April 2, 2017 – Stuff I Found Interesting

Other

Amazon’s Ambitions Unboxed: Stores for Furniture, Appliances and More – I love all the retail innovation that is occurring. Sounds like Bezos is working on some interesting ideas.

 

This Evil Alarm Clock App Is the Only Reason I’m Awake Right Now – I have a hard time understanding people’s aversion to getting up in the morning. If you don’t want to get up but need to, this sounds like an evil way to force yourself to do it. I say that, but one of my children is sound asleep with his phone alarm going off right next to him.

 

Doomsday Prep For Non-Paranoid People – Her list isn’t my list, but the concept is good, especially now that we’re in severe storm season (runs from roughly January to December in the Houston area). Are you ready?

Health – Physical and Mental

Why Opposites Rarely Attract – Short answer: because we want people that are complimentary rather than opposite.

 

“Couple Workouts” Are the Answer to Exercising with Your Partner – Sadly, this is a safe-for-work article; not at all what hoping for when I saw the headline.

 

Fellow Dirt Bags: Turns Out It’s Okay If You Don’t Wash Your Legs – I didn’t realize that this was a contentious topic of debate. Are you a leg washer or not? I don’t want to know.

 

LIFE IS A VIDEO GAME—HERE ARE THE CHEAT CODES – This article is mediocre (and the language is ugly), but I like his view that you approach problems either with solutions or distractions – tackling your problems or avoiding them. I think that is a good perspective, for the most part. One exception I’d like to note is that for problems that are someone else’s but still worry you, distraction might be a better approach for you than trying to find a solution.

 

Why You Should Do Weights Before Cardio – Short answer, because your muscles can still get the cardio done when they are tired. I just do them at different times of the day and call it good enough.

Art and Culture

Actually, Not Everything Is a Feminist Issue – I don’t know if this article is incoherent or just written by someone with a perspective so different than mine that I can’t follow her logic. Here’s a quote from the article that illustrates my point: “What about poverty, racism, war, the environment, anti-democratic regimes, the occupation of one country by another, capitalism?”

 

No More Wedding Gifts – This is a complaint about the increasing cost and decreasing purpose of wedding gifts. I’d apply the logic more broadly to weddings in general. I think the cost of a wedding gift should be inversely related to the number of guests and the cost of the wedding.

 

You Can Now Beg for Money on Facebook – Facebook wants some of the GoFundMe action. Given that half of Americans can’t get their hands on $2,000 in an emergency, I’m sure that there is a lot of demand for this.

 

How Clown Pants Saved My Life – This was just weird. The author’s relationship to clothes is so different than mine that I felt like I was reading about someone from a radically different culture. On a positive note, if pant hems are getting really high, there is a chance that I’ll someday be able to find pants that aren’t too long to be worn without altering.

Science

Running a Marathon Is as Traumatic for Your Kidneys as Heart Surgery – Maybe runners should take more bathroom breaks.

 

Brain size in birds is related to traffic accidents – Big brain birds get hit by cars less often. They also mention in an aside that the same is true of birds being shot. Maybe hunters are inadvertently breeding a species of super-smart birds. We’re all worried about AI taking over the world, but that could all be part of the bird’s master plan.

 

Cars and second order consequences – This is a very interesting article that tries to think forward to the second order consequences of electric cars and self-driving cars.

Technology

AD AGENCIES AND ACCOUNTABILITY – An interesting article on shifts in the advertising market as they rely on providers that don’t control the content. When you advertise on a TV show, you have a good idea of what your ad is tied to. When you advertise on Facebook or Youtube, you have very little control over what insane ravings you may be sponsoring.

 

Verizon phones will soon get the useless ‘AppFlash’ search tool in an upcoming rollout – This behavior is one of the reasons why we dropped Verizon.

 

Rogue system admin shuts down servers and deletes core files on the day he is fired, now faces up to 10 years in prison – Wow! Talk about burning bridges.

 

Bomb Squad Academy – Learn about circuits playing a video game. Not sure why there isn’t more partnership between the education industry and the gaming world.

Politics and Policy

Why You Should Care About The Supreme Court Case On Toner Cartridges – Owning things isn’t what it used to be. Much of what you think you own, you “license” and you are restricted on what you can do with it. This case might impact your rights significantly.

 

You Could Be Committing a Crime and Not Even Know It – It’s a complex world with lots of complex rules. Still, it doesn’t seem right to punish someone for something that they don’t know is wrong. I guess this is why we have juries.

 

Facial recognition database used by FBI is out of control, House committee hears – Should the FBI be able to track your movements through public places without any suspicion or warrant? Do you want the FBI to have that power? What about Disney? (How I Let Disney Track My Every Move)

 

A VPN can protect your online privacy. But there’s a catch – The Internet is afire with the horrifying news that your ISP can sell your browsing history. The weirdest thing to me about the reaction is that they have virtually always been able to do that. There was a recent regulation that was going to prevent it and that regulation was just rescinded. That’s the big scary news. Even if the reg were in place, it wouldn’t stop your browser provider, your OS provider, or your hardware provider from doing the exact same thing.

