February 28, 2019
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How Tech Utopia Fostered Tyranny: Perhaps first response to this essay is a thought about unintended consequences, how the blinkered optimism of our tech elites has ended up empowering the worst kind of actors. But I think the real lesson here, at least in the democraticish west, is the even greater need for mental discipline. It’s necessary to be conscious about the kind of media you consume and, more specifically, the kind of media ecosystem you create around yourself. Maybe it’s in the service of crass consumerism, maybe promoting conspiracy theories, but there are ideas around that are intentionally or unintentionally engineered to change our behavior and thought processes. What we think and react to has to become an intentional decision.
The Secrets of the World’s Greatest Art Thief: This is a fascinating story, although I find it rather distasteful to romanticize the actions of what appears to be a mildly sociopathic thief. Finkel gave a similar treatment to “the Last True Hermit,” although that was a bit more sympathetic character.
A Journey into the Animal Mind: I think the general failure to treat other living creatures, human and non-human alike, in a decent way will go down as the greatest sin of our species.
Climate Change Enters Its Blood-Sucking Phase: A drastic increase in tick-related fatalities among moose is the result of combination of an environmental success, the revival of moose numbers in New England, and environmental disaster, climate change.
A Whale’s Afterlife: I love this kind of Blue Planet stuff. What’s fascinating to me about this brief article is how connected different natural environments are; there are weird bone-eating worms on the bottom of the ocean, thousands of feet down, that apparently only exist because of whale carcasses that sink to the bottom. I should have been some kind of oceanographer.