Monthly Archives: September 2021


Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Descent [Amazon, Bookshop UK, Publisher, Local Library] by Ken MacLeod.

MacLeod Descent

This 2014 novel is the most recent Ken MacLeod book I’ve read, and it has some near-future optimism that has become dismayingly dated in the last seven years of climate catastrophe and global pandemic. But it’s not set in any particular year, and I guess the sort of sanguine pivot away from Neoliberal hell that it depicts is still imaginable.

The story is set firmly in MacLeod’s own Scotland throughout, and its central plotline involves a sort of phildickian epistemological struggle with ufology. It is recounted by the protagonist Ryan Sinclair, who begins (after telling of a recurrent dream) with his teenage close encounter. The book also involves a troubled love triangle of the sort that MacLeod has treated before in The Stone Canal, although this one is squared off more neatly.

The Orbit first edition hardcover I read made it seem like a much bigger book than it actually is, with heavy page stock and a generously-sized typeface. It’s a fast read, and entertaining throughout.

Omnium Gatherum: 29sept2021

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

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

  • Last 48 hours: “Tales From When I Had A Face. A modern fairy-tale about death, loss, and finding redemption in the strangest places.”—”Tales From When I Had A Face is a part of an ongoing fictional universe, The Fallen Cycle mythos, created by James Curcio, and featuring a number of repeat collaborators across projects.” James Curcio was a participant in the old Key 23 forum. This includes illustrations by Hermetic Library Anthology Artist P Emerson Williams, who was also a participant in Key 23.
  • Just 13 days to go: The Call of Cthulhu Chocolate Bar. H. P. Lovecraft-inspired chocolate bar. Nori seaweed, ginger spice, & candied ginger in dark chocolate. Handmade & bean-to-bar.” There’s actually 12 different book-flavours to select from in this campaign.
  • Call For Papers: Religion in Spider-Man Comics – A Textual Look at our Favorite Web-Slinger. Volume Editor: George Tsakiridis, PhD. Abstract and CV Due: October 1, 2021. Initial Final Paper Due: March 1, 2022. There are few comic book heroes that rise to the level of Spider-Man. He is the foundation for most of the Marvel Universe and perhaps is only rivaled by Batman in popularity over the past twenty years. There are few more deserving characters for a deeper dive into religion and comic books than our favorite web-slinger. Beyond the popularity, Spidey, as he is affectionately called, has layers of religious depth that invite us to further evaluation. From his beginnings rooted in Stan Lee’s Judaism to his dual-nature parallel in Christianity to the ethical foundations of great power bringing great responsibility, Spider-Man is a perfect candidate for the Religion and Comic Books series by Claremont Press.”
  • Who is Proclus? What is late Neoplatonism?
  • Creatures of the Popol Vuh. For the K’iche’ Mayans, animals were not lower beings but neighbours, alter egos and a way to communicate with the gods.”
  • Why I now believe parapsychology is a science not a pseudoscience.”
  • Apparently there was a Crowley reference, and a hilarious HR video, in What We Do In The Shadows, s03e05, “The Chamber of Judgement”—”Justice is served, both vampirically and also in small claims court.”
  • Watch—”Aiwass – Man As God“—”‘Man As God’ is the featured first single from Wayward Gods, the debut album from one man band Aiwass.” “November 5th release” With confirmed Thoth tarot deck sightings.
  • Here’s How Some Black Moors Are Taking Over Homes, Changing Locks Illegally“—”Across the country, sovereign citizens have tied up court dockets and filed false lawsuits, fake deeds, liens, and other documents in a ploy known as paper terrorism, according to government experts and watchdog organizations. Ninti El-Bey, who claimed to be a sovereign citizen, was accused of taking over property that wasn’t hers in Charlotte, North Carolina. She argued that she was the rightful owner and had paperwork to prove it. Turns out the home was in foreclosure and is owned by a bank, according to Mecklenburg County property records. Sovereign citizens see themselves as answerable only to “their particular interpretations of the common law and as not subject to any government statutes or proceeding,” according to the American Bar Association Journal. They tend to plaster the court system with bogus legal filings as part of financial gain scams. Authorities complain that the same scenario is being played out by sovereign citizens nationwide. One sovereign organization is the Moorish Science Temple of America, and members call themselves Moors.”
  • Magister Officiorum by Julio Cesar Ody, digital and physical paperback Bibliothèque Rouge editions available—”With Magister Officiorum, Ody has produced an essential text for those who want to practice Solomonic magic. The result of patient and extensive magical work, this is a record of attainment informed by the Western magical tradition, Espiritismo and Obeah. The subjects covered in this study include: the place of evocation, the magical circle and the book, the ritual tools and regalia, including the black handled knife, the brazen vessel, robes, and the pentagonal and hexagonal figures. Also addressed is ritual purity, and the necessity of authority in the art of commanding spirits. Ody gives clear explanations of the process of ritual and the methods by which to ensure success in evocation – understood as a physical interaction between magician and spirit. Further, he demonstrates principles of magical working that are not explicitly given in the typically terse instructions of the grimoires. Also given is a method for the obtaining of a key to be used in the eventual binding of a King; how to bottle spirits; a working with the vessel and skull; and a rite for obtaining a patron spirit under the auspices of Lucifer. The rites given are suitable for solo practice and group workings, notably using the model of the séance (black table spiritism) in order to establish spirit cults. As a result the text will be of aid to both novitiates and experienced practitioners alike. Magister Officiorum gives accounts of spirit workings, including Lucifer, Buné and Gemon, and includes a suggestive catalogue of spirit contacts with Acham, Paymon, Astaroth, Frimost and Malphas that demonstrate the author’s aptitude in the work.”
  • Queer Qabala: Nonbinary, Genderfluid, Omnisexual Mysticism & Magick [Amazon, Local Library] by Enfys J Book, foreword by Christopher Penczak, due June 2022—”A fresh look at Hermetic Qabala, this book highlights the inherent queer and non-binary nature of this powerful mystical system as well as the innate inclusivity of its practice. Author Enfys J. Book explains the basics of Qabala in an easy-to-understand way, making it a powerful spiritual tool for any practitioner to enjoy. While walking you through the Tree of Life and its ten spheres (Sephiroth), Enfys offers a variety of pathworkings, exercises, and spells to deepen your understanding. Through these magickal workings and the modernization of outdated language, this book encourages all readers to expand their viewpoint of Qabala. It welcomes queer people to see themselves in this esoteric practice and invites teachers to update their lesson plans by making them friendlier and more accessible to all.”
  • The Witch’s Name: Crafting Identities of Magical Power [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Storm Faerywolf—”The magical name is one of the most powerful tools in Witchcraft. It’s a spell you cast each time you use it, and your moniker helps transform you into the kind of Witch you want to be. With meditation, rituals, journaling, and magic, The Witch’s Name helps you explore your own strengths and weaknesses as you create a magical persona, that part of your deep self that is the root of your magical power. Storm Faerywolf is the perfect guide through the history and mythology of magical names, sharing fascinating ideas for how animals, plants, astrology, and tarot can help you form your magical identity. You will also learn how to engage numerology and ritual practices to claim the name of your choosing more fully. These tips and techniques will support the naming of a group or coven as well. With twenty-four hands-on exercises and rituals for awakening your spirit, cultivating the spiritual impact of your dreams, and developing a unique and powerful personal emblem, this book supports and inspires you to step more fully into our true magical self.”
  • The Satyr’s Kiss: Queer Men, Sex Magic & Modern Witchcraft [Amazon, Local Library] by Storm Faerywolf, foreword by Christopher Penczak—”This practical guide to Witchcraft both embraces and celebrates queer men through an impressive collection of spells, rituals, and exercises. The Satyr’s Kiss empowers everyone who identifies as male to take his rightful place at the center of his own universe, honoring the unique qualities that set him apart from the mainstream. Emphasizing the importance of sexuality in Witchcraft, this book features a variety of methods for celebrating sex in a magical way. Join Storm Faerywolf on a queer-centered exploration of magical philosophy, history, rites of passage, and sex magic. He provides an abundance of spells that aid everything from communication and confidence to romance and sexual protection. This book also showcases rituals and exercises related to initiation, gender polarity, sex with spirits, celebrating pride, and more.”
  • Christian Anarchist: Ammon Hennacy, A Life on the Catholic Left [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by William Marling, due Jan 2022—”A biography of a remarkable figure, whose politics prefigured today’s social justice, ecology, and gender equality movements. Ammon Hennacy was arrested over thirty times for opposing US entry in World War 1. Later, when he refused to pay taxes that support war, he lost his wife and daughters, and then his job. For protesting the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he was hounded by the IRS and driven to migrant labor in the fields of the West. He had a romance with Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker, who called him a “prophet and a peasant.” He helped the homeless on the Bowery, founded the Joe Hill House of Hospitality in Salt Lake City, and protested the US development of nuclear missiles, becoming in the process one of the most celebrated anarchists of the twentieth century. To our era, when so much “protest” happens on social media, his actual sacrifices seem unworldly. Ammon Hennacy was a forerunner of contemporary progressive thought, and he remains a beacon for challenges that confront the world and especially the US today. In this exceptional biography, William Marling tells the story of this fascinating figure, who remains particularly important for the Catholic Left. In addition to establishing Hennacy as an exemplar of vegetarianism, ecology, and pacificism, Marling illuminates a broader history of political ideas now largely lost: the late nineteenth-century utopian movements, the grassroots socialist movements before World War I, and the antinuclear protests of the 1960s. A nuanced study of when religion and anarchist theory overlap, Christian Anarchist shows how Hennacy’s life at the heart of radical libertarian and anarchist interventions in American politics not only galvanized the public then, but offers us new insight for today.”
  • Cynicism and Magic: Intelligence and Intuition on the Buddhist Path [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Chogyam Trungpa—”A groundbreaking, accessible presentation of Tibetan Buddhism from Chögyam Trungpa, renowned twentieth-century master and teacher. Based on a series of talks given by Chögyam Trungpa during the first session of what was to become Naropa University, Cynicism and Magic introduces key Tibetan Buddhist concepts, including karma, the structure of ego, the paramitas, and the bodhisattva. Employing a unique and intimate teaching style, Trungpa Rinpoche presents these concepts in a larger framework of questions we all have: What is authentic spirituality? Can I find enlightenment and freedom? How should I approach life, death, suffering, and boredom? How can I develop some discipline, patience, and sanity? Through these accessible teachings, this book will show you how to approach a living dharma with intelligence, and with a sense of openness and wonder.”
  • Lovecraft Manuscript Goes to Auction“—”You read that right, Lovecraft fans! Coming to auction on October 14 is a 16-leaf autographed manuscript of H. P. Lovecraft’s short story, ‘Pickman’s Model.’ The story was published in the October 1927 issue of Weird Tales. As an added bonus, the entire manuscript is written on the verso of typed correspondence with Lovecraft’s colleagues, including James F. Morton, August Derleth, W. Paul Cook, and Victor E. Bacon. (The author tended to reuse old letters this way.) It is likely a later draft, according to Heritage Auctions, dating to sometime in 1926 and closely matching the typescript with final edits held in Brown University Library’s Lovecraft collection.”
