This note started out saying that the links below appear in the order I read them and was meant imply that they were more or less random in their subject matter, other than being of interest to me. During the last few months, I added a few new categories at the bottom of the links section on subjects that are of particular interest to me. This month the first few links are in a "Miscellaneous" section, and it contains only a minority of the links. If you're reading this blog for information on collapse you may wonder how relevant some of the categories are, but it seems to me that whatever insight I have on the subject of collapse is informed by what I know about everything else that I am interested in.
- How to Spot a Fake Friend Request, by Andy O'Donnell, Lifewire
I've cut down my time on Facebook during the last few months, but I still occasionally get friend requests from attractive young women who I don't know. As this article says, probably spam. I frequently notice, though, that some of my male friends have sign up as friends with these "girls"—they are getting fooled again and again. Read the article and wise up, guys.
- How to Tell Stories About Complex Issues , by Annie Neimand, Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Stories are the most powerful tool we have for increasing understanding and building engagement with complex issues. Telling them well can drive belief and behavior change.
- After acceptance – some responses to anticipating collapse, by Professor Jem Bendell, on his blog.
- The coming concrete crisis, by Vince Beiser, The Globe and Mail
Agriculture and Food
- No, Vertical Farms Won’t Feed the World, by Jonathan Foley, Medium
While they are well-intentioned, new indoor “farms” won’t help feed the world or reduce the environmental impacts of agriculture. We would be better to focus our efforts elsewhere.
- European Union: This organic wheat is definitely a GMO, by Stephan Neidenbach, Medium
- Can U.S. Shale Stop A Global Oil Supply Crisis? by Tsvetana Paraskova, OilPirce.com
- Why Diesel Prices Are Set To Soar, by Robert Napier, Forbes
- ‘We Bleed Diesel:’ Truckers Nearing Worst Price Shock Since 2008, by Erin Douglas , Bloomberg
Tighter ship-fuel rules seen boosting diesel demand, prices.
‘Everyone missed this in our industry’: trucking association.
And I would say that farmers, not just truckers, are going to get a nasty surprise when diesel price start going up.
- Saudi Arabia's oil reserves: how big are they really? by John Kemp, Reuters
- Use Google Maps to simulate rising sea levels anywhere in the world, by Corey McKrill, Grist
- Interactive flooding map, by Alex Tingle
Select the amount of sea level and the maps shows what areas get flooded.
- Miami Will Be Underwater Soon. Its Drinking Water Could Go First, by Christopher Flavelle, Bloomberg Businessweek
- The revenge of the spider—economic recklessness and GFC II, by Tim Morgan, Surplus Energy Economic
"But the escalation in debt alone gives the lie to any claim that this “growth” has been genuine or sustainable. Between 2000 and 2007, growth of $25.5 trillion (at 2017 values) was accompanied by a $52tn increase in debt, meaning that just over $2 was borrowed for each $1 of “growth”. Since 2007, the ratio has worsened markedly, with “growth” of $29.8tn accompanied by $99tn in borrowing, a ratio of $3.30 of new debt for each growth dollar."
GFC I = Global Financial Crash One (2008), GFC II = Global Financial Crash Two, coming soon.
- Argentine peso and Turkish lira crash, putting pressure on emerging markets worldwide, by Weizhen Tan, CNBC Markets
The Scientific Consensus
- Why Scientists Still Disagree About Lyme Disease, by Markham Heid, Medium—The Nuance
More Americans have the disease than ever, but its scope and symptoms remain controversial.
- Coconut oil is 'pure poison', says Harvard professor, by Ian Sample, The Guardian,
It is feted as a healthy choice but the oil, which is high in saturated fat, is ‘one of the worst things you can eat’ says expert.
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.
