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Monday, August 10, 2009

Catching up from travel back to NC tonight. Here are a few random links.

* Why aren’t universities spending their endowments?

* 'Sci-Fi Writer Attributes Everything Mysterious To "Quantum Flux."'

A reading of Gabriel Fournier's The Eclipse Of Infinity reveals that the new science-fiction novel makes more than 80 separate references to "quantum flux," a vaguely defined force the author uses to advance the plot, resolve conflict as needed, and account for dozens of glaring inconsistencies.
* Ten things we don't understand about humans.

* The world's oldest map?

* Jared Diamond has lunch with the Financial Times.
With a nod to the feast before us, I say there seems little chance that Chinese or Indians will forgo the opportunity to live a western-style existence. Why should they? It is even more improbable that westerners will give up their resource-hungry lifestyles. Diamond, for example, is not a vegetarian, though he knows a vegetable diet is less hard on the planet. “I’m inconsistent,” he shrugs. But if we can’t supply more or consume less, doesn’t that mean that, like the Easter Islander who chopped down the last tree, thus condemning his civilisation to extinction, we are doomed to drain our oceans of fish and empty our soil of nutrients?

“No. It is our choice,” he replies, perhaps subconsciously answering his critics again. “If we continue to operate non-sustainably, then in 50 or 60 years, the US and Japan and Europe will be in bad shape. But my friends in the highlands of New Guinea will be fine. Some of my friends made stone tools when they were children and they could just go back to what their ancestors were doing for 46,000 years. New Guinea highlanders are not doomed,” he says, draining his pomegranate juice. “The first world lifestyle will be doomed if we don’t learn to operate sustainably.”
* And the line between fake news and real news continues to blur.