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  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes a new study suggesting some hypervelocity stars were ejected from the Large Magellanic Cloud.

  • Crooked Timber's John Holbo wonders how else Trump can transgress the norms of the presidency.

  • The Crux notes the exceptional hardiness of the tardigrade. These forms of life might well outlive the sun.

  • Gizmodo notes the evidence for a recently frozen subsurface ocean on Pluto's Charon.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the Israeli government's effective, if confused, opposition to same-sex adoption.

  • Unicorn Booty looks at the significant impact RuPaul's Drag Race has on music sales.

  • Window on Eurasia notes how Putin's political allies have been having trouble coming up with a positive future.

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  • Australia's ABC reports on an ambitious plan to develop drones capable of mass tree planting.

  • The Weather Network warns that global warming could see Canada circa 2100 experience tropical summers.

  • National Geographic reports on the discovery of a thriving ecosystem existing in the waters beneath the Greenland icecap.

  • Daily Xtra criticizes a recent MacLean's article for making bad arguments against anti-HIV treatment PrEP.

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  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait is skeptical that the Trump-era EPA will deal well with global warming.

  • Discover's The Crux considers the challenge of developing safer explosives for fireworkers.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper considering the (real) possibility of Earth-like worlds orbiting neutron stars.

  • Language Log notes an odd use of katakana in Australia.

  • The LRB Blog considers the possibly overrated import of George Osborne's move into the newspaper business.

  • Marginal Revolution notes one observer's suggestion that China could sustain high-speed growth much longer than Japan.

  • The NYR Daily shares Eleanor Davis' cartoon journal of her bike trip across America.

  • Peter Rukavina does not like the odd way Prince Edward Island made its library card into a museum pass.

  • Starts with a Bang's Ethan Siegel notes the odd galaxy MACS2129-1, young yet apparently no longer star-forming.

  • Strange Company explores the strange death of 17th century New England woman Rebecca Cornell.

  • Unicorn Booty looks at how early Playgirl tried to handle, quietly, its substantially gay readership.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at one Russian proclaiming Russia needs to stop an imminent takeover by Muslims.

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  • The Big Picture shares shocking photos of the Portuguese forest fires.

  • blogTO notes that, happily, Seaton Village's Fiesta Farms is apparently not at risk of being turned into a condo development site.

  • Centauri Dreams notes a new starship discussion group in Delft. Shades of the British Interplanetary Society and the Daedalus?

  • D-Brief considers a new theory explaining why different birds' eggs have different shapes.

  • The Frailest Thing's Michael Sacasas commits himself to a new regimen of blogging about technology and its imports. (There is a Patreon.)

  • Language Hat notes the current Turkish government's interest in purging Turkish of Western loanwords.

  • Language Log's Victor Mair sums up the evidence for the diffusion of Indo-European languages, and their speakers, into India.

  • The LRB Blog notes the Theresa May government's inability post-Grenfell to communicate with any sense of emotion.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen wonders if the alt-right more prominent in the Anglophone world because it is more prone to the appeal of the new.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw wonders if Brexit will result in a stronger European Union and a weaker United Kingdom.

  • Seriously Science reports a study suggesting that shiny new headphones are not better than less flashy brands.

  • Torontoist reports on the anti-Muslim hate groups set to march in Toronto Pride.

  • Understanding Society considers the subject of critical realism in sociological analyses.

  • Window on Eurasia notes how Russia's call to promote Cyrillic across the former Soviet Union has gone badly in Armenia, with its own script.

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  • The Independent notes a denial that Scotland's Conservatives will split from the national party. I wonder, thought, if Scotland's political spectrum is going to shift, like Québec's, from a left-right split to a separatist-unionist one?
  • Owen Jones argues in The Guardian that the rampant prejudices of the DUP, including its homophobia, make it an unsuitable coalition partner.

  • Andray Domise argues in MacLean's that a perceived need to fit in means that immigrants can be too ready to dismiss local racisms.

  • Fast Company lets us know that the minimum wage increases in Seattle have not led to higher retail prices.

  • CBC notes the death of Sam Panopoulous, the Canadian man who invented Hawaiian pizza.

  • Adam West, the first man to play Batman on the screen, has died. We all, not just the fandom, are the poorer for his passing.

  • Are the robots not poised to take over our world? What does their absence demonstrate about our underachieving economy? The Atlantic wonders.

