Miscellanea: February 2019


99 Good News Stories You Probably Didn’t Hear About in 2018 – Angus Hervey

There’s a Problem With a Bunch of Psychology Textbooks – Jesse Singal at The Cut. “In a paper published last month in Current Psychology by Christopher Ferguson of Stetson University and Jeffrey Brown and Amanda Torres of Texas A&M, the authors evaluated a bunch of psychology textbooks to see how rigorously they covered a bunch of controversial or frequently misrepresented subjects. The results weren’t great.”

The financial world and the magical elixir of confidence – Matt Seybold at aeon.co

Mic shuts down, a victim of management hubris and Facebook’s pivot to video – Mathew Ingram at Columbia Journalism Review

Dymaxion Chronofile – Wikipedia. “The Dymaxion Chronofile is Buckminster Fuller‘s attempt to document his life as completely as possible. He created a very large scrapbook in which he documented his life every 15 minutes from 1920 to 1983. The scrapbook contains copies of all correspondence, bills, notes, sketches, and clippings from newspapers. The total collection is estimated to be 270 feet (80 m) worth of paper. This is said to be the most documented human life in history.”

The option value of civilization – Tyler Cowen quoting a commenter at Marginal Revolution

Four in-depth pieces on various facets of callout/victimhood culture:

Right Wing Nerds vs. the New Common Sense – Dain Fitzgerald at Splice Today. “’If I see someone in a Batman t-shirt, I no longer assume they’re a sensitive soul,’ laments Jennifer Wright at The New York Times. ‘Instead, I wonder if they harassed women during Gamergate or hang out on incel message boards talking about how Elliot Rodger was right to kill “blonde sorority sluts.”’

A Batman shirt did this.”

White Progressives Shifting Democratic Party to Left and Polarizing America – David French at National Review. “Whites jumped from 34 percent liberal to 54 percent. Only a minority of black and Hispanic Democrats call themselves liberal. Moreover, the liberal surge is driven primarily by college-educated white progressives — the exact people who occupy the commanding heights of American media, the academy, and pop culture. This white-liberal surge dovetails with other data, including the comprehensive “Hidden Tribes” study identifying left-wing polarization as being primarily driven by a “progressive activist” class that is disproportionately white, disproportionately college-educated, and disproportionately secular…And, again, white progressives aren’t just any American constituency. They’re the most culturally powerful people on the planet. This increasingly rapid secularization and liberalization makes national unity far more difficult. There are times when progressives can win and yet get more angry.”

A Witch-Hunt on Instagram – Kathrine Jebsen Moore at Quillette. Believe it or not, knitting is super problematic.

RIP Culture War Thread – Scott Alexander at Slate Star Codex. Scott has shut down the weekly Culture War thread at /r/SlateStarCodex: “During the last few years of Culture War thread, a consensus grew up that it was heavily right-wing. This isn’t what these data show, and on the few times I looked at it myself, it wasn’t what I saw either…Whatever its biases and whatever its flaws, the Culture War thread was a place where very strange people from all parts of the political spectrum were able to engage with each other, treat each other respectfully, and sometimes even change their minds about some things.

“People settled on a narrative. The Culture War thread was made up entirely of homophobic transphobic alt-right neo-Nazis…All these people definitely existed, some of them in droves. All of them had the right to speak; sometimes I sympathized with some of their points. If this had been the complaint, I would have admitted to it right away…But instead it was always that the the thread was “dominated by” or “only had” or “was an echo chamber for” homophobic transphobic alt-right neo-Nazis, which always grew into the claim that the subreddit was dominated by homophobic etc neo-Nazis, which always grew into the claim that the SSC community was dominated by homophobic etc neo-Nazis, which always grew into the claim that I personally was a homophobic etc neo-Nazi of them all. I am a pro-gay Jew who has dated trans people and votes pretty much straight Democrat. I lost distant family in the Holocaust. You can imagine how much fun this was for me.”



Aliens under the Ice – Life on Rogue Planets – Kurzgesagt on YouTube

Slaughterbots – Stop Autonomous Weapons on YouTube



God Emperor of Dune, by Frank Herbert (2/5): I tried. I really did. I wanted to like this book so much, and I intend to give the series another shot at some point in the future. But after a legendary first book and unsteady second and third books, God Emperor of Dune finally broke my spirit. I just don’t give a shit about breeding programs and lonely worm-gods and thirsty Amazon bodyguards anymore. I will hand in my nerd card at the earliest possible moment.

The Pocket Guide to Action, by Kyle Eschenroeder (4/5): Exactly what it says on the tin, a good collection of motivating meditations on doing.

Tools of Titans, by Tim Ferriss (4.5/5): My second time reading this was just as fulfilling as the first. There’s just so much information packed in this book that it’s impossible to use even 10% of what you come across in one reading, so if you’re like me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the sheer quantity of useful life hacks that you’d forgotten between reads.



The Dear Hunter – Wait

Puscifer – Rev 22-20

Scotland the Brave



Game of Thrones, Seasons 1-2: In an effort to get my nerd card back after the Dune debacle, I’m rewatching Seasons 1-7 of Game of Thrones in preparation for the eighth and final season. This is a very rewarding show to rewatch; so far, I’ve picked up on missed jokes (“cut off his manhood and feed it to the goats”), forgotten characters, and some big themes that I had lost in the details of episode-to-episode viewing. The biggest idea I’ve settled on so far is how much the violence and suffering in the show isn’t random, contrary to popular opinion. Rather, Game of Thrones enforces cause-and-effect so ruthlessly that many viewers, conditioned to expect good consequences from foolish actions, believe their favorite characters are being punished by a capricious creator. The seeds for the middle, however, were sown in the beginning, and if the showrunners did their job, so were the seeds for ending.

True Detective, Season 1: Easily one of the best single seasons of television I’ve ever seen. Everything I can think of is flawless: the casting, the acting, the pacing, the Southern-Gothic, fever-dream setting. Even better, it transcends the usual boundaries of hard-boiled mystery to ask provocative questions about religion, power, and why people—the good and the bad—do what they do.

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