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.

Links: SpaceX, academia, book length, book anxiety, hotel startups, batteries, and more

* A Weird MIT Dorm Dies, and a Crisis Blooms at Colleges; in keeping with The Coddling of the American Mind.

* “Horror is a dark and piercing reflection of our anxious times.” I was originally going to skip this, but it’s excellent and much better than the title implies. Highly recommended.

* The Printed Word in Peril: The age of Homo virtualis is upon us. Is this a requiem for a Gutenberg mind?

* Books are getting longer, and they probably shouldn’t be getting longer. Perhaps we have not yet learned that it’s not necessarily, the size, it’s how you use it?

* Should we have a “dumb investment” agreement through the SEC? Democracy and transparency are good, aren’t they?

* “‘We’re moving to higher ground’: America’s era of climate mass migration is here.” Shouldn’t this have already happened a while ago?

* Inside the eight desperate weeks that saved SpaceX from ruin.

* How San Francisco demolished the California dream via its own housing laws.

* 24-Year-Old Ritesh Agarwal Built a $5 Billion Hotel Startup in Five Years. Cool.

* Zinc-air battery is supposedly ready for commercial deployment and also supposedly offers lower cost than lithium-ion batteries.

* “‘This guy doesn’t know anything’: the inside story of Trump’s shambolic transition team.” Much more detailed and interesting than the usual, and it also remind me of my rare political-ish post, Trump fears and the nuclear apocalypse. So far we’ve been lucky: no potential pandemics, terrorist attacks, or new wars. As I wrote then: “Maybe nothing catastrophically bad will happen. I hope so and think that will be true. But to pretend he is a ‘normal’ politician (or to vote for him) is to be willfully blind to history and to the man himself.”

* Wim Ouboter, the Man Behind the Scooter Revolution.

* “Russian Elon Musk’ raped and tortured to death in custody, say experts.” I wonder why smart and competent-seeming people who can get out of Russia stay in Russia. For most of the last 200 years, if not longer, the smartest thing anyone in Russia could do was (and today is) get out of Russia. Staying seems to have limited upside compared to these very significant downsides.

* Are people finally figuring out that business school is pretty bogus?

* Car crashes killed 37,133 people in the US in 2017. Remember this when you hear about minor acts of terrorism and other news-worthy but not-that-dangerous news.

* Iron Ox, a new autonomous farm, wants to produce food without human workers.

* “That’s clearly a form of punishment, however informal or extrajudicial. But the punishment seems far from swift, certain or fair, based on decades-old accusations without contemporaneous corroboration, aired solely due to political contingencies, urged on by a left avid to convict him of something.” I have not said much about the saga, which leaves almost all of its partisans looking and sounding worse than before, and this is one of the few intelligent pieces I’ve read on it. Virtue signaling and mood affiliation are strong in most commentary about this.

Links: The book biz, Emergent Ventures, the cost of cars, and more!

* “French bookshops revolt after prize selects novel self-published on Amazon: Booksellers refuse to ‘jump into the wolf’s mouth’ and order Marco Koskas’ Renaudot-longlisted novel online.” Pretty funny for the usual reasons.

* Tyler Cowen’s *Emergent Ventures*, a new project to help foment enlightenment. Highly recommended. I don’t have a good emergent venture, though I’d love to do something education-related. Do you have such a venture? Do you know someone who might?

* A premature attempt at the 21st Century canon.

* “The Current Sex Panic Harks Back to the Era of Coddling Women,” but you may already know that.

* ‘For me, this is paradise’: life in the Spanish city that banned cars.

* How a Professor Was Punished for an Act of Citizenship. You are probably tired of reading these outrageous stories about universities behaving badly (I am), yet they appear so often that I link to some of them. See also, “The Coddling of the American Mind ‘Is Speeding Up.’

* Canadian marijuana stock soars to $12 billion. The headline is too celebrity-gossip for me, but the content is of interest as a sign of social change.

* “Why Is the Home Building Industry Stuck in the 1940s? Embrace pre-fabricated, adaptable homes!”

* RIP the celebrity profile.

* On Nassim Taleb’s The Black Swan.

* Very good podcast with Austin Allred of Lambda School, on education and many other topics. I still think that the perfidious combination of accreditation bodies and the federal student loan system will shunt Lambda School and others to the sidelines, but I hope to see the alternatives grow.

