Eclectic Spacewalk - October 2018
Here is a sampling of the best content I consumed this past month. Enjoy scratching your brain’s curiosity itch! Also published on Medium: https://medium.com/eclectic-spacewalk/eclectic-spacewalk-october-2018-3b63aa6d27a2
Top 15 Articles/Essays
“Best of the Rest” Articles/Essays
The Broom of the System - David Foster Wallace
Death's End by Cixin Liu
Cherry by Nico Walker
If you want to write: A book about Art, Independence, and Spirit
Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield
Audio book(s) -
When Einstein walked with Godel: Excursions to the Edge of Thought by Jim Holt
Top 15 Articles/Essays -
The American Economy Is Rigged
“Political scientists have documented the ways in which money influences politics in certain political systems, converting higher economic inequality into greater political inequality. Political inequality, in its turn, gives rise to more economic inequality as the rich use their political power to shape the rules of the game in ways that favor them—for instance, by softening antitrust laws and weakening unions. Using mathematical models, economists such as myself have shown that this two-way feedback loop between money and regulations leads to at least two stable points. If an economy starts out with lower inequality, the political system generates rules that sustain it, leading to one equilibrium situation. The American system is the other equilibrium—and will continue to be unless there is a democratic political awakening.”
The Suffocation of Democracy
“Finally, within several decades after Trump’s presidency has ended, the looming effects of ecological disaster due to human-caused climate change—which Trump not only denies but is doing so much to accelerate—will be inescapable. Desertification of continental interiors, flooding of populous coastal areas, and increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, with concomitant shortages of fresh water and food, will set in motion both population flight and conflicts over scarce resources that dwarf the current fate of Central Africa and Syria. No wall will be high enough to shelter the US from these events. Trump is not Hitler and Trumpism is not Nazism, but regardless of how the Trump presidency concludes, this is a story unlikely to have a happy ending.”
The Automation Charade
“Capitalism needs workers to be and feel vulnerable, and because automation has an ideological function as well as a technological dimension, leftists must keep intervening in conversations about technological change and what to do about it. Instead of capitulating to the owning class’s loose talk of automation as a foreordained next phase of production, we should counter with demands that are both visionary and feasible: a federal job guarantee that provides meaningful work to all who want it or job sharing through a significant reduction in the workweek. When pundits predict mass unemployment following a robot takeover, we should call for collective ownership of the robots and generous social benefits detached from employment status, including pushing for a progressive variation of a universal basic income under a rallying cry that updates the 1970s socialist feminist slogan to Wages for All Work—not just the work that bosses recognize as worthy of a meager paycheck."
The Color of Economic Anxiety
“The past few decades of conservative economic policy from both parties, and its effects on wealth and income in black industrial cities, may continue to cause disaffection in black voters where Democrats need their support most. Yet, liberal pundits and policy makers assume that it’s white working class voters, not black ones, whom they should lure back. If the Party fixates on whites with economic anxieties, instead of how economic policies have harmed households across races, they are at real risk of losing again.”
The Tragedy of Saudi Arabia’s War
“The devastating war in Yemen has gotten more attention recently as outrage over the killing of a Saudi dissident in Istanbul has turned a spotlight on Saudi actions elsewhere. The harshest criticism of the Saudi-led war has focused on the airstrikes that have killed thousands of civilians at weddings, funerals and on school buses, aided by American-supplied bombs and intelligence.
But aid experts and United Nations officials say a more insidious form of warfare is also being waged in Yemen, an economic war that is exacting a far greater toll on civilians and now risks tipping the country into a famine of catastrophic proportions.”
Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father
"“But The Times’s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.
Much of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents, records and interviews show. Records indicate that Mr. Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.
These maneuvers met with little resistance from the Internal Revenue Service, The Times found. The president’s parents, Fred and Mary Trump, transferred well over $1 billion in wealth to their children, which could have produced a tax bill of at least $550 million under the 55 percent tax rate then imposed on gifts and inheritances.
The Trumps paid a total of $52.2 million, or about 5 percent, tax records show.”"
