title={Women and slavery in the early Irish laws},
author={Eska, Charlene M},
journal={Studia Celtica Fennica},
comment={Slaves were very common in early Irish history. Female slaves, known as cumal, were so valuable that the word became a high-value currency.},
category={Humanity, ireland}

author = {Matthew Dalton and Jane McMahon and Melissa A Kennedy and Rebecca Repper and Saifi Eisa Al Shilali and Yousef AlBalawi and David D Boyer and Hugh Thomas},
title ={The Middle Holocene ‘funerary avenues’ of north-west Arabia},
journal = {The Holocene},
volume = {32},
number = {3},
pages = {183-199},
year = {2022},
doi = {10.1177/09596836211060497},
URL = { },
eprint = { },
abstract = { The desert regions of the Arabian Peninsula and Levant are criss-crossed by innumerable pathways. Across large areas of north-west Arabia, many of these pathways are flanked by stone monuments, the vast majority of which are ancient tombs. Recent radiometric dating indicates that the most abundant of these monuments, elaborate and morphologically diverse ‘pendant’ structures, were constructed during the mid-to-late third millennium BCE. Thousands of kilometres of these composite path and monument features, ‘funerary avenues’, can be traced across the landscape, especially around and between major perennial water sources. By evidencing routes of human movement during this period, these features provide an emerging source for reconstructing important aspects of ancient mobility and social and economic connectivity. They also provide significant new evidence for human/environment interactions and subsistence strategies during the later Middle Holocene of north-west Arabia, and suggest the parallel existence of mobile pastoralist lifeways and more permanent, oasis-centred settlement. This paper draws upon the results of recent excavations and intensive remote sensing, aerial and ground surveys in Saudi Arabia to present the first detailed examination of these features and the vast cultural landscape that they constitute. },
category={Humanity, bedouin}
% The Bedouin collectively know the funerary monuments as “the works of the old men”

Author={Knight, Sam},
Title={The Psychiatrist Who Believed People Could Tell the Future},
journal={The New Yorker},
comment={Covers the history of mid-century British psychiatrists who set up a premonition hotline to try to gather predictions of tragedies before they happened. Addresses how the nocebo effect (the suggestion that something bad COULD happen – like giving someone a sugar pill and then telling them it is poison) has a dramatic effect on the physiology of people. A few of the people who call the hotline are eerily good at predicting bad things happened. And those predictions include the death of one of the psychiatrists himself. (However nothing comes of the hotline.)},
category={Humanity, Science, Criticality, nocebo, placebo, dreams, clairvoyance, premonition, prediction}
} % In a few places the article talks about the conundrum that if a predicted disaster is prevented, then it wouldn’t have been a prediction. But not discussed (since this article has some kind of grounding in science, and this issue is unaddressable by science) is the possibility that the time barrier might be able to be broken with some frequency – some people DO see the future – it’s just that the future can’t be changed. Que sera sera, there’s nothing we can do to address is. The reason people can see the future is because it already is just as set as the past. A depressing notion, for sure, but aligns with the current thinking that there is no such thing as free will.

Author={Graeber, David and Wengrow, David},
Title={Unfreezing the ice age: the truth about humanity’s deep past},
journal={The Guardian},
comment={Humanity’s deep past is basically so convoluted and complex that the society of it is non-homogeneous and unknowable, at least down to 40k years ago. “If we could travel back in time, this remote past would probably strike us as something more akin to a world inhabited by hobbits, giants and elves than anything we have direct experience of today, or in the more recent past.” “What all this brings home is just how radically different the social and physical world of our remote ancestors would have seemed to us – and this would have been true at least down to about 40,000BC. In other words, there is no “original” form of human society. Searching for one can only be a matter of myth-making.” “Anthropologists who spend years talking to indigenous people in their own languages, and watching them argue with one another, tend to be well aware that even those who make their living hunting elephants or gathering lotus buds are just as sceptical, imaginative, thoughtful and capable of critical analysis as those who make their living by operating tractors, managing restaurants or chairing university departments.” “our remote ancestors were behaving much like Nambikwara. They shifted back and forth between alternative social arrangements, building monuments and then closing them down again, allowing the rise of authoritarian structures during certain times of year then dismantling them. The same individual could experience life in what looks to us sometimes like a band, sometimes a tribe, and sometimes like something with at least some of the characteristics we now identify with states.” “In truth, this flexibility, and potential for political self-consciousness, was never entirely lost. Seasonality is still with us – even if it is a pale shadow of its former self. In the Christian world, for instance, there is still the midwinter “holiday season” in which values and forms of organisation do, to a limited degree, reverse themselves: the same media and advertisers who for most of the year peddle rabid consumerist individualism suddenly start announcing that social relations are what’s really important, and that to give is better than to receive.”},
category={Humanity, Politics, Criticality}
% This is the author of Debt: The First 5000 Years. % See also NY Times review of Graeber’s post-humus new book on the subject, The Dawn of Everything: \url{} % A peer-reviewed scholarly approach to the latest in anthropological science to suggest that, as Adam Curtis says, we are trapped in a world of our own making, and the past shows that entirely different political and cultural systems are possssssible. % Also: \url{}

Author={Markham, Lauren},
Title={The Crow Whisperer},
comment={Some musings on the ability to communicate with animals, including some awesome evidence that you don’t want to get on the bad side of crows, and an old punk rocker who has a special and uncanny relationship with animals.},
category={Humanity, animal intelligence, crows}

title={Portals to Other Realms},
author={Carvings, Rock and Varner, Gary R},
url={}, comment={A survey of the paleolithic cup and ring marks found in ancient sites around the world, going back tens if not hundreds of thousands of years. How can humans have been using identical symbols all around the world, over tens if not hundreds of thousands of years, and we now have no idea what they meant?},
category={Science, archaeology, Humanity, cup marks, cup and rings, paleolithic art} }

author = {Bostrom, Nick},
title = “{Are We Living in a Computer Simulation?}”,
journal = {The Philosophical Quarterly},
volume = {53},
number = {211},
pages = {243-255},
year = {2003},
month = {04},
abstract = “{I argue that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to become extinct before reaching a ‘posthuman’ stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of its evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we shall one day become posthumans who run ancestor‐simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. I discuss some consequences of this result.}”,
issn = {0031-8094},
doi = {10.1111/1467-9213.00309},
url = {},
eprint = {},
comment = {A logical argument underlying the chances that we live in a simulation.},
category = {Humanity, Science, simulation, life the universe and everything}
% See also: \url{}

Author={Zimmer, Carl},
Title={Some Polynesians Carry DNA of Ancient Native Americans, New Study Finds},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={New DNA evidence suggests that people from South America were present in the Polynesian islands before Europeans arrived in the middle of the millennium. This suggests that either ancient Polynesians made their way to South America and brought some people back to the Pacific islands with them, or South American Native Americans made their way (or lost their way) to the Pacific Islands. This COULD support the Thor Heyerdahl theory in Kon-Tiki that South Americans ventured out onto the Pacific and made their way to the central Pacific. Others think that idea is outmoded and old-fashioned, and Polynesians (with their double-hulled canoes) were simply so good at crossing seas that they easily made it to South America and back. It’s also possible the DNA evidence simply isn’t totally conclusive.},
category={Humanity, dna, polynesians, canoes, thor heyerdahl, kon-tiki, south america, native americans}

title={Re: CAPTCHAs-Understanding CAPTCHA-Solving Services in an Economic Context.},
author={Motoyama, Marti and Levchenko, Kirill and Kanich, Chris and McCoy, Damon and Voelker, Geoffrey M and Savage, Stefan},
booktitle={USENIX Security Symposium},
comment={Finds that the retail price to hire humans to solve CAPTCHA tests was as low as $1000 for a million CAPTCHA solutions.},
category={Humanity, human brain, intelligence, artificial intelligence, captcha}
% The test figures out if you are human or not. The miracle of evolution that is the human brain can be hired to perform something that only humans can do for $1000 per million tests. Is that worse than when humans were exploited for physical labor?

Author={Strogatz, Steven},
Title={One Giant Step for a Chess-Playing Machine},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Looks at the success of neural networks and AlphaZero and considers whether soon neural networks will be powerful enough to not only solve problems with brute-force calculations, but to provide elegant proofs of why things are true. They would provide not just solutions, but insight into how things works. And then looks beyond that, to a day when neural networks can solve problems, but cannot explain how in terms humans can understand the neural networks become oracles “ We would not understand why the oracle was always right, but we could check its calculations and predictions against experiments and observations, and confirm its revelations. Science, that signal human endeavor, would reduce our role to that of spectators, gaping in wonder and confusion.”},
category={Humanity, Science, neural networks, alphazero, go, chess}

Author={Pressler, Jessica},
Title={How Anna Delvey Tricked New York},
journal={The Cut},
comment={The story of Anna Delvey, aka Anna Sorokin, who led the life of a trust fund kid for a few years while schmoozing rich New Yorkers. She attempted to fool her way into building a club, but her fraud was eventually found out because she couldn’t pay her hotel bills.},
category={Humanity, Economics, fraud}
% The interesting thing about Anna Delvey, to me, is that if she HAD money
% behind her, she could have done all those same things, got the backing for
% her club, failed, declared bankruptsy, and then ended up fighting her
% creditors in court, probably while trying some other equally ridiculous new
% scheme. THAT’S the way the system works - she was just doing it without
% BEING rich first. So she ends up in jail, instead of being able to try again.

title={Desert thirst as disease},
author={McGee, WJ},
journal={Journal of the Southwest},
comment = {Recounts the story of Pablo Valencia, a prospector who survived more than 6 days in the Sonoran Desert without water. Despite deep delerium he managed to crawl back to within shouting distance of camp where he was found by W. J. McGee. Part of his motivation to keep going was to knife the guy who left him out there. At one point he claims to have felt himself die, but “cooler” night temperatures revived him. McGee claims he lasted more than twice as long as those typically lost in the desert without water.},
category = {Humanity, Health, thirst, desert, arizona}
% References “the young historian Harrison Ford” who occasionally stayed with McGee at his desert camp
% When they found Valencia they gave him nitroglycerin pills - which have been known for 150 years to treat heart problems, though nobody knows exactly how.
% The frst stage (according to mcgee) is complaining.
% The second stage is derangement. The solitary sufferer may soliloquize. He gives an account of companions of his contracting for 5 gallons of ice cream to be delievered to a town in the desert.
% In the final stage the body begins to mummify from the outside working in. Valencia was covered with cuts that did not bleed. Eventually the tongue swells until it protrudes from the mouth - and flies in the desert come and land on it. They weep tears of blood.
% There’s the story of the guy who crawls into a watering hole only to find himself on top of a dead body.
% Also check out this research that suggests the sensation of pleasure (dopamine release) from drinking water is connected to the ACTION of drinking water, not the acrual satisfaction of thirst itself:
% \url{}