  • “November 5, 2021 – 10:15am. Thinking Outside the Brain: How Our Bodies, Our Spaces, and Our Relationships Extend Our Intelligence with Annie Murphy Paul.” From Yale University. About The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Annie Murphy Paul—”A bold new book reveals how we can tap the intelligence that exists beyond our brains—in our bodies, our surroundings, and our relationships. Use your head. That’s what we tell ourselves when facing a tricky problem or a difficult project. But a growing body of research indicates that we’ve got it exactly backwards. What we need to do, says acclaimed science writer Annie Murphy Paul, is think outside the brain. A host of “extra-neural” resources—the feelings and movements of our bodies, the physical spaces in which we learn and work, and the minds of those around us— can help us focus more intently, comprehend more deeply, and create more imaginatively. The Extended Mind outlines the research behind this exciting new vision of human ability, exploring the findings of neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, psychologists, and examining the practices of educators, managers, and leaders who are already reaping the benefits of thinking outside the brain. She excavates the untold history of how artists, scientists, and authors—from Jackson Pollock to Jonas Salk to Robert Caro—have used mental extensions to solve problems, make discoveries, and create new works. In the tradition of Howard Gardner’s Frames of Mind or Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence, The Extended Mind offers a dramatic new view of how our minds work, full of practical advice on how we can all think better.”
  • Can this man save the world from artificial intelligence? Mo Gawdat is the Silicon Valley supergeek who believes we face an apocalyptic threat from artificial intelligence. The former Google supremo tells Hugo Rifkind how a human tragedy shaped the way he sees the future – and what we need to do next.”—”‘Have you ever seen Men in Black?’ Mo Gawdat says, when asked to describe his former job as chief business officer of Google X.” “‘The reality is we’re creating God.’ An interview with the Silicon Valley supergeek who believes we face an apocalyptic threat from AI.” About Scary Smart: The Future of Artificial Intelligence and How You Can Save Our World [Amazon, Bookshop UK, Publisher, Local Library] by Mo Gawdat—”Artificial intelligence is smarter than humans. It can process information at lightning speed and remain focused on specific tasks without distraction. AI can see into the future, predicting outcomes and even use sensors to see around physical and virtual corners. So why does AI frequently get it so wrong? The answer is us. Humans design the algorithms that define the way that AI works, and the processed information reflects an imperfect world. Does that mean we are doomed? In Scary Smart, Mo Gawdat, the internationally bestselling author of Solve for Happy, draws on his considerable expertise to answer this question and to show what we can all do now to teach ourselves and our machines how to live better. With more than thirty years’ experience working at the cutting-edge of technology and his former role as chief business officer of Google [X], no one is better placed than Mo Gawdat to explain how the Artificial Intelligence of the future works. By 2049 AI will be a billion times more intelligent than humans. Scary Smart explains how to fix the current trajectory now, to make sure that the AI of the future can preserve our species. This book offers a blueprint, pointing the way to what we can do to safeguard ourselves, those we love and the planet itself.” Tweet—”Oh no i LOVE how every so often an ex-googler or other sil val type comes out to say the same shit some of us have been trying to tell you for literally a decade + and certain media breathlessly fall all the fuck over themselves to cover it like the ideas are new, why do you ask?”
  • Misinformation Is About to Get So Much Worse. A conversation with the former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.” About The Age of AI: And Our Human Future [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Henry A Kissinger, Eric Schmidt, Daniel Huttenlocher, due October 2021—”Three of our most accomplished and deep thinkers come together to explore Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the way it is transforming human society—and what it means for us all. An AI learned to win chess by making moves human grand masters had never conceived. Another AI discovered a new antibiotic by analyzing molecular properties human scientists did not understand. Now, AI-powered jets are defeating experienced human pilots in simulated dogfights. AI is coming online in searching, streaming, medicine, education, and many other fields and, in so doing, transforming how humans are experiencing reality. In The Age of AI, three leading thinkers have come together to consider how AI will change our relationships with knowledge, politics, and the societies in which we live. The Age of AI is an essential roadmap to our present and our future, an era unlike any that has come before.” Tweet—”Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime friend Eric Schmidt of Google wants to remain relevant and not have to face consequences. He is a filthy bad man.” And he’s writing it with Henry fucking war criminal Kissinger and MIT dean Huttenlocher, who can’t be unconnected to the whole Joi Ito and Epstein thing either. WTAF.
  • Trauma, trust and triumph: psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk on how to recover from our deepest pain. His 2014 book, The Body Keeps the Score, has become a huge pandemic hit, topping bestseller lists this summer and becoming a meme on social media. What does it tell us about the world we live in?”—”When Dr Bessel van der Kolk published The Body Keeps the Score in 2014, it was a huge hit with yoga people. That is not a euphemism for “rich, underoccupied people”, it is just people who do yoga. Certain physical activities do something weird to your brain: ancient memories resurface, often with new feelings or perspectives attached; you start treating yourself with more compassion. It doesn’t make sense until you read Van der Kolk. After that, nothing has ever made more sense.” About 2014’s The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Bessel van der Kolk—”A pioneering researcher transforms our understanding of trauma and offers a bold new paradigm for healing in this New York Times bestseller. Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He explores innovative treatments–from neurofeedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga–that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. Based on Dr. van der Kolk’s own research and that of other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal–and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.”
  • The Dedalus Book of the 1960s: Turn Off Your Mind [Amazon, Publisher, Local Library] by Gary Lachman—”In The Dedalus Book of the 1960s: Turn Off Your Mind, Gary Lachman uncovers the Love Generation’s roots in occultism and explores the dark side of the Age of Aquarius. His provocative revision of the 1960s counterculture links Flower Power to mystical fascism, and follows the magical current that enveloped luminaries like the Beatles, Timothy Leary and the Rolling Stones, and darker stars like Charles Manson, Anton LaVey, and the Process Church of the Final Judgment. Acclaimed by satanists and fundamentalist Christians alike, this edition includes a revised text incorporating new material on the ‘suicide cult’ surrounding Carlos Castaneda; the hippy serial killer Charles Sobhraj; the strange case of Ira Einhorn, ‘the Unicorn’; the CIA and ESP; the new millennialism and more. From H.P. Lovecraft to the Hell’s Angels, find out how the Morning of the Magicians became the Night of the Living Dead.”. From 2012, but newly available in the US, in an apparently new edition with additional material: tweet—”Finally, the relatively new UK edition – packed with 100+ additional fascinating pages – is available stateside at affordable prices”.
  • What About the Heroine’s Journey? The Harvard scholar Maria Tatar has made a career of studying fairy tales and folklore. Now she is taking aim at Joseph Campbell and showing us the women he left out of the story.” About The Heroine with 1001 Faces [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Maria Tatar—”World-renowned folklorist Maria Tatar reveals an astonishing but long-buried history of heroines, taking us from Cassandra and Scheherazade to Nancy Drew and Wonder Woman. The Heroine with 1,001 Faces dismantles the cult of warrior heroes, revealing a secret history of heroinism at the very heart of our collective cultural imagination. Maria Tatar, a leading authority on fairy tales and folklore, explores how heroines, rarely wielding a sword and often deprived of a pen, have flown beneath the radar even as they have been bent on redemptive missions. Deploying the domestic crafts and using words as weapons, they have found ways to survive assaults and rescue others from harm, all while repairing the fraying edges in the fabric of their social worlds. Like the tongueless Philomela, who spins the tale of her rape into a tapestry, or Arachne, who portrays the misdeeds of the gods, they have discovered instruments for securing fairness in the storytelling circles where so-called women’s work—spinning, mending, and weaving—is carried out. Tatar challenges the canonical models of heroism in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, with their male-centric emphases on achieving glory and immortality. Finding the women missing from his account and defining their own heroic trajectories is no easy task, for Campbell created the playbook for Hollywood directors. Audiences around the world have willingly surrendered to the lure of quest narratives and charismatic heroes. Whether in the form of Frodo, Luke Skywalker, or Harry Potter, Campbell’s archetypical hero has dominated more than the box office. In a broad-ranging volume that moves with ease from the local to the global, Tatar demonstrates how our new heroines wear their curiosity as a badge of honor rather than a mark of shame, and how their ‘mischief making’ evidences compassion and concern. From Bluebeard’s wife to Nancy Drew, and from Jane Eyre to Janie Crawford, women have long crafted stories to broadcast offenses in the pursuit of social justice. Girls, too, have now precociously stepped up to the plate, with Hermione Granger, Katniss Everdeen, and Starr Carter as trickster figures enacting their own forms of extrajudicial justice. Their quests may not take the traditional form of a ‘hero’s journey,’ but they reveal the value of courage, defiance, and, above all, care. ‘By turns dazzling and chilling’ (Ruth Franklin), The Heroine with 1,001 Faces creates a luminous arc that takes us from ancient times to the present day. It casts an unusually wide net, expanding the canon and thinking capaciously in global terms, breaking down the boundaries of genre, and displaying a sovereign command of cultural context. This, then, is a historic volume that informs our present and its newfound investment in empathy and social justice like no other work of recent cultural history.”
  • Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Soman Chainani, Illustrated by Julia Iredale—”You think you know these stories, don’t you? You are wrong. You don’t know them at all. Twelve tales, twelve dangerous tales of mystery, magic, and rebellious hearts. Each twists like a spindle to reveal truths full of warning and triumph, truths that free hearts long kept tame, truths that explore life . . . and death. A prince has a surprising awakening . . . A beauty fights like a beast . . . A boy refuses to become prey . . . A path to happiness is lost. . . . then found again. New York Times bestselling author Soman Chainani respins old stories into fresh fairy tales for a new era and creates a world like no other. These stories know you. They understand you. They reflect you. They are tales for our times. So read on, if you dare.”
  • Assassin [Publisher] by Ryan Madej—”Ryan Madej’s ASSASSIN is an experimental novella with a deep esoteric background. In a dead city, a woman with a weapon that can erase its victims from time searches for prey. Lifetimes away, a man searches for a lost manuscript that will give him power over her. In an untouched paradise, an acolyte must choose to walk the path of enlightenment or destruction. Outside the linearity of time, their paths converge and threaten to destroy each other.” Trailer by Hermetic Library Artist Joan Pope at tweet.
  • The largest space telescope in history is about to blow our minds. The James Webb Space Telescope will be 100 times as powerful as the Hubble. It will change how we see the universe.”
  • Hubble Shows Winds in Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Are Speeding Up“—”Like the speed of an advancing race car driver, the winds in the outermost “lane” of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot are accelerating – a discovery only made possible by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which has monitored the planet for more than a decade. Researchers analyzing Hubble’s regular “storm reports” found that the average wind speed just within the boundaries of the storm, known as a high-speed ring, has increased by up to 8 percent from 2009 to 2020. In contrast, the winds near the red spot’s innermost region are moving significantly more slowly, like someone cruising lazily on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The massive storm’s crimson-colored clouds spin counterclockwise at speeds that exceed 400 miles per hour – and the vortex is bigger than Earth itself. The red spot is legendary in part because humans have observed it for more than 150 years. ‘When I initially saw the results, I asked ‘Does this make sense?’ No one has ever seen this before,’ said Michael Wong of the University of California, Berkeley, who led the analysis published today in Geophysical Research Letters. ‘But this is something only Hubble can do. Hubble’s longevity and ongoing observations make this revelation possible.'”
  • Hubble telescope discovers 6 mysteriously dead, massive galaxies from early universe“—”Scientists studying early galaxies were stunned earlier this year when they discovered six massive galaxies that seem to have died during the universe’s most active period of star birth. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope spied the six galaxies, which appeared to have run out of the cold hydrogen gas needed to make stars while most other galaxies were producing new stars at a rapid pace.”