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  • Centauri Dreams notes new studies suggesting the flares of red dwarf stars damage potentially habitable planets.

  • The Crux notes that the wild apple is going extinct.
  • D-Brief notes that recent high winds in Europe helped push energy prices there to negative territory.

  • The Frailest Thing considers Neil Postman's thoughts on the intersection of mass media and childhood.

  • Inkfish argues in favour of accidental wetlands in urban areas.
  • Language Log looks at the trope of the repeated character in some recent Chinese advertising.

  • The LRB Blog considers the costs, environmental and otherwise, to the United States' leaving the Paris climate agreement.

  • Marginal Revolution wonders what assumptions about deep history the news of Homo sapiens' longer history overturn.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that, in the area of energy costs, mid-20th century Uruguay was worse off than New Zealand.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at polling on Russian opinions about the Russian Far East and its future.

  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell is skeptical about Jeremy Paxman's claims about privacy in modern journalism.

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  • The New York Times' Michael Wilson tells the sad story of how a woman murdered in Harlem was only identified 47 years later.

  • In NOW Toronto, Gelek Badheytsang writes about the complexities surrounding the visit of the 17th Karmapa to Tibetan-heavy Parkdale.

  • Novak Jankovic writes in MacLean's that there are real declines in the Toronto real estate market, but not enough to set a trend.

  • The Toronto Star's Jackie Hong reports that protecting Bluffer's Park from the waves of Lake Ontario could also wreck an east-end surfing haunt.

  • The National Post reports on how the Ontario NDP claims, probably correctly, that the Wynne Liberals are stealing their ideas. Good for them, I say.

  • Universe Today's Matt Williams notes a study reporting that life on Mars' surface is a much greater risk factor for cancer than previously thought.

  • Seth Miller argues that efficient electric cars will push Big Oil through the trauma of Big Coal in the 2020s.

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  • Anthropology.net reports on new evidence that Homo naledi may have used tools, buried their dead, and lived alongside Homo sapiens.
  • Centauri Dreams remembers an abortive solar sail mission to Halley's Comet.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of the "Apache" dancers of France.

  • Cody Delistraty writes about Swedish futurist Anders Sandberg and his efforts to plan for humanity's future.

  • At the Everyday Sociology Blog, Karen Sternheimer talks about her day as a sociologist.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the good news that normal young HIV patients can now expect near-normal life expectancies.

  • Language Hat looks at a recent surge of interest in Italian dialects.

  • Language Log looks at the phenomenon of East Asians taking English-language names.

  • The LRB Blog considers the dynamics of the United Kingdom's own UDI.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at the existential issues of a growing Kinshasa still disconnected from the wider world.

  • Steve Munro notes that Metrolinx will now buy vehicles from France's Alstom.

  • The New APPS Blog uses Foucault to look at the "thanatopolitics" of the Republicans.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at Trump's constitutional crisis.

  • Out There considers the issues surrounding the detection of an alien civilization less advanced than ours.

  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the United States' planetary science exploration budget.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at Argentina's underrated reputation as a destination for foreign investment.

  • Progressive Download shares some thinking about sexual orientation in the context of evolution.

  • Peter Rukavina looks at the success of wind energy generation on the Island.

  • Understanding Society takes a look at the dynamics of Rome.

  • Window on Eurasia shares a lunatic Russian scheme for a partition of eastern Europe between Russia and Germany.

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  • Centauri Dreams looks at ongoing research into the sizes of Alpha Centauri A and B.

  • Dangerous Minds notes Finland's introduction of a new Tom of Finland emoji.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper speculating as to the fate of icy dwarf exoplanets in white dwarf systems.

  • The Dragon's Tales reports on the intensification of the war in Ukraine's Donbas.

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog asks readers how they study.

  • Language Log looks at the structure of yes-no questions in Chinese.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at the consequences of the Trump travel ban.

  • The Planetary Society Blog considers impact craters as potential abodes for life.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer does not quite understand renters' fears about new developments in their neighbourhoods.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers the court ruling against Trump's refugee order.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests prospects for long-term economic growth in Russia have collapsed, and notes the sharp fall in real incomes in Asian Russia.

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Torontoist features a guest post by Catherine McIntyre on behalf of Toronto and Region Conservation talking about how Toronto can prepare itself for imminent climate change.

The future could get a whole lot hotter.

