Links: Paglia, farmers, boomtowns, Rams, Sapiens, and more!

* High-tech farmers are using LED lights in ways that seem to border on science fiction.

* “The new boomtowns: Why more people are relocating to ‘secondary’ cities.” As someone looking to do just that, for the usual reasons, it makes total sense to me.

* Scott Sumner on global warming and carbon taxes.

* “How the GOP Gave Up on Porn.” Seemingly everyone has given up on it, which is maybe not so good.

* Rams, on Dieter Rams.

* George RR Martin interview on writer’s block, which is what all of his modern interviews are actually about.

* “Pretentious, impenetrable, hard work … better? Why we need difficult books.” The bigger problem is that most “impenetrable” and “hard” books have nothing substantial in or to them. You discover their supposed secrets and find them to be totally empty, sort of like how Gollum goes under the Misty Mountains searching for secrets and gets nothing.

* Camille Paglia: It’s Time for a New Map of the Gender World.

* Tech C.E.O.s Are in Love With Yuval Noah Harari, Their Principal Doomsayer, and he is the author of Sapiens.

* Herman Hesse: Outside Man.

* The optimized anti-style of Allbirds shoes.

* The never-ending now. It ends in books! Past, present, future (“future” typically being science fiction).

* “The Novel Isn’t Dead—Please Stop Writing Eulogies.” Yes, another of these, but what can I say: I’m addicted to the genre, both of the death notices and of the life notices.

* Toronto Cleared Cars Off a Major Transit Corridor — And it Worked!

* Monica Lewinsky: “‘Who Gets to Live in Victimville?’: Why I Participated in a New Docuseries on The Clinton Affair.” It’s odd to me that claiming to be a victim is so popular and that claiming the mantle of victimhood, rather than that of skill or competence, is so popular.

* Terrorism is not effective, it seems, yet that does not stop us from fearing it.

Links: Mac Minis, the fall of driving, AbeBooks, the Neo-Puritan revival, progress in biology, Claire Lehmann, and more!

* The 2018 Mac Mini is actually a good machine, unlike the last few iterations of it.

* “Has Americans’ love affair with driving gotten stuck in traffic?: Baby boomers’ enthusiasm for the open road is giving way to millenials’ disillusionment with stop-and-go commutes that require they spend more time in their cars than they receive in vacation time.” How could it not, says I. See also my 2012 essay, “Cars and generational shift.” I expect scooter shares and the like to further erode car preference.

* Amazon’s AbeBooks backs down after booksellers stage global protest. AbeBooks is still quite good.

* “NPR: Neo-Puritan Revival.” This is something I have been wondering about (and occasionally writing about) for a while. There’s also an “everything old is new again” element, because seemingly everyone except me has forgotten about Katie Roiphe’s early-90s book The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism, which hits many of the same subjects we’re seeing batted around, yet again, today.

* Robert Nagle’s shift to ebooks.

* Sequencing is the new microscope, on how biology has come to bootstrap itself.

* Why We Need Innovative Nuclear Power.

* Claire Lehmann: The Voice of the ‘Intellectual Dark Web.’ If you are not following Quillette, you should.

* How the race between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke became the closest in Texas in 40 years.

* Peer review: the worst way to judge research, except for all the others. It turns out that academics are susceptible to prestige bias, as are the rest of us.

* “In North Korea, Missile Bases Suggest a Great Deception.” Nuclear war is still the problem that gets too little attention, as it will render pretty much everything people squabble about on Twitter and Twitter-adjacent sites irrelevant.

* “‘The Academy Is Largely Itself Responsible for Its Own Peril’: Jill Lepore on writing the story of America.” This is particularly annoying: “[W]hat you’re being trained to do is employ a jargon that instantiates your authority in the abstruseness of your prose. You display what you know by writing in a way that other people can’t understand. That’s not how I understand writing.”

Links: Kinlessness, Segway’s revenge, System76’s open-source hardware, hot sauce, and more!

* Kinlessness, a sad but very interesting piece.

* Segway was supposed to change the world. Two decades later, it just might.

* Another take on that mystery interstellar object that could be a discarded solar sail.

* System76 on US Manufacturing and Open Hardware. The company makes open-source desktops and laptops.

* What I Learned From Making Hot Sauce at Scale. I ordered some hot sauce based on this article!

* A lawsuit reveals how peculiar Harvard’s definition of merit is. The “Hebrew problem” has now become the “Asian problem” at Harvard.

* Why the Danes encourage their kids to swing axes, play with fire, and ride bikes in traffic.

