Links of the Month: March 2024


image from gapingvoid.com; Hugh may have meant this seriously; I mean it ironically

It’s almost as if the course of history has stalled. Same genocide, same proxy wars, same CIA/Empire destabilization of the rest of the world, same corporations dictating policy to governments, same increase in CO2e and atmospheric/ocean temperatures, same seconds-to-midnight nuclear armageddon threat, same exhaustion of scarce resources, same brutality to humans and animals, same everything-falling-apart, month after month. Sometimes I wonder if I just copied and pasted last month’s Links of the Month if anyone would even notice.

But although no one’s in control, and we’re all just doing our best, acting out our conditioning the only way we can, one way or another, we’ll be fine. Even if this so-called ‘life’ isn’t just a dream, an invention. So after you’ve waded through as many of these links as you can tolerate, come back here and let the talented young women of WJSN lull you gently to sleep with this extraordinary lullaby.

Good night!


COLLAPSE WATCH



charts from C3S/ECMWF, a service of the European Union

Climate collapse is accelerating: Tom Neuburger has the latest data. And another synopsis from AP.

Societal collapse is accelerating: Jem Bendell summarizes a recent presentation saying major life changes are now less risky than hanging with the status quo. Thanks to Joe Clarkson for the link.

Water cycle collapse is underway: Hot seawater is rapidly destroying the world’s remaining coral, and altered precipitation patterns, severe droughts, disrupted ocean currents, extreme flooding and water system contamination are becoming more widespread and unpredictable. Thanks to John Whiting for the links.

Economic collapse has reached a tipping point: Tim Morgan explains how we’ve broken our economic systems and what that means for the future.

We are running out of affordable energy: Erik Michaels outlines the folly of believing in renewables and “energy efficiency” as a means of dealing with the end of cheap energy.

So we are left to grieve our dying world: Indrajit Samarajiva’s lament on the “cursed knowledge” of collapse.


LIVING BETTER


latest New Yorker cartoon from the incomparable Will McPhail; if you’re a writer of fiction, you understand

Telling the truth about the world: Echoing Derrick Jensen’s famous “Beyond Hope” message, Robert Jensen explains how he’s learned to “hopelessly” tell the truth about our current situation, to himself as well as to others. Thanks to Paul Heft for this link and the one that follows.

Museums explain how our understanding of our species’ origins has shifted: Three remarkable museums have us rethinking where we came from and how we evolved.


POLITICS AND ECONOMICS AS USUAL


data from the NYT, as reported in Naked Capitalism; the actual average 2024 YTD death rate is about twice this amount ie 70,000 deaths in the US projected for full year 2024, and hospitalizations also showed a significant uptick in January

No, China’s economy has not stalled and faltered: Radhika Desai and Michael Hudson interview Beijing-based UK scholar Mick Dunford, who explains why China’s pragmatic blending of its centralized/decentralized political and economic systems is perhaps the best model to study for navigating the polycrisis. Anything has to be better than unregulated, corporate-controlled, extreme capitalism, individualist fetishism and war-mongering.

Corpocracy, Imperialism & Fascism: The Incompetence Edition (thanks to John Whiting for many of these links): Short takes:

Propaganda, Censorship, Misinformation and Disinformation: Short takes:

CoVid-19 is Still With Us: Short takes:


FUN AND INSPIRATION


from xkcd, of course; I seem to be in an ironic state of mind this month

Do men just suck at relationships?: Perhaps they’ve never been taught, or never had enough practice. But whatever, it’s usually the women who end up picking up the pieces.

Is AI eating its own tail?: As AI increasingly is being used to produce entire websites, and then to scour the web for new information to refine its algorithm, some warn that it will mostly be eating and spewing out its own recycled garbage.

Guns Germs and Steel was wrong: New research suggests that geography doesn’t actually play an essential role in cultural evolution. Fortunately, Jared Diamond’s theories about collapse still seem plausible.

Are CDs with petabytes of memory coming?: A new technology breathes possible new life into an old technology.

Words we’ve ruined: The list is ‘literally’ endless. Thanks to Kelly Gavin for the link.

Damned lies and statistics: Hank Green confesses to falling for the messages of four credible-looking charts and reports based on erroneous or misrepresented data. It doesn’t have to be propaganda to be dangerously wrong.

Boeing Boeing: A very funny look at what happens when your economy depends on companies making huge profits instead of making competent products. Lyz Lenz is in rare form; don’t drink coffee while you’re reading this.

And Canada’s most disliked celebrity is: Apparently Kevin O’Leary, some TV braggart I’ve never heard of (as I don’t own a TV). My choice was Reddit’s runner-up, Jordan Peterson. To show how unusual Canadians are, several arrogant business leaders appear to be far more despised than the usual rogues’ list of politicians.

