this simplistic and a historical idea and embrace the real (and often horrific) history of the United States.”
  • How Does the Biological Heart Have to Do With Our Emotions?” Excerpt from The Source of All Things: A Heart Surgeon’s Quest to Understand Our Most Mysterious Organ [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Reinhard Friedl with with Shirley Michaela Seul—”In the tradition of Henry Marsh’s Do No Harm, Reinhard Friedl’s The Source of All Things is a heart surgeon’s personal investigation of the human heart, moving from his riveting clinical experiences to a more poetic understanding of its workings. The heart is our most important organ. Yet despite that it has not changed since the appearance of Homo sapiens 300,000 years ago, it is also our most mysterious. In most human cultures, it is seen as the source of love, sympathy, joy, courage, strength and wisdom. What if the heart could answer questions neurosciences can’t begin to? Having witnessed the extraordinary complexity and unpredictability of human hearts in the operating theatre—each one individual, like a fingerprint—heart surgeon Reinhard Friedl looked again at this “primitive pump” to reconcile it with his experiences from thousands of heart operations. In this book, he presents findings from various scientific disciplines, such as secret connections of the heart and brain and their influence on emotions and consciousness. He reveals the miracle that is the heart that we speak about so often yet is strangely foreign to many human beings. Full of compelling patient stories, The Source of All Things ends with a plea: that we recognize the heart’s wisdom and adopt a more heart-centered way of living, leading to greater health and more joy.”
  • Ants use soil physics to excavate metre-long tunnels that last decades“—”Ant colonies can descend several metres underground, house millions of insects and last for decades, despite being made without the benefit of machinery and reinforcing material. The secrets of these impressive architectural structures are being revealed by three-dimensional X-ray imaging and computer simulations, and could be used to develop robotic mining machines.”
  • International Trio of Mars Orbiters Shows Small Dust Storms Help Dry Out the Red Planet.”—”By combining observations from three international spacecraft at Mars, scientists were able to show that regional dust storms play a huge role in drying out the Red Planet.”
  • Wearable Fitness Trackers Useful in Cancer Treatment, Study Finds. Chemotherapy is a powerful tool in the fight against cancer, but so is data, according to a new study led by USC computer science researchers.”
  • From the Tesseract dept: “This May Be a ‘Heisenberg Cube’ From the Nazis’ Failed Nuke Program, Scientists Say. The Nazis tried to develop nuclear weapons during WWII. This uranium cube at a Washington laboratory may have been part of this secret program.”
  • From 2019: “Neanderthals Produced Wooden Spears Advanced Enough to Kill at Distance. In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, a team of researchers from University College London and Nordic Sport (UK) Limited examined the performance of replicas of the 300,000-year-old Schöningen hand-thrown spears to identify whether javelin throwers could use them to hit a target at distance.”
  • Watch “Why the Moon?” from NASA—”The Artemis missions will build a community on the Moon, driving a new lunar economy and inspiring a new generation. Narrator Drew Barrymore and NASA team members explain why returning to the Moon is the natural next step in human exploration, and how the lessons learned from Artemis will pave the way to Mars and beyond. As NASA prepares to launch the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket on the uncrewed Artemis I mission around the Moon, we’ve already begun to take the next step.”
  • Fastest orbiting asteroid found in our solar system.”—”A newly discovered asteroid is sticking close to our sun — much closer than our own planet Earth. The asteroid, called 2021 PH27, completes an orbit around the sun every 113 days and comes within 12.4 million miles (20 million kilometers) of our star. That gives this space rock the distinction of having the shortest known orbital period for an asteroid — and only the second shortest orbit around the sun after Mercury, which takes 88 days to complete its orbital journey around our star.”
  • A Big Study About Honesty Turns Out To Be Based On Fake Data. Renowned psychologist Dan Ariely literally wrote the book on dishonesty. Now some are questioning whether the scientist himself is being dishonest.” Also “Famed Duke expert on human dishonesty suspected of fraud. Manipulated data in study of truth and behaviour threatens career of popular TED Talk star Dan Ariely.”—”The person who fabricated the data did not expect anyone to look at them with care.”