 

2 Activists Who Secretly Recorded Planned Parenthood Face New Felony Charges – Set aside your feelings about planned parenthood and ask yourself again what you think of this. I find it troubling.

 

Trump cuts show Paris treaty is a paper tiger: Bjorn Lomborg – I love Lomborg’s approach. Maybe that’s because he annoys both sides of true believers in the climate science debate.

 

Economics

Evidence That Robots Are Winning the Race for American Jobs – This is yet another article on how machines are going to take all of our jobs. I presume that similar articles were written about the printing press, the loom, the tractor, the computer, etc. I wonder what the Amish think of all this.

 

One Christian’s alternative view of globalization and American society – An excellent defense of globalization. My favorite paragraph: “First, globalization is not a top-down system imposed by elites. Globalization is what happens when people around the world are left free by their governments to do business with one another. It’s what Adam Smith called “the natural system of liberty.”

 

 

March 26, 2017 – Stuff I Found Interesting

Other

Journaling Showdown: Writing Vs. Typing – I do both. I’m much, much faster typing, but I do enjoy writing and it is more portable.

The scents in your body wash, chicken stock and canned drink all come from one company – I had no idea this company even existed. I think I was happier before I did.

Catnip Ain’t the Only Plant That’ll Send Your Kitty to Blissville – If you are looking for recreational drugs for your cat, this article has some good tips.

Europe’s first sex robot brothel FORCED OUT of base as prostitutes complain of competition – NSFW. This was easily the weirdest thing I read all week. You can get a sense for the article with this quote from a prostitute: “It is another strategy of the patriarchy that presents us as objects without rights or soul. A privilege of the wealthy classes.”

Sherwin-Williams “Safari” – Yes, it is a paint commercial. But it is lovely.

Health – Physical and Mental

Is the dark really making me sad? – I get anxious when it is cloudy all week. I can’t imagine living somewhere where it is night for a long period of time.

Bruce Lee achieved all his life goals by his death at age 32 because of one personality trait – Confidence. Well, I’m not buying it. I know some really confident people that fail spectacularly. Life isn’t that simple. You need drive, ability, perseverance, etc to really be successful. You could say that I’m confident that this is BS.

Gwyneth Paltrow Wants You to Buy a $90 Cure For a Disease You Don’t Have – But she plays some smart characters, so maybe I should listen to her.

How Rock Climbing Is Helping Me Get Over My Fear of Failure – Makes me want to go hit a rock climbing gym. Anyone interested in joining me?

This is the exact time you should go to sleep if you need to wake up at 7am feeling refreshed – This is the dumbest article I read all week. Starting with the premise that you want to wake up between sleep cycles and then calculating that people take an average of 14 minutes to fall asleep and sleep cycles last an average of 90 minutes, they give you the exact minute you should get into bed. I still think a much better approach is to sleep until you wake up in the morning. If you sleep too late, go to be earlier. It worked for millions of years. Not sure why people don’t do it now. Don’t just reject the idea out of hand. Sleep on it.

Today’s men are not nearly as strong as their dads were, researchers say – This is probably true, but the research seems weak.

Art and Culture

French court bans television ad showing happy kids with Down syndrome – Sometimes other countries seem really strange. Did they really ban an innocuous commercial that made Down syndrome kids look happy because it might hurt the feelings of mother’s who had abortions? That seems hard to believe, even for the French.

FOR A MODEST PERSONALITY TRAIT, ‘INTELLECTUAL HUMILITY’ PACKS A PUNCH! – I find people that can’t listen or consider alternate views dull. I did think it was ironic that they article’s headline is in all caps. I also don’t think that making snarky comments about Gwyneth Paltrow is a sign of low intellectual humility. It’s just common sense.

Basing Life on What You Can Afford – A collection of anecdotes from people struggling financially. These are lower income people, but I see the same thing play out at all income levels. People have a tendency to live on the edge financially and then disruptions become catastrophes.

The idea of monogamy as a relationship ideal is based on flawed science – On one hand, I’d argue that given the near universality of monogamy as the standard for relationships, it seems like it must be the most successful approach. On the other hand, different standards have been common at different times. Maybe the times are changing. I’ll ask my wife what she thinks.

The Hamilton Hustle – I’m filing this one under “maybe I’m not going crazy”. With the popularity of Hamilton, I keep hearing people with a very different ideological outlook from Al talking as though they love him. Now it makes more sense.

