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.