November 19, 2017 – Stuff I Found Interesting

Other

Brazil has nearly 60,000 murders — here’s a map to put that number in perspective – Wow. I didn’t realize that murder was so common in Brazil. The maps shows that there were more murders in Brazil in 2015 than in the US, Canada, all of Europe, Russia, China, Japan, Australia and many other countries combined.

Here’s How The Jeopardy! Dude’s Road Trip Around The World Could Work – Some guy that has been doing really well on Jeopardy is talking about driving around the world. This article maps out a rough itinerary. I hope he’s careful in Brazil.

Do civilisations collapse? – This article talks about Easter Island, the Mayans, and even ancient Greece. It argues that these civilizations declined rather than collapsed.

After Weinstein: A List of Men Accused of Sexual Misconduct and the Fallout for Each – It’s getting hard to keep track without a scorecard, so here’s one. The latest addition – Al Franken.

How, if You’re a Man, to Deal With the Fact That You’re Probably Trash – This guy basically says that everyone is complicit. It sounds more like this guy is a total jerk and wants to cover for that by saying that we’re all jerks.

Genetically Engineering the Natural World, it Turns Out, Could Be a Disaster – The Kiwis want to genetically engineer rats in a way that will kill off their rats. They aren’t native species, so some people presume that’s OK. There are concerns that the GMO rats could spread and kill rats in other countries, which would be a problem for reasons that aren’t clear to me. I want to know why we don’t try this with mosquitos. I’m willing to face up to whatever environmental harm is caused by the sudden extinction of all mosquitos.

From temptation to sextortion – This is a fascinating article on a multi-level Facebook scheme to lure people into sharing compromising videos of themselves with people they think are under-aged so that they can be blackmailed. It looks like a huge criminal enterprise, but if I was in law enforcement, I don’t think I’d put a high priority on stopping this.

What’s the Deepest Hole We Can Possibly Dig? – This is a nice little video showing how deep we’ve dug and how deep some natural holes are. We haven’t come close to digging to the center of the earth. In fact, we’ve barely scratched the surface. Just in case the article’s title mislead you, this is not about Roy Moore.

Health – Physical and Mental

Placebo Myths Debunked – I often hear about how “effective” placebos can be. This article does a good job of explaining the “placebo effect”.

What’s worse? Doctors who believe homeopathy or just use it for placebo effect – It seems like these doctors need to read the article above. Sadly, knowledge is often an ineffective cure for ignorance.

Harvard and Yale should stop playing football – The author isn’t saying that they should stop because they are bad at it (although that’s true), but because it’s now thought to be very harmful to the minds of the players. That’s kind of in conflict to the mission of a University. I’m curious to see how this plays out. I think there is a very good likelihood that we’ve seen peak football already.

Ex-NFL player confirmed as 1st case of CTE in living patient – We’re still a few years away from it, but it looks like good progress is being made on a method to diagnose CTE in living people. That may go a long way to either dampening fears about it or causing the virtual end of football as a major sport, depending on what we learn.

Art and Culture

These may be the world’s first images of dogs—and they’re wearing leashes – It appears that the leash is at least 9,000 years old. Somehow 9,000 years has not been long enough for dogs to learn not to walk in circles around the person holding the leash.

5 Things Taylor Swift Should Have Addressed on ‘Reputation’ but Didn’t – I found this amusing because the first of the “5 things” was calling Taylor Swift out for remaining apolitical in 2016 (which, if you recall, is the year we got to choose which of two horrible people would become President). I don’t know much about Ms. Swift, but I’m inclined to think more highly of any entertainer that doesn’t mix their political views with their entertainment.

Science

Dark-matter hunt fails to find the elusive particles – Maybe it’s just not there. Or maybe it is really, really hard to detect. I think they should rename it ninja matter.

Exploring the relationship between video game expertise and fluid intelligence – “We show that performance in the popular MOBA League of Legends’ correlates with fluid intelligence as measured under controlled laboratory conditions.” I wonder if Erik can get into a good college based on his LoL ranking.

Technology

I’ve got nothing in this section this week. Sorry.

Politics and Policy

Mind the Gap – This article talks about how land use policies drive up the cost of using real estate and cause some of it to unnecessarily drop from productive use.