“The charity would raise over $8 million. Meyler would enter a rarefied world of globe-trotting problem-solvers. She would rub shoulders with Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey, and even get invited to the Obama White House. MTM’s footprint in Liberia would multiply to 19 schools teaching 4,000 students.
Yet some of the girls present that September day had a secret. Far from being saved from sexual exploitation, they were being raped by the man standing beside Meyler on the stage.
His assaults went on for years and continued in the new school. He was protected by his position — he was presented as “co-founder” of MTM; he and Meyler had had an intimate relationship, and she kept him in place even after having reason to suspect his predilections. But he was also shielded from exposure in the community by everything that she had brought: a school, scholarships and, above all, hope."
The Global Industry Putting Your Life At Risk
“The factors that speed up the development of antimicrobial resistance — high rates of infections, the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials, poor sanitation, poor-quality medicines — are more common in low- and middle-income countries, which means that so is resistance. But microbes know no boundaries, and they travel easily across the world, in foodstuffs being exported and in the bodies of humans. And often, resistant microbes can transfer genetic material to each other to become even more dangerous to humans.
The result: infections that were simple to cure, gonorrhea for example, are back with a vengeance. Conditions like tuberculosis and HIV are getting harder to treat. In the future, routine surgery or cancer treatment could become risky. There is a real danger of returning to a time where any one of us, anywhere in the world, could pick up such an infection and find that medicine is powerless to save us from dying."
This Is How We Radicalized The World
“Populist leaders and the legions of influencers riding their wave know they can create filter bubbles inside of platforms like Facebook or YouTube that promise a safer time, one that never existed in the first place, before the protests, the violence, the cascading crises, and endless news cycles. Donald Trump wants to Make American Great Again; Bolsonaro wants to bring back Brazil’s military dictatorship; Shinzo Abe wants to recapture Japan’s imperial past; Germany’s AFD performed the best with older East German voters longing for the days of authoritarianism. All of these leaders promise to close borders, to make things safe. Which will, of course, usually exacerbate the problems they’re promising to disappear. Another feedback loop...
The social media Fordlândias happening all over the world right now probably won’t last. The damage they cause probably will. The democracies they destabilize, the people they radicalize, and the violence they inspire will most likely have a long tail. Hopefully, though, it won’t take us a hundred years to try to actually rebuild functioning societies after the corporations have moved on.”
The Alternative to Ideology
“I have abandoned that libertarian project, however, because I have come to abandon ideology. This essay is an invitation for you to do likewise — to walk out of the “clean and well-lit prison of one idea.” Ideology encourages dodgy reasoning due to what psychologists call “motivated cognition,” which is the act of deciding what you want to believe and using your reasoning power, with all its might, to get you there. Worse, it encourages fanaticism, disregard for social outcomes, and invites irresolvable philosophical disputes. It also threatens social pluralism — which is to say, it threatens freedom.
The better alternative is not moral relativism. The better alternative is moderation, a commodity that is rapidly disappearing in political life, with dangerous consequences for the American republic.”
Definite optimism as human capital
“Stephenson’s Project Hieroglyph sounds like a great idea, I wish that there were more institutions like it: “Inspiration is a small but essential part of innovation, and science fiction stories have been a seminal source of inspiration for innovators over many decades. In his article entitled “Innovation Starvation,” Neal Stephenson calls for a return to inspiration in contemporary science fiction.” But it doesn’t seem to be very active. Anyone know if it’s still an ongoing concern?
The most important essay I read in the last month is by Lant Pritchett. He asks why the scarcest economic resources—entrepreneurial ability and technical talent—are going into automating an abundant resource: cheap labor. In the developed world, labor is expensive because of policy restrictions, and it is neither efficient nor equitable to use scarce technological talent to displace globally abundant workers.”
How meditation and psychedelic drugs could fix tribalism
“There are real fights in the world over resources and power and how these goods ought to be distributed in society. These disputes, and the values driving them, are unlikely to fade away. Indeed, if everyone valued the same things equally, there would be no need for politics in the first place.
