Links: Solidia and low-carbon concrete, political analysis, college’s perils, diamonds, and more!

* “Solidia has a way to make cement that absorbs greenhouse gases instead of emitting them.” Very cool if true.

* “The G.O.P. Is Rotting.” Seems obvious to anyone paying attention; note the source.

* Could the human mind limit our comprehension of reality? The answer seems almost too obviously to be “yes.” This is my favorite essay of the group.

* “The World Might Be Better Off Without College for Everyone” from Bryan Caplan’s book The Case Against Education, which you need to preorder if you haven’t already.

* Why we need art: evolutionary biology and the impulse to create.

* Borrowing From Solar and Chip Tech to Make Diamonds Faster and Cheaper.

* “Dr. Strangelove Was a Documentary: Daniel Ellsberg’s new memoir would be an urgent warning about the monumental danger of nuclear weapons—even if Trump weren’t president.” Nuclear war is an underrated fear, and I worry about the analogy of our era being like 1910, with grave, unexpected catastrophe ahead despite many decades of relative peace behind. To be sure, I think the likely outcome is a continuation of peace and trade, but unlikely outcomes are still possible.

* “The Importance of Dumb Mistakes in College.”

* “The Warlock Hunt: The #MeToo moment has now morphed into a moral panic that poses as much danger to women as it does to men.”

* I previously posted “The right really was coming after college next;” see now “My Rejection of Academia Over the Lindsay Shepherd and Jordan Peterson Affair” for more in that vein. Note that I didn’t argue that the right is right (in many ways it isn’t), but academia ought to be thinking about what it means to actively alienate half the electorate. The Lindsay Shepherd affair is in Canada, but similar dynamics seem to apply.

* College Presidents Making $1M Rise with Tuition and Student Debt.

* Alaska is warming so fast, quality-control algorithms are rejecting the data.

Links: Lonely deaths, fantasy life beyond Tolkien, the nuclear family and zoning, fitness classes as religion, and more!

* “Why a Generation in Japan Is Facing a Lonely Death,” a completely fascinating but also depressing piece.

* “Out of the Shire: Life Beyond Tolkien.” It’s interesting to me that almost no one gets to Tolkien’s quality level except Philip Pullman and Ursula K. le Guin.

* The western elite from a Chinese perspective.

* “Sex Through the Looking Glass:” “The New Politics of Sex: The Sexual Revolution, Civil Liberties, and The Growth of Governmental Power is a comprehensive analysis of this process of overturning, showing how it has played out in virtually every social venue.” As usual things have not gone according to utopian plan.

* “A tad of gay holds sway,” or why homosexuality persists in the gene pool when it seemingly shouldn’t.

* “The Great American Single-Family Home Problem” will be familiar to readers but is still useful.

* Noah Smith: “Trump happened because conservatism failed.” A better reading than many.

* “Pretty Birds in Pretty Cages: Could the Nuclear Family Be the Reason We’re All Miserable?” Not just the usual. I’d like to see the way current living arrangements are straightjacketed by zoning.

* The Consumerist Church of Fitness Classes. I’m partway through Helen Dale’s amazing novel The Kingdom of the Wicked, which engages this idea (among many, many others). Many people also treat art as a kind of secular religion.

* “Generational Moralizing Is Not Enough: To defend free speech, its proponents must step outside their own echo chamber.”

* “How to Get Your Mind to Read.” Note: “Don’t blame the internet, or smartphones, or fake news for Americans’ poor reading. Blame ignorance. Turning the tide will require profound changes in how reading is taught, in standardized testing and in school curriculums.” I’m not sure how much of this is schools’ fault and how much is the “fault” of individuals in the general population: people who want to read, read, and those who don’t, don’t.

Links: Elon Musk, fancy jeans, optimism, energy, Martin Amis, and more!

* “Elon Musk: The Architect of Tomorrow.” Not the usual.

* “No Room for America Left in Those Jeans:” on the closing of White Oak, America’s last heritage denim mill. Now people must go to Japan for that kind of denim.

