• Nicholas McCay

Eclectic Spacewalk - September 2018

Updated: Oct 4, 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-september-2018-4c0b3b200438

  • Books

  • Audio books

  • Top 15 Articles/Essays

  • Podcasts

  • TED Talks

  • Videos

  • Lectures/Debates

  • Documentaries

  • “Best of the Rest” Articles/Essays

Book(s) -

Cosmopolis by Stephen Toulmin


Less by Andrew Sean Greer


Our Modern Predicament by George Scialabba


Audio book(s) -

Superminds by Thomas W. Malone


A Universe from Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss


Top 15 Articles/Essays -

Financial crises, corporate scandals and blind spots: Who is Responsible?


“Blindness to reality can harm, and recognising problems is necessary for addressing them. To improve corporate governance and policy, we must identify instances where markets and institutions cause harm and suggest approaches to reduce the scope for abuses of power in all institutions. We must also challenge false or misleading claims and demand that policy decisions are made on the basis of sound analysis and in the public interest.”

Diversity for what?


“Today the specter is a specter of itself, and political diversity turns ghostly. Evidently political differences exist, but the register has narrowed. The hope that a Third World would be an alternative to advanced capitalism and Soviet communism has long since died. Marxism has retreated to graduate seminars where professors serve gluten-free gibberish to aspiring professors. The best academic Marxists no longer even pretend to believe in an alternative; they study the vocabulary of state power. Outside the campuses a feeble liberalism confronts a rising authoritarianism, right-wing populism, and religious fanaticism. Meanwhile the diversity cheerleaders schedule another celebration. “Don’t wait to be hunted to hide,” counseled Samuel Beckett. Herbert Marcuse cited these words more than fifty years ago in his dark conclusion to One Dimensional Man. The advice still rings true.

Artificial intelligence is about to revolutionise warfare. Be afraid


“We aren’t talking here about the dystopian sci-fi trope of malign, humanoid robots with a free rein and a killer instinct, but the far more limited sort of artificial intelligence that already exists. This AI is less a weapon per se, more a decision-making technology. That makes it useful for peaceful pursuits and warfare alike, and thus hard to regulate or ban.

This “connectionist” AI is loosely based on the neural networks of our brains. Networks of artificial neurons are trained to spot patterns in vast amounts of data, gleaning information they can use to optimise a “reward function” representing a specific goal, be that optimising clicks on a Facebook feed, playing a winning game of poker or Go, or indeed winning out on the battlefield."

An Avalanche of Speech Can Bury Democracy


“How can we get back to that common ground? We need new mechanisms — suited to the digital age — that allow for a shared understanding of facts and that focus our collective attention on the most important problems. That might sound nebulous or difficult or even impossible in the current chaos. But consider that the modern state or today’s public health systems also seemed difficult or impossible at many points in human history. In a time of information avalanche, focusing on what is true and important can be a revolutionary act.

The End of Time


“In the end, therefore, instead of many possible times, we can speak only of a single time: the time of our experience — uniform, universal, and ordered. This is the approximation of an approximation of an approximation of a description of the world made from our particular perspective as human beings who are dependent on the growth of entropy, anchored to the flowing of time. We for whom, as Ecclesiastes has it, there is a time to be born and a time to die.

This is time for us: a multilayered, complex concept with multiple, distinct properties deriving from various different approximations.

Many discussions of the concept of time are confused because they simply do not recognize its complex and multilayered aspect. They make the mistake of not seeing that the different layers are independent.”

Trump Is Turning the Enemies of Civil Liberties into Liberal Heroes


It’s an infuriating and depressing state of affairs for civil liberties advocates, many of whom have fought the CIA, FBI, and Justice Department in the past two presidential administrations as these agencies expanded executive power, restricted privacy rights, and shielded officials from accountability under the guise of “national security” — the same tools Trump now regularly uses for his benefit."

The Slaves Rebel


“If prisoners earned the minimum wage set by federal, state or local laws, the costs of the world’s largest prison system would be unsustainable. The prison population would have to be dramatically reduced. Work stoppages are the only prison reform method that has any chance of success. Demonstrations of public support, especially near prisons where strikes are underway, along with supporting the prisoners who have formed Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, which began the nationwide protest, are vital. Prison authorities seek to mute the voices of these incarcerated protesters. They seek to hide the horrific conditions inside prisons from public view. We must amplify these voices and build a popular movement to end mass incarceration."

