Car Culture, Touring, Iraq, Time Travel, Growth, Role-Playing Games

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Self-Driving Cars And The Future Of The Self

Robert Moor | Select All | 16th October 2016

On the implications of driverless cars for society, culture and individual freedom. “The more of them there are on the road, the more efficient they’ll become. Automated vehicles will be able to clump together into platoons, like the peloton in a bicycle race, allowing them to reach tremendously high speeds with relative safety.” Ex-drivers will have more free time; but free for what? Plus ca change. “They would spend most of their time in a driverless car looking at their mobile devices” (5,300 words)

A Stranger In The World: A Musician On Tour

Franz Nicolay | Longreads | 16th October 2016

On the theory and practice of touring the world as an indie rock musician. “There is a great deal of similarity between touring life and military life. The rules are the same: Do your job. Pack light. Defend your gang, don’t get off the boat, beware of strangers. Sleep stacked three-deep in bus bunks like submariners or curled in hard foxhole corners. Release your tensions in promiscuity, alcoholism, and violence. Keep your mouth shut. Keep your feet dry. Above all, don’t complain” (6,900 words)

Surviving The Fall Of ISIS

James Verini | National Geographic | 16th October 2016

Huge essay on the waxing and waning of Islamic State in Iraq. “There is little ambiguity in how the Islamic State managed to take so much of Syria. The same is true of Libya. More complex, and more revealing, is the question of how it won over so much of Iraq, a country that in 2014 was more peaceful than it had been in years, a state on the mend. How did the group lay hold of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in less than a week—and of Fallujah, Ramadi, Tikrit?” (11,500 words)

Computer Solves Major Time-Travel Problem

Cathal O’Connell | Cosmos | 11th October 2016

In which a computer is asked to solve the “grandfather paradox”, the bête noire of time travel — and comes up with “many possible solutions”. Among them: “In 1954 Marty’s father George travels forward in time one year to 1955, when he impregnates Marty’s mother Lorraine before immediately returning back to 1954 – just as his future son, Marty, arrives and kills him. Because George’s quick foray into the future allowed him to already conceive his son, the paradox disappears” (790 words)

Why The Economy Doesn’t Roar Anymore

Marc Levinson | Wall Street Journal | 14th October 2016

Whatever your presidential candidate may tell you, boom times are the exception, not the norm, in America and everywhere else. “Over the past two centuries, per capita incomes in all advanced economies, from Sweden to Japan, have grown at compound rates of around 1.5% to 2% a year. Some memorable years were much better, of course, and many forgettable years were much worse. But these distinctly non-euphoric averages mean that most of the time, over the long sweep of history, incomes take about 40 years to double” (2,200 words)

Keeping Myself Entertained In Prison

Barrett Brown | Intercept | 16th October 2016

Jailed hacker facing decades behind bars contrives to make at least part of his prison-time fun by introducing his fellow-inmates to Dungeons And Dragons. “Soon enough I’d recruited a meth dealer who was familiar enough with the game to help the rest of us create our characters, a large and bovine gangland enforcer who wanted to try the game and was at any rate influential enough to help us secure control over the table, and a fey Southern guy for atmosphere” (3,016 words)

Video of the day: Bohemian Gravity

What to expect:

An introduction to string theory and quantum gravity delivered in the manner of “Bohemian Rhapsody” (8’14”)

Thought for the day

There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception
James Thurber

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