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Sundry · Secularism, nanoplastics, obesity, AI chatbot, sleep tourism, obesity

Is Christianity the origin of secularism? That’s a bold statement, and the one Tom Holland (the author, not the actor) makes in his book Dominion. The idea is that we perceive and value the greco-roman world as the origin of much of our social progress, whereas people at the time despised the weak and the downtrodden. Today we share less with the greco-romans than we may be ready to acknowledge. According to Holland, it is Saint-Augustine’s ideas that were the root for secularism —

Nanoplastics can travel through plants to insects to fish. So the problem with these bits of molten petrol is even harder to solve. I read about alternatives to plastic in fungi and algae. But when or how will these alternatives be as convenient as plastic? —

Millions of people converse daily with an AI to relieve anxiety and feelings of loneliness. You can call the AI and it talks back to you in a computer-generated voice. Since loneliness is rampant and anxiety the curse of our generation, can this a good thing? To note: was built by Eugenia Kuyda when her friend Roman died tragically. She used text messages and all the data she could find to create a bot to “memorialize” him —

Food photos on Instagram are looking less perfect. We have entered a “laissez-faire” era where the production value of food pics has greatly decreased. Why? First there is a democratization of foodie content. Secondly, the desire for authenticity™ increases by the day. And newer generations have entered the fray —

Human inability to forecast the past has no impact on our desire to forecast the future. This is because society values certainty a whole damn lot — and certainty about the future is priceless. How hard it is to accept that models that predict the economy are mostly invalid? Or that economic forecasters are akin to astrologists? One day we might be able to accurately simulate, say, the American economy with its millions of nodes and trillions of interactions. Today, it might be only hubris —

Sleep tourism is increasing throughout the Western world. That is because we are sleep-deprived, people. For example: the Park Hyatt in NYC has opened a large suite with sleep-enhancing amenities (e.g auto-adjusting bed and climate controls). Book now? —

Do you know what causes the obesity epidemic in the USA? Do you think it’s because of diet? Or behaviour? Food quality? Think again argues the author of this blog. Don’t feel like reading 50,000 words about it? The thesis is that there are environmental contaminants that beget obesity, and that this weird hunger is chemically-induced. Extraordinary investigation and a must-read, for when you are really bored —