Author={Alexander, Michelle},
Title={Reckoning With Violence},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Current numbers on incarceration: 2.2 million in prison, 4.5 million under correctional control (parole or probation) outside of prison, 70 million who have criminal records. 54 percent of people in state prisons were convicted of a crime classified as violent. While non-violent offenders vastly inflated the numbers in prison, and there’s a popular move towards “smart on crime” where authorities are tough on violent crime and soft on nonviolent crime, she argues here that to truly reduce the horror of our prison sytem we need to address the violent offenders. Cites “Until We Reckon”, a book by Danielle Sered from the organiztion Common Justice that offers victims of violent crime a restorative justice alternative to prison. Victims, when given the choice, choose the restortative option over prison for the perpetrators 90 percent of the time — they know that 95 percent of cases end in plea bargains where the perpetrator never has to face their crimes, the victims feel like prison doesn’t do what they want it to. Prison serves neither the victim nor the perpetrator.},
category={Humanity, Criticality, prison, restorative justice, CUP}

Author={Carey, Benedict},
Title={When the Bully Is the Boss},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Cites studies that show that despite much looking, there is no evidence that tough, bullying bosses are any more effective or faster than those that are not. Also cites research showing that leaders have a natural tendency to arise from groups — and those people tend to be making decisions from the gut, with ego and confidence. As they get rewarded for this, they start to believe their own leadership skills are natural — even though the evidence shows that they are not any better than those who are deliberative and careful decisions makers who base their decisions on evidence. This sense of entitlement is reinforced by subordinates who tend to give confident leaders the benefit of the doubt.They can see their own flaws and skills, but start to only see flaws in those they supervise.},
category={Humanity, bosses, Criticality, bullying, leadership}
% Aren’t the findings reported in this piece suggesting that as a society we have
% a sort of cognitive-dissonance of elevating exactly the wrong people to
% positions of power? Individual leaders who get the benefit of the doubt simply
% because of their “rosy halo.” People who don’t feel they need to be
% transparent, who make snap decisions, who internalize the belief that they are
% natural leaders and see only the weaknesses of subordinates. These people (with
% the acknowledged exception of the ones who are just
% exceptionally talented) are essentially people who are NOT
% deliberative and thoughtful, and who are making decisions based on gut feelings
% rather than evidence.
% Wouldn’t one way to improve our culture be to recognize this cognitive
% dissonance, and try to mitigate for it, and raise more leaders who ARE
% deliberative and make decisions based on evidence? And maybe in the same stroke
% we’ll also get leaders who happen to treat other people with respect.

Author={Miller, T. Christian and Rose, Megan and Faturechi, Robert},
Title={Fight The Ship},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Long-form telling of the story of the Fitzgerald — the navy desroyer hit by a cargo ship. Covers a lot of detail about navy culture, and amazing individual stories, like the guy pulled from a flooding cabin and rushed to the bridge because he was a specialist in steering the ship.},
category={Humanity, navy, destroyers, shipping}

Author={Druckerman, Pamela},
Title={The Bad News About Helicopter Parenting: It Works},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Research shows that “authoritative” parents who are heavily involved in their children’s lives by emphasizing adaptability, problem-solves, and independence and use reason to persuade kids to do things that are good for them result in kids with better life outcomes and higher incomes and education levels.},
category={Humanity, education, parenting, helicopter parents}

Author={King, Gilbert},
Title={The True-Life Horror That Inspired Moby-Dick},
journal={Smithsonian Magazine},
comment={Tells the story of the whaling ship Essex, Melville’s inspiration for Moby Dick. While the boats were out chasing a pod, a big bull sperm whale charged and sank the Essex. The survivors ended up in the small boats for months, eventually resorting to cannibalism — eventually resorting to drawing lots and shooting a cabin boy to eat.},
category={Humanity, whaling, ships, cannibalism}
% Not a great article. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to find a well-written gripping account of this story. Apparently even the movie Ron Howard made about it is pretty bad.

Author={Scheffler, Samuel},
Title={The Importance of the Afterlife. Seriously.},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Does NOT argue anything about a spiritual afterlife, instead argues that the thing that gives value to our lives is knowing that there will be people around after us to benefit from our works. Raises the prospect from Children Of Men of a world with no young people, and how that would inherently terrifying to most people because they would lose all sense of purpose. Argues that there is VALUE to future people, because we imagine our work in the CONTEXT of them.},
category={Humanity, afterlife, philosophy, children of men}
% Where this falls apart a little is that there just BEING future people might not actually be enough.
% Imagine a world population dwindled to 100,000. The vast bulk of human
% creation to that point would STILL have been completely pointless. It’s just
% that our feeble minds have a SENSE of future people that may or may not
% reflect any kind of realistic outcome that results from the activities of
% future people.

Title={Amish Hackers},
journal={The Technium},
comment={Argues that the Amish are not anti-technology but just slow adopters of technology. They try new technologies out, and the elders make a judgment (sometimes years later) on whether it is a benefit to the community or not. Includes details about how the Amish widely adopted pneumatic power. Includes a set of criteria the Amish use to judge new technology, and implies that maybe we could learn something about our own use of technology.},
category={Humanity, Science, technology, amish, pneumatics}

title={Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World: An Identification Guide},
author={Stamets, P. and Weil, A.},
publisher={Ten Speed Press},
comment={The book on psychedelic mushrooms. Includes Stamets heuristic for identifying them: If a gilled mushroom has purplish brown to black spores, and the flesh bruises bluish, the mushroom in question is very likely a psilocybin-producing species. Tells how to do a spore print: lay the cap on a white piece of paper (if the spores are dark-colored) and let sit for a few hours under a glass (to preserve moisture). Works best with fresh mushrooms. Also covers some of the history of psychedelic mushrooms - mostly in mesoamerica and how that history was repressed by white invaders. Describes the habitat of the mushrooms: they grow on dead plant matter and like disturbed habitats like landslides or eroded places - this means they have benefited greatly from human civilization because humans bring habitat disruption with them everywhere, particularly with civilization. Stamets attributes this to a kind of intelligence on the part of the mushrooms. The forword by Andrew Weil includes a paragraph about the uncanniness of how these mushrooms evolved this chemical that affects humans so profoundly, and how this suggests a much deeper complexity to the universe than is commonly understood (read: magic).},
category={Humanity, mushrooms, psychedelics, psylocybin, civilzation}
% My under-informed crackpot theory is that ancient humans are responsible for the evolution of these mushrooms.
% Some early gatherers notice a mild chemical pleasure from certain mushrooms, so they start cultivating those by eating more of them.
% Those mushroom evolve more of the chemicals in response. They learn to grow in the human’s environments and spread with humans around the world.
% This is mostly supported by the fact that there’s a lot of mushrooms growing in regions populated early by humans (if you look at a map) like Africa, and across Russia.
% In North America the mushrooms grow right down the path of human incursion from Russia. There’s far more in the Pacific Northwest than in the Northeast.
% This amazingness of this information is something I find frustrating because it is knowledge I would have actively avoided as a younger person.
% My framework of the world was shaped into a very rigid unmalleable structure, that would not have even given serious credence to this information if
% it had been presented to me. I would have dismissed it as hippie bullshit. (maybe)
% But that these mushrooms evolved IS clearly amazing, and has amazing implications for the depth of things we don’t know.
% I would love to be able to convey that to others who remain rigid and avoiding willingness to even consider the profoundness of this stuff.
% Not about getting them to even DO psychedelics, but just to appreciate the amazing depths they suggest of how little we know, how weak evidence-based
% science remains, and how complex human minds, time and space really are.
% Some recent research suggests psilocybin evolved in mushrooms to change mushroom-eating insects minds to not wanting to eat mushrooms:
% \url{}

title={Keep the River on Your Right},
author={Schneebaum, T.},
series={Evergreen black cat book},
publisher={Grove Press},
comment={The classic true story of the NYC artist who wandered off into the jungle and joined with an uncontacted tribe. Eventually partook in cannibalism.},
category={Humanity, cannibalism, uncontacted tribes, peru,
% I read this book years ago because I had read about it in a paper
arguing that Schneebaum went “native” or gave up his whole “civilized
self”, to the point of cannibalism. But his description of the
cannibalism really undermines that idea. He doesn’t present it as his
ever having lost his sense of what his previous life had been like.

Author={Doucleff, Michaeleen},
Title={How To Get Your Kids To Do Chores (Without Resenting It)},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={In other countries many kids and teenagers WANT to help out with chores around the house - even if those families migrate to the US. Research suggests that this may because parents start them on helping out when they are as young as 1 or 2 years old. Typically when they are that young they already WANT to help, but parents avoid it because it’s more work to help them to help than it is to just do it themselves. But they learn to enjoy helping out if they are started that young, and it carries through to their teenage years.},
category={Humanity, kids, chores, immigrants}

Author={MacFarquhar, Neil},
Title={How a Disappearing Sea Became a Town’s Main Attraction},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={The Aral sea has retreated more than 70 miles from its historic shoreline due to bad water management decisions by the Russian government as part of its economic management of agriculture. It left behind rusting hulks of ships in sandy and salty dry land of the former lakebed. Now tourists go there to see the site of a man-made ecological disaster.},
category={Humanity, aral sea, ships, ecology, russia, uzbekistan}

Title={Possible Meath archaeological discovery described as ‘very significant’},
comment={A crop circle that arose in a field in Ireland during a drought as exposed the location of a 3000 year old henge 200 meters in diameter.},
category={Humanity, ireland, henge}
% What I’m sort of amazed at is the road, that runs right by the henge
% but with a reasonable buffer. And the other edges of the field don’t
% cross over the border of the henge. To me, that suggests that it’s
% likely that the layout of that landscape - the path that people
% traveled across it, and where the fields are in relationship to the
% borders of the road and the river - haven’t changed in 3000 years.
% It’s like the landscape itself, or at least the way humans used the
% landscape, retained a subconscious memory of the henge being there.

Author={Strickland, Carol},
Title={Legacy of Modern Times, an L.I. Utopia},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Modern Times was one of the utopian movements on Long Island. They were located in Brentwood and based on principles of complete individual liberty and absence of greed, had no jail, judge, money or taxes. Everyone had shelter, food, clothing and unlimited freedom of expression, until the notoriety of some members’ beliefs brought its dissolution. A octoganal schoolhouse is still located in Brentwood.},
category={Humanity, utopian organizations, long island}

Author={Gomez, Melissa and Jacobs, Julia},
Title={Texas Man’s Near-Fatal Lesson: A Decapitated Snake Can Still Bite
journal={The New York Times},
comment={A rattlesnake can still bite even after it’s decapitated and dead.},
category={Humanity, Science, snakes}
% For what possible evolutionary purpose could this be true?
% There can’t be one.
% It has to be simply that the snake’s defensive tactics are so deeply
% instinctual that it still tries to kill even after it is dead.
% Which, is one way to identify pure evil.
% So evil, that this story taps some deeply human instinctual fear.
% Like Alien.

