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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