“Nurses Die, Doctors Fall Sick and Panic Rises on Virus Front Lines”

Nurses Die, Doctors Fall Sick and Panic Rises on Virus Front Lines: The pandemic has begun to sweep through New York City’s medical ranks, and anxiety is growing among normally dispassionate medical professionals” is congruent with what I have been told privately, and if it’s happening in New York (and Seattle) today, it will be happening wherever you are in 10 days. The gap between hospital administrators and doctors seems to be quite wide, with the former not having sufficient skin in the game. Ordering doctors, nurses, and others to work sick is insane, because that’s how medical workers are going to keep spreading the virus to themselves and to their patients.

Medicine has a “work sick” culture that has struck me as insane since I first learned about it. That culture needs to end and now is an excellent time to end it.

Links: Writing pseudonymously, the life of the mind, the life of Mars, chickpeas, and more!

* “Why You Should Write Pseudonymously.” I’m failing at this, obviously.

* “The Bleak Job Landscape of Adjunctopia for Ph.D.s.” Obvious, and not much has changed since 2012, when I offered my contribution to the extensive “grad school is bad” literature.

* Mitch Daniels has frozen Purdue’s tuition—at less than $10,000—for seven straight years. The fundamentals of Baumol’s Cost Disease plus the prestige and status-seeking enterprise means that improvement will be hard.

* Inside Elon Musk’s plan to build one Starship a week—and settle Mars.

* Why the US sucks at building public transit. If we could get better at this, we could slash many households’s transit costs and thus free up more money for anything and everything else.

* “My life with Oliver Sacks: ‘He was the most unusual person I had ever known.’

* More on the novel’s suppose ddecline. As long as people wonder about the human condition, I think there will be a place for the novel. But a lot of current literary culture is overly PC, rarefied, and disconnected from reality and from the human condition.

* “Why Japan is obsessed with paper.” I have complained periodically about American publishers not being obsessed with paper at all, and the crappy paper quality used in most books. The New York Review of Books books are among the notable exceptions.

* “In the Future, Everything Will Be Made of Chickpeas.” One hopes. An Instapot helps.

* “What the ‘meat paradox’ reveals about moral decision making:” Something that I have wondered about.

* On writers block. I don’t know that it’s real, but people say it’s real. More often I worry about “people block,” that is, people who continually try to bombard a writer or would-be writer with text messages, poorly timed chitchat, and that kind of thing.

* “The Accusations Were Lies. But Could We Prove It?” More on Title IX madness. These stories are not so different than the ones implied by Francine Prose’s novel Blue Angel. It’s like the people who set up these systems never thought to learn from the centuries of effort expended on setting up existing legal systems that strive to balance rights of the accused with rights of the accusers.

* No SARS-CoV-19/coronavirus talk in this batch, which might seem strange, but from what I have seen you can get all you want of that and more pretty much everywhere, so I’m going to do some of the things not being done elsewhere right now. I don’t have much novel to add: The CDC’s early behavior around testing and testing certification is appalling, as is the response, or non-response, from the Executive Branch. But these reactions are obvious for anyone who has been paying attention. Twitter, oddly, comes out looking good: the Cassandras who are usually wrong with their vaguely conspiratorial statements and insinuations were right, and early.

Links: Supposed UFOs, psychedelics and con men, and lots of history and context

* Inside the Pentagon’s Secret UFO Program. Supposedly.

“Andy Roberts’s provocative new biography of Hollingshead, Divine Rascal, suggests that there is something seriously wrong with this standard history. Roberts uncovers the fact that Hollingshead was not simply a benevolent trickster who turned people on with his beloved mayonnaise jar; he also possessed a dark side — one that does not appear in the various historical accounts of the psychedelic movement. In Divine Rascal, Roberts, an eminent historian of British psychedelic culture (e.g., Albion Dreaming: A Popular History of LSD in Britain [2012]), views Hollingshead with sober eyes.”

From “Psychedelic Pioneer and Confidence Man.” It may be that the people drawn to psychedelia are also more likely than average to be overly credulous and gullible, and wherever those people gather, con men follow.

* Machine learning for antibiotics.

* Paul Graham on “How to write usefully.” I like the implication that many of us write uselessly. Plus, Graham’s writing routines.

* The US rental housing market. If NIMBYs can use zoning to get supernormal rates of return on housing, so can large capital pools. I wonder if, or when, voters will notice and respond appropriately.

* Bryan Caplan’s case for open borders. The book looks good but I’m also prejudiced against comic books, graphic nonfiction, or whatever one may wish to call the genre.

* “Why Did the Coronavirus Outbreak Start in China?” On the weaknesses of China’s government.

* “A Bellow from France,” which has a great first line: “‘Fatalism and Fellatio’ is the title the Süddeutsche Zeitung gave last fall to a scathing essay about Michel Houellebecq’s seventh novel, Serotonin.” “Great title” does not necessarily mean “accurate title,” however.

* The perverse panic over plastic. Most recycling efforts are a waste of time but make people feel good. Substantial changes that would be useful are mostly being avoided, like congestion pricing, zoning reform, not flying, or signing up for Climeworks carbon burying. What should we infer about human nature from this?

* The health system we’d have if healthcare economists ran things. It doesn’t look that different from the one we have now: there is no such thing as a free lunch.

* “Thoughts about transparency in college admissions.” It is amusing how many heavily marketed schools squawk about equality, diversity, helping the poorest, and so forth, and how many of them actively practice policies that do the exact opposite.

* History of the distribution of sex-related information and contraception. Familiar to some of you already, no doubt.

* The dating “market” is getting worse? Maybe? Maybe the paradox of choice is real, but the data cited here aren’t totally convincing.

* “Venezuela Is the Eerie Endgame of Modern Politics: Citizens of a once-prosperous nation live amid the havoc created by socialism, illiberal nationalism, and political polarization.” Voters can make awful choices; Chávez was originally fairly democratically elected. In the U.S., voters have put McConnell in the Senate and helped elevate him to Senate Majority Leader. Regarding the executive branch, see this.

* Israel’s Rihanna, Nasrin, Is Arab and Jewish. Maybe pop music and culture unites the world, or can.

* Book Review: The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work.

* Nuclear Tests Marked Life on Earth With a Radioactive Spike.

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