Good reads of the week #4

https://annagat.substack.com/p/on-remembering

Anna Gat with a 11 sentence essay this time on remembering.


https://noahpinion.substack.com/p/the-darkness

We are now in one of those times. The news headlines from around the world give us a continual stream of dark portents. Concentration camps and forced mass sterilization of minorities in China. Millions rendered stateless by a new law in India amid a retreat of secularism. A coup attempt and election denial as a normalized political strategy in America. Rising authoritarianism in Turkey, in Hungary, in Brazil, in the Philippines, in Israel. Protesters massacred in Myanmar, massacred in Iran, suppressed in Belarus, suppressed in Hong Kong. Mass surveillance everywhere. Internet shutdowns. “Anti-terrorism” laws.

But headlines are just anecdotes. Unfortunately data tells the same story.

There is a Darkness creeping over our world.


https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/the-rise-and-fall-of-online-culture

The article as a whole is a deep dive into internet culture and what influences it. How it evolves and ebbs and flows.

Quentin Bell’s theory of fashion-as-signaling. Bell says: cool people keep trying to come up with some external signal they can use to identify themselves as cool. Uncool people keep trying to copy the signal so they can look cool too. After a while, so many uncool people are using the signal that it’s no longer a good identifier of coolness, and so cool people need to switch to a new signal. Thus the fashion cycle and its constant changes.

This only works when information propagates slowly. If the Coolness Czar went on national TV and announced that this year’s fashionable color was red, then everyone, cool or uncool, would be equally likely to wear red, and the signal would be useless. So fashion has to be vague and complicated and gradual. It has to start with a core of trendsetters who are super-cool but hard to identify in advance. It has to be the sort of thing that only a few people close to the trendsetters will notice and copy. And then it has to spread gradually along the social graph, from the super-cool trendsetters to their mostly-cool friends to their kind-of-cool friends and so on. It has to be the sort of thing where if a totally-uncool person with no social-graph-connection at all Googled “what is the current fashion” and then tried to ape it, they would get something wrong, or embarrass themselves, or look desperate and pathetic in the way immortalized by the “How do you do, fellow kids?” meme. This will at least buy the fashion a few years of lifespan as a vaguely-useful signal.


https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/i-will-not-eat-the-bugs

While we are on Scott Alexander

In order to produce a kilogram of bug-based food, you need about 10,000 bugs (mealworms weigh about 100 mg). On the one hand, bugs probably don’t matter much morally. On the other hand, 10,000 is a lot. If bugs had any moral value at all, factory-farming and killing 10,000 of them would be really bad.

Do bugs have moral value? Everyone will answer this question differently. I think of Shakespeare, who has his Jewish character Shylock argue for his own moral value like so:

Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?

And don’t bugs have eyes, limbs, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, and passions? Don’t they eat the same food as us, especially if we forget to put it in the refrigerator? Aren’t they subject to the same diseases – malaria, Lyme, bubonic plague? Aren’t they healed by the same means? If you prick them, do they not bleed creepy black hemolymph? If you tickle them, do they not hiss? If you poison them, do they not die? And if you wrong them – say, by throwing a stone at a hornets’ nest – will they not revenge?

[…]all else being equal you should generally prefer getting the same quantity of meat by eating fewer larger animals (eg one cow) rather than many smaller animals (eg 100 chickens). Thinking about insect farming is useful to test this hypothesis at the limit and see if our moral intuitions hold up.


https://www.sciencefocus.com/the-human-body/sleep/

There is a global experiment conducted on over 1.5 billion people across 70 countries twice a year. You know of this experiment. It is called Daylight Saving Time. According to a study published in 2014 in the journal Open Heart that looked at more than 42,000 hospital admissions for heart attacks, in the spring, when we lose an hour of sleep, there is a 24 percent increase in heart attacks the next day.

The second benefit of REM dreaming is creativity. Consider my fellow Liverpudlian, Paul McCartney. His hit songs Yesterday and Let It Be both came to him by way of REM-inspired creativity.

Not to be outdone, the iconic opening guitar riff from the Rolling Stones’ bestseller Satisfaction was also gifted to lead guitarist Keith Richards when he was asleep. We can even turn to profound scientific discoveries like the construction of the periodic table, which came to Dmitri Mendeleev during a dream.


https://www.theverge.com/22526502/himalaya-histudios-notorious-llc-podcast-audio-hype-house

This is just a crazy story from end to end. A hype house for podcasting with shady business practices. This story isn’t finished.

In another story recounted by two sources, Vincer allegedly walked up to a group of people at Podcast Movement, another industry conference, in 2018 while wearing a fanny pack. He then asked if anyone wanted drugs, which these people believed were in the bag strapped to his waist.