But there is utility in understanding what a less tribal world would look like and how we might build it. We have these tools right in front of us, tools that expand consciousness and cut through the illusion of selfhood, and now we have evidence that shows their potentially transformative effects.
As Leary told me, “for people who wish to promote more egalitarian views in society, this research suggests that fostering beliefs in the fundamental oneness of all things — or at least in the oneness of all living things — may nudge people’s sentiments in a more positive direction.””
No more dissident voices: Succumb to Facebook & Twitter’s demands or get banned (or both)
“You see, it is not “fake news” that is the problem; it’s real news that has the establishment lying awake in their beds at night. Go ahead, see for yourself. I have approximately 460 articles on our website to my name. Pick one at random then tell me what you see. All sources are hyperlinked – Reuters, Haaretz, BBC, the Guardian, CNN, the Independent, the Asia Times, the Washington Post, the New York Times – and the list goes on. The problem, of course, is that we go a little bit deeper than the mainstream media typically does in order to ascertain the overall truth...
In case it wasn’t clear, this is the end result of the purge. The panopticon is a central tower that allows all inmates of the institution of social media to be observed by a single watchman without the inmates being able to tell whether or not we are being watched at all. It is physically impossible for the watchman, Mr. Zuckerberg, to watch all of us at a single time, but the fact that we cannot know when we are being watched means we all have to modify our behavior to act as though we are being watched all the time anyway. Either you succumb to Facebook and Twitter’s demands, or you get banned, or both. Either way, dissident content will no longer exist on these platforms, which collectively can reach billions of people.”
'While the Rest of the World Burned,' Billionaires Made More Money in 2017 Than Any Other Year in History
“"No money for health or infrastructure, all the money in the world for yachts." —Josh ShepperdAccording to the Swiss bank UBS's fifth annual billionaires report published on Friday, billionaires across the globe increased their wealth by $1.4 trillion last year—an astonishing 20 percent—bringing their combined wealth to $8.9 trillion.
"The past 30 years have seen far greater wealth creation than the Gilded Age," the UBS report notes. "That period bred generations of families in the U.S. and Europe who went on to influence business, banking, politics, philanthropy, and the arts for more than 100 years."
UBS estimates that the world now has a total of 2,158 billionaires, with 179 billionaires created last year. The United States alone is home to 585 billionaires—the most in the world—up from 563 in 2017.
Meanwhile, according to a June report by U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Philip Alston,18.5 million Americans live in extreme poverty and "5.3 million live in Third World conditions of absolute poverty.”
R.I.P. Rick Stein — THE best Obituary ever
Best of the Rest Articles/Essays - Bottom of Medium post
Activism, A.I., Amazon, America, Anti-Trust, Art, Books, Brett Kavanaugh is now lifetime Chief Justice of being as asshole, Capitalism and it's "venture" pitfalls, China, Climate Change & Solutions, Corporations, Courts, Data, Drugs, Earth, Economics, Education, Energy, Facebook, Family, Film/Television, Food, Google, Government, Health, Healthcare, History, Immigration, the Internetz, Journalism, Law Enforcement, Lobbying aka Legalized Bribes, Mathematics, best of Medium, Military, Music, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Photography, Politics, Prisons, Psychology, Renewable Energy, Science, Soccer, Social Media, Space, Surveillance State, Tech Dystopia, Tech Utopia, Voting, Women, Work, World.
War of the Worlds by Radiolab (WNYC Studios)
Follow the Money: Citizen Sleuths Investigate by Reveal (Center for Investigative Reporting)
I Was There by The Paris Review
The Illusion of Free Will, with Sam Harris by Star Talk Radio
10 years or life by Reveal (Center for Investigative Reporting)
Kant/Mendelssohn/Foucault on Enlightenment (Part 1) by The Partially Examined Life Podcast
Kant/Mendelssohn/Foucault on Enlightenment (Part 2) by The Partially Examined Life Podcast
Joe Rogan Experience #1187 - Kyle Kulinski
Joe Rogan Experience #1188 - Lex Fridman
Joe Rogan Experience #1189 - Alex Honnold
Joe Rogan Experience #1191 - Peter Boghossian & James Lindsay
Dr. Debra Lieberman — That’s Disgusting! Objection: Disgust, Morality and the Law by SKEPTIC Magazine
Infective Heredity by Radiolab (WNYC Studios)
Gentrification: What's really happening? by Science Vs.