  • Open-Source Insulin: Biohackers Aiming for Distributed Production.” See Open Insulin Foundation.
  • Turtles all the way up. “How Big Can the Quantum World Be? Physicists Probe the Limits. By showing that even large objects can exhibit bizarre quantum behaviors, physicists hope to illuminate the mystery of quantum collapse, identify the quantum nature of gravity, and perhaps even make Schrödinger’s cat a reality.”—”These questions have been around throughout the century-long history of quantum theory. Now, for the first time, researchers are on the cusp of being able to answer them — and perhaps to point the way toward describing how gravity fits into the quantum world. ‘I’ve been working on macroscopic superpositions for 10 years,’ said the quantum theorist Oriol Romero-Isart of the University of Innsbruck in Austria, one of the leaders in the field, ‘but now we’re at a very timely moment.’ In the coming years, we might discover whether or not the world is quantum all the way up.”
  • Drinking sufficient water could prevent heart failure“—”‘Our study suggests that maintaining good hydration can prevent or at least slow down the changes within the heart that lead to heart failure,’ said study author Dr. Natalia Dmitrieva of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, US. ‘The findings indicate that we need to pay attention to the amount of fluid we consume every day and take action if we find that we drink too little.’ Recommendations on daily fluid intake vary from 1.6 to 2.1 litres for women and 2 to 3 litres for men. However, worldwide surveys have shown that many people do not meet even the lower ends of these ranges. Serum sodium is a precise measure of hydration status: when people drink less fluid, the concentration of serum sodium increases. The body then attempts to conserve water, activating processes known to contribute to the development of heart failure.”
  • New chemistry enables using existing technology to print stretchable, bendable circuits on artificial skin. Stanford researchers show how to print dense transistor arrays on skin-like materials to create stretchable circuits that flex with the body to perform applications yet to be imagined.”
  • OMG. Fuck. This is awful. “What’s causing the worst die-off of manatees? Starvation from Florida ecosystem collapse.”—”Partly because of the pandemic, necropsies were not done on two-thirds of the dead in Brevard. But by February, authorities had learned that winter cold was not the culprit. They knew from manatees’ contorted bodies and from finding nearly no seagrass in the lagoon they were dying of malnutrition. Widely beloved as irresistibly cuddly, manatees are among Florida’s strongest, hardiest creatures, able to heal from vicious propeller wounds. Death by starvation is as inhumane as any of the assaults Florida has inflicted on manatees. Caretakers said suffering lasted months. Many lost nearly half of their weight. While still alive, bones pierced thinning skin and, remarkable to veterinarians, heart, liver and other organs were liquifying. To survive, the animals consumed their fat and muscle. They lost buoyancy and, becoming too exhausted to swim, could no longer raise their heads for air.”
  • We thought we knew how our brains understand speech. We were wrong. New findings suggest that your brain hears sounds and words separately and simultaneously, instead of the long-standing assumption that the mind processes sound to turn it into familiar words.”
  • China eyes ‘ultra-large spacecraft’ spanning miles in US$2.3m crewed mission push. Science and technology ministry’s funding arm proposes five-year project on building ‘ultra-large spacecraft’ to aid exploration and stay in long-term orbit. Researchers will be tasked with minimising the weight of the spacecraft to reduce the number of launches and construction costs.”
  • What if data had funerals too? If we are about to become this digital civilisation as it has been commonly stated, and if funerals are considered by anthropologists one of the foundations of a civilisation, we may have to imagine funerals for our precious data. However, do we value our data enough to grant funerals for these once-beloved traces of our life when they are gone? And are they even gone? Data Funerals explore and question our relation to the fragility of data, be they personal or not, through a design fiction work. This series of speculative rituals and near-future scenarios explore how we could – today and tomorrow – predict, conjure, grieve, mourn, remember the disappearance of our data and the decay of their silicium bodies.”
