February 2019

Our bovine masters

The old joke goes that aliens might think dogs rule Earth because humans pick up after them. That might need to be modified with the news that [the United States uses 41% of its land area to raise and feed cattle](https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-us-land-use/). That’s by far the biggest land use in America, and it’s used so that…more

Dystopia and its discontents

Kim Stanley Robinson [breaks down the various flavors of utopia and dystopia](https://communemag.com/dystopias-now/) and comes out in favor of writing about, and pursuing, utopias, despite their limitations. He concisely explains why dystopias are unable to spur real change: > These days I tend to think of dystopias as being fashionable, perhaps lazy, maybe even complacent, because…more

Working less, deliberately

Interesting research on how we might be more productive working [4 days a week](https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/feb/19/four-day-week-trial-study-finds-lower-stress-but-no-cut-in-output), and/or [4 hours a day](https://theweek.com/articles/696644/why-should-work-4-hours-day-according-science). The basic premise is that humans are severely limited in our cognitive capacity, and working more than that amount of time actually causes us to do worse: > The [productivity] curve rose steeply at first and…more

Our geologic legacy

The Anthropocene is still getting started, but it’s unlikely to last forever–either we’ll transform ourselves or make ourselves extinct. In 50 million years, what will be left? Probably just a few centimeters of geologic debris: > We note that effective sedimentation rates in ocean sediment for cores with multi-million-year-old sediment are of the order of…more