37/107 - Link Roundup

Why vegetarianism will not save the world

The truth is that agriculture is the most destructive thing humans have done to the planet, and more of the same won’t save us. The truth is that agriculture requires the wholesale destruction of entire ecosystems. The truth is also that life isn’t possible without death, that no matter what you eat, someone has to die to feed you.

There’s absolutely no shortage of controversy in this interview and the views of Lierre Keith in this piece. I’m never a fan of extremism - whatever form they take - as life as shown us that variety and balance is what keeps systems in working order, so reclaiming agriculture land and diversifying cultures are sound strategies and principles, what I can’t argue here is whether or not this is actually the prevailing case already.

It’s also important to know that the interview is mostly around the book The Vegetarian Myth and that it’s not free of technical issues - you can replace the word technical with scientific if you prefer.

The Kids Who Beat Autism

I asked him if there was anything he missed about being autistic. “I miss the excitement,” he said. “When I was little, pretty often I was the happiest a person could be. It was the ultimate joy, this rush in your entire body, and you can’t contain it. That went away when my sister started teasing me and I realized flapping wasn’t really acceptable. Listening to really good music is the main time I feel that joy now. I still feel it in my whole body, but I don’t outwardly react to it like I used to.”

Lance Armstrong in Purgatory: The After-Life

But Armstrong can’t suppress his taste for the provocative. Did Nelson Mandela really forgive the people who put him in prison for twenty-seven years, he asks, or did he just say that for public consumption? He compares himself to Bill Clinton so many times he finally says he shouldn’t compare himself to Bill Clinton, that it must sound vainglorious—and then switches the comparison to other legendary names. “People are fine that Michael Jordan was a jerk, they’re fine if Wayne Gretzky was a jerk, but they weren’t fine with me being an asshole. They expected that perfect story.”

What were drugs?

But what lies beyond the idea of ‘drugs’ itself? The simple answer is that there is nothing to replace. Behind the term lies a disparate group of chemicals whose varied effects – stimulant, narcotic, psychedelic, euphoriant – offer a more accurate language of description. Value-laden terms, both positive and negative, would doubtless emerge to complement them. A post-drug world would require not a new language but the recovery of an older one. The category of ‘drugs’ was an attempt, characteristic of its historical moment, to separate out good chemicals from bad ones. But as we have known since antiquity, good and evil, virtue and vice are not inherent in a plant or a molecule. Pedanius Dioscorides, the great classical authority on medicine, maintained that no substance is intrinsically good: it all depends on the dose at which it is administered, the use to which it is put, and the intentions behind that use. The Greek term pharmakon could mean both a medicine and a poison: there was no such thing as a harmless remedy, since anything with the power to heal also had the power to harm. All drugs, psychoactive or otherwise, are a technology, a prosthetic that extends our physical and mental reach. Like so many of the other technologies that are transforming our world, their benefits and dangers must ultimately be understood as extensions of ourselves.

Articles: Wax and Wane: The Tough Realities Behind Vinyl’s Comeback

Recently, London-based ICM Research found that “15 percent of those who buy physical music formats such as CDs, vinyl records, and cassettes never listen to them—they buy them purely to own.”

“Consumers who maybe weren’t analog, record-head types, but still want to support artists they love, were underestimated,” Blandford says. “They want to put something on their shelf that they or their friends can see—a physical signifier of their fandom.”

In the old days, when vinyl was the dominant format, Amoeba’s Weinstein recalls that everyone had an altar to their music in their homes—a stereo, speakers, and LP rack readily visible—and that altar has now come full circle for younger vinyl buyers. “It’s a topic of conversation,” Weinstein says. “You’re showing off what your tastes are as a way of defining what’s important to you.”

Did Bacteria Drive the Origins of Animals?

But the full story of the microbial-animal relationship is even broader and deeper, argues Margaret McFall-Ngai, a biologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and it’s a story that is only beginning to be told. In her view, animals should rightly be considered host-microbe ecosystems. Several years ago McFall-Ngai, along with Hadfield, convened a broad group of developmental biologists, ecologists, environmental biologists and physiologists, including King, and asked them to formulate a microbial manifesto — a declaration of bacterial significance. The paper, which appeared late last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, cites evidence from many corners of biology to argue that the influence of microbes on the origin, evolution and function of animals is pervasive and essential to understanding how animal life evolved. “They evolved in a world saturated with bacteria,” Hadfield said.

How A One-Time Pig Peddler Helped The U.S. Flood War Zones With Guns

While most coverage of the weapons trade tracks the multibillion-dollar deals in fighter jets, strategic missiles, or radar systems, most killing in modern wars is done with cheap rifles, machine guns, mortars, and other small arms.

These are the types of arms that Dolarian, a man the state of California banned from selling certain financial securities, was given U.S. tax dollars to purchase.

7 Things to Consider Before Choosing Sides in the Middle East Conflict

Are you “pro-Israel” or “pro-Palestine”? It isn’t even noon yet as I write this, and I’ve already been accused of being both.

How to rip off a bank, Espí­rito Santo style

Fear of bank failure is now deeply entrenched. We have not fixed “too big to fail”. On the contrary, we are more terrified than ever of the consequences of bank failure. BES will not be allowed to fail: it will be bailed out by the Portuguese sovereign, and the people of Portugal will suffer yet more austerity to pay for it. And the criminals who caused this disaster will walk away with the proceeds. It’s an outrage.

Copernicus explores The Science of Star Wars!

Putting this all together, we see that a light saber requires an energy of E=cp mΔT=0.5J/g/C(230,000g)(1300C)= 1.5x108 J. That’s equal to 40 kilowatt-hours, or about as much energy as an average US home uses in a day. Note that this is a only the energy to do this one thing (melt a door) for 10 seconds. If the lightsaber stays on at the same intensity, for say, 2 hours, you need about 700 times that, or as much as a home uses in 2 years. But let’s be conservative and assume you can dial down a lightsaber’s power when you don’t need that much energy. After all, sometimes Luke uses his like a baseball bat to knock people off skiffs instead of slicing them in half.

‘Bizarro World’

“It’s funny,” I told Flewin. “We have an old Nintendo Game Boy floating around the house, and Tetris is the only game we own. My wife will sometimes dig it out to play on airplanes and long car rides. She’s weirdly good at it. She can get 500 or 600 lines, no problem.”

What Flewin said next I will never forget.

“Oh, my!”

Parisians by Graham Robb

In more comic vein, Robb describes Hitler’s one-day visit to the city 1940 when France had all but fallen. Hitler had dreamt of this moment for years, the culminating point of his conquest of Europe. He arrived bleary-eyed at five in the morning and stomped grumpily around the city with his entourage, like some competitive dad pretending to know where he was going. He didn’t and his generals sniggered at him behind his back. The janitor at the Opéra showed him around but refused to take a tip.