Science

Physicists Find That as Clocks Get More Precise, Time Gets More Fuzzy – It’s interesting how different the universe is when you radically change scale. It’s a bit like zooming in too close to a picture and seeing little colored dots. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

A New Blast May Have Forged Cosmic Gold – A summary of the current debate over where gold came from. I’m still not sure, but I don’t think I’ll ask Gwyneth Paltrow to weigh in on the debate.

Technology

Insect-Inspired Mechanical Resilience for Multicopters – A squishy drone.

Fury Road: Did Uber Steal the Driverless Future From Google? – An interesting look behind the scenes at the development of driverless cars.

How to Get the Most Out of Google Maps – A lot of useful information here. I use the heck out of Google Maps, especially when I travel.

How to Stop Destroying Your Clothes in the Wash – My washer and driver may as well only have a “Start” button because I never change any settings. Maybe I should pay more attention.

TRAPPING A SELF-DRIVING CAR IS SURPRISINGLY EASY – This is pretty amusing, but it is also a good warning. People will jack with self-driving cars.

Politics and Policy

Patents Are A Big Part Of Why We Can’t Own Nice Things: the Supreme Court Should Fix That – We definitely need to rethink some of the laws in the IP space. An incidentally, when I click on a “Buy Now” button, I feel that I am buying something, not just licensing it.

Should You Need a License to Work in Texas? – People often mistakenly believe that Texas is a free market state. Maybe compared with some, but it generally tends to be a pro-business state. It looks like it is also a pro-occupational lobbyist state. I’d like to see all new licensing requirements get put on the ballot. I’d like to think that people wouldn’t vote to require all sprinkler systems testers be licensed. Then again, I’ve seen some of the people that they have elected so maybe this isn’t a good idea.

Warfare helps explain why American welfare is different – An interesting attempt to explain the lack of national healthcare or health insurance based on warfare history.

Economics

Venezuela has a bread shortage. The government has decided bakers are the problem. – I can’t believe those greedy bakers!

Robotization Without Taxation? – Robert Shiller is a brilliant economist, so when he writes something that seems idiotic, I have to take notice and re-read it carefully. I did and it still seems idiotic. Then again, he’s a much better economist that I’ll ever be, so I can’t be sure who the idiot is here. I’m still betting on him. Maybe it’s my lack of intellectual humility. I should check with Gwyneth Paltrow or some other celebrity to get a more informed perspective.

March 19, 2017 – Stuff I Found Interesting

Other

Top 15 Most Dangerous Toys Ever Made – How many did you play with? I think I used 5 and survived. The list if flaky, though. No lawn darts? No Buckyballs? No easy bake oven?

How Maritime Law Works – A short video explaining maritime law, because I’m sure you’ve been wondering about it.

Rare White Rhino Killed for Coveted Horn at French Zoo – Seriously? What is the appropriate punishment for this crime. I think castration and then a lifetime of being exhibited in a zoo seems about right.

The Popular Car Models Owners are Most Likely Give Up After a Year – What cars do people not keep for more than a year?

Jimmy Buffett Launching Margaritaville Retirement Homes – I can’t really add anything more to this than you can get from the title alone.

Communism’s Legacy: Tyranny, Terror, and Torture – In case you need a refresher in just how evil communism has been, this is a pretty good article.

You Can Make Your Own Taco Shells Entirely Out of Bacon – I wonder if you can make a pizza crust out of bacon.

Why Aren’t There More Jewish Superheroes? – This is not a question I ever thought to ask. Now I’m curious as to whether there are any Buddhist superheroes.

20,000 Worldclass University Lectures Made Illegal, So We Irrevocably Mirrored Them – This is an interesting topic of discussion. The American’s with Disabilities Act appears to require that UC Berkeley make its video lectures accessible to blind and deaf students. This is expensive, so they opted to delete a bunch of them instead. Should we not let anyone have access to them if we can’t let everyone have access to them? If we make it OK in this case, do we discourage people from making things available to blind and deaf people in the future?

‘This is wizard!’ 100-year-old woman who flew spitfires during the Second World War celebrates her centenary by getting behind the controls again – Love it!

Health – Physical and Mental

Moral Outrage Is Self-Serving, Say Psychologists – This seems reasonable to me, which probably just means that it shows more confirmation bias than truth.

Declines in Sexual Frequency among American Adults, 1989–2014 – Are people too busy to get busy? The surprising thing to me was what they didn’t conclude – that the decline is linked to Internet porn.

Sociodemographic Correlates of Sexlessness Among American Adults and Associations with Self-Reported Happiness Levels: Evidence from the U.S. General Social Survey. – People not having sex are just as happy as those that are. I guess maybe that’s why it is in decline. I have to wonder about this result. Maybe people aren’t doing it right.

