Links: The financial dangers of college, losing my religion, His Dark Materials, and more!

* “A Very Dangerous Place for a Child Is College.” Yes, and yet we’re not really discussing it.

* More vegetarian options make more people choose vegetables.

* Related to the above: Impossible foods and its efforts to replace burgers.

* America’s New Sex Bureaucracy. And we somehow like this?

* “Three decades ago, Americans lost religion. Why?” The short-term political expediency of twining one political party with religion may have bad long-term consequences. We also seem to have taken up new religions—a common theme on this blog.

* “How climate change is melting, drying and flooding Earth – in pictures.” Source is not bogus, either.

* Research and “gender wars.” I don’t think most of the rhetoric has anything to do with facts or research; it’s mostly tribal and value signaling, so I’m not real optimistic on this one. When an issue takes on tribal valence, quality of discourse and thinking tends to decline.

* “The Atavism of Cancel Culture: Its social rewards are immediate and gratifying, its dangers distant and abstract.” Another of these, “And we somehow like this?” articles.

* “Why It’s So Hard for Entrepreneurs to Get Really Rich in Europe.” I’d frame it differently: “Another reason it’s so hard to scale businesses in Europe.”

* The Fallen Worlds of Philip Pullman. His Dark Materials is great and if you haven’t read it, you should.

* The Seven-Year Auto Loan: America’s Middle Class Can’t Afford Their Cars. The response ought to be to reform zoning laws and support the construction of more and better mass transit, but the likely response will be “business as usual.”

Links: Cycling like the Dutch, the culture war comes for NYC kids, smartphones and culture, and more!

* “How I Learned to Cycle Like a Dutchman.” This seems so much more pleasant than the American alternative, and simultaneously much less likely to kill and maim people.

* “When the Culture War Comes for the Kids.” The subtext is, “If you’re a normal person, get out of New York.” The city is fine for the very rich or very poor and terrible for most people in between; the very rich can buy their way out of the crazier aspects of the culture war, if they choose, but those who are barely covering rent and onerous taxes cannot.

* Progress, but not fast enough, on Gen IV nuclear reactors.

* Mom won’t buy her teenagers smartphones. See also iGen and also The Coddling of the American Mind for related ideas.

* “The myth of the wealthy welder.” Provides useful perspective but for many people, the choice is between something like welding or poverty, not welding and a successful degree in a remunerative subject from a four-year school. We need a lot more apprenticeships and vocational education and a lot less standard-issue four-year college.

* “The Story of Caroline Calloway & Her Ghostwriter Natalie.” Like the second link, the meta lesson is get out of New York / LA. Moreover, going to expensive private schools has significant downsides, especially when one majors in the humanities in them.

* “‘Ecological grief’ grips scientists witnessing Great Barrier Reef’s decline.” Collective response: nothing.

* Greedy hospitals fleecing the poor. And not just the poor, either, as I’ve discovered.

* Why the Fossil Record Is Mostly Males. One of the many stories that may make you doubt some contemporary social-culture-media norms.

* Did you know peer review wasn’t ubiquitous until the ’70s? This should give reformers heart.

* Can innovation be sped up? Maybe not, in this reading. I’d argue we’re not even seriously trying.

* “George Washing University (GWU) aims to get smaller and ‘better.'” “Better” is a weird metric here. The president “wants to expand programs in science, technology, engineering and math.” It’s telling that the humanities are absent from that list: I wonder how many humanities professors are working to make the field more rigorous and less ideological.

* Social media could make it hard to grow up? Flatters my existing prejudices, so beware.

* Why do some people become readers?

* The widely discussed Boeing 737 Max article, but it’s about a whole lot more. Killing Bombardier looks pretty dumb today. Boeing is dysfunctional and yet there’s no practical alternative to it.

* How to reform the economics PhD. Econ is not the only field that could do with similar reforms.

* Speaking of schools, a pdf on the effet of being the child of an alumni, an athlete, or the child of a faculty of a faculty member on Harvard admissions, based on data thrown off by that lawsuit about how Harvard discriminates against Asians.

* Will America’s debt doom us? Remember, the sign of the crisis is the crisis.

