The Overview - April 05, 2021

The Overview is a weekly roundup of eclectic content in-between essay newsletters & "Conversations" podcast episodes to scratch your brain's curiosity itch.

Hello Eclectic Spacewalkers,

I wish that you and your family are safe and healthy wherever you are in the world. :)

Check out the last The Overview - March 29, 2021: HERE

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Below are some eclectic links for the week of April, 5th, 2021.

Enjoy, share, and subscribe!

Table of Contents:

  • Articles/Essays - Kiran Kashyap, The Conversation, Less Wrong, Macmillan Learning, KOSMOS Journal, The Prospect, Jen Andersson, Questioning Economics, Jason Hinkel, and The Boston Review

  • Book - Culture by Terry Eagleton

  • Documentary - The Global Fight Over Water - DW Documentary

  • Lecture - Arithmetic, Population, and Energy via Dr. Albert A. Bartlett

  • Paper - Anticipation of future cooperation eliminates minimal ingroup bias in children and adults. Via Misch, A., Paulus, M., & Dunham, Y.

  • Podcast - Hamilton Morris - Creating The Future Of Psychedelics | Modern Wisdom Podcast 284

  • TED Talk - A Theory You’ve Never heard of - Michael Robinson

  • Twittersphere - Musk isn’t revolutionizing anything via Dr. Zoheyr Doctor

  • Video - Zhuangzi - The Sage of Uncertainty

  • Website - The Media Manipulation Casebook; Critical Disinformation Studies: Principles of Critical Disinformation Studies



What does it mean for societies to be bioregional self-sufficient? Via Kiran Kashyap

“In working towards bioregionalism as depicted in Figure 3 the goal is to deeply redesign our socio-material systems and governance processes in order to embody a reciprocity with our Earth. As discussed earlier it is likely unfeasible and undesirable to produce everything that our societies need at the one scale — that of the bioregion (Lemos 2020). Alternatively, a multiscalar approach could provide a sound foundation upon which to create thriving place-based communities that engage with ecological limits (White 2021). What can and cannot be produced at each of the household, community, city and bioregional scales? What (if any) global supply chains should exist as long as all social and environmental costs are accounted for? How do societies govern their economies at these different scales? The questions posed are not theoretical but rather, they are framings for ongoing research and development that will help to define the balance and dynamics between the different scales. A cosmopolitan localist approach toward bioregionalism would catalyse a globally connected ‘coming home to place’ (Wahl 2020a). In the words of transition designer and social ecologist Gideon Kossoff, “we do not have to choose between our immediate, geographically proximate community and the larger community of humanity. Indeed, we cannot afford to make this choice: the fate of humanity and planetary ecosystems are inextricably intertwined at the local and global level” (2019, p. 52).”

The Worst of Times Amid the Best of Times via @MacmillanLearn

“If you—from either side of the political spectrum—share some of this anxiety and anguish, and for good reasons, might I point you to three evidence-based information sources that could complement your malaise with a splash of longer-term optimism?...

There are justifications for today’s anxiety and angst. Yet even amid our epoch of incredulity and winter of despair, let us also retain sight of the light and the enduring spring of hope.”

Awakening to Life: Dropping the veil of Separation by @JeremyRLent via @KosmosJournal

“A full recognition of interconnectedness brings with it myriad implications as we traverse its tapestry. Some pathways invite possibilities for the bliss of liberation from the confines of a bounded self. Other pathways open up grievous avenues of shared anguish as we become intimate with the suffering of others and the horrifying devastation of nonhuman life on Earth unfolding before us. Awakening to life in this century of turmoil is far from a painless experience. It takes courage, authenticity, and the humility to reach out to others when the enormity of the loss becomes too unbearable to hold in your own heart. But taken together, pursuing these pathways of awakening can imbue our lives with vibrant meaning as we participate in regenerating the Earth, in setting humanity and nonhuman nature on a course for the Symbiocene—an indefinitely prolonged period of mutual flourishing.

How 10 billion people could live well by 2050 – using as much energy as we did 60 years ago via Joel Millward-Hopkins in the @conversationUS

“We’re a long way from utopian visions of luxury for all, but providing decent living standards to all is already technologically possible. When the alternative is ecological catastrophe and social breakdown, aspiring to such a world seems not only desirable, but essential.”

A review of Where Is My Flying Car? by J. Storrs Hall in Less Wrong

“Hall sets out to tackle the title question: why don’t we have flying cars yet? And indeed, several chapters in the book are devoted to deep dives on the history, engineering, and economics of flying cars. But to fully answer the question, Hall must go much broader and deeper, because he quickly concludes that the barriers to flying cars are not technological or economic—they are cultural and political. To explain the flying car gap is to explain the Great Stagnation itself.”

Islands in the Stream via @ddayen in @TheProspect

Musicians are in peril, at the mercy of giant monopolies that profit off their work.

“But funding for the arts has been a longtime issue. Music worker organizing is relatively new, especially at this level. It remains to be seen whether movement building from all stakeholders, from musicians to fans, will be able to force platform monopolies to give creators just compensation. But the winds are shifting in Washington around Big Tech, and a united front of artists could prove key to raising public sympathies against exploitation and toward basic fairness.

