Links: How America is going haywire, high-heel heaven, where are the trains?, and more!

* “How America Went Haywire,” the most important piece in this batch.

* “High-heel heaven,” one of the funniest pieces I’ve read recently.

* “The Most Common Error in Media Coverage of the Google Memo.” Basically, no one is actually reading the memo, and almost everyone is instead loading up their pre-programmed, mood-affiliated responses. See also Ross Douthat for another orthogonal response. One short summary might be, “Think bigger and longer term,” which we are not so good at doing right now. Or maybe ever.

* Not directly related to the above, but: Men Are Better At Maps Until Women Take This Spatial Visualization Course: A bit of education can erase a definitive cognitive gap between men and women.

* Transit projects left undone in New Jersey, 2000 – 2020. The phrase “wasted opportunity” comes to mind.

* The not-so-secret trick to cutting solo car commutes: Charge for parking by the day.”

* “2016 Was Hot, Weird, and Unprecedented.” Also, “Super-heatwaves of 55°C (131°F) to emerge if global warming continues.” Prediction: when it happens, loads of people shout, “No one warned us!!!”

* “First large-scale deep-sea floating offshore wind farm.” There is lots of good news out there, but rage incites more viewing than the good news.

* The death of the internal combustion engine.

* “Here’s the Memo That Blew Up the NSC: Fired White House staffer argued ‘deep state’ attacked Trump administration because the president represents a threat to cultural Marxist memes, globalists, and bankers.” To call this “insane” is an insult to the insane. If I’d read an SF novel about the sequence of events of the past year two years ago, I’d have called it unrealistic and unbelievable. Yet here we all are.

* “Liberals should reject the divisive, zero-sum politics of identity and find their way back to a unifying vision of the common good.” Yes. Interesting venue for this piece, too.

* The next moon landing may be near.

* “Why are police officers more dangerous than airplanes?”

Links: Short books, free thought, unfree devices, male contraception, Google’s politically correct monoculture, and more!

* “In praise of short books.” No argument here. I’d rather write, “In praise of books that are the right length for their material,” which may be short (Rapture is short) or long (Cryptonomicon is long).

* Math journal editors resign to start rival journal that will be free to read.

* “Apple and other tech companies are fighting to keep devices hard to repair.” It’s not hard to understand why.

* Ninni Holmqvist’s novel The Unit imagines a dystopia for the childless.

* “Why We Can’t Have the Male Pill: A condom alternative could be worth billions. What’s taking so long?”

* “Why I left Academia: Part I.” This is an impressively brazen and horrible story and maybe the worst I’ve heard. One of the (many) reasons not to go to grad school in the humanities is that a single person can so easily halt or retard your progress. That’s rarely if ever true in the rest of the working world.

* “Trump’s Fledgling Presidency Has Already Collapsed.” Seems overly optimistic to me.

* “Modern American elites have come to favour inconspicuous consumption.” Seems like conspicuous precision is an improvement on conspicuous consumption.

* Google promotes and enforces politically correct monoculture, although the headline is different. Or maybe no one comes out looking good. It’s disappointing to read so few sentences like, “I think it’s really important to discuss this topic scientifically, keeping an open mind and using informed skepticism when evaluating claims about evidence,” even if I’m not sure the evidence is as strong as claimed at the link.

Links: The boring sense of the “party,” reading, pigs, college, and more!

* “My Party Is in Denial About Donald Trump: We created him, and now we’re rationalizing him. When will it stop?” A fantastic question.

* Want Teenage Boys to Read? Easy. Give Them Books About Sex. By Lemony Snicket. Seems pretty obvious, no? See also my long-ago post, “Reading: Wheaties, marijuana, or boring? You decide.”

* “14 Years After Decriminalizing Drugs, Portugal’s Bold Risk Paid Off.” Except I’d call it an “obvious policy” rather than a “bold risk.”

* Tesla Model 3 first drive review. Or here is another variant, from The Verge instead of Motortrend. And: “Driving Tesla’s Model 3 changes everything.”

* 34 criminal cases tossed after body cam footage shows cop planting drugs.

* Pigs are smart and sensitive, yet we continue to justify killing them for food.

* “The Heretical Things Statistics Tell Us About Fiction.”

* “Colleges say they could lower tuition — if only they could talk to each other about it.” I’m not convinced this is true, but it is intersting, and certainly the current approach has not yielded good outcomes for many people. See e.g.:

On the other hand, said Scherer, “it’s just possible that collusion in tuition-setting could be reflected on the cost side by an above-average increase” in the price. “If you relaxed the pressure even more, where would it go? To a general reduction of tuition or to higher educational spending generally on the facilities and staff side? I, frankly, am skeptical.”

* U.S. Nuclear Comeback Stalls as Two Reactors Are Abandoned. Ill news.

* Have smartphone destroyed a generation? Yes, it’s almost pure clickbait, but isn’t it delicious clickbait? Maybe you’ll read the headline and first paragraph on your phone.

* Cars and generational shift.

Links: Claude Shannon, the housing mess, the squat, HPV vaccines, pseudo-public space, and more!

* 10,000 Hours With Claude Shannon: How A Genius Thinks, Works, and Lives. Adapted from the book A Mind at Play, which is good but not great.

* Learning to Squat; unexpectedly found in The New Yorker.

* A decade on, HPV vaccine has halved cervical cancer rate. The real tragedy is that vaccine compliance is so low.

* Are college costs finally declining, along with enrollments?

* “Busy, distracted, inattentive? Everybody has been since at least 1710 and here are the philosophers to prove it .” A useful historical perspective.