* One small change to New York’s intersections is saving pedestrians’ lives.

* George Mason University’s econ department culture; we all ought to move closer to that, I think.

* “These studies offer a realistic view of postdoc life—and guidance for making career decisions that work for you.” This is really depressing: “Most postdocs earned between $39,000 and $55,000, with 5% reporting earnings below $39,000 and 10% above $55,000.” That’s basically saying, “Don’t go to grad school in science, either, because you won’t make any money, even after five to ten years of additional school.”

* America Is Living James Madison’s Nightmare.

* Putting a dollar value on one of oil’s biggest subsidies: military protection. An underrated point.

Links: Open-access journals, revealed preferences, censorship, transit, and more!

* Data from online dating. Bad headline. The seven bullet points at the end are the most interesting (and un-PC) parts.

* Radical open-access plan could spell end to journal subscriptions. Good.

* Understanding postmodern conservatism, a more interesting piece than you’d think from the title.

* “Why are America’s elite universities censoring themselves on China?” Why do we expect them to? Why do buy into the concept of “elite” in this domain?

* “Study: Cities with more transit use could cut road deaths by 40%.” We’re literally willing to die to drive.

* “How Real News Can Be Worse Than Fake News: Too much information can lead to a cynical population that expects little from its leaders.”

* Clayton Christensen: Half of American colleges will be bankrupt in 10 to 15 years. Given cost increases, that would probably be a net improvement.

* “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.” A… not expected op-ed.

* But Rich People Live Here, So We Can’t Be Going Broke!

* Uber Was Right: The scooter backlash vindicates Travis Kalanick’s early tactics.

* Electric scooters are getting more and more popular. It’s time for big cities to embrace them.

* On Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook; in The New Yorker and not just the usual.

* The Chekhov Sentence That Contains Almost All of Life. The new Shteyngart novel sounds unbelievably terrible, but the essay is good.

* Fitted tees, scruff, and understated watches: the secrets of a Silicon Valley stylist. Hilarious.

* The Major Urban Revolution of Minor Transportation Means.

* “I doubt me an it be commercial.” On publishing, writing, and many other topics of interest.

* Fundamentals in fiction and the question of obligations.

Links: Dutch cycling culture, the problems in academia, the delightful Claire Lehmann, mushrooms, and more!

* How the Dutch created a casual biking culture. My favorite story in a while.

* The self-defeat of academia. “Own goal” works here too.

* Conversation between Tyler Cowen and Clair Lehmann of Quillette. Appropriately, the link immediately above is to a Quillette essay.

* America’s student debt machine.

* Reflections from Kunming, an unglobalized part of the world.

* “My Affair With the Intellectual Dark Web,” a bad title for a surprisingly humane and interesting piece.

* Why It Can Happen Here: We’re very close to becoming another Poland or Hungary. And almost no one seems worried.

* Teens cutting back on social media? A big “maybe” here.

* What Follows the End of History? Identity Politics.

* “Talk to Your Kids About Porn: Many teens will be exposed to it anyway—often unintentionally—and they need the guidance of their parents to process what they’ve seen.” In the Atlantic. Not a cultural shift I expect to see, but I guess you never know.

* Air pollution causes ‘huge’ reduction in intelligence: study. If true, this is another argument in favor of electric cars, fast.

* “In an efficient market, why would profit-focused companies employ a bunch of people who by their own admission aren’t doing anything valuable?” Link. One possible answer: the market is actually consuming and producing a lot of signaling. Maybe less signaling than profit, but still a lot, except no one wants to admit as much. And signaling is not measurable.

* Livin’ Thing: An Oral History of ‘Boogie Nights.’

* Bending to the law of supply and demand, some colleges are dropping their prices.

* Francis Fukuyama Postpones the End of History: The political scientist argues that the desire of identity groups for recognition is a key threat to liberalism.

* “His $109K Heart Attack Bill Is Now Down To $332 After NPR Told His Story.” Maybe we should be working harder towards price transparency in healthcare?

* Loneliness is pervasive and rising, particularly among the young. Get off your phones.

* Social media mobs. Sounds unpleasant!

* Electric Vehicles’ Day Will Come, and It Might Come Suddenly.

* How the politics of envy (or ‘income inequality’) work in the broadest sense.”