50 Ways Happier, Healthier, And More Successful People Live On Their Own Terms – A collection of ideas for making you happier. Some are good. Some are stupid. Some are vapid. It’s typical of this genre. Oddly, nothing in the list about having or not having sex. Oh wait, there is a suggestion that you take cold showers to make you happier. I’m putting that one in the stupid bucket.

How to Buy Happiness – Short answer – go to a bar or a bookstore depending on whether you are an extrovert or an introvert. Based on the study above, it looks like buying sex isn’t the answer. Besides, that’s illegal (see below).

Why You Should Scare the Crap Out of Yourself for Fun – I suggest watching Fox News and think about the fact that it is the most popular news program. Just be careful not to overdo it.

Why Do Prestigious Hospitals Sell Snake Oil? – Obvious answer – because that’s where the money is.

A History of Tug-of-War Fatalities – What the heck? I had no idea that people got maimed and killed playing tug-of-war.

Long-lasting mental health isn’t normal – It says that people that aren’t at least occasionally crazy are weirdos.

Why you think you’re right, even when you’re wrong – It seems to me that the more I know, the less confident I am that I’m right.

Art and Culture

Stop the Soft Despotism Stifling Campus Free Speech –When someone is saying something ridiculous or hateful, the obvious thing to do is to point out the flaws in their argument. You only fall back on suppressing them when you are worried that their argument is stronger.

The Kids Are Right – I thought it would be hard to find, but here is someone defending “stamping out bigoted speech.” As much as I disagree with the author, I’ll resist calling for suppression of their bigoted views.

Debate Rages Over How ‘Attractive’ Female Video Game Characters Should Be – Too sexy. Too ugly. You can’t please everyone. Maybe “attractiveness” should be an adjustable setting.

Difficult languages and easy languages – An informal comparison of which languages are hardest and easiest to learn. I have to assume that English is the easiest because I’ve seen little kids that are fluent in it and some of them weren’t all that bright.

The hazards of English spelling – An attempt to claim that English spelling makes sense.

Your Hot New Partner Might Already Have One Foot Out the Door – I’ve gone about 25 years with my hot partner and I’ve still got her locked down under contract, but it does give you something to think about. Reminds me of the song “If you wanna be happy”.

Why you should marry a cheapskate – So it’s looking like you want to marry a cheap, ugly person. Don’t laugh; it worked for Kathy.

The comforts of familiarity – A review of Tyler Cowen’s new book, The Complacent Class. It’s an interesting book, but I’m much more complacent about the problem than the author.

Interactive Rainbow Installation Invites Visitors to Explore a Forest of Numbers – I don’t “get it”, but it looks cool.

The Increasing Significance of the Decline of Men – Men are being badly beaten in the competition for which gender is the most abused, but it is good to see that some are still out there fighting for victimhood status.

Science

These elephants sleep only 2 hours a day, and scientists have no clue how they do it – Seems obvious to me; elephants don’t have to sit through meetings.

Infinity and beyond – A nice explanation of the difference between different types of infinities. I still prefer Vi Hart’s video on the topic.

De-extinction probably isn’t worth it – I don’t entirely agree. I would say that it isn’t worth it yet.

Technology

Amazon shares data with Arkansas prosecutor in murder case – Conclusion – if you are about to be murdered, shout “Alexa – I’m being murdered by Colonel Mustard with a lead pipe in the conservatory.” Sigh, too bad Peter Falk is gone. This would make for a fun Columbo episode.

Poachers are trying to hack animal tracking systems – Think you have it tough with governments and companies spying on you, it looks like animals have hunters using tech to track them down.

Waze and other traffic dodging apps prompt cities to game the algorithms – I remember when shortcuts were liked prized secrets. Once they are obvious to everyone, chaos ensues.

The Blockchain Will Do to the Financial System What the Internet Did to Media – Because the buzzword of the month is still “blockchain”.

Google’s reCAPTCHA turns “invisible,” will separate bots from people without challenges – I hope so. I’m often not human enough to figure out those stupid CAPTCHA things.

Disable Those Annoying Taskbar Pop-Up Suggestions In Windows 10 – I swear that if someone else tried to install something as ad-pushy as Windows 10 on my computer I’d expect it to be caught by my anti-spamware detecting software.

Imitating Bone Creates Stronger Steel – The article is pretty interesting, but I can’t think of anything to add.

the future – Billy Bass Alexa. Inspired!

Lab-Grown Meat Finally Available in Chicken Nugget Form – Will vegetarians be able to eat lab-grown meat?

Galactic Attack Virtual Reality Coaster – We just did something like this at the Six Flags in Vallejo. It sounds really cool, but it was one of the worst rides I’ve ever been on. This is not a way to buy happiness.

