Links: Google Books?, climate changes, what popularity means, Fitzgerald, and more!

* “Somewhere at Google there is a database containing 25 million books and nobody is allowed to read them.”

* For real innovation, try a desktop PC. In my view desktops have been underrated for a long time and along many dimensions.

* “We Just Breached the 410 PPM Threshold for CO2: Carbon dioxide has not reached this height in millions of years.”

* What effect does the persistence of media artifacts have on college students?

* “The Nightmare Scenario for Florida’s Coastal Homeowners: Demand and financing could collapse before the sea consumes a single house.” Definitely one of those, “Don’t say we didn’t warn you” scenarios.

* Remember When Popularity Was Cool? Now It’s Just Work.

* “A Requiem for ‘Girls,’” a more interesting piece than it sounds. I watched the first few episodes of Girls with a woman who observed that all of the characters need to get jobs.

* “The Afterlife of F. Scott Fitzgerald.”

* “The Crisis of Western Civ:” “Now various scattered enemies of those Western values have emerged, and there is apparently nobody to defend them.” Except me, maybe.

Links: Cancer cures, the Duke Lacrosse Scandal reverberates, more on academia, Google Book Search, and more!

* “Why James Watson Has Become Optimistic about Curing Cancer: The genomic cancer strategy shift.”

* “The Duke Lacrosse Scandal and the Birth of the Alt-Right,” a good post and an underrated point. People like justice and like other people to get what they deserve (the technical term is “altruistic punishment”), and universities seem to have a problem with maintaining that notion consistently.

* “After Years of Challenges, Foursquare Has Found its Purpose — and Profits.” I didn’t realize Foursquare is still around, but I’ve started using it and find it more useful than I thought.

* “Bunga Bunga, American Style” (trigger warning: politics).

* “‘Unwanted Advances’ Tackles Sexual Politics in Academia.” Best line: “But it’s also hard to ignore the irony here: Universities are now terrible places to find political heterogeneity. Campus discourse has become the equivalent of the supermarket banana. Only one genetic variety remains.”

* “Interview with Mark Greif,” of n+1, I like especially the bit about modern friends.

* “Were College Students Better Off Before Social Media?” Increasingly I wonder if the answer is “Yes.” It’s also striking to me how many students use private or locked social media accounts that aren’t visible to the general public.

* “The Man Behind History’s Most Iconic Movie Posters, From Breakfast at Tiffany’s to James Bond,” a surprisingly moving and beautiful piece. I’m reminded of Paglia’s book Glittering Images.

* “How Google Book Search Got Lost: Google Books was the company’s first moonshot. But 15 years later, the project is stuck in low-Earth orbit.” I wonder too if books just feel less central to the culture than they did even 15 years ago. And the majority of books from the last five or so years are probably available widely and easily in digital formats already.

* “Has coffee gotten too fancy?” Probably, but I like the fancy and the whole ridiculous process.

Links: Management fails academia, Laura Kipnis in the news for campus sexual culture, the Mac Pro lives, and more!

* Every attempt to manage academia makes it worse.”

* On Laura Kipnis’s book Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus: “The Northwestern University professor strengthens her polemic against campus sexual culture.”

* Generation Why?

* “The Mac Pro lives,” to my surprise. I’d like a $1,200 – $1,500 Mac tower, but Apple hasn’t made such a machine in a long, long time. I’ll also note that I’m glad Apple isn’t totally ceding the tower-that-just-works market to Microsoft (a market Linux may be excluded from).

* “General Electric Wants Out of the Lightbulb Business.” Given how long LED bulbs last, this makes sense. By the way, the best LED bulbs I’ve found are from a company called Finally.

* “United Passenger ‘Removal’: A Reporting and Management Fail. Also: “Why flying in America keeps getting more miserable, explained.”

* “The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews,” yet we keep doing them anyway. Maybe they’re just a signaling mechanism for seriousness about taking the job?

* “Great Barrier Reef at ‘terminal stage’: scientists despair at latest coral bleaching data.”

Links: Rigor in universities?, the culture of the U.S. and the Internet, small apartment buildings, SpaceX, and more!

* “AAUP report says adjunct professor was likely fired for insisting on rigor in courses.” Then again, who knows for sure? Still, see also my post, “What incentivizes professors to grade honestly? Nothing.”

* “The Like Button Ruined the Internet.” The best responses to this blog are always emails or other blog posts.

* “Toronto Schools to Cease Field Trips to U.S.,” and the Board cites “concerns that some students may be turned away at the border in the wake of President Trump’s latest travel ban and the American immigration authorities’ newly implemented ‘extreme vetting’ procedures.” Makes sense to me. I remember talking to a student with dual New Zealand and American citizenship and observing that, if I were her, New Zealand universities would be looking very good right now. See also “
Dr Peter Watts, Canadian science fiction writer, beaten and arrested at US border
.” One can see why Canadians would not be eager to visit!

* “America Needs Small Apartment Buildings,” and zoning reform more generally.