Links: Poetry and career, Palahniuk interviewed, Naipaul, real art, and more

* Reading fiction helps your career, but reading poetry helps more?

* Joe Rogan interviews Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk; usually Rogan is not to my taste, but The same forces Palahniuk describes in publishing are also at work in academia. If you’re wondering why so much of contemporary academia is so boring and sterile, that’s part of it.

* Imagine a world without mandatory college diplomas. Related: “The Student Debt Problem Is Worse Than We Imagined.” Schools have no skin in the game; should we be surprised?

* “Marine scientist predicts ‘a planetary catastrophe.’

* Memories of V. S. Naipaul.

* “Venezuela’s great socialist experiment has brought a country to its knees.” The current vogue for socialism in some quarters, where people ought to know better, is strange.

* “Never Cook at Home: Trust me, I know it’s a drag.” A completely charming article and of course wrong. You should read it!

* Real art is bound to cause offense. I hope so!

* “America Has Fallen Out of Love With the Sedan.” You know all those articles about how bad global warming is getting? This is an article that basically says, “Americans don’t care.”

* “The Nuclear Power Plant of the Future May Be Floating Near Russia.”

* “The Humanities Face a Crisis—of Confidence.” Not the best article on this subject, but it’s okay.

* ‘We Are All Accumulating Mountains of Things.’

* “The Shakespeare Requirement” Is a Sad-Professor Satire That Burns with Moral Anger. I have read too many academic novels to be interested in them anymore, but this one is probably fine.

* Early Work by Andrew Martin Mixes Lust With the Directionless of Youth.

* “GlobalFoundries Stops All 7nm Chip Development.” Non-technical people are likely to skip right past this one, but it has profound implications for the future: GlobalFoundries is one of the largest chip makers in the world, and if it can’t do 7 nanometer, it’s possible that the others can’t, or can’t effectively, either. For the last ~50 years, integrated circuit design has been a huge bright spot in the economic and technological picture—and underappreciated by most people.

* Why the Left Is So Afraid of Jordan Peterson. Much better than you think based on the title.

* People Are Bad at Being Productive in a Limited Time.

* Baylor University used “mole” to aid communications department during sexual assault crisis? This story is crazy enough to be unbelievable in fiction. I read it and think, “Maybe universities should go back to focusing on teaching and research?”

Links: Climate, obesity, Kondo, le Carré, the world, and more!

* How ICE went rogue: Inside America’s unfolding immigration crisis. A horrible story that will require national reckoning.

* Climate Report: Not Good. Maybe we should do something about it?

* Beyond fiction: Scott Aaronson’s arrest.

* “The Toll of America’s Obesity.”

* Electric scooters will work in NYC. This is obvious, but it’s also amazing to see the small-c conservative NYT editorial board figure it out. Also, “The Real E-Scooters Story Is Much More Boring Than Media Coverage Suggests.”

* “The Origin Story of Marie Kondo’s Decluttering Empire.” I would guess Kondo is overrated by her adherents and underrated by most people.

* Rich Absentee Landlords Make a Killing from California’s Prop 13. This is congruent with a Grant Writing Confidential post I wrote, “L.A. digs a hole more slowly than economics fills it back in: The Proposition HHH Facilities Program RFP,” which will be of general interest to many of you.

* “How Bill Browder Became Russia’s Most Wanted Man,” an insane story reminiscent of John le Carré but published in The New Yorker.

* “Yes, Another Science Blog: Dear Academia, I loved you, but I’m leaving you. This relationship is hurting me.” From 2014 but characteristic of the genre.

* Shockingly, a sociology professor and gender studies person is embroiled in controversy. Who would have thought? I know it’s depressing to see all these pieces about why it’s a wise idea to stay out of academia, but people keep going into the meat grinder.

* “The Modern Automobile Must Die: If we want to solve climate change, there’s no other option.” More of the obvious, but here it is.

* Identity politics weaken democracy and we should do a lot less of them. Focus on ideas, not the speaker’s demographics.

* “Can We Talk About Toxic Femininity?” Not my view, but it’s telling how little we hear this phrase.

* Massachusetts gives workers new protections against noncompete clauses. Good. Every state should.

* “What Does Knee Surgery Cost? Few Know, and That’s a Problem.” We need price transparency now.

* “Companies dropping college degree as hiring requirement.” Good news if true, but this could easily be a bogus trend story.

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