The devious art of lying by telling the truth – They’ve coined a new word for it – “paltering”. I suppose you could try to ban this, but then politicians wouldn’t be able to say anything at all.

Dear Prudence Meets Due Process – This is an interesting interview with Emily Yoffe, an Atlantic author writing on campus sexual violence.

I’m a feminist. I study rape culture. And I don’t want Al Franken to resign. – My summary of her argument is this: He shouldn’t resign because he’s a Democrat and, even though his replacement will be re-appointed by another Democrat, it’ll set a precedent and then other Democrats might have to resign and be replaced by Republicans. Seriously. Maybe I’ve misread it, but it seems like the most pathetic “ends justify the means” argument I’ve read in a long time.

 

Economics, Business, and Money

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Does Not Protect Consumers, It Harms Them – This video explains that the CFPB is not under the control of either Congress or the President. The last thing we need is a government agency intentionally designed not to be accountable.

 

Tesla Approaches Terminal Decline – Tesla just announced a new roadster that may be the fastest production car ever made. They also announced a semi. They are struggling to keep up with demand. This article says that they are on track to completely fail financially.

November 12, 2017 – Stuff I Found Interesting

Other

Cool Iceland Crosswalk – It’s a crosswalk painted with an optical illusion. I’d love to see more stuff like this here.

How to Hire Fake Friends and Family – No, this is not about Facebook. It’s about a Japanese company that rents out actors to pretend to be family members or friends. It’s a really strange article and seems very Japanese. Highly recommended.

L.A. family disappears after pirate raid in Amazon rainforest, then re-emerges on a surfboard – This family – mother, father, two young daughters (none of whom appear to be rented) – decided to take a long family vacation together. In fact, they decided to drive down to South America (presumably taking a boat around the Darien Gap). The got kidnapped by pirates in the Amazon area and fled in the middle of the night, paddling across a river on their trusty surfboard.

You Can Rent a (Grounded) Private Jet Just to Take Instagram Photos In – Want to show off your private jetting ways to your friends but you don’t actually have a private jet? Why not rent one for a photo shoot?

Why you should give money directly and unconditionally to homeless people – I can’t say that I agree, but it is an interesting perspective.

The Three Students Who Uncovered ‘Dieselgate’ – Two guys from India and a third guy from Switzerland were studying at West Virginia University when they caught a German car company cheating on emissions tests. Their work cost Volkswagon tens of billions of dollars and may lead to saving many thousands of lives. It’s strange how the world works.

Health – Physical and Mental

Risks of a Gluten-Free Diet – Let’s just say it one more time. If you aren’t a celiac, going gluten-free isn’t doing yourself any favors. It’s like going peanut-free because some other people are allergic to them.

SHOULD EXERCISE BE WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERS FOR DEPRESSION? – This seems counterintuitive. If someone is already depressed, isn’t telling them that they need to exercise going to just make things worse? These people claim that regular exercise actually makes people less depressed. That seems like a stretch.

Cancer Doctors Cite Risks of Drinking Alcohol – “Heavy drinkers face much higher risks of mouth and throat cancer, cancer of the voice box, liver cancer and, to a lesser extent, colorectal cancers, the group cautions. Light drinking can slightly raise a woman’s risk of breast cancer and increase a common type of esophageal cancer.” They aren’t telling people not to drink. They’re just suggesting that people do it less. It should also be noted that some studies have shown that light drinking correlates with increased overall life expectancy.

Vegetarian Men Are More Depressed – Are Steaks A Treatment? – Isn’t the reason obvious? It’s not steak. It’s the lack of bacon. That would make anyone depressed or angry. Why do you think there are so many violent Islamic terrorists?

So That’s Why Some People Are Night Owls And Others Are Up At The Crack Of Dawn – This article claims that people have different sleep cycles so that someone in the tribe is always awake to be on guard.

Art and Culture

A Hard Day’s Night: Solving a Beatles mystery with mathematics – How did they create the opening cord of A Hard Day’s Night? This article claims to have solved the problem using math.

