May 14, 2017 – Stuff I Found Interesting


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.


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.


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.


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.