Links: The academic-industrial complex, Victorian millennials, the scooter race, the good life, and more!

* “Censorious millennials are the new Victorians.” Interesting throughout and my favorite of this batch.

* “Lime and Bird are each worth 10B+.” Even though I’m intellectually aware of the fact that politics is rarely about policy and often about identity, virtue-signaling, etc., it’s striking to me that superficially “progressive” cities are busy attacking a small, lightweight, and simple technology that can make differences at the margins regarding global warming.

* “The U.S. Appetite for Sugar Has Skyrocketed: Americans are eating too much of the sweet stuff, and a staggering portion of it is coming from drinks like soda.” If you are wondering why everyone in the U.S. is fat, this is why.

* Why many people are less-than-thrilled with the police.

* Funny, charming interview with Quinn Lewis, daughter of Michael Lewis.

* Brexit: A Test for Humanity. We are failing.

* Nightclubs are hell. What’s cool or fun about a thumping, sweaty dungeon full of posing idiots?

* “The Housing Boom Is Already Gigantic. How Long Can It Last?” It may already be over, as interest rates are going up.

* “The Pension Hole for U.S. Cities and States Is the Size of Germany’s Economy.” The Feds ought to mandate defined-benefit plans for all levels of government, to prevent precisely this problem.

* The State of the Publishing Union.

* “Macron Just Doesn’t Get It: He and others on the left are being swept along by world-historical forces they do not fully understand.” The most interesting book on this subject is The Revolt of The Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium. Highly recommended and better than many of the fragmented, surface-level news stories you’ll read.

* The Feminist Life Script Has Made Many Women Miserable? I would prefer avoiding one-size-fits all structures for billions of individual persons, but it is striking how rarely one sees this perspective.

* “I had pushed for a college education, believing that with it came job security and the freedom to pursue my writing without the burden of poverty.” Another person lied to by the academic industrial complex. The problem is, the world is awash in “writing.” Just “writing” is not a lucrative field. There is a lot of this: “applied to art grants and startup-accelerator programs, and even joined an innovative female-owned co-working space, Splash Coworking” and “I had to host a 12-hour poetry reading to raise money on GoFundMe,” but there is a distinct shortage of “I took an operating system course, which finally taught me how to master pointers and prevent memory leaks.”

Links: Friendship, dual brains, literature as pain, fusion news, unintended consequences, and more!

* “The Friendship That Made Google Huge,” an extremely charming and positive story.

* “China ‘Is the Only One in the Race’ to Make Electric Buses, Taxis and Trucks.” Perhaps we ought to be thinking less about culture war things and more about who is building the future.

* “Should Studying Literature Be Fun? ‘No’ is too often the answer, as scholars signal their ‘professionalism.'” And people wonder why the number of humanities majors keeps dropping. It’s strange how “fun” has become a suspect value on campus. This article is a long argument against grad school in the humanities.

* Achieving an 80x increase in plasma lifespan (and what it means for fusion energy).

* “Maximizing Your Slut Impact: An Overly Analytical Guide to Camgirling.” It’s extremely detailed and I learned of it via Alex Tabarrok’s Cam Girl Economics. The psychological readings are impressive. I can’t fathom why men would choose to watch “Cam Girls.”

* “Wall Street Rule for the #MeToo Era: Avoid Women at All Cost.” It’s like no one imagined unintended consequences, or understands that incentives affect behavior. Plus, anyone involved in this issue should read Skin in the Game by Taleb—there are a lot of people, especially online, who have no skin in the game while criticizing those who do. More people thinking about this issue should also read my own essay, “Ninety-five percent of people are fine, but it’s that last five percent.” Tail risks are real!

* “Tumblr will ban all adult content on December 17th.” The end of Tumblr, it would seem.

* “In LA, land dedicated to parking is larger than Manhattan. A new study asks, “What if that space was used for housing instead?” We are all paying The High Cost of Free Parking. We just don’t realize it.

* How electric bikes make cities safer.

* Heads up: “Civilisation will collapse if humanity doesn’t take action on global warming.”

* “Are Academics Cowards? The Grip of Grievance Studies and the Sunk Costs of Academic Pursuit.” The short answer is “yes.” Tenure is also supposed to make academics free to speak and free from coercion, yet many seem not to be very interested in free speech.

* Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rise Like a ‘Speeding Freight Train’ in 2018. See previous entry on “civilisation.”

* “Taiwan Can Win a War With China?” “Win” is not my favorite word here, as it’s not apparent that anyone, anywhere, would win such a war, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen, as World War I teaches us.

* “Why Doesn’t America Love the Novella?” I thought ebooks would help this situation. I favor a story being as long as it should be and no longer. That is sometimes very long (Lord of the Rings is too short, I feel, and Cryptonomicon is just right), but there are many novels that make me think, “This would be much better if it were 1/4 or 1/2 shorter.”