Politics and Policy

Yale Lawsuit Spotlights Title IX, Sexual Assault ‘Hysteria’ – At least as far back as the witch trials, it seems that every generation picks a crime so heinous that we have to set aside the normal judicial process to make sure we convict the bad people. Is our generation’s version of this the accusation of sexual assault on college campuses? I’m not saying that they aren’t real and aren’t a serious problem. I’m just saying that it is unfortunate that in our zeal to do something about it, we appear to be stripping the (sometimes innocent) accused of their legal rights.

Why can’t you pay for sex? – It seems like a good rule of thumb for criminal law is that something should not be illegal if the “victim” prefers that it not be illegal.

Overdoses In W.Va. Drain Fund For Burials – The increase in drug overdose deaths is causing a strain on rural budgets. Is this a good counter-argument for not making something illegal if the “victim” prefers that it not be illegal?

Refugees, immigration, and the trolley problem – Does it really make sense to ban refugees because there is a small chance that some of them may be dangerous? Is that really the level of compassion that is appropriate for a predominantly Christian nation? Have we gone in less than a century from the “Greatest Generation” to the “Most Cowardly Generation?”

Retire This Rule vs Will Congress Undermine Retirement Coverage, Too? – Should states be allowed to auto-enroll people in IRAs when they don’t have a 401K? I guess my view is split. I think the state laws are bad but I see no reason why the feds should preempt them.

Common Sense on Immigration – Doesn’t everyone think their views on immigration are common sense? This article posits that we should make immigration more skill based.

Why Americans Pay Triple the World Price for Sugar – Because we are protecting US sugar growers. The rest of us all pay more. It also means that we import more products made with sugar because they can be made cheaper in other countries. It also means that we use a lot more HFCS as a replacement for sugar. But we’re making American great again for sugar growers. Isn’t that sweet?

How About Freedom for Dinner? – A review of the book Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable. I would like to see fewer laws banning foods and relying more on laws that “endorse” safe practices.

Paul Ryan Wants to Make You Less Free – It seems to be saying that taking more money from you and me and giving it to someone else makes those other people more free. I guess that’s true, but it still seems like it reduces overall freedom.

Lawmakers Try Yet Again To Create Minimum Seat Size Requirement On Planes – Do we really need laws for this? Can’t consumers be trusted to make their own choices? I understand why seats are getting less legroom (to put in more rows), but how are they getting narrower? Where is that extra space going? The aisles aren’t getting any wider.

Economics

Do Countries Consistently Engage in Misinforming the International Community about Their Efforts to Combat Money Laundering? Evidence Using Benford’s Law – One of the fun things about the widespread publishing of data and mainstreaming of stats techniques is that corruption is harder to hide. Sure, nobody is going to do anything about it, but at least it is more obvious that it exists.

THERE IS NO GENDER WAGE GAP – “If, for the same work, women make only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, why don’t businesses hire only women?”

What the President Could Learn From Professional Economists – A nice little summary from Greg Mankiw, President GWB’s former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Dead Wrong™ with Johan Norberg – Food Miles – Seems obvious, but the popularity of “buy local” and “eat local” stuff tells me that it isn’t obvious to everyone.

The Economics of Airline Class – An interesting breakdown of revenue by seating class and why airlines love business class.

March 5, 2017 – Stuff I Found Interesting

Other

If you want to persuade people, stop “winning” arguments – “One way, paradoxically, is to give up trying to persuade and instead ask questions.” Excellent article. I find that the best approach is not to try to win the argument but to sincerely try to come to a mutual understanding of why you and they disagree. Sometimes that leads to views changing and sometimes it just leads to better understanding.

 

New Zealand is offering free holidays to people who agree to a job interview – Where did I put that resume?

 

THESE ELDERLY DIY-ERS CAME TO PEACE WITH DEATH — BY CRAFTING THEIR OWN COFFINS – Wait. Is this really where I want to go for a job interview?

 

30 days jail for operator of drone that knocked woman unconscious – Looks like he deliberately flew over a crowd and it was his own piloting failure that caused the crash. Reckless endangerment seems like a reasonable charge and 30 days seems like a reasonable sentence.

 

The Real Difference between Google and Apple – Don’t look for deep insights into the companies. It’s just an interesting use of patent data and data analytics techniques.

 

Spurious Correlations – Sent this fun website to some colleagues this week. It’s a great source for examples when you are trying to show people that correlation doesn’t necessarily mean anything, let alone causation. I’ve seen a lot of people understand that better after looking at this site, although that may just be a coincidence.

Health – Physical and Mental

Diet Tracker Showdown: MyFitnessPal vs. Lose It – I’ve used MyFitnessPal and love it. I haven’t tried Lose It. If anyone is in the market for a diet tracking app or website, give them a look.

 

How to Keep Emotions From Running Your Life – This stuff all sounds good, but do people ever effectively put this stuff into practice? There are few things as hard or as worthwhile as changing the way you think.