Albatross!: There are two chicks in the Dunedin NZ cam this year; both hatched in January and are expected to fledge in September. Scan the red timeline along the bottom of the video to find times when the chicks are active; the cams zoom in on them when they are.

What do 72-year-olds look like?: And how do they think? Probably only of interest if you’re 72, like me.


THOUGHTS OF THE MONTH


one of dozens of AI created images replicated across dozens of entirely AI-created websites; thousands of gullible people have looked at these and tried to place orders for (or buy ‘plans’ for) a home “just like this” based on a picture that no human had any part in creating, and which couldn’t actually be built in real life (due to the laws of physics, building codes etc); just wait until these poor suckers start seeing faked political and military photos

From Caitlin Johnstone on US Empire:

Being an ally country to the USA is like being friends with a really bitchy drama queen where you’re only allowed to help her tear down her social enemies and can’t ever talk about what she’s doing to create all the conflict in her life because if you do she’ll come for you next.

From Caitlin Johnstone on Aaron Bushnell:

Aaron Bushnell was no more suicidal than a rescue worker who died trying to save the lives of others.

From Sharon Olds in the Iowa Review (1981):

SEX WITHOUT LOVE

How do they do it, the ones who make love
without love? Beautiful as dancers,
gliding over each other like ice-skaters
over the ice, fingers hooked
inside each other’s bodies, faces
red as steak, wine, wet as the
children at birth whose mothers are going to
give them away. How do they come to the
come to the come to the God come to the
still waters, and not love
the one who came there with them, light
rising slowly as steam off their joined
skin? These are the true religious,
the purists, the pros, the ones who will not
accept a false Messiah, love the
priest instead of the God. They do not
mistake the lover for their own pleasure,
they are like great runners: they know they are alone
with the road surface, the cold, the wind,
the fit of their shoes, their over-all cardio-
vascular health — just factors, like the partner
in the bed, and not the truth, which is the
single body alone in the universe
against its own best time.


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2 Responses to Links of the Month: March 2024

  1. FamousDrScanlon says:

    Guns Germs and Steel was a counter to European white supremacy.

    UBC professor thinks it’s because western people are WEIRD. I think our dominance has been in a steep decline and will soon be over – YES it can and does seemingly happen overnight. To the blind masses it will be a huge shock and most of them will never understand why. They will be told why – Putin Russia, China, Liberals, conservatives.

    The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous

    “A bold, epic account of how the co-evolution of psychology and culture created the peculiar Western mind that has profoundly shaped the modern world.

    Perhaps you are WEIRD: raised in a society that is Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. If so, you’re rather psychologically peculiar.

    Unlike much of the world today, and most people who have ever lived, WEIRD people are highly individualistic, self-obsessed, control-oriented, nonconformist, and analytical. They focus on themselves—their attributes, accomplishments, and aspirations—over their relationships and social roles. How did WEIRD populations become so psychologically distinct? What role did these psychological differences play in the industrial revolution and the global expansion of Europe during the last few centuries?

    In The WEIRDest People in the World, Joseph Henrich draws on cutting-edge research in anthropology, psychology, economics, and evolutionary biology to explore these questions and more. He illuminates the origins and evolution of family structures, marriage, and religion, and the profound impact these cultural transformations had on human psychology. Mapping these shifts through ancient history and late antiquity, Henrich reveals that the most fundamental institutions of kinship and marriage changed dramatically under pressure from the Roman Catholic Church. It was these changes that gave rise to the WEIRD psychology that would coevolve with impersonal markets, occupational specialization, and free competition—laying the foundation for the modern world.

    Provocative and engaging in both its broad scope and its surprising details, The WEIRDest People in the World explores how culture, institutions, and psychology shape one another, and explains what this means for both our most personal sense of who we are as individuals and also the large-scale social, political, and economic forces that drive human history.”

    https://audiobookbay.lu/abss/thea-weirdest-people-in-the-world-how-the-west-became-psychologically-peculiar-and-particularly-prosperous-joseph-henrich/

  2. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks DrS. I bought the ebook and am working through it. It would appear entirely consistent with the arguments that Julian Jaynes made about how our brains became ‘entangled’, which I’ve elaborated as the Entanglement Hypothesis. It would seem plausible that we WEIRD westerners suffered a further ‘disconnection’ from the rest of life on earth as literacy and the other drivers of western culture began to rewire our brains. I suspect that our loss of capacity for facial recognition was only one of many consequences of this rewiring.

    It’s a really interesting theory, that appeals to me for a number of reasons. But I do recognize that we’re in the realm of pseudoscience here, and despite the number of references in this 700-page tome, it can never be more than theory, hypothesis and conjecture. Still, wow. Thank you.

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