An Economy of Place — part 10: Activating citizen participatory democracy via @jenandersson1

“Politics is our collective decision-making system. Global business influences — often far too much through un-transparent lobbying systems — and executes against those decisions. We all have a collective responsibility for allowing the capture of those two systems by a small group of highly dysfunctional individuals who have amassed power, privilege and wealth and trampled on all other human and non-human life interests in the name of freedom and progress. Yet we are struggling to exercise the potential of citizenship to create a fair and just future.”

Artists would rather think of themselves as outside the system. “The wonderful thing about the DIY vision is also its weakness,” Astra Taylor noted. But the system has come for them, and toppled the structures that allowed them to create. Everyone loves music, and most of us now have the capacity to listen to anything, anywhere, at any time. We can’t hear through the noise that the people who brought us this musical bounty are in trouble.”

Imagination is a serious matter—economists can’t do without it anymore via @HeskevanDoornen in @QuestioningEcon

“But as the next generation of economists, we can help each other. We can nourish our imaginations, and encourage our peers to do the same. We can talk about how it could feel to trust your bank, and what would be required for that to be the case. We can picture how we’d like to grow old, and think backward for what that might necessitate. We can draw images of the public infrastructure we’d want, and see what it would require to build. And we can reassure each other that by doing all that, we’re doing economics.

So let’s use not just our data, our mathematics, and our analysis. Let’s also use our imagination. Because once we collectively imagine the economy we want, half our work will be done.”

Extreme poverty isn’t natural, it’s created via @jasonhickel

“There’s only one problem: the graph’s long-term trend is empirically baseless.  For the period 1981 to the present, it uses World Bank survey data on household consumption.  This is a legitimate method for assessing poverty.  For the period prior to 1981, however, the graph relies on GDP estimates from Bourguignon and Morrison.  The problem is that GDP data cannot legitimately be used to tell us about poverty, because it is not an indicator of livelihoods or provisioning; rather, it is an indicator of commodity production.  Unlike the World Bank data, it does not count non-commodity forms of household consumption (subsistence, commons, mutuality, etc.), which was the dominant form of provisioning for most of history.  This is important, because we know that the colonial period was characterized by the destruction of subsistence economies, the enclosure of commons, forced dispossession and mass enslavement, all of which significantly constrained people’s access to livelihoods and provisions.  In other words, colonialism caused poverty to worsen even in cases where GDP was rising.  This violent history gets obscured by the OWID graph, and repackaged as a happy story of progress.  (For more on this critique, see here, here, and here).”

**REBUTTAL via @noahopinion

Against Hickelism: Poverty is falling, and it isn't because of free-market capitalism

“And this is really what gets me about Hickelism. It seems to envision a world that is zero-sum, or close to it, with rich countries hoovering up the riches that should be flowing to the Global South. At the same time, it envisions the countries of the Global South as being held down and held back by the Western ideology of capitalism.

This worldview simply gives the countries of the Global South far too little credit. Rather than being drained dry, they are advancing, growing their share of the global pie even as they deliver better lives to their own poorest citizens. And they’re doing it not by imbibing neoliberal nostrums from the West, but by experimenting pragmatically with a variety of different government-based and market-based policies — in Deng Xiaoping’s famous words, “crossing the river by feeling the stones”.

U.S. Judges Admit Enhanced Interrogation Is Torture via @BostonReview

“They also acknowledged, for the first time, that the grounds for torturing Abu Zubaydah—who was detained in the wake of September 11 and is still languishing in Guantánamo—were mistaken.

As before, the risk is great that our values will once again succumb to our politics. Too many people will tiptoe around this disgrace as they did around torture, at least until it is safely behind us. Then they will condemn the behavior as a betrayal of our “true” principles. But by that time, it will be too late. We will have moved on to something worse.

We like to believe that values have a power of their own, and can compel a result even when there is no political will behind it. The lesson of history is not kind to that belief. The arc of the moral universe is very long indeed, but we should be clear-eyed that it rarely bends toward justice when justice is needed most. If we are to make our values meaningful, we must demand that they be honored even when sitting politicians are unwilling to act, for that is the only time our values can do much good.


Culture - Terry  Eagleton

Culture has been taken over by capitalism. That is Terry Eagleton’s thesis in Culture, but we are not forsaken to a sealed fate. We can see ourselves as an other among others!

139 - “The anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss writes in his Tristes Tropiques that to feel one’s way into other cultures is to grasp one’s own form of life more fully, since what we find in the behavior of others is an arrestingly unfamiliar version of the laws which regulate our own symbolic universe. For these laws to be made strange is for us to look up on them with fresh insight. Yet it is only because we share some common ground with others that such self-estrangement is possible. If there were merely difference, there could be no such transformative dialogue. In encountering another culture, then, we are also brought to confront a certain ineradicable otherness in ourselves, gazing with new eyes on our own activities through a recognition of these others as our kinsfolk. We must see ourselves, Levi-Strauss remarks in his Structural Anthropology, ‘as an other among others’.