Art and Culture

Beyond Curie is a design project that highlights badass women in science, technology, engineering + mathematics. – There’s no question that we need more chicks in STEM.

 

Architect Turns Old Cement Factory Into His Home, And The Interior Will Take Your Breath Away – Holy cow! That’s really cool. Definitely work checking out the pictures.

 

Oxford University launches summer school aimed at white working-class British boys – At first glance, it seems hard to think of white guys as Britain’s downtrodden. Class is still hugely important in Britain and classism is more entrenched in longstanding native groups than immigrants, so it isn’t surprising when you think about it.

 

How Does the Public’s View of Science Go So Wrong? – This is basically a complaint people don’t like scientists because they say things we don’t want to hear. Having more chick scientists wouldn’t hurt.

Science

Fasting diet ‘regenerates diabetic pancreas’ – “The pancreas can be triggered to regenerate itself through a type of fasting diet, say US researchers.” What is a “type of a fasting diet”? Isn’t “fasting” the same as “not eating”? “Type of fasting” sounds a lot like “color of invisibility cloak”.

 

Would You Want a Dog That Was Genetically Engineered to Be Healthier? – “Dogs have more genetic diseases than any other species on the planet.” Not coincidentally, they’re probably the animals that humans have done the most breeding work on, leading to a lack of genetic diversity. This feels like a common nature vs human control argument. As things go wrong, do we go back to a more natural approach or try to get better at human management?

 

Bias at The New York Times? ‘The Truth is Hard’ when reporting on bees and neonicotinoid pesticides – I know almost nothing about bees and neonicotinoid pesticides, so I have no clue who is wrong here. What I like about this article is that it challenges what was reported in the NYT, which is a good reminder to try to consume a broad variety of news sources because any one source is likely to fall into bias traps.

 

What will it take to break the 2-hour marathon? – Don’t look at me. My answer would be to make the race shorter, like they do in The Woodlands.

 

WW2 bomb craters are a home to rare and vulnerable animals – My takeaway from this is that nature is going to adapt to anything we do. While we have to be careful not to destroy too much, we should not make the opposite mistake of trying to hold the world in stasis either.

 

Physicists Say They’ve Created an ‘Impossible’ New Form of Matter: Supersolids – While they weren’t listed in the article, but I think my Quest Protein bars are made from Supersolids.

Technology

Why It Took the Washing Machine So Long to Catch On – The short answer is that they had to be cheap and reliable enough to gain widespread use. On a side note, when you see people say things like “we should have a tax on robots that take people’s jobs”, consider that you’d still be paying a tax on your robotic clothes washer for taking the job of washer women (who are now free to start STEM careers).

 

Isaac Newton Says You Can’t Have a Flying Car – Stupid jerk scientists. I want my damn flying car. It’s 2017 already! This is the farthest we’ve EVER been into the future and we’re not even close on this one.

 

How millions of kids are being shaped by know-it-all voice assistants – When any new technology becomes popular, you can count on two types of articles appearing – how it will be used for porn/sex and how it will be harmful to children. Does writing about how new technology harms children count as a STEM career?

Politics and Policy

Buffett and Gates: America Is Already Great, Thanks to Immigrants – Because I’ve been picking on Bill’s stupid taxing robots comment, I thought I’d post this interview. What he and Warren say in it makes a lot of sense.

 

Is Neil Gorsuch an “Originalist”? Impossible. – I lean towards originalism in my view of the appropriate way to apply the Constitution, so I thought this opposing viewpoint was interesting. He makes good points, but his argument sounds a lot like “it isn’t perfect so ignore it.”

 

The vote that could wreck the European Union – I think that it’s a bad sign that I was expecting this to be about one of several other big risks to the EU and not about the French. Still more surprising, it is about their election and not their inability to learn to pee in bathrooms.

Economics

Can Uber Ever Deliver? Part One – Understanding Uber’s Bleak Operating Economics – A very negative assessment of Uber’s business model. It sounds convincing, but I’m always skeptical of arguments that venture capitalists are foolishly throwing away good money. They rarely got all that money by being stupid.

 

Why Planes Don’t Fly Faster – This time it isn’t really the scientists that are to blame. They figured out how to fly much faster. It is the economists who aren’t letting us do it. Bastards.

 

How Blockchain Is Changing Finance – I strongly recommend using the term blockchain in conversation several times this month. It will make you sound really smart. It is still way too early to know if any of this hype will turn into reality, but people will have long forgotten that you were on the bandwagon if it crashes.

 

Why is Payola Illegal? – Because the record companies don’t want competitors to be able to advertise.

 

What do economists know? – An excellent article on what economists know and what is bloviating.

 

February 26, 2017 – Stuff I Found Interesting

Other

25 Airbag Rainbow Explosion in 4K – A totally pointless display of clouds of colored power made by exploding a bunch of powder with airbags. Looks cool.