  • Are You Ready for Sentient Disney Robots? Some of the animatronics at Disney’s parks have been doing their herky-jerky thing since the Nixon administration. The company knows that nostalgia won’t cut it with today’s children.”
  • How Apple will (eventually) replace the iPhone. Here’s what will replace the iPhone (eventually)”—”Which raises the question: what happens after the smartphone? Every big tech company in the world—well, the smart ones at least—has got to be looking down the road to figure out where our digital future is headed, and Apple’s no exception.” “As elegant as the design of the iPhone is, at the end of the day it’s a box that sits in your pocket or that you hold in your hand, and there remains something fundamentally clunky about bestowing all this significance to an oblong solid of glass and steel. And, if there’s one thing that Apple just can’t seem to resist, it’s trying to push our technological devices to become even more elegant.
  • Facebook, Fearing Public Outcry, Shelved Earlier Report on Popular Posts. The company praised itself this week for being ‘the most transparent platform on the internet.'” Also “Facebook says post that cast doubt on covid-19 vaccine was most popular on the platform from January through March. The social-media platform’s Saturday evening acknowledgment comes after a lengthy internal debate over whether to share data.” Tweet—”I’ve long compared Facebook to Big Tobacco and here’s the latest parallel: Facebook knew internally that it was facilitating the deaths of thousands of people through misinformation, and not only did nothing about it, but withheld its knowledge from public.”
  • Terms of Service. Inside Social Media’s War on Sex Workers.”
  • Tweet—”Thank you to everyone for making your voices heard. We have secured assurances necessary to support our diverse creator community and have suspended the planned October 1 policy change. OnlyFans stands for inclusion and we will continue to provide a home for all creators.” Tweet—”As damage control goes this is weak. Once you destroy your customers’ trust, you’re not getting it back that easy.” Tweet—”Ok but you’re back to calling us creators. You can call us sex workers. Or is this your subtle way of going back to ignoring us”. Tweet—”Waitresses and therapists are actually the outermost ring of sexwork” Also tweet—”Two years ago, @Mastercard told me they wouldn’t shut down white supremacist orgs because it’s not their place to stop transactions unless they’re illegal. (This is the transcript from the 2019 annual shareholder meeting.)” Also tweet—”According to trafficking survivor @RoseKalemba, her one-time friend @LailaMickelwait, public face of Exodus Cry, one of the biggest antiporn ministries, has been secretly storing, sharing and — when expedient — uploading CSAM abuse material onto platforms herself.” Tweet—”At first, the anti-trafficking movement felt like a lifeline. Hardly anyone had ever cared about what I went through before. But it quickly became yet another thing that would traumatize me. This was a very painful piece to write. Please share, thank you.” Also thread—”I know a lot of you feel hopeless right now, but I watching this unfold, I want to contextualize a few things about the battle ahead. #1 Exodus Cry and NCOSE are scrambling: 95% of coverage about OnlyFans supports SWers. They didn’t expect this, and now want to shift blame. 1/” “One last point: only sex workers could have done this! Not studios, not OnlyFans, not me. Nobody cares about a billion dollar company. But they do care about every day people fighting to survive — and thrive — in a harsh world. Never forget how powerful you are.” Thread—”there are something like 60,000 coal miners in the US, and we hear endlessly about their jobs. with up to 2 million content creators impacted by new MasterCard pushed policy on OnlyFans, literally no mainstream paper I’ve looked at seems to have front paged this development.” Tweet—”I don’t want to be an alarmist but this is something we should all start preparing for. The day after PornHub went down the antis started talking about OnlyFans. Now that OnlyFans has bowed to their whims they are setting their sights on Twitter.” Tweet—”This should concern everyone. This is an easy way to expand surveillance by the state. She keeps treating platforms as the problem instead of the abusers. Why? She wants to keep marginalizing the people with the least power, isolating them, & INCREASING vulnerability to violence.” Tweet—”Laila and Exodus Cry make millions off of these harmful campaigns. They won’t stop; it’s too good for their pockets. On top of that, they don’t help survivors. Donors think their money is going to survivors but that doesn’t seem to be the case.”