- How to Master Your Fear Like a Navy SEAL, by Brandon Webb, Medium
- She made a career out of studying the brain. Then hers veered off course. By Libby Copeland, Flipboard/Washington Post Magazine
- Everything You Know About Muscle Cramps Is Wrong, by Markham Heid, Medium
There is No God, and Thou Shall Have No Other Gods
- Artificial Intelligence Shows Why Atheism Is Unpopular, by Sigal Samuel, Medium—The Atlantic
- Ten months without power: the Puerto Ricans still without electricity, by Oliver Laughland, The Guardian
Poverty, Homelessness, Minimum Wage, UBI
- Ketchup Sandwiches and Other Things Stupid Poor People Eat, by Anastasia Basil, Medium
“Folks of privilege don’t understand how $17 can ruin you”
Autonomous Vehicles and Artificial Intelligence
- Franken-algorithms: the deadly consequences of unpredictable code, by Andrew Smith, The Guardian
Early in the history of these monthly "What I've Been Reading" posts, Liam Scheff (since deceased, sadly) suggested I include some humour. I did once or twice, but it soon fell by the wayside. This month I've stumbled upon a couple of humourous items, so there may be hope for reviving this section on an ongoing basis.
- No Reservations: Narnia
, by Rachel Manija Brown, Archive of Our Own
I'm not even completely certain that this is supposed to be humour, but it certainly tickles my funny bone.
- Anthony Bourdain did, in fact, read that fan fiction about him doing No Reservations in Narnia, by William Hughes, AV News
- Green Energy Scientists Unveil 800,000-Ton Potato Capable Of Powering Entire City, The Onion
- Iron Sunrise, by Charles Stross
- Blind Waves, by Steven Gould
- A Great Deliverance , by Elizabeth George, first in the Inspector Linley series
- The Flowers of Vashnoi, by Lois McMaster Bujold
A new short piece in the Vorkosigan Saga.
Finally I finished The Bell Curve, and no longer can anyone say that my comments about it are made without having read the book.
- The Bell Curve, by Charles Murray and Richard J. Hernnstein
In short, Murray plays fast and loose with the scientific consensus on the heritability of IQ in order to further his ideological (Libertarian) goals. To put it bluntly, he doesn't think we should be wasting money on dumb poor people, since (according to him) it will do little good in any case and more likely make things worse. He also has quite a lot to say about the inferior IQ test results of blacks and Latins in the U.S.
I don't agree with this. I got into the discussion because of a podcast where Sam Harris played "softball" with Charles Murray, essentially accepting what Murray had to say as the unfortunate truth. Fortunately, it's not. Here are some links that support my position on the subject.
- Charles Murray is once again peddling junk science about race and IQ, by Eric Turkheimer, Kathryn Paige Harden, and Richard E. Nisbett, Vox
Podcaster and author Sam Harris is the latest to fall for it.
- Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns, by Ulric Neisser et al, February 1996, American Psychologist
This is a "Report of a Task Force Established by the American Psychological Association.", in response to The Bell Curve, and it presents what is essentially the scientific consensus on intelligence, as of 1996, which is rather different from what Murray and Hernnstein report that consensus to be in their book.
- https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c03f/f20904c35a370534a9d3710453dd6dc7a2d2.pdf, by Richard E. Nisbett et all, February–March 2012, American Psychologist
This report also presents the scientific consensus on intelligence, this time as of 2012.
"We review new findings and new theoretical developments in the field of intelligence.
New findings include the following:
(a) Heritability of IQ varies significantly by social class.
(b) Almost no genetic polymorphisms have been discovered that are consistently associated with variation in IQ in the normal range. (c) Much has been learned about the biological underpinnings of intelligence.
(d) “Crystallized” and “fluid” IQ are quite different aspects of intelligence at both the behavioral and biological levels.
(e) The importance of the environment for IQ is established by the 12-point to 18-point increase in IQ when children are adopted from working-class to middle-class homes.
(f) Even when improvements in IQ produced by the most effective early childhood interventions fail to persist, there can be very marked effects on academic achievement and life outcomes.
(g) In most developed countries studied, gains on IQ tests have continued, and they are beginning in the developing world. (h) Sex differences in aspects of intelligence are due partly to identifiable biological factors and partly to socialization factors.
(i) The IQ gap between Blacks and Whites has been reduced by 0.33 SD in recent years.
We report theorizing concerning
(a) the relationship between working memory and intelligence,
(b) the apparent contradiction between strong heritability effects on IQ and strong secular effects on IQ,
(c) whether a general intelligence factor could arise from initially largely independent cognitive skills,
(d) the relation between self-regulation and cognitive skills, and
(e) the effects of stress on intelligence."
- Searching for Justice—The Discovery of IQ Gains Over Time, by James R. Flynn, University of Otago