* The college admission trilemma.

* “A Decade Later, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Has Left an Abyssal Wasteland.” It’s curious that we rarely take such things into account when considering urban policy.

Links: The electric scooter, the comfort college, stamina succeeds?, and more

* “The rise of the electric scooter.” Which is awesome and underrated in the media.

* The rise of the comfort college. Depressing and consistent with my classroom experiences. Strangely, the New York Times Book Review just published a letter to the editor on related subjects.

* Does poetry have street cred? Does it just need to focus on being more structured and less boring?

* Are too many people going to college? It’s strange that these ideas aren’t also more common.

* Apple stacked the app store with its own products. If there’s a monopoly problem in tech companies right now, it’s almost certainly with Apple, not with the usual suspects.

* “The One Thing No Israeli Wants to Discuss.” The contemporary discourse around the Middle East is frequently missing precisely this history—it’s as if someone is trying to understand some aspects of contemporary American politics without mentioning 9/11.

* Universities say they want strong academics and diversity, but they really want rich kids. I can only say that I’m shocked, shocked to find gambling going on in this cafe.

* Stamina succeeds?

* Why industry is quietly going green. Amusing and counterintuitive.

* “Malaria breakthrough as scientists find ‘highly effective’ way to kill parasite.” This is likely to be bigger news than anything else you read this month, if it’s true.

* Food innovation news.

* “Why Are American Homes So Big?” A lot of them are too big and located in the wrong places.

* The rush from judgment. Views rarely heard, except sometimes from Bryan Caplan.

Links: Real-life rules, active learning, Germans and nudity, group novels, and more!

* “Why It’s So Hard for Young People to Date Offline.” Where there is a shortage, there is an opportunity.

* Active learning works, but students don’t like it. Matches my anecdotal experiences in teaching.

* “Camille Paglia: A Feminist Capitalist Professor Under Fire .”

* Literary prizes, sales, and popularity, somewhat quantified.

* “When Did College Turn So Cruel?

* Germans like nudity. Nudism nudity.

* Can you write a novel as a group? I don’t see why not. This is also not related to the group issues in the link immediately above.

* Bicycles can help save the planet and improve our cities.

* “‘Father Is Surgeon,’ ‘1 Mil Pledge’: The Role of Money in USC Admissions: Emails in college admissions cheating scandal show the role donations played in decisions to accept students.” This one has a lot of comeuppance and schadenfreude. One lawyer “in the admissions-cheating scheme has argued that parents donated to USC as part of a standard admissions practice that was actively encouraged by USC.” Seems really plausible to me: the whole thing reads a bit like the mafia being pissed off that amateurs are elbowing into its turf, or a branch of government elbowing into the mafia’s turf. There’s just so much comedy in this story. Remember the link about how did (some parts of) the college system become so cruel? This is part of the story, and it’s a story about the behavior of the schools themselves.

* Walter Mosley on quitting the writers room. Has one of the great all-time lines in it.

* “How ancient poetry can revitalise our erotic imaginations.” Maybe.

* Edward Luttwak from 1994: “Why Fascism is the Wave of the Future.” Had I read this ten years ago I would have found it absurd. No longer.

* Room with a viewer: How TV became president. Most of the blame on Facebook and other Internet platforms seems misguided, relative to the importance of plain old TV.

Links: Satellite internet, epistemology many ways, the penny-book business, Houellebecq, and more!

* Satellite Internet companies could save consumers $30 billion per year. Seems optimistic, as terrestrial companies will have to drop their prices, but competition is always welcomed.

* “The Info War of All Against All.” The re-litigating of epistemology is an interesting effect of the Internet.

* “The Provocations of Camille Paglia,” which is an overview of her work.

* “Secret Memos Show the Government Has Been Lying About Backpage.” You can trust the government.

* A penny for your books. From 2015 and still charming.

* Please add RSS support to your site, if it’s not got it already. There is much bleating online about privacy, platform diversity, etc., and little action towards improvement. This is a concrete action step that can be taken.