How feelings took over the world


“Feelings are how we orient ourselves, while also providing a reminder of shared humanity. Our capacity to feel pain, empathy and love is fundamental to how and why we care about each other. But as examples such as the Oxford Circus panic demonstrate, survival instincts and nerves are not always reliable. The information feelings convey in the moment can conflict starkly with the facts that are subsequently established. The crucial quality of feelings — their immediacy — is also what makes them potentially misleading, spawning overreactions and fear. Unscrupulous politicians and businesses have long exploited our instincts and emotions to convince us to believe or buy things that, on more careful reflection, we needn’t have done. Real-time media, available via mobile technologies, exacerbate this potential, meaning that we spend more of our time immersed in a stream of images and sensations, with less time for reflection or dispassionate analysis. If politics and public debate have become more emotional, as so many observers have claimed, this is as much a reflection on the speed and relentlessness of current media technologies as anything else.”

Tech Platforms and the Knowledge Problem


“Though Jeffersonian trust-busters and Hamiltonian utility regulators have very different views of political economy, each counters the untrammeled aspirations (and disappointing quotidian reality) of the stalwarts of digital capitalism. They also help us understand when giant firms can help us solve the “knowledge problem” Hayek identified, and when they exacerbate it via obscurity and obfuscation. If conglomeration and vertical mergers actually help solve real-world problems — of faster transport, better food, higher-quality health care, and more — then authorities should let them proceed. Such industrial bigness helps us understand and control the natural world better. But states should block the mere accumulation of bargaining power and leverage. Such moves are exercises in controlling persons — a much less salubrious aim of industrial organization. Economic policy focused on productivity and inclusive prosperity will balance and do justice to important insights from both Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian critics of our increasingly sclerotic economy.

The Perfect Storm: How Climate Change and Wall Street Almost Killed Puerto Rico


“Now, post-Maria, the central question the Financial Oversight and Management Board faces is this: What’s higher priority, paying back the hedge funds or building schools? “Wall Street wants them to cut services, schools, infrastructure,” says Sanzillo. “If you do that, the system goes into a tailspin. It simply doesn’t work. The only way forward is to cancel the debt, invest in the economy, and rebuild roads and infrastructure.” Not long after the storm, a group of economists, including Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, basically agreed, publishing an open letter suggesting that Puerto Rico’s debt should be largely erased so that the commonwealth can focus on rebuilding. In July, a group of senators, including Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kirsten Gillibrand, all of whom are likely presidential contenders in 2020 and thus have reason to woo Puerto -Ricans who live on the U.S. mainland (and are therefore eligible to vote in federal elections), introduced a bill that would essentially wipe out the commonwealth’s debt. But as long as Trump Republicans are in charge, the bill will go nowhere.”



The production of authority is a socio-technological problem, albeit a far-from-neutral technological problem (but technologies are never neutral). Although “soft power” authority is cheaper than resorting frequently to hard power to manage behavior, the systems by which we currently manage the production of authoritative information remain extraordinarily expensive — lawyers and judges and regulators and bankers don’t come cheap! Contemporary practices are also discriminatory. Most of the work of producing authority is done by a particular professional class, which is often socially and geographically segregated from the rest of the polity. Enfranchisement in the production of authority is skewed towards those within that class or capable of accessing (and paying) members of that class. This is problematic on technical grounds (those whose interests and perspectives are not included in the production of authority are more likely to privately dissent, diminishing the effectiveness of authority at coordinating behavior and increasing the degree to which hard power may be required), and on ethical grounds (the facts upon which we coordinate social behavior largely determine social outcomes, the determination of those facts is never neutral and always to a very large degree arbitrary).”

The Global 1% Is Destroying Democracy


We’re still operating within the original frameworks of globalized financial institutions, and the wealthiest, most corrupt people in the world have figured out how to take full advantage of the loopholes in the rules.

It’s time to close the loopholes fueling global corruption. It’s time to rewrite the old rules for a new age. Ultimately, if a 20th-century system no longer works for the 21st century, we must push to overhaul it.” 

How to get away with fraud


“Fraudsters don’t play on moral weaknesses, greed or fear; they play on weaknesses in the system of checks and balances — the audit processes that are meant to supplement an overall environment of trust. One point that comes up again and again when looking at famous and large-scale frauds is that, in many cases, everything could have been brought to a halt at a very early stage if anyone had taken care to confirm all the facts. But nobody does confirm all the facts. There are just too bloody many of them. Even after the financial rubble has settled and the arrests been made, this is a huge problem.

We Need a Post-Liberal Order Now


"Even more importantly, whether people like it or not, humankind today faces three common problems that make a mockery of all national borders, and that can only be solved through global cooperation. These are nuclear war, climate change and technological disruption. You cannot build a wall against nuclear winter or against global warming, and no nation can regulate artificial intelligence (AI) or bioengineering single-handedly. It won’t be enough if only the European Union forbids producing killer robots or only America bans genetically-engineering human babies. Due to the immense potential of such disruptive technologies, if even one country decides to pursue these high-risk high-gain paths, other countries will be forced to follow its dangerous lead for fear of being left behind.”

