Essays/Articles That Opened Your Mind

“Potential to alter/broaden the reader’s perspective, however slight. More than anything, I want stuff that’ll provoke thinking. Maybe you read something you’re still mulling over long after? That’s what I’m on the lookout for. Good examples of this are Jess Zimmerman’s Toast piece on emotional labor, Adichie’s TED Talk on the danger of a single story, and Scalzi’s blog on the lowest difficulty setting.”

—EXStickland, “Essays/Articles That Opened Your Mind, ” Metafilter. October 1, 2019.

Natural Selection

“For Darwin, natural selection is a drawn-out, complex process involving multiple interconnected causes. Natural selection requires variation in a population of organisms. For the process to work, at least some of that variation must be heritable and passed on to organisms’ descendants in some way. That variation is acted upon by the struggle for existence, a process that in effect ‘selects’ variations conducive to the survival and reproduction of their bearers.”

—Peter Gildenhuys,
Natural Selection.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. September 25, 2019.

Newly updated.

Explanation of Why Life on Earth is Made Out of Only 20 Amino Acids When Hundreds are Possible| PNAS

“One of the long-standing questions in origins-of-life research centers on how the proteinaceous side chains and the protein backbone were selected during the earliest phases of evolution. Here we have studied
oligomerization reactions of a group of positively charged amino acids, both proteinaceous and nonproteinaceous. Amino acids spontaneously oligomerized without the use of enzymes or activating agents, under mild, hydroxy acid-catalyzed, dry-down conditions. We observed that the
proteinaceous amino acids oligomerized more extensively and with greater preference for reactivity through their α-amine compared with nonproteinaceous amino acids, forming predominantly linear, protein-like backbone topologies. These findings provide a purely chemical basis for selection of the positively charged amino acids found in today’s proteins.”

Moran Frenkel-Pinter, et al. “Selective incorporation of proteinaceous over nonproteinaceous cationic amino acids in model prebiotic oligomerization reactions.” PNAS.

Chile and the United States: Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup, September 11, 1973

“September 11, 1998 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. The violent overthrow of the democratically-elected Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende changed the course of the country that Chilean poet Pablo Neruda described as “a long petal of sea, wine and snow”; because of CIA covert intervention in Chile, and the repressive character of General Pinochet’s rule, the coup became the most notorious military takeover in the annals of Latin American history.”

—Peter Kornbluh, “Chile and the United States: Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup, September 11, 1973.” National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 8.

On 9/11, I like to take the opportunity to reflect on “the Other 9/11,” the one the United States is responsible for.

Liberatory Education | The Hedgehog Review

“In a psychic context, racial reparations may be less obviously needed, but needed nonetheless, for those of us from white families and communities that practice racial thoughtlessness. We, too, need to study race and racism in order to understand ourselves, because the implicit attitudes about race that we have consciously and unconsciously created and accepted are poisoning us and have imprisoned our minds. We are literally dying from our inability to break free of our prejudice, our unexamined opinions. There are direct correlations to be made between white attitudes about race, lack and fear of education, hopelessness and despair, and addiction. It is just not possible to think freely when you are also desperate to cling to your biases.”

—Leslie W. Lewis, “Liberatory Education.” Hedgehog Review. 21.2 (Summer 2019).

Read this essay. It is absolute fire, and equally applicable to gender, class, sexual orientation, disability and other prejudices.

The Big Vitamin D Mistake

“The role of vitamin D in innate and adaptive immunity is critical. A
statistical error in the estimation of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin D was recently discovered…Since all-disease mortality is reduced to 1.0 with serum vitamin D levels ≥100 nmol/L, we call public health authorities to consider designating as the RDA at least three-fourths of the levels proposed by the Endocrine Society Expert Committee as safe upper tolerable daily intake doses. This could lead to a recommendation of 1000 IU for children <1 year on enriched formula and 1500 IU for breastfed children older than 6 months, 3000 IU for children >1 year of age, and around 8000 IU for young adults and thereafter. Actions are urgently needed to protect the global population from vitamin D deficiency.”

—Papadimitriou DT. “The Big Vitamin D Mistake.” J Prev Med Public Health. 2017.

More time indoors also suggests a need for vitamin D supplementation.