You Won’t Believe the Insane Detail In These Incredible Movie Maps – This guy creates huge maps showing all of the locations in a movie. The link is to an article about it. His site is http://www.andrewdegraff.com/moviemaps/, but it isn’t working this morning.

The Secret Jews of The Hobbit – According to this article, the Dwarves in Tolkien’s Middle Earth were inspired by Jews.

Prop Town: The Fake Rooftop Suburb that Hid a Whole WWII Airplane Factory – How do you hide a huge plane factory? You create a fake suburb on its roof.

Louis C.K. Is Accused by 5 Women of Sexual Misconduct – I’m shocked! Another male celebrity accused of sexual misconduct. It’s getting to be quite a list. I’m still baffled by how Woody Allen (married his step daughter) and Roman Polanksi (admitted to raping a child) are above all this. Is it something like the Clinton exception?

The History Of Breasts In Comic Books – I love studying history.

Science

A Zombie Gene Protects Elephants From Cancer – Bigger animals have more cells, so they should be more likely to get cancer. But that isn’t the case. This article tries to explain why.

Most scientists now reject the idea that the first Americans came by land – Thousands of years before the Clovis people wandered over here, people traveled along what the article calls the “kelp highway”, boating and hiking along the coasts. Maybe they should have built a wall.

See What’s Controlling These Zombie Ants – There is a fungus that turns ants into zombies, but it does it by controlling their bodies rather than their brains. How long before it makes the jump into humans? Be very afraid.

Science explains why highly intelligent people prefer to be alone – My guess is that it is the same reason why we prefer not to be around stupid people.

Technology

How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You’ve Ever Met – How is it that Facebook finds “People you may know”? According to this article, one of the main techniques is using the contact lists that people upload. So if someone you know uploads their contact list, FB can now associate your contact info with everyone else in their contact list – even if you’ve never been on Facebook. This can end up revealing relationships people would prefer not to have made public.

US Air Force Wants to Put Lasers on Fighter Jets By 2021 – I have a hard time seeing this work. Given the huge cost in weight for an effective system and given the short range, this seems like a fantasy.

Politics and Policy

How I Left the Liberal Bubble and Learned to Love the Right – Everyone should try to understand different viewpoints. The anger and polarization that seems so prevalent in politics today would be lessened if people did this. People generally aren’t evil. That’s not saying that you need to agree with everyone, but take time to try to understand their perspective.

Things that go bump in the night in Riyadh – Strange stuff is going on in Saudi Arabia. Multi-billionaires are being arrested and having their money taken. The prime minister of Lebanon traveled to Saudi Arabia and, while there, announced that he was stepping down. These are interesting times.

Is Saudi Arabia Pushing Israel Into War With Hezbollah and Iran? – Maybe they are trying to destabilize Lebanon (not that hard to do) in order to create more trouble for both Israel and Iran.

The Middle East Is Nearing an Explosion – I have no idea where this is all heading. I just hope that it drives up oil prices.

Dan Rather Laments That Americans Think the Media ‘Make Up Stories’ – I thought this was very amusing. Dan Rather telling people not to make things up is like Harvey Weinstein lecturing people on how to treat women with respect.

The State of Free Speech and Tolerance in America – This article is woven around a bunch of survey data on people’s views about freedom of speech. Support for free speech isn’t all that strong. Maybe we should ban criticism of the first amendment.

Some Conservatives Have Been Against Capitalism for Centuries – It’s not something new with Trump. The conservative movement has always had its share of big government, anti-capitalists.

Get Rid of Capitalism? Millennials Are Ready to Talk About It – It’s not just free speech that is declining in popularity. Despite the incredible historic success of capitalism and failure of state run economies, young people today increasingly want state run economies. Perhaps they realize that it is a stupid idea and they want to restrict free speech because they don’t want to have to defend their views on it.

NAFTA negotiators should respect domestic labor rules – Canada is complaining about having to compete with Right-To-Work states and wants NAFTA changed to strip workers of their right not to be unionized against their will. Oh, Canada.

Why I’m Uneasy With the #MeToo Movement – Interesting thoughts. I’m still baffled by why, in a gender-equality focused society, it is assumed that when a man and woman too drunk to consent have sexual relations, the man is presumed to be the aggressor and the woman is the victim.