  • This May Be the First Planet Found Orbiting 3 Stars at Once. It’s called a circumtriple planet, and evidence that one exists suggests that planet formation is less unusual than once believed.”
  • NASA’s Mars Fleet Lies Low As Sun Moves Between Earth and Red Planet. The missions will continue collecting data about the Red Planet, though engineers back on Earth will stop sending commands to them until mid-October.”
  • 32,000 mph fireball spotted soaring over North Carolina. More than 80 people reported seeing the blazing visitor from space.”
  • Moonshots, private space stations and more: NASA chief Bill Nelson on the future of human spaceflight. Nelson thinks big things are coming, despite some notable challenges.”
  • New genomic analysis sorts out when Polynesians reached which islands. Figuring out people’s movement across the Pacific is not a simple thing.”—”The spread of the Polynesian culture across the Pacific was the greatest migration in humanity’s history. All indications are that the Polynesians started in Taiwan and made it to the Americas while settling on islands from Hawaii to New Zealand along the way. Many of those islands retained trade routes for centuries, even if the islands themselves were tiny and difficult to consistently find in the vast expanse of the Pacific. Reconstructing the route the Polynesians took has proven challenging. Very little ancient DNA has survived in the warm, often humid environments of the tropics. Artifacts have been dated, but it’s not clear how closely they relate to the arrival of an island’s population, and often they don’t indicate where that population came from. Post-colonial travel has complicated the genetics and linguistic evidence that might otherwise help us sort things out. Now, a large international team of researchers has come up with an entirely new way of analyzing the genomes of modern Polynesians, based on the effect that a long series of settlement events would have on genomes. The results provide a detailed map of which islands were settled in what order, and it even provides an estimate on the dates of when Polynesians arrived.”
  • World’s oldest known beads found in Morocco. Perforated shells may have signaled identity, attracted mates.”—”The human penchant for bling is ancient—and a new study suggests it may go back as far as 142,000 years. That’s when hunter-gatherers in what is now Morocco collected tiny seashells, bored them with holes, and strung them up to adorn their hair, bodies, or clothing. The look must have been bedazzling, because the same type of perforated shells spread quickly throughout northern Africa and into the Middle East. The beads—the world’s oldest if new dates hold up—suggest modern humans were engaged in fully symbolic behavior 10,000 to 20,000 years earlier than previously known.”
  • Unbreakable glass inspired by seashells. Strongest and toughest glass known developed by McGill University scientists.”—”Scientists from McGill University develop stronger and tougher glass, inspired by the inner layer of mollusk shells. Instead of shattering upon impact, the new material has the resiliency of plastic and could be used to improve cell phone screens in the future, among other applications. While techniques like tempering and laminating can help reinforce glass, they are costly and no longer work once the surface is damaged. “Until now there were trade-offs between high strength, toughness, and transparency. Our new material is not only three times stronger than the normal glass, but also more than five times more fracture resistant,” says Allen Ehrlicher, an Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at McGill University.”
  • But, can I ride a TRON lightcycle yet? “Microscopic metavehicles powered by nothing but light. ​Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have succeeded in creating tiny vehicles powered by nothing but light. By layering an optical metasurface onto a microscopic particle, and then using a light source to control it, they succeeded in moving the tiny vehicles in a variety of complex and precise ways – and even using them to transport other objects.​”
  • Magnetic Stimulation of the Brain Can Improve Episodic Memory. Inhibitory brain stimulation allows better memorization by reducing the power of beta-waves in the brain.”
  • Radiation therapy reprograms heart muscle cells to younger state. Radiotherapy repairs irregular rhythms in those with life-threatening heart arrhythmia.”
  • Bacteria blasting cancer treatment shows promise“—”A low-cost, non-toxic cancer treatment has been developed by researchers at The Australian National University (ANU). The treatment uses dead bacteria to help kick-start the immune system and shrink cancer.”
  • Intense workouts before bedtime won’t guarantee a good night’s rest, new research shows. Emmanuel Frimpong and Melodee Mograss say early evening exercise is better for uninterrupted sleep.”
  • North Korea says it fired new ‘hypersonic missile’. North Korea has claimed that it successfully tested a new hypersonic missile called Hwasong-8 on Tuesday.”—”Tuesday’s launch also saw North Korea introduce missile fuel ampoule for the first time – described by North Korea analyst Ankit Panda as a ‘significant milestone’. This is a technology that allows missiles to be pre-fuelled and then sent to the field in canisters. This means it could potentially stay launch-ready for years.” “Mr Panda, a Stanton Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said it was difficult at this point to assess the ‘precise capabilities’ of the missile, but added that it could ‘presumably present a very different challenge for missile defence from traditional ballistic missiles’. This addition of the missile fuel ampoule means the weapon would be ready to be fired straight away. If it doesn’t need to be fuelled out in the field, it means the launch time is much quicker. The quicker launch time also means it’s more difficult for other countries to make a pre-emptive strike.”
  • Tech companies keep asking employees to take pay cuts to work remotely, but workers are rejecting the idea they should be paid differently based on where they live. Tech workers don’t buy location-based compensation, and most say they won’t take a pay cut. The industry is redefining how they should be paid.”
  • Tweet—”NEW: our case study, described today by @FT @madhumita29, shows that Facebook pushes anxiety-fuelling ads at a young mother worried about her toddler’s health, even after she disabled all health-related interests in ad settings. #AlgorithmsOfTrauma ? 1/6″ “It turns out that Facebook’s ad control tools are useless: even though the user had disabled all sensitive interests, the platform *continued* to push disturbing ads at her, and to infer *new* health-related traits (e.g. MRI, intensive care unit).” “This is not a bug. Algorithmic fixation on “engagement” and ad profit ignores collateral damage, such as users’ mental health.” See “Time to turn off Facebook’s digital fire hose. How much control does the tech giant give users over ads? The answer, despite its protestations, seems to be hardly any.”
  • Facebook Pauses Instagram Kids Project. The social-media app had faced criticism over a version for children that it was developing.”
  • A new way to solve the ‘hardest of the hard’ computer problems. Scientists develop the next generation of reservoir computing.”—”A relatively new type of computing that mimics the way the human brain works was already transforming how scientists could tackle some of the most difficult information processing problems. Now, researchers have found a way to make what is called reservoir computing work between 33 and a million times faster, with significantly fewer computing resources and less data input needed. In fact, in one test of this next-generation reservoir computing, researchers solved a complex computing problem in less than a second on a desktop computer.”
  • Because, of course it does. “Leaked Documents Show How Amazon’s Astro Robot Tracks Everything You Do. Leaked meetings show the robot will heavily rely on facial recognition and user behavior, but sources who worked on Astro say the robot is flawed.”
  • ‘Vigilante treatments’: Anti-vaccine groups push people to leave ICUs. As the anti-vaccine movement escalates its rhetoric, doctors warn that they’re dealing with the fallout: ‘They’re starting to target people, the messengers — nurses and doctors.'”
  • A daily pill to treat COVID could be just months away, scientists say“—”At least three promising antivirals for COVID are being tested in clinical trials, with results expected as soon as late fall or winter, said Carl Dieffenbach, director of the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who is overseeing antiviral development.”
  • Valley Fever Is Spreading Through a Hotter, Drier Western US. Researchers haven’t pinned down exactly what’s behind the rise of the deadly fungal disease. But one thing is nearly certain: Climate change plays a role.”
  • Alabama Wants To Use Its COVID Relief Funds To Build New Prisons. The state that recently led the country in COVID-19 deaths wants to spend its pandemic relief funds on incarceration instead.”
  • Tweet—”BEWARE: As Halloween gets closer, @BensalemPolice are warning parents to LOOK at your child’s candy before they eat it. They confiscated these snacks that look a lot like the real thing. All are laced with THC @6abc”. Tweet—”You know it’s officially fall when the media steps up to discredit cannabis decriminalization by scaremongering about boogeymonster drug pushers dropping thousands of dollars to distribute overpriced cannabis candy to hypothetical children trick-or-treating in September.” Tweet—”More accurate story: Today two PA state reps introduced a bill to legalize weed for adults in PA. In response the Bensalem PD tweeted a pic of clearly labeled edibles & spread an old urban legend about drugged Halloween candy even though it’s September.” See “Pa. state reps introduce bill to legalize recreational marijuana.” Tweet—”I know everyone is dunking on you and it sucks but seriously: it’s really dangerous to take police PR statements at face value without doing some really basic fact checking, and it’s a good thing that this particular instance was about edibles and not about someone’s life.”
  • Judge Wonders How So Many ‘Law-Abiding’ Americans ‘Morphed Into Terrorists’ On Jan. 6. Judge Emmet Sullivan, accepting a guilty plea from Trump supporter Dawn Bancroft, called her comments about wanting to shoot Nancy Pelosi ‘outrageous.'”
  • ‘No major incidents of illegal activity’: DHS told Pentagon as pro-Trump mob breached Capitol. A communication on Jan. 6 from a key DHS hub that was emailed to senior Army leaders dramatically undersold the unfolding chaos.”
  • The Whole Country is the Reichstag“—”It’s time to be blunt. The right-wing political alliance anchored by the Republican party and Trumpism coheres around a single concrete objective—taking absolute power in the U.S. as soon and as definitively as possible. And they’re more than ready, even seemingly want, to destroy the social fabric of the country to do so.”
  • The Bannon Subpoena Is Just the Beginning. Congress’s Jan. 6 Investigation Is Going Big. Records and exclusive documents obtained by ‘Rolling Stone’ reveal the massive scope of the House select committee probe.”
  • Trump plans to sue to keep White House records on Capitol attack secret. Legal strategy could delay and possibly stymie efforts by House select committee into Capitol attacks to see key documents.”
  • September 22, 2021“—”It is impossible to overstate just how momentous are both an attempted coup and an attempt to force the U.S. to default on its debts.”
  • New Florida Surgeon General Appeared at Demon-Sperm COVID Conspiracy Summit With Future Capitol Rioter.”
  • Stephanie Grisham Reveals Trump Called To Tell Her About His Penis. The former president phoned his press secretary from Air Force One to assure her his penis was neither small nor toadstool-shaped, Grisham wrote in her tell-all.”—”Never let it be said that Donald Trump didn’t have priorities ― and defending the size and shape of his penis was paramount, according to former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.”
  • Biden Promised a New Era for Immigration After Trump. How’s That Going? It’s complicated.”
  • The Communist Party Just Won the Elections in Austria’s Second-Biggest City. In Sunday’s elections in Graz, Austria, the Communist Party romped to victory for the first time in history. Jacobin spoke to one of its winning candidates about how the party built a ‘red fortress’ in the city.”
  • The Kremlin’s Strange Victory. How Putin Exploits American Dysfunction and Fuels American Decline.”
  • People Don’t Understand How Unfree We Already Are“—”The biggest and most widespread blind spot among those who oppose totalitarian control by the powerful is the assumption that it has not already been achieved.”
  • 56 Percent of Young People Think Humanity Is Doomed. A major study of 10,000 young people across 10 different countries lays bare the scale of climate crisis-related anxiety felt around the world.”
  • Oh, FFS. Everyone is awful. “Doctors Without Borders saves lives every day. Some insiders say it is also a racist workplace where nonwhite workers get worse pay, less security, and inferior medical care. Insiders at the relief agency Doctors Without Borders say the organization is rife with racism and unequal treatment of workers around the world.”
  • Ugh. “W.H.O. Workers Sexually Abused Women During Ebola Mission in Congo, Inquiry Finds. A commission appointed by the health agency found that women and girls had been promised jobs in exchange for relationships or had been sexually exploited in order to keep jobs.”