  • Ultra-Vaxxed Israel’s Crisis Is a Dire Warning to America. ‘I don’t want to frighten you,’ Israel’s COVID czar Dr. Salman Zarka told parliament this week. ‘But… unfortunately, the numbers don’t lie.'”
  • Why we’re happy hobbits in Jacinda’s ‘mysterious socialist hermit kingdom’. Some British media have been mocking New Zealand for going into Covid lockdown over one case, but it’s hard to find downsides to the approach.”—”The New Zealand lockdowns are effective: we’ve had just 26 people die of Covid, a number which – and I cannot stress this enough – is very different from more than 130,000, the current UK death tally.”
  • From the Neologism dept: “Tweet—”A lot of the commentary around Australia’s “opening up” takes it as a binary: we’re either open or we’re closed. But the plan everyone is arguing about foresees a transition. There is a significant period of time when we can expect to be both closed and open i.e, clopen.”
  • Pandemic Paralysis“—”I’m continually appalled by how easily people move from ‘the consequences of doing X are uncertain’ to ‘X must be banned!’, even when there would seem every reason to expect that X actually has high expected value and ought to be encouraged, if anything.”
  • Costa Ricans Live Longer Than Us. What’s the Secret? We’ve starved our public-health sector. The Costa Rica model demonstrates what happens when you put it first.”
  • Dead Line.Future corporate profits are officially more important than life on Earth.”—”The human tragedy is that there is no connection between what we know and what we do. Almost everyone is now at least vaguely aware that we face the greatest catastrophe our species has ever confronted. Yet scarcely anyone alters their behaviour in response: above all, their driving, flying and consumption of meat and dairy.” “No government, even the most progressive, is yet prepared to contemplate the transformation we need: a global programme that places the survival of humanity and the rest of life on Earth above all other issues. We need not just new policy, but a new ethics. We need to close the gap between knowing and doing. But this conversation has scarcely begun.”
  • COVID-19 outbreak among Cyber Ninjas staff delays delivery of full Arizona Senate audit.”
  • Here is how Trump is trying to raise cash as he faces a mountain of debt“—”As Peyser notes, Trump has been keeping busy creating cash streams that could help him lighten his load — many involving raising funds from his rabid supporters. ‘Trump is still soliciting political donations, although it’s unclear what he needs the money for,’ she wrote, pointing to his ‘Save America Joint Fundraising Committee’ website that allows donations and automatically enrolls the contributor into a recurring donation loop, despite reports that the campaign has been forced to refund over $122 million to those ‘who unwittingly checked the box.’ ‘Whatever Trump is up to, it seems to be working; as of last month, he had a war chest of more than $100 million,’ Peyser wrote. ‘Financial Times reported that this money was raised via multiple fundraising vehicles, ‘some left over from his 2020 presidential campaign, others newly launched, making it difficult to keep track of the money Trump has raised and what he is able to use it for.””
  • GOP Pays Rudy Giuliani Associates Wrapped Up in Ukraine Probe. The Republican National Committee recently paid $20,000 to DiGenova & Toensing LLP, a law firm helmed by two GOP insiders with alleged ties to Giuliani’s Ukrainian dealings.”
  • Tweet—This clip of a security control room at Iran’s most notorious prison being shut down by hackers is straight out of a movie. Hackers are now leaking stolen CCTV from across the Evin prison to highlight the abuse of inmates, per @AP.” “Iran official acknowledges videos of Evin prison abuse real.”
  • Andrew Cuomo Was Only Ever Good at Cruel Manipulation. And the very thing he and his crew delighted in so much—dehumanizing others for their own advancement and enjoyment—is the thing that brought them down.”
