- The Mystery of the Havana Syndrome, by Adam Entous and Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker
Unexplained brain injuries afflicted dozens of American diplomats and spies. What happened?
- We Two Made One, by Hilton Als, The New Yorker
"Why did identical twin sisters decide to speak only to each other in a way no one else could understand?"
- How a 6-Year-Old Survived Being Lost in the Woods, by Emma Marris, Outside
Or maybe this one should have gone under "practical skills", in this case "perseverance".
- Caught in the Act — Astronomers Get Their Best Look Yet at a Supernova Blowing Up, by Shannon Hall, Medium—Scientific American
- Meet Farout, the New Most Distant Member of Our Solar System, by Neel V. Patel, Medium—Popular Science
- Primate Vocalizations Are Much More Than Gibberish, by Jay Schwartz, Medium—Sapiens
"Nonhuman primates clearly do more than just screech meaningless sounds at each other, but what are the limits of their communication?"
- What We’ve Learned About Ultima Thule From NASA’s New Horizons Mission, by Kenneth Chang, The New York Times
- The unacknowledged fictions of Yuval Harari, by Jeremy Lent, Open Democracy—Transformations
I have a little trouble with Lent's first point— I mean, clearly, nature is a machine. But just not the kind of machine many people think it is. The conclusion he reaches, I certainly agree with: "Recognizing that natural processes, from the human mind to the entire global ecosystem, are complex, nonlinear, and inherently unpredictable, is a necessary first step in crafting truly systemic solutions to the existential crises facing our civilization."
The rest of his points I can take pretty much straight up, and it all makes me wonder if I should bother reading the copy of Harari's book that I got recently.
- An Exploding Space Cow Could Be Linked to a Newborn Black Hole, by Neel V. Patel, Medium—Popular Science
The first time we’ve caught a baby black hole in action
Note the various ways the authors look at overshoot and dieoff, ranging from choosing not to mention it at all, to focusing too much on it.
- 2018: the tipping point—My year in review— looking back, looking ahead, by Nafeez Ahmed, Medium—InsurgeIntelligence
Largely a list of what Mr. Ahmed has been and will continue to work on, with many link to articles that will likely show up here in the months to come. And most of it is to do with collapse, so I've included it in this section.
- Your World Is Going to Shatter—A letter from the future, by Eric Hinton, Medium—Future
- Collapse? It’s already here, by Surly, Doomstead Diner
- Does Rebar Rust? By Practical Engineering, YouTube
In this case "collapse" has a much more literal meaning, referring to the failure of the steel reinforced concrete that so many structures are built of today. Many existing structures were built without using the advanced techniques discussed in the video to prevent rusting of rebar, and they are and will continue to fail earlier than they might otherwise need to. With funds for replacing infrastructure in short supply, this will lead to the very literal collapse of much of industrial civilization.
- Climbing Everest in high heels, by Tim Watkins, The Consciousness of Sheep
"Politics matter, of course. In a future of economic contraction it is far better to be governed consensually by people who understand the predicament and who plan a route to deindustrialization that has as few casualties as possible on the way down… one reason not to keep voting for parties that dole out corporate welfare at the top while driving those at the bottom to destitution. That road tends to end with guillotines and firing squads. "For all of its passion and drama, however, the role of politics in our current predicament is somewhat akin to the choice of footwear when setting out to climb a mountain. Ideally you want to choose a pair of stout climbing boots; but nobody is offering those. For now the choice is between high heels and flip-flops to climb the highest mountain we have ever faced. If we are lucky, the political equivalent a half decent pair of training shoes might turn up, but while the world is focussed on economic growth; that is the best we can hope for… and we still have to climb the mountain whatever shoes we wear."
- How collective intelligence can change your world, right now—An open source toolkit for self and social transformation, by Nafeez Ahmed, Medium—InsurgeIntelligence
Some good stuff in this one, but a little too much mysticism for me. Getting everyone to agree is way harder than that. So much so that it shouldn't even be our goal.
- Why American Collapse is Only Just Beginning (Not Ending), by Umair Haque, Medium—Eudaimonia
"Six Megatrends That Will Shape the Future"
Responding to Collapse,
- C5 Defines The Adapters Movement- In Four Parts. Part I-Introduction, by Category 5, Dark Green Mountain Survival Research Centre
- C5 Presents-The Fallacy Of Bugging Out -Part I- by Survival Acres, by C5 and Survival Acres, Dark Green Mountain Survival Research Centre
"Bugging out is embracing the refugee lifestyle—a very bad idea."
- The Top 4 Reasons Why You’re Not Going to Survive Bugging Out to the Woods, Ready4ItAll.org
- Living Off The Land: Delusions and Misconceptions About Hunting and Gathering, by Ross Gilmore, Wood Trekker
- The Shale Oil Revolution Actually Reflects a Nation in Decline, by Christ Martenson, Peak Prosperity
"Faster consumption + no strategy = diminished prospects."
- Is An Oil Supply Crunch Looming? By Nick Cunningham, The Fuse
"The global oil industry needs to come up with 35 million barrels per day (Mbd) of fresh supply between 2017 and 2025 in order to compensate for rising demand and natural decline from existing oil fields, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 2018 World Energy Outlook. Projects that are already under development could add roughly 11 Mbd over that timeframe, the IEA said in November. Additionally, the IEA said U.S. shale liquids could add another 7 Mbd of new supply, although it would require a heroic effort to achieve – the rate of production growth over the ten-year period of 2015 to 2025 would slightly exceed the ramp up in Saudi Arabia between 1967 and 1977, making it the 'fastest rate of growth ever seen,' the IEA said."