  • Australian state gives world’s oldest rainforest to Indigenous group“—”Queensland, Australia’s third most populous state, said on Wednesday it has given ownership of the world’s oldest tropical rainforest to a local Indigenous group. The Daintree Rainforest, listed as a World Heritage Site since 1988, has been growing for 180 million years and is famed for its rich biodiversity but has come under sustained pressure from climate change and industries such as logging. In striking a new deal to manage the rainforest, Queensland said the Daintree would be returned to the traditional owners of the land.”
  • Greta Thunberg mocks world leaders’ words at Youth4Climate“—”The Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, used her speech at the Youth4Climate conference in Milan to mock the words of world leaders, including UK PM Boris Johnson. The 18-year-old used soundbites from Mr Johnson, such as ‘expensive bunny hugging’ and ‘build back better’, to highlight what she called the ’empty words and promises’ of politicians.”
  • Simone Biles Chose Herself. Simone Biles decides what comes next. If anything. ‘I should have quit way before Tokyo, when Larry Nassar was in the media for two years. It was too much. But I was not going to let him take something I’ve worked for since I was 6 years old.'”
  • Smithsonian Acquires Rare Photographs From the First African American Studios. Daguerreotypes by James P. Ball, Glenalvin Goodridge and Augustus Washington are the centerpiece of a collection that could rewrite the early history of American photography.”
  • Tweet—”CHARIOT, the AWA Studios comic series by @bryanedwardhill @PriPetraites @Marco_Lesko, set to be adapted into a movie by #TOPGUN: MAVERICK’s Joseph Kosinski for Warner Brother Studios, is being collected into trade paperback.” Collected TP of Chariot [Amazon, Publisher] by Bryan Edward Hill, Priscilla Petraites, Marco Lesko, due Nov 2021—”The Chariot was a Cold War-era secret government project to provide its star agent with a weapon unlike any other in the form of a supercharged muscle car. It sank into the ocean decades ago, and the agent along with it. Now, a petty criminal looking to reform his life has stumbled upon the Chariot, and he’s about to find out that the agent’s consciousness is still controlling it in this synthwave thriller.”
  • The Mystery of the Origin of Indian Yellow“—”One of its most famous users was Van Gogh, who painted a luminous Indian yellow moon in his 1889 masterpiece, The Starry Night.” It has been featured in expositions, and esteemed for its beauty used in both watercolor and oil painting.” “The origins and components of Indian yellow were largely unknown at the time. For years, soft yellow lumps arriving by ship in sealed packages to European docks. The dirty yellow balls would be washed and purified, and the greenish and yellow phases separated. The precise ingredients of these lumps were not known, but they had a pungent odour of ammonia and were suspected of containing camel or cow urine or ox bile.” “‘They feed the cows solely with mango leaves and water, which increases the bile pigment and imparts to the urine a bright yellow color’, and that “in no other part of the country is the manufacture of Piuri carried out”. He then goes into details about the collection and processing of the urine and hand-pressing into the Piuri ball. The cows were trained to pass urine four times a day by slightly rubbing their urinary organs, and it is collected in small earthen pots, a which were placed over a fire overnight to condense the liquid, leaving a yellow precipitate. It would then be strained through a cloth, and the sediment made into a ball and dried further, first, on a charcoal fire, and then in the sun. The Piuri is then ready for the markets. The merchants would advance money to the milkmen, and export the pigment to Calcutta and Patna, and from there it would be shipped to post-impressionist Europe. The Piuri was purchased from the milkmen by Marwari traders for 1 Rupee per pound, and once it arrived in Calcutta the price could be up to 100 to 200 Rupees. Mukharji concludes by stating firmly that he himself saw mango leaves being eaten by the cows, the urine being collected, and the manufacturing of the pigment, as well as, ‘the real source of this kind of Piuri is now beyond any doubt whatsoever’.” “The production of the pigment decline gradually starting in the 1920s, most probably due to the cruelty to animals involved in the process — since the cattle were fed an exclusive diet of mango leaves and water in order to increase the saturation of their urine, (occasionally with a little turmeric thrown in for good measure), it did not provide them with adequate nutrition and the cows were often malnourished. The toxin urushoil found in mango leaves also took a toll on the cows.”
  • From 2016: “The cult inspirations behind Massive Attack’s new video. A horror film banned in the UK until 1999 provided the inspiration for the new cut starring Rosamund Pike.”—”(Along with Possession), Phantasm was another movie that just kind of sprung to mind for the video – without consciously seeking them out, they both seemed to resonate. So I used those films as a leaping-off point to try and create something different out of these two huge influences I had when I was a kid. With Phantasm, I wanted to use the intimidating orb thing (the sphere in the video looks a lot like the one that terrorises the cast in Don Coscarelli’s 1979 cult-classic horror) to represent this beautiful, sexy technology. And unbeknownst to me a lot of what Massive Attack were doing on their new record was exploring those themes of technology and how it affects us, so it must have connected with them.” Watch “Massive Attack, Young Fathers – Voodoo In My Blood” Phantasm!
  • Dooms Children self-titled, out October 2021. This is Wade MacNeil’s solo project. [Bandcamp, Apple, Artist Shop] Listen to their cover of Grateful Dead’s Friend of the Devil.
  • Dialect: An Open-Source Translation App for Linux.”—”Dialect is a straightforward app that lets you translate between languages using web services. While you can launch the web browser and directly use any translation service to get the job done, a desktop app can sometimes come in handy. Dialect is a simple translation app that utilizes web services to translate while giving you some extra abilities.”
  • Dungeons & Dragons Gives Tease About First 2022 Book“—”Of course, the biggest news coming out of the Future of D&D panel was confirmation that the design studio was gearing up to release a new set of Core Rulebooks in 2024 for the game’s 50th anniversary. Lead rules designer Jeremy Crawford and Winninger stopped short of stating that the rulebooks would be for a new “edition” of the game, but rather that it represented the latest evolution of D&D and would be backwards compatible with existing Fifth Edition content. This suggests that the new rulebooks would be for a ‘revised’ Fifth Edition, similar to the release of the ‘3.5’ ruleset that tweaked Third Edition rules back in 2003. By the time these rulebooks are released, D&D Fifth Edition would be out for a decade, which matches the approximate publication length of other D&D editions.” Tweet thread—”For the intersecting broader TTRPG community, this means that 2024 is going to functionally be a write off. Don’t plan any major releases. It’s a year for supplements and planning. Because D&D is going to drown everything out. Plan for it, be prepared, and spend 2022-23…1/2″ “2/2… shoring up your support base and building up to weather 2024. I’m not kidding either. If D&D maintains even half its current momentum, 2024 is going to hit like a brick through a plate glass window and unprepared publishers will be battered at best and wiped out at worst.”
  • Asmodee Owners Seek to Sell Board Game Publisher for Two Billion Euros“—”Obviously, any sale of Asmodee would have huge implications on the wider tabletop board game industry. Asmodee is the second largest maker of board games behind Hasbro and is the largest publisher of games to many hobby game stores. If the sale went through, it would also represent a major increase in the value of not only Asmodee but also the board game industry as a whole. It could also mean a major disruption in the industry, especially if there is a major reorganization that comes about due to either the sale or the new ownership.”
  • Netflix announces a new family-friendly Witcher series, along with season 3. Netflix will also make another animated movie set in The Witcher universe.”—”The new animated project follows August’s anime-inspired feature The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf from Legend of Korra team Studio Mir. Netflix will also produce a new ‘fun filled’ Witcher series for kids and families — though it’s not exactly clear how that’s going to work. Finally, Netflix also announced that The Witcher has been renewed for a third season.”
  • ‘Babylon 5’ Reboot in the Works at The CW. Original series creator J. Michael Straczynski will pen the script for the update.”—”Described as a “from-the-ground-up reboot” of the original, the script for a new potential version of the former syndicated drama from Warner Bros. TV will be penned by Straczynski. The new take revolves around John Sheridan (originally played by Bruce Boxleitner), an Earthforce officer with a mysterious background, who is assigned to Babylon 5, a 5-mile-long space station in neutral space, a port of call for travelers, smugglers, corporate explorers and alien diplomats at a time of uneasy peace and the constant threat of war. His arrival triggers a destiny beyond anything he could have imagined, as an exploratory Earth company accidentally triggers a conflict with a civilization a million years ahead of us, putting Sheridan and the rest of the B5 crew in the line of fire as the last, best hope for the survival of the human race.”
  • Russell T Davies to return as Doctor Who showrunner. Russell T Davies will make an explosive return to screens to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Doctor Who in 2023, and series beyond. BBC Studios are partnering with Bad Wolf to produce.”—”Russell T Davies says ‘I’m beyond excited to be back on my favourite show. But we’re time-travelling too fast, there’s a whole series of Jodie Whittaker’s brilliant Doctor for me to enjoy, with my friend and hero Chris Chibnall at the helm – I’m still a viewer for now.’ Chris Chibnall says ‘It’s monumentally exciting and fitting that Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary will see one of Britain’s screenwriting diamonds return home. Russell built the baton that is about to be handed back to him – Doctor Who, the BBC, the screen industry in Wales, and let’s be honest everyone in the whole world, have so many reasons to be Very Excited Indeed about what lies ahead.'”
  • Let science fiction be weird again. The genre has become technically accomplished, deeply serious, and utterly boring.”—”That shift helps explain the buzz about two releases this fall. Dune is the first installment of a third attempt at Frank Herbert’s classic novel, which has already been filmed once as a feature and once as a TV miniseries. The Matrix Resurrections is the fourth installment in a franchise that helped kick off the trend. There’s a problem, though: Both films look terrible. It’s not entirely fair to judge by previews, but the directors’ other work suggests they’ll be technically accomplished, crushingly loud, deeply serious, and utterly boring.” “the problem lies in the transformation of science fiction and its cousins into the kind of seamless confection they were once pitted against. Once the genre where anything could happen, science fiction now tends to the high budget, high technique, and infinitesimally low risk. The result has all the defects of the genre, including flat characterization and absurd dialogue, with few of the rewards.”
  • Mr Goxx, the crypto-trading hamster beating human investors. Like many people, Mr Goxx is dabbling in cryptocurrency, hoping to strike it rich.”
  • My Time with Kurt Cobain. Befriending a rock star isn’t necessarily as cool as you’d think—particularly when tragedy happens.”
  • Here we are now. Rickroll us. “‘Oh My God’: Dave Grohl Makes Surprise Discovery About An Iconic Nirvana Song. He called it ‘uncanny’ in a new interview with Rolling Stone.”—”Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl says one of the best-known songs from his previous band has a surprising similarity to a very unlikely tune. Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirt,’ Grohl told Rolling Stone, has a lot in common with Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up.'” Watch 2017’s “Foo Fighters & Rick Astley, Never Gonna Give You Up, Multi-camera, Tokyo, 20.8.17
  • Adventure Time: Distant Lands #4: Wizard City—”Return to the Land of Ooo and beyond in the fourth and final installment of Adventure Time: Distant Lands! In Wizard City, Peppermint Butler starts over as just another inexperienced student at a wizard school filled with dangerous secrets.”
  • From the 30-50 Feral Hogs dept: “Packs Of Ravenous Wild Boars Are Ransacking Rome.” Tweet—”Rome has been invaded by Gauls, Visigoths and vandals over the centuries. Now it’s facing a new menace: entire families of rubbish-greedy wild boars. ‘I am afraid of walking on the sidewalk,’ one grandmother said.” OMG the 30-50 feral hogs have now got boats? They spent the entire lockdown sailing to Italy to destroy Western Civilization?! Frickin’ pigs ruin everything. George Orwell tried to warn us!
  • Meanwhile, in the UK they’re iconoclasting again … this time with guns. “Rare white stag shot dead on Bootle street by police. A rare white stag was shot dead by police after it was spotted running through the streets of a town.” Tweet—”Kill the questing beast in the pool of life … Winter of Discontent symbolic augury achieved.” Tweet—”Do you want to piss off the fair folk? Because this is how you piss off the fair folk.” Tweet—”Quick portent update. Ancient symbol of English virtue and purity euthanised by the keepers of order.” Don’t tell the poets. Or John Uskglass. Someone alert the Abhorsen.

