Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

Site Search

Sharing

Facebooktwittermail

Follow

rss

Categories

Archives

Recent Posts

Why Seneca’s advice for living centered on dying

James S. Romm writes: Recent experiments have shown that psilocybin, a compound found in hallucinogenic mushrooms, can greatly reduce the fear of death in terminal cancer patients. The drug imparts “an understanding that in the largest frame, everything is fine,” said pharmacologist Richard Griffiths in a 2016 interview. Test subjects reported a sense of “the interconnectedness of all people and things, the awareness that we are all in this together.”

How populist uprisings could bring down liberal democracy

Yascha Mounk writes: There are long decades in which history seems to slow to a crawl. Elections are won and lost, laws adopted and repealed, new stars born and legends carried to their graves. But for all the ordinary business of time passing, the lodestars of culture, society and politics remain the same. Then there are those short years in which everything changes all at once. Political newcomers storm the

From Afrin to Ghouta

G. M. Tamás writes: Yes, of course, we are all indignant and horrified and incredulous and ashamed: the death and decomposition of the international state system causes mayhem and suffering that defies reason and imagination. Everybody has seen the wordless statement of UNICEF: they could not find words to express what they have seen and what they have felt. Various ethnic and political groups in Syria are killing each other

‘It was as if all criminal roads led to Trump Tower’

Jane Mayer writes: Republican claims to the contrary, Steele’s interest in Trump did not spring from his work for the Clinton campaign. He ran across Trump’s name almost as soon as he went into private business, many years before the 2016 election. Two of his earliest cases at Orbis involved investigating international crime rings whose leaders, coincidentally, were based in New York’s Trump Tower. Steele’s first client after leaving M.I.6

‘Corporations are people’ is built on an incredible 19th-century lie

Adam Winkler writes: Somewhat unintuitively, American corporations today enjoy many of the same rights as American citizens. Both, for instance, are entitled to the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion. How exactly did corporations come to be understood as “people” bestowed with the most fundamental constitutional rights? The answer can be found in a bizarre—even farcical—series of lawsuits over 130 years ago involving a lawyer who lied to

How solar, wind and hydro could power the world, at lower cost

RenewEconomy reports: Stanford University professor Mark Jacobson and colleagues at the University of California at Berkeley and Aalborg University in Denmark have updated and expanded their analysis on how the world – well, at lest 139 countries – could be powered entirely by solar, wind and hydro resources. The study, whose earlier version caused controversy and a strident critique by rival academics, now includes further modelling and a range of

Living in an indifferent universe

Samir Chopra writes: One morning, my father died at home. I awoke to a call for help – my name shouted once, loudly, desperately, fearfully, by my mother – ran into my parents’ bedroom, and found my father convulsing in the throes of a massive heart attack. His body bucked on a deadly trampoline, his chest heaved, spittle flecked his lips and the sides of his mouth as he desperately

When the cure is the cause

Jeanne Lenzer writes: Keiko Yamaguchi’s troubles began with diarrhea. After a few weeks, her toes went numb. The numbness and weakness crept up her legs, to her hips, and her vision began to fail. That was in early 1967. By the end of 1968, Yamaguchi, just 22 years old, was blind and paralyzed from the waist down. She was one of more than 11,000 people in Japan, (with reported cases

State Dept. was granted $120 million to fight Russian meddling. It has spent $0

The New York Times reports: As Russia’s virtual war against the United States continues unabated with the midterm elections approaching, the State Department has yet to spend any of the $120 million it has been allocated since late 2016 to counter foreign efforts to meddle in elections or sow distrust in democracy. As a result, not one of the 23 analysts working in the department’s Global Engagement Center — which

U.S. aircraft carrier heads to Vietnam, with a message for China

The New York Times reports: For the first time since the end of the Vietnam War, a United States aircraft carrier is scheduled to make a port call in Vietnam on Monday, signaling how China’s rise is bringing together former foes in a significant shift in the region’s geopolitical landscape. The vessel, the Carl Vinson, will anchor off Danang, the central Vietnam port city that served as a major staging

Are the most successful people mostly just the luckiest people in our society?

Scott Barry Kaufman writes: What does it take to succeed? What are the secrets of the most successful people? Judging by the popularity of magazines such as Success, Forbes, Inc., and Entrepreneur, there is no shortage of interest in these questions. There is a deep underlying assumption, however, that we can learn from them because it’s their personal characteristics–such as talent, skill, mental toughness, hard work, tenacity, optimism, growth mindset,

Are we smart enough to know how smart animals are?

Frans de Waal asks: are we smart enough to know how smart animals are? Just as attitudes of superiority within segments of human culture are often expressions of ignorance, humans collectively — especially when subject to the dislocating effects of technological dependence — tend to underestimate the levels of awareness and cognitive skills of creatures who live mostly outside our sight. This tendency translates into presuppositions that need to be

Landmark study finds more poverty and segregation in America now than 50 years ago

Jason Daley writes: Half a century ago, a special commission assembled by President Lyndon Johnson was tasked to better understand the causes of racial unrest in the nation. The result was the landmark 176-page report, “The America of Racism.” Better known as the “Kerner Report,” the massive undertaking—done by National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, headed by Otto Kerner, then-governor of Illinois—examined cultural and institutional racism in the United States,

The Supreme Court case that could give tech giants more power

Lina M. Khan writes: Big tech platforms — Amazon, Facebook, Google — control a large and growing share of our commerce and communications, and the scope and degree of their dominance poses real hazards. A bipartisan consensus has formed around this idea. Senator Elizabeth Warren has charged tech giants with using their heft to “snuff out competition,” and even Senator Ted Cruz — usually a foe of government regulation —

Russia’s new trove of bizarre doomsday devices

Jeffrey Lewis writes: The U.S. developed a nuclear-powered cruise missile in the 1960s, but it was canceled it because, well, it was insane. The nuclear-powered ramjet was literally deafening to people on the ground and left a trail of radioactivity from the unshielded reactor. The United States couldn’t even find a suitable place to fight-test this monster. Officials worried that if it went off course from the Nevada nuclear test

Syria’s long war has reached its Srebrenica moment

Roy Gutman writes: The Assad regime and Russia are poised to destroy totally the East Ghouta region just outside Damascus or expel its population of some 400,000, and nothing but the empty words of the United Nations, the United States, and Europe stand in their way. So, too, 23 years ago, the world sat mostly mute, watching events unfold in and around the small village of Srebrenica in a remote