This month, I've moved further in the direction of curating this list and added new sections for topics that particularly interest me. In the context of this blog, that is—I'm leaving out woodworking articles, recipes and most politics, so far.
I don't put a great deal of effort into hunting for articles on any particular topic, so the size of each section will vary from month to month. Also, for the most part, the articles are listed in the order I found them.
- Could grandmotherly love help to explain how we became human? by John Poole, NPR/Aeon
- Bravery and Faith, by, Umair Haque, Medium—a book of nights
A Little Story About Now
- What the Media Got Wrong About Ocasio-Cortez’s Triumph, by The Nation
“I can’t name a single issue with roots in race that doesn’t have economic implications, and I cannot think of a single economic issue that doesn’t have racial implications. The idea that we have to separate them out and choose one is a con.”
- Think everyone died young in ancient societies? Think again , by Christine Cave, Aeon
- GMO Foods Aren't Dangerous, Today I Watched, by Nameless Network
- Do men have it easier? For these transgender guys, the truth is more complex, by Tara Bahrampour, Washington Post/Chicago Tribune
- Ted Nordhaus Is Wrong: We Are Exceeding Earth’s Carrying Capacity, by Richard Heinberg, UD (undark): Truth, Beauty, Science
The core of Nordhaus’ case is that we are now living in a magical society that is immune to the ecological law of gravity.
- The oil party is over, and so is our food party, by Norman Pagett, Medium
Overall this is a good article. I don't agree about our predisposition to violence—it more a function of the amount of energy available to fuel conflict. And I also don't agree that we are unlikely to change. Cataclysmic events make a proportionally big impression on people.
- The Oil We Eat—Following the Food Chain back to Iraq , by Richard Manning, Resilience/Harpers
Inaccurate in its characterization of conditions in feedlots, this article is otherwise quite good in making the connection between food and oil. Cattle in feed lots are not packed in with little room to move, they are not standing in manure up to the knees, they are only given antibiotics when they are actually sick, and they are not butchered until the antibiotics have left their systems. Having said that, I have to say I prefer grass fed beef.
- Texas Annual Oil & Gas Production, from upstreamdb.com
Appears (to me) to show a big surge with the advent of fracking and then a serious drop off in 2017 and 2018.
- On Oil, by Rob Mielcarski, un-Denial
- Saudi retreat on oil IPO highlights dearth of reliable information on world oil reserves, by Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights
- Iran leader backs suggestion to block Gulf oil exports if own sales stopped, from Reuters
- The oil market gets whiplash, and investors should expect more crude volatility, by Gina Sqanchez, CNBC
- The Climate Has Always Changed. Why Is This Time so Much Worse? by Marlene Cimons, Medium—Nexus Media
An interview with climate scientists Katrin Meissner and Alan C. Mix
- When The Weather Is Extreme, Is Climate Change To Blame?
by Laurel Wamsley , NPR Environment
Climate scientists say yes — though it's complicated.
- Rising seas stealing back Solomon Islands communities, with Dr. Simon Albert, University of Queensland
Over the next century, scientists expect sea-level rise to be one of humanity’s greatest challenges, with ecosystems, communities and infrastructure all under threat.
- The American South Will Bear the Worst of Climate Change’s Costs, by Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic
Global warming will intensify regional inequality in the United States, according to a revolutionary new economic assessment of the phenomenon.
- How American Economics is Ruining Your Life, by Umair Haque, Medium, Eudaimonia
Why America Collapsed Instead of Joining the Modern World
The Scientific Consensus
- Meditation under the microscope, by Ute Kreplin, Aeon
It’s hailed as the panacea for everything from cancer to war. Does research into its efficacy meet scientific standards?
- Horticultural Myths, by Linda Chalker-Scott, Washington State University
- The Myth of Organic Superiority, by Diane Chalker-Scott, Washington State University
- The Myth of Biodynamic Agriculture, by Diane Chalker-Scott, Washington State University
- The Myth of Absolute Science, by Diane Chalker-Scott, Washington State University
- The Myth of Companion Plantings, by Diane Chalker-Scott, Washington State University
Lacking an Owner's Manual
The human body/mind/spirit doesn't come with an owner's manual, and we continually struggle to figure out how best to operate them.
