Links: Kinlessness, Segway’s revenge, System76’s open-source hardware, hot sauce, and more!

* Kinlessness, a sad but very interesting piece.

* Segway was supposed to change the world. Two decades later, it just might.

* Another take on that mystery interstellar object that could be a discarded solar sail.

* System76 on US Manufacturing and Open Hardware. The company makes open-source desktops and laptops.

* What I Learned From Making Hot Sauce at Scale. I ordered some hot sauce based on this article!

* A lawsuit reveals how peculiar Harvard’s definition of merit is. The “Hebrew problem” has now become the “Asian problem” at Harvard.

* Why the Danes encourage their kids to swing axes, play with fire, and ride bikes in traffic.

* “The Saruman Trap: When power is corrupt, there is no way to escape its toxic influence.” My personal favorite in this batch, but I’m a sucker for anything LOTR.

* “Teachers Have a Responsibility: Two educators talk about teaching students to think critically, and keeping personal politics out of the classroom.” It seems obvious to me, yet I see too little of it.

* “GM’s electric bikes unveiled.” File under “Headlines I never thought I’d see outside of The Onion.”

* People Across the Country Are [Supposedly] Increasingly Worried About Climate Change—and It’s Changing How They Vote.

* “Think Professors Are Liberal? Try School Administrators.” I have seen some of the results, and they are not good.

* The Joe Rogan podcast with Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay; the latter two are responsible for the the Grievance Studies Scandal. It’s another version of the Sokal hoax. For a while I thought about blogging stupid humanities papers, but there were too many of them and (almost) on one seems to care. Plus, the Twitter account Real Peer Review is already doing the job. The most interesting thing about Boghossian and Lindsay on Rogan is the extent to which Rogan offers a very large, mainstream platform for their ideas. Word about academic chicanery is getting out.

* “Six Secrets from the Planner of Sevilla’s Lightning Bike Network.”

Links: The chair, the planet, Ursula K. le Guin, the problems on campus, and more!

* Anthropocene: why the chair should be the symbol for our sedentary age. I use a motorized sit-stand desk and you should too, if you’re a computer-type person who spends too much time at desks.

* “When Will the Planet Be Too Hot for Humans? Much, Much Sooner Than You Imagine.” This is essential reading and helps explain why I post so often about scooters, electric cars, etc. Right now the situation is unbelievably grim and yet almost no one acts like it. For more, see Peter Watts, The Adorable Optimism of the IPCC. I’m not quite as pessimistic due to the possibility of technological amelioration; Y Combinator, for example, is requesting that companies focused on carbon removal technologies apply.

* Always Beginning, on Ursula K. le Guin.

* Productivity, economics, technology, and much more in this nerdy interview.

* The life and death of a laptop battery, an interesting project. By the way: Apple just announced new MacBook Airs, which are probably the best mainstream laptop right now. They also announced new Mac Minis.

* Finally, the drug that keeps you young?

* Death of a bookman: the rise and fall of a publisher.

* How to build a Moon base. Have you read Andy Weir’s novel Artemis, which is set on a near-future moon base?

* “Sarah Kliff brings transparency to ER prices, one hospital bill at a time.” If you’ve been to an ER in the last couple years, please send Sarah copies of your mystery bills.

* Women challenging the “campus rape” narrative. Concerning Australia potentially importing the madness from the US.

* “Living Beneath the Ground in an Australian Desert,” in keeping with the theme from link #2, and also interesting in its own right.

* “‘Good Intentions Gone Awry’: Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff’s The Coddling of the American Mind. Book Review.”

* Quiet Day at a Pittsburgh Synagogue Became a Battle to Survive.

* Could the interstellar object Oumuamua be a lightsail from an alien civilization? Short answer: not real likely. Unfortunately, it’s also done a round trip out of the solar system, so we’ll likely never know.

Links: Student loans, loneliness, why identity politics are tedious, jealousy’s origins, and more!

* The Student Loan Debt Crisis Is About to Get Worse. Having observed the U.S. college system up close for a long time, I find it baffling that it’s managed to persist as long as it has. Actually, no: it’s persisted this long because young people don’t vote, and consequently no politician cares about their problems.

* To Prevent Loneliness, Start in the Classroom. A good thought, but it is striking to me how the safetyism obsession is probably increasing loneliness in schools. Lost Connections is also relevant reading here.

* New 100-mile electric van matches diesel vans on price, Workhorse says. Extremely good news if true.

* “The Right Finds the Perfect Weapon Against the Left: Conservatives are using identity politics to destroy liberalism from within.” Perhaps we ought to reduce identity based on demographic characteristics, which are (fairly, but not perfectly) immutable, and increase identity based on other characteristics—like what a person does or makes. We should also be thinking about how to improve the conversation, as I fear too few people are doing. Tyler Cowen wrote this article, and he also just released the book Stubborn Attachments, which, among many other things, attempts to do just that.

* Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab world needs most is free expression. This is the journalist who was murdered by Saudi Arabia in the Suadi consulate in Turkey.

* Where does jealousy come from?