* “Michel Houellebecq, France’s Master Of ‘Materialist Horror’.” A better title than it sounds. I’m reading Rene Girard and keep thinking of Houellebecq.

* “How to review a novel.” Some fine points, but over time I’ve come to appreciate the reviews that are intelligent, but also personal and idiosyncratic. Many reviews manage to do the one or the other.

* A history of the “political” novel. Most sad but accurate is the second half of the essay, which discusses how the novel’s loss of centrality to the culture also means politicians (correctly) don’t feel they need to respond to novels. I have been annoying my literary friends by pointing out that decades of Philip Roth’s humanist and often political novels have brought us to McConnell-Trump—although this point would have scanned differently in 2011.

* Why housing is so expensive, from an unusual source.

* “What Happens When You Don’t Pay a Hospital Bill.” It’s astounding to me that we don’t better and further regulate hospital biling practices.

* Flight Shame: The Climate Hazards of Air Travel.

* “‘The Great Scattering’: How Identity Panic Took Root in the Void Once Occupied by Family Life.”

* Progress Studies, Some Initial Thoughts.

* Is Life Worth Living After 75? Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel Doctor Says No.

* The long-forgotten history of how carmakers invented jaywalking, and in the process stole the streets from humans.

Links: The summer of grammar, keep your politics/religion to yourself, epistemology many ways, and more!

* The long hot summer of grammar. My kind of summar. Summer, I meant; the spelling may be weak, but the grammar goes on.

* Woman spends tens of thousands of dollars getting an MFA: “I’m Emptying My Bank Account to Go to Columbia.” It would be a decent idea to teach financial literacy in school, including the “follow the money” principle.

* Google Doesn’t Want Staff Debating Politics at Work Anymore. Personally, I can’t imagine why.

* How the great truth dawned. On Russians, literature, religion, and other ideas of interest. Probably can’t be digested in a single reading, and that’s a positive.

* Analyzing Trinitite: A (Radioactive) Piece of Nuclear History.

* “Misinformation Has Created a New World Disorder: Our willingness to share content without thinking is exploited to spread disinformation.”

* “Bureaucrats Put the Squeeze on College Newspapers: The corporatization of higher education has rendered a once-indispensable part of student life irrelevant, right when it’s needed the most.”

* The neo-puritan revival. A weird trend to my thinking.

* Perhaps related to the link immediately above, “‘Luxury beliefs’ are the latest status symbol for rich Americans

* The info war of all against all.

* “ Standing Up to the Moral Outrage Industry: What we can learn from how Yale handled Sarah Braasch and the ‘napping while black’ incident.” I’d also note that there’s usually something amiss with someone who is a 44-year-old graduate student.

* “Software was eating the world — now landlords are eating everything.” We can more easily change laws than develop technology that doesn’t yet exist, however.

* The long game of research.It’s easy to forget how hard knowing things really is, especially in the immediate gratification attention economy.

Links: Childhood’s nature, life science progress, the culture of culture, the comedy of WeWork, and more!

* “We Have Ruined Childhood: For youngsters these days, an hour of free play is like a drop of water in the desert. Of course they’re miserable.” Freedom itself is weirdly out of fashion today, it seems.

* “How Life Sciences Actually Work.” Much more interesting, detailed, and important than you think from the headline.

* Once Upon a Time…Film Critics Became Joyless—A Review. This is me on Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.

* Sources of sex appeal that have some basis in the literature, although I would want to carefully check the methodology and reproducibility of all those studies before drawing any real conclusions.

* Land of the free, on the history of American nudism. Not prurient, if that is important to you.

* WeWork appears to be a comically bad business, as a potential investment.

* “American cities need to phase out cars.” More of the obvious.

* Why is Joe Rogan so popular? Better than a lot of the commentary on the subject, but still missing important pieces.

* Seattle rents drop as housing supply substantially rises.

* “The answer to ‘Will you mentor me?’ is no.” See also me on these subjects. Stephen Wolfram also has thoughts.

* How the Daguerreotype Started a Victorian Black Market for Pornography in London.

* How ancient poetry can revitalise our erotic imaginations.

* Even Columbia can’t get its English PhDs gigs.

%d bloggers like this: