March 5, 2017 – Stuff I Found Interesting


If you want to persuade people, stop “winning” arguments – “One way, paradoxically, is to give up trying to persuade and instead ask questions.” Excellent article. I find that the best approach is not to try to win the argument but to sincerely try to come to a mutual understanding of why you and they disagree. Sometimes that leads to views changing and sometimes it just leads to better understanding.


New Zealand is offering free holidays to people who agree to a job interview – Where did I put that resume?


THESE ELDERLY DIY-ERS CAME TO PEACE WITH DEATH — BY CRAFTING THEIR OWN COFFINS – Wait. Is this really where I want to go for a job interview?


30 days jail for operator of drone that knocked woman unconscious – Looks like he deliberately flew over a crowd and it was his own piloting failure that caused the crash. Reckless endangerment seems like a reasonable charge and 30 days seems like a reasonable sentence.


The Real Difference between Google and Apple – Don’t look for deep insights into the companies. It’s just an interesting use of patent data and data analytics techniques.


Spurious Correlations – Sent this fun website to some colleagues this week. It’s a great source for examples when you are trying to show people that correlation doesn’t necessarily mean anything, let alone causation. I’ve seen a lot of people understand that better after looking at this site, although that may just be a coincidence.

Health – Physical and Mental

Diet Tracker Showdown: MyFitnessPal vs. Lose It – I’ve used MyFitnessPal and love it. I haven’t tried Lose It. If anyone is in the market for a diet tracking app or website, give them a look.


How to Keep Emotions From Running Your Life – This stuff all sounds good, but do people ever effectively put this stuff into practice? There are few things as hard or as worthwhile as changing the way you think.

Art and Culture

Beyond Curie is a design project that highlights badass women in science, technology, engineering + mathematics. – There’s no question that we need more chicks in STEM.


Architect Turns Old Cement Factory Into His Home, And The Interior Will Take Your Breath Away – Holy cow! That’s really cool. Definitely work checking out the pictures.


Oxford University launches summer school aimed at white working-class British boys – At first glance, it seems hard to think of white guys as Britain’s downtrodden. Class is still hugely important in Britain and classism is more entrenched in longstanding native groups than immigrants, so it isn’t surprising when you think about it.


How Does the Public’s View of Science Go So Wrong? – This is basically a complaint people don’t like scientists because they say things we don’t want to hear. Having more chick scientists wouldn’t hurt.


Fasting diet ‘regenerates diabetic pancreas’ – “The pancreas can be triggered to regenerate itself through a type of fasting diet, say US researchers.” What is a “type of a fasting diet”? Isn’t “fasting” the same as “not eating”? “Type of fasting” sounds a lot like “color of invisibility cloak”.


Would You Want a Dog That Was Genetically Engineered to Be Healthier? – “Dogs have more genetic diseases than any other species on the planet.” Not coincidentally, they’re probably the animals that humans have done the most breeding work on, leading to a lack of genetic diversity. This feels like a common nature vs human control argument. As things go wrong, do we go back to a more natural approach or try to get better at human management?


Bias at The New York Times? ‘The Truth is Hard’ when reporting on bees and neonicotinoid pesticides – I know almost nothing about bees and neonicotinoid pesticides, so I have no clue who is wrong here. What I like about this article is that it challenges what was reported in the NYT, which is a good reminder to try to consume a broad variety of news sources because any one source is likely to fall into bias traps.


What will it take to break the 2-hour marathon? – Don’t look at me. My answer would be to make the race shorter, like they do in The Woodlands.


WW2 bomb craters are a home to rare and vulnerable animals – My takeaway from this is that nature is going to adapt to anything we do. While we have to be careful not to destroy too much, we should not make the opposite mistake of trying to hold the world in stasis either.


Physicists Say They’ve Created an ‘Impossible’ New Form of Matter: Supersolids – While they weren’t listed in the article, but I think my Quest Protein bars are made from Supersolids.


Why It Took the Washing Machine So Long to Catch On – The short answer is that they had to be cheap and reliable enough to gain widespread use. On a side note, when you see people say things like “we should have a tax on robots that take people’s jobs”, consider that you’d still be paying a tax on your robotic clothes washer for taking the job of washer women (who are now free to start STEM careers).


Isaac Newton Says You Can’t Have a Flying Car – Stupid jerk scientists. I want my damn flying car. It’s 2017 already! This is the farthest we’ve EVER been into the future and we’re not even close on this one.


How millions of kids are being shaped by know-it-all voice assistants – When any new technology becomes popular, you can count on two types of articles appearing – how it will be used for porn/sex and how it will be harmful to children. Does writing about how new technology harms children count as a STEM career?

Politics and Policy

Buffett and Gates: America Is Already Great, Thanks to Immigrants – Because I’ve been picking on Bill’s stupid taxing robots comment, I thought I’d post this interview. What he and Warren say in it makes a lot of sense.


Is Neil Gorsuch an “Originalist”? Impossible. – I lean towards originalism in my view of the appropriate way to apply the Constitution, so I thought this opposing viewpoint was interesting. He makes good points, but his argument sounds a lot like “it isn’t perfect so ignore it.”


The vote that could wreck the European Union – I think that it’s a bad sign that I was expecting this to be about one of several other big risks to the EU and not about the French. Still more surprising, it is about their election and not their inability to learn to pee in bathrooms.


Can Uber Ever Deliver? Part One – Understanding Uber’s Bleak Operating Economics – A very negative assessment of Uber’s business model. It sounds convincing, but I’m always skeptical of arguments that venture capitalists are foolishly throwing away good money. They rarely got all that money by being stupid.


Why Planes Don’t Fly Faster – This time it isn’t really the scientists that are to blame. They figured out how to fly much faster. It is the economists who aren’t letting us do it. Bastards.


How Blockchain Is Changing Finance – I strongly recommend using the term blockchain in conversation several times this month. It will make you sound really smart. It is still way too early to know if any of this hype will turn into reality, but people will have long forgotten that you were on the bandwagon if it crashes.


Why is Payola Illegal? – Because the record companies don’t want competitors to be able to advertise.


What do economists know? – An excellent article on what economists know and what is bloviating.