Longform Wednesday – Reading, Kashmir, Scifi again (😊), Physics and Andamans

Welcome to Longform Wednesday, where I post approximately five good long articles that I read over the last week! I may miss posting on some weeks, but this week is not one of them.

I am posting this series on here to encourage myself to read more well researched and well thought-out articles online, and in doing that, to give you a selection to try for yourself! These articles are rewarding, because depth is rewarding. Being slow and deliberate with your time is rewarding.

So, this week, we have (as always, click on the headers to get to the articles):

Can Reading Make You Happier – The New Yorker

This whole series is part of my effort to prove to myself that reading can make you happier. This article explores the science behind this, and introduced me to bibliotherapy: the act of reading for therapeutic effect.

Read the article, and then a book!

Kashmir and the Mass Blinding- The Guardian

Last year, Kashmir exploded into protests following the killing of a man the Indian government considered a terrorist. During these protests, the police (or the army, or the border forces, does it matter?) used pellet guns which ended up blinding protestors. No, seriously.

When I was in Manali, I ended up arguing with two strangers about Kashmir, and I was called anti-Indian when I said we can’t stand for what the government is doing to the Kashmiris, that the government has to listen to the people there. I see people on my facebook wall, my friends, saying that even if this crackdown was sad, it was necessary.

Before I get all sad and angry and political again, let me move on.

Auspicium Melioris Aevi – Uncanny Magazine

These days, whenever I read SciFi short stories, they are open-ended, complex, and mostly seem like they are painting a picture rather than telling a story. So I was happy to read this straight-up simple, yet clever SciFi story about an interesting future. Imagine a story in which this quote fits right in, and then tell me you don’t want to read it.

The Suu Kyis and the Hillaries seemed to get along well, for example, but the Modis and Merkels never did. And sometimes there were surprises, like the frequent friendships between the Gateses and the Ahmadis.

The Boundaries of Physics – Quanta Magazine

Recently, String theory has become, at least in the public eye, one of the forerunners in Physicists’ quest to find a Grand Unified Theory of everything. However, as this article shows, there is a fundamental problem with string theory: it is unfalsifiable via experiment.

It’s a great debate. The experiments needed to verify string theory are not possible. But if we don’t do the experiments, how can we even call String Theory scientific. One of the proponents for the theory says we can use a Bayesian interpretation, basically saying calculate fairly the chances of correctness. However, some physicists think that is crap.

The comments in the article are awesome and informative as well.

Native Tribes in the Andaman Islands – The Economic Times

This website doesn’t look too good, but the article is solid.

There are native tribes, mostly cut off from all other contact, living in the Andaman Islands. The Indian government has been careful to leave them to their own devices, to avoid the “colonial mistakes” of the British and the Americans. The British, of course, came to the island and killed most of the tribe in the early 1800s.

However even in the present of course, has been contact between the tribes and the others on the island, especially since some refugees were given land in the immediate surrounding areas. Things came to a head when there was a mixed-race baby born to one of the tribeswomen and the baby was killed.

If you were the Indian government, would you turn a blind eye? The interesting thing is that the people who actually are in close contact with the tribe, including people whose relatives were killed by the tribespeople, say that the tribe should be left alone. There is a long history of local knowledge that will just disappear with modernity.

If you have a thought on what you read, leave a comment below!