Links: Cultures that build, culture more generally, love, lifeguards, thinking, and more!

* On Cultures That Build. This blog, Scholars Stage, has been consistently interesting on a range of topics for a long time, and so it’s recommended for your RSS feed.

* Useful: “Ramit Sethi talks about how you can just not reply to stuff. It felt rude at first, but then I realized it was ruder to ignore the people I care about to respond to things I didn’t ask for in the first place. Selective ignoring is the key to productivity, I’m afraid.” Notice the word “selective.” If you ignore everything all the time, that’s probably bad. But if you’re “on top of things” you may not be advancing the more important projects.

* 10% less democracy might improve outcomes. Too little voting is bad but too much voting may also be bad.

* “The University Is Like a CD in the Streaming Age.” Maybe. It’s an intriguing analogy I don’t really buy. Also, what percentage of people go mostly for the social and development aspects, as opposed to the learning-things aspect?

* “Can an Unloved Child Learn to Love?” On the ghastly Romanian orphanages. In “Foster Family Agencies (FFAs) and why political rhetoric rarely focuses on child abuse,” I mention that orphanages could conceivably offer a better system than the current foster-care system, but their PR is terrible, due to articles just like this one.

* Boss of the beach, about NYC lifeguards and, more importantly, the dysfunctions of public-sector unions. Seems mostly hilarious in the first half—more hijinks than outright evil—but allowing people to drown is terrible.

* Another quit-lit piece from an academic, or former academic.

* “Much of today’s intelligentsia cannot think.” I’d say that much of it doesn’t even try and, perhaps more vitally, the dopamine hit of social media and the fast regurgitation of pre-digested but possibly wrong ideas is superficially attractive, like drinking pop and eating fast food. There have always been “intelligentsia” who repeat wrong slogans (look at the apologists for the Soviet Union, for example), but the incentives for them to form mobs is higher than it once was. Twitter is worse than blogs! The link below, “The silence is deafening,” also applies fruitfully to this one. It may be that the most intelligent part of the intelligentsia is not the loudest.

* “Cycling, Art, and Utopian Possibilities.”

* Apple and Facebook, an analysis from Ben Thompson at Stratechery; something about Facebook in particular renders most intelligent writers inane or blinkered, and Thompson is the big exception to that principle. I’m not a big Facebook user or fan but that seems a minority taste on my part.

* Oklo, developer of ‘micro’ nuclear reactor, aims to prove environmentalist doubters wrong. More vitally, they seem to be making real progress.

* “Forget Google, time to end the Visa-MasterCard duopoly.”

* Why does DARPA work? Much more interesting than the title may suggest.

* “Losing the Narrative: The Genre Fiction of the Professional Class.” Overstated, yes, but among the most interesting essays I’ve read in a long time, and I read a lot.

* “The silence is deafening,” on why many defaults in social media don’t work and often produce poor outcomes.

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