Ghosts, Terrorists, Dreams, Graveyards, Virtual Power Plants

A weekly selection of fine writing from Conked.


Why Do We See Dead People

Patricia Pearson | The Walrus | 27 OCT 2020

Is it “wishful psychosis” to summon up visions of those we have lost, or could there be a deeper meaning? Why do some self-declared rational people, including me, believe they have been visited by ghosts of loved ones? Due to public perception and fear of judgement, how many people have experienced a visit and do not share this information? While literature is a wonderful source of these experiences, we relegate this to fiction not fact. This article examines why we assume that these visitations are part of the grieving process and what science can tell us regarding this phenomenon. (4,100 words)

The Terrorist Threat from the Fractured Far Right

Bruce Hoffman & Jacob Ware | Lawfare | 1 NOV 2020

A pause for concern. The far-right extremist movement has morphed into a more disparate, amorphous and, arguably, dangerous threat than ever before. With disruption caused by the global pandemic, it has become more challenging to track the threats from within and those from outside the US. There are numerous reports and testimony that far-right extremism is responsible for 90% of extremist killings and domestic terrorism is the greatest threat in the US. Anti-government extremism, conspiracy theories and groups, white supremacism, and Neo-Luddites are all using the internet and social media to connect and grow. These similar, but distinct, actors are shifting the threat from ‘lone wolf’ attacks to organised and coordinated violence. (2,592 words)

On Dream Sharing and Its Purpose

Matthew Spellberg | Cabinet Magazine | NOV 20202

Are dreams “a private universe” and “completely asocial”, a “whole nocturnal life you cannot share” as we would assume in this deep state? Many cultures outside of the modern Western world have developed “elaborate protocols by which dreams can be shared” and even elevated to an art form. We may be familiar with the concept of sharing our dreams and interpreting them ourselves, or with assistance of others, and it seems a harmless activity. In some cultures, however, dreams are “not a coded language but a part of reality”. For example, “In many Australian (Aboriginal) cultures, dreams provide an essential point of connection.” (4,969 words)

Emma’s Graveyard Moan: Thomas Hardy’s Elegies for His Dead Wife

Thomas Larson | 3 Quarks Daily | 2 NOV 2020

Novelist and poet Thomas Hardy married Emma Gifford in 1874, the year that Far From the Madding Crowd was published. She saw herself as his superior in taste and breeding with their romance beginning as a soulful and intellectual matching. Their thirty-eight-year marriage was then “mutually regrettable” until her death in 1912. Hardy composed “Poems of 1912-1913”, considered amongst the finest English verse, to grieve her loss and reflect upon their marriage. These poems capture Emma at various times of their courtship and subsequent failed marriage (“scars of the old flame”). One poem, “The Haunting”, is written from her point of view. “The undead are alive because we the living won’t let them go.” A fascinating trip through marital relationships. (1,153 words)

Virtual Power Plants Could Help Solve Our Energy Needs. But What Are They?

Edd Gent | Singularity Hub | 2 NOV 2020

Could we build a greener grid with virtual power plants? As the price of solar panels and batteries drop, individuals and businesses are generating and storing their own electricity. Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) bundle these installations and use them with complex computerised controls to interact with power grids in a similar way to large power plants. While there are still several different models and approaches, a flexible model will allow VPPs to both boost and reduce the amount of energy in the grid. By way of example, a VPP built by the electric car manufacturer Tesla and the South Australian government has had great success, including a 20 percent drop in electricity bills for residents. (724 words)


Play iterated games. All the returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships, or knowledge, come from compound interest.

― Naval Ravikant

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