  • Namaste nationalism: Yoga, whiteness and extremism on Jan. 6. Liberal v. conservative divisions are a flawed way to understand what happened at the Capitol.”—”We should not be surprised to find so many self-described yogis among the Capitol rioters. Yoga in the U.S. is intertwined with wealth, whiteness, and white supremacy, perhaps a shock to many of its casual practitioners.”
  • Federal Defense Contractors Resume Donations To Republicans Who Rejected Democracy. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon all vowed to halt political contributions after the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Welp!”
  • Makin’ sure she can’t be compelled to testify? “Matt Gaetz, Republican in sex-trafficking investigation, marries in California. Florida congressman denies paying for sex with 17-year-old. Former Rand Paul staffer presides over surprise ceremony.”
  • Tweet—”Magna Carta is (cod) Latin and is old and it sounds impressive, like one of those spells in a certain type of fantasy fiction. ‘I magna carta thee thus!’ But it is, like those spells, a form of magical thinking.” Also “The last Edinburgh Castle siege in 1745 that also ended in total failure. When a group of protestors tried to “seize the castle” on Tuesday night, they weren’t the first to try – or fail. The last attempt was in 1745, when the Jacobite army took the city, but not the castle.”
  • Tweet—”Those who make their arguments with bombs and missiles are ‘moderates’ and ‘centrists’; those who oppose them with words are ‘extremists’. The inconvenient fact that the ‘extremists’ were right and the ‘centrists’ were wrong is today being strenuously forgotten.”
  • Wait. Whut?! “CIA director met Taliban leader in Afghanistan on Monday -sources.”
  • Bush, Obama, Trump, Biden: How four presidents created today’s Afghanistan mess.”
  • Podcast The Philosopher & The News episode “Darrel Moellendorf & Ending War Justly.”—”Is putting an end to war always the just thing to do? Should the costs and sacrifices suffered during a war determine whether the war should continue or end? Or should a war only end when its original aims have been achieved?”
  • Tweet (now hidden, but gander at the responses)—”More companies should just buy a bunch of land somewhere and build company towns. Pay people to move five minutes from the office. Reap the employee satisfaction”. Tweet—”*spits coffee in Western Pennsylvanian*” Tweet—”My company town would be okay because it’s about coding instead of coal extraction”.
  • Who Was Typhoid Mary? Harvard Professor Martin Kulldorff’s Disease Tweet Raises Eyebrows.”—”On Tuesday, Martin Kulldorff, a Harvard Medical School professor who specializes in disease surveillance and outbreaks, expressed concern about people being blamed for infecting others. He tweeted: ‘For thousands of years, disease pathogens have spread from person to person. Never before have carriers been blamed for infecting the next sick person. That is a very dangerous ideology.'” “As of Wednesday morning the tweet had gained thousands of likes and retweets and over 5,000 replies. Many Twitter users criticized Kulldorff’s claim that individuals had never before been blamed for spreading disease and pointed to the case of Typhoid Mary as an example.” Tweet—”Except for typhoid mary, IV drug users, lepers, gay men, basically all of colonial history, typhus in NY in 1892, Venice in 1370, sex worker raids in 1917, and well… like all of human history”. Tweet—”Utterly maniacal gaslighting here. From Typhoid Mary to covering your goddamn mouth when you cough and sneeze to wearing a condom when you bone, minimizing the spread of disease has always been the responsibility of the potential carrier.”
  • Tweet—”The quality public space found within this small French seaside town of 2,300 people exceeds that of most American cities of 230,000. Count the cars to find out why…” Tweet—”People think small European towns like this are charming because of the history or the architecture, but it’s like 95% because they don’t allow cars.”
  • Maine Will Make Companies Pay for Recycling. Here’s How It Works. The law aims to take the cost burden of recycling away from taxpayers. One environmental advocate said the change could be ‘transformative.'”
