Links: Good keyboard origins, housing as a cost center, vaccines, publishing, and more!

* “Cherry MX History: A German Company With American Roots.” Cherry makes the keyswitches in many, if not most, high-quality keyboards today. I still get emails about my Model M / Unicomp Customizer review, as well as my Kinesis Advantage review. Some have asked why I stopped writing keyboard reviews, and the answer is simple: there are many, many good keyboards out there today. To me, the differences among them are often marginal. When I wrote those pieces, fewer good keyboards were readily available. I’ve tried a couple new ones (e.g. the Ergodox-EZ, which is nice but a little too much like a science fair project for my taste), but the Kinesis works and it’s hard to envision one much better than it. With many tools, it’s best to find “good enough” and then stop. I found “good enough.”

* Renting is not “throwing money away.”

* China Is Trying to Wipe Taiwan Off the Map, and There’s Not Much Anyone Can Do About It.

* The erotics of mentorship. Things that are politically incorrect but interesting.

* The Democratic Party Picked an Odd Time to Have an Identity Crisis. Agreed.

* “Home Values Grew Most in Markets with Strictest Land Use Regulations.” Supply and demand continue to explain housing costs.

* The Education Department to require colleges to publish data on graduates’ debt and earnings by major. Good, and long overdue, like that library book the college requires you to pay for prior to receiving your diploma.

* “In upstate New York, an ecstasy-inspired psychedelic temple rises.” Have you read the new Michael Pollan book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence? It’s great.

* Anti-Vaccine Activists Have Taken Vaccine Science Hostage. Outrageous and true.

* Unions’ Fees Take a Hit After Decision From Supreme Court. Good news all around.

* Does Television Kill Your Sex Life? Microeconometric Evidence from 80 Countries. “Under our most conservative estimate, we find that television ownership is associated with approximately a 6% reduction in the likelihood of having had sex in the past week, consistent with a small degree of substitutability between television viewing and sexual activity.”

* The world is losing the war against climate change. Perhaps we ought to do something about that?

* Book publishing is actually a thriving business? Consider the source, though.

* Can American cities make room for the electric moped?” Sure hope so.

* Hollywood Doesn’t Make Movies Like ‘The Fugitive’ Anymore.

* “The New Housing Crisis: Shut Out of the Market.” We’re building less housing per capita than any other previous generation in the last hundred years. That’s why housing is eating the economy.

Links: The humanities crisis (measured), China’s history, lots about fires, Immigrant, Montana, and more!

* “Mea culpa: there *is* a crisis in the humanities.” Note that it’s also possible for lots of bad trends, like postmodernist nonsense, to endure for some period of time, but to eventually weaken the structure sufficiently for it to collapse. A system can endure a lot of strain before it gives way. People began calling the 2009 housing crisis as early as 2003 and 2004. People have been calling the crisis in the humanities for longer, but it may now finally be on us, in measurable ways.

* Why Was the 20th Century Not a Chinese Century?: An Outtake from “Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Long 20th Century.” Probably my favorite essay from this batch.

* Meet Brad Sewell, Campaign Furniture Founder and CEO. Overall, Campaign seems like an underrated company, though this interview is not very good. See also my essay, “Does Ikea enable mobility?

* Four or five times I ignored links to “The Big Business of Being Gwyneth Paltrow,” figuring the target is too easy and the essay would be stupid (I’ve read plenty of vapid profiles)—but I was wrong and the article is hilarious. Like “Frank Sinatra has a cold,” this may be a pinnacle example of the genre. The writer, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, deserves accolades for this. Looks like she hasn’t done any books. She should.

* “The childless, aging future.” Pretty depressing, seen like that. Another example of lost connections, perhaps.

* “The Peculiar Math That Could Underlie the Laws of Nature.” Interesting science journalism, but also: “Whether or how Furey’s work connects to string theory remains to be puzzled out. So does her future. She’s looking for a faculty job now, but failing that, there’s always the ski slopes or the accordion.” Perhaps it is not such a good idea to go to grad school. Or perhaps experts know something that didn’t make it to the article.

* Epistocracy: a political theorist’s case for letting only the informed vote.

* “How did the end of the world become old news?” Sample: “Last week, wildfires broke out in the Arctic Circle, where temperatures reached almost 90 degrees; they are still roiling northern Sweden, 21 of them.”

* “Erotic Exploration in Immigrant, Montana.” Not quite a novel I want to read but likely a novel some of you want to read.

* “The most relaxing vacation you can take is going nowhere at all.” Reading is underrated, hectic vacations overrated.

* “TSA is tracking regular travelers like terrorists in secret surveillance program.” Vile.

* “Why restaurants became so loud — and how to fight back.”

* Immigrant girl hides in auto shop after escaping from Florida detention facility; owner turns her in anyway. We might want to think about the kind of country we’re living in. I try not to post many outrage links, but sometimes it’s worth doing.

* SpaceX’s Secret Weapon Is Gwynne Shotwell.

* As California burns, many fear the future of extreme fire has arrived.

* Peter Thiel interview.

* Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change.

* How to write a book without losing your mind. I think “losing your mind” is a feature, not a bug.

Links: The parking scourge, what happened to institutions?, Houellebecq, semicolons, and more!

* “In Some US Cities, There Are Over Ten Times More Parking Spaces Than Households.” Should you be wondering why the rent is too damn high and the commuting times too damn long, this is part of the answer.

* “San Francisco’s zoning makes it illegal to build apartments in 73.5% of the city.” And that, friends, is another part of the reason the rent is too damn high.

* “‘Up or out’ institutional structures go sideways,” a piece similar to this previously linked piece that makes a similar observation.

* A story about leaving China, which is very different and more specific than “the usual,” while also offering some abstract lessons and ideas.

* “Linux touchpad like a Macbook: goal worth pursuing.” It is bad that Apple has had a far better touchpad experience for at least five years and arguably much longer.

* “Michel Houellebecq Imagined Sexual Dystopia. Now It’s Arrived.” I disagree with the absoluteness of the headline but the story is of interest.

* “#HeToo? A Fight for Men’s Rights, in California Courts.” A surprising venue for this story as well.

* “On Semicolons and the Rules of Writing.” I like and will continue to use semicolons, likely until I can no longer write.

* “What If Trump Has Been a Russian Asset Since 1987?” Still unlikely but much more likely than I would’ve thought two years ago—or even one year ago.

* “The Age of Acceleration: An Interview with Martin Amis.”

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

* I Was the Mob Until the Mob Came for Me.

* “A Global Heat Wave Has Set the Arctic Circle on Fire.”

* “In Hollywood, ‘Anything Goes’ Becomes ‘You’re Fired.’” Ill news for creativity and creative freedom.

* “California teacher pension debt swamps school budgets.” This is unsustainable, to use an overused word that is nonetheless applicable here.

* The childless, aging future.

* “A Theory of Trump Kompromat,” not just the usual.

* “Crossing the divide: Do men really have it easier? These transgender guys found the truth was more complex.” The short answer is “no.”

* “Academia Is the Alternative Career Path: Why pretend otherwise?” Seems totally obvious to me.

* Universities withstood MOOCs but risk being outwitted by OPMs [online programme managers]. Good.

* “Parking Has Eaten American Cities,” another take on the first link. You’ll know people are really serious about improving everyone’s economic and financial lives when they come for parking.

* “Book Breaking and Book Mending: Most academic books aren’t written to be read—they’re written to be ‘broken.’ That should change.” The subtext of this article is, “Don’t get a PhD in the humanities. Even if you do, and even if you ‘publish,’ what you publish will be of little value and will likely go unread.”

Links: Yet more on the humanities, what makes an author read, vertical farming, some unusual points, and more!

* “The Humanities as We Know Them Are Doomed. Now What?” I’d add a lot of “purportedly” to this title and article. There is also oddly little discussion of how the humanities have damned themselves, or ourselves, through the pursuit of advocacy and absurdity rather than truth or knowledge. This comic does more to explain the situation than many books.

* “Donald Trump and norms: Resistance needs substance.” Lots of context here, context that is lost in the typical discussion—especially on Twitter.

* “Through the Looking Glass at Concordia University,” which bolsters the first link: “Universities are in a state of crisis, but this crisis did not emerge overnight. It required an hospitable environment to take root. Some journalists and professors have dismissed the phenomenon as a form of moral panic, invented by right-wing provocateurs.”

* “Scholarly publishing is broken. Here’s how to fix it.”

* “Why commuting by public transport makes most people happier,” at least when the subways work.

* “A feminist makes a documentary about Men’s Rights Activists,” not the sort of thing one typically reads.

* He’s One of Brazil’s Greatest Writers. Why Isn’t Machado de Assis More Widely Read?

* “The Tunnel That Could Break New York.” I offer this for its own sake but also because it’s a sign of bad news in civic government; the U.S. better maintenance and more infrastructure, but it simultaneously needs to get costs under control and in line with other developed world countries. If costs are reasonable, voters will get on board. If not, they often won’t. The U.S. may also be suffering from the curse of “good enough.”

* Book culture in New York City.

* “Why capitalism won’t survive without socialism” is a bad title for a good interview with Eric Weinstein; he speaks of institutions with “embedded growth hypotheses” in them, and how those institutions have become dysfunctional over time:

Let’s say, for example, that I have a growing law firm in which there are five associates at any given time supporting every partner, and those associates hope to become partners so that they can hire five associates in turn. That formula of hierarchical labor works well while the law firm is growing, but as soon as the law firm hits steady state, each partner can really only have one associate, who must wait many years before becoming partner for that partner to retire. That economic model doesn’t work, because the long hours and decreased pay that one is willing to accept at an entry-level position is predicated on taking over a higher-lever position in short order. That’s repeated with professors and their graduate students. It’s often repeated in military hierarchies.

Academia suffers similarly.

* “Is Vertical Farming the Future of Your Salad?

* “On Toxic Femininity;” not at all my favorite phrase, but it’s revealing how little one hears it used.