Author={Schuessler, Jennifer},
Title={Think You Always Say Thank You? Oh, Please},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={A study across many languages finds that people express gratitude verbally far less often than they think — about once in every 20 occasions. This is in the context of the fact that people signal the need for some kind of assistance about every minute and a half. The researchers argue this is a good thing: it indicates that the default mode of human behavior is cooperation. Thanks is not expected because cooperation is expected. English and Italian have far more thanks than other languages — there’s a culture of politeness embedded in Western European languages. This article also cites research by the same people finding that “Huh?” is an expression in most languages requesting clarifying information. A rare example of a univeral word.},
category={Humanity, language, universal words, gratitude, thank you, English}
% The other universal words I’ve read about are OK and Coke. (I think I may have read that in the Coke book.)
% It would be interesting to compare the average thanks to individuals. If you thank people more often, does it mean you are less trusting of people to cooperate?

Author={Grady, Denise and Hoffman, Jan},
Title={States Turn to an Unproven Method of Execution: Nitrogen Gas},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={States struggling to find a way to execute people that might be considered “humane” are considering turning to nitrogen. There is no scientific research about using nitrogen inhalation for killing, and some people worry that it could simply raise new problems worse than the ones of all the other methods that generally don’t work well. This article is full of interesting information about suicide and execution. Apparently humans subjected to too much carbon dioxide feel like they are suffocating, but this isn’t true of inert gasses like helium and nitrogen. Surprisingly, humans can’t really detect the LACK of oxygen. Some assisted suicide groups advocate for nitrogren inhalation as a way to kill yourself. Saying you just pass out and then pass away. But those groups argue assisted suicide is a tradition of tenderness, while execution is a tradition of violence.},
category={Humanity, Criticality, Health, assisted suicide, execution, nitrogen, inert gasses}

Author={Srinivasan, Amia},
Title={Silent Treatment},
comment={Review of The Incest Diary by Anonymous. A memoir about a woman repeatedly raped by her father as she was growing up. The unique thing is the author admits, in some case, to enjoying sex with her father. As much as The Incest Diary is a book about pain, it is undeniably also a book about pleasure. The author lusted and lusts still after her father. She is furious when she comes to realize that he also has sex with her mother. When she is eight years old and they move to a new house, she assumes that she will share the master bedroom with him. After her parents divorce two years later, she begins leading her father into his room for sex. Even once the abuse is over, she cannot have an orgasm without seeing her father’s face, “as if my ultimate erotic experience is being raped by the man who created me.” A few times a year, she has a dream in which it is just her and her father, alone in the world, fucking “all we want.” “My father is my secret,” she writes. “But the secret under the secret is that sometimes I liked it. Sometimes I wanted it, and sometimes I seduced him and made him fuck me.'' The reviewer points out that this suggests that consent (or lack of it) is not enough to recognize victims of sexual violence. ’This is why the question of whether or not a child “wants it” is irrelevant to the morality of pedophilia: not because children don’t want it — or do want it — but because “wanting it” is itself something so easily formed by adult violence. And not just the declaration of the wanting — what is a child’s “let’s fuck” but a simulacrum of consent? — but the wanting itself. When a victim of sexual abuse says she wanted it, she is telling us about the sort of person the abuse required her to be. ’},
category={Humanity, Criticality, sexual violence, rape, incest, memoirs}

Author={Horowitz, Alexandra},
Title={Is This Dog Actually Happy?},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Argues that most dog memes on the internet, and tv, and movies, ascribe human emotions and characteristics to the dogs. They mostly don’t represent real dog behavior. She considers these demeaning to the species. With the possible exception of videos that show dogs doing regular dog behavior that we appreciate for being dog-like.},
category={Humanity, dogity, dogs, emotions, memes, internet}
% A good point, but while these memes are undoubtedly dumb, it’s hard to argue that most of them do any damage to the dogs, even as a species.
% Other than the occasionally uncomfortable outfit, how are they suffering? By humans paying MORE doting attention to them?
% As if dogs are aware of the internet?

Author={Bui, Quoctrung and Kisby, Roger},
Title={Bricklayers Think They’re Safe From Robots. Decide for Yourself.},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={This article is framed as as if it were a John Henry man-versus-machine contest. But really it has very little about bricklaying robots, which are very VERY far behind human bricklayers right now. (They won’t really be competitive until they can do corners, and they are far from that, so far.) Mostly this is a pretty heartwarming portrait of an awesome bricklaying competition! Bricklaying hasn’t changed much from trowels, bricks, mortar and string for a 1000 years. The winners this year laid 700 feet of brick with no imperfections. Contest rules say the wall can’t vary by more than a 1/4 inch.},
category={Humanity, bricklaying, john henry}

Author={Riener, Andrew},
Title={The Power of Touch, Especially for Men},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={``The benefits of nonsexual touch read like a 19th-century tonic advertisement, except that the outcomes have been scientifically vetted. Touch has been found, among other things, to reduce stress, heart rate and blood pressure. Touch has even been found to lower the level of cortisol in the body (especially in women) which, when elevated, impedes our working memory and, most critically, the immune system’s resiliency. It should be great news that something free, widely available and lacking in harmful side effects is so good for us, but it gets ignored in a touch-averse culture like ours.’’ Discusses how men handle stress more poorly than women, by growing stoic or “cowboy” in the face of stress. Women get higher levels of oxytocin when stressed which enhances their ability to cope. But both men and women get higher oxytocin levels through affectionate touch. This “gender role stress” doesn’t make men more resilient, it makes then more vulnerable to anxiety and depression, and prevents them from feeling like they should seek mental help. Thus they develop more stress-related disorders like hypertension, alcohol, and drug abuse.},
category={Humanity, Health, stress, touch, men}
% Uh, nice, but this doesn’t jive with other stuff I’ve seen that suggests that women are twice as likely to have anxiety disorders and more likely than men to have depression.
% That makes this feel like a real chickenegg relationship. Maybe men have less depression and anxiety because of their stocism, but that is a more brittle mechanism in more extreme circumstances?

Author={Grady, Denise},
Title={Few Risks Seen To the Children Of 1st Cousins},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Scientists find that there is only a slightly elevated risk of genetic diseases in children born of first cousins. While elevated it is not a risk at all that would preclude those couples from having children. This is not to be confused with incest — sex between siblings or parents — which is thought to have a much higher risk of genetic disease. (Though apparently as of this article in 2002 it sounds like nobody had actually studied that.) The risk to first cousins is far less than the risk of some parents who simply have a genetic disease, and ethically those people are not told they shouldn’t have children. In other cultures it is considered preferable to marry a first cousin. The US has some kind of hangup, possibly beause of the eugenics movement which flourished in the US in the first part of the 20th century. Many states (as of 2002) have laws against marrying first cousins, and people are told by local doctors they shouldn’t have children, but those doctors are misinformed.},
category={Humanity, Criticality, incest, reproduction, eugenics, first cousins, genetics}

Author={Willingham, Daniel T.},
Title={How to Get Your Mind to Read},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Research shows that Americans are not good at reading. This is not due to low-literacy levels, but because of low comprehension levels. Willingham argues here that comprehension suffers because of lack of factual knowledge that is necessary to fill in gaps of understanding not written in text. That knowledge is not typically included in texts because it would make the texts long and dull for people who do already know the information. `` “Write for your audience” means, in part, gambling on what they know.’’},
category={Humanity, education, reading comprehension, writing, factual knowledge}

author={Faurie, Charlotte and Raymond, Michel},
title={Handedness, homicide and negative frequency-dependent selection},
journal={Proc Biol Sci},
publisher={The Royal Society},
abstract={Humans exhibit hand preference for most manual activities in which they are specialized. Right- and left-handers have coexisted at least since the Upper Palaeolithic, and left-handers are in the minority in all human populations. The persistence of the polymorphism of handedness is a puzzle because this trait is substantially heritable and several fitness costs are associated with left-handedness. Some countervailing benefit is required to maintain the polymorphism. Left-handers may have a frequency-dependent advantage in fights–the advantage being greater when their frequency is lower. Sports data from Western societies are consistent with this prediction. Here, we show that the frequency of left-handers is strongly and positively correlated with the rate of homicides across traditional societies. It ranges from 3% in the most pacifistic societies, to 27% in the most violent and warlike. This finding is consistent with a frequency-dependent selection mechanism maintaining left-handedness in these societies.},
comment={Left-handedness should evolve out of humanity, unless it provides some evolutionary benefit. There is some evidence that it does, when it comes to combat. And this is born out by higher rates of left-handedness in societies with more warlike cultures.},
category={Humanity, Science, left-handedness, war, battle, Sport}

Author={Sutton, Robert I.},
Title={It’s Up to You to Start a Good Fight},
journal={Harvard Business Review},
comment={Advises that the best way to generate ideas is to lead a meeting of people willing to argue about things. Suggests that first ideas should be generated, then people should be encouraged to criticize one another’s idea, and finally hurt feelings should be patched up. Advises to fight as if you are right and listen as if you are wrong. Also emphasizes that the leader needs to model this behavior and surrender gracefully if proven wrong or if your own flaws are identified.},
category={Humanity, business, meetings, team building, office work, teams}
% referenced in this NY Times opinion piece about raising childred to argue without malace: \url{}

Author={Manoogian III, John and Benson, Buster},
Title={Cognitive Bias Codex},
journal={Visual Capitalist},
comment={An infographic that takes the 188 categories of cognitive biases listed on Wikipedia and lumps them into four big categories: What Should We Remember?, We Need To Act Fast, Not Enough Meaning, and Too Much Information.},
category={Humanity, Science, Criticality, psychology, behavioral economics}
% The wikipedia entry on cognitive biases includes criticism that psychology has created so many cognitive biases that they can be used in both sides of any argument to claim that one’s own perspective is the nonbiased one, and your oponents is subject to bias.

% To me, this is an interesting graphic because it suggests that while you might see a report about a study of a specific cognitive bias, it really should only be understood in the contect of the larger categories they belong to. In other words: a study has defined a new human behavior, but it’s just one small behavior of this whole category of human behaviors.