  • Clark Atlanta University, HBCUs across the country clear student balances and cancel debt with federal funds“—”The Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted the finances of many Black Americans, including student loan borrowers. Black college graduates owe an average of $25,000 more in student loan debt than white college grads, and over 50% of Black borrowers say their net worth is less than what they owe on student loans. Now, a number of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are stepping in to help alleviate that financial burden. With federal funding and private donations, these schools are wiping out current students’ account balances — including tuition and fees — and giving them a fresh start.”
  • ‘Pain compliance’: Video shows trooper pummeling Black man.”—”Graphic body camera video kept secret for more than two years shows a Louisiana State Police trooper pummeling a Black motorist 18 times with a flashlight — an attack the trooper defended as ‘pain compliance.’ ‘I’m not resisting! I’m not resisting!’ Aaron Larry Bowman can be heard screaming between blows on the footage obtained by The Associated Press. The May 2019 beating following a traffic stop left him with a broken jaw, three broken ribs, a broken wrist and a gash to his head that required six staples to close.”
  • Seniors step in to fill missing shifts. Faced with a shortage of workers, a small army of seniors in Sechelt is volunteering to cover shifts at restaurants and other small businesses, rather than see them close their doors because of a lack of workers. Aaron McArthur reports.” Tweet—”Young People refuse to work for slap in the face wages… So old people work for free so that businesses don’t learn that they have to pay living wages… Imagine offering to work for free for an organization who is going out of business because they won’t pay a living wage…”
  • UK food firms beg ministers to let them use prisoners to ease labour shortages. Meat processors and others say they must have more day release workers as they cannot find enough staff.”
  • Tiffany’s Wants You To Think They Inspired a Blue Basquiat Painting“—”Tiffany & Co.’s new marketing campaign, featuring Beyoncé and Jay-Z in front of a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, truly has something for everyone. Fans of the Carters are celebrating the duo’s first appearance together in an ad, while others, perhaps unaware of the advanced stage of capitalism we are in, are horrified that a multibillion-dollar luxury retailer would use the work of a once-fringe artist to sell diamonds. And still, others have been captivated by the painting itself: ‘Equals Pi’ (1982), a canvas covered in Basquiat’s idiosyncratic, seemingly improvisational mix of scribbled texts, motifs, and diagrams, selected by Tiffany for its distinctive robin egg-hued ground reminiscent of the company’s signature ‘Tiffany Blue.'” “The campaign has become mired in controversy, not least because of the company’s claims that it reflects its ‘continued support towards underrepresented communities.'” “Perhaps most contentious, however, has been Tiffany’s own language around ‘Equals Pi’ and its acquisition and marketing of the work on the basis of what may be a chromatic coincidence.” “Amid the Twitter storm, many have rightly noted that Black celebrities, including Beyoncé and Jay-Z, are disproportionately scrutinized for their participation in projects like the Tiffany ad campaign — and that the mass commercialization of Basquiat’s art long preceded this moment.”
  • First full image of ‘new’ Vermeer with uncovered Cupid released by Dresden museum. Drastically altered composition of Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window can now be seen in all its glory ahead of major exhibition.”—”When the discovery was announced to the public in 2019, the senior conservator Uta Neidhardt said that it was ‘the most sensational experience of my career’. She added: ‘It makes it a different painting.’ The layer of overpaint was meticulously removed using a scalpel under a microscope, revealing the startlingly altered composition.” Also Instagram.
  • No Thanks to the Academy. Why isn’t there an English Academy? Blame the plague.”—”The beneficiaries of hundreds of years of (often contentious and politicized) standardization, Anglophones largely agree—in principle, if not in practice—about how to spell the words of the English language. Present-day uniformity notwithstanding, the standardization of English was achieved piecemeal, reflecting no central authority or state-sponsored arbiter of linguistic correctness. While the French, Spanish, and Italian languages are each nominally regulated by a national academy of writers, academics, and civil servants, there is, of course, no English Academy.”
