Links: Saving Barnes & Noble, the financial structure of higher ed, the need for excellence, and more!

* “Comcast households watched 6 hours/25 minutes a day of traditional TV, up 6% from the same time period a year before.” The culture you find on this blog, is not mainstream culture.

* To End Student Debt, Tie Tuition to Post-Graduation Salaries?

* Why 16?, on the history age of consent laws—a topic rarely discussed. See also the end of this post, about the racial and gender disparities from such laws:

As Judith Levine notes in Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex: “One striking pair of contradictory trends: as we raise the age of consent for sex, we lower the age at which a wrongdoing child may be tried and sentenced as an adult criminal. Both, needless to say, are ‘in the best interests’ of the child and society.” We want teenagers to be adults when they commit crimes and “children” when they have sex, which tells you more about our culture than about teenagers.

* Perhaps congruent with the link above, “Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Excellence: A former dean of the Yale Law School sounds a warning.”

* Samuel Pepys’s diary.

* Insured price $2,758, cash price $521. We ought to do something about this?

* How to fix the baby bust.

* The hypersane are among us? I’m still not sure we have a great definition of “hypersanity.”

* Universal Basic Income (UBI) plans don’t work mathematically, as presently advocated by politicians. I’m open to UBI arguments, but I’d like to see us first improve real spending power through comprehensive land use reform. Housing is the most expensive part of most people’s budget and we’re not doing anything like what we can and should be doing in this domain, which makes me think we’re not remotely serious about improving real spending power, let alone getting to UBI.

* “ What If We Haven’t Met Aliens Yet Because They’ve Messed Up Their Planets Too?” Could climate destruction explain the Fermi Paradox?

* How Tyler Cowen chooses fiction. Plus, Tyler on Peter Thiel as intellectual. On Twitter, there was a thread about why many people in academia (and I’m not talking about the humanities exclusively) seem to have disproportionate antipathy to tech people. The author’s thesis was that many tech people have greater, or at least growing, real-world and intellectual influence than academics—something that might not have been true 20 years ago. I’m not endorsing this thesis, but it’s not a ridiculous one, either.

* “China and the Difficulties of Dissent.” Don’t be dissuaded by the title.

* “‘The Big Error Was That She Was Caught’: The Untold Story Behind the Mysterious Disappearance of Fan Bingbing, the World’s Biggest Movie Star.” Implementing a “brain drain” (and talent drain) policy on China, via encouraging Chinese emigration to the United States, is an important argument almost no one is making, or thinking about. This is a trade war we might actually win.

* Open source textbooks are changing higher ed. What took so long?

* “Academia: An Outsider’s Perspective.” Unflattering, but possibly accurate.

* “The Return of Doomsday: The New Nuclear Arms Race—and How Washington and Moscow Can Stop It.” See also my post, “Trump fears and the nuclear apocalypse.”

* “The Nihilist in Chief.” I’m not fond of this topic but this one is good.

* Can Britain’s No. 1 Bookseller Save Barnes & Noble?

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