Author={Lanchester, John},
Title={The Case Against Civilization},
journal={The New Yorker},
comment={Reviews books and research on humanity’s move to agriculture and civilization. Finds that all the things that made civilization possible — cereal grains, writing — were essential tools of oppression. Argues that the commonly accepted narrative that humans discovered agriculture which made civilization possible, and so left behind hunter gathering is wrong. Instead humans resisted for thousands of years the drag into civilization because the hunter gatherer life was so much better. Jared Diamond calls the move to agriculture the worst mistake in human history. Agriculture rose with cereal grains specifically because they were easy to tax, while other foods like breadfruit or plantain were not. Taxation led to writing, to keep lists of who has paid, and writing and cereals led to an elite ruling class, and thus civilization — at the cost of slave labor and a decreased quality of life for most people.},
category={Humanity, Science, agriculture, civilization, fire, bushmen, keynes, Economics}
% On fire: In “Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States,” James C. Scott, a professor of political science at Yale, presents a plausible contender for the most important piece of technology in the history of man. It is a technology so old that it predates Homo sapiens and instead should be credited to our ancestor Homo erectus. That technology is fire. We have used it in two crucial, defining ways. The first and the most obvious of these is cooking. As Richard Wrangham has argued in his book “Catching Fire,” our ability to cook allows us to extract more energy from the food we eat, and also to eat a far wider range of foods. Our closest animal relative, the chimpanzee, has a colon three times as large as ours, because its diet of raw food is so much harder to digest. The extra caloric value we get from cooked food allowed us to develop our big brains, which absorb roughly a fifth of the energy we consume, as opposed to less than a tenth for most mammals’ brains. That difference is what has made us the dominant species on the planet.
% The other reason fire was central to our history is less obvious to contemporary eyes: we used it to adapt the landscape around us to our purposes. Hunter-gatherers would set fires as they moved, to clear terrain and make it ready for fast-growing, prey-attracting new plants. They would also drive animals with fire. They used this technology so much that, Scott thinks, we should date the human-dominated phase of earth, the so-called Anthropocene, from the time our forebears mastered this new tool.
% We don’t give the technology of fire enough credit, Scott suggests, because we don’t give our ancestors much credit for their ingenuity over the long period—ninety-five per cent of human history—during which most of our species were hunter-gatherers. “Why human fire as landscape architecture doesn’t register as it ought to in our historical accounts is perhaps that its effects were spread over hundreds of millennia and were accomplished by ‘precivilized’ peoples also known as ‘savages,’ ” Scott writes. To demonstrate the significance of fire, he points to what we’ve found in certain caves in southern Africa. The earliest, oldest strata of the caves contain whole skeletons of carnivores and many chewed-up bone fragments of the things they were eating, including us. Then comes the layer from when we discovered fire, and ownership of the caves switches: the human skeletons are whole, and the carnivores are bone fragments. Fire is the difference between eating lunch and being lunch.

Author={Preston, Douglas},
Title={A New History of the Donner Party and the Dark Side of Manifest Destiny},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Review of a new book called THE BEST LAND UNDER HEAVEN by Michael Wallis that tries to separate the myth from the facts around the Donner Party. Yet even the truth is intensly sensational. Ends with a quote from one of the people “Remember, never take no cutoffs and hurry along as fast as you can.”},
category={Humanity, history, donner party, cannibalism, the west}

Author={Bryant, Adam},
Title={How to Run a More Effective Meeting},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Covers the basics of running a meeting (agenda, start on time, end with a plan) but then dives into more in-depth tips and things to try.},
category={Humanity, Other, meetings, business}
% Not sure about the year/month on this because again this is one of those things the Times doesn’t seem to feel the need to put a fucking date on.

Author={Overall, Christine},
Title={Think Before You Breed},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Argues that we need to develop a culture of ethical questioning of the decision to have children. Similar to the way we decide whether to buy a house or not. At the moment, the burden is on people who choose NOT to have children to explain themselves. In fact, people are still expected to provide reasons not to have children, but no reasons are required to have them. It’s assumed that if individuals do not have children it is because they are infertile, too selfish or have just not yet gotten around to it. In any case, they owe their interlocutor an explanation. On the other hand, no one says to the proud parents of a newborn, Why did you choose to have that child? What are your reasons? The choice to procreate is not regarded as needing any thought or justification.'' Such a question also profoundly affects the well-being of existing people (the potential parents, siblings if any, and grandparents). And it has effects beyond the family on the broader society, which is inevitably changed by the cumulative impact — on things like education, health care, employment, agriculture, community growth and design, and the availability and distribution of resources — of individual decisions about whether to procreate.’’ Perhaps people fail to see childbearing as an ethical choice because they think of it as the expression of an instinct or biological drive, like sexual attraction or “falling in love,” that is not amenable to ethical evaluation. But whatever our biological inclinations may be, many human beings do take control over their fertility, thanks to contemporary means of contraception and abortion.'' My aim, I hasten to add, is not to argue for policing people’s procreative motives. I am simply arguing for the need to think systematically and deeply about a fundamental aspect of human life. The burden of proof — or at least the burden of justification — should therefore rest primarily on those who choose to have children, not on those who choose to be childless.’’ ``Because children are dependent, needy and vulnerable, prospective parents should consider how well they can love and care for the offspring they create, and the kind of relationship they can have with them. The genuinely unselfish life plan may at least sometimes be the choice not to have children, especially in the case of individuals who would otherwise procreate merely to adhere to tradition, to please others, to conform to gender conventions, or to benefit themselves out of the inappropriate expectation that children will fix their problems. Children are neither human pets nor little therapists.’’},
category={Humanity, procreation, having kids, children, ethics}

author={Cole, James},
title={Assessing the calorific significance of episodes of human cannibalism in the Palaeolithic},
journal={Scientific Reports},
publisher={The Author(s) SN -},
pages={44707 EP -},
comment={Paper that tries to calculate the caloric value of the human body. Concludes that humans are too few calories, relative to megafauna, to be generally worth it, and therefore most instances of ancient cannibalism must have been for ritual purposes.},
category={Humanity, cannibalism}
% See NY Times coverage here: \url{}
% It seems like this paper is getting press coverage mostly because it’s a great headline. There aren’t really any amazing revelations here. OBVIOUSLY humans have far lower calories quanities than big animals. How does knowing the specifics (which have many inaccuracies in this research anyway) help anyone?

Author={Nordland, Rod},
Title={Who Killed the Iceman? Clues Emerge in a Very Cold Case},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={A recap of the murder of Ötzi, the Iceman, who died in 3300 B.C in the Italian mountains. Science now has the ability to recreate much of his story, in some ways more detailed than even modern-day homocides because of the quality of the preservation of his body. ``Both in life and in death, the Iceman seems uncannily familiar to his modern descendants, said the museum’s deputy director, Katharina Hersel. “He is so close to us. He uses the same equipment as we do when he goes to the mountain, just the materials are different,” she said. “And we are still killing each other, so maybe there hasn’t been so much evolution after all.”’’},
category={Humanity, murder, iceman, italy, homocide, forensics, anthropology}

Author={Mooallem, Jon},
Title={In the Land of Giants},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={An article trying to wrestle with expressing the size of the giant sequia trees in California. Includes the story of the utopianist Kaweah colonists who first tried to settle the land of the Sequoia National Park - and also named the General Sherman tree the Karl Marx Tree''. Of their story he says It’s hard to diagram the Kaweah story as an allegory of any contemporary ideology of good and evil, heroism and villainy. It gets confusing: The federal government, partly at the behest of an underhanded corporation, sabotaged a community of hardworking and benevolent utopians — but only to create something fundamentally idealistic and to protect an irreplaceable ecological wonder from capitalistic loggers. And yet, the loggers were the utopians. The capitalists were socialists! Which would have been fine, except that the government had mistaken them for an underhanded corporation. Baffled, I called William Tweed, the retired Sequoia park ranger, who has also written about the colony. “You reach a stage in life where what you most frequently see in history is irony,” Tweed told me sagely. “Perhaps the lesson for 2017 is that ideology rarely explains what happens.”’’ },
category={Humanity, Science, giant sequoias}
% This isn’t a great article, but the story of the Kaweah colonists is really interesting.

Author={Conniff, Richard},
Title={Chickens Can Help Save Wildlife},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={A proposal to spread productive breeds of chickens in places like Africa as a way to deter people from eating bush meat.},
category={Health, Humanity, chickens, bushmeat}

Author={Smith, Craig S.},
Title={Burrowing Under Luminous Ice to Retrieve Mussels},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={About the Inuit in far northern Canada who go under the ice when the sea tides go out to collect mussels.},
category={Humanity, food, inuit, arctic}
% Not a very good article. But refers to the people collecting mussels which is so well documented in the Human Planet documentary.

Author={Walsh, Declan},
Title={Statue Being Pulled From a Gritty Patch of Cairo Could Be of Ramses},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={A 26 foot tall statue is being dug out of the ground in a working-class neighborhood in Cairo, Egypt. It may be a statue of Pharoh Ramses II, who is also the subject of Shelley’s poem Ozymandias, which contains the lines, ``My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’’},
category={Humanity, shelley, osmandias, egypt, cairo, statue}

Author={Neuman, William and Butters, Jaime Castillo},
Title={The Internet of Things Is Coming for Us},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Describes the images drawn by the Moche people of Peru, where they endowed everyday household objects with life. Makes a connection between those drawings and the internet of things''. But the paintings have an echo in a myth collected in central Peru in the early 17th century. In the myth, the sun dies, the world is plunged into darkness and household objects and domesticated animals revolt: Mortars and grinding stones eat people, and llamas drive humans.’’},
category={Humanity, internet of things, apocalypse, peru, moche, archaeology}
% Of course it doesn’t mention Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which is a FAR more obvious connection than the internet of things. But I’m sure many other people have made that connection elsewhere.

Author={Yin, Steph},
Title={Why Killer Whales Go Through Menopause},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Killer whales, pilot whales, and humans are the only mammals that go through menopause. Scientists looking at data on killer whales determined that if mothers have babies at the same time as their daughters, the mother’s babies were far less likely to live. The hypothesis is that menopause evolved as a way to eliminated competition between mothers and grandmothers. The theory that menopause allows grandmothers to help in rearing babies is possible, but not as likely.},
category={Humanity, killer whales, Science, menopause, babies}
% More and more research shows that for humans having babies between 16-25 years old is by far the healthiest option. We evolved to have babies at that age. The UNIVERSE (or God?) is telling women to have babies at that age.
% Our culture on the other hand…
% This article in the Times covers research showing that children born to older mothers do better cognitively though:
% \url{}
% Though it is inconclusive about the cause; could be that older mothers are better prepared mentally and emotionally for raising children. Could be that older mothers just have generally taken better care of themselves.
% They did correct for wealth, and still found children of older mothers do better cognitively.

