Genius, Altruism, Surfing, Christianity, Fentanyl

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The Wrong Stuff

Helen DeWitt | LARB | 29th May 2018

On the economic constraints of being a writer. Writers have to sell lots of copies of the finished product. The artist only has to find one buyer for one original. “It’s understood that artists get excited by new techniques, new materials. It’s understood that artists get excited by conceptual possibilities. A writer who tries to appropriate these paths to ambitious work will make many people profoundly unhappy. There are acceptable ways to be a literary genius; these are not among them” (938 words)

To Get A Grip On Altruism

Ski Krieger | Aeon | 29th May 2018

Suggestive analogies between human interactions and particle physics. “My research group focuses on altruism. But rather than relying on psychology or moral philosophy, we approach this problem using thermodynamics – how the laws governing heat and the interaction of microscopic particles might translate into macroscopic behaviour. Can we explain altruism by casting humans as atoms and molecules, and societies or populations as solids, liquids or gases?” (1,400 words)

What Surfers Understand About Gentrification

Jack Persons | City Lab | 25th May 2018

The waves at Fort Point beneath the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco are “highly coveted and fiercely defended”. Veteran surfers have a “well-earned reputation” for intimidating newcomers with broken boards, beatings, and attempted drownings. “It’s a beautiful setting. The demand for waves can quickly outpace the supply. Just about every bad thing in surf comes from people feeling they’re not getting their fair share of waves. If people were getting enough waves, none of that would matter” (2,100 words)

Being Christian In Western Europe

Pew Research Centre | 29th May 2018

Most adults in Western Europe identify as “non-practising Christians”: They scarcely go to Church, but Christian identity remains “a meaningful marker” for them. They believe in God, but not in the Bible. They accept abortion and same-sex marriage, but they share church-going Christians’ suspicion of outsiders. “Self-identified Christians are more likely than religiously unaffiliated people to express negative views of immigrants, as well as of Muslims and Jews” (7,400 words)

A Primer On Fentanyl

Mark Kleiman | Mark Kleiman | 24th May 2018

The Purdue drug company’s “relentless marketing” of Oxycontin in the 1990s hooked millions of Americans on Oxycontin’s active ingredient, fentanyl, a synthetic and far more powerful cousin of heroin. Chinese laboratories have sinced moved into the market, supplying fentanyl by mail-order. Any user can become an importer and a supplier with little to no risk. “Fentanyls aren’t going to be the last class of purely synthetic and super-potent recreational chemicals; they’re just the first” (2,450 words)

Video of the day Elemental

What to expect:

When water meets light. Photography by Ray Collins, music by André Heuvelman and Jeroen van Vliet (3’40”)

Thought for the day

Go and do the things you can’t. That is how you get to do them
Pablo Picasso

Podcast Anders Sandberg | 80000 Hours

Conversation about life extension. Why help people to live longer, when it’s so easy to make new people?
(1h 22m 54s)

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