The global fight over water | DW Documentary

Water is life. One of the most, if not the most, coveted resource on the planet is water. As we continue headlong into the future, access to water becomes a top priority for humans and states. The future of water is unclear, but one thing is for certain - the value of water is only going to increase whether our biological needs for H2O are being met or not. The blue gold rush has begun, can anyone stop it?


Arithmetic, Population, and Energy: a presentation by Dr. Albert A. Bartlett, Professor Emeritus Department of Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder

The first slide of Dr. Bartlett’s presentation is the below thesis. Exponentials are everywhere and our inability to understand the underlying function is the “greatest shortcoming of the human race.” I have watched this lecture many times before, and anytime the world seems chaotic or too complex to understand Dr. Bartlett’s friendly demeanor and excellent teaching skills bring us back down to Earth.


Anticipation of future cooperation eliminates minimal ingroup bias in children and adults. Via Misch, A., Paulus, M., & Dunham, Y. - @yarrowdunham

“Thus, the mere anticipation of cooperation is sufficient to induce and reduce ingroup bias in minimal groups (but not real social groups like gender)! The minimal group paradigm is in fact not so minimal at all.”

“From early in development, humans show a strong preference for members of their own groups, even in so-called minimal (i.e., arbitrary and unfamiliar) groups, leading to tremendous negative consequences such as outgroup discrimination and derogation. A better understanding of the underlying processes driving humans’ group mindedness is an important first step toward fighting discrimination and inequality on a bigger level. Based on the assumption that minimal group allocation elicits the anticipation of future within-group cooperation, which in turn elicits ingroup preference, we investigate whether changing participants’ anticipation from within-group cooperation to between-group cooperation reduces their ingroup bias. In the present set of five studies (overall N = 465) we test this claim in two different populations (children and adults), in two different countries (United States and Germany), and in two kinds of groups (minimal and social group based on gender). Results confirm that changing participants’ anticipation of who they will cooperate with from ingroup to outgroup members significantly reduces their ingroup bias in minimal groups, though not for gender, a noncoalitional group. In summary, these experiments provide robust evidence for the hypothesis that children and adults encode minimal group membership as a marker for future collaboration. They show that experimentally manipulating this expectation can eliminate their minimal ingroup bias. This study sheds light on the underlying cognitive processes in intergroup behavior throughout development and opens up new avenues for research on reducing ingroup bias and discrimination.


Hamilton Morris - Creating The Future Of Psychedelics | Modern Wisdom Podcast 284

Hamilton Morris is a godsend. He is the ultimate anti-hippie stoner and psychedelic shaman. The host of Hamilton’s Pharmacopia on HBO (the third season sadly being the final one) is a huge reason why the aura around drug use - especially the most mind-altering kinds - has changed amongst young people. We are currently in the second psychedelic renaissance, and Hamilton is a big reason why.

TED Talk

A Theory You’ve Never heard of - Michael Robinson

We had never heard of the Hamitic Hypothesis before watching this TED Talk, but agree with the presenter that this theory is still very much around in practice today. It is incredibly intriguing how our collective histories shape our perceptions of how we reflect on our ancestors.


We are all living in Elon Musk’s, taxpayer funded, fever dream.


Zhuangzi - The Sage of Uncertainty

“So scram, you! Do not defile me! I’d rather enjoy myself wallowing in the filth than let myself be controlled by some head of state.”

The Dao De Jing, Zhuangzi, and Liezi make up the foundational texts in Daoism - which in a turbulent and uncertain world can help us recenter ourselves amongst the cosmic dance of our lives.


The Media Manipulation Casebook via @BostonJoan @ShorensteinCtr

“The Media Manipulation Casebook is a digital research platform linking together theory, methods, and practice for mapping media manipulation and disinformation campaigns. This resource is intended for researchers, journalists, technologists, policymakers, educators, and civil society organizers who want to learn about detecting, documenting, describing, and debunking misinformation.”

Critical Disinformation Studies: Principles of Critical Disinformation Studies

“At CITAP, we take a critical approach to research on platforms, politics, and information which incorporates history, inequality, power, and culture. We believe that effective analysis of disinformation requires us as researchers:

    To take a holistic approach to disinformation that is grounded in history, society, culture, and politics;

    To center analyses of how social stratification and differentiation—including race and ethnicity, gender, class, and sexual identity—shape dynamics of disinformation;

    To foreground questions of power, institutions, and economic, social, cultural, and technological structures as they shape disinformation; and

    To have clear normative commitments to equality and justice.

To demonstrate how these principles play out in practice, we created a Critical Disinformation Studies syllabus as a provocation to disinformation researchers to rethink many of the assumptions of our nascent field. While the syllabus is fully-functional as is—it could be implemented in its current form for a graduate level seminar—it is also an essay in syllabus form. We draw from a very broad range of scholarship, much which falls outside of conventional studies of “disinformation,” to expand our understanding of what “counts” as disinformation.”

That’s it for this week. Until next time - Ad Astra!


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