Recently perused articles

  • A detailed article in Aeon on the coming of age of Chinese urban youth and the cultural values separating them from their prior generations. The generation gap can be bizarrely pronounced due to the older generations growing up under the harsh Maoist regime and being surrounded by famine and government-enforced cultural shifts, while the younger generation is in the process of being Westernized, which for the upper classes means embracing luxury goods and the other tenants of a post-subsistence, consumption based economy.
  • Keeping with the China theme, here’s a rather strange Vice article on China’s genetic engineering program, the goal of which is to engineer higher intelligence babies, leading to

embryo screening [that] will allow parents to pick their brightest zygote and potentially bump up every generation’s intelligence by five to 15 IQ points. Within a couple of generations, competing with the Chinese on an intellectual level will be like challenging Lena Dunham to a getting-naked-on-TV contest.

taking computing into the strange, subatomic realm of quantum mechanics. In that infinitesimal neighborhood, common sense logic no longer seems to apply. A one can be a one, or it can be a one and a zero and everything in between — all at the same time.

  • Is social media leading to a narcissism epidemic? Wait, give me a minute, I need to update my profile picture.

Recently perused articles

Here are some articles that’ve captured my attention in the past few weeks:

  • A piece from The Atlantic on Finnish educational success — apparently they kick ass in international test scores. The writer, using the Fins as an example, also focuses on how the American education system may do best veering away from obsessive standardized testing, its lack of focus on individual needs / creativity, and the fixation upon excellence (for some) over equality (for all) that rests at the heart of the American ethos.
  • A fascinating and lengthy account in The New Yorker from last December on a former California DMV employee named John Quijada who created his own language, Ithkuil, from scratch. It’s even more interesting than it sounds.
  • A review in the TLS of a new biography of the late great scribe David Foster Wallace, incorporating the writers’ works.
  • A particularly encouraging article in The New York Times focusing on the connection between beer (and other lightly fermented beverages) and the start of human civilization, as early as 10,000 years ago: “With the help of the new psychopharmacological brew, humans could quell the angst of defying those herd instincts,” and expand their socio-biological boundaries.