Bharat’s pocket scraps September 15

Aussle edition (no Aussie links tho)

Was in Australia for the first time most of this week. First impression: Just another white settler state, so I felt right at home. The flora and fauna are different, though, and I saw my first kangaroos and penguins in the wild, good times, also, a bird I’ve wanted to see for 20+ years (see featured image taken through a spotting scope), a white bellied sea eagle :) Also, kookaburras and cockatoos make for an exciting city walk!

The First White President

To Trump, whiteness is neither notional nor symbolic but is the very core of his power. In this, Trump is not singular. But whereas his forebears carried whiteness like an ancestral talisman, Trump cracked the glowing amulet open, releasing its eldritch energies.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, probably America’s finest writer. Just read it (if you haven’t already, it was shared often in my circles)

Read The First White President

In 2016, 17 people died in road accidents every hour in India, shows government report

There were fewer road accidents in India in 2016 than the previous year, but fatalities were higher as the mishaps were more severe in nature, the latest report by the Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry shows.

Everything in India happens bigly, but this number shocked and saddened me. The occasional train accident that kills 50-100 makes the news occasionally, but these crashes are often reported as individual isolated events that hide the enormity of the risk that being on the road in India entails.

Read In 2016, 17 people died in road accidents every hour in India, shows government report

The great nutrient collapse

The atmosphere is literally changing the food we eat, for the worse. And almost nobody is paying attention. <snip> Across nearly 130 varieties of plants and more than 15,000 samples collected from experiments over the past three decades, the overall concentration of minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron had dropped by 8 percent on average. The ratio of carbohydrates to minerals was going up. The plants, like the algae, were becoming junk food.

Oh jeez, as if we didn’t have enough to worry about already. So, is the fix going to be genetically engineered, or will be be drinking Soylent shakes in 50 years? All that being said, I am not fully convinced that the nutrition drop is primarily because of the varieties we have chosen to mass cultivate, and that choice is fixable.

Read The great nutrient collapse

The Case Against Civilization

 The first is that, for thousands of years, the agricultural revolution was, for most of the people living through it, a disaster. The fossil record shows that life for agriculturalists was harder than it had been for hunter-gatherers. Their bones show evidence of dietary stress: they were shorter, they were sicker, their mortality rates were higher

I’ve read a few books that make this case, Sapien by Yuval Harari, Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan are ones that I remember well, here’s the New Yorker with a roundup of recent books that expand on this hypothesis.

Read The Case Against Civilization

How I Got Fired From a D.C. Think Tank for Fighting Against the Power of Google

Within 72 hours, New America’s president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, told Lynn that he — and all of us on the Open Markets team — had to leave.

Aah, don’t be evil, a quaint notion

Read How I Got Fired From a D.C. Think Tank for Fighting Against the Power of Google