Miscellanea: Threefer Madness

Someone forgot to turn the internet off while The Next Five Minutes was away, and links have been accumulating at an alarming rate. They’ve been found scurrying all over the server rooms and internet tubes, even threatening to overrun the blog itself. It was only after an arduous week-long hunt that we managed to collect all three months’ worth of articles, videos, books, and music and corral them all in one long post.


In With the Out Crowd – Steve Lagerfield at The Hedgehog Review. Reminded me of Eliezer Yudkowsky’s Lonely Dissent.

Future Dystopias Are Our Past and Present Human Nature – Tom Ruby at Bluegrass Critical Thinking Solutions. See also The Surprisingly Solid Mathematical Case of the Tinfoil Hat Gun Prepper from April’s Miscellanea.

The Bro Code – James Palmer at ChinaFile.

It Took a Village to Raise Kavanaugh – David Brooks at The New York Times. “The conservative legal establishment is fully mature. Trump bucked the conservative foreign policy establishment and the conservative economic establishment, but he’s given the conservative legal establishment more power than ever before, which is why there are so few never-Trumpers in legal circles… It’s a lesson for everybody. If you emphasize professional excellence first, if you gain a foothold in society’s mainstream institutions, if you build a cohesive band of brothers and sisters, you can transform the landscape of your field.”

What the West Is Becoming — Bruno Maçães at National Review. “To understand what the West is becoming, travel to Turkey, Egypt, or Pakistan. These are countries that, while never admitted to the club, were always of enormous strategic importance for Western powers, whose constant involvement created a culture of suspicion and resentment. What has been taking place in the U.S. since the 2016 elections would look strikingly familiar to Turks or Egyptians. Some episode or other of foreign involvement in the democratic process is reported. That is bad enough as far as it goes, but it gets worse. Once the fatal virus of suspicion enters the political bloodstream, it will never leave.” Tyler Cowen riffs on similar themes of trust and the international order in his column for Bloomberg.

India’s Biometric Database Is Creating A Perfect Surveillance State — And U.S. Tech Companies Are On Board – Paul Blumenthal and Gopal Sathe at The Huffington Post.

Meet the Anarchists Making Their Own Medicine – Daniel Oberhaus at Vice.

Did China think Donald Trump was bluffing on trade? How Beijing got it wrong – Wendy Wu and Kristin Huang at the South China Morning Post. An positive take on the Trump administration’s trade war with China, and how while we may lose ground economically, China may lose ground strategically. Compare and contrast with Shannon Mercer and Robert Williams’ negative take at Lawfare, as well as Timothy Heath’s broader analysis of China’s position, also at Lawfare.

A new digital divide: Young people who can’t use keyboards – Toshihiko Katsuda at The Asahi Shimbun.

The Strange Life of a Murderer Turned Crime Blogger – Kenneth R. Rosen at Wired.

Chinese interference in New Zealand at ‘critical’ stage, says Canada spy report – Eleanor Ainge Roy at The Guardian. The arms race over new forms of information warfare have only just begun, and their escalations beyond Russia’s now-confirmed interference in 2016 have gone largely unnoticed by the rest of the world.

Our doctors are too educated – Akhilesh Pathipathi at The Washington Post.

In-Groups, Out-Groups, and the IDW – Jacob Falkovich at Quillette. A sort of self-defense from the IDW, given that Quillette has found itself as the online epicenter of the movement. I’m still broadly positive toward the IDW; with recent revelations on the sad state of left-leaning academic disciplines, the Democrats’ inability to form a coherent worldview, and the ever-intensifying threat of the radical right, I think the IDW—or at least something like it—is more important now than ever.

Paul Singer, Doomsday Investor – Sheelah Kolhatkar at The New Yorker

If the Future is Big – Robin Hanson at Overcoming Bias. Examines the implications of long-term thinking on our present actions. See also More Than Death, Fear DecayTwo Types of Future Filters, and Future Influence Is Hard.

Reality Maintenance – Venkatesh Rao at Ribbonfarm.