* “The Saruman Trap: When power is corrupt, there is no way to escape its toxic influence.” My personal favorite in this batch, but I’m a sucker for anything LOTR.

* “Teachers Have a Responsibility: Two educators talk about teaching students to think critically, and keeping personal politics out of the classroom.” It seems obvious to me, yet I see too little of it.

* “GM’s electric bikes unveiled.” File under “Headlines I never thought I’d see outside of The Onion.”

* People Across the Country Are [Supposedly] Increasingly Worried About Climate Change—and It’s Changing How They Vote.

* “Think Professors Are Liberal? Try School Administrators.” I have seen some of the results, and they are not good.

* The Joe Rogan podcast with Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay; the latter two are responsible for the the Grievance Studies Scandal. It’s another version of the Sokal hoax. For a while I thought about blogging stupid humanities papers, but there were too many of them and (almost) on one seems to care. Plus, the Twitter account Real Peer Review is already doing the job. The most interesting thing about Boghossian and Lindsay on Rogan is the extent to which Rogan offers a very large, mainstream platform for their ideas. Word about academic chicanery is getting out.

* “Six Secrets from the Planner of Sevilla’s Lightning Bike Network.”

Links: The chair, the planet, Ursula K. le Guin, the problems on campus, and more!

* Anthropocene: why the chair should be the symbol for our sedentary age. I use a motorized sit-stand desk and you should too, if you’re a computer-type person who spends too much time at desks.

* “When Will the Planet Be Too Hot for Humans? Much, Much Sooner Than You Imagine.” This is essential reading and helps explain why I post so often about scooters, electric cars, etc. Right now the situation is unbelievably grim and yet almost no one acts like it. For more, see Peter Watts, The Adorable Optimism of the IPCC. I’m not quite as pessimistic due to the possibility of technological amelioration; Y Combinator, for example, is requesting that companies focused on carbon removal technologies apply.

* Always Beginning, on Ursula K. le Guin.

* Productivity, economics, technology, and much more in this nerdy interview.

* The life and death of a laptop battery, an interesting project. By the way: Apple just announced new MacBook Airs, which are probably the best mainstream laptop right now. They also announced new Mac Minis.

* Finally, the drug that keeps you young?

* Death of a bookman: the rise and fall of a publisher.

* How to build a Moon base. Have you read Andy Weir’s novel Artemis, which is set on a near-future moon base?

* “Sarah Kliff brings transparency to ER prices, one hospital bill at a time.” If you’ve been to an ER in the last couple years, please send Sarah copies of your mystery bills.

* Women challenging the “campus rape” narrative. Concerning Australia potentially importing the madness from the US.

* “Living Beneath the Ground in an Australian Desert,” in keeping with the theme from link #2, and also interesting in its own right.

* “‘Good Intentions Gone Awry’: Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff’s The Coddling of the American Mind. Book Review.”

* Quiet Day at a Pittsburgh Synagogue Became a Battle to Survive.

* Could the interstellar object Oumuamua be a lightsail from an alien civilization? Short answer: not real likely. Unfortunately, it’s also done a round trip out of the solar system, so we’ll likely never know.

Links: Student loans, loneliness, why identity politics are tedious, jealousy’s origins, and more!

* The Student Loan Debt Crisis Is About to Get Worse. Having observed the U.S. college system up close for a long time, I find it baffling that it’s managed to persist as long as it has. Actually, no: it’s persisted this long because young people don’t vote, and consequently no politician cares about their problems.

* To Prevent Loneliness, Start in the Classroom. A good thought, but it is striking to me how the safetyism obsession is probably increasing loneliness in schools. Lost Connections is also relevant reading here.

* New 100-mile electric van matches diesel vans on price, Workhorse says. Extremely good news if true.

* “The Right Finds the Perfect Weapon Against the Left: Conservatives are using identity politics to destroy liberalism from within.” Perhaps we ought to reduce identity based on demographic characteristics, which are (fairly, but not perfectly) immutable, and increase identity based on other characteristics—like what a person does or makes. We should also be thinking about how to improve the conversation, as I fear too few people are doing. Tyler Cowen wrote this article, and he also just released the book Stubborn Attachments, which, among many other things, attempts to do just that.

* Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab world needs most is free expression. This is the journalist who was murdered by Saudi Arabia in the Suadi consulate in Turkey.

* Where does jealousy come from?

* “This is exactly how a nuclear war would kill you: This is how the world ends — not with a bang, but with a lot of really big bombs.” From Vox. See also my essay on why I think Trump raises the likelihood of bad, extreme outcomes.