* “Definite optimism as human capital.”

* “‘I see things differently’: James Damore on his autism and the Google memo.” Not just the usual and working towards explanation, rather than prosecution or defense.

* “Republicans should admit to themselves they mostly don’t want big change: It’s a cranky old person party, not a policy visionary party.”

* FYI, tenure track jobs in English and other languages are down yet again. As you likely know, it is not smart to get a humanities PhD.

* “The left’s nuclear problem,” an underrated point.

* “E-bikes: time to saddle up with low-cost energy and no sweat?” An underrated story.

* “Team Amis,” on Martin’s latest as well as his oeuvre. An impressive essay, and I’d missed the Wilde connection like (I suspect) most of you. I’m more self-conscious about sentences after reading Amis or about Amis.

* “What to Worry About in This Surreal Bull Market,” which is entertaining because the answer is almost… everything. Japan (and debt). Europe (and debt). The United States (and debt). Debt itself. “Quants.” China. Indexes. Make enough predictions and eventually one will prove right!

* “Elite colleges are making it easy for conservatives to dislike them.”

* “Sex, Consent, and the Dangers of ‘Misplaced Scale,’” the only good article on its subject I’ve seen lately, especially those last lines: “This should give us pause. Being infantilized has never worked out well for women.”

Links: Drugs ought to be legalized, epistemology, The Case Against Education, homes for humans, and more!

* “Against the Demonization of Drugs.” Again, this ought to be obvious.

* Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo is an amazing, highly recommended book.

* “Why Are Conservatives More Susceptible to Believing Lies?“, although I’d like to see more about “are they?” beforehand.

* Bryan Caplan’s next book, The Case Against Education, is available for pre-order here. I’ve been looking forward to it for years.

* “‘Homes for human beings’: Millennial-driven anti-NIMBY movement is winning with a simple message.” Good.

* “Mind the gap:” a long, riveting story about how land-use policy scuppered new businesses.

* “How One Las Vegas ED Saved Hundreds of Lives After the Worst Mass Shooting in U.S. History.”

* “Shades of Greene:” Zadie Smith on Graham Greene.

* “Students are leading the assault on free speech — and faculty members and administrators are enabling them.”

* “Why dating is drudgery;” note that the article is in The New Yorker and thus better than its headline may imply.

* “Outbreak: Our Next Global Pandemic.” Be scared.

Links: Teaching Madame Bovary, Amsterdam, how faxes impair medicine, startups and farming, and more!

* “Teaching Madame Bovary,” a marvelous essay, and I would add that students like to judge before understanding. In this they’re only supported by the entire culture. But one thing instructors can and should ask for is understanding, and only after that judgment. Maybe I make the same error.

* “Bitter pill,” on second-, third-, and fourth-order effects from reliable contraception; not much of my views in it but consistently interesting and plausible.

* Douthat asks, “What’s the Matter With Republicans?

* “Five reasons why Amsterdam works so well for bikes.” Note that any American city could copy all five factors.

* “The Broken Check and Balance,” on how the Constitution is ill-suited to today’s U.S., which is polarized as has rarely if ever happened before.

* The fax of life: It’s 2017. American medicine still runs on fax machines because doctors and administrators think that making medical records easier to transfer will make patients change providers more easily. In other words, this is yet another patient-unfriendly, anti-competitive part of the healthcare landscape.

* “Philosophy Professor Tells Bisexual Student Who Criticized Islam ‘We’re Not Going to Let You Damage the Program.'” Wow, if true, and yet secret recordings are also not good.

* “Many Academics Are Eager to Publish in Worthless Journals.” This time from the NYT.

* Why Timber Towers Are on the Rise in France.

* “Mimesis Machines and Millennials.”

* “When the Academy Retreats: Thought-policing and value-signaling are pre-empting free and open discussion on college campuses.” It’s pretty depressing that we’re still fighting for free speech in 2017.

* Denver Radically Expanded Its Transit. So Why Are More People Driving Cars?

