Interview: Dr. Karl E H Seigfried talks Ásatrú, Heathenry and beards

A few weeks back, we pushed out a post about the fact that Heathens serving in the U.S. Army are now allowed to sport a beard as part of their faith. In the story, I mentioned that a group that stands for heathens serving in the military stated that the growing of a beard wasn’t a tenet of Heathenry. Given that Ásatrú, Heathenry and Paganism have been used to describe a wide number of belief systems and religions, I wasn’t sure if making a basket statement like this was factually correct. Fortunately, I know someone who does.

Dr. Karl E.H. Seigfried was the first Ásatrú to earn a graduate degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School. While at the university, he was President of Interfaith Dialogue and served on the Spiritual Life Council, the advisory board for the Spiritual Life Office. He holds degrees in literature and music from University of California at San Diego, University of Wisconsin at Madison, and University of Texas at Austin. He studied literature and art history at Loyola University Chicago, Rome Center, in Italy and took Icelandic language courses through University of Iceland's distance learning program.

Dr. Seigfried currently works at the Illinois Institute of Technology as an Adjunct Professor in Humanities and as a Pagan Chaplain. He’s Goði (priest) of Thor’s Oak Kindred—a Chicago-based organization, dedicated to the practice of the Ásatrú faith and a member of the Troth Clergy Program. Previously, Dr. Seigfried taught Norse mythology and religion at Loyola University Chicago, Carthage College, and the Newberry Library Seminars Program. Read the rest

GDPR: Don't forget to bring a towel!

May 25 is Towel Day, when fans of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy jokingly adorn a towel and praise the household item as if it prepares the owner for any sticky situation. Author Douglas Adams was a master of these tongue-in-cheek references to our modern existence, helping the reader (and listener) feel as if they might one day walk across their livingroom and into a silly, star-spanning adventure.

Ireland's referendum results: legalised abortion projected to win "by a landslide"

Ireland's no-exceptions-made abortion ban was one of the cruelest and most inhumane in the world, and after years of struggle, the country has finally held a referendum to amend its constitution and strike down the abortion ban in Article 8; the official count isn't out, but the Irish Times has called it for the reformers, in a "landslide," with a projected 68%-32% margin. Read the rest

Congressional staffers for Rep. Tom Garrett [R-VA] say they were used as "personal servants"

Politico spoke to four former congressional staffers who'd been assigned to Rep. Tom Garrett [R-VA] who say that the Congressman and his wife treated the staff as "personal servants," demanding that they run personal errands for the Congressman and his family (including handling his dog's feces), and that they were expected to do these things at all hours. Read the rest

Upward-facing Han Solo in carbonite yoga mat

Onnit's $65 Solo Yoga Mat features a lifesize Han-in-Carbon for you to perform upward-facing Jabba on. (via Cnet) Read the rest

Weekend Tunes: Tom Waits' Hell Broke Luce

Memorial Day is upon us. As you enjoy the long weekend, don't forget what that extra day off you're getting this month represents: lower your flags to half mast. Honor the fallen. Celebrate the living who would put themselves between us and harm's way. Read the rest

This movie about a 1300-year-old family business is the most sublime thing you'll see today

Built in 718 AD, Hōshi is the second oldest ryokan (hotel or inn) in the world and, with 46 consecutive generations of the same family running it, is hands down the longest running known family business in history. But, after 1300 years of tradition, change is in the air. The Hōshi ryokan, in Komatsu, Japan, is a beautiful space that has a beautiful story, told well, in this short video by filmmaker Fritz Schumann. Read the rest

Collaborating in Fortnite

Fortnite is popular for tons of reasons, but chief among it is the "battle royale" style of combat -- 100 random players dropped on an island, foraging for defenses and weapons, and killing each other until only one is left standing. There's no in-game chat, so you have to assume that anyone you encounter is a threat. In such a situation, it's necessarily dog-eat-dog, yes?

Nope. As Robin Sloan -- one of my fave writers and thinkers -- discovered, it's also possible to hack a form of cooperation.

It works like this: Sloan unlocked an upgrade that lets you display a "heart" icon above your head. So he tried using it as a single-bit mode of game-theoretical communication. When he was dropped into the game, upon encountering another player, he'd refrain from shooting -- and instead toss up the "heart" icon.

At first, it didn't work. The other player kept on killing him anyway. Until ...

Then, one night, it worked. And, in many games since, it’s worked again. Mostly I get blasted, but sometimes I don’t, and when I don’t, the possibilities bloom. Sometimes, after we face off and stand down, the other player and I go our separate ways. More frequently, we stick together. I’ve crossed half the map with impromptu allies.

When it works, it is usually because I have a weapon and my potential ally doesn’t. When (shockingly) I do not blast them and (even more shockingly) do not pull a bait and switch, a real human connection is established, on a channel deeper than any afforded by the interface.

