August 13, 2017 – Stuff I Found Interesting


Unpaid internships damage long-term graduate pay prospects – I doubt that it is the unpaid internship that causes the problem. My bet is that not being able to find paid work leads people to take unpaid internships. They may help, but the people that take them are likely not going to be as well off as those that got paid offers. It’s a bit like saying that crutches damage people’s mobility by comparing the mobility of people using crutches with those that don’t use them.


How Checkers Was Solved – Marion Tinsley dominated checkers possibly more than anyone has ever dominated a competitive activity. This article is about his battle with a computer program and how the programmer eventually went on to work out every possible move in checkers.


The Food Lab: How to Organize Your Refrigerator for Better Food Storage – I had no idea people put so much thought into where to put things in the fridge. I just look for an open spot.


Walkway barrier planned to ensure Supreme Court’s independence – I didn’t actually read through this whole article. I just thought the picture was really funny. For just a second, I thought it was the US Supreme Court dressed up as Santa’s for Christmas, but it’s the Canadian Supreme Court and apparently their business attire is a Santa suit. No beards though. Maybe they save those for court sessions.


Texts on a Plane About Child Molestation Lead to Two Arrests – A teacher on a plane reads someone’s texts, realizes that he’s a child molester, and has him arrested. Overall, that’s a good thing, but…who reads stranger’s texts? Who openly texts about molesting children while surrounded by other people? Weird.


How Airlines Schedule Flights – I thought this would be fairly dull, but it was actually quite interesting. There are two main ways that airlines schedule flights. Low cost airlines try to maximize plane and employee utilization. High cost airlines try to minimize layovers. Those goals impact how they schedule flights.


Victoria Skye’s Unbelievable Optical Illusion – Whoa! My brain is totally tricked by this and it bothers me. But it is cool. But still frustrating.


Why Some Schools Are Ditching Homework – Kids get way too much homework, but getting rid of homework isn’t the right answer either. Make it meaningful and not busywork. For math, make it enough to practice and help the student determine whether they have mastery. For reading, give students books to read and an occasional paper to write. Throw in a few other things like science fair and you’re good. All the rest should be optional stuff to help students make sure they understand the material before tests. That’s my totally lacking in expertise opinion.


America’s most expensive home hits the market in Bel-Air at $350 million – The Beverly Hillbillies house is for sale. Seriously. But why do they list it as having a swimming pool instead of a cement pond?!?


What Data-Mining TV’s Political Coverage Tells Us – This is an analysis of how news coverage shapes elections. The best part is the reference to this site that you can use to do your own analysis. You put in a word of phrase and it shows you how often it got mentioned by various different news sources. Loads of fun.


Meet a Real-Life Lara Croft: Kimi Werner, Freediver and Spearfisher – OK, word analysis of news sources isn’t exciting to you? Try this article on a lady that does all sorts of adventure sports – often in a bikini.

Health – Physical and Mental

A race is underway to repair our hearing — with medicine – I sure hope it works. Hearing loss is one of the things I’m really not looking forward to about getting older. Then again, I can see not being able to hear would be very useful in some circumstances.


Crying – The author tracked her crying and did analysis on the data. I love the weird juxtaposition of an extreme emotional response (crying) with cold, hard-headed analytics.


12 Clever Ways To Motivate Yourself To Wake Up For The Gym – Set two alarms? Eat some citrus? Turn your lights on right away? Seems complicated. I prefer a simple approach – don’t be pathetic; just wake up and get it done. It’s not really that hard.


This App Works Like Tinder, Except It’s for Making Platonic Friends – Is this the future? Online friending apps? It seems odd, but I can’t think of why it wouldn’t work. I suspect that many people could use more friends.


We Evolved to Run—But We’re Doing It All Wrong – The author says that we should run slowly, which seems to be my only option. My favorite quote: “The treadmill was invented in the early 19th century, when penal philosophers were trying to work out a punishment that was just short of the death penalty.”

A DIY Pharmaceutical Revolution Is Coming—If It Doesn’t Kill Us First – I should have seen this coming. With all the expensive restrictions on drugs put in place by the FDA, it was only a matter of time before someone started working on kits allowing people to make their own drugs. The future is going to be very interesting.