Exterminate Mosquitoes for the Sake of Humanity – James D. Miller at Quillette

The School Shootings That Weren’t – Anya Kamenetz at NPR. “This spring the U.S. Education Department reported that in the 2015-2016 school year, ‘nearly 240 schools … reported at least 1 incident involving a school-related shooting.’ The number is far higher than most other estimates. But NPR reached out to every one of those schools repeatedly over the course of three months and found that more than two-thirds of these reported incidents never happened.”

Why aren’t kids being taught to read? – Emily Hanford at APM Reports.

The Big Myth About Teenage Anxiety – Richard A. Friedman at The New York Times

Russia is quietly seizing territory in Georgia as it warns of a ‘horrible conflict’ if the Eurasian country joins NATO – John Haltiwanger at Business Insider.

Neural Correlates of Four Broad Temperament Dimensions: Testing Predictions for a Novel Construct of Personality – Brown, Acevedo, and Fisher at PLOS One. For years, personality psychology has been dominated by a well-validated system known as the Big Five, which relies on “factors” rather than “types,” i.e. you simply have higher or lower scores on various characteristics rather than getting described in a categorically different manner from someone else. This study suggests that may be changing.

Dissolving the Fermi Paradox – Sandberg, Drexler, and Ord at the Future of Humanity Institute. I think “dissolving” is probably a strong word, but the authors do point out a surprisingly simple reason why there might be a discrepancy between our expectations of alien life and the reality that we haven’t found it. Perhaps the paper downgrades it from a paradox to a mere conundrum.


The State of Brain-Machine Interfaces – YouTube

The World in UV – Veritasium at YouTube

A Beetle’s Beloved Beer Bottle – Brain Scoop at YouTube

Wormholes Explained – Breaking Spacetime – Kurzgesagt at YouTube

Heroism and Moral Victory – The Lord of the Rings (part 1) – Like Stories of Old at YouTube. Part 2 (A Mythology of Hope) can be found here.


Citizen Soldiers, by Stephen Ambrose (3.5/5): Another solid Stephen Ambrose work that found a good balance of engagement and thoroughness.

How to Make a Spaceship, by Julian Guthrie (3.5/5): Tells the story of Peter Diamandis (author of Bold, mentioned in July’s miscellanea), as well as a few other figures from the X-Prize saga I’d never heard of before. Seemed quite partial to the Randian worldview, often explicitly, but given that the book is about a group of frustrated entrepreneurs beating the government at its own game, I can’t judge it too harshly.

Brain Rules, by John Medina (4/5): Straightforward, brief, and practical. Lacks depth, but if you’re looking for a quick-and-dirty guide to brain health you could definitely do worse.

Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, by Sam Harris (4/5): While a long-time listener of Harris’ podcast, I’d never read any of his books until Waking Up, which I found to be an enlightening (no, really) and thought-provoking work of neuroscience, philosophy, and spirituality. Especially recommended for those interested in a) mindfulness meditation without the woo, or b) neuroscientific reasons to be skeptical about souls and dualism.

Letters to a Young Contrarian, by Christopher Hitchens (4.5/5): This was my second time reading Letters to a Young Contrarian, and while I enjoyed it plenty the first time, I think I’m in a better position to appreciate Hitchens now a few years later; see the first two essays linked above for a nice complement. Hitchens’ flowery prose is the only thing stopping me from giving this five stars.

Children of Dune, by Frank Herbert (4/5): Children of Dune is a marked step up from Dune Messiah and very nearly matches the original. Where the overwrought intrigue of Dune Messiah left that work a confused mess, Children of Dune manages to blend deception, action, and character development much more deftly.

The Evolving Self, by Robert Kegan (4.5/5): I just finished The Evolving Self a few days ago and there’s still plenty to digest. The long and short of it is that Kegan (writing in 1982) believed that the most effective way to understand human psychological development is by looking at how people come to see various aspects of life (the physical world, relationships, social structures, etc.) as either subjects (bound to the self) or objects (separate from the self), depending on what is appropriate for a person’s stage of development. Lots to learn—a breakdown is forthcoming (fingers crossed).


Alice in Chains – Them Bones

Auf Der Maur – Followed the Waves

Bonobo – Second Sun

DevilDriver – Sail (AWOLNATION cover)

Dorothy – Who Do You Love?

Max Richter – The Departure

Muse – The Dark Side

TesseracT – Luminary

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – What Comes Back

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