I just started this category this month and the moment I did articles that fit started popping up everywhere I looked, so the list is probably a little unbalanced in this direction this month.
- How a Young Woman Lost Her Identity, by Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker
Hannah Upp disappears for weeks at a time, forgetting her sense of self. Can she still be found?
- "Find Your Passion" Is Awful Advice, by Olga Khazan, Medium—The Atlantic
A major new study questions the common wisdom about how we should choose our careers.
- What Do 90-Somethings Regret Most?, by Lydia Sohn, Medium
I interviewed the oldest people I know. Their responses contradict popular research about aging and happiness.
- Why you shouldn’t share your goals, by Aytekin Tank, Medium—The Startup
- Caves all the way down, by Jules Evans, Aeon
Do psychedelics give access to a universal, mystical experience of reality, or is that just a culture-bound illusion?
"...how do we know if our trips reveal ‘ultimate reality’ or just the reflection of our subconscious?"
It may be that this should have gone in the "scientific consensus" section, since it is written by someone with a preconceived notion who is willing "hold his ideas to critical account" (and good for him):
"I am a fan of the mystical theory of psychedelics. I have accepted it since I first read Huxley’s Doors of Perception as a mushroom-munching teenager. I have had mystical-type experiences on psychedelics that have been deeply important in my life (as well as some awful experiences). However, like all academics, I need to be able to hold my ideas to critical account, or otherwise stop pretending to be a researcher and leave the academy to start a religion (as Timothy Leary did in 1966 with the League for Spiritual Discovery, which used LSD as its holy sacrament). So, in the spirit of critical enquiry, I want to suggest that there are several problems with the mystical theory of psychedelics."
- The Wisdom of the Sloth: Is Sleep a Lost Virtue?, by Joel Frohlich , Knowing Neurons
"We are with sleep where we were with smoking 50 years ago. We had all of the evidence about the … disease issues, but the public had not been aware, no one had adequately communicated the science of, you know, smoking to the public. The same I think is true for sleep right now."
- How Do I Stop Forgetting What I Learned So Quickly?, by William Cho, Medium—Student Voices
- 'Boy or girl?' Parents raising 'theybies' let kids decide, by Julie Compton, NBC News
"One way of shielding children from gender stereotypes: Keep their biological sex secret."
I suspect there are quite a few socially conservative people around who will have trouble with this and make trouble for children being raised a theybies. Just chill.
- You Might Not Actually Be Struggling With Depression, by Benjamin Sledge, Medium—Heart Support
But you may be dealing with depression’s lesser known evil twin.
- Searching for Justice: The Discovery of IQ Gains Over Time, by James R. Flynn, University of Otago
Flynn nicely refutes The Bell Curve.
- Three Laws of Behavior Genetics and What They Mean
, by Eric Turkheimer, University of Virginia
- The Fourth Law of Behavior Genetics, by Christopher F. Chabris et all, author manuscript
Refugees and Migration
- Frequently asked questions on climate change and disaster displacement, by UNHCR, The UN RefugeeAgency
Displacement linked to climate change is not a future hypothetical – it’s a current reality.
- How Water Scarcity Shapes the World's Refugee Crisis , by Circle of Blue, EcoWatch
- HRW slams 'appalling' conditions of migrant camps in northern Greece, from ekathimerini.com
- Number of migrants prevented by Turkey to reach Europe increases 60 pct, by İZMİR – Anadolu Agency, Hurriyet Daily News
- This Hurricane Season, Puerto Ricans Are Imagining a Sustainable Future, by Celia Bottger, The Nation
Puerto Rican movements are rebuilding their island in a way that not only enhances climate resilience, but also reclaims their political power.