Imagine it’s 2040, and the daily temperature reaches a high of 44°C. This isn’t idle speculation—it’s what is projected for Toronto, according to a staff report [PDF].

But climate change isn’t just a threat that exists in the distant future. In reality, the effects of global warming are already plainly apparent across the Greater Toronto Area, and call for immediate action.

We need only look back to 2013 as a reminder that our typically moderate climate is not immune to the extreme weather associated with climate change: On July 8 of that year, a month’s worth of rain fell on the city in a matter of hours. Five months later, an ice storm rocked Toronto, leaving some residents without power for 12 days, and cost $106 million to clean up.

The impacts extreme weather like this has on the health of species and habitats, the city’s infrastructure, and watersheds are severe. Fortunately, the Toronto Region and Conservation, in conjunction with private partners and municipalities across the region, are working to stymie the effects of climate change. Here, we look at how the warming planet is taking a toll on the city, and what the TRCA is doing about it.
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Charlie Stross has completed the grimdark vision of 2017 that he had begun last week. I linked to the first two parts on New Year's Eve.

Let's try to do better, eh?

October Theresa May resigns as Prime Minister of the UK after a delegation from the 1922 Committee pay her a visit with baseball bats. Boris Johnson, one-time leader-in-waiting, bribes his way onto one of the few still-flying airliners bound for the United States and tweets in mid-air about his intention to request political asylum and re-assert his US citizenship. The aircraft is intercepted over the Atlantic and shot down by F-15s acting at the request of President Pence (who really doesn't want to give BoJo a shot at making his run in 2024).

An elderly back-bencher is prevailed upon to do the honorable thing and accept the office of the Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds, thereby freeing up a seat for a by-election. On the basis of the theory that when you're up to your nose in shit the only way out is to take a deep breath and dive, Nigel Farage is fast-tracked as candidate for the by-election and, upon election, is promptly shoved through the door at Number Ten: at his first interview with the monarch he is told "you broke it, you fix it". (His subsequent plaintive requests for Jimmy Saville's phone number go unanswered.)

In the wake of the September melt-down, Germany's Bundestag elections produce huge voter swings to the AfD (from the CDU) and the Greens and Left (from the SPD), with the Pirate Party passing the critical 5% threshold for the first time. The AfD, taking heart from what they perceive as a swing to the right in global politics, go one step too far by openly calling for the rehabilitation of Adolf Hitler and are banned by the constitutional court; a Green/Left/Pirate coalition is formed and announces its intention of moving to leave the World Trade Organization to permit a sweeping regime of nationalization of banks and financial institutions and emergency measures to keep industry and agriculture going.

The new hard-left German government with it's Grumpy Cat logo is greeted with horror in the United States and is denounced in Moscow as Communism. However, when the new regime in Berlin announces its intention of forgiving all personal debt owed by Greek borrowers (denominated in the collapsed Euro, hence not worth very much at all) and to institute a universal basic income scheme throughout the EU and work to abolish wage slavery for all it buys them a lot of friends. The situation is very murky, and made murkier by the slow, unanounced withdrawal of Russian tanks from the Baltic region and their re-appearance further south.


(October gets much much worse, and as for the remainder of the year, well.)
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John Scalzi's New Year's Eve post provides comfort and advice in equal measure.

As we begin 2017, there is something I’ve been thinking about, that I’d like for you to consider for the new year. It starts with a famous quote, the best-known version of which is from Martin Luther King, but which goes back to the transcendentalist Theodore Parker. The quote is:

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

In the main I agree with that quote. There are things about it, however, that I think many of us elide.

The first is the word “long.” I think both Parker and King understood that moral endeavors can be measured in years, decades and sometimes centuries. This is not an argument toward complacency; indeed I think it’s an argument against defeatism and fatalism in the face of setbacks and stalemates. We live in moments and days and it’s often hard to see past them, and it’s easy to believe when we are struck a hard blow that all is lost. All is not lost. The arc is long. Nothing is ever fully decided in the moment or the day. There are years and decades and sometimes centuries yet to go. The arc continues to bend, if we remember that it is long, and that we need to imagine it extending further.