Links: The state of science, learning relationship skills, attention, Lululemon, and more!

* Scott Alexander asks, “Is science slowing down?

* “The First Lesson of Marriage 101: There Are No Soul Mates.” Improve yourself, first.

* Attention and Memory in the Age of the Disciplinary Spectacle.

* We are heading for a New Cretaceous, not for a new normal. This is important.

* GenZe electric bike review; looks like a good value.

* Is literary glory worth chasing? Probably not, but most people who achieve it are probably not chasing it—or are only chasing it indirectly.

* “Lululemon’s Founder Is an Unlikely Guru. That Might Be Why He’s a Billionaire. Chip Wilson has some odd ideas: Some made him rich, some got him fired.” Is anyone else reminded of Peter Thiel’s Zero to One? Startup founders, like artists, are often different not just in one domain but in many. If they were normal, they wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing. And this is one of the problems in modern universities, as addressed by Haidt and Lukianoff in The Coddling of the American Mind: universities are increasingly against anyone, anywhere, being weird or different, and they will punish weirdness and difference in speech.

* ‘Talent Wants Transit’: Companies Near Transportation Gaining the Upper Hand.

* Meet Alexa: inside the mind of an Instagram person. Sounds depressing.

* Academia’s Case of Stockholm Syndrome.

* Do we need to hide who we are to speak freely in the era of identity politics?

* The Prophet of Envy: a good review of the many Rene Girard books.

Links: Philanthropy popups, scientific credit, nuclear fusion, free speech, free being, and more!

* TALENT SEARCH: Tyler Cowen on the value of sole proprietor pop-up philanthropic shops.

* The Problem with Scientific Credit.

* On Paying for the Party, another work critical of academia.

* “The Rise of the Resentniks: And the populist war on excellence.”

* Science is Getting Less Bang for Its Buck.

* The Fading Battlefields of World War I.

* Inside Bill Browder’s War Against Putin ought to be made into a movie.

* Successful second round of nuclear fusion experiments with Wendelstein 7-X.

* “The new boomtowns: Why more people are relocating to ‘secondary’ cities.” Exclusionary zoning along the coasts has spillover effects, in other words.

* Eric Schmidt on the Life-Changing Magic of Systematizing, Scaling, and Saying Thanks.

* Rebecca Kulka has had an impressive, insane, and amazing life. This interview is incredible. I didn’t think I’d care for it and I was wrong.

* Why Is the Fight for Free Speech Led by the Psychologists? This seems plausible to me. English literature was lost to darkness long ago, which I wish I’d realized before I went to grad school in it. See also me on The Coddling of the American Mind.

* “Making what Harvard is about transparent.” Money, prestige, exclusivity; it is another brand.

* “Make School gains accreditation for 2-year applied computer science bachelor’s degree.” This is a bigger deal than it at first looks: accreditation bodies are among the major barriers that stop comprehensive higher education reform. And accreditors are an underappreciated barrier by anyone unfamiliar with the deeper, institutional and structural forces that keep college tuition high.

Links: Cars and death, why the rent is too damn high, doctors as debt collectors, and more!

* “Murder Machines: Why Cars Will Kill 30,000 Americans This Year.” An evergreen article. Imagine 30,000 people were killed by terrorism in the United States.

* Single-Family Home Zoning vs. ‘Generation Priced Out.’ Useful for anyone who thinks their rent is too damn high (like I do).

* “Doctors Are Fed Up With Being Turned Into Debt Collectors.” Maybe we ought to go back to a world of transparent pricing, paid in advance?

* “Chicago Expelled a Male Student 4 Days Before Graduation Because His Ex Made a Dubious Sexual Violence Claim.” More of the usual, in other words. And universities wonder why they have a PR problem!

* “Eric Schmidt on the Life-Changing Magic of Systematizing, Scaling, and Saying Thanks,” a conversation with Tyler Cowen.

* “Oil Demand for Cars Is Already Falling: Electric vehicles are displacing hundreds of thousands of barrels a day, exceeding expectations.” We get too little good news; here is some.

* “The Creation of Deviance,” note: “The activities of university administrators may also fit a larger pattern, one in which agents of social control readily create the need for their own services.”

* It is becoming more plausible to remove CO2 from air.

* The myth of stagnant incomes.

* Demand for humanities majors is low in the job market, although that is not the actual title of this essay, and you probably already know it, but I will pass it along anyway. In addition, “Telling a Lame Joke in an Elevator Can Endanger an Academic Career.” The obvious point: don’t go to grad school in the humanities.

* “The Disaster That Was the Vietnam War.” A war with few if any truly good guys.

* Robert Langlands, The Greatest Mathematician You’ve Never Heard Of. Unless, of course, you’ve read Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality, as I recommend!

* Tyler Cowen’s Stubborn Attachments—A Review.

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.”

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