Links: College and speech, subways, textbooks, the manipulated citizen, and more!

* “Don’t Blame Politics for the Crisis at American Colleges: Campus life has been increasingly riled by controversies over perceived offenses. An administrative culture is partly responsible.” Still, one has to ask: is there a crisis? If so, what is it, and for whom is it a crisis?

* All aboard: the Second Avenue Subway is here. See also: Why does infrastructure cost so damn much in the U.S.?

* In keeping with the above: “Considerations on cost disease.” A much more vital essay than its title, maybe, suggests.

* A useful reminder: “Ordinary Americans Carried Out Inhumane Acts For Trump.”

* I Helped Create the Milo Trolling Playbook. You Should Stop Playing Right Into It. From Ryan Holiday of Trust Me, I’m Lying fame. We are easily manipulated, myself likely included.

* To Live Your Best Life, Do Mathematics.

* “Garry Kasparov, a top Putin critic, on how to oppose Trump: ‘making him look like a loser is crucial.'”

* Stan Smith knows you think he’s just a sneaker, a very weird and fascinating story.

* “Love is like cocaine.”

* Why great critics make disastrous judgments.

* “Top Hat Raises $22.5 Million to Go After Pearson, McGraw-Hill.” Good.

“How to build an autocracy”

How to build an autocracy” appears in this month’s Atlantic and may turn out to be the most important article of 2017. It’s so important that I’m putting it in a standalone post rather than including it as an item amid others in a link list. One hopes that the future David Frum imagines in it doesn’t come to pass.

But if it doesn’t, it won’t because individual people choose not to let it come to pass. Knowledge is one step in that process. Action is another.

We seem to have collectively forgotten history. We’ve seen authoritarianism before. What’s odd is seeing it again—although Richard Rorty may have predicted it twenty years ago; until the last election I complacently thought, “It can’t happen here.” I was wrong.

Links: Feminist sympathizes with “men’s rights,” Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hollywood, clothes and costs, and more

* “How this feminist found herself sympathising with the men’s rights movement.”

* At least one smart, well-informed person, Radley Balko, thinks “In Gorsuch, Trump gave Democrats a gift. They should take it.” I don’t know enough to have an opinion but generally like Balko’s skepticism towards the consolidation of government power over individuals and also like his book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces. Most of the discussion I’ve seen so far has been unenlightening.

* Scott Alexander on Eichmann in Jerusalem; I find the sections on bureaucratic and societal resistance most interesting. When I was younger I thought the “what” and “why” about a thing were the most interesting parts, but now I see that the “how” is at least as important.

* “Pants For the Cost of A Postage Stamp: A Conversation with Jacob Yazejian, Used Clothing Exporter.” This is an example of the “how” question being explained.

* “How Immigration Uncertainty Threatens America’s Tech Dominance.” Well-known to people in the field and not known at all among voters.

* America needs to abandon its reverence for bachelor’s degrees.

* “Why Hollywood as We Know It Is Already Over,” although I have been reading similar-ish articles for ~10 years.

* “The psychology of why 94 deaths from terrorism are scarier than 301,797 deaths from guns.”

* Things you don’t expect to read in The Chronicle of Higher Education: “‘I Have Multiple Loves:’ Carrie Jenkins makes the philosophical case for polyamory.”

* Evan McMullins is trying to save democracy.

Links: Bike lanes, book buying, century-old bestsellers, political darkness, and more!

* Why bike lanes may appear to be underutilized.

* Chicago cops, unaccountable by design.

* How to Culture Jam a Populist in Four Easy Steps.

* “The twilight of the liberal world order,” deeply pessimistic and, I hope, a set of ideas that doesn’t come to pass.

* The top bestsellers of 1916.

* Orwell’s “1984” and Trump’s America:

Whenever there is an authoritarian coup rooted in an irrational ideology, well-meaning people insist that it can’t persist because the results are going to be so obviously bad for the people who believe in it, whether it’s the theocratic revolution in Iran or the first truly autocratic Administration in America. Tragically, terribly, this is never the way it works. There is no political cost for Trump in being seen to be incompetent, impulsive, shallow, inconsistent, and contemptuous of truth and reason.

* Bibliomania: the strange history of compulsive book buying.

* “Sex and Art in 1950s Manhattan: Patricia Bosworth’s life was a dramatic saga of ambition, sex, affairs and abortion. She reveals it all in The Men in My Life.” The review is good but makes me feel like I don’t need to read the book itself.