  • Elite Education“—”In an ideal society, I have suggested, there would be no elite colleges, or at least not in their current form. There might well be highly selective institutions devoted to fostering intellectual excellence, just as there might well be highly selective institutions devoted to fostering musical or sporting excellence. But an ideal society would be a just society, and a just society would manifest equal concern for each of its young adults; and although equal concern would not require an exactly equal distribution of resources, departures from equal distribution would have to be justified.” “The political conscience of egalitarians who teach at elite colleges will therefore always be troubled. For among the biggest losers from the democratization of higher education would be people like me who teach at places like Swarthmore and who would be shorn, in the brave new world, of the privilege of closely tending to the intellectual growth of the extraordinarily talented. In the end, then, the tension between the goal of rigorous education and the goal of political progress that besets Swarthmore and similar colleges—the tension that so frequently permeates faculty meetings, however implicitly—is not simply the product of a fudge designed to keep the peace between professors of different persuasions. It is a tension inscribed in the very heart of contemporary academic life and, more generally, in the circumstances of bourgeois life, which enables forms of individual development that are hard to fully endorse yet quite impossible to regret.”
  • The Real College Scandal“—”There’s nothing in your DNA that makes you a philosopher, nor is there some regimen you can run through to transform yourself into one. The closest we have come to devising a system for attuning a person to the intellectual life is to surround her with others aiming at the same thing for as long as the relevant parties can continue to afford it, and hope for the best.” “Universities, especially elite universities, stand as our symbols of the idea of stable intellectual community. For this reason, they also symbolize the problem of the legitimate distribution of intellectual goods—through the course of our lives as well as over a society—and its intractability. Our society has many questions and uncertainties about the just and correct manner of distributing wealth, or health care, or honor, or political power; but these difficulties seem insignificant in comparison to the gaping chasm of total cluelessness we have when it comes to the problem of distributing the very highest goods of all—the intellectual ones.”
  • Why Poet Amanda Gorman Wants to Be President. The 23-year-old believes in the political power of verse, and she’s leaning into her literary talents: ‘I don’t have to change who I am to be a leader.'”
  • National security law: Hong Kong censors told to ban films that breach Beijing-imposed legislation. Under new guidelines, censors must determine whether films support or promote acts of subversion, secession, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces. But some industry figures warn creativity could suffer in industry once known as ‘Hollywood of the Far East’.” Tweet—”Like Hong Kong movies? Buy the blu rays asap. China just passed a law allowing them to retroactively censor Hong Kong films. I’d imagine Stephen Chow’s FROM BEIJING WITH LOVE and anything by Johnnie To and Peng Ho-cheung to come off the market soonish.”
  • Tweet—”I think it is time where God is separating the sheep from the goats….I’m a goat. Because I am not a sheep. I’m not doing what they tell me to do. I’m fighting against it (the vaccine).” Um. Wait. Whuut? I’m not now, nor have I ever been christian, and even I know. But, sure, the metaphor of unvaccinated being goats, separated for sacrifice … is actually kinda darkly on point? Also: Sheep Go To Heaven by Cake—”Sheep go to heaven. Goats go to hell. Sheep go to heaven. Goats go to hell.”
  • “Help! Help! I’m being repressed!” “Monty Python star John Cleese to explore cancel culture in new Channel 4 documentary. John Cleese: Cancel Me will see the comedian ask if it is possible to create comedy without causing offence.” Comments. Also “Taboo: Comedy hasn’t lost its edge yet. Is comedy threatened as people get increasingly sensitive to having their feelings hurt? No offence, but Robin Ince is not convinced.”—”But when you are stepping over the line, are you stepping forwards or backwards? Are you really dressing up reactionary and regressive politics as rebellion? Are you punching down or up?”
  • Why Won’t Anyone Help Me in This Sex Shop?. At 83, and legally blind, I could use some assistance.”
  • Baby on cover of ‘Nevermind’ sues Nirvana alleging child pornography. Spencer Elden, who was photographed nude as an infant and appears on the cover of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album, is suing the band over the image. In the filing, Elden’s lawyer claims the image constitutes child pornography, violating federal laws. Elden is seeking $150,000 in damages from each of the 15 defendants named in the suit.” Tweet—”If the judge doesn’t open the hearing by turning to his counsel and saying ‘here we are now, entertain us’ then what is the point.”
