The American chestnut was once a contender for the most common tree in the country, by some accounts making up 25% of all trees in the Appalachian area and having a population of up to 3 billion. It was a vital mainstay of both the early US ecosystem and, through its wood and nuts, the early US economy. In the 1900s, a chestnutpocalypse caused by an invasive Asian fungus killed off 99.99% of them and left the species so close to extinct that the discovery of surviving single specimens can still make the news. Now a group claims they’ve genetically engineered a blight-resistant version and are holding a Kickstarter-style fundraiser to replant thousands of specimens all over the United States. Spend $100 and you can have your own American chestnut tree. Almost as cool as a pet passenger pigeon!
Almost Everything In Doctor Strangelove Was True, including the poor security around nuclear bombs, the ability of rogue commanders to initiate first strikes, and the Soviet auto-nuke doomsday device. Interesting less for the information (which is not novel) but for the description of the establishment’s mockery of the movie and condemnation of it as irresponsible, while at the same time sitting on the information that it was pretty accurate.
I respected the Innocence Project, which is why I was pretty horrified to hear that they framed an innocent person for a crime in order to get another (probably guilty) guy off death row for the same crime. Possible ray of hope in that it seems like maybe the “Innocence Project” that did that was an independent effort not linked to the main Innocence Project?
From the front lines of the malaria eradication effort: “When Bill Gates announced a commitment to elimination on the part of the Gate Foundation in 2007, it was roundly understood as an aspirational but unrealistic goal. No one thinks that any more – it’s an inevitability. The only question is how quickly can we do it – and every bit of speed we can muster is another child that doesn’t have to die.”
Vox can predict your politics pretty accurately just by knowing some basic demographic information about you. Fun to play with their widget and see how it responds to different characteristics.
A new study finds that African conflicts are correlated with the temperature, adding to past research showing that heat is associated with crime. Obviously does not bode well for global warming.
I have some commenters here who like to praise ‘traditional patriarchy’ to get back at feminists, but it’s worth remembering how god-awful traditional patriarchy can be. A Reddit thread on cults recently included the experience of one person who grew up in an honest-to-goodness patriarchal family, and it’s not pretty.
SpaceX’s ability to send things into space at low prices means they can finally implement a plan to provide cheap high-quality satellite Internet to the entire world. Good competitor to existing similar efforts like Project Loon. I’m all in favor of getting Internet to poor Africans and rural farmers, but I wonder if an underappreciated benefit of these kinds of projects will be giving anyone who wants it an alternative to Comcast and its ilk. Once there are five or six Internet providers competing for every household, things like threats to Net Neutrality suddenly become a lot less scary.
ISIS militants answer wannabe terrorists’ questions on ask.fm, like “can I fight jihad if I have braces?” and “is there central heating in Syria”?
Reddit: What are some professions where the salary is much higher than people think?. People looking for jobs without college degrees, take note!
Vox discusses studies that show that one reason rich kids do better is growing up in rich neighborhoods. But remember Sariaslan’s research finding that a lot of supposed neighborhood effects aren’t causal and are probably confounded by genetics. Honestly every time I read a paper that says the neighborhood you grow up in matters, I get confused and try to figure out why you can’t lock yourself in your room and read books in a bad neighborhood. Then I remind myself that probably other kids went out of the house as a child and encountered, like, character-building trees and rocks and houses and people or something.
Coordination problems being solved hooray: US, China, agree on climate deal
This week in nominative determinism: did you know the Supreme Court case that legalized interracial marriage in the US was called Loving vs. Virginia?
Woman with heart attack is taken to out-of-network hospital, ends up with $300,000 bill. But what really grabbed me about this article was that there was a near-costless in-network hospital only a few blocks away, but the ambulance drivers were required by law to take their patients to the nearest hospital, regardless of cost. Obviously meant for patient protection, but maybe a situation where the patient would have appreciated a right to waive her rights.
Study confirms the obvious: some people can start exercise programs, stick to them pretty well, but still not lose weight.
