on the origins of social inequality

Here’s an article by anthropologist David Graeber and archaeologist David Wengrow shedding light (archaeological evidences and studies left out from the mainstream) on some notions widely held in the social sciences and the popular metasphere regarding the emergence of hierarchical structures in “complex” hunter-gatherers societies. They challenge the contemporary idea that to form an egalitarian society means to take a retrograde step, one that would involve dismantling/giving up the plethora of complexes we have built as a civilization. After all, what do the hippies know about sophistication.

Here’s a (brilliant) talk they gave three years prior to writing that article. Their research has culminated in an upcoming book: The Dawn of Everything.

Also, a graph by Jason Hickel (an economic anthropologist at LSE) based on data from the World Bank:

Íomhá

why do we do things just like that?

In this article David Graeber talks about our innate tendencies to seek pleasure. (Also, this is where he, quite rightly, refers to Richard Dawkins as a militant atheist.) Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“My friend June Thunderstorm and I once spent a half an hour sitting in a meadow by a mountain lake, watching an inchworm dangle from the top of a stalk of grass, twist about in every possible direction, and then leap to the next stalk and do the same thing. And so it proceeded, in a vast circle, with what must have been a vast expenditure of energy, for what seemed like absolutely no reason at all.”

academic posters in mathematical physics

I wrote about designing posters and general experience at various conferences here. That was around mid 2019. I had a vastly different and rather engaging experience at a workshop that was organized in Australia later that year. Don’t know. There is something quite wrong about the way in which these conferences are organized if you look at it from outside the neoliberal bubble. Of course, knowledge acquired by a group must be assimilated and disseminated and it always has. But, science as an institution that it is now was an invention of industrializing Europe at the expense of its colonies and in many ways is still a centralized hierarchical ensemble although it pretends otherwise. A good reference that provides a critical lens is a book by Jonathan Marks titled “why I am not a scientist”.

for beginners in quantum physics

MIT OCW video lectures: I did the whole course including the problem sets and it changed my life!

Ghatak and Loknathan’s book: Wave function formalism but first few chapters have great problems.

Shankar’s book: Linear algebra formalism.

Gamow’s popular science book: Mr. Tompkins explores the atom (and more titles). Great fun when reading as a first year undergrad.

cover photo from goodreads.com