Links: Cars and cities, antibiotics and sex, mattresses, universities, writing advice and more

* Cars Kill Cities.

* How to design happier cities.

* Computer science professor leaves, explains the problems with his institution, and doesn’t include the standard false-guilt genuflection. Or, as he puts it, he’s “going feral.”

* How Tuft & Needle is disrupting the wildly corrupt mattress industry; I’d buy from them next time I need a mattress.

* The media doesn’t talk about suicide and statistics about suicide with guns are nonexistent or bad.

* “No Antibiotics, No Sexual Revolution,” or, “how the legal system is holding back medical innovation.” See also Alex Tabarrok’s wonderful and short book Launching the Innovation Renaissance.

* “Are Graduate Students At Private Schools ‘Employees’?” Given the amount and kind of work they do, it’s hard to answer “no.” At the University of Arizona, English grad students taught two classes per semester, for pay—the same amount of teaching professors did.

* “Solving the Shortage in Primary Care Doctors;” see also my essay “Why you should become a nurse or physicians assistant instead of a doctor: the underrated perils of medical school.”

* Yet another reason why public schools are as fucked up as they are: Student Gets Suspended, Loses Scholarship After Hugging a Teacher.

* The politics of science fiction.

* “Doctors and nurses need to be replaced by computers and robots.”

* “How to Write: A Year in Advice from Franzen, King, Hosseini, and More: Highlights from 12 months of interviews with writers about their craft and the authors they love.” Perhaps the most notable part is the number of people who give opposing or at least semi-contradictory advice. From that we might infer a meta rule: what works for other people won’t necessarily work for you (or me), and there isn’t necessarily a perfectly “right” way to do it.

3 responses

  1. The Kreider piece in the New Yorker was weird to me. He claims that science fiction is a “liberal” genre. There’s certainly a significant liberal strain in SF that’s evolved alongside a more vociferous libertarian one since the New Wave, but much SF imagines political alignments that simply aren’t our own. One could also argue that the original “hard” SF, with its emphasis on math and engineering, is “conservative.” Then again, in the hands of technocratic optimists like H.G. Wells, it was “progressive,” sometimes “radical.”

    The point being, who cares? Science fiction contains multitudes, and it’s small-minded, but typical of our times, for a pundit or critic to try to make a vast genre follow the picky little political road-map of the moment.

    It also amused me that Kreider had to spend his first paragraph preparing New Yorker readers for a discussion of genre fiction. Really? In 2013?

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    • I wonder if we also naturally have problems anytime someone says or tries to say “Genre X does Y,” since Genre X almost always contains hundreds of thousands or millions of samples and it’s quite difficult to generalize about them coherently, even for someone who exclusively reads Genre X.

      Along those lines, I could imagine someone saying that literary fiction tends to have a liberal bent (which is probably true—at least when it comes to lit fic that universities like), but there are certainly conservative-ish literary novels. It’s also a challenge because conservative and liberal mean different things at different times and places. Someone like D.H. Lawrence was radical at his time but no longer really seems so.

      A lot of “conservative” and “liberal” also seem to map onto lit fic in a sexual way but on science fiction in a more economic / political way. Then again I’m now wandering into the waters of vague generalizations that scupper so many otherwise kinda intelligent observers.

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  2. Pingback: Tuft & Needle is doing good things for mattresses: « The Story's Story

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