May 28, 2017 – Stuff I Found Interesting

Other

Hunter dies after elephant falls on him – Hard to find a better example of karma in action.

Sea lion grabs girl from pier and drags her underwater – Nobody got hurt in this video, but I’m sure it scared the heck out of some people. Pro tip: if a sea lion swims up and snaps at you, you might want to back off. You definitely don’t want to sit down in that spot with your back to it. Also, if a stranger rescues your child, take a least a moment to say thank you before racing away.

Farting, peeing dinosaurs come to the Manitoba Museum – “As for the Dilophosaurus, the farting dinosaur, Lessem said for now it just makes noises when visitors walk by, but if the dinosaur is a hit, museum staff can install a smell cartridge that will let out a stink when guests pass.” When I pictured the future as a child, this was not part of it.

Habitual sub eater may move lunch spot because of Tonawanda resident’s gripe – Some guy has been grabbing a sandwich and eating it under a shady tree almost every workday for a year. Some busybody in the neighborhood had a conniption over it. On a positive note, virtually every commenter opposed the busybody and the woman whose house he parked in front of said that he’s welcome back any time.

Amazon Echo – SNL – A very amusing take on a new version of the Echo designed for the elderly.

NFL Teams are Right to Blackball Colin Kaepernick – The NFL is an entertainment business. They sell a product. Colin Kaepernick hurt their sales, so it makes sense as to why they don’t want to hire him.

Do We Overvalue Bike Lanes? – A bicyclist’s take on when bike lanes help and when they don’t.

Nuclear Detonation Timeline “1945-1998” – How many nuclear bombs have been detonated? Take a guess. This video will show you where each one was between 1945 and 1998. That covers about 97% of them. I have to admit that I was surprised by the total.

Health – Physical and Mental

Whole Foods Would Look a Lot Different If It Were Science-Based – This article unintentionally shows why healthy food information is a challenge. Shoppers aren’t scientists, that’s why they prefer simple labels like “organic” and “non-GMO” to lengthy and complex explanations.

Mexican Tarahumara woman wins 50km race wearing sandals – Maria Lorena Ramirez is my hero for the week.

Ultra Runner Kilian Jornet Summits Everest in 26 Hours – OK, running a 30+ mile race in sandals seems cool. Racing up Everest just seems wrong. I think that’s like 12.5 miles in 26 hours, so he wasn’t running, but still.

When Your Child Is a Psychopath – What do you do if your child is evil? Not just badly behaved, but psychopathically lacking in empathy and enjoying cruelty? This article was downright disturbing. You may not want to read this.

It’s Pretty Messed Up That Plan B Isn’t Made for the Average American Woman – Plan “B” emergency contraception (aka abortion pills) might not be effective for women over 176lbs. The average American woman is 166lbs (according to the article), so the headline is misleading. But their point is that it doesn’t say on the label that if you are significantly larger than average, you should buy two.

The Natural Cancer Cure Narrative –This article discusses a new movie by Julie Reason that talks about holistic, natural treatments.

Fried Twinkies – “The golden, cream-filled snack cakes guests love have been given a hot new, deep-fried spin. Coated in a light, crispy batter, Hostess® Deep Fried Twinkies® are ready to drop in your fryer for a rise in sweet, sweet sales.” These are not part of a holistic cure for cancer.

Most scientists say you shouldn’t hit the snooze button — here’s how to snooze the right way – It says that snoozing to wake up more slowly is good but snoozing and falling back asleep is bad. I still think that adjusting your schedule so that you wake up without an alarm is the best way, but I’ve preached that for years and have won over exactly zero converts so far.

Art and Culture

How fake are nature documentaries? – A video showing how pieces of real wildlife footage are pieced together to tell a false narrative, not to deceive but to make things interesting. It’s sort of like how the news is reported today, except for that “not to deceive” part.

It’s not what you think – An article written by someone struggling to cope with the death (suicide?) of Chris Cornell. I have to admit that I have a hard time sympathizing because I never engaged with the grunge culture or its music.

Blind baseball announcer creates ‘a theatre of the mind’ with his colour commentary – Huh? How does he do commentary for a game he’s never seen? How can this guy have such a positive outlook while people like Chris Cornell seem to be perennially depressed? How much of that difference is, like the psycho children above, baked into who we are and how much is under our control?

¸„.-• Glow Ink + Glass Pen Drawing! •-.„¸ – It’s a video of a guy drawing in the dark with UV reactive ink. Cool.

BERKLEY DEVOTES AN ENTIRE COURSE TO THE WORK OF HAYAO MIYAZAKI – OK, it may have problems with bigotry and tolerance, but I’ve got to give UC Berkley props for having a Miyazaki course.

THIS IS COMICPALOOZA HOUSTON 2017 COSPLAY MUSIC VIDEO – Miss Comicpalooza in Houston? Want to see the amazing costumes? Here’s the video. Cosplay costumes are getting really, really good.

Quaint Turf House in Iceland Looks Like It’s Rising Up from the Earth – The grassy home of an 80+ year old woman in Iceland. Don’t worry, neighbors help her mow the roof when needed.

A Taste of New York – Hyperlapse videos are overdone, but this one is really, really good. If you want a quick visit to NY, here you go.

Why American Workers Now Dress So Casually – This article theorizes that Americans dress more casually at work because of Silicon Valley. I think that ignores a much longer trend towards decreased formality.

Amazon’s first bookstore in New York City sucks the joy out of buying books – The author is upset because the Amazon store “has books the human curators, based on analytics, know will sell well in the store.” She’d rather have an eclectic store that appeals to her. She reminds me of those people that love unknown bands but stop listening to them if they become popular.