title={The Origin of Species ; And, The Descent of Man},
author={Darwin, C.},
series={Modern library of the world’s best books},
publisher={Modern Library},
comment={This book.},
category={Science, natural selection, evolution, sexual selection},
% At first I was thinking: how could people who have been breeding animals for thousands of years not realize that natural selection was going on.
% Darwin actually answers this question: breeders up to the 19th century always thought they were making choices to mix breeds that were separately decsended from wile breeds. Unconsciously the selected the most fit animasls from their stock for breeding, but with most animals it was difficult to see change to the breed within a human lifetime.
% What this suggests most to me is how deeply ingrained in our thinking natural selection is now in a post-darwin world that I just assumed breeders should have realized this.
% Another interesing thing is that Darwin is careful to cite influences and sources. He makes it very clear that he is the person who best articulated a theory that had been boiling for some time. It is not at all that he just popped this thing out of his head, he just put all the pieces together. The theory evolved.
% In arguing that there is no difference between what 19th century scientists were call “species” and “varieties” he points out that while most of the scientists were focussing on the similarties of animals, chunking them together into “species” he wanted to focus on the small differences that set them apart - for those small differences are the things that he believed led to new species. Page 45
% This is interesting: it suggests that paying attention to the details, not being lured in by the larger themes that may already exist in the general thought of the culture you are in, may lead you to a whole new set of larger themes.
% 19th century science is a really different thing: it still has elements of statistics, but it’s really about observation. While modern science is essentially nothing but statistics.
% I think we still try to sell kids on the idea that science is observation - “experiments” are bubbling beakers or setting various things on fire to see what would happen, or disecting things to see how they work. This is a very 19th century version of science and has little (though not completely nothing) to do with the statistics and math based science of modern times that is actually fairly dull in everyday practice.
% He refers to shipwrecked sailors near shore - how it’s better for strong swimmers to be stronger, and for weak swimmers to be weaker (and so stay with the wreck). ~Page 105
% He talks about how it is known among domestic animals that they vary purely in reaction to climate: like dogs growing a thicker coat in the cold. But he thinks that is a small effect compared to natural variation responding to climate.
% Darwin says that science can’t be responsive to vox populi vox dei. He gives the example that science had to recognize that the earth revolves around the sun, not the other way around, even if popular opinion was otherwise.
% A thing that comes up over and over again with Darwin is the SCALE of time required for natural selection (he never says “evolution”) to take place. This is another area where part of our blindness to this theory is the difficulty of humans to deal with the sheer scale of geological time scales.
% Reading Darwin in the light of Patrick O’Brian really makes you think about disection. Darwin often includes descriptions of viscera that border on gross.
% Darwin doesn’t really have much trouble with the eye. But the electric organs of fish, on the other hand, creates a real problem. Page 139
% He says other authors have a view of nature “like a toy store” wity variety for varieties sake. Page 142. Though this does make one wonder if perhaps the variety IS there for the entertainment… of someone.
% I start to wonder about the effect of inheritance, which D does mention briefly. Consider the fact that so many mammals have 5 bones in their “fingers” adapted in a billion ways. (See page 147.) But why five? Obviously if growing a sixth finger helps a species, it will happen, but in most cases they just have 5 because that’s what their ancestors had. And then those 5 evolve into wings or flippers or whatever, where essentially there is only 1 or 2 digits for functional purposes. Those digits might just as easily contained 3 or 8 bone structures. - see page 334 where he kind of picks this topic up.
% Darwin points out that flowers are beautiful soley to catch the eye of the insect in a field of green. (Page 147)
% Darwin says, “I may first remark that this sense of beauty obviously depends on the nature of the mind, irrespective of any real quality in the admired object; and that idea of what is beautiful, is not innate or unalterable. We see this, for instance, in the men of different races admiring an entirely differeny standard of beauty in their women.” Page 147.
% I do believe that biologists, when examining some funky part or behavior an animal evoled, almost immediately fall back on it being for obtaining food or sex.
% I think this is an equivalent simplistic understanding of the world as the “rational actor” is of economics.
% Think of play - it isn’t for food or sex. But it allows the animal to develop it’s brain, (which granted, might yield more food later). The behavior is directly for nothing more than fun. Periods of rest are similar. They have long-term benefits for food or sex, but the immediate benefit might be pleasure, social company, or entertainment. We KNOW animals get bored - think of pets left home alone. Why do biologists never think that might be part of an animals behavior in the wild? Or that animals might evolve structures that are part of their entertainment behavior?
% See \url{}
% There’s also structures that remain from some use in the past, sometimes repurposed for other uses.
% And there’s simply individual preferences. A single individual might have ANY kind of bahvior (it would be part of the variation of natural selection). I think biologists DO understand that though.
% Natural selection is a simple concept in stating that species develop useful characteristics to survive better than their competitors. It is complex because the rules of the competition are not always clear to humans with their short life-spans and limited fossil record. Particularly in the use of energy: a person might say: why didn’t an animal evolve some kind of ranged weapon? or some other fantastical device. But there’s two big reasons it didn’t: one it had to come from something that already existed, and two there is not unlimited energy to power new structures. This is why disued structures tend to fade away too. One big factor often overlooked: how much energy is available to power the development of a new structure.
% It’s funny that humans have such a poor undersanding of energy consumption as a part of animal life. (See bike racing.) One would think that it would be an inherently instinctive thing. And maybe it is at some deep physical level. But we have not conscious recognition of it.
% D says “the most serious special difficulty my theory has encountered” is the problem of neuter insects (not the eye). That is, worker ants who evolved special adaptations like extra armor or giant jaws, but are neuter and can’t pass on their adaptation to offspring.
% His conclusion (I assume rightly) is that the worker ants themselves could be seen as adaptations of the the fertile ants. This is possible among social animals (already you can see early hints at thinking of any colonies as a whole organism, not individuals). For social animals it is possible to have sterile workers who develop special adaptations because those sterile individuals help the fertile ones to flourish. He also includes here a funny example of degrees of variation by talking about construction workers who might be from 5 to 15 feet high, wich giant jaws and heads.
% See page 205 and nearby pages in chapter on instincts.
% The instincts chapter also includes some neat descriptions of the cuckoo’s habit of laying eggs in other bird’s next and pushing the other bird’s young out of the nest. And also detailed descriptions of slave making ants.
% He briefly mentions in the instinct chapter the ant habit of farming aphids. Even he calls the aphids “cattle”. The fact that ants are carrying out agriculture is not missed by him.
% (In this edition) Darwin mentions Archaeopteryx on page 251
% Darwin struggles with the age of the earth. He is up against the current thinking that the Earth is relatively young (vs today’s standards) thousands or millions of years old. Darwin tries to epmhasize how long a million years is. He says that huge amounts of time must have been necessary for natural seleciton to occur - he suggests many millions if not hundreds of millions of years. Little does he suspect that the scales he is talking about are far smaller than reality - BILLIONS of years.
% This was written long before the theory of plate tectonics, and that causes Darwin some trouble trying to explain why different species are very similar in very different places. But he does suggest that maybe the oceans the continents have not always been where they are now. Page 276
% Darwin proposed two be challenges to a species success that evolution has to overcome: the nature of the environment into a which a species moves, and other species against which it has to competete. At the time he was writing, a LOT of stock was put into being fit for a new environment. But Darwin argues that it is actually competition that matters most. He saw this in the Galapagos. P. 311
% [Origin is a good example of how to “write the book” on something. The theory is broad and very generalized. The kind of thing you could come up with sitting around your sitting room. It fits well, and makes sense, but there are also lots of exceptions, some of which Darwin can’t explain (in some cases because the science just wasn’t there to support him yet - like plate tectonics and the age the Earth). Being broad and not always working doesn’t matter though. What makes it convincing, is years and years of examples collected and applied. If one wanted to write a book that changes the whole way people see the world, with lasting impacts, this is a good model.]
% There’s some interesting comment on hair, beards, and skin color towards the end of Descent of Man.
% “When we no longer look at an organic being as a savage looks at a ship, as something wholly beyond his comprehension; when we regard every production of nature as one which has had a long history; when we contemplate every complex structure and instinct as the summing up of many contrivances, each useful to the possessor, in the same way as any great mechanical invention is the summing up of the labor, the experience, the reason, and even the blunders of numerous workmen; when we thus view each organic being, how far more interesting, I speak from experience, does the study of natural history become!” Page 371
% Darwin’s ideas of sexual selection were largely ignored until the 1980s, scientists assumes that natural selection actually accounted for sexual selection, in complicated ways - like bright feathers signaled a healthy immune system or something. Further research indicated that while this was sometimes true, more often sexual selection was happening for traits that couldn’t really be explained as natural selection. Richard Prum put forth a theory in the 1980s that animals made choices that affect their evolution based on beauty, and that there is no way to understand why certain things would be regarded as beautiful by animals. More modern thinking is that sexual selection is driven by a number of mechanisms, not least that sometimes environment and perception of the enviornment shape what animals value and select for. See this article: \url{}

Author={Prum, Richard O.},
Title={Are These Birds Too Sexy to Survive?},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Using the example of the bird the club-winged manakin, this article argues that part of natural selection is “maladaptive decadence” where an animal begins to evolve characteristics for mating that are actually detrimental to its general survival. This happens because the cost of selecting detrimental characteristics gets passed to future generations, generally it doesn’t have much impact on the adults who are choosing mates currently, but could lead in the long term to extinction.},
category={Science, natural selection, evolution, sexual selection},
% This article is a review of a book about Prum, the author above, and fleshes out some of his ideas about beauty: \url{}
% ``one particular aspect of his argument is his distress at the idea that almost all evolutionary change is assumed to be adaptive, contributing to fitness. In other words, if a fish is blue, it must be blue for a reason. The color must help it escape predators or sneak up on prey, or be otherwise useful in some way. Beauty, therefore, must be adaptive, or a sign of underlying qualities that are adaptive. Pick a behavior or an ornament or a physical trait, and it is useful until proven otherwise. That’s backward, says Dr. Prum. Take beauty. Since animals have aesthetic preferences and make choices, beauty will inevitably appear. “Beauty happens,” as he puts it, and it should be taken as nonadaptive until proven otherwise.’’
% Also addresses New Haven pizza.

Author={Wright, Robert},
Title={Can Evolution Have a ‘Higher Purpose’?},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Argues that having a scientific mindset doesn’t preclude the possibility that there is some higher force (god, aliens, whatever) that set up evolution to try to achieve something, and may occasionally intervene. Interstingly points out that Stephen Jay Gould did his best to argue that there is no purpose to evolution. ``This is the best, the most interesting experiment they could set up: to set up the evolution on Planet Earth going in such a way that it would produce these really interesting characters — humans who go around doing things — and they watch their experiment, interfering hardly at all so that almost everything we do comes out according to the laws of nature. But every now and then they see something which doesn’t look quite right — this zoo is going to kill itself off if they let you do this or that.” So, he continued, these extraterrestrials “insert a finger and just change some little thing. And maybe those are the miracles which the religious people like to so emphasize.”’’ },
category={Humanity, Science, evolution, god, aliens, stephen jay gould, spooky force, william d. hamilton}
% While I gnerally agree with this, there’s a couple of problems:

1 - this is a classic example of philosophers arguing/thinknig about stuff that is fundamentally unknowable. Who cares if higher forces are occasionally interveneing in our lives if there’s no way to know if it’s true or not? Just acknowledge the possibility and move on.

% 2 - Who says the higher purpose is GOOD? To make the experiment “interesting” would mean keeping it from collapsing - potentially seen as a “good” - but also possibly stirring the pot: say by making Trump president.
% We as humans really WANT our lives to be meaningful, to serve some “higher purpose” but while Gould might be wrong that evolution is completely random, maybe what he sees as “random” is actually a higher purpose that want both good and bad things to happen - because they, like us, would find only good things happening to be terrifically dull.