Paul Stamets — How Mushrooms Can Save You and (Perhaps) the World by Tim Ferris
S2 Ep. 8: Move On by Slow Burn (Slate)
Full Faith & Credit by On The Media (WNYC Studios)
In the No Part 1 by Radiolab (WNYC Studios)
131: Clara Bow (Fake News: Fact Checking Hollywood Babylon Episode 11) by You must Remember This podcast
Royal Murderers by Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill
TED Talks -
How whistle-blowers shape history
5 transformational policies for a prosperous and sustainable world
The pharmacy of the future? Personalized pills, 3D printed at home
How conscious investors can turn up the heat and make companies change
How will we survive when the population hits 10 billion?
What everyday citizens can do to claim power on the internet
How tech companies deceive you into giving up your data and privacy
CURIOSITY - Featuring Richard Feynman
It's Just A Ride - Bill Hicks
Unlimited Rice Pudding
Inside Japan's tech revolution - BBC Click
NASA's Eagleworks Lab: Pushing The Boundaries Of Physics | Answers With Joe
Who Really Runs The World? - Russell Brand & Yuval Noah Harari
Owen Jones meets Slavoj Žižek | 'Hillary Clinton is the problem, not Donald Trump'
Lewis Lapham: Can America Survive the Rule of a “Stupified Plutocracy”?
Economic Update: A Deepening Crisis of Capitalism
New Economic Thinking Needs Old Ideas
Future of Cities: Medellin, Colombia solves city slums
A Short History of U.S. Meddling in Foreign Elections
ACCELERATION: THE FUTURE OF TECHNOLOGY
Why Beautiful Things Make us Happy – Beauty Explained
What are the Strings in String Theory? | Space Time
South Park on Giving Up – Wisecrack Quick Take
Shaun of the Dead — Why Comedy Needs Character
Kanye and The End of Reality – Wisecrack Edition
Terence Mckenna - Why our perception of time is speeding up
Casually Explained: Human Beings
State Attorneys General: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
Saudi Arabia: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
ON CONTACT: Wikipedia – A Tool Of The Ruling Elite
UCLA Film Archives
The Story of Kony2012
Will We Ever Find Alien Life? | Space Time
The Standard Model - with Harry Cliff
The Magic Economics of Gambling
Academics expose corruption in Grievance Studies
What's Killing America's White Men? BBC News
How Peter Jackson ‘Brought To Life’ WW1 Footage In His New Film | RATED
Visiting the coldest town in the world - Chilling Out | 60 Minutes Australia
The Problem with Jordan Peterson
Baboons are Not Pets!
Images from the Edge of Spacetime: The Event Horizon Telescope
The End of the Universe - with Geraint Lewis
Chris Hedges: Corporate Totalitarianism: The End Game
Yuval Noah Harari: "21 Lessons for the 21st Century" | Talks at Google
A Day of Reckoning - Sam Harris, Eric Weinstein, Bret Weinstein, Maajid Nawaz, Douglas Murray
Black Scientists: Past, Present and Future
Pondering the Imponderables: The Biggest Questions of Cosmology
The ocean plastic cleanup of Boyan Slat - Docu - 2018
The Facebook Dilemma
Algorithms rule us all - VPRO documentary - 2018
Apple under fire for allegations of controversial business practices
The Devil We Know
The Monsanto Papers
For the Road:
How Snoop Dogg’s joint-rolling skills made him a sushi master
Time-lapse of how Ajax’ Johan Cruijff ArenA got turned into a dance event and back into a CL-worthy pitch in 24 hours:
18 yr difference in video game graphics:
I can't stop looking at this: a radio picture of our galaxy reflecting off the surface of the Moon
Best Thing Ive Ever Seen
Bat vs. Water Balloon
Amazing Camera Work
How America's source of immigrants has changed over time