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.

Crown of Horns

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Bone: Crown of Horns [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Jeff Smith, book 9 of the Bone series.

Smith Bone Crown of Thorns

The final volume of the Bone series doesn’t have many surprises. All of the plots that were set up in the earlier numbers play out in a way that seems pretty inevitable, if not outright predictable. There are a few jokes, and lots of chasing and fighting. Comeuppances and rewards (including a hero’s burial) are distributed according to the characters’ merits established before.

I had been holding out for some exciting backstory on Ted the bug, but I was disappointed there. Maybe it’s in one of the prequel supplements: Rose or Stupid Stupid Rat Tails.

He had known about the general prosperity that had bloomed continuously, like the flower of some giant and impossibly hardy weed, for the forty years since the end of World War II, and he had known how this wealth had been distributed among and spent by the nearly all-inclusive middle class that, as every year passed, put more time into less productive work and made more money for it.

Walter Tevis, The Man Who Fell to Earth [Amazon, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Tevis The Man Who Fell Earth known general prosperity since end war wealth distributed spent middle class every year more time less productive work more money

There’s always been disaster and war, ups and downs, dark ages and golden eras. It’s not the first time that something’s wiped out a big chunk of life on the planet, either. But each time that happens and the world recovers, some species don’t make it. This time it just might be us.

Karen Traviss, The Best of Us [Amazon, Bookshop, Local Library]

Hermetic quote Traviss The Best of Us always been disaster war dark ages golden eras not the first time wiped out life planet world recovers some species dont make it might be us

The Great Code

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Great Code: The Bible and Literature [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Northrop Frye.

Frye The Great Code

While carefully distinguishing the Bible from the various categories of secular literature, Northrop Frye applies the techniques and perspectives of his work in literary criticism to it in The Great Code. (The title phrase, like most of Frye’s, is a quote from Blake.) The book works in an exploratory fashion that proceeds from the atomic level of language, through myth and metaphor, to the continuities involved in biblical typology. Then he traces the same arc in reverse, to integrate what he had previously analyzed. 

Frye makes no pleas on behalf of supernatural agency or religious institutions. He discusses the Bible as a textual curiosity, and works to demonstrate the worth it can have for thoughtful readers, as well as the contributions that it has made to the mental infrastructure of our civilization. In the denouement of this volume, the first of several he would eventually write about the Bible, Frye cites Nietzsche and Feuerbach, and muses about magic and sexuality. As always, he is a lively and elegant writer.

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys serious literature, and yet is tempted to dismiss the Bible as an anthology of ancient superstitions. It may also be a useful tonic for those who view the Bible as their own sectarian playground–although it is less likely to endear itself to them. For me, it mostly served as a convenient review and lucid exposition of ideas I had previously considered; but there were definitely fresh nuggets to be discovered throughout.