Woman says Roy Moore initiated sexual encounter when she was 14, he was 32 – I find Roy Moore, who was removed from the bench as a judge for refusing to follow the law, disgusting enough without reading about how he liked to date children, but given all the references to the allegations of misbehavior of celebrities, I thought I would be remiss if I left this off today’s list.

Economics, Business, and Money

Republicans are right to limit mortgage deduction – Why have a huge tax break for the well off? Getting rid of the deduction and lowering rates makes sense.

This 28-year-old’s company makes millions buying from Walmart and selling on Amazon – This guy buys clearance stuff at Walmart and sells it on Amazon.

November 5, 2017 – Stuff I Found Interesting

Once again, I’m skimping on the commentary. It’s our final photoshoot weekend. I hope to be back to my usual annoying comments next week.

Other

Startup will train crows to pick up cigarette butts in return for peanuts – Very cool. I loved this.

 

Frank Stephens: “I Am A Man With Down Syndrome And My Life Is Worth Living”

 

Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona Sells For $17,752,500, Becoming The World’s Most Expensive Wristwatch Ever Sold

 

LIGHTS ON | LIGHTS OUT – A look at changes in light emissions by areas. Some are getting more electrified and lighting up. Other areas are making an effort to reduce “light pollution”.

 

Virginia is betting more people will turn to transit when I-66 tolling begins – We should use more congestion pricing in more places, but the politics of it looks hopeless.

 

Time to bury Che Guevara for good

 

THE ASTOUNDING ENGINEERING BEHIND THE WORLD’S LARGEST OPTICAL TELESCOPE

Health – Physical and Mental

Narcissism and Self-Esteem Are Very Different – I feel that I’ve mastered both of them.

 

The Fragile Generation – How not to raise a snowflake.

 

A Pill to Make Exercise Obsolete – They invented a pill that gives you most of the benefits of regular, strenuous exercise without having to do the work! The only significant downside is that it causes cancer at an alarmingly high rate. Now they’re working on pills that make you want to exercise instead of just giving you the effects of exercising. Disappointing.

 

The ‘drunken monkey’ argument: are we predisposed to alcohol addiction?

 

Companies claim marijuana makes cancer “commit suicide,” FDA loses it

 

Is He Really That into You? – Weird. Why do I get the feeling that creepy guys are going to read this looking for ways to hit on women?

Art and Culture

Muslim Vikings and Abuses of History – Remember that article about Muslim artifacts in a Viking grave? It appears to have been someone stretching to find what they wanted to find, at least according to this article.

 

Outrage after Kyrgyzstan reburies its only ancient mummy – Why is this in “Art and Culture”? It’s a weird article. I had no idea what to make of it.

 

BrandColors, Team Color Codes – Color codes for popular brands and sports teams. I found this stuff while researching face painting in Photoshop. Seems like these pages could be very useful.

Science

Are People More Disturbed by Dog or Human Suffering? – “We also found more empathy for victims who are human children, puppies, and fully-grown dogs than for victims who are adult humans.”

 

Postmodern Creationism in Academia: Why Evergreen Matters – I’m familiar with people that challenge the scientific consensus on evolution and the age for the earth because of their Biblical interpretations. This is the first I’ve heard of “Native Americans” also challenging that consensus because it can be seen as decreasing their claim on the Americas.

 

Why Dozens of Octopuses Marched Out of the Sea – Labor dispute? Protest? No. They think it was overcrowding and a lack of food. Is “marched” the right term here?

 

Climate Scientist Mark Jacobson Sues Journal For $10M Over Hurt Feelings – Sigh

 

Inseparable: Ten Years Joined At The Head – Fascinating! Two girls joined at the head actually share portions of their brains, senses, and motor control. Please read the story despite how bad the following joke is. From the article – “Though academically delayed, they are learning to read, write and do arithmetic.” Apparently two heads aren’t always better than one.

Technology

How Google’s Physical Keys Will Protect Your Password – Yuck. Passwords are annoying enough. Now we’re moving back to a world with physical keys?

 

Familiar-Looking Numbers Are The Latest Twist In Robocalls – I’m generally not a fan of the death penalty, but I might be willing to make an exception for robocallers.