White-Owned Restaurants Shamed for Serving Ethnic Food: It’s Cultural Appropriation – Someone has produced a list of restaurants to avoid in Oregon because they are owned by white people but aren’t selling “white” food. I find that hard to swallow.

What’s Wrong with Cultural Appropriation? These 9 Answers Reveal Its Harm – I’ve been critical of people’s complaints of cultural appropriation, so here’s an article that attempts to explain why it is such a bad thing. I still disagree, but it’s good to see her perspective.

Banning Lou Reed: The Cultural Revolution Eats Its Fathers – Playing “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” brought complaints from an offended transgendered student.

The beautiful languages of people who talk like birds – There are whistling languages. Quite interesting. Whistles travel further. They also make it harder to know who is “speaking”.

In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs – A rambling article about the writer’s parents and others’ attractions to Beatles tunes. What I found interesting is that they also used whistles to communicate. “Bulgarian couples customarily had whistle-calls — distinctive tunes they came up with, usually borrowed from the melody of a favorite song, by which they could find each other in a crowd or summon one another from across the street.” Kathy and I need to work on our whistling.

LEGO Porsche Crashtest – Watch high speed camera footage of a LEOG Porsche crashing.

Science

THE CONCEPTUAL PENIS AS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT: A SOKAL-STYLE HOAX ON GENDER STUDIES – Yet another “I scammed a journal with an obvious fake research article”. I think the point that many science journals accept virtually anything is well established.

Dog of a dilemma: the rise of the predatory journal – How bad is the problem of science journals? Here’s an article about a dog that serves on the board of several.

Why Brain Scientists Are Still Obsessed With The Curious Case Of Phineas Gage – Phineas Gage was a decent guy until an explosion shoved metal rod through his skull. Then he became a jerk for several years. Scientists use it as a classic case of how different parts of the brain control our personality. I still wonder if he was just really mad about having a metal rod shoved through his skull. I’d probably be cranky (OK, crankier) for years if that happened to me.

Science Busts The Biggest Myth Ever About Why Bridges Collapse – Remember that bridge that started to resonate until it fell apart. Well, it wasn’t resonance. It just blew around a bunch until it fell apart.

The energy expansions of evolution – An interesting look at evolution split into five epochs based on the available sources of energy – Geochemical, Sunlight, Oxygen, Flesh, and Fire.

Technology

Sharing America’s code – The federal government is increasingly open sourcing its code. I presume that this doesn’t apply to the NSA.

Get Ready for the Next Big Privacy Backlash Against Facebook – A somewhat hostile view of how much Facebook knows about people and how they use it to target ads and possibly manipulate emotions.

Why Google Is Suddenly Obsessed With Your Photos – Played with Google Photos lately? They do a pretty amazing job of identifying the content of your images. So in a few years, photo services are going to have a dossier on you – who you are seen with, what you are doing in the pictures, what brands you consume, etc.

Coding is not “fun,” it’s technically and ethically complex – Say what? This article is just bizarre. It reacts angrily to the notion that coding can be fun (a trick to lower programmer labor costs). My favorite line in describing coders is “slovenliness is verboten.” Yeah, I’ve NEVER met a slovenly programmer. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Politics and Policy

Students Shut Down Northwestern Class to Protest ICE Representative’s Visit – Another case of close-minded students blocking others from hearing a different perspective. I find it odd that universities seem to allow this behavior without repercussions to those disrupters. Then again, maybe they will do something. “Northwestern is carefully reviewing the facts around Tuesday’s events in order to determine the appropriate actions to be taken by the University.” I doubt it.

Students walk out of Mike Pence commencement speech at Notre Dame – If you are extremely opposed to hearing what someone has to say, this is a better way of handling it rather than shouting them down. It still seems rather snowflaky to me.

Look Who Wants a Safe Space Now – To be fair, it isn’t just authoritarian leftwing college students trying to limit free expression. There are still plenty on the right that want to limit the scope of the first amendment to not include allowing people to burn their own American flags.

Federal power creeps its way toward controlling . . . spiders? – From whence does the federal government derive the legal authority to protect endangered species? From the commerce clause, which allows them to regulate commerce between the states. A landowner in Texas with some local endangered spiders on his property is calling BS and the case is going to the Supreme Court.

Does capitalism help or hurt women? – An overview of a debate between whether capitalism or socialism is better for women. It’s pretty much on the side of capitalism, but then, isn’t reality?

Letter: Countering misleading pushback to over-the-counter hearing aids – Last week I commented on an article slamming Elizabeth Warren for wanting to regulate personal sound amplification products. This letter offers an opposing view. No clue where the truth is.

Earlier Access To New Drugs Could Solve Canada’s Affordability Crisis – I thought drugs were cheap in Canada. This article advocates letting Canadians use drugs that have been approved in America or Europe instead of having to wait for Canada to approve them.

‘Exclusionary Zoning’ Is Opportunity Hoarding by Upper Middle Class – The author views zoning as a tool to exclude less well-off people from enjoying good neighborhoods and schools.

Loving across the color line – “Today, more than 11 million Americans are married outside the racial box.” It seems like it is well past time to stop categorizing people by race. Instead of mandating such behavior, the government should discourage it.

Alaska Cops Fight for the Right to Sexually Exploit Prostitution Suspects – Make it illegal for cops to sexually exploit prostitutes and then prostitutes can discover who is an undercover cop by, well, use your imagination. Allow them to, and they’ll be able to use their authority to sexually exploit the prostitutes. I’d call it a sticky situation, but that seems kind of gross in this context. I have a simpler solution – legalize prostitution. Why have our cops spend time protecting us from people selling sex when they could be protecting us from killers and crooks?

The dark side of paid parental leave – This article goes through some of the downsides of government mandated paid parental leave.

