Links: Crime and punishment, the fiction we read, power and access, genius, Outlier, and more

* “Mom Who Overslept While Son Walked to School Could Get 10 Years in Prison.” More modern madness enabled by extreme wealth.

* “When Popular Fiction Isn’t Popular: Genre, Literary, and the Myths of Popularity,” or, “Which kinds of book actually sell?”

* How “New Nuclear” Power Could Save the Planet—If Regulators Would Allow It. And, in addition, How Solar Power Could Slay the Fossil Fuel Empire by 2030. Exciting times.

* “Access Denied: The media, after access:” an essay more interesting than the title implies, and it could be read profitably in tandem with Arts & Entertainments by Christopher Beha.

* “Ink & Inclination: Living on Paper: Letters from Iris Murdoch 1934–1995,” an excellent review though it does not make me want to read the work under review. I’ve not read much Murdoch. Where should I start?

* A Chance Encounter, Reddit Marketing, and Forever Pants: One Startup’s Story. I have a pair. They’re great!

* Blank Space: What Kind of Genius Is Max Martin?

* Why people are angry about rising college costs.

* Why Chris Blattman worries that experimental social science is headed in the wrong direction.

* Is There a Future for the Professions? The writer must be around Philip Roth’s age, because I never recognized the veneration of “the professions” found in many of Roth’s books. Today, “developer” matters, and most other fields just don’t. The phrase “barriers to entry” never appears. Neither does “student loans.”

* After Paris and Beirut, It’s Time to Rein in Saudi Arabia, a point made too infrequently.

* When nothing is cool: On why so much academic criticism is completely, wildly bogus and trend-driven.

* A 26-year-old MIT graduate is turning heads over his theory that income inequality is actually about housing.

Links: Outlier pants, your microbiome, academia, words direct from Aleppo, MRSA, and more!

* “Burgers and fries have nearly killed our ancestral microbiome:” or how real food promotes good things in our guts, and vice-versa. Perhaps the most actionable piece you’ll read today. Plus: “Forget paleo, go mid-Victorian: it’s the healthiest diet you’ve never heard of.”

* “The Revenge of the Coddled: An Interview with Jonathan Haidt.”

* Are English departments better than what I, and possibly you, think? I hope so but I’m skeptical. Freddie also doesn’t have a TT job right now; we’ll see if he gets one and how his views might evolve over time. This is a good time to reiterate “What you should know BEFORE you start grad school / PhD programs in English Literature: The economic, financial, and opportunity costs.” Short version: Don’t do it.

* Aleppo-based VLC contributor speaks to the Paris attacks.

* “Saudi Arabia, an ISIS that has made it.” In political discussions I often point out that Saudi Arabia’s tone, values, and policies are diametrically opposed to the ones espoused by the American and European governments that often support Saudi Arabia.

* California’s DOT Admits [the obvious:] More Roads Mean More Traffic.

* A MRSA vaccine is in the works.

* Case Study: Outlier on Creating the 21st Century Jean. Has anyone worn these? I’m thinking about getting a pair.

* On Mary Gaitskill’s The Mare. Books about children rarely interest me (exception: Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials), but Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior is for the right person amazing.

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