 

Microsoft Engineer Installs Google Chrome During Presentation After Edge Freezes

Politics and Policy

Sexually active students must be reported to law enforcement or state officials, Oregon school district says – I remember when people laughed at conservatives for teaching “abstinence”. They laughed because they knew that it would have almost no impact on young people’s sexual behavior. It appears that the left is now getting into the game. “According to Oregon law, anyone under 18 years old cannot legally give consent, meaning all sexual activity between minors is considered sexual abuse.” Interestingly, the minimum age for marrying in Oregon is 17.

 

From chaperones to modesty wear, a sexual reformation is underway

 

Fix this democracy — now – I disagree when most of these, but it is an interesting list of ideas to improve our country. Some are horrible – require everyone to vote, teach identity 101 in high school, and outlaw private education; but some aren’t so bad – befriend a libertarian, allow garage unit rentals, and switch to instant run-off elections. It’s a collection of short essays.

 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren says 2016 Democratic primary was rigged – It appears that the “Democratic” party wasn’t. Maybe democracy does need to be fixed.

 

Donna Brazile and the Latest Great Hillary Scandal – Here’s a counterpoint. It was hard to find one.

 

Bringing Back the Draft Won’t Stop Unnecessary Wars – One of the smartest policy changes we made last century was to end conscription. Do people seriously want the draft again?

 

Progressives Are Now Arguing that the First Amendment Is Profoundly Limited on College Campuses – It’s strange how things change.

 

Professors like me can’t stay silent about this extremist moment on campuses

 

Why I’ve Started to Fear My Fellow Social Justice Activists

 

Get On the Bus or Get Under It: Shouting Down Free Speech at Rutgers

 

Harvard Returns to Its Puritan Roots

 

Philosophy Professor Tells Bisexual Student Who Criticized Islam ‘We’re Not Going to Let You Damage the Program’ – How does someone get to be the dean of a philosophy department while thinking like this? This was a UTSA.

 

University cancels play accused of criticizing Black Lives Matter – Ironically, the play was about political correctness run amuck at colleges making it hard for people to express unpopular opinions.

 

Forget Washington. Facebook’s Problems Abroad Are Far More Disturbing. – There seems to be a growing consensus that Facebook (and Google) need to start addressing the political implications of the content they serve. I still disagree.

 

Would You Blame the Phone for Russian Interference?

 

Why Feminists Must Understand Evolution

 

Prostitution Reduces Rape – Interesting blog post with some interesting (and some insane) counter-arguments in the comments.

 

A Broke, and Broken, Flood Insurance Program

Economics, Business, and Money

The World’s Poorest People Are Getting Richer Faster than Anyone Else – It doesn’t get much press, but the last few decades have seen some of the greatest improvements in the wellbeing of the world’s poorest people.

 

Stuck! The Law and Economics of Residential Stagnation – At a time when families are getting smaller, travel costs lower, and communications better, I would have expected more people to be willing to move to find work. I guess I would have been wrong.

 

Labor Market Equilibration: Evidence from Uber – The supply of driver hours is very elastic, so you cannot easily increase driver pay by having Uber raise rates. If you did, it would just draw in more driver hours, which would compete the price back down.

 

Import duties are taxes imposed on, and paid for, by Americans, not foreign producers

 

DNAinfo and Gothamist Are Shut Down After Vote to Unionize – Here’s a little friendly advice. If you work for a company owned by someone that hates unions and the company has been losing money ever since it was started, forming a union might not be the best idea.

 

Who Pays for Free College? Crowding Out on Campus

 

Why Movie-Ticket Surge Pricing Is a Bad Idea

 

We Can’t Reduce Housing Costs by Wishing for Rent Control – This should be really simple for people to understand. If you propose something to lower housing costs, the proposal needs to either increase the supply of housing or reduce the demand for it. Rent control does the opposite, so it will inevitably lead to some combination of higher housing prices or shortages. It’s just that simple. It all comes down to supply and demand.

 

Yellen Retrospective – By objective measures, she appears to have been one of the most successful FED chairs in history.

 

Bubble Investing: Learning from History