We need to imagine that because of the second thing: The arc is not a natural feature of the universe. It does not magically appear; it is not ordained; it is not inevitable. It exists because people of moral character seek justice, not only for themselves but for every person. Nor is the arc smooth. It’s rough and jagged, punctuated in areas by great strides, halting collapses, terrible reverses and forcible wrenching actions. There are those, always, who work to widen the arc, to make that bend toward justice as flat as they can make it, out of fear or greed or hate. They stretch out the arc when they can. If people of moral character forget the arc is not ordained, or become complacent to a vision of a smooth, frictionless bend toward justice, the work to flatten the arc becomes that much easier.
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Over at Demography Matters, I have a post up meditating on the significance of the largely positive global trends identified by Max Roser in his essay "A history of global living conditions in 5 charts" at the Our World in Data project.



Why can we be unduly pessimistic? Roser suggests it's a failure of perspective.
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Astronomy's John Wenz reports on a proposal to try to initiate contact with a hypothetical civilization on Proxima Centauri b that does not necessarily leave me cold, or worried. A hypothetical Proximan civilization only a decade more advanced in observational astronomy that us might well be aware of the existence of Earth, could conceivably even be aware of our technological civilization's existence. A Proximan civilization capable of travelling to us would certainly know this. That said, the critics' argument that this is the sort of thing that really should be handled by a broad-based coalition also makes sense. If we are going to send out messages, let's try to come up with some standards, at least.

Douglas Vakoch, the former Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute, is launching the METI Initiative with one planet in mind: the recently discovered planet around Proxima Centauri, the closest star to Earth (and thus the closest exoplanet.)

Vakoch says that METI has more than a few targets in mind, there are a few advantages to Proxima Centauri b.

“First, it’s close to our solar system, keeping the time for a roundtrip exchange as short as possible,” Vakoch says. “Second, some have suggested that this exoplanet is potentially habitable.”

[. . .]

“To be intelligible, any message to extraterrestrials needs to be written in a universal language, and that won’t be English or Swahili,” Vakoch says. “We begin with mathematics, because it seems likely that scientists on any world will need to know at least the essentials of math.”

Then there’s the question of why, which Vakoch paraphrases SETI research Ronald Bracewell in saying that humanity should “join the Galactic Club.” Even bigger, though, is the question of “why should we broadcast that we’re here in case we, you know, get invaded.” Of the many, many things that Stephen Hawking has said publicly in recent years, the dangers of alien contact has come up again and again. Some in the SETI community say a cautious approach should be taken, with a consortium saying, “We know nothing of ETI’s intentions and capabilities, and it is impossible to predict whether ETI will be benign or hostile.”
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Over his blog Antipope, Charlie Stross has a future timeline--so far, up to two parts--imagining what it would be like for 2017 to turn out worse than 2016. So far, the timeline's pretty grim, giving us an idea of what perhaps we should work to avoid.
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Writing for WBEZ, Jesse Dukes and Jen Masengarb lead an interesting thought experiment: What will become of Chicago's Willis Tower in 150 years? The answer, they suggest in their fascinating piece, has much to do with what will happen to Chicago generally.

When Chicago was still celebrating the end of the Civil War, the city had a population of roughly 200,000 people. The most memorable structure from that era, the Water Tower, was still three years from construction. Today, 150 years later, the city’s population has grown by more than 1,200 percent, and the city’s tallest building, the Willis Tower, is more than 1,300 feet taller than the height of Chicago’s tallest building in 1866.

This is all to say a lot can change in 150 years. Which makes our question, from engineer Bill Muscat, pretty challenging:

What do we do in 150 years when our current buildings are too old? What do we do with an old Willis Tower?

Bill asked because he’s noticed that some of Chicago’s earliest skyscrapers — buildings he considers iconic — have been demolished recently. The first generation of skyscrapers is about 120 years old, so he picked a timeframe of 150 years, figuring that the Willis Tower would be pretty worn out by then. The tower was originally constructed in 1973 for the Sears Roebuck & Company headquarters, then renamed in 2009 by Willis Holding Group, who obtained naming rights as part of a lease agreement.

Bill’s question is based on the premise a building can become “too old.” That’s only partially true. The structural steel in a building like the Willis Tower could last for thousands of years, as long as it is climate-controlled and protected from the elements. The building’s cladding and systems (electricity, plumbing, HVAC) can certainly wear out, but they can also be maintained indefinitely, and even updated, as long as the building owners can afford it.

Bill’s question’s appealing because it gives all of us license to become amateur futurists, but in a focused way. As we reported an answer for Bill, we heard that when you think about the future of tall buildings in cities, it’s useful to consider why we build very tall buildings in the first place.