- Can Farming Save Puerto Rico’s Future? by Audrea Lim, The Nation—Taking Heat
- Puerto Ricans and Ultrarich “Puertopians” Are Locked in a Pitched Struggle Over How to Remake the Island, by Naomi Klien (Video by Lauren Feeney), The Intercept
- Naomi Klein: 4,645 Deaths in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria Were “State-Sponsored Mass Killing”, from Democracy Now, with Katia Avilés-Vázquez, Naomi Klein, Elizabeth Yeampierre, Juan González, Domingo Marqués, Amy Goodman
- “The Battle for Paradise”: New Intercept Doc Goes Inside Struggle over Puerto Rico’s Future, more from Democracy Now
- Puerto Rico Is a “Playground for the Privileged”: Investors Move In as Homes Foreclose & Schools Close, more from Democracy Now
Poverty, Homelessness, Minimum Wage, UBI
- Where Financial Inequality Is Rampant, by, Niall McCarthy, Statista, The Statistics Portal
- What It Really Means to Be Marginalized, by Thrity Umriga, Medium
Growing up amid the beggars and laborers of Mumbai, I wanted to know what it was like to live their lives.
- The United States Has a National-Security Problem—and It’s Not What You Think, by Rajan Menon, TheNation
Conflict abroad is not the biggest threat to most Americans’ lives.
It’s time to rethink the American national security state with its annual trillion-dollar budget. For tens of millions of Americans, the source of deep workaday insecurity isn’t the standard roster of foreign enemies, but an ever-more entrenched system of inequality, still growing, that stacks the political deck against the least well-off Americans. They lack the bucks to hire big-time lobbyists. They can’t write lavish checks to candidates running for public office or fund PACs. They have no way of manipulating the myriad influence-generating networks that the elite uses to shape taxation and spending policies. They are up against a system in which money truly does talk—and that’s the voice they don’t have. Welcome to the United States of Inequality.
- You can’t just put homeless people in tiny houses, by Miles Howard, The Outline
Rather than confront America’s housing crisis head-on, some cities are asking homeowners to build tiny rental units in their backyard.
Autonomous Vehicles and Artificial Intelligence
- The Pentagon Could Get Self-Driving Vehicles First, by Daniel Flatley, Medium—Bloomberg
Forget Uber, Waymo and Tesla: the next big name in self-driving vehicles could be the Pentagon.
- Self-driving cars are headed toward an AI roadblock, by Russell Brandom, The Verge
"Skeptics say full autonomy could be farther away than the industry admits."
The dream of driverless cars is dying, by Christian Wolmar, The Spectator
"Billions have been invested but autonomous vehicles will not be on a road any time soon."
- Autonomous vehicle safety myths and facts, 2018 update, by Filip Piekniewski, Piekniewski's blog
- Tool of War, by Paolo Bacigalupi
- Orbital Resonance, by John Barnes
- The Sky So Big and Black, by John Barnes
I was reading both the John Barnes books for a second or third time, but they deserve it.
I'm still wading slowly through The Bell Curve, in order to be able to criticize it with some degree of credibility. Less than 200 pages to go at this point. This has also lead to reading some scholarly articles about IQ on the web, further slowing down my other reading. I did manage to read a couple of non-fiction books this month, though.
- The Informed Gardener, by Linda Chalker-Scott
Disappointingly, this is mainly about landscape gardening. But it does do some pretty significant debunking.
- Democracy in Chains, by Nancy MacLean
My eldest son Michael lent me this book. It answers a question he and I have often pondered, "Why do people vote against their own interests?" The answer is clearly that a great deal of money has been spent to convince us that our best interests lie with the very rich and their right to accumulate more wealth, regardless of the effect on us.
- The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, by Kristin Miller, billmoyers.com
A Q&A with author Nancy MacLean about the elusive James McGill Buchanan. MacLean's book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, tells the story of one James McGill Buchanan, a Southern political scientist and father of “public choice economics".
If you don't read the book, at least read this interview.