Author={Yoshino, Kimi},
Title={A sinking feeling on ‘Small World’ ride},
journal={Los Angeles Times},
comment={Story about how the Small World ride in Disneyland had to be shut down to make the water deeper to accomodate ever-fatter Disneyland visitors. This article quotes Disney as saying that it was a build up of fiberglass in the ride that was causing the boats to stick on the bottom.},
category={Humanity, disneyland, small world, obesity}
Potato potato.

Author={Emont, Jon and Ponomarev, Sergey},
Title={Modern World Tugs at an Indonesian Tribe Clinging to Its Ancient Ways},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={The Mentawai tribe in indonesia is down to its last few people still living in the jungle.},
category={Humanity, indonesia}
% Another example of where people who lived in the jungle are coming out of it, but still remember how much better their lives were before that happened. Talks about how a son looks forward to moving back to the jungle to take care of his aging parents.

Author={Godfrey-Smith, Peter},
Title={Octopuses and the Puzzle of Aging},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Explains the evolutionary causes of aging, and why many octopuses lead such short lives.},
category={Health, Humanity, octopus, aging, evolution}

Author={Stone, Alex},
Title={Why Waiting Is Torture},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Talks about some of the research into why people hate lines. Includes the anecdote about moving the baggage claim in Houston to the other side of the airport so it just takes people longer to walk there, instead of standing around in line.},
category={Humanity, lines, queues}

title={This Republic of Suffering},
author={Faust, D.G.},
series={Vintage Civil War Library},
publisher={Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group},
comment={An analysis of how Americans faced death during the Civil War.},
category={Humanity, civil war, death}
% She frames killing and dying as “work” and that killing demanded the “harder courage”. Page 32
% A lot of this book is about Civil War-era folks desparately trying to maintain their Christian beliefs in the face of the horrors of war. Particularly regarding the idea of “the good death” where the dying indicates in some way that they are surely going on to the after life.
% Traditionally the good death would have happened at home, surrounded by friends and family who could see the dying as they passed on to the afterlife. The war forced many many men to die far from home, and so a lot of this book is taken up with various ways families resolved that: through the development of embalming and special caskets, accounts of last words on the battle fields, or even last letters from the dying. But sometimes this war in an era that was becoming industrial would just completely disintegrate some men. Many just disappeared entirely.
% Spiritualism became huge during the war because of this - many cults and people believed they could talk to the dead. Mediums sprang up, one magazine even published regular messages from beyond the grave (for a very long time after the war ended too). The planchette was developed - an early version of the ouiji board - a parlor game which people could buy and play to communicate with the dead. Page 182
% There’s some interesting ideas mentioned in here (I’ve lost the page references) to the timeless fact that men felt most alive in battles, and that the will to go into battle is primarily derived from the sense of duty to the other men in their immediate circle of the war. This suggests interesting things about men in gangs in cities - it’s potentially the same things that would have to be overcome - the sense that this is their MOST alive time of life, and commitment to their friends above all else - even family, country, religion.
% She says that Paul Fussell says wars always beget irony because intentions are always overturned by circumstance. Wars outcome is always much more horrible than we can anticipate. Page 194.
% Of course we are STILL obsessed with the idea of the “good death” really: \url{}

Author={Badger, Emily},
Title={We’re All a Little Biased, Even if We Don’t Know It},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={``Implicit bias’’ is a technical term that is in danger of being watered down by popular usage (in political debates) to mean an academically coded word for racism. Implicit bias refers to the brain’s use of shortcuts for understanding things - such as assuming that a fruit stand has fresher fruit than a grocery store. It is deeply related to race issues, but isn’t equivalent to racism. Scientists are only beginning to research this phenomenon, and everyone uses implicit bias every day. Scientists find that regarding race it arises from the culture the individual grows up in, but they don’t have methods to adjust it yet.},
category={Humanity, Science, implicit bias, racism}

title={The Last Place on Earth},
author={Huntford, R. and Theroux, P.},
series={Modern Library Exploration},
publisher={Random House Publishing Group},
comment={The now classic book about the race for the South Pole between Admundsen and Scott. Proposes that Admundsen was the winner because of better planning and experience.},
category={Humanity, adventure, polar exploration, antarctic, poles, admundsen, scott}

title={The Worst Journey in the World: Antarctic 1910-1913},
author={Cherry-Garrard, A.},
series={Library of Alexandria},
publisher={Penguin Books}
comment={The first-person account of the winter journey to collect three penguin eggs and almost die in the attempt.},
category={Humanity, adventure, polar exploration, antarctic, scott}
% The really good bit is the middle chapter that is actually about the winter journey. Some of the stuff about attempting to rescue Scott is pretty good too though.
% See notes on diving article nestor2016diving where I talk about environments that are beyond capacity for supporting human existence. Antartica (and Svalbard) is just past the edge of those places. (While the arctic, obviously, supports human life and culture.)
% Cherry-Garrard’s note on what book to bring with you on a sledging journey (notably: Bleak House and Origin of the Species):
% I have already spoken of the importance of maps and books of reference,
% and these should include a good encyclopaedia and dictionaries, English,
% Latin and Greek. Oates was generally deep in Napier’s History of the
% Peninsular War, and some of us found Herbert Paul’s History of Modern
% England a great stand-by. Most of us managed to find room in our
% personal gear when sledging for some book which did not weigh much and
% yet would last. Scott took some Browning on the Polar Journey, though I
% only saw him reading it once; Wilson took Maud and In Memoriam; Bowers
% always had so many weights to tally and observations to record on
% reaching camp that I feel sure he took no reading matter. Bleak House
% was the most successful book I ever took away sledging, though a volume
% of poetry was useful, because it gave one something to learn by heart
% and repeat during the blank hours of the daily march, when the idle
% mind is all too apt to think of food in times of hunger, or possibly
% of purely imaginary grievances, which may become distorted into real
% foundations of discord under the abnormal strain of living for months
% in the unrelieved company of three other men. If your companions have
% much the same tastes as yourself it is best to pool your allowance of
% weights and take one book which will offer a wide field of thought and
% discussion. I have heard Scott and Wilson bless the thought which led
% them to take Darwin’s Origin of Species on their first Southern Journey.
% Such is the object of your sledging book, but you often want the book
% which you read for half an hour before you go to sleep at Winter
% Quarters to take you into the frivolous fripperies of modern social life
% which you may not know and may never wish to know, but which it is often
% pleasant to read about, and never so much so as when its charms are so
% remote as to be entirely tantalizing.

title={Farthest North},
author={Nansen, F.},
series={Modern Library Exploration},
publisher={Random House Publishing Group},
comment={First-person account of Nansen’s exploration of the North Pole by freezing his ship into the ice pack and drifting over the pole in the course of a couple of years.},
category={Humanity, adventure, polar exploration, antarctic, scott}

Author={Angier, Natalie},
Title={In the Bonobo World, Female Camaraderie Prevails},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Gives a nice overview of all the ways that bonobos are strange. ``“I sometimes think that bonobos sit up late at night reading papers about primates, and then decide to do the opposite,” said Joan Silk, a primatologist at Arizona State University. “They’re unusual in so many ways.”’’ In competition with chimpanzees for the closest relatives to humans, they are female-dominated and resolve differences with sex, while chimps are male dominated and known to go to war.},
category={Science, Humanity, bonobos, chimpanzees}

Author={Zimmer, Carl},
Title={No ‘Hippie Ape’: Bonobos Are Often Aggressive, Study Finds},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Better research on bonobos finds that actually males are more aggressive than chimps. However, the aggression is limited to individuals (chimpanzees tend to fight in gangs) and bonobos are still not known to murder, unlike chimps (and humans).},
category={Science, Humanity, bonobos, chimps, Criticality}

title={Cook: The Extraordinary Sea Voyages of Captain James Cook},
author={Thomas, N.},
% The word tattoo enters the English language when Cook visits Tahiti, page 78
% The idea of cannibalism (particularly in the south pacific) enters Western consciousness when Cook visits New Zealand, page 104
% “Kangaroo” was long thought to be a misinterpretation by Cook and Banks of the word said by the aboriginals. Right into modern times it was told that “kangaroo” meant something like “what did you say?” But in fact Cook and Banks got a list of common words from the local aboriginals, and they were fairly accurate, including the term for the animal. Page, 124
% On a later visit to New Zealand, during the second voyage, the Maori horrified the Europeans by eating the flesh of a young boy they had killed in battle. …Then Cook and another crew member ask the Moari to do it again, (to prove for certain that they partake in cannibalism) and even slice off and cook the meat on the ship.
% The book points out that while the Moari do sometimes eat the flesh of enemies killed in battle, it probably wasn’t super common. Another aspect of the Moari culture is to do things that are intimidating or defy conventions for the pleasure of doing it. As in their haka war dance. It is very likely that they were eating the flesh FOR the Europeans, essentially to freak them out. Page 211
% The OTHER ship on Cook’s second voyage (not with Cook on board) was long separated from Cook. On landing at New Zealand there was an incident where one of the boats of that ship went off to meet islanders at Grass Cove, insulted them, were all killed and eaten. Later their cooked parts were discovered by other members of that ship. page 252
% The search for the Northwest Passage was predicated on the (false) belief that seawater doesn’t freeze. (Elsewhere, it’s explained that when seawater freezes, it precipitates out the salt, so melted seawater yields fresh water.) Since it was believed that ice in the north and south only came from nearby freshwater rivers, it was also believed that a Northwest Passage could exist. Cook’s third voyage was sent out to find it. Page 264

Author={Romero, Simon},
Title={A Space-Age Food Product Cultivated by the Incas},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Ancient Incans developed a technique for freeze-drying potatos to provide food that can be eaten for up to ten years.},
category={Humanity, food, potatos, chuño}

title={On the Move: A Life},
author={Sacks, O.},
publisher={Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group}
% Photo on the cover is Sacks sitting on his BMW R60 motorcycle. Cover designed by Chip Kidd.

title={The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales},
author={Sacks, O.},
publisher={Simon & Schuster}

Author={Padawer, Ruth},
Title={The Humiliating Practice of Sex-Testing Female Athletes},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {There is a long history of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (I.A.A.F.) testing women for characteristics that they say define them as being eligible to compete in women’s sports. Like that they have a certain level of testoserone that is not in the male range'' even though there is no evidence that natural testoserone enhances atheletic ability. At leat not more than a thousand other factors that are unregulated (including access to training and money.) Relying on science to arbitrate the male-female divide in sports is fruitless, they said, because science could not draw a line that nature itself refused to draw.’’},
category = {Humanity, testoserone, intersex, ioc, iaaf, gender}

