What I'm Reading (Sept. 1)

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The “hard problem” – nuclear waste
Our bookshelves speak to our inner nature.
A sustainable diet is not a choice of meat or plants; it is meat and plants.

To fuel society, we need both a constant source of power for our baseline needs and a source of extra when demand rises. Nuclear is, in my view, the best way to provide our baseline and as we have written lately, small reactors may make that possible. There are two problems, the perception of nuclear safety, and the real problem of disposal of nuclear waste.

“Under current disposal plans, this radioactive waste will be sealed in a "multibarrier" system—a series of canisters within canisters, engineered to contain the waste for hundreds of millennia, even if some of the layers fail. The canisters will eventually leak, but if all goes to plan, that will only happen in the distant future, after the radioactive isotopes have mostly decayed.”

From Ars Technica, Solving the rock-hard problem of nuclear waste disposal


If you read What I Am Reading regularly or irregularly, I think the following quote will resonate with you.

“I marvel that the complexity of the human heart can be expressed in the arrangement of one’s books. Inside this paper universe, I find sense within confusion, calm within a storm, the soothing murmur of hundreds of books communing with their neighbors. Opening them reveals treasured passages gently underlined in pencil; running my hand over the Mylar-wrapped hardcovers reminds me of how precious they are. Not just the books themselves, but the ideas within, the recollections they evoke. The image of my father at his desk. The sound of his diction and intonation as he brought each character to life and drove each plot twist home. In these things, I beheld the card catalog of the infinite library of his heart, the map of his soul, drawn with aching clarity in the topography of his books.”

In praise of how we organize our books. From the Atlantic, The Organization of Your Bookshelves Tells Its Own Story


We know that meat has a greater carbon footprint than vegetables. And some of us believe that meat is unhealthy, although to be correct, most vegetarians and vegans come to their dietary beliefs from an ethical rather than health point of view. One of the theoretical conundrums is to have your reduction in meat’s carbon emissions and eat the meat too.

“A growing body of research suggests that the world could, in fact, raise enough beef, pork, chicken and other meat to let anyone who wants to eat a modest portion of meat a few times a week—and do so sustainably. Indeed, it turns out that a world with some animal agriculture might have a smaller environmental footprint than an entirely vegan world. The catch is that hitting the environmental sweet spot would require big changes in the way we raise livestock—and, for most of us in the wealthy West, a diet with considerably less meat than we eat today."

From the Atlantic, by way of Knowable Magazine. A contrarian view of meat vs. plants, at least concerning carbon. Veganism Might Not Be the Most Sustainable Diet