In 1900, architect Cass Gilbert famously described a skyscraper as a “machine that makes the land pay.” While tall buildings are certainly impacted by demand for space, client or city image, it’s economics that truly drives the construction of skyscrapers. Developers seek to maximize the rent that a single parcel generates. Urban districts with expensive land tend to have tall buildings, because those buildings have more floors, more square feet, and therefore, more revenue potential.

But calculations about whether a particular skyscraper “makes the land pay” are deeply entwined with the fate of the building’s immediate neighborhood, and the city in general. The building, its neighborhood and its city — each can change, and so can the relationships between them.
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I originally posted this essay at r/daystrominstitute, drawing it from a post I made on Tumblr.

Lots of fans of Star Trek have expressed disbelief, or concern, at the suggest that religion is mostly a dead letter among humans (and perhaps other species) in the 24th century. Isn't this just a presumption stemming ultimately from the doctrinaire atheism of Gene Roddenberry? Why, they ask fairly, would a type of belief system that has been enormously common throughout human history vanish in the space of a few centuries?

Roddenberry's prejudices on the subject of religion did bias him. I'm not unconvinced that the future of religion in Star Trek is inaccurately depicted, despite this depiction's origins. One influential recent study of religion in society, Norris and Inglehart’s 2004 sociology study Sacred and Secular, took a look at patterns of religious belief in developed Western societies. They made the compelling argument that religious belief is most popular in societies marked by insecurity, that the subjective psychological comforts of religion were most popular in insecure societies. They suggested that much of the gap in religiosity between the United States and western Europe, for instance, could be explained by the fact that the United States does not have a comprehensive welfare state. In a very real sense, religion focused as a coping tool for people faced with severe stresses, whether as a morale-booster or as some sort of institutional support via charity and the like. Nothing in the model suggests that this model would not work with other, non-Western societies.

We know that by the 22nd century, the Earth is stable, at peace and unified and verging on the utopian. What happens to religion when the entire world has a comprehensive welfare state, something more complete than what a given western European country has now? What about the future of this world? What role does religion play when no one has been terribly insecure for decades, generations, even centuries? Can religion attract anything but a niche audience in this sort of environment? I think there's a real argument to be made that no sizable number of 24th century people on Earth or any other stable human world would feel particularly compelled by religious perspectives, not with materialism that has been so consistently successful for centuries.

For humans, there's also the question of how religion ended up. Some of the most secularized societies nowadays are those which had the most thorough-going religious regimes beforehand, and which saw a counter-reaction against religious institutions. Sometimes, as in Québec in the 1960s, this was triggered by the simple incapacity of religious institutions to offer a way forward in an increasingly cosmopolitan world. Sometimes, this was triggered by the revelation of crimes committed by religious figures of note. Clerical sex abuse scandals come to mind as exactly the sorts of things which have led people to lose faith in established religions. Worse can happen than mere sexual assault, of course: genocide, say, or general dictatorship. What happens to a religion when the actions and values of its hierarchy conflict with what followers think is right? We know the answer: The best-case scenario from the perspective of the religion is that people stop paying attention to it, and the worst-case scenario is that people become actively hostile to it.

Is there any reason to think that, in the terrible 21st century of the Star Trek universe, religions would have acquitted themselves well, would have proven their value? Or is there reason to think, based on what we have seen in our own world, that religion might become another thing to be tossed out for the future's sake?

Would other species have undergone similar experiences? Maybe, if their histories were at all similar to humanity's, with religion as a belief system that served its purpose in its day before negative consequences became too unignorable. I wonder if Vulcan might have undergone this sort of secularization in the aftermath of the conflicts leading up to Surak, for instance. (Were the Romulans religious dissenters?)

It's worth looking at the experience of the Bajorans, who are generally depicted as being religious and being fine with that. How are they different? Most notably, they have a religion that does demonstrably describes reality, complete with god-like entities whose existences have been confirmed by multiple external observers. Before the confirmation of the Prophets' existence, Bajoran religion seems to have been helped by what may be a lack of religious oppression: Women seem to have just as many rights as men, for instance, as evidenced by the two female kais we see, Kira’s confusion in “Rejoined” over why Jadzia Dax cannot get back together with Lenara Kahn suggests to me that homophobia is not an issue on Bajor, and the ease with which the d'jarra caste system was dropped suggests it also was not an integral component of the religion. I suppose this is not a surprise: If anyone could design a workable religion for a culture that has been enormously stable and successful for tens of thousands of years, the Prophets who see beyond linear time could.