Put a Glow Stick in Your Kid’s Nighttime Barf Bucket – All sorts of useful information on setting up a good barf bucket for your kids. I hate to think of what inspired the author to research and write this article.


Are you a medieval sleeper? Why it’s time to put the eight-hour night to bed – According to this article, some people are wired to wake up for an hour or two as a break between periods of sleep. I don’t think it is natural. I think that it is a habit picked up by people that have a gap between regularly scheduled meetings at work.


Oliver Sacks on How Our Hobbies Can Kill Us – Not really. It’s about an obsessive weightlifter showing how obsessions can be harmful.


Why Do Rich People Love Endurance Sports? – Why does anybody like endurance sports? I think it is a form of mental illness.


This is what happens to your body when you stop having sex. No. 3 makes me really scared. – OK, not all endurance sports are bad.


Nine lifestyle changes can reduce dementia risk, study says – I don’t know how important these really are, but it seems like you’d be crazy not to do some of them.


Please Do Not Ever Rest Your Feet On The Dashboard Please – Ouch! I guess resting any part of your body on an explosive device has its risks.

Art and Culture

What I Hear When You Tell Me Your Company Doesn’t Do Meetings – I frequently make fun of meetings, but I don’t think I’d work at a company that didn’t do meetings at all. Well, maybe if it was a sole proprietorship.


Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? – According to this article, yes. Reminds me of a quote attributed to Socrates: “The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”


I’m A Woman, Shake My Hand, Damn It – Written by a woman bitter about the fact that people hug women but shake men’s hands. Personally, I’d prefer that we go with the bowing approach.


Photographer Proves End of Privacy Is Here Through Photos That Will Blow Your Mind – Guy takes pictures of strangers on mass transit. Then he searches for matching pictures to identify people and gets hits in a high percentage of cases. Interesting. Kind of scary.


Having Work Friends Can Be Tricky, but It’s Worth It – “Only 19% of the people surveyed had a significant relationship with a workmate.” I guess it depends on how you define “significant relationship”, but the implication of the article is that fewer than one person in five is friends with any of their coworkers. That seems a little hard to believe.


Ultimate Epic Battle Simulator: 300 Jedi vs. 60,000 Medieval Soldiers – This is genius. Someone wrote a simulator that lets you test how well different combatants would do against each other. You can pit Roman Legions and against WWII infantry, or T-Rexes against Chuck Norris. Finally, computers are being put to good use.


Why Funny, Falling, Soccer-Playing Robots Matter – Robots are playing soccer. They are comically bad at it…for now.


Man used DDoS to try and get Fairfax Media, others to remove articles – The stupid is strong with this one. This guy is now famous for attacking media sites to get them to remove stories about his criminal history.


The Most Important Invention You Never Thought About – The container ship. It helped shrink the world and make you much richer.


COMPANION ROBOTS ARE HERE. JUST DON’T FALL IN LOVE WITH THEM – These aren’t the creepy sex robots of some future Westworld. These are little androgynous helper bots that you can buy today. They seem cool, but not very useful.


You Don’t Need Desktop Apps Anymore – This guy is basically saying that you should just use web based apps except for maybe stuff like Photoshop. Here’s my list of some of my regularly used desktop apps at home – KeePass, TrueCrypt, Quicken, the Adobe Suite (Photoshop, Lightroom, Premiere, Acrobat), Handbrake, the Arduino IDE, Office (Excel, Word), UltraEdit, Simplify 3D, OneNote, and Inkscape. I’m still a long way from not using desktop apps.


Robots Are Ruining Your Driving Skills – The author contends that driving aids like lane detection and automatic braking are ruining people’s driving skills. In a way, he’s right, but the same can be said about things like power steering, anti-lock brakes, automatic transmissions, and automatic chokes. My favorite part is the chart showing what people would do while riding in self-driving cars. In order, they are:

  • Make calls – More than they already do?
  • Eat – Again, more than they already do?
  • Text/Email – Sadly, I have to ask again – more than they already do?
  • Read – Finally, something people don’t already do much of.
  • Watch TV – Because people don’t get enough TV today.
  • Sleep – This makes sense, especially if you have one of those medieval sleep patterns.
  • Groom – It just seems funny that people would do this in a public space.
  • Meditate – It seems even funnier to think of people trying to meditate in traffic. Will self-driving cars curse out other drivers for us while we go to our Zen place?
  • Romance – I’m guessing that this is a euphemism.
  • Drink Alcohol – I actually see this as one of the best things about self-driving cars; not the ability for me to drink, rather I like the idea of getting drunks out from behind the wheel.
  • Exercise – Huh? What exercise can you actually do in a car? Or is this another euphemism for “Romance”?