 

Google Maps: Hyperlapse Around the World – A fun virtual tour around the world.

 

In their own words: How Texas pimps recruit and sell girls for sex – Very interesting story on 3 Texas pimps (one female!) and their take on the business. I found it fascinating. We hear a lot of stories about sex trafficking, making it sound like prostitutes are in the business against their will, but in a lot of cases, it is much more complicated. At least for some, it seems to them to be the least bad choice available to them. This article gives an insight into how the pimps twist their minds to get them there.

 

Queens of the Stoned Age – This was another fascinating story. This one was about a woman that set up a pot delivery business in New York relying on young, attractive, professionally dressed women to avoid detection.

 

Cracking story: French artist to entomb himself in rock for a week, then use body to hatch eggs – This article contains multiple levels of stupid. I’m totally calling BS. The whole concept seems stupid and the lack of a way to deal with excrement is a giveaway to this being a fraud.

Health – Physical and Mental

How I became a morning person (and why I decided to make the change) – Seems way overworked. Want to be a morning person? Get to bed earlier. Problem solved.

 

So, Um, How Do You, Like, Stop Using Filler Words? – I’ve never recorded myself doing public speaking. I think I prefer to live with the belief that I do it well enough rather than confront the reality that I should improve.

 

This State Is Now “Protecting” You from Kerrygold Butter – I’ve never heard of Kerrygold Butter, but if you live in Wisconsin, you don’t have to worry about it because the health authorities are protecting you (and the local butter industry) from it.

 

This Is How To Make Friends As An Adult: 5 Secrets Backed By Research – Once you get out of school, which is like a huge continuous mixer, making meaningful social connections gets harder. This article gives some advice on how to do it. There is no silver bullet.

Art and Culture

Skywhales and Jumping – Decades ago, I used to go to see a collection of animated shorts at some film festival each year. Many of them were awesome. Skywhales and Jumping were two of my favorites. I was able to find them both on Youtube.

 

Facebook Plans to Rewire Your Life. Be Afraid. – A screed about the evils of Facebook. I’m still of the view that the people that struggle the most with it are seeing a manifestation of problems that people bring with them and which are intensified rather than caused by FB. But it seems quite simple – don’t use it if it makes you worse off.

 

How mammoth cloning became fake news – I referenced an article on mammoth cloning last week and expressed my disappointment in what they were actually proposing to do. Here’s a follow-up article that describes it as “fake news” and goes into a lot more detail about why.

 

How This 11-Year-Old Girl Is Changing Prosthetics With Glitter – Jordan Reeves rocks. She’s not jumping fences on a cow, but she’s still cool in my book. “You can never be sad with sparkles”.

 

Why Millennials Are Lonely – Are they really lonelier? Or just whinier? And they even whinier or is the whiny millennial just a popular meme? I think we exaggerate the differences between generations.

 

Outlandish Trump Hysteria Mirrors Obamaphobia – Reagan was the anti-Christ. Clinton was destroying the dignity of the Presidency. Bush derangement syndrome was enough of a thing to get a name. Obamaphobia made people seem insane. Is it really a surprise that some people are hysterical about Trump? It would feel odd not to have a segment of the population apoplectic about whoever the President is.

Science

Should we treat obesity like a contagious disease? – Based on the concept that obesity “spreads” through social networks, it should be considered contagious. Personally, I think that is stretching things, but it does introduce some ideas worth chewing on.

 

What’s the Oldest Thing Alive Today? – Apparently, it’s some scraggly tree in California.

 

Thousands of horsemen may have swept into Bronze Age Europe, transforming the local population – Interesting use of DNA to show that migration from Eurasia into Europe about 5,000 years ago was predominantly male.

 

Feral Hogs Root Through History – We all have different concerns. This author is seriously chuffed about wild pigs tearing up archaeological artifacts in Florida. If I put together an ordered lists of my concerns, this would not be high on my list.

 

Harvesting therapeutic proteins from animal slobber – Gross! “Wu says that swine produce about 15 L of saliva per day, and his team has been able to collect 3 L of spit per day from pigs, for 40 days straight, without any apparent harm to the animals.” Yuck. Their probably drooling with excitement over being able to jack with archeologists. Who wouldn’t?

 

Brain Imaging Identifies Different Types of Depression – Looks like there is a biological difference in different types of depression. Knowing that may lead to different types of treatment. I guess that’s a happy thought.

 

Bees learn football from their buddies – Bees are smarter than I thought. I wonder if they can help me understand the rules for offside in soccer.

 

20 Years After Dolly, Where Are We With Cloning? – Nice little summary of where we are with cloning and gene manipulation. I didn’t know that they made cows without horns. That could be a good first step to genetically engineering the extinction of longhorns.