There almost certainly are minorities of humans who continue to cling to the old faiths, minorities in the main human worlds and perhaps relatively more substantial populations on different colony worlds. Other civilizations with their own histories may follow the path of humanity, or do otherwise. Perhaps if there's a sufficiently convincing religion, one that seems true and that seems to offer convincing gains, it might actually gain converts. (The Bajorans may soon be making lots of new followers outside their species.) By and large, though, I would argue that the highly secularized future of Star Trek is a perfectly plausible future. How many people need a god to offer them comfort in a near-utopia?
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MacLean's' Mike Doherty has an interview with two authors, Amanda R. Hendrix and Charles Wohlforth, who argue that if humankind is ever to embark in on an expensive program of colonization in space (something much more expensive than fixing our world, they argue), Titan not Mars should be the target.

Q: Why is humanity so fixated on travelling to Mars?

AH: It’s always been fascinating because back in the earliest observations, it looked like there were canals on Mars and some sort of greenery, [as if] there could be aliens. It remains a good option for looking for past life, and more accessible than some of the places in the outer solar system that might have current life. So it’s interesting as a target scientifically, but for long-term human settlement, it’s not the place to go.

CW: We’re a very long way from being able to put humans safely on Mars. The issues with [brain damage from] galactic cosmic rays, or GCRs, are serious, and in the past year, NASA has really come to recognize them: an internal document says you only have 150 days of safe travel unprotected—which won’t get you anywhere near a Mars-and-back mission with current technology. It’s probably time to level with the American people, and setting a farther-out human habitation goal is a better way to start solving those problems, rather than thinking about a short-term trip to Mars that’s probably not going to happen.

[. . .]

Q: Why specifically is Titan the place to go, and can we realistically get people as excited about Titan as we have been about Mars?

AH: Titan is a much more interesting place just visually; in terms of the landscape and the opportunities there, Titan offers so much more. It’s really Earth-like: it’s the only other place in the solar system that has any liquid on the surface. It’s not water, but it’s ethane and methane, and there’s a nice atmosphere. It’s one-and-a-half* the [atmospheric] pressure that we feel here on Earth, so it’s not too much and not too little. The main benefit, of course, is that people will be shielded from a lot of the the GCRs that are so damaging. It takes a long time to get there, and it’s cold, but there are ways around that.
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With Brexit set to diminish the prospects of the British economy and Trump's policies seeming likely to harm the United States, there seems a real prospect of all of the rich countries of the world remaining stuck, with stagnant living standards and growing inequality. Less rich countries also face similar problems, with Russia and Brazil at best bottoming out their declines and China heading who knows where. The big economic boom that began after the Second World War and continued, with varying geographic emphases, even after the 2007-2008 financial crisis might be coming to an end.

Do you think it will? What do you think the consequences might be? People who feel themselves being immiserated, I would note, are often people who make more narrow and less generous choices politically and socially. I hate to raise the spectre of the 1930s gratuitously, but are we in fact heading for an epoch like this? (And then what next?)
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John Quiggin's Crooked Timber post imagining likely outcomes for the post-Brexit United Kingdom feels depressingly possible. The discussion is largely good, too.

I’m finding it hard to see that anything will happen to justify the massive effort involved. The Poles and other EU citizens whose presence was the biggest single justification for Brexit won’t go away. On the contrary, it seems pretty clear that all EU citizens will get permanent residence, even those who arrived after the Brexit vote. Even with a hard Brexit, the benefits of consistency with EU regulations will be overwhelming. The terms of any trade deal with non-EU countries won’t be any better than the existing EU deals and probably worse.

Even symbolically, what’s going to happen? Typically, national independence is marked by a ceremony where the flag of the imperial power is lowered, and the new national flag is raised. But, from what I can tell, the EU flag is hardly ever flown in the UK as it is. The same for national currency, passport, official languages and all the other symbolic representations of nationhood.

So, after a successful Brexit, Britain will be a little poorer and more isolated than before, but otherwise largely unchanged. Will that count as success in the eyes of those who voted to Leave. I don’t know. Maybe those closer to the action could comment.

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