Politics and Policy

When Should a Child Be Taken from His Parents? – That’s a tough question. I wish that the answer was never, but there are abusive and dangerously neglectful parents. This article takes you through some difficult examples and describes the process.


A Right-Left Fusion Agenda on Zoning & Occupational Licensing – It looks like we may be seeing the start of a bi-partisan consensus that we need to relax zoning and occupational licensing restrictions. Sounds too good to be true.


Justice Dept. to Take On Affirmative Action in College Admissions – Looks like affirmative action is going to be under more legal assault. My guess is that white people thinking that this will help them will be disappointed. It will probably hurt Blacks and Hispanics, but my guess is Asians will be the big beneficiaries rather than Whites because they are the ones most hurt by racially discriminating admissions policies.


How Fast Food Chains Supersized Inequality – According to this article, poor people are effectively forced to eat unhealthy fast food because big corporations used the government to make it so. This is a great example of the contention from The Three Blind Spots of Politics saying that “Liberals see the world as a battle between victims and oppressors.”


Some Kenyans, keen to vote, rent babies to jump long queues – You can rent babies in Kenya to skip to the head of the voting lines. Does that sound like a crazy third-world sort of thing? Disney had to change its policy on handicap access because people were renting the disabled to skip lines.

Diversity and Affirmative Action

An internal memo criticizing Google for stifling internal debate on affirmative action and criticizing the policy leaked out this week. The author was summarily fired. I’ll list several viewpoints on the memo. A few of my points:

  • I’m disappointed by the Google VP of Diversity’s response. If someone accuses you of stifling debate on a topic, ending your response (which lacked any sort of rebuttal) with the phrase “‘Nuff said” seems to play directly into their hands.
  • Is this firing a modern form of McCarthyism? With McCarthyism, the people afraid of dissent stripped people of their jobs for advocating a political system that lead directly to the deaths of over 100,000,000 last century and impoverished more than a billion others. In this case, they demanded the dismissal of a guy because he said that men are disproportionally more interested in and better at some technical jobs than women on average. Both are overreactions, but this one seems a bit farcical.


Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber – This is the memo that started the whole discussion.


Everything White People Think About Affirmative Action Is Wrong – A black writer explaining why white people have a misguided view of affirmative action.


A Melbourne cafe is charging an 18 percent ‘man tax’ – I’m a bit surprised that it is legal. Are we at a place now where we can let people sell to who they want to sell to and buy from who they want to buy from?


The Uncomfortable Truth About Affirmative Action and Asian-Americans – An interesting article about affirmative action written by an Asian law professor at Harvard.


Why the Conservative Response to the Google Memo Is Hypocritical – This is an inane article that does more to show how intolerant the writer is than it does to make his point. “Arguments that cite innate biological differences between the minds of men and women are incorrect, and they’re not an acceptable part of a public discourse about gender.” I’m not an expert in this area, but everything I’ve seen says that this is still a very open question in science and anyone that says that it is not an acceptable part of a public discourse is clearly trying to stifle academic freedom.


Is it just my imagination… – A blog post from one of my favorite economics bloggers on the Google Memo situation.


Differences between Men and Women are Vastly Exaggerated – An article by a social scientist downplaying the differences between men and women and CONTRA GRANT ON EXAGGERATED DIFFERENCES is an excellent criticism of that article.


Should We “Stop Equating ‘Science’ With Truth”? – Written by a female professor of evolutionary biology, the article basically says that even if women are disproportionally less interested in some tech jobs, firms should still discriminate in their favor for good reasons.


Outraged By the Google Diversity Memo? I Want You to Think About It – The viewpoint of a female, German physicist that worked in both the US and Canada.

Special Note

Sometimes when I go to read an article, the site won’t let me because I’ve read too many free articles already. At that point, you have three options – don’t read it, pay for it, or go into private/incognito mode. When you are in private mode, the site doesn’t know whether or not you’ve been there, so it can’t tell how many articles you’ve read.