5 Ways The Government Keeps Native Americans In Poverty – Extreme poverty is a big problem for Native Americans. Part of the reason for it is the odd relationship between the tribes and the government. I don’t know what the solution is. Maybe give them the choice to become normal property owner/citizens knowing that they will eventually assimilate away their tribal existence. Or let the tribes become fully independent nations. What we’re doing today doesn’t seem to be working very well.

Organic Farming is Bad for the Environment – This article says that because organic farming techniques produce less food per acre, they require that more land be dedicated to farming.

Someone killed a congressional inquiry into America’s sky-high transit construction costs – Why is everyone else getting high speed trains and we aren’t? One reason is that infrastructure projects in the US are much, much more expensive. Congress was going to have the GAO look into why, but then they decided that they didn’t want to know. So if you want more infrastructure in the US, first figure out why it costs about 7x as much per kilometer to build a subway in NY compared with Paris or Berlin.

Economics

Jacque Fresco, Futurist Who Envisioned a Society Without Money, Dies at 101 – When I was a little kid, I imagined a world where there was no money. People just did whatever they wanted. Of course, we’d need a way to encourage people to do useful things like build subways rather than just sit around. To do that, we would reward them with special credits for doing useful stuff. They could give those credits to other people that did useful stuff, thereby encouraging more useful things. Then I realized that those credits were just money. Didn’t take me 101 years to work that out.

Are we about to witness the most unequal societies in history? – Technology seems to be increasing the gap between the rich and the poor. Left unsaid in the article is whether it is worse to have a society in which everyone is richer but the rich are much richer or whether it is better to have one in which everyone is poorer but more equal.

Trade Deficits Don’t Matter – Unless Caused by Government – A good explanation of how we have a trade deficit and why it isn’t a problem.

THE WORLD IS RUNNING OUT OF SAND – Someday I want to write a book about all the “the world is running out of” scares. Sand? Seriously? Well, read the article if you want this guy’s perspective. As always, if someone claims we are running out of something and doesn’t back it up with price information, be very skeptical.

Amazon’s phenomenal rise in market value: the most remarkable case of wealth creation, business success in history? – A paean to Amazon. “In recognition of its success at serving consumers, I hereby nominate Amazon for the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for doing more to create consumer value and improve the lives of the average person in America and in the other countries where Amazon operates than any other single corporation, charitable organization or government agency in the world.”

Which Companies Have the Highest Revenue Per Employee? – They talk a lot about Silicon Valley and tech, but it is energy that wins this game.

May 21, 2017 – Stuff I Found Interesting

Other

You Will Hate Your Husband After Your Kid Is Born – Some lady that had a kid extrapolates from her experience to reach the conclusion that all women are just like her. By coincidence, she also sells a book called How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids. I wonder what her husband thinks of all this. I’m not sure I’d be thrilled if my wife made a career out of how much she hated me. Well, not unless she made a lot of money doing it.

 

Growing Old After Football – A lookback at some of the players for the 1972 Dolphins. Lots of concussion talk. Maybe the NFL should switch to flag football. Seriously. Would the game be that much worse if they didn’t slam into each other with such horrible consequences? I’ve heard that soccer is popular in some countries and while they have contact, it isn’t nearly as violent.

 

I Paid Women To Play Overwatch With Me, And It Was Fantastic – Did you know that you can hire players to assist you in multi-player video games? This article talks about some female players in Brazil that are doing this. Not sure how the gender angle plays into this. Maybe it’s hard to find guys that don’t steal your kills.

 

Why You Shouldn’t Tell People about Your Dreams – Simple answer – because nobody else cares. Seriously – nobody cares. The same is true for any adventures you had in a role playing game. I’m not sure why someone telling you about a movie or book can be interesting but telling you about a dream virtually never is, but that’s the way it is.

 

The Native American Code Talkers Who Helped Win WWI – I didn’t realize that we used code talkers in WWI.

 

Pacific island the most plastic-polluted place on Earth – Imagine a remote island paradise in the Pacific. Did you imagine the beaches covered with plastic waste? Henderson Island is covered with almost 40 million pieces of plastic. I blame Gilligan.

 

My Family’s Slave – A really interesting story about a Filipino slave owned by a family in Seattle.

 

Spam Flavored Macadamia Nuts – What? The? Hell? NOT ON MY CHRISTMAS LIST! And if you dream of eating spam flavored macadamia nuts, don’t tell me about it. OK, I have to admit, I am a little curious these things, but they still sound worse than disgusting. I may have to buy these as gifts for people I don’t like.

Health – Physical and Mental

THE PAINFUL TRUTH ABOUT TEETH – Teeth are one of the biggest visible differentiators between the rich and the poor. Dental care is expensive. OK, not everyone with bad teeth is poor. Some of them are just British.

 

A Shocking Diagnosis: Breast Implants ‘Gave Me Cancer’ – Shocker, implanting plastic bags in your body can lead to cancer! Who could have predicted that? Actually, the effect seems fairly limited and focused mainly on rough textured implants (there are different types?). My bet is that the cancers caused by the implants are much fewer than those cancers that are detected much later because of implants. Either way, the thought of plastic sacks of goo in someone’s body is, well, yuck. I think I’d rather have spam flavored nuts.

 

How Washington Lost the War on Muscle – Remember how anabolic steroids were all the rage (yes, that was intentional)? You don’t hear much about them anymore. Notice all the ads for treatments for low testosterone? They are selling prescription anabolic steroids, mostly to weight lifters. Their use is basically as controlled as “medical marijuana” is. It’s a rapidly growing $2 billion market with 2.2 million men on prescriptions in the US.

Art and Culture

The On Bicycle Stand, a Bike-Shaped Bike Stand – Really, really cute bike stands shaped like little bicycles. They seem impractical from a locking standpoint, but they are adorable anyway.