  • FFS, another neologism: polywork. “The Job Juggle: Gen Z and millennial employees embrace the concept of ‘Polywork’.” Also “Polyworking – the new job trend graduates are gunning for. THERE is a growing rejection among millennials and gen Z’s as they attempt to move away from traditional office jobs and into polyworking.” Tweet—”They’ve come up with a new word for desperately working multiple jobs just to be able to afford rent.”
  • Cyberpunk, The Witcher Look Fantastic Tilt-Shifted. Everything looks a lot more relaxing when you zoom out and slow down.”
  • From the Sabbatical dept: “The Dacha Is Russia’s Summer Cure For Urban Life.”—”In the Russian imagination, the dacha occupies a near mythical place. Once the reserve of the landed nobility, the summer house gained popularity with urban professionals in the late 19th century; in the Soviet era the dacha became available to everyone, from writers to factory workers. Nowadays, a dacha can be anything from a two-room shack to an oligarch’s imitation French chateau. Every summer, Russian cities empty out as millions of people escape stuffy, cramped apartments to reconnect with their roots in the countryside.”
  • Crowdfunding effort from April: “Badass Patches for READERS and LIBRARY People. Do you admire biker jackets but prefer reading to the open road? These patches from the Library Comic team are for you.” Also Library Comic Store.
  • Tweet—”We may end up with one Jeopardy! host in Avignon and one Jeopardy! host in Rome.”
  • Tweet—”Sad to hear we’ve lost Bertrand Russell at the age of 148 today. His work on philosophy and activism on nuclear issues was admirable. But it as the drummer of the Rolling Stones (under the stage name “Charlie Watts”) that he will be best remembered.”

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Daphne and Sylvester want to prove that their love is real. They want to prove that their love is real to the whole world. That is why they are currently having sexual intercourse in the middle of their local shopping centre on a Saturday afternoon.

Mike Russell, Nothing Is Strange [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Russell Nothing is Strange prove love real whole world currently sexual intercourse middle shopping centre

Women as Portrayed in Orientalist Painting

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Women as Portrayed in Orientalist Painting [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Lynne Thornton.

Thornton Women as Portrayed in Orientalist Painting

This book is much more like what I had hoped for in my disappointed reading of Idols of Perversity, Bram Dijkstra’s feminist study of representations of women in fin-de-siècle culture. Despite the small page format of this ACR PocheCouleur Orientalists series, the illustrations are in color throughout, and they embrace a terrific range of paintings organized by theme. It appears that Orientalist art expert Lynne Thornton’s text was written with free reference to the whole universe of such works, and she has been to some trouble to acquire rights to very many of them. The optimal reading technique here requires regular reference to the index of illustrations at the back of the book, in order to find works and artists mentioned while reading Thornton’s characterizations of them.

Thornton’s account treats both the realities and the European perceptions of various institutions in the 19th-century Muslim world, including the harem, the hammam (i.e. public bath), and slavery. She often has recourse to the relevant commentary of European women from the period, such as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Lady Anne Blunt, Lady Duff Gordon, and Mabel Bent.

Although this book is genuinely a work of art history and aesthetic criticism, rather than the polemic of Dijkstra’s book mentioned above, Thornton is culturally astute and incisive. She offers insightful comments regarding the projection of European sensibilities in 19th-century depictions of the Near East and North Africa (the “Orient” in question for these Orientalist painters). For example, “It is, however, extremely rare to find an Orientalist painting in which the woman is sexually satisfied” (122). This remark coordinates with others to demonstrate that despite the sometimes salacious exoticism of the whole Orientalist art project, moral and sexual license were if anything more inhibited than in other subject matter of the period, but similarly circumscribed by masculine appetites.

The art images in the book are very well reproduced on heavy glossy paper, representing a comprehensive survey of the field indicated in the title.