October 13, 2020
It is not often that a comedian gives an astrophysicist goose bumps when discussing the laws of physics. But comic Chuck Nice managed to do just that in a recent episode of the podcast StarTalk. The show’s host Neil deGrasse Tyson had just explained the simulation argument—the idea that we could be virtual beings living in a computer simulation... “Do We Live in a Simulation? Chances Are about 50–50 [more inside]
Amanda Ajamfar, an Iranian-American short story writer, wrote "Catastrophizing", published this year in The Georgia Review, in which a woman deals with ecological anxiety and overwhelming fear. "Then she picked at Atoosa’s choice of words in describing her mother, wanting to hear more about that than about the difficulty Atoosa was having trying to negotiate her need to have a phone for her job and social life with the unethical production of the object." Also by Ajamfar: "True Stories Never Satisfy", on the stories we tell that induce fear in women. [more inside]
Flanders holds 1666 charter in reserve to fish in English waters Fishing rights in UK waters remain a stumbling block, but Flemish trawler men can look forward to the ‘sunlit uplands of Brexit’ with more confidence than most thanks to the charter that grants them eternal rights to fish in English waters.
LibrarianShipwreck presents Theses on Doomscrolling, including “1. To doomscroll is to hear the scream of the fire alarm,” “3. One can only doomscroll from a position of, relative, safety,” and “9. The platforms on which doomscrolling occurs are complicit in giving rise to the world situation in which doomscrolling occurs.” [more inside]
As habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects and wildlife rapidly disappears, the argument that it will be up to private landowners to provide crucial homes and corridors for migration thereby rescuing us all from extinction (if the insects go, we all go), is gaining ground. Groups all over the world are providing information and instruction to gardeners and land owners to help them provide resources for the world's dwindling wildlife. I'd planned to spend a day compiling a list of resources for gardeners by country and post it, but 10 mins of searching brought me to this SubReddit, and I don't think I can do better.
The libertarian social experiment underway in the small town of Grafton, NH was uniquely incapable of dealing with the problem. “Free Towners were finding that the situations that had been so easy to problem-solve in the abstract medium of message boards were difficult to resolve in person. ... [C]ertain libertarians who questioned whether they should do anything at all—especially since several of the town residents had taken to feeding the bears, more or less just because they could."
This is the image of time that is familiar to us: something that flows uniformly and equally throughout the universe, in the course of which all things happen. A present that exists throughout the cosmos, a “now” that constitutes reality. The past for everyone is fixed, is gone, having already happened. The future is open, yet to be determined. Reality flows from the past, through the present, toward the future—and the evolution of things between past and future is intrinsically asymmetrical. This, we feel, is the basic structure of the world ... This familiar picture has fallen apart, has shown itself to be only an approximation of a much more complex reality. The End of Time by Carlo Rovelli [more inside]
To cut a long story short, the article appeared to be completely made up and did not in fact exist. It was a "phantom reference" that had been created merely to illustrate Elsevier's desired reference format. Even so, Pieter found that in the Web of Science there were nearly 400 articles citing this non-existing reference and many more citing articles appeared in the more comprehensive Google Scholar. [more inside]