Top Of The Week

The City And The Limiting Virtues

Sara Hendren | Undefended/Undefeated | 6th April 2024 | U

How to notice limiting virtues in built spaces: the things you can and cannot do, by design. Libraries have a “gradation of limiting virtues”: meeting spaces, really quiet rooms, floor-to-ceiling windows and activity rooms for children, high-backed chairs and booths for teens to do “semi-sedentary socialising”. Cafés outlaw laptops to avoid becoming offices and chapels provide “that rarest limiting thing: silence” (1,600 words)

Who Gets To Live In Techno-Utopia?

Victor Zhenyi Wang | Mathbabe | 8th April 2024 | U

“Liberal” eugenics is group-level genetic manipulation without harming existing people. But what traits should parents be allowed to eliminate? Are people with disabilities “worse off”? Seemingly objective wellbeing metrics are based on surveys of typically abled participants’ subjective accounts. “This metric is going to inherit all the biases society already has against disabled people” (1,600 words)

How Deep Does Life Go?

James Powell | MIT Press Reader | 8th April 2024 | U

History of deep-sea explorations, prior to which, scientists believed that photosynthesis was essential to support life — hence, no living creatures in the dark ocean depths. In 1977, 24 dives along the Galápagos Rift revealed many life forms far beyond sunlight’s reach. The answer was chemosynthesis, by which bacteria oxidise inorganic materials, like hydrogen sulphide, to sustain higher life forms (2,900 words)

The Forgotten War On Beepers

Louis Anslow | Pessimists Archive | 10th April 2024 | U

Decades before anyone was worried about smartphone addiction, the same discourse surrounded beepers. The "pager panic" of the late 1980s stemmed from their adoption by both teenagers and drug addicts — and the concern was that one group might use them to maintain contact with the other. New Jersey even passed a law banning them. A reminder that everything is cyclical (1,000 words)

Africa’s Democratic Dividend

Mohamed Kheir Omer & Parselelo Ole Kantai | African Arguments | 10th April 2024 | U

The post-colonial implementation of Western-style democracy across Africa has created fascinating hybrid models. The Gada system in Ethiopia likely predates most other forms of governance and prioritises term limits. In Somalia, the "4.5 formula" enables power sharing between clans. Rwanda, Senegal, Madagascar, Lesotho and Morocco incorporate proportional representation (3,100 words)

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