 

The left’s misguided obsession with ‘cultural appropriation’ – George Will argues against the obsession with cultural appropriation using Elvis as an example. It seems to me that there should be a distinction between mocking other cultures (tacky, to be frowned on) and adopting aspects of their culture. The latter is how virtually all culture develops and evolves. It is hard to understand how someone can have even a mediocre education in the arts and/or history and still think that cultural appropriation is a thing that should be fought against.

 

Chanel’s $1,325 boomerang condemned as ‘cultural appropriation’ – Here’s a great example of silliness of the cultapp crowd. They are bitching not because $1,325 is absurdly pricey for a nice looking boomerang or even because a boomerang is a stupid fashion accessory, but because they are “appropriating” aboriginal culture. I say that these whiners are culturally appropriating whining from two year olds.

 

Suspicious minds: why Elvis’s posthumous popularity is plummeting – I’ve never understood why he was popular in the first place, but then my first exposure to Elvis was the 70’s fat, drugged Elvis. Regardless, he’s not connecting with the younger generation like other old acts still do. Score one for today’s youth.

Science

A forgotten Darwinian theory upends everything biologists thought about the female orgasm – There is still a lot of debate in the science world about why female humans have orgasms. I’m going to pass on the obvious jokes about nerdy male scientists. The article basically concludes that women have them because they feel good and that encourages them to prefer men better at giving them. I’m still not clear on the evolutionary logic there. I’ll skip the jokes about needing to do more research. This topic is fertile ground for jokes.

 

Sergio Canavero: Will His Head Transplants Roll? – A skeptical article on some guy that claims he’s close to doing human head transplants. I don’t think it is skeptical enough. This guy is a total quack.

 

The Tuatara: Not a Lizard Nor a Dinosaur – What’s a tuatara? “It’s a reptile that decapitates birds with its saw-like jaws, lives to about 100 years old, and can remain active in near-freezing temperatures.” I’m going to go out on a limb and say that they probably don’t make good pets. I wonder if they’d eat Spam nuts?

 

The Amazing Dinosaur Found (Accidentally) by Miners in Canada – OK, you have to click through to see the picture. That’s a fossil! Wow! If I discovered that, I’d need to change my pants.

 

Why these researchers think dinosaurs were minutes away from surviving extinction – Why did the dinosaurs die? Bad timing. If the asteroid had hit just a little further away, everything would have been relatively OK. They should have had better insurance.

 

We Aren’t Built to Live in the Moment – What makes humans different from the beasts? We have to pay taxes. No wait, the article claims that it is because we plan; we think ahead. The author clearly hasn’t met many people.

Technology

Diesel engines pollute much more than we thought — and that’s bad for our health – The article concludes that 38,000 people died prematurely globally because of diesel engines in 2015. It’s not clear what their basis for comparison is. Is that compared to if those engines had been gas? Had not existed at all? Did they offset by the number of premature deaths that would have occurred if people couldn’t buy those diesel engines? It’s a lot of deaths, but I think it would be important to better understand the counterfactual.

 

AUTOMATION IS ALREADY CLAIMING UK JOBS: STUDY – No, this was not written by a scribe after the invention of the printing press. This is a recent article. They should think about teaching history in schools.

 

All fossil-fuel vehicles will vanish in 8 years in twin ‘death spiral’ for big oil and big autos, says study that’s shocking the industries – Tony Seba, an economist at Stanford, makes some stunning claims – virtually no gas cars sold 8 years from now and oil prices steady at $25/bbl. Is he right? Is he right but optimistic in his timing? Would you have laughed in 1998 if someone had said that in 8 years nobody would be buying film cameras anymore?

 

The working dead: IT jobs bound for extinction – An article on IT jobs that are dying. There is the obvious list of dying languages (C++). It also posits that server admin jobs, especially Windows admin jobs, are threatened because of the move to cloud computing. That’s life in the tech world – keep adapting or support dying stuff until it and your career are dead. Y2K ain’t coming back again. Well, there will be the Unix 2038 problem, but that won’t be a big issue. We’ve got 21 years to prepare for that and we are the species that plans ahead.

Politics and Policy

How Homeownership
Became the Engine of
American Inequality

How Homeownership Became the Engine of American Inequality – An article critical of the home interest deduction. It does seem like a stupid idea – use the tax code to subsidize mortgage debt, with the benefit higher for people that borrow more and are in higher tax brackets. I think that a quick way to judge whether a deduction is stupid is to ask what you would think if the government just sent out checks using the same logic used in the deduction. The net effect is the same but the different framing helps you see things differently.

 

Conventional Artillery and Nuclear Missiles in North Korea – The author applies game theory to the NK situation. He concludes that either the US or China should use military force to stop NK developing nuclear missiles. Scary stuff. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just buy them out?

 

Black Graduates Do Themselves And Americans No Favors By Booing Betsy DeVos – A black writer takes students at Bethune-Cookman to task for being intellectually lazy in their unwillingness to even listen to Betsy DeVos.

 

The nakedly partisan and the dead – A good article blasting partisans on both sides for inconsistently being uncivil in their arguments and complaining about the incivility of their opponents.

 

Checking How Fact-checkers Check – By comparing fact checkers when they check the same facts to see if they are consistent, they showed that fact checking is basically a load of crap. It’s mostly just editorializing with a “we’re officially right” spin.

 

Elizabeth Warren is concocting another way to make your life more expensive. – She’s proposing new regulations for hearing aids to allow them to be sold over the counter. The problem, according to the author, is that it would also regulate “personal sound amplification products” which are like hearing aids but currently not regulated. So expensive hearing aids would get cheaper but cheap hearing aids would get more expensive under her bill. Why not deregulate them all? What purpose is served by getting the FDA involved with hearing aids?

