What I’m Reading: September 13th, 2016

  • A few links of interest regarding the recent 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Politico published an oral history of the Bush Admin staff and non-political Presidential staff’s harrowing day abroad Air Force One on 9/11. NPR follows up on a profile of a promenant 9/11 widow first profiled by NPR a decade ago. NPR also profiles an airline employee who checked many of the 9/11 hijackers into the doomed flight. Esquire considers the picture of the so called “falling man” and the controversy surrounding publication of the picture. I recommend recontextualizing yourself to that horrible and world changing day by watching the live news coverage of that day as the events unfolded. 15 years later, the horrible events of 9/11 are no less striking. For those born or coming of age after those events, it’s likely hard to grasp the magnitude or feelings of that day. Here’s to hoping that cohort never has a comparable day to live the qualia of that experience.
  • Growing up, I was always a tremendous fan of dystopian fiction. From Orwell to Kafka to Huxley and more, I’ve always both enjoyed these works of fiction, both as enjoyed consumption of fiction and as books that were formative to my intellectual development. The always outstanding BrainPicker blog recently had an interesting link to a piece by Neil Gaiman on Huxley and more broadly, dystopian, “speculative fiction” generally. There are many interesting insights in the piece but one quote, captured below, really gripped me:
  • “The important thing,” Ursula K. Le Guin wrote in contemplating the cultural role of speculative fiction and the task of its writer, “is not to offer any specific hope of betterment but, by offering an imagined but persuasive alternative reality, to dislodge my mind, and so the reader’s mind, from the lazy, timorous habit of thinking that the way we live now is the only way people can live.

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  • The UK-based Adam Smith Institute’s Executive Director had an interesting essay on why he is a “neo-liberal,” why fellow neo-liberals should embrace the left-wing slur wholeheartedly, and why it is distinct from “libertarianism,” a moniker I often use for myself. Interesting food for thought. I agree with much of it. Aditionally, he has another great take on proactive steps the UK can and should take to embrace globalism post-Brexit.
  • The Atlantic shares a stunning video of bacteria evolving antibiotic resistance in “real time” (real time in question because the 2+ week timeline is speed up to 2 minutes). To parse the impact of the video, this is the rise of a deep, global threat to humanity visually displayed in terrifying form. Though the topic has indeed received coverage, it’s deeply under covered in perspective to its importance. Previously treatable infections will kill millions. One of histories most impactful human innovations and trimuphs of science and human ingenuity is unraveling right before our eyes due to the triumph of nature’s capacity for evolution (literally in the video, embedded below). Note, for those who missed the terrifying news, that bacteria strains resistant to all known antibiotics, previously only found living in the stomachs of pigs in China, have not only now been seen in humans, but also now in the United States.

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