Weekly Newsletter

Foreign Policy #

Paris attacks: Millions rally for unity in France
Covers massive French rallies meant to demonstrate unity after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo.

Je Suis Charlie (Until Je Get Scared)
Asserts that many Westerners hold inconsistent views on free speech. Illustrates this with examples of newspapers blurring out the Charlie Hebdo comics and journalists subtly blaming Hebdo authors for publishing “inflammatory” content.

Is Saudi Arabia trying to cripple American fracking?
Details why Saudi Arabia is depressing oil prices. Debunks the view that Saudi oil policy aims at crippling the shale revolution. Argues that the policy instead targets the Russian and Iranian economies.

Hacking Society #

The Charm Hacker
Profiles Olivia Fox Cabane, author of The Charisma Myth. I can’t recommend this article enough. It’s designation falls somewhere between pop science, self-help, and human interest, while managing to avoid the most common pitfalls of each category. As someone who possesses some “un-charismatic” tendencies, I particularly enjoyed this piece, but, I recommend it even if you don’t consider yourself socially awkward. I constantly strive for the newsletter to force its readers to examine things that often go unexamined. This article forces the reader to examine their deeply-rooted assumptions about social interactions.

Biology and Evolution #

Bacteria ‘factories’ churn out valuable chemicals
Describes how scientists are genetically modifying bacteria to produce useful chemicals efficiently.

Live forever: Scientists say they’ll soon extend life ‘well beyond 120’
Summarizes various projects to cure human aging. I disagree with the social implications the author highlighted, but found the article worthwhile regardless.

The music in you
Investigates the complex relationship between cognition and music. Concludes that we all possess an innate ability to comprehend and relate to music. I particularly enjoyed this quote:

“We all know the basics of how pitches relate to each other in Western tonal systems; we simply don’t know that we know.”

The Strange Inevitability of Evolution
Engages the reader by asking the question, “Why does evolution actually produces useful things?” We assume it’s a matter of natural selection, but, as this article shows, “survival of the fittest” doesn’t even begin to explain why evolution produces beings as complex as humans. Instead, the author claims that “evolvability and openness to innovation are features not just of life but of information itself” – a conclusion with vast implications.