Business and Economics

A few notes about the Spotify stock-market listing – A discussion of the relative merits of direct listing rather than going through a traditional IPO. Interesting read (you’re not buying that, are you?), but I still question whether Spotify, despite its popularity, has a viable business model of if they’ve just shown that if you can get investors to subsidize the heck out of people’s music, people will like that.

 

Jimmy Carter, Of All People, Should Understand Canadian Softwood Tariffs – Sadly Not – This article takes Jimmy Carter to task for hypocrisy. Lauded for his help providing homes to the poor with habitat for humanity, he is cheering on President Trump’s massive tax increase on Canadian lumber which will make homes more expensive. Why would he do that? Maybe this quote from him will give some perspective: “Timber sales are a major source of income for my own family”.

 

Why Are Economists Giving Piketty the Cold Shoulder? – Thomas Piketty wrote the bestselling book Capital in the Twenty-First Century. It told people envious of wealthy people what they wanted to hear – the state needs to redistribute money from the wealthy to people like them. This article asserts that mainstream economists don’t agree with him. BTW, if you meet people that are fans of his, it is fun to point out that they are “rich” by world standards and should therefore be subject to confiscatory taxes to be given to the world’s poor. Their support for him becomes a bit more nuanced at that point.

 

Why Environmentalists Need to Understand Economics – Boy is this true! Environmentalism is awesome and makes a lot of sense except when it doesn’t. A little awareness of things like markets, incentives, price discovery, and trade-offs could make the environmental movement so much more effective at accomplishing their goals.

 

Don’t subsidize rooftop solar customers – An interesting perspective. Using “net metering” allows people to sell rooftop solar electricity at retail rather than wholesale prices. The difference has to be paid for by other electricity users. Given than the people with rooftop solar are generally richer than those without, this is a shift of costs from the rich to the poor, increasing inequality. Seems like it would make more sense to just pay prevailing market supply prices not retail prices for rooftop solar power electricity put into the grid.

 

Why Is Insider Trading Illegal? – This article claims that insider trading should be legal because it surfaces information more quickly. That sounds reasonable enough, but I’d be concerned about the generation of inside information specifically to move markets.

 

Why Do College Admissions Offices Value Volunteer Work? – Not really all that interesting, but it’s a letter I sent to an economist that made it into his blog. I’m officially famous.

May 14, 2017 – Stuff I Found Interesting

Other

The real problem with standing desks, according to evolutionary psychology – The gist of the article is that it makes it too easy to get distracted by other people walking by because they are at eye level. That sounds more like “the problem with open office plans”.

RETIREMENT INCOME LITERACY QUIZ – This was hard. I missed 3 of 38. Fortunately, I’ve still got a few more years to study.

Never Before Seen: Deer Spotted Eating Human Bones – I knew it! Bambi will chew you to pieces if you give him the chance. Shooting deer isn’t “hunting”; it’s self-defense.

How to Win The #MyOreoCreation Contest – Advice on how to win $500K by suggesting an Oreo flavor. There are no deer on the selection committee, so I’m guessing that “human bone” won’t win this one.

Here’s Why Bosses at Google Are Not Allowed to Hire, Fire, or Promote Employees – Google has a really weird system for hiring and firing people. I suspect that it is the sort of thing that seems to work when you have huge profits and an alluring brand that attracts top talent, but it won’t spread into more marginal businesses.

Your Credit Score Is Linked To Your Chance of Divorce – So if you have bad credit, your marriage may be on borrowed time? Sorry.

The Last Person You’d Expect to Die in Childbirth – This article is a mix. It has a sad story about a neonatal nurse that died of preeclampsia shortly after having her first baby. It also uses this anecdote as an indictment of our health care system. Some of their criticisms and suggestions seem valid, but their international comparisons seem less so. For example, it compares maternal childbirth deaths between the US and Scandinavia without controlling for ethnicity. Wouldn’t it make more sense to compare the Scandinavian rate with that of American’s of Scandinavian decent? When people make no effort to control for important variables that they could easily control for, it makes me suspect that they are using stats to further their agenda rather than search for the truth.

Health – Physical and Mental

Why New Parents Need to Take a Break From the News (and What They Should Do Instead) – The snowflake generation is having babies! In all seriousness, the basic advice is sound and applies to everyone, not just new parents. If you watch or read too much disturbing content, it can warp your outlook. If you consume a steady diet of crime shows and live in fear of crime, if you watch a lot of soaps and fret that your spouse is cheating on you with some amnesiatic bimbo, or if the “news” has you convinced that “those people” are ruining America, you might want to cut back a bit. Stop by sometime and we’ll watch Pollyanna together.

Why You Should Learn to Say ‘No’ More Often – This is good advice, although it isn’t needed by most two-year olds.

Yes, This Is a Particularly Horrendous Year for Seasonal Allergies – Can this really be true? It seems like a particular place and season might be bad, but it seems unlikely to be true everywhere. Anyway, there’s some advice here for dealing with it if you have allergy problems.

Art and Culture

32 books that will make you a more well-rounded person – Another list of books you should read according to somebody you’ve never heard of. Some of the suggestions are good. Some seem kind of stupid based on the state goal. At least one, Romeo and Juliet, isn’t even a book. They left off Evolution Man.

Why Tuvel’s Article So Troubled Its Critics – Associate Professor Rebecca Tuvel wrote a paper called In Defense of Transracialism in which she compared transracialism to transgenderism. The reaction was astounding, with fellow feminists getting up in arms and demanding a retraction. I think that the reaction says less about any of the specifics involved than it does about the fundamentalist orthodoxy of some academic subcultures. It looks like she was seen as a heretic and they declared a fatwa against her.

Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage? – After reading this attempt to show that open marriages are just a different social construct, I’m unconvinced. It sounds like they are a much less happy and much creepier “marriage” to me. I’m not going to judge someone that is married but sleeps around, but….no wait, I guess I am going to judge them. Yuck.