A Modest Privacy Protection Proposal


“You may be thinking “I’m not doing anything wrong — why should I be concerned about privacy?” It’s important to over-invest in privacy because once it’s lost it’s really challenging to recover. Consider this: you may not be a target right now — but you may become one in the future as your wealth increases, you endorse unpopular political or religious perspectives or… you make a single post on social media in poor judgement.

It’s important to note the goal of this guide: it’s not “how to completely disappear.” If you want perfect privacy then just close all of your online accounts and move to the middle of nowhere. Rather, my goal is to show you how to achieve the best possible privacy while still retaining your existing reputation.

Best of the Rest Articles/Essays - Bottom of Medium post


9/11, A.I., Algorithms, Amazon, Anti-Trust, Apple, Art, Books, Brett Kavanaugh blows, Cannabis, Capitalism, China, Cities, Climate Change, Corporations want profit alone, Courts, Data, Economics, Education, Environment, Facebook, FBI are fucks, Financial Crisis of 2008, Food, Google, Government, Health, Healthcare controlled by capitalists is proving to be a really bad idea, History, Humanity, Humans are Awesome, Interesting, & Weird, Humans are Shitty, Immigration, the Internetz, Journalism, Law Enforcement, Lobbying, Mathematics, best of Medium, Military, Music, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Politics, Poverty, Prisons, Psychedelics, Psychology, Renewable Energy & Resources, Science, Social Media, Space, Sports, Surveillance State, Tech Dystopia, Tech Utopia, Transportation, Voting, Women, Work, Writing

Podcast(s) -

Hamilton Morris on Better Living Through Chemistry: Psychedelics, Smart Drugs, and More (#337)


Doomed to Repeat - One The Media


Dr. Yuval Noah Harari — 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (SCIENCE SALON # 38)


Joe Rogan Experience #1166 - Diamond Dallas Page


Joe Rogan Experience #1167 - Larry Sharpe


Joe Rogan Experience #1169 - Elon Musk


Joe Rogan Experience #1170 - Tulsi Gabbard


H3 Podcast #84 - Bill Burr


The Church Of What's Happening Now: #621 - Greg Fitzsimmons


Justice in America by The Appeal


Why Is This Happening? with Chris Hayes


Democrats Must Be Confronted on Militarism


TED Talks -

Elaine Morgan says we evolved from aquatic apes


Why should you read "One Hundred Years of Solitude"? - Francisco Díez-Buzo


How police and the public can create safer neighborhoods together


Why museums are returning cultural treasures


What are the most important moral problems of our time?


Did the global response to 9/11 make us safer?


Videos -

A universal holographic display for 3D creators


The Greatest Shot In Television


We're the Last Humans Left


Olivia Gatwood - "Ode to the Women on Long Island"


Celebrating Mister Rogers


EGO DEATH - The Art Of Ritualized Surrender


Bruce Lee "I Do Not Hit" Full Complete Scene


What a Social Wealth Fund Could Do for Americans


The Hidden Homelessness Crisis In California (HBO)


The Age When Capitalism Went Too Far


Why Economists Failed to Predict the Financial Crisis


Global Inequality is a Threat to Democracy


Facebook: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)


Brett Kavanaugh: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)


Why Meat is the Best Worst Thing in the World


Mission Possible -- Natalie Panek on Reaching Mars


How We Could Build a Moon Base TODAY – Space Colonization 1


Take a virtual reality trip to the Moon - BBC Click


Visualizing Antimatter with Bubble Chambers - Christmas Lectures with Frank Close


What Will Happen In One Billion Years?


How Much Information is in the Universe? | Space Time


Action Bronson Reviews the Internet's Most Popular Food Videos | Food Film School | Bon Appétit


Sunshine – A Visceral Experience of Life, Death and Meaning


A Mythology of Hope – The Lord of the Rings (part 2)


No Country for Old Men — Don't Underestimate the Audience


Toxoplasma - The Parasite That Turns FEAR Into DESIRE


Killer T Cell: The Cancer Assassin


China's Waste Ban Is Causing A Trash Crisis In The U.S. (HBO)


Theo Shares His Orgasmic Meditation Experience with Nikki Glaser


AI co-produced Taryn Southern's new album


Intro to Clearvue Technology October 2017



The Science of Psychedelics - with Michael Pollan


The Disunited States: Is the Trump presidency causing irreparable damage to America?


Why Everything You Thought You Knew About Quantum Physics is Different - with Philip Ball


Documentaries -

Lessons from Lehman and the Coming Crash - Docu - 2018


Glory or Death: Climbing Mount Everest (Full Segment) | Real Sports w/ Bryant Gumbel | HBO


Before the Big Bang 7: An Eternal Cyclic Universe, CCC revisited & Twistor Theory


Hack your DNA with CRISPR - VPRO documentary - 2018


For the Road:

Visualizing "Fan Energy"


The salary you need to afford the median priced home in major U.S. metros [OC]


Magnetic putty swallowing metal ball


Ancient Earth





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