* An interview with Heather Mac Donald on her book The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture. Probably too reasonable to be read widely, but here it is.

* “Life Got You Down? Time to Read The Master and Margarita.” This is germane in many circumstances: “It’s a novel that encourages you not to take yourself too seriously, no matter how bad things have got.” I read it again, but I still don’t get it. Why does it start with so much about Ivan and Berlioz? What are the characters doing? Where are they going? What do they want? Why the ball at the end? The novel feels like a pointless ramble. Perhaps the fault is mine. Each individual sentence is easily understood but the characters and their motivations, if any, are opaque. Maybe that’s the “point,” but if so, then I still don’t enjoy the novel or need it to get to that point.

* On the new Francis Fukuyama book, and the man himself; I like the book.

* “Marxists against wokeness: For an antidote to today’s identitarian leftism, look to old-school radicals like CLR James.” This would at least be a net improvement.

* “How IBM’s Thinkpad became a design icon.” Modern Lenovo Thinkpads are still quite nice. Pity Lenovo quit making the OLED model.

* “The Emperor’s Woke Clothes: Campus Week: How did an elite, repressive minority policing speech and culture through political correctness come to browbeat the American democratic majority?” Something is wrong in a small number of nonetheless noisy universities.

* “A Remarkably Hard College Course Proves Remarkably Popular.” There’s also a distinct lack of postmodernist nonsense in it, as one Twitter person observed.

* “These Americans fled the country to escape their giant student debt.” Still, they seem not to be listening to market signals: “He then went back to school to pursue a master’s degree in comparative literature at the University of Colorado Boulder.” The market for humanities professors is soft and has been for decades.

The odd salience of older books: Stephen King’s “On Writing”

My novel The Dead Zone arose from two questions: Can a political assassin ever be right? And if he is, could you make him the protagonist of a novel? The good guy? These ideas called for a dangerously unstable politician, it seemed to me—a fellow who could climb the political ladder by showing the world a jolly, jes’-folks face and charming the voters by refusing to play the game in the usual way. (Greg Stillson’s campaign tactics as I imagined them twenty years ago were very similar to the ones Jesse Ventura used in his successful campaign for the governor’s seat in Minnesota. Thank goodness Ventura doesn’t seem like Stillson in any other ways.)

On Writing was published in 2000 and in the book King says he wrote it in 1997. When I first read it, nothing about this passage stood out. Today, everything about it stands out. I wonder if The Dead Zone has seen a sales bump in the current political climate.

Links: The climate of the climate, libraries, “Untrue,” chiles, definite optimism, and more!

* Do we have only twelve more years to avert climate crisis? Some readers have asked why I so often post about electric cars, Tesla, nuclear energy, zoning/housing, and micro-mobility (electric scooters, etc.). Those things are all bound up with the climate crisis. Although most writers consider all these issues as separate and distinct, they are actually interrelated, whether most writers realize this (or not).

* “The Case for Making Cities Out of Wood,” things I had not considered but that are very interesting.

* Growing Up in the Library.

* The Movie Assassin, one of the funniest essays I’ve ever read.

* “The ‘Untrue’ Woman: A new book makes the case for the primacy of the female libido, and for a societal reckoning with that reality.” I’m a bit skeptical; have you read it?

* “The Printed World in Peril.” If you’re like me, you’ve read this sort of thing many times in many guises, and yet something about the theme keeps you reading the next piece in the genre.

* “Saving the Prized Chile That Grows Only in Oaxaca’s Mountains.” Yum.

* “How Technology Grows (a restatement of definite optimism),” likely the most important piece in this batch.

* “Two Students Hooked Up. It Was Clearly Consensual. He Still Spent $12,000 Defending Himself.” Maybe universities ought to get out of the human housing business, which might curtail some of these absurdities.

* “To Avoid Climate Catastrophe, Your Transportation Choices Matter.”

* “Why you have (probably) already bought your last car.” Interesting, though I’m skeptical on the timing.

* “How an Anonymous Accusation Derailed My Life.” This is the sort of thing Quillette is publishing and that almost no one else will even touch.

* Stop obsessing about China.

* “‘We Didn’t Realize How Soon It’s Going to Come:‘ Is there anything that can actually stop the impending disaster detailed in the scary new climate report?”

* Former Google engineer on his experience working with censored products; vital reading.

* “The Crisis of Intimacy in the Age of Digital Connectivity.” See also my essay, “Facebook and cellphones might be really bad for relationships,” which seems underrated to me.

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