Science

The Amazingly Enormous STEM Careers Poster – This lists jobs that are available based different fields of study. I like some of the random bits, like Comp Sci leading to a job of “Asylum worker, government”.

Eliud Kipchoge 2:00:25 – A sciency look at the attempt to break the 2 hour marathon. The attempt missed it by 26 seconds. I’m pretty sure that they would have made it tried this in The Woodlands marathon.

Cries the acupuncturist, “Medicine is biased against us, and there’s a double standard!” – A nice article on the efficacy of acupuncture and the complaints of bias by the medical community against it. I like the quote “What do you call alternative medicine that has been scientifically proven to work? Medicine.”

The science of inequality: why people prefer unequal societies – This is an interesting take on inequality. The article concludes that people are bothered more by unfairness than inequality.

Ravens remember the nature of a single reciprocal interaction sequence over 2 days and even after a month – They keep track of who is naughty and nice. I wonder if they know why a raven is like a writing desk. If you need any more evidence of the coolness of corvids, check out 10+ Pics That Prove Corvids Are The Biggest Baddasses In The Animal Kingdom.

Great White Sharks Are Being Killed and Eaten by Killer Whales – This is cool, but weird. They keep finding sharks with their livers eaten out of them and they’re blaming killer whales? I had no idea that killer whales were such picky eaters. Something seems fishy about this.

Technology

The case for bicycles’ inevitable triumph over cars – Do you think that self-driving cars are eventually going to take over? Nope. Electric bikes for the win. “That’s the conclusion of Horace Dediu, a prominent analyst of disruptive technologies, who has spent the past three and a half years researching the future of transportation.” I can only imagine that this guy is an idiot that has never lived anywhere with weather.

The Mongols built an empire with one technological breakthrough – This article claims that the stirrup was the killer tech that lead to the Mongols concurring one of the largest empires in history.

Be a Spectacle at Graduation! – Plans for a graduation cap that lights up and flips its own tassel. Seems like the sort of thing you’d want if you were graduation from a technology program.

History of the Pre-Internet ‘Minitel’ Videotex Service as Told Through @NYTimes Articles – I’d forgotten about Minitel. It was France’s attempt at a national computer network. Why did it die and the Internet take over the world? I think it is because it was managed the Internet was open.

Marine Unit in Norway First to Deploy with Rifle Suppressors – If I ever had to serve in an armed force, I’d definitely prefer one that used suppressors. If you have to kill a bunch of people, at least do it without making a racket.

How to Make a DIY LED Finger Fidget Spinner – If you want to make your own LED finger fidget spinner, this will show you how.

Politics and Policy

New Gene Tests Pose a Threat to Insurers – You can get a test that shows whether you have the genes that make it much more likely that you’ll get Alzheimer’s disease. An insurer can’t look at that information. Insurance markets don’t work when information is that asymmetric. I don’t know what the answer is.

Austrian Court Rules Facebook Must Delete Hate Speech – Austria is demanding the Facebook delete some hateful posts about Greens party leader Eva Glawischnig not just in Austria but worldwide. Before you react angrily about Austria overstepping its bounds, remember that we do similar things, not for hate speech but for misuse of copyrighted materials. I still don’t like it, but I think it’s a more complicated topic than it appears on the surface. For the record, I don’t know if Eva is a lousy traitor and a corrupt bumpkin, but I feel that I have every right to say that she is.

Forfeiture Victory: Judge Orders San Diego DA to Return the Slatic Family’s Life Savings – How did the DA get their life savings? The DA suspected that the Slatic family might be breaking the law, so they took all the money in their (and their children’s) bank accounts. The DA didn’t actually file any charges; they just fought for over a year to keep the money.

Isle of Indebtedness – A history of how Puerto Rico got into the debt problems that they are in now.

America has a water crisis no one is talking about – According to this, water has become unaffordable. I’m calling BS. If your water bill is too high, use less. That’s what the price is telling you. Water is cheap and you really don’t need that much.

You Can’t Deny that Venezuela is a Socialist Calamity – You can’t have too many reminders that socialism has ALWAYS ends badly with shortages, poverty, and authoritarianism always following. The article also helpfully points out that the Scandinavian countries aren’t socialist.

Economics

Luddites have been getting a bad rap for 200 years. But, turns out, they were right – The stupid in this article is so painful that it hurts. The luddites were the guys that destroyed weaving equipment to protect their jobs from automation. “They were right”??? We’ve got less than 5% unemployment and automation has made us fantastically rich compared with how we would be without it.

By standards of a century ago, we’re better off than John D. Rockefeller – Would you rather be the richest man in the world 100 years ago? No TV, crappy cars, horrible air travel, no AC, no smartphones, etc. This article says that we live better today than Rockefeller himself lived 100 years ago.

How capitalism is setting washerwomen free – This article discusses the benefits of washing machines for women in poor societies and how their adoption has paralleled economic development. I think that people that complain about automation should grab a load of laundry, walk down to the river, and beat their clothes clean on a rock. Then they can tell me what they think of machines taking people’s jobs.

Is Automation Warping the Labor Market as Dramatically as We Think? – “A new study provides a counter to the conventional wisdom that robots are stealing our jobs.” Thank you.

Efforts to Reduce the Trade Deficit Will Have Unintended Negative Consequences – It helps to think of the “trade deficit” as the debit entry offsetting the “capital surplus” credit in our economy. To the extent that foreigners invest in and lend money to the US, we’ll have a trade deficit. Those two things will always match, so if you take steps to reduce the trade deficit, you’ll either reduce foreign investment or lending.