* The Entire History of Steel.

* “Scientists assessed the options for growing nuclear power. They are grim.” Very bad news.

* The very rarely discussed dark side of Airbnb.

* The great Apple keyboard coverup. Good news: the new Apple laptop keyboards are likely resistant to the problems that have plagued models from the last two years. Bad news: models from the last two years are still prone to failure.

* American cities are drowning in car storage.

* “To Recruit Students, Colleges Turn to Corporate-Marketing Playbook.” Profs in humanities departments are probably aghast and impotent.

* Hoity lawyer prefers sexting to lawyering, although that is not the headline; still, I wonder what this tells us about the law and lawyers.

* “How Hospital Administrators Hide the Umbrella.”

* “If you haven’t read @devonzuegel’s post on North American vs Japanese zoning it will help you understand why Tokyo can be dense, highly populated, and cheap, and the US never seems to manage that.”

* How Helsinki Arrived at the Future of Urban Travel First.

Links: MacBook Pro woes, suburbs, the dark net, the puzzle around you, and more!

* “Apple Engineers Its Own Downfall with the Macbook Pro Keyboard.” I had a 12″ Macbook and returned it: the trackpad is absurdly large and, at that time, the keyboard problems were rumored more than proven.

* “Inside a Heist of American Chip Designs, as China Bids for Tech Power.”

* “The myth of revealed preference for suburbs.” Makes sense: if it’s illegal to build the housing people want to live in, they’ll have to live somewhere else.

* “A secret network of women is working outside the law and the medical establishment to provide safe, cheap home abortions.” Probably not that secret if it’s being written about publicly and widely linked online, no?

* “1896: Immigration and The Atlantic;” when it comes to immigration, the dates and specific examples change, but the basic arguments don’t.

* “California Will Be Fourth State to Sue Navient Over Student Loans.” My first impulse is to say, “Good,” but more reflections makes me hesitate; the student loan business exists because of us and fuels the growing costs of college, which in turn fuels the student loan business. We’ve set up this perfidious flywheel and have decided not to dismantle it. Strangely, too, no one or almost no one has tried to set up an academically rigorous, low-cost college. Virtually all colleges except community colleges are following or attempting to follow the Harvard model (tenure, academic “prestige” through “research,” etc.). Maybe it’s time to do something different?

* Andrew Sullivan on why we should say yes to drugs. Not just the usual.

* Grow the puzzle around you, by Jessica Livingston of Founders at Work.

* Review of the Purism 13″ laptop. Given some of Apple’s recent foibles, as noted above, alternatives to the MacBook Pro are important.

* “Can Andy Byford Save the Subways?” Many beautiful details in this story.

Life: There is clearly a universal eligibility to be rational and literate

“There is clearly a universal eligibility to be rational and literate. Sometimes snobbery is forced upon you. So let’s have a period of exaggerated respect for reason; and let’s look down on people who use language without respecting it. Liars and hypocrites and demagogues, of course, but also their fellow travelers in verbal cynicism, inertia, and sloth.”

—Martin Amis, The Rub of Time, a beautiful sentiment, especially the idea of rationality and literacy being universally available but not, as we can see, universally adopted. I want to start citing that one when I hear people denigrate standards. To join the clerisy you need no special degrees and there are no gatekeepers; you only need books, and time, and your mind.

Links: Reading, drugs, civility, The Deuce, the schools, and more!

* “Why We Don’t Read, Revisited,” on the American Time Use Survey and related topics. Ill news along many dimensions. See also “Reading, anyone?

* “The Quant King, the Drug Hunter, and the Quest to Unlock New Cures.”

* “‘Don’t burn the flag’ and 11 more rules for free speech.” “You have the right to do things you still shouldn’t do” is the takeaway here.

* “Sex workers vs. the Internet,” presumably SFW, and there is a novel or two in here. Also like SFW, “Pornhub is opening a futuristic, interactive art show.” Given the state of modern art, or “art,” I’d guess this to be better than the (low) average.

* “The War on Tesla, Musk, and the Fight for the Future.”

* “Florida, Full of Dread;” I ordered the book based on this review.

* “Microsoft Employees Up in Arms Over Cloud Contract With ICE.” And how could they not be?

* “‘As a human being, I can’t do that’: Worker at migrant holding facility quits over family separations.” A rare episode of apparent humanity in this despicable episode.

* “Why Women Don’t Code;” certainly not the final answer.

* “How The Deuce Turned Its Lens on a Female Porn Auteur;” it’s in Vanity Fair and so probably SFW.

* Why schools are inept at dealing with bullies—or deal with them poorly. If you guess that lawsuits have a role in this story, you are correct.

* “The trouble with Johnny Depp.” By now you’ve likely read the article, but, if not, here it is.

* “The Legacy of Interview Magazine and a Trip to 1988.”

* How to stop the decline of public transport in rich countries.

* Wendelstein 7-X achieves world record for plasma containment.

* Why alternate vehicles like bikes and scooters will conquer the city.

* Barents Sea seems to have crossed a climate tipping point.

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