Links: On John le Carré, the future of masks, what remains of literary culture, and more!

* “How Smiley’s people conquered Britain:” not the usual.

* “The Masks We’ll Wear in the Next Pandemic: N95s are good. Some scientists want to do much better.” Or, will they turn out to be like condoms, in that regulation and path dependence will prevent improvement?

* A mark of the death of literary culture. I read the interview in question, which I’d call closer to anodyne than “incendiary.” Have you noticed, as I have, how pallid almost all of the American novels of the last five to seven years have been? I have.

* Why wasn’t the steam engine invented earlier? Part III.

* “ACT scores continue to decline, dropping to lowest levels in 30 years.” I wonder how many high school students read for pleasure. See also “Computers and education: An example of conventional wisdom being wrong,” which is from 2013, but is applicable to pandemic learning losses too. I’m not sure online education works well for most people, and I still think that focus and concentration are the biggest barriers to learning for most people.

* Why was the Lyme disease vaccine tossed away?

* The appeal of Andrew Tate?

* What Alan Moore has been up to; Lost Girls may still be his most interesting and weirdest work.

* “The Environmentalists Undermining Environmentalism,” or how the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) undermines its own stated goals. Stasis is not progress, even though NEPA encourages stasis.

* In favor of the lab-leak hypothesis.

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