May 7, 2017 – Stuff I Found Interesting

Other

‘Seductive’ dress gets girl barred from chess tournament – I admit that I was hoping to see pictures of a scantily clad chess babe causing her male nerd opponents to be horribly distracted. Nope. Any guy that thinks this outfit is seductive needs to get out more.

 

The Pets’ War: On Hilda Kean’s “The Great Cat and Dog Massacre” – This is a book review for a book about the killing of pets in London during the war. It appears that something like a quarter of all pets in London were killed by their owners at the start of the war. I don’t think that would happen today, but then I didn’t realize it happened then.

 

Dogs Don’t Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving – This is a VERY funny story about someone moving two neurotic dogs. After reading this, I think I have a better understanding of why people in London killed their pets.

 

Who Defines Expertise? – A college is going to make a prof who has been teaching philosophy for 50 years stop because their PhD is in English. The new rule is you can only teach what you have an official credential in. Socrates, Plato, Locke, Descartes, Bertrand Russell…none of them had PhD’s in Philosophy. Something to think about.

 

Guy makes good money farming in other people’s yards – “This nomadic gardener travels between Maine to Florida gardening leased front yards. With a frugal lifestyle and revenues as high as $1.5K a week, he’s living the dream.” Not sure what dream that is, but if it is working for him I guess it’s good.

 

Crows atop other birds – Crows are the cool kids of the bird world. These pictures of crows riding on other birds are awesome.

 

Why Americans Smile So Much – According to this, people in other countries don’t smile at each other nearly as much as Americans do. I suspect that it is because of a combination of poorer dental care and because they just don’t like each other as much. The latter is not a surprise. I’ve heard that most people in other countries are foreigners.

 

Biisuke Ball’s Big Adventure Part 2 – What the heck is this? It’s a “story” of a little red ball being captured by big black balls and then rescued by its orange and green ball brothers. It’s Japanese with English subtitles. It’s a musical. Watch this and you won’t have to wonder why people in other countries don’t smile as much as we do.

 

This is How Google will Collapse – Here’s the logic: Google makes money off of ads. People are blocking more ads. Google is doomed!!! My recommendation – don’t sell all your shares just yet.

Health – Physical and Mental

Why Quality Sleep Grows More Elusive with Age – Another story on how people don’t sleep as well when they get older. Maybe it is because they spend their nights writing articles like this. I learned that if you think you are getting enough sleep because you aren’t tired during the day, don’t be so sure. You may be sleep deprived but just don’t know it.

 

Malcolm Gladwell on Why We Shouldn’t Value Speed Over Power – The author of the “10,000 hours” stuff is back and he is pushing the theory that we judge people’s brains on how quickly they can think when we should be focusing on how powerfully they can think. I may need more time to think about this. Maybe I’ll sleep on it.

 

When It Comes to Heartbreak, Placebos Are the Best Medicine – They took people that had just gone through painful breakups and sprayed saltwater up their nose. They told half of the people that it was a new medicine. Those people felt better than the people that were told it was just saltwater. Not sure if this really shows that placebos help with heartbreak. It may just show that people getting saltwater sprayed up their nose for no reason at all stay upset longer.

 

How Do You Find and Maintain Your Friendships? – An online discussion of how to maintain friendships. The common theme seems pretty simple – do things together, preferably things that allow you to interact. I would also add that you shouldn’t spray saltwater up each other’s noses.

 

Parents Aren’t Good Judges of Food Allergies – In a Swedish study, only about 10% of the kids whose parents thought they had food allergies actually had food allergies.  Sounds shockingly bad, but don’t forget the article from a couple of weeks ago that 88% of the patients that get second opinions get a different opinion. It is starting to look like it is hard to know anything about someone’s health.

 

THE SURPRISING BENEFITS OF BEING (SLIGHTLY) CRAZY – This is a really long article extolling the virtues of being a bit insane.

 

Talking to Yourself Makes You Smarter, Not Crazy – Wait. I just learned that I’m supposed to be crazy. Sigh. I wonder what percentage of people that think they are crazy are crazy?

 

Strong language: swearing makes you stronger, psychologists confirm – Damn it! So those crazy people I see walking around talking to themselves and swearing continuously, they aren’t drugged up homeless people; they’re probably superheroes in disguise.

Sports

Fred Hoiberg: ISAIAH THOMAS Travels Every Time – I know almost nothing about basketball, but I thought that you had to keep bouncing the ball unless you were about to pass or shoot. Apparently not.

 

How Couch Potatoes Could Change the NBA – The theory here is that if more people drop cable, they’ll watch fewer full games and more sports highlights which will encourage more showboating, which will change the game. I’m not convinced, but then I still thought you had to keep bouncing the ball.

 

Stephens College is the first all-women’s school with an eSports team – It’s good to see these sorts of barriers coming down in the world of sports.

Art and Culture

Why Doesn’t Ancient Fiction Talk About Feelings? – I think it is because ancient people used to actually do more stuff. Now people do less and worry more about what everyone is thinking, so that’s what they write about.

 

Dartmouth Study Finds Democrats Are The Least Tolerant Students On Campus – I’m not surprised, but not because I think Democrats are less tolerant than conservatives. I think that Democrats are more the majority social group at Dartmouth and that people in majority groups probably tend to be less tolerant of people in minority groups than vice versa.

 

When Flamethrowers Like Ann Coulter Come to Campus – Brief essays by several students about controversial speakers coming to campuses. These aren’t encouraging reading to anyone that considers freedom of speech extremely important. A theme seems to be that freedom of speech shouldn’t be extended to people that only have bad things to say.

 

Gut Check : The Microbiome Game – “Gut Check is a downloadable game that allows you to give your friends botulism while you focus on developing a healthy microbiome.” Probably good to play once or twice, but it seems like you would get sick of it after a while.

 

How Some Cultures Live Without Numbers – “Numbers do not exist in all cultures.” My advice – don’t lend money to people in these cultures.

