This note used to say that the links appear in the order I read them and was meant to imply that they were more or less random in their subject matter, other than being of interest to me. Recently I started a few new sections at the bottom of the links on subjects that are of particular interest to me. But I can see that as time passes I am moving to a greater degree of "curation", which the dictionary tell me is about organizing and maintaining a collection. Applied to this collection of links and books I guess this will mean selecting links less randomly and trying to make them relevant in the context of this blog and whatever is going on in the world during the month.
- Book Review: Twelve Rules For Life, by Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex
This book review has Jordan Peterson summed up quite nicely: "a mildly competent purveyor of pseudo-religious platitudes." Or in other words, not something I am particularly interested in. And while I haven't read the book, I did listen to Peterson explaining all twelve rules on YouTube. He's one of those guys who sounds good on his own, until you hear other people looking at his ideas in detail and explaining what's wrong with them. To me, he doesn't seem to stand up under the harsh light of critical examination.
- Toronto’s Epic Housing Bubble Turns to Bust, by Wolf Richter, Wolf Street.
Prices of detached houses plunge C$207,000 from a year ago as sales collapse.
- Are GMOs killing bees? by Stephan Neidenbach, Medium
- 50% Of Proved Oil Reserves May Have Just Vanished, by Ron Patterson, OilPrice.com
Peak oil is far from dead!
- The Scariest Thing About Facebook Isn't Even How It Treats Your Data, by Jeff Bercovici, Inc.,
Its power to influence users makes Facebook a tool for "mass population control," and Mark Zuckerberg's utopian goals only increase the danger.
- Science Discovered That Banning Small Talk from Your Conversations Makes You Happier (Try Asking These 13 Questions Instead), by Marcel Schwantes, Inc.com
"It's time to delete questions like 'what do you do?' and 'where do you live?' from your vocabulary forever."
Some of their 13 questions strike me a pretty dumb, and likely to be conversation stoppers rather than starters, but on the whole I am on side with this, and lucky to have friends who enjoy serious talk.
- Tesla Temporarily Shutting Down Model 3 Production, by Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge
Lots of people in the comments predicting that the factory will never reopen. It will be interesting to see what happens.
- Transcript: James Comey's Full Interview With Steve Inskeep And Carrie Johnson, by Carrie Johnson and Steve Inskeep, NPR
- How to Be a Pacifist in a Gun-Loving Country, by Frida Berrigan, The Nation
True security lies not in arming ourselves against other people, but in connecting with them.
- The fourth industrial revolution is cancelled, by Tim Watkins, The Consciousness of Sheep
- How is it possible that nobody died during the Fukushima nuclear accident? 11 answers on Quora, most of them quite good.
- How To Leave Toxic Diet Culture Behind And Pursue Actual Health, by Ragen Chastain, Medium--Better Humans
The real data behind weight loss research points to a radically different approach to healthy living.
- Jeff Bezos Banned PowerPoint in Meetings. His Replacement Is Brilliant, by Carmine Gallo, Inc.com
"Narrative memos have replaced PowerPoint presentations at Amazon. Here are three reasons why."
I generally have little use for the supposed wisdom of big business people, but in this case I think they have a point.
- Exclusion Labels, Science Denial, Boneless Watermelons and $8 Burritos, by Kevin Folta, Medium
- Actually, Guns Do Kill People, by Mike Konczal, The Nation
"The research is now clear: Right-to-carry laws increase the rate of violent crime."
- How "post-truth" entered the political mainstream, Michael Enright interviews Lee McIntyre, The Sunday Edition, CBC Radio
KMO, of the C-Realm.com, gave me a bit of a tuning up a while back about criticizing things I haven't even read, in connection with The Bell Curve. I now have a copy of that book and am slugging my way slowly through it. But I've also been keeping an eye out for more rigorous criticism of the book, and this has led me down quite a trail of links. The ones I've actually read are listed below:
- The Skewed Logic of the Bell-Shaped Curve, by Diane F. Halpern, Skeptic.com
A negative review of The Bell Curve:
"Commenting on The Bell Curve is a lot like trying to catch a ball of jello. The arguments are slick and, like most skilled rhetoricians who are attempting to change how people think, the authors provide a veneer of fairness to cover the flaws and biases in their message."
- Charles Murray is once again peddling junk science about race and IQ: podcaster and author Sam Harris is the latest to fall for it. By Eric Turkheimer, Kathryn Paige Harden, and Richard E. Nisbett, Vox
"Asserting that the relatively poorer intellectual performance of racial groups is based on their genes is mistaken theoretically and unfounded empirically; and given the consequences of promulgating the policies that follow from such assertions, it is egregiously wrong morally."
