Links I liked, July 11-18 (Alzheimer’s proteins, Pokemon in a rationalist world, “Uniformed Lives Matter”)

After a long hiatus, maybe I’ll start this up again.  There has just been too much good stuff to read of late.

1. Physicists discover how proteins in the brain build-up rapidly in Alzheimer’s

Obvious good news here as far as perhaps a path toward treating the disease by limiting the fibril replication.  Stargate fans might feel a chill at the ending.  🙂

Dr Saric also argues that the findings could be of great interest in the field of nanotechnology. “One of the unfilled goals in nanotechnology is achieving efficient self-replication in manufacturing of nanomaterials. This is exactly what we’ve observed happening with these – if we’re able to learn the design rules from this process, we may be able to achieve this goal.”

2. Life on the line in Venezuela as economic crisis worsens

Sad to see this country collapsing, especially now knowing some people from it.  And I feel like that collapse is being underreported though I pay so little attention to mainstream media sources now it’s hard for me to tell for sure.  Life itself becoming of less value.  What an intro:

The robbers demanded a cellphone from a 25-year-old in black shorts. Instead of handing it over, Junior Perez took off toward the entrance to the pharmacy. Eight shots rang out, and he fell face down.

The dozens of shoppers in line were unmoved. They held their places as the gunmen went through Perez’s pockets. They watched as thick ribbons of blood ran from the young man’s head into the grooves of the tiled walkway. And when their turns came, each bought the two tubes of rationed toothpaste they were allowed.

3. Why Companies Have To Be People, Constitutional Amendment Or No

Disagreements don’t bother me (at least not very much).  Slogans that short-circuit thought bother me a lot – “corporations aren’t people!” is one such slogan.

In the jargon we’ve got two types of people. We have natural persons. That’s you and me and all the other humans wandering around. Then we also have legal persons. That’s corporations, partnerships (in certain cases), sports clubs, unions and on and on and on.

The really crucial point here is that the law, the responsibilities of the law, only apply to “people”. So, if we want unions, clubs, corporations, to be able to use the law then they must be people. Sure, they’re not natural people, they’re not humans, but they must be some form of a person in order to be a legal person who can then use the law. If you cannot use the law then you cannot sign a contract. Perhaps more importantly you cannot be sued. And perhaps even more importantly you cannot be taxed if you are not a person, natural or legal.

4. Michigan senator to introduce ‘Uniformed Lives Matter’ bill

This article is over a week old, but I bring it up because the governor of Texas today said he would like to sign a similar bill there, making attacks on police officers a hate crime.  I’m against the idea inasmuch as I’m against the existence of the category of “hate crimes” period – I have yet to hear of the murder motivated by love.  Is it worse to engage in violence again someone because you hate them because of their race, than because you hate them because of their profession, or because you just hate Bob Smith?  I’d say no, and we would do well to drop that distinction, which muddles our thoughts and public discourse in many other ways as well.  If we’re not going to drop that distinction, of course the number of groups covered by such laws is only going to go up, and up, and up.

5. Chicago on the Brink: A retreat from proactive policing has unleashed mayhem in the city.

Good long read about the crime-boom, and why it has boomed, in Chicago.

Since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, the conceit that American policing is lethally racist has dominated the national airwaves and political discourse, from the White House on down. In response, cops in minority neighborhoods in Chicago and other cities around the country are backing off pedestrian stops and public-order policing; criminals are flourishing in the resulting vacuum.

Officers who try to intervene in this disorder face a virulent street situation, thanks to the current anti-cop ideology. “People are a hundred times more likely to resist arrest,” an officer who has worked a decade and a half on the South Side informs me. “People want to fight you; they swear at you. ‘Fuck the police, we don’t have to listen,’ they say. I haven’t seen this kind of hatred toward the police in my career.”

6. Pokemon Go in a fractured and flattened world

At the risk of making something fun and silly into something serious… probably actually some truth to this.

In a secular age, it is common for people to conceive of the world in terms of scientific cause and effect. We are less likely to be stunned by the magnificence of this world, and more likely to feel as if we are only cogs in a naturalistic machine. The secular mind, due to its rationalist foundation, must create meaning rather than discover it.

But suddenly, a game based on Japanese mythology invades the naturalistic machinery of the modern age. Pokémon envisions the world as if it were filled with kami that resemble the Greek gods of old. The creatures inhabit trees, rivers, and rocks, similar to the ancient Norse or Celtic myths that described a world teeming with fairies and elves. When you take the ancient myths that gave us fantastic animals such as centaurs and unicorns and place them within the animistic worldview of Shintoism, you start to see why the Eastern world of Pokémon feels both strange and familiar.

7. Can Michigan spend tax dollars on private schools? We’ve already said no.

My only comment is that inasmuch as the reason people are upset here is the thought that public funds might go to promote religious instruction – sorry, but the public schools themselves offer plenty of religious instruction these days. (Actually they always did, but it has become more evident as America has become more divided.)  There is no such thing as a worldview independent education – it matters a lot more in some fields than others, to be sure, but the public schools teach them all.  (Alas, I don’t think the governor is making his appeal on those grounds.)

This week’s picture from today’s lunch in downtown Lansing:


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