* “Meet the startups fighting Bay Area’s soaring housing costs.” These efforts are useful but pretty marginal; the basic problem remains: it’s illegal to build the housing that people want to live in.

* “Seven megatrends that could beat global warming: ‘There is reason for hope.'”

* “Startup ‘Plenty’ wants to build a giant indoor farm next to every major city.”

* “Could Rome Have Had an Industrial Revolution?

* “Forfeiting The Patriarchal Dividend,” a piece likely to anger some of you and not necessarily my view.

Links: More on lab-grown meat, a vaccine for the common cold, the university and reformation, and more!

* Memphis Meats Bets That Lab-Grown Meat Can Solve the Global Food Crisis.

* “Why can’t we cure the common cold?” Turns out that we likely can be choose not to for economic, legal, and regulatory reasons, which is terrible.

* “Rising Rents Are Pushing More Tenants Past the Breaking Point.” Maybe this will get more voters interested in the seemingly boring issue of zoning.

* From The Economist (and thus likely not an outright crank or virtue signaling piece), “Why do women still earn a lot less than men? When they do the same job, though, their salaries are practically the same.”

* The university must be the site of the next Reformation – here’s why.” I’m not convinced this must be true, but it could be true. The writer is also missing a lot of the other functions universities serve, the most important of which may actually be coaching, encouragement, and goal setting.

* “The White-Minstrel Show,” which went all over the Internet when it was published but which I’m just now getting to.

* “Too Many People Dream of a Charmed Life in Academia: Brilliant colleagues. Curious students. High status. Earning less than half of what a kindergarten teacher makes.” Regular readers of course know this, but based on the way grad schools keep filling up it appears most people do not.

* “An argument that professors shouldn’t stay silent about threats to speech on campus.” More easily said than done, especially because most faculty are contingent; I think the story of administration cowardice is most interesting here.

* “The Last Days of the Leather Fortress,” about the Armory in San Francisco and its longtime use by an adult film company; link is likely SFW as the story is published by Hazlitt.

* “The world in 2076: The population bomb has imploded.” Anyone worried about overpopulation is fighting the last war and ought to read Bryan Caplan’s Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids.

* “Record surge in atmospheric CO2 seen in 2016.”

* “Why Professors Are Writing Crap That Nobody Reads.” In short, they’re incentivized to.

* “Russia Uses Its Oil Giant, Rosneft, as a Foreign Policy Tool.” Another reason to prefer electric cars.

Links: Nashville, the social experiment, education and outrage, and more!

* Me, on Grant Writing Confidential, on “Nashville, seen and unseen,” regarding a recent trip there.

* “Sex and the Seductions of Social Explanation.” Concerns a very interesting book that I’ve now ordered.

* “Why Trump Just Might Blow Up NAFTA.” All of us may eventually suffer the poor choices of 2016 voters.

* “Education in the age of outrage.” I think part of what individuals (like me!) can do is simply try to tone down the outrage machine and focus on facts and understanding first and evaluation second (or third). Most people want to do judgment first and understanding later, if ever, which is not very satisfying for anyone, even the outraged.

* “Kimbal Musk wants to feed America, Silicon-Valley style.” Great! Sign me up.

* “A Jane Austen Kind of Guy: I get it that women find my affinity for their writer intrusive, but her world has much to offer men, too.”

* “‘Willing to Do Everything,’ Mothers Defend Sons Accused of Sexual Assault.” It’s surprising that almost no one saw this coming.

* “We Libertarians Were Really Wrong About School Vouchers” has an overstated headline but is interesting throughout for anyone interested in education, and this especially is true: “The socioeconomic status of the students in a school is somewhat easier for parents to observe than the quality of the pedagogy.” Really good teaching looks a lot like average if not below average teaching for a very long time, and it’s often hard to tell if the teaching has been any good until long after the class is over. Most of us know this anecdotally.

* “Cheater’s Poker: Esther Perel’s suave, crowd-pleasing take on surviving infidelity.”

* “Teenage Wasteland,” by Claire Lehman of Quilette, on Jean Twenge’s book iGen.

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