Read the rest

Good riddance to Klout, horseman of the influencer apocalypse

Social rating site Klout saw where society was heading with influencer marketing, but like many bad ideas that were a little ahead of their time, Klout will not live on to see the devastation they helped usher in. Read the rest

This #PEANUTSBBQ t-shirt shows Marcie of 'The Peanuts' gang as the BBQ snitch

So THAT'S what happened to Marcie. She became the BBQ snitch. Read the rest

Nkechi Diallo, formerly Rachel Dolezal, charged with welfare fraud

Nkechi Diallo, formerly known as Rachel Dolezal, was charged with welfare fraud this week over payments totaling about $9,000, received between 2015 and 2017. As Dolezal, she served as the Spokane Chapter NAACP President, but became infamous after it was found that her biological parents were white.

According to court documents, Diallo illegally received $8,747 in food assistance, and illegally received $100 in childcare assistance. Total restitution, according to the documents, is $8,847, allegedly stolen from August 2015 through November 2017.

The tl;dr: she kept signing on after getting a book deal and other income that put her beyond the threshold for assistance.

Previously: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Rachel Dolezal, Isaac Hayes, and Al Jolson Read the rest

Facebook moderation guidelines leaked

"White supremacy" is forbidden on Facebook, but "white nationalism" is OK. They know it's bullshit, elsewhere talking of "overlaps with white nationalism/separatism," but it's what they've got. Motherboard got the docs.

Facebook has increasingly dealt head on with hate speech in recent months, sometimes with mixed results. In December, Facebook admitted to Pro Publica the social network had made mistakes on nearly half of a sample of potentially offensive posts. This month, Facebook accidentally launched a new feature early that would let users flag content for potentially containing hate speech.

In April, Facebook released a selection of rules for when it takes down content, including hate speech. VP of Global Product Management Monika Bickert told reporters that “There’s been a lot of research about how when institutions put their policies out there, people change their behavior, and that’s a good thing.” Facebook did release a sketch of its moderation policies in April, but the material obtained by Motherboard is more granular.

Read the rest

Watch this guy solve a 17x17x17 Rubik's Cube in under 5 hours

Russian speed-cuber Evgeny Bondarenko decided to tackle the biggest challenge on the market today: solving the 17x17x17 Rubik's Cube. Talk about concentration! Read the rest

Listen to noted perv Bob Crane improv an ad for "Man, Oh Manischewitz"

"Red Coke," aka Riunite on Ice, was largely inspired by the 1940s "Man, Oh Manischewitz" ads. Here, voiceover genius Bob Crane does several impressions for that Robitussin-adjacent wine beloved by middle-class boomers both Jewish and gentile. Read the rest

Interview with Scotty Allen, host of the Strange Parts Youtube channel

My Cool Tools podcast guest this week is Scotty Allen. Scotty is a nomadic engineer, entrepreneur, adventurer and storyteller who orbits around San Francisco and Shenzhen, China. He runs a YouTube channel Strange Parts, a travel adventure show for geeks where he goes on adventures ranging from building his own iPhone in China to trying to make a manhole cover in India.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Show notes:

1080P HDMI digital camera video microscope ($299)

“So one of the things that I have gotten an outsized amount of value from over the past year has been this microscope that I bought here in the electronics markets in China. It's a no-brand-name microscope that I got from a little tiny microscope booth in the market, and it's really been this incredibly high-leverage tool for me, and I didn't realize how much I was missing out until I bought it. It's been really great for doing detail work. And I use it for really small soldering work on iPhones and related circuit boards … It's a binocular microscope. It's not super high magnification, but because it's binocular you get depth of field, and so you can really see well. So you can look through the microscope and work underneath it with tweezers or a soldering iron or other tools and in great depth see what you're doing."

Frame.io

"Frame.io is an online tool that I use for collaborating on the videos I'm making. Read the rest

Turns out that python eggs stick to each other for a bunch of good reasons

YouTuber Retic over at Prehistoric Pets TV has a huge collection of pythons and other ancient creatures. Here he shows how and why a clutch of python eggs can be lifted up in giant sticky clumps. Read the rest

Puget Sound mussels are failing drug tests

If you’ve been using or abusing an opioid, then your pee’s been full of opioids. When your opioid-laced pee gets flushed away, those opioids wind up in our water: our reservoirs, streams and oceans.

And that, friends, is why mussels are failing drug tests.

According to CBS News, scientists at Washington’s Department of Fish & Wildlife have found evidence that the dregs of the opioids we consume and then whiz out are now present enough in the waters around Seattle that mussels are testing positive for oxycodone. As mussels are filter feeders, they tend to soak up environmental contaminants into their tissues in large concentrations.

From CBS News:

Happily, mussels don't metabolize drugs like oxycodone and thus wouldn't necessarily be physically harmed by the presence of it in their tissues, studies show that fish are not so lucky. In fact, scientists at the University of Utah recently discovered that, if given the opportunity, zebrafish will willingly dose themselves with opioids. Scientists say salmon and other fish might have a similar response.

The Puget Sound Institute notes that the amounts of opioids detected were thousands of times smaller than a typical human dose. And none of the mussels tested are near any commercial shellfish beds.

So the shellfish are safe, but man are we screwed.

That the opioid levels in the mussels have become high enough to be detectable says a lot about the amount of painkillers that we, as a society, are using and abusing, let alone the environmental impact we as a species can have, simply by going to the bathroom. Read the rest

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