November 19, 2017 – Stuff I Found Interesting


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.


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.


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.