"Our bottom line is that there is a responsible, scientifically informed alternative to Murrayism: a non-essentialist view of intelligence, a non-deterministic view of behavior genetics, and a view of group differences that avoids oversimplified biology."
- Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns, The Report of a Task Force Established by the American Psychological Association, February 1996
The scientific consensus on intelligence as of 1996.
- Intelligence: New Findings and Theoretical Developments, by:
Richard E. Nisbett et al, published in The American Psychologist, February-March 2012
The scientific consenus on intelligence, updated as of 2012.
Poverty, Homelessness, Minimum Wage
- The Sharp, Sudden Decline of America's Middle Class, by Jeff Tietz, Rolling Stone
They had good, stable jobs - until the recession hit. Now they're living out of their cars in parking lots. I think this will become more and more common over the next few years.
"The Great Recession cost 8 million Americans their jobs. Three years after the economy technically entered recovery, there are positions available for fewer than one out of every three job seekers. In this labor market, formerly middle-class workers like Curtis and Concita Cates and Janis Adkins and Sean Kennan cannot reliably secure even entry-level full-time work, and many will never again find jobs as lucrative and stable as those they lost. Long-term unemployment tarnishes résumés and erodes basic skills, making it harder for workers to regain high-paying jobs, and the average length of unemployment is currently at a 60-year high. Many formerly middle-class people will never be middle-class again. Self-identities derived from five or 10 or 40 years of middle-class options and expectations will capsize."
- Without a Home, LA Times
"They're part of the Los Angeles streetscape, as familiar as the swaying palm trees and idling traffic, living under freeways, alongside riverbeds and on canyon hillsides. The mentally ill, the drug addicts, the economically disadvantaged, many with their life belongings in a backpack or shopping cart. In this ongoing series, Without a Home, The Times is examining the crisis of homelessness in our region."
- Homeless in Seattle, by Ethan Epstein, The Weekly Standard
"The relationship between rising rents and increased homelessness is particularly strong in four metros currently experiencing a crisis in homelessness—Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., and Seattle."
"With rents rising faster than incomes, we need to bring everybody to the table to produce more affordable housing and ease the pressure that is forcing too many of our neighbors into our shelters and onto our streets."
- What Puerto Rico can teach us about surviving climate change, by Jane Palmer, The Indepentent
"Puerto Rico’s key weapon in the face of climate change is its culture of community, as it has demonstrated in abundance in the recovery efforts: grassroots volunteer groups, neighbours helping neighbours, people drawing together to rebuild houses, find supplies and distribute food and water. Mendez Lazaro says that the government needs to recognise this powerful asset and work with it in building more resilience into the island: “We have the potential to recover, and that is because of the communities."
- Puerto Rico's power outage is now the second-largest blackout on record, by Doug Criss, CNN
- Puerto Rico Loses Power — Again, by Camila Domonoske, The Two Way, Breaking News from NPR
- The Dangers of (Self-)Driving Cars, by Melinda Sacks, Stanford Magazine
Stanford researchers zero in on the safety challenges of autonomous vehicles.
This article does a good job of raising some of the ethical issues with self driving cars, but it completely buys into popular ideas about the benefits of autonomous cars, about which I am very skeptical.
- Uber’s negligence killed someone. It can’t be allowed to happen again, by Paris Marx, Medium
Take note of the chart about half way down in the article. I wouldn't have guessed that Uber and Tesla are near the rear of the pack among companies developing autonomous vehicles, but apparently so.
- What Uber’s Fatal Accident Could Mean for the Autonomous Car Industry, by MIT Technology Review, Medium
"The first pedestrian death leads some to ask whether the industry is moving too fast to deploy the technology." “The sensors probably didn’t pick her up, or the algorithm didn’t understand what it’s seeing.”
"...the Uber accident raises questions about the ability of safety drivers to monitor systems effectively, especially after long hours of testing..."
- Caliban's War, by James S. A. Corey
- Abbadon's Gate, by James S. A. Corey
- Gunpowder Moon, by David Pedreira
- Cibola Burn, by James S. A. Corey
This month I've been bogged down reading one non-fiction book, which I haven't finished yet. So instead of what I've been reading this month, here are some gems from my bookshelf:
- Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, by Daniel Dennett
- God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, by Christopher Hitchens
- The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins
- Did Man Create God?, by David Comings
Is Your Spiritual Brain at Peace With Your Thinking Brain?
- Build Your Own Earth Oven: A Low-Cost Wood-Fired Mud Oven, Simple Sourdough Bread, Perfect Loaves, 3rd Edition, by Kiko Denzer
In 2009/10 I build one of these ovens. It bakes great bread.