* “This is exactly how a nuclear war would kill you: This is how the world ends — not with a bang, but with a lot of really big bombs.” From Vox. See also my essay on why I think Trump raises the likelihood of bad, extreme outcomes.

* An interview with Heather Mac Donald on her book The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture. Probably too reasonable to be read widely, but here it is.

* “Life Got You Down? Time to Read The Master and Margarita.” This is germane in many circumstances: “It’s a novel that encourages you not to take yourself too seriously, no matter how bad things have got.” I read it again, but I still don’t get it. Why does it start with so much about Ivan and Berlioz? What are the characters doing? Where are they going? What do they want? Why the ball at the end? The novel feels like a pointless ramble. Perhaps the fault is mine. Each individual sentence is easily understood but the characters and their motivations, if any, are opaque. Maybe that’s the “point,” but if so, then I still don’t enjoy the novel or need it to get to that point.

* On the new Francis Fukuyama book, and the man himself; I like the book.

* “Marxists against wokeness: For an antidote to today’s identitarian leftism, look to old-school radicals like CLR James.” This would at least be a net improvement.

* “How IBM’s Thinkpad became a design icon.” Modern Lenovo Thinkpads are still quite nice. Pity Lenovo quit making the OLED model.

* “The Emperor’s Woke Clothes: Campus Week: How did an elite, repressive minority policing speech and culture through political correctness come to browbeat the American democratic majority?” Something is wrong in a small number of nonetheless noisy universities.

* “A Remarkably Hard College Course Proves Remarkably Popular.” There’s also a distinct lack of postmodernist nonsense in it, as one Twitter person observed.

* “These Americans fled the country to escape their giant student debt.” Still, they seem not to be listening to market signals: “He then went back to school to pursue a master’s degree in comparative literature at the University of Colorado Boulder.” The market for humanities professors is soft and has been for decades.

Links: The climate of the climate, libraries, “Untrue,” chiles, definite optimism, and more!

* Do we have only twelve more years to avert climate crisis? Some readers have asked why I so often post about electric cars, Tesla, nuclear energy, zoning/housing, and micro-mobility (electric scooters, etc.). Those things are all bound up with the climate crisis. Although most writers consider all these issues as separate and distinct, they are actually interrelated, whether most writers realize this (or not).

* “The Case for Making Cities Out of Wood,” things I had not considered but that are very interesting.

* Growing Up in the Library.

* The Movie Assassin, one of the funniest essays I’ve ever read.

* “The ‘Untrue’ Woman: A new book makes the case for the primacy of the female libido, and for a societal reckoning with that reality.” I’m a bit skeptical; have you read it?

* “The Printed World in Peril.” If you’re like me, you’ve read this sort of thing many times in many guises, and yet something about the theme keeps you reading the next piece in the genre.

* “Saving the Prized Chile That Grows Only in Oaxaca’s Mountains.” Yum.

* “How Technology Grows (a restatement of definite optimism),” likely the most important piece in this batch.

* “Two Students Hooked Up. It Was Clearly Consensual. He Still Spent $12,000 Defending Himself.” Maybe universities ought to get out of the human housing business, which might curtail some of these absurdities.

* “To Avoid Climate Catastrophe, Your Transportation Choices Matter.”

* “Why you have (probably) already bought your last car.” Interesting, though I’m skeptical on the timing.

* “How an Anonymous Accusation Derailed My Life.” This is the sort of thing Quillette is publishing and that almost no one else will even touch.

* Stop obsessing about China.

* “‘We Didn’t Realize How Soon It’s Going to Come:‘ Is there anything that can actually stop the impending disaster detailed in the scary new climate report?”

* Former Google engineer on his experience working with censored products; vital reading.

* “The Crisis of Intimacy in the Age of Digital Connectivity.” See also my essay, “Facebook and cellphones might be really bad for relationships,” which seems underrated to me.

Links: SpaceX, academia, book length, book anxiety, hotel startups, batteries, and more

* A Weird MIT Dorm Dies, and a Crisis Blooms at Colleges; in keeping with The Coddling of the American Mind.

* “Horror is a dark and piercing reflection of our anxious times.” I was originally going to skip this, but it’s excellent and much better than the title implies. Highly recommended.

* The Printed Word in Peril: The age of Homo virtualis is upon us. Is this a requiem for a Gutenberg mind?

* Books are getting longer, and they probably shouldn’t be getting longer. Perhaps we have not yet learned that it’s not necessarily, the size, it’s how you use it?

* Should we have a “dumb investment” agreement through the SEC? Democracy and transparency are good, aren’t they?

* “‘We’re moving to higher ground’: America’s era of climate mass migration is here.” Shouldn’t this have already happened a while ago?

* Inside the eight desperate weeks that saved SpaceX from ruin.

* How San Francisco demolished the California dream via its own housing laws.

* 24-Year-Old Ritesh Agarwal Built a $5 Billion Hotel Startup in Five Years. Cool.

* Zinc-air battery is supposedly ready for commercial deployment and also supposedly offers lower cost than lithium-ion batteries.