 

Why Did Greenland’s Vikings Vanish? – Did they die off? Go “home”? Who knows? Very interesting article.

 

Why Did Danish Vikings Move to England? – Maybe real estate prices in Greenland got too high?

 

Is Crime Genetic? Scientists Don’t Know Because They’re Afraid to Ask – Obviously, crime is not genetic, but the propensity to commit it probably is, at least to some extent. But some subjects are apparently too taboo to study. Are there things that, as a society, we are better off not knowing?

 

Urban crime rates and the changing face of immigration: Evidence across four decades – Everyone knows that immigration leads to higher crime. Well, everyone except the people that actually look at the data and realize that it isn’t.

Technology

Here’s why you should stop memorizing your passwords – A short video on why you should use a password manager rather than trying to memorize your passwords. Obviously, nobody I know is stupid enough to re-use their passwords across multiple important sites, so this is preaching to the choir.

 

Adventures in Science: How to Use Calipers – I love calipers. I have a nice Mitutoyo set. But a video on how to use them? It seems about as useful as a video on how to use scissors.

 

Use of weaponized drones by ISIS spurs terrorism fears – This is one of the obvious downsides to drones becoming cheap and ubiquitous.

 

Why you should donate your data (as well as your organs) when you die – I hadn’t given this much thought. After reading the article, I still haven’t given it much thought. I’m more concerned about it than the impact of wild pigs on Florida’s archaeological evidence, but not much.

 

Scientists are making remarkable progress at using brain implants to restore the freedom of movement that spinal cord injuries take away. – Another article on brain implants. Is this becoming a thing?

 

Rogue One: Visual effects revealed – A look at the VR technology they used to set up shots for the movie. It reminds me of Johnny Lee’s old Wii experiment. That was sooooo cool.

Politics and Policy

Could Betsy DeVos be an ally for transgender students? It’s complicated. – Thought this was an interestingly nuanced article on a woman that doesn’t seem to be the subject of many nuanced articles.

 

The End Of Identity Politics – This article posits the notion that intermarriage and integration are going to end identity politics. I doubt it. People always find ways to group themselves into “us” and “them”. Well, you and I don’t, but they do.

 

Apple Tells Lawmaker that Right to Repair iPhones Will Turn Nebraska Into a ‘Mecca’ for Hackers – I haven’t studied this in any depth, but I like the notion of “right to repair” laws. I like to own my stuff and if I can’t open it, fix it, or mod it, then I don’t own it.

 

6 Big Differences That Turn City Dwellers Into Liberals – An interesting take on why people in urban environments tend to be more liberal (in the modern US sense, not in the sense of actually favoring liberty).

 

How San Diego Built a Bridge Over the Wall – There is an airport that effectively straddles the border in sort of a form of jurisdictional arbitrage. Cool concept.

 

Teen Girl Sent Teen Boy 5 Inappropriate Pictures. He Faced Lifetime Registry as a ‘Violent Sex Offender’ or 350 Years in Jail. – The sex offender registry concept needs to be reviewed. Is it really providing enough value to make it worth accepting abuses like this?

 

Why Government Funding Hurts PBS and NPR – An interesting take on the impact of federal funding for the CPB. Is it really helping programming or just propping up small rural stations?

 

The Folly of Abolishing the N.E.A. – I think people like to argue of budgetary minutia like this to avoid talking about the much bigger and more important issues that they don’t want to deal with. Whatever good or bad the N.E.A. does is trivial in the grand scheme of things compared with the harm being done by underfunded pensions or the growing mismatch between social security taxes and spending, but those are hard problems so let’s argue over whether or not we should spend a few pennies on art projects of questionable value.

 

Absurd State Licensing Rules Could Send A Woman To Jail Just for Touching a Horse – I had no idea that horse massage was a thing, but it doesn’t surprise me that someone would want to use the law to block competition.

 

The real assimilation dilemma – This blog entry was an interesting take on assimilation. Roughly, immigrants are assimilating just fine but some longstanding native-born Americans are having trouble adapting to resulting changes in our culture. The flavor of the melting pot changes over time.

 

Dallas Is About To Go Broke – The fact that Dallas is struggling to meet its pension obligations during relatively prosperous times is a good sign that our pension funding system is broken. The longer we wait to fix it, the worse the problem will be. But let’s spend our time arguing over whether or not to use federal funds for Sesame Street because that has a lot more emotional resonance.

Economics

Dispelling More Myths About Trade Deficits – If you are concerned about our trade deficit (or our capital account surplus, which is the same thing), we need to have long talk.

 

The Future of Not Working – Despite Milton Friedman being a fan of the universal basic income concept, I’m still skeptical. It’ll be interesting to see how the experiments play out. I think I’d prefer a UBI that is tied to work in some fashion because my biggest fear is the impact on motivation to work and the subsequent harm to societal productivity.