Omnium Gatherum: 26sept2021

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

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

  • The New Enlightenment: Discussion with Peter B. Kaufman & Catherine Stihler by Internet Archive. A discussion with the author of The New Enlightenment, Peter B. Kaufman, and the CEO of Creative Commons, Catherine Stihler. Wed, September 29, 2021. 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CDT.” About The New Enlightenment and the Fight to Free Knowledge [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Peter B Kaufman—”How do we create a universe of truthful and verifiable information, available to everyone? In The New Enlightenment and the Fight to Free Knowledge, MIT Open Learning’s Peter B. Kaufman describes the powerful forces that have purposely crippled our efforts to share knowledge widely and freely. Popes and their inquisitors, emperors and their hangmen, commissars and their secret police–throughout history, all have sought to stanch the free flow of information. Kaufman writes of times when the Bible could not be translated–you’d be burned for trying; when dictionaries and encyclopedias were forbidden; when literature and science and history books were trashed and pulped–sometimes along with their authors; and when efforts to develop public television and radio networks were quashed by private industry. In the 21st century, the enemies of free thought have taken on new and different guises–giant corporate behemoths, sprawling national security agencies, gutted regulatory commissions. Bereft of any real moral compass or sense of social responsibility, their work to surveil and control us are no less nefarious than their 16th- and 18th- and 20th- century predecessors. They are all part of what Kaufman calls the Monsterverse. The New Enlightenment and the Fight to Free Knowledge maps out the opportunities to mobilize for the fight ahead of us. With the Internet and other means of media production and distribution–video especially–at hand, knowledge institutions like universities, libraries, museums, and archives have a special responsibility now to counter misinformation, disinformation, and fake news–and especially efforts to control the free flow of information. A film and video producer and former book publisher, Kaufman begins to draft a new social contract for our networked video age. He draws his inspiration from those who fought tooth and nail against earlier incarnations of the Monsterverse–including William Tyndale in the 16th century; Denis Diderot in the 18th; untold numbers of Soviet and Central and East European dissidents in the 20th–many of whom paid the ultimate price. Their successors? Advocates of free knowledge like Aaron Swartz, of free software like Richard Stallman, of an enlightened public television and radio network like James Killian, of a freer Internet like Tim Berners-Lee, of fuller rights and freedoms like Edward Snowden. All have been striving to secure for us a better world, marked by the right balance between state, society, and private gain. The concluding section of the book, its largest piece, builds on their work, drawing up a progressive agenda for how today’s free thinkers can band together now to fight and win. With everything shut and everyone going online, The New Enlightenment and the Fight to Free Knowledge is a rousing call to action that expands the definition of what it means to be a citizen in the 21st century.”
  • A bunch of folk customs and plant magic events at Treadwell’s Sep 30–Oct 28 to check out.
  • Sitges Film Festival and Filmarket Hub Unveil Finalists for 2021 Sitges Pitchbox—”‘Jane’ (Aram Garriga, Spain). Javier Calvo (‘Veneno’) and Mara Lethem co-wrote this period drama which turns on Jane Wolfe, a fading Hollywood star who moves to Sicily to live with her spiritual mentor and romantic correspondent, Aleister Crowley, only to find as unwelcoming a situation as could be imagined. Garriga directs and produces for Visualsuspects and Carles Torras produces for Zabriskie Films.” Also “Upcoming“—”JANE (2022). Fiction, 120′. Director: Aram Garriga. Written by Javier Calvo. A Visualsuspects production. In development.”
  • Hilaritas Press has launched a new podcast. Here’s “Alfred Korzybski – Hilaritas Press Podcast Episode 1“—”For our first episode we talk with artist Dom Heffer, artistic Editor of Etc; the Journal of the Institute of General Semantics, about the life and ideas of Alfred Korzybski and the implications of general semantics on every day life.”
  • Season 2 of Hieros Gamos Radio, a podcast from OTO Australia, kicks off with “Episode 1 – Gordan Djurdjevic“—”Our guest is a scholar whose work centers on the traditions of yoga and tantra and their impact on new religious movements in the West; Thelema; the cultural history of the 20th century, contemporary occultism, and comparative esotericism. Author of India and the Occult: The Influence of South Asian Spirituality on Modern Western Occultism, a contributor to Oxford University Press’s Aleister Crowley and Western Esotericism, and the Grand Lodge of Australia’s Ora Et Labora research journal, we were delighted to speak to Gordan Djurdjevic. You can read Gordan’s groundbreaking essay The Birth of the New Aeon: Magick And Mysticism of Thelema from the Perspective of Postmodern A/Theology in Volume two of Ora Et Labora available through online book retailers.”
  • Papus: Magician, Martinist, And Medical Hypnotist“—”Known today for founding the ritualistic Martinist Order, and for his writings on magic, Gérard Encausse was one of France’s most prominent, pioneering, and respected medical hypnotists. Indeed, for Encausse (and for 19th century France) there was a great deal of overlap between the magical and the medical. Here, we explore some of the stranger connections.” About Hermetic Library Figure Gérard Encausse.
  • Take the ‘Learn Your Philosophical Beliefs’ Quiz. This quiz is going to help you figure out what your philosophical views are, show how your views compare to those of philosophers and other users, and help you understand the connections between philosophy and psychology. When it comes to life’s big questions, philosophers and psychologists usually look for answers in different ways. Philosophers consider arguments using reason and logic, whereas psychologists collect and analyze data. Recently, we (a philosopher and a psychologist) decided to combine these two approaches. We conducted a study on professors of philosophy to see whether their psychological traits, such as personality and well-being, predict their philosophical beliefs. We found that a few psychological traits did indeed predict certain philosophical beliefs – and we will share these findings at the end of the quiz.” Also thread—”We just launched a new, free, interactive tool for reflecting on your philosophical beliefs! Give it a try here: […] It provides you with a custom report about your beliefs and shows you how your views compare to professional philosophers and other users.”
  • Aleister Crowley: Art Of The Waste [Amazon, Bookshop UK, Publisher, Local Library] by RH (Roy Huteson) Stewart—”In 2009 Roy Huteson Stewart set out on an expedition into unknown realms to chronicle the life and times of the so-called “wickedest man in the world.” His artwork for what would become the graphic novel Aleister Crowley: Wandering the Waste is now collected in its truest, rawest form. Here are the pencils, inks, and collages depicting all the glorious filth and splendour of a life lived at the extreme limits of human knowledge and sanity. Truly an art book to savour.” See also 2014’s Aleister Crowley: Wandering the Waste [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Martin Hayes and Rh Stewart—”The life and times of Britain’s most infamous son. Occultist, genius, poet, prophet, black magician, mountaineer, drug and free-love pioneer, spy, scholar, and all-round bad egg. Hero of weirdos everywhere. Idol of Jimmy Page, The Beatles, Grant Morrison, and Alan Moore. A man who inherited many millions of pounds and died virtually penniless in a musty suit several sizes too large for him. Summoner of demons and loser of friends. A prophet who wanted to save mankind but ended his days known as “The Wickedest Man in the World.” Aleister Crowley, a man who never missed a chance to do the wrong thing.”
  • Four upcoming Cyprian-related releases from Hadean Press, in 2021–22: “A feast for Saint Cyprian: forthcoming Cyprian-related releases from Hadean Press“.
  • The Key of Solomon the King by S Liddell Mac Gregor Mathers—”Our edition of The Key of Solomon The King has been reformatted by repositioning the imagery and creating two indexes of figures – for those that are repositioned and for Mathers’ original plates – for the improved ease of use by scholar and practitioner alike.”
  • Brains to Social Sciences“—Interview with Paul Thagard, author of, most recently, Bots and Beasts: What Makes Machines, Animals, and People Smart? [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library]—”An expert on mind considers how animals and smart machines measure up to human intelligence. Octopuses can open jars to get food, and chimpanzees can plan for the future. An IBM computer named Watson won on Jeopardy! and Alexa knows our favorite songs. But do animals and smart machines really have intelligence comparable to that of humans? In Bots and Beasts, Paul Thagard looks at how computers (“bots”) and animals measure up to the minds of people, offering the first systematic comparison of intelligence across machines, animals, and humans. Thagard explains that human intelligence is more than IQ and encompasses such features as problem solving, decision making, and creativity. He uses a checklist of twenty characteristics of human intelligence to evaluate the smartest machines–including Watson, AlphaZero, virtual assistants, and self-driving cars–and the most intelligent animals–including octopuses, dogs, dolphins, bees, and chimpanzees. Neither a romantic enthusiast for nonhuman intelligence nor a skeptical killjoy, Thagard offers a clear assessment. He discusses hotly debated issues about animal intelligence concerning bacterial consciousness, fish pain, and dog jealousy. He evaluates the plausibility of achieving human-level artificial intelligence and considers ethical and policy issues. A full appreciation of human minds reveals that current bots and beasts fall far short of human capabilities.”
  • The Full Rights Dilemma for Future Robots“—”Either don’t give them full rights and risk perpetrating grievous moral wrongs against them, or do give them full rights and risk sacrificing real human interests for the sake of empty machines.”
  • Jeanette Winterson on How Artificial Intelligence Will Change the Way We Live and Love“—Interview with Jeanette Winterson about 12 Bytes: How Artificial Intelligence Will Change the Way We Live and Love [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] due October 2021—”Twelve eye-opening, mind-expanding, funny and provocative essays on the implications of artificial intelligence for the way we live and the way we love from New York Times bestselling author Jeanette Winterson. rom the New York Times-bestselling author of Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, Jeanette Winterson, comes an original and entertaining new collection drawing on her years of thinking and reading about artificial intelligence in its bewildering manifestations. She looks to history, religion, myth, literature, the politics of race and gender, and computer science to help us understand the radical changes to the way we live and love that are happening now. When we create non-biological life forms, will we do so in our own image? Or will we accept the once-in-a-species opportunity to remake ourselves in their image? What do love, caring, sex, and attachment look like when humans form connections with non-human helpers, teachers, sex workers, and companions? And what will happen to our deep-rooted assumptions about gender? Will the physical body that is our home soon be enhanced by biological and neural implants, keeping us fitter, younger, and connected? Is it time to join Elon Musk and leave Planet Earth? With wit, compassion, and curiosity, Winterson tackles AI’s most interesting talking points, from the algorithms that data-dossier your whole life, to the weirdness of backing up your brain.”
  • The Philosophical Life of Plants“—”In what ways have encounters with plants determined theory and in what ways do they continue to do so? The Philosophical Life of Plants is a research network funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, a five-way collaboration between various philosophy and literature departments, the archives of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew (London) and the Goethe- and Schiller-Archiv in Weimar. Its aim is to explore the ways in which plants and thinking have been interlinked since Goethe’s fateful Die Metamorphose der Pflanzen [The Metamorphosis of Plants](1790), the ways in which theoretical ideas have been determined by encounters with plants over the past two centuries.”
  • Ancient Pathways Between Species Are Disappearing—Fast.” Excerpt from Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] ed by Paul Hawken—”A radically new understanding of and practical approach to climate change by noted environmentalist Paul Hawken, creator of the New York Times bestseller Drawdown. Regeneration offers a visionary new approach to climate change, one that weaves justice, climate, biodiversity, equity, and human dignity into a seamless tapestry of action, policy, and transformation that can end the climate crisis in one generation. It is the first book to describe and define the burgeoning regeneration movement spreading rapidly throughout the world. Regeneration describes how an inclusive movement can engage the majority of humanity to save the world from the threat of global warming, with climate solutions that directly serve our children, the poor, and the excluded. This means we must address current human needs, not future existential threats, real as they are, with initiatives that include but go well beyond solar, electric vehicles, and tree planting to include such solutions as the fifteen-minute city, bioregions, azolla fern, food localization, fire ecology, decommodification, forests as farms, and the number one solution for the world: electrifying everything. Paul Hawken and the nonprofit Regeneration Organization are launching a series of initiatives to accompany the book, including a streaming video series, curriculum, podcasts, teaching videos, and climate action software. Regeneration is the inspiring and necessary guide to inform the rapidly spreading climate movement.”
  • Centuries Before Fifty Shades, A Runaway Hit About Kinky Sex.” About Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs, excerpt from Hurts So Good: The Science and Culture of Pain on Purpose [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Leigh Cowart—”An exploration of why people all over the world love to engage in pain on purpose–from dominatrices, religious ascetics, and ultramarathoners to ballerinas, icy ocean bathers, and sideshow performers. Masochism is sexy, human, reviled, worshipped, and can be delightfully bizarre. Deliberate and consensual pain has been with us for millennia, encompassing everyone from Black Plague flagellants to ballerinas dancing on broken bones to competitive eaters choking down hot peppers while they cry. Masochism is a part of us. It lives inside workaholics, tattoo enthusiasts, and all manner of garden variety pain-seekers. At its core, masochism is about feeling bad, then better–a phenomenon that is long overdue for a heartfelt and hilarious investigation. And Leigh Cowart would know: they are not just a researcher and science writer–they’re an inveterate, high-sensation seeking masochist. And they have a few questions: Why do people engage in masochism? What are the benefits and the costs? And what does masochism have to say about the human experience? By participating in many of these activities themselves, and through conversations with psychologists, fellow scientists, and people who seek pain for pleasure, Cowart unveils how our minds and bodies find meaning and relief in pain–a quirk in our programming that drives discipline and innovation even as it threatens to swallow us whole.”