Author={Bernstein, Jacob},
Title={Bill Cunningham, Legendary Times Fashion Photographer, Dies at 87},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {Bill Cunningham’s obituary.},
category = {Humanity, fashion, bill cunningham, obituaries, death}

Author={Schneider, Keith},
Title={Alvin Toffler, Author of ‘Future Shock,’ Dies at 87},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {Obituary for Alvin Toffler, who wrote Future Shock. Includes description of his main theories and how he was largely correct in his predictions.},
category = {Humanity, toffler, future shock, obituaries}

Author={Dell’antonia, KJ},
Title={Disney Princesses Do Change Girls — and Boys, Too},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {Smallish study that suggests exposure to Disney princess culture pushed girls to act more feminine — and boys as well. The result being a narrowed window of role-definition for girls, but expanded one for boys. Some critical opinions of the research are included in this article.},
category = {Humanity, Science, disney, princesses, gender}

Author={Haag, Amanda Leigh},
Title={Patented harpoon pins down whale age},
comment = {A bowhead whale taken by an Eskimo whaling crew had a harpoon stuck in it that could be traced to a patent from 1879. The whale therefore had to be 115-130 years old when it died. The conclusion is that northern whales can live 150-200 years.},
category = {whales, Humanity, Science, whaling, Eskimos, arctic, harpoon}
% a nice bit of anthropological work here as well as biology.

title={The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom},
author={Rawicz, S.},
series={Lyons Press Series},
publisher={Lyons Press},
comment={The classic adventure story describing an escape from the GULAG and the walk across Siberia, past Lake Baikal, to freedom in India. The authenticity of this story is highly doubtful at this point.},
category={Humanity, journeys, gulag, siberia, prison}

Author={Kolker, Robert},
Title={The Fugitive},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {The true story of Jan Baalsrud who fled the Nazis across most of Norway during World War II. },
category = {Humanity, journeys, WWII, norway}
% Worth tracking down the book version of this story, We Die Alone, and the movie version, Ni Liv (Nine Lives).

Author={Lipsyte, Robert},
Title={Muhammad Ali Dies at 74: Titan of Boxing and the 20th Century},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {Ali’s 2016 NY Times obituary — the first time I’ve seen all the parts of the Ali story that I’ve heard hinted at over my life actually laid out and explained. And it’s amazing.},
category = {Humanity, boxing, muhammad ali, cassius clay, nation of islam}
% These quotes in particular are worth remembering: “Shoot them for what? They never called me nigger. They never lynched me.'' (About refusing to be drafted.) % I have wrestled with a alligator. I done tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning, throwed thunder in jail.’’

Author={Wilkins, Alasdair},
Title={Meet the Bloop, the mysterious sound from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean},
comment = {Recordings of unexplained sounds recorded on the Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) sound array. SOSUS was originally set up during the cold war by the navy to listen for Soviet submarines. The array takes ``advantage of a phenomenon known as the deep sound channel, an ocean layer where the speed of sound becomes virtually nothing and low-frequency soundwaves that enter the channel can become trapped, bouncing around in this layer for thousands of miles.’’ Article includes recordings of the sounds and possible explanations including undiscovered squid, giant whales, and Cthulhu.},
category = {sound, ocean, Humanity, cryptids, cthulhu, lovecraft, submarines, sosus}

title={Guns, germs, and steel: The fates of human societies},
author={Diamond, Jared},
publisher={WW Norton & Company},
comment = {From wikipedia: ``The book attempts to explain why Eurasian civilizations (including North Africa) have survived and conquered others, while arguing against the idea that Eurasian hegemony is due to any form of Eurasian intellectual, moral, or inherent genetic superiority. Diamond argues that the gaps in power and technology between human societies originate primarily in environmental differences, which are amplified by various positive feedback loops. When cultural or genetic differences have favored Eurasians (for example, written language or the development among Eurasians of resistance to endemic diseases), he asserts that these advantages occurred because of the influence of geography on societies and cultures (for example, by facilitating commerce and trade between different cultures) and were not inherent in the Eurasian genomes.’’},
category={Humanity, disease, agriculture}
% I read this a long time ago. I remember it as being the first place that I read about how the decline of megafauna coincides with the arrival of humans in most places.
% I know that theory is debated, but as David Attenborough put it, it is likely the arrival of humans at least had a PART in the extinction of megafauna.
% Which makes me feel that that fact, plus our human connection to cooking, really suggests that we as a species are BUILT to hunt, kill, cook, and eat giant land animals.
% That’s not to dismiss the horrors of factory farming. But I think we lose some of our humanity by not eating wooly mammoths and aurochs.
% On domestication:
% I do also remember from this book that Diamond figures out that there are actually very few species of animal that COULD be domesticated world wide, and Europeans were lucky enough to have access to a bunch of them.
% In addition I remember that the domestication of corn and wheat played a big part in humans wiping out lots of other species.

@article {MARKGRAF1110,
author = {MARKGRAF, VERA},
title = {Late Pleistocene Faunal Extinctions in Southern Patagonia},
volume = {228},
number = {4703},
pages = {1110–1112},
year = {1985},
doi = {10.1126/science.228.4703.1110},
publisher = {American Association for the Advancement of Science},
abstract = {Major environmental changes recorded in pollen records from various sites in southern Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego are also reflected in pollen and cuticle data from dung of the late Pleistocene groundsloth. The most prominent change was the large-scale reduction of steppe environment about 10,000 years ago, which coincides with the latest dates for extinctions of many large grazers such as the giant groundsloth. Stress on food resources for all the large grazers may well have hastened their extinction. Hunting pressure by paleoindians may have been the final blow.},
issn = {0036-8075},
URL = {},
eprint = {},
journal = {Science},
category={Science, giant ground sloths, patagonia, humans, Humanity}
% See this article covering this paper about how humans are tied to wiping out megafauna in Patagonia: \url{}

title={Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed},
author={Diamond, Jared},
comment={From the prologue: ``This book employs the comparative method to understand societal collapses to which environmental problems contribute. My previous book (Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies), had applied the comparative method to the opposite problem: the differing rates of buildup of human societies on different continents over the last 13,000 years. In the present book focusing on collapses rather than buildups, I compare many past and present societies that differed with respect to environmental fragility, relations with neighbors, political institutions, and other “input” variables postulated to influence a society’s stability. The “output” variables that I examine are collapse or survival, and form of the collapse if collapse does occur. By relating output variables to input variables, I aim to tease out the influence of possible input variables on collapses.’’},
category={Humanity, apocalypse}
% I read this book a long time ago too. I remember not liking it as much as Guns, Germs, and Steel.
% I also remember a long section on Polynesians.

Author={Sanger, David E.},
Title={Obama’s Visit Raises Ghosts of Hiroshima},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {Ahead of Obama’s visit to Hiroshima, this article talks about how both the US and Japan have not fully reckoned with their place in the history of the event. Covers the evidence that the US did not in fact have to drop the bomb, and that Japan does not admit the power and horror of its war machine.},
category = {world war II, Humanity, japan, hiroshima, nuclear bomb}
% references this contemporary account in The New Yorker: \url{} that I should read.

Author={Broad, William J.},
Title={Reduction of Nuclear Arsenal Has Slowed Under Obama, Report Finds},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {The Obama administration last year dismantled its smallest number of warheads since taking office. The current administration has reduced the nuclear stockpile less than any other post-Cold War presidency.},
category = {nuclear weapons, Humanity, hiroshima, nuclear bomb, obama, cold war}

author={Watts, Joseph and Sheehan, Oliver and Atkinson, Quentin D. and Bulbulia, Joseph and Gray, Russell D.},
title={Ritual human sacrifice promoted and sustained the evolution of stratified societies},
publisher={Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved.},
volume={advance online publication SP - EP -},
comment={Ritual human sacrifice was a way of reinforcing political power, and led to the stratification of class in human societies.},
category={human sacrifice, Humanity, class}
% Download this paper here: \url{}

title={At day’s close: a history of nighttime},
author={Ekirch, A Roger},
publisher={Hachette UK},
comment={A thorough academic plowing of historical references to the activities of people during nighttime going back to the beginning of the historic age.},
category={nighttime, sleep, Humanity, history, dark}
% This book was actually pretty boring. He’s an academic so the idea that maybe NOT including every minor detail he found in his research maybe hadn’t occurred to him.
% The only things I really remember is that people used to find their way at night by following the Milky Way.
% And the thing about how people used to sleep in two parts before the advent of artificial lighting.
% And oddly, it seems like that second thing is the only thing anyone ELSE remembered from this book too. I see references to it regularly, like in this Times article \url{}
% And people used to leave notches around their house so they could find their way in the dark.

Author={Frakt, Austin},
Title={An Ancient and Proven Way to Improve Memorization; Go Ahead and Try It},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {About how effective the trick of using locations to memorize things is. Refers to the Rhetorica ad Herennium, an 80 B.C. text that is the first known text on the art of memoriztation.},
category = {memory, memory palace, Humanity}

Author={McAfee, Andrew and Brynjolfsson, Erik},
Title={Where Computers Defeat Humans, and Where They Can’t},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {Talks about how DeepMind’s ALPHAGO defeated the best Go player in the world in 4 games out of 5. ALPHAGO learned to play go despite the human inability to describe the best way to play it. The top players, it turns out, can’t fully access their own knowledge about how they’re able to perform so well. This self-ignorance is common to many human abilities, from driving a car in traffic to recognizing a face. This strange state of affairs was beautifully summarized by the philosopher and scientist Michael Polanyi, who said, “We know more than we can tell.” It’s a phenomenon that has come to be known as “Polanyi’s Paradox.”'' ALPHAGO learned on it's own (something called deep learning’’ - formerly neural nets).},
category = {deep learning, machine learning, board games, go, Humanity, artificial intelligence}
% Another article on the same topic. Has a nice simple explanation of the difference between machine learning and human learning: \url{}
% ALPHAGO wins again: \url{}
% The above article talks about how Ke played a near-perfect game, but got excited he might win. He believes emotions cost him the game, he wasn’t able to maintain perfection for as long as the computer. He calls AlphaGo the god of the Go game, and says our understanding of the game is very limited. It also points out that a top amatuer player paired with ALPHAGO can generally beat the software alone. Humans paired with articificial intelligence are still more powerful than artificial intelligence alone.

Author={Barry, Ellen and Kumar, Hari},
Title={A Killing Tests India’s Protection of an Aboriginal Culture},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {A man from the Jarawa tribe (one of the tribes in the Andaman Islands) killed a baby fathered by an outsider (the baby had significantly lighter skin). Now the government faces the question of whether to prosecute the nman or not. And how much they should get involved in tribal affairs that they generally try to stay out of.},
category = {indigenous people, Humanity, murder, skin, race, india, andaman islands}
% Generally the academics say the more contact these tribes have with the outside, the worse off they are. In this case a baby was killed because of contact. At least the North Sentinel Islanders still refuse to contact the outside world.

