What I'm Reading (Apr. 14)

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How exactly do we think, the great migration – of our medications, freeing speech, and monkey minds.

“Perhaps the most famous example of puzzle-piece thinking is the “triune brain”: the idea that the human brain evolved in three layers. The deepest layer, known as the lizard brain and allegedly inherited from reptile ancestors, is said to house our instincts. The middle layer, called the limbic system, allegedly contains emotions inherited from ancient mammals. And the topmost layer, called the neocortex, is said to be uniquely human—like icing on an already baked cake—and supposedly lets us regulate our brutish emotions and instincts.”

How we think the brain works is due for an update. From Nautil.us, That Is Not How Your Brain Works

“In spring 2020, Ryotaro Katsura, president of Katsura Chemical in Japan, was fretting over a delayed shipment of a pharmaceutical raw material from India. “No worries, no worries,” the Indian supplier kept insisting. Over numerous phone calls and emails, Katsura kept pressing and finally discovered the source of the problem.

A chemical used to produce the material was made by only one supplier, located in China, gripped by the early pandemic and lockdowns.

COVID-19 has brought to light just how much the global pharmaceutical supply chain depends on China, even for the most basic chemical building blocks.

… This entry focuses on China’s command of the market for active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) -- a dominance some Western countries are attempting to overturn as the pandemic and geopolitical tensions expose this supply chain vulnerability.”

We have a strategic reserve of oil; we have no strategic reserve of medicines. The increasing reliance on one country to meet our pharmaceutical needs is an unforced error on our part. We need to pay serious attention to this problem and re-shore aspects of our chemical industry. From the Financial Times, The great medicines migration - How China took control of key global pharmaceutical supplies

“But here’s the reality of the First Amendment: No viable constitutional doctrine declares “Free speech for me and not for thee.” Every single free-speech win for a conservative corporation or individual is also a win for progressive liberty. Each and every First Amendment case mentioned above expanded the zone of American freedom.

That was the problem. It turns out that all too many Republicans want to maximize their own freedom and minimize their opponents’. Why? For many of the same reasons advanced by the architects of campus speech codes: Some ideas are allegedly too dangerous to be shared.”

Censorship from the left over social media, and from the right, over public education is wrong. David French says it better  and with more detail in this piece from The Atlantic, Free Speech for Me but Not for Thee

“Heartbeat detection tests are the most commonly used to evaluate how aware of bodily signals people are.

In humans, this skill is thought to be central to emotional experiences, having a sense of self, memory, knowledge of one’s own cognition and even consciousness. Abnormally low or high interoception is related to disorders like anxiety and depression.

Our work establishes that monkeys and people have a similar sense of their heartbeats and establishes a method for testing this ability across species.”


From The Conversation, Monkeys can sense their own heartbeats, an ability tied to mental health, consciousness and memory in humans