* “The age of offense.” See also me, “How do you know when you’re being insensitive? How do you know when you’re funny?

* “How Utah Keeps the American Dream Alive.” Unexpected throughout.

* “How SpaceX’s Historic Rocket Re-Flight Boosts Elon Musk’s Mars Plan;” by far the most important news last week is that SpaceX launched and re-landed a previously launched and landed rocket booster. The price of getting to space is about to plummet.

* “The Reckoning: Why the Movie Business Is in Big Trouble.”

Links: The Internet and mail-order bride markets, cash medicine, educated aliteracy, clean energy, and more!

* “How the Internet Gave Mail-Order Brides the Power,” which is one of these usefully counterintuitive results.

* An antidote for the Affordable Care Act: Cash-only medicine with transparent pricing.”

* “The Rising Tide of Educated Aliteracy.” Probably describes some readers of this blog.

* “Silicon Valley’s Quest to Live Forever: Can billions of dollars’ worth of high-tech research succeed in making death optional?” Fascinating throughout, but “immortality” strikes me as the sort of thing that will become the Cold Fusion of the 21st Century: Always 20 years off.

* Speaking of clean energy, “A Dream of Clean Energy” is the latest update on ITER, which you might remember from the New Yorker’s fantastic “Star in a Bottle.”

* “Tesla Model 3 Ramp Up Aims to Crush BMW and Mercedes.” And it could work.

* “Staying Rich Without Manufacturing Will Be Hard.” Maybe. Getting rich through manufacturing is also very hard; arguably South Korea is the only country that’s really accomplished it (post-war Japan is another candidate).

* “What We Lose When Sex Is All About Danger: Paranoia rules on today’s college campus.” You may remember Laura Kipnis from her other appearances on this blog, including one for her book Men. This is an excerpt from her book Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus, which looks excellent though obvious, and in tune with something like Katie Roiphe’s The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism, from 1994 but still relevant today.

* Nuclear power is dying. Can radical innovation save it?” One hopes!

* “The Death of Advertising, and what will rise from its ashes.” More interesting and plausible than it sounds.

* “Humans produce so much stuff that we’re creating a new geological layer.” Which might be kinda cool in some ways.

Links: Police raids on the innocent, meditation and writing, methane and the atmosphere, warfare, and more

* “Marijuana raids are more deadly than the drug itself.” Unsurprisingly.

* “Yuval Harari, author of Sapiens, on how meditation made him a better historian,” more interesting and less trendy than the title makes it sound.

* Jeff’s story about Live Action Role Playing (“LARP”), from the “Work and Video Games” post.

* “7,000 underground gas bubbles poised to ‘explode’ in Arctic.” Those are methane bubbles. If you’ve not heard of the Clathrate Gun Hypothesis, see the link. Also, the NYT published, “What You Can Do About Climate Change.”

* “Americans’ Shift To The Suburbs Sped Up Last Year,” mostly because building there is legal; we are all paying zoning’s steep price.

* “Going Under the Knife, With Eyes and Ears Wide Open.”

* “Why is this little construction crane illegal in New York City? Dan Mooney’s Skypicker crane could save millions in building costs—but not from the Astoria warehouse where it’s been mothballed.” File under “rent seeking,” among other things.

* “Warfare helps explain why American welfare is different: One way of seeing the fight over health care is as a clash between two different Wagner’s laws.” In short, European countries created government-run medical programs to ensure that their populations could fight WWI and WWII, but there is much more of interest.

* “Some Saudi women are secretly deserting their country;” good.

* “In search of excitement,” one of these “state-of-the-novel” articles; the novel seems to have been dying for decades and yet people keep reading and writing them!

Links: Grad school season, Ikea’s bike, inside Nike, global warming, and more!

* We’re getting towards grad school season, so if you know anyone considering that error make sure they read, “What you should know BEFORE you start grad school / PhD programs in English Literature: The economic, financial, and opportunity costs.”

* The residency match encourages doctors to be passive. My essay on “the underrated perils of medical school” is by far the most-read thing I’ve ever written.

* “Can the Ikea bike turn Americans into bike commuters?” One hopes! I ride a Novara Gotham and would be reluctant to ride a city bike without a belt drive if I could avoid doing so. Belt-driven bikes require almost no maintenance and are extremely quiet. If you ride in cities and haven’t ridden one, ride one.

* Inside Nike. Until recently I didn’t appreciate how much effort goes into shoes. Also: “Outlier wants to make your life easier.” I have Outlier Slim Dungarees and they are excellent.

* “Large Sections of Australia’s Great Reef Are Now Dead, Scientists Find,” maybe the most important link in this batch. Also: “ Record-breaking climate change pushes world into ‘uncharted territory.’”

* “How did Donald Trump—a thrice-married, biblically illiterate sexual predator—hijack the religious right?” A question I’ve thought about.

* “Why Americans have come to worship their own ignorance.” I would only question the phrase “come to.”

* The Curious State of Apple Product Pricing.

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