climate change, September record, NOAA
The author writes, “This September was the hottest recorded on Earth since 1880, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Wednesday. It’s another indicator of the impact of human-induced climate change. The data also illustrate this year is on pace to be among the hottest recorded, with the possibility of tying or breaking the record, set in 2016.” Photo credit: Varvara Grabova / Unsplash

Barrett’s Evasions Show Why Expanding the Court Is Necessary ; Do We Live in a Simulation? The Odds Are About 50-50 ; and More Picks 10/16

Barrett’s Evasions Show Why Expanding the Court Is Necessary (Reader Steve)

From the Nation: “During Tuesday’s Senate hearings, Barrett was asked if she would recuse herself if the scenario Trump outlined came to pass and she had to pass judgment on the election. Barrett refused to commit to recusal, protesting that her personal integrity would guard against any wrongdoing. … Barrett is framing the issue of integrity in narrowly personal terms, as if her own honesty were all that counted. But integrity is a matter of legitimate systems as well as honorable people. It doesn’t matter how much personal decency Barrett has. Her pending elevation to the Supreme Court is the culmination of a corrupt process, one that calls into question the legitimacy of the institution itself.”

How Ranked-Choice Voting Could Play a Deciding Role in Maine’s Senate Race (Dan)

The author writes, “One of this November’s closest and highest-profile U.S. Senate races could turn on a unique way of voting in Maine. There, Republican incumbent Susan Collins is defending her seat against Democratic state House Speaker Sara Gideon as well as two independents. Polls show a close contest between Collins, who’s seeking her fifth term, and the well-funded Gideon. And Maine voters will use the ranked-choice voting system, which allows them to rank their choices among the four Senate candidates.”

True Police Reform Lies in Rooting Out Bad Laws (Dana)

The author writes, “Those seeking to hold police officers accountable for their actions in the wake of the Breonna Taylor case must look not only at departmental protocols but also at the laws that may continue to allow racial inequities in the nation’s criminal justice system, law professors said at a virtual panel. … The nation’s laws are littered with examples of procedures that were put in place to protect whites, such as not requiring unanimous juries to secure criminal convictions in Louisiana and Oregon, said David Gray, a professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.”

It Is Bad Science to Say COVID-19 Infections Will Create Herd Immunity (Gerry)

From New Scientist: “According to the signatories of an open letter called the Great Barrington Declaration, lockdown measures are doing more harm than good and we should open up society and let the virus rip. OK, that is a bit of an exaggeration. The declaration – named after the US town where it was signed – advocates a strategy called ‘focused protection’ under which the most vulnerable people shield and everybody else ‘should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal.’ This will then allow herd immunity to build up. The declaration publicly exposed a scientific disagreement that has been simmering for months.”

Do We Live in a Simulation? The Odds Are About 50-50 (Dana)

The author writes, “Ever since Nick Bostrom of the University of Oxford wrote a seminal paper about the simulation argument in 2003, philosophers, physicists, technologists and, yes, comedians have been grappling with the idea of our reality being a simulacrum. Some have tried to identify ways in which we can discern if we are simulated beings. Others have attempted to calculate the chance of us being virtual entities. Now a new analysis shows that the odds that we are living in base reality — meaning an existence that is not simulated — are pretty much even. But the study also demonstrates that if humans were to ever develop the ability to simulate conscious beings, the chances would overwhelmingly tilt in favor of us, too, being virtual denizens inside someone else’s computer.”

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