- The Next Big Threat For Oil Comes From China, by Philip Verleger, OilPrice.com
- Greenland’s Melting Ice Nears a ‘Tipping Point,’ Scientists Say, by John Schwartz, The New York Times
- Major study uncovers ‘sea change’ in world’s understanding of Atlantic conveyor belt, by Daisy Dunne, Carbon Brief
Food & Agriculture
- Foodie localism loves farming in theory, but not in practice, by Sam Haselby, Aeon
Before jumping to the erroneous conclusion that this section was paid for by Monsanto, stop for a moment and understand that organic agriculture/food is a multi-billion dollar per year industry that relies on fear to get people to buy its expensive products instead of the more reasonably priced ones of conventional agriculture. Millions of dollars are spent to convince you that non-organic food is dangerous. In fact both conventionally grown and organic foods are about equally safe. Sadly neither method of agriculture is even remotely substainable.
- Scientists engineer shortcut for photosynthetic glitch, boost crop growth by 40 percent, by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- The 7 Craziest Ways CRISPR Is Being Used Right Now, by Emily Mullin, Medium—Health
I'll say two things, one con, one pro:
Many traits we'd like to see bred into plants and animal are polygenetic—they are determined by large numbers of genes in ways that aren't well understood. These sorts of things are out of reach of current genetic engineering techniques, which are still just picking the low hanging fruit.
Even so, there are lots of very useful things that genetic engineering can do and because these advances can be inherited, they will be a valuable legacy for a future when this sort of high tech may not be available.
- Questions About Anarchism—Noam Chomsky (2006), Barry Pateman interviews Noam Chomsky on YouTube
- A dangerous exercise in self-delusion, by Tim Watkins, The Consciousness of Sheep
Some observations on (and against) Brexit.
- Why No Deal Is the Real Deal: Brexit and the Politics of the Interregnum, by Maurice Glasman, The Nation
"Leaving the European Union is the necessary goal of the left in Britain."
A different view of Brexit.
The Scientific Consensus
- The concept of a “chemical-free lifestyle” is absurd, by Fallacy Man, The Logic of Science
- Getting it right, by Michela Massimi, Aeon
"Truth is neither absolute nor timeless. But the pursuit of truth remains at the heart of the scientific endeavour"
Science Based Medicine
- Wellness Is A Waste Of Time, by Gid M-K; Health Nerd, Medium—Lifestyle
How “wellness” is often one big con
- The Only Diet Tip You’ll Ever Need, by Gid M-K; Health Nerd, Medium—Lifestyle
- Post-Holiday Detoxes Are A Waste Of Time, by Gid M-K; Health Nerd, Medium—Lifestyle
Why you should ignore the nonsense of detoxing
- Why Your Detox Is Bullsh*t, by Yvette d'Entremont, Cosmopolitan
- Amid a Measles Outbreak, an Ultra-Orthodox Nurse Fights Vaccination Fears in Her Community, by Amanda Schaffer, The New Yorker
"One woman looked at me and said, ‘Are you trying to tell me that my pediatrician cares about my kid, if he gets sick or not?’ And I said, ‘Of course! Why else would someone listen to screaming children all day for a hundred thousand dollars if they didn’t care?’"
Lacking an Owner's Manual
- Introversion Is Not a Life Sentence., by Wyatt Edward Gates, Medium
- Why You Should Trust People First, by Niklas Göke, Medium—Relationships
- Hidden Variables of Human Behavior, by Wyatt Edward Gates, Medium—Self
Four sensible assumptions to avoid letting others get us down. This may not sound like much, but it is actually pretty important.
There is No God, and Thou Shall Have No Other Gods
I don't think I've made any secret of the fact that I am an atheist, but I may not have made it clear that I think any sort of worship is a bad thing and that believing in things is to be avoided whenever possible. Indeed, I do not believe in believe itself. That's what the "Thou shall have no other gods" is about—it's not enough to quit believing in whatever God or Gods you were raised to believe in, but also we must avoid other gods, including material wealth, power and fame.
- Atheists Are Sometimes More Religious Than Christians, by Sigal Smauel, The Atlantic
"A new study shows how poorly we understand the beliefs of people who identify as atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular."
But then, religion always has been a matter of making it up as you go along.
- IQ Is a Really Stupid Concept—It’s stacked against most of the world, by Sara Chodosh, Medium—Popular Science
Refugees and Migration
- There Are Still Migrant Children Separated From Their Families, by Michelle Chen, The Nation
"The coercion and cruelty at the border is not over."
Poverty, Homeless People, Minimum Wage, UBI
- Cuts to legal aid: a hidden factor in the UK homelessness crisis , by John Gallagher, Open Democracy
- Take One Leave One – a new way to help rough sleepers, by Stefan Simanowitz, OPen Democracy
- Homelessness rose just a bit this year in the U.S. Here’s how Seattle compares. By Scott Greenstone, The Seattle Times
- On Being Poor: I’ve Been Up and I’ve Been Down, and Up is Way Better Than Down, by Laura Mohsene, Medium—Publishous
- A Progressive Rejection of Universal Basic Income, by Ron Rivers, Medium—Basic Income
Autonomous Vehicles and Artificial Intelligence
- Wielding Rocks and Knives, Arizonans Attack Self-Driving Cars, by Simon Romero, New York Times
- Home Run, by Nathan Lowell
- The Seventh Path, by Don Hayward
- Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
- How to Feed the World, by Jessica Eise and Ken Foster
"By 2050, we will have ten billion mouths to feed in a world profoundly altered by environmental change. How can we meet this challenge? In How to Feed the World, a diverse group of experts from Purdue University break down this crucial question by tackling big issues one-by-one."
But... "The book is light on practical and sustainable solutions."