  • Watch “Sidney Poitier, Fred Katz, and Henry L. Drake – The Philosopher-King Must Rule“—”Poitier Meets Plato is an album recorded by Warner Bros. Records and published by Jackie Barnett. The actor Sidney Poitier recites excerpts from Plato’s works over music composed and conducted by Fred Katz. The passages were arranged and selected by Henry L. Drake.” Also Amazon, Internet Archive.
  • Want to watch Olivia Colman perform a brand new lecture by Elena Ferrante?” See “Elena Ferrante Belle van Zuylen Lecture“—”Elena Ferrante will give the 13th annual Belle van Zuylen Lecture at the ILFU International Literature Festival Utrecht. She will also receive the Belle van Zuylen Ring, an international honour presented by the ILFU in collaboration with the City of Utrecht. Elena Ferrante is the author of works such as the bestselling four-part Neapolitan Novels. Ferrante’s lecture ‘A skein of written words’ will be read in Italian, English and Dutch by actresses Anna Bonaiuto, Olivia Colman en Olga Zuiderhoek. Video and podcast are exclusively available for streaming online during the ILFU Festival (23 September to 3 October 23:59 CEST). Tickets: €5. The ticket gives you access to the videos and podcasts of the lecture in all three languages (each ± 30 minutes). Make sure you watch the video’s in your desktop browser, since unfortunately not all mobile browser seem to support the streams.”
  • The House That Charles Built. Over a long career as a public intellectual, Charles Mills used his gut-punching wit and moral clarity in defense of racial justice.”
  • Do Fictional Critiques of the Wealthy Ever Really . . . Work?
  • Frankenstein First Edition Became the Most Expensive Book by a Woman“—”One of 500 original copies published on January 1, 1818, the book fetched $1.17 million at a Christie’s sale in New York City last week, nearly four times its high estimate of $300,000. It was part of the collection of the late American cable television executive Theodore B. Baum, whose impressive library of literary first editions included original works by Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, and Virginia Woolf, among others. Another highlight of the sale was an inscribed first edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula that sold for $275,000, setting an auction record for the epistolary novel. Baum’s copy of Frankenstein was especially coveted, Christie’s says, because it is uncut in the original boards (a pasteboard binding typical of 18th-century books and desirable feature for collectors). The edition, which includes a preface written by Mary’s husband, poet Percy Shelley, and a dedication to the author’s father, William Godwin, is the only set in original boards to appear at auction since 1985.”
  • A New Sketch Has Been Attributed to van Gogh“—”This week, a new work by van Gogh was announced and put on display at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The piece is dated to 1882 and is a study for a known sketch titled ‘Worn Out,’ also from the same year. ‘Study for ‘Worn Out” (1882) is an early work by the artist and an extremely rare find; for an artist with such a collector’s pedigree, the discovery of new works is relatively unusual.”
  • What would be your new legal name from the title of a book that moved you so? “I’m still thinking about the boy who legally changed his name to ‘Trout Fishing in America.’“—”I am proud of Trout. The change in names has not interrupted our relationship. I will address him as Trout because that honors his choice.” About Trout Fishing in America [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Richard Brautigan—”Richard Brautigan was a literary idol of the 1960s and ’70s who came of age during the heyday of Haight-Ashbury and whose comic genius and iconoclastic vision of American life caught the imaginations of young people everywhere. Called “the last of the Beats,” his early books became required reading for the hip generation, and on its publication Trout Fishing in America became an international bestseller. An indescribable romp, the novel is best summed up in one word: mayonnaise. This new edition features an introduction by poet Billy Collins, who first encountered Brautigan’s work as a student in California. From the introduction: ”Trout Fishing in America’ is a catchphrase that morphs throughout the book into a variety of conceptual and dramatic shapes. At one point it has a physical body that bears such a resemblance to that of Lord Byron that it is brought by ship from Missolonghi to England, in 1824, where it is autopsied. ‘Trout Fishing in America’ is also a slogan that sixth-graders enjoy writing on the backs of first-graders. . . . In one notable exhibition of the title’s variability, ‘Trout Fishing in America’ turns into a gourmet with a taste for walnut catsup and has Maria Callas for a girlfriend. Through such ironic play, Brautigan destabilizes any conventional idea of a book as he begins to create a world where things seem unwilling to stay in their customary places.'”
  • Ancient Footprints Push Back Date of Human Arrival in the Americas. Human footprints found in New Mexico are about 23,000 years old, a study reported, suggesting that people may have arrived long before the Ice Age’s glaciers melted.”
  • How Neanderthals and giant animals walked side by side on Spain’s southern coast. An analysis of 106,000-year-old markings in Matalascañas allows scientists to reconstruct how the hominids hunted straight-tusked elephants for survival.”
  • New Curtin research identifies likely cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Ground-breaking new Curtin University-led research has discovered a likely cause of Alzheimer’s disease, in a significant finding that offers potential new prevention and treatment opportunities for Australia’s second-leading cause of death.”—”The study, published in the prestigious PLOS Biology journal and tested on mouse models, identified that a probable cause of Alzheimer’s disease was the leakage from blood into the brain of fat-carrying particles transporting toxic proteins.”
  • NASA’s InSight Finds Three Big Marsquakes, Thanks to Solar-Panel Dusting“—”The lander cleared enough dust from one solar panel to keep its seismometer on through the summer, allowing scientists to study the three biggest quakes they’ve seen on Mars. On Sept. 18, NASA’s InSight lander celebrated its 1,000th Martian day, or sol, by measuring one of the biggest, longest-lasting marsquakes the mission has ever detected. The temblor is estimated to be about a magnitude 4.2 and shook for nearly an hour-and-a-half.”
  • When did dinosaurs become birds? The idea of little velociraptors that can fly is a scary thought, but not too far from reality.”—”But because close ‘raptor’ cousins of birds are known from earlier in the Jurassic, it’s likely birds first took to the skies around 170 million years ago.”
  • The Journey to Define Dimension. The concept of dimension seems simple enough, but mathematicians struggled for centuries to precisely define and understand it.”—”The notion of dimension at first seems intuitive. Glancing out the window we might see a crow sitting atop a cramped flagpole experiencing zero dimensions, a robin on a telephone wire constrained to one, a pigeon on the ground free to move in two and an eagle in the air enjoying three. But as we’ll see, finding an explicit definition for the concept of dimension and pushing its boundaries has proved exceptionally difficult for mathematicians. It’s taken hundreds of years of thought experiments and imaginative comparisons to arrive at our current rigorous understanding of the concept.”
  • Why the Universe Is Annoyed by the Astronomer Pushing a Ninth Planet. He got Pluto demoted and people are still mad.”
  • NASA converted a star’s corpse to sound and the result is surprisingly lively. The remnant of a supernova explosion plays quite a nice tune.” Also watch/listen “Data Sonification: Tycho’s Supernova Remnant“—”Space is mostly quiet. Data collected by telescopes are most often turned into silent charts, plots, and images. A “sonification” project led by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Universe of Learning transforms otherwise inaudible data from some of the world’s most powerful telescopes into sound. This effort makes it possible to experience data from cosmic sources with a different sense: hearing. Beginning in the center, the sonification of the Tycho supernova remnant expands outward in a circle. The image contains X-ray data from Chandra where the various colors represent small bands of frequency that are associated with different elements that are moving both toward and away from Earth. For example, red shows iron, green is silicon, and blue represents sulfur. The sonification aligns with those colors as the redder light produces the lowest notes and blue and violet create the higher-pitched notes. Color varies over the remnant, but the lowest and highest notes (red and blue) dominate near the center and are joined by other colors (mid-range notes) towards the edge of the remnant. White corresponds to the full range of frequencies of light observable by Chandra, which is strongest toward the edge of the remnant. This light is converted to sound in a more direct way as well, by interpreting frequencies of light as frequencies of sound and then shifting them lower by 50 octaves so that they fall within the human hearing range. The different proportions of iron, silicon, and sulfur across the remnant can be heard in the changing amounts of the low-, mid-, and high-frequency peaks in the sound. The field of stars in the image as observed by Hubble is played as notes on a harp with the pitch determined by their color.”
  • A Warning Sign of a Mass Extinction Event Is on the Rise, Scientists Say. Toxic microbial blooms thrived during the Great Dying, the most severe extinction in Earth’s history, and they are proliferating again due to human activity.”
  • Melting of polar ice shifting Earth itself, not just sea levels. Research by new Ph.D. finds warping of planet’s crust, with far-reaching effects.”
  • Watch “Senegal’s circular gardens hold back the Sahara“—”Circular, drought-resistant ‘Tolou Keur’ gardens have sprung up in Senegal, marking a more local approach to what is known as Africa’s Great Green Wall initiative.”
  • UC reactor makes Martian fuel. A gas station on Mars? Engineers envision the possibilities. Engineers at the University of Cincinnati are developing new ways to convert greenhouse gases to fuel to address climate change and get astronauts home from Mars.”
  • Mitigating Lunar Dust: Masten Completes FAST Landing Pad Study“—”One approach to mitigate dust damage would require building a landing pad prior to each mission. This traditional approach would be both costly (we estimate more than $120 million per landing pad mission) and subject to a “chicken and egg” dilemma: how do you emplace the pad without landing something in the area first? In [contrast], Masten’s FAST Landing Pad approach utilizes ceramic particles injected into rocket plume to form a coating over lunar regolith as a lander descends on the lunar surface. The particles impact the surface and solidify to build up a hard landing pad with greater thermal and ablation resistance. This approach can significantly reduce deep cratering and prevent regolith ejecta from impacting the surrounding environment. That means spacecraft can safely land anywhere on the Moon without the need for a precursor pad construction mission. The FAST Landing Pads can also maintain their structural integrity to minimize plume effects during an ascent back into lunar orbit.”
  • ‘Rainbow colours and legs for days’: Australian fly species named after drag star RuPaul. CSIRO entomologist Bryan Lessard says the soldier flies look like ‘little gems buzzing around the forest floor’.”
  • Sustainable coffee grown in Finland – the land that drinks the most coffee per capita produces its first tasty cup with cellular agriculture. VTT has successfully produced coffee cells in a bioreactor through cellular agriculture. The innovation can help to make the production of coffee more sustainable. The first batches produced by VTT in a laboratory in Finland smell and taste like conventional coffee.”
  • Strong sunlight powers passive cooling device. Sustainable electricity-free appliance can harness solar energy to reduce temperatures on hot days.”—”A simple cooling system driven by the capture of passive solar energy could provide low-cost food refrigeration and living space cooling for impoverished communities with no access to the electricity grid. The system, which has no electrical components, exploits the powerful cooling effect that occurs when certain salts are dissolved in water. After each cooling cycle, the system uses solar energy to evaporate the water and regenerate the salt, ready for reuse.”
  • UNSW Engineering graduates swap silver for copper to break solar panel efficiency record. UNSW Engineering alumni have been hailed after setting a world record for efficiency in silicon solar cells using a potentially revolutionary material.”
  • Apple’s power move to kneecap Facebook advertising is working. Apple made changes in iOS 14.5 that are creating issues for advertisers who rely on Facebook to sustain their businesses. Facebook expects people to spend less money as a result and some marketers to seek alternatives. Apple competes with Facebook’s messaging apps, and it’s working hard to build a robust ad platform of its own.”—”‘Just completely running blind’ is how Aaron Paul, a performance Facebook marketer, described it. Paul said his company, Carousel, moved from spending millions of dollars each day on Facebook to a few hundred thousand dollars. Before the iOS changes, Facebook generated 80% of the traffic Carousel sent to its product pages. Now it accounts for 20%. Apple’s iOS changes may lead to irreparable harm to Facebook’s ad business. This moment has demonstrated to Paul and his fellow performance buyers that relying on one channel (albeit a very effective one) is risky. So they’re looking to diversify their ad spend. Paul said he’s moved his ad budget elsewhere, including ‘Snapchat and TikTok, but also silent killers like email.'”
  • Apple’s Texas problem“—”Since September 1, about one in ten women have effectively been stripped of their reproductive rights. That’s when an extreme abortion ban went into effect in Texas — home to 7 million women aged 15-49. For nearly three weeks, Texas’ largest employers, whose employees are now subject to the law banning all abortions after six weeks, have responded with silence. But there are new signs that this posture is unsustainable.”
  • Bitcoin Crashed to $5,402 in Error on Network Backed by Quants. That roughly 90% plunge wasn’t mimicked elsewhere in crypto. Eye-catching error from service affiliated with top traders.”
  • Setting a Low Bar: Religious Entities Praised for Treating Covid Religious Exemptions Responsibly.”
  • The NBA’s Anti-Vaxxers Are Trying to Push Around the League—And It’s Working. Conspiracy theories in the locker room. Mask police in the arena. Superstars trying to avoid the shot. After bringing back the culture from Covid, basketball confronts its own civil war.”
  • Unions need to crush the anti-vax movement“—”In a frightening show of force, marauding fascist mobs have taken over the streets of Melbourne for three days running. They have smashed up union offices and occupied major arterials for hours. This is a disastrous development. The protests have attracted thousands of people, mostly men, largely from construction and other blue-collar industries. Small construction operators, workers—some union and others non-union—and far-right activists have united to give the impression that their movement is a rank-and-file upsurge of workers against authority.” Also “Inside three days of rage in Melbourne.”
  • Alberta COVID party sends several people to hospital with virus“—”A party west of Edmonton has landed several people in the hospital with COVID-19, sources have confirmed to CityNews. And this was no ordinary party–it was a ‘COVID party’, where guests tried to intentionally get the virus to ‘build up natural immunity’ without getting vaccinated.” “It’s just unbelievable. And it’s very sad and very irresponsible to think you’d get good immunity from the virus without getting serious disease”. “We thought originally that if we had 70 to 80 per cent of people vaccinated, we’d slow up this pandemic. But with the delta variant being more easily transmissible, we need to see herd immunity to get closer to 90 or 93 per cent.”