* Revealed: the insidious creep of pseudo-public space in London.

* Google enters the nuclear fusion race.

* “A promising new coalition looks to rewrite the politics of urban housing: An end to defensive planning could unleash huge change.”

* “The Swedish Novel That Imagines a Dystopia for the Childless.”

* Regional income convergence in the U.S. has declined because of zoning and land-use policies. Regular readers are familiar with the many pernicious consequences of modern zoning practices. Basically, we feel poorer than we should because we’ve systematically raised the cost of housing, which we must pour our newfound wealth into, causing us to scramble to pay for the housing that ought to be cheaper than it is.

Links: Zoning and the quality of human life, great art, the institutional climate, and more!

* David Brooks: “How We Are Ruining America.” Notice that residential zoning restrictions are number one. Improve that and you get a lot of secondary and tertiary improvements “free.”

* “The Obsessive Art and Great Confession of Charlotte Salomon: Painter, auteur, enigma, murderer. The work of the German Jewish artist, killed in the Holocaust, has long been overshadowed by her life and times.” Article by Toni Bentley of The Surrender fame.

* “A Conversation with Malcolm Gladwell: Revisiting Brown v. Board.” Extremely interesting and contrarian in an intelligent way that shows many familiar things in a light I’d never considered.

* Does a secret yearning for monarchy and hierarchy attract us to Game of Thrones?

* “The planet will be too hot for humans much sooner than you think.” Yet seemingly almost no one is paying attention, or voting as if they are paying attention.

* “What Russian journalists think about how American reporters cover Putin and Trump.”

* Underreported Chinese investment in U.S. industries; not an overtly contrarian piece but definitely one that shows the complexity behind typical headlines and assertions.

* “As opioid overdoses exact a higher price, communities ponder who should be saved.”

* “As companies relocate to big cities, suburban towns are left scrambling.” I’m a city person, and while I understand why some people would want suburban towns in theory, I’ll never want to live in one.

* “Jane Austen, Emma, and what characters do.”

* Should community colleges abolish mandatory algebra classes? I’m admittedly 50/50 on this one, leaning towards “no” yet simultaneously aware that I took no real math classes as an undergrad. This question is also hard because the real question underlying it is, “What is education for?” And that brings us towards questions of signaling versus skill acquisition.

Links: Model 3, transit success in Chicago, Hollywood memoir, markets, free speech and free minds

* Tesla to hold “Handover party for first 30 customer Model 3’s on the 28th! Production grows exponentially, so Aug should be 100 cars and Sept above 1500.” That is the entire text of the announcement tweet.

* The guilty pleasures of Hollywood memoirs.

* Rahm Emmanuel: “In Chicago, the trains actually run on time.” This is actually productive, not gloating; some of the dumber responses online have attributed bad motives to Emmnauel that he does not evince in the text.

* “Why market competition has not brought down health care costs.” History and analysis are good but I don’t buy the solution. I’d like to see mandatory price transparency, savings accounts, and (government-run) catastrophic insurance. Oddly, we are evolving towards a world where basically all insurance is catastrophic insurance. I think my deductible is now something like $5,000.

* “Why Did a UCLA Instructor with a Popular Free-Speech Course Lose His Job?

* I wrote a snarky title saying, “President who understands nothing of Western Civilization gives speech urging defense of Western Civilization,” but then I realized, why bother with the link? The headline is enough, and many of you likely know the reference.

* “What on Earth Is Wrong With Connecticut?” The state seems to combine high taxes with suburban-style development (without a major city to mediate).

* “This Is How Big Oil Will Die,” with the author’s 1999 interview at Kodak being particularly funny.

* Canadian money is better than U.S. money.

* Are the Social Sciences Undergoing a Purity Spiral?

* “America’s First Postmodern President: Trump’s ascendance is no accident. He’s the culmination of our epoch of unreality. What does that herald for the resistance?” Oddly, some of the academic left has contributed to the intellectual environment that spawned Trump.

* Grid Batteries Are Poised to Become Cheaper Than Natural-Gas Plants in Minnesota.

Links: Ben Sasse, housing, grifting, Margaux Fragoso, cryptocurrencies (not in an SF context), and more!

* To no one’s surprise, “evidence for harm caused by microaggression is incoherent, unscientific and weak.” But virtue-signaling enabled by complaining about “microaggressions” remains robust.

* Ben Sasse’s conversation with Tyler. If I lived in Nebraska I’d likely vote for him for Senator.

* “The only thing the Bay Area’s tenant activists hate more than high rent is each other.” Comedy. If this weren’t already so absurd I’d encourage a modern-day Trollope to write a satire of it. Barchester Towers lives.

* “Why are so many American men so easily grifted?” A term I’ve rarely heard yet it’s oddly accurate.

* “California lawmakers have tried for 50 years to fix the state’s housing crisis. This is why they’ve failed.”

* Margaux Fragoso dies at 38, of ovarian cancer. She wrote Tiger, Tiger, a strange, haunting, memorable book that I never wrote about; it’s one of those books whose reviews tend to say much more about the reviewer than about the book itself.

* “A Path Less Taken to the Peak of the Math World.”

* “ Will social media kill the novel? Andrew O’Hagan on the end of private life.” Overwrought but useful.

* “A generational failure: As the U.S. fantasizes, the rest of the world builds a new transport system.”

* “Are cryptocurrencies about to go mainstream?” A year ago I would’ve said no; now I’m not so sure. Here is an intelligent but not super technical description of ethereum. I don’t grok it in fullness.

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