 

The Professor’s Bookshelf – If you are looking for something to read, this article has recommendations from a bunch of professors. To be safe, you should probably ignore any recommendation from any professor outside of their specialty. Or maybe you should just go to GoodReads instead. Or check out Literature-Map.

 

Ink In Motion – Very cool slow-motion, close-up visuals of ink being squirted in water. Why does everything look cooler in slow-motion?

 

’13 Reasons Why’ spreads suicide like a disease – Should a TV series be canceled for glorifying suicide? If so, what about shows the glorify violence? Sex outside of marriage? Excessive drinking? Wearing seductive dresses to chess matches?

 

Defying Gravity With Korea’s Premier Balance Artist – Don’t think balancing stuff is an art form? Check this out. I love this guy. He’s AMAZING! He probably swears to himself like crazy.

 

An Indian barber is using fire to cut people’s hair –This guy puts powder in people’s hair and burns it while running a comb through it as a way to trim their hair. I’m going to pass on this one.

 

A Season of Regret for an Aging Tribal Expert in India – A guy that got to know an extremely isolated tribe now regrets reducing their isolation because they have changed. But is that really a bad thing? Can they go back to living isolated if that is what they want? The fact that they endure poverty associating with the rest of the world may reveal that they prefer that to what they had before. Something to ponder.

Science

Field Test of GMO Algae Highlights Its Vast Potential, Researchers Say – Looks like algae is the new “plastics”. It appears that we are expecting great things from algae. I wonder if we could make artificially intelligent algae. Sounds like a good plot for a bad sci-fi movie.

 

The Crazy Eruptions That Spit Up Diamonds – This article is about how diamonds get made deep in the earth and only surface with these weird, super-deep eruptions.

 

Are These Birds Too Sexy to Survive? – This tells about a bird that sings with its wings. The authors conclude that in specializing in this display, it may actually be making itself less fit for long term species survival. Perhaps, but the chicks dig it.

Technology

Collin’s Lab: Pulse Room – I’m not sure why you would set up a room to flash and thump with your heartbeat, but if you want to do it, this video shows you how.

Politics and Policy

A More Moderate Diversity – This article describes two versions of diversity on campuses – Truth Diversity, which is diversity of viewpoints; and Social Justice Diversity, which is diversity of characteristics like race, gender, and ethnicity. The article argues for more of a blended approach.

 

Make measles great again – This article talks about the increase in measles do to the increase in vaccine waivers reducing the immunized percentage of the population. I can’t help but wonder if a better approach would be to have insurance not cover avoidable medical expenses people incur because they chose not to immunize. Maybe combine that with civil liability for damages to others they infect as well.

 

Sent to Prison by a Software Program’s Secret Algorithms – I had no idea that we have privately developed “black box” algorithms that influence sentencing and possibly even convictions. Seems like this would run afoul of the right to cross-examine.

 

Save Jobs, Address Automation – Good grief, it is yet another article on how we need to slow the pace of automation because it is going to cost jobs. Writing these articles is becoming a huge source of jobs by itself. Do these people want to become the new Amish? Are they willing to drop all the automation we have today – washing machines, vacuums, computers, elevators, etc to bring back the jobs those took?

 

‘Middle-Class Tax Relief’ Is a Hoax – This article says that it is harder and harder to sell tax cuts as middle class tax relief because barely half of adults pay a net federal income tax. If “the rich” are paying the taxes, then all tax cuts are tax cuts for “the rich”.

 

Who Should Pay to Cover Pre-Existing Conditions? – “Insurance” for people with pre-existing conditions isn’t “insurance” because these are known expenses. The question this article asks is, who should pay? The sick? Other people with health insurance? Taxpayers? Somebody else?

 

Will the Supreme Court Defend Citizenship? – This talks about a recent case in which someone was stripped of their citizenship because of a non-material lie told under oath years ago. It was interesting to see the questioning from the Justices. It seems likely to be overturned.

 

Trump and GOP, not campus radicals, pose the real threat to freedom – I’ve linked to a lot of articles on the campus speech imbroglio. Here’s a slightly different perspective. It essentially says to not worry about that because the big attacks on freedom are coming from the right. I see their point, but I see the attacks coming from both sides of the aisle. The notion that we have too darn much freedom seems to be bi-partisan.

 

Colorado’s Absurd War on Online Dog Walking Services – It is OK to smoke pot in Colorado, but you aren’t legally allowed to get paid to take care of your neighbor’s dog. Seriously.

 

When Character No Longer Counts – Remember all the complaints about Bill Clinton not being morally fit for the Presidency? It looks like some of the people complaining about that have changed their views on the importance of character for a President.

 

Economics

It’s a Wonderful Loaf – I hate to bury this down in the rarely read “economics” section because it is a delightful video. It shows the miracle of economic freedom in allocating resources using a loaf of bread as an example. Perhaps if the people that cheered Hugo Chavez had seen this and understood it, Venezuela wouldn’t be the hellhole that it is today.

 

Congressional Democrats’ $15 Minimum Wage Bill, Explained and Why a $15 Minimum Wage Is Good Economics – I’m not a fan of laws banning people from working if they can’t find someone willing to pay them $15 an hour. It seems cruel. Here are a couple of articles with a very different perspective. If you read them, notice that they both talk a lot about how much better off the people getting raises from the minimum wage will be, but they don’t talk as much about the people that can’t find work anymore.

 

Future Global Mineral Resources – This is a long paper on the topic of future minerals availability. It is very well thought out. If you got caught up in peak oil, the copper shortage, the rare-earth minerals shortage, or any of the other scares that have run rampant through the press, this is something you should read. Those scare articles are almost always written by people that get paid to scare you and know very little about what they are writing about.