Monday, May 23, 2016

Catching Up

The day job prevents me from writing (or reading) as much as I'd like. I use Pocket to file way interesting articles and blog posts I intend to read later. Right now I have over 300 'must read' items in my saved list. Ain't going to happen.

I suspect it's the same for everyone else: there has never been so much interesting, intelligent and relevant content to read... and so little time. Oh well, lucky I don't have to pay for it, sort of.

Scott Adams (currently my favourite political blogger, though he might not define himself that way) recently admitted in a podcast interview with Thor Holt (over at Write With Courage) that he hasn't read a book in the past couple of years: too busy writing them, as well as reading good content online.  He prefers non-fiction, like myself, so you're kind of spoilt for choice online these days. I listen to a lot of podcasts and rarely to the radio. Never has there been so much interesting, intelligent and relevant content to listen to... and so little time.

So where am I going with this? Nowhere really. Just adding my bit to the content mountain.

And here's a few from my Pocket list I actually have read recently, in no particular order:

Via The Reference Frame, on why the search for extraterrestrial life is a (left liberal) religion:
Not only these METI-ists believe that there must be lots of intelligent civilizations around. They also believe that these civilizations behave exactly as they "should" – pretty much like some idealized citizens of a politically correct country that some progressive want to bring to Earth in 2050. So these ETs will be interested in us, love us, know how to contact us and make us happy, and our contribution to initiate these kind interactions is exactly what these wise progressive anthropomorphic ETs need.
The probability that all these conditions are obeyed is basically infinitesimal. These assumptions represent a form of religion. It is a highly anthropomorphic religion – but at the same time, it is a religion mostly trusted by left-wingers. 
The clip from Mars Attacks! is a classic, by the way.

Robert Epstein, via Aeon, on why the 'brain is a computer/thought is software' analogy is so wrong, it's actually holding back neuroscience:
To understand even the basics of how the brain maintains the human intellect, we might need to know not just the current state of all 86 billion neurons and their 100 trillion interconnections, not just the varying strengths with which they are connected, and not just the states of more than 1,000 proteins that exist at each connection point, but how the moment-to-moment activity of the brain contributes to the integrity of the system. Add to this the uniqueness of each brain, brought about in part because of the uniqueness of each person’s life history, and Kandel’s prediction starts to sound overly optimistic. (In a recent op-ed in The New York Times, the neuroscientist Kenneth Miller suggested it will take ‘centuries’ just to figure out basic neuronal connectivity.)
Finally, Charles Hugh-Smith on the destabilising consequences of global financialisation:
In the global economy, trade is not conducted between equals; those with access to the unlimited credit of financialization can outbid domestic capital for assets, labor and political favours. The mobility and scale of capital give it outsized influence in small, credit-starved local markets. 
Mobile capital, with its essentially unlimited line of credit, can overwhelm the local political system, buying favors and cutting deals to limit costs and competition. Local elites are soon co-opted, and people starved for cash income are easily recruited as labor.
Local assets--priced for the local economy where credit and cash are both limited--are snapped up on the cheap by global capital, and sold for immense profits.
Sort of explains why the vulture funds that bought up distressed Irish assets are enjoying spectacular returns on their investment, even as the domestic economy struggles to achieve 2% growth let alone double-digit growth.

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