Lee Smolin, Vaccination, Bashar Al-Assad, Ukraine

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Lee Smolin: The Thick Present

Joe Boswell | Scientia Salon | 13th February 2015

Physicist discusses time. "Each moment or event may be a parent of future events. A present moment is one that has not exhausted its capability to parent new events. There is a thick present of such events. Past events are those that have exhausted their potential and so are no longer involved in the process of producing new events. They play no further role, there is no reason to regard them as still existing" (3,000 words)

Vaccination: No Way Out

Jerome Groopman | New York Review Of Books | 13th February 2015

Discussion of vaccination and the anti-vaxxer movement linked to two books: On Immunity, by Eula Biss, and Bad Faith, by Paul Offit. Biss comes down in favour of vaccination, but understands the objections: "There is some truth, now, to the idea that public health is not strictly for people like me, but it is through us, literally through our bodies, that certain public health measures are enacted" (3,500 words)

Syria’s Great Survivor

Jeremy Bowen | New Statesman | 13th February 2015

President Bashar Al-Assad is starting to feel like a winner. "The president is speaking out more now because he is feeling more secure. The Syrian armed forces are still cohesive. The Americans appear to be softening their rhetoric. Assad may have started a journey inconceivable even a year ago: moving very slowly from pariah to bulwark of the teetering state system in the Middle East" (3,100 words)

What Does Russia Want?

James Meek | London Review Of Books | 12th February 2015

At this stage in the Russia-Ukraine war, it would be a relatively good outcome for Ukraine to limit the Russian-backed rebels to their current gains in the east of and to cede those areas to Russia. The bad outcome would be to reincorporate the rebel areas into Ukraine with Russia still in de facto control of them. The worst outcome would be continued war in which Russia pushed west towards Kiev (1,038 words)

Video of the day: Rio 10K Timelapse

What to expect: Panoramas of Rio de Janeiro in ultra-high definition (5'24")

Thought for the day

Some people have a way with words, and other people not have way
Steve Martin (https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/humor?page=7)

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