Reading Backlog

31 March 2018OpinionPoliticsReadingScienceTechnology

Pocket is a great app for keeping track of articles you want to read, but I often collect a lot more in there than I ever get around to posting. Here’s a small collection of articles that should have been posted over the past few years:

  • The man who brought us the lithium-ion battery at the age of 57 has an idea for a new one at 92 (Quartz, February 2015):

    Unlike the transistor, the lithium-ion battery has not won a Nobel Prize. But many people think it should. The lithium-ion battery gave the transistor reach. Without it, we would not have smartphones, tablets or laptops, including the device you are reading at this very moment. There would be no Apple. No Samsung. No Tesla.

  • How 5G will push a supercharged network to your phone, home, car (CNET, March 2015):

    5G networks will be about 66 times faster than 4G. That speed opens up intriguing new capabilities. Self-driving cars can make time-critical decisions. Video chats will make us feel like we’re all in the same room. And cities can monitor traffic congestion, pollution levels and parking demand — and then feed that information to your smart car in real time.

  • The Credit Card Obsessives Who Game the System—and Share Their Secrets Online (Racked, April 2015):

    Last year, Angelina Aucello took 90 flights across the globe. The 28-year-old stay-at-home mom spent close to nothing on trips to the Middle East, Australia, South America, and Asia.

    Her secret? Credit cards—and not just three or four. Aucello currently has 24 cards; she’s been avidly collecting points and miles on them for a decade.

  • John Oliver Shows How Dumb It Is For Cities To Finance Sports Stadiums (The Huffington Post, July 2015):

    American cities are shelling out big money for new sports stadiums — and John Oliver has one question: Why?

  • The Most Mysterious Star in Our Galaxy (The Atlantic, October 2015):

    In 2011, several citizen scientists flagged one particular star as “interesting” and “bizarre.” The star was emitting a light pattern that looked stranger than any of the others Kepler was watching.

  • Jimmy Wales: I don’t regret not monetising Wikipedia (The Telegraph, January 2016):

    Fast-forward 37 years, and the now 49-year-old Wales is at the helm of a website so vast, it would take more than 21 years for a normal person to read the English-language pages alone.

    But, perhaps unexpectedly, he is also – as his wife’s maid of honour described him in a toast at their wedding – the one world-famous internet entrepreneur who didn’t become a billionaire.

  • America’s democracy has become illiberal (The Washington Post, December 2016):

    Two decades ago, I wrote an essay in Foreign Affairs that described an unusual and worrying trend: the rise of illiberal democracy. Around the world, dictators were being deposed and elections were proliferating. But in many of the places where ballots were being counted, the rule of law, respect for minorities, freedom of the press and other such traditions were being ignored or abused. Today, I worry that we might be watching the rise of illiberal democracy in the United States — something that should concern anyone, Republican or Democrat, Donald Trump supporter or critic.

  • Canadians Adopted Refugee Families for a Year. Then Came ‘Month 13.’ (The New York Times, March 2017):

    Ordinary Canadians had essentially adopted thousands of Syrian families, donating a year of their time and money to guide them into new lives just as many other countries shunned them. Some citizens already considered the project a humanitarian triumph; others believed the Syrians would end up isolated and adrift, stuck on welfare or worse. As 2016 turned to 2017 and the yearlong commitments began to expire, the question of how the newcomers would fare acquired a national nickname: Month 13, when the Syrians would try to stand on their own.

  • History Tells Us What Will Happen Next With Brexit And Trump (The Huffington Post, July 2017):

    My point is that this is a cycle. It happens again and again, but as most people only have a 50-100 year historical perspective they don’t see that it’s happening again. As the events that led to the First World War unfolded, there were a few brilliant minds who started to warn that something big was wrong, that the web of treaties across Europe could lead to a war, but they were dismissed as hysterical, mad, or fools, as is always the way, and as people who worry about Putin, Brexit and Trump are dismissed now.

    Then after the War to end all Wars, we went and had another one. Again, for a historian it was quite predictable. Lead people to feel they have lost control of their country and destiny, people look for scapegoats, a charismatic leader captures the popular mood, and singles out that scapegoat. He talks in rhetoric that has no detail, and drums up anger and hatred. Soon the masses start to move as one, without any logic driving their actions, and the whole becomes unstoppable.