Author={Barry, Ellen},
Title={A Season of Regret for an Aging Tribal Expert in India},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Tells the story of the Indian anthropologist T.N. Pandit who made the first efforst to contact the Sentinelese and Jarawa in the Andaman Islands. He freely admits that contact was a mistake. “Now they have gotten infected,” he said. “They have been exposed to a modern way of life they cannot sustain. They have learned to eat rice and sugar. We have turned a free people into beggars.”},
category={Humanity, sugar, north sentinel island, sentinelese, jarawa, india, andaman islands}
% Sugar, once again, the poison food of the capitalists.

Author={Zimmer, Carl},
Title={Down From the Trees, Humans Finally Got a Decent Night’s Sleep},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {Humans sleep less than any other primate, and spend more time in REM sleep. Also other primates make sleeping platforms in the trees.},
category = {sleep, beds, humans, primates}

Author={Zimmer, Carl},
Title={New Fossils Strengthen Case for ‘Hobbit’ Species},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {New finds of the Homo floresienis species of little hobbit people who stood only three feet tall. Previous bones were 60-100,000 years old, but the new bones are 700,000 years old.},
category = {Humanity, hobbits, indonesia, anthropology}
% I’ve read other stuff that talks about how throughout Papau New Guinea and Indonesia there are legends of small people who live in the deep jungle to this day.

Author={Dovey, Dana},
Title={Noam Chomsky’s Theory Of Universal Grammar Is Right; It’s Hardwired Into Our Brains},
journal={Medical Daily},
comment = {``In the 1960s, linguist Noam Chomsky proposed a revolutionary idea: We are all born with an innate knowledge of grammar that serves as the basis for all language acquisition. In other words, for humans, language is a basic instinct. The theory, however, has long been met with widespread criticism — until now. A new study presents compelling evidence to suggest Chomsky may have been right all along.’’},
category = {language, chomsky, grammar}
% Actual report (not free) \url{}

Author={Wollan, Malia},
Title={How to Survive a Stampede},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {``At very high densities of seven or more people per square meter, crowds can resemble fluids, developing, for example, powerful waves that exceed 1,000 pounds of force. Many stampede fatalities result not from trampling but from compressional asphyxia, in which people are squeezed to death upright or in a pileup.’’},
category = {stampedes, survival, security}

Author={Underwood, Emily},
Title={Human language may be shaped by climate and terrain},
journal={Science Magazine},
comment = {Evidence that lower frequency sounds with more connected vowels develop in languages that arise in hot, humid parts of the world. While more consonants and harder sounds develop in regions that are colder and more mountainous.},
category = {language, humans, acoustic adaptation}

Author={Blumenthal, Ralph},
Title={NASA Adds to Evidence of Mysterious Ancient Earthworks},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {Using Google Earth, scientists found evidence of ~8000 year old earthworks in Kazakhstan.},
category = {Kazakhstan, geoglyphs, earthworks, swastikas, superscience}

Author={Romero, Simon},
Title={Once Hidden by Forest, Carvings in Land Attest to Amazon’s Lost World},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {As the Amazon rainforest is cleared, ancient geoglyphs/earthworks are being revealed, challenging the notion that the rainforest was always a pristine landscape without human impact. ``If one wants to recreate pre-Columbian Amazonia, most of the forest needs to be removed, with many people and a managed, highly productive landscape replacing it.’’},
category = {rainforest, Amazon, geoglyphs, earthworks}
% Whenever scientists can’t explain something they fall back to three things: sex, food, and (with humans) religion. Sex and food are of course the building blocks of evolution.
% But religion is the category they stick everything else into, assuming that ancient cultures would only spend massive amounts of their time and energy on non-food-or-sex if it was a “religious” belief.
% But our cultures aren’t like that at all. We spend tons of resources (maybe MOST) resources on non-religious art and fun. Why shouldn’t ancient peoples enjoy doing massive works because they were simply beautiful? Or why shouldn’t they have set up things that are simply fun?
% and this may not even be limited to just humans: see the mice running on the wheel research.

@article {EMED:EMED323,
author = {MCLEOD, SHANE},
title = {Warriors and women: the sex ratio of Norse migrants to eastern England up to 900 ad},
journal = {Early Medieval Europe},
volume = {19},
number = {3},
publisher = {Blackwell Publishing Ltd},
issn = {1468-0254},
url = {},
doi = {10.1111/j.1468-0254.2011.00323.x},
pages = {332–353},
year = {2011},
abstract = {Various types of evidence have been used in the search for Norse migrants to eastern England in the latter ninth century. Most of the data gives the impression that Norse females were far outnumbered by males. But using burials that are most certainly Norse and that have also been sexed osteologically provides very different results for the ratio of male to female Norse migrants. Indeed, it suggests that female migration may have been as significant as male, and that Norse women were in England from the earliest stages of the migration, including during the campaigning period from 865.},
comment = {Various types of evidence have been used in the search for Norse migrants to eastern England in the latter ninth century. Most of the data gives the impression that Norse females were far outnumbered by males. But using burials that are most certainly Norse and that have also been sexed osteologically provides very different results for the ratio of male to female Norse migrants. Indeed, it suggests that female migration may have been as significant as male, and that Norse women were in England from the earliest stages of the migration, including during the campaigning period from 865. See pop article on the topic: \url{}},
category = {vikings, women, war}

title={Effects of food processing on masticatory strain and craniofacial growth in a retrognathic face},
author={Lieberman, Daniel E and Krovitz, Gail E and Yates, Franklin W and Devlin, Maureen and Claire, Marisa St},
journal={Journal of Human Evolution},
comment = {Did humans developing the skill of cooking change the shape of our faces? Some evidence suggests this is so. Cooking might be \emph{the} thing that makes us human.},
category = {food, fire, cooking}
% Also see the book: Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. Referenced in this article about calories:
% See also this article about human evolution to deal with the negative impacts of fire, like smoke inhalation: \url{}

title={Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human},
author={Wrangham, R.},
series={Anthropology online},
publisher={Basic Books}
% This idea is so solid that it’s surprising that it hasn’t been
% explored previously in the hundreds of years since Darwin.
% The one part that’s weak is the chapter suggesting that the
% differences between the work of the sexes arises because of the fires.
% In most cultures throughout history human men go out and hunt and
% women stay home and gather. But while Wrangham pins this division on
% fire (men had more time to hunt while women cooked) you could see it
% equally as being spurred by something else - say women were more
% interested in gathering because it’s a more reliable food source - and
% they need to feed their babies (cooked or not) while men are willing
% to starve a little for a tastier unreliable food source (cooked or
% not). This also doesn’t clearly carry well to the male-female partner
% bonding that Wrangham claims comes from cooking (men protect women
% from other men while they cook, he says). There are just too many
% different variations on this in different cultures, human interactions
% are just too complex to pin this on cooking alone. For example there
% are many tribes that have whole groups of people living together,
% sharing the cooking. Wrangham even acknowledges these exceptions,
% but doesn’t really address them. I think social norms are far more
% complex and powerful than “men protect women from other men” and
% it’s a mistake to think that cooking is behind all of it. When we
% say “we are social animals” we are saying something very complex
% and profound that goes far beyond any set of simple rules for
% social interaction.
% % See also: this article on food textures, which also probably played a roll in human development of fire: \url{}

Author={Zimmer, Carl},
Title={Agriculture Linked to DNA Changes in Ancient Europe},
journal={The New York Times},
comment = {When agriculture arrived in Europe 8,500 years ago, human DNA started to change.},
category = {agriculture, ancient humans, Europe, DNA}
% If you imagine forward in time - looking towards some future evolutionary trait might accelerate us to some higher form - think about the end of 2001 - you might also look backwards in time and see how first fire and cooking changed us, and then agriculture. These steps in our evolution are just as big as some re-birth as a star baby would be.
% And what if the bicyle was the next huge evolutionary step - but we missed it or dropped it?

title={Spontaneous human combustion in the light of the 21st century},
author={Koljonen, Virve and Kluger, Nicolas},
journal={Journal of Burn Care & Research},
comment = {This promises to be exactly what it says it is.},
category = {science, health}

Author={Graham, Ruth},
Title={Our lost cousins, the Neanderthals},
journal={The Boston Globe},
comment = {Neanderthals may have been wiped out because humans had dogs. Also the depiction of Neanderthals changes depending on what we need them to mean.},
category = {humanity, neanderthals}

Author={Flannery, Tim},
Title={The Amazing Inner Lives of Animals},
journal={The New York Review of Books},
comment = {Book review about books on animal intelligence. Prior to the domestication of plants and the invention of writing, the differences between human societies and those of elephants, dogs, killer whales, and dolphins was a matter of degree, not kind.'' The best wolves are brilliant leaders that pursue lifelong strategies in order to lead their families to success. According to wolf watchers, the greatest wolf Yellowstone has ever known was Twenty-one (wolf researchers use numbers rather than names for individuals). He was big and brave, once taking on six attacking wolves and routing them all. He never lost a fight, but he was also magnanimous, for he never killed a vanquished enemy. And that made him as unusual among wolves as did his size and strength.’’ And human clans willing to tolerate the wolves would have obtained valuable warnings of the presence of danger from other animals (and other humans). Eventually, Safina says, “we became like each other.” The partnership, however, has had some puzzling effects. The brains of dogs, as well as humans, have shrunk since we began living together, perhaps because we came to rely on each other rather than solely on our own wits.'' Because female killer whales can live up to eighty years, around a quarter of females in any group are postreproductive. Yet they remain sexually active. Grandmothers are evidently very important in killer whale societies, almost certainly because of the wisdom they have gathered over a lifetime.’’ At times, killer whales have developed special relationships with people. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, at Twofold Bay south of Sydney, Australia, killer whales and humans set up a mutually profitable whaling enterprise. The killer whales would notify the whalers of the presence of humpback whales by performing a ritual in the waters of the bay fronting the whaler’s cottagers. The men would harpoon the humpbacks, and the killer whales would hold on to the harpoon ropes to tire the prey. After a humpback was lanced and killed by the men, they observed the “law of the tongue.” The whalers would leave the humpback body for twenty-four hours so that the killers could feast on the lips and tongue. Remarkable proof of this partnership persists, in the form of the skeleton of “Old Tom”—a killer whale whose teeth were worn flat on one side while holding onto harpoon ropes—which can be seen in the killer whale museum in the town of Eden, Australia.'' With the exception of our species, killer whales are earth’s most capable predators. When they evolved ten million years ago, half of earth’s whales, seals, and dugong species became extinct.’’},
category = {dogs, wolves, whales, elephants, animal intelligence, venture brothers, evolution}

Author={Gorman, James},
Title={With Dogs, It’s What You Say — and How You Say It},
journal={The New York Times},
comment={Dogs understand both the meaning and the tone of your words. So if you praise them you need to use actual words of praise AND a uplifting tone of voice, otherwise the reward centers of their brains don’t light up.},
category={Humanity, dogs}