* “‘This guy doesn’t know anything’: the inside story of Trump’s shambolic transition team.” Much more detailed and interesting than the usual, and it also remind me of my rare political-ish post, Trump fears and the nuclear apocalypse. So far we’ve been lucky: no potential pandemics, terrorist attacks, or new wars. As I wrote then: “Maybe nothing catastrophically bad will happen. I hope so and think that will be true. But to pretend he is a ‘normal’ politician (or to vote for him) is to be willfully blind to history and to the man himself.”

* Wim Ouboter, the Man Behind the Scooter Revolution.

* “Russian Elon Musk’ raped and tortured to death in custody, say experts.” I wonder why smart and competent-seeming people who can get out of Russia stay in Russia. For most of the last 200 years, if not longer, the smartest thing anyone in Russia could do was (and today is) get out of Russia. Staying seems to have limited upside compared to these very significant downsides.

* Are people finally figuring out that business school is pretty bogus?

* Car crashes killed 37,133 people in the US in 2017. Remember this when you hear about minor acts of terrorism and other news-worthy but not-that-dangerous news.

* Iron Ox, a new autonomous farm, wants to produce food without human workers.

* “That’s clearly a form of punishment, however informal or extrajudicial. But the punishment seems far from swift, certain or fair, based on decades-old accusations without contemporaneous corroboration, aired solely due to political contingencies, urged on by a left avid to convict him of something.” I have not said much about the saga, which leaves almost all of its partisans looking and sounding worse than before, and this is one of the few intelligent pieces I’ve read on it. Virtue signaling and mood affiliation are strong in most commentary about this.

Links: The book biz, Emergent Ventures, the cost of cars, and more!

* “French bookshops revolt after prize selects novel self-published on Amazon: Booksellers refuse to ‘jump into the wolf’s mouth’ and order Marco Koskas’ Renaudot-longlisted novel online.” Pretty funny for the usual reasons.

* Tyler Cowen’s *Emergent Ventures*, a new project to help foment enlightenment. Highly recommended. I don’t have a good emergent venture, though I’d love to do something education-related. Do you have such a venture? Do you know someone who might?

* A premature attempt at the 21st Century canon.

* “The Current Sex Panic Harks Back to the Era of Coddling Women,” but you may already know that.

* ‘For me, this is paradise’: life in the Spanish city that banned cars.

* How a Professor Was Punished for an Act of Citizenship. You are probably tired of reading these outrageous stories about universities behaving badly (I am), yet they appear so often that I link to some of them. See also, “The Coddling of the American Mind ‘Is Speeding Up.’

* Canadian marijuana stock soars to $12 billion. The headline is too celebrity-gossip for me, but the content is of interest as a sign of social change.

* “Why Is the Home Building Industry Stuck in the 1940s? Embrace pre-fabricated, adaptable homes!”

* RIP the celebrity profile.

* On Nassim Taleb’s The Black Swan.

* Very good podcast with Austin Allred of Lambda School, on education and many other topics. I still think that the perfidious combination of accreditation bodies and the federal student loan system will shunt Lambda School and others to the sidelines, but I hope to see the alternatives grow.

* One small change to New York’s intersections is saving pedestrians’ lives.

* George Mason University’s econ department culture; we all ought to move closer to that, I think.

* “These studies offer a realistic view of postdoc life—and guidance for making career decisions that work for you.” This is really depressing: “Most postdocs earned between $39,000 and $55,000, with 5% reporting earnings below $39,000 and 10% above $55,000.” That’s basically saying, “Don’t go to grad school in science, either, because you won’t make any money, even after five to ten years of additional school.”

* America Is Living James Madison’s Nightmare.

* Putting a dollar value on one of oil’s biggest subsidies: military protection. An underrated point.

Links: Open-access journals, revealed preferences, censorship, transit, and more!

* Data from online dating. Bad headline. The seven bullet points at the end are the most interesting (and un-PC) parts.

* Radical open-access plan could spell end to journal subscriptions. Good.

* Understanding postmodern conservatism, a more interesting piece than you’d think from the title.

* “Why are America’s elite universities censoring themselves on China?” Why do we expect them to? Why do buy into the concept of “elite” in this domain?

* “Study: Cities with more transit use could cut road deaths by 40%.” We’re literally willing to die to drive.

* “How Real News Can Be Worse Than Fake News: Too much information can lead to a cynical population that expects little from its leaders.”

* Clayton Christensen: Half of American colleges will be bankrupt in 10 to 15 years. Given cost increases, that would probably be a net improvement.

* “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.” A… not expected op-ed.

* But Rich People Live Here, So We Can’t Be Going Broke!

* Uber Was Right: The scooter backlash vindicates Travis Kalanick’s early tactics.

* Electric scooters are getting more and more popular. It’s time for big cities to embrace them.

* On Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook; in The New Yorker and not just the usual.

* The Chekhov Sentence That Contains Almost All of Life. The new Shteyngart novel sounds unbelievably terrible, but the essay is good.

* Fitted tees, scruff, and understated watches: the secrets of a Silicon Valley stylist. Hilarious.

* The Major Urban Revolution of Minor Transportation Means.

* “I doubt me an it be commercial.” On publishing, writing, and many other topics of interest.

* Fundamentals in fiction and the question of obligations.

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