I’m trying to avoid discussion of reproductively mature female ants, but since some people I know have gotten involved I might as well give them a shoutout. SSC reader Mytheos Holt talks about the high level of bullying and cruelty in Internet feminism, and Internet feminists respond by making fun of his appearance a lot. I would love to know what is going on inside these people’s heads: “Somebody called us bullies! How can we disprove this? I know! Let’s call him ugly and make fun of his face!”.
Related: Ozy discusses the Zoe post
My old micronational colleague and my successor as Shireroth’s Minister of the Exterior Akhilesh Pillalamarri wrote an article for the Diplomat suggesting that Pakistan should become another Iran. I swear he didn’t get the neoreaction by way of me.
The Philae mission was of course a great success, but it could have been a greater success if not that its batteries died after sixty hours. Someone asks the obvious question: why didn’t it use nuclear batteries, like American missions that have successfully lasted years without recharging? An insider on Twitter answers “political resistance to use in Europe”. Sigh. This is why we
can’t have nice things can only have nice things for sixty hours.
Did you know: congenitally blind people are never schizophrenic. Schizophrenic people are never congenitally blind. Why not? It’s a mystery.
Supreme irony via Alyssa Vance: Johann Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press, was the man who turned books from rare, precious, and carefully controlled items to diverse, common, and mass-produceable goods. The leading biography of him is rare, out of print, and costs $210 on Amazon
Uber’s recent revelation that its employees benefit from Obamacare highlights the act’s ability to help entrepreneurs and nontraditional workers. If the GOP manages to sink it, I hope they stick to their own principles and make sure their replacement maintains that advantage.
A free gift to Michael Anissimov: Areas previously in the Hapsburg Empire still retain increased trust in social institutions.
Utah has the highest suicide rate in the US, something I’ve frequently heard blamed on the repressive nature of Mormonism. Now one scientist presents extremely persuasive evidence that actually high altitude increases suicide rate through oxygen depletion and it’s only Utah’s high-altitude regions where the rate is so increased. Remember, large chunks of what you think are society will always turn out to be biology you haven’t discovered yet.
A bunch of people I respect on Edge get AI embarrassingly wrong. Luke corrects some of their misconceptions, but it’s kind of disappointing to see a discussion about Bostrom’s book by people who obviously haven’t read any of it and don’t think they need to.
Another study finds e-cigarettes are an effective smoking cessation aid.
There’s been a recent spate of attacks in Israel and the Palestinian Territories in which terrorists ram their cars into civilians. In what can only be considered a completely proportionate response, Hamas-affiliated media has released a new hit song called “Run Away Zionist, You Are About To Be Hit By A Car”
High schadenfreude: Kickended, the site that shows you Kickstarter projects that absolutely nobody donated to. About a 50-50 mix of depressing broken dreams vs. pretentious would-be artists getting mugged by reality as they learn an adoring public isn’t going pay them $5000 to hear their freeform poetry about being a barista.
Study: Feeling disgusted makes people lie and cheat more; cleanliness promotes ethical behavior. This always seemed intuitively obvious to me, but I think I have a hypersensitive disgust reaction so I wasn’t sure if it happened to other people as well. I wonder if this confounds the broken window effect, since broken windows and graffiti and stuff both suggest toleration of crime and produce a disgusting environment.
A man waves the ISIS flag and shouts pro-ISIS slogans on the Berkeley campus, then switches gears and waves an Israel flag while shouting pro-Israeli slogans. Which got more negative attention? The results may surprise you, unless of course you’ve read my I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup in which case they’ll probably be pretty obvious. H/T a reader who sent this to me but I can’t remember who. And possible confounder: the Israeli flag is a whole lot more recognizable than ISIS’.
Skulls Unlimited is one of those websites that’s exactly what it says on the tin. Get cher genuine rabbit skulls, dog skulls, springbok skulls and hippopotamus skills (not cheap). They emphasize that most of their “highest quality” human skulls are reserved for “research purposes”, but there’s no indication you can’t pull a Japanese Whaler Gambit and “research” how awesome it would look on your desk. And if you’re not willing to go through even that little bit of hassle, you might be really surprised with what you can get away with selling on Amazon.