  • ‘The future is raising its voice’: A dire mood at UN meeting“—”Racism, climate change and worsening divisions among nations and cultures topped the agenda Wednesday as leaders from China to Costa Rica, from Finland to Turkey to the United Nations itself outlined reasons why the world isn’t working as it should — and what must be done quickly to fix it. Said one country’s president: ‘The future is raising its voice at us.’ For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began early last year, more than two dozen world leaders appeared in person at the U.N. General Assembly on the opening day of their annual high-level meeting Tuesday. In speech after speech, the atmosphere was somber, angry and dire.”
  • Thousands of acres of new woodlands to be created along England’s rivers as part of tree planting drive. Ministers hope proposals will improve water quality and help to manage flood risks.”—”More than 3,000 hectares of new woodlands are set to be planted along England’s riverbanks and watercourses as part of a new project to help manage flood risks and boost biodiversity, the government has announced.”
  • Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department won’t enforce county mask mandate.” Tweet—”feel like it should be a bigger story that counties and municipalities straight up do not have control of the armed agents of the state”
  • Women Enslaved by ISIS Say They Did Not Consent to a Film About Them. The acclaimed documentary ‘Sabaya’ portrays the rescue of Yazidi women sexually enslaved by the Islamic State terrorist group. But many of the traumatized women said they never agreed to be in the film.”—”Three of the Yazidi women in the documentary told The New York Times that they did not understand what the film’s director, Hogir Hirori, planned to do with the footage or were told that the film would not be accessible in Iraq or Syria. A fourth said she knew he was making a film, but told him she did not want to be in it. A Kurdish-Swedish doctor who helped Yazidi women also made clear that she did not want to appear in the documentary. ‘I told them I do not want to be filmed,’ said one of the Yazidi women. ‘It’s not good for me. It’s dangerous.’ Their objections have raised issues about what constitutes informed consent by traumatized survivors and about the different standards applied to documentary subjects in Western countries.”
  • The Case Not Made: A Response to Anne Applebaum’s ‘The New Puritans’“—”This will not be another essay claiming that ‘cancel culture’ does not exist, though many writers I respect have taken this line. It is a rebuttal to what was yet another poorly thought out essay from a writer who ought to know better at a publication that ought to have higher standards. I would like to draw attention to the structural factors in play for this particular issue, and the implications they have for not just our particular political moment but our future.” “If any other problem in social life was occurring at this frequency and at this scale, we would consider it effectively solved” See also “The New Puritans. Social codes are changing, in many ways for the better. But for those whose behavior doesn’t adapt fast enough to the new norms, judgment can be swift—and merciless.”
  • A Tale of Two Resignations“—”Two philosophy professors recently announced their resignations from their respective universities. Both say that their administrations failed to adequately defend their freedoms and protect them from harassment and threats. But there are some differences between the stories that affect what might be learned from them.”
  • Here’s how Pablo Neruda’s funeral became a left-wing demonstration.”—”Though Pinochet’s military junta had barred a state funeral on the grounds that the country was still under a state of siege and therefore large gatherings could not be permitted, thousands of grieving Chileans disobeyed the curfew and lined the streets to honor their national poet as his coffin, draped with the Chilean flag and covered with red and white carnations and camellias, was carried on foot across the city.”
  • File Not Found. A generation that grew up with Google is forcing professors to rethink their lesson plans.”—”Catherine Garland, an astrophysicist, started seeing the problem in 2017. She was teaching an engineering course, and her students were using simulation software to model turbines for jet engines. She’d laid out the assignment clearly, but student after student was calling her over for help. They were all getting the same error message: The program couldn’t find their files.” “Gradually, Garland came to the same realization that many of her fellow educators have reached in the past four years: the concept of file folders and directories, essential to previous generations’ understanding of computers, is gibberish to many modern students.”
  • Psychedelics Are a Billion-Dollar Business, and No One Can Agree Who Should Control It. For-profit companies want psychedelics to be treated as medicine; others want them to just be legal. They’ll have to learn to get along.”
  • What Brooklyn Dirt Bike Teens Have in Common With My Midwestern Stepdad. It’s dirt bikes.”—”The defining characteristic of American governance in the 21st century is that we’ll spend any amount of money crushing symbols of problems rather than actually spend any time thinking about how to solve them.”
  • Belabored: The Legacy of Occupy Wall Street, with Ruth Milkman and Nastaran Mohit. Though the occupation didn’t last long, it shaped many subsequent campaigns and movements, including in organized labor.” Podcast episode.
  • Marvel Suing to Keep Rights to ‘Avengers’ Characters From Copyright Termination. Blockbuster lawsuits filed today will decide future ownership of characters including Iron Man and Spider-Man.” Hot Take: Neither Disney nor the heirs did the artwork or the work. They can squabble, but the public should be guaranteed that the work will move into the public domain, not be forever owned. Meanwhile, Disney has and will make obscene amounts of money, and they should not be allowed to throw fractions of pennies at all the people doing the actual work either the original comics or the movies during their lifetime, and, presumably, some kind of reparations for exploitation. There’s nothing good here. It’s all rotten.
  • From 2019: “In ‘Alien’ Horror Comes In The Form of Labor Exploitation. In space, no one can hear you scream. But, in space, can anyone hear you work? Ridley Scott’s sci-fi masterpiece asks that question.”
  • AUKUS makes workers pay for war with China“—”We are witnessing an aggressive build-up by the US and its allies for a confrontation with China. The Biden administration is making massive upgrades to the US’s military capacity, and sharply reorienting it to focus on China. At the same time, the US is waging a propaganda war against China and attempting to rally its allies, including the so-called Quad countries of India, Japan and Australia, to form an anti-China bloc. The Australian government has made it crystal clear over recent years that it is very much on board with this US project.”
  • Beam Me Up, Jeffy … GOING INTO SPACE WITH BLUE ORIGIN!!!”—”Decades after he last played the role, William Shatner’s going to become a real-life Captain Kirk … because he’s going to space … on Jeff Bezos’ rocket ship … TMZ has learned.”
  • The Historical Regatta Revives the Pomp and Pageantry of 15th-Century Venice“—”For a fleeting few hours on Sunday, September 5, the Grand Canal of Venice evoked the vivid views painted by Carpaccio and Canaletto. The Bucintoro, the bissonas, and other ancient boats, like strange beasts that wake up for a day from a year-long sleep, plied the waters they used to rule. And in the imperceptible manner in which these waters are permanently changing, the city has kept transforming in subtle yet important ways since it was first built in the 5th century by people, it is believed, who were fleeing the barbarians’ invasions of the dying Western half of the Roman Empire. The Historical Regatta reenacts in full pomp and pageantry the return to Venice of Caterina Corner, Queen of Cyprus, Armenia, and Jerusalem, in 1489. This year’s naval procession can be considered the first one to restore the much-anticipated event to its pre-COVID glory, as the 2020 regatta was a more humble affair.”
  • Can Mummified Cats Help Unravel the Mysteries of Ancient Dyes?“—”Thousands of animals — from crocodiles to cobras, down to scarab beetles — were once mummified in ancient Egypt. New analysis of the dyes on the textiles that tightly bound these mummies is now helping scientists rewrite the history of color.”
  • Wait. Whut? Bees tell Murder Hornets to hold their beer. “Bee swarm kills 63 endangered penguins in South Africa.” Also watch “WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES – Dozens of South African penguins killed by bees.”
  • Why are hyperlinks blue?“—”It was just a fact of life. Grass is green and hyperlinks are blue. Culturally, we associate links with the color blue so much that in 2016, when Google changed its links to black, it created quite a disruption. But now, I find myself all consumed by the question, WHY are links blue? WHO decided to make them blue? WHEN was this decision made, and HOW has this decision made such a lasting impact? I turned to my co-workers to help me research, and we started to find the answer. Mosaic, an early browser released by Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina on January 23, 1993, had blue hyperlinks. To truly understand the origin and evolution of hyperlinks though, I took a journey through technology history and interfaces to explore how links were handled before color monitors, and how interfaces and hyperlinks rapidly evolved once color became an option.” “April 12, 1993 – Mosaic Version 0.13. In the changelog for Mosaic for version 0.13, there is one bullet that is of great importance to us: Changed default anchor representations: blue and single solid underline for unvisited, dark purple and single dashed underline for visited.” “What happened in 1993 to suddenly make hyperlinks blue? No one knows, but I have some theories.”
  • Pico8Lisp—”Pico8lisp is a small lisp interpreter built on PICO-8 virtual machine! You can find a walkthrough of the programming language features on my github
  • Looney Labs Unveils Two New ‘Star Trek Fluxx’ Expansions. ‘Archer Expansion’ and ‘Porthos Expansion’.”—”Looney Labs unveiled two new expansion for Star Trek Fluxx, Archer Expansion and Porthos Expansion, for release on October 15. The Archer Expansion revolves around Captain Archer and the Temporal Cold War from Star Trek: Enterprise. This pack includes Daniels, a Temporal Rift, and the Xindi as well as a new Meta Rule called Combined Decks. It contains 16 cards that can be combined with any of the four standalone Star Trek Fluxx games. Porthos Expansion is a more light-hearted expansion that focuses on Archer’s beagle on the Enterprise, Porthos. Porthos is accompanied by Dr. Phlox, Spot, a famous Klingon, Kor, and a bottle of Romulan Ale. This set also contains a new action, a new rule, and comes with 16 cards that can also be combined with any of the four standalone Star Trek Fluxx games. Each new expansion will retail for $5.”
  • Watch “Vikings: Valhalla | First Look | Netflix”—Now is our time to make history. A new era of warriors will rise in Vikings: Valhalla, coming to Netflix in 2022.
  • Watch “The Orville: New Horizons I Date Announcement I Hulu”—”New home. New missions. The Orville: New Horizons arrives March 10, 2022.”
  • Watch “Cowboy Bebop | Opening Credits | Netflix”—”It’s time to blow this scene. Who’s in? Cowboy Bebop arrives Nov. 19.”
  • Watch “Hellbound | Date Announcement | Netflix”—”Executors of Hell appear out of nowhere to condemn individuals to be hellbound. In the midst of this mayhem, a religious group preaching questionable truths grows in influence. The release date has been confirmed for director Yeon Sang-ho’s Hellbound. The gates of Hell open on November 19th. Only on Netflix.”
  • Watch “How We Can Make Solarpunk A Reality“—”Solarpunk is a vision of the future that we can implement today. Here are just a few ways to get started!”
  • Watch “The Bookwalker – Announcement trailer“—”You’re a Bookwalker — a thief with an ability to dive into books. You are forced to use your powers to track and steal famous items like Thor’s Hammer and the Excalibur for clients, to regain your ability to write again.”
  • Watch “The Long Dark — Episode Four — FURY, THEN SILENCE — Teaser“—”Imagine the lights go out, never to return. Bright aurora flare across the sky, and all humanity’s technological might is laid to waste, neutralized in a kind of quiet apocalypse. Everything that has shielded humanity from the disinterested power of Mother Nature is suddenly wrenched from us, dropping us a few links down the food chain. Food and water are scarce. The roads are no longer safe. And winter approaches… Welcome to The Long Dark —an immersive survival simulation set in the aftermath of a geomagnetic disaster. Experience a unique first-person survival simulation that will force you to think and push you to your limits with its thought-provoking gameplay.”
  • Watch “Arcane | Official Trailer | Netflix”—”From the creators of League of Legends comes a new animated series, Arcane. Set in the utopian region of Piltover and the oppressed underground of Zaun, the story follows the origins of two iconic League champions-and the power that will tear them apart. Coming to Netflix Fall 2021.” “I believe I have discovered something incredible. A way to harness magic through science.”
  • Watch “Road to Season 2 Trailer | The Witcher”—”You can’t escape the monster within. The Witcher Season 2 premieres December 17 on Netflix.”
  • Watch “Stranger Things 4 | Creel House | Netflix”
  • Watch “The Sandman | First Look | Netflix”—”The Lord of Dreams has been summoned, and captured, by mortal men. Once free from his captivity, this eternal ruler of Dreams will realize that his troubles are only just beginning. The Sandman is a Netflix series based on the groundbreaking comic book series created for DC by Neil Gaiman. The series is Executive Produced by Neil Gaiman, Allan Heinberg, & David S. Goyer.”
  • Watch “The Worst Person In The World – Official Teaser“—”The Worst Person in The World is a modern dramedy about the quest for love and meaning in contemporary Oslo. It chronicles four years in the life of Julie (Reinsve), a young woman who navigates the troubled waters of her love life and struggles to find her career path, leading her to take a realistic look at who she really is.”
  • Watch “The Way Down: God, Greed and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin | Official Trailer | HBO Max”—”After rising to fame with her Weigh Down Workshop, a Christian-based diet program that preached slenderness as next to godliness, Gwen Shamblin Lara founded the Tennessee-based church. Despite a carefully curated image, Lara and the church soon fielded accusations of emotional, psychological, and physical abuse, and exploitation for their alleged cult-like practices. Encompassing years of investigation and extensive interviews with former members and others personally impacted, Directed by Emmy®-Award winning biographical filmmaker Marina Zenovich, THE WAY DOWN explores the legacy of Remnant’s infamous leader – whose life came to a shocking end after a plane crash in May 2021. Stream The Way Down: God, Greed and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin on September 30 on HBO Max”
  • Watch “Tiny Tina Wonderlands Official Trailer Song “Gimme Chocolate”“—Babymetal’s Gimme Chocolate
  • The Companion by David Fazzio, from Studio 46—”A cinematic gaming experience. Play as an animal in the spiritual realm. Explore a magical world. Collect Essence and find Artifacts. Journey across seven majestic landscapes and witness the emotional story of a family as they tackle the challenges ahead of them.”
  • From the Soylent Green dept: “Trulacta. The World’s only supplement that’s 100% human milk. A revolution in whole-body health. Formulated by nature. Perfected by science. From the Body, For the Body. For the first time in human history, technological advancements have allowed scientists to create a supplement containing Human Milk Bionutrients™ (HMBs™), which are entirely derived from human milk.”

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.