* “Time to take a stand,” by Sam Altman, although I would argue that the time to take a stand was before the election.

* “Anne Frank and her family were also denied entry as refugees to the U.S.

* The ambiguities of dual citizenship.

* A clarifying moment in American history.

Links: Linux for writers, antibiotics, why the “Hobbit” movies are terrible, revenge of the bureaucrats and more!

* “Shallow Graves: The novels of Paul Auster,” from 2009 and one of the most hilarious reviews I’ve ever read; somehow I missed it at the time.

* “Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich.” It’s a good article and has been making the rounds online; if I were super-rich I’d be doing the same thing, for reasons listed in “Trump fears and the nuclear apocalypse.” Again, look at history: The craziness of World Wars I and II are (almost) impossible to believe, if you really study them. Entire countries marched in virtual lockstop into existential horror. People follow the crowd and do what they’re told, even if the crowd walks off a cliff and the leader tells them to walk off a cliff. The probability of extremely bad things happening is low, but it’s higher than it was on Nov. 7.

* A shockingly good explanation of why the Hobbit movies were so terrible.

* We will miss antibiotics when they’re gone.

* Where the Second Avenue Subway Went Wrong.

* On Building the Skyline, a history of New York’s skyscrapers. Also, A single city in China built more skyscrapers last year than the US and Australia combined. Pretty sad.

* Tom Wolfe’s new book is terrible. I started it and gave up maybe a quarter of the way through.

* The Many, the Humble, the Ubuntu Linux Users. About using Linux from the perspective of a writer rather than a programmer. There are also now very good laptops that come with Linux pre-installed, like this Dell XPS 13″.

* The System Has Failed and a Con Artist Has Won.

* “Blue Lies Matter: How Video Finally Proved That Cops Lie.”

* Yes, there have been aliens.

* The next [debt or financial] crisis?

* “What the Death of the T.P.P. Means for America.” The short answer is, “Very little that is good.”

* On Forged Through Fire: War, Peace, and the Democratic Bargain

Links: Faux productivity, the novel, parenting by contract, global warming, and more!

* “How ‘time-saving’ technology destroys our productivity: The endless tasks it can be used to create leave us working longer and longer hours.” Maybe the most important link in this batch. In my own work, I’ve seen this phenomenon and wrote about it in “How computers have made grant writing worse.”

* “Considering the Novel in the Age of Obama,” much better than the title implies but also a good exploration of why most people neither read nor care about “literary” fiction.

* We need a contract for co-parenting, not just for marriage, a point I expect to keep becoming more important over time.

* Roivant, an important pharmaceutical startup that’s trying to cut the time necessary to develop new drugs.

* “America, America,” scary, important.

* That Time I Turned a Routine Traffic Ticket into the Constitutional Trial of the Century.”

* Do dating apps fuel a rise in casual sex? Funny story, weak data, the kids today are out of control, just like they’ve always been.

* 2016 was the hottest year on record, surpassing the previous record holder (2015) and the one before that (2014).

Links: Why your city has no money, Thiel’s weak defense, novels, movements, and more!

* The Real Reason Your City Has No Money.

* “Peter Thiel, Trump’s Tech Pal, Explains Himself,” wildly unconvincing and specious; it’s bizarre to read Thiel’s criticisms of others that apply primarily to himself. He wrote Zero to One.

* Thinking about the process of being an artist and a writer: Lessons from David Galenson’s Old Masters and Young Geniuses.

* There’s “No proof music lessons make children any smarter.”

* “The Novel as Math Problem: As a formal exercise, Paul Auster’s 4321 is impeccable. As a story, it’s curiously cold.” I’ll pass.

* Why Most Economists Are So Worried About Trump.

* An excellent, important point: “Every movement…has a smart version and a stupid version, I try to (almost) always consider the smart version. The stupid version is always wrong for just about anything.” I have sometimes been guilty of attacking the stupid version.

* “Housing supply is [finally, almost] catching up to demand.”

* “Elena’s career exemplifies two cultures in women’s writing that are not supposed to mix: the unimpeachably high, where abstract desires are worked out in texts accessible only to educated elites, and the thrillingly low—writing that, driven by big, vulgar passions, grips the popular imagination but is not to be taken seriously.”

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